Mikey likes it. Sound the greatest horn in the deepest valley and bring all the counts, earls, and dukes to the castle. I have no complaints about a uniform thing. Yea, it is true. I was worried about the matte helmets, but in sunlight they look great:
Still Iconic. pic.twitter.com/SMTquow5vq
— Michigan Equipment (@HailEquipment) August 2, 2016
There's matte like Michigan wore in the no-numbers bowl and there's that. Still some sheen, but not shiny. Dark dark blue. Maize. It looks like the most Michigan version of Michigan. It looks precise and focused and traditional.
It's mildly fussed the Uni Watch guy because he doesn't have things to say...
Nike's characteristic hype notwithstanding, there's nothing to get particularly excited about here, because so little has changed, but there's nothing to complain about either. Carry on.
...and it's caused an ESPN headline that's precisely wrong:
— Kurt Svoboda (@ksvoboda) August 3, 2016
The only thing about these jerseys is nuance, and they aced every one. The logos are tastefully small and distributed symmetrically. The colors are right, the road whites are still so crisp, and the one weird thing has deep Michigan roots*. It feels like Michigan told Nike to do stuff and Nike killing it. This is in marked contrast to how these things go much of the time: wear this ridiculous looking thing that various other schools are also wearing.
*[The diversity angle is a major stretch. Having Gerald Ford's 4 is still cool.]
Senioritis prohibited. Michigan's Jordan-littered offer letters were all over the internet yesterday. An example:
— S A U C Y ™ (@_OverCees) August 2, 2016
Nick Baumgardner highlights a slightly unusual bit that I'm pretty sure is new this year:
The final bullet point reads: "We expect you to continue to strive for excellence as a student and as an athlete: this scholarship should serve as motivation towards continued growth, not an excuse to become complacent."
Pre-Swenson incident offer letters warned kids to keep their grades up and away from the local constabulary, as had offers dating back to the Rodriguez era. Specifically noting that offers are contingent on continued progress is a Harbaugh thing, and means we can expect more decommit kerfuffles going forward.
Both sides are boggling now. Anonymous coach takes on ACC teams have something to say about Don Brown:
“BC’s defense last year was the biggest pain for us to prepare for because they did so many things, especially on third down. The fronts they lined up in, the pressures they came with were unique, and they had some big, physical players. They were legit.”
“[New BC DC Jim] Reid played a base defense when he was at Virginia, and on third down you get maybe one or two different pressures, so it’s like one end of the spectrum to the other. It’ll be interesting to see what they do.”
Michigan is in the opposite situation. DJ Durkin was a Reid type of guy content to run fairly simple defenses. Michigan did have a big stunt package; blitzes were not particularly common and usually just a five man pressure.
Is this Ryan Glasgow's nickname? This is an amazing nickname for an older brother to bestow on his younger sibling:
Ayyy young toothless https://t.co/Tuxy1Djlnk
— Graham Glasgow (@gglasgow61) August 2, 2016
Always wanted a guy named Biff around. Biff Poggi, father of Henry, has at various times been headed to Ann Arbor or another high school head coaching gig after his odd and unceremonious dismissal from Gilman. He is officially a Wolverine:
"When you've been doing something for 30 years, I just went back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, and I learned that habits are a hard thing to break," Poggi said. "I love coaching high school kids, but this was such an opportunity."
Poggi's youngest son Henry is a Wolverines fullback with two years of eligibility remaining and his daughter Mellie is also at Michigan.
"I felt like if I was ever going to do it, this is like the sun, the moon and the stars have lined up and I really am very comfortable with Jim and the coaching staff," Poggi said.
Poggi's job will be to advise Harbaugh on strategy and organizational structure. His position does not count as a coaching position and he won't be coaching the players, coaching the team or recruiting, according to the Michigan job description.
It's another analyst role. It sounds like it's a short term thing until Poggi gets the itch to return to high school, where he appears to have a job waiting for him at St. Francis. I wouldn't be surprised if Poggi spent a couple years with his son and then went back.
One interesting side note is that Poggi has some recruiting hoops to jump through because of his generosity and persnickety NCAA rules:
Another issue for Poggi was that he played a large part in funding the St. Frances program from the beginning and that he also paid tuition for a number of young men at Gilman and at other schools. As a coach in the NCAA, he could no longer pay for those things.
"I had to hire a lot of lawyers and go through the complete compliance check to where I have to follow and obey exactly the rules," he said. "For example, I just can't go watch a high school football game which I've done for 30 years. I can't call a kid on the phone. I know all these kids, the Gilman kids and other kids, too. I just can't go, 'Hey, how you doing?' I can't text them. I have to be careful how I reply to a text from them. My life is completely different than how I lived it over the last 30 years."
Good news is that Poggi can slide into their DMs without consequence and retweet them until the sun grows cold and dim, because NCAA communication regulations are all over the place.
PFF previews Michigan. They've kind of done this several times over the offseason already and every time they publish a thing we grab it here and prize it apart for any insight into their database, so there's not a ton that will be new to readers of this space. Their main concern is at QB:
QB is the biggest question on the entire roster, as 2015 starter Jake Rudock is also now with the Lions. John O’Korn (who transferred from Houston after being benched in 2014 by the new regime looking for a more athletic option) and Wilton Speight (64 snaps last season) will compete for the starting position throughout this month and while the winner will be afforded some margin of error with what appears to be a relatively easy schedule early, if the Wolverines expect to win big road games at Michigan State, Iowa and Ohio State, they will need quality play from the new signal caller.
There's no disputing that. Harbaugh's track record helps in this regard; it's nice to have one of the biggest questions you can have seem like no big deal because of the head coach.
Elsewhere some confirmation that the linebackers were eh a year ago...
While the LB corps was turned over completely due to graduation, none of last year’s crew graded overwhelmingly positively and this year’s version of course has the benefit of playing behind likely the best defensive line in the country.
...and the usual praise for Peppers, Lewis, Wormley, Hurst, Glasgow, and company. The chaser: "while many schools may have just one true superstar, Michigan has at least six on the defensive side alone."
Meanwhile in the league. Rashan Gary and Taco Charlton are gonna eat:
Can someone in the tackle class pass block?
With Ohio State’s Taylor Decker moving on to the NFL and Michigan’s Mason Cole kicking inside to center this year, no returning offensive tackle in the [Big Ten] had a positive pass blocking grade in 2015. In fact, Nebraska’s Nick Gates is the only tackle to grade positively on run blocks last year. Offensive line is the unit we typically see the most variance and improvement in from year to year, but with the entire conference literally having nothing but subpar or first-year starters, this could be another rough year against the uber-talented EDGE players littered throughout the Big Ten.
Cole had a positive pass pro grade; Magnuson did not; the rest of the league is going to curl up and die when presented with Michigan's DL (and Jabrill Peppers).
Etc.: Butt, Peppers, and Lewis make SI's preseason All-America team.
First things first: I think I finally get the Nike hype:
Correct, oh merchants of swoosh.
If you got your copy of HTTV this year (if you didn't it's probably too late for a hard copy since we are a few copies away from selling out), you probably already read Ian Boyd's article on John O'Korn, which included several Harbaugh staples that really use the specific talents of Michigan's offensive skill position players.
One of the mainstays of Harbaughffense in every stop before now was this: Y Banana. Gruden's QB camp episode with Andrew Luck spent a good chunk of time on this play (start at 8:38 here and then watch part ii), and if you watched Michigan under Carr you'll recognize the hell out of it too. So if you watched Michigan last year knowing these things, Y Banana might have seemed noticeably absent.
I already covered one play that is basically banana, which I called Levels TE drag.
The only real difference here is instead of an X receiver on the "strong" (field/Butt's) side, Harbaugh put AJ Williams on the playside and had him run the TE's level, making Butt the backside read.
I still would like to get into this again however because the above was a reaction to the 2015 personnel, while the base thing may be a perfect fit for Michigan's 2016 guys, provided they can run.
[Hit the Jump for John Gruden yelling at Andrew Luck to throw it to the fullback]
via Michigan's new apparel site, which also has many detail shots
Michigan officially unveiled their new Jordan brand football uniforms in a totally understated setting this afternoon, and for the most part little has changed except the logo. This is good, especially if you're a fan of the all-white road uniforms. I count myself among that number, and so does Jim Harbaugh:
Harbaugh says the white pants on the road will be a permanent thing. He's a fan of that.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) August 2, 2016
Nike did make a few minor alterations. The number font is new, which you can see in both the '4' on the home uniform and the '2' on the road. The road uniforms
now feature two sleeve stripes (late 80s/mid 90s style) instead of the three they wore last year [edit: my mistake, it's still three stripes—the bottom one was hard to see] and the sleeve numbers have moved from the side to the top of the shoulder. The rest is the same, and mercifully clean, too—I was worried the Jumpman logo would be too large, and that's not at all the case.
There is one major change, and it's to the most legendary aspect of the uniform:
Those are matte helmets. Michigan spokesman says the plan is to wear those this season. That's new. pic.twitter.com/5taVBAjmWs
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) August 2, 2016
I'm ambivalent about the paint style of the helmet, but I might be in the minority there.
I'll hold off on diving into color analysis—at first glance, both the maize and blue look a little darker than past years—until we get some photos in normal lighting.
10. No warmup pitches for relievers.
What did you just spend 15 minutes doing in the bullpen? Why are you wasting our time like this? I have things to look at that aren't you! Ever heard of a book, buddy? Yeah, probably not.
9. Every time a pitcher throws to first he has to put on another hat.
If the hats fall off before the end of the inning that counts as one ball per hat that falls off.
8. Balks are cool.
7. I don't have any other ideas.
Baseball! It's good if you want to drink beer outside with something else going on vaguely in your perception. The exact structure of the game is beside the point.
6. Wait, wait, now I do.
Remember Basewars? Yeah, do that.
I prefer robots but if we can get this on the road with people I'm down. You want me out? Put me out. I do not recognize the authority of this "ball" you have tagged me with.
5. This is a bad post.
You can think that. It's okay.
We are drafting Big Ten teams because "Top 100 players in the Big Ten" content wouldn't make us hate each other nearly as much.
Previously on Draftageddon:
Rounds 1-2: A Heisman candidate QB and the reigning Thorpe winner go after two members of Michigan's secondary. (M players: Peppers, Lewis, Butt)
Rounds 3-4: An underwhelming first swing through receivers, and lots of linemen. (Chesson, Cole, Wormley, Glasgow)
Rounds 5-6: A Michigan second-teamer goes before Purdue J.J. Watt. (Charlton, Hurst)
Rounds 7-8: Hodor. (Taco, Hurst)
Rounds 9-11: We go on a mini Iowa binge, and Brian takes a true freshman (YTTF).
Rounds 12-14: A grueling three-rounder with safeties, RBs, and MSU legacies flexing. (O'Korn, Braden).
How things stand:
We ran three rounds again last time, which was probably too much. Just trying to get these all out before the season; would you rather very long Draftageddons or multiple Draftageddons per week?
ACE: Round 15, Pick 1: Brandon Bell, linebacker, Penn State
OFFENSE: QB CJ Beathard (IA), RB Saquon Barkley (PSU), WR Jehu Chesson (M), SLOT Curtis Samuel (OSU), TE George Kittle (IA), OT Nick Gates (NE), OG Jacob Bailey (IU), WEAPON Jabrill Peppers (M)
DEFENSE: NT Ryan Glasgow (M), DT Jake Replogle (PU), DE Sam Hubbard (OSU), MLB Josey Jewell (IA), OLB Brandon Bell (PSU), OLB/NICKEL Jabrill Peppers (M), CB Jalen Myrick (MN), S Nate Gerry (NE)
SPECIAL TEAMS: KR Jabrill Peppers (M), PR Jabrill Peppers (M)
Seth, our resident PSU fan, chose Nyeem Wartman-White in the sixth round of this draft. Even when fully healthy, however, he’s not PSU’s best linebacker—that honor goes to Brandon Bell. Here is eight minutes of Bell doing every damn thing you’d want from a linebacker:
Bell is a prototype walkout linebacker, and at 6’1”, 231, he’s strong enough to play on the inside as well—there are several impressive snaps above where he lines up at WILL and makes a play between the tackles. In 11 games, he tallied 67 tackles, 12.5 TFLs, 5.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and an interception. He did all of this while playing much of the season injured:
That's because the New Jersey native played most of the season injured. A shoulder injury was obvious, and the defensive coordinator said there were lower body issues, as well.
"You look back at the year Brandon Bell had, despite missing a couple of games, playing with two bad wheels, a shoulder that kept popping out; when I go back and watch the cutups from the fall, just really impressed with the way Brandon plays," Pry said.
I’ll happily take Bell over the relatively interchangeable MIKEs who’ve gone off the board in the last couple rounds, especially since there are still a couple quality ILBs left on the board if I want to reconfigure my defense. For now, I’ll take a linebacker trio of Bell-Jewell-Peppers that will murder anything on the outside, provide great coverage, and allow my hypothetical squad to avoid having to substitute much against spread teams.
Seth: I would argue except "Well most Penn State fans think..." is the Alabama of bad ways to begin an argument.
Brian: You'd think Ace would know that after drafting nothing but PSU TEs for skill positions last year.
Ace: I’ve made some regrettable choices. Meanwhile, Wartman-White is in a battle just to get his MIKE spot back. Jason Cabinda is good, but nobody’s touched him yet in a draft heavy on ILBs.
Seth: That battle is the mother of offseason pablum. NWW will play wherever they want him, and Cabinda is more Desmond Morgan than Larry Foote.
Ace: They’re all going to start, but it’s tough to spin “ripped up his knee, is _still_ not fully healthy, might not be the QB of the defense anymore” as anything but a negative. I certainly don’t think he should’ve gone in the 6th round of a draft in which Jermaine Carter lasted until the 14th.
Brian: Yeah i mean how likely is it NWW is better than guys like Jewell and Carter? Possible, but not that likely. And the downside is kind of severe.
Ace: And Bell is a more versatile player than Jewell/Carter/NWW/Bullough. Figured someone would grab him as a spacebacker much earlier. I only waited this long because I already had Peppers.
Seth: When i did the Googling for that guy I had to sift through a Draftageddon's worth of articles from last year where teammates bemoaned his loss. It must have been a weekly feature. Meanwhile the list of guys I can watch live and immediately pick out that they're special is quite short. That meant a lot to me in choosing a linebacker, since draft rankings and all-X lists barely look past number of tackles.
And I was waiting to draft Bell because everybody had an outside linebacker already.
Ace: You say that like the rest of us haven’t watched film, too.
Seth: Live-live. Like you can see it from section 18. This is more explanation than argument. I develop sentimental attachments to players I personally identified
Ace: I rest my case, then.
Seth: There are also the guys I read about then watch tape and see just a guy *cough* Hardy Nickerson. (Also *cough* sometimes that guy is Jordan Howard *cough myself*)
Adam: Hey don't try to drag me into your mess. I waited until the 13th round to make my feelingsball-based reach.
Seth: Like I said, I gave up this fight when I realized the credibility of my source killed it before I got to the first predicate.
[After the jump: more self-refuting sentences involving Penn State]
Watch This At Your Own Peril
The above is a 20-minute long junior highlight reel of the nation's #1 overall recruit, Antioch (CA) RB Najee Harris, who's currently committed to Alabama. It is now relevant to your interests, per 247's Steve Lorenz:
Michigan will host the nation's top overall prospect for their BBQ at the Big House, as Antioch (CA) 2017 five-star running back Najee Harris will be in Ann Arbor on August 6th for the annual recruiting event.
The visit was actually set over a month ago when Michigan, in a remarkable coincidence, hosted a satellite camp at Harris's high school. While Alabama insiders feel confident in the Tide's chances of holding onto Harris, Lorenz isn't ruling out M's chances of a flip:
We've written a lot lately about Michigan narrowing their recruiting board down heading into the season. Linebacker...cornerback....wide receiver...these are all spots where Michigan has concentrated their efforts on the nation's elite. At running back, it currently appears to be Najee Harris and everybody else.
I think the staff's chances with him are better than people realize. A visit on his own dime is of course noteworthy as it always is, but in talking to some sources closer to the Michigan side of things following the Antioch camp, there's a belief that he's a fit for Jim Harbaugh's culture and what he's trying to do at Michigan.
Don't watch that video unless you want to get dangerously excited about the possibility of landing Harris, which won't be easy at all—Bama isn't Michigan's only competition, as USC, UCLA, Oregon, and Cal are also in contention.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]