"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
|WHAT||Michigan vs. Purdue|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, MI|
|WHEN||6 PM Eastern, 2/25/2012|
|LINE||Michigan -6 (Kenpom)|
Saturday's game represents Senior Night at the Crisler Center and—depending on what you think of a rapidly-imploding Illinois squad—Michigan's toughest matchup over their last three games. If the Wolverines can handle the Boilermakers, a
13-5 14-4(!) conference record becomes not just a real possibility, but the likely season outcome, as does at least a share of the Big Ten title (shakes fist at Minnesota for their Minnesota-esque choke job against Michigan State).
Brian has already previewed Purdue once, so be sure to check that out for reference, but a couple things have changed since Michigan eked by the Boilers last month. Namely, starting guard Kelsey Barlow was booted off the team for allegedly assaulting a bar bouncer after leaving his wallet inside said bar and attempting to re-enter (forcibly, it appears). He was a relatively efficient player with a knack for getting to the line, but the Wolverines no longer have to worry about that.
At this point, you are intimately familiar with the star of Purdue, 18th-year senior Robbie Hummel. Hummel plays over 80% of the available minutes for Purdue and, at 6'8", is their starting center; he's a very efficient player for his sky-high usage, can step out and knock down the three (34.8%), rarely turns the ball over, and cleans up the defensive glass at a high rate. He'll be a tough defensive assignment for Jordan Morgan, though Morgan and Smotrycz held Hummel to 16 points on 14 shots in the first matchup (he did manage to dole out six assists).
Point guard Lewis Jackson is the other focal point of the Purdue offense, and he's nearly as efficient as Hummel. Jackson gets to the line at an extremely high rate and hits over 50% of his two-pointers, but he's not at all a threat from the outside (5-24 on the season from three). Trey Burke's job will be to keep Jackson in front of him and stay out of foul trouble, a difficult proposition in combination.
The Boilers have a pair of dangerous outside shooters besides Hummel, as starting guard Ryne Smith and sixth man D.J. Byrd connect at over a 40% clip from three. Neither poses a threat inside the arc—of their 358 combined FGA, 276 have come from three—but Tim Hardaway Jr. and Stu Douglass must make sure to stay at home and close out hard when they're on the floor. 6'2" Terone Johnson is the other starting guard and is by far Purdue's least efficient backcourt member with significant playing time outside of Anthony Johnson, who may be forced into a slightly larger role off the bench after Barlow's dismissal.
Stepping into the starting lineup these past two games—Byrd was suspended against MSU, so we'll see if he starts tomorrow instead—is low-usage forward Travis Carroll, who provides solid offensive rebounding, a shot-blocking presence, and little else. Purdue will stick with that seven-man rotation.
Since the first game against Michigan, Purdue has beaten Northwestern twice, Illinois on the road by 5, and Nebraska at home by 18, while dropping home blowouts against Indiana and Michigan State and nearly upsetting Ohio State on the road. That last game stands out as a bit of a fluke, but a three-point loss at OSU is a three-point loss at OSU.
The Boilermakers currently sit at 18-10 (8-7 B1G), placing them on the bubble but likely in the NCAA tournament as long as they take care of Penn State at home and get out of the first round of the BTT. This game could ensure them a spot in the tourney, however, so the Wolverines must be prepared to face a fired up squad.
Conference four factors:
|Factor||Offense (Rk)||Defense (Rk)||Avg|
|Effective FG%:||49.0 9||53.7 11||49|
|Turnover %:||12.2 1||18.0 9||20.5|
|Off. Reb. %:||29.8 8||31.5 8||32.2|
|FTA/FGA:||33.8 7||37.5 9||36.4|
Purdue has not shot the ball particularly well—especially from inside the arc—in conference play and their field goal defense has fallen off a cliff. While they don't turn the ball over, they're not great at forcing turnovers, and their lack of size hampers their rebounding. Their effective height is actually lower than Michigan's, a rare sight indeed when not playing Northwestern.
Obligatory Hardaway. I thought he had turned the corner after the Illinois game but he regressed against Northwestern; nothing highlighted his recent shooting struggles quite as much as a 2-8 performance from the line in an arena half-full of Michigan fans. Purdue has no true center to speak of and without Barlow they lack athleticism, as well; Hardaway should be on a mission to get to the basket at all costs.
Many of you will hate me for saying this, but keep shooting the three. I know Brian highlighted the potential uselessness of defensive 3FG% recently, but the Boilermakers are second-to-last in the conference, allowing a 39.2% rate from beyond the arc. I don't want to see the Wolverines jack up 38 threes again, but they shouldn't be afraid—outside of Hardaway, who should drive at all times—to put up some outside shots. I don't think that needed to be said, but there it is.
Get it inside to Morgan and Smotrycz. The two bigs combined for 22 points on 8-12 shooting in the first game as Purdue struggled to defend the interior. Morgan even notched a pair of assists, and Hammer & Rails is afraid of the Wolverines continuing to attack with the inside-outside game:
This team is a difficult matchup for us because we proved the last time we cannot stop Morgan in the paint, and he can kick out to Evan Smotrycz or Zack Novak for threes. Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. can get their own shots too. In their last five victories they have been defensively stifling, holding those defeated opponents under 61 points.
Also, like, please don't miss layups, Morgan. The dwindling number of hairs on my head will thank you for it.
Don't let Hummel go off. Self-explanatory. Michigan did a fine job of this in their last matchup, but Hummel is the type of player who can explode at any time, and I think that's necessary for Purdue to win this one.
Keep Jackson from getting the lane on the pick-and-roll. Purdue's other dangerous option is getting the lightning-quick LewJack into the paint via the pick. Burke's been very effective defensively in conference play and he's going to have to keep them up; the last thing Michigan needs is for him to get into foul trouble. Same goes for Morgan—if he picks up a couple of cheapies while trying to corral Jackson, Michigan's effective height becomes much the same as Purdue's and the team loses one of their biggest advantages.
Give Novak and Douglass the biggest standing ovation in the history of standing ovations. It's senior night. I can't remember a pair of seniors who deserve your undying love as much as the two unheralded white boys from Indiana. If the roof doesn't blow off of the Crisler Center when these two are introduced for the last time at home, I will be waiting outside after the game with a machete. You would not like this, and neither would I, as I value my freedom mightily; however, I also value upholding ridiculous statements I make on the internet. Don't test me.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 6. Also, biggest standing ovation ever.
With 258 games and 185 starts between them, Zack Novak and Stu Douglass will take the Crisler Center floor for the final time on Saturday night. The duo committed to Michigan with little fanfare and, bit by bit, have reestablished the program. Neither player ever averaged double digits or posted glamorous numbers but Zack Novak broke the 1,000 point plateau and Stu Douglass is likely to graduate as Michigan’s all-time leader in games played. Most importantly when all is said and done they will have taken the program, which hadn’t been to the NCAA tournament in a decade, to the Big Dance in three of their four seasons. Both players would tell you that the memories can wait as Michigan hosts Purdue with a chance to remain perfect at home and within striking distance of a Big Ten championship.
The memories can wait during the game, but if doesn't get pretty damn dusty in Crisler afterwards, regardless of the result... machete.
Also, the_white_tiger with a stat-heavy look over at Maize n Brew, and the aforementioned Hammer & Rails preview. The Daily's Ben Estes on Zack and Stu. AnnArbor.com's Nick Baumgartner with a list of the top five Zack and Stu moments—you'll be pleased with the placement of the aneurysm of leadership.
Today's recruiting roundup checks out Shane Morris's new highlight tape, goes over the laundry list of top prospects who took notice of last weekend's commitment extravaganza, and details Michigan's new offers and expected visitors.
What, No Punting Highlights?
Shane Morris unleashed his junior tape yesterday, and the first full minute features him... running. And hurdling a guy. I'm seriously, you guys:
Oh, there's also your standard fare of cannon-launched deep balls and precision touch passes, but SHANE MORRIS HURDLED A GUY AND HE'S TOTALLY DENARD 2.0. Also, he punts, though disappointingly that wasn't in the video:
Don’t underestimate Morris’ potential in the punting game. While a left-handed thrower, he kicks right-footed. According to De La Salle’s special teams coach, Morris averaged a shade under 40 yards a punt last season and had a 58 yarder in one game. Morris played soccer for seven years.
Next week we'll learn that Morris throws a 90-mph slider with either arm, turned down Red Berenson's overtures to be Shawn Hunwick's successor, and is the only person to defeat The World's Most Interesting Man in a game of jai-alai.
Morris, as you're well aware, is also pretty good at this whole recruiting thing—that Hoke guy isn't bad himself, I hear—and top prospects have taken notice of Michigan's dynamite start to the 2013 class. Joliet (IL) Catholic RB Ty Isaac is one of those prospects, though he's also trying to take his time with his decision ($, info in header):
“It’s hard not to notice (Michigan’s recruiting success), but I kind of told myself ‘don’t let that be a deciding factor,” said Isaac. “I know there are a few places that I really want to see. I know that being somewhere with a good class is a big deal, and to me it’s very important, but I didn’t really want to make a rash decision just because everyone else was doing it.”
Isaac will visit Ann Arbor on March 10th between trips to Notre Dame and USC, who appear to be the other schools in contention for the Midwest's top back, though he's yet to narrow down his list ($, info in header). One factor very much playing in Michigan's favor is their depth chart, something Isaac is keeping a close eye on, as he wants the opportunity to play early. Another top Illinois prospect, Crete (IL) Monee WR Laquon Treadwell, is also keeping a low profile, but he's willing to say that the Wolverines are among his leaders ($, info in header):
While he claims to have no top list, Treadwell will admit Michigan is one of his leaders. After this past weekend, when Michigan picked up eight commitments, there might not be much time before he will have to make a decision, something that Treadwell says won't deter him from his timeline.
"That won't change anything for me," he said. "It's not my time yet."
One player who has flat-out stated Michigan is on top is four-star linebacker E.J. Levenberry in a free ESPN article linked by Brian yesterday. The Wolverines are also in good shape with four-star linebackers Dorian O'Daniel and Mike McCray; with Michigan likely to take just one or two at the position they should be able to get a very high-quality haul there.
247 Sports updated their Top247, and for the most part the new rankings were kind to the Wolverines, though Jake Butt took a rather perpelxing tumble. Touch the Banner provided a summary of the movement:
- Shane Morris dropped from #12 to #14
- Dymonte Thomas dropped from #35 to #40
- Chris Fox dropped from #39 to #47
- Kyle Bosch jumped from #55 to #42
- Jake Butt dropped from #70 to outside the top 247
- Taco Charlton jumped from #115 to #99
- Wyatt Shallman dropped from #149 to #187
- Jourdan Lewis dropped from #218 to outside the top 247
- David Dawson jumped from outside the top 247 to #195
My only guess as to why Butt would drop so far is that 24/7 initially evaluated him as a DE, and when he committed to a school as a TE they adjusted accordingly; I still don't know why he fell all the way out, as most first-hand accounts have him as a better offensive prospect than defensive. C'est la vie. Click that TTB link to see where all of Michigan's targets landed in the new list, which provides further confirmation that the Wolverines are offering the cream of the crop this year.
New Offers, Scheduled Visits, Visit Reactions, Etc.
Sam Webb's latest DetNews article focuses on one of the many high-profile offensive linemen to come out of Illinois in 2013, New Lenox Lincoln-Way West's Colin McGovern, who could vie for that last offensive line spot in the class:
"I spoke with Coach Funk over the weekend and (Wednesday), and he let me know there is one spot left (for an offensive lineman)," McGovern reported. "I'm just glad that I'm going to be visiting really soon there so I can sort of get a look at things and maybe compare it to schools that I've visited in the past. But I'm not looking to commit right now. I'm going to let it play out and whatever happens, happens. If they stay available that'd be nice because that's an extra choice for me. I know Michigan is a great school and a powerhouse football team, but I'm not going to rush into a decision that I might regret."
McGovern will visit on March 10th, and he's also got visits scheduled for Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Northwestern, and possibly Washington over the next couple months. He's not in a rush to make his decision, but he also doesn't have a set timetable; when he feels like he's ready to make a choice, he'll go ahead and do just that. He doesn't claim any favorites right now, though he says Michigan would be near the top of his list if he had one (he doesn't).
The top-ranked lineman in Illinois, Ethan Pocic, was the only Saturday visitor to not commit last week, but that doesn't mean he wasn't impressed with Michigan. Pocic released a top ten and the Wolverines are included ($, info in header). As of right now, he hasn't set up any other visits. Michigan also impressed a pair of Monday visitors in TE Jacob Matuska, who talked to Tremendous—it looks like the Wolverines will take a third TE in the class—and DT Donovan Munger, who still doesn't have a Wolverine offer ($).
Your semi-weekly list of new offers:
- Four-star Reading (MA) Wyomissing Area OLB Alex Anzalone, who told 247 he's planning March visits to both Michigan and Notre Dame ($, info in header).
- Bastrop (TX) three-star CB Antwuan Davis received his offer from Coach Funk last week ($, info in header). He hasn't set up visits but mentioned Michigan among the schools he'd like to check out.
- Upland (CA) DE/OLB Joe Mathis grabbed an offer last week and is looking at taking one of his official visits to Ann Arbor ($, info in header).
- 2014 Bishop (MD) McNamara OT/DT Damian Prince received offers from Michigan, Florida State, Iowa, and North Carolina last week, bringing his total to 11 already ($, info in header).
- 2014 Grand Rapids Christian ATH Drake Harris is primarily a basketball recruit—he's been in heavy contact with John Beilein—but he also says he's received an offer to play football for the Wolverines ($, info in header). He's the rare player who could be a legit scholarship player at two sports.
- 2014 Washington (DC) Friendship Academy CB Jalen Tabor was offered on Sunday ($, info in header). He already holds offers from schools like Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, and Virginia Tech, and he's looking to visit Ann Arbor this summer.
As you can see, the coaching staff has been able to turn some of their focus to the sophomore class—identifying 2014's top targets—with half of the junior class already wrapped up.
There's a short list of weekend visitors after last weekend's junior day atmosphere (though it wasn't an official junior day): four-star OL Patrick Kugler, who holds an offer; Barrington (IL) OL Jack Keeler ($, not offered); Logan Tuley-Tillman (yes, again); and 2014 QB Chandler Kincade, who's an early Pitt commit.
Several other players are planning future trips to Ann Arbor. Pittsburgh (PA) TE Scott Orndoff, Wisconsin's lone commit in the class of 2013, told Tremendous that he'll take a visit to Michigan after being offered recently—further evidence that the Wolverines want a third TE in the class. PA OT Mike McGlinchey is looking to take a spring trip to check out the Wolverines ($, info in header). Erial (NJ) Timber Creek teammates DT Greg Webb and DE Dajuan Drennon might be a package deal, according to Webb, and plan on visiting Ann Arbor in the future ($, info in header).
A quick note: Despite a recent MaxPreps article saying Michigan had renewed interest in Midland OT Steven Elmer, Sam Webb has confirmed with Elmer's father that he's not interested and is solidly committed to Notre Dame. End of discussion.
Quickly: SBNation editors pick their favorite tales from the recruiting trail, and it's a hilarious read (I must agree with Andrew Sharp—Willie Williams is tough to top). MnB's Zach Travis answers questions about recruiting and the renewed fervor of the Michigan-Ohio State battles for SBNation's main recruiting page. Chantel Jennings goes over the remaining needs in the class ($). TomVH focuses in on the top remaining targets along the offensive line ($).
|WHAT||Michigan at Bowling Green|
|WHERE||BGSU Ice Arena|
|LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
|TV||None. Radio 1050 WTKA.|
Record. 9-20-5 overall, 4-18-4 Gongshow. Bowling Green is by far the worst program in the league. They've given up more goals than any CCHA team (82—3.2 per game) and score way, way fewer than any other (36, a full 25 fewer than Notre Dame, the second-most impotent team in the league). I find this depressing. BG deserves better.
But they don't have better. BG does have a 5-2-1 nonconference record against UConn, UAH, Cansisus, and Bemidji. They've held up the conference's banner in the nonconference.
Previous meetings. None.
Dangermen. Well… I mean, it's tough to pick one out. Freshman Ryan Carpenter and sophomore Camden Wojtala have 20 and 18 points respectively; they have 10 and 9 in 26 CCHA games. Freshman Adam Berkle also has 10 in conference. So they don't have an 0.5 PPG scorer in conference play. There aren't any. This is not a jinx.
Defense. None of BG's defensemen do anything notable on the scoresheet; they all get nailed on plus minus. This is not a jinx.
Goalie. Junior Andrew Hammond is the only guy. He's got a .896 in 34 games; his backup has seen about a single game's worth of time. I assume Hammond's poor save percentage is an effect of poor defensive play in front of him; I can't plausibly claim that I have expertise in this area.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||4.3||3.7|
|PP Ag / G||4.9||4.2|
I wouldn't expect much of a difference between power plays for and against; Michigan has gone into series against opponents way more likely to take penalties than they are the past few weekends and seen a Wolverine parade to the box on crosschecks that are actually legal hits not involving the stick at all and so forth and so on. Gongshow is gonna gongshow.
When teams are on special teams, it will be advantage Michigan. Bowling Green is 55th in power play efficiency at 9.5 percent; while they're a lot better at killing power plays (25th; 82.5%) their lack of firepower overwhelms everything else. Michigan is up to… uh… 40th on the power play.
Michigan vs Those Guys
Don't let them score via horrendous turnover. There were a number against Northern and few other scoring opportunities that were not catching the third pairing in its own zone. BG doesn't appear to generate many scoring chances on its own; if they don't win a game it will likely be a totally gross thing off forechecking.
Don't give up a softie. This is pretty insulting to the Falcons, but seriously they're averaging just over a goal per game in the Gongshow.
That's all I've got. BGSU's been playing pretty well lately but it's about bounces going against M. Either that or some guy doing something he's never done before. You can blame me when the jinx comes home.
The Big Picture
If Michigan sweeps and Ferris gets swept M will share the regular season title. While the former isn't farfetched the latter is given how well the Bulldogs have been playing in the second half of the season. Since it will take a BG sweep to prevent Michigan from getting a second-round home series we can move on to the Pairwise barring Mayan-type events.
As far as the Pairwise goes, a sweep sees Michigan tread water. They'd probably drop a spot or two in that case just because some teams within a hair's breadth of them will sweep better teams. Less than a sweep is worse but actually not awful. They've basically salted away all Gongshow comparisons and the RPI is the only thing that will make a difference with Ferris. BGSU is nowhere near TUC status and won't affect that category, so the RPI is it.
Pickerington (OH) North TE Jake Butt visited Ann Arbor for the weekend to beat all other weekends, though he managed to resist making a commitment all the way until Sunday, thus becoming the seventh of the eight prospects to pledge over the weekend. I know, what a stick in the mud. I caught up with Jake last night to discuss his decision, the coaches, his bond with his future teammates, and more:
ACE: What made you decide that last weekend was the right time to commit?
JAKE: Oh, man. I've been trying to tell myself for the longest time that I was gonna wait, but I've been up to campus a few times, got to go there, see the campus, see the academic side, got to meet Shane Morris, saw Taco [Charlton] up there. It's the #14 university in the world and with all those commits I just wanted to go home, sleep on it, and just make sure I felt the same way the next morning that I did the night before. I woke up feeling so excited about the experience that I just had to hop on board with those guys.
ACE: Did it make a difference at all seeing six other guys commit during the same weekend?
JAKE: Of course. I think there's already eight guys committed in the [ESPN] top 150 in the nation. It's something crazy. You want to be a part of that. Earlier today we were on ESPNU's Recruiting Nation show; what recruit wouldn't want to be a part of that?
ACE: What else set Michigan apart from the other schools you were looking at?
JAKE: Academics and playing time. They're the #14 university in the world and also they're really low on tight ends right now, because they don't really use them that much in the offense they're running, but once Shane comes in and Denard leaves they're going to a more pro-style offense and they're going to need tight ends. There's really only the two that they have right now, then Khalid Hill and me coming in for our class, so if I keep working I expect to get significant playing time.
ACE: Did you talk to the coaches more on your visit about your role in the offense?
JAKE: Yeah. They've got two different tight ends, a 'Y' back and a 'U' back. A 'Y' back is a guy that's more on the line and a 'U' back is a guy that's off the line. As of right now they said I'm the only guy that can play both. They've got Khalid, who's going to be more of a 'U' back, they've got another guy [Devin Funchess] who's more of a 'U' back, and a guy [A.J. Williams] who's a 'Y' back; there no true fit, really, for both, and they said I'm that guy right now for them, and that's huge that I can play either/or.
ACE: You talked about being up there and being able to meet Shane and being up there with Taco, from the same hometown. How much of a factor is it that it looks like you guys as a group are already so tight?
JAKE: That's a huge factor. You want that with any type of team. Shane's a great guy, he's been recruiting all these guys and I expect him to land at least a couple more for us too. It's huge being able to know that your future teammates, you're already getting to start to build a relationship with them. Me and Khalid, we both being tight ends, I'm sure there's a little competition between us, but he's a real cool guy. Of course Shane is going to be my quarterback some day, so getting to know him is big too.
ACE: Now you have to turn around next season and play Central, Taco's squad. What's it going to be like playing against a future teammate?
JAKE: It's going to be a great experience. Taco's a great player, so getting up there and getting to size each other up, he's going to be playing D-end at Michigan, hopefully the coaches are able to come down and watch us a little bit. It should be a battle. His team's got us the last two years, though we had them this year, but next year I'm telling you we will pull that one out.
ACE: I'm sure you guys won't be talking smack or anything like that...
JAKE: Oh, you know we will, we will, though.
ACE: What set the coaching staff apart from the other coaches you came across during the recruiting process?
JAKE: They just got their stuff together, it's unbelievable. The attention that they manage to give you one-on-one during the whole entire visit, it's just unbelievable how they can do that. Spending a whole day, not only with Coach Ferrigno, but Coach Borges and Coach Hoke, too—I had about an hour-and-a-half meeting with each of them. Some of it's about football, some of it's about life, just getting to know me, getting to know my parents. They're all just great people. The way Coach Hoke coaches is the way anyone would want to be coached.
ACE: How is that specifically?
JAKE: I use the story... during the Ohio State-Michigan game—we actually asked them about this up there—when the punter muffed the snap and he came off to the sideline we saw [Coach Hoke] put his arm around the punter and he said something to him. Me and my dad didn't know what he said, but he actually told the punter, he said, "Now how many snaps have you taken in your career?" And [Will Hagerup] said, "I'd guess about 5,000." He's like, "And how many have you muffed?" The punter said, "None." And he said, "Have you ever been to Vegas?" The punter looked at him all weird and said, "No." "Well, in Vegas, it's all about probability, and I like my chances in a 1-in-5,000 chance. You've got 5,000 more snaps before you muff another punt." Some coaches would be really jawing at him or really angry at him for muffing it, but he just picked him up a little bit; [Hoke] said knew we were going to need him later in the game punting for us again. That attitude, you just have to respect it.
ACE: What about Coach Borges and Coach Ferrigno, what set those guys apart?
JAKE: Ferrigno is just a real calm guy, but he's a great guy at the same time. I got to meet his family and everything. Just the way he talks about me, he talks so highly about his program; they're also like a family. All the coaches and recruits are giving each other hugs and everything, so it just brings you closer to them. I spent about an hour-and-a-half talking with Ferrigno, and we talked about my film, he's just a real honest guy, and the same thing with Borges, too.
ACE: I'm sure it was probably a little tough not to just commit on the spot with all the other recruits committing there.
JAKE: Oh, yeah. (laughs) It was pretty tough.
ACE: If you had to boil down why you chose Michigan into a few words, what would they be?
JAKE: I'd say the better question is, why would you not choose Michigan?
On the right is something I made from this week's Blockham's by Six Zero.
The left is a screen-cap from the pinnacle of awesome. Threads existing in the shot are as follows: WOOOO-HOOOOO!; Hello: Chris Fox; MUPPETS!!!!!!!; Sullinger: post-game words to Burke; Hello: Taco Charlton; official greatest day of ever thread; Ozone: Meyer > Hoke on Recruiting Trail = Egg in Face; The Announcers; Brady Hoke; Senior Night Video?; Life, in General; What just happened???; and Super Saturday (2-18-2012) Recap. That last by YakAttack has the play-by-play for everything that went down but here's Saturday:
- 12:00 p.m. Football: Kyle Bosch commits
- 1:00 p.m. Lacrosse: Begins first-ever road game as varsity (would lose to PSU 16-9)
- 1:05 p.m. Football: Wyatt Shallman commits
- 1:55 p.m. Track & Field: Trio of Wolverines finish first at Silverston Invitational.
- 2:25 p.m. Football: Jourdan Lewis commits, whiddle-guy Cass Tech CB mantle deployed
- 2:25 p.m. Football: David Dawson commits.
- 3:36 p.m. Baseball: Logan McAnallen pitches 2 scoreless innings to preserve Bobby Brosnahan's gem (7.0 innings, 4 hits, 1 run), and Michigan beats Setaon Hall 2-1.
- 4:21 p.m. Softball: Freshman LHP Haylie Wagner completes shutout of No. 22 Kentucky
- 7:25 p.m. Hockey: A.J. Treais scores in OT to beat Northern Michigan and sweep weekend series.
- 9:20 p.m. M Gymnastics: Season-high 345.700 score hands Ohio State their first loss
- 9:39 p.m. Softball: Freshman RHP Sara Driesenga completes shutout of FAU
- 11:00 p.m. M Basketball: Michigan upsets No. 6 Ohio State 56-51
- 11:01 p.m. Kate Upton: Kate Upton is all Kate Upton.
- 11:05 p.m. Football: Chris Fox commits
- 11:30 p.m. Football: Taco Charlton commits.
- ~11:59 p.m. Jake Butt and Logan Tuley-Tillman enter REM sleep, where their dreams are invaded by GHOST OF NINJA RECRUITING SHANE MORRIS, who gives them helmets with wings and beckons they fly with him to the land of a thousand trees.
Tennis lost to Notre Dame (BlueDragon's comprehensive paume update) at some point in there, but you get the idea. Lets_Go_Blue put up an imaginative photo recap of the weekend in the diaries. Posbang thread? Posbang thread.
I'm So Softball Right Now You Guys! The shutout streak is now up to four games, thanks to Michigan's magnificent freshmen starters. I suddenly feel like doing lines!
Haylie is a clone of Jordan Taylor (even played for the same league in Orange County) and is the crafty lefty complement to Driesenga. As such Wagner wasn't supposed to have a lot of strikeouts but, uh, well look above. The other shutout was Junior Stephanie Speierman, who was 18-1 last year with a 1.88 ERA in 122 innings. I had to look at several other top teams to convince myself these rotational riches are as ridiculous as they look. They are.
The Quantum of Verisimilitude. After watching smart people commit to Hoke in droves over the weekend, Urban Meyer, Legendary Recruiter™ put up a sign so full of deceit people thought he was running for office (hyuk!). Accordingly, people who take twit pics of things made by twits at face value sent it around the internet. Enter Diarist of the Week Michael Scarn, who took the crucial step of, you know, a few cursory Googles to pull the real numbers from the teams' respective media guides.
Yes, our readers with
Office Space The Office joke names are better at research than whoever's doing the signs for Ohio State's head coach. I'm sure this has nothing to do with which school is a better research institution.
Which school is the better research institution? U.S. News & World Report has its new rankings for "Worlds Best Universities" and M is 14th in the world, 10th in the nation, and 2nd among FBS schools. Ohio State (111th in world, 35th in U.S.) isn't so hot, though they'd still be middle of the Pac 12, upper quarter of the ACC, and only behind Texas-Austin anywhere else. The Big Ten is back ahead of the Pac, more because of the Oregon schools than what they added. Other bits of interest I put in a table-tastic diary.
Every Goal Against Northern Michigan. This is
one of my favorite new regular column, a weekly picture-paging of M scoring by CenterIce. Since most of my hockey knowledge comes from watching Lidstrom, the one I was instantly nodding at was the scoring opportunity created by Merrill having an NHL head on his shoulders:
Head up the whole way Merrill gets the puck from Moffie and finds Deblois cutting through the middle.
The Northerners are all kinds of confused, obviously since the blueliner has closed his legs like he's in shot blocking position.
It's Aaaaaalive! The 2013 Offer List has been updated.
Etc. The Mathlete clarifies his maths, but this doesn't make sense unless you read Bill Connelly (of SBNation blog Football Study Hall)'s response to the Mathlete original. Video of last week's defeating of Ohio State, and the Sugar Bowl.
Best of the Board
GO SOUTH ON U.S. 23 AND LOOK FOR THE GIANT TOILET BOWL
Remember kids, helpful Google Maps reviewers should always get upvoted. Unfortunately this well-executed trolling has been found and restored back the THE College of Performing Bears.
When you search for directions to Ohio Stadium on Google Maps…oh I'll let you try it.
Etc. Salute to Percy Bates, retiring after more than two decades as the AD's faculty rep. HT Section 1.
Brief vacation note. I'll be limited Friday and Monday as I visit some friends. I don't think it'll be that noticeable Friday but it's likely there aren't going to be any major columns Monday or Tuesday. I won't be able to catch the hockey game since they're not on TV, but I will write something up on the Purdue game whenever I get a chance.
Northwestern. Via mgovideo:
Podcast. I guested on The Solid Verbal. They asked me if I could think of anything wrong with Brady Hoke and I came up empty. It's been a good 13 months.
Beilein recruiting vs. development. I'm not entirely clear on whether Dan Hanner's recruiting and coaching rankings have methodology gaps that would particularly affect John Beilien but the general idea is to evaluate a coach's recruiting on the ORtg of his freshmen and his development of players on the movement of that ORtg as the players age. Survey says:
|Thad Matta||Ohio St.||8||10||3rd||12th||2nd|
There are some obvious holes in the evaluations here since they only take offense into account, they assume a guy like Burke's performance is all recruiting and no development when he's had on average a half-year of development by the end of his freshman year, etc. But they do make the case that Beilein's recruiting at Michigan has been horrendously underrated, especially since the defense is more than holding its own in this year's Big Ten. Throw it on the pile of evidence indicating Beilein has a great eye for players.
See also: Trey Burke, nation's #3 freshman according to CBS.
It might behoove us to move to a less three-mad offense. Emphasis on "might"—obviously there is something going on with Beilein's offense that works. But in Ken Pomeroy's ongoing quest to discredit defensive three point efficiency, he's doing collateral damage to offensive three point efficiency:
Oh dear. The defensive plot is just a random scattering of data, as has been discussed previously, but the offensive version isn’t much better. If you shot 45% in the first half of the 2011 conference season, you’d be expected to shoot about 35% in the second half. If you shot 25% in the first half, you’d be expected to shoot 33% in the second half. A difference you couldn’t notice with your eyes. I don’t know exactly what implications this has on strategy, but when evenly-matched teams get together, action happening beyond the 3-point line is like a lottery. You take a shot and a third of the time you have success.
In contrast, two-point shooting correlates well. Pomeroy admits he doesn't know what the impact on strategy is, and neither do I. This could be an argument for Michigan to move its game inside the line, but it's not hard to see Michigan's #6 two-point shooting as a number that benefits greatly from Michigan's long-range bombing. As long as Michigan is going four-out, one-in they're going to have to take a lot of threes to stretch opponents into giving them decent opportunities from two.
Thirty-eight is way too many, though. Right now the Wildcats are obviously right with Michigan; in the future when McGary, Horford, Glenn Robinson, and Stauskas give M a huge size and athleticism advantage bombing it from the outside is asking to get upset. I wonder if we see Michigan cut back on the bombs in their new era of talent superiority.
Meet the new GERG? Iowa's new offensive coordinator:
If you were hoping that the Greg Davis rumors were nothing but smoke and disinformation, well, today is not your day. Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman, a gentleman who is about as well-connected to the Texas football program as Mack Brown himself, reported today that Greg Davis had accepted the Iowa offensive coordinator position.
Davis was run out of Texas on a rail after Colt McCoy graduated and the offense collapsed. Before that he'd told Vince Young to run around out there to good effect and transitioned to a pretty good McCoy-led passing spread, so this is not exactly hiring a guy whose only success in the past ten years was a one-year blip (Greg Robinson).
Still, a 61-year-old retread who cratered that much talent has Iowa fans shrugging. The consensus at BHGP is "decent"; if things go south this fall they'll turn quickly. Looks like Jacobi had to rewrite his headline after his initial take:
Also on the url of the above Prevail and Ride cartoon as uploaded to SBN:
Mattison is probably not quaking at the hire.
Elsewhere in Iowa blogging. The High Porch Picnic evaluates Michigan's recent recruiting from an Iowa POV and is a bit bothered that Hoke and Ferentz seem to have a lot more overlap than the Hawkeyes did with the previous Michigan regime. If I was Iowa I'd be more concerned with Michigan's sudden relevance in Illinois, a place they've struggled in for the past five years.
This reminds me to elaborate on something I mentioned in passing on the Solid Verbal: the current configuration of offenses in the Big Ten footprint is advantage Michigan recruiting. The two schools who do the best job of competing on the trail, Notre Dame and Ohio State, are now spread offenses. The second tier run pro-styles. Michigan looks like it's in a phase where it's rarely going to lose a battle against the second tier; meanwhile they should have an advantage with certain recruits in hostile territory simply because their opponents won't have a good place to put them.
Michigan's in a good position to starve Michigan State and, to a lesser extent, Iowa of offensive talent while bolstering their class with a guy like Jake Butt who Ohio State might have been pursuing hotly if they were still running a Tressel offense.
Side note: the impressive thing about Hoke's progress in Illinois is beating out ND. Remember when going up against Notre Dame was totally pointless, especially in Illinois? Yeah. We'll see what happens with Ty Isaac and LaQuon Treadwell; if Michigan lands them that will be a huge statement.
List o' jerkos. CBS's Eye on College Football lists the 30 BCS schools who voted to override the multi-year scholarship legislation and points out that their real desire is to avoid giving out multi-year scholarships themselves:
The motivation in Austin, Baton Rouge, Knoxville and Norman isn't that they can't hand out four-year scholarships, it's that they simply don't want to.
Of course, the legislation doesn't mean any school -- BCS, mid-major, or otherwise -- is required to offer multiple-year scholarships. But since that might put the schools that don't at a recruiting disadvantage against schools that do, the Texases (and USCs, and Alabamas) have tried to prevent anyone from offering them.
In short: because these schools don't want to promise their athletes a full four-year college education, they've decided the athletes at other schools shouldn't have the benefit of that promise, either.
But whatever, they failed. Wisconsin was the only Big Ten school to ask for an override. Their football team signed up with most of the rest of the conference in offering four-year rides, though, so why is unknown. IIRC, their hockey team has a bit of reputation for cutting kids loose. That might be it.
Now the Free Press won't exist for anyone else, either. Gannett hastens its own decline:
“We will begin to restrict some access to non-subscribers,” said Bob Dickey, [Gannett] president of community publishing. The model is similar to the metered system adopted by The New York Times a year ago, in which online readers are able to view a limited number of pages for free each month. That quota will be between five and 15 articles, depending on the paper, said Dickey. Six Gannett papers already have a digital pay regimen in place.
The Free Press is a Gannett paper, so to get your Drew Sharp fix you'll have to start kicking in subscription dollars. I'm sure the line will be lengthy: Gannett projects they'll increase subscription revenues by 25%—$100 million per year. Think of all the press conference rehashes, trolling, and Mitch Albom columns about angels you'll be missing out on.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I'm not going to steal Ace's recruiting roundup thunder entirely but just… holy hopping ham sandwiches:
The Levenberry family is looking for a paternal figure to guide son E.J.'s career. It's found him in Ann Arbor.
E.J. Levenberry Jr. said this week that Michigan is the lead school for his services. The ESPNU 150 Watch List linebacker prospect from Woodbridge (Va.) C.D. Hylton referenced Wolverines coach Brady Hoke as one of the primary reasons why.
"He kind of reminds me of my dad, the way he carries himself," Levenberry said.
Add Levenberry, Isaac, Treadwell, and O'Daniel—all players who Michigan reputedly leads for now—and that's nine Rivals 100 recruits, three guys who would be consensus five-stars if rankings hold, and a class that will compete for the best in the country. They'll probably lose at least one of those guys and rankings do not hold*; even so… good God.
*[Because there's not many places to go but down and as the year goes along recruiting analysts will turn up top flight talent they missed the first time around. See: Ondre Pipkins. Even if Rivals's opinion of Jake Butt doesn't change at all he's likely to slide 20-30 spots by Signing Day.]
Briefly. Ohio State fans are now the ones annoyed by the "spread can't work in B10 lol" meme propagated by hobos, people who think wrestling is real, and newspaper columnists—all the same people. They get bonus annoyance because Rich Rodriguez just "proved" this by having a quarterback run for 1700 yards. As I said: people who think wrestling is real.
So they're trying to dispel the Rodriguez stink:
Rodriguez largely failed to evolve his offense past the spread's origins. Chris Brown, for instance, prophetically predicated at the beginning of Rodriguez's Michigan tenure that Rodriguez's passing game lacked the conceptual nature necessary to succeed as teams adapted to the spread's basic tenets. Nor did Rodriguez (for the most part) diversiify his offense in the way an Oregon has to counteract things such as scrape exchanges. Michigan never embraced plays such as the midline option, inverted veer, power or counter trey like others. The upshot is that, while Michigan's offense was largely succesful once Denard Robinson was in place, it never hummed in the way Oregon's offense did (particularly against better teams) to overcome Michigan's defense or special team liabilities.
That's not really true. Rodriguez adapted his system to use Lloyd's collection of tight ends, burned many defenses with plays specifically designed to blow up scrape exchanges, and eventually shelved large sections of the old playbook in favor of having Denard Robinson run QB isos and stretches, pairing those with "aigh he's open" moments when a Robinson run turned out to be a pass. The reason 31 points against Penn State and 28 with a missed chip shot field goal against Wisconsin were bad performances didn't have much to do with the offense.
Rodriguez's offense never reached the high-pitched hum of Oregon's because he never had a returning starter at quarterback and the only non-freshman was a breathtakingly green Denard Robinson. Also his tailbacks were pretty bad. If OSU fans are looking for narratives to combat hobos, "we'll have an assload of talent relative to Rodriguez" is your best bet.
Etc.: Tremendous has an even more detailed breakdown of Hoke's appearance at the Glazier Clinic. Rodger Sherman narrowly survived the Michigan-Northwestern game but the prognosis is grim. Michigan's off to a healthy lead in the name-based recruiting class derby but there's a "Zanquanarious Washington" out there—they will not win. Blue wall! You've already seen Luke Winn's decision to put us in SI's "magic eight" teams from which a national champion will come. That seems like a bad bet to me, but whatever. TTB interviews Jehu Chesson, who I will probably call "Jehuu Caulcrick" at some point during his career.
Michigan hauled in their 12th commitment of the class of 2013 yesterday when Columbus (OH) Marion-Franklin WR Jaron Dukes pledged to the Wolverines. The 6'5", 200-pound receiver fills a position of huge need for Michigan, and the Wolverine lifer could barely contain his excitement about the commitment. I spoke to Jaron yesterday evening, just hours after he committed, and we talked about why he chose Michigan, how he feels being in Columbus as a Wolverine, his game against Cam Burrows, and more:
ACE: What made you decide that today was going to be the day to commit?
JARON: I don't know. It was more my coach's decision. He was like, "I can tell. You know what, I can see it in your heart, and I see it in your eyes, and I know that's where you want to go." My family, my mom, they said, "I think it's time, go ahead," and I was like "ahhhhhhh." Then I just went ahead and did it.
ACE: I know you had a great time on your visit a couple weeks ago. Has it pretty much been in your mind to commit since then and you were just waiting for the right time?
JARON: Yeah, I was just waiting on the right time. I was going to wait and do what my mother said, go see more colleges, get the full experience and everything. What nudged it on was a lot of the pressure, it's a lot of pressure.
ACE: Did the fact that Michigan got eight commits over the weekend have any effect at all? Did you take notice when that went down last weekend?
JARON: I heard, but I really wasn't hesitating much. I was talking to Taco [Charlton], he committed, and he was telling me it felt right for him. I've been talking to him a lot. Having somebody that I know that's going to be there made me even more comfortable about going there.
ACE: Have you been talking to any of the other guys who committed to Michigan?
JARON: The only people I've been talking to are Shane [Morris] and Taco.
ACE: What did Shane tell you?
JARON: He was telling me to just come join the family, that we're going to take the top. He was just telling me this and that. I could see that he had as much love for Michigan, as much as I did, maybe even more (laughs).
ACE: What set Michigan apart from the other schools you were considering?
JARON: They actually got my mom to be quiet, once (laughs). They answered all her questions, they answered all my questions, it was just the perfect place. It felt like it was built for me. It just felt right. It just felt like that was the place for me, and why wait?
ACE: What made the coaching staff different from the other coaching staffs that you were in contact with?
JARON: They wouldn't just all play. You know, "Hey, all right, how you doing, man? We're going to have a great time up here, you're going to do this, do that, we're going to be awesome." They sat me down and they were real with me. I felt a connection already. I've seen that they love their players, they love their family; actually, Michigan is their family. It just felt like a good vibe. They were real, they said we're going to work, but we're going to have fun at the same time, because you're going to love what you do. You're going to be proud waking up in the morning and putting on that Maize and Blue. I wanted to be a part of that.
ACE: Being from Columbus, do you feel safe down there being a Michigan commit right now?*
JARON: No (laughs). No I do not. I got messages in my inbox from fans going, "boo go away, y'all suck," when I committed. I'm not affected by it. I made my decision. I'm happy with my decision. People that support me, thank you, I won't let you down, and I won't let my teammates down. People who don't, I'm sorry, but this is my life, and I have to live it.
ACE: There's been a lot of attention, just in the hours since you committed, about you playing against Cam Burrows in the playoffs last year and putting up some pretty good numbers. Are you looking forward to matching up against him again in college?
JARON: Oh, yeah. I would love to keep going against him. He's a great guy. It's fun. After the game, and when I got hurt, he was cool; he came over and he was talking, we were having a good conversation and everything. I have nothing against him. He was a great person, so it's fun going against people you know and it's cool that you can just showcase your talent.
ACE: If you had to boil down why you chose Michigan into a few words, what would they be?
JARON: Family, love, dedication, hard work, honesty, and trust.
*Just to be clear, that question was entirely (okay, mostly) in jest, and Jaron took it that way, too.
A little over a week ago I surveyed the readers here about the Big Ten Division names in the aftermath of 1) the Big Ten declaring they found generally positive feedback and 2) the internet saying LOLWUT in response.
A non-random sampling of internet-savvy Michigan fans says:
That speaks for itself, I'd imagine.
Sam Webb just broke the news on Twitter; yes, Michigan has picked up another commit:
Columbus Marion-Franklin HS WR Jaron Dukes has pledged to #Michigan
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) February 22, 2012
LOL my life. Informative update forthcoming.
Informative Update: According to Michael Spath of The Wolverine, Dukes is the first-ever offensive skill position player from Columbus to commit to Michigan, which is pretty mind-boggling. Despite growing up in the heart of Buckeye country, Dukes actually is a lifelong Michigan fan, and he told me that he got emotional running onto the field at the Big House when he visited a couple weekends ago. Despite his trip going as well as it possibly could, he wanted to make sure he took the time to think things over and talk to his parents and coaches before coming to a decision; it appears he's thought things through.
|NR WR||NR WR||NR WR||3*, 87, #63 WR|
As you can see, Dukes is flying under the radar right now and has yet to be ranked by any of the recruiting services, though I expect that will change soon now that he's committed to Michigan [EDIT: Talk about your quickly-fulfilled predictions; 24/7 just gave Dukes a three-star rating]. Though Dukes is listed at anywhere between 6'2" and 6'5" in his recruiting profiles, recent observations peg him at a legit 6'5", 200 pounds; he's definitely the big type of wideout that Al Borges has been looking for.
Bucknuts listed Dukes as their #29 prospect in Ohio for the class of 2013, and their evaluation included this quote from scout Mark Porter ($):
“He’s the biggest wide receiver in the class. He’s not as big as TY Williams a couple of years ago. But he has great size and is useful down around the goal line. He had a nice game against Trotwood.”
In that game against Trotwood—playing against cornerback and consensus top player in Ohio, Buckeye commit Cam Burrows—Dukes tallied six catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Scout's Dave Berk was on hand for that game, and while there are questions surrounding Dukes's speed, he seems to think that won't be a big issue ($):
At 6-foot-5, 200-pounds, Dukes has the physical size Notre Dame coaches love from the wide receiver position. Besides his size, Dukes showed surprising speed during his six-catch, 173-yard two-touchdown performance.
On one of Duke’s [sic] two touchdowns, Burrows had the angle to make the stop, but Dukes showed a burst that sent him past the standout corner that already holds an early offer from the Irish.
A recent Tim Sullivan feature talked about the strength of Jaron's game—his ability to high-point the football, a la Junior Hemingway—and had a glowing quote from his head coach ($):
Whichever school he does ultimately pick will be getting a talented wideout. Standing 6-5 and weighing 197 pounds, he's a physically-imposing receiver who can use his mass to shield defenders - and make blocks on the edge. He also has the body control to high-point the ball once it's in the air, and a knack for making plays after the catch.
"He's 6-4 or 6-5 legit, 200 pounds, he runs a 4.6," said Coach Haffele. "He has great ball skills catching the ball. He's a pretty good blocker. All that god-given talent he has. And then, once you meet the kid and talk to him, that's the selling point. He's just such a great kid."
We'll see about that 4.6; Dukes himself knows that he has to work on his speed to take his game to the next level, and he told me as much when I first interviewed him before his visit:
JARON: My biggest strengths are being able to read the secondary, keeping a level head, going out there and having fun and being able to go out and catch, just catch the ball. I would love to get faster. They keep telling me speed kills, so I want to be the fastest one out there. I want to be the fastest one on the field.
As you'll see on film, Dukes is very reminiscent of Hemingway in his ability to go up and get the football. His speed doesn't stand out, though he's clearly working on changing that fact. Burner or no, he'll provide a big downfield target for Shane Morris and he should be a major weapon in the red zone.
Dukes also held offers from Illinois and Toledo while garnering interest from Cincinnati, Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Ohio State; he visited OSU multiple times before reaching his decision, though he did not hold an offer.
Dukes told me he had 36 catches for 673 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals lists a 40 time of 4.6 seconds, the time his coach claims he ran. Seeing Dukes on tape, I have to give that a four FAKEs out of five; he's going to have to work on his speed, as has been said above, including by Jaron himself.
Junior highlights from ScoutingOhio:
It's difficult to get a read on his route-running from that short clip; hopefully more video surfaces in the near future, as there isn't even paywalled tape on Rivals right now.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
The evidence is flimsy indeed, but Dukes—like every receiver from the 2012 and 2013 class—is going to have every opportunity to compete for playing time right away. When Dukes arrives on campus, the Wolverines will have just six returning wideouts—Jeremy Jackson (SR), Jeremy Gallon (SR), Drew Dileo (SR), Jerald Robinson (JR), Amara Darboh (SO), and Jehu Chesson (SO)—and the only players with even comparable size are Jackson and Chesson, who both stand at 6'3".
That said, Dukes is a developmental prospect, and it seems likely he'll take a redshirt year as long as the Wolverines don't suffer attrition, especially if they can bring in a blue-chip prospect like Laquon Treadwell in the 2013 class. Dukes appears to be a late-bloomer—he told me his coaches said he "couldn't catch a cold" as a freshman—so there's a chance he makes a big leap up in the rankings and changes that opinion. With little film to go on, for now I see him as another Hemingway type; a big receiver who uses his body well and is a deep threat by virtue of his size and leaping ability, but not a burner who's going to be a steady possession receiver.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan now has 12 commits in the class of 2013, almost certainly more than half of what they'll take in a class projected to fill out at around 20-22 players. Dukes represents a player of major need at receiver, and the Wolverines will take at least one more player at the position; Treadwell seems to be the leader in the clubhouse for that spot, but Michigan has 14 other offers out to uncommitted prospects. Other positions of need include one more offensive lineman, an every-down running back, nose tackle, and depth in the back seven, specifically at linebacker (likely just one, and M can be picky) and cornerback.
Brady Hoke... I really just don't know what else there is to say about his—and his coaching staff's—effort on the recruiting trail. I've run out of platitudes, but this class is already on pace to be one of the top five—at least—in the country. It's still February. This is relatively unprecedented, but you know that already.
NOTE: it proved impossible to communicate what OL coaches were like without swearing more than I usually would in a post not about backboards in the immediate aftermath of last year's Wisconsin game. Keep children and the mad away from this post.
Faced with a difficult choice between seeing the head coach give his stump speech and talk about defensive line coaching and Al Borges talking about creating a play sheet and Michigan's passing concepts, I split the difference: one hour each. If I'd known I was going to get an excellent event recap from the Hoke presentation in my inbox that night I would have gone 100% Borges, but better to have it 3/4ths covered than half.
The emailer's notes follow. I was in the room for the first half of this and will interject some asides where appropriate; first a few general impressions from me.
loafs = bad; offensive line coaches, basically
My first exposure to the football coaching subculture was sometimes fascinating, sometimes boring, and full of swearing.
To a certain extent all football coaches emphasize the same things, and they tell you about these things every time. I get it: "loafs" are not tolerated. They are to you as scrubs are to TLC. [blank stares] I would like to move on from this because I have never tried to teach anyone and do not understand that without relentless consistency you do not get the results you want. Football coaches know you would like to move on but the relentless consistency is so ingrained in their nature that they can't help themselves.
Hoke was the most explicit example of this amongst the coaches I've seen over the past couple weeks. His presentation is on proper defensive line technique* and he says "I respect guys who just get into football and won't do all that philosophy stuff," he does a large section on philosophy stuff, and then sort of apologizes for it—only sort of because Hoke has a friendly bravado to him. Very few coaches can escape it.
Most of those guys are offensive line coaches. In a field of insane, profanity-prone sticklers for detail, OL coaches stand out. Collectively they have an air of weary acceptance. The best way to communicate this: a couple of the guys who presented in Grand Rapids have their own OL-specific clinic. Their logo is a mushroom because they're "kept in the dark and eat shit all day."
Funk was the first OL coach I took in so I didn't know how much of an exception he was. He may be the most businesslike individual I've ever perceived. No jokes, no swearing, just explanations.
What Funk shares with the other guys is an arcane language that's half signing, half jargon, half grunting, and I know that adds up to more than 100%. Jets consultant Jim McNally spent an hour talking about where a center's first step should be against a one-technique. He'd put his foot somewhere, say that was horseshit, put his foot somewhere else that you could just perceive was different, and tell you that this would prevent the motherfucker lined up across from you from putting you in a world of shit as long as you did six dozen other things right. But then some other motherfucker would put you in a world of shit some other way so you had to STEP [GRUNT] in this other particular way. A ballet eventually emerged in this quarter-full room as McNally scribbled his hieroglyphics on an overhead projector: step, grunt, swear. Step, grunt, swear. And so on.
So… yeah. Offensive line coaches.
*[Again it's worth mentioning here that Hoke is an outlier amongst head coaches. He still coaches a position. Meanwhile, he seems to have relatively little input on the coordinator-level duties. He is high and low and nowhere in between.]
Brady Hoke commands a room. I'd been in The Presence once before, when The UM Club of Ann Arbor invited me to be a panelist for their season kickoff Q&A. He started off with the same call and response he gives the team:
He then jovially mocks you for being meek little things and asks you to do it again. It's probably the oldest motivational/attention gathering technique in the history of man. He did it to the infinite coaches in the room by saying "GOOD EVENING" until the response was involved enough for him to continue. He does this with the team, obviously.
Over the course of the hour I took in he grabbed a half-dozen people out of the crowd to demonstrate certain things, told everyone to get up and actually get in a stance—this did not work well since the room was packed—and used a former Ball State player he called by a stereotypically defensive line nickname I forget as a proficient dummy. He got his points across, kept attention to him, and tossed off laugh lines with the casual air of a guy in complete control of a room. Which he was. As I noodled on my phone in certain other talks, Hoke's charisma became a more notable thing.
A couple days later eight four-star recruits would agree.
Now on to the email report.
Last night I had the opportunity to hear Coach Hoke speak for 2 hours at a Glazier Clinic in Grand Rapids. Hoke took the first five minutes to talk a little program philosophy and motivational stuff, he then launched into a very detailed 110 minute talk about D-Line rules/technique/drills/responsibilities. I thought I would share some various bullets from the night.
Roh move. Although already mentioned on the Blog, Craig Roh is definitely moving to the 5 tech! Coach hit on this a couple times while discussing drills. Seemed to hint at Beyer and possibly Ryan moving to WDE?! [Hint means he mentioned these guys as he was discussing WDE position...again nothing for sure, but just passing along info.]
[ED: I assume Ryan isn't moving to WDE. He probably gets mentioned amongst them because the SLB has a lot of responsibilities similar to the WDE. At the previous clinic Mattison mentioned that M has a defense in which the SLB and WDE essentially swap responsibilities that they ran 80 times last year. As always, SLB and WDE in the 4-3 under aren't that different. Also Ryan was a DE in the even-front nickel package last year.]
Campbell. Big Will came in for a little praise for his size and strength and it sounds like he is a "tremendous" individual, but Hoke didn't make you feel great about Will's chances to contribute at a high level.
Jake Ryan. Came in for some high praise as Coach Hoke called him "an unorthodox football player" and also said he will be a key to the success of the defense here at Michigan. They showed the clip from the Sugar Bowl where Wilson tries to bounce at the goal line and runs 20 yards backwards then Ryan cleans up.
This was one of two late-season plays on which Ryan's shocking upfield acceleration resulted in a big loss. A Taylor Martinez zone read keeper that ended up a TFL was the other.]
Hoke smiles and says, "That's just fun, isn't it?" Hoke went on to tell a story about a connection to the Ryan family and that Jake was interested in SDSU, but Hoke and his staff there never offered. He then said something to the sound of, "times like this make you feel like a fool, glad we got him now!"
Obviously. Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen came in for high praise as men who worked hard and set the tone as important Seniors on team #132. RVB was credited as one of the smartest players on the team, Hoke then said, "Mike is really strong!" That received a roar of laughs. (Quick side note: Hoke is a great comedian and has a natural feel for comedic timing. [ED: It's true. He called a guy up to the front of the room to get in a stance, started adjusting him, and then asked if his feet were square. The demonstrator said "more or less"; Hoke repeated it in just the right way and got a roaring laugh from the room. Comedy without a punchline is hard.])
Hoke talked specifically about Martin not getting enough push earlier in the year and how, once he was attacking more, he was unblockable.
Nathan Brink got a lot of love from Coach Hoke. He said, "he is a limited athlete, but a tough sucker." Maybe he can add some valuable depth?
Desmond Morgan received some high praise. However, every time they showed D-Line clips from game film, Des seemed to be out of place or getting killed! Coach Hoke talked about his smarts, strength, and instinct.
[ED: Morgan fared better in the clips from the Mattison session. I figure the bad bits are freshman being freshmen and they expect he'll be a lot better this year. Morgan will not go easily into the night what with the new kids around.]
Quinton Washington got some love from Coach. He talked about his strength and good feet. The only set back for Quinton is he is a "pincher bug!" Meaning he doesn't get his hands inside and get extension. With three D-Line coaches on staff, you have to get technique right or you will not see the field. He said "we need Quinton to get this right before September 1st!"
Stories and Comments
Cross is boss
The McNabb game. Coach Hoke talked about the 98' Syracuse game and mentioned that, "you guys know a guy by the name of Donovan McNabb? He is just a little bit of good!" He went on to say, "I told Coach Carr that I take all responsibility for the loss." Hoke talked about the fact that he didn't prepare his linemen properly and he let them down. Some of this is coach speak, but he is so effectual with his speaking that I felt like he let me down too. It was salt in the wounds man, salt in the wounds.
[ED: This was presented in the context of returning nine starters from the 1997 defense, which you may remember as pretty good. Hoke was discussing the algorithm he has his players go through to get to the ball and how he thought his guys had it down after '97; now he teaches it every year without fail. Again we got back to coaches repeating everything for a reason.
Jabs. Hoke kept throwing out light hearted jabs at his assistants. Gave you the feeling that these guys really like each other and work well together.
[ED: as I tweeted out, Borges was talking about how few people were in his clinic and Hoke was telling him "no one cares about offense" before they went on. In actuality both sessions were packed to the gills.]
T-Bone. I was surprised by how detailed he was in all the drills/technique portion. One of his GAs from Ball State was in attendance, so he had "T-Bone" come up and be his personal dummy for the night. Hoke repeatedly gave this guy huge shots on every demonstrated punch and extension. T-Bone was tough, but by the end, he was grimacing each time. I only include this to show how much Hoke is still a D-Line guy at heart. He can't hold back and was working up a sweat demonstrating this.
[ED: T-Bone. Of course.]
Ohio. Following the clinic someone was asking him a question about the "Akron State Golden Bobcats" and this gentleman used the full given name of that said team. Quickly Hoke corrected him and said, "You mean Ohio?" questioning which team the man meant. I know it might seem played up with the whole "Ohio" thing, but that little interaction made me a bit more proud that he is our coach.
Tremendous. Overall, there were 11 counts of "tremendous."
I was very much on the fence about Coach Hoke until his introductory press conference. Then I remained skeptical throughout the summer and even fall. After getting to witness this talk on a Thursday night in February with a bunch of overweight D-Line coaches, I am thankful that he is our coach. You can see why Mattison wanted to coach with him.
So that's Hoke.