Peppers at 10, which seems low.
Previously: Penn State Defense
not full-blown Ghost Gardner, but definitely erratic [Fuller]
Penn State's offense looked somewhat more functional against Northwestern than they did against, say, Temple, when Christian Hackenberg looked destined to finish the season in a full-body cast. Thanks in large part to the emergence of slippery freshman running back Saquon Barkley, the PSU offense is now at least semi-functional.
It's hard to say it's much better than that, though. Here's how they did against Northwestern:
- Seven three-and-outs
- One four-and-out
- Two five-and-outs
- 8-play, 30-yard drive; interception
- 8-play, 39-yard drive; punt
- 9-play, 79-yard TD drive
- 5-play, 70-yard TD drive that should've been a three-and-out; 30 yards came from a roughing the punter and a late hit on Hackenberg after a scramble
- 5-play, 71-yard TD drive
That's two real scoring drives, another on which half the credit goes to Northwestern doing dumb things, and a lot of ugly.
Personnel. Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:
The good news for PSU is they brought back a lot of players. You know the bad news if you watched them play last year.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Pro-style to a fault. Penn State's offense was most successful when they spread Northwestern out and ran the ball; they'd do this once in a while and then go right back to doomed under-center runs with an extra OL lining up at H-back. James Franklin is a great recruiter, but there's plenty of reason—and mounting evidence—to believe he's not much of a tactician.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? Penn State mostly ran inside zone, split zone, and the occasional power. Brian asked me to check if they ran any zone stretches since Michigan struggled so badly with them against Indiana; they ran none.
Hurry it up or grind it out? In very welcome news after last weekend, Penn State is dead last in the country in adjusted pace. They're brutally slow. This should prevent them from exploiting Ryan Glasgow's absence nearly as much as Indiana did; the Hoosiers not only wore out the starting DTs, they also prevented Michigan from subbing when the backups were caught on the field for extended time. PSU's offense isn't built to do that.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
Big Four, Little Ten?
Penn State had a heck of a day on Tuesday, beating out Ohio State—among many others—for four-star OT Sterling Jenkins, at one time the top tackle on Michigan's board, and four-star QB Brandon Wimbush. With 11 composite four-stars among their 15 total commits, James Franklin's program ranks behind only Alabama in the 2015 team recruiting rankings.
Given the circumstances, no school in the country is doing better on the recruiting trail than PSU right now, and they're doing so by dominating not only in-state recruiting, but the entire surrounding region—13 of their commits come from Pennsylvania or one of its bordering states. Michigan's had a fair amount of success in recent years recruiting in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia; with Franklin around, that success is going to be more difficult to replicate.
Meanwhile, Michigan State's on-field success is now translating to serious consideration from big-time prospects, and not just those from the Great Lakes State. Five-star WDE Jashon Cornell named the Spartans as his leader after visiting for the spring game, and he reiterated that stance in a free article by 247's Steve Wiltfong:
Cornell named the Spartans his leader following a visit to East Lansing for the spring game on April 26.
“I still feel the same way with them,” Cornell said. “They’ve had the best defense in the country the past three years,” Cornell said. “I’m trying to get better as a defensive player, and I feel Michigan State can help me become a better player and one of the best defensive players in the country.”
The Spartans aren’t the only contender for Cornell, who plans to make his college decision on Aug. 28, which coincides with the first day of school and his season opener.
“I have several schools in mind, UCLA, USC, Stanford, Michigan, Penn State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Miami and Iowa,” Cornell reeled off.
With a relatively early decision planned, Cornell could very well end up a Spartan, and such a high-profile commitment could potentially impact the decisions of other top prospects—we've seen this effect right here at Michigan. As for the in-state battles, MSU continues to be a thorn in Michigan's side, as well; the most recent development is their offer of 2016 South Lake four-star Martell Pettaway, who told Allen Trieu the Spartans are the team to beat ($):
"They will be a very tough team to beat. They are number one now. They kept it real with me since day one and showed me a lot of love. At the moment, I am not committing. I'm going to wait it out and rack up offers then look at my decision but it will be hard for anyone to be over MSU since the were the first ones who did it and they were up there always."
These aren't fun developments, of course. Please don't shoot the messenger, especially since the other headlining recruiting news this week is...
Kinnel Gets Alabama Offer
...Nick Saban going after Michigan four-star safety commit Tyree Kinnel. The Tide offered him on Tuesday, though for now, Kinnel isn't wavering in his pledge to the Wolverines, per Scout's Dave Berk ($):
“An Alabama offer means a lot,” he said. “I think it would mean a lot to any kid in the country that plays football. That is a big offer, but as of right now, I’m still 100-percent Michigan.”
There's good and bad here. It's never fun when the specter of Alabama snake-oiling is present; on the other hand, the fact that Saban is showing that much interest is nice validation that Michigan's got themselves a very good prospect in the fold. For positivity's sake, here's to focusing on the latter part.
Rumor Drama, Part Whatever
After four-star Mike Weber visited Notre Dame, Scout published an article with a quote from the Cass Tech back intimating that Michigan was on the outside looking in when it came to his top schools ($):
"Right now I like Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State and Notre Dame," Weber said. "I'm going to wait on a decision though because anything can happen and there's a lot of time left."
This caused something of a message board and social media firestorm, as these situations do. Weber took to Twitter to say he doesn't have a top four, and he talked to Brandon and further clarified the situation:
Mike Weber tells me he has no top 4 and "it's silly" that #Michigan isn't included among his favorites. He'll release a top group soon.
— Brandon Brown (@CoachBrown3) May 6, 2014
While Michigan putting out multiple recent offers to fellow 2015 running backs—most recently, three-star Georgia RB/complete sentence Mikell Lands-Davis—suggests they're not in as strong a postion as they'd hoped with Weber and Damien Harris, the Wolverines certainly aren't out of the picture for either.
New Offer/Peak Highlight Video
Michigan's latest offer to a 2015 lineman went out to WA three-star OT Calvin Throckmorton, who told GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz he's considering a trip from the West Coast to check out Ann Arbor ($):
Just six weeks away from summer vacation, Throckmorton says he plans to utilize his down time to take visits, with a trip to Ann Arbor to see Michigan on his mind as well.
“I don’t think I could really do those really until probably July or sometime then,” Throckmorton said. “But I definitely want to try to get out there to those schools.”
More importantly, somebody set offensive lineman combine highlights to the instrumental from Dr. Dre's "Nothin' But A G Thang" (baaaaaaaby), which is delightfully incongruous.
George Campbell Update
According to an article by Scout's Chad Simmons, Michigan is still hotly pursuing former commit George Campbell ($):
A number of schools are working hard to show Campbell he is high on their list. "Florida, Auburn, UCLA, Michigan, LSU, and USC are recruiting me the hardest," said Campbell.
An article on Cambell by 247's Shea Dixon features... an entirely different, shorter list ($):
“(UCLA coach Taylor Mazzone), (Florida coach Joker Phillips), (Alabama coach Lane Kiffin) and (Florida State coach Lawrence Dawsey) have all probably been recruiting me the hardest,” Campbell said. “I haven’t been talking with a lot of coaches, though. My uncle does.
"I will start taking serious visits and checking out schools, and after summer, I want to at least cut it down to a lower amount of schools and focus on those schools. It’s just a matter of time to see what I want to do.”
Florida and, interestingly, UCLA are the two constants; the Gators are considered the odds-on favorite at the moment. With Michigan failing to earn a mention for a potential official or unofficial visit in either article, expectations for a re-commitment should be very low.
2016 Traverse City West OL Thiyo Lukusa recently visited campus and told GBW's Josh Newkirk that Michigan is "still up there on my list"; also, damn you, polar vortex ($):
Due to 13 snow days this winter, Lukusa says his school year has been extended to make up for lost school time..Which mean his school schedule goes right into Michigan’s football camp season. So as of right now, he says his possible camp visit is pending.
“If I can make it down there one of these days and chill, maybe I can throw the cleats on and the helmet on and work,” he said. “I’ll have the helmet and cleats in the back of my car at all times this summer.”
Michigan checks in at #14 in the ordered top 15 released by 2015 five-star dual-threat QB Torrance Gibson, who currently has Tennessee, Auburn, LSU, and Ohio State on top, in that order. While that doesn't look so good, Gibson told 247's Ryan Bartow($) that Michigan's low placement was due to the fact they haven't offered—and he fully expects one to come once Doug Nussmeier sees him throw—and he later told Steve Lorenz an offer would jump the Wolverines up his list considerably ($):
Gibson tells me a Michigan offer would put them in his top 7 and that he would visit Ann Arbor at some point before ending his recruiting process.
Steve believes, and I agree, that even with an offer Michigan would be a longshot, but getting Gibson on campus would be a nice start towards changing that. The Buckeyes, unfortunately, may be the team to beat once they get him on campus—Gibson said the reason they landed at #4 is because he hasn't had a chance to visit them yet.
But have you thought about Tokyo? Assertions abound that the Big Ten might fling a conference tournament to DC:
Hearing the Big Ten Tournament will be moved out of Indianapolis and to Washington DC for at least one year. Disappointing. #iubb
— Justin Albers (@Justin_Albers) May 4, 2014
That would be convenient for Maryland fans and the expat lawyers Big Ten schools fling to major metropoli across the country. Not so much anyone else who cares about basketball—the only other schools within one BILLION miles of DC are Penn State and Rutgers. But we must #footprint and #footprint and #footprint until our #footprints are #footprinted across the land.
All right. The Big East and Big Ten have announced one of those challenge-like things, though this one is partial:
The Big Ten and the Big East on Monday will announce a new partnership, the Gavitt Tipoff Games, an annual series of eight games between the two conferences that will run through 2020.
All of these games will come in the first week of the season, a time generally reserved for Michigan versus Five Guys We Found On A Farm, Yes We're Pretty Sure They're People. Every Big Ten team will participate at least four times in the eight-year deal. (That leaves eight free slots over the eight years, FWIW.)
Thanks, I guess. Corn Nation points out a thing:
Q: How will the seeding committee determine which teams play in which semifinal?
A: In theory, priority will be given to placing the No. 1 seed in the bowl geographically closest to its campus. For instance, if Florida State is No. 1, it would play in the semifinal at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, which would send the No. 2 team to the Rose Bowl.
So the CoFoPoff acknowledges that being close to home is a nice thing. Wonderful. Let's envision a scenario where Purdue finishes the year #1 to the committee. They get slotted in…
Atlanta! Congratulations, Purdue.
Corn Nation's not too happy about that:
TRADITION! was the battle cry for Delany, the world "tradition" meaning "bullshit most of you will still buy" as any pretense that college football is about money has been swept away by more, more, more of it. TRADITION! - even though the Big Ten expanded with Nebraska, Rutgers and Maryland throwing out decades of tradition - but Delany knowing that all those alums from Michigan and Ohio State and et al would buy into "tradition" because they've been eating that Rose Bowl bullshit so long that they don't realize what low-grade bullshit it is.
Hey man don't look at me I was advocating home sites just like everyone else from the #footprint that offered an opinion.
Draft projections. With the deadline passed, people get serious about their mock drafts. Results are good for Stauskas:
"Stauskas seems to be garnering more and more buzz of late," Ford wrote. "His abilities as a shooter with deep range and a quick release are unquestioned. It's his ability to also play a little point guard that has moved him into the lottery. This is the highest he has been ranked on our Big Board, and I don't think it's out of the question that he could go even higher when all is said and done. The Sixers, Nuggets, Wolves and Suns are all options in the lottery."
Robinson's hanging on to the end of the first round on Ford's draft but not DX; Chad Ford and DX don't have McGary in the first round. I have to believe that as it gets late in that first round some good team is going to think they could use a pile of rebounding and enthusiasm who's at least going to be a good player.
Good idea. I give it ten seconds to live. Penn State is going to visit Georgia State's camp en masse this summer:
New Penn State James Franklin and his entire staff will work as guest coaches for Trent MilesFootball Camp at Georgia State on June 10.
The radical arrangement appears to be a win-win for both programs: Penn State gets to personally evaluate high school players who would never travel to its camps in Pennsylvania, while Georgia State will get exposure to more high-profile recruits than normal.
This is an end-around of NCAA rules that prohibit folks from having a camp outside their home state unless it's within 50 miles of campus and will probably get nerfed the next time someone comes around with the rule stick. Clever idea for now, though.
BONUS: That article contains a quote that NCAA lawyers trying to flog competitive balance in court are going to hate:
“We’re not going to recruit the same person, you know? There’s no way. The Sun Belt doesn’t recruit against Penn State. Let’s face it: I’m not competing for kids against Penn State, or Georgia and Alabama. I’m just not. Nor will we ever. It is what it is."
/NCAA lawyer hits self in face with already-empty bottle of whiskey
Coleman can get buckets
AAU business. The annual Spiece tournament is going on in Indianapolis, featuring a number of Michigan targets. The most prominent is IN SG Jalen Coleman, who is still in no hurry to come to a decision:
When asked for an updated list of schools, Coleman rattled off Indiana, Purdue, NC State, Providence, UCLA, Arizona, Michigan, Michigan State and noted that several other Big Ten schools are also involved.
He didn’t name a leader, a top group or even mention that any schools are recruiting him harder than others.
In actual news, IL PG Jalen Brunson has cut his list to eight; Michigan is one. Temple, Villanova, Kansas, UConn, Illinois, Michigan State, and Purdue. If one of those programs doesn't look like it belongs, Brunson's dad played at Temple. "But that doesn't explain Purdue," you exclaim, and I agree.
I don't know but probably not right now. Ross Fulton asks if Doug Nussmeier can fix Michigan's offense, detailing his history. It starts off with an involuntary moan from you:
Nusmmeier's primary plan to solve the situation is to bring a coherent offensive framework to Michigan.
Sounds like a plan, you guys.
We must destroy this buck in order to save it. Via Get The Picture, the NCAA has earmarked some funds for legal stuff this year:
For example, NCAA finances are as difficult to sort through as the numbers are high, and the figures can vary hugely with the bias of those reporting them. Most media outlets glibly equate “unionization” and “compensation” with professional salaries for NCAA athletes, but the association knows Huma isn’t pursuing any such thing. The only big number that concerns him is the $600-plus million announced as this year’s NCAA war chest for legal and legislative expenditures.
Six hundred million dollars available to defend amateurism. Meanwhile non-profits try to fill in the gaps left when dudes get spine injuries.
Etc.: Recruiting folks did rather well by this year's projected first round. Mmmm anti-SEC conspiracy theories. NCAA unionization gets a congressional hearing. I welcome the departure of teams that should not be in D-I from D-I. Eastern Michigan, looking at you. Michigan spends money on things. Lax got competitive this year.
Hi, everyone! Did I miss anything?
Oh, lots of things, you say? Well...
Nailed it. Back to your regularly scheduled recruitin' roundup.
KLS --> DTW
Brian passed along the unfortunate news last week that five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South says UCLA is currently the school standing out to him. I'm back to bring you good tidings: Michigan will have their opportunity to change that when KLS officially visits Ann Arbor for the night game against Penn State:
It looks like KLS is goin to Ann Arbor on October 11th
— Keisean South (@KLSouth16) May 3, 2014
In even better news, 247's Steve Lorenz reports that Lucier-South could make it to campus this summer, too:
As we reported earlier this week, it's not likely to be the five-star's only visit to Ann Arbor, as he's looking to take an unofficial visit sometime this summer.
Receiving an official visit is promising; having a California recruit foot the bill for a cross-country unofficial visit even more so. While there's plenty of competition, not to mention the inherent difficulty of reeling in a touted Cali prospect, Michigan has to like where they currently stand with their top weakside DE target.
[Hit THE JUMP for a camp evaluation of 2016 commit Erik Swenson, the outlook for a pair of top targets on the O-line, where Michigan stands as several 2015 targets narrow their lists, and more.]
Michigan's not the only Big Ten East power program holding introductory press conferences this month. PSU has a mostly new staff, and Ohio State poached a legendary assistant from them while also adding what appears to be one of the more competent guys from the Bielema group. How does this change things?
Nussmeier to Michigan, Franklin to Penn State, Ash and Johnson to Ohio State, Pat Narduzzi to...dammit all to hell, how can a guy mentioned in every coaching search not go somewhere?!?
How will these recent coaching changes affect the balance of power in the Big Ten East, and the Big Ten in general? Who'll still be coaching at the same place, and who will be the happiest with their guy three years hence?
Ace: If nothing else, recruiting in the Big Ten East is going to be an absolute war. We've discussed the recruiting upgrade Nussmeier provides over Al Borges in this space. Now Penn State lands James Franklin, who managed to reel in the #26 (247 Composite) class at Vanderbilt in 2013 and was on his way to repeating that feat this year before his departure; given the foundation laid by Bill O'Brien and the ever-receding shadow of the sanctions, he should be very successful as an energetic, big-name recruiter in a relatively talent-rich area. Franklin's already had three prospects commit (or flip their commit from Vandy) to Penn State since he took over; he's a coach who players commit to over a program, and now he's got a big-name program to pitch, as well.
Meanwhile, Ohio State gets the Nittany Lions' longtime ace recruiter in Johnson, who should pick up any slack lost when Mike Vrabel bolted for O'Brien's Houston staff—coaching musical chairs! It can be weird!—and Ash also carries the reputation of a solid recruiter.
|Those who've witnessed a James Franklin press conference admit Penn State won this round. [Justin Aller/Black Shoe Diaries]|
All in all, I think Michigan benefits the most right away from their recent hire, though I can also see the argument for Ohio State. The upgrade from Borges to Nussmeier should pay immediate dividends on and off the field; while OSU is very much the team to beat in the division, U-M's recent recruiting success and strengthened coaching staff should start closing the (for now, relatively wide) gap between the two programs.
The Buckeyes, for their part, landed a quality co-DC in Ash whose specialty—coaching defensive backs—is exactly what they need to patch up a porous secondary playing well below its talent level. He improved Wisconsin's pass efficiency defense from 53rd in his first season there (as the defensive backs coach) to 22nd in his third year (his second as DC and DBs coach) before moving on to Arkansas; how much he's to blame for the Razorbacks' #105 ranking in that regard in his lone season there is unclear.
[After the jump: the stuff after the jump. Also: tautology]