McKeon: still a freshman? [Eric Upchurch]
On redshirts. I don't know if this is a recent change or if it has always been this way, but the medical redshirt operating parameters I've been working with are incorrect. I've been under the impression that if you play at all after game #4 you are ineligible. That is in fact not the case:
The injury must occur prior to the start of the second half of the season.
The student-athlete must not have competed in more than 30% of the season or three contests, whichever is greater.
(FWIW, I looked this up in the NCAA's bylaw search engine to confirm. I am an exciting person with many rewarding pastimes.)
The NCAA rounds up if 30% of the season is not an integer, so as long as games played < 5 and latest game played < 7, you are eligible. For Michigan that means guys who played in four or fewer games and did not participate after Rutgers can get a year of eligibility back if there is sufficient medical documentation. I believe Michigan has assembled such documentation.
Classification of freshmen follows.
- Did not play: Brandon Peters, Kareem Walker, Stephen Spanellis, Ron Johnson, Quinn Nordin.
- Eligible for hardship year: Kingston Davis, Nick Eubanks, Sean McKeon, Carlo Kemp, Mike Dwumfour, Josh Uche, David Long.
- Definitely sophomores: Chris Evans, Kekoa Crawford, Eddie McDoom, Nate Johnson, Devin Asiasi, Ben Bredeson, Mike Onwenu, Rashan Gary, Devin Gil, Elysee Mbem-Bosse, Lavert Hill, Khaleke Hudson, Josh Metellus.
If the guys eligible for hardships get them that dials back the Great Halifax Redshirt Fire Of 2016 a great deal. The only burned redshirts that look wasteful in that case are Nate Johnson (who played just three games, but one was Nebraska) and maybe the two linebackers. Everyone else was either an important contributor or clear heir apparent needed in 2017.
We've moved the hardship-eligible folks back to the freshman column on the depth chart by class.
RIP Tirrel Burton. John U Bacon eulogizes:
Today, big time college football coaches are media stars, with thousands of followers on Twitter. They’re rich and famous, whether they should be or not. Even assistant coaches are millionaires. But it wasn’t always that way.
This week in Ann Arbor a few hundred people gathered to remember a college football coach who wasn’t rich or famous. But he’d earned the respect of everyone there.
Returning experience: nope! There was a spate of articles last offseason claiming that Michigan was low on returning experience; these were wrong because they believed the Michigan roster and its lack of announced redshirts. This year, though, I rather believe metrics like Bill Connelly's that declare Michigan to be #127 of 129 D-I teams in returning experience. Losing 9.5 defensive starters*, three OL, and your top three receivers tends to do that.
Other Big Ten teams way down the list: Iowa (#118), Nebraska (#122), and... yep, 3-9 Michigan State (#124). The most alarming aspect of last year's MSU outfit from the perspective of an MSU fan has to be the fact that they were not young at all.
Michigan doesn't play anyone particularly high up the list except Indiana, which just set their program on fire. It is notable that 2017 opponent Air Force—a charter member of the MGoBlog Never Schedule This Team list, thanks Dave—is dead last. Hopefully we don't get the bejeezus scared out of us again.
*[Mo Hurst was a starter in production if not actuality.]
It's been a while. Here's a Big Ten fight song medley from 1929. Chicago is included, and Michigan State is not, like God intended.
NFL scouting for various Michigan players. Many impressed. Jourdan Lewis:
Lewis used light feet, loose hips and excellent acceleration to blanket receivers throughout the practice. Eastern Washington's Cooper Kupp (more on him later) was one of the few receivers to gain even a sliver of space on Lewis Tuesday and though he managed to catch one pass on the Wolverines' star, Lewis was there immediately to eliminate any possible yardage after the grab.
Lewis' agility and acceleration stood out in the afternoon but during the weigh-ins Tuesday morning it was his surprising length that proved a pleasant surprise. Though possessing just "average" height for the position at 5-foot-10 and 188 pounds, Lewis has disproportionately long arms (31 inches), which make him that much better suited to handling the massive receivers he'll face on the outside in the NFL.
Ben Gedeon - Michigan LB - Hard nosed, seems to be going faster than others at the spot / Instinctive / Not a playmaker but could be a strong special teamer
Chris Wormley - Michigan DL - Huge / great line from a scout 'his calfs are the size of goal posts' / prob a 1st rounder, needs to play mean
2. DE - Chris Wormley, Michigan - An ideal blend of size (6-foot-5½, 297) and speed for an NFL defensive end in a 4-3 system, nobody displayed better and more consistent pass-rushing speed in Mobile this week than Wormley. He's quick off the snap, good at splitting double teams and can get to the quarterback.
8. ILB - Ben Gedeon, Michigan - Yes, there was a lot of Wolverine representation on the North Defense. Michigan didn't finish No. 1 in the nation in total defense for nothing. Gedeon (6'1 5/8" / 247) was a standout against the run in all three days of practice. He's strong and physical with good instincts. He struggled at times on his pass rush drills, but he may be best suited as a two down inside linebacker who goes to the sidelines in passing situations anyway.
Smith, who gained 846 yards on 181 carries and scored 10 rushing touchdowns for the Wolverines in 2016, has looked more elusive than he did in Ann Arbor. He also has proven he can catch. Add those traits to his blocking ability and his familiarity with pro-style protections after playing two seasons for Jim Harbaugh, and Smith suddenly looks like a mid-round pick a team can plug in immediately. And if the line in front of him is good enough, Smith could wind up on one of those lists.
Blue chip quarterbacks: many transfer. Dueling takes on the same subject on Signing Day eve from the Sporting News and Sports on Earth. The latter article is a just-the-facts-ma'am take on the recent history of blue-chip QBs:
It would be a mistake to call it an epidemic. Transfers have gone up in college football, and that's especially true at quarterback, where there are only so many starting positions available. The wave of transfers is often treated like a problem, but players switching schools to try to find a better opportunity for themselves is hardly an actual problem. (Coaches do it all the time.) The graduate transfer rule in particular has made transferring easier, as veteran players with degrees in hand can switch teams without sitting out a year.
The massive wave of transfers is undeniably a big story, even if it's overblown as a problem. While a lot of coaches and fan bases will be excited on Wednesday when blue-chip quarterbacks sign to play at their school, there's a good chance that those QBs won't actually finish their careers with the same team or deliver on the hype.
In fact, from 2007-13, more than half of four- and five-star quarterback recruits didn't finish their college career at the school they originally picked, whether it's because they transferred, were dismissed, switched to baseball or gave up playing football. (This does not include players who left early for the NFL Draft.) Likewise, just 44.1 percent of the 145 blue-chip quarterbacks signed from 2007-13 attempted at least 300 career passes for their original team.
The Sporting News article gets a bunch of huffy quotes from Brady Quinn about kids these days:
"It's almost like a generational systematic issue where kids feel entitled and they feel like they should have the opportunity," Quinn said. "They don’t realize that opportunity is earned. It's not given. That's kind of my issue with it. I don't know how you change it unless you change things at the levels below college."
As you might imagine, this caused some eyerolls in MGoSlack. There are two main reasons for the uptick in transfers: the grad transfer rule and the commercialization of the sport.
The first one should be obvious: a redshirt senior who would otherwise be out of luck can now transfer, degree in hand, to another school where he'll get a shot. Shane Morris counts as a departure; ten years ago he would have not been offered a fifth year by Michigan and would be done with college football.
The second is a little more winding, but when you've spent the last 20 years doing literally everything you can to maximize revenue with no other concerns do you really expect platitudes about loyalty to mean much? Recruits are told it's a business now, and, I mean, does it or does it not act exactly like a business? It does. And you'd be dumb to have loyalty to most businesses.
Meanwhile I wonder how many of those Bama transfers even had the option to return this season. One, certainly. Saban no doubt prefers a veteran option if Hurts gets injured. Three? No. The NCAA's overall cap on scholarships encourages movement. It's not a damn millennials thing, and it's certainly not a problem with high schools and parents. Move to a yearly cap with no overall cap and transfers go down immensely because there's no motivation for schools to prune kids who aren't panning out.
To blame the players, who are doing the things the system either tells them to or literally forces them to, is high grade paternalist bullshit. I love the smell of NCAA in the morning.
Harbaugh antics, year 3. I mean:
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh bumped into a familiar face on the recruiting trail in Iowa on Wednesday evening.
This meeting was significantly less painful for Harbaugh than the first.
Harbaugh tweeted a photo of himself and Dan McGivern, the man who he said was driving a mail truck that broke Harbaugh's leg nearly 50 years ago.
Just like wow man.
Etc.: Notre Dame blogs are bringing up Charlie Weis again, so that's fun. A look back at the 2007 Rivals 100, ten years on. Michigan guys do not feature heavily—that was the Mallett/Warren year where after the top two they barely got anyone. Toney Clemons was the only other top 100 guy. This is a good recruiting class. Lawsuit filed against Baylor is incredible. Charity Bowl opens early. Fouad Egbaria on the MSU game. Ryan Glasgow might land at the same place his brother did.
Here's this. Bobby Loesch made it and is a gentleman and a scholar.
It's time for America's greatest rivalry game. Michigan State. Rutgers. This game is the situation, and they play for America's greatest rivalry trophy.
— † Wolverine Devotee (@UMichWD) November 7, 2016
One of these teams will leave with a Big Ten win and The Situation. Noon. Probably on television. Check BeIN Sports 2. No? Does QVC have an overflow channel? Well, I'm sure you'll find it. They televise everything these days. I saw Magic: The Gathering once.
At least you've got your vomit-soaked sidewalks. Michigan State may be 2-7 and playing Rutgers to find out which Big Ten team is going winless in conference, but at least the city it's located in has a detailed bill it would like to present the university.
EAST LANSING — East Lansing has determined what it says Michigan State University is costing city residents.
Right down to the vomit removal.
Fire department calls, police overtime and downtown cleanup after student nightlife are among the issues that cost the city about $3.75 million last year, according to a recent study paid for by the city.
I say just leave the vomit—it's not like anyone can tell that you cleaned it up. And the RCMB agrees!
I remember back in the late 80s when I transferred to MSU. I went to WMU for a year and then transferred. K'zoo was a complete dump. Nothing to do. Other than Lafayette Square, it wasn't happening. I couldn't wait to leave K'zoo and I also couldn't wait to leave GR after the summer was over to get back to East Lansing for the fall terms to begin. Now? K'zoo and GR are so much better than East Lansing. And even they aren't the greatest. But it tells you just how far East Lansing has fallen.
I moved back to Lansing from 2009 to 2013. I could not wait to move away from there again in 2013. It was a mistake to move back to Lansing. Lansing is dismal but almost better than East Lansing now. East Lansing is a complete shell of itself. Just terrible. It lacked any of the vitality it once held. It was is of depressing to see.
That's part of a wildly entertaining five-page thread full of Spartans dumping venom on East Lansing's taxes, generic chain restaurants, city leadership, vacant storefronts, and DUI conviction rate. (That latter might not be East Lansing's fault, guys.) Highly recommended. The Spartans' profession appears to be self-owning.
A bountiful cornucopia in Ann Arbor. NFL scouts have noticed that Michigan appears to be somewhat good this year. ESPN asks which Big Ten players have seen their NFL stock go up and literally every observer starts with something along these lines:
Everybody at Michigan. (laughs) I’ll tell you what, Harbaugh, he just brings out the best in all his players. Shoot, every one of those guys has elevated their draft stock.
Amara Darboh, Mason Cole, Channing Stribling, Jabrill Peppers, Ben Gedeon, Delano Hill, De'Veon Smith, Chris Wormley, and Jake Butt all come in for praise. I'm slightly dubious about Cole's NFL potential given the struggles he's had against 3-4 nose tackles this year but hey man whatever. Michigan is set to have a dozen guys drafted, and you'd better believe that'll perk up recruits' ears. That goes double when scouts are praising Harbaugh's development as the direct cause of said draftees.
Best part of this: no Maurice Hurst. Let's keep that on the low for another year, yes please.
An eye for detail. Dan Murphy on the Harbauffense and the idea that it's a stodgy pro-style attack:
The Wolverines' beefy, pro-style offense snapped the ball 34 times in the first half and averaged 11.8 yards per play. They did it with a litany of creative wrinkles cloaked in the feel-good nostalgia of two-tight end sets and fullback dives. They are like a phonograph that can stream your iTunes through Bluetooth.
Stodgy is what Michigan will see this weekend in Iowa City. Michigan's got a new thing every week.
Don Brown, football dude. This is a week old but I must have missed it. The WaPo on Don Brown:
Yes, Brown and Michigan: “It’s a perfect place for him,” said Compton, whose father was Brown’s high school coach and Brown’s wife’s high school biology teacher. “He looks good in the colors. It’s perfect. Perfect! He likes that weather. It’s a natural fit for him.”
In that passage lies another thing about Brown, 61: Three former players go beyond the normal, fond recollections of former players. They effuse, and say old teammates do likewise. Somehow, this seems like big toughness mixed with big, big love. ...
Ihedigbo said: “That demeanor. That presence. He truly cares about you. It’s one of those things where you feel like you’re in it together. It’s not just trying to get the most out of you.”
Michigan has exceeded even the towering expectations placed on them by optimistic folks (hi!) preseason, and looks set for a showdown against Ohio State that could change the shape of the Big Ten for years to come. Still cannot get over what a great hire Brown was.
Old-school playcalling. Great Dr. Sap piece on the evolution of playcalling:
In the 1970’s, Bo would talk on the phone with Hanlon who was upstairs in the press box. After asking, “What do you want, Jerry?” Bo sent in the plays with offensive guards that rotated in and out of the game. It looked and sounded like this:
In the 1980’s, rotating wide receivers became the method of communication. The clip below can be summed up thusly, “Oh geez, Mo, let me handle this! AC, you tell Wangs to throw you the damn ball! Now THAT is how you do it, Gary!”
After a few delay of game penalties in critical situations, a change needed to be made.
Rotating guards bringing the playcall in! That is absolutely insane from a modern perspective. Also don't miss the Bo smirk at the end of the first video. Probably thinking about this going down in the huddle:
BRANDSTATTER: and he says to get your ass in there
BRANDSTATTER: CUT IT IN, he says
RB: in what
BRANDSTATTER: man... just get your ass in there
RB: i will take this under advisement
Etc.: Mike MacIntyre talks to SBN about how Colorado is good now. Marc Tracy on Harbaugh's Heisman push for Jabrill Peppers. A first look at Iowa isn't pretty. More Peppers gushing from NFL scouts. Ibi Watson exists. MSU had a lot of injuries so they lost to Illinois and their third string QB and three of their top four WRs out. Joe Kerridge will make his NFL debut this week.
The place to be. Michigan, 1948.
"Michigan is the place to be" — Life magazine, 11/8/1948 pic.twitter.com/PD3OZXAWwI
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) September 27, 2016
ALSO THE PLACE TO BE:
We're having a pre-Wisconsin event with Marlin Jackson at 1300 South Main Street. Festivities start at ten; I'll be there by noon. Proceeds benefit Jackson's excellent Fight For Life charity; you can park in the shadow of the Big House and partake for $56 or walk on over; there's a suggested donation of ten bucks. We'll have a raffle, a Q&A session with Marlin, and food provided by Tailgater Concierge and drink from Wolverine Brewing. Come on by, support a great cause, and ask Ace about Harambe!
Clark: ACL, gone. Fears confirmed, but Harbaugh did tell the assembled media they'd try to get Clark a sixth year. I'm going to be real peeved if he doesn't get one given the Ed Davis precedent.
This is a damn strong anagram team. The Hoover Street Rag has run many Michigan names through internet anagram sites and come up with some doozies. Favorites:
WILTON SPEIGHT gives you WHITEST LOPING
MIKE McCRAY gets you MY, I CRACK EM
CHRIS WORMLEY gets you CHOWS MERRILY
BEN BREDESON gets you BONES BENDER
This should be a category in not very serious game previews.
What happened in that Wisconsin-MSU game. It was a slugfest with both offenses barely cresting 300 yards. Wisconsin got the blowout because Tyler O'Conner was intercepted three times, LJ Scott fumbled for a Wisconsin scoop and score, and MSU's punter dropped a snap. In the aftermath the SB Nation MSU blog appears to have quit en masse. Gotta toughen up there, Sparty.
PFF's take on Alex Hornibrook was surprisingly negative:
Quarterback: Alex Hornibrook 57.2
This was certainly not a game that required a vintage quarterback performance to come away with the win. All the Badgers really needed were a handful of third-down conversions and Hornibrook did just that. His fumble early in the game could have been a costlier mistake although the interception before the end of the half was more of a last-ditch effort than anything else.
I thought he looked good through the first quarter and a half. I haven't seen the rest of the game yet, so maybe he fell off.
On defense, the main takeaway was that Wisconsin's linebackers kick ass. Four of their top five grades were LBs and almost all of them cracked the 80 grade that appears to be the cutoff for a really good performance. Vince Biegel had ten(!) QB hurries.
On the MSU side of things, Tyler O'Connor was horrendous (52.3 grade) and their offense failed to have anyone crack 80—Brian Allen was the only guy even close. The OL allowed presser on O'Connor on more of half their snaps, largely on failed blitz pickups. (Why, hello Mr. Peppers.) The defense was about on par with expectations except that Darian Hicks was good. They've got a guy with a big blinking THROW AT ME sign, though:
If you’re looking to point the finger at anyone on the Spartans defense, it would be safety Demetrious Cox. He allowed 7-8 targets for 94 yards and a touchdown.
Can't say I'm surprised.
Michigan has a tough assignment on offense this week, but I'd expect they hold the Badger offense in check.
A spate of injuries. Bad week for season-enders in the league. Michigan has of course lost Clark. Several other important players also went down for extended periods of time:
- Janarion Grant, also known as "the Rutgers offense" is out for the year after injuring his ankle at the tail end of a 76-yard run. Rutgers also lost DE Quanzell Lambert.
- Iowa wide receiver Matt Vandeberg, who currently has more catches than the rest of Iowa's WRs combined, injured his foot and is out 'indefinitely.' Per Tom Kakert, it's a broken foot that will end his year.
- MSU linebacker Riley Bullough kept up the family tradition by missing a game for mysterious reasons against Wisconsin. Reports have it that he was injured in practice before Notre Dame and will return sometime this season. Fellow LB Jon Reschke did something to his left leg in a non-contact situation and is out for a "significant amount of time" with what MSU is describing as an ankle sprain despite it not looking at all like an ankle sprain. Ed Davis is still being held out, probably in hopes he can get a seventh year.
- Wisconsin kicker Rafael Gaglianone missed the MSU game with a back issue and may or may not be back this weekend. Paul Chryst has "no idea." Ditto OL Jon Dietzen. Gaglianone's replacement, Andrew Endicott, missed an extra point but hit a 41-yard field goal. Wisconsin played much of the MSU game as if they had little confidence in him.
— Terrance Donnels (@LSUFreek) September 27, 2016
Exit Les Miles. Over the past five or six years if Les Miles's name has come up on this blog it's because I'm attempting to convince people we really did not want him to be Michigan's head coach. That doesn't mean college football isn't poorer for his absence now that he's been fired. He was perfect at LSU, where he could cause the internet to devolve into a string of exclamation points without affecting my blood pressure. Keep that dour offense and the Mardi Gras surrounding it down in the Bayou. Miles was fun, and fun in a way that it seems like only college football can support.
I recommend three eulogies. Two are essays, one from Spencer Hall...
1. Les Miles was fired from his job as LSU football coach this weekend. Getting fired four games into a season would only seem premature if time ever mattered to Miles, but it rarely did. Miles ran out of time, added time to games, forced others to work against it, and sometimes just melted the clock completely.
A one-score LSU game in the last three minutes could accelerate from full-on torpor to electric insanity, mostly because of his belief that a football game can sometimes be a little longer than 60 minutes if he needed it to be. You called people, tweeted at them, and yelled in all-caps when LSU ran shit down to the wire.
Miles at the wheel meant you were guaranteed 58 minutes of reliable, red-meat, Big Ten football. It also meant you got two minutes of off-the-rails Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride banditry that LSU might or might not survive.
...and the other from Matt Hinton:
Say this much for Les Miles’ tenure at LSU: It died as it lived, amid a fit of last-second chaos and confusion that nearly defied description.
Honestly, can you imagine a sequence that better captures the essence of a coach or team than the final, frantic seconds of the Tigers’ 18-13 loss at Auburn? Miles has made a living for years out of pulling victory from the jaws of defeat (among other orifices) in precisely the sort of fraught situation his team faced on Saturday — on fourth-down conversions and do-or-die bombs, via fake field goals and trick plays in moments no one else would have dared, under circumstances so bizarre almost no one could remember having ever seen them before.
The third is LSUfreek's timeline at this very moment.
— Terrance Donnels (@LSUFreek) September 27, 2016
Someone please hit Mack Brown with a shovel and insert Miles into his place posthaste.
Never hire an NFL coordinator. In the aftermath of the Lexit, Bill Connelly strikes upon a theme in a spate of recently-fired coaches on the successful end of the spectrum: awful coordinator hires. The beginning of the end for Les was importing Cam Cameron. Cameron was actually a successful NFL coordinator...
In 10 seasons as an NFL coordinator, Cameron's offenses had only once finished in the bottom half of the league in offensive DVOA.
...but his college offenses were 1990s-vintage NFL ones and increasingly horrendous. Mark Richt got the axe much faster after importing Brian Schottenheimer, who wasn't only an NFL coach but an NFL nepotism special. Brian Kelly isn't out at Notre Dame but his seat his quite hot after hiring Brian Van Gorder in the aftermath of Bob Diaco's departure for UConn.
What's the theme here? Don't hire an NFL coach.
Rule 1: Don’t look for NFL experience.
Of the 40 coordinators with recent top-10 offenses, only nine had any experience at the NFL level. Only four of 40 had been in the pros for more than three years. Two of these four (Pep Hamilton, Mike Bloomgren) were hired by Stanford, so I guess the corollary should be: “Don’t worry about NFL experience ... unless you’re David Shaw.”
On the defensive side, the percentages are similar. Of the 34 coordinators with recent top-10 defenses, only eight had NFL experience, and only four had more than three years in the NFL: Vance Bedford (2014 Texas, six years), Dan Quinn (2012 Florida, 10 years), Todd Grantham (2011 Georgia, 11 years), and Clancy Pendergast (2013 USC, 15 years).
I'd like to point out that when Bedford and Quinn had their top ten defenses they were working under head coaches (Charlie Strong and Will Muschamp) who were massively successful college defensive coordinators. The list of longtime NFL coaches able to do anything in college is extremely thin.
This is why I was panicked during the defensive coordinator search when Rivals kept bringing up NFL names, and super enthusiastic when Harbaugh passed up that trap for Don Brown.
Speaking of Don Brown. How's that going again?
The Michigan offense has been good enough in the early going. The Wolverines are finishing drives and converting short-yardage opportunities, controlling the ball and the field position battle despite only decent efficiency.
But the defense has been the driving force. New coordinator Don Brown's unit ranks first in havoc rate and second in Def. S&P+, and Peppers has been the catalyst for such successful aggressiveness.
I give it a thumbs up.
The Hirsch. Dan Murphy on a prime Rinaldi target:
He was a Harvard graduate with a reputation around the office as someone who set the bar high and usually managed to clear it. He was two years into a promising career, surrounded by friends and as healthy as he had been in a long time. But Hirsch woke up restless that morning.
"So I went for a walk," he says, "and I realized that I needed something else going on in my life outside of work. Work was great, but I was lacking a major goal."
This drove us nuts against UCF:
This drove us nuts against Colorado:
This shouldn’t be happening. To understand why we have to go back to the rules of football.
Ends and Backs
Football evolved from a rugby-like game, with forward passing added almost a generation later. The running sport and the passing sport never perfectly coalesced into one—even today there are offenses that treat their quarterback as a primary rusher or primarily a passer. You can also trace the problem of linemen blocking downfield on passing plays back to this awkward marriage of two games. So they had to make rules: You can block here but not there. The rule that matters to us is this guy is an eligible receiver and that guy isn’t.
[After THE JUMP: What’s a legal formation, why teams do this, and a jazzy snazzy video]
A look at the Turnley/Harbaugh book. In the NYT:
Keith Washington [David Turnley]
Mr. Turnley said he was granted unprecedented access to the team: He went into locker rooms, he was present at workouts, practices, drills, and he attended every game, including on the road, all so he could capture images unlike those expected of sports and football photography.
“I’m not standing on the sideline,” said Mr. Turnley, who did not use long lenses. “I’m literally in the scrimmages. I’ve been known to be in the huddles and to lay prone in the middle of a play, because I want you to understand and feel what that’s like to be in the midst of that struggle.”
During practice, I imagine? I don't remember a photographer laying down under Graham Glasgow last year. I think I would have picked up on that.
Injuries both ways. Harbaugh said he was "very hopeful" Jourdan Lewis would return this weekend. He did dress against Colorado, so he must have been available in some capacity if there was an emergency. Taco Charlton seems to be dropping hints that he's good to go this weekend as well:
Ya'll ready... pic.twitter.com/JQAtdIUrVi
— Taco Charlton (@TheSupremeTaco) September 19, 2016
Mone is expected to be out this week with a possible return either next week or the week after. Per Sam Webb, Drake Johnson is exploring the possibility of a sixth year, which necessarily implies we won't see him in 2015. Three weeks in that's a relatively clean bill of health.
Unfortunately for Penn State but encouragingly for people who can add two and two together about Joe Paterno and the kind of people who would honor him, the Nittany Lions cannot say the same thing. Starting linebackers Brandon Bell and Jason Cabinda missed the Temple game. Nyeem Wartman-White left the game with an apparent knee injury and was spotted in a large brace afterwards. PSU just announced he's done for the year, for the second consecutive year.
WR Saeed Blacknall, CB Grant Haley, and DE Evan Schwan also missed the Temple game; as per usual there's no timetable for any of these guys to return. The only guy certainly out is Wartman-White; I wouldn't be surprised if PSU only gets one or two guys back.
Saquon Barkley also left for a period of time, but… uh…
…he looks fine.
This seems to bode unwell for the opposition. Baumgardner on a couple of stats that stick out:
Worst third down vs. Best third down
Penn State's the worst third down team in the Big Ten -- again. After converting just 27 percent of their third downs in 2015, the Nittany Lions have converted -- wait for it -- 27 percent of their third downs so far in 2016. Penn State wants to play with tempo, but it has trouble staying on the field -- as the Nittany Lions are averaging just 4.4 plays per possession. And that's not because they're hitting big plays, as each possession is netting an average of about 26 yards per drive.
Meanwhile, Michigan's defensive is No. 1 nationally on third down. The Wolverines have allowed opponents to convert just 10.5 percent of their third down attempts (4 of 38). Opponents are facing an average of 3rd and 9 against Michigan so far this season, which is rather difficult time and time again.
PSU's OL is just as much of a mess as it was last year, so expect a lot of players in the opposition backfield.
Idiot, diagnose thyself. If you're not aware of David Jones, think Central Pennsylvania's Drew Sharp. He wrote some standard-issue newspaper yammer about Harbaugh. It boils down do "this is just, like, my opinion, man," but holy crap this is some noteworthy lack of self-awareness:
The Wolverines will not win the Big Ten title while Harbaugh is coaching at Michigan. I don't even think they'll win the division.
How can I be so sure? I can't. In a world where being noticed is trumped only by the blatant seeking of full-on notoriety, you can never count out a guy who does it as well as Sharkface.
Jones is a professional troll, and yet. Also that sentence is a disaster barely worthy of a college freshman cramming a ten-page paper the night before.
Jones's theory is that Harbaugh will make MSU and OSU work harder to defeat Michigan. Seriously. The man manages to cash checks, so you have to respect the hustle. Or lack thereof, in this case.
Scary space emperor moment. Zoltan Mesko on a thing that happened to him at the Senior Bowl:
“It was a windy day, raining, a tough day to control the football and I was having a bad day; ended up falling flat on my face literally and figuratively,” he recalled. “Javier Arenas, from Alabama, was the returner and I shanked the ball a little bit inside, a 35-yard punt into the wind, and he catches it on the run and takes off to my left.
“I have him to the sideline, but one of my teammates is in pursuit as well and pushes me in the back. As Arenas steps out of bounds, my arms go out by my side, and from five feet up my head hits the turf hard. I drag my helmet into the rubber for about 3-4 yards. I looked like a rag doll.”
Mesko said he blacked out for “about two seconds” and couldn’t feel temperature the rest of the game. He never reported the concussion, in part because he didn’t want it to affect his NFL chances, despite experiencing headaches that night and the next morning.
Momentarily blacking out and then returning to a world without temperature must have been terrifying, and Mesko kept his issue a secret because of the prevailing culture at the time. Reminder: Zoltan Mesko is a punter, who mainly enters a football field to do something opponents are prohibited by rule from hitting during. And yet.
Mesko, now retired, has a startup that's trying to mitigate head impacts:
What Mesko and Rizzo came up with is an impact reduction device they call the EXO1 (it is patent pending). Their project now has a team of six Harvard MBA, medical and law students working on it in the form of a company called Impact Labs.
Good luck to him.
Hockey recruits ranked. ISS offers up a top 30 of incoming college hockey players. Michigan lands four on the list: #6 Luke Martin(D), #19 Nick Pastujov(F), #25 Jack LaFontaine(G), and #29 Will Lockwood(F). That's good, and the best haul in the Big Ten, but rather pales next to BU's ridiculous class featuring three of the top four and two more further down the list.
John Heisman was not to be trifled with. Spencer Hall found this item that explains that Cumberland College score:
An honorary Harbaugh.
Here is an interesting technique bit from the official site. I'm as baffled by this as you are reading that bolded sentence. Nonetheless, Mike Zordich and some of his charges describe "slide" technique as opposed to traditional back-pedaling:
"It's a little bit easier in the slide technique," said Stribling. "You open up, and since you are going back into coverage at an angle, your (belt) buckle is to the ball, and so you see the whole play develop. It's a great technique, and if you go back to a back pedal, that's easier. But we don't back pedal any more.
"The advantages are that if somebody runs a go route, you're already opened up to the quarterback. If somebody breaks down for a curl, you're already open."
Adjustments to receiver routes can be made quicker if the technique is done right.
"You have to make sure your feet are right," said Stribling. "You have to make sure you are low to the ground and not too high."
That article features some detail on Lewis's injury issues as well:
"He probably worked a little too hard in the summer," said Zordich. "That was probably a little too much torque on his body. Some of the issues he's had in the last couple weeks might have come from that. He had a hell of a camp, but then his back started tightening up and affected his hamstring and quad. He's fighting through these things."
REMINDER A THING IS HAPPENING. I totally biffed this the first time by linking to last year's event. There is a Football Eve from Homesure this year:
First beer is on Matt, there will be a Q&A and… trivia? I think? We're asking people to RSVP because space is limited. Hit the link to do so.
Oh yes, this is going to get a lot of use. Via EDSBS:
The gif you now need in your life:
— Ace Anbender (@AceAnbender) August 25, 2016
For life. Harbaugh on his future plans:
Speaking in a taped interview with SiriusXM Radio on Wednesday, Harbaugh was asked by a host if he can "legitimately" see himself coaching at Michigan "forever" -- meaning does he think he'll be at Michigan 20-25 years down the road.
Harbaugh's answer came quickly.
"Yeah I think that way," Harbaugh said. "I think, God willing and the creek don't rise, that'll happen. I love coaching, I love football and I love the University of Michigan."
Never say never and all that.
Yes, lots and lots of talent. CBS's Dane Brugler provides an extensive breakdown of Michigan's NFL draft prospects, of which there are many. Unlike ESPN he picks up on Ryan Glasgow as a thing:
Glasgow bursts off the snap and finishes each rep with the same fire. He has the grip strength to stack and dispose of single blockers, using push-pull technique to regain his momentum and penetrate the pocket. Glasgow lowers his head and attacks like a battering ram, but often loses sight of the ball and takes himself out of plays. Although his motor is always running, he is more of a one-speed athlete and lacks the closing burst to finish some plays in the backfield. Glasgow would benefit from improved discipline, but his hustle, mentality and strength are why he is a valuable member of Michigan's defensive line rotation. And also why several scouts grade him as a top-10 senior at his position.
The tenth DT in the 2016 draft was off the board at the beginning of the third round, albeit with a bunch of juniors in those spots. That feels about right. Mike Martin was a third round pick as well.
The rest of that article is a preview of what I'm going to say about a bunch of Michigan players in the season preview, down to a Manningham-Chesson comparison and questions about De'Veon Smith's ability to see things:
Smith makes it a chore on defenders to finish him off as linebackers have to him cleanly and finish or he refuses to go down. His vision and run instincts tend to run hot/cold, leading to questionable decisions, and with his lack of explosive traits, Smith needs to be more decisive and trust what he sees. He tends to leave you wanting more due to his marginal burst and instincts, but there is a place at the next level for Smith due to his power, ball skills and upside as a blocker.
Brugler's higher on Erik Magnuson than I am and doesn't mention Darboh or anyone in the secondary other than Lewis—though the latter might be because there were so many people to get to ahead of those gents—in a report that is otherwise extensive and right on point with both strengths and weaknesses. Read the whole thing.
This Peppers thing isn't even slightly weird. Peppers as SAM is part of a trend that is sweeping football at all levels, including the NFL. The Ringer has a piece on the continued evolution of NFL linebackers into 220 pound safety types:
NFL coaches say the change in thinking about linebackers started five or six years ago. Spread offenses were dominating college football, and the task for defensive coaches at that level was to find linebackers who could cover and tackle in the space created by this new, wide-open approach. “We started looking for guys who played skill positions or safety, and those were guys we actually looked to see if we could turn into linebackers,” says Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher, who served as a graduate assistant at North Carolina from 2007 to 2009.
Michigan was not doing this; they were running Jake Ryan out as a SAM. They continued to suffer against spread teams; Don Brown is really the first guy in the history of Michigan football with any positive track record against spread rushing offenses.
The article above focuses on Deone Bucannon of the Cardinals, who's actually a more extreme manifestation of the tiny linebacker trend than Peppers since he plays on a team with Tyrann Mathieu—he's not a "star" or walkout linebacker or nickelback, Bucannon is actually a 210 pound inside linebacker. This is actually a situation where the NFL is more spread than college. Michigan is unlikely to follow suit with safety-sized ILBs because of the nature of their opposition. The NFL is a passing league; Ohio State is a running team.
PFF ABT. Pro Football Focus's All Big Ten team has a number of Michigan guys on it, as you might imagine:
- First team: Jehu Chesson, Maurice Hurst, Jabrill Peppers, Jourdan Lewis
- Second team: Jake Butt, Mason Cole, Erik Magnuson, Taco Charlton, Chris Wormley, Delano Hill
That's a lot of guys. PFF projects almost half of Michigan's starters as ABT players. We already knew that Hurst was a fave-rave of PFFs and that they like George Kittle of Iowa better than Butt because of his blocking ability. The most interesting item there is the inclusion of Delano Hill as a second team safety. That would be very nice if it came to pass.
PFF on JT Barrett. Barrett is the single-most important opposition player on Michigan's schedule, the last tentpole from the last couple years of Ohio State teams. He had a weird 2015, seeing his passing production dip radically. Which guy is it? PFF:
Intermediate and deep accuracy have been consistent issues for Barrett both seasons. On throws longer than 10 yards in the air in 2014, Barrett completed just 44 of 111 attempts, and in 2015, he was 20 of 45.
Barrett’s passes traveling 10+ yards in the air during 2014 season
Barrett’s passes traveling 10+ yards in the air during 2015 season
Keeping in mind the fact that he was throwing to the likes of Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall, Devin Smith, Braxton Miller, Jeff Heuerman, and Nick Vannett, all of them currently playing in the NFL, it’s difficult to expect his consistency to improve on deeper passes with newer, less experienced receivers and tight ends.
Barrett's not great against pressure, either, but OSU's system sometimes makes that hard to apply. He's an outstanding runner and there's always the chance of a leap forward, but he's a guy who has some limitations that Don Brown might be able to exploit.
Good luck with that. Per Pat Forde, the NCAA is expanding its Ole Miss probe:
NCAA Enforcement representatives have visited Auburn and Mississippi State, and perhaps at least one more SEC Western Division school, this summer to speak with players who were recruited by Ole Miss. The players were granted immunity from potential NCAA sanctions in exchange for truthful accounts of their recruitment, sources said.
If these guys are all telling the same story about 500 dollar handshakes on visits that could get really ugly for Ole Miss. They're already facing down a suite of Level 1 violations. I'm beginning to believe this could be an actual hammering, the first since USC that didn't involve… you know what at Penn State.
Hinton rates everything. Matt Hinton has done his usual preseason data-jam, evaluating every D-I school on their recent performance, crootin, experience, and projected competency. 17 categories go in the blender, and this is what comes out for the top 40:
Nebraska is relatively high; MSU relatively low. PSU, Iowa, and Wisconsin are all in the 8-4, 7-5 range. This will no doubt enrage highly enrageable Iowa fans.
Etc.: NLRB reverses an earlier decision that was relevant to the Northwestern unionization push. A reason to hate every Big Ten school. Just because someone else is getting paid to abuse our national namespace doesn't mean you have to participate. Herky The Hawkeye is too angry for one Iowa professor. Hank Aaron will honorarily captainize a game this fall.