this may be of some local interest
Young Toothless in repose [Fuller/MGoBlog]
What’s it like for you to be back in the mix?
“It’s great. I really missed playing football. Mostly I just missed the camaraderie, I feel like. When you’re hurt, you’re not playing, you have to sit out. You don’t get to play with your friends—these guys are your best friends, your teammates, guys you work all year with to achieve your goals, and not being a part of that really hurts.”
How much did it bother you down the stretch last season to watch and not be a part of it?
“It…the thing that bothered me was I felt like I was hanging my teammates out to dry. I know we played a lot of up-tempo teams and you need depth against those teams. You can’t expect four or five guys to go out there and play every snap against a team that’s snapping the ball every 15 seconds. So, I felt like I could have done more. I felt like I was kind of hanging them out to dry, for lack of a better term, out there, so that kind of hurt pretty bad.”
You were saying at the linemen camp that you felt you were healthy and ready to go. Are you able to assess it better now that you’re actually going against people?
“Yeah. I mean, there’s no substitute for a 300-pound man trying to block you. So, it took a couple days to get back in the swing of things but I feel great. I feel 100%. Feel like I’m in the best shape of my life. Everything’s going great.”
How about the depth as it stands now? They’re talking about rolling lines.
“I’ll let Coach Mattison and Coach Harbaugh talk about the depth chart. It’s not really my place to talk about it.”
Harbaugh was saying that Michael Onwenu is possibly his favorite player on the team—or favorite of the freshmen, that he’s going both ways. So are you going against him and working with him?
“Yeah, he’s a mountain of a man. He’s a big guy. He was playing defense and giving us looks as an offensive guard in individual, you’re just like, ‘This kid is huge.’ And he picks up on everything really quickly. If you can play offensive and defensive line both as a true freshman or you’re rolling through depending on the day, whichever side of the ball they want you to play, that’s pretty impressive.”
If you had to guess, how much would you say he actually weighs?
“Um…I think the most recent weigh-in was about 375, so I think that’s the heaviest on the team by about 50 pounds. That’s a pretty wide margin on a college football team.”
But he still can move well at that size?
“Yeah! He moves extremely well for a guy who [inaudible].”
You felt earlier you could have done more last November. Medically, you weren’t allowed to play, right?
“No, I wasn’t. It’s just the feeling like I was I was out there with my guys. Maybe that’s just me. I don’t know. It was just a weird feeling sitting at home. I’ve been traveling basically every game since my redshirt year, and so watching on the couch instead of being there, it was just a little strange.”
Does that make you reassess things, not coming back by the end of the season?
“Yeah, it’s just like this game does end and having it taken away so abruptly—like, if I was a true senior or something that could have been my last game, [the game] against Rutgers. It kind of makes you take every day and cherish it and not take it for granted.”
What was the rehabilitation period like for you and the recover period like for you?
“I spent six weeks in an immobilizer. Just a little wedge thing right here to keep it still to let it heal. But our strength training staff and our athletic training staff was great, especially Jason Williams, a Michigan grad. He took probably about an hour out of his day every day to work with me for God knows how long. Probably like two weeks straight. So, that was great and I really appreciate the strength staff and the athletic training staff for that.”
What’s your reaction to the new boss on defense?
“He’s the man. He’s awesome. It’s a little different being coached by him. He’s not as big of a screamer as our past defensive coordinator but he gets the point across. He’s a great guy. His defense is awesome and we’re excited to play in it this year.”
[After THE JUMP: the origin story of Young Toothless and a little technique talk with McCray]
Sam, Brian, and Craig are gone, but the MGoBlog Roundtable's second string of Bruce Madej, Ace Anbender, and Ira Weintraub would start for just about any other Big Ten radio roundtable. Things they discuss:
Another second unit that would start for just about any Big Ten program
Fullbacks! Don't forget about Hirsch
Chris Evans hype that only makes sense if it's real
Bo Schembechler believed you shouldn't be allowed to write about football if you don't understand all the subtle and sublime intricacies of offensive line play
A different take on Happy Gilmore
Iowa fans still hate Ed
You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom, which includes John U. Bacon's show, the new Spath show, and more.
Segment 2 is here.
THE USUAL LINKS
Better settle in. We are reaching the end of our Players of the Big Ten Preview to the Death.
Previously on Draftageddon:
Rounds 1-2: A Heisman candidate QB and the reigning Thorpe winner go after two members of Michigan's secondary. (M players: Peppers, Lewis, Butt)
Rounds 3-4: An underwhelming first swing through receivers, and lots of linemen. (Chesson, Cole, Wormley, Glasgow)
Rounds 5-6: A Michigan second-teamer goes before Purdue J.J. Watt. (Charlton, Hurst)
Rounds 7-8: Hodor. (Mone, Darboh)
Rounds 9-11: We go on a mini Iowa binge, and Brian takes a true freshman (YTTF).
Rounds 12-14: A grueling three-rounder with safeties, RBs, and MSU legacies flexing. (O'Korn, Braden).
Rounds 15-16: We break out laughing at Tommy Armstrong. (Dymonte, Kenny Allen)
Rounds 17-18: Cheese and tackles. (Magnuson, Delano Hill)
Rounds 19-20: Tight ends, a boring Iowa safety, and Brian finally believes a Michigan coach quote over his own eyes. (Stribling)
Rounds 21-22: Slot Receivers (but no Grant Perry sorry)
How Things Stand:
We have four more rounds, and a few big needs. For example the guy who kept questioning why drafting interior offensive linemen is important just looked at what's remaining among interior OL and realized he's really going to need a…
ACE: Round 23, Pick 1: Cameron Johnston, punter, Ohio State
[Draftageddon 2015, Draftageddon 2014]
OFFENSE: QB CJ Beathard (IA), RB Saquon Barkley (PSU), WR Jehu Chesson (M), WR Noah Brown (OSU), SLOT Curtis Samuel (OSU), SLOT Mitchell Paige (IU), TE George Kittle (IA), OT Nick Gates (NE), OT Kodi Kieler (MSU), OG Jacob Bailey (IU), C Michael Dieter (UW), WEAPON Jabrill Peppers (M)
DEFENSE: NT Ryan Glasgow (M), DT Jake Replogle (PU), DE Sam Hubbard (OSU), DE Demetrius Cooper (MSU), MLB Josey Jewell (IA), OLB Brandon Bell (PSU), OLB/NICKEL Jabrill Peppers (M), CB Jalen Myrick (MN), CB Vayante Copeland (MSU), S Nate Gerry (NE), S Malik Hooker (OSU)
SPECIAL TEAMS: P Cameron Johnston (OSU), KR Jabrill Peppers (M), PR Jabrill Peppers (M)
While it’s tradition around here to forego a real punter selection in order to hoard an extra roster spot, having someone who can reliably flip field position is valuable enough to merit a selection—Michigan fans saw that first-hand last year with Blake O’Neill.
Johnston is an Aussie import who’s been good enough over the last few years that he needed to clarify he wouldn’t join the horde of Buckeyes entering the NFL Draft early. In 2015, 22 of his 58 punts pinned opponents inside the 20 against only seven touchbacks, and he forced 21 fair catches; he was even better as a sophomore, putting opponents inside the 20 on 26 of his 48 boots with only five touchbacks. He’ll be in contention for Ray Guy honors for the third straight year.
Seth: Also tradition:
[After the JUMP: lots of picks, and some people in the comments who hate everything]
After the Big Ten scrapped the ridiculous “Leaders” and “Legends” division upon adding Maryland and Rutgers, Michigan found itself in the same division as its two primary conference rivals. Urban Meyer and Mark Dantonio have each won the East once en route to a playoff bid; Ohio State beat Alabama and Oregon to win a national title, while Michigan State was destroyed by the Tide. Michigan managed to hire Jim Harbaugh away from the NFL, and the division added a third elite coach, who turned things around at Michigan immediately.
The Buckeyes went on a crazy postseason run with third-stringer Cardale Jones to win it all in 2014, and their team was loaded with top-tier talent last season. They were the consensus pick to win the conference, but Michigan State went into Columbus without Connor Cook and managed to lock OSU down in a slugfest that left the Buckeye fans apoplectic with the playcalling. Since State came away with a win in Ann Arbor (the forces of the devil were working that night and I refuse to admit otherwise), the Spartans were the surprise winner of the East. Ohio State figured things out and took out their frustrations on Michigan and then Notre Dame in the bowl game. MSU / OSU / UM finished with a combined 31-3 record against other teams.
Meyer, Harbaugh, and Dantonio make the Big Ten East as competitive at the top as any other division in college football. This year, State gets both OSU and UM at home, while Michigan gets both rivals on the road. In terms of the general wax and wane of team quality from year-to-year, Ohio State and Michigan State are on the downswing from last year: OSU loses a ridiculous draft class (there were too many good players to list here, honestly), while MSU loses its star quarterback, best receiver by a mile, two All-American offensive linemen, and three of four defensive linemen (including an All-American). Michigan, by contrast, gets many of its best players back – the Wolverines have several elite position groups (receivers/tight ends, defensive line, and defensive backs).
None of those three teams lost to any of the other four teams in the B1G East (Penn State, Indiana, Rutgers, Maryland). James Franklin is 14-12 so far at PSU, Indiana is a chaotic gadfly but not much more, Rutgers became OSU Jr. and Maryland became UM Jr. after hiring those respective schools’ defensive coordinators. It’s a safe bet that it will come down to Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State – and the winner of the B1G East is the heavy favorite to win the entire conference. There’s a decent chance the division goes three-for-three in playoff appearances.
[team previews after the JUMP]
bad at timeouts, still good at crootin [Fuller]
When this not-quite-monthly feature last ran at the end of June, Ohio State and Michigan occupied the top two spots, as expected, but Penn State languished in the bottom half of the conference rankings.
1. Ohio State
7. Michigan State
10. Penn State
Outside of the locked-in top two, the rankings saw considerable movement as many prospects looked to end their recruitment before the beginning of fall camp. No Big Ten program made more progress than PSU, which picked up seven commits since the last update. The current standings:
The conference is also settling into more clear-cut tiers, which I'll cover after the...
This was cool:
It didn't really work; Ohio State's NFL-bound defenders reacted quickly and beat their blocks, but I'm still drawing it up because it was a cool way to mess with the Quarters defense that our two biggest rivals, Ohio State and Rutgers (and Michigan State) run as a base.
Step 1: Play-Action Power
The first thing here is the power pull by the left guard, Braden (#71). That little bit of play-action is meant to get the linebackers reacting to pull, particularly the Sam, or "Star" in OSU's terminology (#43 Darron Lee), and the Mike (#5 Raekwan McMillan). These were two of the quickest linebackers (or in Lee's case hybrids) in the country last year, and the play's success depends foremost on flanking those two with offensive linemen, so getting them to take a false step to the their left is a big deal.
Peppers is set up a bit closer to the line of scrimmage than the QB, which is a key for the defense that Peppers will be coming across (not down), and threatening an outside run (or pass blocking but I think they knew he doesn't do that). His first step indeed is down and in, like he might do that. Then he holds up, at the same moment that Speight pulls the ball back to pass.
Step 2: Show a Tunnel Screen
Let's take a snapshot and see what the power did:
Not much. As soon as they read the pass the linebackers and DBs are all right back where they aligned. However the DL are aggressively getting upfield so they're playing along at least. Braden is set up to take the backside DT to wall off pursuit. The playside DE is allowed to come in free, another signal that the offense will try to run outside, and that holds that DE inside long enough that Peppers can outrun him to the slot.
As the ball goes to Darboh there, Ohio State's defenders start to react to what they're now reading as a screen that attacks the crease. This is a thing a lot of teams run against Quarters defenses because of how it messes with the 1-2 reads.
Remember how Quarters works:
One of the little confusing things you can do against quarters defenders is to stack your receivers or have them cross each other. The DBs have to read #2 to see if he's going vertical (play Cov 4) or horizontal (play Cov 2). Crossing receivers makes that read a little more difficult. Eventually the WRs separate and that's when the read determination is made, but it's still one more bit of analysis to cause paralysis.
The motion-to-stack-to-delay in the slot is messing with the quarters read, and true to form the CB and S stay back and read instead of attacking upfield.
Step 3: Swing out the Peppers
Meanwhile the linebackers are responsible for the RB—Peppers' outside release means the Star, Darron Lee ought to cover him. Michigan would like Darron Lee (the LB at the bottom of the screen) to try to make the play all by himself, meaning he's out of position and about to get walloped by Mason Cole, who's usually a really good downfield blocker. But Lee doesn't get fooled here either. When Darboh gets the ball, Lee races outside into the alley to be the force player.
But this is still fine—if Lee fights inside of Cole, the LB is dead. If Lee keeps leverage, Cole can still blast the much smaller player out of the lane. Glasgow meanwhile whooped past the nose tackle and may yet wall off McMillan.
The hope here is that in all the confusion, you'll catch the Buckeye defenders staying inside to squeeze down Darboh's running room. But they don't.
At the bottom-left you see Apple has defeated Grant's cut block. Lee is set up perfectly to force the run inside and not let Cole push him too far down to create space. Glasgow may be agile but McMillan is already past the hash and too quick to lose that matchup. However Glasgow did a good enough job to get out there that McMillan can't forget about him, which means there's still a lane to be had. And the playside DE, Lewis, has some agility—he checked Darboh then left him to keep pursuit hot—but he's not running down Peppers.
So Harbaugh's little tricky play has Peppers in space and able to pick the side of a Mason Cole vs. hybrid spacebacker block, with the MLB's pursuit too late squeeze down a hole. It's 6 yards before Apple's dodge of Perry fills. Had that block gone right, it'd be Peppers vs a safety who's coming down from the 50 yard line for a lot more.
It would have been fun to see this against a defense not of 2016 Ohio State's caliber. Anyway it's a good example of how Michigan's coaches were emptying the hat of ideas to find a few good matchups against a team they couldn't really play 11 on 11 with.