...talks about how UConn hasn't been in contact and how they're out. (HT: UMHoops)
Ohmygod Ohmygod his tie is red his tie is red HOW CAN WE TRUST THIS MAN???!!!
I have to start Part III off with an apology: there will be FOUR parts in this series. As I looked at the data left to review for Borges' play-calling and the cumulative data I planned to analyze in Part III, I realized it would make for a long, long post. You people don't tend to like that. Plus, this way, you'll have an extra distraction at work on Monday AND Tuesday.
In Part I, Borges' first years in coaching (going back to 1975) and his rise to OC at UCLA were summarized. Part II examined Al's disastrous decision to return to Cal, his subsequent punishment as the OC at Indiana, and his triumphant and terrible years at Auburn. Now, it's Brady Hoke's turn.
"Resigned" sounds so much better than "fired," but that's what happened to Al Borges before the 2007 season ended at Auburn.
Borges sat out the 2008 season. It was the first time he had not been part of a coaching staff since 1974, and he had been an OC since 1985. There is no doubt that Borges took the blame for Auburn's 2007 woes, and, while some of that is surely justified, Tuberville was part of the problem too--he got canned in 2008. Nevertheless, Borges was the fall guy in '07, and was forced out even before the Tigers' appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
If you've read Parts I & II, you know Borges is a California guy. So after a year away from the only job Borges had ever had--still living in East Alabama where his wife served as Associate Athletic Director for Marketing and Communications for Auburn--I'm sure he was thrilled to get Hoke's call, even if it was coming from San Diego State.
Interestingly, SDSU had been among the schools that had reported interest in hiring Borges in 2005, after his record-breaking season at Auburn. I'm not sure Brady had to be very persuasive, but all Hoke had to sell as a Head Coach at that point was an undefeated regular season at Ball State.
On Christmas Eve, 2008, Borges joined Brady Hoke. They haven't been apart since.
The 2009 season at San Diego State was less than spectacular. Coming off of a 2-10 performance in 2008, the Aztecs didn't seem to have much talent, and had average attendace of 24,376 in a stadium that holds over 70 thousand. Not good.
But they did have Ryan Lindley. In 2008, the freshman had taken the starting job and had a respectable season for the unrespectable Aztecs. Throwing for 2,663 yards and 16 TDs, it was a decent season and earned him a 117.17 rating. The running game? It averaged 3.09 yds/att and accumulated a pathetic 878 yards for the season. Denard accounts for 878 yards in like six quarters.
2009 wasn't exactly a turnaround. SDSU doubled their win total, but that got them to just 4-8. And the offense certainly wasn't humming, averaging just 23.3 pts/gm (#85 nationally). Here's the final tally:
|Plays||%||Yards||% of Yds||Yds/Play|
The frightfully bad running game from 2008 was even scarier under Borges in 2009, but the passing game did take some big steps. At 77% of offensive yardage, the '09 Aztec passing attack represents the most yardage-biased phase Borges has ever coached--a full 5% greater than his 2000 UCLA passing offense. Lindley's rating improved to 123.45 on 3,054 yds, a 54.7% completion rate, 7.0 yds/att, 23 TDs, and 16 INTs.
The running game was atrocious. Bradnon Sullivan's 558 yards led the team. He averaged just 3.62 ypc. Only Borges' 2000 UCLA running offense averaged fewer yds/play.
In 2010, Hoke did what had taken him five seasons at Ball State--he turned SDSU into a winner. The Aztecs would ring-up a 9-4 record that was close to being even better--their four losses were by a combined 15 points. The offense would put-up 35.0 pts/gm (#19) and never scored fewer than 21 points. They hung 35 points on #2 TCU in Fort Worth, nearly beating the Horned Frogs, and coming closer than anyone else would during the regular season (Wisconsin came within two points at the Rose Bowl). Here are the Aztecs numbers from 2010:
|Plays||%||Yards||% of Yds||Yds/Play|
Was Al Borges dumb in 2009 and smart in 2010? No. Al Borges had a better O-Line. Al Borges also had a freshman named Ronnie Hillman--now a Denver Bronco--who ran for 1,532 yards and averaged 5.85 ypc. His 262 carries were nearly 200 more than Walter Kazee, the sophomore who was the "other" RB in the offense and had 324 yards on just 67 carries. Sullivan, a senior and the leading rusher from the previous season, had just 40 carries for 124 yards. Only Borges' 2005 Auburn rushing attack--the Kenny Irons year, not the Cadillac/Ronnie Brown year--averaged more yards per play on the ground.
But as good as that running game was, the passing game was better. Lindley pumped out 3,830 yards (#7 in the country) on 421 attempts (9.1 ypa) and threw for 28 TDs and 14 INTs. To put that in persepective, it would be the best season in Michigan history for a QB by 509 yards and three TDs. Lindley's rating sky-rocketed to a silly 149.43, good for #21 in the country and ahead of guys like Geno Smith, RGIII, and Matt Barkley (and one spot behind...Denard Robinson).
Which brings us to...
Dave Brandon approves this message
Most of us are familiar with Borges' trials since his arrival in Ann Arbor. He had never coached a spread offense before, and never had a QB rush for significant chunk of his teams' yards. Rather than summarizing those seasons, here are the numbers from 2011:
|Plays||%||Yards||% of Yds||Yds/Play|
As a percentage of plays called, Borges had never run the ball more. Perhaps even more significantly, the ground game accounted for 55% of the yards gained in 2011--the first time a Borges-led offense had more yards rushing than passing, and 7% more than the 48% from his stinky 2003 offense at Indiana. It was also his first rushing attack to average over 5 yards per play, and was more than a quarter-of-a-yard better than his previous best. The flipside is that Denard's passer rating would suffer, falling almost 10 points to 139.73. We would score 33.3 pts/gm (#26), go 11-2, and win the BCS Sugar Bowl. Yeah, you know that. But it's fun to look at.
Of course, 2012 was...not as good. But it certainly wasn't bad. At 29.8 pts/gm (#57), the 2012 offense had three parts: 1) Denard 2) Nebraska 3) DG/Denard hybrid. It makes for a strange statistical study, and I'm not sure how significant it is, but here you go:
|Plays||%||Yards||% of Yds||Yds/Play|
This is still Borges' third-best ground game (in ypp) and a pretty good passing game (rescued by DG). Denard's passer rating dropped again, this time to 126.63--his worst since his freshman year. What may surprise you is that Denard actually ran for more yards in 2012 than he did in 2011. The unfortunate accompanying truth is that no RB rushed for more than 514 yards (Fitz) or 5 TDs (Fitz again).
Perhaps more useful to examine would be the final five games of 2012:
|Plays||%||Yards||% of Yds||Yds/Play|
I was surprised to see how run-heavy we remained, although, as I noted, this was really still a fusion offense, utilizing spread concepts to continue getting Denard carries. There is no doubt that the running game suffered without Denard as the QB, just as it is crystal clear that the air attack was far more effective. Overall, in fact, the offense averaged more yards per play than it did in 2011 and, at 32.8, just 0.5 pts/gm fewer.
So what does all this mean? That's for you to decide. But in
Episode Part IV - A NEW HOKE, I will put the data together and attempt to find patterns and tendencies while spending some time pointing out some important potential error sources.
247 and ESPN have both updated their rankings since the last edition, and with several new commitments around the conference there are plenty of changes in this week's recruiting rankings. Most notably, Nebraska finally kick-started their 2014 class with seven commits in the last two weeks after having just two previously, moving them up into the MSU-Iowa-Wisconsin tier where they belong.
Changes since last rankings:
5-31-13: Purdue picks up Greg Phillips.
6-6-13: Iowa picks up C.J. Hilliard
6-7-13: Nebraska picks up Drew Brown.
6-8-13: Penn State picks up Michael O'Connor. Indiana picks up DeAndre Herron.
6-11-13: Ohio State picks up Sam Nuernberger. Nebraska picks up Tanner Farmer.
6-12-13: Indiana picks up Alexander Diamont.
6-13-13: Illinois picks up Austin Roberts.
6-14-13: Rutgers picks up George Behr and Robert Martin. Nebraska picks up Trai Mosley and Zack Darlington. Iowa picks up Jyaz Jones.
6-15-13: Nebraska picks up D.J. Foster, Demornay Pierson-El, and and Mick Stoltenberg. Maryland picks up Andrew Gray. Purdue picks up Kirk Barron and David Blough.
6-16-13: Rutgers picks up Logan Lister. Michigan State picks up Vayante Copeland. Minnesota picks up Gaelin Elmore.
6-17-13: Northwestern picks up Nate Hall. Minnesota picks up Connor Mayes. Indiana picks up Wes Martin.
6-18-13: Illinois picks up Henry McGrew.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|247 Comp. Rank* (Nat'l Rank)||School||# Commits||5*||4*||3*||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||247 Avg||ESPN Avg||Avg Avg^|
|2 (16)||Ohio State||10||0||7||2||3.40||3.60||3.70||3.50||3.55|
|3 (19) +1||Penn State||11||0||4||7||3.18||3.27||3.36||3.36||3.30|
|4 (20) -1||Northwestern||12||0||2||10||3.17||3.08||3.33||3.25||3.21|
|6 (28)||Michigan State||9||0||0||9||3.22||3.33||3.44||3.22||3.31|
|7 (36) +5||Nebraska||9||0||0||7||2.78||2.67||2.67||2.67||2.69|
|8 (39) -1||Wisconsin||6||0||3||3||3.16||3.67||3.50||3.17||3.38|
|9 (41) -1||Iowa||6||0||1||5||3.17||3.17||3.50||3.00||3.21|
|10 (58) +1||Minnesota||5||0||1||4||3.00||3.40||3.20||2.80||3.10|
|11 (60) -2||Illinois||6||0||0||5||2.67||2.67||2.67||2.67||2.67|
|12 (63) -2||Maryland||5||0||1||3||3.00||2.60||2.80||3.00||2.85|
*Full rankings and explanation here.
^The average of the average rankings of the four recruiting services (the previous four columns). The figure is calculated based on the raw numbers and then rounded, so the numbers above may not average out exactly.
NOTE: Unranked recruits are counted as two-star players.
On to the full data after the jump.
Junior Offers Out
Kennard and Coleman
Junior day came and went with one offer issued, that to OH SF Luke Kennard, which duh. Kennard isn't on the verge of committing and would like to narrow things down.
“We’re going to have to start narrowing it down some,” said Kennard. “Top 10 or top five, and then see where we go from there.”
Kennard plans to visit each of the schools that make the cut, naming Ohio State, Michigan, Indiana, Butler, and North Carolina first when asked who has the best shot to survive the trim.
Kennard is planning to hit Michigan's team camp at the end of July; M is reputed to be in strong position. Kennard hit up the Elite 100 camp last week and impressed Scout's Brian Snow($):
Luke Kennard, SG – The Ohio native had another excellent event proving to everyone that he is not only a high level shooter, but pretty darn good at everything on the basketball floor. He is more than athletic enough to guard high level wings, and then on offense his IQ separates him from most of his peers. Kennard is still somewhat left hand dominant, but he was able to get by guys going either direction. Add in that he makes plays for himself and others, and Kennard might have been the most complete wing at the entire camp.
A Beilein guy no doubt. Kennard is talking about a decision at the beginning of his junior year, which you'd think favors Michigan. Kennard has gotten around to Indiana, OSU, and Kentucky, though, so it wouldn't be a slam dunk.
IN SG Jalen Coleman wasn't offered over the weekend because he was playing in an AAU tourney and was unreachable, but he got his yesterday. He's not as familiar to Michigan fans as Kennard is. He did tell Scout's Kyle Bogie($) that he is planning some summer visits, "especially Michigan," amongst some other tantalizing things. Coleman will be a knock-out, drag-down fight between various Big Ten programs and potentially Louisville. He's named after Jalen Rose($), so we've got that going for us.
He told Inside The Hall that, like Kennard, he doesn't plan on taking his recruitment out too much longer:
“I don’t think it’s going to be senior year, I doubt if it’d be that late,” he said. “Probably his junior year he’ll be making the decision on what school he’ll be going to because it’s good to get that done, especially being an upperclassman so you can just focus on your team.”
Indiana offered Coleman when he was a freshman and seems like the main competitor.
WI C Diamond Stone has met the visit prerequisite but wasn't offered; Sam Webb says that's because he hasn't sent in his transcript, and once he does that he'll (obviously) get the offer.
I think we're for real
It's still a little boggling to consider that Michigan can go out and snatch a top-ten national recruit who isn't an enormous puppy-man, but the more information we get on 2015 NV C Stephen Zimmerman, the more I think Michigan's in it. His mom is handling a lot of his interviews, and even though this is an interview with a Kentucky site things keep coming back around to the Wolverines($).
I'm curious--who are the schools that he's having these 20 minute conversations with?
That's a loaded question... Coach Payne at Kentucky has and Coach Jordan at Michigan, they've tried to get to know Zimm. Coach Rice at UNLV too, and I think they have a little more knowledge of Zimm because his brother is his high school coach, so I think they have a good relationship. Those are the ones I can think off the top my head.
Zimmerman appears to really enjoy the idea of playing the Mitch McGary role:
Michigan is a popular school with several guards at this camp because of Trey Burke and his success this season, I'm curious, what are your impressions of Michigan and Mitch McGary from this past season?
We were really impressed because Stephen plays with Dream Vision and we ended up playing Mitch's team quite a bit in Stephen's first summer, so Stephen got to watch Mitch and see where he was at this point to where he is after this past season. You can just see that he was a man on that court now instead of the boy we saw just a summer ago on the court. That meant a lot to Stephen to see how he developed during the year.
Has Stephen ever indicated that he's felt like a school has had a similar style of big that he is?
You know, the only one he's mentioned is with Mitch McGary. He'll mention, "hey, we run that play" or, "Ok I see what I did there, I can try that." So that's really the only one I can think of that he's voiced, but I'm sure you know from talking with Stephen that he doesn't say a lot of what he's thinking in his head, so he may not verbalize it until a few days later, he's an observer.
Zimmerman's going to visit a small list of schools and I'd be shocked if Michigan isn't one of them. He just told a Rivals guy that Kentucky and Michigan were the "most aggressive" schools after him.
Meanwhile, in 2014 land
Jordan Barnett, Devin Booker
Uh… nothing's really going on you guys, other than AAU tourney after AAU tourney after AAU tourney.. IN SF Trevon Bluiett is status quo, deciding between Indiana, UCLA, Michigan and fuzzy potential leader Butler. OH combo forward Vincent Edwards is status quo, deciding between Michigan and Purdue. Michigan got CA SF Kameron Chatman on campus and offered; that's the only recent Event aside from a visit from MO SF Jordan Barnett, who could be in line for an offer:
“[Michigan] said they would like to offer me, but coach Beilein said specifically that I couldn’t get an offer from Michigan unless he saw me play,” Barnett said. “Beilein hasn’t seen me. He said if he saw me and he liked what I did, I’d probably get an offer.”
He's looking to commit by the end of the summer; Iowa, Texas, and Florida are his other main suitors.
MS SG Devin Booker still doesn't have a well defined top list and plans to take officials in the fall. Duke and North Carolina are taking themselves out of the running a bit after getting commitments from similar players, so Kentucky looms as the biggest threat:
About [Kentucky] — Booker appears to be quite high on its list of priorities. Booker said he talks with Kentucky coach John Calipari “on a day to day basis.”
“Me and Coach Calipari, we text back and forth, we’ll talk on the phone,” Booker said. “He actually has a good relationship with my mom and dad, he’s been talking to them. So we’re talking about a visit sometime soon. I think right now it’ll be an unofficial. After the summer, I might take an official.”
He told a newspaper basically the same thing.
Booker's in Michigan for the summer with his mom, hopefully hanging out with Drake Harris and enjoying the weather. He plans some sort of cut at the end of the summer followed by some number of official visits.
All of this will be terribly exciting when Michigan smashes Kentucky's recruiting hegemony and spirits away a bunch of top 20 players. August and September promise to have a lot of movement, as it seems everyone mentioned in this post, be they class of 2014 or 2015, is talking about making a decision before their high school seasons kick off.
[Sorry this one will be short but HTTV is going out today.]
I love me some plumb-able data, like the kind cfbstats puts out at the end of every year. And I love me some stats made out of ingredients that are don't get mentioned, like receiver targets and Bill Connelly's ensuing RYPR metric. Yes I've played around with it before, usually in context of how awesome Jeremy Gallon is.
RYPR (stands for Target Rate x Yards Per Target x Passing S&P+ x Pass Rate) is useful because it cuts through some of the usage bias. Penn State's Allen Robinson put up conference-leading numbers last year because Matt McGloin's brain was capable of processing just two commands: "run around a bunch" and "find A-Rob." Usage isn't a total red herring; a receiver earns his targets, and the more the offense focuses on him the more defenses do as well. However the thing to do in late June isn't so much awarding production in 2012 as trying to spot guys who are going to be a handful in 2013.
The last couple of weeks I've been referencing it while adding flourishes to the pages of Hail to the Victors 2013. I thought I'd spill some of those results onto the interwebs.
Here's the top 25 guys Michigan will probably face this season:
|2||Allen Robinson||6'3||201||JR||Penn State||61.1%||8.1||133.3||4-B1G||36|
|3||Corey Brown||6'1||197||SR||Ohio State||70.6%||7.9||118.2||6-B1G||52|
|4||TJ Jones||5'11||190||SR||Notre Dame||61.0%||7.9||109.5||n/a||70|
|5||Devin Smith||6'1||200||JR||Ohio State||51.7%||10.7||109.2||7-B1G||73|
|10||DaVaris Daniels||6'2||190||JR||Notre Dame||67.4%||10.7||82.7||n/a||137|
|15||Kyle Carter||6'3||247||SO||Penn State||69.2%||8.7||59.3||20-B1G||240|
|19||Brandon Moseby-Felder||6'2||195||SR||Penn State||49.2%||6.9||57.2||24-B1G||252|
CR is catch rate, i.e. the % of balls thrown at him that he caught. YPT is yards per target.
One of Michigan's smaller concerns going into this season is coverage. We'll be starting a new safety, almost assuredly Jarrod Wilson. Blake Countess comes back and J.T. Floyd graduated but it's not a one-for-one trade: Raymon Taylor is expected to shift to boundary while Countess resumes the field duties. Those familiar with Floyd's career here know his specialty was blanketing big receivers who didn't have enough speed to simply leave J.T. in the dust. Taylor is smaller, and not that guy. Depth there is still quite young and/or tiny. It's possible one of the tall freshman corners or nickel-safety Dymonte Thomas ends up spelling Taylor if Michigan comes up against a particularly large human.
Well look at the table above and find the deep threats. There really aren't that many. Kenny Bell and Allen Robinson are the guys to watch out for. Neither is paired with a secondary threat—Nebraska's next best receiver is Jamal Turner, and Penn State's Moseby-Felder is just a guy (their tight ends, e.g. Carter, are a bigger concern). Ohio State's Corey "Philly" Brown was their slot guy much of the year—the offense creates those yards for him—but Devin Smith is a go-long threat. Indiana's three guys look less scary when you consider they'd be ranked as highly in the MAC as the Big Ten.
Notably missing from that list is State's Aaron Burbridge. We saw the recruiting profile and that he was obviously better than Mumphery or Fowler, but his stats are really unimpressive: 62 targets, 364 yards for a 46.8% catch rate, 5.9 yards per target, and 40.6 RYPR. Like the other two Spartan receivers, he did seem to fall victim to Michigan State's tendency to do a lot of their passing only when they had to. One of the stats Connelly tracked was how often the guy was being targeted on a passing down (2nd and 10+, or 3rd and 6+), when presumably the level of difficulty rises. Of the guys on this list, four of the top six are Spartans, all of whom had about half of their targets come on passing downs.
Some of these guys appeared to be the focal point of their offenses:
|1||Corey "Philly" Brown||Ohio State||85||60||669||70.6%||7.9||32.0%||54.1%|
|2||Allen Robinson||Penn State||126||77||1018||61.1%||8.1||28.7%||64.3%|
|3||TJ Jones||Notre Dame||82||50||649||61.0%||7.9||22.5%||69.5%|
|4||Devin Smith||Ohio State||58||30||618||51.7%||10.7||21.8%||69.0%|
A picture emerges of go-to guys who get about 20% of balls. The exceptions were Allen Robinson and whoever's playing the Percy Harvin position for Urban Meyer.
By "%SD" that means the percent of balls thrown his way that were on standard downs, as opposed to passing downs—the reverse of what I was talking about above. It helps to pick out different types of receivers: Notre Dame and Ohio State will chuck their long balls to TJ Jones and Devin Smith, respectively, but look elsewhere when trying to reach the yard marker. Conversely Connecticut seems to save Shakim Phillips (40.4% standard downs) for when it needs a conversion.
|3||Jesse James||Penn State||276||60.0%||11.0||5.7%||11.0|
|4||Devin Smith||Ohio State||618||51.7%||10.7||21.8%||10.7|
|5||DaVaris Daniels||Notre Dame||490||67.4%||10.7||12.6%||10.6|
|6||Titus Davis||Central Michigan||850||54.4%||10.8||20.7%||10.5|
|8||Kyle Carter||Penn State||453||69.2%||8.7||11.8%||8.7|
|12||Matt Lehman||Penn State||296||66.7%||8.2||8.2%||8.2|
|13||TJ Jones||Notre Dame||649||61.0%||7.9||22.5%||8.1|
|14||Allen Robinson||Penn State||1018||61.1%||8.1||28.7%||8.1|
These are sorted by "real yards per target", which is yards per target adjusted to what it would have been if your %SD correlated to the national average.
The point of this was to spot anyone who might be particularly dangerous given Michigan's defensive backfield. Your answers in order: Kenny Bell in single coverage, Kenny Bell's hair, Allen Robinson, Indiana, and Penn State's tight ends.
The great coach smackdown of 2013. Sound Mind, Sound Body—an offseason camp that is set up such that college coaches can go—is too good to be true and will flame out in the near future when sixty other camps imitate it and the NCAA closes the loophole. But for now, we get things like Michigan coaches doing drills right next to Ohio State coaches that can be bothered to show up.
This is the setup for an uncomfortably hilarious moment. Mike Vrabel gets done with his drill segment early, badgers Mattison about finishing his bit when there's still time on the clock before the next rotation, and Mattison Is Not Having That. Via Sam Webb($):
“How about you coach them as hard as you can for as long as you have them?” Mattison yelled back tersely. “YOU GIVE THEM EVERYTHING YOU’VE GOT!!”
Mattison then donned his swag glasses and told Lawrence Marshall "that's why you don't go to Ohio State, Lawrence."
There's a great Greg Robinson story behind that paywall still.
Run, don't walk. Outside of paywall is a terrific article by Mike Rothstein on the basketball program's unique approach to recruiting, in which Michigan offers only after June 15th of a prospect's junior year and maintains a sedulous respect for the process of getting to know kids.
“I’ll throw this at people,” Jordan said. “‘What’s your mom’s name?’ Because there’s a curiosity of why haven’t you offered. ‘How many brothers? How many sisters? What’s your family like? Have you considered the fact that we don’t really know each other, but there is a desire for a scholarship offer?’
“So now it’s like, ‘OK.’ It’s the education.”
It does seem like the Michigan offer is now something that means something, unlike a number of other schools.
There’s another, almost unintentional, byproduct. By having prospects wait for an offer and go through myriad steps, Michigan has created more perceived value around an offer from the school. Instead of just another scholarship offer on a list, it is one the player had to work for.
“To see that they still wanted to offer me, it meant a lot after recruiting me for a year and seeing how well I developed and saw how much potential I had,” Irvin said. “That was really special to me.”
Rothstein noticed that Beilein often goes after kids who are young for their grade—Caris LeVert is a recent prominent example—and got shot down when he asked the coaches about it. So he's on to something there.
Brady Hoke problems. ESPN gives Maurice Ways a fourth star, which means the list of current commits eligible for this site's Sleeper of the Year designation reads:
- Michigan State commits
If I have to I'll open it up to kids who got just one four-star ranking, which opens the door to a whopping three guys at the moment: Ways, Chase Winovich, and Wilton Speight.
ESPN also moved Drake Harris up 25 spots to 71st; the rest of Michigan's commits had insignificant drops of a spot or two.
Sense. And sensibility. And zombies. This bowl news is trickling out so gradually it begins to remind me of the Big Ten's realignment, which was announced weekly for two months. But I think one of the priorities fans had was being able to you know, watch the Big Ten's bowl lineup and Delany has confirmed that is something on the docket:
"I think what you'll see is a truly national slate of bowls," Delany said. "I think you'll see us probably stronger on the West Coast than we've been. You'll see us as strong in Florida as we've been, but probably not as much on New Year's [Day]. I think you'll see us in Texas, and you'll see us with some games in our region, some games on the East Coast. I think it's going to be a great slate. We've made a lot of progress."
Also, the league is about to force bowls to take at least five different teams over the next six years, so no Yet Another Orlando Trip. I'm a little leery of that. The impulse behind the idea is a good one but that threatens to screw with bowl matchups.
Finally, a chorus of angels sounds from above!
"We've been trying to create a model that's more realistic," Delany said. "We'll take fewer, better tickets. If that means the payouts have to come down some, that's OK. Because it makes no sense to overpay on tickets, over-commit and find out you're really subsidizing the bowls, financing your own game."
I'm going on six years of bitching about this. No more. Freedom! (Have I told you how terrible the scholarship model is?).
Could make the West more… nahhh. Tim Beckman picks up Oklahoma State transfer Wes Lunt, who started six games as a true freshman for the Cowboys. Michigan won't see him unless Illinois rotates onto the schedule in 2016, but the addition of a quality quarterback could make the Illini the scariest 4-8 team in college football.
The one time when a coach really could claim to block a player's transfer for their own good, and Gundy doesn't. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ –edsbs
Just once, Illinois, you could try looking at a photograph of the guy you're hiring before doing so. Then you would not hire the people you hire. I challenge anyone to find a picture of Tim Beckmann that does not beg to be captioned "derp" or "hurrrr durrrr" or "is what how can do?"
NOPE NOPE NOPE
Okay guy. It must be brutal to write something for a newspaper in June, but uh.
Freep Guest Column: Alternate jerseys and helmets continue to impress recruits
I don't think it's working. Next time put actual fireworks in the helmets?
Gant move confirmed. Brady Hoke confirmed that Allen Gant was now at SAM, stating thusly:
"He's a rangy guy and he's got length to him," Hoke said last week. "His body has the opportunity to put weight on, the structure and the genetics of the body.
"I think that's the biggest part of it."
If he tops out at 230, think Stevie Brown rather than Jake Ryan.
We missed this, but it's a little explosion-y so let's just do it now. Sam Webb puts out a Da'Shawn Hand article about two seconds after I do a final scan through my RSS feed for the recruiting roundup. Well played.
Most of it is stuff you've heard before about Professor Needs A Raise and how the Michigan staff is his favorite staff. But while I think a version of this quote was in a video somewhere this is the first time it's in text:
"My goal is try to make a decision before December,” Hand reported. “At first I was going to stretch it out, but then after talking with my pop -- we kind of had a heart to heart -- I kind of have to make up my mind. It’s a big decision, but at the same time I kind of have a gist of knowing where I’m going, but I ain’t gonna say that.”
GO LITTLE GUY GO. RUN IN CIRCLES. YES. GO.
EA Sports has seen this picture.
It's that time of year when football-starved gaming aficionados devour each morsel of information that EA Sports deigns to leak. With NCAA Football 14—totally not featuring real people, we swear!—set to release next month, that process has begun in earnest. Last week, Operation Sports unleashed a video of some guy scrolling through the top ten players on each team, which if nothing else gives a bored college football blogger something to write about. Since the ratings in NCAA often make little sense, I decided to take a stab at guessing Michigan's ten highest-rated players before hitting play (the game tends to reward seniority, which may explain some of my picks):
- Taylor Lewan
- Jake Ryan
- Devin Gardner
- Jeremy Gallon
- Michael Schofield
- Thomas Gordon
- Quinton Washington
- Brendan Gibbons
- Desmond Morgan
- Blake Countess
I also asked Brian to give his list:
- Dennis Norfleet
- Dennis Norfleet
- Dennis Norfleet
- Dennis Norfleet
- Dennis Norfleet
- Dennis Norfleet
- Dennis Norfleet
- Dennis Norfleet
- Dennis Norfleet
- Dr. Hamlet III
You're a great help, Brian.
Anyway, here's the great unveiling:
If you don't want to find the right time to pause the video (2:02 mark) and peruse the ratings yourself, here's what EA Sports came up with for Michigan:
LT #77Taylor Lewan (96 overall)
- Jeremy Gallon (90)
- Devin Gardner (89)
- Jake Ryan (89)
- Matt Wile (88)
- Frank Clark (88)
- Brendan Gibbons (88)
- Thomas Gordon (88)
- Raymon Taylor (87)
- Desmond Morgan (87)
I have no problem with the top four, especially with Lewan earning such a lofty rating (only two Alabama players are rated higher than 93, though both come in at 97 and their entire top ten is at least a 91). Punter Matt Wile—notable for being Not Will Hagerup, since the game includes just one of each specialist—lands at fifth, which is... strange, even though Wile has plenty of talent.
Then comes the big leap. Junior DE Frank Clark, with all of two career sacks, is clearly EA's choice for breakout player, granted a loftier ranking than several proven commodities. The Frank Clark Offseason Hype Machine has gone national, and frankly that makes me nervous. This is the same video game that rated redshirt sophomore safety Brandon Smith, who had mostly played on special teams, at 88 overall before the 2010 edition, only to see him transfer before the season started. Beware the Offseason Hype Machine.*
[EDIT: So... the video lists DE #97 as the team's sixth-best player, not DE #57. In my haste to say that EA took up the driver's seat on a player's offseason bandwagon, I named the wrong bandwagon: they're apparently quite enthused about Brennen Beyer, who... moved from WDE to SAM this offseason after Jake Ryan's injury and is projected to back up Cam Gordon. Okay, then.]
The rest of the list is justifiable, though I'd wager that Michigan's top cornerback and linebacker in the 2015 edition won't be Raymon Taylor and Desmond Morgan, respectively; Blake Countess gets dinged for coming off an ACL tear, while presumably EA used up their breakout spot on Clark instead of James Ross, who would've been my choice there.
A QUICK SCAN FOR RIDICULOUS RATINGS ON OTHER BIG TEN TEAMS REVEALS...
- Nathan Scheelhaase is 89 overall, two better than Butkus Award semifinalist and potential first-round NFL draft pick Jonathan Brown. Yes, the same Nathan Scheelhaase who split snaps with Reilly O'Toole as a junior returning starter.
- Indiana's best player is a white strong safety. Viva Hoosier Kovacs.
- Iowa's third-best player is this guy, which... sounds about right, actually.
- Denicos Allen is a very good player, don't get me wrong, but having him as a 95(!)—Michigan State's top player—over 91-overall Max Bullough, the unquestioned heart of that defense, is surprising.
- Ra'Shede Hageman is Minnesota's highest-rated player at 88 overall and surely Brian's choice for most underrated player. The next-best Gophers come in at 83 overall, and players in the 70s crack the top ten. Woof.
- Ameer Abdullah is not among Nebraska's top ten players, which makes me question if EA Sports bothered to watch so much as a second of the Huskers last season.
- Unstoppable Throw-God Trevor Siemian is 85 overall, so clearly EA didn't catch last year's Michigan/Northwestern tilt.
- Braxton Miller is a terrifying 96 overall and is better than many running backs at breaking tackles (81 rating). I hate that this is in no way ridiculous.
- Penn State's Allen Robinson, the best receiver in the conference last year, merits just an 87 rating, which seems especially low given that unspectacular PSU running back Zach Zwinak is just behind him at 86.
- Purdue right tackle Trevor Foy, who wasn't even All-B1G honorable mention last season, ranks at 92 overall, putting him at least five points higher than Michael Schofield. While I can't say I've watched Foy all that much, either EA knows something we don't or this is pretty bizarre.
- None of Wisconsin's top ten players are offensive lineman, which does not pass my sanity check.
- Not Big Ten, but it's worth noting that academically-ineligible Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson is in the game and, at 89 overall, is just as good as Devin Gardner.
Yeah, it's probably best not to take these things too seriously. The bigger issue here is finally ridding the game of post-route-intercepting middle linebackers, anyway; while I haven't seen that addressed specifically, EA does appear to be doing some cool stuff with Dynasty Mode, which is where I spend most of my time in the game.
*I'm not saying Clark won't be quite good, only that this level of hype, when contrasted with on-field production, involves a great deal of projection. Frank Clark could be a terrifying quarterback-killing machine or a backup before the season ends or anything in between, and we have no earthly clue where he'll land on that spectrum.