"It was a privilege," Gardner said Monday night at the Ufer Quarterback Club Banquet in Ann Arbor. "I don't think people understand how much of a privilege it was to not only be a quarterback at Michigan, but just to be a part of this university whether you're a student-athlete or not," "And I knew that as a sophomore in high school. I knew this was a special place."
Formation notes: Much of the game was spent with Michigan in 2WR looks, leading to a lot of 4-3's like this with the linebackers shifted over the slot and a cornerback overhanging. When the receivers were split instead of twinned Michigan either got a straight up 4-3 even with two deep safeties or a shifted 4-4 look.
When Michigan spread the field, Nebraska defenders would go with them. Against three wide looks you got this:
And against four wide looks it was usually this:
Occasionally a safety would screw down but there weren't enough snaps with Denard on the field and M in a true spread to test it. Interestingly enough, I saw both Oregon and Arizona run double stacks last weekend like Borges does, except when they ran double stacks those stacks were damn near the edge of the field.
Substitution notes: Nothing new except for the obvious switch at QB. Rawls still can't get a snap. Funchess is playing all over the field, but rarely as an in-line TE.
[After the jump: it's okay and then DOOOOM.]
Bowlettes [Updated for clarity]:
- Devin Gardner has been taking most of the snaps at QB this week. Denard is obviously limited during his recovery, but I think it's curious that Bellomy has gotten only "a couple," regardless of whether he's the No. 1 or No. 2 backup. You'd expect Gardner and Bellomy to split reps equally and compete for the top backup spot. Plausible explanation: Bellomy is also limited by some undisclosed injury. (I don't know for sure, but it's an educated guess.) Either way, it sounds like Gardner is the bona fide starting QB until Denard recovers.
- As of now, Denard is expected back for Saturday. Hoke says the final call on the quarterback situation will be made just before game time. If you have been paying attention to Michigan's football program over the last season and a half, however, you have surmised that Michigan is highly unlikely to make this kind of decision just before game time. That decision will probably be made very soon if it has not been made already.
- If the distribution of QB snaps (see above) and Michigan's track record for saying things that turn out not to be true (e.g. previous injury reports and recovery projections, most notably during the Nebraska game, "Michigan says Denard will return to the game in the second half ...") are any indication, I would guess the probability that Denard plays on Saturday is around 50%, maybe less. In the absence of real information though, anything is possible; I'm not optimistic, but I never am.
- Amara Darboh and Joe Reynolds have gotten the reps at receiver that Gardner is now missing.
“Thought we came out yesterday and had a really good practice. That’s good to see. We didn’t play as well as we’d like to. I think everybody understands that, but I think we’ve moved forward and did a lot of things as a team very well. Competed very well. We’re pretty physical with each other, which is always a good thing. You don’t have guys feeling sorry for themselves, so the intensity level was good.”
Can you talk at all about the division of snaps at quarterback?
“You know, I couldn’t give you an exact number, to be honest with you. You know, Denard took some, Devin took a lot, and then Russell took a couple.”
Will Denard play on Saturday?
“We’re planning on it.”
Does he have any physical limitations?
“Not really. Not right now. He’s better. It’s not all the way cleared up yet, but it’s better.”
As reported by Scout's Allen Trieu, Michigan has picked up a commitment from Westland (MI) John Glenn WR Da'Mario Jones, who was previously a Central Michigan commit until getting a coveted Wolverine offer today:
"Actually, I was in my school library, and Coach Borges called and I picked up the phone and he said they gave me a full ride. I talked it over with my parents and we felt it was the best thing for me to do. I'm officially decommitted from Central Michigan."
Jones camped at Michigan, went to the BBQ at the Big House, and several games this year, but he says the relationship with the school began much earlier than that.
"Michigan is where it all started. They influenced me into playing, so it wasn't hard to the make decision based off that. We visited several times and I liked the area, the city is close to home, and everything's right."
The timing of the offer leads me to believe that picking up Jones is a response to Gareon Conley's probable decommitment and not an indication that Michigan is out of the running with IL WR Laquon Treadwell; Sam Webb believes the same. Jones is Michigan's third wide receiver pledge in the 2013 class—joining Jaron Dukes and Csont'e York—and, at least for the moment, their 23rd commitment overall.
|NR WR||NR WR||3*, 78, #77 WR||3*, 84, #151 WR|
Jones, who plays in a run-heavy attack at John Glenn, is currently very much under the radar, garnering three-star rankings from two of the four services. All four sites list him at 6'2" and between 185 and 195 pounds; with Michigan recruiting a lot of taller, bulkier wideouts, this suggests that he's destined for the slot.
There's not a whole lot out there scouting-wise on Jones, but we do get an evaluation from ESPN [emphasis mine] ($):
Jones has intriguing qualities and growth upside. He may not be a great speed guy, but is fast enough. Has a good solid frame to work with, needs to add strength, but possesses very good measurables. Shows adequate-to-good speed on tape. Has good height and arm length. Long strider that has good, but not great quickness and is pretty high cut. Has some ability to stop and start, but lacks elite explosion. ... Puts his shoulder down and fights for extra yards. Gives up his body to get the ball in traffic. ... Can be inconsistent as a catcher, shows ability to snatch the ball out of the air, away from his body, but also is a body catcher. Needs to develop in this area, has ability and does not seem to fight the football. Solid route runner that can get in and out of breaks. Runs a variety of routes and is well versed in getting DBs set up one-on-one. Does a good job of coming out of speed cuts and adjusting to the football, but high cut build limits fluidity and lateral agility. Good, but not great with the ball in his hands. ... Needs to add strength and bulk to improve his blocking. Jones grows on you the more you watch him and could be a BCS/non-BCS conference level prospect.
This is pretty much what you'd expect from a sleeper recruit that eventually earns a big-time offer—decent but not spectacular physical tools, raw ability, and room to grow both physically and technically.
Tim Sullivan made it out to see Jones in action earlier this fall, coming away impressed with his effort blocking downfield and inconclusive about his receiving ability due to a lack of targets ($):
Michigan has given Jones a hard look as a backup option at wide receiver, and it's easy to see why. Though he has a reputation as a slot-type receiver, he has good height (6-2) and his 185-pound mass looks to be solidly packed onto his frame. He still showed good burst, and though he didn't have the sudden acceleration of a Steve Breaston-type, he builds up a head of steam quickly, and can change directions without losing too much of that momentum.
With the ball in his hands, Jones was able to cut in and out of traffic, and although his help up front wasn't great, he was able to grind out some yardage. He was hardly targeted as a wideout in Glenn's run-heavy offense (one reason he only holds MAC offers, despite his talent), and didn't even get a chance to show much route-running polish, either.
Jones talked about himself a little bit in the wake of camping at Michigan this summer to 247's Todd Worly ($):
“I talk to them every two weeks or so,” Jones said. “At camp, they said I run good routes, I have better ball skills, and they said I have great speed – that I can flat-out fly. I sent them my highlight tape, and they said they’re interested in it and that there are things they like. I hope they see some things they like and make a move.”
As you'll see on his tape, Jones does possess above-average speed—somewhat deceptive speed due to a long stride—and the ability to go up and get the ball in the air, though as the ESPN evaluation says he sometimes allows the ball to get into his body.
Aside from Michigan, Jones held offers from Central Michigan, Bowling Green, New Mexico, Ohio, and Toledo. Scout also lists interest but no offer from Michigan State and Penn State—he camped at MSU and took an unofficial to PSU in March, per 247.
No stats that I can find in a quick search.
FAKE 40 TIME
Jones claims a 4.47 40 time from MSU's camp and a 4.50 at Ohio State, as well as a 10.9-second 100-meter dash ($). The 100 time is more believable than the 40 time to me, since his top-end speed looks better than his off-the-line acceleration. I'll give the 4.47 a four FAKEs out of five.
Junior year highlights:
Extensive senior highlights can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Jones is the only receiver in this class who looks like he could find a home in the slot. Since the only other slot receivers slated to be on the roster next year—Jeremy Gallon and The Threat—will both be seniors, Jones could find himself with a role early on in his career. With Gallon and Dileo around in 2013 and Jones needing a fair amount of development, I expect him to take a redshirt year, but after that he should have a shot to see the field. Much will depend on the direction Al Borges takes the offense post-Denard (or post-Gardner); if he goes to more two-TE sets with a lot of Funchess in the slot, which is expected, Jones may have a very limited role. If more spread elements remain, however, we could see him a fair amount moving forward.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
As said above, this is likely a reaction to the impending loss of Gareon Conley—who, while committed as a corner, may have had a chance to switch to wide receiver—and not a backup plan for missing out on Laquon Treadwell. As such, Michigan will continue to heavily pursue Treadwell, VA RB Derrick Green, and FL DB Leon McQuay III—the ideal Conley replacement—as well as an offensive lineman to take the spot formerly held by David Dawson.
Why can't Michigan run the ball without Denard? As with anything in football, the answer is "it's complicated" but against Nebraska the pendulum swung decisively towards an inability to block anything.
There were two primary ways in which things went unblocked, one of which we'll cover in two posts.
Ain't Nobody Trying To Block Important People
The first were either busts, play design errors, or combo blocking errors that left totally unblocked linebackers in the hole. A here's a third-quarter iso on the penalty fiesta drive that resulted in a field goal:
The highlighted guy is Nebraska's WLB. No one even tries to block him.
Unsurprisingly, this doesn't go well.
I'm not sure who this is on. I don't get the blocking. If Mealer releases directly downfield in the second frame in an attempt to get that WLB he does not have much of an angle and probably doesn't do much. I would expect Michigan to double that DT, leave Mealer behind on the DT, and then have Omameh pop off.
That doesn't happen. Did someone screw up? Is the play design bad? Is it Schofield moving to the second level poorly? Things are so confused I don't know.
If this was a one time thing you could chalk it up to a guy busting. It wasn't.
[AFTER THE JUMP: more unblocked guys! Like, so many you'll freak! They're coming out of holes in the ground like the Viet Cong!]
Welcome Player 1. You have reached level four of our new regular MGoFeature, and the only one that gives you free stuff. Reminder of our ways:
- Wednesday mornings I put up a winnable prize that consists of a desirable good.
- You guess the final scores of this weekend's designated game (football or hoops, depending on the season), and put it in the comments. First person to post a particular score has it.
- If you got it right, we contact you. If not, go to (5)
- The desirable good arrives at the address you give us.
- Non-winners can acquire the same desirable good by trading currency for it.
About Last Week:
Nobody guessed that Denard would get hurt while driving for the lead, leading to a Russell Bellomy implosion and 9-23 loss. Which is good because if you predicted that I would have wanted to strangle you. Some guy correctly guessed we'd get just 95 yards. Bastard.
This Week's Game:
The Minnetonka Golden Showers vs. the Michigan Wolverines in a contest of footballing.
And the Prize:
This. But remade with way more awesome. And it's a real, physical, goes on your wall poster.
Well since we've gone two weeks with nobody taking the under on Michigan's offense, the prize is this 11x17 poster celebrating the victory over Staee AND the anti-Corn t-shirt AND the MANBALL t-shirt. Nail it this time and you should have all of your stuff before the next home game.
About that poster. It's 11x17, which is kinda small, but it's printed in matte finish on thick cardboardy stuff. I can speak from personal experience that it looks AWESOME on the wall of a man cave. I'd like your thoughts on these things as we're considering offering full poster-sized posters for certain big wins.
Bonus: If you win, your score will be painted on the Little Brown Jug for posterity.
Bonus Again Again:
GUESS THE TOTAL YARDS (MICHIGAN's PLUS MINNESOTA's)
I've still got six of these left so let's keep going. If you're going to be around Ann Arbor at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 16, we have two free tickets to the premier of PERSEVERANCE-The Story of Billy Taylor.
I thought I'd change it up a bit—this time it's total yardage. Note: whether you've got our tickets or just wanna go, make sure you get to the Michigan Theater at least a half-hour early or risk losing the seat. Closest to the pin wins (tie goes to the over).
Notes: If you win the shirt and prefer another shirt, that's cool; pick an MGoShirt.
Rules: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (for my ease I prefer if you don't post it as a reply to another person's score--if you do it won't help or hurt you). If nobody gets the score, this week's prize carries over to the following week's. Deadline for entries is 24 hours before the start of the game (since I won't have time to pull them on gamedays). MGoEmployees and Moderators--anyone else with moderator privileges--are exempt from winning because you could change your timestamp. If you choose the score that Brian published in the official preview and it actually ends up the final score, well, that would be pretty amazing because Brian picks scores like 29-11 all the time.
They'll be undefeated in the nonconference pending matchups against two of Virginia, K-State, and Pitt!
They'll… go 10-8 in the Big Ten?
Whoah. Ah so:
Yes, Michigan is overrated. Pretty much anyone who's ventured an opinion about the mainstream basketball polls has done so to note that Michigan is overrated at #5, a faction that includes John Gasaway($), Eamonn Brennan, Kenpom above, and myself. As related by Brennan, this is the main reason why I'm with the skeptics:
The first is that, on Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted per-possesion basis, Michigan finished last season ranked No. 29 overall. Their offense ranked No. 22 in the country; their defense No. 60. No other current top-five team ranked outside the top 15. (Louisville, that 15th-ranked team, rode the No. 1 defense in the country to the Final Four. No. 11 Indiana had the nation’s fourth-best offense.)
They were never as good as the teams they split the Big Ten title with and were probably overseeded—if I wasn't a Michigan fan that game against OHIO would have been an easy upset pick in NCAA pools.
Brennan also tacks this on:
The counterpoint to such a crude year-over-year comparison is obvious: Michigan is hardly the same team as last season. Very true. The next question is whether that’s a good thing.
In the offseason, Michigan lost Zack Novak (graduation), Stu Douglass (graduation), and Evan Smotrycz (transfer to Maryland). All three were outside shooting specialists, and a big reason why the Wolverines ranked No. 8 in the country in their rate of 3-pointers to overall field goal attempts. They were also three most efficient offensive players on the team.
I'm not too concerned about that. While we love Zack Novak and have shirts and everything, he was a 6'4" power forward. Smotrycz was only getting about half of available minutes and seemed to have a chemistry issue with the rest of the team; Douglass was a quality on-ball defender and good shooter, but a low-usage guy. Novak and Douglass both find themselves in the "limited roles" section of Kenpom, and while Novak was unbelievably efficient it's not that hard to replace an efficient low-usage player. Between Stauskas, GRIII, McGary, and the return of Horford Michigan should get some combination of rebounding, defense, and shooting to replace Novak.
While Michigan will have to adapt to an offense that isn't spacing you out with four shooters, they've been pick-and-roll heavy the last two years. It won't be a huge leap. They'll improve… but I'm not expecting them to being the thick of a fight for a one seed at the end of the year.
Unless TREY BURKE
The good news. The AP top 25 is pretty good at IDing the right teams.
Yes please. Glenn Robinson's defense is getting talked up, which would be very nice:
"Glenn Robinson has shown some ability several times to really guard people," Michigan coach John Beilein said last week. "He's got instincts and he's really worked hard through the years to be a defender.
"That would be an easy way for him right now (to add to this team)." …
"We've been thinking about that," Beilein said. "You could switch on a ball screen (with the point guard) if his man is a bigger guy.
"I think he could do that."
Neither Burke or Hardaway has been a lockdown defender to this point and Michigan does need someone to go up against opponent's big time perimeter threats. Also you know how I feel about guys who contribute to teams without absorbing possessions. I like them—lots. If GRIII can be a plus player on defense and rebounding at both ends of the floor, he'll improve Michigan more than if he's doing equivalent stuff with the ball in his hands, because Michigan already has a lead ballhandler.
Sometimes uniforms are not crazy enough. 30 years ago, yeah, but whoah:
At least that one guy has a belt. Also, hey, Art Schlichter!
Oh good. Denard is not aging backwards.
"He should be fine," Hoke reiterated Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches' teleconference. "It's just one of those things that flares up now and then depending on how he gets hit. He's better every day.
"We think he'll be fine."
It's official. The NCAA's long-awaited penalty system revamp is officially official. There are now four levels of infraction. Level four is "incidental" and roughly equivalent to old secondary violations. What used to be major violations are now binned into three different groups:
- LEVEL 1: Big, big stuff. Violations that "seriously undermine" the NCAA model. Penn State, obviously. Maybe USC's agent stuff. Hopefully UNC's you never go to class thing.
- LEVEL 2: Serious stuff, violations that "provide or are intended to provide more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage." OSU's tatgate. South Carolina's hotel stuff.
- LEVEL 3: "isolated or limited in nature; provide no more than a minimal recruiting, competitive or other advantage; and do not include more than a minimal impermissible benefit." Michigan's practice stuff.
Coaches now can't play see-no-evil and punishments are hypothetically ramped up, but we won't know for a while: anything that's happened before today will get the more lenient, older penalty structure.
Nope not happening. The CHLPA wants CHL players to be NCAA-eligible. This is not happening without significant concessions from the CHL. When the NCAA relaxed its standards for foreign player eligibility, hockey got together and had this inserted into the bylaws:
22.214.171.124.4 Major Junior Ice Hockey. Ice hockey teams in the United States and Canada, classified by the Canadian Hockey Association as major junior teams, are considered professional teams under NCAA legislation.
That was inserted specifically to prevent CHL teams from getting their claws into players who would otherwise be ticketed to junior leagues that position themselves as college feeders. The USHL is now a fine feeder league for the NCAA and there's no reason to give CHL teams a marketing point that won't have any bearing in reality and will in fact encourage CHL teams to make sure their players are not eligible, whether it's for academic or amateurism reasons.
The CHLPA is trying, though, and an extremely long post by Guy Flaming indicates there has been some movement on the whole amateurism front—the CHL has gone from specifically defining itself as professional to specifically defining itself as amateur. The fact that signed NHL players can still participate is an issue that has not been resolved—and it's hard to see it getting resolved. A large part of the CHL's appeal is having a bunch of first round picks around. They've built that into the NHL CBA by prohibiting junior kids from playing in the AHL until they're 20.
Meanwhile, the CHL can call itself whatever it wants and the NCAA can still reject players from that league. Unless the NCAA sees a benefit, they will not change their stance. The only way I could see something happening is if the CHL gives significantly and agrees to not poach players signed to LOIs, or poach guys mid-year, etc.
The only reason they'd do that is to stop this ramshackle insurrection they have on their hands. Right now it's just bad PR and erratic Georges Laraque appearances. We're a long way from what would be a seismic shift in college hockey.
Etc.: Oregon's using double stacks, too. More Michael Ferns tribute. Bring kleenex. Why does the NCAA want basketball coaches to explode? Hockey series against Miami recap. Don't be mean to Russell Bellomy or Lewan will eat you. Wolverine Historian puts up 2007 Minnesota.
You had to be happy with how you were moving the ball in the first quarter until you got into the red zone …
“Yeah. We got in sync pretty good. We had three drives of ten plays or more. Mix of run and pass was pretty good. I felt like we were starting to really get into sync and it was unfortunate. We’re not doing a good job of finishing drives. That’s our main focus for this week, particularly in the red area. This is not the first time it’s happened.”
Seemed like some plays were there to be made in the red zone, though.
“Yeah. There were some opportunities. There’s some opportunities, but it’s -- we have to run the ball better in the red area, too. I have just found in my experience as a coordinator that the best red zone years we had are the years we were able to rush the football for a touchdown probably about 60% of the time or better. That’ll really improve. It gets increasingly more difficult to throw it down there, obviously, because of the condensed field.”
The "BIG TENNNN" may be a running joke during this current football season, but it's projected to be quite the opposite in basketball; Indiana (#1), Ohio State (#4), and Michigan (#5) make the top five in both the AP and Coaches poll, with Michigan State sitting at #14 in each. If you prefer KenPom (say "yes"), the outlook is even brighter, with Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan State, and Wisconsin running #'s 2-5 and Michigan at #12. The depth is strong, as well: nine teams make KenPom's top 54, while every squad save Nebraska (#216—yikes) is within the upper 90.
How do I see the conference shaking out this year? Find out below.
1. Indiana (#1 AP, #1 Coaches, #3 KenPom)
Last year: 27-9 (11-7 Big Ten), lost to Kentucky in Sweet Sixteen
Returning Starters: 4
Key Returners: C Cody Zeller, PF Christian Watford, SG/SF Victor Oladipo, PG Jordan Hulls
Key Departures: none
Top Newcomer(s): PG Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell (Rivals 5*, #19 overall), SF Jeremy Hollowell (4*, #41 ovr), PF Hanner Parea (4*, #43 ovr)
It's not hard to see why, even in the country's best conference, Indiana is the consensus frontrunner. The Hoosiers return every starter from the only team to defeat Kentucky in the regular season in 2011-12; they also gave the Widcats a run for their money (hurr hurr) in the Sweet Sixteen before falling to the eventual national champs.
Sophomore center Cody Zeller is a near-unanimous preseason All-American after averaging 15.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in his debut season—an extremely efficient post player, his 66.5 true shooting % was ninth in the country. Teams collapsing on Zeller in the post, however, usually pay dearly, as the Hoosiers feature a pair of lights-out shooters in PF Christian Watford (43.7 3P% last year), PG Jordan Hulls (49.3%), as well as a couple capable outside gunners off the bench in Will Sheehy and Derek Elston. Add in athletic slasher Victor Oladipo (52.3 2P%) and a
solid distributing guard in Verdell Jones (23.0 assist rate) and you get perhaps the best starting five in the country.
To top it off, the Hoosiers pulled in three top-50 recruits in the 2012 class, including electric five-star point guard Yogi Ferrell, who should make an immediate splash off the bench. While Indiana isn't a defensive juggernaut, their fantastic shooting and the inside presence of Zeller make them extremely difficult to beat.
EDIT: Verdell Jones graduated, and I am an idiot. Slide Will Sheehy into the starting five; little else changes.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the projected Big Ten standings.]
“Well obviously I’m disappointed. We’re disappointed as a defense. I don’t believe we played at the same progress or the same way that we have been playing as far as moving forward. And we’ve got some things we’ve got to get corrected and still work towards becoming a very good defense. There were times in that game where we did play, but as a whole, we needed to play better to win that football game.”
Do you feel like you took a step back?
“No I don’t think we took a step back. I think that was the first game where our lack of communication hurt us, and it always will. It wasn’t because of the noise. It wasn’t because of it being loud or anything like that. In a game where you’re playing against a high tempo team, you have to make sure everybody gets set. That’s everybody’s job out there. It won’t hurt you until it does, and it did. When you go at fast tempo, that’s one of the things they try to get done, and if you’re not a tremendous defense, then you all have to be exactly on the same page all the time, every player. If one guy isn’t or two guys aren’t, and they’re not hearing it or they’re not completely set on the check, then you’re going to find little cracks, and those cracks become big. That’s what disappointed me.”
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