Michigan Football: The Clone Wars
Michigan hosted a large group of visitors last weekend, and reactions are beginning to come in, including those from a couple of the top defensive linemen in the country.
The nation's #1 overall prospect, NJ DT Rashan Gary, told Rivals' Adam Friedman that one of the highlights was seeing his former high school coach ($):
"It was exciting seeing coach Partridge again," Gary said. "I gave him a hug as soon as I saw him.
"The visit was a lot like Ohio State," he said. "As soon as I walked into the building the coaches were giving me high-fives, giving me hugs. It was good to see all that love. The campus is set up basically like my hometown is with how the houses are. Everything is together on campus and I like the way it looks. I got to see Michigan's academics. They showed me their great plan for the student athletes."
Gary was also excited to see Michigan offer his 2017 teammate, DE Corey Bolds, on the trip. He told Friedman that both Michigan and Ohio State—considered by many the two programs to beat in his recruitment—will make it into his next top group, which should be determined when he's done with a lengthy list of visits. Among other tidbits, Sam Webb posted on The Victors Board that he believes Michigan made a better impression on Gary than Ohio State ($).
Top-100 IL DE Josh King saw a significant difference in the quality of Michigan's practice under the new regime, per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($):
“Oh man it was pretty cool,” King started in. He had been to Ann Arbor in the past and was really high on the Wolverines prior to last fall.
“Michigan was different with Coach (Jim) Harbaugh stepping in. He completely turned it around. I remember last year we went there and they were struggling to this year they were flying around. They looked better. They look like a much different team.”
King added "you're not going to find a coach like [Harbaugh] anywhere else." It sounds like Michigan is working their way back into the thick of his recruitment.
Four-star PA TE Cary Angeline mentioned to Wiltfong that OH NO CARY THAT WAS OUR LITTLE SECRET ($):
“Coach Harbaugh, his past of breeding tight ends, he’s one of the best at doing that and he said he’s trying to build an army of big fast tight ends and it’s intriguing how he uses his tight end.”
PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE LARGE MACHINE BEHIND THIS CURTAIN. IT'S OUR COFFEE MAKER. WE'RE VERY PROTECTIVE OF OUR COFFEE PRACTICES, AND IN NO WAY CLONING AN ARMY OF COBY FLEENERS.
ANYWAY, Michigan made a strong impression on top-100 NJ WR Ahmir Mitchell, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
"They moved way up my list," Mitchell said. "I don't really know specifically right now how much, but I loved this visit. I like it a lot there."
Mitchell, who also visited Ohio State this weekend, also had the Buckeyes in his top group along with Rutgers (leader), Notre Dame, Ole Miss and Virginia Tech.
I'm quickly becoming familar with the Rutgers Effect, in which they offer talented in-state prospects early in the cycle, stake claim to an early lead, and then watch helplessly as other programs shoot past them. The Sun rises in the East, and sets as far away from Piscataway as possible.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
it could happen, maybe
Basketball decision timetables.
What is the timetable on a Moritz Wagner decision? And how does that affect other decisions, like Bielfeldt's?
Michigan should know what their 2015-16 roster is going to look like within the next few weeks. The late signing period kicks off April 15th; the NBA draft entry deadline is April 26th. Wagner and Jaylen Brown are both supposed to decide within the month, as you might expect.
Wagner is down to Michigan and staying with his professional team and could decide whenever since LeVert's status is not likely to impact him much. Brown is being recruited by a number of schools with NBA draft decisions on the docket and wants to see how the dust settles before pulling the trigger; he may wait until the 26th. And yes, Michigan appears to be seriously in the mix for him according to both Brian Snow and Sam Webb of Scout. Michigan is reputed to be in the top two but no one knows who the second team is. Normally that is a big, flashing YOU ARE LEADING indicator. In this case the situation is so fluid and close to the vest I wouldn't go that far, but I'm saying there's a chance.
Meanwhile, instate post Mike Edwards continues to Blow Up, adding offers from Pitt, Marquette, Kansas State, and SMU along with interest from Iowa, Wisconsin, and even Duke(?!). Edwards told Rivals that Michigan leads for his services($) despite not having an offer yet. If he turns into a high-major prospect and there's room I think Michigan might prefer him to a fifth year from Bielfeldt.
Michigan just got an impromptu unofficial visit from fifth-year Cornell transfer Shonn Miller, who has to leave the Ivy League if he wants to continue playing basketball. Miller, a 6'7" wing with a monster DREB rate, carried a third of Cornell's offense with reasonable efficiency a year ago. He would probably be a 4 at Michigan. Seton Hall transfer Jaren Sina has also expressed interest. Given the roster composition he would need LeVert to leave to find a spot.
One man's vague priority list, assuming that Michigan has three spots for LeVert, Bielfeldt, and any potential recruits:
And of course look out for any inexplicably unrecruited sons of famous basketball coaches who can jump out of the gym. All of this will be figured out by the 26th.
SPOILERS (sort of)
Don't know if you saw this or if I'm like the 15th person to point this out, but there was an evil Doctor a few nights ago on Archer named "Zoltan Kovacs." Obviously not a coincidence. Attached is a screen cap.
(yes that is my real name)
If that is your real name, Lloyd Cargo. Obviously not a coincidence.
How special were M’s special teams last season?
M’s offense had its own issues but how awful were M’s special teams last season? How much affect did it have on M’s w/l record? To me it seemed, every game M’s special teams was grossly outplayed and might’ve been a factor in some close losses.
FEI added special teams rankings a few years ago that give you a reasonable baseline from which to start. The high variance nature of certain special teams events means you have to sanity check it, though. Let's do that. Michigan was 67th overall in a metric that doesn't respond too much to schedule strength, so they were bad but non-disastrous. By unit:
- FIELD GOALS: 52nd, slightly above average. FEI takes distance into account when valuing FGs FWIW.
- PUNT RETURNS: shockingly good at 19th for one reason: Ben Gedeon's 32-yard blocked punt return touchdown against Appalachian State. Non-Gedeon returns averaged 4.3 yards an attempt on just 13 tries. That's a good demonstration of how swingy these stats are. Minus one event against a tomato can this would be one of the worst units in the country; meanwhile one less dumb block against Maryland and it would look like one of the best.
- KICK RETURNS. Speaking of worst units in the country, Michigan finished 118th. Highly random touchdowns have an even bigger relative impact now that touchbacks are a goal of the rules. Only 16 teams were "above average" in this stat.
- PUNTING. Michigan was 97th. This is a stunning departure from their raw gross yardage, which was 28th, and yet another ringing condemnation of 1) Michigan's archaic NFL-style punting and 2) their ability to put eleven guys on the field.
- KICK COVERAGE. 30th! /waves tiny flag
Other than okay field goal kicking and a blocked punt against a Sun Belt team, Michigan was awful awful awful in all phases except kick coverage last year.
I took them to dinner and bought them a Ufer CD.
listening to past podcasts yesterday, i came across post rutgers podcast featuring hobo-quest. i assume washtenaw county is hobo free.
For those, who aren't bored enough to listen to podcasts from October, a large portion of that podcast was given over to how many hobos we would strangle for certain coaches. It turns out, Tripp, that hobo sacrifices do not have a direct impact on the outcomes of coaching searches, thus sparing me a grisly few weeks and the life in prison that would inevitably follow. I think it all worked out for the best.
“Well, everybody alright? I’m good. Who wants to start?”
You have a couple of players who are new to the position in Brandon Watson and Ross Douglas, though Ross Douglas has played it before. How are they adjusting to that change?
“They’re doing well. It’s a whole different deal for everybody. It’s a different defense, so everybody’s making a lot of adjustments but those two guys are coming along just like the rest of them.”
We’ve heard it said that you’ve played a lot more press coverage than they’re used to. How have they adjusted and how much work is that?
“It’s a lot of work. It’s a new total concept for the defense, for these guys who haven’t played- for Jourdan [Lewis] two or three years, for Blake [Countess] four years- so it is a new concept. It’s a whole new technique they’re learning so it’s taking time but they’re working their butts off. They’re working extremely hard at it and in time we’re going to get it done.”
Press was something they tried last year and did a little bit of it and struggled with it. Are you guys totally committed to it?
“Well, that’s coach Durkin’s defense, yes. So yes, we are totally, 100 % committed. We’ve just got to find the guys who catch on the fastest and handle the technique the best.”
Most cornerbacks are really excited about the chance to do that. Has that been the case here?
“Absolutely for us, and in recruiting they’re very excited to hear we’re aggressive on the outside and they want to see and hear what they’d have to do, so I think it will help us in that respect as far as getting some other corners in here.”
Can you talk about Lewis and Countess in particular and their ability to do that?
“Yeah, Blake’s an extremely hard worker. He’s very focused. Jourdan’s a natural at it. He’s probably our most natural corner for what we’re asking him to do. He does it pretty good but he’s still got some things to get better at because of the fact that it’s something they haven’t done all the time as far as last season goes. But those two are definitely, as far as technique-sound and even athletically and mentally, more experienced in that way.”
[After THE JUMP: Skills needed to play press, a transfer from Stanford confirmed-ish, and depth chart discussion]
Hello: AFC Ann Arbor. We are getting a minor league soccer team that I am inordinately excited about, and tickets have just gone on sale. I already hate Oakland United FC for having both "United" and "FC" in their name. I bet their crest doesn't even have a tree. Or stripes. I do not know how these tossers deign to call themselves any sort of organization. Down with United Sporting Real FC Oakland Dinamo.
AFCAA has an eight game home schedule over the summer; in year one they're playing at Pioneer. Plenty of current and former Wolverines are on the team, and it sounds like they're importing some food carts (Mark's carts?) for games. I'll be at the home opener May 1st, stop by and say hi.
Jim Harbaugh has the best twitter feed. Tips for identifying good coaching twitter feeds:
GOOD: odd capitalization and grammar, random shoutouts to Cracker Barrel and Judge Judy
BAD: hashtags, motivational sayings, motivational sayings embedded in hashtags
Harbaugh is on the good side of the equation:
Michigan Nicknames Snake-Bubba-Jumbo-Flame-Soup-EasyEd-BigEd-BigHoss-Chunky-SirCharles-Bump & the ultimate nickname that became legendary Bo
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) March 27, 2015
Amongst many people saying "don't forget X" I declare Derek Moore the winner for reminding Harbaugh that he should not forget the legend of Tony Pape, AKA "Fat Elvis."
Spring Creaning time. A couple days after Stanford Robinson said "I'm not going anywhere" to media in the IU locker room, the university announced his transfer. Today he was followed by freshman wing Max Hoetzel.
This annual exodus has the same impetus all of Tom Crean's other annual exoduses have: someone must leave (or not show up) because Crean drastically oversigned. This year Indiana has zero seniors, a full roster, and two recruits. And they are still recruiting various players for the late period. To their credit, a lot of Indiana fans hate this.
Every coach is going to have some attrition from guys who don't work out. Few sign multiple guys in November knowing that this means someone on the current team is going to be forcibly ejected from the program as a result. And for what? For a ten seed because your incompetent self can't count or recruit a post player.
We poke at Tom Izzo around here because he's easy to poke at, but he is a legitimate coach and seemingly good dude; Crean is another level of detestable. For everybody's sake let's hope that buyout comes down enough to get rid of him soon. The Big Ten is ill-served by his presence at a basketball mecca.
I'm very disappointed in 61 of you. You guys are jerks.
should I quit blogging about Michigan and dedicate myself to UFRing episodes of "Coach"? RT for YES FAV for NO
— mgoblog (@mgoblog) March 27, 2015
Upon further review, there is not enough football in episodes of "Coach" to do this.
I guess this is official now? Or at least official-ish:
Michigan football: Legends jerseys are gone, helmet stickers are back. Imagine Bo and Canham would be pleased by both.
— John U. Bacon (@Johnubacon) March 27, 2015
I'd rather have the inverse but I'm not too bent out of shape about it. I like the clean look the decal-less helmets have and thought the legends jerseys were a good way to remind people that the Wisterts were great and Gerald Ford was an All-American. Hopefully they can do something for the retired numbers other than just put them back in mothballs.
Also semi-official? I can't remember if Wayne Lyons's transfer was already semi-official or has just become slightly more so, but the big news from Mike Zordich's press conference was Zordich accidentally letting the cat out of the bag about Lyons's imminent arrival. Except that Lyons himself said it in February and we already have a Hello post for him.
Spike was hurting. Spike Albrecht was not fully right last year:
Albrecht is wrestling with the decision whether to undergo off-season surgery on both of his ailing hips, procedures that would leave him rehabilitating for "probably four to five months, at least."
"That's a tough situation," Albrecht said. "I don't want to sit out, but I also don't want to go through another season like I went through this year, but if that's the only option and that's the best option, then I'll do it."
Apparently those surgeries have to be scheduled consecutively and involve—bleah—"shaving down an area of hip bone." A 4-5 month recovery period is likely, which would make him whole in August or September. Tough decision to weigh a lack of pain against whatever rustiness getting laid up like that would induce.
Meanwhile, Alejandro Zuniga evaluated Albrecht.
Gordon Bell, 1975. Via Dr. Sap:
Also Ufer calling a pretty spectacular Bell touchdown run against Purdue.
Etc.: Sauce Castillo. Sauce Castillo. Neeeerd baseball hits the Daily. On John Calipari. Tattoos ranked by how bad of an idea they are. Jack Miller's decision to quit football was about concussions a bit, unless it wasn't.
Can Donnal and Chatman bounce back from underwhelming freshman campaigns? [Fuller]
This edition of the recruiting mailbag—now featuring hoops, too—covers the impact of KJ Costello's commitment to Stanford, a guess at when Harbaugh will land his first commitment, and some discussion of next season's basketball rotation.
Assuming Costello stays out West how big an impact does that have on all these other offers out there? Didn’t seem like too long ago we were hoping for Costello and a bunch of other guys to visit together? Would be great to have a West Coast Tentpole (it’s a thing I think), especially at QB, in the class to link up the offers (and optimism) with commitments.
Tx as always for your time.
Michigan's forays into California are always going to feature a lot of misses; they'll keep at it because the hits make it well worth the effort. Landing a whole group of Golden State prospects was always a longshot at best; even before Costello went off the board, receiver Theo Howard—who described Michigan as his "dream school" after receiving an offer—pledged to Oregon, and it looks like receiver Dylan Crawford could follow in Costello's footsteps.
Jim Harbaugh has already experienced some success recruiting the state, however. Getting five-star OLB Caleb Kelly to foot the bill for an unofficial visit was impressive, and Kelly's mentioned a desire to return for an official visit, which would be a great sign for Michigan's chances. Four-star OLB Camilo Eifler will take an unofficial days after the spring game. Four-star S CJ Pollard said he'd take an official visit as soon as he received his offer. Four-star TE Devin Asiasi is a good bet to take an official, as well. Several others at least have moderate interest; if I had to guess, I'd say Michigan gets at least one California prospect in the class.
That'd be a huge step in the right direction. Seth was kind enough to dig into his database when I asked him about California recruiting under previous coaches. The disparity between Lloyd Carr and the last two coaching staffs is huge:
Carr: Tom Brady, Russell Shaw (transfer), Patrick McCall, DeWayne Patmon, Justin Fargas, Hayden Epstein, Courtney Morgan, Charles Drake, Zach Kaufman, Calvin Bell, Tyler Ecker, Spencer Brinton (transfer), Matt Gutierrez, Leon Hall, Keston Cheathem, Morgan Trent, Eugene Germany, Jason Forcier, Chris Richards, Johnny Sears, Jonas Mouton, Zion Babb, Avery Horn, Donovan Warren, Michael Williams
Rodriguez (1): Tate. Unless you count Burzynski.
Hoke (2): Mags and Wile
Carr averaged about two California recruits a year, and he landed his fair share of big-time recruits, like Brady, Fargas, Mouton, and Warren. As Seth points out, a lot of those guys were from power programs, like Matt Gutierrez at Concord De La Salle—a connection forged back when Carr was the defensive coordinator and Michigan landed a wide receiver from DLS by the name of Amani Toomer. Reestablishing a strong rapport with California's top schools will pay off, even if it's more so in future classes than 2016.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the mailbag, which includes maybe the greatest reader email I've ever received.]
Your recruiting tactics are pretty creative. What went into tracking down a recruit's girlfriend?
"Yeah, I'm not going to take any recruiting questions. Not allowed to talk about recruiting, unfortunately."
Talk about what you have with Jake Butt and how he's doing.
"Jake, he's doing well. He's a very well-rounded player, brings a lot to the table. Really excited about him. He's getting a lot better and doing a lot to improve the detail of his game throughout his whole game."
How involved has Khalid Hill been able to be?
"He's been very involved mentally in what we're doing and getting stronger and getting prepared to come back at some point. Not sure when that's going to be, but from a mental standpoint he'll be very much ready to go when that does happen."
Ian Bunting – what's he got to do to get on the field this year?
"Just keep growing. He's gotten a lot better. He's the guy who's probably improved the most as spring's gone on here. I've been very pleased with him. Just like all the other guys he brings a tremendous work ethic when he comes out there and just grinds. He goes out there for the entirety of practice and the focus is always on getting better. I really love that about him. So he's really coming along, just has to get better at everything just like everybody else does."
There's not much of an age gap between you and the players. What's it like being just five or six years older than some of them?
"Uh, I don't know. It's fun. They're fun to be around."
Is it like a big brother relationship that you have with some of them or do you hope that it gets to that?
"Uh, No. I don't know. I just feel like their coach. Last year I was with guys who were much older than me and I didn't feel like I was their little brother, So I don't know. They're fun to be around, though. Feel like we have a good professional relationship as far as coaching and I feel there is good mutual respect there, I hope, and I really like being around them."
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest]