For the second year in a row UM's linebacking core appears to be the weak link on defense late in the season. This is troubling, but can it be fixed...and quickly? Last year Ryan Glasgow's injury was a huge loss but we can't blame line injuries now. What can UM's staff do to help improve the play of say Mike McCray? Is the answer simply playing a more athletic Devin Bush Jr.? I'm not football smart enough to know but it sure seems ineffective linebacker play is UM's Achilles' heel versus the run and intermediate passes on an otherwise elite defense.
If the mods feel this has already been hashed out let's move on but I'm still unsure as to the answer.
Go Blue! A big Thank You to all student athletes for working your *sses off this season!
Boy, it's looks like there have been quite a few potential injuries for major contributors. Mone, Charlton, and Hurst have all been out. Also, Lewis is not playing. McCray was also holding either his hand or his groin, but played through it. And, Smith came out with a possible rib injury. Anyone have any injury information on these key contributors?
Was just reviewing some video on Mike McCray and thought I would share my observations.
MGoVideo has the spring game broken down into every snap taken by each QB. Since McCray wore white, I just pulled up the O'Korn footage (as O’Korn played for the blue team) and trained my eyes on #9. I didn’t see him do anything amazing, but he looked competent and physical.
Here’s how I saw it:
Play #1: a handoff to Drake Johnson; McCray has the backside B-gap; he reads, then rallies to the ball after Johnson commits to the frontside
Play #2: McCray feigns a blitz, but doesn’t come; Blue hands off to Johnson again; McCray reads, bounces off some trash, then comes free to help finish a tackle Charlton started
Play #3: Michigan in the shotgun, it’s a pass; McCray drops into a short zone and may be spying O’Korn, who winds up scrambling; McCray comes up to tackle and O’Korn gives himself up short of the sticks. Grade: =; McCray looked competent but this was a routine play.
Play #4: Play-action pass to the far side of the field; McCray in zone coverage, not really involved in the play
Play #5: Outside run to Drake Johnson; McCray checks his gap, maybe a false step or two; when Johnson heads outside, McCray has backside pursuit responsibility; McCray takes a bad angle and isn’t able to help. Grade: -1
Play #6: White in some kind of formation with eight defenders at the LOS; can’t find McCray and don’t think he’s in on this play.
Play #7: Passing play; McCray defending the short middle and definitely looks to be spying O’Korn, who throws an incomplete pass to the left sideline
Play #8: Passing play; McCray covering his middle zone; O’Korn hits a receiver to McCray’s left, the DB tackled immediately but McCray had come over and was in position to clean up if the DB hadn’t
Play #9: Play blown dead for a false start
Play #10: McCray fakes a blitz, doesn’t come; it’s a pass, McCray drops into his middle zone; O’Korn pump fakes to a receiver running an out to the left sideline, and McCray flows hard to that side; O’Korn then tucks and scrambles right, is pulled down by Charlton after a short gain. Grade: =; am tempted to give a minus here for biting so hard on the pump fake but I don’t think McCray would have been relevant to the outcome of this play anyway.
Play #11: Weird play. Looks like a screen as the offensive line blocks momentarily, then three release downfield and look for blocks—but there is no receiver to be found. Pass drop is too deep and too extended to be a QB draw. Maybe a bust by whoever was supposed to catch the screen pass? Whatever it was, O’Korn bugs out to his left. McCray has an offensive lineman coming to get him. McCray goes outside the block, closes on O’Korn, and tackles for loss. Grade: may have been a broken play but McCray looked good; +1.
Play #12: McCray does not appear to be in; Blue completes a bomb to Drake Harris.
Play #13: handoff to Drake Johnson, running off tackle to the far side of the formation from McCray; McCray reads it quickly, shoots a gap and gets an arm in on the tackle.
Play #14: McCray sent on blitz; several white defenders into the backfield, and the pressure (not McCray’s) forces a throwaway
Play #15: The double-pass. McCray blitzes through the A-gap and gets a shove on O’Korn, just as he releases the backward pass to Morris. McCray then bugs out for Drake Johnson, who is all alone in the end zone. Morris hits him for the score. I’m assuming Johnson wasn’t McCray’s responsibility, since McCray was blitzing; with that in mind, I appreciate McCray’s hustle on the play. Grade: = (would be -1,000 if the blitz was an ad lib, but I don’t think it was)
Play #16: Passing play; McCray one of three defenders near the LOS; ball thrown deep and McCray not relevant
Play #17: Blue running Power-O to McCray’s side of the formation. McCray flows to the point of attack and stands up the fullback, constricting the hole. Winds up being irrelevant as the back tries to bounce outside the kick-block on the EMLOS and trips over his teammate’s feet. Grade: + 0.5
Play #18: Passing play; McCray drops into a curl/hook zone and picks up Shane Morris; O’Korn scrambles, McCray ignores a feeble blocking attempt by Morris and tackles at the sticks. Grade: =; don’t like all the yards O’Korn got but probably not realistic to expect McCray to have done better with this.
Play #19: Another passing play, McCray in a curl/hook zone again, picks up Morris again; O’Korn steps up in the pocket, has running room; McCray closes quickly—and O’Korn flicks a beautiful deep bomb to Jack Wangler—which glances off Wangler’s fingertips and goes incomplete. Grade: + 0.5; McCray did his job here, even if the coverage (and the WR) did not. Impressive closing speed when O’Korn escaped the pocket.
Play #20: Blue in the shotgun; McCray heads to pick up a back releasing to the flat, O’Korn scrambles in the opposite direction making McCray irrelevant.
Play #21: Shotgun passing play again, McCray in zone coverage; O’Korn throws to a receiver blankeded by Jeremy Clark; McCray comes over to help but not needed as Clark gets the PBU
Play #22: Same play, but ball goes to Wangler in the zone to McCray’s right; the walk-on DB can’t get Wangler down, so McCray comes over to finish the job. Grade: =
Play #23: Passing play,McCray picks up the RB and chases him off the screen (assuming man coverage); O’Korn throws in the opposite direction.
Play #24: Passing play, McCray picks up the RB headed to the flat (to McCray’s right) O’Korn hits Shane Morris on the other side of the field.
Play #25: Passing play, McCray covering the short middle and may be spying O’Korn again; O’Korn has time, reads out his progressions, then throws it away. Grade: =; not going to award a plus but McCray had ensured no scramble yardage was available.
Play #26: McCray blitzing through the B-gap. Blue runs the waggle, trapping McCray inside. O’Korn rolls right into plenty of space, tries to connect with Drake Harris for a TD but Harris is covered and it’s incomplete. Grade: =; I think white just got RPS’d on the waggle call here
Play #27: O’Korn under center, drops back to pass; McCray is in short middle zone coverage, definitely spying; O’Korn has Kareem Walker open in the flat, doesn’t see him; white getting no pressure and O’Korn has all day to survey the field but can’t find anyone; finally throw, but arm hit on the release and ball bounces incomplete.
Play #28: Shotgun this time, passing play again; McCray in short middle zone, spying O’Korn, who scrambles; McCray comes up to tackle, but is out of control; O’Korn pump fakes and cuts back inside McCray, who whiffs; OKorn lurches forward and dives into the end zone. Grade -2; open field tackling is tough but you’re a linebacker, and this isn’t Vincent Young.
Play #29: 2-point conversion; white jumps offside and the ball inches closer.
Play #30: white teams stuffs the blue fullback at the goal line for the victory; McCray somewhere in the pile, probably did something to help. Grade: oh hell, +0.5
Overall grade: -0.5. Again, not amazing, but definitely the type of performance you can live with when you have a fire-breathing defensive line and lights-out secondary. Go Blue.
Mike McCray just tweeted that he has had to switch numbers, from 9 to 3. I assume this means he will not be redshirting, but perhaps will be on special teams, on the field with the other number 9 Drew Dileo.
Also, what's on the top of that jersey in the picture? Is it a practice jersey?
Mixed bag for our recruits still in playoff action tonight.
Channing Stribling and Matthews Butler edged East Forsyth 25-15 to advance to the Regional round (NC State Semifinals) where they will play Mallard Creek (Marquez North - 2013 top 10 WR).
Patrick Kugler and North Allegheny crushed Seneca Valley 47-17 to advance to the WPIAL Quad A Finals at Heinz Field next week against Woodland Hills.
Mike McCray and Trotwood Madison cruised over Turpin 42-14 to win their Regional Final and advance to the OH Division II State Semis. McCray had an INT.
Jaron Dukes and Marion Franklin's comeback attempt came up short in a 32-30 loss to New Albany & OSU commit Darron Lee. Lee intercepted a pass intended for Dukes with less than a minute left in the game. Dukes caught a 2pt conversion in the loss.
Ross Douglas and Avon lost 42-14 to Toledo Catholic Central (S Jayme Thompson (OSU commit), 2014 QB DeShone Kizer, TE Keith Towbridge (Louisville)) in a rematch from last year's playoffs. Douglas had a 20 yd TD run.
Michael Ferns (2014) and St. Clairsville won 37-29 over Johnstown to win their Regional Final and advance to the OH Division IV State Semis.
Chris Fox and Ponderosa are shooting themselves in the foot right now down 19-7 at the half with 3 lost fumbles, a punt blocked, and a punt snapped out of the end zone for a safety. Rough start.
EDIT: Fox's Ponderosa got upset last night 19-14 in a crazy finish. Tough loss for the kid.
#cspreps INSANITY! Ponderosa fumbles on 1st and goal from the 1, down by 5, with 53 seconds left. Mesa Ridge can take knees and win it. Wow!
Players of interest (all ratings from Scout because I happen to have it open):
class of '13:
- OLB Mike McCray, 4-star, Michigan commit
- S Cam Burrows, 4-star, Ohio St. commit
- DT Jarrod Clements, 3-star, Illinois commit, recovering from ACL injury and I don't know if he's playing
- CB Reon Dawson, 3-star, Illinois commit
- DE/LB Tre Williams-Brown, 3-star, offers from Arizona and 4 MAC schools
- RB Israel Green, who's unrated and has no offers but I'm tossing him on here because he ran for 326 and 6 in the state championship game last year
class of '14:
- RB Ashton Jackson, offers from Illinois, Purdue, Cincinnati
- WR Kendric Mallory, Illinois offer
- DT Ryan Reese, Illinois offer
- DE Verondtae Wilkinson, offers from Illinois and 3 MAC schools
class of '15:
- CB Kei Beckham, Illinois offer
- S Harrison Johnson, Illinois offer
T-M is coached by former Chicago Bear Maurice Douglass, which maybe explains why Illinois has offered ten players on the squad.
class of '13:
- WR Jordan Cunningham, 3-star, offers include Alabama and Ohio St
- DT Maquedias Bain, 4-star, offers include Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma
- S Jalen Battle, 2-star, Kentucky commit
- DE Nick Internicola, 3-star, Rutgers commit
- LB Skai Moore, 3-star, deciding among offers from Rutgers, Vandy, Wake Forest
- CB Wesley Smith, 2-star, Toledo commit
- WR DJ Taylor, 2-star, offers from Duke and B.C.
class of '14:.
- S Quincy Wilson, offers from Ohio St., Florida, LSU among many others
class of '15:
- RB Jordan Scarlett, offers from Alabama, LSU, Michigan St. and Wisconsin among others
That's an awful lot of D1 talent on the field, considering these schools aren't particularly big.
I can see why T-M's home field wouldn't be the greatest place to televise a game but I don't know why they moved the game all the way to Kings, about 50 miles from Trotwood, if they were just going to use a nicer high school field. If there's no crowd at the game, that's why.