Over the past five years I've watched a lot of football plays over and over until I understood them (or threw my hands up and asked the peanut gallery). The play I've seen more than any other in that time is the zone stretch. DeBord ran almost literally nothing else, and it was the most common play in the RR offense's first two years. Though Michigan's gone away from it with Denard, boy do I have the zone stretch down.
This is not a zone stretch. It's a power off tackle QB run where the nearside guard pulls (AKA "down g") and the guys on the outside block down. But it does demonstrate a key element of defending outside runs of any variety where cutbacks are possibly lethal.
It's the first play of Michigan's fourth drive of the day. MSU has just scored a 61-yard touchdown on a zone stretch cutback that we'll address later. It's first and ten; Michigan comes out in a three-wide package with Stephen Hopkins as the back. The first shot is a little early; Robinson drops back so Hopkins is at stretch depth.
The key guy here is somewhat unusual given the play: the backside DE. He's to the top of the screen:
On the snap Michigan sends Robinson to the strong side of the formation:
Key bits in the frame above: Webb and Lewan are blocking down on the playside DE and DT as Schilling pulls around. Hopkins is sprinting out as a lead blocker, leaving Schilling and Hopkins taking on the two playside LBs; Molk has to cut the WLB.
In the next frame Molk has gotten out on the WLB. Schilling has gotten shoved back by that playside DT, which we can't see yet but will in the next frame. The backside DE has read the direction of the play and is in the process of releasing from Dorrestein:
Molk chops the WLB. He's dead. Webb has crushed the playside DE inside. There's major gap. Problem: Robinson has basically caught Schilling already because of the shove from the DT:
…he's now a yard in front of Denard and not moving forward. This is the equivalent of being behind Denard.
Meanwhile, the backside DE has totally disengaged from Dorrestein by giving ground and is taking a pursuit angle slightly downfield. Dorrestein is caught up in the wash closer to the LOS, demonstrating why you give ground in pursuit. You can watch him get slightly further and further from the LOS as he flows down the line:
In the next frame Hopkins gets a good block on the OLB. Schilling is now a yard behind Robinson and useless, leaving a one-on-one matchup between Denard and Greg Jones:
Robinson jukes past the over-pursuing Jones. He has room to do this because the playside DT is off the screen upfield and the playside DE is still trying to get off Webb's excellent block. He is one step from cutting back outside and turning on the afterburners when…
The backside defensive end, now four yards off the LOS and running his ass off, makes a desperation lunge. Robinson trips and the gain is held down to seven yards.
[No video yet since I'm still converting.]
- Denard: pretty good at running. The vaunted Jones looked like Ezeh here.
- Backside DE pursuit is important. It goes like this: diagnose run play headed away from you. Get playside of your blocker by releasing from him and flowing down the line of scrimmage at an angle that takes you about three yards downfield by the time you hit the point of attack. Hope someone funnels the ballcarrier to you and tackle.
Without the backside DE doing this correctly, Denard has 15, 20, maybe 60 yards.
- Why no cut from Dorrestein? In frames two and three it seems obvious that Dorrestein can get an easy cut block on the DE, eliminating him. Instead he tries to flow down the line with him, gets caught up in the wash, and loses the guy who eventually makes the tackle. I'm sure he's coached to do this, but I can't understand why the play doesn't call for an easy cut block on this guy. Even one step of delay and Robinson is off.
- Webb is a major component of the run game. He's got a fairly easy block since MSU is intent on the inside zone and the belly and whatnot so the backside guys are attempting to slant into the gaps inside of the blockers. Even so he drives the DE way, way inside and holds that block long enough for Robinson to make up for the shove that eliminated Schilling from the play.
- This play is a counter to the inside zone. I stole my thunder on this one in the last bullet but to reiterate: Michigan was running a ton of inside zone on which the backside DE was contain and the backside DT was blasted off the ball by double teams. MSU made an adjustment on Michigan's previous drive—the three and out on which Smith was stuffed on an inside zone on third and one—and Michigan comes out on their next play with this. They get the playside linemen blocked way out of the play and the WLB cut; they should have two lead blockers for Robinson against two guys but for the shove on Schilling. Even though they lose one of the lead blockers the linemen have been bludgeoned out of the play to the extent that Robinson can juke Jones to the inside and still pick up a good gain.
- Hopkins pops guys. This is not a surprise since he's 230 pounds of near-fullback, but Stephen Hopkins has displayed superior blocking ability in his brief cameos. He gets in people and shoves them back; Smith and to a lesser extent Shaw get in the way of people and hope it's enough. I want more Hopkins. He makes Denard better and provides a thunderous counter to all that dilithium.
- This was the story of the first half. This is one of maybe a dozen plays on which one player fails to execute and costs Michigan a touchdown. Here it was Dorrestein and somewhat Schilling; Robinson made up for one of them but not the other. Other times it was Lewan or Robinson or Roundtree or Grady. I think this was just one of those days. So far I've seen mostly domination from the offensive line. I wonder what changes in a rougher second half.
SON OF A. I should have read this message board post before I posted the game column. Here's some car vandalism from the weekend that would have been a perfect insert:
This is what happens when you drop your vandalism major.
Thanks, Les. The Les Miles misery machine managed to bump Michigan below the fold in TWIS…
…so thanks for that. The Michigan section is devoid of anything like dong-punching, but only thanks to this guy and his rageohol:
This is not me. I was in the stadium one row behind an adorable child. I swear it.
Penn State implosion explanation, implications. How did Illinois run for almost 300 yards against Penn State's normally tough defense? It was the second string D:
- Linebacker Gerald Hodges: Missed his fourth game with a hairline fracture but has begun running.
- Defensive end Jack Crawford: Foot injury, spent game on crutches on the sideline, might need surgery, Paterno said.
- Linebacker Mike Mauti: Missed game with a high ankle sprain.
- Linebacker Bani Gbadyu: Knee injury.
- [Ed: these two are my additions.] Defensive end Sean Stanley: suspended for violations of team rules.
- Cornerback Derrick Thomas: suspended for violations of team rules.
- Defensive end Eric Latimore: Sustained wrist injury on first play, could be out for an extended period.
- Defensive back Nick Sukay: Possible torn pectoral muscle, also could be out for a while.
- Defensive end Pete Massaro: Treated for dehydration symptoms and played with an injured left quadriceps.
- Defensive back Andrew Dailey: Sustained possible stinger on helmet-to-helmet hit in second half.
- Defensive tackle Jordan Hill: Aggravated previous ankle injury.
That's eleven guys from the two-deep, all of whom have seen significant playing time. Michigan plays Penn State in three weeks. It sounds like Sukay, Latimore, and Crawford will definitely be out. Mauti and Hodges could be out, too, and who knows what's with Stanley and Thomas. If it's serious enough for them to miss two games it's 50-50 they'll miss four.
While that sucks for PSU that opens the ever-widening window of opportunity Michigan has in Happy Valley. That will be a critical game for Rich Rodriguez unless Michigan pulls off the upset against Iowa, in which case it will only be a very important game.
The vault. MGoVideo has put a bunch of old newsreels from the 50s and 60s on the tubes. I linked one on the sidebar yesterday that didn't end so well. None of them actually end that well, though, since they're reels from the 50s, when Michigan was no good. The best I can do is a 6-2-1 Michigan keeping the Brown Jug in 1949:
Other hat-laden newsreels covering:
- The 1951 Minnesota game, a 54-27 win over a turrible Gopher team.
- Football yearbooks in 1957 (5-3-1, losses to very good MSU and OSU teams), 1958 (2-6-1 bler), 1959 (4-5), and 1965 (4-6).
Newsreels only covered mediocre to terrible Michigan teams, evidently.
While we're idling in the 40s and 50s, a reader sent along this 1947 Time article on Crisler's Mad Magicians that sounds strikingly similar to what's going on around these parts sixty years later:
Michigan's 1947 Wolverines are a good bet to be the second team in Michigan's history to play in Pasadena's Tournament of Roses. They have been rated the nation's best. They are as unlike Fielding ("Hurry-Up") Yost's old-time Michigan teams as modern design can make them. There are no roughcast iron men on Michigan's 1947 squad. It is a collection of chrome-plated, hand-tooled specialists. Some never get a chance to make a tackle, others never throw a block. Usually none stays in a game long enough to work up as much sweat as the radio announcer, who tries to keep track of them as they trot on & off.
Michigan's shrewd Coach Fritz Crisler has taken advantage of the unlimited substitution rule. In the first four games of the season, Crisler's team used everyone but the water boy, and averaged 55 points a game.
The way they did it was something to behold. Lacking brawn, they have to be nimble. And jack-nimble is what they are —and as well-drilled as the Rockettes.
And if they had sports talk radio back then someone would call in to grouse about how this team is soft and doesn't compare to what all they had in dickety-two when Michigan beat back the Kaiser and called it a day. It's crazy that Crisler invented platooning—that anyone had to say "hey, now, maybe I should get people off the field from time to time." Also he said this:
"Confound it, if you want to be sensational, bounce the ball, turn a somersault, then pick it up and run."
This is exactly what Rodriguez says to Mike Cox.
Also, things were slightly more relaxed in 1947 when it came to everything. 24 year-old star Robert Chappius is described as such:
At the Phi Delt house, where he is president for the second year, he is a sharp bridge player and a whizz at cribbage. His card sense helps augment his G.I. allotment and the $50 a month he gets from his dad, who is an executive in a Toledo, O., porcelain-products company. On the practice field, Chappuis is very "coachable," which is exceptional in a senior. Chappuis learns easily, just as he does in the classroom, where he makes a C-plus average seemingly without ever opening a book.
Gambling! C+ averages despite never opening books! Coachable despite being a senior! In 1947 anything short of stabbing a man was good, and even that might be okay if the guy seemed German.
Iowa injury bits. Starting MLB Jeff Tarpinian is questionable. He played a little bit early in the Penn State game but left with an assortment of stingers, sending senior Troy Johnson into the lineup. Johnson got a "minor" concussion and was replaced by freshman James Morris.
So who is it this week? The Hawkeye depth chart lists Johnson first and Morris second—no Tarpinian. Everyone else save the battered tailback corps, now Adam Robinson and some freshmen, should be ready to go.
Firin' talk moratorium notification. This was inevitably going to happen after the first loss and it has happened so a note to emailers and whoever else: I'm not going to speculate on whether or not Rodriguez should or will be fired when there are six important data points coming up in the next month and a half.
Etc.: MGoUser tomcat sits next to TX LB recruit Kellen Jones on his flight home from Houston, reports back that he's a nice guy serious about academics. More MSU postgame from Dreaded Judgment and Genuinely Sarcastic; the latter is seriously overheated. I'm not sure what the Hoover Street Rag is talking about in theirs.
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.
New Commit FL RB Demetrius Hart
In Dr. Phillips's preseason game, Hart rushed for a touchdown, while taking 10 carries for 106 yards. Or was it 76 yards, with 108 in returns? It was just an exhibition, so I won't be a stickler for accuracy, though the DP website says 10 carries for 86 yards and 3 receptions for 9 yards. If you're a Scout subscriber, you can see the highlights from that game.
Edgewater keyed on Demetrius Hart, but with an Alabama coach watching DP's scatback still generated 75 yards on 20 carries and boosted his school scoring record with the 39th and 40th touchdowns of his career.
Was nothing to write home about by his lofty standards. Another postgame column by the Sentinel:
[Hart] was the object of most of Edgewater's defensive attention but still managed to rush for 75 yards and pad his school scoring record with his 39th and 40th career TDs.
So: nice. For the record, the Dr. Phillips website (which I'll use for stats since it's a consistent source) credits him with 79 yards on the ground.
In Game 2 against Osceola, Hart ran 19 times for 96 yards and three TDs. The Sentinel has highlights:
The DP website says Hart also had three receptions for 47 yards.
Hart carried 18 times for 224 yards and scored on runs of 17, 7, and 88. He added a fourth TD on a 33-yard pass from junior quarterback Nick Patti, who threw for four scores.
"It was a great effort," Hart said. "We had a lot of minor distractions. We came together to win."
Hart, a 5-9, 185-pound bottle rocket of a back who is being recruited by Alabama, Michigan and Auburn, came in needing 127 yards to break Al Gilreath's 20-year-old school career rushing record of 2,230 yards. He surpassed that mark in the third quarter and zoomed past the 200 plateau for the first time this season with his long breakaway scoring scamper that made it 49-0 with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Hart also ran his DP career records for TDs up to 48, points to 288, and all-purpose yards to over 4,500.
"All that means is win a state championship," Hart said, brushing aside talk of his individual accolades.
:swoons:. Yet again, video evidence (hide the women and children, it's gory):
In Game 4, Dr. Phillips smacked Cypress Creek 52-0. Hart ran for 168 yards (and four touchdowns) on just 14 attempts. Through four games, the Orlando Sentinel pegged him as the second-best offensive performer in Central Florida (despite doing more scoring and totaling almost as much offense as a quarterback in #1 Jeff Driskel. I'm sure it's just a coincidence that they picked a Gator commit as the #1 offensive performer).
After a bye week, Game 5 saw Dr. Phillips go up against Boone. Demetrius committed to the Wolverines immediately after rushing for 145 yards in a 45-0 romp. He also had 122 receiving yards, and 4 total touchdowns. There's all sorts of video from the game, with the above link containing highlights, along with a Brighthouse Sports Network (who televised the game) postgame wrapup. In addition, thanks to an awesome mgoblog reader who wished to remain anonymous, enjoy every carry by Hart:
Weeeeee MICH again.
|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 travels to Evans on Friday at 7:30.
FL QB Kevin Sousa
Last week: Lake Nona fell to Auburndale 35-31. The Lions' offense finally came alive, jumping out to a 28-7 lead before the defense faltered down the stretch. Sousa's coach told TomVH that Sousa's breakout performance led to the offensive output, with 13/20 passing for 197 yards and 3 TDs, and 17 carries for 150 yards and a touchdown.
A couple of big weeks in a row finally have Sousa's season numbers looking a bit more respectable. Keep in mind he's doing this despite a porous offensive line, and without his top receiver.
|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 Celebration on Friday at 7:30pm.
MI WR Shawn Conway
|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 hosts Ferndale Friday at 7.
OH OL Jack Miller
Last week: St. John's crushed Ecorse (MI) 49-6.
This week: St. John's hosts Clay Friday at 7.
FL OL Tony Posada
Last week: Plant beat Gaither 24-16. The game was closer than expected with Plant's star RB James Wilder unavailable. No word on whether Posada played for the Panthers.
This week: Plant hosts Spoto on Friday.
MI OL Jake Fisher
West went up 14 in the second quarter after a Saunders 3-yard run and a Kenny 24-yard pass to Jake Fisher... Petoskey answered with a Josh Daniel 19-yard score, but Fisher blocked the extra point...
Fisher returned an onside kick to the Petoskey 6 and Saunder ran it in for a touchdown one play later for the final score.
This week: TC West plays at Alpena Friday at 7pm.
OH DE Chris Rock
Last week: DeSales is dismantled by St. Edward 0-62.
This week: DeSales faces Bishop Watterson Friday at 7:30 at Crew Stadium..
MI DE/LB Brennen Beyer
"No. 1 was probably Brennen (Beyer) coming off the edge," said [Canton QB Ben] Merbler. "He's a great player and we were concerned about keeping him taken care of."
This week: Plymouth hosts Adrian on Friday at 6:30.
TX LB Kellen Jones
Last week: St. Pius X beat Kelly 28-0. Jones told Tom that he had 18 tackles, 7 for loss, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble.
|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|
This week: St. Pius travels to Houston Christian on Friday at 7:30.
OH CB/S Greg Brown
Last week: Fremont Ross defeated Marion Harding 22-17:
The Little Giants were held without much success offensively until the 4:25 mark, when sophomore quarterback Tyler Wolf hooked up with Brown on an 83-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline, and Brown ran in the two-point conversion to make the score 10-8...
With 3:47 left on the clock in the third quarter, Brown ran 27 yards up the middle out of the shotgun to score...
Brown led Ross with 138 yards of total offense and two touchdowns in the game, rushing for 58 yards on nine carries to go with his two receptions for 80 yards.
The Fremont Ross Forum blog says:
Had it not been for a great Wolf to Brown TD pass(a thing of beauty) and a fumble recovery returned for a TD, this would have been a much different game.
Luckily the Ross defense woke up at halftime and shut down the Marion running game and the Little Giants punched in a TD on a Greg Brown 27 yard TD run.
This week: Ross travels to Napoleon on Friday.
MI CB Delonte Hollowell
Last week: Cass Tech pasted Henry Ford 54-0.
Next Week: Cass Tech plays Cody on Friday at 7:30 at Detroit Renaissance.
Dropped passes: "We were frustrated, but it happens. Unfortunately it happened in a pretty big ballgame." They'll catch some extra balls this week, and avoid it happening again. "There's nothing that happened on Saturday that's not fixable." Even the best players drop the ball sometimes.
The offense has high expectations for each week, and had more mistakes Saturday than they've probably had for the rest of the year. "We had to make some changes, and unfortunately some of those changes didn't work."
Denard was poised, but got caught in a couple situations he's not used to being in. He spoke up in the locker room after the game, and got a message across to the whole team. Said that the team had to work to avoid feeling that way again. "In his eyes, you could just see it. He's hungry."
Iowa's a great team with a great defense. "We've gotta be ready for it and we are."
"We're 5-1, not 1-5. Even though we lost to a pretty good Michigan State team in a rivalry, we've gotta move on."
"Sometimes when you're winning and everything's going perfect, we don't see the things we need to work on."
"I feel like we were doing pretty well early in the game, and they switched up some looks on us." Michigan adjusted, but wasn't able to execute as well. Being unable to get the pass game going hurt as well. "If we executed the way that we should have, it would have been more favorable on our side."
Team had grown accustomed to 500 yards of offense every week. They learned they can't just expect it, they have to work for it.
The team should respond well coming off a loss. "It's going to be something to grow from."
Iowa defense - "They have a talented front four. They have a talented defense overall." Big, strong guys on the front. "They're a sound defense. They won't throw a lot of different things at you, but they're really good at what they do."
Denard "was clearly upset after the game. We all were." He told the team that it's going to be unacceptable for them to play that poorly again.
Resolve going into this week's game. "It's a learning experience." They'll recuperate and go into the week with the same focus as last week.
"Losing is losing. Every game for us is a big game." Trying to prove that they can accomplish their goals despite setbacks.
Leaders - seniors all have to step up. "There's some things I could have done better myself."
It was hard coming in as a young guy, the freshmen this year will get it soon enough. "You just gotta bring them up to speed. The game's gonna go how the game goes." Seniors need to help keep them up to speed on the field. Off the field, they lead by example in the weight room, etc.
"We have the players to defend anybody that we play. It just comes down to execution and keeping a clear focus."
"We aren't blind to the fact that we have some glaring weaknesses, but we're working hard to get on those."
Ryan Van Bergen
"We just didn't play gap-sound football" against the run. Guys were trying to make plays in the wrong gaps.
Hard for the young guys to come in without seniors to teach them the ropes in the secondary. "I think that as they grow, the defense is gonna get better and better." That improvement can happen from week-to-week. Once a couple different guys "click," the defense should be good.
In the locker room after the game, Coach Rod said that one loss can't deter the team from their goals. There's a lot of season left. "We still have a lot of opportunities to prove ourselves as a good team."
Fewer injuries than last year, losing Molk was a big deal. The losses started snowballing. This year, the seniors have made the underclassmen understand that there can't be a letdown.
Molk and Schilling, Roundtree, Denard are offensive leaders. All three D linemen, Jonas and Obi "try their best." And Craig. J.T. Floyd and Jordan Kovacs are the leaders at DB.
"I'm very confident in the gameplan." They knew what Michigan State was going to run, and that's what made it so disappointing, because they knew what was coming. "We were prepared for it all week, and unfortunately we just didn't get it done when it came time."
Notes from Rich Rodriguez's Monday meeting with the press.
Mike Martin and David Molk sprained ankles [Ed: PANIC!!!!], but both both should be fine [Ed: Cease PANIC]. Martavious Odoms broke his foot, no word on how long he's out other than "extended." James Rogers's injury against MSU was just cramps.
Carvin Johnson was a bit physically limited this past week, and his knee brace has been a hindrance. He'll be a bit better this week. "I don't know when he can take that brace off - I'm sure he wants to take it off today - but the trainers and doctors will determine that.
Shaw was still a little less than 100% against MSU. He should be 100% this week.
Toussaint - Won't be able to play this week. Rotator cuff injury, doesn't need surgery but does need rest. "I don't think it's mental at all. It's just bad luck." Reminds him of Brandon Minor.
Teaching Moments - "Probably we have a lot more teaching moments than I'd like, for sure, out of that ballgame." Team was just off in execution. State had something to do with that, but some were their own mistakes. D - "Our young guys are gonna make mistakes, but we've gotta get better fundamentally." Need to remember fundamentals, not just game prep, etc.
Didn't think there were more designed handoffs than there were earlier in the year. "They were playing us a certain way in the beginning, so there were probably more runs for the backs."
Dropped passes, a couple missed reads from Denard. Can't do that against a good opponent. More dropped passes in that game than there probably was the rest of the season.
Did MSU try new things to confuse Denard? "No. Not that I've seen and that we saw on film."
MSU D - "They've got good players; they played well. They moved their front some and they brought their safeties down. I thought they tackled pretty well and broke on the ball well."
Great support at the University, friends, family, colleagues. "Everybody wants the same thing here," and nobody's happy with a loss. "We lost to Michigan State, what, you wanna hang me off the building now? I mean, there might be a few people who want to do that, but that's the same people that probably wanted to do that after the first five games too, they just weren't saying it publicly."
After Denard's picks, RR talked to him about what he saw, and he got on the phone to coach Magee - but they do that on good plays as well.
"We didn't execute as well. They had something to do with that and we had something to do with that as well." Moving the ball on the ground.
Mixing up defensive personnel - "In the secondary, our only change is more freshmen playing... ready or not, here they are." Mike Jones would have played a lot at linebacker if he wasn't out for the season. "We'll see what happens this week in practice" as far as personnel changes at linebacker - need more production.
Denard very competitive, may have been pressing too much. "This is his first year as a starter... in all reality, he should be a redshirt freshman but he he had to play some last year. We're not going to panic." He's made tremendous strides from last year, and he'll be even better in the next couple years.
Younger guys typically aren't team leaders, but Denard is one still. "I'm not overly concerned with guys taking charge in the locker room and all that." Only need to worry about weak leadership when effort and focus wane, which hasn't been an issue.
Cullen Christian, Courtney Avery, and Terrence Talbott would be redshirting if there were enough numbers: "No question." They've been forced into duty this year and are growing up. "To play this many true freshmen on defense at this level, it doesn't happen very often."
"Some of the issues we have aren't gonna get solved overnight. We've just gotta minimize them the best we can, so we can still win ballgames."
Talent issues on D - "We're not as talented maybe as we'd like to be or we're gonna be." It's not just about recruiting, but also development - 4-5 true freshmen in the secondary, plus Carvin Johnson, Jibreel Black. They haven't had a chance to be developed yet. "Our development part with them and development of them in the weight room, and the development of them learning the system in college football and everything that goes on with that" can't happen until spring.
Team is resolved after a loss - their focus has been good, they'll be resilient and move forward instead of dwelling. Sometimes younger guys can move on quicker. No new leaders develop after a loss like this. "I'm not too much worried about that. I'm worried about them fixing what we need to fix and executing better."
"We've gotta be able to be patient." Don't want to press too much if they aren't having immediate success on offense. Need to remember to take care of the ball and make better decisions. "You've gotta be more decisive in your execution, and not try to force things."
Talks with defensive coaches about schemes, and a bit of fundamentals. "I'm obviously a lot more involved with the offense." Doesn't want to get spread too thin with all three phases of the ball. The coaches are frustrated that they aren't making the progress they want, but there are little signs of improvement.
Scheme has been simplified as much as possible to help the young guys. "If you're too simple, they'll find a way to go against you." You have to be more multiple. Iowa is one of the few teams that's able to beat you using mostly one defensive scheme.
Recruiting class to develop needs "We feel that's going really well." Particularly on defense: "This recruiting class will help us get those numbers... to that end." There's another 9-10-11 spots in the recruiting class, looking at positions where they're lacking depth.
Recruiting - Last couple classes were negatively impacted by drama around the program, but the coaches did a great job. "There's a lot of negative recruiting that goes on - and we've got a great thing to sell - but you've still got to fight it and our coaches have done a good job."
Doesn't want his coaches to fight fire with fire in negative recruiting "I'd rather just sell all the good things we have here." Will compare things like schemes, but doesn't talk negatively about other institutions. "It's not as bad in our league, in the Big Ten, than it is in other leagues."
"Sometimes you have a guy that comes into your program and he's on scholarship and maybe he didn't turn out to be as good or able to play at the level you want, but he does everything else right. You're not gonna boot him off your team for that reason."
Iowa has a veteran D, they have had two weeks to get ready for M. They're a great defense. "Their front four is as good as anybody's in the country." They'll occasionally blitz, but they don't need to in order to get pressure.
"Big physical team, Stanzi's an experienced guy, they've got some really explosive wide receivers. They're very good, and I think they're a top ten team in the country."
"We've got two really good tight ends in Webb and Koger. They're experienced guys." They've been playing well. "Their toughest challenge [blocking] comes this week" against Adrian Clayborn and the rest of Iowa's front.
In addition to game prep, the bye week will be used a lot to work fundamentals, particularly with young guys. This will be a normal week of game prep for Iowa.
Will watch film of last year's game against Iowa. Iowa has had two weeks to prepare though, and gotten a head start on preparation.
Will Iowa's run game mean more 4-man fronts? "We've got the ability to do that. We've done that a bit in every game." The key is to still be able to get off blocks, no matter how many linemen you have.
This was a big weekend for visitors, and although Michigan lost no one was disappointed with their trip. Michigan hosted three prospects on official visits, Kellen Jones (commit), Marquise Williams, and Devondrick Nealy. Here are reactions from Jones and Nealy followed by updates on a few defensive(!) prospects.
5'10", 175 lbs.
Slot Receiver/Running Back
Jefferson County, Florida
This was Devondrick's first official visit of the season. He's headed off to Minnesota next, believe it or not. He was excited before hand to make it up to Ann Arbor, and the visit seemed to exceed his expectations.
The visit was tremendous. I didn't commit, but it was close though. After this visit Michigan is my top school, for sure. Everything they have to offer outside of the football program was incredible. They broke down the academics part and it was great. I could really see myself at Michigan. The excitement came from the football program, but I was also excited about everything outside of football they have there.
So good luck Minnesota. Nealy now has Michigan at the top of his list followed by (in no order) Minnesota, Arkansas, and Auburn. He will take all five of his official visits and make his decision once they're done. Anything can happen, but it's good to get the early lead. I was also told by someone recently that Nealy had befriended now Michigan commit Demetrius Hart at a camp in Florida. Nealy apparently likes Demetrius, and likes the idea of being a tandem on offense with him as well.
6'2", 215 lbs.
St. Pius X, Texas
Current Michigan commit Kellen Jones came up for an official visit by himself to see more of the social side of the program. He was able to take that in and get to know some of the players a little better.
The visit was fantastic, despite the fact that Michigan lost of course. We hung out with Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner. It was cool to do that, I really like those guys. Denard said he hates losing, and if we wouldn't have been there he would just be by himself in his room. They were just telling me that you can't come up here and mess around, it's all in for football and academics, and I loved that.
Kellen loves Michigan, and despite living in Texas understands the rivalries and everything about the program. This visit gave him more of a personal sense to it, and allowed him to build friendships with current players. He also got a better view of where he fits into the defense next year.
Coach Robinson was saying that they see me as a Jonas Mouton type of player. Playing sideline to sideline, maybe a little inside, and a little outside too. I got a good chance to be with the coaches which was great. Coach Barwis is always fun to be around.
Since Kellen is a current commit, and loves Michigan, he got a chance to interact with a few other recruits and get their perspective on things too.
I talked to Delonte Hollowell (commit), and he's just like me he loves Michigan. I was there with Marquise (Williams) too, and he said Coach Rodriguez has been recruiting him since he was a sophomore. He really liked the environment, I think he was having a great time. He and Devondrick both were amazed with Mike Barwis, too. They both had a really good time.
I think it was a bonus to have Kellen there on an official visit. He's a yes sir, no sir kind of kid and is always excited to talk about Michigan. It sounds like he did a little recruiting, and it may have worked.
6'0", 190 lbs.
Wayne Lyons is the number four safety in the country, and recently decided that Michigan is back in his top list with Stanford, UCLA, Florida, Tennessee, and Nebraska.
I started talking to the coaches from Michigan a lot more, and realized that they do have a true need for me. I talk to coach Dews most of the time. He tells me how it's a good place, and that I would really fit in.
Lyons has already been to Notre Dame and UCLA, he also has a visit already scheduled to Nebraska at the end of October. That leaves two spots left for an official visit, and he's still not sure if Michigan will get that visit.
I'm thinking about making that one of my official visits. They're not necessarily on the outside, they're making it in there. It's just because I've been talking to the other schools for awhile now and I've already seen the other campuses. They're coming on though.
It seems like it would be a good idea to visit Michigan if he has already seen the other campuses. Michigan is making up ground with him, and I have a good feeling about him taking a visit.
- S Karlos Williams - Karlos told coach Smith that he will be taking an official visit up to Michigan once his season is over. His situation is interesting because he's committed to FSU, where his brother plays. He always says "You never know" when I ask if there's a possibility he will decommit from the Seminoles. Some kids just tell me that they're committed and he just want to take a look. "You never know" makes me wonder. Still, it will be hard to pry him away from FSU.
- LB Sean Duggan - Sean decided to take a visit up to Michigan this weekend, and it was his first college game experience. He said the atmosphere was crazy, and it definitely helped Michigan. He's down to Michigan, Boston College, Duke, and Virginia, and will be back up to Ann Arbor in December for his official visit. Boston College is the main competition.
- S Avery Walls - Recently took a trip to Oregon and was at Cal for an official visit this weekend. He leaves Monday night, and I have a phone call scheduled with him Tuesday. This was the last visit he will take, and he should be ready to announce his decision within the next few weeks, unless something has changed that. I still think Michigan is in good position, but the Oregon visit does give some cause for concern. He ended up missing the first half of the Oregon game, FWIW.
- Here's a list of prospects Michigan is still after in the Rival's Top 250 list.
- Iowa visitors - Full list will be posted soon. Some names of who's planning on making the trip, to tide you over: DB Dallas Crawford, WR Sammy Watkins, WR AJ Jordan, TE Drew Owens, and WR Hakeem Flowers. 2012 prospects: DE Chris Wormley, RB Will Mahone, QB Demetrious Davis, WR/DB Chris Davis.