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.
Michigan's kicking woes this season forced the coaching staff to search for another scholarship kicker in the 2011 class. Rich Rodriguez had secured former Boise State commit Matt Goudis (6'0", 165 lbs) after many thought Goudis would stick with Boise. Once the old staff was fired Matt decided to take his talents to South Beach and commit to Al Golden at Miami, which left Brady Hoke searching for another solid kicker.
Lucky enough for Hoke he had already established a relationship with uncommitted kicker Matt Wile (6'2", 215 lbs) out of San Diego, California. Wile's head coach John Morrison says that relationship wasn't too hard to build. "Matts dad is the orthopedic surgeon on the athletic staff at San Diego State where Brady (Hoke) came from. They offered Matt two years ago at SDSU," Morrison said. "You guys are getting a heck of a coach, too. We're sad to see (Brady Hoke) go. I'm a big fan of his, he'll get that thing turned around really fast, I watched him do it at SDSU after 4 or 5 guys butchered it."
"It's funny now that Coach Hoke is out at Michigan, it's almost like it was meant to be for Matt. His dad and his grandfather are both Michigan grads. About 7-8 years ago Matt traveled with his dad to Ann Arbor when SDSU played Michigan, and went out on the field at halftime to kick field goals," Morrison recalls.
The coincidence has struck a cord with Wile, and he is scheduled to visit Ann Arbor this weekend (January 21st). Matt holds offers from Air Force, Michigan, Nebraska, and Washington as well. "He actually pushed back the visit to Nebraska to take the Michigan trip. I can't imagine he won't have a great visit, he already knows the coaching staff and he's already been on campus with his dad," said Morrison. "Coach Ferrigno (Special teams coach for Michigan) was actually out here the other night to see Matt, then he swung by the school to pick up his transcripts." The transcripts seemed like just a formality since Wile holds a 4.0 GPA.
Even though the cards seem to be in Michigan's favor, Coach Morrison doesn't believe Matt will make his decision while visiting Ann Arbor. "He told Nebraska that he won't commit on the Michigan trip. He wants to sit down with his family, take 24 hours and think about it. He's been very up front with all the schools. I would be surprised if he committed on the visit, but I wouldn't be surprised if he decided to commit after 24 hours," he said.
Wile averaged 42 yards per punt this season, kicked field goals and extra points, was captain of his team, and the kicker for the West team at the Army All American Game.