1 Future 1st round round draft pick
+2 Freshman starters
This year’s Michigan offensive line is a somewhat unusual combination. The entire interior of the line has graduated, none of whom where drafted. Left tackle Taylor Lewan passed up a chance to be a top 10 draft pick for one more year of Michigan football. The line’s second best player is also back in right tackle Michael Schofield.
What Michigan loses in experience it replaces with recruiting profile. Based on early camp reports, Kyle Kalis appears to have locked down his starting spot and comes in with the highest ever recruiting profile for a Michigan offensive lineman. Projected to join him are fellow redshirt freshman Ben Braden at guard and either Jack Miller or Graham Glasgow at center.
Since the end of the RichRod era produced a two year window where only two scholarship linemen remain, I wanted to see if there were any other programs with the dichotomy of two or three older starters, one of which would be a first round draft choice the following year and two starters that have barely been on campus for a full year. There were three teams over the last four seasons that fit the mold:
The Taylor Lewan: LT James Carpenter, 2011 1st round pick
The Michael Schofield: C William Vlachos, 2.5 year starter
The Kalis/Bradens: RT DJ Fluker, 2013 1st round pick was a highly touted redshirt freshman
LG Chance Warmack, 2013 1st round pick, true sophomore
The Glasgow/Miller: RG Barrett Jones, 2013 4th round pick was a 2nd year starter and redshirt sophomore
Biggest differences: In comparison to Michigan’s new three, Alabama had Barrett Jones who was a returning starter and had a top 200 recruiting profile, significantly higher than whoever wins the center job for Michigan
Yards/Carry: 5.6, 11th among BCS schools
Sack Rate: 9.3%, 113th in FBS
The 2010 Alabama team was just coming off of a National Championship and a Heisman trophy for Mark Ingram in the prior year. The team was Alabama’s only team of the last four years to not win the national championship. They were loaded at running back with the defending Heisman trophy winner Mark Ingram backed up by future first rounder Trent Richardson and future second rounder Eddie Lacy. It’s hard to have a much better projected future than this team did, even if 2010 was the “bad” year. The yards/carry was outstanding but the sack rate jumped out as a surprisingly awful stat.
*Yards/Carry is without sacks, only competitive plays (1st half or within 14 in the second half) and against FBS competition
Sack rate is [sacks allowed ]/[sacks + pass attempts] under the same game conditions as yards/carry
The Taylor Lewan: RG David DeCastro, 2012 1st round pick
The Michael Schofield: LT Jonathan Martin, 2012 2nd round pick, third year starter
The Kalis/Bradens: LG David Yankey, redshirt freshman
RT Cameron Fleming, redshirt freshmen
The Glasgow/Miller: C Sam Schwartzstein, redshirt junior and 1st year starter
Biggest differences: The ages and experience of Stanford group match up almost exactly to Michigan’s this year. They lacked an elite recruit like Kalis among the new starters but did have Andrew Luck running the show behind them.
Yards/Carry: 5.8, 4th among BCS schools
Sack Rate: 3.1%, 7th among BCS schools
The 2011 Cardinal team went 11-1 in the regular season and finished the year #4 in the AP Poll after a loss in a classic bowl showdown with Oklahoma State in David Shaw’s first season as coach after taking over for Jim Harbaugh. If any program personifies what Michigan is aiming for it is Stanford. Tough, power rushing game with a deadly quarterback passing to tight ends, a season like this one might still be a year away for Michigan but the style is exactly where Michigan wants to be this season.
The Taylor Lewan: LG Kyle Long, 2013 1st round pick
The Michael Schofield: C Hroniss Grasu
The Kalis/Bradens: LT Tyler Johnstone
RT Jake Fisher, former Michigan commit
The Glasgow/Miller: G Ryan Clanton
Biggest differences: Last season’s Oregon offensive line was a bit younger than even Michigan’s this year and Kyle Long took a very different path through football than Taylor Lewan. The Oregon newcomers last season had a significantly lower recruiting profile than the three new Michigan starters. In terms of system Michigan and Oregon will obviously be very different in terms of what they are trying to do when they have the ball in both plays and tempo.
Yards/Carry: 6.9, 1st in FBS
Sack Rate: 4.2%, 37th in BCS
This is the weakest among the three connections if only because the offensive systems between Michigan and Oregon are so different. You can’t argue with the results, though. At nearly 7 yards per rush Oregon spent last season running past opponents yet again and finished with another top 5 ranking.
So I think most Michigan fans would take any of those three offensive seasons. The head to head examples are all quite positive but I think the biggest concern from those comparisons is that Michigan’s 2012 yards/carry was much worse than any of the comparison teams’ prior years were. For all three of the similar teams, the prior season had been outstanding and the examined season was very good but a small step backward. Michigan is coming from the opposite direction.
Stanford and Alabama are certainly two programs who look a lot like Hoke’s vision for Michigan both in terms of style and outcomes. History says that in general this roster is still another year away, but based on three teams with offensive lines similar to Michigan, the true unveiling of the Borges offense could come this year.
You Know The Drill
Michigan's latest 2014 offer, Warren De La Salle linebacker and current Penn State commit Jared Wangler, will visit campus today along with his father, former Michigan quarterback John Wangler, per Jared's Twitter. Wangler plans to decide between sticking with PSU and flipping to Michigan before the start of football season, and while many expect him to choose the Wolverines today, that's not coming from Wangler — he told Scout's Allen Trieu($) that he's "not planning on committing today," and you can read into that however you like.
I think Wangler will end up at Michigan, but it's certainly not guaranteed; don't count out the fact that Penn State was the first major program to offer him. He even passed up an offer from LSU that came in a couple weeks after his initial commitment. That said, his father and brother didn't play for the Tigers, and the Wanglers being something of a Michigan institution should factor heavily into his final decision.
A 150+ Comment Thread Suggests I Should Talk About This
Michigan State's hiring of Curtis Blackwell as their de facto recruiting coordinator paid immediate dividends yesterday when 2015 Cass Tech quarterback Jayru Campbell committed to the Spartans. Campbell was one of several top in-state juniors in East Lansing yesterday — Technician teammates Mike Weber and Josh Alabi, Saginaw athlete Brian Cole, Oak Park athlete John Kelly, and Saint Clair Shores lineman Kyonta Stallworth (who may or may not have committed, and almost certainly will eventually) were also present. Getting that many key local targets on campus — and pulling in commitments from two of them, most likely — is a big step for State, and the credit should rightfully go to Blackwell, who has a relationship with all of these players from his time running Sound Mind Sound Body and coaching the Maximum Exposure 7-on-7 squad.
HOWEVA, the consternation among Michigan fans in the wake of Campbell's commitment is unnecessary for a couple of reasons:
- Campbell, in all likelihood, was never going to get a Michigan offer. CA five-star Josh Rosen is the only 2015 QB with an offer, and I don't believe Campbell was even in the next group of signal-callers being considered by the Wolverines. Having watched Campbell play many times over the course of the last two years, I don't think he has the pure arm strength — especially on short-to-intermediate routes — that this coaching staff wants in a quarterback. You can watch the tape and judge for yourself.
- Michigan's projected to take a very small class in 2015, and so far they're pursuing elite national prospects to fill those coveted spots. Weber's potential place in the class was taken by Damien Harris, a higher-ranked running back; Kelly wasn't under serious consideration for an early offer; and the Wolverines may only take two offensive linemen — with Jon Runyan Jr. already in the fold and Michigan looking good for PA four-star tackle Sterling Jenkins, I don't think Stallworth was going to get one, either. Cole and Alabi are the only two guys among yesterday's MSU visitors who could be counted as real head-to-head losses for Michigan, and neither is guaranteed to end up at State by any means.
Is Campbell a solid pickup for State? Certainly. He's made great strides as a passer in the last two years while quarterbacking CT to back-to-back state titles and he gives MSU a commitment from the state's best talent factory.
Is this a major blow to Michigan? Nope. The Wolverines could strike out on every top in-state junior and still put together one of the best classes in the country; in case anyone has forgotten, they're already off to a very good start in that regard.
[Hit THE JUMP for perhaps the worst recruiting pitch ever, the latest on Malik McDowell's transfer to Southfield, and more.]
Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton,DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OL Logan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson, TE Jake Butt, TE Khalid Hill, HB Wyatt Shallman, WR Da'Mario Jones, WR Csont'e York, WR Jaron Dukes, RB Derrick Green, QB Shane Morris.
This marks the completion of the 2013 recruiting profiles.
|Warren, OH – 5'11", 224|
4*, #62 overall
3*, NR overall
4*, NR overall
4*, #218 overall
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Older brother Lance was at Wisconsin for a time. Howland, his HS, has sent kids to MSU and PSU recently but no Michigan players.|
Brady Hoke's recruiting in a nutshell: a near-consensus four star with a crazy fun highlight tape who Michigan won in a head to head battle with Ohio State has been almost lost in the shuffle. De'Veon Smith may not have the avalanche of hype Derrick Green does, but he's pretty damn good in his own right, a pounding ball of legs with a big-time stiffarm and excellent balance. If he was fast, he'd be Mike Hart but fast, but people say he's not that fast, so maybe he's just Mike Hart. (This comparison is about to get run into the ground. Gird thyself.)
This lost in the shuffle thing is something we need to correct, M internet. If we don't, Smith's coach Dick Angle—who is awesome—is going to find us. This comes from the beginning of Smith's junior year:
“I don’t think there’s a hell of a lot of difference between 4.6 and 4.5, especially when you’re 215 pounds and you’re running the football and you never fumble it and you always end up in the end zone,” Angle said. “So they can have their 4.3 guys and 4.4 guys and I’ll take Smith, even if he was 5-flat, which he isn’t. He runs a 4.5-forty consistently and all he does is score touchdowns, run for first downs, catch passes and wins.”
…quite surprisingly, despite all the high accolades from his coach, Smith is still without any scholarship offers. So what exactly is the reason for that?
“Because there’s a lot of stupid coaches out there and that’s why they get fired,” Angle said. “They take 4.3 guys that can’t read, write, block, tackle, hold the ball or win. That’s the bottom line.”
"Because Stone Cold Dick Angle said so" is implied.
I'm seriously about the Mike Hart comparison on this one. For one, the first words out of his loquacious coach's mouth in another article:
"He does not fumble," said Angle. "He had one at the beginning of the year, and one in the playoffs, but that's it."
For two, Smith's low-cut, compact package of balance, vision and agility leads to a lot of Hart-like runs in which he hugs his blocking until it's time to burst upfield, at which point he often deploys Hart's patented hop-cut in the hole to evade most of tackler and bundle forward breaking infinite arm tackles. ESPN's evaluation is… is just Mike Hart:
…strong, sturdy frame that can withstand punishment … powerfully built low to the ground and it helps his impressive balance. He has good, not great, speed …runs with good vision and is quick to attack the hole. He makes subtle cuts through traffic and is able to burst through tight seams with his quickness. He runs with good lean, behind his pads … also an effective stretch and plant cutter. … He breaks through first contact on a regular basis, runs hard and generates great downhill power and momentum. He keeps his legs and body churning on contact, frequently bouncing off tackles while retaining his balance and forward drive. … can struggle to make second level defenders miss to spring long runs.
Smith isn't quite the wizard at avoiding backfield contact that Hart was, but he compensates by bringing more power to his game… actually nevermind that. Smith does seem a bit faster in the open field. (If there was a stat for "most times caught from behind against one team," Mike Hart versus Michigan State would be your far and away record-holder.)
Scout's Allen Trieu amps the Hart comparison up by noting his "uncanny balance and ability to break arm tackles":
The kid is strong and runs with a refusal to be tackled. His ability to keep his feet while making cuts, breaking tackles and shoving would-be tacklers into the ground, is outstanding. He may not be a 4.4 guy, but we really like him.
Smith may not have breakaway speed, but he displays everything else you'd like to see when running the football: great initial burst, good vision through the hole, legs that don't stop moving upon contact, and the power to punish defenders for attempts to arm-tackle.
I mean… if you watch his junior highlights above they are littered with plays in which Smith bounces off arm tackles, nearly falls over, keeps his feet, breaks a couple more tackles, gets swarmed by three guys, and then drives the ever-agglomerating mass of humanity a couple more yards before everyone falls over. Like this:
Via Ace, obviously
The run before this and after this on his tape (starting around 3:30) are basically the same thing, as are many others.
That is something you can't teach. De'Veon Smith is good. I mean, this is two games from his junior year. Try and count the broken tackles:
While he's not going to bounce off four guys on many plays in college, frankly his highlight reel is more impressive than Derrick Green's. Green brings an elite level of size and speed that Smith doesn't quite, but I give the edge in high school faces crushed to Smith.
Smith was not a camp guy or a look-at-all-my-offers guy. As a result Rivals, the low outlier in his rankings, has frustratingly little to say about him that doesn't come from Tim Sullivan, who doesn't have a say in the rankings. I'm not sure their Ohio guy does either, but here's his take anyway:
"He's the classic Ohio power back," Givler said. "He's strong, runs with a lower center of gravity, with good pad level. He's not overly fast but he gets through the hole, and you don't always have to be a 4.4 guy to be a success. Look at this rivalry - Maurice Clarett and Mike Hart weren't the fastest guys but both were great players.
"The thing I like about Smith is that he's one of those guys that will be better with his 22nd carry than his sixth. He's a north-south runner that gets stronger as the game unfolds."
Ah, look, Mike Hart again.
Meanwhile in an evaluation that praises Smith for "being such a well-rounded back"—ie, everything—247's Todd Worly raves about his "explosive burst, footwork, and change of direction," pointing out that while Smith does lack pure straight line speed his short-area explosion is outstanding. (You can see this in his defensive highlights as well, as when he sticks a guy he goes backwards.) Worly also puts the ball security in context:
For a big play back that is regularly breaking tackles, it is very impressive that he has only fumbled twice in three years.
It's relatively easy for Carlos Brown to not fumble because strong winds will knock him over. For a guy constantly fighting for extra yardage to have that ball security is… well… it's a lot like Mike Hart.
And, of course, the pattern is fulfilled here as well. His coach:
"Probably his greatest asset - by far - is non-measureable: it's his presence," said Angle. "He has an aura about him. He's a team player, and when you're around him he just picks you up. He's never moody, and he's always got a smile on his face. That's his greatest asset, he just radiates confidence in the people that are around him, and he has it in himself in a very humble and unique way."
Is his coach done? Nope. Obviously not. This is Dick Angle, who should be interviewed all the time whether he has a player going to Michigan or not.
“To me he’s the perfect player. And he’s got an attitude that makes his work ethic outstanding,” Angle said. “He’s very humble and he’s probably the most likeable kid in our school let alone on our football team. And he’s a great team player and he’s a great motivator through his hard work.”
Sing Dick Angle, sing!
"He works on the things that he knows he might have slipped up on the week before, or he hasn't been working on, He's relentless in the weight room, he's relentless on the practice field, so he doesn't have to be told very much what needs to be done."
This is where the comparisons to Clarett stop.
Etc.: Your last piece of laughable Bucknuts homerism for the year is Smith's drop from #5 in the state to #14 after winning the DII offensive player of the year. BONUS Bucknuts commenter a couple years ago:
I'd take him and Derrick Green for the 2013 class of running backs and call it a day.
Sounds like a plan.
“I’ll tell you what I like about DeVeon, he gets angry when you hit him. It pisses him off when you hit him. He just runs harder and harder after he gets hit. He is a contact kind of guy."
Why Mike Hart? The post has addressed this in depth.
Guru Reliability: Low-plus. Wide spread in the rankings, no camps, no All Star game, but was a healthy, known quantity.
Variance: Low. Already at excellent playing weight, fumbles not an issue, not a product of those high school teams where no one ever touches you en route to the endzone (see: Ty Isaac).
Ceiling: High-minus. Pure long speed seemingly the only issue, and while that's a big one there are a lot of excellent qualities Smith brings.
General Excitement Level: High. I like him, a lot, especially in the tight spaces Michigan will give him to work in.
Projection: Everyone expects a redshirt and one really makes sense here with Fitz a senior, good depth, Green in the same class, and Michigan apparently content to swing for the Fournette fences in this recruiting class. I bet he's at worst the third-most talented back on the roster right now, but Michigan can get away with an older guy picking up those snaps.
After a redshirt year (or frustrating non-redshirt year with spare playing time), Smith should emerge into Derrick Green's backup or platoon-mate, depending on how good Smith and Green actually are. I wouldn't be surprised if he got 30% of the carries as a redshirt freshman unless Green is unbelievable. Smith should split carries with Green for the next two or three years before emerging into the starter as a junior or senior, whereupon Damien Harris will play platoon-mate/backup.
"First one of the year, huh? Here we go."
Here we go.
"Well it seems like we've been practicing for two months already and we've only had three. I don't know if that's a sign of old age or just the intensity of how we're going, but it's really good to be out here. It's good to be practicing again."
There hasn't been a whole lot of yelling. It's a lot more instructing. Do the kids seem to be on message?
"Well our style of coaching is teaching. And I think if you compare our staff -- I don't think a lot of times you have to do a lot of yelling. This team that we have right now is trying to do it right in every way. When a team's trying to do that, whether they're really young or making mistakes because they're young, as long as they're showing the effort that they are, there's really no reason to yell at them. You just have to correct them. When you have a young team, you have to be a great teacher. That's what our staff is really working hard to do."
So the effort is there?
"Yes. I've been really pleased. Now we don't have pads on yet obviously, and a lot of times what happens with programs, when pads come on, sometimes some programs slow down. I don't think that's going to happen with this team. This team seems to really really embrace and has bought into 'we must play as hard as we can on every play, and we have to get 11 bodies to the football.' When you watch practice with not pads on, we're getting 11 bodies to the football. We're getting really really good effort, so that's been positive."
<No pads. Nothing to see after the jump.>
"Is that salmon?"
"Canteloupe? We use that as an audible color. How you guys doing?"
"It's been a while. Can't tell you how much I've missed you. You guys kind of sensed a hint of sarcasm, didn't you? Heiko! I made you a hero. Unbelievable."
Thoughts on Devin's maturity?
"Yeah, he's doing a nice job. When you know that you've done it so long -- he's always been a pretty confident kid anyway, but now that he has a chance to kind of be the guy, I think he's taken the next step."
What's it like having two experienced tackles?
"Yeah, you know, when Taylor said he was coming back, that was a great, great day for Michigan and for our offense because breaking in a new left tackle is never fun. I don't care what level it is. But Mike Schofield, who doesn't get talked about as much but is really a good athlete. He can move. He was a hurdler in high school. He's got a lot of talent. Mike's played a lot. He's played guard, he's played tackle. I think he's kind of fit into a comfort zone a little bit with tackle, not to where he's complacent, but he's comfortable in the position now. He kind of had to relearn the position a little bit. He's been in the offense. He's been pretty consistent the first couple days and in the spring."
<Falsehoods galore after the jump>
UPDATE: NOW WITH 100% MORE BRANDON BROWN ANSWERS
It's that freshman you've all be waiting for. Michigan's new 5-star back was the highlight of this week's padless practice video. There are plenty more exciting carries to come, but just how many this year, and what's the expectation for sharing with the current starter? We try to tackle that. The backfield:
- Brian "Mike Hart except tall and hairy and into emo" Cook
- Seth "Anthony Thomas except more like a high-speed monorail" Fisher
- Ace "Tim Biakabutuka except better against Ohio State" Anbender
- Heiko "Dennis Norfleet except more Norfleet" Yang
- Blue "Brandon Minor in an alternate universe where he was forced to kick his way out of Charlie Weis's stomach" in South Bend
- Math- "Tom Harmon except more perspicacious" –lete , and introducing:
- Brandon "Like Jamie Morris if interviewed the linebackers as he ran by them" Brown
And the question:
Let's all make stupid predictions about running back carries this year. How many are there to go around? How many go to Toussaint, Green, guys down the batting order? Base expectations for YPC? Anybody cracking 1,000 yards this year? How about 10 TDs?
Seth: I believe Toussaint and the coaches that the senior RB who's proven he can torch defenses when given a reasonable amount of blocking will get the majority of carries this season. If I put us on a crappy graph (how do I make non-crappy graphs?) I'd be near the bullish Toussaint extreme and bearish on Green's yardage totals:
|Safe Prediction: Brian's YMRMFSPA for
Deveon Smith will be Brandon Minor
|2013 Seth's prediction:|
If the Green prediction in the above sound familiar you've been getting into the Chris Perry's freshman stats again. That year A-Train had a ludicrous 319 carries for 1733 yards and 18 TDs and Perry came on in the second half of the season as Thomas's No. 2 guy. They both got 5.4 YPC behind the best offensive line of my lifetime. No, this line won't be anywhere near that good; at best they're the 2000 line in 1997. That'll mean less to the No. 2 guy who gets the benefit of a softened defense and more trash time.
Regardless I'm going for a yard per carry better than last year thanks in part to more forgiving defenses, and a lot more attempts as QB carries (218 for 1455 yards with sacks removed last year) are halved in the world after Denard. When it's done Toussaint will emerge with a small majority of RB carries as he did last year, and increase his YPC to something under 5 but not that much.
I think Green will get more carries as the year progresses and he's worked into more two-back sets. In fact given the tight ends are still a developing thing, and Green's already 240 with reportedly advanced blocking techniques, and the fullbacks aren't anything special, why not make two-RB sets a regular feature in the Great Borgesian formation extravaganza? I was predicting something like that before Stephen Hopkins decided to
transfer [edit: give up football] and it didn't look so bad when it happened. I digress.
Green will severely eat into Rawls's opportunities, and unless they plan to redshirt Deveon Smith, last year's No. 2 back will have a tough battle to repeat half of last year's 57 carries. I'm of the mind that running backs don't change all that much (compared to other positions) over years in the program, and that Rawls won't suddenly develop the vision he didn't have last year. He remains what he is: Kevin Grady 2.0, albeit minus two stars of hype and any whiff of misbehavior. Having seen what we have in him, I'd like to see Smith pass him, since that would say nice things about Smith and set Michigan up nicely for the future.
I expect Justice Hayes will move into that 3rd down back role evacuated by Vincent Smith's graduation, and act as designated recipient of those fun throwback screens Borges loves. Obligatory Drake Johnson is on the roster note goes here. Maybe one of you guys know different but exactly zero hype on him from this spring made it my ears to corroborate the pre-bowl practice murmurs. Until I hear otherwise I'm figuring him for a non-factor.
Brian: Dennis Norfleet 500 carries for 5000 yards.
[After the jump: RB opinions from people like bloggers except more interesting]