Read an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend (link). The age old story about how a Defense spent the summer getting to optimal weight / power / speed, and wound up loosing the former, and becoming more effective. In this case LSU in preparation for Oregon.
So we had Barwis, who seemed to be on the path of tear out the bad weight and build them up , and stories of our linemen adding weight each season. And then we had all the complaints about undersized line, compounded by a 3-3-5 front. Throw in Wisconsin's loss to TCU, and how our guys have been consuming salmon like no one's business, and ... worry beads:
1) Will we wind up too heavy?
2) Do we have to be too heavy to win the Big Ten, positioning us poorly in subsequent bowl games against speedier opponents?
Yesterday we took a look at the potential recruits for Michigan's offensive line, so far. The other side of this equation is the defensive line. With the large hole that was left by Brandon Graham, Michigan brought in some good potential replacements in Jibreel Black, and Terry Talbott for 2010. They have also already added DE Brennen Beyer to the 2011 class.
WIth Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen going into their junior years, adding players in this class will be essential for the future success of the defensive front. Here's a look at who Michigan is targeting right now.
6'3", 275 lbs.
Cooper is a tackle prospect that originally wasn't as hyped as some of the other defensive players. Lately, he has been the talk of a lot of recruiting circles for the combination of size, speed, and strength he already brings to the position. Cooper will be visiting Michigan on May 21st for the Big House BBQ, along with his mother.
"I am excited and grateful for the Michigan offer. They have a great program, and I can't wait to see it for myself." - Darian Cooper
Both he and his mother have started to build a great relationship with the Michigan coaches, and they look to continue that. Michigan seems to be in favorable position, but we'll know more after his visit. He told me that his mother will likely move where ever he decides to go, so distance won't play a factor. Here's his junior highlights for your enjoyment.
6'5", 250 lbs.
Rock has long been known to have MIchigan as his favorite, and that is yet to change. Rock boasts approximately 14 offers, including Michigan, Notre Dame, and Nebraska to name a few. Rock has been to Ann Arbor a few times, and has spoken highly of Michigan every time he visits. The last time we spoke, he told me that he doesn't have a list, per se, but Michigan is as high as any other team. Unless something drastic happens, I would expect Michigan to land Rock. When asked today when his decision will be made, he said, soon. One of these links is Chris Rock's highlight video, and the other is a clip of Chris Rock doing stand up. Choose wisely.
6'5", 220 lbs.
Barnes was a visitor for the Spring Game this year. He came with the Top Prospects Family, which was founded by Je'Ron Stokes father, and Barnes left with an offer. It's too early to name favorites yet, but he did tell me that the visit to Michigan was an awesome experience.
"Michigan has great tradition, and they're a great school. I can't really say I have a list right now, but Michigan is definitely up there, you could say that." - Deion Barnes
Deion attends the same high school as current Wolverine Je'Ron Stokes. With the Stokes family guiding him through the process there's a 100% chance that any negative recruiting towards Michigan will not be effective.
6'4", 260 lbs.
Croce is the second defensive tackle from Maryland that Michigan is looking at this year, and he is high on Michigan as well. Vincent was in Ann Arbor for the spring game, and came away with Michigan on top of his list, as far as schools he's visited. He stayed in the state, and took a trip to MSU the next day, and nothing had changed. Still early as far as a decision goes for Croce, but the Spring Game has put in Michigan in favorable position here as well. His highlight video is here.
6'3", 230 lbs.
I'm going to include Anthony on here, because he has a really impressive offer list. I've spoken with him before, and he spoke highly of Michigan in general. With the offer list that he has, he was quick to admit that it's easy to confuse coaches and schools, let alone narrow down his list. He's a prospect to keep an eye on, if anything else. Anthony had 12 1/2 sacks in only 6 games this past year, which was the result of an injury. If Michigan can get him to visit, then we'll have a chance. My initial thought is that he will probably stay in the south. It should be noted that his father and grandfather were both linemen at Miami. From what he says in this in your face interview with ESPN, it sounds like Michigan may have a shot.
6'4", 290 lbs.
Hale is a midwest defensive tackle, that actually plays as a huge defensive end in high school. His size says that he'll move inside somewhere, and could actually end up being a nice fit for Michigan's style of defense. Hale is somewhat close to campus, so it shouldn't be too hard to get him there. Hale has offers from Florida, to Georgia Tech, Ohio State, and Penn State, among others. He will be highly sought after, and Michigan should have a decent shot. His highlight video is awaiting.
6'2", 240 lbs.
Marshall is a big time prospect from Virginia, that was recently offered by Michigan. He plans on attending the Big House BBQ on May 21st, but I haven't confirmed that, yet. The visit should tell us more on where his interest level is at, and if he and his mother would be ok with the distance from home.
His highschool has a nice website, with a video interview from Corey and a local station. Towards the end of the interview, Corey says he has an unnamed favorite, which is not Michigan, but is still evaluating schools.
These are the bigger names for now. As is with the offensive line recruiting, this list will continue to change as we get closer to the season. Here's a few names that may pop up soon, or just to keep in mind.
Giorgio Newberry: (likely won't choose Michigan)
Fort Pierce, FL
6'6, 255 lbs.
6'3, 220 lbs.
6'1", 310 lbs.
6'4, 210 lbs.
6'3, 250 lbs.
Fort Meade, FL
6'5, 240 lbs.
Huntington Beach, CA
6'1" 230 lbs.
Not offered (Night of Champions visitor)
Why is this important? It is important because our secondary (which everyone is hating on) is having to work way too hard because we cannot get pressure on the quarterback. Every secondary plays better when the defensive line gets pressure on the quarterback and ours in no exception. I believe that we have good talent in our secondary, and all we need is a good presence by our defense line in order for the secondary to play up to its potential. If we do not get pressure against MSU (or any other opponent this season), we will have a hard time putting up enough points to win games, even with Tate and our improved offense.
Was pumped to see Brian's recent photo-tracking of Will Campbell from Army All Star size, to his current svelte shape. While that all seems fine, I don't remember hearing much about him so far in camp. I've heard that Roh is expected to play this year, obviously a good sign. While, I'm sure Will is expected to play, I'm curious what's been said about his performance thus far in camp. Considering how thin we're supposed to be at D-line, it seems like a pretty important matter.
Warning! I am not a coach and I haven't played football since eighth grade. However, I have taken an interest in offensive and defensive schemes lately. Most of what I have learned has come from reading Smart Football, Three and Out, Trojan Football Analysis, and of course Brian; especially his piece in HTTV 2009.
I think one of the biggest reasons why the hybrid positions are getting so confused is the fact that coaches all have different names for the same hybrid position. To Pete Carroll the “Spinner” is called the “Elephant” and others call it the “Quick.” All this position really is, is the WDE. Now in the 4-3 under (at least the one we are using) he is moved way outside the tackle. The reason I believe we do this is so that we can use a smaller player and that is able to speed rush the passer, hold weak side contain, and fall back into coverage for a zone blitz. With the player being so far outside they don't need to be as refined in their technique and can use their athleticism in space. This is the position that is being battled for by Evans, Herron, and Watson.
Brandon Graham is going to be the SDE this year. This of course could limit his effectiveness as a pass rusher. However, he has the most refined technique of all the defensive ends and will probably draw many double teams. These double teams will most likely lead to one-on-one battles for at least two defensive linemen (which I am considering the “Deathbacker/Spinner/Quick/Elephant” to be).
The other hybrid position in our defensive is the one occupied by Steve Brown. But just like the “Spinner” is just a WDE but with a fancy name, Mr. Brown's position is just the SLB but not the John Thompson version. Obviously, spread offenses are everywhere and to combat this defensive coordinators made the SLB more like a safety. But they also want someone who can handle a tight end in man coverage and in run situations so this may be why the coordinators just didn't use a normal nickel package. In the 4-3 under the SLB is in an inside-foot to outside-foot alignment on the tight end also called a 9-tech. If there isn't a tight end then I believe he will play nickelback to the strong side – however GERG determines which side is the strong side.
coaches use different conventions for which side is the strong side.
Some call the strong side the side with the tight end. Others call
the strong side the side to the quarterback's front (non-blind) side. I am not
sure but I think that we will be using the first convention.
Note that Steve Brown and Brandon Graham are going to be on the same side. And both will be lined up on the line of scrimmage.
According to Pete Carrol the WLB is protected in this scheme, so they don't have to be “thick necked jokers” either, they need to run sideline to sideline and make plays. This is Jonas Mouton's position.
It looks to me like a guard might have a free release on Obi in this formation, but I would like to defer this question to someone who knows more about football than I.
Earlier someone posed the question as to why we don't use Brandon at the WDE position (they called it the 'Shembackler' which I like but for clarity's sake I'm sticking with WDE). This was actually why I started writing this in the first place. It seems to me that what is most important for the WDE position in this scheme is the ability to rush the passer and the ability to play in space. Brandon can most certainly rush the passer and given that he played linebacker in HS he could probably play in space – not to mention his freakish athleticism! So why don't we move him there? I think the answer is because we don't have a DE as polished as Brandon to play the SDE, especially since Ryan Van Bergen could be starting at the 3-tech DT! We have athletes, and this is the number one criteria to playing the WDE spot in our 4-3 under; as far as I can tell anyway. Hopefully they can at least speed rush the passer; playing well in space would also be helpful.
On to other musings! If our starting D-line is going to look like BG, Martin, Van Bergen, someone at WDE then I would think we should be pretty good at penetrating the O-line (clean thoughts people!). Does this mean we will be susceptible to counters and traps? Can someone weigh in on what the advantages of having a small line like ours might be? Plus, I think we can all envision what the disadvantages are so I was wondering what the bright side could be.
If you are craving more info I would recommend reading this Trojan Analysis link keeping in mind that Steve Brown is the SLB in the diagrams and BG is the DE on his side. Then delve as much as you wish! Chris Brown and gsimmons85 have so much football knowledge packed into their sites you can read on for days and – like Brian – forget what the sun looks like!
I'm not one to get defensive so feel free to tear this apart! In fact I welcome any criticism since I will most likely learn something or get a laugh.
One last thing. If you frequent mgoblog and you don't buy HTTV 2009 then you are a fool! In fact you will be known as a fool all your life and when you die all people will say about you is: 'The fool is dead.' So don't be a fool and buy HTTV 2009 today!