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.
OH YOU BETTER BELIEVE I DID THIS WOO
Previously: Team 134
PACK YOUR BAGS
Players who will be starting unless injury derails them. Early entry possibilities are not taken into account because they're too unpredictable this far out.
By 2014, Jake Ryan's hair will reach the small of his back and his terror will reach former Yugoslav republics, spawning an incomprehensible evil only he can defeat.
Joe Bolden will spot him frequently but extremely hard to see anyone displacing him once he moves to a more natural MLB spot. May or may not be Demens++.
I mean surely this will be the year he breaks Jim Mandich's record, if it isn't slap me and call me Tressel what's that I couldn't read your very clear email detailing NCAA malfeasance
At this point has learned what a zone is and drops into it impeccably. Still large, probably playing field corner, does not have to be covered up as much deep. I call this guy RAYMON because that's his name.
In retrospect ranked too low in the last piece since like dude is kind of on pace to be #1 in passer rating if given enough sample size and competition is true freshman. Quality fifth-year option not starting lol you crazy.
Road-grading tackle will have competition from only then-redshirt-freshmen Chris Fox and Logan Tuley-Tillman; LTT is a project who will be at least a year from ready and Fox may be more of a left tackle type.
Should be fully healthy in 2014 and in the starting lineup no problem. Ligament stuff should be fully healed, and Countess is still the guy who locked down a starting job as a freshman and was headed on a stardom track before cruel fate intervened.
Would have to bust spectacularly to not ease into the starting lineup; only other competition is Willie Henry and maybe Maurice Hurst, and Pipkins is clearly ahead of Henry now.
If Kalis isn't starting at guard by his sophomore year, some very strange things will have happened, or an injury, which is not strange. But really I call this guy TIGER TESTICLES because Brady Hoke is searching for him on the black market to acquire his toughness via sympathetic magic.
UNLESS SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENS
Multi-purpose kicker has proven himself an adequate or better punter and displayed a big leg on kickoffs and certain long field goals. May lose one job to an as-yet-undetermined freshman specialist but should start at one spot or the other.
In 2014 James Ross sees the playcall in his head, Terminator-HUD style, and ruthlessly exterminates any living thing that gets in his way. His one weakness is Lou Holtz. In the distance, a wolf cries. Ross feels the same kinship he always does, scratching behind his ear.
Hopkins will be out the door and Houma is always going to be smaller than Kerridge. When Michigan needs a linebacker plowed, Kerridge will get the call first. Fullback is a veteran's position.
With Marvin Robinson and Thomas Gordon out the door, Wilson will be the most experienced safety on the roster; as a four-star he's got the cred and probably a year of starting under his belt. Does not know Aaron Paul; Still 'shopped, rookie.
Presumably at this point he will be a sixth offensive lineman or on the bench behind year two Jake Butt; both will get playing time; Williams figures to get more. Fish fear still reading zero. Or thereabouts, fear may increase if blocking technique does not.
FAIRLY SAFE BET
Touted Californian a better fit at left tackle than Braden and has a clear path to start. Name reminds Hoke of wearing a polo shirt on his trip to the North Pole, which will give him the edge on the redshirt freshmen.
Dileo, Gallon, and Jackson graduate, leaving Jerald Robinson, Darboh, and Chesson plus whoever ends up in the incoming recruiting class. Darboh did not redshirt and is the most likely guy to be a starter on the outside.
A rare downgrade from a projected starting job on 134, Miller's competition gets fierce in 2014 with Bars and Kugler both pressing from behind. He should hold onto the job but if he's smaller than the other guys and that's just not changing…
Smith is currently the best bet to see a majority of the carries in 2014. Rawls may be a fullback, and Smith fits the MANBALL paradigm better than Hayes or Norfleet. Derrick Green may supplant him here.
Furman and Gordon exit, leaving Thomas fending off Jeremy Clark and Allen Gant. Thomas is the most-hyped safety Michigan's brought in for a long while and has the athleticism to bump Wilson (back?) down to strong safety. The job is his to lose
IN A BATTLE
Time will not thin out the WDE battle here; in fact it may make it murkier with 6'6" pass rusher Taco Charlton presumably coming off a redshirt this year. Whoever wins the job will have earned it.
By 2014 the Cass Tech alum should be less tiny and prepping for a shot at a starting job in 2015; more likely he ends up in the Avery role for the duration as Michigan seeks out bigger guys on the outside.
Competition will be fierce at this point with Blake Bars and Kyle Bosch pressing; Bryant retains a size and experience edge but if Bosch is what he's supposed to be this will be a tight tight battle.
By this point his career, Strobel should pass the smaller Heitzman for the starting job, but candidates will be thick on the ground in 2014. Has a better recruiting pedigree, as well.
I've heard from multiple folks that Wormley was going to play extensively this year before his ACL injury. In 2014 he will be fully healthy and huge and coached up and should fend off Matt Godin and others. May be at SDE.
The second starting wide receiver slot is anyone's guess. Chesson has the experience edge and an endorsement from the near-flawless MGoBlog Sleeper of the Year award. Fast, lanky leaper will hopefully be Braylon to Darboh's Avant.
Potentially 404 FILE NOT FOUND here due to MANBALL. If they do have a smallish receiver who specializes in screens and end arounds, they'll have converted Hayes or it'll be an incoming freshman.
PUSHING FROM BEHIND
QB Shane Morris—raring to go after hopeful redshirt
RB Dennis Norfleet—make this man make plays
RB Thomas Rawls—Kevin Grady 2.0
WR Jaron Dukes—Junior Hemingway 2.0?
WR Pick An Apostroph'd Michigan Sleeper—one of Csont'e York or Da'Mario Jones will play
TE Jake Butt—strapping lad will be a matchup problem
C Blake Bars—could also play G if needed
C Patrick Kugler—son of Steelers OL coach should be ready to go early.
G Kyle Bosch—reportedly the most ready of the 2013 class to compete right away
T Chris Fox—will have to wait on LTT so should be the third tackle
DE Keith Heitzman—in the rotation for sure
NT Willie Henry—late add from Glenville will be a major wild card
DT Matt Godin—run stuffer sort
WDE Frank Clark—will rotate with Beyer.
WDE Mario Ojemudia—will either be an impact rusher or off the radar by now
MLB Joe Bolden—probably a quasi-starter by this point.
ILB Royce Jenkins-Stone—Ross backup probably.
ILB Ben Gedeon—hanging around
CB Jourdan Lewis—Cass guy but bigger than most.
CB Delonte Holowell—will push at nickel. Has stopped tweeting : (
S Jeremy Clark—prospect of a 6'4" free safety entices
Zoltan ponders how the gradient potential of his latest punt lines up exactly with that of collateralized debt obligation investment products in the 2008 bubble, and if they are correlated, could this end prostate cancer and teach cats to play ping-pong?
Somewhere in the Pisces-Cetus Supercluster complex, about a Yottameter from the Great Attractor, on a wet, rocky satellite of a smallish yellow star on the belt of a medium-sized Virgo Complex galaxy, there was a football game. In the first half, despite the best efforts of their opponents, Michigan's offense gained enough yards to traverse the Hoover Dam; in the second half they barely made it the length of a 747.
Millions who witnessed a representation of this occurring on stacked LCD pixels went online to find the similarly sized (and metaphorical) grain of salt, or compare the offensive coordinator's brain to the like-massed Paramecium. They tore out hair follicles, pounded their couches to release thousands of silt and skin particles which had settled there, and angrily flicked the transistor gates deep within their electronic devices to exclaim how this loss hurt to their very DNA.
In the abstract, a loss to Ohio State, even if largely expected, was too horrible to countenance. And so the Diarists burned glucose deep into the night while attempting to make sense of what was essentially the movement of a whole lot of atoms but to us a whole lot of matter. Zoom far enough in or out and you no longer have to see it.
The Micro. For the real quantum foam of the events in question, again I quote bronxblue…
The whole gang was back, to give the OSU faithful one more opportunity to cheer on a myth, a delusion about its history that seems painfully obvious to everyone not wearing crimson and grey.
So between the first and second quarters of the final game the 2012 Buckeyes will play, a premature finale caused by Mr. Tressel’s behavior during his years in Columbus, the fans in attendance gave him a standing ovation, one of the biggest cheers of the day. … The narrative went, at least in some circles, that most schools would have done the same, that fans love to cheer on winners and that most of those players were completely above board and played fairly, won every game that season, and, let’s be honest, Miami was no saint either. The thinking went that this was a team that the school should be proud of, or at least should be able to recognize publicly.
…who is going to keep winning Diarist of the Week until such point as BlueSeoul comes back to game wrap (with pics). I sat high up in the student section where freshmen who were probably 7 years old for 2002 cheered louder than the alumni. One kid in a black longcoat who spent most of first half with cheap nacho cheese on his chin yelled "Fuck Michigan!" at us through it all. This is Ohio State in a nutshell: cartoon bad guys oblivious to how stupid they look.
ST3 boiled Inside the Box Score down to Borges quotes. On the boards, Profwoot narrowed it to the script. And caup took it to the O-Line coach. Hypothesis: the more you know about football the deeper down the coaching ranks you can find blame. Theory: the 2003 team would have been national champs if it wasn't for (student mgr) Jeff Levine. Damn you, Levine!
Shane Morris puts the game in perspective.
[After the JUMP, we zoom out far enough to see the Space Emperor's Mustache]
As Michigan rises in the rankings, so does Burke, an adept ball handler who reads defenses well and excels in ball-screen situations, an NBA bread-and-butter play. Burke continues to be a little sloppy at times, but he is boosting his draft stock significantly in his second season. Burke's field-goal percentage (48.1) and three-point percentage (37) are up from last season.
ESPN's Chad Ford doesn't seem to have updated since the season started.
Not spotted: Tim Hardaway Jr, which is a bit of a surprise given his lights-out start to the season. Hardaway is still languishing in the second round of DX's 2014 mock behind luminaries like Josh Smith and Adriean Payne. Apparently he'll have to continue turning heads through the Big Ten season to break through in draft analysts's minds. Given his start, I think we're expecting that.
(Side note: GRIII has dropped to 25th in 2014 on DX. Meanwhile, both Pitt starting forwards feature on that 2014 mock draft with Stephen Adams 15th and Talib Zanna a second-rounder. Michigan outrebounded those guys badly. NC State meanwhile has the #7 and #8 guys in 2014 and the #20 guy this year. Michigan has already beaten some talented teams.)
Early unreliable tempo free numbers. I hereby take the Kenpom Small Sample Size Oath I understand that player stats are based on extremely limited information in mid-November. A quick check of Kenpom reveals four early trends that leap off the page:
- Unstoppable Throw-Ball-In-Hoop-God Nik Stauskas. Stauskas is currently 4th in ORtg, a composite measure that weights various offensive stats together, 5th in effective field goal percentage, first in true shooting percentage (eFG adjusted for frequency of FT attempts and FT shooting), near the top 50 in TO rate, and is drawing free throws more frequently than anyone on the team. That is all nuts. He'll come down to earth… maybe. His usage is about where Novak was last year; so far he is an offensive upgrade on a guy who shot 85/56/41 from FT/2/3 last year.
- GRIII OReb upgrade. GRIII is the second-best offensive rebounder on the team and is grabbing more than double the opportunities Novak did last year. Not that I'm picking on Novak. It enrages me when people say "John Beilein finally has a lights-out shooter" when Novak shot 41% last year. Novak was awesome. What I am saying is that between Stauskas and GRIII, Michigan has upgraded its shooting and rebounding by splitting Novak into two different people, both of whom are bigger than him.
- THJ complete game watch. After six games, Hardaway is the team's second-best defensive rebounder at 19% and has drastically increased his shooting inside and outside the arc; his TO rate has hardly budged from his extremely good freshman number. Assists are actually down so far.
- Big Puppy sucks up all the rebounds. If Mitch McGary had played 40% of his team's minutes instead of 36% he would rank 8th in offensive rebound percentage and 29th in defensive rebound percentage. He is of course blowing everyone out of the water in this regard so far.
Obviously there's a long way to go before we get much of an idea how legit any of these things are; I remember Michigan being an outstanding defensive rebounding team in the nonconference schedule last year, but click that conference-only box on Kenpom and 2012 Michigan drops from 99th—good—to 9th in conference—not good. This year Michigan's defensive rebounding is 4th nationally, but how will it hold up in the Big Ten? Probably better, but how much? Etc.
Speaking of Novak. UMHoops interviews him:
As for Glenn playing an undersized four, he is built like an upperclassman already so I don’t think he’s going to be getting pushed around by very many people. I think as he gains experience and gets a feel for what players can do at that level, he’ll have no problem guarding guys down low. I think a lot of players underestimate how effective just playing “solid” down low can be. Many guys in college basketball struggle to score through a strong chest. Figure out how to hold your ground and you have won half of the battle. When he stays between his man and the basket, he can be more effective than I was because of his great length. There were times I could guard a guy perfectly, but he’d just shoot it right over me. That shouldn’t happen to him as much.
He doesn't bite on the "potential undoing" question; I will: foul trouble for Robinson would force Michigan into the rickety two-post offense for extended periods and could bring things down. There isn't really a guy who can spell him and shoot unless it's Bielfeldt.
The enduring legacy of DJ Jazzy Jeff. Athlon surveys college basketball players anonymously:
Have you ever received benefits from a booster?
Have you ever had a grade changed because you were an athlete?
Those seem like high numbers, but not as high as these:
What is your favorite TV show?
Family Guy (9.6%)
Fresh Prince (6.8%)
Everybody Hates Chris (5.5%)
Fresh Prince of Bel Air went off the air in 1996, and Martin in 1997, which means these kids were like two or three. [HT: Daily Gopher]
More alumni points. Michigan's changed the priority points system to further prioritize alumni and former letterwinners, but the thing I found fascinating was the chart MLaw06 attached to his diary:
Climbing halfway up the points list costs about 2000 bucks; getting to 90 costs as much as a new car. (A new car!) The change deflates point values slightly but on a 1-1 ratio that's like giving alums an extra $1,500 head start on other folk. Opinions on this will be split down the middle between alums and non-alums.
Ah yup. Via Maize and Blue Nation, correlation:
The strength of that correlation may change if Michigan gets aggressive about throwing under Borges. Right now, pretty stark, especially those two years under 40 rushing yards.
Protip: don't do this. Former ND hockey player Riley Sheahan arrested wearing a teletubby costume (Tinky Winky, if you're interested). Arrest is for being drunk and driving; drunkenly stated he had not finished high school when asked if there was anything that might prevent him from properly answering the questions. Was carrying a teammate's license on him. None of this is good. Except the costume.
BONUS: Apparently "superdrunk" is a term of law in this state?
JongShow. Hockey commit Nolan DeJong is profiled by the Hockey News:
“I like to be offensive,” he said. “But I take pride in my defense. I’d say my stability, my size and reach are my strengths. I like to be as active as possible, but I want to work on my positioning.”
De Jong would also admit he’s not the most physical out there, but has a pretty good role model right now in locked-out Colorado Avalanche rearguard Ryan O’Byrne, who is a volunteer coach for his hometown Victoria squad while the NHL is on ice. De Jong also worked out with O’Byrne and Jeff Compton, whose clients include several NHL and Western League franchises, in the off-season.
Etc.: Four Michigan guys make the BTN All-Freshman team. I look forward to a day when that number is zero, or one or something. Next year probably won't be that year since redshirts are included and Michigan figures to start at least two freshman OL.
Big Ten title game not a hot seller. With how spread out the conference is going to be it might be wise to just make it a home game for the team with the better conference record, with record of your conference opponents breaking ties.
Leftover Big Ten/ACC thoughts from Brennan. Minnesota is kind of good this year; mentally swap those guys with Wisconsin. College hockey features on Grantland. This post about the athletics bubble may overreach a bit but the general outline is right. People who decided to add Maryland say adding Maryland is a good idea. NC State/Michigan key plays. Barking Carnival interviews Texas F Girl.
ahhhhhh berlerve ir can fler (Upchurch)
Michigan sits at the end of the regular season with a lot better idea of what they'll do without Denard Robinson than they did before he got injured at Nebraska. This is what they call a silver lining. Yeah, the Cornspiracy is playing a 7-5 team they already beat to go to the Rose Bowl, but what are they doing at quarterback next year?
It seems they are still playing Taylor Martinez. Screw them!
Anyway, Michigan's offense before and after the Gardner injury was vastly different, so let's take a look at some rough outlines.
Gardner played games against Minnesota, Northwestern, Iowa, and Ohio State. These were the 5th, 7th, 8th, and 9th defenses in the Big Ten in terms of yardage. In terms of pass efficiency D they were 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 10th. (Oddly, Minnesota is the top team in both those categories.) This is a slightly worse sample than a random one, but if we're projecting overall stats to next year that's fair-ish since Michigan will play three non-BCS teams in their four nonconference games. It's ballpark, but the ballpark should be in the ballpark.
Obviously this is all very rough. We're projecting season to date, so aiming for 12 games.
Hypothetical Individual Stats
171 completions on 270 attempts, 63% completions, 24 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 3015 yards, 11.1 YPA(!). This would place him first in the Big Ten in passer efficiency by a mile and would in fact be #1 nationally. That's not happening, but if he can be in the top 20 that would be awesome.
Also he would have 105 rushes for 231 yards, which is depressed by sack yardage and Michigan avoiding called runs with him since the alternative seemed to be Jack Kennedy.
- Gallon: 66 catches for 1098 yards(!)
- Roundtree: 45 catches for 1134 yards(!)
- Drew Dileo: remains criminally underused
- Devin Funchess: 9 catches for 132 yards. Hmm, bad.
That seems swell. Except…
- Fitzgerald Toussaint: 34 carries for 191 yards, 5.6 YPC
- Thomas Rawls: 32 carries for 68 yards, 2.1 YPC.
- Vincent Smith: 8 carries for 21 yards, 2.6 YPC
- TOTAL: 3.8 YPC.
Denard is of course the wildcard, as he averaged 8.2 yards a carry in conference and 7.6(!) overall, which is the best YPC season at Michigan since at least 1949 (minimum 100 carries). I mean:
I left sacks on both QBs in, FWIW. Not that it matters. Denard averaged 9.3 YPC on 23 carries against Iowa and OSU but we don't really need to extrapolate with him, we have all the data. He was four yards per carry better than any other option available. Stupid elbow.
Hypothetical Team Stats
These are difficult to parse out because of the Denard complication. But, yeah, #1 in passer efficiency. In yards, an even 400, which would be 64th. Rush offense slides to 148 a game, which puts them below Michigan state, well into the 70s. Pass offense goes from 95th to 49th.
Michigan going so slow all the time hurts them in these raw stats, of course. The efficiency is extremely promising as long as they can run block at all. Which, maybe?
Today's recruiting roundup covers Gareon Conley's decommitment, the candidates to fill the final few spots in the '13 class, and more.
Conley Decommits: Is He Still An Option?
In a move months in the making, Gareon Conley has decommitted from Michigan($, info in header) after visiting Ohio State last weekend, in accordance with the no-visit policy of Brady Hoke. While not a crippling blow to Michigan's recruiting class—three cornerbacks remain in the fold in Ross Douglas, Jourdan Lewis, and Channing Stribling—the loss of Conley removes one of the more dynamic athletes among the commits.
While similar situations with Pharaoh Brown and David Dawson resulted in Michigan no longer pursuing either prospect, TomVH reports (above link) that the Wolverines will continue to recruit Conley—likely because Conley was up-front about his intentions to visit other schools and stayed in communication with the coaches, unlike Brown or Dawson. It's likely that the battle for Conley's services comes down to Michigan and Ohio State; while Conley has serious interest in Oregon, the Ducks have yet to offer and it doesn't appear that one is coming.
I think Michigan still has a pretty good shot here. In the immediate aftermath of the Ohio State visit, Conley said he was still 100% committed to Michigan, and multiple reports stated that he left the game early and hardly interacted with other Buckeye recruits. While Ohio State will get a serious look, expect Michigan to be in it until the very end for Conley, especially since he could get a shot at receiver for the Wolverines as well.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on two new O-line targets, a rundown of the available 2013 options, and more.]
Reading your 11/26 post about "The Game", I noticed you made mention of the question of whether huddling is necessary anymore. As a high school coach and former small college player who has used both the huddle and the no-huddle, my first reaction is to disagree with your point that the huddle is archaic and a bit of a dinosaur. But I am also intrigued.
My overall response would be that there are obvious advantages to both. Points and tempo are the obvious gains, but tempo is also a negative from the no huddle (as we learned circa 2009-2011) when an offense has too many three and outs and a team's defense bears the brunt of it all. In short, it's hard to praise a defense, especially an overachieving bunch like our boys, while touting an offensive style that so often seems to lead to a loss in defensive production.
In short, what data is out there to suggest that the no huddle would not obliterate our defensive gains?
There are two issues here being conflated here. Not huddling is not necessarily synonymous with going at a high speed. Ohio State runs the same no-huddle style as Oregon but does not push the pedal down nearly as much:
|Team||Offensive Plays||Defensive Plays||Total||% Plays on offense|
Oregon games had 24% more plays in them than Michigan games; Ohio State games had just 10% more, and I'm guessing the difference there is more Michigan being exceptionally slow than Ohio State being fast: decidedly MANBALL Wisconsin games featured a little over 1600 plays this year. If OSU is over the national average for plays run it's not by much.
The benefits of getting to the line immediately are the same whether you're going fast or slow: the defense is hampered in its ability to substitute and you can see how they align as you make your playcall. You can sprinkle in tempo plays when you have an advantage without cracking the whip up and down the field.
The other issue is how a high tempo affects your defense. This is the reason people invented tempo-free basketball statistics: how fast you go can distort how your offense and defense look. A high-tempo approach artificially inflates the former and deflates the latter.
Take the most extreme possible example: Oregon. The Ducks are are decent but essentially mediocre in yardage statistics. They're 47th in rushing, 60th in passing, and 46th in total D. But they faced 915 plays. Michigan's defense faced 791, and in there is a large part of the gap between the two defenses. Michigan is still better on a yards-per-play basis, but there's no question that Oregon played more good offenses.
Advanced stats that try to account for tempo look a lot more favorably on Oregon's defense than conventional ones. The Ducks are eighth in FEI*, one spot in front of Alabama. They're 21st in S&P, which I don't like as much because it's play-focused instead of drive-focused.
As this year's Michigan team proved against Nebraska and OSU, a three and out is a three and out and you're in trouble no matter what if that's what your offense is doing. In games you can win, the price you're extracting from your defense is going to be similar to the price you extract from the opposition.
And, like, I don't think it would have mattered if a Greg Robinson defense played opposite the Lombardi Packers. They were cooked.
*[A note on FEI: that ranking looked pretty strange on offense last year; this year it passes any sanity test you want to give it with Florida/ND/Stanford/MSU as the top 4. It seems to be overrating some small schools but that's inevitable.]
Are we running the Air Raid next year? Taking out Denard, Michigan had a pretty atrocious rushing offense this year. It's obviously going to look different next season without a primarily rushing QB but even still, with a starting RB coming off a serious leg injury, and replacing 3 or 4 offensive lineman, this looks bleak right?
Look on the bright side: at least Borges has shown to be more willing to adapt to a throw-first mentality than Carr-era coordinators. And the interior line literally cannot be worse! Woo!
It does look bleak. Michigan has to hope that Mike Schofield can hold up at left tackle (I think he can against non-elite pass-rushers and will probably be a Stenavich-level player) and then fill in the rest of the line with n00bs. There are some assets:
- Extremely fast QB.
- "College-ready" five star Kyle Kalis at guard.
- Guy who has played center all the way, Jack Miller, at center, presumably making much better line calls.
- Enormous guy Chris Bryant
- Enormous guy Ben Braden
It… yeah, it looks grim-ish. While any of the above could work out Michigan is still working through the disastrous RR OL recruiting and will have a similar problem to the one they had this year: few, if any options to turn to if the starters are not performing. Things are little better at tackle, where Erik Magnuson is available to back up instead of nobody, but on the interior you've got a redshirt freshman on the 3/4 star borderline (Bars) and Joey Burzynski, who is still 6'1".
But there's a bunch of hype for the freshman class and Bryant was reported looking good before the leg injury. Michigan may have to go with more Gardner running than they might want. I certainly hope they don't ditch the veer, for one.
First of all, I'm very surprised by Hoke's prediction that Devin's redshirt will go through, given his history of never saying anything specific, ever.
With that in mind, do you think Devin is a good fit for Borges' style of West Coast offense? Or will we still be "making due" with some Frankenoffense for the next two years, give or take, until Shane is ready?
Like most fans, I've been pleasantly surprised by Devin over the past month, but I don't know enough about Borges' dream offense to know how well his QB skills translate.
I was surprised, too, and assume he was told by the people who had talked to the Big Ten that they would get it. Which hurray, one less argument about how dumb Rich Rodriguez is and extra year for starting QB.
Gardner is clearly a better fit for what Borges wants to do than Denard was. He's tall, he can stand in the pocket, and he has an excellent deep ball when he's not being asked to throw it on the run for some strange reason. He also tends to run when he should run, thus rescuing various plays that aren't going so well.
I am actually hoping for something of a Frankenoffense, though. Running big epic "play action" from an I-form that is really just a max-protect setup doesn't use Gardner's legs particularly effectively, and we've seen that when you get a guy who can run and throw trying to stop both is super hard. Hell, run-and-kinda-throw is pretty hard. I'd like Michigan to still run most of its offense from the shotgun and use Gardner's legs to mitigate some of the problems that will arise on the offensive line. With Morris backing Gardner up you won't have to be as overcautious as it seemed Michigan was this year.
Maybe the OL will surprise and DeVeon Smith or Derrick Green will show up as a grinder and it will work. If a traditional manball running game isn't in the cards, though, the Frankenoffense may be the best one available.
Do you think Hopkins gets a long look in the spring back at tailback with Fitz's status up in the air?
Seems like they have some depth now at fullback with Kerridge and Houma. I know he has ball security issues so maybe he has to walk around campus all spring, summer and fall carrying a football. Could he have the potential to be a Leroy Hoard-type in 1988, '89 as a featured, ball-carrying back?
While that's a possibility I doubt it will amount to much if they do try it. Hopkins may be marginally better than Rawls if he doesn't fumble, he has. Rawls hasn't done much but he also has not fumbled.
A Hoard-back requires Hoard-blocking, and more speed than Hopkins brings to the table. If Derrick Green ends up committing he's the early favorite to get a plurality of carries.
Any chance that Michigan starts Pipkins and Washington in a similar way that they used Washington and Campbell this year?
Probably not. Nose tackle is a draining position staffed by enormous men and requires that two people play it. Michigan probably wanted to use Pipkins more than they did a year ago; they couldn't because he wasn't very good. Michigan will probably stick with him as the backup nose in preparation for a two year starting run. Big guys take some time.