chance of bowl: 13.6%
Your humble blogger had the opportunity for LIVE and IN PERSON interviews with Devin Gardner, Austin White (right), and junior wide receiver DeAnthony Arnett yesterday at the Michigan High School Football Media Day. Austin showed up in his Michigan Elite Camp T-shirt. Devin was an hour late, but rockin' an EA Sports All-American T-shirt with his Michigan gym shorts.
Senior Season... and Beyond
Gardner, previously known as a run-first QB, has worked hard to improve his passing in the offseason. Previously a sidearm thrower with an erratic motion, Gardner's gone a long way towards fixing his delivery via "lots of repetitions, exaggerating having my arm up high, and continuing to throw." Gardner's newly consistent delivery saw him named the best participants at the Elite 11.
Ever humble, though, he didn't want to put himself ahead of any other guy there. When prodded, he did compare himself to Dennis Dixon, with maybe a bit of Terrelle Pryor and Vince Young. "I'm a leader on the field," he said, "and I make sure all my teammates are giving their best, too."
White, one of Gardner's future targets, says his versatility is his most valuable asset—but don't think his pass-catching ability means he'll end up at receiver once he arrives at Michigan. "I'm mainly a running back," he said, "and that's what I'm going to play. I can split out and catch some passes, but running back is what I'm going to be." The Wolverines are getting a player who can come out of the backfield to catch, and come in motion, but not just a receiver.
Since both Gardner and White are committed to the Rich Rodriguez regime, both are expecting Michigan to turn their fortunes around. Both are expecting vast improvement as early as this year. "I'm looking to improvement from last year... and we can keep building on that," White said.
Gardner was even more confident about an immediate improvement. "It's gotta get way better than least year," he said, "I expect them to do well, Tate's a good quarterback, Denard, they're all good - even Nick Sheridan." Neither can wait to get on the field in Michigan Stadium, but Gardner could hardly contain himself: "Cameron Gordon, Teric Jones, man, I can't wait to get up there."
Gardner is probably going to wait a little while longer than he has to. Though both Gardner and White have thought about the possibility of enrolling early—and are making initial preparations to do so—neither plans to do so at the moment. Both would rather focus on their final season of high school ball and the state championship.
These days most high schoolers use social networking websites, and football recruits are no exception. Both Gardner and White communicate with other recruits on Myspace, though they try to avoid being too pushy. "I just talk to them like a regular person, " said Gardner. "I don't put them on a pedestal or anything because I didn't like that." White echoed that sentiment: "I recruit a little bit, but I don't try to pressure them too much, because it's just really what's right for you."
There is one fellow future Wolverine that Gardner won't talk to right now, though. "I haven't been talking to Ricardo [Miller] that much since we play in the first game," he said, "but after the first game we can be cool again."
And though the Michigan coaching staff has come under fire from one specific, angry direction about an alleged lack of focus on instate recruiting, the recruits themselves aren't fooled. "I mean, if you can play, they're gonna recruit you," said Gardner. "If you can't play, get your game up if you want to be recruited by Michigan."
Saginaw wide receiver DeAnthony Arnett is expected to be one of the top 5 players in the state of Michigan for the class of 2011. So what makes him a special player? "I'm very fast," he said, "very elusive, I can escape the jam with ease, I've got great hands, and I can get open whenever."
Arnett already holds offers from Michigan State, Michigan, and Eastern Michigan and claims no favorites.
BONUS video interview with Gardner on the tubes… also horses:
[Editor's note: MGoBlog didn't post that. We would have asked if he had the kittens in the stable.]
On Monday MGoBlog took a look at current commits unlikely to move up.
Rivals and Scout rankings are useful but imperfect, and early rankings are more imperfect still. Though Michigan freshman Taylor Lewan ended up a 4-star prospect to both major recruiting site, he entered his senior season virtually unknown. By the time final rankings had come out he was a four star well within everyone's top 150.
The following players look to be this year's Lewan and have some upward mobility this fall. Not all will move up, of course, but look for one or two of the below players to gain a fourth star, or, in Devin Gardner's case, a fifth.
MI QB Devin Gardner
|Ranking||DT QB #2||QB #6|
Why Here? Devin has been compared to Terrelle Pryor and Vince Young, so it stands to reason that he is highly-ranked. He took his team to the state championship game (in which the Vikings lost to East Grand Rapids), and put together a solid junior campaign both on the ground and through the air.
All of the recruiting sites like Devin, but none of them love him yet. Barry Brunetti is listed ahead of him among dual-threats on Rivals, and Gardner is still chasing that elusive 5th star on Scout.
Prediction: This isn't much of a prediction. Multiple Rivals analysts have stated flat-out that Gardner will be their #1 dual threat QB and comfortably in the top 100 when they take the Elite 11 into consideration. He has shown off his athleticism—and willingness to compete—by attending various camps and combines in the summer before his senior season despite his early commitment to Michigan. He has shown potential greatness at QB, WR, and even defensive back(!); his versatility is not in question. He killed it at the Elite 11.
Unless he completely tanks this season, anything other than 5 stars will be a disappointment for Devin.
SC QB Cornelius Jones
|Ranking||DT QB #24||QB NR|
Why Here? Cornelius Jones's junior season didn't go well. He got exposure during it, playing highly-ranked teams within the state of South Carolina in every game, but his team wasn't good. The competition (like Byrnes, the home of Marcus Lattimore, Brandon Willis, et al, who Spartanburg played twice) was. Jones ended up throwing just 1 touchdown to 12 interceptions.
Michigan extended an informal offer last April and followed through with an official offer in January. He was among the first QBs that the Michigan coaching staff extended an offer to, so they think highly of him despite the inexperience. There's something there.
Prediction: Jones' polish-to-talent ratio is very low, and his learning curve may be quick. A player doesn't have offers in the summer before his junior season if he's not talented (especially when he didn't even play as a sophomore). He's done much better in summer 7-on-7 camps, leading Spartanburg to a tournament final against Byrnes amongst a crowded field of quality programs.
Even if he can't prove his worth as a QB, the recruiting services might rank him as an athlete. If he can have a decent enough year in his senior season, he could end up a fringe 4-star guy. At the very least he should pick up a third star from Scout and get bumped up a bit in the positional rankings.
One heartening item: his high school coaching staff will have a year under their belt coaching as well. Last year was their first in Spartanburg.
TX RB/Slot Tony Drake
|Ranking||APB #16||RB NR|
Why Here? Drake is the sort of guy who can excel in the Rich Rodriguez offense, but isn't likely to be considered for a high ranking by the recruiting sites. He's a speedy little bastard who performs despite his diminutive stature, and probably wouldn't last long in the NFL.
Drake was productive as a receiver as a sophomore, but was relegated to a backup running back last year.
Prediction: He is at one of the right programs to have success at: Skyline routinely pumps out a talent, and is one of the most visible high school teams in the nation. The stage is set for Tony Drake to take a big leap forward.
Now he just has to perform. Being named second team all-district at WR as a sophomore proves he might have the skill to get it done. I was pretty dubious on Drake's ability to move up, but there is an the opportunity in front of him.
OH WR Jerald Robinson
|Ranking||WR #43||WR #68|
Why Here? Robinson hasn't gotten it done on the field yet. A bad QB situation may have played a role in that. He is also a multi-position player that nobody knows exactly where to place. Originally, most Michigan fans thought he would play safety. After an impressive camp performance, however, nobody knows quite where he will play. At the moment, it seems like he'll stay at wideout.
If the quarterback situation at Canton South doesn't get better, Robinson won't have a opportunity to produce. However, if it improves, he can move up with a much better year.
Prediction Sam Webb was really high on Robinson as the best wideout at Michigan's camp, which was also attended by the likes of Ricardo Miller and Jeremy Jackson. That alone indicates that Robinson is an talent deserving of 4-star status.
With impressive performances this summer—and hopefully a better season as a senior—Robinson will have a shot at getting a fourth star on Scout, too.
OH WR DJ Williamson
|Ranking||WR NR||WR #106|
Why Here? DJ Williamson is unknown. Though he has a highlight film on Scouting Ohio, the recruiting services either don't know much about him or didn't deem him worthy of even a 3-star ranking until recently. Williamson committed early and has not attended any camps, so his exposure is very low. Scout and Rivals both have him at three stars (finally), but he is way, way down on each of their wideout lists.
There is upside here: Williamson has decent size at 6-1 showed elite speed by winning the 100m dash in meet after meet on his way to the Ohio state title.
Prediction: If Warren finds a quarterback to get the ball to him, Williamson's size and speed alone should boost him up to a high 3-star. Four stars is doubtful for a guy who hasn't put in the time at combines and camps.
MI WR/TE Jeremy Jackson
|Ranking||WR NR||WR #78|
Why Here? The son of a coach, Jackson got early offers from the likes of Florida and Texas before ending his recruitment early. He is a polished player as a coach's son. He had good, but not exceptional stats as a junior.
Players who have received lots of coaching in their careers but aren't dominant in high school, usually don't have the physical talents to be elite players. And with Huron moving to a veer option offense, Jackson may not have a lot of opportunity to prove that he deserves to be ranked among the top players in the nation.
Prediction You may be taken aback at first by the fact that Jackson is listed as a WR/TE. Sam Webb has been saying on the WTKA recruiting roundup for quite some time now that Jeremy is still growing, and currently looks more like a tight end than a wide receiver. With Michigan's new focus on athletic tight ends, they might encourage a further move in that direction. Jackson may have more upside there, and if the recruiting sites make this change in position, he could move up to a 4-star prospect.
[Editor's note: I would have slotted Jackson in the other group; he's polished and slow-ish, two things that don't often result in big senior-year moves. Also: high school to run a veer. To be fair, Tim's basing his assessment on Jackson as a tight end.]
OH DE/LB Antonio Kinard
|Ranking||LB NR||DE #55|
Why Here? Kinard is the third in the trifecta of tweeners Michigan has committed on defense (the other two, Ken Wilkins and Jordan Paskorz, were listed as “Stuck in Neutral”). He doesn't stand out on film more than most prospects, which leads to his 3-star ranking. And with two classmates a year older heading to Michigan, he probably got at his fair share of scouting.
But Kinard is athletic, as evidenced by his huge TD run in the game that I scouted with VB last year, and Duane Long also thinks he's got serious athletic ability.
Prediction: Kinard wasn't highly productive on a defense last year that featured current Michigan freshman Isaiah Bell roaming the secondary. You'd think that an imposing safety like Bell would give Kinard more opportunities to make plays, but he didn't. He has the athleticism, though, the potential for big time production is there.
Unlike Paskorz and Wilkins, I think Kinard is likely to stay at LB. Still, I think he'll be a low-4 or higher 3-star prospect. A big move is unlikely for a tweener.
OH CB Courtney Avery
|Ranking||DB NR||CB #23|
Why Here? Avery, a star for Lexington High School for the last three years, is not underexposed. The problem is that he has starred as a diminutive quarterback. Avery only started playing on defense just this past year, but couldn't go full time since he was busy tearing up opposing defenses on the other side of the ball. Now that he knows where he’ll play in college, that might change.
If Avery was a couple inches taller. He could be a Troy Smith clone (not that Smith was a giant) and use his pinpoint accuracy and athleticism to direct Michigan's spread offense. Alas, he's not, so unless he's used for the occasional trick play on offense, he'll be a corner for GERG's defense.
Prediction Avery has some of the best upside in Michigan's entire recruiting class so far. Local observer Duane Long thinks Michigan got "a steal." Avery is just one year into his new position, potentially still growing, and was deemed good enough by Michigan's coaches to receive an offer at camp after a week of personal observation. If he can take enough time off from blazing through opposing defenses, he should be able to move up in the rankings. Avery's a quintessential late mover.
I am in the process of analyzing our numbers for 2009 and 2010 for a diary post, and I was wondering what you think the preferred number of scholarships should be by position. Going through the allotment of 85 scholarships, I was actually surprised as to how many I had left over. I felt that all positions had adequate depth, and still had about 10 left over. In my opinion, I don't believe we need 5 quarterbacks, or 7 wide receivers and 4 slots, but the other positions seemed adequate, and it made more sense to me to give an extra scholarship to these positions than others.
My rough estimate is:
Offense QB 5 RB 7 FB 1 WR 7 SWR 4 TE 3 OL 15 42 Defense DE 7 DT 7 LB 12 CB 7 S 8 41 Special Teams K 1 P 1 2 Total 85
What do you think?
Thanks for your help,
That appears to be an ideal scholarship breakdown; if so it seems heavy on the linebackers and light on DL and CB.
If you hold a couple scholarships apart for kickers you have 83 spots for 22 starting slots, or about 3.75 scholarship per starter. A breakdown based solely on that metric, with the numbers rounded to the nearest whole- or half-number that makes sense, gives you the following (chart?) chart*:
|Pos||Slots||Ideal||2009||2010 (Est)||Pos||Slots||Ideal||2009||2010 (Est)|
|RB||1.5||5.5||8||8 or 9||DT||2||7.5||5||6 or 7|
|OL||5||19.0||15||14 or 15||S||2||7||4||6|
|Totals||11||42||42||44 to 46||Totals||11||39.5||32||41|
Impressions from the chart:
The offense isn't too far off ideal numbers now and won't push far above them next year. The biggest discrepancy between the "ideal" offense numbers and the existing team is about four offensive linemen who happen to be tailbacks. I don't think that's out of whack. Michigan's always carried six to eight running backs. They get injured lots. They get tired and platoon. They don't redshirt much. Meanwhile, with linemen their sheer number gives you more leeway. The proportions and numbers on Michigan's offense this year look about right to me.
You know, except for the fact that two of the quarterbacks are the Coner and Sheridan.
Next year Michigan will add three scholarships to the receiving corps at the expense of an offensive lineman (maybe) and/or a few defenders, but Jerald Robinson or Cameron Gordon or someone else could send up on the other side of the ball, which would bring the numbers in line with a reasonable distribution.
The defense, especially the secondary, is creepin' me out, man. I slanted the numbers a bit towards the offense and the current team still comes up about eight guys short, with the secondary alone accounting for seven of those folk. Great googly-moogly. If Justin Turner hadn't qualified I'd be freakin' out, man.
I'm not too worried about the low numbers at middle linebacker given the way college football is moving; you can see the disproportionate number of tweener guys in the OLB/DE numbers.
Next year the scary numbers should come up. I assume Michigan will take two more corners and at least one more safety; they graduate no one.
Michigan's operating at something like ten scholarships under the limit this year, and the defense has taken the entire hit. But said unit also graduates exactly two players, so even if this defensive class is only ten—less than half a class that will probably hit 22 or 23—the numbers should be a lot closer to even next year. And that's without taking possible position switches, all of which are likely to go from offense to defense, into account.
The upshot: yes, this class is a tad heavy on receivers—shock—but not to the point that it will be a major drag on available defenders going forward. This year's secondary, however, is last year's offensive line in terms of depth and huge scary dropoffs past the starters.
*(Notes on the numbers: in certain spots I moved players to positions other than the ones they occupy on the Depth Chart By Class. This mostly took OLBs to deathbacker, which for purposes of this chart I'm considering a DE. Herron and Evans were filed as DEs; Ryan Van Bergen was filed as a DT. You could probably move Banks or Patterson to DT, too. Also: Nick Sheridan was included in 2009 but not 2010; fullbacks are assumed to be walk-ons with one getting a slot at any one time.)
You can see in the pictures of the construction that the glass and brick structures that will be the club seats and suites in 2010 are almost complete (at least the exteriors). Do we think we'll see a huge change in noise level from this season to last?
Thanks, and Go Blue
This is a topic that comes up all the time and to which I can only say "I don't really know." Back in '07 some Russian guys ran out an oversized metallic dandelion-looking device at halftime of the Minnesota game and exhorted the stadium to cheer. "Taking measurements," they claimed. Either that's an elaborate coverup of a Russkie plot or it's true.
A few days later the Daily made this remarkable assertion:
When Navvab and his team took measurements during Saturday's halftime, they found that the sound - almost exclusively from the student section - was 100 decibels, or the equivalent of a chainsaw.
With the skyboxes, which will stand about 10 feet higher than the scoreboards and further enclose the stadium, the sound level of the stadium would reach 110 or 111 decibels, about the noise level of a loud rock concert, Navvab said.
Decibels are a logarithmic scale; moving ten decibels up is equivalent to doubling the perceived loudness, a jump too preposterous to believe. On the other hand, I've been high up in upper decks—it's like being in another world; all the noise just goes straight up—and I've long thought Ohio Stadium's relatively vertical construction helped them hold in sound. And Michigan's boxes are both very tall and angled in towards the field.
It'll definitely get better. How much only the Russians can tell you, and we evidently don't believe them anyway. One thing it's not going to do is replace a bunch of crabby down-in-fronters with drunk Cajuns. Michigan fans will remain Michigan fans, and with that comes a certain level of posh. Michigan Stadium doesn't get fired up much. When it does, though, it does a credible job.
The proof will be at next year's Big Ten Media Days; MGoBlog will seek out visitors from any and all close home games and ask if they thought the stadium had gotten noticeably louder.
While Michigan fans can hope that current commits see their stock rise when Scout, Rivals, and ESPN update their rankings, players often stay stable or drop. In this look at Michigan's recruiting class, we'll see which guys have probably reached their maximum guru approval (or close to it).
MI/FL WR Ricardo Miller
|Ranking||WR #24||WR #19|
Why Here? When Michigan fans were told how good Miller was, it sounded like he was a shoe-in for 5-star status. Even the Florida rankings released by some sources prior to the release of Rivals' and Scout's official lists had him in the top 5 prospects in the state. However, when the major sites released their rankings he was a mid-4-star to both.
It's not from lack of exposure. Miller's situation (being a southeast player committed to a non-southeast school before the rankings came out) may have hurt him somewhat. Southeast recruiting analysts are likely to ding a prospect for being an early commit to a school from a different area of the country.
Prediction: Miller has moved to Michigan, so it will be an entire different set of eyeballs looking at him. If he blows up in the state of Michigan, it doesn't hold as much weight as if he had done so in Florida. Miller's move to Michigan probably helped him in terms of getting acquainted with the area, recruiting other prospects, and getting ready to enroll at the University. But it put something of a cap on his rankings. Miller will probably remain a 4-star.
FL S Marvin Robinson
|Ranking||OLB #11||S #10|
Why Here? Robinson has a lot in common with Ricardo Miller. Michigan fans have been hearing for years about how he would be a Locky McLockerson for both Michigan and 5-star status. He impressed at Michigan's summer camp as a rising sophomore, and ever since we've been hearing about how awesome he is. Eventually, the 2010 rankings came out... and Robinson was a medium-range 4-star. The only plausible explanation, given his apparent exposure, is that he just isn't quite as elite as we'd been hearing. If he isn't highly ranked by now, it's probably just not in the cards.
Prediction: He's listed at either OLB or safety, so if the premium sites can come to a consensus on his future position, it might help them figure out where he should be ranked. If he gets bigger, he could be an elite OLB prospect, but he has limited upside in the rankings at safety. Michigan has a perfect role for Robinson, either as a safety if he can keep his speed, a linebacker if he adds a bunch of weight, or as a hybrid if his physical development is complete. He doesn't have the speed that an elite safety his size would have (i.e. Taylor Mays). I think he'll top out near the higher range of 4-stars.
PA DE/LB Ken Wilkins
|Ranking||WDE #17||DE #31|
Why Here? Wilkins is much like Paskorz: a tweener that scouting services don't love. He's athletic and the services recognize at least that, giving him a 4-star ranking. His exposure should be pretty good at his school (trinity has produced a number of D-1 players over the years), so he is probably ranked where the services want him.
Prediction As a tweener, it's going to be tough for him to move up, despite the fact that his coach says he's more athletic than all of the D-1 prospects who have come through Trinity. Unless collects absurd statistics as a senior, Wilkins will probably stay right where he is: a low 4-star. The Quick DE position on Michigan's defense may be a more natural fit than conventional DE or LB spots. That should be encouraging to Michigan fans.
MI RB Austin White
|Ranking||APB #15||RB #17|
Why Here? White has torn through Michigan in the past couple years, but high school football in the state being what it is the competition has not been the best. Looking at Stevenson's results over the past couple years, it's not clear whether White's stats (which are very good) are a product of his team obliterating the competition or his exceptional talent.
Room to Grow? Literally, yes: White's a small guy who could use some time in the weight room. But he's also an established star at his school who's gotten a ton of combine exposure; there's no much secret about him.
Prediction: A good senior season can only do so much for White since he's smallish and proven. He may get looks at a RB/slot hybrid, and Rivals lists him as an all-purpose back, so showing off his receiving ability could give him a bump. But White actually moved down in the Rivals re-rank; not many do that and then bounce back up.
PA DE Jordan Paskorz
|Ranking||WDE #36||DE #59|
Why Here? Paskorz is something of a man without a position. Half lineman, half linebacker, he doesn't fit into lots of schools' lists of needed prospects. Still, Paskorz has some physical talent, enough that the recruiting services know about him. The bigger question is whether he performs on the field for his school.
Prediction Especially if he grows enough to become a true defensive end, and puts together a productive senior year, he can move up somewhat. The sites have pretty different opinions of him, so he's might move one way or the other. Scouting services will never really be enamored with players that don't have obvious NFL potential. Unless he gets more athletic or bigger in an obvious way during his senior year, he's stuck where he is.
TX RB Stephen Hopkins
|Ranking||RB #80||RB #57|
Why Here? Hopkins has been solid, but not great, against high-level Texas competition. He has led his team to successful playoff runs in the past couple years. However, he lacks that one attribute that really sets him apart. He runs tough, but doesn't truck the hell out of guys. He'll get to the second level, but not outrun everyone in the secondary. He'll put a move on you, but won't make most defenders go looking for their jockstraps.
Prediction: Since he plays good competition in Texas, if Hopkins has a big season of any sort he could move him up. But he has the exposure and body of work that comes with being a two-year-starter at a big Texas program and hasn't gotten more three stars from the recruiting sites. He might move up a little bit if he's able to put in the offseason work to increase his speed or toughness, but I'd be surprised if he gets to a fourth star. He should end up a high(er) 3-star, not far from his current ranking. Note that Hopkins disagrees with this assessment, stating he's been told a big year will get him a fourth star.
OH OL Christian Pace
|Ranking||OC #7||OG #36|
Why Here? Pace's film is impressive. He is an aggressive blocker who will drive defenders into the ground. However, he is limited from being ranked any more highly by his height. At only 6-3—which may be exaggerated—he does not have ideal size for a guard, nor does he excel in pass protection. Pace's team success may not have much bearing on his ranking, so even if they improve from last year's finish, he won't reap much benefit. He will probably not grow. That will always limit him in the eyes of the recruiting services, regardless of how impressive his film is.
Prediction Even though Rivals scouts drooled over his junior film, they actually moved him down in their recent re-rank. If Pace has a dominant year blocking (and his Scouting Ohio film certainly indicates that he's capable of that), he could move up to low 4-star status, but he had a dominant junior year and didn't go anywhere.
Pace seems a lot like current Michigan center David Molk, who is a short but effective center. In the Michigan system, slightly smaller but more athletic interior linemen can still have success (again, see Molk).
LA Slot Drew Dileo
|Ranking||ATH #58||WR #27|
Why Here? Dileo has been productive in his high school career, but perhaps his ranking is held down by a few factors: 1) His team is routinely a behemoth in its small-division Louisiana competition, so it's tough to gauge individual talents at times. 2) He is a 5-10 wide receiver. 3) He is a white wide receiver. None of these factors are likely to change this year, so look out. He has limited upward potential - but as with lots of little guys, that might not mean detrimental things about his career at Michigan.
Prediction Like I said, if the scouts don't already know about Dileo, it’s not because he hasn’t been exposed. He is likely stuck in neutral as far as his rankings go. The situation from last year won't change, and barring an absolutely transcendent performance (which doesn't seem likely), he'll stay where he is. Worse still, other players might be able to move up and pass him down the road, dropping his ranking even further than its current level.
Any news regarding the possible eligibility of Jason Forcier for this upcoming season? Any idea when we might hear from the NCAA and any conjecture as to what the outcome might be? I’m guessing (based on the fact we haven’t heard anything) that this probably won’t happen.
I’d sure breathe easier with an experienced backup to the freshman tandem we are fielding.
Thanks! Best, Mark
No, not really. The elder Forcier's transferred to Michigan and applied for the semi-repealed Mundy waiver; a decision has to be coming in the next couple weeks since fall drills start in mid-August. I don't know how likely a waiver is, and neither does the athletic department. I asked Bruce Madej about it; the response: "we have not had this before so there is nothing to draw from."
As far as breathing easier… while it'll be nice to have Forcier around for multiple reasons—can't hurt Tate's adjustment to college, for one—I'd be mildly surprised if he ended up above Sheridan on the depth chart. He's had little time to learn the offense and at this point has far less D-I playing time than Sheridan. Even if he does win the third (second?) string spot, if he sees the field it will be time for serious panic.
The tight end position and the slot receiver position look as though they will have more competition and more depth this year. From early reports both Koger and Webb are some of the most athletic players on the team. Odoms will have his hands full trying to keep his starting slot position with Stokes, Roundtree, Gallon and Robinson behind him. Do believe this added depth will create changes in which formations are used. Maybe two TEs with Koger and Webb or could two slots be on the field and that the same time to make bubble screens to either side of the ball? Thanks.
You'll definitely see some formations with four wideouts and two slot guys; Rodriguez went to that frequently at West Virginia. As you note, that will prevent defenses from cheating on the bubbles and hopefully add some variety. And it might not end there. Gallon, Robinson, and Teric Jones all spent their high school careers in the backfield, and thus might be better candidates to go from the backfield to the slot or pull up to provide option pitch guys on QB runs. Gallon's got a pretty accurate arm for a 5'8" guy; I have waking dreams about Gallon pulling up to pass a la Antwaan Randle El in that Super Bowl.
As far as dual TE sets… well, I don't know. At West Virginia, Rodriguez would move Owen Schmitt around as an H-back and that was it as far as TEs went. So he's already in unexplored territory here. If I had to guess, though, I bet he tries it. He's an inveterate tinkerer and likes to mix up some I-form and whatnot to catch opponents off guard; if he's got two tight ends there will probably be a game in which we see a change-up dose of twin-TE ace sets. They can run zone stretches from that, too. I also bet that at least one of the hyped tight ends falls a little flat, causing significant separation between option A and option B and that twin TE sets never make it out of the exotics phase.
Those will feature more this year but It's another new formation I expect will emerge in the fall: a 1TE 2RB shotgun set with Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor in the same backfield. Michigan showed this in the spring game with some frequency and it promises to be difficult for opposing teams to defend as long as both seniors remain healthy.
Though we all know July is a complete and utter dead zone as far as college football is concerned, I thought of a question to occupy our time that hasn't really yet been asked. With everyone under the sun making predictions about how next season will go, no one has really considered or elaborated on what effect, if any, this season could have on the current 2010 class coaches are compiling. You, and several others, have mentioned that a 3 and 9 season caused an understandable dip in recruiting, perhaps prompting coaches to widely pursue more players (some of lower rank) while turning higher rated players off on Michigan, etc. Though rankings aren't everything.
But, if 2009 goes the way of 7 and 5 or even 6 and 6, do you see a potential increase in interest from guys either on the fence about Michigan or turned off by the Wolverine's 2008 season. Basically, can success in 2009 win over 2010 guys currently not on the board? If so, who? Or with this summer almost in the bag, are recruits starting to finalize their decisions and close the door on schools they haven't yet considered?
Eh… not much. By the time it'll be clear Michigan has improved and Rodriguez isn't a dead man walking, 99% of Michigan's targets will have already made their decision re: Michigan. For one, there won't be many slots in the class even midway through the fall. Michigan will add maybe 7 or 8 players before February, and by mid-September they'll probably have half of those guys. A competent season could collect one or two guys who might have gone elsewhere, and that effect is pretty marginal.
Where you would see a bounce is in the 2011 class.
Through The Wolverine Blog I saw a link to the Bentley image bank library at UM. I was checking out team photos from throughout the years (which is awesome) and came across this photo that appears to have the team wearing three different jerseys.
Any info on what the deal is with this? Is this just what they wore at practice back then? Would love to see some striped throwback jerseys sometime at Yost. These are nice too:
I have no answers for Gabo here, but I figure someone out there might. What's the deal with Michigan's motley collection of jerseys here? It's the Great Depression, so maybe they didn't sell enough pencils to get a unified kit. The guys on the right appear to have eaten their shirts entirely.
I have read recent posts that you believe on some level 3-9 has contributed to not getting more *4* stars, etc. I don't want to get into the star debate but I do want to ask you a straightforward question.
If your argument is correct..give me an example of higher ranked guy(s) that bypassed UM because of last year.
Who basically dropped us or would have inevitably committed to UM but decided not to because of record? Gholston..MSU guy. I know your argument is going be that UM had to offer 'lesser' prospects..I disagree.
I think these prospects commit depending on the depth chart and playing time. Why would a guy commit to UM when he sees Stonum and Stokes? Why would a top rb commit when he sees Toussaint and White on the horizon or for that matter..Shaw and Hopkins. This is before we take into account the offensive scheme.
Remember, a lot of these RBs are downgraded because they aren't every down backs or NFL prospects. The star thing can be deceiving for certain positions.
Why would a top DL come to UM... so they can back up Campbell, RVB and Martin? You see a lack of DBs..hence a guy like Christian and Avery are willing to commit.
I see absolutely NO evidence that the record has had any impact. Now, if UM has another dismal record this year… I could definitely see a downturn. But I don't see mediocre recruits coming to UM.
Cordially and Respectfully, John Weiss
Well, the thing is: I don't think I can give you your example of a guy who said he wasn't considering Michigan because of their terrible record a year ago. It doesn't work like that. Usually what happens is a player talks about teams he's interested in for whatever reason and does not mention why the rest of college football isn't on his list. So the evidence is more circumstantial: fewer players listing Michigan, Michigan pursuing prospects further down the line, and so forth and so on.
I get your point about offensive fit and three stars and whatnot. I don't care that Christian Pace is (right now) a three-star on Rivals. From what I've read and heard—there will be more on Pace in the week's recruiting roundup—I'm convinced he's a perfect fit for Michigan's offense and will be very successful here, barring injury. But it's not like Rodriguez didn't immediately start racking up four stars upon arrival at Michigan. Seven of the nine recruits he finished Lloyd Carr's last class with were four stars on one site or the other, and the bulk of Rodriguez's first full class sported four stars. There seems to be a clear correlation between players the recruiting gurus are high on and ones Rodriguez likes to acquire.
It's also hard to argue that the real problem with Michigan's recruiting is the vast depth when 1) the depth on defense is actually terrifying, which is where the recruiting is most concerning and 2) Michigan was 3-9 last year.
There will be a dip in Michigan's final recruiting rank this year, and that will be meaningful. But it's not fate or anything, and strong classes on either side of it coupled with good retention will see Michigan through just fine.
I'm a longtime Wolverine fan who's lived near West Virginia for much of my life, so I'm familar with Rodriguez and his offense.
My question is this, without a Pat White (at least now, Devin Gardner/Robinson are similar) do you see the Michigan offense becoming more passing oriented in a few years? Obviously Tate can scramble but he's more elusive than speedy. And Rodriguez isn't filling his entire offense with 5"7, 170 lb Jock Sanders types (but a few), rather, a lot of different athletes (Je'Ron Stokes, Jeremy Gallon, Ricardo Miller)
Well, no, not in a few years. Retroactively, even. Last year when Michigan was flailing at 2-4 and the sharks* in the media were asserting that Rodriguez should have kept Lloyd Carr's offense despite not knowing how to run it and having vanishingly few players who knew how to run it, I noted Michigan's run/pass breakdown in response to a particularly ignorant assertion that Rodriguez hadn't changed his offense from his West Virginia days:
Yes, exactly like the West Virginia spread:
- WVU, 2007: 26% pass, 74% run.
- Michigan, 2008: 46% pass, 54% run.
This only looks "exactly like the West Virginia" spread if you have literally no memory for play proportions and sequencing.
This was at the absolute nadir for the offense. As discussed here and at Varsity Blue earlier this offseason, this was the point at which the run game became functional. As you might expect when the alternative was Threetsheridammit, the play distribution shifted to the things less likely to end with a punch to the face. Michigan ended the year with a 42-58 pass-run split. I didn't get the exact play counts here but it's a reasonable assumption that about half of the plays came before MINOR RAGE was instituted and half after: the pass-run split in the second half of the season was 38-62, which is veering towards Pat White territory.
That's run-heavy, but not run-insane. The play breakdown demonstrates two things:
- Rodriguez is not an idiot dedicated to run or die trying; he does the things that the situation calls for.
- His offense is naturally going to be run oriented for the same reason a Texas Tech offense is pass-oriented: that's what it's good at, that's why it exists, that's what gives the whole thing its extra savoir faire.
When nothing worked, the run-pass breakdown was about even. When running worked and passing remained Russian roulette, Michigan ran about twice as often as it passed.
So, yes, the Michigan offense is going to be more passing-oriented. That doesn't say much, though, when you're comparing it to an offense on the order of Navy or Georgia Tech when it comes to bombing away. But what you're probably asking is something closer to "will this offense approach balance?"
I submit that the answer is yes, because you don't recruit a guy like Tate Forcier as determinedly as Michigan did—remember that Forcier was already coming in for an official on the opening weekend of the season when Newsome decommitted—without intending to take advantage of his unique skills.
Your point about the diverse and sundry skill position athletes is also well-taken: when Rodriguez had the one NFL receiver he'd ever acquired on his roster, he bombed it to Chris Henry whenever he was out of jail/trouble. He will take advantage of talented players, and given that the possibly-unwarranted offseason hype is focused squarely on tight ends Kevin Koger and Martell Webb, you're definitely going to see a wide array of formations and plays Rodriguez never dreamed of deploying at West Virginia.
*(whale sharks, specifically: bloated, toothless, and only capable of skimming the surface for the easiest prey imaginable.**)
Given the number of commitments at this juncture, are you starting to worry that RichRod will oversign and then engage in the dubious practices for which you have blasted other programs? I think he may prove to be closer to Saban than Carr in this respect. Hope I'm wrong.
No. I got similar questions last year about the… er… colorful characters that dotted Rodriguez's rosters and recruiting classes—mostly the latter, as you could be sure that any four-or-five star who ended up at WVU had emotional problems that most certainly did not include pacifism—at West Virginia arriving in Ann Arbor with scimitars between their teeth, asking about the wenches.
I answered those in a similar fashion to what I'll say now: even if Rodriguez brought those guys in by choice instead of necessity at West Virginia—doubtful—the institution's standards override Rodriguez's and they get the final say as to what is an acceptable practice. Outside of the standard "fifth years are optional" policy, Michigan would not find that acceptable practice.
SNARKY ALTERNATE ANSWER FOR STATE/OSU/ND FANS: Rodriguez would have to not have 20 guys leave the team every year to even get in that situation, so no.
Good point on teams maybe being a bit more versed in how to defend the UM offense/running game this year. At the same time though, if Forcier is decent that should at least keep the defenses honest and have to respect the mid to long range passing game.
In addition, considering how inept the UM passing offense was last year, how much of the playbook did we even get to see? Now granted Forcier is a true freshmen, but if he can show that he's comfortable with some of the basic offense (particular the passing game), we might see the playbook expanded a bit more then we saw last year. Considering that Sheridan wasn't much of a passer at all, and Threet had problems completing even the simplest of passes, I can't believe that we saw very much of the passing game that RR hopefully has in his playbook.
Keep up the good work!
This was spurred by an earlier mailbag in which I expressed concern that teams would not be caught quite as off guard as they were last year in the Penn State game when Michigan flashed capabilities opponents did not realize were options.
I basically agree on all points: the mere threat of a competent downfield passer should force defenses to lay off the running game more, the incompetence of the quarterbacking limited Michigan's options last year to wheel routes, screens, and the occasional ineffective go, and there's reason to believe Michigan's offense hasn't shown all that much of its true capabilities.
All those positive factors plus the return of everyone on offense save the nominal, ineffective starting quarterback from last year's train wreck should easily overwhelm the familiarity factor. The main reason I brought it up was the extreme dip in the running game from 2006 to 2007.
In 2006, Mike Debord returned to his post as offensive coordinator/mgo-bete noire. He brought a radical shift in Michigan's ground game by installing the zone-stretch-heavy (in fact, near-exclusive) ground game that propelled Mike Hart to an excellent junior year. Michigan finished 21st in rushing yardage and averaged 4.9 YPC once you remove Chad Henne rushes that were either sacks, scrambles or sneaks.
In 2007, the same ground game with similar personnel fell to 47th nationally and saw their non-QB YPC dip to 4.7… which, actually… you know what? I think I just disproved this theory in my own head. Mike Hart missed significant chunks of the season, the offensive line got considerably worse if you look at the sack numbers and this mournful, muddled lineup of right guard starts…
Jeremy Ciulla (5)
Alex Mitchell (5)
Stephen Schilling (1)
Tim McAvoy (1)
Mark Ortmann (1)
…and multiple opponents got the opportunity to tee off on Ryan Mallett as directed by Carr and Debord instead of a healthy Chad Henne. In the Ohio State game the Buckeyes quickly figured out that Chad Henne's arm was hardly attached to his body, too. Despite all that the YPC of actual rushing plays only dipped 0.2 yards.
Nevermind, then. Viva the run game.