Yesterday we took a look at the potential recruits for Michigan's offensive line, so far. The other side of this equation is the defensive line. With the large hole that was left by Brandon Graham, Michigan brought in some good potential replacements in Jibreel Black, and Terry Talbott for 2010. They have also already added DE Brennen Beyer to the 2011 class.
WIth Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen going into their junior years, adding players in this class will be essential for the future success of the defensive front. Here's a look at who Michigan is targeting right now.
6'3", 275 lbs.
Cooper is a tackle prospect that originally wasn't as hyped as some of the other defensive players. Lately, he has been the talk of a lot of recruiting circles for the combination of size, speed, and strength he already brings to the position. Cooper will be visiting Michigan on May 21st for the Big House BBQ, along with his mother.
"I am excited and grateful for the Michigan offer. They have a great program, and I can't wait to see it for myself." - Darian Cooper
Both he and his mother have started to build a great relationship with the Michigan coaches, and they look to continue that. Michigan seems to be in favorable position, but we'll know more after his visit. He told me that his mother will likely move where ever he decides to go, so distance won't play a factor. Here's his junior highlights for your enjoyment.
6'5", 250 lbs.
Rock has long been known to have MIchigan as his favorite, and that is yet to change. Rock boasts approximately 14 offers, including Michigan, Notre Dame, and Nebraska to name a few. Rock has been to Ann Arbor a few times, and has spoken highly of Michigan every time he visits. The last time we spoke, he told me that he doesn't have a list, per se, but Michigan is as high as any other team. Unless something drastic happens, I would expect Michigan to land Rock. When asked today when his decision will be made, he said, soon. One of these links is Chris Rock's highlight video, and the other is a clip of Chris Rock doing stand up. Choose wisely.
6'5", 220 lbs.
Barnes was a visitor for the Spring Game this year. He came with the Top Prospects Family, which was founded by Je'Ron Stokes father, and Barnes left with an offer. It's too early to name favorites yet, but he did tell me that the visit to Michigan was an awesome experience.
"Michigan has great tradition, and they're a great school. I can't really say I have a list right now, but Michigan is definitely up there, you could say that." - Deion Barnes
Deion attends the same high school as current Wolverine Je'Ron Stokes. With the Stokes family guiding him through the process there's a 100% chance that any negative recruiting towards Michigan will not be effective.
6'4", 260 lbs.
Croce is the second defensive tackle from Maryland that Michigan is looking at this year, and he is high on Michigan as well. Vincent was in Ann Arbor for the spring game, and came away with Michigan on top of his list, as far as schools he's visited. He stayed in the state, and took a trip to MSU the next day, and nothing had changed. Still early as far as a decision goes for Croce, but the Spring Game has put in Michigan in favorable position here as well. His highlight video is here.
6'3", 230 lbs.
I'm going to include Anthony on here, because he has a really impressive offer list. I've spoken with him before, and he spoke highly of Michigan in general. With the offer list that he has, he was quick to admit that it's easy to confuse coaches and schools, let alone narrow down his list. He's a prospect to keep an eye on, if anything else. Anthony had 12 1/2 sacks in only 6 games this past year, which was the result of an injury. If Michigan can get him to visit, then we'll have a chance. My initial thought is that he will probably stay in the south. It should be noted that his father and grandfather were both linemen at Miami. From what he says in this in your face interview with ESPN, it sounds like Michigan may have a shot.
6'4", 290 lbs.
Hale is a midwest defensive tackle, that actually plays as a huge defensive end in high school. His size says that he'll move inside somewhere, and could actually end up being a nice fit for Michigan's style of defense. Hale is somewhat close to campus, so it shouldn't be too hard to get him there. Hale has offers from Florida, to Georgia Tech, Ohio State, and Penn State, among others. He will be highly sought after, and Michigan should have a decent shot. His highlight video is awaiting.
6'2", 240 lbs.
Marshall is a big time prospect from Virginia, that was recently offered by Michigan. He plans on attending the Big House BBQ on May 21st, but I haven't confirmed that, yet. The visit should tell us more on where his interest level is at, and if he and his mother would be ok with the distance from home.
His highschool has a nice website, with a video interview from Corey and a local station. Towards the end of the interview, Corey says he has an unnamed favorite, which is not Michigan, but is still evaluating schools.
These are the bigger names for now. As is with the offensive line recruiting, this list will continue to change as we get closer to the season. Here's a few names that may pop up soon, or just to keep in mind.
Giorgio Newberry: (likely won't choose Michigan)
Fort Pierce, FL
6'6, 255 lbs.
6'3, 220 lbs.
6'1", 310 lbs.
6'4, 210 lbs.
6'3, 250 lbs.
Fort Meade, FL
6'5, 240 lbs.
Huntington Beach, CA
6'1" 230 lbs.
Not offered (Night of Champions visitor)
Offensive line and defensive line depth are at the forefront of everyone’s mind when it comes to this year’s recruiting class. While Michigan has some quality players in place, the need is there to fill out the depth chart on both sides of the ball. Here’s a look at who Michigan is in on right now, with a little insight to each situation.
We’ll start with the offensive side of the ball, the defensive line will be in a separate post:
West Branch, MI
6’4”, 260 lbs.
Michigan stands in great position for Zettel, who now holds around 11 offers. He’s a Michigan fan, but is making sure that it’s the right fit. This has been the case with a few recruits already, and holds true with Zettel, as well. Anthony has said that he will commit to a school when he feels it’s right, and doesn’t have a set timeline. I would imagine this could drag out for a while, unless he gets that feeling. He’s been to Michigan plenty of times, so you’d have to imagine he’s waiting for the season to unfold, to see how Michigan performs. We’ll have to wait and see, but Michigan is still in good position here. Anthony's junior highlight film is here.
6’6”, 320 lbs.
Michigan fans haven’t heard too much about Posada, but neither has anyone else. He’s been relatively quiet in his recruitment, but has said that Michigan is one of his favorites. Tony doesn’t currently hold an offer from any of the big three schools in Florida. If Miami offers, then there will be some stiff competition. The key will be to get Tony on campus, and it might need to be for an official visit. Michigan is in good shape, but it could turn out to be a dog fight depending on who offers. Here's a quick clip of Tony pushing people into the end zone.
6’5”, 265 lbs.
I’ll first start by giving everyone the proper pronunciation of Andre’s last name. It's "eeh-dru (rolled r)-etha-go-yehna. Andre lives around 20 minutes from me, so I should have some film on him once his season starts. I’ve been in contact with Andre quite a bit, and he really doesn’t know where he wants to go. The more than likely top three for Andre is (in no order) Michigan, USC, and Oregon. He holds offers from the first two, and Oregon will likely be on the way soon. USC has really caught Andre’s attention, and the one and only Ed Orgeron is doing a great job recruiting him. Being from Arizona, getting an offer from USC is a big deal to Andre.
Oregon has appeal because one of Andre’s parents resides relatively close to campus. Michigan holds an advantage that might not be able to be matched, and that’s his former teammates, Taylor Lewan and Craig Roh. The key here, again, will be to get Andre on campus. He should have a better idea of where he feels most comfortable after his visits. Michigan is in good shape here. Andre's highlight film is actually fun to watch, which is usually not the case for linemen. He's regularly throwing what looks like small children to the ground.
New Orleans, LA
6’5” 330 lbs.
Trai is a monster prospect out of Louisiana, and is currently sitting with 13 offers. This one will be a little tricky for Michigan. Trai has told me that he probably won’t choose a school that he’s never seen in person, and he’s not sure if he’ll be able to make it up to Michigan. The math there looks bad. He wants to make a decision relatively soon, so Michigan could be on the outside, if he can’t make it up to Ann Arbor. Turner struck up a relationship with 2010 Michigan commit Carvin Johnson, and is very high on Michigan. I have a sneaking suspicion that if LSU or Alabama were to offer, he would choose between the two. If Michigan can get him on campus, there will be a legitimate shot. Trai also has an impressive highlight video.
New Orleans, LA
6’7”, 310 lbs.
Jonah is essentially the same story as Trai, since they’re teammates, and share the same opinions. He’s very high on Michigan, but it would be hard to choose a school that he hasn’t seen. Both Trai and Jonah took a visit to Alabama together, and are obviously very close to LSU. Austin does not have an offer from either LSU, or Alabama, yet. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and it will ultimately come down to who offers, and if they can visit. Jonah's not just a snappy dresser, he's also a good football player.
Glen Ellyn, IL
6’4”, 275 lbs.
Walsh has to be considered one of the better linemen in the Midwest, if not the country. He currently holds roughly 15 offers that range from Michigan, to Arizona, USC, Wisconsin, and Boston College. Walsh has been to Michigan several times, and was recently up for the spring game. Notre Dame has not offered yet, but it’s probably only a matter of time before they do. They have an extra boost that Walsh’s former teammate, Chris Watt, is currently on the Fighting Irish roster. If (when) they offer, I would have to think they have a good shot at landing him. My feeling is that Michigan is near the top of his list right now, but will need to do some work to snag him.
Greg Robinson (not that Greg Robinson)
6’5”, 295 lbs.
Robinson has been fairly quiet with his recruitment, despite boasting offers from the likes of Michigan, Alabama, LSU, and USC. I would expect Robinson to choose the home town team, LSU.
6’5”, 350 lbs.
Aundrey is a mammoth lineman that hails from...Glenville. Walker has been to Michigan a few times, but he’s from Glenville. I just can’t put it on paper (or the internet) that Michigan is in a good position. Michigan will likely not make the cut, and if they do, you and I will probably both look like this. So. moving on.
Guys without offers to keep an eye on
From reading this, you’re probably not that optimistic about our chances with a lot of these linemen. Not to worry, since these are the prospects currently with offers. Michigan is still evaluating a lot of athletes, and it’s typically thought that offensive line is one of the harder positions to scout. Most of the offers that have been given out are to the top tier guys, and were given out to stay even with the competition. If you recall from every other year, there will be changes in rankings, and certain prospects will grow, or have break out years. See: Patrick Omameh, Taylor Lewan. So, here’s a look at a few guys to keep an eye on, if offered.
- Willie Beavers
o Southfield Lathrup, MI
o 6’5”, 300 lbs. Offensive Tackle
- Chris Bryant
o Chicago, IL
o 6’5”, 330 lbs. Offensive Guard
- Matt Frazier
o Kankakee, IL
o 6’4”, 280 lbs. Offfensive Tackle
Matt's junior film is here.
- Kody Woods
o Indianapolis, IN
o 6’3”, 295 lbs. Offensive Guard
A picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, I'm speechless.
- Jalen Schlachter
o Corunna, MI
o 6’6”, 270 lbs. Offensive Tackle
- Chris Boles
o Toledo, OH
o 6’4”, 315 lbs. Offensive Guard
There will obviously be more added to this list, as the recruiting season goes on. I think Michigan has done a good job, so far, with recruiting offensive linemen. They’re handicapped in a few areas, but have a few things working in their favor as well. As with other prospects, it’s going to rely a lot on how well the Wolverines perform on the field.
A lot of people are having different opinions on how the scheduling should be, so I try one scenario myself. Whit just 2 different schedules, by only rotating 2 pods one time, you can play everybody every other year, or home and away every 4 years. For the sake of the argument I added Nebraska, Notre Dame, Pittsburg, Syracuse and Rutgers.
Let's lay a few ground rules.
- One rivalry above all (MICH - OSU).
- The requirements to play a championship game are:
1. At least 12 teams divided in two divisions (16 teams in our case),
2. Round robin schedule inside your division (7 games).
- You need to go to 9 conference games. You play the 7 teams from your division + 2 other from the other division.
Big Ten Scheduling:
1. Create 4 pods (2 fixed and 2 rotating). The 2 fixed pods will be made of the strongest teams and will each anchor one division (Pod A will never be in the same division with Pod B). This keeps the divisions strength balanced; also it maintains most rivalries intact and creates new ones based on location.
Fixed Pod A - OSU, MI, MSU, PSU
Fixed Pod B - WISC, IOWA, NEB, ND
2. The 2 rotating pods will change divisions every 2 years (I'll explain later why).
Rotating Pod C - ILL, RUTG, SYR, PITT
Rotating Pod D - PUR, IND, MINN, NW
3. First year you have this 2 divisions:
Fixed Pod A - Rotating Pod C
Fixed Pod B - Rotating Pod D
4. The 2 extra games will be used against teams from the opposing pod (Fixed Pod A - Fixed Pod B), (Rotating Pod C - Rotating Pod D). As an example: OSU and MICH will play WISC and IOWA, MSU and PSU will play NEB and ND.
5. One problem with the 9 conference games is that you play a 5-4 or 4-5 schedule (home-away). You can fix that by having one division playing 5 home games and the other one just 4. This will make it fair inside the divisions. The next year you reverse the schedule and the home teams will play away this time, so the division that had 5 home games will have 4 now. This way you basically have a home and away schedule over a span of two years.
6. After 2 seasons you rotate the pods and now you have this 2 divisions:
Fixed Pod A - Rotating Pod D
Fixed Pod B - Rotating Pod C
7. The 2 extra games will be used against the other 2 teams from the opposing pod. As an example: OSU and MICH will play NEB and ND, MSU and PSU will play WISC and IOWA.
8. The 4th year will be like the 2nd one, a reverse schedule of the previous one for the same reasons.
After 4 years everybody plays everybody home and away at least ones and you basically change the schedule only one time. This way you can actually know way ahead your B10 schedule because it will repeat every 4 years.
The rivalries will be kept inside the pods only, but like I said before; only one rivalry is above all MICH - OSU, all the other ones are secondary and some will be sacrificed.
P.S. These pods alignments are just for the sake of the argument. Please take them as is. I could've used numbers instead of actual schools, but I think is more relevant this way.
Edit: Maybe this will make it easier to understand.
Ok, so we have 4 divisions: A, B, C, D. Each team has 3 protected rivals. In Michigan's case this would be OSU, MSU and either ND or Minnesota depending on whether ND joins the Big16. Those 3 rivals are spread across the other 3 divisions. So, Michigan is in A, OSU is in B, MSU is in C, ND/Minn is in D.
In this particular year, A and B get paired together to make Division 1 and C and D get paired together to make Division 2. Every team plays every team in their conference and one game against either rival in the other division. This makes for 9 games.
At the end of the season there is a pseudo tournament in each Division between all bowl eligible teams to determine the winner. The seeding is determined by the number of points that you have from your cross-division rivals. For each win against your cross division rivals, you get (9 - N) / M points where N is your rivals rank in their division and M is your rank. This makes it extremely important for you and your rivals to be ranked highly and for you to beat your rivals each year. Once the brackets are set, the bracket is simulated by the outcomes of the actual matchups throughout the season. The winner in each division plays in the championship game. The division which accumulated the most rivalry points in the above method gets homefield advantage.
So, lets say that Michigan is #2 in the division, OSU and ND are #1 and #2 in the other division and Michigan beats them both. Michigan gets 4 points for OSU and 3.5 points for ND. The #1 in our division beats both of their rivals which were ranked 4&7 in the other division giving them 7 points. Michigan would then get the #1 seed in the playoff.
I like this format because, like I said, it puts an enormous amount of pressure on teams to win the division and to beat rivals. Rivals being bad in a particular year won't necessarily hurt you (especially if you win all of your games in the division). It also possibly hurts teams like OSU who beat everyone, except that low team like Purdue. If they were matched up in the playoff, Purdue would have taken OSU out of the tournament and a team like Iowa or PSU could be given a chance at the championship game, which means beat ALL teams and you won't have to worry about it. It also only takes 9 games during the regular season, adds the benefits of a playoff without adding any more games, and adds some of the randomness of the playoffs.
Now that we've reached the conference midpoint and looked at the conference outlook, it's time to take a look at the team stats. Unlike in previous editions, the graphics will include some pitching related stats despite too small of a sample size to be that meaningful. The pitching stats are starting to show some trends, though.
As another reminder, these stats aren't official, but they should be pretty close. I have to compile these by going through every box score and input them into Excel tables. Many times, box scores contain errors that are corrected in the official statistics, but they may not be adjusted in the online box score.
So, as I start each of these posts, we'll look at the three major derived stats that are readily available in the college game (batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage):
In that AWESOME EXCEL GRAPH, you can see each of the percentages as they accumulate over the season. It should be pretty obvious that as the season goes along, the lines should normalize to the average as more data comes in. What may be a bit more difficult to see is that Michigan's offense peaked in the Central Michigan game. At that time Michigan was hitting .328 (BA) and .411(OBP). The slugging picked up a bit since then, peaking in the offensive explosion in Illinois game one, with a .477 slugging percentage.
Michigan currently sits at .321 (BA), .404 (OBP), and .470 (SLG). That ranks 3rd, 3rd, and 4th in the Big Ten respectively (more on this below). In terms of conference only stats, Michigan is at .322 (BA), .411 (OBP), and .469 (SLG), which means we've done a little bit better in conference in terms of getting on base, but everything else has been pretty similar to the non-conference season. That's pretty surprising given the difference in talent we've faced, but at the same time, Michigan has had a couple of anemic offensive games against some of the Big Ten's best pitchers (Hippen, Bischoff, Leininger), and they've had some explosive games against some of the not so good (Illinois win).
Speaking of talent difference between conference and nonconference, the purple line in the above graph, for those who didn't pay attention last time, represents the RPI of our opponents. The number one team in Boyd Nation's pseudo-RPI would be a 1.000, and a team holding the #302 RPI (or any non-D1 opponents if you're a Buckeye who plays AND LOSES to D2 and NAIA teams) would register as a 0.000 score. From that, you can see that our non-conference schedule was pretty difficult with two games against #1 Coastal Carolina, but our last few games, as well as the Big Ten regular season are quite a drop in competition.
The second graph I tend to post up is per nine innings stats, particularly runs, hits, strikeouts, and walks. These are just the sum of our total stats accumulated over the number of innings Michigan has batted (a home win normally only has 8 innings, as compared to any road game having 9 innings). Taking a peak:
Looking at the above, we can clearly see the differences between "OMG WE LOST LAMARRE" and the the team becoming stable. LaMarre came back against Central Michigan, where we can see a small jump in hits and runs, but not much in terms of long term changes. The only long term pattern that comes from the post-LaMarre return is a slight drop in strikeouts, a product of Krantz and Stephens getting less at bats.
At the time of LaMarre's return, I probably would have predicted an increase in hits and runs per game, but as we'll see in a bit, a couple of players have really cooled down over the last few weeks, most notably Coley Crank.
For individuals and a brief look at pitching, follow the jump. Warning, it gets long. Probably unnecessarily long. But it is what it is.
This weekend's critical series against Big Ten co-leaders Ohio State has a side story that deserves just as much attention as a battle for the Big Ten title. Michigan's greatest shortstop, Barry Larkin, will have his number 16 jersey retired on Saturday afternoon.
Barry was born in Cincinnati in 1964, a city that he would forever be tied to. He grew up and attended Moeller High School, a great school in Ohio sport history. It produeced not just Larkin, but Ken Griffey, Jr., and someone many Michigan fans hold dear: Gerry Faust. At Moeller, Larkin set the school record for batting average for a career at .482, hitting 12 triples and 11 homers, stealing 26 bases.
He would win the team MVP as a senior in 1982 and was drafted in the 2nd round by the hometown Cincinnati Reds. Larkin chose not to sign with the Reds however, and instead enrolled at the University of Michigan to play football. Yes, football. Following the 1982 season, he informed then coach Bo Schembechler that he would also be trying out for the baseball team. That was the last time Larkin would be part of the football team, as he became a regular immediately on the baseball squad.
On the diamond, Larkin made an immediate impact. The 1983 season would see Larkin named the Big Ten Tournament player of the year and make Baseball America's Freshman First Team. That season was also a College World Series for the Wolverines. In game one against Maine, Larkin had two doubles in a 6-5 win. Michigan would ultimately be eliminated by Texas in the semi-final. Michigan's final record was 50-9, the highest winning percentage by any Wolverine team ever.
That wasn't Larkin's last trip to Omaha. [Ed: continued after the jump.]