a terrible blight on our fine country
I may have accidentally typed "Christ Bryant" when attempting to tag this post.
Per all of everyone on twitter but here's Tim because we go back:
Brady Hoke confirms Chris Bryant and Graham Glasgow are the LG and C, respectively.
That was couched in "as of today"-type rhetoric, but you can stop with the rumblings and bumblings now. It's all but official that Michigan's going to debut Chris Bryant on Saturday. Heiko mentions that Hoke also brought up Kyle Bosch and Joey Burzynski as guys "in the mix," along with Miller.
FWIW, I'd heard that Michigan was going to start Bryant against UConn but for a shoulder injury that week in practice. Parsing out how much confidence this gives you about Bryant's ability versus how much terror it gives you about Bryant's ability to remain on the field is left as an exercise to the reader.
BONUS. HEY YOU I REMEMBER YOU
Hoke said Jake Ryan has been doing some full contact work "but we're smart with it," in term of letting him do too much.
No return date set, so not this week. Indiana still seems reasonable.
Michigan just landed OR SF Kameron Chatman according to various folks but most importantly Kameron Chatman. At 6'7", Chatman is either a 3 or 4 at Michigan and is a consensus top 50 player. He joins FL C Ricky Doyle in a 2014 class that will likely grow to four.
|4*, #23 overall
|4*, #29 overall||4*, #49 overall
|4*, #36 overall
Chatman's ratings are in a tight, elite range with ESPN, the relative skeptic, still declaring him a top-50 player. Scout's the most optimistic, placing him one spot from a five star rating. Everyone rates him as a small forward, but at 6'7" with ostentatiously long arms, Chatman could easily play the 4 in Beilein's system if he fills out—he's currently 25 pounds short of Glenn Robinson III's 220.
Robinson's actually a good comparison in terms of profile, as Chatman shot up recruiting boards after an impressive AAU season as a rising junior. For example, he debuted in Scout's top 100 at #42 last July, and since then he's continued to rise incrementally. His rankings are only a few slots short of where Robinson's finished.
A growth spurt from 6'3" to his current 6'7" has a lot to do with that. That necessarily leaves him a skinny guy still adjusting from his previous guard role to more of a wing/post role. This creates an UPSIDE (but raw) theme in a lot of his evaluations. Rivals's generic profile eval is a good example:
Big wing is still developing and growing into his body. One of the top rebounding wings in the class of 2014 and a very alert playmaker off the dribble. A good mid range jump shooter who is extending his range. His toughness allows him to play as a skilled four in a small lineup.
ESPN's Dave Telep was gaga about the guy, but strictly as a developmental prospect:
5. Kameron Chatman, SF: I'm feeling out on a limb here with Chatman. When I watch him, I see a guy in need of a cheeseburger and a weight room but with the potential to be a pro someday. Others receive more attention, but to me, there's something about his overall skill set and lack of physical development that makes me his potential exciting. I'd have no problem taking a flier on him and labeling him as one of the best 25 prospects in the class.
Telep would later name him the guy most likely to track down his peers late in the recruiting process, citing his "monster ceiling"; ESPN's evaluation praises his "terrific frame with very long arms and overall great length."
What Chatman promises is a tantalizing combination of point forward skills…
What you have to love about the 6-foot-6 (and growing) Chatman is his versatility. At times, he brings the ball up the floor and initiates the offense, others he plays on the wing, and then he plays in the high post and the offense is run through him there.
…as skilled as any player in the West, capable of playing any position from 1-4. …could end up closer to 6-foot-8 or taller by the time he hits a college court. His ball handling skills are fantastic for a player his size and he's a quality passer with point guard instincts.
…a slick passer with excellent court vision who understands how to predict defensive movements. Both on the interior and at range, he alertly hits cutters and spots open teammates on the block.
…very young-looking, and still pretty slender, but he’s one of the elite prospects in the west for 2014. He’s got a nice lefty stroke that’s good to about the stripe, a point guard’s feel for the game and excellent ball skills.
…Beilein-thrilling basketball IQ…
superbly skilled 6-foot-6 wing/forward is beginning to grow into his maturing body. His length, high basketball IQ and point guard mentality make him one of the more unique prospects in the west for 2014.
This kid just knows how to play the game. …basketball IQ is one of the best in his class out west. The versatile forward usually positions himself perfectly on the glass, which helps him corral rebounds on both ends and when he has the ball, he doesn’t take long to use his high level vision to make the right pass to a teammate.
…and excellent rebounding for a wing-ish guy.
He is also a way-above-average rebounder for a wing.
His rebounding stands out. Chatman is a conscientious boards-man on both ends, and he's especially dangerous on the offensive glass.
…benefits handsomely from outstanding height and length. He's not only long, he plays big because he doesn't mind contact and has a knack for using his knees, hips and elbows to clear space.
…he did connect on a couple of high arching mid-range jumpers Chatman struggled for the most part this weekend.
His jump shot can be hit or miss, but the southpaw wields a very high-arching shot that's difficult to block.
His mid-range jumper was falling and his three-point shot arches so high it looks like it might hit the rafters. When he's connecting from the outside it really opens up the rest of his game.
…that may indicate he's never going to be a Stauskas gunner. There is a trajectory that is the trajectory basketball has agreed upon is the right one, and if you deviate from that significantly you're either a savant or not a high-end shooter. A number of the evals do say he's got a good mid-range jumper and can extend out to the three point line. I'd guess he's going to be like GRIII in that department, at least to start: he'll take open threes and connect at a mediocre rate.
The other downsides are the usual with a kid who hit the late growth spurt that leaves him a jumbo guy with mad skills: he's skinny, and can be awkward at times. Scout sums him up:
Chatman may open his career as a highly regarded utility player, rather than someone who's ready to step in and become a first or second scoring option. He's still seeking a polished offensive identity, but while he's cultivating his scoring attack he'll nevertheless contribute in myriad other aspects.
Chatman's main suitors were Michigan, Arizona, Oregon, USC, and Connecticut. He also had offers from Memphis, UCLA, Washington, and a couple others.
FAKE 40 TIME
Wait a minute, this is a basketball post.
There's very little out there, as Chatman missed his junior year after a transfer to California.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Chatman's a boom-or-bust type in the mold of a… uh. Sam Dekker? That's the best I've got in the current Big Ten. Dekker was a beanpole 6'7" recruit with excellent ballhandling skills for his size; Chatman is similar. Chatman is more of a rebounder, less of a shooter (Dekker was 39% from three in year one) and probably will have a similar impact as a freshman.
The ESPN guys compared him to Tayshawn Prince, which is another possibility if he extends his shooting range to three and grows another couple inches. Also, remember when you were sad that Keita Bates-Diop shocked people by picking Ohio State? Well, they cloned that dude and called him Kameron Chatman.
When Chatman enters next year Michigan will be down Jordan Morgan, Mitch McGary, and Glenn Robinson III. That'll probably pull Andrew Donnall towards the five, leaving most of the minutes at the four for Chatman, Zak Irvin, and whoever the second combo forward is in this class.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Chatman's commitment gives Michigan flexibility for the final two guys, as he could be considered a three or four for Beilein depending on whether they get more of a wing type or a post type with guy #4; #3 is going to be a shooting guard.
That leaves Donte Grantham, DJ Wilson, and Jonah Bolden in play. Grantham is deciding this week between Michigan and Clemson, and Wilson is a presumed lock if Grantham doesn't grab the last spot. Assuming one of the first two drops, Michigan will have to execute some contortions if it's going to add Bolden in the late signing period; he'll have to establish himself as just too good not to take in his year at Findlay Prep if Michigan is going to add him as a fifth guy in 2014.
Chatman had struck up a relationship with MS SG Devin Booker, FWIW, and that may help alleviate the Tyler Ulis pull at Kentucky. Michigan's pretty much stuck waiting for Booker or James Blackmon Jr to pick Kentucky and hoping to swoop in on the one still out there.
Molk/Definitely Not Molk [Heiko]
We waited to pass judgment on this offensive line until they weren't freshmen or true freshmen. We waited for the end of spring and and the end of fall and until we saw them play actual football, and do so against actual NFL-bound defensive linemen. We waited after Akron because everybody was getting a mulligan. We waited until after the UConn game was UFR'd. While nobody among the struggling is so old that their careers are discountable, the evidence is clear that Michigan, so far, hasn't had five guys who can credibly block at a collegiate level.
So…depth chart today:
LT: Brian Cook—turned down NFL to write about college
LG: Ace Anbender—Good find, should be multi-year starter, moonlighted at first as a…
C: Coach Brown—Recipient of much internet scorn lately. A good sport about it.
RG: Blue in South Bend—Top young prospect, struggles with moderation.
RT: Seth Fisher—Been here forever, appreciated but consensus is he's not a star like Brian
|First rule of position group panic: anyone on the depth chart with a plausible excuse for not playing yet is a god. [Upchurch]|
And the question:
The OL complaints have had a few weeks now to percolate through reality and drip a little possibility of personnel changes into our cups. How do we feel about this? How much improvement would you expect out of an assumed Bryant->LG, Glasgow->Center, Miller->Bench plan, and what's the catch? Any other moves you'd consider?
Brian: There are two catches with the proposed Bryant insertion:
Bryant is liable to catch on fire at any moment. He's injury-prone. This is often an overblown thing better attributable to bad luck than anything else, but with very large offensive linemen it's a real thing, especially ones coming off a leg injury who end up getting their knee drained just before the season.
A position switch for Glagsow may limit his effectiveness. Can he snap? Can he get the line calls right? Will he have the requisite agility? That move seems like a recipe for more of the same when it comes to mental errors unless Glasgow is even more of a player than I think he is after four games.
Those issues are not enough to keep Miller on the field after consecutive rough outings against low-level competition against both pass and run. If they're going to continue with the stretch, the center is probably the single most important guy on your OL and Miller is busting too often both mentally and physically not to attempt a change. How effective your stretch is going to be when Chris Bryant is trying to move laterally remains unknown. Add that to the pile of issues, I guess. Here:
Does a Bryant/Kalis guard pairing throw away your offseason prep? Michigan wants to run the stretch for some reason. Their guards don't seem like good fits. Can you run inside zone now? Power?
I feel not good about midseason switches; I still feel that there will be improvement; there is no other move to consider except prepping Bosch or Kugler to enter the lineup in the event Bryant gets hurt or doesn't perform.
[More responses after the jump.]
Four Plays – UM vs. Minnesota 2013
This series examines the probable individual matchups Michigan expects to face against particular 2013 opponents on one of Michigan’s key running plays and one of its key passing plays, as well as defensively against a couple of the opponent’s key plays (assuming first-sting personnel in a base defensive alignment). This is the third installment of the series; previous: Notre Dame and Connecticut.
Michigan opens Big Ten action at home this season against a Jerry Kill’s Gophers, who didn't exactly face a murderer’s row in their non-conference schedule but got off to a 4-0 start nonetheless—even despite an injury that deprived Minnesota of their starting QB for two games. [Edit: The Gophers are now 4-1, having lost 3-7 yesterday to Iowa. In the game, Minnesota gained only 30 yards rushing and gave up 147 yards rishing to Mark Weisman]. Overall, the Gophers looked well-coached and unlikely to beat themselves, but with the talent differential and Michigan needing to make a statement, this is not a game that should be close.
When Michigan has the ball…
The slant is a relatively easy throw that gets the ball to a receiver with a chance to gain yards after the catch. In west coast offenses, pairing multiple slants with a flat route underneath stretches a defense horizontally, while motion is used to help the QB diagnose the defense before the snap.
When the H-back motions across the formation before the snap, the QB will watch to see if a defender follows him. If so, then the defense must be playing man coverage—meaning the X receiver is one-on-one with the CB. If no defender follows the H-back, then the defense is in zone. The H-back (running the flat route) and the Y receiver (running a slant) will flood the right flat; the QB will read the flat defender (against cover 3, this is usually the box safety) and throw to whichever receiver the flat defender leaves open.
LT – Taylor Lewan: pass protect vs. WDE Theiren Cockran
LG – Graham Glasgow: pass protect vs. DT Cameron Botticelli
C – Jack Miller: pass protect vs. DT Ra’Shede Hageman
RG – Kyle Kalis: pass protect vs. DT Ra’Shede Hageman
RT – Michael Schofield: pass protect vs. SDE Michael Amaefula
TE – Devin Funchess: motion across formation, run flat route (covered by SS Cedric Thompson)
SL – Drew Dileo: run slant (2) route (covered by NB Brock Vereen)
SE – Jeremy Gallon: run slant route route (covered by CB Derrick Wells)
FL –Jehu Chesson: run slant route (covered by SS Cedric Thompson)
TB – Fitzgerald Toussaint: pass protect vs. SDE Michael Amaefula
QB – Devin Gardner: pre-snap, motion H-back across formation, recognize zone coverage underneath; receive snap, read flat defender (SS); if flat defender follows Chesson, set feet and throw flat route to Funchess, throw slant to Chesson if flat defender comes up to play Funchess.
Three weeks ago I wouldn’t have hesitated to declare the advantage for Michigan on this play, with Devin Gardner throwing to a solid group of receivers against Minnesota’s underwhelming defense. But Gardner’s been inconsistent over the past couple weeks, due in no small part to poor pass protection on the interior—and now Michigan has to face arguably the best DT in college football. That would be Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota’s senior DT who entered the season on most first-team All-B1G lists and boasts a first-round NFL draft grade. To have success against him, the Michigan line that handled Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt will have to show up against the Gophers. Another performance like the one we saw in Hartford could spell a long day for Michigan’s offense.
[After the JUMP: it's a trap!]
Taylor on an island [Upchurch]
Brian forwarded me a mailbag question regarding where Michigan's defense is getting attacked through the air, i.e. are there certain coverage areas that have been particularly weak? It took me most of a day to chart every passing play; the resulting post is rather straightforward. Consider this your bye week from my logorrhea.
Data are here.
What I tracked:
1) Where the ball starts (hash or center). If the tackles lined up inside the hash it was "center"
2) Which zone it was thrown to, on a telephone keypad grid. 1, 4, and 7 are around the numbers to the sideline; 2, 5, and 8 are the area around the opposite hash to the wide side only, and 3, 6, and 9 are down the middle.
If a ball was on the line I always erred to the zone closest to the quarterback. This makes sense if you imagine a player covering Zone 6 will be responsible for carrying a player through that zone, and would be in better position to defend that pass than a guy over him.
3) Which side (strong or weak) of the defense. I noted "Strong" as wherever the SAM lined up in 4-3 sets and where Countess lined up in nickel sets. Once or twice this conflicted with the offense but it's better this way for identifying which players are being targeted.
Weakside/boundary players, usually: R.Taylor, Wilson, Ross/Bolden, Beyer (as WDE) on nickel, Clark on 4-3.
Strongside/field players, usually: Countess, C.Gordon, Beyer (as SAM) on 4-3, Clark on nickel, T.Gordon, Morgan/Bolden, Stribling/Hollowell/Lewis/Avery.
Sacks, throwaways, scrambles, and other such events that took the emphasis on coverage were excised. I couldn't reward those things which occurred because coverage was good enough to make them happen so keep that in mind as you read.
Mac Bennett's projected partner: also Mac Bennett
|Mac Bennett||Sr.||Mike Downing||Fr.|
|Kevin Clare||Sr.||Brennan Serville||Jr.|
|Mike Szuma||Jr.||Nolan De Jong||Fr.|
ALSO: Mike Chiasson (Jr), Spencer Hyman (Fr), Kevin Lohan (Fr)
THIS IS WHERE IT GETS STICKY. The simultaneous departures of Jon Merrill and Jacob Trouba leave Michigan's blue line in a spot that is icky at best. While they've got a couple of NHL draft picks incoming, there's a major difference between Trouba, a top ten pick who is going to make the Jets this year, and Mike Downing, a fourth-rounder who Billy Powers says is "a bit skin and bones" at the moment.
But let's start with the nice bit. MAC BENNETT returns for his final year in a winged helmet wearing the C. He toned his game down last year when he found himself paired with Trouba, eschewing the puck-rushing style he flashed his first two years so that he could be a more reliable defensive partner for a dynamic player. He still put up points at an encouraging rate until he was hewn down in the disastrous 5-1 loss to Bowling Green that seemed to be the last straw for Red. He returned a month later on the second pairing—Merrill's return bumped him—and performed ably down the stretch. Miraculously, his +/- was zero on the year. Despite all his talent, Trouba did not fare nearly as well in that (admittedly wonky) stat.
This year, Michigan needs him to be Trouba, and all-phases crusher who sucks up shift after shift. If Red is ever going to throw over his policy of relatively even time, this is the year. Bennett should be logging Jack Johnson-in-Columbus time, playing all three phases and attempting to shut down the opposition's best on a nightly basis. Powers provided some Fred Jackson-level reassurance when he talked to the Canadiens' official site:
“Mac Bennett will be a dominant college defenseman [this season]. We expect him to be the most dominant offensive and defensive defenseman in the Big Ten. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it,” added Powers. “Every night, there will be someone in the building who will say – ‘That No. 37 is special’.”
Powers also said he's an “elite skater with incredible explosion and incredible endurance"; that latter quality should be put to the test.
Expect a resurgence of the offensive flair Bennett showed his first couple years, because it's not coming from anywhere else on this defense corps and whoever ends up pairing Bennett will be shot if he so much as thinks about getting up ice.
Now, who partners with Bennett? Your options are all frightening on some level. The primary contenders:
- The aforementioned MIKE DOWNING, who has promise and offensive upside but saw his stock drop significantly in his final year of junior and needs to fill out.
- Senior KEVIN CLARE, who provides zero offense (0-2-2 last year, 12 shots), was –9 last year in just 19 games, and was scratched for the final 14 because of disciplinary issues.
- Junior BRENNAN SERVILLE, who seems like he should be more of an offensive defenseman of only because he tends to give you hives with his decisions but is as bereft as Clare is in the points department (1-2-3, 21 shots) and was scratched for 11 games himself last year. But I guess he was +3? Woo?
I'm going with Downing, mostly because I cringe at the idea of Clare or Serville on a top pairing and haven't seen the freshman yet, but I could also see the job going to Clare, since Downing has some offensive upside in his game:
"He carries the puck well out of the zone and makes good decisions on when to hang on to it or move it ahead. Sees the ice well in transition and has a pro pass. He is willing to mix it up, especially when defending down low. He is also very good at moving the puck on the power play. He has a good, hard shot that he gets through to the net, but can and will fake his shot and make a quick pass to the open man. He is not afraid to jump to an open hole on the offensive attack to create scoring chances. He will need to show all of this with more consistency for the next level."
Michigan may want to split those two guys in an effort to have a puck-mover on the ice for most of the game. Clare's just going to sit back, break up plays, and try to get the puck out of the zone, and if he's out there with a lesser guy that could result in spells of uncomfortable pressure.
As for Serville, I'm in full confirmation bias mode with him in which I magnify every mistake he makes. But I'm aware of it and I'm still nervous about having him in a major role. He was a draft pick a couple years back and defensemen take time, etc etc etc. I'll be pleasantly surprised if he makes a significant step forward.
[After THE JUMP: at least they've got a ton of third pairing guys?]