|Malzone. [photo: MI Prep Zone]|
Total Needs: 1
Commits: 1 (Alex Malzone – Bloomfield Hills (MI) Brother Rice)
Moving Forward: The Wolverines are all set at quarterback for the 2015 cycle.
Total Needs: 1-2
Top Candidates: Damien Harris – Berea (KY) Madison Southern, Mike Weber – Detroit (MI) Cass Tech
Honorable Mentions: Jacques Patrick – Orlando (FL) Timber Creek, Johnny Frasier – Princeton (NC) Princeton
Moving Forward: With the transfer addition of Ty Isaac the Wolverines will probably be satisfied with just one running back commitment in the class. If both Damien Harris and Mike Weber decide they’d like to be Wolverines, I’m sure the coaches would find a way to let it happen. That being said, neither of them are sure things and Michigan could end up landing neither. It appears that Weber has now become the top target while Harris may be leaning toward the Buckeyes. Either way, both have said that they will be in attendance for the BBQ at The Big House on July 27 which will be another huge recruiting event. Jacques Patrick and Johnny Frasier remain longshots at this point, but both are still being recruited by the staff.
Total Needs: 1-2
Top Candidates: Brian Cole – Saginaw (MI) Heritage
Honorable Mentions: George Campbell – Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake, Auden Tate – Tampa (FL) Wharton
Moving Forward: This position group worries me more than any other on the board. The staff has offered 11 wide receiver prospects. Four of them are committed elsewhere and outside of Brian Cole, the rest don’t seem to be very likely options. Cole is probably going to be an in-state battle between the Wolverines and Spartans and the upcoming season of each school could prove huge in his recruitment. George Campbell was once a Michigan commit but that seems like ancient history at this point. He’s likely to remain somewhere in Florida. Fellow Florida-native Auden Tate holds Michigan in high regard, but pulling skill players out of Florida has always been a tough task. I haven’t had direct communication with Tate so gauging his interest level is difficult. If Tate visits for the BBQ that will be an obvious move in the right direction.
|Clark: Committed to Power Words.|
Total Needs: 1
Commits: 1 (Chris Clark – Avon (CT) Avon Old Farms)
Top Candidates: Tyrone Wheatley Jr. – Buffalo (NY) Canisius
Honorable Mentions: N/A
Moving Forward: The Wolverines could very well be done at the tight end position. Chris Clark was a somewhat unexpected pleasant surprise, at least timing-wise, and with him in the fold landing another tight end isn’t a must. Tyrone Wheatley Jr. is a legacy offer and told me that he was definitely offered by Michigan as a tight end. That being said, he’s a pretty solid defensive end as well so if he decides he’d like to follow his dad’s footsteps to Ann Arbor, the coaches could give him a look on defense if they felt they were set at tight end. If Wheatley Jr. decides to commit elsewhere, it’s likely that the Wolverines won’t look at another tight end.
Total Needs: 2-3
Commits: 2 (Jon Runyan Jr. – Philadelphia (PA) St. Joseph’s, Grant Newsome – Trenton (NJ) The Lawrenceville School)
Top Candidates: Patrick Allen – Reistertown (MD) Franklin
Honorable Mentions: Drew Richmond – Memphis (TN) Memphis University School, Connor Williams – Coppell (TX) Coppell
Moving Forward: Solid recent recruiting classes have allowed the staff to build some much needed depth on the offensive line. The coaches have been able to secure verbal commitments from two offensive linemen in the 2015 class already and would take one more if he’s a big-time talent. The staff is currently content with Jon Runyan Jr. and Grant Newsome as the lone linemen commitments. Patrick Allen has a top four in order of Oklahoma, Ohio State, Georgia, and Michigan. I doubt Michigan can pass the other three, but by default he’s probably the most likely to become part of this class right now. Drew Richmond is one of the most coveted linemen in the country who has mentioned he’d like to see Michigan for himself, but with no plans to do so as of right now, he’s probably a pipe dream. Connor Williams compares to Richmond in terms of his Michigan interest and is also a longshot at best for the Wolverines.
Total Needs: 0
Moving Forward: Michigan does not appear to be taking a defensive tackle in this recruiting cycle. Solid recent recruiting at the position and a limited number of available scholarships in 2015 have allowed for this position to be a non-priority this time around. They’ve offered five prospects but two of them have committed elsewhere and the other three aren’t going to drop for the maize and blue.
Total Needs: 2
Top Candidates: Keisean Lucier-South – Orange (CA) Lutheran-Orange County, Darian Roseboro – Linconlton (NC) Lincolnton
Honorable Mentions: Kengera Daniel – Raleigh (NC) Millbrook, Jalen Bates –Kaplan (LA) Kaplan
Moving Forward: This position group has two of the more probable future Wolverines in it with Darian Roseboro and Keisean Lucier-South. Roseboro plans to attend the BBQ at the end of July and Lucier-South already has an official visit planned for the Penn State game. It wouldn’t surprise me if Roseboro pulled the trigger while at the BBQ. Lucier-South has tentative plans to commit on National Signing Day, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the environment during his official visit to Ann Arbor was enough to get him to commit. Kengera Daniel and Jalen Bates both also like Michigan quite a bit but are both a little lower down the board compared to Roseboro and Lucier-South.
Total Needs: 2
Commits: 1 (Darrin Kirkland Jr. – Indianapolis (IN) Lawrence Central)
Top Candidates: Asmar Bilal – Indianapolis (IN) Ben Davis, Tyriq Thompson – Detroit (MI) Detroit Martin Luther King, Joshua McMillon – Memphis (TN) Whitehaven
Honorable Mentions: Osa Masina – Salt Lake City (UT) Brighton
Moving Forward: Linebacker is quickly becoming Michigan’s deepest positional group on defense and the 2015 class could continue to build upon that. Darrin Kirkland Jr. is already in the fold and the staff continues to recruit several prospects who are very high on Michigan. Tyriq Thompson is the son of former Wolverine, Clarence Thompson, so he seems to be a very real possibility. Asmar Bilal is believed to be favoring Notre Dame but Michigan is right there for his services. Perhaps the biggest surprise among this group is Tennessee native Joshua McMillon. At nearly 250 lbs. he is massive for a high school linebacker but he has the athleticism to handle it. Our own Ace recently predicted that McMillon will commit to Michigan on 247’s Crystal Ball, citing Sam Webb’s recent optimism regarding McMillon’s comments about the Wolverines. Plucking McMillon from SEC country with a slew of SEC offers would be a big time get for the Michigan coaching staff. At one point Michigan seemed to be in pretty good shape with Osa Masina but recent developments indicate he might be staying closer to home.
|Lewis is loosely tied to Florida at them moment. |
Total Needs: 2-3
Commits: 2 (Tyree Kinnel – Dayton (OH) Wayne, Garrett Taylor – Richmond (VA) St. Christopher’s School)
Top Candidates: Mook Reynolds – Greensboro (NC) Northern Guilford, Marcus Lewis – Washington (DC) Gonzaga
Honorable Mentions: Iman Marshall – Long Beach (CA) Long Beach Poly, John Reid – Philadelphia (PA) St. Joseph’s
Moving Forward: With two very solid commitments already in the fold in the secondary, Michigan can afford to be picky with any additional targets. All four of the potential future members of the class are highly coveted and two of them are actually committed elsewhere right now. Mook Reynolds is currently committed to Virginia Tech but will check out Michigan for the BBQ, while Marcus Lewis is currently considered a Gator. Lewis also plans to check out Michigan in the near future, possibly for the BBQ as well. There isn’t a lot of news out there on John Reid and I haven’t had much contact with him but he’s still on the radar and Garrett Taylor told me that he’s been recruiting him. Iman Marshall’s father told me that they are quite interested in Michigan and hope to check out Ann Arbor if it can be worked out. He’s another highly touted prospect from California that seems to be genuinely interested in Michigan, but probably won’t leave the west coast.
Total Needs: 1
Commits: 1 (Andrew David – Massillon (OH) Washington)
Moving Forward: Michigan identified the need for a kicker, offered Andrew David, and he committed. There isn’t a need for any other special teamers in the 2015 cycle.
I’m going to predict that the 2015 class will be right around 16 members when it’s all said and done. As of right now there are only 4 remaining scholarships available but with inevitable attrition that number should go up to around 8 or so bringing the total to 16 for the class.
A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY THAT DOES NOT HAVE A WORLD CUP…
The goal of Draftageddon is to draft a team of Big Ten players that seems generally more impressive than that of your competitors. Along the way, we'll learn a lot of alarming things, like maybe Maryland is good? Full details are in the first post.
PREVIOUSLY ON DRAFTAGEDDON
- Everyone not grabbing dual-threat senior QBs grabs defensive linemen
- Seth takes Venric Mark in front of just about everyone
- Nothing terribly remarkable happens
- BISB takes all the guys I want
- A ridiculous amount of time is spent discussing the merits of one particular interior lineman from Rutgers
- WILDCARD TIME as Brian takes a quarterback despite already having a quarterback.
- Peppers drafted in WILDCARD TIME II.
THE CURRENT SITUATION
ROUND 15 - PICK 2: Dontre Wilson, SLOT/RB, Ohio State
O: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Ameer Abdullah (NE), WR Devin Funchess (U-M), SLOT Dontre Wilson, TE Maxx Williams (MN), LT Brandon Scherff (IA), LG Kaleb Johnson (RU), RT Tyler Marz (WI)
D: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), DE/DT Andre Monroe (MD), NT Darius Kilgo (MD), OLB Chi Chi Ariguzo (NW), OLB Matt Robinson (MD), CB Desmond King (IA), S John Lowdermilk (IA)
ST: KR/PR Ameer Adbullah (NE)
ACE: So here we are in the 15th round, and since Brian took Braxton Miller with the top overall pick, only two Ohio State offensive players have gone off the board: Devin Smith and Taylor Decker. This makes some sense, as the Buckeyes lost some significant playmakers from last season, namely Carlos Hyde and Philly Brown.
This also makes little sense, as we're talking about an Urban Meyer offense with Braxton Miller at quarterback. Somebody's due for a huge breakout year, and that someone is sophomore Dontre Wilson, whose role is expanding from change-of-pace-back/guy-who-catches-screens/decoy (or "USE NORFLEET LIKE THIS PLZ") to "replace Philly Brown and be like Percy Harvin":
“He’s a starting H,” Meyer said Tuesday. “He took (wide receiver Corey) ‘Philly’ Brown’s spot, so he’s a full-time receiver. We did take him today and put him in some backfield action. We use that term, (Seattle Seahawks wide receiver) Percy Harvin, very loosely, because there’s only probably one of him. But we’d like (it if) that hybrid position is really a key guy if we can do that … by far, Dontre’s the No. 1 spot.
Wilson is still learning the finer points of the receiving aspect, which is fine, because even if he doesn't catch a ball past the line of scrimmage, he's ... what's the term ... insanely f***ing explosive:
With Brown gone, as well as Jordan Hall—who moonlighted at H-back when not starting at RB during Carlos Hyde's suspension—Wilson is in line for a huge expansion in his role, and the Buckeye consensus is he's the closest thing to Harvin they've had since Meyer took over. Given his freshman numbers, that means he'll be piling up the yardage; he rushed for 250 yards and a TD on 31 carries (8.1 ypc) and caught 22 passes—almost all screens—for 210 yards (9.6 ypc) and two TDs. He routinely exploded into the secondary despite almost never going past the line of scrimmage without the ball in his hands.
Wilson's threat to turn innocuous plays into game-breaking ones also opened up the field for the rest of the Buckeye offense:
“I always joked around with my teammates and said, ‘I’m the Decoy of the Year,’ ” Wilson said. “Every time I do a fake or something, we scored.”
Ohio State scored on two different plays in the Orange Bowl that first faked to Wilson, a 33-yard touchdown run by quarterback Braxton Miller and a 57-yard touchdown strike to tight end Jeff Heuerman.
Wilson’s speed is so drastic, so imposing, that it has a way of freezing opponents. One step, Wilson proved, is all it takes to beat a defense to the edge and coast to the end zone. So when he went in motion, Clemson noticed.
Wilson is a former top-100 recruit with track star speed and solid freshman production in a very good offense that perfectly suits him; now he's in line for a major uptick in touches. How is this guy on the board six rounds after Shane Wynn was picked, exactly? Have we all been drunk? I think we've all been drunk.
ROUND 15 - PICK 3: Louis Trinca-Pasat, DT, Iowa
O: QB Devin Gardner (UM), RB Jeremy Langford (MSU) WR Kenny Bell (Neb), WR Shane Wynn (IU), OT Donovan Smith (PSU), OT Jack Conklin (MSU), C Austin Blythe (Iowa)
D: DT Louis Trinca-Pasat (Iowa), DE Joey Bosa (OSU), DE Noah Spence (OSU), LB Jake Ryan (UM), LB Mike Hull (PSU), CB Sojourn Shelton (Wisky), CB Jabrill Peppers (UM), S Kurtis Drummond (MSU)
BISB: Speaking of people who are being drafted way too far apart, let's look at Iowa's interior DL. Carl Davis went in the 2nd round, and had 42 tackles (11 solo) and 4 TFLs. Plus, 2.5 of those TFLs were against Michigan, which barely counts. Meanwhile, Iowa's other defensive tackle, Louis Trinca-Pasat, recorded 39 tackles (19 solo) and 9 TFLs. That wasn't a fluke, either; he had more tackles, solo tackles, and TFLs than Davis in 2012 as well. And he's still on the board in the 15th round.
LTP isn't high on the NFL draft boards because he's not a fantastic athlete (he's pretty uncomfortable-looking outside the tackle box) and doesn't have an NFL frame. He's 6'3" and 290 pounds unlike Davis's 6'5", 315. As such, he gets the usual Undersized White Defensive Tackle descriptors; he's a plugger, a lunch pail guy, a grinder, a gritty gritter who grits. I mean, he won the "Team Hustle Award" last year FFS. But he operates really well in close space, uses his hands well, maintains gap integrity, and doesn't get blown off the ball against double-teams. And he's productive. He can play the 3-tech, but his gritty grit style would allow him to line up over the nose and be an effective wrench in the gears of an offense, if not a thunderous backfield-wrecking disruptor.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Seth bets it all on Indiana.]
possible future employment?
The message boards have a good deal of speculation about Hoke's job security. At what point will Dave Brandon's job security come into question? A while back you outlined a number of failures during Brandon's tenure. To me, the fact that ticket sales are so slow, that even the students seem to have had enough of this BS, has to raise some eyebrows with people in power. Or is Brandon firmly entrenched as long as wants to be here?
As Brady said, "This is Michigan, fergodsakes." It's not feeling much like Michigan lately.
Class of '93
I don't think Brandon is particularly entrenched.
I've heard chatter that certain people in positions of power would be happy to see a change… a lot of chatter. But I've heard that chatter for over a year now, and predictions that Brandon would be replaced have come and gone. At this point I'm skeptical that the people are inclined to do much, or have the power to do so.
That said, Brandon's now in the same situation Rich Rodriguez (and big swathes of the department he replaced) was: his boss did not hire him, and his performance is in the range where replacing him wouldn't raise eyebrows. It's quite a trick to get the entire student body to hate you.
Gents of MGoBlog -
In these recent times of hardship for the football program, Dave Brandon has taken a lot of heat for his cardboard cutout marketing/branding efforts when it comes to the team and other University athletic programs. There seems to be a large and growing consensus of fans (at least on the MGoBoard) that point out every misstep they believe he makes - there have been quite a few dud ploys he and the AD have rolled out.
However, i'm curious to know if there are any decisions or moves he's made as AD that the MGoPolitburo or wider UofM community have received positively. Have any of the AD's ideas under his leadership had a direct positive impact on any or even one of the school's athletic programs? Whatever the case may be, who are some Athletic Directors who "get it" at their respective institution who you would like to see in charge at Michigan?
The main thing people point to in Brandon's favor is the pile of cash. I'm not that impressed, because you or I could have been appointed AD and sat there wibble-wobbling our lips and Michigan would have seen an enormous uptick in revenue. Brandon's first official day on the job was the UConn game when the luxury boxes opened. The Big Ten Network and the expiration of the Big Ten rights deal provided another large bump.
What revenue that is attributable to Brandon comes from piling a bunch of rights together and selling them in a pile to IMG and testing the outer limits of what people will pay for Michigan football tickets. That's good if you're running a public company and your stock options are about to vest, but there are indicators everywhere that the fanbase has finally been worn down. Brandon is chipping away at fan goodwill constantly, and I worry about the long term impact of the clear divide between big chunks of the fanbase (and all of the students) and Brandon.
Meanwhile, what do I care about the amount of money flowing into Michigan's pockets? It does me no good. It doesn't seem to do anyone any good. The Big Ten has been the nation's best money extraction device for some years now and they still end up hiring Tim Beckmann. Meanwhile, every athletic department in the Big Ten is trying to find ways to launder their piles of cash by plowing it into minor sports that hold the same interest for me no matter how well they're supported.
I do like the legends patches (if only they'd stop screwing with people's numbers), but the rest of the changes he's made to the Michigan gameday experience have been negative.
As for potential replacements, there are a couple of Michigan alums at prominent schools: Jeff Long is at Arkansas and Warde Manuel at UConn. Long got handed a poop sandwich when Bobby Petrino had his motorcycle sexytime accident, but recovered impressively by pirating Bret Bielema away from Wisconsin. Whatever your personal opinion of Bielema, that is a coup of a hire for a school like Arkansas. He was just named the chair of the CoFoPoff's selection committee, as well, so he's respected within the AD community.
Manuel hired Turner Gill at Buffalo, who briefly made Buffalo not the worst team in D-I, and then ended up hiring Kevin Ollie at UConn, though that was not much of a decision. Paul Pasqualoni was already in place when he was hired at UConn; he fired him and replaced him with ND DC Bob Diaco after taking a swing at MSU DC Pat Narduzzi. That may or may not work out but that process seems pretty sensible to me.
Importantly, both of these guys have experience in the job they'd have at Michigan.
Could you give odds/estimates on the likelihood of all six freshmen redshirting next year? At the end of the regular season we expected Doyle and probably Wilson to redshirt. Now they're both potentially heavy rotation players while two unheralded wing players signed up that may play key roles or may redshirt. Help us sort out the situation.
Doyle, Wilson, and Chatman are all going to play. I don't expect Hatch to. MAAR/Dawkins is where it gets interesting. Michigan has tried to redshirt guys who are young and need some polishing, but both MAAR and Dawkins are older than average freshmen. For MAAR that's just because he's older; for Dawkins it's because he took a prep year.
It would make sense for one to redshirt with Michigan looking at a small (one member?) 2015 class, but with the NBA attrition these days you might want to play both in an effort to see which guy can help you more down the stretch and prepare both to take over for LeVert and possibly Irvin. I'm guessing everyone plays.
There have been three high level recruits who have decommitted this recruiting season. My question relates to the bagman article mgoblog referred to a couple months back: is there a possibility that there are Michigan bagmen who disapprove Brady Hoke and have pulled their resources from high level recruits in an effort to more quickly dump Hoke? I realize there are many factors that play in, I just can't help but wonder after reading the bagman article.
No. While I imagine bagmen play into the recruitment of one of the guys who has decommitted, the situation there was more local guys getting involved with family members than anything Michigan did or did not do.
I don't know if Michigan actually has bagmen per se. It doesn't seem like their style, and it doesn't really seem like their style to remove support even if they do exist.
Occam's Razor suggests that the guys who have decommitted have done so because they saw last season's football team and are a little leery of signing on with a program that might be seeing a coaching change in the near future.
[After the JUMP: some soccer stuff.]
On my very first scouting assignment for MGoBlog, I witnessed the future—and, of course, was totally oblivious to this fact. As Farmington Hills Harrison blew out eventual state champs Cass Tech with surprising ease to open the 2011 season, I watched from my press box perch at Eastern Michigan while Eric snapped pictures from the sideline.
Devin Funchess ambled out wide, as he'd done for much of the evening. He faced off against Jourdan Lewis, at that time the #2 corner on Cass Tech behind future Wolverine Terry Richardson, who drew the seemingly tougher assignment against the focal point of the Harrison offense, future Michigan State receiver Aaron Burbridge. Lewis was a relative unknown, holding a lone offer from Toledo. Eric took the photo that graces the top of this post.
It's an absurd picture. There's Funchess, looking like a coat rack in shoulder pads, assembling his limbs into something approximating a wide receiver's stance. He dwarfs Lewis, who's got the same deer-legged awkwardness while wearing a jersey top that appears at least two sizes too large.
You'd be excused if you thought neither of these guys would make an impact at Michigan, just based on this photo. Funchess was too gangly for a tight end prospect. Lewis, while bigger than Richardson, still fit the mold of pint-sized Cass Tech corner, which was already becoming a dubious distinction.
Once each player came out of their pigeon-toed stances, however, a bright future was apparent. Funchess ran with an effortless glide, and in limited opportunities to make an impact, he did so in a way that foreshadowed a future at Not Tight End:
Funchess displayed great hands and concentration, making his first reception on a tipped pass, and he finished with three receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown by my count (I'm pretty sure the Detroit News recap omits his first catch). Unfortunately for those who missed the game, I was tweeting when Funchess recorded his touchdown catch, so you'll have to believe me when I say he ran a great route up the seam, plucked the ball out of the air, and showed nice speed getting into the end zone on the 31-yard scoring play. His other catch also came when he found a hole in the middle of the defense – from limited viewing, I like what I see in his route-running, hands, and athleticism.
My ability to process this information—and maintain a healthy skepticism of high school weight listings—exposed my inexperience:
On a side note, for those of you who think that Michigan should try to convert Funchess into a wide receiver, I don't see that happening – he already weighs around 215 pounds, and looks like he could easily add another 20-30 before he gets to Ann Arbor.
Funchess came to Michigan listed at 225 pounds in 2012, and that was a lie. He played tight end for the next season-and-a-half. He did so even though no Michigan coach in the history of Michigan coaches would've played him there if given a choice; still paper-thin and lacking refined technique, his blocking was bad enough that he called himself a "pretty boy" heading into his sophomore season.
By that time, though, he'd already shown what he'd become over the second half of his sophomore season. After Michigan's 2012 blowout of Illinois, Brian described the play that inspired the creation of one of the first two MGoGIFs to exist—before I even knew how to watermark them—as such:
My God, It's Made Of Funchess note of the week. From my vantage point in the stadium, I thought the play-action rollout that eventually turned into the Funchess touchdown had been defeated by coverage. I thought that Denard saw this too and was chunking the ball out of the endzone, which I was pleased with—WOO NO INTERCEPTION—as I saw the ball soar into the stands… at least the dance team… well past Devin Funchess's outstretched… oh.
Wow. Is that legal? Should I clap now? Is touchdown? Is touchdown. Clap. Smile.
We clapped. We smiled. We started listing Funchess as a "FLEX" before giving in entirely to the proper designation: Wide Receiver Devin Funchess. Now he's Top Returning Receiver In The Big Ten Devin Funchess. He runs fly routes past cornerbacks and over the top of safety help. Single cover him and the cornerback might as well not exist. Attempts to tackle him at the knees are not recommended.
Michigan has their tight end of the future, but it's not Funchess, it's Jake Butt. More tight end help is on the way. Meanwhile, the tight end of future past is now the next great Michigan wideout of the present, not to mention a potential first-round NFL draft pick. We saw this coming, but we didn't see this coming.
As for the high school junior who faced off against Funchess on that August evening in 2011, Jourdan Lewis picked up his coveted Michigan offer the following February, and a scant couple weeks later committed along with Cass Tech teammate David Dawson during that unforgettable eight-commit weekend. He's set to challenge for a starting cornerback spot in a loaded secondary this fall after showing flashes of serious potential as a freshman last season. On that loaded Cass Tech defense, which featured current U-M LB Royce Jenkins-Stone in addition to Richardson, he looked the best of them all:
Lewis, Cass Tech's other corner/wideout/returner, was their best player on the field on Saturday, in my opinion. The junior is listed by Rivals at 5'11", 170, and his size allows him to be much more physical – he had a couple big hits on both receivers and ballcarriers and was generally solid in his tackling, and he certainly wasn't afraid to step up and hit somebody. Lewis is not quite as fast or quick as Richardson, but he still has very good speed and agility and was able to show that off in all three phases of the game. Lewis had the best play of the night for Cass Tech's defense, coming up with a diving interception on their own goal line. He already has an offer from Toledo, and I expect he'll get offers from much more prominent programs – including Michigan – in the near future. He has the look of a BCS-level athlete and I like his potential as a bigger cornerback who can make plays against the pass or the run.
"Bigger cornerback," in this case, was relative to Richardson. That's my story, at least, and I'm sticking to it.
Lewis showed off that physicality this spring, when he looked like the cornerback best suited to Michigan's new emphasis on press coverage. Once again, he lined up often against Funchess. Once again, he more than held his own.
Funchess is already a star. Lewis looks like he's on his way. I wish I could say I knew this would happen, but there's Eric's picture, resplendent in its awkwardness, reminding me that potential is a hell of a thing to project.
Unrelated but never unrelated (h/t @smartfootball)
Ranking things is fun, or at least so BuzzFeed tries to tell me every freaking day of my life. And just like any prediction, rankings that attempt to predict the future are typically a fool’s errand. But we are fools, so ON WITH THE PREDICTING.
Trying to project year-to-year development in college football is tricky at best. But we can also try extrapolate by asking two relatively simple questions: (1) were they good at the thing last year, and (2) how many of the people who did the thing last year will be back this year?
The question of the day is this: which Big Ten team will have the best run defense in 2014?
Were they good last year?
This part is easy. There are many ways to break down how effective various run defenses were last year, and while none is perfect, together they give a pretty comprehensive picture. A few of the key measurements:
Yards per carry (sacks removed) - Pretty basic. When the opposing offense tried a run the ball, how far did they go?
YPC (w/o sacks)
Rushing Defensive S&P+ ranking – A fancy rejiggering of statistics based on outcomes for every running play a defense faces.
Rushing S&P+ (nat’l rank)
Adjusted Line Yards – A breakdown of yards per rush compared to what would be statistically expected, and then adjusted for level of competition.
Adj. Line Yards (nat’l rank)
And taking the Big Ten rankings for the various stats together, you get the following rough composite order. Being higher is better and being lower is worse (which you would have known anyway based on the teams at the top and bottom):
So 2013 defensive front performances look to shake out into a few tiers:
- Michigan State: They get a tier all their own. I probably don’t have to explain this.
- Pretty good: Rutgers, Iowa, Wisconsin, Penn State
- Meh: Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State
- Butt (Not Jake Butt): Northwestern, Nebraska, Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue, Illinois
How much do they return?
Answering the question "how many starters from the front seven return?" is a little trickier. Take Michigan for example: how many defensive starters did they lose? They lost Jibreel Black and Quinton Washington, but weren’t they kind of the same guy? Do you count that as two starters lost, or one? In a way, it doesn’t matter, as we’re just trying to get a sense for what various teams lost, not necessarily to quantify it. However, to give a very rough estimate of the kind of production everyone is losing, I included the percentage of the team’s total tackles accounted for by guys I deemed to be departing starters from the front seven.
Denicos Allen is gone. Clearly MSU will now be terrible.
The obvious caveats. The first is that tackles are an inexact proxy for quality. A mediocre inside linebacker will usually make more tackles than a top-flight defensive tackle (Nebraska LB David Santos made 87 tackles. Penn State DT DaQuan Jones made 56. Jones was first team All-B1G and a 4th round draft pick. Santos was terrible and was replaced by a freshman mid-season). However, we’re doing qualitative analysis with a quantitative kicker, not the reverse, so it’s helpful information that isn’t vital to our thesis. The second caveat is that the front seven aren’t the only people involved in run defense. Solid safety play is a big deal.
So, here’s where we are:
How good in 2013?
Returning starters (Front 7)
% of tackles by lost starters
|Penn State||Pretty good||5||16.8|
They run the gamut from returning everyone (Indiana) to returning no one (Wisconsin).
A pattern emerges
You may notice that the better defenses are the ones that lose more people. This makes intuitive sense; defenses with more seniors are, all things being equal, better. Of the four defenses we labeled as “MSU” or “Pretty Good,” three (MSU, Iowa, and Wisconsin) suffer serious losses, and I’d argue those were the three best run defenses last year.
So, who are the contenders for Best Run Defense for 2014?
Contenders based on returning talent
- 4.22 YPC
- #33 S&P+
- #45 Adj. LY
- 6 returning starters
Michigan returns all of the major pieces of a run defense that was fair-to-good. Other than getting shredded by OSU for 393 yards at 8.5 YPC, they didn’t surrender more than 170 yards or 5 YPC in any of their other games. Add a healthy Jake Ryan, and if the defensive tackle play is good Michigan looks primed for a big year.
There is no advanced stat that appropriately values “beat running back to death with quarterback”.
- 3.82 YPC
- #22 S&P+
- #31 Adj. LY
- 6 returning starters
I love a good Rutgers joke as much as anyone (you know what’s a good Rutgers joke? Rutgers), but they actually had a solid run defense last year. They had the third-best YPC average (albeit against weaker competition), and they have some solid talent in the front seven with Darius Hamilton, WLB Steve Longa, and MLB Kevin Snyder. Granted, the run defense might just look good because Rutgers’ pass defense is so unbelievably bad, but such is life in Piscataway.
- 4.54 YPC
- #42 S&P+
- #35 Adj. LY
- 7 returning starters
Like Rutgers, we like to make Maryland jokes, but the run defense was pretty solid, and they return their entire front seven. Darius Kilgo and Andre Monroe anchor their 3-4 defense and do an excellent job of keeping linebackers clean. If they can stay healthy (never a guarantee at Maryland these days), they will be very good again.
- 4.67 YPC
- #8 S&P+, #13 Adj. LY
- 5 returning starters
Much like Michigan, Penn State had one implosion of a defensive game (also against Ohio State) and generally held up very well otherwise. You may recall 27-for-27 as a thing that happened. They lose DaQuan Jones, but they return C.J. Olaniyan and Deion Barnes. If MLB Mike Hull can avoid that always-troubling 37th major injury, Penn State could contend for top honors, though depth remains a concern.
Penn State reacted well to subtlety
Contenders based on history
- 3.61 YPC
- #2 S&P+
- #2 Adj. LY.
- 3 returning starters
State lost both starting defensive tackles, uber-productive (and TOTALLY NOT SUSPICIOUS IN ANY WAY) MIKE Max Bullough, and Denicos Allen. But I’m not an idiot, and the last thing I’m going to declare is that Michigan State will be taking some giant step back. The internet remembers such stupid declarations and revisits them. In the last 6 years, MSU’s rushing defense S&P+ rating (in chronological order) was #28, #23, #31, #5, #2, and #2. They have finished as the best rushing defense (in terms of YPC) in the Big Ten the last three years. Shilique Calhoun isn’t a great run-defender, but Marcus Rush and Taiwan Jones are pretty good, and… yeah. Again. Not an idiot.
- 4.07 YPC
- #7 S&P+
- #14 Adj. LY
- 3 returning starters
Iowa loses their entire linebacking corp, along with their 322 combined tackles. The remaining linebackers on the roster had 29 tackles last year. Combined. Howeverm Iowa returns almost all of the best defensive lines in the conference, including two of the best defensive tackles in Carl Davis and Louis Trinca-Pasat. Iowa’s worst defensive rushing performance in the last six years was roughly on par with Michigan’s performance last year, and they have been a top-30 rushing defense almost every year. Ferentz has zombie powers, so it could happen.
- 3.80 YPC
- #9 S&P+
- #17 Adj. LY
- 0 returning starters
The 2013 Wisconsin Badgers had a very good starting front seven. But so did the ’85 Bears. And those two groups have something in common: none of them will be lining up for Wisconsin in 2014. The Badgers didn’t just lose nominal starters, either: Chris Borland alone accounted for an estimated 793 tackles per game. They return SOME production along the DL in Konrad Zagzebski and Warren Herring, but this is almost entirely a reclamation job. Wisconsin doesn’t have a history of dominant rush defenses either; their average S&P+ rush defense form 2008-2012 was #33 in the country, and their average Big Ten rank in YPC over that time was a shade better than 6th in the conference. Unless Gary Andersen is a wizard of some kind, regression beckons.
Hey, look, it’s Wisconsin’s front seven.
- 4.60 YPC
- #84 S&P+
- #88 Adj. LY
- 5 returning starters
Nebraska has the opposite problem Wisconsin had. The Huskers bring almost everyone back, but the guys they bring back weren’t very good last year. Nebraska was really good at getting to the QB last year (2nd only to OSU), which combined with a soft schedule to make their raw yards-per-carry numbers look somewhat decent. But remove those sacks or take anything other than a surface glance, and Nebraska wasn’t good on the ground. Randy Gregory is a hell of a pass rusher, but he’s not great against the run. It’s unlikely Nebraska will be in the conversation at the end of the year.
- 5.90 YPC
- #75 S&P+
- #49 Adj. LY
- 6 returning starters
Hey, they return a lot of guys. Lloyd Christmas dot jpg.
Not even pretending
Teams that weren’t good last year and have to replace significant portions of those not-good defenses
- 4.83 YPC
- #57 S&P+
- #77 Adj. LY
- 4 returning starters
Remember when they were ranked last year?
- 5.03 YPC
- #79 S&P+
- #58 Adj. LY
- 4 returning starters
Thieran Cochran is good. The rest of Minnesota is not good.
- 5.60 YPC
- 76 S&P+
- #79 Adj. LY
- 3 returning starters
- 5.93 YPC
- #83 S&P+
- #62 Adj. LY
- 4 returning starters
Gave up over 250 yards in 7 different games. Only held one power conference team under 4 YPC. Gave up 29 rushing TDs. Was bad.
My answer is ‘I don’t have the first damn clue’
- 4.29 YPC
- #58 S&P+
- #96 (!!!) Adj. LY
- 6 returning starters
They had a good YPC average, but the advanced statistics say they were somewhere between bad and abysmal. They only lose one starter, but that starter (Ryan Shazier) made 144 tackles and 23.5 tackles for loss. They return theoretically one of the best lines on the country, but how good can it be if it was so bad against the run last year? I am perplexed.
Strictures require that I take a guess
My monkey-choosing-mutual-funds stab at the 2014 sack-free YPC rankings:
- Michigan State
- Penn State
- Ohio State
Well now that's over and we can think about… oh. I can't believe I got a bunch of people going "but I want to talk about football" in this offseason of all offseasons. Happy now?
Anyway, as a result of my quadrennial case of World Cup fever some of these links are a bit old. You have been warned.
The best thing to come out of the Big Ten expansion.
- OREBs are gradually declining as more teams abandon the boards for better transition defense (probably).
- Layups get OREB'd slightly more than 40% of the time, with jumpers and threes OREB'd slightly more than 30% of the time. Threes are least likely to get OREB'd, so don't let those long bouncers back out fool you.
- Anything that gets blocked and stays in play is about 32% to be OREB'd.
Offensive rebounds are more likely as the game goes on, which is a pretty weird finding to me but there it is. The late surge makes sense since trailing teams will go all out and damn the transition torpedoes, but the rest of it is a bit weird.
And yet it moves. A palpable cut for one Jalen Coleman. This is not a drill (nor is it, like, something that is new, but I was waiting for more basketball recruiting news that did not appear):
Coleman, a 6-foot-3 guard from La Lumiere High School in La Porte, Ind., will choose between Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Notre Dame, UNLV and NC State, according to Scout.com recruiting analyst Brian Snow.
Notre Dame, oddly, is rumored to be Michigan's main competition. They do have proximity and (probable) playing time, but they haven't exactly been Beilein-standard during the interminable Mike Brey era.
Kings draftin' Stauskas.
Yeah, probably. Gary Parrish asks a question about Beilein:
Is John Beilein the best at turning lowly recruits into lottery picks?
Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas both shot into the lottery after being in the 70s or 80s as recruits… just wait until next year, when Caris LeVert probably adds his name in there somewhere. Parrish's trump card:
Of the 20 players selected in the top 10 of the past two NBA Drafts, 18 were former top 75 prospects and/or players who spent at least three seasons in college. The only exceptions? Burke and Stauskas -- both of whom enrolled at Michigan as unheralded recruits, earned Big Ten Player of the Year honors as sophomores, turned pro and were selected in the top 10 of the subsequent NBA Draft.
Bonkers, man. This is such a smart quote in re: how:
"We try to project whether a player is on the rise or if he's already where he's gonna be," Beilein said. "A lot of the [analysts'] early projections on players, I think, are made because the players' bodies are ahead of everybody else's bodies. And if you saw Nik or Caris, back when they were 16 years old, their bodies weren't ahead of anybody else's bodies."
Not that projecting based on bodies is necessarily a bad strategy—it seems to be working just fine for, uh, everybody. But when you're trying to assemble a starting five that's ten picks away from being all first-rounders and you don't have the recent pedigree of the Dukes and the Kentuckies, it is (obviously) a rather good idea.
Okay okay one more quote:
"Lots of coaches work on shooting with players, but Beilein teaches guys how to shoot," an NBA executive told me. "He doesn't just work with them. He actually teaches them."
Let's talk about hockey. Over The Boards lists the top 15 college guys for next year's draft, featuring three guys committed to Michigan at numbers 4, 5, and 6. Or mostly committed, in Zach Werenski's case. Nick Boka:
4. 97 D Nick Boka – NTDP U18 – Michigan
The Michigan recruit has an aggressive, athletic upside that could come on very strong in his draft year. Wins battles in the tough areas of the ice and can provide puck support. We like Werenski’s total skillset more right now, but Boka could easily emerge as the best American talent on the blue line in this draft behind Hanifin.
The top nine guys are all headed to Michigan, BC, or BU, FWIW.
This is appalling. National Football Post puts up a thing about NFL talent with a boggling Michigan thing. This is the second half of the chart running down the top 37 producers of NFL talent in the league, as ordered by 2013 player starts. Michigan's cliff is insane:
Nutshell, meet Michigan's barely over .500 record since Bo's death. It's not quite that bad in real life, as a combination of circumstances reduced Michigan's number to the "Stanford before 2009" number you see above. Actually, it's just one circumstance: Stevie Brown getting knocked out with an injury.
Your top overall pre-2009 producers:
- Miami (That Miami)
- Florida State
Michigan is dead last since, amongst this sample. NOW ARE YOU HAPPY TO TALK ABOUT FOOTBALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL /rock musik
All right, sir, you have my attention. MmmgobluBBQ, a Michigan-themed grill/tailgate/BBQ blog exists, and… yes sir, I subscribe.
That… is beautiful, and then you realize that the onion ring there is bacon-wrapped.
Let's not do this. Michigan went over its travel budget for the bowl game by just over 100k, causing assertions that Michigan took a loss on the thing. That is not accurate, as even the article states:
Ultimately, the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl left U-M roughly $132,000 in the red. …
U-M's loss of $132,000 does not include revenue brought in from the Big Ten's shared bowl revenue plan, which splits all Big Ten bowl revenue among the conference's 12 teams.
So, not in the red. Just slightly over the Big Ten's travel allotment.
Etc. Don't click this box score unless you want to be reminded of last year. Stop taking pictures of yourself, twits. I BLAME YOU ELLEN. Don't use a null hypothesis when that's not sensible. Contains subtweet shade thrown at David Berri (the "salaries don't predict wins" bit). Nussmeier talks with Bruce Feldman.