So, next year’s offensive line/defensive line…any conce…why did you just run under the bed?
Seth: I ask this because I was playing with a depth chart for next year and I'm kind of more worried about DT than OT.
Ace: It’s an understandable concern, especially now that it looks more likely Michigan could whiff on Solomon/Tufele/Reitmaier. While I’m still more worried about the offensive line, the lack of depth after Mo Hurst and Bryan Mone—who hasn’t been able to stay healthy for anywhere close to a full season—is worrisome. A couple freshmen are going to get pressed into service early.
Seth: That's the thing: there aren't a lot of bullets in that chamber.
Ace: With the number of SDE/5-tech types Michigan is bringing in this class (Hudson, Jeter, Irving-Bey), I wouldn’t be surprised if Rashan Gary slides inside to help out with that.
In related news, it’d be really nice if Lawrence Marshall finally broke through.
Seth: I figure the starting four are locked: Gary at SDE (anchor), Hurst at DT, Mone at NT, Winovich at End. For passing downs they go with a 30 front, pulling Mone and having Gary and Hurst slide down. The top DL backup then is your backup anchor: Kemp, Reuben Jones, Marshall, whoever, who comes in for Gary when Gary is in for Hurst who may be in for Mone. But then Mone hasn't stayed healthy for a year yet. And if you lose any of them we're down to....Dwumfour?
Ace: Paea is the least college-ready of the incoming DTs; I still like him more at guard, to be honest. I think Dwumfour and Hudson are the best bets for those backup spots if Michigan can’t land Tufele. Practice reports from the Army Bowl have been pretty positive for Irving-Bey, as well, so perhaps he could get into the rotation.
Mone’s health is paramount, which is rather terrifying.
Seth: Yeah, none of those guys are likely going to be ready to play nose, and that would be a colossal waste of Hurst.
Ace: I don’t see many scenarios in which Hurst doesn’t see a fair amount of time at nose, unfortunately. He should be much better at it next year than he was in 2015, though.
Seth: The playbook has Hurst-style nose tricks, and I agree 305-pound senior Hurst >>> 275-pound sophomore Hurst. But when you put a guy with his skills over the center and leave him to doubles forever those glorious plays when he's in the backfield before the quarterback has pulled up his read buttons disappear.
Ace: You can still slide Gary inside on those snaps, insert one of the young guys at SDE, and have a pretty decent line out there, though.
[After the jump: we scrape the bottom of the snap stats for potential contributors, and then we do the OL.]
Walton's play in transition late sparked M's comeback. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
It wasn't impressive, or encouraging, or—at least for the first 30 minutes or so—fun, but Michigan pulled their proverbial asses out of the fire with a strong finish against Penn State, closing the game with a 30-15 run to erase a 14-point deficit and steal much-needed conference win.
"Their seniors made plays at the end," said PSU coach Pat Chambers.
"They got the stops when they needed," he added. "That's what senior-led teams do."
"Our seniors, who were not on their 'A' game, were nothing short of spectacular in the last four minutes," John Beilein concurred.
You, Michigan fan, may have cocked an eyebrow at those statements. For tonight, at least, they held true. While they struggled for most of the game, Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton both came up big down the stretch. Walton nailed a three to pull Michigan within one, then fed DJ Wilson on a fast break for the go-ahead alley-oop. When PSU's Lamar Stevens grabbed the lead back with a jumper, Irvin answered with his pet midrange shot. Walton extended the lead at the free-throw line, Irvin drilled a tough stepback shot, and the two combined to ice the game at the line, going 6/6 in the waning moments to fend off PSU's comeback effort.
|The game proved frustrating at times for both coaches. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]|
The Wolverines didn't open the game nearly as well as they closed it, of course. This was a boring slog for a half-hour of game time. Penn State got into the paint time and again, while Michigan couldn't do the same or hit their outside shots, going 1-for-9 from three-point range in the first half.
"They drove us wherever they wanted to in the first half," said John Beilein. "And we let them."
The second stanza began much the same way; PSU's first two buckets came in the paint before three straight triples extended the lead to 14. The turning point, according to Beilein, came during an emotional huddle at the under-12 media timeout.
"I didn't have to say anything," Beilein said. "It was all, the circle that I was in, they were all extremely charged up and upset at each other. And I'm not meaning pointing fingers [at each other], they were very encouraging, and very strong words that, no, we're not losing this game. We're not starting off in the league 0 and 2. We're going to make this happen."
Duncan Robinson entered the game shortly after that timeout and proceeded to account for a five-point run of his own with two shots to cut the deficit to eight. The Wolverines steadily chipped away at the lead from there, benefiting from some PSU turnovers to get out in transition for easy points. Then the seniors closed it out.
The season can take two forms from here. Michigan can carry the emotion from that huddle over to the rest of the Big Ten schedule and fight their way into the tournament, or they can play the listless brand of basketball we saw for much of this game and settle for an NIT bid. Only time will tell.
By timeless tradition, going all the way back to the very first post-Harbaugh offseason at Michigan, our people recount the story of Jake Rudock’s exodus from Iowa, update the Grand Google Sheet, and see what it can tell us about this year and the future.
Whereas, at the end of the 2014 Iowa football season Kirk Ferentz released an unprecedented post-bowl depth chart just for the sake of putting C.J. Beathard in front of most-of-the-time starter Jake Rudock. This accomplished several things: Beathard’s dad, who’d put some transfer noise in a local Tennessee paper, was placated, and the People of Rudock took the hint to grad transfer the hell out of Egypt. After wandering in the desert, the spiritual, spiritually 40-year-old Rudock was chosen by Harbaugh to lead the people of Ann Arbor to the
promised land Citrus Bowl.
In honor of the old Pharaoh’s great dick move, I present this year’s post-bowl Foe Film diagram, now with 100% more mustache.
[Click to biggen make]
I’ve also updated the great spreadsheet of players going back to the class of 1993, with all that recruiting and attrition and start data.
Use as you like—I’ll keep it updated as the offseason progresses so you can use it for diaries or fact-finding.
[Hit THE JUMP for a chart party.]
#33 Michigan (10-4, 0-1 B1G) vs
#96 Penn State (9-6, 1-1)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||8:36 pm ET, Wednesday|
|LINE||Michigan -9 (KenPom)|
PBP: Cory Provus
Analyst: Shon Morris
Right: Michigan swept the series with PSU last year, including a 23-point blowout at Crisler. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
While there hasn't been any change to the starting lineup, Duncan Robinson's role continues to expand. Since getting only seven minutes against Marquette and 16 in each of the subsequent two games, Robinson has played 20+ minutes in seven of M's last nine games, including a season-high 36 in the Iowa game. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, meanwhile, played only eight minutes against the Hawkeyes after seeing the floor for at least 20 minutes in every game since the opener. John Beilein may very well continue to use Robinson as a super sub but he's playing the role of a starter again.
Beilein, by the way, has the chance to tally his 200th win at Michigan tonight. He'd be the second M coach to do so, following the legendary Johnny Orr (209).
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||10||Tony Carr||Fr.||6'3, 198||79||22||96||No|
|Fits FR PG profile: TO rate nearly as high as assists, good 3P%, bad 2P%.|
|G||33||Shep Garner||Jr.||6'2, 187||80||21||100||No|
|Secondary ballhandler and 3-point gunner. 35% on 106(!) 3PA.|
|G||23||Josh Reaves||So.||6'4, 210||44||19||98||Yes|
|Slasher/defender is 11th nationally in steal rate. Struggling with outside shot.|
|F||11||Lamar Stevens||Fr.||6'7, 218||65||23||108||Very|
|Only 48% on all two-pointers, but gets to line a lot, makes 88% of FTs.|
|C||24||Mike Watkins||R-Fr.||6'9, 246||58||21||106||Very|
|Excellent shot-blocker and rebounder. 55% from field, gets to line often.|
|F||0||Payton Banks||Jr.||6'6, 223||64||20||109||Not At All|
|Even more extreme gunner than Garner: 41% on 102 3PA in fewer minutes.|
|G||5||Terrence Samuel||Jr.||6'3, 208||45||15||102||Kinda|
|High FT rate is salvaging efficiency; only 43.1 eFG%.|
|C||44||Julian Moore||Jr.||6'10, 235||35||15||75||Very|
|Shooting 40% from field with a 30% TO rate. Woof.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Thursday, December 29, 2016
Michigan Tech 2, Michigan 0
MTU 1 UM 0 EV 05:36 Assists: Auk
Auk carries the puck in and shoots, the shot going wide and rimming around the boards to Lavigne’s right. Auk picks it up and fakes to the inside before pulling the puck back to his left. Allen defends this well, getting his stick out and keeping it in the shooting lane throughout the process of Auk’s inside-outside move. He somehow is able to get the shot away.
Birks swings his stick down at precisely the right time, deflecting the puck past Lavigne. De Jong tracks Birks and defends this pretty well; I don’t know what you’d do differently considering he had to skate up the wing and defend Birks’ initial shot (the one that went around the boards). This is a feat of incredible hand-eye coordination.
Nose tackle trouble
Michigan had its sights set on three NT sorts and hoped to get two; 3.5* TN DT Rutger Reitmaier decided to stick with Oregon, and now 5* GA DT Aubrey Solomon has a defined leader that is not Michigan:
“No doubt about it,” Solomon told BamaOnLine when asked if Alabama was his leader. “They stand by themselves right now. Huge lead.”
Solomon's had a tendency to change his mind during the process, but that does not sound good. It sounds... bad. This also sounds bad:
“I believe it is a huge lead and it is really I will say it is a SEC fight,” Solomon said. “That’s how I feel. It is a big SEC fight.”
Steve Lorenz caught up with him as well and that take sounds much more optimistic; there is an element of Solomon telling people what they want to here in a lot of his quotes. Publicly stating a huge Alabama lead is something that people usually do when they are going to commit to Alabama, unfortunately.
Meanwhile UT DT Jay Tufele is publicly favoring nobody and has scheduled officials to USC, BYU, and Utah in January. He is tough to read because he says everything is awesome.
Michigan: "Michigan is really awesome. When I took my trip, it's a real college town and I loved everything about it and it was awesome." ...
Ohio State: "Ohio State is a really great program.... Urban Meyer is an awesome coach too.
Lorenz says he's not near a crystal ball but that Utah would be his guess at the moment, albeit with a caveat:
the consensus among us down here is that he is a prospect who definitely hasn't made up his mind at this point.
Losing Tony Tuioti is not helpful, though Tufele dismissed that a non-coach staffer moving would have a big impact on his decision; FWIW, Scout's Bill Greene was not high on OSU's chances about a week ago.
Under Armor takes
The UA game came and went and scouting resulted.
The most impressive Michigan commit in attendance was a close race but FL OL Cesar Ruiz, who drew many mentions as an unmoveable tree trunk person, probably edged it.
— Sean Merriman (@MerrimanTweets) December 30, 2016
4* VA DE Luiji Vilain was amongst the most impressive edge guys at the game.
Luiji Vilain is better than the #10 DE in the nation in my opinion. Michigan's class is very strong.
— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) January 1, 2017
If you want to know who was close to about half a dozen sacks, it would be this guy. Vilain got around the corner and pressure the quarterback numerous times. He also flushed the quarterback out of the pocket and set the edge against the run a couple of times too.
Mike Farrell named him the "most pleasant surprise" at the UA game, in typical Farrell fashion:
Now how can a player ranked as a four-star and No. 181 in the country be the biggest surprise? Well, at least to me, I felt Vilain was a bit overrated and I didn’t expect he would hold up physically as he has so far this week. Vilain has been using his length well in one-on-ones and especially team play, and he’s been stronger than expected.
We'll see if that's enough for a move up. Farrell said he's "not a five star talent", but there's a lot of room between that and #181.
Michigan's other commits didn't come in for much evaluation. RI DE Kwity Paye got in through a fan vote and was tasked with some rushing drills as a DT, which is not his skillset. It doesn't look like his showing will result in a four-star surge for him; he was kind of lost in the wash. Farrell got in a brief mention ("Kwity Paye also had a few key hurries in addition to his tackle for a loss"); 247 doesn't have anything on him except some photos. Ditto FL OL Kai-Leon Herbert and MI S Jaylen Kelly-Powell. (NJ LB Drew Singleton was also named to the game but is still recovering from an ACL tear.)
None of those gentlemen got mentioned as disappointments by Farrell, so they'll probably be static.
Willie Gay says things, a lot of things
Sometimes he says things that make you think he'll be at Michigan.
Peppers is a player that Gay has long said is his favorite college player. The opportunity to replace him exists, and Gay described the possibility as "surreal".
"When I first got the Michigan offer, it was huge for me," he said. "To think I could potentially replace Peppers is amazing to me."
Sometimes he does not.
“Did [LSU] have a linebacker de-commit today?” Gay asked SEC County.
“Well tell them Willie Gay is on his way.”
Asked if he was just joking, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound linebacker said, “No. I don’t mind competing but once you see opportunity like that sometimes you’ve just got to jump on it.”
Is he just screwin' around? Kind of feels like he's just screwin' around. But, eh, crootin. This is why the shruggie was invented. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Sometimes he says things that nobody else has ever said before or will say again.
“When I went to Michigan I felt like I was still in Starkville, Miss.,” Gay said. “The only thing different was the weather, and even that wasn't that bad to me. I fell in love with Michigan when I went up there.”
I haven't ever been to Starkville. Maybe it has a botanical garden too?
Gay does have an official scheduled to LSU later this month. He'll probably say various things before he commits that may or may not mean anything. There's a reason that nobody pulled the trigger on a crystal ball even after Gay proclaimed Michigan a strong leader after his trip to Ann Arbor, and this is the reason. Mississippi black hole, man. Gay told Lorenz that his "mind feels like it's changing every day."
The balls roll in for Filiaga; other OL bits
For a brief moment after TX OL Chuck Filiaga announced a top three of OU, Nebraska, and Michigan there was a thought that OU was the pick. That moment seems to have passed after Filiaga arrived at the Army game and started talking to people. Steve Wiltfong, the main guy talking up Oklahoma, put in a crystal ball for Filiaga to Michigan and a bunch of people followed, including Lorenz. Lorenz interviewed Filiaga—likely the impetus for his pick—recently:
"I've had Coach Harbaugh come to my house and come to my school," he said. "He talked to our team before our game against Poteet and talked to all of us and gave us a speech. Coach Drevno came two times. He came once to be the ears for Coach Harbaugh and the second time they both came, so I think I got the OK. He really has made me a priority."
That's quite a contrast from Michigan's approach with Aaron Banks, which was "send Jay Harbaugh a couple times." Filiaga told Lorenz he "has an idea" where he's going; it appears everyone at 247 does as well. Sam Webb also got an interview in which Filiaga said he had an idea of where he was going; he re-iterated that the distance won't be an issue:
“Mom and dad… family really… they don’t mind where I go to college,” said Filiaga.
Brandon Brown is reporting that mom is on board and Michigan should get Filiaga, as well.
Two bits of circumstantial evidence:
- I haven't seen anything from OU or Nebraska writers, and that is almost always a good sign for the team whose reporters are getting interviews.
- When various 247 staff writers with no Michigan/OU/Nebraska track record put in picks they're looking for cheap CB points.
It would appear that the Filiaga commit will be low drama.
Michigan will still pursue OL even if they get Filiaga; giant VA OL Mekhi Becton now seems like Michigan's biggest priority going forward. He gave a pretty generic update to Scout. One thing of note: his only official thus far has been to Michigan. He plans on making some trips in January; those will give an indication of which schools in his top five (M, MSU, Louisville, VT, and UVA) are actual competition and which are just hats on the table.
5* AZ OL Austin Jackson told 247 that it was "kind of likely" he'd make a January official visit to Michigan. That would be his last of the process. Jackson is widely reputed to be a USC lock, get him on campus, puncher's chance, etc.
Meanwhile, 4.5* FL OL Tedarrell Slaton says that he wants to play DT and that Kentucky and Florida are his top two because they're recruiting him at that spot. He'd later name UF his outright leader. Michigan is still drawing mentions, but those feel more perfunctory by the day.
“Urban Meyer called my dad, and he told him he should stop recruiting me because it’s not going to happen,” Thorpe said. “After I got my Penn State offer, Urban called my dad and then he fell off the face of the earth. I didn’t know what happened and thought Ohio State was just not offering me, but I talked to my dad a year after the call, and he was like, ‘Yeah, I told him he can’t recruit you.’”
Thorpe's dad was a PSU football player.
Weird guy watch
As mentioned in the previous roundup, Michigan's rapid-fire commit burst leaves them with few players on the board who seem likely to join the class. They're at 26, can take up to 32, and will probably suffer a decommit or two because this is crootin'.
Meanwhile things appear to be trending in the wrong direction for the most familiar names on the board. The DTs were discussed above. Sam relays that optimism on Elijah Hicks has "faded dramatically"; Slaton's barely on the board. So Michigan's going to have some spots to fill.
One is obvious: CT CB Brandon Sebastian, a BC commit, appears to be the next man up as Michigan searches for a fifth DB in the class. His official was pushed back; Marich reports it is back on for the 13th. Sebastian's a teammate of Tarik Black and will have his parents on the visit. That's spatula city, baby, as the weirdly heated BC-Michigan decommit battle of 2016 rages on.
If it looks like Gay is going to end up somewhere else, keep an eye on 4* VA LB Ellis Brooks. Brooks has already been on campus twice and tells Brandon Brown that Michigan is a definite possibility for a January official:
"That last official visit is very potentially for Michigan. I’ve been talking with Coach [Don] Brown seeing how things are going. Coach Brown is my man and Coach [Chris] Partridge is my man. I really like both of those guys a lot. I know they like me as a player and also as a kid. I have a really solid relationship with both of them. It’s cool with them."
Brooks is a high-academic kid who's more of an ILB type, whereas Gay can play the VIPER(!!!) position that Peppers manned this year. The fit is thus maybe not great, but if Jordan Anthony is a potential VIPER(!!!) it could work out.
Rivals currently has MI DE Aidan Hutchinson a nondescript three-star but their most recent piece on him projects that he "will absolutely begin to travel up the Rivals rankings and should be a Top 250 if not a Top 100 guy when it's over"; he's a Michigan legacy.
TX TE Mustapha Muhammad doesn't even have a top ten yet, but Michigan will be in it. If he sticks to his desire to play in a pro-style offense he'll be leaving the state. 2018 GA S Myles Sims is another name to watch.