this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
|1||Southern Cal (40)||24.3||1.0||2|
|4||Ohio State (9)||21.8||4.0||2|
Total Ballots: 75
Like everyone else, the BlogPoll anoints USC #1 after they smoked Virginia. The main difference here is not order of teams but the strength of opinion: USC dominates all comers by over two points per ballot; in other polls the gap between Georgia and the Trojans is vanishingly small.
Also, the BlogPoll’s previous bullishness on VaTech? Not so much.
Wack Ballot Watchdog
A lot of the weird votes for particular teams are the result of “resume ranking,” about which more later. They won’t be covered here because at least they’re logically consistent.
- Lord knows what Garnet and Black Attack sees in #15 North Carolina. When ESPN says you “edged” the Cowboys and they aren’t talking about Dallas or Oklahoma State or even Wyoming, that ain’t good.
- From Old Virginia is hanging on to VT at #16.
- The Bama Sports report has Oregon State #23 but no Stanford, who basically smoked them.
- Miami at #11 seems… enthusiastic.
There’s still not much because we have little data. Extracurriculars after the jump.
Games watched: M-Utah, NC State-South Carolina, UCLA-Tennessee, MSU-Cal, portions of ECU-VT,
This blog was slightly occupied last Friday when Pahokee, FL, teammates Brandin Hawthorne and Vincent Smith committed to Michigan, but better late than never. Everything the internet can offer on Michigan’s newest electron-sized recruit follows, now with organization and stuff.
|3*, #102 RB||3*, #60 RB||77, #60 RB|
In a word: “meh,” but we are talking about a 5’7” player here who is a poor fit for a lot of offenses and doesn’t have much pro upside. ESPN scouting report($) clip:
Shows a second gear when he gets outside on the perimeter and can separate in the second level with good top-end speed. However, he does appear quicker than fast and is not the burner you hope for on film with his smaller size. Runs hard and is a tough, determined back, but yards after contact should diminish at the next level versus bigger more explosive defenders.
They say he could be a “productive change of pace back” in the spread, which is kind of damning him with faint praise.
His teammates and coach are a bit more positive, as you might imagine:
His production -- more than 1,000 yards rushing last season -- helped lead the Blue Devils to the 2B state championship and USA Today's No. 6 national ranking.
And then there's his build, which Thompson simply called ``that spread-offense body.'' …
''He can do a lot,'' Pahokee quarterback-to-be Nu'Keese Richardson said, ``as far as catching it out [of] the backfield, making guys miss and stuff like that.''
Added coach Blaze Thompson: ``When he goes to camps, he'll go from wide receiver to running back, wide receiver to running back.
"He runs great routes, and he's powerful.''
A slot move may be a possibility down the road.
Smith had two other major offers from Tennessee and Wisconsin. Minnesota, Iowa State, and Southern Miss also offered. In-state programs were not interested.
Okay, kind of meh too but it’s notable that Michigan’s offer went out fast:
''[When I got] my first offer from Michigan,'' Smith said, ``I knew then I was going to be good.''
He got it in early March, before Michigan offered a bunch of other high-profile guys. They IDed him early and had him high on their list.
Lot of yards, as per usual:
Smith, a running back, led Pahokee in rushing the past two seasons and rushed for 1,196 yards last year.
Sophomore numbers were impressive:
Just behind him [FL recruit Janoris Jenkins] is the "starting" tailback Vincent Smith. Smith, a sophomore who goes 5-9 and 174 pounds, has 85 carries for 925 yards (10.3 per carry) and 15 TDs.
Keep in mind that Pahokee plays at a small-school level in Florida and dominates the competition—they’re gearing up for a run at a fourth straight state championship—and the silly YPC above should be taken with a grain of salt.
FAKE 40 TIME
Fake, fake, fake:
Indeed he is. Smith might come up short, height-wise (he lists himself at 5-9, although some have him at 5-7), but not in many other places.
His 40-yard dash time -- the high 4.3-range and dropping, he says -- is stellar.
And this has featured on the blog before, but here’s Smith narrated by Pat Summerall:
Pat Summerall, people! This kid is no joke.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
If you want to argue this guy is a big deal, you’ve got Michigan’s lickety-split offer on your side. If you want to say “meh” you’ve got his other offers, the reaction of the instate schools, and the guru ratings. He’s obviously got a chance to be useful, but with four higher-rated guys in the last two classes, “useful” is a realistic upside.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Smith is Michigan’s third running back commit or second slot commit or third slot commit or something. To rephrase: Michigan now has four guys in the class who will play running back or slot receiver; they graduate no running backs or slot receivers. They’re done. There’s not even anyone on the radar anymore.
Word has reached the mgobatcave that freshman running back Mike Cox is currently scouting destinations back east in anticipation of a transfer. If he gets registered and such for the fall semester, he can spend this year as his mandatory redshirt and be eligible next fall; if he goes through with it we’ll know soon.
Cox probably saw the writing on the wall with Sam McGuffie and Michael Shaw already seeing time and three running back recruits—all of whom are decidedly small shifty types, not thumpers like Cox—in the 2009 class.
The moral, as always: don’t recruiting running backs with funny names.
BONUS SECRET INSIDER INFOS! The band is going to play “Hangin’ Tough” this weekend. NKOTB 4EVA.
No in-out since it’s the first one in a while, but a dossier of those in trouble:
MY FATHER has a shirt that says he’s my dad and points me out to various passers-by who notice it. This is not cool.
ANTONIO BASS’ TRAITOROUS KNEE. Bass was a high school quarterback who made Incredibly Surprising Quarterback Draws work with some regularity during his freshman season. He’d be a redshirt junior who couldn’t throw worth a lick but could be Pat White if his knee hadn’t exploded in a contact warmup drill. Preposterously, the injury was the worst knee injury Michigan football’s ever experienced and Bass’s career is over.
EAGLES FANS IN MAIZE. There was a smattering of boos at halftime, which is only barely acceptable when a team is clearly playing under its capabilities and even then it’s pretty dickish since no one’s getting paid. When no one from the fans to the coaches to the players knows what they can do, booing can only be the province of people who should exit the stadium like stray extra points.
(THE) GENERAL BLOODYMINDEDNESS OF (THE) UNIVERSE. The Year of Infinite Pain, The Horror, Josh Moore, the Bass thing above, the transfer of Jason Forcier just in time for him to watch Tavita Pritchard beat Oregon State, Mr. Plow’s departure to the maw of the Great Satan… I mean, come on.
WEST VIRGINIA. Make one funny move and we’ll hire Huggins to coach Grand Valley State.
THE SUN. By the time the game was over half the people in the stadium looked deep-fried and the other half had evaporated. Also it got in my eyes. Stupid sun.
THE 4-3 AGAINST A SPREAD. I thought we ditched this at the same time we ditched Jim Herrmann? At least Shafer got wise relatively quick and junked in in favor of nickel packages galore in the second half; though most credit the defensive line with the carnage wrought it was the secondary actually covering Johnson’s first and sometimes second reads that allowed the defensive line to exercise their constitutional right of assembly at the quarterback.
Site note: UFRs will be Wednesday/Thursday going forward; every year I suggest they will be Tuesday/Wednesday and am forcibly disabused of this idea the firs week. Also, I miss Joel A. Morgan’s cartoons and am accepting submissions for random inclusion into UFR. It’s like the New Yorker: you submit stuff and sometimes I post it when it strikes my fancy. Except I don’t pay you.
O Do Not Forsake Me. Jerry Green is officially one thousand years old:
Michigan opened its celebrated anti-tradition era with its heavily publicized modern-style offense looking as though it were conducting a fire drill.
By that, I mean helter-skelter, willy-nilly and putt-putt!
Glabdanged frozzmatozz put that in your pipe and smoke it boy howdy I got an Indian nickel lets get a phosphate at the druggist this qualifies as a sentence in a major newspaper these days.
Later, Green uses “newfangled” without a hint of irony:
So what's different, other than this newfangled offense that made Rodriguez such a coveted football coach?
Well, it's now tradition-be-damned at Michigan!
I didn’t even know you could do that. I also didn’t know you could use exclamation points helter-skelter, willy-nilly, and putt-putt!
Green is a weird mix of Grandpa Simpson and T. Herman Zweibel; the above-linked column is a must-read if only for its antiquated strangeness. I mean:
On the sideline, Threet and David Cone and then the replaced Sheridan wigwagged the signals to the quarterback of the moment. Assistant coaches in headsets, connected by wire to play-callers up above, translated the plays into the code for the semaphore artists.
These things are newfangled: wigwagging(?), connecting things to other things by telegraph, and signaling plays into the sideline. Also newfangled: the horseless carriage, fire, and the atmosphere. Don’t get proper views of the night sky anymore with all that nitrogen in the way back in my day we had proper views and also we were prokaryotes someone bring me my cranberry juice.
Green circa 2.5 billion years ago
The invaluable Smart Football might be posting at a more regular rate, and lets hope so, because…
When Rodriguez got to Tulane with Tommy Bowden they threw the ball over the place, but (a) it was in Conference USA, (b) they were excellent at the 3-step passing game, but defenses are better at defending against those passes now than they were a decade ago, and (c) his downfield passing game left something to be desired. And in the years since, it's not that Rodriguez is at heart a running guy, it's just that was what worked and it masked some of the passing game deficiencies. When I study the route combinations, they do not appear to be designed conceptually, and instead are a kind of grab-bag of a few routes here or there. You don't see his schemes organized of horizontal, vertical, and triangle stretches.
…this is about the most interesting thing anyone’s said about him since he was hired at Michigan.
Now, Rodriguez's saving grace is I've seen him in action, and he's an excellent fundamentals coach and is a great teacher. And I think he understands all these things - I mean the guy did exploit the zone-read spread stuff before anyone else - but hasn't had the chance to reexamine his offense with such a critical eye. This season, to be successful, I believe he will have to.
Being successful this season will rest less on the pass routes and more on reducing the overall Yakety Sax vibe, IMO, but down the road this will be something to look out for. Click the link for what Smart Football means by “conceptual” pass routes.
This worked out. The “Victors Walk” was a neat addition to a football Saturday:
A ton of schools do this for good reason; glad to see we’re amongst them. I hope the former letterwinners are included in the walk when Michigan does the thing where they bring back a bunch of old dudes for the Tunnel Of History.
Perception is a weird thing. Dr. Saturday, nee SMQ, on the defense:
If there's anything good to take away for the Wolverines, it's that the defense, overall, lived up to its hype. Brian Johnson shredded it for 260 yards and a couple touchdowns in the first half -- he only topped 260 yards in an entire game once in '07 -- but if you were too distracted by the offensive horrifics on the other side to notice, the Utes' second half production amounted to two first downs and six total yards. If not for the towering leg of Kicking-and-Punting Messiah Louis Sakoda, who hammered home the eventual winning margin on a 54-yarder after the Utes went three-and-out from the Michigan 40, it would have been a shut out. It was dominating, anyway, and there's some promise in that. Just some, though, not enough to raise expectations beyond the Champs Sports Bowl.
I don’t see how you can just dismiss the shredding handed out, as it’s clear evidence of a glaring weakness in the linebacker corps and something between inexperience and Cato June at safety. The overall performance graded out to “slightly disappointing,” as you’d hope Michigan scoring 23 points would be enough for victory. It would have been if not for that little kicker guy, but only just.
The second half was very encouraging and it’s better to have Michigan suddenly get its act together late—hopefully that straight 4-3 we saw against the spread is permanently junked—than come out storming and fall apart; I am still a bit leery of the unit. Notre Dame will be interesting.
Meanwhile, an even more mystifying reaction: “Michigan needs to get creative”:
As the fans howled, Odoms gained three yards. No cloud of dust could be spotted from the press box, but it might as well have been there.
As far as creativity went, the first play was about as good as it got for Michigan on Saturday. So were the results.
To call the Wolverines' offense vanilla would be an insult to the term. Rodriguez came to Michigan as an offensive innovator, but his playbook might as well as been a pamphlet against Utah.
?!?!?!? Martavious Odoms is a tiny freshman slot receiver who received a shovel pass counter on the first play of the game. About the only thing that could have been less Lloyd Carr would have been a double-reverse trick pass. And I submit there’s a limited amount of creativity you can install into a gameplan when you have no quarterbacks who have ever taken a college snap, one returning OL starter, and freshmen everywhere at the skill positions. Rodriguez was busy getting them to run the right way and was only 90% successful at that. And there was a fair bit of creativity: the attempts to get Utah leaping offsides, the option here and there, the shocking lack of bubble screens
Etc.: Braves & Birds weighs in; Varsity Blue breaks the numbers down a bit; the WLA is cranky at you, not the team; Carty is like the only guy who doesn’t have a “Don’t leap to conclusions BUT” paragraph; MVictors has the circle of death, plus a picture of a dejected Scott Shafer