I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
I got into an argument with a Michigan State fan—yes, right there is the problem—about our respective kickers last year. In true Michigan-Michigan State fashion the Spartan was making points using selective data (Dan Conroy has a better leg!) and the Michigan fan spent way too much time building data and constructing charts to demonstrate a nuanced and supportable conclusion (Dan Conroy has a better leg but Gibbons was money inside the 40).
I pulled kicking data from NCAA's game summaries and managed to get data points on 241 field goal attempts by Big Ten kickers last season. I also plugged each kicker's season into a Sabre.com formula for rating the position created by a guy named Jeff Yutzler, but his formula is WAY too kind in my opinion (as in there were 13 B1G kickers who scored in the A- range or above). For ease I've just ignored blocked FGAs since there's little the kicker can do about those. Table? Table.
|Big Ten Total||x||73/79||56/74||40/66||7/16||74.89%||94.3%|
Michigan: home of high yutz values
This says Michigan's kicking is was really darn good, though low sample size applies for Wile of course. Here's a chart of Michigan and Michigan State field goal attempts last year. X axis and size represent distance, Y axis is the order in which the kicks were attempted. Click bigginses:
Gibbons was perfect inside 42 yards, though in comparison to the Big Ten he took a lot of kicks in that sweet 25-35 yard range. Wile was obviously the long guy.
Conroy was deployed a lot, and here you see he seemed to have a big hole from 35-45 yards. Inside that he's great, outside of that he's great; for some reason the dude missed a ton of FGs from medium range. Sort him by distance and it reads 13 goods, whiff, whiff, whiff, whiff, whiff, whiff, good, good, whiff, good, whiff, good, good, good, good, whiff, good, good, good. Kickers: weird.
[The rest of the conference after the jump.]
Michigan picked up their first* commitment of the 2015 class last night when Massillon (OH) Washington kicker Andrew David pledged mere hours after receiving his Wolverine offer. David worked out for the coaches recently and clearly impressed the staff with his ability. For their part, the coaches didn't have to do much to convince David, a lifelong Michigan fan, that Ann Arbor is the place for him ($):
“I grew up a Michigan fan,” David said. “My wardrobe and my carpet in my room are maize and blue. It was a lifelong dream to go there and now it’s coming true. It’s awesome.”
David is now joined in the class by PA OL Jon Runyan Jr., whose commitment post will be up later.
*Sort of: current grayshirt commit FL DT Brady Pallante will join the team in 2015, as well.
|Scout||Rivals||ESPN||247 Sports||247 Comp.|
|NR K||NR K||NR K||NR K||NR K|
Yes, the kicker from the future is unranked on the sites that pay attention to kickers only after they commit. For a better idea at what Michigan is getting, we look to Chris Sailer Kicking, which ranks David as the #6 kicking prospect in the 2015 class; he's the only committed player on the list, and interestingly the lone Midwest kicker to crack the top 50.
For the sake of comparison, Sailer ranked 2013 preferred walk-on J.J. McGrath 68th in the 2013 class. Make no mistake, David is a big-time prospect at his position.
Surprise! The evaluations start with... Chris Sailer, who's already updated David's profile since his commitment:
Andrew is a great young kicker. A fine athlete with a strong leg. Field goals are outstanding. He is smooth, technically sound, and consistent. Kickoffs are solid and will only continue to improve. Also shows punting ability. Makes great strides each time we see him. Is going to be a top kicker in this class for years to come. Has the right attitude and excellent work ethic. Great prospect. Nice early pick up for Michigan!
Don't get thrown off by the 4.5-star rating (by Sailer's system, between a D-I and D-II prospect), as that's the highest rating he's given out for the 2015 class thus far — those will obviously be updated after the next round of camps. A further explanation of why Sailer's rankings are relied upon so heavily comes from a local news article on David:
“If you’re in the top 10 with Sailer, then you should be a scholarship kicker at the BCS level,” [Scout's Bill] Greene said. “That’s how important that is.”
One of the reasons why kicking gurus like Sailer are important is college head coaches really don’t know what they’re getting in a kicker.
“A ranking like Sailer for kickers is actually bigger than the Elite 11,” Greene said. “Those college coaches get a kid on campus and they know what they want in a quarterback. Coaches have no clue about kickers. Urban Meyer knows about quarterbacks. ... Coaches know they don’t know more about kicking prospects than Sailer.
At the Sailer kicking competition last winter, David finished second in the highlight event, "Last Man Standing", connecting on a 55-yard field goal and just missing a 58-yarder in the final round.
David burst onto the scene as a freshman at Massillon, when early in the season he faced a 46-yard field goal into the wind and drilled it—despite thinking he had mis-hit the kick:
“Every kick’s got to be the same,” David said this week. “I knew there was some wind gust. I knew if I hit it right and hit it straight that I have the power to get it there. I followed through, kept my head down and hit it.”
Even with all of that, he admitted to not knowing whether he had put it through the uprights. In fact, to him, things just didn’t feel right when the ball left his right foot.
“At first, I really didn’t think it was going in,” David said. “I turned around and got my stuff. I was pretty mad, then I heard everybody start to cheer. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t really think I hit it that well. I got it off the front of my foot, but I got it.”
When working out for Michigan's coaches, David showed off his power and accuracy in earning an offer ($):
"They had me kick off the ground, not with the tee, and I hit 14 of 15 kicks from 50 yards," David continued. "It was a great workout and I felt I did my best. My kickoffs were strong also, and I thought they would offer, although I didn't know it would be this soon. For me, there was no reason to wait, because Michigan is the only school I've ever thought of attending. This is a definite dream come true for me and my family."
Even for an elite kicker, this is early for a player to be that proficient at kicking without a tee; this should allow David to be more college-ready than most incoming freshmen at his position.
Michigan was the first school to offer David a scholarship. Given his Wolverine allegiance, I'd expect they'll be the last, too.
Massillon Washington is one of Ohio's most storied football programs, claiming 24 state championships and nine national titles. Michigan's recent history with the program has been, well, a little rocky: their marquee commit from the Tigers was 2009 five-star bust Justin Turner, and in the 2013 class Gareon Conley made a well-publicized flip from Michigan to Ohio State.
David is 6-of-11 on field goals of 40-yards the last two years of varsity football. That includes a 46-yarder as a freshman that he drilled at InfoCision Stadium in a game against Hoban. He is 88-of-95 on PATs and 13-of-24 on field goals.
He was better as a sophomore having converted 56 of 61 PAT kicks and he hit three field goals in a win against McKinley last year. He scored 13 points in that game.
As important is his booming kickoffs. Of his 74 kickoffs, 31 went for touchbacks.
FAKE 40 TIME
He's a kicker.
This video from a Sailer camp shows all of two kicks, but it gives you an idea of David's leg strength:
If you're really curious, the "David Andrew" Hudl page features remarkably extensive highlights from both his freshman and sophomore seasons.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
When David gets to campus, both Brendan Gibbons and Matt Wile will be gone from the program, leaving him to compete with 2013 walk-on J.J. McGrath (and perhaps another walk-on or two, as well) for the starting job at both placekicker and kickoff specialist. Since we're talking about the fickle position of kicker here, I won't bother to make any attempt at a prediction about David's career; being a top-ten prospect nationally is a good start, though.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The 2015 class, at this point, is projected to be very small (like, <15 players), but with a year-and-a-half until their signing day any number put forth right now is certain to grow. We do know this: Michigan has their kicker and are done recruiting at that position, both for the 2014 class (at least as far as scholarships go) and 2015.
A horribly enlightening graph. FEI and I were getting along just great until Mr. Fremeau had to go and put our kicker situation in a neat graph. Sit down and get a bucket, as this is a graph of Michigan's attempts against those of FEI #1 kicker Alex Henery of Nebraska:
This is nothing you didn't already know, but Michigan threw away 16 points on field goal attempts this year and was forced into some uncomfortable situations on fourth down because of those big red dots. I'm not sure if those were actual negatives because sometimes this happened:
Romer disciples would say being forced to go for it in that down and distance is probably a net benefit since anyone attempting a 50-yard field goal is going to have difficulties. There were certain situations less friendly, however, and Michigan still had to go because asking for anything more than an extra point was doom.
Michigan might need a kicker in this class.
A minor debunk. One of the rumors wandering around message boards was that Calvin Magee went down to Gainesville a couple weeks ago, supposedly to interview for a job. Given what we know about the Florida coaching situation (Meyer was days away from retiring) that doesn't make any sense and can probably be dismissed, and I can confirm from an excellent source that Magee never met with anyone at Florida. File that in the dustbin of history next to All Of Iowa Is Suspended.
It's a tragedy when you don't get along with your groin. The injury that held Bryan Hogan out of the Big Chill will sideline him for "at least a month," according to AnnArbor.com. That sidelines him for the GLI—a tournament Michigan should win even without him—and an early January series against the State team Michigan just beat 5-0 and is languishing near the bottom of the league standings. It sucks for Hogan to miss out just as he was establishing himself the starter but if he's got to be out a month this is the one to miss.
It is again the groin, but a different bit of the groin:
"But he made one move and he could just feel it."
Berenson said Hogan partially tore a tendon or muscle in his groin, but that it has nothing to do with the injury Hogan suffered last year.
A midseason review of the hockey team on AA.com points out that however frustrating the first half of the season has been Michigan's come out of it in decent shape. A quick glance at College Hockey Stats shows that Michigan's scoring margin is amongst the national leaders:
[Michigan opponents in italics.]
They're 12th, and that's with a few minor schools and ECAC pushovers in front of them. They're 11th in KRACH, which seems about right—a solid tournament team but not a top seed. (My usual complaint about KRACH is it overrates nonconference games and piles WCHA teams atop the rankings, and this is again true.) I'm still concerned that any mildly competent defensive team can reduce Michigan to pinging shots from the point and hoping something wacky happens. This will have to be true…
"I think we expected to be a little further ahead - but not a lot," Berenson said Tuesday. "You can't say, 'Oh, we're going to expect to lose four games in the first half.' I mean, which games are you expecting to lose? I wasn't expecting us to have four ties. … Our best hockey is still ahead of us.
"I think we've seen some glimpses, some good signs, and I think the second half will be our best half. But we're right there. We're knocking on the door. We're not bad."
…if Michigan is going to go into the tournament expecting something good.
Tearing it up. Michigan's current* 2011 signees continue to raise their stock of late. It was Trey Burke making a late-summer push at AAU events across Ohio, but as they enter their senior years its Brundidge making waves:
Brundidge opened the season up with 41 points in a blow out win over Mount Clemens but the competition began to heat up this week as Southfield traveled to Romulus, a consensus top 5 team in the state of Michigan. The burly guard answered the challenge as he poured in 29 points, 8 rebounds, and eight assists in a 78-70 victory. Unofficially, Brundidge was 6 of 12 from the field (2-6 3pt) and 11 of 13 from the free throw stripe.
Vince Baldwin took to the twitters to rave about Brundidge's passing in the aftermath.
As for Burke, he's shooting 79(!!!) percent in two games so far. Adding that guard tandem to Morris, and Douglass and you're verging on… loaded? Can we possibly say that about Michigan basketball? I'm confused.
*(There's still the possibility of a third if Michigan finds a guy—probably a Euro—they want.)
Meanwhile on Kenpom. Michigan poked its hypothetical head above .500 after the Utah game and is now sitting at 17-14 with seven conference wins. Every time I check it it seems they've moved up a spot or two thanks to other teams falling back; they're up to 59th now, twenty spots higher than they were about a week ago. Saturday's game against Oakland is a big one—the Grizzlies just beat Tennessee and played Michigan State to the wire. Win that and it's time to start eyeing an NIT bid.
In other tempo-free stat news, Big Ten Geeks points out that while North Carolina Central is bad, they have never been quite as bad as they were against Michigan—their 0.78 points per trip was a season worst. This is a Beilein team built on… defense? As long as the team is bricking wide-open threes by the bunch, apparently. On WTKA today Beilein said a couple items of note:
- They'd gone straight man to man the whole year because the team is very young and they'd rather do one thing well than a few things poorly.
- "This is Division I basketball" and when you have a wide open shot you have to take it. It doesn't sound like he's displeased with anything from the first half except the fact the ball didn't go in the basket. You could chalk it up to it being just one of those things… if this wasn't the third straight year Michigan hefted a ton of threes (16th nationally) and didn't make any of them (255th).
One step ahead of you. AA.com suggests a fix for the Big Ten logo fiasco:
The Big Ten can backtrack with a press release that says something to the effect of “we are sure honored to have such passionate fans, and we’ve heard their voices.”
Then hold a contest. Fans submit their best ideas for new division names and new logo - there are plenty of good ones floating around the Internet in recent days, ideas that exceed the cartoonish one delivered by the conference.
Hmmm. The M Zone tweaked the popular Tscherne entry by fanning the team logos out underneath the shield:
Now you can remember who's in what division. These are ordered alphabetically but maybe they could put the division champs on top every year? Or they could just go with the horrible periwinkle.
Etc.: The 85k number cited by Guinness is provisional "with the numbers continuing to increase." Dear Lynn Henning: I would have rewritten your column like so: "Yes." Further adventures in scouting Mississippi State continue with a breakdown of Dan Mullen's TE shovel pass, AKA "binky," which he's still running to good effect.
Hard edge. Via Martell Webb's twitter, here's Webb and Devin Gardner in their CB4 phase:
Needs moar jericurl but pretty good otherwise.
Pay your rent, eh? So Kenny Demens and Boubacar Cissoko have gotten sued for not paying rent. Like, any rent:
Hidden Valley Club Apartments is suing Demens and Cissoko for $9,925, plus interest and attorney fees. The suit, filed in 15th District Court, alleges Demens and Cissoko signed a lease, agreeing to pay $850 each month for an apartment from May 1, 2009, through May 31, 2010. The apartment complex “fully performed all of its obligations under the lease,” the suit claims, but Demens and Cissoko “failed to pay the agreed upon rent.”
Demens was served with the suit Sept. 27, court papers filed this month say. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.
…and Demens being locked on the bench for the first six games gets a lot less mysterious. They're suing for 11.5 of 13 months worth of rent, so they probably paid a security deposit and then never wrote another check. Maybe the details will again point to Boubacar Cissoko and his sad disintegration, but it's probably hard to put your faith in a guy who's involved in a suit like that.
Hockey time. It's a bye weekend for football but Michigan has a key nonconference series against UNO coming up. UNO recently left the conference for the WCHA and so far they're the top-scoring team in the country; that's a little worrying after Michigan gave up more than 40 shots and required what sounded like a stand-on-your head performance from Shawn Hunwick to tie UNH 3-3. UNO is #10 in the most recent polls and pounded Michigan last year in the series that finally killed Michigan's flickering at-large hopes.
The games figure to be choppy. Via Yost Built:
They're also 10th in the country in PIMs at 20.5 per night. That's still far behind Michigan's national lead at 26.2 minutes a night. You know the CCHA officials are salivating. Don't expect much flow to these games.
Hopefully that's an aberration born of small sample size for Michigan. Even if it is, special teams will be key.
Old school. I link a lot of MVictors stuff on the sidebar but every once in a while it's good to put it on the front page in case anyone's new and hasn't been brought up to speed on the awesome historical content provided by Mr. Dooley. A post earlier this week on the 1910 season is extensive and awesome, as you can see at right.
"They are the men who stayed indoors during last year's underclass war." "Outrages of a further and still more vicious character were being planned and executed." This is why Mad Men is such a cultural touchstone. I miss newspapers that wrote like that and people who talked like that, or newspapers that massaged quotes so it seemed like they did. Same difference.
Michigan punched Ohio State to death 33-6, by the way, and slid by Michigan State 6-3 in a game the Daily headlined like so: "VARSITY BESTS FARMERS IN HARD-FOUGHT BATTLE." The Notre Dame game was cancelled because of a dispute over ineligible players, causing the Daily to sub-hed their article "Cancellation of today's game probably ends relations with Catholics." Sure, polio and whatever, I don't care: 1910 was awesome. Michigan even won the national title.
Ban Salsua Secundus. If you were doing that thing where you knew you'd seen that Oregon team before but couldn't quite put your finger on it, I can help you out: they are Sardaukar—relentlessly drilled, elaborately and garishly costumed, and completely without mercy.
Old stuff you've probably already seen. Wojo interview with Rich Rodriguez is frank:
Q: But most of the criticism is simply based on your won-loss record (13-18).
A: No question. That's the reality of it. OK, but why are the wins and losses there?
Q: Tell me, what are people missing?
A: In football, it's not as easy as saying, 'OK, you go to a place like Michigan that has so much winning tradition, you can screw up and win eight or nine, right?' Maybe that's not the case.
I think every program nowadays, it's not as easy to win. It doesn't automatically happen. I'm not making excuses, I'm just telling the truth. We haven't been good enough, but we're getting closer, and we'll get there. But it's gonna take longer than anybody wants, especially us.
So was Rodriguez's joke about Vince Lombardi not having a magic wand that he can come in and wave to make Avery, Talbott, and Cullen Christian juniors, but that didn't prevent Drew Sharp from calling Rodriguez Bobby Williams or this guy with a wicked leather jacket from writing something that I can link because it's not (quite) stupid enough to kill the elderly:
In the midst of a two-game losing streak where your team is giving up an average of 36 points, and with your defense ranked in the bottom 20 of college football, the best thing to do is joke about it.
Not so subtly hidden in all the knee-slappers Rodriguez delivered Monday was him taking zero responsibility for his defense's short-comings.
Behind closed doors, he can talk about his lack of contributions to the defense all he wants. To the media and Wolverine fans, Rich Rod has to be accountable for everything his team does.
Media people of earth: words said in press conferences do not matter. Rodriguez is fully aware that he needs to win games to keep his job. "Taking zero responsibility" is just answering your inane questions for the tenth time in a half hour with something other than Senator Tressel's ray of infinite boredom. This guy with a wicked leather jacket later fulminates that "this is not the time for levity." John McKay disagrees, and everyone's better off for it. Rodriguez should have gone with this after the 605th question about Denard's durability:
Following a game in 1967 in which O.J. Simpson carried the ball over 30 times, Mckay was asked "Why are you giving the ball to Simpson so often?" McKay replied, "Why not? it's not heavy, and he doesn't belong to a union."
But no. Press Conference is Serious Business.
This is what happens when you don't actually have anything useful to say. It's also why newspaper commentary is down to cheap outrage and the Washington Post making a content-sharing deal with Bleacher Report makes sense. Who can tell the difference? One RABBLE is like any other once it passes through an editor that turns it into English.
Kicking argh. I thought this was going to be a Rivals article from The Wolverine, but it turns out to be an incredibly well-timed article from the AP about kickers and how college kids are basically on their own:
Many coaches admit they don’t have any expertise in kicking and say they can’t devote an assistant coach solely to teaching it. The NCAA limits schools to one head coach, nine assistant coaches and two graduate assistants, and most programs choose to focus their staffs on positions from quarterback to defensive tackle to fullback.
That means the kickers end up coaching themselves to a large degree.
“A lot of them have got to be masters of their own trade, and that’s a discipline part of being a kicker at this level,” said Eric Russell, the Tennessee special teams coach who splits time between the kicking game and supervising tight ends.
“You’ve got to be able to correct yourself,” he said. “You don’t get a lot of one-on-one attention, and you’ve got to be able to adjust on a dime.”
Michigan's stellar 2 for 8 is mentioned. I'm not sure what Rodriguez can do about the current situation except spend another scholarship on a kicker this February and hope. That would have Michigan in the unusual situation of having two guys on scholarship at the same time, but is there any other freshman who can come in and radically improve his position from day one? Other than Dee Hart?
Etc.: "Superdenardman and Young Tatewalker." OSU blogs break down what went wrong against Wisconsin, and also what went wrong against Wisconsin. General replicability of these things by Michigan: minimal. Holdin' the Rope takes a breath and looks around.
This GBW article which is tempo-free has some indication of who's going to be Rivas' replacement. Michigan has a preferred walk-on offer for Matthew Waldron, who's kicking for the East w/ Mesko at the AA game. After Rivas departs he'll get a scholarship if he accepts the offer.