Tubatorial: Making the Past the Present

by Robert Haddad

A common way to test the value of our traditions is by comparing them to our present day experiences. If they resemble the past, or what we know of as the past then we tend to appreciate them more. We pay equal attention to that which we've never seen. But in order to determine value we usually need certain parameters to act as measuring sticks. To say "he's good but not as good as..."

What's fascinating when we incorporate sports into the conversation is that we tend to rely heavily on championships. Our fondest memories tend to emanate from our most extreme experiences. Winning a championship or a heart breaking loss. Joy and pain are shared emotions. But obviously to maintain a level of reverence, one must be successful.

So when we look back on the past eras of Michigan football we hold certain coaches near and dear to our hearts because of their accomplishments, but let us not forget to include the timing in which they arrived as factors of our fondness. No doubt their success drives our foundation and our culture but their success most frequently is predicated on the fact that they followed failure.

Earlier this week we took a look back at the contributions of Gary Moeller. A man who actually had timing on his side. No doubt his task was daunting. He was in the unenviable position of having to follow a legend but he had the resources and tradition that were laid before him by someone who not only redefined an already established tradition but resurrected the program after a brief down period. Bo was handed the keys to a vintage car in need of a tune up. Gary Moeller inherited that same car with a complete overhaul but same classic looks. All he had to do was drive straight. And sometimes that's the hardest way to drive. So Gary, much like many who follow in the footsteps of an icon acted as a bridge to a new generation. And instead of being able to crest his own wave he had to pass and let someone else try.

Enter Lloyd Carr. A non-descript assistant who had put in more years coaching as an assistant than his players had on earth. He was not what the fan base was looking for. But timing was everything. Whether his success came with the help of Moeller's recruits or not, Lloyd coached Michigan to it's first National Championship in 50 years. His success always revolved around that fact. What will be interesting to see is if Lloyd Carr will in fact act as a bridge to Rich Rodriguez or if he will be the second wave of our most recent run of success.

The talent level during the Lloyd Carr era is unparalleled. And our current age of information may be why we have less appreciation for Lloyd. Because we know what talent was available and the perception was they were undercoached. Will Rich Rod have the same talent and do more? Where do the expectations lie and when can we fairly evaluate the impact Lloyd had on this program? When Bo retired there was never a question of his value. For some reason Lloyd's is still in doubt.

Tubatorial: What's Your Fancy?

by Robert Haddad

The summer months, and for that matter most of winter and spring, are affectionately known on this site as "the off-season." And despite the valiant efforts of our non-revenue sports like baseball, softball, track and field etc...it will take a rejuvenation of our hoops team for that to change. So what do you do in the off-season? Undoubtedly this year has been different than most because of the change in coaching staff. The football team has clearly stayed in the news longer this off-season than in most. After the '09 class was announced in February and the spring game came and went, there were discussions on culture, family and organizational change as well as the pontifications of position starters most intriguingly at quarterback and running back.

And yet here we are in June, seemingly at the same place we would have been if we had finished 10-2 under Lloyd with a loss in the Rose Bowl. College football can be analyzed for only so long until the saturation starts to drown us. Naturally we push to the surface in an effort to grasp for air. We need some occasional breathing room from the game we love. Much the same as anything that demands the attention of tailgating and college football.

So we arrive at a historical distraction. And it doesn't involve donations or jerseys. It's simply an opportunity to honor one of the greatest athletes of this generation. Ken Griffey Jr is approaching a historic landmark this year. His next home run will give him 600 for his career. He has six on the year, in this is 20th season. At one point Nike suggested we "vote for Griffey" in 1996. An obvious indication of his popularity in the 90's. At that point he had finished his seventh season in the league and was widely regarded as the best player since Mays. In fact, he often made it into our baseball discussions when talking about the best player of our generation and the best player to ever play the game. By 1999 Hank Aaron had declared Junior as the front runner to break his esteemed career home run mark now held by Barry Bonds. A record that used to roll off the tongues of every mother, father and child in this country, 755. That same year as Aaron's proclamation, Junior was voted to the All-Cenutry team ahead of Bonds and Roberto Clemente (neither made the fan voted team). "The Kid" wasbaseball even in the midst of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa's assault on the long standing single season record of 61 home runs in 1998. 

The game might not light your fire anymore. It may never have. But its' records are the foundation of its' tradition much like the winged helmets (and not the "one" jersey) are the foundation of Michigan football. When Ken Griffey Jr hits his 600th there will be little celebration. I suspect because of the cloud of suspicion the game is still under and partly because Junior doesn't seek the attention some athletes demand. But when he hits 600, he will be one of the last to do so. Alex Rodriguez is on his way but the others on the list are closer to retirement than they are 600. And if you take into consideration the games he lost to injury, we could be talking about his 700th instead.

Our games change. Our teams change. Our opinions of both constantly change. And as we continue our transition to the new let us take a brief moment to celebrate our past by continuing to succeed in the present and the future.

A Moment With #6

TH - How did you wind up back at Robichaud?
TW - I wanted to coach football and track. I coached a couple of weeks down in Tampa Bay with John Gruden, got to see what football was like and my athletic director (at Robichaud) and I spoke one day and he was like, hey why don't you take both jobs (track and football)? and I was like, hey, I get to coach both, track and football.

TH - Ultimately is this just for the experience?
TW - Right now, it's for the experience. Every guy dreams of having his own team, of being a head coach of a team...As a player we always sit down and say "if I had my own team I would do x, y and z." So I have my own team and I had a chance to put those things to test. Some have failed and some work. But you don't know until you get a chance to try it. Does this lead to something bigger? I would be telling you a bold face lie if I didn't tell you I didn't want to move on and be an NFL head coach.

TH - Why NFL over College?
TW - I've always dreamed big but I want to be a college head coach and I want to move on to be a pro head coach. My ultimate dream is to be a GM.  Call me a dreamer but that's what it is. 

TH - What are some of the things that you thought as a player, coaches should have done and that you have now implemented as a coach and they've been successful?
TW - Sometimes coaches give up on things, they'll get frustrated and give up on a certain play or certain player pretty easy. And I've had that with some of my coaches. Coaches might look at a kid and give up on him and I'll say "wait a minute, he's growing." It's like the little things you're looking for in a kid. He might not be the greatest or the fastest but as long as he's growing and he's learning. As long as that light bulb is still on, it might not be bright all the time but as long as it's still illuminated...I took my NFL experience as well to try and help guys through.

TH - Are there some things that you didn't like as a player but find necessary as a coach?
TW - Yeah. I do. For instance, especially football being more of a traditional game, coaches will do it just because that's how it's been done for so many years. I'm not a big believer of just hitting all the time, just bashing each other. Now, there comes a time where you need to hit, but the whole practice? My guys will tell you, I get angry at them ...stay up; stay off the ground; don't tackle him; what if he rolls an ankle? Because I don't have a lot of guys and for me to lose a player to a silly tackle, it makes no sense. That's one of the things we used to feel "why are we out here beating each other up all the time?"

TH - What did you take most from Bo, now that you're a coach...ultimately there are two different things, what you can take from him as a man and as a coach?
TW - I didn't play under Bo but he was around and he and I had this talk about track. And even still afterwards he would give me a lot of advice but the one thing I took from Bo was, the coaches, even he as a coach and Moeller as a coach, they are held responsible. And coaches may understand why a player might make a mistake but they don't have to accept it. And it used to freak me out because I was like, “if you understand, why can't you accept it? And I tell my kids this all the time, basically what it means is, you're gonna make a mistake I understand that, the other guy is going to win I understand that too but, don't get comfortable with it. If you don't get comfortable with it, then the coach doesn't always have to get on your case, because if your expectations climb higher than the coaches then you're ok.

TH - Not needing to say something to a kid because you know he's not going to make that mistake again
TW - I've come to grow with some of my kids and now even in film sessions, if now that kid's expectations have grown beyond mine, so if he makes a mistake, I won't say anything to him because I know he's beating himself up inside.

TH - what are some of the major keys to recruiting at a school like Michigan?
TW - First and foremost, academics. Even though you recruit a kid, if the kids grades are horrible...so basically there's a window of kids you can recruit, they might be blue chip players on the field but if their grades are suspect, and not only if they're suspect you have to look at the life of the kid and decide, will he be able to survive here? So that's the first and foremost and I think that's one of the hardest jobs of recruiting is not only is he a blue chipper on the field but can he make it through the school.  And I think tradition is another one. They call Penn State tailback U and I talked to Freddy J a lot (Fred Jackson) and I asked him since you've been at Michigan J how many tailbacks have you had that go to the league and that have been all-americans? And you look at them, Myself, Biakabatuka, Chris Perry, A-Train, now Michael Hart? So the lineage helps out a great deal. Just players and players. It's funny, I talk like this now but I have guys that walk through the locker room that say, “I used to watch you when I was a little kid. So that helps a lot. And then just television. Kids want to be on TV. They want to be seen nationally. They want to know A) they're going to be playing for a national championship or B) going to a bowl game.

TH - In terms of coaching, and this has been a huge problem and it seems weird because we have the talent and we're successful, I love Lloyd Carr but how do you stop the spread offense?
TW - You beat the spread offense with pressure, just immense pressure. Really, the quarterback in the spread offense, all he is is just a running back who can throw. So if you give him time, he kills you with his arm and once again, if you give him lanes, he just takes those lanes and he runs. So if you sit back, he's going to kill you. My take on it is, why sit back and get shot up? If I'm gonna get shot up I'm coming at you, I'm coming with pressure.

TH - Of all the teams that you've been around, and growing up in Michigan, who is the best player that you've seen come through Michigan?
TW - Oh man. I would go with two. I don't know really how to rate them but I'll say Tripp Welborne. Oh man, he was incredible. Number three. To me, seriously, the style he had on the field. He would take an interception back, or a punt return and then block a field goal! They were playing Michigan State and there's a picture of him and Vada Murray and they're jumping (to block a field goal) and it looked like they were seven feet off the ground man. It's one of the sweetest pictures. Tripp was one of my guys. I love Tripp to death. Then you go back and there's a guy that people really don't talk too much about but was an incredible guy and to me it was Mark Messner (born in Riverview!!). I think when you talk about offensive line, he wasn't the tallest, he wasn't the biggest lineman but man he just worked, he worked his butt off. I remember those two guys really well.

TH - What was your favorite place to eat on campus?
TW - Oh, where else? Cottage Inn. Cottage Inn lasagna boy! A couple of guys used to call me, what was that cats name? Oh Garfield. A couple of guys used to call me Garfield because I used to eat the lasagna all the time.

TH - I think so much pressure is often put on coaches and certainly in college the spotlight shines more on the coaches now, you're given a year to turn a program around, even for the past 10 years people have been calling for the resignation of Joe Paterno, but what are some of the responsibilities for a head coach at the different levels?
TW - High School you are hands on. From my experience at my high school, we don't have a trainer so you're trying to patch kids up, trying to get them ready. You have academic counselors but you also have to be on top of their grades. And then in certain areas like where I'm at, you're playing counselor, you're playing bus driver, I might have to drive some kids home that might not have a ride home. You're hands on, you're everything to these kids. You have multiple jobs, you have multiple hats. College comes now where you're more of, you have to be more of a charismatic person because of recruiting. You have to be articulate you have to be approachable for tv. Someone that mom and dad can say hey, I'll put my young man with you for his four years of school. He can get his education and also be a great young man when he leaves. Also winning. College is big business. If you don't think it's big business ask Saban how much he has in his bank. And now more parents are paying big money to these recruiting agencies to get their kids recruited. So now it’s a business and if a parent says I don't want my kid to go to that school because they didn't win or because they didn't beat this school and guess what? Now that kid won't go there. Remember you're marketing to the parents, too. So the coach must be a charismatic person and he has to win. Then on the pro level, the bottom line is winning and having an incredible relationship with your general manager. They have to be bound at the head

TH - But clearly some systems, like Bill Belichek's or Bill Parcell's or Bill Walsh, clearly they have to know something more than someone like Bruce Coslettâ
TW - Well the second thing I was going to say is your system. Believing in your system and sticking to it. Not only believing in it but adding on to it, revitalizing it and making players believe in the system. And it has to be to the point where you say hey, it's my way, and it's not why because I say so, it's my way because it works. And you just have to trust it.

TH - We've got a tough stretch right now with Michigan, Purdue, Illinois, the big ten right now seems to have a lot of talented programs, hopefully we can keep pulling these things out as we've been doing, do you have any thoughts on how this season has gone down and what might happen at the end of the season?
TW - You know what? I try not to even do that because every time I try to do that I come out wrong. But I think right now, and I'm truly honest, but Illinois is looking tough. I think it's going to come down to Illinois. Penn State, I don't know who did the ratings, I don't know but Penn State paid somebody, they donated something to somebody because they were very over-rated but Illinois, I think whoever's going to win the big ten has to go through Illinois. Unless they have a big drop off but Wisconsin is pretty tough but they fell last week, I'm pretty sure it's going to have to go through Illinois.

TH - And one day if Michigan calls you 10 years from now and says hey we want you to be our head coach, what would that be like?
TW - What would that be like?! It would be like, it took you ten years?!

TH - That means you want it in the next couple years?!
TW - ll take it! Yeah. I mean, why not? I'll put it to you this way, I always said I'm blessed beyond belief. A kid who didn't know anything, coming from the streets of Inkster, I get a chance to go to the university of Michigan, I play professional football and now I'm back coaching two sports that I love, at my high school. Then all of a sudden you tell me I'm the head coach at my college?! Come on now.

TH - What was the secret to this year? I have friend from Downriver, from Riverview and they were saying you're the talk of the town. The fact that they were bottom dwellers and all of a sudden you guys are in the playoffs.
TW - I'll put it to you this way. It's really no secret. It's just getting the kids to believe in a system.  We're all creatures of habit. You've probably taken a class where you say I've learned it this way and I'm going to continue to learn it this way because it's comfortable. But until someone gives you a failing grade and you start to opne your eyes and you say, "hey, let me try something else" and that's basically what these kids were doing. I had to get them out of their comfort zone and introduce something totatly new to them and once they figured it out they were like, "hey, we can play football."

TH - What was that? What did you specifically institute? Was it an offensive system, a defensive system, a mindset?
TW - It was a mindset. And it's called accountability. They would lose and they would get upset and they'd start pointing a finger and so I asked them when did your off-season start? And they said they didn't have an off-season. They say, I was playing summer basketball or I was playing summer league baseball or x, y and z. So I said, "oh, so you want to blame the coaches for your demise?" When football season is in, it's football season. Baseball season's over, get your butt out here conditioning for football.  I said "right now, we're on level three" and they said "are you kidding me? How many more levels do you have?" and I said "I have five levels." They were like, coach we're not going to survive level five and I said you'll be able to but those guys who are coming late will not be able to make it. And what happened was they started seeing some of the best athletes in the school dropping off but the guys that stayed in the program, they were like, coach I understand what you're saying now. I'm running around trying to do everything else except concentrating on the task at hand. And that's pretty much it.

I'll tell you another story. These kids are shoe crazy. I had some kids miss a Saturday morning film session to get a pair a sneakers. So our captains said hey coach did they tell you where they were going and I said yeah they called me and so they said so you know about the sneakers and I said yeah and they said well what are you going to do and I said it's not what I'm going to do, what are you going to do. And that's all it took.

TH - Start letting the leaders lead.

Well thanks so much to Tyrone. We talked for over 40 minutes and most of it as you can imagine is written above. He had a tremendous vibrancy on the phone and I believe will one day be coaching at the college level, hopefully at Michigan!

By Tuba


by Tuba

To continue with the theme of Homecoming and the bond that is Michigan football, I would like to offer my congratulations to Frank DiMaggio on his impending 100th consecutive game. And yes, for those of you who aren't familiar with the word consecutively and will undoubtedly ask, home and away? Yes, the man has awoken every Friday or Saturday morning (praise be to god, allah and peanut butter shakes) and made his journey to some far off (or very close) town, city, farm house, agricultural college or septic pool and gone to see the maize and blue embark on a seemingly endless tour of duty. From Pasadena to Bloomington and back, to the shores of Union Bay and picturesque Eugene, the man has endured.

But what is most remarkable is his resilience. Even after defeat, whether at the hands of an opponent (See Rose Bowl 2007) or a tailgate (See Rose Bowl 2007) he continues to thrive. He continues to post and he continues to lead us to what has become our tailgate salvation. But as we take a moment Saturday to honor the man let us not forget the people who have helped champion his quest; those who have endured Frank just as Frank has endured them. Just as any good husband would honor his wife for her never-ending love and devotion let me take a minute to congratulate Frank's many tailgating significant others who have no-doubt played a role in his tailgating life:

The Originators : Godfather and Captain. Maybe you see something in the webmaster that reminds you of yester year, or maybe you're too damn drunk to remember yester year and just enjoy the fact that you now have someone else to laugh at instead of each other.

The Trail Blazers : Dan and Stephen. It blows my mind that these guys go to every game with you. Maybe they get their sanity from the fact that you do what they're doing but at an accelerated life-style.

The Ladies : The Godmother, Lisa and all the other lovely girls in your life. So, yeah, thanks Godmother and Lisa.

Family : Your Sister, Nieces and Parents equally as lovely as the ladies. Certainly they're just as proud of your tailgating accomplishments as they are being a part of your life.

The Old Ladies : Misses A and Misses B, the two poor ladies sitting in the wrong row at the 2007 Rose Bowl. Everyone's a winner as the pictures were priceless and the stories will last forever, or in their case probably another five years or so.

The Rest of Us : Whether its rides to and from the airport, missed curfews, punches to the head, red wine on the couch, mud on the carpet, emptying septic tanks, re-designed tattoos or just your run of the mill tom foolery, your tailgating experience would be almost non-existent without the people you put up with....I mean your friends. Congrats Frank!

Droppin' The Hammer on OSU

by Tuba

Ladies and gentlemen of UMTailgate.com, may I introduce to you my associate, compadre and friend, Adam Liberman, Public Relations Master of one of the premiere sports franchises in Major League Baseball. He is a graduate of Ohio University and an ardent tOSU fan...which actually makes the conversations that have transpired between us over the last month acceptable because at least he's not a graduate! Earlier today Adam agreed to participate in a little Michigan/Ohio State Q and A. I have added some previous conversations to try and add some context to Wednesday's conversation...

Sent: Tuesday, October 17, 2006 3:02 PM

Hammer: Are you just burning up inside right now?! I went to the Vanderbilt game and the Wisconsin game and I just booked my flight this weekend to Detroit

AL: I am getting quite pumped for a possible undefeated showdown. People's heads will just explode if it comes to fruition. Now that Michigan State is past, it is smooth sailing for OSU. Love the fact the game will be in Columbus and that Tressel/Carr factor.

TH: I'm out of control over here. I've essentially been like this since the beginning of the season (although that's usually the case). It just rarely happens to play out the way we hope. I'm still working on tickets...I'm not sure what to do. I had credentials in 2000 when Henson scored on a naked boot leg to seal the deal but that was my only trip to Columbus and it was a much more peaceful time there (Cooper's last game). I can't imagine what it will be like this year. Are you going?

AL: I was at Cooper's actual last game at the Outback Bowl that year. So sad. Two alumni friends have entered the OSU lottery to be able to buy tickets and I'm seeing what may come my way...This year will be nuts. I last went in 2002 when they won to go to the National Title game and that was insane. Best game/atmosphere I have ever been to in any sport.

Sent: Monday, November 06, 2006 3:50 PM

AL: Your boys almost blew it last weekend! Find your way into tickets yet?

TH: Easy Juice Williams. I don't think I'm going to venture down there...I was planning on driving out to Chicago to watch the game but my buddy is convinced that he is going to drive me to Columbus with him as he has not missed a game since the '98 season.
Sent: Tue Nov 14 17:49:47 2006

TH: So I might have a ticket...

AL: Yeah?! I'm freaking out. I'm so ridiculously pumped. My parents said the coverage in Ohio right now is insane. How much on the ducat?
Sent: Wed Nov 15 00:18:49 2006

TH: Out bid by 25 dollars. Winning bid was 1034.99 for a pair in the Michigan section. I'm actually in Ann Arbor right now and am going to drive to Chicago to watch it with a bunch of my boys..

AL: It's nuts (no pun) up there, I bet?
TH: Calm before the storm. But obviously everyone is talking about it. To be honest I feel pretty good about our chances...

AL: Prediction for you yet?
TH: The score is something of a mystery for me. I can see Mike Hart getting 35-40 carries and having success on the ground. I really believe we will have success on offense but am not sure exactly what my expectations of said success are...150 yards from Hart? 3 touchdown passes from Henne? Not turning the ball over? I think the first two are quite possible.

Defensively I think I have to come to grips with OSU getting scores on at least two or three big plays from Smith, Ginn and Tressel. With that being said I'm thinking 31-21? I believe we'll win by two scores. I used to have a quiet confidence about Michigan football but these types of years don't come around too often. In fact I may never see a team as talented as this one ever again. This defense is superior to our '97 team and the offense is full of playmakers. I like the fact that Tressel is 4-1 against us as well. Extra motivation can't hurt.
AL: I can't explain it, but I REALLY believe in Troy Smith. That's what my head keeps coming back to. What can Michigan do that he hasn't seen?
TH: I don't mean this in a condescending way but have you seen our team play this year? I'm telling you…our defense is sick. Now, I'd be crazy to think that we could stop Troy Smith but to even think OSU will score more than 24 points to me is crazy. It’s just on our offense to put up 27 or more.
AL: Care to make a wager?!
TH: You know I was trying to think of something creative that we could come up with that would be respectable and also somewhat enjoyable...rather than 50 bucks or wearing the victors (no pun intended...) school colors. And seeing as I actually went to Michigan it wouldn't have the same impact no matter how deep rooted your ties are to tOSU. I just haven't really put my finger on what it could be. I say we think about some options and come up with something by Thursday.
AL: Sounds good. I should be in the NYC in December around New Year's time if that helps for ideas.
TH: You mean you aren't going to go to the Rose Bowl? On a serious note, Troy Smith scares me. Even with the defense we have I'm not so sure it's going to help us contain him. What team if any did the best in slowing down your offense and what can Michigan do defensively to give it's self the best chance?
AL: The best defense against Ohio State this season has been the weather. The monsoon-like conditions against Penn State, not to mention that terrible field at Ohio Stadium, neutralized the offense. They also had some issues with the 30+ mph winds at Illinois. Illinois played really hard defensively in that game, but I was left wondering if the ultra-conservative play-calling in the second half (20 runs, 10 passes) was the main reason for the goose egg. Other than those two instances, the Big Ten teams have failed to stop Troy & Co. Texas did an OK job, but the balance that OSU has is tough on anyone.

Michigan's defense is the first real monster OSU has faced this season and they will make an impact. I don't doubt they will get to Troy a few times and cause problems for Pittman and the ground game. The question is how often can they disrupt OSU's offense? They have just about everything an offense would need to be unstoppable: solid RBs, a stud downfield WR, a super possession WR and a fifth-year senior QB with cannon arm who can run. If they execute perfectly or UM can't keep them out of rhythm it could be trouble for UM.

Remember, OSU is the first team UM has faced that can match talent. ND isn't there yet. So, I think UM's defense will be effective (they are too good not to be), but I don't think they'll dominate like they have been. UM needs to be able to get a pass rush with their front four. Must. That will allow them to double Ginn and shift coverage to Gonzalez, who's Troy's go-to guy when the going gets tough. If Michigan has to bring extra guys to get pressure on Troy, they are in big trouble. The other thing is Hart and the Michigan offense must take time off the clock and the punting game needs to make OSU go long distances to score…
Here's your question:

I think many Buckeye fans are very comfortable with Troy Smith, especially given his history in big games. Are Michigan fans confident in Chad Henne in the "big" games and how has he grown in the last 12 months to make you feel good with him going into Columbus?
TH: Well if you've seen Chad Henne play this year you would realize that he is one of the five best quaterbacks in the game of college football. He throws laser guided missiles and to be honest, I'm not even sure if laser guided missiles are as accurate as Chad can be most of the time. He has however at times shown a propensity to leave the pocket when things break down and that has gotten him into some trouble when he decides to gain yardage with his feet, however I have confidence in him if he decides to throw on the run. If you saw the touchdown pass he threw to Adrian Arrington in the first quarter against Indiana or the game he had IN South Bend or the needles he has constantly threaded throughout the season this wouldn't be the area in which Michigan fans would have concern. Troy Smith is a much bigger concern to the Michigan fan rather than the possible ineptitude of Chad Henne which has been almost non-existent this year. I would however question whether the right side of our offensive line can hold up in pass protection. Which leads me to my next question...How good is Quinn Pitcock and should I fear the potential disruptive nation of the Ohio State front seven? You had mentioned that you thought Ohio State would sell out to stop the run...Every team we've faced this year has attempted this strategy and have failed miserably by getting torched with the deep pass. Will your defensive back field be able to cover Michigan receivers if asked to play man to man in an attempt to stop the run?
AL: I think this is a case where the comparable talent comes into play. The young Buckeye secondary now is experienced. They are also super fast. I had read about these guys last summer when trying to find nine new starters, but to see them is really something. In a year or two, it may be the best OSU secondary ever. But...they aren't there yet.

OSU will try to stay fresh on the D-Line with their regular rotation of as many as seven or more playing regularly. I think they try to stop the run without sending extra guys in the box, but don't blitz too hard. Make Michigan be patient and have to grind out drives. Giving up the 7-10 yard pass here and there and a 5-7 yard run here and there, but make UM go on long drives.

OSU is tied for the national lead in interceptions and the pass defense is improved over 2005 (those LBs were better vs the run). I think they play to that strength.

As for Pitcock, he's real good. Hard effort guy who plays run and pass well. If your center or guard are caught sleeping, he'll catch them. But he's not any better than those top UM guys like Branch, Woodley, etc.

My question for you, does Manningham really make as much of a difference as many are saying? Breaston is fast and can stretch the field just as far and Michigan always has a guy like Mario. Does it really change how one should approach UM? is he 100%? I have no doubt he'll one day be great on the read route and underneath stuff, but is he there yet?
TH: By saying Pitcock "isn't any better than" Branch or Woodley makes him out to sound that he is as good as those two. To give you a little perspective, most Michigan fans would tell you that Branch is the best lineman in the country and Woodley is one of the five best defensive ends in the country. Both seemingly destined to be drafted with the first 20 picks in the NFL draft next year, with Branch leaving a year early.

As for Breaston, he is our number three/four receiver. I would say freshman Greg Mathews is more reliable in the hands department but because Breaston still can impact a game he should be considered a threat. However, he is relied on for the WR screen and a deep out. Last week he scored his first (and second) touchdowns of the season and I had never seen him run the deep route so he isn't the guy you should focus on, although after last week it seems as though he's finally ready to step up this year. Adrian Arrington is our number two, really 1b. He and Manningham are as good a wide receiver duo as I've seen at Michigan. Toomer and Hayes, Terrell and Walker, Edwards and Avant. In fact Manningham might wind up being a better over all receiver than Edwards but I'm not sure he is as fast as he was before his injury. Just the fact that he played significant minutes last week means enough to our offense and to the game planning of the opposing defense that I expect our passing game to be efficient and effective. Manningham before he got injured had 9 of his 24 catches go for touchdowns. He is a very legitimate big play, deep ball threat. With that being said give me your keys to victory for Ohio State and your level of confidence in their victory out of 10.

AL: I think Pitcock is one of the five best defensive tackles and a first-round pick. So, pretty good.

Limit/cause turnovers
Stop the run
Establish the 15-20 yd passing game early
Solid special teams

I'm about a 7-7.5 out of 10 in confidence and that's mainly because of Smith. He is amazing. I've never trusted a college QB as much. He just makes plays and avoids disasters. The other big reason is that it is at home.

TH: That's the type of sentence I was looking for in describing Pitcock. I think he's just now getting his due. What potential areas about your team cause you the most fear and if Michigan is able to exploit would have a chance to win...assuming there is such an area?
AL: OSU had two problems with extra points last week, so obviously eyes will be on that.

The Bucks can be moved on with screens and quick hitches. Especially if the UM running game is on the ball. Offensively, I have no worry other than turnovers. Defensively, they need to prove they can stop the run without bringing up extra guys and living dangerously on the outside.
TH: Thanks Adam! Good talk and good luck!