national champs baby
'89 born US defenseman Tristin Llewellyn may have committed to Michigan. And by may I mean "almost certainly did."
Anyone committing this early is no slouch; generally they're the types of players who have to make early decisions because they're choosing between the NCAA and the OHL, and Michigan is not about to offer a class of '07 player who does not project out very well. Rivals resident guru tbarr says that Llewellyn would "almost certainly" be a top ten pick in this year's OHL draft if he were to choose the OHL route.
Update: It's official.
Dr. Z's latest dissects a favorite topic of Michigan football fans: conservative coaching and how it functions as an extreme handicap in the big games. Like everything Dr. Z writes, the article is well worth your time.
Particularly pogniant for Michigan fans:
There are coaches whose playbooks are filled with things that can go wrong. They have a fine working knowledge of the terrors of the game. They coach not to lose. Yet they lose, maybe not over the course of a season, or a career, but they lose the big ones.
Many would accuse Lloyd Carr of fitting that description to a T. I don't know about that anymore, which is an improvement. Look at the end of the Rose Bowl: Michigan has third and two. If they fail to get a first down they have a makeable field goal awaiting that will peg them to a one-point lead. The call: Chad Henne drops back and rifles a pass hard and slightly off target to Braylon Edwards, who is sitting slightly past the first down sticks. The pass goes off Edwards' hands and falls to the ground, incomplete. The conservative thing would have been to stick the ball in Hart's stomach.
Then, after the field goal, Texas has maneuvered itself into field goal range and seems content to attempt a 38 yarder to win the game. Michigan lets the clock wind down to two seconds instead of expending their timeouts. Is that excessively conservative? A lot of Michigan fans thought it was ridiculous... I didn't. Given the fact that Vince Young was unstoppable all night, the prospect of the ball in his hands, rolling out, and finding no one open was terrifying. Mack Brown was the one who was erroneously playing conservative. If either Ernest Shazor or Prescott Burges moves his hand over two inches and Magnum's 38 yard field goal attempt, Michigan wins that game. Do you want your fate hanging on the foot of Magnum or the legs of Vince Young? That's what I thought.
The offense has evolved. It is now fully modern. Where Michigan sees potential disaster is now the defense, where Jim Herrmann gets spooked into playing horrible soft zones time and again, where defensive linemen hold up their blockers against mobile quarterbacks and never, ever spin inside in case they lose contain, where big plays happen with regularity anyway.
Lloyd seems to win his share of the big games... he has a national title to his name, after all. And maybe that was the perfect Lloydball team... but he's had to move away from Lloydball (ok, ok, except for horrible punts from the 35) recently to win games, and he has. Maybe not enough for the tastes of some, but there's no denying that Lloyd 2004 is different than Lloyd 1997. We'll see over the course of the next three years. The offensive skill positions will be more loaded than they've ever been in my memory, and the defense will have at its disposal four and five star athletes galore. If Lloyd can harness and direct that talent to another national title, he'll go down as a great one. If he can't, he'll be remembered as a good steward, a great man, but no legend.
Here's hoping it's the former.
Here. Focuses more on the loss of the four big names (Shazor, Jackson, Baas, Edwards) than returning talent, actually saying "Chad Henne and Mike Hart can't play any better, can they?"
Uh... well, maybe Hart is very close to his theoretical maximum. But Henne will improve. It might not show in the stats as much because Braylon will be gone, but he'll be better with a year of experience. Possibly much better. I hate it when previews look at only the departures and not the returnees. Sure, Michigan loses the aforementioned four players, all first or second round picks, but who do they return... everyone else except Dudley, Curry and Manning.
The other thing they say: "there's too much work to be done on both sides of the line to be the favorite"... um, you mean the four returning starters on the o-line and the three returning starters on the d-line?
So they managed to screw up everything. The offense will be better (more consistent, less explosive) w/ sophomore Chad Henne. The special teams should be above average. The areas of concern on the defense are the linebackers and the secondary, not the line. Stock to put in this assessment: 0.
They also have Mike Hart #7 on their list of returning stars, if you're interested. No? Look, kid, I gotta post something. It's a blog, that's the way it works. Sometimes it's gold... sometimes it's this.
CHRIS MCLAURIN - OLB - Orchard Lake St Mary's(MI)
Height: 6'3" Weight: 230
Rivals: ***, #27 DE, #7 MI
Scout.com: ***, NR
Projected Role: Situational pass rusher
McLaurin continues the parade of OLSM standouts heading to Michigan. Michigan had three on the roster last year: 5th year WR Jermaine Gonzalez, Stanford transfer CB Grant Mason, and redshirt WR Morgan Trent, and they'll have three next year with the arrival of McLaurin.
McLaurin's position at Michigan is probably yet to be determined. At 230 pounds and with explosive pass-rush ability, he fits the profile of an edge-rushing defensive end or blitzing OLB equally well. High school beat writers certainly couldn't figure it out, half the time referring to him as an OLB, half the time as a DE. His coach seems to think his future is at defensive end:
"He was just a tremendous off-the-ball player," Porritt said. "He just had great speed getting off the ball and getting to the quarterback at the defensive end position."
Whatever he was, McLaurin certainly filled up the stat sheet as senior with 109 tackles, 11 sacks, two picks, and four forced fumbles, plus 13 catches as TE for 207 yards and 3 touchdowns. It remains to be seen whether he can put on enough weight to be a college DE and maintain his speed or learn the intricacies of the LB position.
BRANDON LOGAN - OLB - Lexington Catholic(KY)
Height: 6'0" Weight: 200
Lemming: #15 OLB
Rivals: ***, #31 OLB, #5 KY (preseason)
Scout.com: ****, #34 LB
Projected Role: Smart, rangy weakside LB
The second piece in Lloyd Carr's diabolical plan to extend a giant middle finger to the entire state of Kentucky as payback for the Joe Crawford fiasco, Logan enters as the only true linebacker Michigan recruited this year.
There's a disparity between Logan's guru ratings and the schools that were after him, and this is probably why. That's the Army All-American game junior combine. Logan came in at 6'0", 189 pounds, and ran a 4.8. Now, that's not so bad... most guys didn't even do that well and the ones who did better are big-time recruits: Ryan Reynolds, Ray Maualugh, etc. But there's a distinct divide in people's opinion of Brandon Logan that appears to have popped up right after he ran those 40s: before, he was mentioned as a preliminary top-100 guy by Lemming. After, he's a three star.
So he didn't bring it at the combine, but he brought it on the field enough for Michigan, Florida and Tennessee to offer and pursue him. Logan's play on the field must put the lie to those statistics, because I can't remember the last 4.8 runnin', 6-foot, 190 pound linebacker at UF, UT, or UM. Logan does come from a long line of football players. Michigan recruited his older brother John, who plays WR for Kentucky.
So which is it? 190 pound guy running a 4.8 or LB worthy of UM, UF, and UT offers? Dunno. At least one Kentucky recruiting guru thinks the latter (lifted from the linkfest):
In my opinion, if Logan continues to hit the weight room hard, he could be in the NFL in four years. He's that good and that special of a player at linebacker, regardless of size.
So, he's undersized... and we'll call him fast despite the combine results. Sounds like Chris Graham, but Graham's just a year in front of him and has impressed everyone around the program with his hitting an tenacity. Can Michigan find room to have both on the field?
MGOBLOG editorial stance
C+. The inability to get a premiere recruit this year places a lot of pressure on someone from next year's class to step in as true freshman, since Michigan will graduate three starters next year.
Chris McLaurin is probably only a linebacker in the 3-4. He's a teeny defensive end in the 4-3, leaving Brandon Logan the only guy who is definitely going to be a linebacker. Michigan must be extremely confident in Logan, as he was Michigan's primary target for almost the entire year. Chris Jeske, Jerome Hayes, Ryan Reynolds, Rico McCoy and Brian Cushing all had at least some interest in Michigan but UM seemingly had little in them.
Reports vary on Logan's speed. One bad day at the combine in San Antonio seems to have soured the gurus on him, but I'm pretty sure he won at least one smokehouse award at Michigan camp. He's been camping at Michigan since he was a sophomore, so the staff knows what they're getting with him. Hopefully this means that Logan's underrated. He is definitely undersized.
Michigan is going to have to find a place for McLaurin to play; with the monster defensive line class coming in this year he might get shuffled to LB, which is where I'd like to see him anyway. There is a good chance he will lose his explosion off the line if he adds 30 or 40 pounds to play DE. At OLB the worst that ever happens is he is a good guy to bring in on passing downs to blitz or put his hand down as a DE.
The bottom line, though, is Michigan whiffed on an awful lot of high-profile targets and ended up with a man without a position and an undersized guy they probably can't afford to pair with Chris Graham. Each has a 50-50 shot of becoming a contributor. That would be disastrous if LB was a major need, but with only Roy Manning graduating this year, this pair of complementary players is acceptable.