2010. A Defensive Odyssey
So. The 2010 Defense. The general consensus is a solid “WTFWTHCWT” (What the F? Why the hell can’t we tackle?). I decided to look at tackling, mostly to deduce whether it was coaching or just us being small and getting run over. Good tackling technique can be outstripped by superior strength/athleticism, so it was a valid consideration to look at technique of tackling to ensure that our defensive woes were a parallel to youth and not the infamous GERG. Considering both the change in coaching situation (Mattison for Mayor of Smackmouth-Swaggerville), it now makes more sense to look at these numbers mostly for future reference, as progression of freshman is inevitable, and with the number we played on D our chances for a leap forward are large.
About the analysis:
1. I regarded made tackles as anytime a player made contact with the ballcarrier and that ball carrier ended up down by contact using solid tackling technique. I did not look at technique of made tackles, as after 1/2 of tape review most of the tackles that were made were of good technique. Any tackle that forced the ball-carrier out of bounds was counted as a made tackle.
2. I designated missed tackles as failing to make a tackle in space, taking an extremely bad angle on a tackle that should have been made, or simply just getting the hit but not bringing down the ballcarrier.
3. Bad Form takes into account any missed tackle that used any of the following:
- Head on the up-field side
- Arm/Jersey tackling
- Any hit at or above the numbers
- Getting "shook" in open field due to not breaking down or over pursuit.
The notable difference here is missed tackles sometimes come from being overpowered or stiff-armed, not a technique avenue. If the UM defender made the hit with the head on the right side and attempted to wrap up but the ball carrier just slipped through, I counted this as a missed tackle only. If, however, the same play happened with the UM defender coming in high and behind, this was counted as both a missed and bad form tackle.
To derive the "Tackling Efficiency" I used the following formulas as necessary:
Tackling Efficiency: (Made Tackles - Missed Tackles)/(Bad Form Missed Tackles+1)
This metric takes into account both total tackles made along with missed tackles. In my mind it should give a good representation of who is making the most tackles, while missing the least
Tackling Percentage (%):Made Tackles/Tackling Opportunities (Made + Missed)
This should just give a straight representation of “If I was in position to make a tackle, did I bring down the ball carrier?”
- I included both metrics to allay the concern on a previous post that I was marginalizing the D-line due to limited numbers of tackles. As you can see, both metrics relatively correlate with one another, with both having one or two anomalous results.
Individual Players Tackling Efficiency:
A few notes from the individual analysis:
- Our defensive studs are who you expected
Martin, Demens, Kovacs and RVB are monsters
- Mouton was a beast outside of conference, but once we hit the B10 he dropped to about 3 tackles for ever 2 misses.
- Ezeh really cannot tackle.
- Roh was not as beast as he could have been
- Underclassman tended to tackle less effectively in B10 play than upperclassman
Individual Players Tackling Percentage:
A few notes from the analysis
- Our defensive studs are who you expected
Martin, Demens and RVB are monsters
- Roh was a better tackler than it seemed with the efficiency index.
- Upperclassman seem to tackle better in the B10 than underclassman, with less noticeable dropoff
- Carvin Johnson has the potential to be a bad bad man. Dude can tackle. And more often than not, he puts the ball carrier down with authority.
A By-Class Anaylsis:
I stockpiled the numbers by year. 1st years are True Frosh and RS Fr, 2nd years are True Sophs and RS So’s etc.
(9 1st years, 4 2nd years, 3 3rd years and 6 4th years)
This team is young (shocker). There were 9 players that were first year players, compared to 4 and 3 2nd and 3rd year players. Of the 6 seniors to play, only 3 had meaningful minutes (Ezeh, Mouton and Rogers). The trend is easily demonstrable, as you get older you get better at tackling. Ignore the 4th year numbers, as Rogers is absolutely terrible at tackling, something you would expect of a WR journeyman at CB. The most telling graph I feel is the tackling efficiency by class analysis. This clearly shows that, while there were less sophomores and juniors, they made more of the opportunities and made more tackles as a whole. Going forward, I think there are some players on D that are young that have the potential to be absolute stars. Carvin Johnson and Courtney Avery both flashed some absolutely astounding athleticism; however with a year in the weight room I think Avery could be a better tackler. Most of his missed tackles weren’t bad form, just simply not being strong enough to bring down the ball carrier.
- Cam Gordon is best suited to be a down-hill blitz type LB, as when he played in the box is when he was most effective.
- Ray Vinopal should have been red shirted, however we did not have that luxury. He is definetly the gritty player we expected, just simply not big/strong enough to make the plays in run support we needed.
- Mike Martin gets held. A lot. So does RVB.
- Demens has the potential to be an All Big-Ten LB. He is that dominate. Once he starts learning some passing coverage and his reads are more instinctive, his tackles for loss will go up. He greets the runner with violence, and is all over the field shedding blockers and enforcing his will.
- Carvin Johnson should be the freshman people are most excited to see next year. That kid has an absolute nose for the football, and plays with good energy.
- Roh at the weak D end is a potential good fit, however he really needs to work on breaking down and containing the QB. Against OSU he continually broke contain and TP just stepped up and downfield he went.
- Jibreel Black needs work, but he could be a good one. Really good moves and solid hand use
I personally find the act of over signing appalling. Obviously, the total number of scholarships available is a fluid situation and thus it is a difficult task to pin down the exact number of scholarships that are available for an upcoming class. But the act of signing significantly more LOI than there could conceivably be room for invites large amounts of attrition either through a large number of kids not getting qualified or through dismissing players currently on the team. Promising a student athlete a scholarship and then releasing them from the program to make room for the next class is not the purpose of the NCAA athletics.
I don’t feel I need to go into specific instances of over signing as the practice is well documented especially in conferences outside of the Big Ten. What I’m more interested in is how the practice can be eliminated. It is obvious that schools who choose to over sign gain an advantage over those who don’t, even if they aren’t breaking any rules. So, the first objective would be to eliminate the temptation for coaches to over sign. Without the promise of an advantage there is no need to continue the act.
Though my proposal might sound slightly extreme, I do feel it comes with some positive side effects in addition to the elimination of over signing. I propose that the NCAA should, for the Football Bowl Subdivision, eliminate the 85 scholarship limit and reduce the number of allowable LOI per year to 25. There are a few stipulations that accompany this proposal. First is that early enrollees can still count toward either the class of freshmen already on campus or toward the class of freshmen that will be enrolling in the fall just as they can now, provided that there were less than 25 students in the previous class. Second, transfer students count toward the year that they enroll at a school regardless of their eligibility; this prevents coaches from trying to replace attrition in the upper classes with large amounts of transfers.
The threat of losing scholarships under the APR rules is the only deterrent to large amounts of attrition. Also, under the current system schools that do a great job of retaining and graduating their students are penalized by the 85 scholarship limit because they aren’t able to take a full class every year where as schools with poor retention rates can. Yet, under this proposal schools that have lower retention rates are at a competitive disadvantage because they will have less scholarship athletes on their team than schools with good retention rates. Meaning, there is no longer any incentive to encourage attrition. Thus, I think this proposal does a great job of aligning the interests of institutions with that of its student athletes by benefiting schools that do it best and punishing schools who do it worst.
There are obviously a few reasons the NCAA and its member institutions would be hesitant to adopt this proposal and so I would like to address those now. The first issue is that this would certainly have the potential to the add costs to athletic departments, and with the rising cost of education the additional costs would assuredly grow. However, at the same time the money generated by intercollegiate athletics continues to grow, while under the current rules there is no feasible way to funnel that money to the student athletes, and thus more money is spent on coach’s salaries and facilities instead. This proposal allows for the only possible way to give more money, in the form of scholarships, to student athletes while keeping any semblance of amateurism.
Another issue with the proposal is that there is a great deal of flexibility in total number of scholarships a school could be responsible for in a given year and it could also change dramatically year to year. Under the current rules the number of football scholarships given in a year does vary but it is capped at 85. Also, there could be Title IX implications to adding scholarships in football and thus the increase in scholarships could actually be double.
Lastly, small schools might not be too excited about the proposal since they would have an increase in the number of scholarships they are responsible for, yet they haven’t enjoyed the same growth in athletic revenue that the larger schools have. It would also make them less competitive on the field since more players can go to the bigger schools leaving less of the talent pool available for the smaller schools to build their teams from.
While, I can perfectly understand how an Athletic Director would be hesitant about increases in scholarship costs I see the increases in scholarships as a good thing. What is the purpose of the NCAA if it isn’t to support the education of as many student athletes as possible? And with the outcry about how student athletes should be paid because of the increase in revenue generated by intercollegiate athletics wouldn’t this be a great way of showing that the NCAA wants to make sure that this added revenue goes towards students rather than buildings and coaches’ salaries?
There is another benefit to capping the number of signed LOI and nothing else. Schools would be more reluctant to sign fringe academic qualifiers because if they wash out, then that scholarship spot is permanently lost. This increases the priority of the student part of student athlete and encourages high school athletes to focus on their grades if they want to receive a scholarship offer. Students who do struggle with qualifying would still be able to attend a preparatory school or junior college and transfer just as they can now.
To summarize, the benefits of this proposal would be:
Eliminates the practice of over signing from the FBS
Creates a competitive advantage for schools with high retention rates
Increases the number of students receiving scholarships
Increases the importance of academics when signing recruits
Obviously, I have biases just like everyone else so I thought I should address these. First, as a Michigan fan this proposal benefits the “Big Boys” by letting them hoard talent. Second, as a Big Ten fan it eliminates the advantage other conferences that partake in the practice of over signing have. Third, I think there are too many FBS schools now so the small schools that wouldn’t have the budget for the added scholarships would probably move down to FCS which would make me happy. Lastly, while I don’t have any issue with coaches getting paid as much as they can since they work incredibly long hours in a high pressure job, I still would prefer to see more athletes granted scholarships than an increase in coaching salaries or an arms race in facilities.
I would like to note that there is nothing magical about the number 25 so decreasing that number for cost purposes wouldn’t necessarily be an issue, but I like that more student athletes would be getting scholarships.
I posted this in another thread but I guess many people haven't really heard about how hard this kid's fought for a place on this team. If the mods want to bump this down to the board, that'd be understandable, the story's not all that long. Anyway, Kennedy's name has come up quite a bit recently; and I completely agree that no one wants to see another Nick Sheridan season. I'm not arguing he should start. But people who make fun of him (and granted, they are few and far between) should know how hard he's worked before criticizing. Anyway, on with the story.
One of my cousins was good friends with Jack in high school. This is what they told me.
Anywho, as a junior in HS, Jack was the starting QB. He came back in his senior year and either there was a new coach..or something, and the coach didn't like him..or at least his ability, so he got benched (Edit..AA.com says he was injured). Anyway, the slim shot Jack had at playing D1 ball seems to evaporate, right?
Well Jack enrolls as a freshman at UM, paying his own way, obviously. But hereally wants to join the football team. After enrolling as a freshman, he tries out, doesn't make the team. He doesn't give up. He knows he's been out of it for a while, and there's no way he's going to get on without practice. So, at night, after the team's gone back to their dorms/etc, and the field...yes, Michigan Stadium is empty, he hops the fence or whatever and sneaks onto the field. Every night. He uses practice equipment, footballs, etc, anything he can get his hands onto. For months and months, every day he snuck on and practiced in the dead of night.
Eventually, the cops caught him one night. He thought he was screwed, but instead, the cops set him up with practice stuff at Pioneer (I think my cousin said the Pioneer coach worked with him too) and when walk-on tryouts come around the next year, he goes for it. He leaves everything out on the field at the tryout, and makes the team.
He knows he'll never start, he knows he'll rarely play, he knows he'll probably never get on scholarship. But he loves Michigan football so much that none of it matters to him. He worked on all of that, so hard, just to suit up for the maize and blue on Saturdays. Now it's been about a year since my cousin told me about this, but I think I got all my facts straight.
You want a Michigan man, whatever the hell that means? There's your Michigan man.
Here's some AA.com add-ons. Their story adds some nice quotes from his parents after the DSU game from last year, but leaves out the Pioneer part.
My cousin told me he wasn't liked by the coaches..I guess he was just injured.
A redshirt freshman, Kennedy was forced to sit out his senior year of high school at Walled Lake Central after suffering a back injury.
More or less what my cousin told me
From the time he was cut until the start of this year's spring tryouts, Kennedy would scale the construction fence outside of Michigan Stadium and work out at night under the construction lights. Jack's parents didn't understand why he asked them for four footballs for his 19th birthday. Only later did they learn that Jack was lining up and knocking down trash cans on the field of Michigan Stadium to improve his accuracy.
Worked out with Cavanaugh, Kovacs, and Baker
When he wasn't risking arrest for trespassing, he worked out with fellow walk-ons Jordan Kovacs, Matt Cavanaugh and Zac Baker in the hopes of making a better showing this year.
Some more nice fluff on RR
Rodriguez could've easily just kept Cone in the game or had Jack take a knee. But he chose to put Jack in and called the quarterback keeper for him.
Anyway, I just wanted to share, so you could all appreciate the sacrifice this kid (these kids, really, a lot of walk-ons face similar obstacles) went through and the selflessness he's shown.
Okay, I just want to break this down. I haven't tried my hand at analysis much, but I wanted to take on this recent confusion over why we're looking at so many Corners and Safeties. Please take this only as an attempt at reasoning through it. If you disagree, that's fine - I gave it the old college try.
Here we go.
We all know, there are a few highly rated DBs visiting over the next couple weeks. This year, with the offers we have out, there could be as many as seven DB prospects we get commitments from.
Here's our current roster (scholarship only):
CB: Troy Woolfolk, JT Floyd, Cullen Christian, Courtney Avery, Terrence Talbott
S (Jeremy Gallon is listed here, but yeah right): Josh Furman, Ray Vinopal, Cam Gordon, Thomas Gordon, Brandin Hawthorne, Carvin Johnson, Marvin Robinson, Jordan Kovacs
That means we're 4-deep at Safeties, but only 2 1/2-deep at corner. We are still going after DBs hard in this class, so that leads me to a few conclusions:
1) We need some Corners.
With Woolfolk having just his senior year left, and Floyd looking unimpressive (to be fair, the whole defense was unimpressive, but still...), we definitely need a few corners.
2) Cam Gordon will be switched back to Wide Receiver.
This is not data. This is intuition. We are recruiting a lot of, say it with me, Defensive Backs. We are not recruiting very many, one more time with feeling..., Wide Outs.
Our WRs are: Hemingway, Stonum, Roundtree, Odoms, Jackson, Miller, Stokes, etc. BUT...Miller (6'4'') and Jackson (6'3'') are very young, and the rest of the depth chart has Stonum as the tallest receiver at 6'2'' with a bunch of little slot guys. Cam is perfect for a West Coast style of offense. Stolen from Football 101 at calsci.com:
The ideal size of a receiver [in the West Coast Offense] should be at least 6'3'' and weigh about 210 pounds.
Anyone want to take a look at Cam Gordon's height and weight? Of course, build isn't everything, but he was a receiver when he was first recruited, so it's not really out of the question.
3) Two of these commits are taking the place of Vlad Emilien and Justin Turner.
We lost 2 Defensive backs in the last year, so even if we end up signing 7 DBs, it's kind of a net 5 due to replacing those two.
4) We might not NEED all seven.
The question is, since we have a real shot with McClure, Raven AND Taylor, who is the odd man out? My guess would be Delonte Hollowell. It's great that he's Blue, but even if he stays with us, he's probably relegated to backup duty for his time here, barring a miracle.
5) There will be a bunch of redshirts.
For obvious reasons, but I don't know who, because I don't actually know which would be better - to redshirt the not-quite-as-good to see if we can coach them up? or to redshirt the possible stars to give them more time in maize and blue?
6) A safety will move to LB
We have 7 LBs right now (before this recruiting class), and we could probably use more. There are a couple of players listed at Safety that could definitely be LBs - Furman and Robinson, specifically.
Conclusion: Do I think we'll end up with 7 DBs in the class? No. That's a lot of Defensive Backs, but it looks like there's room, somehow. If we get Raven and McClure, we definitely have to hang onto them, though. If a couple guys redshirt, and the ones who are ready to contribute stay on the roster, we'll end up with a pretty excellent secondary for quite a few years. Now if we only had a DB coach...
We might as well get this post up today since the list is growing by the minute it seems. If anyone had concerns about the new coaching staff and their recruiting ability, they're probably not asking anymore. Brady Hoke seems like he's in 10 different places at once, and the buzz they've started to create in a short amount of time has been outstanding. Here's a look at the visitors list so far for this weekend. Remember this list will continue to grow, and could shrink so check back.
- Commit RB Justice Hayes (4 Star, 5'10", 175 lbs)- Justice being on campus this weekend will help with recruiting. He's been talking up Michigan to quite a few recruits now.
- DB Stefan McClure (4 Star, 5'11", 170 lbs)- Defensive back out of California. Has a good relationship with Hoke from being at SDSU. I think Michigan has a real shot with Stefan.
- DB Raymon Taylor (4 Star, 5'10", 165 lbs)- Raymon might decide to wait a little bit to commit, but I think it's safe to say he'll most likely pick Michigan.
- K Matt Wile - (6'2", 210 lbs)Here's my interview yesterday with Matt's coach. I wouldn't be surprised if Wile was a Wolverine by Tuesday.
- TE/LB Frank Clark (3 Star, 6'2", 210 lbs)- Glenville prospect that I think Michigan has a good chance with.
- OL Tony Posada (3 Star, 6'5", 315 lbs)- The coaches were out to Florida this week to see Tony, and I think this visit will be his last. He should be firm to Michigan again.
- LB Leilon Willingham (4 Star, 6'3", 230 lbs)- I spoke to Leilon's coach today, and it looks like this visit is happening. Willingham is committed to Texas A&M and was supposed to visit the Aggies this weekend. If he cancelled that trip to visit Michigan then that's a pretty strong statement.
- DB Tamani Carter (3 Star, 5'11", 172 lbs) - Michigan's newest commit is visiting.