Reuben Jones (#4) and Shelton Johnson (#7) are probably not the same weight, lying roster. [Fuller]
The Question: Which freshman who redshirted this year will have the biggest impact/are you looking most forward to seeing in 2016?
|Tyrone Wheatley Jr.||TE||6'6"||245|
|Jon Runyan Jr.||OL||6'4"||275|
Adam: That Jim and Jay Harbaugh are looking to assemble an army of gigantic, athletic tight ends isn't exactly classified information, and they have someone who fits that mold in Tyrone Wheatley Jr. TWJ was recruited as both a tight end and defensive end, and at 6'6" and 260 pounds (and likely bigger and certainly stronger by now) that isn't much of a surprise; Jay Harbaugh said he's hoping Tim Drevno doesn't notice Wheatley Jr., so it seems plausible that he could also go down the path to being a really athletic offensive lineman.
He is, however, very much on the path to becoming a tight end at Michigan right now. It just so happens that there's going to be an AJ Williams-sized hole in the lineup next season, and who better to fill that than someone who's approximately AJ Williams-sized. Wheatley Jr. was talked about as a guy who could find playing time as a true freshman thanks to the relative polish for his age in his catching and blocking abilities, but a leg injury sidelined him early in the year and derailed hopes of early playing time as the TE group went from Jake Butt and ? to Jake Butt, his foil AJ Williams, and impressive depth in the form of Khalid Hill, Ian Bunting, etc. It seems likely that Wheatley Jr. will see significant playing time next season armed with plenty of scout team experience competing against one of the best defenses in the nation. Consider that, then consider AJ Williams' yards per target, and the hype surrounding Wheatley Jr. seems justified.
[Hit THE JUMP for MGoBloggers mentally adding 40 pounds to various stick figures]
This would not go over well.
After the injury to Ryan Glasgow Michigan has struggled to stop zone running. Indiana and Penn State tore the defense to shreds on stretch or outside zone, until Penn State decided the thing that got them two huge gains in three attempts wasn't worth using again (please keep James Franklin forever kthx). I drew that up last week and found Michigan was still trying to defend runs by shooting the DL upfield and dominating one-on-one matchups up front, as opposed to soundly preventing guards from releasing onto the linebackers.
With Urban Meyer, one of a few true masters of modern running attacks, doing the planning for the Game, we knew Michigan's defensive coaches would have to pull something out of our butts to stop it. Here's what we found in our butts:
Michigan broke out a 3-3-5 defense with an "even" front. Offensive coaches have different names for fronts but the basics are:
- Under: NT on the center, shaded to strong. DT on a guard. (aka Weak, 50)
- Over: NT on the center, shaded to weak. DT on a guard. (aka Strong)
- Even: DL are lined up over guards, none over the center. (aka Split)
- Okie: Center is covered, guards are not. (aka 30)
- Bear: Center and guards all covered. (aka 46, Eagle, Double Eagle)
These can be split into "Odd" (under/over) and "Even" (Even, Okie, Bear). It is usual for just about any defense to come out in multiple fronts over the course of a game, though Bear and Okie are more rare than the other three.
Anyway that's what that means. By putting guys over the guards it makes it tougher for them to release to the next level. Michigan State used to love their even fronts back when Bullough was their best run defender, and that tells you something about the design of this defense. Tweaking your defense is about making life hard on your better players so things are easier for the rest of your players. "Even" makes life hard on the MLB, since that center is getting a free release unto him.
There's nothing 100% unsound about this defense. Depending on the offense's play, one LB is likely to get a center on him but the other is often a free hitter. If your LB eating the block is good at beating those consistently, or your free hitter is a ninja who sniffs out the play and attacks ferociously, or your unblocked guy is coached to play aggressively against an option you can defeat a basic run play regularly.
[After the JUMP, we totally can't]
Michigan has just five consequential dates on the non-conference schedule (barring a significant upset loss): Xavier, UConn, Texas, North Carolina State, and SMU. With tonight’s win on the road – the first true road contest for the Wolverines this season – Michiganpulls its record to 2-2 in those big non-conference games with a chance to make that a winning record at SMU.
The Wolfpack have largely disappointed so far this season (currently ranked 63 in Kenpom, down from 41 pre-season), but most of their short rotation of players was present for the NCAA tournament upset over one-seed Villanova and Sweet 16 run last season. Beating that without Walton for a half is more than something.
It’s apparent that the team has responded well from its two early losses; the Wolverines controlled the game against Texas and built on that performance with what could theoretically wind up as one of its best road wins of the season in Raleigh against NCSU.
Both teams struggled to find their shot from the field early on; Derrick Walton was important in keeping Michigan’s offense afloat as they settled in. After about the ten-minute mark of the first half, U-M went on to outscore NCSU by a 27-15 margin – 3 three-pointers by Duncan Robinson in quick succession and a few nifty Moritz Wagner buckets keyed one of Michigan’s best offensive stretches of the early season.
An injury to Walton thankfully doesn’t appear to be too serious but Michigan certainly missed his presence in the second half. The Wolverines extended that lead to 15 with 14 minutes remaining, but NCSU was able to finally exert its size advantage inside and chip away at the lead. Nine points from Caleb Martin helped cut that to 50-46 at the under-eight timeout.
Much like in the Texas game, two assists from Caris LeVert on consecutive possessions to set up threes from Robinson and Zak Irvin helped put the lead into a much more comfortable margin. Again, it was LeVert making plays with the ball in his hands down the stretch to preserve a Michigan win.
* * *
In Michigan’s games against quality opponents, tonight’s win over NCSU stands out on the defensive side of the floor. In its first three contests against Xavier, UConn, and Texas, the Wolverines ceded 1.25, 1.14, and 1.16 points per possession. Tonight, it was just 0.96. Part – well, most – of that was due to frigid shooting from the Wolfpack (15-41 on two-point field goal attempts and 4-17 on threes); the only thing keeping them in the game was 16-18 free throw shooting from NCSU players other than BeeJay Anya.
Michigan didn’t turn in one of its best offensive performances. Perhaps if Derrick Walton hadn’t have gotten injured it would have been, but a characteristically “Beilein” offensive profile carried M to a victory anyways. The Wolverines virtually ignored the offensive glass, avoided turning the ball over, and won the game with their field goal percentage.
This game was unique in that Michigan didn’t exactly shoot the ball well from three (7-20 as a team), but absolutely eviscerated the NCSU defense for easy two-point looks, mostly around the rim, that led to 61% shooting from two. After the Xavier and UConn games, it seemed as if Michigan was far from asserting its identity in games; it turns out that significantly easier (but still fairly decent) competition was all that U-M needed.
Caris LeVert is playing at an All-American level right now: a combined 34 points + rebounds + assists is a testament to his all around ability. It wasn’t a great scoring night for Caris but he made plenty of impact elsewhere – his vision (as well as Zak Irvin’s) made up for the loss for Michigan’s starting point guard and LeVert’s activity on the defensive glass was a nice adaptation in the wake of Walton’s injury. Late free throws helped inflate his point total, but the performance hit expectations for this season.
Irivin's cold shooting continued (he was 1/7 from three and 2/5 from two), as he, LeVert, Wagner and MAAR combined to go just 2-13 from three. Robinson salvaged the night by hitting five of seven. He is now 20-33 (61%) from three on the season and well on his way to that insane promise of 50%.
As for North Carolina State’s personnel, Caleb Martin and Cat Barber combined for 35 of NC State’s 59 points. Two of their three big men – Abdul-Malik Abu and Lennard Freeman – combined for just two points. Credit should go to Michigan’s inexperienced bigs for erasing bigger, older counterparts in a matchup that didn’t look great on paper.
It’s clear that Spike’s not completely healthy after two off-season surgeries. He was thrown into the mix when Walton went down against NCSU, but might not be a part of the three guard rotation moving forward. Right now, Michigan’s rotation tentatively looks like:
- GUARDS: Walton, LeVert (Abdur-Rahkman as #3)
- WINGS: 2 of 3 among Irvin, Robinson, Dawkins
- BIGS: Doyle, then Wagner, then Wilson (perhaps only if needed?)
Ricky Doyle was perhaps better defensively than Wagner tonight – Moritz may be the more appealing long-term option and showed some more flashes (including a quick spin from the high-post into a one-dribble dunk that just roasted BeeJay Anya).
Even with a core player out, Michigan was able to escape Raleigh with a win. LeVert stepped up in the second half and Irvin, who still hasn’t been shooting well, managed to create some offense for others regardless. They're a long way from a deep tournament run right now, but they can put away a bubble team on a bad shooting night on the road.
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Ohio State Recap
Gimmicky Top Five: 2016 No-QB X-Factors
A generic top five but one that points towards the future instead of dwelling on the past. QB is excluded as too obvious.
"Inside The Crooked Blue Line" With 247's Steve Lorenz
Fallout from the big recruit weekend. Also Fallout 4. Stick to sports.
Atlantis: why. Rotation: huh. Robinson: gives and gives and gives and takes and takes and takes.
THE USUAL LINKS
Michigan (4-2) at
NC State (4-2)
Raleigh, North Carolina
|WHEN||7 pm ET, Tuesday|
|LINE||NC State -1 (KenPom)|
PBP: Mike Patrick
Analyst: Len Elmore
Right: "Mini mascot and cheerleader" circa 1970s.
After the ACC won the first ten ACC/B1G Challenge titles, the Big Ten has won four of the last six, and the other two were ties. This year, however, KenPom says there's a high likelihood the ACC flips the challenge back in their favor:
I ran a Monte Carlo simulation using the current ratings and not surprisingly, the ACC is a heavy favorite to emerge victorious. There’s a 63% chance the ACC wins at least eight games and just an 18% chance the Big Ten wins at least eight.
There's a better chance of a 7-7 tie (19%) than an outright B1G win. Despite being on the road, Michigan has one of the more winnable games of the challenge, which stands at 1-1 after Wake Forest beat Rutgers and Minnesota took down Clemson yesterday.
From Michigan's perspective, tallying a road non-conference win over a decent opponent could be huge come March. If they can't pull it off tonight, they'll get one more chance when they go to SMU next week, but NC State is their best shot.
This should come as little surprise:
At Beilein's pre-NC State press conference. Beilein says that Wagner will be the second big off the bench right now (behind Doyle).
— Kelly Hall (@kellyhall20) November 30, 2015
After seeing how little Spike Albrecht has played so far this season, this may also be unsurprising, but it sure is disconcerting:
Michigan coach John Beilein said Monday that Albrecht, whose return from offseason surgery on both hips has not progressed as hoped, will no longer practice with the Wolverines, instead opting to use that time for continued rehabilitation.
"If we have a choice right now of two hours of therapy at one of the therapy centers here in Ann Arbor or two of practice, it's going to be two therapy — just to do whatever we can to get him ready," Beilein said.
Albrecht is still available to play "spot minutes"; he's clearly well short of 100% and has already ceded a lot of his playing time to Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
It's time to update MGoBlog to the latest version of Drupal. I'm looking for a Drupal developer who is familiar with MGoBlog to create a version of the site in Drupal 8. This is a contract job; if you're interested there would also be an ongoing maintenance aspect as we tweak the site and add bells and whistles.
Requirements are somewhat flexible since Drupal 8 and its contrib constellation are still in flux, but an outline:
- implement a modern responsive theme for the site that we already have mocked up
- implement a Drupal 8 version of the XML RPC module that allows Windows Live Writer to work in 6
- implement as much of the current site functionality as possible given the state of contrib (userpoints not working will be a major issue, for one), adding as contrib fills in
- make sure performance is at least as good and hopefully better than the existing site
- migrate content, taxonomy, diaries, and users, in some form. I am completely happy to leave previous content behind in static pages as long as the URLs remain the same and you can still get to them in some form from the tag pages.
Budget is "I don't know, I've never budgeted something like this." I am expecting something in the five digit range. You will know better than I what is feasible if you're a good candidate. Timeframe is 3-6 months, but is flexible since we are aiming at a moving target. Email me at [email protected] if you're interested.