Thursday, October 11, 2007

WTI: Special K With Banana

Craig: Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to WTI: Glass half full edition.  We're halfway through the season, and one thing is clear, we're well stocked up on crazy.
Geoff: Dogs and cats, living together.  Mass hysteria!
Craig: It just scares me how much the "unpleasantness" seems like it was from another season.
Geoff: That there's even debate on "greatest upset in college football history" this year is an undeniable comfort.
Craig: Which is bad and good...And the Stanford win this past weekend did prove the biggest negative of it: Anytime a major upset occurs, the unpleasantness will be used as a measuring stick.
Craig: The difference is, I wasn't ready to remove someone's eye when it was mentioned.  Four wins in a row will make you much happier. 
Geoff: They really will.
Craig: But let us be clear, this is a flawed team.  So issue #1: If we agree that the best thing about this team is Mike Hart, what is the most disappointing aspect of the 2007 Wolverines?
Geoff: The defense as a whole, I'd have to say.
Craig: See, amazingly, to me, it's the special teams.  Because the defense, while disappointing, has looked better in recent weeks, albeit against more conventional attacks or lesser talent running "crazy" schemes.  But the special teams with their bend to the point of actually breaking philosophy have just been driving me mad.  No reliable kicker, poor coverage on all aspects of kicking, and while I know you don't always get a Steve Breaston, no even threat to break one on a return.  It's just madness!
Craig: Especially when you look at Beamerball and realize that you can win a lot of games, or at the very least, stay close in a lot of games, with exceptional special teams play.
Geoff: The kick returns have been incredibly frustrating to watch, especially what we saw against Eastern. 
Craig: Seriously, I was watching the Eastern game and thinking "You know, I thought the unpleasantness was humiliating, but if we lose to Eastern, I KNOW PEOPLE WHO WENT THERE! We'd never hear the end of it!"
Geoff: They absolutely gave up contain on the 86-yarder that should have been stopped before the 40 no matter what.  Then the next time Eastern received the kick, they did the same thing, except the runner decided to go up the sideline instead of cutting back.
Geoff: For the defense, we knew the linebacking corps and the defensive line lost two NFL players each, but the cupboard wasn't exactly bare with the D line and we thought the linebackers might be of some use in run support.  And we'd had much better results against spread offenses, so the regression was horrifying to watch.
Craig: OK, let us get back to the positives.  What has been your most pleasant surprise of the season?
Geoff: Donovan Warren's tackling is up there.  He's not a great corner, but he's been adequate, which is more than you can expect from a true freshman, and he's done well to stick the tackles he's had to make.  He's already better than Grant Mason. 
Craig: Agreed.  Donovan Warren may not be Marlin Jackson or Charles Woodson as a freshman, but he is giving me hope in the defensive backfield.
Geoff: My other surprise has been the Space Emperor, actually.  Zoltan has been remarkably good week in and week out.  No more alternating 60-yard line drives with 38-yarders, his nuclear death bombs have been pinning his enemies inside their own 20 on a regular basis. 
Craig: If only he understood corners, but I don't know if anyone teaches that any more. 
Geoff: There are no corners in space.
Geoff: What surprises have you seen?
Craig: Mine has been Adrian Arrington and Greg Matthews.  With Manningham not being Manningham this year, I feel that Arrington has moved from possession receiver to multispatial threat, and that Matthews has become a mini-Avant.
Geoff: They've been exceptional, especially coming across the middle.
Jeremy: has entered the room
Craig: Greetings Jeremy...
Craig: OK, Issue #3: Les Miles, have we turned a corner?
Geoff: I have.
Craig: Let me preface this by saying two things: 1).  I was opposed to Miles during the summer for fear of hiring a crazy man.  2).  I still think I'd rather have Brian Kelly for reasons stated this week.
Geoff: After watching that monster of a game between LSU and Florida this weekend, I can't deny it any longer.  If he's available, I want Miles.  He's still a crazy man who'll probably say some dumb things, but he can coach.
Craig: In watching the game this past Saturday, I think I had the same reaction as you: I'd rather have a coach who costs us a game here or there by rolling the dice and playing to win the game at all times than a coach who would rather get into a shell and hope you can defend the fort.
Jeremy: I think the real loser in the Brian Kelly situation here is Michigan State, and that's fine with me.
Geoff: I like Brian Kelly.  If Miles and Tedford don't want the job, he's my #3 choice, but he's a risk.
Craig: The risk being, he's an unproven commodity at the bigtime level.
Geoff: Right.  Miles and Tedford are known quantities, to some extent.  Maybe not at Michigan, but they're at major programs and each has taken a bottom feeder up to respectability.
Craig: But these are just the idle musings of Michigan fans.
Craig: Issue #4: Michigan has six regular season games left.  Do I have anyone bold enough to predict four more wins?
Geoff: Tough call.  Any other year and I say "Hell, yes!".
Craig: But this is the year of infinite confusion.
Geoff: I think we can do it, but it'll be a rough road.
Jeremy: I'd take four as an absolute maximum.  Wisconsin and MSU are both overrated, and we have the ridiculous-season and nothing-to-lose factor in our favor vs.  OSU.
Geoff: The optimist says we get Purdue, MSU, Minnesota, Wisconsin and lose to tOSU to inflict maximum pain on ourselves.  Illinois runs a crazy spread, and this game will make them give Ron Zook a 10-year extension.
Craig: Minnesota, on paper, looks like a gimme, but we know about the games on paper theory.  Illinois looks amazing right now, but they are still prone to the Zookian collapse.  Purdue might run our defense off the field.  Michigan State looks to be in another trademark Sparty swoon, but that's when they are most dangerous.  You'd never want to see Wisconsin at home, even if Michigan has never lost two games in a row there.  And ever since the Sweatervest showed up, I can no longer feel good about any tOSU game.
Geoff: I would trade an 8-4 season for a 6-6 where we beat OSU.
Jeremy: Absolutely.  That's what it's come to.
Craig: Wait, I'd rather beat State than Ohio State.
Geoff: You have more Spartans at work than I do.  I have as many Boilermakers as Spartans.
Craig: Yes I do.  I know far too many Spartans.
Geoff: Spartans are brain-addled.  They have no long-term memory.
Craig: Yes, but that could be a survival mechanism.
Craig: Issue 5, the last of the night: What are you most looking forward to in the last six weeks of the season?
Jeremy: Mike Hart.
Geoff: Just watching Mike Hart.
Jeremy: He sets a record every time he touches the ball now!
Geoff: And he can't come back next year, so you better take joy in his 4 yards out of nothing while you can.
Craig: Sub-issue 5: Can Mike Hart get an invitation to New York in December? It seems like there is no front runner at the moment, and while i know that winning will keep him at the forefront of the discussion, can he earn his way to the Yale Club?
Geoff: If he stays healthy, I think he finishes third in the Heisman balloting.
Jeremy: If he's not in the top 3, the whole system is rendered fraudulent.
Geoff: If he stays healthy and Michigan inexplicably/impossibly fights its way into the Capital One Bowl or above and he pulls a Biakabatuka vs.  tOSU, then things get interesting.
Craig: I like your line of thinking Geoff, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.  Wait, I do.
Craig: Homecoming this week, so it's a traditional show, no?
Jeremy: Glenn Miller + the 50th anniversary of "Hawaiian War Chant".
Craig: Excellent!
Jeremy: (which we'd play at halftime of homecoming anyway.)
Craig: Before it was a state, it was a war chant.
Geoff: Should be fun.
Craig: All right, that's it for this week's edition of WTI.  Thank you for reading, and Go Blue.
Geoff: So long, everyone.
Jeremy: Boil the Beatermakers.

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