chance of bowl: 13.6%
My vote: the OTHER Big Chill at the Big House
We've been collecting unheralded diaries for several weeks. Let's herald them.
[TRUMPETS OF HERALDRY: bah dah dah dah dah dit daaaaaaaah!]
Michael Scarn asks the big question: if college sports are corrupt and we hate the guys who are running them, do we continue to go? I say go, and grumble. My thing about my dad was 5% inspired by this diary, because my response to it that I didn't write had about the same point: the complaints are valid but they're not the whole thing or even most of the thing. Most of the thing is kids from your college are playing on recently reattached ACLs and you're on a bench next to someone who will never forget being next to you on that bench on that day.
Money talks but it's not the only thing that does so. Write emails. Call into WTKA. Attach a strongly worded letter with your check explaining this is the last one they'll get. No matter how unreasonable they seem, keep giving them every chance to be reasonable.
Mich1993 has been going over the depth chart to see how the recovery's coming from Michigan's Notriguez-to-Rodriguez-to-Notriguez adventure. In Part I he went over the various position groups; CB, LB, and DE appear fine but safety and DT are "mild concerns." On offense the skill positions are strengths and the meaty parts look awfully uncooked. Part II compares it to the depth of 2013 and expected depth of 2015.
LSAClassof2000 put together a thing not nearly enough of you read that compares the SEC and Big Ten's volume of contribution to the NFL. Brian already linked the one where he showed Michigan was one of the top NFL producers in the '90s and now is Minnesota. The aggregate shows us falling behind.
We just passed Alabama who's going just as swiftly in the other direction. Hi Alabama. Tell Nebraska hello for us when you see him and we'll do the same to Auburn.
Guides to other sports. Since soccer is now Germany's sport everybody start calling soccer things German words:
Soccer is no longer "Football", it is now Fußball.
A Team is no longer a "Side", it is now a Mannschaft.
A Game is no longer a "Match", it is now a Spiel.
Reshp1 is watching the Tour de France, or as my agricultural consultancy business family members call(ed) it: "Le Tour de Corn" because they use it to gauge how European corn is growing this year.
Yes I do mean cycling is less interesting than watching corn grow.
I used to know a guy who rode his bicycle across part of the U.S. that included South Dakota, and who used the ride across South Dakota to write a song called "I Won't Cry When I Leave South Dakota." Look for sadeto's hit single "There's Nothing Between Lansing and Grand Rapids" in a month or so.
[jump for controversy on the board]
[Update 7/17: New promo game for MLB (for tomorrow's games). Also, the way we're getting the copies to you is Larry sends me a chunk of emails a few times a day and I handle them all at once. The last group was from 6pm last night so if you've done the deal since then the book's on its way.]
Longtime readers should by now be quite familiar with our longstanding relationship with fantasy partner, Draftstreet. This week Larry called me to let me know they're merging with the other big fantasy site, Draft Kings. We've been playing and promoting Draftstreet's games for awhile because we like the guys—like us their whole business outlook is to put all of their thought and effort into the users' experience. During the course of that relationship Larry lamented a few times that Draft Kings really had the same outlook as they did, plus some software geniuses he envied.
This was inevitable: the two Drafts have merged into one great realm of daily and weekly fantasy sport awesomeness.
What this means
Promo? Of course. Two actually, and not mutually exclusive.
Try the MLB Game
Follow this link or any of those above to the game. Details:
Deposit $5 or More to Get a Free Digital Copy of HTTV Right Now
Same link. Whether you're a first-time user, played the free games before, or one of the jerks who took my money from me all March, if you add at least $5 to your account and came from our link, I'll e-mail you shortly after to send you a free digital copy of Hail to the Victors 2014 which we gave to our Kickstarter backers and which print version is currently awaiting the heating of presses (but is now available for pre-sale).
- Follow the link to Draft Kings.
- They'll send me your email. In clumps.
- I email you (when I'm not sleeping or having dinner or some such) to ask if you want a 10 mb file attached to that or another email address, or a link and instructions to download it.
- You get a DRM-free PDF of the book you can use on any device, write on, or whatever.
Larry's Still Our Guy
Larry's still our guy. ANY problems email him at email@example.com.
The goal of Draftageddon is to draft a team of Big Ten players that seems generally more impressive than that of your competitors. Along the way, we'll learn a lot of alarming things, like maybe Maryland is good? Full details are in the first post.
PREVIOUSLY ON DRAFTAGEDDON
- Everyone not grabbing dual-threat senior QBs grabs defensive linemen
- Seth takes Venric Mark in front of just about everyone
- Nothing terribly remarkable happens
- BISB takes all the guys I want
- A ridiculous amount of time is spent discussing the merits of one particular interior lineman from Rutgers
- WILDCARD TIME as Brian takes a quarterback despite already having a quarterback.
- Peppers drafted in WILDCARD TIME II.
- Someone drafts an Illinois defender! I know!
- BISB goes Maryland crazy, reminds us all that he has Kurtis Drummond eighty-five times.
ROUND 19 - PICK 2: Levern Jacobs, WR, Maryland
O: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Ameer Abdullah (NE), WR Devin Funchess (U-M), WR Levern Jacobs (MD), SLOT Dontre Wilson (OSU), TE Maxx Williams (MN), LT Brandon Scherff (IA), LG Kaleb Johnson (RU), RT Tyler Marz (WI)
D: WDE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), SDE Andre Monroe (MD), NT Darius Kilgo (MD), DT Adolphus Washington (OSU), OLB Chi Chi Ariguzo (NW), OLB Matt Robinson (MD), CB Desmond King (IA), S John Lowdermilk (IA), S Jarrod Wilson (U-M), HSP Earnest Thomas III (IL)
ST: KR/PR Ameer Adbullah (NE)
ACE: With the return of Stefon Diggs and Deon Long from injury, not to mention Maryland's less-than-stellar quarterback situation, I'll admit to being hesitant to make this pick. After all, while Levern Jacobs led the team in receiving in 2013, he did so while making just four starts, all after Diggs and Long went down (he would've made a fifth, but a concussion held him out of the Virginia Tech game). After the spring, Jacobs sits behind Diggs on the depth chart, as expected. Nigel King, though much less impressive statistically, is slated to start across from Long on the outside so the Terps aren't trotting out a South Carolina-esque Lollipop Guild of starting receivers. Taking Jacobs, admittedly, is a risk.
It's a calculated risk, however. Without the benefit of Diggs and Long taking attention away from him, nor the chance to pad his stats with starts against the non-conference dregs, Jacobs still caught 46 of his 71 targets (64.8%) on a team that completed just 55.3% of its passes, and these weren't just dink-and-dunks—he averaged nine yards per target and 13.9 per reception.
His huge game against Clemson is what convinced me to make the pick. The normal starting QB, CJ Brown, sat out with an injury. Brown's replacement, Caleb Rowe, went just 19-of-45 for 282 yards with three TDs to two INTs in that game. On the year, Rowe completed just 48% of his passes. He was not a very good quarterback.
Jacobs caught eight of those 19 completions for 158 yards and this touchdown, which shows that one false step against him will lead to DEATH. He's dynamite after the catch, with that Breaston-style long stride and some nifty moves in tight spaces. Any concerns about his hands, meanwhile, should be alleviated by his catch rate and this:
Jacobs caught 34 passes over his final five games, capped off with a seven-catch, 100-yard effort against Marshall in the Military Bowl; that game featured a touchdown in which he displayed excellent route-running, finding the hole in the middle of the defense with a couple sharp cuts and easily outrunning everyone to the goal line, as well as a great bailout of his QB. He's not at all afraid to go over the middle or go up for the ball in traffic, and when he gets the ball in space it's a freakin' laser show.
While Jacobs is primarily a slot receiver, I could get away with a Funchess/Jacobs/Wilson receiving corps, and with Wilson fully capable of lining up in the backfield my last skill slot is probably getting used on an outside receiver anyway. And if you think I haven't considered the Wildcat possibilities with Abdullah and Wilson (and even Jacobs, who got a couple jet sweeps last year and even took a triple option pitch for a solid gain in the bowl game), well, think again. Even if Jacobs sees a drop in his production this fall with Diggs taking away a lot of his snaps, he's the best big-play threat left on the board, and I get the feeling Maryland will find a way to get the ball in his hands after his breakout sophomore year.
Round 19, Pick 3 - Pat Elflein, OG, OSU
O: QB Devin Gardner (UM), RB Jeremy Langford (MSU), RB Tevin Coleman (IU), WR Kenny Bell (Neb), WR Shane Wynn (IU), WR Deon Long (MD), OT Donovan Smith (PSU), OT Jack Conklin (MSU), OG Pat Elflein (OSU), C Austin Blythe (Iowa)
D: DT Louis Trinca-Pasat (Iowa), DE Joey Bosa (OSU), DE Noah Spence (OSU), LB Jake Ryan (UM), LB Mike Hull (PSU), CB Sojourn Shelton (Wisky), CB Jabrill Peppers (UM), S Kurtis Drummond (MSU), S Sean Davis (MD)
ST: Bell (KR), Peppers (PR)
BISB: It's fun when you can predict the exact reaction your fellow drafters will have to a pick. In this case, that reaction is almost certainly a momentary "lol, THAT GUY?" and then an attempt to snark before realizing 'I know nothing about that guy.' And then they watch this film of him against Michigan State (he's the right guard, #65 in your program), and they're like 'eh, I guess he looks pretty good.'
When starting guard Marcus Hall... uh... departed the Michigan game, it seemed like it might actually create a weakness in Ohio State's otherwise solid line. After all, OSU's OL depth is a questionable proposition. And yet Carlos Hyde still ran the ball straight up the gut 27 times for 226 yards. How? Sophomore Pat Elflein stepped in and had a really, really good game. And when Urban Meyer suspended Hall the following week against Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game for his "Notable Moment," Elflein played even better, and Ohio State ran for 273 yards at 6.8 YPC. Elflein did everything. He pulled. He pass blocked. He down-blocked. He wham-blocked. He worked to the second level. He made thousands of curly fries. And if we're talking about trials by fire, having your first start on the interior be against Michigan State is about as much as you can ask of a lineman.
He's mobile and engages well in the run game, and does a good job of sealing defenders and getting angles. He sinks well in pass sets, and is strong enough to keep his form against interior linemen. He's definitely a guard at 6'3, 300, though Ohio State seems to think he's pretty versatile as they had him repping at right tackle last year. He's one of only two guaranteed starters on OSU's OL next year along with Taylor Decker.
[AFTER THE JUMP: it's a run on guards. Get it? I don't. Help me.]
Last week we took a look at run defenses, and concluded that Rutgers isn’t the steaming pile of hilarity we’re all expecting. This week, we’re taking the same look at pass defenses. Spoiler alert: Rutgers IS the steaming pile of hilarity we’re all expecting. If not steamier and… uh… more pile-like. The question at hand is as follows: who will have the best pass defense in the Big Ten in 2014?
If you’ve forgotten, we’re just taking a simple two-step process: we look at how good teams were last year at a thing, and we look at attrition among the folks responsible for the thing. Our key assumptions are as follows:
- Experience is good and, all other things being equal, makes things better than they were.
Were they good last year?
Again, this is the easier piece.
Yards per attempt allowed, adjusted for sacks: YPA is generally considered the statistical gold standard for overall goodness of passing games, so it is a pretty useful stat for demonstrating pass defense (It is almost certainly superior to cumulative stats. Yards per game can be misleading based on differing numbers of attempts; Purdue was middle of the pack in terms of YPG allowed, but that’s only because they faced fewer passes because their run defense was so ungodly atrocious, and they were usually behind, so offenses didn’t really feel the need to throw the ball).
We've adjusted for sacks, counting a sack as a pass attempt, which makes sense because if you drop back five times, and complete one pass for 10 yards while getting sacked four times, your yards per attempt should really reflect the fact that attempting to pass went poorly most of the time.
|Team||YPA - sack adj.|
Passing S&P+ Defense: Click the link for a thorough explanation, but it is an advanced statistical model analyzing what defenses allow on a given play against what you would expect. Advantages are that it takes opponent strength into account, it factors in sacks, and it filters out garbage time. Numbers are national rankings.
20+ yard passing plays per game: Completions happen. A team will often gladly offer an opponent a 10 yard completion on 3rd and 17. But 20+ yard completions are a strong indication of a pass defense prone to breakdowns, and one that cannot do the thing it is trying to do.
|Team||20+ yard passes/game|
Sacks per game: Sacks can be either a cause of good pass defense or a symptom of good pass defense. A quality pass rush will lead to better defensive results when the opponent tries to pass the ball (see: Nebraska and Ohio State), and solid coverage will lead to more chances for the pass rush to get home with “coverage sacks” (see: Michigan State). It’s hard to separate the two causal possibilities, but for our purposes we don’t need to. They’re both good.
Putting it together
Here is how the teams shake out in rough order of how they fared in the above categories, with emphasis on the first two categories.
Like last week the teams generally break out into four tiers:
MSU – MSU.
- Again, they get their own tier because obviously.
Pretty Good – Iowa, Wisconsin.
- Great YPA numbers, minimized big plays, didn’t get home much on pass rush.
Meh - Penn State, Maryland, Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern, Minnesota.
- The great undifferentiated mass of mediocre pass defenses. All allowed between 5.87 and 6.30 YPA (other than Maryland, who played a weaker schedule last year). All but Northwestern had S&P+ pass rankings between 41st and 64th.
Butt (NJB) – Purdue, Rutgers, Indiana, Illinois.
- If you’re curious, all four of these teams performed comparably with, and perhaps even worse than, Michigan’s 2010 pass defense.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Attrition tolls for thee. If thee be Ohio State or Nebraska]
Note: I'll be off for the next week for a vacation that serendipitously coincides with the Art Fair invasion of Ann Arbor. Have a great week, everyone. Townies, get out while you still can.
HTTV is out, Draftageddon is in full swing, and there's nary a non-baseball sport happening right now.* Armed with the knowledge from those first two and the boredom of the third, it's as good a time as ever to do some football opponent overviews. After doing extensive—some would say excessive—amounts of research on Michigan's opponents, here are the five most dangerous position groups the Wolverines are slated to face this year, plus one with the potential to be very good that I felt obligated to include since I had zero non-conference opponents on the list. Let's begin with the obvious.
Ohio State's Defensive Line
Joey Bosa, Adolphus Washington, Michael Bennett, Noah Spence. All four were composite top-60 overall recruits; Washington and Spence were both consensus five-stars, and the other two are already proven collegiate stars after Bosa emerged as one of the best freshmen at any position in the country last year. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better starting front four in the country; only Washington is a new starter, and he's talented enough that last year's starting DT, Joel Hale, volunteered to move to offensive guard this offseason after refusing the same switch a year prior.
As SBNation's Bill Connelly noted in his Ohio State preview, the Buckeye defensive line was surprisingly mediocre by advanced metrics last year, both because of the ugly play in the back seven and a lack of quality depth behind the starters up front. After losing All-American linebacker Ryan Shazier and top cornerback Bradley Roby to the NFL, the former issue may still be, well, an issue. The depth along the line, however, should be better this year; Tommy Schutt, Michael Hill, and Donovan Munger provide plenty of talented options at defensive tackle, while redshirt freshman Tyquan Lewis and blue-chip true freshman Jalyn Holmes should give the Buckeyes two quality backups in addition to senior Steve Miller, who had three sacks in limited time last year.
At the very least, this is a unit that will be very tough to handle in passing situations. If the addition of defensive coordinator Chris Ash shores up the problems that plagued OSU's run defense—tackling with arms would be a good place to start—then this could be a group that keeps offensive coordinators up at night.
|Yeah, it would've been nice to get this guy (via)|
Injuries limited Maryland's two best receivers to just seven games apiece last season. In the midst of such turmoil, however, the Terrapins found they had tremendous depth out wide, and the experience their backups-turned-starters gained last year will prove quite valuable in 2014.
The headliners, of course, are former five-stars Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, who both would've been serious threats to crack the 1,000-yard mark in 2013 if their seasons weren't cut short. Both are now healthy, and they give Maryland the most explosive pair of receivers in the conference.
The supporting cast is stellar, as well. Levern Jacobs emerged as the team's go-to guy when Diggs and Long went down, recording 46 catches for 640 yards on a very impressive 9.0 yards per target; that wasn't the product of the more hyped receivers taking attention away from Jacobs, either, as he recorded two 100-yard efforts as the team's top option. Sophomore-to-be Amba Etta-Tawo was just as explosive (9.1 YPT) on 31 receptions—he also surpassed the century mark twice in the latter half of the season. 6'3" junior Nigel King (33 receptions, team-high four TDs) gives the team a bigger possession receiver, while fellow junior Marcus Leak reportedly excelled in the spring.
There are only a few issues with this group, two of which aren't their fault. Quarterback C.J. Brown is a dual-threat type with some accuracy issues—his middling 59% completion rate in 2013 was still a major improvement over his 49% mark in 2011 (he missed 2012 due to injury). There's the question of how to keep all these receivers happy—there are five proven targets and only one ball to go around. Then there's the issue actually inherent in the receiving corps: among the players listed above, only King stands above 6'1", and Maryland had serious issues scoring touchdowns in the red zone last year. A below-average offensive line had a lot to do with that problem, however, making this some serious nit-picking. This is an outstanding group that has so many options they'll expose any secondary with a major weak point.
Penn State's Tight Ends
|Three PSU TEs caught at least 15 passes in 2013 (via)|
While Allen Robinson deservedly drew most of the attention among Penn State's pass-catchers in 2013, QB Christian Hackenberg was fortunate to have a group of three excellent tight ends—Jesse James, Kyle Carter, and Adam Breneman—all of whom return this fall. Each caught at least 15 passes last year, and their collective numbers should go up as the Nittany Lions look to replace Robinson's 97(!) receptions.
At 6'7", 257 pounds, James provides a huge target, solid blocking, and the most game experience at the position. With eight TDs over the last two years, he's a major threat in the red zone, and he'll be a starter either in name or function.
The other starter—given PSU's personnel, they'll trot out a ton of two-TE sets—should be sophomore Breneman, who displayed NFL potential last year after recovering from a torn ACL that cost him his senior season of high school ball and five-star status on the recruiting sites. He bounced back to catch 15 of his 19 targets for 186 yards (a team-high 9.8 YPT) with three touchdowns; he can split out, work the middle of the field, and like James he must be accounted for near the end zone.
Breneman ate into a serious amount of Carter's production last season. Carter recorded 36 receptions, second on the team despite playing just nine games, as a freshman in 2012; last year, that number dipped to 18, and Breneman is poised to take on an even bigger role now that he's well removed from the ACL injury. That makes Carter by far the best #3 tight end in the conference, and you can bet James Franklin and Co. will find ways to utilize such a deep position group.
Michigan State's Secondary
|No, BiSB, I refuse to put another picture of Kurtis Drummond on this site (via)|
With two starters gone from the secondary, including first-round corner Darqueze Dennard, some of this is assuming that Pat Narduzzi's scheme and talent development will continue to produce outstanding results. After the past few years, however, that feels like a very safe assumption, and there's no shortage of talent among State's back four.
Kurtis Drummond, as BiSB is sure to remind you, is the best safety in the conference and a very safe bet to go in the first round of next year's NFL draft. He led that defense in solo tackles (49), even managing to chip in 3.5 TFLs, picked off a team-high four passes, and broke up six more. There isn't a more complete safety in the country, and his discipline and play recognition allows Narduzzi to run his hyper-aggressive Cover 4.
Junior Trae Waynes steps into Dennard's #1 corner spot, and he looks more than ready for the role after posting five PBUs and three INTs of his own in 2013. Like Dennard, Waynes has the aggressive-coverage-bordering-on-interference thing down pat—before you complain, Michigan very much wants their corners to do the same this year—and he got tested plenty as teams looked to avoid Dennard last year; despite seeing plenty of action, he held up very well.
Darian Hicks currently leads a group of three sophomores competing for the other corner spot, while redshirt freshman Jalyn Powell made a surprise spring push for the starting strong safety spot, where junior R.J. Williamson—who played a good deal last year rotating in for now-graduated SS Isaiah Lewis—was expected to take over. With that much competition (and that much Narduzzi), don't expect the MSU secondary to take much of a dip this year, if any.
Indiana's Offensive Backfield
|Sudfeld and Coleman are one of the B1G's best backfield duos (via)|
This would've been an even easier pick if dual-threat QB Tre Roberson hadn't transferred over the offseason, but that move may actually be a good sign for Indiana if it means the more polished passer from last year's two-QB rotation, Nate Sudfeld, is poised for a breakout season.
As a sophomore in 2013, Sudfeld completed 60% of his passes at 7.8 yards per attempt with 21 TDs to just nine INTs. Those numbers look more impressive when considering Roberson vultured a lot of his touchdown opportunities and Sudfeld's presence in the backfield tended to tip pass for teams defending the Hoosier attack. While Indiana loses a lot in the receiving corps, Sudfeld should improve now that he's not looking over his shoulder after every off-the-mark pass, and he's got a go-to receiver in productive slot bug Shane Wynn.
The real star of the high-flying Hoosier offense, however, is running back Tevin Coleman, who'd be getting a lot more hype if he didn't play in the same conference as Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon and Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah. Coleman rushed for 958 yards and 12 TDs on just 131 carries (7.3 YPC); he was coming off a 215-yard performance against Illinois when he missed the final three games of the season with an ankle injury. When healthy, he's explosive enough to leave MSU's defense (and their fans) agape. The numbers are rather astounding [emphasis mine]:
But the primary reason I can't worry too much about Indiana's offense is Tevin Coleman. Highlight Yards basically look at a runner's explosiveness once he reaches the second level of a defense. Combining that with Opportunity Rate (the frequency with which you reach said second level), we get a pretty good idea for what kind of back you are. Coleman's 35.9 percent Opportunity Rate was nothing special, but no one in the country was more explosive.
Of the 199 FBS players with at least 100 carries in 2013, only seven averaged 8.0 highlight yards per opportunity or greater. Boston College's Andre Williams and Missouri's Henry Josey averaged 8.0, Maryland's C.J. Brown and Ohio State's Braxton Miller averaged 8.4, West Virginia's Dreamius Smith and UL-Lafayette's Elijah McGuire averaged 8.6 ... and Tevin Coleman averaged 12.0. His average was 40 percent better than the second best. He had 14 carries of at least 20 yards (only 12 players had more), and he had eight of at least 40 (most in the country). He is unlit dynamite every play he's on the field.
Coleman is the ideal back for Kevin Wilson's spread offense, and his production should only go up after he split carries with now-graduated back Stephen Houston last season. IU may lean on him more as they figure out how to replace the lost production among their receivers; Coleman should be up to the task.
Dark Horse: Notre Dame's Offensive Line
|Christian Lombard and Co. made life easy for Tommy Rees last year (via)|
After losing their two most experienced linemen, including first-round left tackle Zack Martin, I'm not quite ready to place Notre Dame's OL among the above groups, but there's a good chance I'll look stupid for not doing so. The Irish still return six linemen boasting a combined 54 starts, and the talent level is among the best in the country. They finished second in adjusted sack rate and 22nd in adjusted line yards last season; in all likelihood, they're reloading, not rebuilding.
Right guard Christian Lombard and center Nick Martin (Zack's younger brother) are the senior anchors of the line, and while both missed time to injury last year, they should be healthy for the fall. The projected starter at left guard, Steve Elmer, played ten games in 2013—including four starts in place of Lombard—and held up remarkably well for a true freshman; at this trajectory, he's a future star.
While there's a little more uncertainty at tackle, the potential is very high there, as well. Junior Ronnie Stanley, a former top-150 overall recruit, is slated to take over for the elder Martin at left tackle after starting all 12 games at right tackle last season. The only major question mark on the line is at right tackle, where 2013 four-star recruit Mike McGlinchey is penciled in as the starter. If he can't cut it in his first year on the field, two other four-star recruits from that class, Hunter Bivin and Colin McGovern, are there to step in as needed. While losing Zack Martin is a major blow, it's one that Notre Dame should be able to withstand.
*MLS fans, call me when there's a team in Detroit.
|Salt Lake City, UT – 6'4", 315|
||Scout||4*, #88 overall
#6 DT, #1 Utah
|Rivals||3*, NR overall
#23 DT, #4 Utah
|ESPN||4*, #91 overall
#7 DT, #1 Utah
|24/7||4*, #83 overall
#9 DT, #1 Utah
|Other Suitors||BYU, Wisconsin, Utah, UCLA|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Ace breaks down a Mone game. Hello post. Brief interview.|
|Notes||Highland (Sione Houma). Believe it is pronounced mon-AY|
The guy profiled most recently in this series may have a problem becoming big enough to contribute in college. Bryan Mone will not have this problem. Mone's final couple years of high school saw him go from an almost slender kid sites projected as an SDE to a monster suited for the middle. One reason why: MEAAAAAAAAAAAT.
Coach Hoke had a nice feast with the Mone family last night for his in-home visit. pic.twitter.com/DaKu7m8S0q
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) December 4, 2013
MEAT. Also meat.
Mone went from 245 to over 300 in a couple years, and then kept going. At some point he went too far, with 247 listing him at a whopping 338 up until Signing Day, though that was probably outdated. When Mone committed he told Sam Webb that he was at 340 with a goal of getting down to 315, and after his early enrollment that's the weight he is listed at on Michigan's roster.
So while he's still got a ways to go before he's a Mike-Martin-esque slab of beef, he's on his way. When he gets there he should be a quality player, if you're not Rivals. Scout's Brandon Huffman:
Mone is exactly how you draw it up when you're looking for an impact college tackle. He has a great frame, plays with good pad level, has plus level quickness and is relentless in pursuit. He does a great job getting off blocks, uses his hands very well and plays with a motor. He has the ability to fit in with a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme and could see the field early in college.
This probably isn't the first time I've ever seen a high school defensive lineman praised for his pad level, but it feels like it. Colleague Scott Kennedy is probably the most positive of anyone:
Huge, active defensive line prospect who is incredibly quick for his size. Actually played some defensive end in his high school's 3-4 formation at well over 300 pounds. Uses a club-like rip and swim move to knock tackles off balance. Wicked punch off snap. Changes directions well in space to adjust to backs trying to avoid him in the backfield. Gets tremendous leverage even though he's taller than most high school linemen he faced.
…very athletic for his size. Mone is very quick off the ball and can use his athleticism to swim around offensive lineman or use his size to bull-rush. One of Mone’s biggest assets is his hands. On film, Mone shows violent hands and uses them to gain proper leverage in the trenches. …nimble on his feet for a 300-pound athlete, showing great change of direction and the ability to avoid lineman when needed.
They list pad level as an improvement, because of course they do. Pad level. Meat.
ESPN is a little more reticent, but still positive:
…flashes of a very good initial burst off the ball but you would like to see little more consistency from him there. …when he fires out low, brings his hands and uncoils at contact he is more than capable of putting a blocker on his heels and holding his ground. When he brings his hands he displays the upper-body and hand strength to extend and shed, but he needs to be more consistent with his pad level and hand usage. …needs to more consistently utilize his size and power. … Has good lateral mobility.
They also mention that his violent hands give him some upside as an interior pass rusher.
"He uses his hands very well and he has real good feet for a big guy. He changes directions really well. "
The overall picture here is that Mone is a big, explosive guy with hands that are either great or in need of improvement, depending on your point of view and whether you're comparing him to the average high schooler or a finished product.
And then there's Rivals. Rivals was always down on Mone for whatever reason—he was 180th there despite being 76th on the 247 composite in September—and took the opportunity presented by the UA game to club him down to the generic three star range. No one else did. Most thought he basically justified his rating. 247:
… stout at the line of scrimmage and couldn’t be moved around by opposing offensive lineman. Mone has violent hands and good swim move, with the ability to play multiple shades along the defensive front. Mone was in on several tackles behind the line of scrimmage and looks college-ready from a physical standpoint.
Rivals's Mike Farrell seems to be the main skeptic, listing Mone amongst droppers:
… lacked the athleticism and quickness at the snap needed to be the No. 185 player in the country. He struggled more than any other defensive tackle short of three-star Lamont Gaillard and three-star O.J. Smith.
Nothing else suggests a major drop on their site. But then a Rivals guy who was more focused on the Michigan guys provides a potential explanation:
…Mone's main drawback at this time is in his conditioning and body composition. On some days at practice, Mone looked unbelievable for several reps before starting to run out of gas. While those were his better days (on others, he was having trouble adjusting to the quality of competition), the fact that his better performances featured an obvious weak point is a negative. Fortunately, he shone on gameday.
Hell, Rivals even named him one of his team's top performers:
10. DT BRYAN MONE, SALT LAKE CITY (UTAH) HIGHLAND
Mone was very active during the third practice. The Michigan commit was quicker off the ball today and more aggressive with his arms. When he combined those violent arms and his great lower body strength, Mone was able to generate a lot of push in the middle on the defensive line. During pass-rushing drills, Mone was able to make the offensive guards open their hips and finish where the quarterback would be.
With Mone's quick emergence this seems more like an overreaction to limited reps by a guy who doesn't really know much about the prospect. It's Junior Hemingway again. Hemingway is now an NFL wide receiver; Rivals bashed him down to three stars because someone saw him bad at an all star game. Farrell gonna Farrell.
Mone enrolled early and this has paid off for him. He emerged as contender on the line. While he has the potential to be a nose tackle at his size, Michigan sees him as a three tech:
The 3-tech is where Michigan will play the Salt Lake City (UT) Highland native next season.
"That's where they want me to play," he said. "I can use my power, which is what I am best at. Michigan wants me to get down to somewhere a little over 300 pounds, so I have some work to do there, but I can get it."
That was at the UA game, where he said he was 326. Michigan played him at the three this spring; he and Maurice Hurst Jr were both impressive enough to blast Willie Henry, who flashed buckets of promise during the second half of last year, down to third string. Motivational or not (clearly motivational), that's a good sign. Collectively the freshmen seemed to have cleaned out the three-tech depth chart. In the spring pratice thing he "flashed into the backfield regularly," sayeth this site.
Mone should be able to hit his weight goal by fall, as his balloon period was more a function of a lack of experience being huge than anything to do with his work ethic. Coach quote:
“The kid never comes off the field. To be 300 lbs. and yet be able to do that, it says a lot about him as a player and his work ethic. He works his guts out in the weight room and does a real good job for us. He is big, strong, powerful, and tenacious. He flat gets after it."
Why Alan Branch? Branch was another guy who was unnaturally agile for a guy his size; like Mone he was able to get into the backfield with regularity from a three-tech spot. Branch's height seemed like it might be a problem for the ol' pad level but in practice he was just too enormously strong for it to make much difference.
Bonuses: Branch was ranked in approximately the same place by most services, and came from a relatively obscure Western state (in his case, New Mexico).
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Near consensus except for Rivals, All Star appearance. Weight fluctuation makes things a bit difficult and Farrell gonna Farrell.
Variance: Low. Already college-sized and pushing for playing time, Mone's floor is a legit four-year contributor.
Ceiling: High. Easy to see him going high in the NFL draft as a 315 pound guy who can run.
General Excitement Level: High. Serious breakout potential either this year or next. College sized already, great work ethic and smarts, just needs to reshape his body a little bit and then it's time to come out and play.
Projection: Will play this year, and I won't even complain. Will be part of the three-tech rotation with Hurst and Wormley unless he gets sucked over to nose tackle. That's unlikely unless Pipkins does not recover well from his injury.
Longer term, Mone and Hurst should combine to shove Wormley over to SDE next year, especially if Michigan does go back to the under. Those two will fight tooth and nail for the starting three-tech job for the next four years—whoever comes out on top is likely to be real good. And substituted frequently.