spoiler alert: i linked this
ESPN's Jeff Goodman reports that Bacari Alexander is finalizing a deal to become the head coach at Detroit, his alma mater:
Detroit and Michigan assistant Bacari Alexander are finalizing a deal, sources told ESPN.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 20, 2016
After LaVall Jordan took the head job at UW-Milwaukee earlier this offseason, Michigan now has two open assistant spots to fill. After Jordan departed, MLive's Brendan Quinn put forth a list of potential candidates:
A handful of names, based solely on context clues, are already emerging.
Florida assistant coach Darris Nichols, a former Beilein player at West Virginia, looks like a logical candidate. Patrick Beilein, the coach's son and current head coach at Le Moyne, is an obvious possibility. Former U-M director of program personnel C.J. Lee, a current assistant at Marist, could return. Others to keep an eye on include Iowa State assistant Cornell Mann and current U-M director of player personnel Chris Hunter.
At the same time, few would be surprised if Beilein passes on all of the above and goes elsewhere. Beilein could go off the grid or dance on the periphery.
In Jordan's absence, Chris Hunter has filled in on a temporary basis; this increases the chance he'll get the job on a permanent basis. With two spots now open, Michigan should move to fill out their coaching staff soon. Beilein has previously said he expected to replace Jordan in May.
The last few years Michigan moved toward becoming a major Cover 1 defense, and that looks to continue under Don Brown, whose BC teams were in a Cov1 (“City”) over half the time.
Last weekend I noticed more than a few opponents (and non-opponents) were practicing Cover 1 beaters in their spring games. So I thought I’d show one from Ohio State’s that I found particularly interesting. Hoping the coaches will chime in on this one since I’m not sure of everything I saw. Here’s the play:
It’s a snag package, a thing we talked about in the Borges days because it’s a good way to create those triangles that work against all coverages. Smart Football at that link:
The snag is so synonymous with the triangle concept that some teams simply call it “triangle.” The basic concept involves one receiver in the deep third on a corner route (good by itself against man-to-man), one receiver in the flat, often a runningback or inside receiver (which can also be good against man from a bunch-set), and a third receiver on the “snag” route, sometimes also known as a “slant-settle” or a “mini-curl.”
Building triangles is high up in the scale of offensive complication, because you’re asking the quarterback to ID the coverage and read multiple defenders.
However the first rule of Urban Meyer offenses is keep the thinking to a minimum* and lo and behold their snag isn’t really being run like a triangle. On this play Ohio State doesn’t even bother setting the high-low on the corner. Instead they set some picks on the outside to make it unlikely a CB will be able to cover the stick routes, draw off the rest of the coverage, and isolate the middle linebacker, giving the QB a simple read: See which way the MLB turns his hips, and throw behind him.
If that’s not open, find a guy going long and loft it. And if they’re not there, run around.
* [This is NOT a statement about the academic capability of Ohio State quarterbacks. Keeping things simple is a thing coaches try to do for all players, not just the intellectually incurious ones who’ve never heard of Uber.]
[Hit the jump to see how it works vs. man coverage]
The Big Ten will have yet more money with which to not fire Darrell Hazell in the near future:
Fox is close to signing a deal that gives it half of the Big Ten’s available media rights package, according to several sources. Deal terms still are flexible – both in terms of money and rights. However, the two sides have agreed on basic terms that will give Fox the rights to around 25 football games and 50 basketball games that it will carry on both the broadcast channel and FS1 starting in the fall of '17. The deal runs six years and could cost Fox as much as $250M per year, depending on the amount of rights the Big Ten conference puts in its second package.
Let's think some thoughts about this.
First, this is why the TV networks hurl the money. Combine this graph…
…with the relative prosperity of Big Ten folks versus the other section of the country that can't get enough college football and you get a lot of money. When it comes to Jim Delany, this is strictly Bedouins owning the land the oil is on. It's replacement-level performance. You are the reason TV networks are throwing crazy dollars at the Big Ten.
Second, it's a lot of money. Per SBD, the potential 250 million dollar deal is half of a package the Big Ten is currently getting 112 million for from ESPN and CBS. I imagine the total will come in under a half billion dollars a year unless they want to evaporate from ESPN entirely, which they probably don't. It's still a staggering amount of dough.
Third, it's not for very long. A six year term is unusually short when it comes to these kind of contracts, and it puts the Big Ten's rights up at around the same time everybody else sees theirs expire. Six years may be unusually short from the perspective of rights contracts—the BTN has their rights package until 2032(!)—but this is an unusual transition period.
In six years everyone may decide to boot the middleman and make everything more or less WWE Network, except unscripted. Or they may carry on because momentum is a powerful thing and ESPN matters. Meanwhile, networks are already looking at the number of dollars they've committed in a uncertain environment and blanching. SBN reports that ESPN's offer was "not competitive."
The Big Ten wanted a deal that would expire at the same time the BTN deal does and did not get it. Uncertainty reigns.
Fourth, mark your calendars. In six years there will be another tumultuous period of conference expansion. Contracts will be more or less up across the spectrum, grant-of-rights agreements in the ACC will be close to expiring, and it'll be time for another dance of doom.
Fifth, I'm relatively happy about FOX. Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt are both great and we'll be hearing a lot more of them call Michigan games in the future. Gus doing more Michigan basketball is also enticing. FS1 is a wasteland of hot takes delivered by morons, but FOX's actual game coverage has gotten a lot better over the last few years.
Also, adding college football to Fox networks increases the WALL OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL effect on Saturdays this fall. More options for games to watch and less pressure to bump Michigan off of noon windows* gets a thumbs up from me. I kind of want Fox to always put Michigan on at noon on the broadcast network.
*[Noon is the best time for a game if you want to watch the rest of CFB.]
Sixth, just pay some people. The Big Ten now has hundreds of millions of dollars and no additional expenses.
Grad transfer Grant Mullins visits this week. [Photo: Columbia Spectator]
After the departure of Aubrey Dawkins, Michigan has an open spot to fill, and this week has brought some clarity about how John Beilein plans to do so. First, here's a quick look at the scholarship situation:
|1||M. Donnal||MAAR||M. Wagner||A. Davis|
|2||Z. Irvin||K. Chatman||D.J. Wilson||X. Simpson|
|3||D. Walton||D. Robinson||A. Davis||J. Teske|
|4||MAAR||M. Wagner||X. Simpson||I. Watson|
|5||K. Chatman||D.J. Wilson||J. Teske||J. Poole|
|6||D. Robinson||A. Davis||I. Watson|
|7||M. Wagner||X. Simpson||J. Poole|
|8||D.J. Wilson||J. Teske|
|9||A. Davis||I. Watson|
|10||X. Simpson||J. Poole|
There's the one spot to fill for 2016-17; Michigan could take a grad transfer and still have three open scholarships (plus 2017 commit Jordan Poole) to work with for the 2017 class, or they could take a late-rising 2016 recruit to round out what would be a five-person class. Both options are still on the table.
The Grad Transfer Route
As first reported by Sam Webb and confirmed by Brendan Quinn, Columbia grad transfer Grant Mullins will visit campus on Wednesday. Mullins is a 6'4" combo guard who knocked down 44% of his three-pointers last season, and he's Not Just A Shooter™; he made 49% of his twos, got to the line at the fourth-highest rate in the Ivy League, and even posted respectable defensive rebound and steal rates. Dylan has further statistical nuggets that are quite intriguing from Michigan's standpoint:
Mullins graded out in the 94th percentile nationally in pick-and-roll efficiency (including passes) according to Synergy Sports. He also graded out in the top ten percent of college basketball players in catch-and-shoot ability and shooting off the dribble.
Without Caris LeVert, M struggled to replicate their past success with the pick-and-roll. Ideally the team would have a player capable of reliably finishing at the rim who's also a willing distributor; last year, it was one (MAAR) or the other (Irvin/Walton). In addition to providing excellent outside shooting, Mullins could bring that dimension back to the offense.
Mullins took visits to Cal and Syracuse, and those two schools appear to be M's chief competition.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
last year we made Spencer get a Brady Hoke tattoo
I feel superfluous. EDSBS's annual charity drive is going on and this is the moment in time when I point the money cannon…
— NewAmericanPathways (@newampaths) April 18, 2016
…who pointed the money cannon already? I was all set to point the thing, maybe give it a burnish, polish sort of thing, calibrate it, stencil a shirtless Harbaugh on it, you know, prep it. I see someone has already done all of that. Well… fine. I'm going to point it anyway: you can give here to further increase Michigan's dominance in this event. Meanwhile at the bottom:
Trump University $10.02
Michigan State $10.00
No nevermind no. We've been mentioning it obliquely more or less since Harbaugh was hired, and now seems like the time to just say it since they've once again caused a panic about a potential transfer: The Wolverine is utterly unreliable at this point. Their most recent "Inside The Fort" asserted that an unnamed quarterback easily deduced to be Brandon Peters was homesick and a transfer candidate. This contradicts both information that 247's Isaiah Hole got from Peters's dad at the spring game, and this morning on WTKA Sam Webb shot that down emphatically:
Any rumors you might have heard about Brandon Peters thinking about transferring have been 10000% refuted by sources to @SamWebb77
— The Michigan Insider (@michiganinsider) April 19, 2016
This is more or less our agreed-upon breaking point as a staff. They're putting out supposedly insider stuff that is balderdash way too frequently. Earlier this spring Rivals asserted that Michigan was going to straight-up cut returning starter and fifth year senior Kyle Kalis, which was and remains ludicrous for a dozen reasons. They claimed that Ian Bunting was doing terribly in practice and was headed towards being a bust; they backtracked on that immediately since various coaching staff members started effusing about him. That in fact directly contradicted what we were hearing from other reporters, who were talking to Michigan coaches.
Tim and Brandon are of course MGoBlog alums and do yeoman work holding things together over there but this is happening way too often to let is pass without mention. I know who Scout and 247 talk to: football coaches, players, and the families of the latter. I don't know who Rivals talks to but it's not them. I'm not saying that they're wrong all the time, but I wouldn't take anything bizarre that they say at face value until confirmed by someone else.
What does it take to get booted from a Dantonio team? MSU has lost DE Montez Sweat and DT Craig Evans to "personal issues." Those must be weighty indeed for the two to depart from a team that has repeatedly driven guys from jail to practice, especially since Evans looked very good last year as a rotation player. If MSU doesn't get a sixth year for Damon Knox their defensive line could be a lot weaker than it's been recently.
Why MSU thinks they'll get sixth years for Knox, LB Ed Davis, and OL Brandon Clemons is unknown. The article above says they haven't even applied yet…
Knox is one of three MSU players who has yet to submit his appeal to the NCAA to gain another year of eligibility via medical waiver. Knox, along with offensive lineman Brandon Clemons and linebacker Ed Davis, is still gathering the information to send in.
…but that almost has to be incorrect, right? These things shouldn't take that long, and if there's doubt—and there is serious doubt—MSU is doing those players a disservice by preventing them from entering the draft.
About that doubt: the NCAA is very strict with sixth years* and it certainly appears that all of those players took voluntary redshirts. Knox's bio notes that he was scout team player of the week before the OSU and Iowa games in 2011; those were the 5th and 10th games of the season so it beggars belief that he wasn't healthy enough to play. Ditto Davis, who got the same honor before the 4th and 9th games the same year. Clemons doesn't have sufficient evidence to disqualify him from a sixth year literally in his MSU bio but is an OL who redshirted because all OL redshirt.
*[If you are healthy enough to play for a few games that counts as a voluntary redshirt. The NCAA shoots down a ton of kids. A fifth year is way easier.]
Do it. Do it now. Sorry, A Lion Eye, but you gotta do it now:
Please god no. What the hell are we doing? NO. no. NOO. pic.twitter.com/1ryotvuO6x
— Robert (@ALionEye) April 15, 2016
How to repeal the camp ban posthaste. NCAA executive Oliver Luck says that the membership will "revisit" the satellite camp ban. Tom Van Haaren details what needs to happen:
One of the options Harbaugh and Manuel have is trying to get a 66.7 percent of the majority of 128 FBS programs to request that the ruling be rescinded within a 60-day override period. Since the original vote only received 66.6 percent approval, well below the required 85 percent, the programs that disagree with the ruling can still get the ban relinquished.
The original vote to ban the camps was done by conference representatives, whereas a reversal would require individual votes from programs. Getting roughly 85 programs to request the repeal might be difficult, but there are a growing number of coaches speaking out against the ban.
I'm not sure it will be that difficult if reports from the Pac-12 and the Sun Belt are accurate. Reports from both conferences hold that the coaches are almost unanimously opposed to the ban. The Sun Belt thing is wild. They sent Texas State's AD to vote in favor of the ban. Here's Texas State's football coach:
"... the Sun Belt and the MAC to be able to go to Texas and Ohio State camps and see those kids." (2/2)
— Keff Ciardello (@Keff_C) April 14, 2016
The Sun Belt is of course the conference whose commissioner answered questions about why on earth the Sun Belt would shoot themselves in the foot with his best Perd Hapley impression. Nobody knows why this dude voted the way he did.
Except one man. One pirate man. Mike Leach continues on the path of the righteous:
"I can't help but wonder if there was some manipulation with this thing, because that doesn't make any sense," Leach said. "I don't know what ivory tower or what cliff these people flew to vote, but this is something out of 'James Bond,' where they got together and voted and plotted taking control of the world. Wherever it was, some lair in the mountains with ice and machinery, a cold Dr. Evil environment where these guys voted on this thing then, at the end, they all put their hands together and did a really weird laugh, because soon they'll be conquering the world."
I love Mike Leach and hope nothing but good things happen to him forever. Mike Leach may have no connection at all to the university, but he is the best thing about Penn State.
You keep using that word. Rutgers got a commitment from NJ RB/slot Bo Melton a few days ago. Melton had a Michigan offer of some variety and of course you know all about New Jersey and Michigan recruiting, so it's unsurprising that Harbaugh is living rent-free in the collective Rutgers head:
Just one problem with "I don't follow, I lead": Melton is a Rutgers legacy. How you doin'? (Also whoever put this together left out the A in "garden.")
Clemson Dan. Sooooooo Sam Webb played me this voice mail a few months back, and it is creepy as hell:
“If you’re coming down here, you gotta do just like the KKK and be serious about your football. Clemson and the KKK, the two things we love the most,” the caller said.
The target of the voice mail, which came at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 28, was Paramus Catholic star Rashan Gary. It was made the day before the defensive lineman took an official visit to Clemson.
The man who left the message identified himself twice during the 58-second voice mail only as “Clemson Dan.”
Clemson fans and apparently coaches claimed this was a false flag operation, and they might be right. But what if it's a DOUBLE false flag? Did you think about that? Yeah. Anyway, all Clemson fans are in the KKK. That's my takeaway.
Etc.: No, Penn State. No. NCAA will now pay for parents to attend official visits. Graham Glasgow projected as a third-rounder. Cardale Jones was not at OSU to play school, but mostly because he (correctly) didn't care about it. Man talking about Harbaugh sick of people talking about Harbaugh.
Sherman / Dressler / Upchurch
Previously: Zak Irvin
After last season, I wrote this in MAAR’s recap:
(I know Abdur-Rahkman is from Allentown, which is a little more than an hour from Philadelphia.)
While not the basketball Mecca that New York used to be or Chicago and LA are now, Philadelphia has still contributed immensely to hoops culture, producing greats like Wilt Chamberlain and Kobe Bryant, and – more relevant to college hoops – the series of rivalries between the “Big Five” of Villanova, Temple, St. Joe’s, La Salle, and Penn. Among other smaller Philly hoops stories, there’s the idea of the “Philly Guard” archetype.
As far as I can tell, the construct of a “Philly Guard” exists somewhere in the intersection of Allen Iverson and Rocky, an attacking combo guard bestowed with toughness and competitiveness platitudes. Though Abdur-Rahkman is 6’4, his high school film (and flashes of his play at Michigan) suggest that he could very well be a traditional Philly guard… despite not actually being from there. Only 20% of his two-point field goals at Michigan were assisted, he can play the one or the two (though Beilein’s system makes little distinction between the two), and he often injected life into a lost season with occasional bursts of physical ability – my favorite was when he pretty much made Jake Layman run and hide instead of contesting a dunk attempt.
Rahk is one of my favorite players on the team, mostly due to his uniqueness – there’s something about his game that can’t be replicated by anyone else. Since we’ve only seen half a season of him, it might be a while before I can pin down that essential quality about him, but I’m firmly on the bandwagon. Maybe this label will fit him in time, maybe not.
It’s clear what that quality is: more than anyone else on the roster, MAAR can create his own shot and get buckets. Before the season, he was the fourth guard on the depth chart, but by the end, he’d become the best member of the five-man 2014 class and ranked third in team MVP voting. Moving forward, it’s clear that Rahk has locked down the two-guard spot, and – as someone who’s mature for his class – he projects to be at least a solid starter as an upperclassman in the next two seasons.
Often, Michigan’s offense had to work hard for quality looks – instead of seeming effortlessly devastating, the Beilein offense more frequently was run through the ringer, using every constraint and trick to get the smallest windows of opportunity. While they were the most capable creators on the team, going through Derrick Walton or Zak Irvin usually came difficultly, especially against quality defenses. Very rarely were either able to take defenders one-on-one for a bucket, and even though both are above average passers, neither were quite explosive or agile enough to get open at the rate to routinely set up others (in contrast to Caris LeVert, for example). While both are good out of the pick-and-roll, neither are able to attack aggressively in those sets on a consistent basis.
Enter Abdur-Rahkman, a guy who wasn’t able to sustain a high-level usage rate, but someone who was able to do some of the things that Walton and Irvin couldn’t.
[After the JUMP, more on MAAR]
Extremely Good Drew Singleton Update
Last week's roundup covered an apparent split in intel on top-100 NJ OLB Drew Singleton; while insiders at Scout and 247 believe Michigan is out in front by a considerable margin, Rivals said Clemson is a "safe leader."
Over the weekend, Sam Webb published a two-part interview with Singleton's father, and what's on the record looks quite good for Michigan. The first part is free and features Mr. Singleton discussing the recent visits to Ann Arbor and Clemson. Compare what he had to say about Clemson's academics...
(Dabo Sweeney) graduates a lot of his kids. A lot of people may not know his record, he knows how many seniors he has. If I'm not mistaken (out of) 135 seniors, he's graduated 129. That's pretty impressive to me. He's getting kids graduating and not with just any type of degree… (they’re) graduating where they can be a functional adult with a good education and doing something other than football if that's the case. Of course, it's a great football program and he's got a lot of guys playing at the next level or going to the next level. It's awesome. It was just impressive.
...to what he said about Michigan's:
It is what they say it is and more. Once you get there, they just took it to a whole different level academically. I met with (Ross School of Business Director of Outreach Programs) Rhonda Todd. She handles a lot of things and helps incoming freshmen with how to prepare for and apply to the Ross Business School, which is one of the top business schools in the country. It was awesome. That stuff really stood out for my wife and I. We know football is going to be good. You've got Jim Harbaugh, Don Brown, Tyrone Wheatley… (football) is going to take care of itself. But the other part, the other intangibles, I was just blown away along with my wife. That really stuck with us and we're still talking about it now. Very good. Extremely good.
That seems good. Very good. Extremely good, even. In part two of the interview, the elder Singleton said that while the tentative plan is to commit to a school on October 25th, "it may not go that far." Even though Singleton plans to take more visits, Michigan looks like they're in great shape.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
|Los Angeles, CA – 6'0", 175|
|Scout||4*, #64 overall
|Rivals||4*, #81 overall
#9 CB, #15 CA
|ESPN||4*, #104 overall
#5 CB, #13 CA
|24/7||4*, #96 overall
#8 CB, #12 CA
|Other Suitors||Stanford, UW, ND, USC, UO, OU, UCLA|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
Jim Harbaugh really wanted David Long in this recruiting class. You know this because Harbaugh famously climbed a tree at the behest of Long's little sister on his in-home. You may not remember that Michigan liked Long so much they recruited him for multiple positions. One was cornerback. The other was ambassador. Per Steve Lorenz:
"Coach said I can be a "do it all" guy for Michigan," [Long] said. "What he said he meant by that was that I can be a difference maker for them on the field, and can be a difference maker for the Michigan brand and the program as a whole. It was really surprising to hear that from someone like Coach Harbaugh because I never really even looked at myself that highly. The staff as a whole just seems to be really excited about me and excited about what I could potentially bring to the program."
As a man who occasionally watches recruit interview videos—it's my job, don't judge me, judger—I was intrigued. I watched a David Long interview, and I can tell you that regardless of the outcomes of the various presidential primaries going on, Long has my vote this November.
He also has the vote from all four recruiting services, which all rank Long in a narrow band in or just outside of the second half of the top 100. Guys with that kind of consensus outside five-star range are generally low-risk prospects who have hit the camp scene, and Long is no exception. He was invited and competed at both the Opening and the Army game, where he was consistently mentioned as a major talent:
- Allen Trieu, Scout: "…has the quickness and feet to play man to man and his ball skills are excellent. He made several plays on the ball in practice and a couple in the game. He's a natural. …probably the most impressive pure corner this week. He has some of the same skills that Jourdan Lewis flashed at the Army Bowl."
- Keith Niebuhr, 247: "made play after play after play. He broke quickly on the ball, turned well in coverage and made plays, often batting a pass away from a receiver."
- Brandon Huffman, Scout: "…West's top-rated cornerback and showed during the week exactly why. … great ball skills and closing speed and did a good job of breaking up a number of passes."
- Adam Gorney, Rivals: "…tested against some great receivers this year and usually won more than he lost. … fine playing press coverage at the line or giving some cushion and then snapping up to knock down the ball. … tremendous athleticism and this keen sense of where the ball is going to make a play."
- Barton Simmons, 247: "Long is one of the most fluid prospects among all the defensive backs during position drills but when the ball was in the air, he made more plays than any other defensive back."
- Greg Biggins, Scout: "all the physical tools you could want in a next level DB including size, quickness, top end speed, instincts and toughness. He's a smart player with a high understanding of how to play the game and always competes at a high level. He's smooth in his backpedal, shows explosiveness getting in and out of his breaks and has excellent recovery speed."
You get the idea. Long was well-known entering those events because he went to a bunch of camps over the summer. B2G: "tremendously quick feet and his ability to change direction allows him to shadow receivers." RCS LA: "excellent footwork and he's super smooth in his backpedal." Socal Elite: "Double moves don't affect him at all and maybe more than any cornerback at the event, Long did an excellent job in press coverage sticking right with receivers."
Long is very well scouted, and thus low-risk. He's is also low-risk because of the ambassador stuff. Long was a Stanford commit for a number of months. He's probably not going to have any issues adjusting to college. Even more enticingly, when David Long first popped up on recruiting radars he was regarded as a wide receiver. While he's played both ways for much of his high school career, Long only emerged as an elite corner prospect over the past year or so. It's possible he's just scratching the surface of his potential.
It is in fact difficult to find someone willing to say a bad word about Long. Scout literally begins its Areas For Improvement with "there really isn't much in Long's game that you can describe as a weakness." There are occasional assertions that his speed is only good, or that he's not quite the height you want, but often these come with inbuilt disclaimers. Rivals's Blair Angulo provides an example:
Angulo says there is absolutely nothing to worry about with Long’s size.
“He’s listed at 6-feet, but he plays bigger than that,” Angulo said. “I think his arm length is a plus because he creates some really tough windows for quarterbacks to throw the ball into.
“His explosiveness isn’t off the charts but he’s fast enough to adjust and react to certain movements at corner. We’ve seen him for a few years now and he’s so steady and so consistent. He hardly ever gets beat and just knows how to make plays.”
I know bigger corners are in vogue thanks to Richard Sherman, I wasn't aware that anyone was even a little concerned with Long's size. That feels like an answer to a question about areas for improvement, as they say, that finds the responder grasping for a thing to say. FWIW, this "Son of a Coach" site I've come across that does a bunch of scouting believes he's actually 5'10" based on an Opening Regional, which would explain the above. They also believe he's an "elite athlete," "super fluid," and possesses "great top end speed." That latter is confirmed, as Long has a 10.6 100 meters to his name and ran an electronic 4.4 at that camp.
ESPN's evaluation has another example in the first and last sentences here:
…plays much bigger than his height. He is feisty and competitive with quickness and top end speed to boot. Shifty, sudden and explosive in a short area. Is a guy that can win footraces and run people down. … Has tremendous ball skills. He has soft, reliable hands and plucks with ease. … has the physical tools you look for in a corner: hips, feet, change-of-direction and the ability to make up ground if caught out of position. … Short area quickness and man-to-man cover skills are very impressive. … lacks ideal height, but the skill-set is very impressive for an island player outside on defense.
All right then. If Long's height is the main concern and he plays much bigger than said height, the amplitude of that concern is not exactly huge. Angulo is so high on the guy that he said he "expects" Long to be an All Big Ten player. This is also my expectation based on what everyone else is saying, but it's one thing for me to say it and another for a recruiting analyst to do so.
What about the other stuff you have to do at corner? Like, you know, tackling? I was reading up on various Don Brown things over at James Light's site recently so it's fresh in my mind: Brown has a bunch of calls on which he uses his cornerbacks as important force defenders against the run. You don't get a lot of scouting about those sorts of things at 7-on-7 camps and practices with little contact, but Angulo watched a lot of him in high school and provides some insight:
“I think another thing that could get him onto the field is his ability to tackle,” Angulo said. “He’s a great cover guy but he can be physical and he plays near the line of scrimmage very well. He really knows how to get off of blocks and that makes him valuable on all downs."
Long isn't going to be Marlin Jackson if only because of his size, but it sounds like he could be a capable run defender early in his career.
That checks the last box, then, when it comes to a guy contributing as a freshman. Michigan doesn't need Long to do that since they get the entirety of last year's very good corner corps back; if they were forced to put him on the field early it wouldn't actually bother me that much.
Why Leon Hall? I'm saving Jourdan Lewis even if Lewis is a very good comparison if Long is actually 5'10". So let's turn back to Michigan's most recent highly touted NFL first round corner who was very good at everything but not overwhelming at any one thing. That would be Leon Hall.
Guru Reliability: Exacting. Lock-step agreement, high profile guy, All Star appearance, was at Opening. Zero grades/character concerns. Corner is a position that's relatively easy to scout as well.
Variance: Low. Has my vote for president. Also has the combination of head and speed to make it unlikely he busts.
Ceiling: High. Six-foot-ish corner with long arms is the kind of player it's easy to see in the early rounds of the NFL draft.
General Excitement Level: Very high. Long is as close to a sure thing as it gets. Which is only like 80% sure because crootin, but I'd be surprised if he left Michigan without being All Big Ten.
Projection: Surprise: I believe Long will play this year because he will be needed next year. This is the case for every Michigan DB commit in the 2016 class. He should play a bunch on special teams and get whatever garbage time snaps are available in the expectation he will be called upon to start in 2017. He should also get some live-fire action a la Stribling and Lewis as freshmen.
That 2017 CB battle needs to find two winners amongst Brandon Watson, Keith Washington, Lavert Hill, Long, and whichever freshmen enter this year; Long is likely to be one of them.
Mailbag: Unbalanced Classes, Hockey vs Basketball, Further Hockey Expansion, Defensive Coach Turnover
If you're doing a mailbag any time soon, a potential question: does all the defensive coaching turnover dampen your expectations for the defense? Having three new coaches, including a new DC, has to impose some kind of transition cost, right? It would be frustrating to have what might be an excellent defense undermined by coaching changes.
On the whole, no. For one, while Chris Partridge is a new coach he's replacing John Baxter, who did not work with last year's D. There are only two guys being replaced. Losing Greg Jackson is a blow, as by all reports the players loved him. The secondary's performance last year was a major step forward from everybody—even Peppers, who we had not really seen before, developed over the course of the season. It's likely that Jackson is very good at his job, and you always hate to lose a guy like that after just one year.
I have zero concerns about replacing DJ Durkin with Don Brown. Durkin's defense last year was very good until it collapsed late, and while part of that was on Glasgow's injury it was very frustrating watching Michigan play a spread option team with a safety lined up 18 yards off the LOS. You can't do that when the opposition has an 11-on-11 run game, and Michigan found that out the hard way. Since that was a thing that even a blogger was warning about…
So it's up to Michigan: ride with what got you here and try to hold up, or go to more of a zone based look in an attempt to replicate what just happened [against MSU]. The bet here is that Michigan enters with the latter in their pocket but tries to go toe to toe, combating zone with the addition of a safety to the end of the LOS and the corresponding blitz.
…and Michigan emphatically had nothing in their back pocket in the second half, I'm happy to see Durkin at Maryland. He could be a great coach, sure. He could be a guy who hung on to Will Muschamp's coattails and got exposed by Urban Meyer.
Meanwhile Brown has an excellent track record:
Bolded years are Don Brown; others are there for comparison. YPP is raw yards per play. FEI and S&P+ are advanced metrics that attempt to take schedule strength and various other factors into account.
It is possible that there's a settling-in period where Brown's D isn't as effective. The data don't show anything conclusive about that, with Maryland and UConn both getting significantly better in advanced metrics in year one despite a drop in yards per play. Meanwhile last year Michigan's defense was very good despite being in its first year of a new system.
Michigan can't get significantly better in advanced metrics and should expect a backslide just from regression to the mean, so I won't be judging Brown on how he does relative to last year's D… except against Ohio State. The absolute best news of the offseason to me is that Don Brown spent his time at Michigan's coaching clinic ranting about run defense…
Coach Brown believes that it all starts with run defense, “Check our record, 4 out of the last 5 years, nobody runs the ball. I don’t give a crap what I have to do, we’re going to stop the run.” Don Brown’s defenses finished #2 in 2011 (UCONN), #3 in 2012 (UCONN), #2 in 2014 (Boston College) and #1 in 2015 (Boston College) in run defense.
…and detailing the varied and intricate responses he's developed to zone read including inverted veer or "power read," as coaches seem to be calling it.
The result of last year's Game (and the one before that, and the one before that, and the one before that) cried out for a defensive coordinator who is awesome at stopping a power spread attack. Don Brown looks like the ideal candidate. I was getting pretty nervous for a couple weeks there when Rivals kept bringing up NFL guys—exactly the wrong kind of candidate for the biggest game on the schedule—and couldn't be happier with the way things worked out.
I'll be keeping a wary eye on the developments in the secondary but at least Brian Smith is a DB by trade and a DB coach until he was shoehorned in at linebacker a year ago; this isn't going back to Roy Manning, lifetime LB, as a CB coach. As far as the DC trade goes, I give it an A++++++.
[After THE JUMP: Jim Delany and the satellite camps, college hockey realignment stuff, hockey and basketball expectations.]
"I think spring went really well for us. I think the goal was to improve as a team. I think we definitely did that in all areas, so we're just looking to build off that this offseason, get a little stronger, get some of these player-led practices and continue to build chemistry with each other and understand the offense and the defense a little bit better so we can hit the ground rolling come camp."
Jim just talked a little bit about Drake Johnson and the accident yesterday. I was wondering whether you've had a chance to speak to him and what are his spirits like right now?
"I haven't had a chance to speak with him directly or anything but I saw him post a snapchat yesterday and he seems to be in good spirits and everything like that. I'm sure just knowing the kind of guy Drake is he'll come out of this pretty strong."
Do you get a sense that the Big Ten or at least the East division is the most balanced it's been in 2016 as it's been in your career?
"You know, I haven't really been concerning myself too much with that. Really I'm just focusing on what we can do as a team to make our team as good as possible, and there's a lot of great teams in the Big Ten and in the country. What we've just got to focus on is not really what other people are doing but how can we make ourselves the best team that we possibly can be. So yeah, there's some very talented teams out there and we're going to work really hard to try to give ourselves the best chance when we come up against some of these great teams."
How confident are you that this is the best Michigan team that you've been on?
"I'm very confident in that. I think we have the talent, but really I say I'm confident because we have a mentality of just hard work and preparation and I think we've got great leadership from our coaches and from our players, so I think that's really where the confidence comes from."
I was just wondering not just you but Tyrone [Wheatley Jr.] and Ian [Bunting] were making some plays in the spring game as well. Just your impression of the guys behind you at your position group. You guys are pretty loaded at tight end.
"Absolutely, absolutely, and I think we've got a really talented group from top to bottom. And we've got a lot of great guys that are hungry, hungry looking for spots, looking for roles and just really hungry to learn and get better and I think that's a recipe for success right there. So, we've got a lot of guys that can do a bunch of different things. You know, wherever the role is for some guys it's going to go to whoever's the best at that specific role so guys are hungry and they're working hard to find a spot this fall."
In the past couple days you've really let your voice be heard on social media in the wake of the satellite camp decision. Why is it important for yourself and your teammates and other athletes to put your voice out there and state an opinion on this?
"Because I think sometimes we can get lost a little bit, but we do have a voice. We are, the athletes are, one of the driving forces that gets the NCAA to run. Sometimes I feel like we aren't heard as much as possible, especially with these satellite camps. I think it's stripping the opportunity from a lot of young kids that don't have the chance to get out there and see some of these programs and get one-on-one coaching with some of these coaches across the country. So, you know, I really looked at it as who is really winning in this situation? How does the student—if the NCAA is so much about [being] for the student-athletes where does the student-athlete win in this? That was my biggest question and I'm still looking for an answer for that one."
It seems like you and Jourdan [Lewis] and maybe some other guys are speaking out on topics a little bit more whether it's twitter or other places. Do you think part of that is you guys sort of adopting the personality and culture that coach Harbaugh brings in the way he addresses issues and speaks his mind?
"I think that's definitely part of it. Coach Harbaugh is our head coach and our leader so we're going to follow him but also this is moreso—this is something personal. I know a lot of guys on our team that participated in some of these camps and these camps opened up doors for them, some of their friends, some of my friends where you start taking this away…it's more personal. Like I said, we do have a voice and we want to speak out and make these changes positive, make changes in a positive way, so we can help these young recruits and young student-athletes down the line."
On that note of the camps, you as a player, your teammates, what's you guys' reaction when you see the claims that Jim Harbaugh has hijacked college football, that he's using these camps as a promo tool and not doing what the camps are designed for. How do you guys react to that negative kind of attacks on him?
"Yeah, honestly I think that's absolutely bizarre and there's no factual—there's no facts to back that claim up whatsoever. I can tell you from being a player of coach Harbaugh he is always looking for ways to help us out both as football players, as students, and as young men and he's always looking for ways—and he wasn't breaking any rules. He was out here trying to help this program but also help these student-athletes and help some of these smaller colleges.
"So, it's bigger than what we're doing here at Michigan with the ban on satellite camps. It's bigger than what's going on. It's really…we're looking to help student-athletes get their name out there and get recruited, and when you strip them of this opportunity it kind of sits [not] well. And maybe that's where some of the blame is being pushed. I don't know. This is a tough situation and I hope they can figure it out."