MICHIGAN DROPS THE PUCK on Sunday in an exhibition against Waterloo to kick off their 2013-2014 hockey campaign; things get real serious real fast after that as BC comes in for the season opener proper on Thursday the 10th. While I can't go into as much detail as I do with football, a conveniently-timed bye week provides a window in which to properly preview hockey, something I'm not sure I've ever done.
say hello to your next two-year captain, Andrew Copp
The following is a fanciful line chart that will be wrong from day one in many respects, and even more wrong when Red runs his line through a blender four times. But you've got to try:
|LEFT WING||YR||CENTER||YR||RIGHT WING||YR|
|Alex Guptill||Jr.||Andrew Copp||So.||Boo Nieves||So.|
|Phil Di Giuseppe||Jr.||JT Compher||Fr.||Derek DeBlois||Sr.|
|Tyler Motte||Fr.||Travis Lynch||Jr.||Luke Moffatt||Sr.|
|Evan Allen||Fr.||Justin Selman||So.||Zach Hyman||Jr.|
ALSO: Andrew Sinelli (Jr), Alex Kile (Fr), Max Shuart (Fr)
I call him mini-Copp
CENTER. The theory here is that a year after Michigan struggled with leadership everywhere they will prioritize guys who give maximum effort on every shift and build the team around a core of hard-ass centers. Andrew Copp is obvious. Copp was handed the reins of the top line halfway through the season and almost singlehandedly turned the attitude of the team around. Copp worked his ass off, inspired Alex Guptill to great heights, and finished the year with something of a scoring flourish. He's still developing after a career as a high school quarterback made hockey a part-time pastime, and his freshman year was good enough to draw the attention of the NHL after being passed over a year ago. If Michigan can make good on the promise of their late season run this year and for the next few, Copp will go down like Ortmeyer or Hagelin.
Meanwhile, every scouting report on incoming freshman JT Compher goes out of its way to praise Compher's compete level and two-way play:
Compher's NTDP coach Don Granato summed it up pretty well in Compher's hometown newspaper: ""Anything intangible, as far as an attribute, that I’ve mentioned, he’s a 10."
The phrase "two-way forward" is often the polite cliche for a player with not a lot of offensive talent, but in Compher's case, it's not used in a derogatory fashion. Compher is one of the rare skilled players that exhibits the same effort and enthusiasm without the puck that he does with the puck. He's a tenacious, sometimes nasty, defender that makes life difficult for opponents. His compete level all over the ice is among the best in the draft.
Despite not having awesome size or speed, Compher led the NTDP in PPG last year. He is ready for a lot of responsibility, probably right now. Billy Powers isn't even being coy about it:
J.T. is a guy who really has a lot of tools. He’s being talked about a lot as a defensive, third-line forward type but there’s some offensive potential there as well, and we think that will flourish in college. We see him as a power play, penalty kill player right from the start, and he’ll manage a line as a center in our top six.
If you thought one Copp was rather nice, two Copps will be like heaven after suffering through last year.
[After THE JUMP: actual rather a lot of depth.]
The Peter Principle Has Its Limits...
...those limits include allowing 62 points to Arizona State, apparently. (Photo: USA Today)
USC fired Lane Kiffin upon his return to Los Angeles after the Trojans fell 62-41 at Arizona State, their seventh loss in the last 11 games. The method? Coooooold bloooooded.
Lane Kiffin remained on the bus when a #USC administrator blocked the gate and stopped bus, asking Kiffin to step off
— InsideUSC (@InsideUSC) September 30, 2013
Lane Kiffin told bus to stay but adminisrator told driver to go to #USC with Kiffin's briefcase still on the bus
— InsideUSC (@InsideUSC) September 30, 2013
Pat Haden then fired Lane Kiffin in parking lot at Landmark Aviation at LAX. A football staff member then got sent to USC to get briefcase
— InsideUSC (@InsideUSC) September 30, 2013
The InsideUSC feed is a font of Kiffin schadenfreude; the players are just as happy as the admistrators to get rid of him, it appears. When you're done enjoying that, it's time to address the truly important question: how does Kiffin's firing affect Michigan's recruiting?
In all likelihood, not a great deal. Kiffin's firing at this juncture not only boosts USC's morale for the rest of the season—more importantly, it gives them a jump start on reeling in a big-name replacement, and the Trojans program carries enough cachet that the list of potential successors is quite distinguished. USC may experience a dip in recruiting efforts while they wait to find the right replacement; if they hire a coach worthy of the program—and I'm assuming they will—then they should be back to full speed for the 2015 class. Those in need of an example of how this works at powerhouse programs need only look at Michigan's recruiting efforts once Brady Hoke got to recruit for a full cycle.
There is, however, an opening in the 2014 class, as USC is one of the schools competing with Michigan for CA ATH John "JuJu" Smith—the childhood USC fan had already read the tea leaves, per 247:
Similar to five-star Adoree’ Jackson, Smith is one of the most highly recruited uncommitted prospects out west and is a five-star prospect that could play either side of the football. Also similar to Jackson, Smith is a major USC priority and hails from a talent factory at Long Beach Poly.
“I already knew it was coming. So it doesn’t change anything until they do something.”
Smith seems to have cooled on USC since Kiffin's job security came under serious question; while the right hire could get the Trojans right back in the mix, there's a real chance that he heads out of state, with official visits already lined up to Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Oregon. UCLA is also in the mix. Pulling blue-chip recruits out of California is never easy, but Michigan's done so before, and Smith is actually in contact with one such player who hails from the same high school, per The Wolverine's Andy Reid ($):
"Michigan hasn't offered a kid from Poly since Donovan Warren. I'm the one that's next. I've talked a bit to him, good kid. Just saying the name 'Donovan Warren' is like saying Michigan right off the bat at Poly."
That's a good sign, as is Michigan getting Smith's final official visit. With such fierce competition for his signature—look out for Oregon, as Smith cancelled an Ole Miss official to get them on his schedule—and five visits to go, his recruitment could go in just about any direction; that includes USC if they make the right hire at the right time.
[Hit THE JUMP for Wilton Speight's thoughts on Da'Shawn Hand, a wrapup of Michigan commit performances from last weekend, and more.]
Downside: I am no longer able to objectively evaluate his performance.
Indeed. Plaque up at Crisler.
Michigan's started preseason practice, looking less skinny or more skinny as appropriate. Stauskas in particular looks a lot more likely to power through contact this year:
YOU ARE DOING A BAD JOB AT DEFENSE, FOREGROUND
Unfortunately, Mitch McGary's got a lower back thing that's limiting him. A big guy getting a nagging old person injury is a thing that turns out to be chronic unfortunately often, but the noises from Beilein about it are encouraging:
"It's been day-to-day, pretty much all fall, and we're moving forward from there," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "I'm very hopeful it'll be gone before too long.
"He's done some on-and-off things this fall."
McGary blew up various skills camps this summer, so whatever it is it's a recent thing.
Soldier on. Michigan does not change its depth chart on the OL. That probably means nothing; FWIW.
Bo's phone call. Mason relates what happened after the 38-35 Buffalo Stampede game in which Minnesota ran rampant on Michigan:
“We ended up basically being able to run the ball against anybody,” Mason said. “When we blew that game against Michigan in ’03, after we had a 21-point lead, my secretary took a call on Monday and said, ‘[Former Michigan coach] Bo Schembechler’s on the phone.’
“I picked up and Bo said, ‘Mason, I never thought I’d see the day when Notre Dame or Ohio State rushed for 424 yards against Michigan, much less Minnesota,’ and then he hung up.”
Bo probably threw in some other words that Mason left out.
Also, Glen Mason's take on what Minnesota's doing is relevant to our current interests:
“There are less moving parts with the read option"
Brace for impact. Michigan is currently a whopping 21 point favorite over Minnesota after opening at 16.5. It is unclear whether that projects turnover margin or final score.
Minnesota did look completely terrible against Iowa, losing 23-7 and barely getting across the line of scrimmage on its 27 rushing attempts. For the game they had 27 yards rushing, 135 passing, and threw two picks. The jury's still out on Iowa's defense, which seems improved but ceded 30 to NIU and 21 to Iowa State; Minnesota looks like a product of its schedule.
Yes, even more so than Michigan does, sheesh. Thus the line cited above.
Meanwhile, across the triangle of hate Iowa fans are feeling rather chipper after matching last year's win total in week 5. Highlights:
Iowa's athletic department has figured out how to use the "upload" button on YouTube
Rudock has some decent wheels; Mike Patrick can be boring about a 74-yard touchdown; Michigan's nose tackles watched this game and said "FINALLY WE WILL BE ON THE FIELD" to themselves.
Jacobi points out that Iowa is actually a slight favorite(!) for this weekend's matchup against Michigan State. Projected final score: 1.
You kickstarted this. Martavious Odoms's thing bears fruit (HA!):
We have brought you low. Michigan instrumental in midseason firing of Paul Pasqualoni. Yes. That is the ticket. Ignore the 41-12 loss to Buffalo behind the curtain. Also in expectation-dampening sad things: Akron loses by lots, Notre Dame loses by lots, Central Michigan loses by lots. I liked this season better three weeks ago.
Why fire Pasqualoni now?
It's all happening.
60 minutes of unnecessarily rough pass interference somewhere else. Actually, various folks are chattering about Michigan State DC Pat Narduzzi taking the UConn job:
Spoke w some coaches re: UConn. Strong feeling among group I spoke w that Pat Narduzzi will get good look.
This tweet gets a hilarious set of responses that are exactly what you'd expect: MSU fans painting the UConn program as a deathtrap and saying things like…
Unless he gets offered a place like Texas I honestly don't see it happening. His kids love it hear and he is very close
The opposite of Indiana. In a not good way. Via Chantel Jennings, the dichotomy of Michigan State in stark relief:
Indiana | Oct. 19
Big Ten rank:
Total offense: No. 1
Total defense: No. 11
Michigan State | Nov. 2
Big Ten rank:
Total offense: No. 11
Total defense: No. 1
Who is State ahead of? Purdue, obviously. Obviously Purdue. Indiana is ahead of Nebraska. Think about that when you consider the depths to which Bo Pelini's defense has sunk. #Kiffin4Nebraska
Etc.: Details of the Harmon exhibit at the Bentley. Boy, do I not care about Michigan's spot in the polls right now. Illinois pounds Miami (Not That Miami). I don't understand this thing about a dog named Jake Butt. The history of Michigan decals.
In case you haven't noticed, FBO has taken a back seat this year while I've focused more on other work (FFFF, GIFs, the hoops preview mag, etc.) and attempted to save my body the wear and tear that led to me barely hanging on through basketball season. Instead of spending my Fridays heading out to games, I've been looking for online streams of Michigan commits and other available film to break down. In that vein, if you're in the area of a U-M commit or target and are interested in filming a game for me to analyze, please email me.
Highland vs. East Overview
This game did not got well from Highland's standpoint, as the Rams coughed up seven(!) turnovers and managed just 128 yards of offense in a 29-7 loss. The defense barely had time to breathe between possessions and the turnovers repeatedly put them in tough situations:
Four of Highland’s six first-half possessions resulted in turnovers — two fumbles, two interceptions — and East’s average starting field position on those four drives was Highland’s 31-yard line.
Good teams make a living punishing mistakes, and East did just that.
After missing a field goal following their first takeaway, the Leopards punched the next three into the end zone to open up a 22-0 halftime lead.
East's triple-option attack allowed them to largely avoid Mone on the interior while hitting the edge or utilizing play-action to move the ball down the field—the star of the game was one of East's wing-backs, Malakai Solovi, who rushed 104 yards and a pair of TDs as Highland repeatedly lost contain. The Rams offense was unable to generate anything even when they weren't giving away possessions, leading to a rote blowout.
Bryan Mone Film
Film courtesy of WATCHit Network, which has the whole game available on YouTube.
This is just about every snap of Mone on defense (he also played several snaps at offensive guard, and a couple late cuts to the action made it impossible to see him on a couple defensive snaps). As you'll see, the plays are broken down into categories. This is when I note that I'm not a coach or even a former player, so if I've filed something as good that's actually bad, or vice versa, please point out my error in the comments.
Apologies for some of the quick cuts and hard-to-read descriptions; next time I'll leave more room between snaps so it's easier to point out a player and add commentary. If you have any suggestions for the format, as always, let me know in the comments.
[Further impressions from the film can be found below THE JUMP.]
Ht/Wt: 6'2" / 190 lbs.
Location: Hart High School – Newhall, CA
Offers: San Jose State
Rankings: 4*, #99 in 247 Composite.
Brady White. That name just sounds like a Michigan quarterback. Young Mr. White himself said that he loves how it sounds and digs the fact that Michigan fans think that about him.
White hails from California and tells me that he has drawn some comparisons to another California native, Tom Brady. Another player that he feels like his game mirrors is Tony Romo thanks to his mobility and unorthodox arm talent. White boasts a sub-4.7 40 and says that while he is listed as a pocket passer he feels more than confident in his ability to move the chains with his legs. He has a gunslinger mentality: “I love to air it out and I just love to make big plays.”
White currently holds an offer from San Jose State and says he’s in regular contact with head coaches and offensive coordinators from Oregon, Washington, Cal, Florida, Oklahoma State, UCLA, and Colorado. He also receives regular mail from Michigan, Alabama, Auburn, Miami, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Mississippi State.
Michigan sent mail to him the day we chatted and while he described Michigan’s pursuit of him as “not that hard right now”, he followed that by saying he loves Michigan and they are definitely a top school for him. He named Michigan and Oregon as two schools he’d really like to get an offer from, but maintains that he is open to anyone at this point.
White’s father is a former UCLA Bruin so naturally Brady grew up rooting for them, but once he got into junior high and started getting attention as a quarterback recruit he has tried to remain neutral as a fan. I asked him if Michigan might be a place where he could do that and he said they fit into what he’s looking for. He has obviously done his homework:
“Michigan has got the largest stadium in the country and it was built in 1927. They have the most wins, 11 national titles, 42 Big Ten championships, and also the highest winning percentage. Obviously it has an amazing tradition with players like Desmond Howard and Tom Brady. I know a good bit about Michigan but I am still learning.”
Even if he Googled this knowledge, it sure sounds like he's interested.
White's plan for his recruitment remains open:
“I’d like to make a decision once I have found the right fit for me. Whether that is soon or later I don’t know but I am looking for a school that has a great football program and that is invested in me. I want the coaches to show their confidence in me in running their team. I want to find a system where I feel like I can succeed. I also want to have a very close and special feeling relationship with the coaches and the players. I really want a comfortable environment and to just feel wanted.”
White seems to be looking for the type of relationship that I hear every Michigan target gush about when it comes to the current coaches. Every parent, player, and high school coach that spends time with Hoke, Mattison, Borges, and their wives just absolutely lights up when they speak to me about the family feel. If Michigan chooses to pursue Brady White with any level of aggression I think they could become a serious contender for his services.