From Portage Northern.
Chris Brown of the website "Smart Football" (smartfootball.com) recently published a book called "The Essential Smart Football." In it, Brown compiles a set of previously written website articles that cover a broad range of topics. He organizes the chapters into four parts -- Characters, History, Theory, and Concepts.
In part four Brown offers a chapter titled, "Nick Saban's Defense School."
Given the upcoming game against Alabama I thought it might be interesting to summarize some of the points Brown makes in this chapter and offer a framework for discussion of what Michigan must do to effectively attack this defense and win.
DISCLAIMERS AND STARTING COMMENTS
- I strongly encourage people to pick up a copy of "The Essential Smart Football." It's a very good book.
- The article on Saban was originally written in 2008. I trust it's still relevant, otherwise Brown would not have included it in the book.
- I am by no means an expert in the X's and O's of football. I am, however, trying to learn more.
- I welcome any and all feedback that might help me and others understand further the tactical and strategic nuances of this wonderful game called Football.
SABAN'S PHILOSOPHY OF DEFENSE
The opening few pages of this chapter outlines the essence of Saban and his approach to defense:
- He's a disciple of Belichick ... he was a defensive backs coach under Belichick
- He tends to favor a 3-4, though he'll often go 4-3
- His stated goal is to stop the run on first and second downs
- He focuses on defending inside first, then outside
- He is very aggressive on passing downs
- He is attentive to technique and details
- His favorite defense is a variation on a "Cover 1" which Saban calls a "Cover 1 Robber"
- He tends to play zone with his secondary
Throughout this chapter, Chris Brown makes it clear none of this is particularly revolutionary or "tricky" in any way. At its core it is a relatively simple defensive approach that relies on execution and athletic ability. Alabama clearly gets good athletes. As to execution, Brown ends the chapter with, "Saban demands perfection and has no qualms about spending the grinding hours working on the finer details to make it happen."
"COVER 1 ROBBER" DEFENSE
The basic "Cover 1" defense (sans "Robber") is, as Brown writes, "...quite simple: the '1' refers to a deep safety who aligns in the middle while the offense's potential receivers are covered man-to-man, often with a press or bump-and-run technique. The defense needs a great center fielder at free safety who can stop the deep ball and cover sideline to sideline."
That's the basic "Cover 1." Brown writes that "once you've locked in five guys in man coverage along with a deep free safety, you can do whatever you want with the other five defenders." Further, "with just one free safety deep, the defense can get in a lot of eight-man fronts."
Recall Saban's approach -- stop the run, defend inside first.
The "'Cover 1 Robber' works in a similar manner, except there are only four rushers ... one drops back into an intermediate zone and pays close attention to the QB's eyes to try to 'rob' any pass routes over the middle." Brown writes: "The key is for the floater to be able to read run, screen or pass and to use his eyes to get to the receiver and the ball."
Here's what I think is a very relevant quote from the book -- "Cover 1 Robber is useful -- not perfect -- against spread offense teams with mobile quarterbacks because the floater may not only read the quarterback's eyes on passing downs but also to watch him for scrambles and to mirror him on run plays."
In a different chapter on Al Borges, Brown seeks to compare Borges to Rodriguez in terms of approach. Brown writes: "Under Rodriguez, Robinson was Michigan's offense, which began to eschew even the 'read' part of zone reads in favor of simply having Robinson keep it himself on an outside zone play, time and time again."
I bring this up not to stir that pot again, but to raise a question ... if we stipulate Brown's point, and we factor in another comment by Brown that the Cover 1 Robber is probably the most prevelant defense in the SEC, I wonder if this helps explain (at least in part) the Gator Bowl against Mississippi State?
Without effective constraint plays (see next) the Robber is free to cheat up and (maybe) the free safety as well. For all Denard's skills as a runner, I'm not sure even those skills can overcome two talented defensive players expecting QB runs and shadowing Robinson's playmaking.
Let's get back to Cover 1 Robber. As stated earlier, Saban tends to play zone with his corners, safeties and his "Robber." Brown then differentiates "pattern reading" versus "spot drops" within the zones. In essence, "spot drops" have defenders go to a particular spot within the zone, then react to the QB's eyes and the flight of the ball. In contrast, Brown writes: "Pattern reading, on the other hand, is much like matchup zone in basketball. Defenders are responsible for zones, but they play tight to the receivers who come through those zones." Pattern reading requires defenders who can, as the name implies, recognize passing patterns and react appropriately. And perhaps more importantly it requires well-executed passing-off of receivers to other defenders as receivers run their routes.
Saban likes to run Cover 1 Robber with pattern reading zone coverage. Again, to run this really well (which Alabama tends to do), it requires: (a) very good athletes that (b) understand and execute well.
Now ... there's little doubt Saban has all manner of variations to this, with different looks and adjustments. The point is that this appears to be Saban's favorite defense, or so says Chris Brown in that chapter of the book.
"Essential Smart Football" has a chapter titled, "The Constraint Theory of Offense." The basic idea is that over time a defense will "cheat" defenders up (or back) to attempt an advantage against the offense's base plays. A "constraint" play is one designed to strike at the weakness created by the defense's cheating. Thus an offense with a set of effective constraint plays can make a defense pay for, as Chris Brown writes, "their impatience."
So, for example, if the Robber tends to cheat up on run plays, a "constraint" play would be to hit a crossing receiver in that vacated zone. Do that enough and the cheating defender learns not to cheat up. This puts the defense back into what the offense can (it hopes) attack with its strength.
This brings up two questions I myself can't answer:
- Q1 -- Can Michigan's base offensive strengths match up and gain advantage against Alabama's base defensive play?
- Q2 -- What "constraint" plays does Borges have in mind to counter Alabama "cheating" on defense?
With all this on the table, now comes my attempt to put a framework around the upcoming game against Alabama.
MICHIGAN'S OFFENSE vs. ALABAMA'S DEFENSE
I reiterate my disclaimer earlier -- I'm only a novice at this X's and O's stuff. I eagerly invite more expert insight ... seriously ... help me :-)
It's almost cliche to write that the key to the game is "execution" and "avoiding mistakes." But just because it's cliche does not make it untrue.
Let's just stipulate that the team that plays sloppy, mistake-filled football loses the game. Or said another way, let's assume a reasonable level of execution and go from there. (Given it's the first game of the season that assumption is a bit of a stretch ... but still, we'll start there.)
I'll offer five thoughts as to Michigan's offense against this Cover 1 Robber:
(1) Offensive Line -- in the absence of specific blitz packages, the Cover 1 Robber has only four rushing. The other seven defenders are back in zone or covering potential receivers or runners. So can Michigan's offensive line provide adequate protection against that defensive front? I'm of the thinking that defensive penetration into the backfield is the cornerstone of defeat for an offense. Can Michigan's line, playing reasonably well, keep Alabama's line at bay?
(2) Denard Robinson -- specifically, has his decision making improved such that he can pass against this zone defense loaded with really talented athletes? Further, how well can Denard disguise what his eyes are looking at? In a video of Al Borges a few months back Borges commented how he likes the winged helmets because they allow him (Borges), when reviewing film, to see where the quarterback was looking. It seems reasonable it would also help a defender see where Robinson is looking. If Robinson stares down his receivers too much, that might give Alabama zone defenders enough to read and react.
(3) Receivers -- can they find seams in the Alabama zones and stay open enough for Robinson to reach them? This is predicated the success of item 1 above. Not many teams were successful in that last year. But of course Alabama lost a great deal of last year's talent.
(4) Touissant+Robinson -- meaning, the run game. Alabama is famously tough up the middle. As stated earlier, Saban's philosophy is to defend inside first, then outside. To the extent the run is available at all it may be outside ... and then can Touissant and Robinson exploit? My knowledge of offensive football really falls down here ... I do not know enough about running offense to begin to speculate on how this part of the game might be attacked. Any insights?
(5) Constraint Plays -- what does Borges have up his sleeves to keep the Alabama offense honest? And will whatever he has be effective? One of the things Brown mentions in the book is that the West Coast philosophy as espoused by Bill Walsh was to attack with passing on first and second down precisely because defenses are stacking against the run on first and second. Saban has said as much. Can Borges and Michigan make any hay here? Should they even try?
As I wrap this up I'll confess I'm left with no solid answers. I really don't know what will happen. I have oodles of hope about what will happen, however.
So we're back to cliche -- it's about execution ... first on the line, then in effective play selection and execution against what Alabama offers on defense. From there it becomes which is the better team on the field on that day.
If you’ve read enough of my pieces you know I don’t put a lot of stock in most of what football announcers talk about. Whether it is harmless and/or mindless cliches or things that are flat out wrong, much of football announcer conventional wisdom is more conventional than wisdom.
One of those cliches I wanted to look at was the concept that coaches love to go for the kill shot after a big momentum change like a turnover or a stop on downs. After a big defensive play, are coaches really trying to seize the opportunity and turn an expected possession into a quick score, and if so, is it working.
One thing to note is that a quick change does not significantly impact the offense’s ability to score. After adjusting for field position, there is virtually no difference in the offense’s expected points whether the drive was obtained by turnover, fourth down stop, punt or kickoff. Of course the field position is a win, but intercepting a ball 40 yards downfield on third down yields no existential benefit over knocking it down and fair catching a 40 yard punt on the next play. Punts and stops on fourth down have very slight positive impacts and turnovers actually decrease a team’s likelihood of scoring, but the effect is so small it’s typically not even worth a field goal over the course of an entire season.
So there is no special advantage of the big defensive play for the offensive side, but how often does the offense attempt to capitalize in a big way right off the bat. To evaluate this you have to figure out what you can measure. There aren’t really running plays that are designed to be big plays, except maybe a reverse, but that’s hard to identify over a large set of data. Same with trick plays. You can’t even tell where a pass is thrown. Was it a screen or a deep ball. Both could be incomplete or big plays.
To try and and answer the question the best approximation I could find was how often the first play of a drive was a pass and went for at least 20 yards. More big passing plays than in other situations would be a good indicator that teams were gunning for a quick strike. For the baseline I looked at drives obtained via kickoff, either after a made field goal, touchdown or start of a half. For these drives, only 8.9% of first plays were passes for at least 20 yards.
Drives resulting from a turnover on downs generated the highest deviation in successful attempts down field, producing big pass plays nearly 35% more often than the baseline scenario. Interceptions and punts were right behind with a 32% increase in big play generation. Coaches were still aggressive but to a lesser extent after a recovered fumble or an opponent’s missed field goals, producing big completions just over 20% more often. Despite safeties being a big momentum swing, that was the most conservative scenario for coaches long passes being less likely than any other scenario, even after adjusting for less field to work with. Even with large deviations, we still aren’t talking about this being a regular occurrence. The baseline is just under 9% and no situation generated more than 12% big pass plays.
So even though the question was answered that yes big plays do happen more frequently in this situation, there are still many things that I am unsure about. Is the increase in big plays because the defense is unprepared for the cliche move or because the opportunity for a big pass play is always there but the offense just doesn’t go for it as much in normal course of play. On top of that, is the increase success coming at a risk for offenses. As noted above, despite getting more big plays on the first play of the new drive, offenses aren’t actually scoring any more points on these drives. Maybe for each big momentum piling pass there are two incompletions that put the offense in an unnecessarily risky situation.
Having exhausted the stretches of my data my personal conjecture would be that yes offenses are going for the jugular at a higher rate immediately after a big defensive play. However, this strategy is probably a high deviation, zero average change result for both offense and defense. The evidence points to teams taking more and completing more big passes, but the untold story are the misses which are the likely culprit to the big defensive play not translating into any measurable offensive boom.
Based on the data and my inferences off of it, if I were advising coaches I would not recommend introducing the new risk to the offense and play it straight unless I was in a trailing or underdog situation. Defensivley, I would make sure the team is prepared to cover a big attempt. This should help reduce the likelihood of the big play for the opposing offense and hopefully increase the likelihood of a wasted down, putting the quick start defense in a good position right off of the bat.
(Click the image to view full size)
For most of us, our fanatical and absolute devotion to Michigan sports have gotten us into some degree of hot water at the workplace. Few of us would be so indignant, of course, but that wouldn't necessarily make for good reading, would it?
On Thursday we'll keep up with Tom and his ongoing altercation with THE MAN, namely the eternally grumpy Mr. Boyle.
THE BLOCKHAMS™ runs (typically) every Tuesday here at MGoBlog, and at least
every Thursday on its official home page. Also, don't forget to check out our newest
feature, Friday Roughs, a spontaneous low-end comic based on trending
Michigan events, available on Twitter and Facebook every Friday.
|Targets||Ht.||Wt.||40||High School||Rivals Rank||Scout Rank||247 Rank||Commit|
|Wilton Speight||6'6"||217||4.73||The Collegiate School, Richmond, VA||NR||NR||3*, #29 PRO||MICH|
|Jonathan Hilliman||6'||201||St. Peter's Prep, Jersey City, NJ||NR||3*, #27 RB||3*, #24 RB|
|Jalen Hurd||6'2"||190||Beech Sr HS, Hendersonville, TN||4*||4*, #7 RB||5*, #11 Nat'l, #1 RB|
|Bo Scarbrough||6'1"||215||4.5||Northridge HS, Tuscaloosa, AL||4*||4*, #6 RB||5*, #13 Nat'l, #2 ATH||Bama|
|Leonard Fournette||6'||210||St. Augustine HS, New Orleans, LA||5*||5*, #1 RB||5*, #5 Nat'l, #1 RB|
|L.J. Scott||6'||215||Marion Harding HS, Marion, OH||NR||NR||3*, #2 FB|
|Joe Mixon||6'||180||Freedom HS, Oakland, CA||4*||3*, #20 RB||4*, #174 Nat'l, #20 ATH|
|Elijah Hood||6'||212||4.55||Charlotte Catholic HS, Charlotte, NC||4*||4*, #13 RB||4*, #106 Nat'l, #9 ATH|
|Shai Mckenzie||6'||212||Washington HS, Washington, PA||4*, #159 Nat'l||NR||3*, #35 RB|
|Drake Harris||6'4"||180||Grand Rapids Christian HS, Grand Rapids, MI||4*||4*, #24 Nat'l, #3 WR||4*, #89 Nat'l, #10 WR||MSU|
|Mark Andrews||6'6"||225||Desert Mountain HS, Scottsdale, AZ||4*||4*, #10 WR||4*, #85 Nat'l, #2 TE|
|Josh Malone||6'3"||186||Station Camp HS, Gallatin, TN||4*||4*, #22 WR||4*, #60 Nat'l, #4 WR|
|Dionte Sykes||6'2"||190||Williams Field HS, Chandler, AZ||NR||NR||3*, #41 WR|
|Javon Harrison||6'2"||190||4.5||Kathleen HS, Lakeland, FL||4*||3*, #24 S||3*, #37 ATH||VT|
|Corey Holmes||6'1"||168||4.48||St. Thomas Aquinas HS, Fort Lauderdale, FL||NR||3*, #48 WR||4*, #36 WR|
|Marshon Lattimore||6'||185||Glenville, Cleveland, OH||4*||4*, #2 WR||NR|
|Artavis Scott||5'11"||180||East Lake HS, Tarpon Springs, FL||4*||4*, #15 WR||4*, #69 Nat'l, #6 WR|
|Demarre Kitt||6'1"||195||4.59||Sandy Creek HS, Tyrone, GA||4*||4*, #27 WR||4*, #177 Nat'l, #21 WR|
|Christian McCaffrey||6'||190||Valor Christian HS, Highlands Ranch, CO||4*, #195 Nat'l||3*, #38 RB||4*, #7 APB|
|Saeed Blacknall||6'3"||205||Manalapan HS, Manalapan, NJ||4*, #109 Nat'l||NR||4*, #211 Nat'l, #23 WR|
|K.J. Williams||6'2||190||Liberty HS, Bethlehem, PA||4*, #193 Nat'l||4*, #18 WR||4*, #153 Nat'l, #12 ATH|
|Malachi Dupre||6'4"||175||4.6||John Curtis Christian HS, River Ridge, LA||4*, #83 Nat'l||4*, #3 WR||4*, #59 Nat'l, #6 WR|
|Jeb Blazevich||6'5"||223||5.01||Charlotte Christian, Charlotte, NC||4*||3*, #7 TE||4*, #164 Nat'l, #5 TE|
|Nic Weishar||6'5"||215||Marist HS, Midlothian, IL||NR||NR||4*, #205 Nat'l, #8 TE|
|Tyler Luatua||6'4"||230||La Mirada HS, La Mirada, CA||4*||4*, #1 TE||4*, #19 Nat'l, #1 TE|
|Daniel Helm||6'5"||220||Glenwood HS, Chatham, IL||4*||NR||NR|
|Andy Bauer||6'6"||304||5.2||De Smet Jesuit HS, St. Louis, MO||4*||4*, #13 OT||4*, #68 Nat'l, #10 OT|
|Orlando Brown||6'8"||345||Peachtree Ridge HS, Duluth, GA||NR||3*, #34 OT||4*, #242 Nat'l, #25 OT|
|Damian Prince||6'7"||310||Bishop McNamara HS, Forestville, MD||4*||4*, #8 OT||5*, #14 Nat'l, #3 OT|
|Bentley Spain||6'6"||285||Providence HS, Charlotte, NC||4*||4*, #10 OT||4*, #18 Nat'l, #4 OT|
|Mason Cole||6'5"||270||East Lake HS, Tarpon Springs, FL||4*||4*, #20 OT||4*, #44 Nat'l, #6 OT||MICH|
|Jay Hayes||6'5"||270||Poly Prep, Brooklyn, NY||4*||4*, #9 OT||4*, #114 Nat'l, #8 DT||ND|
|Cameron Robinson||6'6"||320||Ouachita Parish HS, Monroe, LA||4*||5*, #3 Nat'l, #1 OT||5*, #4 Nat'l, #1 OT|
|Braden Smith||6'6"||285||5.12||Olathe South Sr HS, Olathe, KS||4*||5*, #6 Nat'l, #2 OT||5*, #12 Nat'l, #2 OT|
|Casey Tucker||6'5"||270||Hamilton HS, Chandler, AZ||4*||5*, #20 Nat'l, #4 OT||4*, #63 Nat'l, #8 OT||USC|
|Roderick Johnson||6'6"||315||Hazelwood Central HS, Florissant, MO||4*||4*, #18 OT||4*, #91 Nat'l, #13 OT|
|Jackson Barton||6'6"||275||Brighton HS, Salt Lake City, UT||4*||4*, #14 OT||3*, #30 OT||Utah|
|K.C. McDermott||6'6"||285||Palm Beach Central HS, Wellington, FL||4*||5*, #16 Nat'l, #3 OT||4*, #38 Nat'l, #5 OT|
|Jamarco Jones||6'5"||285||De La Salle Institute, Chicago, IL||4*||4*, #5 OT||4*, #82 Nat'l, #12 OT|
|Tommy Doles||6'5"||240||Grand Rapids Christian HS, Grand Rapids, MI||NR||3*, #10 OG||4*, #219 Nat'l, #23 OT|
|Alex Bars||6'6"||275||Montgomery Bell Academy, Nashville, TN||4*||3*, #25 OT||4*, #168 Nat'l, #19 OT|
|Juwann Bushell-Beatty||6'5"||295||Paramus Catholic HS, Paramus, NJ||NR||NR||4*, #24 OT|
|Demetrius Knox||6'5"||300||5.3||All Saints Episcopal, Fort Worth, TX||4*||4*, #7 OT||4*, #47 Nat'l, #7 OT||Texas|
|Sam Mustipher||6'4"||286||Our Lady of Good Counsel HS, Olney, MD||4*||3*, #13 DT||4*, #199 Nat'l, #11 OG|
|Da'Shawn Hand||6'4"||245||4.81||Woodbridge Senior HS, Woodbridge, VA||5*||5*, #2 Nat'l, #1 DE||5*, #1 Nat'l, #1 SDE|
|Malik McDowell||6'6"||292||Loyola HS, Detroit, MI||4*||4*, #4 DE||4*, #24 Nat'l, #2 SDE|
|Conor Sheehy||6'4"||255||Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI||NR||4*, #14 DE||3*, #16 WDE||Wisc|
|Lawrence Marshall||6'4"||205||Southfield HS, Southfield, MI||NR||NR||NR|
|Garrett Dickerson||6'4"||240||Bergen Catholic HS, Oradell, NJ||4*||4*, #7 DE||4*, #61 Nat'l, #4 WDE|
|Jae'Sean Tate||6'5"||200||Pickerington Central HS, Pickerington, OH||NR||NR||NR||Ohio|
|Andrew Williams||6'4"||245||Eagle's Landing Christian Academy, McDonough, GA||4*, #85 Nat'l||3*, #24 DE||4*, #191 Nat'l, #11 WDE|
|Bryan Mone||6'4"||315||Highland HS, Salt Lake City, UT||4*, #172 Nat'l||4*, #7 DT||4*, #114 Nat'l, #8 SDE||MICH|
|Dexter Wideman||6'4"||276||4.86||Saluda HS, Saluda, SC||4*||4*, #6 DT||4*, #103 Nat'l, #7 DT|
|Andrew Brown||6'4"||292||Indian River HS, Chesapeake, VA||5*||5*, #21 Nat'l, #3 DE||5*, #2 Nat'l, #1 DT|
|Nyquan Harris||6'3"||285||Lake Taylor HS, Norfolk, VA||NR||NR||NR|
|Dante Booker, Jr.||6'3"||210||4.7||St. Vincent-St. Mary HS, Akron, OH||4*||4*, #2 OLB||4*, #20 Nat'l, #1 OLB|
|Kevin Crosby||6'1"||226||4.69||Bamberg-Ehrhardt HS, Bamberg, SC||4*||3*, #11 MLB||4*, #181 Nat'l, #6 TE|
|Michael Ferns||6'3"||235||Saint Clairsville HS, Saint Clairsville, OH||4*||4*, #6 MLB||4*, #98 Nat'l, #4 ILB||MICH|
|Brenon Thrift||6'3"||230||4.7||Gateway HS, Monroeville, PA||NR||NR||3*, #19 ILB|
|Nyles Morgan||6'2'"||220||Crete Monee HS, Crete, IL||4*||4*, #4 MLB||4*, #167 Nat'l, #5 ILB|
|Kyle Berger||6'2||200||St. Ignatius HS, Cleveland, OH||NR||NR||4*, #22 OLB|
|Dwight Williams||6'1||212||Junipero Serra HS, Gardena, CA||4*, #101 Nat'l||3*, #12 OLB||4*, #117 Nat'l, #5 OLB|
|Bryson Allen-Williams||6'2"||218||Cedar Grove HS, Ellenwood, GA||4*, #247 Nat'l||3*, #20 OLB||4*, #209 Nat'l, #16 OLB|
|Kenny Young||6'2||215||4.6||John Curtis Christian HS, River Ridge, LA||4*, #191 Nat'l||3*, #11 OLB||4*, #213 Nat'l, #11 ILB|
|Otaro Alaka||6'3"||210||Cypress Falls HS, Houston, TX||4*, #167 Nat'l||NR||4*, #29 OLB|
|Petera Wilson||6'3"||232||White Station HS, Memphis, TN||4*, #245 Nat'l||3*, #18 MLB||3*, #18 ILB|
|Melvin Keihn||6'3"||220||4.5||Gilman School, Baltimore, MD||4*, #243 Nat'l||4*, #8 OLB||3*, #21 WDE|
|Jalen Tabor||6'||181||Friendship Collegiate Academy, Washington, D.C.||4*||4*, #6 CB||4*, #21 Nat'l, #4 CB|
|D'Andre Payne||5'9"||172||H.D. Woodson HS, Washington, D.C.||NR||3*, #24 CB||4*, #171 Nat'l, #14 CB|
|Jabrill Peppers||6'||190||Paramus Catholic, Paramus, NJ||5*||5*, #11 Nat'l, #4 CB||5*, #3 Nat'l, #1 CB|
|Damon Webb||5'11"||170||Cass Tech HS, Detroit, MI||4*||4*, #7 CB||4*, #192 Nat'l, #16 CB||Ohio|
|Nick Watkins||6'1"||180||4.5||Bishop Dunne Catholic, Dallas, TX||4*||4*, #5 CB||4*, #30 Nat'l, #5 CB|
|Parrker Westphal||6'1"||186||4.45||Bolingbrook HS, Bolingbrook, IL||4*||4*, #12 CB||4*, #165 Nat'l, #13 CB|
|Edward Paris||6'2"||188||4.35||Timberview HS, Mansfield, TX||4*||4*, #4 CB||5*, #10 Nat'l, #2 S||LSU|
|Troy Vincent, Jr.||5'10"||181||4.8||Gilman School, Baltimore, MD||4*||4*, #11 CB||3*, #22 CB|
|Adoree' Jackson||5'10"||172||Junipero Serra HS, Gardena, CA||5*, #8 Nat'l||5*, #7 Nat'l, #2 CB||4*, #33 Nat'l, #4 CB|
|T'Kevian Rockwell||6'1"||190||Wylie HS, Wylie, TX||4*||4*, #7 S||4*, #115 Nat'l, #10 S|
|Brandon Simmons||6'||170||4.6||Timberview HS, Mansfield, TX||4*||4*, #4 S||4*, #226 Nat'l, #19 S|
|Quin Blanding||6'2"||196||4.55||Bayside HS, Virginia Beach, VA||5*||5*, #15 Nat'l, #2 S||5*, #6 Nat'l, #1 S||UVA|
|Montae Nicholson||6'2"||200||Gateway HS, Monroeville, PA||4*||3*, #12 S||4*, #212 Nat'l, #18 S|
|Erick Smith||6'1"||185||Glenville HS, Cleveland, OH||NR||NR||NR|
|Dravon Henry||6'||185||Aliquippa HS, Aliquippa, PA||4*, #157 Nat'l||3*, #19 RB||4*, #28 ATH|
|Kiy Hester||6'2"||200||De Paul Catholic HS, Wayne, NJ||4*||4*, #15 CB||4*, #128 Nat'l, #12 ATH|
|Juwann Winfree||6'2"||180||Dwight Morrow HS, Englewood, NJ||NR||NR||NR|
|Kalen Ballage||6'2||212||4.4||Falcon HS, Falcon, CO||NR||NR||4*, #34 ATH|
Bluestreak hasn't been maintaining the 2014 offer list so I've updated it. I used Rivals offer list along with TTB and the old 2014 list to compile this chart, making some judgment calls along the way. In some cases, I moved players to the positions they were offered at by Michigan's staff. (with the exception of Bo Scarbrough who was offered as a WR.) Michigan has verbally offered 85 players. The distribution is as follows:
In-State Players of Interest:
DT Kenneth Finley 6'3" 265 lbs. Muskegon HS
CB Jalen Watts-Jackson 6' 173 lbs. Orchard Lake St. Mary's Prep
LB William White 6'1" 215 lbs. Detroit Cass Tech HS
RB/LB Gary Hosey 6' 230 lbs. Detroit Cass Tech HS
QB Tyler Wiegers 6'4" 190 lbs. Detroit Country Day
DT Jake Khoury 6'3 268 lbs. St. Francis Catholic HS
RB Lorenzo Collins 6' 210 lbs. FH Harrison HS (MSU lean)
WR Brandon Walker 6'2" 185 lbs. Carman-Ainsworth HS
OT Ka'John Armstrong 6'5" 272 lbs. Detroit Loyola HS
OG Derek Brown 6'4" 295 lbs. Yale HS
OT Curtis Doyle 6'6" 270 lbs. Alma HS
ATH Avonte Maddox Detroit King HS
S Jared Wangler De La Salle Collegiate HS Warren, MI
While this post may become somewhat obsolete in the very near future, here's the latest update of the Big Ten recruiting landscape. Not a whole lot of action this week, but both Michigan and Notre Dame get big pickups during the same week that Rivals updates their rankings. Changes since the last rankings:
6-2-12: Michigan picks up Maurice Hurst Jr. Notre Dame picks up Jaylon Smith.
UPDATE 6-4-12: Michigan picks up Henry Poggi.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||24/7 Avg||ESPN Avg||Avg Avg^|
^The average of the average rankings of the four recruiting services (the previous four columns). The figure is calculated based on the raw numbers and then rounded, so the numbers above may not average out exactly.
NOTE: Unranked recruits are counted as two-star players.
On to the full data after the jump.
January 4th was at the peak apex and swift crescendo of a roller coaster of weirdness that permeated Ann Arbor, Michigan for the last four years. We all know that when things get weird, the weird turn pro, but what happens when things return to normalcy?
Michigan began a warpath of rampage wider than Genghis Khan. Michigan had no wall. The first victims of the conquering heroes were the clueless and tailback led offense. Nebraska has always had an interesting and sometimes intimidating offense. The TB actually plays in the QB position for Nebraska. This offense has seen days of complete domination and recently, days of high Drama between their prima donna TB/QB and their 12 time anger management/spittle distance champion coach. Their latest season proved to be as bi-polar as Pelini. The 2011 Cornhuskers team defeated foes the like of Michigan Staee Penitentiary, Iowa, and an emotionally charged cult team from State College, PA.
Michigan came in unsure about the future after many déjà vu experiences of late season collapses and self loathing tongue lashings. Watching the game in the quiet hamlet of Livonia with my necessary equipment and required medication, I quickly realized my mind did need prodding for altered consciousness. The serious beating of the Cornhuskers by the Wolverines was like watching an unruly Kodiak taking on a clubbed foot mink. This was a Michigan effort I haven’t seen in a long time.
Nebraska served as a launching pad for GoBo’s offense and Hoke’s voodoo pointing to the next week death match against the Terrell Pryor’s School of Selective Contributions located in a shitcan town dead center of a cesspool state north of where the Hatfields and McCoys spilled blood over swine. The game went back and forth and Michigan tried dearly to hand the evil empire an undeserving victory. As best as the philanthropic Wolverines tried, they ended a long agonizing stretch of losing to a team that needs four people to figure out how to spell their state’s name.
The Wolverines found themselves in an unusual place, playing football in January in New Orleans (Thank you to all the MGoGeographers out there for setting me straight). Unfortunately, I missed half the game studying an accordion type device that promised to send you to a planet of unicorns, badass grizzly care bears, and a bottomless plate of fat free/vitamin rich BBQ spare ribs. I did return from the outer reaches of the universe to see an anemic offense get in a position to win the game with a field goal. At first I thought I ended up on an episode of Sliders, reaching a parallel universe. Michigan winning a big game on special teams? Staunch defense not allowing massive deflation compared to the previous three years of eleventy billion ppg, to a high powered and traditional powerhouse from the ACC? I realized then that the ESPN3.com screen in front of me in a valley separating NY and PA that Todd Blackledge and Brad Nessler would never be in a place that resembles a personal utopia. This was real. The year ended and Michigan was Sugar Bowl champs. What now? What panic and angst would I write of? Is this the end of the modern day Greek tragedy known as Michigan football? As a fan I sure as hell hoped so, but as a periodic panic purveyor, I feared the worst.
As spring football ushers in absolutely nothing in substance and the recruiting trail of coming years are hot, the feared doldrums of normalcy and confidence have not yet fully entrenched the Michigan faithful for the upcoming year’s slate of games. The ulcer creating anticipation and fear are starting to creep back into the hearts of Mittenanders everywhere. The Michigan team will no longer be such a severe underdog for teams the like of Nebraska and they will also have to play the most difficult challenges in the belly of several beasts. The schedule is grim from start to finish with the exception of little brother at home. Dave Brandon sold his grandson’s first born male to play the incorruptible Tide of Alabama in the home of the vilest man in the NFL. Along with Alabama away, Michigan must also battle filth in Columbus, Nebraska, and South Bend. Also adding to the drama this year is the new coach for our last opponent of the regular season, Urban Meyer, or as I enjoy calling him, Pope Urban II. Will he tilt the edge back into the favor or mouth breathing truck drivers or will he wilt and receive mysterious personal and family issues pulling this great coach of Tim Tebow back to the commentator’s desk of Brent Musburger and Matt Millen?
Those issues above combined with the usual tragic injuries of gladiator sports, unexpected moments of disappointed, disgust, and the usual hijinks of college football are a sure bet to create the writing fuel many of the bloggers here eat up. With expectations up, and challenges large, we shall have another year in which there may be little actual turmoil, but we can be sure that turmoil, panic, and The Fear will have a safe place on this blog of myriad personalities and clinically psychotic bloggers in this invisible village of rabid fanatics. Have a great, safe, and twisted summer. See you in August.