it's a major award
College Cup! Congratulations to the men's soccer team, which upset #2 seed Maryland 3-2 with their second golden goal of the NCAA tournament to advance to their first-ever College Cup. That's amazingly-named freshman Fabio Pereira Villas Boas about to slot home the winner above. He is from Brazil. Of course he his. Michigan survived a 33-18 shot deficit, surging from 1-0 down to 2-1 ahead before conceding a late equalizer and setting up the above moment. I wish I could have seen it.
Television beckons, albeit at odd hours: Michigan takes on Akron at 11 PM Friday*. The other semi is #1 Louisville vs #4 North Carolina and is at 8:30. All the information you could possibly need about watching or attending has been compiled by I Blue Myself.
It will be tough for Michigan. They're the only lower-seeded team to make the final four in a chalky tournament and are taking on the team that destroyed them 7-1 earlier this year. I'm not sure if these guys are still around but last year the US took a youth international team to the Milk Cup and literally every Akron starting defender made the team and I think three of them started. The Zips survived penalty kicks to advance against Cal in a 3-3 game but have lost just once this year and are 20-1-2.
We will deploy a liveblog Friday night to track the game. BONUS: Photos and game story from the Daily.
*(This is the correct day this time. I did not check my email and found out the soccer game was Saturday literally as I sat down at Crisler.)
Jimmy Johnson approves, and if you get this reference you watch too much television at odd hours and have no excuse about not watching the soccer game. Amongst the many events of the weekend was the Attack Of The Futile Contract Extensions at Stanford and—for some reason this keeps getting brought up on Michigan boards—San Diego State. SDSU's Brady Hoke signed a five year extension after turning the Aztecs into an okay Mountain West program. Jim Harbaugh has had the moon and stars put on a plate by the Stanford AD.
These are for show, conveniently timed so that no one can FOIA the contracts and find out the buyout provisions that really establish how much of a commitment is being made both ways. Stanford's a private institution and isn't vulnerable to the FOIA either but still, if Harbaugh sticks around it's not going to be because of anything the Stanford AD can offer but chooses not to. FWIW, the Stanford AD said this:
Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby has made a pre-emptive offer to sweeten Jim Harbaugh's contract before the coach even gets offered other jobs.
"We have a proposal in front of Jim and he's indicated he plans to accept it," Bowlsby said Sunday. "He's got this year and four more on his contract. I expect that he will be our coach in the foreseeable future."
It is Harbaugh or bust for people hoping to replace Rodriguez this offseason—Michigan's playing the other hot coaching name of the offseason in the bowl game, and past Dan Mullen the pickings are slim as long as the guys at mid-major powers are hanging onto their jobs with a death grip.
Speaking of the bit about being at Crisler. Aside from the ten minute stretch where Michigan literally did not score for two commercial breaks and watched Harvard go on a 17-3 run, that was fun. Unfortunately, ten minutes is a quarter of a basketball game. Various small items:
- Michigan spent the entire game in man to man and never offered help to the guy checking Harvard's elbow-happy but extremely effective center, even when that guy was Evan Smotrycz. He blew up. I was a little peeved by the lack of adjustment there. I may have to take back my thing about how Morgan is a really good defender. He got worked multiple times; now I'm guessing that Clemson's big guys aren't very good and Morgan will have a more conventional baptism by fire as a freshman. McLimans did have a sweet block.
- Stu! UMHoops points out he's now at 48% on the season from three.
- Vogrich makes me cringe every time he puts the ball on the floor but at least he nailed both of his wide open looks.
- The offense stood in contrast to the post defense, as they struggled mightily through the first half and then found a barrage of backdoor cuts and sweet assists in the second half. It seemed like Beilein knew what Harvard was doing and how to attack it but couldn't get the team to respond until he had 15 minutes to explain it to his young team. Michigan responded with an eFG of 69% in the second half and that could have been better if Michigan hadn't missed about four layups.
- The short/homely referees are always the bad ones. They got into refereeing because the quickest way to get revenge on the universe is to annoy thousands of people packed in one place. It's always the ugly guys.
- The game did not set a record for most missed wide open corner threes, but it sure seemed headed that way after ten minutes.
- I do not miss Manny Harris at all. He was great and all that but watching him play was frustrating. His junior year reminded me of Al Montoya's. Both were supremely talented but checked out mentally because they wanted to play for dollars and made a mistake by returning. Montoya was a mess; Harris got suspended for something or other in practice and never met a lazy three pointer he didn't like en route to another year with impressive numbers as long as you don't look at the eFG%.
This team is probably going to be as good as last year's—let that sink in.
Also, let me express my special frustration at Tommy Amaker, who waited until he left Michigan to become a controversial but effective recruiter (for the Ivy League, anyway) and tactical wizard. Beilein:
“Tommy (Amaker) just took us out of everything,” Beilein said. “We had to put in a lot of specials. I watched the film, painfully, from three years ago when we played them and they had a similar attack defensively. So we had to do some different things.
“Not that all of it worked.”
Rest assured that if Rodriguez does get let go he'll go to Clemson and wreck fools.
UMHoops also has a new post type featuring key plays. Here's one that demonstrates the difference between Morris 2009 and Morris 2010:
As he continues to develop he should start asserting more authority over the offense. With Amaker's tactical wizardry stalling out the offense for big chunks of the first half he should have taken more control.
Icon. Charles Woodson's Big Ten Icons bit:
Continued in part two.
Higher than him on the list are Some Person You've Never Heard Of and various Penn State Players Who Never Played In The Big Ten, but whatever.
It makes sense. The Big Ten announced it is not going to put together a silly 14 or 16 team super conference and is set at 12. Hurray. For one last bout of madness: a theory. The WAC and Mountain West should be one conference with two divisions that uses promotion and relegation in the hopes the top conference can get a BCS bid.
Etc.: You can cease your theories about January first being a magic day that saves the U a million and a half hypothetical Rodriguez buyout dollars. Michigan has to provide "30 days written notice" if they make a move. I'm with MVictors anyway: that's chump change in the scheme of things. Michigan learned the hard way last time that doing the usual legal settlement dance causes local columnists to freak out unless John Beilein is involved.
Actual News, Injuries
Practice schedule: They'll start Friday afternoon, go Saturday morning, and have 4-5 practices in between payers' finals the following week. First 4-5 practices working on "our own things." Need that fundamental work - and it would be good because the teams play similar offensive styles. Start putting in a gameplan end of next week. They'll have 11-12 practices in Ann Arbor, and 4-5 at the bowl site. Practices: benefit to get some fundamental work in. Lots of guys getting first bowl game, exciting for them.
The guys who are out for the year, like Martavious Odoms, Van Slyke, and Mike Jones, probably won't be available for the game, but they might be able to practice. "We're hoping that Van Slyke and Mike Jones will be able to do some things in practice... just to get them back working a bit will be good."
Lots of players beat up, including Denard. From the BGSU game, he hasn't been 100%. Having time off from football will heal him up. "Probably the best he's felt since the first couple games." His fingers are fine, he should be 100% by first practice. JR Hemingway should be fine, Darryl Stonum will be pretty healthy. Guys who were banged up for last few games should be OK, including Mike Martin and Jonas Mouton.
Defensive position changes: Putting Roh back down on the line helped, some of the personnel moves were by necessity with injuries. "Some of the others coming back healthy, we may be able to lock guys in there." Some coaches experiment with position changes during bowl practices, but Michigan may not be in a position to do that with the practice schedule.
Open competition among kickers starting in Friday practice. "We'll address that in recruiting as well," but he's more worried about the guys getting the confidence to perform in a game. Will Hagerup is back, and will make the bowl trip.
Michigan will wear Blue uniforms in the bowl, Mississippi State will wear white (H/T: @MVictors).
On Mississippi State
Rich has had no chance to look at MSU film this year, but he watched them on TV a couple times. He knows Mullen a bit and is familiar with the spread, he knows a couple defensive players from past recruiting. They run some spread principles, so Michigan will practice with some "good-on-good" (offense starters v. defense starters) to get ready.
Knows they did well against Auburn (though he hasn't had a chance to watch that game), and it should be a good football game. The SEC had lots of options for the Gator bowl, and the final selection depended heavily on the outcome of the league championship game.
In the past, lots of coaches came to visit WVU to learn the offense, especially after the Sugar Bowl. Florida (and Mullen) traded ideas with Rich at West Virginia, but both offensive staffs have tweaked their schemes since then. PSU and OSU were among the teams who learned at West Virginia, so Rich was worried he might have shared a bit too much when he came to Michigan (jokingly).
Cowbells: WVU played against Mississippi State a few years back, and is thus familiar with that school's "more cowbell!" tradition. They (RR's WVU) rang cowbells all week in practice. Somebody at WVU called this week to offer up all the cowbells they still have. "Our guys will hear them in practice here the next few weeks."
About Mullen's comments on Denard: "Maybe he forgot about the Auburn game."
The experience of practicing in another big city for a big game helps the payers grow. The added practices help too. Freshmen, redshirt frosh, sophs, who need work should be improved.
Evaluation process/job security: "You have to understand what Dave's position is with all his coaches." He has to worry about doing his job. "There's always obstacles in recruiting," so it could hurt a bit. "We'll maybe have to work hard in January to close with some guys, but we've had to do that before." He's met with Brandon throughout the year to talk about football, etc.
"The progress has been slow, but it has been progress... There's a lot of areas that we can get better quickly, and that's gonna take the next step." Going to a bowl will help with that a bit, because they get practice time, and get to grow together as a team and program.
On reactions to the Groban song: "Everybody's gonna have opinions on things, and that's fine." Emotional state: "Every coach has their own personality. I've probably always been emotional at our senior banquets." Has always felt close to players, and this senior class. "I thought the crowd was really appreciative of our senior class."
Feel in coaching limbo?: "It's a unique situation, and you deal with it the best you can." Recruiting is going well, they'll sign 18-20 guys, and are exicted about the guys who are interested. "We tell them we plan on being here and being their coach, and telling them all the positive things about the school and the football program." Recruits can come watch practices if they're open to public, some local recruits in Florida might swing by. More important for recruiting is getting your name in the paper, and giving Florida-based M players play close to home.
Exciting to become bowl eligible, guys got excited again to be in a Jan 1 bowl, Florida guys were excited to be playing down there. "Staying together for another 2-3 weeks as a football family" will be good. "It's somewhat of a reward of course, you want them to enjoy themselves... you've got to remember that the main thing is to go down there and win the game." More prestige to playing in a New Year's Day bowl, "I think the bowl system is so neat for the programs and for the fans..." likes some aspects of the bowls vs. a playoff.
Familiar with the Gator Bowl. They do good stuff with fans, Rodriguez has been there within the past 4 years. At WVU, the team stayed out at Sawgrass, this year they'll stay downtown. Terrific venue, exciting for players and fans. "They do as good a job as anybody in the country." Gator Bowl as a player: "That was almost 30 years ago." Played FSU in a night game. Fell into a puddle of mud on kick coverage. Was cold for the rest of the half, because he was only on special teams.
Will look at past gameplans for bowl games. Doesn't want to try to do too much. The Georgia gameplan for the Sugar Bowl was a very simple one, because they didn't want guys to worry about big-game jitters, etc. "We have to make sure we don't try to do too much, in actuality probably do less." All coaches go into the bowl game - or any game whatever it is - thinking "this has gotta be the game." There's always pressure to win though, and they'll do their thing coaching.
Coach's poll ballot: "The two teams clearly had outstanding seasons... TCU is phenomenal, they're every bit as worthy of talking in the same conversation with Auburn and Oregon." Those top two played tougher schedules, so he voted them 1 and 2. RR will vote on conference lines a bit as well. Most coaches think their league is a bit better, even their team a bit. Part of the allure of college football is that there's a lot to talk about with rankings and such.
Denard being Offensive POY but not All-Big Ten: "I don't know if that's happened before. How can you be player of the year, but not good enough to be first team?" May serve as some motivation for Denard going into next year. It was a great year for QBs in the Big Ten.
Roundtree's mindset after drops: "He had a couple, but he had a couple big plays, too." Really proud of his year still, didn't realize how close to 1000 yards he was.
Gator Bowl Chairman Steve Tremel
Pleased with opportunity to officially invite Michigan. "To have a team like the University of Michigan represented there is just fabulous." It's been since 1991 that M has been there, so the Gator Bowl is excited.
MSU (not that MSU) is ranked 20th by the AP, and Michigan is a great program and team, so it makes for an exciting matchup.
"I promise this is not the weather you'll see on New Year's Day."
"Good morning. I would like to formally accept." Heard late afternoon yesterday, and accepted "with great enthusiasm." Gator bowl representatives have been working hard, and he's excited to work through everything with them.
Excited to play a top-20 team on New Year's Day.
Brandon did not take questions from the media.
Y'all ready for this? oonts oonts oonts oonts
So you know this already because I'm slightly late because I thought they'd embargo the news until the "Bowl Selection Specials" about to drop on the teevees, but Michigan is going to play Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl. Press release:
Football to Face #21 Mississippi State in 2011 Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The University of Michigan football program will participate in the 40th bowl game in program history, facing No. 21 Mississippi State University in the 2011 Gator Bowl played at EverBank Field on New Year’s Day 2011. The game will kick off at 1:30 p.m. EST and will be nationally-televised by ESPN2.
“We are excited about representing the Big Ten Conference in the Gator Bowl,” said Athletic Director Dave Brandon. “Our players, coaches and football support staff have worked hard all season and this is a great reward for them. We have great alumni and fan support in the Sunshine State and I anticipate a large Michigan contingent in Jacksonville.”
This will be the third time that Michigan has played in the Gator Bowl. The Wolverines’ initial appearance came on Dec. 28, 1976, a 17-15 loss to North Carolina. Michigan evened its Gator Bowl mark with a dominating 35-3 victory over Mississippi on Jan. 1, 1991.
The Wolverines (7-5, 3-5 Big Ten) will face the Bulldogs (8-4, 4-4 SEC) for the first time. This will be the 30th time that Michigan faces a SEC school (23-5-1 record all-time), with the Wolverines compiling a 7-3 mark against the conference in bowl games.
This is the first year of a four-year agreement between the Big Ten, SEC and the Gator Bowl. Visit www.gatorbowl.com for more information on the 2011 Gator Bowl.
The Wolverines have compiled a 19-20 record in bowl games and will be looking to even their mark with a victory in the Gator Bowl.
Ticket Information: The U-M Athletic Ticket Office will begin selling tickets to the 2011 Gator Bowl on Monday, Dec. 6, at 8:30 a.m. EST. Tickets range from $60 to $125, and will be assigned based on the Victors Club priority point program. Fans can purchase tickets online at MGoBlue.com/tickets or by calling the ticket office at 866-296-MTIX or 734-764-0247.
Alumni Tour: The Alumni Association is taking reservations for the official University of Michigan Bowl tour at 877-513-2320 or http://www.michigansportstours.com. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS TOUR WILL INCLUDE GAME TICKETS. You can also find information about the U-M bowl pep rally featuring the team, marching band and cheerleaders and a pre-game tailgate at www.umalumni.com or by calling 800-847-4764.
Comments from Michigan Head Coach Rich Rodriguez
About playing in the Gator Bowl … “We are excited about the opportunity to play a very good Mississippi State team in the Gator Bowl. They run a first-class operation and our players will really enjoy the experience. I’ve always enjoyed my previous experiences at the Gator Bowl.”
About playing Mississippi State … “Mississippi State is a great team and has been consistently ranked among the top 25 this season. Dan Mullen and his staff have done an outstanding job. It should be a great matchup and we look forward to playing them on New Year’s Day.”
About his past trips to the Gator Bowl … “I have been fortunate to have coached in several Gator Bowls and I also played in it. They do a great job of hosting the teams and making the bowl experience a memorable one for the players. I look forward to seeing many of the Gator Bowl representatives who have become friends over the years.”
So instead of Florida's dysfunctional offense and loads of talent Michigan gets the offensive braintrust behind the Gators' most recent run and… not so much talent. As far as matchups go, I actually watched that 10-7 MSU win over Florida earlier in the year, and in that game the number of passing attempts the Bulldogs put up in the second half was either zero or one. I can't remember exactly. They're 91st in pass offense but decent in efficiency because they have a run-pass breakdown nearing Pat White WVU territory—with 561 runs against just 265 passes, MSU runs 68% of the time.
Starting quarterback Chris Relf had to fend off a challenge from Tyler Russell early in the year; Relf is a dual threat sort, Russell a pocket passer. Relf's MSU's second leading rusher with almost 700 yards. Vick Ballard and LaDarius Perkins are both over 500 yards as well, with Ballard the clear preference near the goal line with 16 touchdowns. They run an offense similar to Illinois, with a lot of triple option. The rush offense is 16th nationally but only averaging 4.6 YPC—not bad, but not awesome.
An extremely rush-oriented team with a somewhat erratic quarterback is as close to a "good" matchup as Michigan's broken defense will get. So we've got that going for us.
Their defense is good against the run—they're giving up just 3.5 YPC—but not so good against the pass, at least in terms of yardage. They're 89th in yardage but 50th in efficiency.
As far as their season went, they were 8-4 but their best nonconference game was against 5-7 CUSA team Houston and they narrowly escaped from their game against UAB by kicking a couple of fourth quarter field goals to win by five. In the SEC they missed Vandy, South Carolina, and Tennessee but went up against the loaded west. Games against LSU and Alabama did not go well but they were the only team to hold Auburn under a billion points in a 17-14 loss; they also took Arkansas to double overtime.
FEI has them 33rd, with Michigan 47th. S&P, which tends to favor explosive plays, has Michigan 30th and Mississippi State 35th. By the numbers it's an even matchup. More tomorrow.
Though the buzz late last week centered on the commitment status of FL RB Demetrius Hart, it is FL QB Kevin Sousa that withdraws his commitment from the Maize and Blue instead. Sousa has switched his commitment to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
Sousa isn't a highly-rated prospect, and would probably have needed a couple years of development before he was ready to play at this level, but that seemed like the perfect fit for Michigan, as Devin Gardner will be just a second-year player next season.
So, if Michigan still intends to bring in a quarterback in the class of 2011, it seems that OH QB Cardale Jones, a product of Cleveland Glenville High School - infamous for its unfriendly stance toward Michigan - is the top prospect on the board, as NC QB Marquise Williams seems set for Virginia Tech. Though there are only three signal-callers on scholarship for next season, I think it's also an option to leave the position unfilled, and pursue top prospects in the 2012 class.
Dave's Decision: 2011
Dear citizens of this Great Nation of Diary,
We stand at the doorstep of a new era of Michigan football. Whose era that will be, well, that's up for discussion, apparently a lot of discussion.
As partisan lines harden, the diaries section has been filled with bloggers intending to help Dave Brandon make his most momentous end-of-year coaching assessment yet. The readers have even invented a neat little title tag, "CC:" to denote any coaching-related discussion and make it easier for those who want to avoid it to keep away (co-sign), but not before user jhackney, our resident MGo-Gonzo Journalist, somehow got his neg button replaced with The Red Button:
With apologies to those for whom that ad brings up bad memories.
His point (this isn't his point) is well-taken: whoever wins the most David Brandonectoral votes in January will be in command of the most dangerous weapon (pic by MonuMental) ever devised by the Big Ten:
The stakes are high: since I am unable to divorce enjoyment of life from the adventures of Michigan football, whichever coach is chosen must win Big Ten Championships, end the Ohio State streak, re-tie the hoodie we keep MSU trapped in, continue politely breaking ND fans' hearts, and be Michigan Manly while doing it.
Some may believe that the One Man has already cast his one vote, that this is actually part of some great conspiracy involving a cabal of Les Miles, Leslie Nielsen, churchgoing redheads and Dominos (bwgrundt1484 – it's pretty funny).
Anything that was just e-pinion or stream of consciousness was bumped down to the boards, or in some cases just nuked; my cutoff for Diaries on this topic is whether or not the author has provided a bare minimum amount of new information or insight. The following is a rundown of the survivors.
Notes: "m's" is my completely subjective rating of the article's persuasiveness, referring to the number of 'm's I mentally put in the word "hmmm" after reading it before moving on. A 1 is "hm" -- basically a grunt. A 5 is hmmmmm, or "wow, that's really insightful." They're listed in order of (my opinion of) reading importance:
Experience vs defensive performance
||ebv||Probably JH but it wasn't intended as an election article, just is.||Uses class (not age) data from every school to see if that correlates to D.||5|
|MGoBoard: "'Should we keep Rodriguez?' 'Yes.'"||
|RR||Poll update as of 11/29 tracking||5|
|ikestoys||RR||By FEI, M has improved a lot since '08||4|
|In depth analysis of Stanford's D under Harbaugh||
|JH slightly||A good rundown of Stanford's D under Harbaugh||4|
|Lack of improvement, Quantified||Nonnair||JH||Mistakes during 1st half drives are M-2010's problem||3|
|A different look at the importance of experience||2012||On fence||Good defenses have few freshmen starters||3|
|Rich Rodriguez vs John L Smith||
|JH||Some parallels btw yardage and scoring O/D||2|
|Jim Harbaugh transition easier then you think?||The program||JH||Tries (and fails) to assess a 2011 starting lineup under JH||1||
..wait, Gardner&Cox whut?
|Hard to Disagree with Both "Sides"||snoopblue||RR-ish||It's not an easy decision. Mostly just e-pinion.||1|
|RR||Patience: RR's excuses are good ones||1|
For the record, just so you know my biases, I would vote for four more years! with the conditional proviso of major changes (either Casteel, or a Shannon-type hire who gets complete control) in the Department of Defense, because I don't want to be one of those schools who fires their head coach before he graduates a class.
Also: If Harbaugh's elected (and decides to run), he would have my complete support.
Also Also: I don't get a vote.
Also Also Also: I realize I invited a little with the election-y metaphor here but keep the real politics out of the comments. If you think anything in this analogy favors any political side, e-mail me and I'll change that as quickly as I can.* The intent is to have none.
Hope for Change (of the Subject)
Last week I urged Enjoy Life to continue a new "unforced errors" wrinkle to his turnover tracking, after his Wisconsin autopsy revealed this:
Also: EJ's weekly turnover & special teams disaster spectacular.
Also also: Diarist of the Week.
(By the way, DotW gets 200 MGoPoints. I've been doing this quietly for several weeks and guess I didn't tell anybody. Oops).
Since talking Michigan is too painful, some of us started looking Big Picture, or at least Big Ten. I did a little game-by-game comparison of MSU/Ohio State/Wisconsin. Then Coach Schiano one-upped me with a graph of who beat who etc. that lead to actual calculations of Big Ten seasonry:
The graph is simple to understand: each team is a node (circle), and there is an line connecting each team that played another team. The line is actually an arrow, making this a directed graph, in the obvious form: if there is an arrow from Team A's node to Team B's node, it means Team A beat Team B. Here is the graph:
So then, of course, joeyb came in to one-up Schiano by applying this concept to the entire FBS:
The first thing that I tried to do to fix this was to weight the games. Instead of automatically giving a team a path of length one for a win, I started dividing that by the number of scores (8 points) that a team won by. So, winning by 24 points, or 3 scores, would give you a path length of .333 over that team. This works out really well because it benefits teams that win by 2 or 3 scores, but it doesn't benefit teams too much for going beyond that.
Next week: MGoDiarist creates graph analysis of all matter to create a single unifying theory.
My understanding of graph analysis is that it works better the more various nodes interact, so doing this for every college team will net really weird results and doing it for the Pac Ten (until 2011) would work best.
Drakeep discovered that Big Ten teams fared the best among FBS conferences vs winning teams this year (probably because beating two 7-5 Big Ten teams is worth more than beating a 10-2 SEC team and a 5-7 SEC team, but if you have this conversation with an SEC fan they might not know that.
Brady2Terrell found that The Year of Infinite Pain and The Year We Expected 7-5 and Got It had little in common beyond their records.
This wasn't a diary, but BleedingBlue gave an historical account of the Rich Rod era (so far?) in pictures:
To this, Michigan4Life replied with an alternative history writ in kittens.
And finally, I want to extend a personal THANK YOU to all the MGoBlog readers and fans who contributed gifts, money, and time for this year's Adopt-a-Shelter. Again, several readers (and readers' mothers) showed up to help. Again, the Salvation Army officers mentioned to me they were impressed at the Amazon gifts that kept coming. Again, Mitch Albom didn't seem to know we exist. Special shout-out to reader/non-commenter Robyn Morawski, who patiently sat around for hours after the event so that every single kid would have their printed picture with Santa Claus.
* Unless it's about the borders: RR coaches Michigan (navy blue), Harbaugh coaches Stanford (cardinal red), and I used the official school colors for each. Yes, these are U.S. major party colors. Yes, that was on purpose. No, the color of the party and the color of the coach does not say a damn thing about the coach's candidacy.
Bust happening one. There was one piece of a news-type thing that transpired at last night's football bust. It was Dave Brandon saying this:
LIVONIA - When emcee Frank Beckmann made an off-hand quip about the Michigan football team headed west for its upcoming bowl game, athletic director Dave Brandon corrected him.
“I think we’re going in a different direction,” Brandon said Thursday at the podium during the team's annual football banquet at the Laurel Manor.
That direction would be south to Florida, whereupon Michigan would play an SEC team of some variety. An eagle-eyed reader with a strange method of surfing Michigan's ticket website stumbled across two "hidden" items and sent them along. They are tickets for the Insight and Gator bowls. If Michigan isn't going west and isn't preparing to sell Outback tickets, this means Michigan would play Florida in the Gator. The Gator Bowl has just publicly declared it doesn't give two dangs about anything but "heads in beds, fannies in seats and big TV ratings," so that sounds like they're going for Dread Ferrari sex appeal over the Americanzi*.
This avoids the ten-win-opponent gauntlet on either side and sets up a fascinating matchup between Florida's offense and Michigan's defense, except it probably won't be that fascinating because as soon as they step on the field against Michigan, Florida will look like MC 900 Foot Tebow is at the helm again. If form holds they'll still lose because Michigan puts up 40.
*(Note to self: try very hard not to misspell this by transposing the final A and N.)
Bust happening two. The other thing the newspapers are reporting today is an "emotional" or "emotional" Rich Rodriguez making a case for his job, which probably shouldn't affect anyone's decision but will make everyone feel worse if the plug gets pulled:
“My name is Rich Rodriguez,” he said. “I’m honored to be the football coach at Michigan. I hope you realize I want to be a Michigan man.”
Guh. That Michigan's head coach would have to say something like that in year three is a depressing summary of the state of things.
Apparently something by someone named Josh Groban was referenced, horrifying the Michigan twittersphere and thrilling those of rivals. I don't know who that is, and where I'd normally set about fixing my old-manness in this department it sounds like ignorance is bliss here. I will take the opportunity to remind you that Special K is the center of all evil in this universe and his power is only growing. INCREDIBLY DORKY AND OVERWROUGHT ANALOGY HO: Michigan Stadium feels like one of the Elven havens after the destruction of the one ring, its ancient power slowly leaching from it, permitting intruders like men and Saliva to breach its hallowed ground.
In other verklemptness. Denard accepting his MVP:
Lon Hordowel/Ann Arbor.com
Bust bit of information that is not really a happening but is interesting. Michigan's share of the pie for their game in Jerryworld is a whopping 4.7 million dollars. The News says this is "roughly" what Michigan gets for a home game, so Michigan gets to play a real opponent in one-off without sacrificing any dollars. Insert usual complaint about how the Big Ten's excessive revenue sharing encourages big games played thousands of miles from campus over home-and-home series that are more convenient and authentic than preseason bowl games in generic corporate stadia. I would much rather go to a game in Tuscaloosa than Dallas.
Football of the other variety. This weekend Michigan will attempt to do one better than its best-ever finish in soccer by beating #2 seed Maryland and advancing to the College Cup in Santa Barbara, whereupon their games will actually be on television. Getting past the Terps will be a tall order. They're 19-2-1, have won 15 straight, and are seeded higher than the Akron team that crushed Michigan 7-1 a month and a half ago.
There's no TV but I am pretty sure this will be a web stream of the game, which is Sunday at 1.
As a side note, I think it would help soccer's attendance considerably if they started having more consistent scheduling. Football's something you should probably avoid, but why not play on Sunday at a consistent time as often as possible? Michigan's home games were on Saturday(3), Wednesday(6), and Friday(2), with just one on Sunday. I get that you're going to have a lot of Wednesday night games because of scheduling issues but it seems like they should make an effort to get a consistent date and time going for weekend games.
It's all about the pants. ESPN Rise has a slightly hyperbolic profile of Carlton Brundidge, who "combines drive of a beast, dad's instilled military discipline." Biographical tidbit: Brundige's older sister was a Michigan swimmer named Clinique, which is a brand name for makeup and reminds me of Idiocracy.
But the real reason I'm bringing this to your attention is awesome pants:
We need warmups like that so hard.
Etc.: The Big Chill rink is extant and "perfect" according to Berenson. AA.com has a video interview. Tom Brady in ugg boots. Justice Hayes is staying local even if Rodriguez leaves because Fred Jackson is a permanent fixture. Mets Maize on Rodriguez the person.
[Ed-M: Well, f.
In case you went to bed last night thinking that Michigan will be playing in a bowl game, a competent CEO-type athletic director is in charge of the program, and a 5-star-ish recruit perfect for our offensive system will be enrolling in January, you seem to have been 2/3rds correct.
Regarding Dee Hart, I talked to someone close to him and it looks like the rumors may have legs. Not sure specifics yet.
The news inspired a 500-response thread and at least one user getting caved. As an attempt to restore sanity, and because I trust Tom, I am bumping Tom's diary on the subject (and on other RB options Michigan is in good shape with) to the front page.
At the moment, this seems to be rumor, but believeable. It becomes fact when Dee Hart says it is; until then we have a source close to Dee who says it's fact. For those of you who remember getting burned by Will Campbell only for a "just joking" thing after, this doesn't feel like that.
If you stick a gun to my head and say "okay Misopogon, you tell me why Hart decommitted right this second or I'll blow your brains all over your precious internet," I would say that Dee wants to get his college football career underway at the beginning of January, and Michigan wants to make a decision on who will be his head coach after that. This opinion is entirely conjecture, conflicts with a previous statement made by Hart, and should be taken as no more than that. Expect something more informative and concrete from Brian or Tim later today. Here's Tom: [/Misopogon]
TomVH: Dee Hart Alternatives
Hopefully everyone's calmed down from the Demetrius Hart news. For those of you that follow me on Twitter, I did talk to someone close to him and it looks like he will be decommitting. He's shut down contact, so I wasn't able to get a hold of him or his family. They don't like to disappoint people, so I'm not sure how much contact they'll have. The Michigan coaches will be making a visit out to try to do damage control with Dee. We'll see what ultimately happens with it, things can change.
Moving on from that, Justice Hayes is committed, Michigan is hoping Thomas Rawls makes grades, and there's two more options out there. Tre Mason (5'10", 190 lbs, 4 Star) and Devondrick Nealy (5'10", 175 lbs, 3 Star). Michigan is in great position with Nealy, and we most likely lead.
Mason is one to watch, and I talked to him tonight. He was interested and intrigued with the news of Demetrius Hart. I asked him about Michigan, and he had this to say.
I like Michigan, but Coach Dews has been talking to me about defense lately, and I do not want to play defense. I like Auburn a lot too, but if Michigan wanted me back as a running back then they'd have a good shot at me. I'm looking at depth charts and everything, so we'll see.
You have to think that Michigan had been talking defense with Tre because they had Demetrius Hart and Justice Hayes committed. They didn't have room for a third running back of the same kind. If Demetrius does in fact decommit then I would assume Michigan would tell Tre that they want him on offense again. Just something to keep an eye on if everything goes down as it seems like it will.
It is mailbag time, and this necessarily involves talking about the various job securities of the various coaches on the staff. Apologies in advance for this.
I've followed the program pretty closely for the last few decades through friends, family, and former players. Wondering if your general opinion of Brady Hoke's competence as a head coach continues to reflect your 2007 assessment?
That 2007 assessment was a "Profile in Cronyism" at the dark point of the coaching search when reasonable options were thin on the ground and names like Hoke and Jim Grobe were getting thrown around, and it laid out the case that no reasonable Big Ten program, let alone Michigan, could possibly consider Hoke for a head coaching gig. At the time he was 22-36 at Ball State and had just finished his first winning season, that a 7-6 campaign. "Evidence suggests Hoke is outclassed in the MAC," I said at the time.
So of course Hoke immediately ripped off the best season in Ball State history, finishing the regular season before inexplicably losing to Buffalo in the MAC championship game. San Diego State hired him away, whereupon former Michigan offensive coordinator Stan Parrish took over. Parrish wasted no time impressing his indelible stamp on the program by losing 45-13. Hoke took over a 2-10 program; in his second year they're 8-4. Since the four losses have come against Missouri, BYU, TCU, and Utah and the biggest deficit was five points against TCU(though that game wasn't nearly as close as all that), his resume is now a plausible Big Ten resume…
…at Minnesota, where he's a rumored candidate. I know the emailer wasn't suggesting that Hoke would be considered for the Michigan job, but it's worth mentioning that Michigan's coaching search got so desperate in 2007 that a guy who put up a 12-2 season and has turned around San Diego State but still doesn't have a reasonable resume was getting kicked around.
I know you briefly alluded to this on TWIS, but what are the chances that Randy Shannon could possibly come and be our defensive coordinator? There are SO many great reasons why:
- He graduates players (I believe he had one of the highest APR rates for a BCS school)
- Pipeline to the South, especially Florida, so we can get their recruits
- Much better than GERG
- Able to relate to all sorts of players with different backgrounds
- Players stayed out of trouble
The only thing is whether or not Rich Rod would be willing to forgo the 3-3-5 or if Randy Shannon can coach the 3-3-5.
Speaking of which – isn’t that the hinge question? Do we want someone who can actually coach the 3-3-5 or do we want someone to switch to the 3-4 or 4-3?
I made a joking reference to Shannon in TWIS without thinking much other than "this is a defensive coach who is not Robinson," but… yeah, seriously. Unlike Robinson, Shannon has a track record of recent college success. His current team is 16th in total D and 22nd in scoring, seventh in sacks, first in TFLs, and third in pass efficiency D. FEI has them third nationally*.
Downsides: they got bombed by Florida State and gave up 31 to Virginia Tech—both games featured rushes of over eighty yards, and Shannon's had access to the steady stream of insane athletes that just hangs out at Miami Northwestern so his defenses probably should be pretty good.
Still, Wikipedia sayeth:
During Shannon's six years as UM's defensive coordinator, his defenses ranked as follows in total defense nationally:
Dang. Once he got the top job at Miami there was some dropoff, as Shannon's Ds finished 33rd, 28th, 29th, and 16th in yardage. FEI has the Shannon defenses, 41st (2007), 65th (2008), 18th, and 3rd, which is really interesting since the conventional measure hardly differentiates between Shannon's first three years.
That's a full decade of defenses somewhere between bludgeoning and decent, mostly bludgeoning. And as anyone who's watched a Miami game in the last four years can tell you, Shannon is a great guy with a heartbreaking life story who graduated his kids and kept them out of trouble. He should help Michigan's Florida recruiting even further, as he's a guy respected across the state. If Michigan changes DCs again they could do much worse.
The 3-3-5 issue shouldn't come up. Shannon's spent his entire career playing and coaching Miami's basic 4-3 cover two; asking him to run anything else would be as nuts as hiring a guy who'd driven Syracuse into a crater and asking him to run a defense he doesn't know, and one of the preconditions to keeping Rodriguez around should be "no more transparently nuts decisions, okay?"
*(Guess who's #1: West Virginia. FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUU.)
On the inefficiency of the offense:
So I found out why we suck. Turns out it isn't our defense. The reason we cant win is because of the offense and whatever kicker we trot out there to kick FGs. Look at the comparison between yards/game rank vs. points/yd rank among the top 30 offenses (total offense by total yards, not yds/game). We rank #6 in yds/game but #26 in pts/yd. So we move a ton of yards without getting much in return. Well, i should say we don't get enough in return. You'd think or expect our yd/game rank to be in the neighborhood of our pts/yd rank....but we have the worst differential among the top 30 offenses (total yards). Who knows where we'd rank if I went to all FBS teams.
What's also interesting is who is at the top. Teams with a high negative delta (pts/yd rank minus yd/game rank) get more points than they should be expected to. This can be because of a number of factors--they don't turn the ball over, they don't miss field goals, and/or their defense forces turnovers and provides shorter fields for the offense. In any case we now know why such a boring Wisconsin offense scores so many fricking points. They are #1 in pts/yd. OSU is #5. Neither of these teams are prolific, but they are extremely efficient and they don't screw up. Oregon, Boise State, and TCU are just fricking awesome all around. Stanford is another team that makes the most of its chances. Michigan's delta goes in the other direction (yd/game is awesome...pts/game not so much). Obviously we need to move the two numbers closer together.
Oh, if we scored .0868366 pts/yd, which is what NIU got at #6 in pts/yd rank (and closer to where we should be) we would have scored about 110 more points this year. If we had Wisconsin's, we would have scored 167 more points this year...hopefully all against OSU, WISC, PSU, Iowa, and MSU.
In summary... our defense can continue to suck and there will still be hope. Our offense needs to perform on 8 cylinders all the time and we need to get a kicker...have we tried the women's soccer team?
TEAM YDS/G PTS/G pts/yd PPY RK YD/GM RANK Rank Delta Wisconsin 450.2 43.3 0.096 1 18 -17 Oregon 541.7 50.2 0.093 2 1 1 Boise State 525.5 46.4 0.088 3 4 -1 TCU 491.5 43.2 0.088 4 7 -3 Ohio State 448.8 39.4 0.088 5 19 -14 Northern Illinois 452 39.3 0.087 6 17 -11 Auburn 490.1 42.1 0.086 7 8 -1 East Carolina 445.5 38.2 0.086 8 22 -14 Stanford 467.3 39.8 0.085 9 14 -5 Oklahoma State 537.6 44.9 0.084 10 2 8 Southern Miss 458.2 37.6 0.082 11 15 -4 Nevada 536.9 43.3 0.081 12 3 9 Nebraska 424.3 33.8 0.080 13 27 -14 Alabama 435.6 34.4 0.079 14 25 -11 Hawaii 487.8 38.3 0.079 15 10 5 Houston 480.5 37.7 0.078 16 11 5 Tulsa 503.5 39.3 0.078 17 5 12 Oklahoma 480.1 37.5 0.078 18 12 6 San Diego State 448.5 35 0.078 19 20 -1 Arkansas 489.3 37.3 0.076 20 9 11 Kentucky 437.3 33 0.075 21 24 -3 Air Force 437.4 32.3 0.074 22 23 -1 USC 427.9 31.1 0.073 23 26 -3 Texas A&M 447.6 31.7 0.071 24 21 3 Texas Tech 452.6 31.9 0.071 25 16 9 Michigan 500.9 34.2 0.068 26 6 20 Baylor 478.5 32.6 0.068 27 13 14 Southern Methodist 422.8 27.9 0.066 28 28 0 Miami (FL) 422.6 27.1 0.064 29 30 -1 UAB 422.8 26.8 0.063 30 29 1
This is the thing about looking up at halftime and seeing around 250 yards and ten points in chart form: hoooo boy was Michigan bad at converting drives into points this year.
A chunk of this is on the kickers. I don't think Michigan made any calls a David Romer obsessive wouldn't regard as broadly correct because of their field goal situation, so all of the disadvantages going 4 of 13 provides should be encapsulated in FEI's kicking stat, in which Michigan has proudly reclaimed their crown as the worst in the nation. They're giving up an astounding 1.15 points relative to an average team every time they line up to kick. Pretending they're average closes the gap between themselves and puts them in a tie with A&M and Texas Tech; something in the 30s gets them slightly past.
Turnovers are another chunk. This one's not quite as easy to quantify. Michigan's 27 lost turnovers is 109th nationally. I'm going to take a wild stab at how much of Michigan's deficiency here is due to the huge TO rate that should be generally correct but vulnerable to a lot of niggling details, so bear with me. Michigan's drives last year excluding end-of-half situations that did not result in points:
- 43 punts
- 57 TDs
- 13 FGAs
- 27 turnovers
The national median in turnovers lost is 20. If we wave a wand and pretend this is Michigan's distribution, and leave the spread unchanged otherwise we get another 2.7 punts, 3.5 TDs, and eight tenths of a field goal. That's another two points a game, which gets Michigan up to… 22nd.
So then the rest of it is starting almost every drive at their 20 or worse thanks to a terrible defense, no punt return game, no kick return game, and everything else that goes into Michigan's average starting field position, in which Michigan ranks 92nd relative to the opponent.
If we're assigning blame, the the offense appear to be about 25% responsible thanks to those turnovers with special teams taking 50% and the defense 25%.
We have done this the last two years but it's worth noting that West Virginia was consistently positive in TO margin after Rodriguez's first year, so it's not like this is an artifact of the system. I know I keep saying this in defiance of persistently agonizing triple digit rankings. Maybe next year, when Rodriguez has an upperclassman at QB for the first time?
Do you weigh the fact that Harbaugh probably is available only this offseason in your calculation to retain RR for a fourth year? Does the presumed availability of a top-tier candidate with deep UM ties change the analysis of whether RR should be retained? It has to in my mind--I'm not sure what conclusion it leads me to--does it in your mind? Or do you challenge my assumption about only this offseason?
I'm not sure I agree with the premise. I can see Harbaugh sticking around for another year at Stanford if he knows he's got a shot at the job next year, or leaving his team a la Al Groh to coach his alma mater, or not actually getting a pro job offer for whatever reason. (Let's stipulate that there's no college job Michigan couldn't poach Harbaugh from and no college program is likely to be foolhardy enough to test that.) But it is accurate that Harbaugh is available now and might not be in the future.
Does that change the calculus? Yeah. Without Harbaugh sitting there with an 11-1 Stanford team he built by hand from the finest recruits known to Stanford, I don't think the conversation about Rodriguez's job security is anywhere near as intense. Who's the next hot guy? Patterson and Peterson seem married to their current schools, Chip Kelly isn't going anywhere. The two guys next on everyone's lips are Dana Holgorsen and Gus Mahlzahn, two offensive coordinators who have never been head coaches.
Sans Harbaugh, Michigan would probably take a look at the available options, glance back at Denard, and say "well, one more year probably can't hurt." With him, it's a choice between as-probable-as-it-gets long term success and an awkward fit with the Big Ten offensive player of the year, or hoping that someone can finally turn Rodriguez's defense at Michigan into something other than doom. There are worse spots to be in. There are better.
For live updates of the games I'm attending, follow me on Twitter @varsityblue. If you can help out finding articles on any of the commits, @reply me on Twitter or e-mail me, and I'll try to include your contribution.
FL RB Demetrius Hart
Now, the gory details:
Hart, a senior speedster who has orally committed to sign with Michigan, scored four times on runs from scrimmage, and also took a short pass 38 yards to the end zone and added a 68-yard punt return TD in another signature performance for an ever-humble star.
"Congratulations to my O-line, they've been working hard," Hart said of his performance. "That's the fruit of their efforts. It was a team effort, not just me."
Hart rushed for 129 yards on 18 carries and totaled 286 on runs, receptions and returns.
Hart is now the single-season scoring record-holder for Central Florida, as well as career. He will be invited to the US Army All-American Bowl on Thursday (at the start of 'A' lunch, of course). Official stats below come from the Dr. Phillips website.
|Demetrius Hart 2010|
|Cypress Creek||W 52-0||14||168||4||12.00||1||7||0||7.00||3||24||0||8.00|
|Oak Ridge||W 56-28||21||126||3||6.00||4||37||1||9.25||1||5||0||5.00|
|West Orange||W 49-6||11||121||4||11.00||4||24||0||6.00||2||69||1||34.50|
|Oak Ridge||W 45-0||18||129||4||7.17||2||71||1||35.50||2||86||1||43.00|
This week: Dr. Phillips hosts Seminole Ridge in Round 3 of the State Playoffs next Friday.
FL OL Tony Posada
This week: Plant hosts Countryside in Round 3 of the State Playoffs.
MI DE/LB Brennen Beyer
"From not winning a playoff game to coming within one game of winning it all is quite an accomplishment," said Beyer, after his team lost to Lake Orion, 21-13, in the state final at Ford Field Saturday. "I love all my teammates, but there is no question this was a disappointing loss. I really felt we could have played better."
There's even mention of getting ready for Ann Arbor:
He plans to speak with the Michigan coaching staff in the coming weeks to get a better understanding of how he can best prepare himself for the rigors of Big Ten football. "I know I will be hitting the weight room, but I will want to get a (training) plan together," Beyer said. "I just want to be able to contribute as best as I can next season."
This week: Plymouth's season is over, they finished 11-3 and State runners-up.
FL CB Dallas Crawford
“He did what Sammy does,” Crawford said about his favorite target. “That’s what we live for. We practice the two-minute drill every day. That’s what we wanted. They gave us a shot, and we completed our task.”
He had an impressive day statistically, as well:
Crawford finished with a season-high 339 yards passing and four touchdowns.
That came on 14/21 passing, though he also threw two picks (just his second and third of the season). Dallas also rushed 12 times for 65 yards. There are four quarters worth of video in the above-linked article, so check it out. Here's the fourth:
|Dallas Crawford 2010|
|Cypress Lake||W 39-0||9||10||90.00||118||11.80||1||0||6||24||4.00||2||0||0|
|Bishop Verot||W 35-3||18||23||78.26||299||13.00||4||0||9||12||1.33||1||0||0|
|Gulf Coast||W 49-7||12||16||75.00||277||17.31||3||1||11||34||3.09||1||0||0|
|North Fort Myers||W 34-0||7||13||53.85||88||6.77||2||0||5||38||7.60||0||2||1|
|Fort Myers||W 43-10||10||13||76.92||144||11.08||1||0||12||38||3.17||2||0||0|
This week: 11-0 South Fort Myers hosts Bradenton-Southeast at 7:30 on Friday in the Regional Championship game (Round 3 of the State Playoffs).
FL QB Kevin Sousa
Lake Nona's season has ended with a 1-9 record. Sousa finished with 125/226 passing for 1936 yards with 13 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Rushing, he had 120 attempts for 835 yards and 6 touchdowns. For a full game-by-game stat breakdown, check out last week's FNL post.
MI RB/Slot Justice Hayes
Hayes missed most of his senior season with a broken wrist. Grand Blanc finished 7-4 and lost in the second round of the State Playoffs to Lake Orion.
MI WR Shawn Conway
Seaholm's season is over, with a 4-5 record. Conway finished the year with about 22 catches for 375 yards, and11 kick/punt returns for 393 yards.
MI OL Jake Fisher
Traverse City West's season is over, with a 6-4 record and a loss in the first round of the State Playoffs. Fisher was 1st-Team All-District as a defensive end.
OH OL Jack Miller
St. John's finished the season 11-2 with both losses to Toledo Whitmer (in the second in Round 3 of the State Playoffs). Miller was also named 1st-Team All-District, and the District Lineman of the Year. Also 1st-Team All-State.
OH DE Chris Rock
DeSales's season ended at 5-6 with a loss in the first round of the State Playoffs.
TX LB Kellen Jones
St. Pius X's season finished with a 10-3 record and a loss in the second round of the TAPPS playoffs. Jones finished with 110 tackles, 25 for loss, and 7 sacks, to go along with 3 fumbles forced, 2 recovered, and a punt block.
OH CB/S Greg Brown
"Greg Brown had an outstanding year," Kidwell said. "He could have easily been the offensive player of the year, too. We attacked people all over the field with him."
Brown had 20 catches as a receiver for 460 yards and four scores. His yardage was 10th all-time on the Ross single-season receiving list. He added 450 yards on the ground rushing on 58 attempts, adding seven more scores.
Yay Greg Brown.
MI CB Delonte Hollowell
Cass Tech finished the season 12-1 with a loss in the State Semifinals.
Remember, all-time updates can be found on the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board. If you have any recruiting tips or questions, you can e-mail them to me at email@example.com or tweet @varsityblue. For game updates on Wolverine commits, check out the Friday Night Lights series.
Assume The Position(s): Offense
MI RB Thomas Rawls was the subject of last week's Sam Webb recruiting column in The Detroit News. He was super-productive in his senior year:
Despite sitting out two games with a high ankle sprain Rawls rushed for 1,585 yards and 19 touchdowns. His year was highlighted by a 344-yard rushing effort against Saginaw Heritage in Week 4 and a 396-yard rushing effort against Bay City Central in Week 5.
Scout's Allen Trieu breaks down his game:
"He is one of the toughest runners I've seen. He's very compact -- a bowling ball kind of kid who can break tackles and has a good burst. While most people see him as just an inside battering ram, I think he proved to me over the summer and the course of this year that he has legit breakaway speed. He's also very underrated as a receiver out of the backfield."
As long as he can nail a qualifying score on his standardized tests, it's likely he'll land a Michigan offer - and soon ($, info in header). It sounds like the Wolverines are a heavy favorite to land him should that happen:
Even if new suitors do come calling, they clearly will have a steep hill to climb. "I'm going to wink my eye a couple of times about this, but let's just say I'm thinking about staying close to home (to play college football)," he said.
With Justice Hayes coming in as a slot receiver, the Wolverines still have a bit of room in the class for another true running back - the "big back" complement to slashing Dee Hart - and Rawls could be that guy.
Elsewhere in running backs, FL RB DeVondrick Nealy still favors Michigan ($, info in header). His skill set is more on the Hart/Hayes end of the spectrum, so I'd be surprised if Michigan's coaches accepted a commitment from him.
Also on offense, Michigan is looking for a tight end. NJ TE Jack Tabb has narrowed his list to 6 ($, info in header), and will take just a couple more visits before coming to a decision, hopefully by Christmas. If he doesn't commit to the Wolverines, recent offeree OH TE Darien Bryant might get increased heat.
The Wolverines are also seeking another offensive lineman, with IL OL Chris Bryant the most likely option. Bryant is on the verge of an offer from Ohio State ($, info in header), and will announce a commitment in early January. Can the Buckeyes catch up to his current favorites?
Rivals has started rolling out their Position Superlative rankings (they've done the offense, and have only done D-line thus far on the other side of the ball). Michigan commits and targets feature:
- FL RB Commit Demetrius Hart is the #3 Home Run Threat and #2 Best in Space among running backs.
- FL WR Sammy Watkins (who has committed to Clemson, but might consider Michigan if his teammate Dallas Crawford has any say in the matter) is the #1 Deep Threat and #2 Best After Catch (MI WR DeAnthony Arnett is #4 in that category) among wideouts.
- Since OH OL Commit Jack Miller is rated as a DE, he's not eligible for Best Run Blocker among offensive linemen, but from what I've seen him do against some of the best competition in Ohio, he might belong there.
- FL DT Tim Jernigan is the #3 Athlete, #3 Best Pass Rusher, #3 Best Run-Stuffer, #3 Quickest, and #5 Strongest among defensive tackles. LA DT Mickey Johnson, a fringe Michigan target, is #2 Strongest.
- MI DE/OL Anthony Zettel is the #4 Strongest D-End (GA DE Ray Drew is #5), and #2(!) Pass-Rusher. Zettel has also been named the Golden Helmet Winner as the Class B Area Player of the Year.
I'll recap once more if Michigan targets and/or commits are ranked in the defensive back 7.
Elsewhere in evaluations, Poole1Dan passed along a first-hand report on MI RB Commit Justice Hayes:
Hayes is not a Big Ten caliber running back, at least not from what I saw in the Milford game. But as a slot receiver, he's pretty good. He displayed excellent body control on the 21 yard TD catch and could be dangerous in a Steve Breaston way on bubble screens. He could motion into the backfield and be a poor mans Percy Harvin (something Michigan has yet to deploy with any of their slots in the RichRod era). With his agility and vision, he might be Michigan's answer at punt returner, which has been a disaster ever since Breaston graduated.
As always, take one-game scouting reports with a grain of salt, but as this seems to corroborate a lot of what we've heard about Justice so far, it's worth paying attention to.
Josh Helmholdt talks about the visit weekends coming up over the next two weeks, including a group of five this weekend:
Michigan will kick off its December official visit period with five official visitors this weekend. Commitments like Cass Tech cornerback Delonte Hollowell, Plymouth defensive end Brennen Beyer and Fremont (Ohio) Ross cornerback Greg Brown will be joined by uncommitted prospects Wayne Lyons of Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard and Blake Countess of Owings Mills (Md.) Good Counsel.
Tom's weekly update touches on Lyons's visit. Helmholdt also mentions a host of prospects for the Big Chill:
Recruits who have already scheduled their official visits to coincide with the Big Chill include Chicago Simeon offensive lineman Chris Bryant; Cleveland Glenville teammates Cardale Jones and Shane Wynn; Holland West Ottawa linebacker Desmond Morgan; Winter Springs, Fla.; linebacker Ryan Petro, and West Branch Ogemaw Heights defensive end Anthony Zettel.
Tom will keep us updated on the latest as the weeks go on (including a January visit from top KY LB Lamar Dawson), so stay tuned.
Josh Helmholdt says that OH CB Greg Brown and FL RB Dee Hart are the only currently-committed recruits planning to enroll early. Brown tells him:
"I'm just focusing on finishing my high school education next month and in those following couple weeks, I will be enrolling at Michigan to play ball for the Wolverines," Brown said. "I just can't wait to get in the Big House in front of those 110,000 fans and play some football."
As mentioned in yesterday's Friday Night Lights post, Hart will be formally invited to the US Army All-American Bowl tomorrow, so I'll have full coverage of the announcement next week.
There are several other prospects considering Michigan who are looking into early enrollment, including NC WR/LB Kris Frost and GA S Avery Walls, both participants in the Army All-American Game, who plan to announce their commitments at that time.
Tom's Weekly Update has a few pictures of TX LB Commit Kellen Jones alongside some former Michigan greats.
We've been wondering is NC QB Marquise Williams would decommit from North Carolina, but if he does, it seems like Virginia Tech, not Michigan, will be his destination. He remains an unhappy-face on the recruiting board, but I won't remove him quite yet.
GA DE Ray Drew has narrowed to a final 6, not including Michigan.
OH LB Percy Johnson, an ex-pat from Michigan, has committed to Cincinnati.
MD WR/S Deontay McManus has received a Michigan offer.