There is no great analysis here; I just was looking at this stuff on my own and since I did the work I decided to post it here for the odd 4 people who might find it interesting.
Many have said this is the best UM class ever, often thinking by large margins. I also was guilty of this recency bias. Many have short memories. I look into the mirror as one of them. 2016's vintage was quite good with a 28 player catch with a 89.9 player average; that includes 9 players in the top 126.
Going further back our "best" class on paper up til this year was the "sterling" 2013 class; a class that will live in infamy. The one that would have us rocking and rolling our '12 and '13 OL classes MANGBALLING together to mow down Bama's DL in the CFP championship game circa '16 '17 with "bowling ball" Derrick Green, and the left armed darts of Shane Morris. Those were the days....
This class was 4th in the nation with a 27 player crew which averaged 91.0. That includes Scott Sypniewski's 76; remove that and it's a 26 player class averaging 91.6.
This is almost a perfect mirror to the 30 player class we just signed which finished 5th in the nation with a player average of 90.9. This includes Brad Robbins73; remove that and it's a 29 player class averaging 91.5.
Beging a machoist and enjoying data I decided to line up the classes side by side, player for player. And looking at it with the original 2013 rank vs a personal rerank, and looking at both vs the 2017 class.
A famous philosopher once said:
There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.
So before we begin let us talk about the known knows:
- Brady Hoke couldn't carry Jim Harbaugh's jock as a HC or program developer.
- Jim Harbaugh finds and hires people that go on to actually do things at other schools; that are coveted. Brady Hoke didn't.
- "You" were telling us Derrick Green was overrated from day 1.
- We knew Shane Morris was a high ceiling low floor guy coming off an injury year and getting hyped up based off camps.
- Hoke could generally 'croot defensive guys; his offensive picks generally ranged from WTF to LOL to YOUR KILLIN ME SMALLS.
Now that we got that out of the way, to the known unknowns:
- This class, like every class in the history of classes, will have high profile busts - Harbaugh or not. It's just a matter of who(m).
- Someone(s) from the bottom third of this class will surpass many of the guys at the top. "I told you Stueber is the next great 77!"
- Some of these guys will get hit by an injury bug.
- Some won't get their 5th year.
- 2017 HAS to be better than 2013, amiright? I mean it would take serious effort by all parties involved including various lobotomy exercises to coaching staff for it not to be true. Hold me Brown Bear.
Now onto the data
Chart 1, straight up player for player side by side-ish....per original rank. Rather than just line them up single file I put them in a general groupings of similar ranks; don't ask for the science behind it - it's just one dude's clustering.
Chart 2, I did a rerank of the 2013 class on how it "really worked out in terms of player effectiveness" - I used the same 2013 rankings our players garnered, but changed the names from best to worst i.e. #27 overall went from Green to Lewis. It wildly overstates the ranking a lot of guys as the class was just so bad once you got past the first 10 guys. (guys who don't even play get top 300 rankings!) Obviously a lot of skunks at the bottom so (a) trying to rank them i.e. who busted more than the other is impossible and (b) comparing them to our 2017s is almost unfair. But they had to go somewhere.
|27||D. Green||12||D. Peoples-Jones|
|68||P. Kugler||44||C. Ruiz|
|71||D. Thomas||56||L. Vilain|
|72||S. Morris||80||D. Singleton|
|87||K. Bosch||94||A. Thomas|
|95||D. Dawson||107||J. Anthony|
|110||C. Fox||113||C. Filiaga|
|115||J. Lewis||122||T. Black|
|121||H. Poggi||123||D. McCaffrey|
|130||M. McCray||136||N. Collins|
|168||L. Tuley-Tillman||170||O. Martin|
|209||D. Smith||214||J. Ross|
|215||B. Gedeon||220||J. Hudson|
|258||M. Hurst Jr||261||D. Irving-Bey|
|299||W. Shallman||266||J. Kelly-Powell|
|300||D. Hill||278||O. Samuels|
|338||J. Dukes||334||B. St-Juste|
|374||R. Douglas||368||A. Stueber|
|416||D. Samuleson||420||B. Hawkins|
|564||C. York||485||K. Paye|
|776||D. Jones||813||B. Mason|
|810||R. Dawson||916||K. Taylor|
|27||J. Lewis||12||D. Peoples-Jones|
|68||J. Butt||44||C. Ruiz|
|71||T. Charlton||56||L. Vilain|
|72||C. Stribling||80||D. Singleton|
|87||D. Smith||94||A. Thomas|
|95||M. Hurst Jr||107||J. Anthony|
|110||D. Thomas||113||C. Filiaga|
|115||B. Gedeon||122||T. Black|
|121||D. Hill||123||D. McCaffrey|
|130||K. Bosch||136||N. Collins|
|168||D. Green||170||O. Martin|
|209||H. Poggi||214||J. Ross|
|215||L. Tuley-Tillman||220||J. Hudson|
|258||S. Morris||261||D. Irving-Bey|
|299||D. Jones||266||J. Kelly-Powell|
|300||P. Kugler||278||O. Samuels|
|338||W. Shallman||334||B. St-Juste|
|374||R. Douglas||368||A. Stueber|
|416||D. Samuleson||420||B. Hawkins|
|564||D. Dawson||485||K. Paye|
|776||C. York||813||B. Mason|
|810||C. Fox||916||K. Taylor|
* I excluded both the 13 long snapper and the 17 punter from this exercise.
Bill Connelly recently came out with an article analying the returning production of 2017's college football teams. Rather than just using returning starts to analyze a teams upcoming season, he looks at all returning production as a percentage. One main takeaway is that some of the most telling stats are returning receiving yardage and passing yardage on offense and overall passes defended/overall tackles on defense. To get a more complete persepective, read the article here:
After reading this, I had a thought. Bill provided an expected increase or decrease in points above average for both offense and defenses for the 2017 season. I thought I would take his expected production changes and compare it to the 2016 numbers to see where Michigan and its 2017 opponents would fall in the 2017 rankings. NOTE: This is not an all inclusive analysis. Other factors such as coaching changes and recruiting classes are not considered. So lets get started.
MICHIGAN: Michigan's offense is expected to regress by 1.8 points per game and the defense should fall by about 7.9 ppg for an overall total of a 9.7 ppg regression. This is larger than any fall of all Big Ten teams from 2016 to 2017. That's really bad right? However, Michigan is falling from a height of 26.8 ppg, still having the maize and blue fall in at a projected 17.1 ppg above average. Based on where this would fall in the 2016 rankings, this would place Michigan at: VERDICT: 13th ranked team in 2017
Now onto the 2017 schedule plus a few notables.
FLORIDA: Projected offense increase of 2.7. Defense projected to drop by 2 ppg. The total increase of 0.7 would place the Gators at 15th (14.8 ppg above average) in the country, setting Michigan up for a potentially very evenly matched opening bout, especially when considering the neutral field.
CINCINNATTI: The Bearcats were not good in 2016 at -5.2 ppg. With an overall expected increase of only 1.6 ppg, UC will likely be bad again in 2017. That projection would only move them up to just inside the top 80 teams.
AIR FORCE: The Falcons were pretty solid in 2016, finishing 10-3 and 1.2 ppg above average. However, they're losing more production than every FBS team in the country. Expected the lose 4.7 ppg on offense and 8.6 ppg on defense, Air Force is expecting a drop of 13.3 points which would drop them to 113th overall in the 2016 rankings.
PURDUE: They were horrendous in 2016. They're gonna be really bad again. At -9.4 ppg already and expecting a small increase of only 1.7 ppg, the Boilers are still gonna be outside the top 100 teams.
MICHIGAN STATE: One of the classic Sparty narritives so far this offseason has been Michigan losing a lot. News flash to Sparty fans. Your team was terrible in 2016 and it looks like it's going to be again in 2017. MSU can expect to lose 4.2 points on offense and 2.2 on defense. All said, that would make the green giants the 78th best team. Good thing they have a big recruiting class comi....oh wait. /troll over
INDIANA: IU is an interesting case to look at. The Hoosiers can expect a small uptick at 0.8 ppg offensively, but an already solid defense could be looking at an increase of 5.4 ppg. All in all, this would put Indiana at 26th in the nation. However, the Hoosiers just fired Kevin Wilson for uh...things that happened. So it's hard to actually project they'll reach these heights. It could be a tricky road game for our Wolverines though.
PENN STATE: The Nits came on strong to finish the 2016 season, winning the Big Ten and narrowly losing to a tough USC team in the Rose Bowl. 2017 looks promising in Happy Valley with projected increases placing PSU 6th in the nation for 2017.
RUTGERS: Can the Scarlet Knights get any worse than they were? With a projected increase of 2.4 ppg, Rutgers is still going to be amongst the worst 20 teams in the nation.
MINNESOTA: The Gophers are projected to fall back a bit offensively and get a bit better defensively. Overall, they're expected to fall down about 1.4 ppg and would place right about the top 50. However, they'll also be in Year 1 of one of the hottest upcoming coaches in the country in PJ Fleck.
MARYLAND: DJ Durkin had a big rebuild to undertake when he took over the Terps in 2016 and they finished at -5.4 ppg. Bill expects them to step back by 3.5 ppg on offense and offset that with a 2.1 ppg improvement on defense. Overall, they might step back a bit before moving forward. They would fall just inside the top 100 teams.
WISCONSIN: This is going to be the Wolverines first trip to Madison in nearly a decade. The Badgers were very good in 2016. They're expected to improve to about 20 ppg above average overall in 2017. This has the making of a possible top 10 team.
OHIO STATE: It would have been nice to have them at home in 2016 instead of 2017, but being at home might be the Wolverines best chance to finally beat the Buckeyes. OSU is expected to improve by 1.5 ppg on offense but fall by 1.3 on defense. They should be about the same level of team again this coming season. That would make them a top 5 outfit. Once again, it's going to be extremely difficult to topple the Bucks.
Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Iowa looks to experience a strong drop in offense that would move the Hawks to somewhere right around the top 60 teams. Nebraska is expecting a similar offensive dropoff as Iowa. Would it be a big stunner to see the Huskers fall to the top 70ish range? Improvements for Northwestern might see them rise to the top 30. Could the Wildcats be a serious Big Ten West contender?
Also, Alabama should rightfully be the #1 team entering 2017. They finished as the #1 team to S&P+, finished 2nd in the national title race, recruit in a way that we've never seen recently, and are expected to be at basically the exact same level in 2017.
The common theme among all these guys I’ve written about, aside from my good fortune of being their teammate, is a great admiration I’ve had for them as intelligent men of high character. They were all great football players, that’s a given, but they all stood out as leaders by way of their action. They did less talking but more “walkling”. They worked hard, performed at the highest level, and competed every day for a shot at a starting job. Then, when they got there, they remained grounded and became outstanding examples for the young guys behind them. They showed from their actions how to go about your business and always put the team first. It’s no surprise that these guys have all gone on to leadership positions in their chosen fields and have remained successful while being held in high regard by their coworkers. You’ve heard the term “Captains of Industy”. They all fit that description.
This next guy fits it to a tee. He came into the program a highly sought after QB, with lofty education and athletic goals. He was a hard worker by nature, liked by all his coaches and teammates, and handled one of the most pressure packed moments you could imagine. He went on to marry a Michigan women, further his education with TWO master's degrees, and is now an administrator at one of the most respected health care providers in the entire world.
Russ Rein grew up in Oak Lawn Illinois, having played for Marist High School. He was recruited by just about every school, including Alabama, Duke, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, and Brigham Young. Clearly academics played a major factor in his college decision.
When he visited Michigan, he planned on becoming a doctor, either a physician or ophthalmologist. When he arrived for his visit, he was taken to a house of an ophthalmologist who worked for the university hospital. There were almost a dozen other doctors present who all came out to greet the prized recruit. (Another example of a page Harbaugh took right from Bo’s playbook). Of course a young kid with medical aspirations would be awed by the “chance” meeting, but it was deeper than that for Russ. He saw the collective dedication to excellence that permeated the room; the presence of brilliant doctors who had great respect for their field and their fellow doctors. To say it left an impression would be an understatement. That moment would resonate with him in his life after college football.
While he was taking his time narrowing his college choices, Bo was seeking an answer. Time was of the essence, and solidifying the roster was no less stressful for coaches then as it is now. Being the kind of guy who wouldn’t make a hasty decision, Russ planned a visit to Provo Utah to tour Brigham Young and meet with legendary Coach Lavelle Edwards. Bo had other plans. He wanted a commitment. He called Russ and used the tried and true recruiting tactic that still gets used today: “Son, we have limited scholarships available and if you take that visit, I'm afraid we’ll have to give your scholarship to someone else.” If Russ felt intimidated or pressured, he didn’t show it. “I’ll think about it and get back to you” he said as he hung up the phone. Ballsy move for an 18 year old. Ballsy but not risky. Russ knew as soon as he hung up the phone he was going to Michigan. Shortly thereafter, he called the old man back and pledged his allegiance to the Wolverines.
He arrived on campus in 1983 as part of a stable of QBs that included Steve Smith, Rich Hewlett, Jim Harbaugh, and Chris Zurbrugg. That’s a crowded room. Smith and Hewlett were seniors but Harbaugh had 4 more years of eligibility. Today, a highly rated quarterback might look at that roster and seek a more convenient path to the playing field. Not Russ. He had been a hard worker his whole life, clocking hours at his parent’s convenience store on the southside of Chicago since he was a young boy. He wanted the challenge that Michigan offered, both athletically and academically.
His first game action came sooner than he and just about everyone associated with Michigan expected. October 6, 1984. Ranked #13 in the country with a 3-1 record and facing in-state rival Michigan State in the Big House. You all know what happened. Trailing 13-7 midway through the 3rd quarter but with the ball and driving, Jamie Morris got hit and fumbled at the 35 yard line. Harbaugh dove for the loose ball at the same time a State defender got there. Broken arm. His season over.
Next man up: Russ Rein.
Talk about sudden change. One minute you’re standing on the sideline, casually watching the game, confident Harbaugh would lead the team for the go-ahead score then - snap - Bo yells, “Rein! Come here.”
Russ said he wasn’t really nervous when he entered the game. He was excited yet calm, though admittedly not quite as prepared as he would’ve liked. As a matter of fact, he recalls staying up quite late at the hotel the night before, studying for a final the following week. Lack of sleep for a football player at Michigan knee deep in academics isn’t really a unique problem. But things change when you’re suddenly thrust into the starting QB position unexpectedly.
As everyone knows, the game didn’t turn out the way we would have liked. Russ’ first pass was a long out route intended for Vince Bean on the opposite sideline. The cornerback broke on the route and made a hell of a play on the ball.
His first collegiate attempt was intercepted. It was that kind of day.
Funny story about that Michigan State game: as already mentioned, Russ’ family owned a store in Chicago. Three or four times a week, this nice old man named Mr. Ortho Cortz would come in to get a coffee and a newspaper. He’d always have a smile, say hello to Russ and his brothers, then go on his way. He’d been a regular customer for years. When Russ trotted onto the field for the first time in that Michigan State game, an official walked over, tapped him on the shoulder, and with a wink said, “Good luck, son.” To Russ’ surprise, it was Mr. Cortz, head of Big 10 officials, and referee for that game. In all the years Russ saw him at the store, he never knew he was a football official.
Practice the following week was grueling. We had a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball. Bo needed to get one of his QBs up to speed while the defense needed to figure out how to get off the field. By the time toe met leather the next week, it was #3 under center. He led us to a convincing 31-0 win over Northwestern in front a much happier Michigan Stadium crowd. In that game, Russ threw his first career touchdown pass to Tight End Eric Kattus. Guys like Kattus, Eddie Garrett, Rick Rogers, Clay Miller, and Art Balourdos were all instrumental in helping Russ prepare for the game and kept encouraging him during it. It was a great feeling leading the team to victory and hanging 31 points on the scoreboard.
Another interesting thing in that game: Russ faced a familiar old foe in Northwestern LB Jim Torkelson. The two had faced each other in the Illinois High School Football playoffs two years prior. Torkelson’s Homewood Flossmore team was leading Marist late in the game, but Russ had his team driving. In the last minute, as he dropped back for a potential game winning TD, Torkelson knocked the ball out of Russ’ hand and pounced on the ball. The refs ruled it a fumble. Russ still disagrees.
The two still maintain a friendship by way of a mutual friend (and former Wolverine) John Balourdos. They all get together in Chicago when Michigan invades Ryan Field every couple years.
At this point, it appeared the dust had settled from the shake up at QB. The defense pitched a shutout and we were back in the rankings at 4-2 heading into the second half of the season. Unfortunately, it would not go well. You know the story. 6-6. Blah Blah Blah.
After matriculating from the University of Michigan, Russ furthered his education with master’s degrees in Health Administration and Business Administration. After working in St Louis for Barnes Hospital, he moved to Minnesota and began working for the Mayo Clinic. He’s been there 25 years and is currently the Administrator for the Department of Cardiology. And like that feeling he got at Michigan as a recruit when he met all those ophthalmologists, Russ feels equally grateful for the opportunity to surrounded himself with legends in medicine and wonderful people who are committed to a common goal of helping other people.
Russ is married to Janet, whom he met at Michigan. Monte Robbins (former punter from Kansas) and Russ were sitting in a Linguistics class when he noticed a smart, beautiful co-ed sitting at the other end of the room. He couldn’t stop looking her way. When the class met again, Russ looked over to the same side of the room but to his chagrin, she wasn’t there. Monte leaned over and said, “she’s sitting behind you.” A few years later, she’d be standing right next to him.
In 1991, the pretty girl from the Linguistics class became Mrs. Russell Rein. They have two children: Sarah is a senior at the University of Minnesota, and JT is a freshman at the University of Utah.
Those Who Stay…
(James Coller) THIS GUY!
FIRST: Michigan started pretty well getting into the attacking zone and drawing a penalty about four minutes into the game. They got into the the lower slot and crease a few different times but were not able to convert on those opportunities. The goal came from De Jong from the point via a screen by Adam Winborg. It was also just after their power play chance had expired. That was about it, though. They ended up with 5 even strength attempts. That's not too good.
SECOND: Michigan's 5v5 offense created their second goal of the night. Evan Allen won a bottle along the boards and worked a couple passes with Piazza at the point, who slid over to shoot from nearer the center of the blue line. Kile got a great screen and tipped the puck as it went by to give M a 2-1 lead. The goal was reviewed for interference but Kile did not make enough contact with Minney and looked to be just out of the crease. Kile also rode in on a 2v0 with Shuart, elected to shoot, and Minney denied him. Michigan ended up with 14 even strength attempts at the net, including 3-4 from 'home plate.' Better, I suppose.
- THIRD/OT: Michigan generated 14 attempts in the third and 2 more in OT. That's...ok. Only four came from 'home plate.' Most of the attempts were from odd angles or from distance. So, unfortunately, still not great offense. Lockwood got in pretty close once but not much else overly threatening. Their best looks came from the man advantage and they were not finished.
FIRST: Michigan's defense was typical. The goal they gave up was losing a 1v1 battled on the boards followed by Luce getting beat by Pavelek in front of the net to get an uncontested shot off past Nagelvoort. It was similar to last night's goals. Michigan also surrendered 20 even strength attempts on net. Nine of those came from inside 'home plate.' Different night, same issues.
SECOND: Michigan gave up 15 attempts at their net, 7 of which came from 'home plate.' Four of those came from just outside the crease, though. They did not give up a goal in a full period for the first time since the GLI (I think). So, that's a good thing. Most of that was due to Nagelvoort, though. Small steps, I guess.
- THIRD/OT: Nagelvoort faced three shots (one of them being 50/50 illegal) and saved the definite two shots. MSU got five (three more in OT) even strength attempts in the third. That's very good! Possibly M's best defensive period of the year? The one thing (because there is always a thing) was that on the goal -which was on the PP but this relates to defense- there were two attackers behind the last defenseman. One of them hit the puck near the crossbar past Nagelvoort. Even on the powerplay...still unmarked dudes in the crease.
FIRST: Michigan drew one penalty in and nearly cashed in on it. They were able to score about 4 seconds after the penalty expired, so technically it was not a PPG, but it was also before the defense could be reset with their equalizing player. So, not a power play goal...but kinda still a power play goal. Dancs took a tripping penalty towards the end of the first that will carry over to the second. MSU created a couple a good looks but no conversion, yet.
SECOND: Michigan did not draw a penalty in the second period. They did take two, however, and killed them both off. Nagelvoort played a large role in one of those. He's looking fantastic.
THIRD: Michigan drew two penalties in the third period. Dancs had a great cross-crease pass that was just out of Kile's reach. Kile had a wide open net. That was about it for power play good looks. Cooper Marody took a terrible penalty behind the Spartan net that ultimately led to MSU's tying goal. The goal was flipped in the high slot and hit a Spartan stick up near the crossbar. It looked to about even with the crossbar and the goal was uphelf after a review. Nagelvoort had zero chance. The issue is that the penalty taken was not even close to necessary and there is a great chance this game does not reach OT without it.
- OT: M took a penalty, but it was an intelligent one. They killed it with a couple nice saves from Nagelvoort.
FIRST: Zach Nagelvoort started in goal, and he looked very good, including making a couple of great saves. State created a great opportunity with two dynamic cross-ice passes that got an attacker alone in the lower slot. Nagelvoort was up to the challenge. He also made a couple very good stops on MSU's power play. He ended up with eight saves. The goal was on the defense, as Luce lost his man in front of the crease.
SECOND: Another top notch period for Nagelvoort in net. Zach was everywhere. There was one stretch early on where he must have made about 4-5 saves in about 10-15 seconds...and from close range, too. He also held his posts well and denied a couple more opportunities, there. Nagelvoort also was ready for a very bad DZTO at the blue line and stopped another Spartan snipe. He's been in great position all night. Up to 21 saves, so far.
THIRD: Nagelvoort didn't have much to do in the third. He stopped two of the three shots that he saw. He had no chance on the goal, as it was deflected about a few feet in front of him and was 50/50 hit with a high stick. Fantastic night for Zach. Its really crazy how well all three goalies are playing.
- OT/SO: NOPE. Nothing. Stopped three more shots...then three more in the shootout. Good stuff, Zach.
ODD MAN RUSHES
FIRST: Michigan State has two 3v2s. The first was non-threatening with the puck not getting near Nagelvoort via a deflection. The second freed a shooter just inside Nagelvoort's left faceoff dot. Zach was able to deny the opportunity.
SECOND: I had zero OMRs in the second period.
THIRD: No OMRS.
- OT: An almost 2v1 but Boka took the 2nd guy down (with no call), so it became a 1v1. De Jong then took him down and was called for a penalty that Michgan killed.
FINAL CORSI SCORE
I had: Michigan State 42, Michigan 36
www.collegehockeynews.com had: Michigan State 44, Michigan 36
(Bill Rapai) Checking a guy AFTER the puck is in the net does not count as 'marking'
FIRST: Michigan's offense started rather slowly, getting outshot 10-3 after the 10:00 mark, but they finally started getting more attempts in on Minney as the period ticked on. They ended up getting 17 attempts, though only two would come from inside the dangerous 'home plate' area. This would be a classic "the numbers are there but the eye test didn't really back it up." But...a period Coris win is good? Now...onto the fatefully dreaded second.
SECOND: Michigan generated 14 looks at the net. Again, the number is marginally acceptable, but the locations of most of these attempts are not very dangerous. I counted three attempts from 'home plate.' Not great, Bob. Not against a team that has four victories coming into tonight's game. They manufactured more and better looks on special teams...but, like, that's what you're supposed to do. I guess better than previous 2nd periods?
- THIRD: Ok, so New Hildebrand was fantastic tonight and definitely stole multiple goals from Michigan. Michigan still only got off 13 attempts at the net in the 3rd. They had 8 from the 'home plate' area. That's not awful but not great, either. Boka made a CRAZY pass from the left corner to a wide open Lockwood who was stoned by New Hildebrand only to have the puck fall to an even more open Marody who literally missed an open net from the slot. Apropos.
FIRST: After getting being swarmed and dominated in the first 8-10 minutes, Michigan's defense settled down and started to get on the same page. MSU had a few great looks on the power play and another couple decent chances 5v5, but most of their chances came from outside the dots...mainly from each point. The number was too high (16) for me, but the location was tolerable. That being said, those first few minutes were bad. It took a couple shifts to get the puck into the defensive end a couple times. Also, still too many TOs at their own blue line. Lastly, please, PLEASE, start hitting dudes when they are withing a stick-length of the crease.
SECOND: Bad. State got 25 attempts 5v5 attempts at the net. Also, the goal was a 2v2 rush that one defender was beaten along the boards and a 2nd was beaten into the slot. The 2nd Spartan tapped the puck past JLF with no annoyance from a defender. I mean...I guess this is just expected, now. Probably should have been sooner. I have 8 attempts inside 'home plate.' Also, a quite a few just outside to JLF's left (6 to be exact). Blah.
- THIRD: Statistically speaking, Michigan's defense played well. Only 8 attempts on even strength. However, MSU had a lead and was not pressing for more. Again, though, as the puck was carried into the left corner, four Wolverines drifted in that direction leaving yet another open attacker in the low slot. And he scored. Becuase he should when unchecked in that position. All 3 goals were like that, tonight. Nothing new to see here. Move along.
FIRST: Michigan took one penalty and MSU scored on it. After a shot from the point went wide, JLF lunged to his left and deflected the 2nd chance but it trickled over him to the top of the crease where a waiting Spartan put down his lemonade and tapped in a power play goal. No one was near him, let alone harassing him. Sigh. Michigan did not have a power play opportunity.
SECOND: Michigan had two man advantages in the 2nd period. The first went as well as possible without netting a goal. They moved the puck well and had to have at least 4-5 very good looks at the net but New Hildebrand was up to each and every one. Kile was flat-out robbed twice. The second opportunity did not go as well. They generated some zone time but not many very enticing looks. Michigan is 0/2 so far. M gave up a couple man advantages, but State could could not convert on those, either. M's PK looked fine but not great.
- THIRD: Michigan took another penalty and killed it off. Only three penalties on the night. That will do. Continue that trend, please. Michigan also drew three penalties in the third but did not score. They also did not register a shot on any of those power plays. Do not continue this trend, please. On the night, MSU: 1/3, M: 0/4
FIRST: Jack LaFontaine started in goal and had a very nice first period. The lone goal to beat him came on the power play from an unchecked dude in the crease. He also stopped the first attempt. So, like, whatever, man. Other than that, he stopped eleven shots and looked in control of where he wanted to put the puck. He did not play last weekend in Minnesota, but he's holding up the trend of strong netminding by Michigan goaltenders, lately.
SECOND: Once again, JLF had a very nice period, stopping 13 more shots. Unfortunately, Michigan's defense was a little more lax in this period and JLF had to defend from a lot shorter distance. He stood strong though, not giving up many rebounds and making athletic saves on at least a couple should-have-been goals. He's definietly done his job to hold down the fort, but at some point, everyone else is going to have to relieve the pressure...hopefully.
- THIRD: See the previous couple paragraphs. JLF didn't have as much to do, but he made the couple that he saw, except for: Another open attacker in the low slot. This time, I think he got a piece of it but couldn't grab it. It bounced between his glove, his body, and the post before entering the net. I blame him for 0 of the 3 goals. I used to be upset when Michigan lost hockey games. It was just behind Football in my Emotional Rollercoaster. But...man...the last few years and then this year. Its is just hard to expect anything but a rough loss, anymore. That makes me the most upset.
ODD MAN RUSHES
FIRST: There was AN almost 3v2 for State. It was borderline and nothing really came of it, so...eh. That's it.
SECOND: I counted 0 OMRs.
- THIRD: Again, no counted OMRs. Yay for that, I suppose.
FINAL CORSI SCORE
I had: Michigan State 49, Michigan 46
www.collegehockeynews.com had: Michigan State 50, Michigan 45
These days you can’t open your web browser without finding a discussion of the paranoia that awaits our fellow citizens in 2017……and by that I mean the Michigan offensive line depth chart. (No politics!) The dire nature of this situation really struck me this week after I saw the following things pop up on my favorite Michigan blogs:
- Touch the Banner posted about the fate of every OL recruit for the past several years. In that piece and also in the comments there were discussions about what went wrong.
- Then over at 247 you hear about the minimal chance of Newsome making it back on the field this year, robbing Michigan of its only true LT on the roster and some valuable experience.
- That results in Brian speculating that we’re in for a Bredeson/Kugler/Cole/Onwenu/??? starting five who are backed up with freshmen and guys that have never seen the field.
On top of that, in his “This week in MGoBlog History” piece Maize.Blue Wagner links to a post-Rose Bowl breakdown from Brian in 2007 that talks about the offensive line being the weak link on the team that USC was able to exploit.
Think about that for a moment. A full decade ago this very blog was wringing their hands about how our offensive line performance and recruiting had declined to become the weak link on the team. That was under late-era Lloyd Carr. How are we STILL talking about this ten years later???
To help put this in perspective, Michigan had three OL drafted in 2001 in the first 43 picks – Hutchinson, Backus, and Williams. All of those players went on to have long and productive NFL careers. In the 15 drafts since then, here are the draft picks from the OL position:
- 2004 - Tony Pape #221 (never really played)
- 2005 – David Baas #33 (solid NFL career)
- 2008 – Jake Long #1 (solid, if short NFL career)
- 2011 – Stephen Schilling #201 (brief NFL career)
- 2012 – David Molk #226 (brief NFL career)
- 2014 – Tayor Lewan #11 (off to a good start)
- 2014 – Michael Schofield #95 (too soon to tell)
- 2016 – Graham Glasgow #95 (too soon to tell)
So it took 15 years for Michigan to match the number of top picks that they had in 2001 and of the guys on that list there isn’t a single one that could match the careers of those guys from 2001 (pending the outcome of the young guys). Wow. Besides a few glimmers of hope during the Rodriguez and Hoke era we continue to find ourselves terrified of the depth chart and development of our OL headed into Harbaugh’s third year with the program, a full 15 years later.
Based on the links above, I set about trying to figure out WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN with our 2017 depth chart. I say “should” instead of “could” to make a specific distinction. Things like injuries and off-field issues are completely unpredictable and in an ideal utopia they SHOULD not happen. Things like “Kyle Kalis is the most sure thing OL prospect and will be awesome” COULD have happened, but it didn’t despite being healthy and available his entire career. In other words, what COULD have happened was for some of the recruits to be the studs we thought these past few years and we’d be entering a season with Kugler, Dawson, and other upper classmen dominating on the line. Likewise, we COULD have recruited Ethan Pocic or another star, but it didn’t happen.
Let’s instead look at more of the “fate” side of things and look at what the line SHOULD look like if all of the pieces fell in place due to things outside of the team’s control.
Left Tackle –
- Projected Starter = Ben Bredeson (So, 0.5 years experience)
- Should-be Starter = Grant Newsome (Jr, 1.0 years experience)
- Comment = This assumes Newsome didn’t get the gruesome injury and would be entering his second year as a starter as a true left tackle prospect.
Left Guard –
- Projected Starter = Kugler (Sr, 0.0 years experience)
- Should-be Starter = Kyle Bosch (Sr, 2.5 years experience)
- Comment = Bosch left the team for off-field issues but turned into an all-B12 performer for WVU this past season. Had he worked things out at Michigan he would be entering 2017 as probably our best offensive lineman.
- Projected Starter = Mason Cole (Jr, 2.0 years experience)
- Should-be Starter = Mason Cole
- Comment = Instead of partnering with Bosch to form a dominating pair of experienced upperclassmen, he’s the lone experienced starter on the line and has to be a star for us to have any hope of holding this together.
Right Guard –
- Projected Starter = Michael Onwenu (So, 0.0 years experience)
- Should-be Starter = Bredeson/Kugler/Onwenu
- Comment = This gets a little tricky, but is actually a luxury. By having the other four positions locked down in this fictional universe, the RG spot becomes a free-for-all between the veteran Kugler and two top prospects coming off of their red-shirt years. The likely pick is Bredeson based on what we know. This has the added side effect that Onwenu could move to NT for a season to fill that void since he isn’t needed on the OL.
Right Tackle –
- Projected Starter = Uh…..Nolan Ulizio? (RFr, 0.0 years experience)
- Should-Be Starter = Logan Tulley-Tillman (Sr,1.0 years experience)
- Comment = LTT got into trouble and found himself off the team instead of being in line to be the starter at RT next year. He may have beaten out Newsome in 2016 had he not been stupid. He probably was not projected to be a star, but he at least projected to be a solid veteran starter.
There you have it. Brian’s projected line has three first-year starters, just 2.5 years of starting experience, and a guy playing out of position in Bredeson. In our ideal world situation, we have just one first-year starter that will emerge from a good battle, a healthy 6.5 years of starting experience, no one out of position, redshirts on all of the freshmen, and Onwenu available to play back-up NT.
While we know that OL projections from high school to college are probably the least accurate of any position, physical development is a wild-card, and coaching is critical……the conclusion from this analysis is that fate is also a bitch. This is why you always want 4-5 recruits in every class because you never know what will happen. Let’s hope Harbaugh and Drevno can work some magic this off-season with these guys.