If you think the headline contains a typo, try listening to better music.
George Campbell, Mayor Of Twitter
As Michigan fans tried to decrypt Wilton Speight's Twitter teaser, Saturday afternoon bled into Saturday evening with no word about a commitment. Would it be Shaun Crawford? Sterling Jenkins? Erik Swenson? Maybe even Malik McDowell? Any would've been great; the real answer, though, elicited a rapturous response.
Modified rule: Don't tweet at recruits — unless you're the CEO of Twitter. [Side note: This is a story. Get here already, football season. Also, Matt Hayes must be stopped, and this is one of a very short list of things Michigan and Ohio State fans can agree upon.]
Why is everyone so excited? Because if "500" was an Olympic sport, George Campbell would win the gold, silver, and bronze.
Also, have I mentioned he's 6'4" and runs a 4.36 40-yard dash?
There were 3 WR's in the 2013 NFL Combine w/ a 40 as fast/faster than George Campbell. They were 6', 5'8", and 5'9". Campbell is 6'4". Wow.
Yes, Campbell still has work to do when it comes to his hands and route-running — this video from the Columbus NFTC highlights both the best and worst parts of Campbell's game right now — but with two more years of high school ball to play, his potential is terrifyingly vast. Scout's Jamie Newberg provided a detailed scouting report of Campbell after his commitment, and even the areas for improvement section features one of them good problems ($):
What may be of concern: Campbell catches the ball well but is not a natural pass catcher. Sometimes he fights it but he is getting better and better. Size is also an issue because you just can’t forecast just how big this cat is going to get.He has a giant frame and long arms so there is no telling what his size will be like in three or four years. Remember, he still has two high school seasons to play before he gets to Ann Arbor. Will his growth prompt a position change? If so, how will that impact his develop?
All of these are concerns but I see them as minor concerns because Campbell is such an outstanding athlete. Recruit him now and worry about it later.
Oh no he might be even more giant and still probably really fast.
Campbell's commitment does more than just give Michigan one of the top prospects in his entire class. It also looks like he'll be a major recruiting conduit in the tradition of Morris, Speight, Ferns, et al — Campbell reportedly struck up a close friendship with 2015 MI ATH Brian Cole, and he's already reachingout to other top prospects on Twitter. Others, including 2015 MN LB/DE Jashon Cornell, ESPN's #1 overall recruit in the class, took immediate notice after Campbell tweeted out his commitment announcement.
That guy is consensus top-100 2015 running back Damien Harris. He committed to Michigan while I was writing this post. Brian, mercifully, handled the Hello post. Commitments come in pairs, Brady Hoke poops magic, and Michigan now has their top targets at wide receiver and running back already in the fold for 2015.
[Hit THE JUMP for much, much more on the BBQ, including reactions from Malik McDowell, Shaun Crawford, Sterling Jenkins, and Justin Hilliard, plus surprise appearances from a couple of Glenville's finest.]
This afternoon, Wilton Speight sent out a TomVH-like cryptic tweet about some potentially big news coming from this weekend's BBQ. Despite holding Michigan recruitniks hostage for most of a summer Saturday, ALL IS FORGIVEN:
George Campbell, for those unfamiliar, is the #1 wide receiver in the 2015 class, and high school teammates with 2014 OL commit Mason Cole. The "Brady Hoke can't close on elite skill position prospects" meme? Deader than dead. And don't even think about pulling a fast one, other programs:
George Campbell said if any other schools try to recruit him, "I'm committed to Michigan and that's final."
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA okay calming down here's some actual info wait wait WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO alright serious face LOCK IT DOWN ANBENDER
4*, #1 ATH,
5*, #1 WR,
5*, #1 WR,
Only ESPN and 247 have put out rankings for the class of 2015, and they're in agreement: George Campbell is the best receiver in his class and one of the top overall prospects. His height is listed between 6'3" (247) and 6'5" (Rivals & Scout), with ESPN splitting the difference; his listed weight is anywhere between 181 and 198 pounds. His official listed measurements from The Opening are 6'3.5", 185 pounds.
Campbell first made waves at Florida's "Friday Night Lights" camp last year as a rising sophomore, earning 247's top overall performer honors over a host of 2014 prospects, including former Michigan target Alex Anzalone:
The 6-3, 180-pound pass catcher could be one of the top prospects in the Sunshine State for the 2015 cycle and certainly looked the part, showing off advance route running skills, an ability to get off the press and play physical. He reported a 37-inch vertical and the game seemed to move very slow for him on a night where prospects where tight and trying to impress.
Campbell made such an impression that, just two days ago, Florida's 247 outlet published a list of the five most memorable FNL performances; he made the list along with four five-stars of yore: Stefon Diggs, Ronald Powell, Cam Newton, and Tim Tebow. Not bad company, to say the least.
Since then, Campbell has torn up the (often older) competition at a wide variety of camps and 7-on-7 tournaments, forming a nearly unstoppable duo with '14 Clemson commit (and, yes, former Michigan target) Artavis Scott. Despite losing out on positional MVP honors to his teammate, Campbell actually finished one spot higher than Scott on Rivals's list of top performers at this year's Orlando NFTC:
While he was edged out by his teammate for MVP honors, Campbell looked like one of the best wide receivers at the event. He's a true deep threat and during the deep ball portion of the day he showed great speed combined with solid pass-catching ability. He still has some work to do on shorter routes when the ball comes quickly, but right now he's quite the home run hitter in the passing game.
At the same event, 247's Gerry Hamilton found just one area in need of real improvement, though it's a big one:
As has been the case for nearly a year now, the 6-foot-3, 180-pound Campbell was dominant in the testing portion of the combine running a 4.48 laser timed forty-yard dash, a 4.2 shuttle and a 37-inch vertical. When it came time to run routes, Campbell was also dominant bursting off the line, quickly getting into routes for his size and creating instant separationout of cuts. One area the class of 2015 prospect struggled at times today was finishing plays. He fought the ball at times, and didn’t have the look of a natural pass catcher.
ESPN's scouting report seems to echo this amidst the usual fawning over Campbell's athleticism and jump ball skills:
STRENGTHS: Excellent athlete with eye-popping size and speed measurables. A legit vertical threat who can stretch the field on offense. Displays a long wingspan on a very tall frame for a receiver. Runs extremely well and is a major mismatch on corners when positioned one-on-one. Shows great range and length with a quick initial burst covering ground on defense. Demonstrates good instincts in pursuit and will finish plays. Possesses good ball skills and is very solid in zone coverage closing on the pass from depth. ... AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: Can continue to refine his route running and become more consistent with his hands. Would benefit from adding bulk and strength to his frame. Not presently an overpowering downhill run defender on defense.
Why does ESPN's profile focus so much on his defense? Well, Campbell lined up at defensive end for East Lake last fall, and in June's IMG 7-on-7 championships he cracked Rivals's list of top performers... on defense:
Campbell is already one of the top wide receiver prospects for the class of 2015, but on Saturday he did his damage on the defensive side of the ball. He had at least two interceptions and also had a key pass breakup that helped his team secure a victory. He'll likely play offense at the next level, but it's clear he's a very versatile athlete.
Despite the above, Campbell should end up at receiver at the next level, though if he doesn't develop on offense he could easily find a home as a ball-hawking safety.
While Campbell's skills are still developing — remember, he's a rising junior — his athleticism is already at a very elite level. As one of just five 2015 prospects invited to this year's edition of The Opening, Campbell showed up and blew everyone away on the track:
While Noil was busy winning the overall SPARQ Championship, Tarpon Springs (Fla.) East Lake wide out, and top Florida 2015 target, George Campbell won the fastest man competition.
After running a blistering 4.36 in the opening round of SPARQ testing, Campbell was joined in the finals by Curtis Samuel and Parris Campbell.
The junior-to-be ran a 4.37 to take home the award.
Those are electronic times. Campbell also recorded a 37-inch vertical leap. He's almost 6'4". Al Borges is probably trying to find a way to get him on the team this fall, let alone two years from now.
Campbell held offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and West Virginia, among many others. It's safe to assume that he would receive offers from just about every program in the country if he didn't make an early commitment; as it stands, that offer list is impressive even for a decorated senior, and Campbell has yet to play his junior season.
Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake, as you well know by now, also features 2014 prospects Mason Cole (Michigan) and Artavis Scott (Clemson); they have one other '14 BCS commit in three-star DB Devin Abraham. Aside from 2013 three-star and UCF signee QB Pete Dinovo, no East Lake player earned more than two stars on Rivals prior to this class.
According to 247, Campbell recorded 30 receptions for 766 yards (25.5 ypc) and five touchdowns as a sophomore last fall, while also contributing 57 tackles on defense.
FAKE 40 TIME
Campbell's 4.36 40 time is gloriously NOT FAKE AT ALL.
Campbell will give Michigan a pair of hyper-athletic deep threats at receiver when he joins 2014 commit Drake Harris. It's tough to project Campbell's ability to make an early impact considering he's got plenty of work to do refinining his technique in the two years before he hits campus; the good news, of course, is that there are still two years before he hits campus.
What we do know is that, in 2015, Shane Morris or Wilton Speight is slated to have Harris, Campbell, Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson, Moe Ways, Freddy Canteen, Jaron Dukes, Da'Mario Jones, Csont'e York, Devin Funchess, Jake Butt, and Ian Bunting as potential targets, in addition to Derrick Green and DeVeon Smith at running back. Oh, and that offensive line. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Campbell is the third commit in the 2015 class, joining OT Jon Runyan Jr. and K Andrew David; 2014 grayshirt commit DT Brady Pallante will also join the team in 2015.
Campbell's presence is a boon to the 2015 class in that (1) he's George Campbell, five-star receiver, and (2) his early commitment should help attract other top talent to Michigan. At this point, it's way too early to go over numbers, so for now just celebrate the fact that HOLY CRAP GEORGE CAMPBELL JUST COMMITTED.
College sports are a rich-get-richer kind of operation. American pro sports reward their best teams with crappy draft picks and salary caps that make it hard to keep successful operations together. Yes, successful operations can keep their heads above water for periods, and the Lions can be awful for 50 years. A relentless gravity still pulls everyone towards .500.
In college, success adds to success. You can tell recruits they'll go to the Sugar Bowl and the Rose Bowl instead of, like, Nashville or wherever. Your pile of money is larger than someone else's pile of money and you can put up buildings where every brick is an XBox. You can point to some guy making millions in the NFL and promise recruit X will as well. You can tell recruits that you're not going to be fired and replaced by some guy from the Sun Belt, unlike every other school recruiting Derrick Green. The more you win, the higher your draft picks are.
Gravity has no place in college sports, just entropy. Entropy: the tendency of things to move from ordered states to disordered ones. Entropy: the gradual decline and fall of the Carr era. Entropy: Greg Robinson. Entropy: Northwestern football. With 18 seconds left there's a fifty-yard pass on the way, and things are about to get disordered.
I mean, what can you say when your glorious victory is so clearly a gift from the cosmic random number generator? I have seen many things in my time as a sports fan. None of them have been an opposing safety taking a pass that is about to sail into the turf 10, 20 yards further downfield and flailing at it in such a way as to send it into the arms of the Michigan receiver he'd battered to the ground, gently. Feather-like. After all of that… easy.
Meanwhile, that event had been immediately preceded by a Northwestern fourth-and-one conversion on which the ref had to make sure every chain was ramrod straight and get his nose down to the field level before awarding the Wildcats a first down they probably didn't get but could not be overturned from above. Fitzgerald Toussaint's only decent run of the day ended with a bizarre pop-up fumble. Trevor Siemian came in and tore Michigan's secondary to shreds.
I like it better when the randomness is under a nice ol' narrative. When it's in your face so spectacularly, it's like the gods of math are taunting you for daring to care about anything they have their fickle fingers in. Go home, get a pen, and root for Fibonacci psuedo-randomness, they are saying. What you are doing is the equivalent of rooting for 3, they say. The number. The literal number. Woo 3. Go 3. You are so much more prime than 4. That's so 3! Oh god those people who like 4 are just animals. They poop in coolers, you know, and drive trucks. They're so… divisible.
Stripped of the narrative bit the mind goes back to a game of partial information, high stress, and plain evidence that worshipping the gods of math gets you nowhere. Big stacks matter in tournament poker, too. With many chips you can lean on people, play with the numbers on your side, and force people to decisions for all their chips. You get to be the gorilla. You get the good recruits.
Back in the day when laws were unclear and jerks hadn't yet banned online poker by attaching a rider to a bill about port security, I played a lot. I was pretty good. I played online satellites until I'd gotten a buy-in to the World Series of Poker, and went. I made the second day in rough shape, and started repairing my busted stack by chopping off preflop raisers. While I'd risk more, I'd be in fewer hands, give off a tight image and get 5-6 blinds instead of 1.5. I would have no illusions about whether I should GTFO if someone played back at me. It was working, and I caught a couple hands. I was on my way to day three.
I'd done this to the guy to my right two or three times already, and his frustration was evident the last go-round. He raised preflop again, and I looked at kings. Long story short, we ended up all-in, he turned over aces instead of anything else, and I did not suck out. Short-stacked after, it was a matter of time.
Brady Hoke hasn't had kings, but he has sucked out, and sucked out, and sucked out.
With 11-2 and a BCS win in the rear view, Michigan picked up the kind of momentum that saw them lock down a top-five class by March. Getting there took a series of desperate heaves to Junior Hemingway. This year the heaves have been a little less desperate but twice Michigan has had 18 seconds and needed big chunks of yards to set up do-or-die field goals and got them. They're not getting every break—see refs in all Nebraska games—but with a combination of skill and fortune Hoke is building quite a stack for himself.
The latest chip is a 2013 starting quarterback out of nowhere, a guy who had looked basically awful in any extended playing time before Denard's elbow injury forced Devin Gardner into the Minnesota game. And even if Saturday was too transparently chaotic to go down as an all-timer, it's another step through this rough patch as Michigan waits for the large, mean cavalry to arrive.
In the meantime let's all just stay here on the floor breathing heavily and slathering narrative over the terrifying randomness of the universe.
Football looks hurty sometimes, and by sometimes I mean all the time.
Also, here's Gardner chucking that TD to Funchess:
Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. Roy Roundtree, come on down. Not only did you spawn a strange and likely short-lived meme when the Larrys, about whom more later, made a bizarre joke about how he would be better at catching the ball if his name was "Squaretree"—because square things are good at catching I guess—but you also put up 139 yards receiving, including the game-saving deep miracle. Also on 'Tree's docket: a beautiful corner route catch, getting run over on third and seventeen, and a critical hitch-and-run in OT.
Honorable Mention. Devin Gardner (at this rate will be Vince Young by next year, too bad about plateaus and such), Jeremy Gallon (hitch/bomb/punt return/let's ignore those other punt return opportunities), Kenny Demens (a close, close #2 with back to back OT TFLs).
Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week. NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW
This must be awarded to the play that spawned it, which is Demens decleating Northwestern to end the game. In the future awarded to the BOOM YES play of the week.
Honorable mention: Kenny Demens stones Northwestern on third and one too, Treezy to the rescue, Devin Gardner kind of balletically flings a ball way high except it's to Devin Funchess so it's on the money, Jibreel Black forces a Colter fumble, Jordan Kovacs implodes Colter's back.
Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.
11/10/2012: Mattison baits Fitz, Kenny Demens decleats Northwestern, game over.
Our hipster quarterback. WHICH ONE OF THESE DUDES IS DEVIN GARDNER
you've probably never heard of me
Probably the one on the left. PROBABLY
Open contempt. Northwestern fans were pretty hype on Nick Van Hoose as the cornerback who might rescue their secondary from its overwhelming Northwesternness; Van Hoose did not play. The Northwestern secondary was overwhelming in its Northwesternness.
This manifested on second down after second down when Michigan generally followed up a one yard run by going with a 2TE I-Form set and throwing a hitch in front of a helpless cornerback, or a corner at a helpless cornerback, or a hitch and go well past a helpless cornerback. I get pretty irritated when Michigan, which cannot run from under center even a tiny little bit, goes OOPS POW SURPRISE PLAY ACTION on obvious passing downs, but in this game it worked because every hitch route came with either a first down or some YAC baked in.
I have no idea why Northwestern didn't just bracket Michigan's single WR hard and dare Michigan to make them pay by getting to the second level—something it seemed they were four or five blocks from on every play. But they didn't. So, yeah.
RUUUUUUUUUUUU—oh you are nevermind. IIRC, Michigan did not have any called runs for Gardner except the goal line rollout (and that did have a pass option). He got sacked once. That means his seven other rushing attempts were all scrambles. That's more than Denard has acquired in eight games. They were also effective—an average pickup of almost seven yards without any of those coming on fruitless third and longs.
Yeah, that is Vince Young-like. The combination of effective deep balls and a willingness to take off is potentially deadly. Covering four verts and containing Gardner seems hard, and add in dumpoffs to space players like Norfleet and Hayes, and that's a nice recipe. Hopefully Michigan explores that once they don't have to minimize QB impact at all costs.
[UPDATE: After checking out the Gardner errysnap video, Michigan did have another called QB run in a goal-to-go situation that went for five or six yards, so six scrambles.]
not always pretty, but so far so good / Upchurch
Air check. We should erase the desperation bomb to Roundtree, which was a throw Gardner had to attempt, missed, and got a miracle deflection to complete it. That excised, Gardner was 15 of 28 for 8.3 YPA, two touchdowns, and a turrible interception. Add in the scrambles and that's good in a vacuum. Your context: Gardner was playing a poor defense minus its best cornerback and on an offense that can't run the ball even a little.
Those probably balance out, leaving Michigan with a good performance from a guy who'd been playing WR two weeks ago and has eligibility next year. That is huge.
Unlike last week, I can't remember anything particularly outlandish that happened to alter Gardner's stats since we've already set aside the desperation heave at the end of the game. Gardner actually lost a long completion to Jerald Robinson, and there was nothing on the order of Roundtree, Dileo, and Gallon going all circus for their QB in the Minnesota game. When Gardner missed, it wasn't by much. Minnesota was some good throws interspersed with a lot of shaky ones on which the receivers were great; Northwestern required a lot less heroism from the WRs.
You'd expect rapid improvement from a guy getting almost his first extended playing time and transitioning back to reps at QB from reps at WR; Gardner leapt even that high bar.
Y'all be jumpin'. Michigan has now pulled opponents offsides five times in two weeks with Gardner under center, with Northwestern threatening to go three or four more times.
That's a credit to Gardner's hard count and evidence of how much more comfortable Borges is with an offense that operates from under center. To run those freeze plays you have to be under center quickly enough to try it and then try something else if it doesn't work, something that has not often been the case for most of the year when Michigan was struggling just to get plays in. Against Northwestern, how often did you think "GET OUT OF THE HUDDLE" to yourself? For me, it was zero times. That's down a half-dozen from most games this year.
SIDE NOTE: I've seen a lot of credit going to Gardner for having the awareness to fling those fades when guys go offsides. That's a misunderstanding of what's going on. The way it works is this:
Gardner huts his hut real hard, and then waits.
Guy jumps or does not jump.
If guy jumps, Mealer snaps it, free play.
If guy does not jump, Michigan checks into something else.
So if Gardner gets the ball he knows someone is offsides and he has a free play and just throws the fade. He only gets the ball if he has a free play. The credit should go to Borges and Mealer.
SIDE SIDE NOTE: Yeah, Michigan did try to do similar things under RR from the gun. Bizarrely, what seemed to happen is that Michigan would get a guy to jump but he would get back before Michigan could snap the ball, leaving Michigan to burn a down on a low-percentage play.
Hello, Fitz. Not that Fitz. Hey, three broken tackles en route to a touchdown on a nothing dumpoff: that is a play. I enjoy Fitzgerald Toussaint making plays. he also picked up a bunch of bonus yards on his 50-yard inverted veer give, and then fumbled. That's his first fumble, right? I guess he gets a pass for it. Even Mike Hart finally broke.
A tip, I say, a palpable tip. Did anyone else notice Michigan removing AJ Williams for Devin Funchess on the third and goal in OT, and think to themselves "rollout to Funchess's side"? Lo, it transpired, and Northwestern covered Funchess but had no one else on the edge once a playside LB tried to shoot inside Omameh and got walled off.
I require more Dileo. Michigan finally had enough of seeing punts hit the ground and put Dennis Norfleet back there in place of Gallon; Norfleet let the next punt hit the ground. Dileo fair-caught the next one. Meanwhile, balls are being tossed at the thus-far ineffective Jeremy Jackson and Jerald Robinson as Dileo watches from the sideline. I humbly request more targets for Dileo, who gets separation and catches passes, instead of larger receivers who do neither of these things
Maize and Blue Nation
Kenny Damn Demens. Remember when he was getting lined up two inches behind a nose tackle on a three man line and obliterated by guards releasing clean? Yeah. Demens isn't going to be a guy who makes every #25 in the future wear his name on the chest, but any time he walks into a bar for the rest of his life sporting that mustache of his someone is going to be like "CONSECUTIVE TFLS TO WIN 2012 NORTHWESTERN" and buy him a beer, and I love it when that happens. See also: Jerome Jackson, 2005 Iowa.
Demens did get beat by Northwestern's #1 WR on their last touchdown, but that's an RPS thing and a function of Michigan's LB slide plus Northwestern consistently gashing Michigan on the corners. Projected % of Michigan fans instantly reminded of Chris Graham against Anthony Gonzalez: 37%.
So sexy. Michigan came out with a a weird three man line featuring Jibreel Black as the NT that all but begged Northwestern to run up the middle on their fourth down, with the results noted above: Ryan gets cut off by the backside G, Black shoots playside of the tackle and forces a cutback on the handoff NW was baited into, BOOM.
“The last tackle there — number one, I like the call that (defensive coordinator Greg Mattison) made because it was one where it may have talked (Northwestern) into running the football because of some of the space inside,” said Michigan coach Brady Hoke. “And then Kenny just did a nice job of just working inside out to the ball, where maybe a little bit earlier he was maybe getting too far ahead of it.”
Michigan's defense finally got gashed, but man did they dial it up at the end.
Will it happen again? Ohio State is going to be checking out the Northwestern film quite a lot, but I'm not sure they have a Mark-like back to hit that edge. They've got a couple thumpers who will challenge tackling skills more than speed.
Linebacker switching. I didn't notice this live but a lot of people have said Desmond Morgan had a rough game, which seems logical since after a couple weeks of limited linebacker swapping we saw a lot of James Ross, including on the final two Northwestern drives. Ross was the guy who came an inch away from stuffing the Northwestern fourth and one. I'll get to the bottom of what went down in the UFR.
Pipkins comes on. Also receiving a lot more PT: Ondre Pipkins, who had a rough few plays against Minnesota before getting the hook. Again not sure why but probably based on Northwestern being one of those hurry-up outfits that puts a heavy demand on opposing defense's depth. Insert usual desire to be a team that puts that kind of pressure on the opponent.
Getting edged. Michigan's really got to do something about their option scheme, probably. I'll have to check it out to see if it was much different than what happened against Air Force.
Oblig. Kovacs number switch bitching.
Me = Dude (obvs)
Car = Kovacs
Flame = #11
Nihilists = Brandon (obvs)
“I’ve worn No. 32 for quite some time, I think I’ll always be No. 32,” Kovacs said
Yes. Dammit that needs to be the walk-on-who-plays number. Does no one understand how to make things? /wireseason2
Oblig. game theory bit. Big points to Pat Fitzgerald for going for it on fourth and short with around three minutes left. That is a spot in which it's easy to go NFL and derp your way to shrugging postgame coverage, but the obvious play is going. One yard and you've got the other team trying to complete a 50-yard miracle to tie. Punt and even Michigan's languorous two-minute drill still has time to ease down the field.
Northwestern got it by a few molecules thanks to what seemed like a favorable spot, albeit not one that is ever going to get overturned by the Big Ten's milquetoasty replay officials. (After the Penn State TD debacle they are now the Rod Gilmore Memorial Big Ten Replay Officials.)
Fitzgerald gives back about half of those points on the punt. You hate variance if you are Northwestern punting the ball back with 25 seconds left. NW…
took a delay of game penalty instead of using a timeout
ran out their rugby guy to bash a line drive into Gallon's chest
got a net of 11 yards as a result
Rugby punts are generally effective but tend to be more unpredictable than regular stuff: shanks are easier, and if the returners are positioned correctly they get an opportunity like Gallon got. The play there was to take a timeout and hang one in the air to force a fair catch. The upside of that is about equal to the rugby punt and the downside is nil.
Michigan didn't really face any major decisions. They could have taken a shot at the endzone after the Roundtree completion but chose to kick. The difference between that decision and the end of last year's ND game was one second on the clock and a timeout, which they had against ND but not here. The Roundtree completion took six seconds, and it's easy to see that last one slip off the clock for any number of reasons.
FWIW, Michigan played their TOs right by taking all of them immediately once they were facing do-or-die time on defense.
Git R Done, for values of R that equal racism. If you don't follow me on twitter you missed the saga of the Larry The Cable Guy clan in my immediate vicinity, a group of redneck yahoos that said a lot of things like "LEZ GO CUMONG" and "GIT EM CUMONG," which was annoying when they did that really loudly after a four yard run—now my hopes are all up and it's second and six—but mostly harmless.
That ceased on a Norfleet kickoff return on which one of them screamed "run like you stole it" and I was processing the I am somewhat uncomfortable with the racial overtones that statement displays thing when one of them almost certainly dropped the n-word. I looked at the MGoWife, and she looked at me to confirm, and then I just really hoped that it wouldn't come up again because if that happens a second time, well… words will be exchanged and I'm trying to panic myself to death at a football game thanks, please let's not get in a screaming match.
It did not come up again. Hurrah. There's no real lesson here except it's not very fun to be surrounded by Larry the Cable Guy.
BONUS BONUS BONUS: a Larry next to me left after the Gardner INT, which lol. I moved over because there was a tall guy in front of me… directly into the path of a woman with four pom-poms whose thought process in relation to those was:
I bet if I shake these really hard they're invisible.
* NW ended up with 431 total offense yards. That's the same amount that Alabama, the greatest team ever assembled, a pretty good offense, had against us. I never would have guessed that Alabama and NW would be equivalent at anything. After the Alabama game, I wrote, "If we can hold everyone else under 431, I’ll be happy." NW didn't get more than 431, so I'm not unhappy, I'm just confused.
* Thomas Gordon led us in tackles with 11, not a good sign. Demens and Morgan were next with 9 apiece. Considering Mattison substituted freely with the LBs, that's a lot of tackles.
…this week’s game definitely felt like the first one to showcase Al Borges’s “preferred offense.” It was a number of shorter passes, a dedication to running the ball with the RB, and play-calling that couldn’t fall back on a Dilithium-fueled QB if the first and second reads were not open. Minnesota showed this a bit in the first quarter, but that game felt over at halftime and so I’m not sure what you could glean from it except that the offensive line still couldn’t get a push inside.
Does it need to be said much more than that? Inches decide ball games, particularly close ball games. Against Nebraska inches separated Northwestern from a clinching interception and a devastating blown lead and loss. Against Michigan, those inches mattered even more.
You can slake your schadenfreude needs if you're weird and hold some sort of grudge against Northwestern at the SoP postgame thread.
KENNY DEMENS – He didn’t play a perfect game but he did make the tackle of his life – TWICE! It’s a play and situation you dream of as a kid growing up playing Pop Warner Football. Demens not only made the big stop to win the game on 4th Down, but he also made the stop the play before on 3rd Down! OUTSTANDING!
Michigan struggled on defense in this game for a number of different reasons. Jake Ryan and Frank Clark both lost contain frequently which gave Northwestern big gains on the ground. In addition, and I think Mattison figured this out before the fourth quarter, but Michigan was defending the speed option in an unsound manner. The playside linebacker was always playing the quarterback, forcing a pitch to the running back who had nothing but blockers in front of him. I think Mattison assumed his corners and safeties could get off of their blocks on the outside the help contain the rushing attack, but Michigan's corners aren't very good at doing this. By the fourth quarter, Michigan started forcing the runs back inside.
The running game. It showed signs of life this week. I think the more pro-style offense that Gardner runs suits Michigan better on offense. We're still trained to run the spread-option, but I don't think it's working for Fitz. He's a downhill runner. I really like that Rawls can come in and compliment Fitz...although, it might be the other way around, actually. I thought the line blocked better this week. Hoke stayed with the same lineup he's had all year across the line, so it was encouraging to see the interior especially, play better.
Michigan got a 50-yard gain on an inverted veer give—blocking not relevant unless you're a WR—and 41 yards on six Gardner scrambles. They also lost six yards on a Hayes jet sweep that's now scouted by opponents. Their other 23 carries went for 49 yards. Death. If Michigan finds itself trailing against OSU there's going to be a point at which it'll be time to run the quarterback from the shotgun even if it's Gardner and the backup option is Jack Kennedy. Michigan just can't move the ball on the ground without the numerical advantage provided by using the QB.
The empty seats are past the point of ridiculous now. Michigan has been reduced to having its football players make videos begging fans (read: students) to show up on time for the games. WTF?! This isn't Ball State. Bo's probably rolling over in his grave.
I'm not sure what more can be done since the athletic department already instituted the points system. But seeing all those empty seats up there after the game starts is a slap in the face to Hoke and the Michigan players.
That should be "30% of the student section sucks." 70% of them are there. The solution is to give out t-shirts.
FWIW, the key play thing has not been done in probably ten years.
It wasn't a perfect day. The Toussaint fumble was maddening, but a great play by the Wildcat defense. Special K remembered where "In The Big House" was on his hard drive. There weren't enough holes in the offensive line to run through, things of this ilk.
But it was sunny, warmish for a November day. Al Wistert got a tremendous ovation from the Michigan Stadium crowd, the MMB put on a funny show, Devin Gardner continued to look good, Roy Roundtree remembered that he's a heck of a receiver, Gibbons is still money, and in the end, Michigan was victorious, Really, that's more than we should be able to ask for from the football gods. After all, you need to stay humble.
Warmish? High standards over at the Hoover Street Rag.
For Michigan, it's never over until the last pass is thrown, and tipped, and cradled, and caught. For Devin Gardner, same thing — it's not over even when others think it is.
Nothing is over for the Wolverines, and it's just getting started for Gardner. How many times can a game, or a season, or a young career twist? Gardner was a receiver a couple of weeks ago, hoping to be a quarterback again. Now he's directing a team contending for the Big Ten title.
The last time Brady Hoke and Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald were at Michigan Stadium together was Oct. 7, 1995.
Hoke was a first-year defensive line coach on the home sideline. Fitzgerald was Northwestern’s burly junior middle linebacker, wearing a white No. 51 jersey and terrorizing Michigan quarterback Brian Griese.
With the Wildcats leading 19-13 and just 1:40 remaining on the clock, Griese and the Michigan offense were 41 yards from the end zone facing a third-and-15. Fitzgerald had ended the previous drive by tipping a pass out of harm’s way.
Nesbitt FTW; great great angle there. Hadn't even thought about it. Also Estes on not saying sorry.
Also, I'm typing this post with my forehead, so you'll have to excuse any typos. Michigan has now pulled in seven (SEVEN!!!!!!!) recruits in less than 36 hours, as Pickerington (OH) North TE Jake Butt just announced his pledge to the Wolverines after visiting Ann Arbor yesterday. Michigan now has ten total recruits in the class of 2013—nine of them consensus four-star types—and their last two both came from Pickerington (Central's Taco Charlton being the other).
4* DE, ESPNU
150 Watch List
4*, 90, #10 TE
Butt is a highly-regarded prospect as both a tight end and defensive end, but the coaches have told him he'll be a TE at Michigan. He's a four-star to every site but Scout, who hasn't released extensive rankings yet, and a top-100 prospect on Rivals. The general consensus on Butt is that he stands at 6'6" and around 220-230 pounds, giving him a great frame for tight end.
Most evaluations of Butt, especially from his sophomore year and last summer, focus on his ability as a defensive end, but I did dig up a few that looked at his ability on offense. Here's Josh Helmholdt breaking down Butt's game tape ($):
The first thing you notice when turning on the tape is his frame. He is a lean 6-6 and 220 pounds and very athletic for his size. The Pickerington North staff uses him all over the field. On defense he'll play with his hand in the ground, or drop back and cover a slot receiver. On offense he can be tight to the formation and used to block or split out as a wide receiver ... he is a natural pass catcher and his speed is above average for the tight end position. He also shows great competency and willingness as a blocker. Butt is an outstanding defender and could be a big-time rush end in college, but at this stage I like his upside at tight end a little better. He has the size to block in the run game and the athleticism to be a major threat in the passing game.
Butt has the versatility to line up as a tradition tight end, H-back, or split wide, and he told me last week that the coaches plan on using him in multiple roles. With Khalid Hill committed in the class as more of an H-back, expect Butt to be the more traditional tight end in this class, playing down on the line. Allen Trieu had this to say about Butt in a Sam Webb profile at the Detroit News:
"Jake is an athletic kid with a great frame," Trieu said. "He still has to add more weight and strength to his game, but he runs well for a kid of that size and is a very coordinated athlete. On offense he catches the ball well, his height makes him a matchup problem, and his athleticism allows him to create separation. At the same time, Jake is one of those rare kids who I think projects very well to both sides of the ball. I think he's a BCS prospect on both sides of the ball. For most schools it sounds like he's a defensive end right now, but a handful see him as a tight end too."
Tim Sullivan (YTTS) says that Butt's "6-6, 230-pound frame is more than adequate for the position, and he has good hands and the ability to make plays after the catch." Jake gave his own self-assessment in the above Webb article:
"I have my size, athleticism, and I don't take a single play for granted," Butt said, confidently. "You're going to get the best from me every single play. You can't teach height, so I'm going to give that to the team. As a tight end, if the ball's thrown to me and it hits my hands, it's not touching the ground. It's a catch! On defense if it's third and long and it's a pass rush situation, I'm not going to get blocked by my opponent."
Like his Pickerington counterpart Charlton, Butt is a standout basketball player; as we've seen with NFL tight ends like Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, and Jimmy Graham, having a hoops background helps with athleticism, body control, and hands. Combine those qualities with a relentless motor and a willingness to mix it up in the trenches, and you've got a very good tight end prospect.
Butt chose Michigan over offers from Boston College, Duke, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, UCLA, Wisconsin, and a host of MAC schools. He also had interest from Ohio State—the school he grew up supporting—and Notre Dame, where his grandfather played football.
Butt had 27 catches for 427 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior, while also amassing ten sacks and 17.5 TFLs as a defensive end.
FAKE 40 TIME
24/7 lists him at a 4.70, which I'll give a two FAKEs out of five.
This short reel from ScoutingOhio is the only embeddable junior highlight video right now, but you get to see Jake make a couple nice catches and lower the boom while blocking:
Butt is the type of impact, all-around tight end that Michigan couldn't land in the 2012 class, when they brought in a pair of (quite different) tweeners in Devin Funchess and A.J. Williams. Given his well-rounded skill set and the fact that he has over a year to add weight before getting on campus, Butt should compete for immediate playing time at tight end. He can fill multiple roles—Michigan has both a "U" tight end (off the ball) and a "Y" tight end (on the line), and Butt could conceivably play either spot, though I expect he'll spend more time on the line if he's paired with Funchess or Hill.
Butt's potential is probably the highest of any of Michigan's tight end recruits from the past couple of classes, and in an offense that plans to use the position more extensively moving forward, he has the chance to compete for postseason honors down the road. Given the lack of depth at tight end, Butt could easily be a three-year starter at the position.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
With Butt and Hill in the fold, Michigan is likely done recruiting tight ends for 2013 unless a player like Adam Breneman—who seems to be more focused on Penn State and Ohio State—decides to come calling. Even then, it could be tough to fit in a third TE to a class that should have 20-22 players, especially with ten spots already accounted for.
Old McPointsalot had a farm, E-I-E-I-Oh. And on that farm he had…
A Rainbow-Pooping Unicorn. This isn't going to do us any favors with the New York Times. Also you should mentally add "unicorn pooping rainbows" to things you should never search for on Google Images.
What you are seeing (other than a unicorn pooping rainbows at a post-Apocalyptic Gowanus Canal) is the opening salvo of BlueSeoul's last game wrap of the season:
This week's love-hate relationship status with Al Borges is .... .... Love? That's odd, because during the game there were times when the needle was strongly tilted towards hate. But after a second look at the game film, the final analysis, just like the outcome of the game, is slightly positive.
Much like the Iowa game, the lack of production on offense wasn't really his fault so much as it was a combination of a lack of execution, personnel limitations, and a darn good defense.
So ends 2011, the year of the oxymoronic fecal substances. On to 2012, the year that is the year we play Alabama in Dallas.
Unto this breach goes hart20 to give an early and detailed count of returning starters for next season's opponents. He wrote this before Coker quit Iowa but for future reference whenever you preview Iowa always count at least one extra sacrifice to the Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God. Ohio State returns the most starters (they lose 5 on offense and none on D) while Air Force has to replace 17 starters and their backup QB. Diary of the Week, this.
And in That Future Was a Playoff, F-U-O-Hi-O. Playoff the first is by JeepinBen and takes parts of the basketball tournament that might work for football. It has 11 teams. The MWC and Big East champions plus four at-large teams play a week after the conf. championship games, then face three of the five big conference teams in Round 2. It would see Bama playing at TCU on December 10. I would give the at-large teams the home field instead of the crappy conference champs. Boise State fans will say different but Boise State's president probably won't be too hurt about splitting half of 110,000 tickets rather than half of 10,000 to have the game on blue turf.
The second is by Seattle Maize and isn't a playoff, more like "move the BCS decision until after the bowls." Ten teams go to BCS bowls based on tie-ins, and then we recalculate the BCS to pit the best two of the remaining five (the Cotton gets an upgrade) against each other. Upside: the only fans traveling on short notice are going to the National Championship game (which should be two weeks after). Downside: doesn't really solve anything – it's just another BCS, albeit a better one than we have now.
And in Those Playoffs Were These Recruits. I can't believe umhero wrote this composite ranking chart of three sites' Top 100 on the boards. Michigan's seven players who make someone's Top 100 is tied with Florida State for 3rd. Texas has 11; Bama 10. Our reality is the one that exists in some Alabama freshman's NCAA 2004* dynasty (his roommate plays Boise State and created Cam Newton as payback for the entire pack of Fig Newtons that disappeared from the fridge). Also in this universe he can edit recruit names to funny things like 2013 S.C. receiver, "Uriah LeMay," and Acewould interview them. Ace also spoke to PA tight end Adam Breneman.
* If it was '05 nobody would be able to catch; if it was '03 he wouldn't know to hire name his generic middle-aged coach Saban.
And the Basketball Was Back, but it Never Left, Yeah It Did, No It Didn't, Yeah It Diddanoitdidn't. We join ClearEyesFullHart in an appreciation fest of where Michigan basketball has come from Dom Ingerson. However far this goes, it feels like the cagers have now crawled through the shit pipe to clear the program from the prison of the '90s, carved our name in the half-way house that claimed SMU football, put in our time at Amaker Grocery in the aughts, and now we're on a road to paradise. It makes a much better story than an ellipsis between tournament appearances:
I suppose that's why Brian's wording, "Right now we're going through the last vestiges of having no expectations because we have no program" made me just a little bit angry. Because I can remember when we had no program. I remember when beating Bowling Green was a big deal. I was there, and it was actually quite a while ago.
The argument is semantic, and on the Ellerbe years I'd rather forget too, but in ways I'm with CEFH. There were times in the lost years that Michigan was reduced to a 3rd string walk-on Jewish kid playing guard with literally no ligament in his elbow, but I'd still take any five of Dani Wohl's vital organs over this year's Penn State team.
The artwork is fantastic, and Six is really one of the good guys. You sense a 'but' in there. Okay there's a but, but first repeat the caveat about Six Zero being awesome in 99% of ways. But: social messaging future Buckeyes and trolling Spartan offspring when they ask an answerable question are acts that make me not like the Michigan fan characters. The Sugar Bowl one was great. He's got "Tom" down. "Desmond," the collegiate Blockham, appears annoying and probably got his MGoBlog account suspended for copious use of the word "Stud." Grandpa Glenn's an asshole. Needs MOAR character development. Am i being overly harsh on a comic that's six strips old? Yes I am.
And in Etc. There Was a Yak. Seriously, There's a Yak in This Diary! CRex's personal life and what the dry ear wax phenotype has to do with the bar scene in Ulaangom. And a shout-out to everyone who helped the Mathlete complete the now comprehensive list of D-I coaches and coordinators since '03.
Best o' th' Boards
THE SECRET AND ASTOUNDING ADVENTURES OF ACE, THE MAN WHO BLOGGGED
Using the sneaky but effective ploy of posing as a mild-mannered classmate of Ace, patstansik, better know as "Pre-Game Pat," scored the exclusive interview with the elusive Anbender. What mysteries lie behind the only person doing actual work around here? What improbable twists of fate and snappy dressing led a young man of San Francisco to climb to the heights of bloggerdom, and reach fame so great his mom gets questions from the checkout guy at Kroger's.* It's all there in Ace: The Podcast.
* There's no apostrophe-'s' in 'Kroger' you say? Well I say this is Michigan fergodsakes's
OHIO: BIRTHPLACE OF WOODSON, HOWARD, AND SCHEMBECHLER
Voting has concluded on the new Ohio license plate voting with "Bo" and "Worst State Ever" notable write-ins. Well trolled my friends.
NUMBERS TOO OR JUST WINGS?
The battle lines are drawn. Of things I don't like changing, the numbers on the helmets are somewhere between the fact that keys don't look like keys anymore and my hair line, i.e. doesn't bug me that much but if I had a choice I'd go back to the way things were.
It's the day before a Michigan football season, so there's an 80% chance you're about to see Bump, Canham, and Bo. Survey says…
…bingo. Three years ago I posted it up to point out just how long it had been since Michigan had to think about who would be its head coach: forty years. They'd secured an A-list candidate but whenever you're trying something new after doing one thing forever, things can go awry. They did—you may have noticed.
I thought about Bump and Bo over the summer when Ramzy at Eleven Warriors took a brief hiatus from ripping Kirk Herbstreit* to survey the new enemy in Ann Arbor. He used a certain picture, which I'll put next to what seems like the most representative image of Rodriguez on the first three pages of a generic image search. I'm not sure what that will be yet. Let's find out:
Slotting the two coaches** into the image above is left as a bloody obvious exercise for the reader.
Hoke may not have a winning record but he's got bravado. That, the knowledge he's not a Super Genius, and his magical intestines plus Denard Robinson is a pretty good start. When Hoke was hired I said "sometimes having an identity feels like having a ceiling," but thanks to Jim Tressel kindly donating his career and most of the meanest kids in Ohio to the cause that ceiling is a lot vaguer than it was in January. Let's go find it. In Pasadena, preferably.
*[Ramzy : Kirk Herbstreit :: Brian : punting from the 34]
**[In re: selection. For one, this shows up three times. It's not the best but it's farfromtheworst and it's not plain boring. Seems as good a choice as any.]
THIS CONCLUDES the 2011 edition of the MGoBlog season preview. Every year I tell myself I'm going to get ahead of the curve and start posting these things two weeks before the season; every year something comes up and I spend this week eating microwaved dinners and staying up until 5 AM. At this point it would feel wrong to do it any other way (but I'm definitely doing it some other way next year).
I would have bumped some fantastic diaries if doing so wouldn't caused everyone's heads to explode with word overload. If you're just dying for 3:30 tomorrow and need more, the Communist Football Almanack finishes in spectacular style, Jamiemac previews Western with prop bets a-plenty, and Michael Scarn drops a personal essay.
"You travel around and you see how a lot of these programs have retired jerseys of players who haven't even accomplished some of the things on the field like myself and Woodson have accomplished," Howard said. "It's just a way they try to honor their players."
At Oklahoma and Florida, for instance, Howard has seen statues of former players.
Howard says Michigan is now more receptive to change.
"You look at these things and you understand the tradition and the way Michigan has handled that in the past, but obviously, you kind of got to get into what's happening now," Howard said. "We're moving in that direction. Just like … the stadium — you update your stadium to keep up with the competition."
I'm not a fan of retiring numbers. I like seeing a guy out there rocking the #2 or #21 and being reminded of Howard or Woodson (and usually how much less good at football the current guy is than Howard or Woodson). I wouldn't mind a Ring Of Honor bit where they have the names in the stadium. With the boxes there's even a place to put them.
Q: if there was an in-stadium commemoration thing who would be on it?
Obvious Heisman Guys: Harmon, Howard, Woodson
Essentially as obvious: Ford, Oosterbaan, Friedman, Carter
Fringe-y sorts: Braylon, Jake Long, Steve Hutchinson, Dan Dierdorf (someone from 1969 is a given, no?), Tom Curtis (all time INT leader, CFBHOF), Woodley, Graham (all time sack leader), Messner, Irons
I'd probably grab one guy from the 1969 team to go with the obviously obvious ones and call it a day. Add one name per year starting with Harmon.
Tatgate du jour. Another batch of FOIA requests have been responded to by Ohio State, and the results are as embarrassing as usual. Highlights from two articles:
Jim Tressel got an "unacceptable" on his 2006 performance review when it came to promptly informing compliance of stuff.
Tressel was specifically admonished to pay closer attention to the cars his players were driving after the Clarett business.
That was the last performance review Tressel got because Gene Smith started doing verbal reviews; Thad Matta continued to get written ones.
Ohio State's reviews that loaners were totally on the up and up were regarded as suspicious even by people in the department: 'Greg Gillum, director of football operations, wrote to Smith and Archie that car salesman Aaron Kniffin, who once worked at Maxton and later at Auto Direct, "is supposedly working on players' cars and sending guys to Auto Direct for loaners ... Our suggestion is that someone from compliance try to investigate whether this arrangement is valid."'
Ohio State "heavily" redacted the documents, including blacking out the number of cars purchased from one particular dealership.
The investigation into ten pairs of cleats claimed stolen by Pryor, Herron, and Posey reached a dead end after a random purchase of some old-model Pryor-signed cleats.
I'm not sure if there's any upshot here except the car stuff going further back to Clarett and the lack of reviews for Tressel. Pryor entering the supplemental draft when his stock is poisonous certainly implies the NCAA will find him ineligible for car-related hijinks Ohio State started right at and chose to ignore.
Strike while the iron is hot, which it is because you just breathed on it. The "Mankato" in Minnesota State Mankato seems likely to become useful instead of redundant, because DUCK—
Flames all up in here, all golfin' and stuff. Also this guy:
Moorhead is a DII program with no hockey program… yet. They just announced today that they're looking for $37 million to start one and already have 15 in soft commitments. They're looking for the rest in the next three months; if they make it the WCHA will no doubt snap them up. And then everyone gets to play against the Dragons.
Mwahahaha. Rivals has just released its state rankings for Michigan, and Brady Hoke All Your Base Co. has secured five (RJS, Ross, Richardson, Funchess, and Godin) of the top seven. Michigan is heavily involved with the two others, Aaron Burbridge and Danny O'Brien). MSU's first commit is #8 Jamal Lyles, and it's a little surprising Ben Braden isn't ahead of him—he's been killing people at camps and I was under the impression he had a shot to move up to four stars. Maybe that was Scout.
Etc.: LSU is still oversigned by seven(!) in the middle of July. They've been "transparent" with the kids this time around, so at least the guys know two of them are totally screwed. Les Miles == NFW. Meanwhile, South Carolina people are upset because Spurrier didn't renew the scholarship of a track walk-on who got one last year. I'm high on the zealotry scale when it comes to oversigning but that one fails to stoke any outrage with me.