I had commitment posts ready to go for these guys before my blogging software melted down and I lost all my drafts (recommendation: Mac users, avoid Ecto at all costs. All. Costs.), so full-fledged Hello posts for both commitments will be coming later this afternoon.
Muchas gracias for your patience.
There was recently some confusion about whether or not Illinois DB Anthony Standifer (6'1", 178 lbs) had actually received a Michigan offer or not. At first his coach had told him he did receive the offer, but it was later found that there was a miscommunication. Anthony told me that he spoke with the Michigan coaches today and they got everything cleared up. He says that the coaches have told him his offer is pending on his camp performance, and they will also be out to see him in the next two weeks.
By the sound of that it seems like he could very well have an offer soon. Here's a look at his highlight film and how he feels about Michigan.
TOM: Were you surprised to hear from Michigan this early on?
ANTHONY: Yeah I was very shocked and surpised when my coach told me. There are a lot of schools that are telling me they want to offer me once they see me in person at camp.
TOM: What other offers do you have right now?
ANTHONY: Northern Illinois, Toledo, Western Michigan, and Akron right now. I'm also hearing from Boise State, I just got an email from Oregon, and Iowa.
TOM: You're from the midwest so I'm assuming you are familiar with Michigan?
ANTHONY: Oh yes, I'm a fan of Michigan. My favorite corner Charles Woodson went there. The atmosphere at the stadium is crazy.
TOM: WIth Michigan contacting you so soon, does that mean anything to you? Does a school have a better chance if they start recruiting you earlier?
ANTHONY: Yeah, it shows that they have a high level of interest in me which is nice. They told me that they're going to be coming out to the school in the next two weeks so they're serious about it. I'm going to go visit the campus and meet the coaching staff sometime in May, probably the first week.
TOM: I know it's all really early, but where would Michigan stand with you if you were to get that offer
ANTHONY: Very high. Michigan is the best school to me. I look at it as an honor to wear a Michigan jersey.
TOM: You've been called a sleeper prospect, and for anyone that doesn't know a lot about you what kind of corner are you?
ANTHONY: I have good size, I'm fast for my size, good at finding the ball, I have good enough hands to be a receiver if I wanted to be, but I still have a lot of room for improvement.
TOM: Do you know how your recruitment is going to play out yet?
ANTHONY: I haven't decided yet, I'm just going to take it day by day for now.
Via UM Release:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan sophomore guard Darius Morris (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward HS) has submitted the necessary paperwork to declare for the 2011 National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft, but has opted not to hire an agent at this time.
Morris is eligible to return to Michigan for his junior season if he withdraws his name from draft consideration before the May 8 deadline.
"All my life it has been a goal of mine to play in the NBA and I am blessed to have the opportunity to take this step towards that dream," said Morris. "I look forward to going through this process with the potential of playing at the next level."
This is the next step in gathering as much information as possible to assist Darius in making an educated decision," said U-M head coach John Beilein. "As Darius considers his options we will continue to support him in every way we can throughout the process."
Morris, who was an All-Big Ten third team selection by both the coaches and media, helped the Wolverines to a 21-14 record and a trip to the NCAA Tournament third round. He recorded the largest margin of improvement in scoring in the Big Ten, jumping from 4.4 points per game as a freshman to a team-best 15.0 per game this past season.
Morris broke the U-M season record for assists with 235, becoming just the third Wolverine to record 200-plus assists in a year. He recorded just the third triple-double in U-M history with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists against Iowa (Jan. 30) and tallied seven double-digit assist games, including a career-best 12 helpers against Concordia (Dec. 6) and Bryant (Dec. 20). Overall, Morris led the Big Ten with 6.71 assists per game, putting him fifth in the nation.
In two seasons in Ann Arbor, Morris has started 53 of 67 career games, compiling 666 career points (9.9 ppg), 197 rebounds (2.9 rpg) and 319 assists (4.76 apg).
In not hiring an agent, he can choose to withdraw if he'd like. For a rundown on how the NBA Draft process, works, read this post. He's now gone into phase 2, which is beyond just showing interest.
The second half of Craig Ross's recap of the coaching clinic.
Borges and the Offense
Borges, unlike Mattison, obsessed over last year’s tape. This makes sense since the O was pretty effective for much of the year, and he wanted to evaluate what he had (particularly on the OL) to see what changes they might need to make. He noted (in a presser) that he felt that the zone blocking from RR’s tenure wasn’t a lot different from the style he prefers, but then said that they wouldn’t do a ton of zone. It is a part of the offense, but it sounds like it is like power was last year—a changeup. Borges has a lot more problems than Mattison even though we assume offense is going to be much better than the defense, because he actually has something that asks him to adapt.
Hoke made it clear that the “signature play” (their words, more than a couple of times) would be “power.” This is often out of a 21 package [ed: 2 RB, 1 TE—usually a standard I-form] with the FB kicking out/protecting the edge and the play being run through the A gap, with the backside guard pulling through the gap. Here’s what it looks like. The diagrams below were created by Borges when he was OC at Auburn and are found in Bill Mallory’s (and Don Nehlen’s) book Football Offenses and Plays:
[ed: Here's an excellent Smart Football primer. Also here is another diagram. Key player is the guy just to the left of the X representing the center:
That's actually a counter play that the Steelers used for a 75-yard touchdown in a Super Bowl a few years back. It's not "A-gap"—A gap would go right next to the center.
This won't be entirely unfamiliar. Michigan pulled guys last year. This Picture Pages covers a "down G" play—like power but with the playside guard pulling outside of the TE/tackle. Here's the C and frontside guard pulling against Indiana:
Here's an actual backside G pull on a power inverted read veer pickle sandwich (or something… Rodriguez's run game forced me to figure out/invent lingo every week):
Plenty of college spread teams use power. Here's seven minutes of it:
Yes, I am slightly obsessed with this. Also whenever this topic comes up I hear EA Kirk Herbstreit's disembodied head say "he used POWER… he used POWER… he used POWER." I'll stop now since this editorial aside is turning into its own post.]
Ideally, the back is reading the WILL who will be spilling over to the playside once he determines he has no gap responsibility on his side. If the Will pursues hard the back can even cut back to the weakside of the formation. Borges has said that they won't be in 21 and 22 personnel running power 14 times a game, but Hoke had a slightly varied message.
This Spring, power for the most part sucked against the #1 D, but it is clear that this is their primary running play. They run the Wildcat in a similar fashion. That has pretty much not been very good either.
The Borges article in the above book remains vital. My guess is he is still using slice plays: the slice pass, the naked boot and the wide zone. Funk says he has run the power for 25 years (he doesn’t seem that old) but he likes to run some zone also. He says, a la Landry, Bo and Lombardi, that they like to practice power more than it is used in games so that “the kids have seen everything a defense can throw at you and they are always prepared—we want to get to where they are always comfortable in blocking the play, regardless of defense.” Funk also said they will “never check to power” but they might check out of it.
On a personal level, Hoke has an extremely high regard for Funk. He implied that SDSU wasn’t very tough or fundamentally sound in 2009 but by 2010 Funk had created a different deal. Hoke says that Funk is the best OL coach in the country and, I have to admit, he is incredibly impressive.
At this point I don’t know what to think. I thought the offense was sketchy in the Saturday scrimmage. I thought offense was sketchy in the spring game. OK, Molk didn’t play a lot. Lewan didn’t play at all. These are two of our top three guys on the line. In both events the O was still working on reps as much as anything else. But I didn’t think either QB looked comfortable in this offense. Did the offense, really, look any better than the offense with Steve Threet in Year One of the Years of Complete Implosion? And, weren’t we running against the personnel that was the worst D in History last year? Well, everything has morphed. Wasn’t the D playing against a pretty damned good O from last year? Uh, yeah, except it was running a completely different system. [ed: DUCK!]
My sense/conclusion, though it is more mist than light, is that the D has truly improved. Part is experience. Part is growth by the younger guys, the natural progression. Part is Mattison and the HC’s focus on defense, not offense. Part is a scheme that gets guys in the right places. My sense/conclusion is also that the offense will decline, perhaps massively. Now, it is early. But doesn’t it feel like, as RR in Year One, that we are pounding a lot of square pegs into round holes? Doesn’t it feel like we have taken the best weapon in college football and hamstrung him? I can’t be right.
Place kicking remains a debacle. I have watched this a lot. These guys just can’t do it. If the frosh (Wile) isn’t the starter this fall we are (again) in trouble. Think four downs—not that I have any problem with that on just about any place on the field. But if you ain’t playing four downs from down 1—different deal. And, since no one but Pulaski High School is, well, we gotta get better here.
Hagerup, of course, isn’t a problem. He should be a better punter than last year and he was competent last year. He gets great hang time and doesn’t chunk them often. [Ed-M: provided whatever kept him out of the bowl is now behind him]
Punt returns: The coaches have tried a different idea re: training. Instead of hassling and bumping the returner (something I thought would have worked pretty well) the coaches are turning them around pre-punt and then forcing them to find the ball in the air, post punt. Another drill has them catching the punt with another ball tucked in one arm. Seems to be working or, at least, I didn’t see Junior, Dileo or Gallon drop one. Even when being turned around or holding another ball. Better than last spring. I will predict improvement here, for whatever reason, or only because it can’t continue.
KOs and returns I haven’t witnessed. Or, if I did, it wasn’t much and it didn’t register.
As an abstraction I could not (and still don’t) believe the offensive transition will go well in the short term. Now, Borges seems a very sharp guy. I have no concerns about his intelligence, experience or ability. His OL coach, Darrel Funk, is awesome: off the charts smart and personable. He seems less obsessed than Hoke about smashmouth football. He wants to be physical, but concedes that spreads are viable. He reminds me of Carr. Carr wasn’t a believer in zone blocking but was willing to be convinced and DeBo (plus Alex Gibbs) were able to convince him. Funk seems confident in his ability to teach any style. I am convinced he could teach anything, also.
I have zero issue with the hiring of this group. I am impressed. They stress that they never belittle or embarrass a player. Criticisms are constructive and positive. But they are more classical football guys who have inherited a lot of spread offense pieces. In this, I don’t see 2011 as much different than 2008. Lotsa round offensive pegs in square holes. In the long run, I have no doubt that Hoke will put high quality football on the field. But this might be three years away.
Facepalm of the last half-hour. Trey Keenan is a Texas offensive lineman with three stars, a Michigan offer, and a slightly shaky grasp of the recent past($):
Keenan admits he likes the direction that the new staff is taking the program. “I like that they’re going back to being the old Michigan and not the team that got beat by Appalachian State,” he said.
It's a good thing I set up a facepalm hotkey. Ctrl+Alt+FFFFUUU:
Dude is hardcore. Hey, look, it's the Little Brown Jug:
Just hanging out… uh… in some guy's basement on what appears to be a pool table. This would be the point at which we round up a posse and hunt down the varmit who stole our danged jug, but that would be pointless violence since some dude made a Brown Jug replica (and apparently that box) because he is hardcore. Auburn fans should try this: get some hardcore guy to make a replica of Toomer's Corner. Problem solved.
Come on, baby. Red apparently doesn't think anyone's jetting in the offseason:
Michigan coach Red Berenson said Monday he finished his postseason individual meetings with players and doesn't expect anyone to leave early for the pro ranks. The Wolverines, who advanced to the national title game, return two outstanding defensemen in junior Brandon Burlon and freshman Jon Merrill.
No quotes and frankly the Detroit News isn't an outlet that spends a lot of time on hockey, but… woo? It wouldn't be too outlandish: Merrill and Burlon are the only serious departure threats and both are Devils draftees. The Devils have a track record of leaving kids in college and have a number of D prospects a bit further along the development path than their guys at Michigan.
While it's kind of a negative that I can't think of a Michigan forward who would even think of an NHL departure at least we won't get blindsided, except of course we will.
Attention Shawn Kemp. You take any random son of an NBA star, have him commit to Michigan, and bam he's awesome:
I did not recognize Glenn “Trey” Robinson when compared to the skinny kid I watched last summer. Robinson was maybe 175 pounds soaking wet then.
Now he has a body that makes you envision a flying combo forward finishing strong on the offensive end with lock down ability defensively. Robinson did just that Friday night against Upstate. He finished at the rim, often violently, through contact.
That's the third or fourth early rave GRIII has picked up in the month or so AAU ball has been going on. In addition NBE lists Robinson at 6'8"(!), 205. Other first-hand reports like those of UMHoops think that's generous, but he's clearly bigger than he was when he committed.
Stats are bad (this time). I hate to disagree with a guy who goes back and checks out actual game film instead of talking about football players playing football, but KC Joyner has an ESPN Insider article that claims Michigan is going to have an "elite passing game"($) this year because of some shiny Denard stats that I think are silly.
Joyner splits Denard's attempts* into buckets by yardage: 11.9 YPA on throws of 11-19 yards, 16.4 YPA on throws from 20-29 yards, and 15.4 YPA on throws of more than 30 yards. These compare favorably to some guy you may have heard of:
A review of 11 of Ryan Mallett's games against SEC and bowl-level competition over the past two seasons found that the possible future first-round draft pick (and one of college football's top passers) posted an 8.2 total YPA, an 11.6 vertical YPA and a 14.6 stretch vertical YPA.
Robinson's 10 games include his three worst contests from last season with regard to passer rating (Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame) and exclude his two of his three best passer rating contests (Massachusetts and Bowling Green), yet he was still able to top Mallett in all three categories.
There are a number of problems with this analysis. One: it does not account for the frequency of throws. Mallett's Hogs passed 53% percent of the time; Michigan threw on 40% of snaps. Two: Denard's throws are heavily slanted towards short stuff. The "stretch vertical" number cited by Joyner consists of just 31 attempts, which is both a sample size problem and another equilibrium issue. Three:
A large number of Denard's long touchdowns were stupidly easy because of the system that ran so much and so effectively, often with Robinson himself. You can't point to 11 completions featuring safeties going "WHAT DO I DO /explodes" and extrapolate anything approximating Mallett's production. The opportunities above simply will not exist in an under-center WCO, leaving Denard to try to do this:
I love Denard like he is a combination of my own son and Olivia Wilde but I don't think he's making throws like that. Maybe "simply will not exist" is a bit much, but the amount of pressure Denard put on opposing safeties last year—and the interceptions he threw even when given reasonable windows—prevents you from divorcing his production from his system.
I'm not saying he won't be a better QB than he was last year. I'm saying the smart bet is on a significant reduction in passer efficiency if he's operating a WCO.
*[Attempts against Michigan's Big Ten schedule, ND, and UConn. Unclear why the bowl was left out. Probably because KC Joyner doesn't like watching snuff films.]
Get this man a cereal commercial. Don't tell that to Denard, though, who says "I really like this offesne and what we're doing" in a brief TSN interview. Also:
Q: Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison says he talks a lot of trash to you. What’s going on there?
Robinson: We have that love/hate relationship. I love competing against him. Every day at practice, he says something to make you want to compete.
Q: What does he say?
Robinson: He says, ‘You can’t throw. Can’t throw.’ I know he’s teasing. I make a throw, and I’ll say something to him. Or I’ll just look over and smile at him.
Thank God for Denard—whenever you're feeling ambivalent about your connection to the program because of the Braylon Edwardses of the world just think about Denard.
Um… thanks? Believe it or not, this is Jack Nicklaus trying to say something nice about Ohio State:
"I don't know what really happened, but I'll promise you that Tressel wasn't the only one that knew what happened," Nicklaus told The Plain Dealer.
If he's right pieces of the Ohio State athletic department will be slowly descending from the troposphere for decades. (Not that he's anything other than a very famous message board poster in this department.)
Etc.: Ace relates the story of his first game at Michigan Stadium. I'd play but I can't remember which game it was because I was small. The Hero Of Tiananmen Square (AKA John Pollack, king of futile Big House preservation attempts) puts out an awful book on puns featuring many awful puns. As per usual, he misses the point entirely. You should have gone to Vermont, but at least you didn't go to Iowa State. TTB outlines the 4-3 under in parts: line, linebackers, and secondary. Forward Thinking surveys the QB landscape in the aftermath of Zeke Pike's Auburn commitment. If you didn't get enough carpet-bombing of former players who have fallen back in love with Michigan football, Mets Maize is over Avignon right now.
Fantastically bizarre and apropos Google image search for "Cullen Christian."
So… yeah. I learned my lesson from the Great McGuffie Saga and won't say this is 100% happening because people change their minds, but a couple solid sources indicate Cullen Christian is asking for his release today and plans to transfer.
That would obviously be bad. We've got massive collages that no longer have room for all the guys Michigan has lost prematurely in the secondary over the last few years that are already out of date since Ray Vinopal decided to peace out earlier in spring. Christian, a consensus top 100 guy, was the highest-rated corner on the roster after Justin Turner's departure*. Despite that he struggled immensely when forced onto the field last year, was obviously behind both of his classmates, and was supposedly running third team in spring despite the absences of Troy Woolfolk and JT Floyd. So the impact on this year's team wouldn't be great.
However, even if he seemed well on his way to Bolivian he could have moved to safety or something. At this point walk-ons leaving the secondary make me cringe—losing the sole touted corner on the team is not so good.
Again, disclaimers about people changing their minds or whatnot but this is so totally happening (probably). Ten million dollars the eventual destination is Pitt, right?
DEFINITELY NOT BONUS: I don't have a second source on this one so file this under strong rumor, but DJ Williamson is also supposed to be on the way out. Williamson was a track star who also played football and I'm not sure anyone had super-high hopes for him (he was a two star on one site) but there was always the off chance he'd be Mario Manningham or something. His departure would highlight how weird dumping Devin Lucien was.
*[Boy, does our imaginary secondary kick ass!]
UPDATE: Christian's transfer is official($).