If you couldn't tell from the fact that I post the relevant previews whenever I get a chance, Pre-Snap Read is one of my favorite college football websites, and for me it has been an invaluable resource when looking at other teams that I don't follow as closely as Michigan (read: all of them).
Well, today Paul Myerberg released his preview of MIchigan in 2012. He has the Wolverines 18th and says some good things while admitting that the going will be tougher this year. First, he sums up the vast improvement of the 2011 season about as well as I have seen it done:
Tidbit (strong play edition) There was improvement where it counts: Michigan went from 7-6 to 11-2, which is all that matters. But how did the Wolverines go from the lower rung of the Big Ten to a B.C.S. bowl? By making enormous strides in the four areas where nearly all good teams excel: on third down, in turnover margin, in the running game and in overall discipline. U.M. improved to 15th nationally in third down offense, converting 47.0 percent of its attempts; on defense, U.M. went from allowing opponents to convert on 43.3 of their tries to only 36.4 percent - moving from 95th in the F.B.S. to 36th. The Wolverines were plus-seven in turnover margin, up from minus-10 in Rodriguez's final season. The running game continued to click, as it did in 2010, while Michigan's run defense allowed 57.2 fewer yards per game. Finally, U.M. ranked fifth in the country in both penalties and penalty yards per game.
On Robinson essence as a quarterback:
Improvement as a passer will come with added experience in this system, though Robinson does need help from Michigan's receiver corps. Is Robinson ever going to slide into the program's elite group of pocket passers? Of course not. And in a way, what causes Robinson to toss 15 interceptions, as he did last fall, is also what makes him so outstanding - he's unable to ratchet it back, whether in the pocket or outside the tackles, which leads to both interceptions in bunches and 80-yard touchdown runs. Look for some subtle progression, particularly when it comes to Robinson's patience in the pocket, but don't look for some floor-to-ceiling statistical growth. He's a Heisman favorite because of the entire package, not as a thrower.
On Mattison and what is enough:
I'm beginning to wonder when defensive coordinator Greg Mattison will be satisfied - or if he's able to be satisfied. Last year's growth, the play of a defense left for dead then rejuvenated under his close and careful watch? Not good enough. The steady progress of his returning starters? Not good enough. The play of the returning contributors either moving into starting roles or looking at increased playing time? You know that Mattison isn't happy about that. I get the impression that nothing related to this defense satisfies Mattison, which explains why last year's group was so improved. It's clear that Michigan, as run by Mattison, will settle for nothing less than perfection on the defensive side of the ball.
And his conclusion:
In a nutshell This is a better team that won't win as many games. To look at the Wolverines' personnel issues ignores the biggest reason why you'll see improvement: Michigan is now familiar with Hoke, this staff and all that entails, and that fact alone is going to lead to a more consistent level of play on offense, defense and special teams - yes, even special teams. The offense, headlined by Robinson, is the only one in the Big Ten capable of scoring at will - at any point on the field, at any time, in one play. With Mattison running the show, the defense should be no worse than it was a year ago. I'm confident that Hoke will do whatever it takes to improve his team's play on special teams.
Take a bow, Paul. You've absolutely nailed this one. I encourage everyone to go read this preview in its entirity, and to check out some of the other great previews over there. The fact that Mr Myerberg does 120-ish of these previews a year is incredible to think about.
A two pack of fluff:
Enjoy, since the walls of Fort Schembechler insure that only the marshmallowiest of fluff will make it to the press.
2012 Season Countdown: #15 Devin Gardner - TTB gets to Devin Gardner in the annual player countdown, and comes to a pretty reasonable conclusion when it comes to role and production. Would you expect anything less from Magnus?
In Pursuit of Perfection: The Fred Goelz Story - When late night emails go wrong.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott: Coaches' poll 'a fallacy' - Whoa whoa whoa whoa, you mean to tell me that it might not be a great idea to let coaches (who don't watch games, have a vested interest in who is voted where, and have long held biases and relationships clouding their judgment) vote in the top-25 poll? Well, now I've heard everything.
"I think it's an unfair position to put the coaches in, to supposedly vote objectively when they've got a very natural conflict of interest, No. 1, and, No. 2, I think most coaches are focused on their own games -- let alone breaking down tape afterwards and all that," Scott said in an interview with 710-ESPN's "Mason and Ireland Show" on Wednesday. "So to expect that coaches could have a good, balanced, well-researched perspective on who the pest teams are in any given week is a fallacy."