A few updates from basketball, as I've had a couple chances to watch the team practice this week, and also talk to a few players and coach Beilein. (Images from Michigan Basketball on Facebook).
The team leaves for Europe today, and the rest of their schedule will be as follows:
- Saturday - Practice in Brussels.
- Sunday - Play Ghent at 4pm (local time).
- Monday - Play Charleroi at 7pm.
- Tuesday - Team trip to Paris.
- Wednesday - Tour Brugge in the morning, play Oostand at 8:30pm.
- Thursday - Play Mons at 7pm.
- Friday - Tour Amsterdam
- Saturday - Return to USA.
The Wolverines' administrative assistant, former Wolverine Travis Conlan, was responsible for setting up most of the games. He's recently played for Mons.
Conlan said the competition will be a little bit better than your average Big Ten team. Ghent is one of the worst teams in Belgium, but the other three squads are traditionally at the top of the table. The teams are mostly composed of guys who were the best player at a mid-major school but didn't make it into the NBA.
To follow the team in Europe, log on to MGoBlue.com, where there should be several manager/player diaries daily. If you become a fan of Michigan basketball on Facebook, they're also planning to post flipcam videos as well. Stats and game recaps will be published as well.
As for what they plan to get out of the trip, Beilein said "Just seeing where we are, as far as our conditioning, how tough we are, what we have. To give them a measuring stick and give us a measuring stick."
Prior to scheduling the trip, Beilein also wanted to make the trip the culmination of a for-credit summer class on European history or culture for the players, but everything happened so fast that there wasn't time to establish a curriculum.
Personnel and Tempo
The main lineups from Sunday's scrimmage, in order of appearance, were the following:
Jon Horford was mostly running with the scout team (otherwise composed of walkons), but he and McLimans switched at the very end of the scrimmage. Andy Beilein tweeted earlier that the first lineup listed above, except with Hardaway replacing Vogrich, was "Just a thought." Coach Beilein said yesterday that Vogrich was likely to start in Europe, however.
The most notable thing from the scrimmage was the tempo of the offense. There was a lot of fast break. Darius Morris looked pretty good running it - he looks a lot more confident in all phases of the game. There are some factors pushing the change that won't apply during the season (playing against walkons, playing with a 24-second clock), but when asked about it, Douglass and Novak both mentioned that pushing the tempo is a point of emphasis for the team this entire year. Douglass said, "We're trying to push the tempo throughout the year, the entire year." Novak added, "I mean, that's just an emphasis for the year that we've got."
Blake McLimans needs to improve his conditioning. In a running drill on Sunday, he was unable to finish in the time limit, and he missed a couple fast-break opportunities yesterday because he was slow getting up the court. Morris and Douglass were in the center of the line for sprints, and were far faster than everyone else. Corey Person was next-fastest, for what it's worth.
Tim Hardaway Jr. and Evan Smotrycz look like the real deal. Smotrycz seems to be one of the better shooters on the team, but it also able to play in the post quite a bit. Hardaway has a pure stroke and can pull up from a lot of different spots on the floor.
Jon Horford (at right) needs to add some weight, and he's a raw prospect. However, Beilein said "We have some sponges on this team, and I mean that really want to get better. Just watching, for example, Jon Horford today, that's all he wants to do," and it seemed like he had improved a bunch between Sunday and today. Colton Christian wasn't practicing full-court either day, as he re-injured his hamstring. He'll travel to Europe, but it's possible he doesn't see any court time.
For much more on individual players, check out UMHoops.
This is a very young team, with the entire upperclass contingent consisting of two juniors. However, they seem to be developing. Being able to get 10 extra practice days in the summer and actually play some competitive games in the pre-season will hopefully help the young guys be ready to contribute, almost like spring enrollees for football.
The chemistry, camaraderie, and leadership on this team should be an upgrade as well. Though DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris were great players, they weren't the vocal leaders that a young team needs, and on-court chemistry was lacking last season.
Is this an NCAA Tournament team? Probably not. Is it an NIT team? Probably not. But it should be a fun team to watch over the course of the season, as they grow individually and as a collective.
I have terrible news: David Brandon's pimp hand has badly malfunctioned and is now marching, Godzilla-style, on the greatest rivalry ever in the history of ever. This morning he showed up on WTKA to discuss Big Ten divisons and said this:
SAM WEBB: If you are making the decision, are Michigan and Ohio State in the same division?
[pregnant pause in which Brandon struggles valiantly against the malfunctioning pimp hand's electrosteam power source. "NO," he stammers. "MUST… NOT… SUBMIT." He feels like he's trapped in an episode of Star Trek, playing Kirk in any one of the dozens of episodes in which something in his brain compels him to evil. Sweat breaks out on his brow; he begins to tremble. The shaking increases in intensity, threatening to break out into violent convulsions! At any moment David Brandon's existential dilemma will come to a head! Things are afoot—
A twitch. Two twitches. Now a facial tic. All is silent. An unnatural calm descends.]
DAVID BRANDON: …No.
[Deep in a bunker underneath a Kenosha corn field, Barry Alvarez allows himself the deep rumbling bass laugh only the blackest hearts can muster. Yes. All according to plan.]
SAM WEBB: And why? [Ed: …GOD WHY?]
THE UNSPEAKABLE THING THAT POSSESSES THE BODY OF DAVID BRANDON: Because we're in a situation where one of the best things that could happen … would be the opportunity to play Ohio State twice.
He said he has received only a couple of e-mails from people worried about the possibility of moving the Michigan game to earlier in the season. Whether those – and other critical opinions expressed on the Internet – are reflective of the broad fan base is impossible to know, Smith said.
"I know one thing for sure - that we're going to play (Michigan) every year," Smith said. "We may end up playing the last game of the year, or not. I just don't know that yet."
The "not" scenario will only come to pass if the two teams can play again and the Big Ten is trying to avoid the farce of a best-last-one-out-of-two scenario. And with both ADs at Michigan and Ohio State trying to prepare the fans for a soft landing, it's clear which way this is going: the stupidest possible way.
ONE: It is extremely unlikely that Michigan and Ohio State would ever actually score a championship game rematch. Splitting the two teams is a pointless exercise in hoping that once every ten years you get another one. This is no longer the 1970s.
TWO: Michigan's year-end opponent: Michigan State? Boy, that will fire up everyone on Rivalry Week: "It's Michigan! It's some team that's been within a game of .500 every year since SEC schools started recruiting black kids! On ABC!"
THREE: Whatever damage the rivalry sustains because of the split is going to vastly outweigh the piddling slice of extra revenue Michigan and Ohio State will get from a 1/12th split of the incremental bump the Big Ten Championship Game gets because maybe once every ten years they'll get to pit Michigan against Ohio State.
FOUR: Dennis Dodd thinks this is the way to go. QED.
Not that this matters. Apparently it's done. Get ready for Michigan-Ohio State sometime in October, not even playing for a division or anything, because the "TV people" really want it. Do I need to remind you about Mark Shapiro?
Bullets from Rich Rod's post-practice press conference today.
Dealing With Troy Woolfolk's Injury
Troy is in great shape, and he was playing well. They don't know how long Woolfolk fill be out, "I think we're still waiting on some medical results... I'm confident we've got guys to step in."
Initially, everybody's concerned for their teammate. Once they know he's ok, they're able to bounce back. Everybody's down, but "once they see him getting around, they'll bounce back."
"We'll move guys around in the secondary" to compensate for Woolfolk's injury. Some safeties had already moved to corner, but there may be some more. "With our schemes, our free safeties and our corners are in the same meeting room, so I think they probably know each other's position anyway." Asked if any WRs would move to DB: "No. Strictly defensive guys." All the young guys at DB have a chance, and now they have a sense of urgency to prepare.
Other than Woolfolk, they only have "typical camp injuries" - guys missing a practice or two because they're banged up.
"I wish we had a better way to measure." Rodriguez wishes there was an inter-squad scrimmage, because now there's no way to test yourself against somebody else. Division 1-A is the only level of football without scrimmages.
RR will know after tomorrow's practice who will miss saturday scrimmage due to injury.
In the scrimmage, they're looking for overall competition. Coaches won't be on the field for the scrimmage. Players will have to see the signs from the sidelines, which is new for the freshmen. They'll scrimmage "at least most of" the special teams Saturday. It will be an opportunity to let the player get used to the new turf.
No firm first and second teams on either side of the ball. The scrimmage on Saturday will be mixed across groups. QBs won't be live in the scrimmage.
After the scrimmage Saturday, they'll have another, smaller one midweek next week. After that, the coaches will pretty much know who's on the two-deep, who's on the travel squad, etc. They'll only run practice with two groups getting the majority of the reps at that point.
At QB, Rodriguez always had at least two guys get almost the same number of reps - "even when I've had a clear-cut starter". All three guys are getting equal reps. That'll taper down after the scrimmage.
QBs probably won't be live all camp. As long as they are practicing with good fundamentals, and taking care of the ball, they won't go live.
Tate - He's had a pretty good camp. He's really gotten better. He's been challenged, so far he's responded well. He's a little bigger and stronger. Tate has worked. Some of the guys that have been challenged - guys who have ability and need it. Tate and "a couple other guys" have responded to the challenge. When they know there's competition, they're more motivated.
All three guys at QB are getting better. It's possible that Devin could win the job. Is it likely he could win the job? "Possible? Likely? Possible's a better word." He came in behind because of experience, but he's competing to win it.
There's an ongoing battle at running back. The top guy won't be settled, they're hoping for two or three guys ready for the UConn game.
Jon Bills has been with the team through camp, serving as a student assistant coach. His halo should be coming off in the next few days.
The competition at tackle is going well. "I've really been pleased with Perry Dorrestein, and Mark Huyge, they're veterans. They've come back and played pretty well. And the two young guys, Taylor Lewan and Mike Schofield are competing right there with them."
Craig Roh "is moving around well; he's in good shape... He's carrying the extra weight pretty well."
Mark Moundros is in contention for a starting linebacker spot. Obi Ezeh, Kenny Demens, JB Fitzgerald, Kevin Leach, and Moundros can all play multiple LB positions. Rodriguez has "really been pleased" with Obi Ezeh. Jonas Mouton has been a little banged up. "They're in really good shape."
Kickers have done better, and been pretty good last two days. Will Hagerup has punted well, as has Seth Broekhuizen. Justin Meram (the soccer player) says he can throw it, too. Rodriguez isn't excited to find out.
Leadership And Wings
"Our senior class is doing a great job with leadership." The team was shown a video the other day with the history of Michigan's program, then the seniors presented some team goals. Seniors came up with the goals, and Rodriguez gave a few tips to help them achieve those goals. The goals are pretty common, there are higher expectations at Michigan, and everyone should start the year competing for a championship. "We've got ambitious guys, and they're working toward that end."
It's critical for seniors to take a leadership role. Off the field, in the locker room, around campus, etc. "When a senior's getting on you about something, don't take it personal." They're doing it for your own good and the team's good. Fear of offending someone sometimes makes seniors afraid to speak out.
We've had good leadership each of the past couple years. Guys didn't really know what coaches wanted the first year. Last year's guys were good leaders (Zoltan, Brandon Graham), but they might not have been as vocal all the time.
Have to push to practice at a championship level during camp. The team has a good attitude. There are moments when practice goes well, at other times the team is ragged. The afternoon practices of two-a-days are when guys are really tired. Guys know when they're not practicing at a high level.
Does Tate have his wings back? "Yes, they got it back today. Yes they did. There's the story for you." Why now? "We wanted to see some consistency a few days in a row." This was the first time he's done something like this.
Most encouraged that the players like to work. Nobody's late for practice or meetings, everybody's attentive. "I Love their attitude, and I love their work ethic, and that's the start."
Ball security - really good so far. A couple interceptions, tipped passes or bad decisions, but there hasn't been a fumble in the past couple days. Throwing it well, good at taking care of the ball.
In the past, the coaches have tried to simplify the offense, has that changed this year? Haven't yet put more in this year. Installation really slowed down this week. We'll have to do more to get ready for UConn.
Summer school is mostly over, though a couple guys might be taking a final tomorrow. Freshmen finished, which is nice because school has been making them miss meetings. Rodriguez is anxious to see how they can progress when football is their only focus.
Grades will come out in a week or so, and we'll know the eligibility status of upperclassmen then (obvious Shaw leading question).
Rodriguez has certain things he puts on lists to get done, and they're right on track to meet those goals. "We've really made progress. I think we're right on track." The scrimmage will tell a lot about where they are.
Rodriguez got one of the first copies of Jon Falk's new book. He hasn't read the whole thing yet. "He's got a lot of stories to tell, and he's an icon, and everybody loves big Jon."
Previously: S Carvin Johnson, S Ray Vinopal, S Marvin Robinson, CB Courtney Avery, CB Terrence Talbott, CB Cullen Christian, CB Demar Dorsey, LB Jake Ryan, LB Davion Rogers, LB Josh Furman, DE Jordan Paskorz, DE Jibreel Black, DE Kenny Wilkins, DT Terry Talbott, DT Richard Ash, C Christian Pace, WR Drew Dileo, WR Jerald Robinson, WR DJ Williamson, WR Jeremy Jackson, and WR Ricardo Miller.
|Flower Mound, TX - 6'0" 229|
mgouser Drake painted the ugly off
|Scout||3*, #52 RB|
|ESPN||3*, 77, #50 RB|
|Others||Consensus #76 player in Texas|
|Other Suitors||Texas A&M, Arkansas, Kansas, Kansas State|
|YMRMFSPA||Leroy Hoard or Brandon Minor|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Tom interviews Hopkins. Dramatic Cupcake Hopkins. Commitment post.|
|Notes||Early enrollee. From the same town as hockey forward Chris Brown.|
If you liked Brandon Minor but thought he was too tall, too fast, and insufficiently bowling-ball shaped, you'll love Stephen Hopkins. ABC should bring Keith Jackson out of mothballs just so he can call Hopkins a "hoss" enough for the descriptor to be dubbed over every subsequent run in his career, NCAA XX style ("He used POWER").
Calling him a workhorse is almost insufficient: as a sophomore, Hopkins ran 322 times for Marcus. (They managed to cut him back to 275 as a junior.) People still do, though, with the Dallas Morning News going so far as to call him "the definition of a workhorse" as they named him the area's top back for 2010. He says the things that workhorses say, too:
"We ended up pounding the ball and pounding the ball," Hopkins said. "That was a great team we beat, so it's really satisfying".
All those carries added up to a grinding mountain of stats: 1,663 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore, 1,689 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior. In his senior year Marcus finally found a couple guys to share the load and Hopkins got a less frenetic workload, but still put up 1282 yards on just over 200 carries. As I was saying: hoss.
Stephen Hopkins is Brandon Minor, but moreso. ESPN doesn't use the word "Minor" but just about says so($):
Hopkins has big-back size with deceptively good feet and lateral agility. … Hits the hole fast and does a job getting north quickly; does not take a lot of wasted lateral steps but shows he can bounce it outside to daylight without losing a lot in transition. At his best when he plants and accelerates downhill behind his pads. … Difficult for smaller defensive backs to arm-tackle when he gains momentum through the second level. However, his high running style hinders his balance, often chopped down low, and yards after contact production. Opens his body to direct shots, which is concern in a high carry role at the next level. Can see and hit the cutback creases, but is not a natural pick and slide zone runner and may be limited to more downhill schemes in college. Shows good initial quicks through the hole but lacks great top-end speed when breaks free in the second level and an extra gear to separate.
Could you craft a better Brandon Minor scouting report than that? No. Also, Michigan's coaches, by way of Hopkins himself, say so:
"They told me I'm a lot like Brandon Minor and the other big backs they've played in their system."
And Hopkins says so too:
“I think I’m a pretty strong runner just like Brandon Minor is,” Hopkins said. “I’m a little bit bigger than he is, but I think I have a lot of the same attributes he does running the ball. He gets tough yardage, breaks first contact, gets a lot of yards after contact. I think I’m a lot like that.”
Jordan Kovacs woozily concurs after getting trucked twice in a row in the spring game. Also he probably says "momma."
We have established the equality of Brandon Minor and Stephen Hopkins, but there's more stuff too, stuff that makes Hopkins seem ever so slightly distinct. One: he's slower. More Hopkins on Hopkins:
Yea, it kind of gives me a disadvantage though too. Sometimes there’s a stereotype that I can’t run fast, but I’m going to improve on that. I recently ran a 4.6 40, so I want to try to get that down to a 4.5. I like that I’m bigger, and don’t want to lose that, but I want to get faster too.
Two: he has even more RAGE. An observer of the coaches' clinic scrimmage:
The guy is just a freaking monster and he breaks tackles. Now, I can’t say he can block, or knows the offense or can catch the ball. Plus, he fumbled twice (once he was hit at the handoff, on the other instance it might have been the QB’s issue). But man is he a tough tackle on the belly if he can get (even) a yard of momentum.
In several different reports, Rivals calls him($) "a physical, punishing back" who "never hesitates" and "goes for positive yardage on practically every carry," praises his($) "tremendous overall size" and ability to "always … fall forward after being tackled," and says almost the exact same things($) in a third game report. (A caveat: report two says "he would have to be a short-yardage and goal-line back in the spread offense run at Michigan" and says he'll probably be a middle linebacker, two things that betray a scant knowledge of both Michigan's roster and the blood-strewn area on the backside of the Michigan offensive line that appeared whenever Brandon Minor had fewer than six broken bits.) Minor was pretty good at getting forward but he was taller and skinnier and more prone to get lit up for running too high. It sounds like you'd pick Hopkins if you had fourth and one.
As a potential bonus, his coach claims he's good out of the backfield and with the blocking and whatnot:
"He's one of those classic downhill runners that gets stronger as the game wears on," Marcus coach Bryan Erwin said. "But at the same time, he does all the other things that you need from an every-down back. He can block. He can catch passes. Whatever you need him to do, he can do it."
A year later, Erwin would say he's "great" at both blocking and receiving and the "most complete back that I've ever coached." He also knocked down that criticism from Rivals above:
"He's a great inside zone runner, which in that scheme, he should do well," noted the Marcus head coach. "When they do get in the I-formation, he's going to be fantastic. He does both those things for us. We still run a lot of I-formation and he's tremendous on tall sweeps and off-tackle plays."
The locals were also impressed. A message board focused on 5A Texas football has a thread in which the denizens say these things:
He is a very impressive player. His size is rare with RBs today. He can run for speed and power. … Physically, he is ahead of the game for his age.
When we played them in 2007 we got the ball first and went 3 and out, or close to that. They then ran about 9 minutes off the clock and scored. Pretty much every series was like that. When the other team has the ball for 9 minutes of every 12 minute quarter scoring chances are few.
The guys is IMO the best back in the DFW area. … The off-season between his sophomore and junior year saw him put on some size and gain in speed. He has developed into a very patient runner that will wait for the hole to develop and then explodes. His power is unmatched by any back I saw last year. … Marcus added a inside/outside running game last year and was able to do that with Hopkins. The year before he was limited to getting his yards between the tackles due to not having the game breaking speed, last year that changed and Marcus was able to break the big one on sweeps, off tackles and power plays. One of his strengths is his ability to hold onto the football too.
With the crying need for a hippopotamus back on the roster and Rodriguez's RAGE-friendly belly schemes, Hopkins is going to be a tailback at Michigan all the way. In the I-formation he'll line up behind the fullback and iso like mad. In the spread 'n' shred he'll be the Owen Schmitt (who ran the ball some 57 times as a senior) to someone else's Steve Slaton. The coaches have told him he's not a fullback. He won't be. He will be a horse.
Etc.: With Hopkins looking like a four-year contributor, get used to this:
As a junior, went Biakabutuka (313 yards) in a heartbreaking loss to Southlake Carroll. There is a petition for one Stephen Hopkins to be signed to "Sporting Hinton" permanently. Doctor Saturday as emirate? Random quote:
"If you need me to pick up a first down in a short-yardage situation, I'm your man, but I don't want to be just a power back," Hopkins said.
Hopkins made the All State team in the largest Texas division… second team… and they put four running backs on each team. Everything's bigger in Texas.
Other guy named Stephen Hopkins: Guys named Stephen Hopkins have a rich history in American… uh… history. One of them was on the Mayflower and signed the Mayflower Compact; another was one of Rhode Island's signatories on the Declaration of Independence. Hopkins beats Jeremy Jackson hands down.
Why Leroy Hoard or Brandon Minor? Minor is obvious. As for Hoard: take it from the guy who is cited above as Practice Observer, who was talking with a guy who played with Leroy Hoard, knows Leroy Hoard, watched Hopkins practice, and said "that's Leroy Hoard."
Guru Reliability: High, I guess. No reason a four-year starter at a major Dallas school wouldn't get the crap scouted out of him. Everyone thought Minor was going to be a fullback, too, though, and none of them seem to realize that Michigan has run plays that people other than Steve Slaton can run.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Obvious, immediate contributor that fills a hole on the roster but unlikely to be a big star.
Projection: Fills a niche in the Michigan backfield that needs filling (see: worst play of the Decade #4) and will play this year. His worst case is the short yardage and goal-line back; his best case is Runaway Beer Truck next to a Vincent Smith.
In case the Forcier Transfer tweet going all Keyser Soze five minutes after it was posted…
…was not indication enough, Tom got in touch with Tate's dad, who laughed the rumors off:
Mike Forcier, Tate's dad, laughed at the transfer rumors. Said they aren't true, and he wouldn't support it anyways.
This tweet is still up.
Melanie Collins, meanwhile, has mastered the art of 21st century apologizing by admitting nothing, claiming her righteousness, and blathering insane nonsense:
Twitter is an outlet to post thoughts, provoke conversation & share info I'm hearing. I never once said there was any truth to Forcier rumor
No truth, just from a "very reliable source." This flies if your bio says you're a pathological liar. Collins's does not, unfortunately. Wait a minute… AH-HA! CAUGHT YOU RED HANDED, I DID.
I probably shouldn't have posted anything on a rumor that seemed specious enough to cloak it in the skepticism/fatalism I did, but I figured since she was and is a Big Ten Network "personality" that it was worth posting. Sorry about that. On a side note: message board folk should drop it since the chatter has degenerated into "I would do her so hard and then put her in an apron so she can make me a sandwich which is all women are good for help me I've never touched one." Don't post anything your mother doesn't want to read. Or my mother.
And Kelvin Grady has the last word:
NEVER A DULL MOMENT #period
Remember, all-time updates can be found on the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board. If you have any recruiting tips or questions, you can e-mail them to me at [email protected] or tweet @varsityblue.
Trimming Lists, Planning Visits
WI RB Melvin Gordon (pictured at right, via the Kenosha News) may take an official visit to Michigan. It had previously seemed like the Wolverines were out of the running for Melvin, and this could be a sign that they definitely want a big back in this class.
Michigan is in FL RB Devondrick Nealy's top five ($, info in header). He's similar to FL RB Demetrius Hart, so if all goes well with Dee, I wouldn't expect Nealy to end up in this class.
NJ Slot WR Miles Shuler-Foster has a top 7 that includes Michigan. He seems to be one of only two slots (along with FL Slot WR Prince Holloway) that Michigan is pursuing. It's not a position of need, but Shuler's speed would be hard to turn down.
NJ TE Jack Tabb (who recently visited Ann Arbor) is ready to cut his list of more than 20 offers. Six schools, including Michigan, are guaranteed to make that cut, making up a de facto top six.
Last week, PA DE Deion Barnes named a top 5 ($, info in header) including Michigan. There might be another positive development in that recruitment, as Pitt, also in his top 5, picked up commitments from three defensive ends last week.
OH LB Sean Duggan has a top five that includes Michigan (along with Wisconsin, Boston College, Duke, and Virginia).
NJ S Sheldon Royster will try to visit Michigan before his senior season starts ($, info in header).
LA CB Daren Kitchen, who has long favored Michigan, will take an official visit for the Connecticut game ($, info in header). If receives a commitable offer on that visit, he could drop for the Wolverines.
PA DE Desimon Green committed to Pitt.
MD OL Donovan Smith has narrowed to a top 12 that does not include Michigan.
PA CB Kyshoen Jarrett committed to Pitt.
TampaBay.com covered the commitment of Tony Posada last week:
Leaving the state was a major factor, Posada said, as was Michigan’s reputation of producing offensive linemen. Two weeks ago, Posada said his mind was “99 percent” made up.
“That day I walked outside and it felt like it was 100 degrees out and I told myself, ‘I want to go to the snow,’ ” Posada said. “And when you go to Michigan and they ask what did you play and you say offensive tackle, people say, ‘Man, you must be good to play tackle at Michigan.’ ”
It sounds like the staff is planning to play him at tackle, which means any more OL commits will probably come from guards.
Tom spoke with FL OL James Elliott following his Michigan visit, and Elliott had nothing but positive things to say:
JAMES: Man, that was the most amazing school I've ever seen in person... We actually stayed a little longer than expected just so we could see everything, and meet Coach Rodriguez. We didn't realize he was in Seattle, so we wanted to stay to meet him. We got to see practice and talk with him about the visit. It was just great.
He named Michigan his leader ($, info in header), so what's the next step for Elliott? He holds an offer, but not yet a committable (i.e. Rodriguez-issued) one. With a few good OL targets remaining on the board, Elliott may have to wait to see how things shake out before he receives one.
FL DT Tim Jernigan, who has Michigan in his top five, is also Facebook friends with a couple of Michigan's coaches.
Local Fluff on KY LB Lamar Dawson. He's a longshot for Michigan, but a good season on the field could turn a lot of top prospects' heads toward Ann Arbor.
FL WR/S Sammy Watkins and his teammate, CB/QB Dallas Crawford (pictured at right), are both very interested in Michigan still:
Watkins is still considering a long list of schools, but says he was very impressed during visits to Michigan and Clemson.
Crawford says he'll wait until the end of the season to make a decision, but lists Michigan, LSU, Miami, Wake Forest, North Carolina, and West Virginia as his leaders right now.
Watkins plans to announce a top 5 before his season, and then put recruiting on the back burner for a while. Crawford was willing to go on the record and say the Wolverines stand atop his list. Landing him would help Michigan with Watkins.
MI CB Valdez Showers will announce a decision next week. The Wolverines are in his top four ($, info in header), along with Michigan State, Northwestern, and Florida. Though Showers grew up a Michigan fan, I don't think they're the favorite to land him at this time.
For more on several prospects, including GA S Avery Walls, check out Tom's weekly recruiting update.
The Distant Future. The Year 2016(!)
A physically imposing offensive lineman from Illinois grew up loving Michigan:
Swenson’s dream school is Michigan, but he also has his priorities straight. “The first thing is to get a good education,” Swenson said. “I want to go to a good school and play football. I’d like to study engineering or business.”
The issue? Kid's not even in high school yet. Erik Swenson's recruitment is a long way off, but assuming we all survive Mayan apocalypse, he's one to keep an eye on in the future.
In slightly-less-distant news, 2012 OH S Allen Gant (at right) is the latest prospect profiled by Sam Webb in the Detroit News.
Said Allen, "Before I just didn't have a very good idea of what Rich Rod and his staff were about, but after (the visit) I feel a lot more comfortable with them. I know that they're interested in me. They're on my radar with all the other schools that were recruiting me."
Gant is the son of former Wolverine Tony Gant, but he grew up a fan of the Buckeyes.
UPDATE: Professional hottie's tweet has disappeared. You can safely ignore the below, I think.
Um… so this person…
…has a twitter that says this:
Very reliable source telling me Tate Forcier requested a transfer from #Michigan this AM. NOT yet confirmed, will update as I know more.
I'd link it but I'm getting fail whales and am suffused with an overwhelming ennui.
Not to disparage smoking hot bikini models or anything, but I'd probably take Mike Rothstein's word over hers. Then again she has done some sideline work for the Big Ten Network—the entire reason this is credible enough to bother with—and Rothstein is not banging out strenuous denials and this is Michigan post-Bo so it's probably true and all she left out its that he's hiring someone to bash Denard's knee in, Tonya Harding style.
This is by user chunkums and it is ridiculous:
That is all.
Also it has two points at the moment and is the last straw for the new point system. Posbangs are free for everyone!
HAI GUYS WHAT'S—
No, just kidding. We're back to normal service except for the occasional outburst of spine-threatening sobs and pauses to shake the MGoFist at the sky.
So how screwed are we? Oh… I'd imagine pretty screwed. We've had to consolidate the "can Teric Jones/Michael Shaw/Denard Robinson/Will Campbell play corner?" threads in one big annoying glob of Kubler-Ross bargaining. But at least we've gotten some excellent paint action out of it:
From the Shredder, naturally.
Also there's this from Antidaily:
Even the house organs, who were busy dismissing the importance of Justin Turner's departure last week, admit this is a "devastating blow" to what was already a ramshackle Burmese lean-to of a secondary. Rittenberg says Woolfolk's name would have been "right at the top" of players Michigan could not afford to lose and asks if Pac-Man Jones or Charles Woodson have any eligibility left (answer compliance should absolutely not double-check: HELL YES). Orson breaks out Crazy Old Testament God; Burgeoning Wolverine Star goes with that damn owl again for some reason.
And UMGoBlog gets all scientific by ripping Dorsey, Turner, and Woolfolk off Michigan's roster in NCAA 2011 and seeing what happens:
|PASS YPG||PASS TDS||PPG||RECORD||RODRIGUEZ|
|Before||200||19||24.1||7-5||"I feel happy!"|
That last column is my addition. Obviously.
Io-wha? Yeah, you see what I did there. Black Heart Gold Pants got all huffy about the idea Iowa might be overrated. While I was wrong about how many defensive starters Iowa lost (it's three, not five) and this somewhat mitigates their situation, when you deploy the Mathlete luck graph in an attempt to argue you weren't that lucky last year, well, Braves and Birds treats you like it usually treats Stewart Mandel:
You know your argument sucks when you're fighting the notion that your team was lucky in 2009 and you cite a chart that shows your team to have been the second luckiest team in the conference. …
As a result of Iowa's inability to demonstrate its superiority over Arkansas State and Northern Iowa, every ranking system that accounts for data beyond record and strength of schedule pegged Iowa in the lower part of the top 20. The Sagarin Predictor had Iowa 17th. Sports Reference's SRS measure had Iowa 19th, as did Football Outsiders. In short, you can accept what reams of research tells us about football, which is that points, yards, and drive outcomes are a better indication of a team's merit and contain less noise than the final record itself. Or, you can reject all of that, put on a dumb hat, and wait to be punked by Fire Joe Morgan.
The chart thing's even better since it shows Iowa was seriously unlucky the year before, puncturing any argument that Ferentz has a knack for making chicken salad out of Stanziballs. Why is it that when I make a bleedingly obvious comment like "Penn State's quarterback situation sucks" or "Iowa was lucky last year and I am skeptical of them this year" people get all mad? Go ahead, predict Michigan's secondary will be a black hole of despair. I won't stop you.
Hockey guy but sort of the wrong year. Michigan's finally picked up another hockey commit, with 2012 forward Justin Selman picking Michigan a couple days ago. Selman joins Boo Nieves and Connor Carrick in that class; Michigan is still way, way short for 2011, with one guy currently scheduled to replace Michigan's extensive senior class.
As per usual with hockey recruits more than a year out from the draft, information on Selman is sparse. USHR has a positive note as one of a dozen or so "A" players from the '08 Select 15 festival:
-- 5’10”, 165 lb. Justin Selman. A smooth skating late ’93 from Upper Saddle River, NJ and the NJ Avalanche. He can make plays. Strong hockey sense. (White)
Selman- Great at faceoffs. Had a growth spurt and is suprisingly strong. Solid skater with the drive to score. doubt he goes to the O.
Justin Selman- 5 10 160- A great skater and an absolute wizard on face offs. He is physical and has grown a lot in the past two years. A young 93 and still is one of hte best in a strong 93 Atlantic district age group.
Selman is not really a pro prospect I guess but he is still a very good player who could receive consideration for 2012.
Fiutakin' it. Since this guy exists…
…and so does walk-on kicker and varsity soccer star Justin Meram, this Free Press typo (print) goes from pedestrian to "Evan Metrics" competitor:
It is always dangerous to taunt the embarrassing typo Gods—a couple of months ago I called PSU's Tom Bradley "Steve" or something—but, man, that was posted yesterday and passed around to great laughter and still hasn't been updated as of this post.
Expansion detail trickle. A couple more items from Delany:
- A ninth game likely wont happen until 2015 at the earliest, and…
- Straight geography is not happening when it comes to Big Ten divisions: “We didn't think there's any way we could achieve principle one [competitiveness] and two [rivalry preservation] if we were rigid about geographic contiguity. We are aware of geography, but we're not going to be driven by it.”
There's a rumor out there that Michigan and Ohio State will be split into separate divisions, which I find abhorrent because it necessitates protected cross-division games, which are dumb, and guarantees that Michigan will be elaborately screwed by that cross-division game being Ohio State, guaranteeing them a brutal schedule year-in, year-out as Ohio State and Penn State go play with Purdue, Indiana, Northwestern, and Illinois.
Remember when… wingless helmets were the thing we were panicking about?
It was a simpler, more annoying time because everyone hysteria was unjustified. Here's to annoyance.
Etc.: Hoover Street Rag breaks down Michigan logos past. Seth Wickersham's ESPN the Magazine article($) is insider, it is also the second MSM article in the past couple weeks to break down the Michigan document dump months after Heads Should Roll. It's probably worth your time, though. I don't buy the idea that compliance couldn't dare escalate from their perpetual Labadie pings; that was a screwup on their part, though most of the problem lies with the bungling underlings and the system that allowed the bungling to continue so long.
Notes from Offensive Coordinator Calvin Magee's meeting with the press this morning (photo from file).
Motivation is not necessarily about the wingless helmets, everyone on the team has a fire lit under them, because they have competition for their spots.
The vocal leader of the offense varies. All the upperclassmen are starting to be. Schilling, Roundtree, QBs, Koger "I can name a lot now, I couldn't do that before."
It's Coach Rodriguez's decision whether anybody moves from offense to help fill the void left by Troy Woolfolk's injury. "I figured that might be an early question." The offense's goal is to get plenty of depth at every position, and Magee hasn't thought about any spot where the offense could give up a guy.
They've had situational scrimmages, but no full scrimmage yet. Offense is about the execution. Keys for that are making sure we take care of the ball, making good decisions, avoiding negative plays, converting 3rd downs, and sustaining drives. "When you have chances to make plays you make them. We had, I believe, a lot of missed opportunities last year. We need to take advantage of them." The team has been better at avoiding turnovers than in the past couple camps. "Attention to detail has been much better." Avoiding the chance for a turnover, not just the turnover itself, has been coached.
The coaches aren't watching more film than normal with so many unresolved position battles. They'd be doing it anyway to evaluate the backups, etc. Fun thing now is every position has competition, and everyone knows the competition is there, so the players are pushing each other.
On the scrape exchange: "We've been seeing that for about 5 years now." "We have some pretty good answers for that... We feel comfortable and confident in those answers, we really do." Unsurprisingly, he wouldn't get into specifics about what those answers are. [Ed.: This had to be Craig Ross's question. Tim confirms.]
The team is mostly third-year guys. They understand more of what is expected at this point. More people are running around knowing what's going on than the past couple fall camps. The guys who don't understand are a minority now. The guys that have been around providing great leadership.
Right now, they're are still in camp mode with giving reps, they haven't started preparing for the first opponent. Now is time to get guys into shape and learn fundamentals.
The main improvement in the defense is that they're flying around, having fun. Magee's not worried about them, he wants to execute his plays. Right now, he's worried about offense.
Not even thinking about redshirts right now.
Quarterbacks And Other Personnel, But Mostly Quarterbacks
Who will start at QB and RB? "You wish I would tell you that." They're excited about all three QBs. They're still days away from figuring that out [note: I don't think "days away" means something is happening soon. He used it to mean "not yet" a few times]
To evaluate the QBs, they look at making the proper progression reads, learning the offense, leadership, improving every day, decisions they make, making plays. A lot of guys are making plays in camp. The quarterback battle might be won by who can motivate better. Showing leadership by example is important, good body language, knowing we always have a chance. "It's not just in completion rates and all that stuff."
Thus far, they're only evaluating the overall performance of the quarterbacks. "All three bring quite a bit to the table... it'll be our job to figure out." There's no set deadline for deciding on a starter. They just want to decide soon enough to get players the reps they need to prepare for the first game.
Denard - have you been giving him reps anywhere else? "No." [editorialization: given Rodriguez's continued insistence that Denard would see snaps other places if he wasn't going to be the team's starting QB, throw this in the pile of "Denard will be the starter" fuel.] Denard has improved since year one with an overall understanding of the complete scheme. Run game and throw game. Having a spring under his belt. "Progressing the way a young quarterback progresses."
"Tate's been competing, playing, doing well." They all understand what's at stake for the team. All-in for the team. Does Tate have his wings back? "It's not for me to tell you that."
In the spring, Devin was good for a high schooler. He's been picking up more and more, and is gaining confidence.
At running back, "we're trying to figure out who's going to step forward." Put different guys with different groups. Competition still going strong. A couple days away from figuring that out. Vincent Smith hasn't lacked confidence yet coming off the knee injury. "I haven't seen anything that makes me discouraged."
Stonum - "He's been consistent, and dedicated, and is playing at a high level right now. We're hoping that continues into games." Staying healthy is important, and he's been consistent.
Some slot receivers could see action on the outside. Roundtree, Grady, Terrance Robinson, and Odoms, could all play inside and outside. Nobody is separating at outside WR yet because they're all so close. There will be 5-6 guys who can play both receiver positions.
All the young receivers have been impressive, but there's only one new WR (DJ Williamson) since spring. The older guys are bringing them along. Evaluation comes in scrimmages, etc. Now, they're just making sure everyone is fundamentally sound. Je'Ron Stokes is coming along. "He's about where you'd think a redshirt kid would be."
Schofield and Lewan are "competing their butts off. Much improved." You always worry that redshirts might not prepare properly because they don't expect to play - but that doesn't seem to be the case. Quinton Washington has been working hard as well.
The interior line has a lot more experience now. Schilling and Molk have played a bunch, and last year Patrick got some games inside. Naturally they'll get better with experience. They're becoming leaders, and helping younger guys along.