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Michigan (14-13, 7-8 B1G) at
Maryland (23-5, 11-4)
College Park, Maryland
|WHEN||Noon ET, Saturday|
|LINE||Maryland -8 (KenPom)|
PBP: Bob Wischusen
Analyst: Dan Dakich
Right: Testudo, circa 1942. Yes, that's intended to look like a turtle.
Once again, it doesn't look like Derrick Walton will be available. John Beilein said today that Walton underwent X-rays (negative) earlier this week, then tried to return to basketball activities on Thursday, but didn't complete the workout.
Despite the win over Ohio State, Michigan is still on the NIT bubble. They're projected as a six-seed on three NIT bracketology sites. In all likelihood, the Wolverines are going to need to win two of their last three regular season games (securing a winning record) and perhaps one more in the BTT to secure a bid. Remember, that NIT bubble shrinks every time there's a surprise conference tournament winner that wouldn't otherwise make the NCAAs.
As Drew Hallett points out, there's another seeding watch: BTT seeding, which could become very important if Michigan loses two of their last three. If the season ended right now, Michigan would be the nine-seed, playing #8 Illinois in the second round for the right to face top-seeded Wisconsin in the quarterfinals. That scenario is far from ideal, of course, but Michigan likely has to win out and get help to rise to the #7 seed and avoid the Badgers.
Winning this game would have a small chance of helping out Michigan's BTT seeding; more importantly, it would clear a major hurdle towards securing an NIT bid.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||2||Melo Trimble||Fr.||6'3, 190||86||25||No|
|Impressive freshman gets to line a ton, hits outside shots.|
|G||44||Dez Wells||Sr.||6'5, 215||74||31||No|
|Handles ball a lot. Selective but very efficient 3P shooter. Draws contact.|
|G||20||Richaud Pack||Sr.||6'4, 190||59||12||Kinda|
|Very underwhelming shooting numbers, but gets to the line.|
|F||10||Jake Layman||Jr.||6'9, 205||73||22||No|
|Skilled stretch 4 who can shoot, attack the basket, defend, and play the 5.|
|C||35||Damonte Dodd||So.||6'11, 245||36||14||Very|
|Good rebounder and shot-blocker, but very turnover- and foul-prone.|
|F||1||Evan Smotrycz||Sr.||6'9, 235||50||17||Kinda|
|Fully grown Lobstrycz having a very down shooting year.|
|F||11||Jared Nickens||Fr.||6'7, 200||45||14||No|
|Spot-up gunner hits 40% of threes.|
|F||25||Jon Graham||Sr.||6'8, 230||30||14||Very|
|Low usage rebounding specialist. Especially good on offensive glass.|
Maryland has only lost one home game all season—to #2 Virginia, way back in early December. On Tuesday, they successfully defended their turf against Wisconsin, pulling off a 59-53 upset.
No, this won't be easy.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Maryland's attack is highlighted by a couple of attacking guards. Melo Trimble has been one of the most impressive freshman in the conference. A proficient outside shooter, Trimble gets most of his production attacking the basket—his free throw rate is over 72%, and he hits 87% of his freebies. Dez Wells, the team's lead guard, is a more selective—and more efficient—three-point shooter who also gets to the line frequently. Both are solid, not spectacular, at distributing the ball without turning it over.
Richaud Pack regained his starting role this month after briefly losing it to Jared Nickens. Like Trimble and Wells, Pack gets to the line often; unlike those two, he doesn't do much else to get the offense going, shooting 33% on both twos and threes in Big Ten play. Nickens, who rotates into the lineup frequently, is almost exclusively a three-point shooter—he hits 40% of his attempts from beyond the arc.
Stretch four Jake Layman is the third option, and a quality one at that. As you can see, he's an effective scorer from pretty much anywhere:
Layman is also a very good defensive rebounder and decent shot-blocker. He'll see a good number of his minutes at center, where Damonte Dodd—a more traditional five—starts but plays reserve-level minutes.
The team's most-utilized reserve is a familiar face: Evan Smotrycz, the former Wolverine. His game hasn't changed much, and he's really struggling from the field this season—he's shot 38% from two and 26% from three in B1G play.
It's easy to see where the battle will be when Maryland has the ball. They're not good at much except getting to the line, which they do really well; meanwhile, John Beilein teams are notoriously foul-averse, and this one is no different.
On the other end, the Terps defend the boards well and keep opponents off the line; otherwise, they're pretty average across the board.
Zone 'em. Maryland gets to the hoop a lot, draws a ton of fouls, and prefers transition defense to crashing the boards. Playing zone is probably Michigan's best bet to keep Trimble and Wells from having big days. They just have to keep track of the shooters—Wells, Layman, and Nickens when he's out there—when doing so; Trimble and Wells are both adept at driving-and-kicking.
Alternatively, Rahk. OR, Michigan could try to lock down Trimble with Adbur-Rahkman, who did impressive work man-up against D'Angelo Russell last weekend. The worry here: with Rahk expending so much energy on defense, he had a down game offensively against Ohio State.
Irvin in attack mode. Maryland will often put three forwards out there—usually some combination of Nickens, Layman, Smotrycz, and Dodd—which should mean Zak Irvin will be matchup up against a defender he has an athletic mismatch against. It'd be really encouraging as we near the end of the season if Irvin looked willing and able to take bigger, slower defenders off the dribble and finish at the basket; he's been getting better at this of late.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Maryland by 8.
I mean, they just beat Wisconsin, and Michigan... isn't Wisconsin, especially on the road.
Everybody was on board except for Dakich’s son, Andrew. He told his father the obvious — they needed just two points to tie, not three.
The elder Dakich, now a college basketball analyst at ESPN, recalled the ensuing interaction like it was yesterday: “Every single guy in the huddle turned and said, ‘Andrew, shut the hell up!’ ”
Sounds about right.
[I bet you’ve never appreciated Upchurch and Fuller more than you do today]
Drevno will be responsible for play calling
Offensive gameplans will be a joint effort between all of the offensive coaches and Harbaugh
Four of the five starters on last year’s OL losing weight is a coincidence; Drevno’s still looking into it and said he’ll get the weights where they need to be
The quarterback competition is “wide open,” and their progress is primarily being tracked by Harbaugh and Fisch
Drevno said Harbaugh’s the smartest man he’s ever been around and unique in a great way
Winning has cured more ills than penicillin
“It feels good, this cold, doesn’t it?”
- We’re used to it.
“I like it.”
What are some of the characteristics that are going to help kids see the field early for you? Toughness, mobility- is there one thing above any others?
“I think, number one, it’s just how they take the information from the classroom [and] take it out on the field. Understand their assignments and have a want-to and a physicality and being a teammate, a great teammate.
“Is that it? Okay, great!”
On the roster four of the five starting offensive linemen from last year lost weight. Was that something that was kind of a plan as far as you guys were concerned or is it just a coincidence?
“No, I think it’s just a coincidence. I’m still looking at their weights and evaluating them now and we’ll get those weights where they need to be and be able to move in a very good fashion up front.”
You’re starting with a clean slate. How much does experience count for the guys who’ve played?
“You know, it’s- it really is a clean slate. I just turn on the film and see who’s doing it at a high level and doing it at the top of their craft. At USC last year I started three true freshmen, so I’m just trying to find the best players out there and that’s the best thing about it; guys get out there and compete to be the best.”
Can you kind of tell the guys who’ve played already?
“Yeah, at times I can. You can just because they’re a little bit more grooved in their technique and things, but kind of day to day at times. Yeah, you can.”
[After THE JUMP: the quickest way to an offensive lineman’s heart is through a barbeque]
How quickly do guys start setting themselves apart in that fashion?
“That’s a good question. Every time it just takes different times and that happens throughout spring ball, and people start to pull away and that’s a neat time as a coach because you’ve gotten everything taught and you’re still trying to get better at things and you’re on your way, so that’s a fun time.”
How important is it, especially at your position, offensive line, for those guys to get in pads before you want to reach any conclusions?
“There’s some things, you know. Putting pads on, that tells a lot. Just the toughness and physicality of somebody, that does. But there is things you can do out of pads that are really good, but pads do say a lot. They really do.”
You talked about the clean slate, but has there been a guy who maybe didn’t play much that has caught your eye?
“No, not really. It’s just day two so I’m still trying to figure out the ground work and where we are. We’ll have more information on that as we go.”
In terms of guys who haven’t played, Ty Isaac didn’t get on the field last year and Drake Harris was injured. When you see those guys on the field can you tell that they didn’t have game action?
“No. Any time you’re a football player and you go out there and make plays they just stand out. You can tell somebody’s technique and craft. You’re like, ‘Wow, that guy pops out.’ You can kind of see some separation at times.”
Are those guys two guys who-
“They’re both doing a great job. Everybody’s doing a great job. The want-to of everybody and the work ethic, you couldn’t ask for better guys. We have a good corps of guys here and we’re really excited about it.”
Talent-wise how are they? About what you expected?
“Yeah! There’s talent. Absolutely there’s talent here, and that’s what’s neat about it. There’s talent here and I’m excited about working with them. It’s fun.”
What are the priorities for the spring or what are the things that you guys think you have to figure out here in the next month?
“The biggest thing is just getting a great knowledge of the offense and where we want to go with it and getting it and creating it and finding out our personality on offense and who we’re going to be, and what schemes we’re going to run.”
How limited are you because your quarterback will have very little experience, whoever it is?
“We’re not going to be. We’ll play to that person’s strengths, and I think Jim Harbaugh does a great job with that. You can see his track record and we’ve got a great coach, so I’m very fortunate to be able to work alongside Jim.”
So much of playing offensive line is about toughness. How do you coach toughness?
“I think you just- you demand it from them. Not that you’re…you love ‘em up, you get them to trust you. You invite them over to your house for a barbeque. You tell them that you love ‘em, and you get ‘em to play for you. It’s pretty cool when it happens. And you get that group inside there to believe in one another and the brotherhood, about the want-to and how we lead this football team. That’s pretty cool.”
Do they have it now? After two days can you see it?
“There’s something special in there. It’s something special. And we’re getting our way. Are we there yet? No. I mean, this is day two and I just got here January 5th, so I’m trying to feel out my bearings but there’s something special there and I’m excited about it.”
That group has been criticized pretty heavily the last two years. Are they playing with an edge because of that?
“I don’t- everybody’s got a clean slate. We’ve all been criticized. [Inaudible] It’s about what did you do today to be great. I don’t worry about the past. I’ve made mistakes as coaches, players make mistakes, but the great competitors I’ve been around at the highest level like Joe Staley, some of those NFL guys I’ve coached, they have short-term memory in what they do. They make a mistake, they forget about it, and they push on. That is a true competitor, and that’s anything in life, right? You can’t hold on to something that brings you down, right? We do that. You do that, right? You write something [and you’re] like, ‘Oh gosh, my editor’s gonna get after me,’ right?
Well, I am the editor, so…
“Oh, okay, well I’m sorry!”
“You feel good about yourself, don’t you!? /Drevno puts his arm around the guy
“But you know what I’m saying.”
What’s a Tim Drevno O-line look like?
“They’re going to come off the football. They’re going to know where to go. They’re going to have a want-to, a brotherhood. They’re going to take control in the room and lead us. They’re going to lead us, and that’s a really good question because there’s different ones I’ve been with. You just- they play with confidence, you know? That’s a very good question.”
It obviously took a few years with Stanford to get that program rolling, and obviously with the 49ers a little bit different [because] you guys won right away. Do you have a feel for how quickly you can win at Michigan?
“No, I just take it day by day and get them in the right positions to be successful. That’s the key thing.”
You’d like to win right now, though?
“Because winning’s cured more ills than penicillin. It’s a true statement, isn’t it? But yeah, absolutely. I wouldn’t be in this profession not to win and I know we’re going to win, but we’ve got work ahead of us. We’re just in day two of spring ball, but it’s a slow burn, man. I’m feeling it.”
We talked about these guys being criticized earlier. Do you see them as being particularly open and willing to do whatever you throw at them because of that?
“Yeah. These kids are great kids. They’ve got a want-to. They want to be taught and they want to be coached and they want to be demanded on. You couldn’t ask for anything better. There’s nobody resisting what we’re doing.”
For someone like Shane Morris, it’s his third offensive coordinator. How difficult is it making that transition to another guy, with new terminology-
“I think football’s football. Just maybe you call something different than how someone else called it, but you run a speed out, you run the alleys, you run four wides, you hand the ball off in a tight zone to the right. You just kind of- there’s different ways that people do and teach fundamentals and there’s a lot of different ways to skin a cat, but the way we teach our fundamentals we completely believe in.”
Following up on that, how much of the whole offense when you’re installing have you seen guys where they hear something and you can tell it’s significantly different from what they’re used to?
“Any time we install we’re very interactive in the room, so we try to clean that up by people talking back and asking questions and leading. So there’s a lot- it’s real interactive. It’s not like there’s a person sitting in the room and we’re talking to them. You’re talking to us, so I think some of those things kind of get cleared up.”
You haven’t been an offensive coordinator in a couple of years, so-
“Yeah, since 2004. Or yeah, I think…is it 2004? My gosh, all these years run together. Whenever Jim left San Diego.”
“Yeah, 2006 I left because in 2007 we went to Stanford.”
So what are you doing differently and what did you learn from that experience that you’re doing different this time?
“I mean, I’m older in the profession. I’ve been with some really good coaches. Like, really good coaches: the Greg Romans, the Vic Fangios, the Ed Donatells, the Brad Seelys, the Jim Harbaughs, the Jack Harbaughs and you just collect a bunch of information and you learn from them, but you be yourself and what you believe in. You have strong convictions in what you believe in. But I’ve been fortunate to be around good coaches, and I learn every day to try to get better. And we’re in this thing together. It’s a group effort. It really is. We’re in this thing together, man. It’s shoulder to shoulder. We’re tight, and we’re going to do this thing together.”
Do you feel like you’re better equipped to be an offensive coordinator than you were?
“Yeah, absolutely! With more years of getting it under your belt your lens starts to open. As a player, a young player, as a freshman comes in your lens is like this (makes tiny binoculars over eyes) and then it starts to open and open (makes circle around face) and I think as you get longer in this profession your lens opens, but there’s a lot more stuff I need to learn. That’s why we’ve got these guys around me, Jedd Fisch and Tyrone Wheatley and Jay Harbaugh and Al Netter and you name them on and on. Everybody’s [not?] got blinders. Everybody’s got to help each other. I don’t have all the answers.”
How much different is it for the line compared to last year with what you’re asking them to do?
“I don’t know that. You’d have to ask one of those players. I don’t know that.”
Coach Durkin was just talking about feeling like it was 2007 again with building the toughness of the team and the way coach Harbaugh does that. You’ve been with him longer than any of the staff: what does he do that makes him good at that? What are some of the small things that make him so capable of doing that?
“He demands a lot from you, but in a good way. He’s never demeaning to you but he brings the best out of you and you compete at the highest level. We walk in this building to be the best at your craft. You want people to emulate what you do, and he’s competitive and he always things out side the box. Very creative. He is the smartest man I’ve ever been around. He’s unique in a great way. He’s got some unbelievable DNA. I’ve never been around a guy like this.”
Any outside the box thing you can think of that you’ve do so far here at Michigan that you’re allowed to tell us?
“Outside the box? Everything’s outside the box, I think but there’s a lot of different things that we do.”
When it comes to gameplans will you and Jim work side by side with that?
“Yeah, Jim, Jedd, Tyrone, all of us will do that together. Yep, we’ll all do that together.”
And then play calling during a game, that’s your responsibility?
“Yeah, my responsibility and then as we work it out through the deal we’re working it together.”
You’ve been with Jim at every stop. How important do you think you’ve been to his success?
“Gosh, you’d have to ask him but that’s a good question. How important? I don’t know. He’s had a lot of good coaches. We work well together. He’s a good friend.”
How important is your relationship with him so he has someone at every stop that he knows he can trust?
“Any time you’re building the foundation of what you’re trying to do here as a team you’re trying to get everybody’s trust together, and the quicker you get trust the better off you are as you press forward to be really good. I think it’s nice to be familiar and he’s sitting there and I’ve worked with him for 11 years and there’s other guys that have worked on the staff. It’s nice having guys [you know] because you can stare at each other and you know you’re thinking the same thing, which makes it nice. I think I can convey that and probably convey to the staff what he’s thinking to get what he wants, but he does a great job of communicating what he wants, too.”
How are you dividing the quarterback reps? Are we wrong to think it’s a three-man battle right now?
“I think the thing’s wide open, and Jim and Jedd are really handling that and how they’re feeling it throughout the practice so I think just to refer to Jim or Jedd about that, they’d have a better answer.”
But No That Blocked Punt Against CMU Was Totally Worth It.
Alum96 decided to go into excruciating detail on the upcoming cliff, and which spots will need to be addressed. Like “two OL recruits in two years” he also pinpointed the situation:
…we only recruited 9 defensive players in 2013 and 4 in 2014. That's a middling 13 players - of which one is already gone (Ferns). 12-ish defensive players is what you generally get in 1 class, not combined in 2.
Two years out you want to have more in the tank than:
- DEs: Poggi, Marshall, S.Johnson, R.Jones
- DTs: Hurst, Mone, Pallante (if he doesn’t stay at FB)
- LBs: McCray, Winovich, Furbush, Wangler
- CBs: Dawson, Watson, Washington
- S: Kinnel, Peppers if he isn’t in the NFL
Some of these guys are not going to work out. Attrition happens. And if by some miracle both are avoided this is a one-deep. There’s time to fill the gaps if Harbaugh can find in the 2016 class the kinds of guys who can ball like an All-Big Ten player before they can buy a beer. Of course he can do that because HARBAUGH.
Another way to mitigate this would be to get redshirts on some of the juniors or sophomores they don’t need as much this year. No way: Taco and Jourdan Lewis are starting, Dymonte is the current guy they roll in for the nickel (at safety; Peppers moves down to the slot). Probably no way: Gedeon is the first LB in after the starters (but if McCray…), Mone is currently 2nd on the NT depth chart (but if Pipkins…). So Michigan could maybe late-shirt Delano Hill and Channing Stribling, leaving six scholarship cornerbacks and four safeties available for 2015.
/shakes fist at 2013 special teams
Bring Back the Molly McGannon Memorial Children of Yost Section
Our official chronicler of the student section SaddestTailgateEver addressed the changes at Yost as the student section was shrunk, split, and shoved off to the (wrong) side, while prime property was roped off for the usually empty opponents’ parents section:
That is a full-blown, fully mapped DMZ that you better keep stepping through and not stop. So now we have students that don’t fit in Section 17, stuck above row 10 in Section 18, and a bunch of needlessly empty seats below them. And for what? So these parents can have some elbow room to look at their sons’ backs?
This also puts the parents right in front of the “c-ya” cheer, and has led to altercations, and staff stepping in on behalf of the parents who usually started it. To that I’ll add that the glare in the revamped old barn is like stepping onto the bridge of the J.J. Abrams Enterprise.
I don’t have the heart to tell him what that place was like when I had season tickets circa 2000. Yost would be best if it acknowledged what it is—a raucous throwback to 1920s-style sports fandom—but it’s hard to see the administration trying to re-engineer that feel since the Goss/Martin ADs barely tolerated the Children of Yost.
What they can do is cut the feed to the RAWK MUZAK they blare in your face, put the opponents’ families in the obstructed overhang seats (this is a compromise; I would prefer gibbets), and put the students front and center, then look away and let the atmosphere fill in organically.
[Hit the jump for people talking about bad calls and the 1997 Championship]
What Could be Worst?
Several times a year somebody suggests that Brian UFR a classic Michigan game. I’ve thought about trying it but UFR is Brian’s thing and he doesn’t appreciate others watering down the format. Brian might do it but if he’s to go back and do a UFR over the offseason it’s more helpful by far to do one of those he missed. Such a project would also require complete video, not the “we skip ahead in our programming and rejoin in the 2nd quarter, because there was just too much football back then to fit that and our advertising into this timeslot” versions they play on BTN.
But that doesn’t mean the rest of the weekly football season content can’t be applied to great games of the past. Bronxblue decided to give the 1998 Rose Bowl his Best & Worst treatment.
The Worsts were the clunky Rose Bowl performance that opened a door for the coaches to give Tom Osborne (and ultimately every Michigan hater) his going away present. And an offense that thought it unmanly to exploit mismatches or not let the defense know what was coming ahead of time.
Dreams of a Thousand Horses
Interesting analogy from ReadYourGuard, one of the former player Michigan players in our community, of Michigan since Bo as a 1969 Camaro we’ve been drag racing for 45 years. One thing about the Harbaugh hire that made it seem such a slam dunk is it served both the wishes of the Rebellion and the Lloydists. We never really solved the fundamental disagreement over whether Michigan needs to run Power to be Michigan.
I think the analogy is flawed because Bo’s Michigan wasn’t a flashy ‘69 Camaro muscle car. The guy ran options with angry agile linemen for most of his time here, and built his program like a cleaner Dantonio’s MSU: Bo recruited a lot of guys from Ohio who weren’t at the top of Ohio State’s list, then spent years hammering on that chip in their shoulders while training them to play as upperclassmen.
Michigan Welcomes the Chinese Minister of Victorian Crotchetiness
Craig Ross remembers when Wu Ting Fing saw a football game in 1901:
"Are they dead yet?" queried Mr. Wu with polite solicitude, as he surveyed the spectacle.
"Oh, no!" said one of the party's student guides. "Look, they are getting up."
"Marvelous tenacity of life," commented the distiguished visitor. "How many sudden deaths would it take to postpone the game?"
Diaries etc. The spring depth chart with parenthetical 247 composite ratings. This week in college hockey; losing to Ohio State last Friday means Michigan no longer controls its destiny for a playoff spot. No, Bambi, basketball isn’t dancing. Remembering the student riots of 1908 (Craig Ross remembered this too).
Best of the Board
AWFUL CALLS OF ALL VARIETIES
Two threads for the worst calls to go against Michigan and the worst to go for us. The latter is only 50 comments short of the former as of this posting which surprised me; y’all are pretty even-handed for a bunch of superfans.
OP of the first mentions the White fumble TD in the ‘79 Rose Bowl and that one’s pretty bad but was probably hard to see at the time. That’s nothing next to robbing the 1974 team of a Rose Bowl-clinching victory over Ohio State when Mike Lantry’s winning field goal was too high. Buckeye fans sitting behind it even said so.
The first that comes to my mind was the backward pass by MSU in 2010; it was obviously behind the line, and Michigan obviously was picking it up, but they whistled it as incomplete and therefore avoided a review that probably swings the outcome of that game. Nothing pisses me off like when refs forget a rule at a crucial juncture. Michigan got our own outrageously bad call vs. MSU in 2008, when they OVERTURNED a clear non-TD catch by Brandon Minor by inventing a “pylon” rule.
YOUR BRAIN VERSUS A DRESS PHOTO
Apparently there are blind or insane people in the world who think a clearly white and gold dress in shadow is some other color. There are also colorblind idiots who think a clearly black and blue dress is something else entirely.
There’s even a third class of people who believe the color of a dress, no matter how much of a mind-eff, is off-topic for a Michigan sports website. All of this is easily remedied.
Now we all agree: it’s a good-lookin’ dress.
CREATING THE FUTURE OF THE PAST
Marketing at Michigan in its infancy, via Dr. Sap:
Art Volo’s sweatshirt was probably from J.C. Penny. This record of Bob Ufer calling great Michigan moments reappears here and there, and I’m guessing it’s where a lot of the Ufer on YouTube came from. Note the point of it was keeping ticket prices low.
ETC. Introduce yourself thread 2015. Best and worst stadium experiences (yours). Still space, bitches. NCAA says they didn’t disqualify a homeless Baylor player for accepting a roof over his head minutes after they disqualified a homeless Baylor player for accepting the offer of a roof over his head #BrandonFindsAJob. OL getting Drevno’d. Peppers < Countess in gymnastics.
Your Moment of Zen:
HELLO. I am back. I was blank yesterday after being in a car for like 14 hours, but here are some links to other things.
According to Wikipedia, I have been to the place where this was conceived.
Things I learned in Iowa. A sampling.
- Iowa is not as flat as Nebraska
- …but it's close
- …and it's really surprisingly large when you have to drive from one corner to the other
- Do not smell a pig farmer's phone
- …especially if he's presenting it you to like the natives might present Dr. Livingstone an eyeball to consume
- …even if he looks stunningly like Dr. Drew
- David Foster Wallace was not joking about the omnipresence of the howling mid-American gale that scours pockets from your face when there are shards of ice to fling at you
- …this does at least keep the roads clear
- You can be relieved and grateful to see a Subway
This is maybe not enough things to justify the time spent but needs must.
Here are all these things and then a school that's like NOPE. As Ace covered this morning, there's another uniform hijink in the near future. (Can hijinks be singular?) The basketball uniforms aren't iconic like football, so the proportional outrage is lower. I'm still bugged by the fact that Adidas is coming up with one design element and applying it to everyone because they want to advertise themselves, with no thought to how they could help Michigan out.
Michigan did draw the line at Adidas's Zubaz monstrosities a few years back, so at least there's that.
Still, I'm jealous that Indiana's the uniform in the center going NOPE here:
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) February 26, 2015
"We have seen your ideas and find them lacking." –university that employs Tom Crean.
I wish we had the desire to do that. And the desire to go back to the 1989 throwbacks permanently.
"These throwbacks appear to be jerseys Michigan actually used to wear. They just don't get it, do they?" –The Brandon formerly known as athletic director
A seven footer! 2016 C commit Jon Teske was supposed to be growing constantly, as high school people tend to do, and now he's broken through a symbolic threshold:
Jon Teske has grown 1 inch since verbally committing to play basketball at Michigan back in early August.
This would be trivial if not for one fact: When Teske enrolls in 2016, he will officially be U-M's first 7-foot player since Ben Cronin, the first recruit coach John Beilein signed when he arrived in Ann Arbor eight years ago.
Teske is reportedly a shot blocker, something Michigan hasn't had since Beilein arrived.
Other than adding strength and bulk and improving his quickness in the lane, Teske's defensive skills are already at an elite level. He provides Medina with a safety net on the back line and blocks shots with a combination of a pterodactyl's wingspan and sharp instincts. Most impressively, he does so without fouling.
"The number of shots he changes is just unbelievable," Hassinger said. "That's what Michigan will get out of him -- he's such a good rim-protector. ... We can do so much defensively because he just rules the paint."
Would you go so far as to say he is also strategic? Jedd Fisch gets in on the Jameis Winston praise pile:
George Whitfield said Jedd Fisch really wowed Jameis & Bryce Petty on their time at #Michigan: "He was very tactical but also dynamic."
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) February 18, 2015
Sounds like a man to play Battletech with. Meanwhile, another quote on Harbaugh from Petty:
"Outstanding guy," Petty said. "Just a football dude. That's the best way I can describe it. He just gave us a lot of advice about what to expect here (at the combine), about how to handle everything, especially going in as a rookie into a camp and what he expects as a coach in that scenario, things like that.
"We were tickled to death, anytime you get a chance to meet and talk to a guy who has been in it for four years and had a lot of success in it."
Harbaugh is definitely a Football Dude, as anyone who has watched that QB clinic video and giggled about knuckle placement knows.
Marketing back in the day. Gary Moeller repeats "keeps ticket prices down" three times in about 30 seconds at the end of this clip about marketing from a 1991 edition of Michigan Replay:
The word "brand" does not make an appearance.
We like this better because it doesn't work as well. It's that time of year when NFL guys ding spread QBs because their offenses provide too many open receivers to judge whether the guy can fit it in tight windows:
Ignore NFL translation, isn't this weird? Prostyle is better because it produces less open guys/doesn't work as well? pic.twitter.com/wfChgwGzdN
— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) February 26, 2015
I think the NFL guy was saying that tight windows are an inevitability in the league rather than pro-style is necessarily better. (Or even a concept that really means much other than Our QB Don't Run. New England is basically Texas Tech with a separate LeGarrette Blount offense stapled to it.)
And stay out? CHL teams are making noises like they would withdraw from Washington if their for-profit enterprises with mid five-digit attendances have to give their players anything other than a per diem and the vague promise of an education package maybe a sixth of them will use:
Silvertips GM Garry Davidson was clearly singing from the same songbook when he told legislators if the state did not exempt the teams from minimum wage laws, “it could negatively impact our ability to operate and would force us to move or not operate in the state.”It’s an age-old tactic used by sports teams and it’s age-old because it so often works. Build us a new arena or we’ll go to a place where they’ll happily build one for us. Give us tax breaks and concessions or we’ll have to pick up our ball and go somewhere else. And in this case, grant us an exemption from laws governing the basic human right to minimum wage or we’ll take our teenagers and have them entertain hockey fans somewhere else.
Oh really? Considering the Everett Silvertips (4,898 average fans per game), Spokane Chiefs (5,570), Seattle Thunderbirds (4,353) and Tri-City Americans (3,976) are attracting decent home crowds, it’s safe to assume the revenue they’re drawing from their regular season gate alone is robust. Probably multi-millions.
A CHL departure from Washington is about as likely as the Big Ten re-implementing freshman eligibility. There aren't enough markets in BC and Alberta that aren't already covered. Meanwhile on the other side of the continent, a QMJHL team just sold for 25 million dollars.
Silver lining: it turns out there is in fact a sports organization that can make the NCAA look good.
Obligatory. Ohio State has a five star recruit incoming.
This is man with a good super power. Michigan Hockey Now pings commit Nick Pastujov about various personal things. He has never gone to a concert, he likes the World Cup, he envisions having a hilarious dinner with Bill Gates, Steve Carrell, and Bob Marley, and he has a very practical approach to super powers: "could do anything." That just about covers it, I'd think.
Etc.: Kentucky fans are terrified of Northwestern.
[Shoddy iPhone photo via me]
Durkin wants to play multiple fronts and thinks they have the athletes to handle that
Greg Jackson is working more with the safeties and Mike Zordich is working more with the corners
Everyone has an opportunity to earn snaps based on what they do from spring on; how much a player played last season is irrelevant
It’s too early to tell if there’s a player who didn’t play much last season who’s going to get significant playing time this season or who the leaders of the defense will be
Durkin’s goal is to know what the defense is good at, what needs to be improved, and what they can handle schematically by the end of spring
Jabrill Peppers will be moved to several spots during spring to “find the best fit and the best mix for everyone”
What does a defense look like under you? Everybody wants to know with scheme, etc. What does it look like? What is a DJ Durkin defense?
“I’d say I want it to always be a blue-collar, competitive group. Play hard and compete for everything you get. Scheme-wise and all that, we’re a little different from game to game and a lot of it’s based on our personnel from year to year, too so we’re multiple with what we do schematically, but I just want a group of guys that are going to play hard, be blue-collar, and always compete for everything they do.”
How much can you tell after two days?
“We haven’t had pads on yet and that’s obviously a huge part of the game, so we’ll see. I’m reserving judgment for all that. Our guys have worked hard. I like their approach to the game, to practice- they’re locked in. I like their approach to meetings so I’m encouraged by all that and we’ll see as we get going with the pads on.”
When you watch the film what stood out to you? Were there individuals that stood out in particular?
“The film from practice?”
The past, getting ready for this and I guess the last few days.
“Yeah, but what I want to do is make sure all these guys, and I told them this when we met with them, that they have a clean slate to start from. It was good. I came in and watched some games and tried to see where our needs were for recruiting, but in terms of one by one, individuals, I want guys to know that maybe you’re a guy who hasn’t played much- you have an opportunity to do that. Maybe you’re a guy that’s played a lot, but it’s not just going to be given to you- you have to go earn it. That way I think the whole room understands they have equal opportunity to go earn some snaps on the field.”
Is there anyone in particular that fits that bill of somebody who hasn’t played much that you’ve seen and been like, ‘Oh, I didn’t expect that. Maybe we have something here.’
“Yeah, I mean, it’s too early to tell that. I have been encouraged by a lot of guys. I think, like I said, I like our approach to practice and what we’re doing. I think the guys have a good energy and enthusiasm about it, so when we get the pads on and keep going I’m sure some of those guys will emerge.”
How long does it take you as a coach to figure out what you have?
“I don’t know. I’d like to say by the end of spring we can sit back and have a really good idea, ‘Okay, these are the things we’re good at. These are the things we need to keep working on. This is what we’re going to be talking schematically.’ That’s the goal, by the end of spring to have a lot of things answered. We’re going to go through and install quite a bit and a lot of stuff that I’ve done before and then, like I said, we’ll just sort it out and see what we’re best at.”
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest]
Generally speaking, are you pleased with the conditioning?
“Yeah, they’re in great shape. Kevin Tolbert and his staff have done a great job and guys…we’re on the field for four hours and they’ve done a great job finishing practice and doing well so conditioning’s been good.”
As far as getting a feel for the individual guys, how much do you talk to Greg Mattison with all the experience that he has around here?
“Yeah, a bunch. Greg is a great coach, great person, [and] great friend. Obviously he’s been here a while. He knows these guys really well. It’s an opinion I trust and I’ve trusted for a long time. I’ve been close friends [with him] for a while.”
What types of things have you been able to glean from him that have allowed you to get a jump start?
“I think more than anything just to hear his thoughts on different guys. You know, we had to start out with some sort of depth chart to go from and all that and he was helpful in that. Really more than anything just getting to know the kids as people. You watch them on tape, you go to practice- my whole thing, and our staff, is let’s get to know these guys as people.
“We weren’t here to recruit them. When you’re at a place where you’ve recruited all the guys you know their family, you know everything about them. We don’t know that yet. Greg knows that about all those guys, or most of those guys. That’s really where it’s been helpful for me.”
You had said you recruited Jabrill [Peppers] and obviously he’s here. Do you see the same stuff that you recruited on the field now after him being out a year?
“Yeah, Jabrill’s a high-energy guy. He’s very talented. He’s explosive, he’s sudden, he’s all the things you’d want a guy to be. Like I said, when we get the pads on we’ll start seeing how he fits and all that, but I think we have high expectations for Jabrill but I think most importantly Jabrill has high expectations for himself. Anytime those things match together I think it’s a good combination.”
Is he going to play just safety in spring, or are you going to play him at corner or all over the place?
“We’ll move him around. Again, to find the best fit and the best mix for everyone he’ll play several spots.”
Talking about getting to know the guys a little bit more, how do you weigh that versus installing during the spring? What’s the bigger priority for you?
“We’re going to do both. We’re going to install. Every day I want our guys coming into meetings with the approach of, ‘I’ve got to sit down and be locked in and learn football.’ So every day, whether it’s small or big, we’re going to be installing new defense with those guys to get them used to that. What we do, we play multiple scheme and our guys, I think it’s good to learn football and be in a classroom setting where they have to take notes and learn some stuff.”
You have a defense where you get a lot of starters back from a unit that was pretty good most of the year last year. How do you balance throwing new guys in there and getting some competition going versus sticking with what worked last year?
“Like I said, for all those guys it’s new. It’s a clean slate for everyone so if there was a guy who was a starter and played a lot he’s not guaranteed that spot. A guy that didn’t play, he has every right to go get a spot so that really doesn’t come into it at all. We’re rotating guys. Guys are getting equal reps at practice and we’re getting a look at everyone so we can create our own opinions from what’s going on at practice.”
From the little that you have seen or evaluated, what are some areas that you think will become things you guys want to focus on to improve?
“I don’t know if I can quite answer that yet to say what it is. I just think all in all for our guys to learn and grasp the scheme will be big and, again, just figuring out what we’re best at. We have guys who are really attentive in meetings. So far I can tell they’re good learners. They’re active in what they’re doing. They want to learn the game and so it’ll just be a matter of, ‘Okay, these are the things we’re better at than these. Let’s focus on these and get really good at them and go play it.’ Hopefully, like I said, by the end of spring we’ll have that figured out.”
In the MGoBlue video it appeared that Royce Jenkins-Stone was working with the defensive line. Is that where you’ve got him at?
“Royce has been playing a little bit of both. We play some 4-3, some 3-4; we have several guys that are moving around right now. That’s something we’ve always done. We as in where I’ve been defensively and that’s something coach Harbaugh’s always done as far as playing guys in multiple spots and figuring out what our best combination is to get our best guys on the field.”
With two starters gone at the defensive end position, has that been a focus finding the new guys there?
“I think we had a good group of guys that are candidates for that and we’re working several of those guys in and we’ll get settled in at some point and figure out what the depth is, but right now we’re just rolling guys through.”
Do you see enough versatility in this group to be truly multiple? I know it’s early but can you sense that?
“Yeah, absolutely. I think I like where we’re at that way. Our guys, they like the idea of that, of playing a couple of different fronts. I think you develop, you learn football. Like I said, it’s a challenge that’s good. It keeps guys locked in in meetings and we’ll keep going through it. I do. I think we’ve got the right players to do it.”
You mentioned trying to look at a little bit of your team to figure out recruiting needs. When you look at the roster and the bodies that you have do you feel that there are some certain needs you’ll have to address very quickly?
“I think- again, that was something in the immediate, when we got here in January and we had about two weeks of a contact period to get that done. Now I think it’s a bigger picture type [of] deal, so in recruiting right now we’re just looking for guys that fit the right profile of great people, great students, great football players. They play the game the right way, meaning they play physical, they play competitive, they play tough. They’re hard-working guys.
“That’s the profile, and obviously by position there’s different traits they’ve got to have to do that. As we get through spring and into the summer and all that, I think that sorts out a little bit more of, ‘Okay, specifically by position these are the needs that we have to address.’ It’s too early to tell that. We’re just looking for the guys that fit the bill of what our needs are as a person.”
Has anything surprised you about this job or Ann Arbor in general since you’ve gotten here?
“Surprised me? Uh…no. Everything’s been great. I’m familiar with Jim. I had worked with him before at Stanford, so how things work in terms of our staff I’m familiar with. Everything’s been great. It’s a great place. It’s what it’s cracked up to be. It has a great reputation throughout the country both academically and athletically within our profession and it’s definitely lived up to it, so it’s been great.”
As far as getting back with Jim, a decent amount of the staff was at Stanford. Has it been sort of just like jumping back in to the way it was in Palo Alto?
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, in a lot of ways. It’s good to be back together. All good people, good guys, good coaches. It’s always good. You never know when you’re going to have that opportunity again in this profession. It’s crazy a lot of times so it’s good to get back with those guys, for sure.”
How are the roles in the secondary going to break out? Are they both doing corners and safeties or is one going to do one position, in terms of the coaches?
“The coaches? Uh, Greg Jackson’s working more with the safeties and Michael Zordich is working more with the corners. A lot of that, we’ll cross train throughout practice and all that. Just the way we divided the field and we’re watching practice and reps and all that, it’s a group effort from everyone. But that’s who they’re working with more positionally.”
Can you sense leadership on this team yet? Do you sense guys starting to talk a little bit?
“Yeah, but we’ve been more about with our guys let’s not talk, let’s get to work. Let’s go get on the field and show us. That stuff finds a way to emerge as we keep going. It’s too early to tell that, but leaders rise to the top and that’s what we’re looking for. Let’s not talk about it, let’s be about it and see what happens.”
In terms of install, you’ve got a lot to install. You said you think that’s a good thing that makes them learn it. Do you want to flood them with info and see how quickly they can keep up with it at this point?
“I think in spring, in training camp, it’s good to challenge them that way and keep them attentive and keep them learning. When we get to gameplan weeks and all that, now you narrow the focus and it’s a smaller gameplan you’re going in [with]. Now it feels almost like relief to them, like, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve got this. That’s all we’re doing.’ That’s the thought behind it, and so we’ll keep doing that throughout spring [and] we’ll do the same thing when we get to fall camp.”
What’s different this time around than when you were at Stanford?
“What’s different? The weather. I’d say that’s different. Again, we’re two practices in. I think a lot of it’s the same. Jim is really good about how he challenges the guys and builds that toughness and that mentality with the team and I can see the same steps being taken here and it’s a fun thing to be a part of, and we’ll keep going with it.”
There was a lot made of the way he built that toughness into Stanford and the different methods he used. Has there been a similar sort of building process here?
“Yeah, yeah. Again, it’s early but yeah. You can draw back and think of the same point there at one time and yeah, he’s got it. That’s what makes him great. He’s got a great ability to do that. He’s got a knack for it and he thinks outside the box, and we’re doing a lot of the same right now.”
In terms of Mattison, is it overly tempting to pick his brain on players or do you want to find out on your own about these guys?
“Yeah, it’s both. Like I said, I think it’s more that he helps us get to know the guys, gives you more background of the guy, his family, and what his background story is.”
But he’s not out there saying, ‘This guy should be-’
“No, we’re out there talking every day, from workouts and then practices. I mean, we sit there and talk about personnel until the wee hours of the morning of each guy and what our thoughts are on them. We go around the room a little bit and just kind of sort it out that way.”
In-State Updates: Michigan Moving Up
While 2015 was a down year for prospects in the state of Michigan, 2016 boasts a solid crop of in-state recruits, and there's no question Jim Harbaugh has to work from behind for many of them; he's just getting to know players who've been recruited by the likes of Meyer and Dantonio for years, in some cases.
Visits over the last few days have spurred progress in that regard. In four-star Cass Tech OG/DT Michael Onwenu's case, so did a certain issue with a teammate, per Rivals' Josh Helmholdt ($):
"[My Ohio State interest] lowered a little after the (Mike Weber) incident," Onwenu said. "My position is they should have told him anyway. He had a bond with the coaches, and if I had a bond with a coach and was excited to play for that coach, that is something I should know."
Onwenu, who'd previously named the Buckeyes as his leader, now claims no favorites. He visited Michigan, which is one of a couple schools recruiting him for offense, last week.
Four-star Detroit King WR Donnie Corley also made it campus last week, and his father told Sam Webb that M is moving up his son's list ($):
Sam Webb: Before it seemed like Michigan was on the outside looking in. It seemed like Michigan was like fourth or fifth on his list. Do you think Michigan is more in the picture with him now?
Donnie Corley Sr.: “Yeah, most definitely. It was real impressive. We were real impressed with it.”
Three-star Farmington WR Desmond Fitzpatrick, who recently added a Michigan offer, was back on campus Tuesday for a practice and also plans to attend the Spring Game, according to Allen Trieu.
The father of four-star Plymouth OT Michael Jordan told Webb that the new staff is "very high" on his son, and he plans to camp at Michigan for a day this summer ($).
2017 Orchard Lake St. Mary's LB Josh Ross, younger brother of James Ross, told GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz that the new staff "definitely does" help Michigan's chances to land him ($). The coaches have re-affirmed Ross' offer from the previous staff.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Ahead of Schedule
It sure looks like Michigan is a safe bet to land three-star FL OLB Jonathan Jones, who pulled in an offer back around Signing Day. After pulling in a coveted offer from Georgia this week, Jones steered his discussion with Scout's Amy Campbell towards another school ($):
“I have a good school in mind, I’ve been researching it and talking to all the coaches. They feel real fired up about me, I feel real fired up about them. I’ve prayed about it, talked to my parents about it, so as the time comes down, I think I’ll keep feeling sure about it.”
It’s quite likely Jones is talking about Michigan. He continues to name Michigan as the frontrunner. He hasn’t visited the Wolverines program yet, and he’d love to get to Georgia, but he also plans to commit this spring.
Yesterday, Jones informed 247's Steve Lorenz that he'd already scheduled his official visit to Ann Arbor for the weekend of September 25th, when Michigan hosts BYU ($). With a spring decision planned, he could be in the fold long before he sets foot on campus.
Michigan continues to pepper the 2016 class with offers and also get a jump on the elite prospects of the 2017 class, as well.
Three-star LA DE Willie Baker told Maize n Brew that it felt "amazing" to be offered by Michigan. If Baker's going to make it to campus, however, it'll most likely be in the fall in the form of an official visit.
Michigan became the highest-profile offer for unranked NC LB Jonathan Smith, who told The Wolverine's Brandon Brown that recent interest from other school caused him to scrap his top two ($):
The Blue Devils have already offered Smith and have done a good job with him. He recently named Duke and Georgia Tech as his top two schools but with so much new interest lately, he's backing off of that statement just a bit.
"I really don't have a top school or any sort of top group right now," he revealed. "I'm just still trying to see what schools are best for me. Some of this new attention has me slowing down a little bit."
Virginia also offered recently, and Smith visited Florida State last weekend.
- Four-star NC CB Marquill Osborne, who committed to Tennessee last September and doesn't appear to be wavering.
- Three-star AL ILB Erroll Thompson, who also added a Louisville offer this week.
- Three-star NC ATH Thaddeus Moss, a jumbo athlete (6'4", 240) who could play tight end or defensive end. He's the son of Randy Moss, and we're all one step closer to death's door.
- Three-star CA CB Lamar Jackson, who also added a recent UCLA offer after winning positional MVP honors at a Rivals camp in Las Vegas.
Michigan also offered a couple top 2017 targets. FL CB Stanford Samuels is poised to be a five-star; per 247, Michigan was his 27th verbal offer. PA ATH Paris Ford told Lorenz that "words can't explain" how he felt after Michigan offered; he's arguably the top Pennsylvania prospect in his class and already holds PSU and Pitt offers.
Four-star FL WR Eli Stove, the #73 overall player on the 247 Composite, told Lorenz that he's planning to visit Michigan in March ($). He added that Auburn—the Crystal Ball favorite—and Michigan are the two schools recruiting him the hardest right now.
Four-star CA OLB Camilo Eifler told Scout's Brandon Huffman that he'll take an April tour through the Midwest that'll include trips to Northwestern and Michigan ($). Eifler noted Cal, UCLA, and Washington are the programs pursuing him the hardest.
Four-star FL CB Chauncey Gardner told 247's Ryan Bartow that he'd like to get an offer from Michigan ($). Ohio State, Miami (YTM), and Florida are currently standing out in his recruitment.