Michigan or God?

BY: DALTON

Lord Almighty, its here at last! After a painstakingly long offseason of twists and turns, the fruits of our fandom labor are about to be harvested. Whether those passion pomegranates are sweet or sour will be known by 7:30 pm EST. On the road, versus a higher ranked opponent, week one is not a must-win football game by any means. What tonight is, to borrow a term from my Catholic brethren,  is a chance at perception salvation. Last football season, the Maize and Blue had the dullest, most unimaginative, and frustrating offense ever put onto a football field. It didn’t help that the Wolverines were forced to game plan with John O’Korn under center, but the coaching staff didn’t do themselves any favors, either. So, in a very un-Catholic move, Jim Harbaugh saw a glaring problem and replaced those in charge. A whole new offensive staff has moved into Schembechler Hall and, come tonight, will be under the spotlight of anxious fans. Nobody is worried about the defense. Don Brown has proven every year that he can coach his unit to be one of the best in the country. This season they return 10 starters, the most Brown has had return during his tenure at Michigan. Obviously, replacing Mo Hurst is going to be the biggest personnel challenge this season and should not be overlooked. Hell, Hurst was possibly the best interior defensive lineman to ever wear the winged helmet. But, I think its safe to say that if this year’s defense isn’t ranked in the top five nationally, something went horribly wrong.

Tonight’s game is more than just a game. I would love a Michigan victory, make no qualms about it. But, if they lose tonight it will be the way in which they lose that will determine how we should feel about this season. So no matter the result, Michigan football needs to move on to step “I” of the D.E.N.N.I.S. System. Inspire hope. If the Wolverines come out and Shae Patterson is 70% of what the beat writers have said he is, the offense looks balanced and competent, and the defense is as stingy as a rusted out hinge and still somehow lose, I’ll be alright. I won’t be happy that they lost, but my hope for this season will not be left on the field in South Bend. Harbaugh and Company just need to show me that something has changed since the end of last season. Show me progress, show me some creativity, show me that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, show me there is a reason to believe!

Now, we come to the headline question of the article. When the Michigan Wolverines take the field against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in South Bend tonight, who’s side will I ultimately be on? Michigan, the school I grew up loving, went to, paid tuition to, and graduated from? Or, Notre Dame, the school with the foremost connection to eternal salvation? It’s not an easy decision, that’s for sure. I’m not sure I can give a definitive answer because my soul rests in the balance. I will say though, that come January, I’d rather be staying up late on a Monday night than waking up early on a Sunday morning.

 

 

Lions Training Camp: What to Watch For

BY: DALTON

Lions training camp is this Friday (thank god football is back) and here are 5 things the I am really looking forward to:

  1. Running Back Battles: As of now, I fully expect LeGarrette Blount to be getting most of the first-team reps on day one. The role of Theo Riddick is pretty well cemented as the 3rd down back but that leaves a big question mark for the newest Lion RB, Kerryon Johnson. Will he be used in certain sets? Which sets? Are we not going to see much of Johnson because of Blount/Riddick? Then, in all of this RB mess, there is still Ameer Abdullah. It will be interesting to see these internal battles play out because, I think its safe to say, this is the first time in a while the Lions have had a logjam at running back.
  2. Cornerbacks: We all know Big Play is one of the top corners in the NFL, but who is going to play opposite of him? Will it be, free agent addition, DeShawn Shead or, the second-year player, Teez Tabor? If I had to put some money on it, I would say Shead is going to start out as the starter along with Slay. Tabor showed some promise at the end of last season but Shead is a professional who was an important member in the Legion of Boom out in Seattle.
  3. Kerry Hyder: The defensive line was one of the personnel groups on the Lions last season, but they also didn’t have Hyder the entire season. He suffered a torn Achilles a couple seasons ago and its one of the toughest injuries to come back from because it limits your explosiveness. We see it all the time in the NBA, a sport where explosiveness is considerably more important. If Hyder can return to 80% of what he was in the 2016-2016 campaign, then it is a major upgrade for the defensive front.
  4. How Players React to Patricia: This one is pretty straightforward. A new coaching staff means a new way of practice. You don’t have to be a genius either to recognize that Matt Patricia and Jim Caldwell MIGHT have some different coaching styles. How the players react to a more fiery coach will determine how the season starts and which players (special teams) will earn spots at the bottom of the roster.
  5. Offensive Line: I’m not worried about this group at all, in fact, the only positions I am more confident about are quarterbacks and wide receivers. If this group can just stay healthy through camp and develop a little bit of chemistry then they will be a lot of fun to watch.

Dwane Casey is the Newest Pistons Coach

BY:DALTON

In a move that shocked very few, the Detroit Pistons announced today that Dwane Casey was hired to coach the salary cap mess of Blake, Andre, and Reggie. Once John Beilein dropped out, it seemed like the no-brainer move for Tom Gores to make. Personally, I like this move by the Pistons owner. Not because its a splashy hire or a win now move, but it was the smart move. In an ownership era where smart moves have been few and far between, its nice to see a move that wont set the franchise back. It will be interesting to see what Casey can do with the current Pistons roster. Obviously the Pistons dont have the guard play the the Raptors do but when a coach wins 60+ games, he has to be decent. I think the biggest improvement we will see this year is on the defensive end. At the end of the regular season, the Pistons were a middle of the pack team defensively and the Raptors were the number 1 defensive team in the East and I dont think its that hot of a take to say that the Pistons have better defensive pieces than the Raptors. Offensively, I have no clue what to expect. It could be awesome if Reggie stays healthy and Casey finds a way to work Griffin and Drummond together, but if he cant it wont be pretty. Again.  I’m not going to get my expectations up until after the summer/free agency/draft/hiring of a GM. After that, I’m sure I can convince myself of an ECF appearance but we will wait till September for that.

SHORT SYNOPSIS: Thank god the Pistons hired, at the very least, good coach. It was clear the team had tuned out SVG so a new voice will be refreshing.

The Anatomy of Superstition

BY NEW WRITER DANNY RYAN

When I was younger I was weird(er). For years I had this weird little OCD tick where I had to touch my face and glasses an even number of times for good luck. I could be seen, fidgeting, whenever I was incredibly nervous about the future. This would be heightened in high-anxiety situations, most notably when I was around women I found attractive and during big sports games. Trust me, it made sense at the time. When the fate of the universe is dependent on how many times you touch your face, life can be stressful. While I have since partially grown out of that routine in my everyday life, superstition has always played a part in my short-lived sports career and long-term fandom. Every athlete has their pregame routines, but mine bordered on obsessive. Before lacrosse games, I would always do everything identically to how I did it the game before. I would say goodbye to my dog right before I left the house, making sure to pet him an even number of times and reminding him that he was indeed a good boy and always would be. It was comforting to know that even if I did die during the game, at least he would know how I truly felt about him (I did not do this for anyone else in my family). Once I got into my car and drove to the game, I had a strict order of songs I would play on the way to the game, culminating in me bumping “Welcome to the Black Parade” by the TIMELESS band My Chemical Romance alone in the parking lot. When I got in the locker room, I would always get dressed halfway before getting my ankles taped (bender). After I was ready, I would always play catch with the same kid, to warm up our sticks. For some reason, I always insisted on the throwing session ending in a hug instead of a handshake which is a lot weirder in hindsight, but I digress. After, I’d get fully dressed before having my teammate do my eye-black for me. My senior year we won more when I just wrote “Lion” on my face, so that became my staple. This was because I started trying to go by Dan Lion instead of Dan Ryan. It did not catch on. When we went out on the field I would always be in the second row, enough to make noise but not be a focal point. We would touch the field and I would always immediately yell “Cabs are here!”, in honor of Dj Pauly D and to symbolize that we were indeed in this motherfucker. Everything about each day was systematic and precise to a key and it usually produced results, so I persisted. Even though my athletic career did not continue (shocker), my anxiety/OCD still thinks I play a humongous part in every game for my favorite teams.

Now, during Michigan’s dream run to the national championship, it has been in full force. Today, right before the biggest game of my basketball career, I have my new rituals. I will be wearing the same clothes I have worn every game: a yellow Michigan long sleeve, black jeans and Sandlot edition PF flyers. No, they have not been washed yet. They still reek of beer and terrible body odor, but anything for the team the team the team. I will be watching with one of my oldest friends, because we win when we watch together. Naturally, I did not get a lot of sleep. Every dream I had ended with me dunking on Miles Bridges and for some reason I’d wake up screaming “HOWS YOUR HEART NOW URBAN.” Luckily, this morning I abused my cold brew consumption and listened to 400 Meek Mill songs to guarantee that I’ll be up till 2021. The final hours leading up to the game will be grueling, but, much like Duncan scoring at least 6, I know I’m doing my part.

Moments away from leaving, my dog is now sitting next to me waiting for me to say goodbye to him (he can sense anxiety, rain and victory). This could be our final goodbye, because there is an 80% chance that I don’t survive this game. Villanova is the most talented team in the country and is capable of blowing out any team. But luckily, we have a secret weapon they can’t create a game plan for: me.