"He makes it really easy on you as a coach because he has tremendous football instincts," Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh said. "Things come really naturally to him. He doesn't have to see things too many times. He has a good sense for how things should look and feel, and he's a tough, physical guy."
Before I forget, go draft your FreeRoll team for tomorrow—if you finish in the top 12 you get legal tender, and you don't have to give up any legal tender for it. If enough people don't sign up we don't get to keep doing these.
Okay so maybe I'm still a bit shaken from encountering a real life Tyrannosaur …
…who's not even allowed to enter the draft, but the thought of Lewan leaving for the NFL felt like being stuck in the middle of Jurassic Park with nobody but your 8-year-old brother for protection.
"That's not what I'm gonna do." –Taylor Lewan
So yes I saw new starters at 4 of 5 OL positions and turned into a hyperventilating girl—like you didn't! Thank Denard for Dr. Grant. I have no idea why he thinks a stereoscopic scavenger with an occipital lobe 8 times the size of its cognitive center who's related to visually acute crocodiles and birds would have movement-based vision (maybe it's the frog DNA?) but if I'm gonna walk the length of an island of angry therapods I'm very happy to have this man along one more time. That sentiment was passed on personally by justingoblue and megangoblue, at Crisler. Pretty pictures with the cool story bro&sis but guys I'm feeling really warm and fuzzy inside.
How warm and fuzzy? 1.64 degrees centigrade fuzzy. That's the heat generated by the burning of calories in running 4,495 yards according the post-drunk maths of Blazefire. Here's another way to visualize it:
In case you were wondering, yes West Virginia fans are going to boycott everything because Denard used handoffs for the final stretch. LSAClassOf2000 added some perspective on the Denardian career by the percentage of Michigan's total offense he accounted for. Roughly, from the time he was a freshman, half of Michigan's yards were his.
In other things you ought to read, Ron Utah did a comparison of the 2011 and 2012 seasons, concluding the Denard arm was a big deal. Here's some of the things I pulled from that:
|Fumble Recoveries||20 of 25 (80%)||11 of 22 (50%)|
Surprisingly Michigan improved on 2011's unprecedented ownership of 4th down, converting 69% of our 13 attempts (up from 59% in '11), and holding opponents to 43% (not far off the 38% of last year).
Etc. I forgot to front-page Mathlete this week; amazingly there were two plays that swung the game more than Tyrannosaurus Clowney making a goat disappear. Combining the sagarin and UPI rankings makes Michigan the top football-basketball combo school in the nation (Florida, Notre Dame and Louisville come after). I'm guessing Ohio State doesn't count for that. The Blockhams was great this week, though the text still needs to be way more succinct—not that I of all people can really talk.
[Lewan photoshopping and really smart raptors, after the jump]
- The team will focus on fundamentals in practice over the next week or so.
- Team will leave for Tampa on the 23rd.
- The NFL discussion with Taylor Lewan will continue after the bowl.
- Devin Gardner had an ankle issue after the OSU game (was spotted walking around in a boot). Otherwise no new boo boos.
“You know, we’re obviously thrilled to be heaing to the Outback Bowl our fifth time. The bowl itself, the organization, the volunteers, they’ve always been gracious hosts. The city of Tampa and Clearwater do a tremendous job of embracing the bowl, making it a great event for both teams. It’s an opportunity to play a very good football team in South Carolina. 10-2, Coach Spurrier is one of the iconic coaches in this country. Laid a great foundation and has done a great job at South Carolina, really did a great job at Florida when he was the head ball coach down there. So it’s going to be a great football game, one that we’re excited to be a part of against a great opponent.”
How much do you know at this point about South Carolina?
“I know they have a really good front from a defensive perspective. I think they gave up 17 points a game. Very athletic. Lost at Florida and at LSU, so their two losses were on the road against two very good football teams. I think offensively the quarterback has done a nice job. I think the coach is a hard guy to please at that position. Lattimore won’t play obviously, and that’s a shame, because he’s one of the great football players in the country, but from that standpoint, you just start breaking them down.”
Your brother coached with Steve Spurrier. Were you able to get to know him and form a relationship as a result?
“You know, a little bit. Not a huge one, but Jon was there, my brother was there three years, Steve’s last three, as his defensive coordinator. Steve and his wife are really nice people. They treated my brother well. Him and Jon talk back and forth, but it’ll be a fun football game to be a part of.”
How much will the time off help Denard recover and do more than he was doing at the end of the regular season?
“Well, I think we hope for all of them -- they go through the grind. It’s good for all of them to heal up a little bit. We’ll start practicing at the end of the week on Friday and Saturday. They’ll do some lifting and running this week. But to get them away from the pounding a little bit helps them all.”
Any injuries resulting from the OSU game?
“No. Not really. Devin had a little bit of an ankle, but he’ll be fine by the time we get started on Friday.”
How do you improve your ability to run the ball and limiting turnovers for this game?
“Well I think we always work hard on running the football. That’s not going to change. We always preach and teach the mindset of running the football and finishing at the line of scrimmage and backs finishing on safeties and the ninth man or eighth man that people want to get in the box. But I think you just keep plowing through it going forward, and your demands and your expectations have to be met.”
How much emphasis will be put on developing younger players?
“Yeah, we’ll start going Friday, Saturday this weekend, and then Friday, Saturday next weekend. We have finals coming up and all those kinds of things, so those will be more of just the fundamentals and the basics, kind of getting back to it for everyone. We’ll use a lot of that time to help develop the young guys. And then as we go through the bowl practices, we’ll devote some time to those young guys and what we want to get accomplished.”
When do you leave for Tampa? And what’s your philosophy on working your players too hard vs. not enough?
“That’s always the fine line, to be honest with you. We’re going to leave on the 23rd and practice when we get down there, kind of get acclimated to where we’ll be and all those things, which I don’t completely know yet. Mike Vollmer and Bob Lopez are down there now securing the sites, but we’ll go down the 23rd. Most game planning should be all done by the time we leave, so that’s always a positive. We’ll kind of judge where we’re at from health, from the mindset of where we are and what we’ll do.”
Why has Hopkins left the team?
“You’d have to ask him. I know we already discussed it.”
When did he let you know?
“He let me know.”
The Big Ten has struggled against the SEC. Do you feel like you’re playing for the conference?
“I think you always are. I think you’re playing for Michigan and your seniors first, but we’re proud to be in the Big Ten. Why we wouldn’t want to represent and have that be part of our focus, it’d be really bad for us not to feel that way about the Big Ten.”
What do you want to see from Devin?
“Continued growth as a quarterback. His development is just like some of those guys, you know, Willie Henry’s growth -- only it’s a little different because he’s a quarterback. Willie Henry’s a nose tackle or a three-technique. So Willie’s not touching the ball a whole lot, right? So I think his continued growth to playing in big football games and environments not in Michigan Stadium.”
How has playing a tough schedule prepared you for the level of talent you’ll face in the bowl game?
“I think there’s always a benefit. When you play good football teams, and whether you win or lose, you learn how you have to play. You learn that you have to do a better job taking care of the football. You have to run the football better. You have to get the ball back for your offense at the end of the game to give them the opportunity to score. Those are all the things you take out of the last game that we didn’t do.”
How important is it to win this bowl game?
“I think as we would look at it, for our seniors, that ninth win -- you always want 10 when you’re here. It’s kind of an expectation. But sending them out in a real positive fashion and I think you build some momentum going into winter conditioning.”
Is it harder to vote in the coaches’ poll knowing that your choices are made public?
“Yeah, I don’t know if it’s -- you know, I think you vote your conscience. I don’t know if I would have voted any differently than I did.”
Why did you have Michigan 15th?
“Becaue I think we’re a good team. You look at the opponents that we played compared to other schedules that are out there. It would be easy to play a lesser schedule, but I think this has helped us grow as a program and as a team.”
You met with Taylor this last week?
Any words of wisdom?
“You know that I don’t have a whole lot of words of wisdom, but we’ll talk after the bowl game. We’ll do our due diligence and trying to get him as much information as we can.”
When do you expect to hear back from the advisory committee?
“I don’t know.”
What kind of a test will it be for him to go up against Jadaveon Clowney?
“Well I haven’t talked to him since we found out who we were playing. But if you’re truly a competitor, I think it would be a tremendous, fun opportunity.”
What are the tangible rewards of playing a tough schedule? Seems like teams aren’t really rewarded for it.
“Well I don’t think you are, but I think for us and this program and the future of the program, I think it’s a real positive. Playing in a kickoff classic in Arlington, everything that goes along with it and how you prepare, it’s kind of a big stage. So I think that all helps.”
Is there anyone you’ve coached or coached against that you can compare to Jadaveon Clowney?
“Mm mm. He’s pretty good.”
What’s your feeling about Te’O and the Heisman? Brian Kelly said if Te’O doesn’t win it, why not just make it an offensive award?
“I think if I were Brian Kelly, I’d say the same thing. You know, my thoughts on it? I think everyone’s going to have an opinion, every voter’s going to have an opinion on does he do enough? But no one really knows what he does for that team. I think he’s worthy of it. But I don’t know if Johnny Manziel’s not worthy of it. And I don’t know if it’s just Johnny Manziel. I don’t even know who’s up for it. But Te’O, being a defensive guy, I’m kind of in his corner.”
Thoughts on the MAC getting their first BCS bowl?
“I think it’s great for that league. The MAC’s a great league.”
Why did you invite Hagerup to camp even though he was suspended for four games? He said it meant a lot to him.
“Well I thought it was important for him to be around his teammates. There were some mistakes that were made that we’ve all made -- some of you maybe haven’t -- but it’s nice for a kid to be around his teammates.”
Another big update following the Junior Day over the weekend. All-time updates can be found on the Recruiting Board. Hopefully things will return to a normal pace next week.
Night Of Champions
Michigan's Night of Champions Junior Day last weekend brough in a ton of prospects, and most of them had only good things to say.
TX RB Jarrell Oliver had a "top notch" experience ($, info in header).
IN RB Remound Wright made it to town ($, info in header). His recruitment is starting to pick up pace with some new offers, but he still hasn't received one from Michigan.
IL OL Jordan Walsh was there and sounds like a pretty good prospect:
Walsh is arguably the best offensive line prospect in Illinois in what is turning out to be a very strong year for the position in the Land of Lincoln. Walsh, 6-foot-3, 270 pounds, will have to be an inside guy at the next level and he's strong enough and athletic enough to play guard or center.
"Duke, Northwestern, Illinois, Arizona, Indiana, Purdue, Boston College, Michigan State and Iowa have all offered me a scholarship," Walsh said. "I can't even begin to name a leader right now or even a few schools that stick out. I'm open to everything and anything right now. I've visited a lot of schools mostly in the Big Ten."
Walsh, who has been compared to his former teammate, Notre Dame OL Chris Watt, wants to major in business or engineering, both very strong programs for Michigan. With Duke and Northwestern involved, he's likely a top student.
OH OL Matt Skura attended the Junior Day, and may make it back to Ann Arbor sometime this spring:
"I plan to go to Toledo and Michigan State spring practices," Skura said. "I plan to go to Michigan State's spring game April 24. I'll go to Ohio State's spring game for sure. I might go to Michigan's spring game."
He doesn't sound the most enthused about Ann Arbor, but that interview was conducted before his visit, so maybe he likes Michigan a little more now.
OH DT Kevin Williams enjoyed his visit for the Night of Champions ($, info in header), and has a new top two. It's no surprise then, that Michigan is one of the schools in his small group of favorites ($, info in header).
mgoblog's own TomVH talked to OH DE Chris Rock following his visit, which he seemed to enjoy:
Before my parents left, coach Rodriguez talked to us for a while. He was just talking about how good of a school Michigan is, and where they’re at with the football program. My parents were previously Ohio State fans, but they were very impressed with everything. They came away the same way I did, and really liked everything they saw.
He also filled Tom in on his schedule for the remainder of the spring:
I’m going to Notre Dame’s junior day next weekend, and I might go to some other spring practices. I haven’t really planned a lot out yet. I don’t have a time line, it’s just going to be when I feel it’s right. I haven’t come up with a top list, because I haven’t seen enough schools, but my interest in Michigan is very high. I really like what they have to offer.
Rock is friends (and teammates) with OL Brad Carrico, who is heavily favoring Notre Dame at this time. Rock top two is widely assumed to consist of the Wolverines and Irish.
OMG So Many Offensive Linemen
IL OL Patrick Flavin has been invited to Michigan's summer camp ($, info in header), at which time he'd be able to impress and earn an offer. He also says that Notre Dame is his slight favorite over UCLA, Illinois, Northwestern, and the Wolverines. His older brother is on the Notre Dame roster, and that's likely his dream school.
LA OL Trai Turner told TomVH that he has a Michigan offer, and his good friend Carvin Johnson will be a draw for him when it comes to the Wolverines.
OH OL Michael Bennett has received an offer from Michigan ($, info in header), and according to eFilmRoom, Ohio State, Alabama, Nebraska, and Notre Dame are also involved. He should be a pretty bigtime prospect based on that offer list aone. Video highlights from ScoutingOhio:
Michigan is in on an oddly high number of offensive linemen from Arizona this recruiting cycle. A few of Michigan's targets have come in for some fluff lately:
ESPN fluff on AZ OL Christian Westerman:
Westerman showed tremendous feet, balance, quickness and strength, probably due in part to his training in boxing and lots of basketball when he was young. Those skill sets have helped him be an important part of back-to-back state championship teams at Hamilton High School, and that has dozens of high-level programs salivating at the thought of him becoming part of their program.
There's a mention of his Michigan offer, but he doesn't give a top group (outside of "I like Lane Kiffin, Mack Brown, and Urban Meyer"-type stuff) or say whether he plans to visit Ann Arbor.
Rivals also brings a bit of fluff on Michigan targets Cyrus Hobbi and Andre Yruretagoyena.
The Sun Devils verbally offered Hobbi in May of his sophomore year but then nothing happened for months until Washington and Michigan got involved in the last few weeks. Since then, all the other schools popped and Hobbi is happy with his position heading into the spring and summer camp schedule.
Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Oregon State and UCLA are some others involved with Yruretagoyena, who has family in the Pacific Northwest and has lots of interest in Oregon.
“I don’t really think of it too much,” Yruretagoyena said. “I want to get ready for next season, get bigger and make sure my team is doing work just as much as I am. It’s really good to know I won’t have to pay for college if my grades are good enough to qualify for the school.
Not terribly informative, but Michigan is on both their minds.
And Those Other Positions
The Great Demetrius Hart Internet Meltdown of 2010 can continue, now that FL RB Hart has told ThaRinger.com that he has already made up his mind, with a final three of Alabama, Auburn, and Florida. Howeva, he told TomVH that he will be visiting Ann Arbor for the spring game (April 17th, 1PM). It seems as though Michigan is still right at the top of his list, but his mom has concerns about Rich Rodriguez's job security.
Rivals briefly chats with NJ Ath Miles Shuler, who recently received a Michigan offer. National interest in the athlete is growing, especially after he impressed at a recent BadgerSport combine. He's talking with Florida, Ohio State, and Penn State, but doesn't mention any favorites. He did say he's "excited" about the recruiting process, so I wonder whether that might result in a drawn out recruitment.
Ohio State commit OH DE Steve Miller plans to look around a bit ($, info in header), and is not solidly committed to the Buckeyes. Obviously, it would be very nice if Michigan's coaches could get him on campus and try to sway him to the good guys. However, he's already missed a few good Junior Day opportunities, and they'll have to act quickly and forcefully if they want a chance.
A couple updates on some South Carolina prospects: DE JaDaveon Clowney, who holds a Michigan offer (along with Florida, Alabama, USC, and basically everyone else) still has no favorites. DE Gerald Dixon has apparently been offered by the Wolverines, as has OL Brandon Shell. Shell's offers come mostly from the Southeast, and it seems like he'll probably stay around there.
Though IL DT Mason Fuller impressed at the Michigan Football Showcase, this fluff piece has no Michigan mention.
"He's very athletic for his size. He's an athletic, strong kid," Griffin said. "He has a knack of just understanding what's going on down there. It's not about making every play but just doing the job that he has to do, so he does a good job of that. But he also has some pretty good pass rush skills as a defensive lineman, and we're thinking about playing him at a little defensive end this year as well."
Fuller also has put Urban Prep on the map for college coaches. The standout defensive tackle already has earned recruiting interest from Illinois, Kansas, Notre Dame, Stanford and South Carolina, and Griffin expects more programs to become involved soon.
Fuller may find interest in Michigan later down the road.
NC LB Kris Frost, who has previously named Michigan his favorite, is holding to that position, according to TomVH.
The Distant Future. The Year 2012
MI LB James Ross comes in for the now-standard Detroit News profile by Sam Webb. A few money quotes:
In his first year of high school football after starring for the Detroit Police Athletic League's Westside Cubs, Ross emerged as a standout performer for George Porritt's St. Mary's Eaglets. The 6-foot, 210-pounder had 103 tackles, five sacks, five forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and an interception while keying the defense for a team that went all the way to the state title game.
(Webb diplomatically leaves "after underachieving horribly all year" from that last sentence). Michigan has already offered, and though Ross didn't grow up a fan of the Wolverines, they've made quite an impression on him:
"It was real exciting," Ross Jr. said [of his Michigan visit]. "They took me through a tour of the facility. I was seeing all stuff the linebackers had accomplished -- all the special awards trophies. It seemed like every linebacker that went through there got something."
Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State seem to be the early competition for his services.
MD DT Kevin McReynolds has been selected to next year's UnderArmour game. OH Hoopster Markus Crider has been offered by John Beilein. He's a high school teammate of OH QB Braxton Miller (and schoolmate of the Talbott brothers). PA CB Kyshoen Jarrett is considering early enrollment at his school of choice ($, info in header). Per TomVH, Michigan has offered FL CB/Ath Nick Waisome. According to Michigan Sports Zone, NJ Slot/Ath Bill Belton has a Michigan offer on the table. MI RB Justice Hayes will take his time ($, info in header) trimming to a top 8.OH WR Shaq Washington shared his thoughts on the Michigan Football Showcase a couple weekends ago in his Cleveland Plain Dealer blog.