to play football, not to play trumpet
In 1961 IBM Labs made the first computer talk. What it said was "Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I'm half crazy, all for the love of you! It won't be a stylish marriage, I can't afford a carriage. But you'll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two!"
My grandpa loved that song to the point he would be constantly finding socially acceptable excuses to show off he knew the verses. That this song has been trapped in my and every person in Ann Arbor's heads this week would tickle him to no end. This is your fault Taylor Lewan.
Twosie Mania struck Ann Arbor this week when Lewan parked his bicycle built for two in front of Lamda Lamda Lamda.* User morepete the Great kindly did the cropping and released the PhotoshopGiMPCracken. Taylor promptly appeared at Iwo Jima and Tiananmen Square, Gettysburg, and V-Day parades. He crossed the moon with E.T., crossed Abbey Road, served as centerpiece for a
Michelangelo [some other ninja turtle's] masterpiece, and kindly shuttled Amira Gulch around Kansas. He's in ur Windows XP, playing as ur paperboy, and much much more. Then Chunkums put him in Punch Out and won the internet:
You have no idea how close this came to being front-paged twice, complete with music bars. Keep training, Denard: next up is Saban Popinski.
* I know it's Chi Psi, and that they don't like being called "Chipsy." They were the likeable-nerdy frat in my day and from the looks of the photo that hasn't changed.
How did Devin really do? My "football hmmm" series was partly inspired and in some part informed by Space Coyote's football fundamentals course offering from a few years ago. I was ready to wistfully mention him among the MCaliburs of yesteryear when suddenly a Spring Game Breakdown of Devin's pass plays appeared in the diaries. Sample? Sample.
DG’s footwork is pretty good here. It’s a 3 step drop and he gains depth with his first step. His next two steps are shorter and more compact to gather his body. His shoulder look good and his eyes are down field. He steps into the pocket, but seems to relax and doesn’t use his legs in his throw (even though he steps into it a little). This is why it looks like he is just playing catch in the back yard. The ball goes where his shoulders are pointing, and thus the result. Let’s break it down a bit further.
I'll have it front-paged sometime this week but you can read it now. Professor Space Coyote (of Space!) is your Diarist of the Week.
The icers you really really really missed. Maybe not to the degree of the program-redefining seniors of the 132nd football team, but there was something special about last year's hockey seniors, from Hagelin's flag to Louie's love expertise to Rust's checking, etc., even before a goddamn early whistle stole the national championship from them. Your hockey man CenterIce took the opportunity of the NHL playoffs to catch up with last year's seniors in their rookie seasons. Hagelin obviously has made his mark with the Rangers as another non-Gaborik Gaborik, most recently drawing a three-game suspension from confirmed Swede-hating Gary Bettman. Rust's AHL line doesn't do justice to the force he was on the ice for the Scranton Baby Pens
a misnomered Columbus affiliate (ed-S: wow that was stupid). Love Expert Louie had a good season in the minors, two thirds of that in the ECHL. Scooter, Burlon, Langlais, Hogan, Winnett, Llewellyn, and even Fallon are found.
Etc. Video of the Spring Game is broken up by QBs by Thorin. Go16blue created estimate rankings for unranked guys and added them to Ace's Big Ten recruiting roundup. Tennis update. Blockhams discover how Twitter works in an information vacuum.
Best of the Board:
WE'D TAKE THEM TO WAR, BUT NOT FORT WORTH
So the Michigan Marching Band was notified they would not be going to Dallas, because there's the barest justification for not doing so, and because no matter how much you're making, the quoted $400,000 or the actual $200,000 it would cost to fly to band down and bus them around and put them up in some halogenated Radisson in that soulless outlet mall of a city is a lot of money that could be flipped to profit if those seats are sold to alumni. MMB is pissed, fans are pissed, and the internet is all "Don't Stop Us Now!" Obligatory MMB pantomime of Queen:
To MMB: srsly, there are worse things in life than missing a chance to see a city whose top cultural attractions are "the largest collection of Spanish art outside of Spain" and SMU. If you guys can parlay the outrage into a deal to travel to ANY Big Ten town this year instead, my advice is to take it, unless you're really into investigating the Kennedy assassination and/or seeing what a city looks like if it was designed by the same people who came up with cubicles and think goal-oriented dolphins are inspiring.
Obviously Dave Brandon is one of those people. He probably thinks Dallas is awesome. Dallas thinks Dave Brandon is awesome. I think Michigan football is awesome so I can't boycott it on TV even if they come out in maize helmets and white pants and bumblebee jerseys, and I wasn't going to the game anyway. Giving your customers less for the same price is a tried and true business strategy, as is offsetting expenditures by cutting something else, in this case Borges's raise. We're in favor of paying coordinators SEC coordinator prices (though when you realize they could cover 10 more starting annual salaries or five really good jobs for the same cost it's a little jarring) and DB is in favor of running Michigan with business acumen. I guess what I'm saying is I can only criticize so much when I benefit from Michigan being flush with cash. It's galling, but it's part of the bargain that got us a stylish carriage instead of a twosie.
THE ALL-2000s TEAM
Archived from MGoBlue.com
Brian did something like this in 2010 but Wolverine Devotee took the concept to a three-deep, which means you get to argue whether Zach Kaufman or Lawrence Reid gets that last LB spot instead of whether Brandon Graham or Woodley was the best DE. His has Mallett, Jerome Jackson, Carson Butler, Carl Tabb, Calvin Bell, Alex Mitchell, Pat Massey, Chris Graham, Scott McClintock, Markus Curry, Grant Mason and Jeremy LeSeuer, all of whom I'd drop in favor of Tate Forcier, Kevin Dudley, Martavious Odoms, Greg Mathews, Martell Webb, Dave Pearson, Stevie Brown (as a SAM), Lawrence Reid, Donovan Warren, Troy Woolfolk, and Jamar Adams, respectively. I'd also lose Ron Bellamy to give me Adam Finley, who could kick or punt if either Rivas or Zoltan go down.
PUNKED BY WOODLEY
Don't miss this opportunity to see Breaston back in maize and blue. No not that maize and blue, I mean the one George Washington would have worn if he had fabulous pecs.
This is go16blue's response to Dantonio offering our long snapper a scholarship:
Guh, another head to head recruiting loss to MSU. When will it end? And don't give me any of that "It's because MSU is desperate enough to spend a scholarship on a long snapper" bullshit, we all know it's because Dantonio is a master recruiter.
Two threads on RCMB completely agree. Coming soon: a list of the top 30 recruits in Michigan in 2013 and how MSU has way more guys from that list than Michigan.
Edit: I forgot your moment of zen.
It's this again, of course.
Dave Brandon creates the future: the tag: the picture
The Michigan Marching Band has been informed that they won't be going to Dallas, presumably because it puts a dent in the pile of money Michigan will get by selling a home game. Sorry, people who bought tickets. Yes, seats for the band are in the contract. Yes, you've been duped. No, you can't get a refund unless you pay $500 to get on the refund waiting list.
Think about that as you look at a home schedule on which Michigan State is the featured attraction. Dave Brandon couldn't even get the Nebraska game to not be on the road in the same year OSU and ND are. He sold a home game to Jerry Jones because it sounded like a lot of money, then we found out that because the minimum ticket price was $125 he could have scheduled a home and home instead. Jerry Jones is probably laughing his ass off somewhere.
Anyway. I think we should start a Dave Brandon for Governor fund. I'd vote for him! With no ulterior motives whatsoever! #DB4MGov!
Hello. This is an annual series profiling Michigan's incoming recruiting class. I do it so that I have a Kiper-like instant recall of biographical facts on all these guys and because since a information-strewn football season has passed between most of these guys' commitments and now. You read 'em because it's the summer.
A note on "YMRMFSPA": this stands for "you may remember me from such players as." It's not supposed to be a projection of how good a player will be, but rather who he'll remind you of in the event he works out. The players I use as comparisons all worked out. I can't compare someone to Avery Horn because I don't know what Avery Horn played like.
Previously: First of the year
|Madisonville, KY - 6'4" 205|
|Scout||3*, #71 S|
|Rivals||3*, #37 S, #4 KY|
|ESPN||3*, 76, #53 S, #6 KY|
|24/7||3*, #47 S, #8 KY|
|Other Suitors||MAC schools, Illinois, NC State, Cincinatti|
|YMRMFSPA||Ernest Shazor, but sane!
|Previously On MGoBlog||Tom interviews Clark. Tim commit post.|
|Notes||Name is hard to Google.|
A previous highlight reel has been removed from the tubes.
Jeremy Clark lived the life of an itinerant hobo last summer looking for an opportunity to play Big Time college football (or any college football at all), camping at Cincinnati, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisville, Western Kentucky, Austin Peay(!), and probably others early in the summer. He almost succeeded when his camp tour took him to Ohio State in June. There he was one of three defensive backs being heavily evaluated for an offer. Najee Murray was the immediate winner in that derby; OSU told the other two guys they were "interested." He got his first smattering of offers in the aftermath.
The next weekend Clark hit up Michigan's camp and got his wish: a grayshirt offer that he took immediately, short-circuiting further developments with OSU and anyone else. By the time he grabbed the grayshirt he was turning down you-can-play-now offers from Illinois, Cincinnati and NC State: Clark wants big time.
He'll get it, and he'll get it this fall after Michigan upgraded him to the full-fledged offer in mid-October. This was a talent thing. Clark had been told that if Jarrod Wilson, Michigan's main safety target in the class, picked someone other than Michigan that he'd get the full offer, but by the time Clark was moved to 2012 Wilson had been committed to Michigan for a couple months. This was also before Michigan's late run of disappointment in the 2012 class. It was a move spurred by his play as a senior…
“They sent their coach down to watch practice last week and they were so impressed with him and our team,” Weaver said. “They wanted to get him on campus right away.”
Clark … and the rest of the Maroon secondary shut down Lone Oak QB Cole Ousley last week. … “I thought he was a very good football player,” Lone Oak head coach Orville Haskins said. “Their skill kids are really good.”
…and designed to ward off any suitors offering what Michigan was unwilling to. So he'll be on campus in the fall.
The main questions about Clark are these:
Is he really a 6'4" safety?
Can he run?
How legit was this interest from Ohio State and "other (SEC) suitors"?
Question 1: probably. That picture above is one tall, narrow dude, and there's no jitter in any of the recruiting services' listings save for a 6'2" handed out by ESPN. Everyone else says 6'4". Maybe he's really 6'3". He's still really tall for a defensive back. As far as the safety bit of that question, yeah, very probably. Part of his extreme sleeper status was the usual crazy growth spurt:
“He has the potential to be the best player I’ve coached ,” Weaver said. “He grew four inches from the summer of his sophomore year to his junior year. He grew four inches and runs a 4.4 40 (yard dash).
“He can fly and he likes to hit.”
So he's used to the idea of being a 6'0" safety. The only thing that would drag him away would be the height making it problematic to stay there.
That doesn't seem like it's going to be the case. When he committed Scout replicated this Sam Webb evaluation from camp:
This 6-4, 175-lb. safety was one of the surprises of the day. He flashed good speed and EXCELLENT ball skills. He is a bit of a sleeper on the national scene because he has grown four inches since last fall. Just as impressive was the fact that he soaked up the coaching like a sponge and just seemed to really be relishing the overall experience. After his showing today, the Wolverines are definitely wide awake to his talents. Cincinnati just offered him and don’t be surprised if a number of others, including Michigan, turn up the heat.
ESPN also says free safety all the way($) in an evaluation that's more positive than his ranking:
Clark is a tall and rangy free safety prospect with a lot of production. Very lean without a lot of bulk, strength and power to his frame right now but we like his upside and room for development as an overall player. Not yet a real explosive defender at this point but mobility and range are good. Covers a lot of ground and is active around the ball. Shows good instincts and awareness skills. Displays very good range and the ability to get over the top of routes in deep coverage. Utilizes his length to his advantage. Tracks the ball well and will go up and high-point utilizing his great height and extension. Does a good job reading the quarterback and underneath route development from a centerfield position. … Lunges as a tackler and lets up some leaky yardage. Tends to drag and question ability to provide stout run support in the box early on in college. Overall, Clark has the height, range and instincts coveted in a safety prospect. Has some weaker areas as well but feel most will be improved as he continues to work on his physical development and becomes comfortable in his taller frame. Has a high ceiling.
Weaknesses are his man-to-man technique, ability to make tight turns, and tackling/run support issues but ESPN feels "most will be improved as he continues to work on his physical development and becomes comfortable in his taller frame. Their evaluation of his ceiling: "high."
Trieu's assessment is less down on the tackling but similar otherwise:
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Clark is a tall defensive back that has to add some weight to his frame, but loves to come up and hit. Is willing to throw his body around, takes good angles to the football and delivers strong blows to ball carriers. Good straight line speed, but can be a little upright and straight legged in his back pedal. Good range and overall ball skills. - Allen Trieu
His coach echoes the praise($) for his smarts, saying "He has a great speed, he's very physical. He's a really smart kid. And he has a knack for getting to the football." If he doesn't work out at safety I'd guess the ball skills and the size mean a move to WR is more likely than linebacker. Also Michigan has all of the linebackers.
As far as question 2, Clark evidently ran a 4.47 40 at WKU when he hit up their camp the day after OSU's—itinerant hobo, I'm telling you—and a 4.48($) at the Cincinnati camp. If true and not a hilariously under-clocked hand-timing, yes, he can run. If? If. Elsewhere he's listed at 4.7, considerably less enthralling. I'd say he can run enough. Every scouting report has at least mild praise for his straight-line speed. There was even a random rumble($) from Rivals that Clark could play corner after Clark reported that Curt Mallory told him he could play "anywhere in the secondary($)," which would be… interesting.
I probably shouldn't have even brought up #3, as it's inherently unknowable. Erratic rumors that Florida(!), of all teams, was going to come in with an offer if Michigan didn't budge off the grayshirt don't seem credible, since they still could have offered after it. However, Clark's coach did name names once, in a Rivals article($) from Andy Reid:
"That's how he's taking it, and he's fully on board for Michigan. I've had some other schools call me to try and hop in on him now, that offered him to come in as a regular 2012 recruit. But I've talked to his parents, and we're firm. Once he committed, he's done."
Since Clark committed, he's received offers from Cincinnati and N.C. State to come in as a regular 2012 recruit. Weaver has also fielded calls from Florida and South Carolina expressing interest, but Clark has not reciprocated said interest.
You can spin that into an offer was totally coming if Clark showed reciprocal interest if you like. Clark's dad also made an oblique reference($) to "other schools" calling him in the fall by way of explaining Clark's loyalty. Given Clark's profile it's not hard to see teams being wary until seeing senior-year performance. The local paper reports that Clark only played in five games as a junior, and there was the whole growth spurt thing.
If you're making a case that the recruiting services have been excessively cautious in their evaluations of Clark and he's underrated, you've got a good deal of ammo. This is the kind of camp offer that I like to see: an under-the-radar kid with a big ceiling. Sometimes they never work out (Mike Cox), but at least you're not picking up a guy whose top end is decent. Add in Clark's loyalty, dedication, and frame and Michigan may have something here.
Clark had 70 tackles, 15 pass breakups, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, three interceptions and four defensive touchdowns as a senior. During his junior season, Clark had 75 tackles, eight pass breakups and three interceptions.
"A guy that we had in camp and watched run around and watched his film and thought he was a great fit."
Scored a lot of touchdowns on defense and special teams, including a fumble rumble, an 81-yard punt return, and going 3 for 3 on housing interceptions.
Why Ernest Shazor? Admittedly a huge reach since Shazor was one of the most touted recruits in the country and Clark is… not. But it was either that or pick a 6'0" kid. This seems less inaccurate.
Shazor is the only Michigan safety in recent memory with a frame comparable to Clark. What Clark lacks in recruiting hype and the athleticism that saw Shazor become a five star he will hopefully make up for by not being a complete nutcase who gave up more long touchdowns than anyone during Michigan's long search for halfway competent safety play. Shazor started out of necessity, blew it time and again,—he's still looking for Deandra Cobb—checked out entirely after murdering Dorien Bryant to save that one Purdue game, and went from a projected second rounder to out of football in a month or two.
If anything, this is being harsh to Clark. If he starts for as long as Shazor does he'll be a much better player.
Guru Reliability: Low. Kentucky is not heavily scouted and Clark was a virtual nobody until his commitment, when the sites shrugged and gave him the Default Three Stars We Give Almost All Random Michigan Sleeper Commits.
Variance: Large, large, large. A junior year injury, the growth spurt, the uncertainty about speed and the obscure location.
Ceiling: High. 6'4" safeties who can go are rarities.
General Excitement Level: Give it a B+. Clark's profile does fit that of a plausible sleeper, and his size will be a major asset if he works out. The link above in which Tom talks to Clark's father gives the impression that he comes from a high-quality environment, as does his refusal to consider anyone other than M even when he was on a grayshirt, and he should come close to maxing out that talent. I like Clark's profile more than most of Michigan's three-stars this year; he's not quite Sleeper of the Year but I give him a good shot at being a contributor.
Projection: Obvious redshirt with 4-6 guys likely in front of him this fall including classmate Jarrod Wilson, an early enrollee. After that he looks like a free safety all the way, hopefully one with sufficient instincts and straight-line speed to bring that frame into play. That means another year cooling his heels behind Thomas Gordon before being in serious contention for a job.
I kind of think he gets one, though. Wilson will provide stiff competition but may do so at strong safety after bulking up. Clark's never going to be the guy you want charging down into the box to Kovacs people and brings a skillset to free safety that could be tough to match.
Molk as Rimington finalist: check, plus. Kelvin Grady's 30 catches: not so much.
Spring football is over, meaning we're entering the darkest days of the offseason, the times when college football bloggers must get creative (aigh!) and come up with something, anything, to post while hoping nobody on the team gets arrested (usually as a product of being as bored with the offseason as us).
This is one of those posts.
Last year, Brian went HAM with his football preview, churning out so much content that I ended up previewing Western lest the first game pass without comment. Now I get to look back on all of Brian's hard work, use hindsight as a crutch to make me look intelligent, and critique his predictions. It's up to you to decide whether it's coincidence that I'm doing this while he's rather incapacitated.
This review will be posted in three parts. Today, I'll look at the offensive personnel. Later, I'll tackle the defense (ooh, role reversal), then finally look at special teams and Brian's "stupid predictions," (his term, not mine). This first post was less fun than I expected; outside of some inflated projections for the wide receivers, Brian kinda nailed it when it came to the offense. BOO.
Koger's role will be up to him. He'll be somewhere between a B- and B+ blocker and will have opportunities to establish himself a major part of the passing game. Our sample size on his hands is still very small and the bad part is now two years removed and he's quite an athlete—his upside is high. I can't help but think he's been held back by things other than Rich Rodriguez's preferences, though. I'm betting on a good but unmemorable senior year.
I have a difficult time coming up with a better description for Kevin Koger's final Michigan season. He was a solid, but unspectacular, blocker who recorded 23 catches for 244 yards and four touchdowns. That was more production than he'd had under Rodriguez, but I had to check MGoBlue to see if he even earned All-Big Ten honorable mention (he did). My lasting memories of Koger will remain the insane catch against Western in 2009 and his battles with the dropsies the next year, along with his "KogerNotKroger" Twitter handle.
The Mouton comparison is ominous since we just watched that guy start for three years without getting any better, but Lewan hasn't suffered at the hands of poor coaching yet and won't in the future. This should be the year he drops the crazy hot girl act and establishes himself as an All Big Ten left tackle. He'll still be a little penalty-prone but it will be worth it.
Taylor Lewan earned second-team All-B1G honors from the coaches, honorable mention from the media, and generally was the team's best non-Molk offensive lineman. He still took a few dumb penalties, but not as many as he did in 2010. Again, spot on, old chap.
That is admittedly me trying to find a concern. David Molk is great. You can never tell which interior linemen are going to be up for postseason awards but I'll be incensed if he's not All Big Ten after a healthy year. I think he'll be a Rimington finalist.
See: picture at top of post.
Al Borges is going to do his damndest to keep Denard productive, upright, and beaming.
Check, check, and of course, check.
He'll give Denard a more sophisticated offense that he won't execute as well as Borges needs him to; he'll use Denard's legs but not quite as effectively as Rodriguez would have. These guys are good because they've spent a lot of time specializing in ways that make them successful. There is a necessary lack of efficiency once they get outside their comfort zones.
It was a near-impossible task for Denard to replicate his 2010 rushing production under Borges, especially since the coaches explicitly stated that wasn't at all the goal. He still finished as the team's leading rusher, broke the 1,000-yard barrier, scored 16 rushing touchdowns, and averaged over five yards per carry. As for the execution of the offense as a whole: yup, there were some efficiency issues. Yards/attempt, completion percentage, and passing efficiency all dropped, while interceptions rose to an unsightly 15. This prediction didn't exactly go out on a limb, but that didn't make it any less right.
Yards per carry drop quite a bit but nose above 5.
2010 YPC: 5.58.
2011 YPC: 5.15.
If [Junior Hemingway] can manage [to stay healthy] through the season he's going to end the year with a ton of catches. Even if the Michigan offense doesn't go full MANBALL right away continued development from Denard Robinson will make difficult pro-style throws that frequently target outside wide receivers more feasible; Borges's offense will make them more frequent. Combine that with Hemingway's main skill and there will be jump balls for the taking.
ALL OF THE JUMP BALLS. This piece of prognostication would've made it into the above category if not for this next bit:
If he can maintain his 18.5 YPC he'll challenge Roundtree for the most receiving yards on the team. Expect a bit under 1,000 yards from him.
Hemingway actually averaged a tic above 20 YPC and still led the team in receptions, but leading the team meant catching 34 passes for 699 yards. Junior did manage to stay healthy, which was nice, and then stole all of our hearts during (and after) the Sugar Bowl. Y U NO PREDICT HE STEAL OUR HEARTS, BRIAN?
Huyge's flexibility will allow Michigan to flip Schofield onto the field if anyone other than Molk goes down. He's likely to start a few games in preparation for a full time role in 2011… unless he rips the job away from Huyge right now.
Given the way Huyge's career has gone and the general vibe coming from camp chatter and Funk's public statements, that's a strong possibility. Huyge's never been much of a pass blocker and Michigan's offense is going to require quite a bit more of that as Robinson starts making more and more five and seven step drops.
This was right on in that a non-Molk OL (Ricky Barnum) went down with an injury, and Michael Schofield was the man to replace him. What Brian didn't see coming—and I don't think anyone predicted this—is that Huyge would remain at tackle while Schofield filled in admirably at left guard, keeping the job even after Barnum returned.
Tousssaint [extra 's' there, boss] seems to have that jittery short-range quickness that allows little guys to survive, even thrive, as they pick their way through the chaos.
I'm hoping he emerges as the guy. If he beats out a healthy Shaw he'll be well on his way to translating that tape to college, and I could get used to a jump-cutting Houdini with sprinter's speed. Toussaint is the offense's Roh: the wildcard. Anything from Mike Hart (except crappy :( ) to Mike Hart (except fast!) is possible.
No full credit here what with the significant hedging and the fact that Brian had Michael Shaw listed as the (tenuous) starter, even though that's because Brady Hoke flat-out said so before the season. Instead, Toussaint was the man all year, rushing for 1,041 yards on 5.6 YPC and surpassing all reasonable expectations in the process. Fitz's speed turned out to be more of the sprinter's variety than what he showed in his previous, injury-plagued season, and the jump-cuts were plentiful. He wasn't quite Mike Hart (except fast!); Michigan didn't need that with Denard playing quarterback. The potential is there, however.
Michigan finishes around 15th in FEI and other advance metrics. By yardage they drop to about the same spot; scoring offense increases from 25th to match.
Brian actually underestimated the offense in terms of the advanced metrics—9th in FEI—though successfully predicted that it wouldn't quite match the #2 rank of the previous year. Yardage fell to 42nd in the country, and scoring offense was 26th. The larger point remained true—the offense was quite efficient, but not quite at the level of 2010's spread-and-shred—but the raw numbers didn't quite match up.
Not So Much
Roundtree's production will drop this year as Michigan tries to get Hemingway and Koger more involved. He can't expect set the single-game receiving record every year. He'll still run neck and neck with Hemingway fro [sic] the most receiving yards on the team. [Ed-S: hey, I remember that vacation--it was nice]
Roundtree's production did drop, just more significantly than expected. With QB OH NOES mostly gone from the offense (and Roundtree flat-out dropping the one such opportunity I recall), he finished with just 19 catches for 355 yards, well behind both Hemingway and Jeremy Gallon on the stat sheet. Speaking of Gallon...
Entering his final season [Kelvin] Grady's best shot at extensive playing time is based on 1) a lot of three wide and 2) Roundtree playing mostly on the outside. In that situation he's the established veteran. He'd get a crack at screens and seams and whatnot en route to a breakout mini-'Tree year. More likely is a moderately increased role as Roundtree bounces inside and out with around 30 catches.
First, a sadface— :( —for the lack of screens, not to mention blitheringly wide-open seams. Now, Grady's final stat line: five catches, 75 yards. Brian did recover with a nice hedge—"It could go sour for Grady if Jeremy Gallon translates chatter into playing time"—especially since Gallon produced Grady's projected stat line: 31 catches netting 453 yards. Still, swing and a miss on which player would produce said stat line, and I'm really reaching for stuff to critique here
Denard rushes for 1200 yards. His interception rate falls significantly but is still not great.
Shaw claims the starting job to himself in week four, gets injured shortly after, and Toussaint takes over. Both are much better than Smith at making extra yards. At the end of the year they've all got somewhere between 400 and 800 yards.
Toussaint's rapid rise wasn't foreseen by Brian, who expected more of a backfield-by-committee, especially in the early going. Shaw never captured the starting job, appeared in nine games, and finished with 199 yards on 31 carries. That made Shaw a more effective runner than Smith, who had 298 yards on 50 carries, but both were surprisingly effective (6.42 YPC for Shaw, 5.96 for Smith, though obviously in limited action for both).
Hopkins creates windows other backs don't. When three yards and a cloud of dust is a win, he'll be in there.
Or he'll continue putting the ball on the ground—see: Denard's immaculate rushing TD against Notre Dame—and get relegated to fullback.
Me-date. If you're thinking about tearing your ACL, let me give you some advice: skip it and have some ice cream instead. I'm limping around vaguely now and gingerly moving my leg back and forth so that it doesn't get stuck in one position forever*, taking serious painkillers, and falling asleep all the damn time.
That's the main problem. Large parts of the past week that I thought I'd be working have been spent either asleep or doing this:
no srs I'm awake
I thought I was fine when I posted that UV a day after the surgery and then was somewhere between asleep and falling asleep for the next two days straight. Add in two to three hours of gingerly moving the leg around per day and despite things getting better productivity is still low. Bear with me. In my stead Ace and Seth and the Mathlete have been putting in yeoman work.
I'm experimenting with a prescription-painkiller-free day as we speak and it hasn't been too bad. Productivity can only increase from here.
*[That thing your mom said about your face? Yeah, that's apparently true for knees.]
Something something bride before the mall /BOOM SINGIN' MATT MILLEN'D. The Great Dantonio's latest dig:
Up the road in East Lansing, however, Michigan State shrugs off talk about the Wolverines regaining their super power status under Brady Hoke. The Spartans are confident of their own standing and future prospects.
"We're laying in the weeds," Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio says with a half smile. "We've beat Michigan the last four years. So where's the threat?"
This proves Dantonio is either A) the boss of this town and isn't afraid to let people know it or B) has passed the denial phase of his Kubler-Ross acceptance that the new boss is the same as the old boss and is settling into anger, with bargaining to come in a year or two. Hopefully this works out as well as The Hecklinski Incident—good name for a sci-fi novel there—did for him. The days where Michigan and Michigan State have anywhere near the same talent level are in the process of ending. Might take another year or two, but if I was MSU I'd make hay now.
How the sausage is made. ESPN has released three videos detailing their rankings process. Given the Mathlete's post earlier today, the fourth one will be entitled "…and then we all ignore all that and pile everyone from the SEC footprint into the top 50" but I appreciate the transparency. ESPN is planning on releasing a 2014 150 in… August. Yeesh.
ESPN says they have no regional dudes at all and farms out a particular set of position groups to scouts who do rankings for everyone at that spot, which does sound good. The Mathlete's methodology is suggestive but could have a systematic issue: since it relies extensively on all-conference teams and there's always an all-conference team even if you suck, ESPN cramming all those players from one region who go to one conference into the top end of their rankings would make them look worse even if they were right. The recent SEC-SEC-SEC business makes it at least plausible that ESPN is right. Adding another level of detail with NFL draft results would help sanity check that.
Poking around 2013 kids. Basketball is, that is. But apparently not Bo Ziegler, who told Inside The Hall that Michigan had not been much of a factor:
On other schools recruiting him hard:
“Pretty much the same schools that you heard about. Providence, Iowa State, Michigan State. Michigan was coming for a minute but I guess they’ve backed off. I’ll probably get a few more looks once we hit the AAU circuit.”
That is probably not a momentary oversight; Michigan has had a lot of time to think about this stuff. John Beilien, Y NO LIKE ZIEGLERS?
Instead, meet two new prospects:
- NJ combo guard Jaren Sina, a consensus four star who ranks in the bottom half of the top 100 everywhere. Sina committed to Alabama a while back before reconsidering. Beilein went out to watch him and the kid seems extremely interested. Pitt, Villanova, and Alabama are his biggest offers at the moment.
- NJ PF/SF Reggie Cameron. You know a guy is a Beilein recruit when he's listed at 6'7" and starts his lists of strengths off with "my jump shot." Other evaluations list him at 6'5" so it's up for debate as to whether he can be a stretch four to give Michigan that Smotrycz option or if he's pretty much a wing and wing only. Dave Telep called him a "hybrid 4-man"($) who plays small forward on offense and guards bigs on D; his stroke was praised. I hope Michigan's done with 6'5" power forwards, but maybe he grows some. Cameron is usually in the 100-150 range on recruiting sites.
Michigan could take both these guys as long as someone goes to the NBA next year, which is a near-certainty. Sina could provide minutes at the one and two, Cameron the three and maybe the four or two.
Meanwhile in the class of 2013, Rivals revamped its basketball rankings for that year. Irvin slid a little to #63; Walton and Donnal rose a little to #72 and #116. Irvin's down six spots, Walton up 15, Donnal up 8.
Ahem. Just going to leave this here.
It's in the store. Consume!
Whoah, whoa-oh oh oh oh. We own Penn State. The halycon era:
You know this already but I was asleep so my tab is still open. ND's Aaron Lynch, who you may remember being terrifying last year, is leaving ND. Bwahaha. Unfortunately, Brian Kelly recruited his balls off on the DL in that class so there's plenty of talent left behind. None of them were quite Lynch, who I remember coming in to the ND-MSU game and running around MSU OL like they were not there. Not having to face him the next three years is a lot like seeing Michael Floyd transfer after his freshman year. Which would have been cool.
Also old: this. Mary Sue Coleman said Michigan wouldn't be putting the Fab Five banners up, causing a twitter hissy from Jalen Rose I can't be bothered to go find again. No school is ever going to put up a banner for a game the NCAA made them vacate. That is a banner that says "congratulations: you technically weren't at the Final Four!"
Surely no one can be surprised by this. The only topic more tired than Fab Five banners is the #1 jersey, and no one's—oh hell, we're talking about this again. For the love of cripes, just offer it to LaQuon Treadwell and let's be done with this. The only thing this Braylon scholarship thing has done is made it so no one wears the number.
Etc.: Freshman RB TJ Yeldon goes ham at Alabama spring game (against the second team D). Denardfluff. I'll probably write more about this at a later juncture, but here's a Smart Football post on the future of the NFL being more shotgun high-tempo stuff. I don't mind a pro-style offense if it's actually a pro-style offense and not what a pro-style offense used to be in 1970. More Smart Football: the monster defense of old and its resurgence.
McGary. McGary DROP. MCGARY MAD. MCGARY SMASH. MCGARY SAY THINGS ABOUT HATERZ THAT IGNORE THE USEFUL SOCIETAL EFFECTS THAT RESULT FROM DISAPPROVING THINGS THAT ARE WACK. BUT THAT OKAY IF MCGARY SMASH.
Matthew Stafford (Rivals #6 overall, 2006) and Mitch Mustain (Rivals #10 overall, 2006)
With the ESPN150 hot off of the presses yesterday, all four major sites now have an updated Top 150/247/250/300 list available for the 2013 class. I wanted to dive in and look at how each service has performed over the years. Would any site stand out as doing a better job of predicting success? Do allegations of regional bias play out for any specific services?
Typically considered the gold standard (unless another site has the player you like rated higher), Rivals online archives are available back to 2002. They have produced a ranked Top 250 since 2008 (Terrelle Pryor was the original #1 recruit) and an unranked Top 250 list in 2006-2007. Since 2002 they have classified between 25 and 33 players as five stars and typically have about 300 four-stars per class.
Like Rivals, online archives go back to 2002. They're a bit more generous on the five-stars, extending the honor to exactly 50 high school seniors per class since 2008. The larger group of five-stars is offset by smaller group of four-stars that round out the rest of the Scout 300 ranking that has been available since 2005.
The Worldwide Leader joined the recruiting party in 2006. No one is stingier with the fifth star than ESPN, offering up between 11 and 18 each season since they went crazy with 42 in their first year. The ESPN four-star threshold is also a bit tougher. Last year the number peaked at 238 but prior to that the total was closer to 200 per class.
The newest service is 247 Sports, which did a barebones review of the 2010 class before jumping in head first for the last two completed classes. Their best-of list ranks the top 247 players (just like their name, get it?) and is in line with Rivals in terms of number of five- and four-star rated players. Their later entry into the group has allowed them to provide what is, in my opinion, the best website in terms of navigation and ease of use. For the most part they are excluded from these evaluations since the first class they fully rated were only freshman last season.
This is where it gets tricky. Do you evaluate on hits or misses or both? Based on available, accessible information I decided that hits would be easier to quantify and really what you want to know about a service. Who does a better job of predicting future stars? By stars I defined them as players who earned all-conference or AP All-American status for a BCS conference school. First team all-conference honors were weighted double and AP All-Americans were weighted triple. If a player earned awards for multiple years, their value was weighted for each season depending on their level.
Each recruit was given an overall ranking for each service in each season. If there was a formal ranking, I used my method to complete the rankings behind them. I used star values and position rankings to approximate a ranking. All five-stars were ranked first, then four-stars and finally three-stars. Each player was ranked in position order and the positions were allocated based on total quantity in each group. This way the #4 fullback wasn’t rated the same way as the #4 wide receiver. Kickers and punters were excluded.
The square root of the rank was then used to further accentuate the differences at the top end of the rankings. Ratings were capped at 1000 and any unranked player was given that value. ESPN was evaluated solely based on the 2006 and later classes.
Who Rates the Best (at Rating)
Overall, Rivals gave the highest average rating to a future star. The weighted average ranking of a player to earn post-season honors from Rivals was #268. Scout wasn’t far behind at 281 and ESPN lagged further back at 329. Here is how each service did by recruiting class (lower is better):
Rivals dominated from 2002-2006 before Scout picked up a couple seasons in 2007 and 2008. With plenty of eligibility left for the 2009 class it’s still anyone’s game. Rivals has jumped out to an early lead for the 2010 class and the 2011 class is 60% comprised of Sammy Watkins and generally pointless at this point in its lifecycle. ESPN has failed to come close for any completed classes, although the 2009 class to date has been neck-and-neck between all three services with probably two-thirds of the results still outstanding.
Offensive Ratings-Weighted Average National Rank of Post-Season Honorees
ESPN finally picks up a win in the tightly contested quarterback evaluations. As you can see by the lower numbers, picking future all-conference quarterbacks has proved to be one of the easier tasks among rating services. ESPN’s average rank of 135 puts them ahead of both Rivals and Scout.
Scout does the best at wide receiver with Rivals a bit back. ESPN is not very close to the leaders at any offensive positions other than quarterback. Their results for both offensive linemen and running backs are particularly lacking.
Defensive Ratings-Weighted Average National Rank of Post-Season Honorees
It’s a clean sweep for Rivals on the defensive side of the ball. Scout is never far from, but still consistently behind, Rivals. ESPN is a distant third across all position groups, at least 20% higher than Rivals in every category and nearly 25% overall.
Conference Ratings-Weighted Average National Rank of Post-Season Honorees
The criticism of ESPN having an SEC bias and west coast neglect certainly shows up in the evaluations. SEC is the conference ESPN clearly wins and the ACC is a narrow win. All the other conferences are just carnage for ESPN while Rivals again takes a majority of wins. Scout is virtually tied for the Big Ten, Big XII and Pac-12 while lapping the field for the always crucial Big East rankings. It is difficult to tell whether the ESPN success is due to better rankings on players ultimately landing at ACC and SEC schools or if they are just giving a flat lift to those conferences. The fact that 1 in 3 players on the 2013 Top 150 are from Florida or Georgia probably indicates that at least some of the success comes from allocating preferential spots to players from the SEC footprint.
Here is how each service allocated their ranking slots to geographies. Higher rankings are weighted heavier and each player’s home state was allocated to one of the five major conferences (sorry Big East) based on their geography.
Players from ACC territory were the most consistently allocated across all four services. ESPN and 247 allocate fewer prime slots to the Big Ten versus Rivals and Scout. ESPN is a major outlier out west as the Pac-12 footprint garners much lower rankings there than at any of the other three. The SEC evaluations pick up about 40% from 247 and ESPN versus 35% and below from Rivals and Scout. This gap has narrowed some in more recent years, but there is still a strong bias from 247 and ESPN towards players from the SEC footprint.
In terms of ability to predict future success, Rivals stands out as the clear winner among all of the services. Scout is not significantly behind and has closed the gap in recent seasons. Rivals predictions proved more accurate at five of the seven position groups and overall for both sides of the ball. ESPN is a distant third in almost every sub-category with the exception being quarterback where they lead the most closely contested position group.
The services appear to be mirrored in their regional biases. ESPN and 247 slant to the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions with a clear sub valuation of the West Coast. Rivals and Scout don’t have dramatic swings to any one region but do give less value to the Southeast with the extra spread across the rest of the country.
While Michigan’s 11 [players in the...] Top 150 showing is absolutely a good thing, ESPN has proven to be the least reliable of the three established services. Historically, 30.5% of the weighted post-season honorees originally appeared in the ESPN 150 while Scout and Rivals have each had at least 34% in their Top 150’s. The differences aren’t massive and all sites have had their misses, but overall there is clear evidence that Rivals is the most consistently correct and that Scout is a strong #2. Although the individual players fluctuate, the overall ratings for Michigan’s class to date are essentially identical between Rivals, Scout and ESPN with 247 being lower on it than any other service.
Bonus: Protecting Conference Turf
Not looking at recruiting services but conferences now, I wanted to see which conferences did the best job of keeping the best players from their region in-house. Each state was split between conferences based on number of schools in a given state. States without BCS conference teams were excluded. This isn’t perfect because there is no way Cincinnati and the Big East have the same share of Ohio as the Big Ten and its school in Ohio. But it makes each school among the Big Six theoretically even and provides a good starting point.
|Conference||Total FP Pts||Split FP Pts||Signed FP Pts||Signed/ Total||Signed/ Split|
The Pts are an estimate of the total value of the recruits within a footprint. The total includes points for all players to any conference with a school in that region. The split is an allocation based on number of BCS conference schools in that state in each conference. Not surprisingly, the conferences with the smallest geographic competition, the Big XII and the Pac-12 signed the highest percentages of their available recruits. After splitting up the states, the SEC actually signs more than their allocation of the footprint. The Big Ten is close behind but work from a much smaller pool. If the SEC is able to make make gains in Texas (they currently have a 12% “share”) with the addition of A&M, the talent gap between the SEC and the rest of the conferences could widen.