News bullets and other items:
Reon Dawson and Jaron Dukes are medically retiring.
Freddy Canteen and Moe Ways recently had shoulder and foot surgery, respectively. Canteen’s status with the program is in the air; Ways should be back in 3-4 months.
Speight, O’Korn, and Morris are getting more snaps than the other QBs, but they’re all still making at least one “big mistake” every practice.
Devin Bush Jr. had his best practice of the spring on Saturday.
Harbaugh responded to Gene Smith’s comments because he felt a shot was fired across Michigan’s bow and, after waiting many hours, thought he needed to do the same. Just never, ever tell him that he likes to get in twitter wars because it’s a form of competition.
Harbaugh said it doesn’t matter to him what time of day games are played; a night game or lack thereof doesn’t faze him.
What did you see out there from your group today, and what were you looking for specifically here today?
“Uh, you know, good, competitive football fight. Getting better: in a lot of areas we are and in a lot of other areas not bad and other and all areas we need to keep improving, so…the guys are grindin’.”
Did your quarterback rotation go about how you wanted, and what did you see out of those guys?
“Uh…you know, there’s—like I told them, there’s, you know…we’re looking for a quarterback to move the team and not make the big mistake. They’re all in the mode of a big mistake a day, so we’re not—we’re just gonna keep plugging away and keep getting better, keep giving them things they can improve on, things they can take and use. Looking forward to the game setting. Maybe that’ll be another good test, but they’re getting a lot of tests right now. Strides are being made, but we’ve still got a long row to hoe.”
What does it do for your fans and for your team to come out here in this setting at Ford Field and open it up?
“I think it’s great in the way of sometimes spring practice can get monotonous. Some would even say boring. There’s no game that comes at the end of the week. It’s something different. Something to make it livelier, special—that’s what we get out of it. To have people in the stands, always felt that makes it better. Even the cameras, even the TV cameras—even if they didn’t have film in them, you know?”
They don’t anymore.
“Touché. So even if you had a camera that wasn’t actually recording anything guys would work hard. Guys would enjoy it more. People are watching, so that’s a good thing for us.”
With the quarterbacks, are you still repping them evenly or are you changing that up some?
“I’d say there’s Wilton [Speight], John [O’Korn], Shane [Morris] getting more. It’s not dead even anymore, no.”
Would it be Wilton, John, Shane in that order?
“I can’t even make an order right now. It’s to be determined still. It means a lot to all of them. You can tell in the way they play and just continuing to be able to play loose and play smart and continue to get repetitions. Continue to get looks and learn—that’s what they need to see right now. Looking forward to some game-like action. We’re going to make it game-like in the spring game. Everything’s going to be real tackle football live; the quarterbacks, everybody. There’ll be live bullets for them, so that’ll be a nice, good-size task for us. Looking forward to seeing how that plays out.”
[Hit THE JUMP for more]
Dukes caught the only TD of last year's spring game against Dennis Norfleet
Jaron Dukes and Reon Dawson are 'medically retiring,' per Harbaugh. Mo Ways suffered a broken bone in his foot recently. Out a few months.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) March 26, 2016
Per harbaugh Freddy canteen had surgery on his shoulder. Waiting for results to see if he can continue with his career
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) March 26, 2016
The departures of Dukes and Dawson bring Michigan to or under 85 depending on the status of the as-yet-unsigned Dytarious Johnson; if Canteen does not make it back they'd be at 84 and able to issue a scholarship to Ryan Glasgow.
[NOTE! This section uses the UFR catch chart. Passes are rated on a three point scale for catchability. 3: routine. 2: moderate. 1: difficult. There's also a zero for times when the player was thrown to without any chance of a reception.]
|Amara Darboh||Jr.*||Jehu Chesson||Jr.*||Grant Perry||Fr.||Jake Butt||Jr.|
|Moe Ways||Fr.*||Drake Harris||Fr.*||Brian Cole||Fr.||Ian Bunting||Fr.*|
|Jaron Dukes||So.*||Da'Mario Jones||Jr.||Jabrill Peppers||Fr.*||Khalid Hill||So.*|
[NOTE: though flex tight ends are listed above since they will fill some of the WR snaps they are addressed in the TE & Friends post, not here.]
Last year's WR corps was a bit like the famous Braylon/Avant/Breaston trio if those guys had been coached by a potato and inserted into a disaster of an offense and gradually lost their will to live and halfway through the season they accidentally left Breaston in Piscataway and Breaston had to fend off a pair of cartoonishly dumb burglars with a series of elaborate traps.
artist's impression via Seth
This year's WR corps is down the Braylon and Breaston equivalent-type-substances, leaving only a substantially more unproven version of Avant, Jehu Chesson, and a bunch of guys who have seen maybe six snaps between them.
But Drake Harris maybe? Shh. You'll spook the hamstring. Let's be nice to the hamstring. Good hamstring. Does hamstring want a treat? Yes it does. Nice hamstring.
As soon as Devin Funchess declared for the NFL draft, AMARA DARBOH became this year's presumptive #1 wide receiver. Normally that would be met with mild optimism since Darboh is a touted recruit entering his redshirt junior year with decent production. Also he did this:
But in the crater left after last year's offense got done with our brains it's hard to be positive about anything in the micro. (The macro, of course: HARBAUGH.)
In the tortured analogy above, Darboh is our substantially more unproven Avant. Avant was of course a quality possession receiver and slant merchant who is not much of a threat to take the top off a defense. When Darboh had a catchable ball come his way, he looked fairly similar:
He is not likely to be as good as Avant because Avant is 100 out of 100 in certain skills. Darboh might be very good and still a standard deviation below that level of performance.
[After THE JUMP: DON'T ALARM THE HAMSTRING]
That is a man who realizes he's home, at long last. The score may only be 7-0 in the waning moments of the game, the stadium may only be half-full, this whole thing may only be an exhibition, but it's impossible to repress that smile.
[Hit THE JUMP for the spring game in GIFs, and, yes, more Harbaugh.]
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.
|Columbus, OH – 6'4", 200|
3*, NR overall
3*, NR overall
4*, #233 overall
3*, NR overall
|YMRMFSPA||Taller Junior Hemingway|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace; Ace interviews him, twice.|
Youtube also has video of Dukes brushing his teeth like a weirdo.
Michigan had brought in some large dudes the year before (Funchess, obviously, and both Darboh and Chesson hover around 6'2") but it was Jaron Dukes's commitment that truly inaugurated the era of enormous receivers at all costs at Michigan. Though he probably doesn't quite stand the 6'5" he was reputed to when he committed, it's clear that his size and body control are excellent while his speed is an Area For Improvement.
His coach is pretty blunt about it:
"He's realized he's at home on the field. He's a big 6'5, 200-lb receiver and he runs well. He's not a burner. He's a 4.6 guy, but he has tremendous, good hands. He has a great ceiling because he's only played football for three years …."
"He needs to work on overall size and speed. He needs to get to that 4.5 range to be legit in the Big Ten. In the Big Ten, the defensive backs are stronger, bigger, faster, so he has to get his body bigger, stronger, faster."
This was known from the beginning. His coming out party was as a junior in the state semi-finals, where he had six catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns against Cam Burrows and Trotwood-Madison. His first touchdown was a fade on which Dukes skied over Burrows and then ran through his tackle attempt for an 80-yarder. Separation achieved: zero. Separation needed: zero. Great success.
Dukes had a modicum of hype after that performance, but his total aversion to camps and lack of film out there—Scout posted some junior year stuff in December (ie, after his senior year), saying they'll "take what they can get" on Dukes—saw him remain in the three-star territory everywhere except ESPN, which is the least camp-oriented site. It didn't help that his production fell off, with just 31 catches for 553 yards and nine TDs as a senior. MGoUser Dubs took in a Dukes game and reported back a lot of that was due to his quarterback, who was a dual-threat sort, and in high school this often means "can't throw a lick."
They liked him enough to put him in their 300, because his speed is okay in their book given the rest of the package:
Dukes is a really good looking player with great size, length, wing span and deceptive elusiveness and top-end speed. He is a more agile, faster and physical version of 2012 prospect and Oregon WR Dwayne Stanford…. He has quick feet for a big guy and more than adequate speed. He is quick, fast, has a burst coming out of his cuts and can get good separation, but he is doing it on athleticism alone at this stage. He has good hands and very good ball skills. He can make the catch away from his body and is not shy about going over the middle. He possesses very good body control and change-of-direction skills, and he shows that he can turn a short gain into a big play. … He must learn how to become a good route runner through precision, tempo and spacing.
Others pretty much agree but chalk his lack of separation up to speed instead of much more fixable route-running issues. That scout eval mentioned above:
He's a big target, and uses it, as he does a nice job of going up and getting the ball and using his body to gain position on defensive backs. He's smooth, but not a speed demon, not a sudden guy, but he has shown that he can get into the open field and outrun guys in the open field. As he gets into a college weight program, he's going to get big. He has a great frame, and it wouldn't surprise us to see him as a 215-220-lb college receiver creating mismatches and being a red zone threat. We wouldn't even rule out some flex tight end.
Argh maybe should have saved BJ Cunningham for this guy. Anyway, Dukes's Scout profile's actual Areas For Improvement are "elusiveness with catch" and "quickness off line"; they like his blocking, ability to be a red zone weapon, and largeosity.
Kyle Bogenschutz caught a game of his as well:
Very impressed with his physical tools. …his attention to detail really jumps out. Dukes runs hard, crisp routes, specifically come back and curl routes that were very effective all night against a tough Pickerington Central defense. Dukes made a few people miss after the catch on a few occasions Friday night and dragged defenders with him to the ground after picking up an extra couple of yards. It appears Dukes can improve on locating the ball in the air and using proper timing to go up and get it.
So… the opposite of that ESPN evaluation. Back to Dubs:
As far as the eyeball test goes, Dukes did not seem to show a lot of explosiveness, either off the line or to create separation against the defenders (it was kind of a soggy/muggy night, so the field may have been less-than-pristine). There were many times in which the QB was scrambling and, rather than hit that extra gear, he seemed to simply jog. … he did look strong after the catch, breaking a few arm tackles and showing of a pretty solid stiff-arm.
And that's about it as far as scouting reports go. As mentioned, it seems like as soon as he got the Michigan offer he was content to focus on his game: no camps, no senior highlights, nothing. This partially explains the dearth of offers listed above: he may have got some additional ones, but Dukes doesn't give a dang about reporting them.
As you might imagine, a guy who cares not a whit about getting love from the recruiting services fits The Pattern. His coach:
"He's very coachable," Haffele said. "That's probably his biggest asset. When guys start getting recruited heavy, you get the 'me' thing and the 'I' thing, but you ask him to block, he will. He's an honest, coachable young man."
"He's a pretty good blocker. All that god-given talent he has. And then, once you meet the kid and talk to him, that's the selling point. He's just such a great kid."
Etc.: I've seen like four hook and ladders from his team just watching his film. Weird. He's the hook guy, FWIW.
Why Taller Junior Hemingway? Well, he's taller. He also promises to be a leaping downfield threat that goes up and high-points balls smaller defensive backs can't get to, the kind of guy that ends up on the end of a lot of "nonononono YESSSSS" balls. Hemingway was also a 3/4 star tweener, albeit one a bit more highly ranked than Dukes overall.
Dukes is going to be a big, thick kid, as well. Hopefully his blocking is better than Hemingway's, which was erratic at best.
Guru Reliability: Low. Guy was in stealth mode for much of his career.
Variance: Moderate. Top-end is not amazing; low end is Jeremy Jackson, a guy who just can't get out of the hip pocket of defensive backs.
Ceiling: Moderate. Is never going to be a guy who can crush you over the top, will have to work hard for most of the balls he brings in. A guy who gets more valuable as the field shrinks, though.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-minus. Again, seems like a useful piece instead of a potential #1. I think the class before this (Darboh, Chesson) and the two classes after (Ways, Canteen, Harris, Campbell) have about 4 candidates for the #1 jersey, though, so it's fine that this WR class will fill in the gaps.
Projection: One of the freshmen WR will play, and I couldn't tell you who. Whoever does will be mostly blocking, anyway. I'm guessing Dukes gets a redshirt because with Jeremy Gallon around Michigan doesn't need an endzone fade target.
Down the road, Dukes is in the same spot that his classmates are: looking up at the two guys from last year for the next couple years and watching tight end types eat into their playing time. Dukes's projected role as a sideline fade merchant will probably lock him in behind outside receivers until he's an upperclassman. Both York and Jones have attributes that project to the slot better.
Unless Dukes beats out one of the 2012 guys, when Darboh goes in three years Dukes will have his first major opportunity. By that point he'll have fierce competition from a third-year Drake Harris and second-year George Campbell. Michigan rotates their WRs to keep them fresh, so a role off the bench is not no role. I'm not sure Michigan's recruiting is going to allow Dukes a whole lot more unless Jehu Chesson doesn't work out (which he totally will) or injury strikes.