this may be of some local interest
On the roundtable this week:
- Craig's back!
- Spring football revelations and omens
- What to do with pending basketball coaching openings
- Red returns: y/n?
THE USUAL LINKS
Same. [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]
The Question: What was your biggest revelation from the spring?
Adam: The biggest thing the spring game did for me was ease lingering fears about two defensive position groups. The linebackers were almost universally question marks heading into the spring (unless you count the snaps we saw Ben Gedeon play last season) and they played well enough to quell concerns heading into the fall. I don't remember noticing Gedeon live or in the three or four times I've rewatched the game, which is passable for the Mike position; he also didn't get many snaps, which is indicative of how the staff feels about him. Mike McCray looked good in the spring game, while Devin Bush Jr. looked good in the open practice at Ford Field. Jabrill's gonna Jabrill at Sam; it's unfortunate that Noah Furbush was on crutches considering the hype he received from the coaching staff, but at least there's an excellent starting option at that spot.
Even though we've seen Delano Hill and Dymonte Thomas play quite a bit I was a little concerned about them, particularly Thomas taking over Wilson's free safety spot. Thomas lived up to the hype he'd received this spring whether he was jetting up to support the run or dropping and covering acres of space; his interception in the back of the end zone is a great example of what he can do with his athleticism. Thomas mentioned that he didn't feel like he hit his stride last season until he fully learned the playbook; it looks like he's learned this playbook very quickly. Tyree Kinnel looked like an excellent backup to Hill at SS, reading the field well and bumping receivers off routes regularly.
When I step back and take a 10,000-foot view of things, I find myself taking twisted joy in the things that cause hand wringing about the defense. Sure, some of the position switches on the defensive line are curious, and though I've written in this very space about trying Gary out at WDE (or End in Don Brown's defense) and keeping Wormley at SDE (or Anchor to Brown) it's fun to worry about how to best deploy an armory of Dudes who deserve significant snaps instead of whether there are any Dudes to be deployed. After the spring game, we know the latter isn't an issue for any defensive position group.
[Hit THE JUMP for more positive defense feels, Tyree Kinnel hype, quarterback reassurance, and a stunning reversal of course from Brian.]
The NCAA has banned satellite camps, because… [404 reason not found]. But it's done:
DI Council also approves rule requiring FBS camps and clinics be conducted on a school's campus or in regular facilities.
— NCAA (@NCAA) April 8, 2016
I have literally not seen a single peep in favor of this ruling anywhere public, from coaches to athletes to media members. A couple of reporters covering the SEC have related the private thoughts of coaches happy they can binge-watch Everybody Loves Raymond again, but ain't nobody coming out and waving the flag in favor of a rule change that literally only benefits people making 300k+.
This isn't going to have a major impact on Michigan, but it rankles because it is so transparently opposite the NCAA's claimed mission. If there's anyone who takes the NCAA's increasingly hilarious self-promotion seriously anymore, this should end that. It's a cartel of self-interested asshats operating under a veneer of virtue, because you can do astounding things as long as you have said veneer.
Meanwhile Jim Delany sits in a corner burbling about cable subscribers and counting his millions of dollars. What a country.
Additional thoughts will be introduced with an innovative bolded in-line title.
Q: SMSB? Over the past ten years, Sound Mind Sound Body has become a very large camp indeed, one featuring dozens of college coaches and four digits worth of athletes. Either the NCAA just bombed that camp hard or maybe there's a loophole. That loophole could be SMSB's charity nature. Coaches have been allowed there because they volunteer their time, IIRC, and the word choice in the ruling is specific:
SPORTS LAW HIVEMIND: Does the fact that this is "employed" and not "may not participate" mean what I think it does? pic.twitter.com/MpVJSaRRCX
— Bryan Mac (@Bry_Mac) April 8, 2016
If SMSB happens as planned then this is a non-ruling easily evaded. Michigan coaches can just go volunteer at the various SMSB-alikes that will proliferate like mushrooms after a rain.
If college coaches disappear then it's game over.
Ugh, work. This is simultaneously frustrating and very good for Michigan:
The SEC coaches I talked to were keeping their fingers crossed that satellite camps were outlawed. Just more work for everybody.
— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) April 8, 2016
Harbaugh is still working harder than your coach. Your coaches who are making six- and seven-figure salaries on the backs of unpaid labor. They are going to sit in a circle and go "LOL remember that time we stopped Harbaugh from working" as Harbaugh invents new ways to torture his enemies.
Hooray lawsuits! This is now very relevant. Jack Swarbrick, ND AD and law-talking guy, on the legal defensibility of the ban:
“The NCAA does not have a very good track record of limiting, without losing an antitrust lawsuit, economic opportunities for coaches,” Swarbrick said Tuesday at the College Football Playoff meetings. “So they should be treading very lightly. The perception is these are school opportunities. A lot of these are coach opportunities purely. Imagine a rule that said, as was introduced years ago, coaches couldn't do national televised advertising because it created a recruiting advantage. … I wouldn't want to defend those lawsuits.”
A 1999 lawsuit resulting from an NCAA rule that limited assistant coach salaries to 16k a year(!) was victorious, leading to the free-for-all you see today. It'll be tough to win that lawsuit if it does come. So we've got that going for us when this hypothetical trial wraps up a decade from now.
[HT: Carl Paulus]
Disappointed to read satellite camp news-better solutions than a ban- will hurt PSA's & Group of 5 schools. pic.twitter.com/fhmEDnn2ve
— Pat Fitzgerald (@coachfitz51) April 8, 2016
This is not a surgical strike. Via Steve Wiltfong, non-Power 5 coaches are of course upset:
The new ruling basically says mid-major programs aren't allowed to participate in camps not held on campus. For instance, MAC schools flock to Big Ten camps as say an Ohio State camp generally only has a handful of kids good enough to play for the Buckeyes but several that could play for Ball State, Kent State, Toledo or Western Michigan.
Two MAC coaches told 247Sports they weren't sure how this rule affects them. One said "shocking."
Given that I wonder how the hell this legislation even passed. All Group of Five schools should be against it. The Big Ten should be against it. Big chunks of the Big 12, Pac 12, and ACC should be against it. Not only is it transparently against the interests of athletes, it's transparently against the interests of most of D-I.
Good lord, Harbaugh. Perhaps the greatest tragedy in all of this is that we didn't have to clone Sam Webb and almost kill both of 'em:
247Sports is told Michigan had 30 camps lined up, they were going to split groups and sometimes do two a day. Stops would have included North Florida, South Florida, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Mississippi, Tennessee, Ohio, Maryland and Connecticut.
Jim Harbaugh is always himself at maximum volume. Gonna be some fun times in the near future, satellite camps or no.
I have heard your cries; it's time to catch up on the quasi-offseason's user-generated content.
What the… heck is that pic above? Markp (the p is for photoshop) decided to mock up the Big House with a couple of upper decks, and colored in the endzones themselves. I present without comment. For the record, Brian turned me around on the luxury boxes exactly ten years ago this week.
Every snap by QB. DGDestroys broke up every snap of the spring game by quarterback, because just being a good dude wasn’t enough to justify his existence on the planet and he just had to make himself ludicrously useful. I plan to Hennechart this. DGDestroys is your Diary Dude of the Week.
More Don Brown D: Space Coyote took issue with the assertion that Michigan's D was doing some Spartan D-like things, and went about discussing what Brown's Cover 2 concepts look like, i.e. why it's not really a base "Quarters". This is the upshot:
But at the end of the day, [Brown] is a "multiple" coach, which Michigan has almost always been dating back a long time. This, in and of itself, makes it very different than what MSU and OSU are doing.
The BC playbook that James Light made available that we're all pouring through does have a package called "Spartan" that does some of what MSU does (at right).
But that is page 144 of the playbook, i.e. just a thing they have to bring out against certain opponents or as a changeup, not the base thing. Brown's cover 2 is a kind of read, but it's not that kind of read.
This is all getting away from the more important distinction, which is that Michigan will line up their DL so the "Anchor" (strongside end) is outside the tackle. This widening the front to squeeze the LBs inside is an MSU characteristic too, though unrelated to the coverage system. One of the things it does is keeps the SAM clean so you can play a much lighter and quicker player there (e.g. Peppers). The tradeoff is your middle linebacker had better be good at thumpin' and getting off blocks.
Space Coyote is not your dude of the week, but he’s a Guy.
Worth discussion. Sharik followed up a diary about head injuries with various positive ideas for making football safer. Going to Rugby-style tackling rules and possession arrows for fumbles make paper sense, but it seems tougher to implement than making football men wear girdles, i.e. never going to happen. But making the equipment softer for the guy on the receiving end, especially helmets and shoulder pads, seems…plausible?
Changeup routes. Docwhoblocked went to Michigan’s recent coaching clinic and was moved to write up what he heard from, so far, three of the sessions he attended. Frank Beamer talked mostly about special teams. Art Briles was in there too but a lot of it was for coaches' ears and thus not that useful to you as a fan. But I found this bit interesting for the irony:
His offensive strategy: Tell the receivers to run as fast as they can and then tell the quarterback to throw it as far as he can.
Ironic because Smart Football last year wrote about how Briles's offense stretches the field diagonally by having receivers *not* run as fast as they can. The defense still has to cover the lollygaggers, which creates more space for whoever's streaking downfield, and sometimes get lulled to sleep by a trotting receiver who then turns on the jets. I bet Harbaugh starts using some lollygagging in his offense soon.
Doc also wrote up the Harbaugh, Harbaugh, and Harbaugh session.
[Hit the jump for a record hockey diaries]
Spring Game Fallout, Part I
The nation's top-ranked center, IMG-by-way-of-NJ four-star Cesar Ruiz, released an ordered top 12 following his visit that features Michigan in a tie at the top with Alabama and UNC. He gave his thoughts on M to TomVH:
“They have done a great job making me feel welcome every time I visit. Every time I’m there I feel home and they make me feel like a part of the family. I have a lot of old friends and old teammates that are going there and I would have an opportunity to play with them. Brad Hawkins and Ron Johnson were teammates and old friends like Rashan Gary, Ahmir Mitchell and Kareem Walker.”
A trip to Alabama is next on the docket. While Ruiz won't be an easy pull with his impressive offer sheet, Michigan has a lot of connections in their favor.
When we were put on commit watch notice over the weekend, many thought that three-star NJ ATH Markquese Bell would be one to drop. While that didn't come to fruition, it sounds like Michigan is ahead of the pack; Bell raved about his visit to Scout's Brian Dohn:
"Everything was great," said Bell, who plays at south Jersey's Bridgeton (N.J.) High. "It was my first time there. I just liked everything about the school. The spring game was awesome. The fans are electric. I wanted to put pads on and go play."
Michigan made a similarly strong first impression on four-star CA C Brett Neilon, who told TMI's Brice Marich he's looking to make a return trip:
Said Neilon, “it’s a place I could see myself at and will be a place I research and look at hard. Yeah, I will try to visit again.”
It'll be tough to pull Neilon out of California, but if a school manages to do it, Michigan looks like the one.
They may be in similar position with four-star NV CB Alex Perry, who told Marich his visit went "great," and Michigan will make his top list whenever he releases one. He plans to return for an official.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
What is this? Folks who cover the USMNT drop lists like this projecting the 23 guys who end up on the next World Cup team. I have appropriated it. Regarding the number of tickets: 22 starters on offense and defense + 2 kickers + nickelback + FLEX TE + H-back.
PACK YOUR BAGS
1. LB/CB/S/KR/PR/WR/RB/NICKEL Jabrill Peppers, So.* [Last time: 1]
Now 70% linebacker, 70% CB, 70% RB, 70% WR. Don Brown will have to kill you if he tells you all the things Michigan will do with him this fall. Don Brown knows where the bodies are buried, because he buried them. Peppers will ford the river Styx, ye. Knoweth thy doom approacheth when #5 appears in your peripheral vision.
2. CB Jourdan Lewis, Sr. [Last time: 2]
Barely played in the spring game because it's not like anyone needs to know if Jourdan Lewis can play after single-season PBU-record year. Goals for this year: be exactly like you were last year with better interception luck. Should repeat as All-American, but vagaries of CB stats may intervene there. Doesn't matter: will play like one.
3. C Mason Cole, Jr. [Last time: 3]
Move to center appears to be sticking, which is a natural fit for a guy smart enough to start as a true freshman and maybe not longhuge enough to be an elite edge protector. Only reason he wouldn't start at C is if Newsome can't hack LT yet and Kugler pushes through. Chances Cole isn't starting somewhere holding steady at 0.0%.
4. FLEX Jake Butt, Sr. [Last time: 4]
Inexplicably not a Mackey finalist despite athleticism, catching radius, and absolutely fantastic hands. Blocking just okay but far from a liability. Seriously how did this guy not win the Mackey? What are you even doing, Mackey? Are you playing Fallout 4 and randomly selecting guys your slacker brother suggests? Drugs are bad, mmmkay?
5. 3TECH Chris Wormley, Sr* [Last time: 6]
Spent most of spring playing three tech after junior season spent wrecking every tight end opponents foolishly tasked to block him. Not an elite pass rusher but highly effective in Michigan's stunt-heavy rush game a year ago. Should be all-conference easy and a mid-round NFL draft pick.
6. WR Amara Darboh, Sr* [Last time: 8]
Absence of Chesson this spring allowed Darboh to ease past Chesson in the pecking order per Harbaugh, not that it matters since both will get a ton of time, and they're very different players anyway. Still, Darboh adding some deep stuff to his extant game would make him a very hard player to check.
7. WR Jehu Chesson, Sr.* [Last time: 7]
Open deep all year and finally got on the same page with Rudock late for season-ending surge. Fast. Murderous blocker. Jet sweep maestro. Fast. Polite. Fast. Went from Stonum-ish to Breaston-ish to Manningham-ish over course of season. Huge year beckons if QB situation right.
8. K Kenny Allen, Sr.* [Last time: 9]
Early-season kicker worries dissipated as Allen went 14/18 on the year with one miss due to a bad snap and a second that got blown across the face of the uprights by a sudden gust of wind. Didn't hit anything particularly long, but had a bunch of touchbacks when he wanted to have touchbacks. Another year of reliability beckons.
9. FS Dymonte Thomas, Sr. [Last time: 10]
Spectacular spring game interception on which he flew from midfield to the very corner of the endzone demonstrates his promise. He is capable of crazy ball-hawk things Jarrod Wilson never was. Played very well down the stretch last year. Consistency might be a bugaboo, but so far all the signs are good ones.
10. SS Delano Hill, Sr. [Last time: 11]
Though Tyree Kinnel played pretty well in various open practices, Harbaugh flat-out stated that nobody was anywhere near the two starting safeties so here's Hill. Severe case of Greg Oden disease means he will look exactly the same age—42—for the next 50 years.
UNLESS SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENS
11. RB De'Veon Smith, Jr.* [Last time: 25]
Assumption in this space that Smith would get seriously challenged looks to be wrong, as Smith was shelved just like Lewis and Peppers types. He's the man, man. Consistent high-level praise for Ty Isaac, and Isaac's standout spring game, barely prevent Smith from moving to lock territory. But looks like we can ditch those fullback assertions for good.
12. ILB Ben Gedeon, Sr. [Last time: 12]
Harbaugh said all the right things about Gedeon this spring, invoking the word "stud"; Don Brown made him a Dude. Michigan's going to need that to be true since depth at linebacker is still alarming even after Mike McCray got off the cart. He's starting and probably not coming off the field, so here's to that being, like, good.
13. G Ben Braden, Sr.* [Last time: 14]
"Something strange" in the case of the 3 OL in a row here would be Kugler or Dawson or Ben Bredeson pushing through and Newsome being real good, thus moving Cole to one of these spots. That would be strange indeed, but it's not impossible. Braden's improvement track and general hugeness makes him the least likely to get yoinked.
14. T Erik Magnuson, Sr*. [Last time: 15]
Middling season as a tackle. Okay at run blocking but occasionally frustrating, especially on the second level. Pass protection generally good but, like Cole, struggled to cope with top-shelf rushers. Not going to be All Big Ten next year; difficult to see anyone supplanting him.
15. G Kyle Kalis, Sr* [Last time: 16]
Kalis has taken a ton of crap from insiders for inconsistency, to the point where Rivals repeatedly asserted Michigan would straight-up cut him(!!!) despite no football program in the history of the sport doing so with a returning starter at OL. He is highly variable, sure, but cumong man. Boom or bust, because if it clicks, it clicks.
16. SLOT Grant Perry, So. [Last time: 23]
Minus Darboh and Chesson in the spring game, Perry was clearly the most reliable and relied-upon wide receiver available to either team. Challenge could come from any number of freshmen, but they'll lose out for the same reason Perry was a nonentity until the bowl game. Receiver is not a freshman friendly spot.
Rashan Gary looms but Taco is going to start somewhere, whether that's SDE like he did this spring or WDE once Gary arrives and Glasgow returns and Don Brown just laughs and laughs and laughs. Charlton was too much for Grant Newsome to handle, and 5.5 sacks in under half of Michigan's snaps last year presages a big senior year. He's always had all the physical talent in the world and is thus one of the proverbial X-factors on this year's team.
FAIRLY SAFE BET
18. NT Ryan Glasgow, Sr.* [Last time: 5]
Massive drop due to resurgence of the Bryan Mone hypening. Glasgow hasn't taken snap one under Brown, whereas Mone impressed everyone, again. He'll have something to prove this fall. Still sticking with Glasgow because he was mini-Mike Martin last year, and if Mone beats that guy out I project Michigan's defense will end football as we know it. Because seriously this dude is a dude, dude. /donbrown'd
19. OT Grant Newsome, So. [Last time: 19]
Behold the rare OL redshirt burning that makes sense. Michigan is not wavering with its plan to insert Newsome at LT despite some struggles with Charlton and Winovich this spring. Michigan really needs him to come through because there's not much behind him, especially next year. Looks the part, at least.
With Michigan passing on a random Aussie (so far) it's Allen, not Peppers, who gets the first-ever dual nod on 27 Tickets. Allen was originally recruited as a punter and has displayed a booming leg on scattered opportunities so far. Won't be as precise as Blake O'Neill but should be able to flip the field on the regular like he did.
Burst out of injury purgatory in a major way in spring, emerging into clear top choice to start next to Gedeon. Big thumping dude with sufficient athleticism to replicate Desmond Morgan's decent coverage skills. Also the son of a former OSU captain, which says somethin' about somethin'.
Revelation of the spring and major reason Hill moved to fullback. Wheatley is enormous, shows great promise as a blocker, and had a one-handed stab that led to a 70-yard touchdown at the Ford Field practice. All talk of moving him to OT is dead and buried, because once you see Wheatley move that way at that size it's clear dude has got to run free.
IN A BATTLE
23. QB John O'Korn, Jr* [Last time: 18]
Sticking with O'Korn, but barely. Wilton Speight exits spring neck-and-neck with the Houston transfer, with his steadiness battling O'Korn's mobility and ability to flick 40-yard balls on the run. Speight might even be ahead by a nose right now, but O'Korn's upside and Harbaugh's ability to unlock QB upside suggests O'Korn will be in the passing lane by fall.
An "in stone" starter per Harbaugh after a breakout spring, but I just dunno man. Clark's junior year was highly promising and, like Glasgow, I have to see Stribling blow by in person before I believe it. If Stribling is significantly better than Clark was a year ago, Michigan's secondary is going to be absurd.
25. FB/H-back Khalid Hill, Jr.* [Last time: 24]
Hill gets the nod here over incumbent Henry Poggi but along with Bobby Henderson expect the three FB/HB types to split snaps extensively. Hill has the most upside as a receiver and has shown promise as a blocker; Poggi has more experience; Henderson is probably the best runner. Sometimes there's a man.
26. SAM Noah Furbush, So* [Last time: 27]
Furbush sticks since Peppers is the nickel even if he's a linebacker and Michigan will need a beefier guy for short yardage and the various manball teams on the schedule. Impressive work on STs caught Harbaugh's eye a year ago; Wangler and others will push. Expect a James Ross level of work here/
Winovich moved back to D from TE and started delivering on his Jake Ryan 2.0 hype. Now at 245, another 10 pounds by fall and he's a plausible option. Not as plausible an option as getting bumped down a notch on the two-deep by a DL depth chart that will veritably demand Charlton moves to WDE in fall, but until such time as that move happens Winovich holds on to the last spot.
TECHNICALLY NOT STARTERS BUT CLOSE
RB Drake Johnson—still Michigan's most explosive back.
RB Ty Isaac—spring revelation and Harbaugh praise after rough sophomore year; he'll factor in.
FB Henry Poggi—had some trouble IDing who he should block after move from DL. Should improve.
WR Moe Ways—Darboh analogue had a few catches, should be eased into more PT with an eye towards 2017.
TE Ian Bunting—Ol' Skillet Hands saw PT drop as season progressed, now breakout pick by many.
DE/DT Rashan Gary—heh
NT Bryan Mone—massive Tongan apparently third best player on last year's roster headed into the season? What?
3TECH Maurice Hurst—another reason to push Taco to WDE once the entire line is there in fall camp.
DE Matt Godin—if allowed to push out to SDE will be an effective backup for Wormley. If forced to play 3TECH, look out.
ILB Devin Bush Jr—early enrollee all but assured PT by depth chart.
CB Jeremy Clark—Richard Sherman size and solid junior year; will play a lot.
S Tyree Kinnel—showed promise in spring; M would like him to round into heir apparent.
PUSHING FROM BEHIND
QB Wilton Speight—[update: no, not transferring, in fact strong competition for the job]
RB Kareem Walker—okay he's not Fournette but let's not dismiss him out of hand because of a couple of recruiting ranking downgrades.
RB Karan Higdon—quick little guy had one nice carry and got swarmed a lot at LOS.
RB Kingston Davis—absolutely not a fullback
WR Drake Harris—still skinny as a rail.
WR Nate Johnson—mean-ass slot receiver, if that's a thing. Golden Tate is ceiling.
WR Kekoa Crawford—Hawaiian for smooth.
WR Eddie McDoom—MCDOOOOOOOOM
WR Ahmir Mitchell—early enrollee could move to S, needs work.
TE Devin Asiasi—plug-and-play inline TE has some depth chart hurdles to clear.
C Patrick Kugler—will be a redshirt junior; given performance this year could displace starter. Magnuson, Cole flexibility means that if he's best five he plays.
G David Dawson—stuck behind middling Gs a year ago, will get a shot.
ILB Elysee Mbem-Bosse—most field-ready of ILB freshmen outside of Bush.
CB David Long—program ambassador role starts now, CB starter in 2017?
CB LaVert Hill—Jourdan Lewis analogue in HS; will play with expectation of starting next year.
CB Brandon Watson—saw some nickel snaps when M was trying to save Peppers a bit.
WAITING THEIR TURN
QB Alex Malzone—not going to compete physically w/ O'Korn or Gentry but could develop into a Rudock type down the road.
QB Brandon Peters—true freshman impressed in spring.
QB Shane Morris—WR moonlighting in spring game not an outstanding sign.
FB Wyatt Shallman—now is the time to try his blocking out. Constantly hurt.
WR Brad Hawkins—another S candidate
TE Nick Eubanks—Funchess 2.0
TE Sean McKeon—Butt 2.0?
TE Zach Gentry—showed great promise after spring move to TE, but still too skinny to play now.
G Michael Onwenu—can play at incredible weight, but probably not 370.
T Ben Bredeson—Must pan out.
G Stephen Spanellis—road grader needs seasoning.
T Nolan Ulizio—late pickup last year hopes to build for 2017.
T Juwann Bushell-Beatty—late early for him
WDE Lawrence Marshall—ghost after enormous pile of spring hype.
WDE Ron Johnson—explosive edge rusher needs year of meat sauce
WDE Reuben Jones—needs weight.
SDE Shelton Johnson—probably has to cool his heels and put on more weight.
SDE Carlo Kemp—WEIGHT
NT Michael Dwumfour—Hurst-esque NT/3TECH needs polish, not so much weight.
CB Keith Washington—Breaston-esque HS QB competing at CB, coming off redshirt.