Peppers at 10, which seems low.
Harbaugh hanging out with Rich Eisen. 24 minutes:
Remarkable how much different Harbaugh is when he's talking with a person he's comfortable with.
Rashan hype. Jourdan Lewis is impressed:
“You should see Rashan move,” Lewis said this week. “He’s very, very light on his feet. He and (nose tackle) Bryan Mone, it’s crazy. You should see them on the ladder drills. Oh my goodness, it’s unbelievable. At that size, you can’t teach stuff like that. It’s mind-blowing.”
Mone is listed in the spring roster at 6-foot-4, 320 pounds, while Gary is 6-5 and pushing 300 pounds.
The ladder drill develops footwork and quickness.
“It’s about how clean you are, and they barely touch that ladder,” Lewis said. “They are really fast on the ladder, and it’s really crazy.”
Hooray for that. Also hooray for quotes in the offseason. What sorcery is this?
Zordich's impact. We heard a ton about Greg Jackson a year ago but no so much about Zordich. Lewis offers up some praise for Michigan's second-year DBs coach:
“When Coach Zordich got here, he really broke it down for us. We have to know every formation by name. He has specific names for formations and we’ve got to know them. That’s the standard. Technique always has to be precise, because that’s the difference between a pick and a reception. I had knowledge of the game and knew when I could do certain things. But when he came in and he showed us these different formations and tricks when you see different looks, it has really helped my game. He’s been a huge part of our development as players.”
Before Zordich and Jackson came in Michigan's DBs coaches were a linebackers coach and
Mike Curt Mallory, who Michigan wanted to get rid of but Hoke held onto because he was excessively nice.
I have a lot of problems with you people. The Michigan Scout board recently had a kerfuffle about ranking in the aftermath of Dylan McCaffrey dropping out of their top 100 in aftermath of the Opening. I shrug at that, like, opinion, man. I think whoever doubts a guy with the last name McCaffrey playing quarterback for Jim Harbaugh is eventually going to look real dumb, but it's just one dude.
I do have a thing that bugs me about Scout's rankings.
That is a map of NFL players by home state. Scout's Midwest region consists of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky. Collectively those states provide 260 NFL players, 16% of the league's total membership. While college rankings aren't direct NFL projections, all the sites admit that it plays a large role since they're so often judged on their ability to project guys to the league. Meanwhile football players are generally good or not good; serious disagreements between spread-heavy colleges and the pros are mostly limited to 5'10" quarterbacks and slot receivers. For the other 95% of players NFL counts are an excellent proxy for ideal recruiting rankings.
Scout has a top 300; by NFL reckoning this means that approximately 48 players in the Midwest should make that list. This no longer happens. You have to go back to 2014 to get a representative sample of 47 Scout 300 members from their Midwest region. Since there has been a steady and unexplained decline. There were 39 Midwest Scout 300 players in 2015, 38 in 2016, 29 in 2017, and 27 in their early 2018 rankings. Scout has made no effort to explain why they believe the number of future NFL players in the Midwest has dropped 50% in just four years. Talent fluctuates year to year but that's not a fluctuation—it's four straight years of decline, a severe one in 2017 and 2018.
And while I'm on the subject of recruiting ranking things that bug me. Most every year sees 3-6 kickers and punters drafted. The top end guys should get four stars.
Other adventures in Michigan's turnover luck last year. Per LSU blog And The Valley Shook, PBUs convert into interceptions at a relatively reliable rate:
Interception rate is a lot more steady. Last year, defenses intercepted 19.14% of the passes they defended. The average team defended 63.07 passes and had 12.07 picks. The 2014 rate was 21.44%, so we're looking at a fairly constant twenty percent rate. Still, we'll use the 2015 average rate of 19.44%.
Michigan had 55 PBUs a year ago and ten interceptions so that's very close to on point. It's really the lack of fumbles forced that made Michigan's defense lag TO expectations a year ago.
Rule changes. There aren't many new rules this year. You've probably heard about coach ejections being a thing now. They're probably not an actual thing, though:
The NCAA Football Rules Committee has brought football in line with other intercollegiate sports and increased the accountability a coach has in maintaining decorum. Just as with a player, a coach is now disqualified if he collects two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls during a game.
IIRC Bo Pelini did get hit with two unsportsmanlike flags in one game. That's the only instance I can remember in which this rule would actually get deployed. Even the infamous Will Muschamp rage only resulted in a single flag.
The other change of interest to Michigan fans is a clarification of the rules on sliding to the ground:
Rules-makers continue to expand the scope of targeting. Now they will protect any ball carrier who slides feet-first, giving sliding players the kind of protection they've had in the NFL, as some have advocated. If a defender makes "forcible contact" to the head or neck of a runner who has "given himself up," the defender will incur a 15-yard penalty for his team and be disqualified for at least the remainder of the game.
Jake Rudock took two or three nasty head shots on feet-first slides a year ago. Harbaugh actually changed the way he taught sliding as a result, with Rudock falling forward a couple of times in the bowl game. This year anyone blowing up a QB who's going to the ground will get booted, which kind of sucks for defenders expecting to tackle a ball-carrier instead of a guy sliding into second. No word on whether getting blocked into the QB after a play is still an ejection.
I call it trips TE. MMQB breaks down the "Y-iso" formation. Y-iso isolates your pass-catching tight end:
That's Greg Olsen to the bottom of the screen, and he'll catch that corner route for a big chunk as Richard Sherman bails for the inside slot receiver's deep route.
Y-iso snaps have doubled in the last four years of the NFL and with Jake Butt on the roster and Harbaugh's million NFL contacts, not least his brother, there's a good chance you see a significant dose of this in 2016. The rationale given for the formation certainly applies:
“If a team played man, your tight end is gonna get a safety or a linebacker on him and all the corners are gonna go over there and match up on the receivers,” Smith explains. “The tight end has to be talented enough to win that. That has to be a match up you want, depending on the team you’re playing. There’s probably not many of those match-ups that we don’t look at as favorable with Kelce. He’s that kind of player.”
The number of players with the speed to keep up with Butt and the frame to challenge him on balls up high is vanishingly small.
FWIW, I don't think Michigan lined up with the TE split out like this last year; when they ran this it was Butt in a three-point stance.
Mostly right but when you're wrong whoah buddy. ESPN publishes an "all-century" team that cops out on QB by listing Denard Robinson as an all-purpose player. It's mostly right, though it does that annoying thing where you list two running backs, no fullbacks, and two wide receivers. Also they list three corners and one safety. Marlin Jackson is one of those corners and he did play safety as a junior so whatever man. Errors as I see them:
- Bennie Joppru over Jake Butt. Joppru did have a big senior season; Butt just about matched it last year and is set to shatter the all-time TE receiving mark held by Jim Mandich.
- Gabe Watson over Mike Martin. I defend Watson endlessly to people disappointed in his two-time All Big Ten first team career, but Martin was far more impactful. Watson occupied guys; Martin blew through them.
- Shawn Crable over David Harris. Harris is an all-timer MLB. Crable's nutty 28.5 TFL season in 2007 was as a defensive end, and I'm still taking Woodley and Graham over him.
- Ernest Shazor over most Michigan safeties in the past 16 years. Big play factory largely responsible for Braylonfest having to be Braylonfest. Did murder that Purdue WR, then fell off a cliff. Prefer Jarrod Wilson.
Etc.: Feldman names Michigan the #4 secondary in the country; no anonymous coach quotes this time. CU athletes refer to their academic center as "the Plantation" and CU's president is talking about why they do this and how to address their grievances. New letter jackets for female letterwinners have gone out. Jibreel Black doing a ton of volunteer work. "The Ballad of the Sloop John Belein."
Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CB Lavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche, DE Ron Johnson, DT Michael Dwumfour, DT Rashan Gary, DE Carlo Kemp, OL Ben Bredeson, OL Michael Onwenu, OL Stephen Spanellis, TE Nick Eubanks, TE Sean McKeon, TE Devin Asiasi, WR Eddie McDoom, WR Nate Johnson, WR Kekoa Crawford, WR Chris Evans,
WR Brad Hawkins, WR Ahmir Mitchell, RB Kingston Davis.
|Wayne, NJ – 6'1", 210|
|Scout||5*, #28 overall
|Rivals||4*, 181 overall
#6 RB, #5 NJ
|ESPN||4*, #45 overall
#4 RB, #2 NJ
|24/7||4*, #328 overall
#12 RB, #9 NJ
|Other Suitors||OSU, FSU, ASU, AUB, Bama|
|YMRMFSPA||Denard Robinson, RB version (but slow!)|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace. Some scouting from earlier today.|
|Notes||Twitter. Early enrollee. DePaul(Michael Dwumfour).|
There's also a Bergen Catholic-Depaul Catholic game on Youtube in which Walker gets 23 carries. Ace compiled that into an every touch video:
Kareem Walker, The Number One Running Back In The United States, committed to Ohio State at halftime of the national championship game. That was a public relations move that ended up backfiring when Walker re-opened his recruitment due to the audacity of Harbs and eventually flipped to Ohio State's ancient enemy. Then recruiting sites had to go and ruin it by tumbling Walker down their rankings, because recruiting sites don't know a good story when they see one.
Walker's rep took a huge hit right at the end of the cycle, with Rivals dropping him from the cusp of five star status to #181 and 247 dropping him over 200 spots to a fringe four-star guy. He was vulnerable to such a hit for a few reasons. He couldn't participate at the Opening because of a sprained ankle. Walker's Hudl film stops abruptly after his sophomore year, leaving just a couple of highlight reels of the variety that irritatingly slow-mo any missed tackle.
It was in this environment that Rivals yanked his fifth star before the Army game. In San Antonio they wanted him to "prove something" at an exhibition:
Walker recently lost his fifth star and has gone from a decisive, one-cut brute at running back to a bit of an indecisive runner who questions his instincts and dances a bit too much. Ball security is also an issue.
Five-star brute Walker rushed for 1607 yards as a junior. Indecisive dancing Walker rushed for 1517 yards as a senior en route to a state title. Both halves of that assessment are goofy. Walker was never a "brute" in the vein of De'Veon Smith, and at least in that Bergen Catholic game above his ability to ghost through the melee at the line of scrimmage was impressive. One man's indecisiveness is another man's patience.
So. A gimpy Walker playing behind an offensive line trying and failing to deal with the ridiculous 2016 defensive line class didn't do so hot, and a couple of sites were already looking at him with a skeptical eye. Per Walker himself his first day was "slow" because he was unfamiliar with the plays and "going through the motions"; he picked it up later. The first impression lingered, however. Afterwards got absolutely bombed by 247 and Rivals:
Walker has been indecisive and has not hit the hole with authority. He did not seem to get a good read on the play as it developed and he has lacked explosion the last few days.
…needs to hit the opening faster and then fall forward when getting tackled. Sometimes, the Michigan commit hesitates as things develop.
Walker does not have the same running instincts that Miles Sanders, the other running back on Team Armour, shows. Walker continues to run timidly.
Thus the big dips. On the other hand Scout and ESPN were like "whatever, he rules." Scout's Dave Berk did note an "up and down" day, citing a lack of comfort, but blew it off because he'd seen Walker plenty already. Their ranking barely budged.
[After THE JUMP: this one is long enough to have a jump!]
While we still have some time left to kill before football, there's some leftover football sitting right there on the YouTubes, and some of that leftover football features future Michigan players. With more high school games being uploaded in full these days, we're going to be doing more single-game film breakdowns here, starting today with last year's game between DePaul Catholic, featuring 2016 signees Kareem Walker and Michael Dwumfour, and Bergen Catholic.
DePaul fell 15-13 in a tightly contested game, and they may have pulled out the win if Walker hadn't sat out most of the first quarter for undisclosed reasons. He managed to break the 100-yard barrier anyway. Here are all of his carries from the game edited into one video:
As we learned during his late-cycle rankings plunge, Walker isn't a no-doubt prospect like Leonard Fournette—the eye-popping runs are largely absent from his highlight tape. Seeing him work over the course of a full game, however, improved my perception of Walker. His vision was very good, and he does subtle things that will become more apparent on the next level; I love the way he patiently set up his blocks like he did at the 0:55 mark.
Walker's acceleration is solid when he picks his spot to go. While he runs upright in the open field, he does a good job of getting behind his pads to get through tackles at the point of attack, and he uses his off-arm well to shed arm-tackles from defensive backs. When it gets down to it, he finds a way to get upfield. He's not the most explosive back, nor is he the most powerful—he could definitely add some muscle in his lower half—but I like his potential to be a productive college back; the instincts that Michigan's backs have often lacked of late are present in Walker.
As for Dwumfour, he mostly played right defensive tackle, and he's relatively easy to pick out in these clips—he's the only DePaul D-lineman wearing white gloves and white cleats/spats. Before posting this video, a caveat: this is every snap I could get a clear view from Dwumfour (all but 6-8 snaps he was out there, best I could tell), so don't look at this the same way you'd look at a highlight reel—a highlight reel would contain maybe three or four of these plays.
Let's start here: this was a rough game. Dwumfour has a bad habit of bolting upright after the snap, and in this game his opponents capitalized by stonewalling him again and again—there are a couple plays on which he literally gets turned around 180 degrees after the snap (and one more that didn't make the video because ESPN cut to the play too late). On a down-to-down basis, he wasn't very good—he didn't have the strength or motor to overcome his obvious lack of technique.
Of course, Michigan isn't recruiting Dwumfour to be the player he was in high school, and you can see flashes of why they took him that aren't "is best friends with Rashan Gary." Dwumfour has a quick first step and a couple of moves that can get him into the backfield in a hurry. When he does fire out low, he moves people, but he doesn't appear to have much technique that would allow him to disengage—something that can be corrected.
It's not surprising to me that Dwumfour was a generic three-star. He's a big body with athleticism, but there's a lot of work to do to get him to the point where he can contribute at the Power 5 level. Michigan shouldn't need him to be an instant-impact guy, and that's for the best; I'm not sure he'll be ready to play more than scattered snaps for a couple years.
Superstar QB Deshaun Watson will look to lead Clemson back to the playoff
NOTE: Since most of us can’t remember who’s in what division without looking it up, the Coastal teams are Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Pitt, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. The Atlantic teams are Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, North Carolina State, Syracuse, and Wake Forest. No, it doesn’t make sense to me either.
Along with the SEC West and Big Ten East, the ACC Atlantic looks like a very strong division at the top, one that could potentially have more than one playoff-caliber team. In the Atlantic, it’s Florida State and Clemson: the two have split possession of the ACC title since 2011, FSU won a national championship in 2013, and both schools have reached the playoff since its inception. Last season, Clemson beat Notre Dame and FSU en route to an undefeated season; they received the top overall seed, beat Oklahoma in the playoff semifinal, and lost a thriller in the national championship game. It was a rebuilding year for Florida State, but it still went well for the Noles: they reached a New Year’s Six bowl despite suffering a hideous upset at the hands of Georgia Tech, who finished 3-9. Importantly, Florida State hosts Clemson this season – the winner of the most high-profile divisional rivalry in the ACC (the Bowden Bowl!) has won the conference each of the last five years.
Both programs are looking forward to a strong season. Clemson returns the best quarterback in the country (Deshaun Watson) at the helm of an explosive offense, Florida State boasts a tremendous running back (Dalvin Cook) and safety (Derwin James) and should recover from its brief dip post-Jameis Winston. Both teams are stacked with former blue-chip recruits and the type of overall talent level to compete for playoff bids. If you’re looking for what could potentially be a de facto play-in game, October 29th in Tallahassee is perhaps the game that most closely fits that label as we look at things before the season.
Louisville gave Clemson a scare in September last season and the Cardinals, with head coach Bobby Petrino, are the team best positioned to challenge the duopoly from within the Atlantic. The rest of the division lags behind, although Syracuse made a great hire in Bowling Green’s Dino Babers.
[Team previews after the JUMP]
Closing The Opening: Player Evals
— Allen Trieu (@AllenTrieu) July 9, 2016
I hope beyond hope that this is the end of coverage from last week's The Opening finals, but there are some loose ends to tie up, and thankfully they're positive from a Michigan standpoint.
SBNation's Bud Elliott posted some thoughts from the event that go beyond the usual who played well, who didn't observations. He opens by cautioning recruiting followers not to get too caught up in how well shorter players perform in 7-on-7 settings, which cater to their skills without exposing a significant weakness; there are also notes on a few teams, Michigan included:
Michigan is building the perfect foil to Ohio State’s spread in the Big Ten, a bruising throwback pro-style offense with great diversity in its run game scheme and top-notch QB coaching.
Some of Michigan’s commitments won’t exactly shine in a non-contact event. Take 6’1, 232-pound running back A.J. Dillon. A padless, non-contact event just isn’t his game. The same thing goes for running back O’Maury Samuels, whose game is mostly straight-line size/speed. Oh, and Benjamin St-Juste, a 6’3 defensive back from Quebec should in no way be a three-star after the event. He showed good fluidity and was not outclassed by the major step up in competition.
That sentiment on St-Juste is universal. 247 named him one of the two cornerbacks on their "Dream Team" from the event alongside five-star Darnay Holmes, calling St-Juste "the biggest revelation on defense of the weekend." They've mentioned in a couple spots that St-Juste will get a bump in the rankings soon. Scout's Brian Dohn said Michigan "looks to be getting a gem" in St-Juste, so you can bet he'll rise there, too.
Despite already being a top-100 overall prospect, Ambry Thomas may move up, too. Scout's Allen Trieu listed him first among Midwest standouts at The Opening:
Thomas came in ranked as the No. 77 overall prospect in the country, so quite high already, but he not only validated that ranking, he may have shown that he needs to go higher. He used his speed and athleticism to consistently stand out and not just at cornerback, but also on offense, throughout the course of the event. Currently Michigan is trending with Michigan State also right there and Florida being a hot name of late in his recruitment.
Thomas made every all-Opening team I've seen, and new offeree Oliver Martin also earned a ton of mentions—including "Alpha Dog" among Big Ten targets at 247—after his breakout performance at receiver.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
10. Use advantage calls on fast breaks.
Dunks are the best. On this we can all agree. Cynical fouls to prevent dunks are the worst, and there's a model out there for preventing them. Soccer refs will let fouls go if the team fouled seems to have an advantageous position. Basketball should adopt this for situations where there is about to be a breakaway dunk.
9. Eliminate hack-a-blank.
Allow teams to take the ball out of bounds with a reset shot clock instead of shooting free throws on a non-shooting foul. Like the previous bullet this is an attempt to reduce the number of situations where someone is intentionally violating the rules to their advantage. Don't @ me about how players who can't shoot free throws shouldn't be protected. Rules exist to make the flow of a game more pleasant to watch, and when they fail that they should be changed.
8. Get rid of the three-second call.
Nobody calls it. Its purpose has always been mysterious. The rationale is nonsensical: "open up the offense by restricting what offensive players can do." Clogging the lane is the least of modern basketball's concerns.
7. For the love of God please figure out how to call a charge.
Nobody knows what a charge is. I don't know, and you don't know, and refs don't know, and players don't know. The NCAA made things infinitely worse a couple years back with a change that made things even more confusing; one year of that was enough.
Charges get a bad rap. They're very dramatic. There's a dude on the ground fist-pumping; Teddy Valentine has recruited a crew of Busby Berkeley dancers, all of whom are pointing to the other end of the floor theatrically; the offender is grasping the basketball disdainfully and trying to murder the entire arena with his eyes. Duke ruined them for everybody, but now that there's a restricted circle their preferred tactic is no longer valid.
My suggestion on charges is to make the rule as simple as possible. If a player is moving parallel to the basket, outside of the circle, and gets plowed in the chest by an opponent who still has the ball, it's a charge. Glancing contact is a block. Taking a charge-type substance when the player in question has already released the ball is a no-call. Maybe it would need some tweaks, but the current regime is as close to completely random as possible.
6. No timeouts on out-of-bounds plays.
The final proposal here is the best plan I have to stop the scourge of timeouts, but if people continue to insist on having a break for tea and scones every ten seconds in the waning moments of a close game there are still some improvements that can be made. Number one is eliminating timeouts that come one nanosecond before a five-second call on inbounds plays. In all cases these timeouts reduce the drama of a game, because they prevent the team that's pressing from their shot at a critical turnover. Infuriatingly, they almost always come in the immediate aftermath of another timeout.
Say no to timeouts, in all their forms. But especially this one.
5. Adopt a draft and follow system.
This is discussed in more detail in a previous post. The upshot is that the NBA should move to a style of drafting closer to the NHL model, where everyone is automatically eligible for the draft. This allows drafted players to retain NCAA eligibility and prevents a lot of the consequences of bad draft entry decisions. I also suggest that NBA teams should have to offer longer contracts when they want to sign younger prospects—five year right out of high school, four after one year of college, etc.—and that drafted college players should be able to participate in NBA summer league.
4. Promotion and relegation for the NBA.
People keep talking about this in MLS, where it is dubiously viable and could lead to teams folding. The NBA's situation is vastly different, with an enormous new TV contract and the ability to support teams in Sacramento, Oklahoma City, and the like. The NBA also has an enormous tanking problem. Way too many NBA games are functionally exhibitions. Promotion and relegation fixes that.
Existing team owners looking to protect their franchise value could be a hurdle, but adding, say, ten expansion franchises and gradually splitting into two leagues of 20 teams would bring in enormous expansion fees, enough to offset the possibility of ending up in NBA 2.
3. Okay if you don't want to do that, something else to fix tanking.
First picks in the draft go to the winners of a post-season competition between teams that missed the playoffs. There are 14. The three best and three worst teams are omitted from an eight-team single-elimination tournament that gets played in the latter stages of the NBA playoffs. There is a third place game; top three get the top three slots in the draft.
This is more content to get money from. It turns the bottom three slots in the league into poison to be avoided, instantly upping the drama for the 8 teams at the bottom who are otherwise trying to lose games.
2. Goaltending is legal if you're 5'9" or shorter.
THIS WOULD BE AWESOME.
Sorry, Tom, you've got way too many fingers to call timeout [Bryan Fuller]
1. Coaches can only call timeout by cutting off one of their digits and handing it to the referee.
I admit my previous no-timeouts-ever stance was too radical. In the spirit of compromise, let us allow for timeouts if coaches are willing to take garden shears to their toes and fingers. If the situation truly calls for a little huddle on the sideline where the coach can remind his players to "play good" and "show effort", all it requires is one sickening moment of shredding flesh and cracking bone that forever alters a man. Should a long-time coach be so mutilated that he can no longer operate a pair of garden shears, a Make-a-Wish child can execute the act for him.
It is in this way timeouts can be responsibly managed.