At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
- Youngstown State, 28-6 (W)
- Florida Atlantic, 44-0 (W)
- @ Notre Dame, 13-31 (L)
- Central Michigan, 45-7 (W)
- @ Ohio State, 10-7 (W)
- No. 11 Michigan, 28-14 (W)
- No. 6 Wisconsin, 37-31 (W)
- @ No. 14 Nebraska, 3-24 (L)
- Minnesota, 31-24 (W)
- @ Iowa, 37-21 (W)
- Indiana, 55-3 (W)
- @ Northwestern, 31-17 (W)
- No. 15 Wisconsin, 39-42 (L), B1G Championship Game
- No. 16 Georgia, 33-30 Triple-OT (W), Outback Bowl
Record: 11-3 overall, 7-1(7-2) B1G, 1st place Bro Division
|Rush:||137.9 ypg, 78th||100.5 ypg, 9th|
|Pass:||252.5 ypg, 41st||176.9 ypg, 11th|
|Total:||390.4 ypg, 56th||277.4 ypg, 6th|
|Scoring:||31.0 ppg, 37th||18.4 ppg, 11th|
|T/O margin:||+7, 25th|
Recap: Michigan State wandered through their first two games unremarkably before heading down to South Bend, where they got dismantled by Notre Dame. They rebounded to blow out Central Michigan but struggled in their win over Ohio State in one of the worst games of the season.
(more after the jump)
MI QB Shane Morris and OH S Dymonte Thomas
Now that the 2012 class is in the bag and on their way to being legends or busts—there is no middle ground—eyes turn towards the 2013 class. This is because football is still a goddamn long way off. Michigan's needs, available slots, and current commits below:
Attrition is a fact of life, etc etc etc, expect at least five more slots, etc. But right now Michigan graduates the following players after 2012:
- QB: Denard Robinson (sniff)
- RB: Mike Cox, Vincent Smith
- WR: Roy Roundtree, Terrance Robinson
- TE: Brandon Moore
- OL: Patrick Omameh, Ricky Barnum, Elliot Mealer, Rocko Khoury
- DL: Will Campbell, Craig Roh
- LB: Kenny Demens, Brandin Hawthorne
- DB: JT Floyd, Jordan Kovacs
Michigan's late whiffs on a variety of folk have paved the way for fifth years for Cox and Robinson. This leaves Michigan with 16 graduating seniors and zero to two open slots depending on what Alex Kozan and Jordan Diamond do.
If you're starting with 16-18 in February, you'll be signing at least 20-22 a year after. Expect yet another basically full class as Michigan tries to work off the Rodriguez instability.
Gentlemen Of Distinction And Taste
Michigan kicks off the 2013 recruiting year with two already in the bag. Instate QB Shane Morris is in the running for five stars and OH S Dymonte Thomas seems like he'll be prominent on everyone's initial top 100 lists.
You can also see the full docket of Michigan offerees on wlubd's diary, soon to be upgraded to a wiki page.
Quarterback: 1 (filled). Filled with Morris. Slight possibility they'll pursue a second guy, a three-star type, after going without this year.
Running back/fullback: 2 RBs, preferably blue chip. Fullback is probably off the table after Sione Houma signed this year. Running back is the same old story: Michigan has many bodies but no blue-chips. 2013 recruits will be freshmen when Toussaint is a senior, so this is the year to pull in a big-timer. In the midwest, Illinois has Ty Isaac (right) and Indiana has Jaylon Smith. Michigan is after both already; stiff competition will come from Notre Dame and Ohio State, respectively.
Michigan would like at least two. Right now they're relying entirely on Fred Jackson scouting reports for post-Toussaint production. Scary thought.
Wide receiver: 3. It's unclear how many guys Michigan is going to want going forward. When 2013 arrives they'll have four outside types plus senior slots Gallon and Dileo. They'll also have Morris in any blue-chip WR's ear they care to. This might be a year to load up.
Q: will Michigan pursue a slot guy? They might already have one on the roster in Justice Hayes or Dennis Norfleet. Long-term, it seems like a teams can make good use out of a quick little bastard even if they're dedicated pro-style guys. Marquise Maze was Alabama's leading receiver this year, and Keshawn Martin was a hugely effective part of Michigan State's offense and special teams the past four years.
Tight end: 2. Still a thin spot and seemingly one that is becoming vogue in college football. Expect at least one and probably two.
Offensive line: 5. Michigan wanted six but with late defections and whiffs came in with only four or five. Four exit this year, so the line remains just as big of a priority in this class as it was in 2012. Expect four to six OL. One will be a center prospect.
SDE/3-Tech: 2. I'm lumping these together since it's become clear that it's hard to tell which rangy, large, unthrilling pass rushers are strongside defensive ends and which are three-technique defensive tackles. Michigan got a load of these dudes last year: Strobel, Wormley, Godin, and Henry are all ticketed for one spot or the other. This year they can skimp a little but will probably want one or two.
NT: 1. This is the domain of Pipkins. Michigan will want a backup/platoon-mate.
SLB/WDE: 2. Again, these positions have seen Beyer and Clark flip between them and seem largely interchangeable when it comes to projecting high school recruits to a position. Michigan picked up Mario Ojemudia as a WDE and momentarily had Pharaoh Brown in the fold; the other four LBs in the class all seem to be MLB/WLB types. Maybe Jenkins-Stone or Bolden will end up sliding down to SLB eventually.
MLB/WLB: 1. Not a high priority with Ross, Ringer, Bolden, and Jenkins-Stone all seemingly destined for one spot or the other and Antonio Poole coming off a redshirt. Wise to take at least one guy here, maybe two. Numbers not a priority.
CB: 2. You cannot litter your roster with sufficient cornerbacks. Realistically you have to look at this position as a three-man unit with the nickelback at least as important as whoever you yank off the field when he gets in. Michigan will have six guys for those three spots and should look to add two or three more.
Cass Tech corner Jourdan Lewis (right) has a Michigan offer and seems likely to hop on it in the near future. He's like a Cass Tech corner except he's taller than TomVH.
S: 1 (filled). Thomas fills a spot and Michigan acquired three in the previous class (Gant, Wilson, Clark). They can probably get by with just Thomas; if the right player comes around they'd likely take a second.
K: 0. Michigan does not need a kicker or punter.
Wildcards: 0-3. The above numbers add up to 22. If the class expands towards 25 they will be able to fill in thin spots with additional players. I'd say another OL, safety, RB, and SLB/WDE are the likely places to see spare scholarships deployed.
2/1/2012 – Michigan 68, Indiana 56 – 17-6, 7-3 Big Ten
At the beginning of Michigan's most epic brutal stretch of the season, they made a radical change by consigning Evan Smotrycz to the bench in favor of Stu Douglass. Zack Novak wearily took up the mantle of power forward again and Michigan soldiered through. Five of six games into the MEBS they're now 3-2 and guaranteed to come out at least .500, eyeing a Sweet Sixteen seed if they can win the games they should down the road.
Small sample size and all, but I thought it would be interesting to look at the impact that shift has had on Michigan's defense. When Beilein made the shift he said it was his best defensive lineup, after all. Chart? Chart.
Michigan without Stu in the starting lineup:
[note that there are more home games than road; I attempted to adjust for that by subtracting 3.5 points from the opponent's efficiency. A home-road swing is worth 7 points and let's blindly assign half of that to the offense]
|Opponent||Score||Possessions||B10 Off Eff||Expected Score||Delta|
Michigan with Stu in the starting lineup:
|Opponent||Score||Possessions||B10 Off Eff||Expected Score||Delta|
So, there you go. Exceedingly weak statistical evidence in a small sample size* that shifting Douglass into the starting lineup has been worth one and a half points per game. Since Michigan won two of the games he started by 1 and 2 points, this seems relevant to our interests. Let's not make too much of it—Michigan State could blow this away in one shooting streak. But our Bayesian estimate of Douglass improving the M defense should shift over 50%.
This is only part of what Douglass has brought to the table. Now I'm going to delve in to wishy feely stuff; I wanted to get some numbers on the internet to make me feel better about what's about to come.
But… close your eyes and envision the two most improved players on the team this year. Did you get Novak and Douglass? I'm guessing you did, what with images of Douglass driving into the lane and something bad not happening or Novak pulling up for a midrange jumper that gets only net.
this could be going well! (Upchurch)
That's weird. Freshmen get better faster than seniors, especially when the seniors are guards and the freshmen are largely posts. This year's most prominent freshman-to-sophomore transitions have not gone real well. Tim Hardaway Jr. is a fair bit less efficient than he was as a freshman. So is Jordan Morgan. Smotrycz is a lot better but has been marginalized during this important stretch; his incredible shooting in the nonconference season has evaporated in the Big Ten.
Normally that would spell doom. If I materialized in your bathtub in October and said "ooooOOOOOOoooooohhhhhh, TIM HARDAWAY JR WILL AVERAGE 27% FROM THREE POINT RANGE, oooooOOOOOOoooooohhhh" you would be more terrified for Michigan's basketball prospects than the fact you'd just had a time-travelling blogger ghost appear in a place you thought was safe from that sort of nonsense. And that's saying something.
But even though Hardaway and Morgan are less efficient and Trey Burke isn't quite at the level Darius Morris was last year, here they are aiming for a Sweet 16 seed. You can say this is Trey Burke's team, and you'd be right, and you can say Tim Hardaway Jr. is Michigan's most important player, and you'd be right. The two seniors are the guys duct-taping up all the leaks the team has sprung as it moves forward without Morris and Tim Hardaway's 44% conference three-point shooting.
Michigan may get better after they leave on sheer talent, but Douglass and Novak are two remarkable overachievers. Michigan needed two guys like that to change the culture around here after a decade-long tourney-free streak. No one thought they'd be guys snatched from Valpo (if they were even interested!) and Harvard. Even if their numbers shouldn't get raised to the rafters, those who come after them will stand on their shoulders. It may be Trey Burke's team but it's Douglass's and Novak's program.
*[FWIW, Arkansas put up about four more points than you'd expect if M was equal to an average SEC defense. I think that's more about Michigan being unprepared for the press—giving those points up on offense.]
Bullets That Always Go In If Shot By Jordan Hulls
GOOD LORD JORDAN HULLS. Dude was shooting 48% from three before yesterday's 4 of 5 performance. And a lot of those were tough.
God, what does it take to get a three point sniper who's actually lethal in college, too? Vogrich was reputed to be the best shooter in the country and is struggling to get above 25%. Come on, Stauskas.
Christian Watford guarding Trey Burke. It worked for a while as Burke seemed confused by the very idea; then Burke started crossing the dude over and screaming towards the basket. Weird, weird idea. Glad that Burke played through it. It was looking a little hopeless on offense for a while there.
Watford, by the way, annihilated Michigan in the game in Bloomington and is shooting 47% from three—actually much better than he is from 2 (42%). Weird player.
Jordan Morgan guarding Cody Zeller. Great, great job. Zeller is shooting 66% and has a top ten eFG%; Michigan held him to 4 of 9 shooting and IIRC two of his baskets were offensive rebound putbacks. This was almost all Morgan with a little Smotrycz in there, and Zeller could hardly get a shot opportunity.
Morgan's main advantage over most big men is his agility, activity, and endurance. He fronts everyone and rarely gives up good post position; Michigan cheats down behind him to cut off lob passes and leaves that backdoor three open. It's been effective overall.
You can see the good and bad of it in Michigan's conference Kenpom stats. They're #2 in the league at forcing turnovers; over 20% of opponent possessions end without a shot. They never put anyone on the line. Their 2PT% D is acceptable despite being short—their block percentage is last in the league. The main downside is giving up a lot of quality threes. 38% is good for only tenth in the league at 3PT defense. Given the composition of the roster, I'll take it. Michigan has to endure a lot of open threes to give themselves a chance inside. Considering the available athletes they're doing a good job.
Tim Hardaway jack watch. There were three or four, including another long two with lots of time on the shot clock. I don't mind him taking a three in the context of the offense. The ones where he just rises and fires are not good.
Michigan should start running him off Rip Hamilton-esque curl screens with the intent of getting him moving towards the basket with his man already to one side. That seems like it will result in profit. And possibly charges, but who cares about charges?
Watford and Zeller combined for 43 points in Bloomington; they only managed 19 between them last night. Hulls had 18 but he made some pretty tough shots to get there. You can live with that.
Kozan vision quest. No one really knows, but my "Kozan" twitter search turned this up:
"Empty-handed I entered the world, Barefoot I leave it. My coming, my going -- Two simple happenings, That got entangled." - Kozan Ichikyo
Depending on who you listen to, Iowa is out or Michigan is out or Auburn is out. My favorite is this guy:
He's a a high school sports editor for the Denver Post and a huge fan of David Mayo. He also starts every tweet with "Yo." Serious:
Yo: Still waiting on Alex Kozan, Valor Christian, taking his time and hoping to make the right move. Folks are interested.
A bit earlier he said this:
Yo: High drama, indeed ...as of now, Valor Christian's Alex Kozan still deciding between Michigan and Iowa, meeting w/prep coach.
OTOH, Auburn insider buzz is confident. Nobody knows! We'll just have to see what spirit totem Kozan comes back with. I give Auburn the edge because they've got two potential totems.
|Touted Recruits||Head To Head||Signee Rankings [Rivals]|
|2010||1||3||3||2||2||2, 11, 12, 22||1, 5, 7, 8, 9, 18, 19, 24, 28|
|2011||3||1||2||2||2||4, 5, 6, 7, 19, 25||1, 9, 10, 14, 26|
|2012||5||2||1||6||1?||3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 21||1, 7, 13, 28|
(MSU H2H wins: Maybe Aaron Burbridge, though M seem to have passed because of grades. M: Ross, RJS, Braden, Funchess, Godin, Ojemudia. Technically Norfleet is also a dual offeree but that's stretching it.
"Touted" == got four stars on at least two of four sites.)
This goes here.
User "grsbmd" for the win.
AJ Williams interviewed. Nice hat.
I'll play too. Top five IMPACTFUL IMPACTORS have been put out by everyone and their uncle, so here's my list in two groups.
INSTANTLY IMPACTFUL IMPACTORS
- Ondre Pipkins
- AJ Williams
- Amara Darboh
- Chris Wormley
- Joe Bolden
- Ondre Pipkins
- Joe Bolden
- Kyle Kalis
- Devin Funchess
- Jehu Chesson
Sam Webb put out an instantly impactful list with Bolden, Kalis, Pipkins, Williams, and Wormley. I think Kalis will have to wait a year before starting, and Michigan's going to give their WR recruits a shot to impress them. That article has a lot of tantalizing quotes, by the way. BAM:
"I thought [Bolden] was the best linebacker in the state of Ohio for two years now," said Scout.com Ohio analyst Dave Berk. "He has a high football IQ. A lot of times we say that about guys that don't have athletic ability, but Joe has the athletic ability to go with it. He has got great physical size and he can go sideline to sideline. He can be an outside backer or he can be a middle backer. He is a playmaker. … I think Ohio State and Notre Dame whiffed on that one."
Allen Trieu and Tim(!) Sullivan provided lists focused on the best players once the class is done. Both pick Bolden, Kalis, and Pipkins. Trieu then goes with Ben Braden(!) and James Ross; Tim goes with Chesson and Wormley. The Funchess will dominate all. It's the bucket hat.
Best established meme. Thirty Devins agree:
WE LOVE BUCKET HATS. (L to R: Terry Richardson, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Devin Funchess, James Ross. Via USA Football.)
Kalis location. For now, still tackle:
"Coach Hoke has already let me know, depending on what kind of shape I come into camp in the summer, when I start getting into the groove of things and put the pads on, he's going to let me decide whether I feel more comfortable at the right tackle or right guard spot. It all depends in how I come in and how I feel."
Given Michigan's depth chart at tackle—there is no depth chart at tackle—it may make sense to give Kalis every opportunity to win the right tackle job from Schofield. If he does, Schofield can stay at guard. If he doesn't he's as prepared as possible to sub in in the event one of the starters is sidelined. Even if his long term future is at guard as the most college-ready lineman in the class Michigan has a crying need for him at tackle in 2012, whether it's as a backup or a starter.
Norfleet geared up. Via the social medias:
Happy the guy managed to get an offer he clearly wanted, even if he had to wait for it. I'm betting he'll make that pay off for both himself and M. Hopefully Smith transfers his blitz pickup mojo to him this year.
Dinardo on Kalis. He likes him:
"I don't remember seeing many better high school offensive linemen than Kalis," DiNardo said on the Big Ten Football Report. "Alan Faneca, who played for me at LSU, an All-Pro for a long-time, was a great high school, great college, and great pro player. (Kalis) reminds me of Faneca."
Four years. Excellent PR move by the Big Ten to move en masse to four year scholarships:
Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Ohio State and several other schools have offered four-year scholarships to prospects in this year's class instead of the one-year, renewable scholarships that had been the norm throughout college sports.
I wonder what enforcement mechanisms exist for that; clearly there have to be some loopholes in case a player does not keep up academically or gets in trouble. Either way, it's more pressure on schools to not cut folks willy-nilly.
I think Purdue may be the lone holdout in the league, but haven't seen confirmation of that.
Etc.: Fairly useless Luginbill quotes. ESPN dudes predict Joe Bolden will see the field fast. Insert complaint about ESPN's focus on the UA game here. Local news article on Ben Braden. The Sporting News wins "most accurate recruiting service" for 2012 for ranking Michigan #2. Mattison on Kalis. Dantonio fuming about the "unethical" poaching of committed recruits. Brian Kelly whiffs down the stretch, too. The class visualized by position and state. Wojo on Signing Day.
I was tasked by Brian with a couple specific MGoQuestions for coaching assistants following the press conference. Here are those answers and whatever else I could get.
Can you assess your new offensive line recruits?
“These guys are tough. They can run, they can move, they’re going to be really good players. They’re great looking kids. Each one of them has a little different skill set, but they’re going to be a great line for the years to come. We’re really excited about that.”
Players’ bodies change a lot from when they’re in high school to college. What do you look for physically in recruits?
“Like I said, they’re each different. A few of them have to put on a few pounds. A couple of them are pretty much at weight. When you’re developing linemen that can come in, the biggest difference is the strength levels between them and the defensive linemen they’re going to block. I think these kids are advanced in that compared with some potential guys we were looking at because they are stronger and more physical. They’ve got some size to them, but every guy develops a little bit at his own pace.”
How excited are those guys to finally get here?
“Well they’re chumpin at the bit. Most of them have been commited for a while and just signing day seemed like forever to them. And now that’s here now, and now the next thing I’m going to hear is 'Gee, coach, when is June 24 going to come around?' Then they have a lot of chances to get stronger, hit the weight room -- they’re going to have an opportunity to play early. As coach always says, you can’t guarantee someone’s going to play right away, but if they’re better than the guys in front of them they’ll play. And they know that and we’ve talked about that, and the work that they do between today and June 24th when they come to school in the summer will go a long way.”
Are you allowed to communicate with them and advise them before they get on campus?
“As soon as they sign, which they have, now we can give them a weight workout. I can send them playbooks, I can send them different things. There are some strange rules whether they can come on campus and they can’t sit on meetings and different things -- we abide by the rules -- but for the most part I can be on the phone with them every night talking about our base power play and explaining things, and I will. I’m going to work hard with those four kids and give them every opportunity to come into camp and when we install the offense and they hear the terms it won’t be the first time they’ve heard it.”
Do you send them a playbook?
“We send them a version of it. The reason we couldn’t last year is because really until we went through the spring, we really didn’t know exactly -- we know what we’re going to run. We may tweak a couple things. I’ll send them a version, kind of an accelerated version, almost like cliff notes or something like that, so that they get pretty well versed before they come here.”
Are there any other offensive linemen you’re waiting on?
“Yeah, I think it’s important we talk about the guys that we have for today.”
MGoQuestion: Who of your current players on the roster would project to center?
“Well, we have guys who can play center. We wanted to recruit someone in this class that could play center. Guys could play center in this class … you could make some switches. I’ve got some flexibility with the guys I have, and we can find some replacements for David, and we have guys who have played a lot at the position.”
MGoQuestion: What exact position does Mario Ojemudia project?
“At this time I would think he’s more of what you would consider a defensive lineman. He’s going to be more of a defensive end, kind of a Craig Roh position where sometimes he plays up, sometimes he drops. I won’t have much exposure to Mario until he gets here.”
MGoQuestion: Do any of the current commits project to weakside linebacker?
“Well of all those four guys you mentioned other than Mario, with Kaleb and Joe and Royce and James, they’re all going to play somewhere in the middle, meaning a Mike or Will-type linebacker. They’ll be one of those two positions at least to start out with. That’s where our need for depth and competition is most.”
MGoQuestion: What do you look for in a middle linebacker vs a weakside linebacker?
“Generally speaking the guy in the middle’s a little bit bigger. He’s going to have to take on blockers a little bit more, whereas the guy on the weakside, he’s protected more, and what I mean by that is he’s covered up by down linemen a little bit better, so maybe a smaller guy that runs a little bit better. But you know, what I want them both to be interchangeable. They should be able to play both positions to start out, and then you try to fit them in where they best fit in.”
MGoQuestion: Dennis Norfleet isn’t the prototypical back for the power running offense you talk about a lot. How do you envision using him?
“Well until he proves he can’t do that, we’ll give him a chance to do that. He’s coming in here kind of as an all-around player. He’ll return kicks, play offense, and we’ll see what he does. I’ve had little guys that you didn’t consider prototypes to be good backs. You say, ‘Well, maybe he can do it.’ As we go through it, we’ll test the waters and give everybody a chance to prove what they can do. He’s in that category, too, but he’s electric. He’s a touchdown scorer. You can’t get enough of those guys.”
MGoQuestion: Hoke said you guys didn’t really give him that hard of a look until yesterday. How long have you known about him?
“Well we’ve known about him, but because of the fluid nature of recruiting, you have things become available, and you say, okay, well, we got this, we have a kid that can score touchdowns, let’s take a good look at this kid and see how he fits. Everywhere I’ve been we’ve done that. Whether it’s last week, last couple days, something becomes available … you end up taking a guy who has a chance to help you in some way or some form.”
People have talked about this offense potentially shifting over the next couple years to something similar to what the Patriots run. What do you say to that?
“We do a little of the things the Patriots do. We have an empty package. Didn’t use it this year as much as I’ve used it before. We are very similar to the Patriots. We’ll line up in two back offense, we’ll line up in spread … the key to offense is not whether it’s the Patriots or the 49ers or whoevers. It’s being diverse enough to deal with all situations that arise in football. Having an offense that can accommodate all of those situations that’s geared to your personnel. That’s a nebulous answer, but that is the answer.”
Tight end is a position you like to use. Funchess and AJ Williams are pretty different players. Do you envision using them differently?
“Possibly. There’s a skill set that you anticipate and there’s a skill set that you get. So when they get here, we’ll see how they fit into what we want to do with them. They’re both going to be tight ends, they’re both going to be coached to be pure tight ends, and we’ll see how that skill set fits with the rest of the group, and we’ll accommodate it.”
How do you like your depth at that position?
“I think we have plenty of guys. We just have to see how it shakes out. We have a couple kids in the spring that are still going to get a golden opportunity to prove they can do it. With the new guys coming in, we’ll see if they can break into the depth chart.”
MGoQuestion: Jeremy Clark and Willie Henry seem to be pretty under the radar recruits. How did you learn about them?
“Well Jeremy Clark was in our camp, and all it took was for a bunch of guys to watch him, they went, ‘Wow, this guy’s something special.’ And then the process that we talked about where the coach that recruited that area goes in there and meets the caoch and the coach just says the same things about them. You walk down the hall and you talk to the math teacher and the math teacher says this guy’s unbelievable. Now all of a sudden you say, you have all of this, and look what we saw on the field, and then it’s pretty easy. Willie Henry was the same kind of thing. There are some schools that coaches will not recommend very highly until they’re done with them. They’re going to make sure -- people, especially the ones that respect Michigan and respect coach Hoke, they’re not ever going to give you somebody they’re not willing to put their name on. When a coach like that says, ‘Yes this guy can play.’ Then you listen. So that’s the deal with that.”
After looking at his film and evaluating him for yourself, did you feel like he was underrated as a recruit?
“I don’t care about stars. And I really don’t. There are some five stars out there that I hope we play against. To me all I care is what we, our staff, when we look at the film and say yes he can play or no he can’t play. When we looked at this guy on film, we said, Wow, this is one that we want.’ I don’t care if he’s a five star, three star, or two star. Those are the kind of guys we want in this class.”