it's a major award
After the defection of Jack Campbell and failure to acquire any other goalie target, no one is entering or leaving. We can skip right to the main event, then: Hogan or Hunwick? That question wasn't even feasible when Hunwick was a 5'6"-ish walk-on with zero meaningful game experience even when Hogan was languishing around the 30th percentile in save percentage during a disappointing junior year. Ten games later, Hunwick is a real option after going 8-2 and posting a .918 save percentage.
I still have the nagging fear that Hunwick's tendency to leave fat, glistening rebounds in the slot several times a period will come back to hurt him badly when Michigan attempts to platoon him next year, but late in his playoff push he went from a terrifying goal waiting to happen to an incredibly quick little bastard whose ability to go post-to-post in no time flat allowed him to make a wide array of Grade A stops.
On the other hand, I still get creeped out whenever he has to jump at a puck that might be on net, and there is a great raging debate about the validity of save percentage as a metric even amongst professional goalies logging 2000 save seasons—the sample size on Hunwick's .918 is so far from statistical significance that not even David Berri would pretend it has meaning.
Hogan has been an enigma. As a sophomore he posted a .914 save percentage en route to a 1.97 GAA, the second-best in Michigan history. Last year, however, his save percentage plummeted to .901. Since this is a save percentage that does not look like much, but the standard deviation in save percentage last year was .0125: Hogan lost essentially one SD in the most relevant goalie stat tracked in college. Until his injury forced Hunwick into the lineup, he had played every minute of Michigan's season—his numbers are as meaningful as any college goalie's can be.
The end result: Hogan finished 53rd of 76 qualifying goalies in save percentage last year. Hunwick did not qualify due to a lack of appearances, but if he had he would have finished tied for 12th with Air Force goalie Andrew Volkening, who you may still wake up shivering about late at night, ahead of Michigan State's fine Drew Palmisano.
So what's going to happen? Early in the year it will be a repeat of the 2008 season in which the established veteran has established that he's not good enough to be given the job free and clear, no questions, and the new face (relatively new, in Hunwick's case) is given the opportunity to win the job free and clear. Last time Hogan and Billy Sauer played about even, but Sauer had this incredible ability to suck the mojo out of Wolverine forwards and ended up on the wrong end of a number of 2-1 decisions. Meanwhile, Hogan got fantastic goal support and won a bunch of games; with Sauer's two vast tournament failures fresh in the minds of all, he was shelved and things went very well until the aforementioned Volkening showed up.
The parallel last year is eerie: Michigan was a sloppy team last year until the instant Hunwick drew into the lineup, at which point the team started backchecking furiously and plunging into their own slot to clear out the plentiful rebounds that gathered there. Does this have anything to do with the guy in net? Not really. Has it been proven as a factor the coaches consider? Absolutely. Is it real? Probably right away, sure, but the probability Must… Protect… HUNWICK is a feeling that lasts through an offseason and a period of what should be persistent success next year is low. At some point the guy stops being an adorable walk-on and is just your starting goalie.
I have no idea what will happen here. Hunwick could backslide as his rebound control betrays him, and Hogan could bounce back to his junior-year form. If you put a gun to my head I would say Hunwick claims the starting job around midseason, but that is a prediction with nothing but good memories from the playoff run behind it. I don't think anyone has a clue here, including the coaches.
The 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board is your place for all-time updates. One important note before we get into individual prospects. Coach Rodriguez recently said the coaching staff will narrow its focus from about 150 offered prospects to "around 70" players. This may make me a little more comfortable removing guys that are less-discussed. The Michigan Elite Camp is this weekend, so that will provide a little clarity as well.
Chris Rock Goes Blue
Michigan gained a commitment from OH DE Chris Rock over the weekend (not the comedian). Unsurprisingly, the local papers in Columbus didn't pick up on the story, but Magnus breaks down his game on Touch the Banner:
To be honest, I'm not enamored with Rock. A large part of that is due to the fact that his highlight film is full of offensive linemen completely forgetting to block him. I find it difficult to get excited about a player who accrues a bunch of sacks while barreling unimpeded into the offensive backfield...
My biggest issue with Rock is that he stands straight up on the snap. He's able to push around weaker players when playing so high, but if he tried to push around a 310 lb. Big Ten tackle like that, Rock would get tossed around like a rag doll. He doesn't use his hands well to shed blocks, and he also finds himself losing contain a little too frequently. He has decent speed for a 250-pounder, so he can make up for his poor fundamentals at times. But some of his habits are less than ideal.
For more on Rock, read the Hello: Chris Rock post.
We transition from good news right into stuff not so positive, as a few prospects are coming off the board:
- AR QB Kiehl Frazier. He officially narrowed his list to Arkansas and Auburn last week, and then Black Righty Tebow committed to Auburn.
- OH QB Braxton Miller. He will choose between OSU (the likely destination), Florida, Notre Dame, and Alabama tomorrow.
- SC OL Brandon Shell. He's named a final 5 consisting entirely of Southern schools.
- FL CB Nick Waisome. He named a top 7 without Michigan in it.
Assume The Position: Wide Receiver
I did one of these a few weeks ago (for tight end), and with the amount of information available this week, it's time to take a closer look at the wide receiver position.
Michigan currently has one wide receiver commit, in Shawn Conway out of Birmingham Seaholm High School. Conway is a big outside leaper with great hands, in the mold of Braylon Edwards (though likely not as good, he probably won't have a case of the dropsies on easy balls, either). With the numbers of offers and visits taking place, it's clear that the Wolverines want one more outside guy, and maybe a slot receiver if they can find an elite one.
Fortunately for us, Sam Webb's weekly column in the Detroit News focused on on the wideout position last week, and ran down a few of the Wolverines' top targets. I don't intend to steal Sam's thunder by blockquoting too much of his article, but since the News evilly (and idiotically - good luck finding people to pay for it) puts its articles behind a paywall after a week, I'll be a little more liberal. Please click through to make up for it.
Sammy Watkins (at right):
"Sammy Watkins is the total package as a WR prospect," said Scout.com Florida analyst Geoff Vogt. "He can flat run, has incredibly light feet which allows him to make players miss in the open field, and a body to be that prototype 6-3, 215-pounder down the road.
"I have watched him snare balls thrown as bullets down the middle of the field and he will just leisurely catch them with one hand. He has elite hands. He runs very clean routes and understands how to get separation.
"While I view him as a WR prospect, Sammy could easily be a big-time safety if he chose to go that route."
Michigan, Miami (YTM), and Florida are his top 3. DeAnthony Arnett:
The second-rated prospect in the state dominated opponents in seven-on-seven competitions throughout the winter and spring thanks to his precise route-running and impressive quickness.
"It seems like every camp DeAnthony goes to, he kills it," said Scout.com Midwest analyst Allen Trieu. "He continued to impress with his route-running, hands, and ball skills at the Michigan Football Showcase. He made the play of the tournament when he went up between two defenders and made an outstanding catch to win a game. Arnett continues to move up in our eyes and has proven to be one of the very best in country."
If Michigan has a good season, the Wolverines will probably get back into the mix for Arnett. Theyr'e currently on the outside looking in. AJ Jordan:
"One of the top players in Ohio in his class," his Scout.com profile reads. "Also ranked one of the top 4 hurdlers in the nation. A smooth route runner with a great burst, he can make plays anywhere on the field and makes defenses game-plan against him."
On the recruiting roundup, Sam said Michigan is "definitely in the driver's seat" for Jordan. He'll decide earlier than the other two guys. Those are the three hottest prospects from a Michigan perspective, but there are a few more on the radar should all of these fall through. Michigan also has its eye on a few sot receivers, including NJ ATH Miles Shuler - though Northwestern leads ($, info in header - and MD ATH Darius Jennings.
Scout has had their 2011 prospects rankings out for a while, but the other two sites are slowly-but-surely releasing theirs. Both ESPN and Rivals now have the top recruits ranked, with neither site having any Michigan commits in their top group, but a number of Michigan targets. Some of those are longshots - FL DT Timmy Jernigan, who lists Michigan in his top 6, would still surprise everyone if he left the state of Florida - but many are realistic options. Magnus has a breakdown of Rivals's list. Top 100 lists were also released by the Sporting News and Tom Lemming.
Recruiting Quick Hits
You may remember that NC QB Marquise Williams recently named Michigan among his top three schools, before trimming his list to a final five. He's now made his decision timeline public, as he plans to commit to a school in October ($, info in header). He'll visit Ann Arbor for the Michigan State game on October 9th, so the Wolverines will be fresh in his mind when he makes a decision. I'll go into a little more depth on the QB recruiting situation next week.
Yay Demetrius and all that.
According to Cincinnati recruiting guru Mike Dyer, OH TE Benson Browne plans to visit Michigan this summer. My educated guess will be that he's coming in for camp to try for an offer. He currently holds them from West Virginia, Kansas, Louisville, Minnesota, Miami (Not That Miami) and Central Michigan.
Despite recently receiving a Michigan offer, OH TE Nick Vannett does not have UM in his top group. He's going to start taking trips soon, and wants to have a decision made by July.
FL OL Tony Posada will visit Michigan this summer ($, info in header). He also spoke to ESPN last week (video), mentioning Michigan first, and in his "big ones" category. He claims to be open at this time.
Though their class is starting to fill up, the Buckeyes will hold a spot open for IN DT/OL Joel Hale ($, info in header). It's unclear if Michigan is a player in his recruitment.
MGoBoard's very own Magnus breaks down the game of MD DT Vincent Croce on Touch The Banner:
Strengths: Listed at 5.17 but seemingly plays faster. Ability to chase some players from sideline to sideline. Relentless pass rusher. Very aggressive tackler. Strong upper body. Uses hands well to deliver good initial shock and shed blockers. Good initial surge off the line. Relatively lean frame
Weaknesses: Not a natural knee bender. Stands too high. May get overpowered by strong run-blocking guards. Played significant time at linebacker, which may stunt growth as defensive lineman.
Projection: Could be a solid rotation player as early as second year in program
His weaknesses are mostly technique-based, which could be worked on with college coaching. I also think playing DT only part-time may have led to some of that, and playing LB in high school actually means he has more upside than is shown on film.
GA DT Gabe Wright might officially visit Michigan:
“I’ll probably take all of my unofficial visits to schools that I can drive to and my officials to schools far away,” he says. “I will probably take official visits to schools like Miami, Michigan and maybe USC or UCLA. Also, I might visit Oregon State. It will be late before I make my decision.”
Taking an official would be a good sign for Michigan's chances to land him.
PA LB/DE Desimon Green will officially visit Michigan State, Texas Tech and Pitt, along with a couple other schools to be named later. He gave a slightly different top schools list to Tom, and is expecting a Michigan offer later this week.
TX LB Kellen Jones has picked up a Michigan offer, and called it "a dream come true" ($, info in header). THat sounds very promising should the Wolverines press him for a commitment.
Tom talked to OH LB Sean Duggan, who has Michigan in his top 5. However, it sounds like Notre Dame is a heavy favorite as long as they don't wait too long to offer. The Spartans offered him a couple days ago.
GA CB Avery Walls plans to visit Michigan at some point ($, info in header).
Tom also has (positive) updates on VA LB Corey Marshall, FL DE Giorgio Newberry, and NC LB Kris Frost, among others. Check out his post for the full info.
Michigan Sports Zone talked with NJ CB/RB Solomon Simpkins, and he mentioned that he has early interest in Michigan.
|Warren, OH - 6'6" 210|
|Scout||3*, #102 OLB|
|Rivals||3*, #28 OLB, #18 OH|
|ESPN||3*, 78, #29 OLB|
|Other Suitors||Michigan State, West Virginia|
|YMRMFSPA||Shawn Crable except skinnier|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post.|
|Notes||Warren G. Harding also produced Mario Manningham, Prescott Burgess, and classmate DJ Williamson.|
Linebacker Davion Rogers was another late pickup recruitniks were given little warning on. A longtime WVU commitment, Rogers went from totally off the radar to visiting to committed in the span of a few days, leaving West Virginia grasping (again: by that point Michigan had already pirated Pahokee DE/DT Richard Ash from the Mountaineers; the two defections were part of a disastrous post-Doc-Holliday-departure decommit binge) and Michigan fans scrambling to figure out how a high school linebacker could be skinnier than Shawn Crable. As of press time, this was still under investigation.
No, seriously. The 6'6" 210 you see above is the approximate mean of all the listed heights and weights I found, and it may significantly understate how close a resemblance there is between Rogers and a space elevator. When Greg Ladky took in Harding's 10-7 loss against St. Ignatius and Jake Ryan, he noted the roster listed him at 6'7"(!) and 190 pounds(!!!). Do not take this man parasailing. He will not land.
As you might expect when the topic is a 6'7" stick of a linebacker, Rogers sounds an awful lot like Shawn Crable. Worm02, a guy who has hung around the internet talking about WGH players for years now, makes the direct comparison to the former Massillon flightless bird:
When you see his height, you think of Shawn Crable. Davion is very good, but I think that SC was better in high school. I'll never forget when Massillon came to WGH in '02, When we (Harding fans) saw Crable, we just said "Wow!" Back then, Crable weighed a good 25-30 pounds more than DR does now, and he was every bit as good as he was hyped up to be. …
Anyway, Davion has definitely come a long way. Last year, he got his offers based on potential, but this past season, I can honestly say that he played like a guy that was going to play major college football. He reacts quickly, flies to the ball well, plays to the end regardless of the outcome, etc. He's a guy that college coaches can do a lot with because of what he brings to the table. With his frame, I expect him to stay at linebacker, but WVU was actually looking at him as a possible safety.
ESPN, as they are wont to do sometimes, marries a good but not great rating with a panting evaluation. In the process they do not actually say "Crable," but they don't have to:
Rogers has the chance to a very special player at the next level because of his natural tools. He has exceptional height for a safety or outside linebacker but could gain some weight and be a dominating rush end on defense. Flows, closes and has very good range for such a tall player. Looks like a basketball player in cleats and displays toughness and good football savvy. Keeps leverage on the football when filling from the inside out. Uses hands well to shed blockers and get to the football. Could be a better knee bender but sinks his hips pretty well when making the hit. Excellent on the outside blitz demonstrating the ability to get off the ball quickly and has a burst when coming off the edge. Often sacks the quarterback or flushes him out of the pocket; shows the ability to chase the ball down from behind. Long arms are a big asset in keeping blockers off his body and wrapping up ball carriers. Rogers is very athletic for a man of his height with good speed and quickness.
That is almost exactly Crable. Crable had 30 pounds on Rogers (and still looked like a man with chicken legs) coming out of high school and therefore was a lot easier to project on the college level; other than that admittedly sizeable (HA!) difference these men are clones. His coach did not get the memo, unfortunately, choosing to compare Rogers to former Michigan linebacker Prescott Burgess, also a WGH alum:
“He always seems to come up with a play when you need one, it just happens. And that’s kind of how Prescott was as a junior. He was kind of banged up his senior year, but when he did get to play it just seemed like he made a play when you needed it. He had natural instincts.” …
"Athletically he's ready. He’s a pretty explosive player, has great knee bend. There’s a lot of great things to say about him."
In another article that Tim cited in Rogers's commitment post now lost down the newspaper archive memory hole, Dota's praise is even higher:
"He'll run down things from behind. If it's run at him, he pretty much destroys it. He's probably our best defensive player and our defense is pretty good. He's just been all over the field. He has that knack to find the football. We've asked him to do a bunch of different things this year and he's done a great job understanding what he needs to do for us. …
He's a great blitzer off the edge. Really, anything you ask him to do he does really well because of his athletic ability, which is really shocking because of his height. He plays really fast. … I think he can play at the next level - the NFL I think his game will only improve. His game has improved some much in a year. The mental knowledge, he understands what's going on around him."
Even traditionally dour local evaluator Magnus gets on board:
Watching film of him, Rogers has incredible physical talent. The most impressive thing about him is his speed. He's able to catch up to skill players from behind. His wingspan also helps him latch onto and wrap up players who might be out of a shorter player's reach. Once he gains strength, that wingspan should also afford him the ability to keep offensive tackles out of his chest.
Concerns are expressed about pursuit angles and his tendency to reach while tackling, but those are things that will get fixed as Rogers packs on pounds during his prep year or two.
Those weaknesses do indicate the main area in which Rogers needs to improve. As you might imagine, he has some difficulty playing the run since blockers can get into his midsection so easily. More from Rivals on that game against St. Igs:
STRENGTHS: Very good lateral movement for a 6-foot-6 prospect. Rogers is a force as a pass rusher and uses his length to make it difficult for ball carriers to get around him. St. Ignatius' quarterback Mark Myers was able to avoid sacks all night, except when Rogers was breathing down his neck.
WEAKNESSES: Rogers needs to be more physical taking on blockers, then shedding those blocks to make tackles.
Ladky's preseason evaluation also mentions the deficiency when taking on blockers coming at him:
Rogers is still pretty skinny, but is clearly athletic and very rangy. … He needs to improve against the run and increase his aggressiveness in taking on blockers, but as he fills in his frame, he could be a monster off the edge.
That will also be something Michigan works on.
Other evaluations are similar. Lemming says he is "tall and athletic" and "showed a lot of speed on the edge" while using his "long arms to his advantage when disengaging from the OT." JJ Huddle ranked him 29th in the state before his strong senior year, calling him a "a tall long-armed defender that has huge upside and growth potential" who is "fluid enough to drop back in coverage" and can rush off the edge. Ohio Varsity analyst Mike Parris notes the obvious redshirt stuff and then says he could be the proverbial "special talent."
The downside: Scout was way less enthused than the other two sites but that appears to be based on little. His profile shows a total of three stories on him, and a site search turns up nothing except articles from GBW and the WVU site. No one who had a say in rankings had anything to say about him the whole year. Since the WVU ESPN affiliate had to prod ESPN into watching the guy's tape, maybe Rogers managed to slide under the radar. How, I don't know. I'd expect people to take note of a 6'6" linebacker. Obviously he avoided the combine circuit.
After all that, Rogers's recruitment was abbreviated by an early commitment to West Virginia. He had a Michigan State offer at that point as well. His commitment and some questionable grades (about which more later) saw his recruitment go dead. Prior to his visit to Michigan he was not even known to be a soft commit, and his immediate switch prevented anyone else from getting involved. Due to the grade issues and the early commit, offers aren't a great metric here.
At Michigan, Rogers will be an outside linebacker until such time as he outgrows the position and slides into Craig Roh's current role as a LB/DE hybrid. West Virginia was actually thinking about him as as safety:
"They like me at linebacker, but they might look into playing me as a strong safety," Rogers said. "I'll do whatever they ask me to do. I just want to be able represent myself the best way that I can. I'm looking forward to any opportunity that they give me to play. I'm very excited."
That likely won't happen at Michigan but it speaks well of his physical abilities. As does Rogers himself from the same article:
"I've got the feet of a safety, I hit like a linebacker and the size of a defensive end. I get to the ball. No matter what I'm going to get to the ball. I'm determined to get to that ball."
Rogers is a high ceiling guy with a very long way to go, a quintessential boom-or-bust type. The two sites above that have him around #30 nationally as an OLB are ranking him fairly—with so much projection required it's hard to justify higher placement—but Rogers is the kind of guy who can be a star on a great defense. Michigan does not have many of those at linebacker of late.
Brief but necessary grade section. So this is kind of a hilarious dig at one of Michigan's rivals and their quasi-rival:
Rogers said he committed to West Virginia over Michigan State early in the recruiting process because “my grade situation, it was looking bad,” and he didn’t know what other offers he’d receive.
Unfortunately, that dig is a little unsettling given the issues with Antonio Kinard and Demar Dorsey. FWIW, Webb said he had confirmed that everyone else was good to go, and Worm02 notes that Rogers has picked it up now that he knows what's on the line:
I'm definitely going to be on him about how he goes about handling his business as he prepares for the next level, but lately he's been doing a pretty good job of doing what he has to do. I'm definitely excited for him.
So he's qualified but it sounds like he might be a little marginal. His coach says "I just hope that when he gets there he takes on what he needs to do, and I think he will" in the Birkett article linked above.
Why Shawn Crable? Obvious.
Etc.: West Virginia decommit bitchin'.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. We obviously know what we're getting and WGH is a heavily scouted school, but the major difference in the Scout evaluation and the fact Rogers has to put on 20, 30, 40 pounds before playing make projecting him difficult. A Rogers that is just as fast as this Rogers but weighs 250 is a first round pick, but that's quite a trick there.
General Excitement Level: High, eventually. Most of the scouting reports report some outrageous athleticism just waiting to be developed. The crazy frame gives him a major advantage coming off the edge and his athleticism is such that West Virginia was actually looking at him as a
Projection: Will take the Crable/Roundtree Memorial redshirt-so-you-don't-get-broken-in-half, and will probably get only sparing time in 2011; in 2012 and beyond will be an edge-rushing terror as an outside linebacker.
6'2, 240 lbs.
As everyone knows, Corey Marshall recently took the trip up and over to Michigan for the BBQ. Marshall came away impressed with what Michigan had to offer, and has been analyzing all of the schools he's interested in. Marshall:
The Michigan visit was the most impressive from the standpoint that I got to stay a little longer, and see more of what they had to offer. I'll be going to West Virginia next, and then back to Tennessee to talk to Chuck Smith.
So far, Marshall has taken visits to Michigan, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, and Virginia. As he said, West Virginia is up next. He spoke highly of Michigan, and the academic department, but I have a feeling that Virginia Tech and Tennessee are probably in the lead. There's a lot that can change, but the fact that he's taking a second visit to Tennessee says something. We'll see what happens there.
6'6", 255 lbs.
Fort Pierce, Florida
Giorgio is one of the top ranked players in the country and was recently named in the Rivals top 100l. He told me tonight that he plans on taking an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor to check out what Michigan has to offer.
They (Michigan) love me up there. It's looking good, so far, with them. I'm not sure when it will happen, but I'm definitely trying to make it up there sometime this summer.
An interesting tidbit: Rod Smith is recruiting Newberry. He previously coached with one of Giorgio's current high school coaches. Michigan has a guy in their corner, and Newberry has always spoken highly of Michigan. If the visit happens, Michigan could be a player here.
6'3", 210 lbs.
Matthews, North Carolina
Frost, like Newberry, was also recently ranked in the Rivals top 100, sitting high on the list at number 27. Kris has been trying for awhile now to make it up to Michigan, and has finally found the right time. Frost, along with his mother, father, and possibly brother, will be coming up to Ann Arbor on June 18th for Michigan's camp. They'll be coming up for the camp, but also treating it as an unofficial visit. To say he's excited is an understatement:
My whole family is excited about it, we can't wait. It's happening 100%, too, which feels good. I haven't been up there since last summer, and this is the first time my family will be there, so that will be good. They'l be able to see everything that I have.
Kris is going to wait for signing day to make his decision, but is very vocal about his feelings towards Michigan. He told me he is very high on Michigan, and is planning on trying to make it up for two or three games this season. He's already set his official visit:
We're coming up for the Michigan State game in October, and I'm actually coming with (QB) Marquise Williams. We met at the Shrine Bowl practices, and it's cool to talk to him about how he feels about Michigan too. I know they're in his top five, so it's cool to have someone else that feels like that for Michigan, too.
Michigan is most definitely in Frost's top five, with the others being Auburn, LSU, Cal, and North Carolina. His parents have been to Auburn and North Carolina so far, so they already have a barometer for other schools, and what they have to offer. Don't expect a commitment yet, but this visit further shows his genuine interest in Michigan.
- A new name to add to the list is Ohio defensive end Deonte Gibson out of St. Edwards. Gibson told me that he spoke with Coach Tall before the weekend, and that Tall was recommending him for an offer. They are now waiting on Rich Rodriguez to give the approval, or not. He thinks he'll find out sometime this week. His highlight film is here, if you care to look.
- Louisiana defensive back Daren Kitchen is 95% sure he will be at Michigan's elite camp this weekend. I asked him if it will be over if Michigan extends an offer. His response was an emphatic, "Oh yeah."
- Illinois offensive lineman Pat Flavin will also be at Michigan's camp this weekend. I spoke to his coach, Patrick New, and he told me Flavin is definitely interested in Michigan's tradition, and what they have to offer. He also said that Patrick gets the sense that he might not be on the top of Michigan's list. They both understand that some schools like to see athletes in person at camp before extending offers, especially on the offensive line. Flavin is likely to make a decision at the end of the summer.
- Michigan has also offered GA DE Ray Drew. Drew is the #6 DE in the country to Scout and his getting heavily recruited by area schools, so he will be a tough guy to pull.
O let's not, I guess. Sam Webb was on the WTKA this morning, as per usual, and dropped some major news: everyone in the class save two players is good to go academically. The two players in question are no surprise, as they've been rumored to be in danger for months. They are Antonio Kinard and Demar Dorsey.
Webb specifically avoids saying anything definitive, but also makes it clear that his lack of clarity is a necessary evil when talking about something as sensitive as a kid's academic status (for one, if the player is displeased lawsuit noises result) but the money quote:
If I was a Michigan fan I would not be optimistic about that at this point, about Demar Dorsey. … Would not be optimistic about Kinard.
Kinard was a kid Michigan took really early and never got any recruiting traction after that; I haven't taken a hard look at him yet but there's not a whole lot in his dossier to indicate his loss is going to be a heavy blow, especially since Michigan has some time to replace him. Dorsey, obviously, was a major recruit at a position of critical need and his probable loss is bad news for a secondary that needs options this fall. I'm super glad we all spent a week talking about how Dorsey was a menace to society in February. That was time well-spent.
Barwis/Mealer, again. The Toledo Blade spotlights Brock Mealer and his progress towards walking once more. The progress Brock has made in six months has been considerable:
Determining just how close Mr. Mealer is to walking is not precise, but Whiteman believes the squat rack is a good indicator.
When Mr. Mealer began training at UM six months ago, he needed 200 pounds of squat assistance from an accompanying machine - as well as the guidance of his arms - to complete a repetition.
He has since reduced the assistance to 80 pounds, and his arms never leave his side.
The hope is that once Mr. Mealer needs zero pounds of help, he'll remove his harness and be able to walk again.
If he can maintain that rate he'll be 20 pounds short by the time the UConn game rolls around, at which point the only thing holding him back from walking will be his enormous upper body. He's already able to get across the field with crutches.
Youtube victory. No one will ever take Michigan's crown as the college football kings of youtube. Wolverine Historian alone is good enough for the gold, and then here's this random thing that popped up in the feed reader:
I think a few months ago someone around here was talking about "Ecstasy of Gold" as a terribly underrated intro/clip reel song. They were correct.
Dun-dun duh duh. So the Dispatch wanders around and notices this quote from OSU's Brian Rolle:
"It's time for us to get better," he said. "Have guys like Marcus Freeman, who's not our position coach, help us do small things and go over things with him."
Marcus Freeman is a… wait for it… quality control assistant. Though the article later states that support staff "can't help players with football skills in any way," this could be on the up-and-up. If Freeman is certified as an S&C instructor and available to any athlete in the department, he can conduct workouts:
Strength and conditioning coaches who are not countable coaches and who perform such duties on a department-wide basis may design and conduct specific workout programs for student-athletes, provided such workouts are:
- Conducted at the request of the student-athlete.
Since I'm guessing the folks in the OSU football administration actually respond to requests from compliance the Buckeyes have probably figured out a way to make this kosher. Also likely kosher: the activities of the 22 employees added by Tressel over the course of his tenure at OSU.
I've gotten some emails suggesting that if the wool would just be lifted from my eyes I would see the dark conspiracy behind the persistent unresponsiveness of Draper and Labadie, but examples like OSU—where reporting secondary violations is a way of life—further illustrate how complete the fail was on their part. If OSU did something wrong here they'll find it, impose some light tickling on themselves, and avoid a year-long media firestorm. The torrent of secondary violations OSU reports is a healthy relationship between an athletic department attempting to push the edges and a compliance office that is informed about their doings. I'm guessing Freeman has done whatever kabuki he needs to do to be considered a viable instructor-type person. Michigan's main sin with the QC guys was not doing that kabuki because Scott Draper didn't submit three-page job description for months.
The thing about "everyone is doing it" is that this is a literal truth: other teams are literally doing the same things with various support staff. But because they did not have a completely dysfunctional setup in the athletic department they will not get hammered by the law.
Meanwhile, the NCAA is considering major changes to support staff, including the imposition of limits on the numbers available and clarifications on what they can do. That lends credence to the idea that Michigan's mistakes were good faith misinterpretatios.
Further Graham. Brandon Graham is not having any of it. What? Anything:
"People didn't give Coach Rod a chance once he first got there," Graham said after practice Wednesday. "He made us all better players. And I'm happy for what he's done for me the last two years. it's just that a lot people who really just wanted Coach Carr never gave Coach Rod a chance. All of those people making those allegations are wrong because Coach Rod tried to do everything by the book. And he made sure he let us know it's all about family and being together. The people that left (the program) wasn't our family, really. That's why they left."
The 3-3-5 shift… eh… potentially overrated. Rodriguez on the shift to the 3-3-5, this time with some specifics that I think many of us thought might be the case after the spring game:
“The reality is Coach Robinson has run a lot of 3-4 and 3-3-5 stuff in his past and did some last year, even though people didn’t recognize it as much. And all we did in the spring was actually simplify things so there’s not a lot of big differences between what we did at times last year and what we did this spring. … It’s not what we ran at West Virginia, which when we left it was pure 3-3-5 and that was the deal and that’s what they grew up in. This was combining some things we did last year and simplifying some things so our young guys would be ready.”
I'm guessing the defense this year is a substantially more diverse version of the defense last year, and not particularly close to the pure stack Jeff Casteel runs.
Etc.: A man named La'el has committed to LSU. This, of course, is Spanish for "The The." Six Zero profiles the Mathlete who, like me, perceives a football game as an ever-shifting exercise in torturing probabilities. Oversigning.com continues to put the issue on more and more radars, largely by tweaking Alabama. God's work.
Well, what can you take from that? At halftime I was sure the USA was going three-and-out at the World Cup after a dismal showing that saw the one good US chance something Jozy Altidore created entirely on his own versus a series of knee-buckling counter-attacks from Turkey that repeatedly caught US midfielders out of position. Doom.
Four subs and 45 minutes later… hey… a result against a basically A-level Turkey team that's got a considerably better Silver ranking (24) than either Slovenia (35) or Algeria (a stunning 64th, well behind South Africa and ahead of only minnow-tastic New Zealand and North Korea). And a deserved one. Bring on England.
Jose Torres. I can put many words down or I can point you to the five minutes that cover every touch Torres had in the Turkey game:
That is five solid minutes of possession and passing porn. Torres's composure on the ball reminded me of the Holland friendly earlier this year. In that dismal loss, whenever the USA would put the Dutch in a tough spot in the midfield they would keep it with deft touches and accurate passes; the US would either lose it or dump it back to Demerit, who would hoof it upfield. That was kind of what the first half was like with Ricardo Clark swinging back towards wildly useless—it's always one or the other with him. Enter Torres and the world changes. That highlight reel is composure under pressure and a wide array of great passes that break pressure and set the US up in space that simply did not exist in the first half.
After the Czech friendly I praised Torres's work but suggested his general "uselessness" defensively would keep him from seeing the field in the World Cup because he'd be a substitute and Bradley would favor the relatively more established Benny Feilhaber. I would like to backtrack on that as rapidly as possible. I'm not an extremely bald man with a furrowed brow and more soccer experience than scalp shine, so I can't rule out the possibility that against some of the USA's first-round opponents the tactical situation will call for an Edu or Clark or (I guess) Feilhaber. But I want Torres to start. I think it makes sense, too, with England's central midfielders not exactly the guys who will make Torres's diminutive stature and lack of raw speed an issue.
Robbie Findley. Findley, like Torres, has seen a groundswell of internet support for a potential starting role—enough that Greg Lalas (yes that Lalas) has offered a "settle down, folks." I'd like to cosign that: you're choosing between Findley and Stuart Holden here. Holden was perhaps the USA's best player against the Czechs and has been so impressive with Bolton that they've offered him two contract extensions in the last six months. He's real good.
Findley, meanwhile, blew everyone's minds with the chip pass that set up the USA's first goal and put himself into the conversation as a potential substitute, but let's not get ahead of ourselves: it was Torres, not Findley, that produced the sea change in the amount of space and time the Nats had in the second half.
Steve Cherundolo. After an iffy to bad game against the Czechs—gave away possession a lot—may have forced himself into a starting role by controlling Arda Turan much more effectively than Jonathan Spector did. Also got forward effectively in the second half once the US, spurred by Torres, found itself in a position to use overlapping fullbacks effectively. The choice at RB may come down to how threatening the opponent's wingers are, with Cherundolo taking the tough ones and Spector offering a more attacking option against potentially less sturdy opposition.
Altidore, Donovan, Dempsey. All three are in the same category as players who either scored or set up scores—Donovan assisted on both—but still left something to be desired. For Donovan it was a little backtracking and an ability to get involved in the game in the first half. Dempsey impact was limited until his goal.
As for Altidore, this first highlight was brilliant…
…and he had a few other decent touches, but didn't have any other chances. The goal, well… it's nice that he's in the right spot but most people reading this blog could have finished it.
Still, these are caveats: X did not do this except for this one brilliant thing against a good opponent. Dempsey's ability to run onto the Donovan pass after deflecting it with his hip and then fire it through the keeper seemed fluky, but eventually when you keep doing ridiculous fluky things they cease being fluky.
I'd leave him up top. He'll need service to get involved in the game but no one on the roster makes goals out of seemingly nothing like he does. (Yes, he had moved back to midfield for that goal.)
Carlos Bocanegra. Is the holiest of holy locks to start at left back.
Stuart Holden. Holden didn't get much time but his cameo was productive; he was the guy who picked out Michael Bradley and put him in alone. Speaking of…
Michael Bradley. Had a major part in both the ineffective first half and very effective second half. See the above Torres reel for an indication of where he falls flat—better control on that pass leaves him in a ton of space moving at the D. There was also the fantastic run to get him one-on-one with the keeper late… and the pass that resulted. Bradley scored 17 goals in the Dutch league one season, so he can and should be shooting there. It wasn't a horrible decision since Dempsey did get off a shot that clipped the post, but, man, one on one with the keeper any international level midfielder should be shooting.
More important as far as Bradley's role on the team: the spacing and lack of tackles in the first half was at least partially on him. I don't know how much. Again, this doesn't matter much as far as the starting lineups for the WC: he's played every game, he starts in the Bundesliga, he's the coach's kid, he's an automatic start.
Tim Howard. Could maybe have saved the Turkey goal but tough to blame him; didn't really have much to do other than that except a couple of shots that were directly at him. Minor plus: got in some serious "I have Tourette's guys, in case you forgot" screaming at the defense in the first half.
Center back roulette. Onyewu had an encouraging second half, charging down a potentially lethal shot in the box and doing some unnecessarily high jumping on uncontested balls in an effort to prove that his error against the Czechs was not indicative of his fitness.
Demerit and Goodson, on the other hand, were kind of shaky, Goodson most prominently. To be fair, they were put in a lot of bad positions by midfielders getting out of position in the first half and shaky play from at least one fullback at all times (the window between Spector coming out and Bornstein coming on. But the errors from others exposed a certain lack of mobility that I don't recall a healthy Onyewu displaying. I think they have to grit their teeth and hope for the best with Gooch.
Jonathan Spector. May have lost his job in the first half after putting in a pretty ugly performance defensively. I'm not talking about the run that eventually led to the Turkey goal, as there were a couple of passes and some midfield pressure from the US that delayed the Turkey counter and should have let either Donovan or Clark rotate back; neither did. I think that's mainly on Donovan because of his positioning on the field but Clark's supposed to be a defensive mid, so I can see the school of thought that puts the blame on him.
Anyway, when Spector was in position his defending was poor to say the least; I don't know if that's an anomaly but since people who pay more attention to the EPL than I do claim he was amongst the weakest left backs in the league it might not be. Cherundolo shook off a poor game against the Czechs and was an immediate upgrade defensively. Against England and their blazing wingers this will be important.
Ricardo Clark. It was obvious that he was having a bad game even before Torres came on and almost singlehandedly swung the flow of play. Clark's played in just three club matches since the end of the MLS season and the rust was apparent. Even at the best of times he's marginal with the ball at his feet (unless he's uncorking a shot from distance); against Turkey he never even got to display this limitation because he never won the ball. If it wasn't Donovan's job to rotate back it was definitely Clark's. Torres, meanwhile, had 41 appearances for Pachuca across competitions last year.
Jonathan Bornstein. It's come to this: when he came on for the final 15 minutes yesterday I was rooting for him to get smoked just so Bradley would not be tempted to put him on the field in virtually any circumstance in the World Cup. Even with that background, Bornstein still managed to disappoint, getting skinned three(!) times in his brief cameo and getting lucky on a late offside trap that did not work except in the eyes of the linesman.
I'd send him home with an injury and call up Frankie Hedjuk. Seriously. I'd think about bringing in Tony Sanneh.
Next up: the last friendly, this against fellow World Cup participant Australia in South Africa. It's at 8:30 AM on Saturday. With a full week until the England match, the US can put whoever it wants on the field without worrying about fitness, so I'm guessing we'll see Onyewu and Holden go the full 90 in an effort to get them as match fit as possible. Bocanegra may also fit into that category after his surprise hernia surgery.
One man's starting lineup for the Socceroos:
Cherundolo Onyewu Demerit Bocanegra
Holden Bradley Torres Donovan
I assume both Dempsey and Altidore will make way for some combo of Gomez/Buddle/Findley, Spector will be given a shot to decide the RB position, and the central midfield will also see a healthy amount of rotation. Donovan will probably get lifted for Beasley just so nothing horrible happens.