This is a recruiting post, so I should start off by mentioning that top-ranked 2015 WDE Jashon Cornell told 247's Steve Wiltfong he plans to announce his decision on August 28th ($). I should also tell you that Cornell mentioned his strong relationships with coaches at Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, Northwestern, and Notre Dame, and that he's planning to swing by a few West Coast schools during the summer.
|The long-overdue return of Swag Mattison|
But really, all I want to do is blockquote the hell out of this:
“Coach Mattison is a really nice person,” Cornell said. “He’s not what you expect, I can say that. You expect that old guy who listens to country music. He put on hip hop in his office. He turned on his radio and the first thing that came out was hip hop.”
Mattison’s taste in music isn’t the only thing Cornell likes about Michigan.
“Largest stadium in America,” he said. “The Michigan alumni. This is Michigan.”
If you ever wanted to know why Mattison has the reputation of an elite recruiter, look at the picture on the right, imagine sitting in that guy's office while he flips the radio to Hot 97, and... yup, you just committed to Michigan in your daydream.
OFFSEASON INTERLUDE: TOP FIVE SONGS I'D MOST LIKE TO IMAGINE GREG MATTISON PLAYS IN HIS OFFICE
- Young Jeezy, "Soul Survivor"
- Dr. Dre, "What's The Difference?"
- Kanye West, "Drive Slow"
- Freddie Gibbs, "National Anthem"
- Three 6 Mafia, "Stay Fly"
#5 could easily be an x-way tie between every Three 6 Mafia/Juicy J song ever made.
[Hit THE JUMP for a potential commit watch, Michigan impressing a big-time visitor, an in-state back running a laser-timed 4.26 40, and more.]
left: Monumental's* iPad app. right: Swag Mattison. *yes the wallpaper guy.
Brian forwarded a mailbag question I hoped to answer with the UFR database:
I recently re-watched the 2011 vs. Nebraska game, which was quite a defensive performance on Michigan's part. Several times Mattison employed the always-entertaining Okie Package, often times with very good results (sack, QB hurry, etc.). Anecdotally it seemed like we used that a lot less in 2012, in spite of the fact that we still had no natural four-man pass rush. Any ideas as to why we went away from this? It seemed like easy money to generate a pass rush and potential for turnovers. If anything I would have thought we would have been more prepared to use exotic blitz packages as our guys were 1 year more advanced in Mattison's system. The only explanations I can think of are either we expected teams to be used to seeing it and adjust, or we did use it a lot last year and for some reason I didn't notice.
Was it Used Less?
For our purposes I also categorized "Nickel eff it" from the Notre Dame 2011 UFR (picture-paged) as an Okie, since it was clearly the forerunner to Mattison's particular way of using the package.
Yeah, Shafer's defense is in there; GERG ran an Okie just once in '09-'10. Unfortunately I don't have data from Ohio State and the bowl game for 2012 because when Michigan loses those somebody (not saying who) can't bring himself to UFR them. Anyway I don't see a difference in Okie deployment last year. The tables agree:
|Def Formation||2008||2009||2010||2011||2012||Mattison Avg|
|4-4, 5-3, Bear, etc.||2.1%||18.4%||9.8%||6.4%||13.0%||9.7%|
Big shifts: Mattison deployed the nickel less often last year and built even fronts into the defense. I thought the former was a result of fewer spread teams charted in 2012 but my data say Michigan faced MORE receivers in the formation (2.87 per play, 2.78 on 1st downs in 2012, versus 2.74 per play and 2.65 on 1st downs in 2011). The latter is an interesting wrinkle. Anyhoo the Okie he didn't seem to touch.
Since it's a situational package, we can see if it's being used less in those situations. By down:
The big difference seems to be 4th down but that's small sample: I charted 12 attempts on 4th down against Michigan in 2011, and 14 in 2012, so there were just two 4th down deployments: one against SDSU and one versus Ohio State. It's meant to be a surprise. What about by distance?
|| Total attempts||| % Okie Deployed|
So a little less often on 3rd and long.
Maybe it wasn't as effective last year minus Martin/RVB? Well I tracked its deployment on long situations (6 or more yards), and called it a "success" if it prevented the 1st down on 3rd or 4th down, or prevented 1/2 of the yards necessary to move the chains on 1st or 2nd down. Success?
|1st||100% (3/3)||83.3% (5/6)|
|2nd||83.3% (10/12)||100% (13/13)|
|3rd||96.7% (29/30)||100% (21/21)|
|All downs||93.5% (43/46)||97.5% (39/40)|
Success! Even with a tiny window for improvement, they found it.
ALL THE SWAG MATTISONS
Why Not Use it More?
The Okie package became a favored topic of discussion after it did mean things in the Illinois game:
Here's that play as drawn up on MonuMental's app, which is my new favorite toy:
Red=LB, green=DB, black=DL
Brian would come to call this "Okie one" for the number of safeties back in the formation. Michigan showed seven guys on the line of scrimmage but rushed just four. The right tackle and right guard were basically left alone while the rushers stunted around the guys on the left side and Illinois ended up blocking almost nobody.
Here a variation from 2012 used on 2nd and 12 on Minnesota's first drive:
Mattison senses this is an opportunity to kill the Gophers' opening drive. Here it's the 6th play of the drive and Michigan has already begun rotating the DL: the 5-tech is Heitzman, having come in for Roh on the 4th play of the drive, and Pipkins has just come in for Black. Michigan comes out in an Okie two, rushes five and drops to a Cover 2.
It turned out to be a run; Ryan managed to change course and hinder the RB in time for the Will (Desmond Morgan) to shut it down for a short gain, setting up a 3rd and 9. On the ensuing play Mattison dialed up another Okie:
Not 100% on the coverage. I think it's Cover 4 but the corners may be in man; Floyd is definitely giving his guy a tough release but Taylor is playing a Cov4. Crowd?
That's Avery (at nickel) playing back at the 1st down marker, and Thomas Gordon is also deep and went with that tight end when he motioned to the left side. Roh's back in for Heitzman and Black has come in for Washington (ALL THE pass rush!). In the diabolical world of Mattison's Okie package this is a Balrog with wings. Michigan lines up all over the tackles, and this time comes from the (offense's) left side. The two LBs on the weakside drop into short zones, as does the "nose" Black. Roh shoots past both the LG and LT to get into the center, and Morgan and Kovacs attack outside. The result:
Black seems to be in the wrong zone (he winds up all up in Demens's stuff), and that means the TE in the flat will be wide open on the sideline as soon as Taylor carries the X receiver's deep route:
That never happens; the QB has just enough time to see the slot's in-route has been disemboweled by Jake Ryan before the left side of his line not blocking anybody becomes his primary concern. The running back gets a delaying chip on Morgan and Kovacs gets a free shot and a forced fumble (which Minnesota recovered). You see there's weakness: Mattison's asking his nominal nose tackle to cover a deep zone when the receiver started 8 yards outside of him. But because the offensive line couldn't figure out who to block that never has time to develop. That's why the Okie is a changeup: the more Michigan uses it the more opposing coaches are going to prepare for it and the less valuable it can be as a situational ace in the hole.
One more from 2012. This is on 3rd and 8 from Michigan's 34 early in the 4th quarter and the Wolverines are down 9-16. Nebraska's kicker is Brett Maher, so every yard is a big deal for preventing the Huskers from going up by two scores.
Again, excuse me if I screwed up the coverage; here I'm guessing Gordon and Taylor were playing a read: they're both watching the inside receiver and break when he does. Nebraska's linemen mostly did their jobs here, though the guard (All-B1G Spencer Long) let himself get pushed really far backwards and that made room for Ryan to get into the center. Morgan took a few steps into a pass rush before backing into his zone but the RG and RT are not confused by this and do fine fending Heitzman off. The nickel blitz is unexpected but the left tackle did a good job adjusting and riding Avery behind the pocket. But for reasons passing understanding the tight end let Roh (playing WDE) past him and right into the RB. Ameer Abdullah can be little more than a piece of flotsam in the pile of mass about to descend on Martinez. It is beautiful.
You get a glimpse of Demens's coverage too as he got from the line to his zone in time to have pretty decent coverage on that slot receiver, not an easy thing. Anyway you can see how the Okie uses confusion to create a lot of places where things can go wrong for the offense, and if just one does you're out of FG range and punting in a one-score game. Of course the offense was Denardless that day and couldn't capitalize.
Still, as fun as these things are to watch you see each time Mattison was attacking from different angles and by the end of last year there were only one or two blocks the offense didn't pick up. If that diminishes to zero blocks, you give up six. Conclusion: the Okie was used just as often and incrementally more effectively last year as it was in 2011. However it's meant to be a changeup package; if opponents are sitting on it you'll get knocked out of the park. As something to pull out 7 percent of plays you're forcing opposing coaches to prepare for eight different attacks of which they're likely to see one or two, or giving yourself a situational out pitch when you're in a jam.
Ace: off. That is not a John Woo movie, but rather a state of things. Fearless Leader steps into the breach. I probably shouldn't call myself that.
Kiss the baby
For some reason, that's what MD WR commit Freddy Canteen wants to make defensive backs do. I don't know why, but I do know I've watched the footwork video another three times. Stupid mesmerizing footwork video.
Anyway, Canteen's team is continuing to tour camps and 7-on-7 events. Last week's event was a good one for baby-kissing coercion. Scout's Brian Dohn:
…like he did so many other times in the last few months, covering him at the 7-on-7 was virtually impossible.
Canteen used his speed and route-running technique to set up cornerbacks all day en route to Eastern Christian Academy (Elkton, Md.) winning the title. If he wasn’t catching 5-yard in routes, he was using his speed to blow past the cornerback and beat the safety for deep scores, and it should come as little surprise.
Tennessee was actually recruiting him as a corner; Scout's now listing him at 6'1", and Rivals says he's 6'2" and change now. His role in the offense:
“I did what I regularly do; route running, technique, speed, hands,” he said. “I’ve worked on everything. I think I got better everywhere. (Michigan) liked my route-running. With them having all the 6-4, 6-5 commits, I offer a different game. I can play the slot and I can play outside. I can return kicks.”
I was always fine with Canteen's addition to the class and each new report amps the enthusiasm. Could be a sleeper of the year… d'awww he's got four stars on Rivals. I think I have to relax that requirement: with four sites to track, dang near everyone who ends up at Michigan is going to look shiny in someone's eyes. Canteen might not even make the sleeper cut with relaxed requirements, though, as Dohn said Canteen has "a very good shot" to get a fourth star as soon as his team plays some, you know, games.
Minor downer: MD CB commit Brandon Watson "good, not great" in Dohn's eyes.
Merph: Tranquill Moving Towards Happy Trails
I was all about the possibility of adding IN LB Drue Tranquill after he had great performances at both SMSB and Michigan's camp, but it seems like Noah Furbush dropping has pushed Tranquill out of the class. Without an offer from M or ND, Tranquill looks to be taking his talents to West Lafayette:
While Tranquill doesn’t have his mind made up just yet, he is certainly leaning toward one school.
“I have a good idea [about the decision],” Tranqull said. “Obviously, Purdue has been my top school. Unless something jumps out, they’re the one to beat.”
I like S/LB hybrids who can play nickel or WLB, and don't see one in this class. Maybe Gedeon in the last, I guess?
It is possible that Michigan could come back later in the year and flip the kid. Sounds like the door isn't totally closed:
Notre Dame and Michigan were also in that top group to start the month, though neither has offered. Michigan picked up a linebacker commitment shortly after Tranquill camped with the Wolverines. Communication is still ongoing there, but the timetable for a potential offer has been pushed back.
If they end up with a spot late they could do worse. Yes, Purdue, we can drink your milkshake like that.
HANDPOCA—actually a rather small Hand item
— Tim Sullivan (@TimS_Wolverine) July 16, 2013
A Man Who Knows How To Travel
CA S JuJu Smith is a man with many traits to envy, like his nickname and ability to run and tackle a deer. But near the top of the list is his knack for scheduling official visits:
The 6-foot-1, 206-pound athlete had official visits scheduled to Michigan on Sept. 6 and Notre Dame on Oct. 18. Recently, he added to those with trips to Ohio State on Sept. 27 and Alabama on Nov. 8. He'll see the Wolverines host Notre Dame, the Irish host USC, the Buckeyes host Wisconsin and the Crimson Tide host LSU. Smith also will take an official visit to Mississippi, though he hasn't set a date for that trip at this point.
Dang son. UCLA and USC are also in the mix. Wisconsin is claimed to be, but the team that isn't local and doesn't get a visit is not actually in contention. Smith's all over the place with his quotes. This article has one that is unfriendly to M's chances, maybe:
"Everybody says it's the best league, and you get a chance to compete against the best of the best," Smith said. "Staying home is good too, but I feel like going out and competing against the best will make me a better player."
"It" is the SEC, of course. That does sound like a guy leaving the West Coast, at least.
Smith just lit up a 7 on 7 out west:
Smith turned in arguably his best performance this offseason. Early in the day against powerhouse Serra, the four-star standout caught two touchdown passes at receiver and picked off a pass playing safety. There are times when Smith gets lost in the shuffle, but he has the ability to dominate on both sides of the ball. He looked unstoppable at receiver and safety.
Michigan's hired a track coach. Why is this in a recruiting roundup? CA CB Adoree Jackson and his Olympic long-jump hopes. Let's check the new guy's bio:
During Clayton's 15 seasons at Auburn (1998-2013), the Tigers won the 2006 NCAA Women's Outdoor Track and Field championship. He helped Auburn to 18 top-10 finishes at the NCAA Track and Field Championships (indoor and outdoor), including 10 top-five finishes. Clayton personally coached 10 NCAA national champions, had his student-athletes earn 51 All-America honors and 34 SEC individual titles. He had 79 performers qualify for the NCAA Track and Field Championships.
Wait, what? Michigan hired Auburn's head track coach? Weird. So… the guy's established, has a lot of success, and married a long-jump All-American. If Michigan won't let Jackson run track as a freshman that's probably all for naught but it sounds like short of importing Baylor's program Michigan's done as well as they could with that hire, in both Jackson-acquisition and hey-this-guy-runs-the-track-program departments.
Not likely to matter in the end, though. FWIW, Jackson gave an interview to ESPN in which he says little except he's going all the way to Signing Day with his decision; he told Rivals his list has actually expanded by adding Oregon and Oklahoma.
2015 OH S Tyree Kinnel was reputed to be a guy who might drop for Michigan the instant he got an offer. An offer has not come yet, and he seems a bit frustrated:
"I’ve heard a little bit from Michigan since I camped there,” he said. “I know they want to follow me this fall. But I don’t know what is holding them back from offering me as they’ve told me they really want me with them.”
Kinnel's a little small for Michigan's tastes but camp observers thought he played very well.
Mayor this commissioner, water general
Sam Webb hits up uber-2015 WR George Campbell:
"Me and Tay grew up together ever since we were little kids, so we’re like brothers and we have a close bond,” Campbell said. “So it’s kind of a big impact what he chooses, but at the same time I have to do what’s best for me and choose my school for me."
Stupid Clemson. Campbell is planning on being at the BBQ, so there's that. He plans on waiting a while.
Soon-to-be-retracted Malik McDowell leader opinion
This one comes from his dad, so may have some staying power:
“In my opinion I believe [Michigan and Michigan State] are the front runners,” Greg McDowell, Malik’s father told 247Sports. “By us being here located in Michigan and him getting to those schools as much as he has, those are the ones heavy on his mind.
“He’s had the opportunity to go to both schools and everything they do to invite him out to games and practices, they’re top contenders and rank right up there. But he wants to visit other schools and get a feel for what they’re about and get a sense for the direction he wants to go.”
They're headed south to some SEC heavyweights in the fall, and they may provide some competition. It has long seemed like McDowell is just waiting around to commit to M, but Treadwell and etc etc etc. I'll eat my hat if he goes to State, though.
PA S Montae Nicholson has made an exciting cut to… twelve schools. Nevermind. Michigan is on said list. He's planning on taking all his officials. He did say he's "built really good relationships pretty much the entire staff up there."
Michigan to make 2015 FL RB Jacques Patrick's top ten. 2015 MI RB Mikey Weber will hit the BBQ. Michigan's sole 2015 QB offeree is CA QB Josh Rosen, and while he says he's willing to look outside of California if you read between the lines Michigan's going to have to offer some more dudes to find a QB. Bizarrely, his team went 8-5 last year with four forfeits.
NJ CB commit Jabrill Peppers is going after Hand and Leonard Fournette. Godspeed, Jabrill. Next time you talk to Borges make sure he brings up Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown in re:
"The best part is that [having Derrick Green around] would preserve him more because he's not gonna have to take on the whole load by himself. He'll get a blow and we won't lose productivity on the field. Getting those breaks will allow him to have a longer career than most running backs."
Though I'm sure Borges has already thought of that.