I GIVE UP ON HATING WISCONSIN
|Boundary Corner||Yr.||Field Corner||Yr.||Nickelback||Yr.|
|Blake Countess||Jr.*||Raymon Taylor||Sr.||Jabrill Peppers||Fr.|
|Jabrill Peppers||Fr.||Jourdan Lewis||So.||Blake Countess||Jr.*|
|Delonte Hollowell||Sr.||Channing Stribling||So.||Dymonte Thomas||So.|
Michigan returns their entire cornerback corps and adds Jabrill Peppers, which is kind of amazing. The top guy on the depth chart is… uh… well, it is one of four guys. Which is amazing.
This happened a lot. [Bryan Fuller]
I guess we'll start with BLAKE COUNTESS, because he's first alphabetically. Countess was on the Michigan Star Corner track after emerging as a freshman starter, and then he blew his knee up in the 2012 opener against Alabama. One medical redshirt later, Countess returned with a bucket of hype (Jabrill Peppers has a firetruck) and just about made good on it.
Countess's six interceptions were the most by a Michigan corner since Todd Howard in 2000 and are in a multi-way tie for third all time (Tom Curtis had 10 in 1968; Charles Woodson had 8 in 1997), and he led the way for a good pass defense that got little help from its pass rush and was so dissatisfied with its safety play that it started swapping them around midseason.
So why does it feel like he's been kind of a disappointment? One Tyler Lockett facecrushing will do that to you.
Countess was also just about run off the field by Devier Posey as a freshman and one of the reasons people are so hype about Freddy Canteen is that he pulled the same on Countess. He seems more vulnerable than a star should be.
But this feeling is probably not an accurate feeling. I mean, six interceptions, and again these were earned. He is a crafty gentleman well versed in baiting a quarterback to throw the deeper route in cover two only to pop up, twirl his dastardly mustache, and make off with the
dame ball. His pick at the end of the first half of the Notre Dame game was the thing preventing the later Gardner pick six from being a face-melting event:
"I thought Blake Countess was tough to play against. He's not real physical but he's one of those guys that knows what he does well and what he doesn't. And he sort of lulled us to sleep. We kept thinking that we could go at him and I think that's what he wanted because he stepped in front of two balls, picked one, and we didn't throw at him very much after that."
Opponents hate quarterbacks who feel dangerous to throw against. Countess was definitely that. If he feels like a disappointment that's because our expectations were way too high. I admit some guilt in this department. Post-Indiana:
Other than that he was probably the best guy out there. I said he'd gotten burned in the game column, but the longer Wynn touchdown was not on him. It was more on Wilson and a defense that was vulnerable to that particular play given how they aligned. He got a PBU on a corner route that was straight out of pressing Michael Floyd and living; he was close enough to bother IU receivers; he is pretty good. He's not the crazy star we thought he'd be, at least not yet.
Pretty good is pretty good for a redshirt sophomore. Countess still has considerable upside. He's got two more years in the program—prepare for him to be the Big Ten's Brooks Bollinger Memorial 8th Year Senior next year—and had his quality 2013 despite an injury that required offseason surgery:
"It was lower abdominal pain," Countess said. "(I was somewhat limited), but I played through it. Just movement. Speed. Things like that. Not anything that you guys could probably recognize, but I didn't feel like myself completely on gamedays or throughout the week.
"I had a decent season last year, but it was definitely something I voiced to my coaches and trainers."
Countess probably won't be as prolific in the interception department; he should continue getting incrementally better; if the injury issue was a real problem he could even get to that Leon Hall level. It says here that he remains a bit short of that, and plays at a second-team All Big Ten level.
[AFTER the JUMP: no Peppers, he's in the safeties. BUT LOTS OF GUYS EVEN SO!]
Roseboro Announcement: Tomorrow At 2:30
Four-star NC DL Darian Roseboro will announce his college choice tomorrow at 2:30pm ET on ESPN.com—our old friend TomVH will host the proceedings. While NC State has received some buzz, mostly from Rivals' Mike Farrell, in the last week or so, Michigan recruiting insiders are still confident Roseboro will pick U-M; Sam Webb's usually prescient gut favors the Wolverines, and I've heard from multiple sources familiar with Roseboro's recruitment that Michigan is the choice unless something changes at the last minute.
While it's not out of the question that something does in fact change—there are rumblings that Roseboro's had second thoughts about attending school that far from his Carolina home—the fear that he'd pick NC State, the almost-certain choice should it not be U-M, has decreased since Roseboro didn't make a planned visit to them last weekend.
As for what Michigan would get if Roseboro commits tomorrow, I've compiled the single-game cut-ups from his Hudl page into full junior season highlights in the video above. Apologies for some of the editing; the clips on his page weren't in high quality and had different aspect ratios depending on the game, so I did the best I could. He's #45 on the team wearing either black and yellow, all yellow, or LSU-esque white and yellow uniforms; he's also the huge guy hitting people with authority.
[Hit THE JUMP for a preview of next week's Future Blue Originals, unfortunate injury news regarding Garrett Taylor, updates on a few Michigan targets, and more.]
|STRONGSIDE LB||Yr.||MIDDLE LB||Yr.||WEAKSIDE LB||Yr.|
|James Ross||Jr.||Jake Ryan||Sr.*||Joe Bolden||Jr.|
|Royce Jenkins-Stone||Jr.||Desmond Morgan||Sr.||Desmond Morgan||Sr.|
|Allen Gant||So.*||Mike McCray||Fr.*||Ben Gedeon||So.|
Despite the move to a 4-3 over we're going to keep the convention we've had in previous years where two of the linebackers are designated "inside" and addressed together while the third gets separate mention. In both cases the WLB and the MLB are designated "inside" and the strongside backer is addressed separately. In the under it's because the SAM is half DE; in the over it's because he's half DB.
Michigan returns their entire linebacking corps save backup-ish SAM Cam Gordon, and they now have a healthy Jake Ryan instead of one fresh off an ACL tear midseason. This is good. Better still is their depth: no freshmen on this three-deep and one guy getting praised to the moon when a very solid returning starter is available. If the DL improves these guys are going to seem shockingly better.
There's just that thing about moving that guy to a place…
INSIDE LINEBACKER: CONAN IN A STRANGE LAND
please be this guy again somehow [Eric Upchurch]
Man, I do now know what to expect from JAKE RYAN this year. He was every bit the flaming meteorite your memory suggests he was in 2012. We've been talking up Willie Henry and Frank Clark based on UFR scores that were consistently positive and encouraging. Make no mistake, though: those are not star-level performances. Jake Ryan's 2012 is the last time a member of the Michigan front seven turned one of those in:
|Alabama||4.5||3.5||1||I may have not picked up some things he was doing that were bad.|
|Air Force||13||2.5||10.5||Ran up the score with +4 on final three plays. Option blame fell elsewhere.|
|UMass||8.5||-||8.5||Essentially a DE in this game.|
|Notre Dame||8.5||3||5.5||Great tackle on screen.|
|Purdue||10||-||10||I call him mini Clay Matthews.|
|Illinois||14||3||11||I call Clay Matthews mini Jake Ryan.|
|MSU||17.5||3||14.5||I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCKS|
|Nebraska||10||7.5||2.5||Got edged a lot; Nebraska used his aggression against him successfully.|
|Minnesota||14||6||8||JMFR; did get edged a couple times.|
|Northwestern||8.5||4||4.5||A bit of a quiet day, only 4 tackles, no TFLs.|
|Iowa||5.5||-||5.5||Nearly had an explosive sack.|
That is a star, and that is a guy on the verge of writing his name in sloppy red ink across college football. That's the kind of season before the season that Brandon Graham had as a senior, that Mike Martin had as a senior. Screw you, ACLs. Because that Ryan was not this Ryan:
|6||Penn State||3.5||2||1.5||…this gentleman.|
|7||Indiana||5||2||3||Coming on a bit.|
|8||MSU||6||3||3||Good until ARGH RYAN on final play, still doesn't seem all the way back.|
|9||Nebraska||4||1||3||One RYAN BACK play, but not every-down impactful yet.|
|10||Northwestern||6||3||3||Showing that crazy redirect a little more often.|
|11||Iowa||6.5||-||6.5||Created free touchdown.|
And while that's still a respectable player, I'm not into Jake Ryan because he's really respectful and mom likes him, you know? I would prefer Jake Ryan to mount his Harley and run roughshod across the league wearing a thirty-inch skull on his back. And maybe his forehead. As many skulls as possible, really. I mean, I didn't feel this quote from a 2012 Big Ten OL in 2013:
"We were watching film and our coach stopped it and said, 'Where's he at?' And it took you a second to realize he was lined up at defensive end. Then he hits the play button, and it's like the guy gets shot out of a cannon. He has speed, and he just has this ability to know where the football is and he attacks it. "
So there's that. And now he's a middle linebacker. Hooray?
Look… I can't tell you this is a great idea. The way Ryan plays is 80% chaos, 20% hair metal, and he's kind of tall and weird-shaped for middle linebacker. It's easy to envision a guard getting under his pads and taking him for a ride. And it's easy to envision him failing to funnel to his help, because at SAM your help is always very easy to figure out: inside. Chaos!
Chaos is probably not great for a MLB.
But it might not be a bad one. Ryan has taken on a lot of blocks in his time and even if he has to invent and patent ways to get rid of them, he generally does. The guy does not stay blocked.
When Michigan had problems with wide receiver screens a couple years ago they slid Ryan over the slot; problem solved. That combination of tackling and the ability to get to the productive side of a block is encouraging. It's going to be a bigger project against OL instead of TEs, but he's been a defensive end an awful lot—he's not going to be surprised.
The concern at MLB is that his tendency to shed at all costs will put him on the wrong side of a blocker. That concern is considerably less urgent than the prospect of lining up a 256-pound strongside end, but your evaluation should be in that context: this is a move about what is best for the defense as a whole, not necessarily Jake Ryan's individual fit.
That said… healthy Jake Ryan.
Healthy Jake Ryan is a menace shot out of a cannon who impacts you fiercely and rocks you back and then runs really fast at the guy with the ball. While middle linebacker may be an awkward fit, there are not many Jake Ryans out there, and when the guy is sent on a blitz, opponents are going to feel it.
It is not going to feel good.
[After THE JUMP: the Bolden Question, the Morgan Binkie, the Ross Explanation]
Hello! We haven’t spoken for a while. How are you? I am fine.
Once again this year, we will take a weekly guided journey through the inner workings of Michigan's schedule. It's like "It's a Small World," but where making fun of the various characters doesn't seem quite as ethnocentric or jingoist.
About Last Year:
The Road Ahead:
Appalachian State (0-0, 0-0 Sun Belt)
Last year: 4-8 (4-4 Southern), no bowl game because FCS. And because record.
Recap: App State is far removed from the team that won several FCS championships and did… that. They lost their only FBS matchup to Georgia 45-6, and that was in November after Georgia’s entire roster tore, sprained, and/or broke its everything. Jerry Moore is gone, as is Armanti Edwards. I think. This is not the ideal time to try to move up to whatever we’re calling the FBS now. Can we call it Division 1A again? Please?
Anywho, App State doesn’t figure to be much better this year.
This team is as frightening as: The glass floor of the Sears Tower Skydeck. Sure, there’s almost no chance you’ll fall through. We live in a society based around certain principles that make it almost impossible to find yourself in a position where you could fall through. Objectively, you know this. But what if. Fear Level = 1. But also 11.
Michigan should worry about: What if.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Oh my god, what if. Shut up shut up shut up. Everyone SHUT UP. I’m trying to think here. I just need to get closer to the ground. I’m way too high. This isn’t safe. I need to lie down. Shut up. Shut up.
When they play Michigan: WHY IS IT SO LOUD IN HERE.
First game: At Michigan. Because that was an idea someone had. And someone else said “that idea is a good idea.” And they got a group of people together, and that group concluded that it was a good idea. And they made it happen. On purpose.
[AFTER THE JUMP: The opponents get better and less memory-stabby]
There are Bo Dever days before FOOTBALL. You know what that means. Because you know the number of a walk-on receiver on Michigan's deepest receiver depth chart since the super-surprising reverse guy was Calvin Bell.
You have great and powerful football knowledge, but it's still Dever until you can use it to establish yourself the greatest expert on college football in the vicinity of other people watching it. Here's an outlet you can try until then.
This a reminder to fill out your Week 1 fantasy team with our daily fantasy football partners, Draft Kings, and that those who outscore my Big Ten (except the tight end) fantasy team get $5 off the MGoStore.
|Michigan Players in Draft|
|Devin Gardner||$7200||7th QB|
|Shane Morris||$5800||23rd QB|
|Derrick Green||$5200||11th RB|
|De'Veon Smith||$3900||44th RB|
|Justice Hayes||$3200||71st RB|
|A.J. Williams||$2000||18th TE|
|Devin Funchess||$4400||20th WR|
|Freddy Canteen||$3600||48th WR|
|Jaron Dukes||$3200||80th WR|
|Dennis Norfleet||$3000||97th WR|
|Amara Darboh||$3000||97th WR|
My team is above, but let's talk about your team.
- You're just drafting guys who play on Saturday afternoon, 8/30. No picking Nits who play at 8:30 a.m. in Ireland, etc.
- $10,000 prize pool.
- $2 entry fee. Entry is free if it's your first deposit.
- $1,000 1st Place prize.
- Top 1,150 are paid.
- Starts on Saturday, August, 30th at 12:00 EST.
- Salary Cap Style Drafting. $50,000 to select 9 spots.
- Roster Format: 2 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex.
- First time depositors at DraftKings receive a 100% bonus up to $600
Details on the contest:
- If you beat me (tie goes to the dealer yo) this week I'll email you with a code to use in the MGoStore for $5 off anything. Shipping still applies.
- Only one coupon per person. If multiple teams beat me (like that would ever happen) you still can only use the code once on your store account.
- BiSB isn't allowed to enter
More Wacky 1st Week Things. As you'll note above, starting wide receiver (and Seth's HTTV breakout on offense pick) Jehu Chesson didn't make the cut, but Jaron Dukes did, and he's head of now-available Norfleet and Darboh ($3,000 is the bargain bin for WRs).
The most expensive guy available is Oregon State's Sean Mannion, because he's a football slinger in a high-tempo passing spread about to commence his quest to obliterate the yard totals of every USC artillery piece ever, and his opponent is Portland State, which last year was 79th in FCS in (sack-adjusted) pass D, at 5.97 YPA. FWIW the NCAA took App State off its FCS stats but they would have been a bit worse than PortSt, at 6.14 YPA.
File. Today was a blue polo day.
News bullets and other items:
Kyle Kalis’ back is fine, but Hoke cautioned that it could always flare up again
Jake Butt and Delano Hill will not play Saturday. Hill will likely be back next week.
Drake Harris and Ian Bunting could be redshirted
Ty Isaac’s hardship waiver was denied; Michigan appealed the decision last week
"Okay, everybody ready? You ready? Thanks for coming. We have 72 hours until we kick it off. We’re excited about that and I think that’s something that every team in this country -- you've been practicing against each other, you've been doing things against each other. Our preparation has been good. I think there's a couple of things we are trying to teach every day are the good habits that you want from a fundamental and technique standpoint and so that's a goal for us. A goal for us [is] to play fast and play physical every Saturday with consistency.
“Yesterday we had to come inside which we didn't really want to, but that storm kind of came through and put us back inside but we had a good practice. We have continually, and Nuss[meier] has done this, done wet ball drills every week even when we've been outside so if we can get in those conditions, which we have a good chance to all the time in the fall. But mental errors, we had a little bit too many of those. We want to make sure we clean those up today but it was a good physical practice. We've got to clean up some areas though when you look at some of the mental errors on both sides of the ball."
Are all openers special no matter who the opponent is?
"Yeah, I think anytime [because] you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Also, as you go out there you want to see what kind of team and where you're at. I think it's important that every week you get improvement from your team and so this will be a starting point obviously that we'll have this weekend."
Are Delano [Hill] and Jake [Butt] the only ones that you're still worried about from an injury standpoint?
"Jake definitely will not play. Delano won't play. I think he'll be ready next week."
What's Drake Harris' status?
"He won't play. He's back in practice now and he's missed a lot of football so there's a good chance he'll be a redshirt this year."
What's your timetable for naming captains for this game and how will you inform them?
"Well, I'm going to meet with the seniors again and [the] leadership group and we’ll name them sometime before the game."
Maurice wasn't on the depth chart…
"He's on there. He's got a good chance of playing for us. It's just, how many guys do you want to list?"
Talk about what you plan to do with the rotation there. Is it going to be quite a bit?
"Well, we're going to start with the guys who are out there, the guys who are first up on the list unless they absolutely don't practice like they need to. I'm assuming that won't happen. Then we'll really just take it how the game goes. There's a good chance that if you're looking at certain positions, especially the interior of our front, I think all those guys are going to play some football for us."
[After THE JUMP: Kyle Kalis’ injury, tight ends, and a Ty Isaac waiver update]