Events! Two preseason events are booked for yours truly:
- I'll be in New York on August 15th with the Alumni Club of NYC. 7 PM, Professor Thom's.
- I'll be a part of the UM Club of Greater Detroit's kickoff dinner panel with Angelique Chengelis of the News and Greg Dooley of MVictors. Details here.
Yes, lol. Here's Todd Graham's motivational tactic at Arizona State:
This is lol. It is even more lol when you bring last year's edition into play:
Yes: I AM HERE TO THE END. I get that Graham is Todd Graham. What I can't understand is what the hell Arizona State's athletic director was thinking when he decided to grab a guy who already had a reputation as a job-hopper after one 6-6 year in the Big East. That's like hiring Brady Hoke… if Brady Hoke had no connection with your university and was widely regarded as not the best dude ever.
Oh, right, that. The Devin Gardner cat was released from the bag but never mentioned in this space. Here is the cat:
How much will backup quarterback Devin Gardner play at receiver this fall?
"I'll think we'll have a chance to get Devin on the field some at receiver," Hoke said.
But, legitimately, how much?
"We'll see," Hoke said, smirking. "I'm being coy, but we'll see as fall camp goes through what he can handle, ball security after the catch, all kinds of things like that."
Go for broke, man.
Does a quarter of the MSU football team have an alibi? Star Wisconsin tailback Montee Ball was the victim of an "unprovoked attack" last night:
Ball suffered head injuries after being attacked by five men near Wisconsin's campus around 2:15 a.m. Wednesday. Witnesses told police the men knocked Ball to the ground and began kicking him. Ball, a 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist, was taken to a hospital and released later Wednesday morning.
You'd think shouting "I RAN FOR 1,923 YARDS LAST YEAR" would be an excellent way to get people to stop kicking you in the head. Or "my best friends are 6'6", 320 pounds." But these guys are probably hopped up on PCP.
Bullet: dodged. Remember when Zeke Pike was probably going to be in Michigan's most recent recruiting class and was supposed to be really good at football? He's taken quite a dive since:
Freshman quarterback Zeke Pike is not expected to be part of the Auburn football team that opens preseason practice on Wednesday afternoon, but knowledgeable sources say the possibility remains that he could rejoin the team, perhaps after the 2012 season. …
Pike was sent home after his arrest on a public intoxication charge in June.
That's after a series of camp performances that saw his stock dip from top-100 type to generic three star.
New era: nevermind. UCF's athletic director got a show cause for working with a street agent, the NCAA concluded thusly…
The NCAA Committee on Infractions ruled that Central Florida officials, including former athletics director Keith Tribble, had knowledge of the involvement of Ken Caldwell, a Chicago man with ties to a sports agency, and his associate Brandon Bender, to recruit players. The NCAA said both men used cash inducements in an effort to steer nearly a dozen football and men's basketball prospects to Central Florida.
…and the Golden Knights got a one-year postseason ban that they have the chutzpah to appeal. (Because they sucked at cheating.) Tentative conclusion: Penn State was an aberration and PSU fans should probably be mad and stuff.
I guess the UCF punishment had been in the works long before Penn State got the instant banhammer and the two things have little to do with each other. But… seriously, what does it take short of enabling a pedophile to get seriously hammered? Head coach knows stuff, does nothing: one year postseason ban and flimsy scholarship penalties. Athletic director pays street agent to acquire recruits: one year postseason ban and flimsy scholarship penalties. The equation seems heavily stacked in favor of rolling the dice.
Lewan was even asked if he was sad that Gholston wasn't part of the Michigan State contingent at the Big Ten's media days.
"I don't know," Lewan said bluntly. "That's kind of an odd question to ask."
Lewan repeatedly deflected specific questions about Gholston and Michigan State throughout his two hour roundtable session, but did admit to one thing.
Gholston is one heck of a player, and regardless of what happened last season, Lewan certainly respects his talent on the field.
"Will's a good player," Lewan said. "He's been very successful since he's been at Michigan State, and it's going to be exciting to play against him."
What's the point? Maybe the first question, sure, but once Lewan has revealed he is going to give you the boilerplate, move on.
Side note: Gholston hype is out of all proportion to reality, man. Marcus Rush is the better MSU DE, but Gholston and his five sacks are… uh, tall. And good when not blocked.
Air Force 1,000 foot view. Via Pre-Snap Read, a fine preview of the Falcons:
It could be worse: Air Force’s offense could have to replace nine starters, as on defense, instead of just eight starters. Then again, it’s probably fair to make one point in regards to the Falcons’ overwhelming lack of experience heading into September: Air Force is not like other programs in the country. Elsewhere, you see five returning starters and point towards a downturn; Air Force, like its fellow service academies, deals with roster overturn every season – perhaps not to this degree, but without redshirt seasons and with most teams very senior-heavy, this sort of retooling is not new to Calhoun and this staff.
The Falcons also return just two starters on defense; the "dream season" section still includes a loss in Ann Arbor.
Etc.: Merrill named Devils' top prospect by NHL.com. Burlon third after spending entirety of last year in AHL. Argh. Alabama concern-type substances. Online poker to return soon? Meinke compiles Will Campbell hype. Chengelis does the same for Kovacs. Restoring the Old Man.
Sometimes I make my girlfriend read me MGoblog articles while I'm doing something else. That way, she learns a little more about football, and I get to multitask.
Today when she was reading to me the Hello: Ross Douglas post, she came up with a pretty good question. She wanted to know: does Douglas project to nickle-corner, vs. boundary or field-corner only because of his size? Her rationale was that with gurus praising his technique and reliability, but not labeling him a star because of his lack of big play risk-taking, wouldn't it serve better to put a CB who is more of a gunslinger risk-taker in the nickel role where he has safety help at all times, and line Douglas up outside at either field or boundary corner?
Don't worry, I know I have a keeper on my hands if she was able to come up with a question like that. :)
Size is a suggestive but not determining factor. When we do these things we're peering at the roster and seeing where player X fits in and trying to figure out how the coaches see their players, but often the coaches are surprised when the kid shows up and they figure out what they actually have. If Douglas is the best guy to play on the outside, he'll play on the outside.
With bigger and more touted corners in the same class it would be an upset if he's the guy tasked with running down the Michael Floyds of the world. Insert mental image of Boubacar Cissoko trying to do that here. Sometimes this happens: Desmond Morgan isn't the ideal size for WLB, Craig Roh is probably going to be a little light for SDE, etc. In an ideal world it seems like Michigan wants six-foot-plus guys on the outside.
That's easier said than done. Michigan is swinging for the fences with Conley and Stribling, hoping they can be 6'2" cover corners the NFL has a riot about. If that doesn't work out, Lewis and Douglas are less risky prospects with lower upside.
In re: wanting more of a gambler underneath with the solid and unspectacular guys outside: I don't think defensive coaches think like that. They give you an assignment and they want you to execute it, and not executing it is always very bad. If player X comes to college doing this thing a coach doesn't want, the coach will try to stop it. In Douglas's case that may be taking advantage of his athleticism and being more aggressive. In hypothetical gambler's case that would be not giving up big plays. Whether a corner is on the inside or outside, I bet they prefer the former.
I'm watching the a rerun of Under the Lights game on ESPN and watching some highlights of the 97 defense on my computer…
…and I can't stop thinking about what would happen in a matchup between Floyd and Woodson. Woodson has the speed and size to keep up with Floyd but then again Floyd looks so much bigger and stronger than CW. I know it's a huge hypothetical but what do you think would happen there?
And what size should we be looking for at corner to stop big receivers like Floyd in the future?
Also, I notice Mattison has a tendency to slant the DL pretty often in the 97 highlights and honestly, it's working. Is this the style of slants Mattison we should expect to see this season?
Thanks for the time and Go Blue!
- AJ, UM 2014
Woodson took on a huge, elite outside receiver in 1997: David Boston. He is 6'2" and went 8th overall in the next NFL draft. Floyd is 6'3" and went 13th overall. Boston had a body-building/roid freakout at the next level, but in college he was at Floyd's level. What happened in the 1997 game between the two was one Woodson slip and fall leading to an OSU touchdown and nothing else. Michigan won with 189 yards of offense.
Woodson's gone on to prove himself an NFL hall of famer (7 times all pro). Let's not forget how ridiculously good he was and is. Woodson probably would have fared a little worse than he did in 1997 since the personnel surrounding him wouldn't have been as good, but you can pick a college receiver in the past 20 years and I'm taking Woodson and the points.
In re: cornerback size, see above. Woodson is listed at 6'1", and Michigan is hoping to put out a steady stream of 6-foot-ish cover corners. Again, easier said than done.
In re: DL slants. Yeah, one of the advantages of the under is that you can have the line go one way, drop the WDE into coverage, and send the SLB. By doing this you've flipped your defense at the snap, and this is often confusing to opposing OL. I don't think it'll be much of a problem for Bama and its veteran, All-American-laden line; others may have a bear of a time trying to figure out exactly who they're supposed to block on any given play.
The upside of having a couple of undersized guys at the five and three is that Michigan will be much better able to play games that shoot guys into the backfield unblocked. The downside is when that doesn't work and someone gets manhandled one-on-one. The linebackers are going to have to take on a lot of blocks this year.
I spotted this graffiti on the back of a stop sign near my office in Los Angeles. Could Taco Pants be considering a transfer to USC?
A "these are my readers" moment.
A little something I made for you guys
Made it for my dad, who lurks on your blog. Thought I would share. You can use it if you like. There are definitely bronies reading the blog.
I have no idea.
Starting to look more and more like Sgt. Pepper's. Less depressing now. Legend*
♪ Oho a good secondary is a-comin' down the street
Oh please let it be for real
Oho the best safety tandem since like '80-something!
I wish I wish I knew that it could be.
I've got an FS and two tiny backs from Cass Tech
I've got safety-like safeties from Ohio
I've even got a two-deep filled with juniors!
And Curtice Clay out near Toledo sent a bona fide star!
Oho a good defensive backfield is a-comin' down the street
Don't look now but "shut-down" might apply to our J.T.!
Oho a good secondary is a-comin' down the street
And M-Robinson might finally be ready!
I'm particularly excited for Blake Countess
He's everything a sophomore phenom ought to be.
When minus every Gibson from this unit,
Well they could be (yes they could be) yes you're right they surely could be…
Something special (not a Woodson, but perhaps Leon-like special)
Yes we could have… something special… at D.B.!!! ♫
Also: Do do do do do do do do the worst is over.
This is Part IV of the thing predicting the reaction and drop-off if any 2012 starter goes down. Actually I wasn't sure I wanted to complete this series. I did the offense and Toussaint got a DUI; I did the DEs and Frank Clark got charged for stealing a laptop; I did the linebackers and it leaked that Antonio Poole's injury is at least Fall Camp-missing worthy. And well, before I could nix the series and wipe it from the interwebs Terrence Talbott preemptively took the bullet for the DBs, so I guess we can have that now. But if you folks want special teams I'm going to need written confirmation that Hagerup/Gibbons/Wile have come nowhere near the M on the Diag.
These days it's best to think of defensive back as five positions. To demonstrate, here's a preview chart from a Museday in the works (click enhances largetation):
To coaches this is "duh" but the more receivers the offense puts out there, the more DBs the defense counters with. While I mean to eventually include how teams played Michigan as well, and I won't make the mistake of treating anything GERG did as canon unless it involves hair product, the preliminary chart meshes with what coaches tell me about matching personnel. The Shafer line suggests heavy nickel use is more the norm while the outlier of 2009 stands as a reminder of what happens to those who mock the need for corner depth. This is important to us because the teams we play use 3-receiver sets more often than they used to, and this chart (made from UFRs so it's not perfect) says Mattison's defense used almost exactly as many five-DB sets as the 2010 defense, a base 3-3-5! Typical shotgun personnel is RB, 1TE, and 3WR; that is the formation we will face the most vs. every team but Air Force (Triple-Option) and Iowa (the I is for ISO).
Quickly again. Photos are all by Upchurch unless otherwise noted. Ratings are given in Saturn-punting Zoltans. Think of them like stars except more heavenly. Five is an all-conference-type player (Denard to Kovacs); four is a guy you'd call "solid" (RVB to Demens); three is an average B1G player (Morgan to Hawthorne); two is a guy with a big hole in his game (freshman Kovacs); one is trouble with a capital T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for Poole.
In case of emergency: Was it only a few years ago we were really down about having an emergency redshirt freshman with questionable athleticism thrust into the starting lineup? I re-watched what portions of the Indiana 2009 game are left on the youtubes yesterday to confirm he wasn't a guy you'd think would be getting five Saturn-punting Zoltans; those Zoltans now come confirmed by opponents. To imagine where we might be without him means figuring out what we have now in Marvin Robinson. He was one of those recruits who blew up early in his high school career thanks to an early growth spurt then fell down the rankings as other kids his age caught up. Frankly after similar tweeners like Burgess/Mouton/S. Brown/I. Bell became various types of linebacker I'm excited to see one of these dudes actually stick at safety.
M-Rob probably won't hit his half-SHIRTLESS recruiting expectations, but half-way through his Michigan career the possibility is at least still intact. It's weird to still be relying on his recruiting profile this far into a high-interest career; the off-campus incident may at least alleviate questions of whether the talent was overvalued. Technical problems evident in previous springs were still present but much reduced over a strong spring, and after several years of tutelage under the best, what we probably have is something between the anti-Kovacs and Ernest Shazor. He's a perfect "bandit" safety in a 3-3-5, and that's kind of what we've been doing with Kovacs. Lacking Kovacsian instincts he'll be a downgrade, but he'll make up parts of that with superior athleticism.
In case of dire emergency: Allen Gant may be as ready to go later this year as anyone else of his class, including Kalis. He's a big guy for a freshman, comes with as many work ethic and weight room credentials as Mike Martin did, and has the bloodlines. You'd usually redshirt a guy like this since safety is a tough position to learn, but there are two other safeties in his class and Dymonte Thomas is on the way. Then again he may not bring any more right now than 5th year senior Floyd Simmons, a former walk-on who has been on special teams a lot. He has never made it higher than the two-deep even when a hater god put most of that depth chart on the Never Forget banner. That might be because he was a Spinner (backing up Stevie Brown) at the time. You should also know he has three forced fumbles on kickoffs, suggesting he shares some of T.Gordon's weird fumble-causing voodoo. He's the same size as Kovacs (we have multiple pics of them standing together) and foremost a run defender—his route to regular playing time would be in a platoon situation with M-Rob or one of the free safety types.
Since the likely backups at free safety are pretty much free safeties (Furman's calling card is speed; Jarrod Wilson is the proverbial "rangy" player), a disaster at strong safety is as likely to make one of them a starter as Gant. In such a scenario Thomas Gordon takes on more of the run stopping duties and Furman/Wilson drawn in as an entirely nominal "strong" safety.
Safety: home of the scrumptious abdomen HT M&B
In case of emergency: This is where things get more interesting. After letting us spend years praying for the next Ed Reed to appear as a 5-star Campbellian Hero with angel wings (and trying to believe the other Gordon was that) Thomas Gordon spent 2011 doing his best impersonation of Brandent Englemon. It was like coming back from trying to sleep around New York and finding the girl next door, if the girl next door was once called "Prison Abs" and had a weird (spectacular) ability to cause game-changing turnovers by waving his hands at people.
If we lose him, we hope this has all been some giant lead-up to the Superhero reveal scene. Potential heroes begin with Josh Furman. Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a … dammit I just looked up at the damn picture again. Due to a spurious arrest over the summer (he was innocent, the result of a misunderstanding, but suspended while it got sorted out) Furman missed precious practice time. At last sight he still needed to leap a few levels in a single bound to be ready for Big Ten play. The beneficiary of Furman's misfortune was early enrollee Jarrod Wilson, who is safety-shaped and safety-like and is actually a safety, which I realize is kind of a novelty around here since Jamar Adams graduated. He made some freshman mistakes along with mostly solid play and is probably the first to see playing time among his classmates, especially early.
In case of dire emergency: The position that inspired the BLANK-Hating God meme was free safety. This was in 2005 when Michigan was forced to burn the redshirt of Brandon Harrison (and in turn burn down a good part of the 2009 secondary).
Today there's at least Furman/Wilson, one or both of whom should be plausible by mid-season. The other freshman is Jeremy Clark, a big guy whose grayshirt was upgraded to full-ride as his star rose, but who probably needs some time to develop. Clark's future is at strong safety, but he's a tweener. While the talent atop the depth chart is mostly specialized, Mattison does want the safeties to eventually be interchangeable (the better to screw up quarterback reads my dear) and an injury plague at one safety spot might trigger that.
Center: from the Ernie Harwell Sports Collection, courtesy of the Freep
In case of emergency: The depth recovery program managed to get a bunch of little corners, however since Michigan makes a distinction between "Field" and "Boundary" we may as well try to see where the early returns fit. The former can supposedly sacrifice some size for coverage ability/athleticism. The latter has less area to cover, is more involved in run support since he's generally on the weak side of the formation (offenses typically align to the field since it gives them more room to string out the run defense), and ends up matched with other teams' big receivers on an island. At this last year Floyd was spectacular. A list of guys he covered who are now in the NFL:
Receiver 2011 Team NFL Team Rnd-Overall Catches Yards TDs Michael Floyd ND Cardinals 1-13 13 159 0 A.J. Jenkins Illini 49ers 1-30 4 103 0 DeVier Posey OSU Texans 5-68 3 58 1 B.J. Cunningham MSU Dolphins 6-183 4 39 0 Marvin McNutt Iowa Eagles 6-194 9 101 0 Jeremy Ebert NW Patriots 7-235 11 86 0 Jordan White WMU Jets 7-244 12 119 0 *******Total******* - - 56 665 1 *****Average****** - - 8.0 95.0 0.1
*VT's Danny Coale and MSU's Keyshawn Martin were also drafted this year, but Floyd was primarily covering Jarrett Boykin and BJ Cunningham, respectively, in those games. Boykin had 4 catches for 30 yards and 0 TD; he went undrafted and unsigned.
The lack of touchdowns from seven leaping touchdown machines earns Floyd that 4th star. DeVier Posey did demonstrate the hole in Floyd's game—he can't keep up with the elite athletes—and better passes from Braxton Miller easily could have added two TDs and 120 yards to DeVier's single day of 2011 eligibility. That guy, at least, is gone, as are the rest of the Big Ten's 2011 embarrassment of WR riches. Of those who remain on our schedule, Keenan Davis (Iowa) might be a Posey-like (read: bad) matchup, however I would trust him against Northwestern's (now-eligible) Kyle Prater.
Which brings me to the point: there isn't another Floyd on the roster. Even in the hilariously height-overestimating world of college football rosters, J.T. is the only CB who the FAKErs thought could even plausibly be listed at 6'0.
Talbott was the guy making noise to be the #1 backup to Floyd during spring ball, but since he's gone that means a ding to J.T. puts us back in the midget bucket. I think what happens is Courtney Avery reprises his role as starting corner, which this being his junior year I think we can now get past the original excitement of his one good game and the bitterness of that tackle he missed against Iowa, and remember he ended the Ohio State counter. Avery has been ahead of Talbott his whole career thus far, despite being a quarterback until fall practice of his freshman year, so while Floyd to Avery is a downgrade, I don't think the effect of losing the second Talbott will be felt unless we get to…
In case of dire emergency: This is still a work in progress. Of last year's freshmen Tamani Carter is the biggest—that's why he was listed with the safeties in the first place. He's been hanging out on safety depth charts due to hips that do not fluid swivel or whatever they call a cornerback nowadays who's not twitchy enough, and his forte is supposedly the jump-ball. This is why I've mentally moved Carter to boundary since Talbott's departure. Magnus says he likes Carter in a role where he sits out in the flat, and he missed spring practices, so you're hoping he can just be a nickel back and not have to play significant snaps on the island. Then there's Ramon Taylor. He dreamed of going to Michigan, and that came true when Hoke was putting together a last-minute class and wondered, as we all had, what Indiana was doing with a 4-star...yoink. He's another mite who is listed now at 183 (up from 167 last year), a plausible weight for a Big Ten cornerback. He's also listed at 5'10 which he's not. But he likes to hit and also doesn't have Robot Hips. As a recruit he drew a comparison to a shorter James Rogers; make of that what you will but I say it suggests he fits into Rogers's position. Taylor played early last year (that photo's from EMU), mostly at nickel, and I think he too is destined to be that more than either outer corner spot.
Blake Countess isn't huge, and you want your better guy at the field, but this distinction can be overstated. In the event of an Avery-Floyd injury combo, Michigan will probably lean on Countess to cover the other team's best receiver and whichever mini Cass Tech kid is most ready will be in a better position to start than either of the young nickelbacks. Next year the cavalry arrives.
In case of emergency: This spot is young. They're also not-big. What they lack in being young and non-big however, they make up for by being "good" and "extant." That begins with Countess, whom I gave 4 stars because that was the level he was playing at (about equal with Floyd) by the end of last year. The upside is tantalizing for us now, though it remains upside. Making Woolfolk obsolete last year was one hell of a statement, and it's because of that entrance that I'm more filled with trepidation over losing Blake than I reasonably should be.
The reason not to be in total fear is the little we've seen and heard about the other remaining corners from his class (Greg Brown has joined the banner on top of this post) is that they're good, in the way little mite corners are supposedly good everywhere else but here because seriously we have been burned on this so many times.
Every year I involuntarily pick a guy on the team nobody's talking about to get overly excited about for no reason, and this year that somebody is Delonte Hollowell. That's him in the Nebraska photo above and the reason he was playing on special teams against Nebraska when we had all sorts of other corners eating eligibility is he played his way out of a redshirt. I don't yet know what's Hoke's baseline for doing such a thing, however either the coaches are so sure they will be able to find plenty of great CBs to fill the 2015 depth chart (which their 2013 class seems to suggest they were right), or more likely, Hollowell met some standard of what he needs to do to play.
That standard can be few other things than "is 2nd on the depth chart" and there my reasoning stands. Courtney Avery would be here if something happens early I guess. I think you'll be seeing Hollowell spelling Countess either way.
In case of dire emergency: Terry Richardson is the mite-iest Cass Tech dust mite yet. He has the power to shrink to the size of a neutrino and hide out among the other atoms that make up a receiver's garments, reappearing in time to make a crucial interception. However being only a handful of planks has its drawbacks, like accidentally passing through the Earth's gravitational field, and Whitley/Howard syndrome. The true freshman comes with high recruiting bona fides, so if you see him jumping up the depth chart we may have another Countess here.
In case of emergency: For most teams the nickel corner will replace the SLB (Jake Ryan), though in Michigan's case we seem to pull the Will (Desmond Morgan) just as often. Later in the year that became more usual as Michigan went with an aggressive nickel package featuring a nickelback and Ryan/Beyer/Clark with a hand down (a 5-1-5 look with 4-2-5 personnel that we called Michigan's "Okie."). The nickel will cover the slot, usually has help over the top, and must be there to tackle in space when spread outfits isolate him against the slot or RB. Michigan played a lot of nickel in 2003 (Leon Hall) and 2006 (Brandon Harrison), and it led to some 38-0 scores against various Indiana teams. You'll remember we came out in mostly 4-2-5 personnel against Northwestern last year, but it didn't work; in the second half Jake Ryan was inserted and allowed to terrorize (at this point he dished it out equally to friend and foe). Early in the season T.Gordon and Avery split duties at nickel, and Carvin Johnson was the free safety. This year Avery is again the designated nickel guy, however expect others from the safety and CB corps to rotate in there.
The nominal "other" is Raymon Taylor (see above), who played a good bit last year at this spot. He is small but so was Harrison. You also might as well pencil in RS Freshman Tamani Carter here since his long-term future is at nickel.
In case of dire emergency: Nickel draws from the CB depth charts (and can from the safety ones as well) so if Avery and a backup are hurt there's an endless parade of other guys. You'll see moonlights of most of the backups here regardless, as it's a way to get a young cornerback playing time and tackling experience without exposing to deep responsibility. If The Dude in Section 2 Eating Fat Free Pretzels is tapped, well, so long as the pretzels are fat free and he stayed in a Holiday Inn Express and whatnot. The 2009 depth chart across the secondary really was unprecedented; if it happens again then it is 2009 and we can all go punch each other in the dong.
* Never Forget Legend (years in parentheses are the last season the guy would have helped had he not left/gone down/whatever).
TOP ROW: T-Wolf (2010), Mike Williams (2011), Boubacar Cissoko (2011), Adrian Witty (2011), Vladimir Emilien (2013), Jared Van Slyke (2011).
SECOND ROW: J.T. Turner (2013), Terrence Talbott (2013), Carvin Johnson (2013), Cullen Christian (2013), Demar Dorsey (2013), Ray Vinopal (2013).
BOTTOM ROW: Greg Brown (2014 or '15), Crying Biff the Wolverine, Donovan Warren (2010), Never Forget Guy.
The B1G Media Days Experience
Allow me take you on a journey. It begins in Ann Arbor and proceeds west via I-94, past the forested hills of Battle Creek, the lakeside vistas of Benton Harbor, and -- what's that smell? Ace, did you fart? You did, didn't you. Oh, my bad. That's just the natural smell emanating from the greater Gary, Indiana area. And we're not on I-94 anymore. And we have to pay a toll. And another one. We just paid a toll for a mile's worth of highway because in the greater Gary, Indiana area, they pump sulphur into the air and stir gold into the asphalt.
The skyscrapers and highrises of Chicago loom. They are glimmering beacons of Midwest culture thrusting out of a flat and fertile land of corn fields and cattle farms. Batman was filmed here, did you know? Those batmobile scenes took place right where Siri is telling us to go. Our blue dot freezes as we are swallowed by the vast labyrinth of tunnels and underpasses.
We are lost.
Not to fear! Our superior instincts tell us we're somewhere right below the Hyatt Regency, host to the 2012 B1G Media Days extravanganza. We emerge from the depths of the city 30 minutes later and arrive, frazzled but totally exhilarated, in the lobby. Well done, B1G, what a posh venue. So posh I have momentarily forgotten the correct number of syllables in "concierge". Too posh. Its well-to-do clientele don't seem to acknowledge that a high profile football event is taking place ... somewhere in here. Look at them with their boring black attire and pompous black suitcases and stupid blackberry devices. Don't they know that very famous people -- Denard Robinson fergodsakes! -- are currently inside the double doors of this, this ... completely empty ballroom.
"Excuse me, ma'am. We're here for the Big Ten Media Days. Says here it's in Ballroom AB."
"This is Ballroom AB."
"But there's no one in there..."
"This is the Hyatt Regency Chicago."
"You want to be at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place."
And that is the story of how Ace and I barely made it to Brady Hoke's speech last Thursday.
(more after the jump)
|Mentor, OH – 6'6", 250|
|Scout||4*, #12 DE, #93 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #16 WDE(!), #17 OH|
|ESPN||3*, #61 DE, #29 OH|
|24/7||4*, #14 WDE(!), #11 OH, #198 overall|
|Other Suitors||Ohio State, Notre Dame, MSU, Wisconsin, Stanford, Northwestern, Nebraska, Iowa|
|YMRMFSPA||Also Ryan Van Bergen|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post. Ace scouts Mentor vs Medina. Reader Kent provides scouting from the Solon game.|
|Notes||Named Army AA but I don't think he played. I certainly don't remember him.|
And scouting reel from Ace:
Tom Strobel is pretty much Chris Wormley, except an inch or two taller, twenty pounds skinnier, and initially inclined to go to Ohio State before Jim Tressel immolated himself. He's a four star to three of the four sites, his main asset is a huge frame to mold, he's a strongside defensive end—long term, anyway—from Ohio, and his recruitment came down to the opposing sides in the Game. QED. Can I use a player who has not been on campus yet as YMRMFSPA? Probably not.
He released a statement in June, when he committed, that spelled out where he was coming from($):
"Like most people in Ohio, I was raised with a biased opinion against Michigan; however, it occurred to me that there was no justification for my prejudice, besides the fact that it was Michigan. I think it says something that despite my apprehension, Michigan still stood out above the rest."
Academics played a major role in that. As you can probably tell from the Stanford and Northwestern offers listed above, Strobel is one of those guys who probably could have gotten into Michigan even if he wasn't 6'6" and partial to throwing high schoolers across the field. Brady Hoke did, too: if Mario Ojemudia signaled a sea change in in-state recruiting under Brady Hoke, Strobel did that for Ohio.
As a result, Michigan's won a very large man in need of some technique. The scouting reports note his general hugeosity but come back to a lack of pass rush technique repeatedly. Ace checked out Mentor's game against Medina and came back thinking this:
While Strobel isn't the quickest player, he did a good job of getting off the snap and shooting right into his blocker, getting his hands into an offensive lineman's chest before his counterpart could get a hand on him. This allowed him to get great leverage, both in terms of pushing his man off the line and in helping him disengage from his block. Strobel recognized plays quickly and there wasn't a play when he couldn't shed his block and get two hands on the ballcarrier if one was within reach. When Strobel got his hands on someone, that was it for the play—his upper-body strength is impressive. …
[A] point of concern for me was with Strobel's lack of variety in his off-the-snap moves—he bullrushed, again and again, without showing much else except a quick shove to the inside that wasn't quite a full swim move. Again, there are some obvious explanations for this: the bullrush kept working, so there wasn't much of a reason to switch things up, and Medina almost never attempted a pass without rolling the pocket away from Strobel and throwing quickly. There just wasn't enough of a reason—or many opportunities—for Strobel to switch things up.
ESPN has a similar take:
For a taller kid he displays the ability to play with some bend and keep solid pad level. He uses his hands and reach well to take on blockers and keep some separation. He displays good upper body strength to not only keep blockers from getting into him but to also shed. He is a solid wrap-up tackler. He is an active kid who seems to keep working to get to the ball and displays solid speed for his size. … He will use his hands to try and deliver a punch and get blockers on their heels and push them out of the way. He battles as a pass rusher, but is a kid who could seem to benefit from having more of a plan of attack. He can generate some power and fight his way up-field to get pressure, but you would like to see him expand a little more as a pass rusher.
Allen Trieu's take highlights "technique and moves" as a negative while praising his balance, size, and change of direction; Duane Long marveled that he "looks like an NFL player right now"—shades of some Wormley comments—and that "a player can be that much of a force and so disruptive while barely being average using his hands."
Touch The Banner also mentioned various issues with technique that Michigan's coaches will fix. Even so he ends up in approximately the same place as both of the above assessments:
Strobel has a great motor. There are plays when he gets completely turned around, finds the ball, and makes a beeline toward the ballcarrier. … He's also thick from head to toe, which means he should have sufficient upper and lower body strength to keep blockers off of him with his arms while also powering through blockers and ballcarriers with his legs. He uses his hands very well and keeps separation from offensive tackles. …
Overall, Strobel seems like a high-floor/medium-ceiling type of player. As a strongside end, perhaps the most important quality is to be relentlessly active, and he does have that quality. However, he will get eaten alive if he doesn't play lower.
Magnus was concerned about his lack of production, but he stepped it up significantly after that post was written. After just 37 tackles and two sacks as a junior (he sat out a chunk of that year with a trachea(!) injury—ouch) he terrorized backfields in Ohio to the tune of 16 sacks and a first-team All Ohio nod in the state's largest division.
As a result, the most detail-oriented local observers (Bucknuts) ranked him #14 before the season…
“He is a very smart player who understands leverage and schemes. He has the speed to play defensive end and the frame to carry more weight in college."
…moved him up to #12 just before his senior year…
“Colleges want players with long arms and height on the edge of the defense because when guys like that get their hands up it can make it very difficult for quarterbacks to find throwing lanes out of the pocket. Strobel is this player. He has all the tools to dominate the edge in college. Strobel is just scratching the surface of his college potential right now.”
Stud, pure and simple. Strobel has improved greatly since his junior season, when he was very good. He is bigger, stronger and plays the game so much harder, which has taken his skill set to the next level. He had three sacks, a forced fumble and blocked an extra point.
Strobel appears to be making progress physically and mentally towards an undefined end point.
You may note that the two services who bother to split DEs into weakside and strongside groups both list Strobel as a weakside end. I don't think that's where he'll end up, as the scouting reports are notably light on pass-rush raves and by the time he sees the field he'll be at least 280 pounds. His coach agrees, FWIW:
"I think he will end up being a five-technique [defensive end], at least that is what they've said. He's 6-6, 255 already so I don't know that he will need to put a lot of weight on. He has to continue to get stronger and learn the game more, but I think he's a pretty special one."
Strobel told Touch The Banner the same thing, and told Michael Rothstein that his goal is to hit 295($) by his senior year. This is not a weakside end. He's an SDE all the way, and basically nothing else. If Michigan ends up needing to shift a guy down to the three-tech (likely at some point), Strobel's height will prevent him from being that guy.
With dline prospects like this you better believe Tressel is gonna be coaching here for at least six more seasons. Great to see the early interest that Strobel have in us.
"I said ‘no,' [about going to Ann Arbor]and she obviously overrode me," Strobel said of his mother, Christine. "The whole time I was there, I was shaking my head because all you think is, ‘I'm from Ohio. I can't like this.' But I loved it."
"I had a couple tackles in the beginning, but I had missed tackles all over the field. That's unacceptable," Strobel said. "I have to make sure my technique is sound. When we're scouting against the first team, make sure to wrap up and drive through with my legs."
"He's special… a complete player," Trivisonno said. "He has the size, he has the speed. I think when you talk to the coaching staff they're going to tell you he plays the game the right way: everything is full-go. He plays hard and is not a take-off-a-play guy. He has it all and is probably the best kid that has come out of here."
"Michigan State told me it took them three plays watching Tom on tape to realize they wanted him," Trivisonno said. "Stanford said it took about eight plays, and they turned off the film because they saw enough to know he was a guy they wanted."
Why Ryan Van Bergen again? Strobel == Wormley == Van Bergen. Strobel is farther away from the field than Wormley and the hype about his play is a notch or two lower than Wormley, but the scouting reports are very similar.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Again, no reason they wouldn't have an accurate read on him but the spread here is large.
Variance: Low. Rock-solid academics and frame should make him a contributor. Ceiling does not seem as high as Wormley's.
Ceiling: Moderate-plus. Doesn't seem like a guy with the sort of athleticism to provide a Brandon Graham-like pass rush from the strongside, but the senior-year surge and the possibility that Mattison and company could turn him into a big guy with excellent technique provide some promise of massive upside.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-plus. Strobel is not going to be Brandon Graham—at least probably not. He should be a solid run defender at a minimum and if he reaches the 10-12 TFL level RVB did he'll be a solid cog in the machine.
Projection: That TTB interview also features Strobel saying "the plan is not to redshirt" him, but a quick glance at the roster suggests one might be in order. Between Roh, Brink, Heitzman, and one of the two freshmen it Michigan is deep enough at SDE to redshirt the other. Since Wormley's coming in 20 pounds heavier, it would seem sensible to redshirt Strobel.
Whether he does or not, Roh will graduate and Michigan will have a four-way fight for the starting job in 2013. Strobel probably won't win it, but he should start making it into the rotation. He could get buried if Wormley and Heitzman turn out to be good; he could start or co-start for a long time. It's hard to forsee his future.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses the BBQ, the latest on Laquon Treadwell and Leon McQuay III, Shane Morris at the Gridiron Kings, 247's composite rankings, and more.
Skew It On The Bar-B
The commits plus Derrick Green (back row, fourth from the left) via Sam Webb
The BBQ at the Big House has come and gone without a commit, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a very successful recruiting weekend for the Wolverines. The big story was VA RB Derrick Green, as Michigan's commits put on the full-court press for a commitment—one several commits expect to happen sooner or later—and while Green decided against ending his recruitment, he told Matt Pargoff that the visit "definitely helped Michigan." Green did say that, despite what others have said, he wasn't close to committing on the visit, though he did tell Tremendous that Michigan will definitely be in his top five when he names his list this week. With the news that both Clemson and Ohio State are no longer recruiting Green, the Wolverines appear to be in the driver's seat. Green is no longer certain that he'll take all of his officials before committing, which could indicate a decision in the near future.
Though AZ WR Devon Allen couldn't stay for the BBQ, instead visiting on Saturday, he told 247's Todd Worly the trip "really opened my eyes" and increased his interest in Michigan ($). I think Allen is still a longshot to end up in the class, but he's a viable alternative should the unexpected happen with Laquon Treadwell.
While Green got most of the attention, he may not have been the recruit closest to pulling the trigger this weekend; 2014 OH LB Michael Ferns told 247's Steve Wiltfong that committing "crossed my mind" during the BBQ ($). At this point, Ferns is the clear favorite to kick off Michigan's 2014 class.
Another 2014 prospect who could make an early commitment is IL CB Parrker Westphal, who told Wiltfong that Michigan is "still the standard" in his recruitment following the BBQ ($).
2014 WI DE Conor Sheehy picked up an offer at the BBQ, according to 247's Clint Brewster ($). The 6'4", 260-pound rising junior also holds an offer from Wisconsin and says he has no timeline for a commitment.
After visiting with a group of Cass Tech teammates, CB Damon Webb gave Sam Webb($) a top four of Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and LSU. Webb holds offers from all four as well as Toledo, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Thus far the 2014 quarterback discussion has mostly centered around in-state prospect Chance Stewart and Ohio product DeShone Kizer, but there's a non-Midwest name on the radar: OK QB Coleman Key, who's now driven(!) to Ann Arbor twice and was told by the coaches he's the #1 target at the position, according to Tremendous. He's now got Michigan in his top three with Oklahoma and Texas and is waiting to get an offer from one of those schools.
2014 Grand Rapids Christian OL Tommy Doles says Michigan is the school he's "looking into the most," according to Tim Sullivan ($).
Michigan has also made an impression on Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake teammates OL Mason Cole and ATH Artavis Scott, who were both at the BBQ. Cole told Sam Webb that Michigan is "definitely" one of his top schools($), while Scott said "hell yes" when asked by Tremendous if the visit helped Michigan.
Treadwell Visits: Probably Happening
IL WR Laquon Treadwell's recruitment continues to show that having four dedicated recruiting services often means you get four slightly different—or even wildly disparate—quotes in the span of a couple days. Here he's quoted by Sam Webb in the Detroit News last Thursday [emphasis mine]:
For his part, Treadwell says he will visit Oklahoma State soon. Whether he will take trips after that remains to be seen.
"August," replied Treadwell when asked when he would make his way down to the Sooner State. (After that) I'll probably take officials, but I'm not sure."
The next day, Treadwell gave this statement to ESPN's Kipp Adams:
"I am going to take some officials to LSU, Auburn, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State," Treadwell said. "I should be ready to make my decision after I see a couple of schools."
247's Keith Neibuhr got this quote on Sunday:
Along with the Wolverines, Illinois, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State make up Treadwell's top five, he said.
"I haven't decided when I'll make my decision," Treadwell said. "I'll probably just have it randomly -- when I'm ready and comfortable. I really want to see those schools over again before I make a decision. I've been to Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State. I want to get to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State."
According to the 6-feet-3, 195-pound Treadwell, Auburn, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State probably will get official visits from him. Florida is another school he might check out, and soon.
"I'm dying to get up there with (Florida commits) Vernon [Hargreaves] and Tre [Bell]," Treadwell said. "The coaches are wanting to get me up there, so they can offer me a scholarship and I can see everything."
When might that visit happen?
"Whenever I can when I'm down here," he said. "Maybe this weekend."
So, as he's maintained throughout his recruitment, Treadwell is going to take some visits. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State appear to be lined up for August, while LSU and Florida are two schools that only recently showed major interest—he's mentioned each as a potential visit destination, but he's done this before when new schools pop up on the radar without anything coming to fruition. I still think this one's just a matter of time.
Webb's article above also discusses the situation with FL DB Leon McQuay III, who moved Michigan out of his top three after the commitment of Ross Douglas:
"He didn't drop (Michigan)," clarified McQuay's father, Leon McQuay Jr. "They wanted to move on the Penn State commit and they informed us on Tuesday. It came down all of a sudden. But Leon is not ready to commit. It's a business and I understand that. I had a conversation with his head coach, and between the two of us and the conversations he had with the coaching staff at Michigan, he kind of thought that it was best that if there is no (definite) scholarship available, why would they be in his top three?"
Florida State has taken Michigan's spot alongside USC and Vanderbilt, though there's still mutual interest. Yesterday news popped up that McQuay would make his announcement today, but that isn't happening. That's probably for the best, as given the above the Wolverines would probably be on the outside looking in if McQuay made a decision now.
A few happy trails to report this week: FL CB Vernon Hargreaves III committed to Florida, MD CB Kendall Fuller pledged to join his brothers at Virginia Tech, and KY DE Jason Hatcher adds to the ridiculous recruiting haul at USC.
BREAKING: RECRUITING SERVICE ACKNOWLEDGES EXISTENCE OF OTHER RECRUITING SERVICES
Well, it's about damn time this happened, even if 247 won't mention their competitors by name:
In an effort to communicate a more accurate evaluation of prospects and recruiting classes for fans, 247Sports is pleased to launch the 247Composite rating/ranking system for college football and basketball recruiting.
The 247Composite Rating is a proprietary algorithm that compiles prospect "rankings" and "ratings" listed in the public domain by the major media recruiting services. It converts average industry ranks and ratings into a linear composite index capping at 1.0000, which indicates a consensus No. 1 prospect across all services.
247 is now basing their team rankings on the composite formula, which weighs Rivals's, Scout's, and ESPN's rankings equally with their own. MGoUser Turd Ferguson has helpfully compiled the composite overall rankings of Michigan's commits and targets of interest:
Here's where the Michigan recruits landed in 247's calculation of the four-site average:
16. Shane Morris
55. Dymonte Thomas
62. Kyle Bosch
74. Patrick Kugler
82. Chris Fox
114. Henry Poggi
116. Mike McCray
122. David Dawson
133. Logan Tuley-Tillman
137. Taco Charlton
146. Jourdan Lewis
153. Jake Butt
191. Ben Gedeon
203. DeVeon Smith
215. Gareon Conley
242. Wyatt Shallman
301. Maurice Hurst, Jr.
311. Jaron Dukes
355. Ross Douglas
541. Csont'e York
641. Khalid Hill
Also of note:
40. Leon McQuay
41. Laquon Treadwell
60. Derrick Green
I don't see Channing Stribling or Scott Sypniewski in the top 1250.
Unfortunately, this is a really good idea that appears to be marred by some seriously flawed methodology, as noted in the comments of the above board post:
Ross Douglas is ranked the Composite #355 overall prospect (#28 CB) while Darian Hicks is ranked the Composite #256 overall prospect (#24 CB). Rivals, Scout, ESPN, & 247Sports all have Ross Douglas ranked above Hicks in their indvidual rankings so it is unclear how Douglas is lower in the Composite.
The rankings are using the top n lists from each site and averaging a player's overall ranking in those lists, but if a player isn't ranked on the top list by a particular service, it's omitted entirely from the average. Thus, you get this:
They only used inputted the data from each services top prospects lists(Rivals 250, ESPN 300, Scout 300) into their system. Because Hicks is not ranked in any those lists, he maintains only his 247Sports ranking (which turns out to be his highest). Douglas is ranked by a lot of those lists and that actually ends up bringing his ranking down because it is below his 247Sports ranking.
Hopefully there will be a formula tweak in the near future; otherwise, this is great for comparing recruits who made it onto all four lists, and totally worthless otherwise.
Morris, Treadwell, Bailey At Gridiron Kings
Michigan's top non-coach recruiter wasn't present at the BBQ, as Shane Morris instead was in Florida competing in the Gridiron Kings 7-on-7 tournament, where he piloted his Midwest squad to the finals before falling to a stacked Southeast team. Morris impressed on day one, according to Josh Helmholdt ($)...
In general, the quarterbacks did not have a banner day on Saturday. Morris was the best when he was on and made some spectacular throws downfield. He also had times when he had trouble going through his progressions and getting the football where it needed to be on time. Overall, though, Morris was solid and helped his team put a lot of points on the board despite its 1-2 record in pool play. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound passer let the fastball rip on a number of occasions, but also varied his speed and was spotting his passes well most of the day.
...but failed to make the top performers lists after day two, when he threw a couple of picks to Leon McQuay III in the finals. He did, however, display a strong rapport with Laquon Treadwell, again via Helmholdt ($):
Warren (Mich.) De La Salle quarterback Shane Morris is committed to Michigan and Crete-Monee (Ill.) wide receiver Laquon Treadwell has the Wolverines as his favorite. It remains to be seen if the two will hook up in college, but they connected more than any other wide receiver-quarterback duo over the course of the two days.
When it came time to name a top performer for Sunday, Rivals's Chris Nee went with another Michigan target, FL WR Alvin Bailey:
Bailey didn't win offensive MVP honors, which went instead to his quarterback, Brice Ramsey. But Bailey nonetheless had an outstanding day in the Gridiron Kings Championship. He showed the ability to stretch the field and get a step on vertical routes against defensive backs while also displaying great work in the middle of the field and underneath. He had numerous big receptions and regularly found the end zone.
Treadwell also earned mention as the #6 overall Sunday performer.
Quick 2014 Updates
Michigan has handed out scholarship offers to the top national prospects at running back in the 2014 class, but hadn't given one to a Midwest back until this week, when they offered Marion (OH) Harding RB L.J. Scott, according to Tremendous. Scott is a big back at 6'0", 215 pounds, and also holds an early offer from Kent State.
Two blue-chip 2014 prospects say they'll be in Ann Arbor for a game this fall. Behemoth GA OT Orlando Brown Jr. had to cancel a visit set for earlier this month, but says he's "definitely going to go up" to Ann Arbor ($). TX CB Edward Paris, the #10 overall prospect in the early Top247, wants to check out the Alabama game($), though since that's a neutral-site game he would not be an official visitor.