This is maaaaybe premature there, ESPN. Maryland #1 FWIW.
Formation notes: Michigan spent virtually the whole game in a nickel package, with occasional forays into okie stuff. I started labeling various okie looks "one" "two" and "zero" with the number denoting the number of deep safeties on the play. This was zero:
Also there was this weird thing once.
That is okie two, one they shifted into late. Look at Campbell there right next to Roh.
Substitution notes: Avery slid back inside and it looks like your new field corner is Raymon Taylor. Guessing it's Taylor out there when Michigan is in a 4-3 set.
At linebacker, heavy rotation between Bolden, Ross, and Demens; Hawthorne got in a bit thanks to Morgan's absence. Mike Jones came on in garbage time.
On the line, the aforementioned nickel oddity where Roh and Black were usually the DTs, flanked by Clark and Ryan. Cam Gordon and Ojemudia rotated through at DE; at DT it was Brink and Heitzman with some appearances by Campbell and Washington. Pipkins did not get in until late.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Shotgun trips covered||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone counter||Demens||5 (Pen -10)|
|TE motions into the backfield to act as an H-back as UMass goes with a covered slot guy. TE then goes backside and nails Ryan. Demens is slow to the hole, getting hit two yards downfield, and Black(-1) is sealed out of the hole. Ryan(+0.5) does a pretty decent job to constrict that hole and forces Cox to knock into some of his own blockers; Demens would get a minus for missing the tackle here but his blocker is called for a hold. Gordon(+0.5) fills decisively, holding the gain down. He can't tackle Cox cleanly but does delay him enough so that there is no YAC.|
|O15||1||20||Shotgun trips bunch TE||Nickel under||Pass||5||Quick out||Gordon||6|
|A little dink pass is complete on a half-roll. Gordon's a little iffy on his approach and falls down, but Demens flowing out makes the WR run into the prone Gordon anyway. Push, but I'm eyeing Gordon warily.|
|O21||2||14||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Tunnel screen||Black||-1|
|Black(+2) reads it, backs out, gets to the spot, and tackles for loss. Roh helped out as well and Ross(+0.5) fended off a block to put himself in a position to contribute.|
|O20||3||15||Shotgun trips bunch||Nickel even||Pass||4||Corner||Floyd||Inc|
|Stunt doesn't quite get there but that's because the QB is going from five yards back to 11 by the time he throws. DL is getting in, with Roh(+0.5) getting pressure that forces a throw. Floyd has a better shot at a reception than anyone else and should really have an INT but misjudges the ball badly. No points for you. (Cover +2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 11 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O6||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||N/A||-2|
|Fumbled exchange. FWIW, looked like Cox was going to get popped by an unblocked Ross near the LOS.|
|O4||2||12||Shotgun trips||3-4 nickel||Run||N/A||Zone stretch||Ojemudia||11|
|Ojemudia(-1) as a 3-4 DE, which goes about how you'd expect. A 230 pound freshman is doubled and pancaked, cutting off the outside. I feel better about this because Michigan's not going to do this against a real opponent unless it's third and twelve, not second and twelve. Campbell(+0.5) got some good push, but it was irrelevant. RPS -2. I moved a minus to the RPS from Ojemudia, FWIW. Because obviously.|
|O15||3||1||Shotgun trips||Okie zero||Penalty||N/A||False start||N/A||-5|
|Same guy who got the hold.|
|O10||3||6||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Run||N/A||TGDCD||Ryan||-1|
|M sends Bolden and Avery, sending Ross on one of those hash to hash drops. They've slanted the line away from this and had Ryan back off the LOS, which is fortunate because the playcall goes right where Ross just vacated. Roh(+0.5) comes around the tackle and squeezes the hole down; Ryan(+1, tackling +1) brings down Cox in space. RPS +1|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 7 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O26||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Stop and go||Taylor||Inc|
|Good time(pressure -1); Taylor hops up on the hitch route but has safety help so that's fine. There's a small window for a 15 yard completion that's missed. Cover push. Illegal man downfield penalty is declined.|
|O26||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Counter||Ross||6|
|Ross(-1) doesn't read the T pull and gets sucked away from the play, sealed into oblivion. Bolden(-1) does an okay job of getting to the hole and makes contact with the pulling T at the LOS, but slows up. Instead of lowering the boom like Ross he gently contacts the T, and there's still a gap. Needs to hit that blocker in the mouth, drive him back, and then be able to come off and tackle. As it is, Ryan, the contain, is the only guy trying a tackle attempt and that doesn't go so well. Black got sealed away but I'm not sure that's really on him. Need some linebackers to not get blocked. Gordon(+1, tackling +1) makes a nice fill. Picture-paged.|
|O32||3||4||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 cover one||Pass||5||Out||Avery||4|
|M shows man and runs zone, but this still comes off as Avery isn't quite able to tackle on this little out before the WR can reach the sticks. This will happen on this down and distance; push.|
|O36||1||10||Shotgun trips covered||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone counter||Black||-1|
|Same as their first play. Black(+1) gets some backwards motion and this convinces Cox to go nuts. Instead of slamming it up in a meh hole and getting tackled from the side by Black or Ryan, he hits a blocker, bounces, runs into Roh(+1), who shed a blocker to get into the backfield, and then Clark(+0.5) cleans up on the edge. Somewhere, Rich Rodriguez has an inexplicable urge to spike his headset.|
|O35||2||11||Shotgun trips bunch||Nickel even||Pass||5||Rollout out||Avery||Inc|
|Michigan brings a blitz that UMass rolls away from. Same little out they got the first on is preferred because Michigan has good coverage(+1) in the area. It's turfed. Avery(+0.5) looked ready to light this guy up on the catch.|
|O35||3||11||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Run||N/A||QB draw||Ross||16|
|Michigan stunts out of the gap UMass is attacking. That leaves Ross(-1) alone in a ton of space against two blockers. One runs by, he fends off the other, and can't get out to the QB to even slow him. Ojemudia was tearing back in pursuit and safeties were filling, all Ross needs to do is slow the guy a half beat and this is not a conversion. But really, this is RPS'd. RPS -2.|
|M49||1||10||Shotgun trips covered||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone stretch||Ojemudia||14|
|Campbell is moving and gets chopped, but I guess I can't minus him because this convinces Cox to reverse field. Or maybe it was Ryan(+1) coming under a guy—usually a no-no—with enough speed to make me think the outside is cutoff. Ojemudia(-2) abandoned his cutback contain to start a long-term pursuit angle, which opens up the corner once the QB cuts off a redirecting Ross.|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun trips||Okie one||Pass||5||Fade||Taylor||22|
|One on one to the boundary, Taylor takes inside leverage and is basically step for step with the guy on the sideline. QB throws it perfectly, WR makes incredible catch, nothing you can do. Cover +1.|
|M13||1||10||Shotgun trips bunch||Nickel even||Pass||5||Out||Avery||11|
|Kovacs comes up late for a safety blitz, UMass dumps it short. Ryan(+1, pressure +1) is through the line and about to nail the QB, so he has to dump it. Avery(-2, tackling -1) is there for a tackle attempt on a stationary guy one yard downfield that he misses. He manages to hold on to the guy but guy drags him ten yards.|
|M2||1||G||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Pin and pull zone||Clark||-1|
|Clark(+1) blows outside a TE trying to seal him, Roh gets push on a G trying the same. Cox cuts behind that, away from his blockers. Ross(+0.5) is in in the hole and gets a tackle attempt in from the side. Black got cut and reaches out as well. Cox falls over.|
|M3||2||G||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Ryan||-1 (Pen -10)|
|Ryan(+2) motions in late, shoots inside the RT, gets held, and still stops Cox in the backfield by diving at his feet. Black(+1) drove through two blockers to meet Cox in the backfield as well. Slant got it here. RPS +1.|
|M13||2||G||Shotgun 4-wide tight||3-4 nickel||Pass||5||Improv||Black||Inc|
|Black(+2) motions late to a gap between the C and G and jumps the snap Worthy style. He's offsides, obviously, but they don't call it. So you get a plus. He's up the middle of the pocket immediately, forcing a flush (pressure+2). QB actually has a shot at a WR but can't hit it. Gordon and Avery in pursuit. Gordon(+1, cover +1) was there to bat at it.|
|M13||3||G||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Penalty||N/A||Offsides||Clark||5|
|Clark(-1) also offsides, this time they call it.|
|M8||3||G||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Dumpoff||Roh||Inc|
|Roh(+1, pressure +1) splits two OL and gets in to force a dumpoff. Clark(+1) reads this, backs off, and bats it down. Michigan had this killed dead anyway (cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: FG(25), 14-3, 13 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O26||1||10||Pistol 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Bolden||4|
|Bolden gets to the hole at the LOS and Cox has only a narrow gap, but he should be funneling back inside and does not. He got there pretty well, so I'll say push. Roh(-0.5) got blown up momentarily, so maybe Bolden's leery about that subconsciously. Gordon(+1, tackling +1) fills nicely, holding a dangerous-looking burst through the line to four yards with help from Avery.|
|O30||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||Okie one||Pass||5||Rollout out||CGordon||5|
|They roll the pocket away from the blitz and Gordon has to try and track down a slot guy running an out, which doesn't go well. He does enough to make the throw outside and diving, removing a potentially large amount of YAC from the equation. RPS -1.|
|O35||3||1||Pistol 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Roh||3|
|Still playing Roh at DT on third and one. He gets blown out of the center by a double, and that's enough. I'm not minusing the guy for being 280 pounds. Gordon(+1) fills well, hitting at the LOS, but without DL support this is always going to get it. RPS -1.|
|O38||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Hitch||Floyd||Inc|
|Half roll deflates pressure but M is all over the receivers (cover +3); a two-yard checkdown is jumped by Floyd(+1) and may have been an INT if more accurate. Nowhere to go.|
|O38||2||10||Shotgun trips||3-4 nickel||Pass||5||Rollout out||Gordon||3|
|Avery cuts off the outside and forces a throw. Pressure is not exactly rampant but it's a push. Pass is a four yard out Gordon(+0.5) is in good coverage(+1), guy runs OOB anyway.|
|O41||3||7||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Out||Clark||Inc|
|Hawthorne sent as Gordon backs out. Clark(+1) gets around the edge(pressure +1) and gets the QB's feet moving. Floyd(+1) jumps one out; CGordon(+1, cover +2) has the one underneath. QB turfs it, possibly on purpose.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-3, 10 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide tight||Nickel under||Penalty||N/A||False start||N/A||-5|
|O30||1||15||Shotgun 4-wide tight||Nickel even||Pass||4||PA Out||Clark||Inc|
|They leave Clark unblocked, try to throw a three yard out and miss. Clark may have gotten a finger on it. RPS +1? By default, I guess. Clark +0.5.|
|O30||2||15||Shotgun 4-wide tight||Okie two||Pass||5||Tunnel screen||Ross||4|
|WR ends up in front of all his blockers. Bolden(+0.5) and Ross(+0.5) force the guy upfield away from all those folk. Gordon(+0.5) comes up to keep leverage well inside the numbers, and then everyone rallies to tackle.|
|O34||3||11||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel even||Pass||5||Sack||Bolden||-24|
|This is a screen. Bolden(+1) is charging forward at the snap along with Avery; Bolden gets through clean. Ryan(+0.5) has dropped right into the screen; not sure if this is read or if QB is just panicking. Roh also gets some pressure before bailing out; QB ends up tossing the ball away well short of the sticks after giving up 24 yards, giving Bolden a sack. RPS +2, Pressure +2, cover +1.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 28-10, 6 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Counter||Gordon||6|
|LBs do a much better job of reading this, with Ross(+1) sticking the pulling T in the hole and Bolden(+0.5) getting around a block to fill if Cox is going to go where Ross wants him to. He doesn't because Gordon(-1) has lost the edge. Kovacs and Taylor fill on the bounce; still gave up more yards than they had to there.|
|O34||2||4||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel even||Pass||4||In||Ross||9|
|M ran this against NW last year: double flare screen fakes with an little middle hitch opening up. Ross(-0.5, cover -1) books out for the flare, opening a slant behind him. I don't really blame him. RPS -1.|
|O43||1||10||Pistol 3-wide||Nickel under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Clark||9|
|Okay so our DL on this play includes Clark as a DT. M blitzes one LB-type substance—Kovacs is the other—and stunts Roh back around. Clark(-1) gets blown back, so Roh can't flow; Kovacs is taking on a pulling G and there is no one on the second level. Clark does spin off his block and take Cox down with a lunging shoulder grab; otherwise this is Gordon vs touchdown. RPS -2. Virtually nothing any M player could do. Hope they're just screwing around at this point.|
|M48||2||1||Ace twin TE||4-3 even||Pass||4||Flea flicker||Taylor||33|
|This looks like man coverage w/ Avery going in motion to mirror his guy presnap. The flea flicker sucks up all the underneath guys, giving the QB a look at the deep guy, who is covered(+1) by Floyd and Gordon. Taylor(-2, cover -2) got way behind the second option, a deep in by the other receiver. Not close enough to tackle immediately, Taylor gives up another 20 yards after the catch.|
|M15||1||10||Shotgun trips bunch TE||Nickel under||Pass||4||Rollout out||Floyd||2|
|Another one of these dink passes. This one takes the WR off his feet; Floyd(+0.5, cover +1) looked like he would tackle anyway.|
|M13||2||8||Shotgun trips bunch TE||Okie zero||Pass||6||Throwaway||Clark||Inc|
|Mattison sends the house. Clark(+1) leaps a cut block, Roh(+0.5) and Kovacs(+0.5) both come free as the T can't get out and the G has another guy to block. QB just gets rid of it. Had no one anyway. (Pressure +2, Cover +1, RPS +1)|
|M13||3||8||Shotgun trips bunch tight||Nickel even||Pass||4||Throwaway||N/A||Inc|
|Miscommunication and QB tosses it into the endzone, where none of his WRs are. Coverage(+1) looked good.|
|Drive Notes: FG(30), 35-13, 2 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Pistol trips bunch||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Roh||-3 (Pen -13)|
|Roh(+2) shoves an opposing guard into the backfield, causing a full stop by Cox as he reaches where he'd normally cut despite Black getting chop-blocked to the ground (no minus, that ain't right). Ryan(+0.5) cleans up as the unblocked backside guy. Ross(+0.5) split blockers and was going to be useful if Roh hadn't beat him to it. Flag overrides play.|
|O12||1||23||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone stretch||Black||3 (Pen -6)|
|Runner is actually a slot receiver who comes in motion and takes a shovel pass. Ryan(+0.5) gets upfield, forcing it back and stripping the WR of a lead blocker. Black(-0.5) avoided a cut but got delayed sufficiently that he can't close the hole. Ross is bugging out, gets blocked. Demens is taking 'er easy, which fine given down and distance. Ross forces back to Demens; before Demens can tackle the RB falls of his own accord. Another chop block backs them up even further.|
|O6||1||29||Shotgun trips covered||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone counter||Black||-1|
|Again with the counter; Ryan(+0.5) squeezes down and prevents that backside hole from forming. Black(+1) and Roh(+1) both shed blocks and meet Cox in the backfield to tackle for no gain.|
|O5||2||30||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Pass||4||Hitch||Clark||7|
|Clark(+1, pressure +1) rips around the corner and is about to safety the QB when he fires out a short hitch that is complete. Instant tackle from Demens(+0.5, cover +1)|
|O12||3||23||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Draw||N/A||10|
|Give up and punt.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 42-13, 12 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Pistol 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Power||Brink||7|
|Brink(-2) blown up by a double. This means Ross can't flow; Bolden(+1) got to the hole, stood up the blocker, and funneled to his help but that help got washed out. Ross does come through the block to tackle; Brink spun off and added a little help too.|
|O32||2||3||Shotgun 4-wide tight||Nickel even||Pass||4||Scramble||Clark||6|
|Clark(-0.5) left unblocked and gets in on the QB as coverage(+1) takes away whatever he was about to dink. Clark misses the tackle(-1); Campbell(-1) misses another tackle(-1) and QB squeezes out the first down. Campbell's was worse because QB didn't even put a move on.|
|O38||1||10||Shotgun trips||3-4 nickel||Run||N/A||Inverted veer keeper||Avery||-1|
|Avery(+2, tackling +1) comes up hard, stalls out a couple yards in the backfield, convinces the QB to give, and then tackles the guy. Ojemudia(+0.5) had prevented an OL from releasing into Ross so he was likely to hack this down pretty quickly.|
|O37||2||11||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Run||N/A||QB draw||Roh||3|
|Roh(+1) takes a shove from the C but still doesn't get kicked out and this convinces the QB to start rolling outside, away from the guys releasing downfield. Black(+1) also helped this no crease situation and when he read the play he's the guy containing, forcing the QB back into blockers.|
|O40||3||8||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel even||Pass||5||Throwaway||Demens||Inc|
|Blitz gets picked up but Demens(+1, pressure +2) drives inside his blocker and gets upfield pressure; Roh(+0.5) also got in on the edge. QB is like seeya ball, don't need you no more.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 49-13, 8 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O29||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Washington||4|
|Washington(+1) clubs a G backwards, which cuts off the guy trying to move backside to pick up Ryan. Heitzman(-1) has gotten shoved backside, though, and there's a crease. Ryan(+0.5) comes down to tackle from behind. I still wish the LBs would be a little more aggressive here but this is single blocking and immediate release stuff. Bolden does shed to help tackle downfield.|
|O33||2||6||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone stretch||Clark||-6|
|Clark(+1) shoots past the RT and gets upfield, picking off a leading block. That's a two for one. Cox stops and thinks about hitting it up. I think Heitzman is again getting too much motion; Washington(-0.5) gets cut but Michigan gets lucky as Cox slips on his cut. By the time he gets going forward again Washington is to his feet and unblocked backside guy Ryan is a factor. Cox doesn't know when he's beat and gives up a bunch more yards by trying to outrun Ryan(+0.5) upfield. Shades of that Sugar Bowl play.|
|O27||3||12||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel even||Pass||4||Rollout corner||Avery||13|
|Mostly an RPS thing as Richardson gets run off deep and there's no one in the zone to get the corner that develops underneath it. I'm guessing Avery may have been able to play this better somehow, but it probably wouldn't have been enough to stop it. (Cover -2, RPS -1)|
|O40||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Washington||2|
|Washington(+2) blows up the LG and shows up in the middle of the line. Brink(+0.5) is also there, albeit still blocked and just holding on. Bolden was free thanks to Washington's work and moves up in the hole, but doesn't actually get to do anything because Washington eats the guy instead. NT play. Just UMass. Remain calm.|
|O42||2||8||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel even||Pass||3||Throwaway||Hawthorne||Inc|
|Another double flares and slant combo that is designed to get the LBs bugging out and open up the inside. Hawthorne(+1, cover +1) doesn't bite as Gordon flares out with the flare. Pipkins(+1) avoids a cut block and trundles up them middle, forcing a throwaway. RPS +1.|
|O42||3||8||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Pass||4||Out||Hawthorne||11|
|Stunt doesn't get there (pressure -1) and the man cover behind it is vulnerable to a route like this; would still like Hawthorne(-1, cover -1) to at least be there to challenge on the catch, maybe try a tackle. He's not and then misses his tackle attempt. No real damage, but first down yielded.|
|M47||1||10||Pistol 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Jones||4|
|Heitzman(-0.5) gets plowed back; he also lets a guy through, a guy that Hawthorne(-1) eats when he really should be able to scrape past it. Jones(+0.5) gets a hit on the pulling G at the LOS; Ojemudia(+0.5) can peel off and tackle thanks to the small hole created.|
|M43||2||6||Shotgun empty||Dime||Pass||5||Rollout out||CGordon||15|
|Rollout away from pressure effective; again running off that outside corner and finding space underneath. No idea if this is Gordon or Richardson or just RPS; we'll give it to RPS. (Cover -1, RPS -1)|
|M28||1||10||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Pass||4||Scramble||N/A||1|
|Thought this was a draw but no one releases downfield and the WRs are running routes, so just QB panic. No particular reason for this; unblocked LBs converge after a yard.|
|M27||2||9||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Pass||6||Batted||Bolden||Inc|
|Bolden(+0.5) gets a free run(pressure +2) and hits the QB as he throws. RPS +1|
|M27||3||9||Shotgun trips bunch||3-4 nickel||Pass||6||Batted||Clark||Inc|
|Clark(+1) bats down an out that may or may not have had it; Hollowell in coverage that is not great.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(45), 56-13, 13 min 4th Q. It's walkon white CB time the next time UMass gets it; charting ceases.|
THEY GOT SIX YARDS ON THAT ONE CARRY WERRRRR GON DIEEEEE
I was with you man, but then I was like "oh, they are putting 250 pound guys at DT and 230 pound guys as 3-4 DEs."
WERRR GON DIE?
Oh, I'm not saying we're not going to die. We may very well die. But the yards UMass was grabbing weren't evidence of things that should carry over against bigger opponents. They were evidence you should not expose Mario Ojemudia to OL double teams at this juncture.
wer gon live?
Well, the Big Ten sucks. I'm a little worried about what it means when Michigan is not even playing its DTs on first and ten. Okay, it's a sub package. Why run that on a potential running down even if you've got the nickel in there? Is it because you're wondering if you can get away with it against other opponents? What does that say?
Mattison talked up Washington, FWIW…
"I will say this, the one guy if you ask me to single out, one guy I was really really pleased with as far as seeing his technique really come on was Quinton Washington. When he went in there, he did some things that we have been trying to get done, and it was just the technique. I was real pleased with him.”
…so I'd wait on any conclusions you might draw from the substitution patterns until after the ND game. If you've got some extra heebie to go with your jeebie I can't say I disagree.
That said, Roh and Black did turn in nice games. Here's this—
--chart I've got.
|Roh||8||0.5||7.5||Tiny opponent funtime.|
|Campbell||0.5||1||-0.5||Not much PT.|
|Black||8||1.5||6.5||Snuffed his share of runs.|
|Pipkins||1||-||1||One play late.|
|Heitzman||-||1.5||-1.5||Needs weight. Ideally would not see field until 2013.|
|Clark||8||2.5||5.5||Whacks down all the passes.|
|Ojemudia||1||3||-2||Too small to be anything but situational pass rusher.|
|TOTAL||30||12.5||17.5||Problem solved forever you guys.|
|Demens||1.5||-||1.5||Didn't notice him do much either way.|
|Ryan||8.5||-||8.5||Essentially a DE in this game.|
|Ross||3||2.5||0.5||Another couple blocks split; still think he got lost on misdirection.|
|Bolden||3.5||1||2.5||bring more BOOM plz|
|Hawthorne||1||2||-1||Nevermind the Hawthorne PT thing.|
|TOTAL||19||5.5||13.5||Jones also +0.5. Move Ryan to DL and this is a lot of nothing.|
|Floyd||3||-||3||Shoulda had a pick though.|
|Taylor||-||2||2||Flea flicker is the negative. Check cover metric below.|
|Kovacs||0.5||-||0.5||No deep passes at all.|
|T. Gordon||6||1||5||Various authoritative fills.|
|TOTAL||12||5||7||Not much to do.|
|Pressure||15||2||13||No time… no time!|
|Coverage||19||7||12||Open downfield guys were about zero.|
|Tackling||5||3||62%||Whiffs mostly on QB oddly.|
|RPS||8||11||-3||Weird personnel most of this.|
That's about what you'd expect when an opponent's offense scores six points.
Overall numbers are low because of a low number of plays and a lot of dinky four-yard routes on which pushes are extremely common since the DL doesn't have time to get to the QB and the thing to do in the secondary is let the pass happen and tackle.
Is any of this meaningful? Doubt it.
We did get a few additions to Frank Clark's rapidly expanding collection of knocked-down scuds. If he keeps doing this I might start calling him the Patriot Missile.
I'm worried about everything DL related.
I feel you. At least Clark is making plays out there. He was batting stuff down, he got a one on one speed rush that almost racked up a safety…
…and he made some plays against the run. He does tend to get far upfield quickly, which is nice on passing plays but could expose Michigan to things like That Goddamned Counter Draw, which ND used for a big gain against the Spartans.
Meanwhile on the other side, quasi-DL Jake Ryan is playing at a high level. Those two guys are your pass rush. Their performance against ND will be crucial, especially since Golson loves rollouts, whether they're called or impromptu.
Also, Quinton Washington made a couple of plays. He's driving UMass's center back and blowing stuff up…
…so this is obviously going to happen against ND. But that's what Mattison was talking about. If your NT is not going to do that when single-blocked, thus demanding another guy, your linebackers are doomed. It's hard to put their iffy performances to date in perspective when the line is not helping them out at all.
Kind of pointy for Gordon there.
Yeah. I thought he came down well when Cox popped through the line. If he missed a tackle it was after he'd created a long enough delay to prevent any more yards from being gained, and he didn't often do that:
The coaches were talking him up over the course of camp and we're beginning to see a sliver of that there. Yes, UMass, etc.
What's this "covered" thing?
A high school coach convinced me that "unbalanced" was not a great term for plays on which only four guys are eligible receivers because one is covered on the LOS. So I'll go with covered since that's explicit. For the people asking why you'd do this, UMass had a play made possible by it:
Michigan adjusted after that first one when UMass tried it a couple more times. Here they've dragged coverage outside and gotten that counter to work since Kovacs is in man and can't get through the trash as the LBs attack the frontside.
Mike Cox is good?
While he's tough to bring down and fairly athletic, I totally get why coaches benched him. He has a bad tendency to miss holes and then start running around in the backfield in a way you can't get away with in college.
Everybody! The line mostly because UMass couldn't get past the line.
What does it mean for ND and the future?
Another playmaking performance from Clark offers hope that Michigan can get some impact from their WDE spot. Notre Dame will be the big test for that. They probably should use NTs against the Irish, and Washington might be the man there. And… uh. Don't play Ojemudia as a five-tech?
It's UMass. It is not that useful.
Generally, this is going to be when we find out what happens against a bunch of mortals instead of the godly, dead, or bizarre. I'll be looking to see if Clark and Ryan can beat guys one on one on the edge, if Washington in particular can hold up—Campbell hope is flatlining—and looking out for Taylor on the edge. Moment of truth stuff this weekend.
News bullets and other important items:
- No status change with Beyer. Knee injury. Will be out for a week.
- Courtney Avery missed some plays late in the game due to a back problem.
- Richard Ash has a boo boo.
“It’s good to win a football game, obviously. That’s why you go out there and compete. I think when you evaluate and you see where we’re at, we’ve got to improve if we’re going to win the Big Ten Championship. We’ve got to improve at the point of attack on both sides of the ball. You’ve heard before, and that message won’t change. I think we went out with a mission offensively to get Denard very involved running the football. I thought he did a nice job of that. I think we did a nice job in the throwing game. The interception, I think Vince was fighting the umpire a little bit, but also it’s just one of those things that we have to execute that, but from that standpoint defensively, we played 98 plays. Way too much, we have to get off the field obviously, but at the same time those guys hung in there, and they hung in there when they had to at the end of the football game and made some plays. So that part of it is a very positive part of it. I think we adjusted to some things to some things they were doing, which helped in the second half. So all in all was it where we want to be? No. But at the same time, it was a good win to get.”
David Guralnick/The Detroit News
Continuing my theme of getting super-meta this offseason, I decided to take a look back at the MGoBlog recruiting recaps from the class of 2008—hello, blogspot!—and see how they stand up now that those players have either moved on from the program or are fifth-year seniors. 2008, of course, was the franken-class of Lloyd Carr and Rich Rodriguez recruits, a bizarre blend of pro-style plodders and size-challenged spread speedsters. While it boasted 17 four-stars among 24 commits, finishing a very respectable tenth in the Rivals team rankings, the class would prove to be an unmitigated disaster, ravaged by attrition and marked with disappointment.
So, let's go back to a time when Michigan fans still held out hope for landing Terrelle Pryor—when these were written, still
holding out for a better contract mulling his decision a month after signing day—to spearhead this newfangled spread offense. Today, I'll take a look at Brian's offensive evaluations, and the defense will be covered next week. For reference, links to the original posts: Quarterback and Running Back, Receivers, Tight Ends, Offensive Line. If you're anything like me, perusing those is a remarkably fun way to waste time.
Easy Joke Is Easy
With a major change in offensive scheme, Michigan was in desperate need of a dual-threat quarterback. Pryor was the ultimate prize, and Rodriguez was forced to hedge his bets with Justin Feagin, an under-the-radar athlete from Florida whose best offers were to play wide receiver at LSU or defensive back at Miami (YTM).
Projection: Someone's going to play Tebow to Threet's Chris Leak this fall; unless Carlos Brown locks that down, it'll be Feagin. I have no idea what to expect, but think his future is probably somewhere other than quarterback.
Namely, the inside of a courtroom. ZING! (Really, when it comes to the 2008 quarterback situation, dark humor is the only option lest you want to break down in tears.)
Ironically, it was his off-field actions that made Feagin one of the recruits Brian was "baselessly excited about in defiance of recruiting rankings and reason," due to late-night workouts and multiple quotes expressing no concern about potentially having to compete with Pryor for the starting job. It was noted that Feagin required "a ton of developing to be a legitimate quarterback," which was readily apparent during his brief appearances as a freshman. Then came the cocaine stuff and subsequent boot, so we'll never know whether Feagin could've turned into a passable receiver.
I started following recruiting seriously when a friend showed me Noel Devine's highlight tape during my senior year of high school. Since I had little understanding at the time about how recruiting actually worked, I was bitterly disappointed when Devine seemingly had zero interest in Michigan (and vice versa), eventually ending up at West Virginia. I swore never to get my hopes up about highlight tape heroes again.
So the next year, when another atom-sized running back took the YouTubes by storm, I had little hope that this Texan doing heel-clicks on the backs of linebackers would even consider donning the Maize and Blue. Even so, I'd watch his tape on repeat, sharing it with friends whenever the opportunity arose; seeing their eyes bug while asking what in the hell they just watched never got old. This is what they saw [NSFW audio warning]:
Then, of course, the impossible occurred: Sam McGuffie signed with Michigan, though not before nearly shattering our dreams during a signing day flirtation with Cal. Brian, however, was nonplussed, proferring this muted reaction to McGuffie's inclusion in the class:
General Excitement Level: AAAAIIEEEE! Man... this offense is McGuffie's jam, man, and the Church Of Barwis will excommunicate anyone who doubts his his's ability to get up to 200-some pounds without compromising his lightning quicks. Steve Slaton says what.
Projection: He's the man, man. Will battle Brown and Grady for carries at first; probably a Noel Devine role his first year.
Oh. Unfortunately, you all know how this one went. McGuffie showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman in 2008, but also the durability of a paper bag. After finishing the season as the team's second-leading rusher, he decided to transfer closer to home, ending up at Rice, where he'll be a redshirt senior in 2012. Not exactly what we'd all envisioned when the guy who frontflipped over J.B. Shugarts at the Army Game hit campus.
McGuffie wasn't the only back in the class, however, as he was joined by two other intriguing prospects. Rich Rodriguez earned the "snake-oil salesman" moniker for snatching Roy Roundtree from Purdue (more on him later), but his other signing day surprise was pulling Trotwood-Madison RB Michael Shaw away from Penn State. You'll never guess what Brian noticed on his film [emphasis mine]:
I am not a scout, but in the Shaw video at Scouting Ohio I saw a guy with a knack for catching the flare, good speed, and exactly one move: an upfield cut followed by a bounce-out that got him outside high school defenders with regularity.
And thus we find the origins of bouncebouncebouncebounce.
The final back in the class was a relative unknown from the football hotbed of Avon, Connecticut. Mike Cox's name required a disclaimer in the notes section of his profile—"Degree of difficulty applies on all jokes about his name. (IE: please no "Mike Cox is huge" jokes.)"—while his school's sporting pedigree invited a healthy dose of skepticism:
There's almost zero reliable data on Cox. His high school conference is well known for hockey -- read full of rich white guys named "Higginbotham" (no, literally) -- and is awful at football.
Until reading the profile, I had completely forgotten that Michigan took Cox over four-star Detroit Country Day product and eventual Notre Dame commit Jonas Gray. In retrospect, I think it's safe to say that was a mistake, even though Gray wasn't a major contributor until his senior season. At least we got four years of stale dick jokes, though.
NEVER FORGET, Part Deux
Rodriguez's hire brought to Michigan the era of the waterbug slot guy, which promised to be great fun for a fanbase used to watching tiny track-star guys tear it up only for opponents. The recruit expected to come in and make a big splash early was four-star Terrence Robinson out of Klein, Texas, and all it took was one physics-defying play to see why:
Commits pulling Hakeem Olajuwon post moves at warp speed during a football game understandably cause a fair amount of excitement. Brian busted out the obligatory Breaston comparison and projected him to be in the mix at both returner and slot receiver. Robinson finished his Michigan career with one catch, two kickoff returns, and one punt return for a grand total of 94 all-purpose yards.
Michigan's other slot ninja was Pahokee's Martavious Odoms, whose profile contains endless testimonials about his rabbit-chasing speed. Brian's comparison is Devin Hester and also a version of Steve Breaston that actually catches the bombs:
General Excitement Level: Moderate++. He's never going to be Braylon Edwards but if he's as fast as his reputation he could be a dynamite returner and even a deep threat: remember Steve Breaston's ill-fated career as the target of bombs? Well, he was open by yards time and again because opposing players got smoked by his moves and always dropped the ball. Odoms looks like he's pretty good at hauling in deep balls.
Projection: Will press for time as a returner immediately and is 50-50 to be the designated bubble screen guy, with Terrance Robinson the other option. Starts off with an advantage on Robinson because he's spent the last four years as a receiver.
Evaluation severely lacking in mountain goat blocking praise.
Despite the excitement over the tiny slot guys, the biggest expectations were reserved for consensus top-100 receiver Darryl Stonum, who chose Michigan over Florida, Alabama, USC, and Florida State. Breathless hype part one:
Natural change of direction? Fluid hips? Comes down with jump balls? A mix of Braylon Edwards and Mario Manningham... which, like, dude.
And part two:
General Excitement Level: Maximal. The second most likely kid in the class to have a long, productive career at Michigan, IMO, behind Dann O'Neill.
Stonum's production disappointed, even after it was discovered that he'd been playing half-blind and needed contacts, and his career came to an untimely end after a string of alcohol- and driving-related arrests.
The last of the four receiver recruits was Roy Roundtree, another Trotwood-Madison star whose projection was the closest to the eventual reality:
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Never going to be a gamebreaker, but a likely contributor. Has to add a lot of weight to be an effective player.
Projection: Redshirts, plays sparingly his second year, and is 50-50 to emerge into Michigan's #2 WR.
Roundtree redshirted, then led the team in catches in each of the next two seasons, though this was more the product of the offense—Roundtree was the main beneficiary of QB Oh Noes—than him being a true #1 receiver, though he may be forced into that role this season.
The 2008 class also featured two four-star tight end recruits, though both came with significant question marks. For Brandon Moore, the third of the Trotwood trio, the question was whether he was the future star who earned top-100 rankings and big-time offers after a standout junior season or the potential bust whose stock slipped significantly during a disappointing senior year. Scout actually started out with Moore as their #98 overall prospect before dropping him all the way to three stars and the #43(!) tight end. The verdict:
General Excitement Level: High, with caveats. Moore is a boom-or-bust guy with much potential but a long way to go.
Projection: Great success, great failure, or somewhere in between. Specific cat is specific.
Barring an out-of-nowhere breakout season in 2012, bust it is.
Meanwhile, Michigan took a head-to-head battle with Ohio State for Toledo Whitmer's Kevin Koger, but it was unclear whether he'd stick at tight end or eventually make a move to defensive end:
It must be said: Koger is widely regarded a prospect of equal or greater merit at defensive end, and with Nick Perry's escape to Southern Cal Michigan finds themselves with one defensive end recruit across two classes. Though it's possible one of the linebackers -- most likely Marcus Witherspoon -- could end up with his hand down, Michigan is critically short there.
A down-the-line move was projected, but that was largely based on the assumption that Moore would pan out. Instead, it was Koger who'd get the lion's share of the snaps at tight end for the next four years.
Brian's O-line Knowledge Has Come A Long Way
One of the staples of the recruiting recaps is the "YMRMFSPA" section, in which Brian compares the recruit's style of play to a notable former player (usually a Wolverine, but not always, as evidenced by the Hester comparison for Odoms). With Michigan pulling in six offensive linemen in 2008, coming up with the proper approximation got a little difficult:
Dann O'Neill: YMRMFSPA Jake Long. No pressure.
Kurt Wermers: YMRMFSPA Matt Lentz?
Elliott Mealer: YMRMFSPA Matt Stenavich(?)
Rocko Khoury: YMRMFSPA Uh, that other un-touted guard person.
Ricky Barnum: YMRMFSPA Rod Payne?
Patrick Omameh: YMRMFSPA ????
Dave Petruziello and Leo Henige feel very neglected, man.
As you can see above, before Taylor Lewan was the Next Jake Long, that distinction went to Dann O'Neill, a top 100 recruit from Grand Haven. Not only was O'Neill quite a talent, his services were desperately needed along a thin offensive line:
Dann O'Neill might be Michigan's most critical recruit. The only tackles in the last two recruiting classes are incumbent RT Steve Schilling, three-star Perry Dorrestein, and two-star sleeper (as in "only had offers from MAC schools" sleeper) Mark Huyge. Finding two starting tackles from that group once the Zirbel-Ortmann class graduates in two years was looking very risky.
Brian projected O'Neill to start "at some point, hopefully later (say, as a redshirt sophomore) rather than sooner (say, this fall)." Instead, he never played a down as a Wolverine, transferring to Western Michigan after his freshman year. He would eventually earn a start at Michigan Stadium in 2011, but as a member of the Broncos.
The other future washout on the line was Indiana guard Kurt Wermers, whose off-field hobbies were not exactly typical of a football player [emphasis Brian's]:
Wermers was also named to the stupidly named "Offense-Defense Bowl" in Miami. The OD bowl appears to be a sort of second-tier all star game. Big whoop, except for the press release announcing the selection:
"Wermers, a veritable renaissance man whose hobbies include weightlifting, playing guitar, singing, and reading, also enjoys spending time on the virtual field of battle in the wildly popular massively multiplayer role-playing game World of Warcraft when not battling in the trenches on the football field."
This dovetails with information from May about Wermer's participation in... an a capella group:
"I love it," Wermers said of singing. "It gives me a chance to get away from big jocky athletic guys and hang out with a different group of people."
I don't think we'll be having any discipline issues with young Mr. Wermers. It's just a feeling.
Wermers left the team before the 2009 season, saying he decided to transfer because Rodriguez was "bringing in a lot of different kids that were not my kind of crowd," and running the team like a business (Wermers signed when Carr was the coach, but obviously never played under him). It was later revealed that Wermers was academically ineligible when he announced his transfer, probably because he was playing WoW instead of going to class. Discipline issues: check.
The player who's actually panned out was the lowest-ranked among the six, Patrick Omameh, a two-star DE to Rivals and the #87 OT to Scout. There wasn't much comment on Omameh beyond addressing his sleeper status; speculation about his future position turned out to go 0-for-2:
There are conflicting reports as to whether Omameh was recruited as a center (where his intelligence would help with the line calls) or tackle; that will get sorted out somewhere down the line.
As you know, Omameh is entering his third year as the full-time starter at... right guard.
Finally, Ricky Barnum peered into the future and got a serious head start on his future team's biggest rivalry:
Various people are probably irritated with Ricky Barnum: Urban Meyer, for one. Also OH OL Zebrie Sanders, who tried to commit to Florida but was told to talk to the hand because Barnum and another player had filled Florida's OL quotient for the year. Sanders, also rejected by Georgia for the same reason, ended up at Florida State and Urban ended up short one highly recruited interior lineman. Not that anyone will ever shed a tear for Urban Meyer.
Well done, Ricky.
Oh herro prease. I'm back for spring practice. There will be two or three pressers every week leading up to the spring game, and I will be transcribing all of them. Huzzah!
News bullets and other important things:
- Ricky Barnum is practicing at center.
- Rocko Khoury, Terrence Robinson, Mike Cox, and George Morales are all graduating this spring and will not return for the 2012 season
- Justice Hayes is staying at running back but will be considered for kickoff return duties.
- The spring game will be a scrimmage due to lack of bodies on offensive and defensive line.
On wearing pants today: “I put them on just for you guys.”
“First, this is off-topic a little bit, but we had severe weather yesterday and the damage and all that was out there in Dexter, and I don’t know too many other places -- I think that was the worst hit, but our thoughts and prayers are with those folks who went through that. We had our guys here for training table and when the campus alert went out they were all in the locker room and it was one of those situations. Our thoughts and prayers really go out to those people who were affected by it.
“We also yesterday had our pro day, which is a part of your program that the guys who have given so much, the opportunity, the dream they may have about continuing after they get a great degree from Michigan and continuing to play the game of football. I thought they represented Michigan well, and we’re proud of them for that.
“As far as this team, Team 133, I think we have a lot of questions. I know I do from the perspective of who’s going to emerge as the leaders, who’s going to have the toughness to lead and the sacrifice to lead. I think we’ve had a good winter. You can see some guys developing, you can see some guys really working hard, but I think you put the pads on, spring football, those things, you learn a little bit more about your football team. Starting tomorrow morning we get to do that. It’s going to be fun because you get to wear shorts again, get out on the field … it’s going to be good.
"When you look at where we’re at, there’s some obvious holes that we need to fill from the standpoint of our defensive line with the three seniors graduating at the position who played a lot of snaps for us a year ago. When you look at our offensive line there’s some good competition, but at the same time we’ve got to see improvement from young guys like Chris Bryant. He’s done a good job with the weight room and that part of it, but how he continues and matures. And Ricky Barnum, we’re going to play him at center to start with and see where he ends up there. Elliott Mealer getting an opportunity at the guard position, and Schofield will go out to right tackle, and obviously Taylor will obviously be the left tackle. Really for us we were very fortunate from an injury (standpoint) on both sides nad both fronts when you look at the guys up front defensively who stayed relatively healthy until the bowl practices and the six guys who were really responsible for the front. Those were the obvious places. Obviously Junior, Odoms, and Kelvin Grady. There’s a rotation there, and Junior obviously having most [contribution] statistically and all those things. There’s heavy competition and there will be competition.
"That’s probably the longest I’ve ever spoke.”
On your defensive line, how big of a spring is this for Will Campbell?
“I think it’s big, but I think he’s made great progress [in] what he’s done from a physical standpoint how he looks and all those things. I think his leadership and that part of it, with Quinton Washington, Richard Ash, when you start looking at that nose position, the ability for Will to slide from the 3-technique to the nose position is important.”
What’s the biggest issue with moving a guy like Ricky from guard to center?
“I think number one, snapping the football is always a little different. Now we did quite a bit with Rick when he got back healthy last year, playing both. I think Darrell and Al both had that mindset, if we did get beat up somewhere else where we had to rotate those guys -- at the end of the day the best five guys have to play, however that rotation works out. But I think snapping the ball, the shot gun snaps, you’d like to see centers be able to snap and step at the same time.”
Is the reason you’re moving Ricky to center because you’re not confident in guys like Rocko Khoury or Jack Miller?
“Well …” (ominous pause) “… I think there’s some unknowns there. I think that’s the best way to put it.”
How has Craig Roh embraced the move to strongside and Jibreel Black with the move inside?
“I think they’ve really embraced it. I know when we had the conversation and Greg met with Craig after we discussed it staff-wise. It was like, okay. I get to eat a little more. If someone said that to me I’d be happy. He really has embraced it. They’ve done some senior drill work and all that where all those guys -- him and Jibreel both are really excited about it.”
Do you expect there to be greater competition on the offensive and defensive lines since a lot of positions are up for grabs?
“I think so. I think these guys have learned to compete more and more as far as what our perception of competition is and our expectation of competition. I think they understand what’s at stake and I think they also understand that September 1st is going to be here before we know it.”
Borges said on the radio that he wished he would have spent more time using the spread early on in the season before transitioning to the pro-style. Is there an opportunity to spend more time in the spread now?
“I think the more we get comfortable in this scheme, you may see a little more, but for us, I think Al when he’s talking about that, [he meant] maybe we could have had a little more success, but we were pretty good early. I think you could because of some things that we’ve looked at.”
How have the three early enrollees progressed through the winter?
“I think they’ve had a really great winter. The first thing you always look at is how they adjust from being away from home, mom not cooking, mom not doing your laundry. I think classes, and that responsibility -- I think Joe and Kaleb and Jarrod have all really done a good job. Talking to coach Wellman in the weight room and how their work ethic is, I think all three of them have done a tremendous job.
Have any of the three stood out in any way?
“I think they all have maybe not exceeded but have adjusted well.”
“Yeah, we’ve got some guys … George Morales is going to graduate. Rocko’s going to graduate. Terrence Robinson will graduate, and Mike Cox is graduating. I think that’s it.”
Is that this spring?
“Yeah. A couple of them have like six hours in the summer, because this is the winter quarter.”
So they will not be back in 2012?
“Hmm mm. (No.)”
Ws that their decision?
“I think it’s their decision.”
Could they take advantage of the post graduation transfer rule?
“Mm hmm. (Yes.)”
What do you expect out of Roy this season? Who do you have hope for at the receiver position to step up?
“I think the first guy you look at is always Roy. I think that Jeremy Gallon is a guy who has shown tremendous ability. You look at his year and he was pretty successful. You look at Jeremy Jackson and his development and his growth. Dileo is a really valuable guy to our team. Jerald Robinson is a guy -- he was down most of the year with us. He can be pretty productive. Joe Reynolds is a guy who’s worked awfully hard.”
What’s different going into the second spring here vs. a year ago?
“For us, I don’t know if you look at it a whole lot differently. I mean you’re always trying to meet expectations of competitiveness, toughness, leadership, development, discipline, and all those things. At the same time it’s probably a little -- I never want to say the word easier -- but they do know what certain terms mean now from an offensive schematic or defensive schematic in how we coach or how we call things.”
What’s the next step in leadership that you want to see Denard take?
“He’s done a really good job of leading this winter. He’s done a good job when you look at -- he’s always been an unselfish player, so that’s always something that his teammates have seen. But he’s always taken it and been a little more … you hear him a little more I guess. Holding guys accountable a little more.”
From a passing standpoint, how big is going back to the fundamentals and footwork?
“There’s no question. That’s an everyday thing, and that’s an everyday thing for every position. The fundamentals and techniques. Our guys do a lot of seven-on-seven in the offseason. Continually they work drills at every position, so that’s huge.”
Last year the defensive line set the tone for the defense. Do you set that kind of expectations for this group?
“No question about it. Your expectations don’t go down. They better increase because the bar is always going to be set high here at Michigan and should be. Those expectations are for the position, not the person who plays the position.”
How does their lack of experience change the way you approach that this season?
“It doesn’t. Maybe you are a little more patient when they don’t do it exactly like we want them to, so that might be part of it, but it really doesn’t.”
Do you anticipate growing pains with that group? What’s the kind of thing that will drive you crazy during spring practice?
“A guy not playing with toughness and a guy not running to the football. That will drive me crazy.”
How good do you feel about your back seven? All of them are returning.
“I think as a whole, as a unit, I feel good -- I feel good about the kids themselves. As a unit that’s going to play at the level we need to play, I don’t feel very good because we didn’t play as well as we needed to a year ago. I’m not a huge statistic guy, but you go in and you look at opportunities that we missed either in passes broken up or interceptions on that end or supporting the end, getting off a block and doing that, and you’re looking at your linebackers a little bit -- your inside guys, are they missing tackles or making tackles? I’ve always been from the school that we’re going to be really critical, so I like the guys who we have. I like the guys who are coming in. I think we’ll have great competition by the time September 1st gets here. That part of it’s good, and I like that. I like having guys how have had some experience. Now where can they take the next step with the fundamentals and schematically of what we’re trying to do so that we don’t get beaten by Michigan State or we don’t get beaten by Iowa or we don’t give up this many points against somebody.”
With the attrition, you seem to be pretty low in terms of numbers.
“Well we’ve been low in numbers for a while, especially at the offensive line position from a scholarship standpoint. I think last year we had eight guys. Usuaully that number is 14 to 16. From a defensive line standpoint, if you’re going to have a four-man front, you better have 14 to 16 scholarship guys. We weren’t even close.”
Are you happy about how 2013 recruiting is going?
“Well number one, this is not an exact science and you don’t really know what you get until they get here because this is a hard game to play and hard to be championship teams and play. I think our coaches have worked extremely hard. I think they do a tremendous job evaluating and we’ll see. That’s why there’s a signing date. First Wednesday in February. But we’ll see. We have a long way to go.”
Punting struggles with Will Hagerup?
“The punting situation is one that will be competitive. I think both guys are very capable. I think the consistency we need to have by whoever that guy is is going to be an important part.”
How do you see the running back situation shaping up since Fitz locked down the starting position last season?
“Well he’s going to compete. He’s going to compete there. I think I’ve said this since day one. There’s nothing sacred. There’s no position that’s given an entitlement. He ended the year doing a nice job for us. You have to love the kid -- I do -- because of his competitiveness. I think he grew up a lot during the course of the year with whatthe expectiations are for a Michigan back. But Thomas Rawls and Vince Smith and Hayes, you know, there’s guys there. He can’t have a bad day.”
You mentioned Justice Hayes. Are you keeping him at running back or moving him to another position?
“No, he’s a back. We’ll see how he transpires. The good thing about him, he does have that talent where he can go out and catch the ball and he’s got great explosion. Kickoff returns -- he’d be a guy we want to look at because he’s got a gear to him that’s a little different.”
Spring game format?
“It’ll probably be a lot like last year. We’d love to have a true spring game, there’s no doubt about it. I said some numbers earlier about your most physical two positions on your team, and our numbers aren’t where they need to be.”
Are you taking walk-ons this spring?
“We’ll wait more until the fall.”
no more really good runs at the end of MAC blowouts
Brady Hoke's kicking off spring practice with a press conference and has announced the following players are departing:
- RB Mike Cox: we'll always have you dancing on the internet.
- C Rocko Khoury: we'll always have that Iowa game you played decently well in last year.
WR Terrence Robinson: we'll always have Dream Shake and your sexy cocked eyebrow.
I look forward to your Old Spice commercial.
- LS George Morales: we'll always have mortified punter gif even if you had no involvement with it.
Cox never played and was never going to play even if Michigan was down to Paki O'Meara as an alternative; Khoury was the backup center you may remember not snapping it to Denard on the first drive against Virginia Tech; teeny tiny Robinson found a role as a punt gunner last but will will not reprise it. Morales is only notable as the walking embodiment of Late Carr Era recruiting failures; he was never actually on scholarship after the first year, IIRC.
Zero of these guys had eligibility for 2013, so this frees up no scholarships for that class. Hoke said all are graduating, so no need to fret about APR issues. As far as team issues: I'd rather have Khoury and Robinson around to contribute, even if slightly. Chopping down the center race from three guys to two is worrying, and we don't even get to expand our 2013 class projections. Boo to that.
Notes from Brady Hoke's final press conference before the Spring Game. Photo from file.
Spring game - not enough depth to have a draft "and that would be what we'd wanna do, have the seniors draft." 1s will go against 1s, 2s against 2s. "We'll keep a score of some sort, but there's no scoreboard anyway." Winners get steaks, loser get hot dogs. The teams tied last Saturday. Scrimmage - "It will go until I think we've done enough plays."
Offense and defense will both be on the field the whole time. Al will coach the offense, Greg defense. "So that they can get the mechanics of gameday and getting the plays and personnel in and all that," Borges has been away from the field in the last couple practices.
Alumni returning - "It's great to have all these guys back. I think they've got close to 85 for the flag game they're gonna play. We've got over 300 coming in Friday night for a team meeting."
Team meeting: "We're gonna have a conversation. You know. We're just gonna talk about Michigan football." Introduce the new staff to the former players, and talk about how they're accountable. Current players will not be present.
Held out Saturday - Woolfolk, Floyd, Lewan, Demens, that's about it. Shaw and Molk are both back. Woolfolk has done very little. "He's done some individual drills and stuff like that. He maybe has taken a few snaps in 1-on-1 and a few snaps in 7-on-7." Floyd is behind in his recovery compared to where Woolfolk is.
Hoke always participates in hands-on coaching "I couldn't just walk around and watch stuff."
"We're heading down the home stretch of spring, obviously. We've got two days left to keep evaluating." Mindset, mentality, etc. will still be evaluated in the final two days. "We've made some progress in some of those areas but we're a long way from being the football team we want to be in the fall."
Koger, Herron, RVB leaders. Hard for Molk to assert himself since he's been out so much. "Your definition of a leader can vary. It doesn't have to be a vocal guy."
There's better communication, especially on defense, at this point than there was at the beginning of spring. It starts with communicating changed fronts. "I think that there's a pride that those guys are starting to feel as a defense." Defensive communication - "I think Ryan [Van Bergen] has done a really good job. I think he gets it." Cam Gordon and JB Fitzgerald, Kovacs, Carvin Johnson have been vocal out there.
Defensive coaching chemistry: "It's great. It's like they've coached together forever... As soon as recruiting was over, we started those meetings, how you wanna coach it, how you coach it."
"I think we're OK" with how much they've gotten done this spring. Really depends on how the next two practice days go. "I usually like to compete in 2 minute offense/defense] 3 or 4 times throughout the spring." They'll work that in earlier in fall camp to make sure they get it done.
Individual evaluations with every player, with Hoke and their coordinator and their position coach. "Expectations, where they're at, what they need to do. Where their weight needs to be when they report. What their role right now will be in the fall... The evaluations at the end, believe me, they'll be very specific."
Freshmen contributing this fall: "Really haven't thought about it much yet." Depth concern at OL and DL might provide some opportunities, but it's too early to say. Corner? "Maybe. We'll see. Greg Brown's really, in the last week and a half he's really stepped up." Courtney Avery has stepped up as well.
Lloyd Carr - "He's been over. Hasn't been to a practice, but he's been in and we've talked a little bit. Coach Moeller has been around a little bit, and Coach Hanlon is here every day [laughing]."
Denard and Devin: "I think Devin is a very talented guy and I think he's learned the offense well. I think he's got a good handle on it. There's some consistency we've gotta coach better with." QBs will organize 7-on-7s in the summer. What will Denard take into the summer to work on? Footwork issues, ball mechanics, play action game. He needs to settle his feet on dropbacks. "The mental aspect of getting you in the right plays" based on safety alingment, defensive fronts, etc.
Running back - "I think Hop's had a pretty good spring... Toussaint's been pretty steady." Mike Cox hasn't practiced as much because he has a class during Tuesday practice time "so that doesn't help him." Smith has played well. Incoming freshmen will have a chance to step in. "Hopkins is a guy right now who has been probably the most consistent." He can also line up at FB and do some things there.
Tight ends - they have the guys to run what they want. Koger was out early in spring "but he didn't miss much." He's been good on the line, Ricardo's more of a "move guy" right now. "I think the 4 guys you mentioned [Moore and Watson] all have done a good job in the offense, and that will be an important part of what we do offensively."
Molk - "He's been doing some individual, and then yesterday he did more of some of the team stuff." With Lewan out, Huyge has played both tackle positions, Schofield has been good, Ricky Barnum has been kicked out to tackle a few times. "You have 7 or 8 guys who will form kinda the nucleus of the group."
Rocko Khoury has gotten a lot of good snaps. Omameh has taken most RG snaps, played a little bit at RT. "A guy like David who's played a lot of football, sometimes you need to give snaps to more of those other guys."
Barnum: "I tell ya, Ricky's a good football player. He's a tough kid, he's a smart kid, he plays with good technique. That's why he's a good football player." He's been as consistent as any player up front this spring.
Defensive Linemen: Mike Martin - "He's done a good job. We're doing a couple different things with him." "I think think Will Campbell has made strides, but the consistency has to be there. You know Quinton, I think he's going to be a good football payer here at Michigan."Jibreel Black "Jibreel is a guy that, as his body composition changes a little bit, he's gonna be a good football player. I think him and Craig at the rush have had pretty good springs." Roh has progressed better than they thought this spring.
Linebackers - "Marell's done a pretty good job. We moved Brandon Herron back to a Mike." Mike Jones and Brandin Hawthorne at Will. "Cam Gordon's getting better, and I think Cam will have a very good summer." Jake Ryan also at Sam. Those six plus JB Fitzgerlad who "has started to come along a little bit."
Safety situation is fluid. "Carvin Jonhson, I would say of anybody, and Kovacs" know the defense best. Marvin Robinson has also come in and made plays, along with Thomas Gordon.
Kicking game: "I think it's a work in progress." Everything from snapping, to punting, etc. needs to continue improving. Long snappers are competing. Placekicking is a "huge competition with 4 guys in there." Seth Broekhuizen, Kris Pauloski, Jeremy Ross, and Brendan Gibbons. They kicked 14 or 15 times during last week's competition at the stadium. "They haven't been there probably as much as we'd like for them to." The field is the same indoors, the elements are the only difference. "We've got a lot of work to do in that area of it." Wile will get a chance to compete when he comes in. [Author's note: those two statements weren't said back-to-back, so don't read too much into it. Hoke said every freshman has a chance to compete for playing time].