this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Denard Robinson and Vincent Smith
When you guys went exclusively to running in second half, how much of that was by design, and how much of that was your reads? Denard: “Reads. I mean, most of the time it was just reads, and that’s what happened.”
Why did that happen? How did this game turn into having to run the ball a lot in order to win the game? Denard: “We just go with the flow of the game, and what happens happened.” Smith: “The big guys up front, they did an excellent job of blocking, and we just took what the defense gave us. Eastern came out and played a good game of football.”
Vince, how many carries can you handle per game? Smith: “Whatever the team needs to win, I’m there. However many carries I need for my team to win, that’s how many carries I can handle.”
You had more than 100 yards rushing, which is usually really good for a running back. Is it intimidating that your quarterback has nearly twice that? Smith: “Not at all. We don’t even look at it that way. It’s whatever for the team. If we need the quarterback to score a touchdown [rather] than the running back -- we both compliment each other on the game.”
Can you comment on your slow start on offense and how important the 97-yard TD drive was? Denard: “We came out a little flat, but on the 97-yard drive, we picked up some momentum, and that kept us going the entire game.”
Does starting slow bother you? Denard: “We wanted to come out fast, and that’s what we’ve been focusing on everyday. Talking about coming out fast and getting off to a good start.”
Is there a reason? Denard: “No, there’s no reason. There’s no reason for it.”
Can you comment on Thomas Gordon’s 1-handed INT? Smith: “I saw it from the big screen. It was a great catch.” Denard: “When he first came in my freshman year I saw him do crazy stuff like that, so I knew he could do it.”
Can you breakdown the TD pass to Dileo, and can you talk about other throws today where you were off? Denard: “The pass to Drew Dileo. It’s a read, basically. I just read it out, and he came open and I gave it to him.”
Vince, do you feel like you have to prove you’re an every down back? Smith: “Just like I said, it’s all about the team. Whenever we needed a running back to step up when the game’s not going well, we feel like whatever for the team. Somebody’s going to step up and get the job done.”
How did you feel about your performance in passing game? Denard: “I mean, I always have time for improvement and room for improvement, so that’s the biggest room.”
Coach wanted to get tailbacks going. How big was it to get Vince going? Denard: “It was big, I mean, when he starts running well, they start crashing down on him, I can get the ball and read it out and get the ball and run some. When things like that start happening, it’s kind of hard for the defense to stop.”
What do you think you need to do better in passing game? Denard: “Come back on Sunday and come to work. Do everything coach tells me to do.”
Anything you want to address specifically? Denard: “We’ll see on film. Have to see the film first.”
Did you feel like you’re seeing the receivers and the passing lanes all right? Denard: “Oh yeah, oh yeah. We’ve been practicing for weeks, so I can see pretty good.” Looked to me like you were throwing behind guys a lot. “No. I don’t think -- no.”
Your numbers were like some games last year. Did you feel like last year or was it different? Denard: “I don’t know. I get caught up in the game, so whatever’s going on is going on.”
You had that one long run where you cut across the field. What did you see? Denard: “Which one are you talking about?” It was your longest run, I believe. It was 53-yarder or something? “I was kind of being patient. I thought ‘Tree was probably going to push the guy down or something. I should have just sped up and gotten up there and not taken the side.”
After the Notre Dame game, was it a little bit tough to get going in a noon game? Denard: “Everybody was just getting ready for the game. We had Kevin Koger in the locker room talking to us. We call him Hypeman86. We were just ready to go. We have another chance to play football, and that’s what we’ve been working on all summer.”
(more after the jump)
Michigan bolstered their special teams depth and added a scholarship-level punter on the cheap yesterday when Fenton (MI) punter Kenny Allen agreed to join the team in 2012 as a preferred walk-on. Allen should provide quality insurance in case Will Hagerup gets the proverbial third strike and could easily be a multi-year starter once (well, I guess if) Hagerup graduates.
|NR P||2*, #13 K||2*, #33 K||NR P|
Unfortunately, none of the recruiting websites that have Allen ranked evaluate him as a punter, but they do have a couple evaluations available, though they all agree that he's in the 6'3", 190-pound range, for whatever that's worth. Scout has this report from kicking guru Chris Sailer:
Kenny is a great combo prospect (K/P). A good athlete that shows great potential in all areas. Has the skills to be one of the very best. A hard worker, that will only continue to improve. Kenny is big, tall, strong, and athletic. A great combo prospect. Punts for great distance and shows nice consistency. Definite D1A prospect.
ESPN has this to add ($):
Kenny is a very good kicker/punter. His strength right now is his punting. He showed very well at a Kohl's training camp and will be a very good college punter. His frame and overall leg speed make him an attractive punting candidate. The ball jumps off his foot and he does a good job of presenting a consistent target to hit with his drop. Kenny is a college level punter from a talent perspective.
Sailer has a website with his own independent recruiting rankings, and he has Allen as 4.5-star prospect (five being a Division I prospect, four being Division II, and so on), and ranks him as the #10 specialist overall and #2 combo prospect (there are also two other punters ahead of him) in the high school ranks in 2011. Sailer's latest evaluation of Allen:
Kenny is a very talented young punter. He has the size and athleticism to dominate in this area. Can hit a huge ball. Also a great kicker. A top combo prosepect [sic] in the Class of 2012. Will be a scholarship pick!
Allen also came in for praise in February at Jamie Kohl's Midwest kicking camp:
Three punters that impressed were Kenny Allen, a 2012 punter from Fenton High School in Michigan, R.J. Bain, a 2012 punter from Michigan and Sean Decloux from Canada. Allen's smooth mechanics and long frame should draw college interest in the years to come.
Finally, a couple of self-evaluations from Allen himself, the first from the Flint Journal...
The right-footed kicker indicated that he has been booting field goals in the 50-yard range during the Tigers' practices this summer.
"I feel I contribute a lot," Allen said. "I've been growing, getting a lot stronger with my legs. "I've been fixing my mechanics and working out the errors.I've kicked thousands of footballs. It's like muscle memory."
...and then this fantastic quote from a paywalled article on 247Sports [emphasis mine]:
“My strength is consistency,” Allen said. “On my bad ones, it’s still good.”
So, Kenny Allen turns bad into good. I like this.
Allen held a scholarship offer from Oregon State, and Rivals reports he had interest from Alabama, Iowa, LSU, Miami (YTM), and a host of MAC schools.
Sailer reports that through the first few weeks of this season, Allen averaged 43.0 yards per punt.
Junior stats via the Flint Journal:
Allen averaged 39.1 yards per punt as a junior, with his longest effort being 71 yards against Walled Lake Central on Nov. 12, 2010.
He was 3-of-5 on field goal attempts and had 37 touchbacks. He was an unanimous All-Metro League first-team pick as a punter while earning honorable mention honors as a kicker.
71 yards? Yes, please.
FAKE 40 TIME
He's a punter.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Don't let the walk-on tag fool you—Allen is a scholarship-level punter, as the Oregon State offer
belies shows. Allen will arrive on campus when Hagerup is a junior and—barring any further off-field shenanigans from Hagerup—he should be able to redshirt in his first year on campus. That'll leave him with another year as Hagerup's apprentice, then he'll compete with Matt Wile (who has struggled thus far with his punting and could just stick to kicking) for the starting job as a redshirt sophomore. From the looks of it, Allen should help Michigan have a seamless transition after Hagerup graduates, and provide quality depth at the position in case of injury/suspension.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Since Allen is a walk-on, even turning down at least one scholarship opportunity to play for his home-state team, he won't factor in to the oncoming numbers crunch as the Wolverines finish out the 2012 class. The needs continue to be at wide receiver, defensive tackle, offensive tackle, and perhaps running back.
Are you glad you scheduled San Diego State? "Uh ... no."
How did this game turn into running Denard 25 times? Was that part of the game plan? “Uh, no, we don’t want to get him beat up. We’re going to play in a pretty physical league, so we have to make sure we get it out of the way. I thought Vince and those guys did a nice job. Vince and Touss’, did a good job running the football. It takes a toll on your body. He’s not the biggest guy in the world.”
How much of defensive struggle in the first quarter was them outscheming you vs. them winning the battle up front? “I think that the jet sweep, which is part of their offense -- it hasn’t been a huge part depending on different things that you watch game-wise, but I thought that was really where they hurt us early in the football game. But after the guys settled down and got used to where they tried to leverage you, they played pretty well.”
Can Vincent Smith be the lead back? “He ran the ball pretty well today. Until you analyze it, look at it, and really evaluate it, I would hate to say that.”
Thomas Gordon made two big plays. Talk about him, please. “Thomas had a really good summer, and it starts there [with] what he did with his weight and how he reported to camp. I think his attitude and Michigan football being important to him, and his teammates being important, and just the way he’s come to practice everyday, I’m really proud of him for doing those things. It’s paying off for him and paying off for us.”
Did the team seem flat early? “No -- [Eastern Michigan’s coaches] are good coaches too. I think they had a good plan. I think a lot of the movement and some of those things, they’re a little bit unconventional as it is from that standpoint. I thought they did a good job.”
What can you do to get passing game going? “I think we just have to be better with our feet. Setting our feet on some of our throws. That’s usually where it starts with our quarterback. We need to do a better job there. It would have helped with some possessions early in the ballgame, if we make a couple first downs.”
This is the third game you started slow on defense. Is there a way to combat that? “If there was, I think we would have tried to do that. We just have to execute some things better. There’s not a real answer to it besides we have to keep working on it and keep playing hard with it. Guys have to do a great job in practice, which they have. That part of our team has really made some good strides. It’s coming along.”
Can you talk about in-game adjustments to shore up defense? “You always have the things that you want to run from a defensive perspective. And there’s also things that may be on the fringe. We were pretty vanilla and pretty base today. But there’s a couple movements Greg called that helped us. A couple adjustments coverage-wise that helped us. More on the run support than the actually coverage.”
When it was 28-3, did you think about giving Devin some snaps? “Not really. I’ve been around this game a long time, and I never feel real comfortable until it’s :00 on the clock. We wanted to down and put the ball in the endzone, and unfortunately we didn’t.”
Assess how the defensive front did today. “I felt them a little more this week. I felt Mike, I felt Craig, and Ryan. I felt those three guys than I have.”
Running game -- what started clicking for you, and how big was it to have Vincent Smith to complement Denard? “It’s huge. I’m not going to sit here and tell you it’s not. The offensive staff came in at halftime, and said, ‘This is what we liked, this is how we’re want to align it formationally, this is how we need to tweak the blocking of it,’ and it went pretty well. Vince did a nice job. He made one cut too many on one run, but he did a nice job with his vision, and I thought Fitz did also.”
When you get a tailback going, what does it do for confidence of running backs as a whole? “They’re all very competitive. I also think they all want to play. But I think they also are very supportive of each other.”
Jibreel made a difference out there. Talk about him. “I think Jibreel’s played pretty consistent the last two games. I just didn’t feel him as much as I felt those other guys.”
Another big play by Kovacs on fourth-and-one. What happened? “It was a man coverage situation, and he was locked on that guy, and he did a tremendous job of beating the guy to the edge, to be honest with you. It’s something that Curt Mallory had worked with those guys all week.”
You’re off to a 3-0 start. This happened the last few years, too. Tougher opponents ahead. Cold shower? “Tougher opponents – I think they’re all tough. Believe me. College football – they’re all tough. Every game is such a from-the-neck-up football game. We’re a different team. I mean, yeah, we’ve been there, but we have to improve so much tomorrow when we look at the film and see, maybe we got out-leveraged here on this and why. There’s some urgency things when you’re setting up front, and guys getting lined up and all those things. Not getting technical, but we’ve got to go to work. I am not the funnest guy in the world like I am today, but Sunday to Friday, we have work to do.”
Second week in a row Gallon’s done some good things. Talk about him. “Well I think Jeremy’s another one of those guys who really, you could sense some things in his demeanor. Change in the spring. He had a really good summer, and good fall camp. He’s earning respect because of how he’s coming to work, how he’s playing.”
Denard had some problems passing. What do you want to see from receivers to help him out? “That one interception, that was kind of a bang-bang deal. I think Junior – if he comes back a little bit more, he maybe could have bodied the guy more and been in a better position. We’re pleased with our quarterback and I’m glad he’s at Michigan.”
You talked about Denard setting his feet. How hard is it to get him to set his feet when he loves to run so much? “I think it always is [hard] when you have a guy who can make multiple plays because of his athelticism. There’s no doubt that it’s a little more difficult. It is, and he’s done a nice job, and we just have to keep working, and he’s got to keep working on it and focusing and concentrating on that improvement in his game.”
Are Herron and Cam Gordon close to coming back? “Cam is real close, and so is Herron. I would think they’d both be ready next week.”
We didn’t see a lot of power runs today. A lot of spread instead. Is this by design or just playing more to Denard’s strengths as the game goes along? “It’s kind of what we’ve been since we started in the spring, to be honest with you. The quarterback power is still the power play, the read zone a little bit, and a couple things how we’re blocking that a little bit different depending on front. When we got I-backs today -- and Phil Snow’s a tremendous defensive coordinator, the guy has a tremendous pedigree -- he was going to load the box. That’s when we had a couple opportunities with some throws, because it’s all man coverage. You connect on those and the game changes a little bit.”
Thoughts on next game? “A guy from San Diego would ask that, wouldn’t he? I tell you, we have our hands full. That’s a very good football team, and a wel- coached football team, and a talented team. We’re going to try and get by the next 12 hours and then focus on that one.”
Glad you scheduled them? “Uh … no.”
Craig Roh got some stats today. Talk about him, too, please. “I thought he played more physical today. I thought he played with a little bit of a different mentality. He was aggressive. And you can really tell how he prepared all week he was going to do a great job for us today.”
Michael Schofield made an appearance -- what happened with Ricky Barnum? “His shoe came off. He’s got big feet. To get a big shoe on a big foot, sometimes it takes time.”
The way you guys end the game isn’t how you always start the game. What’s the deal? “I think it’s a little bit of both. I think both units, offensively and defensively … their respective coaches do a tremendous job of gathering information during possessions during the first half and coming in there as a group and each other’s room, taking some things out, putting some things in, making some adjustments, and relaying them to the kids so they can understand it. We [as coaches] can understand it all we want, but it doesn’t do us any good. If they understand it, then you’re going to make progress.”
When Denard struggles in the passing game, do you actively give him more carries to get him into rhythm? “I don’t know if we do that. I think your comfort level that you always want your quarterback to have is important, because he and the center and the only two guys that will touch the ball every play. Al looked at where we were and what we needed to do, and because we have worked on both styles so much, it’s easy to revert back and forth.”
Five on Friday with a bunch of tabs I couldn't close without posting on 'em, so quickly:
RBUAS. It took until freakin' Friday but RBUAS is all writing about Notre Dame and Denard.
Explosion recapping. A couple of videos from the stands on Saturday follow. First the Smith touchdown:
Then the game winner:
The greatest profile in the history of running backs coaches. The Daily hits up Fred Jackson:
“I know I can sell this place as well as anybody,” Jackson said. “I’ve known about this place since the '70s.”
The rest is right out of Bo's textbook.
“This is Michigan. Whatever you put in this article you’ve got to know that that’s what I sell kids. This is Michigan. This is not any other school.
“Like Bo said, ‘Those who stay will be champions.’ You feel like you’re a champion here.”
No one is declared the ____ ever, unfortunately.
A man after my own heart. TOC's HeckDorland previews Notre Dame, which is only indirectly relevant to your interests, but I enjoyed this paragraph:
Anyone making a prediction on how "up" or "down" Notre Dame will be for this game is likely dumb. This sort of armchair psychology is insufferable, typically unsupported by data, and seemingly everywhere, even forming the crux of some predictions.
HOWEVA, drawing comparisons between Michael Floyd and BJ Cunningham after Floyd played two BCS defenses (at least technically, in Michigan's case) and Cunningham went up against some Penguins and Owls… eh… not sure if I agree with that policework there.
On what's supposed to happen. I totally forgot to link BWS's picture page items this week, but here's a mailbag on the last ND touchdown that goes into even more detail about what happened than you've already gotten.
If you say so. Gary Moeller on the Desmond Howard edition of The Catch:
Moeller: "You know what we’re gonna do right now? He’s gonna throw it to Desmond and Desmond’s going to score a touchdown…”
Audio at MVictors.
Etc.: Penn State fans not so happy with Beaver Stadium atmosphere. Yes, I'm an old man. Let's at least be careful here. More Denard good, Denard bad breakdown from Dreaded Judgment. Picture-paging of the early Hemingway TD. Pick Six standings and results. I'm as happy as I can be w/ my picks since Notre Dame is the only laggard. Austin Hatch continues to get better, eats chicken wings.
Other stuff: EMU blog Eagle Totem does the Q&A thing with this here blog, MNB. Know Your Foe from the MZone. TTB predicts the annual Mike Cox long run against crappy competition. BWS lays out expectations. Will Campbell features. Surprise! No. M&GB and M&BN both put more effort into their previews than I did.
|WHAT||Michigan vs Eastern Michigan|
|WHERE||Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
September 17th 2011
|THE LINE||Michigan –29.5|
Q: is "Embrace the Process" the world's worst motivational slogan or Ron English expressing disapproval of Brady Hoke criticism?
A: WHY DID YOU LEAVE TWO DEEP SAFETIES BACK AGAINST ARMANTI EDWARDS YOU TWIT
Run Offense vs. Eastern Michigan
Eastern's only games this year have come against FCS opponents, which tells you something about the program: they aren't even thinking about getting to six wins and a bowl game.
For what it's worth, EMU was 118th in rushing defense last year, giving up over 230 yards per game at over six yards per attempt. When Jerry Kill's NIU Huskies and their #7 rushing attack rolled in at the end of the season, the carnage was impressive: 544 yards and eight touchdowns. NIU averaged over 15 yards a carry!
Key Matchup: There is no key matchup.
Thing That Would Make Me Feel Better About The Big Ten Schedule: I'm not sure there is one. I'm sure we'll get a heavy dose of I-form. It'll be interesting to see whether or not Michigan can eclipse EMU's YPC average from last year from actual I-form running plays. Survey says… yes, but it will be close.
Pass Offense vs. Eastern Michigan
EMU's pass efficiency defense last year was somehow worse than their rush defense, finishing 119th out of 120. The only team worse? Jay Hopson's Memphis Tigers. EMU gave up 9 YPA, gave up 32 touchdown to two interceptions, and finished 118th in sacks.
Thing That Would Make Me Feel Better About The Big Ten Schedule: Denard accuracy.
Run Defense vs. Eastern Michigan
via the Eastern Echo
This is the solitary thing Eastern is not atrocious at. They are far from good, but averaging 4.1 YPC is almost kind of okay—it's better than several Lloyd Carr offenses managed. I am not going to go into all the reasons this turns me into Brian Kelly.
/beats head against wall
/feels strange kinship with Mike DeBord
Instead I'll emphasize that Eastern couldn't move the ball at all against even horrible BCS level competition last year (2.8 YPC versus Vandy) but that they did decently against the 2009 Michigan defense (3.7 YPC despite losing their QB and putting in a freshman Alex Gillett), which presaged a lot of nasty things. I'll be interested to see how wacky Mattison gets and what the effects are. I'd prefer a whole lot of vanilla just because it will conceal blitz packages for tougher opponents but also because Michigan needs work on being vanilla effectively.
Thing That Would Make Me Feel Better About The Big Ten Schedule: Will Campbell increases his share of playing time; Cam Gordon comes back and plays well; Brandin Hawthorne solidifies his spot at WLB; holding EMU to three YPC.
Pass Defense vs. Eastern Michigan
EMU just missed finishing in triple digits here, managing to creep up to 98th in passer efficiency. Gillett's numbers weren't that horrible—7.1 YPA—except when it came to interceptions, of which he threw 13 in 229 attempts. That's a significantly higher INT percentage than even Denard. Also he was horrible against decent competition, which Michigan may just be in the secondary.
Thing That Would Make Me Feel Better About The Big Ten Schedule: Lots of pressure generated by the defensive line.
Two games, no field goal attempts. I endorse this course of action.
Key Matchup: GIBBONS YOU PUT IT THROUGH THE UPRIGHTS AAAAAA
Double digit spreads against MAC teams don't warrant cat pictures until the current coach loses to one (or a Horror). This is Michigan.
- Eastern Michigan gains any yards.
- Eastern Michigan makes any stops.
- Eastern Michigan does anything right at all.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- You think about last week's Notre Dame game.
- You think about last week's Notre Dame game.
- You think about last week's Notre Dame game.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 0 (Baseline 5; –1 for Eastern's run D, –1 for Eastern's pass D, –1 for Eastern's pass O, –1 for Ron English against a mobile quarterback, –1 for Of 17 Official Stats The NCAA Tracks Eastern Was In Triple Digits In 11 Last Year.)
Desperate need to win level: 10 (Baseline 5; +1 for NOT AGAIN GOD DAMMIT, +1 for Losing to Ron English With a Mobile Quarterback is Definitely a Sign of the Apocalypse, +1 for I'm Sick Of Showing Up In LOL Photographs On Black Heart Gold Pants, +1 for Indisputable Evidence The Curse Of Letting Bo Die Instead Of Sacrificing As Many Virgins As It Took To Get The Job Done (Sorry, School of Engineering) Persists Despite This Is Michigan, +1 for I Hate Old TJ Hooker Episodes.)
Loss will cause me to... wake up in former Soviet republic married to a goat and happy the only television in the country is hardwired to show old TJ Hooker episodes.
Win will cause me to... experience no emotion whatsoever.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
Michigan wins by a lot.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- We run from the I on half of all plays.
- Rawls debuts and does something cool, then disappears to the bench for the rest of the year.
- Everyone reads way too much into whatever Will Campbell does.
- Michigan, 35-10.