further adventures in Jed York being unsuited for his position
Via Bellomy's instagram:
I will receive my degree at the end of this semester and have decided to sign my release that enables me to play my 5th year as a graduate student at another university.
Bellomy was well down the depth chart at QB.
His departure brings Michigan to 14 scholarships for the incoming class plus any additional attrition; this is the bit where I remind you that Brady Hoke said he expected a couple of OL to not return and project that Michigan will sign 16 or 17 players in this class.
|WHAT||Michigan (15-7, 7-1 B10)
MSU (9-11-2, 3-3-2 B10)
|WHERE||Joe Louis Arena,
|WHEN||7:30 pm ET, Friday|
|TIX||the box office will have lots|
|TV||Fox Sports Detroit|
I haven't done a hockey preview for a while because I've never had much to say other than "this guy has a lot of points and this guy is drafted," but I guess it's better than nothing.
Michigan State is in their Nth consecutive year of mediocrity or worse, their fourth under former CCHA commissioner and non-hockey-coach Tom Anastos. After an opening year a few games above .500, Anastos's teams have lingered in a territory above terrible but below average; this year they are still that at 9-11-2. They're coming off a sweep of a drastically undermanned Ohio State team, so they've got that going for them.
Anastos teams tend to be defensively responsible and hopelessly dull, and this year is no exception. State is 45th of 59 in scoring and 25th in defense. They stay out of the box, kill penalties well, and struggle on the power play. They have a couple guys with a modicum of skill and a bottom six that tries to grunt their way towards goals. They have a couple of high draft picks on the defensive end and play a conservative system that tries to shut down space in the neutral zone, so at least that hasn't changed.
This is a Ron Mason team without an NHL top line or, you know, Ron Mason.
THE GENTLEMEN OF NOTE
Matt Berry. The diminutive senior is State's most skilled player. He leads the team in points with 16 despite missing several games due to injury earlier this year and is the only MSU player on a PPG. He's in the little puck wizard mode.
Mackenzie MacEachern. MacEachern is a rare breed indeed, drafted in the third round out of Michigan high school hockey. Reminiscent of Justin Abdelkader minus the dumb penalties, MacEachern is the most physically imposing opposition forward.
Villiam Haag. Is named "Villiam Haag." (Try-hard Swede is also active defensively and has established a spot on the top line thanks to two-way play. Think Matt Rust.)
Junior Jake Hildebrand has seen every minute of MSU's season; his .918 save percentage is middling but significantly better than Michigan's platoon.
THE LAST TIME
Michigan won the GLI final 2-1 with Zach Hyman and Andrew Copp scoring; Michigan was actually outshot 29-32. MSU was missing Berry; Michigan was down their four WJC participants (Werenski, Larkin, Compher, Motte). They skated seven defensemen in that game, in fact.
Michigan has played itself into an at-large bid for the tournament and must keep winning to stay there. The Big Ten offers no favors to Michigan's schedule strength.
Michigan State has no hope of an at-large bid. At this point Anastos has to be on the verge of losing his job if anyone in East Lansing still realizes the hockey team exists. It's been four years of mediocrity with no light at the end of the tunnel and a retiring Red Berenson is kicking MSU's ass on the recruiting trail.
It's time for Michigan State to get a real coach and start winning some games—crappy MSU was fun for a while but I'm over it. If Anastos wants to keep his job winning against Michigan is the best way to do it.
THE GUY WHO HASN'T CHANGED
Kampfer-assaulter Andrew Conboy was just dropped by his ECHL team for cross-checking a dude in the teeth. Stop hiring this man, hockey teams.
Hockey predictions are dumb, but whatever: Michigan is still vulnerable to turnovers and WTF defensive play but if this was an even game last time they should have a major advantage now that they've got four of their six best players back in the lineup versus just Berry for MSU. Stay out of the box and get solid goaltending and this train should keep rolling.
Some empty seats are emptier than others. Empty seats in Michigan Stadium can mean different things. The "This opponent isn't worth my time" seat and the "I do not enjoy standing in rain while an incompetent coaching staff criminally misuses Denard and Devin" seat are similar in their protest and non-physical occupancy by humans, but not in essence.
There is the empty seat at 11:58 a.m. because a college student got too drunk on Friday night, and the empty seat at 11:58 p.m. because the college student is on the field after a ridiculous 4th quarter under the lights. There's the empty seat in the 4th quarter of a blowout, the seat we leave empty in case Crisler should ever return, the empty seat about 2/3rds of the way up some corner whence sprouted a long flag pole, and the empty seat left by Lloyd Brady's graduation. Dave Brandon lost his job because he didn't know the difference between a "Why am I paying to see something I could watch on my 60-inch HDTV?" empty seat and a "This experience isn't why my family was in these seats for 40 years!" empty seat.
|Reserved for Fritz. [Marissa McClain/Daily]|
The emptiest seats in Michigan Stadium, however, are Seats 21 and 22 in Section 10, Row 70:
Mom and I held hands between the tailgate and the stadium entrance. I felt her tension and she told me she was thirsty and was going to buy a Coke and that I should go ahead and sit down. As I walked those last few steps to our seats I realized we were going to have to communicate Dad's passing to our stadium friends. Mom knew.
Mom passed away in 2003 after an inexplicably courageous battle with the bitch breast cancer. But before she died she watched many Michigan games with my daughter - her new best friend.
I still have the unused tickets Mom and Dad were going to use that Saturday in September of 1989. We beat Maryland that day.
The emptiness of a seat is proportional to the degree it was filled. Thank you, jmdblue, for sharing your research.
Other diaries: The recruiting board of alum96 is updated. LSA charts the four factors over the first half of the basketball season. Canadian with a weekly hockey update (Michigan is up to #12). Bet on a Super Bowl with Touchdown Tom coming down to the last drive.
Best of the Board
HARBAUGHS IN THE NFL
Chart of players Harbaugh recruited who are currently in the NFL, by Auerbach:
As a commenter pointed out, no Richard Sherman et al. if they were recruited under Harris or Teevens but played for Jim. I'm investigating but on quick glance about half of these guys were TE/DE types out of high school.
ULIZIO VIA UCONN STAFF:
Just gonna c&p from brewandbluesaturdays:
"A guy with NFL feet who has the body balance and flexibility to be a good player. He has long limbs and shows good toughness on tape. He is a quiet kid but all in all should turn out to be a good player."
In Harbaugh OL scouting we trust and all, but interesting to see what UConn saw in him.
YOU ALSO FORGOT SPACE
Jay Harbaugh sent a TE recruit a list of eight (the recruit's number) reasons to come to Michigan. Most were the standard Michigan selling points but one I hadn't thought of before was proximity to NFL teams (image via CBS Sports):
Jay is young enough I could have babysat him, but the one thing he does have on his resume is NFL scout coordinating, so if he's bringing this up as a thing maybe it's a thing? We'll have to teach him you always bring up the lunar alumni association.
Conboy's pro career looks like it will end the same way his college one did:
Andrew Conboy of the Elmira Jackals was suspended 20 games by the League for a cross-checking incident against Brampton. He was given a major penalty and a game misconduct for cross checking another player in the face, and a match penalty for deliberately attempting to injure an opponent.
As for Tropp, who's with Columbus (because go figure), earlier this season he avoided suspension for a cross-check to the back of the head of Ottawa's Mark Borowiecki in the 3rd period of a blowout. I hope it wasn't because he had no priors.
QUICK HITS: How JMFJ parents scammed him. Texas didn't get A&M's guy instead of Gentry after all [Don Draper was right about that one airline account dot gif]. Brian in the AA Observer. Should there be Wolverines on the logo? Your favorite dorm memories—if someone named Shannon brings up this time in the Mojo Dungeon when he was set up in the Stacks with grenade launchers and spent 10 minutes owning me, Corky and Sway, remind him who finally sniped him down from there…WITH A KLOBB!
Your Moment of Zen:
(A KLOBB!!! Shannon! From the next room, peeping around the corner, with a KLOBB.)
T-Minus Six Days
As we reach the last week before Signing Day, Jim Harbaugh and Co. don't seem to be sleeping, and they're being sustained by meals eaten on in-home visits. (Sorry, guys, but Bryan Mone is already on the roster.) Steve Lorenz published a free rundown of everything that happened just in the last 24 hours, and it was necessary.
I'll start with the latest round of offers. Michigan went after a trio of committed running backs, and while two—Texas Tech pledge Corey Dauphine and future Arizona Wildcat Orlando Bradford—politely declined to take official visits, Wisconsin commit Titus Booker will be on campus this weekend. Booker is one of the few prospects whose 40 time contains no FAKEs; he ran a 10.68 100-meter dash to finish second in the state of Illinois last year. He's a solid all-around athlete, as well—the Badgers recruited him as a cornerback.
Michigan also convinced two committed receivers to take officials this weekend. Four-star TN WR Van Jefferson received interest from the previous staff, and while he's an Ole Miss commit now, the Wolverines aren't as unlikely of a choice as one might expect from a recruit with his profile—Jefferson is a Detroit native who didn't leave the area until his junior year, per Lorenz. The coaches also offered CA WR Deontay Burnett, a Washington State commit. Given what he told Rivals' Adam Gorney, Burnett may be harder to convince to flip than Jefferson ($):
It could be tough to pull Burnett away from Washington State especially since he likes the pass-happy offense so much and that he's been committed for months. The three-star sees a lot of opportunities in Pullman so a late push even by Michigan might not be enough.
"I love the offense there," Burnett said. "As a receiver it's pretty attractive that their offense throws the ball a lot."
Finally, M also offered three-star AL CB Keith Washington, who committed to Cal just four days ago. I haven't seen any indication regarding whether he'll visit.
[Hit THE JUMP for news on Ty Wheatley Jr. Chris Clark, Iman Marshall, Mike Weber, and more.]
I always hope the fictional person goes to Michigan. Key And Peele East/West Bowl is obligatory:
Ace talkin' recruiting. On SI.com:
SI: Basically, if you avoid any more M00N games, that's a plus. Is it safe to say the 2016 class should really see the Harbaugh bump in recruiting?
AA: Definitely. While the staff has put most of its focus on piecing together the 2015 class in about a month, a lot of offers have been sent to top-tier '16 recruits, and those have been received quite well. Michigan would get an edge if it lands five-star defensive tackle Rashan Gary; his high school coach is rumored to be taking a support staff job in Ann Arbor, and the guy replacing him at Paramus (N.J.) Catholic played for Harbaugh in San Francisco (ex-49ers linebacker Blake Costanzo). There is also a lot of in-state talent in this cycle, and Harbaugh along with Tyrone Wheatley, the new running backs coach, have made the rounds at several Detroit-area schools. That should pay dividends sooner rather than later.
Mattison follow-up. Surprise: Greg Mattison is not looney tunes. Daishon Neal's high school coach:
Reached by phone Wednesday, Neal's high school coach Jay Ball (Omaha Central) said he spoke with Mattison on Tuesday, and has a great deal of respect for Michigan's defensive line coach.
"First of all, DaiShon N eal is a great kid and coach Mattison is a guy that I have a lot of respect for, he's been in the coaching business for 40 years and deserves every amount of respect that he gets," Ball said. "It sounds to me like there's two sides to the story, and maybe things were misinterpreted.
"And that's about all I'm really going to say."
I feel bad for that guy, who's been put in an awful spot by Neal's crazy helicopter dad. Even if you did boot Mattison from your home—something that is likely fiction—nobody gains anything by going on the radio to proclaim it.
It's really happening? I mentioned that there was chatter on Tennessee boards that Mike DeBord might be their offensive coordinator earlier. I didn't think it would actually happen for a zillion different reasons, but… uh…
Most recently — TE coach, Chicago Bears
DeBord, like Jones, is a former head coach at Central Michigan, and the two Midwestern natives have become good friends over the years. DeBord, a former offensive coordinator at Michigan from 1997-99 and 2006-07, hasn’t coached since serving as the Chicago Bears tight ends coach from 2010-12 and is currently the Olympic Sports Coordinator at Michigan….
Why he’s still on the board: Because he remains, by all accounts, the clubhouse leader for the position despite also holding at least a couple of potential NFL offers in his pocket.
I am going to be fascinated if this in fact happens. Tennessee found some life on offense last year when they turned to sophomore dual-threat QB Josh Dobbs, who ran for 500 yards in six games and is not at all like John Navarre. DeBord, meanwhile, is probably unaware that quarterbacks are allowed to cross the line of scrimmage.
He also hasn't been a coordinator since 2007—Lloyd Carr was the only guy who ever thought he was that level of coach. He'd seemingly given up on the whole enterprise when he took an administrative spot in the Michigan AD. To suddenly show up in the SEC as a coordinator is a reversal worthy of Zack Novak.
It also means that Mike DeBord found a coordinator gig before Al Borges.
More job stuff. Paramus Catholic coach Chris Partridge—who you may remember from such recruitments as AHHH JABRILL PEPPERS—left the school to take a job with Rutgers. Rutgers then rescinded that offer, supposedly because Partridge is not widely liked by New Jersey high school coaches worried that he will recruit their players away from them. Well done, Rutgers.
Partridge's side of the story is that Rutgers did offer him but he had not committed to the job. In the aftermath there was some chatter from Sam Webb that Michigan might step in with a job for the suddenly unemployed Partridge, and this job posting certainly looks like one designed for a guy a lot like him:
Responsible for the planning, coordination, execution and assessment of recruiting operations. Directly responsible for the coordination and liaison of high school coaches and talent stakeholders in the college football prospect market.
1. Assist Director of Player Personnel as directed, for the purpose of the coordination, evaluation and liaison with all High School Coaches and talent stakeholders in the college football prospect market.
2. Responsible for the planning, coordination and execution of Football Camps and Clinics in support of the University of Michigan Football Program.
3. Responsible for the oversight and internal compliance of all football related matters.
4. Responsible for the accuracy and input of all prospect/recruit documentation and data management for prospective football recruits.
5. Responsible for the evaluation and analysis of all recruiting classes during the duration of their eligibility of collegiate play.
5-10 years of college football recruiting experience with an in-depth understanding of the role of the High School Football Coach.
This looks like a job for a high school coach moving up. FWIW, Paramus has 2016's #1-ranked DT, Rashan Gary.
There is also a spot for an Associate Athletic Director For Saying NO STOP DON'T DO THIS DUMB THING, which basically sounds like an SID spot. To the relief of almost everyone on the beat, Derek Satterfield was canned immediately upon Hackett's hire.
Not all politicians are smart. No polo, but do me a favor and vote for whoever's running against this Al Pscholka guy if you happen to live in his district:
"I think student-athletes are students," he said. "It's just that simple. We've certainly gotten away from that fact. I've been broadcasting high school sports for 30 years, and the message we should be sending our kids is that college is really important."
Rhetorical tip: anyone saying "it's just that simple" has just said something dumb. Guy can't even defend his lame-duck bill passed out of an idiotic dedication to the ideal of amateurism. He's put Michigan and Michigan State in a possibly disadvantageous position relative to other schools if and when teams start unionizing in the near future.
This is a thing I like to hear. Hockey picks up '99-born defenseman Quinn Hughes. Hughes is a 2018(!) recruit on Chris Heisenberg's page. It sounds like he is in the Eric Werner/Steve Kampfer mode:
Hughes is a quick, cerebral defender, plays a possession style with soft hands. One of the smartest defenders in the age group.
— Sean Lafortune (@SeanLafortune) January 29, 2015
Hughes, like fellow D commit Griffin Luce, is the son of an NHL front office guy who played college hockey. That makes him particularly unlikely to defect to the OHL—these guys know all the pros and cons of both routes already.
It will be interesting to see how Michigan's recruiting classes hold up after Berenson's retirement, which is tentatively scheduled to be after next season. I assume these guys are aware that they're likely to be coached by someone else.
Really? Lunardi has Michigan in his next four out. Crashing The Dance pretty much does as well—George Washington gets the last at large and then Michigan is seventh in the pecking order, give or take projected automatic qualifier Green Bay. Bubble must be pretty soft this year.
Minor ding. WOLV reporter with an injury scoop:
Inside scoop: Jake Butt tore his meniscus and had surgery two days ago. @AceAnbender
— Ben Meyers (@BenSMeyers) January 29, 2015
A meniscus is usually a month-long thing so that shouldn't hurt Butt too much. Should be back for spring practice, in fact.
Etc.: I beg Michigan recruiting reporters to go full Texas in the near future, for entertainment's sake. Connor and Werenski off the board in the first 15 picks of various NHL.com mock drafts. A lot of weird guys stepping up at Next Man In U. Walton availability unknown.
[What this is: We yoinked Joe Pichey from MMMGoBluBBQ to share his tailgating recipes and Stubb's offered to sponsor it because their CEO is a big fan of this site, and we promised them a bowl game that Michigan couldn't deliver, so here's a Superbowl recipe instead.]
This is one of my favorite appetizers and always gets requested on Super Bowl Sunday. For those doing the low carb thing, this is the app for you. It's also extremely versatile as any good BBQ meat can be substituted if you don't like shrimp. Pulled pork, brisket, and even spam bites have made into the avocado boats and all have been winners. Go crazy!
- 8 Whole Avocados (Will make 16 Boats)
- Olive Oil
- Stubb’s Bar-B-Q Spice Rub
- 1 lb Shrimp (Peeled and Deveined) or leftover pulled pork / brisket
- 16 oz Colby Jack Cheese
- 8 pieces of bacon. (Cooked crispy and chopped into bacon bits)
[After the jump: how to make sure there isn't too much shrimp]
We're a week away from Signing Day and a bizarre recruiting controversy just arose, so it's time for a mailbag. Let's get this one out of the way...
The Daishon Neal Thing
— Craig Barker (@cdbarker) January 28, 2015
If you missed it, Michigan appeared on the verge of flipping SDE Daishon Neal from his Nebraska commitment until Greg Mattison's in-home visit went awry:
"Michigan was a powerhouse, they came in and they stormed us, they made one bad statement and it was over," [Neal's father] told 1620 on air. "They said without football, Daishon wouldn't be able to go to Michigan. Like we couldn't afford to send him there, or that we couldn't get him in academically.
"Once he said that, we pretty much escorted him out of the house."
Neal continued by stating: "(They) basically tried to call me stupid in front of my face."
There are a few issues at work here. First of all, Michigan can't comment on an unsigned recruit without breaking NCAA rules, so there's no way for Mattison to tell his side of the story; in all likelihood, this won't ever be addressed specifically.
Second, what Mattison reportedly said, in so many words, is often true—one of Michigan's most reliable recruiting pitches is that being a football player allows prospects the opportunity at a first-rate education that wouldn't necessarily be available otherwise. This isn't meant as an insult; plenty of smart people with strong academic resumes don't get into Michigan. I think it's great that Michigan presents this opportunity to those who may not have a 3.8 and a 30 on their ACT; football players have a huge impact on campus life and come away with well-earned degrees.
Finally, Mattison is a seasoned recruiter. I have a difficult time believing he presented this information in any way close to calling Neal "stupid." That's not a particularly effective way to convince a student-athlete to come to your school. A football scholarship pretty much guarantees admittance as long as the recipient clears NCAA academic requirements, which are far less stringent than Michigan's usual admission standards—coaches almost always check with admissions before offering a scholarship.*
Even if Neal has an excellent academic record, that doesn't offer the same guarantee he'd get in. Perhaps Mattison didn't put this in terms Neal and his family appreciated, but it seems far more likely this was an unfortunate miscommunication than a deliberate slight by Mattison. So it goes.
*Demar Dorsey stands as the exception to the rule, and that didn't work out so well.
[Hit THE JUMP for M's chances with Iman Marshall, the proclivity of TE/DE types, and how Harbaugh will look to replace Messiah deWeaver.]
1/27/2015 – Michigan 58, Nebraska 44 – 13-8, 6-3 Big Ten
I'm not sure whether MAAR is the gum wrapper or the battery, whether Dawkins is the shoe or the lamp, whether Bielfeldt is the broom or the package of pantyhose. I do know that Zak Irvin is pulling the contraption taut. Spike Albrecht is lighting the package on fire. John Beilein is glancing up from his maniac's blueprint, waiting for the moment when Tim Miles's friendly head is dead in the crosshairs.
"Subs away," he says.
Miles: 'Their system ... We made a little run against their 2-3, and we never saw it again.'
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) January 28, 2015
A hit, a palpable hit. Michigan goes to 6-3 in the Big Ten playing a lot of weird guys.
All the weird guys, really. I guess DJ Wilson would be slightly weird at this point, but not nearly so weird as Dan Dakich criticizing his son for not stopping the ball in transition. The weirdness is out there, man. It is starting and not coming off the floor.
Michigan got 37 minutes from a guy in Pennsylvania who Penn State didn't bother to offer and this was fine. Good, even. MAAR/Rahk put up nine points on eight shots, had a few rebounds and a steal, and played good defense. Fellow weird guy Aubrey Dawkins was headed to Dayton before Michigan stepped in; he put up 13 on seven shots, had a killer block, and generally looked like the top 50 recruit Michigan was supposed to have in this class.
And Bielfeldt. I must confess that whenever he ends up on the floor I wonder what on Earth Michigan could have seen in a player who can only be a 6'7" center. I guess they think he can beat up Walter Pitchford. Which he can, somehow.
My theory is that Beilein was working with the medical center on a top-secret growth project that fell through. A 6'10" Max Bielfeldt is really something.
In any case, we're here now, having a season. It's not a good season. But it is a season that's worth watching.
It's quite a trick to have a massively disappointing year—one that was headed that way even before the injury avalanche—and still give off the aura of gritty grit and development that Michigan is. They're not good. They're not bad, though, when they obviously should be.
This collection of guys gets a little less weird every time Dawkins has a line-drive three nestle into the net and hang there for a beat longer than you'd expect, every time MAAR gets to the rim and finishes tough. With LeVert on the shelf, this is next year's team assembling itself one game at a time. Add Duncan Robinson and DJ Wilson and, like, a toe for Walton and you could have something there.
Either way, this assemblage of dudes is flipping through configurations every time the opponent gets a handle on them. They morph into the most effective possible shape given their personal shortcomings and prevent a meh year from becoming a nightmare one. Let's see where it goes.
I'm thinking it goes to the NIT, but I'm okay with that. I'll take a few more games of Beilein pulling out every last banana peel he has for the opposition.
How about those late pickups? Michigan fans were confused when Beilein pulled in both Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman very late in the last recruiting cycle. One seemed necessary given the roster; two was a flier on a random guy. Those pickups are now paying off.
The stats are still lagging, with both guys at the bottom of the list in terms of usage and with MAAR's early struggles holding his shooting numbers down; their play has improved greatly. Dawkins is the most efficient shooter Michigan has right now, at 57/42, albeit with a very small sample size. Both turn it over too much and aren't getting the assists Michigan will need them to acquire down the road, but at the very least both guys look like solid four-year college players.
That "four year" bit seems important these days. Michigan could use a dose of roster continuity in here.
This was a fortunate matchup. Nebraska's okay; Michigan matches up against them well this year. Michigan has a huge weakness on the defensive boards that the Cornhuskers generally do not even attempt to exploit. Pitchford's OREB rate is 3.7. The one guy who does get an appreciable number of OREBs, David Rivers, was out.
Meanwhile Michigan's zones give up a lot of corner threes against a team with no three point shooting. Petteway is at 34%; tiny pest Benny Parker is at 38% but is loathe to pull the trigger with just 29 attempts on the year. (Parker proved this by passing up multiple open looks in the second half.) The other guys pulling the trigger range from bad to abject.
Once Petteway turned out to be in bad Kobe mode it was just about whether Michigan could pull together enough offense to make it comfortable. They eventually could.
Bid? It's still highly unlikely. We could have been talking about it if they pulled out that Wisconsin game, which would not only have been a non-loss but also a big win. Without it there's not a whole lot of traction to be had in the remainder of the schedule. The Big Ten is having an off year and Rutgers is occupying two slots in the schedule that could have been any other Big Ten team.
Even if Michigan goes 12-6 in conference you're looking at a resume that is like so:
- 19-11 record pending Big Ten tourney
- Best nonconference win over Syracuse, which is likely to be a bubble team
- Maybe three wins over tourney teams in conference (6-3 finish likely assumes wins against NW and Rutgers and @ Illinois)
- Horrendous losses to NJIT and EMU
That's a bubble team, and one that could very easily get passed over. Michigan's RPI is currently 64th, they're 0-5 against top 50 teams, etc. It's a resume that could go either way depending on how Michigan's RPI shapes up.
But what if? Michigan's hit the meat of their schedule with six of their next seven games against Kenpom top 50 teams (and the lone exception is no cakewalk: @ Illinois). Go 4-3 in that stretch and then we might start tracking Bracket Matrix and the like.
Chatman. Oof. Not to pile on but man that guy is just completely out of it. He's not even close on his shots, he's repeatedly losing people on defense, he's turning the ball over a ton… you have to keep rolling him out there some since he's a guy who could turn it around and become a nice player down the road, but the regression from a place that wasn't that far off the ground to begin with is dismaying.
Irvin. With Derrick Walton out someone… needed to pick up the rebounding? Yes, yes, apparently. That was Irvin, who notched a double double. Hopefully this can get him more into games where he's not getting a ton of shots, or not hitting many of them.
Yea, and we shall block things
Ace: Which returning player do you expect to have the biggest breakout season under Jim Harbaugh? Who benefits the most from the coaching change? To keep us from all answering the same thing, first responder gets to take Butt/Bunting.
Adam Schnepp: Butt/Bunting or whoever lines up at Y/TE are obvious (and very merited) choices, but I think that the returning player most likely to have a breakout season under Harbaugh is the guy who ends up being the starting quarterback. That may seem like a strange pick considering that there isn't actually a specific player whom I can definitely name here, but there's pretty solid circumstantial evidence to back up my prediction.
|Beeeeeee goooooooooood. [Fuller]|
Harbaugh's long had a reputation as a quarterback guru, and for good reason: he developed Andrew Luck and Colin Kaepernick while helping resuscitate Alex Smith's career. Smith had a career completion percentage of 57.1% and threw for 6.2 yards per attempt in the five seasons before Harbaugh arrived. In two years under his tutelage, Harbaugh simplified the offense and Smith's stats benefited for it; his completion percentage in those two years rose to 64.3% while his yards per attempt rose to 7.4.
After years of suffering through Brady Hoke and his offensive staff trying to slam a round peg into a square hole over (Denard) and over (Devin) and over (Shane) again, it's going to be a breath of fresh air to watch Harbaugh implement an offense that's supposed to work to a quarterback's advantage. In the Smart Football article linked above Chris Brown discusses how Harbaugh erased sight adjustments from his offense so that the quarterback didn't have to hesitate when the defense presented coverages that shifted post snap. Instead there were built-in hot routes in every play that didn't require the quarterback to hope the receiver reacted the same way to the coverage they were presented with.
If the past is any indication of the future then whoever wins the quarterback battle is going to have a firm grasp of progressions as well, because Harbaugh tries to make this as simple for the quarterback to rapidly work through as he can (more on that here and here). I expect Harbaugh to implement similar concepts at Michigan, where the power running game should open up options for the quarterback to create the type of big plays that we didn't see last season.
[After the jump: someone will take Butt/Bunting. Eventually.]
Derrick Walton came out for warmups, limped around on his injured toe, and exited early to the locker room. He'd emerge in sweats, out for a critical game against Nebraska and their stout defense.
You'd have been excused for assuming the worst at that point. Michigan not only found a way to win, though, they did so comfortably, relying on defense and contributions from players who weren't even expected to see significant minutes when the season started.
The Wolverines stifled the Huskers while switching up defensive schemes regularly; star Terran Petteway was totally off his game, going 1/11 from the field to finish with just seven points. Nebraska started cold and couldn't snap out of it, missing contested shot after contested shot. High scorer Shavon Shields even required 16 shot equivalents to tally his 14 points.
With Walton sidelined, Michigan needed a big performance from Zak Irvin, and he came through not only with his scoring—a team-high 14—but also with career highs in rebounds (12) and assists (3). Irvin's effort on the boards covered for Walton's usual contributions in that regard.
The play of a pair of freshmen was just as encouraging. Aubrey Dawkins had an efficient 13 points on seven shots, hitting three triples and two midrange jumpers off curl cuts that were eerily reminiscent of GRIII's pet shot. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman added nine, helping Michigan pull away in the second half with a pair of impressive transition finishes and a tough and-one. His burst to the basket stood out in a season when Michigan has struggled to get to the rim.
Max Bielfeldt continued his recent solid play with a 12-point, nine-rebound performance; four of those boards came on offense as he simply outworked Nebraska's bigs. His performance proved critical as Ricky Doyle had a quiet 14 minutes and Mark Donnal missed the game due to illness.
Michigan's taken lump after lump and yet have somehow pushed through to 6-3 in the Big Ten. Given the circumstances, this may have been the most impressive win so far. With a collection of walk-ons and freshmen supporting Irvin, the Wolverines blew out a Nebraska squad that entered with the second-stingiest defense in the conference.
While expectations have lowered significantly with Caris LeVert out for the year and Walton hobbled, this team has become... fun? Yeah, let's go with fun.