Tennessee is not recruiting well just because they got 18 dudes
|Taylor Lewan||Jr.*||Elliott Mealer||Sr.*||Ricky Barnum||Sr.*||Patrick Omameh||Sr.*||Michael Schofield||Jr.*|
|Erik Magnuson||Fr.||Joey Burzynski||So.*||Jack Miller||Fr.*||Kyle Kalis||Fr.||Ben Braden||Fr.|
This again. One year after Michigan's offensive line looked pretty shiny as long as you did not consider the cliff after guy #6, Michigan's offensive line looks really shiny… as long as you don't consider the cliff after guy #5. Or maybe guy #4. In a best case scenario, still guy #6.
Last year, Michigan had Michael Schofield to step into the lineup, and needed him to. This year any injury will see a walk-on or freshman—probably a true freshman—hit the field. Yipes.
But let's not think about that. As long as the starting five stays intact, the line should be quality. Taylor Lewan is projected as a first-round NFL draft pick, Patrick Omameh is in his fourth year as a starter, Michael Schofield started most of last year and moves to a more natural position, and the other two guys are redshirt seniors. Michigan should have a better line this year even without David Molk.
That first step's a doozy, though.
Rating: 5 of 5, not considering depth
Guralnick/Greilick, Detroit News
At this point, "Taylor Lewan is the next Jake Long" is not hope or hype or projection but just a (pretty much) true thing. Lewan may not go first overall in the NFL draft but he's already being projected in the top half of the first round next year, should he choose to depart.
After a promising but penalty-filled freshman year, Lewan cut out the holding calls and stoned opposing pass rushers, snap in, snap out. The primary reason ultra-hyped MSU DE Will Gholston started playing judo chop with various Lewan limbs was that he had no hope of impacting the game in any other fashion:
|AGILITY TO PULL|
|gets outside on p&p|
|another sprint counter|
|donkey some guy|
|nice seal on Worthy|
|stands up Binns|
|gets Toussaint edge|
|fails to cut on screen|
In a game where the Michigan OL was overwhelmed, blitz or not (Mark Huyge got 7 protection minuses), Lewan had a measly +1. Across twelve games of fending off the opposition's best pass rusher he racked up a total of four protection minuses. Two of those were for not cutting a guy on a screen; a third was not getting out on a corner on an attempted double pass. The fourth is somewhere in that video above, and I'm not even sure what that was. Even counting that there was literally one QB hurry going one-on-one with Lewan last year, to say nothing of actual sacks. There is a reason he is getting the NFL hype.
(Note that when blitzes cause confusion not localizable to one or two players that sends in free rushers I file that under "team." Lewan's no doubt responsible for some of those. When he identifies a guy to block, it's over.)
The black lining in our silver cloud was Lewan's lack of impact in the run game. He started off well, with three games around +10 in the UFR run chart and a 7-3-+4 against ND in limited opportunities—Michigan did jack before eviscerating Gary Gray in the fourth quarter. This was noted.
how often have you thought about Taylor Lewan this year? Not often, right? Mostly when he takes some donkey and punches it so hard in the nose shards of cartilage come out the back of its donkeyhelmet, right? (In a non-personal-foul acquiring way, of course.)
After that, he struggled to register on the run chart until late. His Big Ten season:
|5||MINN||5.5||6||-0.5||Yeah, surprised me too: had a couple busts and one bad whiff.|
|6||NW||4.5||2||2.5||Why so low, numbers? Discussion later.|
|7||MSU||6||5||1||Lucky to have both arms in his shoulder sockets.|
|8||PU||7||1||6||Would like to see him more involved somehow.|
|10||Illinois||8||5||3||Had some mistakes in space.|
|11||Nebraska||9||-||9||Finally some productive donkey hatred. Belly helps him produce; also got Toussaint the edge on a play that would have gone badly otherwise.|
|12||OSU||9.5||1||8||Effective against DTs, mostly, also getting to the second level.|
There's a certain amount of busting plays that is part and parcel of being an offensive lineman, especially one learning a new offense. That doesn't bother me. What does is the overall lack of positives until the tail end of the season. Heavily involved linemen will be putting up twice the positives and negatives as the above—Omameh had eight games where his positives were above ten and five where they were 13 or greater. Lewan didn't get there, and I think this was because of Omameh, ironically:
What is with those Lewan numbers?
The system doesn't try to judge blocks that are far away from the play and often declares an easy thing done okay to be a zero, so backside tackles and down-blocking guys a gap away from the play rarely register. Lewan rarely registered and this week's picture pages were examples of Schofield pulling, Schofield pulling, and Schofield pulling. Why is Michigan pulling the converted tackle backup and running away from their donkey-hating first round tackle?
The only conclusion that makes sense is they hate pulling Omameh. When they did pull left, they pulled Molk or Schofield and Molk, only rarely trying Omameh.
We'll talk about that when we get to the right guard, but Omameh came on in those last three games in which Lewan finally got some traction. Once they could pull the right guard, the left tackle got to express his donkey hatred.
With Omameh figuring it out and another year of experience for both, Michigan figures to be more left-handed on the ground; combine that with the pass blocking mentioned above and factor the injuries Lewan dragged around all year and the projections for his 2012 should be sky-high. He should be an All-American, or at least play like one.
[hit THE JUMP to find out about the other starters, but probably not the backups.]
Several weeks ago Brian sent me an e-mail to say we're going to have a fantasy draft of Big Ten players called "The Draft Where Whoever Picks Denard Wins," and that I was on the clock. (Parts II, III, and IV)
People of the Earth: this is how you recruit for a fantasy league. Actually this is how if you're a college sports site editor you motivate your hypercompetitive (Michigan grads, remember?) staff to become insane experts on the rest of the conference right before football season begins. For that reason, despite quarterbacks chosen out of position and so so much snark, right now we feel as competent as anyone at putting out one of those All-Such-and-Such list things.
The draft is still going on and some of the picks we've made have yet to be revealed, however we have tagged enough positions at this point to post an official-ish pre-season All Big Ten team. There's a few specialists I'll include but won't reveal who drafted them. I'll also follow up either next week or later on this week with a "what we learned about the Big Ten" post that breaks down all the picks by team. This one's about the best by position.
Site note: We're bringing back jumps again so we can fit more content on the front page for you during the season. You see the "Read more" thing below this? CLICK THAT to get to the good stuff.
PREVIOUSLY ON "MGOBLOG WRITERS DRAFT THEIR VERY OWN BIG TEN TEAMS WITH DISTRESSINGLY LOW NUMBERS OF MICHIGAN PLAYERS":
We find our HEROIC DRAFTERS in a SECRET SUBMARINE HEADQUARTERS UNDERNEATH THE NORTH ATLANTIC [ed-S: ...where iPhones can't get OSU eligibility updates]. Heiko is on the clock for the SECOND PICK of round THIRTEEN…
Follow along on Seth's spreadsheet here.
CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU), Craig Roh (DE, UM), Ryan Shazier (LB, OSU), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)
KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska
BRIEF EXPLANATION: At this point the field of competition has narrowed to exclude Brian's great Scheelhaase experiment, so I'm going to focus my attention on neutralizing Seth and Ace. To deal with Denard Robinson, I'm going to procure my own heat-seeking missile in the form of Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier, who you may remember notching a bazillion tackles toward the end of last season and is poised to break out in 2012. Sure, Denard had a field day in last year's edition of The Game, but that's because Borges was smart enough to use misdirection with Toussaint and option the crap out of Ohio State's linebackers.
Shazier still ended up with 8 tackles, several of which were touchdown preventing, and he did this on a bad knee. At 100% and a little more experience, Shazier could end up better than Nebraska's second-round draft pick Lavonte David.
SNERK: The key to this pick is that Seth does not get Fitz and I do not end up with Etienne Sabino. Check, and pending. On an unrelated note, but just to be clear: Two of your quarterbacks lost to Minnesota last year.
CURRENT O: Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Ricky Wagner (OL, UW), Keenan Davis (WR, IA), Travis Frederick (C, UW), Spencer Long (G, NEB)
CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW), William Gholston (DE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (LB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR), Ibraheim Campbell (S, NW)
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Long was an unknown, untested walk-on heading into 2011, but by the end of the season he'd earned enough respect to be named second-team all-conference by the media and honorable mention by the coaches. At 6'4", 305, Long lacks the ideal size for an NFL interior line prospect; the ground production of Rex Burkhead and Taylor Martinez, however, indicate the strength up front for the Huskers, and Long is widely considered their best lineman. With my offense clearly predicated around the running game, Long is a great fit.
SNARK: I'm sure Ryan Shazier won't open up any gaping lanes against these run-heavy attacks. Nope, not at all.
CURRENT O: Denard Robinson (QB, M), Rex Burkhead (RB, Neb), Kofi Hughes (WR, Ind), Jacob Pedersen (TE, Wis), Michael Schofield (OT, M), Graham Pocic (OL, Ill)
EXPLANATION: There are only a few best overall players left at any position and even fewer 5-stars left on my draft board, so to get two here is VALUE. That begins with Pedersen, who would be in an argument for best tight end in the conference with Stoneburner if Stoneburner was eligible. [ed: ????]
Since he's not, [EDIT: mea culpa] I get the position's lone star: 30 catches for 356 yards for 12 ypc, and eight (8!!!) touchdowns. And unlike Neb's Reed, Pedersen also happens to be a better blocker than receiver. If the knock on him is he's *only* 6'4, I urge you to check the sizes of your safeties and OLBs who won't be defending him up the seam (Cover 3 you say? BOOM Denard'd). Who says spreads can't have tight ends? Martell Webb was a secret reason M's 2010 offense was awesome, and I've got Webb who can catch plus a go-to option for when Denard and Rex get me to the red zone.
Pocic meanwhile makes every all-conference list and a few all-American mentions. I know why he fell this far: Go to the D vs Illini UFR last year and look at Martin and RVB's monster days. Much of that I put on the guards since Pocic was called on to release downfield while M's elite DL blew by the other guys, however he had more than his fair share of awful that day, including letting Will Campbell get under him and shove him back on a crucial short situation. This is because crazy-ass Zook put a fleet-footed, 6'7/310 dude at CENTER. Not I said the Seth. This senior leader is going at guard or tackle--NFL projections do the same--both of which he has played and either of which makes his length an asset while better utilizing his devastating downfield blocking skills and keeping him away from the low-leverage pluggers he can't swallow whole.
SNARK: Speaking of monster DL days, check out the following week when Martin et al. threw Nebraska's light-footed walk-on guard around like a ragdoll. Now picture that guy in Wisconsin's man-blocking scheme where his specialized abilities won't even help him. Now remember Ace just lost the tight end he was so sure the spread outfits (or Heiko's Fitz offense) would overlook and be kind because he's really just a nice guy having a bad day.
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Uh, Seth? Stoneburner, along with partner-in-crime Jack Mewhort, is practicing with Ohio State while waiting for his inevitable reinstatement. I was just waiting for the first tight end to go off the board and, oh, hey, here we are. At 6'5", 245, Stoneburner provides a big target and also has the size to be a solid run-blocker. He'll provide a critical red-zone option for Vandenberg, as seven of his 14 receptions last year went for touchdowns. He also has the versatility to split out wide, something he did a fair amount this spring, giving my offense greater flexibility. Stoneburner's numbers should only increase now that Ohio State's quarterback situation has worked itself out, and just imagine what his numbers would be like with a marksman like Vandenberg slinging him the rock. That's what I've got, and good luck stopping this team in the red zone.
SNARK: Might want to spend a little more time on that iPhone, Seth.
CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU), Craig Roh (DE, UM), Ryan Shazier (LB, OSU), Max Bullough (LB, MSU), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)
KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Heat-seeking missile: check. Large blunt object: I'll take Michigan State LB Max Bullough. In a conference that's pretty loaded with inside linebackery types, Bullough is probably the most talented. I like that he was second team All-B1G last season even without super-inflated stats (89 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 3.5 sacks), and I like that he isn't 5'11 and fat. Michigan State DC Pat Narduzzi recently called him the best linebacker he's ever coached, so if that means Bullough is better than former MSU All-American LB Greg Jones, that's fantastic.
Bullough's size -- 6'3, 252 lbs -- suggests that he could also play SAM should I choose to draft another middle linebacker so that I don't have to draft Etienne Sabino. He also reminds me a lot of David Molk, and I have a soft spot in my heart for people who remind me of NO I DON'T SPARTY SUCKS KORK COUPONS AHHH This draft is an excellent exercise in cognitive dissonance *twitch*.
SNURK: FYI, red zone offenses aren't much help if you can't even make it past the 50, but Ace should totally bolster his red zone offense with Zach Boren, on whom I will graciously give up my dibs.
CURRENT O: Nathan Scheelhaase (QB, ILL), Fitzgerald Toussaint (RB, M), LeVeon Bell (HB/FB, MSU), Jared Abbrederis (WR, UW), Taylor Lewan(LT, M), Chris McDonald (RG, MSU), Jack Mewhort (RT, OSU).
CURRENT D: John Simon (DE, OSU), Beau Allen (NT, UW), Akeem Spence (DT, Illinois), Jake Ryan (LB, M), Denicos Allen (LB, MSU), Terry Hawthorne (CB, ILL), Bradley Roby(CB, OSU)
BRIEF EXPLANATION: I need a nose tackle, and the biggest, nose-tackliest dude on the board who I'm not deathly afraid will get pancaked all year is Wisconsin's Allen, a 6'3", 330 pound tank who managed to record four sacks last year despite not starting and being 330 pounds. That was good for second-best on Wisconsin's defense. Then he crushed Wisconsin's OL in their spring game, racking up 3 TFLs and a sack while drawing approving noises from the Wisconsin DL coach. With Jordan Kohout ending his career due to recurring migraines and the graduation of meh senior Patrick Butrym, Allen's going to get a ton of playing time. As a rising true junior still turning fat into muscle, he's got major upside, and solid existing production. Can you say "Beaukout"? Probably not since that's not a word.
Then I'll take Roby, who started for OSU as a redshirt freshman and has reportedly run a 4.31. I give that five FAKES but they say he's the fastest kid on OSU's team and when I watched him last year he did impress with his raw speed. He'll need to develop to be an all-conference sort but that's what freshmen do. His coach is hyping him up as a future first-rounder, and he had three interceptions last year. He seemed clearly better than Travis Howard in my eyes and should extend that distance this year.
[NOTE: Seth and I are full at DT, so either Ace or Heiko filling up will trigger the must-draft rule, which we're extending to 3 rounds.]
SNARK: I thought about Shazier but trading AWESOME TFLs with 80 YARD RUNS THAT ARE TOTALLY YOUR FAULT didn't seem like a good deal. Also, I cant wait for Allen to hurl Seth's 6'7" interior linemen out of the very real stadium that will hold billions of screaming fans when our teams meet on the field of very, very real battle. FOOTBALL GAMES ARE WON WITH PAD LEVEL AAAAAH.
CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU), Baker Steinkuhler (DT, UNL), Craig Roh (DE, UM), Ryan Shazier (LB, OSU), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)
KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska
BRIEF EXPLANATION: I have no problem forcing Ace's hand, so I'm going to go ahead and slide Jordan Hill to nose and take Nebraska's Baker Steinkuhler as my 3-tech DT. Steinkuhler's a solid contributor on the defensive line, garnering All-Conference recognition in both the B1G and the B12 in consecutive seasons. His stats (40 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 sacks) belie his true ability as a penetrating defensive lineman—last year opposing teams could afford to focus on him after Jared Crick got injured.
GENUINELY HELPFUL ADVICE: Yo Ace, you should look into picking up Cameron Meredith before either Seth or Brian gets to him.
CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW), William Gholston (DE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (LB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR), Ibraheim Campbell (S, NW), Cameron Meredith (DE, NEB)
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Meredith is a versatile lineman; in addition to his normal WDE duties, he filled in at DT when Nebraska was hit hard by injuries last year, and he's also lined up at rush linebacker when they've gone to a 3-4 look. He's not going to be super-productive, though he did manage five sacks last year, but he'll hold up well against the run and—with 27 consecutive starts under his belt—he's got experience and durability in his favor.
SNARK: Wait, did I just take drafting advice from MGoMillen?
CURRENT O: Denard Robinson (QB, M), Rex Burkhead (RB, Neb), Kofi Hughes (WR, Ind), Kenny Bell (WR, Neb), Jacob Pedersen (TE, Wis), Michael Schofield (OT, M), Graham Pocic (OL, Ill), Ricky Barnum (OL, MICH)
EXPLANATION: So when I take huge, proven linemen you guys say your puny nose guards will get leverage on them, and when I take squat, proven linemen you say I'm a Michigan homer. What I am is a spread offensive line homer, and it just so happens that some of the best of them play for Michigan. With Barnum I have yet another super target of Rich Rod, another very fast and dependable combo blocker, and a guy who can play center or guard depending on who is available to me later on.
Kenny Bell gives me a be-dreaded complimentary receiver who's 6'1, speedy, and had a deceptively productive season: 32 catches for 461 yards and 3 TDs--all as a freshman with Heiko's starting running back as a passer. Project that to a Denardified offense where he's not a freshman and not the only eligible receiver worth covering, and you get a top 5-ish receiver by Big Ten 2012 standards. His usage increased as the season progressed to about 5 catches per game on 7 targets. The knock on him is dropsies, which Husker fans say comes from blocking 90% of the time. Good blocking also comes from blocking 90% of the time. Only Roundtree comes close as a comparable left on the board, but Bell's low side is basically last year's Roundtree and his upside is Manninghamish.
In a year when the conference is so receiver-poor that the far and away best option is a Roundtree-effect walk-on, and the other guys are hanging their hats on depth chart transfers and position switchers (ahem, "being closer to family members"), to get Kofi and Kenny is somewhat of a coup.
SNARK: Yes, Heiko, there is deep magic in Ryan Shazier. But if you read the deeper magic, the magic written in HTTVs of years past, you would know that you have drafted nothing but "Janus" Mouton II. You may have stopped one play in the backfield, but the next one is going 42 yards to paydirt!
CURRENT O: Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Ricky Wagner (LT, UW), Keenan Davis (WR, IA), Travis Frederick (C, UW), Spencer Long (RG, NEB), Jake Stoneburner (TE, OSU)
CURRENT D: Chris Borland (MLB, UW), William Gholston (SDE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (WLB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR), Ibraheim Campbell (SS, NW), Cameron Meredith (WDE, NEB), Michael Mauti (SLB, PSU)
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Now's the time to take some risks, and Mauti certainly qualifies; for the second time in three seasons, he's looking to bounce back from a season-ending ACL tear (the bright side, I guess, being that the knee he hurt last year wasn't the same one that underwent surgery in 2009). When healthy, however, Mauti is an aggressive, instinctual run-stuffer with NFL upside. As a part-time starter in 2010, Mauti tallied 67 tackles and 5.5 TFL, and in just three games last year he amassed 21 tackles, 3 TFL, 3 PBU, and an interception before going down against Eastern Michigan. At this point in the draft, he's worth the gamble; if playing at 100%, he's better than several of the LBs taken previously.
SNARK: Barnum over Ferentz or any of the more-qualified guards in the league? The iPhone fails Seth again, apparently.
CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU), Baker Steinkuhler (DT, UNL), Craig Roh (DE, UM), Max Bullough (LB, MSU), Kenny Demens (LB, UM), Ryan Shazier (LB, OSU), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)
KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska
BRIEF EXPLANATION: I needed a middle linebacker to thump your running backs and also to cover all your tight ends. Kenny is almost David Harris, and can cover. Good enough.
SNARK: 10 dollars says Seth is going to take James Ferentz and turn Barnum into a guard.
CURRENT O: Nathan Scheelhaase (QB, ILL), Fitzgerald Toussaint (RB, M), LeVeon Bell (HB/FB, MSU), Jared Abbrederis (WR, UW), MarQuies Gray (QB/WR, Minn), CJ Fieodorwicz (TE, Iowa), Taylor Lewan (LT, M), Chris McDonald (RG, MSU), Jack Mewhort (RT, OSU).
BRIEF EXPLANATION: You guys forgot about Gray. While guys with no catches were being snapped up by Heiko to fulfill the role of a rangy downfield threat basically absent in the Big Ten this year, the one QB who'd actually proven himself at wide receiver sat on the board, wondering if anyone remembered that Minnesota was in the Big Ten. Well, I did. I remember your existence, Minnesota, and I'll grab MarQuies Gray to be my Devin Gardner.
Gray was shifted to wide receiver his sophomore year because he was too much of an athlete for the Gophers to sit on the bench and caught 42 balls for 587 yards in just seven starts. Last year he was (usually) Minnesota's starting quarterback and while he was pretty terrible at that, he rushed for just under 1,000 yards, further proving his athletic bonafides. He'll give Scheelhaase another deep threat to exploit.
Then I'll beef up the BEEFCAKE with a 6'7" rising true junior who came on late for the Hawkeyes and has the level-headed Patrick Vint saying stuff like this:
Fiedorowicz was the jewel of the 2010 Iowa recruiting class, a four-star genetic freak of a tight end who played seven different positions in high school and was enough of a talent to draw offers from programs that don't even use tight ends. … Since then, he shrugged off a redshirt, blew people up on special teams as a true freshman, won the second-string tight end spot for his sophomore year, left the initial starter -- a four-year letterman -- in the dust, caught sixteen passes for 167 yards and a handful of touchdowns (including a touchdown in Iowa's bowl loss), and drew rave reviews from his new offensive coordinator. Not a bad two years.
The "Polish Hat"—no idea—is expected to be Iowa's most potent offensive weapon this year, and he's already exceeded Stoneburner's annual production. At around 270 pounds, he's also capable of contributing to the ground-and-pound being developed around these parts.
SNARK: See above in re: Stoneburner. Seth, you are such a Michigan OL homer.
Also, we are Michigan fans. We have known the Kovacs, and therefore we cannot talk poorly about awesome players who happen to be former walk-ons, lest the Kovacs disapprove. Abbrederis forever.
CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU), Baker
Steinkuhler (DT, UNL), Craig Roh (DE, UM), Max Bullough (LB, MSU), Kenny Demens (LB, UM), Ryan Shazier (LB, OSU), J.T. Floyd (CB, UM), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)
KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Michigan's J.T. Floyd is perhaps a little underrated due to lingering PTSD from his 2010 performance. But as Seth pointed out a while ago, Floyd allowed 1 TD all last season against opposing teams' No. 1 wide receivers. Given that those No. 1 wide receivers were a lot better than whatever you guys can muster, I think I am my team is going to be all right. Also, as a bigger boundary corner, he can come up in run support should you choose to run the ball 90% of the time, which you all would probably be wise to do.
SNARK: I thought about drafting Gray, but I didn't want someone who was 6-18 over the past two years. Also, now that you have a quarterback who's better than Scheelhaase, what're you going to do with Scheelhaase?
PICK: Will Campbell, defensive tackle, Michigan
CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW), William Gholston (DE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (LB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR), Ibraheim Campbell (S, NW), Will Campbell (DT, MICH)
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Wait for it...
CURRENT O: Denard Robinson (QB, M), Rex Burkhead (RB, Neb), Jeremy Gallon (Slot, M), Kofi Hughes (WR, Ind), Kenny Bell (WR, Neb), Jacob Pedersen (TE, Wis), Michael Schofield (OT, M), Graham Pocic (OL, Ill), Ricky Barnum (OG, MICH), James Ferentz (C, Iowa)
EXPLANATION: It's all part of the plan, Ace. Barnum was always meant for guard and I didn't trust certain other Michigan homers to leave me the best spread guard left on the board. The platonic ideal for my offense's center is David Molk. Since David Molk can't be on a Big Ten roster anymore (did nobody think to try to get him a 6th year for all the injuries? Just sayin--other schools have gotten it for less time missed and it would matter), my anchor will have to be the guy known as "not quite David Molk." Ferentz is not quite as big or strong as Molk. He can execute not quite as many reach blocks as Molk. He's almost as much of a team leader, appears on nearly as many preseason best-of lists, and is slightly less favored in those lists than Molk was to win them. My new not-quite Rimington has been the No. 1 center on my board since the start, but I would have been fine with Schmeig or Vitable--easy late round picks--is why I waited this long. Ferentz allows me to play Barnum at guard where he's better suited and gives me an interior line I'd put against any of your DT combos.
Gallon: Brian can keep his two-back sets. Heiko can have his Fritz-tri-QB-wildcat-diamond abomination or whatever it is he's planning. And Ace can keep on wearing down Google until it agrees to answer "Who's the Big Ten's best fullback???". For my extra back-like object, since I don't have to worry about Burkhead tiring, like, ever, I'm taking a slot receiver. Gallon is everything a slot should be: a jitterbug with trustworthy hands and jetpack speed who can make a defense pay if they try to cheat (...their slot coverage into the box) on Denard. As a bonus he inherited Odoms's mountain goat blocking. As a double-bonus he has perfected Roundtree's 2009-'10 cloaking device that allows him to get acres of open downfield. As a triple-bonus Gallon has shown he can overcome some of his 5'8 size disadvantage with well-timed leaps and positioning on less athletic cornerbacks, making him a surprisingly effective third-down and red zone comeback option. In Borges's West Coasty Spread and Denard a Lot grab-bag of an offense last year Gallon put up nearly identical numbers to Kenny Bell and featured in the most game-swingingly play (late v ND) of the season. He is the perfect fit for this offense, which makes sense because like the rest of the Wolverines on Team Seth, he was recruited for it.
He'll also be my punt returner. Gallon is no Abbrederis but was solidly 3rd in the Big Ten last year in per-return yardage (MSU's departed Keshawn Martin was 2nd), averaging a solid 10.11 yards per attempt. GALLON U HOLD ONTO THE DAMN BALL!
SNARK: Abbrederis could have dreadlocks and look like Snoop from the Wire-- he still wouldn't repeat last year's output catching Scheelhaase passes instead of Russell Wilson passes, and opposite a guy who would rather be a Minnesota Gopher than play receiver instead of Nick Toon. Also since you knocked my quicksilver o-line: are you running a spread with those ponderous plodders or are you secretly putting together the pieces to recreate the 2007 DeBord offense with Scheelhaase at QB instead of Henne?
CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW), William Gholston (DE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (LB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR), Ibraheim Campbell (S, NW), Will Campbell (DT, MICH), Ondre Pipkins (NT, MICH)
BRIEF EXPLANATION: So, I just drafted two of Michigan's defensive tackles; one of them doesn't even start and is a true freshman, the other is a senior with all of 3.5 career TFL. Is this insane? Probably. Allow me to explain myself. The options available at defensive tackle were limited, with the best available options probably Purdue's Bruce Gaston and Indiana's Larry Black and Adam Replogle. Those three are among the best players on their respective defenses. The problem, of course, is that those respective defenses are terrible. Despite the presence of Kawaan Short, Purdue allowed over 200 yards rushing per game on 4.7 yards per carry last year in Big Ten play; both figures placed them 10th in the conference. The Hoosiers somehow managed to be far, far worse, ceding 271(!) yards per game on 5.7(!!) yards per carry.
Michigan's figures of 116 yards and 3.7 yards per carry, on the other hand, were good for first and third in the B1G, respectively. Yes, it was with a completely different set of defensive tackles—not to mention far more talent surrounding those tackles—but the standard for quality play is at an entirely different level in Ann Arbor than it is in Bloomington or West Lafayette. If Will Campbell had decided to transfer to Purdue after the 2010 season, I have a hunch he'd be starting next to Short. If Ondre Pipkins shocked the world and chose Indiana out of high school, he'd play from day one and probably have his jersey retired before he ever played a game.
Plus, while Black (6'2", 294) and Replogle (6'3", 294) are a decent-sized pairing, Campbell (6'5", 308) and Pipkins (6'3", 340) obstruct all of the sidewalks and probably most of the running backs, too. I'm not so much concerned about production as I am building a wall of beef; with Campbell and Pipkins both in the best shape of their lives, that beef can even move a little. Is the floor of Campbell/Pipkins lower than that of Black/Replogle? Certainly. Are their ceilings even remotely comparable? Absolutely not.
Okay, I was also due an unabashed homer pick. Snark away, gents.
CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QB/RB, UNL), Patrick Omameh (OG, UM), Kyle Prater (WR, NW), Devin Gardner (QB/WR, UM), DeAnthony Arnett (WR, MSU)
CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU), Baker Steinkuhler (DT, UNL), Craig Roh (DE, UM), Max Bullough (LB, MSU), Kenny Demens (LB, UM), Ryan Shazier (LB, OSU), J.T. Floyd (CB, UM), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)
KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Omameh is huge and loves pancaking All-American linebackers into first-round draft pick safeties. He makes the magic happen.
SNARK: None needed. Ace snarked himself.
CURRENT O: Nathan Scheelhaase (QB, ILL), Fitzgerald Toussaint (RB, M), LeVeon Bell (HB/FB, MSU), Jared Abbrederis (WR, UW), MarQuies Gray (QB/WR, Minn), CJ Fieodorwicz (TE, Iowa), Taylor Lewan(LT, M), Chris McDonald (RG, MSU), Jack Mewhort (RT, OSU).
CURRENT D: John Simon (DE, OSU), Beau Allen (NT, UW), Akeem Spence (DT, ILL), Jake Ryan (LB, M), Denicos Allen (LB, MSU), Terry Hawthorne (CB, ILL), Bradley Roby(CB, OSU), Blake Countess (CB, M), Daimion Stafford(SS, UNL)
BRIEF EXPLANATION: I'll continue the homer train but unlike a number of the Wolverines flying off the board now that we've seemingly picked all the foreign players we've heard about, Blake Countess actually deserves to be picked after a freshman year in which he emerged into a starter at field corner for Mattison and company, performing well. A universal four star, he enters year two poised to blow up in the mold of previous Michigan cornerbacks like Woodson, Hall, and Jackson. JT Floyd was better last year, but Countess will be better this year. What's that about eight-foot-ceilings now, Heiko?
I was also going to grab Omameh before he got snatched, since he is a three-year starter entering his senior year; with him gone I'll latch onto Daimion Stafford, a JUCO transfer who stepped right into Nebraska's starting lineup last year and finished third on the team in tackles; he also picked up 10 PBUs. He was no Kovacs in terms of reliability, but he was sort of a freshman and he brings the wood. 247 named him the #6 JUCO last year, he had an offer from USC. Nebraska folks feel he developed as a cover guy, and he should get significantly better with a full offseason to prepare—Stafford was a show-up-in-fall-and-start guy. And he's named "Daimion." QED.
SNARK: Ask Shazier about how power blocking schemes can mesh with a spread just fine, Seth. Inverted veer for the win. Hope everyone's getting familiar with the secondaries of Northwestern and Indiana to fill out their corner slots.
NEXT TIME ON DRAFTOSNARK: we finish this dang thing. Most of us are now conversant on the secondaries of Northwestern and Indiana. Heiko drafts Kain Colter to do something, probably.
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.
You know the drill. Video via MGoVideo. Had to repackage the sound because the RAWK music got matched on Youtube.
Play 1: Fitz bursts off right tackle and picks up 8-10 before Raymon Taylor grabs him. Fitz then pushes Taylor five or so yards before the cavalry rallies. No idea what happened on the line but you can see Hopkins get a nice sealing block as Fitz hits the hole.
Raymon Taylor should probably not tackle high if a guy as slight as Fitz is going to bull him back.
Play 2: Inside zone (probably) to Justice Hayes is eaten up by Antonio Poole (#40) and an active Will Campbell. Looks like Poole was unblocked for whatever reason.
Play 3: Inside zone to Fitz. Blitzing Morgan is kicked past the play by Barnum; Fitz takes a stutter step to let that get past him and then flows up behind Barnum. Roh comes in from the right side of the frame to tackle near the LOS. Looks like a stunt blitz specifically designed to get this to happen. Mattison cackles in his laboratory.
Play 4: Joined in progress. Denard WOOPs around the backfield and slings a dart to… I think it's Miller but can't quite make out the number. Moore would be a bigger guy, though.
Play 5: Inside zone run with H-back (Miller) flaring weakside that we've seen for years now. Roh(+1) drives his man—probably Schofield—way down the line and Fitz decides to cut behind that mess. Bolden(+1) is there to clean up on the cutback at the LOS with help from Ryan. Miller's block on Ryan… eh… not so good.
Play 6: Play action from a zone read look; Roh smokes Omameh and gets pressure up the middle. Ryan and Bolden are coming free as well, so Denard can't do much except go down. Washington is in on this play.
Play 7: Gardner makes a read, doesn't like it, and takes off. Kaleb Ringer can't quite get off a block fast enough to bring Gardner down. Then Gardner jukes Mike Jones to the outside and picks up 15-20. Marvin Robinson runs him out.
Play 8: Rawls gets a belly handoff from Gardner and goes straight north and south, cutting to the backside of the line and running through an ankle tackle from Campbell and an arm tackle from Cam Gordon without slowing at all. Marvin Robinson fills pretty well. Best clip of Rawls we've seen. If he can shrug tackles off like that he's got a role.
Play 9: Rawls gets an iso from the I. He has to cut away from his lead blocker—something that has been very frequent when these clips show isos—and gets chopped down by Campbell.
Play 10: Zone read PA into a slant to Gallon; Countess is in Woodsonesque coverage and breaks it up. Cover +2.
Play 11: Inside zone to Fitz, who roars through a crease into the endzone from about 40. Someone blew that gap. No idea who without a wider view.
This does not end well for Jordan Paskorz
Play 12: Gardner hits Paskorz on a rollout; Paskorz double-catches the ball and gets crushed by Robinson.
Play 13: Gardner hits Jackson on a deep comeback in front of... I don't know. Lots of time to survey; this was his second read.
Play 14: Vincent Smith finds an inside zone gap and takes it into the endzone. The nose got crushed and allowed an easy combo block on Bolden, but I don't think it was Campbell since the guy looks white. Thomas Gordon could have done a better job filling near the LOS to hold it down.
Play 15: Russell Bellomy flings an out to Mike Kwiatkowski. Ball takes a long time to get there. Kwiatkowski then jukes Al Backey, which will no doubt be used to razz Backey forever and ever in film session.
Play 16: Denard hands off to Rawls on an under center stretch(?). Odd. Rawls finds a crease as Barnum, who's flowed well down the line, latches on to and eliminates Bolden. Gyarmati gets enough of a block on Morgan to get Rawls the edge and a nice gain.
Play 17: Hopkins FB dive from under center. Good push by Jack Miller on Ash and Hopkins makes a few extra yards by breaking tackles.
Play 18: Denard lofts a screen to Smith, who gets 8 or 10 before Jarrod Wilson comes in to tackle.
Play 19: Gardner waggle finds Joe Kerridge wide open for a touchdown.
Play 20: Short yardage Vincent Smith iso is… a touchdown? I don't want to talk about this. Bolden got rocked by Gyarmati, probably because he didn't read the play quick enough. That contact is not happening near the LOS and that's all she wrote.
Play 21: What looks like it might be an inverted veer by Bellomy ends abruptly when Cam Gordon roars in to sack.
Play 22: Smith iso w/ Bellomy in is swallowed by Campbell and Ash. Second team OL kind of got owned there.
Play 23: Denard surveys, comes off a first read, and zings it to Dileo for a touchdown in front of Avery. 10-15 yard slant.
Play 24: Rawls iso. Burzynski gets a good block on Morgan and Unidentified FB deals with Probably Bolden, no linebacker level. Kovacs is hovering around the LOS and makes contact to slow Rawls; Thomas Gordon finishes the play with a solid thump. Five or six.
Play 25: Kennedy hands off to Justice Hayes on a power with Mealer pulling. Hayes manages to dash through a small hole, run through an ankle tackle from Probably Safety, keep his feet, juke Wilson, and carry a pursuing Brandin Hawthorne into the endzone. Impressive.
Play 26: Wrinkle. Michigan runs the zone with pulling H-back thing; Denard pulls, probably on a called play. Miller hits a hole backside instead of flaring out and the net effect is a QB iso that looks like a zone read keeper. Miller blocks an unprepared Bolden and Denard glides into the endzone.
Takeaways? Barnum can move. In each one of these Michigan picks up a big gain because Barnum shows excellent agility and an ability to seal a guy on the move. Here it's a stretch play; other times it was a pull. I think we're going to be just fine at center.
Fitz is Fitz; in this one Hayes and Rawls showed a bit more than they have in previous editions of these tapes. The Rawls run right north-south was Minor-esque. The featured Hayes run was Fitz-esque.
Also both quarterbacks will be 100% accurate this year and there will be no turnovers.
Elsewhere: takes from Maize and Blue Nation.
Items of admittedly flimsy substance:
Lots of Rawls. Thomas Rawls is the tailback in most of these sets; Hayes does not appear and Toussaint only gets buried on a flare screen. Rawls mostly gets buried himself. Maybe he's just an excellent vehicle via which to express defensive competence.
Morgan is all over the place. He goes sideline to sideline to thump Rawls on one moderately successful run and generally looks like Michigan's best linebacker. Again, it's one thing to go sideline to sideline against Rawls and another on Toussaint or Smith. Morgan still brings the wood.
Line bits. You can see Chris Bryant acting as the RG on a play where Miller is snapping to Gardner: second unit. Hypothesis: Michigan thinks Mealer can really hack it all of a sudden and is placing the usual pressure on Omameh's job. Either that or they're just getting Bryant some snaps at both guard spots so he's comfortable at either one in case of an injury. There has been a little buzz about Graham Glasgow, the second-team left guard, as well—unrelated to a tandem bike, even.
Also, your second string NT is currently Richard Ash. Not much of a surprise, sure.
Edge defenders. On the play where Gardner escapes Frank Clark pressure to bomb a pass to Jeremy Jackson in the back of the endzone it's the second team OTs—walk-ons—getting smoked. The player coming in from the bottom is redshirt freshman Antonio Poole, which strikes me as odd. He's presumed to be playing WLB, so if he's coming at the left tackle he's either engaged on a seriously long journey from blitz to the quarterback or he's practicing at MLB. (Or SLB, I guess, but I doubt it.)
Adding to the oddness of that play: it really looks like the guy trying to recover on Jackson is #35… Joe Bolden. I am confused about that defense.
Slant. Dime? Denard throws a slant to Gallon immediately in front of Terrence Talbott, who's on the field with Kovacs, Avery, and Countess. People have been talking Talbott up in the recent insidery posts across the web, and that is first-team run he's getting. Michigan seems to have enough depth at corner to consider some dime packages in third and long.
BUBBLE?!?! IS THIS A BUBBLE SCREEN TO DILEO?
AL BORGES IS CAPTURED AND HIDDEN SOMEWHERE IN THE MOUNTAINS OF AFGHANISTAN. WE LAUNCH OUR RESCUE AT 0600 SATURDAY.
Black appearance. Looks like Morgan and Black blow up the next play, one of those spring counters Michigan busted out against Minnesota for an unknown reason. Omameh gets beat, which I'd look at as a good sign since we know Omameh is a pretty good Big Ten player, one who has more trouble with strength than quickness. Black's being talked up as a quick penetrator.
Vincent Smith iso from the I. Zero yards. #sameasever. We get a glimpse of Cam Gordon rotating in with the ones on this play, which is good to see after he vanished last year. Smith does dance into the endzone a couple plays later on a power from the gun with #99 blocking—yeah, Michigan's rotating in a fullback wearing 99 now. Meet Paul Gyarmati.
On that play the second team is in. Poole gets on the wrong side of a pulling Barnum, which prevents Bolden from making a tackle. Then a safety I can't identify whiffs as he tries to fill. Bryant doesn't actually end up blocking anyone. Bolden's reaction time was impressive there: if Poole knows what he's doing that's going to be a thump for Bolden at or near the LOS.
Mmmm Denard. Next play is a QB power on which Barnum pulls. The TV always tells me that's a rare thing that can be of great utility to an offense. Barnum gets well downfield and crushes Morgan to the inside, opening up a lane Denard hits for six. Not Morgan's fault. I wish we'd see Demens doing some of the stuff Morgan is in these clips.
…and Morgan gets beat easily on the next play for a Vincent Smith dumpoff TD.
BONUS TAKE: From Maize 'n' Blue Nation.