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A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY THAT DOES NOT HAVE A WORLD CUP…
The goal of Draftageddon is to draft a team of Big Ten players that seems generally more impressive than that of your competitors. Along the way, we'll learn a lot of alarming things, like maybe Maryland is good? Full details are in the first post.
PREVIOUSLY ON DRAFTAGEDDON
- Everyone not grabbing dual-threat senior QBs grabs defensive linemen
- Seth takes Venric Mark in front of just about everyone
- Nothing terribly remarkable happens
- BISB takes all the guys I want
- A ridiculous amount of time is spent discussing the merits of one particular interior lineman from Rutgers
- WILDCARD TIME as Brian takes a quarterback despite already having a quarterback.
- Peppers drafted in WILDCARD TIME II.
THE CURRENT SITUATION
ROUND 15 - PICK 2: Dontre Wilson, SLOT/RB, Ohio State
O: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Ameer Abdullah (NE), WR Devin Funchess (U-M), SLOT Dontre Wilson, TE Maxx Williams (MN), LT Brandon Scherff (IA), LG Kaleb Johnson (RU), RT Tyler Marz (WI)
D: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), DE/DT Andre Monroe (MD), NT Darius Kilgo (MD), OLB Chi Chi Ariguzo (NW), OLB Matt Robinson (MD), CB Desmond King (IA), S John Lowdermilk (IA)
ST: KR/PR Ameer Adbullah (NE)
ACE: So here we are in the 15th round, and since Brian took Braxton Miller with the top overall pick, only two Ohio State offensive players have gone off the board: Devin Smith and Taylor Decker. This makes some sense, as the Buckeyes lost some significant playmakers from last season, namely Carlos Hyde and Philly Brown.
This also makes little sense, as we're talking about an Urban Meyer offense with Braxton Miller at quarterback. Somebody's due for a huge breakout year, and that someone is sophomore Dontre Wilson, whose role is expanding from change-of-pace-back/guy-who-catches-screens/decoy (or "USE NORFLEET LIKE THIS PLZ") to "replace Philly Brown and be like Percy Harvin":
“He’s a starting H,” Meyer said Tuesday. “He took (wide receiver Corey) ‘Philly’ Brown’s spot, so he’s a full-time receiver. We did take him today and put him in some backfield action. We use that term, (Seattle Seahawks wide receiver) Percy Harvin, very loosely, because there’s only probably one of him. But we’d like (it if) that hybrid position is really a key guy if we can do that … by far, Dontre’s the No. 1 spot.
Wilson is still learning the finer points of the receiving aspect, which is fine, because even if he doesn't catch a ball past the line of scrimmage, he's ... what's the term ... insanely f***ing explosive:
With Brown gone, as well as Jordan Hall—who moonlighted at H-back when not starting at RB during Carlos Hyde's suspension—Wilson is in line for a huge expansion in his role, and the Buckeye consensus is he's the closest thing to Harvin they've had since Meyer took over. Given his freshman numbers, that means he'll be piling up the yardage; he rushed for 250 yards and a TD on 31 carries (8.1 ypc) and caught 22 passes—almost all screens—for 210 yards (9.6 ypc) and two TDs. He routinely exploded into the secondary despite almost never going past the line of scrimmage without the ball in his hands.
Wilson's threat to turn innocuous plays into game-breaking ones also opened up the field for the rest of the Buckeye offense:
“I always joked around with my teammates and said, ‘I’m the Decoy of the Year,’ ” Wilson said. “Every time I do a fake or something, we scored.”
Ohio State scored on two different plays in the Orange Bowl that first faked to Wilson, a 33-yard touchdown run by quarterback Braxton Miller and a 57-yard touchdown strike to tight end Jeff Heuerman.
Wilson’s speed is so drastic, so imposing, that it has a way of freezing opponents. One step, Wilson proved, is all it takes to beat a defense to the edge and coast to the end zone. So when he went in motion, Clemson noticed.
Wilson is a former top-100 recruit with track star speed and solid freshman production in a very good offense that perfectly suits him; now he's in line for a major uptick in touches. How is this guy on the board six rounds after Shane Wynn was picked, exactly? Have we all been drunk? I think we've all been drunk.
ROUND 15 - PICK 3: Louis Trinca-Pasat, DT, Iowa
O: QB Devin Gardner (UM), RB Jeremy Langford (MSU) WR Kenny Bell (Neb), WR Shane Wynn (IU), OT Donovan Smith (PSU), OT Jack Conklin (MSU), C Austin Blythe (Iowa)
D: DT Louis Trinca-Pasat (Iowa), DE Joey Bosa (OSU), DE Noah Spence (OSU), LB Jake Ryan (UM), LB Mike Hull (PSU), CB Sojourn Shelton (Wisky), CB Jabrill Peppers (UM), S Kurtis Drummond (MSU)
BISB: Speaking of people who are being drafted way too far apart, let's look at Iowa's interior DL. Carl Davis went in the 2nd round, and had 42 tackles (11 solo) and 4 TFLs. Plus, 2.5 of those TFLs were against Michigan, which barely counts. Meanwhile, Iowa's other defensive tackle, Louis Trinca-Pasat, recorded 39 tackles (19 solo) and 9 TFLs. That wasn't a fluke, either; he had more tackles, solo tackles, and TFLs than Davis in 2012 as well. And he's still on the board in the 15th round.
LTP isn't high on the NFL draft boards because he's not a fantastic athlete (he's pretty uncomfortable-looking outside the tackle box) and doesn't have an NFL frame. He's 6'3" and 290 pounds unlike Davis's 6'5", 315. As such, he gets the usual Undersized White Defensive Tackle descriptors; he's a plugger, a lunch pail guy, a grinder, a gritty gritter who grits. I mean, he won the "Team Hustle Award" last year FFS. But he operates really well in close space, uses his hands well, maintains gap integrity, and doesn't get blown off the ball against double-teams. And he's productive. He can play the 3-tech, but his gritty grit style would allow him to line up over the nose and be an effective wrench in the gears of an offense, if not a thunderous backfield-wrecking disruptor.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Seth bets it all on Indiana.]
SETH: In response to Ace's query on our sobriety:
Probably because "He's the Starting H" in spring practice at Ohio State really means "there's a 62% chance this guy is going to be the Percy for us all season."
Guy is a vintage Rodriguezian slot receiver, but Urban demands far more than bubble screens, curls, and sweeps from that position, and has been quick to anoint a new Percy when one misses an all-important read or can't nail a jerk route. Philly Brown won the H role last year over several more athletic candidates because he had the savvy for it. I expect Urban would love Wilson to grow into the role, but the guy was a running back until March, and is 185 pounds. Upside here is huge; I waited because my expectation is 2009 Odoms.
Plus, are we going on expectation of 2014 stats, or what the guy would do in our offenses? Because while erasing an Buckeye slot-bug by sticking a cover corner on him is just asking to get Braxton Miller in your face, that [points at Connor Cook] cannot replace Braxton Miller.
ACE: Martavious Odoms in 2009: 22 catches, 272 yards, 1 receiving TD, 3 carries, 5 yards, 1 rushing TD. As a sophomore.
Dontre Wilson in 2013: 22 catches, 210 yards, 2 TDs, 31 carries, 250 yards, 1 TD. As a true freshman.
Seth, I can't even.
BRIAN: Also, Wilson did that despite being on the field only about 20% of the time. Seth is clearly drafting from an alternate universe here but even so it would be nice if his snark had any relationship to reality.
SETH: Wow that's almost half as many yards as Odoms had his freshman year in the Threetsheridammit offense. Don't even.
ROUND 15 - PICK 4: Nate Sudfeld, QB, Indiana
ROUND 16 - PICK 1: Tre Roberson, ditto
O: QBs Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson (IN), RB Venric Mark (NW), WR Devin Smith (OSU), WR Christian Jones (NW), T Jason Spriggs (IN), T Taylor Decker (OSU), C Brandon Vitable (NW), G Jack Allen (MSU).
D: DT Michael Bennett (OSU), WDE Randy Gregory (NE), MLB Taiwan Jones (MSU), WLB Steve Longa (RU), SS Corey Cooper (NE), FS Adrian Amos (PSU), CB Blake Countess (M)
Wait a minute, didn't Tre Roberson transfer?
EDITORIAL ASIDE: Yes, he did. Unfortunately for this draft he did so towards the end of our selection process. It was adjudged that this was actually not the worst thing in the world for Seth since a Sudfeld who was a clear starter goes earlier; he was provided a compensatory random offensive player choice at the end of the draft.
This of course makes large portions of the next section not accurate. That's life.
SETH: Backups you say? I say the Dynamic Duo. The Caped Crusaders. Sherlock and Watson. Walter and Jesse. Stringer and Avon. Lucy and Ethel. Dom Deluise and the little Jewish mouse: A duuuuuo!
Let's go to the 2013 stats among this year's Big Ten quarterbacks (sack-adjusted, 20 or more attempts). In yards per pass attempt, Tre Roberson was, ah, first, at 7.8 (139 attempts), and Nate Sudfeld, ah, second at 7.1 (338 attempts). Nobody else is close: Gardner and Caleb Rowe were at 6.9, and Miller, Hackenberg, Stave, and C.J. Brown were at 6.8. Gardner and Maryland's pair can be excused for all the sacks; Miller, well, there's a reason Urban had him throw to Philly Brown all the time. These are all efficient passers (unlike, oh, Connor Cook)--it's just that Roberson and Sudfeld were off the charts.
Sudfeld took about 62% of the Hoosiers' snaps, passing on 94% of those. Roberson passed 62% of the time; as things settled he became more of a changeup used to force teams to prepare for an option offense in addition to the aerial assault at ludicrous speed. His 5.6 YPA as a rusher is more Mitch Leidner than Gardner (6.3), C.J. Brown (6.8) or Miller (ridiculous 8.6). Roberson (7.0) and Sudfeld (6.9) still led everyone but Braxton Miller (7.4) in total yards per play, and it cost me only picks 58 and 59, not first overall.
Miller's rushing YPA is so high because defenses had to play OSU straight, while I think Roberson had the benefit/curse of everyone playing Indiana very bend-don't-break. But you know what? They broke. Roberson scored on a nation-leading 9% of his snaps; Braxton Miller was 8.5%, Garder 6.3%, and Sudfeld was at 6.1%. Connor Cook, despite starting more drives in his opponent's territory than anyone in the country, was 5.1%, putting him between Gary Nova and Danny Etling. Stop laughing, Brian: Hack was tied with Nova.
LUDICROUS SPEED: GO!!!
It was their offense you say? Well it doesn't cost a draft pick to take their offense, which put up 4.8 yards per play against OSU and MSU, had a short (60 plays is very few for them)/bad day against Wisconsin, and never dropped below 6 YPP otherwise. Except I've got all-stars who can carve out an excellent zone running game on the OL instead of the mostly-okay, mostly-pass-pro dudes Kevin Wilson got by with (the one star of that line is on my team), and fair enough replacements for Latimer and Hughes and...dammit BiSB give me back my Wynn!
This was always the plan. I specifically selected offensive linemen from the faster-paced zone offenses of the league, with the exception of MSU's (they run mostly zone but at a pace akin to Iowa's and Michigan's) Jack Allen because he's known for his exceptional smarts and quickness, and has been relieved of center duties. This is why I valued Vitabile so highly, and let you guys take all those Badgers: Vitabile has run a relatively hurry-up zone offense for four years. Plus I have a "backup" quarterback I can actually put on the field as an RB or slot receiver.
Also I realize I could have split up these picks, but think of all the onomatopoeia we'd have missed. Ah, the sacrifices we make for narrative.
Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na...BATMAN (AND ROBIN)!
ROUND 16 - PICK 2: Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana
O: QB Devin Gardner (UM), RB Jeremy Langford (MSU), RB Tevin Coleman (IU), WR Kenny Bell (Neb), WR Shane Wynn (IU), OT Donovan Smith (PSU), OT Jack Conklin (MSU), C Austin Blythe (Iowa)
D: DT Louis Trinca-Pasat (Iowa), DE Joey Bosa (OSU), DE Noah Spence (OSU), LB Jake Ryan (UM), LB Mike Hull (PSU), CB Sojourn Shelton (Wisky), CB Jabrill Peppers (UM), S Kurtis Drummond (MSU)
ST: Bell (KR), Peppers (PR)
BISB: Thanks for setting me up on with the premise of the awesomeness of Indiana's offense. 'Cause I've got the two best pieces of it.
Tevin Coleman rushed for 958 yards on 131 carries in only 9 games. His 7.4 yards per carry were the second most of any returning player (After Melvin Gordon's 27 YPC or whatever he had). Jeremy Langford may be my every-down back, but Tevin Coleman is my Swiss Army Knife back. Much like Dontre Wilson, but with a season of actual production under his belt that doesn't need much extrapolation. Coleman is a home-run hitter; he had a run of double-digit yards in every game he played, and a run of at least 40 yards in six of his nine games. He also scored a touchdown in every single game. Plus he caught 19 passes at over 10 yards per catch.
The nice difference between Coleman and, say, Venric Mark, is that Coleman is 6'1" and 205 pounds, unlike Mark's five foot nothin', a hundred and nothin'. Coleman missed the last three games of the year with a sprained ankle, but he at least has the size to take more punishment, and occasionally dish some out. He's not a jitterbug-type back. He's a one-cut-and-go back who has a mastery of the subtle cut, and who regularly embarrasses tacklers who don't take the proper angle.
[Ace leaves vicinity of computer for period of greater than 30 minutes, causing much distress.]
ACE: I'll write this up when I'm not in the process of looking at places to move, but I'll take Earnest Thomas III, HSP and/or SS, Illinois.
SETH: Ace is joking, right? Is he joking? I feel like if he was joking he would say something like: "What do you get when you cross and elephant with a rhino?."
More Indiana highlights include an elephino blowing a one-high coverage on Latimer's third TD, and an elephino running himself out of the play on another Coleman long TD run, and an elephino blitzing into a play his coach had dead to rights and getting swallowed by a releasing guard for another TD.
I guess when you've got a chance to draft a guy who helped hold Unstoppable Throw God Trevor Siemian to just 414 yards you have to do it. But I'm just a Dumars in a Dumars world so...
ROUND 16 - PICK 3: Earnest Thomas III, HSP/S, Illinois
FEEL THE ILLINOISE
O: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Ameer Abdullah (NE), WR Devin Funchess (U-M), SLOT Dontre Wilson, TE Maxx Williams (MN), LT Brandon Scherff (IA), LG Kaleb Johnson (RU), RT Tyler Marz (WI)
D: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), DE/DT Andre Monroe (MD), NT Darius Kilgo (MD), OLB Chi Chi Ariguzo (NW), OLB Matt Robinson (MD), CB Desmond King (IA), S John Lowdermilk (IA), HSP Earnest Thomas III (IL)
ST: KR/PR Ameer Adbullah (NE)
ACE: Yes, Seth, I'm serious. When critiquing this pick, as you've done by showing highlights of Thomas mostly playing out of position as a deep safety behind a god-awful defense, it's important to note how I actually plan to use the guy—we'll leave aside, for now, the fact that it's difficult to bring down Tevin Coleman when he runs untouched into the secondary, or that the biggest issue for Illinois against Indiana was that their corners couldn't stay in front of anyone. (Okay, I didn't really leave that aside.) Watch Thomas' 2012 highlights—with very useful all-22 views—and you'll see a player who's passable in coverage and really damn good at flowing to the ball and making an impact when he gets there:
When Illinois isn't misusing Thomas because of the complete dearth of talent and/or experience on defense—heading into 2013, Thomas was the only returning player from the top six players in the 2012 secondary*—they play him at the "STAR" position—a hybrid linebacker/safety spot, which is exactly how I'd like to use him on my defense. John Lowdermilk is fully capable of playing deep safety and my two linebackers are known for their coverage ability; I can afford to use a pick on a hybrid space player better suited to playing in the box than a deep half. I can use Thomas as a box safety against spread-to-run teams, an extra rusher off the edge (see the 3:40 mark above), or an extra defensive back playing crossing-route-crushing intermediate zones. He crushes screens, makes more than his fair share of tackles in space, and does so in a fashion that often produces a live ball—he forced three fumbles in each of the last two seasons.
So, no, Thomas isn't a dude who's going to blanket guys in coverage. His seven PBUs in 2013—which included two against a decent Cinci squad and one against Washington, lest BiSB's cherry-picked stat mislead you—show he's not totally overmatched in that regard, however, and that's enough for me to take a player who's going to make a major impact in the box, which, again, is where he's set to play both for Illinois and my defense.
*Safety Steve Hull also returned, but moved to wide receiver.
ROUND 16 - PICK 4: Jeff Heuerman, TE, OSU
ROUND 17 - PICK 1: Ibraheim Campbell, SS, Northwestern
O: QB Braxton Miller (OSU), QB Christian Hackenberg (PSU), RB Melvin Gordon (WI), WR Stefon Diggs (MD), TE Jeff Heuerman (OSU), OT Rob Havenstein(WI), G Kyle Costigan(WI), G Dallas Lewallen(WI)
D: DE Frank Clark(M), DE Therien Cockran (MN), DT Darius Hamilton(RU), DT Carl Davis(IA), LB Desmond Morgan(M), LB James Ross(M), CB Trae Waynes (MSU), CB Jordan Lucas (PSU), S Ibraheim Campbell
BRIAN: I know why we let a billion rounds go by after Ace took Maxxxx, who needs no last name. There is this tier of essentially equal TEs in the league that's more than sufficient to kit out our squads without a whole lot of dropoff--there are no Tony Gonzalezs here.
But I think perhaps that was a mistake, because now I am taking a tight end. Oh and also good reasons. OSU's Jeff Heuerman was the Bucks' third-leading receiver last year with 26 catches and a rather spectacular 17.9 YPC average. At 6'5" with a 36-inch vertical leap he is an extremely forgiving target, and his bench press leads the OSU roster. Given that three quarters of the starting OSU DL is already off the board, that says something.
Heuerman has the speed and size to threaten the deep seam, helped OSU to its ridiculous rushing numbers last year, and is poised to blow up as OSU replaces big chunks of its passing offense. The venerable Ross Fulton says Heuerman is OSU's "most consistent receiving option" going into 2014 and "should be a critical component" the passing offense. Heuerman's been singled out by the strength coach as his most dedicated guy and highly praised by the head guy for his blocking prowess. It seems like he's a definite NFL draft pick--CBS has him third amongst tight ends.
And I will grab this year's Brooks Bollinger Memorial Eighth Year senior: Ibraheim Campbell. The Northwestern safety has been an honorable mention All Big Ten pick the last two years by both coaches and media; the year before that he was a freshman All-American. Entering his fourth year as a starter, Campbell is a good bet to be on All Big Ten teams and get drafted.
While Northwestern's pass defense wasn't great--they tied with Michigan and Minnesota for fifth in the league at 6.9 YPA--their already-shaky corners were decimated by injury. By the time Ace FFFF'd them they were down to freshmen out there. Meanwhile Northwestern was middling at getting to the QB. Despite this, Northwestern was pretty good at preventing long stuff. They were third in the league at preventing passes of 20+ yards and tied for second at 30+despite being terrible at preventing passes of 10+; they also were much better at preventing long runs than 10 yard runs. Like Jordan Kovacs, Campbell has spent much of his career putting out almost all of the vast wildfire the rest of his defense hands him.
BRYAN: I'd like to thank Brian and Ace for allowing me to make the same critiques of your safety selections. This is much more convenient than mocking two mop-up men at separate times.
The stat everyone throws out with Campbell is that he has 262 career tackles, which sounds like a lot (though again, he accumulated them over nine seasons). But what they don't tell you is that his production has dipped every year; from 100 in '11 to 88 in '12 to 74 last year. Moreover, Northwestern's total passing yards allowed per game has increased over the same span (232 YPG in '11, 250 YPG in '12, and 256 YPG last year). Campbell is a fine player, but he isn't what you'd call "dynamic." He's only 5'11, so some of that isn't his fault, but he only had 1 INT and 4 PBUs in the entire Big Ten season last year. He's a guy who generally keeps stuff in front of him, holds big gains down, and stops the bleeding. Brian correctly refers to him as a fireman, which is all well and good, and it isn't surprising given Brian's memories of his Kovacs binky.
If Campbell is a fireman, Thomas is a black-and-white bucket brigade fireman from a Laurel and Hardy skit. He only had three PBUs in Big Ten play, and didn't have a pick all season. He was only "productive" in the sense that he was able to pull down several of the innumerable dudes running freely in his general area of the field. But then again, if you get the chance to lock down a piece of a pass defense that gave up 8.2 YPA and 25 TDs against 3 INTs, I suppose you've gotta pull the trigger.
Oh, and Brian, you're right about Heuerman in that clip. He should have a heck of a year, especially if he keeps wearing that Jake Stoneburner jersey. Though if we're going to start taking Urban Meyer's Gold Star Wall of Splendiforous Achievements at face value, we may as well go home because there's no point in drafting non-Buckeyes.
Also, I should say that with Thomas off the board, we now have representation from 13 of the 14 Big Ten teams. Who will be the first among us to Boiler Up? I mean, DeAngelo Yancey isn't terrible. Rob Henry played both quarterback and safety last year, so you'd have some flexibility. Akeem Hunt... uh... exists.
BRIAN: Duuuude like 90% of a safety's job is to be safe. They're NAMED "safeties." I mean. Safeeeee.
THE CURRENTLY CURRENT SITUATION
possible future employment?
The message boards have a good deal of speculation about Hoke's job security. At what point will Dave Brandon's job security come into question? A while back you outlined a number of failures during Brandon's tenure. To me, the fact that ticket sales are so slow, that even the students seem to have had enough of this BS, has to raise some eyebrows with people in power. Or is Brandon firmly entrenched as long as wants to be here?
As Brady said, "This is Michigan, fergodsakes." It's not feeling much like Michigan lately.
Class of '93
I don't think Brandon is particularly entrenched.
I've heard chatter that certain people in positions of power would be happy to see a change… a lot of chatter. But I've heard that chatter for over a year now, and predictions that Brandon would be replaced have come and gone. At this point I'm skeptical that the people are inclined to do much, or have the power to do so.
That said, Brandon's now in the same situation Rich Rodriguez (and big swathes of the department he replaced) was: his boss did not hire him, and his performance is in the range where replacing him wouldn't raise eyebrows. It's quite a trick to get the entire student body to hate you.
Gents of MGoBlog -
In these recent times of hardship for the football program, Dave Brandon has taken a lot of heat for his cardboard cutout marketing/branding efforts when it comes to the team and other University athletic programs. There seems to be a large and growing consensus of fans (at least on the MGoBoard) that point out every misstep they believe he makes - there have been quite a few dud ploys he and the AD have rolled out.
However, i'm curious to know if there are any decisions or moves he's made as AD that the MGoPolitburo or wider UofM community have received positively. Have any of the AD's ideas under his leadership had a direct positive impact on any or even one of the school's athletic programs? Whatever the case may be, who are some Athletic Directors who "get it" at their respective institution who you would like to see in charge at Michigan?
The main thing people point to in Brandon's favor is the pile of cash. I'm not that impressed, because you or I could have been appointed AD and sat there wibble-wobbling our lips and Michigan would have seen an enormous uptick in revenue. Brandon's first official day on the job was the UConn game when the luxury boxes opened. The Big Ten Network and the expiration of the Big Ten rights deal provided another large bump.
What revenue that is attributable to Brandon comes from piling a bunch of rights together and selling them in a pile to IMG and testing the outer limits of what people will pay for Michigan football tickets. That's good if you're running a public company and your stock options are about to vest, but there are indicators everywhere that the fanbase has finally been worn down. Brandon is chipping away at fan goodwill constantly, and I worry about the long term impact of the clear divide between big chunks of the fanbase (and all of the students) and Brandon.
Meanwhile, what do I care about the amount of money flowing into Michigan's pockets? It does me no good. It doesn't seem to do anyone any good. The Big Ten has been the nation's best money extraction device for some years now and they still end up hiring Tim Beckmann. Meanwhile, every athletic department in the Big Ten is trying to find ways to launder their piles of cash by plowing it into minor sports that hold the same interest for me no matter how well they're supported.
I do like the legends patches (if only they'd stop screwing with people's numbers), but the rest of the changes he's made to the Michigan gameday experience have been negative.
As for potential replacements, there are a couple of Michigan alums at prominent schools: Jeff Long is at Arkansas and Warde Manuel at UConn. Long got handed a poop sandwich when Bobby Petrino had his motorcycle sexytime accident, but recovered impressively by pirating Bret Bielema away from Wisconsin. Whatever your personal opinion of Bielema, that is a coup of a hire for a school like Arkansas. He was just named the chair of the CoFoPoff's selection committee, as well, so he's respected within the AD community.
Manuel hired Turner Gill at Buffalo, who briefly made Buffalo not the worst team in D-I, and then ended up hiring Kevin Ollie at UConn, though that was not much of a decision. Paul Pasqualoni was already in place when he was hired at UConn; he fired him and replaced him with ND DC Bob Diaco after taking a swing at MSU DC Pat Narduzzi. That may or may not work out but that process seems pretty sensible to me.
Importantly, both of these guys have experience in the job they'd have at Michigan.
Could you give odds/estimates on the likelihood of all six freshmen redshirting next year? At the end of the regular season we expected Doyle and probably Wilson to redshirt. Now they're both potentially heavy rotation players while two unheralded wing players signed up that may play key roles or may redshirt. Help us sort out the situation.
Doyle, Wilson, and Chatman are all going to play. I don't expect Hatch to. MAAR/Dawkins is where it gets interesting. Michigan has tried to redshirt guys who are young and need some polishing, but both MAAR and Dawkins are older than average freshmen. For MAAR that's just because he's older; for Dawkins it's because he took a prep year.
It would make sense for one to redshirt with Michigan looking at a small (one member?) 2015 class, but with the NBA attrition these days you might want to play both in an effort to see which guy can help you more down the stretch and prepare both to take over for LeVert and possibly Irvin. I'm guessing everyone plays.
There have been three high level recruits who have decommitted this recruiting season. My question relates to the bagman article mgoblog referred to a couple months back: is there a possibility that there are Michigan bagmen who disapprove Brady Hoke and have pulled their resources from high level recruits in an effort to more quickly dump Hoke? I realize there are many factors that play in, I just can't help but wonder after reading the bagman article.
No. While I imagine bagmen play into the recruitment of one of the guys who has decommitted, the situation there was more local guys getting involved with family members than anything Michigan did or did not do.
I don't know if Michigan actually has bagmen per se. It doesn't seem like their style, and it doesn't really seem like their style to remove support even if they do exist.
Occam's Razor suggests that the guys who have decommitted have done so because they saw last season's football team and are a little leery of signing on with a program that might be seeing a coaching change in the near future.
[After the JUMP: some soccer stuff.]
Reading your pieces regarding the World Cup run by the USMNT as well as following the O'Bannon trial stuff has left me with an interesting question. Do you think that significant change with the NCAA would lead to significant changes in sports like soccer?
College soccer in this country has a history of sending players to the USMNT (Dempsey, Zusi, Omar, etc) but it seems like MLS is now pushing more towards developing young players and getting them into a professional environment sooner (Yedlin, Luis Gil). Klinsmann has talked in the past about the benefits of a professional environment opposed to playing college soccer.
If changes came down the pipe regarding likeness rights or paying players, how would you foresee schools utilizing the new rules? Are they going to continue to focus on revenue sports or will the non-revenue stuff see the changes as well? What about if the power conferences break off to form their own division away from the NCAA? Just curious as to your thoughts of how NCAA changes would affect other non-major sports.
Des Moines, IA
College soccer has been flogged as a hindrance to the USMNT for far too long. Soccer's like reading: if you can't do it by 18 there ain't nothing a college can do to help you. The NCAA's practice and game restrictions are an increasingly small issue since a lot of top-flight prospects either skip college entirely or leave after a year or two.
They can do this now because there are people willing to pay them to play. NCAA structure is less of a problem than the fact that there were few (or no) alternatives. MLS is gradually changing this. They keep adding teams, and now there's a push towards having USL PRO affiliate reserve teams.
So, yeah, in a world where a small number of schools can go do something innovative without having to get it past Indiana State, there is the possibility of revamping a portion of college soccer to make more sense in the larger context. One way to do this is to ignore the NCAA altogether. BYU's team plays in the PDL, which is roughly the fourth tier of soccer in the country. They have to go to class and keep on track to graduate; they are otherwise completely free to do whatever they want to soccer their best soccer.
Zoom out a bit. Chicago's currently playing a kid named Harrison Shipp, who was a homegrown signing for them. (MLS now has a rule that kids you developed in your academy for at least a year can be signed without going through the draft.) He spent a year at ND before signing for MLS. There's a kid at Stanford everyone's hype about who the Sounders will scoop up in another year.
It would make sense to formalize these relations, to take a number of colleges who are open to the idea and make them extensions of these MLS teams' academies. The NCAA could allow this; if they don't the colleges can just go do it on their own, like BYU. This will help fix the current problem with college soccer: it's got the brands but it doesn't have the level of play to make it attractive. You might have something if Washington and Ohio State and Northwestern were local affiliates for MLS teams.
This is probably too weird to fit in the NCAA even in the upcoming autonomy era, but there's no reason every sport has to be sanctioned by Mark Emmert. Sometimes NCAA sports are just dumb. Don't get me started on baseball.
General Comment - I think a lot of the country got caught up in the World Cup and while we don't want MGoBlog to turn into MGoUSMNT, I think it would be welcomed to build a little on your recent coverage before fall.
With hindsight being 20-20, what decisions (with tactics or personnel) would you have made differently, building off of your game columns?
In hindsight? I would have replaced Davis with Donovan, Johannsson with Eddie Johnson, and Green with Mo Edu. Davis was nonentity in the Germany game, the US had no replacement for Altidore, and they had no defensive midfield backup once they decided that Beckerman and Jones were playing together.
If I had Klinsmann's roster, though, I don't think I would have done that much different other than roll with Beckerman against Belgium. Removing him turned out to be a major error that left Belgium pile and piles of space. I would have started Diskerud against Germany instead of Davis, with Mix at the tip of the diamond and Bradley/Jones as the "shuttlers" beside, but that hypothetical change wasn't likely to do much about the result.
There wasn't much else to do. Klinsmann was repeatedly, literally hamstrung with forced substitutions. The logical assumption after Johannsson went in for surgery as soon as the WC was over was that he was not available for selection, or at least that picking him would be a big gamble. Then you're down to Wondolowski as your one true striker. That's some bad luck.
I don't think most casual fans realize that we never got to see Bradley or Dempsey play their actual positions/roles in this tournament with Altidore's injury. How would the product on the field looked if those three players were in their natural spots/roles? Do you think it would have affected any outcomes?
Oh, I don't know, man. We saw how Germany's back line got stretched over and over again by Algeria's Islam Slimani. That kind of thing is definitely in Altidore's wheelhouse and would have given the US a pressure outlet, allowing them to have more of the game. And then we saw a major uptick in USA possession once Wondolowski came in, as Dempsey finally got to drop back into the midfield and combine with Bradley.
That's the part that really hurts. With Altidore up top there was a clear link pattern: defenders get it to Bradley—Bradley, Dempsey, and Altidore interchange. Cutting out Altidore and replacing him with either Zusi, Bedoya, or Davis was a huge downgrade.
I do think the US would have had more possession and found more balanced games. They may not have turned that extra possession into goals, but it's hard to judge Klinsmann for not delivering the pretty possession soccer he promised once an admittedly irreplaceable chunk of the team goes out.
On my very first scouting assignment for MGoBlog, I witnessed the future—and, of course, was totally oblivious to this fact. As Farmington Hills Harrison blew out eventual state champs Cass Tech with surprising ease to open the 2011 season, I watched from my press box perch at Eastern Michigan while Eric snapped pictures from the sideline.
Devin Funchess ambled out wide, as he'd done for much of the evening. He faced off against Jourdan Lewis, at that time the #2 corner on Cass Tech behind future Wolverine Terry Richardson, who drew the seemingly tougher assignment against the focal point of the Harrison offense, future Michigan State receiver Aaron Burbridge. Lewis was a relative unknown, holding a lone offer from Toledo. Eric took the photo that graces the top of this post.
It's an absurd picture. There's Funchess, looking like a coat rack in shoulder pads, assembling his limbs into something approximating a wide receiver's stance. He dwarfs Lewis, who's got the same deer-legged awkwardness while wearing a jersey top that appears at least two sizes too large.
You'd be excused if you thought neither of these guys would make an impact at Michigan, just based on this photo. Funchess was too gangly for a tight end prospect. Lewis, while bigger than Richardson, still fit the mold of pint-sized Cass Tech corner, which was already becoming a dubious distinction.
Once each player came out of their pigeon-toed stances, however, a bright future was apparent. Funchess ran with an effortless glide, and in limited opportunities to make an impact, he did so in a way that foreshadowed a future at Not Tight End:
Funchess displayed great hands and concentration, making his first reception on a tipped pass, and he finished with three receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown by my count (I'm pretty sure the Detroit News recap omits his first catch). Unfortunately for those who missed the game, I was tweeting when Funchess recorded his touchdown catch, so you'll have to believe me when I say he ran a great route up the seam, plucked the ball out of the air, and showed nice speed getting into the end zone on the 31-yard scoring play. His other catch also came when he found a hole in the middle of the defense – from limited viewing, I like what I see in his route-running, hands, and athleticism.
My ability to process this information—and maintain a healthy skepticism of high school weight listings—exposed my inexperience:
On a side note, for those of you who think that Michigan should try to convert Funchess into a wide receiver, I don't see that happening – he already weighs around 215 pounds, and looks like he could easily add another 20-30 before he gets to Ann Arbor.
Funchess came to Michigan listed at 225 pounds in 2012, and that was a lie. He played tight end for the next season-and-a-half. He did so even though no Michigan coach in the history of Michigan coaches would've played him there if given a choice; still paper-thin and lacking refined technique, his blocking was bad enough that he called himself a "pretty boy" heading into his sophomore season.
By that time, though, he'd already shown what he'd become over the second half of his sophomore season. After Michigan's 2012 blowout of Illinois, Brian described the play that inspired the creation of one of the first two MGoGIFs to exist—before I even knew how to watermark them—as such:
My God, It's Made Of Funchess note of the week. From my vantage point in the stadium, I thought the play-action rollout that eventually turned into the Funchess touchdown had been defeated by coverage. I thought that Denard saw this too and was chunking the ball out of the endzone, which I was pleased with—WOO NO INTERCEPTION—as I saw the ball soar into the stands… at least the dance team… well past Devin Funchess's outstretched… oh.
Wow. Is that legal? Should I clap now? Is touchdown? Is touchdown. Clap. Smile.
We clapped. We smiled. We started listing Funchess as a "FLEX" before giving in entirely to the proper designation: Wide Receiver Devin Funchess. Now he's Top Returning Receiver In The Big Ten Devin Funchess. He runs fly routes past cornerbacks and over the top of safety help. Single cover him and the cornerback might as well not exist. Attempts to tackle him at the knees are not recommended.
Michigan has their tight end of the future, but it's not Funchess, it's Jake Butt. More tight end help is on the way. Meanwhile, the tight end of future past is now the next great Michigan wideout of the present, not to mention a potential first-round NFL draft pick. We saw this coming, but we didn't see this coming.
As for the high school junior who faced off against Funchess on that August evening in 2011, Jourdan Lewis picked up his coveted Michigan offer the following February, and a scant couple weeks later committed along with Cass Tech teammate David Dawson during that unforgettable eight-commit weekend. He's set to challenge for a starting cornerback spot in a loaded secondary this fall after showing flashes of serious potential as a freshman last season. On that loaded Cass Tech defense, which featured current U-M LB Royce Jenkins-Stone in addition to Richardson, he looked the best of them all:
Lewis, Cass Tech's other corner/wideout/returner, was their best player on the field on Saturday, in my opinion. The junior is listed by Rivals at 5'11", 170, and his size allows him to be much more physical – he had a couple big hits on both receivers and ballcarriers and was generally solid in his tackling, and he certainly wasn't afraid to step up and hit somebody. Lewis is not quite as fast or quick as Richardson, but he still has very good speed and agility and was able to show that off in all three phases of the game. Lewis had the best play of the night for Cass Tech's defense, coming up with a diving interception on their own goal line. He already has an offer from Toledo, and I expect he'll get offers from much more prominent programs – including Michigan – in the near future. He has the look of a BCS-level athlete and I like his potential as a bigger cornerback who can make plays against the pass or the run.
"Bigger cornerback," in this case, was relative to Richardson. That's my story, at least, and I'm sticking to it.
Lewis showed off that physicality this spring, when he looked like the cornerback best suited to Michigan's new emphasis on press coverage. Once again, he lined up often against Funchess. Once again, he more than held his own.
Funchess is already a star. Lewis looks like he's on his way. I wish I could say I knew this would happen, but there's Eric's picture, resplendent in its awkwardness, reminding me that potential is a hell of a thing to project.
Unrelated but never unrelated (h/t @smartfootball)
Ranking things is fun, or at least so BuzzFeed tries to tell me every freaking day of my life. And just like any prediction, rankings that attempt to predict the future are typically a fool’s errand. But we are fools, so ON WITH THE PREDICTING.
Trying to project year-to-year development in college football is tricky at best. But we can also try extrapolate by asking two relatively simple questions: (1) were they good at the thing last year, and (2) how many of the people who did the thing last year will be back this year?
The question of the day is this: which Big Ten team will have the best run defense in 2014?
Were they good last year?
This part is easy. There are many ways to break down how effective various run defenses were last year, and while none is perfect, together they give a pretty comprehensive picture. A few of the key measurements:
Yards per carry (sacks removed) - Pretty basic. When the opposing offense tried a run the ball, how far did they go?
YPC (w/o sacks)
Rushing Defensive S&P+ ranking – A fancy rejiggering of statistics based on outcomes for every running play a defense faces.
Rushing S&P+ (nat’l rank)
Adjusted Line Yards – A breakdown of yards per rush compared to what would be statistically expected, and then adjusted for level of competition.
Adj. Line Yards (nat’l rank)
And taking the Big Ten rankings for the various stats together, you get the following rough composite order. Being higher is better and being lower is worse (which you would have known anyway based on the teams at the top and bottom):
So 2013 defensive front performances look to shake out into a few tiers:
- Michigan State: They get a tier all their own. I probably don’t have to explain this.
- Pretty good: Rutgers, Iowa, Wisconsin, Penn State
- Meh: Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State
- Butt (Not Jake Butt): Northwestern, Nebraska, Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue, Illinois
How much do they return?
Answering the question "how many starters from the front seven return?" is a little trickier. Take Michigan for example: how many defensive starters did they lose? They lost Jibreel Black and Quinton Washington, but weren’t they kind of the same guy? Do you count that as two starters lost, or one? In a way, it doesn’t matter, as we’re just trying to get a sense for what various teams lost, not necessarily to quantify it. However, to give a very rough estimate of the kind of production everyone is losing, I included the percentage of the team’s total tackles accounted for by guys I deemed to be departing starters from the front seven.
Denicos Allen is gone. Clearly MSU will now be terrible.
The obvious caveats. The first is that tackles are an inexact proxy for quality. A mediocre inside linebacker will usually make more tackles than a top-flight defensive tackle (Nebraska LB David Santos made 87 tackles. Penn State DT DaQuan Jones made 56. Jones was first team All-B1G and a 4th round draft pick. Santos was terrible and was replaced by a freshman mid-season). However, we’re doing qualitative analysis with a quantitative kicker, not the reverse, so it’s helpful information that isn’t vital to our thesis. The second caveat is that the front seven aren’t the only people involved in run defense. Solid safety play is a big deal.
So, here’s where we are:
How good in 2013?
Returning starters (Front 7)
% of tackles by lost starters
|Penn State||Pretty good||5||16.8|
They run the gamut from returning everyone (Indiana) to returning no one (Wisconsin).
A pattern emerges
You may notice that the better defenses are the ones that lose more people. This makes intuitive sense; defenses with more seniors are, all things being equal, better. Of the four defenses we labeled as “MSU” or “Pretty Good,” three (MSU, Iowa, and Wisconsin) suffer serious losses, and I’d argue those were the three best run defenses last year.
So, who are the contenders for Best Run Defense for 2014?
Contenders based on returning talent
- 4.22 YPC
- #33 S&P+
- #45 Adj. LY
- 6 returning starters
Michigan returns all of the major pieces of a run defense that was fair-to-good. Other than getting shredded by OSU for 393 yards at 8.5 YPC, they didn’t surrender more than 170 yards or 5 YPC in any of their other games. Add a healthy Jake Ryan, and if the defensive tackle play is good Michigan looks primed for a big year.
There is no advanced stat that appropriately values “beat running back to death with quarterback”.
- 3.82 YPC
- #22 S&P+
- #31 Adj. LY
- 6 returning starters
I love a good Rutgers joke as much as anyone (you know what’s a good Rutgers joke? Rutgers), but they actually had a solid run defense last year. They had the third-best YPC average (albeit against weaker competition), and they have some solid talent in the front seven with Darius Hamilton, WLB Steve Longa, and MLB Kevin Snyder. Granted, the run defense might just look good because Rutgers’ pass defense is so unbelievably bad, but such is life in Piscataway.
- 4.54 YPC
- #42 S&P+
- #35 Adj. LY
- 7 returning starters
Like Rutgers, we like to make Maryland jokes, but the run defense was pretty solid, and they return their entire front seven. Darius Kilgo and Andre Monroe anchor their 3-4 defense and do an excellent job of keeping linebackers clean. If they can stay healthy (never a guarantee at Maryland these days), they will be very good again.
- 4.67 YPC
- #8 S&P+, #13 Adj. LY
- 5 returning starters
Much like Michigan, Penn State had one implosion of a defensive game (also against Ohio State) and generally held up very well otherwise. You may recall 27-for-27 as a thing that happened. They lose DaQuan Jones, but they return C.J. Olaniyan and Deion Barnes. If MLB Mike Hull can avoid that always-troubling 37th major injury, Penn State could contend for top honors, though depth remains a concern.
Penn State reacted well to subtlety
Contenders based on history
- 3.61 YPC
- #2 S&P+
- #2 Adj. LY.
- 3 returning starters
State lost both starting defensive tackles, uber-productive (and TOTALLY NOT SUSPICIOUS IN ANY WAY) MIKE Max Bullough, and Denicos Allen. But I’m not an idiot, and the last thing I’m going to declare is that Michigan State will be taking some giant step back. The internet remembers such stupid declarations and revisits them. In the last 6 years, MSU’s rushing defense S&P+ rating (in chronological order) was #28, #23, #31, #5, #2, and #2. They have finished as the best rushing defense (in terms of YPC) in the Big Ten the last three years. Shilique Calhoun isn’t a great run-defender, but Marcus Rush and Taiwan Jones are pretty good, and… yeah. Again. Not an idiot.
- 4.07 YPC
- #7 S&P+
- #14 Adj. LY
- 3 returning starters
Iowa loses their entire linebacking corp, along with their 322 combined tackles. The remaining linebackers on the roster had 29 tackles last year. Combined. Howeverm Iowa returns almost all of the best defensive lines in the conference, including two of the best defensive tackles in Carl Davis and Louis Trinca-Pasat. Iowa’s worst defensive rushing performance in the last six years was roughly on par with Michigan’s performance last year, and they have been a top-30 rushing defense almost every year. Ferentz has zombie powers, so it could happen.
- 3.80 YPC
- #9 S&P+
- #17 Adj. LY
- 0 returning starters
The 2013 Wisconsin Badgers had a very good starting front seven. But so did the ’85 Bears. And those two groups have something in common: none of them will be lining up for Wisconsin in 2014. The Badgers didn’t just lose nominal starters, either: Chris Borland alone accounted for an estimated 793 tackles per game. They return SOME production along the DL in Konrad Zagzebski and Warren Herring, but this is almost entirely a reclamation job. Wisconsin doesn’t have a history of dominant rush defenses either; their average S&P+ rush defense form 2008-2012 was #33 in the country, and their average Big Ten rank in YPC over that time was a shade better than 6th in the conference. Unless Gary Andersen is a wizard of some kind, regression beckons.
Hey, look, it’s Wisconsin’s front seven.
- 4.60 YPC
- #84 S&P+
- #88 Adj. LY
- 5 returning starters
Nebraska has the opposite problem Wisconsin had. The Huskers bring almost everyone back, but the guys they bring back weren’t very good last year. Nebraska was really good at getting to the QB last year (2nd only to OSU), which combined with a soft schedule to make their raw yards-per-carry numbers look somewhat decent. But remove those sacks or take anything other than a surface glance, and Nebraska wasn’t good on the ground. Randy Gregory is a hell of a pass rusher, but he’s not great against the run. It’s unlikely Nebraska will be in the conversation at the end of the year.
- 5.90 YPC
- #75 S&P+
- #49 Adj. LY
- 6 returning starters
Hey, they return a lot of guys. Lloyd Christmas dot jpg.
Not even pretending
Teams that weren’t good last year and have to replace significant portions of those not-good defenses
- 4.83 YPC
- #57 S&P+
- #77 Adj. LY
- 4 returning starters
Remember when they were ranked last year?
- 5.03 YPC
- #79 S&P+
- #58 Adj. LY
- 4 returning starters
Thieran Cochran is good. The rest of Minnesota is not good.
- 5.60 YPC
- 76 S&P+
- #79 Adj. LY
- 3 returning starters
- 5.93 YPC
- #83 S&P+
- #62 Adj. LY
- 4 returning starters
Gave up over 250 yards in 7 different games. Only held one power conference team under 4 YPC. Gave up 29 rushing TDs. Was bad.
My answer is ‘I don’t have the first damn clue’
- 4.29 YPC
- #58 S&P+
- #96 (!!!) Adj. LY
- 6 returning starters
They had a good YPC average, but the advanced statistics say they were somewhere between bad and abysmal. They only lose one starter, but that starter (Ryan Shazier) made 144 tackles and 23.5 tackles for loss. They return theoretically one of the best lines on the country, but how good can it be if it was so bad against the run last year? I am perplexed.
Strictures require that I take a guess
My monkey-choosing-mutual-funds stab at the 2014 sack-free YPC rankings:
- Michigan State
- Penn State
- Ohio State
Well now that's over and we can think about… oh. I can't believe I got a bunch of people going "but I want to talk about football" in this offseason of all offseasons. Happy now?
Anyway, as a result of my quadrennial case of World Cup fever some of these links are a bit old. You have been warned.
The best thing to come out of the Big Ten expansion.
- OREBs are gradually declining as more teams abandon the boards for better transition defense (probably).
- Layups get OREB'd slightly more than 40% of the time, with jumpers and threes OREB'd slightly more than 30% of the time. Threes are least likely to get OREB'd, so don't let those long bouncers back out fool you.
- Anything that gets blocked and stays in play is about 32% to be OREB'd.
Offensive rebounds are more likely as the game goes on, which is a pretty weird finding to me but there it is. The late surge makes sense since trailing teams will go all out and damn the transition torpedoes, but the rest of it is a bit weird.
And yet it moves. A palpable cut for one Jalen Coleman. This is not a drill (nor is it, like, something that is new, but I was waiting for more basketball recruiting news that did not appear):
Coleman, a 6-foot-3 guard from La Lumiere High School in La Porte, Ind., will choose between Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Notre Dame, UNLV and NC State, according to Scout.com recruiting analyst Brian Snow.
Notre Dame, oddly, is rumored to be Michigan's main competition. They do have proximity and (probable) playing time, but they haven't exactly been Beilein-standard during the interminable Mike Brey era.
Kings draftin' Stauskas.
Yeah, probably. Gary Parrish asks a question about Beilein:
Is John Beilein the best at turning lowly recruits into lottery picks?
Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas both shot into the lottery after being in the 70s or 80s as recruits… just wait until next year, when Caris LeVert probably adds his name in there somewhere. Parrish's trump card:
Of the 20 players selected in the top 10 of the past two NBA Drafts, 18 were former top 75 prospects and/or players who spent at least three seasons in college. The only exceptions? Burke and Stauskas -- both of whom enrolled at Michigan as unheralded recruits, earned Big Ten Player of the Year honors as sophomores, turned pro and were selected in the top 10 of the subsequent NBA Draft.
Bonkers, man. This is such a smart quote in re: how:
"We try to project whether a player is on the rise or if he's already where he's gonna be," Beilein said. "A lot of the [analysts'] early projections on players, I think, are made because the players' bodies are ahead of everybody else's bodies. And if you saw Nik or Caris, back when they were 16 years old, their bodies weren't ahead of anybody else's bodies."
Not that projecting based on bodies is necessarily a bad strategy—it seems to be working just fine for, uh, everybody. But when you're trying to assemble a starting five that's ten picks away from being all first-rounders and you don't have the recent pedigree of the Dukes and the Kentuckies, it is (obviously) a rather good idea.
Okay okay one more quote:
"Lots of coaches work on shooting with players, but Beilein teaches guys how to shoot," an NBA executive told me. "He doesn't just work with them. He actually teaches them."
Let's talk about hockey. Over The Boards lists the top 15 college guys for next year's draft, featuring three guys committed to Michigan at numbers 4, 5, and 6. Or mostly committed, in Zach Werenski's case. Nick Boka:
4. 97 D Nick Boka – NTDP U18 – Michigan
The Michigan recruit has an aggressive, athletic upside that could come on very strong in his draft year. Wins battles in the tough areas of the ice and can provide puck support. We like Werenski’s total skillset more right now, but Boka could easily emerge as the best American talent on the blue line in this draft behind Hanifin.
The top nine guys are all headed to Michigan, BC, or BU, FWIW.
This is appalling. National Football Post puts up a thing about NFL talent with a boggling Michigan thing. This is the second half of the chart running down the top 37 producers of NFL talent in the league, as ordered by 2013 player starts. Michigan's cliff is insane:
Nutshell, meet Michigan's barely over .500 record since Bo's death. It's not quite that bad in real life, as a combination of circumstances reduced Michigan's number to the "Stanford before 2009" number you see above. Actually, it's just one circumstance: Stevie Brown getting knocked out with an injury.
Your top overall pre-2009 producers:
- Miami (That Miami)
- Florida State
Michigan is dead last since, amongst this sample. NOW ARE YOU HAPPY TO TALK ABOUT FOOTBALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL /rock musik
All right, sir, you have my attention. MmmgobluBBQ, a Michigan-themed grill/tailgate/BBQ blog exists, and… yes sir, I subscribe.
That… is beautiful, and then you realize that the onion ring there is bacon-wrapped.
Let's not do this. Michigan went over its travel budget for the bowl game by just over 100k, causing assertions that Michigan took a loss on the thing. That is not accurate, as even the article states:
Ultimately, the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl left U-M roughly $132,000 in the red. …
U-M's loss of $132,000 does not include revenue brought in from the Big Ten's shared bowl revenue plan, which splits all Big Ten bowl revenue among the conference's 12 teams.
So, not in the red. Just slightly over the Big Ten's travel allotment.
Etc. Don't click this box score unless you want to be reminded of last year. Stop taking pictures of yourself, twits. I BLAME YOU ELLEN. Don't use a null hypothesis when that's not sensible. Contains subtweet shade thrown at David Berri (the "salaries don't predict wins" bit). Nussmeier talks with Bruce Feldman.
Four-Star Vine, I'd Say
It's perhaps the biggest week in camp season, as the Elite 11(-ish) is underway and Nike's elite camp The Opening begins tomorrow. Quarterback Alex Malzone is representing Michigan in both events, and linebacker Darrin Kirkland will join him for The Opening; tight end Chris Clark was also slated to attend the latter event, but pulled out due to personal reasons, per Tim Sullivan ($).
Day one of the Elite 11 finals is already in the books, though the meat of the event takes place today. Malzone measured in at 6'1", 202 pounds when he arrived, and told 247's Barton Simmons of his recruiting plans for later this week:
"I've built some good relationships with a lot of our top targets," he said. "Auden Tate and Michael Weber are a couple guys I'm looking to talk to. Keisean Lucier-South is another big one. Ray-Ray McCloud is another. The coaches have mentioned some guys I should talk to, but I've done most of the work on my own. I'm looking forward to meeting all the players Darrin (Kirkland) and I have been talking to and finding out the interest."
Simmons suggested both Malzone and Kirkland are poised to move up in 247's rankings if they turn in solid performances this week; Malzone recently moved into high three-star territory (and picked up a fourth star on the 247 Composite) and seems likely to earn a fourth from 247 sooner or later. The E11 quarterbacks who haven't already been selected will also get the opportunity to play for a spot in the Army All-American Bowl. In a brief, free update from the first day of E11, Simmons praised Malzone's presence, focus, and arm strength. So far, so good.
If you're looking to watch any of the camps, The Opening will be televised on ESPNU starting tomorrow night; the full schedule is here.
Happy Trails: Four Off The Board
I'm equally confused, Tim.
Four prospects holding Michigan offers went off the board since last Wednesday; three decisions went as expected, while one came as a bit of a surprise.
Nobody was shocked when both five-star OLB Justin Hilliard and four-star DL Jashon Cornell committed to Ohio State during simultaneous announcements last week; each favored the Buckeyes recently and stated a desire to play together. Jumbo WR Miles Boykin's commitment to Notre Dame was similarly predictable.
Then there's three-star TX WR A.D. Miller, who holds offers from the likes of Arizona State, BYU, Miami (YTM), Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington. He chose...
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) July 6, 2014
With Boykin and Miller off the table, expect Michigan to make a hard push for another big wideout, 6'4" FL four-star Auden Tate, whose recruitment may come down to a battle between the Wolverines, Florida State (the presumed leader), and Florida. With the other offered receivers on Michigan's board likely ticketed elsewhere, it wouldn't surprise if some new offers went out, as well.
Michigan stopped recruiting Cornell because he'd gained enough weight to project inside; they'd previously wanted him as a weakside DE, and the top option there remains five-star California prospect Keisean Lucier-South, who gave an update on his recruitment to Brandon last week. As for outside linebacker, U-M is high on the respective lists of UT four-star Osa Masina and in-state four-star legacy Tyriq Thompson. Four-star TN ILB Joshua McMillon, who's had very good things to say about the Wolverines recently, could also project to the outside.
2015 Visit Updates
Per 247's Ryan Bartow, four-star NC CB Mook Reynolds, a current Virginia Tech commit, will visit Ann Arbor for July 27th's BBQ at the Big House. While a few other big-name schools are also in pursuit, that's the only visit he's got planned for now. He'll be at The Opening, as well, where he'll likely get some attention from Michigan's pair of commits in attendance.
Also planning a BBQ visit is three-star NC DE Kengera Daniel, whose ranking belies an impressive offer sheet that includes Alabama, Miami (YTM), and Tennessee in addition to Michigan. According to Tim Sullivan($), Daniel plans to take his official visits before making a decision during his senior season; securing one of those officials will be key for landing his commitment.
Scout's Sam Hellman caught up with recently offered four-star NJ ATH Ahmir Mitchell, who told him that unlike all the other schools that have offered him as a receiver, Michigan is recruiting him as a safety ($).
Four-star IN DE Auston Robertson, who camped at Michigan and is expecting an offer relatively soon, will be back in Ann Arbor for the BBQ, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($). While Notre Dame is his early leader, he said that the Wolverines would join them at the top of his list if they come through with an offer.
Five-star Cincinnati (OH) Elder OL Tommy Kraemer told Lorenz that Michigan could join a pair of familiar foes at the top of his list should the coaches, as expected, extend him an offer ($):
Kraemer, who holds offers from Ohio State and Notre Dame among others, says the Wolverines would immediately join that top group with an offer.
"They're the team I grew up following," he said. "My dad coached a former Michigan player and I've always been told about how great of a place it is there. I would want to visit and see it for myself first, but I am pretty sure they would be right there with the other schools I'm highly considering."
Kraemer was invited to the BBQ, but is unlikely to attend because of a conflict with his high school team's camp; he's looking to set up a visit before that camp starts on July 17th. With Kraemer planning to make a decision after his junior season, expect Michigan to throw their hat in the ring whenever he gets on campus.