"What (Michigan coaches) told me is that they're focusing on point guards right now, but if anything opens up, they'll definitely come back on and recruit me as hard as they were," said Towns
I hope this kind of analysis hasn't been done already; if so, my apologies. I was wondering, in light of Brian's analysis of the defense, if we could quantify the effect of having Mattison rather than GERG as our defensive coordinator. To that end, I have tried to quantify the effect of having Greg Robinson as defensive coordinator: the GERG effect. I looked up the scoring defense ranks of Michigan, Syracuse, and Texas for 2003-2010 (data from Rivals). They are as follows:
GERG was DC at Texas in 2004, HC at Syracuse in 2005-2008, and DC at Michigan in 2009-2010. We can therefore display the data graphically as follows (note that the Y axis is team defense scoring rank): We can also try to calculate a crude GERG effect by comparing the average rank of these defenses with and without GERG. This yields the following:
Note that positive is bad and negative is good. So GERG's Texas defense was 11 ranks better than the non-GERG average, whereas his Michigan defenses were 60 ranks worse than the non-GERG average.
To calculate the overall GERG effect, we simply multiple the differences in rank by the number of years at each school, divided by the total number of years (7), to arrive at our overall GERG effect of 29.77 [this figure has been updated]. That is, on average, GERG adversely affects the scoring rank of the defenses he is associated with by 30 positions.
If we take Brian's projection of Michigan's 2011 defense (82nd), and subtract 30 ranks to adjust for the GERG effect, we get to 52, a ranking that a number of commentators were predicting based on their "gut" feeling of player development and the new coaching staff's abilities (particularly Mattison).
Again, this is wild speculation, and incredibly simple -- hopefully it is not completely misguided. Other more advanced metrics should also be used. I am aware that there are far more variables at work that determine how good a defense is--and it is almost certain that GERG was not allowed to run his defense at Michigan. Also, it is likely that Mattison is an excellent DC, something that this analysis does not account for. I was still curious to see if anything could be done to account for the coaching change.
UPDATE: I made an arithmetical error which has been corrected. Also, I ran the same analysis with S&P+ play-by-play ratings from Football outsiders and got a GERG effect of 27.75 ranks (using only Syracuse and Michigan; S&P+ data are only available from 2005 and later).
[ed: We should be taking all of this, including my original post, with a grain of salt because of sample size issues.
That said, Michigan was an the extreme outlier because of its youth and trying to run two different schemes, one of which was something no one's ever tried before, and could expect to rebound further with Mattison--and more importantly, sanity--hanging around campus. The numbers offered here in the two posts (54 using S&P+ data and 82) seem like the ends of a range of reasonable expectations.
The moral of the story is the same one learned by the offenses of Notre Dame in 2008 and Michgian in 2009--you're going to be a lot better but still very far from good.]
Winner. I put out the call for someone affiliated with the program to cackle evilly about what's going down in Columbus, and Larry Foote stepped to the plate:
Foote said he expects the NCAA to come down hard on the Buckeyes, who will go before the committee on infractions in August, giving them, he said, "what they deserve."
And what would that be?
"Ten-year ban, take all the victories away, lose 100 scholarships," Foote said, clearly exaggerating. "Give that (bowl money) back and donate it to the rest of the Big Ten teams."
Helpful note on the exaggeration there. Jalen Rose is also unsurprisingly straightforward about his glee (yes, irony); Jimmy King and Brandon Graham fall into the Serious Face About Serious Issue camp.
Also Graham says he really wants see Denard develop into a drop-back passer. Who wants another 3500 words about the shotgun? I'm warning you, people who can be quoted in newspapers about Denard Robinson: I will do this.
Speaking of. Al Borges isn't exactly wrong here…
"Well, the thing we gotta do is play efficiently, Borges told Matt Shepard on WDFN-AM 1130 Detroit, "and by that I mean take care of the ball, number one, because you don't want to put your defense in bad positions, because that will get you beat faster than anything – when your opponent is playing on a short field. "That's first and foremost."
…but I have not missed the "controlling turnovers is job one" meme the last three years. I have missed non-brain-melting turnover margins, though, so maybe I should just shut up and feel the soothing coachspeak flow through me.
Not Willingham, so we've got that going for us. Brady Hoke does not look like a natural with a golf club in his hands. He looks like a bear waving a toothpick:
This is more reassuring than it should be. Also at that link: massive donor Al Glick hanging out with Carr and Hoke. He is very old and tiny.
Yes, there were two separate Michigan golfing events—the Foote quotes come from another Rose Leadership Academy fundraiser—in one weekend. Out of control.
Just a dude. This quote from Mike Martin…
"I'm a really humble guy," Martin said. "I was talking to someone and said, 'I don't look at myself as a big-time senior football player at Michigan. I look at myself as a dude playing a game.' They're like, 'You're awesome.' "
…is awesome. Get your head around that.
I hear tell that varmint convinced Kyle Kalis to commit. You're aware that Kyle Kalis committed to Michigan over the weekend*. You'll be shocked and appalled at what went down to make that happen:
I'm told that Kyle Kalis' stepdad just called into WKNR and said that Kyle is being manipulated by Hoke and his dad.
The head coach of the university of Michigan and one of Kalis's parents conspired to have him accept a scholarship offer from a school that knows who its head coach will be next year and how many scholarships it will have, whereupon his stepfather called a radio station to complain. It's going to be awkward to ask for the mashed potatoes for a while.
Kalis, meanwhile, declared it to be open season in Ohio:
"He is the type of guy I want to play for," Kalis said. "(Hoke) has an incredible amount of passion. I believe the Michigan-Ohio border is now open. I think you're going to see eight or nine guys from the state of Ohio going over to Michigan this year."
They've already got
seven nine, so that's not a huge stretch (or any at all). Five-star RB Bri'onte Dunn may or may not be next; he is either 100% committed to Ohio State or sort of committed to Ohio State or technically committed to Ohio State but actually encouraging Kalis to defect, which was a wild rumor I thought I saw somewhere but I can't track down and therefore probably isn't true.
*[Something that was on the verge of happening for a couple weeks now. That was why Tom posted the "buckle up" tweet that riled up the board. #nowitcanbetold]
Which is it? Even I think Brooks has been a little unhinged about this Ohio State stuff but he does do a service by pointing out the ever-shifting story behind Tressel's firing/resignation/retirement. May 30th:
“Jim Tressel decided to resign.”
Tressel was not told he would be fired if he didn’t quit, Gee said.
“He was not given an ultimatum.”
That's directly contradicted by OSU's response, which pats itself on the back over and over again for "seeking and accepting" Tressel's resignation, as well as planning to ban Tressel from recruiting for a year—but not bothering to announce or, you know, actually do it.
The school also praises itself for self-reporting when the legal department found the Tressel emails as they responded to a FOIA—without someone else asking for information they never would have found the violation.
Etc.: Touch The Banner interviews Jack Miller. Some complicated calculations about Brady Hoke's record being more than meets the eye. Five stars appear next to Greg Mattison's name. NEEDS MOAR STARS. WVU linebacker Branko Busick charged with armed robbery. The weapon: his name. Also his dad had a short career as a WWF heel with an epic mustache in the mid-90s. (HT: DocSat)
Let's take some small sample sizes and extrapolate wildly. It will be fun. Here's Bill Connolly breaking down expected improvement from teams that return varying numbers of defensive starters:
So Cincinnati returns 11 defensive starters. That's probably a good thing, right? But how good? And how much can a bad defense improve in one offseason just because of experience? Let's take a look, shall we?
Average Change In Def. F/+, Last Three Years Starters
N Avg Chg in
1 1 -12.4% 2 4 -10.9% 3 10 -8.4% 4 32 -2.1% 5 53 -1.1% 6 69 -0.5% 7 85 1.1% 8 56 1.5% 9 37 4.2% 10 9 6.0% 11 3 5.4%
So basically, if you return between five and eight starters, you are likely not going to change much, but three or fewer is a problem, and nine or more is a good thing.
F/+ is Connolly's advanced metric; it's play-based instead of drive-based like FEI. Don't be fooled by the % symbol—the metric is percentage based and from context it's clear the difference is meant to be added to the score, not multiplied. Since the best defenses are around +17% and the worst around –13%, 6% is about a fifth of the entire scale.
Michigan is, unsurprisingly, right at the bottom of that scale at 115th. They were 12% worse than an average defense down-to-down. The good news is they return 9-ish starters, losing Greg Banks, James Rogers and Jonas Mouton while reacquiring Troy Woolfolk. (They also lose Ray Vinopal and Obi Ezeh, but Ezeh had been replaced and Michigan should get JT Floyd back so let's call it a wash.)
The numbers are thin at both ends of the spectrum but, hey, extrapolating wildly from small sample sizes. Doing so says Michigan's defense will storm forward from 115th nationally to…
I have no source for this, unfortunately.
But wait! Our sample sizes are not small enough and our extrapolation is not making out with other nubile young extrapolations in front of a television camera. Bill added a second factor, the previous year's defense, and finds that a defense with an F/+ under –10% that returns nine starters should expect (for a given confidence level that is not high at all) to improve by 8.6%, which would see them get to…
You might be able to argue that Mike Martin wasn't right and the team was even younger than the average team that returns nine starters and GERG is rubbing stuffed animals on the faces of other stuffed animals at a tearful tea party and for the first time in a long time they'll just run one damn defense per year and that they should expect to improve even more. You're probably setting yourself up for disappointment. Like installing the spread 'n' shred, digging out of a hole this big is a multi-year project.
Hurray issues. So this morning an iframe insert got put in the js file. It has been removed and we are monitoring that particular file intently; the good news is that no other files on the server have been changed. I've turned off js aggregation, which will make the site marginally slower for first loads. We are still looking for the entry vector; if a js file gets updated we will know about it and check to make sure it does not have the malicious code in it. We have a request in to Google for a clearance.
If you are concerned, running a noscript module on your browser is a good idea. Apologies.
(Note: this is unrelated to the scattered reports people were having of malware from the Google Ads, which are client-side issues.)
Fun with hats. Ace has it:
There's Waldo. Insane axe-murdering Waldo.
Hatch update. Via his CaringBridge page:
By the grace of God, Austin James is showing improvements everyday. He is comfortable and stable. He has begun opening his BIG BLUE EYES a little bit more! We understand that his healing will be a very slow and gradual process; we're not sure whether Austin has any awareness of what he sees yet.
He's got a long way to go, but it sounds like he's getting out of the woods.
Further evidence for the skinflint theory. The Big Ten continues to pile up the cash:
They continue to not spend it on football coaches:
The SEC paid its assistant coaches an average of $276,122 in 2010, according to figures compiled by St. Louis attorney and agent Bob Lattinville of the firm Stinson Morrison Hecker.
The Big 12 was second at $232,685 and the Big Ten a distant fourth, behind the Atlantic Coast Conference, at $187,055. In each instance, the averages do not include salaries at private schools such as Baylor, Penn State and Vanderbilt.
You may have noticed that Penn State is not a private school, but they have some sort of state law that protects them from FOIA requests. They likely pay their assistants more than the Baylors and Vanderbilts of the world but Northwestern is also omitted and Penn State isn't closing a 50-grand gap with the Big 12, let alone the 90 grand to the SEC.
Not that I have a problem with not heaping even more money on football coaches, but Braves & Birds's theory that the Big Ten is falling behind because they refuse to lay out money for proven coaches is looking pretty good these days. At least Michigan bucked the trend by 1) wildly overpaying their version of Gene Chizik and 2) finding their own Mahlzahn in Mattison.
Dominoes go further. College hockey lurches towards its final configuration apace, with Northern Michigan making the obvious move to the WCHA. Northern was in (an almost completely different) WCHA until the late 90s and returns, renewing a conference rivalry with Michigan Tech and easing their travel burden.
Interestingly, word from Marquette has a surprising second school on the WCHA hit list: Alaska. The WCHA retains Anchorage and the conventional wisdom holds that two Alaska schools are too many for one conference since teams could be required to make more than one trip up north per year. If the WCHA's endgame is an eight team league, you'd think the conference schedule would be 28 games—four each against seven opponents. That would require two trips per year. Even if you go to a division system where you play four teams only twice, you're averaging 1.5 trips to Alaska per year. Lake Superior seems like a more logical option due to its natural rivalries with the other UP teams.
Meanwhile, the smoking husk of the CCHA takes another hit. Notre Dame's gone sooner or later. Western Michigan's openly pleading for someone to take them. Lake State has to be angling for a WCHA invite along with Alaska. Poor Bowling Green and Ferris State are hanging out in Fred Pletsch's basement drinking the cheapest beer on the market until Atlantic Hockey teams start to look attractive.
Current wild-ass guess at what college hockey in the West looks like in two years:
|UAA||Ferris State||Michigan State||Notre Dame|
|Minnesota State||Mercyhurst||Penn State||WMU|
|MTU||Robert Morris||Ohio State||North Dakota|
If LSSU does not move to the CCHA you can insert Cansisius, another Buffalo-area AH team, or UAH into the CCHA to make eight.
Is that viable for everyone in the WCHA and CCHA? I think the WCHA will be okay. Most of the programs there have recent financial commitments from their universities; at all of them hockey is unquestionably the top dog. That's the case for everyone in the CCHA, as well, except for Ferris (no recent insertion of capital) and BGSU (MAC football and basketball probably more important). I think Ferris would be able to keep its footing.
What would really help is having a formal state of Michigan championship. In this new doomsday scenario Michigan teams are split across four leagues, making the previous plan—which relied on a lot of conference games being counted for the championship—dubious. On the other hand, in this new world there are a ton of nonconference games that need filling.
Have fun storming the castle. Even if Russell Wilson isn't certain doom for Wisconsin's opponents this year he's better than whatever the Badgers had before. KC Joyner makes an interesting point, though: Scott Tolzien was one of the most underrated players of the last decade in the league and Wilson won't approach his insane efficiency.
Etc.: Michigan's new white hockey jersey is going to be regrettable in a few years, and I miss the cool Rangers-esque lettering on the maize one. Outrage is low because they'll just change them next year anyway. Yost Built also says "you're out, White Jersey" in a flat sexy German monotone. Holdin' The Rope assembles things.
Let's deploy the fourth-grader test on Ohio State's response to the NCAA:
The institution is very surprised and disappointed by the lack of action in this matter by then Head Football Coach Jim Tressel. His behavior in this situation is out of character for him, as he has been a man of integrity and high moral standards since his hiring as the head football coach in 2001. His lack of action in this matter appears to have been the result of indecisiveness regarding the appropriate actions to take in this specific situation in which he was placed, as opposed to a blatant disregard of NCAA legislation. … The institution will not excuse such behavior. As a result, the institution has imposed significant corrective and punitive actions upon itself and sought and received the resignation of Tressel.
This is why, possessing every scrap of information about Tressel they have today, they fiercely suspended him for two games against MAC schools, and then suspended him for five games, before finally accepting his resignation, oops wait it's actually a retirement and that 250k you owe us… yeah, nevermind. Truly the behavior of Jim Tressel was a heinous deed the university abhors. It is clear that the Ohio State University took one look at Jim Tressel's actions and said "this will not stand." We are embarrassed.
What say you, fourth graders?
Hmm. The fourth-graders do not seem to buy it.
Fourth graders, what do you think about the assertion that Jim Tressel's "indecisiveness" led him to email a shady "mentor" about this a dozen times, but not compliance? Or the NCAA any of the three subsequent times he had an opportunity to say "oh, right, that whole thing about tattoos some guy I know personally who has helped us out before and I spent large parts of my summer emailing people who were not my compliance department about… yeah, that"? Fourth graders, do you believe Jim Tressel is an indecisive person?
No. No you do not.
The danger is that the NCAA might buy it, though, isn't it? If the NCAA buys that the problem is limited to Tressel because nine Buckeyes ticketed in loaner cars and reports that are unconfirmed but obvious from a half-dozen Buckeyes about Hookups on Tats and other things, and they aren't incensed by being duped about the Sugar Bowl, and they aren't incensed by OSU's actions against a "very successful coach in a very popular sport in a very short period of time" then they could get away with violating the most important aspect of NCAA enforcement: you are expected to police yourself.
So, NCAA: are you dumber than a fourth grader?
This is an important question to answer. Here's hoping the answer is "no," because an organization that reacts to the things Jim Tressel did in the way Ohio State did and then has the audacity to say something like this if the NCAA dares add punishment to what can't even be described as a wrist-slap…
"I'll be shocked and disappointed and on the offensive," Smith said. "Unless something new arises from where we are today, it'll be behavior (from me) you haven't witnessed."*
…you're being called out. Ohio State is daring you. They are double-dog daring you. Either send Gene Smith on the warpath and the unemployment line or establish defiant see-no-evil as the new baseline for enforcement.
*[What would that be? Contrition? A lack of wholesale delusion? The vague impression of competency.]
Excessively Defensive Section
Twitter was overrun with Buckeyes in various states of glee, denial, and smack-talking yesterday, with much of it directed at Michigan fans for their various states of butthurt, disbelief, and cynicism. These emotions are not limited to Michigan fans. It's hard to find someone who's not mocking Ohio State in the aftermath.
TSN's Dave Curtis:
As this story evolves, it’s tougher to conceive of Tressel as the only evil in that football program or athletic department. If he’s not, and the NCAA finds out, the Buckeyes will face USC-style sanctions. If he was, then Ohio State is guilty of failing to monitor its coach, and lacking institutional control by letting Tressel gain so much power.
Some concession, some spreading of the problem behind the head coach, would have marked a small first step in helping the Buckeyes win back the public. It would have helped with the NCAA, too.
The public’s only recourse is ranting and complaining. NCAA officials can punish to the point of paralyzing the program for a while. And come the fall, that’s exactly what they will do.
ESPN's Brian Bennett:
I can envision the following conversation during Ohio State's hearing before the NCAA Committee on Infractions next month.
"So, you vacated your wins from 2010?" an infractions committee member says.
"Yes," Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee says. "It was the least we could do."
"You're right," the committee member responds. "It was technically the least you could possibly do."
Tom Fornelli and Jerry Hinnen, Notre Dame and Auburn fans respectively:
Fornelli: Ohio State just really doesn't seem to get it, or they're in a deep state of denial. The NCAA isn't going to see that the school has vacated it's wins from last season and move on. There will be scholarships lost, and there will be a postseason bowl ban for a year or two. It's not fair to the players on the team or whichever coach eventually takes over for Tressel, but unfortunately for Ohio State, the NCAA knows that you can't just erase the past and fix things.
Hinnen: We're assuming they do. Since we're discussing the NCAA's Committee on Infractions here, there's no way to know exactly what they're going to do until they do it. Precedents mean nothing and logic is frequently tossed aside like so many babies in so much bathwater.
But if the COI ever wants to be taken seriously, rubber-stamping OSU's self-imposed "punishment" and giving the Buckeyes a pat on the head just can't be an option. Without subpoena power, the only thing standing between the NCAA and utter investigative helplessness is honesty and cooperation from those involved. What it got instead from from OSU was Tressel lying through his teeth with Gee and Smith nodding genially at his side. The NCAA tried to be lenient with the Buckeyes once already--and was repaid with a sham of a Sugar Bowl and a carton's worth of egg on its face for its troubles.
The Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Bud Shaw only speaks in one-sentence paragraphs:
The question is whether it's doing so as a strategy or out of delusion. Delusion is the leader in the clubhouse.
The Buckeyes started out looking nonchalant in all this, remember. Now, they just look arrogant.
Early on, they opened themselves to charges that their internal investigation amounted to, "Nothing to see here, move along."
This is an administration that initially wrist-slapped Tressel with a two-game ban, then increased it to five, then sought his resignation and now is fitting him for a pillory for display before the NCAA.
The designated media contrarian—there's always one—is Stewart Mandel, who argues that the media firestorm in the aftermath of the NCAA's allegations hasn't materially affected the charges, which the school argues are limited to Tressel. I'd think the head coach lying to keep six players eligible for an entire season obviously deserves a bowl ban and scholarship pain even when you don't account for OSU's persistently nose-thumbing response.
This is exactly how I imagined it would go down, except for the part where Roh is lining up behind them. I mean, that would be silly!
Before I get into the historical journey, a word on OSU's idea of appropriate sanctions (pdf): I must be really biased. I mean, I know as a Michigan fan I am not going to be impartial when it comes to Ohio State anything. My understanding of NCAA's "sweet spot" for penalties is to take the perceived benefit of the violation and double it as a negative. If five guys played ineligibly, 10 schollies amortized. If a bowl game was involved, 2-year bowl ban. Here's Gene Smith's latest sweet spot:
In its response to the NCAA, the university addresses the NCAA’s specific allegations and also highlights steps the university has already taken, including:
• Suspending five players for the first five games of next season;
• Accepting Tressel’s resignation;
• Vacating the football program’s wins in the 2010 season, including its Sugar Bowl victory in January 2011;
• Self-imposing a two-year NCAA probation; and
• Implementing additional measures to enhance the university’s already extensive monitoring, educational and compliance programs.
Notice how nothing from the above will have any long-term effect on the program. The suspended players were already suspended. Tressel already resigned (and having him promise not to coach anyone else just gives OSU exclusivity on his legacy). The probation and fixing the oversight problem by raising their monitoring of players' cars all the way up to the level of a sleepy MAC school are givens. As for vacating wins, to this History baccalaureate that's an empty gesture which creates more problems for historians than the school. If you never see this:
The Queen of England has admitted that William the Conqueror provided improper benefits to Norman knights when seizing the throne of England in 1066, therefore the monarchy is hereby striking the Battle of Hastings from the History books, and removing the Bayeux Tapestry.*
…then why do teams get to cross out history? If the Final Four banners from the '90s still hung at Crisler, wouldn't that just be a greater reminder of their tarnishing?
Through my very biased eyes, it looks like they're asking to walk away with less than Michigan got for clerical errors on practice time. Other than the duh parts, there is nothing here that's substantive.
If I understand this correctly, OSU is basically responding just to the original notice of allegations, and leaving it to the NCAA to prove anything beyond the Original Tat Five and Tressel's e-mail cover-up campaign. Now it's the NCAA's turn: if they don't reschedule the Aug. 12 meeting with the Committee of Infractions it means they don't think they can make the bigger case. Everyone who doesn't live in Ohio knows there's something funky with the borrowed cars, but Ohio State's betting the NCAA can't prove it now that Pryor can't be forced to testify. It's a hardball move, a mobster's move, and puts the NCAA Committee of Infractions in the tough spot of either choosing to respond with the heartless indignation they used on USC, or the wilt. I honestly couldn't tell you what they'll do.
* Yes, I know Bayeux is in France. It's a metaphor.
From 2007 to 2010 the offense was deconstructed and rebuilt, the secondary was nuked, and the linebackers plinked along with terrible coaching. Faced with replacing Woodley and Branch (plus consummate other-guy Rondell Biggs), the 2007 outlook for defensive line might have been scary had the next generation not been there ready to rock. Well the next generation was there, and they were ready to rock, and as a result Michigan's defensive line churned along through the Dark Times.
Not that everything was rosy. By 2010 the depth beyond the starters was a trio of senior disappointments who, while not disastrous in the way that various walk-ons and freshmen were in the secondary, were a pretty big drop-off from the regulars.
Re-Stating the Premise:
Why are we 'Predicting the Past' again? This series is meant to be a long reply to those board posts that pop up a lot between Spring and Fall practices where we list the young guys and recruits on the depth chart and predict wonderful things for the future. The idea is to take our collective DeLoreans back to 2007 and get a sense of how those expectations turn out. Are the alarmists justified when they see highly regarded juniors backed up by just a smattering of guys who got a 3rd star with their Michigan offers? What happens to the "studs" versus the 4-stars? Next week is a summary piece where I'll try to find any common threads. Bonus: some of the situations that characterized '07 are relevant today. Double-bonus: walk down memory lane.
Tackles: Terrance Taylor (Jr/Sr), Will Johnson (Jr/Sr), Marques Slocum (Fr/So), Jason Kates (Fr/So), John Ferrara (Fr/So), Renaldo Sagesse (Fr/Fr)
Attrition: Alan Branch (2004), Chris McLaurin, James McKinney and Eugene Germany (2005), Quintin Woods (2006)
Incoming: Mike Martin
LaMarr Woodley and Alan Branch made Michigan's defense one of the best in the country. Looking to open up opportunities for these two (and cover the loss of space-eating DT Gabe Watson), M in '06 moved back to a 4-man front with now-ready Terrance Taylor as 1-tech and Rondell Biggs as other-guy DE. The setup was not so different from Mattison's 4-3 over, and played to the team's strengths. Taylor could sit home and clog, Biggs could hold up his edge, and this left Woodley to scream in from 2011 Roh's spot while Branch feasted upon single-blocking guards from the 3-tech spot.
Opposing offenses were left with the choice of using more backs and ends as blockers, or leaving one of Michigan's monsters one-on-one with some mortal likely to require extensive therapy afterwards. When feeling particularly maniacal, Crable could blitz from the SAM. If an opposing quarterback was lucky, he might be able to launch a back-foot prayer before his respiratory system collapses. Yes, this is a setup for that picture.
After '06, Woodley graduated and Branch rode those single-teams to an early NFL departure. The other DE spot was losing its two-deep, graduating Biggs as well as fellow "solid" DE (and RVB Dutch-acronymical predecessor) Jeremy Van Alstyne. Except for Branch, a post-'06 exodus was expected, and the staff had been hard at work building the next generation.
Going into 2007 with one returning starter, the line was young and expected to take a step back as the sophomores took over. DL recruiting was a big thing for M for both '05 and '06, though attrition had already done a lot of damage to that. The '05 group had the highly rated Taylor from Muskegon, plus winter enrollee high-4 Eugene Germany, 4-star 3-tech James McKinney, and a sleeper rush end in Carson Butler. The '06 class, already having lost some of the oh-five-ers, had the high-4 star Adam Patterson, 5-star in-stater Brandon Graham (considered an LB but a move to DE was expected), and four depth dudes in space-eating 1-tech Jason Kates plus three middly 3-star types in Greg Banks (SDE), Quintin Woods (WDE) and John Ferrara (3-tech).
Then those classes got thwacked by most of the Decimated Defense's Carr-era attrition. Germany was a 4.5-star '04 USC recruit who got squeezed out by Carroll's oversigning and ended up enrolling at Michigan in winter as an '05 guy. In March '07 he was kicked off the team for taking part in the St. Patrick's Day Nerd Massacre, an incident quite similar to the annual Dantonio Dorm Raids at MSU except involving 17% less of the team (other culprits: DB Chris Richards, and Manbearfreak). He ended up at Minn-Duluth and was the best player on a team that made a surprising run to the DII Top 10. McKinney had some medical issues early on, and groused after the '07 spring game about his depth chart spot. By this point in '07 insiders were on to what became an Aug. 12 transfer; he was later dismissed from Louisville. McLaurin left in '06 due to health issues. Quintin Woods didn't qualify. Butler had moved to TE, earned the moniker of 'Manbearfreak,' and was thought to be following Richards and Germany out the door for the Nerd Massacre.
Despite that attrition, and just two DLs in the 2007 class, the immediate future had Michigan stacked at DE and serviceable inside on the 1-deep, but thin on the 2-deep with a major 2008 haul expected to shore that up. The key players all had time logged in previous DL rotations, promising a step back but a smooth transition nonetheless. Tim Jamison had earned playing time as a true freshman in '04 – before Branch did actually – but lost that season and much of '05 to injury. Brian in his 2007 preview:
Tim Jamison is finally the weakside defensive end after three years of nonstop hype interrupted by injury and Rondell Biggs. It is time to step up, as they say. Jamison's featured as a pass rush specialist for the last few years and has done well. Last year five of his thirteen tackles were sacks. Given the constant torrent of practice hype, Jamison's recruiting rankings, and his evident ability in small doses, Jamison should also be an instant star.
With his RS junior and senior years ahead of him, the WDE spot was set through '08. Opposite him, 5-star sophomore Brandon Graham earned time as a true freshman in '06, but as a flabby 290-lb. tackle. Graham slimmed to 262 for '07, and was expected to end in SDE competence with a chance of greatness down the line.
Adam Patterson was supposed to be a big deal. A high 4-star, Patterson was tagged as Woodley's heir apparent in '05, despite a (in retrospect important) quiet senior season in high school. He was a Lloyd Carr Inexplicable Burned Redshirt in '06 and saw erratic garbage snaps.
At DT, Taylor had established himself as a strong, compact, but not very mobile DT, basically what we want Quinton Washington to be (though that's wrong because Q is pretty mobile). The lone returning starter on the D-line, Taylor was expected to be rather close to his ceiling as a super-strong but no athletic redshirt junior, though that ceiling was All-Big Ten. Will Johnson had earned extensive playing time as a freshman and sophomore, even in place of Branch. The coaches loved him and while not Branch, Johnson was expected to more than ably fill Branch's 3-tech spot through 2008.
Depth-wise, Marques Slocum was finally past a two-year, FCK LION-enhanced qualifying odyssey. An OL recruit before, now Slocum was a backup DT with freshman eligibility.
The depth guys were all recruited as depth guys and expected to be depth guys. Among them Greg Banks seemed to be the closest to something that could draw in regularly to the lineup. Ferrara was the hard-working DT-type who invariably brings up comparisons to Grant Bowman. Kates as a 400-pound thing you put in the middle of the defense because nobody can move 400 pounds anywhere it doesn't want to go. In true freshmen, Renaldo Sagesse was a big Canadian who was already in his 20s as a true freshman and thus drew into the lineup immediately. Ryan Van Bergen was a 4-starry 4-star, ranked about even or just above the committed 2012 DEs. Or Anthony Zettel maybe.
For 2008, Novi's Mike Martin (fringe 150 and rumored strongman) had signed on June 5, and M was fighting Ohio State for similarly rated Garrett Goebel. Recruiting hype on Martin:
Out of high school he’s a smaller version of Terrance Taylor, a shortish but stocky NT sort who was a state champion wrestler and powerlifter. A true freshman at DT would normally be cause for concern but Martin is reputed to be a gym rat much better prepared for the rigors of a college weight program than most. His highlight film is pretty impressive, as he shoots through the line and drags down ballcarriers like he’s a middle linebacker.
Detroit Martin Luther King HS's 5-star Nick Perry, a rush DT, visited Ann Arbor on July 2 and named Michigan his leader over USC, Miami (YTM) and MSU, though Dantonio was hard after him.
All told the D-line was set for 2007-'08. After that it would be up to the next generation, meaning one of the 3-stars has to pan out inside or the '08 class provides.
How Did That Work Out?
For awhile, meh. Then came Barwis and…
D-Line is a little different than the other positions. Typically (unless GERG is running a 3-3-5) it's four guys versus five OLs. If you have a weak point and three solids, the offense can double-team your weak link and the rest look more pedestrian. If the offense has to throw two OLs at one star to save their backs' lives, it gives the other DLs more chances to blow up the play. It was hard to judge any DLs for much of 2010 as GERG put them into 3-man rushes so often.
This is most evident when you look at Terrance Taylor next to Alan Branch, versus Terrance Taylor next to Will Johnson. Taylor was exactly what we said he would be. He was no Suh and shouldn't have been the main guy inside, but as a second guy who does his job he didn't disappoint. I've never been able to find it again but at some point Carr called Taylor the "fullback of the defense," which if he actually said that and it wasn't my mind making it up would be apropos.
In 2007 I got down on Will Johnson – my snide nickname for him was the "Yellow Brick Road." This was mostly because I wanted to blame someone for Michigan being unable to stop a shotgun zone running game, which usually seemed to run right by Johnson. His UFRs were usually okay-ish (5+, 3-) but he got splinched often against Wisconsin (mixed in with some great plays) and was ineffective against Ohio State. Versus bad interiors (Minnesota, Penn State) he was spectacular. In the Horror and against Oregon he was victimized by doubles. Less Barwicized than the other linemen in '08 he nonetheless progressed to graduate as a totally acceptable interior player.
Ferrara played the younger-Bowman role of workmanlike backup okay, but in '08 he was called upon to (not terribly) fill the depleted offensive line when neither Tim McAvoy nor the recycling bin he was competing with proved effective.
On the ends, Jamison was not made for spread defending. Then he exploded against Ohio State in 2007, the only thing about that game that's not worth forgetting. He lost a lot of "bad" weight between his junior and senior years and was a plus guy on the 2008 team.
Brandon Graham in summary:
Graham missed the first two games of 2007 (you know how those went) but when he was inserted in Game 4 the defense all of a sudden could stop the run. However Graham was still a bit out of shape and this showed when MSU ran him ragged in the 2nd half with double teams. Then Barwis came in, deconstructed B-Grammy into small parts, and chose the most Woodley-esque to rebuild him. The result: by mid-way through '08 teams were staying away from Graham's side of the field with Woodson-esque regularity. In 2008 and 2009 Brandon Graham was probably one of the best players in college football; a dark horse Heisman campaign for Brandon (then and now I believe Suh should have won that one) appeared on M boards in late 2009. By the time he left as a fringe Top 10 draft pick (he went 13th overall), Brandon had gone from vague hope of another Woodley to winning a head-to-head comparison with a Lombardi winner.
Other wonderful news: Mike Martin = The Incredible Hulk. And Ryan Van Bergen, whether at DT or DE, has proven an effective starter since his redshirt freshman year (and the consummate likeable team guy to boot). You know these guys, and Brian's about to go into detail on the 2011 preview so I'll leave it there. Here's a mid-2010 season eval on RVB:
Van Bergen has also checked in around expectations. He wouldn't look out of place on Michigan defensive lines of yore when the defense was actually good. He's not making a ton of tackles (just twelve) but has two sacks and four of Michigan's eleven QB hurries on the season. He's been hovering around the +4/+5 area that's a decent to good day for a 4-3 DE, and since he's not a 4-3 DE those numbers point towards an above-average player. He was even an impact player against MSU with a drive-killing sack and solid play against the run. He tied Martin's numbers on the day.
RVB is also reportedly the only living human to actually catch and sack Denard Robinson in 3 out of 3 attempts, though this is disputed by Robinson. [EDIT: embedding disabled. Fast forward to RVB's number]:
Adam Patterson was the real disappointment, football-wise. A Top-100 recruit in his day, Patterson's quiet senior year of high school now seems a portent. Adam finally played regularly at DT in 2010 after receiving a 5th year for an injury redshirt in '09, and he was not so good. Best guess on him is the speed and size that came before his classmates and made Patterson so devastating as a junior in high school did not mature beyond that. His frame never filled out, and that made him eminently moveable by doubles. When Martin was knocked out/hobbled for the latter part of last year by a late MSU cheapshot, Patterson got to play extensively (he found out minutes before the Purdue game he would start) and Michigan was ripped by teams doubling up on the inside. That said Patterson stuck it out through the transition, and was always good for positive quotes about his teammates – how many Top 100 players can you think of who will stick it out for his teammates after all of that?
Neither Banks nor Sagesse were any better than their quiet recruiting profiles, which that's not their fault either. Coaching might have been wanting here too – Banks had a tendency to not work down the line of scrimmage when the play went away from him, which further exposed the young secondary and linebackers. Both were behind walk-on wee wittle guy Will Heininger in '09, and would have been again perhaps if Heininger hadn't missed 2010 for injury.
Other than that it was basically what could be gathered in 2009 and 2010 recruiting. Rodriguez & Co. picked up certifiable crab person Craig Roh (right), rated only moderately shirtless because of his size but otherwise a Ryan Kerrigan-level guy. Michigan also picked up a 5-star 2009 in-state Gabe Watson-like guy in William Campbell, but to date Campbell's technique has never managed to catch up to his talent. Whether the new, DL-oriented staff can turn Campbell into a effective (3-tech) DT this year could determine the fate of the 2011 line.
Nick Perry turned out not to be among them* – the 2008 class ended with just Martin on the line, and two 2009 DT recruits chose to back out of their verbals on Signing Day. M whiffed on an SDE-type in Anthony LoLata (since transferred), and have let in-state 4-stars slip away to Penn State in consecutive years. But brought in a smattering of 3-star guys in 2010 and 2011 who run the gambit from promising borderline 4-stars who probably just needs to add weight (Jibreel Black, Richard Ash) to lots of depth-y fellas. In other words, it looks a lot like 2007 all over again.
Ultimately your defensive line from 2007 to 2010 was saved by several extraordinary gentlemen, all recruited under Carr: Super All Star Brandon Graham, Mike Martin, and RVB, and when those guys weren't available the line suffered. Craig Roh is the most likely star to emerge from the Rich Rod classes, especially as he returns from being miscast as a linebacker in a 3-3-5 to the terrorizing edge rusher in a 4-3 under so like where he was most effective as an underclassman.
* This pissed me off so much at the time that my friends used to call out "Nick Perry!" to psyche me out of disc/darts tosses. This has now morphed into "Steve Perry!" because you try throwing a dart with this in your head.
Rescue_Dawn has updated his recruiting map. Behold the Mighty Midwest Kingdom of Hoke the Magnificent:
Since we don't count republished press releases and TomVH can't win it, this is your default Diary of the Week. Not that he doesn't deserve it.