Unverified Voracity Gets It Right The Second Time

Unverified Voracity Gets It Right The Second Time

Submitted by Brian on November 29th, 2017 at 1:01 PM

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[Eric Upchurch]

Malzone exit. Alex Malzone's long-rumored transfer is now official. This was foretold last year, when Michigan had a three-way QB competition in which Malzone was guy #4. He's graduating and will have two years to play somewhere else, so that's not the worst deal: a degree and a shot to see the field.

Why aren't various MSU honchos in jail? Larry Nassar was shielded from consequences for twenty years because of the upper management at Michigan State:

Nassar also worked at Michigan State. For two decades, the public university paid him, provided him with facilities, referred student-athletes from across the athletic department to his practice, showered him with awards, and even used his work with the Olympic team as a recruiting tool. This is despite the fact that, between 1997 and 2015, at least seven girls and women raised concerns about Nassar’s actions to authority figures at the school — including trainers, police, and MSU university officials.

Despite what Michigan State would like you to believe, a pedophile who allegedly perpetrated abuse on such an enormous scale cannot exist in a vacuum. So how will this prominent university and athletic department be held accountable for their involvement in the abuse of more than 140 people?

PSU people went to jail in shame. The institutional behavior here is just as bad. And yet. MSU is also facing a Title IX lawsuit that alleges MSU let Keith Mumphrey back on campus after supposedly banning him. And nobody cares about this! Graham Couch is too busy thinking up MLK day zingers to notice.

So much for San Diego. Per Brett McMurphy, Michigan is a "lock" to play in the Outback Bowl. There they'd get South Carolina, another 8-4 team with a thin resume. S&P+ thinks this is an awesome matchup for Michigan, as it thinks South Carolina is really a 6-6 team masquerading as an 8-4 team; they rank 67th, with an offense that's a bit worse than Michigan's and a mediocre defense. S&P+ would favor Michigan by 9 or 10, which is a huge statistical gap for a nominally even matchup against an SEC team.

Exit one thorn, one potential thorn. PSU offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead is the new coach at Mississippi State. This is a good idea, and not just because it gets him out of the Big Ten. Moorhead managed to put together a very functional Penn State offense without an offensive line. Other names in the Mississippi State search included Brent Venables and Jeremy Pruitt, which is refreshingly sane in a world where Tennessee is doing Tennessee things and Arizona State is interviewing Herm Edwards.

Speaking of:

Poor damn Purdue. Don't even get to have the 9-3 season before SEC teams start horning in on your best idea since Joe Tiller. If Tennessee does pull this off, an internet flash mob that hated the Schiano hire will get an excellent result because they revolted against a person just in charge of things.

ASU, on the other hand, should immediately fire their athletic director. He used to be an agent, which is insane to begin with, and one of his clients used to be Herm Edwards. The Herm Edwards who hasn't coached, at all, since 2008. The Herm Edwards who is 63. The Herm Edwards who says he'd keep Todd Graham's coordinators, virtually announcing he'd be a figurehead before the job even starts. Gob-smacking!

Here's a nice pat on the head though. Even Spike Albrecht thinks this is audacious, Moorhead:

Sources told FootballScoop that Moorhead targeted Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown to join him at Mississippi State, but Brown will remain in Ann Arbor.

That's from Football Scoop and thus may be total balderdash—remember when the guy behind it started trolling the message board?—but it's funny to imagine that conversation.

J: "Hey, Don."
D: "Yeah?"
J: "Feel like leaving Rashan Gary and eight other returning starters from a top ten defense to come to Starkville?"
*dialtone*

That's fine, because Mississippi State fans didn't want him anyway.

Hall transfer watch might still be on. Seth posted the news item about JaRaymond Hall staying but the statement itself is pretty noncommittal, noting he's "made no decision" on his future; Sam Webb still asserts that he did receive a release, which is almost always the prelude to a departure.

This reminds me of the time that I told everyone Sam McGuffie was going to transfer and then twisted in the wind for a week as he waffled on whether to stay or go. That suuuuuuucked, and I stopped reporting about transfers as a result. Dang people can change their dang minds, I tellya.

Might be a thing where he goes through bowl practices and makes a final decision afterwards.

Vicious Vic: the revengening! There was a great catastrophic despair in the MGoSlack when this happened:

Vic Viramontes, a dual-threat junior college quarterback from Riverside (Calif.) City College, announced on Twitter on Monday that he has verbally committed to the Gophers.

“I would like to announce that I am officially committed to the University of Minnesota! #RowTheBoat’’ Viramontes tweeted.

“I can’t wait to play for the Golden Gophers!’’ Viramontes also tweeted. ...

Viramontes, a freshman at Riverside and a transfer from Cal, passed for 1,868 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushed for 1,346 yards and 21 TDs this season for Riverside, which lost in the SoCal championship game on Saturday. The Norco, Calif., native spent the 2016 season as a redshirt at Cal. He would have three seasons of eligibility remaining with Minnesota.

Viramontes is the quintessential Minnesota quarterback and is almost certainly going to start since Connor Rhoda's eligibility expired and Demry Croft is transferring after being suspended in week two for some sort of door incident he says he wasn't responsible for. The rest of Minnesota's quarterbacks were worse than Croft. Therefore: the Viramontes era.

Will be fascinating to see how he does.

Etc.: College football is popular amongst gamblers, and the Times is on it. Mississippi State even has Hugh-Freeze-exposing recruiting reporters. They're living right. Detroit one of four finalists for two near-term MLS expansion slots. If they don't get it this time around they'll try again for the next two.

Preview 2017: Quarterback

Preview 2017: Quarterback

Submitted by Brian on August 28th, 2017 at 2:01 PM

Previously: Podcast 9.0A. Podcast 9.0B. Podcast 9.0C. The Story.

DOES THIS THING HAVE A DIFFICULTY LEVEL HARDER THAN "INSANE"

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The Law of Harbaugh: it doesn't matter who your QB is

Jim Harbaugh is a kid sitting in a basement frustrated because Dark Souls is too easy. Sure, he crafted the first draft pick of any variety in San Diego history. He beat USC with a pottery major. He got Alex Smith a 70-million dollar contract. He nearly won a Super Bowl with a guy the league is currently passing over in favor of Stoney Case. (For bad reasons, admittedly.) And he turned an Iowa castoff into an NFL draft pick and in-demand trade bait:

Quarterbacks? Quarterbacks are easy. He has all the Quarterbacka Universalis IV achievements. Except one: take a quarterback recruited by Al Borges and have him finish his career as the starter. It's never happened. Never! Never ever ever. And no wonder. This Speight quote from last year only gets more boggling 12 months later:

"In their eyes, myself, David Cornwell, and this kid from IMG Academy Michael O'Connor are the best quarterbacks in the nation in this class."

Cornwell and O'Connor were both nowhere near the two deep before they transferred, Cornwell to Nevada and O'Connor to UBC. As in British Columbia.

The Borges achievement wasn't going to happen this time either, because John O'Korn was going to swoop in and gun-sling his way into our hearts. Then it did happen. Wilton Speight, a redshirt sophomore who played a chunk of the season with something deeply wrong with his collarbone, was the second-most efficient QB in the Big Ten, averaged nearly eight yards an attempt, and had a 18-7 TD-INT ratio. He's already the best Borges-recruited QB ever, easily outstripping Cam Coffman's 6.7 YPA (and subsequent move to TE) in 2012.

At this point I'm willing to see what the Harbaugh version of Denard Robinson looks like under center. Just in case.

[After THE JUMP: references marginally less dorky than EUIV!]

Preview 2016: Quarterback

Preview 2016: Quarterback

Submitted by Brian on August 29th, 2016 at 12:35 PM

Previously: Podcast 8.0. The Story.

IT JUST SO HAPPENS THAT YOUR QUARTERBACK HERE IS ONLY MOSTLY DEAD

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The Law of Harbaugh: it doesn't matter who your QB is [Bryan Fuller]

Midway through last season this space was openly wondering if Jake Rudock had some sort of disease that prevented him from doing quarterback good. Many theories were theorized. Eastern Shriveled Limb. Leaf's Palsy. The Harrington Syndrome. Akili's Aphid Aphasia. Whatever it was, it warn't good. Headstones were prepared. Ornamental flowers were arranged. Tuxes were rented. Boyz II Men was booked to sing "End Of The Road."

Then Jake Rudock erupted flaming from his own corpse. Pro Football Focus's #150 quarterback out of 159 qualifiers through week nine put the sword to a series of pass defenses ranging from comical (Indiana) to Nazgul in helmets (OSU, Florida), pulled his team's ass out of the fire repeatedly, finished as the second most efficient quarterback in the Big Ten, and got drafted. By the time the smoke cleared last year's Rudock MGo-prediction had gone from a millstone I'd wear around my neck until the end of time to dead on, as it were:

Rudock starts the whole year and turns in a season like last year at Iowa except more efficient: 60% completions, 8 YPA, excellent TD/INT.

64%, 7.8 YPA, 20-9 TD/INT. Rack it? Is that what we say? Someone with a moist goatee tell me the etiquette here.

Anyway. Rudock's surge from Iowa leftovers to sixth-round pick now goes on the Harbaugh quarterback tote board:

  • helped Rich Gannon(!) win the 2002 NFL MVP award,
  • developed non-scholarship San Diego's Josh Johnson into a third-place finisher for the Walter Payton, the I-AA Heisman, and the first draft pick in school history,
  • recruited and developed Andrew Luck,
  • salvaged Alex Smith's NFL career and got him a huge contract despite the fact that he simultaneously...
  • advocated for, drafted, and developed Colin Kaepernick into a legit starting NFL QB when few thought he could make the transition from the Nevada pistol, and
  • molded would-be Iowa backup Jake Rudock into a sixth-round draft pick.

The only point in Harbaugh's coaching career that he didn't have a quarterback somewhere between good and great was his first two years at a 1-11 Stanford program that had been driven off several increasingly tall cliffs before his arrival. And one of those guys beat USC at the height of its Pete Carroll power.

On one level, "who is the starting quarterback?" is the single most critical question about the 2016 Michigan Wolverines. On another level, eh, it'll be fine.

[After THE JUMP: people on this year's roster!]

Spring Stuff, 2016: Feelingsball and Offense

Spring Stuff, 2016: Feelingsball and Offense

Submitted by Brian on April 4th, 2016 at 1:22 PM

First, a little feelingsball

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[Eric Upchurch]

Spring games are notorious for being a little data amidst an ocean of noise, so as always take everything here with a grain of salt. And this section isn't even a concrete observation about a player, so doubly so here. But… my favorite thing that happened on Friday wasn't a play.

It was the aftermath of the two-point conversion, when the white team poured onto the field like they'd just won the Super Bowl and blue team coach Chris Partridge roared off the sideline to have a Harbaugh-level conniption fit at the ref.

A couple other coaches reacted similarly, if not as dramatically, as Partridge; the white team organized at midfield for a photo. Wyatt Shallman headbanged like there was no tomorrow. Drake Johnson collapsed in a heap.

I tweeted to Ace that he should title the recap "Controversial finish mars Spring Game ending,"* because that was funny. It's only funny because it's kind of true.

This is a different thing now. Last year's team was good but it was still caught between being a program that apologizes for a tent stake and a program whose DGAF levels are off the charts. Judging from the reactions of everyone involved on both sides, the all-competition-all-the-time ethos has sunk in. That more than anything else makes me anticipate the upcoming season.

This concludes your feelingsball portion of the program.

*[He did not, and I was all like ಠ_ಠ.]

Highlights

[After THE JUMP: position by position breakdowns of what we learned on offense]

Preview 2015: Quarterback

Preview 2015: Quarterback

Submitted by Brian on August 27th, 2015 at 1:55 PM

Previously: Podcast 7.0. The Story.

Jan 3, 2011; Miami, FL, USA; Stanford Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck (12) and head coach Jim Harbaugh celebrate after defeating the Virginia Tech Hokies 40-12 in the 2011 Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

to be the man you gotta recruit the man

QUARTERBACK Yr
Jake Rudock Sr.*
Shane Morris Jr.
Alex Malzone Fr.

It's a new era in all possible ways at quarterback. Michigan has exhausted their supply of raw passers with thrilling athleticism; they have also cast aside the previous coaching staff in favor of one in which the head coach is also the QB coach. He is one of the best in the country. Possibly the best.

In Harbaugh's tenure as a coach he…

  • helped Rich Gannon(!) win the 2002 NFL MVP award,
  • developed non-scholarship San Diego's Josh Johnson into a third-place finisher for the Walter Payton, the I-AA Heisman, and the first draft pick in school history,
  • recruited and developed Andrew Luck,
  • made Alex Smith look like a legit NFL QB just long enough for him to sign what some regard as the worst contract in the NFL, and
  • advocated for, drafted, and developed Colin Kaepernick into a legit starting NFL QB when few thought he could make the transition from the Nevada pistol.

That is strike after strike after strike in not only player development but also talent identification. The contrast between Harbaugh and Al Borges*, who has still never seen a quarterback he recruited start as an upperclassman, could not be greater.

So when Harbaugh saw the state of the most important position in football at Michigan, it's no surprise that he reacted like Kirby. Harbaugh imported a grad transfer (Jake Rudock), a regular transfer (John O'Korn), a second quarterback recruit in 2015, and two recruits in 2016.

Only one of those guys is relevant to this preview: the graduate.

*[Doug Nussmeier has a good track record but only had a year in which it was difficult to make an impact. The only QB on the roster he is responsible for bringing in is freshman Alex Malzone.]

HE CAME FROM DEEPEST IOWA IN SEARCH OF RECEIVERS AND LOVE

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Rudock was kind of a big deal at media day [Bryan Fuller]

RATING: 3

JAKE RUDOCK will find at least one as long as he keeps his interception rate where it was last year.

Michigan's previous quarterback, Devin Gardner, turned into a turnover piñata sometime after his soul left his body for the third time. While it's hard to blame him much when his career seems like the kind of experiment that ends in a war crimes trial, the sheer quantity of errors he dished out over the course of last season will make a boring quarterback seem like a godsend.

Rudock is just what the doctor ordered in that department. Of the 100 quarterbacks with the most attempts last year, Rudock was 11th in interception rate. 1.4% of his passes got picked off last year. Gardner was dead last, with a rate almost quadruple Rudock's.

There is a cost associated with that, as any Iowa fan still capable of speech will tell you. This is it:

That is Jake Rudock's reputation: a boring boring boring game manager who idolized Brian Griese and dry toast growing up.

[After THE JUMP: Are Iowa fans wrong? Does Rudock have upside? Whither Morris?]

2015 Recruiting: Alex Malzone

2015 Recruiting: Alex Malzone

Submitted by Brian on August 20th, 2015 at 1:42 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles, S Tyree Kinnel, CB Keith Washington, DE Shelton Johnson, DE Reuben Jones, OL Nolan Ulizio, OL Grant Newsome, OL Jon Runyan Jr., TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr., WR Brian Cole, WR Grant Perry, RB Karan Higdon, QB Zach Gentry.

       
Bloomfield Hills, MI – 6'1", 200
       

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[Eric Upchurch]

Scout 4*, #185 overall
#14 QB
Rivals 4*, NR overall
#11 Pro QB, #1 MI
ESPN 4*, NR overall
#16 Pro QB, #4 MI
24/7 3*, NR overall
#14 Pro QB, #4 MI
Other Suitors Pitt, Wake Forest
YMRMFSPA Brian Griese
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace. Ace scouts Brother Rice vs De La Salle.
Notes HS teammate of Grant Perry. Twitter.

Film

Senior:

This doubles as a supplementary Grant Perry highlight reel as well. Scouting video from BR vs DLS:

MGoVideo has his team's snaps from the spring game.

Alex Malzone is the other half of the passing combination that led Brother Rice to the state championship and ensconced Grant Perry into the MHSAA record books; he was the more highly touted bit. He hit a ton of camps and popped up to a solid four star on all the sites (24/7 later dropped him to a three star) despite not having any whiz-bang physical traits.

You probably know where this is going already: heady, polished, etc. You are correct. When Ace and Dave scouted Malzone against De La Salle they came back with the video above and impressions beyond the fact that Malzone was zinging highly accurate balls all night:

The film is impressive enough; what it doesn't show is how much Malzone is in command of the offense. He directed an attack that often went no-huddle, made protection and route checks that I could hear all the way from the top rows of the bleachers, and most importantly, made the correct pre-snap reads. Check out the 1:13 mark, when he sees De La Salle lining up to blitz, changes the protection and has his running back shift sides—the RB is in perfect position to pick up a blitzer and Malzone has enough time to fire off a slant to Perry for a first down.

Scouting reports continually hone in on Malzone's consistency, command, and timing.

  • Allen Trieu, Scout:  “…good velocity on his passes, shows excellent timing and is very accurate. … May not have ideal dropback QB height, but is a gamer and a winner.”
  • Jordan Palmer, Elite 11 coach: "That guy is sponge. … he’s not necessarily physically big. He doesn’t throw the ball like this guy. He’s not as fast as that guy. But man, is he consistent."
  • Barton Simmons, 24/7, comparing Malzone to OSU commit Joe Burrow: "a little bit undersized but has outstanding feet in the pocket and a really live arm. He doesn’t have the ceiling of Burrow but he’s the more college ready player right now."
  • ESPN:  "…marginal athlete for the position. …Really shows good command of the scheme. … Throws a tight, snappy ball. Sticks the ball right on target. … gifted rhythm and timing thrower … Release is quick and over the top. Does show a slight draw back where the bottom point of the ball points backwards as he pulls back to deliver. … ball jumps off his hand."
  • Josh Helmholdt, Rivals, after a 7 on 7: "Malzone was in total command … The ball did not seem to come off his hand with as much pop as we're used to seeing, yet he still got it there with plenty of velocity and was pinpoint accurate with his throws."
  • Helmholdt:  "I watched him lead Brother Rice to the state championship and saw his leadership qualities, the intangibles like managing an offense, how he moved the team down the field. … When we saw him at Rivals camps, he was spotting his passes extremely well, throwing guys open instead of just hitting the open guy. Every pass was on the money."
  • Jamie Uyeama, 24/7 and SBN: "When Malzone has a clean pocket and is properly balanced, I don’t know if there are too many other quarterbacks his age that can chuck it like him. … can flat out zip the ball and it’s really pretty. He has the arm strength to fit the ball into tight windows and to make all the deep throws imaginable."

These are the things that allowed Malzone to complete 65% of his passes en route to a state title.

[After THE JUMP: some funk in the delivery and spring concerns.]

This Week's Obsession: Spring Stock Watch

This Week's Obsession: Spring Stock Watch

Submitted by Seth on April 8th, 2015 at 3:30 PM

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I say we call him "Quick Burst, Mo Hurts." Nobody is on board with me on this. [Fuller]

    The Question:
    Seth: After the spring game which player are you bullish on, and which are you hedging?

---------------------------------------

The Responses:

Ace: Brian and I did a segment on this during the podcast, so I'll keep this relatively brief. (That's called a teaser, folks.)

MAURICE HURST had arguably the best performance of anyone during the spring game, lining up at multiple spots and blowing up plays at all of them. His first step, which was his greatest strength coming out of high school, is still very quick after adding weight, and he looks very ready to see a significant role this fall.

Given that some practice reports had him as a potential starter, it's hard not to be a little disappointed in Logan Tuley-Tillman's showing, which featured three flags and a couple olés. He was a major project coming of high school, to the point that this year was the earliest he could feasibly see the field, so it's not a devastating blow that he doesn't look ready yet. He has so much upside, though, that it would've been really encouraging to see him push into that starting five.

---------------------------------------

Adam Schnepp: I was looking for a weakness. There had to be one; the practice reports had practically reached tall-tale status, but now I see why. It almost feels like I need to pick someone else because this is too easy, but I'm bullish on JABRILL PEPPERS. I know that we've been bullish on him since last August, but now it's like Raging Bull(ishness). Except not about boxing. Or self-destruction. I was really just going for the bull imagery here.

As a hybrid space player, Peppers is going to have to read run/pass and react immediately. On the Blue offense's first play Peppers peers into the backfield, reads the handoff from Morris, and comes off the edge to take out Shallman, limiting him to a one-yard gain.

While his run stopping was adequate for an HSP, I was more impressed with Peppers' coverage skills. He played almost exclusively with a seven-yard cushion and not only was able to jam guys who had already built up a head of steam but consistently re-routed them to the side he had a help defender. I can't find a good example of this on the video thanks to BTN's zoom-o-matic cameras, but Ace can confirm that if I tweeted the above as many times as I said it to him you'd all either unfollow me or think I accidentally set up a scheduled tweet.

I'm hedging on BRIAN COLE. It's important, however, to delineate "hedging" as separate from "disappointed with." It's hard to judge a receiver when they aren't targeted often, and doubly so as the offense's predilection for two- and three-wide sets often left Cole on the sideline. I expected him to compete for time with the known commodities; I did not expect him to have the same number of receptions and receiving yards as 5-9 walk-on fullback Joe Beneducci. I wouldn't rule him out as a contributor in the fall*, but I expected the ball to be thrown his way more often last Saturday.

*(I don't think any of the receivers have locked down a spot with the exception of maybe Darboh, who was lined up against a dude who'd been a corner for maybe four practices.)

[Jump for the defensive backs are gonna be good, even if the passing game makes them look so.]

Spring Stuff, 2015: Offense

Spring Stuff, 2015: Offense

Submitted by Brian on April 6th, 2015 at 1:43 PM

Podcast? Yes. We couldn't record it yesterday because of Easter obligations. We will tape it this evening. It should go up tomorrow.

Missed it? It's on the tubes.

Ours got more attention than normal because it was so early.

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The Michigan offense in one picture [Patrick Barron]

Rome was not rebuilt from atomized dust in a day. It was not good, obviously. People will tell you that the defense is supposed to be in front of the offense at this juncture… but not that far in front. When they say that they mean something like "it was a little ugly and they only ran for like three yards a carry." They mean that the final score was 17-10 or thereabouts.

They do not mean that the only offense of the day will be Amara Darboh catching fades against Poor Damn Dennis Norfleet, a 5'7" guy who hadn't played defense in college until being tested there this spring. The overall feel was reminiscent of the legendarily terrible 2008 spring game, which I didn't even go to because it was held at a high school to facilitate Michigan Stadium's renovations and still remember as the first "oh shiiiii" moment in the Rodriguez era.

To some extent this was all expected. Michigan fans have been debating between a true freshman, a guy who had 3.2 YPA last year, and a redshirt freshman who did not play. They were going up against a defense that has been pretty good the last couple years (until collapsing in exhaustion at the end of games). It was never going to be pretty.

But did it have to be that ugly? Bler!

Quarterbacks: come on down Joliet Jake. Morris was anointed the #1 QB coming out of spring by none other than Harbaugh himself, and that seemed about right after the spring game. That it did so after Morris went 11 of 24 for 5.6 YPA would have me purchasing bags of dehydrated food, water purifiers, and shotguns if not for the 99% official transfer of Iowa starter Jake Rudock to Michigan. Rudock may not be a conquering hero… but he will probably feel like one.

Malzone, the great (if vague) hope going into spring, did not look ready to challenge for the throne. I'm not on board with the arm strength complaints just yet, as those seemed to be generated by a wide receiver screen Lewis tried to jump but did not, giving up a first down on 2nd and 19 (in this game the equivalent of 2nd and Canada).

I may come around in the near future. The constant short stuff was disappointing: even his attempt at a game-saving two minute drill featured five yard hitch after five yard hitch. He did have one nice dart downfield that Chase Winovich dropped…

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a linebacker linebacks even when he tight ends [Bryan Fuller]

…but that stands out as just about the only attempt Malzone made to get the ball down the field. There were a lot of doomed WR screens in there. And that two minute drill… oy. They got about 20 yards before time ran out. This is a tradition I would like to leave in the past.

One thing I'll say in Morris's favor. He's got that fade down pat. One got intercepted because Darboh didn't wall off and extend away from a defensive back and a couple more got dropped; the rest save one were completions, and I think Morris ended up leaving that one short because he got hit. The rest were on the money, in that space outside the numbers and inside the sideline where the receiver has space to play with and can detach from the DB.

That's a good location to have down, by the way. It's tough to throw and thus tough to get to for a lot of defenses. Deep outs, smash routes, corners, and those fades all end up in that general area. It's the location on the field that is the reason NFL teams go cuckoo for cocoa puffs when they find a Mallett type. Morris can buy himself a lot of leeway if that throw is as consistently accurate as it felt like on Saturday.

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a lot of this [Eric Upchurch]

Run game: I don't know. Ty Isaac was all but out (he's credited for one carry I don't remember), so the Malzone team's tailback was Wyatt Shallman (12 carries, 22 yards) with spot duty from Ross Taylor-Douglas*. Shallman is more of an H-back in college and it showed.

Meanwhile, both Ace and I assumed that Derrick Green had been mostly held out with an injury of his own only to find out that he and De'Veon Smith apparently split carries down the middle. It's just that Green's 7 went for 8 yards and Smith's 7 went for 50.

Smith had a sequence early in the second half where he ran tough and his offense started getting some actual time on the field. That ended with a fumbled exchange, because of course it did. Smith never fumbled in high school and hasn't done so in college yet so that issue is probably a freshman-QB thing more than anything Smith did wrong.

If Michigan knew Isaac was going to be limited they should have swapped Green over to the Blue team to get a better feel for the competition between those guys. Either way it was a good day for Drake Johnson.

*[who has now completed his tour of all the positions you can play on a football field and can turn in his punch card for a free bag of Combos.]

The one good run. Cole gets a good push on Henry, Kugler seals away, RJS and AJ Williams battle to a stalemate, Cole gets to the second level, and Smith makes a nice out-in cut to put the other linebacker on the wrong side of the hole:

gif via Ace

If Michigan develops holes on the regular I think Smith has an advantage because his ability to grind out another two or three yards will be valuable in the Harbaughffense.

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L to R: back, under threat, trying out [Bryan Fuller]

OL depth chart hints. Glasgow was back and playing center as if he had not violated his probation; the program said he'd gotten through whatever punishment the program had deployed for him. If he keeps his nose clean that should clear him to resume playing center this fall.

Meanwhile Michigan tried out Logan Tuley-Tillman as the left tackle on the blue team, bumping Ben Braden inside to guard. LTT picked up three legit holding calls; even so that implies that he's getting a serious look and Braden may move or lose his job. Erik Magnuson playing right tackle for the Maize team is another indication that the tackle jobs are not secure.

A scholarship guy who might be looking at some writing on the wall is Dan Samuelson, who was healthy enough to make the roster but IIRC did not play much, if at all. With a couple walk-ons seemingly ahead of them they might be down for the count. Bars (who I omitted from the rosters post by accident did play, at guard:

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He is 62 next to Kugler [Fuller]

If you made me guess right now I'd say that Erik Magnuson is Michigan's starting right tackle this fall and that guard slot opened up by the various line shifts is the most heated competition out there. But that's firmly in wild guess territory.

Wide receivers: do we have a problem? There were a number of ugly drops, none more so than Jaron Dukes batting a ball in his facemask directly skyward for an interception. Morris zinged it with unnecessary force, yes. That's still a worst case scenario for a receiver. Dukes had another sorta drop later and doesn't seem like he'll be pushing past the established guys this year.

Elsewhere: Darboh had a drop and a fade wrested away from him but recovered late to be the Blue team offense. Going up against Dennis Norfleet significantly compromises that accomplishment, especially since most of the plays were "throw it over that guy's head," but Darboh did display strong hands and an ability to track the ball in flight in a difficult situation. Some people can do that (Junior Hemingway), and some cannot (Darryl Stonum). Darboh is in the former category. Can he get separation from the likes of Jourdan Lewis? I don't know—one downside of this format.

Receivers other than Dukes and Darboh were playing with Malzone and barely got targeted on anything notable. This year's spring hype machine, Brian Cole, was not a factor until deep into the second half; Freddy Canteen made a couple of nice catches on balls outside the frame of his body. There was not a whole lot else to talk about.

There was a notable lack of separation for receivers going up against actual defensive backs. That could be bad; it could be an indicator that the secondary is going to be as lights out as we all hope. As per usual, we'll find out abruptly in fall.

Poor Damn Norfleet. In the aftermath Harbaugh talked Norfleet up as a guy who could contribute in all three phases. Nope. The act of moving a guy his size to cornerback is waving a white flag on his career.

I mean… maybe not. Harbaugh is weird and one of the specific ways in which he is weird is his predilection for flipping guys from one side of the ball to the other. This could be a Harbaugh whim that doesn't mean much about playing time down the line. But it probably means that Norfleet is kaput. We'll always have that punt return touchdown to seal the Maryland game inane irrelevant block in the back by someone far away from you.

BEARD. This is not Elliott, right? This is some other spectacular beard just hanging out on the sideline?

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[Barron]

This is one Brady Hoke tradition I'm glad we're keeping.

Spring Game Presser 4-4-15: Jim Harbaugh

Spring Game Presser 4-4-15: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on April 5th, 2015 at 11:59 AM

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He tries to sic these guys on you if you ask a dumb question [Eric Upchurch]

News bullets and other items:

  • Shane Morris is ahead of the other quarterbacks, though Harbaugh said the competition will “rage on”
  • Harbaugh liked the way the defense performed, singling out the secondary and inside pass rush. He also thought Shane Morris and Amara Darboh did a nice job.
  • He said there’s room for improvement in receivers learning to catch contested balls, the running game as a whole, and outside pass rushing.
  • Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr had a large part in designing the trick plays; Harbaugh said he was hands-off in that process
  • Harbaugh said the legal system has as much hanging over Graham Glasgow’s head as is possible, noting that it’s more than what the football program could do; it sounds like he won’t be suspended if there are no further incidents.
  • Players with long-term injuries noted were Joe Hewlett (unspecified), Mike McCray (surgery, not sure for what), and Michael Wroblewski (ACL).
  • Dennis Norfleet may play on offense, defense, and special teams in the fall

Your general takeaways from today? What did you like, what maybe obviously needs work still?

“Liked a lot of things. Mainly [the] thing I liked the most is we played a 40-minute game and there was no injuries that I could tell, none at least that aren’t the you-don’t-come-back-from-soon type, so I’m most pleased with that.

“There’s, uh, there’s- obviously the defense played extremely well. There’s been a lot of improvement in our secondary; that showed up again today. And pass rush, uh, pass rush is improving. Got some rush and push from our inside guys and we’ll continue to try and get the outside pass rush. That’s an area that we want to improve, especially when it’s a four-man rush, to be able to get pressure on the quarterback just with the four.

“I thought Shane Morris did a nice job. Amara Darboh made some nice catches and that’s an area that we need to keep working on, receivers that can make the catch when it’s contested, make the tough catch.

“Running game at times was okay. You know it’s not going to be real good in a spring game especially with the format that we had which was a draft, so offensive linemen are playing in different combinations than they’re used to. But overall we had the one fumble, we had the two turnovers, and with the interceptions but quarterback play I thought was good. Multiple errors [but] I thought it was good.

“To sum it all up I’m most pleased there weren’t any serious injuries today. Come out healthy, and that’ll propel us into April and May.”

I know it was just a spring game but for you to be back inside the Big House, what was it like for you personally?

“It was good. It was a great turnout, I thought. I mean, that’s a hundred-thousand-and-ten people seat stadium and to see that many seats filled was great. It really means a lot. Much appreciated. I know our players appreciate that, the turnout for the 2015 spring game. Added to it, you know. Really added to the atmosphere. Made it like a game. [I] don’t think of it just as a spring game, think of it as a game, and I know that our players had those feelings, those emotions of it being a game before the game and until they took their first hits so that’s something that’ll bode well for us.”

You had several players that were missing from the game: Taco Charlton, Mario Ojemudia, [Ondre] Pipkins. Are any of those long-term concerns or were they just players that were banged up?

“Yeah, we had multiple players that are working through something right now.”

Are any of them long-term, though?

“I’m not a doctor.”

/smirks

“I did not get my medical degree at the University of Michigan.”

[After THE JUMP: Talkin’ about the ol’ depth chart]

Spring Practice Presser 3-31-15: Tim Drevno

Spring Practice Presser 3-31-15: Tim Drevno

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on April 1st, 2015 at 3:01 PM

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The program had its draft for the spring game over the weekend, right?

“Yeah, yep.”

What kind of experience was it like for the coaches and the players seeing them all-

“Oh, it’s a great experience, yeah! It’s something that we’ve done in the past with coach Harbaugh so it’s an exciting time. You go through the roster and you pick out your strengths and weakness and you pick out your positions and you’re going through and strategizing as the draft goes on because you have to fill those positions and make sure you don’t lose out on somebody. Really as a coaching staff it makes you a better coach because you’re trying to build a team and build them to strength, so it was a fun time. Really fun.”

What was your draft strategy?

“Well, you’ll see that on Saturday.”

Is there going to be trash talk between you and DJ?

“No, we wouldn’t do that. Nah, we wouldn’t do that. DJ’s a good guy, but we’re competitive, which is fun.”

Where are you now with the offensive line, and Graham [Glasgow] is back practicing with the team?

“Yeah! Graham’s back, he’s back and glad he’s back, and the offensive line is- they’re doing good. They’ve taken another step forward, which we’ve foreseen them to do and they’re on track and I think finishing up the Thursday practice, Saturday practice, pushing into the strength and conditioning phase and then going into training camp, they’re right on track and they’re taking steps forward, which is really, really exciting.”

Did Graham missing time stunt the development there for those guys?

“No, it didn’t stunt [their growth]. If somebody’s not around somebody’s got to step in and that’s what we preach and it worked out just fine.”

Mason Cole was getting work at center-

“Yeah! We put Mason in there, which was good for Mason. He’s an athletic guy and did some really, really good things there so that’s good for Mason and it’s good for Michigan.”

[After THE JUMP: Jim Harbaugh, talent evaluator extraordinaire, and we circle back to the center]