I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
This qualifies as big enough news.
The twitters are reporting that linebackers coach Jay Hopson is expected to get the defensive coordinator job at Memphis. Dienhart:
Michigan LB coach Jay Hopson has been tabbed to be Memphis defensive coordinator.
Bruce Feldman is also reporting it.
Instant reaction: good luck with that, Memphis. This site's patience with Hopson ran out two plays into the Notre Dame game this year when Obi Ezeh failed to diagnose a screen and Armando Allen ran for 20 yards. That was Notre Dame's longest run of the year by 20 yards. (ZING!)
After that game I laid out a bunch of facts that pointed to a post-season exit:
Mouton and Ezeh belong to Jay Hopson, and the inside backers are the only guys who belong to Jay Hopson, and they're playing terribly. As far as recruiting goes, Hopson got shut out of Mississippi last year and was the guy responsible for recruiting both defensive tackles who bolted on Signing Day. …I don't recall any recruit mentioning Hopson this year. This blog's even got a tag about Mississippi because of it, and Michigan has shifted its focus away from all the places Hopson has connections. The number of kids they're recruiting in Mississippi is zero, and I can't recall anyone they're seriously involved with who's in the deep south.
Unless the two inside guys get radically better over the rest of the season, I wouldn't be surprised if Hopson was replaced.
After the Wisconsin debacle:
Wisconsin's passing game was almost exclusively zingers over the middle to incredibly open receivers 20 or even 30 yards downfield. On every damn one both MLBs were vastly out of position and the throws were easy. The pair was also very poor in run support: Graham and Martin combined for 21 tackles. They [Ezeh and Mouton] combined for eight!
These are returning starters and redshirt juniors. They have gotten so much worse this year, and it's obvious to everyone from Bret Bielema to stupid bloggers with charts. There is not quite enough data to outright support the ouster of a coach but I find it hard to believe that Jay Hopson could be any good. Maybe he just got stuck with mugs, but Jesus these guys can't even scrape to the right hole when Wisconsin is literally running the same play to different sides of the line four times in a row. Is this a defensive scheme change? I don't think so. Run to the damn hole.
Now that he's actually gone, it's no sugarcoat time: Hopson failed at all aspects of his job at Michigan. At least Tony Gibson can point to the walk-ons and whatnot when attempting to explain what went wrong with his section of the defense; Hopson had two redshirt juniors with three years of starting experience between them. They went backwards, and the big-time recruit backing them up also proved unready.
Meanwhile, a—possibly the—primary reason Michigan lacks depth on the defensive line and might have to turn down a couple of recruits who want to come was Hopson getting "commitments" from two defensive tackles who eventually went to Arkansas and Texas Tech on signing day. Arkansas and Texas Tech! It's not like Florida or Oklahoma or LSU swooped in on these guys.
When Michigan pulled out of any area Hopson had recruiting connections in and the linebackers imploded, this was a matter of time. Hopefully Michigan takes the opportunity to pick up a coach with serious experience or established recruiting chops. Michigan fans will immediately turn their eyes to Corwin Brown, who killed Michigan as Notre Dame's DB coach/DC, but he's an awkward fit because neither he nor Tony Gibson has ever coached linebackers. If Michigan hands the linebackers to Greg Robinson they might be able to use Gibson and Brown as ninja recruiters who split the secondary. I have no idea if that's possible; Robinson's last job as a position coach was a stretch as a DL coach for the Jets from 1990 to 1993. Since then it's been coordinator or head coach.
This makes Rodriguez 0/2 on his new hires since coming to Michigan, with Greg Robinson currently sporting an incomplete. If Rodriguez doesn't make it at Michigan the guys he picked to run his defense will be a primary factor.
Michigan 76 Coppin State 46, Michigan 6-5 (0-0 Big Ten)
Make no mistake about it, Coppin State is a horrible team. But for the first time since the very beginning of the year, Michigan did what they were supposed to do to an overmatched opponent, and completely ran them off the court. For a basketball team that had (and, in all fairness, probably still has) a lot of ills, the Eagles definitely treated most of the symptoms at the very least.
The shooting woes were dramatically improved, and although making a third of 3-point baskets is nothing to stop the presses over, it's a hell of a lot better than Michigan had been doing. Stu Douglass, in particular, was finally able to get going from beyond the arc, nailing 6 of 10 from long range. Zack Novak, on the other hand, struggled to the tune of 1-7 from 3-point land. If he can get into the same rhythm as Douglass, this team will get a lot better very quickly.
At times, the team seemed to be overly deliberate in running the offense, as they made passes instead of taking marginal looks, and got the shot clock well below 15 on most trips down the court. It didn't make for an exciting game of basketball most of the time, but it resulted in 25 assists on 30 made shots - and a 30-point win.
As good as Michigan looked last night, it's hard to take too much away from the performance. This was basically the basketball edition of Baby Seal U. But if the basketball team can do what the football team didn't, and regain some confidence and polish their game, it certainly looks a whole lot bright for the future.
- Manny Harris ended the game with 5 points. That's a tie for his second-worst scoring output since he's been at Michigan. He still had 7 assists, and would have had more if Michigan's shooters would have made a couple good looks. With more than a week to rest the hamstrings, this performance isn't too discouraging, right?
- In a 2-game sample size against teams at the opposite end of the "quality" spectrum, it appears safe to say that Michigan is better with Darius Morris coming off the bench. He had another solid performance in limited minutes.
- Speaking of Morris's minutes, I was a little disappointed to not see some of the bench guys get a little more time. The game was out of hand within a few minutes, so I would have liked to see Manny and the starters play less than 32 minutes, and get Gibson, Wright, Vogrich, and the depth players that will be needed during Big Ten play to get a little more comfortable on the court.
- It's nice that DeShawn Sims scored 18 points, and that's not even notable enough that I wouldn't have mentioned him except in this bullet, right?
- In a similar vein, it was nice to get a couple walkons and Cronin some playing time at the end. It was not nice, however, to see that Cronin is still very, very hurt.
- Sam Coleman for the Eagles played very well. He also received chants of "A-va-tar!" from the student section, because he looks like a character from the movie.
- The student section was tiny, by the way, and even those who were there were only half-hearted. It's hard to complain too much during Christmas Break, but it was a poor showing.
- The rest of the fans, however, showed up in strong numbers considering the timing and the opponent. There seemed to be at least as many people as were at the Detroit game.
"All I can say is it felt good, and basically everything that was going up I thought was going in." Stu Douglass, on his shooting performance.
"They were playing the zone, and I kinda felt bad sometimes I was so wide open up top. I didn't wanna shoot, I wanted to get the clock going a little bit. It was going in if I was gonna shoot it that wide open though." Stu Douglass, on his shooting.
"Kansas definitely helped. We kinda got our edge back and we kept it going here. It's huge for our confidence going into the Big Ten." Stu Douglass, on being prepared for conference play.
"I think it's more mental. I just gotta step up and shoot it and not think about it." Zack Novak on his shooting troubles.
"This is the right time for us to be shooting the ball a little better. We shot 33%, and it's sad to say that's improvement, but it's a big improvement" Zack Novak.
"I've got a lot of friends that go to school there, and it's almost like a high school game again for me, having all my friends in the stands. It'll be cool." Zack Novak, on travelling to Indiana next week.
"I come in every game trying to get guys involved... guys like Stu and DeShawn was making shots, so I just was driving and trying to set them up in good position to keep making shots." Manny Harris, on his distributor role.
"The main thing is I'm just happy that our defense was there tonight, and I know that's going to carry oer into the game with Indiana." Manny Harris.
"As far as our shooting woes, I don't think 33% answers the question, but it's double what we did at Kansas, so it's a step in the right direction." John Beilein.
"I still think he's a little slow trying to get by people, and they really packed it in on him, so one of his things was to make that extra pass. If we make a few more shots, he's got 10 assists a game." John Beilein, on Manny Harris.
"They just need to make these shots in games over and over and over again to get used to it again." John Beilein, on team shooting.
The Wolverines have a nice long break to rest and get healthy before they kick off Big Ten play. They'll head to Bloomington on New Year's Eve to face the Hoosiers. Indiana is improved from last year (when they nearly beat the Wolverines in Assembly Hall), but lost to Loyola Maryland last night, and trailed by 18 points at half. They are definitely a beatable squad.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Coppin State|
|WHERE||Ann Arbor, MI|
December 22nd, 2009
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
Michigan finally looked like a competent team again against Kansas, dropping an 11-point decision on the road to the #1 team in all the land. However, the shooting deficiencies continued. Though I said last week that it may just be a slump that players might snap out of, John Beilein said that this team may just not have the personnel necessary (though Zack Novak's illness affected his shooting stroke, so hopefully there's a bit of upside there, and if Manny's hamstring injury ever gets resolved, that could help as well). The solution, according to Beilein, may be to put up fewer threes. A game against an overmatched opponent like Coppin State may provide enough open looks for the players to regain some confidence, but we'll have to see.
Defensively, Michigan looked as good against Kansas as they have all year. Beilein said that the team is still working on implementing a few new wrinkles, and the coaches are coming up with new ways to teach the players to get the defense working properly.
Darius Morris came off the bench against Kansas on Saturday, and Beilein said the lineup will likely stay that way for the foreseeable future. Morris didn't have a problem with it, saying it gave him some time to get into the groove of the game before he was actually expected to contribute. In other personnel news, walkon Eric Puls has quit the team in an effort to get his engineering degree finished in 4 years, and Beilein grimly replied "we certainly hope not" when asked if Ben Cronin's injuries might threaten his career.
Just because the Eagles haven't been lighting the world on fire, the Wolverines are still going to take them seriously. Beilein said that they're a team who will do whatever it takes to stay in a game, which generally means play at a snail's pace to reduce the number of possessions. If they can stay in the game to the end, said Beilein, they're a definite threat to come away with the upset.
So far Coppin State has beaten only two opponents that hail from Division 1 in Maryland-Baltimore County and Loyola-Maryland. They have lost to Colorado, USC, Morgan State, and West Virginia. Guards Lenny Young, Vince Goldberry, and Kareem Brown are 1-2-3 on the team in scoring and Branden Doughty is a forward leading the team in rebounding.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Coppin State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||CSU Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. CSU Def eFG%||259||155||CC|
|Mich Def eFG% v. CSU eFG%||249||312||M|
|Mich TO% v. CSU Def TO%||3||141||MM|
|Mich Def TO% v. CSU TO%||41||204||MM|
|Mich OReb% v. CSU DReb%||233||346||MM|
|Mich DReb% v. CSU OReb%||300||319||M|
|Mich FTR v. CSU Opp FTR||300||275||C|
|Mich Opp FTR v. CSU FTR||14||272||MMM|
|Mich AdjO v. CSU AdjD||136||242||MM|
|Mich AdjD v. CSU AdjO||128||300||MM|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
As you can see, Michigan is better than Coppin State in just about every category. Aside from the Wolverines' inability to shoot and get to the line, Michigan has a huge advantage. Coppin State is surprisingly good at defending the three pointer, but so was Kansas and Michigan got a ton of open looks against the Jayhawks. It's a matter of actually hitting the looks that they get.
With Coppin's lack of size and Michigan's ongoing shooting troubles from the outside, you may see a heavy dose of DeShawn Sims scoring inside, or at least trying to draw the defense in to open things up from the outside. A number of backcuts may be available against an aggressive perimeter defense as well.
This looks like a similar game to Detroit on the face. For some reason though, I think it will get out of hand a little quicker than the contest against the Titans. It should be a low-scoring affair, with both teams playing at a slowwww pace (Unless you're a diehard hoops guy, or you aren't too interested in scoring, don't waste the 3 bucks to watch this one online). It should be played in the high 50s or low 60s, with Michigan getting a comfortable 15-point win.
Since it's unlikely Michigan is upset by the Eagles and it's going to be tough for people to watch on TV, I'm considering a CIL chat during the game. Vote for/against in the comments, and e-mail me if you're interested in helping moderate.
A special, oddly timed recruiting bit.
So Michigan is or was in on a few highly rated California prospects, most of whom seem ticketed elsewhere at the moment. The biggest one given Michigan's immediate need at safety was CA C Sean Parker, though, and plenty of grim resignation that he was headed to USC has given way to a strange new dawn where Parker says stuff like this*:
"I'm done with visits, it's USC, Michigan and Notre Dame right now," Parker said. "My plan is still the same as it has been the whole year, wait until Signing Day and then announce. I loved my visits to Michigan and Notre Dame and I've been to USC a number of times so I don't think I need to take another visit there.
"Michigan is recruiting me the hardest right now. That was also my favorite trip and I'm very high on them. I haven't talked to Brian Kelly at Notre Dame yet but he did leave me a message and I need to call him back.
A quick Google scour turns up some Irish fans having a mild freakout about a text eliminating ND and adding Cal sent to Irish Sports Daily shortly after that. Usually a late add like Cal is not a major factor, which leaves Michigan going head to head with USC.
Normally this would be bad, but USC has commits from Robert Woods, an "athlete" who projects to safety and is the #3 player in the country, Dion Bailey, the #7 safety according to Rivals, and pulled in a full class of four and five star defensive backs last year. So their depth chart is a tiny bit more crowded than Michigan's.
So… what I'm saying is that Sean Parker looks like an increasingly strong possibility in this class. Both premium sites have recently had an uptick in their optimism about his recruitment and I got a solid-seeming (but unconfirmed!) tip that Michigan was in excellent position.
That pickup would obviously be huge. Parker is a consensus four star at a position of extreme need, top 100 to Scout and the #26 player in the country to ESPN. But please don't break out the torches and pitchforks if this optimism doesn't come to fruition. The whims of high schoolers are fickle things.
*(This article is a free ESPN Insider preview at the moment, FWIW.)
Since High School seasons nationwide have come to an end, Friday Night Lights will be covering mostly All-Star games and All-State/League/etc. honors for committed players. Any future commits will also get the full treatment.
MD LB Josh Furman
Furman led his Old Mill Patriots to a Maryland State Championship, running over fools as a running back. Some of the specific games were tough to find (the local papers put articles more than a month old behind a paywall), but I was able to find full stats for his performance during the 12-2 season. He was named the MVP of his county.
Furman suffered a knee injury in the state final, and was unable to participate in yesterday's Maryland Crab Bowl.
|Josh Furman 2009|
|North County||W 27-6||17||141||3||8.29||1|
|North Point||W 24-0||23||147||2||6.39||1|
FL DT Richard Ash
Pahokee had a rough season, despite tons of D-1 talent (including Ash, 7 Pahokee players are already committed to BCS-conference programs, with at least 2-3 more likely to follow suit). They finished the year 6-5, including a loss to Glades Central in the Muck Bowl. I couldn't find individual stats for Ash, but he reportedly had an up-and-down season - just like the rest of the Blue Devils.
MI QB Devin Gardner
Named 1st-Team All-State at QB.
SC QB Conelius Jones
Jones had a pass thrown his way but was not able to get in the stat book. He saw a significant amount of playing time.
“It was a good all-star game. Everyone was fast and quick. It was an honor to be out here and playing.”
TX RB Tony Drake
Tony was named Honorable Mention All-State in Texas's 5A Division, the most competitive football division in the state (country?).
MI RB Austin White
Named Honorable Mention All-State at RB.
LA Slot WR Drew Dileo
MI WR Ricardo Miller
Named Honorable Mention All-State at WR.
MI WR Jeremy Jackson
Named 1st-Team All-State at WR.
Michigan has gained a commitment from MD LB/S Josh Furman. There was much rejoicing. How about we move on to the informative portion?
|4*, #20 S||3*, #28 ATH||3*, 78, #38 OLB|
All three recruiting site rank Furman at different positions, but it's most likely that he'll play linebacker when he gets to Ann Arbor. ESPN evaluates him at that position:
Furman is a big, rangy and physical football player with good vertical speed for such a lengthy athlete. Tall and physically intimidating as an outside linebacker. This guy is a real threat rushing from the outside. Has enough quickness to accelerate by an offensive tackle setting back to pass protect....
Don't just take their word for it, however, as Scout asked Furman himself to break down his game:
“I have great vision and explosiveness. I’m very athletic (claims a 40-inch vertical jump) and have great closing speed to the ball. I’m also real smooth and like to play old school like Erik Dickerson or powerful like Jim Brown. I want to improve my coverage on defense and be a better pass rusher. On offense I’m just working on my hands and catching the ball better.”
The word on Furman is that he's very, very athletic (as you'll see below). So why the low rankings? It might be due to the fact that he does most of his work as a high school running back, and needs to learn quite a bit before becoming a high-level defender:
In terms of skill set, Furman was a bit less extraordinary. Still, he showed good footwork in mirroring backs in one-on-one passing drills and overall athleticism pursuing and matching up in space. We did feel he looked a bit straight-lined in certain drills and also showed some stiffness and inflexibility at times. He projects best in a heavy-pressure defense in which he can attack vertically -- similar to the one he currently creates havoc in on his high school team.
Even then, though, he's highly productive (again, as you'll see in a little bit), which translates to high rankings, especially if he's ranked as an athlete, which Rivals does. In the case that hype does not match up with ranking, I guess it's better for us to go to the...
Practically everyone in the East offered Furman, including Pitt, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Duke, Virginia Tech, Rutgers, UConn and Syracuse. Outside of the East, he holds an Illinois offer, Of course he holds a Michigan offer (which he has accepted), and Oklahoma also extended him an offer.
As a senior, Furman ran wild on his team's way to the Maryland State Championship. He ran for a total of 2284 yards and 31 touchdowns in 14 games, averaging over 8 yards per carry (I can't find exact stats on his number of carries). Defensively, he racked up a few sacks and at least one interception, as well as a fumble returned 51 yards for a touchdown.
FAKE 40 TIME
The criteria for FAKEness needs to be explored a bit here, since Furman's 4.39 40-yard dash time is combine-verified. However, dude is a future linebacker, so that's a ridiculously fast time. The 4.39 was wind-aided, and we can probably assume it was on a pretty fast track. Laser-timed is laser-times though, so we'll give it 2 FAKEs out of 5.
There's a ton of video from individual games of Furman's senior year on the Youtube, as well as a number of highlight reels (this one from his junior year on defense):
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Furman is a bit of a project as a defensive player, but has the athleticism to be a useful player still. I would imagine he won't take a redshirt his freshman year, but will contribute on special teams in the "be-dreadlocked punt blocker" role that has been vacated by Brandon Smith, who is leaving the program.
After the first year, Furman will probably work his way into the rotation as a backup linebacker. The question is whether he will play in the Stevie Brown SAM spot, which seemingly has a logjam (Mike Jones, Brandin Hawthorne, et al), or in the WILL position, which will lose Jonas Mouton after next year (if he's even able to hold onto his starting spot in '10). My guess would be on the weakside, where there is more opportunity, and his skill set might fit a little better.
As a junior and senior, Furman will have a chance to become an important contributor, and eventually a starter/impact player. He's the type of athletic-yet-unpolished guy that Rich Rod and co. turned into stars time and again at West Virginia.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Furman has been written in pencil as a member of Michigan's 2010 class for a while now, so his official commitment doesn't change much. The Wolverines are down to just a couple spots available, with FL CB Tony Grimes and teammate DE Clarence Murphy expected to commit officially in February. Michigan will only take other commits if they're top prospects or at a position of need (or preferably both).