The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
Mitchell, Upshur Set Decision Dates
Mitchell strikes a pose. [Photo: Press of Atlantic City]
Let's start with the probable good news before the probable bad news. Top-100 NJ WR Ahmir Mitchell tweeted yesterday that he'll announce his decision between Michigan and Ohio State on Thursday evening. Unless there's a major shift in his recruitment between now and then, Mitchell should end up with the good guys.
Four-star PA TE Naseir Upshur set his announcement for September 1st, and while Michigan is a finalist, all signs point to Florida State being the choice.
FOOTBALL IS HERE
VICIOUS VIC VIRAMONTES WOULD LIKE TO WELCOME YOU, PUNY HIGH SCHOOL LINEBACKER, TO THE 2015 SEASON:
This was only a scrimmage, but ask #46 whether it felt like it counted.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
when in doubt, picture of Peppers [Upchurch]
Maybe 500 students gathered for an open-ish practice on Saturday. Approximately all of them were dragooned by local media. We got an inside report from MGoUser Crisler Spidey; the thread on the board has maybe a dozen different takes as well. Blockquotes without links in the rest of this post are snippets from Spidey*. He would like you to follow him on twitter.
If Jim Harbaugh's goal is to spawn the next generation of Michigan sports journalists, he's off to a good start.
*[Sometimes the combination of the internet, paranoid coaches, and football is just terrific.]
Ding dings and boo boos
Amara Darboh had his left pinky in a splint. Freddy Canteen had his right arm in a sling. Patrick Kugler was on crutches.
— Jake Lourim (@jakelourim) August 23, 2015
In order of concern: minor, middling, a bit worried. A finger issue should clear up by the Utah game and wouldn't prevent Darboh from playing in any case; a shoulder/arm thing could be something that heals quickly or not; crutches are generally not good.
- Jourdan Lewis was dressed but did not participate. With various dudes in injury-indicating red shirts I would assume that means Lewis is obviously a starter they'd rather try to find their second corner with live-fire reps.
- Tyrone Wheatley Jr was on crutches, but we knew that he had hurt himself already.
- Spidey* caught this subtle thing: "Brian Cole, Karan Higdon, and DaMario Jones were all in uniform, but wearing running shoes instead of cleats. They participated in some drills, but not the scrimmage."
- He also said Jarrod Wilson and Mike McCray were both in red no-contact jerseys but dressed.
- Drake Johnson didn't play.
I wouldn't freak about the rather long list of names here; this is the point in camp where they've just come off weeks of punishing two-a-days and are trying to get everyone in reasonable shape before Utah.
Rudock looked far and away the better player, hitting his receivers with consistency and even getting a good scramble from time to time. Morris looked like Morris, consistently bombing it over his receivers' heads.
Let me reiterate how much better Rudock was than Morris. This does not appear to be a very close race at all. Rudock was connecting with all of his receivers, especially Harris and Butt.
Rudock got the great majority of the snaps with the first unit. Described as more athletic than what might have been thought coming in.. "A guy who may not win the game but certainly won't lose it." Performed much better than Morris, especially when evaluated with regard to poise, delivery of ball to the right spots and working through progressions.
The difference must have leapt off the field to those in attendance, because many of these takes are emphatic. Most of the passing was quick rhythm WCO stuff, which plays into Rudock's strengths—he's very accurate.
Morris still has a rocket for an arm, and he overthrew senior wide receiver Jehu Chesson past the end zone and into the crowd.
"Same old stuff" was another take. Reports from camp have been more positive than those originating from Saturday's scrimmage, so it's possible the students just caught him on an off day.
Wilton Speight got time with the third team late.
Also, Zach Gentry is enormous. That is all.
De'Veon Smith was your tentative #1 with Ty Isaac rotating in behind him and Derrick Green getting time with the second unit. Ross Taylor-Douglas made a few appearances with the second team as well, so 1) that's what position he's playing today and 2) Drake Johnson does not seem full go yet.
Kerridge was the fullback; Chase Winovich was the second option there. Winovich lined up as an H-back in the spring game and would likely reprise that role; he's not going to be as effective as Kerridge is as a linebacker deterrent.
Wide receiver & tight end
With Darboh out Jehu Chesson and Drake Harris were the first team guys, which is an indicator that Harris is for real unless his hamstring betrays him again. It does not give us much insight into exactly how much hype we should buy into—if Darboh was playing and Harris was out there in front of Chesson that would be time to (gingerly, oh so gingerly) ring the cathedral bells.
The scrimmage also gave further confirmation that Grant Perry is the starting slot receiver and that Jake Butt is going to be relied upon heavily in the passing game. Moe Ways seems like the #4 guy at the moment.
Jake Butt and Ian Bunting were first team tight ends, and Khalid Hill and Henry Poggi were actually the second team tight ends.
No AJ Williams is notable since there weren't any reports he was injured. Also notable is that Bunting got a number of snaps in 2TE sets with the starters. If his ability as a receiver is enough to offset what I imagine is still some pretty iffy blocking at 245-ish, that is encouraging.
Asking anyone to interpret OL performance without the benefit of replay from field level is folly. Nobody tried. The one note of interest is that the OL was as expected (Cole-Braden-Glasgow-Kalis-Magnuson) the whole time until late, when Dawson replaced Braden for a bit. With Kugler out Dawson is likely your sixth OL no matter what… and Braden's the guy most under threat.
Spidey caught the second team OL, one with some switches from earlier:
2nd team O-Line was LTT-Dawson-Bars-Pliska-JBB.
Kugler was out, remember. Previously Bars had been repping at RT and Bushell-Beatty at RG.
1st team tackles were Ryan Glasgow and Matt Godin, with Mo Hurst coming in as well. Hurst played second team with Tom Strobel it appeared.
Interesting thing: seems to be that Willie Henry has moved to defensive end. He was playing opposite Mario Ojemudia. Chris Wormley also took snaps with the first team defensive ends. Second team was RJS and Taco Charlton.
That would be bonkers if that's long term. Godin received a reasonable amount of time and did pretty well with it in spots (he was disruptive against Northwestern), but moving guys away from defensive tackle after the Mone injury would be odd. Especially since that would boot Wormley to the second team. As experiments go this one doesn't seem likely to skip.
FWIW, it doesn't seem like the Henry move is indicative of an actual 3-4:
All even fronts on defense
— Zach Shaw (@_ZachShaw) August 23, 2015
We'll see how it shakes out. I do think Godin is a legit player. Strobel's presence on the two deep as a DT is a bit alarming since he's listed at 6'6", 270 and was recently bounced to tight end, which didn't take. For whatever reason he's played mostly DT at Michigan despite a build that strongly suggests SDE in an under, which is a spot at which Michigan could use some depth. Instead he's playing inside and they're goofing with Henry outside. I dunno man.
As expected: Ross, Morgan, Bolden. There were occasional dime packages on which Morgan was the only LB. Gedeon rotated in with the first team frequently.
With Lewis held out the starting corners were Channing Stribling and Jeremy Clark—possibly a reason that the passing game was much more effective than the run game. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'. Max Bultman paid attention to Clark and thought he was all right:
Clark covered Chesson most of the night and looked solid. He was never beat deep, but with Darboh out, he wasn't covering a true No. 1 outside.
Disposition of Peppers was the same as it was in spring:
Jarrod Wilson and Jabrill Peppers were the safeties, and on nickel packages, they pushed Peppers to nickelback, with Delano Hill coming in as another safety.
Second team secondary saw Keith Washington and Brandon Watson at corner, Wayne Lyons playing safety with Dymonte Thomas, and Terry Richardson at nickel.
Losing Blake Countess is going to rankle if Lyons isn't even playing cornerback. No idea what that says about anything. If things aren't going well they do have the option of moving Peppers to boundary and using Hill as a full-time starter. They clearly do not want to do that.
Reports on the kicking game varied. (As per the spring game, there were no punts.) Freshman scholarship kicker Andrew David did not make an appearance; walk-ons Kyle Seychel and Kenny Allen were either wobbly or fine. Bultman:
Senior Kenny Allen and sophomore Kyle Seychel both took field goals, but neither was very consistent. Seychel appeared to have the bigger leg, but his misses were also by a wider distance than Allen's.
Sounds like the Harbaughffense:
Formations were mostly under center with singleback or I-form, shifting the fullbacks and tight ends all over the place. Slot receivers were usually just tight ends who motioned out the slot.
That might be a reason Bunting got significant time. He is a threat split out.
We had a survey, 3,556 people responded to it. We learned some things about them:
1. They only get to a few games
The average was two a year but the split is more like 26% go to no games, 36% get to one, and 38% get to more than one.
2. Most don't have season tickets
Four in five (79%) responders don't. Also, when these were run against the previous question season, ticket holders averaged 5.05 games a year, while non-season ticket holders went to 1.11 per year. Season ticket holders were then asked if they would have renewed if Michigan had kept Hoke. Most (68 percent) would but even 32 percent "no" is ominous:
3. There's a clear preference for ADs
On overwhelming majority (almost 90%) of respondents gave Brandon a 1 or a 2. Conversely, Hackett cleaned up; among Michigan fans just 17 people who are impossible to please out of 3400 is some kind of magic. Brian demanded I combine these in a bar graph.
Ace: "That is beautiful."
Brian: "See? Bar graphs!"
Harbaugh has some catching up to do on his boss, at a still really positive approval rating of 4.27 out of 5. Then again Hackett has already reeled in a 5-star while I guess Harbaugh has yet to do so.
5. As for his predecessor
6. They'll pay more for better opponents, but not too much.
What they have now is about what the market wants to bear.
7. What they want to wear
Either the readership didn't understand that Underground Printing is our t-shirt guys and this would essentially mean MGoBlog gets to design all the uniforms, or they understood too well. Anyway UGP barely beat Under Armour, probably because they're the only company other than Nike that spells their name right.
8. Who they'd like to play
You're going to have to click this one I think:
Notre Dame is the obvious one, and the next-most popular was Harbaugh taking a shot at his old team. Stanford makes a lot of sense in fan type, location worth visiting, old history, and a team we haven't seen much of. LSU would be great too though it probably will be less fun (and less easy) once Les and Cam are out of there. The Pac and SEC were easily the most desirable conferences. A breakdown:
|ACC (no ND)||1312|
The games already scheduled weren't included, otherwise I'm sure the interest in Texas and Oklahoma would shoot the Big XII back up to at least ACC levels, while Washington and Colorado could put the Pac 12 on equal footing with the SEC.
Craig Ross has deigned to grace us with his presence as the season approaches, so we're back at it on WTKA. This week:
- Craig demonstrates the art of marketing.
- Jeremy Clark, corner?
- The Peppers disposition.
- Linebackers. I did not break Desmond Morgan's hand as part of a nefarious ploy to have him available for year one of Harbaugh.
- DE/Buck/3-4/4-3 complaining!
- Harbaugh on his best behavior… for now.
Toot toot, all aboard the submarine!
THE USUAL LINKS
Hello. This is an excerpt from "ENDZONE: The Rise, Fall, And Return of Michigan Football" that John Bacon allowed us to run if I would once more refer to the book by its actual name instead of "Brandon's Lasting Lessons." I have now discharged that obligation.
We pick up the story the day after the Minnesota game. Shane Morris has been hit on the head, Devin Gardner lost his helmet and Morris re-entered, and the world waits for an explanation of what's going on…
At 11 a.m. Sunday, after every football game, the medical staff completes its routine postgame interactions with the coaching staff, including Brady Hoke, to apprise them of the status of all the players—something I’ve witnessed dozens of times. In addition, head trainer Paul Schmidt talked with Hoke once on Saturday, three times on Sunday, and once on Monday, giving him the complete information Dr. Kutcher and the staff had gathered on Shane Morris’s condition at each stage.
In short, there was no lack of communication between the medical staff and the coaching staff—nor within the medical staff itself, a group I’ve seen exhibit mutual respect, personally and professionally.
The Big Ten also called Michigan Sunday morning to let the coaching staff know the referee who had told Hoke, after Devin Gardner’s helmet had popped off, that calling a time-out would not allow him to put Gardner back on the field was, in fact, incorrect, and Hoke was right. It’s not that often the Big Ten office admits it was wrong, but they told the staff, not the media, so no one outside Schembechler Hall knew about it.
Finally sensing that a national story was rising around them, the department sent out a press release from Brady Hoke Sunday evening. It said, in part, “. . . Shane Morris was removed from yesterday’s game against Minnesota after further aggravating an injury to his leg that he sustained earlier in the contest . . . The University of Michigan has a distinguished group of Certified Athletic Trainers and team physicians who are responsible for determining whether or not a player is physically able to play. Our coaches have no influence or authority to make determinations if or when an injured player returns to competition . . .”
The release addressed some important points—that Morris had been pulled for his ankle, not the hit to his helmet, and that the coaches have no authority over the medical staff—but failed to answer the most pressing question: Did Morris have a concussion or not? If he did, why did he go back in the game?
Needless to say, instead of bringing closure to the story, this half-baked attempt would only raise more questions.
To withstand these slings and arrows, Brandon needed the Michigan family to band together like never before: the students, the alumni, the fans, faculty and lettermen, not to mention his own staff. But when he looked up, he found the family had already scattered. They had resigned, they’d been fired, they’d been angered, they’d been estranged. Some had simply become fed up with the whole thing, and walked away from something they thought they would love their whole lives.
Brandon would be on his own.
When the athletic director, his leadership team, his coaches, and the players woke up Monday morning, they found a pile of bad news on their doorstep. The football team was off to a disastrous 2–3 start. The department was still getting lambasted for the Cokes-for-tickets “retail activation,” and the stadium was showing large bands of empty seats—and that was all topped by the op-ed headline in the Michigan Daily: “Brady Hoke Must Be Fired.”
[After THE JUMP: nothing good happens in a 17 hour meeting]
Two Detroit King prospects who once looked long gone are taking a hard look at Michigan. The turnaround with four-star WR Donnie Corley has been dramatic. Corley told The Wolverine's Brandon Brown this week that two recent unofficials—and a bit of apparel news—have really helped Michigan's cause ($):
"Michigan is doing great [with me]. They got that Jordan thing, that was really sweet," Corley said through a big grin. "That's definitely big. That would be sweet, with Jordan cleats, and the shoes and everything. It's a big deal. They are doing real good right now."
Corley added his mom "loved everything about the visit" when they were in town for the BBQ and they also came away with a lot of helpful answers when they took an academics-centric visit. While it's early yet to say if Michigan has caught up to their two chief rivals in Corley's recruitment, they've made a ton of recent progress.
That could help them reel in four-star King CB Lavert Hill. The Penn State commit told TMI's Josh Newkirk his relationship with Michigan is "developing" and mentioned a desire to play college ball with Corley ($):
“Me and Donnie would like to play with each other in college,” Hill said of Corley. “Me and him talk about it mostly everyday.”
Package deals are fickle beasts, of course, but it's worth noting Corley isn't taking a hard look at Penn State. Michigan State is also pushing hard for the pair, but Hill seems more likely to end up in Ann Arbor, especially with his brother Delano Hill in line for major playing time this year.
Another in-stater to keep an eye on: four-star Farmington Hills Harrison DE Khalid Kareem, who told Brown that "Michigan is still in a lot of contact" with him ($). While his only planned official at the moment is to Alabama, the school he committed to over M in a very tight race, he's considering using another to see Ann Arbor again.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]