Facepalm of the last half-hour. Trey Keenan is a Texas offensive lineman with three stars, a Michigan offer, and a slightly shaky grasp of the recent past($):
Keenan admits he likes the direction that the new staff is taking the program. “I like that they’re going back to being the old Michigan and not the team that got beat by Appalachian State,” he said.
It's a good thing I set up a facepalm hotkey. Ctrl+Alt+FFFFUUU:
Dude is hardcore. Hey, look, it's the Little Brown Jug:
Just hanging out… uh… in some guy's basement on what appears to be a pool table. This would be the point at which we round up a posse and hunt down the varmit who stole our danged jug, but that would be pointless violence since some dude made a Brown Jug replica (and apparently that box) because he is hardcore. Auburn fans should try this: get some hardcore guy to make a replica of Toomer's Corner. Problem solved.
Come on, baby. Red apparently doesn't think anyone's jetting in the offseason:
Michigan coach Red Berenson said Monday he finished his postseason individual meetings with players and doesn't expect anyone to leave early for the pro ranks. The Wolverines, who advanced to the national title game, return two outstanding defensemen in junior Brandon Burlon and freshman Jon Merrill.
No quotes and frankly the Detroit News isn't an outlet that spends a lot of time on hockey, but… woo? It wouldn't be too outlandish: Merrill and Burlon are the only serious departure threats and both are Devils draftees. The Devils have a track record of leaving kids in college and have a number of D prospects a bit further along the development path than their guys at Michigan.
While it's kind of a negative that I can't think of a Michigan forward who would even think of an NHL departure at least we won't get blindsided, except of course we will.
Attention Shawn Kemp. You take any random son of an NBA star, have him commit to Michigan, and bam he's awesome:
I did not recognize Glenn “Trey” Robinson when compared to the skinny kid I watched last summer. Robinson was maybe 175 pounds soaking wet then.
Now he has a body that makes you envision a flying combo forward finishing strong on the offensive end with lock down ability defensively. Robinson did just that Friday night against Upstate. He finished at the rim, often violently, through contact.
That's the third or fourth early rave GRIII has picked up in the month or so AAU ball has been going on. In addition NBE lists Robinson at 6'8"(!), 205. Other first-hand reports like those of UMHoops think that's generous, but he's clearly bigger than he was when he committed.
Stats are bad (this time). I hate to disagree with a guy who goes back and checks out actual game film instead of talking about football players playing football, but KC Joyner has an ESPN Insider article that claims Michigan is going to have an "elite passing game"($) this year because of some shiny Denard stats that I think are silly.
Joyner splits Denard's attempts* into buckets by yardage: 11.9 YPA on throws of 11-19 yards, 16.4 YPA on throws from 20-29 yards, and 15.4 YPA on throws of more than 30 yards. These compare favorably to some guy you may have heard of:
A review of 11 of Ryan Mallett's games against SEC and bowl-level competition over the past two seasons found that the possible future first-round draft pick (and one of college football's top passers) posted an 8.2 total YPA, an 11.6 vertical YPA and a 14.6 stretch vertical YPA.
Robinson's 10 games include his three worst contests from last season with regard to passer rating (Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame) and exclude his two of his three best passer rating contests (Massachusetts and Bowling Green), yet he was still able to top Mallett in all three categories.
There are a number of problems with this analysis. One: it does not account for the frequency of throws. Mallett's Hogs passed 53% percent of the time; Michigan threw on 40% of snaps. Two: Denard's throws are heavily slanted towards short stuff. The "stretch vertical" number cited by Joyner consists of just 31 attempts, which is both a sample size problem and another equilibrium issue. Three:
A large number of Denard's long touchdowns were stupidly easy because of the system that ran so much and so effectively, often with Robinson himself. You can't point to 11 completions featuring safeties going "WHAT DO I DO /explodes" and extrapolate anything approximating Mallett's production. The opportunities above simply will not exist in an under-center WCO, leaving Denard to try to do this:
I love Denard like he is a combination of my own son and Olivia Wilde but I don't think he's making throws like that. Maybe "simply will not exist" is a bit much, but the amount of pressure Denard put on opposing safeties last year—and the interceptions he threw even when given reasonable windows—prevents you from divorcing his production from his system.
I'm not saying he won't be a better QB than he was last year. I'm saying the smart bet is on a significant reduction in passer efficiency if he's operating a WCO.
*[Attempts against Michigan's Big Ten schedule, ND, and UConn. Unclear why the bowl was left out. Probably because KC Joyner doesn't like watching snuff films.]
Get this man a cereal commercial. Don't tell that to Denard, though, who says "I really like this offesne and what we're doing" in a brief TSN interview. Also:
Q: Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison says he talks a lot of trash to you. What’s going on there?
Robinson: We have that love/hate relationship. I love competing against him. Every day at practice, he says something to make you want to compete.
Q: What does he say?
Robinson: He says, ‘You can’t throw. Can’t throw.’ I know he’s teasing. I make a throw, and I’ll say something to him. Or I’ll just look over and smile at him.
Thank God for Denard—whenever you're feeling ambivalent about your connection to the program because of the Braylon Edwardses of the world just think about Denard.
Um… thanks? Believe it or not, this is Jack Nicklaus trying to say something nice about Ohio State:
"I don't know what really happened, but I'll promise you that Tressel wasn't the only one that knew what happened," Nicklaus told The Plain Dealer.
If he's right pieces of the Ohio State athletic department will be slowly descending from the troposphere for decades. (Not that he's anything other than a very famous message board poster in this department.)
Etc.: Ace relates the story of his first game at Michigan Stadium. I'd play but I can't remember which game it was because I was small. The Hero Of Tiananmen Square (AKA John Pollack, king of futile Big House preservation attempts) puts out an awful book on puns featuring many awful puns. As per usual, he misses the point entirely. You should have gone to Vermont, but at least you didn't go to Iowa State. TTB outlines the 4-3 under in parts: line, linebackers, and secondary. Forward Thinking surveys the QB landscape in the aftermath of Zeke Pike's Auburn commitment. If you didn't get enough carpet-bombing of former players who have fallen back in love with Michigan football, Mets Maize is over Avignon right now.
Fantastically bizarre and apropos Google image search for "Cullen Christian."
So… yeah. I learned my lesson from the Great McGuffie Saga and won't say this is 100% happening because people change their minds, but a couple solid sources indicate Cullen Christian is asking for his release today and plans to transfer.
That would obviously be bad. We've got massive collages that no longer have room for all the guys Michigan has lost prematurely in the secondary over the last few years that are already out of date since Ray Vinopal decided to peace out earlier in spring. Christian, a consensus top 100 guy, was the highest-rated corner on the roster after Justin Turner's departure*. Despite that he struggled immensely when forced onto the field last year, was obviously behind both of his classmates, and was supposedly running third team in spring despite the absences of Troy Woolfolk and JT Floyd. So the impact on this year's team wouldn't be great.
However, even if he seemed well on his way to Bolivian he could have moved to safety or something. At this point walk-ons leaving the secondary make me cringe—losing the sole touted corner on the team is not so good.
Again, disclaimers about people changing their minds or whatnot but this is so totally happening (probably). Ten million dollars the eventual destination is Pitt, right?
DEFINITELY NOT BONUS: I don't have a second source on this one so file this under strong rumor, but DJ Williamson is also supposed to be on the way out. Williamson was a track star who also played football and I'm not sure anyone had super-high hopes for him (he was a two star on one site) but there was always the off chance he'd be Mario Manningham or something. His departure would highlight how weird dumping Devin Lucien was.
*[Boy, does our imaginary secondary kick ass!]
UPDATE: Christian's transfer is official($).
The state of California is loaded with offensive linemen in the 2012 class and tackle Max Tuerk is among the best. The 6-foot-6, 281-pound lineman already has offers from Michigan, Arizona, Oregon, UCLA, and Washington to name a few. Here's a look at Tuerk's film and where he's at in the process.
TOM: I know you have an offer from Michigan, but do you think any other schools are close to offering?
MAX: I hope so. I'm not sure if they're actually going to offer me or not, but I have been talking to Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Stanford came by my school last week.
TOM: You already have a good list now, have you thought about narrowing everything down any time soon?
MAX: I haven't thought about it yet because a lot of new offers are still coming in. When it starts to die down I will start to narrow it down.
TOM: Sounds like a good plan. Since you're from California do you know much about Michigan?
MAX: Of course. I know Michigan has a great football tradition and they produce a lot of great linemen. I really like Coach Funk and Ferrigno, and we're developing a solid relationship.
TOM: To stay on that note, since you're from California do you think distance will factor into all this?
MAX: I don't think at all. I'm actually leaning towards getting out of California.
TOM: You said you're building a relationship with the coaches. What do you guys talk about and what have they told you about Michigan?
MAX: We talk every once in awhile and they've told me that Michigan not only has a great football team but it's a great school as well. Hopefully I can check it out soon.
TOM: Did these coaches recruit you while they were at San Diego State at all?
MAX: No, but SDSU is recruiting me now.
TOM: Is Michigan a school that you're going to try to visit?
MAX: Yes, this summer I am definitely going to try to get out there.
TOM: When you take visits to these schools and try to analyze them what are you going to be looking for?
MAX: A good fit with academics, the football program, and my overall comfort level with the people I am going to spend my college career with.
TOM: For anyone that hasn't gotten to see you play, how would you describe yourself?
MAX: I play as hard as I can every play. My best attributes would probably be my speed and aggressiveness.
TOM: Do you have any idea of how you want your recruitment to play out?
MAX: It's still up in the air for me but I think I am going to narrow it down to three to five choices in the summer, so it's not so overwhelming during the season. I plan to take official visits to those top schools.
A guest post from Craig Ross, who took in the coaches' clinic this year, as he does most years. If you're not sure what "technique" means or the basics of cover X defenses the UFR FAQ should be of some assistance.
Greg is not impressed, GERG
On a personal level Mattison is charismatic and impressive. I can’t imagine that he won’t be a absolutely great recruiter. His enthusiasm is manifest. He isn’t a defensive personality (I don’t mean football defense) in the slightest. Media guys kept asking him about his salary (incredibly rude, I thought) and he just said he didn’t want to talk about. Not mean. Not tired. Not nasty. Just matter of fact. But after the second “no,” these reporters got it.
Unlike GERG he has patience with questions, especially football questions. GERG wanted little to do with the press and had no patience with anything resembling a football question. [I asked whether he would be playing “one or two gap” a couple of years ago. He looked at me like I was crazy (maybe I am/was, probably the question was idiotic) but he responded (and repeated himself) with “Let’s just say by the end of the season you’ll be happy with our defense.” Uh, well, not exactly.
I don’t want to beat on GR. The media can be pretty awful and he had a right to some disinclination to talk about anything other than superficial sound bites. But even in coaching clinics he seemed loathe to talk about defensive structure, which he perceived as overrated (maybe he is right). His obsession was technique, notably tackling technique—stunning given what our defense did the last two years. But Mattison is a whole different deal. He gives smart questions their due. He gives sloppy questions more thought than they probably deserve. And, yeah, he isn’t above the ordinary sound bite to the ordinary sorta-non-question.
The Ravens were a 3-4 team until Mattison took over the defense. In 2009 he changed the Raven to a 4-3 look and there is every reason to believe he will attempt to mimic the success he had in Baltimore. Mattison’s overall philosophies are
- stop the run,
- take away the offense’s best receiver (I assume this means the D may tend to roll a bit to the best WR’s side of the field), and
- keep the defensive formations stable but mix pressures and coverages.
Mattison will run a 4-3 with some nickel as a primary defense*. He was adamant about four things.
- Martin (or any NT) will never play right over the center, zero tech, that he will be shaded into the A gap, even if slightly**.
- He always wants four guys down. Always. He said “If I have to limp in there we are playing 4 guys on the line.” (A couple of times in the spring game it looked like we had three guys down. Reviewed this. On play one he had Big WC at NT and Mike Martin standing up on the edge. Denard breaks the play for 55 yards. Of course, we did have 4 DL in the game so he didn’t violate his abstract principle. Also, as noted, against spread looks he went with three DL. [Ed: my impression was that these sorts of games were reserved for passing downs, when run soundness goes out the window and you're just trying to hassle the QB.])
- GM prefers (strongly) that the defense generally have the same look. He stated that his defense will not “stem” into different looks. That said, he wants the defense to have variations out of the singular defensive formation.
- As every coach on the planet says and means, he wants the D to pressure the QB.
Mattison stresses that he has been left with attentive kids. He talks about their seriousness, that they have behaved and been supportive of each other. Unlike Borges, who spent a lot of time looking at last year’s offense, Mattison claims he did not watch “one minute” of last year’s tape. (I wish I hadn’t.) There are two reasons for this. First, he didn’t want to bias his impressions of the players. He preferred that he and his staff make their own valuations, as opposed to those that accrued in a different system. Second, he was going to run a different system anyway. Looking to last year’s model wasn’t going to provide any information likely to have value.
This is a treacherous judgment—my understanding of the lingo may hamstring my perceptions—but it looks to me like Mattison will to use a 4-3 under as his base defense. The NT will be shaded into the A gap toward the TE, the defensive end in 5 technique but slightly shaded to the outside, and the SAM lining up near the LOS outside of the tight end, assuming there is a TE on the field. On the weak side the tackle will be in 3-tech and the rush end will shaded slightly outside of the offensive tackle***. Basically this:
I think Michigan will look like this a lot but the black “elephant”—the rush end for UM [ed: around here we called it Deathbacker when Greg Robinson was trying to use that guy as in coverage more]—might be a bit closer to the tackle. Mattison’s drawing also had the Mike (Middle LB) and Will (Weakside LB) slightly more shaded to the TE. In the diagram above the Mike has the strongside B gap and Will the weakside A gap. The Will just has to make sure his gap isn’t threatened and then can flow to the ball.
Coverage: The field (wide side) corner and safety will often play “quarters,” while the other safety will be responsible for half the field. [ed: This is also known as quarter-quarter-halves. It's a cover three that splits the field unevenly. Hit up this Smart Football post for more detail—look for the first diagram with color in it.] If there is a receiver to the boundary (short side) that corner will squat, but if there is no WR he may have a “fire” read, rushing the passer or having weakside run support.
A couple variants: A primary variation of this will be the DL all slanting to the weak side of the formation, the Mike and Will dropping into hook and curl coverage, with the corners and weakside safety splitting the field into thirds and the strong side safety having responsibility in the flat. Note that this comes out of the same 4-3 under look. I assume, on this choice, the Sam (Strongside LB) has edge integrity and the Mike and strong safety have primary run support to the play side.
Mattison didn’t mention the 4-3 over but they definitely played a bit of that in the SG. In that the NT shifts to a shade into the weakside A gap and the linebackers are more balanced. I have to look back at the tape some---pretty sure they played a bit of it, at least late in the SG.
It also looks like they will play some “Bear” defense, bringing the Will down into the gap between the End and the SAM. In such instances he said they will always be in man defense, they won’t try to zone. Mattison also stressed that “setting an edge” to the defense is always important and on their base defense that’s up to the Sam on the field side. He said this was “a huge deal.”
In terms of personnel note that Troy Woolfolk and JT Floyd were out in the spring, as was Kenny Demens. In a surprise Marrell Evans started with the ones (I didn’t know he was on the team until 10 days ago) in the Spring Game. Herron was there, too. Herron was shucked by Cox on his long run. I thought Evans played pretty well.
Tony Anderson and Avery both played pretty well at corner (or was this just the weakness in our passing game?) so with Floyd and Woolfolk healthy in the fall, there should be a lot of competition there.
In a huge surprise to me, I saw some really good play from Greg Brown—at corner—in the last Saturday scrimmage [ed: ie, the Saturday before the spring game]. This was mentioned by the coaches, so it is not a secret or my insanity. Brown did give up the TD near the end of the spring game but he was in great position and just misplayed the ball. Right now Carvin and Kovacs are running with the ones at safety, but Marvin Robinson is going to be a monster if he can learn the D. Parents of a player mentioned this to me, that Marvin had the chance to be awesome, once he steps up his understanding of the playbook. Josh Furman made a couple of plays but I didn’t focus on him so I can’t evaluate his play yet. Marvin made numerous big plays in the last weekend scrimmage.
The DL looks set with Van Bergen at DE, Roh at rush end, Big Will at the three tech and Martin at NT. However, Martin was moved around a bit in the SG so I have to look at the tape of that. Depth is thin, but I saw some good play from Black (inconsistent, but flashes), Wilkins (big plays in the SG) and the other Will (Heininger) who has been moved inside to NT.
The LBs were Jones (Will) and Cam Gordon (Sam) and I thought they did OK. Jake Ryan just stood out on the last scrimmage (with the 2s)—he made play after play—and he did the same thing in the SG. He was a way under the radar recruit but he really looks like he will be a player.
This was the worst defense in the history of the galaxy (maybe not universe, there may be a planet where some team was worse) last year so I am surprised by what I saw this spring. It was a more ordinary spring--- the UM defense making the offense struggle to get any run game going (except for Denard), though maybe two big plays were broken by the RBs. I predicted before the SG (based on the prior week’s scrimmage) that this would be an average or above average defense. I still think that. Something in the back of my head thinks it might even be an “almost good” defense but I suspect this is delusional. Now the coaches seem nervous. Mattison was unhappy after the SG but they sure seem ahead of anything I have seen for a few years.
*[Editor's note: given how much we saw Thomas Gordon in the spring game I'm guessing the nickel will be the base defense against spread looks.]
**[During the spring game it seemed like were pretty close to a zero technique at times, something he seemed to disavow. From the endzone, where I sat, there always seemed some shade. But on the Tivo of the game (from the side) of course, it seemed like we had a NT in zero tech every now and then. I reviewed it. Seems like this was when the offense was in a spread, when GM went completely odd with a 3 man front—as George Halas suggested against the single wing.]
***[Mattison is concerned that too many rush ends tend to get too wide as they attempt to speed rush the tackle. He thinks this is too easy a mark for an offensive tackle unless the end is a blur. He wants him closer to the tackle. He especially wants Craig Roh to not get too wide, allowing him to probe in either direction.]
So Brady Hoke vowed to Adam Rittenberg he'd never worn red as as a head coach despite the fact both of his jobs were at schools that kinda sorta prioritized said color. This is hard to believe, so I paged through Google Images until porn started coming up on a search for "Brady Hoke ball state"—the definitive signal your search has ended—and A-HA:
Yeah… that's the best I could do. Red tie at an introductory press conference. There is also this:
In all other pictures Rittenberg's Johnny Cash reference is dead on. Getty has nothing. Hoke really did go through his Ball State career never putting on the school's primary color as anything more than an embarrassing accent. I should probably find that juvenile or something but it pokes my fan button. This is a man who gets it. What is it? If you don't know, you don't get it. Sucks to be you, buddy.*
*[Strong possibility "it" is "black is slimming." Also, the last four sentences are the plot of Atlas Shrugged.]
The 2012 offer board lives here.
Kaleb Ringer and Royce Jenkins-Stone Go Blue
Michigan commitments come in pairs this year, as two offensive linemen committed within a day of each other several weeks ago, and Michigan picked up a Friday-Saturday linebacker combo this week.
OH LB Kaleb Ringer was the first, dropping on Friday. Commitment video from the local ABC affiliate. Dayton Daily News reporter who ran with the commitment early runs a non-apology apology on the DDN website. I'll take the word of the kid who's upset about it over the reporter trying to cover his own ass.
Up next was MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone, who dropped for the Wolverines on Saturday following his visit to the Michigan spring game. The consensus is that he's a great athlete, but fundamentally raw - like many prospects coming out of Detroit's public schools.
So Long, Zeke Pike?
KY QB Zeke Pike is set to announce his college decision at 2:45 today, and although he was very high on Michigan a couple weeks ago, the consensus across the internet seems to be that he'll pick Auburn.
Michigan has plenty of irons in the QB fire - including a potential offeree in OH QB Austin Appleby in the past few days - so missing out on Pike will be a shame, but not a crushing loss (and if they don't land an elite QB in 2012, there's always in-state phenom Shane Morris for next year).
NY DT Jarron Jones is a soft commit to Penn State.
MD CB Ronald Darby, one of the top athletes in this class, has committed to Notre Dame.
A Little Closer...
MI TE/Ath Ron Thompson (looking disturbingly similar to a svelte Will Campbell at right) has transferred from East Detroit High School to to Southfield High School for his senior season. Most think that Thompson will become a Michigan commit in the near future, which could help the Wolverines land his new teammate, MI CB LEVITICUS PAYNE.
A late March junior day visit to Michigan almost ended Thompson’s recruitment. He grew up following the Wolverines and has visited their campus several times in recent months. He toyed with the idea of committing to Michigan over the last couple weeks, but has decided to hold off and continue weighing his options.
Ron still sounds pretty high on Michigan, but his timeline for a decision has been extended.
CO TE Evan Baylis will be making a decision soon. Although he visited Michigan, Tom thinks he probably won't select the Wolverines. So long as Brady Hoke and co. don't fall out of favor with Thompson, this wouldn't be a huge loss.
OH LB Joe Bolden visited last week, and let Tom know how it went. The upshot:
My uncle [also his high school coach] wasn't at school today, but we'll probably sit down in the next couple days. I really don't have a timeline, it could happen tomorrow or it could happen in February. I'm not sure yet.
Michigan is in strong position but with two new linebacker commits, who knows what will happen.
FL S Deon Bush will narrow his list soon.
Michigan is still in the top 5 for FL QB Bennie Coney. Florida State, Notre Dame, and Cincinnati "are not concerned about" his past transgressions, possibly the least-flattering way to phrase that point (to all parties) and are his top three.
PA RB Greg Garmon is tougher than you. He beat cancer:
"You know, with surgeries and chemo(therapy) and radiation treatments, it was hard," Garmon said. "The doctors told me we had to play it by ear. It was crazy. Me being the football maniac that I am, even with stuff still in my chest I'd sneak off and play football. My mom didn't know until I got caught."
It's a pretty cool story, so I encourage you to click through.
IL OL Jordan Diamond had a solid visit to Ann Arbor ($, info in header). Scout's header implies that Michigan is atop his list. He told Tom that he plans to take all 5 official visits during the season before coming to a final decision. His teammate, QB Robert Gregory, might not be as much a Michigan target with the switch to a new offense, but he can throw it, too. He could be a late offer if other QBs fall by the wayside.
OH OL Kyle Dodson was the subject of Sam Webb's Detroit News recruiting column last week. The four-star tackle talked to Webb about his game:
"I'm real, real aggressive and competitive. You will see me out there going crazy. I think (opponents) should be scared because I'm very aggressive. I'm angry. If you just look at me wrong on the field, I'm going to scream at you and you're going to get scared."
From a football perspective, Scout's Allen Trieu talks specifics:
"Dodson stands out because of his ability to move, pull and get into the second level at his size," said Allen Trieu, Scout.com's Midwest regional manager. "He's very naturally strong and I like how he finishes his blocks. He's very raw, but he does play at a school that spreads it out, so he has experience in pass protection as well as the running game. His upside is tremendous."
Dodson says distance from home won't be a factor in his decision, and he'll visit both Michigan and Michigan State once more in the coming months. He plans to decide on a school before his senior season of high school.
PA OL Chris Muller holds a Michigan offer, and has interest from a number of other schools, including LSU and Ohio State.
CA OL Max Tuerk will visit Michigan this summer. He has no timeframe to narrow his college choices, but is leaning toward attending school outside of California.
OH DE Chris Wormley is Bucknuts' #1 prospect in the state.
PA DE Noah Spence skipped Penn State's spring game because it rained on Saturday:
Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt's Noah Spence, one of the top-rated defensive ends in the country, was scheduled to make the trip with teammate Brock Dean but decided to stay at home because of the rain, BlueWhite Illustrated reported on its website. Spence has already made several unofficial visits to Penn State and is believed to have the Nittany Lions near if not at the top of his list of prospective colleges. He is the only pure defensive end the Lions are recruiting in this class.
He still hasn't had a chance to visit Ann Arbor.
The first edition of 2012 Big Ten Recruiting Class Rankings are here.
That's right, bombing Braylon Edwards is followed up by hockey recruiting. Projected comments: four. Whateva, I do what I want.
Yeah, Don Cherry hands him stuff, he's good.
I shouldn't do this to myself, but as the title indicates… I'm a sucker. News that the Indiana Ice thought uber-touted Max Domi was likely enough to play NCAA hockey to spend a second-round pick on him in the USHL Futures Draft sent me on yet another Quest For Information on the Hockey's Future message boards. I didn't get much on Domi other than all the OHL partisans claiming him a 100% lock for junior. Google turned up his twitter, though, and, um… I'm all like… maybe this is happening?
Mdomi1616 Max Domi
Men's Ice Hockey Division 1- NCAA Final Four! Notre Dame vs. Minnesota Duluth North Dakota vs. Michigan HERE WE GO MICHIGAN! …
Michigan loses in overtime to UMD in overtime...tough one
Two: a few days ago he tweeted he was in Indiana for the weekend—presumably to visit the Ice—and today he threw up a tweet that said only "Indiana Ice 2011/2012." If this is all a smokescreen to get him to London it's finely wrought.
The OHL draft is on May 7th, so we won't have to wait long. I'm cannot shake my skepticism he's headed to college but now it seems like there's a legit chance.
The even more distant future
Meanwhile, I wandered over to the NTDP tryout thread and found a couple of guys who had seen 2013 commits Tyler Motte and Evan Allen play. A guy who watched the 3-2 Honeybaked win over Shattuck in which Motte and Allen put three up to steal a national title on that decisive third period:
3-2 Honeybaked final!
Great period. Big saves made at both ends, and great pace. Allen tied it up at 1 on a great one timer from the point on the PP. McTavish set up Rodriguez on a 2-on-1 to put SSM ahead 2-1. Motte scored on a nice tip in to square things up at 2. With a minute and change left Motte punced on a loose puck in front to put Honeybaked up 3-2.
Can't say enough about Motte. He's one big time player. Was incredible in the Silverstick final versus the Marlies, and now puts his team on his back and leads them to a national title. Made a huge shot block with about 5 seconds to go while SSM had a 6-on-4.
Congrats to both teams on wonderful seasons. Glad I had the chance to see Honeybaked live on their one trip up to up to the Greater Toronto Area this year. This is one big time team.
One of the regulars says Allen doesn't get enough buzz: "absolutely love his game and hope he accepts a USNDP offer." With classmate JT Compher one of the select few to get NTDP offers before their tryout camp and Alex Talcott another second-round USHL futures draftee, that 2013 recruiting class looks like it will be big-time if it hangs together.
The slightly more immediate future
In news that will be relevant to you in this calendar year, USHR freed up their December stuff. It contains news of Michigan's commitments from John Gibson and Brennan Serville. The Gibson stuff is the usual by now: large, good, calm. Serville:
-- 6’3”, 185 lb. Stouffville Spirit (OPJHL) RD Brennan Serville, a great skating defenseman with size who is good on the breakout, has good hands and sees the ice well. Serville had originally committed to Canisius last winter, but then decommitted this September. …
Serville was on the silver-medal winning Team Canada East at last month’s World Jr. A Challenge in Penticton. Last week, he played for Team East at the 2010 CJHL Prospects Game – games, really (there are two) -- in Dauphin, Manitoba, a CJHL/NHL Central Scouting showcase for the top 40 draft-eligible players across Canada’s ten Jr. A leagues. …
Serville made his final pick from between Michigan, Michigan State, and UNH.
So he's a nice pickup in December. Unfortunately, the 2012 class doesn't have a guaranteed star on the other end of the ice where Michigan could really use one. All three incoming guys could be scoring line types, though:
- Alex Guptill was a third round pick last year but only put up 13-12-25 in 43 USHL games—he's big, which means his draft status is less exciting than it would be if he was 5'8".
- Phil DiGiuseppe put up a lot of points in the OJHL, but a lot of people put up a lot of points in the OJHL. He did finish the year as the top-scoring '93 in the league; the guy closest to him was nine points back (and is 5'7").
- Travis Lynch was a no-scoring checker destined for the fourth line and PK when he committed, but after scoring eight points in his first 30 games this year he put up 36 in his last 30. That's a hell of a breakout. (Caveat: that may be shooting percentage driven. He went from 7.6% last year to 14.7% this year. Shooting percentage is notoriously variable; one as high as Lynch's can be an indicator of regression.)
If this was an editorial cartoon, Steve Martin would have "Michigan" written all over him and the phonebooks would say "alumni." Also it would be terrible.
You know, my immediate reaction to this AnnArbor.com headline…
Former receiver Braylon Edwards impressed by one Michigan coach, down on another following busy Friday
…was "great, more people talking crap about Rodriguez." Turns out Edwards was just talking crap about Mike Hart. Well played, Bigelow. It's good to know that we've stopped taking hardly veiled shots at Rodriguez and are ready to move on—
“Just more about the tradition,” Edwards said of Hoke’s message. “And he appreciates the alums, and he definitely wants to get us involved and do everything we can to educate the players who play there now.
“Because it’s sad to say, a lot of them don’t know the tradition at Michigan. Back in the day, players knew the former players. They knew the countdowns, the titles, Hail to the Victors. I’m sure if you ask some of the kids on the team now, I guarantee there’s a couple of kids that don’t know all of the words in full.”
Son of a bitch. People are talking crap about Rodriguez not respecting Michigan's tradition at the alumni flag football game he started. In related news, this year's Tunnel Of Victors will feature a special version of the MGoBlue banner that says "F.U. RICHROD."
Meanwhile… Braylon Edwards. He should probably stop talking and doing things. When you punch some dude or say your DUI for blowing twice the legal limit was because of tinted windows or that Cleveland "has nothing" while you have a "New York-type essence" or that your teammates quit and the starting quarterback should be different and your OC is bad or that people on the football team don't know the fight song, that doesn't reflect well on yourself or "Lloyd Carr's" University of Michigan. It's one thing to take swipes at current players who might not be great at football collectively. It's another when they're awesome dudes and you're someone people euphemistically dub "controversial" or "outspoken." Because bitching about Charlie Frye makes you Malcolm X.
Mike Hart also said some things about how Rodriguez didn't value the tradition but prefaced that with a statement about how he always felt welcome back; Breaston dismissed the "he wasn't accepted" bit and focuses on winning games; meanwhile, Ron Bellamy:
“We are ecstatic,” Bellamy said. “We know it’s a process. You can’t build up the program in a year or two. You have to give him a chance to bring his guys in the right way and play football in this conference the way it is supposed to be played.”
Edwards before last year:
"He has to make it work," Edwards said. "If he can't -- me being one of the alumni guys -- I want someone that can make it work. We've been patient. If it doesn't go right this year, we'll have to find a guy that can make it work with that winged helmet."
Since Michigan's tradition quickly became "screw you, Rich Rodriguez," I can't imagine why there was a disconnect there.
Who cares? We just watched a bunch of guys who essentially never beat OSU and/or quit en masse once they didn't like the head coach blame Rodriguez for the program's decline. Yeah, it declined. Yeah, Rodriguez had a lot to do with it. So did they. Jim Brandstatter of all people:
"He had a lot of strikes against him when he walked in the door and that was sad," Brandstatter said.
Whatever Rodriguez's failings were they were amplified by a culture that immediately rejected him. There was a rebellion the seniors on this year's team are pointing to as a Bad Idea. Someone sold him out to the Free Press. He was treated like garbage at alumni outings.
Meanwhile, the complainers were the reason Michigan had to go outside the family. The Great Tradition of Michigan had recently devolved into a 1-6 record against OSU and The Horror. The Great Tradition had produced zero plausible head coaching candidates to continue it. The Tradition is blaming it all on a scapegoat instead of manning up and looking in the mirror. They are collectively Edwards blaming his 0.16 BAC on tinted windows.
That's not a good way to run anything. Without a serious analysis of what you did wrong other than "hire that outsider," with how your culture is messed up, you become Notre Dame. Some guys were willing to be active with the program over the last few years and plenty more didn't sell it out publicly; the decision not to speaks to the player, not Rodriguez.
Carr's former players aren't the program. A subset of them think it's about them, but it's about Denard and Molk and Martin and Kovacs, the ones who stayed and worked hard and were emphatically not champions thanks in some small part to people like Edwards. Van Bergen:
"You know, it's just kind of unsettling that there's … it's great that they're back, but it's kind of, where have they been the last two or three years?" Van Bergen said. "We've still been wearing the same helmets since they were here."
Despite what they think, the alumni are just fans now. It's hard to imagine a big chunk weren't the loathsome sort glorying in a season-ending blowout.
So you'll have to excuse the rest of us who stood in those stands during the Fandom Endurance III game and are terribly sad about how the last three years worked out: we've got a phonebook to care about instead of Braylon Edwards's glorious return to the program.
[ROTE DISCLAIMER THAT WILL BE IGNORED: This is not a defense of Rich Rodriguez. Rodriguez should have been fired. It is not a criticism of Brady Hoke. I wrote a big long post about how Hoke's three non-MAC coordinator hires constitute a real reason for optimism. Early indications are this staff is taking advantage of the opportunities placed before them in this year's recruiting class, and with what's going on at OSU the hypothetical ceiling on the program could blow off.
I look forward to this being interpreted as an attack on Hoke in the comments. Bring it, reading comprehension failures of America.]
You win. Behold the power of the Michigan internets, as it collectively raised nearly six grand for refugees last week:
1. Michigan 46 5843.83
2. Auburn 45 3,870.21
3. Alabama 14 1991.66
4. UGA 20 1915.21
5. Texas 5 1625.73
Michigan nearly tripled everyone except Auburn. Ohio State chipped in 232.67, Michigan State 126.81, Penn State 48.14. Yes, the Nittany Lions were beat out by Georgetown, Case Western, and NYU on a college football blog—it's the Zack Mills era again. As your reward Orson will produce fawning Michigan content, but thanks to the parsimony of the rest of the league we came up only halfway to the 50k tattoo level. Orson has a special message for everyone, as well:
Dear MGoBlog commentariat.
I would like to thank you, the Michigan fanbase, alums, and assorted daywalking saints of the Great Mitten State, for both your generosity and enthusiasm in taking part in the EDSBS Charity Drive and for helping us raise $25,000 for the cause of refugee resettlement. We at EDSBS are fond of harumphing in the direction of your Michigan Man-ness in the name of gentle mockery, but this one is from the heart to Michigan Men and Women who make the concept so much more than a hollow saying. HARUMPH! from the bottom of our gin-soaked heart, MGoBlog.
We love you, and we thank you. Now that we're all awkwardly emotional, um [XKCD CARTOON OR MUPPETS GO HERE. ]
Orson asked what I'd like to see as he temporarily re-skins EDSBS and I was like "Tim Biakabutuka but we should ask the internet," so throw your ideas for anything below this post.
This Week In "I Forgot About This Draft." I threw a bunch of links in a post with the intent of getting to them later and totally forgot about them, thus robbing you of my opinion on Brady Hoke's contract*, some memories of Vada Murray, one with an embarrassing URL, and Chad Ford saying "a number of NBA scouts($)" believe Darius Morris needs to return to school. Also this, the most Michigan sign ever:
The Michigan Difference is saving refugees while making wikipedia jokes.
*[Why is Hoke's buyout double Rodriguez's? What's the benefit of locking yourself in like that when your man would "walk to Ann Arbor"? Like… in the unlikely event Hoke wins three games the next three years wouldn't you want to move on to the next guy?]
Yes, sir, anything you want me to convert to sir. Buried towards the end of a lengthy profile of 6'6", 330 pound weightlifting champ and OL walk-on Gary Yerden is this biographical tidbit:
Yerden is a Jehovah's Witness….
…one who gets results, no doubt.
Sundry basketball recruiting bits. UMHoops hit up last weekend's Pitt AAU tournament and came back with scouting reports and seven minutes of Glen Robinson III video. (Nick Stauskas was supposed to attend but got sick, leaving Robinson the featured attraction.) The scouting video reveals many, many dunks but not a whole lot of play in a structured halfcourt offense—such is the nature of AAU.
It's apparent that Robinson will instantly be Michigan's best athlete when he arrives. Dude can get up. His shooting is more of a question. He's got a nice-looking stroke but started that tournament with some bricks worthy of Brent Petway. He did warm up late.
As for the class of 2011, Max Preps has put out their final top 100. It features Burke and Brundidge in their usual slots between 60 and 80 (in this edition Brundidge is 62, Burke 80—the usual, one most Michigan fans with an opinion believe is backwards), and then here's a surprise:
100 Max Bielfeldt, PF/C Notre Dame (Peoria, IL) 6-9/230
That would make Bielfeldt about as big of a prospect as Matt Vogrich, who showed up 100th on Scout's list because he was "the best shooter in the country" but didn't make any other. The Maxpreps list says it is a "composite" based both on high school production and college potential, the former of which helped the ultra-productive Bielfeldt.
So… I'll take a Vogrich-level 6'9" PF. Michigan didn't have a ton of irons in the fire for 2012 anyway and if Morris jets before he's a senior they'll still have an open scholarship for SIM BHULLAR(!).
Notre Dame series not so permanent. Remember when Michigan and Notre Dame agreed to play for 30 straight years? Not so much. We know they're taking a break in 2018 and 2019 and now David Brandon is creating the future in a way that might not include the Irish:
"I have to have seven home games a year. If you think about a nine-game Big Ten schedule, there will be one year I have four home games and one year I have five. In the year that I have four, I have to play every one of my non-conference games at home, so I can't be in a world where I have four Big Ten home games and I'm supposed to play Notre Dame (in South Bend). I can't live in that world. Those are the kinds of issues I have to deal with."
Let's ignore David Brandon speaking like he's the Queen of England for a second: a nine game conference schedule means the ND/OSU/Nebraska home-home-home thing might come to a head. It's possible that Michigan gets their way and won't have to change their ND schedule—the conference has a motivation to protect a rivalry game TV apparently loves because for insane reasons they get 11/12ths of the revenue—but if they do it's doubtful the series continues unless ND is willing to have UM and USC be home or away at the same time. They might since they tend to have another marquee opponent regularly and the Michigan game is important for their TV contract (which they don't have to share).
Ramgod shamgod. Add "mascot" to the list of things associated with OH OL Kyle Dodson that are epic:
I feel molested just looking at that thing. It's a Tom of Finland Thundercat, and it wants to sexy wrestle me.
Etc.: Kenpom adds coaching resumes. Now I don't have to thumb through each page to confirm last year's Michigan D was the best Beilein has fielded in a BCS conference. Zach Travis's spring game post is bullish on caveats before getting into opinions. Forward Thinking on Kaleb Ringer.
So… that happened. As per usual, many events from the spring game are in the eye of the beholder. Is Devin Gardner's inability to find anyone open an indictment of him, an indictment of the second-team wide receivers, or… uh… like… people being covered? I know that latter seems improbable but I have seen football games in which this has happened. Whether your reaction to Saturday was "woo defense" or "ugh offense" depends on your state of mind and may oscillate wildly.
Unfortunately, there was a lot that was unambiguously bad, most of it from the quarterbacks: interceptions whistled yards over the intended receiver's head or thrown directly at linebackers, a Mallett-like plague of dropped snaps, offsides calls, etc. The general impression was more 2008 than 2010. Denard completed 5 of 14 passes for 5 YPA—2008 numbers—and ran six times for 60 yards, averaging 1 YPC after his first attempt. Insert the usual spring caveats and add a bunch more besides for small sample size and an awkward transition, but that is a far cry from the last spring game, and very little of it can be attributed to awesome defense. The QBs sucked on their own.
Here are highlight-type substances (which also feature the Most Legendary Press Conference Ever):
The official site version:
Other vague impressions:
The worst part ever. That guy who sung the anthem. I don't know why events that aren't actual football games are accompanied by some never-was with vibrato Tourette's singing the national anthem. This happened at the Big Chill, too. This is the last drip of Michigan football for five months—give me the band.
Obviously not so good. Devin Gardner was also inaccurate in drills. They have this dig route where a slot receiver works to the seam then cuts his route off 15 yards downfield and Gardner was consistently missing it. Denard missed a couple times but was obviously better. Both performed poorly in the game itself, which fine. Denard doesn't need a more practice on running plays that were beaten into his head last year, sometimes literally. If you're installing new stuff now is the time to see if it works.
HOWEVA, man… it did not seem to work. They kept running the waggle and Denard could not get anything out of it. There was a guy in his face the whole time; the resulting throws were frequently incomplete due to inaccuracy. In the video above when Hoke references a couple of "drops" the best examples the BTN can dig up are Drew Dileo almost making a spectacular one-handed stab and Darryl Stonum almost making a spectacular sideline lay-out.
Maybe in a tackle football game he can escape that contain guy on the regular, but that seems like a high variance strategy with limited upside. Option 1: beats corner guy, is on corner, has shot at running some probably not immense distance or hitting a crossing route of some variety. Option 2: second and 20. There's a reason the waggle is strictly an occasional changeup—whenever you've got the ball and are spending time with your back to the defense there's a chance something awful is going to happen, like John Navarre getting blown up in that one MSU game.
Mike Cox was the most impressive, scoring the only legitimate touchdown of the day for the offense—the second was an uncalled offensive PI that outraged Charles Woodson even if he wasn't watching it—on a 68-yard rumble through the middle of the defense. A few runs later he powered through a couple diving arm tackles for a decent gain. Notably, no coach dropped his headset in disgust without even yelling at the guy, which totally happened at last year's fall scrimmage. That was a sign Cox was going to be buried on the bench all year. Light going on? Let's hope so.
Stephen Hopkins seemed like Stephen Hopkins. Everyone else was pretty eh. Hayes and Rawls will have a shot in the fall.
With all but five Michigan receptions leaders returning there wasn't much new here, especially since the quarterbacks had such an off day. Hard to show anything when you're chasing Carvin Johnson down instead of vice-versa. A few items:
- It seems like Drew Dileo has risen to second on the slot depth chart.
- Odoms is still outside.
- Moving Ricardo Miller to tight end is a very bad sign for him. Seeing him next to the other TEs is like seeing that tiny third-string FB in the game. He just doesn't have the frame for TE, especially in a manball offense, so… what does that say about his potential future as a WR?
- The much-touted involvement of the tight ends did not materialize. I don't remember a single catch [Ed-M: Koger got one] and I think they only targeted TEs once or twice. This has been an exceptionally overblown meme anyway. Last year Michigan TEs had 20 catches. In Carr's last year they had 24. When you've got talent you throw to it; Michigan's talent is in the slot.
Michigan needs a couple big receiver recruits this year because the cavalry does not appear to be coming. Jerald Robinson may develop into a decent option but Miller's not even at the spot anymore and DJ Williamson didn't look good in drills or exist in the game; Jeremy Jackson is probably the best of all the receivers brought in last year and his upside is strictly possession.
It's all but impossible to pick out anything specific live unless you're a savant, which I'm not, so… uh… yeah. Michigan's attempts to run power didn't go so well—a follower tweeted that Michigan's guards were the equivalent of Michigan's kickers when they tried to pull. Again, with a veteran line that's got zone blocking down it's okay to work on the stuff they don't know yet. It seems foolhardy to dump that entirely and we did see a couple examples of Rodriguez's QB stretch, so let's hope the playcalling is less slanted towards the unfamiliar in fall.
The second team OL was walk-on infested with injuries to Molk (played but sparingly) and Lewan (out). They could not block the second-team DL, which contributed to Gardner's issues. Late it seemed like Mattison called off the dogs specifically so Gardner could see what it was like to not have someone breathing down his neck two seconds after the snap.
One guy I did think looked pretty good was Schofield.
All eyes were on Will Campbell and Will Campbell was all right. He got single blocked the whole day, alternating his time between pushing into the backfield to force cutbacks on unsuccessful runs, getting blocked out of rushing lanes, and (on passing downs) sitting at the LOS being the guy who looks for screens and scrambles. Unsurprisingly, reports that Campbell was "unblockable" as a three-tech turned out to be fiction—Campbell didn't beat a block all day. His contributions were limited to getting a moderate amount of penetration when single blocked on running plays. It was far from dominant; it could have been worse. I'm still pretty worried about what happens on stretch plays.
As for the other guys, RVB was out, leaving Jibreel Black and walk-on Nate Brink alternating at SDE. We know what to expect out of Martin when his ankles exist, and now he's getting moved around on passing downs. Schofield seemed to win his battle with Craig Roh, but Roh made a couple of plays on runs and looks like an honest-to-God DE these days. Kenny Wilkins was the DE who got steamrolled on the Cox TD.
Everyone's talking about Jake Ryan after his pick six and constant pressure of Gardner, but his primary opponent was a redshirt freshman walk-on not very good at blocking people. Big difference between his setup and, say, Campbell taking on the starting guards on the regular. Cam Gordon's in front of him for a reason. Ryan does appear like he'll push for time.
On the whole this unit was surprisingly decent for one starting a guy who just transferred from Hampton after not getting any PT there. Often when I'd watch Campbell he'd get kicked out of the hole way too easily, but as I braced for a big run two linebackers would roar in from the backside and swallow the play. That's what a one-gap defense does as long as you get your "run fits" right, and it seemed like they were vastly improved over last year. I'm extremely leery of the depth when your best alternative to Demens is Marell Evans, but here it seemed like the transition was going smoothly. Caveats apply: could just be the OL not being any good at what they're being asked to do.
FWIW, it was Brandon Herron getting steamrolled on the Cox TD run.
With Floyd and Woolfolk out this was also a lot of walk-ons. It's not good for Terrance Talbott to be behind Tony Anderson; Cullen Christian was also behind Anderson but was apparently injured and did not play. This will be some combination of Avery/Floyd/Woolfolk this fall unless Blake Countess shows up extremely ready. Greg Brown showed better than most expected after he spent his senior year of high school at linebacker.
As for safety, Michigan certainly looks good there. Marvin Robinson, Josh Furman, and Carvin Johnson are physically reminiscent of NFL safeties. A dollar says that perception doesn't last into the Big Ten season, but in this game they only blew two plays—the Cox TD (overrun by a very confused Robinson) and Denard's game-opening 55-yarder (Johnson was understandably outrun). Oh, and there was that hopeless Gardner bomb that should have been intercepted but ended up a completion. I think that was also Robinson, but I don't remember exactly.
So… slightly encouraging here. While Johnson's interceptions were gifts he came up and put a lick on more than one tailback who had broken to the sideline. Robinson also bombed a couple tailbacks. Furman was in position to break up a couple of Gardner deep balls and could have had an interception or two if Gardner's passes had been a little more accurate. Unfortunately, I am constitutionally incapable of not panicking about safety play even if there is evidence I shouldn't.
Will Hagerup is sophomore Zoltan: still too inconsistent but if he gets hold of one look out. He's going to hit a 70-yard punt this year. He'll also hit some 35-yard dribblers, but he's getting there.
Kickers: aigh. [Ed-M: They say
Aslan Matt Wile is on the move.]
Other Video Type Objects
Important bit on Denard: “in the real world, he'll probably run more than you saw today.”
Photo galleries abound. AnnArbor.com:
If the spring game is any indication, Mattison is not afraid to bring the heat. One of the criticisms Ravens fans levied at Mattison was that he “didn’t blitz enough.” That is something that is said about just every defensive coordinator ever, so take it for what it’s worth. Still, the concern that Michigan is going to drop back into a cover-2 and rush four is something that I’ve been somewhat afraid of. I thought the 3-3-5 was going solve that, instead it proved to be the exact opposite of an aggressive, attacking defense.
As OHHW notes, rushing four would actually be an improvement on last year. Ace predicted and wanted ugly. Point Ace. The Big House Blog wonders where Roy Roundtree went. Hoke says Michigan has a "long way to go." Mattison says he "doesn't know if [Johnson] was responsible for" his big plays, which… yeah. Photos and bits from MVictors.