a vitally important recap of all the dumb tweets sent during the Harbaugh coaching search
|Boundary Corner||Yr.||Field Corner||Yr.||Nickelback||Yr.|
|Channing Stribling||Jr.||Jourdan Lewis||Jr.||Jabrill Peppers||Fr.*|
|Jeremy Clark||Jr.*||Brandon Watson||Fr.*||Wayne Lyons||Sr.*|
|Wayne Lyons||Sr.*||Terry Richardson||Jr.*||Dymonte Thomas||Jr.|
Peppers, and the nickelback spot in general, are addressed in the safeties section.
This is a spot of unexpected alarm. Michigan gets Jourdan Lewis back off an outstanding sophomore year and expected to pair him with either Blake Countess or Wayne Lyons. The winner of that battle was going to be a fifth year senior with a ton of experience and probably all right. Michigan was confident enough in the outcome of that battle to stick Jabrill Peppers at nickelback and never look back.
Fast forward to now and Countess is at Auburn, Lyons at safety, and the corner opposite Lewis is very much in flux.
But have I told you about Jourdan Lewis? And that the worst case here is probably just throwing Peppers out on the other side?
JOURDAN LEWIS spent a year watching balls scrape over his outstretched fingers.
The long outside completions were also a problem. Not the first one, as Lewis gave Akron's QB about a six-inch window, which he hit:
It's not perfect coverage—ideally Lewis forces the fade route closer to the sideline—but that's a one in a hundred throw from the QB.
He didn't like it much, so he went to the darkest parts of the swamp, seeking out the forbidden knowledge. He had heard Michigan State cornerbacks passed this way. The weird bronze scat they deposited in obscene patterns confirmed it. The hut loomed ahead.
In it, Lewis learned terrible and wonderful things.
When Raymon Taylor got hurt in the Notre Dame game, Lewis moved into the starting lineup. Lewis took a couple of quick pass interference calls—probably due to nerves more than anything else—and then locked down his spot. After ND I said he was "the best CB by some distance" despite the PI calls, and soon after that was not a remotely controversial opinion. Hell, after Lewis picked up a nice PBU in zone coverage Notre Dame decided they were done testing him:
…that was the end of targeting Jourdan Lewis. Literally. The only other UFR mention of him comes when he gets too deep on a zone and Golson dumps it off to a running back for profit. … Lewis committed two silly pass interference penalties on his first two tests and Notre Dame stopped targeting him three minutes into the second quarter.
With Will Fuller showing Blake Countess his own intestines the whole game that could have been interpreted as faint praise. Even if it was intended as such, by the end of the year it was clearly not.
That is Lewis against Michael Thomas, who Todd McShay has as the top available receiver in the upcoming NFL draft. That is probably ridiculous, but Thomas is a very large and leapy man who succumbed to swamp knowledge.
Here's Lewis against Leonte Caroo, the other popular pick for best wide receiver in the Big Ten:
Here's 6'5" Kyle Prater running a fade:
I've got more of these. Lots of them. Against Dres Anderson. Against anybody. Lewis would get beat from time to time because that happens to cornerbacks, but almost never deep and when opponents went at him he was alarming enough that even completions on him sent signals that maybe you should try the other guy.
By Big Ten Media Days, Lewis was on the receiving end of the best compliment a corner can receive…
On cornerback Jourdan Lewis: "Our receivers really thought he was pretty good. They said he got his hands on your really early in the route, but they were complaining to the officials all the time too because he never let go. He was messing with them the whole time. That's good if you can get away with it, but it'll probably cost you a couple flags every game also."
…bitching about interference. As a person who has done his fair share of bitching about interference, I can testify that means you have arrived as a cornerback.
This is the bit where I come up with problems, so: Lewis isn't the biggest guy. He could end up with his fair share of flags by the end of the year. There's not much else.
Are you worried that we might see a devolution similar to that of Countess? Doubtful. Countess went from a good, crafty zone corner to a guy exposed by man press coverage. Lewis excelled in that same scheme a year ago. As a bonus, the cornerbacks coach is not a former linebacker who'd never coached the position before.
Lewis just about maxed out expectations for him a year ago and doesn't have that much farther he can go without suddenly becoming Patrick Peterson. He should have another year like 2014, except now everybody knows about him and will avoid him more. Maybe he can aim for more interceptions—to go from a guy who is dangerous because he'll get a PBU to a guy who's dangerous because he will turn you over.
Either way, Lewis will be one of the best corners in the league.
[After THE JUMP: And now for something completely different.]
The guy opposite Lewis was supposed to be the winner of a knock-down, drag-out fight between Countess and WAYNE LYONS, but Countess transferred to Auburn after spring practice and Lyons was reportedly practicing at safety, a spot where Michigan has three solid guys on their depth chart. Lyons remains an option here, but that's because anyone vaguely corner-shaped is… and also some guys who aren't.
The guy who topped the depth chart released yesterday was a surprise. CHANNING STRIBLING [recruiting profile] seemed a lot like Jourdan Lewis when both were freshmen. Both guys showed up around the ball all the time; neither was able to do anything to prevent completions from being made. These were not always his fault.
Allen Robinson: okay at football [Fuller]
Some were his fault. Some were boggling. But if you are giving me a choice between a freshman corner who is inexplicably not making plays on the ball despite being in perfect position and a guy four yards away, I'm taking the gentleman who occasionally phases out of reality.
Lewis apologized to the gypsy and had a breakout sophomore season; Stribling just about evaporated, collecting just seven tackles all year and appearing in zero plays I thought worthy of clipping.
In this he's a bit like Ben Braden was last year. We gave Braden the stink-eye entering 2014 because Michigan didn't even try him during the rolling offensive line disaster of 2013; for Stribling to not get a look-see when Countess was in the process of almost singlehandedly giving up 400 yards to Gary Nova is a bad sign.
Stribling didn't quite come out of nowhere. His surge was a late one; reports had it that he really came on at the tail end of camp. Both Scout and 247 started rumbling about him recently. Steve Lorenz featured him as an "X Factor" in a prescient post, projecting he would win the second corner slot:
"(Channing) was up and down to begin camp but has started to come into a zone as it's progressed. His current size and frame is what (Michigan) is looking for on the edge. It wouldn't surprise me to see him see a ton of snaps this season."
Sam Webb also heard that Stribling was "starting to push" Clark, though he also cautioned he'd heard Stribling was coming off a rough day or two.
What the upcoming season holds for Stribling is anyone's guess. He could get benched; he could be okay. "Good" is a distant hope given the way the position battle played out. At least he is a corner who has been a corner for longer than the duration of fall camp.
JEREMY CLARK has not been. I scoffed when practice reports held that Clark was being tried at corner, because Jeremy Clark is 6'4". 6'4" guys who can play corner are all but unheard of. Richard Sherman's 6'3", I guess. Banking on your guy to pan out like that one guy who panned out as well as the limits of human physiology allows is… well, it's a lot of things. The thing it is most is "unwise."
Clark started a number of games last year at safety, where he was a bit shaky. Michigan's safeties were generally insulated from criticism since Countess was bearing the brunt of it, but when he popped up in a clip it wasn't a good one very often. He got yanked from the Rutgers game after this:
Afterwards I said he "had an alarming game, his second or third." Thomas rotated with him the rest of the way, performing better down the stretch. Since he is a safety what I mean by this is mostly "I didn't think he was responsible for long gains"; I rarely see them unless something bad is happening.
Clark isn't great in run support and does have unusual athleticism…
He’ll obviously need to be coached up, but the physical tools are there. Based on their testing (forty, bench, pro agility, etc) some of the players insist that Clark is in the running for the title of best athlete on the team.
…so corner is vaguely plausible. Since he sometimes played the ball instead of the man as a safety, might as well move him to a spot where that's usually the idea.
Marcus Ray, who knows something about the secondary, in fact advocated for this position switch before last season:
“We’re talking about a guy that is that tall, 6-3 with his shoes off, 205 lbs., who can run and hit. He’s that physical, he just couldn’t be as physical from the safety position because it just wasn’t his game as far as playing with everything happening in front of him. So that’s why I thought in the spring he would be a great addition [at corner]. He could match up well in the red zone with taller receivers and he has the footwork and the long arms to get jams in bump-and-run coverage. If he gets coached up then I don’t think the transition will be difficult at all.”
The mental part of the game was a bit of a struggle for him, according to Ray, and at corner he can just go play football.
Ray's evaluation carries more weight than anyone else's because it was made before the position switch. There's a tendency to optimism about damn near anything in the preseason—see Hoke era—and Clark's move was no exception. Evidence is thin on the ground. I did clip a couple instances in which Clark ended up in man coverage, albeit against small schools. In the opener his length allowed him to get a PBU on third and medium:
And he got isolated on a go route when Michigan sent a corner. The result was bad, but the optics were good:
That ends up being a perfect back shoulder throw at excellent coverage, and you can see the idea in that clip. If he's with you the window you've got over his hands is tiny. Change of direction will be the key.
No idea how this works out. I'm less skeptical than I was when the move started leaking out of the submarine; I'm still pretty skeptical.
The answer to "what happens if all the boundary guys are disasters" is "Michigan puts JABRILL PEPPERS there and plays Delano Hill full time." As Plan Bs go that's a damn good one. You still have to dig out a third cornerback for nickel packages, and these days football has a ton of nickel packages… but you can live with that.
Behind the starters and guys vying to start there are few gentlemen. BRANDON WATSON [recruiting profile] and FREDDY CANTEEN [recruiting profile] were in fact high school teammates. Watson played nothing but maniacal in-your-face press coverage; Canteen played nothing but wide receiver.
Watson got moved to safety last year. That boded unwell then and in retrospect bodes a bit worse now, since Michigan should have been scrambling for a second non-Lewis cornerback. He moved back to corner under Harbaugh and turned in an encouraging spring game:
Watson's high school tape was literally all him lining up an inch from the wide receiver's nose and riding them into oblivion. So it was bizarre when the previous coaching staff moved him to safety. I interpreted that as you usually do: this guy is not fast enough to play corner, so let's try him at safety. That greatly downgraded my assessment of his chance to play.
Now that he's back and corner and pressing the pants off people again he looks pretty dang good. He recovered to intercept a pretty well thrown fade; he blanketed a number of short routes; he looked like a contender for playing time. Maybe not this year, but certainly next year.
Watson dug out an impressive interception on a jump ball intended for Moe Ways and was in tight coverage a couple other times he was tested. The obvious caveat is that Hoke's wide receive recruiting tended towards the ponderous and Watson might not be able to hang with fast guys. I concede the point. He hasn't drawn mention during fall camp and another year learning is on the docket.
Freddy Canteen is mini-Peppers [Eric Upchurch]
Canteen, meanwhile, is bouncing between corner and wide receiver so fast he could be mistaken for a politician. Amirite? Politicians. Always with the hippin' and the hoppin' and the changin' their minds. I'll be here all week!
Anyway: I dropped Canteen from the wide receiver preview because there was scuttlebutt that he was moving to corner full-time after flirting with the position during spring practice and then again in the fall. That was premature:
I'm a two way player, I play Offense and Defense, too clear up the confusion..
— FreddyFootwork (@FreddCanteen_) August 30, 2015
I'm going to talk about Canteen holistically, then.
I still think he's got skills at wide receiver. WRs didn't do much of anything in the spring game, but late he had a couple of impressive catches on Alex Malzone throws that were not precisely on target. The Countess stuff from last year's spring game turned out to say more about Countess than Canteen, but I don't think a disappointing freshman year is anything to worry about with receivers. Most make zero impact in year one, and Canteen played a lot less football than, say, Grant Perry.
As far as corner goes, Canteen is a footwork maniac, which will help him. He's probably not going to be much of a tackler and it's doubtful he's going to be accurate on zone drops, but ask him to run with a guy in man and I could see it working out. Sam Webb caught up with his high school coach and got a similar take:
“Freddy is a master of route running, so he is a master of deciphering routes. He knows the passing game very well, and his knowledge at receiver enhances his instincts at corner. He runs well, he breaks on balls well, (and) he has got good footwork. … If you’re going to play a lot of man schemes, Freddy isn’t going to hurt you at all."
It's worth a try, I guess. That Canteen didn't end up anywhere on the two-deep, not that it matters much; I expect him to make an impact somewhere.
Michigan also has TERRY RICHARDSON [recruiting profile], REON DAWSON [recruiting profile], and KEITH WASHINGTON [recruiting profile]. Richardson was a touted recruit, but entering his fourth year on campus he has not broken through to play at all. Dawson was an attempt at a like-for-like replacement of Gareon Conley when Conley decommitted in favor of Ohio State; he has not played much or created any sort of chatter.
Washington is a true freshman who spent last year driving his Pratville team to the state finals in Alabama… as a quarterback. Washington looked a lot like Steve Breaston doing so, but people think he's a cornerback so we'll consider him a cornerback. Washington is almost certainly inline for a redshirt; he projects as one of the most interesting guys to hear about during 2016 spring practice.
|STRONGSIDE LB||Yr.||MIDDLE LB||Yr.||WEAKSIDE LB||Yr.|
|James Ross||Sr.||Desmond Morgan||Sr.*||Joe Bolden||Sr.|
|Allen Gant||Jr.*||Ben Gedeon||Jr.||Jared Wangler||Fr.*|
|Jabrill Peppers||Fr.*||Mike McCray||So.*||Noah Furbush||So.*|
This is music to a new defensive coordinator's ear: Michigan sports an all-senior linebacker corps. All have started for multiple years, give or take a hand injury or benching here and there. They've even got a high-quality backup. Senior leadership is out of control, man!
Approximately the fourth-best* thing to happen to the 2015 team's chances over the last year was DESMOND MORGAN breaking his hand after the first game of the season. That didn't have much impact on where 2014 went; it gives this year's team a three-year starter to slot in the Jake Ryan-shaped hole at middle linebacker.
By this point you're probably tired of me extolling Morgan's virtues, and since he didn't do much last year other than fall behind Joe Bolden just long enough for me to eat a lemon this is going to be a rehash.
Morgan is a heady, athletic enough, stick-em tackler who's been yelling at the rest of the front seven to get in the correct spot for a few years now. He is your proverbial quarterback of the defense. That role will probably be lessened this year since the entire front seven consists of upperclassmen, but expect him to thwack Lawrence Marshall and maybe Mo Hurst should the need arise. Mike Spath got a great quote about Morgan's ability in that department:
On U-M's linebackers: "We played them two years ago and the guy that everyone seemed to listen to was [Desmond] Morgan. Those guys are invaluable. Everyone respects them.
"Last year, you didn't hear a lot of talk from the middle linebacker. I don't think Jake Ryan was a talker. He just wanted to do his own thing. He was very good at it, but he wasn't that guy in the middle of a defense that was taking care of the other 10 guys on the field."
When called into duty to make a tackle, he brings the wood.
During the 2014 Minnesota game he uncorked this ridiculous thing where he flew in on a blitz, had to leap over a guy, kept his feet, held up two blockers, and helped stuff a third and short.
When he's not making eye-popping plays he's keeping things going down-to-down. The one glimpse at him we got last year was enough for me to bring out a Picture Pages about Morgan's LB instincts.
Morgan found himself in a bad stop here, taking on a free releasing lineman in a bunch of space. He popped that OL back; the RB ran into said OL, and Michigan saved some yards.
When Jake Ryan faced the exact same situation later on that drive, he tried to make a spectacular play. His attempt to teleport around that OL was an instinct that served him well as a chaos-sowing SAM linebacker; when moved to MLB that instinct meant he didn't delay the back at all. Instead of six yards, Michigan gave up 11.
That's Morgan in a nutshell. He will hit guys hard and funnel back to his help and drop into his zone. He'll make it difficult for a QB to get a completion on him; he'll make it difficult for a running back to get YAC on him; he'll make it difficult for an OL to stay attached to him. He's not going to turn in Ryan's Tarzan plays, but you don't have to do that to be a great middle linebacker.
As David Harris demonstrated, MLB is a thinking man's spot. Harris was just about flawless with his reads, and his understanding of the game extended to ways to get off blocks without even taking them—one of his trademarks was in effect juking OL by momentarily fighting to one side of a block and then cutting back once the OL took a false step. Morgan had some moments like that a year ago:
Do that consistently and you get to be David Harris too.
Morgan's coverage is good. Very rarely does he vacate big tracts of land, as both Ryan and Bolden were prone to last year. He of course saved Michigan's bacon in the 2013 UConn game (for all the good that did them in the long run) with a leaping spear of an interception. Add it up and you get a 2013 UFR in extended, trying circumstances that looks like a guy who is on the verge of stardom:
|1||CMU||4||0.5||3.5||Crunch crunch bang bang|
|2||Notre Dame||7.5||4.5||3||Coped pretty well in coverage. Responsible for both EZ deflections.|
|3||Akron||6||3.5||2.5||Negative coverage number should be factored in here.|
|4||UConn||6.5||3.5||3||Saved the game.|
|5||Minnesota||11||3||8||First real test this year passed easily.|
|6||Penn State||9.5||4||4.5||Rough start, strong finish.|
|9||Nebraska||5||4.5||0.5||Blew one TFL big. Otherwise solid.|
|10||Northwestern||6||5||1||Drawn in by some misdirection.|
|11||Iowa||1||-||1||Pulled early with injury.|
UFR is tough on linebackers, so anything above zero is good. To consistently go over it over the course of a season, generally on heavy usage is very difficult.
The main drawback here is explosiveness. Morgan doesn't rack up TFLs and sacks; he's not great at getting to the quarterback on blitzes. (Run blitzes, on the other hand, he is excellent at, especially on short yardage.) He is not the kind of athlete that is going to make the NFL salivate.
But there are few guys I'd rather have on third and one. Morgan should reprise his 2013 with some incremental improvements. That would make him an All Big Ten level guy even if the lack of fancy stats prevents that from happening in real life.
*[Your top three are Dave Brandon late night email sessions, Harbaugh, and Jake Rudock's transfer.]
[After THE JUMP: seniors are made of leadership]
It's SO CLOSE.
It's so close your phone is dinging it at you because you put it in as an all-day event and there's a three-day auto-reminder.
It's so close that you know how when you get to Thursday evening and you think "where has the week gone?" because it went by that fast, well that is all the time since today that went by.
It's so close that you don't have to say a date, just an Anglicized version of an ancient Norwegian day of the week to describe when it's happening.
It's so close…well it's so close our contest at fantasy partners Draft Kings this week is actually A MICHIGAN COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAME THAT TAKES PLACE THIS WEEK!
- $100,000 prize pool
- $10,000 first place prize
- Free for new users or $3 to enter
- Top 1,150 scores win money guaranteed
- Starts Thursday, September 3rd at 6:00 PM EST
- Salary cap drafting style to select 9 players
- Roster format: 2 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, and 2 Flex
By now if you've been paying attention at all you should know things like how to get a free copy of HTTV by starting a Draft Kings account and depositing $15 or more, or that Jake Rudock is starting for Michigan in this game whatever coyness is coming from Schembechler Hall.
By now you should be quivering. It's that close.
Via a Utah beat writer. I put it in a table. Returning starters are bolded.
|QB||Jake Rudock OR
|Alex Malzone OR
|RB||De'Veon Smith||Derrick Green OR
|Karan Higdon OR
|FB||Joe Kerridge||Sione Houma OR
|TE||Jake Butt||Khalid Hill OR
|WR||Amara Darboh OR
|WR||Jehu Chesson OR
|LT||Mason Cole||Logan Tuley-Tillman|
|LG||Ben Braden||David Dawson|
|C||Graham Glasgow||Patrick Kugler||Ben Pliska|
|RG||Kyle Kalis||Juwan Bushell-Beatty|
|RT||Eric Magnuson||Blake Bars|
|DE||Willie Henry||Taco Charlton|
|NT||Ryan Glasgow||Maurice Hurst|
|DT||Chris Wormley OR
|BUCK||Mario Ojemudia||Royce Jenkins-Stone||Lawrence Marshall|
|ILB||Desmond Morgan||Ben Gedeon||Mike McCray|
|ILB||Joe Bolden||James Ross|
|OLB||James Ross||Allen Gant|
|CB||Jourdan Lewis||Jeremy Clark|
|CB||Channing Stribling||Brandon Watson|
|FS||Jarrod Wilson||Delano Hill|
|SS||Jabrill Peppers||Dymonte Thomas OR
|K||Kenny Allen OR
|P||Kenny Allen OR
|LS||Scott Sypniewski||Andrew Robinson|
|H||Blake O'Neill OR
|KO||Kenny Allen OR
|KR||Jehu Chesson OR
|PR||Jehu Chesson OR
Uh, what? Part one. Willie Henry, strongside end, with Wormley back at DT. On the one hand, Henry has a lot of grrr arrgh pass rush upside. On the other, I thought he was better suited on the interior than Wormley for the reasons I posted today.
Uh, what? Part two. Channing Stribling is listed as the starter opposite Jourdan Lewis. This is odd for a number of reasons. One: Stribling didn't get a call last year even when Gary Nova was going off on Blake Countess. Two: we have heard nothing about him in about a year. Three: they moved Jeremy Clark to corner, and the assumption was that maybe that was not so much a good sign for Stribling.
If this is real, and all depth charts have to be looked at somewhat skeptically, I'm actually rather happy. Stribling looked about as good as Lewis as a freshman before evaporating.
Okay dot gif. The OR at QB. On the other hand, Smith had enough of the starting RB job that they didn't give him one at one of the most OR-tastic spots on the roster.
Poggi at FB. Weird. 266, reputed to be an inline blocking TE. Expected Hill and Poggi to be flipped. Good that Hill's done enough this fall to catch Harbaugh's eye.
No Drake Johnson. Still recovering from injury.
Grant Perry realness check. Good sign for his jitter and reliability that he's an option on returns.
The sweetest or. OR Drake Harris. I want to believe.
Ross an ILB backup and OLB starter. An indication that he will get snaps in the nickel.
|STRONG DE||Yr.||NOSE TACKLE||Yr.||3-TECH||Yr.||WEAK DE||Yr.|
|Chris Wormley||Jr.*||Ryan Glasgow||Jr.*||Willie Henry||Jr.*||Mario Ojemudia||Sr.|
|Taco Charlton||Jr.||Maurice Hurst||So.*||Matt Godin||Jr.*||Lawrence Marshall||Fr.*|
|Tom Strobel||Jr.*||Brady Pallante||Fr.*||Jabrill Peppers||Fr.*||Royce Jenkins-Stone||Sr.|
Whether Michigan's DJ Durkin defense is a 3-4 or a 4-3 is in the eye of the beholder. This beholder says it's a 4-3 under again with a weakside end who is a bit more likely to line up in a two point stance or drop into coverage than before. But he's still Dante Fowler, who's a dang end.
Adam did yeoman work with Royce Jenkins-Stone to get some kind of confirmation of this. First:
In your words, describe the Buck position in coach Durkin’s defense.
Hmm. Not quite specific enough.
Is it fair to say that it’s essentially a stand-up defensive end who can also do the things a linebacker might do?
Okay. Maybe we can get him to say more than one word at a time.
So you’re going to rush the passer and drop into coverage too?
“Yes, and I’m going to put my hand in the dirt, too. Just depends on the type of formation.”
/confetti drops from sky
So we'll leave these previews as they are. Michigan's running Mattison's defense from the first three years. It's not like any of the DTs are liable to be unmovable two-gap mountains anyway.
By the way, this is the most alarming bit of the defense, and it's not all that alarming.
WEAKSIDE DEFENSIVE END/"BUCK" LINEBACKER
Ojemudia is still learning how to smile [Eric Upchurch]
Michigan has no proven options and only one guy who's got much touted-recruit upside left, but they should have someone who's at least solid. Prepare thyself for the last Ojemudia Death Stare Compilation.
OJEMUDIA DEATH STARE 2015
MARIO OJEMUDIA is now a senior and is nominally ahead of the pack at WDE. This is going to be a platoon unless someone emerges; the bet here is that Ojemudia drives his coaches less crazy, especially early, and gets the most at-bats. He's seen the field on the regular for three straight years now, ascending to a starting spot once Frank Clark got booted. In that time he established that he's not the kind of tailback-leaping, OL-discarding athlete Clark was, but he's got his share of assets.
Ojemudia's a smart, disciplined player. He's excellent at splitting the difference on zone reads; by doing that he prevents them from escaping outside and remains relevant.
Multiple times last year he was the guy the zone is supposed to read and he made the tackle. That's good eats. Against Maryland he was heady enough to make a critical fourth and short stop when the Terrapins rushed to the line for one of those catch-you-off-guard QB sneaks. In general, whenever Clark would do something that caused his coaches to pull their hair out they'd throw Ojemudia out there for a bit and he would get that particular assignment correct.
Pass rush is the thing everyone is worried about. I neither can or want to dispel that entirely. Ojemudia did not have the same kind of impact Frank Clark did. (As the NFL reaction to Clark indicates, his stats badly underrated his play. Clark was robbed of a ton of sacks by poor lanes from the DTs and bad coverage by Blake Countess.) On occasion last year his lack of size and strength saw him blown down the line or pancaked in a way that Clark never suffered, because Clark was 280.
But he's not a total non-entity. He had 3.5 sacks and 7.5 TFLs; not a bad total for a guy who spent much of the season locked behind a really good player. When he did emerge into a starter he made a reasonable impact:
On Michigan's defensive linemen: "The best kid they had was the kid that took over for Frank Clark [Mario Ojemudia]. We knew next to nothing about him because he was only getting 10-15 snaps per game and wasn't doing much but he was really hard to block and was in our backfield a lot. …
"I don't know what the plan is for him this year but [Ojemudia] is the guy that I think can be really good."
Chatter has actually focused on the two other guys competing for this spot, and both of them will play. The most likely outcome here is a platoon featuring Exciting Guy and Boring Guy; I don't know who Exciting Guy is. I do know who Boring Guy is.
And that's fine. Ojemudia's kind of like a defensive end version of Jake Rudock. That's a worse deal at DE, were a "game manager" is just a guy who doesn't pressure the QB much. But it's not the worst thing.
[After THE JUMP: Ghostly promise and a large man]
We couldn't have picked a better first game to scout for this year's Future Blue Originals. Avon, led by Michigan QB commit Brandon Peters, went toe-to-toe with defending state champs Ben Davis, which featured Michigan ATH commit Chris Evans. Ben Davis came away with a 49-42 win after an eye-opening Evans touchdown and a long pick-six when Peters got drilled during the release.
Peters essentially was the Avon offense, completing 26 of 44 attempts for 381 yards (8.7 YPA) and four passing touchdowns while adding another score and a handful of decent scrambles on the ground; as you'll see, neither of his interceptions were his fault. Evans had a tough time finding room in the running game, gaining 36 yards on 17 carries, but he showed all you'd want to see from a future slot receiver on his late 50-yard touchdown.
[Hit THE JUMP for extensive video and scouting on Peters, Evans, and an Avon linebacker who caught my eye.]