Tufele, Gay Headline Weekend Visitors
One of Michigan's most anticipated official visits occurs this weekend with the arrival of four-star UT DT Jay Tufele. Michigan, Ohio State, and Utah have long been considered the main contenders for Tufele; Washington and USC have also been mentioned among his top schools of late. Tufele talked up all five programs to 247's Steve Wiltfong and previewed his visit:
“I watched their game two weeks ago, it was amazing,” Tufele said of the 78-0 dusting of Rutgers in Piscataway. “I’m really looking forward to this weekend. Coach (Greg) Mattison came down to our game last week. He’s pumped. I’m so excited to be down there and see life in Ann Arbor and everything, and get to know all the players and get to know the coaches as well and see what happens from there.”
While Tufele has high praise for all of his top schools, Michigan insiders—namely Sam Webb and Steve Lorenz—have been optimistic about M's chances. Tufele has repeatedly mentioned Tony Tuioti and the Polynesian players on the team when discussing what the Wolverines bring to the table; their presence could help M vault into the lead on this visit.
A player we haven't discussed much here, four-star MS OLB Willie Gay, will also take an official visit this weekend. Gay is an Ole Miss commit, but he told The Wolverine's Brandon Brown this week that a different school is on top of his list:
Having been committed to the Rebels since June 16, Gay seems like a solid pledge but things aren't always as they seem. The 6-1, 203-pounder actually claims another school as his favorite.
"Michigan is my No. 1 school right now," Gay said despite being committed to Ole Miss. "It's crazy right now."
That is quite a crootin twist. 247's Steve Lorenz mentioned the reason that could really be the case: Gay "is currently a non-qualifier" by Michigan's standards, and Lorenz expects off-field hurdles will be too high for Michigan to overtake Ole Miss even if Gay qualifies.
Four-star PA DT Donovan Jeter decommitted from Notre Dame last week. Not long after, he set up a Michigan visit for this weekend. Jeter's post-decommitment quotes indicate he's looking for more than the Irish can offer right now:
“I don’t want to play for a mediocre school,” he said. “I don’t want to play for a team that goes like 7-6. I want to go to a school that plays in the big bowl games or plays in the College Football Playoff. I don’t want to go to an average school because I don’t think I’m an average player. I want to make big time plays on a big time stage.”
That whole article is worth a read; Jeter also mentions that a phone call with Greg Mattison was part of the impetus for him looking around. He felt he was hasty in his initial decision, so I wouldn't expect a committment soon—he plans to choose in December before enrolling early—but Michigan is right in the thick of things, and as long as they keep winning they should stay there.
Lorenz added another name to the weekend visit list in his insider post a couple days ago: three-star TX CB Matt Hankins, an Iowa commit. Michigan offered last month, and Lorenz says Hankins is indeed a take for the staff, though he may not be easy to pull from the Hawkeyes—"as of now" his family wants him to stick with his commitment.
Three-star FL DE Robert Porcher IV is also expected on campus, per TMI. Porcher, the son of the former Detroit Lions DE, is currently committed to Nebraska.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
TONIGHT, 5-7 PM
[Evan Aaron / The Michigan Daily]
A special Schembechlerian edition of MGoRadio from the new Bo Store, 333 S. Main Street, downtown Ann Arbor. It is against code or something to advertise refreshments in a retail store, but I can tell you that Big Ed Muransky and Not As Big As Ed Muranksy 3,000 Year Old Druid Craig Ross will be there with us. Stop in and try on the latest jacket that I really really want. If enough of us are around after maybe we’ll do Pretzel Bell or something.
TOMORRROW NOON TO 2:30:
For the 40-something-ieth time the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan will be hosting a massive Homecoming Tailgate. This year’s is again at Ooserbaan Fieldhouse, but they’re changing things up—rather than have Brian getting red-faced on the main stage, we’ll have Brian red-faced yelling at Iowa-Wisconsin, plus four other activity centers, each with an array of food, activities, and touchable banners and such. This year's event will of course include tons of spirited entertainment, appearances by numerous University officials, games, and a host of fun for Wolverines of all ages. Then the Michigan Marching Band will once again lead us to the Big House prior to kickoff.
Bring cash for the cash bar, with wine and North Peak beer.
Doing it a bit differently, thanks to reader Boliver46, who started this thread on the board. Winner gets donations to their favorite charity. LIST YOUR SCORE AND YOUR CHARITY. From Boliver46:
I did this last year vs. Utaugh, so thought I'd bring it back out since I won a shirt for a PERFECT 45-28 Colorado guess this year.
Again, I thought it'd be fun to make predictions regarding tomorrow's final score - and to benefit a good cause along the way!
Closest Guess to the Final Score Tomorrow vs. Illinois, and I will make a $20 Donation to your favorite charity! (No Human Funds, please).
I will use the first rule from the MGoBlog guess the score rules:
1. Readers predict the final score of a designated game by placing a guess in the comments, preferably in the format of [M score][hyphen][Opp score], for example "41-30" or "35-31 Michigan", or "28-24 Go Blue", or "38-0 Harbaugh!" etc.
and add another of my own:
2. Place the name of the charity of your choice in the body
A lot of top FBS coaches made it there by being experts or even the originators of a concept. Iowa didn’t invent Cover 2, but Ferentz’s teams have run it for so long that his players have instinctualized most of its nuances, and his coaches know the fastest route to teaching it. Rich Rodriguez built the zone read option into the spread ’n shred offense. He can run it against anyone because he knows a million ways to tweak it to deal with whatever defenses try to do to stop it. Same with the pattern-matching variant of cover 3 that Saban and Belichick created for the Browns. Rocky Long is going to run a 3-3-5, or run his 3-3-5 stuff out of different looks. Bud Foster is going to hit you with quarters all day. Tracy Claeys is going to play man.
Michigan’s next opponent is one of those guys. Lovie Smith built a good NFL coaching career by running the Tampa 2 defense, and Illinois is currently experiencing the growing pains of that conversion. Smith’s defensive coordinator is Hardy Nickerson Sr., who imported his eponymous son from Cal to play the crucial middle linebacker role—that is not going well. Last week against Rutgers they blew up the depth chart, sitting longtime starters at all levels for freshmen redshirted and not. When you decide what you want the rest of your life to be, you want the rest of your life to start right away, no matter how long Taylor Barton has started for you (or Brian’s Draftageddon team).
This baby version gives us football laymen an interesting opportunity to see Smith’s scheme in Rodriguez 2008 mode, when the skeleton of the thing is there and untainted by all the things its practitioners will learn to do to make it good. So once you see the concept, it should be uniquely easy this Saturday to pick it up on the field.
[Hit THE JUMP to watch it run so badly you can see exactly why it’s run]
- At least Notre Dame didn’t jazz us this year.
- Michigan State as the Beilein Michigan program: how did they get so bad so fast?How good are they when they inevitably rebound?
- What did we learn about Ohio State? The next pro offense of any consequence they’ll see is Michigan. The trick to Bad J.T. Barrett is make it rain.
- Don Brown’s DBs are much better prepared for Ohio State.
- Biggest concern until Columbus: Indiana.
- Playoff route is beat Ohio State and win conference championship, period.
- Mo Hurst had his best week of practice ever.
- Purdue should run the triple option. You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.
THE USUAL LINKS
Previously: Illinois Offense
A good D-line only does so much when you have this back seven.
Nebraska had eight real drives against Illinois. This is how they went:
- Four touchdowns (13 plays-75 yards, 18-75, 11-59, 2-70)
- Drives of 11-47 and 10-53 ending in field goal attempts (one make, one miss)
- Two plays, 28 yards, hilariously bad Tommy Armstrong interception
- 5-play, 17-yard drive in Illinois territory ending in a lost fumble
The Huskers didn't have much in the way of explosive plays; they still had a scoring opportunity every time they didn't turn the ball over, and those turnovers were Nebraska making bad plays instead of Illinois doing something particularly good.
The Illini do boast a disruptive defensive line, but they can be pushed around, and that back seven is having a rough go.
Personnel: Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:
The Illini have made a few lineup changes in the weeks since Nebraska. Taylor Barton, who did not look good at free safety in this game, has been yanked in favor of freshman Stanley Green, who hadn't played a defensive snap until the Purdue game two weeks ago. Freshman Kenyon Jackson has replaced Rob Bain at defensive tackle for reasons that elude me. Nickel Chris James has lost his role to normal starting corner Darius Mosely, who slid inside to make room for JuCo transfer Amari Hayes on the outside. The lineup above, to say the least, is not set in stone.
Base Set? Illinois had played more 4-2-5 nickel than anything else, but Nebraska's heavier formations revealed how they'll likely line up against Michigan. The Illini play a 4-3 against those sets, often with a safety rolled into the box:
They play both over and under fronts when in a 4-3. While normally a Tampa 2 team, they played a lot of one-high coverage in these scenarios.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
SPONSOR NOTES: Oh man if I keep talking about this trailer thing it'll be a thing and then I can see some dang games at tailgates. This has always been a downfall of tailgating: not seeing things. By repeatedly bringing it up here I may force Matt to do this thing. Yes. Yes. I have the power!
In addition to being a gentleman replete with Michigan tickets and possibly a trailer, Matt is also a good man to know if you need a mortgage. It's striking that we actually get non-astroturfed comments about positive experiences with Matt not infrequently.
If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.
FORMATION NOTES: Pepcat!
This concludes your formation notes.
PERSONNEL NOTES: A ton of rotation in the second half. Speight got the first half and then Morris and O'Korn alternated the rest of the way. Bushell-Beatty started at LT and was briefly knocked out; Michigan moved Cole to LT and inserted Kugler at C in response. The second string line was Ulizio-Bredeson-Kugler-Ownenu-Dawson, FWIW.
RB snaps split just about equally; ditto FB with Henderson getting a third of the snaps behind Poggi and Hill. Probably the most interesting depth chart item was snaps past the starters at WR. Those went Ways 19, Crawford 14, Harris 12, McDoom 7, Gentry 6.
[After THE JUMP: trinitite.]
[Ed-Seth: We have the great pleasure of employing the services and serving utensils of the original barbecuing bloggerati Joe Pichey of GoBlueBBQ to write recipes for our most delicious sponsor, Stubb's BBQ sauce.
But don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s just sauce, because if you haven’t tried the rub yet you’re missing out on some of their best stuff!]
I do love me some shrimp. One of my favorite combinations is shrimp and sausages grilled over direct heat. Toss in a few pineapple chunks and serve on a bed or rice and I am a happy man. But I need more when it comes to tailgating, or couch-gating as I did this week. I needed some smoke and some butter in my life. Who doesn’t need that, right? This quick and easy recipe was very simple and was done in under 45 minutes. My friends loved it and wanted more.
- 2 lbs shrimp – Peeled and deveined with tails on
- 2 sticks butter – Unsalted
- ½ cup Stubbs Beef Marinade
- Stubbs BBQ Spice Rub
- 2 Limes
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- Sausage (Your favorite will do)
- French Baguette
- [After the JUMP: instructions, butter]
About Last Week:
The destruction was on hold for a week.
Soon, Spongebob. Soon.
The Road Ahead:
Illinois (2-4, 1-2 B1G)
Last week: Won at Rutgers, 24-7
Recap: One of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Snarky Bloggers is the art of cushioning bad news with what they call the “criticism sandwich.” What you do is you provide some positive feedback, then you level your withering criticism, then you cap it off with some more positive feedback. Unfortunately for Illinois, there isn’t a lot of positive feedback I can provide. There isn’t a brioche bun of good news here. Or even a nice thick piece of silver-lining-marbled rye. The best I can construct is a criticism flatbread sandwich. A criticism chipati, if you will.
The good news: you won your first Big Ten game of the Lovie Smith era.
The bad news: You were outgained by Rutgers. You allowed Rutgers to gain 387 yards, which is a few yards short of ten times the amount they put up the week before. You surrendered 182 passing yards, which is thirty-six times as many as they allowed the previous week, and nearly five times the amount they put up over the last two weeks combined. You allowed Rutgers to drive inside your 25 yard line SEVEN TIMES. You allowed Rutgers to score points, their first since the Hoover Administration. You only forced Rutgers to punt four times. You only put up 17 offensive points against Rutgers. Rutgers was driving midway through fourth quarter down 10 before a pick-six sealed the game.
The good news: ...uh…
Okay, we’ll call it an open-faced criticism chipati.
This team is as frightening as: A team that can grit their way to a win over Rutgers. Fear Level = 2
Michigan should worry about: Global warming is still pretty serious.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Both Wes Lunt (back) and Chayce Crouch (shoulder) are questionable. If they can’t go, redshirt freshman Jeff George Jr. is the third string quarterback. George was a two-star greyshirt who has yet to record a stat in college. Basically, this is like the scene in The Perfect Storm where the weatherman (played by Shooter McGavin) points to the various storms and basically announces, “yeah, shit is about to get real.”
When they play Michigan: And they don’t even have Clooney or Wahlberg
This week: at Michigan, 3:30 p.m., BTN (Michigan -many)
[AFTER THE JUMP: The return of Sparty No is nigh]
So in improvement week, how’d the guys do?
“Really good. It was a great week. Guys really worked hard, got better fundamentally. Just, I mean, great to go out and play the game of football and get better at it, you know? Really, we’re working hard trying to get better. Really had great focus, want-to. Really pleased with the young guys.”
Do you like the future of this offensive line?
“I do. I really do. It’s only going to get better. How do you get better at football? You play football. We do that here.”
Speaking of getting better, can you talk about the jump that you’ve seen Juwann Bushell-Beatty take in the time that he’s been in here?
“He’s done a great job. It really started with Juwann in the weight room with Kevin Tolbert and his staff. He’s really changed his body, and it’s really important to him. He takes pride in his work to be good. He’s really got good foot-turnover speed. He’s playing with strength, and that comes from the weight room work that he’s had. He’s just done a really, really nice job. Progressed very nicely. Juwann is a very good person that wants to be good at whatever he puts his hands on, so he’s got a great attitude.”
What do you see players that are playing at this level for the first time and really getting thrown in there, where do they gain the most the soonest?
“Just, as I mentioned earlier before, just getting game reps and practice reps. As many reps as you can get playing the game of football and seeing different looks and being quick on your feet, you really become a better football player.”
Did you see a jump from getting thrown into the Wisconsin game to how he played in almost a full Rutgers game?
“Yeah, when he came off the bench against Wisconsin there was not a big letdown. Your concern, you know, first time stepping in in a game, but he did an outstanding job coming off the bench, and then he did better in the Rutgers game. He just keeps progressing, keeps getting better, which is really nice.”
[After THE JUMP: keeping backs fresh, the ways the offense doesn’t change when Peppers is in, and a young-guys update]