It's still the off-season and college sports news is, at best, sparse. So to pass the time we're making up our own news. In that vein we're previewing portions of the University of Michigan Football Team's upcoming 2010 Schedule.
Specifically, we're previewing the most dangerous players on each team Michigan will face this year. Some will be on offense, some on defense, and all of them will be players worthy of your scorn. We've got a full 2010 football schedule, so we'll break down the key cog to each opponent one at a time. We've even got a convenient schedule and hatin' guide for you to go off of.
There are just two opponents left on our rage record and they both promise to be two of Michigan's most difficult challenges on the year. Today we take a look at the rolling ball of destruction from Madison, John Clay. Clay was raised in the Serengeti by lions and didn't eat vegetables until he was fourteen. He was once challenged to a footrace by a Cheetah. He beat the Cheetah, then ate it. When construction cranes break down, they just replace them with John Clay. When NASA needs to move the space shuttle from hangar to launch pad, a heavily sedated John Clay is used to pull the shuttle into launch position. NASA quickly realized that the pressures put on the shuttle by allowing Clay to sprint the shuttle into position (once timed at 4 minutes) were too great, so now they keep him on enough horse tranquilzers to knock out Nicki Stix. Better for the astronauts, really. He's also a really, really good running back for the Wisconsin Badgers, and he's up next on our list 'o loathing.
Who Is He, Exactly?
John Clay is arguably the highest rated recruit in the history of Wisconsin football. Depending on your source, Clay was at the minimum top four running back in the 2007 class, or as Phil Steele put it, the #2 back in the class. Clay was an Army All American and held scholarship offers from every major program in the country. Once clay stepped on campus it was easy to see why. Clay cracked 100 yards three times his freshman year while seeing less than 10 carries a game and splitting time with P.J. Hill. Despite that, Clay accumulated 9 touchdown runs and showed a burst that simply shouldn't be possible for a man his size. At 6'2, 250, Clay runs like a person half his size and if given a sliver of daylight can burst through the hole at a frightening speed.
Big Ten defenses had just begun to be thankful PJ Hill had graduated when the realized that Clay was a much, much more terrifying opponent. in 2009 Clay was arguably the best back in the Big Ten. Rushing for 1,517 yards on 287 carries, Clay racked up a conference high 18 touchdowns. The statistics weren't even close. Clay out distanced Evan Royster by nearly 400 yards for the rushing title. Clay's 18 TD's were the most in the Conference, scoring 7 more than Purdue's Ralph Bolden. In fact, Clay was the conference scoring leader at the end of the season accounting for 108 total points, beating out kicker Brett Swenson's 101 points by a full touchdown. When in the hell does that ever, ever happen!? (Big Ten Stats).
More after the jump......
Look, Evan Royster's a great running back, but he doesn't hold a candle to John Clay who is arguably the best running back in all of college football let alone the Big Ten. Now that you know who he is, if you don't already hate him here are a few more reasons you should.
So, Explain Why We Should Hate Him
In last year's Michigan game Clay was an absolute nightmare. Running for over 150 yards, a touchdown, and generally curb stomping any defender who was unfortunately assigned with the task of stopping him, Clay ground the tattered Wolverine defense under his heel. So there's that.
This season Clay is even more dangerous. As a Junior he's a little bit bigger and a little bit more experienced than last year, which doesn't bode well for anyone opposite him. He also doesn't put the ball on the turf.
In two years he hasn't fumbled yet. (Edit - A kind reader advised me that is not the case, Clay fumbled 6 times last year. This something ESPN got wrong and UW's website doesn't follow.). Further, he's running behind what I consider the best offensive line in the country. You read that right. Wisconsin's power running game returns the entire eff-ing line, including First Team All Big Ten linemen John Moffitt (C) and Gabe Carimi (LT). Clay is already a bulldozer with scramjet, now he's got rocket powered road graders clearing his way. I think I just threw up a little.
It's not just the massive offensive line (whose shortest member is 6'4", 312 and is affectionately called "little bitch"), it's Wisconsin's offense in general. Wisconsin only loses tight end Garrett Graham to the NFL and reurns four of it's top five pass catchers and a senior, second year quarterback. Shockingly, if you take out two rough games against Iowa and Ohio State, Scott Tolzien was actually the Conference's best quarterback. Yes. I said that.
But everything starts with Clay. The offense keys on the run, and if Clay is stopped, banged up, or ineffectual everything falls on Tolzien's shoulders. And frankly we've got a better chance of beating him than beating Clay. So there you go.
Give Me His Weaknesses, So That I Might Exploit Them
He can't catch a pass to save his life. In two years at Wisconsin Clay has caught a grand total of ten passes. So at least you don't have to worry about him being a "dual threat". He's one dimensional. Granted that dimension is scarier than hell, but he's not going to get all "multiple" on you. Maybe he'll put the ball on the carpet, too. But that's all I've got.
There you go folks. Get your hate on.