is there such a thing as an etsy genuis? if so, this is it.
Former ND LB Prince Shembo is in trouble yet again. People like this guy do not change. The NFL needs to drop the hammer on this guy.
With June days away, and the board under constant Nike v Adidas attack, thought I'd steal some Mr. Yost thunder and do a 2 deep for the defense for 2015. I was going to do this for the offense but as I looked over the RB, WR, and even OL positions it is really in constant flux - any number of guys could be starters or backups and even positions on the OL are not set in stone. So it's way more guesswork.
Unlike Mr. Yost who does this as a data set I'll add some thoughts and comments.
- SDE: Charlton OR Wormley / Charlton OR Wormley
- WDE: Ojemudia / Marshall
Other contributors (i.e. 3 deep): Godin, Hurst (?), Jenkins-Stone, Poggi**
Freshmen: Johnson, Jones
Lost in the Weeds: Strobel
Views: Of the 5 position groups on defense the DEs have the most variability and question marks. Depth is an issue - any injury could cause havoc. Or cause the team to go heavily to a 3-4 system.
Ojemudia played decently in spots last year but this will be the first time starting. Charlton is already a JR - he is one of those guys who you wonder if he is a great athlete or a great football player. One hopes he turns into the latter in the next 2 years. For now he has the "potential" label. Wormley intrigues me as he is a guy who can flex out to SDE and in a 3 man front could be an end. I see him as potentially being more impactful than Charlton but that's just an uninformed guess - he does seem to make splash plays and will be 2 years removed from his ACL this year. He could also play inside but I think the depth chart says we need him outside next year. If he breaks out, a lot of concerns for the DEs could go away.
From there the dropoff in experience is vast. Marshall is a projected backup WDE but right now that is based on no one else on the depth chart. He did make a splash play or two in the spring game but... it's a spring game. Godin is a plugger at the WDE and could also play inside at 287 lbs. Then you have a few not perfect fits - Hurst is more of a DT but with his "quick first step" and weight (281) he could play as a DE in a pinch. Jenkins-Stone was a highly ranked LB out of HS who has done next to nothing in his time at UM other than in spring apparently where he is always hyped as doing well. Then fall comes and he disappears. I don't expect much from him but at 240 lbs he would seem to be the 3rd WDE. Speaking of disappearing 4 star Strobel is a guy most fans probably don't even remember at this point.
**They seemingly have shipped Poggi to TE but in theory - in case of injuries - he could flip back to WDE.
UM recruited 2 freshmen in 2015 but it would seem - barring a lot of injuries - neither is going to be playing in 2015 at their current projected weights. Each could use 15+ lbs (i.e. a redshirt year).
- NT: Glasgow / Mone
- DT: Henry / Wormley / Hurst
Other contributors (i.e. 3 deep): Godin
Views: Having a strong 2 deep at the DT is a nice luxury for the 2015 team. There should not be much drop off from starters to backups. In fact if Mone and Wormley were starting at Utah over Glasgow and Henry you wouldn't bat an eye really. You'll notice Wormley here along with Hurst - these are probably their more natural positions but in a 3-4 they could be your ends (along with a Charlton type). Heck Henry might be an end in a 3-4. It will be interestng to see how it plays out.
Henry is tantalizing - he is talked up by the staff and does some very good things on the field. Then sometimes he doesn't. Have to remember he was only a RS SO last year - the next 2 years should be very good for him and the no nonsense staff should help any potential attitude issues (i.e. drive). Glasgow is a 297 lb NT - that's tough but (cliche time) you can't measure heart! He is not going to get you much in pass rush but seems like a very good run stopper. Mone makes hearts flutter and performed much better than Pipkins in these sets of eyes in their respective freshman years. The FR to SO leap for an interior linemen should make him a serious contributer this year and in the 320s he is a mountain of a man.
Wormley has proven pass rush capabilities from the inside and Hurst - again a young guy that it seems like we've been hearing good stuff on from practice reports for a few years - seems like he is ready to take a step as a contributor much like a Bolden did a year ago in the LBs. This sets up a lot of flexibility in pass rush options as you could have a big stout but still pretty effective pass rush group of say Charlton, Henry, Hurst, Wormley. Whatever the case the DTs have talent, depth, and lots of competition among talented players which should drive the group.
I've assumed with so much fire around his name, Pipkins will have be a medical...
- SAM: Ross / Jenkins-Stone
- MIKE: Morgan / Gedeon
- WILL: Bolden / Gedeon
Other contributors (i.e. 3 deep): Gant, McCray, Furbush, Wangler
This is a solid workmanlike group but it seems to lack elite playmaking. I'd also argue it lacks depth. And it gets downright scary in 2016 when all 3 projected starters graduate. (UM might take 2 grad transfers here in 2016 the way this depth chart looks!!)
Bolden seems like the most sure thing as a starter after he and Jake Ryan combined for an enormous amount of playing time last year. UM played a ton of 2 LB sets, essentially erasing the SAM position for large portions of games and going with a nickel. Morgan is a presumed starter at the MIKE but I hold out hope Gedeon is seriously going to push there. He is another tantalizing guy that we've seen splashes of to get our interest up but not over a sustained period of time. At the SAM, Ross is a mystery - a 2 year starter he entered 2014 expected to continue to be an undersized fast LB - but disappeared for much of the first half of the year it seemed like. One hopes he re-emerges this year - his size hurts him but with a guy like this if you can keep him clean he is one of the few guys in the LB core with serious speed. His backup is RJS but again see notes above - guy has been a disappearing act for 3 years so I am not counting on him. I really would have liked to see Dymonte Thomas bulk up to 210-215 lbs and take a swipe at SAM in his remaining 2 years at UM.
The backups are worrisome and injuries to this unit could be a big issue. Not recruiting an impact LB this class hurt as he could have been someone who was part of the 2 deep, especially at that SAM position. And it will hurt even more in 2016 when this team is probably going to be running out multiple freshmen on the 2 deep. With Winovich switched to TE (head scratcher to me) and Ferns transferring all you are left at from the 2014 class is often injured Furbush and Wangler. Can either help this year? They will have to in 2016. McCray is a MIKE type who has yet to really make any impact on the football team (was injured this spring) and Gant is a lightly regarded SAMish type. Again the worry is depth here - once you get past LB #4 (Gedeon) you open up a lot of question marks. The starting unit should be "solid" but it would be nice to really develop LBs other teams have to game plan for.
- FS: Peppers / Thomas or Kinnel
- SS: Wilson / Hill
Other contributors (i.e. 3 deep): Clark
The much hyped Peppers joins Wilson at the safety position. If Dymonte Thomas had developed as projected out of HS (or Hoke didnt stop recruiting wonderkid Montae Nicholson - grrrr), one wonders how dynamic a corner tandem of Peppers and Lewis could have been but that is not our situation. So Peppers takes over and is joined by a solid if unspectacular Wilson. There will be a learning curve for Peppers and a busted assignment here or there but one hopes the football IQ and pure athleticism helps hide that, especially by the time the conf season rolls around.
Thomas and Clark are sort of ... well meh for now. Clark played nicely vs App State and you have sugar plum dreams of a 6'4 safety but that was App State. When real competition rolled in Clark did not look good. Dymonte Thomas is a worry as a guy who will never reach his potential - this year should be a make or break year as he is already a JR and if he doesnt make an impact this year, your only hope is a Will Campbell SR yr miracle.
The 2 that intrigue me are Hill and Kinnel. Hill had a rough 2014 with all the injuries - he had supposedly won the starting spot across from Wilson and then promptly was hurt. He returned later in the year, but getting trucked by Connor Cook was a testament to the type of season it was. He still seems like someone who has good potential and a good year for him would help alleviate worries about the 2016 SS position. As for Kinnel, I am for some reason buying this kid's hype. He has great size at already 205 and is one of the guys I could see losing his redshirt with the inevitable injuries every team has in the secondary.
In nickel defenses one assumes Peppers moves over to nickel and Hill and Wilson are your traditional safeties. Unless Dymonte Thomas has a break through and can figure out nickel.
There is also a wildcard here with a guy like Moncrief from Auburn but he was a backup beat out regularly by other, younger players and frankly a prospect like Hill seems more interesting. But maybe he provides injury insurance if he were to arrive.
- CB: Lewis / Douglas
- SS: Lyons OR Watson OR Stribling
Other contributors (i.e. 3 deep): Dawson
Lost in the weeds: Richardson
I am expecting great things out of Lewis. It might not show up in the stat sheet if teams avoid him. Barring injury I don't see a reason to ever take him out of the game - the drop off between him and anyone else is vast, especially Douglass/Dawson types.
At the other corner the loss of Countess hurts. He wasn't a great player but he was needed depth. Lyons is an ok player (see my diary on him here) but not a world beater - that said Pac 12 QBs crush Big 10 QBs with the exception of OSU, MSU and most years of late Indiana. So he will have an easier job in the Big 10 facing Minnesota and Rutgers type offenses (err, excluding SuperGaryNova). But my hope is Brandon Watson beats him out. Watson looked great in the spring game but ... sigh... it was against our QBs and WRs. He has good size and if he beats out a veteran in Lyons it would be a lot like if Morris beats out Rudock - it would give you a nice floor as a backup and mean very good things for the new starter. Stribling is also there and unfortunately had a rough SO campaign. I thought he would show up last fall up 15 lbs heavier and ready to build on the very understandable mistakes of an unheralded FR CB. Instead he seemed marginalized even further by the coaching staff. And then this year shows up for spring at almost the exact same weight - again. Frustrating. 6'2 195 lb Stribling seems far better suited for Big 10 play than 6'2 178 lb Stribling. He is still a wildcard and I hope the new staff does more with him as he seemed interesting as a freshman.
Douglas and Dawson are not people I feel comfortable rolling out as contributors at this point. Hopefully they can contribute something. Terry Richardson falls into the Strobel camp - a 4 star recruit who has had zero real impact on football Saturdays - and at this point you can't really count on to contribute. Also I don't expect Washington to see the light of day - he looks like a player who really needs a RS year both from size and learning this position.
While Michigan's NCAA defensive rank was pretty decent all that does is rank teams by average yards given up per game. And that gives a major advantage to every Big 10 defense as the offenses - save for a few - have been anywhere from pedestrian to poor by and large for years. Advanced stats showed a Michigan defense which ranked around 40ish in the country and 6th to 8th in the Big 10 last year. That felt about right - and that was disappointing considering the defense was expected to be top 3 going into 2014. Even the things the team did right (rush defense) let the team down when needed (Minnesota). It wasn't a bad defense but it wasn't as good as it looked on paper. The end of 1st half implosions also caused us to pull out our hair.
While the NFL losses are significant (specifically Ryan and Clark) better position coaching should help as will any reversion to mean in the turnovers caused which was abysmal in 2014. The entire team had 5 INTs last year; multiple DBs on other Big 10 teams had more than our entire team. Fumbles caused was also pathetic. Just adding 8 more TOs a year by this unit - which would just be a "normal" year, should help change the field and make the defense "feel" better. I dont buy the "defense was on the field too long" argument at all for last year's failures - Michigan not only had the ball over 30 minutes a game on offense they also played at a very slow pace in real time terms. Lack of dynamic playmakers and ability to flip the field hurt more.
The 2015 defense should also be interesting in terms of formations - while others have said the type of "3-4" Durkin runs won't be a sea change the position flexibility of a few players on the DL (Charlton, Wormley, Henry, Hurst) should make for interesting post game analysis. The obvious strength are the DTs with a potential pair of top end DBs - Peppers still needs to prove it on the field vs non MAC competition. LBs seem solid if not game changers. Finding solutions at the 2nd CB and DEs are the key - pressuring the QB is probably going to be the #1 issue for this defense. #2 will be depth at various positions - while one feels comfortable with the starters at most spots, the backups are either unproven or proven to be a significant step down, esp in the back 7. So when injuries do hit - can we get servicable production from the next guy on the totem pole?
A 3 sentence article, so no need to click the link.
Vegas has the over/under on wins at 7.5 (not too surprising), and has us as 3.5 point dogs to MSU. The Harbaugh effect is in full force, considering they beat us by 24 last year.
Here's a great story. The Willis Ward Lounge at the Michigan Union was dedicated on Wednesday, with several members of Willis Ward's family in attendance.
I still get mad at how David Brandon resisted any effort to honor Willis Ward when the "Black and Blue" documentary came out. It took an online petition to get him to agree to let Ward be honored at the Michigan-MSU game.
The two players from the past I wish I could have seen play are Tom Harmon and Willis Ward.
Bill Connelly over at SB Nation does a offseason preview series where he does a write-up on every single D1 team and today he reached Michigan.
He does a lot of stuff with stats, including work on creating FEI and S&P+ (which Brian references with some frequency), so the preview is focused a lot on Michigan's statistical profile and the range of outcomes that suggests for next year. Nothing groundbreaking here, but it's always an enjoyable offseason read.
I'll embed the tweet below however, in a brilliant move, the satellite camp in Florida is a night camp being held at the Dolphins Training Facility and hosted by Coach Devin Bush. He happens to be the father of Michigan target Devin Bush Jr.
I know it was stated that the Fresno camp was at the suggestion of Caleb Kelly and he felt it was set up just for him. I now think he's right.