this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
News (and other important items) bullets:
- Hopkins will be major contributor, can compete for starting position at RB
- Borges wants to use less shotgun -- Saturday wasn't representative
- Mattison does not plan to put any one cornerback on Michael Floyd all game
- Woolfolk is healthy and practicing at full speed
- Woolfolk will remain on special teams
- Barnum will be back this week
- <3 Kovacs
Coach, you look great. “Well, thank you.”
How would you assess Denard’s performance? “He managed the offense very well first time out. He had very few errors. A couple of deals, but nothing catastrophic, which is really all you ask for the first time out. He didn’t create the big plays that he’s used to, but our tailbacks did. So as long as somebody does, we’ll be fine. Eventually that part of his game will surface.”
Did you get use enough plays on offense you wanted to? “Oh, it wasn’t even close. We ran 39 plays. I mean, we didn’t even scratch the surface. There was so much left in the bag, just the way the game went, which is kind of good. Didn’t even begin to approach our menu.”
The one play where Denard scrambled and almost threw a pick, did you use that as a teaching moment? “Of all the plays he had, that was the only play that was a little higher risk. After the fact, he realized he should have probably checked the ball down to the tight end in the flat, but he got a little greedy on that one. But for the most part his decision-making was fairly accurate, other than a play or two.”
Is it hard to get a gauge of your offense with only 39 plays? “Yeah, a little bit. But you have 39 to judge, [so] judge and go from there. It was incomplete in so many ways. But it was a win, and we’ll take it, and we’ll go from there. We got another week to practice.”
This horse isn’t dead yet. Let’s beat it some more. Fitz vs. Shaw? “Both of them showed up. We ended up playing them both, probably Fitz a little more than Shaw, but Shaw did some nice things.”
Can you comment on Notre Dame’s defense? “They’re legitimate. Their third-down percentage -- [USF] got two or three third down conversions on them. If you look at their numbers, South Florida didn’t move the ball very well on them. And just because of the circumstances of the game, they lost, but the defense, I thought, was outstanding. Te’o the linebacker was as active and as physical a player I’ve seen in a while, and that’s quite a statement. He is a good football player. They get pass rush with only four guys. They don’t have to blitz, which is disconcerting. They’re good on the back end -- Harrison’s around the ball all the time. Ball hawk, physical, well-coached. They use their hands real well up front on the line. They’re good.”
What do you see in Harrison Smith? “I think he puts himself in position real well. He doesn’t get out of position a lot. He’s got a feel for where the ball’s going. It looks like he plays smart. He’s physical. He’s just one of those guys I’m sure they count on.”
Passes were distributed pretty evenly between receivers against Western. Is that going to be how you do it for the rest of the season? “Not necessarily, no. I think there’s going to be games where you’ll see one guy catch a bunch of balls, and the other guy won’t catch as many, and vice versa. Once you get into the battle, you don’t know how it’s going to go, so you’re never sure exactly who’s going to get it. Now you design certain plays to go to certain guys, but because of the nature of the defense you’re not going to get it to those guys. You always want a degree of distribution, but I’m not obsessed with [the idea that] everybody needs to catch x amount of balls. I could care less about that. What I care about is taking what the defense gives you, and if that means one guy catches ten passes, then so be it.”
How did Denard do under center going through his reads? “I thought he did a pretty darn good job. For his first time, his under center play was really good. His shotgun play was -- that’s kind of his power zone, and that’s why we’re going to use that and do that stuff. His under center play was solid. His mechanics in terms of exchange, tracks and things -- had a couple of errors on some tracks, but for the most part was pretty reliable.”
Only two of Denard’s runs were scrambles. Were you pleased with patience in pocket? “He did a nice job on one scramble particularly. I think he got a first down. He came off one of his receivers a little quick -- but for the most part, what you have to understand is you want him to give the pass a chance, but you don’t want to be so obsessed with him always wanting to check the ball down, because he is the best checkdown you could have. So what could be perceived as impatience is sometimes a little more designed than you might think.”
Talk about that NFL pass to Grady? “That was the second option. That was a good play. They jumped the slide play, and he threw the ball. That was a nice play by him. He reset his feet, got his hips set, and he hit [Grady] right in stride. That was totally designed. And no scramble there.”
How would you assess O-line play re: Schofield vs. Barnum? “Mike had a good game. Mike did a good job. He was very solid in there. And now this week, we’ll see how the thing goes [between Schofield and Barnum]. It’s nice to know [Schofield] can, if that makes any sense.”
Is Barnum back in the lineup for Notre Dame? “Oh yeah. Absolutely.”
Talk about going for it on fourth and one. Whose call is it? “It’s my playcall, but it’s [Hoke’s] decision.”
Do you coach Denard on his scrambling or do you allow him to improvise? “When the protection breaks down or the pocket gets pushed or for some reason he can’t see, he has to go to an improv mode. All our improv has structure, but Denard does a lot in there that I don’t draw on the board. The one thing you don’t want to do is inhibit a playmaker. A guy that can do some things, you don’t want to make him so that he’s so robotic he’s not doing what he’s capable of doing. Yeah, there’s structure within our improvisation, but his ability to create -- I always talk about create without doing something stupid. He’s living by the law pretty good, knock on wood.”
Would you have gone completely vanilla if there had been a fourth quarter? “Had we scored on the last drive, we probably would have gotten a little more physical. It’s hard to say, but when we get ahead, we like to run the football if we can without being too conservative.”
Is the ratio of shotgun vs. under center what you’ll stick to the rest of the season? “No, no … no. The game had no balance to it with regard to that. If we had played a fourth quarter, we would have been right about where we wanted it.”
Would Devin Gardner have gotten some snaps? “I don’t know. We’ll see. I couldn’t tell you. That’s up to Brady.”
Is Hopkins going to have a role this week? “Oh, absolutely. You bet. He was in the fold big time. Before he couldn’t play, but now that he’s back, he’s going to be a factor. He’s a good player. He brings something to the table. He’s a big back that you like to have.”
Is he competing for the starting job? “They’re all competing still. I’m not counting him out of the mix.”
(more after the jump)
A photo of the elusive Greg Mattison in his natural habitat.
Can you share what it’s like to have coached on both sides of rivalry? “It’s a great rivalry. I mean, you’re talking about two of the greatest schools in college football in athletics. I don’t think there are any better when you look at the whole package of it. I know it’s a huge rivalry for everybody involved in it. It’s Michigan. It’s Notre Dame. That’s what it is.”
Was it weird when you went from Michigan to Notre Dame? “Yeah, it was hard. I can tell you that was hard because it was Michigan … you know, I can’t honestly say if I even really knew what a big rivalry that was. I never grew up being a Notre Dame fan. I’m a Lutheran, not a Catholic. When you do that decision based on family, once you’ve made that decision, you kind of go, ‘Whoa.’ But I had a great eight years there. Got to see my family through school and my daughter in collge there, so that made it a really, really good deal.”
Assess defensive performance early in the game and how you adjusted later? “The thing that happened is what you kind of worry about happening when you have so many guys that haven’t played a lot of football. You probably got the toughest scenario you could get because it was a very fast paced -- they were switching personnel groups in and out without us really being able to see what they were, and you got defenses that you’re playing for certain personnel groups that you hadn’t against a different group. This young group needs to see everything.
“Then it goes down to when a team hurries like that and speeds up the pace, communication is everything, and that’s something we’ve been harping on. With a young group of guys and young linebackers that haven’t played a lot, the communication is the first thing -- when it all happens -- it goes. [During] that [first] drive, there was a number things that we weren’t aligned correctly on. And we’re not good enough to do that. We’re not good enough to not be perfect at what we’re doing. Once they came off the side and we settled them down, and we just said, ‘Hey listen. There’s a whole ball game ahead of us. If we get these things corrected we’ll be fine.’ And then we get the interception, and [we] let them pick back up again.”
Hoke wasn’t happy with D-line play. “Neither was I.” What stuck out to you? “I wouldn’t just single out the defensive line. When we looked at that tape, I knew what I would see. That is not how we want to play defense. Our whole thing is stopping the run. Some of those runs were me -- I’m calling pressures to try to get after the quarterback and he runs a draw, and we didn’t fit our gaps right. That kind of thing happens. Others they weren’t. We have to be able to stop the run. Anytime a team runs the football on your defense, you can’t have a great day. I think a lot of our fits, our backers fitting, our defensive line knocking them back, playing real physical every snap, all those things have to improve.
“The one positive thing in the entire game, though, was we kept the ball inside and in front for the most part. We can’t allow a big play [to become] a homerun play, and that quarterback is a big time quarterback, and that wide receiver is a great wide receiver. So our guys did keep the ball inside and in front, so we could get more guys on the tackles.”
Rees vs. Crist? “Well, I think that they’re both very good quarterbacks. The one thing that you have to understand with Rees is he was the starting quarterback the last four games [of 2010] and they won all four. And then he goes in this game in a half and throws for 300-some yards or whatever. So obviously he’s a guy that when he goes in ball games, he does a great job. I think both of them are very talented. You wouldn’t be at a school like Notre dame or Michigan if you didn’t have talent. I think they both have good arms, and they both appear to be very intelligent, and they both have a great wide receiver."
How do you get D-line up to where you want it to be? Will you keep blitzing as much? “It depends if a team is going to throw as much as [Western Michigan] threw. It all depends on what the team does. We won’t sit back and play zone coverage until we have the ability to get a rush with a four-man front. And that comes from technique -- that comes from a lot of things. It’s not fair to that secondary and it’s not fair to that underneath coverage to let a quarterback like that hold it. I’m not going to say I’m a guy that’s going to blitz every down, but when it dictates it, then I think you have to.”
Do you need to get more production out of Craig Roh? “Definitely. He has to play better. One of the things we addressed is that we had too many players in that defense that did not get production. We have a big chart up in our hallway [where] you get points for tackles, for assists, for caused fumbles, all those kind of things, and then you also get minus points for missed assignments, missed tackles, that kind of thing. [Ed-M: Mattison keeps a UFR!!!] On our defense we had too many guys that didn’t have a lot of points. You had one guy that had 47 points: Jordan Kovacs. So we gotta get more guys get production. And Craig’s one of those guys. We’ve gotta get more out of him. I think he knows that, and he understands. He saw the film himself. He understands he’s a better football player than that.”
What makes Kovacs so special? “He’s a football player. He’s a Michigan football player. If you had a team of eight of those. I’m not going to say 11. Eight of those. You might sit on a lawn chair and watch the game. That hit that he came on one of the pressures -- you all saw the picture. It was what you tell and what you coach. Put your face right through his chest. Wrap him up. Eyes up. And he put his helmet right through the football. The thing that people didn’t see on that was he was in the endzone almost the same time as Herron after he had caused a fumble and made the hit. That’s what Michigan defense is about. The same thing happened that was a positive -- Jake Ryan on his tipped [pass]. He hit the gournd after he tipped it, [and] he was the first guy down there next to Herron. And that’s what we’ve been talking about. That’s a great sign. Now we gotta keep doing that all the way through a ball game.”
Did Herron just happen to be in right place at right time or was he actively doing things right? “He was where he was supposed to be. He executed the defense and good things happen. Thank goodness he’s fast. He never looks like he’s running that fast, but not many people catch him.”
Kovacs said he expected to have fewer tackles in this new scheme. But he led the team in tackles on Saturday. At what point is that going to change? “I hope soon. You hit it right on the head. When your safety is making a lot of tackles, that’s not a good thing. It’s a good thing we have Jordan Kovacs, but that’s not a good thing [for him to be making all the tackles]. That happened a number of times -- if a linebacker were where he was supposed to be, he would have made that tackle. The great news though is Jordan was where he was supposed to be, and I think at times when I’ve watched, he’s been up in there too far, because he’s been trying to make [the tackle], and all of a sudden if he misses the tackle, [the other player] is gone.”
Does having a guy like Kovacs allow you to do more with the defense? “Well it allows you to call it without wincing. No no … I have confidence in the entire defense. I wasn’t pleased with our performance. I was pleased with the win. I was pleased with the turnover margin, but as a defense I can’t say I was pleased because I really, really believe in my heart we can be much, much better than this. And we have to be. We have to play better defense than what we did. “
How do you defend Michael Floyd? “You better make sure, number one, that you’re playing with great technique on him. If you don’t -- in the back end -- if you don’t play with perfect technique, you’re going to get exposed. I think the second thing is you can’t allow the quarterback all day to throw to him, and I think you have to give him a number of different coverages so he doesn’t know all the time what you’re getting.”
Are you going to play one cornerback on him the entire game? “No.”
Was Woolfolk on pace for Kovacs’ level of production before he left the game? “He made some very physical hits on those bubble screens, which was great to see. I would love to see him play that game. He needed that. I would have loved to have that thing go four quarters. We needed it. We need every second of playing under pressure that we can get. But I’m glad that we got out of there like we did, and we got a victory, and now we just got to improve more.”
Was Woolfolk going full speed in practice today? “Uh huh.”
Will you lobby to keep him off special teams? “No. No I won’t. honestly, I will not … special teams play is a huge, huge part in our defense -- if you saw where we started on defense after a number of those kickoffs. There’s three equal parts to the game, and I’ve seen too many coaches that will say, ‘I gotta have that guy.’ Okay then put another guy [on special teams] that doesn’t do as well and you’ll see how fast that ball comes back. We really believe in that here.”
What do you and Hoke talk about on headset? “He doesn’t have it on, does he?” But he said he did! “Oh I don’t even know. I tell you what, to be honest, he probably can hear everything I’m saying without the headset on, so I don’t know. Brady is -- he is tremendous on the sideline. After that first drive -- because he’s a great defensive coach -- He was over there saying the same things I was saying to those guys. A lot of head coaches might not have reacted like he did. And that pays dividends, because we trust these guys. We believe that they’re going to try as hard as they can. Now we gotta get their tehcnique better, we gotta get a lot of thigns better as coaches, but they’re going to try it, and they’re going to do it. Just like today’s practice. There was a whole bunch of mistakes … but you know what? They went hard. And we’ll get those corrected. We just gotta keep on eliminating those mistakes.”
So you've probably heard by now that I won't be producing weekly schedule wallpapers this season, and some have taken that to mean that I won't be producing any wallpapers at all. However, as I was considering semi-retirement in the face of my grown-up-adult-9-to-5-then-kids-bedtime-sleep-is-important responsibilities, I set aside time to design a few rivalry game wallpapers. The Ohio State game is a given (and probably Michigan State too) and I couldn't pass up the historic night game at The Big House.
Last year I made Touchdown Jesus say "No Good", prompting concern from my young daughter over God's feelings about mocking Jesus. "No sweetie, I'm not mocking Jesus, I'm mocking Notre Dame. God enjoys this kind of thing." Several other promising and less-blasphemous ideas were left to rot in the pages of my sketchbook, including a few inspired by the saying "All that glitters is not gold." I pictured everything from a rainbow with a pot of fools good to a Notre Dame helmet peeling to reveal a rusted shell.
Like The Game, the first night game at Michigan Stadium calls for a dramatic rather than humorous image. Where Ohio State was represented by the decaying side of a planet, Notre Dame's gold is shown as a thin, blistering and cracking layer of paint.
I wrestled over whether to make the centerpiece of the image helmets or logos (you can see the back and forth in the making-of video), but I heard from several people that one of their favorite images from last season was the lump of coal block M so I tried for something similar here. I designed the block M to match the front of Michigan's legacy jerseys, while Notre Dame's legacy helmet gets a nod with the shamrock treatment similar to my vine-wrapped block M.
Some other people you should know about
The stadium photo in the background was generously provided by Scott Maez. It would have been extremely difficult to get just the right look from an illustration or a low resolution image, but Scott's photo was shot the perfect angle (and he was kind enough to share the high resolution file with me). You should check out some of Scott's other Michigan photography. He has a nice mix of games and other events going back to 2002.
I also want to point you in the direction of MGoBlog users cjm and Blue Indy who have picked up the proverbial ball where I have proverbially dropped it. Both are doing awesome work so if you need a dose of wallpaper goodness between now and my next caffeine-fueled Michigan football design binge they're your guys.
The image below is a preview only. You can get the widescreen, 4:3, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.
How it was made
I recorded the screen while I wiggled my mouse around and hoped for a miracle. Lucky for you I sped up the footage to condense a wasted weekend into just a few minutes of video. If you want to see me ruin a nice wallpaper with a happy little shamrock Watch this video.
'Friday Night Lights' is now 'Weekday Warriors', and every week I'll be updating you on the latest performances from Michigan commits as they play out their high school seasons. If you see anything missing or can find an article on a game, please feel free to contact me via Twitter or email. This week, Ondre Pipkins racks up some ridiculous numbers, Mario Ojemudia impresses once again, and Jeremy Clark continues to scare me with his good play (not because I don't want him to be good, but because I want him to stick with his grayshirt commitment).
TN OL Blake Bars
Montgomery Bell Academy dropped to 1-2 on the season after a 41-17 loss to Brentwood Academy. No stats for Bars, being an offensive lineman and all.
This week: The Big Red look to bounce back at home against Baylor on Friday.
OH LB Joe Bolden
Bolden had a fumble recovery in Colarain's 37-0 thrashing of Ryle. The Cardinals are now 2-0 on the season after beating nationally-ranked Cocoa (FL) last week on ESPN.
This week: Colerain looks to extend their 61-game home winning streak on Friday at 7:30 vs. St. Xavier.
MI OL Ben Braden
Rockford bounced back from their week one loss with a 42-7 blowout win against Holt. Braden
helped pave the way sat out due to a concussion as Rockford rushed for 273 yards on 33 carries.
OH DE Pharaoh Brown
Though defensive stats are unavailable at this time, Brown did record a 21-yard touchdown reception in Brush's 42-35 loss to Madison. The Arcs fell to 0-2 on the season with the defeat.
This week: Rockford hosts Grand Haven on Friday at 7.
MI TE Devin Funchess
According to Touch the Banner, Funchess hauled in two receptions for 29 yards in Farmington Hills Harrison's 28-14 victory over Southfield. The defending Division 2 state champs are now 2-0 on the year after last week's evisceration of Cass Tech.
This week: The Hawks will try to continue their in-state dominance in their home opener against Stoney Creek on Friday at 7.
OH S Allen Gant
Gant scored on a three-yard touchdown run to help Southview defeat Toledo Rogers 18-0, with the defense forcing two safeties. He left the game early with an apparent ankle injury, so I might have to change plans for this week's Creeper Van Original. Stay tuned...
This week: Southview (2-0) plays at Toledo Start on Friday at 7. Depending on Gant's status, I may or may not be there.
MI DT Matt Godin
Godin battled illness before Detroit Catholic Central's 14-7 victory over Delphos (OH) St. John's, but you wouldn't know that based on his play. A report from MGoUser Denarded:
Today went down to Delphos, OH to witness future Michigan Wolverine Matt Godin. Had a great day 2 sacks, around 3-4 TFLs, while also knocking out the DSJ quarterback. Maybe the best part after the game Godin rushes to the fence to two guys with Buckeye apparel on, and says "I hope you'll enjoy me doing that to Braxton Miller for 4 years" and walked away. Loved seeing the Buckeye fans faces after that. Wyatt Shallman also looked impressive at RB, scored a touchdown probably ran for 70-80 yards.
TTB adds that Godin recorded ten tackles on top of the two sacks, handful of TFLs, and one awesome bit of trash talkin'.
This week: The Shamrocks play Inkster at home on Friday at 7.
UT FB Sione Houma
Houma had another outstanding performance, rushing for 147 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries in Highland's 42-6 victory over Provo. MGoUser Spishak was on hand for the first half, and had this to report (thanks to MichFan1997 for posting it as a new thread):
The home announcer pronounces his name, Say-own-ee Hoo-ma. They have quite a few polynesian players on the team, so I would imagine his pronunciation is correct. Who knows?
Sione plays OLB and FB/RB. He almost always is the soul back and lines up in a 3-point stance about 2 yards behind the QB. Their offense is NOT fancy. They did not once line up with more than two wideouts; they ran 80% of the time; mostly QB keepers. Houma runs between the tackles and right at the defense. Very fullback-ish. Didn't get to see his speed on display, if he has any. He is definitely a thumper; solidly built. He is 6', 6'1" in cleats. The program had him listed as 6'1", 210(!). Probably 195, IMO. He played only 1/3 of the defensive plays and they nearly always lined him up right on the DE's ass. (As a strange sidenote, their program had 22 players listed as RB's. Highland played onlyHouma in the backfield, though he didn't get many touches.)
His stats (for one half): 2.5 tackles (one tfl); 40 yds rushing, TD, on only 5 carries. His longest carry was 15 yards. They simply didn't need him much tonight as they had their opponent (Provo) very outmatched.
Best "Sione Houma: Soul Back" photoshop wins the undying admiration of your internet peers, which has to count for something.
This week: The Rams look to move to 4-0 on the season when they host Lone Peak on Friday at 7.
MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone
Cass Tech took out their frustrations from last week's FHH loss on Detroit Central, coming away with a 62-6 victory as RJS contributed three touchdowns, including a blocked punt return. More on this game later in the post.
This week: The Technicians play at 4 on Friday afternoon at Detroit Southeastern.
OH OL Kyle Kalis
Kalis sat out St. Edward's 47-6 victory over Penn Hills, missing his second straight game to start the year due to a (not serious) knee injury suffered in a preseason scrimmage.
This week: The Eagles host Cardinal Mooney on Saturday at 7:30.
CA OL Erik Magnuson
Magnuson's La Costa Canyon squad won their season debut 48-0 over Huntington Beach Marina in a battle of schools whose names make me want to move to California. The Mavericks had two different running backs break 80 yards rushing as they dominated up front, I'm sure in large part due to Magnuson's rather large presence.
This week: LCC plays Poway at home on Friday at 7.
MI DE Mario Ojemudia
Did you know Farmington Hills Harrison is ranked as the number six team in the country by SI.com? Well, they are, and in this week's rundown Ojemudia came in for some high praise from Ben Glicksman:
Despite a loaded receiving corps (see: Aaron Burbridge, Devin Funchess, Gairus Coleman) defensive end Mario Ojemudia might be the Hawks' best player. The Michigan commit collected another two sacks against the Bluejays, building off a terrific 127-tackle, 12-sack junior year campaign.
You can see one of those two sacks in the following video from Fox 2:
Fox's local sports guy might want to work on that pronunciation.
This week: The Hawks play their home opener against Stoney Creek on Friday at 7.
MO DT Ondre Pipkins
Pipkins led off The Wolverine's commitment updates ($) due to recording five tackles, three pass deflections, and three forced fumbles in Park Hill's 23-0 shutout of Ruskin. Park Hill is now 2-0 on the season.
This week: The Trojans travel (not far, I imagine) to Park Hill South on Friday at 7.
MI CB Terry Richardson
Richardson added to Cass Tech's onslaught with a touchdown reception, which you can see in these local highlights (he's #9 in white).
This week: The Technicians play at 4 on Friday afternoon at Detroit Southeastern.
OH LB Kaleb Ringer
Northmont dropped to 0-2 on the season with a 32-21 loss to Princeton as Ringer sat out his second straight game with a broken wrist. Based on his Twitter feed, it sounds like Ringer is hopeful for a return this week against Archbishop Moeller.
This week: Northmont travels to Archbishop Moeller for a Saturday night game at 7.
MI LB James Ross
Orchard Lake St. Mary's fell to Toledo St. John's Jesuit, 34-14, in their home opener. No stats are available for Ross at this time.
This week: St. Mary's hosts Highland Park on Friday at 7.
OH OL Caleb Stacey
Oak Hills improved to 1-1 with a 21-17 road win at Harrison.
This week: The Highlanders open their home slate on Friday at 7:30 against Loveland.
IL CB Anthony Standifer
According to his Twitter account (highlight the text to see the white type), Standifer recorded his first interception of the season–and 10th of his career–in Crete-Monee's 35-0 victory over Lincoln-Way West. The Warriors improved to 2-0 as 2013 WR Laquon Treadwell had a huge game, pulling in five catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns, including an 80-yarder.
This week: Crete-Monee travels to Moline on Friday at 7:30.
OH DE Tom Strobel
According to TTB, Strobel had one solo tackle and five assists in Mentor's 38-27 victory over defending Division V state champ Youngstown Ursuline.
This week: The Cardinals host St. Ignatius on Friday at 7:30.
OH TE A.J. Williams
Williams didn't record a catch as Sycamore pulled out a 28-21 win over Springboro to improve to 2-0 on the season.
This week: The Aviators look to stay undefeated at Springfield on Friday night at 7:30.
OH S Jarrod Wilson
No stats to report for Wilson as Akron Buchtel fell to Steubenville, 22-6, dropping to 0-2 in 2011.
This week: The Griffins look to record their first win on the road against Solon on Friday at 7.
OH DE Chris Wormley:
Wormley had three tackles (I've seen it reported as high as eight, which means someone was doing some very generous stat-taking), two QB hurries, two TFLs, and a sack to help Toledo Whitmer beat A.B. Lucas Secondary School, 41-0, in this week's Creeper Van Original:
This week: The Panthers host another Canadian squad as they look to improve to 3-0 against Brantford (Ontario) Collegiate on Friday at 7.
KY S Jeremy Clark
Clark had another great game as North Hopkins defeated Hardin, 34-21, as the Michigan commit recorded six tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown.
This week: The Maroons (2-1) travel to Hopkinsville on Friday at 7.
MI QB Shane Morris
Although, for some reason, HighSchoolSports.net thinks Warren De La Salle's quarterback is named Zach Bihary, it was Shane Morris who completed 10-of-16 passes for 159 yards and three touchdowns with one interception in their 34-6 win over Flint Carmen-Ainsworth.
This week: De La Salle plays at Fordson on Friday at 7.
Item of the week. A new weekly thing: in conjunction with the Pat Maloy Scholarship fund we'll be plugging Michigan memorabilia on a weekly basis. All proceeds go to scholarship endowments at Michigan. Item!
The above features signatures from blog favorites Brandon Graham, Zoltan Mesko(!), and Ron Bellamy:
This item is a perfect addition to a Michigan collection in that it spans several decades of Michigan football greatness. A white Michigan football adorned with a large blue block M and two winged helmets on either side. The football is autographed by 18 former Michigan stars including Jim Brandstatter, Brandon Graham, Billy Taylor, Jarrett Irons, Buster Stanley, Vada Murray, Harlan Huckleby, Jarrod Bunch, Ron Johnson, Andre Weathers, Greg Mathews, Ron Bellamy, David Moosman, Stevie Brown, Zoltan Mesko, Derek Walker, Greg McMurtry.
Hatch update. From his Caring Bridge page:
Monday, September 5, 2011 5:25 PM, EDT
Another great week by a determined and hard working student athlete. Austin has a beautiful attitude and is enjoying day visits with close friends and family. We are following the medical staff advice to control the visitor schedule to no more than three at a time to allow him to focus on his recovery. While the length of the rehab program is still unclear, he looks forward to returning to home and normal activities.
Mitch McGary enjoys torrential downpours. Mitch McGary visited for the Western Michigan game and reportedly had quite a time. Here's MGoUser Max hanging with McGary in the rain:
Post something like this and you'll be hounded until you give people the full story, so Max did:
I asked him about his official visits; he told me he is allowed to take 10 (instead of the usual 5) since he took a year off after high school. "You're gonna hate me for this, but I'm going to Duke next weekend." I asked, "Are you visiting anywhere more than once?" He replied, "No, but I'll be back at Michigan for camp in [whatever month it was]."
He was going batshit crazy on all the big Michigan plays, waiving his towel and giving out high-fives. He, like the rest of the student section, clealy enjoyed the rain, too. He sang and fist-pumped along with The Victors. He even tried to start a cheer, but his "LET'S GO BLU-UE" wasn't very catchy.
Finally, right before he and the others left, I asked him to take a picture with me. He seemed really excited, throwing his arm around me and joking around. I got a little too excited and started slapping him on the shoulder. He cringed a little, and I remembered that his shoulder had gotten cut up pretty badly when he broke that backboard. I apologized, but he just thought it was funny. After the picture, we all started jumping around a little bit, yelling "Go Blue!" and whatever else. He said several things to the effect of "I'll see you guys next year!" and then left.
So that's spectacular except for the part where Michigan fans whap him in his fresh wounds. UMHoops points out that McGary's AAU coach, Wayne Brumm, has been talking up Michigan to any outlet that will listen—I'm guessing that's he's the source for the national recruiting guys who keep saying "McGary isn't close to a decision but I'd keep an eye out for Michigan." Sam Webb hit Brumm up for a take on his visit and the resulting Webblog says Michigan is "STRONG" with McGary in the headline. This seems like time to get those hopes off the floor.
If you're like me you'll need to see McGary in a Crisler shootaround before you'll believe Michigan can snag a top five recruit in this modern sleaze-paced basketball recruiting society, but it seems like they've got a shot. McGary's off to a who's who of basketball powers over the next few weeks, whereupon his love for the block M and sea turtles falling from the sky will be tested. The good news: The rumor is Michigan's main competitors are Maryland and Florida and McGary mentioned to people around him that he planned on returning to Ann Arbor for "camp"—November camp? Next year's Elite camp?
Snagging McGary would take Beilein's recruiting trajectory from "we'll be pretty good in 2013" to "Big Ten contender NOW." Fingers crossed.
BAD HEADLINE MONKEY. You're new here at the Detroit Free Press (motto: Metro Detroit's second best paper named "The Detroit Free Press"), kid. So we'll cut you some slack. But this is not cool:
Kid, "rigorous" means you are more than doubling NCAA practice time maximums. When you're a headline monkey at Metro Detroit's second best paper named The Detroit Free Press, you have to know these things. I'm glad we had this talk. Now if you could lay out the arts section, clean the bathroom, copy edit* A1, and check the roof for suicidal reporters you can go home.
I've always wanted an opportunity to get sued by Righthaven. Thanks to the rain, I've got one. It turns out that Vegas refunding the world's tickets on the Michigan-WMU game is quite a letoff for sportsbooks:
"It was kind of wacky. There have been some crazy weather games, but I've never seen that," MGM Resorts sports book director Jay Rood said. "I would rather have seen the game get in and played than end the way it did, when maybe some people feel like they were cheated.
"We were going to lose on the game. That was by far the biggest public-backed game on the board. The ticket count was ridiculous, like 20-1 for Michigan."
Wow. Either the sharps or the books were heavily on Western.
WAYS YOU CAN TELL THE NEWSPAPER YOU ARE READING IS BASED IN LAS VEGAS PROTIP: The reporter says "I was on the Wolverines, for the record" and wishes a natural disaster had befallen the Georgia Dome so he wouldn't have gotten taken on the Boise State-Georgia game.
Time to update the Michigan reporter whirlwind. MVictors's handy movement graph is now out of date since Zach Travis has been picked up by Bleacher Report of all things and is getting paid to write on the Big Ten. Spreading that venture capital love around, they are. If you'd ceased paying attention to Zach's old blog Dreaded Judgment, he's firing it back up.
Are we still talking about this? Well done, Jon Wilner. You managed to get me all the way through your article on yet more realignment without making it clear that your source is a guy in a Pac-12 athletic department who likes messing with journalists:
The Big Ten won’t expand until it’s time to renegotiate the league’s deals with CBS and ESPN, which expire in 2016, according to a source.
At that point, if the Pac-12 and the SEC have grown to 16 teams, then Notre Dame will join the Big Ten.
Guh. I have been expansion-trolled. If you still want to take this seriously, Wilner says the Pac 12 presidents are opposed to expanding but will do it if the SEC jumps off the bridge first, at which point they'll have no choice. I hope the Big Ten is wise enough not to follow them.
Etc.: If you like the arrangement of the Victors for the Michigan Difference commercials, you can download it for your phone or (emo) tailgate or whatever. Holdin' the Rope starts a Michigan Monday analogue focused on the Golden Bobcats. Bruce Feldman is outside the paywall. Tommy Rees will start for ND this weekend.
Just snuck this under the wire. Have to remember I'm actually voting now. My guideline early in the season is that I do use preseason expectations to guide my balloting until about week five, when the poll should be all results.
GEORGIA, I KILL YOU. This may be an overreaction to being so wrong about the Bulldogs but I booted them entirely. Their defeat was comprehensive. I was less violent towards Oregon since their problems were considerably more turnover-based and, honestly, because I wasn't way out there by thinking Oregon would be good this year.
LSU gets the obvious bump, as does Boise.
I AM VERY IMPRESSED BY VICTORIES OVER MEMPHIS. I don't look at my previous ballots when putting these together because it's not like they're precise enough to matter. Sometimes this has weird effects like a win over hapless Memphis warranting a nine-slot jump while beating Marshall comprehensively in a lightning storm gets you dinged two spots.
So I have no idea why I flipped Alabama and Oklahoma. Data is thin.
I DOUBT THE OBC. I did mean to knock South Carolina down several pegs after they struggled against ECU—I think it was @TeamSpeedKills who was so incensed that he called for Spurrier's suspension in retaliation for suspending Stephen Garcia. After the dust cleared from a nutty game featuring nine turnovers, Not That USC had outgained ECU by six yards.
It is likely too late for corrections; I'll do better next week.
[Ed: bump in case anyone doesn't know to read these yet.]
So, we're almost 3 quarters into the Brady Hoke era, and what have we learned? Not a hell of a whole of a lot. Western was a cupcake, and we provided the vanilla frosting, the vanilla defense, and the vanilla offense. There's plenty to criticize and the few good things all come with cupcake's caveats. Next week will be the real barometer of our progress .
Somewhere in the back of my self-important mind, I worry that breaking down our offensive and defensive systems might give a very tiny advantage to our opponents. So this year I'm going to do less system stuff and focus on individual plays and players when it comes to our team. I'll save system analysis for scouting reports of other teams.
But first, I just have to say:
You sir, have an awesome mustache.
Let's start with the bad:
Their first drive was cause for concern. Just getting aligned was a problem on many plays.
I'm pretty sure this isn't how you're supposed to defend a 3rd and 1.
And on this next play, the confusion is so thick, you can cut it with a knife. You could roll it into a batter and make... hmmmm... I'm hungry...
Despite being in a shotgun look, this is clearly a run formation. What's the giveaway?
How about the covered slot "receiver" making this an unbalanced line. We've got 3 guys defending air, and the DB's are so far back, they're practically giftwrapping a 10 yard run.
The QB meshes with the fullback to give an option look, and he wisely hands it off since our linebacker is way out of position.
The ball carrier cuts back to the GAPING HOLE. Meanwhile, our contain guy is so concerned with both the QB and pitchman, neither of whom have the ball, that he can't make a play on the FB.
But I'm encouraged by the fact that we got it figured out before the drive was even over.
Here we are against the same exact formation and play a few downs later. That's a quick adjustment, or maybe it's just that nobody f'd up this time. Notice that the DB's are in a position to support against the run and we clog up the middle to stop the FB for practically no gain.
Carvin Johnson was misaligned on the next play, but Avery did a good job to make a solid tackle and delay the TD. But as a whole, the defense looked like most of them have had 3 or 4 different coordinators in the last 4 years.
I'm also concerned about the size of our front seven, and when we go against the likes of MSU, Neb, OSU, and god willing - Wiscy, well.... let's just hope things get better.
[Ed.: more after the jump.]
Ryan Van Bergen
This is not the greatest press conference in the world; this is just a tribute.
Does Hoke talk a lot about ‘feeling players’? “A little bit, yeah.” What did he say about feeling a player’s impact? “Um, as far as whose impact?” Anyone’s impact. “Oh he just talks about everybody doing their jobs. Everybody making sure that they do their job and make sure they’re aggressive about it, and when he says impact, I think he’s just talking more about toughness and mentality that you bring to the game.”
You scored a defensive TD against Wisconsin a couple years ago. What’s it like watching Herron score? “It’s just really exciting, especially for Brandon, to have that opportunity. When you score on defense, it’s something that’s unexpected. It’s just such a big bonus for a team, when your defense is giving you twelve points, you’re going to win a lot of football games. We’re pretty excited about it, and we’re going to build off of it.”
Mattison said, ‘We’re not going to sit back.’ How much do you enjoy playing aggressive defense? “It’s fun. We’ve been excited about it for a long time. Coach Mattison is an aggressive-style coach. Once we figured what [Western] was doing offensively, we tried to attack them. One thing we have to do better though is we have to improve our four-man rushes. Coach Mattison can’t call a blitz to get after quarterbacks -- we have to go put pressure on them ourselves and help out our DBs. It was fun, but at the same time we have a lot to do.”
What do you have to do specifically to get better rush? “Up front we need to get off our blocks quicker, and execute our moves. That’ll come. That was the first game.”
What’s Hoke like on the sidelines? “Passionate. He’s got a lot of energy. You can really feed off of him. He’s got enough energy for everybody on the team. He knows when to be tough, and when to come over and tell you in a calm manner what to do. He’s got a really good feel for everybody and all the players and their attitude."
Was it hard to get consistency on the D-line with all the substitutions? “No, no, not at all. [Western] came out with a no-huddle. Hats off to them -- we didn’t know they were going to do that. So the coaches did a really good job of rotating. I think we probably played 7-8 guys on the defensive line. We needed that. It was 120-130 degrees on the field I heard. If we weren’t rotating, it could have gotten ugly really fast. We need that rotation, and coach wants to get more guys in. He wants us to be able to go full tilt when we’re in the game, and I think we were more productive because of it.”
Is there a night game you’ve played in that stands out? “Night games -- they’re fun as far as atmosphere and stuff, but the thing that people don’t realize is how much it sucks when you’re waiting around in a hotel. We wait around in a hotel before the game, so you’re sitting in your hotel room. Coach is trying to keep you occupied, but you’re waiting to play a football game, watching other football games in your hotel room. That’s a big wait when you’re getting up at nine o’clock and you’re not leaving to go play until five. But it is a good experience.
“One that comes to mind is when we went to play Iowa in their stadium. That was pretty cool. It just seems like the fans are just that much more into it when the lights are on. I don’t know why, but it does seem like it’s more electric.”
You didn’t give up many big plays. What went well? “We had some good things happen as far as we’ve been trying to limit big plays, because that’s been an Achilles heel of our defense for the last couple years, but we definitely need to improve. There are things that they did, and we knew they were going to come after us with certain schemes, and we didn’t stop them. There has to be some adjustments made. We had some good things, but we had a lot of room to improve, and luckily we got in to watch the film yesterday, so we can start working on that.”
How did you find out you were an honorary game captain? “Coach Hoke told me, I wanna say Friday? I think? He told me Friday. It was a big deal. It’s a very big accomplishment for me to go out there with those guys. A lot of players have told me they look up to me as a captain and a leader. I was excited. It was a really, really cool experience."
Does Hoke give out any individual honors, e.g. helmet stickers a la Bo? “Not really. Coach Hoke is a big advocate for ‘the team, the team, the team.’ The individual awards don’t mean anything if your team’s not winning. The emphasis on the team has really helped our guys come together and helped our chemistry. Presenting individual awards isn’t going to be in Coach Hoke’s -- that’s not in his personality. Unless I’m wrong and maybe something else comes, but right now I don’t think there’s anything lined up like that.”
Where do you rank the Notre Dame rivalry compared with MSU or Ohio? “It’s a big deal. We’ve been playing each other a long time. The history goes back. I think Michigan was actually the ones who taught Notre Dame how to play football, if you look at the history. They were supposed to go to Evanston and play Northwestern, but we went down to South Bend and taught Notre Dame how to play football. I think that’s how it went down. It’s a big deal. This goes back so far, and there’s so much history. That and we’re so competitive in terms of most wins in college football. I know they take it very seriously, and we take it very seriously. It’s exciting to be able to play in it."
Did you watch the end of the ND-USF game? What did you think of their offense? “Luckily for ND, they have two very talented quarterbacks. They had their hiccups, but it was their first game. They’re going to get into their zone, and they’re going to start playing well, and we have to be prepared to see both [quarterbacks]. No, I didn’t see the end of the game. I wanted to, but nothing against NBC, but I did not like the program they had on while the rain delay was on, so I was like, uh, I’m just going to watch the other ones. I did not see the TV copy. I will watch the film copy though.”
Talk about Notre Dame’s O-line. “Big. Notre Dame’s got some big offensive linemen. Their biggest one, though, I wanna say his name’s Charles Stewart, I’m not sure. He graduated. He was their left guard. He was like 370, a really big kid. Their right guard, Trevor Robinson, I think is his name. He was a kid that Michigan recruited, and I was his host when he was here. Their center’s really good, too. He’s been there for two years, I think, and very experienced. Their interior line is really experienced. I think they have younger guys on the outside, but they also have a year of experience underneath their belt. So they’re going to be a good test for us as far as a defensive front and where we are in comparison to other teams, because Notre Dame’s offensive line will be as good as any we’ll see.”
(more after the jump)
(Ryan Van Bergen, David Molk, and Denard Robinson will be up tomorrow morning.)
- Cam Gordon and Troy Woolfolk will play next Saturday
- Fitz remains starting RB
Press Conference (filmed)
"It is a holiday, but in your profession -- in our profession -- you really don’t have holidays, but that’s okay."
Opening remarks: “As far as last Saturday, it was good to win. The weather is -- you can never anticipate what happens -- but it was good to win a football game, and we think we learned a lot team-wise when you look at where we need to really improve. It was good to get out and obviously play someone else besides yourselves because we did that for four weeks. There’s a lot that we can learn from the film, there’s a lot that we can continue to learn from the film and improve on, and hopefully we’re gonna make a big improvement because the test gets much bigger this week.
“This is a great rivalry game, and one that we’re excited about obviously. There’s some other things that go along with this game this year with playing at night, the first night game, and the throwback uniforms, and all those things, but the one thing we talked about as a team is we can’t get caught up and distracted. The field’s still going to be 120 yards long when you include the end-zones, and 53-point-something yards wide, and so that’s not going to change. That’s where our focus has to be and how we prepare this week to play our best football and make a lot of improvements.”
Talk about the injuries to Troy Woolfolk and Cam Gordon. “Troy, he just sprained his ankle—his other ankle. It felt better yesterday. I think emergency-wise, he could have gotten back in Saturday. He’s doing a good job, and Paul Schmidt, our trainer, is doing a good job treating all those things. Cam, he tweaked his back earlier in the week, felt better but still just didn’t feel good enough. There was no sense for us to try and put him out there where he could prolong the recovery process, I would say.”
Anyone else? “No.”
Do you anticipate them starting this Saturday against Notre Dame? “Yeah, I do.”
You didn’t allow very many big plays of 20+ yards. How would you evaluate your safeties? “Obviously I think Jordan played a terrific football game, when you look at his production and the things that we asked him to do. I thought he played very well. He did miss one tackle in there, but he played well.”
“Marvin was getting his feet wet a little more in game-atmosphere kinds of situations, there’s a lot with the communication we need to have more of back there. He’s got to be more vocal -- he’s not a real vocal guy anyway.
“I think Thomas [Gordon] played well, but there’s some things that I know that he wasn’t satisfied with that he needs to improve upon, but he’s had a tremendous camp. We asked him to do a lot because when Troy went down, he moved into nickel in that situation. I think we were okay there. I think there’s a lot that we need to do a heck of a lot better this week.”
ND’s QB situation is kind of up in the air. How does that affect how you prepare? “To me, it doesn’t change anything in our preparation. With the style of offense that Brian runs, I think they’re very talented. [Notre Dame] will make the decision that’s best for the team, and we can’t worry about that. I don’t think it changes the offense in any way at all.”
What’s the most memorable Michigan-Notre Dame game you’ve been involved in? “I was here kind of in those odd years. We played Washington two years and we didn’t play [Notre Dame]. And then we played UCLA two years and didn’t play [Notre Dame]. I think [what was memorable] in the ‘97 year was when [Notre Dame] was inside the red-zone three times, and defensively [Michigan’s] guys stood up and didn’t let them get any points.”
Earlier last week it didn’t look like Herron or Avery were going to start. But then they played a lot. How come? “Some of it has to do with what kind of defensive set we were in. Courtney was the third corner coming in. Troy goes to nickel, Courtney comes on the field. I don’t think the [depth chart] played a part in it. Just what subgroup you were in. The other one was when Cam started hitching up with his back a little bit, we had to get another guy with some experience some reps in the design of the defense that we were in, and I kept going back with that because it depends whether we’re in the dime or nickel or base, where we line up -- but that was the only reason.”
You have countdown clocks for MSU and Ohio. Is Notre Dame on a different level? “Those are Big Ten conference games, that’s always part of it. In-state rivalries and obviously the rivalry on the last Saturday in November is special. [The Notre Dame rivalry] is important as anything. This has always been a game where … I remember Coach Schembechler always talking about, you always get a gauge on where you’re at as a team, because it’s always going to take a national spotlight, and it is an environment where you have expectations of how your guys are going to play.”
Is there one thing you were really happy with from Saturday? “Well, there’s probably a lot of things I was very unhappy with, but we’ll leave that for later. But here’s what I thought: Rushing for 190 yards in three quarters of game -- that was a good thing. I think that once Greg Mattison and the defensive staff made some adjustments [with] the pressure on the quarterback … The man coverage, we have to be much better this week because of the talent that Notre Dame has. But I thought there was a flow to the game then. Herron takes the ball back, and we come back out, and it’s a three-and-out. So we were starting to get some flow and momentum.”
Can you elaborate on what else you need to improve? “We have to play better run defense, we have to play tighter coverage in zone, we have to be able to pressure the quarterback with four guys at times, or with three guys at times from a defensive perspective. We had some missed alignments that were based on communication that you can’t have, or lack of communication.
“From an offensive standpoint, we took care of the football, which was big and always will be big. But there were a couple decisions that we need to make better, and we have to do a better job staying on blocks down the field because there were several opportunities for other bigger plays in the run game. Our routes, where [receivers] broke a couple of them off early -- the receivers have to be more disciplined within the scheme, especially when you’re in the timing phase of your game.
“And then the kicking game -- our kickoff coverage will get a lot of attention from where we place the ball on the kick to how we get off blocks going down the field. So that’s huge. Obviously we’re going to give a lot of attention to PAT and field goal protection on the inside. You can’t get knocked back, and that was part of the one that got blocked. A big part of it was because we got knocked back too much. Another problem was that the snap was too high. It took Gibbons a little longer to approach the ball because of that.
“I could go to the punt team, I could go on and on … kickoff return -- better decision than taking the ball out of the end-zone, getting on guys a little better, I mean this could be a marathon, but I don’t have the time for it, and neither do you.”
Will we see some different personnel in kickoff coverage? Well you could. It’s competitive, and you’re evaluated, and if we’re not doing the job we think we need to have, from a competitive standpoint, because part of getting off blocks is getting competitive, and having an intensity of what you’re doing. That part of it, believe me, was addressed yesterday and will continue to be addressed this week. There could be some different faces on there. It’ll be a fun week, we’ll put it that way.
Do you feel like D-line led the defense? “I think we played okay. We weren’t – you guys have heard me talk about ‘hearing football.’ You also want to feel guys during the course of a game. I felt number 32 during the course of the game. An impact. To some degree, I thought J.T., you could feel him out there a little bit. I never felt our front like we need to. Not to be specific – I think we played okay, but I think we need to play at a higher level and a higher standard.”
You ran 39 offensive plays. Was that enough to answer some questions or are there still some things for which you need to see more in order to evaluate? “I think it’s a little bit of both. I think there are some things that are still out there. Talking to Al and the offensive staff, there are some things we didn’t get to in the offense that maybe we would like to have gotten to a little more. We also saw some things that we wanted to get done, too.”
(more after the jump)
The Creeper Van made its way to Toledo last Friday to check out defensive end commit Chris Wormley as his Toledo Whitmer Panthers took on A.B. Lucas Secondary School. Things I learned about A.B. Lucas: It's located in London, Ontario, Canada, their players are used to CFL rules (i.e. having one of their wideouts run full speed at the line of scrimmage before the snap), and they were terribly undersized and overmatched against a Whitmer squad with a solid amount of Division-I talent on the roster.
Things I learned about Chris Wormley? We'll get to those later, after you see highlights of Chris from the first half of play—plus a post-game interview—before the cupcake-stomping got so out of hand that Whitmer practically had to trot out their JV team in order to not pull a Bret Bielema (Final score: 41-0, with all but six of the points coming in the first half, I believe):
In case you missed it, because I realized the stat line went by rather quickly once I'd already uploaded the video to YouTube, by my count Wormley recorded three tackles, two TFLs, two QB hurries, and one sack in a little less than one half of play. He also had one tackle for loss called back on an offensive holding penalty (it's still in the video, as it was all the more impressive since Wormley was the holdee), and the officials let a fair amount of holding go, which was frankly for the best in this game.
Scouting Report: Take this all with a rather large grain of salt, as Wormley faced off against 180-pound Canadian linemen who seemed like polite young men but also not very good at football. The biggest question about Wormley, at least put forth by most of the recruiting services, is whether or not he has a good motor. For the most part, Wormley was in attack mode on every play, and he showed a really nice initial burst off the snap, which enabled him to choose between bull-rushing Terrance and Phillip and simply speed-rushing around the end.
Either way, it usually worked, though there were a couple plays where Wormley got stood up by a double-team on pass plays and didn't do a whole lot to break through—part of this can be chalked up to fatigue (it was 95 degrees at kickoff and Whitmer plays on fieldturf), part potential boredom, and part the fact that one can't expect a defensive lineman on a three-man line to break into the backfield on every play, tiny O-lineman or not.
Wormley's pass rushing ability was on display, as he made his way into the Lucas backfield seemingly whenever he wanted to. He didn't show a wide array of moves off the line, but he didn't really have to—his sack came when nobody decided to block him, and he was able to generate pressure by either engaging with the tackle and shoving him aside or simply running around the edge. He didn't show elite speed off the corner—I thought Mario Ojemudia was more impressive in this regard, although he's a much smaller DE—but his size and strength were a real asset both against the pass and the run.
Speaking of run defense, I really liked Wormley in his limited chances here. On two separate occasions, Lucas decided—for some unbeknownst reason—to run toss sweeps to Wormley's side of the field. Both times, Wormley knocked his blocker into the backfield, shed the block, and chased down the running back in the backfield—probably his two most impressive plays on the evening. When Lucas ran up the middle, at the very least Wormley held his ground, and despite facing double teams he was usually able to cave in the hole and force the play into one of his teammates. He also tracked down a running play eight yards downfield, sticking with the play and closing the gap quickly once he located the ball.
In the end, what stood out to me the most was Wormley's impressive size. Even when he took off his pads near the end of the first half, he was easily the most noticeable player on Whitmer's sideline, and it looks like he's added a decent amount of good weight since last year. At 6'5", he appears to weigh in the neighborhood of 270 pounds, and he's not carrying any unnecessary pounds. He reminds me of a younger Ryan Van Bergen, and like RVB he should be able to play either strongside DE or three-tech DT at the next level, and I believe he can come in right away and compete for playing time (especially with the lack of depth at both those positions).
Listen to me stammer on live radio: Mason Lowry of WRSC Radio, which broadcasts every Whitmer game live (as well as Sylvania Southview, home of Allen Gant), was kind enough to have me on air at halftime and asked a few questions about Wormley, Whitmer grad Kevin Koger, and also Michigan. Here's the audio:
Did I really say I was torn between 9-3 and 8-4 on air? I guess so, and now I guess I'm sticking with it. Thanks to Mason for having me on, especially since he also took the time before the game to tell me everything I needed to know about Whitmer (much of which I promptly forgot, hence identifying all non-Wormley players by their uniform number).
Photos: Thanks once again to Eric for accompanying me and taking a great set of photos:
Next Week: The van heads back to Toledo to watch Allen Gant's Sylvania Southview squad hit the road against Toledo Start.
Previously: Week 1 — Farmington Hills Harrison (Devin Funchess, Mario Ojemudia) vs. Cass Tech (Royce Jenkins-Stone, Terry Richardson)
If you have any suggestions to help improve future Creeper Van Originals, please leave them in the comments or email me.