chance of bowl: 13.6%
The Buckeyes hope former 5-star Vonn Bell (#11), a sophomore, is an upgrade at safety.
While we're busy poring over every morsel of news coming out of Michigan's fall camp, the rest of the country is hard at work as well, and that includes our rivals in Columbus. To get a gauge on where Ohio State stands just a couple weeks away from their opener against Navy, I chatted with Eleven Warriors senior writer Michael Citro, who was kind enough to answer my questions about the Buckeye D-line hype, the team's biggest question marks, injury concerns, and more. (If you'd like to see 11W's season preview of Michigan, to which I made a few contributions, click here.)
First off, I have to ask—what the hell happened to the defense against Michigan?
Wait, what defense? Was defense played in that game?
Ohio State’s D had been leaky and suspect most of the season, and that only got worse after safety Christian Bryant’s injury at the end of the Wisconsin game. The front four (plus Ryan Shazier) was able to mask it for a while. The problems were systemic—bad communication aggravating an already passive zone concept. Against Michigan it was exacerbated by some poor tackling that we saw early in the season making an unwelcome return. If you let Devin Funchess jump over you, you're not form tackling. (You're welcome for me setting you up to run a gif or photo of it here.)
Along those lines (I assume), what changes do you expect to see on the defense now that Chris Ash is on the staff?
Ash, along with Meyer and Fickell, have instituted a more aggressive system with a philosophy of challenging every throw. You’ll see the cornerbacks pressing more as a result. Also, for no reason known to man, the cornerbacks and safeties met separately under the Everett Withers co-defensive coordinatorship. That has been changed and Kerry Coombs’ corners are meeting with Ash’s safeties and the entire defense is supposedly on the same page now. I’m optimistic, but we’ll see. I'm excited to see more Vonn Bell this year.
Do you think the defensive line will live up to the hype? There's obviously oodles of talent and pass-rushing ability, but they seemed to struggle a little against the run, something the advanced metrics indicate as well.
The defensive line should be very good, especially when Noah Spence returns from his suspension—and the players should stay fresher with the Larry Johnson Sr. plan of rotating more bodies into the game. The group is deep enough to handle a lot more rotating now and the players seem to be buying into the philosophy. Guys like Tyquan Lewis and Rashad Frazier (a Purdue transfer) are demanding playing time with their performances. Ohio State didn't handle broken play runs well in the latter stages of the season. I haven’t checked the metrics, but aside from Michigan State, it didn't seem like opposing tailbacks were that much of an issue. Nimble quarterbacks were much more of a problem and the linebackers were also pretty culpable there.
[Hit THE JUMP to learn about OSU's current injury situation, surprisingly shaky O-line outlook, which players they expect to break out this year, and more.]
News bullets and other items:
- Jabrill Peppers at corner looks like it’s happening. For now he’s at nickel, but all evidence points to him eventually usurping one of the corner’s spots.
- Boo-boo watch: Kyle Kalis [back] and Ty Isaac [stinger] should be back Monday
- Derrick Green was the #1 running back heading into the scrimmage
- Expect to see lots of two (or more) tight end sets from the offense this season. /sighs
- Hoke was again impressed by Mason Cole
- The defense is ahead of the offense, which Hoke says is typically the case
- Starters on both sides of the ball should be figured out by Wednesday or Thursday
- Brady Hoke “Well, …” count: 11
"Number one, thanks for coming out. Thought it was a good atmosphere for our team to be in front of, environment, I think that's important. We probably went a little longer than I thought we would but I knew my math and plays and play count, I knew we'd go a little over and I think we did. There were some negative plays in there that we've got to still clean up. Some of it is up front and I really think some of it today- we've got to have better vision in the back and so from that standpoint offensively. From a defensive standpoint I thought they got after it. Too many penalties. The PI rules are going to be called, probably, a little closer in this league. We had a little bit too much, where a guy got grabbed too much or didn't move his feet well enough, those kind of things. But that's why you do what we did. Some negative plays with some penalties breaks your rhythm a little bit and you don't like that but we need to coach off of it, teach off of it, educate off of it and keep working forward. Can't complain about what these guys have done to this point, and we know we've got two weeks. This will be good to learn from for everybody and we'll start really focusing in Wednesday with Appalachian State."
You mentioned just getting them out there and getting them reps. How big do you think it is just for the freshman? They see the environment, they're here, was that kind of the main...
"Well, that's important. Then there are guys who are redshirt freshman or third-year sophomores who haven't played a lot but to get out, come down the tunnel – most of those guys, the only time they've been down the tunnel was on their visit or for games when they came as visitors and so going out there with that winged helmet on, going out there to have a big stake in what we're trying to get done I think is pretty significant. I think that helps."
Defense seemed to get the better of the offense in the running game. Have you seen more progress in the running game then we saw tonight?
"Yeah, yeah. The other night we ran the ball pretty well. Again, you can't play well one Saturday and not as well the next so there's another lesson of consistency there. Yeah, the defense I thought – and to be honest with you, they should. There's more veterans over there, more guys with game experience. I think defense always, to some degree, gets always a little ahead of the offense and it's been like that forever but we need to catch up offensively pretty fast."
You mentioned the vision of the backs you want improved but offensive line-wise, can you think of anything that's kind of keeping them from turning a corner?
"No, I don't think you can pinpoint anything particular. You've got to play with good leverage, you've got to be positive with your footwork, your hips have got to get down the field, and you've got to face blocks. I mean, it sounds easy but when you've got a defense that- we move a lot, we blitz a lot, it puts a little more pressure on them."
You mentioned on Sunday your primary depth chart at running back at that point without [Justice] Hayes. How's he been doing out there or how'd he do this week?
"Well, I think he's had a good week. Again, I don't know if any of them tonight in my opinion – again, this is without watching the tape but I think we've got to keep improving there and keep seeing things a little better."
You have two weeks to go. Your level of concern with the offensive line and the running game?
"Well, let me say this. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't concerned about all of our football team. You know, that's just being a coach. Do we need to improve still? There's no question about it. I think the running game, like I said, the other day we ran the ball pretty well."
[After THE JUMP: evaluations of the running backs, secondary, and more, and all the Jabrill Peppers talk that’s probably the reason you’re reading this in the first place]
The men's basketball team defeated the Perugia Select Team, 99-60, in the opening game of their Italy exhibition tour. Zak Irvin led the way with 27 points on 10/13 (5/8 2PT, 5/5 3PT) shooting, followed by freshmen Kam Chatman and Ricky Doyle chipping in 12 apiece. Most importantly, Austin Hatch entered the game for the last few minutes, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd:
— Michigan Basketball (@umichbball) August 17, 2014
The full box score, which was compiled by hand by the Michigan staff—hence no minutes played tally—is below (click to embiggen):
Visual proof of Irvin being Not Just A Shooter™:
Postgame quotes from John Beilein, Hatch, and more courtesy of the athletic department:
Michigan Head Coach John Beilein
On the opening victory on U-M's Italian exhibition tour ... "Offensively, that first quarter was not what I was expecting. With us playing so well offensively that led to us playing so well defensively. You don't know what to expect in games like these. The first quarter was probably a little above what I thought we would do. The last three quarters were a little more predictable for a team on a trip like we are on."
On what he learned that will help going into the next game ... "We will have 48 hours before our next game. This film will be invaluable. There will be plenty of it that will coach the coaches on what we have to teach better. The second part is we will have a chance to sit down with players on the train tomorrow when we go to Verona. It will be just a great teaching tool."
On getting Austin Hatch getting into the last three minutes of the game ... "It was a special moment. Austin even led us in the fight song after the game was over. It's something he has worked very hard for. It was a great moment for our team; however, it was truly special for Austin and his grandfather, Jim, who was here in the stands."
Freshman Austin Hatch
On getting into the game ... "(long pause) As you can imagine it has been a heck of a journey to get here. Playing basketball at the University of Michigan has been my goal since I was a little kid. It was unreal to be here and to have actually played a game. I really feel like I have that game under my belt now and I really feel like a Michigan basketball player."
On almost getting an opportunity to score ... "I am not going to take a shot if it is not the right point in the game. For example if I have an open three and I have a teammate who is open under the basket, you better believe I am going to be passing it to him. Yeah, it would be cool if I made a three. It would be a good story, but I am about my team and my teammates."
On leading the team in 'The Victors' ... "It was unreal. To lead the team in the fight song after the game is a big tradition. I learned that early on in the recruiting process and watched U-M sing it a lot on my visits. I always thought to myself, 'I hope someday I am in position to be able to do that.' Just like everything else that happened today, it was just unreal to be able to do that."
Sophomore Zak Irvin
On his opening 27-point, 11-rebound game ..."I really shot the ball well today; however, I have to give my teammates credit because they were looking for me and getting me the ball. The big thing for me was getting to the hole and I was able to do that. I was able to score inside and outside. It was a great start for us, a great game and hopefully we can keep this going."
On U-M's red hot first quarter ... "We came out shooting the ball really well. That just speaks volumes for our team. We are all looking for each other and playing unselfish basketball."
On how this team progressed ... "We are a growing team. There were a lot of things that went well today, but there is plenty we still have to work on. We can do better communicating and on the defensive end. We came out to Italy and had a great game, but we also just have to enjoy and really take in everything on this trip."
On Austin Hatch getting into the game ..."It was great to see that, especially after everything that Austin has been through. To see him step out onto that floor just meant so much. I have known Austin since the eighth grade so to see him out there playing was just incredible. I hope he is able to do that a lot more during this trip and beyond."
Freshman Ricky Doyle
On playing his first game in a Michigan jersey ... "It was a lot of fun. Finally getting out there with all these guys was a great experience. There is a lot more to come. It's going to be a great year."
On Austin Hatch getting into the game ..."He has been through so much and for him to be out here with us, it is phenomenal. He is part of our family. He is one of our brothers. Seeing him going out there was just as important to all of us as it is to him."
There are five…SIX principle benchmarks of a quarterback. The secret is surprise, surprise and fear, fear and a fanatical devotion to protection… [Fuller]
Diarist of the Week MCalibur was bumped this morning. Scroll, or continue. Some Meta things to get into first.
East Coast Trip. The New York and Philly alumni associations have invited Brian to come do his spiel. Details:
- Monday, 8/18: New York, New York (We're in New York!) Brian will be at Professor Thom's on 2nd Ave between 13th & 14th, 7pm to 8:30, for their annual kickoff event, along with Paul Myerberg of USA Today. There's a thread up to put your questions in, and for any other signup details.
- Tuesday, 8/19: Philadelphia, PA. 6:30 to 9pm at the Fox and Hound on 15th and Spruce with the Philly alumni association. Thread for questions. They have tickets on sale and details here. Hot appetizers provided.
Yes Brian will have a stack of HTTVs there. About that…
Check your mailbox right now. The bulk of the Kickstarter books should arrive today. These were supposed to go direct from the printer two weeks ago; instead they arrived a week ago in Ann Arbor, whence we got them to a mailing house and out as quickly as possible.
The t-shirt orders and signed books are coming. The books are now on sale. If you haven't gotten one yet, a reminder that book sponsor Draft Kings is still offering a free copy for a $15 deposit—that's the least expensive method of acquisition. If that's not your bag, "pre-sale" has moved to "on sale" on the MGoStore. It also comes in digital. And if you know any Penn State fans, we made a version for them too (digital edition).
Ticket Center. We're shopping for a new ticket vendor where MGoBloggers will be able to exchange with each other for free and find better deals on tix, since this year's secondary market will be pretty alive this year. If you have preferences (not Stubhub—they haven't offered) let them be known in the comments; number one priority is what you'll want to use.
The Venn of Brandon. This by 4roses is a Venn of Brandon's responsibilities:
Do you need the entire key? I'm kind of confused on the methodology; I think the idea is the circle is whether it's a priority for the AD? Are we placing different ideas here, so like Slippery Rock is B3? How do we separate complaints about marketing in general from being bad at it?
[After the jump: recruiting's secret sauce, hoops practice, Darboh's arms, and political things]
This just went from a rumor that was everywhere on Notre Dame boards to a three-alarm fire. The rumor: four Notre Dame players were going to be suspended for the year for some variety of academic fraud. Precisely the four players rumored were just absent from Notre Dame practice:
A foursome of Notre Dame veterans was not seen leaving the Irish practice field Friday afternoon. Cornerback KeiVarae Russell, defensive end Ishaq Williams, linebacker Kendall Moore and wide receiver DaVaris Daniels were not among the players who exited the LaBar Practice Field Friday.
Notre Dame did not respond to questions about their absence.
And Pat Forde reports that ND is investigating some academic fraud:
Yahoo Sports sources: investigation into academic fraud underway at Notre Dame, football players (as well as regular students) part of probe
— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) August 15, 2014
That's Notre Dame's top corner (Russell), wide receiver (Daniels), and defensive end (Williams) plus a backup linebacker. Russell and Daniels were on track to get drafted after this season if they entered the draft early; Williams has been a bit of a disappointment after being a five-star recruit.
There were also rumors that ND was going to vacate their 2012 wins over this, which I don't buy since that actually matters to the Irish and UNC just got off scot free for a scandal which I'm just assuming is infinitely worse than whatever tempest in a teapot the Irish are flagellating themselves for.
UPDATE: Bruce Feldman confirms that all four players have been dismissed, whether temporarily or permanently.
UPDATE II (ACE): According to the South Bend Tribune, this could go beyond current players:
A source told the South Bend Tribune the scale of alleged fraud is comparable to the highly publicized case at the University of North Carolina and that a former player or players could be tied in as well.
Repeated attempts for comment and clarity from Notre Dame officials have gone unanswered.
The scope of this is growing by the minute, it seems.
UPDATE III: Notre Dame just released a statement on the matter.
The University of Notre Dame is investigating suspected academic dishonesty on the part of several students, including four members of the football team. Because of the potential for NCAA violations, the University notified the NCAAtoday, and the four football players will be held out of practice and competition until the conclusion of an ongoing investigation and the University honor code process. Any possible academic dishonesty by other students will be addressed appropriately.
This part may also be relevant to your interests.
That investigation is ongoing. If it determines that the student-athletes would have been ineligible during past competition, Notre Dame will voluntarily vacate any victories in which they participated.
There's also a rumor going around that up to 22(!) current or former players could be involved; thus far that's uncorroborated, however.
News bullets and other items:
- Kalis [back] and Funchess were held out of Wednesday's scrimmage
- Hoke is looking for guys along the defensive line to separate themselves
- Your tentative starting offensive line (after Glasgow returns from suspension) is Mason Cole-LT; Erik Magnuson-LG; Jack Miller-C; Graham Glasgow-RG; Ben Braden-RT
- Kalis would likely be a starter if he wasn't injured
- Drake Harris' hamstring injury is taking longer to recover than expected
- The coaching staff is emphasizing putting the players in stressful, game-like situations
"Thanks for coming. We had a good scrimmage yesterday. Got about 140 plays in. It was about 55 for the ones and twos and about 35 for the threes so it was good. We got a lot of work and a lot of different situations of football, I think, that are important. Really thought that we had a lot of energy. Liked how they approached playing in the Big House. Today we did a lot of trying to – some of those guys, because of GPS and all the tracking, played a game and a half, you know, yesterday. We took today – did a lot of walk-throughs, a lot of meetings, a lot of film done, a lot of teaching from that perspective. Think we're in good shape right now. Held a couple guys out: Kalis we held out, Funchess we held out– gosh, I've got to remember who all we held out. Delano Hill, even though he's coming back right now, with no contact status. He's doing more drill work. And then Drake Harris and Jake Butt but everybody else participated, everybody else got a number of plays so was good for evaluations and, you know, you look at those decisions and you see where you're at and, again, Saturday night obviously we're going to go out again. Obviously probably not the same kind of play count but it will be probably 30-30-20 if you look at it which will end up being 40-40-25 most likely. But to get out and play under the lights a little bit will be a good experience for our guys to be with people there. The one thing that we've really talked about a lot of keeping stress on the players. Because there's some youth in there in a few positions, but just overall because of the mechanics of the offense, the mechanics of the defense, the communication process that we need to make sure we have on every play."
You say you wanted to keep stress on them. What kind of stress?
"Well, you know, I think that's a good question because you can do it with crowd noise, music, making where they've really got to focus in and lock in that they're hearing the calls from the guy next to them. I think in the different situations, you know- you put an offense in third-and-10, third-and-8, there's some stress there to pick up first downs and you put a defense in a situation where you're going heavy fronts, half yard line you put some stress on them that way so that's a lot of it, tempo's a lot of it. You know, I don't know which day it was. What day's today? Today's Thursday? It was Tuesday we wanted to get a little tempo for both sides of it. We were going to run what we call racks of 4-4-4 for each group and ended up instead of 12 plays it was a 44 play segment because we wanted to keep the stress on them and the tempo, Get them tired. See how they play tired, see how they think at the same time we had music – we were in Glick that day and in Glick the music can be pretty loud."
Couple things. Drake Harris- how concerned are you about that injury now at this point?
"Well, you know, obviously would like to have back. Obviously it's going probably longer than he wants and we want. I think he's getting closer to getting back out on the field we just have to keep working through it, rehabbing through it. It's not the same hamstring that he heard before and what happens with guys – and this is some of the data that I think is pretty interesting. We're getting in to GPS monitoring and what all that does and believe me, I'm not the expert. There's guys, Aaron Wellman's one of those...how much is a guy, from a symmetry standpoint, pushing off one leg than the other? Monitors all that and guys like Jake Butt, you know, he's using his other leg a lot more than he is but those numbers are coming down where he's getting a little more balance which is part of good news for him and for us. So I think for Drake's case, because he had the one, I think fatigue and some of those things because kids want to compete and that's the thing you love- that part of it and how it effects the other one."
And could you talk about how the defensive line's coming together?
"Yeah. I think as a group they're coming together pretty good. I think this thing that we're looking for, you know, because we've got- Frank has had a good fall camp, Brennen Beyer's had a real good fall camp, inside I think Willie Henry and Chris Wormley have had good fall camps. I think Matt Godin's a good player, then Willie Henry, Bryan Mone, Ryan Glasgow and [Maurice] Hurst have all- they're competing like heck out there, which is great. What I'm really looking for is some separation. You know, they're all talented and have some attributes that are all positive but we've got to look for a little more separation."
You mentioned Delano Hill coming back and participating in some drills. How close is he to participating in contact drills and how is the competition going at safety until he gets back?
"Well, I think that Dymonte Thomas has been competing with Jarrod [Wilson] and Jeremy Clark. I would say when Delano gets back that's another talented athlete that we'll be excited about. How much longer? You know, it could be three weeks, it could be two weeks. I can't really tell you. That's a doctor's deal and, you know, I think we're happy with where he is right now as far as the recovery and how the surgery went and all that but we'll see."
[After THE JUMP: piecing together an offensive line and the competition at linebacker and corner]