this may be of some local interest
How much further along is your defense right now than when you started four weeks ago?
“We’ve come a long way. We are obviously 14 practices in. Starting from scratch really in essence for the third year in a row, so the challenges were there, you know, and obviously my hat’s off to our guys. I thought they approached it in a positive manner. I think they’ve got a pretty good handle on what we’re doing. We’ve got a number of pressures in. The bulk of our coverage concepts are in, and I was able to kind of at least get all the concepts in. Not all the patterns and so forth that accompany those, but there will be nothing now that’s brand new to the guys. It’ll be a concept that they can relate to as we move forward.”
Guys were talking about how most of the stuff’s the same [and] there’s just the one new coverage. Whatever new changes you are bringing to the system, how do you think they’re adjusting to them?
“Well, you know, one of those concepts is pretty involved and there’s a lot of moving pieces and the players have a lot of accountability because they have to handle all the checks and so forth, and I think we’ve done a really good job of handling the responsibility and accountability piece of it as well as functioning from a concept standpoint. So yeah, I’m pretty pleased. And it’s really—you know, football’s football. The reality is football’s football. But, you know, that concept’s pretty different and I think the guys have handled it really well.”
You talked about the linebackers earlier in Florida about some new guys and guys who hadn’t proven themselves. How have they progressed over the course of the month?
“Well, you know, I think Noah Furbush has done a good job at Sam. Obviously we’re doing a lot with Jabrill and he’s logging some minutes there and doing a very good job. Ben Gedeon has had an extremely positive spring, so I’m excited about his progress and where he’s at. Mike McCray has stayed healthy and continued to take steps moving forward, as has true freshman Devin Bush. And Mike Wroblewski, we moved him from defensive end to linebacker earlier on in the spring practice period and it seems to have been a good move for us. He’s still got some work ahead of him, but he’s doing a very, very good job.”
How much of Jabrill’s time is now spent at linebacker? How much are you dividing it?
“Eh, he’s probably 70/30, but he’s doing a lot of things. You won’t see it on display Friday, that’s for sure, but he’s doing enough stuff that keeps his plate full. There’s no question about that.”
Seventy [%] linebacker, thirty [%] other stuff?
“Yeah, I would say about that. But, you know, it’s not gonna stay that way. It’ll end up increasing as we move forward as we’re trying to do things package-wise to offset the other people.”
[After THE JUMP: D-line rotation, Jabrill, the art of the mustache. One of those things may not have actually come up.]
When he’s doing that and he’s at that position—you said you had a player last year that did the same thing. Can you see him pick it up that quickly?
“Yeah, he’s already picked it up. He’s playing at a high level there, so I’m happy with him. From a coverage standpoint it’s everything we expected. I think he’s picked up the linebacker pieces pretty well as well. So, you know, making good progress, but like everybody else he needs more time, more reps.”
Are you able to do more creative things or different things than what you’ve done in the past with a player like Jabrill?
“Yeah, we’ll be able to do some stuff but, you know, that position’s always been occupied—you know, the last three guys are all in the NFL that I’ve coached that have played that position so it’s a pretty—you expect a lot at that spot. We’re gonna get what we expect. There’s no question.”
Who else plays that spot? Is there another guy who can do what Jabrill does?
“We’re playing Noah there, Noah Furbush. He can’t do some of those things, but there’s a number of those things he can do and we can function as a defense with him being there if we had to.”
Will Devin Bush see the field this fall?
“Uh, yeah, I’m not really looking at—I mean, obviously that still remains to be seen, but I’m very happy with his progress at Will linebacker.”
Do you have a term for that position that Jabrill and Noah are playing?
Jim said the quarterbacks will be live on Friday. What do you want to see from your defensive line now that they can hit them?
“Well, you know, we gotta rush the passer. The reality is you gotta get better against the same color jerseys. That’s the reality. We’ve done a good job, and obviously there’ll be some limitations from what we’re gonna be able to do from a defensive perspective. Which is fine, because you wanna find out who can win the one-on-ones and those kind of things. Gotta go get ‘em!”
MGoQuestion: With guys like Winovich and Kemp, do you see them sticking at End or do think they could also play a little bit at Backer* or Sam?
“I think Winovich and Kemp are both in the right spot. Obviously Carlo’s been here for a short period of time. We fooled around with him standing up a little bit. I think he’s in the right position now. Now it’s just a matter of, you know, like every other freshman he’s got to get his feet wet. He’s got to go through the learning process, and, you know, we’ll let that run its course.
Winovich is playing well at End. Obviously techniques, fundamentals he needs to get better at but we think we got him in the right spot.”
We’ve seen a lot in the last couple years about the defensive line and rotating because they said that they had depth and then by the end of last year there wasn’t as much. How many guys do you trust in that defensive line to rotate?
“Well, we’d like to be seven or eight guys. I mean, you certainly want to be a pair and a spare. You’d like to be up to seven or eight guys, eight if possible.”
What are you at now do you think? That you trust.
“You know, I think we’re approaching that number. I really do. Once we get through summer workouts and get everybody back healthy there plus the influx of the young guys, I think we’ll be just fine.”
Good to work with Brian [Smith] again?
“Yeah, Brian’s a great guy. He was a tremendous player, tremendous leader. Won a national championship as a player and helped me coach a team that went to the national championship game. I still lay awake thinking of Armanti Edwards from App State on occasion [Ed-A: same], but I’m glad to be back with him. He’s a great dude.”
I put out a call for mailbag questions last week and got a high number of responses, many of which are now moot after Michigan's scholarship situation got sorted out in the last couple days. I'm running this in two parts and I'm still taking questions for the second; you can email me or ask your question on Twitter with the tag #mgomailbag.
On with the show, which starts with a somewhat prescient Smoothitron question that came in before Ricky Doyle's transfer announcement.
Guard rotation concerns.
Am I crazy for thinking the 3rd guard is the biggest question mark on the roster for 16/17?
As maligned as the 5s have been, Wagner, Donnal, plus some modest improvement seems ...fine? Not to mention, there is always the longshot of whatever other 5s that are on the roster at that point breaking out.
At guard, we'll have Walton and MAAR playing huge minutes and freshmen+Dakich behind them. It will be bad news for us if Dakich has to soak up minutes, so Michigan will probably have to rely on a freshman to fill a substantial role, or potentially a huge one if injuries strike.
As successful as Michigan has been relying on freshmen contributors, it seems scary, especially for someone like me who now assumes there will be 1-3 devastating injuries every year.
Short answer: I'm still far more concerned about the center position.
[Hit THE JUMP for the long answer and questions about Moe Wagner and the outlook for next year's defense.]
NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional Final
Saturday, March 26, 2016
North Dakota 5, Michigan 2
Caggiula goal, North Dakota
UND 1 UM 0 EV 18:54 Assists: Stecher
Nieves notices Kile skating toward the slot but not the defender nearest him and has the puck knocked away. Stecher recovers the puck he knocked away and taps a pass ahead to Caggiula. From there, it's off to the races through the neutral zone.
Here's how Michigan's defensive zone looks as Caggiula crosses the blue line: one defenseman—Martin—back, and so only one man to beat.
Caggiula takes a fairly harmless shot from the high slot, one which Racine stops easily. The shot itself isn't that dangerous, and the only reason I can see taking it is Caggiula either assumes he can't get around Martin because he's gapped up well or he's assuming he's going to get a rebound; he's right about the rebound.
Martin tries to get a stick out and almost deflects the puck, but it does (barely) clear it. Racine's leaning back but ultimately unable to push up and back before the puck's in the net.
[After THE JUMP: the last six goals of the season]
def time to panic imo [Bryan Fuller]
A big thanks to our sponsors. The show is presented by UGP & Moe's. Shopping with them helps us and supports good dudes. Check out 100years.moe for the rich history of Michigan's oldest apparel store.
Hockey Postmortem w/ Anthony Ciatti
Where the program's at, which is not on North Dakota's level. Why things are where they are at. Anthony gets kicked off his beer league team for Drew Palmisano. Hire Mel. Hire Mel. Hire Mel.
Open Practice Recap
starts at 18:57
Behold Wheatley, shaker of worlds. The rest of the tight ends ain't bad either. Mike McCray revival would be very convenient. Yes or no on Channing Stribling?
Ann Arbor Minute &Gimmicky Top Five: Spring Game Hopes
starts at 38:05
What we want to see that will make us feel good about next season. A lot of overlap so I throw in a #6, which is also Ace's #6. Rishi stops by to remind us not to take M-14, because it dead yo.
Inside The Crooked Blue Line w/ Steve Lorenz
starts at 51:02
Recapping recent commits including J'Marick Woods, AJ Dillon, and Antwuan Johnson. Projecting future commits and previewing a massive visit weekend coming up in just a few days. Publicly worrying that if a player named "Major Tennison" escapes the state of Texas the entire space-time continuum will be disrupted.
We did not ask Steve for his Jabroni Of The Week, and for that I am very sorry. I am the Jabroni of the Week.
"Across 110th Street"
Allen Toussaint — What Is Success
Big Boi — The Way You Move
Lil Wayne ft. Jay-Z — Mr. Carter
THE USUAL LINKS
Ricky Doyle is out:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan men's basketball head coach John Beileinannounced today (Tuesday, March 29) sophomore forward Ricky Doyle requested and was granted his release from the University and plans to transfer for his final two seasons of eligibility.
"Ricky is a tremendous young man with very high character and plenty of potential to develop into being a fine college player," said Beilein. "We have enjoyed coaching him over the past two years and wish him nothing but the best."
After a promising freshman year Doyle's game and minutes evaporated as a sophomore. With Mark Donnal ahead of him on the depth chart and Mo Wagner coming on late plus two post recruits incoming, the writing was on the wall. Michigan is no longer over their scholarship limit for next year.
the world is a vampire [Bryan Fuller]
Exit Spike. This is not fair, to dredge up the sadness that I already went through once when Spike retired:
Michigan’s Spike Albrecht told ESPN he was granted his release today and plans to play next season elsewhere as a grad transfer.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 29, 2016
Bleah. Michigan has Xavier Simpson coming in and is already one over on scholarships after the Tyus Battle recruitment caused Beilein to break bad, so that was more or less inevitable. I would hope that Spike at least avoids Big Ten schools even if Michigan doesn't restrict that. (If they can restrict a grad transfer. It is not clear to me they can.) It'll be interesting to see if he lands at a major program or ends up at a mid-major because of the hips. It'll be fun to root for Spike if he's got 30% usage on a 14-seed. If he's at Indiana not so much.
I'm not hearing any of the many complaints about Beilein's roster management here. Michigan had a plan, and that plan is a good plan. Spike's injury is an event you cannot anticipate, and once it happens you've got a choice between carrying a third point guard for a year and shoving some other dude off the roster. No offense intended to Spike but this was the way to go.
The upcoming Deal. The Big Ten's media rights are coming up for bid in the near future, probably for the last time ever in a cable bundle world. Andy Staples surveys the scene:
If this were 2013, when the cable bundle felt as if it would stay intact for much longer, ESPN could throw money at the Big Ten for two reasons: The rights are valuable, and an exclusive deal for the league's first-tier rights would essentially choke out Fox and ensure that all of the best college games aired on ESPN networks. Under that scenario, the amount of money would extend into the ludicrous, as Fox would counter with a huge amount because it needs those games to attract viewers. …
This mega-bidding war likely won't happen for two reasons. First, networks will be constrained by the economic factors described above. Second, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany may want to split up the rights. He has fought his battles with ESPN, but he also knows the Worldwide Leader can stop talking about a conference that doesn't appear on its air. Meanwhile, Fox owns 51% of the Big Ten Network, so it is a valuable partner. … The Big Ten will still probably double or even triple the previous deal and cement itself as the highest-grossing conference in college sports.
And thus the amateurism model will become even more untenable.
Staples wonders about how long this deal will be; the answer will probably depend on the channels. The Big Ten should take the longest possible deal since by the end of it there's a strong possibility it's a boat anchor for the broadcasters no longer being propped up by little old ladies who just want to watch NCIS.
Please remember this if they go in a submarine again. Baumgardner:
I've seen Michigan's football team practice for a total of 16 hours this spring. Five practices. I haven't been around for 50 years, but it's probably safe to say this month has featured more on-field practice access than those previous 50 years combined. This sort of stuff doesn't happen around here. It really never has.
I only got to see four of those and even so they are quite an antidote to the antics that surround the program. I mean, it's not like it's a surprise that Jim Harbaugh is a football coach who runs football practices, but there are folks who lose the forest for the twitter blasts. In reality those take up about a hundredth of one percent of Harbaugh's time and the football takes up the rest of it, with occasional forays to Peru or Paris mixed in.
Anyway, this period of media openness is likely to end abruptly on Friday; Harbaugh will fill in the rest of the offseason with fluff* and then maybe evaporate for a month. Even so this period of détente with the outside world has been pretty cool.
*[Fluff like 140 characters fired off at Gene Smith that this dude in Cleveland managed to spin into a novella.]
Seth Davis is making easily rebutted points again. Scam-hawking, stat-hating Seth Davis is one of the most unlikeable college basketball media members around so of course he's going to write a long thing about how the NCAA is terrific and amateurism is too:
Yes, the “system” (whatever that means these days) needs to be constantly upgraded to deliver more and more benefits to the student-athletes. But many people are unaware of the extent to which the NCAA has reformed itself over the last two years to do a better job taking care of the players. Thanks to a new governance structure that allows the Power Five conference schools to take the reins, players are now permitted to receive several thousand dollars in stipends in addition to their scholarships to allow them to cover the costs of attending school. There are basically no restrictions on how much food the schools can serve. For the second straight year, schools are permitted (but not required) to pay the travel expenses of players’ families so they can attend NCAA tournament games.
That all sounds great, but Get The Picture points something out:
…all those improvements he cites in his first paragraph there came not voluntarily from the NCAA, but in response to pressure the student-athletes brought in the courts and with the NLRB. And those kids aren’t so stupid as to avoid noticing that pressure gets results, even with a bunch as stubborn as the schools are. After all, learning lessons is what students do.
Power 5 autonomy is more or less a panicked response to the lawsuits and NLRB unionization threats designed to hand out an incremental improvement in situations so that revenue athletes don't realize Jim Delany makes how much? and try to get some of that lucre for themselves. Davis says athletes are "feted like kings" like that's a point in the NCAA's favor rather than clear evidence that there's too much money sloshing around in the system because the workers aren't paid.
Hockey exits. No surprises yet. Werenski is out the door already; Downing is likely to be so in the near future. I guess it's good that we haven't heard about Kyle Connor yet—come on expansion draft caution—but I'm not getting the ol' hopes up there.
Hockey changes. Brad Traviolia talked to CHN in the aftermath of the Notre Dame move. One item of note is that this championship tournament model is dead-dead-dead:
Traviolia: The only thing off the table, I think, is the status quo. ... An all-comers, neutral-site format is not the best option for us. We can do better. We're not really leaning one way. We're open to the whole gamut. Whether we do everything on campus, whether we do a hybrid of campus and neutral site, whether we want to stand alone, and whether we want to work with other conferences. I think we want to explore all options.
Well, at least that makes sense as long as they don't go for that goofy super-tournament thing in St. Paul. "Campus sites," he said over and over again until he died.
Traviolia also pointed out that the Big Ten was an 11-team league for 20 years, so folks shouldn't assume they're going to add an eighth team just to add an eighth team. TBH I'd rather have the enforced byes a 7 team league brings than the scheduling compromises an eight-team league imposes… unless the eighth team is a compelling one.
Maybe that hockey eligibility rule isn't so ridiculous. College hockey has always been open to older players, and for the most part that's been a good thing. A higher average age has improved the overall level of play to the point where the NCAA is 30% of the NHL* and kept smaller schools in the hunt for championships in a way they aren't in any other sport.
That said, things are getting kind of ridiculous:
…more than two-thirds of the 2015-16 freshman class reached its 20th birthday before playing a college game.
That is two years after high school. You get one year in all other sports. The Big Ten wants to make that the cap, not three, and while the way they've gone about it is offputting I don't think the move itself is particularly drastic or uncalled for. (A lot of these guys who pan out in a big way will sign "early" with NHL teams… at 22 or 23.)
*[It's not that the old guys are getting to the league, although some do. It's more that the NCAA is more attractive as a developmental route because it's tougher than it would otherwise be.]
Etc.: More RPO is coming, specifically at Penn State. No night game this year. People are way more upset about this than I thought they'd be. Exit Steve Racine, puck magnet. Drew Sharp heal thyself. Exiting hockey seniors advise patience for underclassmen making decisions. Defensive practice takes from Touch The Banner.
The Dodgers have a TV deal that is costing Time Warner nine digits a year because nobody wants to pay the exorbitant fees TW is trying to extract from other providers. An interesting article from a couple years ago about John Beilein and how his players perform in the NBA.