further adventures in Jed York being unsuited for his position
things were bad all around when Bump was doing his best
Bad times man
Could this year be the first year that all three major sports missed the post season?
I tried to look it up but realized I was wasting too much time doing so.
Thanks for the leg work. Sorry for bringing it up, though.
This isn't actually that hard to do. Michigan had a 30-some year bowl streak starting with Bo and a 22-year tourney streak starting early in the Red era. Basketball made the tournament the last two years, so we start with 1974 and go back from there. So:
- Hockey had a tourney drought from 1965 to 1976(!)
- Basketball made it in '74, reaching the Elite Eight, but hadn't made the tourney since 1966 previously.
- It was Rose or nothing for football back then, and nothing happened in 1974 and 1973
So, 1973. Meanwhile, the late sixties were not much fun to be a Michigan fan, with no postseason appearances from the big three from 66 to the 1970 Rose Bowl.
Hockey still has a shot to avoid the trifecta. Also HARBAUGH
Why in the world does a coach as good as Beilein continually pull the autobench? Which is basically taking the penalty for a crime you haven't committed yet. Also, what's the team's +/- in the last 5 minutes of the first half this season? That seems like when the autobench would be hurting us. Thanks.
Funny you should ask that, I was just about to—
BAH GAWD THAT'S ZACH JONES'S MUSIC
Given the discussion via both the website and Twitter today railing against the autobench, I put together the attached file to see what's actually going on. Thought you might be interested in the results. Dan Dakich said something interesting during the broadcast about people not talking enough about the importance of the time at the end of the first half on the outcome of a game. I've always thought this, as well, so I also put in a +/- on Michigan's performance from the final media timeout of the first half to halftime [in both autobench and non-autobench situations].
The document is here if you want to look at the details. The summary data follows.
The first column is Michigan's overall margin at the end of the game. The second is Michigan's performance in the last four minutes of the first half in all games; the third is Michigan's margin in autobench situations.
parens means negative numbers
The conclusion seems to be that John Beilein has not adapted his autobench policy to the injuries of Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton, and is still coaching like he has solid depth. This is emphatically not true, as the result of the autobench today put Andrew Dakich and Sean Lonergan on the floor for extended time.
Anyway, like I said, I thought you might find this interesting.
This was pre-Northwestern but with the only autobench in NW coming from Kam Chatman it's still accurate. Most of Michigan's deficit in Big Ten play post-injuries has come in autobench situations.
Autobench was a reasonable strategy earlier in the year when the guy coming off the bench was usually Spike (or Spike was the autobench subject). Lately it has gone very un-well.
These are tiny sample sizes that you can't draw any statistically significant conclusions from, but they do confirm the eyeball test. Michigan scored once in ten possessions at the end of the first half when Irvin and MAAR were benched, and that was the difference. MAAR's absence in the MSU game corresponded with a huge MSU run that put that game out of reach.
It's one thing to bring Dawkins or MAAR or Spike into the game because one of your guys has a couple fouls. It's another to have a lineup with Lonergan and Dakich on the floor.
The other recent controversy.
I watch the multiple M games with my Michigan grad neighbor and occasionally we get into battles about Michigan coaching strategy. This came into fruition during the NW game in both the regular time and the OT. I have always held the strategy: if it is under the shot clock (35 seconds left ) with a lead of over 2 points you should foul with the ball under ½ court with the opposing player in no act of shooting. This holds true especially in the 1-and-1 and with a timeout (to escape the trap by calling timeout). My theory is that you give the opposing team no chance to tie the game on their possession. Add to that if the ball is brought up court by a poor free throw shooter, to miss the 1-and-1 reduces dramatically to the 2 points awarded. I also have a time out to call in the event of an inbounds trap. The net is you give up 2 points max up by one with an out of bounds pass and a timeout. You inbounds the pass up by one shooting a 1:1 probably immediately fouled.
My neighbor argues that playing good defense is a valid strategy, citing the NW player stepping out of bounds giving Michigan the ball.
We would have won the game at Northwestern if we deployed this strategy in both the regular time and/or the overtime. We let them win by two miracle Trey Burke shots to tie that never should have happened. Please convince me by math that I am not insane that the “prevent” defense in college basketball is not better than in the NFL and insanely underutilized.
I am #teamfoul all the way, but any discussion of this has to point out the most extensive study of this decision on the college level was done by Ken Pomeroy and it didn't show what you think it might:
W L OT Win% Cases Foul 122 5 11 92.0 138 Defend 598 2 76 93.5 676
(That post was spurred by Ben Brust's DEATH TO BACKBOARDS heave, because of course.)
Now: fouling does prevent OT. 13% of "defend" instances made it to an extra five minutes. 8% of "foul" instances did. The increased chance of an insta-loss offset that in a sample size that's suggestive but not definitive.
So. Despite being #teamfoul, this is the kind of game theory noodling that is way less significant than anything that gets you a single extra point over the course of 40 minutes. There are some game theory noodles that are worth exploring (fourth down decisions in football, calling your f-ing timeouts when the opponent has first and goal). This one appears to be marginal.
The more important thing is what the hell Bielfeldt was thinking when Olah set a screen for Demps in that situation. There is no way Demps should have been that open.
[After THE JUMP: Mary Sue Coleman's role in Brandongate, Mike McCray deployment, #harbaugheffect]
Not fair comparing Peppers to humans. [Upchurch]
Ace: Since there's always at least one: Who do you think becomes this year's Spring Breakout Guy?
Alex Cook (hoops beat): Can I answer with Jabrill Peppers? Last year was a complete and unmitigated disaster -- even our best recruit (of the past decade and perhaps longer) went down with an injury and missed pretty much the whole season. It's going to be easy for the national media to forget about him: Peppers didn't make any noise last year -- because of injury -- and Michigan isn't expected to do a whole lot (though we do have Harbaugh, which will be a well-tracked national storyline).
|I like big butts and we cannot lie, when we’re building an offensive line. When a kid walks in with fleet-foot spin, and lower-body weight you get sprung! [Upchurch]|
I'm a True Believer when it comes to Jabrill Peppers, especially after the move to safety, where he can be in the box and play a coverage guy in equal turn. The guy has "future top ten pick" written all over him and I'm guessing we'll hear all about that as spring progresses.
Seth: Yeah it'll be Peppers though we've been stoking that flame so long it can't be that much of a surprise when it goes up. So in the spirit of the annual "hey look what we found" of Spring let's go for a surprise candidate.
Logan Tuley-Tillman is what NFL left tackles are supposed to look like at 20 years old. Here's a guy who dropped 20 lbs from high school, then built back 10. He also had a hand injury last year to explain why he couldn't compete with a true freshman.
Brian on Monday mentioned a practice observer said the light went on. When that happens to a guy whose build matches the Michael Oher description from Blind Side, that means a Jake Long is born.
For LTT to crack the starting lineup now would mean he beat out (probably) Magnuson and Braden, two guys with 23 starts between them. Word from practice so far seems to be emphasizing that Cole and Miller are the only two OL from last year's unit who've locked down a job, then peg Cole as maybe moving to guard or RT. Reading between the lines it seems somebody’s job’s under fire from one of underclassmen. It could as well be Dawson—perhaps he can pull?—pushing from behind, since I’ve also read nice things about him coming out of practice, but the Cole thing suggests it’s a tackle who’s upsetting the standard order, and if that tackle was Magnuson we’d be hearing they plan to find a spot for Mags. Fox is still hurt, so that leaves JBB or LTT, and people are talking about the latter.
[Jump for more things Harbaugh makes better]
The good news: Zak Irvin is going to be really good. Aubrey Dawkins isn't too bad, either.
The bad news: The rest of that happened.
I'm going to bed.
This is the second installment of a comprehensive look at quarterbacks whom Jim Harbaugh recruited and coached. Part 1 looked at his WKU recruits, his work with the Oakland Raiders, and his first head coaching job at San Diego. A few trends that came out:
- He recruits at least two QBs per class
- They tend to look like shooting guards: tall, athletic, gangly, on the border of dual-threat/pro-style. He scouts them at multiple sports.
- Their teams usually perform above or far above the usual for that program.
- He likes them smart.
We are now entering the Stanford phase, so it’s a good thing we could notice item #4 above before the sample was ruined.
We also got an idea of how Harbaugh coaches them. He likes his heady guys to memorize a million things they can think about pre-snap. When he has one of those guys, they go to the line with three plays called, and the quarterback decides which by defensive alignment. Conversely, post-snap reads are super-simplified and drilled mercilessly so that his QB barely has to think about his progressions during a play.
This week we get into his last two stops before Michigan.
Head coach and quarterbacks coach, 2007-'10
2007: Harbaugh took over at Stanford in December 2006 with Kellen Kiilsguaard, a high three-star dual-threat, and L.D. Crow, an early-recruited academic from the South, already committed. Crow was on a lot of 2007 early watch lists (I know because I was reading those religiously for Mallett news) and Stanford's first commit of that class, but he was passed by a lot of guys by Signing Day (not Nick Foles, Kellen Moore, or Ryan Lindley). Kiilsguaard would eventually switch to safety. Harbaugh couldn't lure another QB but did get a transfer from Michigan. MGoBlog's Brian Cook:
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jason Forcier can read the writing on the wall -- it says "Jesus Christ, that kid can throw eighty yards" -- and is transferring to Stanford effective at the end of the semester. Lloyd is not happy about it.
Forcier, like all Forciers, was an accurate Marinovich project with enough legs to be classified as a dual-threat but not enough to overshadow his passing.
On the roster were a pair of fliers in Alex Loukas, a 6'4/193 Purdue-al-threat (see: every other Purdue quarterback of the period), and Marcus Rance, a barely three-star guy from Washington whose next best offer was Idaho. Harbaugh also inherited a 5th year senior and on-and-off starter in T.C. Ostrander, an Elite 11 prospect who signed as a 4-star and two spots below Brady Quinn in a deep year for pro-style QBs. Ostrander split time with 2006 3rd round draft pick (and former 5-star) Trent Edwards for three seasons.
Last among inherited bullets was Tavita Pritchard, a 2005 3-star pro-style guy ranked just behind Colt McCoy. Pritchard had thrown one pass—that incomplete—and was sacked on three other career snaps before Harbaugh arrived.
Ostrander suffered a seizure the week Stanford would go into #1 USC as 41-point underdogs. Against a brutal defense, Pritchard wasn't doing too hot—he'd go 11/30 for 149 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT in that game. But then 20 of those yards were a laser to Richard Sherman, and another 10 were the fade to Mark Bradford to win it. Pete Carroll wanted to know what Harbaugh's deal was.
Harbaugh's deal was he was recruiting quarterbacks. Andrew Luck committed at the end of June 2007, before Stanford had played a game under Harbaugh. The interest in Stanford was already there for the academic Texan, and meeting Jim sealed it.
Jim continued to recruit a second QB for the class. Targets included Dayne Crist (Notre Dame), Jerome Tiller (ISU), Sean Renfree (Duke), Ted Stachitas (Wake Forest), Wayne Warren (Rutgers), B.R. Holbrook (New Mexico), and another Texas prospect, Robert Griffin III. RGIII turned down Harbaugh's offer because of Stanford's admissions policy:
“I was graduating early, and Stanford wasn’t allowing early graduates to enroll and that was the biggest issue,” Griffin said.
So Stanford wound up with just one quarterback for the class. Luck was the epitome of the Harbaugh quarterback recruit: valedictorian smart, extremely productive in high school, cool demeanor, and some wiggle. Under Harabaugh he would develop into the best pro prospect since Peyton Manning, whom Luck displaced.
|Year||W-L||Player||Att||Cmp%||Yds||Rtg||Att||Yds||YPP||TD Rate||Int Rt|
TD rate and INT rate on the right are percentages for all attempts (passing and rushing
The sophomore Luck won the job over the incumbent senior Pritchard in 2009, but it was his junior season, 2010, when he really became Andrew Luck.
[Jump for 2009-2010 targets and the San Francisco story]
Michigan (14-14, 7-9 B1G) at
Northwestern (14-5, 5-11)
|WHEN||9 pm ET, Tuesday|
|LINE||Northwestern -2 (KenPom)|
PBP: Dave Revsine
Analyst: Jim Jackson
Right: Rahk had nine points on seven shots in the first matchup. [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]
Derrick Walton is still expected to sit out, though he did at least travel to Maryland on Saturday.
THE LAST TIME
Thanks to a strong all-around performance by Caris LeVert and a missed layup by Northwestern's Bryant McIntosh on the game's final possession, Michigan escaped with a 56-54 win at Crisler back in mid-January. A solid outing from Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman covered for the absence of a sick Spike Albrecht. The efforts of those two and Derrick Walton—who hit some timely threes—were just enough to overcome a 22-point game from Wildcats center Alex Olah.
On that fateful final play, LeVert came up limping. We'd soon learn he was out for the rest of the season. Michigan, 4-2 in the conference after the win, has gone 3-7 since.
This is close to a must-win for Michigan if they want to get into the NIT. While a losing record no longer automatically disqualifies a team from making the NIT, no such team has been selected; Michigan would need to beat Rutgers and win the 8/9 game in the Big Ten Tournament just to get back to .500. (I don't believe the NIT counts the victory over Hillsdale, a D-II team.) That wouldn't necessarily guarantee Michigan gets in—they'd probably have to pull a huge upset over Wisconsin in the next round to lock down a spot.
Needless to say, the path to the NIT is a whole lot easier if Michigan wins the remaining two regular season games. At that point, they'd probably only need to win one game in the conference tournament to feel good about their postseason standing.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||30||Bryant McIntosh||Fr.||6'3, 177||85||24||No|
|Decent scorer, high assist rate. Not remarkably efficient, but can create.|
|G||14||Tre Demps||Jr.||6'3, 198||82||24||Not really|
|Takes a ton of shots but isn't a great shooter: 48/33/65 2P/3P/FT%.|
|G/F||20||Scottie Lindsey||Fr.||6'5, 175||41||15||No|
|Low usage, mostly out there for defense. Struggling with shot.|
|F||34||Sanjay Lumpkin||So.||6'6, 220||85||10||Not Really|
|Minuscule usage, efficiency has plummeted in B1G play. Meh rebounder.|
|C||22||Alex Olah||Jr.||7'0, 270||72||25||Yes|
|Good rebounder, shot-blocker. Not a great finisher, but has range.|
|F||4||Vic Law||Fr.||6'7, 185||53||20||Not really|
|Good defender, rebounder whose offensive game is still developing.|
|G||23||JerShon Cobb||Sr.||6'5, 208||36||15||No|
|Spot-up shooter (36% 3P) missed last six games due to injury. Questionable.|
|F||32||Nathan Taphorn||So.||6'7, 215||20||18||No|
|Hitting 59% of twos and 50% of threes in limited opportunities.|
Northwestern's loss to Michigan was their fourth defeat in what would become a ten-game losing streak—they didn't win a game between December 30th and February 15th. The Wildcats then ripped off four straight wins, beating Iowa, Minnesota, Penn State (60-39!), and Indiana; three of those came at home. Most recently, they got crushed at Illinois.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Yee baby yee. Jordan Morgan is playing overseas, and has found out that Hardaway and father are chicken spokespersons in Turkey.
So things are going to go okay for THJ if he ever has to seek asylum in Turkey. People will recognize him and give him succor in the form of chicken for reasons they no longer remember. And then he doesn't have to be on the Knicks anymore!
Speaking of Euro basketball. Hello post incoming?
Alba Berlin standout in #AdidasNGT Moritz Wagner, im told next year will go to NCAA. Michigan is no.1 option.
— Vedran Modrić (@vedranmo) March 1, 2015
Depending on who you talk to and when, Wagner's either 6'9" or 6'10" and displays the advanced ball skills typical of euro bigs. He could be a 4 or 5, maybe even a 3 if Michigan rolls a natural 20. Meanwhile check this court out:
That court hosts seventy different sports. Several of them haven't even been invented yet. Also, they emphatically do not call technicals for hanging on the rim in whatever league he's playing.
Beilein visited Wagner in November and Michigan could use a flexible player who could fill in at either of the frontcourt spots.
And let's check in with the German perspective:
In the first days of pre-season, the heads of coaches full of question marks. Which fragrance brands are the new ones such as the elderly respond? How fit all?
Google translate is getting really good these days.
Flippin. Dang son.
— Blake Countess (@TheeCount2) February 27, 2015
Countess for alumni cheerleader?
It lives. We've addressed Texas's Brandon problem occasionally in this space, usually when referring to the Longhorns' spectacularly tone-deaf, loathsome women's AD Christine Plonsky or branding-means-you-brand true believer Steve Patterson, the AD proper. Patterson has pissed off a lot of people in a manner similar to Michigan's dear departed, though I don't think he's firing off the emails just yet. Chip Brown has talked with the big ballers in Austin and comes back with quotes ominous for Patterson's future:
“It’s clear Steve Patterson is a numbers guy. Well, you can reach all your numbers and have it be a complete failure if you alienate important people along the way,” said one key UT donor who has been left cold by Patterson.
“It’s also how it’s done. This place is too important to too many people for athletics to be run like some cold, bottom-line pro franchise front office. I see a lot of John Mackovic in Patterson. Mackovic tried to tell us how to think and how it was going to be, alienated people, and at the first sight of trouble, he was gone.”
If Charlie Strong doesn't make it, Patterson will be quickly disposed of. Patterson's made the mistake of pissing off the men with money instead of the hoi polloi, who are less easily roused to rebellion.
I wonder why you're failing. I haven't talked much about the local media landscape in a while because we're clearly in the "…and then you win" segment of the process. Teams have their in-house organs, it's difficult to tell some of them from purportedly neutral guys at papers—Vincent Goodwill went from embarrassingly carrying water for Joe Dumars to literally working for the Bulls—and the bleeding has gone from layoffs everywhere to weird infosec campaigns to get guys to resign.
As a result of Goodwill's departure, barely-literate Terry Foster has been thrown back on the Pistons beat. He's taking the idea he should actually work for the paper that's been inexplicably paying him for decades hard:
He is complaining about an NBA beat that several thousand people in this state would get a tattoo on their forehead for. Jeff Moss has broken a lot of media stories over the past few years and reports that Foster's getting six digits from the News. That's incredible: Foster's contribution there has been the occasional slapdash column his editors have to turn into English. For years.
And they can't just get rid of the guy for some reason. Even if Mitch Albom's contributions to the Free Press consist of Borscht belt jokes so lame his colleagues are calling him out on his terrible columns, at least you can argue that Captain Fun Death Times has a certain cachet with the demographic that still subscribes to a newspaper. Terry Foster? Who does Terry Foster appeal to? Maybe his family, if they haven't read his output in a decade.
A sane organization would have fired Terry Foster years ago.
Gibbons compare and contrast. Rasheed Sulaimon's dismissal from Duke stems from rape allegations that were never followed up on by the alleged victims or the university itself. A basic timeline:
- October 2013: student says in a "large group setting" at a diversity retreat that Sulaimon sexually assaulted her.
- February 2014: at subsequent diversity retreat, a second student asserted the same thing.
- March 2014: unnamed person affiliated with basketball program (manager? teammate?) brings this information to the team psychologist; from there it goes to the rest of the program.
- January 2015: intern quits based on finding this out, gets lectured by the designated fireman Duke has, six days later Sulaimon is dismissed for vague failure to live up to program standards.
A couple people have emailed wondering about parallels here. There aren't many. Gibbons was the subject of a complaint that the university evaluated, deciding to expel him. Nobody even went so far as to pursue that remedy at Duke despite the anonymity offered by that process; Duke either put restrictions on Sulaimon that he failed to live up to or panicked and booted him after intern incident made them afraid they were about to have this hit the media. One doesn't reflect on the other.
I can't say much more without running afoul of no polo, but I don't know what the hell a coach is supposed to do in that situation. The only group of people less qualified to adjudicate a sexual assault accusation than university bureaucrats is the coaching fraternity, and with no one pursuing any kind of sanction it seems impossible to boot a guy because some people said some things that no one evaluated.
Michigan's case was much more clear cut, with significant physical evidence addressed by a neutral (or at least an attempt at a neutral) evaluation, and then the subsequent PR incompetence.
It was always such. Analytics has won and is in its hot moment, which means a lot of people who don't know their ass from a properly-deployed regression are prominent. This is more prominent now but nothing new: witness David Berri, PRINCETON(!) economist and crazy person.
Except PRINCETON economist David Berri is not actually that, and apparently never was?
Berri graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University with a B.A. in economics in 1991, and earned both his M.A. and Ph.D. from Colorado State University. He taught economics at Coe College and California State University-Bakersfield before accepting a position at Southern Utah University in 2008.
No offense to any of those fine institutions, but if this was clear from the start maybe we don't have to deal with the scourge of this guy in the first place. All have the salutary property that anyone hailing from one of their institutions has to actually explain themselves instead of just saying "I'm from PRINCETON."
[I hope I get to overuse this screen cap by the time the season ends]
Friday, February 27, 2015
Michigan 3 Wisconsin 0
Michigan 1 Wisconsin 0 PPG 01:35 Hyman (19) from Nieves (17) and Werenski (15)
Boo Nieves sets a screen for Zach Werenski, who is skating toward the blue line. Werenski draws a defender high; Nieves stays stationary. Werenski passes to Nieves before the defender can make a play on the puck, and Nieves takes off for the net unscathed.
Nieves makes a simple pass to Zach Hyman.
Hyman is looking to the opposite faceoff circle, but the puck never gets there. It hits the leg of the netfront defenseman and is deflected into the top corner.
You may remember me from such emoticons as ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
[After THE JUMP: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ redux]
play this man in all kinds of weather [Bryan Fuller]
Autobench bitchin'. 1-3-1 after halftime not a great move. Would still give Beilein all my food. In praise of Spike. Center position down the road. Dawkins offer lack confusion part sixteen. Chatman! Life!
Back in it. Margin of error very slim now. Werenski a terror on both ends, no matter who's defending. Goalie business.
GIMMICKY SPRING PRACTICE SECTION
TOP FIVES! Our top five most secure and least secure projected starters. You'll never guess what our least secure spot is. (You have never seen football and are naming positions in cricket.)
"Across 110th Street"
"King of the Road," (spectacularly drunk) REM
"Wabash Cannonball," Townes Van Zandt
"Hercules," Aaron Neville
THE USUAL LINKS
Will Costello Visit? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Michigan's top target at quarterback, California four-star KJ Costello, has repeatedly stated his intention to take a trip to Ann Arbor in the near future; he's also hinted at a forthcoming decision.
Several reporters caught up with Costello at the Pylon National 7-on-7 Championship last weekend in Las Vegas, and it's unclear whether or not he'll make it to campus before a decision. The lack of clarity comes from quotes that directly contradict each other. Here's Costello talking to Scout's Greg Biggins ($):
Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita quarterback K.J. Costello could be closing in on a decision.
"I think it will happen sometime in March," Costello said. "I don't think I'm going to take any more visits, I have a good idea what I want to do. With Stanford and USC, I was always going back and forth every other day but I'm pretty set now and it's just a matter of doing it.
Same Costello, same weekend, different reporter—247's Steve Wiltfong ($):
“I’m pretty close [to a decision]. Day in and day out I’m trying to think If I feel like I’m feeling the same way. If I’m feeling the same way four, five, seven days in a row, I’ll make my decision.”
Ranked by the 247Sports Composite as the nation’s No. 4 pro-style quarterback and No. 42 prospect overall, Costello may take one more visit.
“I’ve been talking to (Jim) Harbaugh quite a bit,” he said. “He wants to get me out there as soon as possible. I think I might head out there during the week next week, if I can find a flight. Or in two weeks.”
Costello also told GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz that he's trying to set up a visit, but his next couple weekend are booked with Elite 11 camps and he's unsure if he can miss school for a trip ($).
It doesn't look great for Costello getting to Ann Arbor before a decision. While he's been on campus before, that wouldn't be good for the chances that he'll choose Michigan over either of the in-state finalists.
If Costello drops to Stanford or USC, the quarterback picture could still gain a lot of clarity soon. Five-star WA QB Jacob Eason told Wiltfong that while Michigan is making a bigger push than any other school for him to reconsider his commitment, "something would have to go wrong with Georgia" for him to make a change ($). He's leaving the door ajar, but only just.
That leaves four-star IN QB Brandon Peters, who's slated to visit for the Spring Game. Michigan pushed to the forefront of Peters' recruitment when they offered shortly after NSD, and there's been a lot of optimism that he'll commit so long as no other quarterback takes the spot before he gets to campus. At the time, Costello seemed like a more legitimate possibility; at this point, I'd say Peters is the safer bet to end up in the class.
[Hit THE JUMP for a five-star visitor, new offers, and more.]
What is this? Folks who cover the USMNT drop lists like this projecting the 23 guys who end up on the next World Cup team. I have appropriated it. Regarding the number of tickets: 22 starters on offense and defense + 2 kickers + nickelback + FLEX TE + fullback.
THIS IS THE PRE-SPRING UPDATE: Mostly pre-spring, anyway. We usually do one of these in the immediate aftermath of the regular season and then one before spring practice starts. This year was a little different because the coaching search made it difficult to project anything.
PACK YOUR BAGS
Odd choice at #1? Maybe, but Lewis blazed past established starters to become Michigan's most consistent defensive back and figures to get buckets and buckets of playing time even with reasonable competition. Peppers move to safety seals it. Speaking of…
2. S Jabrill Peppers, Fr.* [Last time: NR]
…there's no way Peppers isn't a major factor right now. He was on the verge of wresting away a starting job last year and is now earmarked for a spot that saw a lot of rotation and little production a year ago. Massively athletic space players do not come along often enough to pretend he's not a lock.
Meanwhile, Jarrod Wilson survived yet another season of panicked shuffling that occasionally pointed the finger in his direction for reasons that remain mysterious. Wilson is a very boring safety. We love boring safeties. We remember non-boring safeties. We tremble at this memory.
4. WLB Desmond Morgan, Sr.* [Last time: 6]
Hand injury was ill-timed for last year, excellent for this year. Morgan has been a model of consistency since his arrival and should assert himself as the QB of the defense again. A thumper who stops guys on contact, Morgan makes up for a lack of athleticism with quick thinking. A fifth year from him should be extremely productive.
5. LT Mason Cole, So. [Last time: NR]
Was adequate as true freshman LT, which bodes very well for his future. Lacks ideal size; probably never a road-grader. Still, difficult to envision a scenario where he gets replaced. Moved? Vaguely possible. Not on the field? No way.
6. FLEX Jake Butt, Jr. [Last time: 9]
Fully healthy and pushing 250 pounds, Butt has to be ecstatic about his immediate future under Harbaugh. Butt caught 21 passes a year ago in slightly limited time and figures to double that, maybe triple it if things go well. Zach Ertz 2.0? Pretty much. Blocking? Something of a question mark but it's not like there are alternatives with smaller Qs there.
UNLESS SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENS
Ross never developed into the force his freshman year promised, but a brief dalliance with RJS last year was quickly proven inadvisable. A rushing Penn State game suggests that there's a real player in there if the coaches can just unlock it; pressure from behind is minimal.
Sometimes there's a man… I won't say a hero, 'cause what's a hero… but sometimes there's a man, and I'm talking about Joe Kerridge here… well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that's Kerridge. In Harbaugh's offense. And even if he's a fullback, sometimes there's a man…
9.NT Ryan Glasgow, Jr.* [Last time: NR]
Glasgow #1 was a shock starter at NT, which was momentarily terrifying. Then he was mostly great. He was overpowered from time to time, something that happens to even touted sophomore NTs; he more than held his own for a rush defense that was near-great until late in games when the offense's incompetence exhausted them.
10. G Graham Glasgow, Sr* [Last time: 16]
Two-year starter progressed with the rest of his unit last year and will be extremely difficult to dislodge as long as he executes his assignments more consistently than anyone else on the roster. Quality twitter feed, too. Give this man a scholarship. Heck, give him two. Man has cats to wear.
11. CB Blake Countess, Sr* [Last time: 13]
Brutally exposed by Will Fuller in ND game, and never really recovered. M returned to zone, which was much more suited to his skillset of consistency and sneaky anticipation—can he play man this time around? Relying on coaching improvement to get there… which is possible.
12. MLB Joe Bolden, Sr. [Last time: NR]
I was never as high on Bolden as the previous staff, which threw him out there constantly despite a bunch of blown assignments and a lot of hesitant tackling that brought the wood only if it was balsa. But he does have a lot of experience and guys put it together suddenly at tough spots like linebacker. Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray lurk.
FAIRLY SAFE BET
13. C Jack Miller, Sr* [Last time: NR]
Generally solid but uninspiring play a year ago; did grasp and maintain center job for the whole year, displacing Glasgow and fending off changes after Kalis and Magnuson both got healthy. Kugler will push from behind but established starting centers are rarely displaced because knowing the calls is such a huge part of the position.
14. NICKEL Wayne Lyons, Sr* [Last time: NR]
Stanford fans are a bit meh on the guy. He did get a bunch of playing time for last year's #2 passing D in YPA terms, so he can't be that bad. Sour grapes? Yeah maybe. Lyons does have to fend off guys like Stribling and Richardson, but it's more likely he yanks Countess's job than evaporates.
Would somebody just throw this guy the ball in space a few times a game to see what happens? And not pick up irrelevant penalties on punt return touchdowns? And stop using him like a circus freak and instead regard him as an actual slot receiver? LOOK AT HIM DANCE GIVE HIM THE BALL
16. 3TECH Willie Henry, Jr.* [Last time: 10]
Did not have breakout season he seemed poised to after bear-strong freshman campaign. Still saw slim plurality of PT in extensive DL rotation. Could this be the year? Pad level, amirite? Wormley, Godin will continue pushing. Henry still has the upside.
17. WR Amara Darboh, Jr* [Last time: NR]
Michigan's second-leading receiver a year ago with nearly 500 yards; in Funchess's absence figures to continue possession role and try to add some of the leapy bits people think he possesses. I'd say he needs to fill Funchess's downfield shoes, but nobody threw deep last year so nevermind. Let's not talk about this. Let's talk about PROM KING.
18. G Kyle Kalis, Jr* [Last time: NR]
Moved back into a starting spot last year when Magnuson went down injured and did not relinquish the job. Brings the promise of POWER and GRUNTING, something Harbaugh will appreciate—this gives him an edge over slightly slighter competitors. Job by no means assured, but he was functional last year. That's good!
19. DE Taco Charlton, Jr. [Last time: NR]
Here mostly by default. Did flash beastly power occasionally last year, and essentially only option at SDE unless something weird happens. Probably still a better fit on the weakside but DE is a spot where Michigan is thin and young. At least that's unusual instead of the whole damn roster. See: all of last seven years.
20. P Kenny Allen, Jr.* [Last time: NR]
Waited patiently for his turn and should get it unless Baxter imports an Aussie to rugby his way into our hearts. Allen is a conventional boomer who impressed in the extensive punting demos Hoke tended to put on whenever forced to make a gesture towards fan service.
21. K Andrew David, Fr. [Last time: NR]
Is the only scholarship kicker on the roster, so that's a nice head start. Big leg should slot in on kickoffs easily. Field goals? I dunno man, kickers are weird. Would like to have kept JJ McGrath around for competition. Options past David are… uh… Bueller?
IN A BATTLE
22. T Ben Braden, Jr.* [Last time: 26]
Will be under heavy pressure from Magnuson and LTT, but did play all last year and improved from shaky start. Absolutely huge, so if he gets technique religion will be the kind of guy who can cave in the end on power like Harbaugh wants. Still the OL most under threat.
23. WR Jehu Chesson, Jr.* [Last time: NR]
Last year's #3 WR brings blocking chops out of proportion to his size but remains raw a few years into his college career. Will get competition from Ways, Canteen, and maybe Norfleet in TE-heavy environment. Still have to figure a guy who lays out his opponent is going to be good w Harbs.
24. DE Mario Ojemudia, Sr. [Last time: NR]
Death stare proprietor is incumbent at DE. Will get major push from Lawrence Marshall, who's already the same size as the somewhat diminutive Ojemudia and impressing in practice. There's not much depth here so both will play. The starting job could easily change hands.
25. TE AJ Williams, Sr. [Last time: NR]
Bearding up good move for blocking TE who hasn't blocked a lot of guys so far. Frustrating career could be rescued by Harbaugh's proven ability to install toughness… or ended by it. H-back types, Butt, and maybe slot receivers could look like better options, and then there's Ian Bunting. He's not a blocker yet, but is Williams going to be one?
26. RB Ty Isaac, So.* [Last time: NR]
Massive skill position uncertainty part one. Green missed a bunch of holes and then broke his clavicle, but he's closer to returning than ACL-cursed Johnson and certainly faster than Smith. Ty Isaac then? Okay. There's a reason this is near the bottom, but not quite at it because…
27. QB Alex Malzone, Fr. [Last time: NR]
…Michigan returns 87 passing attempts, all from Shane Morris. Last year he completed 35% for 3.2 YPA and three INTs. There is bad, and then there is that. Jim Harbaugh reacted to this situation by adding quarterbacks from everywhere. The reader is invited to pick one out of a hat. The wild guess here is EE freshman Alex Malzone, who was crazy productive en route to a state title a year ago. He got a big gold hat because of it. But YMMV.
PUSHING FROM BEHIND
QB Shane Morris—massive improvement necessary to even stay in the conversation
QB Wilton Speight—can he overcome the Borges curse?
QB Zach Gentry—probably needs some seasoning but upside in spades
RB Derrick Green—maybe the vision issues were Fred Jackson caused?
RB DeVeon Smith—slow; breaks tackles like a mofo
RB Drake Johnson—ACLs are not his friends
C Patrick Kugler—sure thing (for OL, anyway) entering third year
G/T Erik Magnuson—lost job due to injury last year and moonlit as blocking TE
G David Dawson—added significant weight and should push
T Logan Tuley-Tillman—chatter from inside program is that light has come on
WR DaMario Jones—slot playing time available
WR Freddy Canteen—hype fizzled last year, but jungle beats man
WR Moe Ways—Hemingway 2.0?
WR Drake Harris—practicing! full go and everything! still skinny as a rail though
NT Ondre Pipkins—hyped recruit got ACL tear at worst possible time. Could push through Henry. NT is platoon city, so not a huge distinction.
NT Bryan Mone—I've been waiting for a large Tongan DL my whole life.
3T Chris Wormley—will at least platoon.
3T Maurice Hurst—quick first step as advertised
3T Matt Godin—could be drafted at SDE
WDE Lawrence Marshall—pushing Ojemudia hard
WDE Rueben Jones—true freshman rarities in this post, hooray!
SDE Shelton Johnson—…except at DE
SDE Henry Poggi—SDE now, still needs some time. Maybe trying out at TE, which…
SAM Royce Jenkins-Stone—Ross rebuffed challenge last year
WLB Mike McCray—should be the year he threatens for real. WDE test run?
MLB Ben Gedeon—will usurp some PT in prep for next year
CB Channing Stribling—will be good if he just stops phasing out.
CB Terry Richardson—maybe the coaching change will be good for him
CB Keith Washington—Harbaugh favorite probably needs seasoning
S Delano Hill—nominal starter a year ago but injured a lot
S Jeremy Clark—lots of PT, meh production
S Dymonte Thomas—insane burned redshirt makes it late early for him