at least it's not just us?
Very Web 2.5 way to find this out but here you go via the twitters:
RT: @umhoops: RT @mikerothstein: RR: minor didn't practice, headache. Turner cleared. #michigan
Waiting on Witty now.
Also, Helmuth and Evans "may look to transfer" and did not practice today, which would be further blows to defensive depth, albeit ones that weren't looking to play unless there were no other options.
UPDATE: The Free Press is reporting that Evans and Helmuth are transferring:
“Good young men,” he said. “Sometimes that happens, guys think maybe I can (play elsewhere), I’m not getting a lot of reps and not up on the depth chart or something. I try to remind the guys the depth chart is not going to be solid until the first week.”
Also, Teric Jones has moved to cornerback.
Initial takes on that: once Helmuth moved from FB his chances of ever seeing the field without injury Armageddon were very low. Evans started the first game last year but was immediately displaced; neither were touted recruits and if the defense wasn't already very short on bodies it would be No Big Deal. But it is, and wow the number of scholarship players on D is vanishingly small. Jones' move, then, is a very good idea.
UPDATE UPDATE: News is saying "may"; next presser we'll be at so this interpretation dance won't be an issue:
Michigan's football team could be down two more players.
Junior linebacker Marell Evans and junior defensive tackle Vince Helmuth have asked to look in to playing at other programs, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez confirmed on Wednesday.
Normally the start of spring practice would have been a bigger deal around here, but the basketball team's late season push and 21st-century tourney debut relegated the football team to the back burner, which is a first for this blog.
Yes, spring practice has started. Get a load of our new savior at the gun show:
Vernon Gholston's got nothing on Tate Forcier. At some point this year when Michigan is flailing about in a fashion reminiscent of well, last year, keep this image in mind and think "he's just a freshman" to yourself over and over again. Apparently Forcier spent 100% of his time getting quarterback tutoring and 0% of it picking things up and putting them down, which is all well and good until someone snaps him in half.
But, hey, the news isn't all bad. Friend of blog and practice attendee Craig Ross:
Forcier’s arm is stronger than I thought it would be. Most of the balls he threw looked pretty crisp. He looked terrific in the drills. Running right or left he puts the ball on the money. I didn’t see him throw a poor ball.
And of course there's the other guy:
I felt Nick Sheridan looked better than last year at this time.
Woo! A roundup of other items:
- Toney Clemons is gonzo. See the previous post.
- So is Andre Criswell. He'll be a grad assistant. He was a fifth year senior, so that doesn't change your scholarship projections for the 2010 class.
- Adam Patterson got his redshirt. He is now a junior, which removes a scholarship from the 2010 class and reduces the urgency at DT and DE. Michigan is still waiting on word about Kenny Demens. That should be a formality
- Mouton and Shaw aren't participating. Also, Tim McAvoy has been out with an ankle issue. Ricky Barnum has a wrist issue he's playing through.
- Steve Schilling is probably moving to guard and Patrick Omameh is legit. Intermittent friend of blog and general correspondent Craig Ross has attended some of the sections of practice open to the media and reports that the apparent first-team offensive line reads like so from left to right, with changes from last year bolded: Ortmann, Schilling, Molk, Moosman, Omameh.
Ross elaborates: "I was told by one media guy that Schilling asked for the move and so far it has worked out. RR talked briefly to the media and said that it seems likely "Schilling will stay at guard." Barnum is running at LG with the second team---or was this AM at least."
That fits with the practice buzz over the last year that had Barnum and Omameh closest to the field amongst the freshmen; you can pencil Omameh in at RG in 2010 if you want to get seriously premature.
Things That Are As Factual As Rosters Ever Get
- Anthony LaLota is pretty small. He's listed at 6'4", 235, which is not ready for primetime on the defensive line. Redshirt beckons.
- Junior Hemingway is crushing your head. 6'1", 226. Dang, man, hope you can still run.
- Vince Helmuth is on the Gabe Watson diet. Helmuth got up to 299, which probably bodes unwell for his shot at playing time. VB noted he looked "tiny for a DT," which means he'd be better served being quick instead of flabtacular. Rodriguez made a comment about his conditioning at the press conference. Sounds like he's unlikely to see the field.
- Kenny Demens seems field-ready. The roster has him at 237; at 6'1" that's pretty hefty.
- Smith: quarkback. We got ourselves another kid who can do a credible impression of Paper Mario: 5'6", 158 pound Vincent Smith. Hopefully this one doesn't get concussed into oblivion.
Position switches, or not position switches, or things that may or may not be position switches
- Brandon Hawthorne is running with the defensive backs. I said he was safety-sized, but I didn't actually expect he would be a safety. Blip or serious "what?" moment? Eh… survey says blip. Varsity Blue attended a Rodriguez presser at which the headman said Hawthorne is expected to be an outside linebacker.
This is more fuel for the fire of this spread-combating LB/S hybrid sort, FWIW.
- Ferrara is still on the OL. Given the sudden reversal in depth on the two lines—the defense has seen two starters depart and two recruits fail to sign while the offense gets six-count-em-six redshirt freshmen to play with—this may not last. But word is the coaching staff likes Ferrara's potential on offense more than they do on defense; a switch back would be an ominous indicator about the defensive line.
- Stevie Brown is sort of a linebacker. This will meet widespread joy, I'm sure, though it does beg the question "who the hell is going to play safety?"
- Steve Watson is doing okay at DE. I still think he's a longshot to contribute what with the move and all, but he's a high motor individual.
Something Not Particularly Fact-Like
You might remember defensive ends like James Hall and Juaquin Feazell—who should be referenced whenever the opportunity arises just so you can say "Juaquin Feazell" as mellifluously as possible—being listed as the "RLB" or "rush linebacker" during the heyday of Jim Herrmann's tenure at defensive coordinator. These folks were no more linebackers than your average defensive end. That nomenclature was a holdover from days when Michigan did actually have a "rush linebacker" that lived on long after Michigan had departed from the land of the hybrid 3-4.
This style of defense has worked in the Big Ten recently. You may remember Penn State deploying one of its many, many talented linebackers as a standup DE in a year when injury and malfeasance had robbed them of their standard complement of edge-rushing terrors. I think it was 2006. Though it was an ad-hoc solution to a severe personnel deficiency, at the end of the year Penn State's defense occupied its customary position near the top of the Big Ten rankings.
Word around practice is that Michigan is going to adopt something similar, with a lighter DE dubbed the "spinner" who can move around and play with his hand down or up. Or at least they're practicing it to see if it's a good idea.
Persons you might see do this: Steve Watson is practicing there along with a couple of the thicker linebackers—Evans and LaLota have been mentioned. This corresponds with other rumors to the effect that Adam Patterson and Ryan Van Bergen may end up as three-tech (i.e., penetrating) DT sorts, if not permanently than on an occasional basis.
Of course, this could all be declared a bad idea and shelved before fall until the Purdue game. But it's worth knowing.
Actually. I may be excessively paranoid about Michigan's chances to make the tournament. Joe Sheehan of Basketball Prospects may be a whinging prat about the Big Ten, but I like his ordering of the bubble:
San Diego State
Temple …(and so on and so forth)
Leaving aside the idea that it's preposterous to put Auburn, which has done nothing in the nonconference except lose to Mercer and plays in an almost literally unbelievably bad SEC, ahead of Minnesota and its neutral court win over Louisville: Michigan in front of all those teams bodes well. That is lock-even-with-Iowa-loss right there.
But we have to return to the whinging. This is an incredibly stupid argument:
The middle of this conference is larded with mediocrity, not parity, with records inflated by the 1-17 team at the bottom (of the muddled middle, only Michigan was denied two free wins over the marginally Division I team)
…when combined with this argument:
I can't put excessive weight on the head-to-head matchup because of the lack of a return game. Hey, Big 11, here's an idea: instead of everyone playing two Horizon/MAC teams, play a full round-robin.
Every conference has a bottom feeder or three and the Big Ten's records aren't "inflated" any more than the Pac-10 records are by teams in Oregon or Big East records are by St Johns and Depaul and so forth and so on. Also, how can you bitch about the Big Ten's lack of a full round robin every power conference save the Pac-10 lacks one? The SEC and Big 12 don't even play 18 games! If you want to argue against the conference, fine, but please bring at least one non-idiotic reason. So suffice it to say I'm not putting a huge amount of stock into that ordering.
File under "duh": Cornell, ETSU, UNI, Radford, Morehead St., Siena, VCU, UT-Chattanooga, UNC, Duke, Wake Forest, Clemson, Florida St., Boston College, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas A&M, Texas, Oklahoma St., Michigan St., Illinois, Purdue, Ohio St., Wisconsin, Michigan, Washington, UCLA, Cal, Arizona St., UConn, Pitt, Louisville, 'Nova, Marquette, Syracuse, West Virginia, LSU, Tennessee, Xavier, Dayton, Memphis, Gonzaga, Butler, Utah, BYU.
That's 46 teams. A couple of these teams could conceivably miss (the Ohio St./Wisconsin loser, Michigan, maaaaaaaybe Dayton) but regardless I don't see any way Auburn "passes" any of them.
So that's good. Also, Western Kentucky did secure the Sun Belt autobid and remove their remote at-large hopes from relevance. Bad: Cleveland State took out Butler last night and secured themselves what appears to be a 13 seed. The bubble has shrunk by one team; from the sounds of it right now that's St Mary's spot. The spot of St Mary's. Attempting to turn a possessive into a possessive argh.
On the (slightly relieving) side of things, both Cincinnati and Georgetown saw their tourney aspirations die with thudding losses against Big East doormats. Notre Dame scraped by Rutgers, keeping their remote hopes alive.
Tonight's games of relevance, with your new favorite team bolded:
- DePaul vs Providence, noon. DePaul sucks and went 0-18 in the league this year, but they took out Cinci yesterday and would put a stake through the heart of any Providence at-large hopes if they could pull another upset.
- Baylor vs Nebraska, 12:30 PM. Epke Udoh will enjoy a view from the bench of a 5-11 Big 12 team; M would like Nebraska's faint at-large hopes to flatline.
- West Virginia vs Notre Dame, 7 PM ESPN. The Nonconference Teams Who Hate Michigan Bowl tips at 7; Notre Dame's tourney hopes would go from flatline to vaguely-possible-with-one-more if they pull the upset.
- Iowa State vs Oklahoma State, 7 PM. Eh… Oklahoma State is likely in but if they blow it here they could be in trouble.
Most of your mojo thoughts should be dedicated to a Notre Dame loss. I guess Providence imploding versus DePaul would be the most helpful, but your weird juju rituals are more likely* to swing the result of the ND game.
Tomorrow all this becomes almost totally irrelevant or very, very relevant indeed; if it stays relevant 1) want a blankie and possibly a gun and 2) there are a ton of relevant games.
*(and by this I mean, of course, "not more likely," or at least I did until Sri Lanka happened. Now I believe in everything. Aaargh! What's that! I don't know, but I'm terrified of it!)
Presserizing. Michigan's about to start spring practice and there have been a few injuries and roster adjustments:
Rodriguez confirmed the injuries reported recently — Jonas Mouton (shoulder) and Michael Shaw (sports hernia) — will miss the spring. Offensive lineman Ricky Barnum will play through a wrist problem. … Rodriguez said tight end Steve Watson is switching to defensive end.
No offense to Watson, but that sounds like the death knell for his future as a potential contributor. He's a longshot to ever see meaningful playing time, a la Quintin Patilla, fullback.
Rodriguez said he’s thinking about trying to break the national attendance record for a spring game. Alabama reportedly had about 92,000 two years ago.
That would require… I don't know what. An actual game, for one. And good weather. And pretty much a 180 degree flip from the way the Spring Game was promoted and marketed under Carr, and by "promoted and marketed" I mean "detested and ignored."
Other news from the press conference concerned medical redshirts: Junior Hemingway has his, which we knew, and they applied for redshirts for Kenny Demens and Adam Patterson but haven't heard back yet. Those things are mostly a formality, AFAIK; that would make Demens a freshman and Patterson a junior. There have been rumors Patterson will move inside given the lack of depth at DT, but there's a similar lack of depth at DE. Also:
Vince Helmuth could move from DT to DE if he gets in shape — playing DT gave him “the free reign to eat,” and he “went overboard.”
Also, there is a "noticeable difference" in the size and strength of the guys on the OL according to Barwis. Eeee. Liveblogging at the Daily for more details.
Update 11/30: Wooo! It's back. With the long delay just assume a lot of changes. I've removed a whole host of guys who have committed elsewhere or fallen off the radar and added a separate host, including FL CB Doug Wiggins, OH LBs LeBron Daniel and Jermale Hines, TX LB Brandon Herron, KS LB Austin Panter, CA DT Da'John Harris, and VA CB Cris Hill.
Updates on: AL ATH Marquis Maze, CA RB Curtis Shaw (Michgan and Washington lead), CA CB Michael Williams (still deciding between Michigan and ND), MI FB Vince Helmuth (early enroll), Junior Hemingway (tough mofo, 73 catches for 938 yards and 13 touchdowns, team plays for state championship tonight).
Editorial Opinion: The board is totally reshaped. The most notable change is at linebacker, where Michigan appears to be scrambling. They've got offers out to a number of three stars who are considering teams like Nebraska and Wisconsin and Iowa, certainly not shabby but also not OSU or USC or Florida. They've also started expressing an interesting in a couple JUCOs, which is unprecedented. The last JUCO at Michigan was Russell Shaw almost ten years ago.
The best prospect out there is probably Cleveland Glenville's Jermale Hines -- yes, that is the den of iniquity run by Ted Ginn, Sr. His recruitment looks simple: if OSU offers, he'll go to OSU. If they don't, he'll go to Michigan. He's got a low ACT score, which makes OSU and their dangerously low APR leery. Michigan and its shiny high score can take chances on kids like Hines because they have built a buffer with good academic performance. So, like, hope his ACT score doesn't go up. Recruting... it's faaaaantastic!
Second best according to the gurus would be KS JUCO Austin Panter, a speedy and large middle linebacker who played for the tiniest of tiny high schools and decided to go JUCO for development and publicity reasons more than academic concerns. He's a good student and a likely offeree when he comes on his official visit this weekend.
Then you've got a mass of indistinguishable three stars I won't be excited about until I talk myself into it after they commit: Brandon Herron from Texas, Ronnie St. Fleur from Florida, and LeBron Daniel, also from Glenville.
Good news/bad news on Marquis Maze. He's missed the last six games with an injury (bad) and visited Tennessee (good, since he came back still committed and that shows serious interest on the part of UT).
Michigan's continued interest in CA RB Curtis Shaw is puzzling with 16 commitments already locked up with at least one pure running back, Avery Horn, committed and two high-profile guys in the last class. Maybe Shaw or Horn is a potential DB?
The picture at OL is clearing up. The only guys being consistently mentioned are AZ OG Javorio Burkes, NY OT John Elliot, and OK OT Matt Romine. All three are kind of big deals -- latter two top 100, Burkes a top 250 to Rivals -- and are geniunely interested. Romine's down to ND, M, and Oklahoma. Elliot has a selection of academically rigorous eastern schools that are a little light in football tradition (Rutgers, UVA, BC), West Virginia, and Michigan.
There is also the matter of Michigan's most recent commitment, Grand Rapids CC OT Mark Huyge, who Michigan snatched from the clutches of directional Michigan schools with an offer. This set off alarm bells, but it's longstanding MGoBlog opinion that OL is the weirdest of all positions to rank and Huyge is a sleeper in the traditional sense. A year ago, he weighed 220 pounds (you'll have to scroll down). An impresssive camp and similarly impressive senior film -- now at 280! -- resulted in an offer. It's a reach, sure, but not a huge one. Pun not intended. It's not even pronounced like that. His coach extols his virtues in this MLive article:
"Where Mark made his impression was last summer at the Michigan camp," Catholic Central coach Tom Passinault said. "The coaches were actually watching the pass rushers, but they saw him on the offensive line and they were surprised that he was from Michigan. They like his frame at 6-6 and they like his versatility. Their linemen move around a lot and Mark is good on his feet.
No one's evaluated him... it'll be interesting to see what he gets rated if/when ESPN gets around to him.
At corner, Michael Williams has visited ND and Michigan and could decide at any time. Remember, Michael: Notre Dame hates America. Delightfully-named Doug Wiggins is kind of a big deal and is down to Georgia and Michigan. Remember, Doug: Notre Dame hates America. Also you should come to Michigan.
OMG shirtless defensive ends Everson Griffen and Martez Wilson have suddenly refound their interest in Michigan. Griffen's down to USC and Michigan, though USC is widely hailed as the lockiest of all locky locks here; Wilson suddenly shifted course, dissed ND (woo!), and declared Illinois, OSU, and Michigan his leaders. There have been crazy rumbles he wants to play wide receiver instead of defensive end and ND getting back into it and Illinois leading and generally just all sorts of wack stuff. So whatever. Pants. Wilson is the guy Brent Musberger claimed was going to Ann Arbor during the USC-ND game-type substance, for what that's worth. Moments later he claimed that the road to Glendale was paved with Trojans. So he was probably wasted.
Scholarship stuff: we have sixteen commitments and nineteen available scholarships. The latter number is sure to go up due to transfers (Doug Dutch is a good bet, for one) and a couple of guys not coming back, whether it's because they're leaving early for the NFL draft or they're not contributors. I would guess a class from 22-25.
The remaining commitments will probably break down like this:
- 0 or 1 RBs. Probably 0.
- 1 or 2 OL.
- 2-3 DL
- 2-3 LB
- 2 CB
Did I miss anything? I put recruiting on the backburner during the season and probably have some holes. Keith or whoever... corrections/omissi ons/missing tea leaves?