This is a personnel-oriented look at the season's opponents. The game-week previews will be more matchup based. Last year's stats are presented with projected starters in bold and departed players in italics.
|Notre Dame Offense 2010|
|Yards Per Game||379.69||61|
|Points Per Game||26.31||67|
|Yards Per Play||5.52||63|
|Yards Per Pass||6.84||75|
|Yards Per Rush||3.98||77|
|Playcall Distribution||1.16 Pass:Rush|
Notre Dame replaced an offensive genius in Charlie Weis with... another one in Brian Kelly. With a really young lineup, including a rotating cast of quarterbacks, the offense struggled. It wasn't particularly pass-happy either, as even adjusted for sacks, they only threw it 1.27 times for every rush.
Part of that is the quarterback issue. Three quarterbacks played for the Irish last year, including significant reps for a true freshman. With more experience at the position, the entire offense should improve, because all things considered, it was actually quite bad last year. The Irish only broke 40 points in one game, against Western Michigan.
Dayne Crist started the year at the helm for the Irish, but mediocrity and injury combined to give plenty of playing time to Tommy Rees, with a few reps for Nate "yes that" Montana. None of them performed particularly well, which generally spells doom for a Brian Kelly offense.
Rees seems like a better long-term fit for the system (and is obviously a couple years younger), so although Crist will probably still start, expect to see him Rees in the lineup from time-to-time. There are also a few viable backups, with redshirt freshman Andrew Hendrix joined by true freshman (and early enrollee) Everett Golson, a very good athlete who needs some seasoning as a QB.
|Notre Dame QBs 2010|
|Notre Dame QBs Rushing 2010|
Grade: 4/5. Based on past performance, this might be a serious overrating of the unit. However, Crist came out of high school with all the accolades, and as a redshirt junior, he should be rounding into form. Given Brian Kelly's track record with quarterbacks, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, and there is some material to work with on the roster.
Cierre Wood led the team in rushing last year, though he was part of a two-headed attack with Armando Allen (pictured at right), who completed his 12th and final year of eligibility last season. Pounder Robert Hughes, the team's third-leading rusher, also departs from last year's roster. That leaves Notre Dame with two options: either feed Wood the ball a ton, or hope another rusher emerges. With Theo Riddick finding a full-time gig at wideout, that means former Detroit Country Day (classmate of Kenny Demens) standout Jonas Gray is the best bet, or it will be a completely green player.
|Notre Dame RBs 2010|
|Notre Dame RBs Receiving 2010|
Grade: 2/5. Wood is a decent starter. Gray had some national recruiting hype but is still inexplicably waiting for his Michigan offer. He could be good, but the Irish lose too much here to predict that everything will be sunshine and lollipops [Ed-M: Unless you're a Notre Dame fan, in which case Wood will win the Heisman next year, unless Crist does]. There's a serious - nay, dire - lack of experienced depth, and if anything happens to Wood, there's a precipitous dropoff.
Do you mean with or without Michael Floyd? This is perhaps the biggest question for Notre Dame this season. The Irish's best offensive player by a country mile, Floyd has been oft-injured throughout his career, and is currently in limbo after a suspension for several alcohol-related arrests.
The other starting spots aren't in question. Theo Riddick is a 5-11 guy who can play outside or in the slot, TJ Jones is a similar player (though less explosive), and Tyler Eifert hopes to step up at tight end following Kyle Rudolph's early entry to the NFL. Eifert started about half of last season after Rudolph tore his hamstring. The only wideout the Irish lose is Duval Kamara, who didn't produce last year (despite being a starter) because he was so frequently injured.
|Notre Dame Receivers 2010|
|Kyle Rudolph (TE)||28||328||11.71||3|
|Tyler Eifert (TE)||27||352||13.04||2|
|John Goodman (TE)||15||146||9.73||0|
|Mike Ragone (TE)||3||32||10.67||0|
|Notre Dame WRs Rushing 2009|
|Bennett Jackson (CB)||1||20||20.00||0|
Grade Without Floyd: 2/5. Grade With Floyd: 4/5. I was tempted to raise the with-Floyd grade even more, because he's that talented (a 2nd-Team All-American projection by Phil Steele), but one man does not a receiving corps make. The other players in the Irish's stable haven't done a whole lot, and what they have done was accomplished with Floyd drawing attention away from them. If he's not on the field to do that, it could spell trouble - though improved QB play would help them out. If Floyd is on the field, expect improvement at every position, because the Irish had a young group last year, and they should progress normally.
If the Irish are to improve offensively this season, it will likely be along the offensive line. The one consistently meh part of Charlie Weis's offenses is looking to make a leap in year two under Brian Kelly after losing only one starter. That starter, Chris Stewart, was in the lineup for three years, but he'll be replaced with a former 5-star prospect in Chris Watt, a redshirt sophomore. The other starters remain unchanged, with redshirt sophomore Zack Martin at left tackle, Watt or true senior Trevor Robinson at left guard, redshirt junior Braxston Cave at center, Watt or Robinson at right guard, and 5th-year senior Taylor Dever at right tackle.
Grade: 4/5. The Irish weren't a great running team last year (in fact they were pretty bad), despite a slant toward the pass in playcalling. They were, however, pretty good in pass protection, finishing in the top 40 in sacks allowed despite their slight slant toward the pass. Replacing Stewart (who went undrafted and unnoticed by the NFL) with a very highly touted player in his third year of college should see no dropoff, and in some likelihood major improvement.
|Notre Dame Defense 2009|
|Yards Per Game||357.23||50|
|Points Per Game||20.23||23|
|Yards Per Play||5.13||37|
|Pass Yards Per Game||215.08||54|
|Yards Per Pass||6.35||28|
|Sacks Per Game||2.08||54|
|Rush Yards Per Game||142.15||50|
|Yards Per Rush||3.97||53|
So if the offense didn't improve by replacing one offensive guru with another, why did the Irish have reason for optimism this offseason? A defense that finally seems to have found its way after 5 poor years under Charlie Weis.
Brian Kelly brought along a switch to the 3-4 base defense, and with it a bounce back toward the middle of the pack. The pressure up front wasn't great against the pass or the run, with teams having average-ish success in moving the ball on the ground and not getting sacked. It was in the secondary that ND's defense really improved.
With another year in the system, and plenty of returning talent (who had the recruiting stars on their side, at the very least, coming out of high school), the Irish are looking to take another step forward on the defensive side of the ball this season.
Notre Dame's 3-man front returns both defensive ends, so the only question mark is at nose tackle. Ian Williams was a hot-and-cold starter who performed decently against Michigan last year, and Sean Cwynar will step in to fill his shoes. The depth is light, as redshirt frosh Louis Nix will be expected to step in and contribute immediately, and ND didn't pick up any DTs at all in the 2011 class. The Irish will have much better depth on the edges this year - though young - as they signed approximately every defensive end in the nation last year, including a few highly-recruied ones. Aaron Lynch enrolled early from that group, and impressed this spring.
|Notre Dame Defensive Line 2010|
Grade: 3/5. If the incoming freshmen weren't, well, freshmen, I'd rate this group much more highly. It's a crapshoot as to whether they'll be able to step in and contribute immediately, so they can't be relied upon this fall. Defensive tackle is a very sketchy point. Although Sean Cwynar had nearly as many tackles as Ian Williams last year despite much less playing time, the depth is unproven and/or non-existent, with Irish kicking specialists having nearly as many tackles last year as returning backup DTs.
The Irish are all set on the inside. Star MLB Manti Te'o (pictured making a great tackle at right) enters his junior year with two seasons as a starter already under his belt, and his compatriot Carlo Calabrese will be a second-year starter himself. Darius Fleming, the team's most explosive edge-rusher, also returns, leaving only one open slot at the the outside linebacker position. Dan Fox and Prince Shembo will battle for that position, but I'm guessing the more physically gifted Shembo will take the starting spot (their stats were similar last year but Shembo brought much more pass rush, and is the younger player), and Fox will be a valuable backup. Steve Filer will also see increased backup duty on the outside, but depth on the inside is weak, as McDonald and Posluszny have been special teams players to date in their careers.
|Notre Dame Linebackers 2010|
Grade: 5/5. As Michigan fans saw in last year's game, when not being ridden into members of his own secondary by Patrick Omameh on spinach, Manti Te'o is one of the best defensive players in the country (a 2nd-Team All-American projection by Phil Steele). Carlo Calabrese is a returning starter who racked up some decent stats last year despite playing alongside Te'o, and Darius Fleming is also a returning starter who led the team in TFLs in 2010. That means the only possible question marks are the other outside linebacker slot, which seems to have two viable candidates, including one who was a great edge-rusher in backup duty last year, and depth, which seems very good on the outside, but limited on the inside. With the strength of Notre Dame's top three options, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Notre Dame's secondary is led by three-time Zibikowski Memorial White Notre Dame Safety Award winner Harrison Smith, who was the Irish's second-leading tackler last season. He's joined by two other returning starters in Zeke Motta and Gary Gray. Robert Blanton wasn't a starter last year, but he got plenty of snaps on both special teams and defense, so he should be ready to step in for Darrin Walls. Nearly every other defensive back returns for the Irish, so this should be an area of strength.
|Notre Dame Defensive Backs 2010|
|Harrison Smith (SS)||91||9||1||2|
|Gary Gray (CB)||66||1||0||5|
|Robert Blanton (CB)||53||1.5||0||5|
|Zeke Motta (FS)||50||1||0||0|
Grade: 4/5. As mentioned above, Notre Dame was actually pretty good against the pass last year. They also lose practically nobody off that unit - Walls was only an OK player, and Blanton should be adequate or an upgrade - and gain a lot of experience, especially since it's just their second year in this system. Phil Steele projects Smith to be a 4th-Team All-American.
Both Irish specialists return from last year. David Ruffer will continue the kicks (he was very solid on FGs but weirdly mediocre on extra points) and Ben Turk is the punter.
|Notre Dame Kicking 2010|
|Notre Dame Punting 2010|
Grade: 3/5. Ruffer is a 4th-Team All-American projection by Phil Steele, but Turk is mediocre at best. The Irish were below average in net punting last year despite playing several teams that were pretty damn bad on returns last year.
I, for one, welcome our Nike overlords. After two straight years of using The Game to prove even Ohio State can look more ridiculous, Nike will strike again this fall, outfitting Michigan State in their Pro Combat line of jerseys for the October 15th tilt against the Wolverines. (Yeah yeah, those in glass houses and whatnot).
In fairness, going to Pro Combat might be an improvement from the OMG MODERN FONT look straight out of Any Given Sunday that Michigan State switched to last year:
...as opposed to going away from the classic look of Ohio State's traditional jerseys (/immediately feels dirty, showers).
We live in an age where the apparel companies are going to do what they do in search of the almighty dollar. Methinks it's best to just to just accept it and move along. It certainly doesn't hurt that I'm not nearly as "get off my lawn" about Michigan's night game jerseys as is Brian. We'll see if Adidas plans to make frequent use of cash-grab alternates, like Nike is doing.
[Ed-M: As Michigan fans, however many headaches we've had to suffer thanks to Adidas's neon-ish idea of "maize" is made worth it when we see our rivals come to school looking like their colorblind mothers got lost in the kids section at Target.
For those wondering why they don't just go with the classic 1960s thing, MSU's official site rules out the obvious Duffy-era look because they rocked that for ND in 2006 -- not that anyone noticed. You can't really do too much damage with MSU since they've had 9 significant uniform changes since 1993, but they already have a home alternate, so either they're scrapping that, or State will play just three games all year in their "home" jerseys. Oregon indeed.
Futzing with Ohio State's
classic helmet disco ball covered in bird poop for Michigan week is the kind of thing that can make the football gods remove their favors.]
Speaking of ill-advised Spartan doings. Justin Abdelkader jokes that he wishes to bomb Michigan Stadium:
This is INCONTROVERTIBLE PROOF that all Spartans are terrorists. Look it up.
Barbecue snobs are certain to clarify this is merely a "cookout." As you've likely noticed, Wednesday Recruitin' has been a little calm over the past two weeks, after a whirlwind late spring/early summer parade of commitments to Ann Arbor. A slow period should transition immediately into another action-packed (though not necessarily commitment-packed) period coming up soon, with next weekend's "Barbecue at the Big House" recruiting event.
Much more about it in next week's Recruitin' post, but if you need your fix now, Tom has an ever-evolving list of visitors up in the Diary section. Those not already committed to Michigan are of the greatest interest to us because, you know, they could commit. All this and MUCH MORE next Wednesday (they call that a tease, kids).
Why would anyone want to leave that state? Also regarding the barbecue, Eleven Warriors calls Kyle Kalis and Tom Strobel "Ann Arbor's new favorite couple," but it is not supposed to be a gay joke - except there's no other way for it to realistically be intended. They could be Purdue commits for all I care, but what century are we living in where "hurr hurr u r gay" is still an OK insult?
If you Google "Kyle Kalis ACL," the first infinity results are of Ohio State message boarders wishing injury on a 16-17 year-old kid. Kalis has gone into (mostly) radio silence since his commitment, for fear of backlash. Ohio State fans bashing him for "poor morals" because he decommitted from a school that's about to get hammered for lying to the NCAA? Irony reading: high.
I'm not trying to pick a fight with Eleven Warriors here, but come on dudes, hold yourselves to a higher standard - which, to be fair, they usually do.
Godzillatron will be ours. Updates on the scoreboards? Updates on the scoreboards. Pictures can be seen at Michigan Stadium Aerials (also with updated photos of the hoops Player Development Center), and if you're into the "paint drying" thing, you can watch the assembly live on the internet at MGoBlue.
OK, so it's not quite as impressive as the mega-boards at places like Texas and... Minnesota... but it's certainly an upgrade over the recent past.
The QB my friends, is blowin' in the wind. Tate Forcier was told "thanks but no thanks" by Hawaii, of all schools, because his transcript is really that bad. The official mgoblog position is "hope he gets his life in order," but uh, is anyone still second-guessing David Brandon's alleged refusal to schedule a meeting with QB5?:
"I needed a certain amount of credits. The incompletes, I took care of those. Dave Brandon still wouldn't let me stay. He refused to even meet with us."
If Hawaii isn't even going to meet with you, Dave Brandon proooooobably wasn't in the wrong here. It sounds like you have more than "a few incompletes" to take care of.
Etc. The Big Ten goes in the wrong direction by going from 3 to zero teams on its preseason media ballot. Men's lacrosse picks up a top offensive coordinator - and tons of solid 2012 commits - including a football teammate of Erik Magnuson. Big Ten schools gettin' that paper, yo. Rest in peace, Jimmy Maddock.
This fall, I'll be chronicling the season of Michigan commits as they hit the field on Friday nights (or Thursdays, or Saturday afternoons) in their high school games. The series includes stat breakdowns, game stories, and even some original video. Here's a primer for the offensive side of the ball - the prospects whose games I'm most likely to attend this fall. If you have any corrections, you can e-mail them to me at [email protected], or post them in the comments of this post.
Harrison High School
Farmington Hills, MI
|Farmington Hills Harrison 2011|
|8-27||8PM||Detroit Cass Tech (@EMU)|
|9-23||7PM||@ Southfield Lathrup|
|10-6||7PM||@ Rochester Adams|
|10-14||7PM||OAA Crossover Game|
HS Position: Wide Receiver
Projects as: Tight End/H-Back
HS Position: Defensive Tackle
Projects as: Defensive End/Rush LB
Farmington Hills Harrison had plenty of success on the field last year, winning 14 straight game en route to an undefeated State Championship season in Michigan's second-largest division. Devin finished the season with about 33 catches for 800 yards, while Mario notched 127 tackles and 12 sacks from the DT(!!!) spot, also causing three fumbles.
Harrison looks to be strong yet again in 2011, with not only Funchess and Ojemudia back, but teammate Aaron Burbridge reeling in the receptions - I'll be keeping an eye on the #2 prospect in the state of Michigan, as he's a prospect for the Wolverines as well. Harrison does have to replace quarterback Tommy Vento (a preferred walk-on at Michigan State), but if they can find a signal-caller, the other pieces are in place for a deep run.
I should catch quite a few Harrison games, and their season-opener against Cass Tech is a must-see for Michigan fans, as Royce Jenkins-Stone and Terry Richardson will be suiting up across the field. That game is August 27th at 8PM in Eastern Michigan's Rynearson Stadium.
Cass Technical School
|Detroit Cass Tech 2011|
|8-27||8PM||FH Harrison (@EMU)|
|9-2||3PM||@ Detroit Central|
|9-9||4PM||@ Det Southeastern|
|9-30||6PM||Crockett (@Det Osborn)|
HS Position: Fullback/Linebacker
Projects as: Middle Linebacker
HS Position: Slot Receiver/Cornerback
Projects as: Cornerback
The Cass Tech Technicians (We're from Tech!) had enormous success last season for a city league team, falling in the State Semifinal game on a final-minute turnover to eventual champion Lake Orion. Tech sent four players to FBS teams following the season, including Michigan freshman CB Delonte Hollowell (Illinois, Toledo and W. Mich got the others). Royce rushed for 10 touchdowns, and added 90 tackles and five sacks on the other side of the ball, and Terry finished with 35 tackles and 12 interceptions, plus 12 receptions for 400ish(!) yards and five touchdowns.
Despite losing plenty of talent, Tech looks to reload with Terry and Royce as the leaders. Royce's fellow linebackers Ruben Lile and Laron Taylor both have multiple Big Ten offers, and DT Darryl Goldsmith is hearing from the MAC. There's talent in the 2013 class as well. The schedule sets up nicely, with the showcase game against Harrison leading into several Detroit teams whom Tech has dominated over the past couple years.
Aside from the season opener against Harrison, I should be able to make it to a couple more Tech games, many of which are conveniently scheduled during the day. The final two games are tentatively scheduled for Thursdays, which could mean more chances to check them out. [Ed-M: Bonus reason to go to a Tech game: their fan cheer is "Go Cass; Kick Ass!"]
Detroit Catholic Central
|Detroit Catholic Central 2011|
|8-26||7PM||@ Dearborn Fordson|
|9-2||7:30PM||@ Delphos (OH) St. John's|
|9-24||7PM||De La Salle (@Lake Shore)|
|10-15||7PM||Orchard Lake St. Mary's|
|10-22||4PM||Prep Bowl (@Ford Field)|
HS Position: Defensive End
Projects as: Defensive End/Tackle
Last year, the Shamrocks saw plenty of success, but lost in the State Quarterfinals to current Michigan freshman Brennen Beyer and his eventual runner-up Plymouth Wildcats. They closed out the season 9-3. Matt capped off a 66-tackle (28 for loss), campaign with All-Catholic Honors.
Catholic Central looks to rebound from a down year in 2010 (seriously, 9-3 is a down year) with a return to the state finals - they won the State Championship in 2009. Along with Godin, tight end Matt Doneth is a BCS prospect as a senior, and 2013 RB/DE Wyatt Shallman should be one of the top prospects in next year's in-state crop.
With Michigan's heavy recruiting of the Catholic League this year (James Ross attends Orchard Lake St. Mary's, and 2013 QB Commit Shane Morris goes to Warren De La Salle), I should be able to make it out to at least a couple of Godin's games.
St. Mary's Preparatory
Orchard Lake, MI
|Orchard Lake St. Mary's 2011|
|8-26||4:30PM||GR West Catholic|
|9-2||7PM||Toledo (OH) St. John's|
|9-16||7PM||UD Jesuit (@Ferndale)|
|9-23||7:30PM||Columbus (OH) DeSales|
|10-7||7PM||Warren De La Salle|
|10-15||7PM||@ Det Catholic Central|
|10-22||7PM||Prep Bowl (@Ford Field)|
HS Position: Fullback/Linebacker
Projects as: Linebacker
Last year, St. Mary's reached the State Championship game, but fell to rival East Grand Rapids (as the Eaglets so often do in various sports) on a goal line stand in the fourth quarter. The only other losses in the 11-3 campaign for St. Mary's came to another rival in Birmingham Brother Rice (once in the regular season, once in the Prep Bowl). James finished his junior season with 103 tackles, five sacks, five forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries, and an interception last year.
This year, the Eaglets have to replace a Penn State-bound WR Allen Robinson, along with their starting quarterback Mike Koenigsknecht. The onus will fall on the run game and defense to bring the Eaglets back to the playoffs.
I should be able to make at least a couple OLSM games this fall, particularly when they take on other Michigan prospects.
Rockford High School
|9-16||7PM||Holland West Ottawa|
HS Position: Offensive Tackle
Projects as: Offensive Tackle
The Rams are a traditional football power in the State of Michigan, so only reaching the semifinals last year (they bowed out to Brennen Beyer's Plymouth team) was a disappointment. The 11-3 seaosn also included road losses to Howell and Canton in the regular season. Braden is an offensive lineman, so his didn't accrue any stats.
Expect a disappointing 2010 season to fuel a deep run for Rockford this year, led by Braden up front. His other bookend, Parker Ehinger, is off to Cincinnati this year, so the Rams need another big lineman to step up in their run-heavy attack. There has been a lot of talk this summer about how Braden impressed on the camp circuit, so a strong senior year could help him move into four-star range to the recruiting services.
Rockford [shows hand, points at left side of palm] is positioned across the state from most of Michigan's other commits (and, you know, Michigan itself), so it'll be rare that I get to take in one of Braden's regular-season games. However, Rockford should make a deep run into the playoffs, and I'll hopefully get to catch a couple there.
De La Salle Collegiate
|De La Salle 2011|
|8-26||7PM||AA Pioner (@Lake Shore)|
|9-2||7PM||Carman-Ainsworth (@Lake Shore)|
|9-9||7PM||@ Dearborn Fordson|
|9-18||2:30PM||@ Brother Rice|
|9-24||7PM||Catholic Central (@Lake Shore)|
|9-30||7PM||Inkster (@Lake Shore)|
|10-7||7PM||@ Orchard Lake St. Mary's|
|10-14||7PM||UD Jesuit (@Lake Shore)|
|10-21||7PM||Prep Bowl (@ Ford Field)|
Shane Morris (2013)
HS Position: Quarterback
Projects as: Quarterback
De La Salle has not been a power in the Catholic League, but they put together a good 2010 season, reaching the State Quarterfinals, where they fell to eventual champion Farmington Hills Harrison. The other losses in a 9-3 season for the Pilots came to another pair of Michigan commits in Detroit Catholic Central's Matt Godin and Orchard Lake St Mary's linebacker James Ross. Morris completed 102 of 180 passes for 1,150 yards, to go along with 14 touchdowns and just 2 picks last season.
De La Salle should be about the same this year as they were last year, but with another year of experience for their star QB, they'll look to get over the next hump. With a very strong junior season, Shane can make an early argument for 5-star status in the 2013 class.
Since he won't be hitting campus for another couple years, I'm not prioritizing Morris's games as highly as the other prospects. I plan to be in attendance (when possible) for a couple contests against 2012 Michigan commits.
Any corrections to the schedules posted here are welcome. If you attend any commit's game, feel free to e-mail me notes, stats, photos, etc. to [email protected].
A whole lot of "defense will be better" diaries this week. Rather than steal their thunder, HIT PLAY to listen to my favorite song off my favorite album of all time, and once the strings and charts come in, start clicking things. (Mp3 courtesy of band's official page)
Your gentleman caller
Well, he's been calling on another
He loves his forbidden fruit
And as it dribbles down his chin
"Baby I've been drinking with some friends now how about a little kiss"
Rub his nose in it, what a mess
And he's playing dumb
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
I'm not looking for a lover
All those lovers are liars
I would never lie to you
You say you wanna get even
Yeah you wanna get your bad man good
Well, are you in the mood?
You bad girl
Does it feel good
Being bad? and get worse
do do do do do do do do
But in the morning
On the sober dawn of Sunday
You're not sure what you have done
Who told you love was fleeting?
Sometimes men can be so misleading
To take what they need from you
Whatever you need to make you feel
Like you've been the one behind the wheel
The sunrise is just over that hill
Whatever I said to make you think
That love's the religion of the weak
This morning we love like weaklings
The worst is over.
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
- NCAA Total Defense: 110th (of 120)
- NCAA Scoring Defense: 108th
- Rushing Defense: 95th, but that's just to set up the…
- Passing Defense: 112th
- Turnovers Gained: T-77th
- 3rd Down: 95th
- Red Zone: 87th
- Fremeau: 108th
The worst is over.
This is a personnel-oriented look at the season's opponents. The game-week previews will be more matchup based. Last year's stats are presented with projected starters in bold and departed players in italics.
|Western Michigan Offense 2010|
|Yards Per Game||411.67||34|
|Points Per Game||32.33||37|
|Yards Per Play||5.74||46|
|Yards Per Pass||7.22||49|
|Yards Per Rush||3.92||83|
|Playcall Distribution||1.23 Pass:Rush|
The Broncos ran a pass-heavy spread offense last year, putting the majority of the focus on QB Alex Carder and his stable of receivers. Part of the apparent balance in playcalling is a mirage, as the Broncos were one of the most-sacked teams in America, with Alex Carder and Tyler VanTubbergen going down 30 times on the year. Adjusting the playcall distribution to account for that, they're 1.42 passes per run. Their playcalling makes sense given that they were a decent team on a yards-per-pass basis, and god awful at running the rock.
Ever since Bill Cubit has been at Western Michigan, they've been a pass-heavy team, regardless of talent. Expect that to continue into 2011.
Alex Carder returns for his second season as a starter, though he's been in the program for four years (redshirted in 2008, backup in '09). It's fair to expect a bit of improvement going forward. One thing that could hinder that development? one of his top targets from last year, Juan Nunez, is out the door. He's also been hit plenty of times recently, as one of the most-sacked QBs in the nation (more about that in the OL section).
His backup, Tyler VanTubbergen, also returns. He got limited action in his redshirt freshman year. The third-stringer will be someone who has yet to throw a collegiate pass, be it a true freshman or a sophomore who hasn't seen any game action.
|Western Michigan QBs 2010|
|Western Michigan QBs Rushing 2010|
Grade: 3/5. It's fair to expect Carder to be a little better this year than he was last year, but with a depleted receiving corps, that may not show up in the box scores. He was also the team's most oft-deployed runner as well, and though he didn't put up good numbers (thanks in part to being sacked 2.5 times per game), he did lead the team in rushing TDs. He's Phil Steele's 2nd-Team All-MAC QB.
Tevin Drake was the team's leading rusher last year, despite being fifth(!) on the team in carries behind several guys who didn't get nearly his YPC. He did get enough reps that his high YPC is probably not a statistical anomaly, though his big games came against some of the worst competition on the schedule.
Aaron Winchester was the team's wholly-underwhelming workhorse last year, and it's odd to see that he got so many more carries than the other guys, considering he performed considerably worse. There could be some situational-use explanations for that, but if the offensive line was bad, it was bad for everyone, and he didn't even perform well against the dregs of the schedule.
|Western Michigan RBs 2010|
|WMU RBs Receiving 2010|
Grade: 2/5. Since everybody returns from last year, it's fair to assume this unit will perform better. I'd also imagine that the coaching staff will wise up and reduce the reps for Winchester while increasing them for Drake and Fields, who are no longer freshmen. That means more explosiveness and less... uh... ineffective player. Winchester didn't get it done last year, but kept getting the ball. The dude got 3.3 ypc against Nicholls State, for God's sake. He didn't account for a single touchdown all year! I think Fields is more built to take every-down pounding, and Drake may be more effective as a situational player (Phil Steele has pegged him as 2nd-Team all-MAC).
Last year's most prolific wide receiver will be a 6th-year senior, thanks to a medical redshirt way back in 2008. He was a Biletnikoff semifinalist last year, so Jordan White is the Real Deal. The problem is that the team's second-best receiver (immediately before a cavernous gaping hole to #2), Juan Nunez, has shuffled off after what seemed like an interminable career at WMU.
Robert Arnheim and Ansel Ponder will have to take much bigger roles in 2011, and since three tight ends with game experience are returning, might we see a bit more use of those guys?
|Western Michigan WRs 2010|
|Blake Hammond (TE)||9||113||12.56||3|
|Clark Mussman (TE)||7||98||14.00||0|
|Dallas Walker (TE)||9||58||6.44||2|
|WMU WRs Rushing 2010|
|James O'Neill (TE)||3||11||3.67||0|
|Dallas Walker (TE)||1||-2||-2.00||0|
Grade: 4/5. Jordan White was by far the team's most consistent deep threat last year, and the question becomes whether he can reprise that role without Nunez forcing the defense to respect the whole field. If Arnheim or Ponder can become consistent threats, it will open things up for the whole offense. On the other hand, neither has shown the explosiveness that Nunez brought, so it will be a tall task to fill his role. I do, howveer, expect improvement from the tight ends - maybe even enough to show off more two-tites packages. White is on Phil Steele's 1st-Team All-MAC squad, while Arnheim is on his 4th Team.
The Broncos lose three starters from last year's line, and we've already discussed its struggles from last year: couldn't run the ball and couldn't protect the passer. One of the returning players should be familiar to Michigan fans, as erstwhile Wolverine Dann O'Neill is a starter at right tackle. Left guard Anthony Parker was All-MAC in 2009, and is the other returner. The final three positions are serious question marks. JuCo transfer Tim Maka (a 25-year old who served on a Mormon mission) is expected to start at left tackle, while right guard should be manned by redshirt sophomore Terry Davisson, and Kevin Galeher should be the starting center.
Grade: 1/5. As mentioned above, the Bronco line was pitiful last year. Losing three starters isn't going to make it a whole lot better, especially when one of those losses is an All-MAC payer in left guard Phillip Swanson. Dann O'Neill and Anthony Parker are the only players on Phil Steele's All-MAC projections, a 2nd- and 3rd-teamer, respectively.
|Western Michigan Defense 2009|
|Yards Per Game||387.83||73|
|Points Per Game||23.83||52|
|Yards Per Play||5.72||74|
|Pass Yards Per Game||221.25||62|
|Yards Per Pass||7.52||88|
|Sacks Per Game||2.33||34|
|Rush Yards Per Game||166.58||76|
|Yards Per Rush||4.34||71|
Despite playing a pretty poor schedule last year, the Broncos defense didn't do a whole lot to instill fear in anyone. In fact, they were below average in just about everything except getting to the quarterback. With their top backfield demon (linebacker Dex Jones) gone, it remains to be seen whether the rest of the lineup can pick up the slack.
The other thing that Western was OK in was points per game, a product of a positive turnover margin - +0.25 per game, despite their awful O-line doing no favors on the other side - and some plain luck.
The Broncos return their top 7 contributors from last season, and these guys have plenty of experience. Edge-rusher Paul Hazel is the headliner of the bunch, but Deauntay Legrier's production could have been even better if he hadn't missed a couple games with injury. Drew Nowak holds down the middle, joined by Travonte Boles.
|Western Michigan Defensive Line 2010|
Grade: 4/5. By all expectations, this should be a solid unit, if they remain healthy. The only player lost is a role guy who only got in a handful of times last season. The Broncos were in the nation's top third in sacks and close to that in tackles for loss, and though all that production didn't come from the D-line, they were certainly an important part of it. Nowak is a 2nd-Team All-conference projection by Phil Steele, while Boles and Hazel are 3rd-teamers.
So, the Broncos play a 4-2-5 defense, given the extremely low numbers of players who accrued stats from the position last season. Mitch Zajac is a multi-year returning starter, and the obvious headliner of the group. That leaves Chris Prom and Desmond Bozeman to fight it out for the weakside spot. I'll give the nod to Prom, as he accomplished a whole lot more last year. However, Bozeman is getting a little bit of press this summer, and could pass Prom on the depth chart.
|WMU Linebackers 2010|
|Waymon Ross (DE)||2||0.5||0.5|
Grade: 2/5. It's tough to grade these guys on the same scale as LB units with three players. This unit had one obvious standout, who returns, and a ton of roleplayers. As long as Zajac (on Phil Steele's conference 2nd team) remains healthy, the cast of characters at the other spot can probably rotate without much dropoff. Losing Jones's ability to get into the backfield, however, is a huge question mark.
Western played tons of defensive backs, and these guys built up the lion's share of the stats in the 4-2-5 scheme. They lose the top two tacklers in hybrid Jamail Berry and strong safety Mario Armstrong, along with corner Damond Smith, who was a starter before getting kicked off the team. Louis Toler at corner and Doug Wiggins at one of the safety positions are the only sure starters, with sophomore Demetrius Pettway or Keith Dixson getting one of the other safety positions. By my estimation, Raheam Buxton and Johnnie Simon will be the other two starters, at corner and rover, respectively. There is only going to be one backup on the roster with any significant game experience, so this unit is light on depth.
|WMU Defensive Backs 2010|
|Louis Toler (CB)||59||1.5||0||5|
|Doug Wiggins (FS)||55||1||0||0|
|Raheam Buxton (CB)||25||0||0||1|
|Johnnie Simon (Rov)||25||0.5||0||0|
|Keith Dixson (SS)||22||0.5||0||1|
Grade: 2/5. There are a couple accomplished players returning, but when a secondary loses the top two players from a defense that couldn't stop anyone from passing last season, it's unlikely that they'll be particularly good. With limited depth, they're also an injury or two from being in deep trouble, unless there are some unknowns ready to step up.
Both of Western's starters return from last year, and both were quite good. John Potter resumes kicking duties, and Ben Armer is back as the punter.
|Western Michigan Kickers 2010|
|Western Michigan Punting 2010|
Grade: 4/5. Both specialists were good last year, and it's fair to expect more of the same in 2011, or even some improvement. They're both 2nd-team All-MAC projections by Phil Steele.
[Ed-M: Bumped because this totally punctuated my equilibrium. The best indicator yet of year-to-year defensive evolution. And great news: the mean has magnetism!]
Richard Goldschmidt hypothesized that the incremental changes to organismal phenotypes over the course of even thousands of generations was insufficient to explain the change from one species to another. He posited that evolutionary change is powered by great leaps forward, instances of saltatory mutation that generate a new species from the old. Goldschmidt’s ideas were ridiculed, mostly, and with good reason. The overwhelming evidence of population genetics and the theoretical triumph of the Neo-Darwinian synthesis seem to indicate that evolutionary change is effected gradually over time by the additive effects of allele substitutions in the genetic makeup of a given population; population change happens slowly, if at all.
But there are situations in which sudden changes to an organism’s ecological niche—a new predator or prey introduced, migration or population bottlenecks, climate change, a massive meteor falling from the sky and killing all the dinosaurs—opens up the opportunity for rapid (on the geological time scale) evolutionary change.
The defense was bad last year. And bad the year before. And the year before that. A number of reasons have been put forward for the awfulness. The defense was decimated. Really decimated. Seriously, it was decimated. GERG is a force of nature complete with his own effect. The coaches thought making in-game adjustments was tantamount to cheating. And so on. At the risk of overstraining the metaphor, it certainly felt as if we were watching the extinction of that species of animal previously known as the Wolverine defense. It’s at the very least an endangered species. But if the combination of the addition of Hoke and Mattison, Nebraska joining the BIG, and the tattoo-laden implosion of the 614 area code don’t count as a change in the environment that opens the possibility of rapid change, then my metaphor has no validity at all.*
Folks have tried to take a stab at what might happen this year, based on small sample sized studies of returning starters, even smaller sample sized bits of anecdotal evidence, and a healthy dose of Hoke-A-Mania! I collected data from http://www.cfbstats.com/ on total defense numbers from 2006 through 2010 and analyzed year to year changes for every team, based on total defense rankings. Even though I’ve got five years of data, I’m going to talk in terms of “Base year” and “Year 2;” since I wasn’t looking to find multi-year trends in defensive performance all I care about is the movement from one year to the next. So with five years of data I have four years (2006-2009) worth of data in my “Base year” set and four years (2007-2010) in my “Year 2” set
This diary doesn’t propose to do anything other than aggregate a little bit of data about what we can expect based on very recent history and to show how many teams over the last few years have been outliers. From there we can start to see what Michigan’s chances are of bucking the odds of Darwinian uniformitarianism.
Natura non facit saltum: The Case For Phyletic Gradualism
My first task was to look at the aggregated data on a very coarse grain. I wondered how much movement there was in rank from year to year, so I grouped teams into sets of ten based on their base year finish (top ten teams, teams 11-20, etc.) and then tracked where those clusters of teams finished on average in year 2.
So the 40 teams in the data set that finished in the top ten in the base year averaged a finish at around 20 year 2. If a team finished in the 111-120 rank range, they could expect to be at around 95 in year 2. The obvious thing that jumps out is regression at the two ends of the line. This suggests what should be obvious: it is difficult to sustain excellence or ineptitude. So, by staying terrible last year, Michigan is already an outlier. Yay? But as you move away from the ends of the line, the movement away from the base year gets less and less, so that teams that are average appear to stay average.
Then, since I care mostly about one of the teams at the gruesome end of the line, I looked more closely at teams that finished the base year in the 90-120 range, and got this for my troubles:
This looks at every spot in the ranking from 90 to 120 and plots the year 2 average for the teams that finished at each of those spots. There is a lot of noise here, because for each ranking spot there are only four data points, but the trend line is pretty much what we’d expect. The worse you are in the base year, the worse you can expect to be in year 2.
So the numbers look gloomy, suggesting that expecting much movement in one year is a recipe for disappointment. These numbers provide the baseline for the geological timescale. The pace of change appears to be slow.
Hopeful Monsters: The Case for Saltationism
Despite this evidence of evolutionary stasis there have been a number of teams who’ve managed macromutation from one year to the next, both up and down. Since 2006, 37 teams out of a possible 278 (obviously only teams ranked 51 or worse could possibly make a 50 spot leap) have managed a leap of 50 or more spots in the ranking from one year to the next, and 107 out of 378 possible have made jumps of 25 or more spots.
50 spot leap
25 spot leap
For what it's worth, these percentages are higher than I expected prior to compiling the numbers. It's not worth anything, by the way.
My original goal was to analyze the factors that these saltatory leaps might have in common, but finding reliable data on returning starters, experience, changes to coaches or defensive co-ordinators, etc. has proven difficult. I might try to look in detail at a few case studies to see if there are any similarities between Michigan 2011 and the hopeful monsters who point to the possibility of rapid change, but provide a link to my table so that anyone else who may want to can do the same.
Viva la evolucion.
*Yes, I’m aware my metaphor already has no validity at all.
Edit: I think this is what the first commenter is asking for.
The Curious Case of the Cass Tech Commits
There was a minor hullaballoo late last week over the status of M commits Royce Jenkins-Stone and Terry Richardson, after a couple tweets indicated they'd like to take other visits:
Mr2012RJS i want to take my visits to Oklahoma Miami Florida Alabama and Iowa and get a feel for every school.
Terry_Rich Me n Royce both still taking visits are recruitment process not over till feb 2 we solid but still looking nothing personal
Royce backtracked within a couple of days:
great advise my coach gave me. T wilcher.
no visits 4 me . i will wait till i get to AA to get wined n dined =DD
So it sounds like Mr. Jenkins-Stone's commitment is as solid as they come, thanks to Coach Wilcher. Terry hasn't said anything about canceling his visits, but he tweeted:
People make newspaper articles on my tweets and royce tweets they outta hand with this recruiting stuff we are still in HIGHSCHOOL People!!!
So it sounds like he's upset that his words were made out to be more than he intended. ...But, in personal e-pinion, when you're a public figure, you have to expect attention based on your words.
Michigan has offered OH WR Monty Madaris, he tells TomVH:
Coach Smith said they liked my film and they are looking forward to getting me up there for a visit soon. I'll be up for the BBQ on the 31st. Michigan is near the top of my list [now] for sure. They are one of the schools that I'm evaluating more than others. I have no idea when I want to make my decision but I would like to make it soon.
The Wolverines are certainly looking for a wideout in this class, and it sounds like they won't have to wait too long to hear Madaris's decision. He ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash at Michigan State last weekend.
Speaking of wideout needs, CA WR Jordan Payton has scheduled his official visit to Michigan for the Notre Dame Game on September 10th.
MO WR Jehu Chesson has scheduled a Michigan visit ($, info in header).
Michigan State and Michigan are on the mind of MI WR Aaron Burbridge ($, info in header).
Tom talked to the coach of OH WR Dwayne Stanford and DE Adolphus Washington, who says the highly-touted pair won't be in Ann Arbor any time soon:
I don't think they'll be taking any more visits because of AAU basketball. I know they go away next week and when they come back we'll be in two a days so it will be tough for them to make it to places. As of now they have nothing else scheduled.
Coach Martin points out that Michigan is one of the few mutual schools on their top five lists, but they're softening their stance on being a package deal.
The Crimson Quarry breaks down the recruitment of IN QB Gunner Kiel, noting that Oklahoma and Missouri's recent pickups at the position may reduce their chances of landing the nation's top signal-caller.
Of course, AJ fails to mention Michigan, reducing the competition to a head-to-head battle between Indiana and Alabama. That could either be prescient (CBS's Eye on Recruiting blog also omits Michigan) or foolhardy, but I'm guessing the Wolverines are unlikely to land Kiel at this point.
IL OL Jordan Diamond will cut his list to 10 schools soon, but it seems like he has a top 5 within that number:
Diamond said Iowa is among five schools that would definitely make the cut, the others being Michigan, Wisconsin, Auburn and Tennessee.
Ohio State sounds like his sixth school, pending a decision from the NCAA (which could be a long way off if Michigan's timeline (in a less serious case) is any indication). Diamond plans to take all five visits before deciding.
PA OL Adam Bisnowaty likes Michigan, but is not going to hurry a decision just because the Wolverines' class is starting to fill up.
CA DT Aziz Shittu will take his time coming to a(nother) decision on college ($, info in header).
Tennessee and Notre Dame lead for OH DE LaTroy Lewis ($, info in header).
MLive's Kyle Warber interviews OH S Commit Allen Gant, who - shocker - wants to beat Ohio State and play in Rose Bowls.
Is the door still open between Michigan and NY CB Wayne Morgan? It sure sounds like it:
Morgan currently holds offers from Alabama, Miami, Rutgers, Syracuse and UConn, among others. Michigan offered him and wanted him to commit in June, but the decision was made to go on visits first and find the perfect fit. Morgan said he is still in touch with Wolverines coaches, so they are not completely off the board.
His coach's version of events (Wayne thought he was moving too fast) differs from the internet consensus of events (the coach wanted Wayne to consider Rutgers, so he made him delay a decision), but either way the door is still open a crack. Regardless of which is true, I would assume that Wayne's place in the 2012 class is no longer available, barring any changes in Michigan's commit list.
The Big House BBQ recruiting event is still over a week away, but Tom is already hard at work putting together a guest list of known visitors. He'll update with the latest info when it becomes available, so keep checking back. There are a couple big uncommitted names planning to be there, including OH RB Bri'Onte Dunn and OH DE Chris Wormley.
The Detroit News's Bob Wojnowski talks about Michigan and Michigan State recruiting success in Ohio.
NY DT Jarron Jones has narrowed his list of schools to North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, and Penn State. The Penn State decommitment is not considering Michigan.
Happy Trails, TN WR Drae Bowles, who committed to Tennessee.
Happy Trails, OH RB Alden Hill, who also committed to Tennessee.
Duane Long runs down the three "must-have" players in Ohio next year. QB/WR/Ath Jalin Marshall sounds like he's all Buckeye, but CB Cameron Burrows hails from Trotwood-Madison, which has been kind to the Wolverines in recent years, and RB/S Dymonte Thomas has openly named Michigan his leader. Long on Burrows:
Burrows is the complete package. He can cover like an elite corner and he brings the hurt like a safety. He dazzled this spring at Ohio State with his feet and hips. Athletes Burrows size are not supposed to move like that.
...and on Thomas:
As great a back as Thomas is, make no mistake he is a great back, he may be a better safety. If you held a gun to my head and said choose a position I would say safety. He is a relentless kid with great speed and instincts. He is a great tackler and ferocious competitor. He has an ideal safety frame at 6-2 and about 190.
Thomas, as you may recall, is a cousin of 2012 RB Bri'Onte Dunn.
|Cleveland, OH - 6'2" 210|
|Scout||3*, #33 TE|
|Rivals||3*, 5.6, #52 OH, NR OLB|
|ESPN||3*, 77, #83 DE|
|Others||247: 3*, 83, NR|
|Other Suitors||Michigan State, Penn State, North Carolina, Cal|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post from Tim.|
|Notes||Cleveland Glenville (Pierre Woods)|
Miraculously, a D-I football prospect managed to get through his recruiting year without accumulating embeddable video—or even unembeddable video. Here's this instead:
Michigan has had no luck at all at Glenville High School, the magnet school coached by Ted Ginn Sr., since Pierre Woods finished his Michigan career rotting on the bench behind nonentities (except for that Iowa game he saved because Woodley was out). Whether that was a convenient excuse or real grudge held will never be known, but no Glenville kid has signed a Michigan LOI since Woods did.
That streak ended in February when Glenville LB/TE Frank Clark put pen to paper for Brady Hoke. Clark didn't have an Ohio State offer, but he had a significant number of other Big Ten options. Anything other than the MAC has been good enough for Glenville kids to spurn Michigan since Woods, so snagging Clark has a bit more significance than your average generic three-star might. At least it does off the field.
On the field, no one can figure out where he's going to play. As you can see above, the three main recruiting sites all list him at different positions—linebacker, TE, and DE. This Bill Kurelic post on his commitment says he'll be a "hybrid linebacker/safety"; safety is where he worked out at the Big 33 game before the coaches there asked Michigan for help finding a place for this guy…
Frank Clark SS/LB Glenville HS
… In the two live practices Clark participated in, he really got after it, wreaking havoc in every way possible. After working out at safety for awhile, the Ohio coaches made a phone call to Michigan to see where Clark fits best. Because of his size/speed combo, expect to see him roaming the field as a defensive end and line linebacker.
…which is a weird group of people to ask because they dunno…
Clark could play on either side of the football for the Wolverines, and was recruited as a linebacker, tight end or wide receiver.
"I'm not sure what position I will play, to be honest," he stated. "I will play wherever they want me to, and a couple different coaches have told me they want me in their position group. I'm just so happy to have this opportunity with Michigan, and my position doesn't matter to me."
…and you'll notice that with the addition of wide receiver we've reached five different positions Frank Clark almost but does not quite fit in.
Let's beat this into the ground. Rivals($):
Defensively he's a bit of a tweener between defensive end and linebacker, and he looks like he may be a bit bulky and stiff for wide receiver. -B.S.
He is a bit of a defensive end / outside linebacker 'tweener at this point and has a some experience at both spots … There is some possibility that Clark could be looked at as a tight end.
To be honest, I can't really project Clark anywhere.
So he's Epic Tweener. But he did have a decently impressive selection of offers before settling on Michigan. What do people see in him? Athleticism, mostly:
Clark has a great football body. He looks bigger than his listed 6-2 and he is well-built. He has a lot of versatility and though he looks like his best position may be on defense, he actually wants to play wide receiver and is getting recruited as such. Defensively, Clark showed a really good motor, strength at the point of attack, and strong hands and instincts.
“He said he watched five seconds of my highlights and was blown away,” Clark said. “He said I’m just a pure athlete and he is waiting for me to get to Michigan and see what it’s all about.”
“Frank, in a lot of ways Frank, and I don’t want to put this pressure on him, reminds me of Pierre (Woods),” Hoke said. “If you look at (Clark’s) length and the way he runs, he’s going to be a big ol’ guy for us as a football player and a destructive guy.”
Folks other than Hoke are a little less enthused. TTB bluntly states that while he is a decent athlete he's "about as raw and can be," getting his shoulders turned regularly and failing to wrap up. ESPN's often lurid scouting reports are reserved when they come to Clark:
He needs to add bulk, but looks to have good length and a nice reach and a frame to develop and add more size to. He displays good explosiveness. He looks to need to become more comfortable at using his hands, but he can be active with them when taking on blockers. He displays the ability to be able to play with good pad level and leverage. … He will attack half-a-man and while he needs to develop his pass rush arsenal he can be active with his weapons and can turn the corner well to get to the quarterback.
This reads like "we have seen him do these things occasionally, but not consistently" and stands in marked contrast to their evaluations of guys like Desmond Morgan. FWIW, they believe his length and frame will lead him to defensive end.
On the other hand, when Allen Trieu and Bill Greene caught him at the Michigan they both evaluated him as a WR/TE($), and pretty well. Trieu:
He's a big bodied kid who has a good sense of how to create separation. He's going up against speedy cover corners and he's still able to get open because he runs great routes. When the ball's in the air, it's his. He goes up and positions himself well. To me, the only drawback with him right now is that he's a tweener, but I think he'll grow into a pass catching tight end. I'd like to see how he blocks in the future.
…which implies that how he blocks now is "not entirely unlike Carson Butler."
It's inescapable: Frank Clark is a project. Whether he ends up at LB, DE, or even TE is unknown, and the possibility he plays Anton Hood's favorite position—guy who plays a lot of special teams—is strong. He needs to add weight, find a position, learn that position, and keep his athleticism if he's going to become a starter. That's a long road to productivity.
Etc.: Biggest fear is "not being able to provide for his family," which is… definitely not a white whine. Say it is "unfortunate" OSU didn't offer him. Scout commit article. MLive commit article. The Asheville Citizen-Times interviews him. Clark does win high school high jump competitions, so he's got that going for him.
Awesome sequence of articles from Rivals:
Glenville LB close to being a Spartan? (money quote: "As many Spartan fans know, head coach Mark Dantonio does not push or pressure kids to make a commitment on their official visit.")
Save that face, yo.
Why Larry Stevens? Stevens was a high school safety/linebacker/touchdown machine who ended up moving to defensive end at Michigan. While he was a mainstay for the defense during his time, he was a very boring mainstay: in 44 games he managed 12 sacks. Stevens's touted athleticism took a hit as he bulked up his 6'2" frame to 240 pounds to play on the line; he never developed the technique to excel. The end result was the most definitively average defensive end in the last decade of Michigan football.
Like Stevens, Clark is a man without a position who will be a big LB or small DE. Stevens was considerably more hyped, FWIW, and Clark will probably take a longer time to see the field.
Guru Reliability: High-ish. Everyone says the same thing and Glenville is amongst the most heavily scouted schools in the country. The positional confusion does obfuscate things somewhat, but everyone says "project," so he's a project.
General Excitement Level: Meh. Without a position, electric athleticism, or much in the way of technique, Clark is just a big, moderately fast dude to put in the S&C program.
Projection: I'm guessing Clark is initially slotted at SLB since there are two MLBs, at least two WDEs, and a WLB in his class. There he's got a long wait behind redshirt sophomore Cam Gordon and redshirt freshman Jake Ryan, which is just as well because tweener without technique etc. It's possible he ends up putting his hand down and joins burgeoning numbers at WDE; either way expect a redshirt and at least one more year of special teams duty before he might see the field.
The year is 2011. An iconic football program is awash in scandal that the university helped cover up. With the date for their hearing rapidly approaching the state university in the Ohio with the extra 'the' has but one chance to prevent the old men of N.C.A.A. from casting 'Meteo' upon Columbus: convince them Tressel's to blame!
But convincing rational people of things requires things like facts, evidence, plausibility, trust, and a reputation for honesty, all things of which this state university in this Ohio has naught. Another tact must be taken...
I could write an introduction to this, but Blazefire has already done it...
“I’ve requested you here because I understand that you are the best at infiltration and collection, correct?”, begins Gee, not lifting his eyes from the documents he is scanning to acknowledge the men. His bow tie bobs at his throat as he speaks.“It’s true. We are. We don’t need a regular compliance department. Forget forms and investigations and what-have-you. If we need information, we will get it right from the minds of those who have it”, responds Archie, with Smith silently nodding in agreement.“Tell me”, utters Gee in a lower tone, shifting his eyes slightly to peer at the two over the top of his sheet, “is the reverse also possible? Instead of taking an idea from the mind of a target, is it possible to implant an idea?”
This is by new MGoUser Hoke Saves Lives who will never have a problem posting on here again.
Will the Inception work? On a 4th grader, probably not. But on NCAA? Now that is the question.
Lots of good diaries this week. I'm breaking them up so we can comment, and you know, provide content and stuff.
So three guys from Detroit go to hell. The Devil's walking around doing his rounds to make sure everyone's getting the proper amount of torture and finds the Detroit guys sitting out in the open, drinking beers, grilling, and generally smiling at the hell fires.
The Devil is like "what are you guys doing?" and the three Detroit guys calmly explain that they're from Michigan, the land of snow and ice; when you get a warm day you gotta enjoy it.
So the Devil decides to turn the heat way, way up in that sector – enough to melt the rock – and moves on. Later he figures the Detroiters are good and cooked, and goes back to check on them, only to see them out in the middle of the lake of fire, having found a bunch of motor boats and tied them together, drinking and sunning themselves and fishing. The Devil's like WTF and the Detroiters explain again about the snow and ice and enjoying a nice day.
So the Devil's like I gotta screw these guys: He turns the temp way down, to absolute zero. And after enough time he comes back to check on the Detroit guys and there they are throwing a huge party, screamin', hollerin' whoopin', and just celebrating like crazy. The Devil's is apoplectic: "What the HERE guys?"
And they all look at him blankly like this should be obvious and are like "Dude: Hell froze over."
"The Lions must've won the Superbowl!"
Bask, man. Bask
I usually skip those ubiquitous Power Rankings articles that force e.g. Yahoo columnists to come up with (un-)clever one-liners about each team so they're not just posting a table, because without 19 words on Brian Wilson's beard etc. the thing just looks like an arbitrary table. The exception is when my teams are doing well, for the same reason Scrooge McDuck takes daily dives into his silo of gold and people in Michigan will never pass up a chance to put their face in the sun.
When your team is sweeping its region in recruits and steals a 5 star at its greatest position of need from an evil arch nemesis, no matter where everyone thinks you are, you bask. Never mind that part about the offense regressing from arguably sweet because of a scheme change, and a defense that needs to come up 10 levels just to get out of hell. Just follow where Brady Hoke points and get to the good stuff.
The recruiting binge that followed Hokeamania reached a new crescendo this week with our first committed 5-star (except not yet on Rivals), launching a new Diary genre: Let's Rank Our Class. Tim does it regularly for our conference (and teams that play half a Big Ten schedule but claim independence). TomVH took a shot at it last week, figuring how we'd finish. And now the diarists are having at it.
Looking at this list, I created a simple way to estimate where each teams class could end up if they recruited about 2/3 as well as they have so far and every team ended up with about 25 recruits. We all know this will not be the case and especially for a team like USC but their recruiting class to date deserves to be on this list.
That's from Hill.FootballRecruits, who has Michigan finishing 5th behind Texas, Auburn, FSU and Florida. If you take his Top 12 (based on Rivals) and project onto a graph that is really hard to make on Excel you get:
(click gets you larger)
So that's pretty good, especially when you figure Kalis will be a 5-star in short order. While we're at it, Big Ten:
How much better is Michigan's recruiting than our rivals' this year? Soooo much! And consider a few weeks ago that block of reddish-orange used to be affixed to the end of Ohio State's not nearly as impressive 2x4; tatgate's the table saw, Hoke's the wood glue.
Just for the sake of torture, here's Michigan's 2012 class (in mid-July (!)) versus the hellfires of yesteryear:
Er, if that's hellfires either I've been caught dead at the Jobbie Nooner, or the Lions just won the Superbowl. Only it's mid-July 2011 right now, not mid-February 2012, and Michigan is more likely to add more orange and red to the left side of the axis before all's said. The other thing you can see is that the 3-stars are very yellow-green, contrasting sharply with the greenie-green and even bluish shades which broke that up in the late-Carr classes. This is what we mean when we say the 3-stars aren't like the 3-stars of yesteryear. If indeed Rivals has been recently underrating high 3-stars in the Midwest due to the lack of a scout, perhaps this class is a shade more yellow than we're giving it credit for.
Play us out, Six Zero's Overly Entitled Wolverine Mascot…