Im for the more subtle changes. Let Fred J retire and hire a QB coach. Before making the hires, discuss with Beilein his hiring of 2 young assistant coaches.
Mailbag: Plenty Of Sad Football What Now Stuff, Yost Back In The Day
Watch Michigan lose to Michigan State on Saturday was frustrating and somewhat difficult to put into perspective. We want to believe that the coaches are capable of understanding the strengths and weaknesses of their players so the players can successfully execute. We also have to have the right players. It seems that we are still not where we want to be in terms of talent, coaching and understanding. How far away are we before we have the right combination?
Let's just get to the big question first. Michigan is still staring at the crater where their senior class is supposed to be, and reeling from Rich Rodriguez's inept offensive line recruiting. The 2011 class is also not spectacular, as it was a few in-state true believers, Blake Countess, and guys with little recruiting profile thanks to Rodriguez's sinking profile and Michigan giving Hoke three weeks to pile ten guys in. The talent on this team is mostly underclass.
That will not be the case on next year's defense. A projected starting lineup:
- DL: Clark (Sr), Beyer (Sr), Pipkins (Jr), Henry (Rs So)
- LB: Morgan (Sr), Ross (Jr), Ryan(Sr)
- DB: Countess (Rs Jr), Taylor (Sr), Wilson (Jr), J. Clark (Rs So)
This defense is an okay unit still beset by personnel issues. Snaps at NT not given to Quinton Washington against MSU went to… Jibreel Black. Yup. 250-pound Brennen Beyer is now the starting SDE. Before that the existence of Black was the only thing separating the situation the SDE and 3TECH positions from the one Michigan is dealing with at guard: one sophomore with a middling recruiting profile (Bryant on OL, Heitzman on DL) and a pile of freshman who are still freshman no matter how touted. I expect Michigan's defense to take a significant step forward from good but not great to maybe great next year.
The situation on offense is much more frightening. Michigan hasn't been able to move snap one away from Fitzgerald Toussaint, which is an indictment of Michigan's recruiting or development or both there. Michigan hasn't had a QB who wasn't massively turnover prone since Borges arrived, and there are zero seniors on next year's OL. Does a starting line of Magnuson-Bosch-Glasgow-Kalis-Braden featuring four sophomores and a junior who is a former walk-on entice? No.
Michigan's probably a 9-3 team next year and then you're putting all your eggs in Shane Morris's basket at QB the year after. So… not for a while.
[After the JUMP: oh good the "when can we fire this guy" tag is back. Yost: not really Yost.]
I once asked you a question regarding what would it take you to abandon your support for Rich Rod. You were kind enough to post it and respond.
I'd like to ask the same question for Hoke and company.
All I look for as a fan is player development. I figure Michigan will win and lose, but as long as the players are developing and they put in a strong effort I am happy. I don't expect perfection or anywhere near it. The players are still kids and I don't lose sight of that fact like so many others. But I just want to see them get better as the year goes. Compare the joke State was on offense at the beginning of the year with a crap line and few highly recruited players and look how Dantonio develops them. There is a plan. There is clear training that the players absorb. He molds them. The players clearly improve as a unit. Does Hoke do that? Is there evidence of that?
I don't know for sure, but just like with Rich Rod I just don't see the development.
Yet I don't feel as critical toward Hoke as so many others do. I think it has to do with recruiting acumen. But the thought that Hoke can't develop his players has been nagging at me.
What's your opinion? Specifically, what would it take you to abandon your support for Hoke? Do you think the player development is there? Why has Sparty been able to develop lower ranked players on offense (ignore their great D for the purpose of this question) into a more consistent superior unit than Michigan?
Thank you -
If we're comparing things to MSU, Dantonio started out 7-6, 9-4, 6-7 and then had an 11-win, turnover-fueled season of fortune that ended with a 49-7 loss to Alabama. In year five is when they actually seemed like a double-digit-win team, nearly winning the Big Ten and beating Georgia in the Outback. Hoke got off to a faster start thanks to Michigan's own lucky-as-hell 11-win season but right now he's in a similar doldrums as the previous guy's crappy late recruiting enters their upperclass years. Dantonio had a similar attrition issue because just about the only good players in JLS's last class were JUCOs.
Dantonio was also hired in late November instead of January, giving him more time to assemble a first class that would include late pickups Kirk Cousins and BJ Cunningham. Michigan's QB from their first class was Russell Bellomy—slight difference there—and they took a pass on Devin Lucien. (Who has nine catches for UCLA this year, FWIW.)
It takes time to assemble a winning program when you're coming from a botched transition, and I'll take a pass on another transition just yet.
What would it take for me to want Hoke gone? A lot. Nothing that can happen this year. Michigan could get bombed five straight times to close out the year and it would still make more sense to forge ahead instead of try another transition. In that case I'd probably be advocating for some staff changes, but haven't we seen enough of what happens when you change course wildly after three years of trying something?
And assuming there's notable progress on the field from a team that is shedding most of the baggage associated with that disastrous senior class, I would advocate a fifth year. So much of what's going on now is Rich Rodriguez and Mike Rosenberg and Dave Brandon's fault.
Hoke's recruiting does buy him quite a bit in my book. He's stabilized the program with the 2012 class, which still has 24 of 25 guys on campus; this year's 27 is all present and accounted for, and Michigan is finally entering a year in which they are struggling to add 18 guys to a single class. He's winning recruiting battles with powers and managing his roster sensibly*. You can see the direction things are going in terms of retention and recruiting stars.
MSU guys are good because they're around all the time. MSU has reached Wisconsin levels of retention, redshirting damn near everyone and keeping almost all of them around for four or five years. Michigan has taken a step and a half towards that.
Are people developing? Individuals, surely. Clark is coming along this year; Beyer has developed; I like both ILBs; Wilson and Taylor are moving forward. Gallon's great, and Funchess is now a weapon even if he can't block. The DL has taken a step back but I'm liking Willie Henry a lot.
Some units are not. Michigan hasn't developed a tailback since… Chris Perry? (Mike Hart came fully-formed out of high school.) Fred Jackson's talent evaluation has been a running joke for years now and it gets less and less funny every year; Michigan has no one who can pick up a blitz and is getting zero from two touted freshmen. Thomas Rawls is a ghost even after Drake Johnson's ACL tear.
The offensive line is hard to judge because of the recruiting crater but has been handled awfully—IMO Michigan is better off if they just stick with Glasgow-Miller-Kalis across the front and hope, and every snap on which a guy flips to an unfamiliar position in practice is a waste of time. The tight ends have almost gone backwards in terms of their blocking and Michigan insisted on using them extensively for half the season; AJ Williams's suspension for the MSU game is like seeing Robbie Findley pick up two yellows in the World Cup. Special teams have also been a consistent disaster from dinosaur punts to erratic punters to Michigan's horrible return units.
If Michigan does end up in a spot where a shakeup is required—emphasis on required, as that's the only way someone's getting forced out—the heat would fall mostly on Funk, Jackson, and Ferrigno. And Borges, who in addition to the we're-stretch-we're-power-we're nothing executive decisions that have exacerbated the line issues has fielded a turnover-mad QB for the third straight year.
*[For the most part. Not taking a QB in 2013 was a mistake.]
Imagine it's January and Hoke has to break it to the players that Borges and Funk were sent off to frolic around a nice farm. Who are valid candidates for OC/OL that Michigan would be able to hire next year? Of course, we'd all love to have an Art Briles, Gus Malzahn, or Chip Kelly heading up the offense, but that's not happening. Who would choose to leave their current positions for the Michigan job? Loeffler? Matt Canada? Ron Zook (just kidding I know he was a defensive coach)? Lane Kiffin (maybe just kidding, but a total buttwipe)? Before we call for heads to roll, I think some nominations are in order.
This is not happening, man. Let's start with that. And I don't know anything about OL coaches; nobody knows anything about them except their OL coach, who they usually hate. As far as OC: given Hoke's predilections I wouldn't get your hopes up if they center around the Briles/Malzahn/Kelly axis. That has about as much chance of happening as Al Borges getting replaced by Tony Franklin again.
If I'm picking from realistic candidates who might be available, I'm looking at Nebraska's Tim Beck. He has an option system that's one coherent whole and has been the productive half of the Cornhusker outfit for the last few years without amazing talent at the helm. He is also likely to be a free agent after the year. You'd have to figure out if he can run a passing-oriented offense first since Shane Morris isn't going to be running around like a maniac. But this is all fantasyland anyway.
I know your mailbox is full with football questions but I have a a couple hockey related questions.
First, after watching the Tech series Nagelvoort is clearly a high caliber goalie saving 56 of 59 shots (95% save percentage). Early in the season Racine looked solid with a 93% save percentage in two and half games before going down with a groin injury. If you are Red, what do you with the goalie situation? Do you split series a la 2011 with Hunwick on Friday and Hogan on Saturday until one emerges? Ride the hot hand with Nagelvoort or go back to the presumed starter with Racine?
Second, I have been a student ticket holder for the past 3 seasons. I hear a lot about the "glory days" of Yost can you talk about what exactly made those years so much better? Are the cheers stale? Is it purely an attendance issue? Did the renovations take away from the "aura" of Yost?
Thanks for the insight.
Sir. I love you. You are the best.
GOALIE STUFF: Racine is on quite a streak himself; I think at the very least when he is ready to play you have to go to a platoon. A lot of teams have done this; I remember going back to ND and Miami stats when previewing them and noting that they had two goalies who had split the games near-evenly. You don't have that much data on either guy; it seems like at this point you should give each guy one game on a weekend until such time as it seems one of them has separated themselves.
This is an excellent situation to be in. I mean… last year versus this year.
YOST STUFF: Hey man I don't want to harsh on you. Those students who are in the building nightly singing O Canada the 10 minute mark are my guys. I love that. Hagelin flag, etc.
Back in the day the entirety of that side of the ice was students, and there were about 30-40% more seats available before two different renovations, both of which screwed over the students. The first added that overhang for people who like to spend lots of money to not attend hockey games. (You probably don't know this since you're directly under them but the club seat section is never more than 50% full. Never.) That instantly cut out 3-4 rows and made about 4 more crappy seats where you had to duck to see anything, and made a big chunk of the student section almost separate from the rest of the arena. I was back there one year. It was awful.
The second stripped out most of the glass-level seats and altered the row structure such that there is very little student presence behind either of the benches. Back in the day, the oldest, meanest students sat behind the opposing bench and said horrible things about the opposition on the ice such that it was a not-infrequent occurrence for the parents of those players to trundle back into the student section trying to punch someone. This was scary and ridiculously awesome. It probably couldn't last. It hasn't.
Combine that with hostility to the penalty box cheer (band playing over it, Red exhorting it to stop) and the student section has necessarily gotten way less weird and unique and awesome over the past decade. About 80% of this is on the athletic department, and about 80% of that 80% was the Bill Martin department. They looked at SI articles describing the student section's cheer as a blight instead of a treasure and reacted accordingly. They've been crapping on the students ever since. None of this is actually the students' fault, except insofar as they were unable to come up with completely clean cheers that would show up in SI.
(The other 20% was that season-ending game where the dancing spread to the entire section, and now the student section is a bunch of FUN PEOPLE who LIKE CANDY and LIKE DANCING and LIKE FUN instead of terrible twisted misanthropes taking their frustrations on life out on innocent student athletes. Some people.)
The cost is becoming apparent. These days the student section is probably a quarter of what it was at its heyday and the corresponding drop in enthusiasm is obvious. In the heyday you knew that it was a football Saturday because the game was relatively muted, and you knew that Michigan had lost when the crowd was barely alive; after Saturday's game there was basically no difference in crowd enthusiasm from Friday. Yost is just another arena now.
So you don't want to have a RB coach? In order to hire a dedicated QB coach, there has to be a pretty major shakeup.
I think the implication is that Borges would take over RBs, a position that I don't think he's ever coached. Maybe the thought is that RBs don't take much coaching so who cares who's coaching.
Meant to imply replace Fred J and hire a QB coach - 2 new faces
NCAA only lets you have nine coaches. If Jackson retires you can replace him with another coach of your choosing. But if you want to add two new coaches, you have to hope Jackson retires (or just fire him), and then fire one of the other coaches.
Taking into account the latest BCS standings (flawed or not) majority of the teams all have coaches dedicated specially to RB’s, so my guess is more teams care who’s coaching RB's than not. By my tally 8 of the 10 teams have RB specific coaches w/ Bama and Oklahoma being the outliers as their RB coaches appear to have additional responsibilities.
* shared responsibilities
I don't think that about RB coaches. I was just speculating what he was thinking because RB coach is generally referred to as a recruiting position around here.
I found this on the recent posts tab, but it's not showing up on the front page. Not sure what the intention is, but just thought I give a heads up.
Thanks for the inside track on the coaching "hot seats" ... I too feel we are better served staying the course - between the jump in FSU's o-line from last year to this year, the experience coming back on defense, and seeing what happens when your talent can RS and then be in the system for 4 years (a la Bama, Geogria, Stanford, MSU) I am much inclined to keep everybody.
My only question is about the offensive line... Do you go back to Glasgow-Miller-Kali's knowing that is probably the meat of the future and you have a bad shot at winning the division? I think growing pains while "jelling" would be better than the ramshackle swapping that seems to produce the same pour running game / pass protection.
Miller is not the future, in fact the guys who are in there will likely all be starters next year so get them experience. If they want to bring Kalis back in, that would be fine.
I actually think that Kugler might get the start at center next year. A lot of people thought he'd come in this year and win the position. I wouldn't be surprised either way, but having Kugler start might allow them to slide Glasgow back to that LG spot if need be.
Keep up the great work. Like I say, trivial trivia, and I didn t check but my memory tells me Bama beat State in the bowl game 49-6. Hate to give State credit for the PAT. If i m wrong, my apologies, if I am right, it doesn't t matter anyway.
I have to question that, though I don't mean to add to the doomsday-ishness of the board. Michigan plays at ND, at MSU, at Nebraska, and at OSU next year. And it's going to have the OL listed above and no Fitz to run the ball. 9-3 would be a hell of an accomplishment.
Well sheet. Didn't realize all four are on the road next year.
Michigan plays at Northwestern next year, not at Nebraska (whom they don't play at all).
Yea, if Devin stays:
O-Line : worse (is that possible?)
so... we iz staee next season at best?
When our defense is giving up less than 12 points a game, I'll agree with the comparison.
OL is hard to predict but we're going to have a lot more total guys who aren't freshman, and that's a positive. The interior OL probably will be a lot better. Whether this is countered by poor tackle play remains to be seen.
I don't think RB can be much worse than it's been the last two years. Toussaint just isn't a game-changer. Green might be.
WR loses Gallon but gets Funchess and Chesson back and adds Darboh, so it should be fine.
OT is the key to the offense. If we can adequately replace Lewan and Schofield, we should be pretty good.
The strength of an OL has a lot more to do with how bad your worst guys are than how good your best ones are. Lewan being a monster does little good when the other guys are getting smoked. If you have two offensive linemen, you'd rather have two 6s than a 10 and a 2, because the 10 beating his guy really well doesn't make up for the 2 getting pushed back.
Next year we won't have any 10s, but our worst lineman will likely be RS Soph Braden and our second worse is a starter right now (or Kalis) and will be a year better. I think our OL is as good or better than this year on the whole.
^This. The most sense anyone here has ever made.
Still doesn't make me feel any better, but after reading your post it finally makes sense. Whenever we get beat up front it's obviously the person who missed an assignment, not the other 4 who did their job. It only takes one bad read or missed block and you're screwed. Same goes for the D-Line. When your opponent's offense knows who the weak link is on your D-Line, they run right at them o raround them.
I agree with your general sentiment as OL is the one true UNIT in all of football - if 1 spoke is out of order it can ruin the other 4 quite easily, or at least the 2 around it. But Braden will be a fresh face, if Kugler displaces Glasgow he will be a fresh face and I still don't count out a kid like Dawson who was my favorite OL recruit from last year. So just because kid A is playing this year does not mean he won't be displaced by kid B. And while your general sentiment is one I agree with a line of 4-5 underclassmen is still scary.... if there is improvement it would appear to be marginal. Just to be an average OL we need far more than marginal improvement year over year.
First of all, one fresh face is better than three fresh faces. Nearly every OL has at least one new starter. And if guys like Kugler or Dawson beat out the guys who are playing now, that should be viewed as a positive, not as a bad thing because it's another new face.
The fact of the matter is, there will be four guys with starting experience competing with half a dozen others this spring. Compare that to last spring where we had two returning starters and one scholarship player with garbage time experience (Miller).
Losing Gallon and Dileo is worse than an adding a year to Funchess and Chesson, getting Darboh back, and working Drake Harris into the mix? I'm not sold on that yet.
I agree with this. I love Dileo, but he really hasn't had a whole lot of production this year, and now he's injured. So as much as I like the guy, we can't really say losing him is a big hit. So really it's Gallon.
Gallon is a loss, no doubt about it, but in addition to what you said, we'll also "add" Da'Mario Jones, C'sonte York and J'aron Dukes, who I'm sure has an apostrophe in there somewhere. It's unlikely all three of those guys are big contributors next year, but it's very likely one of them is and another of them is a small contributor (basically taking Jeremy Jackon's role).
In addition to Drake Harris (who is enrolling early) we're getting Freddy Canteen (who is as well) and Ian Bunting at TE who is a very good pass catcher. Also remember that Khalid Hill was added to the travel roster a few weeks ago so he's a true frosh who is close to getting PT, meaning he definitely will be getting some next fall.
My only point is that Fitz is the only proven commodity at RB.
Well MSU did start the season without a proven RB and they found Langford, someone will step up, it's hard to believe that they won't be able to at least match Fitz's production this year.
so why not 9-3. We really should beat ND next year ... we tend to play well in South Bend. Nebraska and MSU are winnable every year (but playing at MSU again is B1G revenge for keeping them in Michigan's division). ohio at ohio ... uh - hopefully 2014's team is markedly improved!
We tend to play well in South Bend? I don't know about that. I'd say M played well in South Bend in 2010, 2006, and maybe 2004; before that you'd have to go all the way back to 1994. We played like total crap there in 2012, 2008, 2002, and 1998.
I do like Michigan's chances there next season though.
Why should we beat ND next year? They return a relatively deep team, and they get their QB back who took them on a National Title run. Moreover, aside from a couple games during the Charlie Weiss era, when have we played well at ND?
Also, MSU is winnable every year? Ummmm...apparently not 5 of the last 6! And - a couple of those games were not toss ups (i.e. 2011 and 2013).
Looking at next year's schedule, there are plenty of games we could win but could just as easily lose. I hope I am wrong, but I think our road woes continue next season. I think ND, MSU, and OSU are all going to be rough games; and, I wouldn't be surprised if Rutgers was our classic asplode game.
Ugh...I hate being so pessimistic but what data and / or reasons can I look toward for optimism?
might have a new coach and MSU might have to replace Narduzzi (fingers crossed)
Losing Narduzzi won't change much. The essence of their defense stems from D'Antonio.
While I'm sure that Dantonio sets the overall tone, I think you're underestimating the importance of Narduzzi to that defense. He's been Dantonio's DC for ten years (Cincy and MSU). There was a long article about him in the Freep before the game, and after reading it I wished there was somebody like him on Michigan's staff, "60 Minutes of Unnecessary Roughness" notwithstanding.
I would not like to see him end up as a HC anywhere in the Big Ten, especially Nebraska.
Usually I agree with Don's comments but not here. I think they would move Tressel up from LB coach and the beat goes on. Dantionio is the man on defense, and Narduzzi is the face. Dantonio's offense is young this year except on the OL and will have more weapons in 2014 so he can, for a year, spend more time coaching defense in 2014 to bridge any transition. They will take a step back on defense more due to losing some of those seniors, especially Allen and Bullough at LB but they have proven they can develop kids who are 2-3 star athletes. Calhoun could be first team All American next year on the DL. And they WILL GET BETTER by the time UM plays them from where they begin in late August or September.
I wonder if Nebraska makes a run at Narduzzi?
Why? We haven't lost a home game yet under Hoke have we? So if we win out at home next year we would only have to win one of those road games to go 9-3. Geez that sounds impossible. Especially considering we almost won in south bend last year and the fact that Nebraska will probably have a new coach.
wins as there are only 7 home games in 2014 FWIW
(One of which was admitted to be wrong).
There's likely a Penn State type game lurking in there somewhere...lose to a team with 20 fewer scholarships than us, etc...at Rutgers will not be easy.
Below is the full schedule. Again, I should have said they will be at NW, not at Nebraska.
|Aug. 30||APPALACHIAN STATE|
|Sept. 6||at Notre Dame|
|Sept. 13||MIAMI (Ohio)|
|Oct. 4||at Rutgers*|
|Oct. 11||PENN STATE*|
|Oct. 25||at Michigan State*|
|Nov. 1||INDIANA* (HC)|
|Nov. 8||at Northwestern*|
|Nov. 29||at Ohio State*|
I see lose-able games at ND, home vs. Utah (see Stanford game this year), PSU, at MSU, Indiana (gave Michigan a run this year), at NW, at OSU. I'm not saying they will lose all of those games, but that's a lot of potential losses to say that they'll probably be 9-3.
Final note: I'm not pessimistic about the general momentum of the program. I just believe next year will be hard.
I see 10-2 as being as likely as 7-5. Could really go either way.
based on your state of mind. Can we just let the season play out, and see where things stand at season's end. My God, this isn't pro football. You want to condemn the program for its failure to produce a championship, I get that. Everyone is disappointed. I don't get the idea where starting over solves the problem.
And I don't see how you can project wins and losses next year based on the current roster. That is rediculous.
We talk about the defensive unit being better than average, or B, however you want to distinguish it. And the fact is, the defense has been forced to deal with adversity all year long either because of turnovers or the offense inability to dictate tempo and control.
Let's be clear about something that separates Michigan and MSU, and that is this: MSU knows what it is, what it wants to do, and how it wants to go about it, and what it takes to make it happen. Michigan is deficient in all those areas, and because of that, it has no identity. OK. That is the indictment of failure on this staff and this team, the failure to project its identity in a meaningful way this season.
And because of that, it has no chance to win a championship. It's simple, really. What we have here is a failure to communicate and deliver on the message of whatever this team's identity is supposed to be. That is how simple this is. It has nothing to do with toughness or organization, coaching or anything. It has to do with identifying what you are and how you want to play and win.
Brian said that Michigan will probably go 9-3 next year, so we started out talking about the future. I disagree with that statement, and that's all I've argued. I don't think it's an indictment of anyone to suggest that Michigan is not probably going to win 9 games next year given the information we have now.
FWIW, I do not want to start over with the program. I think firing Hoke is a terrible idea. I'm not sold on Borges and Funk, but I believe very strongly that Hoke should be given through the end of 2015 at least.
With the current staff and player development there are almost no gimmees on the schedule. None. With what Minnesota did to Nebraska, Minnesota is not even a gimmee. They can win a lot of those games, but just as easily lose them. If Indiana improves their defense even by 20% they could be a challenge. The ONLY no brainers on that schedule are Miami OH and maybe App State and Maryland. But can we even say that? This is a team that cannot run half its offense - the entire part where running backs run the ball. 9-3 is optimistic.
The games that you listed are just about the only ones on our schedule that give me any concern. We could go 1-3 in those games and - assuming that we win the ones we should win - we will be 9-3.
I know that MSU has owned us of late, especially in EL, but they lose a ton of talent next year on defense. We return just about the entire defense.
As for our offense, despite losing both of our tackles, I actually expect significant improvement. Let me explain my reasoning:
QB - DG will be back and will be a year older and more experienced. Keep in mind that in terms of playing QB, Devin has previously started only a handful of games. Coming back a year older, a year more experienced, a year stronger and a year more prepared has to make him a better QB.
WR - we lose Gallon this year, and there is no way to say that this is not a huge loss. But, he will be replaced by Darboh (who was getting a ton of pre-season hype). A downgrade, but this may be mitigated by the fact that Darboh's speed and size is likely a better fit for what Borges wants to run. That said, admittedly this is a downgrade. At the other receiver spot, Funchess is raw as hell, having spent most of his time in practice as a TE. The playing time this season, combined with a second full offseason will make him a more experienced, stronger and possibly more dangerous receiver. Borges will also have an offseason to figure out how to game plan for the mismatches that Funchess creates. Then there is Chesson, who is also raw as hell. He has improved a bit over this season, but with another offseason to add size and refine his technique, he should improve significantly, as well. So, while we lose our top WR, as a whole, this unit could actually improve.
TE - Jake Butt is holding his own as a somewhat underweight true freshman. If he adds the expected 20 pounds and refines his blocking and route running this offseason, he should improve. Hell, just being a yeal older and more experienced, alone, should result in some improvement. Ditto for AJ Williams.
RB - Yes, we lose Fitz. I am a fan of the guy, but he really has not been a huge factor this year. I put about 75% of that on the line, but the part that is his fault is his blocking and blitz pick-up. I know that many are disappointed in the super-hyped Derrick Green, but the kid is a true freshman who missed much of camp with an injury. Between him and Smith, I expect one of them to emerge as a competent back who is capable of success. At worst, this position is a neutral going into next year, and if Green can live up to most of his hype, this could be an improvement.
OL - I saved this for last, as it is the hardest one to be positive on. Brian predicts a line of Magnuson-Bosch-Glasgow-Kalis-Braden. I agree with this so lets use it as a basis for comparison. Losing Lewan, who is likely a first round pick, is a huge loss. But, Magnuson should slot in there, and the experience that he is gaining this year should help. He should also be able to put on 10-20 pounds during the offseason and be able to come in as a capable Lewan replacement. Again, he will not be Lewan, but perhaps he will not take 1-2 stupid penalties every game, either. At RT, we again lose a senior starter, but he will be replaced by Braden. Again, a downgrade, but if Braden lives up to some of his recruiting hype, he could also be a serviceable replacement. Now let's look at the middle: Bosch-Glasgow-Kalis are being replaced by Bosch-Glasgow-Kalis. Older, more experienced Bosch-Glasgow-Kalis, so that's a positive. So, while our tackles are now younger and less experienced, we make up for that in the middle. Also, I am hopeful that the trials and tribulations of this season, and a full offseason, will allow the line to gel and develop some chemistry. I call this a year to year neutral.
Which would you rather have for an offensive line:
[Sr-Fr-Fr-Fr-Sr.] or [So.-So.-So.-So.-So.]
It seems to me that the latter scenario is preferable. A couple good blocks on the outside doesn't really help you if the inside is constantly busting. Either way, I guess we'll find out in 2014.
Wow...2016 will be a make-or-break season for us!
I'm hopeful that the line can be better next year, but it's a leap of faith to say that it will probably be good enough to help get the team to 9-3. It's going to have to be better than it is this year to get to that record, because that's probably the best record we can realistically hope for this year, and next year's schedule is harder.
Is it harder? Outside of OSU, every other Big Ten team has recruited like shit so to think any of them will be better is silly. And we don't play Nebraska.
And even if our OL is the same as this year, our offense will still be pretty good (it's good this year despite the line) and our defense should be much better. 9-3 is reasonable and shouldbe the minimum goal.
On a quick note, don't forget about playing at ND, who has been recruiting quite well. That game and at OSU probably give you two losses.