"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
Game 9 (no torrent, but Brian looked at their offense)
Game 6 (couldn't find a torrent)
This game is probably the most representative of what we'll be seeing. Arkansas is about on par with us in terms of talent, but they run a passing spread instead of a running spread. This is also MSU's most recent game against real competition since their final game was against ole miss. Onto the bullets:
- Nothing against emotional tributes but what does it say if you go into the game with signs that read "win it for ***" and you end up losing?
- #7 gets the start over #5 at FS
- They're nominally listed as a 4-3, but you only see that on short yardage, most of the game is 4-2-5 or 3-3-5.
- Ballard has a pretty good burst accelerating through the hole, but he's not real comfortable keeping a good pitch relationship on the option play, Relf had to eat one because he was too close to pitch it.
- Relf is just deadly on that "inverted" option QB choice play. (below)
- Ark. #7 takes it to the house on a 60+ yarder on a student body left type play. Again, these DB's will give up big plays against real speed. Thankfully we've got a lot of that at WR. (not so much at RB, this would be a great team for Carlos Brown to play against). MSU's #7 let himself get blocked on the play when he didn't need to and could've saved the TD (14 yards downfield, but that's still better than a TD)
- When Ballard runs off-tackle he has a hesitation cut that will usually go back inside or upfield instead of outside.
- Relf is about 50-50 on those deep out passes, but that's an improvement from earlier in the year. His WR and TE are fairly tall, giving him nice targets to aim for. Still throws that intermediate slant pretty well.
- Ark #7 looks like a big guy, easily shedding the tackle attempt from #13
- I'm a fan of the stickers on the helmets. It's college, gold stars for everyone. I do think that the ones we used to have were a bit big and distracting, but that can be fixed by using smaller ones or ones that have more blue and less maize.
- Ark gets their 2nd TD on a really well executed delayed screen. MSU is in pretty good position but Ark gets some great blocks and some pretty nifty running, going all the way across the field. #50 got shaken up, looks okay.
- #2 with a pretty weak fumble on a flare pass.
- But MSU gets it back on a nice strip from #34 on the very next play.
- on 4th and 2, MSU tries a fake punt, nothing special, just a straight run left by the punter. MSU motioned two guys to the far right giving an unbalanced look (ball was on left hash) but had the three up men close to the punter with two on the left side.
- Relf isn't the fasted guy (he's not vince young) but he's got really good vision for picking out the holes even if it isn't where the play was designed to go. Plus, his O-line is getting good movement on ark's front 7. Makes him dangerous on QB draws and scrambles up the middle. We're gonna need a big game from our DT's to not get moved out of the middle.
- nice diving catch by #8 on a ball that should've been batted down.
- Solid hit by #25 on Kickoff coverage, but he didn't wrap up.
- #10 not seeing much PT this week. He's nominally a backup but maybe he's dinged up.
- #90 got a good sack playing from a 2 point stance. Great speed for a guy his size, hadn't gotten many sacks this year, but a lot of pressure. This was a bit of a twist having him line up in a MLB position
- Ark is having their DE's pushing upfield, blew up one of those jet sweep plays.
- MSU's O-line looks much better. #70 is at center instead of #55 who shifted over. #61 is not in the game, and #62 is over at right tackle where he's not as much of a liability. My suspicion is that there's a sizeable dropoff once subs have to come in. #62 and #61 seem fine in run blocking, but not as good in pass blocking.
- Seems like #8 will be the primary receiver with Bumbphis out for the bowl, Relf hasn't been looking at #19 much even though he's in the game a lot.
- Relf nearly scored again on that inverted option. Different lead blocker this time.
- Ballard takes it to the pylon for a short TD, fumbled snap might have allowed him to get outside on the pitch.
- Late hit by #5
- Jebus, enough talk about cam newton. Yes, auburn probably paid his dad. When a paper trail is discovered years down the line, maybe we'll get a reggie bush type rebuke of them then, but not until there's proof.
- Pretty entertaining game MSU 21-17 at the half.
- Ark's DB's are playing inside leverage. Makes sense against relf.
- When Relf is pressured he usually misses high.
- #5 gets an INT on the sideline up. Misread by Mallet, the safety was playing pretty far over. I doubt we'll see much of #7
- FB in the flat again. Only his 3rd catch of the year, converting 4th and 3.
- Relf fumbled. He wasn't careless on this one, just a really good hit by the defender putting his helmet on the ball.
- #5 beaten for an 88 yard passing TD on playaction. Too aggressive on that play. Amazing to see #50 being the guy who never gives up on the play again. He's been impressive from game 1. He's got a great motor.
- #62 gave up a sack, blocked the wrong guy, maybe he thought the back was supposed to pick up the DE. No, that's just a mistake by him.
- Missed tackle by #25. looks like he slipped on the turf.
- Nice hit by #34. He hasn't been lining up at DE as much lately. He's more like a Fritz middle backer, even though he's listed at OLB.
- Ark #3 shows some speed on the bubble screen getting about 20 yards
- Haven't seen much of Perkins this week. Heavy doses of Ballard and Relf up the middle.
- Exciting finish, MSU recovers a fumble with Ark trying to run out the clock with a 3 point lead.
- #19 gets a big catch.
- Ballard chewing up yards on the counter run
- 31-31 going to OT
- Ballard fumbles, Ark misses a FG.
- 2nd OT MSU doesn't cover the back out of the backfield for an easy TD.
- And #62 gives up a sack on 4th down to end the game. Actually it was the speed rush against the left tackle, but they both got there pretty quick.
The dreaded "inverted option":
We'll be seeing a lot of this play or some variation of it. Although this one isn't really part of their option series, it is third play of their sweep series. (The first 2 being the sweep and the counter sweep.) You can tell that this play is a designed QB keeper by the blocking assignments. It doesn't matter what you call it, Relf will have the ball, and he will be running between the tackles with 1, 2, or even 3 lead blockers.
MSU is in a split back slot right. Ark responds with a 4-3 and a late shift into an outside blitz. The safety moves up into man coverage and the MLB fakes a blitz.
The MLB has responsibility for a pretty big bubble in the d-line. MSU takes advantage of that by pulling the right tackle all the way into the 5 hole. Arkansas's blitzer is going way upfield to cut off any bubble screen, flare pass, or sweep. (This was the LSU blue-print).
The running backs show sweep motion to the right and both the playside guard and tackle have gotten great leverage on their men, so there's a pretty big hole for the pulling tackle to lead through.
The MSU linebacker goes for the fake, Relf keeps the ball and sees what is now a huge hole in front of him.
Looking at it from behind we can see how Arkansas should have defended it. The RT takes a pull step right at the snap. But the DE doesn't even notice it. With the blitzer to his side going upfield, he doesn't have contain responsibility and his path should be directly towards the QB/RB mesh point. If you follow a pulling linemen, you'll almost always be taken right to the play.
One of the MLB goes with the fake and the DE is in no man's land about to tackle a guy who doesn't have the ball. The MSU O-line is getting great movement on their guys.
Relf actually makes the wrong cut here, the outside corner is in man and should be blocked. But because he's a big guy, going north and south is never a bad choice for Relf. The FS is in good position to make a tackle, but he gets juked out of his shorts and then Relf is too strong to get taken down by the guys in pursuit. He bounces around into the endzone getting about 10 yards of YAC.
I wanted to create a post that could operate as the first in a series of of entries that highlighted those commit/transfer decisions that had significant career/financial ramifications. This is not intended to be a "LOL you didn't go to UM and now you SUXORZ" but, rather, the beginning of a log of those who fans wanted to suit up in maize and blue and who chose less green pastures.
It will be updated, with a write-up, based upon comment suggestions. As such, I really encourage people to write-in so these become Community pieces and not a GB piece.
Because the flashiest always goes first
By his own admission, Pryor likely missed out on the chance to make tangible history when he chose to go tOSU. While he has been to a bowl game every year, it was Denard, not Pryor, who broke the NCAA record books this season. Meanwhile, back at the Columbus ranch, TP (T Profit for short) has put up decent numbers in an offense that for all intents and purposes limits him and forces him to utilize his weakest abilities (pocket passing).
Minor occurrences have taken place featuring Pryor in bars or flashing jewelry/cars that have failed to allow allegations by Clarett to disappear regarding OSU recruitment/player care. What's more, maturity issues on the field and off have raised questions about his leadership abilities at a school that, for all intents and purposes, does not have a historical encyclopedia of "field generals" (with some exceptions, such as Laurinaitis, Spielman, etc.)
Slowly languishing in Tressel ball over three years, Pryor has failed to live up to perhaps unfairly tall expectations. Now that a garage sale of fail has led to him being suspended for the first games, the Buckeye passer appears set to either go into the NFL draft with an unheralded college season in which he was not named to the All Big Ten team (and perhaps sit around for a year during labor talks) or play a shortened schedule with OSU sitting potentially at 3-2 before he comes off the bench. In short: has failed to become the next/best Vince Young.
Previously I did the offense, now for the scarier side of the ball. I don’t recommend reading for at least 30 minutes after eating a meal.
To repeat from the earlier post, this Diary is intended to be a “state of the roster” type of summary heading into the final recruiting stretch. It is meant to be a diversion from coaching rumors, general recruiting chatter, or Miss St. preview posts. Obviously all bets are off if a coaching change is made and this summary will change (hopefully for the better) when signing day rolls around. In general, I thought this would generate some good discussion and that’s what this website is all about. Refer to Brian’s Depth Chart By Classfor a list of the relevant players.
Defensive Tackle – C+
This grade avoids being lower thanks to Mike Martin’s awesomeness. He’s by far the best player on the defensive side of the ball and without him this grade would have been an F. The problem is that there are so few people behind him. If Michigan wanted to run a 4-3 they would slide VanBergen over to DT rather than trust the position to anyone else on the depth chart behind Martin. Maybe Washington will turn out to be more than goal-life beef, maybe Ash lives up to some practice hype that’s been out there, or maybe Talbott surpasses low expectations. But there is almost no depth and no one projects as anything close to all-big ten. Since losing two recruits on signing day a couple of years ago and having Will Campbell prove ESPN to be right about his talents, this position has been a horror show. This is the #1 priority in recruiting for years to come.
Defensive End – B-
Craig Roh still projects as an above average Big Ten player once he’s in his natural position and RVB is steady at the other spot (even if I’d rather see him in the middle of a 4-3 base defense). Jibreel Black played a lot as a true-freshman and showed flashes of talent – he could match Roh’s potential. Paskorz, Wilkins, Rock, and Beyer provide adequate depth without much star potential. There is enough talent and depth here to be solid but unspectacular – hence the grade.
Linebacker – C
Sigh…..how long has it been since we had optimism with this position? Demens looks like he will be a solid two-year starter with a chance to be above average. But who else will start? The roster is a weird collection of over-sized safeties and undersized linebackers. Mike Jones and Brandon Herron have played but are still unknowns. Fitzgerald and Leach have never shown the ability to play more than special teams. Isiah Bell and Jake Ryan seem like MLB material, but have been invisible to practice buzz. Kellen Jones and Desmond Morgan are very solid signings in this recruiting class but hopefully get a year of seasoning. I expect Cam Gordon to essentially be a linebacker for this defense and don’t be surprised to see Thomas Gordon, Marvin Robinson, Josh Furman, or even Carvin Johnson play some too. Depth is not an issue – talent and finding the right role for people are the issue.
Corner – C+
Are you surprised this isn’t a lower grade? After a horrific series of events led to this position being a black hole for too long (8 players that would have had eligibility were unable to contribute in 2010 for various reasons), there is light at the end of the tunnel. Floyd was erratic but returns as a veteran. Avery saw extensive time long before he should have and that should help him develop into a solid starter. Talbott got some time and could be a solid bench player. (I’m considering Christian a Free Safety.) Troy Woolfolk’s position for 2011 is unknown, but if it is corner he’ll bring valuable experience to let the young guys develop. The current recruiting class may be “short” on stars but has a lot of depth to bolster the biggest weakness on the D.
Strong Safety – C+
Kovacs is the sort of guy you love having on your team, but not really as a 4-year starter. None the less, he’ll be his reliable but limited self next year. Expect a push from Carvin Johnson or possibly Marvin Robinson or Josh Furman if they stick at this position. Finding the right balance between brains and brawn at this position will be critical, and signing a blue-chip recruit would be spectacular.
Free Safety – D
The good news is that the people on the roster are young and have some experience. The bad news is that there’s almost zero depth, the players on the roster have obvious limitations, and it isn’t clear if help is on the way. I suppose Vinopal is your default starter with Cullen Christian the likely back-up. I would like to see Woolfolk shore up this position for a year, but he might play corner instead. Carvin Johnson might convert to this position, but he seems better suited for Strong Safety. I fully expect one of the incoming recruits to move to this position, probably Brown or Crawford. There is flexibility with some of these players, but this is a position where you want a savvy veteran who knows the position.
Punter – B
Hagerup had some freshman moments, but overall was reliable when rushed into service. Expect him only to improve and perhaps even challenge some of the Space Emperor’s milestones….okay, maybe not – but he’ll be fine.
Punt Returner – D
As with the Kick Return position, there should be plenty of viable candidates who could do well but the results don’t prove that out. Gallon was a mess for much of the year, Hemmingway offers little upside and is too injury prone, and hardly anyone else got a chance. Expect Drew Dileo to get the first chance and he might prove to be valuable.
A note on scheme for a moment….
I have no qualifications that let me comment intelligently on scheme or tactics, but I have common sense and 25 years of watching this team. I think the 3-3-5 is a way to use scheme to confuse the offense when it is run correctly. In that way it can help offset a lack of talent – but it requires the players to know it and run it well. Given that Michigan’s D combines a lack of top talent with a dose of inexperience and a dash of lack-of-depth, this is not a recipe for success as we’ve seen. I would much rather stick to a simple defense and run it well – living with the consequences.
For that reason I would like to see a 4-3 base defense with Black-RVB-Martin-Roh as the line. That seems to be a solid starting unit with a decent number of back-ups. Demens and company can sort out the linebackers. I would put Floyd and Avery at corner (and let the entire depth chart fight it out for those two starting spots), Kovacs at strong safety if he can hold off Johnson and Robinson, and then let Woolfolk be the free safety.
This Diary is intended to be a “state of the roster”-type of summary heading into the final recruiting stretch. It is meant to be a diversion from coaching rumors, general recruiting chatter, or Miss St. preview posts. Obviously all bets are off if a coaching change is made and this summary will change (hopefully for the better) when signing day rolls around. In general, I thought this would generate some good discussion and that’s what this website is all about. Refer to Brian’s Depth Chart By Class for a list of the relevant players.
Offense goes first, defense wil come later.
Quarterback – A+
That’s right, I went there. I struggle to see how this position could be any better. Denard will be a Heisman candidate for the next two years, Tate has proven to be a very good backup quarterback and spot starter, and Devin will now be a freshman next year and one of the highest ranked dual-threat talents of the past three recruiting classes. I guess it would be nice to have a developmental prospect, but fourth string QBs grow on trees.
Running Back – B-
If Dee Hart stays in this class and meets his full potential maybe this grade is harsh. They certainly have depth and variety, which has not always been the case. But until someone steps forward as a homerun back and this group proves they can stay healthy, a higher grade is not warranted.
Outside Wide Receiver – B
Stonum, Hemmingway, and Odoms made for a very above average group of starters this year and all of them have had great games and will be among the best group of outside receivers in the conference for 2011. But they have all had injury issues and inconsistency issues so there isn’t a star here….yet. More concerning is the depth behind the veterans. Jackson and Stokes have played, but mostly on running downs. Robinson, Williamson, and Miller will all have tons of eligibility but are unknown quantities. Another recruit in the 2011 class would be nice.
Slot Receiver – A-
Roy Roundtree is a handful of drops away from being the next wearer of the #1 jersey [Ed-M: because dropsies stopped previous #1s?] and a future star. Kelvin Grady went from a liability to having some of the best hands on the team. Gallon and Robinson provide valuable depth. And Justice Hayes could be a future star at this position.
Tight End – C+
This is perhaps a little harsh because of the role they play in the offense. Webb has proven to be a dynamic blocker and Koger has the potential to be a very good receiver. The problem is that there is no one on the depth chart besides Brandon Moore. You may see Ricardo Miller take on the Koger role and it is expected that there will be another recruit in the 2011 class. But with fullbacks being walk-ons and the jumbo package making some valuable appearances in the playbook this year we’ll need to address this position in the next couple of recruiting classes.
Offensive Line – B+
Two starters will depart after this year and you have to give them credit for their development into solid performers this season. But without knocking their ability, they should be easily replaced. Mark Huyge has already been a starter and can step in right away with Schofield pushing for playing time. Schilling will be missed, but Barnum looks to be a solid replacement with Campbell and Mealer (plus the other centers) providing depth. Lewan and Omameh are still young and future NFL draft picks. Molk will be a senior but now has several viable back-ups in waiting. Signing another guard in this class with a lot of potential would push this to an A- for sure. Another star tackle is needed in the 2012 recruiting class.
Kicker – F
This is the biggest liability on the entire team now that there is at least depth (if not experience or talent) in the secondary. Gibbons looks like a mess with his form and results. Broekhuizen has better form but still lousy results. They don’t even have someone who can just kick it deep for kick-offs! Justin Meram from the soccer team is still wishful thinking for the time being since he has no proven track record and may go pro in his natural sport. I’m one who thinks a scholarship must go to a kicker in this class.
Kick Returner – C
This is a maddening position to grade. With all of the skill players on the roster you would think that this is a strength, but unless Stonum is the one taking the kicks there has been very little in the way of positive performance. Gallon, Robinson, and Odoms were highly underwhelming. Perhaps Dileo, Toussaint, Avery, or another young player could improve this. As great as Stonum is in this spot, his injury shows why you need to find someone else.
As we get closer and closer to signing day, Michigan nabbed two quality commitments this week in instate LB Desmond Morgan and Maryland DB Blake Countess. Michigan is currently at 13 commitments, which leaves anywhere between 5-7 more spots open. A few updates from this week, and a look at what could happen going forward:
6'1", 185 lbs.
I'm sure everyone has noticed that Roderick has an outstanding set of dreadlocks, always key in recruiting. Ryles was committed to Arkansas, but recently decommitted/had his offer pulled from the Razorbacks. He has opened up his recruitment, and Michigan will be part of the process.
I'm not with Arkansas anymore, so it's back open with everybody. I'm definitely interested in Michigan. I just talked to Coach Smith on Thursday (10/9).
Dr. Phillips just lost in the state championship game so Roderick will be focusing on recruiting going forward. He hasn't set up his visit date yet, but is looking to do that soon.
6'1", 275 lbs.
I'm not sure where it originated, but there was a rumor that Michigan was out of it for Darian Cooper. That's not entirely true. This was somewhat discussed in this thread earlier, and this is what Darian had to say about it.
Tony Dews came out on Thursday, and we talked about some things. I asked him about the coaching situation and he said that we'll know on January 1st. They're not out of it yet, I'm just concerned with what's going on with them because I had a friend go through that too.
While Michigan isn't out of it for Cooper, they are slightly behind the likes of Penn State, Georgia Tech, Iowa, and Michigan State. We won't know if Michigan is back in it until we know the fate of the coaching staff.
[Ed.: That's quite a statement from Dews, if second-hand. Not even a "we'll be back." Everybody limbo.]
6'4", 230 lbs.
Red Bank, New Jersey
Jack Tabb and recently offered Glenville prospect Frank Clark are the main tight ends on Michigan's board these days. Tabb has decided that he's ready to announce his decision after visiting Michigan, Arkansas, Iowa, and North Carolina.
I'm announcing either Wednesday or Thursday, I'll find out tomorrow. I'll have hats for Arkansas, Michigan, North Carolina, Rutgers, and Iowa.
The coaching situation at Michigan has also been in Tabb's mind recently. He really liked his visit to Ann Arbor, but I wouldn't get your hopes up with him.
- Commit Demetrius Hart told reporters last night that he will officially visit Florida, and still plans on enrolling early wherever he decides to go. If Rich Rodriguez stays, then I think Dee will too. If Rich Rod goes, then so will Hart.
- Instate DB Raymon Taylor was offered by Michigan this week. He's a lifelong Michigan fan, and barring anything out of the ordinary there's a good chance he'll be a part of this class. Taylor is a Rivals four star who was committed to Indiana before their coaching change; the other sites have him a generic three-star.
- The Army All American game will be played on January 8th, and Michigan fans will have reason to watch. Michigan commits DB Blake Countess and RB Demetrius Hart will be in the game. The two prospects announcing their decisions during the game to keep an eye on are FL S Wayne Lyons and NC ATH Kris Frost.
- There's a dead period that starts today that will run through January 3rd. The next big recruiting visit weekend will be that following weekend of the 7th. We'll have more as it gets closer, but so far WR Devin Lucien, TE Frank Clark, DB Sheldon Royster, DB Dallas Crawford, and DE Deion Barnes are scheduled to be there.
If you were Santa Claus would the Michigan football program be on your Naughty list or your Nice list this year? How about Coach Rich Rodriguez? Do you approve of the behavior of Athletic Director Dave Brandon? Whatever your position, I have a Christmas gift for you. I've created two holiday-themed wallpapers so that you can choose the one that best represents your spirit this football season. If you had Santa's freakish ability to squeeze down chimneys (and his immunity from breaking and entering charges) would you deliver a lump of coal or a tasty gingerbread treat?
Feel free to regift.
The images below are previews only. You can get the widescreen, 4:3, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.
How it was made
The lump of coal for the Naughty image came together rather painlessly but as you can see from the video I really struggled with the Nice image. If you watch closely you'll see several discarded concepts including a gift box with a bow (looked too tacky) and a candy cane (colors were too Ohio State-ish) so I landed on the gingerbread house (which is arguably more tacky than the gift, but you get what you get and you don't get upset). I sped up the footage to condense several life-wastingly long design sessions into a little under 3 minutes of video. If you're looking for an alcohol-free way to numb your emotional distress this holiday season this video is for you.
Bonus Wallpaper (or that one gift I hid behind the tree only to be unveiled after all the other gifts were opened)
In late October I stumbled across a fantastic high resolution Tron Legacy publicity image showing off the new light cycles. The combination of colors (blue and gold) and the futuristic protective gear made me think of Michigan's modern, high speed offense and Denard Robinson at the controls. After his record setting season, Denard Robinson has laid the foundation for a Michigan football legacy sure to last. Man, this is super nerdy but I like it.