I think the biggest question is Morris' redshirt status for next season. The coaching stuff seemed bullish on Bellomy last year but that could have just been coachspeak -- in a miracle world Gardner is protected by the OL enough next year (lol I know right) and the RS for Morris is possible, but signs point to no.
Revisiting Redshirts - 2013
Now that the regular season has ended for football we can spend the next couple of weeks reflecting on the various decisions and outcomes. I’m sure smarter people than I will analyze coaching and schematic decisions. Instead, I’ll address another topic that comes up often on the blog: the subject of red-shirting players. This post will look at the freshman class in the context of which ones were able to redshirt and which ones weren’t. Then we can debate these outcomes with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.
What makes this season so unusual was the significant number of close games. I suspect that after the first two wins over WMU and Notre Dame that the coaches were planning to give some young players some garbage time minutes against Akron and UConn to see if they would be viable rotation players later in the season. We all know how that turned out – with no other “blowout” wins the rest of the season except for Minnesota (how did that happen again?) and thus limited snaps for players who had seen garbage time minutes at the beginning of the season. You have to wonder how some players would have developed (Dymonte Thomas for example) had they been able to play more significant minutes early in the season.
Before we begin, let’s discuss the philosophy we’ll use when analyzing these players. You have no doubt heard Brian talk about the need to redshirt any player who isn’t an active member of the two deep. A classic example would be his man-crush – Dennis Norfleet. Instead of playing him a handful of snaps his entire freshman year, why not redshirt him and gain the benefit of a fifth season? In general I would agree with Brian’s philosophy – a healthy program redshirts as many players as possible, especially in the trenches. Wisconsin and Michigan State are good examples of this right now. However, I will cut the coaches some slack because I think Michigan is trying to build a program and dealing with limited upper classmen in the depth chart. If someone can help on special teams or with more practice time in the two-deep, we need them to play to make sure this coaching staff is in place when they are seniors (especially considering the recruiting success thus far under Hoke – more good players are on the way). Likewise, there are some recruits that may have a limited ceiling and may help the program the most in a limited role – picture Royce Jenkins-Stone – and getting them on the field for four years rather than five likely has a limited effect overall.
Now on to the 2013 freshman. I think we need a CHART. What you’ll see here is a list of the redshirts* and my assessment as to whether the correct decision was made by the coaches. Obviously the coaches know best and this is just one man's opinion of the redshirt status, but it should generate some interesting discussion in the comments.
|QB||Shane Morris||No||Necessary||Given that he played only one useless series against MSU and a single play when Gardner lost his helmet after the WMU game, it is tempting to say he should have redshirted. Unfortunately, the Bellamy injury made it necessary to develop him and he probably should have seen the field more to give Gardner a rest – we just couldn’t open up the lead enough. Tough call – he probably had to play.|
|RB||Derrick Green||No||Good||He got a fair number of carries and considering the struggles of the running game he probably should have gotten more.|
|RB||DeVeon Smith||No||Good||Given the promise he showed in limited carries and the struggles of the offense you can’t argue burning his redshirt, but you can argue they should have used him more. Prior to the Northwestern game I was advocating for him to have a mysterious back injury like Devin Gardner to reclaim his redshirt since he went weeks without seeing a carry. But in hindsight, he should have been given more carries, not a redshirt.|
|FB||Wyatt Shallman||Yes||Good||Given the depth at the position and his previous injuries, it was the right decision.|
|TE||Jake Butt||No||Good||Excellent decision as he was the only useful TE on the roster this year and should be a major contributor next season.|
|TE||Khalid Hill||Yes||Good||Considering how poorly the TE’s played for much of the season, it is tempting to have thrown him out there and see what you have. But remember that blocking was their issue and undersized freshmen are not going to be good at blocking…unless they come from Pahokee, FL.|
|WR||Da'Mario Jones||No||Poor||When your only notable play from the season is accidentally touching a muffed punt, a redshirt was probably warranted. If the coaches weren’t going to play him on offense but like his future, why not redshirt him?|
|WR||Jaron Dukes||Yes||Good||Hardly any young WR got significant snaps, wise to redshirt.|
|WR||Csont'e York||No||Questionable||Given that on paper neither Dukes or York project to be significant contributors with more heralded recruits at their position on the way, why not put one of them on special teams instead of Jones?|
|OL||Kyle Bosch||No||Questionable||When a guy starts multiple games you figure it was the correct decision to burn his redshirt. On top of that, this OL class had a full six members to it so splitting up their eligibility isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But given Bosch’s struggles and the fact that he ended up losing his job, you have to wonder if someone else (Kalis, Bryant, Miller, Braden, Bars) could have performed just as well.|
|Yes||Good||Had Kugler been healthy you have to wonder if he would have been the next man up in the revolving door that was the OL this season, but it was the right decision to keep all of these redshirts and hope for the best next season.|
|DL||Taco Charlton||No||Good||He made little impact, but he did end up a part of the rotation late in the season so it is hard to fault his playing time. Next season he should compete at WDE and SDE so the experience should help.|
|Yes||Good||Interior defensive linemen rarely contribute as freshman and you should try to keep their redshirts if at all possible (*cough* Will Campbell *cough*). Both could be in the rotation at positions of need next season and emulate the emergence of Willie Henry.|
|LB||Ben Gedeon||No||Good||When you have three viable LB in the rotation along with another playing significant snaps on special teams you would hope to redshirt a guy like Gedeon. But he was forced to play due to injury and actually did reasonably well.|
|LB||Mike McCray||Yes||Good||As a “tweener” linebacker with a lot of depth in front of him it was good to keep his redshirt.|
|No||Good||They had their struggles at times and you have to wonder if Hollowell could have emulated their performance, but you didn’t need to redshirt all of the freshmen. Their snaps were actually pretty high and they shared the “first DB off the bench” title this season. The two of them will compete for the nickel, safety, and dime positions next season.|
|Yes||Good||We had a glut of unheralded corners on the team this year so it was good to redshirt at least a couple of them.|
|DB||Dymonte Thomas||No||Good||He represents the biggest difference between expectation and performance of anyone in the class. That probably isn’t fair to him since our expectations were likely inflated, but it is a reality. The five star recruit was expected to be a major part of the rotation and instead barely played. He had an amazing blocked punt to start the season and then vanished until late when he struggled in a cameo at nickel back. His development next season will be very interesting as we desperately need help at safety, yet two of his classmates have passed him at nickel back and Peppers joins the squad in a similar capacity. Having his athleticism patrolling at free safety sounds intriguing, but he has a long way to go and lots of other DBs ahead of him on the depth chart.|
|DB||Delano Hill||No||Good||He was a constant presence on special teams and looks more like a linebacker than a safety out there…impressive for a freshman. Considering we need to find a starting safety for next season, getting game experience for a physically mature freshman isn’t a bad thing.|
|LS||Scott Sypniewski||Yes||Good||He’s a long snapper….|
If you look at the overall results, only D’Mario Jones jumps out as a major miss by the coaches. I would count Bosch, Morris, and York as questionable. Bosch and Morris were almost forced by the depth chart and injuries. York probably should have kept his redshirt, but his fifth year likely has limited value considering the incoming talent and depth at the position. That is a better result than I expected when I started this so I guess I have to applaud the coaches for their overall success in this area.
I wanted to end with my two-cents on Shane Morris. We can shake our fists at a variety of circumstances that prevented his redshirt this season, but let’s talk about next year. I’ve seen several comments on the board about trying to redshirt him next season. This is an interesting idea and has its upside. Certainly if Gardner plays 95% of the snaps next season you’d want to redshirt him and use Bellamy for emergency situations. But I don’t agree with that strategy. I think you need to take the opposite approach – Morris should play as much as the situation allows. Just to be clear, in no way am I advocating benching Gardner. What I’m actually suggesting is that the coaches should be trying to get Gardner out of the game more often to keep him healthy and get Morris snaps. We will need a starting quarterback in 2015 and getting real snaps can only help. Obviously we need to be able to get ahead to afford us the opportunity to pull Gardner, but I think they should also be more comfortable giving Gardner a series or two off so he can pick rib cartilage from his jersey.
Assuming Morris plays next season, he’ll have two years as a starter after Gardner leaves with Bellamy and Speight behind him. When Morris graduates you’ll have Speight as a junior ready to take over the spot and 2-3 more new recruits from 2015 and 2016 filling out the depth chart. The only scenario where I think redshirting Morris next season makes sense is if you think Bellamy is your second best QB and he is a legitimate contender to start in 2015. Otherwise I want Morris ready to step in right away if Gardner gets hurt or when he graduates.
* Note – There are a couple of players that I was a little unsure of so if you have conflicting information, post in the comments and I’ll update the chart.
Thank you for the effort required to complete this. It will make a nice reference tool. I agree with most of your comments, except on Bosch. Burning his redshirt seems like a huge gaffe, given his likely downstream contributions. It is difficult for me to imagine that his practice performance made him irrepressible. It feels like the coaching staff was grasping at straws trying to stop the bleeding up front. Hindsight makes this easy to criticize, but they are paid to make difficult decisions, and need to be held accountable for short term failures that hurt the program long term. Particularly true when the attempt is such an abject failure.
We don't know the whole story here, since we did not get to see practices.
What is clear, however, is that our play at OG was poor all season, and if a player demonstrated a realistic potential to exceed the performance of the current starter, he should get his chance. A redshirt should not keep a player that could contribute off the field.
I agree that perhaps Jones and York should have been redshirted. That said, special teams coverage busts were far better this year, and that comes down to the unit as a whole, not just the guy who makes the tackles (Chesson and Norfleet seemed to make all of them).
The rule above applies: if Jones and York were really significant upgrades on special teams, I'm glad they played. Who knows how bad the "next man up" would have been.
I think the decision to burn Taco's redshirt wasn't the best idea ever, i mean we had other viable options and he didn't start playing until late in the year.
I like that he played. Ojemudia played last year and got experience even though he was undersized (I think he was like 230 last year). Without him playing, they are only 2 deep (3 if you count Beyer) with PT at WDE right now.
I agree with you about Shane. He needs to get more playing time to be ready for 2015, or in case of injury to DG. Hopefully we aren't playing close games early in the season again next year, and can get him some significant time.
It kills me that Shane did not get a red shirt, but I understand why. Even so, can't a player still red shirt and at the same time dress for games just in case he is needed? I was thinking that even with the Bellamy injury, they could still give Shane a red shirt but have him dress for games. If it was absolutely necessary to use Shane, then fine, burn the red shirt, but if he wasn't needed but still available, then the red shirt would have remained in effect. Oh well, too late now, but hopefully the kid learns a lot and will be a superstar his junior and senior seasons. At least we know that Wilton Speight will and should get a red shirt in 2014.
You can dress as a RS player. IIRC RS players do not travel with the team for away games. But I guess you could always make an exception for a back-up QB though.
Either way, in hindsight, it seems like this would have been the way to go. But honestly, who thought DG would make it this whole season? Not me. They had to prep Shane for back-up duty plain and simple. So in the blow out over CMU, he gets his first action. And he should see about a whole games worth of action again Akron & Uconn, amirite? WRONG!
To clarify, there is no rule whatsoever about declaring a redshirt for a player until after the season. Let's use David Dawson as an example. He can dress for every game and the coaches can choose to bring him to away games if they feel there is room for him on the limited travel squad. He can take second team reps in practice. If he just happens to make it through the entire season without seeing a snap, then he can have his redshirt. At this point if they decided to play him in the bowl game for some crazy reason, he can certainly do that but he will have lost his redshirt.
What I think hurt both Shane and Dymonte was that they played against WMU because I'm sure the coaches expected to use/need them throughout the season. These are the guys who were probably most hurt by the narrow wins/losses throughout the rest of the schedule. I expect that the coaches were going to play them more significant minutes against Akron and UConn. But once they played a fair amount against WMU, their redshirts were burned. The only alternative would have been to sit them the rest of the year and fabricate an injury for them and hope the NCAA gives them a medical redshirt - that's very shady business and really only makes even a little sense with the benefit of hindsight.
Right, I didn't think the RS vs. Travel Roster thing is an actual rule, as much as it is a team policy. It makes sense to not have to watch an additional x amount of kids though.
I think you had pretty solid reasoning for everything, nice job. The burned redshirts that are the "easiest" to criticize are that way to us because of information we have now. They were still tough decisions, but would sound way more reasonable without knowing say, how few snaps Morris would get or how much pressure Taco would generate.
Why again is Dymonte a "good" burned shirt? You seemed to outline that he didn't contribute much all season. Add in the fact he just lost a year of eligibility, and to me that sounds like a bad decision.
To only redshirt 2 out of 6 DB's seems a little light as well...
As for burning shirts to play on special teams. I think that is stupid as hell. But then again, when did Michigan blow a special teams coverage this year? Maybe all that young talent really paid dividends. So although I am not a fan of the practice, it's hard to argue those results.
I think he definitely should have received a red shirt.
...but with Bellomy back next year and Gardner returning as well, would it be possible to redshirt Morris next year? It's weird, I don't hear about too many non-injury related redshirts past the true freshman season.
I am in favor of this. But at the same time, if Morris is better than Bellomy, you want Morris as your back-up. Remember Nebraska 2012? If that same thing were to happen next year, we lose a game we should have won, then the next game you're starting a QB who hasn't seen the field all year.
There is no "if." Shane is the better QB and the definite number two man.
I want to start by saying I really agree with Thomas and Morris. Morris needed to be there, it's really just as simple as that. Thomas was a very big contributer on special teams, and his athleticism was very apparent and likely needed and warrented. He is very raw as a DB (played LB in high school), he'll take some time to come around, but once it clicks he will be a good one.
One WR probably needed to burn their redshirt, not sure about both though. Again, special teams.
I disagree on Taco only because I think Clark and MO had a pretty good rotation there and I really like MO's future. But that may have been a decision to give the defense more flexibility going forward. You can play Clark perhaps a bit at SDE, play MO or Taco, etc. It may have been a decision between the two parties as well. Always tough to say. I don't think it's an awful burned redshirt by any means, I understand, would probably just have preferred a redshirt given how raw he was in terms of technique coming in.
I struggled with how to categorize this one. Playing Taco out of the blue late in the season surprised me and given his limited impact I can see why some people think he should have redshirted. Maybe that's one I should have changed in the table. I put "good" since he was clearly part of the rotation late in the year.
But looking at some of the comments, I now start to wonder why the coaches did decide to play him. Mario lost some snaps, Clark was doing pretty well, Beyer was available to play multiple positions, and the Wormley/Godin/Glasgow trifecta existed. I'm not quite sure why the coaches decided that Taco needed to start playing so late in the year. I have a theory though.
When the team started flailing about in November I think you started to see Hoke and Mattison start tinkering on defense in an attempt to compensate for the offensive issues. This is what Hoke knows, right? So maybe Hoke and Mattison got together and started trying to find levers to pull and buttons to push on defense. Considering that Taco probably looks awesome in practice against our woeful offensively line, that may have helped. Look at the somewhat odd changes you saw late in the year:
- Taco moves into the rotation
- Wilson and Gordon both lose playing time to Avery and Furman
- Thomas gets some run in a game after never seeing a defensive snap all year
- Morgon/Ross continue to lose a fair amount of playing time in a rotation with Bolden and even Gedeon
Anyway, it is just a theory. The concern with Taco is that Clark, Mario, and Beyer still exist on the depth chart and now without Deshawn Hand coming next year we could have used some separation in eligibility.
This is an under-discussed facet of the past season. The tinkering on the O-line is easy to rationalize. One can argue about the individual iterations, but certainly the need to try something was justified. The late season tinkering on D, particularly when it seemed like the defense was actually playing reasonably well, is harder to understand. And it really did seem like tinkering to try to get something to work better, rather than just getting a few deserving guys a few more snaps. Anyone have any insight here? Were certain players not playing because they were actually on double-secret probation? Were there coverage breakdowns or run game weaknesses that didn't actually get exploited to the point where the fans noticed them, but that the coaches saw on film and worried about? Were the coaches just desperate to upgrade the defense from an overall "B" grade to an overall "A" to compensate the inconsistency of the offense? Anyone have any insights here?
The way I think about the 2012 and 2013 class is that these are guys that should have been signed in previous classes, We banked a lot of schollies and had a roster full of holes. As such, it's not too surprising so many ended up playing.
Burning Da'Mario Jones's redshirt doesn't seem too bad to me, not really much different than all the others that only saw special teams time. If anything, Dymonte Thomas seemed like a worse choice given his supposed up-side (no offense to Jones and others). I think you're right that many of these guys missed out on playing time because there were no blow outs.
Bosch... *sigh*. That one hurts, but if you go back to the situation at the time, it's kinda hard to be too upset. The OL was in absolute free fall, we started Burzinyski and Magnuson for Indiana. When Burzinyski got hurt, Kalis was probably the only option left. I guess you could have put Bryant or Kalis back in, but it's tough to bench a guy and then have him right back in there. I'm also not so sure both those guys were healthy since they seemed to have a dramatic drop-off against Penn State. Long term, I think that does hurt us pretty bad since we probably really wanted to space out the huge OL classes in 2012 and 2013 as much as possible, with smaller classes in '14 and '15.
Not all players want to redshirt....So coaches can't make them if they don't want it. So the two WR might have been more of them refusing a redshirt and rather contribute on Special Teams than have a 5th year
Coaches have complete control over redshirts. If they don't want to let Jones and York play, they don't put them in the game. Even if a kid wants to play, he's only on the field if the coaches believe it's what's best for the team.
You have to earn your playing time. If Hoke burned ANY of these redshirts because a player talked him into it, then I would call that bad leadership and poor decision-making.
It's not always that simple. In recruiting, it may be necessary to promise some guys they won't be redshirted.
i think it would've been idea to redshirt one of the RBs to get some separation, effectively giving us an RB in the next class and a string of 3 highly touted RBs. blowing delano hill's redshirt and da'mario jones' also are pretty questionable in my book.
I mostly agree with your ratings, but I disagree on Delano Hill. He had a total of one tackle. I find it very difficult to believe that he made the special teams significantly better than his replacement would have, and that his contribution this year was worth forfeiting his 5th year senior season in 2017.
True freshmen usually do not play well on special teams as they are usually much more mistake-prone than veterans. I wouldn't burn a guy's redshirt just to play him on special teams unless he's a kicker, holder, or returner.
1. It's a little bit amazing to find so much agreement with so many different points covered. My only real quibble is with Bosch. Neither of us knows what he looked like in practice. Some players are said to look fantastic in practice only to find it doesn't translate well when the actual game rolls around. But you don't know that until you actually see him in the game.
Also, if you get some utility out of a player by burning his redshirt that's worth a lot more than a 5th year where the player has gone to the NFL. There would have been no benefit to giving Lewan a redshirt if he had decided to go to the pros after last year. There is no guarantee that Bosch won't go to the pros after his junior year, let alone a 5th year.
2. Please change "WMU" to "CMU" for the discussion of Shane M.
Thanks for your work on this.
The coaches were right to burn Bosch's redshirt. If they thought he should start several games, then it was the right move.
I give them a pass on Thomas. Everyone thought he would be a major contributor by the end of the season.
Nice analysis. I agree with your Morris opinion. Would like to see some more game situation experience in garbage time next year.
Quick question for the folks who are saying we shouldn't have burned Morris's redshirt. WHO THE HELL WAS GOING TO BE OUR BACKUP QUARTERBACK?
This should become regular annual content for mgoblog going forward.
Afor the question "WHO THE HELL WAS GOING TO BE OUR BACKUP QUARTERBACK?" in the CMU game couldn't the coaches have played Brian Cleary instead to preserve Morris's redshirt?
I think he's looking forward to a Nebraska type game where our starter gets injured and is effectively done for the year (as a QB). Are the results likely to be good if you throw a true freshman on the field against the toughest part of the schedule with zero game experience?
Brian Cleary? Look the question wasn't specifically talking about the cmu game I meant the outlook for the entire season. His redshirt was burned because he is the second best qb on our roster and if Devin went down we would need him to play. The coaches must have came to this conclusion and that's probably why his redshirt was burned and I don't have a problem with that.
We clearly had O-line "opportunities" this year so playing the best guy made sense.
Back in the "Bo" days, most O-line guys has to wait until their 3rd or 4th year to start. We haven't had a premier line since 2003, when Perry gashed Ohio and won the Doak Walker award.
Maybe in two years we can RS some more 4 and 5 star guys, but the difference between spread and power games makes us take risks.
obviously, we thought the CMU game was the beginning of something special and the guy would get meaningful snaps vs. Akron, UConn, and Indy.
Next year, I hope that he gets enough practice and game time to be fully ready for 2015 season.
Look at our home schedule in '15. MSU, Ohio, BYU, Oregon State, etc.
We open at Utah.
I want a guy to be able to handle pressure because THAT is the season to win a B1G title and maybe more.
RS-ing Shane will not help him.
A certain 3-time SB winner didn't get to start until his final 2 seasons at Michigan and did pretty well, not to mention his hot wife!
Bosch was the most ready to play of the 6 freshmen linemen. The previous class had 4. Burning his red shirt now gives us two back to back 5-linemen classes. It also avoids a six-man class that almost guarantees a guy seeing the writing on the wall and transferring.
Not to mention he wasn't much worse than Kalis/Bryant/etc.
Me burning Shane's redshirt against CMU was careless. In a game that is that far out of reach, getting him experience there would not have further prepared him for a game against osu or MSU or Nebraska. The plan this whole season, especially since Shane practically missed his senior season should have been to redshirt, he was not prepared to play and frankly, I doubt there was a huge difference between him and Cleary.
Shane played one snap against PSU, not WMU, and it's Bellomy, not Bellamy.
Oh, and I don't know if you want to add Terry Richardson to that list, because he redshirted this year, but he was a C/O 2012 guy.