I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
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I may or may not do something like this again, but UMHoops does 'em and they seem like a good idea. Since I've mentioned my general dissatisfaction with the way things have been going around here in a couple of different formats, I figure a fuller explanation is due to everyone who doesn't listen to the podcast or care about Twitter, and Twitter was about six sentences anyway.
I've gotten a lot of emails and tweets in support and while I appreciate them a great deal, I feel like it's not really all that bad and perhaps I haven't expressed any of this clearly enough. So here's an attempt.
THE BAD THING
We moved servers just before the season, and for some reason this imploded the Drupal module we were using that did the voting/comment-graying. Don't get me started on that unless you want the animated gif above to be my fate.
The new server is a champ, and was direly needed. We only blew up during the Hand commitment aftermath, and I guarantee you that the blog would have been crushed four or five other times during the year if we had not moved. At times this has been a mixed blessing—it probably would have been nice to be down after Penn State—but having your internet site on the internet is a goal.
The cost was steep, as without the obvious disapproval provided by your comment shrinking into a gray box, dumb comments multiplied and fights about those comments multiplied since there was not an obvious indicator that other people had already dismissed it. I felt this would happen but had very little time to do anything about it since this event happened smack-dab in the middle of me pounding out the 50k-word season preview.
Flaming went up, signal got obscured, and things veritably roiled.
We brought Brandon on board to be a recruiting reporter and he posted an interview with a 2016 kid; he gave us a picture in which he looked pretty young. I thought nothing of it because I follow hockey closely and there kids who don't have to shave commit all the time. (A kid born in 1998(!) just committed. The OHL speeds up their timelines.) Michigan just took a 2016 commit in football, and has a half-dozen offers out. But this resulted in a comment thread in which a lot of people made jokes about the kid not having to shave; others put on their Serious Issue faces and wondered if this was ethical. Then the prospect posted a screenshot of people making fun of him on twitter. SMH, man.
By this point we'd had a lot of crap on the board and this was a seeing-red moment. I posted a thread about how this was unacceptable, etc., whereupon there was a huge comment thread in which concern trolling featured heavily. The ethics of talking to high school kids about where they might go to college was frequent topic.
This was and is ridiculous. We're not about to Rosenberg these kids, both because we're not [REDACTED] 5'2" [REDACTED] goobers who'll do someone dirty to get ahead in the world and that going Rosenberg on someone would completely crush us with our readers, deservedly.
We're going to ask them softball questions and publish them after correcting any spelling mistakes, and you, the reader, are going to post comments like "Good luck wherever you go!" because that's the social contract we have here. That's how this works. You are going to assume that high school kids are going to read anything they can about themselves online, and we're going to throw Charmin at them in slow motion. This is not hard-hitting journalism here.
Anyway. The primary concern troll was a guy who'd been around since the very beginning of the site, chitownblue. He quit in a huff once, then came back as chitownblue2, and almost never appeared except to chide someone about something. At some point virtually everyone who writes for the site complained to me about him. The rest of the people who had posted things that broke the social contract in that thread quickly apologized; he dug in to fight the battle of the Somme. Another complaint about him happened in the midst of that thread, during which my dander was up and finger already hovering over the button. So I banned him, and various compatriots. And I've had an itchy trigger finger since.
They'd been around forever. I regret nothing, except that I waited so long. I hated that guy.
A friend sent me this post from 4chan's founder in response to similar issues he'd had, in which he cites another post from Steve Pavlina about why he shut his popular forums down. Pavlina talks a lot about entitlement of longtime users and standards that he felt weren't being met, both of which I kind of feel. But moot's thing is the thing:
Something that’s always surprised me is how often people seem to forget how large the overall 4chan community is outside of their own respective interaction with it. Some simply don’t care, but I think others plain don’t realize they’re just one of millions of people who post and browse 4chan on a monthly basis. …
My view is that it simply isn’t possible nor prudent to attempt to please everyone, and so I don’t. This can be misinterpreted as not caring, but it’s far from it—it’s just a reflection of my belief that the needs of the community outweigh the needs of individuals. Which is an ideal I think most would agree with, but when emotions run wild and tensions run high, we often lose sight of it.
The general rule of thumb is that 10% of your readers will read the comments/forums and 1% will leave most of them. I believe our numbers are quite a bit higher than that, but even so that the the primary thing that happens in the comments is lurkers reading them. From the perspective of the commenters these people do not exist. From my perspective, they're the majority of the readerbase.
Most of these people seem to like the site. They visit it. That majority has not been reflected in the comments. Of late when people recognize me I wince a bit, because I'm not sure how this interaction is going to go. I'm kind of waiting for someone to unload on me. This never happens.
As the season's gone along this disconnect has become apparent. And I'm finding the complaints harder to deal with because with the demise of voting so many of them have become personal attacks hardly sheathed in anything resembling logic. Brandon just took a lot of crap for posting that usually when recruits are open with him that means they're excited about Michigan and Malik McDowell was tight-lipped, which may not bode well. This exploded into controversy for some reason: that reason is there are a bunch of people who just complain about everything about the site.
IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S ME
Why these people can't let go and do something else, I don't know. They're locked in a prison of their own devising, being miserable about the state of the blog while they make it worse by constantly complaining about it.
I am going to help both these folks and myself escape from purgatory by hitting the eject button on them. Like this guy who has 41,000 points, most of which seem to be accumulated complaining about the site. And this guy. Great news for everyone: they're banned. Now they are free to explore the rest of the internet, perhaps to find something they don't hate.
This represents a policy change. In short, that is: if the people who write for this site hate you we will ban you. That is the upshot of the twitter burst and the podcast thing. This is not really a change for most people since we did that for anyone with a few points who came in guns blazing. This mostly applies to folks like guy I just banned who'd accumulated the third-most points on the site. I hated that guy! For three years! And out of some idea about respecting the community I let him fart all over it.
To respect the community, we should ban jerks, even if they've been around so long that it seems that there must be some redeeming value in having them around.
If you don't like the way the comments are laid out, or you think there should be more jumps, or fewer jumps, or have a substantive disagreement with what I think, or even have argument-free opinions I roll my eyes at every six months or so, fine. I have to get to know you to loathe you. All you people are good. In fact, here are protips to not get banned under this new regime:
- Don't have an avatar. You're less likely to get noticed.
- Don't be a jerk to people who write for the site. Much more difficult that #1, but still doable if you try.
- Don't constantly complain about the people I hire. If you want to send me an email, fine. Publicly crapping on the other guys who write for us is filed under jerk.
- Don't get mad at me for having a particular emotional state. This happened constantly throughout the season, as if the internet tough guys who were taking the bullets the season threw at them could somehow improve my mood by berating me.
I can understand how the last few years have put people in a place where they find me irritating after once enjoying the site, but all the comments in the world aren't going to be able to change what is primarily a sports blog about what it feels like to be a Michigan fan. If you feel differently, okay! I accept that you feel differently. If you want me to feel like you, that is an argument you are welcome to have anywhere else.
It's been a trying year for everyone, and I'm about to go figure out how to get the damned voting back on comments, so hopefully things will recede from this, their irritating zenith. Thank you to everyone who did not expect me to be an emotional clone of themselves this year, which is like 99% of you. I enjoy you.
One Play. I got really into this piece by Brhino where he went over Michigan football seasons going back to the "Year of Infinite Pain" (i.e. 2005) to point out games where one play may have meant the difference. Interesting way to reassess how we view the seasons. For example this year's team was a couple things going right away from 11-1 and a BCS bid (MSU would have still have won the Bo Division, with BCS eligibility riding on that), and a couple of things going wrong away from 4-8. I chart:
Bicking makes it cligger.
Quibble: I may be stretching "one play" too far, but Football Armageddon had that late hit out of bounds by Crable on 3rd and 15. OSU scored on that drive to go up 10. Who knows if Michigan can drive the ball the same as they did on the next possession. NFL win probability calculator says OSU was 79% to win if Crable doesn't make that hit, and 91% after the call. Fan brain says Michigan would have drove for the victory, beaten essentially the same Florida team they played the following year, and cured cancer.
Trend Lines. If you're into seeing how the rest of the Big Ten progressed on offense as this season did, dnak followed up last week's Michigan chart with some for the rest of the field. MSU is a young offense slowly growing up, Michigan's is one coached by insane people.
Hypothesis: UConn was just a bad game and the coaches over-responded to it, putting themselves behind the 8-ball the rest of the season. I submit as a different model Penn State, which had more than a few personnel shortages but big talent in places and stuck with their scheme all year, seeing noticeable progression but no spikes until the last game.
Goals! The Corsi Charts have been shelved for the moment so MGoBlueline can do those goal analysis things I like much better anyway:
Compher wins the faceoff, which is huge. Even more important, however, is that DeBlois is able to tie his man up. This allows a clean tap across from Compher to Guptill…
The OSU weekend's tallies at the link.
Charity. Tomorrow is Adopt-a-Shelter and both sites still could use some volunteers. K.o.k.Law had a tailgate at the house next door to MGoPatio, the cause being to fix up the house of an 11-year-old with a terrible illness.
Weeklies. Turnover Analysis talked about the Countess interception, which had a negative result of half a point. I still would have taken it; I think Furman stood there amazed for a second while OSU's receivers recovered, and if he hadn't he was in the exact right spot to make a key block. Turnover margin has been steadily climbing to the good since UConn, though the offense going into a shell to make that happen might have negated the good that's done. Inside the Box Score. Best and Worst talks about Ben Gedeon. LSA's usual stuff.
[Jump to learn an important lesson about swearing.]
Best of the Board
COURAGE IN THE FACE OF MYSTERY MEAT
There have been some wonderful Michigan players who came from terrible circumstances, see: Denard Robinson, Marlin Jackson, etc. But there's another type of Wolverine, and we must admit that leaving this:
Don't be shy Brady; point at what you want.
…for South Quad takes a different kind of courage. That is Hoke and Ferrigno with Bryan Mone's mom on Hoke's latest in-home visit (via Lorenz). Other coaches were visiting Malik McDowell, on whom Coach Brown can't seem to get a read.
I USED TO HATE JACKSONVILLE
Offseason mode has been engaged, yet football season hasn't ended, so we're into that month when there's usually a watching party thread for whatever day's football games. There wasn't one last night, but I went on the site hoping there'd be, because there's a Henne/Denard team to watch.
I've always seen the Jaguars as one more turquoise abomination from that period in the '90s when "investment groups" of people who don't care about sports leapt into sports franchises or created their own in any place that could plausibly fill a corporate box.
|Somewhere out there is a Johnny RBUAS column on putting so much magnificence into such a silly outfit. [Melina Vastola-USA TODAY]|
They play in a typical, soulless, bank-monikered NFL stadium with typical cat rowrz playing over the loudspeakers. I don't know if it's still true but the Jags used to have a rigid code of behavior for fans: no standing, no yelling, no anything but zombie consumption. They're in a "city" that's really one giant soulless sprawl filled by people New York didn't want and New Jersey wouldn't take. And yet recently I've found a spring there more delightful than the one de Leon (that Ponce) was looking for.
Thursday Night Football was Jags vs. Texans. Henne won again; at one point both Maurice Jones-Drew and Jordan Todman were both hurt so the Jags were down to just Denard (whom you'll be happy to know is wearing #16 now) at running back. The winning score was an Ace Sanders TD pass. You remember him. Sanders is also 6'0 and has dredlocks and wears #18 which looks like #16 at a glance, so there's a lot of "is that Denard?" moments whenever he first comes on screen. Anyway as much one more homogenized NFL team can be fun, they are. I mean, you want the other RBs to get out of Denard's way, but then have you ever seen a ball accelerate like MJD?
Relatedly, if you can stand to watch NBA, Trey Burke is awesome. #FIREDUMARS
Unrelatedly, WORLD CUP draw today at 11. Brian's friends used the Penn State trip this year to convince me anyone who likes college football will go for soccer. Because what every Michigan fan needs is another low-scoring, gut-blasting team to follow.
OHIO IS A FOUR-LETTER WORD
Here's a map of the sweariest states in the union:
Here's a map of college football interest per state:
- New England hockey parents (Vermont/New Hampshire/Connecticut) Massachusetts spared because all of their teams have won championships recently.
- Statements concerning Chicago weather
- USC message boards
- Jersey Thing (extends to Maryland in summer)
- Gary Pinkel
Your Moment of Zen
Welcome back to off-topic season:
After Jabrill Peppers announced his intention to take official visits, multiple outlets speculated that this brewing storm could very well blow over by the time Peppers has finished taking his official to Ann Arbor next weekend. According to Mike Farrell, that appears to be the case ($):
Paramus (N.J.) Paramus Catholic cornerback Jabrill Peppers made a huge splash last week when he tweeted that he was going to take official visits despite his commitment to Michigan. Now the word is that Peppers will take his official visit to Michigan on Dec. 13 with his mom and that will likely end the process. Alabama appeared to be the biggest threat to the Wolverines, but now I hear that most close to Peppers want him to stick to his word and play in Ann Arbor. Stanford was the only school everyone green lit and that apparently isn't going to happen this late. Michigan coaches will be on hand en force this Friday for Peppers' final game and then the following weekend I expect them to close things out on his official. Crisis averted barring a surprise.
Further corroboration comes from Peppers himself, who contemplated his future Michigan uniform number on Twitter yesterday:
— Breezy (@JabrillPeppers) December 5, 2013
In this case, the (mis)use of "Big Blue" is completely forgiven. The important part is Peppers wanting to follow in Charles Woodson's footsteps.
THIS CALLS FOR A FEAST.
Coach Hoke had a nice feast with the Mone family last night for his in-home visit. pic.twitter.com/DaKu7m8S0q
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) December 4, 2013
Forks are for spread enthusiasts, anyway.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Malik McDowell's top schools and visit plans, the 2014 running back situation, visit reactions from The Game, and more.]
Malik McDowell's Top 7, Visit Plans
Per Allen Trieu, Malik McDowell announced a top seven of Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Florida, Florida State, Alabama, and LSU yesterday. McDowell also received an in-home visit from Greg Mattison and Fred Jackson, who pitched the opportunity for immediate playing time, per Sam Webb ($):
“(Malik) is a key piece to what they want to do as far as having a pass rusher and him being that key piece,” said [Malik's father Greg] McDowell. “He is down to roughly close to 280. At the three-technique they want to put the kid from (the outside) last year (i.e. Chris Wormley) and move him to the middle… and then play Malik on the outside. They’re giving him that opportunity to compete for a starting position. They’re not talking about holding him back.”
The elder McDowell also passed along Malik's official visit plans: Alabama this weekend, Florida the next, with Florida State, Ohio State, and LSU also receiving visits; he doesn't need to use an official to see the two in-state schools, and he's already seen both several times. A decision won't come at the Army All-American Game, his original intention, but should come in January once he's done with his officials.
2014 Running Backs: Enwere Or Bust?
A second Michigan-related tidbit from that Mike Farrell column: four-star 2014 CO ATH Kalen Ballage will take his officials to Michigan State, Boise State, Nebraska, Washington and Arizona State, with the Spartans and Broncos considered to be his leaders. That leaves Michigan out of the picture.
However, that doesn't mean the Wolverines will necessarily strike out on running backs in this class. Three-star TX RB and Cal commit Vic Enwere will get an in-home visit from the coaches on Saturday, and he's already set up an official visit, per Tim Sullivan ($):
"I'm visiting Michigan December 13 on an official, and I'm probably going to go to Cal January 24," he added of his visit schedule. "I haven't been to Cal. This is going to be my first time going, but I've heard a lot about the school, there was enough for me to want to commit. I don't necessarily know what I'm looking for [on trips]. I want to see what the facilities look like, how the day-to-day lifestyle is there, climate, just what the players and students think of it, just the atmosphere."
It's very much worth noting that Enwere has yet to see the school he's currently committed to; he's still considering a handful of schools—including Mizzou, TCU, and UCLA—in addition to the two he's set to visit. He seems like a strong candidate to flip his commitment, and Michigan looks to be the top choice if he doesn't stick with Cal.
GBW has a litany of visit reactions from top 2015 prospects who attended The Game. A quick rundown:
- 2015 four-star OH LB Justin Hilliard said Michigan's commits were recruiting him "as much as the coaches," and the Wolverines will make the cut when he narrows his recruitment next month, per Sam Webb ($).
- 2015 in-state four-star ATH Brian Cole said Fred Jackson "is like family already," and maintained that he has no top school so far, per Webb ($). Michigan is recruiting him as a receiver while MSU is looking at him as a defensive back.
- 2015 four-star PA OT Sterling Jenkins said he "would have a home there and a family," if he committed to Michigan, though he also had very high praise for Ohio State's coaching staff in an interview with... you guessed it, Sam Webb ($).
- The only one of these prospects without an offer, 2015 IN LB Darrin Kirkland, left campus hoping that one comes soon after discussing his potential role with Coach Smith ($).
Commit Shaun Crawford was also at the Big House and told Steve Lorenz he's "100% committed to Michigan," despite recently receiving an offer from Ohio State ($). He's planning to be on campus next weekend, as well—a big weekend for visits from current commits as well as uncommitted targets.
The 2014 Rivals250 was updated this week. Jabrill Peppers remains at #2 overall; he's now the only Michigan commit in the top 100 after Drake Harris—who sat out the year with a hamstring injury—fell from #62 to #106. Touch The Banner has the full rundown; Mason Cole, Bryan Mone, and Michael Ferns all dropped a relatively small number of spots.
One of Michigan's first 2016 offers, GA TE Isaac Nauta, has Florida State at the top of his list, per Scout's Chad Simmons ($).
If you missed it, Brandon caught up with 2015 QB targets Zach Gentry and Jimmy Fitzgerald.
Central Michigan (6-6, 5-3 MAC)
Since we last spoke: Central Michigan 37, UMass 0; Central Michigan 42, Eastern 10
Pre-season Fear Level: None.
Hindsight Fear Level: 2
Best Win: Ohio (26-23)
Worst Loss: UNLV (31-21)
Season Recap: Central was not a good football team this year, but damned if they didn't get to 6 wins and bowl eligibility somehow. They won 5 of their last 7 games, but their opponents in those games were a combined 11-49. Their most impressive win over Ohio (YTO). They finished 110th out of 125 teams in FEI.
Bowls. There are too many of them.
The Michigan game in hindsight: Ah, when things were fun and the offense worked and hope was a thing.
Notre Dame (8-4)
Hope sprung eternal.
Since we last spoke: Notre Dame 23, BYU 13; Stanford 27, Notre Dame 20
Pre-season Fear Level: 7.5
Hindsight Fear Level: 7
Best Win: Arizona St (37-34)
Worst Loss: Pitt (28-21)
Season Recap: Notre Dame made a strong bid for ChaosTeam '13, beating some impressive opponents (Arizona State, Michigan State, Kiffin-exorcised USC) while losing to Michigan and Pitt and ALMOST losing to Purdue. Much-maligned quarterback Tommy Rees finished just south of 3,000 yards and 27 TDs against only 13 interceptions, but completed only 53% of his passes. TJ Jones and Davaris Daniels formed a solid 1-2 punch in the receiving corp, and Cam McDaniel led a running-back-by-committee that put up 5.2 yards per carry. You just found yourself jealous of Notre Dame, didn't you? That's a bad feeling. Don't do that again. Here. This will help.
This. Always this.
Coming into the year, we expected the defense to carry a somewhat mediocre offense. Instead, the defense may have actually been the weaker unit. The offense put up 27 points and almost 400 yards per game, and scored 20 or more points in every game other than USC (when Tommy Rees was hurt) and Michigan State (when obviously). The back seven of the defense, however, never really gelled, and they finished as a middle-of-the-pack team in most advanced stats (30th in defensive FEI, 51st in Def SP+).
The Michigan game in hindsight: Once again, Notre Dame played Lucy to Michigan's Charlie Brown. DAMNIT NOTRE DAME STOP GIVING US FALSE HOPE EVERY YEAR.
[after the jump: everyone else is better than you think except Michigan and the teams who beat them]
Akron (5-7, 4-4 MAC)
We didn’t listen…
Since we last spoke: Akron 31, Toledo 29 (W)
Pre-season Fear Level: 1.5
Hindsight Fear Level: 2.5
Best Win: Toledo (31-29)
Worst Loss: Louisiana-Lafayette (35-30)
Season Recap: Akron won 5 games, including 4 of their last 5 (albeit over 3 turrible teams and 7-5 Toledo). They even stayed within a score of Northern Illinois and played a respectable game against Ball State. Terry Bowden did a comparatively masterful job turning a perpetual cellar-dweller into the kind of team that might emerge from the cellar from time to time to grab a snack from the fridge.
The Michigan game in hindsight: You could argue that given what we know now, a loss to Akron would have only been terribly embarrassing rather than historically embarrassing. Yippee. But while the sheer terror of that 4th and goal from the 2 yard line was eventually displaced by the soul Novocain that was the Big Ten season, think back to that moment. That was freeking terrifying.
UConn (2-9, 2-5 AAC)
Since we last spoke: UConn 28, Temple 21 (W!), UConn 28, Rutgers 17 (W!!!)
Pre-season Fear Level: 2.5
Hindsight Fear Level: 1.5
Best Win: Rutgers (28-17)
Worst Loss: Towson (33-18)
Season Recap: UConn was never going to be a titan, but few would have expected them to be this abominable. Whereas the Akron nailbiter might look slightly better in the rearview mirror, the UConn nailbiter looks even worse. Despite a late-season dead cat bounce that took down Temple and Rutgers (I’m looking at you with Jim Delany face, Jim Delany), the Huskies’ season cost them their head ‘coach,’ Paul Pasqualoni, before October even arrived…
The Michigan game in hindsight: …and Michigan was down to these gomers by two touchdowns in the second half.
More than anything, I think this was the most damaging game of the year. Somewhere during or shortly after this game, it felt like the coaches determined that they had to rein in Devin Gardner because the turnover risks of a wide-open playmaking offense outweighed the rewards.
Minnesota (8-4, 4-4 B1G)
Since we last spoke: Wisconsin 20, Minnesota 7 (L); Michigan State 14, Minnesota 3 (L)
Pre-season Fear Level: 3.5
Hindsight Fear Level: 6
Best Win: Nebraska (34-23)
Worst Loss: sigh… Michigan (42-13)
Season Recap: What if I told you a team could ride a boring, one-dimensional, clock-murdering offense and a mediocre defense to an 8-win season? You’d tell me “this is the worst 30 for 30 ESPN has ever done.” Two years removed from Gopher
Quest, Minnesota showed real, actual progress. Despite Jerry Kill’s midseason hiatus to try to get his epilepsy under control, Minnesota ripped off consecutive wins over Northwestern, Nebraska, Indiana, and Penn State.
You will rarely find a more lopsided conventional offense than that run by 2013 Minnesota. They ran the ball 548 times and threw the ball 237. That’s a 70/30 split, and the reason was pretty clear: they ran for 4.4 yards per carry, and only threw for 7.2 yards per pass. And while their games were far from exciting, they lasted an average of about an hour and 40 minutes.
In the ‘names to watch next year,’ the name that jumps out is Maxx Williams. Williams is a hybrid tight end type who caught 20 passes (which was second on the team. Again. 20 catches. Second on the team) for 341 yards and 4 scores. Also, his name has 2 x’s
The Michigan game in hindsight: This actually looks pretty okay in hindsight. Michigan scored 5 touchdowns in 8 offensive possessions on a team that turned out to be above-mediocre. Although why Michigan keeps busting out their new stuff against Minnesota every year is beyond me. 2011 was the diamond/Fritz formation. 2012 was the Devin Gardner ill-advised double-back scramble that become a touchdown through magic beans of some kind. 2013 was the tackle over.
Penn State (7-5, 4-4 B1G)
Other guys played, too. Probably.
Since we last spoke: Nebraska 23, Penn State 20 (L); Penn State 31, Wisconsin 24 (W!?)
Pre-season Fear Level: 3/8
Hindsight Fear Level: 5
Best Win: Wisconsin (31-24)
Worst Loss: Indiana (44-24)
Season Recap: I didn’t really know what to make of Penn State at the beginning of the year. They had some top-flight talent (see: Allen Robinson, that one wide receiver, and Robinson, Allen), but had mediocre depth as a result of the sanctions. In the end, they ended up being pretty mediocre. They had one shocker over Wisconsin and one mildly impressive win over Michigan. Past that, their best win was probably Syracuse. They went to overtime against ILLINOIS. AT HOME.
The brightest spot for Penn State was, of course, Allen Robinson. Robinson caught 97 passes for 1432 yards and 6 TDs. The next guy on the list had 333 yards receiving. Zach Zwinak nearly hit the 1000 yard mark on the ground, and Bill Belton had 800 yards at over 5 yards per carry. Like I said, they had talent. They just weren’t a very good team.
The Michigan game in hindsight: What Michigan game? Never happened.
Indiana (5-7, 3-5 B1G)
Since we last spoke: Ohio State 42, Indiana 14 (L); Indiana 56, Purdue 36.
Pre-season Fear Level: 4
Hindsight Fear Level: 3
Best Win: Penn State (44-24)
Worst Loss: Navy (41-35)
Season Recap: WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
Indiana's last game pretty mucn encapsulated their season. Indiana put up 692 yards of offense and 56 points. But they allowed Danny "Danny Etling" Etling to throw for 485 yards and 4 TDs with no picks. Re-read those stats for a second. And remember to breathe. This kind of stuff can overpower your autonomic nervous system.
Indiana’s offense was a toddler who found the pixie sticks. The defense was that same toddler trying to do calculus while riding the dog like it’s a small horse. The offense finished 14th in offensive FEI. The defense finished 110th. Even GERG is staring at that split like ICP staring at a magnet.
The key to Indiana’s offensive success was their tempo. They were running a play every 20 to 25 seconds for good chunks of the season. As a team, they gained over 6,000 yards; 3600 through the air, and 2400 on the ground. The problem, though, was that every time Indiana scored, they would kick the ball to the other team, who would usually then score right back. They gave up at least 35 points in 10 of 12 games (against everyone but Penn State and Bowling Green).
The Michigan game in hindsight: “Maybe we should tighten up our coverage on the guy with 300 receiving yards in this game.”
Michigan State (11-1, 8-0 B1G)
Since we last spoke: Michigan State 30, Northwestern 3 (W); Michigan State 14, Minnesota 3 (W)
Pre-season Fear Level: 8
Hindsight Fear Level: 9
Best Win: Nebraska (41-28) or Michigan (29-6)
Worst Loss: Notre Dame (17-13)
Season Recap: Don’t let that preseason Fear Level fool you. We were laughing at Sparty a couple of weeks into the season. And we were laughing haaaaaard. Now, in our defense, holy crap did that offense look bad in the first two games against Western Michigan and South Florida. But then three things happened: Michigan State settled on a starting quarterback who was not Andrew Maxwell, they established a primary running back in Jeremy Langford, and they got better at their base sets through repetition (THERE IS A LESSON TO BE LEARNED HERE, METHINKS). As a result, their offense was able to move the ball. They still weren’t good, mind you (75th in offensive S&P+, 46th in offensive FEI), but they never needed to be. They just needed to be mediocre and let that defense do things.
And oh lawdy, that defense. 11.8 points per game. Turnovers. Defensive scores. General mayhem. As a result, Michigan State became the first Big Ten team to go 8-0 in conference and win all of its games by double digits since Michigan did it… in 1943. Someone offer Pat Narduzzi a job. I don’t care what it is or where it is or how much you have to pay him.
The Michigan game in hindsight: Sparty it’s said never gives up her dead when the winds of November come blowin’…
If the UConn game took the wind out of Devin Gardner’s sails, the Michigan State game snapped the mast in half and ran the ship aground on large, pointy rocks. As someone who attended that game, I felt genuinely bad for him. And for my eyeballs. This game probably cost Michigan a win the next week against Nebraska.
Nebraska (8-4, 5-3 B1G)
Since we last spoke: Nebraska 23, Penn State 20 (OT) (W); Iowa 38, Nebraska 17
Pre-season Fear Level: 7
Hindsight Fear Level: 6
Best Win: sigh #2… Michigan (17-13)
Worst Loss: Minnesota (34-23)
Season Recap: You get the feeling that Bo Pelini’s time on Nebraska’s sidelines is rapidly approaching a end. In fact, long-time Nebraska coach Bo Pelini suggested in a press conference that Nebraska might want to go ahead and fire Bo Pelini after their beat-down at the hands of Kirk Ferentz.
Nebraska wasn’t terrible. They won 8 games despite losing Taylor Martinez for much of the conference season. The defense turned out to be less abysmal than had been anticipated, though they couldn’t stop anybody… and I mean ANYBODY… from running the ball. Ameer Abdullah was probably the best running back in the Big Ten. But in Lincoln, 8 wins with a schedule that soft (one of which required a Fat Guy Hail Mary against Poor Damn Northwestern) just isn’t good enough.
The Michigan game in hindsight: Other than presuming that Akron and UConn would be blowouts, I probably made my worst Week One prediction in the Nebraska section:
“Devin Gardner might run for a billion yards”
Oops. I also predicted it to be a shootout. And I’m allowed to write about football. It’s like the credentialing process for the internet is lax or something.
Northwestern (5-7, 1-7(!) B1G)
Wha ha happen?
Since we last spoke: Michigan State 30, Northwestern 6 (L); Northwestern 37, Illinois 34 (W)
Pre-season Fear Level: 7
Hindsight Fear Level: 3.5
Best Win: Uh… Illinois (37-34)? Syracuse (48-27)?
Worst Loss: Minnesota (20-17)
Season Recap: Damned if anyone saw this coming. Northwestern was 4-0, ranked #16, and led #4 Ohio State in the 4th quarter. Two months later they had lost 7 straight.
Part of the reason everyone was so optimistic about this year was that last year they lost their three games in what seemed like terribly snakebitten fashion. But instead of reverting to the mean, they instead doubled down by insulting Jourdan Lewis’s gypsy. They had a bunch of chances to beat Ohio State. They lost by 3 to Minnesota. They lost in overtime to Iowa. They lost in quadruple overtime to Michigan after Michigan executed the #DileoPowerSlide circus clown field goal. And the coup de grace, they lost on a 50 yard hail mary on the last play of the game against Nebraska.
Part of it was schedule, as Northwestern’s crossover opponents were Wisconsin and Ohio State (i.e. the only two good teams in the Leaders division). Part of it was injury, as neither Kain Colter nor Venric Mark could get healthy. But whatever it was, the offense just never got going. After scoring 30+ in their first 5 games, they scored 6, 17, 10, 24, 9, and 6 points in regulation in their next 6 games before scoring 37 against Illinois (which translates to like 12 points worth of actual points)
The Michigan game in hindsight:
Iowa (8-4, 5-3 B1G)
Since we last spoke: Iowa 24, Michigan 21 (W); Iowa 38, Nebraska 17 (W)
Pre-season Fear Level: Giant Noodle. 4.5
Hindsight Fear Level: Giant Noodle. 6.5
Best Win: Nebraska (38-17)
Worst Loss: Northern Illinois (30-27)
Season Recap: Iowa turned out to be surprisingly decent-to-good. Their four losses were to Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and undefeated Northern Illinois. Hurray Iowa.
The Michigan game in hindsight: Why?
Ohio State (12-0, 8-0 B1G)
Since we last spoke: Ohio State 42, Indiana 14 (W); Ohio State 42, Michigan 41
Pre-season Fear Level: 8.5
Hindsight Fear Level: 8.5
Best Win: Wisconsin (31-24)
Worst Loss: Michigan in the alternate Universe where Devin Gardner had an extra beat and found Jeremy Gallon breaking open (43-42)
Season Recap: Won many games. Play one more this weekend against Michigan State. Let’s go meteor.
The Michigan game in hindsight:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
An annual tradition: the post where I spit out a bunch of hockey thoughts right after football season ends.
Andrew Copp emoji state.
AT RIGHT: Friday night immediately after OT goal
They are going to the tournament. Michigan's fantabulous 10-2-1 record has come against a tough slate of opponents; unadjusted win percentage has M's opponent's third; the more sophisticated KRACH system has them 12th. As a result they are second in both RPI and KRACH, behind only Minnesota. They're also tied for second in the revamped Pairwise*. Unless they implode, Michigan is on pace for a bid. Hell, they're on pace for a one seed.
They are living on the edge. Michigan isn't as good as their record. Don't take it from me, take it from Red, who said something along those lines a few weeks ago. They have played only three games not decided by one goal: 3-1 over BC, 6-0 over Niagara, and 7-4 over RIT. Hooray winning one goal games and all, but:
- Michigan is 3-0-1 in five minute OT sessions.
- Their goalies have a collective .937, and that's not because every shot is from the blue line.
- Shots for and against are dead even at 428.
- Pythagorean expectation (upshot: goal differential is a better predictive metric than record) works just as well in the NHL as it does MLB, and Michigan is 7th in scoring margin, way behind the Gophers.
Who's happy with #7 in goal differential? Everybody. But they're not playing like the elite team their record and the rankings suggest. There's no denying they've had a hefty helping of fortune so far and replaying this season results in a record this good maybe 5% of the time.
The blue line is a large problem. Bennett's great; everyone else is worrisome at best. The OSU comeback Monday was a collection of gross errors from the defense corps, from Chiasson wandering out to a player behind the net without putting his stick down, thus allowing a centering pass right through him, to Downing sliding his way behind the net on a 4 on 3. On Friday, Clare threw a blind backhand pass behind his own net with three minutes left in a one goal game instead of chipping the puck out of the zone; five seconds later it was no longer a one-goal game.
With Serville hurt, Michigan turned to junior forward Andrew Sinelli as the #6 D, and my buddy and I went from panicking about this to wondering if Michigan would sit Clare in favor of him when Serville was back. Since he hardly saw a shift late Monday you'd think the answer to that is undoubtedly "no," but Spath says he's threatening Serville:
"I like his quickness," Berenson said. "He's a good skater. He goes back to get the puck and he'll win that race. He'll take a hit to make a play. And he's a defensive forward so he has good defensive instincts in our zone."
Szuma missed some time with a concussion but after a long and thorough rest, he's back at practice. It appears, though, that for now, Sinelli has won the job and he will be given every chance to compete with Serville to be the Maize and Blue's sixth defenseman.
Chiasson has apparently slid past Serville to solidify his job, which makes sense to me. Clare holding his spot without threat… not so much.
Sinelli is much defter with the puck than most of Michigan's available defensemen and surprisingly physical for a small guy. He effectively pinned a bunch of guys to the boards and didn't make any glaring errors. He could help. This is both an endorsement of Sinelli and a cocked eyebrow at the rest of the crew.
But hey Bennett. Getting any scoring from the D has been the main issue with Michigan's offense so far. They're 16th in scoring with virtually no contribution from the D. Bennett pulled both of those OSU games out of the fire, first with the great stretch pass embedded above, then with a plunge into the goal mouth to take a cross-ice pass from Chiasson(!) to complete the World's Most Dangerous Goal.
If that had rebounded such that OSU got a quick breakout that was a 3-on-1 developing with Di Giuseppe back. Yikes. But it went in, so hooray.
Guptill's penalty shot against BU is one of five goals on the year for him [Bill Rapai]
The forwards are deep with little top end. I love me some Copp and Compher, who just scored two of the dirtiest crease goals Michigan's put in since… well, it's been a while since Michigan's had a true goalmouth fiend. Those guys bring value beyond their scoring lines and both are at a PPG.
But while it seems like Di Giuseppe, Nieves, Moffatt, and Guptill is a hell of a supporting cast, not a lot is happening 5 on 5 here. Those scoring line veterans have six goals 5v5 in 13 games. That's a little disappointing. The power play, clicking at 25%, is keeping everybody afloat right now; they're going to have to get some more even strength production if they're going to keep winning games if and when the save percentage and PP come back to earth.
Speaking of clicking. The turnaround in the power play is kind of incredible. Last year their single idea was get the puck to Trouba, and this was an okay enough idea to get Michigan to 19%. The year before they were completely miserable at 15%; they were at 17% the year before. All of these numbers seemed deserved.
This year's number also seems deserved. Michigan gets much better puck movement and regularly finds guys for cross-ice bombs that have been the most effective way to put the puck in the net since NHL 94. I don't get why it's happening this year instead of previous years, but I'll take it.
Inexplicable player enthusiasm of the year. Always one guy on the team who does nothing statistically but I find a way to advocate anyway, and this year it's Zach Hyman. Hyman's 1-2-3 line is obviously bleah. I still manage to think that he's much better at coming out of the corners with a purpose than anyone else on the team and should be flanked by two skilled players to take advantage of his ability to create offense off the cycle.
He seems like a different player, even if the stats aren't showing it. Remember this if he blows up in the next 20 games. Forget it if he doesn't.
No Racine is no problem. [Bill Rapai]
Goaltending is weird. Steve Racine started Monday's game out with some shaky rebound control before righting the ship and turning in one of the best four goals allowed performances you'll see; he has a .925 this year, building on the .920 he put up in the final ten games of his freshman season. And this is nothing compared to Nagelvoort, who's putting up Hunwick numbers: .945, 1.65 GAA.
Quite a difference there… and sad to say probably not a sustainable one. Teams that manage to have those kinds of save percentages over the course of the year are generally Cornell or Ron Mason-era MSU teams that place a heavy emphasis on defense and conservatism; Michigan just scored on a cross-ice goalmouth pass from D to D. Meanwhile, the shaky defense corps is giving up a ton of Grade A opportunities, and eventually those are going to start going in unless Michigan gets it together.
Even if it's not sustainable, that's 23 consecutive games of goaltending ranging from high quality to outstanding. At some point the sample size is about as good as its going to get, and we can put the terrible memories of last year behind. That point is coming up very soon.
Is Josh Blackburn still working with Michigan's goalies as a volunteer? Can someone buy him a smoothie or something?
The rest of the league is Minnesota and poop. I fielded a couple of questions about why I was high on Minnesota instead of Wisconsin and didn't really have an answer other than "Wisconsin always does this," and Wisconsin is doing it again: they're 4-5-1 on the year and just got swept by the Gophers in their first Big Ten series; they got blown out by both Boston schools. And they're probably the third best team in the league. The rest:
- OSU is 8-6 with seven of their wins against Robert Morris, Niagara, Canisius, and BGSU (a split with UMD is the final win). They played well against Michigan but still got swept; they were swept by Miami in their first series of the year, and Miami's not that good right now.
- MSU is 5-7 with 4 wins over American International (3-8) and Princeton (3-10); they were recently swept by Michigan Tech.
- Penn State is 3-7-1 with wins over Army, Robert Morris, and Sacred Heart; they were swept by Air Force and Union.
- Minnesota leads the nation in goal differential and is rather good at hockey. They've beaten UNH and taken a three point weekend from BC, plus split against ND.
Minnesota's the heavy favorite to win the league, and Michigan should finish second. No one else is likely to make the tournament.
*[I don't have a handle on what the changes did yet. In previous years I've downplayed the Pairwise until late in the season due to its volatility, preferring RPI as a better projection of where you would finish in the PWR at the end of the year than the actual PWR. If that seems like a dumb ranking system to you, well, at least they overhauled it?]
In HTTV last year we made a strange assertion: that given the relative drop-off to their replacements, Kovacs would probably be missed more than Denard Robinson. I thought I'd pose the question now concerning this year's seniors, except there's one guy who could have gone 1st overall in the NFL draft LAST YEAR, and he's being replaced by either a member of the worst interior offensive line in Michigan memory or a guy who couldn't beat out one of those guys for playing time.
|Actually, #2 Taylor Lewan's twosie and #3 Taylor Lewan's pet pig are also out of the running. [Upchurch]|
So, OTHER than that guy,
Which senior will Michigan miss most next season?
Ace: I'll leave a couple very strong candidates aside—namely, Jeremy Gallon and Thomas Gordon—and go to the other bookend of the offensive line, Michael Schofield. Michigan already needs to get much (much) better play out of the interior of the line next year, not to mention a major step up in blocking from the backs and tight ends. Losing not just one, but two NFL-quality tackles means the Wolverines once again head into a new season with major uncertainty up front.
I expect the interior line to be better, especially since some of the true freshmen who weren't viable options this season—especially Patrick Kugler and David Dawson—should at least be ready to compete for a spot on the two-deep. Losing Schofield along with Lewan, however, means that there's almost no margin for error with the new tackles; Michigan needs to find two decent starters out of Ben Braden, Erik Magnuson, and... that's about it.
I guess Dawson could play right tackle, as could Kyle Kalis, but both are more natural fits inside. Chris Fox, coming off a major knee injury that delayed his freshman progress, and Logan Tuley-Tillman, a raw-upside prospect with a heavy emphasis on raw, probably won't be ready to step in and be very effective.
Losing Lewan hurts the most, of course; that's compounded by the absence of Schofield—who really came into his own this year—leaving Michigan with, at best, four relatively unproven players competing for two open tackle spots while the interior of the line is still very much a question mark.
[After the jump: Pining for (Scho)fields]
Mathlete: My ranking of which seniors will be missed the most in 2014 (as ranked by projected drop off from position due to their loss, accounting for replacement).
- Taylor Lewan. Not much to add here, All American tackles don't grow on trees, even at Michigan.
- Jeremy Gallon. My research continually points to wide receiver experience as the most underrated predictor of offensive success. I think a big case could be made to have him at the top of this list.
Michigan must replace the most ninja holder ever as well as the guy who kicked it. [Upchurch]
- Quinton Washington. A quietly strong season and with Pipkins injury, no backups with quality experience
- Michael Schofield. Losing a pair of NFL tackles is bad, but it can't be as bad as this year, right? Please tell me it can't be worse.
- Thomas Gordon. Can Jordan Kovacs come back and pretend to be a 20 year old walk-on again?
- Jibreel Black. A solid piece of a solid defense. Not impossible to replace but will be missed.
- Drew Dileo. Do we know if Norfleet can slide into holder's position on the fire drill field goal, or does he just teleport? That's a silly question, of course he teleports.
- Brendan Gibbons The kicker you know is always better than the kicker you don't. Unless you're Alabama.
- Fitzgerald Toussaint. This isn't a knock of Poor Damn Toussaint or a total vote of confidence in Derrick Green, but all but the best of running backs are virtually interchangeable.
- Cam Gordon. I always liked watching him play and was glad to see him stay on the field after Jake Ryan's return.
- Courtney Avery. It's weird having a captain this low, but never was able to generate much in the way of on-field production.
- Jeremy Jackson. Wanted: Blocking wide receiver for running plays, I mean any play, it could be run or pass, you'll never know which one it is until it's too late
Brian: I'm with Ace: Schofield. Doubly lost in the shuffle because everyone goes eeee about Lewan and oooo about the offensive line as a whole, Schofield quietly rounded into an All Big Ten caliber tackle his senior year. I didn't have a minus for him in the wasteland that was the Michigan State game--think about that. And when's the last time some dude ran past Schofield for a pressure that wasn't caused by miscommunication on a protection? It's honestly hard to think of one. Yeah, Mel Kiper's hair but most of what he talks about now he's getting from NFL scouts and teams and he's now talking up Schofield as a second or third round pick. That would not surprise me; at the very least he will go in the middle rounds.
Meanwhile, Michigan's offensive line recruiting has been good but is short on sure things at tackle. Assume Magnuson plugs in at left tackle and your battle is between redshirt sophomore Ben Braden and a trio of redshirt freshmen: David Dawson, who is short for a tackle, Logan Tuley-Tillman, who is raw raw raw, and Chris Fox, who was listed at 338 on the roster and was coming of a catastrophic knee injury.
|The book on Ben Braden is he's not a guard, is why you didn't see much of him this year. That leaves hope that he's still ahead of the rest of the young OL. [Upchurch]|
There are going to be a lot more times that you miss Schofield next year than anyone departing on the defense, and with Funchess around the sting from losing Gallon will be mitigated by the receivers playing very well.
Ace: Just to add to this from a recruiting perspective, the 2014 class is very strong at receiver: Drake Harris, Moe Ways, and Freddy Canteen all have the ability to step in and play early, and they each bring something different. Harris has great speed and jump-ball skills on the outside, Canteen is a lethal route-runner who could turn into an oversized slot ninja, and Ways is an all-around possession receiver—I strongly urge you to check out his senior highlights, which are way better than his junior film. With Amara Darboh returning from injury and the emergence of Funchess, the wide receiver corps should be strong next year even without Gallon, especially if one or two of the 2013 freshmen—Jaron Dukes, Da'Mario Jones, and Csont'e York—can contribute.
At safety, Gordon's absence should be mitigated by a healthy Jarrod Wilson, and then Michigan just needs one more safety to emerge from a talented group that includes Dymonte Thomas, Jeremy Clark, Delano Hill, and Josh Furman—plus potentially Jabrill Peppers if the coaches decide he'll contribute the most from that spot. Hopefully one of Hurst/Poggi/Wormley/Ash will emerge alongside Henry—that's four bullets in the chamber before we get to a potentially healthy Pipkins and incoming freshman Bryan Mone, who's certainly got the size to see the field early.
|Yeah, Jarrod Wilson will be fine at one safety position, but Furman immediately reminded us how bad safety had been until Gordon took the starting job in 2011. Dymonte Thomas's hype: please come to the realization aisle. [Upchurch]|
While Michigan has a pair of solid offensive linemen in the fold for 2014 in Mason Cole and Juwann Bushell-Beatty, we all know that true freshmen competing on the offensive line is a bad, bad sign.
BiSB: Since everyone else took my actual answer (Schofield), I'll say Thomas Gordon. Gordon wasn't spectacular, but he was solid and reliable at position that (a) has limited depth, and (b) has a sizable learning curve. Beyond Jarrod Wilson and (presumably) Dymonte Thomas, depth gets dicey in a hurry. Jeremy Clark has shown flashes, but against weak competition. Delano Hill is a freshman and Jabrill Peppers will only have a couple of months on campus by the time Appalachian State rolls into town (editorial note: /vomits). At this point Josh Furman is what he is, and the thing that he is doesn't fill me with great confidence. Maybe Blake Countess pulls a Marlin Jackson and plays some safety? I dunno. It's scary. Never Forget, ya know?
But seriously, Schofield. Lost in the shuffle of the interior line's... uh... shuffling, the tackles were remarkably consistent in both production and health. Excluding the Penn State game in which Lewan went down for a half, AJ Williams probably had the third-most snaps at tackle because REMEMBER TACKLE OVER? Even if Magnuson and Braden win their respective spots and are really really good, assuming they'll stay healthy for 12 games is begging to be kicked in the dangly bits, especially when redshirt freshmen are on the two-deep. An injury at tackle might even screw up the interior if they have to bump Bosch or Dawson outside.
Seth: Stribling is another 'oh shit' candidate at safety. My hope is Dymonte Thomas is ready to play strong by next fall, and that's not a hard hope. Both he and Hill are burned redshirts I think we'll be upset about down the road; I never saw much from Jeremy Clark except he's Shazor-sized.
Anyway, I wrote the question with Schofield in mind. Reading your answers I've kinda started to wonder something else: Who do we miss most from last year? I'm sure I would have said Jordan Kovacs, and today I'd feel stupid because as much as I love Gardner, obviously Denard. Or maybe...Patrick Omameh?
So I'm going to be the guy who says Gallon will be missed more. To whit:
1. He may be the best blocker of anyone with receiver eligibility. The bubble screen game was just about the only vanilla thing Michigan's been able to do on offense this year, and it works because Gallon has been excellent at that pick block. When the best part of the offense was that inverted veer, a secret reason it was so effective at generating long Gardner lopes was Gallon consistently burying himself under the cornerback who should have been out harassing it.
|Attempt at Gallon praise 314: greatest player in the history of Michigan football to resemble a character in a cop drama since that guy who looks like NCIS's Mark Harmon.|
2. He keeps Funchess clean. Michigan had Gallon--size be damned--lining up as the X receiver, i.e. the one on the line. His ability to consistently fight off press coverage is uncanny, and I think it's the reason Borges never feared to use stack formations so often, since you can trust Gallon will get into his route cleanly and not slow up the other guys' routes. Who's on the line now? Funchess has a size advantage but he tends to get jammed. Chesson probably.
3. He can get open many ways. Funchess's game is pretty straightforward: that good ol' fashioned size and speed combo that allows you to play above defenders' heads (needs to not drop so many balls). But Gallon is Inspector Gadget. He's got the little bugger's quicks to beat coverage on underneath routes--why he's open so often on hitches and out routes--but he can also go up and get a fade or catch a fly route or go across the middle. The ability to turn himself invisible against teams from Indiana has been especially useful. There is one corner I've ever seen do a fair job of covering all the things Gallon can do to you, and that's Bradley Roby last year.
4. He's a running threat while still being a deep threat. The motion stuff with him works where it might not with, say, Norfleet.
5. Nobody else has played except Funchess and Chesson. A massive difference between your receiver's talent and that of the guy covering him is one of those things college offenses can exploit like a well. But if you don' t have that talent gap, the learned skills become paramount, and Michigan is graduating four out of the six receivers who've seen snaps. Dileo leaves, and while they weren't very effective receivers it's well to note that Joe Reynolds and Jeremy Jackson were the 5th and 4th receivers this year.
Drake Harris is the closest to a freak of the incoming/redshirting crowd; he's not going to out-talent MSU though. Darboh will need some time to get comfortable. The other guys I wouldn't expect to be better than Jackson was this year. But somebody other than Funchess will have to be a mismatch or else the defense will be able to key on him. In an offense predicated on winning 1-on-1 talent matchups at the skill positions, Michigan's offense is going to be short one we've had for awhile.
Nothing against Schofield, and not underplaying how much he'll be missed (though some coach types think the UFR's have been a bit confirmation-biased in not knocking Schofield for communication issues). But Gallon is easily one of the greatest football players we've had at Michigan in the last few decades, and losing a player that far ahead of regular Big Ten competition is a big deal.
P.S. Defensively I'm saying Jibreel Black. He, not Q, was Michigan's most productive defensive lineman. We said playing a 280 guy at 3-tech wouldn't go very well unless that dude was getting into the backfield with freakish regularity. Well, he was doing so enough that he played a bunch at nose once Willie Henry was ready.