Sinestral: Ross, Ryan and Clark|Bryan Fuller, MGoBlog. Dextral: Bill Walsh
First, a Chag Sameach to my fellow tribesmen and a Happy Turtleversary to the wingnuts.
We now continue with the Bill Walshian rundown of the 2013 roster. Since Michigan's offense and defense schemes are kindred spirits of the great 49er teams of the '80s, I've found it somewhat useful to re-scout Michigan's players on the same factors that the legendary coach used to evaluate his draft picks. How do we know what Walsh drafted on? Well wouldn'tchya know it, he provided it in a 1997 article for Pro Sports Exchange that Chris Brown (Smart Football) discovered.
Bruce Smith/ James Hall / Frank Clark by Upchurch
Walsh Says: 6'5/270 or 6'3/245 depending on type. It's complicated so I'm going to spend some extra time here. His DE descriptions bounced between what you want from 3-4 DEs, which is the 3- and 5-tech in Michigan's defense, and pure pass rushers. Ultimately Michigan's WDE is closer to the pass-rush-specialist-who-stops-runs-too job description of a Walshian 3-4 weakside linebacker than a blocker-sucking interior DL, so they go here with the LBs. Speed and quickness are now very much in play:
Must have explosive movement and the ability to cover ground quickly in three to five yards of space. The ability to get your shoulder past the shoulder of the tackle. This makes for a pass rusher. With that there is quickness because it sets up a lot of other things.
From the outside linebackers description we get this:
These pass rushing outside linebackers must have natural gifts, or instincts for dealing with offensive tackles who are up to 100 pounds heavier. Quickness is only part of it. They must know how to use leverage, how to get underneath the larger man's pads and work back toward the quarterback. And he must be strong enough to bounce off blocks and still make the play.
The rush DE needs to have some finesse. This site never misses an opportunity to knock on Will Gholston so I'll do that: Gholston has more than enough explosion and strength, and is an excellent tackler but the big hole in his game is he doesn't get leverage or bounce off blocks. This is why State deployed him mostly SDE this year while Marcus Rush was the premier pass rusher. Walsh says it's all the same if you can push a tackle as go around him, but being an okay jack of all trades here isn't as valuable as being super disruptive at one or the other.
Overall strength is important. You don't have to be a Mike Martin beastmonster in the weight room but a WDE has to be strong enough to not get turned by the tackle. This is also a technique issue though it's not a skill that needs years to develop—a big sophomore year leap is expected at this position as the kid gains weight, strength, and the footwork and balance to be able to keep his shoulders pointed toward the football.
As echoed in Mattison's statements in 2011 regarding WDEs, Walsh calls his rush DEs "the substance off the defensive team" since their ability to put pressure on the quarterback can make or break a defense. This is why great DEs are at such a premium in today's NFL.
The last piece is willpower, which in scouting parlance becomes "high motor." WDEs typically get rotated a lot because they burn a gazillion calories on each play. Because this spot is supposed to win 1-on-1 battles and kill plays himself, success on the second and third moves can make a huge difference.
Walsh's Favorite Wolverine: If James Hall and Larry Stevens had a baby, and that baby came out 6'5/260 and immediately ate the doctor. Michigan just hasn't had the freaks here unless you count Woodley and I'm saving him. Stevens didn't have the sacks but generated hurries. And Hall: because he's 6'2 every scout from the early recruiting years to modern NFL trade talkers underrates him, despite consistent production at every level. Hall is second (to Graham) in career sacks and 6th in TFLs among Wolverines and was the 1997 team's secret weapon. Both guys were often extolled for their virtues under the hood.
What to look for in a Scouting Report: EXPLOSIONS! I know I said this for SDE but even more so. You know these guys on sight because the innate quickness and strength makes them terrors against high schoolers. Skipping over the blue chips (or like Ra'Shede Hageman who would have been a blue chip if he accepted Florida's offer to play DE rather than Minnesota's offer of tight end) 3-stars who shine seem to have athletic tickmarks or the proverbial motor. I noticed some of the big performers from high school All-American games (Ray Drew, Alex Okafor, a million dudes who went to Florida) tend to fare well—about the worst among Army game standouts of yore was Victor Abiamiri, who was still pretty good. The pushers had ridiculous squats (Simon's was 700!)
What you can learn on film: How fast he gets into the backfield, adjusted for competition. You're looking for that quick burst. The great ones just look completely unblockable—like the guy blocking him doesn't seem to have any leverage.
What could signal bust potential: Size. Rivals tends to put its favorite DEs at "SDE" for this reason. If you browse through the five-stars you generally find two categories: high-effort guys who were early contributors and are or are on track to be NFL draft picks at defensive end, and Pierre Woods/Shawn Crable-like linebackers whose recruiting profiles said they would grow into Jevon Kearse. There's a reason they called Kearse "the freak."
How our guys compare: Frank Clark and Brennan Beyer are the two sides of the WDE coin. This refrain from MGoBlog is becoming tiresome but Beyer seems the stronger and more responsible one and Clark is the greater X-factor. We overplay this; both would still fall more into the finesse side than, say, John Simon, and both seem to top out as useful but not stars.
Ojemudia is kind of a James Hall but more akin to Shantee Orr. Where James Hall was small but had the size to stand up to a good shove when needed, here you have a dude with explosiveness and great hands for pass rushing but is going to be dead meat if doubled and run at, and is therefore best deployed as a 3rd down or [blank]-and-long specialist.
Early enrollee Vidauntae "Taco" Charlton, who's already 6'6/265 on Michigan's spring roster, is the closest thing to Walshian dreams. On film though a lot of times you just see him blowing something up because they didn't block him, and though this probably had a lot to do with being way bigger than high school tackles in Central Ohio he didn't play with much leverage after the snap. The reason for all the Tacoptimism is he blew up the camp circuit. He probably still needs a year to work on technique since he spent most of high school in a 2-point stance. Warning: he doesn't check the motor box.
[Linebackers, after a leap.]
Sorry to interrupt your day of madness with more football right now, but since the Spring rosters were recently published it's time for that annual MGo-Tradition of way overanalyzing weights and numbers and stuff...which Brian just informed me he's working on too [ED: this was written on Monday] after I got most of this written so figure this is Part II to that. By request the Depth Chart by Class received a major overhaul. Clicking on a name will bring up their MGoRecruiting profiles, hovering over a name gives you the current height, weight, and the player he'd most resemble if everything works out.
Before we get to the new faces, let's pick through that video. Non-bullets:
Offensive Line-Up: Miller seems to be the #1 center. The first clip shows him snapping the ball to Gardner, who hands off to Justice Hayes. Later while Lewan is talking we see two snaps (both of them pulls to Schofield's side) where the 1st team goes and the second team steps up in order behind them. Screen grab:
Starters at the moment appear to be Schofield-Burzynski-Miller-Braden-Lewan. Second team is Gunderson-Kalis-Glasgow-Bars-Mateus. Magnuson (at RT), Ben Pliska (at C) and Bosch (at LG) are the guys walking up behind them. Chris Bryant appears to not be doing these things yet; I don't know where LTT is, nor preferred walk-on Dan Gibbs. I'm not so worried about Kalis since the coaches still love him and it's early enough in spring that you'd expect a freshman to be behind last year's first backup. That Braden's practicing with the ones ahead of the 5-star, and he's the guy pulling, seem to bode very nice things for him—like potential star things. I am worried that there may not be enough guys in the picture above to make two teams for a real spring game.
Thomas Gordon interview. He says this year's defense is much faster. Let's qualify that; here's our current expectations for new starters vs. the departures:
- Kovacs to winner of safety free-for-all: Thomas Gordon appears to be sliding down to strong safety but the other spot could be any of Jarrod Wilson, Josh Furman, Marvin Robinson, Dymonte Thomas, Jeremy Clark, Allen Gant or Delano Hill, and if anything can be gleaned from Hoke's comments that list is a pick 'em through Thomas right now. Unless it's Clark or Gant the safeties are gaining a lot of speed, though that's overrated next to Kovac's intuitiveness.
- Demens/Morgan/Ross/Bolden to Morgan/Ross/Bolden. Ross and Bolden are the faster dudes, though apparent speed at linebacker is more instinctual than athletic. We're trading Demens's underrated coverage and size for a sizeable jump in response time, which should work out to better run defense offsetting the loss in pass pro.
- Roh/Campbell to Wormley/Heitzman/Black. But don't totally discount Godin, who's the guy in the video providing the requisite attack on a sled. I've got Wormley hype in my shopping cart and need just one more positive review to buy. It may seem weird that the coaches are still saying the 290-lb. redshirt freshman is an SDE while Jibreel Black, holding steady at 276, is the presumed DT, but remember they did the same with Heininger at 3T and RVB at 5T much of 2011. They're pretty interchangeable.
- JT Floyd to Blake Countess. An upgrade.
A more accurate description would be the further you get from the line the greater the intensity of a general shift from greater experience to greater talent. It's hard to say if the net will be a better defense until we see what kind of sophomore leap we got out of the Class of 2011.
Welcome, early enrollees and your numbers:
|Name||No.||Pos.||Ht.||Wt. (R/S/ESPN)||# Previously worn by|
|Kyle Bosch||65||OL||6'5||307 (285/280/311)||Patrick Omameh, Leo Henige|
|Jake Butt||88||TE||6'6||231 (230/220/231)||Jim Mandich, Mark Campbell|
|Taco Charlton||33||DE||6'6||265 (240/235/249)||Mike Taylor (LB), Carl Russ|
|Ross Douglas||7||DB||5'10||176 (180/180/181)||Alfie Burch, Mark Jacoby|
|Dymonte Thomas||25||DB||6'2||187 (175/180/180)||Ernest Shazor|
|Logan Tuley-Tillman||72||OL||6'7||285 (321/295/314)||Dan Dierdorf, Jumbo Elliott|
The one that stands out obviously is Taco Charlton, whose camp measurements had him at linebacker size while his spring weight puts him already well within the bell curve for starting WDEs. Woodley and Jibreel Black are the only rush ends in recent memory to arrive over 260 but they're a lot shorter guys. The closer comparison is Glen Steele, who was 6'5/255 as a freshman in '93, redshirted, and got into the rotation in '94 at about 270. Before we were thinking Taco would be either redshirted or deployed as a kind of situational Shawn Crable while the coaches waited for him to grow into a regular down player, but if he's large enough already to stand up to OTs, that puts him squarely in competition with Beyer/Clark/Ojemudia.
The other guy significantly off from the services' numbers is LTT, who's down 36 lbs. from what Rivals said. We were rooting for this! Scouts said he put on some bad weight last summer and he's a project recruit who like Long/Lewan before him needs a redshirt to learn technique no matter what the OT depth chart looks like right now.
Dymonte Thomas is also 1 or 2 inches taller than the sites pegged him.
Somebody's an early '70s fan. That 33 for Taco stands out; I'm sure he'll have an explanation that isn't "Let me give you a history lesson." But if you blinked at a non-back wearing that number, you could use a little refresher on early '70s linebackers. Michael Taylor (NNMT) survived Bo's weeding out process to become an All-American inside linebacker, tallying 132 tackles his senior year. The number was immediately inherited by Carl Russ (right), who walked on to the '71 team and starred on the '73 and '74 defenses, two of Bo's best. Both 33s had short NFL careers.
As for Rick Leach's digit going to a defensive back, considering all the recruiting profiles of 6'2" corners you'll be seeing here this summer you might as well read up now on Alfie Burch, the early '90s prototype for big boy boundary cornerbacks who can stand up to blocks on the edge and neutralize tall/rangy receivers. Course Ross Douglas isn't that—he's more of a nickel type. In the '70s it was worn by Mark Jacoby, Bo's "Wolf" who played kind of a Shawn Crable role from what's technically the same field position (SAM) that the nickel corner plays.
There is also a new crop of walk-ons. Hello new walk-ons!
|Name||No.||Pos.||Ht.||Wt.||Elig.||Hometown (High School)|
|Brad Anlauf||49||WR||6'4||187||RS FR||Hinsdale, Ill. (Hinsdale Central)|
|Shaun Austin||15||QB||6'1||204||RS FR||Plymouth, MI (Plymouth)|
|Clark Grace||46||TE||6'3||228||RS FR||Tecumseh, Ontario (L'essor)|
|Bobby Henderson||51||RB||5'11||226||RS FR||Hopewell Junction, NY (John Jay)|
|Michael Jocz||95||TE||6'4||213||RS FR||Novi, Mich. (Novi)|
|Dan Liesman||66||LB||6'2||220||RS FR||Lansing, MI (Lansing Catholic)|
|AJ Pearson||36||DB||6'0||199||RS FR||Johns Creek, Ga. (Northview)|
Alex Mitropoulos-Rundus was on the roster last year as David. Internet search pulls up an interview with a really girlie site called Michigan: Her Campus where he's asked questions about what he looks for in a girl.
"I don't ever really think about a list of things that girls must have, I'm more of the type of guy that just knows when it's right or not. We all have that gut feeling."
Gals don't even know when they've been Sam Webb'd.
Position Changes: Only ones of note are Wormley is listed as a "DL" (was a "DE" last year) and Matthew Godin was a "DT", is now a "DE". Safeties Allen Gant and Jeremy Clark are back to the nebulous "DB" which means nothing. Interestingly redshirt junior Anthony Capatina, listed as a kicker last year, is now a "DB". Matt Wile is listed as a "PK" and preferred walk-on Kenny Allen is a "K/P" so Hagerup remains the only designated punter on the roster. Read into that what you will.
Non-Returning Walk-ons: You've heard of some of them but from last year's roster we're missing receivers Steve Wilson and Devon Micou, tight ends Nate Allspach and Chris Eddins, safeties Charlie Zeller and Andrew Offerdahl, and cornerback Chris Maye. Walk-ons who didn't return for a 5th year are onetime rotation Seth Broekhuizen, injured Nate Brink, and long snapper Curt Graman.
Number changes: None so far that I've seen.
Weight Gain 2013: Brian covered on Tuesday.
Site Notice: This Thursday we're planning a basketballgasm liveblog, culminating in the Michigan-South Dakota State game. Probably getting started with the afternoon games, so you've got from now until then to get your brackets filled out and get your work done before productivity goes to Bolivia. Viva March!
My new tradition. I'm not really the basketball guy around here, however I do seem to perform really well when it comes to March Madness brackets, getting back more than my pay-in every year since 2000 (won twice). The first six years of that was luck—since then I've just been working really hard at it so I don't lose the streak.
For those filling out their brackets today here's some helpful stuff. My favorite tool for clearing the biases is the Wall Street Journal's blind comparison. Also never miss the annual GARGANTUBRACKET by Czabe.com, the blog Bracket Science and the gloriously cheap calculator at Poologic, which lets you program how many upsets you want and find inefficiencies to exploit. Use SCIENCE! to take money from your friends and co-workers!
The last tool is my own (<<<<<grab it here>>>>>). It turns KenPom's ratings into a confidence %, and then automatically pulls up which venue the game will be at and whether there's any injuries you need to know about for either team. Who likes drop-down menus?
What I do is normalize the closest 16-1 matchup (Kansas vs. WKU at 22.6% difference in KenPom's "Pyth") as 100% for the 1 seed to win, and use the KenPom ratings to percentile everyone else's games into a confidence number. Then I roll through anything under 70% and decide if my knowledge of those teams might justify taking the under.
Here's the first round, where "Confidence" is a measure of how likely the top seed might be to win. The venue is listed so you can identify things like don't take Boise over K-State in KC, or how 12-seed Cal (a team worse than Virginia, Iowa, Denver, Baylor, Kentucky, Stanford, UConn, Maryland, and Sothern Miss according to Kenpom) is basically playing at home in San Jose.
[UPDATE: I had some errors in the below chart. Now fixed. The tool was fine but I've added an option to set your own chaos factor.]
|High Seed||Low Seed||Difference||Confidence||Venue|
|1 Louisville||16 North Carolina A&T||+62.6%||100.0%||Lexington, Ky.|
|--or--||16 Liberty||+68.8%||100.0%||Lexington, Ky.|
|8 Colorado St.||9 Missouri||-1.2%||48.8%||Lexington, Ky.|
|5 Oklahoma St.||12 Oregon||+5.4%||55.6%||San Jose, Calif.|
|4 St. Louis||13 New Mexico St.||+17.9%||68.6%||San Jose, Calif.|
|6 Memphis||11 St. Mary's||-3.2%||46.7%||Auburn Hills, Mich.|
|--or--||11 MTSU||-1.2%||48.8%||Auburn Hills, Mich.|
|3 Michigan St.||14 Valparaiso||+15.6%||66.3%||Auburn Hills, Mich.|
|7 Creighton||10 Cincinnati||-6.0%||56.2%||Philadelphia, Pa.|
|2 Duke||15 Albany||+40.2%||91.8%||Philadelphia, Pa.|
|Los Angeles Regional|
|1 Gonzaga||16 Southern||+48.1%||100.0%||Salt Lake City, Utah|
|8 Pittsburgh||9 Wichita St.||+8.1%||58.4%||Salt Lake City, Utah|
|5 Wisconsin||12 Ole Miss||+7.7%||58.0%||Kansas City, Mo.|
|4 Kansas St.||13 La Salle||+3.9%||54.0%||Kansas City, Mo.|
|--or--||13 Boise St.||+6.1%||56.3%||Kansas City, Mo.|
|6 Arizona||11 Belmont||+6.2%||56.4%||Salt Lake City, Utah|
|3 New Mexico||14 Harvard||+25.3%||76.3%||Salt Lake City, Utah|
|7 Notre Dame||10 Iowa St.||+1.1%||51.1%||Dayton, Ohio|
|2 Ohio St.||15 Iona||+27.5%||78.6%||Dayton, Ohio|
|1 Kansas||16 Western Kentucky||+48.6%||100.00%||Kansas City, Mo.|
|8 North Carolina||9 Villanova||+4.0%||54.1%||Kansas City, Mo.|
|5 VCU||12 Akron||+8.1%||58.4%||Auburn Hills, Mich.|
|4 Michigan||13 South Dakota St.||+26.1%||77.1%||Auburn Hills, Mich.|
|6 UCLA||11 Minnesota||-5.0%||44.8%||Austin, Texas|
|3 Florida||14 Northwestern St.||+40.0%||91.6%||Austin, Texas|
|7 San Diego St.||10 Oklahoma||+5.7%||55.9%||Philadelphia, Pa.|
|2 Georgetown||15 Florida Gulf Coast||+33.3%||84.6%||Philadelphia, Pa.|
|Washington D.C. Regional|
|1 Indiana||16 Long Island||+50.5%||100.00%||Dayton, Ohio|
|--or--||16 James Madison||+51.3%||100.00%||Dayton, Ohio|
|8 NC State||9 Temple||+9.0%||59.3%||Dayton, Ohio|
|5 UNLV||12 California||6.6%||56.9%||San Jose, Calif.|
|4 Syracuse||13 Montana||+37.4%||88.9%||San Jose, Calif.|
|6 Butler||11 Bucknell||+2.7%||52.8%||Lexington, Ky.|
|3 Marquette||14 Davidson||+8.8%||59.1%||Lexington, Ky.|
|7 Illinois||10 Colorado||+1.3%||51.4%||Austin, Texas|
|2 Miami FL||15 Pacific||+30.6%||81.8%||Austin, Texas|
If you're in a big pool, run multiple brackets, each with carefully selected upsets. There's no such thing as an NCAA tournament without lots of big upsets and at least one surprising run. The 1 seeds all made it to the Final Four just once. If you submit one milksop bracket you're up against every other milksop bracket and will get beat by the one crazy guy who had LSU going to the Elite 8 or something. Hitting on a carefully selected upset that rearranges a bracket and lets you ride a different high seed to the Final Four is the most typical route to a win.
If you're in a small pool, play conservative. One or two points won't usually make a difference in a small pool, but the likelihood of something crazy like that one guy's wife who picks based on the cuteness factor of mascots winning is cut down so you don't need to take risks to get ahead.
Pick the upsets the most carefully. I love picking 6-11 upsets because if you get it wrong they're bound to get wiped out by the 3 anyway. If you roll the dice on a 3-seed or lower losing early though, you'll feel like an idiot as the rest of your pool collects the easy points. A tournament without upsets never happens, but neither does a tournament with all the upsets. You can totally undo a great pick with a terrible one elsewhere.
Get value for your upsets. Know who's in your pool and the inefficiencies. Fans will generally take their favorite team to go two rounds later than they really belong and conference teams to go a round further. This is an inefficiency.
Be really really lucky. This is really the only rule.
Left: Walsh. Right: Wormley by Upchurch
A few weeks ago I stumbled onto a 1997 article by Bill Walsh where he explained how he evaluates talent at each position. I then applied those evaluations to Michigan’s offensive personnel, because Borges is supposedly transitioning us to Walsh’s WCO. People requested a defensive version so here you go.
It’s probably not as useful because the closest NFL comparison to the Mattison ideal is the Greg Mattison Ravens. But then when you read about the history of Mattison’s 4-3 under defense, you find (49ers DC under Walsh) George Seifert’s ideas peppered all over. And there’s a reason for that:
Offensive evolution doesn’t matter so much when you’re talking about going back to the offense that dominated 1997. The 4-3 under defense—or whatever you call what Michigan does by shifting the line toward the nearest sideline—is more akin to a 3-4 than the 46 defense Walsh used to deploy against the run-heavy offenses of his day, or the Tampa 2 stuff that owned the period which that article was written.
Walsh’s defensive opinions are geared toward a 3-4, and that’s perfect for our purposes, since the 4-3 under is similar in personnel. When you see it you can see why:
So in we go again. I'm moving right now so I can't do it all in one again. Here's the interior DL and I'll cover linebackers and defensive backs in later weeks.
Dana Stubblefield / Rob Renes / Pipkins via Upchurch
Walsh Says: 6’2, 290. As discussed in the article when I made all the DL recruits into Wii avatars, the NT should have his mass low; a pyramid is more difficult to move than a cube. Like Mattison, Walsh puts the hands at the very top:
Quick, strong hands to grab and pull are critical. This is common with the great tackles. The hands, the arms, the upper body strength and then the quick feet to take advantage of a moving man, just getting him off balance.
The Walsh ideal doesn’t necessarily have to take on doubles. What he looks for is the strength to not get knocked backwards, and the ability to move laterally without giving ground. The best can burrow forward and push a guard into the pocket.
Note that Walsh is inadvertently describing a 4-3 DT more than a 3-4 NT—he’s not asking for a two-gapper who sucks up doubles but a one-gapper who can’t be budged. However the first step to beating spread teams is an NT who requires doubles, since the spread 'n shred's base dive play is most dangerous when an interior OL is releasing into the linebackers.
Walsh's Favorite Wolverine: Rob Renes. NFL scouts want everyone to be Wilfork, but active, stout, and sound come first.
What to look for in a Scouting Report: "Crab person" a la Mike Martin, i.e. he plays low and with great leverage. Strength—opponents can't move him. “Has excellent hands.” Athleticism: Walsh didn’t mention this but guys who are ranked basketball recruits as well seem to have a high success rate; that's obviously a mark of quickness/agility being important.
What you can learn on film: Nose tackle recruits are often so much bigger than the competition that they can terrify offenses without technique. You can learn more from the plays where he flows down the line of scrimmage then makes the play. Leverage. Hands maybe but this seems to be something most will learn in college. It's paywalled (and there's a lot that's 3-techy about him) but if you have a Rivals account go watch Ndamukong Suh's high school film and how he uses his arms to dominate guys off the ball.
What could signal bust potential: We’ve seen our share of planetary objects who get lots of hype because they’re 320-pound creatures who pop average teen OL like so many zits. This is an effort position that scales dramatically with the transition from high school to Big Ten. An athletic man-child has a massive ceiling but is as likely to follow the career path of Richard Ash as that of Johnathan Hankins.
How our guys compare: The expectation here is for Quinton Washington (above-right/Upchurch) to reprise his role at Nose with Ondre Pipkins figuring in as a rotation starter and making appearances at the 3-tech spot as well. Q came to Michigan as a spread-style offensive guard highly sought after by all the right people. His switch to the defensive line was initially a swap with Will Campbell, except Washington stuck with it. It was a painful year and change waiting for him to catch up, made worth it last year when he was a pleasant surprise at nose. Listed at 6'4-300 he's on the plus side of the size curve but not to the degree Campbell was (Suh as a senior was listed at the same size). Where this project is concerned, Hoke seems to have had success in every facet except his stated goal of making Quinton two inches shorter; I like to mention that one of my favorite DTs to watch is Kawaan Short, who was listed at 6'5 as a recruit and 6'3 as a draft prospect. That upper body strength that Walsh covets in his NTs is what made Washington stand out as a recruit and contributes to the success he's had across the line.
left: Q.Wash's UFR totals for 2012. right: Pipkins's. Clicking bigs them.
Ondre Pipkins arrived looking pretty much exactly like an NFL nose tackle—6'3-340—and played pretty much exactly like a true freshman, as you can make out from the UFR chart above. That's technique (i.e. hands) talking—he got minuses for getting scooped and buried and eating doubles, and plus'ed for flashes of mobility.
Richard Ash has two years of eligibility left so you can't write him off yet but he came in a non-mobile planet and had to lose a lot of weight to uncover his playing body. The Walsh measureables are not favorable, at least not yet. The freshman pegged for NT (though either could play either) is probably Maurice Hurst, since he checks nearly every one of Bill's boxes, right down to a listed height-weight of 6'2-290. Mike Farrell on Hurst:
"He has a nice frame that can still add weight but what really stands out about him is his quickness off the ball and his light feet. Hurst beat most of his opponents with his first step and he was able to win the leverage game most of the time as well."
Watching his film you can see the hands (start at 0:48). The knocks are he needs to get lower (on film you immediately see that butt sticking out) and I don't see strength mentioned much. He played running back for his high school and wasn't so big that he could get by on size so Hurst probably appreciates technique. I would guess he needs some time to put on muscle before he can contribute.
[After the jump, moving down the line]
Left: Leon Jones doing a thing that kind of resembles defense while a teammate goes in search of somebody to foul. Right: Dani Wohl when fully assembled.
So let's get a thing straight: I'm not the basketball guy around here.
When I was a wee little freshman on the Daily the seniors were busy exposing the Ed Martin scandal and Michigan was busy carousing and hacking their way through an unwatchable season. For those reasons I didn't go to my first game as a student until Christmas Break of sophomore year ('99-'00), when LaVell Blanchard, Jamal Crawford, Kevin Gaines and Leon Jones dropped 98 on Towson in a student-less Crisler. They didn't play defense then either—unless fouling counts as such—but they were young, and fast (when Ellerbe didn't make them play Bo Ryan ball), and most importantly they were winning.
Winning makes everything likeable. Recruiting red flags were full-page Chris Duprey personality features on overcoming adversity. Rumors of goonish behavior (e.g. Jamal Crawford fighting one of the assistant coaches in November) were evidence of personality and competitiveness (or that coach's fault). Michigan could face anybody except Duke and expect to win, and Duke we made close.
When the students got back Michigan went on a brutal losing streak, ending the regular season with a 114-63 curb-stomp courtesy of Cleaves et al. in EL. Gaines got into a fistfight on the side of
US-23 [EDIT: M-39], Crawford had to leave for the NBA, and we were off to mediocrity.
The first sign of post-Fisher life proved to be just the first of several high-water marks in a long and terrible ice age. In this one I learned to make references to Leon Jones and complain intelligently about Crawford's de facto forced departure. In another I got some stories about Horton as a freshman and Amaker-era student traditions. In another it was Dion Harris and Courtney Sims. Then suddenly it's a different Harris and Sims and I have to ask someone "whatever happened to that big guy we were excited about—Ekpe Udoh or something. Oh he did transfer after all? I missed that." Then I learned this Harris's name was actually Corperryale L'Adorable. Then he argued with Beilein and here we go again. A chart of that:
SRS is sports-reference.com's "Simple Rating System" and is meant to represent that team's expected points differential versus an average team.
There's a small segment of the fanbase who stuck it out even when Michigan's backcourt was down to the heart of Dani Wohl plus a few other functioning body parts of Dani Wohl. Dani today would tell you that was a good investment that's now paying off with a high return, but that's because he doesn't understand why anyone should be afraid of a little pain.
There were entire stretches of Ellerbe and Amaker when this team basically dropped off my plane of interest. Like many others squishing into a crowded bandwagon since Beilein's ceiling started to look an awful lot like the sky, I've had to play a little catch-up. I got about 75% through putting together an all-drought team, but then I stumbled onto the same thing by AC1997 in 2009. So…yeah…an article on this. Well I made a database and some charts to visualize the stats to help me put "Back" in perspective, so have those I guess.
The Family Measuring Shtick
We've yet to face MSU in the Big Ten Tournament so the head-to-heads since '89 are all regular season matchups. Here's what that looks like:
Click for bigger. The blowout in East Lansing this year was the worst of the series except for the three-year span that began with the afore mentioned 2000 thing.
I tried but couldn't find historic league averages (the above was calculated from Bentley's stats) and compiling them myself would have taken too much time, but you should know that non-Wisconsin teams in the Big Ten averaged 71 to 85 points a game in 1989, and this year that spread is 59 to 82.
EDIT: I forgot to post the 3's chart. Treys chart. Trips chart.
They're not going in any more often, but there's more of 'em. That's a good thing. The 3-point line was moved back a foot for the 2008-'09 season, so that may have depressed the numbers after Beilein's first year and made that 46.8% in 1989 seem even further from possible.
On the Road:
This makes me feel a little better: it's really hard to win NCAA basketball games on the road. Wait until after Indiana to declare anything about how well we fare at Crisler. By the way I forgot to label: the Y-axis is # of games.
Details for home (left), neutral (right) and road (below) sites:
It's just hard to win on the road.
Have at it:
The database is here if you'd like to piddle around and find more things.
I'm trying out a new feature of mouse-over tags so readers who don't get some of our references can get caught up. Underlined text has a tag. If the tag is a link then you've found a link. I appreciate any feedback on its deployment.
Left: Young Wolverines some of whom were recruited for power (Upchurch). Right: Power.
Chris Brown's recent article on Smart Football included a link to a 1997-vintage article by Bill Walsh (YTBW). Chris included it as a way of crediting Walsh for correctly predicting Tony Gonzalez would become a great NFL tight end. With Michigan transitioning further toward a Walsh-ian offense, I thought I'd appropriate the whole article to see how well Michigan's 2013 offensive roster matches Walsh-ian archetypes.
Before we jump in, you'll recognize a lot of what's said here from like every NFL draft report ever. Walsh's coaching tree perforated the league for years, and that meant the things he tended to look for in players became what most of the people making draft decisions were looking for. They've been repeated so often as to become memes, however I still think going back to the source can provide some insight into how Michigan's players and recruits are being evaluated.
This is all intended to help you do your own scouting when we publish things like Hello posts (lots of those coming up) and positional previews.
Tom Brady prototype, Tom Brady, Tom Brady with legs? --Bryan Fuller
Walsh Says: 6'3, 210. Having a strong arm isn't as important as an "inventory" of passes, although decent arm strength is a necessity:
"Arm strength is somewhat misleading. Some players can throw 80 yards, but they aren't good passers. Good passing has to do with accuracy, timing, and throwing a ball with touch so it is catchable…
"Remember, the goal of passing a ball is to make sure it is caught ... by your intended receiver."
The most important characteristic for a quarterback is intuition/instincts. He has to be able to sense the rush, make the right decision quickly and get the ball "up and gone," and handle progressions and broken plays with grace as opposed to a sense of urgency.
"The single trait that separates great quarterbacks from good quarterbacks is the ability to make the great, spontaneous decision, especially at a crucial time."
Walsh wants his quarterback to be "courageous and intensely competitive." He also wants them mobile and defines it thus:
Mobility and an ability to avoid a pass rush are crucial. Some quarterbacks use this mobility within the pocket just enough so they are able to move and pass when they "feel" a rush. But overall quickness and agility can make a remarkable difference. As an example, there were some very quick boxers in Sugar Ray Leonard's era, but he was quicker than they were and because of that he became a great champ.
Walsh's Favorite Wolverine: Tom Brady, obviously. Tate Forcier.
What to look for in a Scouting Report: High accuracy plus high YPA. "Makes things happen."
What you can learn on film: Doesn't make you nervous. Escapes from pressure then seems calm, not rushed. Sees something and reacts quickly. Receivers aren't making tough catches or breaking stride.
What could signal bust potential: First a warning on this part not to take it as "anyone who exhibits this trait will bust." What I'm saying is beware a guy ranked highly because this feature he possesses, which is a good thing to possess, may be overrated. Here it's arm strength—more an NFL problem than college since college QBs can learn systems and Navarre their way to great college careers with only one type of pass. Arm strength with no accuracy and a terrible delivery can turn into a great player if he's got an innate sense (think Stafford), but more often a coach will try to fix it and end up with a Dontrelle Willis.
How our guys compare: So far only Devin Gardner has seen substantial play against college defenses but we've gotten about a game's worth of Russell Bellomy too. Gardner's inventory has passes for finding Gallon 40 yards downfield, zips that only Dileo can get to, and even that Stafford-y thing he flipped to Dileo in the Outback Bowl. He has ideal size, and wins the mobility category over everybody not named Denard Robinson. If you give him a lane to pick up yards with his legs he will take it. And he MAKES PLAYS, those coming first to mind being where he runs around in the backfield defying sack attempts until something worthy of forward progress appears.
His weakness so far has been in that crucial "up and gone" aspect. His delivery has a long wind-up and that exacerbates a medium-to-mediocre diagnosis-reaction speed. Previous spring games when Devin looked really bad at this suggest it wasn't a few months as a receiver to blame, although that obviously didn't help. Gardner will live and die by his scrambling and ability to make linebackers freeze in coverage when he takes a step forward. He's not Tom Brady, but Gardner's package can equal a helluvah good college QB. An offseason as quarterback in a system designed to his strengths puts the ceiling high for 2013, and off the charts if there ends up being a 2014.
Russell Bellomy (right-Upchurch) in his few appearances last year—mostly the 2nd half against Nebraska—gave us a fairly strong indication of his abilities. He wins Walsh points by having a catchable ball, but there it ends. His apparent lack of arm strength severely limits the inventory, his agility isn't anything special vs. Big Ten defenders, and while you can forgive a freshman thrust into starting for this, he showed a lot of panic. I am skeptical that he can contribute on this level unless his arm strength improves as much as I expect his comfort will.
Shane Morris, now. Other than every scouting thing they can do with high schoolers, it's hard to say what he will turn out to be. The senior year performance and the thing that guy said in the Elite 11 about his primary read being taken away are marks against the Walsh archetype, but the size and arm and full inventory are there. He's too young to know if he will develop the rest.
Terrance Flagler, A-Train, Toussaint –Upchurch
Walsh Says: Needs to be big enough to take punishment and always fall forward, but "some smaller runners play big." He uses James Brooks but of course we've got our own exempli gratia. The 1B for backs is again, instincts, though he emphasizes getting "the first four yards within the scheme and then rely on instincts to take it beyond that."
Walsh puts a high value on durability, which maybe isn't as important in college where the hits are lighter and the roster is deeper. The other thing he harps on is instinct, mentioning he got burned on this with Terrance Flagler. This is the difference between Michael Shaw and Mike Hart.
After that he goes into bonus features. If he can block he doesn't have to come off the field in passing situations. He has to be able to catch a screen and the further down the field he can threaten as a receiver the more "dimensional" the offense becomes.
Walsh's Favorite Wolverine: Anthony Thomas. Always falling forward, instinctual enough to be a kick returner before becoming the feature back.
What to look for in a Scouting Report: At least 185 lbs., thick and squat. Numbers don't tank against high-level competition.
What you can learn on film: Defenders look like bad tacklers (subtle movements by the RB make him tough to set up on). Falling forward, durability, operating in small spaces. Lots of D-I ticketed RBs will run sweeps all the time because their speed is just unfair against high school DEs. Watch the inside and zone running.
What could signal bust potential: Beware the big backs who wrack up huge high school yardage by running through terrible tacklers. It's hard to tell the guys who can subtly shift their bodies to make themselves difficult to bring down from the ones who just truck over a division full of future doctors and lawyers. One strong attribute can sometimes dominate a bad high school league, but D-I football requires several working together.
How our guys compare: Toussaint has shown the instincts and "plays big" at near the extreme for smallness. He looked on his way toward being a zone-style feature complement until having the unluckiest year in recent Michigan RB history. Justice Hayes is like Toussaint except he's yet to show those instincts. Dennis Norfleet has the playmaker thing down but there's a major difference in size between him and the other guys. Norfleet was listed at 5'7/161 last year, and Vincent Smith was put at 5'6/175. Hayes was 5'10/183 and Toussaint 5'10/202. Norfleet/Smith and Toussaint/Hayes are different tiers.
Among the plowshares, thick-trunked Thomas Rawls saw extensive action last year. The difference between him and Mark Ingram is Rawls seems to miss his hole a lot—that "first four yards" thing is a problem. I haven't seen enough of Drake Johnson yet to know if he brings anything different. None of the above (who are still on the roster) have yet to demonstrate they're any better than mediocre blockers.
Two incoming running backs come with the Walsh stamp of approval. Green is already 220 lbs. and his senior highlight reel shows him doing a lot of inside power running and finding his extra yards. Deveon Smith is already Toussaint-sized and seems to have that micro-instinctual quality that Hart had. No idea if either of these guys can block.
[The rest of the offense after you JUMP]