Tennessee is not recruiting well just because they got 18 dudes
Backed up near their end zone after a 4th down stop, with Brandon Peters under center, the white team is looking to catch the defense with some play-action. What they catch is a pretty simple blitz, an iffy matchup in pass pro that goes badly, and a true freshman running for his life in the endzone. Let's dig into it.
THE PLAY: A pretty normal Mike blitz that gets interesting in the details.
The MLB came up trying to time his blitz, then blitzed the frontside A gap. The SAM has the tight end (Y) in man to man, as do the CBs with their respective wide receivers, and the free safety is playing the deep cover. The WLB has a run gap, and the short middle zone (which ends up being the RB). On the other side the Rover (strong safety) is responsible for the fullback.
So this is a variant on the base cover 1 ("City" in Brown's 2013 Boston College playbook).
I think "TILT" means the SAM has the edge if the TE stays in to block, and the TE if he goes out in a pattern. But there was some weirdness here, because the T and A are going to end up in the same lane.
[After the JUMP: freshman going off script, two-gapping, or a DE option?]
A Late Riser Emerges?
The young man you see above displaying a visceral hatred for rims is 2016 Grundy (VA) Mountain Mission SG/SF Harold Baruti, who at the moment looks like the most likely option to fill one of the two open basketball scholarships. Baruti came to Ann Arbor on an official visit last weekend, and it sounds like a scholarship offer is on the way as long as he clears an academic hurdle or two:
Per his HS coach, 2016 wing Harold Baruti has not yet received a scholarship offer from his OV to Michigan. But workout went "very well."
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) May 5, 2016
Re. Michigan and 2016 wing Harold Baruti: Still no scholarship offer. U-M checking if he'll be cleared academically.
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) May 9, 2016
Baruti, who moved to U.S. from the Democratic Republic of the Congo two years ago, also still needs to pass the TOEFL before U-M will offer.
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) May 9, 2016
At 6'6", ~200 pounds, Baruti could provide much-needed depth on the wing. According to Quinn, Utah and Texas Tech are also showing late interest in Baruti, who holds scholarship offers from SMU, UNC-Wilmington, Utah State, and Tennessee Tech. While he doesn't look like the most polished prospect, he's got plenty of athleticism—he looks like a guy who could eventually fill the GRIII role of cutter/finisher who shoots just well enough on corner threes to keep defenses spaced out.
Speaking of wing depth, the just-released senior highlights of 2016 signee Ibi Watson are worth watching. While the highlight video caveat applies, he looks like a strong finisher and impressive passer; if he can hold his own on defense he can see a significant role right away as a backup at the two and the three.
In other hoops recruiting news, Michigan's offer has vaulted them into the top three for in-state 2017 SF Jamal Cain, per TMI's Josh Newkirk:
“(Michigan) is for sure top-three,” Cain said. “My top three, well, the schools that have been in contact the most have been Michigan, Marquette and Xavier.”
Cain mentioned academic support as something that stood out on his visit, and later said that factor is of significant importance in his decision, which should come during or after his senior season.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Gambling in this establishment. There has never been a more slam-dunk bolded header than the one you just read:
"I was shocked like everyone else living it out in real time," Freeze said of Tunsil's draft night comments. "But I'm confident our administration is going to find the facts and then give us a good report on it."
Good luck with that.
War. War never changes. Because one side is Grenada. You may remember NJ.com columnist Steve Politi from such hits as "Kyle Flood is real, man" and "Paramus asking Harbaugh to commencement is disgusting." He is an old-school pugnacious columnist who covers Rutgers. He's trying to build skyscrapers out of mud here.
But these were just warmups before his magnum opus:
Harbaugh's N.J. satellite camps are an act of war on Rutgers
You're probably thinking that authors don't write headlines and this is a junior intern clickbaiting you into a more reasonable article. Nope!
Harbaugh, long ago, stopped caring about any conference ethics about pitching his tent just miles from a Big Ten rival. You wonder: What does a New Jersey high school have to gain from offering its territory to an out-of-state recruiter? A number of state colleges and high schools have said no, in deference to Rutgers, but Harbaugh has found his landing spots.
A lot to unpack there:
- The last time we made up fictional "conference ethics" I think we were talking about Roy Roundtree decommitting from Purdue. That's a blast from the past right there.
- Again with the insane idea that coaches should be more loyal to state borders than their players.
- Rutgers is the 13th Big Ten school to declare itself a rival of Michigan, and the most incorrect about that.
- "In deference to Rutgers" has never, ever happened. Ever.
In response, baseball and softball leveled Piscataway, ending the brief but memorable War On Rutgers.
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) May 8, 2016
Speaking of softball. The tournament beckons. Michigan is coming off a ninth straight Big Ten title, and everything is more or less as it's been for a decade:
For those just getting caught up, here's how things look: Hutchins' team is ranked No. 2 in the country and on a 17-game winning streak. It closed the regular season on Sunday with an 8-0 win, improving to 44-4 overall and 21-2 in the Big Ten, and will now head to the Big Ten tournament next weekend at Penn State.
After that, a trip to the NCAA Tournament will feature NCAA Regional and Super Regional games likely hosted in Ann Arbor, as long as U-M keeps winning.
The overriding storyline will, once again, be Michigan's hunt for a second national championship under Hutchins.
If this sounds familiar it's because it is. The Wolverines ended last season with 17 straight wins to cap a 48-6 regular-season record. They sent that above storyline into a frenzy by charging to a national championship showdown against Florida, but lost in a best-of-three matchup.
#1 Florida, which actually run-ruled Michigan in the third game of the season, again looms at the end of the road.
On Paterno stuff. Buried in a legal document created as PSU and its insurer fight over which entity will have to pay for PSU enabling Jerry Sandusky is a bombshell:
Judge Glazer referenced several victims’ depositions, which are sworn testimonies, made out of court, that are recorded and/or transcribed. According to Judge Glazer, those depositions reveal that in 1976, “a child allegedly reported to PSU’s Head Coach Joseph Paterno that he (the child) was sexually molested by Sandusky” and that in 1987 and 1988 an assistant coach witnessed Sandusky committing sexual acts or having inappropriate contact with a child. Judge Glazer reasoned that while Paterno and the unnamed assistant coaches might have known about Sandusky’s acts, available evidence did not indicate that any Penn State officers, trustees or shareholders had such knowledge. As a consequence, Judge Glazer determined that Penn State is eligible to seek certain types of coverage payments from PMA (Judge Glazer also found that Penn State is not eligible for other types of coverage payments).
This is not a thing a court decided. It is a document produced by the insurer arguing its case. Twitter lawyer @Ugarles had a brief and useful explainer of what the court claim in fact was. For those allergic to links, the upshot:
so there's allegation by the insurer that he knew but no examination of the evidence behind that claim because it didn't matter to the court
— Sigh Hersh (parody) (@Ugarles) May 6, 2016
A judge has not declared that Joe Paterno knew. Several people have told the court, under penalty of perjury, that Paterno was repeatedly told Sandusky was molesting boys going back some 40 years. This is in addition to the Mike McQueary incident, for which the best defense mounted was that Paterno was a confused old man. That defense won't fly for incidents from the 70s and 80s, leaving us choosing between two possibilities: several people are lying in depositions or Joe Paterno enabled Sandusky for decades. What's the Vegas line here? I know the latter is a serious underdog.
This isn't actually relevant to sports anymore since Penn State is not going to have their sanctions re-examined, but just wow man. People who run around spouting off about "success with honor" and the like are far more likely to be secret monsters than dudes like John Calipari. Calipari isn't trying to pass himself off as a Leader of Men. He's just a guy who coaches basketball and doesn't care much for NCAA rules. There's a nobility in not pretending to be noble, and a darkness in people who have to signal their virtue. (Anyone on Twitter's run across the latter all day every day.)
Photograph conveniently located. The NYT profiles Jamie Horowitz, the FS1 executive who's importing all the worst people in sports punditry, and this is a serendipitous virtual signaling example right here:
You may know me as a lizard person who offered Stephen A Smith a platform to excuse any and all woman-beating he may come across, but I also have children. It is a mere coincidence that I have framed this picture so that I am literally surrounded by them.
Etc.: "The incident is not the first between the clubs at a wheelchair basketball match." Mitch Leidner projected as first round pick by Todd McShay. McShay roundly mocked by Minnesota fans. Minnesota blog defends Leidner by linking video in which half the throws are wounded ducks and one is the "back-shoulder corner" throw against Jeremy Clark. Urban Meyer doesn't know some of his recruits' names.
so happy we found each other [Joe Dressler for MGoBlog]
SPIKE & CARIS & MAAR & DAWKINS & CALVES (and Colton). Since Beilein’s in the market for a last minute addition or two, Lanknows wrote us a quick look-back at the guys he’s found in a pinch before. I mean, I’m kind of nervous right now—we expected attrition but not that much attrition. But this list would be a ludicrous level of bargain bin success if he had found them all two years before they committed. Even after a disappointing season you have to wonder why nobody else thought Johnny Dawkins’s superbly athletic son was worth a scholarship except Dayton.
IT’S STILL PROBABLY HIS ACCURACY BUT WHOA DADDY. This site is about to be a safe haven for a nation swimming in politics, so I am going to be extra careful about keeping the politics where they belong. But you know who doesn’t think politics are off limits? Connor Cook’s dad.
And here’s some from the xenophobic shelf ….. pic.twitter.com/C77Tt3zjCT
— Jeff Moss (@JeffMossDSR) May 5, 2016
Connor Cook probably slipped in the draft either because his accuracy, while effective enough for college, suggests he’ll be even less effective in the NFL than Dak Prescott (link: Football Outsiders’ QBase draft projections). Or maybe because his shoulder was pretty messed up and early draft contracts are a lot to gamble on an arm that might fall out. But Daddy being a clearly awful at humanity in 80% of his 1800 tweets probably didn’t help.
If you like me can only handle so much Jeff Moss, go use that up now.
HASHTAG NINETY-FOUR. I think retroactively erasing the outcomes of games makes as much sense as vacating the Norman conquest of England because Harold never swore any such thing, and anyway the Godwins were in truth fine patrons of the Church so the Cross of St. George never should have been allowed to play.
But if they did decide to re-vacate every JoePa victory since he discovered Jerry Sandusky’s a sexual predator, according to a court document that now goes back to 1976:
The line in question states that one of Penn State's insurers has claimed "in 1976, a child allegedly reported to PSU's Head Coach Joseph Paterno that he (the child) was sexually molested by Sandusky."
Stuff’s still coming out as the legal ramifications of a long-held campus secret become relevant in criminal proceeding or, in this case, a civil case brought by Penn State’s insurer, who claims they shouldn’t be on the hook for the damages if administrators knew and didn’t tell them. Hard not to agree.
I’ve had my fill of Ha Ha Penn State. It’s more a sobering reminder that betraying morality for what you love is betraying the thing you love. Also a sobering reminder that PSU twitter—aka #409—is awful. So I guess what I’m saying is if they did knock his win total back to every game after he knew and didn’t stop it, Joe has 94 wins. #094.
MITCH LEIDNER CAN THROW SPIRALS YOU GUYS I’M SRLSY. Okay nobody posted (Ace linked it in Slack today) this but it should be a thread since the Daily Gopher is having to explain why Todd McShay put Leidner in his 2017 mock draft.
In the first round. As a quarterback. Of the NFL. The football one!
Then the Daily Gopher goes on to explain that yes Leidner can throw a spiral using a video in which Leidner comically doesn’t throw spirals and wracks up highlights by QB sneaking a half a yard. No idea why Gopher fans think moving the ball half a yard is an accomplishment. I mean it should be automatic.
And yes, chucking it where the only way it’s not intercepted by Jeremy Clark is if Clark can’t believe he’d chuck it there is on the reel. Amazingly his pinpoint slant that beat Jourdan Lewis on 4th down isn’t.
ALL ABOARD BOATY MGOBOATFACE. Rivals shared the list of satellite camps that are back on. Map? Map.
There’s also rumors of camps to be held in the Pacific Islands, at which point the MGoStaff mutinied and demanded Brian add an option to the Kickstarter to send us all to cover it—all hands on deck. And by that we mean rent a yacht to get us all there. And by that we mean we could use your help naming the boat. Leaders so far are Boaty MGoBoatFace and Happy Ever After, No Brandon’s [sic].
So what I’m getting at here is that for a $30,000 contribution to HTTV’s kickstarter you can have two books (one of them signed), the shirt, a sentence on the thank you page, and three co-workers and I will personally travel to Hawaii to deliver a copy to Harbaugh.
Speaking of Michigan’s Hawaiian presence, I just finished prepping Craig Ross’s article researching the first games of football and it is fascinating. Like I am going to bug Craig to make this his next book.
ETC. Professor Needs a Raise got his raise, is now part of the football program. A thread about Cool World apparently. Magnus (and MGoFish and Brandon the new guy at MnB) gets crystal ball. Space Coyote on defending the pull.
Your Moment of Zen:
Upchurch / Upchurch / Sherman
With the news that Kam Chatman is transferring, what was a five-man rising junior class is now just two. Four players (including Spike – who will be playing for Purdue next season) who played last season are leaving with remaining eligibility. Ordinarily, this would be cause for considerable depth concerns, but since Michigan returns all five starters from last season’s tournament team – something that very few teams can say in this day and age – experience is actually an advantage for this team moving forward. Very rarely are teams able to sustain five-man lineups year over year and it’s reasonable to expect that Walton / Rahkman / Robinson / Irvin / Donnal will execute crisp offense together on the floor. If improvement from Wagner vaults him past Donnal (who’s much more of a known quantity) on the depth chart, all the better.
Right now, that depth chart might look like this:
We’ve seen the effect that limited depth can have on players, and it might be a concern again. Walton will have a very capable backup in Xavier Simpson, and fellow freshman Ibi Watson will get a shot behind MAAR, so the guard situation is much better than it was a year ago. There are enough big men: Donnal and Wagner will run into foul trouble, so there’s a need for a third option to emerge, but all in all, there are enough bodies at the five.
The main concern comes on the wing – and that’s why the departures of Dawkins and Chatman might be felt the most. Michigan has two open scholarships for next season and desperately could use a wing with immediate eligibility (either as ideally a grad transfer or a 2016 recruit) to offset those losses: Dawkins was Michigan’s sixth man and played just under 40% of available minutes, while Chatman chipped in 12%. By the postseason, both were essentially used only to rest the starters – Robinson and Irvin each played right around 90% of available minutes in the Wolverines’ five postseason games. As it stands, those two are the only wings left with any experience.
None of the departures – Aubrey Dawkins, Ricky Doyle, and Kam Chatman – are particularly unexpected; Dawkins fell behind Duncan Robinson and saw his dad take a mid-major coaching job; Doyle and Chatman were on the periphery of the rotation and a path to significant minutes for either was hard to find. Still, all three were good enough to play last year, and their minutes will need to be replaced. Doyle’s minutes will be split easily between Donnal, Wagner, and the freshmen bigs; Robinson and Irvin probably can’t handle many more minutes, let alone taking all the minutes vacated by Dawkins and Chatman.
[What will Michigan be losing? Find out after the JUMP]
Before we get to the final first-round matchups, here's a look at how the Harbaugh In Action region shook out. I'll be honest, I didn't see this 4-5 upset coming.
#1 Dr. Harbaugh: 2,312 (80%)
#8 Pre-Snap Adjustment 581 (20%)
#4 Green Ass Smack: 1,125 (45%)
#5 Hype-Up Beating: 1,364 (55%)
#3 Harbaugh's Huddle: 1,363 (57%)
#6 Ready To Play: 1,046 (43%)
#2 Punt Demo: 2,092 (86%)
#7 What's The Call: 353 (14%)
Green Ass Smack, gone far too soon.
Anyway, the final region includes all the GIFs I couldn't find a spot for in the other regions. The running theme: Harbaugh is basically a living emoji.
[Hit THE JUMP to see the field and put in your votes.]
Our annual gimmicky Big Ten preview occurred. Then a football season occurred. And now that it’s deeply offseason it occurred to us to do a wrap on that, roundtable style.
1. DEFEND YOUR TEAM
Brian: Christian Hackenberg got drafted ahead of Connor Cook. Therefore I had a good QB.
Seth: J-E-T-S Jets! Jets! Jets!
Brian: Seriously though, flip out Hackenberg for Cardale Jones, who was neck and neck with JT Barrett for much of the year and got drafted and my offense is clearly the best running outfit available: #4 overall pick at RB, first-rounder at LT, returning IU All-American next to him, a legit dual threat superback/H-back type and a traditional TE, both drafted. Marz and Kugler were both upper-echelon college players not quite good enough for the league; Ball got hurt in fall camp and eventually left UW's team.
There's nobody else who can put that kind of rushing firepower on the field, or really anywhere close to it. The downgrade from Elliott to anybody else is enormous.
Seth: Is it?
[After the jump: Brian gets thatsracist.gif about 3-3-5s. Spartan defensive backs are lamented. And someone in the comments will say they don’t like this series]
|Cedar Grove, GA – 6'3", 232|
|Scout||3*, NR overall
|Rivals||4*, NR overall
#15 LB, #33 GA
|ESPN||4*, NR overall
#13 LB, #37 GA
|24/7||3*, #839 overall
#30 LB, #70 GA
|Other Suitors||Auburn, OU, NC State, UF, ND, Ole Miss|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace featuring his many trophies.|
|Notes||Native of Cameroon. Twitter. Heir apparent to the Ojemudia Death Stare.|
Elysee Mbem-Bosse and soon-to-come Josh Uche are the first Don Brown dudes. Brown wasted little time getting on the phone with a guy he had no shot at while at Boston College:
“When he first got the defensive coordinator job at Michigan, I was one of the people he called on the first day in the office. He was like I just watched your tape and loved every second of it.”
Both EMB and Uche came to campus shortly after his hire, hit it off with the program and each other, and committed soon after they returned home despite offers from SEC powerhouses thought to lead. In Mbem-Bosse's case that was Auburn; in Uche's it was Florida. That's reason for optimism both in EMB's specific case and for this recruiting class in general—there are three stars who could have gone to Minnesota and there are three stars who could have gone to Auburn, and this class's three stars are generally the latter.
When not demonstrating Don Brown's ability to recruit, Mbem-Bosse is Middle Linebacker Classic. He's really only got one way onto the the field, and that's by wrecking lead blockers and unleashing furious anger on ball carriers. At 6'3" he's tall for a linebacker and will probably top out at 250 or even bigger. As per usual with guys that big who aren't highly touted, that size comes with some compromises.
Let's start with the good: dude is a mean-ass dude.
- ESPN: "powerful inside linebacker with great measurables for the position. Uses his hands to shock blockers and disengage to wrap up ball carrier. …. Has short area power to deliver a heavy hit.… thumper ready to make the jump physically … lot of tools desired in an upper-tier middle linebacker."
Woody Womack, Rivals: “really passes the eye test … athletic enough that he could move around and play a couple different positions. I think he could play all three linebacker positions.”
Touch The Banner: "…solid straight-line speed that’s maybe not in the 4.58 range, but not far off, either. Using that length and speed – plus a good understanding of pursuit angles – he can cover a lot of ground and wrap up ball carriers in space. When he arrives, he brings a punch and does a good job of wrapping up.
Rob Cassidy, Rivals, from a Rivals Camp: "long arms allow him to play bigger than his 6-foot-3 frame … extremely quick with his first step. He also ran well for a middle linebacker, as he shined in coverage even on the rare occasion that saw a running back test him deep." … "One of the most physically impressive linebackers in the country."
- Son Of A Coach: There aren’t going to be many players who can stuff the inside run quite like Mbem-Bosse. He does a great job of scraping through the trash and arrives at the ball violently when he gets to it … very good tackler that runs through people. ... will absolutely blow up the iso. … true inside linebacker that would thrive as a downhill run defender that is asked to blitz a lot versus the pass.
In the aftermath of that RCS camp, Rivals moved Mbem-Bosse into their top 250 at #157; he would eventually fall out but maintain a four-star ranking. They did explain why at the time, but that article was lost to their redesign. Yes, I am a little skeptical of that bump and subsequent fall, but their ranking is reasonable all the same.
That last scouting report segues into the downside: a guy who is "asked to blitz a lot" probably isn't too good in coverage. There are conflicting reports about how athletic Mbem-Bosse is, but virtually every report will mention "stiffness" and the like. A typical example from ESPN:
May be interchangeable between ILB and OLB given his athletic ability and potential to make plays outside of the numbers with his range. … shows some tightness opening and turning in pursuit. … We do not see the hips or fluid transitional skills to project high as a man coverage LB at the next level.
TTB says he's "not a great space player" and has a hard time bending or changing direction; Son Of A Coach says he "doesn't jump out as a great athlete", "looks a little stiff", and may not have sideline to sideline speed.
The upshot here is one you've already seen in the gentlemen listed as Mbem-Bosse's YMRMFSPA: Desmond Morgan. When Morgan got isolated on wheel routes against faster backs that didn't go very well. Michigan ran its coverages to minimize such occurrences, but when the rock-paper-scissors went badly there were moments he got exposed. EMB will have to be similarly protected. The good news is that Brown runs a lot of pattern-matching zone concepts and that's a good fit for a tall, rangy, smart linebacker. I know the takes on MGoBlue bios are always going to be the most positive ones available; even so, Brown seems legitimately high on his potential as a cover guy:
Coach Don Brown on Elysee Mbem-Bosse
Elysee “Boss Man” is a true sideline-to-sideline guy. He plays downhill and can explode on contact and has really good coverage skills for a middle linebacker. He’s a no-brainer for us and fits exactly what we are trying to do within our system.
For Don Brown that may be true in a way it is not more generally.
Michigan can also mitigate whatever issues he might have in coverage by blitzing maniacally, which Brown also likes to do. This uncommonly useful segment from 247's Auburn site makes an excellent point…
…with his size and explosion trying to pick him up with a running back is a losing proposition for an offense. When the Nebraska Rivals site caught up with EMB's coach, it was just after a 4 TFL, 2 sack performance. He "definitely can pass rush." That is an element Morgan didn't bring during his time at Michigan.
A second concern is Mbem-Bosse's rawness. He only has two years of football under his belt and that does show up on film. Son Of A Coach and TTB mention "false steps" and occasional failure to recognize keys; Womack says he can be "a little hot and cold" because he "doesn't realize the impact he can have on every down."
That concern is mitigated by Mbem-Bosse's background. Like Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, Mbem-Bosse was born in Africa—Cameroon, specifically. Immigrants are often really driven people, as Darboh and Chesson have demonstrated, and Mbem-Bosse seems to be from a similar mold. Per his coach he speaks "about four different languages." His twitter feed alternates between Bible verses and various workouts, and dude has serious academic plans:
"Knowledge is something that can never be taken away from you,"Mbem-Bosse said. "The average time playing in the league [NFL] is about three-and-a-half years. That means I'll have 50 or 60 more years in my life. I want to be able to grow up, have a beautiful wife and kids and say I was able to get a good education.
"There are way too many kids who go to college and don't have a plan B, and they end up bankrupt and struggling through life. Even if I don't make the league, I want to say I was successful."
That's a quote a lot like the ones Chesson issued when he was a recruit, and that was a major factor when I named him (co-)sleeper of the year. (Mbem-Bosse isn't eligible to be SotY since he's got two four-star rankings, FWIW.) Per his coach he's in "all AP classes" and "excels in math"—my man. I think he's more likely to hit because of his background.
If EMB does hit his ceiling the stiffness won't be a huge concern. As I've said virtually any time someone criticized Morgan, MLB is about 80% knowing what to do and 20% being able to go do it. Mbem-Bosse is a long way away from knowing what to do but seems like the kind of guy who's likely to figure it out as time goes along here.
Etc.: Prefers comically oversized weights.
Why Desmond Morgan? Morgan was a lightly-regarded guy coming out of high school. He was mostly a quarterback, so he had some of the same projection issues that Mbem-Bosse does. At Michigan he quickly established himself a thumping hitter and solid zone coverage linebacker. Morgan's athletic limitations occasionally got him in trouble on wheel routes and the like, but his smarts and ability to rock free-releasing OL backwards made him a quality player.
Mbem-Bosse is higher rated, with a couple of four-star rankings, and considerably taller. He has more upside and eventually could be a guy of interest to the NFL.
Guru Reliability: High. Relatively large spread in the rankings but scouting reports are consistent. EMB was healthy and at a high-profile high school; I can see both sides of the coin with his rankings.
Variance: Moderate. Lack of experience means there's a lot of projection in his rankings and offers. In addition, most scouting reports indicate that he's an interior thumper only, so he doesn't have a plan B if MLB isn't working out. On the other hand, high-academic guy and driven immigrant.
Ceiling: Moderate-plus. EMB is probably never going to be an all-action three-down linebacker. He does project as a major run-stuffer in the middle.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-plus. Michigan needs a hard-nosed MLB for the Wisconsins and MSU and OSUs of the world. This is that dude. Mbem-Bosse would be out of place in the Big 12. In the Big Ten he's a major asset.
Projection: MLB is another spot where some young guys might play since there's little clarity what will happen next year. EMB is probably 50/50 to redshirt—he's physically ready; he could use a year of mental prep. Either way he's not likely to see much time.
In 2017 there will be at least one LB slot open, possibly two if Peppers goes to the draft and actually is more or less a linebacker. That is unlikely to affect EMB, who will be in the mix at MLB and MLB only. With Bush already on campus and that SAM spot looking like it'll go to hybrid space player types it'll be up to Mike McCray whether that's a serious battle or not. Right now the assumption is he'll have to wait for McCray to graduate before getting a shot as a thumper in the middle as an upperclassman. The decks are clear for him to start for two or three years after McCray departs.
These names had been rumored for a couple days and now they are official:
Donlon was just fired from Wright State after a six-year tenure. His axing was controversial, to say the least, after Donlon saw his charges to 22-13 season and 13-5 conference mark, and the conference tournament final. I mean, this is a hell of a resume to fire for a low major*:
Three years after he was named the Horizon League coach of the year and three days after he led his Wright State team to its third 20-plus wins season in four years, a tie for the most league wins by a WSU team and the third appearance in four years in the title game of the league tournament, Donlon was fired as the Raiders’ basketball coach.
Donlon and Wright State had a rough 2015 but the years surrounding it were all 20-win seasons featuring excellent defense considering WSU's place in the basketball firmament. Here are some key stats from his tenure:
|Year||Adj D Eff Rk||2PT % RK||BLK % RK||TO% RK||REB RK||FTR RK|
Donlon's teams played a high-foul, high-TO style that made them somewhere between respectable and just about as good as a low major can rank—with the exception of 2015. He's never had any shot blocking because of the nature of coaching at Wright State, but three of the last four years he's outperformed a ton of teams. (FWIW, His offenses were universally horrible. That doesn't matter because Beilein.) Donlon looks like the "defensive coordinator" I was advocating once LaVall Jordan left. Beilein:
"I have known Billy for almost two decades, and I love his passion and IQ for the game. He has tremendous experience as a player, assistant and head coach at the Division I level. Improving our defense is a huge goal for us, and defense is one of Billy's specialties."
If he can get Wright State into the top 60 three times in the last four years he's probably pretty good in that role.
The obvious catch is that free throw rate. That is emphatically not how Michigan plays right now, and it's an open question just how much rope Donlon will have to deploy his style of D. Beilein is notoriously persnickety about fouls. Insert hours-long autobench complaint here.
Meanwhile, Washington has been at Oakland for a decade, helping the Golden Grizzlies have disproportionate success in the Horizon League. He almost got a job in Ann Arbor during the last staff shakeup. I don't know much about him other than the fact that Sam Webb believes he'll be an excellent recruiter; unlike Donlon he doesn't have a helpful Kenpom page since he was an assistant.
*[Article states that Wright State pays its assistants less than the rest of the Horizon and doesn't have a full time strength coach; they are mid-major only if that's your term for literally every non-big-time CBB program.]
It's that time again.
Yea, the college offseason is a long desert you are condemned to wander in for eight months. Let us be an oasis at which you can slake your thirst. HAIL TO THE VICTORS is an annual publication from MGoBlog that previews the upcoming Michigan football season in 128 pages of glorious detail.
Whereas your Athlons and Phil Steeles of the world will devote two or maybe four pages to your favorite thing in the world, this magazine is by and for obsessives. Let us count the ways.
THE TEAM THE TEAM THE TEAM
MGoBlog's Brian Cook writes a team preview covering about a third of the book, offers an opinion on the overall state of the offense, defense, and special teams, and then plunks down a prediction that will no longer be roundly mocked because Michigan's coaching staff is no good.
THE ENEMY THE ENEMY THE ENEMY
Ace Anbender surveys the opposition with savage intent. We are pleased to announce that this year we have secured the services of Buckeye Grove's Ross Fulton for the Ohio State preview; Ross's in-depth knowledge of the Buckeyes and surprising sanity are an excellent combination.
TWISTED BLUE STEEL
Adam Schnepp sits down with tight end Jake Butt and discusses Harbaugh, the NFL, his decision to avoid it, and many other topics. Michael Elkon on expectations in year two of Harbaugh.
SBNation's Ian Boyd on John O'Korn and how he fits into Harbaugh's passing game. Steve Sharik on Don Brown's dudes and what he plans to accomplish with them.
Seth Fisher and Mel Newman on when Texas A&M tried to buy Bo... and failed. John Kryk on The Guarantee, 30 years later. Steve Sapardanis on the Six Penny Defense, or when Bo invented the dime package. Craig Ross on how Michigan more or less invented all of football, from the forward pass to platoons.
THE SHIRT THE SHIRT THE SHIRT
This year's Kickstarter-exclusive shirt is perhaps the best ever, thanks to Smoothitron and BISB.
You can of course get the classic photobomb shirt if you are crazy.
BONUS: BETTER SHIPPING
NEW this year: thanks to sponsor Matt Demorest of Homesure Lending, shipping is upgraded to first class from third class. Magazines will arrive mere days after printing instead of weeks. Celebrate this fact with a new mortgage or the dog gets it.
YOU ARE PROBABLY RUNNING AROUND IN CIRCLES UNSURE OF WHAT TO DO AT THIS POINT
Click a link and you will be taken to the Kickstarter page, where you can decide on a support level and then pledge that amount. We appreciate your patronage. Click here or here or here or here but NOT HERE.