fair point that
Back by popular demand, welcome to our gimmicky "Best Players of the Big Ten" #content where we draft teams out of the conference's top athletes and you either learn things about Michigan and its opponents or complain about how you don't care about someone else's fantasy draft.
Last time: Ace complained about going first, then got Nigel Hayes, Derrick Walton, and Denzel Valentine, while I tried to get 40 minutes out of two 20-minute bigs. As we resume, Alex is on the clock.
ALEX: Round 3, Pick 2: Malcolm Hill, Illinois
|Malcolm Hill was apparently in the building that day we were all staring at Jim Harbaugh and going "Man is this really happening?" [Eric Upchurch]|
TEAM: Bronson Koenig (PG, UW), Caris LeVert (SG, M), Malcolm Hill (PF, IL)
After going with backcourt players with my first two picks, I'll turn to a relatively shallow position group in the Big Ten: the stretch forward. As a sophomore at Illinois, Malcolm Hill was arguably the team's most valuable player*—playing most of his minutes at the four (though some at the three), Hill scored 14.4 points per game and posted a nice offensive rebounding rate (6.9) for his size (6'6).
But most importantly, he was very efficient—39% on three point attempts and 65% in the restricted area. For this season, he's expected to be Illinois's best player and its first option on offense. Those are responsibilities that might cut into his overall efficiency, seeing as how the Illini's next-best option is Kendrick Nunn.
But Hill would fit ideally next to Koenig and LeVert as a shooting specialist, above-average defender, and one of those invaluable 3/4 wings that can stretch the floor and create for themselves without sacrificing size or physicality inside on the other end of the floor. Additionally, he's still just a junior and could develop into something even better.
*Rayvonte Rice, who was a senior, was better, but missed over a month of conference play with an injury.
[Hit the JUMP to read about Big Ten basketball players in a kind of ranked order that tells you more about their value than "here's this list I made," or hit THE COMMENTS to complain that your mouse wheel had to scroll five entire clicks to skip this article.]
1 hour 57 minutes
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Not much of a game, which is a nice change of pace. A lot of callers this week so this segment has less podcast overlap than normal.
Gimmicky Top Five: Celebrities On The Sideline
Kevin Woodard of the Alumni Association joins us for this segment. We talk the folks who we would be the most delighted to see randomly appear on the sideline of Michigan Stadium. Despite this being an incredibly open gimmicky top five, Ace and I have the exact same person at #3. Kevin wins with his #1.
Kevin sticks around to talk about the Alumni Association's Bowl Tour, which will happen this year since Michigan will go to a bowl (high five), and wants you to know about Giving Blue Day, which is December 1st. This is an especially good year to give to signal your approval with the general direction of things.
Steve Lorenz of 247
New commit CO DE Carlo Kemp discussed; Steve believe his ranking is held down by his location. TX DT Chris Daniels was the lone official visitor for the Rutgers game and Michigan is very much in the mix for him. A colleague of Lorenz crystal ballzd FL LB Devin Bush to FSU; so did a couple of Oregon guys in re: Dylan Crawford. Steve ain't scurred.
We also talk Michigan's new focus on a serious preferred walk-on program as another way for Harbaugh to acquire any edge he can. In the segment I refer to a PWO offer who impressed me on HUDL; I can't remember his name. He is Tyler Lamica, a LB/RB out of Grand Rapids, and he seems like a Harbaugh type of guy on film.
Exhibition Basketball Chatter
Stock up: Walton, Robinson, Wagner. Stock maybe not so much: Donnal, MAAR (through no fault of his own).
Catch us Mondays 5-7 on 1050 WTKA.
THE USUAL LINKS
Earlier this year I asked coach Harbaugh about running Power, and he said the goal is to make the guard invisible. From your perspective, what are you looking for when you’re running Power?
“They tell us the guard is invisible. The guard is invisible, don’t pay attention to him. Stay on your landmark and if you see it, if you see the hole, it should be there but if anything pick up the guard. [/laughs] That guard’s invisible, but at the same time you can pick up the guard.”
One thing I was wondering is let’s say somebody shoots a gap or the hole collapses. What’s your next move? What do you do from there?
“I’m picking up the guard around, because he’s pulling around and I’m picking him up and he’s blocking for me.”
So you bounce it out?
How about Trap blocking? What are you looking for when you know it’s a Trap?
“Hmm, I don’t know. Just get to my landmark. Just get to my landmark and hit the hole is all I can think of.”
As far as landmarks go, is that different every play?
“Yeah, landmarks are different every play. It goes from- it just depends what we’re going to run.”
And that’s just the first thing you look for?
“Right. The first thing you look for is your landmark and staying on your track.”
[After THE JUMP: Blitz pickups, and the time Jim almost killed John Harbaugh]
Same as it ever was. Nothing changes.
— Michigan's Past (@MichiganHist) November 9, 2015
The king stay the king. Harbaugh twitter will always be delightful.
Remembering the captain and crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald today. God Bless You and Yours! https://t.co/OZl3bMYWuy
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) November 10, 2015
If you do not listen to this song, this whole song, he will find you.
The equivalent Harbaugh story here is doing pushups with mom at 3 AM. De'Veon Smith was on Inside Michigan Football last night, and said things that make you… uh… notice a contrast between recent Michigan coaching staffs. For one:
"Coach Hoke was a great coach, he meant a lot to me," Smith said. "He came over to my house one day and literally just fell asleep on the couch."
I hope this was unannounced. De'Veon Smith comes home finds that one of his windows is broken. Inside, Brady Hoke is splayed out on the couch covered in cheeto dust and pinecones. Smith ventures a poke in an attempt to wake Hoke up; Hoke mutters "I am the cheesemaster" and rolls over, inert. There he stays for the winter. When he awakes he demands to see the "cheesekeeper" and runs into the forest.
"I guess until this year I wasn't really taught properly how to pass protect and what are my keys exactly," Smith said. "And (running backs) coach (Tyrone) Wheatley is instilling that into in all the running backs.
"In previous years, we tried to cut-block somebody. We weren't aiming at the right spot to cut down somebody and now coach Wheatley has taught us to get up on them and get low on them whenever we have to cut them. All the coaching points are definitely the main difference from this offense and last year's offense."
Smith has been excellent in pass protection this year. Michigan ran a couple of smash combos in the Rutgers game in which he was tasked with cutting an unblocked DE and did it with aplomb.
Mizzou chaos. Mizzou's president resigned, their chancellor also got booted, and because the football team decided they'd join the protest several people are poking me to talk about it. So here we go. Hold on to your butts.
- If you don't understand what's going on, Bill Connelly's explainer is the best that I've found. I still fail to grasp why a few unrelated racial incidents—one of which saw the perpetrator expelled—blew up like it has, but the impression given off by the Connelly piece is that the upper echelons of Mizzou were taken over by Brandon types with an eye on the bottom line and the incorrect assumption that they had infinite political power. Yanking grad student (read: teacher) health insurance the day before classes is a Total Brandon Move. The inciting incidents here were a spark in a dry forest, to borrow Mark Bernstein's analogy.
- The football team joining the protest promises to be a watershed moment. The president was likely on his way out anyway, but for the axe to fall so quickly after the football team announced a boycott indicates the latent power athletes have. Mizzou was about to get hit very hard financially because the football team simply decide to not do stuff. That is power.
- This is still far away from the dread strike-for-money that will happen in the next decade, probably at the Final Four. The climate on the Mizzou campus during a campus-wide protest the aftermath of Ferguson is going to be a lot different than the climate if a team says it simply wants a piece of the pie. Whatever team does that is going to get it from both barrels nationwide. Mizzou's football team has largely been praised by non-ideological* media.
- Gary Pinkel trying to walk it back afterwards by saying it was about nothing other than the health and well-being of the student on a hunger strike is disappointing. If you're going to do it, do it. That's some phony PR right there.
The merits of the protest, its interpretation of what the First Amendment means, and the larger campus climate nationwide are outside the scope of this blog until such time as Michigan gets stuck in a similar morass. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.
*[yes yes all media is ideological especially that newspaper or that website here's a cookie]
Okay, Bill Plaschke. I'd link Drew Sharp if he was talking to Keith Jackson.
It is a voice still so memorable, people still call his home and hang up just to hear his greeting.
"If you're calling the Jacksons, you have succeeded," the voice says. "Help yourself."
I don't think that's how it works. The idea of a medical redshirt for Mario Ojemudia came up again:
Elsewhere, Harbaugh said Monday that the team is still in the process of appealing for an extra year of eligibility for injured senior buck linebacker Mario Ojemudia. The 6-foot-2, 252-pounder suffered season-ending Achilles tendon injury during the second half of the team's fifth game of the year -- a 28-0 win at Maryland.
Per the NCAA rulebook, medical hardship waivers (also known as medical redshirt years) can only be obtained (in a team sport) if three separate conditions are met. The injury must occur during one of the player's four seasons of eligibility, the injury has to have taken place prior to the second half of the player's season and the player has not participated in more than three contests (or 30 percent) of his or her season.
Ojemudia appeared in five games, which is obviously more than three/30 percent. Still, Harbaugh said the process of an appeal is still ongoing.
"There's an appeal process," Harbaugh said. "It's a process."
I assume this will get shot down because the NCAA has been very strict about keeping that rule intact, especially since they moved from 25% to 30% a few years back. I'd be really surprised if Michigan wins here.
Kickering, evaluated. SBN Auburn blog College & Magnolia piles field goal attempts from the last decade into a couple of graphs in an effort to evaluate kickers by the worth of their kickery. Average point value by distance:
Surprised a 50 yarder is a 50/50 proposition but I guess they don't throw you out there if you obviously can't make it.
Gets choppy at the end there for obvious reasons. C&M assigns points relative to expectation for the nation's kickers and finds Kenny Allen in a tie for 40th. That's about right since he's mostly hit mostly short field goals.
There are a couple of problems with this approach, It tends to give guys who don't have a big leg a pass for not attempting long field goals and it might underrate guys who end up with a lot of limited-upside chip shots relative to equivalent kickers who get more valuable attempts.
But it's a good first approximation, and Allen is about what we've seen: above average and not outstanding. FWIW, OSU currently is 116th. Jack Willoughby is 7/11 on the year and hasn't hit one from 40+. Just something to keep an eye on.
Smart Football back. Chris Brown has revived his blog until such time as someone else snaps him up. He talks packaged plays and how defenses are adapting to them:
In the below clip, Mariota is reading the backside inside linebacker — who is unblocked as the backside tackle is blocking out on the defensive end — to decide whether to hand off on an inside run or throw a slant into what should be a vacated area.
Yet even though the linebacker steps up for the run — and thus Mariota’s read takes him to the slant — the nickel defensive back had been reading Mariota’s eyes the entire time and he simply steps in front of the slant for a too-easy pick-six.
Does this mean defenses have figured these plays out? Not even close; one of the many reasons Whisenhunt got fired was because he had only superficially begun integrating these plays into his offense, rather than truly understanding how they fit together. But I’ve seen other examples of plays like this so far this year, and it’s evidence that defenses are catching up. That, of course, shouldn’t be a surprise. In football, nothing stays easy for long.
The Borges-Denard parallels are obvious.
Michigan hasn't had a ton of trouble with packaged plays this year since they tend to play a lot of man, FWIW.
Etc.: List of top uniforms has Michigan #1, Oregon #2, which is kind of an amazing list. Leaders have leadership. Dedicating Yost Field House. The Slippery Rock story. The dumbest game theory decision ever. Probably literally. LeMoyne things. Harbaugh's got it all.
Joe Bolden and Taco Charlton
Opponents only scored six touchdowns in the red zone on sixteen chances this year. What do you guys attribute your success in the red zone to?
JB: “Yeah, I mean, obviously as you get backed up- you never want to allow a team in the red zone- but when you get backed up it finally hits you and you can’t break. Ultimately when they’re in the red zone you want to hold them to three points. I think our mindset, our defensive mindset, is we don’t want them to have even three points. So, you line up to kick a field goal, we want to block it. I would say just the mindset we have when the ball gets down to the red zone.”
TC: “Yeah, to contribute to Joe, just give us a place to stand. That’s all we need. We just need a place to stand and we’ll make that stop. We have the confidence in ourselves. We know we have the coach in coach Durkin and all the coaches on the staff. They gave us all the abilities and we know we can get a stop if we get down there.”
Joe, your coach just got done talking about you guys playing the top three rated quarterbacks in the league the next three weeks. I know you’re focused on this one, but how much of an extra challenge do you take it when you face a guy who’s very efficient behind center?
“Yeah, a guy who knows how to manage a game, knows how to win football games, and having his ability playing- I think other guys on offense, when you have a good quarterback you have other guys playing off your quarterback, and it’s almost like a driving force for your team. Having guys behind the center and taking snaps with that ability, with that efficiency, I believe boosts your whole team: special teams, defense, offense. But really, when you look at all three of them and you look at especially Sudfeld, they’re all great players. Like I said, they manage the game of football very well.”
Talk about how the Michigan State loss opens the door for your Big Ten title hopes, and will you be rooting for Ohio State to give Michigan State a second loss because you need that to control your own destiny?
JB: “Yeah, it obviously helps us out. At the same time, not too worried about that. We’re worried about Indiana. Rooting for Ohio State is a very bad- I would say not a very good phrase. Obviously we want to get in the Big Ten championship, and for them to win that game here in a couple weeks would be awesome, but at the same time I don’t really care what happens there. All we care about is Saturday. We can’t get there without continuously winning.”
TC: “Yeah, we can’t control what Ohio State does or Michigan State does. We just control what we do, so we make sure that we gotta win to make sure we control our own destiny. Everything else we hope will take care of itself. Rooting for Ohio State? I don’t know if we can go that far with it.”
/silence while the microphones are redistributed
JB: “Nobody’s very talkative today. Used all your questions with coach Harbaugh.”
[After THE JUMP: De’Veon Smith and Ben Braden]
Is having a little bit more of a window to playing for the Big Ten championship something you even address with your team?
“I’m sure they’re aware of that, and…if not we’ll make them aware of it, but I’m sure they are.”
Just looking at some defensive stats: nine offensive touchdowns given up this year, twelve total. Can you talk about the evolution of this defense and the way it’s bounced back after those last two games?
“Yeah, doing some things that are great. But in terms of like answering the question of the evolution or how we got here or where we’re at and being in that position, we feel like we’re still asking questions. How can we get better? What can we improve? What else can we do to help our team improve? So, not so much the answering questions, more asking them about how to get better.”
Is there any one area specifically you feel like you guys want to improve more?
“No, not that list for you either. In all phases, in all areas. We’re constantly asking ourselves those questions.”
You weren’t happy about the intent to deceive call. Did you get anything that clarifies it more for you and how it’s going to be called in this league going forward?
“Yes. They said it wasn’t intent to deceive, it was intent to confuse. That was the own language that the official used. It’s…I take the rules very seriously, and understanding the rules, understanding the consistency, the clarity of rules, and not just the rules but the spirit of the rules and doing everything that we can to follow the rules, so yeah, I said I was offended after the game to have an unsportsmanlike conduct called on us and the language that they used…that’s offensive because we take it very seriously to know what to teach our players and tell our team.
“No, there’s still no rule in the rulebook that you can go back to and say that we broke. In fact, we asked for interpretation weeks ago and followed it to the best of our ability and…it needs specifics. What was it about it that made it an illegal play versus what would make it a legal play? I mean, everything else in the rulebook is specific, but this one seems to fall in a category that was left to judgment whether the other team’s trying to confuse the opponent, and that’s an awesome responsibility for anybody.
“And why have it? Why not specifically write it? How far can you be from the boundary, your widest eligible receiver during a substitution, after a substitution occurs? Is it in the bench area; has to be closer in the field to the numbers; outside of the bench area it can be closer to the sideline? But really there needs to be some specifics because that’s…that interpretation- we’ve put a lot of work into making sure we follow the rules and not just the letter but the spirit of them.
“Then you start thinking, playing the scenarios. I mean, what else could be deemed trying to confuse the defense? What would be next? Skipping the ball off the turf, if it were a backward pass where you skip it off the turf? Defense thinks that’s an incomplete pass, everybody stops, they pick it up, throw it, etc. I mean, those…need to have specifics on it. So that’s my feeling, yeah. Still remain offended by it.
“And I need some clarity and consistency on another thing I’m offended by: We’ve got a defenseless player covering a punt and he gets hit in the back, in our opinion, in the back of the head, which gets called a targeting foul. They go up to the booth and they say it’s not targeting, but no foul is incurred. It’s a…player, lines up a player- looks like he made a decision to hit him, hit him high, hit him in the back. At least should be a block in the back. Should be unsportsmanlike for making that play, so I’m offended for our defenseless player, so you can put that on the list of things. Top five.”
[After THE JUMP: “I love football, I love the University of Michigan, and I love coaching, and you can do all three of those. As my dad would say, ‘Who’s got it better than us?’ Nooobody.]
Cartwheels For Carlo
This is just great; newest Michigan pledge Carlo Kemp (Hello post here) filmed his commitment call to Jim Harbaugh:
"I had to do a cartwheel there" is an instant entry into the Jim Harbaugh Quote Hall of Fame.
The Denver Post has plenty of coverage on Kemp's commitment, including Kemp explaining why he made his decision:
"Do I see myself being there? Yes," Kemp said. "Definitely the town (Ann Arbor, Mich.) and atmosphere. And, of course, the academics at the forefront of it all. Michigan is one of the top, top academic programs and, of course, along with playing top-caliber football."
The chance to play for Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh, Kemp said, was also a huge factor as "everything I wanted is at Michigan."
Also of note from that article: Kemp will enroll early. And, of course, there's another great Harbaugh story, as Kemp's high school coach is the son of former Bo assistant (and later Colorado head coach) Bill McCartney, whose household served as the all-important sugar sanctuary for the Harbaugh children:
Tom McCartney recalled that he could consume his cereal of choice, but the only cereals permitted in the Harbaugh house "were healthy ones." Hence, John and Jim Harbaugh regularly went over to the McCartney household "for sugar cereal."
When Kemp and Pagano, who already knew about the cereal story, met with Jim Harbaugh last month while in Ann Arbor, they presented him with a gift from McCartney: a box of Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries cereal.
"That was our favorite cereal growing up," McCartney said.
Said Kemp: "Coach Harbaugh just started laughing when we gave it to him."
Harbaugh has great taste in cereal, even if Cinnamon Toast Crunch is the undisputed greatest cereal on Earth.
Kemp wasn't the only player to commit to the program this weekend; Bowling Green (KY) TE Dane Drobocky announced he'll join the team as a preferred walk-on in 2016, per Tim Sullivan. You can see his junior highlights on his Hudl page. The coaches are making a very concerted effort to build the preferred walk-on program; Drobocky is the third in this class, joining QB Michael Shuster and WR Simeon Smith, and several other PWO offers have gone out in the last couple weeks.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Rudock, you seemed really comfortable today. You weren’t 100% this week. Can you talk about your mindset out there?
“I’d say at this point in the season nobody’s feeling 100%. I felt good enough to go, which is all you need; the confidence to go out there and perform. Training staff did a great job of getting me ready to play.”
What did you guys see in looking at Rutgers this week to know that you were going to be able to throw the ball as well as you were able to today?
JB: “They run a lot of middle field open, like Cover 2 and stuff, and that’s one of our strong suits, attacking that kind of a defense. Kind of just liked our matchups against some of their secondary and linebackers and we were able to exploit that and kind of click on some of those balls today.”
Rudock, your rhythm tonight seemed to just have that in-the-zone look. Could you just explain it a little bit? I mean, this is a career high for you. Was this just one of those games where you felt it particularly?
“I think you get those games, as you were saying, but also kind of just getting into a rhythm. Whenever you see the ball get completed and completed you’re seeing the field well. That’s a big thing, and also I think that’s a big tribute to our coaches and really good scheme. All 11 guys on offense really understood and really took [inaudible].”
Jake Butt, take us through the intent to deceive play, like where were you and what did you think of the call?
“Yeah, I mean, I don’t know if there was an intent to deceive. I came off the field late. Got the sub call-in late and lined up. Got the look we wanted and completed the pass. I guess there was a flag. We weren’t really ready for the flag to be thrown but, you know, it happens.”
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest]