Facepalm of the last half-hour. Trey Keenan is a Texas offensive lineman with three stars, a Michigan offer, and a slightly shaky grasp of the recent past($):
Keenan admits he likes the direction that the new staff is taking the program. “I like that they’re going back to being the old Michigan and not the team that got beat by Appalachian State,” he said.
It's a good thing I set up a facepalm hotkey. Ctrl+Alt+FFFFUUU:
Dude is hardcore. Hey, look, it's the Little Brown Jug:
Just hanging out… uh… in some guy's basement on what appears to be a pool table. This would be the point at which we round up a posse and hunt down the varmit who stole our danged jug, but that would be pointless violence since some dude made a Brown Jug replica (and apparently that box) because he is hardcore. Auburn fans should try this: get some hardcore guy to make a replica of Toomer's Corner. Problem solved.
Come on, baby. Red apparently doesn't think anyone's jetting in the offseason:
Michigan coach Red Berenson said Monday he finished his postseason individual meetings with players and doesn't expect anyone to leave early for the pro ranks. The Wolverines, who advanced to the national title game, return two outstanding defensemen in junior Brandon Burlon and freshman Jon Merrill.
No quotes and frankly the Detroit News isn't an outlet that spends a lot of time on hockey, but… woo? It wouldn't be too outlandish: Merrill and Burlon are the only serious departure threats and both are Devils draftees. The Devils have a track record of leaving kids in college and have a number of D prospects a bit further along the development path than their guys at Michigan.
While it's kind of a negative that I can't think of a Michigan forward who would even think of an NHL departure at least we won't get blindsided, except of course we will.
Attention Shawn Kemp. You take any random son of an NBA star, have him commit to Michigan, and bam he's awesome:
I did not recognize Glenn “Trey” Robinson when compared to the skinny kid I watched last summer. Robinson was maybe 175 pounds soaking wet then.
Now he has a body that makes you envision a flying combo forward finishing strong on the offensive end with lock down ability defensively. Robinson did just that Friday night against Upstate. He finished at the rim, often violently, through contact.
That's the third or fourth early rave GRIII has picked up in the month or so AAU ball has been going on. In addition NBE lists Robinson at 6'8"(!), 205. Other first-hand reports like those of UMHoops think that's generous, but he's clearly bigger than he was when he committed.
Stats are bad (this time). I hate to disagree with a guy who goes back and checks out actual game film instead of talking about football players playing football, but KC Joyner has an ESPN Insider article that claims Michigan is going to have an "elite passing game"($) this year because of some shiny Denard stats that I think are silly.
Joyner splits Denard's attempts* into buckets by yardage: 11.9 YPA on throws of 11-19 yards, 16.4 YPA on throws from 20-29 yards, and 15.4 YPA on throws of more than 30 yards. These compare favorably to some guy you may have heard of:
A review of 11 of Ryan Mallett's games against SEC and bowl-level competition over the past two seasons found that the possible future first-round draft pick (and one of college football's top passers) posted an 8.2 total YPA, an 11.6 vertical YPA and a 14.6 stretch vertical YPA.
Robinson's 10 games include his three worst contests from last season with regard to passer rating (Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame) and exclude his two of his three best passer rating contests (Massachusetts and Bowling Green), yet he was still able to top Mallett in all three categories.
There are a number of problems with this analysis. One: it does not account for the frequency of throws. Mallett's Hogs passed 53% percent of the time; Michigan threw on 40% of snaps. Two: Denard's throws are heavily slanted towards short stuff. The "stretch vertical" number cited by Joyner consists of just 31 attempts, which is both a sample size problem and another equilibrium issue. Three:
A large number of Denard's long touchdowns were stupidly easy because of the system that ran so much and so effectively, often with Robinson himself. You can't point to 11 completions featuring safeties going "WHAT DO I DO /explodes" and extrapolate anything approximating Mallett's production. The opportunities above simply will not exist in an under-center WCO, leaving Denard to try to do this:
I love Denard like he is a combination of my own son and Olivia Wilde but I don't think he's making throws like that. Maybe "simply will not exist" is a bit much, but the amount of pressure Denard put on opposing safeties last year—and the interceptions he threw even when given reasonable windows—prevents you from divorcing his production from his system.
I'm not saying he won't be a better QB than he was last year. I'm saying the smart bet is on a significant reduction in passer efficiency if he's operating a WCO.
*[Attempts against Michigan's Big Ten schedule, ND, and UConn. Unclear why the bowl was left out. Probably because KC Joyner doesn't like watching snuff films.]
Get this man a cereal commercial. Don't tell that to Denard, though, who says "I really like this offesne and what we're doing" in a brief TSN interview. Also:
Q: Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison says he talks a lot of trash to you. What’s going on there?
Robinson: We have that love/hate relationship. I love competing against him. Every day at practice, he says something to make you want to compete.
Q: What does he say?
Robinson: He says, ‘You can’t throw. Can’t throw.’ I know he’s teasing. I make a throw, and I’ll say something to him. Or I’ll just look over and smile at him.
Thank God for Denard—whenever you're feeling ambivalent about your connection to the program because of the Braylon Edwardses of the world just think about Denard.
Um… thanks? Believe it or not, this is Jack Nicklaus trying to say something nice about Ohio State:
"I don't know what really happened, but I'll promise you that Tressel wasn't the only one that knew what happened," Nicklaus told The Plain Dealer.
If he's right pieces of the Ohio State athletic department will be slowly descending from the troposphere for decades. (Not that he's anything other than a very famous message board poster in this department.)
Etc.: Ace relates the story of his first game at Michigan Stadium. I'd play but I can't remember which game it was because I was small. The Hero Of Tiananmen Square (AKA John Pollack, king of futile Big House preservation attempts) puts out an awful book on puns featuring many awful puns. As per usual, he misses the point entirely. You should have gone to Vermont, but at least you didn't go to Iowa State. TTB outlines the 4-3 under in parts: line, linebackers, and secondary. Forward Thinking surveys the QB landscape in the aftermath of Zeke Pike's Auburn commitment. If you didn't get enough carpet-bombing of former players who have fallen back in love with Michigan football, Mets Maize is over Avignon right now.
Fantastically bizarre and apropos Google image search for "Cullen Christian."
So… yeah. I learned my lesson from the Great McGuffie Saga and won't say this is 100% happening because people change their minds, but a couple solid sources indicate Cullen Christian is asking for his release today and plans to transfer.
That would obviously be bad. We've got massive collages that no longer have room for all the guys Michigan has lost prematurely in the secondary over the last few years that are already out of date since Ray Vinopal decided to peace out earlier in spring. Christian, a consensus top 100 guy, was the highest-rated corner on the roster after Justin Turner's departure*. Despite that he struggled immensely when forced onto the field last year, was obviously behind both of his classmates, and was supposedly running third team in spring despite the absences of Troy Woolfolk and JT Floyd. So the impact on this year's team wouldn't be great.
However, even if he seemed well on his way to Bolivian he could have moved to safety or something. At this point walk-ons leaving the secondary make me cringe—losing the sole touted corner on the team is not so good.
Again, disclaimers about people changing their minds or whatnot but this is so totally happening (probably). Ten million dollars the eventual destination is Pitt, right?
DEFINITELY NOT BONUS: I don't have a second source on this one so file this under strong rumor, but DJ Williamson is also supposed to be on the way out. Williamson was a track star who also played football and I'm not sure anyone had super-high hopes for him (he was a two star on one site) but there was always the off chance he'd be Mario Manningham or something. His departure would highlight how weird dumping Devin Lucien was.
*[Boy, does our imaginary secondary kick ass!]
UPDATE: Christian's transfer is official($).
The state of California is loaded with offensive linemen in the 2012 class and tackle Max Tuerk is among the best. The 6-foot-6, 281-pound lineman already has offers from Michigan, Arizona, Oregon, UCLA, and Washington to name a few. Here's a look at Tuerk's film and where he's at in the process.
TOM: I know you have an offer from Michigan, but do you think any other schools are close to offering?
MAX: I hope so. I'm not sure if they're actually going to offer me or not, but I have been talking to Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Stanford came by my school last week.
TOM: You already have a good list now, have you thought about narrowing everything down any time soon?
MAX: I haven't thought about it yet because a lot of new offers are still coming in. When it starts to die down I will start to narrow it down.
TOM: Sounds like a good plan. Since you're from California do you know much about Michigan?
MAX: Of course. I know Michigan has a great football tradition and they produce a lot of great linemen. I really like Coach Funk and Ferrigno, and we're developing a solid relationship.
TOM: To stay on that note, since you're from California do you think distance will factor into all this?
MAX: I don't think at all. I'm actually leaning towards getting out of California.
TOM: You said you're building a relationship with the coaches. What do you guys talk about and what have they told you about Michigan?
MAX: We talk every once in awhile and they've told me that Michigan not only has a great football team but it's a great school as well. Hopefully I can check it out soon.
TOM: Did these coaches recruit you while they were at San Diego State at all?
MAX: No, but SDSU is recruiting me now.
TOM: Is Michigan a school that you're going to try to visit?
MAX: Yes, this summer I am definitely going to try to get out there.
TOM: When you take visits to these schools and try to analyze them what are you going to be looking for?
MAX: A good fit with academics, the football program, and my overall comfort level with the people I am going to spend my college career with.
TOM: For anyone that hasn't gotten to see you play, how would you describe yourself?
MAX: I play as hard as I can every play. My best attributes would probably be my speed and aggressiveness.
TOM: Do you have any idea of how you want your recruitment to play out?
MAX: It's still up in the air for me but I think I am going to narrow it down to three to five choices in the summer, so it's not so overwhelming during the season. I plan to take official visits to those top schools.
A guest post from Craig Ross, who took in the coaches' clinic this year, as he does most years. If you're not sure what "technique" means or the basics of cover X defenses the UFR FAQ should be of some assistance.
Greg is not impressed, GERG
On a personal level Mattison is charismatic and impressive. I can’t imagine that he won’t be a absolutely great recruiter. His enthusiasm is manifest. He isn’t a defensive personality (I don’t mean football defense) in the slightest. Media guys kept asking him about his salary (incredibly rude, I thought) and he just said he didn’t want to talk about. Not mean. Not tired. Not nasty. Just matter of fact. But after the second “no,” these reporters got it.
Unlike GERG he has patience with questions, especially football questions. GERG wanted little to do with the press and had no patience with anything resembling a football question. [I asked whether he would be playing “one or two gap” a couple of years ago. He looked at me like I was crazy (maybe I am/was, probably the question was idiotic) but he responded (and repeated himself) with “Let’s just say by the end of the season you’ll be happy with our defense.” Uh, well, not exactly.
I don’t want to beat on GR. The media can be pretty awful and he had a right to some disinclination to talk about anything other than superficial sound bites. But even in coaching clinics he seemed loathe to talk about defensive structure, which he perceived as overrated (maybe he is right). His obsession was technique, notably tackling technique—stunning given what our defense did the last two years. But Mattison is a whole different deal. He gives smart questions their due. He gives sloppy questions more thought than they probably deserve. And, yeah, he isn’t above the ordinary sound bite to the ordinary sorta-non-question.
The Ravens were a 3-4 team until Mattison took over the defense. In 2009 he changed the Raven to a 4-3 look and there is every reason to believe he will attempt to mimic the success he had in Baltimore. Mattison’s overall philosophies are
- stop the run,
- take away the offense’s best receiver (I assume this means the D may tend to roll a bit to the best WR’s side of the field), and
- keep the defensive formations stable but mix pressures and coverages.
Mattison will run a 4-3 with some nickel as a primary defense*. He was adamant about four things.
- Martin (or any NT) will never play right over the center, zero tech, that he will be shaded into the A gap, even if slightly**.
- He always wants four guys down. Always. He said “If I have to limp in there we are playing 4 guys on the line.” (A couple of times in the spring game it looked like we had three guys down. Reviewed this. On play one he had Big WC at NT and Mike Martin standing up on the edge. Denard breaks the play for 55 yards. Of course, we did have 4 DL in the game so he didn’t violate his abstract principle. Also, as noted, against spread looks he went with three DL. [Ed: my impression was that these sorts of games were reserved for passing downs, when run soundness goes out the window and you're just trying to hassle the QB.])
- GM prefers (strongly) that the defense generally have the same look. He stated that his defense will not “stem” into different looks. That said, he wants the defense to have variations out of the singular defensive formation.
- As every coach on the planet says and means, he wants the D to pressure the QB.
Mattison stresses that he has been left with attentive kids. He talks about their seriousness, that they have behaved and been supportive of each other. Unlike Borges, who spent a lot of time looking at last year’s offense, Mattison claims he did not watch “one minute” of last year’s tape. (I wish I hadn’t.) There are two reasons for this. First, he didn’t want to bias his impressions of the players. He preferred that he and his staff make their own valuations, as opposed to those that accrued in a different system. Second, he was going to run a different system anyway. Looking to last year’s model wasn’t going to provide any information likely to have value.
This is a treacherous judgment—my understanding of the lingo may hamstring my perceptions—but it looks to me like Mattison will to use a 4-3 under as his base defense. The NT will be shaded into the A gap toward the TE, the defensive end in 5 technique but slightly shaded to the outside, and the SAM lining up near the LOS outside of the tight end, assuming there is a TE on the field. On the weak side the tackle will be in 3-tech and the rush end will shaded slightly outside of the offensive tackle***. Basically this:
I think Michigan will look like this a lot but the black “elephant”—the rush end for UM [ed: around here we called it Deathbacker when Greg Robinson was trying to use that guy as in coverage more]—might be a bit closer to the tackle. Mattison’s drawing also had the Mike (Middle LB) and Will (Weakside LB) slightly more shaded to the TE. In the diagram above the Mike has the strongside B gap and Will the weakside A gap. The Will just has to make sure his gap isn’t threatened and then can flow to the ball.
Coverage: The field (wide side) corner and safety will often play “quarters,” while the other safety will be responsible for half the field. [ed: This is also known as quarter-quarter-halves. It's a cover three that splits the field unevenly. Hit up this Smart Football post for more detail—look for the first diagram with color in it.] If there is a receiver to the boundary (short side) that corner will squat, but if there is no WR he may have a “fire” read, rushing the passer or having weakside run support.
A couple variants: A primary variation of this will be the DL all slanting to the weak side of the formation, the Mike and Will dropping into hook and curl coverage, with the corners and weakside safety splitting the field into thirds and the strong side safety having responsibility in the flat. Note that this comes out of the same 4-3 under look. I assume, on this choice, the Sam (Strongside LB) has edge integrity and the Mike and strong safety have primary run support to the play side.
Mattison didn’t mention the 4-3 over but they definitely played a bit of that in the SG. In that the NT shifts to a shade into the weakside A gap and the linebackers are more balanced. I have to look back at the tape some---pretty sure they played a bit of it, at least late in the SG.
It also looks like they will play some “Bear” defense, bringing the Will down into the gap between the End and the SAM. In such instances he said they will always be in man defense, they won’t try to zone. Mattison also stressed that “setting an edge” to the defense is always important and on their base defense that’s up to the Sam on the field side. He said this was “a huge deal.”
In terms of personnel note that Troy Woolfolk and JT Floyd were out in the spring, as was Kenny Demens. In a surprise Marrell Evans started with the ones (I didn’t know he was on the team until 10 days ago) in the Spring Game. Herron was there, too. Herron was shucked by Cox on his long run. I thought Evans played pretty well.
Tony Anderson and Avery both played pretty well at corner (or was this just the weakness in our passing game?) so with Floyd and Woolfolk healthy in the fall, there should be a lot of competition there.
In a huge surprise to me, I saw some really good play from Greg Brown—at corner—in the last Saturday scrimmage [ed: ie, the Saturday before the spring game]. This was mentioned by the coaches, so it is not a secret or my insanity. Brown did give up the TD near the end of the spring game but he was in great position and just misplayed the ball. Right now Carvin and Kovacs are running with the ones at safety, but Marvin Robinson is going to be a monster if he can learn the D. Parents of a player mentioned this to me, that Marvin had the chance to be awesome, once he steps up his understanding of the playbook. Josh Furman made a couple of plays but I didn’t focus on him so I can’t evaluate his play yet. Marvin made numerous big plays in the last weekend scrimmage.
The DL looks set with Van Bergen at DE, Roh at rush end, Big Will at the three tech and Martin at NT. However, Martin was moved around a bit in the SG so I have to look at the tape of that. Depth is thin, but I saw some good play from Black (inconsistent, but flashes), Wilkins (big plays in the SG) and the other Will (Heininger) who has been moved inside to NT.
The LBs were Jones (Will) and Cam Gordon (Sam) and I thought they did OK. Jake Ryan just stood out on the last scrimmage (with the 2s)—he made play after play—and he did the same thing in the SG. He was a way under the radar recruit but he really looks like he will be a player.
This was the worst defense in the history of the galaxy (maybe not universe, there may be a planet where some team was worse) last year so I am surprised by what I saw this spring. It was a more ordinary spring--- the UM defense making the offense struggle to get any run game going (except for Denard), though maybe two big plays were broken by the RBs. I predicted before the SG (based on the prior week’s scrimmage) that this would be an average or above average defense. I still think that. Something in the back of my head thinks it might even be an “almost good” defense but I suspect this is delusional. Now the coaches seem nervous. Mattison was unhappy after the SG but they sure seem ahead of anything I have seen for a few years.
*[Editor's note: given how much we saw Thomas Gordon in the spring game I'm guessing the nickel will be the base defense against spread looks.]
**[During the spring game it seemed like were pretty close to a zero technique at times, something he seemed to disavow. From the endzone, where I sat, there always seemed some shade. But on the Tivo of the game (from the side) of course, it seemed like we had a NT in zero tech every now and then. I reviewed it. Seems like this was when the offense was in a spread, when GM went completely odd with a 3 man front—as George Halas suggested against the single wing.]
***[Mattison is concerned that too many rush ends tend to get too wide as they attempt to speed rush the tackle. He thinks this is too easy a mark for an offensive tackle unless the end is a blur. He wants him closer to the tackle. He especially wants Craig Roh to not get too wide, allowing him to probe in either direction.]
So Brady Hoke vowed to Adam Rittenberg he'd never worn red as as a head coach despite the fact both of his jobs were at schools that kinda sorta prioritized said color. This is hard to believe, so I paged through Google Images until porn started coming up on a search for "Brady Hoke ball state"—the definitive signal your search has ended—and A-HA:
Yeah… that's the best I could do. Red tie at an introductory press conference. There is also this:
In all other pictures Rittenberg's Johnny Cash reference is dead on. Getty has nothing. Hoke really did go through his Ball State career never putting on the school's primary color as anything more than an embarrassing accent. I should probably find that juvenile or something but it pokes my fan button. This is a man who gets it. What is it? If you don't know, you don't get it. Sucks to be you, buddy.*
*[Strong possibility "it" is "black is slimming." Also, the last four sentences are the plot of Atlas Shrugged.]
The 2012 offer board lives here.
Kaleb Ringer and Royce Jenkins-Stone Go Blue
Michigan commitments come in pairs this year, as two offensive linemen committed within a day of each other several weeks ago, and Michigan picked up a Friday-Saturday linebacker combo this week.
OH LB Kaleb Ringer was the first, dropping on Friday. Commitment video from the local ABC affiliate. Dayton Daily News reporter who ran with the commitment early runs a non-apology apology on the DDN website. I'll take the word of the kid who's upset about it over the reporter trying to cover his own ass.
Up next was MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone, who dropped for the Wolverines on Saturday following his visit to the Michigan spring game. The consensus is that he's a great athlete, but fundamentally raw - like many prospects coming out of Detroit's public schools.
So Long, Zeke Pike?
KY QB Zeke Pike is set to announce his college decision at 2:45 today, and although he was very high on Michigan a couple weeks ago, the consensus across the internet seems to be that he'll pick Auburn.
Michigan has plenty of irons in the QB fire - including a potential offeree in OH QB Austin Appleby in the past few days - so missing out on Pike will be a shame, but not a crushing loss (and if they don't land an elite QB in 2012, there's always in-state phenom Shane Morris for next year).
NY DT Jarron Jones is a soft commit to Penn State.
MD CB Ronald Darby, one of the top athletes in this class, has committed to Notre Dame.
A Little Closer...
MI TE/Ath Ron Thompson (looking disturbingly similar to a svelte Will Campbell at right) has transferred from East Detroit High School to to Southfield High School for his senior season. Most think that Thompson will become a Michigan commit in the near future, which could help the Wolverines land his new teammate, MI CB LEVITICUS PAYNE.
A late March junior day visit to Michigan almost ended Thompson’s recruitment. He grew up following the Wolverines and has visited their campus several times in recent months. He toyed with the idea of committing to Michigan over the last couple weeks, but has decided to hold off and continue weighing his options.
Ron still sounds pretty high on Michigan, but his timeline for a decision has been extended.
CO TE Evan Baylis will be making a decision soon. Although he visited Michigan, Tom thinks he probably won't select the Wolverines. So long as Brady Hoke and co. don't fall out of favor with Thompson, this wouldn't be a huge loss.
OH LB Joe Bolden visited last week, and let Tom know how it went. The upshot:
My uncle [also his high school coach] wasn't at school today, but we'll probably sit down in the next couple days. I really don't have a timeline, it could happen tomorrow or it could happen in February. I'm not sure yet.
Michigan is in strong position but with two new linebacker commits, who knows what will happen.
FL S Deon Bush will narrow his list soon.
Michigan is still in the top 5 for FL QB Bennie Coney. Florida State, Notre Dame, and Cincinnati "are not concerned about" his past transgressions, possibly the least-flattering way to phrase that point (to all parties) and are his top three.
PA RB Greg Garmon is tougher than you. He beat cancer:
"You know, with surgeries and chemo(therapy) and radiation treatments, it was hard," Garmon said. "The doctors told me we had to play it by ear. It was crazy. Me being the football maniac that I am, even with stuff still in my chest I'd sneak off and play football. My mom didn't know until I got caught."
It's a pretty cool story, so I encourage you to click through.
IL OL Jordan Diamond had a solid visit to Ann Arbor ($, info in header). Scout's header implies that Michigan is atop his list. He told Tom that he plans to take all 5 official visits during the season before coming to a final decision. His teammate, QB Robert Gregory, might not be as much a Michigan target with the switch to a new offense, but he can throw it, too. He could be a late offer if other QBs fall by the wayside.
OH OL Kyle Dodson was the subject of Sam Webb's Detroit News recruiting column last week. The four-star tackle talked to Webb about his game:
"I'm real, real aggressive and competitive. You will see me out there going crazy. I think (opponents) should be scared because I'm very aggressive. I'm angry. If you just look at me wrong on the field, I'm going to scream at you and you're going to get scared."
From a football perspective, Scout's Allen Trieu talks specifics:
"Dodson stands out because of his ability to move, pull and get into the second level at his size," said Allen Trieu, Scout.com's Midwest regional manager. "He's very naturally strong and I like how he finishes his blocks. He's very raw, but he does play at a school that spreads it out, so he has experience in pass protection as well as the running game. His upside is tremendous."
Dodson says distance from home won't be a factor in his decision, and he'll visit both Michigan and Michigan State once more in the coming months. He plans to decide on a school before his senior season of high school.
PA OL Chris Muller holds a Michigan offer, and has interest from a number of other schools, including LSU and Ohio State.
CA OL Max Tuerk will visit Michigan this summer. He has no timeframe to narrow his college choices, but is leaning toward attending school outside of California.
OH DE Chris Wormley is Bucknuts' #1 prospect in the state.
PA DE Noah Spence skipped Penn State's spring game because it rained on Saturday:
Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt's Noah Spence, one of the top-rated defensive ends in the country, was scheduled to make the trip with teammate Brock Dean but decided to stay at home because of the rain, BlueWhite Illustrated reported on its website. Spence has already made several unofficial visits to Penn State and is believed to have the Nittany Lions near if not at the top of his list of prospective colleges. He is the only pure defensive end the Lions are recruiting in this class.
He still hasn't had a chance to visit Ann Arbor.
The first edition of 2012 Big Ten Recruiting Class Rankings are here.