News bullets and other items:
Hoke has spoken with Frank Clark since Monday
The team practiced inside yesterday, except for the special teams unit; they wanted them working in the wind
Ty Isaac has dropped some weight and impressed in the intrasquad scrimmage last week
Hoke said the problems in the passing game seem to change from game to game
Hoke and his staff turned down Jake Ryan when they were at SDSU after watching his recruiting tape
"Thanks for coming. Yesterday we had a very productive practice as far as both execution and the intensity of it and the finish, and that's one of the things we talk about all the time but the consistency of the finish we want to do every play and I think we accomplished a lot of those things yesterday. We went inside. A little surprising to some of you. Mr. Glick might be upset if we didn't go inside but we did punt and snap and catch punts outside for about 12 to 15 minutes. We usually always go outside for that specialist [portion] and it just helps those guys fielding the punts in the wind yesterday. The other problem that you have, and it's not a problem, but your filmers, your student filmers being up in those towers [where] the wind gusts can get pretty good and we don't want to take any chances with that.
"As far as- you always track the weather and you want to try and be ahead of it. It does reflect sometimes on if you want to have two returners on a punt [or] if you want to have three returners on the punt back and because of the weather and what the wind can do to the football. Doesn't affect a lot in the passing game unless it's just unbelievably from the side especially if you're doing a great job of spirals with the ball.
"The one thing we've talked about is there's 12 seniors that are going to play their last football game in Michigan Stadium, and I think that's important. You try and remind guys that they're going to be seniors soon, those young guys, and we talk about that constantly and I think some of them you've had an opportunity to talk to this week because we're trying to give the seniors time with you. It can be emotional for some of them and some guys will be emotional but it won't hit until after the game has been played."
/someone opens door, noise from a snowblower fills the room
"SO WE HOPE AND WE ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO COME OUT AS WE HONOR THEM AND WE RECOGNIZE THEM AND WE'RE EXCITED ABOUT THAT."
"And we're blowing snow."
You don't face a lot of three man fronts. Appalachian State was one, but this one's a little bit different from Appalachian State because they're a lot more up front, a lot more aggressive. Does it present some different challenges than what you face in a normal week?
"Well, it does in some areas, and they'll kick it to be an under or an over front depending on where the tight end's lined up or what they feel is a receiver strength or just formational strength, but the present some thing because they've got really good quickness. [They] present some problems because of the quickness they have as a team, and I think they have pretty good team speed. They're not the biggest guys up front, but I think they do a nice job of what they're trying to get done when you look at gap integrity in the run game and then obviously we want to stay out of those third downs that can be a problem because whoever you play there's only so many things that you can do."
You talked about him a lot early on in terms of eligibility, but what have you seen from Ty Isaac on the practice field to make you feel that he is what you thought he was?
"Yeah, yeah. A couple things. Number one, I think Ty from a standpoint of where he is getting at now physically from when he got here- you know, he was in Chicago in the summer taking classes, doing those things so didn't have an opportunity really to work out with our guys at all in the summer so he did a nice job and he's continued to do that. His weight's down. When we had the scrimmage the other day he was one of the guys [I forgot]; I said there'd be guys I forgot to mention. He ran the ball pretty daggone well."
[After THE JUMP: Hoke talks about Hagerup's improvement after dropping an old-school technique. Yes, that happened. Yes, in the punting game. Why would you accuse me of making that up?]
You may have noticed, especially during the second half of Monday's thumping of Bucknell, that Michigan's offense has looked a little different this season. This season's shot chart, via Shot Analytics, puts it in picture form (green dots are makes, red misses):
A little over 34% of Michigan's shots this season have come from midrange, compared to just over 25% last season. It's not a good change, either; midrange jumpers are by nature the game's most inefficient, and the Wolverines are hitting just 33% of such shots this season, down from 39% in 2013-14. A higher volume and lower efficiency is obviously not a good thing.
A closer look reveals that there may be something here worth sticking with, however. With the usual sample size caveats applying, here's a simple breakdown of what's working and what's not:
(If you're wondering why it looks like a three is included in Irvin's chart, he had a foot on the line.)
Simply put, Zak Irvin is working, and a look at the tape reveals that this may be no fluke, especially since Irvin wasn't bad on midrange elbow jumpers last season (8/19). Here are all of Irvin's midrange attempts from this season:
He's getting these shots primarily in two ways: catch-and-shoot jumpers (3/3) and step-ins when defenders overplay his outside shot (2/4). The aborted drive to the rim off a curl-cut stands as the exception, not the rule.
[Hit THE JUMP for a look at why the rest of the team isn't shooting like Irvin, as well as a picture pages of how M is getting Irvin good midrange looks.]
If you can do this, we've got minutes for you [Upchurch]
Question by Ace: The biggest question Michigan hoops faced heading into this season was how the center position would hold up, and the focus went almost entirely on the three freshmen. Now, against the first team M played with a pulse, Max Bielfeldt went off, to the point that HAHA SETH DAVIS "MAXIMUS" WE GET IT WE ALSO GOT IT THE FIRST TWO DOZEN TIMES YOU CAN STOP NOW.
ANYWAY, now that we've got a small sample to work with, how do you see the minutes at the five shaking out? Is Bielfeldt at all for real, and what have you seen from the freshmen that's also informing your opinion?
|Why would there be an 'a' in it if it's pronounced with a short 'e'? This makes less sense than a 6'7 center. [Upchurch]|
Seth: Max looked awesome, and bigs get better with time, but my expectations for him haven't changed from pre-season. Those expectations were for significant improvement toward a ceiling that's still below what we want as a starter. I think once Michigan's playing teams who aren't Division II or a Patriot League power in a down year, we'll look back on this as the Bielfeldt game. The standard comparison for a 6'7 center is Wes Unseld, but 6'7 in the 1970s is 6'9 today; Mitch McGary was more Unseld. When Bucknell could get the ball down low to their guy named Nana, Bielfeldt couldn't hang; he looked to give up three inches to a guy who's listed 6'9.
Donnal (apparently this is pronounced "Don-ELLE"?) again got the starter's run and I think he remains Option 1A. He's merely efficient and clearly the weak point of the starting five, but in an alternate universe where the NCAA isn't the dumbest organization on the planet I would expect Donnal to be getting minutes behind McGary.
After the non-conference you'll be seeing way more Doyle. He's definitely looked the most raw of the four fives. He also looks big--like as big as McGary—and the scattershot results of his minutes have pocked things Max and Donnal never will. The best case scenario for Michigan is to slowly ease Doyle into more minutes so he's a viable option against the larger Big Ten teams.
We saw a bit more Wilson this time, and nothing changed my feelings that he's a four. My guess is he's not seeing time there because Michigan desperately wants someone to emerge at the five. My guess is this is what's causing a lot of the slowness in progression that Beilein mentioned, because he's a freshman and learning to play center is like a five-year journey, not to mention Beilein's system and all its quirks. He does make some cool defensive plays, but the Smotrycz is strong with this one. Watching him trying to help down low then swing out out the wing gave me a renewed appreciation for the guys who could do that.
So post time:
Early season: 50% Donnal, 25% Bielfeldt, 25% Wilson/Doyle
Big Ten season: 41% Donnal, 40% Doyle, 19% Bielfeldt/Wilson.
[Jump for Ace disagrees with everybody]
Does anyone ever check anything? No? Okay. This exists.
— David Adrian (@davidcadrian) November 12, 2014
Michigan needs to have a twitter feed in which they ask everyone if this thing they're about to do is a bad idea.
Speaking of things that exist without being checked that should not exist. Oh man the takes coming out of the Free Press after Frank Clark's dismissal are super super hot:
The Free Press must have a logic puzzle as part of their hiring process. Anyone who figures it out fails.
This, by the way, this is a great example of the pointless moralizing I was talking about. Seidel doesn't give damn about whether Michigan officially dismissed Clark on Sunday or Monday, he's just complaining to show off how impressively ethical he is. Barry Petchesky just had an excellent piece on how the NFL is using Adrian Peterson to repair The Brand:
3. This is a pure PR play on the part of the NFL, and it's almost too cynical to be believed. The league had been reeling from widespread criticism of its eagerness to co-opt the legal process and its inability to sensitively or sensibly handle morality. Peterson—a black-and-white villain—was a blessing. Maybe a bad man, maybe a man who did bad things, he's a relatively uncomplicated figure, and the NFL was thrilled to have someone to position itself against. The NFL clambered over Peterson to regain the moral high ground it never actually deserved, and is using that platform to shout out, "We are strongly against the beating of children." This is the safest and most defensible position in the world. What we're seeing is the return of the soldiers-and-puppies-and-Pinktober NFL, barely months after the Ray Rice fiasco exposed that as a thin facade. There has been no meaningful change. The league is still beyond reproach, because it cares about the children.
Seidel roundly condemns domestic violence to create the appearance he's a rad dude; the only person served by his column is himself.
Fan appreciation day. At least they're trying. Michigan's announced a bunch of minor fan perks for the Maryland game, including some concession concessions and apparel discounts for season ticket holders. They're also allowing field access. That access is slated to start 30-45 minutes after a 3:30 game that looks likely to feature freezing rain—ain't nobody staying for that.
We've got photos of other stuff. We've been branching out our photos into non-revenue sports. Here's a SOON shot from volleyball's outing against Minnesota:
As always, mgoblog photos are Creative Commons licensed so you can use them. Just credit the photographer and link back.
Exit Will Muschamp. Florida axed him yesterday, and man the parallels here are eerie: Muschamp had a weird, horseshoe-flavored 11-2 year (his second; Hoke's first) before seemingly excellent recruiting collapsed in a pile of offensive ineptitude too intense to be believed. QBs in Gainesville and Ann Arbor disintegrated into quivering interception machines before our eyes; the defenses generally stood tall despite extremely adverse conditions; both teams mutated football never-before-seen piles of suck, despair, and hilarity.
Today they had a press conference in which Muschamp handled himself ably and everyone swore up and down he was the best dude. Earlier this year Spencer and I had an IM conversation about swapping coaches, and it turns out that's beside the point: Muschamp and Hoke are the same dude.
3. There is no limit to the variations of failure here. Muschamp was blown out at home on Homecoming by Mizzou, 42-13, and sniped by a late field goal, completing a 30-27 home collapse against LSU. Alabama could have scored 60 on the Gators, but got bored and politely declined the option in a 42-21 road humiliation. When Florida lined up for a late punt against South Carolina after the Gamecocks had already blocked a game-clinching field goal, the kick was blocked before the ball was ever snapped. Don't ever tell anyone you can't block a ball with your mind; Florida did it, and then handed it to South Carolina with a smile. The confidence in delivering losses was the only constant Florida had left, something it got down to some time after the worst loss in program history: a home defeat by Georgia Southern in 2013.
Did you forget that happened, the low point of lows for an entire era? He did that. Will Muschamp's signature loss of signature losses is him misspelling the word "fart" in spray paint across "The Birth of Venus." It's an atrocity almost admirable in its accidental, perfect malice. For the record, I think Will would spell it "p-h-a-r-t," because that's the funniest possible misspelling of the word.
With reports that Dan Mullen won't be of interest, my main regret about Florida pulling the trigger early is that Spencer got the jump on the one-sentence summation of the last four years:
11. In conclusion: RIP, Big Dumb Will Muschamp Football. In the end, you were too dumb to live and too ugly to mourn.
May Spencer find his Christmas tree stocked with Air Raid coaches, and may Will Muschamp migrate northwards to be Jim Harbaugh's DC.
Now everything will be fixed forever. The NCAA has taken the first and most important step towards being an organization that creates good in this world:
Rounds of 64 and 32 will return to being called the first and second rounds in 2016: pic.twitter.com/IO1NJH9mss
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) November 17, 2014
Long national nightmare, etc.
Hockey stuff. I haven't said too much about the hockey team yet; I don't usually during football season because of time constraints and just the fact that I'm not that good at figuring out hockey even now and need some time to get my head around. I'm not much closer after Michigan's meh sweep of American International. Center Ice:
The problems started when the defensive pairings were changed again. The blueline predictably looked disjointed, pinching at the wrong times, getting caught out of position and allowing the Yellow Jackets to get countless odd man rushes on Zach Nagelvoort.
Michigan suffocated AIC by pressuring in the offensive zone for the majority of both games, but when the Yellow Jackets countered they easily found quality scoring chances. When the defense had their way on Saturday cutting down mistakes, Nagelvoort wasn't able to keep the puck out of the net and the Yellow Jackets were able to not just stay in the game, but put Michigan on the ropes early.
AIC is usually so bad that anyone within shouting distance of the tournament sees wins against them excised from their RPI because counting those games would actually lower it. These games were essentially exhibitions against a team much worse than the U18s, and Michigan duly dominated attack time and SOG.
I don't take much positive from it, though. On Friday AIC had three separate 3-on-1s and a half-dozen other odd-man rushes besides; on Saturday they played Michigan almost even through two periods. I'm at a loss to explain Michigan's play. They have piles of talent, certainly enough to scrape through if their back end was making moderate mistakes occasionally instead of enormous ones frequently. That's not the case, and then the offense has lacked incisiveness against anyone better than AIC since… since TJ Hensick left? It's been a long time since Michigan's had a guy like him.
So I don't know. Michigan is really behind the eight ball here, already, playing in a crappy conference with a 2-5 record in games that will actually matter when it's time to find tourney participants. Would Red hang on for that last year when Tech is 10-0(!) and headed for their best season since the 1980s, thus paving the way for Pearson to come back? I don't know, but that's what I'm thinking about now… not getting back to the tourney this year.
At least they're finally fixing the ice infrastructure? Yost's ice has been iffy for years.
Speaking of hockey. Arizona State(?!) announces they will add a D-I program. Like Penn State, they make the leap from ACHA power. ASU is a weird program to make the leap; there are no West Coast programs. The three Colorado outfits are the only schools even vaguely close. Even so I'd guess the NCHC snaps them up. Arizona State brings a bigger athletic profile than most of their members.
This is one of the benefits of the Big Ten's formation, by the way. That reorganized the western programs into three conferences instead of two. After CHA folded, programs that were considering hockey had a dubious future as an independent. Now there are spots for another dozen teams, as long as some of them are in the Big Ten.
Buffalo might be next, with Penn State benefactor and new Bills owner Terry Pegula potentially fronting the capital.
You used to know how to do this. Michigan scheduled a home hockey game for a football Saturday. That game is at 3:30. The hockey game is at 7:30. Remind me why I have season tickets again? Is it because I'm dumb? It feels like that's the reason.
Michigan never used to do this. Instead they would have the occasional Sunday matinee. New athletic director please save us. And stop running the ARE YOU FAN ENOUGH commercial for the hockey game the previous athletic director yanked out of our season ticket packages.
Etc.: Ray Taylor's baby has impeccable timing. Approximately 3k unsold seats for Maryland. Michigan catches another personnel break as freshman Maryland WR Juwann Winifree is suspended for Saturday. Old photos. Justin Meram gets a call-up to the Iraq national team. Dilly bar details.
Jake Ryan and Devin Gardner
Coach Hoke said that he addresses your team in regards to domestic violence. What has he said and what has the team taken from those presentations?
JR: "You know, a lot. He stresses every single day that he has expectations for everyone on this team and if you don't follow them and rules are broken then stuff will happen. He has talked about domestic violence with us and that's one of the things you can't do. It's just unfortunate."
When you see Northwestern roll up 40 points on Notre Dame does that make you feel better about your effort at Northwestern, knowing that you held them in like you did?
JR: "Yeah, I'm proud of this defense and it just shows what we can accomplish as a defense and we had a great game and need to keep moving forward."
For Devin: it's still a few days away put your last game in Michigan Stadium is on Saturday. Any idea what kind of emotions will be swirling through your head then?
DG: "I'm just really excited. There's a lot more at stake than just my last game at Michigan. It's never been about me and it's not going to be about me on Saturday. I'm just going to go out and give it everything I have, like I've always given, to try and get a win for the team."
Did the bye week help you at all with the ankle or whatever ailments you might have?
DG: "Yeah, I've gotten healthier through the bye week."
[After THE JUMP: senior day, adversity, and Devin's thoughts on what it means to be a citizen of the world]
Michigan Offers 2015 Corner
After decommitments left Michigan with Tyree Kinnel as their lone member of the 2015 class who projects to play in the secondary, further offers were inevitable. Afforded time by the bye week, the coaches came through with one to Long Beach (CA) Poly three-star Colin Samuel, per 247's Barton Simmons. The Wolverines weren't alone, however, as UCLA and Washington State offered Samuel yesterday; while Michigan should get serious interest, the Bruins offer looms large for a California prospect who'd previously gone under the radar.
Steve Lorenz posted an updated list of cornerback targets that's worth a read if you've got access to 247. Previous top targets Iman Marshall and Marcus Lewis are longshots at best at this point. Two more California prospects, three-stars Octavius Spencer and Malik Psalms, have each fielded Michigan interest with an offer as of yet; same goes for three-star Wake Forest commit Amari Henderson. I'd bet at least one of those three pulls in an offer before long.
The other defensive back recruit to watch is Oak Park's John Kelly, who got his coveted Michigan offer last month and is seriously considering the Wolverines after previously narrowing his recruitment to Michigan State and Minnesota. Kelly recently told Scout's Allen Trieu just how much that offer meant to him:
A lot of people might say, Michigan has not had a great year, why's he looking at them so hard?
Michigan is a really prestigious school, and although the year is not going as planned, they're always going to pretty much be a dominant program, and another thing was, I've been getting recruited by those guys since like ninth grade, so for an offer to finally come was amazing. I still was happy. Even if they still went [winless] I would have been just as happy.
Kelly will use his three official visits on Michigan, MSU, and Minnesota. According to Rivals' Josh Helmholdt, he's set the Minnesota official for December 12th, and while he hasn't set his official visits to the two in-state schools, he's got plans to hit campus in the very near future ($):
"With Michigan, I am going to be up at the game when they play Maryland (Nov. 22). That will probably be an unofficial," Kelly said. "I have been in contact with Coach (Chris) Singletary just about every week. It's really the connections and atmosphere up there."
It certainly wouldn't be a bad sign if Kelly takes a couple visits to Ann Arbor over the next month or so before making his decision.
[Hit THE JUMP for several new 2016 offers, the latest on Darrin Kirkland, and a couple of hoops updates.]