IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE THREE *YARDS* AND A CLOUD OF DUST
Rating: 4 of 5. Yeah, I said it.
|FEATURE BACK||Yr.||SHORT YARDAGE||Yr.||3RD DOWN||YR.|
|Fitzgerald Toussaint||Sr.*||Derrick Green||Fr.||Justice Hayes||So.*|
|De'Veon Smith||Fr.||Thomas Rawls||Jr.||Fitzgerald Toussaint||Sr.*|
|Drake Johnson||Fr.*||De'Veon Smith||Fr.||Drake Johnson||Fr.*|
The Man Comes Around
"In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer that could approach six yards a carry." –Albert Camus
Toussaint rehabbed with a vengeance, and went into spring camp with a vengeance, and hopes to confront the Big Ten in superhero outfit and big guns this fall. His coaches have taken notice. Borges:
"Fitz has got fire in his eyes. I see no signs of any injury ... He is very hungry.
"One thing about running backs, it's not like the lines. You get to see them cut, even if it's not live or not with pads on. His stop and go ability looks to be right back where it was."
Fullback Joe Kerridge looks like a cross between a refrigerator and a bear (more on this in the Tight End And Friends section) and says Toussaint outworked even him over the summer:
"He busted his butt to get back before the start of camp. It seemed like every time I went in this summer to lift or do conditioning, Fitz was already there and he would still be there after I left."
When fall camp launched, the immediate and consistent buzz was that Toussaint was back to his old self—his old-old self. Tellingly, the coaches didn't dance around the topic like they do on most every other personnel battle. First he was back, then he was playing very well, then he was leading, and then it was his job, full stop.
So… what now?
[after THE JUMP: Yeah, what now? Freshmen are large men. A replacement for Vincent Smith, and veterans trying to hold off the youngsters.]
CAN THEY ZOOM THIS THING ANY MORE? For pants' sake. Devin Gardner takes a shotgun snap and the only other guy in the frame is Justice Hayes. I think this is negatively affecting camera guy in games—the replays in Michigan Stadium are invariably pore-o-vision, too.
Jack Miller's hand is not broken. The video of Tom Brady's speech featured a guy saying "his left is broken" right at the end, and people thought it was Miller, and now there is an e-rumor to that effect. Obviously that is not the case. The MGoStaff has looked at the back of a lot of heads and we're pretty sure that's Tom Strobel, the redshirt freshman three-tech.
Lewan was held out. The line on the first snap is Schofield-Glasgow-Miller-Kalis-Magnuson, and Lewan makes no appearance. Since the line is completely out of many shots it's hard to tell anything definitive about who's playing, but if Chris Bryant is pressing to start, where is Chris Bryant? He does get in on at least one snap here, FWIW, but if we're going by the scraps in these videos it looks like Glasgow is the leader.
I assume they also held Gallon and Fitz out for obvious reasons.
Wormley looking good. On one snap sure, but he beats Magnuson to the inside on a Justice Hayes carry.
Justice Hayes sure seems like your third down back. There have been few shotgun snaps in either of these that don't feature Hayes next to Gardner. There is a small chance it's actually Fitz and he's being held out because he doesn't need to prove anything, but with the Green injury and Toussaint obtaining a death lock on the starting job, Hayes is in a good spot to take snaps away.
Hey: Shane Morris. Man that hoser can hose. Throwing rope after rope, though dollars to donuts this video elides three terrible interceptions.
Hey: Channing Stribling. Gardner almost throws an ugly pick to Stribling. Stribling dives to break up a dig route. Stribling tackles Chesson after a hitch. Stribling breaks up a well-thrown fly route to Chesson.
Also, Hollowell is all over Da'Mario Jones.
Hey: De'Veon Smith. Flashes shades of that high school tape when he spins through three guys on his single carry and then drags Jourdan Lewis on his back for five or six more.
Also, Green makes a slick cut to the backside of a power play and runs through an arm tackle. His single carry looked a lot better than his single carry in the other video. #samplesize
Apparently Drake Johnson is now #20. This was news to me.
Slow-mo Reynolds catch is pretty good. First, Morris moves around the pocket like a pro before unleashing a rope, then the DB (never see a number) is a fingertip away from a PBU and may actually get a deflection, then Reynolds makes a diving catch.
- Shane Morris is the backup QB.
- No decision on center or left guard yet, where Jack Miller, Graham Glasgow, and Chris Bryant are playing musical chairs.
- Michigan has a lot of receivers whose first names start with the letter "J."
- Matt Wile will handle all kicking duties other than regular field goals and PATs.
- Norfleet is the kick returner. Norfleet will probably be the punt returner. Norfleet4Life.
"We have nine games before we open up and Team 134 gets an opportunity for their first impression. I think we've had a very good camp. We have two days left of camp, and tomorrow we'll start looking more at Central Michigan, scout teams, look teams, that sort of thing. The coaches have already been breaking down that opponent in the summer. Really the last couple days, [we'll be] getting back to it a little more at the stadium, [run] about the half the number of plays of Saturday's scrimmage. I thought we came out, played hard. I think we'll get some answers on some rotations or spots, if you want to call them that as we look at the tape tonight and keep evaluating through the end of camp."
"These high chairs are not really built for me. Hrnggh. How's my hair look?"
Great. Bad news about Amara Darboh. How do you compensate for that?
"Well, fortunately we have some pretty good kids that can fill in, but I feel probably worse for him than anybody. The kid had an excellent spring ball and capped it off with a fabulous two-a-days. He was playing good. I feel bad because I really feel like this was going to be a big, almost maybe even a coming-out season for him. But he's got a redshirt, so I guess there's a silver lining, but I just feel bad for the kid."
Does this maybe put a little more pressure on Jehu Chesson?
"Well Jehu would do it. Joe Reynolds will be out there. Jeremy Jackson. We have some capable replacements, thank goodness. All those guys, not just Jehu, but everybody."
Will you consider any position changes to try to get some depth?
"Oh I don't think so. I think we're still okay. We can't lose too many more."
Are any of the freshmen capable at this point?
"No. No. Not really."
"No. Not yet. But we're not completing eliminating them, either. Not yet, anyway."
It’s redshirt roundtable time. Our recruits:
- Brian Cook: 6’3/215, 5 stars, quarterback out of Michigan, rescues kittens
- Seth Fisher: 6’1/235, 3.5 stars, FB/TE tweener from Michigan, runs three homeless shelters
- Ace Anbender: 6’0/185, 4 stars, defensive back from Michigan, spends free time driving old ladies to church
- Blue in South Bend: 5’11/202, 5 stars, running back from ???, spent 5 years in a foreign country (Indiana) teaching the natives how to sanitize their water
- Heiko Yang: “5’9”/165, 4 stars, slot receiver from Ohio, committed early because he got tired of coaches calling and asking him to date their daughters.
- Coach Brown: 6’4/260, 5 stars, strongside linebacker from South Carolina, holds record for most keys to cities
- Mathlete: 5’10/180, 4 stars, cornerback from Kansas. Never around when Superman is; isn’t that so weird…?
And the question:
Time to guess which freshmen are redshirting this year--which will make to 2014 with freshman eligibility, and which won't but would if you were running the team.
Brian: First, I would like to congratulate [Seth] on [being awesome]. But nevermind all that. To the redshirtmobile!
One of the advantages of press credentials are all the free Batmobile golf carts. This is what we did with ours.
[After the jump: answers and answers in chart form]
Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton,DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OL Logan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson, TE Jake Butt, TE Khalid Hill, HB Wyatt Shallman, WR Da'Mario Jones, WR Csont'e York, WR Jaron Dukes, RB Derrick Green, QB Shane Morris.
This marks the completion of the 2013 recruiting profiles.
|Warren, OH – 5'11", 224|
4*, #62 overall
3*, NR overall
4*, NR overall
4*, #218 overall
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Older brother Lance was at Wisconsin for a time. Howland, his HS, has sent kids to MSU and PSU recently but no Michigan players.|
Brady Hoke's recruiting in a nutshell: a near-consensus four star with a crazy fun highlight tape who Michigan won in a head to head battle with Ohio State has been almost lost in the shuffle. De'Veon Smith may not have the avalanche of hype Derrick Green does, but he's pretty damn good in his own right, a pounding ball of legs with a big-time stiffarm and excellent balance. If he was fast, he'd be Mike Hart but fast, but people say he's not that fast, so maybe he's just Mike Hart. (This comparison is about to get run into the ground. Gird thyself.)
This lost in the shuffle thing is something we need to correct, M internet. If we don't, Smith's coach Dick Angle—who is awesome—is going to find us. This comes from the beginning of Smith's junior year:
“I don’t think there’s a hell of a lot of difference between 4.6 and 4.5, especially when you’re 215 pounds and you’re running the football and you never fumble it and you always end up in the end zone,” Angle said. “So they can have their 4.3 guys and 4.4 guys and I’ll take Smith, even if he was 5-flat, which he isn’t. He runs a 4.5-forty consistently and all he does is score touchdowns, run for first downs, catch passes and wins.”
…quite surprisingly, despite all the high accolades from his coach, Smith is still without any scholarship offers. So what exactly is the reason for that?
“Because there’s a lot of stupid coaches out there and that’s why they get fired,” Angle said. “They take 4.3 guys that can’t read, write, block, tackle, hold the ball or win. That’s the bottom line.”
"Because Stone Cold Dick Angle said so" is implied.
I'm seriously about the Mike Hart comparison on this one. For one, the first words out of his loquacious coach's mouth in another article:
"He does not fumble," said Angle. "He had one at the beginning of the year, and one in the playoffs, but that's it."
For two, Smith's low-cut, compact package of balance, vision and agility leads to a lot of Hart-like runs in which he hugs his blocking until it's time to burst upfield, at which point he often deploys Hart's patented hop-cut in the hole to evade most of tackler and bundle forward breaking infinite arm tackles. ESPN's evaluation is… is just Mike Hart:
…strong, sturdy frame that can withstand punishment … powerfully built low to the ground and it helps his impressive balance. He has good, not great, speed …runs with good vision and is quick to attack the hole. He makes subtle cuts through traffic and is able to burst through tight seams with his quickness. He runs with good lean, behind his pads … also an effective stretch and plant cutter. … He breaks through first contact on a regular basis, runs hard and generates great downhill power and momentum. He keeps his legs and body churning on contact, frequently bouncing off tackles while retaining his balance and forward drive. … can struggle to make second level defenders miss to spring long runs.
Smith isn't quite the wizard at avoiding backfield contact that Hart was, but he compensates by bringing more power to his game… actually nevermind that. Smith does seem a bit faster in the open field. (If there was a stat for "most times caught from behind against one team," Mike Hart versus Michigan State would be your far and away record-holder.)
Scout's Allen Trieu amps the Hart comparison up by noting his "uncanny balance and ability to break arm tackles":
The kid is strong and runs with a refusal to be tackled. His ability to keep his feet while making cuts, breaking tackles and shoving would-be tacklers into the ground, is outstanding. He may not be a 4.4 guy, but we really like him.
Smith may not have breakaway speed, but he displays everything else you'd like to see when running the football: great initial burst, good vision through the hole, legs that don't stop moving upon contact, and the power to punish defenders for attempts to arm-tackle.
I mean… if you watch his junior highlights above they are littered with plays in which Smith bounces off arm tackles, nearly falls over, keeps his feet, breaks a couple more tackles, gets swarmed by three guys, and then drives the ever-agglomerating mass of humanity a couple more yards before everyone falls over. Like this:
Via Ace, obviously
The run before this and after this on his tape (starting around 3:30) are basically the same thing, as are many others.
That is something you can't teach. De'Veon Smith is good. I mean, this is two games from his junior year. Try and count the broken tackles:
While he's not going to bounce off four guys on many plays in college, frankly his highlight reel is more impressive than Derrick Green's. Green brings an elite level of size and speed that Smith doesn't quite, but I give the edge in high school faces crushed to Smith.
Smith was not a camp guy or a look-at-all-my-offers guy. As a result Rivals, the low outlier in his rankings, has frustratingly little to say about him that doesn't come from Tim Sullivan, who doesn't have a say in the rankings. I'm not sure their Ohio guy does either, but here's his take anyway:
"He's the classic Ohio power back," Givler said. "He's strong, runs with a lower center of gravity, with good pad level. He's not overly fast but he gets through the hole, and you don't always have to be a 4.4 guy to be a success. Look at this rivalry - Maurice Clarett and Mike Hart weren't the fastest guys but both were great players.
"The thing I like about Smith is that he's one of those guys that will be better with his 22nd carry than his sixth. He's a north-south runner that gets stronger as the game unfolds."
Ah, look, Mike Hart again.
Meanwhile in an evaluation that praises Smith for "being such a well-rounded back"—ie, everything—247's Todd Worly raves about his "explosive burst, footwork, and change of direction," pointing out that while Smith does lack pure straight line speed his short-area explosion is outstanding. (You can see this in his defensive highlights as well, as when he sticks a guy he goes backwards.) Worly also puts the ball security in context:
For a big play back that is regularly breaking tackles, it is very impressive that he has only fumbled twice in three years.
It's relatively easy for Carlos Brown to not fumble because strong winds will knock him over. For a guy constantly fighting for extra yardage to have that ball security is… well… it's a lot like Mike Hart.
And, of course, the pattern is fulfilled here as well. His coach:
"Probably his greatest asset - by far - is non-measureable: it's his presence," said Angle. "He has an aura about him. He's a team player, and when you're around him he just picks you up. He's never moody, and he's always got a smile on his face. That's his greatest asset, he just radiates confidence in the people that are around him, and he has it in himself in a very humble and unique way."
Is his coach done? Nope. Obviously not. This is Dick Angle, who should be interviewed all the time whether he has a player going to Michigan or not.
“To me he’s the perfect player. And he’s got an attitude that makes his work ethic outstanding,” Angle said. “He’s very humble and he’s probably the most likeable kid in our school let alone on our football team. And he’s a great team player and he’s a great motivator through his hard work.”
Sing Dick Angle, sing!
"He works on the things that he knows he might have slipped up on the week before, or he hasn't been working on, He's relentless in the weight room, he's relentless on the practice field, so he doesn't have to be told very much what needs to be done."
This is where the comparisons to Clarett stop.
Etc.: Your last piece of laughable Bucknuts homerism for the year is Smith's drop from #5 in the state to #14 after winning the DII offensive player of the year. BONUS Bucknuts commenter a couple years ago:
I'd take him and Derrick Green for the 2013 class of running backs and call it a day.
Sounds like a plan.
“I’ll tell you what I like about DeVeon, he gets angry when you hit him. It pisses him off when you hit him. He just runs harder and harder after he gets hit. He is a contact kind of guy."
Why Mike Hart? The post has addressed this in depth.
Guru Reliability: Low-plus. Wide spread in the rankings, no camps, no All Star game, but was a healthy, known quantity.
Variance: Low. Already at excellent playing weight, fumbles not an issue, not a product of those high school teams where no one ever touches you en route to the endzone (see: Ty Isaac).
Ceiling: High-minus. Pure long speed seemingly the only issue, and while that's a big one there are a lot of excellent qualities Smith brings.
General Excitement Level: High. I like him, a lot, especially in the tight spaces Michigan will give him to work in.
Projection: Everyone expects a redshirt and one really makes sense here with Fitz a senior, good depth, Green in the same class, and Michigan apparently content to swing for the Fournette fences in this recruiting class. I bet he's at worst the third-most talented back on the roster right now, but Michigan can get away with an older guy picking up those snaps.
After a redshirt year (or frustrating non-redshirt year with spare playing time), Smith should emerge into Derrick Green's backup or platoon-mate, depending on how good Smith and Green actually are. I wouldn't be surprised if he got 30% of the carries as a redshirt freshman unless Green is unbelievable. Smith should split carries with Green for the next two or three years before emerging into the starter as a junior or senior, whereupon Damien Harris will play platoon-mate/backup.