Heading into the 2012 season there was much concern over the lack of size of the interior DL. Spring Practice has us convinced that undersized Jibreel Black and hopefully breakout player Will Campbell would be manning those spots and we would survive.
Cut to 2012 Fall Practice and seemingly out of nowhere Quinton Washington emerged as the surprise starter. He went on to have a very good season and hopefully will continue this trend for 2013.
So I pose the question Who will be the surprise breakout starter/contributor for the 2013 season? Here are the candidates:
RB Drake Johnson
Spring Practice was the time for another RB to emerge as Toussiant was still on the shelf and all of the practice reps and carries were there for the taking. Aside from Justice Hayes grabbing the 3rd Down RB spot it didn't seem like anyone else had separated themselves. I was expecting to see more "OR" in the RB depth chart but surprise we see Johnson has used Fall Practice to clearly pass Rawls and the freshman. Speaking of the freshman I think this spot at the depth chart doesn't represent contribution ability but rather the best utilization of eligibility years. Touissant is the clear starter and Hayes should take the majority of 3rd Down plays, leaving only "breather" and "garbage" carries for the other RBs. Better to use Johnson than Green or Smith until and unless either of them show they are ready to take primetime carries.
LG Graham Glasgow
Glasgow had been in a battle with Miller for the Center spot for the Spring Practice and it seemed most of Fall Practice. Only recently did we start hearing Chris Bryant was going to start and almost just as quickly that he had been passed Glasgow. Hopefully Bryant still troublesome knee was not the reason Glasgow took the spot, but rather that once Glasgow got consistent snaps at LG he beat the guy would could have started in 2012. Hopefully this is not similar to 2011 when Barnum was the starter at LG but was injured, making us believe he would be good in 2012.
SLB Brennan Beyer
We have continuously heard praise for Cam Gordon's athleticism and playmaking ability while the only think I remember reading about Beyer that he is a good run defender. Yet he started the Spring Game and remains the co-starter. Here's hoping he has shown significant improvement and all his "hype" has been swallowed up by Fort Schembechler.
My choice for the 2013 Surprise Fall Contributor is Graham Glasgow. Really the only knock against him was his underwhelming recruiting profile, which history has shown means little when dealing with lineman.He is a third year lineman with the size and strength to be a very good player at LG.
This was initially a response to the front page post "Preview 2013: Quarterback". Not in an effort to claim such high self-importance, I do believe the response deserves it's own thread so people can digest it properly. What it amounts to, in principle, is that Devin Gardner still has a long ways to go to becoming a great QB for Michigan, but it's due to subtle things, reps and practice, footwork and trust in his eyes, more than any major overhauls. What I also want to emphasize with this is just how impressive this makes DG's performance last year. He is still raw and is still learning, but has shown great potential for his future. When he starts to improve these small aspects of his game, he'll go from whipping on bad defenses and struggling against faster defenses, to being that QB that can lead you to victory against any defense. Oh, and no trolling from me this time.
Devin tends to make the correct reads... eventually, but he still has a long way to go to make the correct reads timely. This is something that is extremely difficult for young QBs, as the rate at which you digest the fast moving info in front of you is a very complex thing, as you can imagine.
Right now, though, he stays on his initial read or initial progression too long. This also gets into his footwork issues. Footwork plays a large role in throwing power and throwing accuracy; it also plays a huge role in timing. Let's look at this example:
Here, Gardner should drop (off of PA), hitch step, throw to first read or hitch step to second read, throw. Instead, he drops, hitch step, hitch step, hitch step, second read, hitch step, throw. It's at least two hitches too long. The pass play and routes are designed to keep the deep passer and shorter pass nearly in the same throwing lane, meaning when Gardner hitch steps to his second read, it's a very subtle move to the outside and throw. But because Gardner is late, because he isn't trusting his eyes to process the reads quick enough or his feet to take him to his next read, he can't make up the ground with his reset. A reset so deep to the sideline would be difficult anyway, you're asking the QB to get his shoulders, hips, and foot about 40 degrees over and then step accurately (rather than flaring open and throwing across body as Denard often did because of poor footwork) to make the throw accurately, which isn't likely.
Instead, if Gardner trusts his eyes and feet, on the second hitch it's probably less than 10 degrees of a shift in body. This means his mechanics are still under control, his weight is still correct, his eyes still see the field but now at a faster rate. Delivering the ball on time gets him at least 12 yards on the accurate pitch and catch and then probably at least 8 YAC. That's a 20 yard gain wiped out because of not being completely up to speed and not trusting his feet to take him through progressions.
Again, this is something that takes a lot of time and reps. You hope to see it this year if his footwork is as improved as what we're hearing. These subtle things will greatly improve timing and accuracy for Gardner. They'll make it so this is a 20 yard gain, so his pick against Iowa doesn't happen, so his pick toward the end of the Northwestern game doesn't happen, so the slug-go route isn't late to Gallon and instead of a long gain it's a TD. But that's the huge difference something extremely subtle makes. That's reps and trust in your reads and feet. That's where DG wasn't yet last year. If he makes that step this year: watch out.
Now, to those worried about Borges's ability to begin to develop QBs, it's important to see that DG has, as early as last year, made subtle changes to his footwork to improve his ability to throw. He is improving, it's about consistency.
This is a throw to the opposite side of the field and perhaps the best throw Gardner made all year. This is honestly an incredible throw for a college QB to make, far hash, 12 yards down field, with correct timing and perfect accuracy.
But look at his footwork. Gains depth on second and forth drop step. Closes down on step 6 and 7. Step 7 isn't a straight step back, notice how he subtly moves back at a 45 degree angle, pulling his momentum to that sideline. By the time he plants that 7th step, he's in a position to immediately step into the throw, he's balanced with his momentum pulling him to the sideline, and he steps into the throw with good weight transfer to hit the out route.
This is a progress that will take time. But it is happening. There is progress.
I had the opportunity to create the HTTV book cover artwork again this year. I chose to retain the format of the 2012 cover but added a dramatic Michigan Stadium backdrop and replaced Denard Robinson (sniff) with Taylor Lewan. You might recognize the stadium backdrop from my 2011 'All That Glitters' wallpaper.
For the first time, I'm releasing a series of three schedule wallpapers on the same day (wow, that sounds a little self-important). All three wallpapers are based on the new HTTV cover artwork. Photos provided by MGoBlog. The images below are previews only. You can get the widescreen, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.
Part 1 - Brady Hoke
I like to imagine that we've caught Coach Hoke in his short sleeve shirt in 40º weather, without his headset and deciding to go for the win instead of the tie.
Part 2 - 'Michigan's Man Up Front'
The Michigan Marching Band is an important part of the game day experience; more important than the final score according to former athletic director Bill Martin's game day experience survey. I had a request from a current Michigan Marching Band member for a band-inspired wallpaper and I'm happy to oblige.
Part 3 - Taylor Lewan
Follow me on Twitter @thearttheart for updates.
I am a sinner who’s probably gonna sin again. Lord, forgive me. Lord forgive me things I don’t understand.
I confess: I care about the national championship more than orthodox Michigan dogma allows by, like, a lot. I think I understand what Bo may have meant; 1973 must have been a bitter pill to swallow. The split baby in ‘97 was crap, too. Actually bringing home the hardware often requires a bunch of rhetoric just to get the opportunity. Less so recently than in Bo’s day but there still some arguing that is needed. And, If people still need to be convinced with words that you’re worthy after all the games are over, how good are you really? Relying on the scruples of seemingly unscrupulous individuals is a bad idea so a “to hell with them” mentality is totally understandable. I believe that Coach Schembechler would have won one if he cared to do so. Define your own worth and all that but there is another way, isn’t there? Make it your goal to kick everyone’s ass and you’ll accomplish all viable goals anyway. Am I wrong? /WalterSobchack.
Times they are a changin’, amen, but I think the current system actually benefitted Michigan (and others) in many “just ‘cause” ways. For too many teams winning all of your games, though difficult and unlikely, still isn't enough to get a shot at a national title. Teams in the Hegemony don’t have to worry about that and can often afford to lose a game if its to the right opponent. The playoff system improves the situation but I suspect that there will still be some jostling to get a golden ticket. What does a team need to do to maximize its control of its own destiny?
To the Stat Cave!
The preceding chart is the basis of the revised Blue Moon Model, discussed and applied in my last diary. Hollow red circles (right axis) represent how many teams fell into each bin used in the lumping process. Scan this dusty diary for discussion of the lumping maneuver. The solid blue diamonds is the average win percentage (left axis) for each bin. See how the blue diamonds start getting out of line when the binned sample size drops into the muck? That’s the “low sample size” criticism we are all so familiar with. But note that it doesn’t take that many samples to get a reasonably well behaved average—getting 10 is usually enough but more is always better. The hollow blue triangles are the focus of this diary. Those are all of the teams that have played in the BCS title game since 2000. In terms of Net Yardage Differential, there is quite a spread ranging from 45 to 275 ypg.
In pre-school most of us learned that a good way to identify differences is to ask ourselves “which of these things are not like the others?” We also learned to mock the weirdoes because why else would you go through the trouble of identifying them in the first place? The preceding charts make the MNC and B1G contending weirdoes stand out pretty well. Go forth and mock them.
Championship game losers are included because they had destiny by the bit. The mountains meet the sea at least 130. The typical team showed up with a yardage differential of about 165.
In the B1G, the Mendoza line is 100 ypg in yardage differential. What’s interesting to me is that it looks like there was a sea change in the B1G around 2005 with most of the teams underwater showing up before then. The only Michigan team that could pass muster as a national champion is the 2003 squad. Season summary:
- Lost @ Oregon by 4 with a net turnover margin of –3; ‘nuff said.
- Lost @ Iowa by 3 with a net turnover margin of 0 but: punted from the Iowa 35 in the first quarter, failed to score a TD after 1st @ Goal from the Iowa 8 in the second quarter, had a punt blocked in the third quarter leading to a 3 and out FG for the Hawkeyes.
Ah, memories / light the corners of my mind / misty watercolor memories / of the way we were … Memories / may be beautiful an yet / what’s too painful to remember / we simply choose to forget. Tell ‘em, Babs.
With the playoff system coming winning a National Championship is now harder for most. By most I mean everybody except for Nick Saban. Saban built a monster at LSU, handed off to Les Miles to terrorize for a while until he could get all three rings installed for his clown show, then came back to build an even badder monster at Alabama. Now Saban can be ranked as low as 5 and have the rhetorical juice to jump some teams. If he gets in, chances are, he will win. ‘Sall good though, dude is mortal…right? Um…maybe Kirby Smart is the real master mind??? Oh shit, do they have a succession plan in place?!? Madre de dios!!!
(Sorry about that. I actually think I’m doing well this time.)
Sure, Justice will be served more often because being undefeated and winning 1 game you have 6 weeks to prepare for aren’t enough to claim the throne anymore; now you have to beat two more teams that are pretty damn good and doing that is, like, hard. I support the cause for sure, but I recognize how much steeper that mountain is about to get. But, but, but, over signing! Look, man, you can’t blame a shark for being the baddest mofo in the ocean; you’ve got to blame the ocean. The whole over signing phenomenon that we’re seeing in the SEC may be distasteful to some but so are fried insects. I’ll walk this back: scout’s honor.
That’s a real picture of what is considered yummy street food in Cambodia.Also, I once ate Chapulines on a business trip to Mexico because I knew I wouldn’t die and it was a reeeally nice restaurant and I didn’t order it and “we’re closing this deal one way or the other, fellas” and “Yes, I’m this crazy, ese”. Also: tequila and yolo. Chapulines are fried grasshoppers and they don’t taste bad (wouldn’t say they taste good either) but its the texture and mouth feel that get you. Crunchy, gritty, all the moisture in your mouth runs for the hills…just all around nasty. I stayed cool and chewed them like a man but at a certain point I was all like “fuck this I’m swallowing” just to get that shit out of my mouth in the least ridiculous way possible and, after all, I had done this to my self. The legs, man, the legs. Those tiny little barbs aren’t meant for swallowing. Don’t judge me, man, I have lived. Thank God for Dos Equis.
Football, yes. Check it out: obviously, over signing isn’t against the rules. We don’t have to like it and we don't have to do it, but if you can choke it down -- or maybe you think its yummy with barbeque sauce -- NCAA enforcement says “bon appetit. Besides, top notch recruiting isn’t enough -- we know that first hand here at Michigan (also see Les Miles) -- you need to turn those recruits into great players and support them with great game plans and great play calling and great-never-ever-punting-on-the-opponent’s-35. Take away over signing from Alabama and Saban & Co will still kick everyone’s ass, probably.
To be a team the can get to the playoff and win the damn thing -- to be a champion’s champion -- you need to be “free to roam the plains, your majestic rippling muscles trampling over mascots that dare oppose you” as Brian once said. You must leave a barbaric path of destruction in your wake. You must leave only the lamentations of their bloggers to tell your tale. Being above 130 in NYDS since 2000 has meant you were, on average, in the top 8 nationally in that category.
There is a limit to how good your defense can be: the number 1 team in NYDS averages out with a Defensive YPG of about 270. The best team in the country in DYDS averages 230 ypg allowed. The best defense I have on record is Alabama 2011 at 183 (jeepers). Seriously, there are typically 13-ish possessions per game so you could score at TD every time and allow 107 ypg and still not get cored on. I guess you could try for onside kicks too but … what an asshole! The typical team “worthy” of a national championship has a defense that yields 315 ypg.
If you read my last entry, you should be encouraged to see that championship defense isn’t much better than what Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison have been able to field since their arrival on campus, even with all those roster issues we’ve come to know so well. Today, the roster is better and improving. It’s not easy to have great defense, but these guys know what they’re doing.
The mantra of defense wins championships isn’t [baloney], it’s just not enough. See, defensive performance is so hard to predict. With offense you have a reasonable shot at summing up the parts to get to OYDS. No such luck on defense. Proxy analysis can give us an idea of how good our defense could be but you will never know what you’ve got until you see it perform.
Football is not a math test.
I think I can see how Michigan can get to 100 NYPG this year….130 isn’t that far away.
For awhile now, after camp, I call up a buddy who's been around the program (full time support position) for quite a few years (since late-Carr era). The past couple of years, I've made a thread to share some of that summary on here for those who care. It's straight word of mouth, so a disclaimer there. And unfortunately much of this year's info has become common knowledge. In fact, we joked because we (MGoCommunity) know more about the team this year (without seeing one practice) than we ever have. It's just the information age that we live in. So hats off to MGoBlog, because much of the stuff you read here that comes off as opinion is very close to accurate. That said, nothing too ground breaking. Also, there just hasn’t been much debate this year.
QB – Gardner is as good as the hype. He’s gotten “twice as good” over the summer and has really taken charge of the offense. Still presses a bit under pressure and makes the “oh no” throws that he needs to eliminate (I believe we saw one in a scrimmage video). Plays like Kapernick or a thin Cam Newton. Was told that if he has a big year, he’s talented enough to go to the NFL. But if he has a big year and stays, he could very well win the Heisman next year. I specifically asked about Morris. He looks good, and NO DECISION has been made on his status. Redshirt could be an option if all he'd get is mop up duty. He's not that far ahead of Cleary that Cleary can't take those snaps in a blowout. Probably won't make that call until the situation presents itself...and that's going off of what Hoke's done in the past. (Why say he is or isn't going to play when you don't know if you even will have the opp? What if we don't get up big until late in the 4th when it's best to just hand the ball off and run the clock out?)
RB – Fitz has his job and it’s HIS job. More dedicated and determined. A lot of people don’t know, but he played with a lot of pressure last year...wanted to play well and go pro to provide for his family. Tried to hit a homerun on every single play. More determined now and extremely motivated by the Green hype. Not even close most days. Green plays overweight and could very well redshirt this year. However, he’s the most improved RB over the fall camp period. Still worried that he’s Grady part II, but it’s WAAAY too early to say that Smith also motivated by the Green hype. The other returners are all better than last year, but so is the OLine.
WR – Gallon is the favorite target, but Gardner is starting to spread the ball around a lot more. Chesson and Reynolds look to replace Darboh who was the clear #2 WR. Darboh was also a great blocker. That said, expect Jackson to be used in running situations. Dileo is the “Novak” of the team. Freshman WRs have potential, but still learning the offense and how to run routes and/or block. None can be trusted right now, but at least 1 may play special teams because he could help in the 2nd half of the season (on offense).
TE – No real news...Butt is better than people realize, we could have the best TE group in the conference.
OL – Better than we’ve had since the Carr-era. Already better than last year and not even close. Here’s the C debate, same as last year. Miller is the better snapper, Glasgow is the better blocker. Expect Miller to win as Mealer (who was the better snapper) won last year. Glasgow and Bryant are in a dead heat for the LG spot. Coaches seem to want Bryant to win so Braden can be first tackle off the bench and Glasgow can be first interior OL (regardless of position) off the bench. Bryant doesn’t play C. If Glasgow is ever in at C, look for us to go under Center more than Pistol or from the Gun.
DL – Most DL depth charts that have been reported are true...Clark was working inside for the Dime package. We do have a situation package where Ojemudia, Clark and Charlton all play on the DL. I guess it’s our version of the NASCAR package the NY Giants have. Still trying to “earn the right to rush 4.” Better, but not there yet. Then again, it’s harder when Lewan and Schofield are on the other side.
LB – Ross may be the best player on the defense. He’s also improved over the summer. Morgan is the MLB despite rumors of Bolden. Gordon will be the SLB. RJS-Bolden-Beyer are in the 2nd group and expect Bolden and Beyer to play close to starter’s snaps. GMat is rotating this year more than he has at any point in the last 2 years.
DB – Still sorting out CB. Countess is the only lock. (personal thought – can we get a question to GMat to provide clarity on the depth chart at CB?). Avery is playing both (CB and S), it’s not even a big deal...it stems from the SCar game where we didn’t have guys ready that knew multiple positions. So when Floyd was out and guys went down...we had Wilson running around trying to learn on the fly. We gave up too many big plays in the secondary and coaches felt like it was because we we’re playing 10.5 on 11 because there wasn’t enough flexibility. Remember, the guys that we did have were ALL young. So they were focusing on learning THEIR position before expanding their roles. THAT is why Avery is the one bouncing around, because he’s got the most experience and knows the CB and Nickel spots. There is less separation here than anywhere else on the team. Need more consistency from the “up-and-comers.”
K/P – We’re going to be A-okay.
One of the best things I got was that all of the young guys are truly good character people. By Lewan's example, Tom Brady's story, etc. they're learning what a special place Michigan is and they aren't in a hurry like most freshman are. They're fighting to truly get better, knowing that it may be a couple of years before they're called on. I was told in "3-4 years this team could be SCARY" because you're going to have guys that truly know the system and they're going to be starving to show what they can do...and for once, they're going to be TALENTED! I personally think this next 5 year period, starting this year, could be one of the best 5 years periods any of us have ever seen at Michigan. Hope I'm right!
Wow, it's been an eternity in MGoBlog time since I posted a wallpaper. I've had a busier schedule than I could have ever imagined. My wife and I welcomed our 2nd child, a beautiful baby girl named Norah. I've also had to adapt to being a parent to children, not just a child. Let me tell you, that is a much different beast.
All of that to say this - I'm sorry that it's been so long. I'm hopeful that too much hasn't changed in my favorite corner of the internet. I haven't missed much other than 12 or so "redshirt" threads, it seems.
This wallpaper is going to be hit or miss with you all, I'm sure. When trying to decide what type of wallpaper I'd go with for the Chippewas, I came up with several non-PC options (indian casino, putting Brady Hoke's face on a Chief, etc.) and then landed on the dreamcatcher design. Believe it or not, I like to incorporate some depth/history into my wallpapers (HEY, that Zombie Toussaint wallpaper was totally cerebral..get it? Brains?...anyway...), so I did some research on the Chippewa people. One big cultural/artistic piece I came across being attributed to them was the dreamcatcher. Now, I'd made one back in elementary school and it was cool then, but I was stoked to make a 2013 Michigan Football theme for my new catcher of dreams. I used that as my base and threw in a picture of a random Michigan field for good measure.
I wanted the wallpaper to have the schedule on it, so that's why it's there. I did add a texture to the overall wallpaper to give it an interesting feel, so it's not as clean-cut as some in the past, but I like it (and in the end that's really all that matters, right?).
Anyway, I hope you enjoy it and will use it or perhaps my Scenic Michigan Stadium wallpaper until Notre Dame week arrives. One week, ladies and gentleman! Let's Go BLUE!!!
Enjoy and GO BLUE!