mesmerism! presidential assassinations! circuses on fire!
play this man in all kinds of weather [Bryan Fuller]
Autobench bitchin'. 1-3-1 after halftime not a great move. Would still give Beilein all my food. In praise of Spike. Center position down the road. Dawkins offer lack confusion part sixteen. Chatman! Life!
Back in it. Margin of error very slim now. Werenski a terror on both ends, no matter who's defending. Goalie business.
GIMMICKY SPRING PRACTICE SECTION
TOP FIVES! Our top five most secure and least secure projected starters. You'll never guess what our least secure spot is. (You have never seen football and are naming positions in cricket.)
"Across 110th Street"
"King of the Road," (spectacularly drunk) REM
"Wabash Cannonball," Townes Van Zandt
"Hercules," Aaron Neville
THE USUAL LINKS
Will Costello Visit? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Michigan's top target at quarterback, California four-star KJ Costello, has repeatedly stated his intention to take a trip to Ann Arbor in the near future; he's also hinted at a forthcoming decision.
Several reporters caught up with Costello at the Pylon National 7-on-7 Championship last weekend in Las Vegas, and it's unclear whether or not he'll make it to campus before a decision. The lack of clarity comes from quotes that directly contradict each other. Here's Costello talking to Scout's Greg Biggins ($):
Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita quarterback K.J. Costello could be closing in on a decision.
"I think it will happen sometime in March," Costello said. "I don't think I'm going to take any more visits, I have a good idea what I want to do. With Stanford and USC, I was always going back and forth every other day but I'm pretty set now and it's just a matter of doing it.
Same Costello, same weekend, different reporter—247's Steve Wiltfong ($):
“I’m pretty close [to a decision]. Day in and day out I’m trying to think If I feel like I’m feeling the same way. If I’m feeling the same way four, five, seven days in a row, I’ll make my decision.”
Ranked by the 247Sports Composite as the nation’s No. 4 pro-style quarterback and No. 42 prospect overall, Costello may take one more visit.
“I’ve been talking to (Jim) Harbaugh quite a bit,” he said. “He wants to get me out there as soon as possible. I think I might head out there during the week next week, if I can find a flight. Or in two weeks.”
Costello also told GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz that he's trying to set up a visit, but his next couple weekend are booked with Elite 11 camps and he's unsure if he can miss school for a trip ($).
It doesn't look great for Costello getting to Ann Arbor before a decision. While he's been on campus before, that wouldn't be good for the chances that he'll choose Michigan over either of the in-state finalists.
If Costello drops to Stanford or USC, the quarterback picture could still gain a lot of clarity soon. Five-star WA QB Jacob Eason told Wiltfong that while Michigan is making a bigger push than any other school for him to reconsider his commitment, "something would have to go wrong with Georgia" for him to make a change ($). He's leaving the door ajar, but only just.
That leaves four-star IN QB Brandon Peters, who's slated to visit for the Spring Game. Michigan pushed to the forefront of Peters' recruitment when they offered shortly after NSD, and there's been a lot of optimism that he'll commit so long as no other quarterback takes the spot before he gets to campus. At the time, Costello seemed like a more legitimate possibility; at this point, I'd say Peters is the safer bet to end up in the class.
[Hit THE JUMP for a five-star visitor, new offers, and more.]
What is this? Folks who cover the USMNT drop lists like this projecting the 23 guys who end up on the next World Cup team. I have appropriated it. Regarding the number of tickets: 22 starters on offense and defense + 2 kickers + nickelback + FLEX TE + fullback.
THIS IS THE PRE-SPRING UPDATE: Mostly pre-spring, anyway. We usually do one of these in the immediate aftermath of the regular season and then one before spring practice starts. This year was a little different because the coaching search made it difficult to project anything.
PACK YOUR BAGS
Odd choice at #1? Maybe, but Lewis blazed past established starters to become Michigan's most consistent defensive back and figures to get buckets and buckets of playing time even with reasonable competition. Peppers move to safety seals it. Speaking of…
2. S Jabrill Peppers, Fr.* [Last time: NR]
…there's no way Peppers isn't a major factor right now. He was on the verge of wresting away a starting job last year and is now earmarked for a spot that saw a lot of rotation and little production a year ago. Massively athletic space players do not come along often enough to pretend he's not a lock.
Meanwhile, Jarrod Wilson survived yet another season of panicked shuffling that occasionally pointed the finger in his direction for reasons that remain mysterious. Wilson is a very boring safety. We love boring safeties. We remember non-boring safeties. We tremble at this memory.
4. WLB Desmond Morgan, Sr.* [Last time: 6]
Hand injury was ill-timed for last year, excellent for this year. Morgan has been a model of consistency since his arrival and should assert himself as the QB of the defense again. A thumper who stops guys on contact, Morgan makes up for a lack of athleticism with quick thinking. A fifth year from him should be extremely productive.
5. LT Mason Cole, So. [Last time: NR]
Was adequate as true freshman LT, which bodes very well for his future. Lacks ideal size; probably never a road-grader. Still, difficult to envision a scenario where he gets replaced. Moved? Vaguely possible. Not on the field? No way.
6. FLEX Jake Butt, Jr. [Last time: 9]
Fully healthy and pushing 250 pounds, Butt has to be ecstatic about his immediate future under Harbaugh. Butt caught 21 passes a year ago in slightly limited time and figures to double that, maybe triple it if things go well. Zach Ertz 2.0? Pretty much. Blocking? Something of a question mark but it's not like there are alternatives with smaller Qs there.
UNLESS SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENS
Ross never developed into the force his freshman year promised, but a brief dalliance with RJS last year was quickly proven inadvisable. A rushing Penn State game suggests that there's a real player in there if the coaches can just unlock it; pressure from behind is minimal.
Sometimes there's a man… I won't say a hero, 'cause what's a hero… but sometimes there's a man, and I'm talking about Joe Kerridge here… well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that's Kerridge. In Harbaugh's offense. And even if he's a fullback, sometimes there's a man…
9.NT Ryan Glasgow, Jr.* [Last time: NR]
Glasgow #1 was a shock starter at NT, which was momentarily terrifying. Then he was mostly great. He was overpowered from time to time, something that happens to even touted sophomore NTs; he more than held his own for a rush defense that was near-great until late in games when the offense's incompetence exhausted them.
10. G Graham Glasgow, Sr* [Last time: 16]
Two-year starter progressed with the rest of his unit last year and will be extremely difficult to dislodge as long as he executes his assignments more consistently than anyone else on the roster. Quality twitter feed, too. Give this man a scholarship. Heck, give him two. Man has cats to wear.
11. CB Blake Countess, Sr* [Last time: 13]
Brutally exposed by Will Fuller in ND game, and never really recovered. M returned to zone, which was much more suited to his skillset of consistency and sneaky anticipation—can he play man this time around? Relying on coaching improvement to get there… which is possible.
12. MLB Joe Bolden, Sr. [Last time: NR]
I was never as high on Bolden as the previous staff, which threw him out there constantly despite a bunch of blown assignments and a lot of hesitant tackling that brought the wood only if it was balsa. But he does have a lot of experience and guys put it together suddenly at tough spots like linebacker. Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray lurk.
FAIRLY SAFE BET
13. C Jack Miller, Sr* [Last time: NR]
Generally solid but uninspiring play a year ago; did grasp and maintain center job for the whole year, displacing Glasgow and fending off changes after Kalis and Magnuson both got healthy. Kugler will push from behind but established starting centers are rarely displaced because knowing the calls is such a huge part of the position.
14. NICKEL Wayne Lyons, Sr* [Last time: NR]
Stanford fans are a bit meh on the guy. He did get a bunch of playing time for last year's #2 passing D in YPA terms, so he can't be that bad. Sour grapes? Yeah maybe. Lyons does have to fend off guys like Stribling and Richardson, but it's more likely he yanks Countess's job than evaporates.
Would somebody just throw this guy the ball in space a few times a game to see what happens? And not pick up irrelevant penalties on punt return touchdowns? And stop using him like a circus freak and instead regard him as an actual slot receiver? LOOK AT HIM DANCE GIVE HIM THE BALL
16. 3TECH Willie Henry, Jr.* [Last time: 10]
Did not have breakout season he seemed poised to after bear-strong freshman campaign. Still saw slim plurality of PT in extensive DL rotation. Could this be the year? Pad level, amirite? Wormley, Godin will continue pushing. Henry still has the upside.
17. WR Amara Darboh, Jr* [Last time: NR]
Michigan's second-leading receiver a year ago with nearly 500 yards; in Funchess's absence figures to continue possession role and try to add some of the leapy bits people think he possesses. I'd say he needs to fill Funchess's downfield shoes, but nobody threw deep last year so nevermind. Let's not talk about this. Let's talk about PROM KING.
18. G Kyle Kalis, Jr* [Last time: NR]
Moved back into a starting spot last year when Magnuson went down injured and did not relinquish the job. Brings the promise of POWER and GRUNTING, something Harbaugh will appreciate—this gives him an edge over slightly slighter competitors. Job by no means assured, but he was functional last year. That's good!
19. DE Taco Charlton, Jr. [Last time: NR]
Here mostly by default. Did flash beastly power occasionally last year, and essentially only option at SDE unless something weird happens. Probably still a better fit on the weakside but DE is a spot where Michigan is thin and young. At least that's unusual instead of the whole damn roster. See: all of last seven years.
20. P Kenny Allen, Jr.* [Last time: NR]
Waited patiently for his turn and should get it unless Baxter imports an Aussie to rugby his way into our hearts. Allen is a conventional boomer who impressed in the extensive punting demos Hoke tended to put on whenever forced to make a gesture towards fan service.
21. K Andrew David, Fr. [Last time: NR]
Is the only scholarship kicker on the roster, so that's a nice head start. Big leg should slot in on kickoffs easily. Field goals? I dunno man, kickers are weird. Would like to have kept JJ McGrath around for competition. Options past David are… uh… Bueller?
IN A BATTLE
22. T Ben Braden, Jr.* [Last time: 26]
Will be under heavy pressure from Magnuson and LTT, but did play all last year and improved from shaky start. Absolutely huge, so if he gets technique religion will be the kind of guy who can cave in the end on power like Harbaugh wants. Still the OL most under threat.
23. WR Jehu Chesson, Jr.* [Last time: NR]
Last year's #3 WR brings blocking chops out of proportion to his size but remains raw a few years into his college career. Will get competition from Ways, Canteen, and maybe Norfleet in TE-heavy environment. Still have to figure a guy who lays out his opponent is going to be good w Harbs.
24. DE Mario Ojemudia, Sr. [Last time: NR]
Death stare proprietor is incumbent at DE. Will get major push from Lawrence Marshall, who's already the same size as the somewhat diminutive Ojemudia and impressing in practice. There's not much depth here so both will play. The starting job could easily change hands.
25. TE AJ Williams, Sr. [Last time: NR]
Bearding up good move for blocking TE who hasn't blocked a lot of guys so far. Frustrating career could be rescued by Harbaugh's proven ability to install toughness… or ended by it. H-back types, Butt, and maybe slot receivers could look like better options, and then there's Ian Bunting. He's not a blocker yet, but is Williams going to be one?
26. RB Ty Isaac, So.* [Last time: NR]
Massive skill position uncertainty part one. Green missed a bunch of holes and then broke his clavicle, but he's closer to returning than ACL-cursed Johnson and certainly faster than Smith. Ty Isaac then? Okay. There's a reason this is near the bottom, but not quite at it because…
27. QB Alex Malzone, Fr. [Last time: NR]
…Michigan returns 87 passing attempts, all from Shane Morris. Last year he completed 35% for 3.2 YPA and three INTs. There is bad, and then there is that. Jim Harbaugh reacted to this situation by adding quarterbacks from everywhere. The reader is invited to pick one out of a hat. The wild guess here is EE freshman Alex Malzone, who was crazy productive en route to a state title a year ago. He got a big gold hat because of it. But YMMV.
PUSHING FROM BEHIND
QB Shane Morris—massive improvement necessary to even stay in the conversation
QB Wilton Speight—can he overcome the Borges curse?
QB Zach Gentry—probably needs some seasoning but upside in spades
RB Derrick Green—maybe the vision issues were Fred Jackson caused?
RB DeVeon Smith—slow; breaks tackles like a mofo
RB Drake Johnson—ACLs are not his friends
C Patrick Kugler—sure thing (for OL, anyway) entering third year
G/T Erik Magnuson—lost job due to injury last year and moonlit as blocking TE
G David Dawson—added significant weight and should push
T Logan Tuley-Tillman—chatter from inside program is that light has come on
WR DaMario Jones—slot playing time available
WR Freddy Canteen—hype fizzled last year, but jungle beats man
WR Moe Ways—Hemingway 2.0?
WR Drake Harris—practicing! full go and everything! still skinny as a rail though
NT Ondre Pipkins—hyped recruit got ACL tear at worst possible time. Could push through Henry. NT is platoon city, so not a huge distinction.
NT Bryan Mone—I've been waiting for a large Tongan DL my whole life.
3T Chris Wormley—will at least platoon.
3T Maurice Hurst—quick first step as advertised
3T Matt Godin—could be drafted at SDE
WDE Lawrence Marshall—pushing Ojemudia hard
WDE Rueben Jones—true freshman rarities in this post, hooray!
SDE Shelton Johnson—…except at DE
SDE Henry Poggi—SDE now, still needs some time. Maybe trying out at TE, which…
SAM Royce Jenkins-Stone—Ross rebuffed challenge last year
WLB Mike McCray—should be the year he threatens for real. WDE test run?
MLB Ben Gedeon—will usurp some PT in prep for next year
CB Channing Stribling—will be good if he just stops phasing out.
CB Terry Richardson—maybe the coaching change will be good for him
CB Keith Washington—Harbaugh favorite probably needs seasoning
S Delano Hill—nominal starter a year ago but injured a lot
S Jeremy Clark—lots of PT, meh production
S Dymonte Thomas—insane burned redshirt makes it late early for him
File photo [Barron]
Yes, we have to talk about it.
John Beilein is a great coach. His tenure at Michigan has left no doubt. Even great coaches, however, have their downsides. Beilein's rigidity with his foul policy qualifies, and—along with a perplexing insistence on sticking with the 1-3-1 while Maryland rained in second-half threes—it cost Michigan a shot at this game.
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman picked up his second foul with 12:27 to go in the first half; the score was tied at nine. Zak Irvin committed his second with 6:55 to play in the half; Michigan held a 19-18 lead. Beilein went with a lineup that included walk-ons Andrew Dakich and Sean Lonergan, and didn't re-insert Rahk or Irvin until the second half.
Maryland entered halftime up 30-21 after the Wolverines scored on just one of their ten possessions after Irvin hit the bench. Using KenPom's win probability calculator, which factors in that Maryland entered the game with an 81% chance at victory, the Terrapins' win probability jumped from 78.0% to 93.3% during that span.
Although Michigan got within three during the second half, Maryland pulled away each time the Wolverines drew near, usually with an open corner three against the ineffective 1-3-1 zone. The ten-point swing with Rahk and Irvin on the bench in the first half held up as the final margin of victory.
Abdur-Rahkman finished with seven points on seven shots, seven rebounds, two assists, and three fouls in 28 minutes. Irvin had 15 points on 14 shots, three rebounds, three assists, and just the two fouls in 31. Lonergan had no points, two rebounds, and a foul in 11 minutes. Dakich had a three-pointer blocked in his three minutes.
It's not fair to Beilein to only point out the negatives. For the second consecutive game, Kam Chatman looked like a different player, scoring seven points on 3/5 shooting. Spike Albrecht tied for the team lead with 15 points. Irvin displayed a level of aggressiveness, ballhandling, and court vision that he didn't possess earlier in his career.
Beilein is coaching these guys up, and we'll undoubtedly be singing his praises again soon. Today, however, he wasn't close to his best.
Michigan (14-13, 7-8 B1G) at
Maryland (23-5, 11-4)
College Park, Maryland
|WHEN||Noon ET, Saturday|
|LINE||Maryland -8 (KenPom)|
PBP: Bob Wischusen
Analyst: Dan Dakich
Right: Testudo, circa 1942. Yes, that's intended to look like a turtle.
Once again, it doesn't look like Derrick Walton will be available. John Beilein said today that Walton underwent X-rays (negative) earlier this week, then tried to return to basketball activities on Thursday, but didn't complete the workout.
Despite the win over Ohio State, Michigan is still on the NIT bubble. They're projected as a six-seed on three NIT bracketology sites. In all likelihood, the Wolverines are going to need to win two of their last three regular season games (securing a winning record) and perhaps one more in the BTT to secure a bid. Remember, that NIT bubble shrinks every time there's a surprise conference tournament winner that wouldn't otherwise make the NCAAs.
As Drew Hallett points out, there's another seeding watch: BTT seeding, which could become very important if Michigan loses two of their last three. If the season ended right now, Michigan would be the nine-seed, playing #8 Illinois in the second round for the right to face top-seeded Wisconsin in the quarterfinals. That scenario is far from ideal, of course, but Michigan likely has to win out and get help to rise to the #7 seed and avoid the Badgers.
Winning this game would have a small chance of helping out Michigan's BTT seeding; more importantly, it would clear a major hurdle towards securing an NIT bid.
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||2||Melo Trimble||Fr.||6'3, 190||86||25||No|
|Impressive freshman gets to line a ton, hits outside shots.|
|G||44||Dez Wells||Sr.||6'5, 215||74||31||No|
|Handles ball a lot. Selective but very efficient 3P shooter. Draws contact.|
|G||20||Richaud Pack||Sr.||6'4, 190||59||12||Kinda|
|Very underwhelming shooting numbers, but gets to the line.|
|F||10||Jake Layman||Jr.||6'9, 205||73||22||No|
|Skilled stretch 4 who can shoot, attack the basket, defend, and play the 5.|
|C||35||Damonte Dodd||So.||6'11, 245||36||14||Very|
|Good rebounder and shot-blocker, but very turnover- and foul-prone.|
|F||1||Evan Smotrycz||Sr.||6'9, 235||50||17||Kinda|
|Fully grown Lobstrycz having a very down shooting year.|
|F||11||Jared Nickens||Fr.||6'7, 200||45||14||No|
|Spot-up gunner hits 40% of threes.|
|F||25||Jon Graham||Sr.||6'8, 230||30||14||Very|
|Low usage rebounding specialist. Especially good on offensive glass.|
Maryland has only lost one home game all season—to #2 Virginia, way back in early December. On Tuesday, they successfully defended their turf against Wisconsin, pulling off a 59-53 upset.
No, this won't be easy.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
[I bet you’ve never appreciated Upchurch and Fuller more than you do today]
Drevno will be responsible for play calling
Offensive gameplans will be a joint effort between all of the offensive coaches and Harbaugh
Four of the five starters on last year’s OL losing weight is a coincidence; Drevno’s still looking into it and said he’ll get the weights where they need to be
The quarterback competition is “wide open,” and their progress is primarily being tracked by Harbaugh and Fisch
Drevno said Harbaugh’s the smartest man he’s ever been around and unique in a great way
Winning has cured more ills than penicillin
“It feels good, this cold, doesn’t it?”
- We’re used to it.
“I like it.”
What are some of the characteristics that are going to help kids see the field early for you? Toughness, mobility- is there one thing above any others?
“I think, number one, it’s just how they take the information from the classroom [and] take it out on the field. Understand their assignments and have a want-to and a physicality and being a teammate, a great teammate.
“Is that it? Okay, great!”
On the roster four of the five starting offensive linemen from last year lost weight. Was that something that was kind of a plan as far as you guys were concerned or is it just a coincidence?
“No, I think it’s just a coincidence. I’m still looking at their weights and evaluating them now and we’ll get those weights where they need to be and be able to move in a very good fashion up front.”
You’re starting with a clean slate. How much does experience count for the guys who’ve played?
“You know, it’s- it really is a clean slate. I just turn on the film and see who’s doing it at a high level and doing it at the top of their craft. At USC last year I started three true freshmen, so I’m just trying to find the best players out there and that’s the best thing about it; guys get out there and compete to be the best.”
Can you kind of tell the guys who’ve played already?
“Yeah, at times I can. You can just because they’re a little bit more grooved in their technique and things, but kind of day to day at times. Yeah, you can.”
[After THE JUMP: the quickest way to an offensive lineman’s heart is through a barbeque]