"He's a hard worker, and he watched me and Tim (Hardaway Jr.) and Nik (Stauksas) put work in to become (first-round picks), and I'm just happy he's getting better," Burke said. "It's great for the program, too. It shows what type of program the University of Michigan is and the direction it continues to go in."
Brink of the Brink. I jumped the gun yesterday by retweeting the Blade's Ryan Autullo, who reported Nathan Brink was hanging out on the first-team defensive line yesterday, and claiming this should deflate the Will Campbell hype balloon. It turns out reporters got to see a lot of stretching and not much else; the units out there were not exactly 20 minutes of solid evidence.
"I hate to ever talk about a young man because I think every time I do that they go right down in the tubes," Mattison said after yesterday's practice. "He has come out every day as tough as he can. He listens to [defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery] on every word. When he tells him to step a certain way, he tries to step a certain way. And he's really, really physical." …
"In the spring it was mentioned a number of times because his toughness stuck out like crazy," Mattison said.
The word of the day is always "physical" except when it's "toughness." It's a good sign for you when the coaches are describing you with the attributes they've been preaching nonstop since their arrival.
Is it good for Michigan? If you were under the impression Michigan wouldn't be rotating through walk-ons on its DL, no. That's been unlikely since those dual DT decommits on Signing Day two years ago, though.
Now you should brace for zing:
"Everybody's a scholarship football player to us," Mattison said. "The best 11, the best 12, the best 17, those guys are going to play."
This walk-on may be on the brink of doing that.
The other change. Is it alarming that Jibreel Black, who the coaches have been displeased with, was the other surprise first-team-ish player on the line yesterday? Probably not. An emailer relates that Craig Roh is sick. Not good but not a major problem unless it's mono.
Don't be mono, k thx.
might not be much bench time for this pair. via GBMW
Insidery scuttlebutt. Fall camps are full of temporary surprise starters as coaches test new things or dole out rewards and reprimands, so reading too much into any particular lineup is a constant threat. That said, a couple folk close to the program say Hawthorne has been playing well enough to warrant his shot at the first team. Consistency remains an issue. If Michigan can get production out of him that will be a bonus.
Other insidery nuggets: Demens has MLB locked down and is playing as well at that spot as anyone has in a while; Cam Gordon should hold off Jake Ryan for the SLB spot; Marell Evans has been a bit of disappointment.
Position switches. As media day content continues to trickle out information missed by folks moving to and fro amongst the panoply of assistants and players comes out. For example, there's a new contender at Safety Who Isn't Kovacs. Curt Mallory:
"Thomas has been playing nickel and also been playing safety. We're moving him around," Mallory said. "They will eventually [be interchangeable]. We went into it playing sides, and now as they've learned it, you can play your next best safety rather than next best strong or free. As we get closer to it we'll hone it in a bit and get guys where they best fit the defense. …
"No one's hiding. They all want to be out there, involved, competing. That's probably the most encouraging thing. If Thomas Gordon could, he'd be out there the whole time, and he's not the only one. That's good. They all want to be out there—it's a healthy thing because they are all helping one another."
I liked Gordon last year in the limited role (and limited time) he was allowed. He's dropped some weight and I'd be surprised if he wasn't the fastest guy competing to start at safety. (Furman is probably faster but no one mentions him as a threat to start this year.)
Mallory mentioned Countess, Taylor and Hollowell first amongst the freshmen corners, FWIW.
Rivals also has an article on Brennen Beyer's move to SLB. He won't be required to play this year and that sounds like a good thing:
It's a change because I haven't really played that before, but it's fun trying to learn as much as I can as fast as I can," Beyer said. … "Pass dropping, for one. I've never done that before," he said. "Playing while standing up—that's a little different."
"It was such a drastic change offensively that it really hasn't been aided [by their experience]," Hecklinski said. "We have to understand the intricacies that go along with the pro-style offense and the throwing game like we have.
"But, to their credit, they've worked hard throughout the summer. You can see a lot of good things throughout the summer. They came through and did the 7-on-7s and now we get a chance to look at them, you can see they've started to develop that timing and put things together. Now, we need to build on it, and we can hone it down to every little detail."
Practice buzz has been extremely happy with the unit as a whole despite the change; I'm guessing we see a preponderance of three-wide sets this fall. Four is a thing of the past but SDSU ran a lot of three-wide last year. With little established behind Koger at TE their other option is all I-Form.
Gallon is getting talked up, which is surprising. He was an impressive player in the Army Bowl as a recruit but couldn't find the field in an offense perhaps better suited for his talents—he mostly spent his time screwing up painfully on special teams. If he gets his act together he'd bring a YAC aspect Michigan's receivers are currently lacking. I'd bet this is more like Johnny Sears hype, though: encouragement more than accurate reporting.
Standard. More Fred Jackson: "I’ve very, very confident [in the future] because those two freshmen are good players. They are better than good. Both of them.”
I wouldn't assume that at all. Mattison has said that he wants 6 "starters" on the D-Line. BWC will be the starter and guys like Heininger and Brink will rotate in when he needs a rest. This coaching staff is all about developing depth. It looks like they are doing a good job of getting some of these walkons to play to a level where they are close to the starters.
"They will meet a dastardly fate here for that! There isn't a Michigan Man who wouldn't like go out and scalp those Buckeyes right now."
Is Hawthorne threatening for a first team spot at SS or WILL? In my mind he has been threw a bunch of position changes and can't remember where he is at now. Seems like it would be nice if someone had an impressive camp and grab that WILL spot.
I think that he has it in him to set a physical tone (yes, I said physical) for the defense along with Martin, RVB, and a few others.
Yesterday there was a thread that said that Shaw and Toussaint were running with the 1s at RB. The typical grain of salt that needs to be taken with pratice news should especially be taken when it comes to the running back position. Fred Jackson said that he's purposefully running guys with all of the units.
"All of the doughnuts have names that sound like prostitutes."
I think we need to avoid getting too exciting and thinking that Mattison was going to magically fix everything. If up front BWC finally gets it together and two out of three LB spots are solid that's pretty good. As for the secondary, if it's not a tire fire style disaster, that's improvement.
Given the fact the kids never had a chance to learn a scheme under the previous regime (switching to and from 3-3-5) I think it's reasonable to expect some confusion and posistion switches coming out of camp. What we really need to look for is improvement at the end of the year. Even if the guys are a little slow, a little undersized or whatever, as long as they look to "get" the scheme and their role near the end of the season I'm happy.
I guess in other words just accept blown plays are going to happen. Also accept that by the end of the year undersized linebackers might fill the proper gap, but will still be blown away by some massive fullback. If the staff can teach this kids techinque it's a good sign for the future.
i mean the usual: full season of Demens, Woolfolk back, MM has a DT next to him, no true freshman starters in the secondary, Roh hand in the dirt, RVB at SDE instead of DT (no true freshman Black getting trucked in the run game at that spot, not that I blame him), no gd 3 man line, no PSU confused scheme/position switch madness
This defense had better be improved.
We should expect:
- not to be gashed on the ground consistently
- that defensive stops will not be an anomaly
- we should look damn good against weaker competition (no UMASS)
- more sacks, more pressure
- yes, missed assignments and long pass plays
- but fewer missed assignments and long run plays
- 80 or so national rank, with upside; of course injuries at certain spots could really hurt
Is he at this point more of MIKE or SAM? It'd be nice for him to at least add depth somewhere and ensure that we not burn a redshirt for somone like Beyer, who should be good but needs to learn a new position.
It's possible we do see them split some time. Gordon's more athletic and would be more suited to cover tight ends/slot WR's. Ryan on the other hand is bigger and from the sounds of things more suited to stopping the run and getting in the backfield.
Safe to say we probably shouldn't be too concerned with the SAM position.
Kovacs is listed at 197. Carvin and Marvin are both listed at 200. Furman and Gordon, the biggest safeties on the team, are both 208. Yes, Kovacs is the smallest of the group, but not by enough to call him undersized.
The more I read of Fred Jackson's interviews, the more I get the sense that he thinks higher of the two freshman than he does of the returning players. (In Fred Jackson world, that is all relative - while Rawls is like Brandon Jacobs, only much bigger, much stronger, much faster, much smarter and with the ability to fly, Hopkins, for example, might only be like Brandon Jacobs, only better in most areas of the game.)
Seriously, though, it does seem like he is most excited for Rawls and Hayes. I doubt that either of these guys starts on 9/3, but by the time we hit the B10 schedule, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Rawls getting a large # of reps.
Also, discussed to death in other threads, but V. Smith seems like he would be perfect as whay Borges is calling a 3rd down back.