landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
So here is my attempt to be more analytical about the 2009 season. I am, like everyone else here, very excited to see what this year will bring for the Wolverines. I am fully behind Rich Rod and his staff and believe that they will turn the ship around. Looking at the roster gives me hope as well. It seems to me that most positions will see an upgrade through better players, more experience, and fewer nagging injuries. To really have a breakthrough season though, we will need to see several players step their game up.
Here are the top five players I expect to have a season shaping impact:
- Brandon Graham - An obvious choice when considering impact players, Graham has already reached this level of play. He is probably the only bonafied star on the team (not counting Space Emperors) and will be the player opposing offenses must account for. He plays a position that can cover for our biggest apparent weakness (safeties) by putting consistent pressure on the quarterback, allowing less time for pass plays to develop. The team will feed off of his drive-killing sacks and forced turnovers. His impact alone possibly accounts for an extra win or two.
- Tate Forcier - Again, this is an obvious choice. (Really, I'm not trying to bore you.) Watching the quarterback play last year was mostly depressing, but I really enjoyed the moments where Threet managed to get free for a surprising run. With Tate we can reasonably expect this to occur much more often which will have a huge positive impact on our offensive efficiency. I am not really expecting much more than natural talent shining through here, at least at first, but that should be enough to keep defenses guessing a whole lot more then last year. The fact that he understands the offense from High School and the spring will certainly help speed his development. So even taking into account freshman jitters, Tate should make a huge impact and account for another one or two game improvement in the win column.
- Jonas Mouton - I have been stoked about this guy's potential since his recruitment, and especially since he move to linebacker. These days, with spread offenses of all sorts getting fast little buggers the ball with enough space to run around fools, every defense needs quick linebackers that can cover someone. My memories of the last decade of Michigan Football are littered with big plays for opponents that stem from the short passing game. As a superior athlete and a converted safety, Mouton may be just the defensive answer we have been missing.
- Brandon Minor - So the fumbles and injuries are in the past right? After the way Minor finished the 2008 season, I believe so and that he may have more of an impact than any other single player on the roster. Minor should punish defenders with his hard hitting running style, while grinding out the tough first downs. He might be most effective with carries focused towards the middle of the line, maybe even lining up at fullback. Opposing defenses would be forced to pick their poison, either bringing extra defenders into the box or allowing Minor to gut them up the middle. With all of the hype about "Spread n' Shred," Minor could be the perfect counter. Not to mention this is his last go-round to impress pro scouts.
- Zoltan Mesko - Really? A Punter? Arguably no other player has the chance to impact each and every game as much as Our Venerable Space Emperor (of Space). Without his ability to put footballs into orbit, last year could have been much uglier for the Maize and Blue. Heck, if half of the turnovers on our end were instead booming Zoltan bombs, our defense would have appeared light years better and we probably would have won at least another game or two. I expect that he will average career highs across all punting statistics (except number kicked, hopefully) and suprise many when he fakes several for first downs (and at least one touchdown, you heard it here first!)
Five others I considered:
- Greg Mathews: Probably the most important player for Tate's development, Mathews has already established his ability to run crisp routes and catch tough passes. Will he be the steady target a freshman QB needs?
- Donovan Warren: I still believe that Warren has the tools to be a shutdown corner at this level. Maybe not a Woodson, but possibly a Ty Law sort.
- Martavious Odoms: We all saw how rediculously open Odoms got last year. Now he has someone that can actually hit him, even while scrambling.
- Mike Martin: Can be the disruptive force in the middle to take some of the focus away from Graham. Can have a large impact by consistently blowing up the opponents backfield.
- Steve Shilling: After a second year with Barwis and a third starting on the O-line, Shilling is ready to shine. The move to the interior of the line could help Brandon Minor by allowing him to truck some safeties instead of linebackers.
With the merger of Mgoblog and vb, I was wondering what would happen with the winner of VB's heisman bracket, brandon graham. If the VB guys where not looking to carry it further, because of time constraints or the new superblog, I propose it is our duty as citizens of this new blogging empire, to get this started. Get ur photoshops ready, we need banners, avatars, slogans, anything. its time to show the college football world the power of a bunch of fans with way too much free time. Good luck gentlemen (and ladies), and godspeed.
Warning! I am not a coach and I haven't played football since eighth grade. However, I have taken an interest in offensive and defensive schemes lately. Most of what I have learned has come from reading Smart Football, Three and Out, Trojan Football Analysis, and of course Brian; especially his piece in HTTV 2009.
I think one of the biggest reasons why the hybrid positions are getting so confused is the fact that coaches all have different names for the same hybrid position. To Pete Carroll the “Spinner” is called the “Elephant” and others call it the “Quick.” All this position really is, is the WDE. Now in the 4-3 under (at least the one we are using) he is moved way outside the tackle. The reason I believe we do this is so that we can use a smaller player and that is able to speed rush the passer, hold weak side contain, and fall back into coverage for a zone blitz. With the player being so far outside they don't need to be as refined in their technique and can use their athleticism in space. This is the position that is being battled for by Evans, Herron, and Watson.
Brandon Graham is going to be the SDE this year. This of course could limit his effectiveness as a pass rusher. However, he has the most refined technique of all the defensive ends and will probably draw many double teams. These double teams will most likely lead to one-on-one battles for at least two defensive linemen (which I am considering the “Deathbacker/Spinner/Quick/Elephant” to be).
The other hybrid position in our defensive is the one occupied by Steve Brown. But just like the “Spinner” is just a WDE but with a fancy name, Mr. Brown's position is just the SLB but not the John Thompson version. Obviously, spread offenses are everywhere and to combat this defensive coordinators made the SLB more like a safety. But they also want someone who can handle a tight end in man coverage and in run situations so this may be why the coordinators just didn't use a normal nickel package. In the 4-3 under the SLB is in an inside-foot to outside-foot alignment on the tight end also called a 9-tech. If there isn't a tight end then I believe he will play nickelback to the strong side – however GERG determines which side is the strong side.
coaches use different conventions for which side is the strong side.
Some call the strong side the side with the tight end. Others call
the strong side the side to the quarterback's front (non-blind) side. I am not
sure but I think that we will be using the first convention.
Note that Steve Brown and Brandon Graham are going to be on the same side. And both will be lined up on the line of scrimmage.
According to Pete Carrol the WLB is protected in this scheme, so they don't have to be “thick necked jokers” either, they need to run sideline to sideline and make plays. This is Jonas Mouton's position.
It looks to me like a guard might have a free release on Obi in this formation, but I would like to defer this question to someone who knows more about football than I.
Earlier someone posed the question as to why we don't use Brandon at the WDE position (they called it the 'Shembackler' which I like but for clarity's sake I'm sticking with WDE). This was actually why I started writing this in the first place. It seems to me that what is most important for the WDE position in this scheme is the ability to rush the passer and the ability to play in space. Brandon can most certainly rush the passer and given that he played linebacker in HS he could probably play in space – not to mention his freakish athleticism! So why don't we move him there? I think the answer is because we don't have a DE as polished as Brandon to play the SDE, especially since Ryan Van Bergen could be starting at the 3-tech DT! We have athletes, and this is the number one criteria to playing the WDE spot in our 4-3 under; as far as I can tell anyway. Hopefully they can at least speed rush the passer; playing well in space would also be helpful.
On to other musings! If our starting D-line is going to look like BG, Martin, Van Bergen, someone at WDE then I would think we should be pretty good at penetrating the O-line (clean thoughts people!). Does this mean we will be susceptible to counters and traps? Can someone weigh in on what the advantages of having a small line like ours might be? Plus, I think we can all envision what the disadvantages are so I was wondering what the bright side could be.
If you are craving more info I would recommend reading this Trojan Analysis link keeping in mind that Steve Brown is the SLB in the diagrams and BG is the DE on his side. Then delve as much as you wish! Chris Brown and gsimmons85 have so much football knowledge packed into their sites you can read on for days and – like Brian – forget what the sun looks like!
I'm not one to get defensive so feel free to tear this apart! In fact I welcome any criticism since I will most likely learn something or get a laugh.
One last thing. If you frequent mgoblog and you don't buy HTTV 2009 then you are a fool! In fact you will be known as a fool all your life and when you die all people will say about you is: 'The fool is dead.' So don't be a fool and buy HTTV 2009 today!
Does anyone know if RR has scrapped last year's game captain system or if we are going back to it? I would guess if we went back to the traditional season captains (which we should) they would be Brandon Graham, Brandon Minor and perhaps the Space Emperor.
The subject of which Michigan players are true NFL prospects has been posted a few times on this board over the last six months. Wes Bunting at National Football Post has been evaluating every FCS team for potential prospects for the 2010 NFL draft. (For those that aren't familiar with NFP, it's a site created by a group of former and current NFL execs, agents and players.) Today, he finally hit Michigan. [Note: these guys are just draft eligible, so some juniors who are just not coming out early are mentioned.] Some points of interest:
-- He doesn't love Brandon Minor as much as we do, although the review is based on last season, obviously, and not on the fact that his offensive line was young and inexperienced and will not be so much this season.
-- He evaluates Schilling as a potential "solid all-around" left tackle in the NFL, which is interesting considering I don't think he's ever played left tackle here.
-- The last line is the understatement of the millennium.
National Football Post, a site which I've found to be much more insightful and accurate than ESPN's NFL coverage (i.e. Mel Kiper and Todd McShay), has released its top 60 NFL prospects. Some interesting points:
1. Brandon Graham is number 58, which makes sense because he's most likely a Lamarr Woodley 3-4 OLB quarterback-menace-in-training than a 4-3 DE.
2. Lions fans that wanted the them to pass on Matt Stafford to get the better Sam Bradford or Colt McCoy will be surprised to learn that Bradford is only the number 12 prospect (lower than Stafford was this season) and not even the highest rated QB (that would be Jevon Snead). McCoy is number 31 and Tebow is 34. The fifth rated QB and first not-obvious one? Western's Tim Hiller at 50. Should be an interesting first game.
3. There is going to be a TON of high end defensive talent from which a team with a talent-deficient defense and a very likely top 5 pick may choose. (Taylor Mays [please?!], Eric Berry [unlikely as I think Delmas will play SS], Gerald McCoy, Terrence Cody, Brandon Spikes.)
4. The list also includes juniors-to-be like Arrelious Benn. No mention of Donovan Warren.
Peruse the list at your own leisure at the following links: