It's been kind of a slow weekend for football-related news, but last night I sat down and graded the defense in the Sugar Bowl against Virginia Tech. Two freshmen (Frank Clark, Jake Ryan) graded out the best with two seniors (Mike Martin, Ryan Van Bergen) coming in just behind them. It was not a great night for the secondary.
Sugar Bowl grades
Do you expect Ryan to move to DE? Also do you expect Clark to start next year?
Ryan has already been playing defensive end in some packages, and I expect that to continue. But no, I don't expect him to move there full-time. I think he'll stay at SAM and we'll probably see Roh at 5-tech. Clark starting next year would not surprise me at all.
Future is bright.
was spectacular at times and meh at times. It did tend to end up on the spectacular end of the spectrum more often than not. Mattison will continually find ways to make this D work at its top gear. I just hope we can survive the loss of 2 of the best D linemen since Brandon Graham.
Nice analysis. I agree with most of these, but while watching the game I figured Countess would have the lowest grade on defense because he was being burnt by Hokie receivers all game long. Hopefully Clark builds on the success he had in the Sugar Bowl and I can't even imagine the potential that Ryan has entering his sophomore year. Losing Martin and Van Bergen is going to hurt so bad next year. I really am hoping that BWC, Ash and Washington can step up. I know Pipkins is getting a lot of praise but how likely is a true freshman going to start on the DL, let alone have a big impact. I think it may be tough for him to fulfill some of the expectations that us Michigan fans may have for him coming into his freshman year. Either way as long as Mattison is heading our D i think he will find a way to make our D solid no matter who we have. I feel like moving Ryan to DE may be for the best though since linebacker seems to be a strength of our team and DL is probably our weakness. I am expecting Roh to have a big year so having Ryan and Roh as the 2 DE's could be one of the better combos in the Big Ten.
Countess had a lot of negatives, but he also supported the run fairly well and he had very good coverage on a couple deep balls where he forced the receiver into the sideline. Teams seemed to pick up his weaknesses late in the season (OSU, Virginia Tech), but through the middle part of the year, I thought he was Michigan's best corner.
I think the expectations for Pipkins are too high for him to meet them. He'll probably still be decent, but once he got his fifth star on Rivals and did well at the AAA Bowl, people around here seem to be expecting greatness from Day 1.
But also lots of potential answers. Hopefully, Mattison is the difference and he figures out where all the pieces go.
Do you think BWC's consistency issues are related to his mental makeup or conditioning? The old saying "fatigue makes cowards of all of us" is true and at least visually, BWC looks to be quite out of shape. On the other hand there are players who simply don't remained focused mentally every play who are in fantastic condition.
When players CAN dominate but choose not to it on a consistent basis I wonder if the issue is hardware or software. What do you think and are his consistency issues "fixable"?
Frankly, I think it's mental more than anything. He looked to be in pretty good shape this year, but he still wasn't consistent with his technique. He had three years to get in shape and almost a full year of great coaching, and yet he still couldn't be consistent by early January 2012. I don't know how much more we can expect him to improve between now and the end of his senior year. I hope he does, but we'll see...
Did Brian ever get around to a Sugar Bowl UFR or did I just completely forget about it for some reason?
I don't think he got around to it.
There has been...no sugar UFR for the children. But we'll make it through the winter just the same.
but still, you have to give high marks to the Brunette Girls
Is a freak. If we are truly getting the best 11 on the field, he needs to be there.
Agreed. Unless his Sugar Bowl performance was a complete anomaly, I think he has to be a starter next year. And I think we need more playmaking from the WDE position than Roh/Black have been giving us.
Hard to believe, but he was listed at 210 in his recruiting profile:
I think his roster weight was in the 220s. Is it just me, or does he appear to be 240-something at this point?
Yeah, he's listed at 228 officially. I would guess he was in the high 230s by the end of the season.
Looks taller than 6'2'' as well. Both Clark and Jibreel Black are listed as 6'2'', in my minds eye, Clark is taller than Black
I do have a few questions for you Magnus.
1. Is the DE rotation something like this?
Clark at WDE, Black at SDE, and Roh being able to play either DE spot?
2. After next year, who do you see filling in for Kenny Demens at MLB spot?
Is Morgan a WLB all the way? or do you see him slipping inside to the MLB, and therefore paving a way for either Bolden, Ross, etc at the WILL?
3. Who do you project to be the starting defensive backfield next year?
I'd have to go with Countess, Floyd, Kovacs, Gordon, with Avery/Taylor fighting for Nickel and i also believe Jarrod Wilson has a good shot at seeing the field
1. I think Clark should play WDE and Roh should play SDE. Black can help out at SDE or even 3-tech, but I think he's behind the other two.
2. I think Morgan will play MIKE once Demens graduates. Morgan isn't an ideal WILL because he lacks some athleticism, but he's stout enough to shed fullbacks with consistency.
3. Countess, Floyd, Kovacs, and Gordon look to be the starting defensive backs next year. I think Avery will continue to be the nickel corner, and yes, I agree that Wilson will see the field. But starting a freshman at safety is risky business, so I doubt he'll start.
Going a little off question 1:
Is NT the same term as a 5-tech?
And if so, is Pipkens and Campbell both slated for that spot? Or if those two guys are the best players in the interior, is there a possibility for one to move to the 3-tech?
And also, i feel like we have some pretty solid talent at LB for the next couple years. With all these guys, how do you think the depth chart will shape up, lets say, in two years?
I feel like Beyer is very underated, and has some hidden talent, however it doesnt seem likely that he will overcome Ryan on the depthchart. Is it safe to say that the SAM is Ryan's for the next 3 years?
At the MLB, you already mentioned that Morgan will most likely move in the middle. In 2013, who do you think challenges him for that spot.
And last, the WILL. What do you feel the 2-deep will be in 2013?
NT is not the same term as "5-tech." The NT (nose tackle) would be referred to as a "1-tech." The "5-tech" plays on the strongside tackle's outside shoulder and is commonly referred to around here as the "SDE" or strongside defensive end.
2012: Jake Ryan at SAM (Beyer), Kenny Demens at MIKE (Morgan as main backup if Demens gets injured), Morgan at WILL (Ross).
2013: Jake Ryan at SAM (Beyer), Morgan at MIKE (Bolden), Ross at WILL (Poole)
I think Beyer is talented, but he's not ready yet. In an ideal world, I think he would have redshirted in 2011. But with Cam Gordon hurt, he needed to play. Beyer really didn't make any great plays in 2011, but he was mostly fundamentally sound and showed that he can be a solid player. Things were just moving a little too fast for him as a freshman.
1. I agree with Roh at SDE and Clark at WDE against spread teams and on passing downs, but it doesn't seem ideal against a power run team like Wisconsin (not on schedule), MSU or Iowa. Not much better option at SDE, but maybe later in the year we could play Roh at WDE, Washington at DT, Pipkins at NT, and Campbell (?) at SDE against these teams.
Campbell at defensive end? I don't think so.
I'm with Magnus; Campbell at SDE is preposterous. If anything the coaches will probably play either Black at WDE or move Roh over to WDE and start Black at SDE. That is assuming that Clark can't hold up against running teams. Quickness and agility can be a valuable asset in attacking the run also.
...was there ever a Sugar Bowl UFR? Could not find one with a search.
Nope. I already searched for it.
I appreciate what you did Magnus, but this just makes me lust more for Brian's actual UFR. I wonder if he'll get around to it.
Loved your breakdown. I read in on TTB before you posted this thread and really enjoyed it.
I will echo a couple of thoughts already expressed: I thought Countess would have graded worse and Clark not quite as dominant. Any thoughts about Floyd next year? He had some great moments this (like the Illinois game) and some pretty bad ones (MSU and a terrible blown coverage against Ohio). With the grade you gave him in the Sugar Bowl, that is a pretty unfortunate finish to the season. You spent some time discussing BWC and whether his lapses were physical or mental. What about Floyd?
Keep up the good work.
Thanks for the report, Magnus. The defense played well for the most part, but it was frustrating to watch VaTech pick up all those third and longs. Those plays seemed to be a combination of not getting pressure on the QB as well as breakdowns in coverage.
Mike Martin got out of his rush lane a couple times, which allowed Logan Thomas to scramble for yardage. And Van Bergen was hobbled, which I think cost Michigan a little bit in the pass rush, too. I also thought a quicker WILL (like James Ross, perhaps) could have chased down Logan Thomas once or twice, but I'm not knocking Morgan - he did an admirable job for a freshman.
It is a testament to Mattison that the defense performed as well as it did because I believe the speed of the back seven is sorely lacking. This disconcerting thing was V tech converting so many third downs on the ground. This appears to me to be an athleticism and strength in the back seven problem. Their wide recievers man handled our smaller cornerbacks but having said all that the number of freshman (true and redshirt) on the two deep was astounding. Honestly I am very impressed by how this defense performed and if the D Line can penetrate from the ends and push in the middle (they don't have to attack like this years line did on the interior) the back seven should be stronger and faster next year.
Magnus as always awesome work. You give a professional perspective, pull no punches and I am honestly far more knowledgeable after reading your evaluations.
Luckily, I think the back seven will be improving in the next couple years, once the coaches get some new recruits in there. Thomas Gordon is not an ideal free safety, Countess was just a freshman who was essentially forced into playing, and J.T. Floyd is mediocre. I think it's important that Michigan gets a big-time corner in the 2013 recruiting class, though. I wish Standifer could have signed with Michigan...
I'm with you on Standifer. I'd love to add any corner that can play who is over 6' tall. It would be worthwhile even if they only substituted in to match another team's tall receiver.
Does your comment about needing a big time corner imply a lack of faith in Richardson? I'll always take more stud CB's, but long term Countess-Richardson seems like a good start especially with Avery, Taylor and Hollowell for depth.
No, I like Richardson, but I also like big corners. Avery, Countess, and Richardson aren't very tall.
Ryan is my favorite player on the team and reminds me a ton of Clay Matthews...showing glimpses of being a poor mans Matthews. And isn't Ryan further along at this age than Matthews was??? I'm gonna make a bold prediction and say that Ryan will have a real career in the NFL.
Ryan's definitely further along than Clay Matthews was at the same stage. Matthews didn't really make an impact at USC until his fifth year, IIRC.
Isn't it ironic, that our two of our more promising young players, are from the Cleveland area, which is and has been very pro-OSU... Two three star players and I think neither were offered by them. And how great will it be if Willie Henry continues it, making OSU eat crow in that area.
I don't know if that's "ironic"... Michigan has had several good players from the Cleveland area, including Elvis Grbac, Desmond Howard, and Pierre Woods.
Also, they can play the Jonathin Hankins card so we can't so are smugness is limited.
Ryan definitely has the potential to be a superstar, his pursuit of Wilson during the Sugar Bowl for the loss of 20+ yards, was a combination of speed and proper angle. He may end up being UM's version of Laurenitis a 3 star who turned into an absolute monster.
Some ideas to just throw around...
I actually think that by 2013 Bolden will be the starter at MIKE and Ross at WILL, not sure if likely especially with Morgan havng two years of starting experience (presumably) but I really think this is how you get your 11 best athletes on the field. Morgan would be a key reserve who could sub in at either of those two spots.
I think what we learned from the Troy Woolfolk situation is that these coaches respect experience/age. If the competition is close, I think they'll play the older guy. So unless Bolden blows everyone else away, Morgan is going to be tough to beat out.
then the coaches must have really disliked the play for Hawthorne, Jones, and Herron to move Morgan in front of them.
I think Morgan is going to have a heckuva fight to hold off Ross and Bolden. Actually, I'm just excited that we might have depth at the LB position after the Obi Ezeh experience.
Jones isn't very good, and Hawthorne made some bonehead plays to get himself benched. Meanwhile, Herron got injured early and didn't really recover until toward the end of the season. By then Morgan had improved to the point where I think the coaches said "Eh, these guys are about even, and Herron's gone after this year. Let's just keep developing the young guy."
Magnus - Do you think Cam Gordon ever sees the field again or is he burried in the depth chart?
I definitely think Cam Gordon will see the field again in some capacity. He's too aggressive of an athlete to be benched forever. If it's not at SAM, then I think we'll see him play at tight end. I'm wondering if moving Beyer to WDE means they want Gordon to be the backup SAM and/or battle it out with Jake Ryan for the starting spot.