Peppers at 10, which seems low.
Lewan moving. Complaints here are always less strenuous, likely because it's way easier to tell what everyone's supposed to be doing. A few commenters noted that Lewan's been moving early, Jerel Worthy-style, for chunks of the year. Kilgore Trout:
From my vantage point on the east side of the stadium, it looked like he pretty clearly moved early. I think he was doing it a lot against MSU and not getting called. Either he's got considerably faster reflexes than everyone else on UM's O-Line or MSU and Iowa's D-Lines, or he moves early a decent amount. To be honest, I think he's lucky to only have had two false starts called on him.
In retrospect I do remember Lewan getting a slight jump on the opponent; it's possible refs are now watching for this and Lewan got nailed.
Denard's accuracy. FWIW, this seemed interesting:
Looking at replays of his throws, he is not stepping into them. His front foot is stepping to the side, causing him to open up his body when he throws. This is causing him to be less accurate and also neutralizing his arm-strength.
All the passes where he throws the ball just short or one-hops the ball to the receiver is a function of not stepping into the throw.
He obviously looks great otherwise.
There was the usual war about Vincent Smith in the comments, but I've said my bit on that.
Demens defense. Most complaints center on the
enigmatic anointed Kenny Demens, his +8, and the assertion that Demens is a clear upgrade over Ezeh worthy of a "wow." The general theory from His Dudeness:
I know you watch a TON more game video than I do and that you have a TON more experience grading out players than I do, but I have to fear that sometimes you overrate guys based on a single game. I do hope Demens turns into a great MLB, but to say he is going to be a quality MLB from here on out until he graduates may be setting the bar a little high based on one game? I certainly hope you are correct in your assessment, but I will hold off on my expectations that he will be our MLB savior Christ child. I like to expect nothing and be pleasantly surprised by what I get though, so that's my thing.
That's fair; I've tried to assert that Demens's performance was not necessarily replicable against teams that have seen him play and can identify some weaknesses. But he's a clear upgrade on Ezeh. Magnus suggests that Demens pluses would be Ezeh minuses:
I remember Ezeh being dinged for taking on blocks rather than getting around them somehow to make the tackle. Now it seems that we're celebrating the fact that Demens took on a block from a lineman, even though he was pancaked after he plugged.
This is probably in reference to this play featured in part of the OMG Demens section:
As a couple responders said, the difference between Demens running up into an offensive guard here and eventually getting pancaked and Ezeh getting whacked while motionless is self evident from the result of the play. This was my thought process here:
- This is a zero yard run without an obvious Iowa error so the net should be somewhere around +2.
- There are no creases in the line. Why are there no creases? Well, the three guys on the frontside all stand up to blocks at the LOS but don't disengage so that's half-points for Kovacs, Banks, and Mouton.
- On this one Patterson is done instantly and the G has almost a free release at Demens; there should be a gap. There isn't because Demens hits the G right at the LOS. –1 Patterson, +1 Demens.
- Floyd comes up and contains unblocked. Half-point.
Net is +2. On a play where Ezeh consumes a block with gusto and the opponent gets a big gain the play is going to net out at –2 or –3 and he's going to take some of the blame. Iowa had almost no success running between the tackles, so plays on which Demens was involved in were usually + plays and usually he got a share of the +.
On the other hand, BWS took another look at the National Lampoon's Zone Vacation picture pages and suggested the blame was largely on Demens:
I disagree somewhat. Asking a middle linebacker to cover a receiver moving into the flat is either an incoherent defense that will get you killed long term or one of those pattern reading systems that require a ton of drilling. By appearances (and necessity) Michigan does not run fancy stuff; this was three-deep zone with four underneath defenders, except one of them was way, way out of his zone. One of them was somewhat out of his zone.
Avery needs to re-route the slot guy but once he does that he has to get back out into the flat, whereupon the WR gets forced back into Demens and Iowa kicks a field goal and Michigan has a chance to win the game at the end. BWS says "Avery wasn't in great position here, but he also wasn't in terrible position. If he hadn't fallen, he might've had a chance to make the play." The reason he fell is he was playing with his back to the quarterback and running at full speed inside in an attempt to cover a receiver he has no prayer of helping on. Physics is relentless.
It is likely that Demens wasn't supposed to re-route the TE because he wasn't going vertical, and he did drag out of his zone. The reason that's a fifteen-yard error instead of five isn't on him. I should have given him a –1; Avery still is the primary culprit IME.
Black to the future. An email on Black:
I was really surprised by your rating of Black's play. I've watched the every defensive snap footage a few times, and to me it looks like Black is out there on about half the snaps, not barely playing as you indicated in the UFR. I also felt like he was a major culprit on a few of the big running plays. I feel like you may have mis-attributed some negatives to either Banks or Sagesse that were on Black. I don't think Sagesse really played at all except in a few relief appearances for Patterson in the second half. I'm not a coach or anything, but I played DL (and OL) in high school, and I'm fairly sure that Black had a fairly negative day. Looks to me like he only knows how to pass rush, and gets killed on run plays.
Thanks for all the hard work, as always.
I don't think I've mis-identified Black much; 55 is sufficiently different from 92 that I feel aware when he's in. Sagesse has not played much and I believe I've said that. But I agree that Black is a liability against the run. Michigan State glided down the field on a series of cutbacks he was on the ground for and a couple of runs that Iowa busted outside were partially (possibly largely) his responsibility.
Mouton defense disagreed with. Mouton came in for criticism on a number of runs outside the tackles including a Picture Pages dedicated to Iowa's fourth touchdown, and that criticism was criticized by people who sound like they know what they're talking about. MightAndMainWeCheer on the Iowa TD:
Banks gets hooked by the tackle (which is understandable considering he was lined up a shade inside of the tackle). The tackle then executes a scoop with the guard; the tackle then releases and blocks Mouton. Again, Mouton can't bail to the outside at the snap of the ball because there is a huge cutback lane between the B gap. Kovacs is blitzing but predictably gets kicked out by the FB; in this case cutting the FB and making a pile in the backfield would have been useful in getting the RB to cut up in side or take the ball wider to the outside thus allowing help to arrive. Again, Mouton is flowing down the line but gets blocked by a tackle (you can see a good view of it from the behind-the-offense replay in the youtube cutup). Also Demens does a good job of escaping the wash at the beginning of the play but he doesn't take a very good angle to the ballcarrier at the end.
I totally disagree. I missed Kovacs's blitz getting picked off by the fullback and hadn't considered whether he should get minused there; I'm not convinced but I can see the argument. However, defending Mouton not getting outside the tackle just doesn't fly. Mouton knows Kovacs is gone. Banks is in front of him getting shoved inside. He knows he has no help to the outside, so his first priority must be to funnel the ball inside. If he doesn't it's an auto touchdown. He doesn't, auto touchdown. There is a big damn B gap, true, but his choice is between doing what he did and hoping Robinson doesn't run into the wide open field outside or keeping contain and hoping help comes. Also, criticizing Demens because he didn't take a good angle to the ballcarrier seems insane to me. He hit it up in the hole to get a third down stop and the play went outside.
There's another guy saying similar things on the Picture Pages post itself but Bo Schembechler himself could call down from heaven to say Mouton was innocent and I wouldn't believe him. He expected to have to do it all himself, tried to, failed, and gave up many yards. He has done this throughout his career. There are other problems on the play—Banks did get a minus—but thanks to Sagesse taking two blockers and Demens getting to the hole Mouton is the most obvious reason the play blew up.
I'm slightly more receptive to the idea that I should have been harsher on Black on the other run outside the tackle, as Mouton was given a difficult task:
Black got crushed but Patterson actually stayed playside of his attempted double and is flowing down the line into a gap that Mouton also attacks. Mouton running up into that gap doesn't help; if he flows down the line the gain is held down. Kovacs didn't make a heroic play but I'm not sure what he's supposed to do there. I give minuses to linebackers who hit already filled gaps, and Mouton hit one and let a guy outside again.
Part the First in a preview series for Michigan Men's Basketball
The first part of Media Day was a role reversal of sorts, as Michigan's coaches put reporters through a typical (though abbreviated) workout for the Wolverines. Yours truly is pictured at right (photo by Julian Gonzales of the Free Press) being laughed at by John Beilein.
The workout was fairly light aside from a couple of the exercises that were designed to get our hearts working. It wasn't that tough - unsurprising considering most of the participants were middle-aged, and I'm not. One thing that surprised me was how much of the workout was devoted to injury prevention.
For more on the workout, Mike Rothstein of AnnArbor.com, Rod Beard of the Detroit News, and Joe White of iSportsweb all covered it. iSportsweb also has video, so you can make fun of how hilariously unathletic we writers are:
Player Notes & Quotes
Stu Douglass - The Europe trip helped the process of integrating new guys into the team, and they're poised despite their lack of experience. Guys are willing to put in the work to build something from this team, and to win. There is no making up for the personnel losses from last year's team, they're just looking at this as an entirely new squad.
Zack Novak - The lack of expectations will help motivate the team, and maybe sneak up on some people: "We like the position we're in right now." The goal of the team is to get better and grow each day, not necessarily any win totals. It's on the team leaders to help guide the younger guys toward that goal, and keep them on an even keel - not getting too high or too low. The young guys are going to be able to step up, too. Matt Vogrich "hasn't missed a shot in weeks" and the big guys are working hard - "I can go to battle with someone that's been working like they have."
Evan Smotrycz - The goal for Michigan is to improve to a level where they can compete with Michigan State and other top team in the country on a nightly basis. With no proven talent in the frontcourt, there's pressure for the young guys to perform, but there's also an opportunity for them to grow. The team's leaders have developed and guided the team in the Europe trip, in open gyms, and in workouts. The goal for every college team is to get to the NCAA tournament, but the Wolverines are more concerned with getting better every day and helping the team win.
Matt Vogrich - Novak is the most vocal player on the team, emphasizing toughness both physically and mentally. There are going to be ups and downs over the course of the season, so the players need to be able to play through them and not let their play be affected. Matt isn't necessarily gunning for a starting role, but whatever the team needs from him. He just wants to get enough minutes to prove he's a play that can help the team succeed.
Jordan Morgan - Jordan is finally 100% healthy. He's struggled with a couple different injuries since arriving at Michigan, and he's excited for the opportunity to be healthy. With no game experience in the frontcourt, there's pressure and opportunity to perform.
Coaches need to adapt to twists and turns during the season, but Coach Beilein likes where they're starting the year. There's a competitive spirit within the team, and expects the players to step up, particularly shooting the ball: "We don't have 1/6 nights from three." He urged everyone to look next door to Michigan Stadium if they don't believe this team can improve, saying "Just look at what Denard has done this year." If anybody on Michigan's team makes a similar leap, they'll surprise some opponents this year.
The rotation should be more inclusive this year, featuring 9 or 10 guys. More on Beilein's comments about individual players in the personnel preview coming later this week.
There are still a couple bugs in the system but this is basically right:
The most important bit is Auburn at #2 over Boise State, which holds that spot in the other two major polls. If the season ended today those polls would try and fail to send Boise to the national championship game—they'd be overruled by the computers. The BlogPoll folk look at wins over #13, #17, #20, and #21 and tell the Broncos to talk to the hand.
Writeup on SBNation; Tim's draft ballot was the same as his final this week so it's omitted in order to avoid redundancy.
2007: The Disaster
I was scanning some message board or another and came across a statement about the '07 recruiting class and how it was dooming Michigan this year, so I took a look. The conclusion: holy pants, what a disaster. Here they are by position group they'd are or would be playing on this year's team, with available players bolded.
QB: Ryan Mallett is doing well… at Arkansas.
RB: Vince Helmuth transferred to Miami(Not That Miami), where he has zero carries. Avery Horn left school and was at Reedley CC in California last year. He's not there this year, but he's not anywhere else, either.
WR: Junior Hemingway is a starter. Zion Babb landed at a JUCO after getting the boot and was supposed to transfer to Colorado but didn't make it. Toney Clemons did make it to CU; he's their second-leading receiver with 18 catches for 219 yards.
OL: David Molk is going to be a four-year starter. Mark Huyge is the first guy off the bench at either tackle position and started all of last year.
TE: Martell Webb is a co-starter with Kevin Koger and has been a four-year contributor but not a star.
DL: Ryan Van Bergen is an above-average Big Ten player. Renaldo Sagesse is a backup who gets spot snaps. Steve Watson moved from TE to DE and is this year's David Cone.
LB: JUCO Austin Panter is out of eligibility. Marell Evans transferred to I-AA Hampton. Brandon Herron is Craig Roh's backup when he's healthy.
DB: James Rogers is a very bad starter. Donovan Warren was a multi-year starter who made a bad decision to leave for the NFL. Michael Williams is buried on the depth chart and headed for a medical hardship because of concussions. Artis Chambers transferred to Ball State but is not on the roster. Troy Woolfolk's ankle exploded.
Total contributors from the redshirt junior/senior class
WR: 1, Hemingway.
OL: 2, Molk and Huyge.
TE: 1, Webb.
DL: 2, Van Bergen and Sagesse.
LB: 1, Herron.
DB: 1, Rogers. (Woolfolk was a success but would displace Rogers from this list if healthy.)
Of the guys who are gone, exactly two contribute to a I-A team: Mallett and Clemons. That's like six genuinely good football players out of 20 (Mallett, Hemingway, Molk, RVB, Warren, Woolfolk). That is not a successful recruiting class.
2008: The Divide
2008, divided into Rodriguez and Carr sections. JT Floyd and Brandon Smith committed post-RR but had Michigan as their leader for so long before that they are categorized as Carr guys. The two decommits aren't considered, but Wienke is a third-stringer at Iowa and TE Christian Wilson has eight catches in his career at UNC.
The Rodriguez dossier
QB: Justin "Win At All Costs" Feagin got in trouble and is gone.
RB: Michael Shaw is probably the starting tailback if healthy.
WR: Terrence Robinson is a marginal contributor. Martavious Odoms and Roy Roundtree are productive starters when healthy.
OL: Patrick Omameh is starting as a redshirt sophomore. Ricky Barnum is the primary backup at guard and should be a two-year starter.
LB: Taylor Hill transferred two weeks after arriving. He is a productive player at I-AA Youngstown State.
Six of eight guys are still around with five of them looking like successes, pending Barnum moving into the lineup next year.
The Carr dossier
RB: Mike Cox is fourth string behind Shaw and younger folks. Sam McGuffie got concussed three times in his freshman year and transferred to Rice, where he's their leading rusher.
WR: Darryl Stonum is a starter.
TE: Kevin Koger is a co-starter with Webb; Brandon Moore is still on the team but has not seen meaningful snaps.
OL: Dann O'Neill transferred to WMU, where he is a starter. Kurt Wermers transferred to Ball State after flunking out and complaining about how RR was bringing in people who "weren't his kind of crowd." Rocko Khoury is Molk's backup and did okay against Iowa. Elliot Mealer looks like a career backup at guard.
DL: Mike Martin is awesome.
LB: Marcus Witherspoon never enrolled because of a Clearinghouse issue. Kenny Demens just got his first start and looked pretty good. JB Fitzgerald has been buried behind Mouton and then Roh.
DB: Brandon Smith was too slow to play DB, didn't want to play linebacker, transferred to Temple, and promptly washed out. Boubacar Cissoko got pulled from the starting lineup for performance reasons, was kicked off the team, and saw his life spiral out of control. JT Floyd is in the starting lineup by necessity.
Ten of sixteen guys are still around with… uh. Stonum, Koger, and Martin are obvious successes. Demens and Floyd are contributors. Fitzgerald, Cox, Moore, Khoury and Mealer are looking like either career backups or meh senior starters on par with Greg Banks, though in Khoury's case he's locked behind a very good player.
This isn't a Yet Another Defense Of Rich Rodriguez post, it's Yet Another Roster Implosion Explanation post. (All right: some of both.)
In retrospect the #12 2007 class was overrated. Vastly so.
At the time the line was about the two hyped five stars and the "high upside" guys behind them who were underrated by the services and so forth and so on. The two five stars mostly lived up to that hype, but Mallett did it at Arkansas because of the coaching transition* and Warren took off for the NFL because he thought he was still that good. Meanwhile, the high upside guys mostly can't play football. Even if everyone from the class was still around Michigan would be suffering. Save Mallett, no one who left would see the field. Maybe Artis Chambers would provide some help in the secondary, but he moved to linebacker before his transfer and washed out at Ball State—it's hard to see him displacing Kovacs.
It should have been obvious that recruiting was going in the toilet when Michigan made two desperate reaches at linebacker, grabbing a JUCO guy and a two-star with one other offer(Temple), then made a desperate reach to get a second offensive lineman in the class. But three different groups are proving that subscription models can work on the internet because hope is impervious to reason.
Michigan bounced back in 2008, but a lot of that was the late Rodriguez additions. One man's listing of the top ten recruits in that class, Rodriguez guys bolded:
- Mike Martin
- Patrick Omameh
- Roy Roundtree
- Martavious Odoms
- Kevin Koger
- Michael Shaw
- Darryl Stonum
- Kenny Demens
- Ricky Barnum
- Rocko Khoury
RR's strike rate on 2008 recruits was considerably higher than Carr's, as Michigan seemed like a magnet for overrated guys. Witherspoon, Cissoko, Smith, O'Neill, McGuffie, Fitzgerald, Moore, and Stonum have all under-performed relative to expectations, with only Martin exceeding them. You can make a case that coaching has something to do with it but I believe evaluations are a major factor. From time to time a guy who knows an NFL scout relays his impressions (this year's theme: "Michigan has nothing on defense except for Martin. Who is this Rogers guy?") and from day one this guy said O'Neill was way too stiff and would not work out. Similarly, it's hard to imagine just what position Brandon Smith was going to play in the Big Ten.
Class of 2008 departures who might see the field this year are… well… Cissoko? Definite nos: Wermers, O'Neill, Feagin. Very probable nos: Hill (OLB; would not beat out Mouton or Roh), Witherspoon (could not find the field at Rutgers and washed out), and Smith (like Cam Gordon except worse).
So. Michigan's 2007 class was a disaster and attrition from it did not matter save Warren's early NFL entry. The two thirds of Michigan's 2008 class acquired by Carr was appreciably better but still not so good; Rodriguez's late additions brought it up to something approximating an average Michigan recruiting class when it comes to on-field success.
(By the way: Rodriguez's second class is looking divergent as hell. Massive nuclear strikes at QB and OL, yet another disaster of a DB class—Witty, Emilien, and Turner are all gone and Mike Jones is a linebacker.)
Remember, all-time updates can be found on the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board. If you have any recruiting tips or questions, you can e-mail them to me at [email protected] or tweet @varsityblue. For game updates on Wolverine commits, check out the F riday Night Lights series.
This week, Wednesday Recruitin' goes overview. This isn't a comprehensive list of prospects that are considering Michigan, but a look at several of the more likely guys to end up in the Wolverines' class. Tom published a Best Guess list last weekend, as well.
UMGoBlog has an interesting interview with FL QB Commit Kevin Sousa (at right), in which he says he's not hearing from Michigan as much as he'd like:
He'll visit Middle Tennessee State this weekend [10/24]. He will also visit Louisville and Wake Forest later in the season and hopes to get two more officials planned soon.
"My commitment to Michigan is the same as their commitment to me. I want to be their guy but I was also told that they are going after another quarterback. "
That quarterback is obviously NC QB Marquise Williams, who visited for the Michigan State game (and is up for the National Player of the Year award). Williams is committed to North Carolina, but one must assume he's not particularly excited about suffering through 3-4 years of severe NCAA sanctions, so that commitment is soft.
Whichever guy Michigan ends up with, it's likely there will only be one quarterback in this class when all is said and done.
FL RB Demetrius Hart is committed, but Michigan is still pursuing a couple guys who could play running back or slot receiver.
NJ Slot Miles Shuler is still considering Michigan, and was recently named to the Army All-American game.
With OH WR AJ Jordan coming off the board to Wisconsin and VA WR Quinta Funderburke headed to Arkansas, there are dwindling options at outside wide receiver in this class. It appears the Wolverines want another wideout only if it's a top guy, but definitely want to take a tight end.
FL WR Chris Gallon (at right) has started picking up interest from some of college football's big boys, including the Wolverines:
"I'm considering all schools that have offered right now [Colorado State, Memphis, FAU, BGSU]," said Gallon, who visited Florida Atlantic last season. "My cousin (DeAndre Williams) plays at FAU and he likes it a lot and we both pretty much like the same thing."
Michigan, Nebraska, USF, Miami and Iowa State have also shown an increased interest in Gallon, who leads the Panthers with 317 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns on 15 catches.
Gallon is yet another member of the Dr. Phillips group, and if Michigan continues to pick up interest, Dee Hart could help secure his commitment. Gallon is a tall wideout, listed between 6-4 and 6-5, and he could end up as a tight end if he lands with Michigan.
Fluff on FL WR Sammy Watkins, including the tidbit that Michigan sent coaches to watch his game on Friday (teammate Dallas Crawford is mentioned below).
There are a few more tight end prospects considering Michigan, such as recent visitor Drew Owens, but it seems like the Wolverines will have to wait to see how it all shakes out.
The Wolverines are stockpiling linemen in this class, with Jack Miller, Tony Posada, and Jake Fisher already committed, and a couple more realistic prospects out there. Only one or two more will probably land in this class.
IL OL Chris Bryant has scheduled his Michigan official visit ($, info in header) for December 10th.
Michigan may be in dire need of a defensive tackle or two in the class, and they're going hard after a few guys.
FL DT Tim Jernigan, who visited a couple weeks ago, has dropped Florida - who many presumed to be his favorite - from his tops schools list, and now has a top four of Michigan, LSU, Florida State, and Alabama.
The Wolverines are getting renewed interest from DC DT Kevin McReynolds.
Though the Wolverines already have OH DE Chris Rock and MI DE/LB Brennen Beyer committed, they're going after other defensive ends (which could mean Rock ends up at defensive tackle).
Freep fluff on MI DE/OL Anthony Zettel, whom Josh Helmholdt calls "arguably the top prospect on left on [sic] their board." He keeps pushing back his decision timeframe:
He expects to start taking official visits once his senior season is complete and decide following those trips. Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Iowa and USC appear the most likely at this time to receive official visits.
It seems as though the Wolverines still lead, and as long as they're able to win a few more games this year, things look pretty good for Zettel.
Serious fluff on GA DE Ray Drew. He's a much more likely option if his buddy, GA S Avery Walls, picks the Wolverines.
PA DE Deion Barnes will visit after the season, and won't decide before January.
TX LB Kellen Jones and OH/VA LB Antonio Kinard are both in Michigan's class already, but the Wolverines are still in need of some LB talent.
NC LB/WR Kris Frost has a top four of Auburn, Michigan, Florida, UCLA, and Cal
OH LB Sean Duggan has Michigan in his final four, but has put the recruiting process on hold until after his season.
He also has a mid-season highlight reel that can only be watched on Youtube. Morgan is currently a 3-star prospect with offers from a few MAC schools and Boston College.
VA LB Travis Hughes has eliminated Michigan.
Michigan is looking for at least one true safety in this class, and maybe more.
GA S Avery Walls and FL S Wayne Lyons are two prime candidates to fill that spot, with Walls receiving a recent visit from Greg Robinson.
FL S HaSean Clinton-Dix and Karlos Williams are both committed to elsewhere, but will consider Michigan (unlikely though it may be that they actually switch commitments).
Local fluff on LA CB Daren Kitchen and his buddy Jermaine Johnson, a Memphis commit. The article says that schools are waiting to evaluate Kitchen against better competition, which is an accurate assessment, methinks.
Michigan is no longer on the list for VA CB Demetrious Nicholson.
Josh Helmholdt talks early offers in the Free Press, and concludes that the (idiotic) change in NCAA rules hasn't slowed that process down.
Michigan has only offered a couple quarterbacks in the class of 2012, but it seems that one of them, FL QB Bennie Coney, can't seem to keep himself out of trouble. With the negative PR swirling around Ann Arbor, I doubt Rich Rodriguez would be able to take a chance on this kid.
I talked about OH QB/Ath Demitrious Davis last week, and his teammate William Mahone is looking at Michigan as well ($, info in header).
Fluff on IL OL Dan Voltz. With a commitment coming at the end of his junior season, the lack of a Michigan mention probably means the Wolverines don't stand much of a chance.
PA OL Tyler Alt will visit Penn State for the Michigan game this weekend. He's already been to Ann Arbor this fall, and is very interested in the Wolverines.
OH DE Chris Wormley (at right) is the subject of last week's Sam Webb column in the Detroit News:
"It is Michigan and Ohio State at the top," stated Wormley matter-of-factly. "I don't really have them one-two right now, but they are definitely at the top."
At this early stage in his recruitment Wormley remains wide open to overtures from any schools. However, it is abundantly clear the Wolverines and Buckeyes have a few built-in advantages that will make them major players in his recruitment until the very end.
As you may recall, Wormley received his Michigan offer at the Iowa game a week ago, and conventional wisdom - even among Buckeye fans - has him eventually landing with the Wolverines.
One topic that was brought up during your WTKA segment today regarding special teams was, "what happened to the kickoff return game?' You never addressed it during the segment, so I thought I would throw this at you.
I haven't done my Mgoresearch, but wasn't there a rule change regarding kickoff return team blocking? IIRC, the NCAA has limited the number of return team players allowed in a blocking wedge or wall.
I would have to look up video from previous seasons, but I believe U of M utilized a 3 man wall in front of the returners with Kevin Grady and others.
David is correct: the NCAA banned wedge blocking this offseason, which at least partially explains how an effective kick return game has disintegrated. If Michigan was really good at the wedge and now it's gone they're starting over. That doesn't explain why they're really bad, but does get you to average.
That lack of effectiveness and Darryl Stonum's increased importance to the offense make his removal from kick returns less annoying than it was earlier in the year. With Odoms out there's not much depth on the outside and Stonum wasn't getting any returns; it's possible that one-cut-and-go type stuff is less effective and kick returners should be shiftier guys closer to punt returners.
What do you think of Devin Gardner's expected plea for a medical redshirt? It's suspicious he's only played 1/3rd of the season and is eligible for the redshirt. If this is RichRod bending redshirt rules for an extra year of eligibility from Devin, isn't this a bad thing, like Saban's redshirts? We're not gaming the system for more scholarships, but we are gaming it for a competitive advantage, right?
The difference is that I'm sure Devin Gardner is 100% on board with getting a fifth year of eligibility. The Alabama players "encouraged" to take a medical scholarship would like to keep playing football and are being presented with an involuntary choice: transfer or medical, take your pick. I'm not too concerned about skating the edges of NCAA rules when it doesn't have a negative impact on the student-athlete the entire enterprise is supposed to support.
The timing is convenient but unless Michigan has an inordinate number of medical redshirts per year I'm not sure the NCAA would even bat an eye at a documented injury. Like, say, this:
That looks like exploitation. Michigan's pattern probably isn't that blatant, so what can you do when they say he was hurt?
Finally, concerns about looking bad to the NCAA are overblown. The worst thing that can possibly happen is the NCAA says no.
The future of defense. Many questions answered piecemeal:
One of the potential "benefits" of having so much youth on defense is that they could potentially lock down their positions for years. If that happens in any cases, can you explain whether there is any positional flexibility with this 3-3-5 alignment we're using?
Could Carvin move to FS?
Doubtful. His strengths and weaknesses make him an excellent fit for the spot he's at right now and not so much of an excellent fit at FS, where speed and raw athleticism are more important. Not that our current FS has those in buckets, but moving Johnson doesn't really solve that issue.
How is Marvin going to see the field if he's behind Kovacs? (who expected us to say something like that?)
Possibly by trying out free safety? This is the weird thing called "depth."
Could Furman or Hawthorne see the field anywhere?
Hawthorne is the third team spur behind two guys younger than him. The most likely career outcome there is special teams only. Furman is likely to move to OLB, where he'll need another year or two of seasoning before breaking through. Remember he was super raw out of HS.
Would Roh move to a true DE in this scheme or stay in this hybrid LB situation?
He's already a DE (mostly) against conventional teams. Michigan is a 4-3 or 3-4 base against conventional pro-style sets and Roh puts his hand down more often than not. So the question is really "will Roh play DE against spread teams next year?" That depends on how Jibreel Black, JB Fitzgerald, Brandon Herron, and other OLB/DEs (Wilkins, Paskorz, Furman) develop. I think the ideal situation sees Roh add another 10-15 pounds over the offseason to hit 265—he's listed at 6'5"—and becoming a full-time DE. Before Herron went down Michigan was using him as a 3-3-5 DE to good effect against Notre Dame, and we've all seen him struggle in space against Indiana.
Roh will probably remain a hybrid against pro-style teams, playing clunky LB when Michigan drops into the 3-3-5.
Could Cam Gordon move down to another spot?
If you can find a suitable replacement at free safety, but who's that? Kovacs? No. Floyd? Really bad tackler. Vinopal's made a lot of hay out of one play against Bowling Green but remains a true freshman as well. Ideally he'd move down to spur or bandit (or even OLB) but unless Michigan snags someone ready to start at FS from day one it's hard to see him relocate.
That's why the recruit I'd most like to get in February is JUCO safety Byron Moore, who qualified out of high school and transferred away from USC after a redshirt season to get playing time and scout out a new destination not being cratered by NCAA sanctions. As a big time recruit two years removed from high school with a year of PT under his belt, Moore is the closest thing to a quick fix at FS Michigan will ever have.
But wait, there's Woolfolk, right? Well a bit more on him later.
How do you see the open positions being filled in 2011 on defense to see if there's hope? I assume Jones and Demens will be the LB (backed up by Ryan, Bell, and any freshmen)
Yes, though Jones might field a challenge from parts unknown. It's hard to see anyone displacing Demens if only because there almost literally isn't anyone behind him on the depth chart at the moment.
I assume Black will be the DE (backed up by Heninger and the RS-Freshmen)
Yes, unless they go with Roh there—Black will find plenty of PT platooning—and Herron/Fitzgerald at the other OLB spot. With the lack of depth at DT that might be a way to spot Martin with RVB from time to time, as well.
Does Woolfolk automatically go back to corner or deep safety? I assume corner, but with the time Avery and Talbott are getting could he be better served protecting the deep ball?
Up in the air, something that will be decided based on the potential acquisition of Moore, Gordon's play the rest of the season, and how things work out in spring. Right now I'd say corner since Michigan plays a ton of cover three and none of the freshmen looks like they should be starting next year. Even if one of them develops quickly you'd like to have some depth at corner for nickel and dime packages.
And then there's this:
I liken the "Angry M hating God" to Yukon Cornelius and Hermey Scrivello from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
For instance, the M defense is the Bumble, ready to devour talking reindeer and #1 wide receivers accross the land. Then Yukon and Hermey show up unexpectedly and ruin everything. They rip out your teeth (Woolfolk) and force you to do stupid shit like hang Christmas ornaments or run only zone because you have lost the only thing that instilled fear in your opponent.
Our defense is the Bumble without teeth. Right now our pass defense is being shoved off a cliff every week until we grow new teeth or we realize we have claws to gouge the eyes of our opponent. I'm just sayin'.
I have nothing to add.