there would have to be some to wash away
- Brennen Beyer and Derrick Green have boo boos. They sound minor and are expected back as early as Saturday.
- Allen Gant's move to SAM has been confirmed.
- MGoLeadingQuestion reveals that Devin Gardner loves the pistol formation and that they are running read options out of it still.
"Day four, shoulder pads and helmets for the second day. Full pads tomorrow. Not doing any tackling or anything like that, but a lot of good competition. Hasn't changed much. Guys are competing, learning the system a little more, especially when you've got some guys who have only been here a year, so they're going through that process. Things happen fast, so they have to adjust. When you have to adjust on both sides, tracking the line of scrimmage as an offensive lineman, we have to do a better job of. Defensively, we have to make sure we're putting ourselves in position to feed the defense and leverage the defense. It's pretty easy against barrels when you do that, but when you start doing it with live bodies, we have to do a better job of that and not give up any big plays. I think all the guys are competing very well. It's really been physical. We'll be in full pads tomorrow. The first doubles on Saturday will be good for us."
<More after the jump>
"Is that salmon?"
"Canteloupe? We use that as an audible color. How you guys doing?"
"It's been a while. Can't tell you how much I've missed you. You guys kind of sensed a hint of sarcasm, didn't you? Heiko! I made you a hero. Unbelievable."
Thoughts on Devin's maturity?
"Yeah, he's doing a nice job. When you know that you've done it so long -- he's always been a pretty confident kid anyway, but now that he has a chance to kind of be the guy, I think he's taken the next step."
What's it like having two experienced tackles?
"Yeah, you know, when Taylor said he was coming back, that was a great, great day for Michigan and for our offense because breaking in a new left tackle is never fun. I don't care what level it is. But Mike Schofield, who doesn't get talked about as much but is really a good athlete. He can move. He was a hurdler in high school. He's got a lot of talent. Mike's played a lot. He's played guard, he's played tackle. I think he's kind of fit into a comfort zone a little bit with tackle, not to where he's complacent, but he's comfortable in the position now. He kind of had to relearn the position a little bit. He's been in the offense. He's been pretty consistent the first couple days and in the spring."
<Falsehoods galore after the jump>
Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton,DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OL Logan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson, TE Jake Butt, TE Khalid Hill, HB Wyatt Shallman, WR Da'Mario Jones, WR Csont'e York, WR Jaron Dukes, RB Derrick Green.
My editor ate DeVeon Smith, so this is out of order. No need for panic.
|Warren, MI – 6'3, 200|
|Scout||5*, #40 overall
#3 QB, #1 MI
|Rivals||4*, #81 overall
#4 pro-style QB, #2 MI
|ESPN||4*, #127 overall
#8 pocket passer, #3 MI
|24/7||4*, #81 overall
#4 pro-style QB, #2 MI
|Other Suitors||Alabama, MSU, Syracuse|
|YMRMFSPA||Shorter, nicer Ryan Mallett or A Better Son/Daughter: Quarterback Edition|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post is like over two years ago. Ace scouts De La Salle against Pioneer. Presented without comment. Ace interviews him.|
|Notes||Under Armour AA.|
Single game highlights from Stephen Nesbitt in Morris's senior opener:
Morris is kind of the reason these posts exist. When he committed over two years ago he hadn't been rated by any recruiting service, and while Ace has diligently tracked his progress in post after post (MGoBlog has 14 pages of posts tagged "shane morris"), nowhere do we have a unified dossier of what kind of player he might be. This endeavors to be it.
When not acting as Michigan's de facto recruiting coordinator or posing for ridiculous student ID photos, Morris moonlights as a tall left-handed QB with a monster arm and accuracy issues. These issues were compounded by a senior-year bout of mono that caused him to miss a large portion of his senior year. His junior year was unimpressive statistically on a poor De La Salle team, reputedly because he got no protection and no one on his team could catch.
So his lofty rankings were a result of camp after camp, as Morris seemingly took in every 7-on-7 on offer with the travelling MaxEx team you may be familiar with as the summer home of Dennis Norfleet, Csont'e York, and Khalid Hill. A scouting sampler from those outings:
247 at the Ohio E11 regional camp: "Morris is at seemingly every event he can get to, eager to prove himself. On Friday he did just. He can put loads of velocity on the ball without digging deep, he showed great accuracy throughout the day and he has a smooth and natural composure in the pocket."
Scout at IMG/Madden: "He is the prototypical gunslinger. He has a quick delivery and a strong arm. He doesn't need to set his feet to generate velocity on his throws and can whip the ball from several arm angles. Like most gunslingers, Morris isn't afraid to take chances with the ball. Most of the time that works to his advantage, but at times he takes unnecessary chances throwing into traffic."
Rivals at an NLA event in Pittsburgh when it was really coming down: "Morris continued to throw darts despite the slick conditions. He was not throwing 100 miles per hour on every pass as he will do in camp settings, but he would let one rip if he needed to fit it into a tight window. For most of the day he varied his speed and trajectory appropriately and threw a number of great passes."
247 at SMSB: "Morris dropped jaws with his impeccable footwork and ultra-quick release. Morris is so smooth and sound in his mechanics and can effortlessly fire the ball down field with just a quick flick of his wrist. Morris has also bulked up to over 200 pounds of solid muscle."
Rivals at SMSB: "clearly stood out as the top player at his position. The Rivals100 prospect is really in control of his game right now, and his passes are coming out of his hand beautifully with velocity and accuracy. He was told by Michigan quarterbacks coach Al Borges, who was working the event, to throttle it back some on day one, but overall Morris varied his speeds well during the event."
Ace: "The first thing that stands out about Morris is his arm strength—the ball explodes out of his hand with seemingly little effort. When he's on, it's a sight to behold. The problem—and ultimately why he dropped in the rankings—is that he's yet to show consistency; he still needs work reading defenses and relies too heavily on his arm strength to fit the ball into windows that sometimes aren't there."
In literally every superlatives article I have come across, Morris is the guy designated "Strongest Arm" or "Howitzer" or "Hosiest Hose For Hosing" or "Most Likely To Bomb Berlin With Only His Arm," usually with an accompanying note stating "this was an easy choice." Sometimes they tell you that he can throw harder than everybody ever, like this eval from the Elite 11:
There shouldn't be much question of who has the strongest arm any more. Including the college players acting as counselors, the strongest arm at the Elite 11 Finals belongs to Morris. When push comes to shove, Morris has a laser-like focus on the left side of the field. That's a habit he'll need to outgrow.
This is the upside. Morris has a huge arm and a ton of great tools for a quarterback. ESPN's evaluation loves every part of him save one, which we'll get to later. I'll skip the stuff about the arm strength and just note the QB stuff:
He possesses terrific feet, pocket movement, awareness and can buy time with good overall athleticism for the position. … He works through progressions nicely, can check down and work from the first option to the next. … He rarely takes his eyes down within the pocket and scans the field under pressure and will plant and throw in face of the rush. He side-steps and resets with balance and is ready to get the ball out even under duress…. He shows a consistent and quick stroke over-the-top, which is tough to find with lefties, and can beat the rush with his release consistently. He shows good ability changing ball speeds and displays touch and timing on fade and corner routes. That may be best trait Morris possesses.
Well, the downside is that most evaluations come with a caution about consistency. ESPN flat-out states that Morris's completion percentage is "nowhere near where it should be given his tools and this is an area in need of significant improvement." Scout's eval is another example:
Scout.com Player Evaluation:
Arm Strength / Pocket Awareness / Poise and Leadership
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Accuracy / Consistency / Decision-making
A better than advertised athlete who does a good job of escaping the rush and can make plays with his feet and throw on the run. … Downfield passes do not hang up and he has great placement on his deep balls. Great leader with a lot of intangibles. Sometimes trusts his arm and throws into traffic. - Allen Trieu
Morris had an up-and-down day, but when he hit his stride he made some incredible throws. He regularly displayed his ability to go vertical and make the big throw down the field. He also made some excellent throws underneath and into tight windows. He has a cannon for an arm and showed the ability to thread the needle at times. He battled some inconsistency and his accuracy was on and off, but still had numerous flashes of why he was so sought after.
Morris is a bit of a slow starter. A lot of evaluations say "started rough, but then warmed up," whether it's on day two of an event or just later in a competition day.
He had a stronger, more consistent day on Sunday than he did on Saturday. He has great arm strength and throws a tight spiral to all levels. He showed the ability to utilize touch and lay balls over the defense in the middle of the field. It was evident that Morris was missing some upper-tier wide receivers at the event as he was let down at times by the inability of his receivers to win well-placed balls.
…That tendency can be seen in that Pioneer game above: Morris tosses an ugly interception on his first throw of the season, misses a few guys, has another couple passes broken up, and then heats up even though his receivers generally do their best impression of Michigan State 2012.
Morris's evident upside was enough for the sites to rank him highly out of the gate, and after he was excellent at the Opening—which came right on the heels of the 7 on 7 just mentioned in which he had a he had a poor first day before leading his team to the Championship Game—he was proclaimed a five star by most sites. Then he went to the Elite 11.
On the Elite Eleven. The once-prestigious quarterback camp has descended into reality-TV farce. Now crammed full with 25 prospects—most local camps will have half of that and give a large number of reps to the few true D-I prospects—the competition consists of around eight throws per day, frustrating scouts in attendance:
With trips to the beach for a Navy-Seal style bootcamp workout at 4 A.M. and chalk talk sessions behind closed doors, the final television product for ESPN should look spectacular when it airs in early August, but the on-field action was limited. … Ranking players off of 30 throws at a shorts and t-shirt event after having seen these players for over a year is for entertainment purposes only. Don't expect players to jump up in down in the actual Scout rankings after 30 throws.
You can see the inconsistency in the rankings: Scout named Morris the #1 guy there ("capable of making throws that only a few in his class can hope to match"), Rivals said he was #4 ("at the top because of his high ceiling"), as did 247 ("could at times approach the college counselors in terms of driving the ball down the field"), but the camp coaches left him off the "Elite 11" list that is the only semblance of the old camp.
I don't care. Both Scout and Rivals ranked all 25 QBs, placing the #1 and #2 "Elite 11" guys in their bottom five. One of those guys ended up at Fresno State and had one other offer from Mississippi State; the other is headed to Nebraska to be Taylor Martinez 2.0. People call him "Johnny Tebow" because he is a horse who can't throw. Those rankings are so intentionally bad that they may as well not exist. End Dilferrant.
Wait, more Dilferrant! AND we're talking about eight throws a day for a guy who clearly takes a little time to get in a rhythm anyway.
Anyway. Camp season wound down, Morris had a pretty damn good opening game against Pioneer. Ace:
The rough start for Morris stemmed from a combination of rushing his throws and trying to force the action too much…. throws either led receivers right into big hits or were overly ambitious tosses into small windows. …
Then Morris started to roll, reminding everyone why he was so highly touted in the first place. He showed improved touch on short and intermediate routes, as well as the ability to make an accurate throw across his body (see 3:10 mark above). He also toned down the happy feet; at 4:06, he steps up and makes an impressive throw while facing heavy pressure.
A big criticism of Morris last year focused on his often laser-like focus on the left side of the field; he'd stare down his top read and often force it there even if covered. While the pass fell incomplete, you can see the strides he's made in that regard at the 4:33 mark, as he looks off the coverage to the right, then moves on to his second read down the left sideline. That's a big advancement from last year and proof that Morris is picking up a lot from his myriad camp appearances.
And then he slowly unraveled with mono. When he came back it was not under ideal conditions. Tim Sullivan:
There was only one bad throw by Morris on which he was not being buried under pressure - the second interception. He unleashed the arm strength on that one, hoping velocity would make up for throwing it into coverage. On other throws, he was either crushed by a defensive lineman, a pass was straight-up dropped, or it was close enough that there's nothing to worry about.
He warmed up a little after those events, but by the an already-shaky De La Salle team had lost all hope of the playoffs and the season just kind of sputtered out.
Recruiting sites generally held Morris steady through his mono, but when he showed at the UA game his extremely erratic throwing (he was two of ten in the game) forced large moves down on most sites. Rivals mentioned he "did not look like himself" early. In 247's final update, Morris dropped from #19 to #81:
[Morris] continues to struggle with the accuracy aspect of being a passer, and this was especially evident the week of the Under Armour All-America game. With that being said, Morris still has plenty of potential and will likely start making gains in the accuracy department as he works to get more compact in his motion.
Morris took a similar plunge on Rivals for similar reasons:
It was a tough week for the five-star quarterback who never found his rhythm. Morris is coming off an upper respiratory illness that caused him to miss most of his senior season. His rust showed during practice and during the game. … No one can discount his arm strength, but he needs to become more consistent on his progressions and taking what the defense gives him.
ESPN had already started the process of moving Morris down when he got sick and went farther than any other site by the end of the year, likely influenced by the Elite 11 guys.
Given Morris's tendency to start slow, this is not a surprise, nor will it be when you hear practice reports saying he's struggling early. Morris needs time to get revved up, and time to fix the mechanical regression he experienced due to his mono layoff. If Michigan has to turn to him this year, only bad things will happen; given a year or two—please be two—he has the potential to be anything he wants to be other than Denard Robinson.
Why Shorter, Nicer Ryan Mallett? Mallett was the hosingest hoser of them all as a five star out of Texas, but immediately alienated the entire team and Lloyd Carr in his single year at Michigan. After his transfer to Arkansas he displayed his talent for fitting balls into windows so tight they barely existed, throwing NFL lasers off his back foot, wearing backwards baseball caps, throwing arrogant interceptions, and occasionally lasering a five-yard pass into an incompletion. The end result was very Mallett: his completion percentage rose from 43% to 56% to 65% over three years in college and his YPA hit nearly 10 as a senior.
Morris is basically the same guy without the attitude and three inches of height. His challenges will be the same: throwing accurately, taking heat off the ball when he has to, and not thinking "I can make it!" when he patently cannot, at least not too often.
Why A Better Son/Daughter, Quarterback Edition? Sometimes when you're on, man.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. All the camps, but limited high school data and the great mono question about whether everyone is overreacting to a bad UA game that may be easily explainable.
Variance: High. Limited high school success and time, consistent questions about consistency, and that drop mean Morris has a high bust factor. On the other hand…
Ceiling: High. Guy could obviously be a top-level NFL prospect.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-plus. I believe Morris will round into a good player, but it's easy to see him being a pretty frustrating starter who whips in too many amazing interceptions. Variance is large. Borges's QB coaching skills will be under the spotlight here.
Projection: Redshirt all but impossible given the depth chart and the nonzero (even if slim) chance Gardner is out the door after one year as the starter. Will be the #2 this year, hopefully given over to backup duty only.
If Gardner goes, he's pretty much the starter by default with only Bellomy and a true freshman Wilton Speight for competition. If Gardner stays, Speight will be on a much more level playing field and that competition will have some doubt in it, plus there is a strong likelihood Michigan brings in a hotshot 2015 guy who would like to play Henne in a three-way artillery piece battle.
- Dennis Norfleet is now a slot receiver. God bless the broken road.
- Fitz Toussaint, Chris Wormley, and Blake Countess are full go.
- Jake Ryan spends most of practice running with trainers; no contact yet.
- Freshman participation will be spotty until next Tuesday due to classes.
- Most of this week will be limited contact (helmets and shoulder pads). First practice in full pads is on Friday.
- Channing Stribling and Jourdan Lewis are among the candidates for punt/kick returner.
- Fitz says that he will be the starting tailback for the season opener.
I call this the "cameraphone" filter. Is Instagram even cool anymore? Was it ever cool?
“Ahem. Excuse me. I don’t have a real good voice, and it’s only day one. But it’s good. It’s great. It’s great to be out there, it’s great to be with the kids again. I like the competitiveness, the energy, which is something you would think they would have starting fall camp. Hopefully we can continue that consistently all throughout fall camp. I thought we moved around real well. There was great competition on both sides of the ball. I think we’ve learned how to practice with no pads on in a manner that’s physical. It was a good day, good start. We’ve got a long way to go, as we all know.
“One position change was we took Dennis Norfleet and he’s playing receiver now for us in the slot position, which opens up some things for him when he gets the ball in his hands. He’s got a lot to learn still from a formation standpoint and routes and option routes and all that. I think it’s going to be a good position switch for him and us.”
Can you talk about how Blake Countess and Fitz Toussaint looked?
“They looked great, and you’ll get a chance to talk with both of them, but they both did everything that we’re doing. They both looked good running around, speed and cutting ability and all that stuff.”
How important was it to see both of those guys today in camp?
“Well, I think it was a great start. The one thing we’ll be wary of is the grind of camp and two-a-days and all those things. We’ll be conscious about are we getting them tired, are they starting to favor one leg or another, all those kinds of things. But it was good to see them out there. Their teammates like it when they’re both out on the field.”
What were you looking for today?
“I think some of the things about the difference in some of the bodies. Willie Henry and Taylor [Lewan] we’ve talked about, but a guy like Blake Bars and [Kyle] Kalis and Quinton Washington – the big guys and how much better they look, how much stronger they are. The body fat ratio and all that. It was good to get the freshmen and watch them a little bit. They’re the ones who are still in classes for another six days, seven days, so it’s hard to get them there full time, but we got a little bit at the end with those guys, so it was good to see them.”
Did you notice the seniors coaching up the freshmen?
“Yeah, and that’s one thing we tried to do since day one. Your seniors have got to do a tremendous job. We coaches can’t see everything. We can coach a guy, and when we do that, maybe they get tired of hearing our voice, so when it comes from somebody else, and somebody else who has that experience, I think it really helps our coaching ability, and it also helps those kids.”
Was practice fast?
“Yeah I liked the tempo, I liked the structure of it. I like how we went from drill to drill and how the offense broke the huddle and approached the line of scrimmage and defensively how the kids got on the field and off the field.”
How was Shane Morris?
“You know, he took snaps obviously. Had some good throws and then had some throws maybe you’d like to have a better decision. But he’s everything we thought he can be.”
“Derrick had a couple runs in there. Some of those get here late because of class, but he had really good vision on a power play and did a nice job.”
When do you get those guys full time?
“No. A week.”
Did you have Jake Ryan do anything other than watch?
“He runs with the trainers. I mean, he runs and he does some of our walk-through stuff. He’s acted like a really good coach when we’re doing some of the other stuff, but he’s running a lot with the trainers as they go through the rehab.”
How did Chris Wormley’s recovery go, and what are your expectations?
“Well, we have high expectations for Chris. He’s a great looking kid. I think he’s about 48 or 49 weeks from surgery, so it’s almost a year. At the end of spring he was doing everything. I think we’ve got a lot of great competition, and he’s part of that competition.”
How do Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson look at receiver?
“I thought they both looked pretty good. You have [Drew] Dileo and [Jeremy] Gallon and those two, and Jeremy Jackson and Joe Reynolds, but they both had a good day. No one’s perfect by any means; we weren’t perfect coaching, and we have to make sure we’re doing that, but I like the two lengthy, rangy wide receivers. They both run very well.”
Do you sense hunger from Cam Gordon?
“I would say that he’s really, since a year and a half ago, he’s really done a great job when you look at how he’s prepared himself, how he listens, how he pays attention to everything that’s going on. His leadership has been really good. His physicalness and his strength and what he looks like is a lot different than a year ago. He’s competitive and I think he’s done a really good job. Does he feel more pressure because Jake’s out? I don’t think so because he’s just such a competitive guy.”
Do you look back at the run of injuries last year and question whether it was something you did or whether it was just a freak thing?
“I think it’s kind of a freak thing. I think we hit as much and maybe more the year before, and we went all the way to the Sugar Bowl before we got anybody dinged up. I don’t think so, and I know how much Aaron [Wellman] does with the different preventative things that you do, which I’m not an expert on, so don’t ask me what those are. He’s always done a great job with it. Some years you have it and some years you don’t.”
Will Devin Gardner be hands off for all of camp?
“Yeah. And we pretty much have done that with quarterbacks since we’ve been here. Every once in a while you’ll get a guy get a little overanxious as a defensive player or he gets his hands up and the quarterback follows through or he’ll knock an offensive lineman back and the quarterback follows through, so we’ll try and be as cautious as we can with all of them.”
Does it help that he has the experience of getting hit, so he knows the physical side of it?
“And I think a year ago, playing receiver a little bit, that helped. He had to go down and block, take on safeties and linebackers and all those things, so that helps a little bit.”
Will you give Shane and Brian Cleary more snaps?
“Well, Shane’s got to continue to prove it and so does Brian, obviously, but we’ve got to give Devin the amount of snaps that he needs, and at the same time we’ve got to see who the second guy’s going to be, make sure we’re doing a great job evaluating and make sure we’re doing a great job getting them the snaps that can be evaluated.”
Has Devin picked up where he left off?
“Yeah I think so. It’s hard after one day, though. I’m just excited that we took the field and how they came out. They went through meetings all day yesterday on administrative things, and really came in this morning and got the football part of it. [I liked] how they came out in walkthroughs this morning and how they came out in practice this afternoon.”
When do you put pads on?
“I think Wednesday we’re shoulder pads and helmets. Thursday shoulder pads and helmets. Friday will be full pads.”
Keith Heitzman played as a redshirt freshman. How much will that experience help?
“Anytime you have experience, I think that helps, even if it’s not in-game playing experience, but he does have some of that now. I think that helps. But at the same time those younger guys that redshirted, I think it will be really good competition.”
How will you determine the center battle?
“Well Darryl [Funk] will do a nice job. He’s always done a nice job with how he puts together snaps for those guys in practice. He’ll have every snap counted. He’ll have every drill where it’s a fair assessment for both guys, depending on which quarterback you’re with, what guard you’re with, all those things. It’s a great competition. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch and let them fight it out.”
MGoQuestion: At the end of spring, you had Delonte Hollowell and Courtney Avery take snaps with the first team and Raymon Taylor with the second team. Did that reflect the depth chart, and will that carry over into this fall?
“Well, I think the depth chart’s even more stacked now. Ross Douglas came in the spring, so he’s got some good work. I think [Channing] Stribling and Jourdan Lewis, those guys – you look in that room with coach Mallory and those first year guys, it’s a pretty interesting room. The competition will definitely be hot and heavy at the corner position. Having Blake back is something that’s good for us, good for our football team, but they all will do a great job of competing.”
We talked about targeting in Chicago. Will you go over which plays that will now be illegal?
“Yeah in fact we’ll see the NCAA officials, they make a DVD. It’s probably on flash or whatever it is you do on a computer. But it will be watched tonight, talked about tonight. We talked about it last night. Championship teams don’t hurt themselves with dumb penalties or dumb decisions. So we have to be cognizant of all of them.”
Do you sense that Blake and Fitz are comfortable? IS there any hesitancy?
“No I think they feel great. I haven’t seen any, and haven’t since the end of spring. I know how hard both of them worked to put themselves in position to be able to play.”
You seem to be a little thin at safety. Are any of your veteran corners practicing at safety at all?
“No. You know, there’s enough safeties in there, too. Dymonte [Thomas] plays nickel, but we’re playing him more at safety, which is more of a true position for him. I think our depth at both of those positions is pretty strong.”
Are you going to be able to try out any freshman in the return game?
“Well, we’ll work all the other fundamentals, and we’ll work the fundamentals with them. Usually we start practice with specialists. We end practice in one segment with specialists because they’re all here on Mondays, Wednesdays. They’ll all be here.”
Who are you looking at for returner?
“Well, Jourdan Lewis is a guy. Stribling’s a guy who’s had work at it. From a receiver perspective, Jehu and Darboh are guys that have done it before, and I know they’re not in that same class. We’re kind of working six guys on the team with punt returns and some of those guys are kickoff return guys.”
- "I will be the starting running back on August 31."
- Felt he was at 80-85% in spring. Now at 100%.
- Got tackled by the previously-broken leg and felt fine.
- Reputedly beat Gardner in agility drills.
- Still has sweet dance moves.
- Doesn't really anticipate a whole lot of new stuff from Greg Mattison with regard to the corner position, but "we'll see."
- Is playing at both "left" and "right" corner. So no real distinction between field and boundary at this point.
- Teammates have said that he looks "better than before the injury."
- Carries around a milk jug full of ... water. Drinks a gallon and a half a day apparently.
- Doesn't care that players from other teams say that Michigan's run-blocking was kind of crappy last year. Says it's a new offensive line, and it's unacceptable for them to be bad at any aspect of line play.
It came and went with one piece of news—Antonio Poole's departure—and a lot of mean questions for Urban Meyer. Brady Hoke said Brady Hoke things, like eight wins is "unacceptable" and anything other than winning the Big Ten is "failure." The usual.
The interesting thing
Gordon needs to be the new Kovacs
In there you've got Kovacs confirmation:
"[Jordan Kovacs] is a guy that on film doesn't look that special, not compared to some of the guys out there, but ask our coaches and there was no one they respected more. Our defensive coordinator said he could play for our team any day because he's just so smart, such a great leader, and he plays mistake-free football. Sure enough we play them and you just can't get anything past him. He doesn't go for ball-fakes, doesn't buy play-action, and every time you look downfield, he's there, just waiting for it."
Unfortunately, that's immediately followed by a statement that Thomas Gordon may be a better athlete but was "very average" and that it was all about Kovacs.
On Frank Clark:
"We saw some film of him from early in the season and then some stuff from the last few games, and he was a different player. When we saw him, he was motivated. He played pissed off, and he was really a force."
Come on, hype, be true. I don't know who that could be, since I don't remember Clark having a major impact in any game save Ohio State, and that impact was not exactly a block-shedding spectacular:
On the offensive side of the ball, here is something you probably already know but it's good to get it confirmed:
"The thing that really stood out to us was how bad their guards were at pulling. Half the time the running back would be the first guy to the hole and we had a linebacker waiting there. They're supposed to be paving the way but they were so sloppy and so out of position even when they were out ahead you could simply sidestep them or outmuscle them because they had lost their leverage."
Sad face. Michigan needs to improve drastically there, and probably well. In other news, Funchess is delicately called a finesse player and marveled at as a "freak". And yeah, we were weirded out by this Gallon thing too:
"I don't know how tall [Jeremy Gallon] is but that kid can really sky. We were watching film after a game we lost and our coaches were really hard on one of our guys because he lost a jump ball to Gallon, but then the next week he did it again, and then the next week again. That guy is little but he can play."
Offensive line: set-ish
oblig "Ben Braden is preposterously large" picture via Tim Sullivan
The other thing emerging from the roundtables is that the battle to start at guard has been basically resolved—it's Braden along with Kalis.
Hoke confirmed Thursday that physical redshirt freshmen Ben Braden and Kyle Kalis have separated themselves at left and right guard, respectively. That development was anticipated.
"I don't know if you ever feel great until you get through a season with new guys, but I like the work ethic of Kalis and Braden and those two guys from a genetics standpoint, for what we're looking for in an offensive lineman," the coach said during the second day of Big Ten media days at the Chicago Hilton.
Graham Glasgow is now pushing Jack Miller at center:
At center, Lewan was quick to insist people shouldn't write off walk-on Graham Glasgow. "He's 6-6 and nasty. He does whatever you ask him to do. If it's the end of a long practice and they want us back out there, he's the first one."
Take what you will from this:
"(Morris) came to campus a little bit earlier than some of the guys," Hoke said during a breakout session during Big Ten media days at the Chicago Hilton. "From what I know, he's had a good summer to this point. I think he's done a nice job learning. I think Devin's done a nice job with him. I think (fellow QB candidate) Brian Cleary's done a nice job with him.
"He'll be in good shape coming into fall camp."
Hopefully he won't be needed to do anything more than mop up.
Can't be going to the bars with doctor pig
the internet has a hit for "gary busey pig." go internet
Lewan on Darrell Funk, who looks way too much like Gary Busey to be so relentlessly controlled:
"He has never told a joke in his entire life. The man has never told a joke, ever, but he is so funny. He's hilarious. He's so dry - he'll walk into a meeting and say, 'OK guys, couple of things - can't be going to the bars, guys. Can't be doing that. You like going to the bars, Bosch? Can't be doing that.' It's like, What? His delivery cracks me up."
Where do you find a pig? Craigslist, of course. The linemen pooled their money and spent $250 for a teacup pig. As for the robust name?
"I don't know," he said. "I just wanted my pig to have a Ph.D."
So say we all.
Lingo explained, mysteries solved
do not whip the baby
Tyler Sellhorn offers some insight into weird football terms we've been marveling over in this space lately. On "kiss the baby":
Taking the ball to the end zone or shall we say the "house" or shall we say the proverbial "crib" or shall we say the place where you "kiss the baby."
You, defensive back, you are in the crib, and you must kiss the baby.
On "buggy whip:"
Old school scouting/coach term for a live arm from a thinner QB, ie Marino and Leftwich have Horse strength in their arms, Namath and Dixon have buggy whips.
I've had this question about redshirts in general for a while and it's currently very applicable to the Shane Morris situation. Is there anything in the NCAA rules stopping Michigan from attempting to redshirt him, but suiting him up for each game and just burning his redshirt if Gardner gets hurt mid-game and can't play? I certainly recognize the strategic pitfalls of this, the main one being that if Gardner got hurt late in the season suddenly we're throwing a guy who has never played a down under center in a critical spot. So while this certainly doesn't sound like a realistic idea, is it possible? Or is it completely irrelevant considering Michigan wouldn't do it anyway?
That is entirely feasible. The only requirement for a redshirt is that the kid did not play at all that year, so Michigan could have Morris as the defacto #2 QB and still get a redshirt on him by inserting walk-ons if the only time Gardner is off the field is garbage time.
As you note, realistically this isn't happening. Michigan has a gangly scrambly guy at quarterback and nothing behind him. Gardner could also blow up into a major NFL prospect. If he leaves, you'd want Morris as seasoned as possible. I don't think that's at all likely—the NFL has caught on to the fact that experience is incredibly important for QBs and would probably want him to get a second year under his belt before taking a chance on him—but you can't rule it out.
Morris might get a redshirt next year when Bellomy should be back, but those sorts of post-freshman redshirts are extremely rare for a lot of reasons.
Even if Morris doesn't end up redshirting, Michigan should be in good hands when he graduates. If Morris is gone in four, the depth chart after his departure reads: Wilton Speight, redshirt junior, 2015 QB, redshirt sophomore, Messiah DeWeaver*, redshirt freshman. These days that's plenty of experience.
*[Official MGoBlog policy is to assume DeWeaver will be the 2016 QB until such time as it is obvious he won't be, because of Muad'dib jokes.]
UNKILLABLE FRED JACKSONS
all of these men are the best running back in history
To whom who actually answers the MGoBlog mailbox,
I don't know if this qualifies for a mailbag question or can be easily answered, but here we go.
To your knowledge, has there been another coach who has survived as many coaching changes as Fred Jackson? It's really quite amazing if you stop and think about him making it through three head coaches at the same university. I am completely unaware of another coordinator or position coach that has done the same. Maybe I'm wrong and this isn't as uncommon as I think it is. Your input would be greatly appreciated.
I have no idea, but I figure the best way to get an answer is to throw it out there and see if anyone can think of another coach who survived two regime changes at the same school. I can only think of one guy off the top of my head: Jeff Casteel, who stayed at West Virginia when Rodriguez left for Michigan and remained the DC when Dana Holgorsen became WVU's head coach.
Casteel's setup provides some broad outlines for coordinators who fit this pattern:
- established coach at successful program who stays when head coach leaves
- weak replacement for HC
- quick turnover
- second new HC is heavily involved in other side of the ball
That's a lot of hoops to jump through, especially because Successful In-House Coordinator is often a prime head coaching candidate at the school.
Position coaches I have no idea about. They seem much more fungible than coordinators, bring a lot of their value in recruiting, and move all over in search of better opportunities. Fred Jackson has got to be a very rare position-coach lifer. Best other bets would be Ferentzes or guys like Pat Fitzgerald. Nepotism and local herodom seem like the only things that could get you through the churning waters of coaching turnover.
Hivemind: anyone have other examples of coaches who have survived multiple coaching changes?
Student seating procedures
Received an email from a guy with the stadium staff who would prefer to remain anonymous about how the new general-admission student section is going to work:
We have made a decision to move to General Admission for our student ticketing and seating process, which in turn led us to make the following changes:
All students must enter Michigan Stadium through GATE 10. Only those with student tickets (accompanied by a valid student ID), including those with validated student tickets, will be allowed entry through Gate 10. Those with general public tickets will not be allowed through this gate.
Gate 10 will now open 3 hours prior to kickoff - 1 hour before the rest of the general public gates.
Students will move from a queuing area to a series of chutes at Gate 10 at 4 hours prior to kickoff. They will select the section they want to sit in at this time and will receive a section reserved wristband or ticket upon entering the stadium.
(Emphasis mine.) Enjoy your chutes, human cattle.
Mo Williams, back in the day.
A reader passes along that Mo Williams, recently referenced in the Kyle Bosch recruiting profile, was indeed a big timer:
Reading your bit on Bosch I remembered I save a bunch of info from recruiting back in the day (1990-2004). You mentioned you weren't sure how hyped he was. Here are my notes. Answer: Very:
Maurice Williams, OL/DL, Detroit, MI. 6'6", 275 lbs, 4.9 40. Williams
is the top player in the state of Michigan and is one of the top line prospects in the nation on either side of the ball; he is one of the top 100 overall prospects in the nation. He is an excellent student with a 3.5 GPA. Could play either OL or DL at Michigan, depending upon his preference and the needs of the team.
Lemming ranked Williams the state's top player and No. 2 in the Midwest. He
was a first-team All-State selection and ranked No. 1 on The Detroit News' Blue Chip list. He could play on the offensive or defensive line in college.
Rated #47 overall in composite National 100.
Detroit Free Press Best of the Midwest (BMW) #2.
Also considered Michigan State, Ohio State and Florida State, and Washington.
This was back in the Lemming days, before easily-accessed databases of these things existed.