...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
|Taylor Lewan||Sr.*||Graham Glasgow||So.*||Jack Miller||So.*||Kyle Kalis||Fr.*||Michael Schofield||Sr.*|
|Ben Braden||Fr.*||Chris Bryant||So.*||Joey Burzynski||Jr.*||Alex Bars||Fr.*||Erik Magnuson||Fr.*|
There's nothing in-between for this offensive line. Either it's the tackles, both redshirt seniors who will get drafted next April, or it's the interior, all new starters in flux. While things almost literally can't be worse…
A single zero yard run was –6?
I try to keep two things in balance: the same blocks get the same scores and a zero yard run adds up to about the same thing as any other zero yard run, but when three blocks get whiffed and any of them would have been sufficient to blow up the play, well, here we are. Thinking of that picture from the 2007 OSU game.
…Michigan can't tread water here and expect to tread water overall. Denard Robinson's 7.2 YPC is out the door.
The way this went down gives some reason for concern. Not at right guard, where Kalis was the anointed from day one, at the other two spots.It's clear Michigan wanted Ben Braden to lock down the left guard job, and clear that Braden just could not, for whatever reason. His move outside totally withdraws him from the competition on the interior and leaves Michigan starting at least one player by default. Michigan saw what "by default" can lead to last year. While that isn't likely to recur, neither does the situation promise an amazing one-year turnaround.
Rating: 5 of 5
|donkeys end to other T|
|does it again|
|go away DT|
|able to pull|
|well that'll happen|
You know, you hear a guy comparing some high school kid from Arizona to the best left tackle in the history of the program and you get a little excited but in the back of your head you think of Kevin Grady and countless other hype machines that turned to dust and you try to keep your head on straight. And then the guy shows up and is basically Jake Long, down to his decision to return for a senior year the NFL deems entirely unnecessary.
Yes: TAYLOR LEWAN is back for one last crack at a Big Ten championship. His last outing in a winged helmet was a titanic matchup with Jadeveon Clowney in which he held Clowney to three tackles (unfortunately one of them was a crushing TFL on which Clowney beat him straight up, see right) and no quarterback pressure.
Lewan is a returning All-American who kept Clowney quiet until he turned Vincent Smith into mist. (Smith immediately reassembled himself, T1000-style, and jogged off the field. Vincent Smith is from Pahokee.) In fact, you and I can both remember the only time last year when a pass rusher got the best of Lewan for a sack: it was Adolphus Washington in the Ohio State game. So… pretty much the worst time to give it up, but we'll take it.
FWIW, Lewan accumulated a total of –10 across 13 games in pass protection. This was significantly higher than his –4 last year, but 2011 Taylor Lewan didn't take on Alabama, suddenly great Notre Dame, and South Carolina. Adjusted for quality of competition, Lewan was on par with his sophomore year. The NFL liked it enough to project him around 10th in the draft.
But wait, there's more! While Clowney did secretly beat up on Lewan on the ground, he was far and away Michigan's best run blocker a year ago:
|Air Force||8||-||8||Blew some guys off the ball; locked out edge guys.|
|UMass||7.5||1||6.5||Dominating in this game.|
|Notre Dame||8.5||2||6.5||Got quality motion.|
|Purdue||10.5||4||6.5||Best drive blocker on the line.|
|Illinois||5.5||4||1.5||Would have been fine but pulled on a spring counter going his way.|
|MSU||6.5||4||2.5||Busted huge on one 6 yard loss, otherwise good.|
|Nebraska||2||2||0||They aren't really running any plays on which his blocking is relevant. That is bizarre.|
|Minnesota||8||1||7||Iso counter and sprint counter got tackles more involved.|
|Northwestern||5.5||2||3.5||Okay for him.|
|Iowa||7||1.5||5.5||More involved. Like it when he is involved.|
|South Carolina||4.5||9||-4.5||Clowney is like the endboss of Donkey Kong.|
He picked up some big minuses for busts; other than that he was impeccable. So why are those numbers topping out at +8 when a guy like David Molk regularly got into the mid-teens?
It's the same story from last year: pulling folks was futile. For whatever reason, Patrick Omameh was able to get out to the second level on zone plays like a mofo but never got the hang of pulling. Canonical example:
When the right guard does that on the regular, it's difficult to get your face-mashing left tackle involved. Darryl Funk inadvertently sums up the entire problem with Michigan's ground game in one painful joke:
I was kidding actually Taylor about this the other day. Every year we kind of recycle some pictures in the line room and I’ll get some action shots. I told Taylor, geez, ‘Schofield is in every one of these pictures and where are you?’ (Laughter).
That's too close to home, too near the bone, man.
Lewan's lack of impact in the run game is a problem with the offense, not Lewan, and it's one Michigan has to fix. You cannot have an All-American tackle that you can't use in the run game and be any good. Meanwhile if they can do that, the run game instantly becomes credible.
Lewan is likely to repeat as an All-American for a lot of reasons: talent, momentum, media profile after the Clowney matchup. He should be close to the same player he was in 2012, but with fewer mental mistakes and hopefully more involvement. Everything else should be about the same but the UFR chart, which should have consistent double-digit positive performances as long as Kyle Kalis is what he's cracked up to be.
[After THE JUMP: Schofield, Kalis, and then doubt. Plus backups, tons of 'em! Eventually!]
Weird line combinations and depth stuff have been coming out of practice. What should we believe, what's motivational, what's a boo boo, what's anything in this crazy world? We go under cover and bring you the NEWS that HITS the HARDEST (at least until Jake Ryan returns, because he hits harder than our news). The staff:
- Brian Woodward
- Seth Bernstein
- Ace Bradlee
- Heiko Felt, Sr.
- Blue in South Katherine Graham
- Deep Throw
And the question:
Heiko and I have been arguing about this on gchat and I thought I'd bring it to the team. We want to know where you think there are real positional battles going on right now, and how you're handicapping them. For example:
Center: 55% Glasgow, 40% Miller, 5% Kugler
SAM: 85% Gordon, 15% Beyer
Norfleet: 100% Norfleet, 400% Norfleet, Norfleet% Norfleet.
Mathlete: Shouldn't it be Norfleet: 75% Slot, 20% RB, 5% DB, 100% Awesome?
Ace: The lineup seems refreshingly settled at most spots (hooray depth!); the only positions I see having real competition are tailback, outside receiver, center, and strongside linebacker, though it'll be interesting to see if there are any surprises in the defensive backfield with the return of Blake Countess and Dymonte Thomas's potential early impact at nickel. I'm operating under the assumption that Keith Heitzman earns the nod at SDE and Jibreel Black starts at three-tech with Chris Wormley playing a key role as a backup.
Starting from the top, we've discussed the running back battle ad nauseam; Fitz Toussaint should start against CMU and Derrick Green will push for more and more carries as the season wears on. I'll go 99% Toussaint (barring injury) and a 1% chance that Dennis Norfleet gets the season's first carry as Al Borges epically trolls Brian.
[Surprising (and probably meaningless) revelations and scandal, minus the scandal, after the jump]
The mustaches need work / Fuller
Welcome back to the weekly feature in which people on the internet say things (every blog must have at least one). The lineup, and their credentials:
LT: Sr/9th Brian Cook. Not an NFL flight risk: Stayed in school for two degrees then started a blog rather than move on.
RT: Sr/5th Seth Fisher. Pre-Season Publications All-American, named to IPPY Watch List
RG: So/Jr Ace Anbender. JUBLO transfer.
C: So/So Heiko Yang. 1st Team All-Press Conference 2012
LG: Jr/Sr Mathlete. Led Big Ten in PANcakes. (ha!)
OL: Fr/Fr Blue in South Bend. Consensus 5-star to Moderator Sticky Page
And the question:
Time to make a prediction that will make you look stupid in a few weeks when we have practice reports: Your best guess for Michigan's O-line two-deep versus CMU, and the starting OL versus OSU, with reasoning.
Seth: So long as the gods have been properly tickled, the tackles are Lewan and Schofield with lots of obviously. Seniors, longtime starters, are hardly ever responsible for sacks, best OTs in the conference, despise donkeys, yada.
The interior is kind of a bitch to predict at this moment. Right guard seems to be Kalis's to lose. Regarding the momentary "omigod he's behind Burzynski" panic in early spring, my going theory is the coaches don't like giving away starting positions (Jim Bollman: take note), and Michigan's tiny walk-on erstwhile sixth lineman was instructed to give the five-star freshman a run for his money.
The other starting spots are going to the best two of Glasgow, Miller, and Braden, and at the conclusion of spring practice I felt that was the extremely tenuous order. Given their relative upsides and who did the recruitin' it's even money for Braden to emerge as a starter somewhere by season's end, even if he's not at the start. Gun to my head: the CMU starters are Glasgow-Miller-Kalis, with Braden the first guy in if any offensive lineman goes down (if it's Miller, Glasgow will slide over to center, and I already mentioned the tackles), and by OSU Braden is playing, if not for an injury than for Miller.
From there I think it's a pecking order more than a two-deep. If a tackle goes down, the surviving one is the left tackle and Ben Braden is the RT. The nominal two-deep guys will be Magnuson (tackle) and Burzynski (interior) early in the season, with Burzynski passed by Chris Bryant--I'm not and Blake Bars as the year progresses. Redshirt all the freshmen and sort 'em out next year.
Blue in South Bend: Now, I'm no expert, but I'd agree that three of the spots are locked down, with Lewan and Schofield at the tackles and Kalis at RG. I tend to think Miller is the heavy favorite at center as well; Burzynski is too short, Glasgow is too tall, and Miller has been the heir apparent for two full seasons. The real battle will be at LG, and I'll punt on that because I think the coaches will punt as well. No disrespect to the Chips, but it seems like the kind of game where Braden and Glasgow can both get plenty of run. Last year "OMG Mealer is gonna start at center" was a cataclysmic deal because Bama. This year, anything short of a true freshman starting will be met with a "huh, that's interesting." Braden and Glasgow will be listed as co-starters, so flip a coin and Ben Braden gets the first snap.
As far as a two-deep, pretty much what Seth said; Braden slides outside if a tackle goes down, followed by Magnuson. The Glasgow/Braden loser is the first in at guard, and Burzynski backs up center (where he got a lot of snaps during the spring game). The wild card is Chris Bryant. He had a pretty solid recruiting profile coming in, and insider reports indicate that he remains a large, large man. We outsiders literally know nothing about him at this point, though, so focus all your Ouija board questions on this man. The Meat God shall have to wait, as the freshmen redshirt.
Long-term, I think Braden wins the LG spot based mostly on upside, but that's just a guess. Two things to keep an eye on. The first is whether anyone shows an ability to pull. Kyle Kalis didn't look great in the spring game when asked to pull, so unless everything is going to be a zone blocking scheme (or a counter or wham concept or something to get the outside blockers moving), anyone who shows that particular club in his bag will have a big leg up. The second is whether anyone is particularly reliable in passing situations (a concern I had with Braden after the spring game). Protect the Devin, or sit thee on the pine forthwith.
LT: Lewan, Schofield, rapture
LG: Braden, Glasgow, Bryant, (Bosch)
C: Miller, Glasgow, Burzynski
RG: Kalis, Glasgow, Burzynski
RT: Schofield, Braden, Magnuson
Few things: As far as I know, Braden has locked down the LG spot for some time, so you can go ahead and use ink. I included Bosch in parentheses because he got a lot of good practice buzz. I hear he's developmentally ahead of Bars. Not that it means he'll play this season, but you can get excited for whenever the official "ass-kicking OL" era starts. Bryant [right: Fuller] is working his way back into playing shape after his leg injury. At the conclusion of spring he was a viable backup, which is a great sign considering he's still convalescent. He and Bosch and the other young bucks should will probably compete for guard opposite Kalis next year when Braden finds a home outside. And I agree with Seth: Kalis is probably going to be Michigan's RG a long, long time.
By the time OSU comes to town, unless there's an injury (please let there be no injuries) the starters should still be the same. Bryant may slip ahead of Glasgow for LG backup? Maybe?
I don't think this line is ready to clobber people between the tackles just yet. The appearance of running lanes will probably still be few and far between. Pass protection should be okay, though, and keeping Devin's jersey clean is really all we can ask for.
BiSB: I do worry that Rapture and DOOOOM are higher on the depth chart at tackle than anywhere besides QB and maybe safety. That said, there is at least a little bit of a buffer with Braden and Magnuson, though I think the latter could really use another year before entering the fray. If you compare the line depth with, say, Michigan State (or to Michigan in the alternate universe where Lewan declared for the draft), you have to feel a little better about life. State's O-line reminds me of pufferfish sashimi: if absolutely everything goes JUST RIGHT, then, hey, tasty fish. If even one thing goes wrong, though, neurotoxin and you're gonna have a bad time.
Heiko: We're not sitting here going into fall camp with 9 guys on scholarship like some people are.
Brian: Y'all need to file that guy from last week under "haterz" and moveon,org you guys. We'll have an official knighting ceremony after some beers and I'll change all your usernames to Sir Ace, Sir Seth, etc., thus communicating to haterz that you come anointed from on high.
Anyway: starting tackles are obvious. Kalis is obvious. I'm a little surprised that Braden has "locked down" a spot according to Heiko, but Heiko knows some things these days. I was just going on what Michigan did in the spring game, where Graham Glasgow started and played all three interior spots, getting more snaps than just about anyone that day. That signaled he was the leader at LG to me; if Heiko's information is accurate that signals that Glasgow is the #6 lineman, full stop. If a tackle goes out, Braden moves outside and Glasgow comes in. If anyone else goes out, Glasgow comes in.
Speaking of, depth charts like Heiko put out above are not quite right. Michigan is clearly in the group of teams that have a starting five and then want two or three linemen who back up everywhere in reserve. Assuming Miller holds on to the starting spot, a line from left to right of Lewan, Braden, Miller, Kalis and Schofield is backed up by Glasgow, Magnuson, and... uh... Bosch? Bryant? A true freshman not yet on campus?
I'm pretty confident that Glasgow will be a decent player if forced into the lineup, but once you get past him things get a little dodgy. While Michigan has options, I'd be a lot more confident if any of them other than Bryant were, like, upperclass-ish. Like the defense, it feels like Michigan needs one more year before the depth charts are overflowing with hype and experience.
I don't see any changes between CMU and OSU that aren't injury-forced unless Kugler arrives on a bolt of thunder, Rimington in hand already.
All, non-Brian: Sheath thy blade and spare thy tallow, your majesty; a simple raise shall suffice.
REPAIR NOTICE: I originally posted this article earlier this morning but accidentally had some bad data from a dreaded bad sort on Excel. Things should be better now, and the conclusions were affected less than I thought they would be. Biggest change is Ohio State was credited with a few that belonged to Oregon State (an avoidable vlookup error), and the old home-road stats were all screwed up. They are fixed below.
I've been slowly building and picking through an all-plays database built from NCAA.org's play-by-play data. The easiest thing to pull out so far has been penalties, so let's play with those.
The benefit of the all-plays is you can tell the difference between penalties, since a personal foul says a different thing about a team and does a different thing to them than, say, a delay of game to set up a punt. I broke the various penalties up into "Violent" and "Non-Violent" behaviors.
- Acts of violence: Clipping, crackbacks, facemasks, illegal blocks, illegal use of hands, kick catch interference, pass interference (?), roughing the kicker (15), roughing the passer, tripping, and unnecessary roughness.
- Non-violent behaviors: Delay of game, encroachment, false starts, holding, ineligible receiver downfield, intentional grounding, kickoff out of bounds, offsides, running into the kicker (5), sideline interference, substitution infraction, too many men, unsportsmanlike conduct, and illegal fair catch, formation, forward pass, motion, participation, shifting, and touching.
- Michigan last year was remarkably good at avoiding the latter type (in yellow in the chart below), leading the study at 2.3 non-violent infractions per game:
That's the Big Ten and the other 2013 opponents. I don't know if I want to count PI since its application can get downright chintzy, so that's broken out. Either way Ohio State managed to lead the conference in infractions per game, and was second in the study only to Terry Bowden's one-win (Morgan State) first season at Akron. Reason why this is? Online poll says:
Fact: 4.5% of people who take any online fan poll are Buckeyes
Yea, and Urban did steal "60 minutes of unnecessary roughness," previously committed to MSU. I was surprised that Michigan State appeared to have their pugilistic streak in relative check, i.e. they were only among the leaders, not far ahead as I supposed from watching them. It takes a while to gather all the data but minus the regular season Wisconsin game (data wasn't available) their 2011 penalty numbers were high but their personal foul quotient wasn't: 31 violent (11 of those pass interference) to 60 non-violent. Wanna guess where a disproportionate of those came from? Offsides. #JerelWorthyJumpsEarly.
Michigan vs. Average
We're dealing with smallish sample sizes so conclusions are shaky. That said there are things to see when you look at which penalties Michigan was getting called against them versus a typical team on their schedule.
Non-violent things per season:
|Illegal Offensive Stuff||6.0||-||4||5||5|
|Delay of Game||4.3||-||2||3||1||4|
|Special Teams Derps||0.5||-||2||1||-||-|
* over13 games
Michigan's veteran offensive line was good for something last year: remarkably few false starts and none of those illegal formation/procedure things that plagued us in various offensive transitions. That's a feather in Al Borges's cap: the offense had their fundamentals down about as well as you can ask. Pre-snap penalty-avoidance may be correlated with offensive line experience, though I haven't proven this. Further study: is it experienced OL or just experienced tackles? Inquiring 2013 offensive lines want to know.
Violent crimes per season:
|Various Illegal Blocks||5.8||8||7||4||6||-|
|Roughing the Passer||1.3||3||2||1||-||3|
|Kick Catching Interference||0.6||2||-||1||2||-|
|Roughing the Kicker||0.3||-||-||-||2||-|
* over13 games
Michigan's ability to avoid the peaceful infractions meant the Wolverines were the most pugilistic in the study by percentage of penalties that were violent. Cue the Urban Meyer chart:
Forgot to add the 15 yards for logo infraction
Really the Wolverines were average, the only thing standing out being chopblocks. There were a few of these called against Michigan last year that I thought were horsecrap (Mealer's v. UMass and Gallon's vs. Minnesota), and here's one that was legit (on Gordon):
If you don't spot it in 10 watches, watch it 10 more times.
I'm declaring Michigan a very average team at this.
Home Field Advantage?
There was one for Michigan, not the other guys. Michigan was relatively clean at home and in limited samples got kinda duked in the neutral games (Brian gave the refs a composite –5 for the Alabama game alone, which is about the difference between a typical day of Obi Ezeh as a senior versus Kenny Demens as a senior). Overall I noticed very little difference in any type of penalty with regards to how it was assessed against home versus road teams. False starts are a little more common for road teams (like one every 10 games) but that's about it. Things broke out a bit more among the small samples of a single team's season:
PENALTIES PER GAME
|Team||Pen/G||Home||Away||Neutral||Home Field Adv.|
Either they let the Wolverines get away with murder at home, we turn into Michigan State on the road, or those calls just went against us more often than they should have.
Flippin' the line: feasible?
Schofield moved all over
How hard is it in mid game or mid season to change from a right handed to a left handed qb? Does the OL switch the guards and tackles etc.?
Not particularly hard, because the offense will almost certainly ignore the change and operate just like it was before. If there is a change, it will be flipping the tackles, something that teams occasionally do when guys go down injured. Either of these things are suboptimal, but if we are, say, talking about a potential Devin Gardner injury forcing Shane Morris onto the field, that righty-lefty switch is maybe 5% of the hit.
It might be more when there's a significant pass protection gap between your tackles. I'm projecting 6'7" Michael Schofield to be very good at that, so any blindside/non-blindside pass rush tradeoffs are minor. The run game shouldn't be affected, as QBs have to hand off to both sides of their body on the regular.
A couple years down the road when Morris is the projected starter it'll make sense to flip the right and left tackles over the offseason to give Morris better protection from behind, but that's a minor change when you've been given that much time. Schofield slid from left guard to right tackle, a much more drastic move, with not much ill effect.
Why you gotta be huge to play left tackle?
Quick question that may be obvious: why is height such an important asset in a left (or blindside) tackle? I've always taken it as a given but I'm not sure I've ever heard an explanation. Off the top of my head, I would guess it has to do with arm length and the ability to be massive yet retain a lean and athletic body (i.e. Schofield is 303 lbs but is quite a bit more lean and athletic than Ondre Pipkins).
OT Adam Terry (Baltimore Ravens) and OT Marcus McNeill (San Diego Chargers) are both former second round picks (Terry in 2005, McNeill in 2006) who both weighed in during their Combine appearances at 6-8 and around 330 pounds. However, the key difference during each player’s weigh-in was the dramatic discrepancy in the length of the two player’s reaches. McNeill measured in at 35½ inches and Terry posted a reach of 32 ¼ inches. Therefore, we have two men who are roughly the exact same size, however, McNeill has the length to match and maximize his 6-8 frame, while Terry’s length forces him to play like a tackle closer to 6-3.
There are other variables that go into a comparison like this, however, the facts are that McNeill has been the Chargers starting left tackle for each of the past five years, while Terry is considered now as nothing more than an NFL journeyman.
The same guy had an article the previous year on the same topic and a notable name jumped out at me: Robert Gallery, former Iowa superstar, top-five pick, and colossal bust. He also has T-Rex arms.
HOWEVA, Iowa pro-bowler Marshall Yanda's arms are 33.5 inches long, famous left tackle prototype Michael Oher the same. Joe Thomas is at 32.5, Jake Long 33. Arm length is marginal at best… at least when we're talking about guys in a narrow range from enormous to slightly less enormous.
Meanwhile, height is sometimes a… drawback? Again, talking on an NFL level where you can pick the top 1% of players, yeah. After Jake Long in 2008, the NFL didn't take a tackle taller than 6'6" until the 2011 draft, when it was so odd that there were so many huge guys that Mike Tanier wrote an article about it:
One scout I spoke to in Indianapolis said that diminishing returns kick in once an offensive lineman reaches the dimensions of an NBA power forward. “They have to keep working to bend at the knees, to not pop up at the snap,” he said. “They can’t ever let up on their technique.” …
Several of this year’s tall tackles are not just long, but lean. Castonzo has a classic lineman’s build, with a lot of mass in his thighs and butt, but Carimi and Solder have relatively narrow trunks. Their “high cut” bodies create even more leverage issues. Carimi, in particular, gets too narrow when run blocking: defenders can turn him sideways and slide around him. Carimi is so strong and athletic that teams will be willing to work with him to perfect his technique, but his size may never convert to NFL strength.
Giants Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Castonzo (Boston College), and Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin) all went in the first round, but so did three 6'5" guys. You'll note that Michigan's recruiting is heavily biased towards 6'5" high school tackles who have half the scouts pegging at tackle, half at guard.
Tanier does note that super long arms are, in general, a help, and that blocking techniques are designed with the assumption you're going up against a guy a couple inches shorter than you.
Here's my take on it: in general, bigger people are just harder to get around. A wider stance and longer arms gives a left tackle a bigger catching radius, as it were, to intercept pass rushers. When it turned out NFL teams were sending players of size X at quarterbacks, most of those guys turned out to be 6'3" or 6'4" and after some experimentation it was determined that guys a couple inches taller than those guys combined catching radius with balance. Balance is absolutely the most important thing for offensive linemen. Bigger guys with traditional lineman builds (ie, bottom heavy) take more force to get off balance than smaller ones, but only as long as they can keep a leverage advantage on their opponents.
Who takes the shot against Kansas and such, other than nobody?
With Trey & Tim leaving, who takes the end of shot clock and end of game shots for us next year?
I think McGary would be the obvious choice, but that can be pretty tough for a big man to create shots outside of the offensive flow. And it could pull him away from the basket and rebound opportunities. GRIII hasn't shown a lot in a way of creating his own shot. Walton would be an obvious choice, but he's a freshmen. Maybe some end of shot clock looks, but at the end of a close game? Same goes for Irvin. That leaves the other options as Stauskas (maybe?), Levert (supposedly a terror 1-on-1 in practice, but late game experience?) and Spike (not as terrifying as I thought a few months ago).
Who do you think becomes the regular closer out of that group?
Uh… I think they might go closer by committee?
There is no obvious answer there. McGary's usage shot up in the tournament but very little of that was McGary actually creating a shot—basically some jumpers from the elbow, a couple of sweet short-corner turnarounds, and his once-per-game two-dribbles-to-a-layup. Michigan never, ever posts guys up, and I don't think that's going to change. Meanwhile the other returning star had a usage rate of 13% and got virtually all of his baskets from Burke or off rebounds. Neither is a good candidate for late-game or late-clock hero duties.
With Michigan's emphasis on the pick and roll, it'll probably fall onto the point guard again. Derrick Walton isn't going to take step-back jumpers that somehow fall quite a bit; he's more distribution-oriented. Teams overplaying his penetration will find him kicking to Stauskas or Irvin or dishing to Robinson or McGary.
I can see three other guys possibly taking up the banner:
- STAUSKAS. Showed pretty good ability on the pick and roll, where he showed hints of a Darius Morris-like ability to find passing angles with his length. And you of course cannot go under unless you want punishment. Would take some development both on the bounce and as a distributor, but that's what freshmen do.
- IRVIN. 6'7" to 6'8" guy with an advanced pull up game already. By midseason will be able to get a midrange jumper whenever he wants. Prefer Michigan to try something else always, but late when refs are clenching their bowels and swallowing the whistle the midrange game is the part of your offense least affected by hacks.
- LEVERT. Yes, a stretch given his rough numbers and brief tourney cameos where he was unready for the moment. Seemed to be able to get where he wanted most of the year, small sample size, freshman improvement, and he should have buckets since he was both young and skinny.
This question is a "what we do without Burke" Q writ small, and the answer is "I don't know, but spread it around."
Site note: I mean, I was gonna do a Dear Diary today, but then the first item became this thing…
As you may have heard, Dr. Hamlet III has committed to the Michigan offensive line. Uninformative portion follows:
|Global Pork||247 Comp.|
|3*, 5.7, #29 C,
|5*, #1 pork belly,
|5*, #1 PB
|4*, 96, #6 PB,
|3*, #84 OL,
Those who ranked him as an offensive lineman are all "wait 'n see." Of those who classify him as a pig, only the National Pork Producers Council among the major sites lists Hamlet as anything but ELITE ELITE ELITE. He'll have a chance to change that in a couple weeks at their annual World Pork Expo.
It's worth mentioning that Global Pork lists every hog in its Top 25 as a 5-star, but will extend that to the Top 50 by the time it releases its final herd report.
Let's start with the negative stuff shall we? Simmons:
STRENGTHS Pad Level Hoofwork Toughness Drive Blocking Skills
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT Hip Flexibility Bipedalism Arm length OUTSIDE! DO THAT OUTSIDE!!!
Total hog! If there is any type of weakness in Hamlet's game at this time, it would be in his pass protection. He is solid there, but his biggest strength is run blocking right now. He drives opponents off the ball, he is excellent on the hoof, and he has that nasty streak you love in offensive linemen. Arm length and lateral quickness will limit his effectiveness. - Chad Simmons
This is echoed by Rivals' Mike Farrell($):
Powerful blocker who can get low and beat you off the hoof. Eats just about anything. Didn't use his hands much in drills, probably because he doesn't need to. Thrilled onlookers with a pitch perfect rendition of soliloquy.
Plays so low to the ground it's impossible for defensive linemen to get any leverage on him. Definite inside prospect since he doesn't possess the height to play tackle. High intelligence and build suggest a possible move to center. Not having hands will make snapping the ball a constant adventure, though.
As David Moosman showed Michigan can get by with a behooved ungulate at center, though it's hardly optimal. Anyway you see the theme across the services: Hamlet plays with excellent leverage, but is about 6 million years behind the rest of the OL in bipedalism experience and proper hand technique. Funk is going to have to start from scratch there.
Though an MSU graduate, according to his interview with 247's Steve Lorenz, Hamlet remains intensely loyal to Michigan ($):
HAMLET: "I'm still true blue through and through! You could even say I was weaned on maize and blue. Because I literally was weaned on a mix of feed corn and Blue Seal swine pellets." Hamlet told 247.
Lorenz also asked about his expectations and, well, he's probably not gonna be a playing time transfer:
247: How do you see your Michigan career playing out?
HAMLET: Oh, that's not up to me to decide. I'm going to go out there and compete, but my number one goal is to help the team any way I can. I'm here to get a Michigan degree, and to do whatever I can to help Michigan win football games, pure and simple. We've got an excellent, excellent group of linemen coming in and some of the best all time on hand right now, so I know it's gonna be tough to earn snaps. I embrace the challenge, and I think it will make us all better the more guys we have competing—if I bust my piggly tail for four years and that just makes another guy try harder to keep his job, then that's what I came for.
Humble, this guy. As you've come to expect from like every recruit in the Brady Hoke era ever, he's a wild animal on the field yet the kind of person you want in your home:
Everyone I talk to says he's just a fantastic guy. Really wants to learn, does neat tricks.
Hoke recruits, man.
DOCTOR OF WHAT?
Despite being less than 3 years old, Hamlet already has a Ph.D./MD from the Van Andel Educational Institute, through Michigan State. He explains how he came by that doctorate:
"Coming out of high school Michigan was obviously my first choice, but State was really the only college accepting applications from farm animals. I was planning on getting my bachelor's degree in Agricultural Resource Economics but a professor there turned me on to Gastroenterology and it was love at first endoscopy.
"After one digestive performance they said I was a natural and put me in the doctoral program and I graduated in a few months. It was pretty easy, to be honest. "
Because he technically graduated from high school just a year ago, Hamlet still has all four years of eligibility remaining.
Dr. Hamlet III is a Vietnamese, better known as a "pot-bellied pig." As such he has the distinctive tall forehead, high ears and straight tail. He also appears to have the breed's distinctive swayed back (and corresponding pot belly that gives the species its name). His bloodlines suggest he can put on a LOT of weight, and his food intake will need to be closely monitored.
The sites agree that he's between 3'2" and 3'3", and between 90-100 lbs. That's about normal for his breed at this stage in life. He should be able to hang a good 20-30 more pounds on that frame.
MSU, Nebraska, Iowa State, and Thorn Apple Valley. Reported interest from Wisconsin but committed before an offer materialized. Pork bellies have been steady at record highs since 2011.
Pigs and offensive linemen don't have stats.
FAKE 40 TIME
247 lists a non-food-aided 40 time of 32.25 seconds, but he was reportedly clocked at 28.22 seconds when a can of creamed corn was placed at the finish line. Since I just completely made that up just now it receives five FAKES out of five.
A Vine of Hamlet eating out of Kyle Kalis's belly button has been taken down, but this screenshot still remains:
Also: Junior highlights.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Obvious redshirt as he gains weight, adjusts to real college life from the farm/East Lansing, and gains instruction on bipedal locomotion. From there, who knows. May never develop more than an okay pass protection game, or opposable thumbs. High character, non-academic risk, seems 100% committed to Michigan, so not going to hurt the APR even if he doesn't work out. Best guess is four-year Academic All-American who'll provide much-needed depth at center, with an outside shot at starting his senior year. Otherwise he'll be an important member of the position group and an expert on blocking assignments. Every team needs a third-generation doctoral pig center.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
(Mathlete goes into greater detail). Dr. Hamlet III turned down purely academic scholarships in order to walk on the Michigan team, so he won't count against the 85 limit (his life expectancy is several years shorter than the length of his FAFSA loan). Adding a hyperintelligent pig makes the entire position group more awesome. Michigan players have been warned not to leave any impermissible benefits out where he can get into them.
ETC. Children of Yost wonder if he can skate too.