he grew a beard
Whatcha gonna do when Mark Weisman runs wild on you? Lose. Definitely lose.
Minnesota kicked off the 2013 season with four straight wins, providing hope to a program that hasn't had much of that lately. Those wins, however, came against UNLV, New Mexico State, Western Illinois, and San Jose State. Faced with something vaguely resembling a real opponent last week, the Gophers fell back to earth, and not gently—a 23-7 home loss to Iowa that looks even worse on the stat sheet. For the third straight Michigan game, I'm here to tell you that the Wolverines should have a decided edge on both sides of the ball, and of course that means Saturday's game will be a harrowing experience.
Because something out there has mercy for me, the game torrent began at around the nine minute mark of the first quarter, and some plays were randomly excised. I stopped charting after Minnesota threw an interception with four minutes left in the game.
Before I get into the breakdown, I have to note this moment worthy of Awful Announcing. The Aflac trivia question asked for the only Hawkeye in the history of the Iowa-Minnesota rivalry to score touchdowns in four different ways against the Gophers in his career. Without skipping a beat, ESPN analyst Ed Cunningham said... Dallas Clark. A very good player, sure, but also a tight end.
As a Michigan fan still spooked by the near-loss to Iowa in 1997, I had a pretty good idea of the answer: Tim Dwight, a WR/PR/KR whom the Hawkeyes used for a variety of trick plays. Mike Patrick—Mike Patrick!—immediately mocked Cunningham for being so remarkably wrong.
[Hit THE JUMP for the breakdown, in which Minnesota is not so good at defense and even worse at offense.]
About last week:
NOTHING BAD HAPPENED. EVERYONE WAS ON VACATION.
Minnesota (4-1, 0-1 B1G)
More or less (h/t Seth)
Last game: Minnesota 43, San Jose St. 24 (W); Iowa 23, Minnesota 7 (L)
Recap: The Gophers are probably who we thought they were. They continued their streak of solid-but-unconvincing wins over bad opponents by beating San Jose State 43-24 despite giving up 296 yards passing… in the first half. The Spartans (NTS) totaled 439 yards passing to Minnesota’s 71, but Minnesota outgained them on the ground by over 300 yards and caused three key turnovers.
However, Minnesota’s dreams of mediocrity hit the wall hard last week against, uh, mighty Iowa (see also Noodle, Giant, infra). Philip Nelson came back from a pulled hammy and replaced Mark Leidner, but threw for only 135 yards (5.6 YPA) with two picks.
When asked why he replaced the marginally effective Leidner with even less effective Nelson, Jerry Kill explained that, “A guy loses his job if the other guy’s playing three times better than he was when he got hurt.” Personally, I think this is a mistake. Regardless of who takes the snaps, Minnesota is pretty much incapable of throwing the football, so they’re going to be one-dimensional regardless. If you're going to be one-dimensional, you should probably go with your best personnel in that dimension. And to me, Leidner is more dynamic. Not Denard-style dynamic, of course. More Tebow/Leroy Hoard/Defensive-End-with-an-impressive-fumble-return dynamic. But when you're facing stacked boxes (as Minnesota will all year), you may as well go with the guy who can break a few tackles.
This team is as frightening as*: Minnesota, circa all the years. Fear level = 3
* Author’s Note: In the most recent version of Opponent Watch, I may have replaced all of the fear levels with unreasonable numbers and abstract concepts. The factors that induced this change (i.e. the Akron Yackkening) continue to apply with equal, nay greater weight and force after the near-death experience against the Fightin’ Used-to-be-Pasqualonis. Until Michigan returns to something approaching form, assume all fear levels are “infinity times infinity.” However, I’ll also place actual 1-10 numbers to indicate relative level of infinite fear.
Michigan should worry about: The performance in this game probably tells us how the rest of the year goes. As a result, you’re going to experience the same every snap “oh god what does that three yard gain mean” feeling that you experienced with, say, Western Michigan ’09 or UConn ‘10. This is a terrible way to experience a mid-season game against Minnesota.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: This sets up as a really good matchup for Michigan, especially defensively. Gnashing of teeth and generic FEAR notwithstanding, this should be an ego booster.
When they play Michigan: Move thee away from the nose, Jibreel. Large men comin’
Next game: vs. #17/19 Michigan
- Offensive line changes. You know this already, but here it is anyway: Chris Bryant to left guard, Graham Glasgow to center. This wasn't mentioned during the presser, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were also changes at tight end and receiver.
- Jake Ryan is participating in some full contact stuff. Still wearing a red jersey though, obviously.
“Good practices. We’ve had that. We’ve stacked them together. We expect that this afternoon. I think the competitiveness and physicalness that we need to play with, we’ve had. I think how we’ve responded as a team last week and this week has been really good.”
Changes to the offensive line?
“Those guys have all done a tremendous job competing. If we were going to kick the ball off today, Graham [Glasgow] would be the center. Chris Bryant would be the left guard with Joe Burzynski and Kyle Bosch being part of that mix at some point possibly. Jack [Miller]’s done a great job competing, but Graham would start and Jack always is ready to go.”
So that would be the lineup Saturday?
“Well, if we kicked off now, that’s what we’d do. You never know. There’s still some days left.”
I may have accidentally typed "Christ Bryant" when attempting to tag this post.
Per all of everyone on twitter but here's Tim because we go back:
Brady Hoke confirms Chris Bryant and Graham Glasgow are the LG and C, respectively.
That was couched in "as of today"-type rhetoric, but you can stop with the rumblings and bumblings now. It's all but official that Michigan's going to debut Chris Bryant on Saturday. Heiko mentions that Hoke also brought up Kyle Bosch and Joey Burzynski as guys "in the mix," along with Miller.
FWIW, I'd heard that Michigan was going to start Bryant against UConn but for a shoulder injury that week in practice. Parsing out how much confidence this gives you about Bryant's ability versus how much terror it gives you about Bryant's ability to remain on the field is left as an exercise to the reader.
BONUS. HEY YOU I REMEMBER YOU
Hoke said Jake Ryan has been doing some full contact work "but we're smart with it," in term of letting him do too much.
No return date set, so not this week. Indiana still seems reasonable.
Michigan just landed OR SF Kameron Chatman according to various folks but most importantly Kameron Chatman. At 6'7", Chatman is either a 3 or 4 at Michigan and is a consensus top 50 player. He joins FL C Ricky Doyle in a 2014 class that will likely grow to four.
|4*, #23 overall
|4*, #29 overall||4*, #49 overall
|4*, #36 overall
Chatman's ratings are in a tight, elite range with ESPN, the relative skeptic, still declaring him a top-50 player. Scout's the most optimistic, placing him one spot from a five star rating. Everyone rates him as a small forward, but at 6'7" with ostentatiously long arms, Chatman could easily play the 4 in Beilein's system if he fills out—he's currently 25 pounds short of Glenn Robinson III's 220.
Robinson's actually a good comparison in terms of profile, as Chatman shot up recruiting boards after an impressive AAU season as a rising junior. For example, he debuted in Scout's top 100 at #42 last July, and since then he's continued to rise incrementally. His rankings are only a few slots short of where Robinson's finished.
A growth spurt from 6'3" to his current 6'7" has a lot to do with that. That necessarily leaves him a skinny guy still adjusting from his previous guard role to more of a wing/post role. This creates an UPSIDE (but raw) theme in a lot of his evaluations. Rivals's generic profile eval is a good example:
Big wing is still developing and growing into his body. One of the top rebounding wings in the class of 2014 and a very alert playmaker off the dribble. A good mid range jump shooter who is extending his range. His toughness allows him to play as a skilled four in a small lineup.
ESPN's Dave Telep was gaga about the guy, but strictly as a developmental prospect:
5. Kameron Chatman, SF: I'm feeling out on a limb here with Chatman. When I watch him, I see a guy in need of a cheeseburger and a weight room but with the potential to be a pro someday. Others receive more attention, but to me, there's something about his overall skill set and lack of physical development that makes me his potential exciting. I'd have no problem taking a flier on him and labeling him as one of the best 25 prospects in the class.
Telep would later name him the guy most likely to track down his peers late in the recruiting process, citing his "monster ceiling"; ESPN's evaluation praises his "terrific frame with very long arms and overall great length."
What Chatman promises is a tantalizing combination of point forward skills…
What you have to love about the 6-foot-6 (and growing) Chatman is his versatility. At times, he brings the ball up the floor and initiates the offense, others he plays on the wing, and then he plays in the high post and the offense is run through him there.
…as skilled as any player in the West, capable of playing any position from 1-4. …could end up closer to 6-foot-8 or taller by the time he hits a college court. His ball handling skills are fantastic for a player his size and he's a quality passer with point guard instincts.
…a slick passer with excellent court vision who understands how to predict defensive movements. Both on the interior and at range, he alertly hits cutters and spots open teammates on the block.
…very young-looking, and still pretty slender, but he’s one of the elite prospects in the west for 2014. He’s got a nice lefty stroke that’s good to about the stripe, a point guard’s feel for the game and excellent ball skills.
…Beilein-thrilling basketball IQ…
superbly skilled 6-foot-6 wing/forward is beginning to grow into his maturing body. His length, high basketball IQ and point guard mentality make him one of the more unique prospects in the west for 2014.
This kid just knows how to play the game. …basketball IQ is one of the best in his class out west. The versatile forward usually positions himself perfectly on the glass, which helps him corral rebounds on both ends and when he has the ball, he doesn’t take long to use his high level vision to make the right pass to a teammate.
…and excellent rebounding for a wing-ish guy.
He is also a way-above-average rebounder for a wing.
His rebounding stands out. Chatman is a conscientious boards-man on both ends, and he's especially dangerous on the offensive glass.
…benefits handsomely from outstanding height and length. He's not only long, he plays big because he doesn't mind contact and has a knack for using his knees, hips and elbows to clear space.
…he did connect on a couple of high arching mid-range jumpers Chatman struggled for the most part this weekend.
His jump shot can be hit or miss, but the southpaw wields a very high-arching shot that's difficult to block.
His mid-range jumper was falling and his three-point shot arches so high it looks like it might hit the rafters. When he's connecting from the outside it really opens up the rest of his game.
…that may indicate he's never going to be a Stauskas gunner. There is a trajectory that is the trajectory basketball has agreed upon is the right one, and if you deviate from that significantly you're either a savant or not a high-end shooter. A number of the evals do say he's got a good mid-range jumper and can extend out to the three point line. I'd guess he's going to be like GRIII in that department, at least to start: he'll take open threes and connect at a mediocre rate.
The other downsides are the usual with a kid who hit the late growth spurt that leaves him a jumbo guy with mad skills: he's skinny, and can be awkward at times. Scout sums him up:
Chatman may open his career as a highly regarded utility player, rather than someone who's ready to step in and become a first or second scoring option. He's still seeking a polished offensive identity, but while he's cultivating his scoring attack he'll nevertheless contribute in myriad other aspects.
Chatman's main suitors were Michigan, Arizona, Oregon, USC, and Connecticut. He also had offers from Memphis, UCLA, Washington, and a couple others.
FAKE 40 TIME
Wait a minute, this is a basketball post.
There's very little out there, as Chatman missed his junior year after a transfer to California.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Chatman's a boom-or-bust type in the mold of a… uh. Sam Dekker? That's the best I've got in the current Big Ten. Dekker was a beanpole 6'7" recruit with excellent ballhandling skills for his size; Chatman is similar. Chatman is more of a rebounder, less of a shooter (Dekker was 39% from three in year one) and probably will have a similar impact as a freshman.
The ESPN guys compared him to Tayshawn Prince, which is another possibility if he extends his shooting range to three and grows another couple inches. Also, remember when you were sad that Keita Bates-Diop shocked people by picking Ohio State? Well, they cloned that dude and called him Kameron Chatman.
When Chatman enters next year Michigan will be down Jordan Morgan, Mitch McGary, and Glenn Robinson III. That'll probably pull Andrew Donnall towards the five, leaving most of the minutes at the four for Chatman, Zak Irvin, and whoever the second combo forward is in this class.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Chatman's commitment gives Michigan flexibility for the final two guys, as he could be considered a three or four for Beilein depending on whether they get more of a wing type or a post type with guy #4; #3 is going to be a shooting guard.
That leaves Donte Grantham, DJ Wilson, and Jonah Bolden in play. Grantham is deciding this week between Michigan and Clemson, and Wilson is a presumed lock if Grantham doesn't grab the last spot. Assuming one of the first two drops, Michigan will have to execute some contortions if it's going to add Bolden in the late signing period; he'll have to establish himself as just too good not to take in his year at Findlay Prep if Michigan is going to add him as a fifth guy in 2014.
Chatman had struck up a relationship with MS SG Devin Booker, FWIW, and that may help alleviate the Tyler Ulis pull at Kentucky. Michigan's pretty much stuck waiting for Booker or James Blackmon Jr to pick Kentucky and hoping to swoop in on the one still out there.
Molk/Definitely Not Molk [Heiko]
We waited to pass judgment on this offensive line until they weren't freshmen or true freshmen. We waited for the end of spring and and the end of fall and until we saw them play actual football, and do so against actual NFL-bound defensive linemen. We waited after Akron because everybody was getting a mulligan. We waited until after the UConn game was UFR'd. While nobody among the struggling is so old that their careers are discountable, the evidence is clear that Michigan, so far, hasn't had five guys who can credibly block at a collegiate level.
So…depth chart today:
LT: Brian Cook—turned down NFL to write about college
LG: Ace Anbender—Good find, should be multi-year starter, moonlighted at first as a…
C: Coach Brown—Recipient of much internet scorn lately. A good sport about it.
RG: Blue in South Bend—Top young prospect, struggles with moderation.
RT: Seth Fisher—Been here forever, appreciated but consensus is he's not a star like Brian
|First rule of position group panic: anyone on the depth chart with a plausible excuse for not playing yet is a god. [Upchurch]|
And the question:
The OL complaints have had a few weeks now to percolate through reality and drip a little possibility of personnel changes into our cups. How do we feel about this? How much improvement would you expect out of an assumed Bryant->LG, Glasgow->Center, Miller->Bench plan, and what's the catch? Any other moves you'd consider?
Brian: There are two catches with the proposed Bryant insertion:
Bryant is liable to catch on fire at any moment. He's injury-prone. This is often an overblown thing better attributable to bad luck than anything else, but with very large offensive linemen it's a real thing, especially ones coming off a leg injury who end up getting their knee drained just before the season.
A position switch for Glagsow may limit his effectiveness. Can he snap? Can he get the line calls right? Will he have the requisite agility? That move seems like a recipe for more of the same when it comes to mental errors unless Glasgow is even more of a player than I think he is after four games.
Those issues are not enough to keep Miller on the field after consecutive rough outings against low-level competition against both pass and run. If they're going to continue with the stretch, the center is probably the single most important guy on your OL and Miller is busting too often both mentally and physically not to attempt a change. How effective your stretch is going to be when Chris Bryant is trying to move laterally remains unknown. Add that to the pile of issues, I guess. Here:
Does a Bryant/Kalis guard pairing throw away your offseason prep? Michigan wants to run the stretch for some reason. Their guards don't seem like good fits. Can you run inside zone now? Power?
I feel not good about midseason switches; I still feel that there will be improvement; there is no other move to consider except prepping Bosch or Kugler to enter the lineup in the event Bryant gets hurt or doesn't perform.
[More responses after the jump.]