In case the Big Ten Tournament isn't entertaining you right now…
Lovie Smith is the best Illinois football hire since…
Brian: I have no idea. I don't know who Illinois hires or does not hire.
Seth: /giphy zook
all orange and blue teams are the same.
BiSB: Maybe just "Did Illinois do a good or bad?"
Seth: Did giphy do a good or bad?
Brian: I'm assuming a bad because Illinois.
BiSB: Giphy did a zook.
Brian: But on the other hand, it seems kind of good?
I mean, Bill Cubit had a two year deal. He was already a lame duck. Maybe better to just pull the ripcord right now and get a head start on the Whoever's Next era. And, I mean, Lovie Smith was an NFL head coach for almost a decade. I'm not sure he'll do great, but amongst football coaches who would take the Illinois job in March he's got to be at the top of the list.
Adam: Probably can't be worse than this:
[After the JUMP we take Illinois seriously.]
#8 Michigan (20-11, 10-8 B1G) vs.
#9 Northwestern (20-11, 8-10)
Bankers Life Fieldhouse
|WHEN||Noon ET, Thursday|
|LINE||Michigan -2 (KenPom)|
PBP: Kevin Kugler
Analyst: Jon Crispin
Right: Alex Olahjuwon. [Upchurch]
A true must-win. Michigan isn't even among the first four teams out on the current Bracket Matrix. They need to win this game and upset Indiana in the following round to have a viable shot at making the NCAA Tournament field.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||30||Bryant McIntosh||So.||6'3, 185||87||25||No|
|Only Wildcat with a high assist rate (2nd B1G); eFG % plummeted in B1G play|
|G||3||Tre Demps||Sr.||6’3, 202||91||23||Yes|
|Off-guard often forced to create late in shot clock, low TO, better at 2’s than 3’s|
|F||34||Sanjay Lumpkin||Jr.||6’6, 220||57||11||Sorta|
|Wallflower with just 84 FGA, terrible combo of efficiency and usage|
|F||35||Aaron Falzon||Fr.||6’8, 213||61||17||Not Really|
|Active on offensive glass, mostly shoots 3’s at 36%, low turnovers|
|C||22||Alex Olah||Sr.||7’0, 275||47||24||Very|
|Has dealt with injuries, but still a good rim protector, efficient scorer on offense|
|G||20||Scottie Lindsey||So.||6’5, 205||46||18||No|
|Other half of SF platoon w/Lumpkin, Northwestern’s best shooter at 41% from 3|
|F||44||Gavin Skelly||So.||6’8, 225||29||16||Very|
|Good rebounding rates in limited minutes, efficient from 2, rarely shoots|
|C||12||Derek Pardon||Fr.||6’8, 230||26||19||Very|
|Classic freshman big guy profile: rebounds well, fouls a lot, only 2’s (but at 66%)|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
One of your big focuses in coaching has always been on the defensive line. What’s the adjustment been like for you to coaching linebackers?
“Well, yeah, so no, it really hasn’t. I’ve been a linebacker coach pretty much my whole career. I played it and coached it. I spent a year coaching d-line is all. It’s been pretty smooth. In December, you know, getting prepared for the bowl and just being surrounded by those guys who played so much football here in Joe Bolden and Des [Morgan] and [James] Ross, they helped my transition there in December and it’s been real smooth.”
You’re at a position where there’ve been a lot of losses so it’s kind of a key focus for you to get that ready. What’s that been like so far?
“Oh, it’s awesome, you know. It’s a challenge. We got to get some young guys ready to go, and we’ve got some great guys that are coming back that have played a lot of football, too. Ben Gedeon has stepped in and been an incredible leader right off the bat. And then coach Brown, coach Brown’s right in there with me with the backers. He’s a seasoned, veteran coach that understands how to get guys ready to go so it’s been pretty smooth. We’re working hard.”
Has Mike McCray been full go? He’s had a lot of shoulder issues over the years. Is he doing alright with that?
“Yeah, he’s been incredible over the past first five practices. He’s a pleasant surprise. You know, you kind of knew he had it in him and just his first five practices have been phenomenal.”
And is Jabrill working with you, or is he working with the safeties coaches still? What’s that situation?
“Uh, Jabrill works with a lot of people. You know, he’s with me, he’s with the safeties coaches, he’s kind of everywhere. He’s a smart football player that can take on a lot and we’re going to ask him to take on a lot, so I think the sky’s the limit on what positions he can play. We might even line him up at nose tackle this year if we can.”
When he’s up close to the line, what’s the biggest threat he presents to an offense?
“He can get to the quarterback in under a second off the ball. He’s got quickness. He’s going to put some o-linemen in some tough situations coming off the edge, and he can also drop and get to the flat real quick. And he can cover a guy from the line of scrimmage, be it a tight end or a back out of the backfield, so he can do some real dynamic things for us there.”
[After THE JUMP: “It’s their third defense here in three years and they’ve picked it up really well. It’s exciting to see. It hasn’t been as hard a transition as people might think.”]
Eno arrives, another Sione, another top RB offered
TX RB Eno Benjamin just completed a midweek official visit shortly after an offer that he'd been trying to get for over a year; prior to that visit Michigan and Iowa were a tentative top two, with Iowa leading. Benjamin was interested enough to send Lorenz a bunch of pictures from the trip, so that's a good sign. He also told Wiltfong his trip was "amazing," for whatever that's worth; he'll be at Northwestern, Iowa, and Arkansas over the next few days.
Benjamin is a different kind of back than most of the dudes currently on the roster:
"They're looking for a guy to change the pace," Benjamin said. "A guy who can run in between the tackles as well as lining up at slot and making a difference out there too."
Over the weekend Benjamin proved he is dangerous as a receiver, as he was the best running back competing in the Pylon 7-on-7 National Championships in that setting.
Harbaugh does like to screw with people by motioning TEs and RBs and FBs all over the place.
Also in RB recruiting, UT RB and Stanford commit Sione Heimuli-Lund is still hearing from Michigan:
Great talk with Michigan staff Coach Harbaugh, Wheatley and Tuioti. #MichiganWolverines#Jumpman ✔️
— Sione Lund (@LundSione) March 7, 2016
Lund talked to Brice Marich and said he'd try to visit, possibly for the spring game. All in favor of Polynesian tailbacks named Sione say "aye."
And Michigan has offered TN RB Ty Chandler, who said he would visit at some point over the summer in the aftermath. Tim Sullivan:
“I would definitely like to go up and visit to see something new. It’ll be different from the South, so that’d be interesting to go up there and plan a visit. Nothing is planned yet, but probably this summer. I’m starting to take a lot of trips now, and I’ll definitely try to take a trip up there this summer.”
Chandler doesn't have a top team, but LSU might be that team, if you get my drift. With that offer Michigan is vaguely in the recruitments of the top four RBs in the country per the composite; they're also in on three of the top five "all purpose backs." Are they particularly likely to get any of these dudes? Maybe CJ Cotman but Cotman wants to play D. The rest? Eh, long shots until otherwise noted.
This is my other brother Tedarrel
FL OL Tedarrel Slaton named Michigan his leader really early in his recruitment, which means something. He backed off that in favor of general neutrality, which also means something. In your Bayesian model of his recruitment that means Michigan is around 50/50, waiting for the other shoe to drop. These recruitments can go in one of two directions: nevermind that early leader or yes, that did matter.
In Slaton's case the direction seems positive. First, a neutral reporter from Bleacher Report bleacher reports thusly:
Spoke w/ 5-Star OL Tedarrell Slaton. Wants to see Alabama, Michigan & Ole Miss. Said Wolverines are on him hardest. pic.twitter.com/U0WiQYyUcl
— Sanjay Kirpalani (@SanjayKirpalani) March 6, 2016
(You can also check out Slaton getting his Backstreet on because the internet is rather obsessive.)
Meanwhile Slaton took a deep-cover unofficial visit:
“I visited Michigan recently, but I did not meet with the staff,” said Slaton. “I went up there to see my brother [Drake Lamont] play [basketball] for Western Michigan and we went over to take a look at Michigan.. I loved it. We got to see the weight room, the locker rooms, we got to walk on the field and see all the things they have done with the stadium. It’s nice, and I like it."
"It was a good experience, but it’s a little chilly up there.”
Slaton must have caught one of the recent snow storms instead of the 60-degree days that have generally followed them since Michigan's weather has decided to start careening wildly from one thing to another.
Per ESPN, Slaton has a top five of M, Clemson, FSU, Duke, and Tennessee. 247 posted a note on Slaton's recruitment that seemed pretty encouraging and named M, FSU, and Alabama as the main contenders—FSU and M may be a tentative top two. Lorenz cites an FSU source that doesn't think Slaton is actually that into the Seminoles. Long way to go but leaning towards "yes, early lead counts" in this one.
FWIW, 2016 TE signee Nick Eubanks is a hook for Michigan but it sounds like everyone in his top five features a former teammate.
Insert Moses promised land joke here
— MOSES LAW FIRM, LLC (@mlfllc) March 5, 2016
Michigan finally offered FL LB Dylan Moses, a highly highly touted gent who may end up the #1 kid in the class. Moses is at IMG, originally from Lousiana, and an LSU decommit. Per Webb this has been coming for a while but Michigan wanted to get some sort of indication he was serious before offering:
“Michigan was hesitant before because it seemed like a foregone conclusion he was going to either Alabama or LSU,” The Michigan Insider’s Sam Webb said. “He said he wanted to hear from Michigan, so that opened the door. He was a guy that insisted he was interested in Michigan so that led to the offer.”
If that sounds odd to you what with Michigan spraying out "offers" to anyone with passing familiarity with football or cool hair, it sounds odd to me as well. I'm guessing that Michigan was trying to get the kid to commit to some sort of visit before offering. In the aftermath of the visit, he did sound pretty interested:
"Since I haven’t been up to Michigan, for me to see them practice personally helps [Michigan]. … When I watched the practice, I saw the determination that they have, and played with throughout the season. To see that, it did help them with me.” …
“I love it. I have wanted an offer from Michigan for so long. Since coach Harbaugh got there, you can see the impact he will have.
Uphill battle for sure but Harbaugh. Like many prospects of his ilk, Moses plans to go to Signing Day before a final decision. LSU and Alabama are the top competition.
More Spring Game/practice visitors
Add these gentlemen to the pile:
- TX TE Major Tennison. Tennison is a Texas commit who's obviously a bit soft. Lorenz thinks Michigan and other schools will get a swing at him. Probably dependent on how well Texas does this year. Guy has a Bama offer, too, so may be underrated as a composite three-star.
- NJ DT Corey Bolds and NJ LB Drew Singleton plan a visit on the 24th to take in a practice. Both guys attend Paramus Catholic, of course.
- MI WR Donovan Peoples-Jones says he would "like to" make the Spring Game but doesn't know if he'll be able to; the next milestone in his recruitment will be a cut to five over the summer.
FL OL Robert Hainsey reconfirmed that he will be there with Lorenz.
Oh, look, Ohio
For those wondering when and if Michigan would ever get in on Ohio kids, it appears your answer is 2018. Michigan was behind the curve for all these kids since much of the staff came from the NFL and Urban Meyer was not. A gander at any 2017 state ranking for Ohio will show most of the high profile guys already off the board to OSU; Michigan has focused its attention elsewhere rather than go for the leftovers.
That's set to change, as Michigan has offers out to a number of 2018 Ohio folks who are at least showing reciprocal interest. Teammates Antwaun Johnson and Leonard Taylor, an ILB and DE respectively, will visit this weekend. RB Jaelen Gill plans a visit next weekend.
Michigan is involved with a couple kids in the 2017 class. TE Trey Pugh plans a visit this weekend:
“The only coach I have talked to is Coach Jay Harbaugh, and we have been building a relationship,” Pugh said.
He was just at Duke and plans visits to NW and Penn State; Ohio State has also offered.
News out of the Opening regional in SoCal, where Michigan is fighting USC for a half-dozen prospects they hope to get maybe one or two of:
- CA WR Greg Johnson says Michigan and Florida are schools he will visit officially in fall. USC is thought to lead.
- CA DE Jaelan Phillips has a tentative top five of Stanford (potential leader), UCLA, ND, M, and Alabama. That is the kind of list that indicates a willingness to leave the West Coast.
- CA OL Wyatt Davis says Bama leads, apparently. He will visit all schools.
- CA CB Jaylon Redd has a tentative top two of M and USC.
- AL OL Kendall Randolph has an offer and attends the Alabama high school where Michigan will hold its upcoming satellite camp. Randolph thinks having Jim Harbaugh come to him is "awesome" and will definitely attend.
- Michigan offered TN OL Trey Smith a bit late; Smith plans a Midwest swing through ND and OSU that he may or may not be able to fit Michigan in on.
- Michigan also offered OR DT Marlon Tuipulotu; says he'll visit but doesn't know when, etc.
- Offer to, tentative visit plan from GA OT D'ante Demery.
- FL WR Leroy Henley has one of those not-top-fours that includes Michigan. Sullivan landed an interview and he said he's trying to make "at least two visits," which sounds pretty good.
- UCLA leads for UT S Chaz Ah You; no mention of Michigan. Close to a happy trails there.
Etc.: Scout says FL OL Kai-Leon Herbert and FL CB Stanford Samuels III are risers after The Opening's Miami camp. MS RB Cam Akers decommits from Alabama. Michigan is trying to get in on him, but Mississippi black hole and all that.
The administration of D.J. Durkin really showed what can be accomplished when you let a safety play free. Unburdened from the strictures of run-stopping, Michigan's free safety in its Cover 1 system had the luxury of reacting to anything that could happen downfield. If you wanted to go deep, you had to test the corners on the sidelines. The defense put up some of the best raw passing numbers in the country, and but for an odd number of dropped interceptions and the weirdness against Minnesota the advanced stats would have matched. Then we met Ohio State, and the bubble burst.
The things we're hearing about Brown's defense is he's a bit more of a socialist when it comes to distribution of run responsibility. While he's happy to let the freedom ring against passing teams, against running teams he will keeps his safeties down where they can help. That doesn't mean he runs quarters like Virginia Tech or Michigan State or Ohio State, but it has led to optimism around these parts because we take it to mean Brown's going to have the same strengths against spread to run offenses that those defenses have.
I figured it might be good to show the two approaches. Let's start this week with Durkin's. Here's how not to defend a speed option:
That was bad. Letting the offense flank you is bad. Letting a running quarterback in a mostly running offense walk to your edge for 8 yards on 3rd and short and not even need his pitch man against your absolute base defense is bad.
If there was such a thing as program RPS this is where Urban Meyer dropped a +3 on D.J. Durkin. This blog's best X's and O's advisor Steve Sharik lost his excrement at this, and explained why at the time. I'll go over it again simply because it matters in what we're looking for from Brown.
[Why? What can be done? Well for starters you can hit the JUMP]
Sunday, March 7th, 2016
Ohio State 6, #6 Michigan 5 (OT)
Joshua goal, Ohio State
OSU 1 UM 0 PPG 10:15 Assists: Brevig
Joshua gets the puck on the wing and cuts to the middle. There’s a 2-on-1 opportunity and he tries to force the pass through the defender, but it bounces off of him…and right back to Joshua.
Joshua fires a perfect shot just under the bar. Racine read pass and started to push across, but he course-corrects and drops to the ice when he sees a shot coming. He pulls his blocker up but doesn’t get a piece of the puck.
Kearney goal, Ohio State
OSU 2 UM 0 EV 15:45 Assists: Dalrymple & Parran
Kearney cuts to the slot with Cecconi draped all over him. He skates through the outstretched stick…
and is able to pull the puck under while flipping his stick over. Racine hit the ice too early and is now forced to try and poke check the puck away.
Kearney can’t get back to the puck until he’s at a very sharp angle, and even then he’s only able to throw the puck horizontally across the crease thanks to Racine’s outstretched leg and Cecconi’s stick. The puck hits Racine’s skate and goes in because that’s just the kind of weekend it was.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest]