if you seek an image of the most Wisconsin OL ever, enter here
Canton (MI) guard Cameron Dillard is drawing national attention—along with interest from home-state schools Michigan and MSU—and has already garnered offers from Buffalo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, and Western Michigan. The 6'3", 280-pound junior is a member of the ESPNU 150 and recently showed his skills with the nation's best underclassmen at the Army All-American Combine. I spoke to Cameron yesterday after he worked out with the one and only Mike Barwis, and we discussed his recruitment, his junior year, and working out with a man who owns pet wolves. Here's the full transcript:
ACE: How is your recruitment going, and which schools are going after you the hardest right now?
CAMERON: My recruitment is going real well, everything's turning out to be real optimistic with a bunch of schools. I think I should have a big spring coming up. Some schools that have come on real strong and are very close to offering, I believe, are Michigan State, Michigan, Clemson, and West Virginia, as well as some other schools.
ACE: Out of the schools that have been recruiting you so far, are there any early favorites right now, or is it too soon to make that distinction?
CAMERON: No, not really. I'm kinda keeping everything level. No favorites right now, at this point.
ACE: Looking back at your junior year, how did that go for you, and how do you think you performed and improved throughout the season?
CAMERON: I thought I did real well. Considering that I worked with Mike [Barwis], I thought he made me more athletic, more explosive, able to move better on the field, and get up the field better. I also worked with Lomas Brown on pass protections, which was a blessing. I've come a long way, I believe, from last year to this year in my pass blocking. I just continue to improve on that. Actually a couple coaches asked me how many IHOPs I'd opened in Canton this season, a little joke. But yeah, I think I had a real good season. I've got to continue to work with Mike and his staff and continue to get better.
ACE: In working with Mike Barwis, how long have you been doing that, and how does it help you in terms of—I don't know how many other athletes have that kind of resource, so how does it help you to work out with a guy who was the Michigan strength coach just a couple years ago?
CAMERON: You know, it's great. I definitely can't thank my parents enough for giving me the support to let me go there and train. I think it's continued to help me—I'm becoming faster, quicker, stronger. I just think it's improved my strength and my conditioning as well. Actually, a bunch of Michigan guys are there now: Molk, Van Bergen, Watson, Koger, Mike Martin, a bunch of those guys are training with him now, getting themselves prepared for the NFL Combine. It's definitely helped me push myself and take my training to another level.
ACE: I know you're working hard over there, but do you interact at all with the Michigan guys? Do they talk to you at all, or is it mostly business?
CAMERON: I talk to them a lot, actually. I talk to Molk and Watson the most. I haven't really got to meet Koger and Mike Martin that much, but Watson and Molk are always giving me a hard time.
ACE: You also mentioned working with Lomas Brown. He's obviously a pretty legendary NFL offensive lineman. How has he helped your game?
CAMERON: He's helped me improve my pass blocking and becoming that all-around player that schools are looking for, because I'm in a run-dominant offense [at Canton].
ACE: If you had to scout yourself, what would you say are your biggest strengths as a player, and what are you continuing to work on for your senior year and the next level?
CAMERON: I'd say that my aggression on the field, my physicality, you just can't teach toughness. Also, run blocking is a big thing of mine that I believe I'm doing real well at. I'd say my weakness—which isn't really a weakness, it's becoming more my strength now—is my pass protection. I've got to keep working on that and getting better at it.
ACE: You went to the Army Combine recently. How did that go for you?
CAMERON: Good. I performed pretty well. I had a 28.5-inch vertical and a 5.25 40-yard dash. They didn't tell us our shuttle so I'll have to check online for that, and then the pass protection, like I said, working with Lomas helped me improve, so I definitely improved while I was down there. I've taken big strides from last year to this year on my pass protection.
ACE: Do you have any plans in terms of any more camps, junior days, or summer visits, do you know what schools you'd like to see before next year?
CAMERON: Not really. I'm going to junior days right now, I'll actually be at Indiana this weekend, and then I was already at Michigan State in December. Michigan hopefully I'll be able to get up there in the spring for spring ball.
ACE: You visited Michigan for the Notre Dame game. What was your impression of Michigan from your visit?
CAMERON: I thought it was great, the atmosphere there—you know, that's part of my 'three A's' for a school, the athletics, atmosphere, and academics. I think Coach Hoke and the rest of the staff have done a fantastic job this season. I've got to talk to Coach Hoke a few times while I was in San Antonio and when I was at the All-State Dream Team banquet, and he's a real down-to-earth, humble guy. I like him, and I love being able to talk to Coach Jackson, Coach Mattison, and they've been real positive to me.
ACE: You mentioned those three A's. Specifically, what are you looking for in a school, what are the factors that are going to make you commit to a school?
CAMERON: Fan base, I would say, is one. Having the support of my family. Distance isn't a big factor for me. Academics, because I'd like to study criminal justice or sports management or history, something like that, so if they're real strong in that. Then athletics, if I have a real chance at playing early, if I feel like I'm at home, and if I can see myself best in that offense.
ACE: Do you have any idea in terms of a timeline, when you'd like to wrap up your recruitment?
CAMERON: Not at this moment, not right now. I guess whenever I get that gut feeling and I know whatever school is for me, I'll know.
Three straight! Trey Burke! Denard and 'Tree in the student section! JOHN BEILEIN DANCING TO T-PAIN!
Yes, Muppets are very much in order.
And you can't have one without the other...
Get off our court, in so many words.
Git it awn. Liveblog Chaos Mitigation Post is your friend; coverage probably starting around 6:45.
Let's talk about something else, yeah?
San Diego State
- FCS Cal Poly, 49-21 (W)
- @ Army, 23-20 (W)
- Washington State, 42-24 (W)
- @ No. 22 Michigan, 7-28 (L)
- TCU, 14-27 (L)
- @ Air Force, 41-27 (W)
- Wyoming, 27-30 (L)
- New Mexico, 35-7 (W)
- @ Colorado State, 18-15 (W)
- No. 10 Boise State, 35-52 (L)
- @ UNLV, 31-14 (W)
- Fresno State, 35-28 (W)
- Louisiana-Lafayette, 30-32 (L) -- New Orleans Bowl
Record: 8-5 overall, 4-3 MWC, 4th in conference
|Rush:||184.5 ypg, 30th||169.5 ypg, 78th|
|Pass:||242.9 ypg, 49th||221.7 ypg, 56th|
|Total:||427.4, 27th||391.2, 68th|
|Scoring:||29.8, 46th||25.0, 57th|
|T/O Margin:||+12, 9th|
Season recap: In 2011, San Diego State lost nine starters, their head coach Brady Hoke -- you may have heard of him -- and their bubble screen-hating offensive coordinator among others in their coaching staff.
Despite that, defensive coordinator Rocky Long, known as one of the key developers of the 3-3-5 defense, took over the program and led the team to eight regular season wins and a bowl game. While they didn't really beat anyone good, given the circumstances and school (San Diego State, fergodsakes), I’m going to go ahead call that a successful season.
The Aztecs lost decisively to three teams: Michigan, TCU, and Boise State, but those three teams had a combined 34-5 record in 2011. Their other two losses were decided by their kicker missing a pair of field goals (39 and 27 yards) against Wyoming, and Louisiana-Lafayette’s kicker making his -- a 50-yarder -- as timed expired in the New Orleans Bowl.
Kickers win championships.
Other items of note: RB Ronnie Hillman, who was last year’s fourth most prolific rusher in the nation, edged out Virginia Tech’s David Wilson by two yards to finish third with 1,711 yards, and that was despite Hillman missing most of the Boise State game due to injury.
QB Ryan Lindley had an okay season. He cut down significantly on his interceptions, throwing 23 TD with just 8 INTs compared with last year’s 28 to 14, but his QB rating actually dropped from 149.4 to 125.7. I’m guessing that’s what happens when you don't have WRs Vincent Brown and Demarco Sampson to throw to.
Best win: @ Air Force. They were the only team San Diego State beat with a winning record.
Worst loss: @ Michigan. All postgame reports indicate that they were so devastated by the loss to their former coach, they didn’t even make it to the presser.
At the time, we thought they were frightening as: Some convoluted analogy about ex-fiancées, which put them at around a 4.
But now we know they are as frightening as: About the same -- still can't figure out how they feel about you -- but when you meet them you find out they're two inches shorter and 25 pounds lighter than you are. 3.5.
What the win meant for Michigan: First the bad. Denard’s arm made us feel queasy again when he completed fewer than half of his passes (8 of 17) for the third game in a row, throwing for just 93 yards, zero touchdowns, and two picks. His QB rating of 69.5 that game was the lowest of his career as a starter.
But Borges ran him 21 times for 200 yards and busted out the speed option, which was kind of cool. Additionally Denard was in the middle of fighting a nasty staph infection, so extenuating circumstances and all that. Credit to Michigan's offensive line for bludgeoning through San Diego State’s wispy defensive line -- even the tailbacks, who were just so-so at the time, combined for 100+ yards to give the Wolverines their second 300-yard rushing game of the season.
What made this game memorable was the defense finally returning from its two-year hiatus. Michigan played bend-but-don't-break to perfection; San Diego State racked up 376 total yards of offense and entered the Wolverines side of the field nine times ... only to come away with just seven points. The Aztecs’ drive summary reads like this:
- Turnover on downs
- Three and out
- Three and out
- Three and out
- Turnover on downs
- Turnover on downs
It's a pretty sight when it happens to other people.
Hillman got his yards but fumbled away two possessions. Lindley was hurried all game and couldn’t get in sync with his receivers, completing less than half of his passes.
Many of you will probably remember that many of Lindley's incompletions were due to the emergence of Blake Countess, who made his debut in place of a struggling/injured Troy Woolfolk.
PBU. And Jelly.
Finally, we also got our first real glimpse of Brady Hoke the aggressive, calculated risk-taker when he went for a fourth down that robbed the Aztecs of a possession at the end of the first half. This decision and subsequent decisions of a similar nature helped redefine MANBALL and appease Lloydball-Hating Bloggers at Cook family tailgates everywhere.
And it totally felt as awesome as: Making it through the non-conference schedule undefeated for the third year in a row.
high, and low
Getting stopped was the straw that broke the camel's back. Press release:
University of Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke announced on Tuesday (Jan. 17) that wide receiver Darryl Stonum has been dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules.
"I love Darryl and wish him nothing but the absolute best," Hoke said. "However, there is a responsibility and a higher standard you must be accountable to as a University of Michigan football student-athlete. That does not and will not change. It's unfortunate because I believe he has grown a great deal as a person since the beginning of the season. My hope is that maturing process continues."
Stonum started 25 of 36 career games at U-M, catching 76 passes for 1,008 yards and six touchdowns. He also returned 62 kickoffs for 1,538 yards and holds the single-season kickoff return mark with 39 returns for 1,001 yards in 2009. Stonum redshirted in 2011.
"I appreciate everything the University of Michigan, Dave Brandon and Coach Hoke have done for me," said Stonum. "I look forward to continuing my football career down the road, but more importantly, right now I'm focused on graduating from Michigan this Spring. I understand only I am responsible for my actions. I'm sad about how all of this turned out, but I completely understand. I love this school and my team and will miss them all greatly. But I'll always be a Wolverine. I know I have grown and matured as a person over the last nine months, and I will continue to learn and grow every day. I want to thank everyone for all of their support, and I hope they will support me in the future."
Michigan now has a major hole at outside receiver with the departures of Stonum and Hemingway. Roy Roundtree will start at one spot; the other spot will either be Jeremy Gallon, Jerald Robinson, Jeremy Jackson, or some freshmen. Gallon will be needed for slot duties, so inevitably this puts Robinson and or Jackson on the field for a bunch more snaps. Probably Jackson; since Jackson is very much a possession type that will expose Michigan to the same sorts of athleticism issues that plagued them in the Virginia Tech game.
If Michigan knew this was coming it makes the Arnett situation strange; it was always strange they didn't take Devin Lucien last year; this may open up a spot for OH WR Monty Madaris, who is scheduled to visit next weekend and suddenly has a wide open depth chart to luxuriate in should he want to don a winged helmet. CA WR Jordan Payton committed to Cal at the Army game only to see his recruiter hired at Washington; Hoke has an in-home with him scheduled.
Yesterday, I highlighted one of the main issues with Michigan's offense in recent games: their struggles with the hard hedge against the pick and roll. When the Wolverines—especially Trey Burke—run a high screen, opponents have found success by having the man guarding the screener provide a strong double-team on the ballhandler, limiting his ability to drive to the basket and making passes into the post difficult.
There are several ways to counter the hard hedge, as discussed yesterday in both the post and the comments (thanks to all of you who added your thoughts—I'm not a basketball coach, so any additional knowledge about the game is very valuable). One such counter, brought up yesterday by MGoUser Kilgore Trout, is to get the opponent to commit to the hedge and then immediately cross back over, which should create an opening for a pass to the near-side corner.
Though he didn't execute it perfectly, and the play didn't result in a basket, Tim Hardaway Jr. provides a decent example of how to do this, and you'll be able to see the possibilities it opens. With teams over-committing to the screen, something inevitably must open up, and in this case several holes emerge in the defense. Here's the setup, as Hardaway has just received a pass from Trey Burke:
As you can see, Hardaway has the ball on the left wing, and Jordan Morgan is setting an off-ball screen for Douglass in the middle of the court—Stu will head to the near-side corner and Burke will clear out to the high side on the opposite side of the court so the team maintains proper spacing. Now that the team is properly spread out, Hardaway calls for a screen, and Morgan makes his way over:
Hardaway starts to dribble towards Morgan, but as soon as Melsahn Basabe (#1, guarding Morgan) jumps out to hedge, Hardaway makes a quick crossover dribble back to the near side—this is exactly how you want to counter Basabe's aggressiveness in this instance, especially with Hardaway's man already attempting to fight over the pick:
This opens up several possibilities. If Morgan was ready for the crossover, he could crash hard to the basket, forcing the defender guarding Douglass to slide down and vacate the corner or give up an open dunk (or the defender guarding Novak could do this—either way, a open corner three should be there). Morgan doesn't roll hard, likely because he hadn't fully set the screen when Hardaway made his move, and also because Hardaway will drive to the lane himself. Hardaway's drive accomplishes what Morgan's roll would do—force the near-side defender to commit, leaving Douglass alone in the corner:
Unfortunately, what you see above is where this particular play doesn't work as well as it should. Hardaway picks up his dribble before he gets into the lane, so when he passes to Douglass, the sliding defender still has time to get back out and force Stu to drive. I think if Hardaway takes another dribble, it would create enough separation for Douglass to get an open three, a much-preferable option in Michigan's offense (and especially with Stu, who's much more comfortable as a stand-still shooter than a slasher). As it is, the defender is able to get out on Douglass, and Stu drives and misses a pull-up jumper in the paint. Full video of the play:
As was pointed out yesterday, the biggest problem here isn't the play, but the execution. If Morgan dives hard to the basket, or Hardaway penetrates further into the paint, this play likely results in a bucket. Instead, Douglass is forced to settle for a contested fallaway in the lane when he doesn't have the space to get off an open three. If Michigan can execute this adjustment with a little more precision, however, it should help keep opponents from over-committing to the hedge defensively and allow the Wolverines to run the pick-and-roll more effectively.