Notes from Brady Hoke's meeting with the media today. Photo from file.
Ray Vinopal is no longer with the team. "Ray decided to go back Youngstown. You know, that issue's more a family issue."
Injuries: Christian Pace is doing individual drills only. "Molk's the other guy who hasn't done anything but some individual. He'll be fine by Tuesday." - hamstring tweak. Troy Woolfolk is doing a little group work, mostly individual. JT Floyd doing less group stuff than Troy. Mike Shaw is doing alternate conditioning things. Next week, he'll do more with the cast on. "I think we're OK health-wise. I don't think we're anything of real significance yet."
"We wouldn't play a game" for the spring 'game' with the team's current injury level. Would do more situational scrimmage-type stuff. With only 11 more practice days, "I doubt if we'll play a game game. I'd like to, but we don't have enough depth."
No new position changes. There may be some later in the spring when they've had more of a chance to evaluate.
During the spring, "we'll put [a depth chart] out. Nothing's given. You're gonna have to earn it." If you end spring as a starter, you better keep working over the summer, and in fall camp, because you have to earn your job.
Wants to install 50-60% of offense and defense in spring (Al Borges would like to get 65% of the offense in). You can install more in the fall as you're gameplanning. "Once we get the power play down, then we'll go to the next phase. You know, because we're gonna run the power play." [ed: This is a very MANBALL quote.]
QBs: "I think both of them have done a good job. I think you look at, the different things are a little more under center, obviously. The ball mechanics and footwork... all those technical things that go along with it. So, I think they've both done a good job, they're both very capable of being tremendous quarterbacks in this offense."
RBs: "I wouldn't wanna say any of them's any better than the other ones. Vince [Smith] has done a good job, [Stephen] Hopkins has come on, Fitz [Toussaint] had a good day in there with a couple good runs, and Michael Cox is a guy that has some outstanding ability, and we've just gotta keep progressing with him."
Fullbacks: "We don't have a lot of fullbacks." Hopkins works out well at FB "for a lot of the old 49ers stuff" with split backs. Hoke wants fullbacks to block so hard they "come in at about 6-3, and leave the program at 6-1." Wisconsin fullbacks get shorter as the years go on.
WRs: "They have to do both" block and catch. They have the most bodies there and at safety. Lots of competition, so guys they have to block well and catch well to see the field.
Lines: "We just don't have a whole lot of bodies there... That's always, up there, because you need a lot of bodies on both sides." They need to address it in future recruiting. With Molk and Pace out, Rocko Khoury is getting most snaps at center. Patrick Omameh is getting a lot of reps with limited line depth.
Defensive line: "There's some guys who have played some significant minutes and downs up there that we've gotta get 'em better when you talk about the fundamentals of playing the position." Quinton Washington ("he shows up") and Richard Ash ("has made some progress") are doing well, you expect the 2 seniors to step up. "I think Will [Campbell] had some real good plays the other day, and he's gotta have more of those than bad plays."
Kicking game: "They're doing OK. We haven't gone full-bore into it... They have their specialists but we put a little live rush on them and those kinds of things yesterday." All the different elements (snap, hold, kick) need to come together.
There have been three practices so far, one in pads. "I've liked the tempo that we played with. I like how the guys are flying around to some extent. We've still got a lot that we've gotta get better at, and playing fanatical as a team."
"We're not playing as fast as we will" due to the nature of learning. Still pleased with the competition level. Guys come in wanting to improve every day.
How to cultivate a competitive atmosphere: "You do that by rewarding guys who play well, and guys who don't play as well, you maybe don't get as many snaps." In their situational drills (red zone, etc.), "There's consequences for losing." There is competition within positions and also offense v defense.
Smooth transition for Denard? "I think so." He sometimes has issues with rushing the footwork, but both QBs have handled it really well. Once in a while, Denard shows off those feet. "If you leave a little crease in there, he can go get it."
How have players responded to practice intensity? "They haven't come to see me about it. I guess it's been OK."
Any spring surprises? "Not yet. I think it's way too early to make any comment, to be honest with you. We're just really scratching the surface, in my opinion." General thoughts: "I think there's a little more, I think good and bad... You want to see some guys be a little more physical and a little more sudden in some of the things they're doing. At the same time, there's some other guys who have done a good job of being physical and the things that you're looking for."
By the end of spring, "We'll never be where I want us to be. Period. I know me." It's typical here, like it was with BSU and SDSU, they know where the team is starting and where they want to be when they finish spring. "We're where I thought we'd be right now, and where we thought we'd be."
There's a learning curve "paralysis by analysis" when installing new O and D. You see it more on the defensive side of the ball (which is by nature reactive). "From an offensive standpoint you may see it when the guys up front start movement patterns." Players over-thinking new plays, technique, etc. being a little different. "They're hungry, and they wanna learn. We just gotta keep as coaches doing a good job of being teachers."
Fundamentals and techniques of positions are the critical areas. Every position needs to know proper alignments, line splits, etc. Effort and toughness do not have any wiggle room for being less than perfect. The techniques and schemes are new, but effort and toughness do not change. How big is the gap between what players are doing and it should be done? "I don't know. The Grand Canyon size, right now." Players want to be coached and do it the right way. Guys who have played a lot might be further along, but may be slower learning a different way to do things.
They have 1-on-1 padded drills, not necessarily tackling all the time. "You're only limited to a certain amount [of full-contact practices], so you've gotta cherish those dates."
Had to move practice to 5:30 in the morning [ed: !!!] on Monday because 40-some players had Monday afternoon class. "Morning is my favorite time of day, but i worry about the other end of it for the kids" from an academic perspective.
It's important to practice outside in fall, but not so much in spring. "Previous experience here has told me you may get 6 times at the most to get out in the 15 days." The new indoor facility allows full kicking game, you can throw full deep routes without hitting the ceiling.
If you thought hiring Brady Hoke's 47-50 career record was an iffy move, you've got company. Not amongst your company is Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis, who just hired Tom Anastos to be Michigan State's head coach. Who is Tom Anastos? Exactly.
Anastos's career record is 0-0. He's spent the last 13 years taking the CCHA nowhere in particular as its commissioner. Before that he was president of the NAHL, which crumbled shortly after his departure and has been almost entirely supplanted by the USHL. According to HockeyDB his coaching credentials consist of a single season as a Michigan State assistant 20 years ago; before that he spent four years coaching UM-Dearborn's club(!) team.
To describe this as a shock doesn't do it justice. This is the equivalent of Michigan hiring Miami (Not That Miami) athletic director Brad Bates, a former Bo player, to coach the football team. If State had any hockey fans they'd be livid right now. They just hired a suit with literally zero track record to pick up the pieces left by Comley, thus proving their Corey Tropp curse isn't broken yet.
This rumor had been bouncing around the internet for long enough that it was hardly a rumor anymore, but Hoke has just confirmed it and now it's really not a rumor:
Hoke on Vinopal: "Ray decided to go back Youngstown. That issue's more a family issue."
Michigan loses both a two-star recruit no one expected would ever play and a guy who started half his freshman season, which says all you need to about last year's secondary. The free safety spot is manned by… uh… definitely somebody. I think we can safely assert Michigan will put eleven players on the field this fall. That's all we know. Since the depth chart by class has exactly one other body at the spot, that true freshman Minnesota decommit Tamani Carter, it's safe to say the eventual starter is kind of up in the air.
Keep track of Michigan's offers on the 2012 Michigan Recruiting Board, which will see some format updates as soon as Michigan starts getting commits.
Weekend Practice Visits
Spring practice kicked off last weekend, and Tom had a full list of weekend visitors coming into the practice.
It is hard to envision Dodson needing a redshirt year once he enrolls at his school of choice. You just don’t see very many prospects with his size/quickness/strength ratio. He has areas where he needs improvement like any other high school junior. However, he’s already at a point where we foresee him competing for playing time as soon as he hits campus.
Ohio State recruiting guru says a qualifying test score is all that stands between Dodson and an Ohio State offer, so making in-roads before that offer comes is a Big Deal for the Wolverines. In Tom's interview, Kyle said he's not going to wait around for schools to offer him.
MI OL/DT Kelby Latta was on campus over the weekend ($, info in header).
IL DT Vontrell Williams told Tom that he's always been a Michigan fan, and that the Wolverines are in his top 3, even though he doesn't hold an offer. He'll be back in town for the spring game.
OH DE Pharoah Brown liked the pace of Michigan's practice ($, info in header), and the visit moved Michigan up in his recruitment. He told Tom he'll decide after just a couple official visits in the fall.
Royce Jenkins-Stone was on campus over the weekend. Sam Webb thinks Michigan is the favorite for Royce, and says that Michigan was a hit with Royce's family. Royce is continuing to rack up bigtime offers, and told Tom about his decision timeline.
He plans on coming out with a top ten before the season, a top five mid season, and then a top three before he decides towards the end of the season. He was also nominated for the US Army All American game, so he may decide then if he gets chosen.
So, although Michigan fans were hoping he might break the seal on the 2012 class, it doesn't look likely.
MA LB Camren Williams spoke with Tom about how his Michigan visit went:
This visit was probably a 10. The visit was huge, it's definitely up there in my favorite schools. I want to make my decision in June, so I definitely want to get back up here for another visit. I really like Coach Hoke, Coach Smith, and Coach Mattison a lot. It's going to be a great place and I'm really interested in looking into Michigan more.
Williams is down to Michigan, Maryland, Penn State, North Carolina, and Wake Forest. He plans to take at least four more visits, including another to Michigan, before deciding. The Wolverines also made an impression on and excited his teammate, CB Armani Reeves ($, info in headers).
MI CB Terry Richardson likes the new staff following his visit($, info in header).
General visitor reactions to last weekend, and most seemed to love the energy.
IN DT Sheldon Day visited a couple weeks back, and gave that trip to Ann Arbor "high marks" ($, info in header).
MN OL Jonah Pirsig will visit this week.
On yesterday's recruiting roundup, Sam Webb said OH DE Chris Wormley will be in attendance this weekend, probably with his mom.
Aside from those guys, Tom has an enormous list of prospects who will be in town:
- IN WR Aloyis Gray
- IN TE Pierre Aka
- MI TE Devin Funchess
- OH TE AJ Williams
- MI TE Matt Doneth
- IN OL Sid Anvoots
- MI OL Chase DeBack
- IN OL DeAndre Herron
- MI OL DaRon Brown
- MI DE Mario Ojemudia
- OH DE Alex Pace
- MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone
- OH LB DeAndre Rollins
- OH S Allen Gant
- NY CB Wayne Morgan
- OH CB De'van Bogard
All those guys, plus some additional "maybes." Check out Tom's post for the full list. As for future weeks, CO TE Evan Baylis will visit Michigan on his spring break, and OH QB Austin Appleby will visit next weekend.
Not only is OH QB Maty Mauk (at right) closing in on national passing records (currently held by his brother, former Cincinnati QB Ben), but he's also closing in - slowly but surely - on a college choice:
Colleges have certainly paid attention. He has offers from Notre Dame, Michigan, Missouri, Illinois, Vanderbilt and Cincinnati. Those also happen to be his favorite schools at this time. "I would like to make a decision before my senior season so I have it down to those schools," Mauk said. "I have been to see all of them but Illinois and I plan on seeing this in the next month or two. I want to be in a spread offense with the coaches and people that I want to be around. I also want to get a good education."
Uh, maybe nobody told him Michigan doesn't plan to run a spread anymore? He seems to like Michigan, but his family's relationship with Brian Kelly may be hard to overcome.
I told you to beware a Bleacher Report link when I shared the info originally, so it's no surprise that CA WR Malik Gilmore does not in fact have Michigan and Notre Dame atop his list. Cal leads Notre Dame, Washington, Oregon, UCLA, and Arkansas. He does plan to use all 5 officials before deciding.
Tom broke the news last week that MI OL Ben Braden had received a Michigan offer, and it sounds like the big instate OT will not wait long to make a decision ($, info in header). Might we finally see the first Hello post of the year? Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Syracuse are the other finalists.
CA OL Erik Magnusson spoke with Tom about his recruitment... and it sounds good:
My list of top five changes about every week with new offers coming and what not, but Michigan is always in it. Right now it's Oregon, USC, Michigan, Miami, and Oklahoma.
"School X is always in my ever-changing favorites list" is usually code for "School X is my favorite, or close to it." Erik plans to take an official visit to Ann Arbor.
MD DE Brent Wilkerson has an interesting "best experience" of the recruiting process so far:
For me, it was talking to Michigan and getting that offer. They're a great academic school and they have a tremendous football tradition. I talked to the defensive line coach and the defensive coordinator, who coached with the Ravens. That was pretty awesome to talk to those guys.
Maybe that bodes well for Michigan's chances with Wilkerson and his teammate, DE Michael Moore.
OH OL Anthony Stanko has committed to Penn State. He was on the radar, but unlikely to get a Michigan offer.
TX LB Jeremiah Tshimanga committed to Oklahoma State.
Rivals has released their first set of 5-star prospects. Among those with Michigan offers are PA DE Noah Spence, MD DT Eddie Goldman, FL OL John Theus, MD WR Stefon Diggs, MO WR Dorial Green-Beckham, NC OL DJ Humphries.
Keep an eye on MI LB Lester Liston, from the same high school as Justice Hayes ($, info in header). MI DT Dakota Perry likes Michigan but isn't hearing from the Wolverines. IL DE Mikhail Dubose is hearing from Michigan. GA DE Jordan Watkins is hoping for a Michigan offer.
3/18/2011 – Michigan 2, Western Michigan 5 – 25-10-4
3/19/2011 – Michigan 4, Notre Dame 2 - 26-10-4, third place
So… hockey. I went down to the Joe on Friday, sat directly behind the goal where Michigan shot twice, and saw Western Michigan score four goals in the (a?) second as Michigan got thumped embarrassingly. They went out and won the next afternoon against Notre Dame but even that win over a solid team seemed to bode unwell—Michigan was outshot 44-23. It was only Shawn Hunwick going ape that prevented an 0-2 weekend that would have provided a sad counterpoint to the basketball team's overachieving.
Depending on the events of this weekend we'll look back at the CCHA finals as a hiccup or the omen that spelled doom, and since our bracket is a team we split with earlier in the season and almost definitely BC it's probably going to be the latter. Getting outshot 2-1 and surviving on a goal from Jeff Rohrkemper of all people does not seem like a recipe for tournament success. Right now I find it very hard to believe Michigan will get to the Frozen Four unless Hunwick is as insane as he was against ND.
Deblois runs train. Derek Deblois was extremely fortunate not to get kicked out of the Western game after taking two dumb boarding penalties. I wouldn't have complained if he got the boot on the first one, and I think he was saved on the second by the fact that he was boarding the opponent into a linesman, not the actual boards. If the linesman wasn't in the way that could have been extremely ugly. Western scored on both power plays; Deblois justly sat out the ND game.
Penalty kill debacle. WMU was 3/6 on the PP and Michigan is now 25th nationally on the PK. I have no idea why. Michigan returned the entirety of what was a top five PK last year and now they're turrible. I think Hunwick's size is a major factor, as he's just not going to block nearly as many open shots he can't see as a big guy, but last year a lot of opponent power plays were spent trying to dig the puck out of their own end.
If Michigan's going to do anything in the tourney they're going to have to stay out of the box. A penalty filled game will not be to their benefit. Maybe not so much against UNO's meh PP, but BC is sixth and will gut Michigan like a fish if they take dumb penalties.
Goodbye, fourth line? Now is the time—last week might have been the time—to consign Michigan's dodgy fourth line to the bench except in select situations. I'd throw Winnett down there and use Lynch as the defensive responsibility on the midget line of Treais-Sparks-Someone, but Red has always given Winnett more time than it seems he warrants with his play so I don't think we'll see that. I'm guessing if we do see a short bench it won't be until the second round as M tries to keep players fresh.
Atmosphere. Kudos to the Western fans for turning out en masse at the Joe. The Friday game featured student sections chanting at each other*, and while I wished things were a little more clever there was more atmosphere for College Hockey at the Joe than there had been since the Chris Kunitz-led Ferris State team played Michigan for the CCHA title in a packed building. It's too bad for the league that the two new powers are fan-deficient ND and Miami; if Ferris and Western were making the Joe on the regular the CCHA finals would be far less depressing.
*[I wish the Michigan students had responded to the "why so quiet" chant with "we are losing," and followed that with "this is why you go to Western," though I'm not sure how you chant-ify the last bit.]
Please don't go full Roy. I'm a little worried about Shawn Hunwick's tendency to get punchy when things aren't going well. He took a critical penalty earlier in the year and could have gotten one in a scrum midway through the second. When he's on he's very good; against Western it seemed like the Broncos got in his head and affected his performance.
Big Ten Section
In case you were wondering about other Big Ten teams adding hockey, Illinois says no, Nebraska says no, Iowa says no (sort of, no quote), and I'm pretty sure you don't even have to bother asking Northwestern, Indiana, or Purdue. If you're wondering about CCHA teams packing it in, they seem pretty sanguine about it:
Are the non-Big Ten teams worried about their future? Let’s see: Miami: Nope. Bowling Green: Not at all. Lake Superior State and Ferris State: Nah (Great quotes from LSSU coach Jim Roque). Western Michigan: Not really. Minnesota State Mankato: Not entirely. Notre Dame: Maybe just a tiny bit. Alabama-Huntsville: Cautiously optimistic? Northern Michigan: Not “crying” about it. Nebraska-Omaha: Not worried, just not too happy. (Pretty much everybody is saying the same things. I’d imagine (hope?) we’ll have a much better idea about a plan after the American Hockey Coaches Association meetings over the summer.)
That ND article also has quotes from Jeff Jackson about trying to get scheduling arrangements with the Big Ten teams. Michigan "has obviously become a rival" and Michigan State "is also an option." LSSU's Jim Roque points out that they're talking about one home series a year they won't draw as well for since no one turns out to see OSU, something Playing For Stuff would entirely replace. I cannot emphasize enough how awesome Playing For Stuff would be.
The Big Ten Network is committing to "at least 40" hockey games as part of the new arrangement. That's a third of the conference schedule and approximately two per week over the course of the season, which is way less than I'd like but way more than they're doing now. The 40 number suggests they won't be moving start times for TV.
Unexpectedly Long Recruiting Section
Feel free to file this under "I'll believe it when I see it," but highly touted forward Max Domi (yes that Domi) is apparently headed for the USHL and then college:
“I played junior but (Max’s mother) Leanne and I want our kid to go to college,” said Tie Domi, Max’s celebrity father. “It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but for us, it was the right decision.”
Young Domi, 15, was expected to be one of the top choices in the OHL draft, and has informed junior teams in the province to pass on him. The decision by Domi shouldn’t be considered a shot at junior hockey… The real shot in all this is that Domi is bypassing tier-two junior hockey in Ontario to play next season in the United States Hockey League, where he will finish his last year of high school.
Absolutely no one believes this is actually going to happen, but if Domi doesn't go to Kingston or one of the don't-draft-me-whoops-I'll-report spots (Kitchener, London, Windsor) then maybe it's not a front. Domi visited Michigan about a month ago, FWIW, and is supposed to be highly interested. If Domi actually goes to college and actually picks Michigan he'd be a 2012 recruit.
Insert link to rabble-rousing article about how messed up the major junior draft system is here. Also wonder why the hell USA Hockey would agree to this:
Hockey Canada and USA Hockey have an agreement that borders on the obscene when it comes to restricting the rights of young people. Fearful it will lose its best prospects to college hockey, the Canadian League has convinced Hockey Canada to prohibit any 16-year-old Canadian player, in conjunction with USA Hockey, from playing in the USHL unless they appeal to the National Appeals Committee and demonstrate "special circumstances" or move there with a parent. What makes it so obscene is the CHL opens its arms to American-born 16-year-olds and has no problem with doing it, but insists on making it a one-way street.
Canada forces their players who want to play college to play in Junior A—the iffy circuit that Burlon, Caporusso, and most other Canadian players in college toiled in—instead of the vastly higher quality USHL. I'm confused as to what their leverage is here. If USA Hockey welcomed them, what recourse would Canada have? They've already set their phasers to maximum predation.
Why is this a one-way street? I have no idea, but I emailed USA Hockey in case they do.
(HT: Western College Hockey)
BONUS random scouting report: AmericanDream is probably the most connected and reliable poster on HFBoards when it comes to exceedingly young American hockey players (tallest midget jokes apply but "reliable message board poster" is about as good as it gets when we're talking about 16 year old hockey players), and he provided a scouting report on recent Michigan commit Alex Talcott. Talcott is the only '95 commit Michigan has who isn't trying out for (or has already made) the NTDP but it's not for a lack of talent:
Kind of shocked that Alex Talcott did not get an invite as well. extremely gifted player who should go very high for this years OHL draft. The kid is a fire ball on skates, absolutely electric and physical. Some say he will go in the OHL draft's first round along with Compher (both University of Michigan star recruits).
Not sure if Talcott said he is going to the OHL so dont even bother, but if I could make a list of the top 5 forward eligible for this group it would be: Compher, Fasching, Shea, Brian Williams, and Talcott as the top 5 imo with Hayden, Guertler, and Allen right there as well.
Bold mine; those guys are current commits. I doubt that Talcott is already set on the OHL since he just committed two weeks ago, but stranger things have happened and as mentioned Michigan is already forward-heavy in the 2013 class.
California OT prospect Erik Magnuson has recently seen his recruitment take off with offers from Arizona, Miami, Michigan, Oregon, Stanford, and UCLA among others. The La Costa Canyon High offensive lineman's stature lives up to his last name standing at 6-foot-6, and 275-pounds. Here's a look at his film and what he had to say about Michigan.
TOM: For anyone that hasn't seen you play can you describe yourself and your game?
ERIK: I'm quick, athletic, big, and aggressive. I just love to compete no matter who my opponent is.
TOM: Since you're from California how interested are you in Michigan, and how much do you know about Michigan?
ERIK: I'm really interested. I've never been there, but I know the coaches from before and I love them.
TOM: You knew them from when they were at San Diego State?
ERIK: Yeah, I know them from there. I feel like Coach Funk is a great coach and really knows a lot about the offensive line. I know him the best, and talk to him a lot. Coach Hoke is just the man. He took me in when I was a sophomore and just really treated me well. He was always true with me and never fed me any BS.
TOM: Again to go back to the California thing, is distance going to be an issue for you?
ERIK: I'm not sure yet, because I've only visited west coast schools, but I don't really think so. I know my family will still come to games no matter where I go. Also, I've spent a lot of time in Canada so I know what cold weather is all about. The weather doesn't affect me at all; I prefer it actually.
TOM: Does that mean that you're going to try to get out to Michigan any time soon?
ERIK: I'm not really sure about any time soon because I'm really busy with AAU basketball and football training and camps. It's hard to find time, but I'm for sure going to use one of my official visits to Michigan.
TOM: To use an official that means you have to wait until the season starts. Are you planning on waiting until signing day to make your decision, or do you want to get it done sooner?
ERIK: I haven't decided yet if I want to wait until signing day, but I'm definitely going to wait until I'm comfortable and 100% sure. I just have to weigh out all my options and do what is best for me in the end.
TOM: With that being said, and I know it's early, but do you have a top list yet?
ERIK: My list of top five changes about every week with new offers coming and what not, but Michigan is always in it. Right now it's Oregon, USC, Michigan, Miami, and Oklahoma.
TOM: When you go to evaluate these schools to make your final decision what are you looking for?
ERIK: A winning program where I feel like I will have a good chance to get a lot of playing time. And like I said I want someone that I feel comfortable with, it's going to be a lot of how I feel.