in town for free camps
After blazing a trail of posts to start the summer The Mathlete went into hiding, moved the Mathcave halfway across the country into an abandoned missile silo in an undisclosed location in the Midwest and was never to be heard from again. Then shortly before the season kicked off, The Mathlete emerged without notice with a set of formulas in hand carefully crafted to guarantee* an undefeated season.
*Results not guaranteed.
Unfortunately I am not emerging from hiding with any earth shattering secrets. With the aid of MCaliber’s programming skills, I have been able to load all available games from 2003 to present. Not all games are available, but there are enough to get a good data set. Unless the new College Football Reference manages to dig them all up, this appears to be as far back as I can find quality and consistent play by play data to do what I do. It would have been nice to get the whole decade, but this will have to do. As always, all numbers and rankings are opponent adjusted value vs. average and includes only games against D1 opponents.
The purely data driven rankings fell close in line with MATW’s ranking for the decade. The only exception was the 2004 team fell just behind 2005 and 2007. The 2003 Michigan team cracked the top 50 teams of the last 7 years, coming in at #46 overall. That team was also the #6 team in the Big 10 behind OSU 05-07 and the 05 and 08 PSU teams.
The 2003 squad featured both the highest offensive (+6.4) and defensive (+9.1) seasons measured for Michigan.
Despite a rough finish to the period, Michigan finished as the 22st best program over the 7 year period, averaging 8.2 ppg above average. OSU finished 5th and PSU came in 9th while Wisconsin and Iowa were just behind Michigan at 24 and 25. Looking only at the Llyod Carr era, Michigan was 9th nationally from 2003-2007, incidentally one spot behind Rich Rodriguez and West Virginia who were #8 overall and #5 offensively.
Texas was ranked #1 for the seven year period, averaging 21.8 points per game better than average for the time period. Oklahoma, Florida and USC were next at just over 18 ppg and Ohio St rounded out the top 5 at +16.1.
Chad Henne was the only Michigan signal caller to qualify for the career standings, checking in at #40 in value added. From 2004-2007 Chad added 152 points of value to the Michigan offense and was rated #8 among Big 10 quarterbacks. Troy Smith was the clearcut number one for the Big 10, producing 250 points above average from 2004-2006. Your top five nationally were Matt Leinart, John Beck, Tim Tebow, Vince Young and Colt Brennan.
Michigan’s best year by a quarterback was Henne’s 2005 campaign which produced 88 points above average. John Navarre in 2003 was second and Tate Forcier from last year came in third with Henne taking the next three spots as well.
Mike Hart was the #4 rated rusher nationally from 2003-2007. During his four years he produced nearly 84 points above average on the ground and trailed only Deangelo WIlliams, Laurence Maroney and Cedric Benson among all backs. Hart’s highest rated season was his freshman campaign of 2004 when he was good for over 4.5 points per game of value. The next best Michigan seasons where Hart 2007, Perry 2003, Minor 2008 and Hart 2005.
On a per game basis, Braylon is the only receiver to crack the top 100 for the seven year period but both Jason Avant and Mario Manningham were top 60 in total contribution with over 150 points produced each.
In the Future
Hopefully my schedule is now tame enough that I can start getting posts up again. Look for a team/conference preview along with what I’ve got on UConn during game week.
We're switching it up for this week's Update. I thought I would give you guys a chance to ask some questions, and I could try to shed some light on your inquiries. Feel free to add your thoughts, or info in the comments.
Where does Michigan stand with Sammy Watkins and Kris Frost? I saw that Frost has a visit date set up with Michigan, and I know Watkins came in the spring. What are our chances of landing both of these guys?
You're right about Frost, he will be taking an official visit for the MSU game. If money and timing work out, he might be up for a couple games this season. He's down to Auburn and Michigan at this point.
Early on I would have said that Michigan was comfortably in the lead. Auburn, however, has caught up and this will be get close. I'm still thinking Michigan leads, and it would probably take quite a bit for him not to choose us. As it is with a lot of the uncommitted prospects Michigan is after, we just need to win.
As far as Watkins, I've said this a couple times but there's a rumor that Sammy has grade issues. I haven't 100% confirmed that, so take it FWIW. (EDIT: I have talked to someone close to Watkins, and they say that he thinks his grades are good enough, but he needs to pass the SAT. He just re-took the SAT, and thinks he passed, so he'll know soon.) If he's fully qualified then we have a good chance. From talking to his teammate Dallas Crawford (who we have a really good chance with) it sounds like they might be favoring different schools. If the grades rumor is true then I'm sure the coaches still have a bitter taste in their mouth with Florida recruits that have grade issues.
I was wondering how likely it would be that Michigan pulls off a recruiting miracle and actually gets some of the top prospects to switch commitments, or commit in general. I.E. - Trey DePriest, HaSean Clinton-Dix, DeAnthony Thomas, Ray Drew, or anyone else in the top 100 nationally.
This is a tough question to answer, because all of this will depend on how the team produces on the field. To get this out of the way though: forget about DePriest, it's not happening. As far as Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, I think he's pretty set in his ways about Alabama. He does have a few teammates in his ear about Michigan, now that '12 QB Nick Patti has been up for a visit and seen it for himself. He would be pretty hard to pull away from Alabama, so it's not likely. Again, the theme here is win and there's a chance.
I spoke with DeAnthony Thomas about his interest in Michigan. If he schedules an official visit then there would be reason to hope. The only way Michigan has a chance with him is if he takes an official visit. There's obviously a need for highly ranked defensive backs like Thomas, so playing time would be an easy sell. I would put him in the "don't count on it" file.
Ray Drew is an interesting scenario. Drew is good friends with DB Avery Walls, who is very high on Michigan. Walls has been apparently recruiting Drew to come to Michigan with him. Friends recruiting friends is one of the best recruiting tools a school can have.
I interviewed Drew back in June and he told me he was wide open. But he also told me that it's going to be hard for any school to pull him out of Georgia because his mom wants him to stay close to home. He's open to go out of state, but he's a momma's boy.
Knowing that Demar Dorsey didn't get admitted, and some didn't qualify, how good was the 2010 class in retrospect?
This is all going to be opinion, since none of them have played a down of football yet. Dorsey is obviously the nonqualifier that was needed the most. While Jones could have played multiple positions he wasn't expected to contribute early, and neither was Kinard. Dorsey could have been a starting corner.
Looking at the rest of the class, judging by the talk around practice it seems as though they've filled a lot of holes with the 2010 class. Jibreel Black, who's playing defensive end, has been getting a lot of praise. He was already 253 pounds coming in, so it was an easier transition for him. We have our starting punter in Will Hagerup in this class. Marvin Robinson, Cullen Christian, Carvin Johnson, Drew Dileo, and Stephen Hopkins could potentially all see the field this year. If we have 7 out of the 24 recruits that signed seeing playing time, I think that's a good indicator of their work ethic, talent level, and fit.
Some of the recruits will just take more time to develop, and adjust to the next level. Not seeing significant early playing time isn't necessarily an indicator of their talent level. Christian Pace, for example, will redshirt and study the ways of David Molk at center. Some recruiting analysts said that Pace's height was the only thing that kept him from being one of the best offensive linemen in that class, and there's a lot of excitement around his future at center once Molk leaves.
The three star debate has been beaten to death everywhere on the internet, so I'm not going to go there. Could they have done better in certain areas? Sure. Do I think they did a good job, given the circumstances (3-9, 5-7)? Definitely.
Does the departure of JT Turner possibly help our chances with any top flight DB's in this year's class? (Doran Grant, Dallas Crawford, etc)? Do they see an even better opportunity for immediate playing time?
They already saw an opportunity for immediate playing time, but I'm not sure that most of them even know who JT Turner is, let alone that he's not on the team anymore. However, Michigan's lack of depth in the secondary is known by recruits. Turner's departure only increases that. When they find out Turner transferred then it will make Michigan more appealing for the kids that were already genuinely interested in Michigan.
I say genuinely interested because there's a lot of prospects that list Michigan, but we probably don't have a good shot with. Doran Grant and Kyshoen Jarrett are two of those recruits. There are rumors about Ohio State landing Doran Grant. He talks about us in interviews, and lists us in his top group, but I would be unbelievably surprised if he picks us. If I was guessing, I would pick Ohio State or Miami. He doesn't have an offer from Miami yet, but if he shows more interest in them, he might get it. Jarrett is rumored to be down to Penn State and Pittsburgh, since he's a Pennsylvania kid.
So who's left, and who do I think we have a shot with? Here's a list of the recruits that you should pay attention to.
- Dallas Crawford (Florida/5'10", 185 lbs, 3 Star) - Crawford actually reminds me of a more athletic Courtney Avery. He's a smart kid, and he plays quarterback in high school right now. He recently told me that, "Michigan has a very, very, very, realistic chance," of landing him.
- Avery Walls (Georgia/5'11", 184 lbs, 4 Star) - Walls has always spoken highly of Michigan, and more importantly so has his mom. I think Michigan might actually lead with Avery, and will likely get an official from him as well. He's looking to make a decision relatively early, so we'll find out soon.
- Valdez Showers (Michigan/5'11", 181, 3 Star) - Showers is an instate kid, and has Michigan in his top six along with Auburn, Iowa, Florida, Northwestern, and MSU. This is a tough one, because he was really excited about his Florida offer. I've had some off the record talks with other recruits about Showers that left me more confused than before. He's likely to make his decision soon, I'm just not sure where his minds at. He's a Michigan fan, but a few things could get in the way.
Besides these names it's slim pickings. Daren Kitchen from Louisiana had tried to commit, but was told to wait. They want at least one more defensive back in this class, and now with the departure of Turner, potentially two. Telling Kitchen to wait means they're higher on other prospects and think they have a good enough shot to take a chance.
The recurring theme with all of this is that Michigan needs to win. If they win, the recruiting landscape will take on a whole different look. Florida State commit Karlos Williams, the number two defensive back on Rivals, has said he has interest in Michigan. He told me personally that if Michigan is having a good season, he and some friends from Florida will try to make it up for the Iowa game. Obviously more names will come out of the woodwork once the coaches review more prospects and have a better grasp for where they're at with these current recruits. They just need to win, and the commits will come.
What are some 2012 kids that we're in on early?
These aren't all of them, but it's a good start:
- LB James Ross - Instate kid, loves Michigan. We need to win (have you heard that before?)
- OL Jordan Diamond - Teammates with 2011 Illinois OL Chris Bryant, who could ver well end up at Michigan. Bryant will announce his decision a few games into the season, and his decision will likely effect Jordan's as well.
- DT Danny O'Brien - O'Brien goes to Flint Powers and has Michigan and Tennessee in his top two. Michigan needs to land him.
- QB Bennie Coney - Has a verbal offer from Michigan. Coney is a 6'2, 205 lb quarterback from Florida. He'll be announcing his top 5 soon, but told me that Michigan will be in his top 5. He wants to get out of Florida and explore; he doesn't want to stay in Florida his whole life. He thinks that Notre Dame, Florida State, Purdue, Texas Tech, and Michigan will comprise his top 5, but it's not official.
- RB Coy Brown - Brown is from Indiana and told me that his top three (in order) is Indiana, Michigan, then MSU and Notre Dame are tied for third. He'll be visiting Michigan for the Iowa game, and has already camped at Michigan. He's a bigger back at 6'0", 205 lbs.
- DT Tommy Schutt - The teammate of one time Michigan recruit, current Iowa commit OL Jordan Walsh. Tommy spoke highly of Michigan when we talked recently, and said that Jordan's decision to go to Iowa shouldn't have a big effect on him.
- LB Royce Jenkins-Stone - Royce is a Cass Tech product, and loves Michigan. We all know how those stories end.
- DE Chris Wormley - Wormley is a big Michigan fan, but has been upset about the lack of contact from the Michigan coaches. He understands the rules behind it, but is still upset for some reason. Ohio State may be taking the lead, which means that they're probably also not following the rules (assumption).
2012 will be a good year for talent in the state of Michigan, and hopefully our record for the 2010 season will give reason for some excitement.
Football Fundamentals 101 Syllabus:
I’m MGoBlog member and professor of football larsonlo, and today I plan on starting a major (a series of diaries) based on football fundamentals. If you wish, for this upcoming semester (which is an as of yet indeterminate length), you will be taking a crash course in football fundamentals. I will be your professor for probably all of these classes, though, if you wish, you may ask several of my MGoBlog University colleagues if any questions arise. We will start with the basics, FF 101 – The Fundamentals. Whether this is an elective for you, a minor, your major of choice, or part of a dual major is up to you. As of now, a master’s program has not been commissioned, though maybe someday one will be provided.
As for my credentials: I’ve coached football, read a lot of football books, websites, etc. and have been to several football related conferences. I’ve also participated in scouting and breaking down film. You also may remember me from my previous paper (diary post) entitled ‘3-3-5 Fundamentals’. This is now part of the FF201 – 3-3-5 Defense Series.
Before we continue, I would like to step back and focus on broader fundamentals of the game. The goal in the end is to be able to discuss aspects of particular games that come up on a week by week basis, and hopefully break down some of the film so that you, the reader, can understand: 1) Where the problem occurred; 2) Why the problem occurred; and 3) How and why to fix the problem in the future. In the end, I hope that all those that participate will earn their Bachelor of Science in Football Fundamentals.
Important note: This is in no way affiliated with the University of Michigan or any of its satellite Universities. This is not an accredited institution. Any degree you earn from this will not go to furthering your career, and will only provide you advanced knowledge with which to debate lesser educated football fans. It may or may not improve your EA Sports NCAA Football abilities. It may or may not actually make you a good coach. It may or may not allow you to dominate your next touch football game at your next tailgate.
Important note 2: No quizzes or exams will be given. No projects or homework will be assigned, though I may provide further reading. If you want you can skip class. I really don’t care what you do with this information. Basically I’m like that one professor that your friend had that didn’t care at all about grades but you somehow managed to miss during your undergraduate education. You’re welcome.
Day 1 – Terminology, Diagrams, Etc.
Day 2 – Offense
Day 3 – Defense
Day 4 – Offensive Line
Day 5 – Offensive Backfield
Day 6 – Receivers
Day 7 – Defensive Line
Day 8 – Linebackers
Day 9 – Defensive Backs
Day 10 – Special Teams
The Importance of This Class:
The reason I feel this can be an important inclusion into the MGoBlog community is because I, like most of you, have gained most of the moderate success I have through originally not understanding topics, ideas, etc. and striving to further my knowledge because, let’s face it, I hate not being smarter (i.e. better) than the people around me. Football fans, as a mass, are uneducated. They don’t know ass from elbows when it comes to many things, but most think they know their intergluteal cleft from their olecranon processes. I would like to change that, at least as far as Michigan fans that visit MGoBlog is concerned. This series will begin by discussing the very basic fundamentals, then the basics of offense, and then the fundamentals of defense, and possibly some fundamentals of special teams. I hope to further that with a fundamental breakdown of the position groups. This original class won’t necessarily relate directly to Michigan football, so may not interest all of you. However, this is just FF 101, if you think you’ve taken the AP version of this already then maybe you can just sign up for when I teach the next step up.
As I continue, I hope to delve further into the football coaching aspects, until it is not so much fundamentals as it is the small aspects of the game. This series will be very cyclical in nature, at least I hope, in that we will start looking at the fundamentals as a whole, then break it down into units, and then positions, and this will then relate back to the team as a whole.
I can’t promise this series will happen once a day, twice a week, or biweekly. This series will come based on the amount of free time I manage to obtain. Like I said though, the goal is to be able to eventually break down some film for the MGoCommunity, so hopefully by the start of the football season I will have established enough of a base from which to build on. Furthermore, I would like to call on the other resident coaches out in the community for some of their input and assistance. One thing I’ve learned through coaching is that I feel like I know a lot, but in actuality, know very little. There are many others on this site that I feel can help, and their assistance, at least as far as answering questions posed in the comments, is greatly appreciated.
Semi-Important Note: I am far inferior in these design-y things as Brian, Six Zero, and many others around here. My formatting may suck, and if I’m feeling rushed, my word usage may become very bland. Frankly though I feel like my mastery of the English language is very… um… well… not bad? Anyway, I’ll try not to make an ass out of myself, because most of you wouldn’t know it from my olecranon processes anyway… (hahaha, see what I did there, it wasn’t even funny and I still laughed because I’m the professor of the class and I can)
Another Note: I’m not one of the cool professors that just hands out the syllabus the first day. We are actually going to start stuff here.
So without further adieu (Boy, those French, it’s like they have a different word for everything! (Another note(!!!): if it’s funny it’s most likely: a) not supposed to be; b) from Steve Martin; or c) from The Simpsons) )…
FF 101: Day 1 – Terminology, Diagrams, Etc.
Football is awesome.
That deserved its own paragraph it’s so true. However, with how true it is, it is partially so awesome that many don’t understand some of the concepts that would really help them understand the game. Beyond understanding the basics, there is understanding the small intricacies. For some, understanding these minute details doesn’t make the game any more enjoyable. For me, the more you know (yes, like one of those NBC commercials) makes the game even exciting. It also makes it much more demanding, and at times makes it that much more frustrating.
The object of football is simple. Take an abnormally shaped ball and find a way to get it into a zone at the end of the field you are trying to score and stop the other team from doing the same – at least that’s how I explain it to my mom. Some are more than happy to leave it at that complexity level, for some of the less competent and more towards the inebriated state in the student section, they may like that dumbed down a tad. Well this isn’t for them.
Football, at its broadest level, is amazing because of the strength, speed, flexibility, and quickness of the athletes. It is enticing because of the chess match that goes on between coaches and the instantaneous chess matches that take place on the field. Reacting quickly and playing smart are just as fundamental as hitting harder and running faster. And neither succeeds without the other. And neither succeeds outside of the mental aspect that comes along with it.
Most of us love football partly because of those reasons. Many of us love football even more for reasons that can’t be quantified by ideas, words, or theories. Still, it is always nice to better understand something we love so much, unfortunately, that isn’t always easy. To help others understand requires communication. My goal is to communicate to the MGoMasses these ideas. To do that we need to set a foundation, which is what I plan on doing with this insertion into the series. Many will have heard or seen some of the things I talk about or diagram very differently. It is important to note that the terminology I use may be completely different than the terminology Rich Rod uses, which may be completely different than what Lloyd Carr used, which is probably very different from what Mack Brown uses. Terminology is a funny thing in that you get so used to calling something one thing, then someone up and switches it on you. That’s part of the fun (or annoyance) of the game I guess.
So today I will set a foundation which will be built on later. This can be referred back to if any confusion arises about with what I am talking about. Most of this is going to be very simple and obvious. Hopefully it will get more interesting as more diaries are added, but because MGoBlog attracts so many different people it is necessary to catch everyone up first, and establish a single base from which to build from.
Quarterback – QB
Tailback – TB
Fullback – FB
Halfback – HB / H
Tight End – TE
Wide Receiver – WR
Flanker – FL
Slot Receiver – SR
Split End – SE
Wing – W
Offensive Tackle – T or OT
Offensive Guard – G or OG
Center – C
Defensive Tackle – DT
Nose Tackle – NT
Defensive Guard – DG or NG(won’t use much but just to throw it out there)
Linebacker - LB
Outside Linebacker – OLB
Strongside Outside Linebacker – S or Sam
Weakside Outside Linebacker – W or Will
Middle Linebacker – M or Mike or MLB
Strong Safety – SS
Free Safety – FS or F
Spur – $ (Closer to Will than SS)
Bandit – B (Closer to SS than LB)
Cornerback – CB
Defensive Back – DB
Kicker – K
Punter – P
Long Snapper – LS
Punt Returner – PR
Kick Returner – KR
Holder – H
Line of Scrimmage – LOS
Play Action – PA
On offense the holes are numbered from 1 to 8 (though I’ve seen zero to 9). The odd numbers are to the left, even to the right. Start with 1 to the left of the center, 3 to the left of the guard, 5 to the left of the tackle (off tackle), 7 to the anywhere left of the tight end. On the other side, 2 to the right of the center, 4 to the right of the guard, 6 to the right of the tackle (off tackle), and 8 anywhere to the right of the tight end’s location.
This is the numbering system I’ll be using, where the dark circle with the X is the center:
(EDIT)Basically, the defensive numbering system counts the offensive linemen's shoulders and helmets, starting at the Center's shoulder. So Center's shoulder is zero, Guard's inside shoulder 1, Guard's helmet is 2, Guard's outside shoulder is 3 and so on. From what I've learned, the reason for 4i(nside) and 4 is to keep the even numbers the helmets. After 5 for the Tackle's outside shoulder, it resumes with what would have been the normal numbering system if instead of 4i, 4, 5 it was 4, 5, 6. This means the tight end's inside shoulder is 7, his helmet 8, and outside of that is 9. Note, that for linebackers, the numbering system adds a zero to the end. For example, if a LB is lined up off the line, but stacked above a 4-tech DE, he would be playing a 40 technique.
To quote Wikipedia (because I’m already being lazy):
“American football is played on a field 360 by 160 feet (120.0 by 53.3 yards; 109.7 by 48.8 meters). The longer boundary lines are sidelines, while the shorter boundary lines are end lines. Sidelines and end lines are out of bounds. Near each end of the field is a goal line; they are 100 yards (91.4 m) apart. A scoring area called an end zone extends 10 yards (9.1 m) beyond each goal line to each end line. The end zone includes the goal line but not the end line. While the playing field is effectively flat, it is common for a field to be built with a slight crown—with the middle of the field higher than the sides—to allow water to drain from the field.
Yard lines cross the field every 5 yards (4.6 m), and are numbered every 10 yards from each goal line to the 50-yard line, or midfield (similar to a typical rugby league field). Two rows of short lines, known as inbounds lines or hash marks, run at 1-yard (91.4 cm) intervals perpendicular to the sidelines near the middle of the field. All plays start with the ball on or between the hash marks. Because of the arrangement of the lines, the field is occasionally referred to as a gridiron.
At the back of each end zone are two goalposts (also called uprights) connected by a crossbar 10 feet (3.05 m) from the ground. For high skill levels, the posts are 18 feet 6 inches (5.64 m) apart. For lower skill levels, these are widened to 23 feet 4 inches (7.11 m).”
Also to note, you defend your own endzone. So when we are on the opponent’s side of the field, we are on the side of the 50 yard line towards the end we are trying to score.
So this is it, I’m going for it. These are some of the terms I will be using and the way my diagrams should read. My next installment will go over some basic philosophies, positions, some very basic formations, a bit more terminology that will be used to denote plays, and maybe a few surprises. From there I plan on covering the defense, then breaking down the offensive units and defensive units, and then maybe some special teams because we love them too. Hopefully by the time the season comes a basic understanding will be made and we can then start to dissect some film.
I'm pretty busy tonight and was originally intending to post these each individually, but I've fallen behind a bit due to my schedule. Tomorrow or the next day I plan on posting FF101 Day 2 and 3 which should cover the basics of the offense and defense. From there I hope to start breaking down some position groups and hopefully post another FF 201 (about the 3-3-5) within the next week or so.
In all honesty though, I think there are many other important if not essential diaries, and I really don't feel like cluttering it up with all my stuff. So when I see a few new diary postings I will probably shy away from posting one of these. I hope these are useful, let me know if you have any suggestions as far as formatting or things you would like me to talk about or if I have errors or something. Again, I encourage other coaches to help out if they can because: 1) It helps me out; 2) It teaches me things (every coach knows different things); 3) It helps make our fan base and the mgoblog community that much smarter when it comes to football. I don't know everything about football, I just act like I do because that makes me more convincing. Still, my word isn't the end all be all. Thanks in advance for all the help and suggestions from everyone.
Florida offensive lineman James Elliott (6'4", 305/Pensacola) is on his way back from an unofficial visit up to Ann Arbor this weekend. He went up to Michigan expecting to see a great place, and possibly a little help in making his decision. It sounds like he got more than what his expectations were set at.
TOM: How did the visit go?
JAMES: Man, that was the most amazing school I've ever seen in person.
TOM: It went that well?
JAMES: We actually stayed a little longer than expected just so we could see everything, and meet Coach Rodriguez. We didn't realize he was in Seattle, so we wanted to stay to meet him. We got to see practice and talk with him about the visit. It was just great.
TOM: What specifically has you so amazed?
JAMES: One thing that did it for me was the players. Every time I met one, they would tell me about themselves, and where they were from. They found out I was from Florida, and they all went crazy. I met some kids from Pahokee, which is a school we played in the playoffs. It was cool to see how all the players were so nice like that.
TOM: What about Coach Frey? I know your current coach is friends with him, how was it being with him?
JAMES: I got to see him, that was great. I also got to be around the offensive linemen which was really cool. Instead of taking breaks, sometimes they would just stay and talk to me instead, which was crazy.
TOM: The players and the coaches seemed to win you over, was there anything about the campus that stood out?
JAMES: They just started a new thing with a chaplin, and he said things are really changing around there. That was unbelievable to me. My mom and I are very spiritual people, so that was great to see. They have a Christian athletic group there, and they give you time to do bible work, and that's really important to me. Also, the stadium.....man. That place is unreal. They just put in the new turf, and it looks great. It was unbelievable being in that place. Everything about the stadium was awesome.
TOM: You already have an offer from Michigan, so what's next?
JAMES: Well, Coach Frey Coach Smith have approved my offer, so now I have to wait for Coach Rodriguez to approve it. Once he does that, we'll go from there.
Bumped to the front page due to a new Michigan commit.
Action since last rankings:
8-9-10 Iowa gains commitment from Jordan Walsh.
8-10-10 Wisconsin gains commitment from Mike Caputo.
8-11-10 Michigan gains commitment from Tony Posada.
Slow week in the Big Ten, as I predicted. The sites should be coming out with updated rankings soon, so keep an eye out for that.
|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 - 16 Commits|
Brindza picks up ratings of 5.4 and 76 from Rivals and ESPN, respectively.
|#3 Nebraska - 13 Commits|
Sade gets ranked by Rivals and ESPN, helping Nebraska bump up in averages. They're just ahead of Michigan now, in my estimation.
|#4 Michigan - 10 Commits|
Michigan snags OL Tony Posada, who is currently unranked to Rivals, but a solid 3-star to the other two sites. He slightly brings down the Wolverines' averages, helping Nebraska pass them up.
|#5 Michigan State - 13 Commits|
No change for MSU.
|#6 Indiana - 21 Commits|
Nothing new for IU.
|#8 Iowa - 13 Commits|
Jordan Walsh picks Iowa. Austin Vincent upgraded to 5.4 on Rivals. John Raymon gets a 78 from ESPN, and Mike Orloff gets a very slight upgrade to 69.
|#7 Northwestern - 13 Commits|
Cameron Dickerson gets a slight bump from Rivals to 5.5. Still, they slide past Iowa with a decent week for the Hawkeyes.
|#9 Minnesota - 13 Commits|
Devin Crawford-Tufts gets a 5.5 rating from Rivals.
|#10 Wisconsin - 9 Commits|
Badgers pick up Mike Caputo, plus Terrance Floyd gets a 77 rating from ESPN.
|#11 Penn State - 4 Commits|
PSU still taking it easy.
|#12 Illinois - 13 Commits|
Reilly O'Toole and Chris Boles pick up decent ratings from Rivals, and they're now considered the #2 and #3 prospects in the class. Justin DuVernois gets ranked by ESPN.
|#13 Purdue - 6 Commits|
Boilers still bringing up the rear.
Will Cameron Gordon bring balance to the force? Will Vlad the Impaler ever transition from psych to sang? Is Marvin the Marvelous Marvel just an empty OMG shirtless? Do 40-times matter at all? Will Misopogon exhaust his annual allotment of rhetorical questions before this deck is even finished? I dunno, but I was seriously freaking about about free safety, man, so I dipped into UFRs of yore and found….hope?
STOP! Have you read Part One?
We were talking about the deep safety position in GERG's 3-3-5-ish defense seen in brief previews (e.g. Ohio State, to much rejoicing) last season. We also did a recap of UFR scoring for safeties of Michigan past (here's a spreadsheet). The reason we're talking about this is because Michigan has had some pretty bad play(ers?) from/at that position, and because according to 3-3-5 experts, for the defense to be good, the deep safety should be a total motherfucking
In Part II you were expecting a rundown of candidates for 2010, and how they might stack up against the guys of years past. This is still half-written, and coming. But we hit a snag, and now it's a three-parter.
The people you can blame for this are as follows:
- The head of a certain federal agency who made like a bazillion major announcements that kept me at work all week
- Mustaches for Michigan (This Monday: Be There)
- A player who no longer plays for Michigan
- Fireaxis, who released a free iPhone version of Civilization
- Steve Sharik
What Sharik did was this and this (scroll down to his comments, which before Brian decided to give the comments section a Weis-ian strategic advantage, I could link to directly). Because of these people, I had to a.) Spend a lot of time on press call-ins, b.) Do an awful lot of research on mustaches, c.) Re-write an entire section that had already been completed, d.) Fight a brutal amphibious war against an Incan-British alliance for global domination, and e.) Completely re-imagine my metrics for determining what is needed from the Free Safety in Michigan's defense.
The Hero in Our Base Defense:
What I came up with: Michigan in 2006 had a good defense. This was mostly due to good players. But the scheme wasn't all that different from what we think GERG is gonna bust out in 2010:
You are probably looking at this alignment right now (look how far off Hall is playing up top) and having flashbacks of Donovan Warren sitting deep in what we called last year's failed 3-3-5 experiments. There's a good reason for that: I believe this is the same defense.
Jamison (bottom of the line) is in a hand-down version of Roh's spot; Harrison at top, the nominal "nickel" has come up on the line to blitz, not too different from Steve Brown's spot last year; Dave Harris is in the middle; Prescott Burgess (=Mouton) is set up in the flat near the bottom. Both Trent (bottom) and Hall (top) are playing 9 yards off the line. Jamar Adams (=Kovacs) is on the 1st down marker.
Just slightly out of the picture, sitting deep and probably reading Infinite Jest, because defending the deep ball when Branch and Woodley are tearing things up is useless, is Brandent Englemon.
You won't see either make a play here. On this particular play, Penn State saw the loose coverage, changed up whatever they were going to run (given the play until then, likely a run left), and sent a quick toss to the top wideout. Leon Hall came up to make a fantastic play and keep it to 2 yards.
What I want you to see is Jamar Adams, the safety behind Hall at the top of this play. With the "nickel back" Harrison blitzing, Adams came down into the box to act as another linebacker. As it turned out, he was help if Hall can't make this play, probably running Derrick Williams out of bounds after a 5- or 6-yard gain.
Now, this looks like a pass defense, but had Penn State run into it, there was paper all over the place. Ultimately, eight (!) players were in the box, with a surprise blitz coming from Harris, a not-surprising blitz from Harrison, and either Adams or Burgess busting in faster than a receiver could block them. Behind them, Englemon was in centerfield, ready to come up.
Michigan ran a similar defense last year against Penn State:
And we saw some of this too against Michigan State and Ohio State.
The way I think I can identify this is because we get the same exact reaction from Brian in UFRs and recaps each time: to paraphrase, "WTF [Star Cornerback] is playing way off the line here!"
My guess is it was Ron English's "pretty-bad-unless-you-have-Leon-Hall-to-bail-out-your-ass," and GERG's "what the hell do I do with crap safeties?" attempts at doing what Bud Foster at Virginia Tech does much better:
This was the subject of a since-mostly unremarked article on MGoBlog suggesting that Michigan is going to V-Tech's base defense. Essentially, it's VT's old 4-4 deal with a linebacker exchanged for a safety because spread defenses were murder on it. In Brown's description:
What makes Tech's "quarters" coverage particularly interesting is that they have not actually changed their old "G" front, they have merely removed one guy from the box and lined him up at safety without changing his aggressive responsibilities against the run.
Below is how Virginia Tech lined up against Kansas's spread in the 2008 Orange Bowl. … The Hokies lined up in their base quarters look from the "G," merely moving the former "Rover" (circled) to safety, while moving the "Whip" outside, over Kansas' slot receiver; this formation gives the offense very little information, and in fact, with Jayhawks' motioning an extra blocker into the backfield for a run to the left, is inviting for a run, with six blockers in the box against six defenders:
I recommend the entire article (in case three links weren't a clue).
I leave it to the football geniuses around here to give you more and better information as to how this applies to Michigan. The salient point for the free safety is the job description is a bit different than the "Centerfielder" in a base Cover-1 or Cover-3 that I supposed we were running when I started this.
Herein lies the hope. Going for a fourth link to this brilliant article:
The free-safety then was free to play a "robber" technique -- that is, on pass plays, he read the quarterback's eyes and broke on intermediate routes, but on runs, where he truly became valuable, he was an incredible ninth run-stuffer in the box.
It's a Cover 4 defense made to stop the run. Blitzes come from all directions, positions are hybridized so attacks can come from anywhere, and the primary defense against the pass is to look like you're in pass defense pre-snap, and to not give the QB much time to throw post-snap.
For our purposes, this means the Free Safety doesn't have to be a Ryan Mundy (at West Virginia, people with long memories) with super speed (that's your cornerback). His job is to back up a safety/linebacker-type object in man, and if anything gets by the Mack linebacker, clean up the run (or if you're Brandent Englemon, bring a book).
Below is as comprehensive a UFR Chart? Chart! as I can produce on Safety Play in the UFR era:
The blue line is the positives, so if the safety in question did nothing remarkable whatsoever, that will be at zero.
Years in brief:
2005 (average: 0): Safety Armageddon began in '05 and lasted through 2006. Fortunately, with the notable of 4th quarters in 2005, the safeties during this time had little work to do, good or bad. Willis Barringer, Jamar Adams (who later settled at box safety) and Brandon Harrison all got time deep. That 0 during a position-hating deity strike is the 2nd best year in recent history at deep safety is scary, but this may say less about the safety play, and more about Brian working the kinks out of the UFR scoring system.
2006 (average: –0.3): The one negative thing about the 2006 defense was the play at safety, mostly because Mundy and his great talent wouldn't cover anything. It was bad enough to be a soft spot, but not so bad that the great front 7 and CB play couldn't make up for it until Michigan met Ohio State-/USC-level passing attacks.
2007 (average: 1.1): After The Horror, Jamar Adams moved to free safety (listed as SS but I watched videos and he was the deep man in lots of 3-3-5s), and "keep me off your damn chart you hippie" Brandent Englemon of the 1/0/1 URFs took over the box safety spot. Adams was horrific against Oregon but settled in and provided the best FS play of the period.
2008 (average: –1): The year of Stevie Brown. When he was good, e.g. the Minnesota game, he was good. But when he was bad, Stevie was "lose MSU game all by himself" bad.
2009 (average: –3) Overall the worst safety play of the period. When Woolfolk was deep, he was tested seldom and usually finished an 'eh' 0/2/-2 or something while QBs made cornerbacks not named Warren their bitches. The bottom dropped out when Michael Williams was tried deep, and the meat of the season featured huge ugly numbers against an overmatched Kovacs until Woolfolk returned late.
In a nutshell:
The best seasons of average play from each guy at deep safety:
- +1.10 – Jamar Adams (SR)
- +0.71 – Brandent Englemon (RS JR)
- +0.67 – Willis Barringer (SR)
- +0.00 – Jamar Adams (SO)
- -0.64 – Steve Brown (JR)
- -0.67 – Brandon Harrison (FR)
- -1.14 – Ryan Mundy (JR)
- -1.30 – Charles Stewart (SR)
- -1.92 – Troy Woolfolk (JR)
- -4.00 – Jordan Kovacs (RS FR)
- -6.00 – Michael Williams (RS SO)
2009 looks pretty fucking bad now, doesn't it? I think Brian was a bit ruthless with Woolfolk for missed tackles that weren't TDs, the effect of Woolfolk is not shown. Also, this isn't a "who's the best player" list since a lot of the guys at the bottom put in their bad play as underclassmen, and many are small samples against varied competition levels (e.g. lots of strong numbers versus Northwestern). It is only an average of their UFR'ed contributions while at free safety.
And just in case it matters, here's the respective play of those who also spent time at box safety:
- +3.00 – Brandon Harrison (SR)
- +1.00 – Brandent Englemon (RS JR)
- +0.83 – Jordan Kovacs (RS FR)
- +0.75 – Brandent Englemon (RS SO)
- +0.73 – Jamar Adams (JR)
- +0.25 – Michael Williams (RS FR)
- -1.33 – Jamar Adams (SO)
-2.93 – Michael Williams (RS SO) Lessons: 1) Kovacs is a damn good box safety for a
redshirt freshman, walk-on, godsend. 2) Michael Williams wasn't good at anything.In our assessments, keep in mind what kind of player each 2010 candidate may be, and how his play might compare to any of the above candidates. 3) Our free safety prototype: rangy, heady player who can cover, tackle and avoid mistakes. Our box safety prototype: a lot of brains and solid tackler, speed and hype not a major concern.
This seals it.
We have a defensive set that is built to involve the safeties, more often than not, in run coverage, while the cornerbacks either play Cover-2 or man-up on the edges. Our free safety, our Hero, then, is a responsible guy who can tackle, lay a mean hit, and has enough speed to get there. Lanky cornerback-type he is not. Tiny Charles Drake-type object he is not.
And even historically, it has been just that type of player who has excelled at not drawing the ire of those paying close attention.
A safety with some linebackerish qualities: this might actually work.
In the Thrilling Conclusion…
Cameron 'Dark Side' Gordon
Vladimir 'The Impaler' Emilien
'Marvelous' Marvin Robinson