i like 'em both
Michigan Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson met with reporters for about a half hour today. Notes from his press conference.
- The defense is moving exclusively to a 6-2-3 (a little April Fools Day humor(!) from Robinson).
- The "new" defensive scheme isn't that dissimilar to what the team ran last year. With the hybrids, there are a lot of different alignments possible. The only big change from last year is some of the terminology.
- The changes weren't an all-Rodriguez or all-Robinson decision. Everyone on the staff wanted to see certain things tweaked a bit, and their input went into it.
- Between years (and over the course of a year), things should always be evolving to match personnel, the opposing offense, and other factors. Coach Robinson is always open to adjustments.
- As he has repeated many times, Robinson's been around football long enough that there are very few schemes he hasn't tried. He ran 3-3 fronts with the New York Jets and the Denver Broncos. With the Jets, the scheme worked particularly well against the Buffalo Bills, who liked to spread the ball a bit.
- Robinson's overarching philosophy is to make the defense strong from the inside out. Having strong defensive linemen, linebackers, and deep middle players is important to that. Robinson also believes in the "weak link theory," that the weakest spot on the defense dictates how good a defense can be. Developing depth is very important to eliminating weak links.
Year One To Year Two
- There was a big emphasis last year on getting more speed on the field (i.e. Stevie Brown playing linebacker). That will continue this year.
- A few items about specific games from last year. The Michigan State game was a good defensive performance, aside from a couple breakdowns related mostly to inexperience. Same with the Iowa game, aside from two specific things that ended up being big plays for Iowa (and a third, less egregious one). The team played some good ball against Wisconsin, but they were pretty banged up, and had to play through that. The Ohio State game was a good performance to end the season, but not good enough because the team didn't win the game.
- The defenders are "absorbing" the defense just fine. The offense is adding a few wrinkles, so they're getting tested by some things they have seen before.
- There's a night and day difference from last spring to now in terms of Robinson's comfort and communication with the staff and players. He knows people's personalities so he can read them better, and the same goes for them knowing him.
- The outside world doesn't need to hear quotes from Robinson to be confident in the defense - they won't believe it anyway unless and until they see it on the field.
- There's a good chemistry mix with younger guys (particularly redshirt freshmen) playing with real enthusiasm. When they're surrounded with more experienced guys, it can be a great thing. The team has been putting in the work, and they understand the expectations. This youth movement didn't exist last year.
- The biggest concern is still a lack of depth. Last year, they didn't have 18-19 guys who were ready to play on defense, but they still had to sub in those seven or eight other guys. Hopefully they'll have that this year, but there are still 15 or 16 defensive guys who won't be here until fall, so you never know.
Coaching and Personnel
- Though Robinson had input, the hiring of Adam Braithwaite was ultimately Rich Rodriguez's decision. Braithwaite is very experienced, having been a coordinator (albeit of a D-3 school) in the past. He's worked with Rich Rodriguez in the past, and the entire coaching staff has confidence in him. He also will be an exceptional recruiter.
- Robinson has worked with inside linebackers a lot in the past, so coaching them this year is not a new experience. He didn't coach them last year because Hopson was already in charge of them. As for how they're doing this spring, it's too early (only eight practices so far) to talk position battles or anything like that. They have a couple experienced guys but quite a bit of youth.
- Losing Mike Martin for the spring will give other defensive linemen more reps, which will hopefully help them be more ready in the fall. Robinson would guess that Renaldo Sagesse and Greg Banks were probably some of the hardest-working players on the team in the offseason conditioning program. Banks is starting to show some true leadership on the team as well. Also on the defensive line, Will Campbell has matured a lot. Last spring he was still like a high schooler - and was probably thinking a bit too much about his prom.
- Floyd Simmons has been playing a lot at Stevie Brown's old position. Thomas Gordon and Mike Williams are new to that spot, though it is somewhat similar to the role Williams played last year. Jordan Kovacs is still playing that box safety spot.
- Cameron Gordon is playing a lot at the deep safety spot due to injuries to some other guys. Brandin Hawthorne has been getting some reps there as well. Gordon is raw on defense, but has a natural feel at defensive back, and they hope he can continue improving. He has a defensive temperament and is very tough.
- At the corner spots, Troy Woolfolk is very comfortable, and is playing well. He's much more settled than last spring, when they had to move him around a bit more. James Rogers has good length, but is somewhat new to the position after switching last year. People forget that JT Floyd is still a young guy who was just a redshirt freshman last year. He put in a lot of work in the weight room, and will have more experience this year as well. Justin Turner is still a work in progress. He's got a prototypical frame for the position, and JT Floyd is helping him learn the position.
Give money to cancer. No, cancer research. Michigan's Relay for Life is approaching and the football team has various items on auction including "Coffee with Coach Carr," spring game field passes, an autographed football, and track suits. You can also donate directly. There appears to be a competition going on between various members of the team to raise the most money. Your dominating leader thus far:
What's with everyone else? Are they spending all their time talking to babies?
Spending all your time talking to babies. Here's Devin Gardner having a nonsense conversation with a baby. The baby enjoys it more than actual words from Gardner. Geoffrey Canada is alarmed.
I've got nothing here. It's Devin Gardner talking to a baby. It requires nothing else.
Also, Gardner and Martell Webb are transferring to Arizona State.
Who is important, who is marginally important, who is a running back. The Mathlete returns with another diary that tackles one of the great unasked questions of our time: are all returning starters created equal? Or, since everyone thinks quarterbacks are way more important than anyone else, how unequal are they?
Some interesting findings:
- Running back experience means zero. Running back is the position at which instant freshman starters aren't that terrifying, but this is quite a statement: "No position on the field came close to running backs in terms of lack of value for returning starts. There was literally no correlation from returning starts from running backs to on field success."
- Quarterbacks do matter but the most important thing is to have some experience: the bottom 20% got hammered out of proportion to the rest of the country.
- Despite running backs having almost no impact, the run game as a whole is heavily dependent on returning starts.
There wasn't a defensive breakout but as a whole it was a lot like quarterback: having severe experience deficiencies is very bad, but milder ones are not a huge deal.
This is not going to do anything but it makes me feel slightly better. Count Red Berenson amongst the folk who are totally pissed off you guys about the waved-off goal against Miami:
"It's really frustrating," said Berenson, who said he didn't see a decent television replay of the controversial no-goal until the Wolverines returned from Fort Wayne, Ind., at 3 a.m. Monday morning. "I never got a clear answer about why the goal didn't count or if there was any room being made for human error ... and that's what we're trying to find out." …
"I saw what I saw and I know what I know," Berenson said. "I think it's pretty obvious."
The lack of accountability here is frustrating. No one has stepped forward to provide any explanation, likely because there isn't one other than "we screwed it up."
Question: shouldn't hockey move to a system sort of like the way the NFL handles fumbles? These days you can fumble, be ruled down, and still lose the ball if the referee decides that the whistle did not have an impact on the play. As the refs headed to the box Sunday I knew two things. One: it was obviously a goal. Two: because the whistle went before the puck was in the net, it would not be called a goal. But the whistle had nothing to do with anything. There was no way anyone on Miami could have stopped Lynch from scoring since the puck crossed the line an instant after the whistle went. It had no impact on the play. So why create a fiasco? Why not just go to the box, figure out that it was a good goal and the quick whistle didn't impact the play, and award it?
Also, Mike Spath reports that Berenson plans on returning next year but it will likely be his last.
Co-sign. Hunwick on the Frozen Four:
Now, Hunwick cannot imagine going.
“No, I won’t be down there,” Hunwick said. “Maybe I’ll watch it on TV. But probably not.”
Ballin'. If you're interested in club seats, an MGoUser has penned a spectacularly long account of his purchase. There is a man named Ted. He is apparently spectacular, as is the club seating:
The club area was AMAZING ... it was really top tier county-club grade workmanship. Very high ceilings, wood paneling, surprisingly spacious, windows everywhere, and cool "maize" mood lights shining through the wood panels on the ceiling. There were speaker grills on the ceiling where the live sounds of the stadium are going to be piped in. The food stations were not in yet, and none of the tables, chairs, etc. are ready to be moved in. Ted said that it should all be done well before game day ... everything is on track.
If you're considering signing up, check it out.
Etc.: This place got shot down by google news when I applied because it didn't produce news or have multiple contributors, both of which the site actually does now. But Bleacher Report is good to go. Guh?
This weekend marks the opening weekend to Big Ten play for the baseball team, so now seems the appropriate time to give an update on how well the other teams are performing around the conference. First, the standings, taken directly from BigTen.org:
|Team #s||National #s|
As we can see, Michigan is doing pretty well here with a winning record against a decent schedule (that's out of 301). But we knew that about the Wolverines already. So let's take a walk through the other teams, and we'll go in order of RPI, a better indicator of how well they've done.
For those interested, my preseason outlook.
The Spartans are the national headliners as far as the Big Ten goes right now. They lead the nation in fielding at .987 have handled the medium to bad teams on their schedule as they should. That shiny 16-4 record is justified, with two great pitchers on the front end of their bullpen and some good hitting to back it up.
As of right now, they're the national pick for taking the Big Ten crown, but the local coverage (particularly the bloggers of the Big Ten) tends to be more skeptical. Michigan State has played a meh schedule for the most part and lacks any wins over a major opponent. All four of the Spartan losses came against quality opponents, including a blow out at the hands of Louisville, a close loss and blow out loss at Mississippi State, and a 10-2 game in the opening week at Clemson. The rest of the schedule has been pretty light. There aren't many creampuffs, but the competition has not been strong. For instance, a sweep of Oakland dropped MSU 4 spots in the RPI.
There is definitely this feeling that much like any other Spartan team, they're due for a collapse somewhere in the middle of the conference season. They haven't had that consistent, successful season to build on yet, and this will be that learning year for a leap next year. I still like them to finish in the top 3-4 of the conference, but I just don't see them going wire to wire in the driver's seat.
The Buckeyes are probably the best team in the conference if their coach would maximize their players' potential, or provide any sort of motivating force. I've long heard rumblings from some Ohio State fans that Bob Todd isn't a great coach, that he's just rode the talent he's found through blind luck. While I'm a bit skeptical of all that, I recently did a guest post and statistical break down of Ohio State over at Buckeye State Baseball and the way he handles his lineup does make me question just how great of a coach he is. The number of pitchers that have missed seasons due to arm injuries would worry me, too.
This season that the Buckeye players have been playing well below their projections. Add that they are playing a seriously light schedule, the players just don't seem motivated. That is reflected most by their losses to DII Rollins and NAIA Webber International. That will probably change in conference, but if Todd's goal is to win the Big Ten and host a regional, he has to have a better OOC record with better OOC opponents.
When it comes to the Big Ten, the Buckeyes will probably pick up the slack. They still have the best lineup in the Big Ten. Their starting rotation is the only one in the Big Ten comparable to Michigan, so it's hard not to see them in the top two to finish the year, and probably in the finals of the Big Ten Tournament.
The loss of Ryan LaMarre was devastating for the Maize and Blue. It probably cost them at least one win per weekend against Texas Tech, St. John's/Louisville, UNC, and Coastal Carolina and sunk any hopes of an at-large bid. Who knows how much better the season would be going with their star, especially with the emergence of Coley Crank and Chris Berset. Now that Mike Dufek is getting hot, they've got the best 3-6 hitters in the conference. On top of that, they have the deepest pitching staff.
I think we see Michigan run through conference season and really get themselves worked back into the national picture. They probably finish between Michigan State and Ohio State in the final standings, and I think they're the team to give the Buckeyes a run for their money in the tournament. The series at Ann Arbor between the two will be huge. [Ed: rest of the conference after the jump.]
For all-time updates on recruits, check out the Michigan Football Recruiting Board. The technology has been working up lately, so you may need to re-login to get all the latest info.
In The Trenches
Covering the offensive and defensive lines.
The [Florida State] Seminoles, along with Florida, Miami, LSU, Clemson, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisville, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Florida International, Boston College, Duke, Maryland, Marshall, among others, have offered.
The most interesting part of the article to me was the following:
Athletic defensive end Giorgio Newberry (Fort Pierce, Fla./Central) doesn't mind that some believe his best position in college could be on the offensive line, while others say it is in the interior of the defensive line.
He says that many schools are telling him that he can play whichever position he prefers, and I wouldn't be surprised if Michigan one of those schools. They have a need for defensive linemen and offensive tackles, so he could hit campus and figure out where he fits in the best.
He was the defensive line MVP at the weekend's Miami Nike combine, but doesn't plan to take any more visits over the summer at this time.
NM OL Matt Hegarty plans to decide before his senior season ($, info in header). The 6-5, 265lb offensive tackle prospect planned to make it to Michigan last week, but didn't manage to get to Ann Arbor.
LA OL Trai Turner doesn't mention Michigan in this Rivals fluff. He sounds like a backup option for LSU and Aabama, but doesn't mention any other schools. He's spoken positively of the Wolverines in the past, and holds a verbal offer from the Wolverines.
AZ OL Christian Westerman will be narrowing his list of 25+ suitors sometime in the next month ($, info in header). Don't forget, he has mentioned in the past that he'd like to see Michigan's Spring Game.
A bit of fluff from The Gainesville Sun about IN DT Joel Hale, who was offered last week:
While the 6-foot-4, 290-pound Hale is listed as a defensive tackle, he said that he’s also being recruited as an offensive lineman by some schools, though he prefers defense. Florida is currently recruiting him as a defensive lineman.
“I can fit into that defensive tackle position fairly well — maybe the strong side end,” he said.
At 290 pounds, he would make a huge strongside end - though maybe that would work perfectly for Michigan's 3-man front. I've moved him from OL to DT on the recruiting board. The article confirms his Michigan offer, but he says he's thinking about heading south now that he's seeing interest from some SEC schools.
OH DT Kevin Williams will visit Nebraska for their annual spring game. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, Nebraska's scrimmage takes place on the same day as Michigan's spring game, so Williams will not be able to attend (assuming he does indeed travel to Lincoln).
Williams said he started putting the Huskers on his radar in the middle of last season. People kept telling him about this defensive lineman from Nebraska. You have to watch this guy, his high school coach told him. “So I watched him,” Williams said. “I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, Ndamukong Suh.’ And I’ve kind of been trying to pattern myself after him ever since.”
He’s also interested in schools like Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Stanford. No clear favorite yet. But the defensive tackle feels a strong connection with Nebraska’s coaching staff.
Michigan and Nebraska are regarded to be Williams's top two, and he's planning an early decision, so he could make a commitment shortly after his trip to Lincoln.
Quarterbacks And Quarterback-like Substances
"It raised my interest level in them and I can see myself there," Jones said after the visit. “It really was a good vibe, especially with their quarterback situation right now. I watched film and watched their whole practice, and they run the same offense we run here at Glenville, so it would be an easy transition."
Michigan hasn't signed a player from Glenville since Pierre Woods in 2001, partially due to a strained relationship between Ted Ginn Sr. and Lloyd Carr (and on the flipside, a verrrry close relationship with Jim Tressel). With the Buckeyes recruiting the quarterback position with a "Braxton Miller or bust" mentality, Jones is unlikely to grab an offer from the Scarlet and Gray, and could ultimately choose the Wolverines.
The Baltimore Sun brings some recruiting fluff on MD Ath/QB Darius Jennings:
The 24 schools that have offered Jennings are “Oregon, Stanford, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State..."
Notable only because Michigan is in the first couple schools he lists. As far as what position schools are recruiting him for:
"Some schools see me as a slot receiver, some as an all-purpose back, some as a corner, some are giving me the opportunity to try offense and defense -- whichever I prefer,” Jennings said... "All the schools I've talked to are recruiting me as a return man, and since we somewhat run the Wildcat in high school, a lot of schools are talking about me doing that as well."
Michigan is likely looking at him as a slot guy and return man. He plans to take the recruiting process slowly, taking several visits this summer in addition to all five of his officials in the fall. He doesn't currently have a list of top schools, but Iowa signed his teammate (and the son of Gilman's coach) Jim Poggi in the 2010 recruiting class.
Last Line Of Defense
Linebackers and DBs.
PA LB Ben Kline visited over the weekend ($, info in header). It wasn't his first visit, and he plans to make it back to Ann Arbor as well.
Longtime Michigan lean NC LB Kris Frost now has North Carolina near the top with the Wolverines ($, info in header). Frost is visiting Ann Arbor sometime this spring or summer, so Michigan should be able to re-widen the gap then.
PA CB Kyshoen Jarrett, who holds a Michigan offer, comes in for a round of fluff from the York Daily Record, primarily that he takes care of his older brother Daishawn, who suffers from cerebral palsy.
ESPN profiled OH CB Doran Grant (pictured at right), who has Michigan among his 30+ offers:
His decision likely will come down to MSU or Ohio State. The ESPNU 150 Watch List recruit says the two schools are even in his book...
Grant shied away from naming a top five but listed eight schools that he likes the most at this stage.
"These are not in order, but Michigan State, Ohio State, Georgia Tech, Michigan, West Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and USC," he said.
Grant is an Under Armour All-American Game selection, but it looks like Michigan State and Ohio State are the only schools with a great chance to land him. He will make a decision in January or earlier:
"As of right now, that is when I'm going to make my decision: at the Under Armour [All-American] game or right before," he said. "That is the plan right now."
However, Grant could decide to pull the trigger earlier than that. He intends to give very close looks to Michigan State and Ohio State this spring on unofficial visits.
Grant recently spoke with Michigan's coaches, so maybe there's a chance for Michigan to make a run.
MI WR Commit Shawn Conway was "dominant" in the BadgerSports 7-on-7 in Ann Arbor last weekend ($, info in header). FL TE Jeff Heuerman, a Michigan legacy, should be receiving his Michigan offer soon. MD DT Vincent Croce was unable to make a planned visit to Ann Arbor earlier this winter, but he will make up for it by attending the Wolverines' spring game on April 17th ($, info in header). FL DE/TE Brandon Fulse is interested in visiting Michigan sometime ($, info in header). IN OL Kody Woods will visit Michigan over the summer. SC DE Gerald Dixon has a Michigan offer.
A glimpse into the future: here's a table of schools that would fall under the 925 line if we just look at the last three years of data. These schools could be subject to contemporaneous penalties if they lose a kid because he is ineligible unless they improve this year.
Columns are mostly self explanatory. APR XX = single-year APR. SS XX = squad size for a particular year. 09 APR so far is a combination of the APR scores weighted by the squad sizes, so UAB's 756 counts more than their 931 because the 756 saw 97 players and the 931 just 80. I think I might be slightly off on the weightings here because squad size may not directly correspond with points available, but these should be close.
The last column is the score the school needs to break to get out of the contemporaneous penalties zone. Obviously, the top four teams are not going to climb out in one year. BCS teams have been bolded.
|School||Conf.||APR||APR 08||SS 08||APR 07||SS 07||APR 06||SS 06||09 APR
|Florida International||Sun Belt||904||965||81||891||77||822||90||890||1030|
|San Jose State University||WAC||888||952||78||876||82||853||86||892||1024|
|Washington State University||Pac-10||918||922||84||874||88||921||90||906||983|
|University of Mississippi||SEC||910||891||85||945||76||890||85||907||978|
|University of Idaho||WAC||905||938||77||880||87||911||90||909||974|
|New Mexico State University||WAC||905||900||95||920||87||913||89||911||968|
|University at Buffalo||MAC||908||921||80||933||81||884||86||912||964|
|University of Minnesota||Big Ten||915||887||89||935||88||924||86||915||955|
|University of Colorado||Big 12||929||935||90||893||90||918||94||915||954|
|University of North Texas||Sun Belt||911||914||87||917||87||924||85||918||945|
|University of South Florida||Big East||909||938||85||937||85||879||79||919||943|
|Florida Atlantic University||Sun Belt||913||935||85||918||77||911||85||921||936|
|University of Arkansas||SEC||927||918||91||937||91||910||96||921||936|
|University of Akron||MAC||926||948||90||906||90||912||89||922||934|
|Florida State University||ACC||932||871||91||960||83||938||94||922||934|
Ole Miss is the most relevant team in the danger zone, and it looks doubtful they will be able to avoid a small penalty or two. Florida State's ugly 871 will be an anchor for a few years but if they bounce back with numbers similar to their record to date it won't be a serious problem. And Tim Brewster's gift to whoever replaces him in two years is going to be that 887.
He emerged from a local ten-year-old's He-Man rerun last Wednesday and is in the midst of a series of hilarious foibles in which he adapts to the modern world. He will master his strength, get the girl, and go to college. There will be a short-lived spinoff show at Purdue, Louisville, Tennessee, or another place that looks kindly on men wielding swords longer than themselves.
No, Michigan is not involved, but who cares? Carvajal's hair should be in the running for Name of the Year.
Good work there. You know that vandalism that took place in Michigan Stadium? Yeah…
It's not exactly earth-shattering. The turf should be fixed for the spring game, at which point it's getting replaced anyway. It did give Orson a chance to continue his campaign against the area media, at least.
Guh. 96 team NCAA tournament reaches DEFCON 2:
"I said from Day 1 that I would support the decision that came out of the (NCAA's) Board of Directors, which ostensibly is linked back to the presidents (in) the conferences," Delany said. "And if that's where it ends up, I support that."
Asked how he expects the expansion issue to play out, he said, "It's probable."
Won't someone think about the children? Is anyone going to care about any first round game at this point? What is the point of folding the NIT into the NCAA tournament? What is the NCAA's problem with a reasonable playoff field in either basketball or football? Is this the most roundly-despised inevitable idea in history?
The latest from spring. Inside Michigan Football translated into a non-browser-crippling format by anonymous heroes of the internet:
Maybe? No. But you keep waving your gums around. Jack Swarbrick had to open his mouth about conference affiliation. Hubbub ensued, and I pretty much dismissed it. But he keeps talking about it and every time he drops something it seems slightly more plausible than before. The latest tiny step towards plausibility comes from a KC Star article in which the Notre Dame AD elaborates on his previous comments:
“The traditional model, where a conference had a fixed fee media rights deal, if you added somebody you sliced the pie a little thinner,” Swarbrick said. “When you’re dealing with equity in a network ... it’s a situation we haven’t had before.”
At this rate he will elaborate ND right into the Big Ten by the 23rd century. He also said stuff about the Big East being an "extraordinary" partner and so forth and so on. I peg the chances of ND joining the Big Ten in the near future at 1.5%, up from 1%. Points to Mike Dearmond, the author, for deploying "tizzy" in his article.
The worst Final Four ever… and Butler. I guess it would have been more frustrating if Ekpe Udoh and Baylor had made it, but Michigan State, West Virginia, and Duke suck pretty hard because they are Michigan's primary rival, the school that Michigan yoinked its current coach from, and Duke.
Here's where I point out that Udoh's coach hired John Wall's AAU coach in the hopes of landing him and falls on the Calipari end of the dirtiness scale.
Etc.: UMHoops scouts Cody Zeller and Yogi Farrell. Georgia president Michael Adams is the guy who attempted to kill the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" nickname and appears to be spectacularly corrupt to boot. Naturally, the NCAA is considering him in their search to find Myles Brand's replacement.
SOMEONE HIRED TIM FLOYD. IT MAKES A GREGG DOYEL COLUMN LOOK SANE. RUN.