"This is really important to be here," Lewan said. "I'm here to give back and help out my teammate."
Hit 'escape' on your non-Chrome browser to stop animation.
I'm assuming #25's New Year's resolution involves never again being in the same zip code as Glenn Robinson III.
[Trey Burke doing good basketball things and Nik Stauskas hitting all the threes after THE JUMP.]
|WHAT||Michigan vs South Carolina|
Everybody Loves Raymond Stadium
Tampa Bay, FL
1:00 PM Eastern
January 1st, 2013
|THE LINE||South Carolina –5.5|
|WEATHER||partly cloudy, mid-70s, minimal chance of rain|
Again this preview assumes that Denard Robinson is basically a wildcat guy when he lines up at quarterback now. Hoke just reiterated that Gardner will start and Robinson will play "some quarterback," and by "some quarterback" he means "wildcat guy."
Run Offense vs South Carolina
This was two things against Ohio State: Denard Robinson and disaster. Stripped of the one back with any credentials to his name by a gruesome injury to Fitzgerald Toussaint, Michigan all but abandoned any thought of running the ball with the men misnomered "running backs" in the first half, and then proved the wisdom of that decision—if not the wisdom of their second-half playcalling—by getting stuffed almost literally every time they touched the ball after halftime.
The results were grim. Vincent Smith and Thomas Rawls had ten carries between them for a total of 14 yards. Rawls gained a total of two yards on five carries while turning in this career lowlight:
That is likely the point at which we remember Rawls hype deflating entirely as he's relegated to Kevin Grady duty for the rest of his career.
It's not like Rawls is alone in that department. Toussaint followed up a breakout 2011 (1041 yards on 187) by dropping almost two yards from his per-attempt average, going from 5.6 a pop to 3.9. Vincent Smith managed 2.8; Rawls is actually at the top of the heap with 4.2 thanks to a couple of garbage time runs against Purdue and Illinois. When Rawls was forced into the lineup in earnest this November, the results were ugly: 32 carries, 57 yards, less than two yards an attempt. I'd be more receptive to the argument that Rawls saw a lot of short yardage carries that artificially depressed his YPC if he wasn't a major reason he saw so many of those carries by failing to get any YAC on the goal line.
Anyway. The failure of the Michigan running game is comprehensive. The interior line can't block, the tight ends are too young, the tailbacks miserable. Except…
In this context Denard Robinson's season is nothing short of miraculous. His historic season has been obscured by injury and interceptions, but here it is: 1166 yards on 154 carries, an average of 7.6 per despite missing games against Minnesota and Northwestern. That will be a record dating back to at least 1948 (100 carry minimum) if he keeps it above Ty Wheatley's 7.3.
Meanwhile no other player on the roster can grind out half of that outside of garbage time. It is time to shake our fists at the fickle whims of injury and Rich Rodriguez's offensive line recruiting, with a bonus shake at the motley collection of tailbacks on the roster.
ok one more
Ok. Now, the opponent.
South Carolina's got shiny numbers that are a bit distorted by their rampant sackage. They're 16th nationally, giving up 119 yards a game. Removed 40(!) sacks for 253 yards and opponents do get up to 4.0 yards a pop. This is a good run defense, yeah, but it's not on the same level as Alabama, Notre Dame, MSU, or OSU (when OSU isn't giving up 70-yard touchdowns). The defensive tackles are not pocket-crushers, the safeties like to shoulder-block people down after they get first downs and stand over them like idiots, which might be an asset when Denard breaks into the secondary if any of them have the chutzpah to try that against 16.
Is it going to matter? Probably not. In the game of "can Michigan run a football with Not Denard," bet on "no." Can Michigan effectively integrate Denard into a 20-carry presence if he's not playing quarterback? Well…
Key Matchup: I wonder if two months is enough time for Borges to figure out how to put Denard and Devin on the field at the same time. Denard's great; he can't beat out 10 guys going for him on the snap; just Percy Harvin the guy already and stop holding up a huge sign that says RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN when Denard is at QB. Also you can probably run Gardner some since it's the last game of the year.
[HIT THE JUMP for CLOWNEY THE DRAGON]
The recruiting roundup returns to cover... the dead period. Oh well.
While You Wait For The Others
I'm back from a vacation totally not spent playing an unhealthy amount of FIFA in my pajamas, but recruiting is still in a holding pattern—the holiday dead period continues through Thursday. It's the week for All-American games, however, so recruiting reporters have descended upon San Antonio and St. Petersburg to catch up with the nation's top prospects.
The latest on FL S Leon McQuay III does not sound promising. ESPN's Derek Tyson reports he'll announce his decision on Friday from three as-yet-unnamed schools, and the Wolverines may be on the outside looking in ($):
The four-star athlete has a top five of USC, Michigan, Oregon, Vanderbilt and FSU, but McQuay said he won't have all five hats for his selection on Friday.
"Yeah ... I don't know [if Michigan still in consideration]. I don't know how many hats I'll have up there," he said. "My dad said he wasn't paying for five hats. I'll probably only have three hats up there.
McQuay, who will enroll in January, said Florida State is the only school that has accepted him for admittance so far, but he is working with other schools to gain acceptance.
Sam Webb confirms he'll visit a Michigan bowl practice, so the coaches will get one last shot to sway McQuay, though with mere hours remaining until the Outback Bowl their priorities likely lie elsewhere. Insider rumblings haven't been particularly positive regarding McQuay and a choice for the Wolverines would surprise.
VA RB Derrick Green reiterated to Mike Farrell that Michigan is his favorite, with the rest of the picture murky—Florida State recently offered and could get an unofficial visit, while Oregon is now out of the picture ($). If a school is going to pass the Wolverines, it will have to be soon, as Green said "I definitely know [a decision is] going to be in January."
Let's just say there's more reason for optimism surrounding Green than McQuay.
One new 2013 name emerged in the last couple weeks: PA OT Jaryd Jones-Smith, a three-star lineman who could take an official visit on January 18th ($). He doesn't hold an offer yet, and it seems like he could be a backup plan for guys like Dan Samuelson and Cameron Hunt.
[Hit THE JUMP for an important hair-related bulletin, All-American week primer, and more.]
12/29/2012 – Michigan 88, CMU 73 – 13-0
Sometimes games just happen, and then we just write the bullets because it's hard to wax lyrical about rote blowouts against minor teams.
NEFARIOUS INTENT via Fuller
Photos. Via Bryan Fuller.
Hello Caris. With Hardaway nursing an injury Trey Burke called a "bone bruise" after the game, Caris LeVert inherited the large majority of minutes at the two. End result: 9 points on meh shooting (3/7 inside arc, 1/4 outside), a couple rebounds, and a 5-1 A:TO ratio.
A couple of LeVert's successful shots were tough two-pointers on which he dribbled to approximately the elbow and rose in the face of a defender, which is a mixed blessing. It's nice that he has that capability, but those are bad shots even if they go down; you'd like to see more of LeVert's game get to the rim, especially against a team that doesn't have any shotblocking.
That said, it's clear why Michigan took the redshirt off of him. he's got far more ballhandling/assist/shot creation skills than Vogrich, and if that's worth a couple points in an NCAA tournament game that's well worth it this year. You can see the potential there: tighten up the handle a bit, understand the offense, and LeVert can be a quality second or third banana on a good team—especially if his defense is as good as the coaches have talked it up to be.
Obligatory good gravy Trey Burke comment. Good gravy, Trey Burke: 5/5 from 2, 4/7 from three, 11 assistss, 1 turnover. Central was a terrible terrible defensive team, as they amply demonstrated by leaving Trey Burke wide open for three pointers multiple times in the first five minutes. Even so, boggleboggleboggleboggle.
Burke's one-game ORtg was 185. He's shooting 62% from two. He is a high-usage PG who never turns the ball over. He's kind of good.
It should be a shock to watch a guy hit five straight threes. Not even that surprised as Stauskas does it tonight.
Ah yup. Eight more attempts go in the sample size bucket, five of them are makes, and I'm getting curious about all time records. I have found them. Stauskas is 39/69 in 13 games for a 56.5% hit rate. Conservatively assuming Michigan plays the same number of games this year that they did last year, he's on pace to launch 180 on the season and hit 102. The NCAA rulebook has the following items he can go for:
- SEASON (50 made): A kid from Holy Cross was at 63.4%. This is probably out of reach. I imagine that guy must have gotten injured, because who takes only 82 attempts when they are hitting nearly two-thirds of them?
- SEASON (100 made): Steve Kerr (yes that Steve Kerr) hit 57.3% in 1988. It would only take a slight uptick to hit that number, albeit against tougher competition than Stauskas has seen so far. Stauskas is also operating behind a longer line.
- CAREER(200 made): Tony Bennett (yes that Tony Bennett, no not that one) hit 49.7% during his career at UW-Green Bay.
- CAREER(300 made): Stephen Sir, who transferred from SDSU to Northern Arizona, hit 46.9%.
School records are well within reach. Glen Rice hit 48% for his career, 51.6% in 88-89. I'm not going to track this or anything after jinxing Devin Funchess, but those are the numbers to reach for.
In other record news, Trey Burke is on pace to break Michigan's all-time season record in assists per game. At 7.4 he's ahead of Gary Grant by 0.5—Darius Morris is actually #3.
GRIII: a part of the assist machine. Every one of Robinson's nine makes was assisted, and seven of those were from Trey Burke. On the one hand, that means he's not generating a whole lot of shots himself—on the other, eight of ten from the field.
The subjective thing that jumps out is that GRIII's missed bunny rate is a lot lower than Jordan Morgan's. Generally I think Morgan gets excessive criticism for not hitting shots. He's hitting 63% this year, hit 62% last year, hit 63% as a freshman. There are plenty of big men with worse usage rates looking up at him. Morgan is an excellent fifth scorer.
But… yeah, some of those misses are frustrating. Robinson avoids many of them because he can just jump up and dunk from directly underneath the basket. He's pushed himself into the 2PT% lead after the Central game despite taking significantly more jumpers than McGary or Morgan. His TO rate is also significantly lower than either of the bigs despite taking on more ballhandling responsibilities. He's Michigan's most effective guy-to-throw-the-ball-to-in-search-of-assist-guy.
Outrebounded, finally. Stauskas was actually Michigan's leading rebounder on the night with seven defensive boards; on night Michigan actually lost the board war, rebounding a quarter of their misses while allowing the Chips to grab 36% of theirs. I'm pretty sure that's the first time all year Michigan has been outrebounded.
I file that under "fluke" since Michigan has held its own or better against burlymen like Pitt and KState; Michigan clearly got a little lazy and sloppy in this one after running out to a 20 point lead. They turned off about when GRIII took those two Manny Harris-ish rise-and-fire threes late in the first half. Until it happens in a Big Ten game I won't fret about it.
I do think that's a spot where Michigan missed Hardaway quite a bit. Hardaway's DREB rate is second only to McGary; LeVert is lower than Trey Burke (in an admittedly small sample size) and had only one defensive rebound in 32 minutes. That's an area for improvement for him.
The defense is a bit of a concern. While CMU is basically an inverted EMU—300 club defense, middling offense—Central nearly hit 1.1 points per possession and not all of that can be attributed to the rebounding. Michigan struggled with Central's quick transitions and allowed too many guys to get into the lane. Correctable? Some of it. Other bits are just going to linger. Michigan doesn't have shotblocking sans Horford and doesn't have an elite perimeter defender. They are a bit like last year's Indiana team: an all-world offense opposite a meh-at-best defense.
To date Michigan has been better than the Hoosiers, and they were better than IU in conference last year by a significant margin, so they should expect to fare better than that team, which went 11-7 in the league and got a four seed.
LET 'ER RIP
Well. Here we are. Preliminaries down, the Big Ten enters conference play in four tiers:
MAKE IT STOP: Purdue, Nebraska, Penn State, and Northwestern have essentially no shot at the NCAA tournament and are going to get roughed up by the rest of the league. This tier went from a couple teams to four once Tim Frazier and Drew Crawford went out for the year; instead of a gradation from Iowa/Wisconsin to Northwestern and friends there is now a cliff. Yeah, Northwestern hung in against Stanford post Crawford. Yeah, they remain the most dangerous team down here. No, they aren't going to brush against the bubble.
For teams at the top, a loss to anyone in this crew will be a fatal blow towards title aspirations. For teams attempting to scratch out a seventh or eighth bid for the league, games against these folk are must-wins to get to that 9-9 mark that will guarantee entry. For teams in this category, 2013 will be an opportunity to build character, war-movie-POW style.
I AM PEOPLE TOO: Iowa and Wisconsin aren't dreaming of conference championships after nonconference schedules of some difficulty; both are aiming for tourney bids. In Wisconsin's case, they'd like to extend their streak in an off year. In Iowa's, they're looking to break a growing drought. Each is dangerous to any team in the league at home; neither can reasonably expect to pop its head much above .500.
Also thrown in this pot despite a stellar record to date is Illinois. The Illini bomb threes and run up and down the court and can beat Gonzaga on the road and Butler in Hawaii but also
- go to OT with Hawaii
- beat Gardner-Webb by 1
- struggle with Western Carolina, Norfolk State, and EKU
- beat Auburn by 2
They've done enough already to make it in with an 8-10 conference record—maybe even 7-11—and they will be thankful for that margin with a month to go in the season. They could determine the conference championship indirectly by bombing one of the contenders and going cold against another. They will blow too hot and cold to mount a serious title challenge.
IN WITH A CHANCE: Michigan State and Ohio State seem a half-step behind the elite in the conference. With OSU it's hard to tell because their schedule is bereft of Kenpom top 100 teams save Kansas and Duke, who are 4 and 5. With no middle ground to prove themselves on we just know they tend to fold up their offense against great teams and beat up on bad ones.
State has had the opportunity to establish what they are a bit more, and that's a team that will turn the ball over against anybody and play defense against anybody. Results include beating Kansas and struggling with Louisiana Lafayette and Bowling Green. They're going to be a tough out for anyone; they're probably going to end up 2-3 games back of the conference champ.
COME AND GET US: Indiana, Michigan, and Minnesota are favorites for the title. Yes, I'm including the Gophers, who are still rounding Trevor Mbakwe into form after a tumultuous offseason. If they can get him up to starters minutes, look out: his rebounding is as crushing as it used to be and his block rate is excellent. He is an impact guy still forcing his way into the lineup and then you've got the Hollinses and Rodney Williams. The Gophers are legit.
You know about Michigan. Trey Burke, Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, and Tim Hardaway Jr. are a deadly set of complimentary offensive players that has weaned Michigan away from an over-dependence on the three-point lottery—and that lottery doesn't seem as much like a lottery with Stauskas around, anyway. They have defensive weaknesses, but their offense may be able to outdistance anyone who comes at them.
Indiana is like Indiana last year except excellent defensively. Which… well, that doesn't sound very good for opponents. Victor Oladipo has taken The Leap and now threatens Burke and Zeller for the title of best player in the conference: elite defense, 75% from two, tons of offensive rebounds, etc. Indiana remains deadly from three as well, hitting 42%. Oladipo and Jordan Hulls are 1-2 in eFG%. Despite the defeat to Butler, they have to be considered the favorite in the league, as they have a couple things Michigan doesn't quite.
PREPARE FOR FUN*
*[unless you're Penn State]
Hey folks. Hope you had a pleasant holiday. I did except for my hard drive dying, then beeping alarmingly, then resurrecting itself. Either I need a new computer or I should hand over this hard drive to SCIENCE so all can benefit from this discovery. Probably the former. Anyway…
Merry Christmas. Stauskas attempts to hit 90% from three, does:
I like to have this man on a basketball team I like.
A non-ringing non-endorsement. Hoke on the Big Ten expanding:
Michigan coach Brady Hoke suspects it won't end there.
"It's probably not finished," he said Thursday in Tampa during a segment with Michigan Radio.
Although Hoke offered no dissension toward expansion, he also didn't endorse it.
"Is it a positive? I think it's the world we live in right now," he said. "As coaches, we have no say in anything, I want you to know. The presidents make those decisions -- people way up in the food chain. But I doubt it's done."
Bo is spinning in his grave right now. As I've mentioned before, at this point I'm all for further expansion since Big Ten Old and Big Ten New (And Purdue Or Something) is a much better setup than seeing Iowa and Wisconsin and whoever else once every million years.
Meanwhile, Michigan's moving to a third hotel Monday for some reason.
Hoke quote, epic variety. Is here:
Hoke on Denard & Kovacs: "So we have a distant cousin of Bob Marley and an accountant as our captains."
Cumong man. Very frustrating to hear Will Campbell speak of his laziness early in his career:
"When I was younger, I was lazy," Campbell said. "I didn't listen as much, I didn't take everything in like I should of. There were people around me telling me, too -- it was just me not doing it."
That's one thing recruiting rankings will always struggle to encompass. Jonathan Hankins couldn't get through three consecutive reps when he hit Michigan's camp as a rising senior, but got it together and turned into a beast. Campbell had that famous picture where he's all throwing guys all over the place…
…and then he doesn't really do much until he's a senior and by then we're just happy when he's okay. Meanwhile, repetition of theme about redshirting: RR threw Campbell on the field as a true freshman despite the fact he was patently unready, and now both Michigan and Campbell probably wish they'd have one more year together in which Campbell improved on his 2012 and maybe moved into the middle rounds of the draft. The redshirt forever.
On the other hand. Will Campbell on his beach day:
It's hard out here. I done fought two sharks, wrassled a sting ray, ate two crabs--had butter out there. It's hard out here but you know how we do it, I'm from Detroit. You know, it was nothing. Two great whites, punched a whale in the face... easy day. Go Blue.
He has never lacked for entertainment. The entire segment is pretty fantastic:
Also in this category. Brendan Gibbons on pirates:
Michigan placekicker Brendan Gibbons grew up a big Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan, and has always dreamed of playing at Raymond James Stadium.
Of course, he has a perfectly logical reason for loving the Bucs.
"I like pirates," he said.
Unfortunately, we are doomed since Gibbons no longer looks like Keith Stone.
Made with weed and torn ACLs. A reader sends along a shot of a micorbrewery in Coralville, Iowa, with a very special Extra Special Bitter:
Other than the relatively low alcohol content, perfect.
Exit bizarre decision guy. MSU wing forward Brandan Kearney announced he was leaving a few days ago, leaving Izzo to grasp his hair alarmingly($) and dance on the edge of calling Kearney a danger to society:
One of the more bizarre things I’ve been involved with in coaching. Came back from Christmas and (he) just informed me he thinks he’s better off going somewhere else. Not really happy with his role, you know. Wants more role, wants to score more, wants to do this more, wants to do that more. I gotta admit, it was a little strange for me and the players when a guy’s playing 17 minutes a game, but at the same time it’s gonna open it up maybe for another guy.
Thus ends what was, in retrospect, one of the most overblown recruiting controversies in Michigan basketball history: Carlton Brundidge vs Brandan Kearney. Answer: neither, and nobody in state. Unless I missed a guy from outside the Rivals 150 who is blowing up Amir Williams is the only guy from that instate recruiting class doing anything at a major school at the moment. Michigan did get a guy named Trey Burke that year, so that recruiting class something less than a total loss.
As for the departure's impact, Kearney was playing about 40% of MSU's minutes but when the going got tough those dwindled to 6-9 per game. He was a quality defender with little offensive game; MSU will probably revert to the twin towers lineup they had scrapped earlier in the year in an apparently futile effort to cut down on turnovers. I'm not sure Kearney's departure is worth much—maybe a game—but in a brutal big ten every little bit helps, or hurts as the case may be.
Oh for pants' sake. One side of the story and all that but a former Louisville player has sued UL for cancelling his scholarship mid-year after
- two teammates attacked him in the locker room and broke bones around one of his eyes (they were later charged with assault and kicked off the team)
- he was told not to tell the doctor and other folks how he sustained those injuries
- a doctor told him to stop playing football after problems with his eyes
Cancelling a scholarship mid-year is against NCAA regulations, FWIW…
Mid-year cancellations must be for specific reasons in the NCAA bylaws or for violating a term of the scholarship agreement. Any cancellation or non-renewal requires the student-athlete to be provided written notice from the financial aid office and a hearing opportunity.
…and it seems like they could easily have medicaled the guy. I'm sure Strong and Louisville have their side of the story. Looks ugly.
As more money flows into the top echelons of the sport it's time to ask why the NCAA has such strict limits on scholarships issued. If a team wants to carry 100 scholarship players, why not let them? All of this oversigning business would be done tomorrow if the NCAA would restructure revenue sports in such a way as to encourage retention instead of attrition, as a hard cap does.
In the barn. The following six true freshman have enrolled early:
- OT Logan Tuley-Tillman
- OG Kyle Bosch
- CB Ross Douglas
- S Dymonte Thomas
- DE Taco Charlton
- TE Jake Butt
For Douglas, Bosch, and Butt the early enrollment should give them a better shot at early playing time. With the thin interior OL it's not out of the question that Bosch is in the mix to play from day one despite being an OL. Douglas will probably have to wait a year with Countess/Avery/Taylor in front of him but the fourth guy will get PT and the race is on for that spot. Thomas may play some as well; Charlton and LTT seem like obvious redshirt candidates.
All but out of the barn. Taylor Lewan:
"I have an idea what I'm doing. I'm almost positive what I'm doing. But at the end of the day, this bowl game doesn't have to do with what I'm going through. ... I'm playing football on Tuesday, Jan. 1, and I'll make my decision, and I'll talk to the coaches about it, and then we'll obviously go from there and what they want to do to get it out.
Is there something that could change his mind?
"No," Lewan said. "No."
So long and thanks for all the fish.
It all worked out. Followup on "how to schedule nonconference games": Michigan did pretty well this year despite the Binghamton game. They approach the finish line of their nonconference slate 15th nationally after playing 5 major teams and avoiding the very bottom of D-I with the exception of the Bearcats. Their peripheral numbers should be good come tourney time after slogging through the brutal Big Ten, and that'll give them a leg up on anyone with around the same record not named Duke when S-curves are plotted.
Fight. James Young vs. Derrick Walton, go:
Walton is ripping opponents for 30-40 points a game these days to go along with the point guard stuff. There will necessarily be a dip when Burke is gone next year; it may not be a huge one.
Etc.: Elliott Mealer reminisces about the bad thing. Tony Dungy drops in on Michigan. Chad Ford declares Trey Burke "firmly planted in the first round"($), so godspeed Mr. Burke. Going I-A: Why? Stop. Don't. Joe Lundardi has Iowa the last team in, Iowa fans excited. Craig Roh is about to break the Michigan record for consecutive starts.
I have just spent the last six hours watching SEC football. I feel filthy. I need a shower. But you need content so here's a little bit of stuff I've learned about Michigan's Outback opponent.
The Most SEC Team Ever
South Carolina is not just an SEC team, they are the most SEC team ever, so SEC in fact that they're coached by one Steve Spurrier. They're major over-signers, massively talented, and minimally sane. A third came from a JUCO or prep school—Fork Union Military Academy is Spurrier's
rubber-stamping [EDIT: I can't support this, see comments] prep of choice though Georgia Military or Hargrave it's all the same. They're the reason you can't just say "SEC West" when describing the epicenter of NCAA rot with any kind of geographic specificity. In good-guy/bad-guy cartoon world, they're evil's comic relief henchman who starts every sentence with "Duuuhhhh, hey boss…"
Arkansas is Bebop, SC is Rocksteady.
The Most SEC Recruiting Ever:
SC has had a lot of attrition, to put it mildly. Of the 127 players to commit to Spurrier from 2008 through this season, 39 percent (50 players) are not on today's roster. Another five came back after a year of prep school. That's two dismissals, three early NFL entries, eight graduates (six JUCOs, two 2008 non-redshirts), four quits, two medicals, two unrenewed fifths, 14 transfers, and 15 non-qualifiers (one of whom made it back to FBS w/ Arizona).
Most of the transfers, as you might have expected, conveniently occurred under an over-signing scholarship crunch. Their 127 commits is just nine more than Michigan took over the same period, however M had a lot more scholarships available with massive attrition from small classes preceding the relevant years while SC's most egregious class was the 31 taken in '06. On the other hand the attrition wasn't so evenly managed as to not cause problems; as recently as 2011 their boards have had 'Never Forget'-levels of depth chart freaking out at cornerback. Their 2009 class is down to 11 from 29. With the new scholarship limits and attrition remaining very high (seven of those transfers happened this year), Spurrier has been doing it more with JUCOs lately, offering them scholarships on an availability basis. Things like grayshirting Matt Coffee because too many kids qualified seem to have been replaced with problems like "oh god we're out of linebackers!"
That said they've pulled in a lot of talent. Star chart (Rivals) of their current roster vs. Michigan's:
The five-stars are Lattimore and Clowney, and both were considered among the best overall recruits those years. Lattimore's season is over after one of those leg injuries you cannot unsee after seeing (case example: Tyrell Dortch vs. Wisconsin). Clowney is a freak.
Because he's hard not to watch I spent a good couple of drives focusing on Clowney, who of all the great DEs Lewan has gone up against is probably still the best. Clowney is really quick off the snap, as slippery as a defensive back, and so quick with his hands it is rare to see anybody get inside on him. Added this year, his swim move made every tackle he faced look ridiculous. Georgia held him like whoa, Florida optioned him off most of the game, and Arkansas mostly ran away from him or planned quick patterns. One time Florida tried to block down on him on a sweep and Clowney shot into the backfield so fast he arrived with the pitch.
SC tried to counter by doing some funny things, stunting Clowney around the formation or dropping him into coverage. At the latter he wasn't very effective; a couple of screens he should have blown up ended up going right by him. Optioning wasn't all that effective either, since Clowney often showed the agility to reroute and make the play anyway. Only teams with fast running backs made that work, and with Toussaint out this doesn't bode so well for Michigan barring a sudden emergence from Hayes or something.
You can try to put a tight end out there to double him but then this happens:
Neither is he an awesome tackler—more often he would just get to the quarterback so fast or break the pocket so badly that another guy got to clean up. Even our pair of escape artists is small solace; Michigan's best hope is that Lewan and Schofield can handle him. What worries me here is that Gardner was most effective against Northwestern and Minnesota thanks to long, leisurely days in the pocket; those won't exist unless we solve Clowney.
The Most SEC Offense Ever:
The first thing you notice while watching non-professional SEC football is the stupid. I went in expecting to blow up every stereotype about SEC speed versus Big Ten brains only to keep having those same stereotypes confirmed, especially with their offensive line.
Mattison is going to have some fun here guys. If you come at them straight up South Carolina's line can stand in the way as well as anybody; they've got quick feet, large bodies, and don't seem to be asked to do many non-simple things. As soon as things do get not-simple it's quarterback sacky hour. Stunts work, delayed blitzes work better, and I can't wait to see them try to react to Michigan's Okie package. The tackles Corey Robinson (6'8/337 lbs./RS So) and Brandon Shell (6'6/331 lbs/RS Fr) are big and young. Robinson has good footwork and is massive but I also saw him take a lot of plays off. The freshman right tackle will be really good one day; for now he's prone to lots of mistakes. The interior OL is older, smaller, and yet even more prone to mistakes—the right guard Ronald Patrick (#67) in particular seemed to miss a heck of a lot of blitzes.
The dumb very much does not extend to the coaches. Spurrier's old "Fun and Gun" offense is mostly gone, replaced with a base shotgun, spread stuff, options, zone reads, and wide receiver screens. What hasn't changed is all the cheating that Spurrier opponents have long complained about. SC has a tendency to come out in a wedge formation (I never saw them get called for it, though the tackles are clearly lining up a yard or more off the LOS) on passing downs. I also can't remember ever seeing so many pick routes and offensive holds to get their receivers open. When they get going Spurrier will speed up the tempo however they usually get set with about 17 or so seconds on the clock.
Quarterback Stephen Garcia is gone, but his hometown is Tampa and that's plenty of excuse to dig up every Stephen Garcia thing this week. Actual Gamecocks QB Conner Shaw was out (sprained foot) for the Clemson game but is expected to be back under center for the Outback bowl. The junior doesn't have the breakaway speed of Braxton Miller or Taylor Martinez, but Shaw definitely qualifies as a dual-threat by matching either for acceleration, and usually his third read is to scramble. The leaky line has made Shaw overly jittery in the pocket; he will move around a lot and get 10 yards if you break contain; if you don't he'll hold onto it too long and drive SC fans nuts. When he's got time to set and throw Shaw will put it on the money, however he's plenty liable to run around and toss something off his back foot even when he doesn't have to, and at this he's less accurate than he thinks he is.
The effective play of Dylan Thompson (more of a drop-back) against Clemson has started a bit of QB controversy, though nobody outside of South Carolina seems to think this is a thing (see: Denard vs. Gardner).
The blitzes they mostly minimized before with play action to Lattimore (no longer an option) and a dangerous QB draw it seems Shaw is allowed to call at the line:
The receivers are like our receivers—short but capable of whoa. Ace Sanders (#1) is the slot "weapon" who we'll come back to when talking about special teams. Nick Jones, an even tinier dude, is nominally the 2nd receiver. The deep threat is Damiere Byrd (#3); at 5'9 a giant among these men, Byrd is a Gallon-like player who made a ridiculous catch against Georgia. Bruce Ellington is the Dileo of the bunch. Dudes over 6 feet are extant but mostly freshmen; when bigosity is called for they go to the tight ends. The senior and better blocker is #87 Justice Cunningham (6'4/264), though Cunningham's been a receiver option plenty (22 catches for 287 yards this season). Sophomore Rory "Buster" Anderson (6'5/218/#81) caught 21 passes for 452 yards and 8 TDs in his first two seasons. There's a freshman they use sometimes here too.
The Most SEC Defense Ever
They're a base 4-3 that goes to a nickel against spread-ish teams. That nickel ends up looking a lot like a 3-3-5 because they'll split Clowney off into a 9-tech:
If you line up in a I-form on an obvious running down they will stack the line and creep up like woah—expect to want to kill Borges at least once when he runs Vincent Smith into that.
Clowney you've heard of, but he's not all they've got. The rest of the defensive front are eh—the other end is a Pat Massey-ian 6'8 except more athletic than Massey—but the DTs are active and vicious. They're big dudes with active hands who don't provide much in the way of pass rush except to shove your center back a few yards and make things even messier once Clowney begins breaking things.
The swing player is DeVonte Holloman, who plays Spur, the roving LB-safety spot that Michigan had during our 3-3-5 days—in SC's defense it's basically strong safety or nickel back depending on formation, though Holloman is liable to line up anywhere. Free safety D.J. Swearinger is a Kovacsian dude who seems to get to the ball quickly—I'm not sure why there isn't more hype for him. It's kind of hard to get a read on anyone else since Clowney forces the play so often that the linebackers are making tackles on dumpoffs more than anything.
The senior middle linebacker Reggie Bowens (#47) is good; he doesn't read plays that quickly but he's great at staying off of blocks and picking through trash to get to a ball carrier, and Bowens is big enough that when he arrives the RB's momentum immediately stops. The other guys tend to stand around a lot. Cooper just tore his ACL and SC blogs seem to agree that one or two 2013 recruits will start (if they can recruit any—that so far has been a disaster); backups are nonexistent.
At corner I got to see why Jimmy Legree lost his job when Akeem Auguste returned (Legree turned several plays into major gainers by going for a strip), but not much else. Everything just pivots around Clowney all the time.
The recipe here seems to be creativity. If you play them straight-up it's going to be just another Clowney show but Florida did a whole bunch of interesting things and ended up moving the ball enough to win by a lot. If Michigan can utilize our talent in the backfield to probe the weakside behind Clowney there's space here to put up points.
The Most SEC Special Teams Ever
Ace Sanders averages a bazillion per return, is described as "nifty" and never ever calls for a fair catch. Too bad we can't take advantage of that. Their punters seem to have little in the way of leg, which is scary if you imagine Gallon having to run up 20 yards to make a fair catch amongst a sea of coverage all the time. This would be a good time to deploy Dileo as short returner.
On Denard, On Devin, On Russ Bellomy! On Morris, On Swieca, On Jack Kennedy!
The latest practice report is slim on information as per the norm. Bullets anyway:
- In the video Denard takes one snap with the twos (Glasgow and Braden appear in the picture), that being a QB run. He is still wearing the RB-style gloves.
- Devin appears once in a pass skeleton, completing a pass to Jackson.
- Norfleet is covering a scout teamer who is wearing 82 but is obviously not Darboh. Not-Darboh has at least 20 inches in that matchup. Hoke says he expects Norfleet will play in the bowl game.
That is all.
Are you expecting content right now? Probably not. I feel duty-bound to inform you, though, that this is the annual MGoBlog Christmas week off and there will probably not be any content unless something enormous happens. I say probably because I haven't checked in with Heiko or Seth. Due to pending bowl game, Saturday and Sunday will be active as we figure out South Carolina. Until then, enjoy the holiday with your families or robotic servants.
I'm sure you do. Youtube search feed scouring turned up something better than ads for illegal internet streams today:
Tate Forcier highlights set to Hell's Bells! Posted by… TateForcierHighlight (1 video). TateForcierHighlight thinks this about Tate Forcier:
Highlight complication of Tate Forciers 2 year career with the University of Michigan wolverines football team. He is in my opinion a under looked quarterback that is yet to prove him self.
ARGH TATE WHY DIDN'T YOU GO TO CLASS.
You are psychic, guy on facebook. The "representative comment" for the anti-Outback-uniformz faction mentioned in a previous UV asked "what's next a dubstep Victors?" Uh. Dammit, guy. Prepare for this next year:
[ED: DO NOT CLICK PLAY MGOBLOG CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY CARPETS, PETS, OR GRANDMOTHERS WRETCHED UPON AS A RESULT OF CLICKING PLAY]
nimnim2500, your evil is galaxy-spanning.
[HT: Stephen Nesbitt.]
The bereaved. Michigan State did not acquire one year of services from Jabari Parker, yesterday. Some guy at the LSJ hit "publish" on the wrong story, though, leading to the internet producing this:
Parker is kind of a big deal—the #1 recruit in the 2013 class—and MSU is currently without a 2013 recruiting class despite having two open spots after missing on a variety of other targets. So it's not good. But is it worthy of having a sleepover and reassuring Izzo that people really actually like him?
Let us come together in this time of trial when Tom Izzo only projects to have four McDonald's All-Americans on his 2013-2014 roster who kind of underperform expectations and are regarded by the NBA as poison.
This is ridiculous for a few reasons. Patrick Hruby details the extent to which Ohio State is monitoring their players now that Pryorgate has dropped:
In the wake of a tattoos-for-memorabilia scandal that violated National Collegiate Athletic Association amateurism rules and left this year’s undefeated Buckeyes squad bowl-season ineligible, the school has increased its annual athletic department compliance budget to more than $1 million and upped the size of its corresponding department to 14 full-time employees -- four more people than are on the football squad’s coaching staff. Where are the money and manpower going? Toward background checks on the 4,000-some people who receive free game tickets from football players, the better to sniff out agents and other undesirables. Toward investigating license plate numbers jotted down during regular surveillance walks through the players’ parking lot. And toward hiring a former NCAA investigator whose job, according to the New York Times, is to “educate local businesses -- like barbershops, nightclubs and tattoo parlors -- on NCAA rules.”
Rule No.1? Apparently, it’s start snitchin’.
At least all this has made the flow of money from booster to Buckeye a more annoying process. Slightly, anyway. As with most OSU waves towards legitimacy, it's designed to look good without actually doing anything. Until this thing called cash is banned, it'll still happen, but don't worry, the NCAA is working on this:
Awards received by student-athletes from a bowl game may not be sold, exchanged or assigned for another item of value.
Most bowls give out the equivalent of cash by deploying gift cards, because if they actually gave out cash they would have to stamp "NOT LEGAL TENDER" on it, and I don't think that's legal. BAN CASH.
That's one half of the brain—this is basically an unsolvable problem. The other half is: why is this a problem? Man with lots of money would like to give some of it to man without money. Man without money sees that his activities are so popular that he is overseen by man with lots and lots of money. I'd like people to follow the rules, but mostly because Michigan does, and level playing field and all this nonsense.
Aside from all the fairness reasons, your selfish Michigan fan reason to want NCAA amateurism to die in a fire is because it'll let Michigan do what plenty of other schools already do and collectively cannot stop doing.
Aw man. Kovacs's NFL prospects are not shiny:
ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. said recently that Kovacs has a shot to become a late-round pick in April's draft. But it could be a long one.
ESPN slots Kovacs as the No. 29 safety and projects him to go undrafted. Sixteen safeties were selected last year
CBSSports.com is higher on Kovacs, projecting him as a sixth- or seventh-round selection. He's ranked the 214th player overall, and the No. 6 strong safety.
I get it. I also think there's a decent chance he carves out a role for himself anyway.
HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY HEY WHAT IS GOING ON. I both agree with and dread the implications of this statement from Mitch McGary:
"I just think I need to slow down a little bit, I'm moving too fast," McGary said. "A couple games here and there, I knew what I was doing, but my body was just moving too fast."
"Coming in here, I had never really lifted a weight," McGary said. "Being as big as I am, I'm still just trying to transition into the college format. I'm just learning the offense, learning all the footwork."
He's at least a couple years from being an NBA type player but in the long term, it's probably better for Michigan that he's the #20-ish guy instead of #2.
What I am talking about. The instachuck three from Stauskas is #2:
That is contested but it's up so quick and even falling away a little that it does not matter. [Via Five Key Plays at UMHoops.] If you can do that at 6'6" you are unguardable even without the handle.
Etc.: EDSBS on the uniformz. Why Illinois won't implode this time. (My reason Illinois won't implode this time: that was a –3 STDEV event.) Roundtree fluff. RIP Bob Derleth. Beard bullets. From Rod Beard, not about Elliott Mealer. Don't play CODBLOPS drunk. Michigan showing interest in a 6'7" wing from Shane Morris's school. Trey Burke annihilating WVU.
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