Peppers at 10, which seems low.
Star Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield could lead the Sooners back to the playoff
I wrote about the Big 12 and its possible future expansion last week, and while that stuff is compelling in terms of the long-term impact on certain programs, the games themselves are why we follow the sport. Regardless of what may or may not happen with Houston, BYU, Cincinnati, etc., there’s still football to be played on the field, and thank goodness for that.
In 2015, Oklahoma withstood a bizarre upset at the hands of Texas and eventually won the conference outright, becoming the first Big 12 team to make the playoff in its brief history. TCU and Baylor had been expected to duel it out at the top again, but the injury bug struck both teams – Baylor was playing a WR as a wildcat QB because they didn’t have any left, TCU lost tons of players on the defensive side of the ball. Oklahoma State bounced back nicely from a down year and won their first ten games before losing their last three (which were their three toughest). Texas didn’t take a step forward and Charlie Strong now sits at 11-14 overall in Austin, squarely on the proverbial hot seat. The Dana Holgerson era in West Virginia might have already stalled as well.
The Big 12 is sort of expected to play out much like it did last year: Oklahoma is the favorite, returning quite a bit of a potent offense, while Oklahoma State, TCU, and Baylor are expected to challenge the Sooners – though Baylor has been thrown into turmoil because of unreported sexual assault claims (they already fired Art Briles, the only great football coach they’ve ever had because of his role in the scandal). Some team will probably surge forward from the middle of the pack, but each have unresolved questions that could submarine their seasons. Predicting history to repeat itself in a sport as volatile as college football is a fool’s errand, but that might be what it looks like on paper.
[Team previews after the JUMP]
This is about college football. The NFL list is "why are you the way you are" ten times.
10. Fumbles out of the endzone are treated like other fumbles.
Nonsense that a fumble that goes out at the one stays with the team that fumbled but one that brushes the pylon is a game-changing turnover. Way to emphasize the essentially arbitrary nature of both football and life, rule. You suck!
9. Count intentional grounding as a sack, and count sacks against pass yardage.
This doesn't do anything to help on-field things but hoooooo boy do I want to throttle whoever came up with these inane statistical quirks that I shake my fist at every week during the season. If I was a defensive end and saw the QB fling the ball moments before I engulfed him and then I didn't get credit for a sack I would send a sternly-worded letter to someone. You better believe that.
8. Actually enforce illegal man downfield rules.
that's two count-em two Air Force OL seven yards downfield on a pass
It's three yards in college and one in the NFL, except it's more like infinity yards in college since refs don't bother calling it*. The lack of enforcement here has created an indefensible subset of run/pass option plays. Those are fine, as long as they stay within the rules. If OL are allowed to go downfield and cut block linebackers, which I have seen multiple times in UFR, you might as well bury defensive coordinators alive. They'll enjoy it more than defending RPOs.
*[Except once when Taylor Lewan engaged a guy on a pass block and blocked him so dang good they ended up a few yards downfield. In the aftermath the announcers admonished him for not being aware enough of where he was on the field; I swore so hard at these gentlemen that an iceberg shaped like a middle finger broke off of Greenland.]
7. College overtime starts at the 35.
The 25 is so close that even a three-and-out gives the offense a reasonably makeable field goal. Moving the start back to the 35 would make each overtime period more likely to be decisive and help prevent 6 OT marathons.
6. Adopt NFL punt coverage rules.
Spread punting and its seven gunners have made the punt return an increasingly boring exercise in watching several people surround a ball until it ceases moving.
That percentage doesn't include balls that aren't fielded at all.
The NFL prohibits all but two people from leaving until the ball is gone; adopting similar rules in CFB would restore some of the drama when man kicks ball to Jabrill Peppers-type object.
6. Adopt MGoPlayoff and never change it.
In a nutshell: 6 team playoff with home games the first two rounds and the championship at the Rose Bowl. Six teams allows all reasonable contenders in almost every year without much if any filler. Byes for the top two and home games help preserve the importance of the regular season despite the slight expansion of the field. Having things at the Rose Bowl is just obvious man. All things should be at the Rose Bowl.
5. Change the scholarship cap to an annual one.
I'm ignoring Title IX and the absurd ways it funnels money from poor to rich here, so that objection is noted.
Virtually all of the problems with oversigning and medical redshirts and not-so-voluntary transfers go away if the incentives change. With an annual cap of new scholarship players instead of an overall one, schools are incentivized to keep everyone around in case they work out. I'd set it at 25 since there would be attrition still; you could tweak it if that ended up being insufficient.
4. Allow players to sign an early, non-binding LOI.
Moving Signing Day up is a dumb idea, but it's one that gets pushed on the regular because some people think the current "offer" environment is bad for player and program. They might have a point, but allowing people to sign mostly-binding LOIs before hiring and firing gets done just increases the chances that bad fits get locked in.
Instead, create a system where recruits can sign an early LOI. Parameters:
- The team must offer a scholarship on Signing Day.
- Team and recruit can have unlimited contact; other teams can have none.
- Recruit cannot take officials to other campuses; gets second to team he signs with.
- Recruit can withdraw NBLOI at any time until Signing Day.
A NBLOI offers more certainty for both player and program without the deleterious effects of locking players in early.
3. Add an FCS exhibition before the season. Other FCS games don't count.
Doesn't count against redshirts. Doesn't require players who are actually going to see the field to play. Adds another chunk of revenue with which schools can play more meaningful nonconference games. Prevents that week where everyone in the SEC plays Chattanooga at the same time.
2. Kickoffs that go through the uprights are worth a point.
Yeah buddy. Put some bite in those personal fouls after touchdowns.
1. Multiball allows you to score as many touchdowns as you need.
In the last two minutes you can snap as many balls as you please as long as they're all snapped at the same time. You get the outcome of the worst ball, but if you score with both you get two touchdowns.
It lives! When Homesure Lending sponsored these posts, Matt admonished me that his sponsorship was contingent on me actually doing all of them. So, yeah, next time you see him buy him a beer and get a mortgage. Matt just pinged me in case a refi made sense, demonstrating that 1) he's always on the lookout if he can save you money and 2) rates must be even more absurdly low than they were a couple years ago.
Formation notes: I'm not sure if we've seen this before at M:
There are three tight ends to the right side of the formation. "Ace trip TE."
This mess was "tight FB big" and went about how you'd expect:
And this is an example of how Florida spent a big chunk of the first half. Check out the defensive line. That is a huge split between the nose tackle and the defensive end to the bottom of your screen. Michigan had a hard time dealing with it for a couple snaps and then blasted it until UF abandoned it.
Substitution notes: As expected. Rudock, the starting OL, and the FB/RB corps all went the distance. Smith, Houma, and Johnson were your only RBs—no Higdon, no Isaac. I don't think Newsome got any 6th OL time. WR/TE was all Darboh/Chesson/Perry/Butt/Williams until the game was salted away. Michigan put in Ways and Harris in place of the outside WRs, continued playing Perry, and gave Ian Bunting some run.
[After The JUMP: rather big JUMPS forward for a half-dozen guys.]
(But don't fret, that's coming later this afternoon.)
In-State Squads Offer Livers
As anticipated, Michigan offered four-star 2017 Kalamazoo Central PF Isaiah Livers on Monday, one day after Michigan State came forth with their own offer. Livers visited Ann Arbor in June and had extremely high praise for the program in the aftermath, per Sam Webb:
"June 22nd was the day of the visit… it was on a Wednesday… it blew me away,” said Livers. “It was so far ahead of the other colleges I've been to. The University of Michigan was what you’d expect. It blew my mind, my dad was blown away. It just caught our attention, out of all the schools they're just ahead of everybody. They have the technology. What I like the most is the angle shooting (machine). You would shoot, and you would turn it on, and it would say what your angle was on the jump shot so you could fix it. It was really sweet. That school just blew me away. They’re academics of course are outstanding. It's just crazy. I'm going into business, so it kind of helps having a top ten school in the country."
Assistant coach Saadi Washington has recruited Livers dating back to his time at Oakland, and Livers said they have a strong relationship. Based on his size and this recent scouting report from Scout's Brian James, Livers sounds like a great fit for the four in Beilein's system:
Livers is a long 6-foot-8 player that has been working hard on his perimeter touch. He’s hit 37 plus percent from the arc in EYBL and against UBC the long forward sunk a trey in the corner and another at the top of the key. Livers is becoming a more confident shooter with his feet and his one-dribble pull-up jumper looks strong as well. Also had a passing lane jump that he pushed the other way moving through traffic and producing a finger roll.
Isaiah looks like a defender that can defend multiple positions. First off, Isaiah has really good length and he uses that length well. Players had trouble getting looks over the top of him and his hands up in the passing lanes led to three deflections. Also, this is a guy that seems to love to make strong box-out hits. Once a shot goes up Livers turns to locate, makes a stiff forearm contact, and then holds his man well after making the initial hit. Also does a very good job getting over in help to use that length.
While Livers had a great Michigan visit, he's far from a lock; he grew up a Michigan State fan and has made several visits to East Lansing. He told Scout last week that he'll visit MSU for a football game in the fall, and he's also looking to visit Michigan, Minnesota, and Cal; he plans to take all of his officials before making a decision.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Media days takes. Harbaugh showed at a place and said things. In response the media writes somewhat overheated things in response, because Harbaugh. The Sporting News refers to Michigan's "magical, millennial, marketable machine" in an alliteration explosion that engulfed their office:
“Harbaugh to my knowledge has taken no classes in marketing, never mentions the word,” Bacon said. “Yet who has marketed Michigan better then he has in the last year and a half? Not everyone likes it, but as far as getting and the name and the flag up the flag pole … Harbaugh has spread the "M" all over America — and to American Samoa — for crying out loud.”
According to Michigan associate athletic director Kurt Svoboda, the university increased its season ticket sales in 2015 to 89,875, the highest total since 2012. Of those, 72,076 were non-student tickets, the highest total since 2009. Student ticket sales increased from 11,597 in 2014 to 17,899 in 2015. …
"You can say he's 52 going on 25 in some ways,” Bacon said. “He's got more energy than almost anybody. He's in a rap video. As a rapper he's an excellent football coach, but you know the kids love it."
Looks like Bacon just put himself on the list of Uptight White People for the 57th time.
Harbaugh's ability to be the center of attention at all times arises naturally from the fact that he's got no filter and genuinely doesn't care what people say about him. So he'll climb a tree or dab for a recruit or schedule a month-long whirlwind of satellite camps, mostly because he wants to do these things, to win at various things of little to no importance. The marketing aspect is a side effect. It's not quite an accident, but it's not the primary thing.
The primary thing:
To that point, Harbaugh said almost every practice is mapped out for the upcoming season, mapped out on his computer. Fall camp will include a lot more four-hour practices, another concept Butt said might be foreign in an age where less contact is encouraged. Butt even told former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy about those practices this summer.
McElroy’s response? “You lost me at the four-hour practices.”
Harbaugh goes harder and his guys are willing to do the same given his example. Along the way articles are written.
Also this. Harbaugh's just way more interesting than coaches primarily focused on escaping media appearances without saying anything that means anything. Literally. Brian Hamilton:
Around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, James Joseph Harbaugh took the stage and an otherwise lobotomized first day of Big Ten media day festivities got interesting. All he had to do was wear the baseball cap, really: Michigan’s coach later explained his accessorizing was the product of going five weeks without a haircut and his affinity for the skinny ‘M’ logo.
He signed a fan's bicep with a Sharpie, then told the fan to come back for another try Tuesday because he didn't like the way his skin signature looked.
Of his appearance in a recent rap video, Harbaugh insisted that only "uptight white people" didn't like it. He even claimed to have written one of the song's lyrics ("Roughest team in the B-I-G!). At another point, Harbaugh used the word "meritocracy," briefly wondered if he had just invented it, then looked disappointed when he learned it already existed.
He is one of few college football coaches clearly operating his own twitter feed, because he's got something to say on it. Something like "I am Uncle Rico and The Georgia Coach is barking up the wrong tree."
Knock on wood. Harbaugh says Michigan is healthy headed into fall camp:
"There's nothing to report," Harbaugh said of player injuries. "We're pretty darn healthy. We came out of spring ball pretty darn healthy. We didn't get any of the long-term kind, six month injuries. There's always things that people are dealing with and working with. Our goal is to get the healthiest, most in-shape and strongest team we can on August 8th and then we'll take our shot."
Rumors about Chesson's availability have persisted through the offseason; he should be fine:
Asked specifically about All-Big Ten receiver Jehu Chesson, Harbaugh didn't give a definitive answer but did say he thinks he'll be good to go.
"Yes, I believe he will," Harbaugh said.
The only other player who had a long-term injury at the end of spring practice was Moe Ways, who has reportedly been running routes with the QBs for weeks now. Per Webb, Ryan Glasgow put up some impressive bench press numbers himself recently. Since his injury was to his pectoral that is plenty of evidence he's all the way back.
Recruiting is for gentlemen only. James Franklin's comments about negative recruiting from a while back are predictably a hot topic at Big Ten media days, but they're apparently based on an unrepresentative quote:
"All I said was that every kid that we're recruiting is also being recruited by Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Notre Dame and that they don't have the same challenges that we have now," Franklin said. "Then, in a separate quote, I mentioned that right now we're (dealing) with negative recruiting. It was two separate quotes, though, over a 35-minute interview.
"I never said that any of those schools are the ones doing the negative recruiting against us. They're not. There is one other particular school, but I didn't name who that was."
"…although it is blindingly obvious to you and everyone who reads this quote that it is Pitt."
Negative recruiting hubbub is always pretty ridiculous since things as innocuous as pointing out your relatively friendly depth chart will be twisted into "School X is in ISIS" by the time someone mutters about it on the internet. This seems a bit more ridiculous than most.
The Bill C preview. Bill Connelly's big Michigan preview hit SBNation yesterday. Happily, Bill saw through Michigan's roster subterfuge and knows that they get back most of their offense.
S&P+ projects Michigan to win 9.6 games:
If that sounds pessimistic MSU was at 7.8 a few days ago. Combinatorial math is harsh when you add these things up: Michigan has just three games they're not 75%+ to win and yet they're tiny favorites to end up with double digit wins. 9.6 is pretty good in this context.
There are a couple issues of the sort that are inevitable if you have to write 128 of these over the course of the offseason. Connelly strangely tabs the departure of Mario Ojemudia as the beginning of the defense's late slide and worries over the least worrisome bit of the entire team:
Things fell apart for the line right around the time of Mario Ojemudia's injury. There was still play-making potential on the edge, but it seemed to be a tough blow for Michigan's tenuous depth. Ryan Glasgow going down was the knockout punch.
Depth might not be any better this year. When you were only comfortable with seven guys, and two are gone, improvement isn't guaranteed. But when you've got reinforcements like all-world freshman Rashan Gary, it's hard to worry too much.
Ojemudia went down early in the Maryland game, a shutout. The next week they shut out Northwestern, and then they gave up some points. Against MSU and Minnesota they were mostly secondary issues; Rutgers scored just 16 in Glasgow's last game. Ojemudia was playing well but Royce Jenkins-Stone wasn't a huge dropoff. Glasgow was for a ton of reasons.
Anyway. Bryan Mone hype understandably eludes Connelly's take here, as does the somewhat more questionable emergence of Winovich and Marshall.
Peppers scouted. By NFL.com:
He is fluid in his turn, and he has excellent recovery speed down the field. He is instinctive and aware in underneath coverage. He jumped a bubble screen for a near interception in the Minnesota game. He is outstanding as a run defender. He fights through blocks and is a very reliable tackler in space. He shows timing and burst as a blitzer.
Yep. Concerns include an awkwardness in off coverage and a certain grabbiness that he's gotten away with for the most part. It was clear at the beginning of the year that he had a lot of things to work on in coverage; the good news is that he improved a great deal over the course of the year and should continue to do so.
PFF talks Ohio State. Their offense is an enigma now with just a few starters returning and JT Barrett's downfield ability in question:
The passing game is much more of a question mark, as Barrett has not had nearly the same success through the air as he has on the ground. He earned an average passing grade last season after performing marginally better than that in 2014, and he struggled the most on intermediate throws: On passes thrown 10 to 19 yards downfield, Barrett was just 12 of 25 for 211 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, earning a negative grade in that area of the field.
On the other hand he was their #2 running QB last year behind Houston's Greg Ward. MSU shut down the OSU run game and they foundered, as they did for much of the season. (Remember the NIU game?) Michigan did not do anything of the sort and got ripped. Don Brown versus and Urban Meyer offense is going to be the most intriguing tactical matchup of the season.
Etc.: Tough talk about the ACC Network's ability to get carriage. Ann Arbor is the most educated city in the country by a mile. Ian Boyd on Minnesota's three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust offense. The Black Heart Gold Pants crew is on the move. Barton Simmons catches on to Harbaugh's crazy QB coaching record.
We are drafting Big Ten teams because "Top 100 players in the Big Ten" #content wouldn't make us hate each other nearly as much.
Previously on Draftageddon:
Rounds 1-2: A Heisman candidate QB and the reigning Thorpe winner go after two members of Michigan's secondary. (M players: Peppers, Lewis, Butt)
Rounds 3-4: An underwhelming first swing through receivers, and lots of linemen. (Chesson, Cole, Wormley, Glasgow)
Rounds 5-6: A Michigan second-teamer goes before Purdue J.J. Watt. (Charlton, Hurst)
Rounds 7-8: Hodor. (Taco, Hurst)
Rounds 9-11: We go on a mini Iowa binge, and Brian takes a true freshman (YTTF).
How things stand:
We ran three rounds last time so now Brian gets to kick off.
BRIAN: Round 12, Pick 1: RB LJ Scott, MSU
Dude's gonna be a handful for awhile.
O: RB LJ Scott(MSU), TE Jake Butt(M), WR Jordan Westerkamp (NEB), OL Cole Croston(IA)
D: DE Tyquan Lewis(OSU), DE Rashan Gary(M), DT Chris Wormley(M), DT Malik McDowell(MSU). LB Raekwon McMillan (OSU), LB Anthony Walker (NW), CB Gareon Conley(OSU), CB Will Likely (MD).
Everyone else already has a tailback but I know these crafty bastards and can't wait any longer before one of them spite-picks Scott as a wildcard. Everything you need to know about Scott in two clips. Clip one:
(start it at 2:28)
Scott is half dump truck, half ballerina, and he's going to blow up in year two. Scott averaged almost 5 YPC last year as a true freshman behind MSU's M.A.S.H. unit of an offensive line, leading MSU in rushing yards with nearly 700. I'm a little leery that Gerald Holmes and Madre London will continue to siphon carries away from him, but since neither of those guys holds a candle to Scott he should easily surpass 200 carries—I mean, it's not like MSU is going to be throwing much this year.
Scott's drawing Le'Veon Bell comparisons and... yeah. I can see that. Dude is 240. PFF doesn't have much on him but did note that after three weeks he was averaging a very Bell-like 3.5 yards after contact. He's going to make the person who took Justin Jackson again feel bad, just like every time someone takes Justin Jackson.
[After THE JUMP: Spartan family dynasties. And let the Nate Gerry argument begin.]