The photo above may seem slightly larger than what we usually run at the top of a post. That happens when one attempts to keep all of their subject in the frame, and when said subject is a 6’5, 240 pound sophomore offensive tackle. The FBO crew travelled to Belleville High School last week to take in the Tigers’ game against Dearborn Fordson, and more specifically to take in four prospects. That set of four was headlined by left tackle Devontae Dobbs, who already holds a Michigan offer.
The complexion of the game changed rapidly, and as that happened so too did the complexion of our scouting. Patrick Lupro, a 2018 three-star CB, exited early due to injury. Kmare Carey, another CB, factored into none of the film we have because Fordson almost exclusively ran the ball, and when they did throw it wasn’t toward him. Julian Barnett, a 2019 WR to keep an eye on, had one nice catch over the middle on which he made two defenders miss before turning up the sideline and getting tackled. That left Dobbs as the prospect with the most film to sift through.
[After THE JUMP: video and scouting of Dobbs]
Gentlemen. We're two weeks in and the true cupcakes have been stomped. What is
1) the biggest pleasant surprise so far?
2) the biggest unpleasant surprise?
First responder gets Speight. Get to it.
Adam: 1) I had Wilton Speight resigned to the passenger's seat as recently as last month's Draftageddon, in which more rounds passed _between_ the selections of Speight and O'Korn (13) than passed before O'Korn went off the board (12). The ignorance is somewhat forgivable. Speight said yesterday that he basically learned his scout team assignment in 2014 and checked out. He got reamed in B-roll footage of a "Real Sports" piece on Harbaugh's arrival. He tore a groin and barely played in spring 2015. He got into a game against Minnesota later that year, and his performance was good enough to keep the Brown Jug but not good enough to unequivocally be anointed Rudock's successor. Fast forward to last Saturday, where it all ended on that first deep post completion to Chesson. With that one in the books, we'd seen enough throws of varying distances and degrees of difficulty to confidently assess Speight's ability to read the coverage and place the ball precisely where his receivers have a chance to reel it in while the DB does not. As it turns out, said ability is quite good. After 120 minutes as Michigan's starting QB, Speight looks very little like we expected him to, and that's been nothing short of a revelation.
2) Nitpicking is nitpicking, but the left guard platoon has been underwhelming. This was supposed to be a position manned by the more consistent of the two guards; Braden's return from injury against UCF didn't bear that out. He struggled, and though he has Bredeson to spell him it's hard to expect a true freshman OL to do much more than tread water. Braden's likely still recovering from injury, but I'll be nervously gnashing my teeth if the LG revolving door hasn't stopped spinning in two weeks.
[Hit THE JUMP for what we come up with besides “phew, so Quarterback’s alright.”]
[Sarah Phipps – The Oklahoman]
It might have been the worst week of matchups on paper, but in classic college football fashion, Week Two held some surprises in store for us: look no further than the game pictured above in which Central Michigan won on a controversial long hook-and-ladder type play with no time left to upset Oklahoma State, who was favored by three scores. In a weekend in which no two ranked teams faced each other, there obviously weren’t any high-stakes matchups, but college football always somehow manages to deliver some excitement if you’re willing to sit in front of a TV for long periods of time, tirelessly flipping through the channels to find it.
--- Firstly, we must salute our in-state brethren, the CMU Chippewas, for stunning OKLAHOMA STATE on what will surely prove to be one of the season-defining plays of 2016. After the game was extended due to an officiating error (Oklahoma State threw the ball away on fourth down as time expired and were called for intentional grounding, and the refs mistakenly gave Central an untimed down), Cooper Rush heaved the ball downfield to Jesse Kroll short of the end zone, who pitched the ball to Corey Willis, who reversed field and just barely got over the goal line to seal the 30-27 upset. It would have been a disappointing performance from the Cowboys even if they’d won (OSU had 1.9 yards per rush, and conceded four touchdowns and a ton of passing yards to Rush), but they lost in brutal fashion. Central joined its rival, Western Michigan, in upsetting a Power Five foe on the road who’d won ten games the year before. Oklahoma State looks to rebound next week against a pretty decent Pitt squad.
[more after the JUMP]
This play didn't crack the top five this week. I still want to talk about it, though. Not that you need to be told this, but watch Jabrill Peppers, who starts the play lined up on the block M.
The rest of the defense is caught flat-footed on this play. The D-line is slanting away from the running back. The force defender is nowhere to be found. The playside corner is caught in man coverage and has his back to the play. Peppers's first two steps are towards deep center, then he has to alter his path to avoid running into Delano Hill.
With a speedy running back around the edge unimpeded, this play looks destined for a first down. Peppers not only reads the play and covers a ton of ground to get to the back before the sticks, he cuts down the angle and finishes the play by literally throwing the RB out of bounds.
Savor every moment you get to watch this guy—excuse me, this Dude—play football. He is truly a once-in-a-generation athlete.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the UCF game in GIFs.]
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No mercy. I'm completely fine with John O'Korn throwing garbage-time bombs into the endzone with Michigan up multiple scores:
— Colorado Buffaloes (@cubuffs) September 12, 2016
This is poking the bear. Colorado, consider the bears poked.
Meanwhile, the bear. PFF's early-season take on Michigan is off-the-charts optimistic. Notes from a meaty piece:
- Michigan is their top defense so far. The competition has not been great, obviously.
- The OL is second(!) in pass protection.
- Kyle Kalis was one of PFF's worst returning guards nationally. (I wonder what PFF would have thought about Michigan's 2013 line if Kalis's shaky 2015 was that bad in their eyes.) He's up to seventh nationally(!!!) in their grading. That's sure to slide backwards as Michigan's schedule gets tougher, but as I mentioned UCF actually has a player or two on their DL. If Kalis manages to hang onto a top 30 spot it's time to buy Tim Drevno an above-ground outdoor pool.
- Newsome's been great as a pass protector and okay on the ground; I'm seeing more or less the same thing. Newsome's having some mental issues on plays to the edge and he has a tendency to pull so deep that he runs himself out of any chance to block someone.
- Speight is well ahead of Early Season Jake Rudock, which is 1) not a surprise and 2) faint praise. OTOH, PFF has him accurate on 28 of 36 opportunities from the last game and I think they're grading as harshly as possible there—I wouldn't knock Speight for that attempted dumpoff to Evans that Evans couldn't get out on, for one.
- Speight's efficiency has gone through the floor when he gets pressure.
- In a separate article on their top 25 they note that Ryan Glasgow has posted bonkers 86 and 84 grades so far; they rank Glasgow as one of their top five NFL draft risers: “Glasgow’s consistently defeated one-on one blocks, and opponents haven’t been able to move him off the line of scrimmage on double teams. In addition to his dominant run play, he’s averaging a pressure once every seven pass rushes, an impressive ratio for a nose tackle.”
All of that is very positive, especially Kalis. In the season preview I mentioned that he was the one returning player on the line who could take a major step forward. Early indications are that he has, and again since so many of his problems last year were mental the kind of improvements he's made are ones that translate to tougher competition.
I'm not sure there's much to read into Speight's issues against pressure yet. I'd expect that he remains iffy in that department because he's not that mobile; eight attempts is not a sample size worth getting exercised over.
I'm over it. I'm mostly over it. Speight on the fading days of the Hoke era:
"When I came in during the winter (of 2014) and redshirted that season, I didn't know what was going on that year and not many people did. It was kind of a messy year, it didn't end well at all," Speight says. "I just kind of skated through that year without much discipline (with) football. It was kind of a rude awakening when (the new staff) came.
"I realized I needed to change some things."
While he tried to soften it…
Speight wants to make it clear. Brady Hoke -- the coach who recruited him to Michigan -- and his staff gave him plenty of coaching in 2014. He says he just wasn't in the mood to listen.
…I mean come on. It wasn't just Speight who wasn't in the mood to listen. It was team-wide. A couple weeks ago Kalis said something wistful about how he wished that he'd had five years under Drevno instead of two.
I'm a little surprised that guys are throwing the old staff under the bus in press conferences, but also… not surprised. I was there, and bitter. I can't imagine how bitter I'd be about the Hoke chaos if it was eating through my eligibility with nothing to show for it.
Anyway, Speight's starting now and good at throwing balls.
ALSO IN WILTON SPEIGHT TALKING.
“There was one UCF player who was trying to talk smack at me, and I just started dying laughing, because we heard him from the huddle. And there were other times that we’d be up on the line of scrimmage and I’d think something was funny.”
Speculation on what this laughter-inducing smack was:
- "Got my crampons on, gonna scale your ass"
- "I am going to camp out halfway up your surface."
- "Ed Davis got a sixth year"
- "I may be the size of a flying squirrel but sir, I propose to embark on a climbing expedition lo these many months. And yea, I will harvest your acorns. Mark these words. Acorns. Harvested. Eventually."
Now in something other than Speight talking. Rich Eisen talking:
— Rich Eisen Show (@RichEisenShow) September 12, 2016
Injuries. As near as I can tell:
- Probably back Saturday: David Long.
- Could be back Saturday, could be another week or two. Taco Charlton, Jourdan Lewis. Lewis's injury was described by Harbaugh as a "muscle strain" unrelated to the issue that kept him out of the opener. He "did some things" and ran around on Monday. Charlton had a slight limp after getting his ankle rolled. Michigan could keep both guys on the bench in a game they expect to win.
- Definitely another few weeks: Bryan Mone.
- Unknown but doesn't look great: Noah Furbush and Drake Johnson. Radio silence on Furbush's issue probably isn't good. Johnson has similarly been out of uniform without much in the way of explanation.
Etc.: Ross Fulton on OSU's early offensive struggles against Tulsa: didn't want to get the QB hit and Tulsa banked on this. Won't apply for M. Chase Winovich on his first start. Matt Godin on his last go-around. NCAA removes events from North Carolina. Colorado plays fast and has a good secondary. When you have two quarterbacks and one of them is a Purdue transfer, you have zero quarterbacks. Possibly negative one quarterbacks. Urban Meyer on his brain and how he fixed it.
“The more you tighten your grip, Governor Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.” –Princess Leia
It is one of the easiest ways to sound like a knowledgeable football watcher: The pass rush is closing in. The receivers are all covered. Then suddenly the quarterback is running through air. “Contain!” you yell with appropriate obviousness to the people who obviously aren’t paying attention. “You must keep contain!”
Contain is a concept put in every play design, a plan to be understood before every snap, and a mantra to keep in mind. “Contain” isn’t limited to pass rush; in fact it’s exactly what a Force Player is doing on any given run. Coaches don’t use this term so often—rather you’ll hear them talk about “lane integrity” or “leverage”.
Before the snap, every play is a running play, because that’s where the ball is. No matter the defense, the defenders will have gap responsibilities, sometimes more than one.
GAPS: Are usually labeled A to whatever. Brown doesn’t go beyond D (which he defines as off a tight end’s butt). The A gaps are between the center and the guards. B gaps are between the guards and tackles. C gaps are between the tackles and whatever tight ends or backfield material exists.
[Hit THE JUMP to solve the mystery]