finally people are complaining about us
[For the new, this is our weekly roundtable that hasn't been weekly]
Harbaugh, upon being asked if he's too Harbaugh to Harbaugh.
Ace: Given the current roster, the schedule, and Harbaugh, what are reasonable expectations for 2015?
Seth: If they do indeed hang on to everybody, particularly Mattison, I think we're looking at a season that starts rough and ends strong. The defense trades Frank Clark and Jake Ryan for another year on everyone else, plus Desmond Morgan and Jabrill Peppers back from injury. They could be awesome. I'm a bit worried about staff gelling—Mattison is as close to a Hanlon assistant as you can get, but he's not going to take a Fred Jackson/emeritus role, and I won't be comfortable until I'm reading stuff about how he and Durkin are best buds having suds.
|Luck, yeah, but Harbaugh also was hot after RGIII as a recruit. Guy can spot 'em; can he make them is the more immediate question. [photo: getty via SF Examiner]|
On offense I am biased against offensive line coaches who become OCs because DeBord/Terry Malone/Les Miles have convinced me that on the conceptual spectrum of cleverness to manliness they tend to be "execution and toughness" extremists. But as long as Harbaugh's there contributing his special brand of messing with defenses, Drevno can preach the Tao of ass-kicking to his heart's content.
Michigan's biggest question mark is whether their talented but heretofore totally lost quarterback can be fixed in an offseason. That I don't know the answer to, but Harbaugh's on any short list of quarterback gurus who might pull it off.
Harbaugh's offensive leaps are tough to track because he inherited horrible teams at Stanford and San Diego, then rebuilt with his dudes. So the one relevant data point, and indeed all hope for a speedy recovery, is San Francisco. Remember Harbaugh took over in the lockout season so he (and the rest of the league) had barely more than collegiate time to prepare their teams. He then took them to 13-3, in the process turning Alex Smith from a brooding disappointment, to a team leader and efficient guy who doesn't turn it over.
I was already starting to get bullish on the offensive line by OSU. Whether they keep the zone or just parts of it, Michigan has, and paid dearly for, six to seven guys with extensive starting experience, most of whom are due for that big So. to Jr. leap. There are enough bullets in the RB and WR chambers that somethings will hit the target.
Dave Brandon's lasting legacy will be the even-odd schedule dichotomy, but that works out for 2015 at least. With MSU and OSU at home and a manageable Big Ten road schedule there are a lot of ways for Michigan to finish strong next season. Oregon State and maybe Utah will have new coaches (the Utes at least lost their top staff) so who knows what shape any of those teams will be in. BYU should be decent; that offense scares me, especially since several freshmen displaced senior multi-year starters (and ripped Texas 41-7) this year. Expectations are centered on Gator, or whatever 4th place in the Big Ten is these days, but I'm optimistic for a rivalry win and a Citrus Bowl where we wipe some overrated SEC team.
[Jump for Dave Nasternak's long-winded debut]
HARBAUGH HARBAUGH HARBAUGH HARBAUGH.
There. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s break down a mid-season tournament win that featured an impressive victory over Michigan Tech and about what you’d expect against Michigan State.
Michigan v. Michigan Tech 12/28/14
UM 1 MTU 0 EV 06:28 Martin (2) from Hyman (11) and De Jong (4)
Hyman has the puck along the boards, and that causes Sturos (#7) to come down and make a futile attempt to take away the passing lane. He’s far too late, and Hyman easily gets a cross-ice pass off to Martin. The pass gets Tech’s defense skating, as no one’s covering Martin. In fact, no one’s really in position to do so, either. You can see that they have a box-plus-one, and the one is the aforementioned Sturos, who’s now on the wrong side of the ice.
Martin’s shot is going to end up going over the blocker of Tech’s Jamie Phillips, and it’s something that can best be described as a seeing-eye shot. If you look at the black box in front of the goalie, there’s not even a Michigan player in front to screen. This is a shot that just beats the goaltender; I don’t think the Tech defenders acted as screeners either.
UM 1 MTU 1 EV 10:28 Gould from Petan and Kero
Tech moves the puck down the boards and into the corner. Michigan has Downing in front, and he’s smart to not jump in and help but instead stay in front of the net. As you can see, there’s a Tech skater who’s unaccounted for who’s going to play an important part in just a moment, one which will necessitate a defender in front.
Kero (#10) makes an incredible pass from the corner to the trailing man in the faceoff circle. Petan gets the puck and fakes a shot, which causes Downing to drop to a knee in an attempt to block. Petan’s shot fake is superb, and the pass to Gould is perfect. I really can’t blame Downing for trying to block here, because he had about a tenth of a second to decide whether it was a shot or a pass and Petan executed flawlessly.
Racine tries to push across the crease to square with Gould, and in doing so he opens up the five-hole. Gould’s shot is low and just barely clips Racine’s right leg pad, deflecting down and in.
[More after THE JUMP]
Here's some water-is-wet reporting: a couple of solid sources indicate that USC offensive line coach and running game coordinator Tim Drevno will be named Michigan's offensive coordinator in the near future.
I am happy for Coach Drev and wish him luck with his new job because he deserves it. He has a great opportunity. I love that guy.
— Zach Banner (@zachbanner73) December 31, 2014
Drevno's history as an OL coach is unquestionably excellent, and he was Harbaugh's offensive coordinator at San Diego.
FWIW, Michigan was high on GA OL Chuma Edoga's list early in his recruitment; he's now a USC recruit.
You'd be excused—well, a little bit, at least—if you didn't sit through the nearly 40-minute-long Jim Harbaugh introductory presser. Adam already transcribed the entire thing, but if your attention span isn't cooperating, I've clipped a handful of the best moments from the most lighthearted presser in recent memory.
UNLIKE WHAT A CERTAIN FORMER ATHLETIC DIRECTOR WOULD HAVE YOU BELIEVE, YOU ONLY GET ONE
The look on Harbaugh's face as he's asked about his "firey personality" is priceless.
Great job, kid who stalked me through an airport.
(Alejandro, who does really excellent work for both the Daily and UMHoops, has made the requisite changes to his Twitter bio.)
[Hit THE JUMP to see if anybody's got it better than us.]
no jerkin' Durkin around
DURKIN SEEMS IN. 247 reports that Durkin has turned down an offer to be UNC's DC and will almost certainly be announced at Michigan in the near future. This is not really news—Durkin's name has been rumored for two weeks now—but it seems likely he's announced ASAP here and starts pounding the recruiting trail. There are reports he's already talking to recruits about coming up to Ann Arbor.
We'll have to wait a few days for it to be official since Durkin is Florida's interim head coach and the Birmingham Bowl is on January 3rd. But that appears to be done-done-done.
MARROW DEFINITELY IN PLAY. Depending on who you listen to, Kentucky TE coach Vince Marrow is either not about to leave Mark Stoops…
Per source, Mark Stoops does not believe he's losing Vince Marrow to Michigan. The two are very close and Marrow is UK's recruiting ace.
— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) December 31, 2014
One of the first assistant dominoes may fall within the next 24 to 48 hours, as Kentucky tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow has been contacted by Michigan and would take a job with the staff if offered one.
Either way it seems likely that chatter about Michigan going after him is accurate.
MICHIGAN MEN OR HARBAUGH HOMBRES? FWIW, soon-to-recommit TE Chris Clark:
Clark said he got the impression Harbaugh's staff will be made up mainly of ex-Stanford and 49er staffers.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) December 31, 2014
That's good news for current 49ers, less so for Erik Campbell and Jeff Hecklinski. Exactly who these guys might be is still murky—Harbaugh has a lot of affiliates after his days at San Francisco and Stanford.
INCOMING GOOD IDEAS. The Sacramento Bee threw out a couple of new names:
Several of his long-time allies, including 49ers receivers coach John Morton and Tim Drevno, a former 49ers offensive line coach who last season was at USC, are believed to be joining him in Ann Arbor.
John Morton is currently the Niners WR coach; before that he had a number of roles with USC. He started as a WR coach, added "passing game coordinator" for a couple years, became the bonafide OC when Steve Sarkisian took the Washington job, and then went back to position coaching when Lane Kiffin came in. He was a WR coach a few places before that. He's a Michigan native who went to Western.
remember mapquest you guys
Tim Drevno is USC's OL coach. Drevno is a longtime Har-pal, having coached under him at San Diego, Stanford, and with the 49ers. Drevno was the OL coach for Stanford's two excellent Harbaugh offenses, forging the ass-kicking OL that Stanford came to be known for over the past half-dozen years. At San Francisco, 2012 saw all five(!) 49ers OL selected for the Pro Bowl. His line at USC last year featured three true freshmen and zero seniors; while they did give up a butt-ton of sacks USC's main back hit almost 1500 yards this year at 5.4 a pop.
Drevno was awarded the title of running game coordinator at USC, part of his reason for moving on and may require a similar title at Michigan. If Michigan is offering the same title that might close the door on Ty Wheatley some since it's been reported he wants to move up in the ranks if he's going to come back to Michigan.
A final cherry on top of this potential hire is that Drevno called USC his dream job less than twelve months ago.
WHEATLEY? The Bills are ominously "evaluating" all their assistants. If Wheatley gets pushed out of there you might as well put him in pen in Ann Arbor.
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR? Henson says Greg Roman, his current OC with the 49ers. That would make sense. Guy needs a job, knows Harbaugh well, etc. Not sure if that's happening-happening or just a guy who looks like a likely fit. Roman has been exclusively an NFL guy save for a single year in HS and two years with Stanford as the TE/OT coach, also during Stanford's nascent ass-kicking phase.
Roman is in contention for the Bucs' OC job and there's been chatter that he actually prefers the NFL, unlike Harbaugh. His coaching history suggests that. One thing that's not happening: sticking around the 49ers.
WHAT IT MIGHT LOOK LIKE
A guess at the moment:
|OC||Greg Roman||low||DC||DJ Durkin||lock|
|RB||Ty Wheatley||maybe||LB||Greg Mattison||probable|
|WR||John Morton||probable||DE/OLB||Roy Manning||low|
|OL||Tim Drevno||maybe||DB||Greg Jackson||none|
|TE||Vince Marrow||maybe||Spec. Teams||N/A||none|
OTHERS IN PLAY: Erik Campbell (WR), Jerry Montgomery(DL), Andy Moeller(OL), Fred Jackson(RB), Mike Hart(RB).
One problem with this alignment: it only has four defensive coaches. There are five on offense plus Harbaugh. If both Morton and Drevno do come I think that might mean Marrow is staying at Kentucky.
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.