alternate headline: man does job
While basketball may be more than two months away, and football has barely gotten its feet wet, I thought that given the massive amounts of anticipation that will inevitably build over the course of Notre Dame week, a little hype video fun might help assuage some of that anticipatory build. It may not be football-related, but hopefully it’s entertaining and gives people something to watch this week.
The past few months I’ve watched numerous Michigan Football hype videos on YouTube, some better than others but all equally demonstrating passion and excitement about Michigan Football. I’ve even learned a few things myself, including a few very creative video ideas, impressive editing techniques and most importantly the significance of song choice (as evidenced by a mild disdain for 30 Seconds to Mars, which is cool, no worries, I get it). But, what I didn’t see was anything hype-video related for the basketball team. I found this simultaneously moderately unfair and completely understandable. Nevertheless … an idea began to form and I got to work.
The result is below for your enjoyment (per usual, it's in HD if you switch to 720/1080 within the embed):
Now, a few words if you’ll indulge me.
Basketball will always hold a special place in my competitive center. I gushed over the Fab Five when I was in middle school, and I was lucky enough to play ball in high school just down the street from Crisler at Ann Arbor Pioneer HS. I know and love Michigan basketball as much as any fan I know, save for a certain friend of mine who lives in Cali and could literally be the Maize Rage all by himself.
I say that only to hopefully bolster the following.
I realize that the inclusion of the Fab Five clips may not sit well with some people, particularly any clips of Webber. I can see someone looking at the video and saying things like “That’s not what those kids should strive to be on the court” or “That’s not who they should aspire to be.” I can understand those sentiments, but that’s not the reason why I mashed the clips up. I don’t want this team, or any other Michigan Basketball team to be like the Fab Five, for both the good and the bad tied to that team.
I was as crestfallen as anyone when the bottom dropped out of the men’s basketball program and our name got thrown around in the muddy gutters where vacated seasons go to wither and rot. I didn’t mash-up the clips to tell Tim Hardaway Jr. that he needs to be more like Jalen Rose, or Morgan like Webber, or Burke like King (though if Vogrich turned into Pelinka, or McLimans morphed into Voskuil, I’d grin stupidly). I mashed-up the clips because that was the last time Michigan Basketball was great.
Not good. Not tournament-worthy. But great.
I mashed-up the clips to show that Michigan Basketball has the capability to be great … right now.
For the first time in forever I feel like Michigan Basketball is finally grazing its fingers up against what it feels like to be a truly dominant program again. From the returning players to the freshmen, from the coaching staff to the recruits landing on campus in a few years, top to bottom and back again, this group of kids finally looks like they’re ready to put their own indelible stamp on Michigan Basketball.
I haven’t felt like that in awhile.
The last time I did I was 10 and Webber was catching alley-oops from Jalen and Jimmy, Juwan was hitting mid-range jumpers and Ray was chomping at the bit on the bench waiting for his turn to start.
So, I didn’t mash-up the clips to tell this year’s team that they need to be more like the Fab Five.
I mashed-up the clips to remind everyone that this year’s team can do everything that the Fab Five did on the court. They can hit the same threes, throw the same alley-oops, wear that same passion and fire on their sleeves and play within a successful system as a team just like the Fab Five did.
They can be great. Just like the Fab Five were once upon a season ago. They may not reach it this year, but they’re building the foundation and laying the groundwork. It’s going to be something else to watch.
Thanks for the indulgence. I don’t usually prater on in these diary entries, as they are first and foremost to serve as a viewing vehicle for the video, but I felt the extra explanation necessary given the sensitivity of the material and the potential for misinterpretation.
Per usual, many thanks are necessary and a few questions will attempt to be pre-emptively answered:
- As always, my efforts are not possible without the efforts of others, particularly the folks over at UMHoops.com. Footage was used from a great many sources, including Dylan, who took the time to film considerable amount of practice last year, while Coach David Merritt put together some very nice All Access behind the scenes footage of Zack and THJ. However, the greatest amount of props and thanks has to go to Josh Houchin, who produces the excellent “end of season” highlight videos for the entire team, as well as Darius, THJ, Zack, Stu and Jordan individually. Those videos can be found HERE for your own perusal, while the full-season video can be found HERE. His editing is outstanding, and I definitely recommend viewing them if you haven’t already. I will certainly be taking some of his techniques into account for my own future videos. Lastly, thanks to MgoVideo/Pahokee for uploading the basketball highlights from last year.
- Music: “Lux Aeterna” by Clint Mansell (Full Orchestra version) via “Requiem for a Dream”. I considered Public Enemy’s “He Got Game” and Eminem’s “No Love” as hip hop/rap alternatives to the classical piece, but in the end Lux won the day. I’ve always wanted to see this piece of music in a video like this and I figured I might as well be the one to give it a shot. Hopefully it's tolerable to the internet masses, as it's an excellent piece of music. FYI, ignore the "music tag" on YouTube, as that song is in no way by Ray Ventura.
- Length: Yeah, it’s on the long side. But there’s no good place to splice down the music, and dammit if I’m not going to give everyone their attention span’s worth for a hype video. Hopefully the build to the fanatic finish is enough to assuage any tired eyes.
- Voiceovers: They are from an NBA Amazing video where players like Wade, Kobe and KG talk about their love of basketball. I needed something to cover the lulls and those fit perfectly with the clips. Unfortunately the YouTube video has been taken down because the TV station it was broadcast on filed a request about the images, but the audio is still good to use thankfully.
- Opening Commercial: That’s from Michael Jordan’s “Become Legendary” line of advertisements. You can watch the original version HERE.
- Basketball Speeches: The first speech after the commercial is of course, from Hoosiers. If you didn’t know that, I can’t help you. The others later in the video are from “Coach Carter” and “Glory Road” respectively.
- My Favorite Part? The Sparty crushing segment, easily, building to the NCAA highlights.
This is just my version of a basketball hype video, complete with all the trimmings that I think should be in something like this (storyline + coaches + practice + highlights + theme + music + etc.), instead of the more straightforward versions (highlights + MUSIC + rawr).
Hopefully this gets the ball rolling on a few more basketball videos, as I’d love to see other people’s takes on this kind of effort, which is a little bit different from the football versions in the sense that the highlights are a little more generically compact and repetitively similar, and thus requires some alternative editing concepts. I’d love to start seeing this become a regular occurrence for the basketball team.
That’s all I got. Thanks for the feedback/comments. Always appreciated.
First off, I think Maryland clearly won week one. I tried to post a picture of the stadium before the game, but here are the uniforms just in case anyone missed the game on Monday:
Yeesh. The arm sleeve thing looked like they had an infection or something.
This week, in honor of Iowa/Iowa State and their Hummel-based pewter trophy disaster, I will be naming new hypothetical trophies for the best games of the week. But here's a reminder of where we started:
There's only one game on Thursday, Oklahoma State versus Arizona. Fortunately, they can play for the "Dust Bowl" trophy, which would be a normal cup-style trophy full of dirt. And not good, black, growing-stuff dirt. Just dry, pale, desert dusty-type dirt.
Friday has no games worth mentioning, so I'm going to double-up on Saturday.
First we get the "Jesus Versus Air Superiority" trophy as TCU plays Air Force. It's hard to cheer against The Jesus, but the Air Force does have some great (and really, really expensive) toys. This can also be a travelling trophy between TCU, BYU, Air Force and Navy.
We also get the first apperance of the "Tumbleweed Travelling Trophy" as Colorado State plays Northern Colorado. These two schools are only 22 miles apart, which is also known as "Right Next Door" out in the wide-open spaces. I'm in Denver, and no one here cares about this game. The travelling trophy will be used to determine best-in-class between CSU, Wyoming and New Mexico.
[Ed: bump in case anyone doesn't know to read these yet.]
So, we're almost 3 quarters into the Brady Hoke era, and what have we learned? Not a hell of a whole of a lot. Western was a cupcake, and we provided the vanilla frosting, the vanilla defense, and the vanilla offense. There's plenty to criticize and the few good things all come with cupcake's caveats. Next week will be the real barometer of our progress .
Somewhere in the back of my self-important mind, I worry that breaking down our offensive and defensive systems might give a very tiny advantage to our opponents. So this year I'm going to do less system stuff and focus on individual plays and players when it comes to our team. I'll save system analysis for scouting reports of other teams.
But first, I just have to say:
You sir, have an awesome mustache.
Let's start with the bad:
Their first drive was cause for concern. Just getting aligned was a problem on many plays.
I'm pretty sure this isn't how you're supposed to defend a 3rd and 1.
And on this next play, the confusion is so thick, you can cut it with a knife. You could roll it into a batter and make... hmmmm... I'm hungry...
Despite being in a shotgun look, this is clearly a run formation. What's the giveaway?
How about the covered slot "receiver" making this an unbalanced line. We've got 3 guys defending air, and the DB's are so far back, they're practically giftwrapping a 10 yard run.
The QB meshes with the fullback to give an option look, and he wisely hands it off since our linebacker is way out of position.
The ball carrier cuts back to the GAPING HOLE. Meanwhile, our contain guy is so concerned with both the QB and pitchman, neither of whom have the ball, that he can't make a play on the FB.
But I'm encouraged by the fact that we got it figured out before the drive was even over.
Here we are against the same exact formation and play a few downs later. That's a quick adjustment, or maybe it's just that nobody f'd up this time. Notice that the DB's are in a position to support against the run and we clog up the middle to stop the FB for practically no gain.
Carvin Johnson was misaligned on the next play, but Avery did a good job to make a solid tackle and delay the TD. But as a whole, the defense looked like most of them have had 3 or 4 different coordinators in the last 4 years.
I'm also concerned about the size of our front seven, and when we go against the likes of MSU, Neb, OSU, and god willing - Wiscy, well.... let's just hope things get better.
[Ed.: more after the jump.]
For reference, I have modified this post to serve as a link for future CPR diaries.
How the rankings are factored:
1. Each week, I come up with a W/L record for each conference. This becomes a baseline stat in two ways, as a Win% and a Loss%.
2. If a team wins a game, they receive points equal to the opposing conferences' win percentage.
3. If a team loses a game, they receive negative points equal to the opposing conferences' loss percentage.
4. I add up all the games. Each conference receives points based on what each team did during a given week. I then divide by the number of out of conference games that a conference played.
5. Once the points are tallied, I divide each conferences' points by the highest conferences' point total, so that the highest conference receives a score of 1.00.
Michigan beat WMU this week. The MAC had a win percentage of 0.615, so Michigan gained 0.615 points for the Big Ten. The Big Ten had a LOSS percentage of 0.167. This means that the MAC received -0.167 points for losing to Michigan. Had they lost to a lesser conference, the loss percentage of that conference would have been higher, so the point hit would have been more substantial.
FCS wins are not counted towards a conferences' points. FCS losses, however, are counted, and are very damaging. The FCS loss percentage is 0.947, which would be about as negative as losing to the Big Ten five times.
There are a few flaws in this system. One, individual teams are not accounted for. USC beating Minnesota means as much as if they beat Ohio State. This ends up balancing out, for the most part, as a larger sample size typically evens out the playing field. Two, margin of victory is not factored. While Auburn barely escaped, it counts as if they won by 4 touchdowns. I may address this in the future, but for now, it is way too much effort.
Conference Power Rankings
The Big East benefits from having an 8-0 record and wins over 'powerhouse' conferences such as the ACC, Conference USA, MAC, and an oh-so-sweet rain delayed win over The Return to Glory's. Look for the Big East to remain overrated next week, as they play Tennessee, North Carolina, and not much else.
CUSA sports a 5-6 record along with an above average power ranking. Three of their six losses did not count this week, as they were to the unbeaten Big 12. CUSA will most likely find themselves below sea level once next weeks rankings are posted.
Unfortunately, ESPN's constant drone about SEC level talent is more accurate than it is false. Over the past two years, the SEC has dominated the power rankings. This week, they were hampered by Georgia and Ole Miss losing to Boise State and BYU respectively. Expect the SEC to make a jump next week.
The Pac 12 is reeling after an 8-4 start which saw Oregon State become one of only two FBS teams to lose to an FCS school. Lane Kiffin did his best Brian Kelly impression after sqeaking past the Golden Gophers. The win exposed USC as a vunerable team, however the Pac 12 is much stronger than their -0.410 power ranking indicates.
I decided to re-watch the defense's performance in slow motion and then post my observations. This is not meant as a replacement for Brian's UFR. You’ll notice a lack of statistics. The information below is just what stood out to me.
Three disclaimers: First, I am not a football coach. Second, I may have confused Nathan Brink and Brennen Beyer on a few plays. Both are tall, skinny white guys whose numbers end in 7. The TV I watched the game on is not that big. Third, everything below is written in the present tense. The observations are only meant to apply to the play or drive that is being discussed (unless otherwise noted).
I’ve put general observations at the end if you want to skip ahead.
· Mike Martin (“MM”) nearly sacks Carder on the first play despite the fact that it’s a bubble screen.
· MM and Ryan Van Bergen (“RVB”) get a good push throughout the drive and game.
· Brennen Beyer (“BB”) plays. He seems quick but too thin.
· Jibreel Black (“Black”) rushes from a standing position on at least one play.
· There is mass confusion before several plays for the DL and, to a lesser degree, the LBs.
· The LBs are not particularly quick to react to bubble screens.
· Nathan Brink (“NB”) plays and is unremarkable.
· The DBs are better coordinated than the front seven but still seem confused before some plays.
· Coverages seem well conceived. Michigan just lacks play-makers at DB.
· Michigan uses a three-man line on some plays. They are gashed on a draw in which no LBs line up over the center or guards.
· The team swarms to the ball.
· Will Heininger (“WH”) plays some NT. He’s not bad.
· Jake Ryan (“JR”) makes a creative spin move to get to an RB that Demens has by the ankle on one play.
· Brandon Herron (“BH”) generally looks a little lost before and during plays.
· RVB does a good job of dropping into coverage on one play.
· Blitzers come free on a play near the goal line, but it is for naught as a blown coverage by Carvin Johnson (“CJ”) allows for a completion.
· WH is the extra DT on goal line, not Will Campbell (“WC”).
· There were blitzes by the LBs and Thomas Gordon (“TG”) throughout the drive.
· Carder was very quick to make accurate passes to his receivers throughout the drive.
· The DEs tend to crash down on WMU’s RBs on what look like read plays.
· WMU runs quick-hitting play after quick-hitting play.
· Beyer seems to get himself out of position on a big run.
· BH seems to only duplicate what Kenny Demens (“KD”) does.
· TG personally blows up a WR screen.
· A delayed blitz by KD results in an incompletion in the end zone. JT Floyd (“JT”) has good coverage (possible interference), but a better receiver would have caught the ball.
· A blitz forces a quick third down throw for a minimal gain.
· The field temp is 120 degrees.
· WC appears at NT. He wins the initial burst of contact on his first play but then is pushed back for three yards (apparently due to poor leverage).
· JB Fitzgerald (“JB”) enters the game.
· WC is overcome by a double team on one play and is pushed back. He is too high to hold his ground (only in the most literal sense of the term, I assume).
· There is mass confusion among the DBs on third-and-inches play.
· The DL recognizes a RB screen pretty quickly. The LBs do not, and it results in a good gain for WMU.
· Jordan Kovacs (“JK”) blitzes from deep on 2nd and 3. The play is a draw that the LBs are slow to recognize. The play is blown dead.
· KD blitzes several times during the drive.
· The DLs run twists (“stunts”?) several times during the drive.
· NB cannot hold the point of attack on a draw.
· Black is more noticeable than Roh, but he overruns plays at times.
· WH and BB get a good push on a draw.
· JB and BH don’t seem to know where to be before some plays and during some plays.
· Courtney Avery (“CA”) blitzed on a play that ABC only partially caught on camera.
· JR lines up between a guard and and tackle, gets between them quickly, and bats the pass that BH returns.
· WH is stout on a run play while lining up at NT.
· WH holds the middle and bats down a pass.
· Only two DLs line up in three-point stances on a 3rd and 10 (WMU has four wideouts in the game). Van Slyke is in the game at safety on this play.
· Black times the snap count perfectly and helps force an incompletion with his pressure.
· The kicking game is killing Michigan’s defense.
· There are only 3 DLs on the first play but five men rush. This pattern is repeated later.
· Michigan rushes only three (all DLs) on one play, and the pressure is not bad. Carder threads the needle for a completion, though.
· A missed tackle by CJ allows for a big gain.
· The D blitzes in a cover zero scheme. They almost get Carder, who throws an incompletion into the end zone. CA has good coverage on the play, but a better WR would have made the catch.
· KD blitzes and almost gets Carder on the next play. Carder throws an incompletion to a WR who is blanketed by TG.
· Mattison sends seven men on the next play. Carder throws the ball out of the back of the end zone.
· WMU kicks a field goal, and the half ends not long after.
· BB starts the half at SLB.
· The SLB often lines up in a three-point stance throughout the rest of the half, essentially as the fourth DL.
· JT makes a nice play to stop a bubble screen for minimal gain.
· Carder threads the needle again for a completion when BH and CJ were in pretty good coverage.
· WC drops into zone coverage on a play that is blown dead.
· Only two DLs line up in a three-point stance on a 2nd and 12 play.
· A KD blitz on the 2nd and 12 play forces Carder to run. RVB and MM nearly take his head off. Carder protests this treatment, but MM is unmoved.
· Carder yet again completes a throw into good coverage with CA on his man.
· A DL of Black, WH, NB, and Roh is used.
· JK blitzes from deep in a sign of things to come on 1st and 15.
· WH drops into coverage on the JK forced-fumble/BH touchdown play.
· The D has to play two consecutive series for the second time.
· WC comes in, as does BB (as he does for much of the 2nd half).
· WMU runs a WR sweep on the first play. All OLs but RVB’s make it to the second level to block LBs and DBs. The play goes for 10. WC chases the WR all the way through the play and appears to be gassed afterward.
· JR comes in for second play. He nicely diagnoses of a misdirection play that is blown dead.
· JK sacks Carder. MM may have got to Carder if JK didn’t.
· Mike Jones appears and makes a tackle on a screen.
· MM drops into coverage on 3rd down when JK tips the pass.
· WC is in. He pushes his man back about a yard on a pass play. JR hits Carder in the face on the same play. Incompletion.
· WMU’s TE seems to think that Roh cannot move before the snap. He is wrong and is penalized.
· Beyer’s inability on 2nd and 15 to take on a FB allows for a four yard gain.
· BH lines up in a two-point stance between the center and guard on 3rd and 11 and gets a good push to the QB. The pocket rolls away from a blitzing JK on the play, and Carder makes another completion.
· JB is in for KD.
· Marvin Robinson gets a good hit when given the chance on a long WMU gain.
· WMU runs out of the I for a 15 yard gain. NB, JB, and BH are all cleared out of the way by WMU’s line.
· The DL is not lined up properly on the QB-center fumble play.
· WMU never gets the ball back.
On WMU: I think, fwiw, that Carder will be in the top 25% of passers that Michigan plays all year. Bill Cubit’s offense spreads you out and hits you quickly, making it hard to get sacks. Carder is an excellent decision-maker and he is very accurate…Carder needs to tighten his chin strap. He is going to get a broken jaw and/or severe concussion before this season is over if he does not.
On the DL: RVB and Martin were easily Michigan’s best (you’re shocked, I’m sure). I noticed Black much more than Roh. Heininger was strong at the point of attack. It would be hard to argue that he was not one of Michigan’s best four linemen. Brink was unimpressive. Campbell was neither good nor terrible. I did not see Ash or Quinton Washington.
On the LBs: There is Kenny Demens and then everyone else when it comes to MLB and WLB. An effort to clone him should be made immediately. I did not see Hawthorne or Morgan. Mike Jones only played a little. Herron had a wildly inconsistent day. He often looked lost when he wasn’t snatching loose balls and running them into the endzone.
Michigan appears to have depth at SLB, especially given that Cam Gordon was hurt. Ryan is a guy who just seems to do good things. Beyer was neither good nor bad, which is fairly impressive for a true freshman in his first game.
Michigan’s LBs were the least impressive defensive unit to me. Herron’s touchdowns masked some pretty weak play from the non-Demenses.
On the DBs: They looked like they knew what they were doing more than any other unit. No one could blanket a receiver on Saturday, but they were in the right places at the right times generally. Thomas Gordon did some nice things. Kovacs’ day doesn’t need to be described.
On blitzing: I think that Michigan blitzed more effectively as the game wore on but not necessarily more often, or at least not by much.
On tackling: It was good! Carvin Johnson (sorry to pick on you, old bean) had the only missed tackle that stood out to me all game.
Here is the offense, I will probably do defense sometime tomorrow. Wrote the majority of this friday night, so it was kind of funny to see how some of the stuff manifested on the field saturday. Post USF game reflections on some of the more, how you would say "memorable" moments are at the end.
QB: Jr Dayne Crist (LY 174 of 294 15 TD, 7 INT), So Tommy Rees (LY 100 of 164 12 TD, 8 INT) So Andrew Hendrix, Fr Everett Golson
Crist went down for the year during the Tulsa game last season with his 2nd knee injury since coming to ND. After rehab and spring ball was announced the starter about 2 weeks ago, expected to be the starter as long as he is healthy (err uh the first half of game 1….., well actual announcement will be made Monday but just look at the drive chart: http://espn.go.com/ncf/drivechart?gameId=312460087). Has been very business like when it comes to practice and camp this year, had done a lot to win back his position. The problem with Crist as a starter is that he isn’t the steadiest guy on the field, letting a play go, getting the offense refocused it just doesn’t always happen. Rees came in as a true freshman in 2010 and finished with a 4-0 record, though ND is 0-3 when he has had to come in to replace Dayne. Strong depth at QB this year, Golson is the guy of the future but it isn’t clear where he and Hendrix shake out at this point. Either one could see a special package this season which is more in line with their running ability.
RB: So Cierre Wood (LY 119 for 603yds, 3TD), Sr Jonas Gray (LY 20 for 100yds, 0TD), Fr Cam McDaniel, Fr George Atkinson
Wood grew through the year along with ND’s run game, the staff is expecting him to be a workhorse but this isn’t a position of great depth. Gray didn’t see much time last year because he wouldn’t play the role the staff asked of him, ie he wasn’t playing the power back his body is equipped for. If he were reliable it would add much needed depth to a position lacking a lot of it, the early returns aren’t very good for his future. The running game was emphasized much more this year through the spring and summer camp.
WR (X): Sr. Michael Floyd (LY 79 for 1025yds, 12TD), Jr John Goodman (LY 15 for 146, 0TD)
Floyd’s off field stupidity has been discussed pretty thoroughly and what he can do on the field is nothing new either. Goodman is not Floyd, he has similar size but saw the majority of his play on special teams as a sure-handed punt returner. Not so much the return part though, I believe his average return was in the 1-2 foot range, he was reliable though. I am sure his touches will go up this year, the staff is relying on him to be a solid contributor.
WR (Y): So. TJ Jones (LY 23 for 352yds, 3TD), Fr DaVaris Daniels
Jones did pretty well as a freshman last year, he wasn’t targeted nearly as much as Floyd or whichever TE was in at the time. Daniels is a bit of an unknown, supposed to be fast but every kid in the preseason is fast, it does mean something to see him in the 2 deep to start the season though.
WR(Z): Jr. Theo Riddick (LY 40 for 414, 3 TD), Jr. Roby Toma (LY 14 for 187, 0TD)
Riddick the converted RB (sound familiar) was still learning the WR position last season, expected to be the #2 WR behind Floyd. Toma hasn’t seen many snaps, mostly last year as the backup to the slot. Not a ton of top end speed but he is quick enough to get open underneath.
TE So. Tyler Eifert (LY 27 for 352, 2 TD) Sr. Mike Ragone (LY 3 for 32, 0TD)
Eifert was a bit of revelation once Rudolph was knocked out for the year in week 6. The way he played to end the season, he is expected to be a big part of the offense going forward. Ragone has battled multiple injuries through his career, he saw most of his time in protection when on the field last year.
LT Jr. Zach Martin, Fr. Nick Martin
Zach earned his spot last year and has held onto it since then. His backup is actually his brother. I am not yet sold that Nick would be Zach’s first backup as every lineman has cross trained at other positions.
LG So. Chris Watt, Sr. Andrew Nuss
This was the only battle on the Oline coming into summer camp. It is likely there will be a rotation to some degree at the position. One has been talked about as more of a run blocker while the other a pass blocker
C Jr. Braxston Cave, Jr. Mike Golic
Cave held this position all of last year to my knowledge, not much new to really tell. Oh the first Golic sighting. Not a lot has been said about Cave or Golic, it a position of good depth and not really a concern.
RG Sr. Trevor Robinson, Fr. Conor Hanratty
Another returning starter from last season Robinson is a 5th year senior and one of the leaders on the Oline. The offense will not shy away from running in his direction. Hanratty is another freshman Olineman. This one has received quite a bit of praise through camp while putting a lot of time in the weight room from high school.
RT Sr. Taylor Dever, So. Christian Lombard
Dever did well last season, another returning 5th year. He has seen a lot of coaches but really helped the run game develop at the end of the year. Lombard, his backup saw sometime as a freshman last year, he is the heir apparent at the position going forward
The oline needs to show they can be a cohesive unit as they were at the end of the year last year if the running and passing games are going to be effective this year. It all starts on the Oline and with 4 returning starters it should be decent at least. ND has one of the best receiving corps in the country on paper, the WRs themselves along with the TE and RB out of the backfield are all capable receivers. The QBs need to trust their WRs enough to put a few of them out there for them to go and get, but at the same time they need to take care of the ball. Crist has gone through camp this year with actual competition, he sounds to have learned a great deal as well, so we’ll have to see what happens. The running game right now is going to come down to depth, both freshman are likely to play at some point but how much will come down to Gray. If he can be dependable in his role it will take a ton of pressure off the freshman and the offense itself.
USF Game Reflections (NOTE: I did miss the rest of the game past the 2nd weather delay):
Crist threw a horrible pick in the end zone, it was late it was to a covered guy, plus he had floyd, of all people!, open underneath that would have gotten a first down if not a TD. He was supposed to be past this, but his timing is still late, and was really one of the first pieces of the team to crumble. Playing at home, he was playing scared, it really doesn’t get much worse than that.
Gray, opening drive, 3 yards from the goal line, this is what we have a big back for, hand him the ball he fumbles on the 1 its returned for 6. He had 2 more touches during the game. (which surprised me a bit to see him get in at all, probably a reflection on the freshman to be honest)
TJ Jones, 2 drops and one deflection off his head (in the red zone of course) which resulted in the 4th TO. I am not a position coach but I would expect my WR to be ready to receive a ball when on a crossing route just beyond the line of scrimmage. The best part was after he felt himself get hit by the ball, he turned around like who ran into me? Like he was looking for a flag or something.
Riddick, oh man. Well his biggest impact was on the muffed punt, that should be TO #3 I believe, that USF recovered, Mayock was great “he just handed the ball to him” man he is good at this. I was in full ROFL mode at this point. After that he had 2 more muffed-ish punts where he basically would just fall directly onto the ball after catching it. Paging John Goodman, John Goodman into the starting lineup please? Thanks. After that he had a least a couple drops, 1 in particular was just memory inducing. After missing his whole “receiving” role in the offense on this play, he stood up looking to blame the drop on someone, he was wiiiiiiiiide open, ball hit him on both arms it was perfect. Another mayock moment, “not sure who he thinks he can blame that one on but himself”.
Eifert, had a couple drops, 1 was behind him but still the QB is hitting him in the hands with the ball unless he has a broken hand there isn’t an excuse that works.
Wood and Floyd were the only dependable skill positions during the game. Oline did what they needed to. The QB doesn’t need to be a world-beater for the offense to have success but he cannot be the weakest link on the field, in the first half it was absolutely true. Crist had soooooo much confidence in the preseason; everyone wants to know where that was coming from at this point.