well that's just, like, your opinion, man
|WHAT||Michigan at Penn State|
Happy Valley, PA
|WHEN||6:30 PM tonight|
|LINE||Michigan –15 (Kenpom)|
Pat Chambers's prayers have not, to date, been answered. Picture via Onward State.
Penn State remains Penn State, the worst team in the league by some distance thanks to Tim Frazier's exploded achilles and the fact that Trey Burke is not in Happy Valley—considering alternate universes where that is a reality and Frazier is not hurt is a mindblowing pastime.
Ace's preview covers the Nittany Lions in detail and reality has changed very little in the intervening week and a half. DJ Newbill is a huge-usage player who puts up a lot of bad shots because he has to; Jermaine Marshall is the Robin to his Batman and also takes a lot of bad shots because he has to; anyone else putting the ball up is a good idea unless it's on a putback or it's Nick Colella getting a good look at a three.
In the first game, Penn State put Michigan's defense to as much of a sword as they're capable, putting up 1.1 PPP thanks to decent shooting inside and outside the arc and a 15/17 performance from the line. Michigan struggled to contain center Sasa Borovnjak on the pick and roll; he ended up acquiring 17 points without having to create in the post much himself. Jordan Morgan's presence will help cut those opportunities down—if he's healthy.
Other than that, there's a reason Penn State finds itself where they are.
Penn State is still without a conference win but it's worth noting that they do seem to have turned a corner. They have left Depressing Blowout Street for Wrenching Close-ish Loss Avenue, sure, but it is something that their last three games have been defeats by two, eight, and five points with the latter two on the road against tourney-bound Michigan and Illinois.
The Illinois game was a slow-paced grinding in which Borovnjak again picked up 17 points on efficient shooting—checking him will be important.
Four factors, conference only.
|eFG%||Turnover %||Off. Reb. %||FTA/FGA|
|Offense||41.3 (12)||19.7 (11)||29.7 (9)||31.6 (7)|
|Defense||49.3 (9)||16.4 (10)||29.2 (5)||61.0 (12)|
Though still horrible, Penn State has picked up almost a point and a half in eFG% since the last preview post in this space—they are getting better. Sort of. Thanks to their epic hackathon at Crisler they've actually gone 2.5 points in the wrong direction when it comes to giving up free throws.
Ace covered most of the fun stuff in the first post, but to recap, this is a team that shoots 28% from three and 41% from two and is 345th nationally at avoiding opponent free throws. Yeesh.
Stop the pick and roll. Major issues with this fueled Penn State's competitive first half in Ann Arbor, and those issues continued into the Illinois game until Morgan came off the bench and ran around and did Jordan Morgan stuff. Having Morgan healthy will help; it would also be super nice to see Horford and McGary improving in this department.
Keep 'em outside. Jump shooting is just the worst for Penn State. I guess an uncontested three is kind of bad but given the way these guys put it up, a jump shot is about as likely to lead to a transition opportunity for Michigan as it is points for Penn State.
Hit your free throws. Oh, there will be free throws. So many free throws.
Don't, like, lose to Penn State. Yeah man.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 15!
Chaos in the old barn. Minnesota beat Indiana last night, turning the Big Ten title race from Definitely Indiana into a free-for-all between IU, MSU, Michigan, and—ugh—Wisconsin*. If you're betting that Trevor Mbakwe beasting on Cody Zeller was the key, yup: Krang had 12 rebounds, 6 offensive, and went 8/10 from the floor en route to 21 points. Zeller was 2/9.
As for that suddenly open Big Ten race, here are the contenders' closing stretches:
- INDIANA: Iowa, OSU, @ Michigan
- MICHIGAN STATE: @ Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern
- MICHIGAN: @ Penn State, MSU, @ Purdue, Indiana
- WISCONSIN: Purdue, @ Michigan State, @ Penn State
Michigan controls their own fate for a share; Indiana has the toughest schedule but also a one-game lead. The MSU game this weekend is probably an eliminator. Go Iowa Awesome.
Meanwhile, the Gophers also secured their place in the tournament with that win, not that many people had them anywhere near the bubble. With a closing stretch of Penn State, @ Nebraska, @ Purdue they should reach 9-9 easily, and with wins over Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan State they'll probably be in that 6-7 range.
*[Ryan Evans is now shooting jump shots from the line:
This is why the Big Ten sucks at football?]
Turns out they SEC, too. Elsewhere in good news that went down last night, Florida got beat by Tennessee and will be off the one line everywhere once people get around to updating their brackets. Michigan will move back up to a #1 at Lunardi's bracket the next time he updates it, and the Gators are only a hair in front of Indiana on Kenpom now. This would be very good if Michigan could keep that spot.
Not that I put much credence in Lunardi's brackets. He's finally managed to keep Michigan away from teams they've already played in the first two rounds, but right now Michigan is slotted with Duke and #3 Louisville. Since Michigan is presumably #5, that's only S-curve order in his deranged brain. He's got Gonzaga with one of the top two seeds, which… I mean. Come on. Gonzaga does not have the schedule strength to be a one seed. They're 10th in RPI despite their record because their SOS is 66th—84th on Kenpom, but that's not what the committee will look at—and some school in a major conference is going to get hot and swoop past them.
LOLRUS. Michigan State went the somewhat shady route with their disposal of Dan Roushar, waiting until after Signing Day to deport the guy to the NFL position job that is apparently the birthright of any crappy college-level coordinator. (At least he's not assistant to the offensive line coach.) They are about to reap a whirlwind of karma, though:
Former Ohio State offensive coordinator Jim Bollman will be taking the same position with Michigan State, according to Football Scoop. Bollman worked as offensive line coach and run game coordinator at Boston College in 2012 after spending 11 seasons with the Buckeyes and was hired by Purdue as O-line coach for 2013.
And everyone who ever heard of Ramzy Nasrallah thought "I wonder what his twitter feed looked like in the immediate aftermath of this?"
Jfiekslemddkskwmemmfrmdkkwkdkdmdmdkoeoedmdmle RT @footballscoop: Sources tell us Jim Bollman is expected to accept the Michigan State OC job
— Ramzy Nasrallah (@ramzy) February 27, 2013
Bollman's not even a retread—he was OSU's OL coach until Tressel got canned and had one year as the head guy. He thought Joe Bauserman was basically on the same level as Braxton Miller. And OSU fans had been bitching about him for years for various OL issues from recruiting to performance. The only way in which this makes sense is if this was designed as a social media stunt.
If it's that, great job Mark Hollis. If it is Mark Dantonio's inner Oscar the Grouch overwhelming all reason, great job Mark Dantonio. Either way the forecast for Michigan State football in the near future is lots more years like this one, except with more mustache.
BONUS: Ohio State bros yukking it up about the Borges/Bollman matchup betray their Michigan obsession by not immediately going to Bollman/Greg Davis. Borges may have tried to use Denard Robinson as a dump truck, but one of the main complaints so far in his tenure is that everything is a deep ball. These guys aren't on the same plane.
BONUS II: Big Ten football programs have hired John Shoop, Jim Bollman, and Greg Davis over the last two years. To coordinate offenses, not pick out bagel toppings. I will not be breaking new rhetorical ground here by asserting this is why the Big Ten sucks. Northwestern is good at offense every year despite having no recruiting base. Take that, add draftable athletes on defense, and then find out what happens. In the worst case it looks like your offense is coordinated by… Greg Davis.
BONUS III: from an Eleven Warriors reader:
Very Big Ten move. I mean seriously SI, what?
Spring football '13 is the Jim Bollman OC of SI covers.
Etc.: Columbus wins "team I'd least like to go to" and "worst road trip" in Grant Wahl's survey of MLS players. Michigan won't wear the short-sleeved basketball jerseys the only incompetent Germans dreamed up. I've heard they will be wearing something. Here's this guy. Bacon on hockey's history. You like basketball graphs, right? Michigan has an abnormally low transition rate off of makes for how frequently they go on rebounds.
On the banks of the Red Cedar, there's a bunch of entitled 3-stars. I'm sorry guys. I know we're not allowed to look past games, especially road games against teams that made it kinda close at Crisler. But then it broke this morning that Sparty is hiring Jim Bollman for their new OC and, like, this IS the game of the year.
Yes I just said Jim Bollman. Let's check in with our favorite OSU blogger for a little perspective…
In his only OC season Jim Bollman took Braxton Miller, a veteran line he hand-picked, NFL talent at RB/WR & finished 107th in total offense.
— Ramzy Nasrallah (@ramzy) February 27, 2013
This opportunity doesn't come along very often so let's everybody just take a moment, collect yourself, then find your nearest Spartan and point and laugh.
How it works:
- I put up a winnable prize that consists of a desirable good.
- You guess the final scores of the designated game, and put it in the comments, preferably in the format of [M's Score]-[Opponent's Score]. First person to post a particular score has it.
- If you were the closest, we contact you. If not, go to (5)
- The desirable good arrives at the address you give us.
- Non-winners can acquire the same desirable good by trading currency for it.
- Seriously, you don't have to actually guess a basketball score to get this shirt. You can buy it.
About Last Time:
A nice ho-hum victory over a small Illinoyance. If someone doesn't get the exact score I start with Michigan plus a point, then the opponent down a point, then Michigan down a point, then the opponent up a point. And we've got a hit: lilpenny1316 with the crazy face gave the Illini a point. I'm giving him a Game…Stauskas t-shirt.
Seriously what's your explanation for this avatar? Is this you? It looks like something out of a kooky 1989 cereal commercial.
This Week's Game:
Nothing but a sibling affair, 4 o'clock Sunday. If we lose to Penn State tonight you have my permission to shoot me.
And the Prize:
Step right up, ladies and gentlemen. I present to you the finest in Michigan basketball squads since Rice and Rumeal and Vaught and Mills and Higgins and Hughes. Coming of the bench for that team: an Oosterbaan.
Career Totals for J.P. Oosterbaan:
Fine print: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (make it easy on me and write your score in digits with a hyphen between them. Deadline for entries is sometime within 24 hours before the start of the game—whenever I can get online in that time and lock the thread. MGoEmployees and Moderators exempt from winning because you can change scores. We did not invent the algorithm. The algorithm consistently finds Jesus. The algorithm spent 10 years as the Indiana of basketball, if that makes sense. The algorithm is banned in China. The algorithm is from Jersey. The algorithm's name has to be spelled wrong. The algorithm is not just a shooter. This is not the algorithm. This is close.
projection hazy, ask again later
An easier patch of schedule has stopped Michigan's losing business, stabilizing their seed. Meanwhile, two projected ones last week have gone down. Florida lost to Missouri on the road; Miami went down against Wake Forest for their first ACC loss.
The resulting brackets are uncertain about the top line for the first time in a while—Duke and Indiana are Bracket Matrix locks and then there is a ton of disagreement. Gonzaga, Michigan, Miami, Florida, Kansas, Louisville, Arizona, and even New Mexico get Bracket Matrix support, though a couple of those outliers are from dot blogspots (no offense to dot blogspots). Miami and the Zags get tentative nods in the hivemind. Crashing the Dance goes with Kansas and Florida, with Michigan in sixth.
On the other hand, Jerry Palm has dropped the Gators and 'Canes all the way to the three line and put them in a terrifying bracket featuring one-seed Michigan hypothetically staring down this gauntlet after an obligatory round one victory: VCU, Louisville, Florida. Yeesh.
Anyway, I'm eyeballing it and:
- Gonzaga's good wins are against Oklahoma, KSU, and Oklahoma State. (They've played half of the Big 12.) They have losses against Illinois and Butler and have a super-easy conference schedule.
- Kansas has a win against OSU, a sweep of KSU, a split against Okie State, and losses to MSU, Oklahoma, and TCU(!).
- Florida has blowout wins over Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Marquette. They split with Mizzou and Arkansas, and lost to Arizona and K-State.
- Arizona beat Miami, NCSU, and Florida in the nonconference schedule. They've got four Pac-12 losses and have not beaten a team headed to the tourney in conference save the OT opener against Colorado.
- Miami beat MSU, NCSU and Duke. They swept UNC and beat Virginia. They lost to Arizona, Wake Forest, Indiana State, and Florida Gulf Coast. They had some injury early in the season that may have hampered them, but Florida Gulf Coast? Seriously?
- Michigan beat Pitt, KSU, NCSU, split with OSU, lost at OSU, Indiana, Wisconsin, and MSU.
- If I'm the committee Michigan has the most understandable four losses—all these teams have four except the Zags—and has wins to go with anyone plus the attractive feature that no one battling it out for the #3 or #4 seed has beaten anyone they've lost to except Kansas. I am with Palm: if the season ended today they would be on the top line. It does not; Michigan will have to at least split the MSU and Indiana games to be projected a one before the Big Ten Tourney. Florida and Miami going down does give them some argument with a 3-1 record down the stretch.
Projected ones: Duke, Indiana, Michigan, Kansas
ark bid: remote possibility
Last win for IUPUI: December 27th. Binghamton: January 19th. Central Michigan: also January 19th. All of these are still unchanged since last week.
Cleveland State lost 50-41 to Wright State last week and is headed for a 5-11 Horizon record. Bradley remains a 500-ish MVC team. Eastern Michigan… was in Bracket Busters? What the…? Eastern is a .500 MAC team. I'm so confused. (By the way, remember that Ray Lee kid people unearthed as a possible late Burke replacement? He played eight games early and hasn't since. It looks like they're going to redshirt him.)
Western was also in Bracket Busters, winning against Pacific. They're nowhere near an at-large bid even now, but they'll win their division in the MAC.
Big sorts of teams
Notre Dame: L 51-42. @ St John's: W 63-47.
Played a Wisconsin special against Notre Dame, which we're defining as a sub-60 possession game in which neither team cracks a PPP. Pitt didn't even get 80% of the way there as they went 0/8 from three and got pounded on the boards. Rule: if Pitt gets pounded on the boards, they are going to lose.
As per usual when Pitt loses a game like this, a long stretch where their offense dies is the culprit. After taking a 28-24 lead with just over 16 minutes left, the Panthers scored six points over the next ten minutes.
The St John's win was a decent one against a .500 BE team. Pitt's excellent shooting D a came up against a team that can't shoot or rebound, and that was it.
SEEDWATCH: Dropped a spot on both sites we track here, down to a five—a tenuous five—on the Matrix and a six on CTD. Palm has them a 7.
Kansas State (23-5)
West Virginia: W 71-61. @ Texas: W 81-69. Texas Tech: W 75-55.
Three comfortable wins over teams K-State should beat. K State grabbed their usual ton of OREBs in all, shooting well inside the arc and turning the ball over a lot… you get the idea. Their PPP was 1.2 over the course of these games thanks to a ton of free throws and the shooting from two.
SEEDWATCH: Still a four on BM; CTD actually moved them down to a five. Palm says four.
North Carolina State (19-8)
FSU: W 84-66. @ North Carolina: L 76-65.
Florida State can't score with these guys this year, especially when TJ Warren is going nuts with 31 points on 18 shot equivalents and eight(!) offensive rebounds amongst NCSU's 21(!) total; the Wolfpack got back 58% of their misses. Game over, man. Florida State is absolutely terrible at rebounding, if you're curious.
Then North Carolina got its revenge. Too many turnovers for the Wolfpack and some ugly free-throw shooting—CJ Leslie was 0/4—doomed them. This one lurched around wildly, with NC State surging from ten down to take a four-point lead in the first ten minutes of the second half. Four minutes after that lead was established, NC State decided they'd done enough scoring for one game. They were not correct.
MCHOBBIT UPDATE: Back to the salt mines: ten minutes against FSU with two points and an assist; five minutes against UNC with one missed three, an assist, and two fouls to his credit.
SEEDWATCH: Five on CTD, Six on the Matrix.
Georgia: W 62-60. @ Florida: L 71-54.
Arkansas remains on the bubble-bubble and could get on the bubble by winning out. A two point home win over Georgia does not suggest they are going to do that what with games against Kentucky and Missouri left.
West Virginia (13-12)
@ Kansas State: L 71-61. Oklahoma State: L 73-57.
Y'all be bad at basketball.
SEEDWATCH: poppy seed muffins that get you arrested for opiods.
Games relevant to your interest that are on the TV and may be worth watching after the first ten minutes. Bolded teams are suggested teams to root for, calibrated for …
1) helping M win conference title
2) best chance for quality-win pile-up to help M seeding
3) greatest number of tourney teams from league
4) eff Michigan State
5) also Wisconsin
Was yesterday. K-State beat Texas Tech by lots.
Indiana at Minnesota, 7PM, ESPN
Nebraska at Wisconsin, 9PM, BTN
Florida at Tennessee, 9PM, ESPN
MICHIGAN at Penn State, 6:30 PM, BTN
Purdue at Iowa, 8:36 PM, BTN
Ohio State at Northwestern, 7PM, ESPN2
Gonzaga at BYU, 11PM, ESPN2
Alabama at Florida, noon, ESPN
Kansas at West Virginia, 2PM, CBS
Penn State at Minnesota, 3PM, BTN
Nebraska at Illinois, 5:15 PM, BTN
Miami at Duke, 6PM, ESPN
Iowa at Indiana, 7:30, BTN
Arizona at UCLA, 9PM, ESPN
Purdue at Wisconsin, 1PM, ESPN
Michigan State at MICHIGAN, 4PM, CBS
NC State at Georgia Tech, 6PM, ESPNU
I'm trying out a new feature of mouse-over tags so readers who don't get some of our references can get caught up. Underlined text has a tag. If the tag is a link then you've found a link. I appreciate any feedback on its deployment.
Left: Young Wolverines some of whom were recruited for power (Upchurch). Right: Power.
Chris Brown's recent article on Smart Football included a link to a 1997-vintage article by Bill Walsh (YTBW). Chris included it as a way of crediting Walsh for correctly predicting Tony Gonzalez would become a great NFL tight end. With Michigan transitioning further toward a Walsh-ian offense, I thought I'd appropriate the whole article to see how well Michigan's 2013 offensive roster matches Walsh-ian archetypes.
Before we jump in, you'll recognize a lot of what's said here from like every NFL draft report ever. Walsh's coaching tree perforated the league for years, and that meant the things he tended to look for in players became what most of the people making draft decisions were looking for. They've been repeated so often as to become memes, however I still think going back to the source can provide some insight into how Michigan's players and recruits are being evaluated.
This is all intended to help you do your own scouting when we publish things like Hello posts (lots of those coming up) and positional previews.
Tom Brady prototype, Tom Brady, Tom Brady with legs? --Bryan Fuller
Walsh Says: 6'3, 210. Having a strong arm isn't as important as an "inventory" of passes, although decent arm strength is a necessity:
"Arm strength is somewhat misleading. Some players can throw 80 yards, but they aren't good passers. Good passing has to do with accuracy, timing, and throwing a ball with touch so it is catchable…
"Remember, the goal of passing a ball is to make sure it is caught ... by your intended receiver."
The most important characteristic for a quarterback is intuition/instincts. He has to be able to sense the rush, make the right decision quickly and get the ball "up and gone," and handle progressions and broken plays with grace as opposed to a sense of urgency.
"The single trait that separates great quarterbacks from good quarterbacks is the ability to make the great, spontaneous decision, especially at a crucial time."
Walsh wants his quarterback to be "courageous and intensely competitive." He also wants them mobile and defines it thus:
Mobility and an ability to avoid a pass rush are crucial. Some quarterbacks use this mobility within the pocket just enough so they are able to move and pass when they "feel" a rush. But overall quickness and agility can make a remarkable difference. As an example, there were some very quick boxers in Sugar Ray Leonard's era, but he was quicker than they were and because of that he became a great champ.
Walsh's Favorite Wolverine: Tom Brady, obviously. Tate Forcier.
What to look for in a Scouting Report: High accuracy plus high YPA. "Makes things happen."
What you can learn on film: Doesn't make you nervous. Escapes from pressure then seems calm, not rushed. Sees something and reacts quickly. Receivers aren't making tough catches or breaking stride.
What could signal bust potential: First a warning on this part not to take it as "anyone who exhibits this trait will bust." What I'm saying is beware a guy ranked highly because this feature he possesses, which is a good thing to possess, may be overrated. Here it's arm strength—more an NFL problem than college since college QBs can learn systems and Navarre their way to great college careers with only one type of pass. Arm strength with no accuracy and a terrible delivery can turn into a great player if he's got an innate sense (think Stafford), but more often a coach will try to fix it and end up with a Dontrelle Willis.
How our guys compare: So far only Devin Gardner has seen substantial play against college defenses but we've gotten about a game's worth of Russell Bellomy too. Gardner's inventory has passes for finding Gallon 40 yards downfield, zips that only Dileo can get to, and even that Stafford-y thing he flipped to Dileo in the Outback Bowl. He has ideal size, and wins the mobility category over everybody not named Denard Robinson. If you give him a lane to pick up yards with his legs he will take it. And he MAKES PLAYS, those coming first to mind being where he runs around in the backfield defying sack attempts until something worthy of forward progress appears.
His weakness so far has been in that crucial "up and gone" aspect. His delivery has a long wind-up and that exacerbates a medium-to-mediocre diagnosis-reaction speed. Previous spring games when Devin looked really bad at this suggest it wasn't a few months as a receiver to blame, although that obviously didn't help. Gardner will live and die by his scrambling and ability to make linebackers freeze in coverage when he takes a step forward. He's not Tom Brady, but Gardner's package can equal a helluvah good college QB. An offseason as quarterback in a system designed to his strengths puts the ceiling high for 2013, and off the charts if there ends up being a 2014.
Russell Bellomy (right-Upchurch) in his few appearances last year—mostly the 2nd half against Nebraska—gave us a fairly strong indication of his abilities. He wins Walsh points by having a catchable ball, but there it ends. His apparent lack of arm strength severely limits the inventory, his agility isn't anything special vs. Big Ten defenders, and while you can forgive a freshman thrust into starting for this, he showed a lot of panic. I am skeptical that he can contribute on this level unless his arm strength improves as much as I expect his comfort will.
Shane Morris, now. Other than every scouting thing they can do with high schoolers, it's hard to say what he will turn out to be. The senior year performance and the thing that guy said in the Elite 11 about his primary read being taken away are marks against the Walsh archetype, but the size and arm and full inventory are there. He's too young to know if he will develop the rest.
Terrance Flagler, A-Train, Toussaint –Upchurch
Walsh Says: Needs to be big enough to take punishment and always fall forward, but "some smaller runners play big." He uses James Brooks but of course we've got our own exempli gratia. The 1B for backs is again, instincts, though he emphasizes getting "the first four yards within the scheme and then rely on instincts to take it beyond that."
Walsh puts a high value on durability, which maybe isn't as important in college where the hits are lighter and the roster is deeper. The other thing he harps on is instinct, mentioning he got burned on this with Terrance Flagler. This is the difference between Michael Shaw and Mike Hart.
After that he goes into bonus features. If he can block he doesn't have to come off the field in passing situations. He has to be able to catch a screen and the further down the field he can threaten as a receiver the more "dimensional" the offense becomes.
Walsh's Favorite Wolverine: Anthony Thomas. Always falling forward, instinctual enough to be a kick returner before becoming the feature back.
What to look for in a Scouting Report: At least 185 lbs., thick and squat. Numbers don't tank against high-level competition.
What you can learn on film: Defenders look like bad tacklers (subtle movements by the RB make him tough to set up on). Falling forward, durability, operating in small spaces. Lots of D-I ticketed RBs will run sweeps all the time because their speed is just unfair against high school DEs. Watch the inside and zone running.
What could signal bust potential: Beware the big backs who wrack up huge high school yardage by running through terrible tacklers. It's hard to tell the guys who can subtly shift their bodies to make themselves difficult to bring down from the ones who just truck over a division full of future doctors and lawyers. One strong attribute can sometimes dominate a bad high school league, but D-I football requires several working together.
How our guys compare: Toussaint has shown the instincts and "plays big" at near the extreme for smallness. He looked on his way toward being a zone-style feature complement until having the unluckiest year in recent Michigan RB history. Justice Hayes is like Toussaint except he's yet to show those instincts. Dennis Norfleet has the playmaker thing down but there's a major difference in size between him and the other guys. Norfleet was listed at 5'7/161 last year, and Vincent Smith was put at 5'6/175. Hayes was 5'10/183 and Toussaint 5'10/202. Norfleet/Smith and Toussaint/Hayes are different tiers.
Among the plowshares, thick-trunked Thomas Rawls saw extensive action last year. The difference between him and Mark Ingram is Rawls seems to miss his hole a lot—that "first four yards" thing is a problem. I haven't seen enough of Drake Johnson yet to know if he brings anything different. None of the above (who are still on the roster) have yet to demonstrate they're any better than mediocre blockers.
Two incoming running backs come with the Walsh stamp of approval. Green is already 220 lbs. and his senior highlight reel shows him doing a lot of inside power running and finding his extra yards. Deveon Smith is already Toussaint-sized and seems to have that micro-instinctual quality that Hart had. No idea if either of these guys can block.
[The rest of the offense after you JUMP]
It didn't take long for last weekend's visit to pay off, as Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake offensive lineman Mason Cole announced his commitment to Michigan this afternoon:
— Mason Cole (@MasonCole52) February 25, 2013
Cole becomes the first offensive lineman and fourth prospect overall in Michigan's 2014 class; he gave credit to a couple of his now-fellow commits for recruiting him:
— Mason Cole (@MasonCole52) February 25, 2013
His shirt is in the mail, I presume.
4*, #17 OT,
4*, #19 OT,
4*, 96, #4 OG,
While Cole is listed as a tackle by three of the four sites, he'll likely end up playing guard at Michigan. The services are split on whether he's 6'4" or 6'5", with listed weights ranging from 260 to 280 pounds. As you can see, Cole is a fringe top-100 prospect to Scout and Rivals, easily within the top 100 on 247—notably, the only site that has him at guard—and he'll presumably be somewhere in that range when ESPN releases their rankings.
Cole first emerged on the camp circuit way back in the summer of 2011, when he was a rising sophomore; Rivals's Keith Niebuhr tabbed him as a top performer at a National Underclassman camp ($):
This is someone who looks like he has a bright future, almost certainly as a tackle. Cole is lean and has great length. For his size, and the fact he's still young, he has quick feet and excellent lateral movement. His technique was as good as any linemen on hand either day. Cole's punch slowed or stopped numerous defenders. And he was smooth enough on his feet to effectively contain the speed rushers. His comprehension is high.
His success continued last summer, where he was one of the top prospects at a Florida State camp, earning this review from Rivals's Chris Nee ($):
Cole participated despite a cast on his left hand. The 6-foot-5, 267-pound offensive lineman is very athletic with quick feet and hands. He does a good job of establishing a solid base and using his arm length off the snap. He shows the quickness to immediately get out and on a defender. He also gains traction when blocking and sustain those blocks. With regards to his physical build, he may end up at right tackle or even offensive guard depending on how he grows and fills out over the next year.
Cole's athleticism stands out in his evaluations—here's a junior-year scouting report from Scout's Jamie Newburg ($):
Cole has very good feet, moves well for a big man and gets off the ball quickly. He's plenty long and could easily pack on a ton of bulk once he gets to the next level. Cole has a good base and bends well. He does tend to stand out of his stance and will need to work on staying lower.
Cole looks equally adept at run blocking and in pass pro. At times he's nasty and seems to finish off most of his blocks.
247's Josh Newburg (I don't care enough to check if he's related to Jamie) echoed the praise of Cole's feet, saying getting to the second level is his best attribute, and also noticed a mean streak in his game ($):
Mason Cole plays with a chip on his shoulder. On nearly every play Cole plays through the whistle. He didn’t get flagged for any late hits, but his aggressiveness does not go unnoticed. The opposing coaches complained several times to the officials that Cole was roughing up their defenders. His play reminds me of former Armwood star and current UF offensive lineman Matt Patchan.
Michigan is getting a lineman with a good frame, very impressive athleticism, and solid technique. Cole will need to add weight and get stronger before he sees the field in college, but (1) he's got plenty of time to do so given Michigan's depth and (2) you can say that about pretty much every high school offensive lineman.
Cole amassed 20+ offers before his commitment, most notably from Alabama, Arkansas, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, USC, and Wisconsin. That's about as impressive an offer list as you'll see a prospect have at this stage.
Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake plays in Florida's largest classification (8A); last year they reached the regional final before bowing out to Orlando Dr. Phillips. East Lake has produced just a couple of lower-ranked BCS commits in the Rivals era, but what they're producing currently should have Michigan fans excited—Cole is teammates with four-star WR Artavis Scott and 2015 potential five-star athlete George Campbell, both of whom have visited Ann Arbor with Cole. Cole and Scott—and potentially Campbell, as well—have mentioned the possibility of being a package deal; if so, Michigan is in a great position to land one of the top playmakers in the 2014 class, and perhaps one of the top players of any kind for 2015.
FAKE 40 TIME
No 40 time listed.
The only film I could find of Cole on YouTube is this short reel from MaxPreps—obnoxiously, they don't highlight Cole before plays, but he's #52 and lines up at left tackle:
A far more extensive reel is up on Cole's Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Cole is an impressive player on film and should be one of the centerpieces of the 2014 class, but he's got a long way to go before he sees the field thanks to Michigan's newfound depth on the offensive line—that's not a knock on Cole, just a very good situation for Michigan.
He'll take a redshirt, not only because he needs to bulk up, but because Kyle Kalis, Blake Bars, Kyle Bosch, David Dawson, and Dan Samuelson all project to guard from the two previous classes—it's unlikely any of those guys will move to other positions, too, since the last two classes were strong at tackle and Patrick Kugler is the center of the future.
/takes a moment to appreciate Brady Hoke's offensive line recruiting
As an upperclassman, Cole should compete for a starting spot. There are few guarantees when it comes to an offensive lineman breaking through that level of depth, and that's the best possible problem to have as a football program.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan now has four commits in a class that should be on the small end—currently projected to around 16, though that number should grow by Signing Day. The biggest need remains wide receiver, and Cole's commitment could help that area in a big way if he brings along Artavis Scott.