there would have to be some to wash away
Bye Week Visits: A Trip To Colorado (No, Not For That)
Well played, Maison Bleue.
Last weekend's bye afforded the coaches an opportunity to hit the recruiting trail, and Michigan coaches checked in on the likes of top 2015 MN DE Jashon Cornell, 2015 four-star NC OL Mason Veal, 2015 four-star RB Nasir Bonner, 2015 NJ WR Irvin Charles, and several others.
The most interesting prospect to receive a visit, however, is 2014 ATH Kalen Ballage, as Coach Funk stopped by his school last week, per Sam Webb ($). Michigan originally recruited Ballage as a running back, and it's been long thought that the Wolverines had cooled on him—that obviously isn't the case, even if Ballage is simply a backup option, and the fact that he can also play linebacker or safety is likely fueling at least some of Michigan's renewed interest. With a few spots left in the class and only a handful of prospects under consideration, his versatility could be the key should he want to end up in Ann Arbor.
[EDIT: Per Brandon, Michigan may not have talked to Ballage at all:
Just talked with 2014 ATH/RB Kalen Ballage and he tells me that the #Michigan coaches did NOT visit him.
— Brandon Brown (@CoachBrown3) October 28, 2013
Webb is pretty plugged in and I can't find any sort of retraction from him; since there are rules about contact with recruits, it's possible Funk stopped by Ballage's school but never actually was in contact with him. I'll try to clarify the situation when more information is available.
UPDATE TO THE EDIT: Per 247($), school was not in session when Michigan dropped by; the Wolverines are still recruiting Ballage but obviously didn't talk to him first-hand when they were out there.]
Another visit recipient that caught my eye: 2015 NC jumbo athlete Anthony Rush, who told 247's Steve Lorenz that Michigan is "leaning towards" extending an offer ($). Rush is listed at 6'4", 280 pounds as a junior, and the Wolverines are recruiting him as a tight end. Clearly, the coaches would like more blocking and size up front—most schools are looking at Rush as a defensive tackle.
Prepare For PANIC
(Aw, crap, it's already started.)
As you're probably well aware, Da'Shawn Hand took his official visit to Alabama over the weekend, and reports from the trip have been quite positive. Here's Hand himself:
This visit couldn't of been any better. Had a great time in T-Town
— Da'shawn Hand (@TheHand54) October 27, 2013
Despite the good visit experience for Hand, Alabama insiders around the internets seem to think the Tide still have ground to make up if they're going to catch Michigan; if that's the case, the Wolverines just have to survive Hand's official to Florida—just five days before his Nov. 14th announcement—and they should be in the clear. Still, Alabama is a serious contender, and that's always a frightening opponent to face on the recruiting trail.
To keep the good times rollin', Malik McDowell took a surprise visit to Ohio State for their evisceration of Penn State; he was his usual verbose self in the aftermath:
On my way home from Ohio State. Good game.
— BIG LEEK SOSA (@D1_LEEK) October 27, 2013
At this point, I might be more confident in Hand ending up at Michigan than McDowell, for the sole reason that we have some idea about what Hand thinks about Michigan, while getting information out of McDowell is like breaking into Fort Knox. If I had to bet, I'd wager both land at Michigan, but there's plenty of uncertainty.
[Hit THE JUMP for commit stat updates, the newest 2015 offer recipient, and more.]
10/25/2013 – Michigan 2, Boston University 1, 4-0-1
10/26/2013 – Michigan 1, UMass-Lowell 2, 4-1-1
There was a moment Friday night when BU had scratched out a goal and managed to hold out 30 or so Michigan shots when I looked up at the scoreboard and it felt like that Ryan Miller game oh so long ago, when Michigan bombed a passive Michigan State outfit, outshot them 31-13, and managed to lose 1-0, because that's what happens when you put Ryan Friggin' Miller in Ron Mason anti-hockey. MSU won a game they didn't score in that year. Whenever Michigan doesn't score with a lot of shots I think of that game. If you need to keep me out of your house for whatever reason (mom), just put a picture of Ryan Miller on your doors and windows; I will react to it like a vampire reacts to a cross.
Even so, watching the scoreboard grimly read "0" as the number below it skyrocketed was kind of great at the same time is was monstrously frustrating. Those Michigan teams were killers when not arrayed against Ryan Friggin' Miller. BU was coming off a 7-3 thrashing of presumed Big Ten favorite Wisconsin and for most of the game they could barely conspire to exit their own zone. Michigan was killing those guys everywhere except the scoreboard.
A goal was clearly coming, because BU's guy was only okay, and it did, and was waved off, and came again, and then Alex Guptill got a questionable penalty shot in his favor, and that went in, and clearly everything about those 30-some shots that went wrong was just a fluke and Michigan was going to ride roughshod over college hockey, screaming incoherent things about getting yours for last year.
Fast forward 24 hours and Michigan's coming off a loss in which they put up one goal on 39 shots, that a fluke where the puck popped out in front of the net for Evan Allen to shovel in unassisted. Since no one saw the seven goal explosion against an RIT team, I've watched an awful lot of Michigan hockey this year without seeing many, you know, goals. I have seen a lot of shots that would be goals if goalies were donut-shaped. This may be helpful against Wisconsin, but not at the moment.
At some point the massive pile of shots without corresponding goals is just who you are. That point is… probably after the season. Hockey is random as hell. But we're in the business of extrapolating from small samples here, and this team seems like some of the Hagelin teams where they'd dominate possession, outshoot the opponent on the regular, and sometimes lose because they didn't have an every-night offensive standout.
After last year, the reaction to this is HELL YES, but there was moment on Friday when it seemed like they might take the expectations for them and crush them into a thousand pieces. Michigan scratched out the third period against BU to go 4-0-1 against a brutal schedule, and delusions of grandeur flitted up from below.
The Lowell game was a reality check. They are not mid-90s Berenson vintage. They are a convincing imitation at times, threadbare at others. They seem like a team of Milan Gajics, perpetually on the verge of scoring but somehow never doing so. There's been a lot of that particular hockey-crowd anguish where each subsequent puck that does not go in the net amps up the howling.
I mean, yeah, okay. This team is still a breath of fresh air compared to last year. It's fun watching them lift everyone's stick, fun watching Compher and Motte play the Gardner and Gallon telepathy game, fun watching a harmless shot go at the net and not fearing it will go in. That last one may not actually be fun. It may be more realizing that the possum that had been gnawing your arm for the last decade finally died and fell off. But that's enough to flip a quarter and whistle about.
Sun's out. Time for a stroll. Now someone just put the black disk in the red thing.
[After the JUMP: penalty shots, ref shots, all sorts of shots, shots on shots on shots]
Position: Wide Receiver
Ht/Wt: 6'4"/207 lbs.
Location: Paul VI High School – Haddonfield, NJ
Offers: UMass, Old Dominion, Rutgers, Temple
With the Michigan coaches being free of game-prep duties this week they have taken the recruiting trail by storm visiting states across the nation and checking in on recruits from dozens of high schools. Tuesday afternoon Coach Ferrigno dropped in on Irvin Charles while making a sweep through New Jersey. Charles was a very cool kid to talk to and seemed very flattered to be contacted by the Wolverine staff. I asked him how long the visit had been set up and he surprised me with his answer.
Man, I had no idea they were in Jersey. He ended up telling me they were on a bye week so. I had no clue they were coming, I just got called down to the office and he was there. It was cool. It was my first interaction with Michigan so I was definitely surprised.
Charles told me that the visit wasn’t very long but that he and Coach Ferrigno talked about as much as they could in the short time they were together.
We talked about my recruitment, my training, my football season this year and just some personal life questions. He asked me how my dad is, asked about my sisters, where I live and who I live with.
This is another common thread I hear from recruits, that the coaches take a genuine interest in the life of the young man outside of football. That sentiment always seems to go a long way and I believe it did with Charles as well, as he said Michigan is now very intriguing to him and he rates his interest level, “From a 1-10, a 9 for sure.”
Charles is built in the exact mold that the coaches seem to love in receivers. At 6’4” and 200+ his body type is a lot like Moe Ways and he plays strong on film. He’s not a burner but he runs well (4.73 Nike SPARQ) for his age and size.
You can check out the first four games of Charles’ season here.
FORMATION NOTES: Michigan spent every snap in their nickel. This was fairly typical.
That also shows what I called "shotgun triangle" for IU. Wynn is lined up in the backfield behind the QB, but it's shotgun depth, not pistol. Wynn would always motion out after a hand-wave from the QB; this was always a decoy.
Michigan did show a few okie packages. This is Okie two; I designate them by the number of safeties.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Boatloads. Avery went back to safety and spotted Gordon and Wilson from time to time. This led to a lot of Stribling and Lewis, as Michigan played every snap in their nickel. Countess and Taylor did not leave the field, IIRC.
At linebacker the usual Ross/Morgan/Bolden rotation saw Ben Gedeon join. The line was the usual profusion of bodies. Clark or Ojemudia was usually one end with one of Beyer/Ryan/CGordon the other. On the interior, Washington, Black, Wormley, Henry and Heitzman seemed to split snaps almost evenly. Glasgow also got in some.
[After THE JUMP: go go go go go go go go go go]
Before I post a partial transcript of John Beilein's press conference, a few player interviews, and photo galleries from both Eric and Bryan, here are my main takeaways from yesterday's basketball media day:
- First and foremost, John Beilein is serious about playing two bigs and having a lot of lineup versatility—this sentiment echoed from Beilein himself down through the players, almost all of whom discussed playing multiple roles in some capacity. Everything from Walton/Spike/Stauskas/GRIII/McGary to LeVert/Stauskas/GRIII/McGary/Morgan is on the table; this team can play small or go very, very big—both Stauskas and LeVert are capable of running the point.
- Mitch McGary's health is a major question mark. Beilein isn't sure if he'll be ready for the first exhibition game—it certainly didn't seem like it—and would only say he's "day-to-day" when asked about a timetable. When asked about the nature of the injury, McGary responded that it wasn't an injury, but a "lower back condition" that the team is being cautious about right now. That's obviously a point of concern, even though McGary maintained that he felt good about where he's at right now and the upcoming season. He's definitely missing critical practice time—Beilein noted that he hasn't had a chance to practice his perimeter defense, a crucial area for improvement if McGary is going to be able to play the four.
- The physical development of the sophomores has been rather remarkable. Glenn Robinson III's improved vertical is getting a lot of attention—yes, he touched 12'3", maxing out Michigan's device for measuring vertical leaps—and similar gains have been made by Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert. All three look noticeably more muscular; though LeVert is still very much on the skinny side, he's no longer rail-thin, and Stauskas appears capable of playing the three if need be. GRIII, meanwhile, looks the part of an NBA player.
- When asked about their new break-the-huddle mantra this year, Beilein responded that it's simply "champions"—whether that applies to the Puerto Rico Invitational, the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the Big Ten regular- and post-season crowns, or even loftier goals. Last year's team took the expectations to an entirely new level; it's clear this team is comfortable with that.
For direct quotes from Beilein, player interviews with Jon Horford, Jordan Morgan, and Derrick Walton, and photo galleries from media day, hit the jump.
Pictured, the closest defenders Jeremy Gallon saw all day [Upchurch]
1. The Six Factors
|Field Pos||Early Conv||Bonus Yds||Avg 3rd Dist||Adj 3rd Conv||Red Zone|
So, that was a lot of bonus yards. Michigan’s 385 yards beyond the first down mark was the highest mark in college football this year (largely because the game was close and all second half plays counted, unlike say every Baylor game this year). It was the 11th highest total since 2003 and narrowly edged the 2010 Indiana game (by 2 yards) for the highest mark for Michigan in the time period. For comparison, Purdue has 399 bonus yards on the season so far.
Add in Indiana’s 270 yards and this was the highest total for any game this season and the 13th highest total since 2003. There were a lot of big plays in this game. Also, not a lot of third downs, especially long ones and the ones that did occur were converted at a high rate, even after accounting for their short distance. The offenses may have done OK in this one. The important thing is that Michigan’s offense was better than Indiana at virtually all of these things, even if Indiana did pretty well themselves.
2. Individual Game Scores
Devin Gardner: +29.9 EV+, +118% WPA (1st)
The top quarterback score of the season, even after adjusting for what the average offense does against Indiana. This game finished as the #10 QB performance since 2003 and the second best B1G QB score behind CJ Bacher against Michigan State in 2007
Fitzgerald Toussaint: –1.8 (+5.3 before opp. adjustment), +11% (90th)
On the one hand, it was great to see some success from Toussaint, on the other hand, after adjusting for the Indiana factor, it was actually below average. At this point, my expectations are pretty low for the traditional running game. Toussaint had some nice success but given how bad Indiana was and that he still was only at 4.0 YPC until the final run, I don’t see things getting significantly better for him down the brutal November stretch.
Jeremy Gallon: +29.5, +84% (1st, obvs)
So this was a nice game for #21. This blew the doors off of any other receiving performance in the last 11 seasons. Gallon broke Stedman Bailey’s record set last year against Baylor by nearly 15%. I put together a quick chart of Gallon’s projected yards throughout the game.
After the first 70 yarder the pace shot up to nearly 600 yards and never dropped below 300 from then on. It was pretty amazing to see all the On Pace For jokes throughout the day and see that in the end, some of them undershot the final total.
Devin Funchess: +6.8, +15% (49th)
Tre Roberson: +15.5, +54% (4th)
Nate Sudfeld: –0.3, –6% (63rd)
Tevin Coleman: +5.6, +14% (11th)
Kofi Hughes: +9.3, 29%, (22nd)
Cody Latimer: +7.4, +19% (39th)
3. Game Chart
The six biggest plays of the game:
6. 11.1% Roberson runs for a 15 yard TD/Gardner hits Gallon for a 50 yard TD
5. –11.5% Tempo hits Michigan for the opening 59 yard TD pass
4. +14.2% Gordon picks off Sudfeld
3. +17.1% Gardner to
Roundtree Gallon for 70 yards
2. –18.3% Michigan fumbles the snap at the doorstep of the goal line
1. –20.3% Roberson to Hughes (through Stribling) for 67 yards to bring Indiana within a two point conversion
4. Ron Zook Dumb Punt of the Week
Last week featured a couple of coaches who punted to win. Both Butch Jones at Tennessee and Bronco Mendenhall at BYU called for punts while trailing with under 4 minutes left in the game. Those made not have been the optimal choices, but both coaches managed to get the stops and convert the stops into game winning scores.
Brian Kelly went for the punt on 4th and 3 from the USC 38.
Northern Illinois and CMU will share this week’s award. Northern Illinois punted on 4th and 3 from the CMU 35 yard line. This happened in a game where Jordan Lynch set the single game rushing record and averaged nearly 10 yards a carry on 32 carries! CMU shares the award by punting away to Northern Illinois with 5 minutes left while trailing by 13 points. Somewhere Gary Andersen is nodding in approval.
Bonus Dumb FG of the week: Arizona State took it to Washington early, and Washington was facing a 4th and goal from the 9 midway through the third trailing by 20 points. Rather than push to truly get back in the game, the Huskies opted for the chip shot field goal to cut it from a three score lead to a smaller three score lead. Going for in on 4th and Goal from the 9 is usually not a no-brainer, but when trailing by 20 in the second half, there isn’t a great case for the field goal.
5. State of the Stats
The Six Factors for all teams can still be found here
- Devin Gardner’s record setting day has him up to fifth in the season QB totals (+11.5) behind Bryce Petty (+14.7), Johnny Manziel (+13.7), Marcus Mariota (+12.5) and Aaron Murray (+11.9).
- No player has been more instrumental to his team’s success than Gardner who has accumulated a season high 3.8 wins on the season and is still in first in terms of team replacement value, with Michigan 117 points better when he rushes or passes versus an average play from any other player.
- Jeremy Gallon’s big day has moved him up to #4 on the season at +9.9 behind Antwan Goodley (+11.5), Mike Evans (+11.5) and Brandin Cooks (+10.4).
- Devin Funchess is inside the top 40 at +5.8 and is third among all players listed as tight ends behind Jace Amaro of Texas Tech and Eric Ebron of North Carolina.
- Next week I’ll dive into the details behind Michigan State, but the offense defense splits are getting absurd at this point. The Spartan offense is ranked 100+ in four of the five defense independent factors and the defense is top 10 on three metrics.
With no game this week, we’ll take a look at the season projection for Michigan. My numbers are more optimistic than most on the prospects for the remainder. I have Michigan as a favorite in all remaining games, with @NW, Nebraska and @Iowa listed as reasonable ~60% odds. My numbers aren’t big fans of either Michigan State or Ohio State, largely due to schedule concerns for both and offensive woes for Michigan State.
Next week I’ll dig more into the MSU numbers, but for now I have listed the original numbers as yellow and optimistic projections and a more realistic assessment (noted here as Pessimistic) of Michigan’s chances versus its two main rivals. Depending on your take on the games, this season is projecting to 9-10 wins, but with all the remaining games competitive, a lot of different outcomes are still on the table.