in town for free camps
Hooray for automatic translations. Via BHGP:
Michigan State's, on the other hand, have been very naughty lambs.
Personally, I am deeply affected by this. I am in favor of Michigan's just-approved basketball facilities in all ways except one:
That real estate is the home of my ancestral tailgate. Ah well. The plans look very nice, though, and should help the program steady itself as a respectable one (or better!). More at UM Hoops.
Yes yes yes maybe? 100 cocktails to Yostal, who gets a question in to Chris Brown at EDSBS and extracts a thousand or so words on Michigan from one of college football's most interesting bloggers—apparently Brown's article on Tressel was specifically mentioned by the man himself on a radio appearance! Yostal's question has to do with Michigan's attempt to shoehorn both Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson into useful roles on the field. Brown:
I think the winds are changing, and a two-quarterback system is quite possible. At its best you are likely to have the system Florida used to win the 2006 title: a starting quarterback in charge of most of the offense (Chris Leak), and a second guy with special abilities for whom a package is installed (then-freshman Tim Tebow). This example has now been made universal throughout football under the nauseatingly overused rubric, “the wildcat.” (Had “wildcat” been around in 2006 think of all of the puns Dan Shanoff could have used to describe how Meyer used his young talent.) The reason that works though is because you choose a starting quarterback for one set of skills (passing, reading the defense, making checks, accuracy, some athleticism, etc) but another guy opens up a new dimension because of their running ability, and the spread with a mobile guy gives the offense certain numerical advantages it doesn’t get with an immobile quarterback.
Read or die. /diddy.
Do we care about this? The Detroit News has an article about how a bunch of Michigan coaches have loans from the Bank of Ann Arbor, which is a potential conflict of interest for Bank of Ann Arbor founder Bill Martin:
"I don't suggest banks to any coach," he said. "I don't ever get involved in their financial affairs in any way, shape or form. I believe it would be a conflict of interest (to do so)."
But Martin also acknowledged that now that he is aware of the loans, it does create a conflict.
"Now that I know, I don't like it necessarily," he said. "When you don't know, you don't have a conflict."
This contradicts an earlier statement by Martin. Is this of interest to anyone other than the Bank of Ann Arbor corporate board? I'm thinking not so much.
The scene of the crime. Johnny Sears (Yes That Johnny Sears), now a senior, makes his return to Michigan Stadium tomorrow. Jokes aside, and there is plenty of material, it sounds like Sears has come a long way from the events that precipitated his dismissal:
“I was on the practice squad on my junior college. I didn’t even get to play. Sometimes by myself I thought like, ‘Is it worth it?’ but then I felt like, ‘OK I really want to play football.’ That’s my love. It’s my escape from things. This is what I love to do so I just wanted to make sure I could do that.”
And okay, yes, it is a little funny that Sears ended up on a JUCO's practice squad after starting The Horror. Funny in a sad clown way. When you're discussing the clunky end of the Carr era, "started sophomore DB who had never played varsity football before he got an offer and couldn't crack a JUCO 2-deep after he left because he seemed like the best option" should be somewhere on the list.
"The only time I really see [Florida] lose kids is because kids want to play in a pro-style offense," Kiffin said. "It’s such a great place to play, and they do such a good job of coaching. But you see some kids that don’t want to play in that system because a lot of times it hurts them going to the next level for their draft status."
This will be read as a tiny bit douchy by most and with white-hot rage by one Urban Meyer, and won't be much of an argument going forward:
- Three spread offense receivers (Crabtree, Missouri's Jeremy Maclin, and Florida's Percy Harvin) were taken in the first round of last year's draft. The only tight end taken in the first round (Oklahoma State's Brandon Pettigrew) came from a spread offense.
- Both Harvin and Louis Murphy, from Florida's very spread offense, started on opening day for their teams and both caught touchdown passes.
- Sam Bradford was predicted to be a top ten pick had he come out last year and is the top quarterback prospect for 2010. He plays in a spread offense in Oklahoma.
- The top two offensive lineman prospects for 2010 according to ESPN (Oklahoma State's Russell Okung and Oklahoma's Trent Williams) block in spread offenses.
It does not matter much what sort of offense you play in as far as the NFL goes.
Moose replace. David Moosman's out this weekend. The replacement derby:
Michigan right guard Dave Moosman suffered a dislocated shoulder against Notre Dame and may miss two weeks. Starting right tackle Mark Huyge moved to Moosman's spot and Perry Dorrestein filled in for Huyge at the end of last week's game. Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez is uncertain about this week's starting plans with Wauseon redshirt freshman Elliott Mealer one of three others being considered.
I'm hoping one of the redshirt freshman breaks through for the long term, but it sounds like it'll be someone more veteran. AA.com says junior John Ferrara is likely to be the guy.
KOVAAAAAAAAACS. A fair amount of attention has been paid to Jordan Kovacs this week, and why not? He's only an unrecruited walk-on who played much of the second half against Notre Dame and did not end up plastered on the bottom of Michael Floyd's foot. Kovacs actually had to try out twice because the first time he tried to sign up he had serious knee issues the athletic department didn't want to volunteer to fix. He got the surgery himself, tried out, made the team, and took a valuable lesson from the whole thing:
"I said I'm never going to come back to the training room," he said. "I'll have to be dying."
Er. Well. A lesson of some variety at least. The official site has their version of Kovacs' life story and a helpful reader forwarded along this article from a 1983 edition of the Toledo Blade that has an article on Lou Kovacs, Jordan's father and a walk-on himself. Bo on the elder Kovacs:
"Having an individual participate in our football program and then continue on is one of the most important aspects we have in this program at any coaching level, and having someone like Lou is even more gratifying because we like to have young men like him stay on in coaching."
That right there is black-belt level coachspeak.
Weis one-ups. This is the most quintessentially Charlie Weis sentence ever:
At fullback they have a versatile fullback who plays fullback in Hawken who plays fullback, but he moves around a lot, giving them a lot of the versatility along with the multiple tight ends they have because they do play three of them.
Bloated, meandering, repetitive, full of fail. A sentence or a life in coaching? Zing!
Etc.: Bacon's latest for Michigan Today has an extensive discussion of the 50 Yard Line club. Yes, that 50 Yard Line Club. "Lose yourself" hype video. Misopogon sees dead cornerbacks in Boubacar Cissoko.
BRANDON HARRISON - CB - Chaminade-Julienne(OH)
Height: 5'9" Weight: 190
Lemming: #11 CB
Rivals: ****, #16 CB, #11 OH
Scout.com: ****, #17 CB
Projected Role: Elfin cover corner
How does a 5'9" guy get four stars from recruiting services and offers from Michigan, Iowa, and Notre Dame? Running an electronically-timed 4.25 forty (check the linkfest) at the OSU Nike camp will just about do it. It also helps to lead your team to a 9-4 record by playing corner, free safety, running back, wide receiver, kick returner and punt returner after the other D-1 prospect on your team, Michigan State commit Javon Ringer, goes down with a knee injury midway through the season.
Harrison committed to Notre Dame early in the recruiting year but reopened his recruiting when Tyrone Willingham was shown the door. He quickly picked the Wolverines over Iowa. OSU showed little interest throughout his recruitment, possibly because they recruited 8,000 defensive backs the past two years.
Harrison is clearly physically limited. That 5'9" is more like 5'8.5", and as anyone who watched Braylon Edwards annihilate 5'9" Jaren Hayes during this year's MSU game will tell you, when you're a cornerback size does matter. Harrison isn't a Marlin Jackson type player you can throw out against any receiver you want to erase, but he's no scrub either. Look at this video from Insiders (free): whenever he's challenged by an opposing team he is in great position, looking for the ball and making a play on it. If he was three inches taller he'd be Justin King.
He isn't three inches taller. He isn't Justin King or Marlin Jackson, but he should be the kind of player you can line up over a slot receiver like Dorien Bryant or Bam Childress. He's certainly going to be fast enough to play corner and will probably have to do so very shortly after arriving on campus (no pun intended).
JOHNNY SEARS - CB - Edison(CA)
Height: 6'1" Weight: 178
Rivals: ***, #26 CB, #56 CA
Scout.com: ***, #31 CB
Projected Role: Boom or bust at CB
More on the movie poster later. Sears is one of two California sleepers (Chris Richards is the other) that will make or break this recruiting class and possibly the Michigan defense. By the time Sears stepped onto the field to play his first varsity football game--he transferred to Edison for his junior season and was forced to play JV due to California transfer rules--he was already a Michigan commitment. He had never set foot on the Michigan campus. Late his junior year, his appendix burst at a track meet. In the aftermath, he lost 30 pounds.
So it may be a bit of an understatement to declare Sears a risk. When Michigan took him they undoubtedly thought they would receive a commitment from Justin King or Victor Harris and that if Sears took a couple years to find his way at the Big Ten level that would be fine. Neither of those five-stars ended up leaving home, however, leaving Sears all by his lonesome in this year's cornerback class until Ty Willingham was unceremoniously dismissed by ND and Harrison fell into Michigan's lap.
Recruited as an athlete, Sears played like a big-time corner this year, racking up 103 tackles and 7 interceptions for Edison. He's still got the impressive combination of size, speed, and leaping ability that prompted Michigan to offer a kid who had never attended a Michigan camp or played a down of varsity football. There's certainly a possibility that Sears was overlooked by the big time schools in the area due to his low profile. He could be a Braylon Edwards-type athlete at corner. Or he could be not much at all. (How's that for a nothing statement? Pretty good, I think. But it's true.)
CHRIS RICHARDS - CB - North Hills Monroe(CA) (Greyshirt)
Height: 5'10" Weight: 170
Rivals: ***, #61 ATH, #71 CA
Scout.com: ***, #55 CB
Projected Role: See you in two years, kid
For some reason, typing "chris.richards" into Google's image search yields a the "Undercover Brother" promo poster seen at left on page five or six. Serendipity indeed, because Richards is indeed undercover. And a brother. Just like Johnny Sears. In fact, Richards' recruitment was eerily similar to Sears'. Both California sleepers that Michigan jumped on very early, Richards and Sears both drew late interest from big Pac-10 programs. Both freaked out Michigan recruitniks with their flirtations--Sears visited Oregon State; Richards actually was a Cal commit for 24 hours. Both are reservoirs of untapped potential.
Richards is a year young for his high school graduating class and will be taking a greyshirt to catch up physically. He may not need that long, as showed up at the CaliFlorida bowl weighing 170 pounds--up from the slender 155 he played his senior season at--and played very well against a set of Florida receivers including Fred Rouse, one of the top recruits in the country. Richards picked off a pass and could have had two more. It is unwise to place too much stock in all-star game performances but history has proven that good ones (Ginn, Breaston) are often indications that the player's athleticism is sky-high. Richards didn't exactly dominate like Ginn or Breaston but he did prove that he is certainly capable of competing with top flight athletes.
Richards is more raw clay for English. He won't play next year. He may even redshirt the following year (otherwise, why bother with the greyshirt at all?). But there's something there already which is only going to get bigger, stronger and faster. Dude is dedicated to his cause. He put on those 15 pounds in only a few months between the end of his high school season and the CaliFlorida All-Star game. Like Sears, Richards is high risk, high reward.
NIC HARRIS - S - Alexandria(LA)
Height: 6'3" Weight: 208
Lemming: #11 S
Rivals: ****, #94 overall, #5 S, #3 LA
Scout.com: ****, #92 overall, #14 LB
Projected Role: Search and destroy
Check out the Nic Harris linkfest for a few action photos of him. It's telling that in two of three (including the one at left) he's murdering some poor Louisiana kid who was in the wrong place (anywhere around the ball) at the wrong time (any time Harris is on the field).
Harris is a package of physical ability, intangibles, and academic performance that doesn't come around very often. Harris is 6'3, 210, with a 35 inch vertical leap and that ubiqitous 4.5 forty time. He is also tougher than most, playing most of a first-round playoff game after taking a vicious cheap shot while attempting to fair catch a punt. Harris picked off a pass late in the fourth quarter to seal the game away. Then he went to the hospital. He also has a 3.4 GPA.
Harris is a relative newcomer to defense, having only played it for his final two years in high school. He adapted quickly, however, intercepting 10 passes as a junior. As a senior, Harris gathered 71 tackles, 11 interceptions, three sacks, and the LA class 4A defensive MVP award. He returned 9 of his 21 career interceptions for touchdowns, returned punts and kicks, and took the occasional handoff as a tailback.
Harris may end up at linebacker at Michigan, but will start out at safety. No matter where he ends up his nose for the ball and tendency to show up at the point of attack with malicious intent will be welcome.
ZOLTAN "THE INCONCEIVABLE" MESKO - P - Twinsburg(OH)
Height: 6'4" Weight: 220
Rivals: ***, #2 K/P
Scout.com: ***, #4 P
Projected Role: Program savior
Best. Punter. Ever. Ever!!!
Seriously. Lemming called Mesko the "best high school punter in the last ten years." As a senior he averaged 43.6 yards a kick with 4.4 seconds of hang time. At the Army All-American game people stopped practicing to watch him punt (and he beat Iowa QB recruit Jake Christensen in a QB skills competition). At Michigan camp, well (lifted from the linkfest):
...the stakes were raised a month later when he [Mesko] attended the Michigan camp, averaged 48.5 yards per kick with an average hang time of 4.6 seconds and was offered a scholarship as a punter on the spot -- which he accepted less than a day later.
The hang time is the most critical aspect of his game, especially since Michigan's punt coverage has been notoriously bad for a while. The half-second or so that separates Mesko from your average punter probably means 40 percent fewer returned kicks, a comforting thought with Ted Ginn looming the next two or three Novembers.
Mesko will punt from day one at Michigan and will likely handle kickoffs as well, as he put 85 percent of them into the endzone as a senior. If he can pooch punt he really will be the best punter Michigan has had in forever. Even if he's not particularly good at that he should singlehandedly move opposing offenses back a few yards a possession and almost eliminate opponents' kickoff returns, which is well, well worth one scholarship out of 85.
MGOBLOG Editorial Stance
Defensive Backs: B-. Michigan needed a sure thing and had two five-stars in its sights but could not close the deal on either. The three corners they did get all have serious question marks: Harrison is undersized and both Richards and Sears are sleepers--cynics would say "risks."
The news isn't all bad, though. Nic Harris is a big get, a prototypical SS with a propensity to leave opposing players face-down on the field wishing they were dead or at least unconscious. Harrison probably is as fast as reputed. His much-publicized 4.25 was a Nike camp thing. Even if the track was a little fast that day, he still beat every other attendee and won the camp's MVP award. Sears and Richards both got chased by Pac-10 schools all year (USC and OSU for Sears, Cal and WSU for Richards), were impressive enough to offer very early, and seem to have high ceilings. Sears' lack of experience and Richards' youth and small size make them risky prospects, but the fact that despite those drawbacks Michigan offered both of them very early implies that they have enough athleticism to make those concerns secondary.
How much you like this class of defensive backs is probably a reflection of how much you trust Ron English's ability to identify raw talent and coach it up... certainly a question mark since his tenure at Michigan has been very brief. At the very least, the Undercover Brothers look promising. The fact that Pac-10 teams made late-season runs at both of them is encouraging, as was Richards' bravura performance in the CaliFlorida All-Star game. The way they were recruited makes it look like English pulled a fast one, locked up a couple guys when their stock was low, and managed to hold on to them when they blowed up. Brandon Harrison looks like the kind of player who can step in quickly and hold his own. He's not the next Woodson but it looks like he has a nose for the ball and will be a productive player. Harris has all the physical tools to become a great safety. He may not have the coaching, but that's a separate issue.
Kickers: A. Michigan has a new attitude about special teams that is beginning to pay dividends. Mesko is the latest piece of evidence, and possibly the best. Michigan's net punting was 77th in the country last year, due to a variety of factors: Finley's propensity to line-drive long punts and boom short ones into the end zone, a block against MSU, Michigan's inability to deal with Ted Ginn or Ryne Robinson. Mesko won't solve those problems by himself but should move Michigan up the list with his hangtime. One opposing high school coach said he was a "weapon" when it came to pinning opposing teams inside their 20, so he has to be better than Finley.
Compare Michigan's punting statistics with Tennessee's Dusty Colquitt, a Mesko-like punter who will go in the second or third round in the upcoming draft. Michigan's opponents returned 56% of Finley's punts and averaged 13.1 yards a return. Tennessee's opponents returned 40% of Colquitt's punts and averaged 3.7 yards a return.
Michigan punted 66 times last season and kicked off 70 times. As near as I can figure, opposing teams started at about their 25 off of kickoffs. If Mesko can bump up the net punting three yards and bump back the opposing team's kickoff start three yards, he'll account for almost 420 extra yards of field opposing teams will have to travel to score. If he can get every kickoff into the endzone and get his net punting stats up to Colquitt's level, he'll account for almost 700 yards. That's huge.
Yes, I'm going to track this next season. No, I am not a virgin. (Unless my mom is reading, in which case, I am.)