What do you know about your defense now that you didn't know six weeks ago?
"I think we have a pretty good handle on our personnel right now in terms of strengths and weaknesses of guys individually and I think as a unit, too. It's been a really good spring. We've had quite a bit of reps out there in practice, in four hour practices. I think the main thing that I figured out about our defense is that they are willing to work. The guys, they competed every day we've been out there and they've really put the time in."
You said you kind of have a feel for their strengths and weaknesses. Would you say what their strengths are right now?
"Yeah, no, not necessarily more than that. Like I said, I think our group is really willing to work. They’ve been great in terms of learning our scheme throughout the spring. They come to meetings prepared, they come to practice prepared. I think that anytime you've got a hungry group that way I think there's good things ahead."
You came out here about a month ago said you wanted to throw as much at them as you could and then sort of whittle it down from there. Have you started to figure out what you think is going to work?
"Yeah, we have a pretty good idea. Starting on Saturday and then today's practice we started to move that way and narrow it down and sort of hone in on some of the things we’ll be doing more of and they've really responded well to that, too. We probably got to a point there later in the spring where it was becoming overload for them, which was good. We pushed them to that limit and they saw we scaled back how they performed; a credit to them, They've grasped what we've thrown at them."
You said everyone would start with a clean slate. Who are the impact players?
"I think to name just a few guys – there are a lot of guys who really made strides throughout the spring. There are some guys we just pointed out the other day on film from day one of spring until now they've made huge strides. Lawrence Marshall is a guy who– he's a young guy, he's a freshman – the first two practices it didn't barely look like he could lineup. Now he's out there and he's playing really well for us. We expect him to help us. But there's a lot of guys. There's a whole group of guys that are veterans who’ve played a lot of football around here that have made those improvements as well. I just think that they're pushing each other really well and they’re in the mindset every day whether it's meetings or practice to come to get better."
You guys lost both ends. Who's at the head of the defensive ends this spring?
"We’ve got several guys playing there. Wormley's playing some end, I mentioned Lawrence, Royce Jenkins-Stone is playing some end, we've even moved Mo Hurst out there a little bit to play some end, so we've done a combination of a lot of things. I think one of the bonuses to what we do schematically is the concepts carry over in fit so we're moving guys in different spots so when you do get injuries, you get nicked up, that's part of football– we have some guys we can put in there."
[After THE JUMP: linebacker talk and your regularly scheduled batch of Jabrill Peppers questions]
Not fair comparing Peppers to humans. [Upchurch]
Ace: Since there's always at least one: Who do you think becomes this year's Spring Breakout Guy?
Alex Cook (hoops beat): Can I answer with Jabrill Peppers? Last year was a complete and unmitigated disaster -- even our best recruit (of the past decade and perhaps longer) went down with an injury and missed pretty much the whole season. It's going to be easy for the national media to forget about him: Peppers didn't make any noise last year -- because of injury -- and Michigan isn't expected to do a whole lot (though we do have Harbaugh, which will be a well-tracked national storyline).
|I like big butts and we cannot lie, when we’re building an offensive line. When a kid walks in with fleet-foot spin, and lower-body weight you get sprung! [Upchurch]|
I'm a True Believer when it comes to Jabrill Peppers, especially after the move to safety, where he can be in the box and play a coverage guy in equal turn. The guy has "future top ten pick" written all over him and I'm guessing we'll hear all about that as spring progresses.
Seth: Yeah it'll be Peppers though we've been stoking that flame so long it can't be that much of a surprise when it goes up. So in the spirit of the annual "hey look what we found" of Spring let's go for a surprise candidate.
Logan Tuley-Tillman is what NFL left tackles are supposed to look like at 20 years old. Here's a guy who dropped 20 lbs from high school, then built back 10. He also had a hand injury last year to explain why he couldn't compete with a true freshman.
Brian on Monday mentioned a practice observer said the light went on. When that happens to a guy whose build matches the Michael Oher description from Blind Side, that means a Jake Long is born.
For LTT to crack the starting lineup now would mean he beat out (probably) Magnuson and Braden, two guys with 23 starts between them. Word from practice so far seems to be emphasizing that Cole and Miller are the only two OL from last year's unit who've locked down a job, then peg Cole as maybe moving to guard or RT. Reading between the lines it seems somebody’s job’s under fire from one of underclassmen. It could as well be Dawson—perhaps he can pull?—pushing from behind, since I’ve also read nice things about him coming out of practice, but the Cole thing suggests it’s a tackle who’s upsetting the standard order, and if that tackle was Magnuson we’d be hearing they plan to find a spot for Mags. Fox is still hurt, so that leaves JBB or LTT, and people are talking about the latter.
[Jump for more things Harbaugh makes better]
We get excited about certain things around these parts. Like fun-to-size ratios. And new official rosters with updated weights. We've had 24 hours to parse the Spring data, and with Brian on the road today it's up to me to see how they've grown:
Things of [a Certain Definition of] Interest:
- Brady Pallante is a fullback
- Ross Douglas is listed as Ross Taylor-Douglas, and is back at corner
- Ian Bunting is up to 6'7/243
- A.J. Williams is up to offensive tackle size (6'6/285)
Weight Gain/Loss 2000
A reminder of internet policy on weight changes: all weight gain is muscle fiber, all weight lost was fat, and all static weight means fat was replaced with muscle fiber. I've highlighted things discussed after.
|Player||'11||'12||'13||S'14||F'14||Sp'15||'11- '12||'12-'13||'13-'14||'14- 15|
Fullback & Tight End
|Maurice Hurst Jr.||270||277||282||281||12||-1|
[Hit the jump for discussion on this and other bits I could glean.]
A note before we start: this preview relies heavily on the defensive UFRs of last year because there’s a convenient numerical system that does a decent job of summing up a defensive player’s contributions. One caveat: the system is generous to defensive linemen and harsh to defensive backs, especially cornerbacks. A +4 for a defensive end is just okay; for a cornerback it’s outstanding.
|STRONG DE||Yr.||NOSE TACKLE||Yr.||3-TECH||Yr.||WEAK DE||Yr.|
|Brennen Beyer||Sr.||Ryan Glasgow||So.*#||Willie Henry||So.*||Frank Clark||Sr.|
|Taco Charlton||So.||Ondre Pipkins||Jr.||Chris Wormley||So.*||Mario Ojemudia||Jr.|
|Henry Poggi||Fr.*||Bryan Mone||Fr.||Maurice Hurst||Fr.*||Lawrence Marshall||Fr.|
It is time for Michigan to kick some ass on defense, and if they are going to do so it starts here: Michigan has two veteran, quality seniors playing defensive end spots they can hack this year. Both can really play; neither has broken through such that many people believe this.
It is go time for these gentlemen. Victory or death!
WEAKSIDE DEFENSIVE END
BEFORE PSU AFTER
hell yes I'm recycling this joke, because it was also Frank Clark's season
One of the more broadly correct bits of last year's preview was this section, which asked everyone to pump the breaks on the FRANK CLARK hype train:
The distance from Frank Clark 2012 to what he's supposed to be this year is immense. Too immense. I have to concede significant improvement to the chatter, but something along the lines of Tim Jamison (as a junior: 10 TFL, 5.5 sacks) would be a massive step forward.
Clark racked up 12 TFLs and 4.5 sacks. Self high five. I was broadly correct.
But though the stats and overall Tim Jamison-esque B+ season were accurate, the shape of that season is really promising. Clark started the year making little impact against MAC teams; he ended it by straight-up whipping Brandon Scherff and CJ Fiedorowicz en route to his second career game with a double-digit positive UFR score. He was a C at best to start; by the end he was an A-.
[After the JUMP: Frank Clark beasts up, fitting Beyer into the front, DEATH STARE 2014]
|Southfield, MI – 6'4", 245|
4*, #104 overall
#12 DE, #4 MI
3*, NR overall
#22 WDE, #7 MI
4*, #121 overall
#13 DE, #4 MI
4*, #221 overall
#11 WDE, #4 MI
|Other Suitors||OSU, MSU, Neb, Oklahoma, Tenn, Florida|
|YMRMFSPA||Taco Charlton/Frank Clark|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post.|
Via Maize and Blue News, single-game highlights of Marshall vs Farmington:
Despite twice fulfilling a lifelong dream to play for a prestigious football program, Lawrence Marshall had a rough, rough year. His father died from complications from diabetes; his grandfather followed a couple months later with heart issues. A few days after that, Marshall was on the field for Southfield, eye-black stickers under his eyes reading RIP.
Marshall soldiered on, and so will we. But, you know, keep it in mind.
About that "twice" bit in the previous paragraph: Marshall had one of the weirder recruitments in this class, as he leapt at an Ohio State offer on an early visit. That turned out to be a rather impulsive decision that he retracted a couple days after it happened; after opening up his recruitment he visited various places and eventually re-pulled the trigger in favor of Michigan, but not before picking up a number of impressive out-of-region offers, as listed above.
Those offers came because Marshall provides a physical package that promises an explosive edge rusher once he can fill out his frame. He'd already fielded Michigan and Michigan State offers by early in his junior year, when he was a relatively spindly 6'4", 205, because he can get in the backfield:
Marshall still has a lean frame, but he does not have issues with strength at the point of attack. He does a great job creating upfield momentum, which all starts with his explosive first step. Marshall comes off the line hard and low, and puts an exclamation point on his sacks by being a heavy hitter.
… an explosive weak-side defensive end that can really get after the quarterback. He has a quick first step and can close very well. Marshall shows great snap awareness, allowing him to get a jump on the opposing offensive tackle.
Marshall did not quite pull a Bryan Mone (MEEEEAAAAAAT), but he's filled out his frame relatively quickly. By the end of his senior season of high school he was 225; he told Mike Spath he was 240 at the Offense-Defense Bowl, the world's worst-named all star event; he's listed at 245 on Michigan's tentative roster. This process has apparently not damaged his quickness one bit. Marshall on Marshall:
"I didn't miss a step. Everything that I had before, I still had, but then my punches got stronger. I could feel myself beating the offensive linemen with better moves, with more power. And I think I actually got faster too because I added some explosion at the snap."
As the blockquotes below indicate, that is a consensus view.
Athleticism is Marshall's calling card, with everything else trailing behind. Trieu makes the case for:
Very long frame. Has great athleticism, change of direction and speed in pursuit. Has all of the tools to be an elite pass rusher, just needs continued work on his technique. …Has to add some weight, but all of the raw tools are there.
While the rankings above are nearly identical to Bryan Mone's—three sites around the 100 mark and Rivals shrugging—in this case Rivals has made its case thanks to the local reporters. Sullivan seemingly carpooled with Marshall to his games this year, and pointed out that while he's got upside he has trouble getting off blocks:
If his speed rush on the edge doesn't find home (and it only did on a couple occasions in this game), his counter moves are limited. … Most of Marshall's flaws are technique-related, and have little to do with his athletic ability (as is expected with someone in just his second year of varsity ball). In addition to limited use of his hands to fight off the blocker - which he did improve over the course of the game - he stands straight up on the snap too often, which is telegraphed by his stance.
Josh Helmholdt took in the Cass-Southfield opener:
He is best when he can line up outside at a seven- or nine-technique and use his speed to run by offensive tackles. He did that for a first-half sack and was tracking ball carriers to the other side of the field with his speed. Marshall has trouble releasing from offensive linemen once they get their hands on him. He shows flashes of explosive, athletic playmaking ability, but he needs to develop consistency to be an every-down defensive end at the college level.
That criticism was echoed by 247 after Lorenz attended the opener:
…still has difficulty disengaging blocks at points, but was very impressive physically and did not look even the slightest bit slower after putting on about 30 pounds since this time last season. He never quits on a play, and made a couple backside pursuit tackles that may have prevented Cass Tech touchdowns. He looked great.
Great is in the eye of the beholder, as always. As an athlete with potential develop, he looked great. As a technician, not so much. FWIW, ESPN's evaluation is surprisingly muted for a guy they have just outside their top 100, heavy on "flashes" and "can"; with a prospect like Marshall who adds a bunch of weight and improves a lot ESPN's fire and forget ratings and evals are ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
The good news in that department is that Marshall's senior year saw him develop quite a bit as a footbaw player. Allen Trieu:
…more of a potential guy as a junior but he really put it together as a senior. He turned a great final season. He added weight and strength and now looks like a kid who could come in and contribute early. He's active and plays with a great motor. He still has to work on his technique, but all the physical tools are there and he improved by leaps and bounds from what was an already good junior year.
247 took another look at him towards the end of 2013, nothing that he's "already shown great improvement" and is "bigger, faster, stronger, and nastier":
… shows an even quicker first step and has improved his pass rush moves and technique. Marshall looks more comfortable in his stance and has a larger repertoire of moves. He has an elite swim move to get past the offensive tackle and can close on the quarterback in a flash. … Marshall has significant untapped potential and is an ascending talent whose best football is ahead of him.
You get a cookie if you can predict the next sentence. 247 lists pad level as an area to improve. They also mention that he "shows" violent hands but only erratically.
Meanwhile, Sullivan was impressed with his consistent improvement:
He defeated a couple blockers on the edge, and was much more disciplined in keeping contain than he was early in this season. His strength was overwhelming for Lathrup's right tackle, and is one area of his game that he has been developing as well. When he hits, the opponent is sure to feel it, and he had one particularly violent tackle along the sideline early in the game.
By late in the season he was suggesting that he was "likely" to get the fourth star over-eager message boarders had been badgering him about for six months despite the fact that he has no hand in the rankings; this was a departure from his previous stance that Marshall was ranked where he deserved to be and is probably more meaningful than the fact that he did not actually get that star.
By the time the O/D Bowl came around, Marshall was actually drafted to play DT(!) because of his increased size and power, and it was not a disaster.
Marshall looked comfortable and capable of taking on double teams by the center and guard, over powering them or standing his ground on nearly every rep. When it came time to showcase his athleticism, Marshall again didn't disappoint, able to blow by some of the stiff guards looking to slow him down and get directly to the running back in the back field.
The competition level there is a considerable step down from the UA and Army games, for what it's worth.
Etc.: His troll job is a little less awesome after the events of last year, but A for effort.
Why Taco Charlton? Both WDEs with NFL potential who were dogged by assertions that they were not any good at football as juniors who had breakout senior years. Those breakout years still found a number of skeptics about how far away from that hypothetical ceiling they were, and not without cause. Ranked in approximately the same fashion as well.
I know this isn't a comparison that really tells you much since Charlton has not established who he is as a player, so Frank Clark is another option. Clark came in a safety-sized DE and took a long time to turn his athleticism into enough DE-type footbaw knowledge.
Guru Reliability: High. Well-scouted, healthy player. Variance in rankings actually a reasonable reflection of his status as something of a boom-or-bust player.
Variance: High-minus. Still needs some weight and still needs a lot of technique work. If that 245 is accurate, though, he's put a lot of size concerns to bed. He'd already be five pounds away from where Ojemudia is without the benefit of a college S&C program.
Ceiling: High-minus. Doesn't have crazy blow-you-away athleticism or size, but he is probably an A- in those categories.
General Excitement Level: High-minus. Wish he was further along but the quick improvement suggests he's coachable and will get towards his ceiling. Unless, of course, he does not.
Projection: With a number of other WDE types on the roster and a couple linebackers who could put their hand down in pass rush situations, you'd hope Marshall could redshirt. He's probably going to be good, he didn't enroll early, he could use the extra time to get to 260-270, he's raw, and there's a high probability he's not going to be an early NFL entry. If they were still in the under I'd say it's highly probable.
They are not, though, and Taco Charlton has moved over to SDE for at least one year. That leaves Michigan two deep at WDE, a situation which has seen this coaching staff play freshmen consistently. So he'll be in the running for the WHY wasted redshirt of the year as he runs behind Clark and Ojemudia.
Marshall could see serious time as early as next year, depending on if the over sticks. If they go back to being a primarily under team, Charlton probably moves back and he's going to have to fight through a couple guys. If they stick with the over he'll at least be a platoon type with Ojemudia and will have an excellent chance at starting since Ojemudia seems near his physical ceiling and Marshall's got another 20 pounds to add.
It's cotnagnous. Last week we learned that red squigglies are turned off in Ann Arbor when Mikey Weber posted a photoshop he'd been sent; this week we find out that red squigglies are also off in Columbus.
"DEILVER." Didn't they have a WR named that recently?
And we all had a laugh at this funny old world and moved on. Except perpetually aggrieved DJ Byrnes, who rushed to his damsel's defense, sword in hand, reporting that anything without an Official Urban Meyer signature was fake. Weber, who probably didn't even notice the typos—the mind tends to gloss over such things—responded that an Ohio State coach sent it to him. So of course the thing to do in that situation is double down and call a recruit a liar.
So, there are three scenarios: 1) Stan Drayton is moonlighting as a graphics designer. 2) They're now sending out work lacking all the hallmarks of his other work. 3) Weber is fibbing to save himself some embarrassment.
Buckeye Occam's Razor insists that a Michigan fan posing as a Buckeye coach made this terribly embarrassing photoshop as a false flag operation, and that Weber is in on it. JenniferLawrenceOkay.gif.
Meanwhile in somehow less embarrassing responses to this event, the Free Press claimed Weber was vouching for the "verascity" of the photoshop. Well done, well done.
HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS SERIOUSLY YOU GUYS. Because Spellgateoff is a national crisis, The D Zone interviewed Weber about it. Weber says that minor typos on fake magazine covers are not going to impact his decision.
“Really my opinion on it is it really isn’t a big deal. I know people make mistakes. It was kind of ironic, but it isn’t something to blow out of proportion,” Weber (5-foot-10, 200-pounds) said today in an interview with The D Zone.
Come out of the bunkers, everyone. It's over. It's finally over.
Hooray, but please still redshirt. Incoming DE Lawrence Marshall is a larger man these days:
Michigan commitment Lawrence Marshall tells me that he's up to 6'4"/250 as of today.
Marshall will enroll at Michigan in a little less than a month and is considered a player who could potentially play early depending on how things shake out at defensive end.
Taco Charlton's move to SDE complicates things but Michigan still has Ojemudia behind Clark and for pants sake just redshirt somebody at some point. With Clark, Ojemudia, and Ryan sliding down for nickel duty Michigan is set at WDE.
Robinson moving up boards. Chad Ford says that Glenn Robinson III is impressing in the bits of NBA draft testing he was always going to, and that this is reviving his flagging stock:
Robinson III was one of the four or five players who helped themselves the most at the draft combine. His elite athletic abilities, a slimmed-down physique and some very solid shooting numbers in the drills all gave him a boost in the eyes of scouts. Not to mention the fact that according to multiple GMs he absolutely nailed the interviews.
So what does Robinson have to do now? Show that he can apply those skills to actual basketball.
Ah, that. Robinson did develop a highly reliable elbow jumper that NBA teams are going to like a lot, and he's been shooting it well in workouts and such. Ford says teams in the mid-first are poking around and that he should go in the 20s.
The big ol' preview. Bill Connolly previews Michigan, and hits upon a salient point:
Michigan faces only three teams projected better than 37th, and they're all on the road. The Wolverines face seven teams projected between 37th and 78th, and five of the seven are at home. And 2014 Appalachian State is in no way 2007 Appalachian State. This is about as low-variance a schedule as you'll ever see. Whether Michigan ranks 20th or 45th, the easiest result to project is about 9-3.
I would have said "about 8-4", but yeah. This is a year where being outside of that 8-4, 9-3 range would be a major shock. Unfortunately, 8-4 and 9-3 are the kind of records that keep Michigan in limbo about Hoke's future. It is what it is.
And then there's the fact that you should probably just predict 9-3 every year for accuracy's sake. Predictions are bad like that.
Latest eyerolling opportunity. Ticket sales are not going well—you can see the relative enthusiasm for Michigan football in graphic version at right, where our HTTV kickstarter is struggling to get over the hump. You know it, I know it, let's not belabor it even further. But I have to highlight this from the inevitable ticket packs (200 bucks for PSU, Miami(not that Miami), and any other game, a… deal?):
Michigan football fans can choose from three ticket-pack options with the 'Go Blue' Pack, the Fan Choice Pack and the Family Pack presented by WWJ Newsradio 950 as well as a new group sales option.
Check "ticket packs" off the list of things that haven't been sponsored yet.
Etc.: Barking Carnival has a boot camp series that will teach you football things. Gap and force responsibilities in this one. Kansas State releases Letitia Romero, so they have nothing to show for this latest PR debacle except terrible PR.