that is nice bonus change
file because I need to remember to shoot landscape
A number of players commented on the offensive side about how they enjoy having you on the sideline being able to communicate during the game. How did you think that went? Just talk in general about the pluses and minuses of being there.
“Well, you know, one of the biggest things when you’re down on the field you get a much better feel for the players, their state of mind. You can look them right in the eyes and get a feel for where you think you’re at from a mental standpoint and one of the things you do lose, you don’t get the visual effects you can see from upstairs. So, it is important and great communication from the guys in the box. Our staff did a great job, and that was something we talked about going in to the game and went back and talk about it yesterday. How we can do things better, what we did well just as far as a communication standpoint from the field to the box and vice versa.”
Against Appalachian State in the second quarter you’re already up by 35. Knowing that Notre Dame’s coming up do you kind of limit the playbook a little bit to save things for this week?
“As with any game we go in with a game plan and go in to execute the game plan as best we possibly can. Obviously we weren’t going to reinvent the wheel or do anything we hadn’t planned or talked about doing so we stuck with the game plan throughout.”
With coach VanGorder, you’ve gone against him before, you were at Alabama and he was at Auburn. Talk about that and obviously the personnel is different but how you might both be inside each other’s heads a little more than typical.
“Brian’s an outstanding coach. I have a great deal of respect for him. If you look at his track record and what he’s done throughout his career he’s an outstanding football coach sp obviously he presents a lot of challenges for you and that’s why we’ve been in the film room buried all day trying to find a nugget here or there to give us an advantage.”
What were your thoughts on the new look offensive line and especially Mason Cole and how he took his first college game in stride?
“I thought Mason did a nice job. Talked about it a little bit last week, nothing’s too big for him. He’s a young player and we knew that going into the game there were going to be some things that happened and obviously the one sack that occurred, but it’s not about the sack, it’s how you react to it. We talk to our guys a lot about ‘play the next play’ and it’s not about whether the play before was a great play or a bad play because it really doesn’t matter. It’s irrelevant now. Thought he did an outstanding job, very focused, very level-headed. Played a good football game.”
Brady said he wanted a little more precision out of the offense going into the Notre Dame game. What does need to be fine tuned or improved going into this weekend?
“What doesn’t need to be improved, I guess, would be the question. We’ve got a long way to go. I hit on it a little bit last week. Consistency in performance. Our ability to perform at a high level each and every day. We’re not there yet. We play well in stretches and at times we don’ do things the way we need to do them so we’ll get back to the practice field tomorrow and it’s important that we have another great work of practice and get better each and every time we go out.”
There was some talk in the preseason about maybe the defense holding things up while the offense developed. You didn’t want to hear that. Did you use that for motivation, and was the first game important in terms of your guys proving a point about being able to move the football on the ground?
“Every game’s important. Every play’s important. It’s about our players and we talked about our youth. Every time we go out it’s important that we focus and get better. I said it last week, we’re doing things better and some days it doesn’t look like it and you say, ‘wow, that was a tough practice’ or ‘that wasn’t the way we wanted things to go’ and then you go in and evaluate and you say ‘we did get better in this area.’ I talked about it, it’s going to be about us continuing to grow and developing that consistency to do it well on a day-to-day basis.”
[After THE JUMP: Devin Funchess hyperbole or just Devin Funchess eeeeeeeeee?]
file because I need to remember to shoot landscape next time
News bullets and other items:
- Jabrill Peppers was held out of the second half to immediately receive treatment
- Yet it was not classified as a boo-boo
- Delano Hill, Graham Glasgow, and Peppers are all expected to be available against Notre Dame
- Kyle Kalis’ back is fine
- Hoke said Ray Taylor may have played his best game at Michigan against Appalachian State
- Hoke took Devin Funchess off special teams. Funchess got mad, so Hoke put him back on
- Hoke said there’s a plan for how to use Glasgow
- All of the coaches mentioned a plan. Hoke said it’ll be a good one. No one cared to share what it was.
“Number one, thanks for coming out. It was good to get the win last week. I think one thing was, part of that was that the crowd was into it. I think there was a lot of energy. The students, I know our guys feed off that so it was a great energy throughout the whole game. That always helps you as a football team.
“We need to build off of what we did on Saturday and continue to get better and improve offensively, defensively, and in the kicking game. Offensively, we have to be more precise in the precision in our passing game. That’s one thing that coming out that the offensive coaches and Doug [Nussmeier] really felt that the precision needed to be better. That’s mechanics, route running, the spacing that you need to have.
“The interior of the defensive front needs to be better. They got some yardage in there as far as through the middle of the defense. Some of it’s just fits, some of it’s not getting off blocks. That’s going to be a real emphasis and needs to be. And then winning the fourth quarter’s always huge and we didn’t do that as a team when you look at points in the fourth quarter. Those things we’ve got to do a better job. Turnover battle- we turned the one over, didn’t get any turnovers. You know, you don’t want to play football that way. You want to be on the plus side of that if you’ve got a chance to win so that being said those are things we need to do. We’ve moved to a new opponent, obviously. It’s one of the great rivalries in football and we’re excited about it.”
Can you talk about how the offensive line graded out on film and will we see any changes this week?
“Well, the guys up front all did some real good things and did some things they’ve got to do a better job of. We’ll have a plan for what we want to do this week.”
With Jabrill [Peppers], it didn’t look like he came out in the second half. What was the reason for that and this week are you going to limit him at all?
“He’s been in there all morning getting treatment. We haven’t started school yet. We decided- I made a decision at half time because they could start treating it right then not to come out in the second half. You know, [instead of being] in a boot on the sideline start the process of healing. So we’re excited and we’ll evaluate every day but he’s working hard to get better.”
You mentioned interior defense. Have you guys had a chance to look at Notre Dame’s running backs at all?
“Yeah. We started that yesterday, yeah. I think that they rushed the ball pretty well against Utah State. I think that have two backs that are a little bit similar and one that’s a bigger bruiser guy and they ran the ball pretty well.”
So with Jabrill would you say he’s a question mark for Saturday?
“I don’t think it’ll be a question mark. I think he’ll be ready to play.”
Did he go yesterday with you guys?
You mentioned the offensive line. Where does Graham [Glasgow] settle in here?
“Well, we’ve got a plan for it and we’ll go through the week.”
Do you want to divulge what that is?
[After THE JUMP: evaluating the defense, scouting Notre Dame, and the inevitable Nussmeier-on-the-sidelines questions]
News bullets and other items:
- Jabrill Peppers was held out of the second half by the coaches because of an ankle injury. He’ll play against Notre Dame
- Devin Funchess asked to wear No. 1 and cleared the number change with the Kramer family
- No word on what position Graham Glasgow might play
- Hoke wasn’t happy about ASU being able to run up the middle of the defense and will make adjustments before Notre Dame
- Dennis Norfleet's nickname is apparently Fleetwood
- Brady Hoke "Well,..." count: 7
“Football’s geometry. It really is.”
"Good way to start the season. As I mentioned to you many times before, this team has worked really hard and they've done a nice job. I think the leadership throughout has been good. I thought we played hard. Was a little concerned in the second half when they had the opportunity and they were running the ball on us through the middle of our defense. We've got to do a better job there but I thought the kids came out and played hard. Disappointing [to have] no turnovers defensively and we only had one sack. They get the ball out of their hands pretty quick and that's just what they do but should've been a little more than that. Had some opportunities and you've got to make them when you're there."
Is there an area that you were more impressed with between the points scored, the performance of 560 total yards, or the fact that the rushing yards surpassed the passing yards?
"I think the biggest thing was that we weren't competing with the scoreboard, we were competing with our abilities. That's what we talked about going into the game in how we wanted to play and how we wanted to go about every down. Statistics are statistics, and you can look at them and believe them or you can look at them and know that that's not really the true answer because there's a lot of things this football team has to do better."
Jabrill Peppers' status?
"He'll be alright. I'll be honest with you, at halftime just decided not to bring him out the second half. It's not a life-[threatening] injury or anything. He'll be ready next week."
Talk about the decision to give Devin Funchess the number one and how he responded.
"You know, the young man asked me about it and I said it was fine and I said call a member of the Kramer family and that's what he did. Ron Kramer may have been the best player ever to play here, the best athlete ever to play here and so he talked to Kurt, his son, and Devin being more of a wide receiver now obviously, he decided that's what he wanted to do. And believe me, I asked him who's worn the number one and he started with Anthony Carter and went down the list so I think that's...he earned it."
How he played today?
"Well, let me look at his stats.
/pretends to look at stats packet but doesn't because he's Brady Hoke and statistics are lies
"He was a presence out there."
Talk about the importance of 100 yard rushers and [playing] winning football.
"Well, we want to run the ball and to have two 100-yard rushers is a good thing. We wanted that offensive line to play together. We talked about taking them out the series before the last touchdown but really they haven't played as much together. You know, Kalis missed some of camp. Getting him back in and playing with him and the combination with him and Joe [Burzynski]. Getting Mason [Cole] as many snaps [as possible], especially with a quality guard next to him, I think, was important. I thought Jack Miller did a really nice job with our offensive line. Between the communication I was very impressed with Jack and have been all camp. They did a good job. There was a sequence – a series, two series in the second quarter where we lost some yardage on a couple runs and that bothers me. I think we want perfection and that's good because high standards should be high. That bothered us.
"There were a lot of big runs in there. You watch Jehu [Chesson] block, you watch Darboh block, little Fleetwood block, I mean, those guys open up a lot of the big plays."
[More after THE JUMP]
|Kicker||Yr||Punter||Yr||Kickoffs||Yr||Punt return||Yr||Kick return||Yr|
|Matt Wile||Sr||Will Hagerup||Sr*||Kenny Allen||So*||Jabrill Peppers||Fr||Dennis Norfleet||Jr|
|Alex Mitropoulos-Rundus||Jr*||Kenny Allen||So*||Matt Wile||Sr||Dennis Norfleet||Jr||Raymon Taylor||Sr|
MATT WILE finally ascends to the starting job at kicker after a patient three-year apprenticeship while filling in at punter and kickoff specialist. We have very little to go on when it comes to field goals; he's spent the last couple years as the long-range specialist, hitting 50% from ranges such as 48, 49, and 52 before hitting a couple chip shots in the bowl game.
Kickers are weird and I can't predict kickers, because you can't predict molecules of air. That said, Wile will probably be fine. He's done a lot of kicking-type activities that didn't include field goals over the course of his time at Michigan and he's been consistently effective. Once you get past the bare physical minimums, consistency is your watchword and lifeblood; Wile has that. As the kickoff guy last year he eschewed blasting 'em through the endzone, instead trying to leave them high, short, and to one sideline. That ended up not being a great idea, but it wasn't because of Wile. That effort speaks well to his ability to put footballs in specific places after they come off his foot and is the closest thing to analysis you can get for a kicker no one has seen.
This section very well could have been "dunno; is kicker," I know. He should be fine to very good. But is kicker, dunno.
Unlike last year, Michigan is short on options after Wile. JJ McGrath transferred to Mississippi State this offseason, leaving previously obscure walk-on ALEX MITROPOULUS-RUNDUS as the second option. He was not real good in the closed spring scrimmage; when they brought him out to kick a few field goals he missed a bunch in a row. It got to the point that when he hit one it felt like a bronx cheer erupted from the rest of the team. Viva Wile.
[After THE JUMP: Norfleet! Peppers! I hope they matter!]
Not Just A Gimmick™, we hope. [Adam Glanzman/Special to MGoBlog]
For a player with a meager 113 yards from scrimmage in two years, Dennis Norfleet is the topic of discussion around these parts a whole lot, and that topic is usually "can we please get this guy the ball more?" This seems like an odd request to endlessly put forth regarding a player with 12 career offensive touches and zero touchdowns, but there's Norfleet atop the depth chart at slot receiver, and beyond that there's good reason to think he'll be a much bigger part of the offense this season.
Norfleet came to Michigan as the in-state recruit too talented not to offer late, even though he didn't fit the coaching staff's idea of... anything, really. He certainly didn't fit the MANBALL running back mold, nor the desire to head in the direction of fielding a receiving corps in which being 6'2" makes one a slot receiver. It felt like he was offered as an afterthought, and his usage in the years since reflected that; Norfleet would occasionally come into the game at the slot, get a totally surprising jet sweep, and head back to the bench to await his next special teams opportunity.
The problem with this wasn't so much the plays Norfleet was asked to run—getting a player that shifty in space is a good idea, and jet sweeps should accomplish that—but the obviousness of what he was going to do, and the fact that these plays often didn't fit into the larger scheme of the offense. This blog has extensively covered the constraint theory of offense—in essence, that an offense has a core set of plays, then "constraint" plays that take advantage of defenses overplaying those core plays—and that Al Borges went for more of a grab-bag approach.
Norfleet's longest career carry works as a great example of both the constraint theory and how he was misused, oddly enough. He broke a 38-yard run in last season's opener against Central Michigan when Michigan ran an end-around to him off a counter trap run; the counter action—especially the pulling right guard—drew the CMU defense to their right, and by the time the ball was pitched U-M's blockers had a very easy time sealing their men off from the real direction of the play:
This worked because Central hadn't yet learned that Michigan didn't ever really run the counter trap and that Norfleet's presence on the field almost certainly indicated he'd get the ball; it also helped that they were a 6-6 MAC team. Norfleet's runs after the opener weren't remotely as successful due to a couple factors: Michigan couldn't establish a base running game, and when Norfleet was on the field it was incredibly obvious what he'd do.
[Hit THE JUMP for the whole point of this post: how Doug Nussmeier can use Norfleet to boost Michigan's running game.]
[NOTE! This section uses the UFR catch chart. Passes are rated on a three point scale for catchability. 3: routine. 2: moderate. 1: difficult. There's also a zero for times when the player was thrown to without any chance of a reception.]
|Devin Funchess||Jr.||Amara Darboh||So.*||Dennis Norfleet||Jr.||Jake Butt||So.|
|Jehu Chesson||So.*||Freddy Canteen||Fr.||Bo Dever||So.*#||Khalid Hill||Fr.*|
|Da'Mario Jones||So.*||Moe Ways||Fr.||Ross Douglas||Fr.*||--||--|
[NOTE: though flex tight ends are listed above since they will fill some of the WR snaps they are addressed in the TE & Friends post, not here.]
It's not often you lose a guy who broke the single-season receiving record and think that things could get better, but it's not often you come across a guy like Devin Funchess, either. Behind Funchess there's not a whole lot that's proven but there are sufficient numbers and hype to believe that Michigan goes five or six deep in quality options, especially after Jake Butt gets back.
If things break right, this unit could hearken back to the Breaston/Edwards/Avant days where you had the NFL-level ludicrous deep threat, the possession ninja, and the screen merchant all in one receiving corps, getting all mother/maiden/crone in your face. It'll take some luck… but not that much luck.
everybody get up [Fuller]
The charade is over. Devin Funchess is a wide receiver, 100%. Not that you had to be told that after he spent 87% of last year split wide, faking bubble screens and occasionally catching them and oh right running downfield and leaping over dudes. Funchess put his hand in the dirt in passing situations only, and no one has tried to suggest he might do even that much this year.
This is pretty terrific. Michigan had a guy break Braylon Edwards's single-season receiving record and there was still enough left over for Funchess to rake in 49 catches for almost 750 yards. By the Big Ten opener he was just, like, running right by cornerbacks.
At the end of the year Michigan was handing him the ball on end-arounds and watching him nearly break them for touchdowns, if only Devin Gardner could ID the safety he needs to block. Oh, and this!
A man that large should not be able to move that fast. Take it from someone who played against him:
"I can't believe he's that big and that fast. He made us look silly. You can't get around him. He's just such a big body that he's going to block you from making a play on the football. …
"He could be like Calvin Johnson in the red zone. Just throw it up and let him go get it. I bet we see a lot more of that this year."
I didn't say it! I may have thought it, but I didn't say it. I did call him Minitron a few times, and I may have wondered privately about whether Funchess could be, like… him. But naw. I mean, Calvin Johnson ran a 4.35 at his NFL draft combine.
Funchess proved last season he's capable of being an elite-level receiver. There were some dropped passes here and there, but his combination of size and speed (he clocked a 4.33 in the 40-yard dash in the spring) remains unmatched on the U-M roster.
FAKE! FAKE, I say! That is not a real thing, because physics. Only… you know, it's only almost impossible. Because Calvin Johnson. And when you watch him go up against top corners like Stanley Jean-Baptiste, a second round pick last year…
…or Trae Waynes, a projected first rounder this year…
…it's just like… maybe I should make this comparison I should not make. Because he is smoking those dudes. Not every time, because it never happens every time, but enough. A lot. At 6'5".
BUT WHAT ABOUT HANDS, the bits of the internet with short attention spans ask. Okay, yes. The one catch was a late-season spate of dropped balls. He derfed three in the Iowa game alone, greatly contributing to Michigan's inability to move the ball. One of those was a very conspicuous one on a screen, and that is currently playing an outsized role in people's brains. Because the last thing that's happened is the thing that is always going to happen, Funchess now has a rep for having shaky hands. Once you see the first derf it is a natural inclination to start judging harshly, like when he gets hit in the back by Gardner because of a bad blitz pickup.
This is why we track the numbers, and the numbers say Funchess is anything but a problem:
But once you get a reputation in this area people start looking at anything you don't catch as a drop. This is probably one of the plays that stick in skeptics' minds:
That's crazy tough! That's low and behind him and it's only his freaky long arms and Brad Nessler that even give that pass the semblance of a drop.
Until the Iowa game, Funchess's catching ability was unquestioned. Don't let one bad game in the bitter cold overwhelm a large sample size that indicates Funchess's hands are in fact an asset, especially when you consider that the chart above doesn't take the fact that he's 6'5" and can leap over defensive backs into account.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FACT THAT CALVIN JOHNSON IS A UNIQUE UNREPLICABLE HUMAN WHO IS PROBABLY PART ALIEN AND BITTEN BY A RADIOACTIVE SPIDER, says the tiny bit of the internet with common sense. And… okay, well, yeah. You should never project anything at the extremes of possibility because probability is going to make you pay for that, son.
So Devin Funchess probably isn't Calvin Johnson. Michigan should try to prove that assertion wrong. Expect something between first team All Big Ten and an All-American followed by an early entry into the NFL draft. He may even win the Mackey award, because people don't pay attention.
[After THE JUMP: refugees, JUNGLE BEATS, and tiny dancer.]