Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Kronwall, Sioux Out

Last night in the Wings/Avs preseason game, Dan Hinote hipchecked Niklas Kronwall, and while no official word has come out on his injury yet, Coach/Badass Mike Babcock said that "He looks like he's going to be out for a while". That is very very disappointing, and overshadows another great game in net by Jimmy Howard. Kronwall was the brightest star of training camp and the preseason thusfar, and was looking like he was going to have a breakout year. Don Shane apparently just reported that he'll be out 6+ weeks, which is still promising because the first thing I thought of was "ACL Tear, done til March". Hopefully they'll have him back by the end of November.
UPDATE: According to MLive, who always seems to get the scoop on the Freep and Detroit News, Kronwall has some ACL and MCL damage, and will be re-examined on Friday. The team is hoping that it isn't season-ending. Ugh.

Howard allowed just 2 goals on 32 shots last night against a full-Avs team, despite having only one Detroit regular in the lineup (Niklas Kronwall...go figure. He wasn't even supposed to be playing but Rivers tweaked a groin). He wasn't listed as a star of the game, but by some accounts kept the Wings in it and stood on his head yet again. I've said it before, I'll say it again. He's Detroit's starter next year. He was an absolute steal in the second round.

On, they have a link to a preview of NBC's Season Preview Show "Fresh Ice". NBC's coverage for the season will include not a stupid glow puck, but GOALIE CAM!!!! It's friggin sweet. Open the link in Media Player and check it out.

The NCAA announced today that it has denied North Dakota's appeal to be removed from the list of teams who are not allowed to use their Indian-offensive nicknames in postseason play. They did, however, allow North Dakota to still host the NCAA Hockey Tournament west regional without removing the Indian logos. But they will not be selected to host another postseason event, despite the Taj-Mahal they've got in Grand Forks. Ralph Engelstad must be spinning in his grave...unless he's too busy ethnically cleansing the afterlife.

F1 may be on the way outs as a racing series. Chrysler, Renault, BMW, Honda, and Toyota met today and said they're going ahead with plans for a breakaway racing series to start in 2008. They want more equality in a series that has long been dominated by Ferarri and is essentially governed by a dictatorship. FIA President Max Mosley said "'It is becoming in my view, increasingly unlikely that (a new racing series) will happen,''' Mosley said. He suggested the manufacturers and the teams lacked the financial resources to run a new series." according to TSN. Really? Chrysler, BMW, Honda and Toyota don't have enough finances to run a racing series? Methinks he's been into some of this Kool Aid.

The Hockey News put out a list of their top 50 NHL players, and inexplicably Robert Lang is omitted. How? The guy would have led the entire league in scoring in 03-04 but for a late-season abdomen injury. He single-handedly took the Red Wings to the second round of the playoffs, and damn near won them that series, despite a broken hand. The guy may not be as flashy as Kovalchuk or Hedjuk or Sakic or some of those guys, but he always produces, and I'm very excited to have him in the red and white for a full season.

Michigan was ranked #2 in both of the CCHA Preseason Media polls, behind Ohio State in each of them. Gotta say, that's probably right. OSU brought back most of their team, they've got a pretty capable goalie in Caruso, and Michigan has a lot of question marks. I don't agree with UAF being ranked behind UNO. Neither team loses a whole lot offensively, but UNO lost Chris Holt and that's a pretty tough loss to overcome. Especially to leave them at #5 in the preseason poll. UAF could be pretty good this year. If UNO had Holt back, I'd be tempted to put them at #3 but as it is, I think they're going to struggle. That said, I honestly don't know anything about their new goalie so I might be talking out of my ass.

And umm...that's not a typo. As of right now, the Michigan/MSU game from Yost on Oct. 22 is not on TV. And Comcast Local is slated for a MAC Football doubleheader. Might not have any live coverage for that one, folks. A lot of Michigan games on CSTV, which is nice considering our local cable provider still doesn't freaking have the station. It would also be nice to...oh I don't able to see the 4 part special they're airing/going to air? about Jack Johnson. Grr CSTV! Grr Comcast!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I'm a Spoiled Little Brat

I think I just might be the only person in the world that has felt like he got punched in the stomach when he found out that he's got center-ice season hockey tickets.

My tickets for Michigan hockey this year are in between the red line and blue line on the end that we'll be defending twice. And yet I felt like throwing up when I found that out. The last two years I've been on the glass in the end where we play offense twice, and I absolutely loved it.

Any photo on MGoBlue that you see? I'm in there. Critical faceoff late in the game? There's Milan Gajic laughing at the latest sign on my dry-erase board. Finnish goalie? Here's a sign in Finnish saying that he's a sieve that ends up getting mentioned on INCH (Not as cool as being linked by Feldman, but still....). Whomping on Notre Dame, keep track of the number of goals scored in the season series on the dry erase board (Final total: Michigan 40, ND 7) and greatly embarass Chris Trick. AJ Thelen learned that he's fat and jumped into the glass to try and knock the sign down. AJ Thelen's mom stole that sign, and quickly learned that the Yost student section has each other's some random student ran over there and stole it back for me.
Where did Porno Moustache originate? Look no further than our group.

And now? I'm at center ice. My view of the game will be better. I'll actually get to see how we manage to give up goals on the far end. But making signs on the dry-erase board will have no effect since I'm not on the glass. I can't even cuss out the players on our team that I don't like (Thankfully Eric Werner is gone) since I'm right behind the Michigan parents.

Maybe I'll get to the game Sunday and find out that I really really like my seats. The ones on the glass weren't real conducive to having the slightest idea what was going on in the northeast corner of the rink, and it was sometimes tough even seeing the play around the north goal. This should make for having a better view of the entire ice, and I'll get to watch Jack Johnson more, which is always a good thing. But I can't help but already miss getting to watch one of the highest scoring teams in the country go to work for 2 periods, while at the same time having the best seat in the house to make fun of the opposing players.

I guess being in the house is what's important, right?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Another Stellar Football Weekend

Let's talk about Michigan first.

This season is sapping my excitement for football right out. I can't even bring myself to bitch and holler at the TV during Michigan games anymore because I know how they're all going to turn out. When Henne went John Navarre and sacked himself on the last play of the game, I just laughed (and Johnny did that on the same field the last time we played the Badgers). It was a fitting end.

If it weren't for the hockey coverage and The Fort message board, I'd probably be cancelling my Rivals membership right now, because I just don't give a damn about football recruiting anymore. How many years have we brought in these great classes, only to see it not pan out on the field. Burgess and Crable and Mundy oh my! We're set for the next 4 years. Except that Burgess is only now starting to become a decent linebacker, Charles Drake Mundy hurt his shoulder--not by tackling someone I assume--and it may have actually helped the team, and the only thing Crable has contributed was his absolutely hilarious "WHY WE ONLY GOT FOUR GUYS????" comment during a Michigan Hockey penalty kill. I'm fully confident that we could bring in 15 5 star guys next year and still manage to go 9-3 every year.

If we lose to Michigan State this weekend, as is looking pretty likely, there need to be some answers. That'd be 3 losses in the first 5 games of the season, 2-5 over the last 7 games, and we'd be able to say that we've lost our last game to MSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Iowa, and our bowl game. That's not an elite program. That's not a second tier program.

I love Lloyd Carr to death, but I'm starting to wonder if this shouldn't be the end of an era. I know the man has made back to back Rose Bowls, won back to back Big 10 titles, but holy crap. If it's not the end of Lloyd, it sure as hell better be the end of some of his staff. I know he said before the season that he'd never let anyone tell him what to do in terms of his staff, but something needs to be changed in this program.

We're losing more regularly, we haven't escaped our first road game unscathed since I was a freaking senior in high school, and I've got my degree from U of M now. We're staring 4 out of 5 against Ohio State in the face. We've lost 3 of 4 to ND. We've lost 3 of 4 bowl games. And on top of that, we're a freaking underdog against Michigan State. What dude?

What do these numbers have in common: 31, 34, 28, 45, 30, 28, 38? Those are how many points we've given up in our bowl games since the national championship year. That works out to a 33.4 average. That's not acceptable.

As for the game itself....first off, anyone harping on Michigan going for it on 4th and goal from the 1 and not getting in should punch themselves in the face. I understand some people saying that on the road, you take the points. But I also don't believe for a second that when Henne and co. stayed out on the field that nearly every Wolverine fan out there wasn't applauding the decision, and saying that Lloyd finally got some balls. It didn't work, so be it.

The 9 second field goal...Lloyd said that he wasn't aware that they put time back on the clock. Well if he didn't, then he's dumb. Just dumb. It's a dead ball penalty but you don't think they're going to put time back on the clock? If he thought they weren't putting time back on, then he should've been in the refs' face to get him to put time back on. Not an excuse.

Henne still looks awful. I can't believe how that guy has regressed. Breaston is invisible, and Manningham should be starting. If Breaston is that banged up, maybe he should stop fielding every damn punt that's skipping along the ground before he gets himself killed.

I still love how Max Martin runs. If that kid could just hold on to the damn ball.........We miss Mike Hart bad. I think a healthy Hart will go a long way toward making Henne and the others look better, but there's still no reason that we shouldn't have beaten that joke of a team by 10+ points.

The defense looked pretty good again I thought. It was just at the end of the game when they had been on the field for the whole half that they started to fold. Next week is the big test though. We'll see then if they've actually learned anything in the last 8-9 months. I'm worried.

As for the Packers, I could pretty much just repost my post about last week's game, "The Little Things" because it was the same thing again. I'm going to say this again. The NFL needs to do something about these turnovers that can't be reviewed. The Packers lost 7 points because of it. They ruled Griese's arm was coming forward and blew the play dead (very late I might add) as an incomplete pass. Too bad the replay showed it wasn't even close. That should've been a fumble and touchdown. But they couldn't even get the ball when they reviewed it. Sherman's challenge was upheld and the result was a loss of 7 yards for the Bucs. Yippee. There's just no arguing that something needs to be done about that. If instant replay is supposed to correct huge errors by the refs, then they need to find a way to review down by contact rulings, and plays where they rule the QB's arm was coming forward. 7 points is the difference in that game--and it would be in a lot of NFL games in this era of parity. They can't take plays like that away from teams every week and not expect it to have an impact.

Favre needs to realize that the team he plays for just isn't that good, and instead of trying to carry them to a victory every week, just rein it in a little bit, and not force things. They can't overcome 2 or 3 picks every single week. He needs to stop throwing the ball up for grabs when he doesn't have JWalk there to come down with it. The defense is much better than I thought it would be, but there's nothing you can do when the Bucs run 22 plays in Packers territory out of 25 in the first half.

The guards are horrible. There's just no room for Ahman Green to run. I wonder how much longer they can go with Will Whittacker at RG, especially when their 4th and 5th best offensive linemen are sitting on the bench in Kevin Barry and Scott Wells. Sherman has to be considering the idea of moving Tauscher to RG and putting Barry in at RT. I know they don't want to do that, because it would basically eliminate their U-71 package, but to be honest, it hasn't worked at all this year. I think teams have figured it out a little better, and it's kind of obvious when they run to the side of the 3rd tackle every single time. They don't pass out of that formation, they don't run to the other side in that formation. Yes it helps to have a 6th offensive lineman in there, but when 2 of them are crap and the defense knows where you're going to run, the benefit goes away in a hurry.

Wells looked pretty good at center last year, and they were projecting him as a guard. He's gotta be better than Klemm. Klemm is pretty good as a pass blocker, but that guy can't move and they need someone that can do that for their run plays.

The defense If they can get Jim Bates some talent in this offseason, I'd love to see what he could do. They did a great job on Cadillac until the last drive, and the pass defense didn't do too badly either. They're exactly middle of the pack in YPG, exactly middle of the pack in PPG given up, and middle of the pack against the pass and against the run. And that's with an extreme lack of talent. The only thing missing is takeaways. They've only got 1 in 3 games (though 2 were called back by down by contact and shouldn't have been). But that will come with more playmakers on that side of the ball. They need another pass rusher and they need a playmaker in the secondary. I'm fully convinced at this point that Bates is the answer, and I hope they can keep him around long enough to let him make a true impact.

I can't believe the parallels that are running between Michigan and the Packers. If you told me before the year that GB's defense would be 14-16 in most major categories, and that Michigan's defense would play the way they have, and they'd combine to lose 5 of their first 7 games, I would have been shocked. These were two of the most highly regarded offenses in the country and neither has performed even close to expactations. It's disappointing.

I'm not sure what else can go wrong for the two of those football teams. Losing on a missed PAT after you lose 10 points directly from bad no-calls (an intentional grounding flag was picked up that would've knocked the Bucs out of FG range and forced a punt). Ugh.

One more note: You don't always get to hear this kind of thing in the crowd, and it's one of the reasons that I like timing the Michigan soccer and field hockey games so much. In the monsoon yesterday at the Michigan soccer field, Steve Burns put in Tolo Olowolafe with about 20 minutes left in the game. The ball went in on goal and Olowolafe pulled up. The goalie ended up bobbling the ball, and Burns yelled "Tolo! Play that ball right into his hands, he's bobbling everything!"

With just over a minute left in regulation time, Jake Stacy played the ball into the box, the goalie came diving out to play it and it skipped off his hands. Olo was chasing the ball down and after it came off the goalie's hands he had a wide open net for the winning goal. Big win for the Wolverines to open the Big 10. They lost 5-0 to Northwestern last year in the B10 Tourney and the Wildcats returned pretty much their whole team. Nice win in those conditions, capitalizing on their only shot on goal of the game.

Starting to get excited about hockey. The Wings are looking great in the preseason, and Michigan hockey plays their first exhibition game on Sunday. Nothing like dropping 15 goals on a Canadian team to help you forget this joke of a football season. That game could get really ugly. Toronto lost 15-1 to Lake State last season. I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, September 23, 2005

NHL's FANtastic!

I didn't get to watch too much of the Wings/Avs preseason game thanks to the Lost double-dip on ABC, but I watched a good portion of the Wings/BJs game last night. I know you can't take too much from a preseason game, but a few thoughts from the last couple of nights:


-I wouldn't wish a groin injury upon any man, but the longer I can go without seeing Chris Osgood in the Wings' net, the better.

-Niklas That kid's a player. I don't care if he was playing against mini-mites out there, it's obviously. You may not be able to tell a ton from preseason games, but you can tell this kid is a stud. And playing in Sweden's Torpedo system for a few years isn't going to hurt him with the new rules in the NHL. He's already taking full advantage of the lack of 2 line passes. At one point, he shot a pass from his own goal line down the ice to Draper at the opposing blueline for a breakaway. And since it was Draper on the breakaway, you know how that one turned out.

-Jimmy Howard is going to be good too. He let in a softie, but the talent is there for that kid to be a big game goalie. The game tonight isn't on, but we're up 2-0 on Dallas after 2 and I guess he's kept the Wings in the game (which is very believable with the roster they're using tonight...Holmstrom and Schneider are the only regulars in the lineup).

-The Wings have such a nice balance back on defense. Schneider, Lidstrom, Kronwall, Delmore and yes Fischer can all move the puck really well. Then they've got Lilja (who I haven't seen yet...he's hurt), Chelios, Rivers who are all solid in their own end (not to say that Lidstrom and Schneider aren't!). Delmore can really move the puck, but that kid can't play a lick of defense. Think Danny Richmond here. He had 3-4 real bad giveaways. They don't call him Any Elmore for D at all. And there is the reason that he was struggling to catch on despite pretty darn good offensive numbers.

-Lang is just a pure sniper. Everyone seems to forget that he's on the team, and he's really probably their best forward. It's going to be really nice having him in the lineup for a full season. Lang/Datsyuk/Zetterberg/Lidstrom/Schneider power play? Yes please.

-Hudler looked great. Our badass coach thought he played well, but that it was an effort that was overdue.
“I said, ‘Are you the guy I saw at the start of camp, or are you the guy who’s competitive right now?’” Babcock said. “If you are prepared to compete and you have that skill level you are going to be good.

“I watched him a few times in the minors last year and he wasn’t good at all. He has to decide.”

“Hudler had some jump today, but why doesn’t he play hard all the time? If you can be good one time, you can be good all the time, so what’s going on there mentally?”
-Tomas Kopecky looked pretty good last night too. This was a guy who was right up at the top of our prospect rankings, and has gone into a tailspin since then. He played pretty well last night though. He's going to need a lot more of those efforts if he's going to make the league, but at least it was something.

-Franzen has 2 tonight. I wish I could see this kid. It's 2-2 now. Howard's given up 2 in the third. But keep in mind we're playing NO ONE tonight. I'd be pissed if I paid to go to that game and see the Grand Rapids Griffins play.

-I love the new rules. Absolutely love them. There's no reason that 2 line passes and tag up offsides shouldn't have been in the game all along. We're going to have some sub 2 1/2 hour games this year. They're just flying along.

-In other preseason action, tonight Eric Nystrom got his first NHL "goal". Congrats Ny! I hope he makes the Flames. I guess Danny Richmond scored for Carolina last night too. If he makes their team, am I required to put him on my Michigan team in NHL2k6 when the roster update comes out?

-Tambellini practiced with Michigan yesterday after getting sent down by the Kings. No word on if Red was grunting in his office, and putting a scope on him the whole time.

-Next Sunday is the Michigan exhibition opener against Toronto. If they use that screwed up rule about having the center line determine when the zone is cleared, after the blueline is gained, Michigan is going to score 15 goals and our power play is going to be like 80%. I can't wait. It's always fun to bust on the Canadian teams and then piss em off by not playing their anthem.

-The IndyCars are at Watkins Glen, love those road courses! They had rain today, and I kind of hope it rains on Sunday there. I love watching races in the rain and it's been forever since I've seen one. I just bought a piece of Bryan Herta's 2000 racecar on ebay. Whooo!

Monday, September 19, 2005

"He said 'We have a deal'"

According to Mlive, TSN, and Yahoo, Pavel Datsyuk is coming back to the Red Wings "Unless [ken holland] has a major curve thrown at [him]"...


If it happens, I'll boo his ass for the first game, and after that I'll welcome him back with open arms. I'm fine with a two-year deal and I'm not sure why Holland was so dead-set against it all along.

Greenstin played him like a fiddle.

Michigan's Walking Wounded and an I Told You So to NASCAR

In Lloyd's press conference today, he stated that Ryan Mundy is likely out for the year, due to a shoulder injury that obviously didn't come from tackling someone. He then had this classic answer to a question about the rest of Michigan's walking wounded:
On Michigan's other injured: "I can't tell you. Until we practice … every week you've got a new game plan, different challenges. We've got to be prepared to go with people who have practiced. Whether or not any of those guys will practice, I can't tell you.

"What I can tell you is, I haven't had any reason to believe they will, or won't. What I'm saying is, they all want to play. They were all getting treatment yesterday [Sept.18]. They all were getting treatment this morning, this afternoon.

"I know this – every one of them will do everything he can do to be prepared to play. Now, Doug Dutch came down with a 103-degree temperature last Friday and was ruled out of the game. I expect Doug back."
What a roundabout way of saying absolutely nothing! I love Lloyd.

Also today, NASCAR announced their penalties for rough driving and using naughty words in yesterday's race. Robby Gordon got docked 50 points for trying to back his car into Michael Waltrip after a wreck and almost nailing Tony Stewart (which would've led to a fight, and it would've been awesome since Stewart would've gotten his ass kicked) then proceeding to throw his helmet at Waltrip's car. Oh, and he said a dirty word. Waltrip got docked 25 points for a naughty gesture. And Kasey Kahne got docked 25 points and put on probation for the rest of the season for drilling Kyle Busch after Busch wrecked him.

NASCAR dipshit President Mike Helton had this to offer:
“There have been a growing number of incidents lately where drivers have taken matters into their own hands. Such unsafe and inappropriate behavior has to stop,” said NASCAR President Mike Helton. NASCAR will use whatever means necessary to stop it.”
And Mike? Where did this all start? Oh yeah, at Bristol when you let Dale Jarrett "take matters into his own hands" and didn't do anything to him, even though he ruined Kevin Harvick's season in the process of getting revenge on Ryan Newman. He could've nipped it in the bud, by simply parking Jarrett for the rest of the race like I suggested (not here...because I never felt like writing about my favorite driver getting his season ended for no reason, but in a profanity-laced tirade to my father after the incident). Helton's an ass-clown. Whoops, I used a dirty word. I guess that's a 25 point fine in my NR2003 season. Crap.

The Red Wings open the exhibition season tonight against the kind-of-sort-of defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Do they still get to be the defending champs? Have they kept the Stanley Cup all this time? Inquiring minds want to know.

Not pictured in the MGoBlue photo gallery from the men's soccer game yesterday is a picture of the Kentucky coach absolutely spazzing after getting ejected, telling the official "I'm going to send the tape in and they'll see what a cheater you are!" to which the ref replied "The only thing that they'll see is that you are a lousy coach." High comedy. Also not pictured are the refs arriving late, and the UK coach getting carded for freaking out about it.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Little Things

"The little things, the little things mean everything"-Matthew Ryan

Quick thoughts about the Wolverines game before I get on to the Packers:

--It's hard to tell too much based on the competition, but I really like the way Max Martin runs when he's not fumbling. I also like how Manningham looks, and I liked the Antonio Bass at QB sets. It was nice to see Breaston almost take one to the house.

--I didn't like Michigan putting Leon Hall back returning punts when we had a 45+ point lead. If there's one player on this team that we cannot afford to lose, it's Hall. So why expose him back there in garbage time?

I don't have a whole lot else to say about that game. Henne wasn't great again, and I could've done with a couple more deep balls to try and work out his timing with Breaston, but apart from that they did what they needed to do. Won big, played good defense, got a lot of guys some significant PT. As long as the injured offensive linemen are good to go next week, I can't complain about that game.

And I whole heartedly agree with Mgoblog. That was by far the best halftime show I have ever seen. Whoever came up with that should be very proud of themselves, because it was frickin hilarious. And pretty much everyone I overheard thought the same thing.

Onto the Packers game:

My biggest pet peeve in football that in the NFL, there's no way to review a play in which the runner is ruled down by contact. This goes back to Jerry Rice's fumble in the 1999 Wild Card game against the Packers, which was ruled down by contact. If it was called correctly, the game is over. Instead the 49ers win on the last play. Now back then, instant replay didn't exist so it didn't matter so much. But six years later, that particular call continues to irritate the hell out of me.

I can't tell you how many times I've seen it, where a player is ruled down by contact and on the replay shown, it turns out that the ball came out. What's irritating is that on almost every other turnover, replay can be used to determine if a change of possession should take place. Did the guy actually intercept the pass? Did he get a foot (or two) in bounds? Was the QB's arm coming forward? Did the running back's knee hit the ground before he fumbled? All of those things can be reviewed and overturned. Except for "did the player fumble before his knee hit the ground". The only idea I have to fix that is for the ref to let the play play out, then issue his ruling on the field. If he thinks the guy was down, let the fumble play out, then blow the whistle and say "the ruling on the field is that the player was down by contact" and let the coach challenge if he thinks otherwise. That way, there's at least still an option to review it.

I thought my team finally caught a break with that rule in the Notre Dame game. Much to my chagrin, in college that play is apparently reviewable, provided that the fumble is recovered before the whistle blew. If I'm not mistaken, if Henne's fumble occurred in an NFL game, it would not have been reviewable.

Today, it made a difference in the Packers/Browns game. Cleveland fumbled, GB recovered. It was ruled down by contact. The Browns got a free field goal out of it, and the difference in the game was two points. Now, I'm not stupid enough to think that if Cleveland turns it over, Green Bay automatically wins by one. So much happened from that point on, that it's impossible to say how the game would have played out (it's not like the 49ers/Packers playoff game where the game was over if the right call was made). But that brings me to the title of this post. The Little Things.

Basically what it comes down to is that Green Bay is not a good enough team to have things like that go against them. They're not good enough to have a team be given three free points. They're not good enough to overcome a red-zone interception of Favre, taking away 3 if not 7 points. They're not good enough to continually give teams free first downs on illegal contact calls (legit or not). They're not good enough to have their rare forced-turnovers taken away (either by penalty (Al Harris) or by a quick whistle (the fumble).

The margin for error is so slim with that team, that these little things just add up. When you combine the 3 free points Cleveland got with the 3 points Favre threw away when he tossed that jump ball up (not to mention the 7 points Cleveland scored on the ensuing play), and add it to 4 potential points that were taken away when Driver was clearly interfered with on a third down pass that he didn't miss by much, you're talking about 1o points (or 17). Some teams can overcome that. Unfortunately, mine is not one of them. And it's too bad because that's a game that could've been won. Better teams don't make mistakes like that, and better teams don't need a perfectly officiated game.

That said, barring a tie in either game tomorrow, there will be only 3 teams in the NFC sitting at 2-0. And they're still only 1 game out of first in a bad, bad division. 7-8 wins may end up taking the NFC North, as all four teams are pretty bad. Especially the Vikings, holy crap. But as much as I want GB to rebound and win the division for the 4th straight year in a row, it might be best if they just hit rock bottom for a year. They'll have 30-40 million in cap space for next season, and adding an impact player or two through the draft might be just what the doctor ordered.

The other thing that really bugs me (and this goes for any sport) is consistency with the officials. I don't care if you want to call it illegal contact every time there's contact after 5 yards. I don't care if you let it go unless it makes a difference in the play. But for Crissakes, call it both ways. It's not that hard. There's no excuse to let things go like Driver getting pushed off his route 15 yards downfield when you've been calling penalties on the defenders the entire day. It's just stupid. Oh, and it bugs me when coaches can't figure out whether to go for 1 or 2. It's not that hard, and you're paid hundreds of thousands--if not millions of dollars. It's just math and common sense.

Random fact about the Packers game: Favre now has the record for most TD passes in a single stadium with 181 at Lambeau. He passed Elway's 180 at Mile High today. And he joined the 50,000 passing yard club. That's roughly 28.4 miles. Yikes.

Hockey SID Matt Trevor is putting up "Getting to Know You" profiles of all 11 hockey freshmen. Some of the quotes in there are just hilarious. The best part of the feature is at the end of each one, he tests them on how quickly they can name the other 10 freshmen.

Datsyuk still hasn't made up his mind, but the silence out of Russia leads me to believe he ain't coming back.

Nascar is cracking down on people wrecking other drivers intentionally 3 weeks too late. They parked Kasey Kahne for the entire race today, after he wrecked Kyle Busch. I'm sure Kevin Harvick is saying "Thanks a lot" after Dale Jarrett ruined his season at Bristol and only faced a 2 lap penalty. Junior, Harvick, and Gordon got a nice jump on next season...all finishing in the top 15.

Monday, September 12, 2005

My Datsyuk Conspiracy Theory

Once again, I'm relaxing my "No posting about Datsyuk" moratorium because I had a notion.

Datsyuk was supposed to decide where he was playing Sunday. It got pushed back to today. Now Datsyuk is saying he needs another week to think about it. In the time since the first reports that he signed with a Russian team came out, Ken Holland has not only upped his offer over the maximum he said he could go (and over what other players of Datsyuk's caliber are making), he also offered Datsyuk a contract that will make him an unrestricted free agent after just two seasons.

This was an absolutely brilliant move by Datsyuk's agent, if he had this planned from the beginning. Think about the start of summer, there's roughly 400 free agents out there in an uncertain market. Holland and Datsyuk's agent start talks, and it appears that the offer was in the low $3 million range. They were at a stalemate throughout the summer, and in creating that stalemate, Datsyuk's agent held Holland hostage. Holland couldn't sign any of the plethora of players out there, because he wouldn't have enough cap room to get Datsyuk signed. Throughout the summer, more and more guys signed. Suddenly, the only guy left on the market that's worth a damn is Peter Bondra.

Then, Greenstin played his other card. Leveraging Russia against the Red Wings. Now, Holland is faced with a situation where the guy he's waited all summer to sign (and spurned loads of other free agents) has an offer just as good, if not better, to play in his homeland, tax free. So now he's forced to cave on not only money but also on the term of the contract.

It was brilliantly played by Greenstin, whether this is what he intended or not. The only question now is where will he end up. A theory going around some of the Red Wings boards I read is that he doesn't want to play for Dynamo, he wants to play for Onsk. So he's kind of using the Wings as HIS plan B, in case the arbitrator rules that Dynamo holds his rights.

In essence, he and his agent have put the Red Wings in the position that they need him more than he needs them. And he's done it in a world where roughly 2/3 of the league didn't have a contract. Very craft. He played Holland like a fiddle. Shocker.

Oh, and in addition, once Datsyuk had apparently signed a deal to play in Russia, that upped the emphasis on signing Zetterberg. So Holland offered him more than he probably wanted to pay--and probably more than Zetterberg could have gotten if Datsyuk signed in Detroit. Unreal.

Packers/Lions Week 1

It took me less than 3 quarters to fire my hat into the wall. It usually takes longer than that, but yesterday had me ready to snap. I'm still speechless...I have been sitting here for 5 minutes trying to figure out how to follow up the previous sentence, and I don't have the words to do it.

Let's start with the good: Green ran well, even though he didn't get many opportunities to carry the ball (more on that later). BJ Sander is going to be a great punter (even though that was a lousy hold on the first FG). He had six punts for a 41.3 yard average, but more importantly, the ever-dangerous Eddie Drummond could only return those 6 punts for 12 total yards. Longwell is still money in the bank.

And the defense. Holy crap, the defense. They actually got some pressure on the QB (not sure how KGB got shut out in the sack department. I thought they'd credit him with at least 1 sack...2 half-sacks put together). The linebackers played decently well. And the secondary held the Lions "vaunted" receiving corps to 6 catches and under 100 yards. Williams, Williams, and Rogers were pretty much non-factors in the game. Mike Williams had a 3 yard TD, but that was his only catch of the day, and from the way the media was spooging over the Lions WRs coming into the season, you'd swear they were all going for 100 and a score every game. Mark Roman looked like a completely different player from last year. He actually made some plays, was a sure-tackler, and didn't go Ryan Mundy on us.

The bad: Favre was way off in that game. He missed about 4 deep balls down the field, and the only one he hit (to Walker) was called back on a push off that probably wasn't actually a push-off, given how that game was called. Wouldn't know though because Fox never showed a replay. He missed a couple more wide-open WRs. The three turnovers are excusable, IMO. The first (the fumble) is on Mike Sherman for not challenging it. It was clearly a forward pass. The second was a case of #1) Ferguson "Pinkstoning" the ball and #2) Not having a good replay of it. From the end-zone cam, it looked like the ball hit the ground. But I agreed that there was not enough evidence to overturn the call on the field. If they had ruled it incomplete it would've stayed that way. As such, they called it a pick and it stood. Fair enough. And the last pick was on a fourth down at the end of the game where he's just throwing it up.

Also bad was JWalk. Losing one of the top 5 receivers in the game for the rest of the season doesn't make me feel good about where this season is going. Thankfully Terrance Murphy should be back soon, and from all accounts he looked great before he went down. He's got deep-threat speed if nothing else. The bright side of JWalk being out is that I bet Drew Rosenhaus is pissed. That, if nothing else makes me smile.

The offensive line is going to get Favre killed. I'll be shocked if his consecutive games started streak doesn't come to an end this year, if that keeps up. Granted the Lions have one of the best front-fours in the league, but the interior of the line was just getting blown up. The most troubling play for me was when Tauscher got beat to the outside by Kalimba Edwards. Tauscher shouldn't be letting guys come in untouched. Favre was pissed at Will Whittacker after one play.

The playcalling was horrible. They had a nice start. The first drive they completed a couple passes, and ended up not being able to convert a second and 1. The second drive was 14 plays and got down to the goalline before the fumbled FG attempt. After that--I guess after the scripted first 15 plays--the offense sputtered.

They scored a FG on the next drive, but after that they went: 3 and out, halftime after a kneel-down, a fumble on a 3rd down sack that would've been a punt if Favre hadn't "fumbled", 3 and out, 3 and out, 3 and out, 3 and out, "interception" after 1 first down, interception after a nice drive to end the game.

The Packers had 0 first downs in the second half until the 3rd play of their 6th drive. The playcalling was uncreative, and the coaching staff panicked and started trying to make it all up on one play. Michigan did a similar thing against Oregon a couple years ago. They got down big, started throwing to play catch-up, but when they made it a one-possession game, they still didn't entertain the idea of running the ball. I remember we were down about 7 with 10 minutes left in the game and still never ran it. Favre threw the ball 44 times in this game, and for most of the game, the Packers were within one score. Green had close to 5 ypc, and that doesn't include about 30 yards in runs wiped out by penalties. They still insist on Favre chucking the ball downfield too often. He's never been a great deep-ball thrower, and after Walker went out he really didn't have a "deep threat" on the field. Not a good gameplan by Sherman and Rossley.

The ugly: The penalties. 14 for an even 100 yards. Not including several that were declined. The Lions had 4 and 3 of those were in the last 19 minutes of the game. So either the Packers are now coached by John L Smith, the Lions are the most disciplined team to ever play football, or we have a serious problem here. I have always shuddered when Jeff Triplette does a Packers game, much in the way Michigan fans tremble when Scott Hansen is out there in hockey.

Ahmad Carroll got flagged 4 times for using his hands on the receiver, and honest-to-God I think one of them was legit. I know he has a reputation, but they showed the replays of 3 of them, and there was nothing remotely looking like a penalty there. One time, Mike Williams pushed off of him using his elbow, but somehow that's illegal contact on Carroll. The big problem I have with this is that it's a free first down every time. If you're going to hold a player to that standard, then you god-damn better well hold everyone to that standard. The Lions four penalties were a BS PI call on Bryant, 2 block in the backs, and a legit PI call on Boss Bailey. So the officials are telling me that at NO point during that game did a Lions defensive back lay a finger on a Packers receiver after 5 yards? Please. The Packers put the ball up 44 times. And with the frequency that they were flagging the GB defensive backs, it's absolutely absurd that the Lions NEVER got called for one of those. Before GB's fumbled FG, Driver was mauled in the end zone on 3rd down. No call. They showed Bly chucking one of GB's receivers 10 yards down the field. No call. At 2:36 of the 4th quarter, Bly blatantly interfered with Ferguson. Nothing. Those are just the ones I noticed.

Final Thoughts: You can't blame the refs totally for this one, though I can't remember the last time I saw penalty numbers that skewed. Even Lions fans have to admit they got some gifts yesterday. The offense didn't execute, and they didn't capitalize on their few chances in Lions territory. They went on an inexcusable stretch where they went 3 and out on six straight possessions and followed that up with 2 turnovers.

That said, I came away from this game feeling great about the Packers. They usually only have about a 40% chance of winning in Detroit as it is, and the Lions usually win on opening day, so the loss is ok. They didn't lose any ground to the Vikings--who by the way didn't look like a Super Bowl contender, go figure. But losing Javon Walker is just a killer. In terms of his size, speed, jumping ability, and hands, he might be second to only Randy Moss. That's 2000 yards, and 21 touchdown the last 2 seasons going out of the lineup. Driver is capable of being a #1 WR. He made the Pro-Bowl doing it a few years back. Ferguson can get open, but after that the WR corps is really really thin. Hopefully Murphy can come in and make an impact, but rookie WRs seldom do.

I haven’t even mentioned the Lions thus far. Take nothing away from their defense. They’ve got a great front 7 and pretty decent DBs (Bly is excellent). They put constant pressure on Favre and didn’t give him time to find his open guys. The offense I was less-than-impressed with. Harrington actually had a pretty good game, but the triumvirate of Rogers, Williams and Williams did nothing against Green Bay’s shoddy secondary. I haven’t been drinking the Kool-Aid all along and I’m not about to start. Rogers hasn’t done anything in his career but break collar bones. Mike Williams is going to end up at tight end, because he’s just not fast enough to be effective at WR. His one catch came when he got open on a little out in the endzone and gave Joey Heisman a big target to throw at. Roy Williams is gonna be a great one though. But even he didn’t show anything yesterday. I was also surprised that Jones didn’t have a better game. He closed the year by leading the league in rushing the last 7 games, and Green Bay doesn’t have a great run defense. Even still, they were the better of the two teams offensively, and I can’t believe I just said that.

I just can't believe the Packers and Wolverines combined to allow 34 points this weekend and my teams went 0-2. Never would have believed that one before the weekend. The 47 total points scored in those 2 games is less than I would have expected in one game. The defenses kept the offenses in it and the offenses blew the chances they had. That's probably the worst offensive performance we'll see out of both teams all year, so I guess it's good they happened the same weekend.

Lastly, Torry Holt was channeling Brendan Morrison after the Rams loss yesterday to San Francisco.

And for the record, it was the "push-off" negating Walker's 50+ yard catch & ACL tear that had me chuck my hat into the window. After that I accepted that nothing was going to go right and they weren't winning that game. The rest of the game was just a big joke to me.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Blog That Yost Built-Domus

First off, in my post yesterday about the football game, I can't believe I forgot to talk about the student section throwing stuff on the field. Twice. It was the first thing I wanted to mention and it just slipped my mind. It was embarassing to be in that crowd, watching the bottles fly out of the stands. Anyone who threw something should be absolutely ashamed of themselves, and I can't believe the officials didn't say anything more than "Game staff, please clean up the field." Yes we got jobbed with the review on Henne's fumble, since he probably scored on the play before. Yes it sucks that they overturned a fumble (but really....that ball came out so late, I didn't think for a second it was actually a fumble). That's still no excuse to chuck stuff on the field. Who are we, Colorado Avalanche fans? That was just embarassing. And to make things even better, all the debris was raining down on the recruits in that endzone. Good work.

So I predicted a Bryan Herta wreck and a Packers loss because that was the feel of the weekend. I got the Packers loss, and I might as well have been right about Herta. His team got him on a crappy fuel strategy for about the 6th time this season and he ended up 14th out of 23. Close enough.

I can't believe that Packers/Lions game. I've got a lot to say about that one (mainly about the officiating, since I don't think I've seen a more biased crew since the 1995 NFC Championship game) but as was the case yesterday, you only score 3 (or 10) points, you probably don't deserve to win.

I was actually pretty optimistic about the Packers, despite the loss, because the defense played a great game, given my expectations for them.

And then I heard about Javon Walker. Wow. What a great close to this shit weekend.

More tomorrow. I'm tired.


What an absolute crappy football game. Unlike Brian from mgoblog, I did not walk out of Michigan Stadium in silence, or even without a smile on my face. I found my dad, walked over to him and said, "That game was just so Michigan." And that's really the only way to describe it. We've now lost 3 out of 4 to Notre Dame, 3 out of 4 to Ohio State and 3 out of 4 bowl games. That's completely unacceptable.

As he pointed out, Brian very eerily hit the nail right on the head a couple of days ago, when he wrote:
"To a Michigan fan, every Irish loss over the past ten years has been due to an unfortunate, ridiculous confluence of unlikely events: fumbles, ridiculous refereeing, blocked punts, hilarious deflected passes, etc. It does no’t matter if it i’s true or not (though it is): that i’s what it feels like." (ed note: I changed the contracted words because the formatting was screwed up for some reason)
I had a similarly prophetic moment yesterday. I was explaining to my girlfriend's new roommate (who went to Texas A&M for undergrad) about Michigan football. I told her, "When we lose games, they'll always be heartbreakers. And when we're getting blown out, we'll score a late touchdown or two to make it close. Then we'll get the ball back with a few minutes remaining and a chance to pull off the comeback. And it won't happen."

The exception was obviously the Michigan State game last year, which was still the most unbelievable thing I have ever witnessed in person.

I never thought I would see Michigan's offense blow a game this season. There were 2 silver linings to that abortion of a game though: 1) Our defense actually played pretty darn well. If you would have told me before the game that we'd hold ND to 17 points and under 100 rushing, I would have thought we'd win by 20 points. They put the offense in a position to win the game, and they didn't do it. 2) I only paid $21 for my ticket, instead of the $59 face on non-student tickets.

I swear someone dressed up John Navarre in a #7 jersey. There were batted passes (at least 5, though many of them were because Courtney Morgan was dressed up as our right tackle). There were mis-reads. There was locking onto receivers. There were overthrown balls. There were underthrown balls. There was general suckitude. About the only thing missing from Johnny's repitoire was Chad somehow managing to sack himself and unintentionally spike the ball (both happened at Wisconsin in 2001). That was his worst game by far as a Wolverine.

Ahman Grady fumbled twice more today, though one appeared like it might have been Henne's fault. Lloyd didn't blame him (at least in the media) for putting it on the ground, but that's 3 times in two games. Can't keep doing that if you want to keep getting carries. Though we might not have a choice since Hart went down, and Lloyd said he might be out awhile. Sweet.

I won't watch replays of this game, but I swear to God I don't see how they had conclusive video evidence to overturn Henne's fumble on the 1. How do you see in a pile if a player recovered the ball before the whistle went? And ignoring that, how do you not review the previous play, when The Wolverine ($ link) said he was in by a half-yard. I don't like this replay system, no-sir. And not just because we had a couple calls go against us today. The NFL's system works just fine. Put it in the hands of the coaches. Don't leave it up to some guy in the booth to make a call on it. At the end of the Texas/OSU game, I thought Texas's RB got in the endzone on that option play. It was certainly close enough to warrant a review, but no one bothered to check.

Ryan's punts were not at all good today. He had a couple that ended up being alright thanks to nice rolls (and one that our guy inexplicably let go into the endzone), but he had his share of shanks. If he's been at all good in practice, I think it might be worth burning Zoltan's redshirt and getting him some time.

The play-calling sucked for the most part as well. I just don't get the lack of urgency that this team plays with when they're down big. It was the same thing last year against ND when we needed 2 scores in the last 3 minutes or so and they called a fullback draw. Maybe some of it wasn't the playcalling as much as Henne not being smart with his reads, but I'm going to snap if they don't stop throwing 3 yard passes when they need 10 yards. Or like the last play of the game. You need 15 yards, you can't throw a 5 yard out to the TE. If you want to make that throw, it damn well better be to Breaston, who at least has a shot to slip a couple tackles. And even then it's not a good idea. Our boys need to start finding the sticks.

On the bright-side, Texas won. Hook 'em. They became my 3rd favorite team (It goes Michigan, huuuuuuuge gap, Louisville, medium sized gap, Texas) after the Rose Bowl last year because their fans were such class acts. I hope this is finally their year, now that Michigan doesn't have the team to be in has fallen out of the title hunt. Oklahoma looks awful, so this might be UT's year to finally break though against them. Like every other running QB, Young isn't going to hold up if he keeps running like that. He got dinged several times tonight. Great, clutch throw at the end of the game to win it for them.

The Nascar race was a joke. Gordon once again qualified well, then just dropped back further and further. Every change his team made made the car worse and worse. And then some back-marker drove him into the wall. Harvick had a great car at first and it just went away from him. I officially have no one to root for in The Chase now. I was thinking about rooting for McMurray, but then some backmarker wrecked him even. Kid's a class act though. Wouldn't say anything inflammatory, even though the guy basically ended his season. I'm rooting for anyone that's not Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle or Matt Kenseth (even though he's a Packers fan so he's ok). Unfortunately those are probably the 4 favorites to win it. I guess I'd like to see Mark Martin pull it off. It's still gonna be a crappy last 10 races without any of my guys in the Chase.

I've lost a lot of respect for that series over the way they handle infractions and driving penalties. What I've learned over the past few days is that it's not ok to flip someone off (Martin Truex Jr. is getting a 25 point docking for that) but that it is ok to intentionally cause a wreck and end someone's season (Dale Jarrett wrecking Newman and taking Harvick out of the Chase and getting a 2 lap penalty). Then today, Nascar starts penalizing guys left and right for "rough driving". I believe there were 3 guys tonight that got 5 lap penalties for that. But Jarrett gets essentially nothing (since his day was done anyway after he wrecked Newman. 2 more laps wasn't going to hurt him) for what he did 2 weeks ago. But God-forbid Truex should go flip off a guy for almost flipping his car over (he's the points leader too!). It's just stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

It's just one of those weekends. The kind that happen every so often during the year. The ones where absolutely nothing goes right sports-wise. So far we've got Michigan blowing that game and Gordon & Harvick not making The Chase tonight. My official predictions for tomorrow are that Herta will get taken out by the freakin' Japanese guy that's wrecked him twice this year, and that the Packers will lose. The weekend's just shaping up that way.

But Bill Simmons, Green Bay is not going 4-12 (unless Favre gets hurt) and the Bears are not making the playoffs with Kyle Orton at QB. Oh, and the Lions aren't going 5-11 either. Favre has never had a losing season. He's not going to suddenly go 4-12. And as for that "ridiculous draft"....isn't it a little early to say that? They drafted their QB of the future, who has looked pretty darn good. They got a starting safety. They found a start guard in the 7th round. And only one of their picks didn't make their roster. Some of that is that the defense isn't real good and a lot of those guys might not have made other teams, but even still...finding that many guys in a draft that are good enough to crack a 3 time defending division champions' roster isn't a "ridiculous draft", especially considering they got a guy that was supposed to go #1 overall. Would a defender have looked nice at #24, sure. But for value, there might not have been a better pick in the draft. We'll see in a few years--and granted my track record at projecting QBs hasn't been real good--but I think the 49ers are going to want that one back.

Big Snake had a Gordie Howe Hattrick (a goal, an assist, and a fight) tonight in the Wings' rookies' 7-1 win over Columbus. I'd love to see him make our roster, just so I can get a Big Snake jersey. Howard stopped 20 of 21 shots. Tomorrow's decision day for Pavel Datsyuk. Finally will this saga end?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

OK I'm Really Sick of This

After all those reports that Datsyuk was signed in Russia, not so fast my friend! WTF! I thought I was obeying my rule that I wouldn't post anything about him til it was official.


The terms of Pavel Datsyuk's "contract" that was agreed to on Monday with the Superleague's Avangard Omsk (and matched on Wednesday by Moscow Dynamo) has been shrouded in in secrecy -- or uncertainty, depending on how you look at it -- and for good reason: SS reports that the contract was never officially filed with the PHL, Russia's professional hockey governing body. That would also partly explain why Datsyuk has not dressed yet for Avangard or Dynamo, despite the RSL regular season kicking off on Monday, and would leave him free to sign with the Red Wings
The article, citing an article in Thursday's Soviet Sport goes on to state that Ken Holland has agreed to offer Datsyuk a 2 year deal. He had previously only offered him 1, 3, and 4 year deals (Datsyuk becomes a UFA after 2)...Wow Kenny, way to realize that 2 years with Datsyuk (and a chance to prepare for him being a free agent and making alternate plans should he leave) is better than him bailing and leaving you with no other options. It also says that the deal he signed-but-hasn't-quite-signed-yet in Russia is worth about $3.5 million US tax free. He's going to have a meeting with the Wings and both Russian clubs on Sunday to decide where he's going to play.


Dat$yuk Gone, Zetterberg Official

I didn't want to say anything until it was official, for fear of jinxing it like I did before, but Zetterberg is signed, sealed and delivered back to the D. He's getting 10.6 over 4, which isn't at all unreasonable, especially considering that locks him up long-term (and past when he could become a UFA normally). That's going to look like a great signing in a couple years.

At the other end of the spectrum, Pavel Datsyuk, who signed a deal with a Russian team for a rumored $6 million. It's unclear whether or not his contract has an out-clause. Yesterday Holland thought it did, today he says it doesn't and that the Wings will proceed as if he's not going to be there. Too bad they couldn't get him signed, but the Wings will survive. Datsyuk is replaceable (though he would've been more replaceable if Holland wouldn't have dilly-dallied for so long). In the meantime, enjoy Siberia, Pavel.

Holland butchered this one. I know I applauded him before for not overpaying Datsyuk (and it appears that he did not in fact offer $5 million per season to him), but at the same time he knew they were very far apart, he knew Datsyuk had lucrative offers to stay in Russia, and he didn't leave himself any option for a plan B. He now says that the Wings aren't going to be able to get a top 6 forward and will instead use Datsyuk's money to bolster the 3rd and 4th lines. There's no excuse to say all along that you won't let a player and his agent push you around, and then let them back you into a corner where you don't have a viable alternative. I'd be on the phone with New Jersey, looking to steal one of their forwards in the firesale that has to happen at some point since they're over the cap. Friesen maybe? Sparty Rem Murray, who was invited to camp, is not the answer. Neither is Dan LaCouture. On the plus side, at least they're bringing in a couple guys who played college hockey. Hell Kenny, call up Boston and see what they want for Andy Hilbert, who wants out of Beantown. He's not going to light the world on fire, but he had a great year in the AHL last year (37-42--79 in 79 games, plus 7-14--21 in 17 playoff games). Maybe he's ready to make The Leap.

The New York Rangers signed Jed Ortmeyer to a new deal today. Good for him. I know the Wings offered him a contract originally, but he saw a chance to play sooner with the Rags. It's so nice to see him succeeding. He's still my favorite Wolverine.

MHNet on The Wolverine pointed out that AJ Jenks, one of the mini-mites committed to start playing for U of M in 2008, is rated the #1 player for the upcoming OHL draft by

Jenks follows in some big footsteps

Peter Mueller, Colton Gillies, Gilbert Brule, Adam Cogliano and Matt Corrente were all number one rated prospects for the OHL and WHL Bantam Draft's by Hockey Scouting in the past four years. You can now add AJ Jenks to that list of players. Jenks will be the number one ranked player for this years OHL Draft by later this week when our pre OHL Draft rankings are officially released. Jenks was thrilled when he was informed he was ranked so highly
Awww yeah!

Florida State and Miami played to one of the ugliest offensive displays in recent memory on Monday night. FSU won 10-7, with no points being scored in the season half. I can't decide which was the stat that best represents how bad this game was:
1) FSU's QB was 7 of 24 for 67 yards, 0 TDs and a pick (a sparkling 22.2 rating) and they won.
2) Both teams had first and goal at the opponent's 2 yard line and came away with 0 points.
3) Spanning 2 drives, Kyle Wright was sacked on 4 straight plays
4) At the 13:31 mark of the 4th quarter, both teams were out of timeouts.

What'dya think? They're all pretty impressive.

Those bastards at 2ksports didn't get NHL 2k6 out on time. It was supposed to come out yesterday, now they say it won't be in til tomorrow. I'm not the mood to nerd it up and make my college teams.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Ahhh Football's Back!

Before I get into my impressions of the Wolverines performance against NIU, I have to tell a story from before the game:

We were in Crisler, watching the Michigan basketball open-gym (by the way, DeShawn Sims is gross...99% sure that was him. He was wearing a Romulus basketball shirt, but there's no way it was Coleman or Smith), and Tommy Amaker was wandering around. He saw a kid who was probably 10-12 years old and went over to introduce himself to the little guy. He talked to the kid for a couple minutes and then asked him "Have you met any of the guys yet?" to which the kid replied that he hadn't. Tommy then called out to Brent Petway, got him to come over, and told Petway to go introduce the kid to some of the players. Petway took him over to the bench where several of the guys were watching the scrimmage, and they all introduced themselves. They let the kid stay with them for at least 15 minutes, and they chatted with him for a lot of the time--it wasn't like he was just standing off to the side with them. Nice gesture, and I'm sure Michigan basketball ended up with a huge fan out of it (if he wasn't already).

To football!

Overall a pretty decent performance out of the vanilla-flavored Wolverines this weekend. They played a capable team and the game wasn't in doubt in the 4th quarter, so that immediately puts it above the Utah and SDSU games of the last couple of years. mgoblog has already done a recap of the game that pretty much echoes my thoughts, but I'll comment on a few things:

--Henne played well for a first game. He was off by a step on the deep balls, but that's timing and he sure didn't miss by much. He threw behind guys a few times, particularly Avant, but again, that's timing.

--Hart is goooood. I still can't believe how much power that kid runs with for his size. He bowled that one guy over on the screen pass who was like 6'3" 255 or so. I felt like Grady had a little bit more of a burst than Hart, but Hart does such an unbelievable job of getting through the hole. I was a bit surprised that Grady saw the field after his fumble, but apparently he's been good in practice about not fumbling. Still, if he wants to see a lot of carries throughout the year, he'd best take after 2004 Mike Hart.

--It took falling during his route to have Avant drop a pass. That kid's hands are just incredible. That one catch that he made when Henne threw way behind him was almost as good as that catch that The Soldier made against West Virginia (though obviously not in as big of a situation).

--As for the defense. 17 points allowed is fine, especially when 1 was the traditionally late TD to make the score closer than it was. 5 takeaways is great, since I was told they reported on TV that NIU only lost 1 fumble all year last year. But the mistakes they were making were so similar to last year it was scary. A better team will make us pay. If NIU doesn't fumble deep in Michigan territory and then give the Wolverines excellent field position after the fumbled punt, the game could have been a scare like Utah was.

-Kudos to Ross Ryan. First for beating out Zoltan Mesko. Second for his outstanding kickoffs. And thirdly for hustling and recovering that fumble. How often do you see a punter recover a fumble on a punt that was only returned 1 yard?

A few other things from the weekend. I didn't get to watch too much of the other games, but I was shocked Boise didn't put up more of a fight against Georgia. Louisville almost sent me into a seizure when they blew that huge lead against Kentucky (but what a play by Brandon Johnson to strip the ball and recover it deep in Louisville territory!). And Elvis Dumervil had six sacks today. Someone block him, yo. Louisville isn't going to be held to 3 points in a half many more times this season. And really...what the hell were those Wisconsin helmets? Just hideous.

Cutdown day in the NFL was this weekend, and the Packers had 2 shockers, letting Cheech Hunt and Raynoch Thompson go. I didn't see too much of their preseason games, but I guess Thompson just isn't the same player after his injuries. Cheech needed to be out of there, and I'm happy that Ted Thompson had the balls to pull the trigger on him. Where does Hunt go from here? Coach5 from the Times4 Packer board offered a suggestion.
Originally posted by macdaddy:
Lets see, where would a good place be for Hunt? Cleveland? Calgary? Phoenix?

New Orleans.


Thompson's release also means that Roy Manning has made the Packers roster. And it wouldn't be the biggest shocker in the world if he ends up starting. The Grown-Ass Man, Dawg has really impressed people.

The final nail was driven into Dale Jr's coffin tonight when his engine let go. Harvick would need a Moses-parting-the-Red-Sea-sized miracle to get in. Gordon should have had a top 5 finish tonight after battling an absolute crap car all night, but a bad call by Robbie Loomis put him 29th in the field, before a couple wrecks allowed him to climb back to 21st. He enters Richmond only 30 points out of The Chase, and Richmond is traditionally a great track for him. I'm still confident. The Yost Built chica disowned Jeff Gordon as her driver for roughly the 17th time tonight.

In unbelievable fashion--over the weekend, I was actually entertained by back-to-back women's soccer games. They pulled off a 3-2 win over Texas, which makes up for the Rose Bowl. Ok not really. Then today, they played to a thrilling 1-1 tie with Texas A&M. Both teams had multiple chances to win the game, but defensive saves kept the Wolverines alive. A&M has a very physical (read: Dirty) team, and they employed an absolutely asinine strategy of delaying the game whenever possible, despite having the speed and stamina advantage over Michigan. They delayed the game to the tune of getting 7 or 8 cards, most of them for the stall tactics, including drawing a red card late in the first overtime. A&M's coaches were not happy. You couldn't pay me enough money to be a referee.

I read an article today from earlier in the week in the Wall Street Journal. The new Arizona Cardinals' stadium will not only have a retractable roof, but a retractable field as well. The idea is that they can roll the field out of the arena to have concerts and whatnot in the stadium, without wrecking the natural grass surface. I think that's just hella-cool. Maybe unnecessary, but very cool nontheless.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Datsyuk Not Signed, Johnson is Staying

After this post, I will be adding the Pavel Datsyuk/Henrik Zetterberg situation to the list of things I will not talk about again until something actually happens. It will join "Jack Johnson: Will he come to Michigan or go pro" on that list.

According to an AP article today, the Wings are no closer to signing either of their high-profile RFAs. In an interview with, Datsyuk's agent talks about the different lengths of contract that Detroit has proposed. It looks like they may have agreed on the term, just not the finances.

As far as I'm concerned, they can let Datsyuk play in Russia for the year, use the extra money to go sign Bondra to a one-year deal (I think he's still out there) and get Zetterberg in the fold since he seems a little bit more reasonable. It's absurd that he thinks he deserves "Joe Thornton money". Score a goal in the playoffs first.

So that's the end of the Datsyuk/Zetterberg talk, until either the season starts or they get signed.

Myron Rolle passed on coming to U of M, to pretty much no one's surprise. What was surprising though, was that he picked Florida State, citing their academic prowess. Yeah. Good call there. Hi, I'm a 4.0 student, I was to double major in stuff that The Blog That Yost Built can't pronounce, then go to med school. Florida State here I come. At least he didn't try to pass off tOSU as a real school.

Speaking of Ohio...."Weeeee don't give a damn for using contraception, using contraception, using contraception, we don't give a damn for using contraception, weeeee're from Oh-Hi-O". Strong work.

The Packers won a game that doesn't count last night, despite apparently looking awful in the process. If they don't come out of their first two games (at Detroit, Cleveland at home) at least 1-1 it's going to be a long season. On the plus side, the heir apparent looked great last night from what I've read, and Tennessee muffed 3 punts. Yay for left-footed punters!! It's sad that Green Bay's punter is the bright spot of the preseason. Grady Jackson and Cheech Hunt put down the munchies to actually play. That's cool.

Soccer isn't going to get much coverage in this blog, as I really don't like the sport...but as the official timer for U of M men's and women's soccer, and field hockey, I'll be at most of the home games. Last night, Trai Blanks played the best game I have ever seen out of him. He had a goal, should've had 2 more, made a gorgeous cross that would've been an assist but the shot hit the post, and in general was all over the field. It appears to me from watching the exhibition game and the opener last night that Steve Burns is doing something very smart: He's got two guys in Blanks and Tolo Olowolafe who depend heavily on their speed. So, instead of starting Blanks and playing him 60-70 minutes a game like last year, he's bringing them off the bench late in the first half. The two (but especially Blanks) comes in and attacks the defense when they're tired, and so instead of playing 60-70 blah minutes, he can play 30-40 where he's using his speed and attacking. It definitely worked last night as Blanks was the best player on the field. We'll see if that strategy continues. UM won 2-0 but it could've easily been 7 or 8 to zip. UDM didn't register a single shot on goal.

Great news from ESPN: As pointed out by Blue Lite on TheWolverine, ESPN has announced they are trying to get back to old-school Sportscenter, when they'd deliver the highlights and not try to be MTV. Great, great news there as I rarely watched the show anymore because, quite frankly, it annoyed me.

Gajic and Werner have signed with AHL teams. I now pass along the catch-phrase "Dammit Gajic" to the fine people of Providence, and "Werner to Faulk" (In Pat Summerall voice, imitating the way he said Kurt Warner's name) to the people of Manchester.

Bob Miller from The Wolverine posted his impressions of the freshmen from a very loose practice (basically a pickup game). What was exciting to me was his later post where he mentioned that it looks like Zach MacVoy has really improved his skating. That is the reason I believe he wasn't drafted, and I've said before that if he could overcome his skating issues he could be a very nice player for us. Nice to hear he's been working on it. And no report about the freshmen would be complete without a mention of The Sickness:
Jack Johnson controls the puck whenever and wherever he wants.
And anyone who saw the move he put on Nick Lidstrom in the USA vs. NHL All-Stars game won't doubt that for a second. 1 more month.

NHL 2k6 comes out on Tuesday. Can't wait!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Datsyuk Close to Signing?

Reports abound this morning that Pavel Datsyuk may be close to signing a deal with the Red Wings. Citing SovietSport newspaper in Russia, the Detroit News reported that Datsyuk was a no-show as the Russian National Team left today for EuroTour--a tournament in Europe that Datsyuk was to play in if he wasn't signing with the Wings.

Apparently 1270 and 1130 am in Detroit have also reported that he's close to a deal. Good to hear, hopefully Holland isn't stupid about how much money he's paying him. If it's more than $3.5 mill a year or so, my enthusiasm of him signing will be greatly diminished.

The Fourth Period (credibility question mark alert!!) article about Datsyuk rejecting the Wings contract offers from a couple days ago also mentions that they are close to signing Zetterberg. Haven't heard that anywhere else, but it's a good sign. Hopefully they can get both players under contract before I snap.

Also from The Fourth Period--but with a General Manager quote and citing the Boston Globe so you can probably believe this one--apparently Andy Hilbert wants out of Boston. This article was from while I was on vacation so I missed it. GM Mike O'Connell said "He's asked to be moved and I've told him we'll do our best to accomodate him." I don't suppose it's too much to ask Kenny....The Wings could use one more scorer and Hilbert would be cheap. He's coming off a great year in the AHL and might be ready to make "The Leap". No clue what Boston's asking price for him would be, but I think it'd be worth a call. But he played for Michigan so the Wings will naturally have no interest.

One last thing today...Mike Rosenberg has a wonderful article about why Michigan fans should appreciate Lloyd Carr while he's here and not complain so much since we've got the 3rd best record in the country over the last 8 years, only behind Florida State and Miami (and just a half game behind Miami for second).