that makes one of us
Well, this is a new one: as broken by Patrick Kugler (and later confirmed by Steve Wiltfong), IN OL Dan Samuelson has committed to Michigan while on his official visit to Ann Arbor. Samuelson was previously a Nebraska commit, but the Wolverines became a serious contender after he took an unofficial last month. He becomes the sixth offensive lineman in the 2013 class and the 25th commit overall.
|4*, #25 OT||3*, #31 OG||3*, 75, #87 OT||3*, 89, #13 OG|
Samuelson is a three-star prospect to every service save Scout, which places him just outside their top 300 recruits (the #24 OT, Logan Tuley-Tillman, is #300 overall). All four agree that he's 6'5", with his listed weight ranging from 275 to 295 pounds—the latter figure seems more up-to-date.
Samuelson should be ticketed for guard at Michigan, but ESPN's evaluation likes his prospects better at tackle ($):
Samuelson plays effectively at the guard position showing the upper body playing strength needed to control defenders when single blocking. However his size and athleticism appears better suited for the offensive tackle position at the major level of competition. ... Playing out of a three point stance we see the first step quickness needed to gain and immediate advantage, however we do detect some lower body stiffness when playing in space and adjusting to change of direction movement. This lineman comes off the ball aggressively with good pad level and a solid blocking base; flashes the explosion and pop necessary to knock defenders off the ball on first contact however there is the need to follow through with consistent leg drive. Is quick out of his stance when releasing up on linebackers or pulling to trap; flashes the ability to reach on offset down linemen and get a hat on active 1st and 2nd level defenders. Can get tossed at times needing to improve his agility and balance when playing in space.
I should say, ESPN says that they like him at tackle, then go on to talk about issues blocking in space and on the edge. Does not compute. Mentions of good pad level and second-level blocking make him sound like an ideal guard. That's certainly the impression of Scout's Bryan Munson, who scouted Sameulson after his commitment to Nebraska ($):
When you watch Samuelson’s film you see the skill and you see the ability. He’s quick for a guy his size, 6-foot-5 and around 280-pounds, and he loves to hit people. What you see when you watch Samuelson is a guy that gets onto his block and drives his guy either into the ground or 20 yards down field.
There are also some pretty good indications of strength too. While I haven’t seen any reported strength numbers specifically you can see the way that he just handles the guy that he has to block. The way that I would sum up Samuelson is simple: Big, smart, strong, dominating run-blocker with a need to develop pass-blocking skills.
Rivals's Josh Helmholdt echoes the sentiment that Samuelson plays with good pad level ($):
"I liked Dan's film," Helmholdt said when asked for his evaluation of Samuelson. "He's a guy who played offensive guard as a junior, and I don't see anything that tells me he couldn't play right tackle. So there's some versatility there. He has the potential to play probably multiple positions on the offensive line.
"He's an above average athlete for the position. He really moves his feet well. He plays with great leverage. I think that something that really stands out in his film is that he's always up underneath the pads of the defensive lineman. He just does a lot of things well. I wouldn't say there's any one thing that makes you say 'wow', he's just a well-rounded offensive line prospect."
When Scout gave Samuelson his fourth star, Allen Trieu said he's got the potential to be a multi-year starter down the road:
It seems like every year the Midwest produces tough, hard nosed linemen who get overlooked. I think Samuelson is one of those blue collar kind of guys who is going to come in, work hard, be a starter and an all-conference kind of guy, and in the past, would have been underrated. On film, he showed good footwork and once we saw more of him pass blocking, we felt confident he could be a multi-year starter in college.
Samuelson seems like a guy who could slot in at either guard spot or even right tackle; while he might not be a dominant presence, he's got a solid base and should fit into the offense as a road-grater type.
Samuelson had a Nebraska offer, of course, and prior to that commitment he was a one-time pledge to Pittsburgh. His other offers came from Bowling Green, Illinois, Miami (OH), Minnesota, Wake Forest, Western Michigan, and Wyoming.
No stats, offensive lineman.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals lists a 40 time of 5.3 seconds, which gets one FAKE out of five.
The only video I can find of Sameulson on YouTube is cutups from a single game:
You can check out film from several other individual games on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
As said above, Sameulson should end up at guard when he gets to Michigan given his size and skill set. With his combination of size, fundamentals, and run-blocking skills, he should compete for a starting spot down the road, though he'll almost assuredly redshirt in 2013. He'll have a lot of competition from more highly-touted members of his own class in David Dawson and Kyle Bosch, as well as Kyle Kalis and Blake Bars in the year ahead of him, but Samuelson should provide solid depth until he gets a chance to compete for a starting job as an upperclassman.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan should be able to take two or three more players in the class—the worry at this point is the 85 total scholarship cap, not the 25 single-class cap, since six members of the 2013 class enrolled early. It's even possible that the Wolverines take another offensive lineman in Cameron Hunt (on his official visit right now) or Dan Skipper.
The top remaining target, of course, is Derrick Green, who announced today that he'll make his decision on January 26th—Michigan is in very good position to land his commitment. OH CB Reon Dawson, another player taking his official visit this weekend, is also a candidate to take one of the last couple spots.
Trey Burke had—by his standards—a sub-par performance against Nebraska, needing 16 shots to score 18 points and only dishing out three assists. In the post-game presser, I asked John Beilein if Nebraska did anything defensively that he hadn't seen so far this year; without going into details, he mentioned that the Huskers had a different way of defending the pick and roll—Burke's bread-and-butter play.
After taking a look at the film, I think I've found what he was talking about. Last year, opponents utilized a hard hedge—doubling Burke off the screen with their big—as a way to dial up the pressure against the diminutive point guard. On Wednesday, Nebraska came with a variation, which this uneducated blogger will call a 'soft hedge'. To the screencaps!
After Michigan reset up top, McGary comes over to set a screen for Burke. The key player for Nebraska will be McGary's man, Brandon Ubel (#13), who in this frame is fighting through a screen by Tim Hardaway Jr.
As McGary sets the (not great) pick, Burke's man fights hard over the top; his responsibility is to make sure Burke can't pull up for three. Instead of hedging hard, Ubel positions himself a few feet inside the arc; his primary objective is to take away the drive.
Burke's man has successfully gone over the screen and recovered position, with Ubel in position to stymie any attempt to attack the basket off the dribble. Meanwhile, Hardaway's man (#24 Dylan Talley, standing right below the 'B' in the paint) has sunk back to defend a pass to McGary on the roll.
With Burke contained, Ubel slides back onto McGary while Talley heads out towards Hardaway.
I should probably have kept the next part in the video: Talley is late getting back out to Hardaway, who drives to the free-throw line and knocks down a jumper. Still, that was a tougher shot than what Michigan usually produces off the pick and roll (a layup or an open three), and I don't think Talley needed to sink so far into the lane with Ubel falling back.
What does the soft hedge accomplish? A few things.
No open threes. With the guard going hard over the top, Burke doesn't get a good opportunity to pull up for three, especially with Ubel in position to step out and contest.
No dribble drive. With the way the defense is aligned, if Burke wants to drive he can only go to his left—straight into Ubel. That's not much of an option.
No easy slip. One of the ways Michigan counters the hard hedge is to have the screener "slip" the pick—roll to the basket before fully setting the pick, ideally to receive an early pass before the double can get to Burke. With the big hanging back in this case, that option isn't there either.
Of course, there's no perfect way to defend the pick and roll, or John Stockton and Karl Malone wouldn't be in the Hall of Fame. I see two counters to the soft hedge. One is what Michigan did above: kick it back out to the wing (in this case, Hardaway), who should have an open look from deep or the opportunity to drive if his defender is late to recover or closes out too hard.
The other actually occurred a few minutes earlier in the game and should've resulted in an easy two points. On this play, Nebraska defends the initial pick in the same fashion; instead of rolling to the basket, however, McGary doubles back and sets another screen going the opposite way. The Huskers are forced to double Burke, and McGary slips the pick; Burke's feed is on the mark, but McGary's dunk attempt ricochets off the back iron:
Surprisingly, Michigan didn't really go back to this tactic despite the fact that it should've resulted in a (successful) dunk.
While Nebraska's defense did a solid job of limiting Michigan's points off the pick and roll, I don't think this is the magic bullet to stop that aspect of the Wolverine offense. The picture-paged example shows some sloppy play from Michigan; McGary's pick is too shallow, allowing Burke's man an easy path over the top, and the offensive spacing on the perimeter isn't ideal. Then, when Michigan countered, they did everything right except convert an open dunk.
The soft hedge is another way to slow down Burke, however, and does a good job of forcing him to give up the basketball—any defense that takes the ball away from Michigan's best player is one we'll likely see a fair amount moving forward.
Within seconds of Glenn Robinson III's tip-slam on Wednesday night, @pnbloem (BlockM around these parts) recognized some serious gif potential:
@aceanbender Gif that last clip of the dunk from the baseline + sunglasses + "Deal with it."
— Paul Bloem (@pnbloem) January 10, 2013
I'm here to serve:
[For the rest of the Nebraska game in gifs, with a heavy emphasis on Mitch McGary and the NCAA's foremost attention-starved refs, hit THE JUMP.]
it worked out okay for everyone in the end
Position battles: exciting instead of terrifying?
Way too early 2013 depth charts are beginning to pop-up. It’s looking like the battle at linebacker this year will be a good one (and both lines in future years). What was the last position battle that got you excited? 2 plus players going for one spot or, like the LBs, 3 plus players going for 2 spots. There have been positional battles the last few years, but those have been between average, at best, players.
Mike in Ohio
I'm not sure if excited is the right word, but the last position battle I remember being pretty "whatever" about was Henne vs Richard vs Gutierrez at QB in 2004. In some order those were the #3, #4, and #5 QBs in their respective years, so I figured Michigan was going to be just fine no matter who ended up starting.
The Gutierrez injury threw that all out of whack, of course, and we had Henne starting as a freshman, but he had Braylon to throw to so that worked out just fine.
It's tough to remember any others. The age of roster hyper-awareness was just dawning in 2004*, and Michigan hasn't exactly had an embarrassment of riches since. The linebackers this year should be a preview of coming years when Michigan is choosing between something like Wormley/Hurst/Poggi/Godin at three-tech and I'm all like "confidence, it is something I have."
*[I remember Tim Biakabutuka's first carries of Michigan being met with general merriment at his last name. If that happened now, the extent to which it did would be greatly reduced since about 40% of the people in the stadium would be like "four star recruit out of Canada, tailback, 6'0", born in Zaire, did well at Army Bowl. BOOM KIPER'D."]
obligatory (The Wolverine/Tim Sullivan)
With Taylor Lewan returning for his 5th year, I've read quite a few message board commenters suggesting that Schofield move back to LG and Braden or Magnuson take over at RT.
My question is this: for sheer upside, wouldn't it make more sense to move Braden inside for 2013 than Schofield? Just looking at their body types, it seems to me that Braden is more suited to the power run blocking Michigan needs than Schofield is. I'd enjoy your perspective on what you would like to see happen with the OL and what you think will actually happen with the OL.
Thanks, and Go Blue!
It depends more on Braden's ability to pull than anything else. We've had some indication that Schofield is capable of it despite his tackle-like size, since he played guard effectively and Michigan spent chunks of the year pulling tackles on that sprint counter and an occasional sweep. In the event that Braden forces his way into the lineup, is he going to have that same ability? I don't know.
A point in your favor: with Lewan back Michigan gets plenty of power run blocking from one of their tackles. They can probably afford to have a non-devastating drive blocker at RT if he brings more pass protection to the table, and Schofield does bring a lot of pass pro. Remember that both of South Carolina's defensive ends are damn good and neither did that much in the bowl when they weren't ending Vincent Smith on a busted stunt pickup. By the end of the year, Schofield was pretty good.
What I think will happen and what I'd like to see happen are the same, and it's basically the five-guy lineup I posted yesterday: Lewan-Kalis-Miller-InsertGuardHere-Schofield. I assume Kalis and Miller are locks (though if you heard my segment on WTKA yesterday you heard Sam Webb rhapsodize about Patrick Kugler's ability to start early). The fifth guy is up in the air; I would prefer that guy to be a guard simply because it provides less uncertainty, and I worry less about guards getting the QB murdered.
As I'm sure we all were, I was quite pleasantly surprised by Lewan's decision to return next year. However, it seems like all non-Michigan sources (and I'm not talking about rival fan sites like 11W) have done nothing but trash his decision. Analysts at ESPN, some of the pay sites, Yahoo and others have all said he's making a terrible decision...given the insurance policy he will take out and other factors, what gives? Many of the sources are saying there's much more risk than Jake Long took, but given the new rookie pay scale, I actually think there's less. What say you?
Lewan didn't come back because it was the most profitable thing to do, so analyses of whether it's the most profitable thing to do miss the point. They do so very badly, so badly that I assume Darren Rovell has been cloned a thousand times and sent to draft chattering class.
Anyone trashing the decision doesn't understand that there things other than money that might be important.
"You'll never play for a team again. You'll play for a contract."
It's a risk. But it's an opportunity as well.
but but but oversigning
Throughout the lead-up and aftermath of the BCS National Championship Game, we have been subject to overwhelming Bama praise. “How much better are they than everybody else?” “Is this a dynasty?” “How many years until Michigan can compete on that level?” My constant mental response to this is: but, but, but…OVERSIGNING!
The morning following the Bama beatdown, there was an interesting blogger exchange on Twitter. Basically, a B1G blogger alludes to oversigning as a competitive advantage, then an SEC blogger trivializes oversigning’s competitive impact. Looking back, I see our friend Ramzy once called oversigning an “almost insurmountable competitive advantage.”
What say you? Are B1G fans making too much of oversigning by using it as an excuse for its poor brand of football? Are SEC fans ignoring it in order to maximize pride in their conference? What’s the best quantitative analysis out there that attempts to truly measure the impact?
It's an advantage, but it's only a small part of the reason that the Big Ten has fallen behind the college football world. Florida and Georgia don't do it, and they have been okay at playing football recently. Ole Miss seems to do nothing but, and they suck every year.
- Sucky management of the Big Ten's elite programs. Michigan has been wobbly at best since 2006 largely due to coaching and the program's remarkable ability to punch itself in the face. Penn State was operating essentially without a head coach for the past decade and has now been nuked by the NCAA. Ohio State has largely escaped these doldrums but was stripped of various key players last year en route to a .500 season and banned from postseason play this year. No other Big Ten team can really pick up the slack, except somewhat Nebraska, and this is only the second year they've been in the league. Of course the league is going to be bad when OSU and PSU can't play in bowl games and Michigan's sixth offensive lineman is a walk-on.
- Talent distribution. Not sure this is a huge-huge factor in the Big Ten's sudden decline since demographic trends are very gradual, but population shifts aren't helping. Notice that the powerhouse basketball conference is hugely dependent on basketball-mad Indiana. You have the in-state schools, of course, and then the best player on OSU (Thomas) and second-best on MSU (Gary Harris, and he may be better than Appling) are from Indiana along with the backbone of Michigan's resurgence—Novak, Douglass, Robinson, Albrecht, and incoming Irvin and Donnal. Michigan has one player from outside the Big Ten footprint—Hardaway. Indiana is the Florida of high school basketball. Wisconsin is a great program… for a bunch of guys from Wisconsin and Ohio leftovers.
- Sucky management of every Big Ten program. Bielema flees Wisconsin for an SEC also-ran. Why? I guess more resources. What's the difference between Wisconsin and Arkansas's revenue? Zero. Tim Brewster. Danny Hope. Ron Zook. Tim Beckman. Purdue just hired Darrell Hazell, a guy with two years of MAC head coaching experience. Again, compare that to basketball hires: Crean, Beilein, Tubby, and Matta had all run programs that established themselves perennial ranked teams in major conferences before getting snapped up by the Big Ten. That's not happening in football. Instead Bielema gets sucked away.
- Yeah, oversigning and whatnot. "Whatnot" == jamming a kid full of fake classes to get him eligible and keeping him eligible with the Tarheel curriculum. JUCOs and such. It's a factor. How much? It's not nearly as big a deal as the first bullet here.
That's good news. If Michigan can recruit at a level with Georgia and Florida and Stanford, they can play at that level. That's probably not enough to go up against an all-time dynasty like Alabama that cuts ALL THE CORNERS, but those things collapse eventually, and they can compete with just about anything else.
My thing with oversigning is not that it explains the gap between the conferences, but rather it's the ultimate dick move and should be stopped if the NCAA wants to consider themselves a snow-white organization with pure motives. The Big Ten has plenty of problems, most of which stem from the leadership of the conference (leaders and legends) and trickle their incompetence down from there.
I'm not even sure how you would be able to quantify the impact. But the fix is so, so easy: remove scholarship caps in favor of per-year caps. Move from a system that encourages attrition to keep costs down to one that isn't about athletes going pro in transferring to Kenesaw State.
Notre Dame == Michigan?
Is there any validity to an assertion that Michigan and Notre Dame were basically the same teams this year but for Notre Dame has an offensive coordinator that knows the spread and how to use a spread qb?
No. Notre Dame's defense was a significant cut above Michigan's until it got eviscerated by the Tide, and remains so: 7th in total D, second in scoring D. While their secondary was not good, neither was Michigan's, and while Michigan's front seven was surprisingly capable, Notre Dame's contains many highly touted recruits on their way to long NFL careers.
ND's offense was only slightly better than Michigan's. Moreover, it was much different. Gholson had just under 300 rushing yards on the year. It's a passing spread that keeps a little bit of QB run threat involved; it's not a spread 'n' shred. I could have given you partial credit if you'd said "an offensive coordinator more comfortable with his personnel," but again the ND line was nowhere near as problematic as Michigan's. Mark it zero, dude.
Now that Kovacs has graduated, we need a new #11. I say we give it to Desmond Morgan. That would leave us without somebody for #48, but the problem could be solved by giving BOTH numbers to Morgan. He could wear 11 on the front side and 48 on the back, or possibly reverse the order week to week.
This violates NCAA rules, you say? I have thought this objection through. The answer is to give him a special jersey where the numbers are the same color as the rest of the jersey -- dark blue numerals at home, white numerals on the road -- so the number is completely invisible. The officials will never find out.
Never let it be said that the Outback Bowl jerseys were a bad thing if ideas like this flow freely after seeing them.
Before I forget, go draft your FreeRoll team for tomorrow—if you finish in the top 12 you get legal tender, and you don't have to give up any legal tender for it. If enough people don't sign up we don't get to keep doing these.
Okay so maybe I'm still a bit shaken from encountering a real life Tyrannosaur …
…who's not even allowed to enter the draft, but the thought of Lewan leaving for the NFL felt like being stuck in the middle of Jurassic Park with nobody but your 8-year-old brother for protection.
"That's not what I'm gonna do." –Taylor Lewan
So yes I saw new starters at 4 of 5 OL positions and turned into a hyperventilating girl—like you didn't! Thank Denard for Dr. Grant. I have no idea why he thinks a stereoscopic scavenger with an occipital lobe 8 times the size of its cognitive center who's related to visually acute crocodiles and birds would have movement-based vision (maybe it's the frog DNA?) but if I'm gonna walk the length of an island of angry therapods I'm very happy to have this man along one more time. That sentiment was passed on personally by justingoblue and megangoblue, at Crisler. Pretty pictures with the cool story bro&sis but guys I'm feeling really warm and fuzzy inside.
How warm and fuzzy? 1.64 degrees centigrade fuzzy. That's the heat generated by the burning of calories in running 4,495 yards according the post-drunk maths of Blazefire. Here's another way to visualize it:
In case you were wondering, yes West Virginia fans are going to boycott everything because Denard used handoffs for the final stretch. LSAClassOf2000 added some perspective on the Denardian career by the percentage of Michigan's total offense he accounted for. Roughly, from the time he was a freshman, half of Michigan's yards were his.
In other things you ought to read, Ron Utah did a comparison of the 2011 and 2012 seasons, concluding the Denard arm was a big deal. Here's some of the things I pulled from that:
|Fumble Recoveries||20 of 25 (80%)||11 of 22 (50%)|
Surprisingly Michigan improved on 2011's unprecedented ownership of 4th down, converting 69% of our 13 attempts (up from 59% in '11), and holding opponents to 43% (not far off the 38% of last year).
Etc. I forgot to front-page Mathlete this week; amazingly there were two plays that swung the game more than Tyrannosaurus Clowney making a goat disappear. Combining the sagarin and UPI rankings makes Michigan the top football-basketball combo school in the nation (Florida, Notre Dame and Louisville come after). I'm guessing Ohio State doesn't count for that. The Blockhams was great this week, though the text still needs to be way more succinct—not that I of all people can really talk.
[Lewan photoshopping and really smart raptors, after the jump]
hey this can probably work
I had assumed Lewan's departure was so much of a foregone conclusion that I didn't even bother to hang around the computer last night when he announced and only found out once I flipped on the Nebraska game. Derpity-doo.
In any case, I don't have to tell you how huge his return is for Michigan next year. Without him, Michigan was replacing four starters on the OL with at least two freshmen. With him, they return two solid-to-All-American tackles and only have to find three new guys.
In addition, Lewan's return gives Michigan flexibility. Michael Schofield was a quality player at guard last year and could return there if necessary. That allows Michigan to let Ben Braden and Erik Magnuson compete for starting jobs. Team 134 now has to find three starters out of this group:
CENTERS: Jack Miller, Patrick Kugler
GUARDS: Kyle Kalis, Chris Bryant, Kyle Bosch, Blake Bars, Joey Burzynski
TACKLES: Erik Magnuson, Ben Braden
Even if you dismiss Burzynski as a walk-on—not necessarily wise—that is eight candidates for the three spots, seven of whom will compete in spring. The eighth, Kugler, is the son of Sean Kugler, until recently the Steelers' OL coach and now the head man at UTEP. If ever there is a guy who will be ready to play center as a freshman it'll be him.
Remove Lewan and you not only force Braden* in to the starting lineup ready or not, you likely remove Magnuson from the conversation. Moving guys around is a lot less possible when you've got one guy standing between you and walk-ons at tackle. Then you're trying to get someone out of Bosch/Bars/Burzynski/Bryant. That's doable, but Lewan is not only an All-American coming back but two extra bullets for the holes Michigan has to fill. High five.
The starting line above is four touted recruits and four kids who are entering at least their third year in the program. Behind them they'll have options in case they aren't working out. It's kind of a big deal.
HEY DERRICK GREEN HEY WHAT'S UP NAW JUST SAYIN'
[Note: I'll redo "27 tickets" after Signing Day.]
*[Speculation based on insider buzz has Braden ahead of Magnuson, FWIW. As always take insider buzz lightly.]