I posted this in another thread but I guess many people haven't really heard about how hard this kid's fought for a place on this team. If the mods want to bump this down to the board, that'd be understandable, the story's not all that long. Anyway, Kennedy's name has come up quite a bit recently; and I completely agree that no one wants to see another Nick Sheridan season. I'm not arguing he should start. But people who make fun of him (and granted, they are few and far between) should know how hard he's worked before criticizing. Anyway, on with the story.
One of my cousins was good friends with Jack in high school. This is what they told me.
Anywho, as a junior in HS, Jack was the starting QB. He came back in his senior year and either there was a new coach..or something, and the coach didn't like him..or at least his ability, so he got benched (Edit..AA.com says he was injured). Anyway, the slim shot Jack had at playing D1 ball seems to evaporate, right?
Well Jack enrolls as a freshman at UM, paying his own way, obviously. But hereally wants to join the football team. After enrolling as a freshman, he tries out, doesn't make the team. He doesn't give up. He knows he's been out of it for a while, and there's no way he's going to get on without practice. So, at night, after the team's gone back to their dorms/etc, and the field...yes, Michigan Stadium is empty, he hops the fence or whatever and sneaks onto the field. Every night. He uses practice equipment, footballs, etc, anything he can get his hands onto. For months and months, every day he snuck on and practiced in the dead of night.
Eventually, the cops caught him one night. He thought he was screwed, but instead, the cops set him up with practice stuff at Pioneer (I think my cousin said the Pioneer coach worked with him too) and when walk-on tryouts come around the next year, he goes for it. He leaves everything out on the field at the tryout, and makes the team.
He knows he'll never start, he knows he'll rarely play, he knows he'll probably never get on scholarship. But he loves Michigan football so much that none of it matters to him. He worked on all of that, so hard, just to suit up for the maize and blue on Saturdays. Now it's been about a year since my cousin told me about this, but I think I got all my facts straight.
You want a Michigan man, whatever the hell that means? There's your Michigan man.
Here's some AA.com add-ons. Their story adds some nice quotes from his parents after the DSU game from last year, but leaves out the Pioneer part.
My cousin told me he wasn't liked by the coaches..I guess he was just injured.
A redshirt freshman, Kennedy was forced to sit out his senior year of high school at Walled Lake Central after suffering a back injury.
More or less what my cousin told me
From the time he was cut until the start of this year's spring tryouts, Kennedy would scale the construction fence outside of Michigan Stadium and work out at night under the construction lights. Jack's parents didn't understand why he asked them for four footballs for his 19th birthday. Only later did they learn that Jack was lining up and knocking down trash cans on the field of Michigan Stadium to improve his accuracy.
Worked out with Cavanaugh, Kovacs, and Baker
When he wasn't risking arrest for trespassing, he worked out with fellow walk-ons Jordan Kovacs, Matt Cavanaugh and Zac Baker in the hopes of making a better showing this year.
Some more nice fluff on RR
Rodriguez could've easily just kept Cone in the game or had Jack take a knee. But he chose to put Jack in and called the quarterback keeper for him.
Anyway, I just wanted to share, so you could all appreciate the sacrifice this kid (these kids, really, a lot of walk-ons face similar obstacles) went through and the selflessness he's shown.
Okay, I just want to break this down. I haven't tried my hand at analysis much, but I wanted to take on this recent confusion over why we're looking at so many Corners and Safeties. Please take this only as an attempt at reasoning through it. If you disagree, that's fine - I gave it the old college try.
Here we go.
We all know, there are a few highly rated DBs visiting over the next couple weeks. This year, with the offers we have out, there could be as many as seven DB prospects we get commitments from.
Here's our current roster (scholarship only):
CB: Troy Woolfolk, JT Floyd, Cullen Christian, Courtney Avery, Terrence Talbott
S (Jeremy Gallon is listed here, but yeah right): Josh Furman, Ray Vinopal, Cam Gordon, Thomas Gordon, Brandin Hawthorne, Carvin Johnson, Marvin Robinson, Jordan Kovacs
That means we're 4-deep at Safeties, but only 2 1/2-deep at corner. We are still going after DBs hard in this class, so that leads me to a few conclusions:
1) We need some Corners.
With Woolfolk having just his senior year left, and Floyd looking unimpressive (to be fair, the whole defense was unimpressive, but still...), we definitely need a few corners.
2) Cam Gordon will be switched back to Wide Receiver.
This is not data. This is intuition. We are recruiting a lot of, say it with me, Defensive Backs. We are not recruiting very many, one more time with feeling..., Wide Outs.
Our WRs are: Hemingway, Stonum, Roundtree, Odoms, Jackson, Miller, Stokes, etc. BUT...Miller (6'4'') and Jackson (6'3'') are very young, and the rest of the depth chart has Stonum as the tallest receiver at 6'2'' with a bunch of little slot guys. Cam is perfect for a West Coast style of offense. Stolen from Football 101 at calsci.com:
The ideal size of a receiver [in the West Coast Offense] should be at least 6'3'' and weigh about 210 pounds.
Anyone want to take a look at Cam Gordon's height and weight? Of course, build isn't everything, but he was a receiver when he was first recruited, so it's not really out of the question.
3) Two of these commits are taking the place of Vlad Emilien and Justin Turner.
We lost 2 Defensive backs in the last year, so even if we end up signing 7 DBs, it's kind of a net 5 due to replacing those two.
4) We might not NEED all seven.
The question is, since we have a real shot with McClure, Raven AND Taylor, who is the odd man out? My guess would be Delonte Hollowell. It's great that he's Blue, but even if he stays with us, he's probably relegated to backup duty for his time here, barring a miracle.
5) There will be a bunch of redshirts.
For obvious reasons, but I don't know who, because I don't actually know which would be better - to redshirt the not-quite-as-good to see if we can coach them up? or to redshirt the possible stars to give them more time in maize and blue?
6) A safety will move to LB
We have 7 LBs right now (before this recruiting class), and we could probably use more. There are a couple of players listed at Safety that could definitely be LBs - Furman and Robinson, specifically.
Conclusion: Do I think we'll end up with 7 DBs in the class? No. That's a lot of Defensive Backs, but it looks like there's room, somehow. If we get Raven and McClure, we definitely have to hang onto them, though. If a couple guys redshirt, and the ones who are ready to contribute stay on the roster, we'll end up with a pretty excellent secondary for quite a few years. Now if we only had a DB coach...
We might as well get this post up today since the list is growing by the minute it seems. If anyone had concerns about the new coaching staff and their recruiting ability, they're probably not asking anymore. Brady Hoke seems like he's in 10 different places at once, and the buzz they've started to create in a short amount of time has been outstanding. Here's a look at the visitors list so far for this weekend. Remember this list will continue to grow, and could shrink so check back.
- Commit RB Justice Hayes (4 Star, 5'10", 175 lbs)- Justice being on campus this weekend will help with recruiting. He's been talking up Michigan to quite a few recruits now.
- DB Stefan McClure (4 Star, 5'11", 170 lbs)- Defensive back out of California. Has a good relationship with Hoke from being at SDSU. I think Michigan has a real shot with Stefan.
- DB Raymon Taylor (4 Star, 5'10", 165 lbs)- Raymon might decide to wait a little bit to commit, but I think it's safe to say he'll most likely pick Michigan.
- K Matt Wile - (6'2", 210 lbs)Here's my interview yesterday with Matt's coach. I wouldn't be surprised if Wile was a Wolverine by Tuesday.
- TE/LB Frank Clark (3 Star, 6'2", 210 lbs)- Glenville prospect that I think Michigan has a good chance with.
- OL Tony Posada (3 Star, 6'5", 315 lbs)- The coaches were out to Florida this week to see Tony, and I think this visit will be his last. He should be firm to Michigan again.
- LB Leilon Willingham (4 Star, 6'3", 230 lbs)- I spoke to Leilon's coach today, and it looks like this visit is happening. Willingham is committed to Texas A&M and was supposed to visit the Aggies this weekend. If he cancelled that trip to visit Michigan then that's a pretty strong statement.
- DB Tamani Carter (3 Star, 5'11", 172 lbs) - Michigan's newest commit is visiting.
In the aftermath of Dan Ferrigno's hiring, a lot has been made about Michigan finally getting a new special teams coach. This should help shed some light on the past performance of Coach Ferrigno.
Caveats- The data is incomplete. NCAA archives only go back to the 1999 season, where Ferrigno was in his fourth season as special teams coach at Cal. He spent 1996-1999 as special teams coach at Cal, moved on for the same job at USC for the 2000 season, and then did not go back to coaching special teams until 2009 at San DIego State under Coach Hoke.
Just a memory jolt, because the overall strength of the team obviously has a huge impact on their special teams play.
1999- Cal 4-7 (3-5) Unranked. Later forefitted victories due to ineligible players.
2000 USC 5-7 (1-7) Unranked.
2009 SDSU 4-8 (2-6) Unranked.
2010 SDSU 9-4 (5-3) Unranked.
|Team||Net Punting||Punt Return||Kickoff Return|
|1999 Cal||9 (39.7)||30 (11.0)||12 (23.7)|
|2000 USC||110 (36.21)||63 (9.19)||62 (19.49)|
|2009 SDSU||18 (38.05)||92 (6.31)||97 (20.10)|
|2010 SDSU||49 (36.93)||93 (6.04)||107 (19.34)|
Let's take a look at Michigan under Coach Rodriguez:
|Year||Net Punting||Punt Return||Kickoff Return|
|2008||5 (39.34)||64 (8.62)||56 (21.44)|
|2009||3 (40.93)||62 (8.67)||23 (23.80)|
|2010||69 (36.07)||67 (7.43)||68 (21.44)|
One thing to remember is that special teams rankings are very fickle. .2 yards can decide the difference between the 20th ranked team and the 60th. Anyway, I hope this adds something to our regime change analysis.
Michigan (under RR):
So Brian referred to our new Special teams/tight ends coaching position as esoteric. I don't know about tight ends but I am extremely happy we have special teams coach right now.
Rodriguez was accused of ignoring the defense to devote more attention to the offense. If that is true I believe it is doubly so for the special teams. I don't know what else he could have done given the limitations of the athletes he had at his disposal, but having a dedicated coach seems like a reasonable place to start.
Now let's look at some statistics (all courtesy of ESPN)
We had the 8th most yards per game on offense. Pretty good especially considering some of our tough competition. But the complaint from most people is that we didn't score enough points. We tied for 24th most points per game. Why?
Well, a large part of that has to do with field goals. To start, we were dead last in both field goals made and field goal percentage. We were 4/14 and that was without attempting a single kick beyond 50 yards. Because of our inability to kick, we passed on what should have been a guaranteed 3 points in several situations, once or twice a game, to go for it on fourth down. We succeeded a few times but failed to score on most of those attempts.
So, we never kicked a long field goal, should have made most of the ones we took and skipped out on attempting easy ones a little more than once a game. I estimate we could have scored 6 more points per game. That puts us at 38.6 ppg and 11th overall in scoring. That looks much better and explains a big portion of the discrepancy between points and yards.
Punting was also not great, finishing 87th in average yards per punt. I couldn't find statistics on kickoffs (like touchbacks) but ancecdotally we sucked. We were middle of the pack in return yards per kickoff (67th) and return yards per punt (also 67th, weird). We had a punt blocked and didn't manage to return a single kick for a touchdown.
So in summary, if having a dedicated special teams coach makes a difference, improvement in special teams performance is another reason to be optimistic about 2011 and beyond. It is also an indication that Brady Hoke gets it and is addressing the needs of the football team. I am cautiously optimistic.