This is maaaaybe premature there, ESPN. Maryland #1 FWIW.
We all hope / expect Green to make some impact his freshmen year, and ESPN's Luginbill agrees:
Simply put, Green is better than what Michigan has in the backfield right now and is a perfect fit for an offense that desperately wants to get back to power football and a heavy downhill run game. In addition to fitting that profile, we expect a minimal learning curve for him in the passing game and pass protection. Michigan will be better at quarterback with Devin Gardner, and Green might become Gardner's new best friend if he can take pressure off the passing game.
*edit: Corrected the spelling of Luginbill's name. Man, my vision is getting to be awful. h/t Ron Utah
Mgoblue again has a fluff feature entitled "Get to Know the 2012 Freshmen." (LINK: http://www.mgoblue.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/080612aab.html.)
Highlighted today are Freshmen Jeremy Clark, Blake Bars, and Drake Johnson. Like last year, I assume they will continue this feature on a regular basis. There are snippets of personal interest attached to each of them, and a link to bio info.
On a completely different note, ESPN has up an article on Urban Meyer and a shift in his values, supposedly now balancing home and work (better than when at Florida.) (LINK: http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/8239451/ohio-state-coach-urban-meyer-new-commitment-balancing-work-family-life.) Personally, this article hits home, because I too often have not spent enough time with my wife and children. A good reminder for moms and dads to keep priorities in place.
So, this thought came up to me while considering Devin Gardner, and I thought I would put it all to you. We all know you use a redshirt if a kid isn't ready to play, is injured, or is a freshman at a position of depth. So here's a question that occurred to me.
What would you do if you had a freshman early enrollee who was obviously very talented, had worked very hard, was ready to play at least a limited role, and came to you telling you that playing is his reward for working so hard, it's the only reason he worked so hard, and he wants to play, but you had plenty of upper classmen at the position? The kid is realistic about his pro chances, in that, if he's good enough to be a pro, three/four years spent starting versus two/three years starting and a year with limited playing time isn't going to make a difference, and so there will be no convincing him to save that show off time.
What do you do? You know he won't hurt the team to play, but he's also not going to be a tangible improvement over the upper classmen. Do you tell him no, and in doing so, possibly remove or reduce his motivation for trying? Do you tell him yes and lose depth at the position four years down the road to motivate him this year, and at the cost of playing time for your upper classmen?
I have read a good part of the posts and threads on being dead right and dead wrong on 2010 football. Interesting, and some good points.
I believe we will have a winning season. The experience, seasoning, and continuity with Gerg as the DC will make a difference.
However, there are at least two variable factors that make it impossible to predict whether we have six wins or nine.
First, it is impossible to predict injuries. As we saw with Molk last year, and with the running backs to some degree, critical injuries are especially bad for Michigan, because of our lack of depth. If we largely remain healthy through the season, I believe we will be on the upper end (eight or nine wins.) On the other hand, if we have significant line injuries, if Tate & Denard go down, if our fastest receivers go down, we could be sunk. Of course, our opponents will have to deal with their own injuries, another variable affecting the W-L column.
Second, it is impossible to predict the ability of the incoming freshman class, and even to some degree the red-shirt freshman and early enrollees now going through Spring Practice. We will have a clue after the next month of practice, but only a clue. You just don't know for sure until guys are on the field. For instance, I remember criticism when Mike Hart was recruited and given a scholarship. He definitely proved the naysayers wrong.
If we can survive this year, each subsequent year should improve. The reason is that our depth will improve, and we will be able to bring solid players in off the bench. In fact, even this coming season, if we can make it to at least the half-way point with few injuries, the incoming freshman will be better prepared to step in and contribute. In our secondary last year, the lack of depth was disastrous.
My best guess is 7 or 8 wins. However, if we stay healthy at all the critical positions, if we have a higher success rate among freshman then is typical, if turnovers go down, if one or two of our critical rivals have a devastating injury (or crime spree, etc.) we could go as high as 9 wins, even 10 with miracles. If we have terrible injuries ourself, we could go down to six wins. My hope, even if this happens, is that RR still gets another year. I have felt consistently that 2011 will be the critical year.
After two years with RR, I believe more strongly that the program was not in good health when he arrived. I think it is comparing apples to oranges to compare RR's record at WVa and Tulane to UofM. Because those programs didn't have the high expectations present at Michigan, he was able to make a much larger impact in a shorter amount of time.
Reality Check - we have a top ten recruiting class right now, a kick-ass coach and tons of star-potential youngsters.
The stadium renovations (going to be loud!) and new practice facility (which will both be awe inspiring) will help recruiting even more next year.
We had an awesome recruiting class last year, with a ton of the kids redshirting. This means a bigger stronger faster meaner Roundtree, T-Rob, Omameh, Barnum, Smith, and Floyd to name a few.
Not to mention guys like Martin, Cissoko, Odoms, Shaw, Fitzgerald and Stonum all got a ton of experience by true freshman standards.
There is the potential to a top 5 recruiting class this year with a strong close (Campbell, Robinson, snake oil 1, snake oil 2).
Other reasons for excitement:
- Brandon Graham destroying QB's (fingers and toes crossed)
- Another off season of Barwisization
- Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown destroying safeties and linebackers next year (over-under on Minor-caused concussions is 3.5)
- Hemingway will be back
- Offensive line that will be big-ten caliber with depth
- Forcier and an improved/healthy Dual-Threet
- Jonas Mouton's potential & Obi Ezeh being another year better
- T-Rob and Gallon to help out Odoms
- About 9 months to figure out who can return kicks without fumbling (freshmen?)
- Incoming FG kicker that hits like a linebacker
- And of course - Zoltan
Lots to be excited about if you ask me.
- Who are the top candidates to return kick-offs and punts?
- What incoming freshmen will have the biggest impact?
(Update - Picking Tate Forcier is cheating...not really and I agree he will have a big impact, but could it be someone else? For instance, I don't know anyone that thought Odoms would have had as big an impact as he did. Another good question would be, who do you guys think will be the biggest 'sleeper' impact player in the class next year?)