spoiler alert: i linked this
So I was playing my favorite older video game recently, Left 4 Dead 2, and as I was slaughtering the endless horde of zombies, it got me to thinking about how the zombies from the game can be compared to Michigan’s football schedule this year, with each type of zombie representing an opponent we faced or will face.
For those of you that haven’t played L4D2, it is a 4 player co-op zombie survival shooting game that takes place in a world overrun with an infection that turns everyone into zombies. Aside from your traditional run-of-the-mill zombies, the infection has turned some zombies into special infected zombies that have various powers and abilities. In L4D2 there are 8 types of mutant zombies and 5 varieties of uncommon zombies. The zombies in the game actually match up very well with Michigan’s schedule for 2012, as you’ll see below. (Author’s note – yes I know that in the game they’re called “infected” not zombies, but zombies sounds better and it’s Halloween so deal with it)
Alabama: The tank.
The tank is the toughest zombie in the game. It is enormous, strong, and extremely hard to take down. Think the Incredible Hulk if he were a zombie. That is Alabama in a nutshell, the NFL team playing in the NCAA. Bama is an unstoppable dominating force, and unfortunately unlike the tank, we can’t throw Molotov cocktails at it to slow it down.
Air Force: The jockey
The jockey is a zombie that is small and annoying. It gets it’s name because it hops on your back and steers you into trouble, such as right off of a ledge. Air Force is also small in size, compared to other football squads, and having to prepare for their triple option is annoying. Also, having this game right after Alabama was Dave Brandon’s way of potentially steering us into trouble.
UMASS: The common zombie
Common zombies are easy to kill, dispatched with one well placed bullet. Baby seal of 2012 UMASS was this, extremely easy to dispatch.
Notre Dame: The smoker
The smoker is a zombie that ensnares you from a distance and slowly chokes the life out of you. This is what ND’s defense does, choking the life out of its opponents. Also, watching Denard throw 4 straight interceptions slowly choked away my will to live as well.
Purdue: The clown uncommon zombie
The clown is an amusement park clown turned into a zombie. It is the stuff of nightmares, with a big red clown nose, but the same level of defense as your ordinary common zombie. This was Purdue this year, a team that had the appearance of maybe being scary, but in reality had no defense. Plus the clown nose reminds me of their coach’s mustache.
Illinois: The hazmat suit uncommon zombie.
Just like the clown zombie, the zombie in a hazmat suit is just a regular zombie with a goofy appearance, but once again no defense above a common zombie. There are three reasons I liken this zombie to Illinois’ football team this year. The first is because the hazmat suit makes the zombie fireproof, something Tim Beckman probably is since it is his first year. The second is that the zombie has no defense, just like UI football. And last, the hazmat suit is a good metaphor for UI football in general, because you need a hazmat suit to deal with the stench that is the Illini this season.
Michigan State: The charger
The charger is like Juggernaut from X-Men, it will batter into you over and over. MSU RB Le’Veon Bell is the charger in a nutshell, a human battering ram that MSU uses to run over their opponents. Fortunately, MSU didn’t use him to batter us down as much as they used him earlier in the season.
Nebraska: The boomer
The boomer is a zombie that pukes all over you, attracting other zombies to rush you in a horde. When Denard Robinson got hurt playing against them, I totally wanted to puke myself. Plus, Nebraska’s blitzes that swarmed our backup QB Bellomy are similar to the horde rush that happens in the game when the boomer hits you.
Minnesota: The construction worker uncommon zombie.
The construction worker zombie has earplugs in, so he cannot hear things that would otherwise draw the attention of normal zombies. Minnesota is normally a team that would barely draw our attention as well, so I thought this was fitting. Hopefully Denard will be healthy so that we can crush MN just like one would easily dispatch this zombie in the game.
Northwestern: The hunter
The hunter is a zombie that can pounce on you and trap you if you are unsuspecting and do a lot of damage to you if you are not prepared. With Northwestern’s crazy offense, this game can be a trap for Michigan as well as NU can put up a lot of points on us if we are not prepared for them.
Iowa: The riot gear uncommon zombie.
This zombie was a riot gear wearing cop that turned into a zombie, making him much harder to kill as he is bulletproof from the front, but he has just as much offense as your run of the mill common zombie. This is Iowa this season: a better than average defense coupled with an extremely weak offense.
Ohio State: The witch
The witch is a zombie that is extremely powerful offensively, capable of taking down your character extremely quickly if you are not able to take her out first. That is Ohio State this year, a powerful offensive attack, but not their customary strong defense from years past. When I was originally outlining this post, before the Nebraska game, I was going to also allude to how the witch can be gone around and ignored while you still reach your objective (the Big Ten title game) but now that we’ve got a loss against Nebraska we have to go through Ohio State as opposed to around it, which is more dangerous.
Ok so that was what I was thinking as I was playing L4D2. Happy Halloween everyone, I hope you enjoyed reading!
Offense and defense rankings based on total numbers and straight averages can be misleading at times. If a team plays opponents with strong rush offense but weak pass offense, the team's pass defense stats might look better than what they really should be. This is something Michigan was being accused of due to the fact that much of our "bad" defensive games came against strong rushing teams (Alabama and Air Force).
One way to mitigate this "effect" would be to not look at the totals and average numbers, but compare the game output against the average output the opponent has produced against all opponents. This produces numbers that show you how good your performance was compared to all other team that your opponent has played. It is more useful comparative method than using just total numbers.
So, exactly how does it work?
Here are the stats for Michigan so far this year:
|Opponents||Rush Net Total||Pass Yds Total||Total Yds||Pts||Avg Rush Total||Avg Pass Total||Avg Total Offense||Avg Scoring Offense|
|Average All Opp||145.1||145.9||291.0||17.3||196.0||194.7||390.7||27.5|
|Opponents||Avg Rush Off Diff||Avg Pass Off Diff||Avg Total Off Diff||Avg Scoring Off Diff|
|Average All Opp||-24%||-24%||-26%||-39%|
The first four columns of stats represent the actual stats from the game played against Michigan. The second set (of four) columns are the average output of that team against all opponents this year. The
last set (of four) columns second table are the differences in percentage of actual game stat versus the total year averages.
As you can see from the table, Alabama produced their average offensive output against Michigan while Purdue and Illinois barely produced about half of their normal offensive output.
By averaging all of the averages, we find that our defense is reducing our opponents' normal offensive output by about 25%, while only allowing only 61% of their normal scoring output.
Sounds pretty good, but how does that compare to rest of NCAA?
I didn't have enough time to calculate the differential averages for every team in NCAA, but I did the analysis for top 10 Pass/Rush/Total defensive teams and all of Big Ten (plus ND). I did not include stats against FCS opponents. Here it is ranked by total offense differential.
Few things that stand out:
- Alabama, LSU, and Florida St defense stand above the rest
- Michigan and Michigan St defenses stand above the rest of B1G
- Michigan is pretty good at both run and pass defense
- Ohio St pass defense is HORRIBLE!
- BYU defense is much better than I thought
- Many of the defenses highly ranked in one (pass or rush) only because they are so horrible at the other (I am looking at you Arizona St, Stanford, Nebraska and Oregon St!)
- Notre Dame is living on borrowed time - their scoring differential is MUCH higher than what rest of the defensive differentials would indicate
I do believe converting straight up numbers to percentages makes it much easier to compare between pass/rush and between different teams. I hope most of you find this useful. If I get enough upvotes, I will do the same analysis for offense as well.
This will be the first time sharing a wallpaper with MGoBlog. I have made a few in the past but only shared with family, who of course all bleed Maize & Blue. Hope you all enjoy.
I wanted to go with a history theme for the Minnesota game. I know as of recently there has not been much of a rivalry between the two schools, Blue winning 19 of the last 20 meetings. Minnesota has had its streaks in the series as well and the history of the jug is intriguing to me. I chose players for the wallpaper based on personal preference of course but also because each was a great at their own time. I added a subtle little "pass & catch" order to the players showing that the honor of winning it has been passed from Team #30 down to Team #133.
In the last 5 years, I've made it to every Big Ten school (and ND) for an away Michigan Football game. As you’ll see, the Nebraska trip was quite unique. I hope Nebraska fans that visit Ann Arbor leave with an equally positive experience when they visit us.
Putting aside the Wolverines for a moment, the Nebraska football community is no doubt the most prideful, classy, hospitable and kind (in my observation anyway) of all B1G teams. While they don't have a decades-long history of matchups with other B1G football programs, I don't think they would change much if they did. They would still be a great example of how a fanbase is supposed to support its football program and welcome visiting fans.
Below are examples of how they do things:
- Checking in to the hotel (Fairfield Inn – not fancy), the hotel manager offered to give us his number in case we got lost while exploring downtown Lincoln. (Come On Man, I Have A Smartphone)
- Friday night, while at dinner, several groups of people stopped at our table, welcoming us to Lincoln and wishing us luck the next day for the game.
- After dinner, at a campus bar, students went out of their way to welcome us to Lincoln and say "Good luck tomorrow" with a smile. (This is when I start thinking Where Am I?)
- On the walk back to the hotel Friday night, a group of ladies stopped us on the sidewalk and said greeting visiting fans is always a highlight for them and it is "like seeing a celebrity". (Now thinking: Is This Just A Well-Executed Prank?)
- Saturday before the game, we walked all around the stadium and nearby tailgates for about 7 hours. This part deserves sub-bullets:
o About 75% of tailgate parties we walked by asked us to stop and chat with them. 50% offered us food or beverage.
o One tailgate we decided to stop at was run by Tommie Frazier. Yes that Tommie Frazier. His name is on the stadium. Not knowing who he was (all he said was "I used to play here"), we talked to him for about 15 minutes, discussing the ongoing stadium renovations, where various campus/athletic buildings were located, where the best tailgates are, etc. The only reason I know that he wasn't just another guy with a tailgate is because as we were saying goodbye, the Nebraska gymnastics coach walked up and said Tommie's name aloud.
o Another tailgate lot we walked through had all the party buses and RVs in it. A converted school bus stood out as a great piece of fandom and as we were walking by, the door flung open and we were invited inside to drink beer and watch the early games. We sat there for about an hour, totally spontaneously, and shared stories about how both teams think they would have demolished the other if they had played against each other in 1997.
o The last tailgate lot we walked through ended up being about a 3 hour stop. Our plans to go to a bar for pregame dinner were abandoned. One guy demanded we have a blue jello shot with him from the batch that he made in honor of Michigan. A few parking spots away we did several shot-skis. We accepted invitations to eat food from several different grills and slowcookers. All the discussions taking place in these three hours were about football and beer. No taunting or yelling or animosity or complaining of any kind. I never heard a negative remark about either team or their corresponding players. I was in a sea of red and I wanted more. (Is This Real Life?)
- During the game, a Nebraska fan sitting opposite the aisle from us bought us a Runza (a baked pastry filled with meat) from the vendor walking the aisles (yes they have those). He didn't speak a word to us the whole game except when he said "Welcome to Lincoln, this [Runza] is for you" while indicating it was a local delicacy of sorts. It was delicious. (I Didn't Know I Wanted That, But He Did)
- After the game, our section was among the last to file out due to the gate location, and the Nebraska fans walking down the steps with us were interested to know if we enjoyed our time in their city despite the ugly game. We said yes, and they wished us safe travels home.
It got to the point where the sincerity and hospitality were equal parts overwhelming and humbling. I highly recommend you visit this place. I'm still wondering if everybody that visits has such a great experience or if I was just lucky. Either way, this is how Football Saturday should be. I'll likely cheer for Nebraska whenever doing so doesn't conflict with cheering interests that are advantageous for Michigan.
Preseason Prediction: Michigan will end the year with a +8 Turnover Margin (TOM) or better (2011 was +7). The prediction for TOM for M for this year is based on the prediction that M will be a very good team again this year and is not based on the actual TOM of last year. (Very good teams will have a TOM of +5 or better.)
No Way: The replay guys were just brutal. Negate a 50 yard catch by Roundtree and then uphold that interception off the Vincent Smith catch/whatever. If that was a catch, then Smith was down when he hit the ground – if the ball hit the ground, then it should have been incomplete. Michigan had 2 takeaways but the 3 interceptions made the turnover stats for the game ugly. For the year, Bellomy is 4-21 with 4 interceptions and a – 0.65 efficiency rating. And, no, I am not charting that.
Denard Robinson Interception %: Denard was having a good game until the elbow nerve flared up for the third time this year and he did not return to the game. This is a recurring problem that is not going away and it is very likely that Denard will miss major portions of the next 4 games. The chart shows a comparison of Denard's Int% for 2011 and 2012 subdivided by out-of-conference (OOC) and Big Ten games.
In 2011 M ranked #11 at 65% run play %.
Synopsis for Turnovers: M added 1 interception gained (Ojemudia) for a total of 7 interceptions and is ranked #52. M had one forced fumble (Washington) recovered by Heitzman for 6 fumble recoveries for the year (ranked #63). The total of 14 interceptions lost is ranked at #121. Team interception rate is 7.4% – ranked #124 with the next worst being Auburn at 5.95%. M did not lose a fumble and the total of just 3 lost fumbles is ranked #13. Michigan now has 12 different defensive players that have either forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, or intercepted a pass.
Synopsis for Expected Point (EP) Analysis: Turnovers resulted in a net of 5.1 expected points benefitting Nebraska. Although the EP analysis does not indicate that TOs were a significant reason M lost this game, my gut sure tells me that the TOs made it just about impossible for M to win this one.
The folks at Football Outsiders – FEI are also doing weekly "Revisionist Box Scores" that strips out TOs, Special Teams, and Field Position. FEI calculates the value generated by each drive and then lost on the drive up until the turnover, as if the drive had concluded at that spot on the field. Thru Week #8, FEI has 16% of games where TOs were significant.
(See the Section on Gory Details below for how the adjustment for Expected Points (EP) is calculated.)
National Rankings: All rankings include games between two FBS teams ONLY and are from TeamRankings except for forced fumbles which is from CFBStats. The four columns with *** show the best correlation to offense and defense (per Advanced NFL stats).
The Gory Details
Expected Point (EP) Analysis: Basically, the probability of scoring depends on the line of scrimmage for the offense. Therefore, the impact of a TO also depends on the yard line where the TO is lost and the yard line where the TO is gained. Each turnover may result in an immediate lost opportunity for the team committing the TO and a potential gain in field position by the opponent. Both of these components can vary dramatically based upon the down when the TO occurred, the yards the TO is returned, and whether the TO was a fumble or an interception.
Here are the details for the game.
The analysis is a bit tricky because: (A) the TO may directly result in lost EP for the offense but (B) only modifies the EP for the team gaining the TO because the team gaining the TO would have gotten another possession even without the TO (due to a punt, KO after a TD, KO after a field goal, etc.). The Net EP Gain must take into account the potential EP gain without the TO. The EP gain without the turnover is based on where the field position would have been for the next possession if the TO had not occurred.
The expected point calculations are based on data from Brian Fremeau at BCFToys (he also posts at Football Outsiders). Fremeau's data reflects all offensive possessions played in 2007-2010 FBS vs. FBS games. I "smoothed" the actual data.
Here is a summary of the smoothed expected points.
Denard Robinson's injury on Saturday, coupled with Russell Bellomy's poor performance in a backup role, prompts many questions about Michigan's quarterback recruiting. Could the coaches have anticipated this? Were mistakes made? If so, by whom?
Before we try to answer these questions, let's get a few quick observations out of the way.
1. Game performance and practice performance can differ. We don't know what the coaches saw out of Russell Bellomy in practice, but one must assume it was better than what we saw on the field. We do know that Bellomy looked sharp in the spring game, but that was in the friendly confines of Michigan Stadium, against the second-team defense.
2. Anytime a star of Denard Robinson's caliber is knocked out of a tough road game, you're probably going to lose. Obviously, a better performance by Bellomy would have made the game less painful to watch. But the fantasy where he actually wins it was always a long-shot.
3. Bellomy's first performance against a credible opponent with the game on the line, is probably not the best indication of his capabilities.
With that out of the way, let's get back to our original questions.
Quarterback Recruiting is Different
Quarterback recruiting has some unique challenges that the casual fan often does not appreciate.
1. Quarterback rankings are generally accurate. High-school quarterbacks are very highly scrutinized. Their position generates a lot of stats, and they're filmed on every down. It is therefore difficult to surprise anyone at quarterback. I know that Brian Griese was a walk-on, but he was a rare exception. Everyone knows who the great prospects are — including, of course, the prospects themselves.
2. Most teams play only one quarterback. This means that a star QB who's one class behind another star QB, has a very strong chance of spending most of his career on the bench. This situation differs from, say, the offensive line, where the presence of a 5-star on the roster is not necessarily going to dissuade other 5-stars from committing. You can make productive use of more than one of these. At QB, you can't.
3. Quarterbacks are usually not fungible. Leaving aside Devin Gardner, most QBs can only play QB. This means they have less potential for switching positions if they arrive at college and find a depth-chart traffic jam.
4. You don't play quarterback as a hobby. Even for exceptionally talented players, preparing to play quarterback is a full-time job. It is generally not possible to play another position, and then quickly switch to quarterback when the need arises.
What can we draw from these observations?
In economic terms, the market for college quarterbacks is transparent, and quarterbacks have the advantage: there are more schools seeking a great QB, than there are great QBs to go around. And it is rather unlikely that a school will find a great QB that no one else knew about. (Yes, I know: Denard Robinson. Keep reading.)
A highly-touted QB is therefore unlikely to choose a school where he risks losing the job to another highly-touted QB. The best recruits look for a school where there's a clear path to becoming a multi-year starter.
Of course, that's true at every position, to a certain extent. But there's no other position where the typical team plays only ONE guy, and if you're not THAT guy, you probably won't see much game action at all.
The Five-Star Thundercloud
When a five-star quarterback commits to your school, there's good news and bad news. The good news is: you got a five-star quarterback. The bad news is: the classes surrounding him are going to be barren.
Here's the list of Michigan's quarterback commitments in the Rivals era:
|2002||4||Matt Guttierez||Transferred to Idaho State|
|2003||4||Clayton Richard||Switched to baseball after one year|
|2005||3||Jason Forcier||Transferred to Stanford|
|2006||3||David Cone||Stayed but never saw meaningful game action|
|2007||5||Ryan Mallett||Transferred to Arkansas after his freshman season|
|2008||NONE||(Steven Threet had transferred from Georgia Tech the year before.)|
|2009||4||Tate Forcier||Flunked out of school after his sophomore year|
Observe the quarterback vacuum around each of the three five-star quarterbacks that Michigan has recruited in the Rivals era. Other top QBs don't want to compete with these guys.
(Some may recall that there was a similar vacuum around Drew Henson's recruitment. They weren't giving out stars then, but it's likely Henson would have had five, if he'd come along later.)
The Unusual Events of 2008–2010
To a lesser extent, it is also difficult to pick up multiple four-star quarterbacks in consecutive years. These guys aren't quite the nearly-sure things that five-stars are; still, they're in short enough supply that they tend to look for situations where they have a clear path to the top of the depth chart.
In 2008, Rich Rodriguez inherited Georgia Tech transfer Steven Threet (a former four-star) and Nick Sheridan, a walk-on. Neither guy was well-suited to Rodriguez's spread offense. After the 2008 season, Threet transferred for the second time in his short career, leaving a void at the quarterback position.
In the 2009 class, Rodriguez picked up two four-star quarterbacks, a rare feat. This was possible only because most major programs thought that Denard Robinson could not play QB at the college level.
You can't exactly call Robinson a sleeper, because he had offers at multiple top-tier programs, including Florida, Auburn, Georgia, Miami, Ohio State, and West Virginia. But among those schools, only Michigan offered him at quarterback.
Then, four-star Devin Gardner saw the tire fire that was Michigan's 2009 season, and decided to stick with the Wolverines in 2010, although he had other top-tier offers, including Oregon, Notre Dame, and Nebraska.
Thus, Michigan got three four-star QBs in two years, which you'll find is an uncommon occurrence in college football.
But Devin Gardner was taking the risk that all QB recruits take, when they sign the year after another touted recruit. To become a multi-year starter at QB, he needed Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson to both flame out. Only Forcier did.
Adding insult to injury, Rich Rodriguez foolishly burned Gardner's redshirt after Tate Forcier was temporarily demoted to third string, to punish him for a lackluster effort in off-season work-outs. Gardner played a total of three snaps in two games when Robinson was briefly sidelined, plus garbage time against Bowling Green.
At this writing, it is still unclear if Gardner can obtain a medical hardship waiver for an alleged back injury that he suffered midway through his freshman year. I am not sure how serious that back injury was. By the time of Michigan's bowl game, Forcier had already flunked out of school. Gardner made the trip to Jacksonville and would presumably have played if Robinson had been forced out of the game.
Should Gardner be unable to secure a fifth year, his lost freshman season is probably the worst burned redshirt currently on the team, and one of the dumbest ever.
The More Normal Events of 2011–2014
When Brady Hoke arrived in January 2011, he found only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster and none committed. No top-tier quarterbacks were available, and none would have considered Michigan in the wake of an ugly and disorganized transition from Rich Rodriguez to a little-known (at the time) coach from San Diego State.
So Hoke wasn't going to have a lot of options. The best he could get was Russell Bellomy, a three-star from Arlington, Texas, whose best previous offer was Purdue. The Michigan media promptly wrote fawning tributes to Bellomy, but let's not forget: quarterback rankings are generally accurate. There are reasons why his best previous offer was Purdue.
Brady Hoke started recruiting like a firestorm, and within a few months he'd snagged his first trophy: a commitment from Shane Morris, a junior quarterback who was on his way to getting five stars from all of the major recruiting services.
At this point, Michigan quarterback recruiting entered the five-star thundercloud. No one who's better than Russell Bellomy is going to want to risk the possibility that he'll spend three or four years on the bench, watching Shane Morris light up the Big Ten.
You can understand, therefore, why Michigan didn't take a quarterback in 2012. The only ones available would have been the David Cone types, someone practically guaranteed never to see meaningful game action. Certainly, any quarterback they might have taken in 2012 would not have helped avoid the loss to Nebraska. Nor would that hypothetical QB have been any help next year: he'd probably still be fourth string.
Obviously, Michigan will need to take someone in 2014 — Shane Morris can't be their only QB over a three-year period — but unless they find a legacy kid who happens to have four stars, it's probably going to be another three-star who feels that a probable date with a clipboard at Michigan is better than the starting job at Purdue.
Was Devin Gardner Mishandled?
With Devin Gardner, the coaches were damned if they did, and damned if they didn't.
Any idiot ought to have known that Gardner was likely to be a better backup quarterback than Bellomy. Gardner's not only a year older than Bellomy, but he was better than Bellomy in high school, and as we've noted, QB recruiting rankings are generally correct. Nothing we've seen from Bellomy, other than a spring game in which he faced Michigan's second-string defense, should have led you to believe otherwise.
Despite this fact, some people actually believed that Bellomy was better than Gardner; some even believed he was better than Denard. I imagine most have now been disabused of that notion.
I don't think the coaches ever believed Bellomy was better than Gardner. They're not stupid. But unless Denard were injured, Gardner was destined to waste another year on the bench. Pickings were slim at wide receiver, and Gardner was that rare quarterback who actually could play another position, precisely the one where Michigan needed him.
So the coaches took a calculated risk. They knew that if Gardner practiced at WR enough to actually be usable at that position, he would no longer be well enough prepared to step in at QB. They hoped that Bellomy would be good enough to spell Denard occasionally, and that they wouldn't need him to go out and win the game in Lincoln or Columbus.
It wasn't a crazy gamble, from the viewpoint of playing the odds, and trying to give Michigan the best chance to win every game. You can't be so defensive that you keep one of your best athletes off the field, waiting for an injury that might never happen. Unfortunately, they rolled snake-eyes.
So the short answer is: no, I don't think they mishandled Gardner, given what they knew at the time and the depth they inherited at wide receiver.
What Does It Mean for 2013 and Beyond
Devin Gardner will be a full-time quarterback again, starting the day after Michigan's bowl game. Depending on Denard's injury status, he might be switching back now.
The one sure thing, is that even if you believe Bellomy will eventually win the job, you wouldn't just hand it to him. You've got to have at least two ready, and Gardner will be the only other QB available between Denard's departure and Shane Morris's arrival.
Despite Morris's high talent ceiling, he lost half his senior season to mono, he played for a mediocre high school team, and he isn't graduating early. You're kidding yourself if you think he'll arrive in mid-summer, and be ready to start for Michigan (or even to be a credible backup) by September 1st.
My own view is that Gardner will win the job. As I've noted above, QB rankings are usually correct. He came in with a higher ceiling than Bellomy, he's the better athlete, he has more game experience, and he's a year older.
Gardner has provided useful depth at wide receiver, but he has not set the world on fire. This once again validates what Brian Cook has so often said: the presence of a position-switcher on the depth chart is usually a sign of weakness. The two kids Michigan actually recruited at receiver, Darboh and Chesson, should be ready to step up next year. And that's before we consider any production from the two incoming 2013 freshmen who are already committed, or any others who are still considering the Wolverines, such as Laquon Treadwell.
This scenario will allow Gardner to start at quarterback, Bellomy to be the backup once again, and Morris to redshirt. The worst conceivable scenario, which I imagine the coaches would prefer to avoid, is that Morris plays relatively meaningless backup action as a true freshman, and squanders what could otherwise be a far more productive fifth year down the road.
1. You should not be terribly bothered that Michigan didn't take a quarterback in the 2012 class. Anyone realistically available would not have seen the field anyway.
2. Russell Bellomy probably isn't a quarterback you can win a Big Ten title with. That shouldn't have surprised you.
3. You can't really fault the coaches for switching Devin Gardner to wide receiver, given what they had at the time. Nevertheless, he's probably your 2013 starter.
4. Michigan is better off with Shane Morris than without him. But it's hard to get two guys like that in close succession. Any other highly-ranked QB will want to put distance between himself and Morris. Your next stud quarterback won't come until 2015, or maybe even 2016. The next guy they get is going to be another Bellomy type; maybe even the next two.