Brian Cole is the jewel of Michigan's currently wee recruiting class.
Michigan has a lot of recruiting to do in the next month, and if you're like me you stopped paying attention to it about six seconds before the end of the first half in South Bend. Each decommitment spurred wonderment that there were any recruits left to do that, all updates were guys saying LOL NO politely, focus turned to firing all the things. Now that we've acquired a Harbaugh, that promises to change.
Let's re-orient on Michigan's 2015 recruiting class.
IN THE FOLD
Michigan only has six commitments but at least they're quality ones. They are:
- MI WR Brian Cole, a consensus top 100 kid and the top player in the state. Cole may be a safety and is listed as an ATH a couple places.
- OH S Tyree Kinnel, a consensus four star.
- NJ OT Grant Newsome, also a consensus four star.
- MI QB Alex Malzone is a six-foot-ish QB in the Drew Tate mode.
- PA OG Jon Runyan Jr. Legacy kid, obviously. Generic three star.
- OH K Andrew David, who's a kicker. A good one, and a needed one.
Michigan has five open slots right now and a number coming. A few months ago the number on the class was supposed to be 16. Not sure if that included Ferns's surprising transfer. For some reason I thought Hoke mentioned that two unnamed offensive linemen are going to go on medical hardship scholarships, but I can't find anything of the sort in the presser transcripts.
Whether he said it out loud or not, some attrition at OL is inevitable. Michigan returns their entire starting five plus Erik Magnuson, and there are a couple of guys who have struggled with injuries for a long time. Some will light out for greener pastures or take medical hardships.
Other attrition might come at DT and at CB, where there's enough returning experience to squeeze out guys who are now staring down the likelihood they'll never play.
Assuming 16 guys, which may be conservative:
TIGHT END: 1. If Harbaugh's Stanford tenure is any indication we're in for a buttload of TEs. Michigan does not have one in this class, but with CT TE Chris Clark still considering the Wolverines after his decommitment and tweeting out Harbaugh-related exclamations that might not last long($).
RUNNING BACK: 1. Michigan has a glut in the junior class; Ty Isaac's redshirt means that they effectively do have a back from the last class. Still, Michigan needs a guy. It doesn't sound like MI RB Mike Weber is going to come back into the fold, so they'll have to range afield. KY RB Damien Harris is not reconsidering M either.
OFFENSIVE LINE: 2. Michigan only took two in the last class and with Mason Cole starting from day one their 2014 class is effectively one dude: Juwann Bushell-Beatty. Michigan hasn't taken an interior linemen since Kugler, Dawson, and Samuelson two years ago—it's time to fill out the numbers there, especially if they lose a couple of current members of the roster.
DEFENSIVE END: 2. Michigan has just four on the roster. Edge rusher is a huge priority.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE: 1. Nose is probably set with Hurst, Mone, and Pallante all underclassmen and Glasgow emerging into a quality option. Three-tech has plenty of options right now but they'll all be redshirt juniors and Michigan has no one behind them.
LINEBACKER: 1. Still not a huge need even after Ferns's departure; should get one guy to prevent a big gap.
CORNERBACK: 1. See linebacker. Not a huge priority but good to have a guy in.
SAFETY: 1. Numbers are still thin even with Kinnel sticking.
If Michigan ends up with more space than the above assumes, WR, QB, and DT are candidates for additional reinforcements.
Ace will keep you apprised of the names that might emerge to fill those holes in the regular recruitin' posts. It's a little early yet to have a set of names.
Bit of a format change for us in this dead period.
THE WATER POLO EMIRATES CUP
Shockingly won by Al Jazira over the heavily favored Al Nasr. What does this mean for the future of UAE water polo? Can former Partizan goaltender Nikola Radojicic forge the national team into a regional power?
DHONI QUITS TEST CRICKET
India's captain retires, citing strain. A tribute to a true legend of the game, a guy who played it the right way. Can Virat Kohli hope to replace Dhoni? We doubt it. Kohli's a bit of a wobble. Can't even keep his crumpets straight.
SIX NATIONS RUGBY A MESMERIZER
Ireland victorious as they come a clatter against the All Blacks. O'Neill tossed a real poofer in the final, wingeing the Scots a-dango. How will the Hottentots respond? Will the escape pod to Alpha Ceti be complete in time for the Eight Provinces Preliminaries? Will the Raja of Tambucktoo execute his back twelve for their diverse and sundry chest hair violations? Rug-a-roo and me too!
"Across 110th Street"
"Float On," Modest Mouse
National anthem of UAE
"Test Cricket Theme"
THE USUAL LINKS
“I guess it isn’t holiday break, everyone’s here. Thank you for that.”
“It’s great to be with all of you today, and I want to welcome all of the people here who come from all over the place to report this important news and I’d like to single out some people here that I think are quite special, and they made a special effort to join us. You’ve heard we have former coaches from Michigan in Lloyd Carr, Gary Moeller, and Jerry Hanlon. The Michigan faithful will always stop to shake their hands and thank them for all that they’ve done over the years for this great university. Let me do that as well, as they unselfishly helped me in thinking through this coaching transition.
All of these gentlemen coached under the late, great Glen E. “Bo” Schembechler, and with a simple phone call we have Bo’s wife, Kathy Schembechler, here, who made a huge effort through holiday break and snow storms in Denver to join us for this celebration today. Thank you, Kathy.
We also have here today Michigan Regents Kathy White, Larry Deitch, and Andrew Richner, all of whom have been so helpful in the process that we’ve constructed that resulted in this great outcome. And while I’m mentioning the top leadership at the University, let me also thank our President, Mark Schlissel, who had just arrived less than six months ago this summer. He was terrific to me in counsel, as a person to brainstorm with, and more importantly as a touchstone of what the University seeks in its destiny of being leaders and best in academics and athletics. And finally, I invited members of my team, two of whom have knocked themselves out since we started this project: Chrissi Rawak and Mike DeBord, plus Tim Lynch, who’s the VP and General Counsel; whenever you do a deal like this there’s a lot of legal work. Thanks to all three of them.
As you hear of my selection for our head coach you should also know I broke one of the cardinal rules of negotiation; I fell in love with the guy on the other side and his name’s John Dennison, and he played an enormous part in bringing the coach home.
I’m sorry for the preamble because I know you want me to get on with it, but this part of the program is really what it’s about being at Michigan; we recognize the team first. On December 3rd I asked you to be patient with me as we started this search, and we pledged to you a deliberate nature of our work, and we discussed how broadly we were going to search for this coach. We did that. We went through a deep think phase that led to our point of view today. Many fans, alumni, past players, they took the time to give me input. I even talked to our current team twice about this decision. Safe to say I heard from lots of people. So today, I’m very pleased and proud to announce the 20th Head Football Coach at the University of Michigan, Jim Harbaugh.
The real talent in the family is Sarah Harbaugh, who’s here with her children Addie, Katie, Jack, and Jimmy and Grace, and Jim’s brother-in-law John and niece Kennedy are here. Welcome to all of them, and a special welcome to Jack and Jackie Harbaugh. Jack was a coach here at Michigan for a number of years, and his wife Jackie- they were both incredible assets to our Michigan family as they were building what seemed to be a cadre of exceptional leaders in athletics.
Now, Jack was a coach when I played here and as I told Jim, he never had a bad day. He was such a positive influence and I’m glad he’s back around our program. Thanks, Jack.
I mentioned that I talked to lots of people, and one particularly famous pro coach who has done broadcasting for many years told me this: “You know, Jim Hackett, you didn’t just get a great coach. You got the best coach in football today, college or pro, in Jim Harbaugh.”
You know, there are a lot of great coaches out there. He has a brother who’s one, and we had many of them on our list. But when you ask how many of these coaches won at all levels, college and pro, it’s hard to find someone to compare it with. In my upbringing I remember my dad talking about Paul Brown, because he excelled at all levels. This guy’s just like that. I could go on about him. He won 49 games in four years with the San Francisco 49ers. Just amazing. And considering that he had really strong competitors in that league, including another one with the initials JH, he faced a lot of competition in the pros and amassed a fantastic record.
I think that Jim likely- no, surely- was a candidate for any of these pro jobs that opened yesterday, and yet he chose to come home. At Michigan Jim will make the same salary he was paid with the Niners. Jim has signed a seven-year deal, and a year from now I will review the football program’s progress and the University will determine and appropriate deferred compensation arrangement, which I have to take into account market conditions at that time. As you know, there’s a lot of opportunity out there for talent like this, but I don’t plan on talking more about pay because I’m totally at peace with the fact that we have a win-win deal here. When we thought about a way to signal Jim’s coming home, I looked around campus and realized maize is everywhere so today I’m wearing a maize watch and I gifted these to the family and friends as a reminder of this very special day. Our guy came home. Please join me in welcoming Jim to his first press conference as the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Coach at the University of Michigan- Jim Harbaugh.”
[HARBAUGH after THE JUMP]
For a distressingly long time, it appeared Jim Harbaugh's homecoming day would be slightly tarnished by another basketball loss. Then an unlikely hero emerged.
Aubrey Dawkins—a freshman from Palo Alto, because it's a day for poetry—came into today's game with 15 points on the season. He'd made just two of his 11 three-point attempts. But Michigan could not lose today, and Dawkins made sure of it, leading all scorers with 20 points and drilling six of seven triples. His final three was a dagger, giving the Wolverines a four-point lead with under two minutes left in overtime.
It looked remarkably unlikely that Michigan would even make it that far. After a listless first half that ended with a boneheaded foul to allow Illinois a three-point play, the Wolverines fell behind by as many as 13 in the second half. Then the offense found life. Dawkins sunk shot after shot. A previously stone cold Zak Irvin hit back-to-back threes to halve the Illini lead. Caris LeVert and Ricky Doyle worked the pick-and-roll with an effectiveness unseen so far this season.
Consecutive buckets by Doyle gave Michigan their first lead since the early going with just 1:13 to play, but Illinois' Malcolm Hill—who finished with a team-high 19—grabbed it right back with a pair of free throws. Doyle drew a foul on the next possession and split his pair, giving the Illini a chance to win it with the shot clock turned off. Rayvonte Rice bricked a contested 20-footer and Zak Irvin's miracle heave attempt was just a bit long, and the teams headed to overtime.
From there, Michigan's momentum continued. Dawkins and Irvin combined for ten of Michigan's 14 overtime points, with LeVert providing critical support with a pivoting pull-up in the final minute. Illinois struggled to crack a 2-3 zone that the Wolverines increasingly went to as the game wore on. In front of a raucous, capacity Crisler Crowd, M was able to run the clock out without too much stress.
The much-needed victory capped off a banner day for Michigan fans, who were treated to a brief halftime speech from Jim Harbaugh. The ovation for Harbaugh was as loud as Crisler has been this season.
That didn't last long, however. Dawkins caught fire, Crisler rocked, and the faithful who paid a pretty penny to see Harbaugh's first public appearance went home happy.
META: Okay hivemind, I think I'm gonna break the Tuesday column formerly known as Hokepoints (and Museday) into different columns, alternating between stat stuff and Xs and Os stuff. Gimme name ideas. Jimmystats and Jimmypens? I'm at a loss.
Lynn Sladky, AP via Freep.
In his profile in heroism on Harbaugh yesterday, Brian mentioned that THIS pro-style offense at least sometimes does things other than what the defense wants/expects/prepared for:
Those 5.2s [rushing YPC in 2009, 2010 and 2011 at Stanfard] are crazy given the context—on par with Rodriguez's Denard-era run games minus, you know, Denard. This is not a scheme that's just "run it until you stop it"—Harbaugh is trying to screw with your run fits every play.
I thought I'd get into that screwing just a bit because one thing we haven't seen much of at Michigan is someone who knows how to run a power offense correctly. We've seen DeBord and Borges run it poorly, and we've seen Nussmeier try to mold it onto a horizontal spread while still fulfilling Hoke's mandate that at least one tight end must be doing something he's bad at every play.
For something approximating what I expect Michigan will run I went back to the last game Harbaugh coached in college, the 2011 Orange Bowl. Stanford faced Bud Foster's quarters defense, which is helpful since VT's scheme is from the same tree that Michigan State and Ohio State now run.
This was an evisceration. Stanford called 27 running plays and got 300 yards (8.6 YPC) from them. You can remove garbage time (optional since Harbaugh was still running his offense full-bore at 34-12) and it's still 182 yards on 22 carries, for 8.3 YPC. A lot of those were deep gashes—60 yards, 26 yards, 56 yards—which is what you'd expect against a defense that usually gives its safeties gap assignments. I'll show you how the first of those gashes was set up.
Step 1: Scissors.
The first play from scrimmage Stanford came out in a standard I-formation: inline fullback, tight end off the line. Anyone who's scouted Stanford would guess they're going to run their bread 'n butter play: Power-O. We've been over that one before: the backside guard pulls, everyone else has to pin defenders in their spots, and then that pulling guard and the fullback and the RB all come downhill at the MLB, and the resulting yardage is determined by the resulting collision.
Harbaugh showed it without running it with a clever counter that sold the defense on Power-O then had the FB reverse direction and head into the flat, where the rolling out Andrew Luck had essentially a vertical option play on the isolated DB (I labeled him the BCB but I think I got him and the FS confused on the diagram):
He ran a West Coast play from the shotgun on the ensuing 1st down, and then on 2nd and 4 tried to put a power run on the backside with a pass look:
This was blown up by the MLB shooting the gap abandoned by the pulling right guard. A third down pass attempt was blown up when a blitzer wasn't picked up.
[After the jump: how to make the defense eat rock.]
To participate: hop on twitter and @mgoblog me.