This was a big weekend for visitors, and although Michigan lost no one was disappointed with their trip. Michigan hosted three prospects on official visits, Kellen Jones (commit), Marquise Williams, and Devondrick Nealy. Here are reactions from Jones and Nealy followed by updates on a few defensive(!) prospects.
5'10", 175 lbs.
Slot Receiver/Running Back
Jefferson County, Florida
This was Devondrick's first official visit of the season. He's headed off to Minnesota next, believe it or not. He was excited before hand to make it up to Ann Arbor, and the visit seemed to exceed his expectations.
The visit was tremendous. I didn't commit, but it was close though. After this visit Michigan is my top school, for sure. Everything they have to offer outside of the football program was incredible. They broke down the academics part and it was great. I could really see myself at Michigan. The excitement came from the football program, but I was also excited about everything outside of football they have there.
So good luck Minnesota. Nealy now has Michigan at the top of his list followed by (in no order) Minnesota, Arkansas, and Auburn. He will take all five of his official visits and make his decision once they're done. Anything can happen, but it's good to get the early lead. I was also told by someone recently that Nealy had befriended now Michigan commit Demetrius Hart at a camp in Florida. Nealy apparently likes Demetrius, and likes the idea of being a tandem on offense with him as well.
6'2", 215 lbs.
St. Pius X, Texas
Current Michigan commit Kellen Jones came up for an official visit by himself to see more of the social side of the program. He was able to take that in and get to know some of the players a little better.
The visit was fantastic, despite the fact that Michigan lost of course. We hung out with Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner. It was cool to do that, I really like those guys. Denard said he hates losing, and if we wouldn't have been there he would just be by himself in his room. They were just telling me that you can't come up here and mess around, it's all in for football and academics, and I loved that.
Kellen loves Michigan, and despite living in Texas understands the rivalries and everything about the program. This visit gave him more of a personal sense to it, and allowed him to build friendships with current players. He also got a better view of where he fits into the defense next year.
Coach Robinson was saying that they see me as a Jonas Mouton type of player. Playing sideline to sideline, maybe a little inside, and a little outside too. I got a good chance to be with the coaches which was great. Coach Barwis is always fun to be around.
Since Kellen is a current commit, and loves Michigan, he got a chance to interact with a few other recruits and get their perspective on things too.
I talked to Delonte Hollowell (commit), and he's just like me he loves Michigan. I was there with Marquise (Williams) too, and he said Coach Rodriguez has been recruiting him since he was a sophomore. He really liked the environment, I think he was having a great time. He and Devondrick both were amazed with Mike Barwis, too. They both had a really good time.
I think it was a bonus to have Kellen there on an official visit. He's a yes sir, no sir kind of kid and is always excited to talk about Michigan. It sounds like he did a little recruiting, and it may have worked.
6'0", 190 lbs.
Wayne Lyons is the number four safety in the country, and recently decided that Michigan is back in his top list with Stanford, UCLA, Florida, Tennessee, and Nebraska.
I started talking to the coaches from Michigan a lot more, and realized that they do have a true need for me. I talk to coach Dews most of the time. He tells me how it's a good place, and that I would really fit in.
Lyons has already been to Notre Dame and UCLA, he also has a visit already scheduled to Nebraska at the end of October. That leaves two spots left for an official visit, and he's still not sure if Michigan will get that visit.
I'm thinking about making that one of my official visits. They're not necessarily on the outside, they're making it in there. It's just because I've been talking to the other schools for awhile now and I've already seen the other campuses. They're coming on though.
It seems like it would be a good idea to visit Michigan if he has already seen the other campuses. Michigan is making up ground with him, and I have a good feeling about him taking a visit.
- S Karlos Williams - Karlos told coach Smith that he will be taking an official visit up to Michigan once his season is over. His situation is interesting because he's committed to FSU, where his brother plays. He always says "You never know" when I ask if there's a possibility he will decommit from the Seminoles. Some kids just tell me that they're committed and he just want to take a look. "You never know" makes me wonder. Still, it will be hard to pry him away from FSU.
- LB Sean Duggan - Sean decided to take a visit up to Michigan this weekend, and it was his first college game experience. He said the atmosphere was crazy, and it definitely helped Michigan. He's down to Michigan, Boston College, Duke, and Virginia, and will be back up to Ann Arbor in December for his official visit. Boston College is the main competition.
- S Avery Walls - Recently took a trip to Oregon and was at Cal for an official visit this weekend. He leaves Monday night, and I have a phone call scheduled with him Tuesday. This was the last visit he will take, and he should be ready to announce his decision within the next few weeks, unless something has changed that. I still think Michigan is in good position, but the Oregon visit does give some cause for concern. He ended up missing the first half of the Oregon game, FWIW.
- Here's a list of prospects Michigan is still after in the Rival's Top 250 list.
- Iowa visitors - Full list will be posted soon. Some names of who's planning on making the trip, to tide you over: DB Dallas Crawford, WR Sammy Watkins, WR AJ Jordan, TE Drew Owens, and WR Hakeem Flowers. 2012 prospects: DE Chris Wormley, RB Will Mahone, QB Demetrious Davis, WR/DB Chris Davis.
It is our nature to assign narratives to games. Against UConn it was brutal offensive efficiency. Against Notre Dame it was the first appearance of clutch Denard. UMass and Indiana it was praying our offense would have the ball last and Bowling Green was relief that we finally took care of business.
For me, Michigan St was a game of 7 plays. There were seven big plays on Saturday, and all of them went Michigan St’s way. There was plenty that didn’t go right in between, but those seven plays, but the seven plays masked what in some ways was a better performance than it felt, and in some ways worse. Denard’s three interceptions, two in the end zone (-10 points). Edwin Baker 61 yards, +5. Le’Veon Bell 41 yards, +4. Cousins to Dell for 41 yards +4. Cousins to Dell again, 44 yards, +3. Those seven plays, a 26 point swing. Only two plays for the offense +3 or higher, no running plays worth more than 1.4 points. All of the big plays went Sparty’s way.
What we hoped was not true now appears to be so: this team will not win Big Ten games without exceptional offensive performances. We are who we are at this point.
Rush Off: +5
Pass Off: 0
Rush Def: –15
Pass Def: –10
Field Position: Michigan +4
Denard was +3 on the ground and a +1 through the air.
Shaw and Smith were both +0 and Hopkins was +1 on two strong carries.
Cousins was +13 combined.
Baker was +7
Caper was +3
Bell was +7
I went 4-1 against the spread last weekend in my picks. I did not pick MSU, Purdue, Wisconsin or S Carolina to win like three of them did, but all four managed to cover as I predicted. Only Indiana let me down. The game went down as I predicted but the Indiana offense couldn’t quite put together enough garbage time points to cover the spread.
Michigan’s poor showing on Saturday, along with increases from Illinois, Ohio St, Purdue and Wisconsin, move the win projections down a game and a half or so. That is a huge drop for one week.
Win odds drop across the board, Illinois is probably over valued but after back to back strong showings they look to be better than expected this season. Wisconsin is starting to come closer to conventional feelings, but is still too high.
Team – National Rank – Win Odds
Iowa – 26 – 54%
@ Penn St – 57 – 59%
Illinois – 23 – 48%
@ Purdue – 77 – 73%
Wisconsin – 52 – 72%
@ Ohio St – 9 – 17%
Projected Big Ten Standings
1. Ohio St
2. Michigan St
9. Penn St
Just like last week, Illinois and Wisconsin feel like they are reversed, but to date, the computer likes what Illinois has done a lot and still isn’t sold on the Badgers.
Prologue: As I watched the parachute spiral down towards Michigan stadium, I never thought for a moment that it was a metaphor for what was about to happen over the next 3 hours. There have been tens of thousands of words already written and there will be tens of thousands more written. But, this game was decided by just a single word – turnovers.
Synopsis for Turnovers: Well, that was a total fracking debacle! Even elite teams rarely overcome a –3 turnover margin. The likelihood that Michigan can win any game against any team (except the baby seals) with a –3 turnover margin is close to zero (and the –3 TOs does not include the blocked FG). This looks way too familiar. It can not continue. Throw the god damn ball to OUR receivers! Hold on to the god damn ball!
This has now become the one statistic that almost always determines whether M wins or loses. A great hit by Floyd (and recovery by Ezeh) in the UConn game kept the score at 20-10 instead of 20-17. Without the 3 interceptions in the ND game, the result would have likely been different. In the UMass game, Ms 2 TOs lost were offset by 2 TOs gained but the blocked punt by UMass at the end of the game made it too close for comfort. At Indiana, an interception thrown in the end zone was offset by an interception made by Cam Gordon in our end zone. For the MSU game, the three turnovers lost (plus the blocked FG) and no turnovers gained was virtually a death sentence.
Turnovers are NOT primarily due to luck. Turnovers ARE primarily due to poor performance and/or inexperienced players. Look at the 3 ints from Saturday. The first int was a bad throw by DRob who was not any under pressure at all – Roundtree was open and a good throw would have resulted in a TD. The second interception was also a bad throw – Hemingway was open and the throw was behind him. The long pass to Grady, was thrown off DRob's back foot and was another very bad throw. If the pass was thrown to the middle of the field, the safety can't get there.
Turnover margins often increase when the relative experience and skill of the opposing teams are significantly different. Over the next 6 games, M will face 3 teams (Penn State, Illinois, Purdue) with similar (or perhaps less) experience at key positions and 3 teams (Iowa, Wisconsin, osu) with more experience at key positions. How the turnover battle shakes out will have a major impact on how many of those games Michigan can win. If we can maintain a neutral or positive TOM, all of those games are winnable. If not……(last year, M was –13 in TOM for the last 6 conference games).
BTW, blocked punts, blocked field goals, on-side kick recovered by the opposing team, roughing the kicker penalties, etc. are not considered to be "official" turnovers but have the same effect. I will continue to track these also.
Overall, M spiraled down from +4 TOM to just +1 TOM and the national ranking soared from #15 to #53. MSU had just a single fumble (which they recovered) and no interceptions. Turnovers lost are less than the average team but turnovers gained are also less than the average team resulting in basically a –0- TOM for the year. Historically, TOs tend to come in bunches rather than a consistent number from game to game. (BTW, TOM was +1.0 after 6 equivalent games last year [including all 4 OOC games last year and the first 2 Big10 games played last year].)
Synopsis for Special Teams: Mixed reviews for special teams. Hagerup ended up with 47.0 average yards per punt and a net of 44.8 yards per punt. Punting continues to improve each week. One concern is that he has had several short punts that are getting good bounces. Starting field position for the opposition after our kickoff remains at the 29 yard line (slightly better than average). Broekhuizen kicked a 34 yard field goal but had a 42 yard FG blocked.
Details for Turnovers: Here is the Summary by Game. According to the folks at Football Outsiders a first down TO is worth 5 points, second down TO is worth 4.5 points, and a third down TO is worth 4.0 points (regardless of field position!).
The extrapolation is a straight line [Totals] X [13 Total Games / Games Played]. AQ Best and AQ average is over the past 10 years. AQ Best is kind of funky because the team with the "best" in each category is different so the numbers don't add. But, it does provide a point of reference.
Here is the detail of each fumble/interception and a comment providing insight if the turnover (or lack thereof) was significant. Note, blocked punts are not considered a turnover and an interception of an extra point is not considered a turnover (player does not get credit for a interception).
Here is the overall summary by player (data in yellow was affected by this week's game).
Details for Special Teams: Here are the Punting and Kickoff statistics. (Touchbacks are included as –20 yards when determining net yards.)
Remember here are the correlations of TOM to WLM at season's end.
There will be no belittling of the Spartans in this post. No silly twists of their name or bringing up academics. Yesterday Michigan St handed us a beating that they should be proud of. It wasn't handed to them by the refs or by luck. They were simply well coached and their game plan was well executed. The Spartans didn't make mistakes and were solid in all phases of the game, and that is why they won.
Michigan was, in most part, what we have been seeing so far this season. That wasn't their worst performance so far (I would still give the UMass game the edge there), and it was far from the best they can play, but nothing really stood out to me as unexpected. Well, perhaps the lack of running room for Denard Robinson could be described as surprising. State had a great game plan for stopping (or slowing at least) our offense, and more importantly they had the personnel to execute it.
This is scary if you, as a fan, had pinned your hopes on what the numbers have been telling us. The problem with much of the statistical analysis you see is that it shows everything in a linear fashion. X team's offense meets Y team's defense at this point on the chart and there you have your expected outcome. College football has too many teams with to large a range of player talent for anything linear to come out of it. Extrapolating the results of this season based on our first 5 opponents is asking for disappointment.
Michigan St's defense is an order of magnitude better than any Michigan has faced this year. They have DBs that can run with our receivers and a front seven that can stand up to our OLine. Their coaches also made great decisions for
stopping slowing Denard Robinson by keeping the ball out of his hands past the line of scrimmage. Michigan ran quite a bit of read option yesterday, and I don't recall a single read leading to Denard Robinson keeping the ball. That is good execution of a solid game plan: Make the other Michigan backs hurt you. Shaw, Smith, and Co. didn't do horribly at all, but the lack of Denard Robinson in space was obvious. When Michigan ran the lead QB draw Michigan St showed that they had practiced well for defending it.
The rest of the game was pretty much what we have seen so far, but that doesn't mean I didn't learn anything from it (especially coupled with the Indiana game):
- Denard Robinson is not an Ice-in-his-veins gunslinger. His throws have great zip and are largely accurate, especially so when the throw is shortish or his target is stationary. Against Indiana (and the rest of the schedule so far) his receivers have been so open that a slightly inaccurate ball wasn't noticeable. Against Michigan St the receivers were covered much better, and the picks in the end zone were the result. Both balls were thrown to where the receiver was, not leading the receiver to where only he would have a chance at the ball. With lesser coverage both are touchdowns. We must remember that Denard Robinson is still a true soph and this game another set of lessons to learn from for him.
- Obi Ezeh is the biggest reason Michigan's defense sucks balls. Watching him jump out of the hole on Michigan St's second long running TD felt like Deja Vu after all of the UFR videos of the last two years. This is not going to change, not that anyone reading here expects it to. Ezeh can make thumping tackles, but is rarely lined up squarely to do so.
- Kovacs is the opposite of Ezeh for this defense, never the reason they suck balls. When Kovacs took down the State tight end in space to sew up a 3-and-out in the 4th Qtr, all I could think was "He could have made that play from MLB." I would love to see him get a shot at playing in the middle. The dude is second on the team in tackles for a reason, he makes the right decisions and that keeps him in the play.
- Talbot (CB) seems to be a positive addition to the defense when he sees the field. Cullen Christian does not, at least at CB. The touchdown on which CC was burned crispy displayed his lack of CB rated hips and recovery speed. I would think that CC has a move to safety (or OLB?) in his future [edit: As many have pointed out in the comments, this is probably premature. With the other freshmen looking decent though, and CC not getting much PT, I still see this move happening eventually.]
- No amount of tweeking this defense is going to make it good, or even average. More time and experience will bring up the level of play for the younger players, and in that the defense will improve. Several of the younger players are actually showing quite a bit of promise. The Gordons, Jabreel Black, and Talbot and Avery at CB have all shown signs that they will be solid contributors with more experience. With some good recruiting to give depth, I think Michigan's defense will rise from the ashes in 2011 and 2012. Mike Martin (plz be OK) coming back next year would help immensely of course.
Iowa is going to be tough, and probably another loss. Their defense is top 5 with the personnel to mimic the game plan Michigan St was very effective with. Their offense is also pretty good, coming in 33rd in total with fairly even passing and running ratings. Michigan can win this game in the same way it could have beaten State, with an offensive performance bordering on perfection. Think yesterday with two TDs in place of end zone Ints and Roundtree hauling in that TD as well, then add another TD drive as well and I think Michigan beats Iowa. This is not very likely.
The rest of the season I am still optimistic about. Penn St shouldn't be able to torch us with their issues on offense, and I think we can score on anyone. Illinois looks to be improving, but I can see our offense winning that one ala the Indiana game. Purdue is simply a must win, and assuming Michigan does not suffer a rash of injuries, I could see our young defensive players improving enough to make the Wisky game a toss-up late in the season. OSU is always a throw stats out the window type game where emotion can win the day.
I realistically see this team winning 7-8 games, with a possibly 9th win in a hypothetical bowl match-up. Despite how I view the rest of the season's games individually, none of the wins is assured, and I wouldn't give any but Purdue more than a 75% chance of winning. Winning the first 5 games will probably end up saving RR's job (and thank god for that), but we should all look at our pre-season expectations and realize that this team is right about where we thought, obviously better than last year but still climbing the mountain.
Of course Denard Robinson can change this outcome by himself. If he can learn quickly from his mistakes in this game, and RR and Co. and come up with some killer counters for him in the run game, Denard Robinson can lead this team to a New Year's Day bowl. The man is special and a true "X-Factor" the likes of which we seldom get to see. So enjoy the ride my fellow Wolverines.
A new commit for Michigan means we're hitting the front page. Action since last rankings:
3-14-09 Michigan gains commitment from Antonio Kinard.
10-4-10 Indiana gains commitment from Cody Latimer.
10-6-10 Wisconsin gains commitment from Denzel Doe.
10-8-10 Michigan gains commitment from Demetrius Hart. Iowa gains commitment from Melvin Spears.
10-9-10 Wisconsin gain commitment from Tyler Marz.
If you see any errors in the individual tables, please let me know. I'm tempted to move Indiana down a bit, but their averages per commit are about even with (or only very slightly behind) the teams nipping at their heels, and they have more commits.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg|
Rivals rankings are on the "RR" scale, which is on a scale from about 5 to about 6.1. Unrated prospects are given a 5.1 rating, on par with the worst of any Big Ten commit last year. Scout is on the 5-star system (unranked players earn star), and ESPN uses grades out of 100 (unranked is 40 or 45).
|#1 Ohio State - 17 Commits|
No change for the Buckeyes.
|#2 Notre Dame - 20 Commits|
|George Atkinson III||S||CA||5.8||4||79|
With their higher commit numbers, Notre Dame is actually pretty close to passing Ohio State, though a deflated ranking on Scout (which hasn't rated kickers) keeps them well behind on the average at that site.
|#3 Nebraska - 13 Commits|
No change for Nebraska.
|#4 Michigan State - 16 Commits|
Nothing new for MSU.
|#5 Michigan - 11 Commits|
Yay! Michigan picks up Dee Hart finally. The MSU loss might slow down anything else from happening soon, though. I've also added Antonio Kinard, as U Recruit reports he'll join the team this winter.
|#6 Indiana - 22 Commits|
Rivals is far higher on the Hoosiers' new commit Cody Latimer than are the other two services.
|#7 Iowa - 15 Commits|
|#8 Northwestern - 13 Commits|
No change for Northwestern.
|#9 Minnesota - 15 Commits|
No changes for the LOLphers.
|#10 Wisconsin - 13 Commits|
Two new pickups for the Badgers, though neither is highly-rated.
|#11 Penn State - 4 Commits|
They have to get some commits sooner or later, right?
|#12 Illinois - 16 Commits|
Nothing new. The sites still aren't in agreement over whether Hayden Daniels is committed.
|#13 Purdue - 7 Commits|
No change for Purdue.
Just thought I would throw this out there after Demetrius Hart's commitment. Here are the recruits in Rivals top 250 that are still listing Michigan in their top group.
- #5 De'Anthony Thomas- 5 star, 5'9", 160 lbs., Athlete/Defensive Back
- #9 Curtis Grant- 5 star, 6'3", 222 lbs, Linebacker
- #10 Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix- 5 star, 6'2", 190 lbs, Safety
- #11 Karlos Williams- 5 star, 6'2", 210 lbs, Safety
- #18 Ray Drew- 4 star, 6'5", 243 lbs, Defensive end
- #33 Kris Frost- 4 star, 6'3", 210 lbs, Wide Receiver/Linebacker
- #43 Sammy Watkins- 4 star, 6'1", 180 lbs, Wide Receiver
- #53 Timmy Jernigan- 4 star, 6'2", 275 lbs, Defensive tackle
- #65 Anthony Zettel - 4 star, 6'4", 245 lbs, Defensive End
- #87 Wayne Lyons- 4 star, 6'0", 190 lbs, Safety
- #118 Charles Jackson- 4 star, 5'11", 180 lbs, Defensive back
- #148 Deion Barnes- 4 star, 6'5", 225 lbs, Defensive end
- #157 Avery Walls - 4 star, 5'11", 184 lbs, Safety
- #185 Mickey Johnson- 4 star, 6'1", 310 lbs, Defensive tackle
- #193 Chris Bryant- 4 star, 6'5", 330 lbs, Offensive line
- #214 Austin Traylor- 4 star, 6'4", 210 lbs, Defensive end
- #216 Sheldon Royster- 4 star, 6'0", 185 lbs, Defensive back
With the commitments of Demetrius Hart (#37) and Brennen Beyer (#191) Michigan already has two prospects in the top 250. So on that list who do we have the most realistic shot at?
The prospects that Michigan has a very high chance with off that list are:
- #33 Kris Frost - listed in his top two with Auburn.
- #65 Anthony Zettel - Waiting until the end of the season to decide.
- #157 Avery Walls - Will be announcing within the month, visiting Cal this weekend.
- #193 Chris Bryant - Should be deciding relatively soon. Down to Michigan, Stanford, and Arizona.
The prospects that I think Michigan still has a good shot with are:
- #18 Ray Drew - I'm including him on this list because I think he has genuine interest in Michigan. His mom doesn't want him to leave home though so it may be tough.
- #43 Sammy Watkins - We're in great shape with his teammate Dallas Crawford. The more I hear, the more it sounds like Sammy might really be considering Michigan.
- #87 Wayne Lyons - I'll have a full update in the Weekly Update on Monday, but Michigan is back in his top list.
- #148 Deion Barnes - Penn State may lead, but he'll be visiting after his season so anything can happen.
Finally, off this list here are the prospects that we either need to wait and see with, or we may not have a great shot with:
- #5 De'Anthony Thomas - He told me he will visit if Michigan offers, but I'm not sure if there's enough to make him decommit from USC.
- #9 Curtis Grant - I think he ends up at Alabama or Florida. He insists that he will try to visit Michigan.
- #10 Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix - Recently told the Orlando Sentinel that he's 100% committed to Alabama, but they also reported that Demetrius Hart was an Alabama lean. If he takes his visit to Michigan for the Wisconsin game there's a chance.
- #11 Karlos Williams - Currently committed to Florida State told me that he will be taking an official visit after his season is over. Michigan needs to continue winning to impress him.
- #53 Timmy Jernigan - Timmy always mentions Michigan in his top group, but I just haven't seen enough to take him seriously.
- #118 Charles Jackson - I've heard that he may be favoring Nebraska right now. He told me he wants to visit Michigan. We'll have to wait to see if that actually happens.
- #185 Mickey Johnson - Mickey has a new leader every week. Michigan is listed in his top group with Tennessee, Nebraska, UCLA, and LSU. His group and list changes so much I don't know what to believe.
- #214 Austin Traylor - Told me recently that Michigan is in his top ten and that he would like to visit. Until he narrows his list down further we won't know how high his interest level actually is.
- #216 Sheldon Royster - New Jersey safety has been quiet with his recruitment, but has always had Michigan on his list. Until he visits I'm not including him on the high chance list.