This weekly update is brought to you late by CMU's homecoming. Here's a look at a few recruits that I caught up with after the Iowa visit weekend. I'll pass along more info as I start to catch up.
5'10", 185 lbs.
Fort Myers, Florida
Dallas has dreadlocks, so he's ok by me. He's also very interested in Michigan, so much so that this past visit vaulted the Wolverines into the top spot. I was under the assumption that Michigan had been leading anyway, but this visit may have pushed it over the top for him. Every time he comes up to Ann Arbor he seems to be more and more comfortable with the surroundings and coaches.
Crawford was on the trip with highly touted teammate WR Sammy Watkins. Watkins has always listed Miami as one of his top schools, and often throws in Michigan and Clemson. There seems to be some problems up at Miami now, rumors that freshman safety Latwan Anderson is going to transfer along with what maybe two or three more young players. Miami also recently lost 2011 commit WR Eli Rogers, and while this isn't confirmed I've heard that they have some work to do to keep 2011 QB commit Teddy Bridgewater.
Just something to keep an eye on. If Miami continues to play poorly and starts to lose players and commitments, it may help Michigan's case. It also helps that his teammate is in his ear about joining him. They will both be back up for official visits around December. I'm more and more optimistic about Watkins as the time passes. Two unofficial visits to Michigan signal major interest.
6'4", 255 lbs.
Wormley is an important piece to the 2012 class on the defensive side of the ball. Michigan fans have been anxious about defensive recruiting, but the 2012 class could restock Michigan's depth chart in a big way. Early on I had reported that Ohio State was in the lead because of the attention he was getting from them, but that may have changed.
The game was good, besides the loss. Michigan has been moving up, they're up there right now. They just offered me too.
He likes to keep things close to the vest, but the word on the street now is that Michigan is the team to beat, and it may be pretty hard to beat them. [Ed.: The generally plugged Buckeye Planet mods are saying it's likely M, FWIW.]
Michigan has offered Wormley, as he said, which is a step in the right direction. He said that it feels good to have the offer, but he's probably not going to be making any decisions any time soon. Wormley will be one of the best players out of Ohio, and should be in the 4-5 star range when the rankings come out for 2012.
6'2", 213 lbs.
Lake Nona, Florida
Michigan's quarterback commit was in Ann Arbor for his first game, and really enjoyed seeing the atmosphere. Sousa has only been playing football for a few years, so hasn't been too sure how he stacks up, or how well he's prepared for the next level. His coach told me that meeting Michigan's quarterbacks gave him a better glimpse of his potential:
The game experience was great, and Kevin enjoyed the excitement and everything. Sousa finally realized how gifted he is physically after meeting each quarterback and seeing their performance in the weight room. I just hope they show him the interest they should because he's a steal.
I've mentioned the last bit before, but it seems like there may be a lack of communication going on. I'm not going to speculate on the reasoning behind that, for obvious reasons. We'll see how it plays out.
- It looks like the Illinois game will now be the date for the big Dr. Phillips visit. So far commit Demetrius Hart, S Roderick Ryles, WR Chris Gallon, and QB Nick Patti are scheduled to be there. If Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix shows up, then his recruitment might get interesting.
- DT Kevin McReynolds (6'2", 280 lbs, 4 Star) is now interested in Michigan. He spoke with the coaches last week, and said he would like to make it up for a visit. Here's his junior film, and a video of how he currently trains. Michigan coaches will be at his school on Friday, so it sounds like they're turning up the heat on Kevin.
- [Ed.: A newspaper article indicates CB Greg Brown was scheduled to be at Syracuse this weekend. That might be an indication the two parties are looking to go separate ways.]
UFR note: The first torrent didn't go up until yesterday afternoon, so I haven't embarked on my usual journey of discovery yet. The UFRs will be a day late. So in lieu of figuring out the tao of Demens I took a look at a couple games featuring teams in this critical upcoming stretch…
Purdue (vs Toledo)
I picked the game they lost by 11 to a MAC team and haven't seen them beat Northwestern yet. This is probably the worst game they'll play all year. Even so…
Jesus. Jesus, they're bad.
QB. Marve went out like EMU's quarterback did last year—untouched. He was facing a totally unblocked DT up the middle, FWIW.
Rob Henry, the guy Michigan will face, is very erratic. Many of his throws were wildly off target and his interception was completely doomed. He stared at a guy on a hitch route, decided not to throw it, kept staring at him, and then finally let it rip. A linebacker met the receiver and took it away.
Henry's main assets are his legs. He's a decisive upfield runner with good speed. This will be the closest Michigan gets to playing Denard Robinson this year—not very close at all. (Pryor is an entirely different animal, a tank more concerned with its paint job than anything else.)
Skill position melange. With Smith and Bolden out they're just guys. Dierking is obviously a bottom-three tailback in the Big Ten and their receivers didn't do anything of note. Cortez Smith dropped a couple balls.
Offensive line. Terrible. Toledo stoned Purdue short yardage thanks to their DT getting underneath the 6'6" Boiler center and discarding him. When Purdue went to stretch plays the Toledo DTs always got playside of their guys and forced the play back inside. Also, Boiler OL could not find a second level block for the world. When there were creases in the line most of the time Toledo linebackers would run right by ponderous OL and tackle after a few yards.
A couple exceptions came on runs by WRs right up the gut on the inside zone where doubled Toledo DTs got blown way off the ball. I have no idea how Purdue managed 220 yards on the ground; they had trouble with Henry on the outside.
In pass protection things were a little better but on Purdue's final drive Toledo ripped into the backfield and sacked Henry on consecutive plays. Those were just straight-up four-man rushes on which Toledo DTs and DEs smoked Boiler OL.
DL. Ryan Kerrigan is really good. I've seen him be really good against real teams, too—this is just confirmation. Purdue doesn't have much else on the line.
LB. Lost. Toledo is a passing spread with some read-option elements, and their quarterback found guys shockingly open on simple drag routes all day. Purdue had a knack for vacating the area directly in front of the quarterback's face. Junior linebacker Joe Holland stood out as not very good, as it seemed like every attempted tackle from him was run through. His coverage was dismal, too.
Toledo got a long touchdown on a read option keeper when the contain guy didn't contain and the safety jumped the handoff.
Secondary. As mentioned, a deep safety went off schedule and turned a twenty-yard gain into a 58-yard touchdown on a simple option keeper. I didn't look too closely at this group but Toledo was finding wide open guys 15, 20 yards downfield with consistency.
Overall worry level: I'll withhold final judgment until I see a couple more games but Michigan should shred this team; Henry won't be able to throw enough to keep up unless he gets radically better. FWIW, Toledo ran the midline a few times with good success. Maybe this is where Hope got the idea.
Penn State (vs Illinois)
QB. Bolden rolled out for one eighty-yard touchdown pass to Derek Moye; he completed 7 of his other 20 attempts for 62 yards. Illinois's defense didn't give him anything easy and he responded with hopeless checkdowns and lots of inaccurate balls. Penn State's completely abandoned running the quarterback as long as Bolden's in the game, by the way. Strange since he's plenty fast enough to do some damage in space.
RB. Royster is Royster, but he's got problems in front of him. He did seem to lack some of his old Hart-like spark, FWIW. Penn State boards are flying with rumors about him having issues.
WR. PSU's got two enormous WRs that aren't going to beat you deep much. Bolden must not be able to throw a fade to save his life, though, because not once did Penn State try to use the fact that they're rolling out two 6'5" guys on the outside to their advantage. Slot guy Devon Smith is a quick little YAC guy who I can see doing some damage against an erratic Michigan LB corps.
OL. It's shocking that a stable program like Penn State can have such a pasted-together line. I know they lost their starting RT for the year but the four guys on the line who weren't pressed into the lineup because of injury weren't much better. An early fourth and one:
That's four OL on three DL getting no push. Martez Wilson, the MLB, will shoot into a gap unblocked and tackle at the LOS. Penn State tailbacks had 64 yards on 20 carries and weren't obviously leaving a bunch of yards on the field.
DL. While other bits of the Penn State defense may be suffering, the defensive tackles are up to the usual standard. Devon Still and Ollie Ogbu were in the backfield a lot, and if they'd gotten anything from the linebackers they may have made it a game. Tough to judge the defensive ends. They were so injury-wracked that a 309 pound true freshman DT played a big chunk of the game outside. I'm not sure how close to the starting lineup #44 Kevion Latham will be against Michigan but I was not impressed with him.
LB. MLB Chris Colasanti is not up to the usual standard. He's slow mentally and physically and while he'd be an upgrade at M he's just a guy. PSU fans are pushing for hyped recruit Khairi Fortt to play more but he's got the same freshman issues big chunks of Michigan's defense does. When he was in there he was vulnerable to cluelessness against run and pass. Same goes for Mike Yancich, who abandoned a flat zone on one of Illinois's long pass plays.
Underneath zone coverage was atrocious:
That second and fifteen drag went for 18 yards, Scheelhaase's second longest completion of the day. That's starting linebacker Nathan Stupar pulling the Courtney Avery by turning zone coverage into man there; Sukay could not get an angle on the guy before the sticks.
Here's the exact same thing on another 18 yard pass that would be the first Illinois touchdown:
That's a result of DE Pete Massaro and Fortt dropping into the same zone. Clueless youth, but maybe not clueless youth that's going to play against Michigan.
Secondary. Cornerbacks had the day off against Illinois. Safeties were hard to tell because Nick Sukay tore a pectoral muscle and won't be playing against Michigan; by the time he went out Illinois was cruising and content to run. Drew Astorino didn't stand out good or bad.
Overall worry level: This may not be a representative sample of what Michigan sees from Penn State on defense. The Nittany Lions were down to Talbott-equivalents all over the field and their errors opened up large chunks of Illinois yardage. Still, the complete ineptness of the offense is stunning—their line cannot block anyone. If Michigan plays bend but don't break against Penn State it should work because eventually Bolden's going to get stuck in long yardage and he's uncomfortable trying to fit throws in windows. Meanwhile, the defense is obviously a step down from previous editions. How much of one depends on their health level going into the game.
Illinois (vs Penn State)
Illinois is a triple option team. They run it from the pistol…
… but their offense is 60% old-school Nebraska with a modern twist:
Scheelhaase is about Henry's equivalent on the ground, maybe a bit faster.
QB. Scheelhaase's passing ability is primitive. He managed to go 15 of 19 for 151 yards against Penn State but save a swing pass to Leshoure that Yancich busted that went for 32 his long on the day was 18 yards. Literally all routes were little hitches or drags. I'm not even sure if Scheelhaase looks deep, ever. This post (on the far right) on the earlier drag route is about to be a billion yards open:
Sukay is already heading towards the TE who Stupar is getting out of position on.
Scheelhaase's three longest completions were three-yard passes taken for lots of yards after the catch. His other completions averaged 6.9 yards. The book is clear: sit in zones and tackle.
RB. Leshoure is Yet Another Big Ten Back I'd Kill For. He's got a good size-speed combination. He drags piles and hits the holes hard. He doesn't have much shimmy, though—think a poor man's Edwin Baker. Leshoure backup Jason Ford is also pretty good.
WR. AJ Jenkins is the main target in the passing game. His ability to pick up YAC is impressive, Penn State had a tendency to leave crossing routes in the middle of the field shockingly open. Obviously.
OL. Not sure about the OL, which seemed to allow a lot of penetration from the DTs but since Illinois was running at the DEs all day it didn't matter. The Illinois passing game is all short stuff so Penn State did not have time to get pressure.
Defense. Defensively, also hard to tell since Penn State is decimated. Martez Wilson finally has acquired a clue to go with his intimidating physical ability; he came on a blitz designed to blow up play action and showed up in Bolden's chest frighteningly quickly. On the line, Clay Nurse and Corey Liuget are legit playmakers.
Bolden's inaccuracy has something to do with the Illinois secondary. You can never tell about these things for sure but I think a reason he threw a lot of inaccurate passes were guys getting in the way of short routes and knocking off the timing—Bolden doesn't have the experience to adjust yet. Another set were deeper throws on which Bolden's first read was covered. His instinct seems to be "let's see if I can fit this in a tiny window and my receiver can make a spectacular catch."
Dreads. Illinois has fewer players with dreads but they make up for it by having the dreads guys have crazy Marley dreads that end up halfway down the kid's back.
Overall worry level: The Illinois offense moves the ball based on your mistakes only, which means Michigan will have a frustrating day but maybe not one that sees Illinois put up 30 points. Third and long will mean lots of guys in zone and checkdowns Michigan will have to tackle; getting them there will mean implanting Kovacs's brain into the rest of the D.
Defensively, I'm more alarmed by what the Illinois defense did to the MSU run game than anything that transpired here. There is no comparison between the Penn State OL and the Michigan OL. They're clearly good, though, and this should be the toughest game in the upcoming stretch.
For live updates of the games I'm attending, follow me on Twitter @varsityblue. If you can help out finding articles on any of the commits, @reply me on Twitter or e-mail me, and I'll try to include your contribution.
FL QB Kevin Sousa
Before getting into the latest, enjoy video from Sousa's week 5 and 6 games:
Note that even when he's completing passes or making good runs, he's under constant pressure from the opposing defense (and take a look at the number of drops, as well). I wouldn't worry too much about his poor high school stats, especially since he'll have plenty of time in the system before he sees the field.
Last week: Lake Nona beat(!) Celebration 34-14. I couldn't find a game article, so
I'll update with Kevin's stats after Tom talks to his coach. UPDATED.
|Kevin Sousa 2010|
|Oak Ridge||L 0-48||6||13||46.15||34||2.62||0||1||7||31||4.43||0|
|Lake Wales||L 6-42||14||21||66.67||199||9.48||0||1||13||64||4.92||1|
This week: Lake Nona visits Tenoroc on Friday at 7:30.
FL RB Demetrius Hart
|Demetrius Hart 2010|
|Cypress Creek||W 52-0||14||168||4||12.00||1||7||0||7.00||3||24||0||8.00|
This week: Dr. Phillips hosts Oak Ridge on Friday at 7:30.
MI WR Shawn Conway
Last Week: Seaholm loses to Ferndale 21-28. I was there, but I'm having a fight with Youtube, so I can't embed the video until I get it working. I'll update it in the space below when it's available.
Conway was still hampered by his ankle injury, limping between plays. Offensively, he was mostly used as a decoy, either on fly sweeps or combo routes. He caught the ball just once for 14 yards, and ran it once for 7. He was only targeted a couple more times, once drawing a pass interference call, and another time he saw a Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half go over his head... and eventually be run back about 70 yards for a pick-6 (particularly damaging considering the Maples lost the game by seven points). The quarterback play was sketchy as always, with Seaholm rotating between a "passing" (and I use that term loosely) quarterback and a runner.
In other phases of the game, Conway looked OK. He had kickoff returns of 52, 35, and 37 yards, and on two of them he was very close to taking it all the way back, but the last man brought him down. On defense, he had one pass breakup and committed one pass interference penalty. Ferndale was primarily a running team, so he wasn't tested much, and since he's not expected to play on that side of the ball at the next level, I didn't pay as much attention to his game there.
|Shawn Conway 2010|
|N Farmington||W 26-6||4||32||8.00||1||3||137||45.67|
|Country Day||L 21-28||3||62||20.67||0||3||32||10.67|
|Hazel Park||L 10-30||2||7||3.50||0|
This week: Seaholm travels to crosstown rival Groves on Friday at 7 in their final game of the season.
OH OL Jack Miller
Last week: St. John's defeated Clay 40-7.
This week: St. John's travels to Toledo Waite Friday at 7.
FL OL Tony Posada
This week: Plant travels to Alonso on Friday.
MI OL Jake Fisher
Last week: TC West wins in a shootout with Alpena 62-37. Fisher caught a 2-point conversion and returned an interception for touchdown:
Fisher intercepted a screen pass and took it 40 yards to paydirt
This week: TC West plays TC Central on Friday at 7.
OH DE Chris Rock
This week: DeSales hosts LaSalle on Friday at 7:30.
MI DE/LB Brennen Beyer
Beyer caught 3 passes for 34 yards.
Beyer also blocked a punt.
This week: Plymouth hosts Adrian on Friday at 6:30.
TX LB Kellen Jones
Last week: St. Pius X defeated Houston Christian 37-13.
I'll update with Kellen's stats once Tom talks to him. UPDATED
|Kellen Jones 2010|
|Trinity Christian||W 33-7||11||5||1||0|
|Worthing||W 20-12||DNP - ankle|
|St. Thomas||W 28-10||11||3||1||0|
|Houston Christian||W 31-17||9||3||1||0|
This week: St. Pius hosts Kelly in a rematch of a couple weeks ago on Friday at 7:30.
OH CB/S Greg Brown
Last week: Fremont Ross defeated Napoleon 21-14 in overtime.
The opening possession of the game, a 61-yard drive was capped off by a 5-yard TD run by Brown
The Fremont Ross Forum Blog didn't mention Brown.
This week: Ross hosts Lima Senior on Friday at 7:30.
MI CB Delonte Hollowell
Last week: Cass Tech defeated Cody 41-14.
Next Week: Cass Tech plays Detroit Crockett on Saturday at 2:30 at Renaissance.
So, about this defense:
Greg Banks (5th)
Ryan Van Bergen (Jr*)
|Renaldo Sagesse (Sr)||Adam Patterson (Sr)||Jibreel Black (Fr)|
|Craig Roh (So)||Ken Demens (So*)||
Jonas Mouton (Sr)
Thomas Gordon (Fr*)
|Brandon Herron (Jr*)||Obi Ezeh (5th)||Kevin Leach (Jr*)||Carvin Johnson (Fr)|
J.T. Floyd (So*)
Jordan Kovacs (So*)
Cam Gordon (Fr*)
James Rogers (Sr)
|Courtney Avery (Fr)||Marvin Robinson (Fr)||Ray Vinopal (Fr)||Terrence Talbott (Fr)|
That's our current defensive two-deep. Those of you watching this year know that they've been a bad, bad defensive two-deep. Among the many irksome memes floating around since this naughty two-deep had the unmitigated gall to lose two Big Ten games, is that they're not a "Michigan" two-deep, which is to say these are not the kinds of guys we normally would see getting playing time at Michigan.
So I went back through my memory, which for non-skill positions goes back to about 1996 with any "I watched all of his games" credibility, and tried to pick out the guys that our current D evoke.
This is an incomplete exercise; you are very welcome to suggest other analogues. My ultimate goal is to generate a two-deep of known quantities which, if I stare at it long enough, it will spark some sort of epiphany about the 2010 defense and what it portends for the rest of the year (and in so doing, beat Ohio State)...
For each, I've rated them on a 5-star scale, based on how you would expect him to perform on four typical linebackerish plays that come his way in a UFR:
|1 star||-2 or more||Liability|
|2 stars||-1||Not yet ready for D-I|
|3 stars||even||Usually competent|
|4 stars||+1||All-Big Ten|
|5 stars||+2 or more||All-American/NFL ready|
Remember that these ratings only apply to their contribution this year as a Michigan starter in that position, not their projected value in the future, or their recruiting ranking. If you want to convert it to recruit ranking, imagine what you would expect a player of that star rating to be playing at by their 3rd or 4th year at Michigan.
Greg Banks (Sr/5th)
Who: Will Paul 2007 (Sr/5th if he had come back)
Why: I mean, what else? Jake Frysinger? Pat Massey? Dan Rumishek? Eric Wilson? Will Paul was a fullback in '06 and graduated, but I'm going to ask you to imagine the 4-star bust who bounced around the D-Line depth chart had stayed there through his 5th year senior season. Like Banks, Paul was about 6'3/260 while on the D-line, good at not getting pushed out of the way, but bad about flowing down the line, or generating a pass rush.
2010 Value: **
Renaldo Sagesse (Sr/Sr)
Who: Jason Ptak 1999 (Sr/Sr)
Why: I thought about going with Jr/Sr Shawn Lazarus here, but Jason Ptak's existence is my personal little piece of Michigan trivia, and it fits perfectly. Ptak was a nobody recruit about the same size (6'3/290) as Sagesse who spelled Rob Renes (NT) and Eric Wilson (DT) from time to time. When he did this, he was perfectly "meh," but didn't ever look like he was getting run over. Sagesse was the last of the Montreal troupe (Kashama, Dubuc, Casseus) and like them was a nobody recruit who has been "meh" for four years.
Mike Martin (Jr/Jr)
Who: Alan Branch 2006 (Jr/Jr)
Why: Like I would pass up the opportunity...
Like Branch, Mike Martin was a 4-star recruit who appeared like a 5-star immediately, becoming a plus to the defense his freshman year, bigger plus his sophomore year, and took the leap toward All-American as a junior. Branch split double-teams with aplomb. Martin might even be better than Branch, since Alan didn't have quite MM's agility. But it's still a strong comparison.
Adam Patterson (Sr/Sr)
Who: Patrick Kratus 1998 (Jr/Sr)
Who?!? Thought you'd say that.
Why: Well, I'm running out of DT/DE tweeners here, especially lower-Rivals 100 guys who were complete busts, and I'm not giving Patterson even the courtesy of a Pat Massey comparison, though that would be the other pick. Pat Kratus was an academic All-American who played a lot of special teams for four varsity years. Kratus was a forgettable recruit with a frame that he never filled. Patterson too was rated highly because of his "frame" but he never grew into the DT/NT he was expected to, and was never mobile enough to do anything outside.
Value: * (because NT in our 3-3-5 exposes bad play)
After break: more guys.
Notes from Rich Rodriguez's Monday meeting with the press.
"This week is probably coming at a good time for some of those guys." Mike Martin and David Molk should be 100% with a week off. Mike Shaw's been limited in practice with a sprained knee, but should be fine.
Denard sprained something in his rotator cuff; it gets aggravated or sore when you fall on it. Worried about the big guys falling on him more than anything. He's not as hurt as Tate was last year, and should be good with a week off. "Hypothetically, we won't talk," but Denard would probably be good to start if there was a game this weekend. He's still the team's starter, despite Tate's solid play on Saturday.
On Fitzgerald Toussaint: "I'm optimistic he can practice this week."
Not sure how long Odoms will be out. "That's a tough blow because he was playing pretty good football." If he can return by the end of the year, he could play a bit.
Defensive personnel moves "Kenny Demens we thought played pretty well... He's played well enough that Obi will have to beat him out in practice over the next week and a half."
"Carvin Johnson we thought did some good things at Spur." With Mike Martin's injury, Adam Patterson got a chance to step up and he did well.
The Bye Week
No practice Monday-Tuesday (players are on fall break), but the team will practice Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for sure.
Big recruiting week for the staff since they don't have a game. "Used to go out a lot on Fridays," but it's tough to get back from a HS game and be ready for a noon game the next day. Coaches are on the road recruiting today and tomorrow.
Get young guys a little better fundamentally. "We'll do a preliminary thing on Penn State as well, try to get a little bit of the game plan in."
No school today or tomorrow, get a break to refresh with no football either. The 12 or 13 true freshmen who have played maybe have hit a wall. Having a bit of a break might make them refreshed this week.
On the day off Saturday, RR will watch some film, maybe watch some future opponents' games. His son Rhett has a Pop Warner game on Sunday.
Tate came in and made some plays, brought a spark. Had some bad habits come back as well. WRs helped him out, but Michigan has three pretty good, young quarterbacks.
Molk - "I think he didn't feel real good in warmups." After a couple plays, he told the coaches he was unable to compete at the level he wanted to. High ankle sprain, but not a severe one.
The coaches have talked to the field goal defense team about recovering blocked FGs, obviously didn't cover that well enough with the kick team. There was too much penetration on the block, but the kick was a little low, too.
Rocko Khoury competed well. He battled hard. "We were worried about his snaps some... and there were 1 or 2 a little bit off..."
Lewan was a little jumpy. Partially nerves going against Clayborn. Part of his troubles may have been unfamiliarity with Khoury's snapping rhythm.
Turnovers. "I think we pressed a little bit at quarterback some." Don't have to throw it 30 yards when you only need 10. The QBs know right after it happens. "Vincent Smith's not a fumbler."
As poorly as the team played, they had a chance to tie up the game, just couldn't make it happen.
Personnel and Schemes
On offense, they need to fix execution issues that lead to turnovers. "On defense, certainly the same thing. The same issues with execution and making sure we do that." On ST, kicking and returns have been bad, other units solid. "We've got a couple guys I think could be pretty good returners, we just haven't given them a chance."
All QBs are unique "As a runner, Denard's probably closer to what Woody was with burst." Speed more like Pat White. Denard is still a young guy, he's going to keep getting better, as will the young pieces around him. Offense has evolved to be more run-heavy over the years. "The designed quarterback runs probably started with Woody Dantzler in the late 90s." Nowadays, so many people have some version of it, so there's more defensive creativity to stop it.
"We're a little more multiple. We're probably simpler formationally than a lot of teams." Oklahoma, Oregon, Cincinnati, other spread coaching staffs get together and bounce ideas off each other.
The defensive staff all knows the issues, "I think they've talked about it at length, I know they have because I've talked with them." The players still believe in it. The team is close to playing good defense outside of a couple plays a game "but those two plays count." Need to work on some basics defensively, tackling, getting off blocks, etc. Will work on understanding scheme, which helps guys play faster. At times, tackling has been OK.
"At the end of the last couple drives it wasn't good." More disappointed in the (in)ability to get off blocks. Guys won't be coming free on every play. "Some of that's strength... some if it is technique and being able to see the play, recognize the play, get off your block and make it."
"Some of the issue we have defensively... the only way to get experience is to get experience." Some first-year players can play like veterans, but freshmen are going to have "freshman moments." The goal as coaches is to limit the impact if guys have those moments.
"If I still aspire to call plays and be involved in offensive planning and special teams planning, there's only so much hours in the day." The defensive coaches have expertise and they can devote their time to it. "Vince Lombardi could come too, and that's not going to fix some of the problems we have on defense."
The defense has gotten its share of criticism, but 4-5 turnovers in the past couple games and special teams are both issues as well. "With all that being said, we still have moments that we're playing pretty well against a couple pretty good teams."
Floyd thrust in as the "experienced guy" when Troy went down. Troy was the leader of the group, and will be again when he comes back. "When you look at those guys... you gotta remember most guys, their colleagues that age are being redshirted."
Hagerup kicking better because he's not as nervous.
"This is a really close team, there's no finger-pointing or anything like that."
Defensive concerns might affect makeup of the recruiting class. "Where are your numbers offense/defense, where do we need more help." Make sure you're looking for a particular position, etc. "We're looking all over the country" for a kicker worthy of spending a scholarship on.
"No question" that having a player seriously injured on the field (like Rutgers lineman) is your worst nightmare. "That's certainly is something that's an inherent risk not just in our sport but in all sports, and you always worry about it."
Big Ten shaking out about as expected. "I think the reputation of our league is pretty good nationally this year. It should be." Quality of play throughout the depth of the league is good.
"The first two years were extreme disappointments." Inside the program, you can at least get an idea that the program is being built and the future is bright. "If nothing else I think we're fun to watch." WIshes that weren't the case sometimes.
Playing Alabama in 2012 - "Just looking at the road games... pretty tough road schedule." Denard will be a senior, some of the young guys on this year's team will be juniors, etc. "Our hesitation was giving up a home game to do that." The pros outweighed the cons. Can use the excitement of that future game for recruiting.
Haven't talked too much about other future OOC scheduling, because they don't know when the Big Ten schedules will be finalized.
10/16/2010 – Michigan 28, Iowa 38 – 5-2, 1-2 Big Ten
When Michigan needed a stop to get the ball back with a chance to tie and plenty of time on the clock they failed to get it, twice. The second time Michigan cut off Iowa's routes past the sticks, forcing a dumpoff to Adam Robinson. Courtney Avery was there.
Last year at this time Avery was in high school. He played quarterback, and basically only quarterback. Plans to have him play his college position were thwarted by an injury. In a presser earlier this year, Rich Rodriguez said in any situation short of the Bohemian Crapsody that is this secondary, the entire freshman defensive back class would redshirt. But File Not Found, man. File Not Found.
Avery did that thing you see above. It doesn't appear that he even touched Robinson, something Crapsody-projected starter Richard Nixon probably could have managed. My immediate thought was watching baseball highlights on Sportscenter during the Dan and Keith glory days. Dan Patrick's signature strikeout call: "the whiff."
And so Michigan football falls into that old incredibly fun debate for the next two weeks before the Penn State game quiets it, one way or the other. Rodriguez proponents point to the shocking lack of talent in the back four and say it's not his fault; Rodriguez opponents point to the same thing and say it's his fault.
They're both sort of right, sort of wrong. Boubacar Cissoko has 99 problems but what to do on a Friday night is no longer one of them. Troy Woolfolk was struck down by Angry Michigan Secondary Hating God. These are cosmically decreed absences from the secondary.
On the other hand, it's hard to look at the addled underclassmen out there with cornerback Nick Sheridan and not wish Rodriguez had sucked a little face to get Donovan Warren or Justin Turner or Vlad Emilien to stick around. Emilien departed the Michigan secondary in an effort to find playing time. Something is not quite right with your roster management when you lose the only non-freshman free safety on the roster.
As he left he said something along the lines of "I'm the best safety on the roster."* He probably isn't, but this is the point at which a desperate Michigan would give it a shot anyway. They did with Kenny Demens and found out that Obi Ezeh is not the best MLB at Michigan; maybe that would have happened with Emilien. Instead there is a walk-on-sized true freshman and air backing up Cam Gordon and Michigan will ride and die with another guy who obviously shouldn't be on the field this year.
This is what Michigan football is these days—trying to figure out which incredibly inexperienced player has the least business being on a Big Ten two deep, let alone field. My vote is for James Rogers, but I get it if you're arguing for any other member of the secondary not named Kovacs. Srsly. Pick one.
Of course, Avery's mistake was as far from an isolated an incident as possible. The reason it's emblematic of the game is that you could have picked a dozen other players if their incident had happened right at the end. Another field goal was blocked, with a bonus: team walks off field still featuring live ball, Iowa returns it a goodly distance. The Taylor Lewan Drive Killing Penalty and its sequels. Two(!) kickoffs sailing out of bounds. Facemask calls. A –4 turnover margin. It's all very grrraaarrgggh. The people on the internet who say "THAT'S COACHING" are saying "THAT'S COACHING."
Maybe it is, but how would anyone know when freshman quarterbacks are waving at Adam Robinson's feet? In one very limited way it would be nice if this was a Tim Brewster situation where galaxy-spanning incompetence met a total lack of a track record and firing the guy was obvious. That's not this. We have very good reasons to expect what is happening to happen but don't know if it's ever going to stop.
*(to someone in the media, but not to the public at large.)
To repeat. We've got five additional opportunities to find out whether or not the mistakes were just one (er… two) of those days or a systemic issue—or, more likely, a systemic issue less severe than it seems this instant—so no job talk. I will say that my position at the start of the year was that 7-5 was the expected result and that would be good enough for me since 2011 sets up as a perfect prove-it year, and that I don't see why that would change. If they can get a half-decent defense they should blow up.
Iowa's defense may have been something of a paper tiger but even so Michigan came up ten yards short of its season average against the #4 total defense in the country; they're now #3 in total offense. They have two seniors who start and three on the two-deep. As long as they don't tank the rest of the season that seems like a good enough reason to give it a shot in 2011.
Crap, I guess that's job talk.
Kenny! After two three-and-outs featuring Kenny Demens at middle linebacker, Obi Ezeh returned to the field to start the third drive. On his first play he was humiliatingly owned by an Iowa OL, getting pancaked as Robinson whizzed by for his first real gain of the day. I started complaining to everyone in the vicinity about Ezeh's presence as Iowa marched down the field; Demens returned as Iowa neared the redzone. Ezeh's Michigan career is for all intents and purposes over, and Demens is the new king of everything.
How did he do? I don't actually know yet, but if you take out the three Robinson runs (14, 8, 5) when Ezeh was in the game Robinson rushed for 116 yards on 28 carries, 4.2 per. That's not terrible and for the most part it was done without Mike Martin, who missed the entire second half and was not effective when he did play in the first.
Last I said I was rooting for an inexplicable personnel decision here and it looks like that's the case: Demens is considerably better than Ezeh. That's a nice boost for the rest of the season and the next couple years. If Demens was really Ezeh's equivalent or worse we'd be facing down MOTS or freshmen at MLB next year; instead it looks like we'll get the upperclass years of a decent recruit who's already an obvious upgrade.
Ezeh epilogue. I will remember him as that guy from Memento.
Khoury! The most encouraging part of the game was Michigan owning the Iowa DL despite playing most of the day without Molk and a chunk of it without Lewan. Michigan averaged 4.8 YPC on the ground despite not breaking a run longer than 15 yards, gave up just one sack, and saw its quarterbacks go 30/44.
The lack of long runs is a function of the Iowa gameplan, which left six-ish guys in the box most of the day and gave Michigan a numbers advantage, but Michigan took advantage of that against a massively hyped DL. They did it without their starting center. At this point they've established themselves one of the best units in the conference.
Tate! Hell of a relief appearance there, and more indication that keeping Forcier in the program is an important offseason task. Also: pretty sure they ran the midline option for their last touchdown.
Lewan sad face. It's a good thing that late false start was on Schilling; if it was on Lewan blood vessels would have burst all over Michigan Stadium. I don't have to remind you of the three crippling penalties that ended Michigan drives, because you were doing your very best not to unleash a torrent of boos at the kid.
On the upside, I hear that Clayborn did nothing when Lewan was in the game; if that proves true on tape you can ramp your Lewan==Long hype up to maximum.
Turnover damage metric. Tate's last desperate chuck on third and nineteen == 0. Not completing a pass in that situation is almost a turnover anyway.
Robinson's interception == 2. It was third and ten and he didn't have underneath options apparently; in that situation a deep INT is basically a punt. The problem was with how terrible the throw was. When the receiver can't even get over to tackle that's a problem.
Vincent Smith fumble, First Forcier interception == 8. Guh.
Hagerup. At least the punting issues have resolved themselves spectacularly. Hagerup averaged 50.3 yards a kick and yielded no return yards. Net punting is now above average. It's just everything else that's terrible.
Photo I was looking for found at Mets Maize, which focused in on that same moment as the tale of the game. BWS recap is a little down on RR's playcalling with Denard in the game; I just see third and okay turned into third and long by Lewan penalties. With Denard, Michigan is a team on a schedule, like option teams. Getting off that schedule is very bad. I should dig out my old third down code after the year so we can see the big red bits from third and seven out.
Meanwhile, In Rod We Trust kicks off its post like I wanted to:
Something, something, realistic expectations, something, something, glass half-full, something something, more experience needed, something, something, witch hunt commence, something something, life goes on. Something, something, not 2009.
While it could have ended there, it continues. Meanwhile in the News, John Niyo says "OMG 2009," something only a Penn State win will fix. The Ann Arbor News launches "moxie" to describe Forcier's day.
I hate it when he is sad, and not just because I feel the same way.