The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
Let's talk about the guys we haven't talked enough about yet. The breakout kids. The unexpected boons. Our pantheon of heroes:
Casey Stengel used to do this thing with the media where every year he'd point to a player on his team who wasn't already an established star (Gardner, Gallon, Lewan, Norfleet) and say "that guy is a lot better than people think." And that guy would have a really big year. Mentally (or mathematically if you're Mathlete) subtract John Q. MGoReader's expectation for the guys from your expectation for the guys this year, and tell us who's going to be surprisingly good?
BiSB: I'm on Team ACL this year. On the "breakout star" front, I'll go with BLAKE COUNTESS. I think a lot of people are expecting, or even hoping, that he'll come back
|Rev up the Countess hype again | Fuller|
approximately as he was as a freshman (which would still be pretty good), thinking his injury would offset whatever gains he has otherwise made. But we live in a world in which ACLs are repaired with unicorn dreams (or at least that's how Heiko explained it to me) and heal in six to nine months. Jake Ryan tore his five months ago, and is already running and doing lateral stuff. Countess is a full year removed, which in modern ACL years is "what, me worry?" I think on the conservative side we're going to get the Blake Countess we would have gotten in 2012, and on the upside we're looking at a guy who will compete with Bradley Roby and Darqueze "You Spelled Denard Wrong" Dennard for first team All B1G.
My "breakout contributor" guy is CHRIS WORMLEY, who also tore his ACL about a year ago. Heitzman is the starter at SDE, but Wormley can be a difference-maker. He's bigger and stronger than Heitzman, and already has a year in the system under his belt (even if a lot of that year was on an exercise bike). He'll get plenty of snaps anyway because of the depth at SDE and Mattison's love of DL rotation. He may never take over the starter label because Michigan doesn't really do the whole "roster update" thing, but I think by the end of the year he's the most effective guy at the position, and he'll be getting ~40% of the snaps.
Also, Norfleet will be the new Steve Breaston, by which I mean at some point a tight end will maddeningly refuse to pitch him the ball and as a result you will scream terrible terrible things to no one in particular.
Seth: NORFLEET IS ALREADY ESTABLISHED (else everyone would pick him)
[After the jump: NOT NORFLEET]
Coach: My pick is probably on the cheap and easy side, but I'm going with DEVIN FUNCHESS. He seemed to have a huge year last year because 1/3 of his catches were TD's, but he only had 15 receptions. With Darboh gone for the season and half of the receivers that will actually play being smaller than an average middle schooler, Funchess has to play a significant role in the offense. I think he catches 40 balls and around 8 TD's and becomes Gardner's second-favorite target behind Gallon.
Ace: I'll go with a guy a little further down the depth chart—surprisingly, given his (by my assumption, motivational) placement behind walk-on Ryan Glasgow—and pick WILLIE HENRY, who should rotate in heavily at three-tech. Henry flew under the radar as a recruit in large part because he didn't start until his senior season at a stacked Glenville program; once he got snaps, he put together one of the more impressive highlight tapes of any of the 2012 commits, regardless of star ratings—on play after play, he exploded off the line and wreaked havoc in the backfield, like so:
When it came time for ESPN's annual survey of the outgoing seniors, it was Henry—not Kyle Kalis, Ben Braden, Chris Wormley, or Jehu Chesson—who earned the nod as the best freshman who redshirted in 2012, called "strong as an ox" by one of the anonymous graduates, he was also consistently the subject of unsolicited praise in spring ball and from those who've observed fall camp. While his ability to bring it on every down may be in question, that's not what will be asked of him in 2013; Jibreel Black is the nominal starter at three-tech, and Wormley could rotate there situationally, which should allow Henry to bring it 100% when he gets snaps. As Michigan's largest—and, IME, most talented—three-tech, he should carve out a major role for himself, and I like his chances of making an impact as a disruptive force who can also hold the point of attack against power run teams, something that may be troublesome for 278-pound Black.
Brian: Man, Ace, you just rewrote Willie Henry's section of the season preview, except with a cool GIF. Eerie.
I'm really going to need some clarification on what breakout means, because I feel I can't pick the people I want to pick lest Seth mock me for saying they are too obvious. But I'm going to do it anyway. Screw you, Seth! You don't own me! I don't want your life!
DEVIN FUNCHESS. It doesn't get any more obvious than this, does it? Just 15 catches last year means he is in no way established. He had no more than one catch per game in all games after his Air Force breakout, and you just know that's killing everyone within a 50 mile radius of Ann Arbor, especially when the times where you do throw it to him are often touchdowns worthy of GIFs. With Darboh out, there's even more reason to believe Funchess will blow up. He's thicker, knows he needs to block, and remains the longest son of a gun east of the Pecos. Fifty catches, I say! Fifty!
JAMES ROSS. It does get more obvious! James Ross, crazy instinctive weakside linebacker. Forces Desmond Morgan over. Featured in Devin Gardner GIFs decleating people. Has started one game and therefore qualifies. Will be Larry Foote. Obvious.
And one weird one because the above is cheating.
|One of the tiny corners is going to work.
oh fine you people suck.
DELONTE HOLLOWELL. He's tiny but he tweets in all caps and damn if he hasn't been all over dudes in spring and fall. Allegedly. Hollowell has given the coaches enough confidence in him to do two things: move Courtney Avery to safety and Blake Countess to passing-down nickel. He's in hip pockets all over the field these days. Hell, he stayed with Jeremy Gallon a couple times in spring, and that never happens. If he was marginal, he'd be the nickel guy until Thomas is ready. He's the nickel field corner. Legit.
Mathlete: Does FITZGERALD TOUSSAINT count? I don't think anyone is talking talking about him significantly and although I hope Green/Smith is so good they blow him out of the water, but in all likelihood he is going to get a significant portion of the carries this year and probably do pretty well with them.
I know they are the two most obvious offensive players, but it still feels like there are significant portions of the non-MgoBlog fan base not yet realizing who awesome Gardner and Gallon are going to be. Obviously we know that but I feel like they are potentially underrated in comparison to the general expectations. Hard to tell if that's real or just my misconceptions from being a time zone away.
Now that I have thrown out three blatantly Seth-disapproved answers, I'll throw JEHU CHESSON out there. No experience, check. Opportunity to see quality time from day one, check. Unique skill (downfield speed), check. If Borges is going to insist on pushing the ball deep no matter what, Chesson seems like the guy most prepared to get under a few of them. It seems to me that he is the kind of guy who can have a couple 3 catches for 100 yards type days and follow them up 2 catches for 12 yards the next week. At this point, getting a reliable deep threat could be a major source of breakout optimism for Jehu Chesson.
|First we were super-psyched. Then he
was what we were psyched about. So…
psyched? | Fuller
Seth: Yeah, I was kind of thinking of Willie Henry answers, or like trying to get Heiko to commit fully to this "BEYER IS THE BESTEST OF SAMS" business.
But now I'm going to beat him to the other guy he's been on me about. If we're really going with how much we talk about a guy being not at all commensurate with the level he's probably going to contribute this year, JOE BOLDEN man. Recruiting profile had him the ninja of that stacked linebacker class, and with the current guys plus senior Kenny Demens they didn't think of redshirting him last year; by the end he was rotating in for near starter minutes. Bolden is not as intuitive as the savant James Ross, but that still leaves plenty of room Bolden to basically be young-Max Bullough.
Between platooning with Morgan on passing downs and rotating with Ross, Bolden is going to get a starter's time on the field this season. I thought last year he was on the verge of figuring things out, still a little hesitant before making the right read. A reasonable sophomore leap from that could put him behind only Dave Harris and the other current starting LBs in a list of Michigan's best linebackers since 2005.*
And since we're all throwing multiple guys out there too, put me down for two clicks of hype on KYLE KALIS, because we're all freaking out about interior line while forgetting one of those guys could be 1997 Hutchinson reincarnate.
BiSB: I almost chose Bolden and Ross over my guys. If "my guy" can be a position group, it's the linebackers by miles. And if Jake Ryan comes back anywhere near where he was last year... /refuses to allow self to contemplate such things.
Heiko: Since you all took my offense/defense dudes, I'm going to go with KENNY ALLEN. Guy was booming 60-yarders in practice on a consistent basis. I know Hoke says he's more comfortable with Wile, but I think we'll see Allen work his way into game action this year.
* I am put on this earth to make lists:
Never should have been starting: Ezeh, Roh as LB, Moundros, Thompson, Herron, McClintock, Leach, Panter…
iPhone autocorrect (this all comes from an email thread)
out of nowhere. he looks physical, he's got decent speed also.
He came with a lot of hype. Now suddenly he is near the bottom of depth chart and now people have very low expectation of him for the coming season. I think this was partly done to motivate him. He will be motivated and will do a lot better than what people are expecting now.
He seems like something of a forgotten guy, but Ohio people like Duane Long wanted him badly. He has a ton of potential by many accounts.
Put me down for Willie Henry and Channing Stribling.
Unless Henry is just the beneficiary of Mr Tight-Angle-I'll-Spotlight-Who-I-Want-to-Spotlight CTK Scrimmage producer, I think he'll play a major role on the line. The guy is big and capable of running sideline to sideline a la Ondre Pipkins. I've been buying his stock since his spring game outing.
I think Stribling will be your first guy in when Countess is playing nickel. He'll probably sub situationally and play significant minutes against tall receivers that would be a match-up problem on fades, etc.
Just from an opportunity standpoint, it seems like someone has the potential to break out as the third down back. Given his reputed skill set, I'd think Justice Hayes is the best candidate. He hasn't shown much so far in games, but his carries have mainly been in mop up duty, not the kind of plays that showcase his supposed ability as a receiver and space guy.
The caveat, if course, is how well he handles pass pro. If he can't do that (ala V. Smith) he probably won't see the field much.
All go with Ace on this one. He was, after all, the one very high on Gallon during last season's preview podcast and endured some light hearted mocking from Brian for saying Gallon would get 50 catches on the season...
When you could have chosen this excellent clip
Because really, if you're James Vanderbeek, what else are you up to?
Vanderbeek was awesome in "Don't Trust the B in Apt. 23." His ongoing performance made me surprisingly sad the show was cancelled.
Or a douchey version of himself? Because that's awesome.
He was playing a super-douchey version of himself. And it was awesome.
that show was kind og silly, but he was hysterical, and I was upset when it went off just because I would not see more of his character.
I believe there will be a number of individuals who step up this year.
I think Glasgow and Miller will hold their own on the interior.
I think the D line will be pretty damn good. If anything, they should be able to wear out opposing O lines.
I'm thinking we'll see freshman again at LB (Gedeon and McCray). Anxious to see how they look.
Reynolds and Jackson could have a suprising season.
Put me down for 5 sacks this year. Teams aren't going to be able to run, and on passing downs, GMat is going to run out a line of Clark, Wormley, Black and Oj. Mario will win his fair share of races to the QB.
I'd go with Stribling on defense and Kerridge (in an unsung hero kind of way) on offense.
I don't think either will show-up in the box score too often, but both will be crucial components of our success this season.
Ondre Pipkins will be a significant difference-maker, although Mattison's comments in the presser imply that Ondre still has a way to go.
I'll go with the Chess brother - Jehu CHESSon and Devin FunCHESS.
[insert lame chess pun here]
I am really enjoying the weekly obsessions, and how varied the answers can be.
Suggestion for future Obession: who is mostly to prove the Heininger Certainty Principle/Theory this year?
Did I really read through all that without anyone mentioning Clark? I mean, yeah, everyone says it, but he hasn't actually, you know, done anything on the field yet.
Taco will make some game changer plays this season... Chesson too, but probably only against bad teams unfortunately. But I'm still picturing Manningham vs ND & hoping. .. The board picked too many guys that played A LOT of snaps last season IMO!