this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Gentry vs Malzone: FIGHT
Quarterback recruiting policies.
I know that Harbaugh has every right to recruit his own personnel, but considering that Malzone is already on campus, did he just get royally screwed? If he never suits up, can he transfer without having to sit out?
The idea that a quarterback would be screwed over by the addition of another guy at his position in the same class is Hoke-era thinking that should be quickly discarded. Wilton Speight doesn't seem to mind:
Boom!! Loading the stable! #goblue
— Wilton Speight (@WiltonSpeight) January 25, 2015
sent in the immediate aftermath of Gentry's commit
Every other position sees fierce battles; QB should be no different. And even if Malzone is put off by the idea of sharing a spot in the class with Gentry, I think that's more than offset by the idea of getting coached by Harbaugh and Jedd Fisch.
FWIW, Malzone could transfer after his first semester at Michigan. He would have to redshirt and then would be a redshirt freshman wherever he ended up, as Steven Threet was when he fled Paul Johnson's triple option system at Georgia Tech.
The more likely exit scenario for the quarterbacks who find themselves down the depth chart in the midst of cutthroat competition is to get a degree in three years and then transfer with two years to play two. An increasing number of elite QB recruits are throwing themselves in grinders like Michigan's with that idea in their back pocket. If Michigan is going to take two QBs a year that should be part of the pitch: the least you leave here with is a Michigan degree and three years of kickass coaching. Malzone has a head start on that with his early enrollment.
By the way, with reports that elite CA QB KJ Costello is heavily interested in Michigan, this could be the respective first two QB recruiting years of Hoke and Harbaugh:
- Hoke: Russell Bellomy.
- Harbaugh: Malzone, Gentry, DeWeaver, Costello.
That's one three star previously committed to Purdue versus what is probably four four-star recruits. (Hoke did recruit Malzone but Malzone is a block-M true believer who stuck with his plan to enroll early despite Michigan not having a coach at that juncture.) One of the major reasons the Hoke list is so short is that in deference to Shane Morris they didn't take another quarterback in his year… or the year in front of him. That was a disastrous decision. Let's not do that any more.
Harbaugh won't: at Stanford he took an average of two QBs a year.
Two stars bad. More stars good.
@mgoblog with so many high end prospects out there showing interest,why are we pursuing 2 ⭐️players at any position right now?
— Tessmer (@TyTessmer) January 25, 2015
There are only a couple guys on the board who fit that description: recent OH OL commit Nolan Ulizio and as-yet-unoffered FL CB Markel Bush. Everyone else is at least a three star and—unlike many of the transitional Hoke recruits—courted by or committed to high level BCS schools. (Hoke got decommits from Indiana, Vanderbilt, and Minnesota; Harbaugh has flipped guys from Texas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.) So Harbaugh is already doing well.
As for the two stars, Bush is clearly a backup plan in case they don't get two of the four guys they've offered (Iman Marshall,
Will Lockett, Damon Arnette, and Jarius Adams). Ulizio is an offensive lineman. Offensive linemen are less likely to fulfill recruiting expectations than any other position, and as you say Michigan had opportunities to look at other, more highly-rated guys. They passed. Is that a concern?
…let's cool it on the judgy bits just yet.
[After THE JUMP: Marrow, length of tenure, Dymonte Thomas, sloxen, Gary Danielson email]
Lingo explained, mysteries solved
do not whip the baby
Tyler Sellhorn offers some insight into weird football terms we've been marveling over in this space lately. On "kiss the baby":
Taking the ball to the end zone or shall we say the "house" or shall we say the proverbial "crib" or shall we say the place where you "kiss the baby."
You, defensive back, you are in the crib, and you must kiss the baby.
On "buggy whip:"
Old school scouting/coach term for a live arm from a thinner QB, ie Marino and Leftwich have Horse strength in their arms, Namath and Dixon have buggy whips.
I've had this question about redshirts in general for a while and it's currently very applicable to the Shane Morris situation. Is there anything in the NCAA rules stopping Michigan from attempting to redshirt him, but suiting him up for each game and just burning his redshirt if Gardner gets hurt mid-game and can't play? I certainly recognize the strategic pitfalls of this, the main one being that if Gardner got hurt late in the season suddenly we're throwing a guy who has never played a down under center in a critical spot. So while this certainly doesn't sound like a realistic idea, is it possible? Or is it completely irrelevant considering Michigan wouldn't do it anyway?
That is entirely feasible. The only requirement for a redshirt is that the kid did not play at all that year, so Michigan could have Morris as the defacto #2 QB and still get a redshirt on him by inserting walk-ons if the only time Gardner is off the field is garbage time.
As you note, realistically this isn't happening. Michigan has a gangly scrambly guy at quarterback and nothing behind him. Gardner could also blow up into a major NFL prospect. If he leaves, you'd want Morris as seasoned as possible. I don't think that's at all likely—the NFL has caught on to the fact that experience is incredibly important for QBs and would probably want him to get a second year under his belt before taking a chance on him—but you can't rule it out.
Morris might get a redshirt next year when Bellomy should be back, but those sorts of post-freshman redshirts are extremely rare for a lot of reasons.
Even if Morris doesn't end up redshirting, Michigan should be in good hands when he graduates. If Morris is gone in four, the depth chart after his departure reads: Wilton Speight, redshirt junior, 2015 QB, redshirt sophomore, Messiah DeWeaver*, redshirt freshman. These days that's plenty of experience.
*[Official MGoBlog policy is to assume DeWeaver will be the 2016 QB until such time as it is obvious he won't be, because of Muad'dib jokes.]
UNKILLABLE FRED JACKSONS
all of these men are the best running back in history
To whom who actually answers the MGoBlog mailbox,
I don't know if this qualifies for a mailbag question or can be easily answered, but here we go.
To your knowledge, has there been another coach who has survived as many coaching changes as Fred Jackson? It's really quite amazing if you stop and think about him making it through three head coaches at the same university. I am completely unaware of another coordinator or position coach that has done the same. Maybe I'm wrong and this isn't as uncommon as I think it is. Your input would be greatly appreciated.
I have no idea, but I figure the best way to get an answer is to throw it out there and see if anyone can think of another coach who survived two regime changes at the same school. I can only think of one guy off the top of my head: Jeff Casteel, who stayed at West Virginia when Rodriguez left for Michigan and remained the DC when Dana Holgorsen became WVU's head coach.
Casteel's setup provides some broad outlines for coordinators who fit this pattern:
- established coach at successful program who stays when head coach leaves
- weak replacement for HC
- quick turnover
- second new HC is heavily involved in other side of the ball
That's a lot of hoops to jump through, especially because Successful In-House Coordinator is often a prime head coaching candidate at the school.
Position coaches I have no idea about. They seem much more fungible than coordinators, bring a lot of their value in recruiting, and move all over in search of better opportunities. Fred Jackson has got to be a very rare position-coach lifer. Best other bets would be Ferentzes or guys like Pat Fitzgerald. Nepotism and local herodom seem like the only things that could get you through the churning waters of coaching turnover.
Hivemind: anyone have other examples of coaches who have survived multiple coaching changes?
Student seating procedures
Received an email from a guy with the stadium staff who would prefer to remain anonymous about how the new general-admission student section is going to work:
We have made a decision to move to General Admission for our student ticketing and seating process, which in turn led us to make the following changes:
All students must enter Michigan Stadium through GATE 10. Only those with student tickets (accompanied by a valid student ID), including those with validated student tickets, will be allowed entry through Gate 10. Those with general public tickets will not be allowed through this gate.
Gate 10 will now open 3 hours prior to kickoff - 1 hour before the rest of the general public gates.
Students will move from a queuing area to a series of chutes at Gate 10 at 4 hours prior to kickoff. They will select the section they want to sit in at this time and will receive a section reserved wristband or ticket upon entering the stadium.
(Emphasis mine.) Enjoy your chutes, human cattle.
Mo Williams, back in the day.
A reader passes along that Mo Williams, recently referenced in the Kyle Bosch recruiting profile, was indeed a big timer:
Reading your bit on Bosch I remembered I save a bunch of info from recruiting back in the day (1990-2004). You mentioned you weren't sure how hyped he was. Here are my notes. Answer: Very:
Maurice Williams, OL/DL, Detroit, MI. 6'6", 275 lbs, 4.9 40. Williams
is the top player in the state of Michigan and is one of the top line prospects in the nation on either side of the ball; he is one of the top 100 overall prospects in the nation. He is an excellent student with a 3.5 GPA. Could play either OL or DL at Michigan, depending upon his preference and the needs of the team.
Lemming ranked Williams the state's top player and No. 2 in the Midwest. He
was a first-team All-State selection and ranked No. 1 on The Detroit News' Blue Chip list. He could play on the offensive or defensive line in college.
Rated #47 overall in composite National 100.
Detroit Free Press Best of the Midwest (BMW) #2.
Also considered Michigan State, Ohio State and Florida State, and Washington.
This was back in the Lemming days, before easily-accessed databases of these things existed.
Brian, when was the last time that Michigan won and all 3 of our traditional rivals lost (like on Saturday)? Has this ever happened?
The answer to this can be found about 15 minutes deep into yesterday's podcast. Mwa ha ha.
Okay: Jamiemac did the research and the last time this happened was October 2nd, 2004.
- Michigan blew out Indiana 35-14.
- Ohio State lost in overtime to Northwestern 33-27.
- Michigan State got smoked by Iowa 38-16.
- And Notre Dame got annihilated by Purdue 41-16.
I'll take Saturday over those results easy. We also brought this up on the podcast: this sort of event needs a name so we can refer to [NAME] I, [NAME] II, and so on with Saturday marking the AFL-NFL merger, as it were. If we want we can count backwards from there and let the 2004 event be 0—it predates the blog—and any previous be negative. But we need a name. MGoMinions, you have your charge.
On that play at the end of the game when Clausen went deep on 2nd and 10 against Warren, I am pretty confident that the fly pattern was not called from the huddle. I think Weis probably had a much more conservative play called (like a hitch or quick out or comeback on the sideline) but as soon as Warren rolled up into press-man, the WR and the QB automatically know that the WR is going to run a jet. So, while I agree 100% that Weis should have run the ball on second - or at least gone away from Warren, who was in his guy's shirt on all but two plays - I don't think he called for the Home Run.
What a game for tons of recruits to attend, btw. Perfect.
Whoah: I've been arguing that throwing the ball on second and ten is a good idea as long as it's not some crazy bomb. Just because Warren is in press coverage doesn't mean you can't get Rudolph open or slip Hughes out of the backfield or do any number of other things that don't involve a long sideline route against Donovan Warren. And you certainly don't let your QB check to a balls-to-the-wall call when going 35 is called for. Especially with timeouts you don't care about. Take one and get it right.
Aaaand now lets get to the emails that have flooded my mailbox about quarterbacks not named Tate Forcier:
I understand that we need to have two viable QBs b/c of the always possible (GOD-FORBID) chance of injury to the one, but what are the chances that we can utilize DR as a WR? If not this year, how about next year (When Gardner is here)? It seems that DR would burn almost everyone trying to cover him, if he has the ability to catch. Thanks!
This, or a variant of it, has been rampant speculation anywhere one Michigan fan can communicate to another: what do we do with a man who is made of dilithium now that we have all converted to the Church of Tate? In two words: I dunno.
This year you have to keep him at quarterback and work on his ability to play the position as extensively as possible. If Michigan's up 38 against Eastern all remaining offensive drives should be Robinson throwing every down. Establishing himself as a viable option at QB will make his cameos throughout the rest of the season more effective and provide Michigan some non-Sheridan depth at a position that really needs it. That's the rest of this year.
As for next year, and beyond… even that's tough. At this point I assume you dearly want to redshirt Devin Gardner (about whom more in a sec), which would be difficult if Robinson moved to another position. At the same time, you don't want Robinson wiling his time away on the bench; you probably want both Forcier and Robinson on the field.
How do you do that if Robinson's a quarterback? I think you play two quarterbacks. We saw a little bit of this in the last game when Forcier motioned out into the slot and Robinson basically became a wildcat QB; in the future, especially when Minor and Brown leave, I think you might see a good deal of both QBs in the same backfield, with Robinson acting as a sort of Percy Harvin jet ninja who actually throws several time a game. If it works really, really well it might be the base offense.
While we're on the topic, here's a prescient email from before the ND game:
After watching the Michigan-Western Michigan on Saturday, not only was I relieved by finally attending a win in the season-opener, but I was also intrigued by the possibilities of the two-quarterback system (not even going to say three-quarterback system, because that would mean DEATH). Tate and Denard reminded me of a very-poor man's version of Florida in 2006 with Chris Leak and Tim Tebow. With Tate in the game the defense expects him to throw but he has a threat to run (Leak), and with Denard in the game the defense expects him to run with a smaller threat to throw (Tebow). This opens the door up for big plays with the defense cheating one way or the other. If Denard can get into the game around 20-25 plays per game, and can be semi-effective throwing the ball I think the ceiling for the offense is very high. Then again, we are talking about two freshmen, and it was only Western Michigan, but even the possibility that Michigan has two viable, complementary quarterbacks (that aren't last year's quarterbacks) got me excited for the rest of the season.
So, I was wondering what you think we can expect from the two-quarterback system for the rest of the year... and if this scheme is successful going forward, should we plan on this being the norm, or just a way to see which quarterback will separate himself from the other?
We all witness Forcier achieve separation last week but that does not mean Robinson, who should improve more rapidly than Forcier because he's farther away from his ceiling, won't get viable towards the end of the year. It's going to be very hard for opposing safeties to not come up when Robinson starts running around, and at some point this year he will pull up and hit someone running wide open. Against Notre Dame's blitz-mad offense in his second game, Robinson was not prepared. He'll be way more viable two months from now against mid-level Big Ten teams. Don't expect him to be as small a part of the offense going forward as he was against Notre Dame.
And now to Devin Gardner:
Has the success of Tate Forcier in the early going had any affect on the commitment of Devin Gardner?
U of M in TX
This is another question I've gotten a dozen times and can only really answer with "I don't know." But when Gardner committed he knew there were two freshman quarterbacks in front of him and that one of them would likely be an entrenched starter when he arrived. He's made several comments in the aftermath of his commitment to the effect of "I am a strong Michigan commitment," and yes everyone says that up until the point they don't but he can't say much else to reassure us and has made no motion that would indicate a soft commitment.
So I don't think so. And it's not like the situation anywhere local is much better. Ohio State snubbed him in favor of Montana's kid and with "Lebron in Cleats" looking decidedly un-Lebron he'd have to wait for two years behind Pryor anyway, and given the quarterback depth at Ohio State (virtually none) a redshirt might not be possible. And no other major local program is spread friendly except Penn State, which already has Kevin Newsome, Paul Jones, and Robert Bolden in the last two classes.