"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
MGoBlog: where no sleeping dog is left to lie, and no dead horse is to remain unbeaten. -Blue in South Bend
In re: shotgun + Denard + site obsession with Denard in shotgun, Football Study Hall put up a post with interception rates that highlights one of the many problems Michigan had turning yards into points last year: Denard's interception rate. Amongst a sample of 100 D-I quarterbacks* he finishes 84th. The only BCS quarterbacks to do worse were Garrett Gilbert, Stephen Garcia, Jeremiah Masoli, Steven Threet, BJ Daniels, and Jacory Harris. This is not good company. Harris and Garcia are 1-2 on this list…
THE ZESTY INTERCEPTION WATCH.
1. Jacory Harris. The nation's leader in zesty interceptions won't let being benched stop him. If it gets too bad with new boss Al Golden, he'll just go throw 'em in the street if he has to, because swag like Jacory's never sleeps, and when it does it lands wherever it wants.
2. Stephen Garcia. With confidence. With verve. With GARCIA.
…and the omission of BJ Daniels, who either throws an 87 yard touchdown or three interceptions every play, must have been an oversight thanks to South Florida's ability to fade into the background.
Denard's interceptions weren't zesty. They were like—and I say this in all seriousness—watching the cutest puppy in the world fly headlong into another puppy's head, killing both. The defense was like watching the puppy blood run into the gutter. This is the most precise analogy ever made. Also the field goal kicking was like watching the deceased puppies reanimate just so they could poop all over everything. The Rich Rodriguez era: defined.
Right. So forwards into the endless and admittedly pretty pointless discussion about the best thing to do for the team the next couple years when they have a 5'11" dreadlocked bolt of lightning at quarterback. My position is blindingly clear: Shotgun Today, Shotgun Tomorrow, Shotgun Forever. For the next two years, at least.
Objections raised from the comments largely revolve around the idea that last year's turnover and redzone performances were flukes that should be expected to magically repair themselves. An example:
I think its a pretty big reach to say there's any "evidence" to suggest that the offense will revert to the mean. College Football red zone offenses are not random occurrences within a normal population. Oregon and Auburn weren't so good in the red zone because they got randomly lucky. Michigan wasn't terrible because we weren't randomly unlucky.
The offense was terrible in the red zone because:
1) Nobody could make a FG longer than 25 yards (this isn't something that will revert until someone can kick the ball)
2) Our offense simply didn't work as well in the red zone (I don't know why---playcalling, B1G defenses, nerves, but it isn't something that happened because of random chance)
There is no guaranteed regression to the mean in nonrandom circumstances, like football. Michigan was terrible in the red zone because being terrible in the red zone WAS the mean for Michigan in 2010.
You hope #1 will be solved by the addition of Matt Wile. We are all gunshy about this but highly rated kickers—which Wile was by the end of the year—usually do well. That actually turns out to be irrelevant, about which see this long footnote**. The redzone issues come down to two things: turnovers, about which see above, and giving the ball back on downs.
Michigan did the latter four times last year, all of them late in already-decided games (one against Wisconsin and OSU, two against Mississippi State). They missed one field goal. They failed to score eleven more times because they straight-up turned the ball over.
As far as #2, the whole reason people do these study things and use stats is to have something to argue against people who use the word "simply" as their conversational gambit. Oh, it's simple to you, is it? Well, fine then. I guess you and your galaxy-spanning intellect win. It is possible that NFL football is so different than college football that studies do not cross over, but it is extremely unlikely, and that FO study showed really good redzone teams one year are almost precisely average the next.
In Michigan's case they should expect more than randomness to work in their favor. The common thread of Rich Rodriguez's tenure at Michigan was young or terrible quarterbacks. Three years of Threet/Sheridan, Forcier/Denard, Denard/Forcier should see you give away turnovers like they're candy. There are no upperclassmen on that list except the walk-on; there's only a few confused snaps from a hopelessly raw Denard preventing that list from having any sophomore starters.
The spread 'n' shred in general and Rodriguez in particular haven't shown they are turnover-prone. On the contrary, being able to run 70% of the time and have a good offense should cut down on turnovers since passes are inherently more risky.
From Maize 'n' Brew:
And that is what this comes down to. Common sense. Your eyes. If your eyes are telling you that you're watching a turd of a football game, well... you are. If your reaction to the Wisconsin Michigan game was that Michigan just got completely curb stomped by Wisconsin in the first half, mounted a minor comeback when Wisconsin took a third quarter nap, and then still got blown out by 20 points at home, well... that's what you saw. Perhaps the stats tell a different story. Maybe. But while the stats say that Michigan ran up an astounding 442 yards against Wisconsin they don't relate what actually happened at the game.
I try to back up my opinions with statistical evidence because the use of tools is the thing that separates bloggers and chimpanzees from other primates like newspaper columnists and sports talk radio hosts not on WTKA.
If you want to go on your gut, I can do that too: Michigan has a 5'11"-ish quarterback who ran for 1700 yards last year and an offensive line that's now 100% recruited to zone block all day. They don't really have a promising running back. I feel, like, not good, man, about Michigan in the I-form.
Or I could say that "common sense" suggests that Wisconsin was not trying to let Michigan score in the third quarter and that the overall results should be taken in appropriate context, but then we're back to feelings, man.
What Is The Core?
I just don't see how the spread offense is responsible for turnovers except insofar as it puts an erratic Denard Robinson on the field instead of a finely-polished artillery piece, and who wants to fix Michigan's issues by replacing Denard Robinson?
/Munn Ice Arena
/people stapling each other's hands to their sides just in case they have a hand-raising seizure
Not having Denard drop back from center does not make his throwing mechanics worse. If anything it allows him to ignore a complicated facet of football—NFL coaches are constantly bitching that college quarterbacks no longer know how to execute a five-step drop—and focus on throwing it to the guy who's really open because you're not running the ball.
Meanwhile, the run game was kind of good last year despite having the worst set of tailbacks at Michigan since at least that year BJ Askew got half the carries. This is directly attributable to putting Robinson in a position to run, something an I-form doesn't.
The idea is that you have certain plays that always work on the whiteboard against the defense you hope to see — the pass play that always works against Cover 3, the run play that works against the 4-3 under without the linebackers cheating inside. Yes, it is what works on paper. But we don’t live in a perfect world: the “constraint” plays are designed to make sure you live in one that is as close as possible to the world you want, the world on the whiteboard.
Constraint plays thus work on defenders who cheat. For example, the safety might get tired of watching you break big runs up the middle, so he begins to cheat up. Now you call play-action and make him pay for his impatience. The outside linebackers cheat in for the same reason; to stop the run. Now you throw the bubble screen, run the bootleg passes to the flat, and make them pay for their impatience. Now the defensive ends begin rushing hard upfield; you trap, draw, and screen them to make them pay for getting out of position. If that defensive end played honest your tackle could block him; if he flies upfield he cannot. Constraint plays make them get back to basics. Once they get back to playing honest football, you go back to the whiteboard and beat them with your bread and butter.
The argument here is about the core of the offense: in the I-form that's Denard dropping back to pass or handing off to someone else. In the shotgun it's the zone running game. As the core of the offense you can't remove Denard from the game. You cheat and then there's a guy wide open. While Denard's legs are a terrifying constraint, Michigan has to force the opponent to cheat to use them.
I'll believe these tailbacks and this offensive line and this almost total lack of fullback and tight end can do that running power up the middle when I see it. If they can't you've just taken the most dangerous weapon in college football*** out of the game. You shouldn't do that. It's common sense.
*[I'm not sure why there were 100 quarterbacks instead of approximately 120 + a few injury replacements, so keep that in mind.]
**[Long aside on Michigan's historically awful field goal kicking goes here. Nonnair posted a diary asserting that the lack of field goal kicking was not a factor in red zone efficiency because Michigan actually scored more points than they could have if they kicked it:
The other seven fourth-down attempts I am dividing into two groups: (1) FG is the likeliest option and only a riverboat gambling coach or a team without a FG kicker would go for it, and (2) FG is only a possible option, either because it'd be very long, or because there was only 1 yard to gain for a first down so going for it is a viable option.
Bottom line? If we had tried FGs on all seven of those drives last year, even if we had Adam Vinatieri circa 2002 and he went 7-for-7, the most UM could have scored was 21 points.
As it was? UM got 27 points out of those drives. Six more points.
This is only one half of the equation, though, because Michigan did attempt a bunch of field goals and they went like this:
All that red in the Michigan zone is value earned by the offense that was lost by the kicker on obvious kicking opportunities. So on the field goals Michigan tried last year, we threw away 16 points, versus the six this study shows M getting back by being forced to do a statistically correct thing that teams don't usually do because their fans don't trust statistics.
Misopogon threw this behind a jump on Sunday.
Nonnair turns out to be right: the field goal kicking did not have much of an impact on the red zone efficiency because Michigan's misses are all clustered just outside. However, the statistically correct behavior Michigan engaged in also had no effect. Six of the seven attempts were outside the red zone and the one that was inside it, a fourth and one from the Penn State 13, was converted and led to a field goal anyway.
So we're down to just the massive turnovers. I hope this section has highlighted how goofy red zone efficiency is.]
***[Other than Charles Robinson.]
Decision day approaches for OH S Jarrod Wilson, who will make his choice public on Friday at 2:45PM. Michigan, Penn State, and Notre Dame are the finalists, and the general vibe seems to be that Michigan has at least as good a shot at landing him as the other two schools.
Should Wilson pick Michigan, KY S Jeremy Clark will keep his greyshirt offer from Michigan, but it's expected that Clark will receiver a full scholarship offer for the 2012 class if Wilson picks the Nittany Lions or Irish.
Holding the Lines
Michigan's recruiting on both side of the line of scrimmage has gone well already, and it could get better soon.
According to camp position coach Courtney Morgan, Erik Magnuson was the best offensive lineman in attendance and it's really no surprise since the four-star tackle from Carlsbad (Calif.) La Costa Canyon has proven multiple times that he's one of the best in the country.
Magnuson has great footwork, plays with a lot of intensity and passion, and simply doesn't let defensive ends around him. He was really good at the B2G Camp, the Stanford NIKE Camp and the Asante Trenchmen Academy this spring and summer.
In an absolutely loaded group of offensive linemen in the West this recruiting cycle, Magnuson continues to prove he's one of the best.
Of note, Courtney Morgan happens to be a former Wolverine, and a mentor of CA OL Jordan Simmons. Tom spoke with Magnuson's high school head coach:
"He's one of the most athletic offensive linemen in the country," he said. "That's his big selling point is that he's a real athlete. At that size, a full 6-foot-6 and 280 plus pounds he can run with just about everybody on the team. It's ridiculous how athletic he is."
He also mentions that Magnuson is one of the hardest workers out there, and athletic enough to practice at wide receiver(!!!!) for his high school team.
AZ OL Andrus Peat's top 10:
Arizona State, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Stanford, Texas, USC (Southern California).
Michigan may be a longshot, but staying on the list this late into the game definitely gives them a chance.
MO DT Ondre Pipkins took to Twitter last week to provide a recruiting update. Per MGoShoe's recap:
- Top 6 (in order): Michigan, Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma, Missouri, Florida
- Intends to take officials in the fall
- Hasn't been in contact with other Michigan recruits
- Has visited Missouri, Kansas, Ohio State
- Hopes to visit Michigan soon
- Wants to major in business administration or communication
Not a whole lot of new stuff (aside from the teams joining Michigan in his top six), but it's good to hear it directly from the prospect's mouth.
While O'Brien said all the right things about the embattled Rodriguez at the time, he believes that the program is heading in the right direction under new coach Brady Hoke.
"Their new coaching staff is unbelievable," O'Brien said... "I think they're going to make a big turnaround, especially with the recruiting classes they're pulling in."
O'Brien and Pipkins seem to be the top two prospects for Michigan's nose tackle spot in the 2012 class, though Brian would prefer two 1-techs in the 2012 crop.
More of the same, as OH DE Chris Wormley tells the Toledo Blade's Ryan Autullo that Michigan leads for his services. As far as timeline goes, he plans to decide by the end of August, but a choice could come any time.
MD DE Ryan Watson has a top four of Michigan State, Michigan, Tennessee, and Georgia Tech.
Other People's (De)Commits
NY DT Jarron Jones is back on the market, decommitting from Penn State this week. However, with Michigan's current recruiting situation at defensive tackle, the Wolverines probably aren't a serious contender for his services.
After decommitting from Stanford, CA DT Aziz Shittu publicly hoped that he gets a chance to check out Michigan before the class is full. Tom talked to him about recruiting, and Aziz may try to take in Ann Arbor the weekend of the Notre Dame game.
CA WR Jordan Payton has decommitted from USC, and Michigan is among the schools he will consider:
The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder will likely play most of his recruitment close to the vest before announcing and one of the key reasons why is the fact that he's trying to orchestrate a few other players to join him at his eventual destination.
“I'm going to tell you this, it's going to be interesting the next couple of weeks for in recruiting,” Payton said. “You're going to see a lot of changes. Just think Fab Five.” Knowing how the comment would sound, Payton was quick to clarify “like” the Fab Five and that it didn't mean they were for sure headed to Michigan.
ESPN's "The Opening" is taking place as we speak in Oregon, with a number of Michigan commits:
- Erik Magnuson
- Mario Ojemudia
- Terry Richardson
- James Ross
- Anthony Standifer
- Zach Banner
- Adam Bisnowaty
- Bri'Onte Dunn
- Durron Neal
- Danny O'Brien
- Aziz Shittu
- Jordan Simmons
in attendance (among many others). If you want to see this event with your very own eyeballs, it's airing on ESPNU tomorrow at 9 and 10PM, Friday at 8 and 9PM, Saturday at 6, 7, and 9PM, and Sunday at 6AM, noon, and 1:30PM.
- IN QB James Knapke committed to Bowling Green.
- IN QB Zach Terrell and IL QB Anthony Maddie committed to Western Michigan.
- MA QB AJ Doyle committed to NC State.
- FL QB Bennie Coney doesn't mention Michigan in a recent video interview, and in fact he told Tom he's no longer considering the Wolverines.
- IL DT Jaleel Johnson will pick between Michigan State and Iowa.
- UT DE Troy Hinds will decide soon from a list of six schools that doesn't include Michigan (it does include Utah, BYU, Stanford, Cal, Notre Dame, and Nebraska).
- Michigan is outside the final five for OH DE Ifeadi Odenigbo. Ohio State and a cast of good academic schools (Northwestern, Notre Dame, Cal, and Stanford) make his list.
- TX CB Will Hines committed to Missouri.
With Michigan's class filling up, it's not a surprise that prospects are picking other schools with greater frequency.
ESPN's Jeremy Crabtree does not think Michigan is the leader for OH QB Maty Mauk. With conventional wisdom saying that IN QB Gunner Kiel is leaning elsewhere as well, top-flight quarterback options are dwindling for the 2012 crop.
Tom talks to MI RB Juwan Lewis (and his father) about recruiting, but it doesn't sound like a Michigan offer is coming soon.
The Cincinnati Enquirer has 50 local high school football players to keep an eye on this fall, and a few players of Michigan interest appear. Commits:
- #2 Joe Bolden
- #5 AJ Williams
- #7 Caleb Stacey
Targets DE Adolphus Washington (who has Michigan in his top 5 - and Ohio State out of it), Dwayne Stanford, and many juniors also appear.
MI QB Commit Shane Morris highlights from the Madden 7-on-7 championships:
Très impressionnant, and it's a scientifically proven fact that lefties just look much better throwing the ball.
Local fluff on MI OL Steven Elmer and his relationship with former Detroit Lion Lomas Brown.
“My timeline is whenever I’m absolutely sure that’s where I’m going to go,” he said. “I would prefer not to wait until the last possible second. But I’m not rushed. I still have a lot of time. I want to make the most informed decision and involve my family. ... It’s going to be tough to make a decision to pull some of these schools out of the running,” he admitted.
With more than 18 months until Signing Day, it doesn't sound like he's expecting a decision any time soon. He's done attending summer camps for the summer.
Tom talked with IL OL Kyle Bosch, who would like to hear from Michigan.
"Michigan still leads" for OH S/RB Dymonte Thomas ($, info in header).
ESPN fluff on TX WR Jake Oliver, who has already received a Michigan offer.
"I've coached coaches' sons before and they just have a real feel for the game," Jesuit coach Brandon Hickman said. "He just has a knack for the ball and he runs great routes, precision routes. His hands are probably the best I've ever seen as a coach." Combine all that with Jake's size at 6-foot-4, 194 pounds, and college scouts had plenty of reasons to visit Jesuit during the offseason. It's clear they liked what they saw, as he already has received 10 Division-I offers from schools like Texas A&M, Michigan, Texas Tech, Arizona and Arkansas.
Once the 2012 class is wrapped up (which could happen absurdly soon), we'll have a better idea what the needs for 2013 are.
The second-worst game ever. Wolverine Historian has digitized the 1995 Purdue game, which was played in miserable conditions and ended 5-0 to the Wolverines:
It's not 2008 Northwestern because the team didn't finish 3-9 and won that game, but it's probably the second-worst game of the last twenty years to attend. I didn't; I was playing Quiz Bowl in high school.
A man after Lloyd's own heart. Don't bother asking incoming freshman OL Jack Miller any uncomfortable questions. His presser-fu is unassailable:
"On the Buckeyes, they're a great program and they will be resilient. But we need to take this opportunity as a team to move forward and keep getting better."
Rich Rodriguez: call this man for pointers.
Heavens to Betsy. Maryland hit with violations essentially identical to those of Michigan:
Maryland self-reported the violations and recommended penalties — which the NCAA has accepted — that will include the loss of 2 ½ hours of the normal 20 hours a week maximum for practices and games. The penalties will be enforced during the 2011 season. Maryland officials confirmed details Friday in response to inquiries. …
"Specifically, 30 minutes of meeting sessions and 30 minutes of practice on Mondays and one hour of weightlifting on Wednesdays were not accurately reported," Maryland said in a May 5 letter to Chris Strobel, NCAA director of enforcement for secondary violations. "During the review it was apparent that the coaches and staff at the time believed those activities were voluntary in nature; however, when reviewed in detail, the institution determined the activities to be mandatory."
Yeah, you read that right: secondary violations. I'm not sure why these are secondary. It seems Michigan got hit with a major violation because its problems were persistent, not isolated, and that that was enough to trigger all the stuff Michigan dealt with the last two offseasons. Here Maryland did almost exactly the same thing and gets almost exactly the same punishment but doesn't get the black mark.
It's mostly important for semantics, but goddamn if the NCAA had hit Michigan with the exact penalties they did but only secondary violations that would have been epic win for the internet in Internet vs. Free Press. Maybe the sensational nature of the original article caused the NCAA investigation and prevented Michigan from self-reporting the results of the audit they'd already done.
Oregon stuff. So… yeah, that thing about the NCAA having to make an inference a fourth-grader could make and this being an important thing for them to do: nevermind all that. Unusually for a dude who received a big check for acting as a "street agent," Lyles has taken the opportunity presented by an NCAA investigation to launch a media blitz.
You know about the Yahoo article. That in and of itself isn't unusual. What's unusual is what happened the next day: instead of recanting after people threatened to burn him at the stake (or offered him dollars) Lyles said more stuff. He called up a local columnist who had called him "scum" and a "slimeball" and offered an extensive interview with quotes like this:
Lyles said he’s willing to fully cooperate with NCAA investigators. Said Lyles: “What did coach Kelly say to the NCAA? What did he say to the administration? That’s going to be a key piece of information for them. I keep things. I don’t throw things away. It bodes well in this circumstance.”
His defense isn't totally unbelievable insofar as it doesn't seem like Lyles is a terrible guy. He's inserted himself as a middleman in a market created because of NCAA restrictions and got some football players to go to some colleges, for which he got paid. If not for NCAA regulations he'd just be a guy doing a job.
But those NCAA regulations do exist and Oregon paid 25k to a representative of their athletic interests who got to act outside said regulations, so they've got to suffer. How much will be fascinating. This isn't an extra benefits case so the USC benchmark doesn't apply.
Throwdown. YELLING IS WARRANTED
Tim Hardaway is fifth on the USA U19s in scoring; they're 5-1 in pool play after avenging a blowout loss to these same Lithuanians in a tourney tuneup. They just lost to Croatia today. Two more games until the quarterfinals.
This is what it sounds like when no one has any idea of anything. If this whole hockey superconference-insofar-as-you-can-call-an-eight-team-conference-that thing comes to fruition and some CCHA teams fold and everyone blames the Big Ten that's going to be annoying. Nebraska fans feel me on this after being blamed for the Big 12's dissolution when there was going to be a Pac-16.
But it might happen. North Dakota is the latest school sporting the initials ND to make noises about it:
UND is having formal discussions about pulling out of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and joining several other schools in creating a new power hockey league, multiple sources have told the Herald. … It is believed that eight teams are involved in the talks to some degree.
UNO, Miami, Notre Dame, and Western Michigan(!) are specifically mentioned in the article. Add UND, CC, DU, and Fortunate Minnesota Team Pretty Much Indistinguishable From The Ones Left Behind and that's an eight-team conference that has a lot of traditional or nouveau powers, no geographical sense at all, no home base, and some chance of keeping pace with the Big Ten.
You've also got flailing WCHA and CCHA remnants trying to figure out how to survive. The WCHA schools might be able to grab Air Force* for an eighth team; the shattered rump of the CCHA would probably grab a handful of Atlantic Hockey schools who want to offer maximum scholarships. The financial viability of the WCHA schools isn't much in question—most have just put a lot of money into infrastructure and hockey is king in Minnesota. The CCHA would be in some trouble, though.
If I was Michigan I'd be rattling my saber at anyone eyeing this new superconference, promising to play any local nonconference games against the teams who don't get raptured up into the Engelstad Conference.
Ugh—I just realized we have two more years of this before the Big Ten even exists.
*["Might" because the conventional wisdom in the hockey community is that priority #1 for AF is being in the same conference as Army and Atlantic Hockey's scholarship restrictions and general lack of behemoths makes them more competitive.]
Barnett shelved. TX TE Chris Barnett was one of Brady Hoke's biggest recruits in the brief window he had to acquire dudes before Signing Day, and he plays a position of desperate need now that Michigan's going all pro-style and stuff. Unfortunately, this does not sound like a guy who is going to be ready to play this fall:
I tore my ACL in early October, and I didn't have surgery for it until December, because like I said, me and my mom, we struggle. We don't have a whole bunch of money. So the injury thing wasn't to the point where I could go get surgery. But I've been working out really hard...I came up on the spring game, and I was 295 [lbs]. Right now, I'm 272. Coach wants me to be 280 -- no [not any] more than 280. But at the same time, I'm getting stronger. I'm crisp [while] running. My knee that I had surgery on still isn't 100%, so I go about 80/85%. But talking to Coach, I still have 2 months [before the season starts] to rehab with them
That sucks in four different ways. Hopefully he makes it back but December surgery plus generally being a freshman seems like a recipe for a redshirt.
Etc.: Bill Connolly reminisces about the 2000 Northwestern game (yes, the 54-51 one). Shorter Andy Staples: watch The Wire, college football coaches. OH DE commit Tom Strobel tells twitter he'll play strongside defensive end and hopes to get up to "at least 270"—if that's by the time he hits campus, whoah. Also, paging Matt Godin to aisle defensive tackle.
This Northwestern-ish blog is updated about every three months but has the most fantastic blog name ever: Bring Your Champions, They're Our Meat. Nik Stauskas is finally loose on the AAU circuit and is impressing with more than his three-ball.
How do you list a home with a waterfall and not include a picture of said waterfall? Boo, Edward Surovell retailers. Boo.
I was wondering if you could answer the question as to why Jeremy Clark and Michigan would pursue a grey shirt versus a preferred walk-on. In both cases the player has to pay their own way until a scholarship is available. But with a grey shirt you can't practice with the team at all. Is the thinking that they would then get a psuedo sixth year? I would think having the player on campus and practicing with the team as a walk-on that first year would be better than hoping he earns a scholarship by sitting around doing nothing for a year.
Also, I know we all share concerns about the size of this class and where the scholarships will come from - but I have a more specific question for you. How do you feel about only taking one at the DT spot? My thinking is that it is one of the hardest positions to project (cough-Will Campbell-cough), you need a healthy rotation of players, and you need size. I have no idea why the staff wouldn't want two true defensive tackles in this class given the lack of depth and talent at that position. I would even take one lower rated DT in this class if you get a star DT with another scholarship. I think that's far more important than just about every other position at this point.
On grayshirting: you do get a psuedo-sixth year since your eligibility clock does not start ticking until the subsequent year if you are a mid-year enrollee. Clark could enroll, redshirt, and have four years of eligibility starting in in 2014. Enrolling in the fall starts your clock, so the fall of 2012 would be Clark's redshirt year. Also, being a preferred walk-on costs money.
I'm not actually sure what path Clark will take since grayshirting is an overloaded term that refers to both enrolling without a scholarship and not enrolling until winter. It could be either depending on how quickly Michigan thinks they'd want to deploy Clark and if he wants to/can make the financial sacrifice to enroll without a scholarship.
On the defensive tackle spot: I don't think anyone gets Michigan's plan there. When the 2012 class hits campus the only potential nose tackles on the roster are Quinton Washington and Richard Ash; the only three-techs are Will Campbell and Terrance Talbott. Both Talbott and Ash have been dogged with rumors they have health issues and neither was exactly a slam-dunk recruit. No one has played; Michigan took no true DTs a year ago. Campbell will be a senior and Washington a junior.
Meanwhile, the defensive line sees more rotation than any other position in football—Michigan rotated four guys last year even when the options were walk-ons and journeymen like Adam Patterson.
So it seems nuts to me to turn down a consensus four star DT with the offers to match, as it seems they will if Pipkins and O'Brien both want to sign up. Even if they can move some combination of Godin/Wormley/Strobel/Rock/Wilkins inside, those guys are all tall dudes who probably can't deal with the nose.
That leaves essentially no one after Martin graduates. Hoke's made all the right moves so far but if he takes a scholarship fullback over a desperately-needed nose tackle people should question that.
First, the giant scoreboard at Yost: on the post today it indeed appears to be gigantic and I was wondering if you had a chance yet to see if this thing might interfere with sightlines across the ice or corner to corner? Don't know if anyone remembers/cares, but there was a giant block hangy-downy scoreboard there back at Yost in the early 80's and it hung down too far. If you were sitting really high up in the endzones or even in the top couple of rows on the sidelines, the scoreboard actually hung down far enough to block your view across the ice. It was worse than obstructed view at Tiger Stadium, though I guess that might be because Larry Herndon never ran very far. So, the end-zone scoreboards were actually an innovation kind of because there were then no seats obstructed by the scoreboard hanging down. Someone must have thought about that one before they hung this thing, right? I am suspicious of change, get off the lawn, I miss the Apple IIC, etc.
The board is currently closer to the ice than it will be when it is finally deployed, and while it's certainly larger than the current one I don't think it's significantly taller. And the top couple rows on the sidelines are now usually vacant because of overhangs.
Second, we've seen a lot of decision matrices about 4th down, go for it vs. field goal vs punt on different places on the field. Would it be possible for someone to do a historic survey?
For example, I bet that matrix looked a lot different for a 1972 Bo team than for a 1998 Lloyd team because of the efficiency - or not - of the passing game back then. Bo going for it on 4th and 7 with his option teams was a totally different animal than Carr going for it on 4th and 7 with Henne and Braylon. I guess what I'm asking is, can those 4th and charts be adjusted backwards for inflation? I bet they would explain a lot about the evolution of 4th-and theory and about Carr's reluctance to not punt from the opponent's 41.
A historic survey is outside the scope of a mailbag response but it's probably unnecessary anyway since the Mathlete tackled something similar in a past diary that got bumped to the front page. Two charts, one for high offensive expectation…
…and one for low offensive expectation…
…show the increasing viability of the punt as scoring decreases.
Game theory in the paleolithic era was probably better than it was over the past 20 years. It seems we've passed an inflection point where going for it is the choice, but teams are still being coached by guys who came up under old school coaches who had totally different probabilities in their head. It's like adding four cards to a deck and asking 1950s poker players to cope—eventually they'll make a mistake because the game has changed.
I think it is worth noting that the West Coast offense, which Borges favors, can be traced directly back to Sid Gillman, the same Sid Gillman whose offensive style was loathed by manball loving Woody Hayes when the two of them were rivals at Cincinnati and Miami of Ohio respectively. Also, the most famous west coast quarterback of all time is Joe Montana, and he was hardly an immobile pocket passer.
I am probably being overly optimistic, but do you think there is a possibility that Michigan's offense in 2011 will resemble Auburn's 2010 offense in that it will be a hybrid of spread elements and pro-style elements? Yes I realize that Denard's skill set is not identical to Cam Newton's, but based on some of the remarks Borges has made and Hoke's likely realization that Michigan fans aren't going to be patient for wins, I think this is the most likely direction for the offense.
I'm not sure I agree with the above emailer's police work there. Auburns' offense worked so well because they didn't even need any semblance of a pro-style attack because an inverted veer with Cam Newton was short-yardage gold. Newton was recruited to run the same offense he did run. When there was a mismatch between the offensive coordinator's vision, that of the head coach, and available personnel, both Tony Franklin and Tommy Tuberville got fired. Auburn is not a good analogue.
I'm not sure if there is in fact a good analogue for the transformation Denard is going to be asked to make. Usually when you have a talent like him at quarterback the head coach doesn't get fired because you win a bunch of games. I've searched my memory banks for an example of a successful returning spread quarterback dealing with a new, more pro-style system and can only recall the most ironic possible name: Pat White.
White, of course, was coming off of West Virginia's 48-28 demolition of Oklahoma; WVU was third nationally in rushing offense, 15th in yardage, and 9th in scoring. The next year Rodriguez was out and Bill Stewart brought in Jeff Mullen from Wake Forest; Mullen preached balance but seemed to respect the accomplishments of the previous regime:
“I don’t want it to be too much different. You’re talking about a group of men who left here who were very successful coaches, and they installed one of the best offenses in the country. I’m not going to come in here and turn it around,” he said.
WVU still ran the spread but lost some of its maniacal dependence on the run (70% in RR's last year, 63% in Stewart's first) and large chunks of its derring-do. West Virginia lost almost a yard per carry in the transition despite running less and retaining White and Noel Devine. Total yardage dropped to 59th, scoring to 73rd. You will not be thrilled to hear that turnover margin remained as ludicrously good as it was for the bulk of Rodriguez's tenure.
I think something like that dropoff may be in the cards for Michigan. Mullen was no slouch. He was able to staple together decent outfits at Wake Forest despite having a massive injury plague strike his already-depleted roster. But his expertise did not align with the skills of his offense and as a result a bunch of returning starters got a lot less explosive.
I do think Al Borges is going to put together something that tries to take advantage of the parts he has. If I had to guess I'd say Brady Hoke's public statements about manball are just statements—at San Diego State Borges had full sway to do what he wanted, and what he wanted was a lot of different things including quite a bit of zone running. But you can't expect Borges to be Rich Rodriguez when he's spent much of his career fiddling with passing routes instead of the slight adjustments Rodriguez used to keep Robinson ahead of the pack.
The falloff from the transition probably won't be as bad* but if Borges can just maintain Michigan's YPC I'll be thrilled.
*[Reasons: The offense wasn't as good as that WVU unit and shouldn't be exposed to such a withering regression to the mean, Denard is lower on his learning curve than White, there's no equivalent to losing Slaton, general coaching ept-ness will probably go up, field goals.]
Michigan technically now has 18 commitments for the 2012 class, if you include S Jeremy Clark who accepted a greyshirt role. Outside of the commitments the coaching staff also secured Illinois WR Bo Dever (6'2", 195 lbs) as a preferred walk on. You know you're doing well on the recruiting trail when you have kids accepting greyshirts and walk on roles and you're not even half way through summer.
That's just how things are going, and it looks like things could wrap up sooner than later for the coaching staff. Here's a look at recent happenings and what could be in the future. As always you can follow me on Twitter @TomVH, or email me with any tips or questions at TomVH@MGoBlog.com.
6'5", 290 lbs.
Garnett has been expressing strong interest in Michigan for some time now. He has stated that he would like to take an official visit, and recently included Michigan in his top list.
I cut my list to eleven. They're Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, Oregon, Washington, UCLA, Auburn, Nebraska, Stanford, Oklahoma, and Cal. I thought it would be easier just to focus on a top eleven rather than all the schools involved.
As for summer visits, it doesn't look like any more unofficials will be in the cards for Garnett.
I don't know if I'm going to take any visits to any other schools. I know I'll take official visits. I've already seen Oregon, USC, UCLA, Washington, Cal, and Stanford. I feel good about Michigan, taking an official out there and seeing the Big House.
Ganett is one of the 150 elite athletes that will be attending "The Opening" in Oregon this week. The event will be televised on ESPNU and will include a good number of Michigan recruits and commitments.
There's going to be a lot of skilled players there. A lot of the guys I've made friendships with are going to be there. I talk to Erik Magnuson and we've talked about schools, where we see each other fitting. It definitely helps to get together with those guys and see who else is being recruiting and who else will be on their team. It makes you feel more comfortable with potential teammates.
Garnett has been very impressed with what Michigan brings to the table and is excited to learn more.
It's just the atmosphere around Michigan, the legacy, the fan support, and the great academics. It's a top notch academic program, and all the games are packed. You don't get that feel on the west coast or anywhere in the nation. Michigan is rolling out NFL linemen and they all have great NFL careers. I think I get a bad stigma being from Washington. You don't think nasty guys come from Washington, but I'm 6-foot-5, and 290-pounds right now. I'm very athletic and I know that's the kind of guys Michigan likes.
It will be interesting to see how offensive line recruiting plays out. Depending on what happens in the near future with other prospects Michigan could be out of spots depending on when Garnett would like to visit.
6'3", 275 lbs.
The five star defensive tackle has been making noise ever since he decommitted from Stanford. Rivals ranks him as the number three best defensive tackle overall in the country, and he told me he has list down to ten.
I don't think I'll be taking any other summer visits. I'm focused on my team more than recruiting right now. I have it narrowed to ten schools though with Arizona, Stanford, Auburn, Cal, Washington, USC, Michigan, UCLA, Florida, and Nebraska.
Shittu is another prospect that has maintained he would like to take an official visit to Michigan. He too will be at The Opening this weekend, and as mentioned will be with Michigan recruits and commitments.
I haven't figured out a specific date yet, but it could possibly be for the Notre Dame night game. I'll be at The Opening this week and I talk recruiting everywhere I go, but I'm mostly going there to have a good time. It's cool to hang out with the committed players to see if your personalities match up.
Defensive tackle is another position that will likely start to fill up soon. The coaching staff have told recruits that they will likely take one interior linemen, but I have to imagine that they will take two at the end of the day. Either way, Shittu says that doesn't bother him.
It's 50% that I'll sign on signing day and 50% that I'll do it at the Army game. Nothing sooner, and if their class fills up then it fills up. I'm making my decision on one of those dates.
The scenario could get interesting with Ondre Pipkins' visit coming up, and instate DT Danny O'Brien saying that he would like to take official visits. If Pipkins decides to make an early decision and the coaches decide to take two defensive tackles it looks like it could be down to Shittu and O'Brien for the last spot. A lot of ifs, but they're in a good place.
6'2", 199 lbs.
Westlake Village, California
I recently reported that Payton had decommitted from USC this past week. He had been feeling uncomfortable with his commitment for awhile, so this wasn't anything that was surprising. He has a lot of interest in Michigan and plans on taking an official visit if things go as planned.
My coach wants me to make a decision relatively soon, but no matter what I want to take an official out to Michigan. We can take official visits during our season as long as we don't miss any Oaks time, miss any class or anything with our teams.
There was recently a CBS Sports article published that quoted Payton as saying, "I'm going to tell you this, it's going to be interesting the next couple of weeks in recruiting…You're going to see a lot of changes. Just think Fab Five." Naturally people began to tie that to Michigan. He clarified what he meant there.
When I said that the reporter, he was just like oh so you're going to Michigan? I told him that I just meant I've been talking to some other recruits and trying to get a fab five group to go to the same school, not necessarily Michigan.
Interesting comments to say the least. The article did clarify what he meant as well, I just thought I'd get him in his own words. If you look at what he said though it sounds like his decision could come soon. We'll see.
Ohio S Jarrod Wilson is announcing his decision on Friday July 8th at 2:30pm EST. He's kept everything close to the vest, but it seems like it will be worthwhile to monitor the announcement.
DT Ondre Pipkins named his top six of Michigan, Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Florida. He will be visiting Michigan at the end of July or beginning of August. That visit will be big for Michigan to get him on campus.
Offensive line recruiting is starting to get tight, as I mentioned above. I've said this before, but I don't expect Ohio OL Kyle Kalis to take too much longer with his decision. I have been in contact with him this entire time. His decision could likely have an effect on what other prospects decide to do and when they do it. We'll see what happens.
Ohio DE Chris Wormley will be making his decision relatively soon, sometime before the end of the summer.
The Michigan recruits and commitments to watch in The Opening this week are OL Adam Bisnowaty (who Michigan really likes), RB Bri'onte Dunn, OL Erik Magnuson, DT Danny O'Brien, DB Terry Richardson, LB James Ross, DT Aziz Shittu, DB Anthony Standifer, WR Dwayne Stanford, TE Ron Thompson, DE Adolphus Washington, OL Zach Banner, DE Mario Ojemudia, and OL Joshua Garnett. You can watch it on ESPNU on July 7th, 8th, and 9th, at 9pm EST.
The Big House BBQ is July 31st, I will confirm names for that as it gets closer. It looks like it was by invitation.
Off today for the Fourth. See you tomorrow. Until then, Amurrica.