I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
It'll be Thursday sometime in the afternoon. For voters, your deadline is 11 AM EST; the ballot entry form is located here.
DC Hello? Shooting Blue mentions Rivals is hinting one Jay Hopson likely to be Michigan's next defensive coordinator. Hopson, a grad assistant at Tulane when Rich Rodriguez was offensive coordinator there, has been Southern Miss' defensive coordinator for the past three years. Relevant statistics:
The notable gap between yardage and scoring defense in 2005 was, as you might expect, almost wholly a product of the 7th-best turnover margin in the country and is sadly not indicative of magic beans that turn touchdowns into 20-yard field goals. The rest of the results are pretty mediocre, though Southern Miss often finds itself staring down the barrell of a matchup with a Florida or Virginia Tech and operates at a severe talent disadvantage.
Unfortunately, C-USA's website -- which seems almost deliberately unhelpful -- does not provide conference-only statistics so we can measure Hopson's performance against his peers. Some rough measures: in '06 USM led the conference in pass efficiency and scoring defense and was about 12 yards back of conference leader Tulsa in yardage terms. This year they again finished first in scoring defense and finished a paltry yard behind conference leader Houston in yardage defense. Indications are that after a rough start Hopson did well enough.
We're fortunate that college football's foremost blogger, with apologies to Orson, happens to simultaneously be college football's foremost Southern Miss fan. "Hopson" brings up two hits on SMQB. The first, after a depressing 20-17 overtime loss against East Carolina:
It has to be tough to be a coordinator at Southern - the Jays (Johnson on offense, Hopson on defense) are each the fourth in their respective positions in the last decade, but not much changes in scheme or result. The offense is relentlessly conservative, in a near-constant bog, while the defense is stretched to the breaking point to hang on to some kind of control. At a sparsely attended game like Saturday's, USM fans have pretty much free reign on the field afterwards, and SMQ took the North end zone as a shortcut to his car. When he ran across Hopson en route to the locker room, he told the coach, "Nice job hanging tough by the defense," which was not much consolation but was true: it gave up a couple drives, including the 60-yard, game-tying march over the final four minutes of regulation, but it also scored as many touchdowns as either offense, on a length-of-field interception return by no-name Eddie Hicks that momentarily turned the tide at the end of a frustrating ECU drive, and held the Pirates to the field goal attempt in the overtime after allowing them to get first-and-goal at the three. Before that, on ECU's tying drive, it had done exactly the same thing, and barely allowed the touchdown on a fourth-and-inches QB draw from a five-wide shotgun set; that's six stops at the goalline within a couple of minutes - that's at least fighting. In regulation, USM's defense allowed 10 points (the first ECU touchdown was a kick return) and about 275 yards. It gave up no true big plays. You have to be able to win with that.
A second note from the same post:
USM was back in a 3-3-5 look for almost every snap Saturday (for NCAA Football aficionados, this is actually more of a 3-4 than what you would recognize as a 3-3-5 from the game, but roving safety Brandon Sumrall moves out on slot guys occasionally and isn't a true linebacker), which SMQ had thought was employed just to deal with Houston's spread, but apparently worked so well there that it's the standard set now, because ECU ran plenty of traditional fullback/tight end sets.
Hopson appears to be versed in the 3-3-5, which often looks like a 3-4 against "2x1" sets that have unbalanced personnel and often uses a not-quite a linebacker in the vein of Sumrall. There's a chance the forty bucks I dropped on Jeff Casteel's "How to run the odd stack" video won't go to waste. (Casteel evocatively described the duties of the "spur" and "bandit" safety-type objects that flank the front six in the 3-3-5 like so: the bandit is a weakside player who "gets his meat cooked," generally given the responsibility for chasing a strung out player down without having to deal with a nasty blocker. The spur "gets his meat raw" and is forced to take on tight ends and fullbacks and the like. So it wasn't a total waste in any case.)
That's all well and good and hopeful and such. This in the aftermath of a Boise State housing, not so much:
|Coordinator||W-L||Pts./Game||>20pts.||>30pts.||Yds./Game||>400 yds.||Avg. Rank-Total D|
|J. Thompson (1996-98)||25-10||19.6||16||6||-||-||-|
|D. Wommack (1999-2000)||17-8||15.0||11||2||274.7||1*||5|
|T. Nix (2001-04)||29-20||19.4||24||8||335.8||12||31.3|
|J. Hopson (2005-)||18-11||21.4||20||8||351.5||11||50|
How much of this is on Hopson's ability and how much of it is on things he can't control we won't know for a while. You can spin that "T. Nix" preceding him either way after one Tyrone Nix was run off the South Carolina campus, pitchfork-toting mob in tow:
- Nix left the defense in shambles, I say! This excuses Hopson's rough first year!
- Southern Miss coordinators are fail!
Hopson, if hired, would be a wildcard. He has some experience, some knowledge of/affinity for the stack, some success, and some decided meh going on in t
he doldrum days of a coach heading for pasture. Judgment is withheld.
WVU's athletic department has confirmed the departure of Dews and Tall:
Mike Parsons, deputy athletic director, said Sunday night that Bruce Tall and Tony Dews are rejoining former head coach Rich Rodriguez at the University of Michigan.
That is all.
Ain't believing this until January 16th, but Manningham's grandfather says MM is likely to return:
''We're 85 to 90 percent sure (that he'll) return to Michigan, unless something spectacular happens,'' Simpson said. ''He has every intention to return for his senior year unless something spectacular happens.''
"Spectacular"? The only thing that could be construed as spectacular that might occur would be a highly positive response from the NFL's draft advisory panel. Like this:
''If someone comes to you and says that you're a first-round draft choice, that weighs a lot,'' Simpson said. ''No one has said that to us, yet.''
Is Manningham a first-rounder? That seems a silly question to ask for a guy who caught 72 passes for 1100-some yards this year, but he's not exactly Braylon Edwards-sized and has reputedly had some maturity issues. Maybe he'll get a second-round grade and return to prove the haterzzzz wrong?
No, probably not.
Update: Right, forgot. FWIW: a previously-reliable insider says both Manningham and Arrington are likely to depart, and this info came yesterday. Maybe grandfather isn't in the loop.
Update II: Hey, GBN's latest draft board has Manningham #36. (Jake Long #3, Shawn Crable #44, Mike Hart #55, Chad Henne #73, and Jamar Adams #113 FWIW. Also: remember Jason Jones, the Eastern Michigan DT who had a disturbing field day against us? Legit NFL prospect who checks in at #96.)
Hokay. Barwis and his S&C staff are officially Michigan employees:
Rodriguez said Sunday that he has hired the Mountaineers' six-member strength and conditioning staff to work under him at Michigan.
"They have been an integral part of our success on the field and I know they will help us attain our desired success at Michigan," Rodriguez said in a statement.
The staff consists of director Mike Barwis; assistants Chris Allen, Parker Whiteman and Kentaro Tamura; and graduate assistants Dennis Murray and Jesse Miller.
This is two out of the three high-level targets secured; Jeff Casteel is apparently staying behind. Meanwhile, ESPN's article on the Michigan hirings has been updated:
A number of West Virginia assistant coaches, including assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Calvin McGee, are headed to Michigan to follow former Mountaineers' coach Rich Rodriguez, according to a source.
Six of the coaches are McGee, offensive line coach Greg Frey, quarterbacks coach Rod Smith, safeties coach Bruce Tall, defensive backs coach Tony Gibson and wide receivers coach Tony Dews. Strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis is also headed to Michigan.
Tall (safeties) and Dews (wide receivers), previously undecided, are now supposed to be coming to Michigan. (The "supposed" will remain until confirmation comes from Michigan itself.)
This might put an end to hopes that Erik Campbell would be retained, but not so fast, my friend(!). Dews' coaching career is remarkably vagabond. Last year, of course, he coached West Virginia's wide receivers, but he did special teams and linebackers the year before at UNLV, tight ends at CMU the two years before that, and defensive line at Holy Cross the year before that. In his time as a grad assistant at WVU (a remarkable stretch of four years without a cross-country move) he worked with the offensive line and secondary. Aside from quarterbacks and running backs there isn't a position on the field Dews hasn't coached. In college he was a tight end at Liberty.
It appears that Dews' primary value to Rodriguez is in recruiting, as his wide receivers expertise can't possibly be the motivating factor for his hiring. If it makes sense to shift him elsewhere he could end up as the linebackers coach, which would mollify the general desire to keep Campbell around.
Playing devil's advocate, though: how hard is it to coach wide receivers? They have to run routes correctly and make a few hot reads, but other than that it's catch-run-go. Linebackers, on the other hand, have to read all sorts of things as quickly as possible, blitz, cover, and etc etc. A moment's hesitation and you get Obi Ezeh this year: promising but mostly ineffective. Szabo's two-year stint at LB coach saw a remarkable upturn in productivity from the 2006 unit and then mediocre-at-best play in 2007, though there's plenty of evidence (recruting JUCO Austin Panter, starting redshirt freshman who-dat Ezeh) that whatever problems the unit had were not on Szabo's shoulders. It seems if you're going to have a spot on the staff for a meh technical coach who can recruit, it would be WR.
I think I still prefer Campbell, but Dews seems a fast riser -- a I-AA school to the MAC to the Mountain West to WVU in five years -- and I don't think Rodriguez will be made or broken by his choice of wide receivers coaches.
Assuming that the ESPN report is right, that leaves Rodriguez with the vast bulk of his WVU staff, everyone except Casteel, Stewart, and Kirelavich. Fred Jackson will fill Stewart's spot as a generic offensive assistant; Steve Stripling seems a logical choice for the DL spot. Defensive coordinator remains up in the air. Dean Hood from Wake Forest remains a guess based on deduction without tangible support. John Tenuta is out there, but will demand a hefty salary and is most likely ticketed for LSU.
Lots of news, so a special weekend UV.
Ohhhhh, C-YA. This is the time of year when various persons announce they're heading to the NFL, and the preliminary news is pretty good for Michigan fans. Michigan State WR Devin Thomas and Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall are gone. Also gone is Indiana WR James Hardy, though Michigan doesn't play IU next year.
And then there's an ESPN report that Mario Manningham is staying in school. This is just a TV thing -- no article yet -- and ESPN hasn't been rock solid about Michigan football in recent weeks, but that's still encouraging. Maybe he got a second-round grade back after a season of ups and downs?
Inverse C-YA. NJ S Brandon Smith committed to Michigan at the Army All-American game. Smith is a mid-four star who started off in the top 100 most places, but has steadily dropped as the year's progressed. Reports on him were mixed at the AA bowl practices.
Some inverse, some conventional C-YA. The latest on the assistants situation from WVU:
Defensively, West Virginia is pretty much set. Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel agreed on Friday to stay with Stewart and the Mountaineers, and that was a huge save for the newly named head coach. Defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich is also staying on board and Stewart hopes and thinks he can retain safeties coach Bruce Tall, although Tall isn't expected to give him a definite answer until today. Only secondary coach and recruiting coordinator Tony Gibson has been lost.
Offensively, though, the only coach remaining is first-year wide receivers coach Tony Dews. Offensive coordinator Calvin Magee planned to join former coach Rich Rodriguez at Michigan right from the start, while quarterbacks coach Rod Smith and Greg Frey made their decisions Friday to also join Rodriguez.
The Mountaineers also figure to lose much of the strength and conditioning staff, including strength coach Mike Barwis and skill development coach Chris Allen. They are also expected to inform Stewart of their final decisions today and Stewart fully expects them to be leaving.
Differences from yesterday:
- Casteel officially staying
- Dews officially staying
- Tall still waiting
- Barwis and his S&C staff now strongly expected to go to Michigan.
Would have liked to get Casteel, but other than his decision to stay that falls out just about perfectly for Michigan fans hoping to see Stripling and Campbell retained. Michigan now has a sizable hole to fill at defensive coordinator; as mentioned yesterday, Wake Forest's Dean Hood seems like a natural fit except for his expertise as a secondary coach. If Rodriguez knows he can get Hood maybe it would be best to leave Tall at WVU and start looking for a linebackers coach.