BIG TEN SCHOOLS TO PLAY NINE CONFERENCE GAMES BEGINNING WITH 2017 SEASON
Teams to feature four or five Big Ten home games on rotating basis
Park Ridge, Ill. – The Big Ten announced today that conference football programs will move to a nine-game Big Ten schedule beginning with the 2017 season.
Three teams each from the Legends Division and Leaders Division will feature five conference home games during odd-numbered years, while the other three schools from each division will host five conference contests during even-numbered years. The 2017 schedule will include five conference home outings for Iowa, Michigan State and Nebraska from the Legends Division and Illinois, Indiana and Ohio State from the Leaders Division. The 2018 schedule will feature five Big Ten home games for Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern of the Legends Division and Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin of the Leaders Division.
The Big Ten will return to a full nine-game conference schedule for the first time since the 1983 and 1984 seasons. Eight of 10 conference schools played nine-game schedules during the 1981 and 1982 seasons, while two of 10 teams featured nine-game schedules from 1971-72 and 1977-80.
Michigan gets the slightly shorter end of the stick but that's probably the way they wanted it since they get ND at home in odd-numbered years. An extra Big Ten home game in years when ND is away should help even out the home schedules.
Insert bitch here about how no amount of insane BTN/ESPN loot will ever allow Michigan to play a real opponent in a home and home.
|Columbus, OH - 6'5" 250|
|Scout||3*, #70 DE|
|Rivals||3*, #50 SDE, #38 OH|
|ESPN||3*, 78, #34 DE|
|Other Suitors||Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Nebraska, MSU, Illinois, Pitt, Cincinnati|
|YMRMFSPA||A poor man's Ryan Van Bergen|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post from Tim. He caught Rock's game against OLSM.|
|Notes||Columbus DeSales (Patrick Omameh).|
When Chris Rock's parents named their baby boy they could not anticipate the electric success of another guy named Chris Rock or the tortured googling that bloggers would be forced into as a result. Blogs didn't exist and the other Chris Rock was probably ten. But here we are.
The other Chris Rock, the one who committed to Michigan last May, is a DE/DT whose impressive size and strength saw him named the #4 player in Ohio in January of 2010 by Bucknuts, likely off a huge game in the state semi where he had three sacks. Before that Duane Long ranked him #4 as well, in front of uber-LB Trey DePriest. One of the "most heavily recruited players in the state," he picked up a Notre Dame offer and ended up on ESPN's top 150 watchlist; when he committed to Michigan he was consensus four-star.
Unfortunately, since then his star has been on the wane. Notre Dame's offer went yoink after they pulled in their epic DE class and each rankings revision seemed to knock Rock down a few more pegs until he ended up the consensus meh three star you see above. People started knocking the strength that was an early asset. In his senior year he "struggled to make an impact" as teams went away from him. While that's understandable, a high level D-I prospect should be a terror against D-III high school kids.
The drop came because he just didn't play very well. When Tim caught a DeSales game he came back with a blunt assessment:
I was not impressed with Rock's play. It's possible he was just having a bad night, but there have been reports from this entire season that suggest Rock is "just a guy" out there. Though St. Mary's gameplanned a bit to keep him out of the game (running away from him, double-teaming him, etc.), that's not the only reason he wasn't a factor.
He was routinely stoned by St. Mary's tackle #72, and it's not like that guy's going to go on to play Division-1 football. For being the biggest (not fattest) guy out there, Rock's strength seemed to be seriously lacking, and his movement skills left something to be desired.
Touch The Banner was similarly unenthused:
To be honest, I'm not enamored with Rock. A large part of that is due to the fact that his highlight film is full of offensive linemen completely forgetting to block him. I find it difficult to get excited about a player who accrues a bunch of sacks while barreling unimpeded into the offensive backfield.
… My biggest issue with Rock is that he stands straight up on the snap. He's able to push around weaker players when playing so high, but if he tried to push around a 310 lb. Big Ten tackle like that, Rock would get tossed around like a rag doll. He doesn't use his hands well to shed blocks, and he also finds himself losing contain a little too frequently. He has decent speed for a 250-pounder, so he can make up for his poor fundamentals at times. But some of his habits are less than ideal.
… He could be a decent college starter, but he doesn't have the instincts or athleticism to be an elite player for Michigan.
TTB suggests a move to three-tech is in the offing, something that's echoed by Scout's strengths and weaknesses:
Body Control and Balance
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Rock had another fine season at DeSales. He plays defensive end and tight end currently, but could possibly be a defensive tackle at the next level. Needs to continue to add strength, but has good size and plays with intensity.
While ESPN is a little more enthusiastic than the other two scouting services, they echo many of TTB's criticisms($). They're a bit less straightforward about it: Rock "can be active with his hands," "needs to watch his pad level," "needs to develop his pass rush arsenal," and "can seem a little rigid in his overall movement." His main asset is "very good" size and a frame that will allow him to pack on the pounds; they also mention the possibility he will end up at defensive tackle.
So there's that. On the good side of the ledger we have frame and size and size and frame, plus intelligence—he might actually execute his plan to major in business and Northwestern and Stanford were also after him—and coachability. One of the guys who worked the OSU Nike camp last year interacted with him and posted about it on Buckeye Planet:
Just worked with the kid this weekend at the Nike Camp, wonderful kid, very coachable, had good dialect with him, had a good concept of how to set up the offensive linemen, and had good hands.
And when Rivals talked to his coach they got a lot of frame stuff($):
"First of all, he's big - he's got a big frame and a long body … He's very athletic for his size. He's a tough kid. He's made a lot of plays. He's led our team in sacks for two years, so he does a nice job of rushing the passer. I think when you get a kid with that size that has that kind of athletic ability and quickness, with even more potential to grow, they become pretty attractive."
"He's pretty athletic, and you're talking about a kid that wears a size 17 shoe, so there's a lot of potential for even more growth," said the DeSales head coach. "I've only seen him at D-end, but I've heard others speculate he could play elsewhere. Depending on how much weight they can put on him, I think he could play on the interior as well."
The consensus: Rock is a smart but weak guy who's an iffy athlete… with giant meaty bones you can hang a lot of muscle on. Sometimes these things work out:
left: high school Will Johnson.
right: terrifying bald fifth-year-senior and good starter Will Johnson
That frame and his early potential netted him a total of 25 BCS offers, including Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. His senior year was a step back but the frame had lots of people thinking they could build Rock into something. Michigan's got three DL coaches, by the way.
If they can slap a redshirt on Rock that would be great, and if they've really moved Kenny Wilkins inside he'll probably be better than Rock as a freshman—he's a guy you'd like to see take a fifth year.
Etc.: 15 sacks and 10 PBUs as a sophomore. First job was at Abercrombie & Fitch. Also he bites his nails. This week in groan-worthy recruiting site headlines($): "Bearcats hope to roll with Chris Rock." Shot of him getting told to get that weak stuff out of here. If you can get this to work, here's a video of Rock tipping and intercepting a pass to clinch a tight game.
Rock on the other Rock:
"Ever since I was little kid, ever since Chris Rock became famous as a comedian," Rock said. "My mom always says I was named before he was famous."
But the question remains: Is Rock humorous?
"Sometimes I can be," he said. "I like to lighten the mood."
Rock on his decision:
“When I think about it and just think about what Michigan has to offer, really they were the only school that offered me that had the total package,” Rock explained. “It has the academic side, the athletic side, and the biggest stadium in the country. I liked the campus a lot when I visited there. I liked the teammates. I know Patrick Omameh. He went to my high school and he is a good kid. If he likes it there I knew I would like it there too. It was really everything.”
Why a poor man's Ryan Van Bergen? For one, that's what the coaching staff told him:
U-M is expected to use Rock in much the same way they use defensive end Ryan VanBergen. During his visit to U-M in March, the coaching staff told Rock they felt he brought similar strengths to the defense as VanBergen.
Van Bergen, like Rock, is a 6'5" SDE/three-tech tweener with decent pass rush skills who doesn't appear to excel at any one thing. Van Bergen was a consensus four star a lot closer to his ceiling upon entering college, though. Rock's contributions seem considerably farther off—or at least they would if Michigan had anything other than panic behind the starters at DT.
Guru Reliability: High. DeSales pumps out D-I players every year and Rock played every game of his career. If the flu excuse is legit he could be more like the player he was hyped up to be in the immediate aftermath of his junior season, but he's probably well pegged.
General Excitement Level: Okay. Seems like a good program kid who will scrape the ceiling of his potential in three or even four years. His potential isn't off the charts, but if Wisconsin and Nebraska were interested I'll take my chances.
Projection: The apparent lack of explosion probably takes DE off the table, so expect Rock to start off at three-tech DT. Without Terry Talbott he may be forced into action early, which he probably won't do well with. He could develop into one of those slightly-above-average pluggers that littered Michigan lines in the mid-aughts; there is a possibility his giant meaty bones eventually allow him to be a bit more.
Hatch. A very long ESPN article details Austin Hatch's situation, family, and dual plane crashes. Not blockquotable but recommended.
New tunnel. Via Maize on the MB, this is the new tunnel:
No longer will there be a hard edge, but the replacement is AOK.
Prepping for Mustaches for Michigan? Thought process: "I'm old. I'm old and bumpy and retired and don't have to impress anyone anymore… anyone except the bears I wrestle in the woods of the UP."
If a wizened old dude is punting for Troy this fall you know what went down.
I see you over there not caring. Discussion of the infamous, perpetually-closing "gap" between the basketball programs of Michigan and Michigan State descended into pure mockery of the Wolverines at some point during the Amaker era. Now it's popping up again what with the season sweep and Beilein snatching Derrick Walton before Izzo could even make a pitch, and this time it might actually have some merit.
The best way to check is through the actions of the rival. We've seen plenty of sarcastic congratulations for beating Michigan State's "worst team in a decade" (sounds familiar, that) and even more predictions of doom without Darius Morris, but have we reached the point where Michigan State fans might be protesting a bit too much about a lack of concern? Yes:
The upshot for Michigan State is that when you can hold off on offering a player like Derrick Walton only to lose him to a rival and still not have a major cause for concern, it's a testament to where your program and its recruiting have risen. So, again, great recruiting week for UM. "Boo-yah" to them, but, as Pete and others have suggested, there's more prospects like Jabari Parker, Drake Harris, Tyus Jones, Gary Harris, and James Young who should help to keep Michigan State's future recruiting success a likely proposition.
The upshot for Michigan is when you're causing the instate rival to reassure itself that everything is JUST FINE, THANK YOU, you are on the verge of having one of those… what do you call them… programs.
This hasn't actually impacted State much. Michigan's recent recruiting success has had little to do with MSU. Until Walton, no one in Michigan's 2011-2013 classes is a guy Michigan State had pursued. This was largely because it was MSU storming through the Midwest to pick up early commits from Costello/Kaminski/Valentine before Michigan could get a word in edgewise.
Now the pattern is reversed, but more importantly Michigan has put together a hell of a lot of talent over the next three years without having to overcome the Spartans. Both Michigan and Michigan State can be confident in their plan A recruiting by an established coach. Michigan is no longer under anyone's thumb.
Well, maybe. Early skepticism about Marell Evans's ability to contribute after not playing much at I-AA Hampton was muted by rumors he was injured, and via TTB Evans's coach confirms:
"That [lack of playing time] was definitely due to injury...he ended up re-injuring his foot. I think he actually first got injured up there [at Michigan] before he even came down [to Hampton], so he re-aggravated the injury...it was tough on him, as it would be for any young man."
Evans is even more important now without Kellen Jones. If he can be a capable backup for Demens that might give Desmond Morgan the luxury of a redshirt.
In case there was any question. Matt Godin is a defensive tackle, not a strongside DE:
Godin is listed at 6'6" and 270 lbs, but he said he would like to get up to 290 pounds by the time he gets to Michigan.
Pencil him in at three-tech. Also, Godin is looking to double his 28 TFLs from a year ago.
It could have been marginally worse. From Scott Dochterman's epic ten-part series on the Big Ten's divisional breakdown, there were actually worse options than "Legends" and "Leaders" on the table for the Big Ten division names:
“By the time we were done, we were really down to two categories: one that sort of described our geography, Midwestern roots and one that described our characteristics and mission.”
The divisional names that centered on the Big Ten’s mission included Scholar/Athlete, Academics/Athletics and Legends/Leaders. The 115-year-old conference has a storied history of on-field success with 18 Heisman Trophy winners and more than 50 College Hall of Fame players. It also boasts former President Gerald Ford as an alum as well as thousands of political, business and civic leaders.
We should just skip the preliminaries and rename the divisions "Dungeons" and "Dragons." We are the nerds of college football.
Even if the division names weren't going to be Bo or Woody as they obviously should have been I would have preferred Kinnick/Paterno or Stagg/Grange even if Michigan didn't feature because we would at least seem less likely to get our lunch money stolen.
(Dochterman HT: BHGP.)
All this and NBA bloodlines. Glenn Robinson III displays a variety of dunks:
BONUS THING I NEVER POSTED FROM FOREVER AGO:
Maybe he's Tim Hardaway's son, too. For a guy mostly known as a shooter Nick Stauskas can break an ankle or two:
Highlight video disclaimers apply but the sheer variety of drives there is encouraging. Stauskas can go left or right, deploys a crossover somewhere between effective and sick depending on its success rate outside highlights, and can spin his way to the bucket. He appears to favor his right hand to finish but there are a couple of nice baskets with his left in there, too. I even like the music.
Add 6'6" and three-point shooting and that's a nice pickup to go with Glenn Robinson III, who's been garnering steady praise of his own this AAU season. If Beilein can weather Darius Morris's exit the talent pipeline is in place to rip off a run of NCAA appearances… and maybe more. [ed: and then Beilein put together his 2013 class in about a month.]
BONUS FROM FOREVER AGO II:
King Eckstein. I made a joke about this Zack Novak article in the sidebar yesterday but managed to miss this spectacularly clichéd description of Chesterton's favorite son:
Novak, who helped establish a hustling, scrappy work ethic on a team that lacked grit and toughness, has played in 100 games, averaging 7.7 points and 4.5 rebounds.
That checks all the boxes, doesn't it? I guess he could have been described as "heady."
EVEN MORE NEWS FROM FOREVER AGO. If you missed it the first time around, a member of the Event Staff posted highlights from their annual meeting on the board about two seconds before I left for France. Items of interest to me:
The Stadium is no longer open to the public on non game days. This has been the during renovations but is now permanent policy. Tours can be arranged through the Athletic Dept.
Boo. I've been to the Stadium on non-gamedays a few times and it's always been fun, with kids and parents running around, trying to kick field goals, etc.
DB says night game is a test and it's for the fans and players. A bad experience would make this the only night game. Good experience = a night game per year.
If you hate night games you can do your part to never have them again by getting arrested.
DB confirms: design completed for filling out bleachers to top of scoreboard in south end. Capacity will raise to 120,000. Opponent tickets will be up at top next to scoreboard.
That latter bit is pure evil, or at least would be if the video board opposite you wasn't big enough to see. I'm a little skeptical they can sell 120k tickets consistently as long as the OSU/ND/Nebraska games are all home or away in the same season (and they refuse to schedule anyone interesting other than ND).
No number retirement due to large squads and number sharing issues.
Straws and lids are back
Sione Houma and Chris Wormley Go Blue
Local commitment article as UT FB Sione Houma kicked off the commitment pair on Monday, picking Michigan over offers from Utah, Washington, and Utah State. Another local article is a bit more fleshed-out. His high school coach insists he has the skills to play FB or RB. (HT: UMGoBlog). The Wolverine Blog talks about his development down the road:
Houma could be able to get up to 240 without losing anything…or maybe he won’t be able to surpass 225. It’s hard to tell at this point. If he can gain a solid 20 or so pounds, I’d be much more enthusiastic about this commitment.
Touch the Banner on his game:
he probably doesn't have the speed to break 50-yard runs or receptions, but he does have the ability to outrun linebackers and turn a 4-yard swing pass into a 10- or 15-yard swing passes. That skill won't turn him into a superstar, but having a fullback who can gain some yards after the catch will be a valuable commodity when Michigan runs split backs
For more on Houma check out Hello: Sione Houma.
OH DE Chris Wormley ended his actually-not-that-long recruitment (it felt much longer thanks to holding Michigan as a favorite for so much of it) at the BBQ at the Big House on Saturday - local article from The Blade. Go Blue Michigan Wolverine tackles "the motor issue" with Chris:
Although it may be a bum rap, Chris has been the subject of many sites discussing a low motor. Many very talented athletes gain this perception because the observer expects super performance from a super athlete.
The Wolverine Blog is withholding judgment until after this season:
All in all, it seems like his attitude changed. Obviously, the physical potential is there. But is he still the thrashing, crashing, mauling pass rusher we saw two years ago? He wasn’t last year, but things change. That’s why I’ll be watching his senior film more intently than any other recruits.
For more on Chris, check out Hello: Chris Wormley.
Cookout Quick Hits
MO WR Jehu Chesson talked to Tom about the experience:
We mostly talked about that and he was straight up with me and said that if two wide receivers commit then the receiver position is done. I feel like they're letting me know in advance what's going on with recruiting, which I like. I'm going to stay on my own track because I want to make sure I see all the schools I'm interested in.
Ha also said he'd have a narrowed list by the time school rolls around.
Quality fluff on preferred walk-on IL WR Bo Dever (far left in the photo above). His sister Morgan, a rising junior field hockey player, has also committed to Michigan.
MO DT Ondre Pipkins was making noise about nearing a decision ($, info in header) coming into the BBQ, but obviously his visit came and went with no commitment. Making that particularly odd is that it was better than he'd been expecting ($, info in header).
MI DT Danny O'Brien narrowed his focus to a top 6 coming into the weekend:
TrieuA Flint Powers (MI) DT Dan O'Brien's top 6: Michigan, Iowa, Alabama, Florida, Michigan State & Tennessee. In no order. More later.
He talked shop with Rivals readers Thursday night.
2013 QB Commit Shane Morris (center, in brown) gets some love at the Gridiron Kings 7-on-7 tournament. Ron Thompson and Dwayne Stanford (who was only available for some games due to AAU basketball) were among the top targets on his team. More on Morris.
2013 IL RB Ty Isaac was there ($, info in header).
2013 RB/DE Ath Wyatt Shallman was there, and told Tom what he thought:
This visit was pretty sweet, I liked it a lot. Anytime you go on a visit and get good food and get to go on the field it's going to help. Plus the coaching staff is awesome, they're all really funny guys.
Michigan fans were cautiously hopeful for a Shallman commitment, but he'll remain true to his timetable for now.
“He’s a guy who’s been kind of earmarked (by colleges) since his freshman year,” said Wright, who believes college programs view Gedeon as a linebacker prospect more than an offensive player at the next level.
Ben’s older brother, Alex, who also starred at Hudson, is captain of the football team at Harvard University. Wright said that could help the younger Gedeon navigate the recruiting process. as “his parents aren’t rookies to this situation. They know what they’re doing.”
Looks like good bloodlines from both a football and an academic perspective.
Since we've been focusing on the BBQ lately, some of this stuff may be just a little old. Phil Steele's top 200 prospects list is out, including a few Michigan commits:
- #33 Kyle Kalis
- #73 Royce Jenkins-Stone
- #74 Terry Richardson
- #91 Erik Magnuson
- #97 James Ross
- #161 Tom Strobel
- #163 Chris Wormley
- #197 Joe Bolden
A solid group of top-200 talent, though I'm surprised to see Magnuson that low.
Local fluff on MI DE/DT Commit Matt Godin. Relevant snippet:
While Godin said individual glory is not as important to him as team success, he also hopes to improve his statistical totals from last season. In 2010, Godin registered 66 tackles, 28 tackles-for-loss and two sacks. “I’m looking to double my tackles-for-loss, just get a ridiculous amount,” Godin said. “I’d also like to up my sacks to around eight.”
Godin plays defensive tackle for Detroit Catholic Central because he is the biggest defensive lineman on his team, but will likely play defensive end with the Wolverines.
Mixture of FNL-y stuff and future position news-type-substance.
Rivals fluff ($) on where OH DE Commit Pharaoh Brown will play in college.
Fluff on MI DE/LB Commit Mario Ojemudia.
PA RB Greg Garmon has Michigan in his final five, but not in the top three within that group. HOWEVA, that group may be shaken up by the axing of North Carolina coach Butch Davis. The Wolverines may have a chance to join Illinois and Iowa now. It does sound like he's been put on the backburner by Michigan's staff.
I feel a lot better with [the coaches]. They all seem like really nice guys and they have a great staff there. This visit helped Michigan a lot, and it also helped with my comfort level, so yeah... I think this is going to help speed up the process a little. I still want to take official visits, but there's certain schools now that I know that I fit in with, so it helped that part.
He's taking his time, but Michigan seems to be in good position.
Cal and Michigan seem to lead for CA WR Jordan Payton - and he may be nearing a commitment.
Michigan may be back in the mix for MD WR Stefon Diggs, as they were named to his top 15.
MI TE Ron Thompson plans to announce a decision on Friday at Lifting as We Climb Fundation's High School Media Day in Southfield. He seems solidly in "Sad Josh" territory at this point, so don't expect him to pick the Wolverines - although Shane Morris has been in his ear.
IL DT Tommy Schutt does not mention Michigan in a video interview with Tom Lemming. With Ondre Pipkins and Dany O'Brien both high on Michigan, it seems unlikely that he's an option for the Wolverines.
PA DE Noah Spence will cut his list to 7 soon (then to 5 within a month). Michigan's needs on defensive line are minimal at this point (aside from a true tackle or two), so Spence probably isn't a realistic option for the Wolverines.
Steve Wiltfong says Michigan is giving attention to MA CB Armani Reeves. As you may recall, Michigan and Reeves originally parted ways when the Wolverines landed other DB commits. Tom talked to Reeves, who sounds torn, because he likes Michigan but wishes they hadn't parted ways with him in the first place.
Onetime silent commit NY CB Wayne Morgan is not mentioning Michigan among his top schools. With limited spots, it's unlikely there's room for him anyway.
IN QB Gunner Kiel - notoriously quiet about his recruiting process - told ESPN that he planned to announce a decision before the start of his high school season. Shortly thereafter, he committed to Indiana. I'll fess up: I was secretly rooting for the Hoosiers (if not Michigan).
FL QB Bennie Coney committed to Cincinnati.
FL QB Tyler Cameron picked USF.
MI WR Aaron Burbridge committed to Michigan State, ending the Wolverines' hopes up pulling in the Farmington Hills Harrison triumvirate.
MN OL Jonah Pirsig picked Minnesota. With Michigan's current OL haul, I doubt he held a committable offer anymore.
OH DE LaTroy Lewis committed to Tennessee.
PA QB Damion Terry has Michigan interest.
TX WR Jake Oliver will "take his time" coming to a decision. He has Michigan interest, but with everyone in the Big 12 after him (and his dad on A&M's staff), it's tough to see him coming North.
Cass Tech CB Jourdan Lewis loves Michigan ($, info in header). That's infinity classes in a row with a D-1 corner out of Cass Tech.
This is a personnel-oriented look at the season's opponents. The game-week previews will be more matchup based. Last year's stats are presented with projected starters in bold and departed players in italics.
|Eastern Michigan Offense 2010|
|Yards Per Game||333.42||91|
|Points Per Game||19.00||108|
|Yards Per Play||5.05||89|
|Yards Per Pass||6.81||76|
|Yards Per Rush||4.07||72|
|Playcall Distribution||1.81 Rush:Pass|
Per expectations, Eastern was really bad on offense. Despite being below-average on a yards-per-rush basis, they pounded into the line almost twice as frequently as they passed (adjusted for sacks, they still ran 1.61 times for each pass attempt).
Where they were truly terrible, however, was the passing game. Their yards per pass attempt was slightly boosted by the rarity with which they actually threw it, but the efficiency number was amongst the worst in the nation.
Long story short, Eastern is bad at football (just you wait until we get to the defense).
Alex Gillett started every game for Eastern last year, but that's not to say he saw a whole lot of success: his completion percentage, yards per attempt, and interception percentage all range from mediocre to horrible. The one area that he did see success? The running game, where he led the Eagles on the ground.
Last year's backup, Devontae Payne, is no longer with the team, meaning that Gillett's backup will be a guy who has yet to play college football.
|Eastern Michigan QBs 2010|
|Eastern Michigan QBs Rushing 2010|
Grade: 2/5. Gillett was bad last year (except on the ground), and now there is nobody else on the roster who has seen any playing time in college football. Gillett's legs are actually pretty impressive - if you remove sacks, he was near 6 yards/carry - so I gave him a slight bump. Still, as a pure passer, he has a long way to go.
The primary reason Dwayne Priest didn't lead the Eagles in rushing as a senior was an injury absence of three games. That did, however, give a few returning players a chance to step up. Official White Guy Corey Welch got the most carries, but he was outshined by freshman Javonti Greene on a down-to-down basis. Expect Welch to get some carries, but Greene should be the featured back. Dominique Sherrer and Joe Fleming should also get a few carries, and Sherrer chould even see a large role if he stays healthy. Despite all that, Phil Steele projects true freshman Ryan Brumfield to start, but color me a skeptic on that take.
|Eastern Michigan RBs 2010|
|Eastern Michigan RBs Receiving 2009|
Grade: 2/5. There's a bit of potential here, with the general EMU-ness of things dragging down expectations a bit. Javonti Greene has shown that he's ready to perform if given the opportunity, and Sherrer has shown off a bit of speed on kickoff returns. Still, this is a results-based grading service, and the Eagles haven't managed to get it done on the ground yet.
Kinsman Thomas was Eastern's most-used wideout last year, but still managed to gain a very-respectable 18 yards per reception. The second-most deployed wideout, Donald Scott, wasn't far behind. Unfortunately for the Eagles, those two combined for fewer than 40 receptions on the year.
With Gillett's favorite target, tight end Ben Thayer, graduating, the wideouts should see an increase in receptions, but will probably a regress to the mean in yards per catch. Garrett Hoskins (whose also-lofty YPC average is boosted by a 73-yard trick play reception) will step into the starting lineup, but it's tough to say whether a second tight end or a new wide receiver will step up to grab the last spot. Expect either Trey Hunter or Kevin Wheeler - who took an injury redshirt last year - to get the nod.
|EMU Receivers 2010|
|Ben Thayer (TE)||30||386||12.87||3|
|Garrett Hoskins (TE)||8||217||27.125||2|
|Josh LeDuc (TE)||17||155||9.12||1|
|Kyle DeMaster (TE)||3||19||6.33||0|
|EMU WRs Rushing 2009|
|Ben Thayer (TE)||1||32||32.00||0|
Grade: 2/5. The Eastern receiving corps has actually proven to be explosive, despite (or in part due to) their lack of opportunities. With three of the top 6 gone, however, those who remain are going to have to step up and maintain their past performance while getting more attention from the defense. I'll believe that can happen when I see it.
Eastern returns three starters (at least part-time) from last year, but there will be some position shuffling going into this fall. Andrew Sorgatz, who has started at left guard for the past two years, switched to center this spring, and redshirt freshman Campbell Allison is expected to take over his old spot. Bridger Buche has started two years at tackle, and will likely reprise his role from last year. Redshirt junior Korey Neal was a part-time starter at right tackle last year, and is expected to start once more (replacing longtime starter Dan Demaster). There are a few options for right guard, with Josh Woods and Orlando McCord strong options.
Grade: 1/5. Though the Eagles didn't give up a lot of sacks last year, a big reason for that is their heavy, heavy slant toward the run over the pass. Seeing as how they were unable to move the ball on the ground despite that emphasis, I'd say this unit was very weak. Losing two starters isn't going to help much, and I think they'll have to pass more (meaning more sacks) and not see much improvement in the ground game.
|Notre Dame Defense 2009|
|Yards Per Game||454.08||113|
|Points Per Game||43.92||118|
|Yards Per Play||7.26||120|
|Pass Yards Per Game||223.50||66|
|Yards Per Pass||9.00||118|
|Sacks Per Game||0.83||118|
|Rush Yards Per Game||230.58||118|
|Yards Per Rush||6.11||120|
Ladies and gentlemen, defensive guru Ron English!
The only thing Eastern wasn't absolutely terrible at was... having other teams feel bad for them, I guess. They faced the third-fewest defensive plays in the nation (the country's best defense, TCU, saw the fewest, with Minnesota right on their heels), but each of those defensive plays was practically a guaranteed success for the opposing offense.
The pass yards per game look alright... until you realize that teams simply didn't have to pass the ball, because they could get more than six yards every time they handed it off. All told, Eastern was in the bottom three of every metric that matters.
Terrible, horrible defensive team as they have been every year under Ron English, and every year before that.
As you might expect, the defensive line didn't exactly cover themselves in glory last year. At least three starters return alongin addition to a key backup. A pair of seniors "anchor" the middle in Brandon Slater and Jabar Westerman, with their classmate Javon Reese returning on one side. Junior Andy Mulumba will like come off the edge on the other end of the line, with Devon Davis and Brad Ohrman also in the defensive end rotation.
Undersized Kalonji Kashama (whose name you may recognize - he's the younger brother of former Wolverine Alain) can play either inside or outside, but since EMU needs more help on the interior, will probably do most of his damage there. Phil Steele is also high on incoming JuCo Devin Henderson, also an inside/outside guy.
|EMU Defensive Line 2010|
Grade: 2/5. Nobody had more than 30 tackles for the Eagles last year (for comparison, Notre Dame's scheme - which only plays 3 linemen and doesn't expect them to make plays - had 4 guys over 30 tackles, and one over 60), and just about everyone struggled to get penetration. With another year of experience - and not that many key contributors from last year's roster departing - they should improve a bit, but to expect their progression to get anywhere better than "bad" is wishful thinking.
When your team was horrible at defending both the run and the pass last year and you lose your top two tacklers, both of whom were linebacker, you're in serious trouble. Marcus English, a multi-year contributor, seems like the only sure starter. So of course, Phil Steele predicts he'll be displaced by incoming JuCo Sean Kurtz. I think it's more likely that those two will combine at inside and strongside linebacker on the starting unit, leaving the weakside position to Steve Brown. Phil Steele also projects starting spots for a pair of JuCos (meaning his starting linebacker unit for Eastern is composed of 3 junior college players and no returners) Justin Cudworth and Blake Poole. If none of the JuCos can earn starting spots, it'll probably be Matt Boyd on the strongside as well.
|EMU Linebackers 2010|
Grade: 1/5. Jeeeeeeeesus this has a great chance to be a terrible defense, unless Ron English is some miracle-worker who has been sandbagging for the past two years. The returning ilnebackers bring very little to the table, as the two best players are out the door (without so much as a sniff from the NFL). Barring unprecedented individual improvement, or the junior college players stepping in as uber-sleepers, this unit should not expect much success.
Like linebacker, a bad unit lost a couple of its best players. Corner Marcell Rose and safety Martavius Cardwell both return, but the Eagles will have to replace the other two members of their secondary. Willie Williams, a strong safety/LB type, is expected to start at SS, and UCLA transfer Marlon Pollard will probably lock down the other corner spot. There's experience mixed in among the backups, much moreso than at any other position, especially since a number of JuCo players will be added to the mix.
|EMU Defensive Backs 2010|
|Marcell Rose (CB)||56||1||1|
|Martavius Cardwell (FS)||46||4||0|
|Willie Williams (SS)||35||4||0|
Grade: 1/5. Eastern Michigan's pass defense, despite losses, has to be better than last year's, if only because there's nowhere to go but up (the whole team had 2 picks last year!). Adding a player who was good enough to sign with UCLA out of high school should be a boost to a team starved for talent, but there's a long way to go to reach "bad," much less "mediocre."
Both EMU specialists from last year return. Jay Karutz will handle the punting (rugby-style, yo), and Sean Graham will reprise his role as the Eagles' field goal kicker.
|Eastern Michigan Kicking 2010|
|EMU Punting 2010|
Grade: 3/5. Neither Eastern Michigan specialist was particularly good last year, but at the same time, neither was a serious liability (and that's a big deal for a team where seemingly everyone else was a liability). With a year of game experience under each of their belts, it's reasonable to expect a bit of improvement.