— Michigan Football (@umichfootball) March 1, 2016
I enjoy the guy yelling in the background.
Harbaugh has thrown the doors open down in Florida. There is a pile of stuff. So much stuff. Even before the open practice at 5PM today, there is so much stuff. Let's talk things and stuff.
First: yes, this is just technique work and mostly unpadded at that. Takes have largely been about throwing, catching, and defending said throws—there's not much you can take away on either line thus far. Oh and one other thing.
Jabrill Peppers, Linebacker
After @JabrillPeppers' heat in 30 yard speed drills he said , "your SAM backer is the fastest guy on the team! How does that feel?!" Lol
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) March 1, 2016
The most meaningful thing from the first few spring practices is the apparent move of Jabrill Peppers to strongside linebacker. Or, as they called it last year, "hybrid linebacker." While the nomenclature has changed it doesn't seem like a whole lot else has:
Through the first two days of camp, Peppers has played in the box almost exclusively. He's spent most of his time blitzing, supporting the run and covering tight ends underneath during 11 on 11 drills. In 7 on 7 workouts, he's drifted out to cover slot receivers, but he's never far away from the line of scrimmage.
That's more or less what Michigan did with him a year ago. The exception: against certain two-WR sets Peppers would slide out to boundary cornerback. Last year Don Brown rode with 6'1", 218-pound Matt Milano as his SAM, and all that dude did was lead the team in TFLs with 17.5 and add 6.5 sacks. Peppers is likely to be around that size, if a hair shorter, and obviously brings much more athleticism to the table. (I have no idea how athletic Matt Milano is. I am still comfortable making that assumption.)
Wolverine Devotee put together an every snap video from the BC-FSU game last year; Milano is 28. You'll see him lined up as an actual linebacker against heavier formations and often over the slot in lighter ones:
How does this change what everyone else does? One thing it likely signals is that the days where Michigan lined up a safety 15 yards back are over. To get away with the kind of light linebackers Brown favors you need to have all eleven guys potentially involved in the run game. You can expect Michigan to run "over" fronts most of the time, but that's not a change.
It also puts more pressure on the safeties to be able to defend man to man. Ian Boyd noted that the "ability of [BC] safeties to play deep overage is probably the strongest point" of Don Brown's most recent defense. I'm a bit leery of that given what we saw from Michigan last year—neither Delano Hill or Dymonte Thomas did a great job in those situations—but at least Thomas is fast enough to prevent a quick six points if he gets soloed up on a slot and things go badly for M.
Going forward, Tyree Kinnel will be very important. He entered Michigan with a reputation as a CB/S hybrid and that's exactly what Brown wants from his safeties.
The other SAM
we only have one Furbush picture so you might want to settle in with this shot [Patrick Barron]
Don Brown mentioned Noah Furbush as Michigan's other option at SAM linebacker:
Peppers finished last season with 45 tackles and 10 pass break ups. But this year, along with Noah Furbush, Peppers will be focusing more on playing SAM linebacker says Brown.
“Between Furbush and (Peppers), I think we can put those two guys together and create some dynamic ability out of that position. That’s what you are searching for,” said Brown.
Furbush is obviously a very different player than Peppers, and that might give you an indication of what Michigan is going to do when they do catch an Iowa or a Wisconsin. If Furbush fills out this year—his weight has been an ongoing mystery—he brings a lot more in the tight-end-whacking category than Peppers; meanwhile Michigan can move Peppers to CB or safety… or save some snaps in an effort to use him more on offense.
Also in "other SAM," Chase Winovich was recruited as Jake Ryan 2.0 and now sounds kind of like Jake Ryan 2.0:
He is all of 240 pounds and can still move as well as he did when he was 215. … If things go according to what looks to be the plan, expect to see Winovich playing standing up at times, and with his hand in the dirt at others. His non-stop motor and reckless abandon should help him when it comes to getting after opposing quarterbacks.
I'm not sure where Jake Ryan 2.0 fits in a Don Brown defense but am willing to find out.
While nobody is tipping their hand I continue to believe that Zach Gentry moving to tight end is a dead giveaway that John O'Korn is the guy and authoritatively so. Baumgardner:
When forced to throw the ball in traffic, O'Korn's accuracy was just more consistent. It wasn't perfect, but his touch was better and his ability to deliver throws on time looked superior to what we saw from Wilton Speight or Shane Morris.
That's probably not a shocker to anyone. But it was notable. The deep ball will be a work in progress for O'Korn and his wideouts, and it's still important to note that Jehu Chesson is still rehabbing an injury. But Jake Butt still catches everything underneath, and Amara Darboh can still haul in most anything thrown in his area. O'Korn is figuring that out.
Webb noted that O'Korn is "unquestionably the most athletic" of the QBs, which is a nice physical
intangible to have at 6'4". Speight and Malzone come in for mentions as well; Morris was probably at the other split squad practice so don't run to the hills with the news that he gone.
The hyped recruit has impressed as well. Brandon Peters was singled out by Harbaugh in a press conference after day two. Baumgardner made an effort to check him out during the brief time the media got to see him—he's been practicing mostly during the closed bit of Michigan's practices:
The main thing here: He's smooth and natural. When I spoke with a few scouts and analysts about Peters last summer, the first thing they all raved about was how he's nowhere near his potential. …
I've seen a lot of freshmen quarterbacks enter a program over the years and just look absolutely lost or panicked. Their feet are all over the place. They're throwing the thing as hard as they can on every rep. They're overwhelmed, basically.
Peters is far from a finished product, but he's not overwhelmed. That much is clear.
Here's hoping for two years of this kind of chatter before an epic showdown between Peters, McCaffrey, and whoever else survives the winnowing.
Recommend you hit up that Baumgardner article as he describes Harbaugh going through drills with the QBs; some excellent insight into what makes Harbaugh one of the best QB coaches in football.
Bunting has been impressing:
Ian Bunting didn’t have as good a day as Jake Butt, but he was close. The redshirt sophomore has terrific hands and showed trait on the play of the day. Bunting ran a skinny post. Coverage was decent, giving Alex Malzone a tight window to throw in. He fired a rope a little out front of his intended target where only Bunting had a shot. The ball was on him so quick that he only had time to extend one hand, but that was all he need to haul in the pass. He did so in stride and sprinted to the endzone to a series of oohs and aahs. It was his best play but definitely not the only one.
Also in there are takes on Wheatley (looking promising in the AJ Williams role, probably still needs to drop a little weight) and Gentry (upside, but needs time). Webb revisited Bunting after practice yesterday, asserting that he "looks like a guy poised to have a breakout season" because he is now blasting through linebackers on his routes and boxing them out. Here's to Ol' Skillet Hands making good on ridiculous MGoBlog hype.
Jake Butt is Jake Butt: he should win the dang Mackey this year.
Ty Wheatley hopes to be senior AJ Williams plus some athleticism:
"He's a big-bodied guy who can move people off the ball and when he goes out to run a pattern, he can work a guy," Michigan offensive coordinator Tim Drevno said Thursday. "Those short routes by the tight ends are kind of like (playing underneath) in basketball. He's a big target, put the ball (wherever) and he can run with it."
Michigan has an obvious hole to fill at inline tight end with Williams's departure and Hill's move to fullback. Wheatley is unusually well suited to fill that hole despite being a redshirt freshman. Meanwhile, Michigan "never seriously considered moving him" over the offseason despite rumors to that effect.
Zach Gentry "needs to add weight… a lot of it" per Webb; I think everyone's expectation is that he'll have to spend a year getting used to the position before issuing a serious challenge for playing time.
With Chesson sidelined, there is Amara Darboh and then there is everyone else.
There's been some chatter about Ahmir Mitchell's physical physicalness, and one creepy super slow mo video:
Good battle between Ahmir Mitchell and Reon Dawson pic.twitter.com/4oOrV8h8DE
— Michigan Football (@umichfootball) March 1, 2016
It's a creepy super slow mo video in which he loses a slant route to Reon Dawson, so maybe he won't break through immediately. Baumgardner says he's "pretty raw" and that was indeed his reputation as a recruit. He's likely to sit on the shelf a bit as he matures.
I kind of expected Channing Stribling to fade a bit as Jeremy Clark continued familiarizing himself with corner, but Webb's talked him up a few times:
Stribling continues to make plays against everyone except Amara darboh. Darboh having his way all week
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) March 3, 2016
Webb elaborated a bit later:
He has made some really acrobatic plays. At the same time he has given up a few plays. Darboh has been particularly troublesome due to his superior strength and great route technique. Stribling also gave up the aforementioned deep ball to Harris, but again, he made many more plays than he gave up during the time the media was at practice.
Jourdan Lewis remains good at football:
Jourdan Lewis was his vintage self. I noticed one ball caught on him (a comeback route by Amara Darboh. He seemed to bait John O’Korn into a bad throw on one occasion. After taking away his man on a short route he began drifting back into the secondary and picked off O’Korn’s attempt to complete an out cut (sounded like Jedd Fisch said he should’ve thrown it sooner).
Not much more than the occasional mention of Clark and others. Still expect Clark to contribute extensively.
Ryan Glasgow and Jehu Chesson are still working out on the sidelines, as injuries are slowing them down. Neither is much of a surprise, but one name amongst the guys who aren't full go does worry: Wyatt Shallman was once again on the side after being full-go in the first practice. Guy cannot get healthy.
In happier news, both Bryan Mone and Mike McCray have been full-go. McCray's status is of particular note since last year he made some ominous noises about his long-term future. Also he is a linebacker, and Michigan needs some of those. Here is a positive noise about McCray that we will all dearly wish is true despite the fact they aren't in pads yet:
“He looks really good out here,” said Lewis. “He is probably one of the guys we look up to as the guy that should step up this year at that linebacker position. I’m excited for Mike. He has great upside.”
Getting a healthy McCray back is huge for Michigan.
Nick Baumgardner with the depth chart nerd assist:
Second-team OL (best I can figure): LT Bushell-Beatty, LG Dawson, C Kugler, RG Runyan, RT Ulizio
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) March 1, 2016
That is more or less as expected without Blake Bars. Those guys are in fact the only other scholarship OL on the roster until this year's class arrives in fall.
Baumgardner also caught the fact that in the second half of practice, after the third and fourth stringers left, the only OL to remain other than the starters was Kugler. Given Cole's versatility I would expect Kugler to be the guy who enters on any injury, and if there's going to be a shakeup to the expected starting five it would be Kugler pushing through at C such that Cole displaces a returning starter.
It'll be a 4-3 defense that's fairly similar to what Michigan did a year ago.
in 2015 U-M ran a 4-3 defense that played a ton of man coverage on the outside.
That’s still the plan in 2016, however, with a little twist says Brown.
“We’ll start with the four down (lineman) scheme, but we are not exclusively that,” Brown said. “We’ll do it all. We’ll play a lot of man (coverage) tight. But we will also play some other things. That’s the new piece. And that’s the learning piece.”
There will be more linebacker blitzing. Probably a lot more—Durkin had a five-man pressure he liked to run a lot but instances of true maniacal blitzing were very rare.
Harbaugh also elaborated on the split squad stuff:
“That was new,” Harbaugh said. “More one on one coaching for reps for each guy. The rule is no player can practice more than four hours, which every player practiced for four hours and had a nice little overlap there. Coaches had a six-hour day, but it just flew by. Just felt like it flew by. Logic is pretty simple there to understand. More coaching and more football for everybody.”
Indeed it is but it's also another example of Harbaugh figuring out ways to get maximum efficiency from the allotted rules.
And we have a first name for Pratt Just Pratt:
Another player that has been working out on the side is 6-5, 268 lb. sophomore offensive lineman Logan Pratt. This is noteworthy only because Pratt is one of the most impressive looking walk-ons I’ve ever seen.
Pratt will remain Just Pratt, I think.
— Purdue University (@LifeAtPurdue) March 3, 2016
WELL NOW I CAN'T CLOSE MY EYES AND RELAX EVER AGAIN ARE YOU HAPPY PURDUE
you probably are
damn you purdue
More work for Chief Enunciator Ace Anbender. Michigan's hired former Hawaii and Cleveland Browns coach Tony Tuioti as Chris Partridge's replacement. Michigan seems to be consciously trying to have one guy who is super-connected with every fertile recruiting ground they can find. While Hawaii might not be a likely spot for recruits, Tuioti is Polynesian. Polynesia is kind of a location you can get recruits, sometimes ukelele-playing recruits with massive manes of awesome hair who can play fullback and tailback. These are good recruits to get.
Greg Sankey has lost in the court of public opinion. He'll probably win in the court that matters, but it's nice to see that the portions of the media not completely dependent on the SEC for food and shelter* aren't buying what Sankey's selling one bit. Dan Wetzel:
College players can't negotiate the time off that NFLers have – organized team activities for the pros don't begin until late April and often not until late May. That's four or five months off for most players. Somehow the sport thrives. In college you get less than two – which doesn't even count crack-of-dawn "voluntary" weight training sessions just a week or so after a bowl game.
No one seems too concerned about that.
To focus solely on the issue of a handful of off-campus spring practices by one school, however, is to engage in absurd selectivity. The idea that players need spring break to themselves is a nice concept, but not some irrefutable argument.
Many players, just like most regular college students, can't afford to go away for spring break, no matter what the old movies claim. The majority of cash strapped "normal" students probably use the time to work.
A breeze floated in off the Gulf of Mexico a few miles west. The temperature had just dropped into the 60s following the sun’s plunge into the pink horizon. As darkness fell and palm trees swayed, Michigan tight end Jake Butt discussed getting his spring break ripped away by his taskmaster coach.
“We don’t have to worry about classes now. All we can focus on is football, and then we’re out on the beach relaxing. It’s unbelievable,” Butt said Tuesday. “Not everyone on our team is going to be able to take a spring break to get away. We’re away. We’re down here in Florida. Beautiful territory. Sun shining. Not too hot. Nice breeze. Eating great food with our brothers. I don’t have anything negative to say about it.”
What, you thought he was going to complain?
Are college sports power brokers actually concerned that Michigan's football players will be working on out patterns instead of holding down the business end of beer bongs? I doubt it. To the contrary, I think their supposed reservations are basically a tell—you know, the subtle tip-off a bad gambler does when he's bluffing—that lets the rest of us know just what actually matters in major college sports.
Hint: it isn't making sure football players have a relaxing Spring Break.
Bob Wojnowski caught up with a local high school coach who had a couple of insightful quotes:
“Because I also coached in college for years, I realize the value of what these kids are experiencing,” Gerber said. “Most of these kids aren’t gonna afford a spring break. And if you watch the tempo and demeanor of the practice, it’s purposeful, but they’re not bludgeoning them. It’s a learning environment. This has been very well thought out.”
I has occurred to me that the local media probably doesn't mind a working vacation in early March.
*[Or, like Michael Weinreb, have a contract with the devil requiring a concern troll about Michigan every six months.]
Hello: Jerry Kill? Per Sid Hartman, Jerry Kill might end up with a job in Ann Arbor if he wants it:
This week Kill spent time with his close friend, TCU coach Gary Patterson, and could wind up on his staff. Kill has always been close to Jack Harbaugh, father of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, and rumors around the Big Ten are that a job on the Wolverines staff is his if he wants it.
With Michigan's full assistant roster complete that would be one of those analyst positions that's come open as those gents move up the ladder. Everybody loves Kill and he has an impressive track record of dragging maximum performance out of iffy recruits, so that would be an excellent move.
A Fanhouse oral history. The Comeback has an enormous oral history of Fanhouse which is an excellent insight into how the first corporate sports blog rose and fall. I was a part of it from the beginning and faded away towards the end; only one of my completely fire takes made it in the story:
Brian Cook, college football blogger, FanHouse: I think hiring Mariotti was the most tone-deaf ridiculous thing they could have possibly done. Because he was just a blowhard, right? One of the things Spencer Hall says about SB Nation is [it's] the [internet's] the only sports appreciation machine. We weren’t lecturing from the top of a mountain like a lot of newspaper people tend to do. We were just fans being fans. And when you bring in the guys that do talk at you from the top of the mountain, do the Mariotti stuff, it’s completely antithetical [to] what the whole point of the enterprise was.
Fanhouse was an important bridge for me personally, as it allowed me to focus on MGoBlog without digging into savings. But this here site remained my focus because it wasn't tough to predict that AOL would not be in the content game long term. As a #content factory Fanhouse produced almost exclusively disposable content. Meanwhile it was difficult for it to have any specific voice when so many different people were contributing to it. The structure of the compensation—pay per post with a monthly on top of it—lent itself to lots of posts that took little time. The results were what you might expect.
Spencer's take on it is correct:
Spencer Hall, college football blogger, FanHouse, now editorial director of SB Nation:FanHouse was pretty good, but I don’t get sentimental over it. And honestly I don’t remember, I couldn’t name a thing that was written on FanHouse 10 years later. I could not name one piece that neither I nor anyone else wrote on FanHouse. I think it was a happy accident that I don’t want people to sanctify, which I would pretty much say about anything. I’d just like you to remember it accurately. It gave a lot of really cool people their first high-profile chance. I think in terms of mistakes, a lot of mistakes that the people running FanHouse made led to good things down the road.
Fanhouse was an early adopter and as such doomed to the same fate early adopters usually meet. It was housed in a large corporation that didn't really know how do to anything except its declining legacy business. It had some smart people in upper management; they were smart enough to know that they should get out while the getting was good. Those who remained thought Jay Mariotti was a good idea, and the story writes itself from there.
Fetch Tony Barnhart's fainting couch. If the man with Greg Sankey's hand up his back thinks it's "inappropriate" to issue barbs at another conference's commissioner there's no way he'll manage to stay upright after this:
Suggestion to my Rocky Top colleague, rather than lunch in Florida you might spend your time and focus attending to your present team.
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) March 3, 2016
Tennessee is of course facing a Title IX lawsuit focused on Butch Jones's program, one that featured an explosive affidavit from a former player in which he asserted that Jones called him a "traitor" for helping a victimized woman.
Get The Picture deconstructed an earlier Barnhart article if you're still fisk-inclined.
Graham Glasgow on Harbaugh. Ain't no time for feelings around these parts any more:
"He's treated everyone in our program essentially, not like a child, but he treated them like an adult -- like, as a man," Glasgow said. "And every talk he had with you would be man-to-man. He was brutally honest about everything."
This is probably the least surprising quote about Harbaugh I've ever heard. It is interesting that it seems like a departure from Hoke.
This is a good interview. The Daily catches up with an outraged Joe Cecconi:
TMD: Who is messier, you or Cooper?
Cecconi: Cooper. I always clean up. His side of the room is disgusting. He’s got all his guitars and his amps and all that crap everywhere.
TMD: Is it annoying living with somebody who makes so much noise making music?
Cecconi: He actually goes downstairs, to be honest. Sometimes he’ll give me a performance, and I’ll be tired and it helps me fall asleep, so it’s good.
TMD: Why weren’t you featured in his recent song?
Cecconi: I don’t know. I got to talk to him about that. I’m not too happy.
Tension in the locker room.
Etc.: Eliminating pro-rel in soccer would be terrible for everyone except the elite few, but some Brandon figure named Charlie Stillitano thinks it's a great idea. All five of Michigan's current 2019 hockey recruits have been invited to the NTDP evaluation camp. Kirby Smart spent more on plane travel than Harbaugh did. Jim Harbaugh's son might accidentally get elected to student government.
Michigan could use a little help from Penn State. [Bryan Fuller]
Before digging into the current bracket projections, let's look at how the games listed in Monday's Punching The Ticket (and a couple I forgot to include) turned out. Michigan wanted the teams in bold to win.
- UNC beat Syracuse
- Kansas beat Texas.
- Kentucky beat Florida
- Vanderbilt beat Tennessee
- George Washington beat George Mason
- St. Mary's beat Grand Canyon
- Virginia Tech beat Pitt
- VCU beat Davidson
- Butler beat Seton Hall
- Arkansas beat Alabama
- NC State beat Boston College
- Providence beat Creighton
- USC beat Oregon State
It's a mixed bag, as these tend to be, but two SEC squads—Florida and Alabama—are on the wrong side of the bubble after losses this week.
Michigan's resumé as it currently stands:
Record: 20-10 (19-10 vs. D-I), 10-7 Big Ten
RPI Strength of Schedule: 68
KP SOS: 53
RPI Top-50: 3-8
RPI 51-100: 0-2
RPI 101+: 16-0
Penn State remains just outside the RPI top-100 cut at #105, but they've got a good chance to finish strong and give Michigan a pair of quality wins in the process; the Nittany Lions finish the regular season with home games against Northwestern and Illinois. NC State didn't exactly cover themselves in glory with a one-point victory over winless-in-the-ACC Boston College; they still remain in striking distance at #115. The Wolfpack breaking into the top 100 would give Michigan another quality win. Yes, I still realize the top-100 cutoff is stupid and arbitrary, but that's how it works.
Not that this is a surprise since Michigan hasn't yet this week, but the Wolverines' standing in projected brackets remains relatively unchanged. ESPN and CBS still have them in a play-in game as one of the final four at-large teams to make the field; Yahoo still has them as an 11-seed narrowly avoiding a First Four game. While Michigan is one of the last four at-large teams on the Bracket Matrix, they're included in 94 of the 108 brackets. A victory over Iowa on Saturday night would almost certainly lock up a spot.
Here are your rooting interests for this weekend. You want the teams in bold; teams in italics are on the bubble; other games are included for RPI purposes:
- Memphis at Temple (tonight, 7 pm, ESPNU)
- Georgia at South Carolina (tonight, 7 pm, ESPN2)
- UConn at SMU (tonight, 9 pm, ESPN2)
- Cincinnati at Houston (tonight, 9 pm, CBSSports)
- Northwestern at Penn State (tonight, 9 pm, ESPNU)
- Yale at Cornell (Friday, 6 pm)
- Princeton at Harvard (Friday, 7 pm, ESPN3)
- Vanderbilt at Texas A&M (Saturday, noon, ESPN2)
- NC State at Notre Dame (Saturday, noon, CBS)
- Ohio State at Michigan State (Saturday, noon, ESPN)
- Providence at St. John's (Saturday, 12:30 pm, FS1)
- Syracuse at Florida State (Saturday, 2 pm, ESPN2)
- Pitt at Georgia Tech (Saturday, 2 pm)
- Marquette at Butler (Saturday, 2:30 pm, Fox/FSN)
- Creighton at Xavier (Saturday, 2:30 pm, Fox)
- Kansas State at Texas Tech (Saturday, 3 pm, ESPNews)
- George Washington at Davidson (Saturday, 3:30 pm, NBCSports)
- Alabama at Georgia (Saturday, 4 pm, ESPN2)
- Oregon at USC (Saturday, 4 pm, Pac-12 Network)
- South Carolina at Arkansas (Saturday, 5 pm, SEC Network)
- USF at Tulsa (Saturday, 5 pm, ESPNews)
- Oregon State at UCLA (Saturday, 6:30 pm, Pac-12 Network)
- Princeton at Dartmouth (Saturday, 7 pm)
- Yale at Columbia (Saturday, 7 pm)
- Florida at Missouri (Saturday, 7:30 pm, SEC Network)
- St. Bonaventure at St. Louis (Saturday, 8 pm)
- VCU at Dayton (Saturday, 8 pm, CBSSports)
- Colorado at Utah (Saturday, 9:30 pm, ESPNU)
- UNLV at San Diego State (Saturday, 10 pm, CBSSports)
- Portland at Gonzaga (Saturday, 11:59 pm, ESPN2)
- SMU at Cincinnati (Sunday, noon, CBS)
- Illinois at Penn State (Sunday, noon, BTN)
- UCF at UConn (Sunday, 2 pm, ESPNU)
- Temple at Tulane (Sunday, 2 pm, ESPN3)
Yes, you can conceivably bubble-watch on Saturday for a solid 14 hours. This is not recommended by the Surgeon General or your marriage counselor.
A trip you may have heard something about is ongoing
Michigan is indeed spending a week at IMG's campus in Florida. They're not allowed to talk to the recruits since it's a quiet period, but there is much discussion of it anyway. Steve Wiltfong ran down Michigan's many targets at the school* this morning. Much of it is a recap, but of note is a new crystal ball in Michigan's favor for FL OL Cesar Ruiz. Ruiz is the nation's top center to many.
Wiltfong also reports that DC by way of IMG LB Jordan Anthony is "strongly considering" M. He's a new name to me, and a four star guy. LB Dylan Moses is still waiting on an offer as Michigan tries to get a signal it's worth their time; 2018 DT Taron Vincent projects to be a big timer and Michigan is up there for him.
Both Ruiz and Hainsey recently participated in a local Rivals camp, during which they impressed:
— Tim Sullivan (@TimS_Wolverine) February 27, 2016
— Tim Sullivan (@TimS_Wolverine) February 27, 2016
Sullivan reported that both guys justified recent moves up the Rivals rankings with their performance; one or both could end up breaking into the top 100.
*[Wiltfong continues to say that Michigan's 2017 class will be "considerably smaller" than the 28 or 29 guys Michigan just recruited. I have no doubt he's relaying information from the Michigan staff, but even so I think they're going to get up there. Michigan has 17 scholarship seniors and that'll probably bump up to 19 by fall with Glasgow and Kenny Allen. A totally normal rate of attrition would see them get to 25.]
Spring game visitors start firming up plans
FL OL Robert Hainsey and Ruiz will be there, and FL CB Elvis Hines plans on joining them.
Also this gent:
— Brice Marich (@BriceMarich) March 3, 2016
Woods has offers from Kentucky, Tennessee, and VT in addition to Michigan.
Lorenz reports that CA CB Deommodre "Clamp Clampington" Lenoir will also visit and may decide before football season; Lenoir and FL CB Stanford Samuels appear to be Michigan's top two targets at corner.
CA OL Brett Neilon has set a visit for the spring game and has a top five of M, UCLA, Cal, Duke, and Washington. Allow me to take a brief break from this all-out saloon brawl with Washington mods to assert that M has a very good shot at winning a recruitment against that group.
The complicating factor: USC and Stanford have not offered but Neilon continues to mention them. His dad, brother, and two aunts all went to USC, so… yeah. Neilon noted to MGoFish that he was at a Michigan satellite camp a year ago.
PA S Collin Smith also plans on visiting; hasn't been a whole lot of chatter about him but he does have an offer.
- FL CB CJ Cotman has a top five of M, OSU, Ole Miss, TCU, and Florida. Cotman was high on Michigan early. He's planning on a Signing Day decision.
- OH TE Matt Dotson will visit next weekend. He sounds completely wide open.
- AL LB Monty Rice fielded an offer recently and says he will visit; his top list is one that suggests this is an uphill battle: it's M, UGA, Auburn, South Carolina, and Ole Miss. He assured Rivals that Michigan will have a shot and the chances he visits M are "very high" whether in spring or for an official.
- CA DE Jaelan Phillips is a top 100 guy who recently fielded an offer; interested, will visit, wide open, late decision, etc.
- MA RB AJ Dillon has a visit set up for the 22nd. He's the grandson of a notable Notre Dame player and liked FSU growing up.
- Florida leads for FL OL Kai-Leon Herbert.
- TX DT Damion Daniels fielded an offer, is interested, etc. He said his interest was an "8 out of 10".
- CA OL Wyatt Davis has no leaders and no list; he has tentative plans to visit M.
- Ditto for CA WR Terrell Bynum
- Ditto for GA DT Emanuel McNeal.
Pioneer LB Antjuan Simmons committed to Ohio State rather out of nowhere; he'd just gotten down to 11-ish schools. Guess Michigan's delay in offering stuck in the ol' craw.
Etc.: FINE, I'll mention at 2019 player if he says Michigan is his leader, as FL DE Ge'Mon Eaford does Also he goes to Deerfield Beach. That helps the case for a mention. Touch The Banner scouts the in-state class.
It took that long to regrow 'em
For a moment yesterday everybody ("everybody" meaning the 10 of us who excessively pour over roster data) got really excited that we might have some spring weights, as a spring roster was apparently circulating among reporters down at IMG. Some people even noticed huge weight differentials between the data on MGoBlue.com's official rosters and the numbers on the spring sheet.
That was a false alarm: weights on the official website haven't changed since last spring, while except for Nolan Uluzio going up 4 pounds there's no difference between the 2016 spring roster weights and those listed in Michigan's media guide prior to this year's bowl game.
But it spurred me to finally update all those weight listings on the MGoRoster database. "Wgt" now means the last weight they were listed at on any Michigan roster.
The excel spreadsheet that is based on has all sorts of historical playing weights and start data too. And I realized that means we can actually say, quite accurately, how big a starter was at any given position.
Tall and thin or short and squat? Some positions seem to have preferences.
Methodology: The data are from my heavily edited version of Bentley's database (there are hundreds of errors in there but since they've only ever annoyed myself and Bruce Madej nobody's ever got around to fixing them), and filled in with subsequent roster data from media guides and whatnot. For guys who never enrolled I used their weight as a recruit on Rivals). Snapshots for a year are fall weights.
I also had to go through my starter data and refine it—originally I broke them up into wider position groups but this required some precise definitions. For the years Michigan went to a 3-4 it was at least obvious which DE was basically a 3-tech versus which correlated to SDE, likewise with the WDE/RLB distinctions, and which ILBs were MLBs or WLBs. The hardest part was parsing out hybrid spots versus when Michigan just started in a nickel, but it was quite obvious by which player they used. If Michigan was using the slot positions in a special way (e.g. slot receivers and spurs under RR), I counted them as such. That includes Funchess as a slot receiver and the base nickel with Countess or Leon Hall, but doesn't include Arrington, Manningham and Greg Mathews lining up anywhere (they're all wide receivers).
Ultimately I could say things like freshman Henne was X tall and started Y times, and once I had that I could properly weight that in a calculation of all QBs to determine an average QB starter.
And make charts!
Chart of freshman weight vs starter weight by position:
Starters are bigger than freshmen, duh. But certain positions required more growth than others. I thought the disparities at various positions were interesting. Both defensive end-liked positions demanded the biggest gains (even including some pretty tiny starters at times), with WDE (13%), SDE (12%) and DT (6.9%) the top three in starter/recruit disparity:
|Position (starters)||Avg Freshman
|Running back (1-2)||197||5'11/208||5.1%|
|Wide receiver (2-3)||184||6'2/198||6.7%|
|Tight end (1-3)||231||6'4/247||6.7%|
No, they rarely get taller. But I did find it interesting that the slot positions didn't see a lot of change from when those guys stepped on campus to when they graduated. But then they were rather young.
Chart of Average Starter Age:
If you didn't click for big you probably can't read on the left axis where it says a ONE equals a TRUE FRESHMAN—I figured that is less mathematical but more intuitive because "5th year senior" etc.
On average Michigan was starting a guy at least in his third year in the program. But nickel saw a lot of youth, while MLB (yikes!) and center (that seems obvious) rarely strayed from redshirt juniors and seniors unless they couldn't avoid it, or they had David Molk on hand. WLB was often used for MLBs in training.
I bet quarterback would have been much higher if the last decade's troubles didn't interfere. We can show that.
Wow, Michigan has had effectively older quarterback play EVERY SEASON since Tate and Denard were freshmen. Let's post this. Or one more thing:
Effective STAR (recruiting) Ratings of Starters
Remember all that work I did to create a consensus star rating between the sites, kind of like 247's composite but slightly less useful? Here's how much of it was on the field any given year:
Poor Rich Rod.
X spring tidbit so far that has you unreasonably excited about Y?
Brian: Well obviously I'm going to go with Ian Bunting making waves as an enormous skillet-handed dude. This is true to the spirit of this question because all we have is one tweet. But I like the tweet.
Bunting just snagged a fastball on skinny post with one hand. took it to the house. Drew raves from his teammates. Nice ball from malzone
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) March 1, 2016
Rivals recently had some team tidbits that oddly and explicitly trashed Bunting's ability. If that's accurate that makes me almost as much of a sad panda as Michigan ditching the spread punt, but it's unclear what that is even based on given the timing. Last year's offseason chatter—Morris is a real contender, watch out for Lawrence Marshall, this time Joe Bolden has put it together—had very little relationship with reality, so I'm hoping that gets put in the Big Bin Of Some Anonymous Guy Is Wrong.
I'm not even expecting Bunting to have a huge impact this year since he's a flex guy and one Jake Butt is still around, but I am hoping that we see him emerge into a clear heir apparent in preparation for a two-year run as an upperclassman. There isn't a tight end on the roster with quite the receiving upside of Bunting. I mean, maybe Gentry. But you know me and Ol' Skillet Hands.
[After the JUMP: more tweets that we treat as confirmation bias of good things]