Monday, September 05, 2005

It's been a good summer - Let's play some Football!

Wow - I can't believe it's been over a month since I last posted to this blog! I took my summer vacation up in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and spent a few days camping with my dad and my wife, Andrea, up at Lake Mijinemungshing in Lake Superior Provincial Park, where we had a wonderful time. Since then, I've had myself running in so many different directions that I've totally neglected this poor ol' blog, and for that I apologize.

This is an exciting time for me! My wife is going back to school to get a master's degree, the weather has been great, the NHL is set to resume regular season play in just a few weeks, and this past weekend launched the beginning of the 2005 Michigan Wolverines football schedule.

I think I'm going to spread out the focus of my blog -- Instead of focusing almost exclusively on politics and environmental policy, I'm going to take a wide-angle look at life in general. In the future, I'd like to continue to discuss politics, but also bring up hockey (specifically, the NHL and Toronto Maple Leafs), college football (Specifically, the Michigan Wolverines/Big Ten), movies (at least the ones I like), books, music, tech, gadgets, software and software development industry news (Think Slashdot, This Week in Tech, and Dot Net Rocks), podcasts, and anything else that I deem worth a few seconds of your attention.

I'd like to think that the end result of this experiment will be something along the lines of Rory Blythe's excellent, but given that I'm generally not very funny, I don't think that's what we should expect.

Sometime this week, I expect to weigh in on the NHL, the free agency situation, and my thoughts on the Toronto Maple Leafs. For now, here is some football talk:

Quick Quips:

  • The Big Ten started up with very strong opening weekend, with the entire conference going undefeated. The Big Ten currently sits a perfect 10-0, with only Purdue remaining idle. Mind you, the Big Ten's opening weekend schedule wasn't exactly tough, but it was a strong showing overall. Wisconsin looks like they were tested by Bowling Green, with a final score of 56-42, with Brian Calhoun leading the way with 5 touchdowns and 258 yards rushing.

    Don't expect the perfect season to last very long for the big ten, however, as next week's matchups include 1) Michigan vs. Notre Dame, 2) Ohio State vs. Texas, 3) Northwestern vs. Northern Illinois, 4) Iowa vs. Iowa State, and 5) Illinois vs. San Jose State. The Ohio State vs. Texas matchup is going to be one for the ages, with the Vince Young-led Longhorns matching up against Teddy Ginn Jr and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Since the matchup taking place in Ohio, and with Cedric Benson now graduated the NFL, one would think that Ohio State would be a reasonably safe bet, but I'm not so sure. Texas put up a 60-3 win over Louisiana-Lafayette, and freshman Jamaal Charles set a Texas freshman record with 135 yards rushing in his first game.

  • Last year's Michigan squad dropped the early-season matchup against Notre Dame, and was never really considered a national title contender after that point, so I expect the Wolverines to come out strong at home versus the Fighting Irish. The opening season win over Northern Illinois answered some questions, but left a few unanswered. Michigan's offense looks as potent as ever. Michael Hart looks to be stronger and quicker than last year, and he will put up big numbers once again. With freshman sensation Kevin Grady, out of Grand Rapids, MI, the Wolverines will have an outstanding 1-2 punch in the running back position (not to mention Max Martin and Jerome Jackson)

    Chad Henne put up ridiculous numbers last season, although he tended to rely on the outstanding play of Braylon Edwards quite a bit. This season, he will have to spread out the offense a bit more. The sure-handed Jason Avant stepped up to the challenge and delivered this weekend, with 9 receptions and 127 total yards receiving. Avant is an amazing receiver, and will enjoy a fine season now that he is no longer under the shadow of Braylon Edwards.

    For me, the biggest question on offense that remains is the play of senior Steve Breaston. Last season, Breaston was hampered the majority of the year with an injured hand. It was in last season's Rose Bowl that Breaston demonstrated his true potential, breaking OJ Simpson's long standing record, by combining for 315 all-purpose yards in a single game. Breaston has all the tools to be the gamebreaker for the Wolverines this season, and, for me, he is easily the most exciting player in the game.

    In the first game of the season, Breaston was used rather sparingly. Henne called Breaston's number a few times early in the game, with long bombs into the end zone, but the time was just a little bit off. There were a few throws that landed just outside the endzone and just out of his reach. I would've liked to have seen Breaston used a little more often in the first week, but perhaps Carr was just saving him for the Irish.

  • The biggest questions for the Wolverines are certainly going to be on defense. It was last year's defense that was the achille's heal for the wolverines. For the majority of the season, the defense did a fine job, putting up big stops when they were needed. There were, however, some weaknesses, and those glaring holes were the most obvious against mobile quarterbacks like the Longhorn's Vince Young and Ohio State's Troy Smith. The first game versus Northern Illinois did not answer many questions on defense, and the Wolverines failed to protect against the running game, giving up 216 yards rushing, including a 76-yard touchdown by Garret Wolfe. To their credit, the defense did manage to create five turnovers, which ended up being the difference in the game.