[Ed: meant to bump this sooner but there was a lot of stuff yesterday.]
After the disastrous offensive performance of 2008, the 2009 Wolverine offense really had nowhere to go but up. Using my offensive ratings, the 2008 Michigan offense was 7.4 points per game below average, 107th out of 120 FBS teams. 2009 brought another year in the system and real quarterbacks and huge improvements. While far from consistently excellent, Michigan moved up to a modest 1.2 points per game above average, 50th nationally. No one outside of the eternal optimists like Fred Jackson could see another 57 place ranking improvement, but what has happened to teams that have shown big offensive improvements in year in the following year.
Presently my database has the 2007-2009 years completed, just enough for a 3 year case study. From 2007 to 2008 there were 28 teams that improved offensively by at least 5 points per game. I broke those team into three categories, teams that saw a second major (+5) increase in the third year, teams that saw a major (-5) regression back in the third year and teams that were in the middle and didn’t necessarily continue gaining, but didn’t fall back much either.
*Only BCS teams shown
With 14 of the 28 teams in this group, half of the teams that show big gains can expect a return to the mean the next season. In fact, these teams were worse offensively in 2009 than they were in 2007, let alone the beacon season of 2008. The average team in this group was 2.5 points per game worse in 2009 than they were in 2007 before they peaked.
The closest thing to a consistent thread is the quarterback possession as five of the eight, Oklahoma, Baylor, USC, Arizona and Utah, spent most or all of the season with a new quarterback.
In general, the regressers look like a group that is just regressing to the mean and that replacing a quarterback is damaging when your success has not been sustained for longer than a single season.
With the exception of Alabama, these teams were pretty average in returning starts and had no major position group gaps to fill. Alabama had a new quarterback and was 97th in returning offensive starts nationally, the ability to sustain the offensive success is likely attributable to the influx of talent Saban brought into Alabama since he arrived.
*Michigan 2007 results omitted (-1.1)
With a relatively new coach and a total offensive system overhaul, Georgia Tech is clearly the most similar situation to Michigan and their path is one that Michigan would be thrilled to follow. Tech went from –1.1 ppg in 2007 to 7.6 in 2008 to 14.5 and my top rated offense in the country in 2009. Even though Johnson and Rodriguez were hired the same year, the Michigan offense is about 2 years behind Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech went from average to very good to best in the country. Michigan went from average, to very bad and back to average. Even with the offset timeline, Michigan seems comparable to Georgia Tech’s situation and therefore a second year of offensive gain seems very possible under this comparison.
All five of these teams either returned 20+ starts at the quarterback position (except GT who had the same quarterback from the start of the system), although Stanford’s returning quarterback was replaced. The other major similarity between these schools in neither of the last two years did they have stratospheric gains, there is less flukiness to these teams success.
When looking at the progression from very bad to roughly average, there are four BCS level schools who showed that same progression. Three of those (TCU, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh went on to see big gains in year 3 as well, and NC St still saw modest improvement. Teams fitting this profile for a potential second year of strong offensive progress in 2010 along with Michigan include Kentucky, UConn, Wake Forest and Mississippi St.
Although teams that show a big jump like Michigan last year are more likely to fall back than continue the progress, the recruiting profile, experience at quarterback (even if the returner loses his job), progressions comps and system change all point to Michigan as being a good candidate to at least sustain and probably show more improvement next year. Every 3 point gain is worth about one additional win on the season and based on this look I would say that from the offense alone, a 3 point gain seems likely and a 6 point gain entirely possible.
Excited To See You Tom Hammond is no longer the most terrifying Notre Dame-related thing on the internet. I know this is hard to comprehend.
But never has a school been so ably summarized in four emasculating minutes:
You have to watch it. It will be the most conflicted four minutes of your life. It will be so horrible, but it will be awesome because it will be more horrible for the people this abortion ironically purports to represent. That guy redefining maximum levels of whiteness goes by "Freekbass," by the way, and has won an award. It is a sexy lamp sort of award, but it's an award. Soon he will have another award.
Explains the last 20 years, doesn't it? The people in charge of Notre Dame thought this was a good idea. They got poor Brian Kelly to show up in this thing. They deployed the school's cheerleaders as a hearty midwestern dance backdrop. They spent a lot of money and time to aim very carefully at their own testicles with a shotgun and pulled the trigger on their official youtube channel.
Of course they hired Bob Davie, George O'Leary, Ty Willingham, and Charlie Weis. Maybe they will end up in the Big Ten after all.
UPDATE: Reader Nick Gorski provides the perfect comparison: this is the exact opposite of Hockeybear blowing up Earth.
Site updates. I've updated the Depth Chart By Class and added a new angle on the roster: the Unofficial Two-Deep. Folks with more than 500 points—"trusted users"—should be able to edit both these pages to reflect changes in them, though I'm getting the weird caching issues with the DCBC. Working on that.
Please no funny stuff, because then I will be sad.
A pair of items to read. Run, don't walk to USA Today's profile of Deshawn Sims that reads like a Wire script:
DeShawn Sims graduates Saturday from the University of Michigan. His mother, sister, grandmother and aunt will be there to see him get his degree and hear President Obama speak.
His father and brothers will not be there. The men in his family are in prison or dead.
"The men are gone," Sims says. "I'm the last man."
As soon as you are done there stop immediately and run the opposite direction to Maize 'n' Brew's interview with Zoltan Mesko:
MnB: Do they ever stick you on the tackling squads or any other kind of full contact drills for special teams?
Z: You know... I think I've done two tackling drills in my whole career at Michigan. The first made the Carr staff realize this was pointless. The other made the Rodriguez staff realize that was pointless as well.
For extreme Justin Turner worriers, of which I count myself a tentative member, there is also this:
There are a lot of young guys that have the potential to be something unbelievable. Justin Turner, for instance. I only see bits and pieces of practice, because I'll do my own thing indoors with the other special teamers, but when I do watch practices, Justin Turner was like white-on-rice with the receivers. He's still learning, but if he was on the receiver, it was like he knew what the receiver was doing next.
Yes, please, with salsa. The interview continues on at epic length.
I say intent, you say "I'm sorry I didn't hear you come again whoops you're at JUCO." A couple days ago I posted something on the Sporting Blog about high-end college basketball players increasingly forgoing the letter of intent. I think this is a good idea for players, who are giving up all their leverage in exchange for little. I thought "little" was one year of scholarship, but even that morsel turns out to be a wild exaggeration of the benefits:
The problem with the NLI is that even for critics of varying degrees, as all three of these writers are, the benefits to a player of signing an NLI are overstated:
- Signing an NLI does not guarantee a spot on the team. Nothing does. A coach can cut a player at any time.
- Signing an NLI does not guarantee a scholarship for a year. Signing the athletic grant-in-aid agreement (i.e. the scholarship itself) binds the school to the player, without binding the player to the school.
- Signing an NLI does not allow the school to start promoting you. Any written commitment to attend will.
The only benefit to prospects signing an NLI with a school is that it prevents other coaches from harassing the prospect and permits the coaches that signed the prospect to have unlimited contact with them, including by text message.
So there's virtually no reason to ever sign a letter of intent. BHGP argues that the cessation of hostilities from other coaches is a powerful incentive, but I imagine that saying "no, stop contacting me" will shut even the most persistent coach up lest his persistent annoyance damage his rep for little gain. The Bylaw Blog, which is the source of the above clarification, points out that the NLI is essentially never enforced in the event of a coaching change (see: Alex Legion) and that this makes a trend towards signing only the grant-in-aid moot. This is mostly true. The stigma from holding a guy against his will is in most cases not worth the player. But there are instances in which a player is forced into a situation he's not a fan of: Iowa signee Ben Brust has been released from his LOI but as a result of his signing he cannot receive athletic aid from a Big Ten school. Also, it's widely suspected that Michael Beasley was not released when the Hugginsbot bolted for West Virginia—which is probably why Demarcus Cousins wanted that clause in his LOI that allowed him to be released in the event of a coaching change.
We'll see one-and-dones, who are committing to a coach, pull the Knight trick more often than not starting now. You never know when your coach is going to have to get out of Dodge before the law rolls in.
The weirdest draft in the world. …is the OHL draft, where talent often has little to do with how high a player goes because of the omnipresent threat that your draft pick might not report if they've got a college option. It is this week, and with Michigan commits and targets peppering first round mock drafts it promises to be of interest. To pick a couple representative mock drafts at random:
- #3-ish F Matia Marcantuoni. Marcantuoni is supposed to be the top overall pick in the drat but is widely rumored to have a deal with Oshawa under the table. The Wolverine has repeatedly said he will go to Michigan if he goes the college route. That looks doubtful.
- #13-ish F Boo Nieves. (commit) The linked site says he's "likely" to play in the OHL next year but I doubt that intel given the extremely pro-college stance Nieves has maintained (there's "no question" he's going to college). A possible complication: Nieves did not get picked for the NTDP, which surprised many. With the USHL as strong as it is these days that shouldn't matter much, but if Nieves does go in the first round it's time to start fretting. Other sources leave him out as a "wildcard."
- D Jacob Trouba. Trouba is a high end talent that would go in the first round if he had not committed to the NTDP. Michigan and Notre Dame are leading for him, with Michigan believed to have an edge.
- D Connor Carrick (commit). Carrick was on a bunch of lists as a mid-first rounder earlier but does not appear in the latest mocks because his Michigan commitment is supposed to be solid. He is also committed to the NTDP.
- G Dalton Izyk. Izyk doesn't appear either despite his status as one of the best available 2012 goaltenders; he is a Nieves teammate and someone Michigan will be pursuing heavily. His parents are reportedly adamantly pro-college.
Bonus hockey recruiting: The Hockey News has a profile of Stefan Matteau, the son of Stephane Matteau. Matteau has accepted a spot on the NTDP and is presumed to be on his way to college. There is mutual interest there. Cedar Rapids F and 2011 recruit Derek Deblois gets scouted; I'll have a fuller profile of Deblois and the incoming recruits later in the summer.
Etc.: Some TV station announced that Missouri to the Big Ten was a "done deal." It is not. Ironically, the twit who started the Pitt-to-Big-Ten panic by lending credibility to a Bleacher Report article has the gall to write a sarcastic piece about the "new journalism" of echo-chamber sources. Six Zero has started a series of mgouser profiles with the local recruiting demigod.
John Beilein and his assistants met with press today to give the season a final wrap, introduce Bacari Alexander, and look forward to the future. Notes:
John Beilein on Bacari Alexander & the Staff
- Beilein reached out to a few people regarding the coaching vacancy, but Bacari Alexander was the best fit. He's the total package as a teacher of the game. Whenever there are changes on a staff, it's an opportunity to address issues.
- Since Michigan's big men have no game experience, it's important to have their position coach be a teacher of fundamentals.
- As part of the process of interviewing Bacari Alexander, he worked out with Patrick Beilein while the current assistants watched.
- The coaching staff has good chemistry, with all having a familiarity in the Big Ten footprint for recruiting, but also able to recruit nationally. Alexander brings a strong in-state connection.
- Beilein hasn't made a lot of progress on selecting a new administrative assistant (Jerry Dunn left the coaching staff at the same time as John Mahoney), but it's possible that he could be a former coach. There's also a chance some of the responsibilities change between that role and the video coordinator.
- Bacari will have to get in shape to bang with the big guys in practice. He's going to be a hands-on coach. He can help the team increase their physical play when they need it.
- So far, Alexander hasn't had a chance to get into the groove in Ann Arbor. He's still acclimatizing to the new surroundings. It's "exciting" to be a part of the Michigan program.
- Alexander was coached by fellow assistant Mike Jackson when he played at University of Detroit Mercy. Said Alexander: "We've had a lot of good times together, hopefully a lot more."
- Alexander has always enjoyed sweating with the players in practice. He can demonstrate things, instead of just describing them.
- It is both exciting and challenging to have such a young group of big men to coach. Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford were specifically mentioned.
- There is a lot of parity nowadays in Division 1 basketball. The mid-majors have good coaches, and veteran mid-major teams can compete with programs that have one-and-done talent.
- There's a lot more information out there about recruiting than there was in Alexander's day. The internet experts aren't always accurate. With the rise of AAU ball, there's less of an emphasis on educating the players.
Beilein on Other Stuff
- Ground will be broken on the new basketball practice facility May 10th. Within 17 months, that project and Crisler upgrades should be in place.
- As Big Ten expansion goes, Beilein doesn't know much about the finances and marketing, but he trusts the university presidents and Jim Delaney to do the right thing for the current Big Ten schools. "If we expand, it's going to be with the right universities."
- The Ohio State loss in the Big Ten Tournament hurt, but nearly every season ends with a loss. The players and coaches need to get over it and move on.
- Manny and DeShawn are still around campus. Both are training very hard to prepare for the next level.
- DeShawn Sims, Anthony Wright, Zack Gibson, and CJ Lee will be graduating this weekend.
- Beilein's nephew, captain Joseph Ludick, is one of the pilots for Marine One, the presidential helicopter. He'll be in Ann Arbor this weekend to fly President Obama.
[Ed: Also on the site: Barry Larkin's press conference.]
For Ohio State week, We get to have a bit more "vicious" in the vicious electronic questioning. Not only is Chris Webb, of Buckeye State Baseball and the BuckeyeNine, one of the bloggers who has been around for a while, but he's also one who I keep up with on a near daily basis during the season. So the familiarity breeds comfort with making fun of him and the Buckeyes in such a public space.
So without further adieu, let's get to the Q&A:
Describe your season in 3 sentences.
Rocky but expected. It's better to be 3 words than 3 sentences. Was told if you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything. Whoops that is 3 sentences after all.
Plead the fifth.
Yeah, I'm sure losing to a pair of teams with a total of ZERO scholarship athletes has to be rough. So glad Ohio State could show us that.
What's the chances of Alex Wimmers making me post pictures of otters on Friday? We're not going to be no-hit again are we? [Ed: con't after the jump.]
|Lexington, Ohio - 5'10" 165
||Scout||3*, #109 CB|
|Rivals||3*, NR, 47th in Ohio|
|ESPN||78, #33 CB|
|Other Suitors||Wisconsin, Michigan State, Cincinnati|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post.|
|Notes||Has a brother Terry. In three days he's gonna marry.|
That's junior year stuff. Senior year footage at Scouting Ohio.
Terrence Talbott's mother had a very busy year in the early 90s during which she gave birth to two brothers nine months and one day apart. Dealing with an infant while pregnant seems like an epic timesink—can't say I've personally experienced it, but I'm harried enough with zero kids, inside or out—so perhaps it's understandable that the Talbott family didn't pore over available baby names. When the time came to name the second child, they stuck with what they knew: Terry, basically.
Both grew up to become Division I-A football prospects, and in late summer last year both committed to Michigan. Thus was created one of the greatest nameplate dilemmas of the century. Will Michigan go with Terry Talbott's entire name? What about Terrance? "Ence"? Will one be T. Talbott and the other Talbott? Will Jon Falk just throw his hands up and forgo any attempt to distinguish between the two, figuring that six inches and 100 pounds is better than a few letters on the back of a jersey anyway?
We'll have to wait until at least the UConn game to find out, and unless you can peer at the players stuck deep on the bench from your seat the wait could be considerably longer. Terrence Talbott, the younger defensive back discussed here, has suffered an array of injuries during his high school career. That combined with a general lack of size and recruiting hype suggests a redshirt beckons.
In fact, Talbott has a recruiting profile almost identical to Courtney Avery: one site sees him a borderline four star. The others are unimpressed. Here, though, Scout is the skeptic and ESPN, which gave Avery a MAC-like 73, rates Talbott a 78. That's the same grade given MSU four-star Mylan Hicks (amongst a host of other four-star-ish recruits the average reader is less familiar with) and solidly within the top 20 the state of Ohio. That's a considerable difference from Rivals (#47) or JJ Huddle (#96!).
Here are ESPN's reasons for optimism($):
Talbott is an explosive, well-rounded corner who is active around the ball in both run and pass support. Lacks great size but masks it well with his hard playing style. Has good defensive back savvy, instincts and ball skills. Displays good footwork and sharp stop-start skill mirroring receivers tightly off the line and out of their breaks. We like his zone scheme skill-set and understanding of the concept. Expertly reads the quarterback, soundly anticipates the pass and times his break precisely. Closes on the ball fast and shows good short-area burst jumping and often undercutting perimeter routes. Sharp out of his underneath breaks with good plant and drive skill and explosion out of his pedal. Demonstrates good leaping skills and athleticism defending the deep ball.
In sum, Talbott is "undersized, yet athletic" and ESPN figures he can be a "solid underneath corner" in college.
Despite the vast difference in their ranking of Talbott, Scout's scouting report is nearly identical:
Talbott is a true cover corner with great hips and the willingness to come up and hit against top competition level. While some question his height, his ability to go up against taller receivers have never been a problem as Talbott has a great vertical leap and is fluid in going from coverage to battle a receiver for the ball. …
Great cover corner prospect who could be one of the best in Ohio for the Class of 2010. Must show he can stay in good health but the sky is the limit.
They follow that by naming him the #109 corner in the country. If you're seeing the three stars next to his name and asking yourself "just how many corners did Scout give three stars?" the answer is a whopping 122, not counting JUCOs. Sucks to be #123 (Middle Tennessee commit Chris Sharpe).
And here's his coach providing a similar assessment:
"He's a true cover guy. He's a great open field tackler with an unbelievable amount of athletic ability. He has a 38-39 inch vertical. He has a lot of great things going for him."
The book on Talbott: short, smart, agile, excellent in coverage but needs a year or two to bulk up for college. A couple of impressive combines echo the agility bit. This one was from before his junior year:
“Terrence ran a 4.47 forty and a 4.08 shuttle at Ohio State last weekend,” said Jay Hooten of Fast Twitch Performance who trains the Huber Heights Wayne cornerback. “Let’s just say he turned some heads with his times and I feel he’ll continue to do well as he’s worked hard and is 100-percent healthy. …
Hooten, who was an assistant strength coach at Ohio State for five years, feels Talbott’s future is bright and one of the best athletes he’s worked with. Often he compares Talbott’s physical tools to that of former Buckeye Chris Gamble.
That's a bizarre comparison since Gamble is a huge cornerback at 6'1" and 200 pounds, but if he's got the same sort of mobility as Gamble that would be excellent.
Depending on how you look at it, Talbott's propensity to get injured is either a reason he might be underrated or a worrying flaw. After losing much of his sophomore year to injury, Talbott missed the first couple games of his senior year—including, unfortunately, the one Tim made it to—with an ankle injury that lingered through much of the season. I tend towards the former since cornerback is not a position that requires a ton of pounding and none of Talbott's injuries were the variety that tend to recur.
As for Talbott's recruitment, he picked up early offers from Michigan State and Wisconsin and by the time he committed he'd added a few additional BCS offers—Cincinnati, Illinois, Kentucky, UConn, and Purdue along with Michigan. That's a solid list notably devoid of heavyweights. He and his brother picked Michigan in mid-August; Terrence was adamant he was going to Michigan even as his brother flirted with North Carolina late in the recruiting year.
Why Todd Howard? Not a strong comparison here since Michigan hasn't had a whole lot of diminutive corners over the past decade. Howard is about as close as it gets to the same physical stature. He was also excellent in coverage until the instant he was supposed to make a play on the ball; hopefully Talbott will be able to get his head around more than twice in his career.
Early in the third quarter Wayne defensive back Terrence Talbott intercepted West quarterback John Peters and returned it to the Firebirds’ 32-yardline. That set up Miller’s 6-yard TD run and a 14-10 Wayne lead with 9:37 left in the third quarter. Talbott added a second interception late in the period.
"(Talbott) works real hard at the weight room and in practice,” Miller said. “He stays after practice and works by himself on the Jugs machine. He’s going to be a good player.”
Guru Reliability: Low. Big spread, lots of injuries.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-ish. A smattering of good offers, with Wisconsin being the most encouraging, and the ESPN ranking are positives. Size and general "eh" from the recruiting sites bring down the excitement level.
Projection: Redshirt if Dorsey makes it in. If Dorsey doesn't, Talbott is more likely to see the field than Avery since he's spent more time at his college position and is praised for his understanding of the position in scouting reports. Will be thrown into the corner melee after the graduation of Woolfolk. Hopefully a guy you don't rely on until he's an upperclassman, at which point he may or may not develop into a starter.