seems like every year people talk about people breaking out at those positions or 'doing really good things' and then it's always 'meh'. I've learned to translate
looking great = fine
doing good things = not doing awful things
Recently, Brady Hoke sat down with ESPN and answered questions posed to him about the football team he's in charge of. This business resulted a bunch of personnel questions, and the responses were quite a bit less vague than they might have been.
Offensive line stuffs. The thing that leaps off the page:
Well, I think the interior of both lines, there's going to be a lot of competition. We've got to find a center, and that's between [Jack] Miller and [Graham] Glasgow, and Joey Burzynski will try to figure that out a little bit, too. At the guard positions, Ben Braden is going to move down inside and start out at the left guard, but he'll have a lot of competition because Burzynski is back and so is Blake Bars. Kyle Kalis will move into the right side, and it will be interesting again with [Kyle] Bosch and some of the guys who have been here a little bit. I think it will be a really good competition at all three of those inside positions.
The Braden move puts him on the same path Michael Schofield took to the starting right tackle job: an apprenticeship at LG and then lockdown at RT. Braden's listed an inch shorter than Schofield on the official site, if you're worried about guys getting under him and blowing him up. FWIW, Hoke also talks up Schofield extensively ("really good winter" … "real bright spots" last year, "special deployed").
I'm not sure why Michigan would flip Kalis, but for whatever reason it seems like they prefer future right tackles getting their first playing time to hang out at left guard instead of right. Maybe it's about spatial orientation: when a left guard pulls he ends up on the right side of the line, and if that pull turns into pass protection it's more natural for Once and Future Right Tackle to execute that. Or maybe it's about having Kalis pull to Lewan's side of the line, a prospect that Hoke must be drooling about after a couple years of having the (relatively) slight and inexperienced (at pulling, anyway) Patrick Omameh as the guard pulling to Lewan on power plays to the left.
Hoke also acknowledges that the three tech and SDE spots are close to interchangeable:
The other Glasgow is thrown in there, yes; Hoke also brings up Strobel and Heitzman separately; Ondre Pipkins is oddly in this heap of guys. Implication: they will give him a shot to win the three-tech job and if it happens they'll find a backup for Quinton Washington somehow (Ash or Henry, probably). If I was betting I'd put my money on Wormley with Pipkins getting extensive time behind Washington or both guys.
norfleet obession: still poppin' (Melanie Maxwell, MLive)
Keeping Derrick Green's seat warm. Norfleet is at running back, as you know, and Drake Johnson is building on a bit of bowl practice hype. Then there's this telling sentence:
Thomas Rawls is coming back, and I think he learned a lot last year about the vision he needs to play with, and I like how he's competed through the [winter].
He's the third back mentioned, behind Norfleet and the redshirted Johnson. I'd say he'd still have a role as a short-yardage back, but 1) he wasn't any good at that last year and 2) DeVeon Smith and Derrick Green, especially Green.
Exit? At linebacker it's just a bunch of names, but should we read something between the lines when Hoke brings up Kaleb Ringer returning from injury but not Antonio Poole? Michigan is currently at 87 players. Due to Big Ten rules they've already had to explain to the league where those two scholarships are coming from, so it's just a matter of announcing it.
Dollars to donuts we get the announcement of a couple of departures/medical scholarships Thursday, when the Hoke has his first presser. One guy apparently not on that list: fifth-year-to-be Mike Jones, to-date little used and seemingly like a candidate for a firm handshake. Hoke brought him up in the linebacker procession of names.
Other stuff. Rittenberg asks about the other position groups as well, but nothing there is particularly surprising. I think Hoke mentions literally every scholarship DB on the roster save Delonte Hollowell*; linebacker is obvious to all; Blake Countess will do "some things" this spring, so his injury is still hampering him. The first WRs up after the senior slots are Darboh and Chesson, and then this is a little worrying:
And I think Jeremy Jackson has had a very good winter; we're very excited about some of the progress he's made. Joe Reynolds is a guy who walked on here, and he's done a very nice job. And Bo Dever, his dad played here and he walked on.
Options other than those two guys include two walk-ons and Jeremy Jackson. Really could have used an instant impact WR guy in this class. Obvious sentence is obvious.
*[Which you might read something into if you were so inclined. Michigan was clearly petrified of putting either Hollowell or Richardson on the field in the bowl game despite the fact that South Carolina's receivers were the best matchup possible for them (ie, short). Richardson can say he's a true freshman. Hollowell not so much. Greener pastures may beckon.]
seems like every year people talk about people breaking out at those positions or 'doing really good things' and then it's always 'meh'. I've learned to translate
looking great = fine
doing good things = not doing awful things
Smart move. Unless people are drooling over a kid's potential, then you shouldn't get too excited about someone "doing good things" or "having a good winter."
The Brady Hoke Memorial Spring Hype Award, it's kind of like the Madden cover curse. You get hyped as someone who could beat out a scholarship player but by September you've fallen off the face of the earth.
I think what you say has some merit, but more so, teams tend to be right hand strong, so they typically prefer to run to the right. My guess is they want Kalis there now and in the future to hold down that key running position. When they run power right, they need to have a plow that can get a DT out of that hole now. Go outside of that and you need to be able to get a solid push on a DE and drive him somewhere.
On the flip side, LG has a few more pass pro responsibilities. With DE playing wider against the LT, there is more room that the LG also needs to make up, and a lot of teams will B gap blitz there, stunt the OLB and DE or DT and DE. So there really needs to be a more pass pro oriented player there, which is why putting your future RT there makes a bit more sense, and your future and forever RG roadgrader at RG.
Is it also possible that it's easier to be a guard next to Lewan than next to anyone else? You can trust that the guy next to you is going to do his job and don't have to worry about helping him double someone. If so, this could mean Kalis is further ahead of Braden, which makes sense given all of Kalis's "college-ready" hype as a recruit and that Braden is newer to playing guard.
I think Schofield is just as likely to know his assignment as Lewan (remember, Lewan wasn't infallible last year, Smith v Clowney was probably more on him than the TE).
Besides that, doubles typically come from the design of the play more so than the personnel. You double at the point of attack based on the run play called and the defensive alignment, whether those guys are good enough to release and get to a LB or what have you will more likely adjust your play calling than personnel positions along the line. You shift your pass pro based on what you see or who needs help. In fact, if Lewan needs a double, he'll more likely get it from a chipping TE or RB than the LG, so you almost expect the LG to be single blocking or combo with the C on pass pro just as often as you see a RG combo with another O-lineman. You can do little tweaks (last year Michigan actually began pulling the tackles some when the guards weren't getting it done), but for the most part that wouldn't be a reason to swap guards, because you're going ot try to at least mirror your techniques and keys, etc, rather than (for example) have a RG pull but have a LT pull rather than the LG.
For the proper perspective, it seems that the RT-LG switch has solid reasoning behind it, although I couldn't say what it is. The Pros do, though. It seems to happen a lot in the NFL. As an example, Willie Colon, (fomerly) of the Steelers moved between RT and LG.
So if we were to line up in a 5 WR set (which i doubt we'll ever do because it doesn't play to our strengths), the lineup would be something like: Gallon, Dileo, Darboh, Chesson, Jackson by default?
Ack...keep 3 WR sets all day. We need Drake Harris, and we need Chesson/ Darboh/ Damario Jones to come on in practice
Funchess would almost certainly be simply split out in that sort of set. Most likely they would also probably throw someone like Hayes or Norfleet out there. Michigan won't be running any pure 5 WR sets, if they split 5 out, they would use personnel to try to keep defenses in their base package or at most nickel and try to take advantage of mismatches that way.
Still, as you said, I doubt we see any 5 wide from this team. Maybe the occassional 4 wide with a TE split. Also don't write off Reynolds. He's not just good at blocking, he is also deceptive in and out of breaks. He's a guy that seems to understand how to run good routes and get enough seperation to get open underneath (won't stretch the field any time soon probably). He can be a solid third or forth option as a WR.
I agree on Reynolds. From purely an athletic standpoint (not counting knowledge of playbook, work habits, etc.), I would have him higher on the depth chart than Jackson.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't remember any five-wide sets from 2012. If there's an empty backfield, the "wideouts" will almost certainly include at least one back and/or at least one tight end.
But it was strictly as a way to spread the field out for designed Denard draws, IIRC. I don't think they want to run DG that way often (maybe by the goalline Borges would call a play like this), but I don't see really any reason for them to pass out of a five wide more than a few times at most this year.
I, personally, have always hated 5-wide sets for several reasons: no RB to threaten run; no lead blocker for any QB run; no threat of even a chip or overload blitz pick up. I think you can occassionally sprinkle it in a system (obviously you can use it a lot, as Texas Tech had done in the past with success, but my philosophy, or what I believe Borges' is, doesn't fit that mold) with some quick passing game (slants, hitch, screen, fly (perhaps off a fake screen), fade) and draws, but I think Michigan's long term success doesn't include going to that well often.
"Brady, go out and win it" mode, how many wide receivers they used in formation. I know what they did was very much what you said in an above post - a TE out, or the back running into a slot. I pretty much agree that teams with 5 receiver sets as a staple aren't usually putting out an NFL terror out there as their 5th or even 4th receiver. Even when Michigan had great receiver depth (and it wasn't a TE or HB) the last guy was more likely to be a reliable senior/walk on type going short than a freshman uber-talent. Freshmen receivers have rarely had big first years at Michigan.
Well those are the only scholarship & non-true freshmen WRs this season.
Like all things with Hoke, there is more than a possibility for a ton of coach speak here. "______ had a good winter" is about as easy of a thing to say as there is without throwing a kid under the bus. The only thing I really take from that means that they at least weren't lazy over the winter.
For RB: no mention at all of Hayes makes you wonder a bit. It's possible they are going to try to move him around a bit and see what else he can do. (EDIT: nevermind, Hayes mentioned right after Rawls in the actual article, though what was said of him sounds a bit like the point I made; Hoke almost seems more positive about him than Rawls).
WR: Jackson is case and point for "had a good winter". It means nothing. This team is scary thin at WR this spring.
Pipkins: My guess is he rotates in as a back-up at both Nose and 3-tech. I doubt they go with someone other than Washington or Pipkins at nose unless Ash has made good progress or passing down is obvious. Henry I don't think fits there at this point. There are plenty of guys that can step in and play the 3-tech that Washington or Pipkins should be able to get the rest they need and not have to play someone else at the nose.
Center: Sounds not sold on Miller yet, which, yeah... that could stretch out through the summer.
Maybe it's just me, but I took literally nothing out of that interview. Hoke hasn't had a problem misleading the media, and I've never really found a strong correlation with what Hoke says in pressers to what actually happens outside of the obvious starters who have positions locked down.
Yeah...Nathan Brink, Devin Gardner, Barnum vs. Mealer, etc. Hoke understands that the media don't have to know everything that goes on behind closed doors. And while it's sort of a refreshing trait, it also makes for somewhat boring interviews/press conferences because there's a good chance that everything coming out of his mouth is spin.
The one thing I've noticed about Hoke, especially in the spring, is that everything is practice, nothing is performance. He puts players in odd/new positions to try things out. Also he seems really intent on getting stuff on film for later review by the players, so he cycles through a lot of formations in addition to the player swaps.
I expect 2014 is the first year he could do a true scrimmage for the spring game. But that won't change the rest of the practice time being "all business".
the only aspects he can't hide are which players are still injured too much to participate.
And if one of your assistant coaches has a son on the team, I'm pretty sure he's going to get mentioned and it will be positive spin fluff.
and it's like Russel Bellomy has left the team, at least in the fans minds. I think he is a key guy to watch in spring practice to at least see if he's shaken off his "shell shock" injury from Nebraska.
I wonder what Texas A&M told them.
since Texas A&M isn't in the Big Ten
Texas A&M is at 87 just like Michigan. The SEC doesn't have a 25 limit per class.
You linked a great article on how Saban still finds 'creative' ways around the limit.
I guess what I meant is they can backdate as many as they want as long as they are at 85. I think you can only backdate up to 3 in the B1G regardless if you have room. I am probably completely wrong about this though.
are not mentioned, but guys behind them are. telling?
doesn't seem to bode well to me. Even if it just means he won't be able to play in the spring, he'll still have a ton of catching up to do. With the lack of depth at OL, that would mean an even less experienced player at the guard spot. Hopefully it will work out fine though.
others are probably where the attrition has set in. Maybe not just attrition but a mixture of that and medical issues. Inferred in this here article.
Trying to decode and make sense of coach-speak is no easier than trying to figure out what the North Koreans have up their sleeve based upon the dear leader's latest speech.
And about as accurate.
All you'd have to do for that is check Dennis Rodman's Twitter, no?
Back on-topic: Braden looks big enough to swallow that kid next to him in that picture. My god is he huge. Can't wait to see him serving pancakes all around the B1G.
Nope, Rodman has moved on to Rome, where he's helping to predict the next Pope. Seriously.
but, coming from somebody who played Rockford every year in football, their runningbacks are generally 5'5" max. They go the short and stout route and the guy standing next to him is in that same mold.
Interesting tactic really. Considering the talent pool they have to pull from I'm sure they could find a 6' bruiser but I can't argue with their numbers. They were always very successful running the ball with those smaller guys.
Edit: I'm speaking about Braden. Thought I clicked reply to somebody commenting on his ability to consume the player he is standing next to in the picture.
at Braden, Kalis, Morris, etc. in the Big House Barbeque pic. Braden is just huge, and I thought he would be a starter at tackle this fall.
I understand that Fitz is hurt and won't participate this spring (at least in full pads), but to not even mention him when you are mentioning Deveon Smith and Derrick Green doesn't seem fair. Fitz was starting to look pretty decent between the tackles (despite pathetic interior line play) the last couple games till the injury, his weakness were those ridiculous wide sweep plays we had him running. On those plays the blocking sucked by the WR's and he also couldn't turn the corner most times.
I think Fitz will come back next year with something to prove, and I also think the interior line will be more built for straight ahead run blocking for between the tackle running, giving him some good holes. The loss of Denard (which will cause everbody else to have to step up their production) and, most likely, the improvement of our passing game with Gardner, Funchess, Gallon, and (hopefully) Chesson or Darboh stepping up should spread the defense out a bit, and open up running lanes. I think next year, even though no Denard, Roundtree, or Smith, we have a more diverse cast of wepons that will keep the Defense guessing, plus better interior line and RB play. I do think Green will contribute, especially come B1G play when we need more depth and playmakers.
My completely opinionated and un-called for predictions for the production of our running game in 2013:
Fitz- 1000 yds, 10-12 TD's, at least 4.5 ypc.
Green- 500 yds, 4-7 TD's, 4.5 ypc
Gardner- 500 yds, 7-10 TD's, 6 ypc
Norfleet- 350 yds, 3 TD's, 6-7 ypc
Rawls- 200 yds, 3 TD's, 3-4 ypc (lots of short yardage)
Hayes- 150 yds, 1 TD, 4-5 ypc
Johnson- 120 yds, 1 TD, 5 ypc
I hope I am right too.
Poor Damn Toussaint
2,820 rushing yards? That's a hell of a lot of yards for a team with an unproven interior offensive line and, most importantly, without a quarterback who can run for 1,200-1,800 yards.
There's no way Michigan will get that kind of production unless something miraculous happens and Barry Sanderson comes out of retirement with college eligibility remaining.
Was he any good? I bet he wasn't as good as Barry Sanders was though.
He lacked top-end speed, probably because of the extra two letters stitched on his back.
Said when you broke down his youtube film
this is more of a best case scenario, obviously...i know these are all scewed well in our favor. I do think we will get much better production from our backs next year...at least enough to give the defense some rest....remember, our 1997 team had a lot of unproven young linemen as well. Couple that with the fact that we have a favorable schedule and the B1G will still be down as a whole. I do think that Toussaint and Green will be our 1 and 2 rushers.
I honest doubt Michigan has a 1000 yard rusher this year. I think Fitz, if healthy, has a much more limited role and is around 800. His backup, Green probably, is around probably in the 600s. You then probably get in the 300s from DG (not nearly as many designed runs, sacks going against him), and then mop up duty from Hayes, Rawls, Johnson, WRs, FBs, etc for another 300s-400s.
That puts the team around 2100-2200 for the year. This puts them ~50 nationally, but the offense will be much more balanced and the passing numbers will go up. For perspective, Michigan ran for around 2400 last year.
Temporal? I have my doubts. This is nothing but a misdirection play.
What can be read from Hoke's tea leaves I have no idea.
But this I know ... I love all this nuts-and-bolts talk about positions. Fascinating.
I've also come to accept my football addiction. God help me, I love it. I love it so.
Hagerup is a possibility of a non-returnee
Nice to have so many good options on the OL.
So a certain former 2012 4 Star tackle from Cali is unmentioned, yikes!
Yeah, there is no competition at either tackle spot, so that wash mentioned. If Magnuson is awesome, he's not seeing the field at tackle anyway. Does it say something that Braden was moved and not Magnuson? Maybe, but not that he isn't good, just that he's not as good at Guard in 2013. That doesn't mean he won't be a great tackle in 2014 though.
EM isn't an interior player. His body isn't fit to be one. He is long and would struggle to get leverage inside. He's a tackle prospect all the way. On the other hand Braden has a body that can play either guard or RT. So that's probably why Braden is getting looks inside while EM is continuing to get reps behind two solidified starters at tackle.
Exactly. Braden is built like Steve Hutchinson - tall and built like a tree trunk from top to bottom. Magnuson has a thin lower body and is more of a finesse player.
I don't know if ability always supercedes optimal traits, depending on how far apart Braden and Magnuson are in ability. If Braden's physical traits are a much better fit at OG than Magnuson's are (which could be the case) it's possible Magnuson has every bit the ability that Braden has or even slightly more, but Braden just makes a better guard. Some guys have a skill set that makes them more versatile, and some guys do one thing really well but aren't as flexible to move to other spots.
Or, as you alluded to, it could just be that Braden's body is more ready for Big Ten football than Magnuson's, which means very little going forward since I'm sure Magnuson will catch up. Lewan's body wasn't ready as a RS frosh either (both he and EM were "underweight" recruits), and I promise you we wouldn't have heard from him that year if M had 2 5th year senior returning starters at the tackle spots.
Fine, agree to disagree. I think Braden playing says good things about Braden certainly, but I don't think it says anything bad about Magnuson. I also think you're over-simplifying the differences between those two OL positions.
As for your third paragraph - yes, that is how is usually works. Some guys show up near-ready physically and some need to bulk up, but that tends to even out after a couple years. Every OL we've recruited lately, regardless of whether he hit campus at 240 or 300+ finished his career between 300-310, with very few exceptions. Lewan was only about 280 as a RS frosh, but he added weight just fine. I think Magnuson will do that same.
My main point is that we don't know the coaches' reasoning for playing Ben Braden over EM at the guard spot, but concluding "this means BB will be a better OT than EM" is taking it way too far.
You're bringing back two senior starting tackles. Him seeing playing time means something really bad happened.