Wednesday Presser Transcript 9-12-12: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser Transcript 9-12-12: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on September 12th, 2012 at 2:03 PM

News bullets and other important items:

  • Frank Clark's recent hearing has no impact on his status.
  • Sounds like Courtney Avery will be 100% for Saturday.
  • Blake Countess's surgery has not been schedule yet.
  • Richard Ash is out this week with a boo boo, but will return next week hopefully.
  • Brennen Beyer is also out this week.
  • Barring further injury, no additional freshmen are likely to play.

Brady Hoke

file

Opening remarks:

“It’s an important week for us as a football team as far as how we come out to practice, the improvement we need to make in all areas. We had a good intense practice yesterday. I thought we came out with the right attitude and we have to follow that up again today, obviously. Frank Clark’s situation hasn’t changed. Won’t change. The judicial system obviously, he’s paying for that, and he’s paid a very heavy price with us. He’s a teammate, and he made some bad decisions -- a bad decision that is not what we want. But he is a teammate, and he’s part of our family. So.”

Frank Clark derpy derpy derp.

“I just made a statement on it.”

How have you seen Elliott Mealer settle into his position at center?

“You know, I think Elliott is really settled in, and I think he has a presence about him in there at center. I think the one thing he wants to do a little better job with is maybe some pad level at times and keep finishing on blocks, but I think he’s really been consistent when you look at what we ask that position to do.”

If you had to challenge him on the beard, could you do that?

“No. Not even close.”

Monday Presser Transcript 9-10-12: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser Transcript 9-10-12: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on September 10th, 2012 at 2:52 PM

News bullets and other important items:

  • No status change with Beyer. Knee injury. Will be out for a week. 
  • Courtney Avery missed some plays late in the game due to a back problem.
  • Richard Ash has a boo boo.

Brady Hoke

Televised presser

file

Opening remarks:

“It’s good to win a football game, obviously. That’s why you go out there and compete. I think when you evaluate and you see where we’re at, we’ve got to improve if we’re going to win the Big Ten Championship. We’ve got to improve at the point of attack on both sides of the ball. You’ve heard before, and that message won’t change. I think we went out with a mission offensively to get Denard very involved running the football. I thought he did a nice job of that. I think we did a nice job in the throwing game. The interception, I think Vince was fighting the umpire a little bit, but also it’s just one of those things that we have to execute that, but from that standpoint defensively, we played 98 plays. Way too much, we have to get off the field obviously, but at the same time those guys hung in there, and they hung in there when they had to at the end of the football game and made some plays. So that part of it is a very positive part of it. I think we adjusted to some things to some things they were doing, which helped in the second half. So all in all was it where we want to be? No. But at the same time, it was a good win to get.”

Air Force Postgame Presser Transcript: Brady Hoke

Air Force Postgame Presser Transcript: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on September 9th, 2012 at 11:13 AM

Brady Hoke

file

Opening remarks:

“It was great to win the football game, I can tell you that. It’s always good to win. Sometimes they’re not very pretty. This would be one, but you have to give Air Force a lot of credit. I think they do a tremendous job of coaching that offense and running that offense. I think they did a good job when you look at the counters they put in -- when you counter one way -- it’s a chess game a little bit. I thought Greg at the end really had some -- changed some things up that helped us. I think the stops by the end by the defense were timely and huge and needed to be there. We played an awful lot of plays on defense. That means you’re not doing a good enough job of getting them off the field, but their tempo was one of those things that’s good. And I think we learned a lot about it, and we played a lot of guys. We played a lot of young guys, freshmen, and I think that helps us as we continue throughout the season.”

Can you talk about Devin Gardner’s development as a receiver?

“Well I think he did a nice job. I think there were some -- you like to go to playmakers, so there were things set up for him. But he also makes plays. He’s coming along.”

What made you decide to go with Joe Bolden at linebacker during the second half?

“Well I think we were trying to play as many guys as we could. Joe had a pretty good feel for the option part of it. At Colerain high school that’s all that they run. He saw things maybe a little bit more than we were, but it is more just trying to keep guys fresh and trying to rotate them through.”

You talked a lot about offenses getting the edge on your defense last year.

“Yes.”

What was Air Force doing to get the edge, and what do you need to improve on to defend it?

“Well it depends. There’s a whole series of -- do you get low, do you get arc? There’s a lot that goes into it. Are they T-blocking it or X-blocking it? And it’s who has the pitch. It varies depending on how they want to block it and attack it. Most of the time if we do a good job constricting the line of scrimmage, they can’t get a tackle up on your safety or they can’t get the tackle up on the linebacker who can continue to flow, and then your safety’s got a chance. So there’s a lot of different things that go along with it.”

You played a lot of freshmen. Are they outperforming the veterans at this point?

“We recruited them because they’re pretty good players. I think they’re all competing.”

What’s your assessment of your non-Denard run game and how your lines played today?

“You know, I think the non-Denard running game, I guess if we want to call it from now on, it wasn’t productive enough. Therefore I don’t think we played well enough up front. And then defensively, 290-some yards rushing, you didn’t play well enough up front.”

With your defense, do you chalk it up to “this is a unique offense” or do you have major weaknesses that you need to address?

“I would say there’s a uniqueness to the offense, to schemes, but at the same time I think we’re a work in progress. Quinton Washington’s getting better every time he plays. I think Ondre Pipkins, I think he’s getting better every time he plays. Heitzman -- Keith played a decent amount today. Then the four outside guys. Ojemudia. He’s getting better. Frank Clark, having him back. I think Craig and the guys who are the older guys are doing a pretty good job. I think we’re a work in progress on defense [overall].”

How big was the swing in momentum after the tipped pass interception and having to go into the half up just 14-10?

“Oh, it’s one of those things. I didn’t get a good look as I’d like to. I don’t know if it was a little high or what, but that’s football. When you’re called to play defense, you have to keep them out of the end zone, and we didn’t do that.”

A year and a half in, are you still wowed by Denard?

“Well, you know, I see a lot of it in practice. So yeah, I don’t know if you ever get used to it, but when he sticks his foot in the ground, he’s got an ability.”

Two games in, are you seeing enough out of this team that you’d want to see out of a B1G championship team?

“I think if we keep improving every week, that’s our expectation.”

Can you talk about putting No. 47 on Jake Ryan and his performance today?

“We looked at as a staff the guys who, from a character standpoint and from the standpoint of how he goes about his business every day. There wasn’t a better [decision] than to have Jake represent Bennie. So I think that was, as a staff, we came up with that. That’s the right guy. How he played ... I think he made some plays in there. I think he got on the ground sometimes. For me to say how he actually played, I couldn’t tell you. I know he played hard.”

He made a couple big plays at the end.

“Yeah he did. There’s no question about that. I think though what we’ll probably look at as much as anything is that they load blocked on him and he got chopped or he got arc’ed on him -- we didn’t have that pitch player you needed.”

Dialogue between you and Mattison re: late game adjustments?

“Greg and I think an awful lot alike. We knew we needed to do a little bit something different on the back end because we had three different possibilities, and two of them may have been too confusing to try and do on the sideline without them seeing those looks over and over again. So we kind of went back a little bit to base stuff on playing defense.”

Was Fitz rusty?

“I don’t think he ever got a chance to get started.”

Why?

“We didn’t block well enough.”

Did you see any rust or was it more up front?

“No … yeah. He’d been practicing the whole time.”

How do you prepare a defense for that insane tempo?

“It … really besides the tempo part, it takes you about a quarter to get used to the speed and how they execute that offense. We tried to mimic it. Our scout guys -- they’re playing with guards and tackles that are 255 pounds. We have Ben Braden who’s 315 pounds who’s trying to veer block, and he’s giving everything he’s got, but it’s a little different tempo, little different speed. Joe Reynolds did as good a job as anyone being Connor Dietz, but it takes you about a quarter. It really does. I thought we hung in there. We weren’t pretty. The thing we needed to do was get the ball on the ground a couple times, and we didn’t do that. It’ll be very interesting. I’ll talk to the kids tomorrow to see how they felt about the tempo. Because I never really -- I didn’t really see us not set and ready to go as a defense, which you’ll see. Believe it or not, that’s a big step that everybody’s on the same page.”

Brennen Beyer was in a cast. What’s his status?

“Well he strained his knee. I can’t -- I don’t know anything more than that right now, but that’s kind of what’s going on.”

Any other issues health wise?

“Not that I know of.”

Richard Ash?

“He should be ready next week.”

How many true freshmen have you played so far this season? And is that by design or by necessity?

“Um … I want to say 12. It’s by design and necessity. I’m being honest.”

What kind of matchup problems does Funchess cause for a defense?

“Well you know, he’s a tall guy. He’s rangy. He can run. The thing I like about him is he’s not afraid to block. Matchups on strong safeties, matchups on linebackers.”

What kind of game did Frank Clark have, especially on that last drive?

“I know Frank was active. I know he was disruptive, especially there at the end of the game. Now we’ll see how he played the other 80 plays.”

(player transcripts up later today)

Preview 2012: Defensive Line

Preview 2012: Defensive Line

Submitted by Brian on August 29th, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Previously: Podcast 4.0, the story, quarterback, running back, wide receivers, offensive line.

A note before we start: this preview relies heavily on the defensive UFRs of last year because there’s a convenient numerical system that does a decent job of summing up a defensive player’s contributions. One caveat: the system is generous to defensive linemen and harsh to defensive backs, especially cornerbacks. A +4 for a defensive end is just okay; for a cornerback it’s outstanding.

campbell-iowa

Depth Chart
STRONG DE Yr. NOSE TACKLE Yr. THREE-TECH Yr. WEAK DE Yr.
Craig Roh Sr. Quinton Washington Jr.* Will Campbell Sr. Jibreel Black Jr.
Nate Brink Jr.*# Richard Ash So.* Ryan Glasgow Fr.# Brennen Beyer So.
Keith Heitzman Fr.* Ondre Pipkins Fr. Matt Godin Fr. Frank Clark So.

Okay okay okay. Breathe. Breathe in. Breathe out. Feel the lung expand and contract, and feel a calmness wash over you. Yeah. Calm. Calm.

Michigan lost three starters, may be starting a 280-pound three-tech, moved the only returning starter, and has a walk-on seriously pressing for playing time. If they're not starting a 280-pound three-tech, they're starting a 280-pound WDE. Will Campbell inherits a starting spot essentially by default.

No no no no. Calm. Callllm.

Defensive Tackle

Rating: 2.5

The big piece of news that hit when the Big Ten Network was let inside the velvet rope at Michigan practice was Jerry Montgomery naming Quinton Washington one of his starters instead of Brennen Beyer. This was followed up by a depth chart confirming this fact.

Clarity came Monday when Hoke made an appearance at the UM Club of Greater Detroit's kickoff dinner that I was at, waiting for the Q&A session with Greg Dooley and Angelique Chengelis. Hoke took questions, someone asked him about the defensive line, and Hoke gave a straight answer. To paraphrase: Michigan is planning on rotating six guys. Washington will be the nose in certain packages with Campbell at three tech and Black at WDE. In other packages they'll remove Washington and slide everyone down, inserting Beyer at WDE and going with Roh-Campbell-Black-Beyer.

Who's the sixth guy? You got me. I'd guess it's Nate Brink, but it didn't come up.

Anyway…

William-Campbellworld_thumb[1]

this year he'll totally live up to this image. really! (probably not really.)

This time we mean it, Will Campbell: it's now or never. The one-time five-star recruit is now a senior. He's been handed a starting spot by the graduation of three DL starters and Rodriguez's crappy recruiting. This makes everyone nervous because obviously.

There is some good news on this front. After a couple years in which Campbell appearances were all but guaranteed to draw this sort of commentary…

I'm not at the point where I can tell you the ten different things Campbell did to get blown four yards downfield, but I can blather on about pad level: man, pad level. Am I right?

…his cameos were fairly effective last year. He got limited snaps, of course, but only ended up negative against Iowa, when he got cut twice on big Coker runs. He had a +5 against ND, a +3.5 against SDSU, a +4 against Minnesota, and a +4 against Illinois, three of which came when he blew up a third and one by himself:

You can also watch him annihilate another Illinois OL to set up a Desmond Morgan decleater and flatten Max Shortell.

Unfortunately, these positives and highlights are all against the worst offensive lines on the schedule (and ND, oddly). Michigan didn't put him out there much against tougher competition; now they've got no choice.

Campbell's giving it a go. He's taken to showing off his chest after shedding 20 pounds in the past couple years. Taylor Lewan:

"The most dramatic change I've seen in a body on our team is Will Campbell," said left tackle Taylor Lewan. "His body is transformed. He was a sloppy 350 and now he's a toned down 308 kind of guy. He looks real good. His conditioning shows it. You should see him run. He's like a gazelle. It's unreal. I think Will is going to do some special things this year."

Come on, baby. He's getting the full-court press from Michigan's three-headed DL coaching staff, and I wished and hoped my way to thinking he was a lot better this spring:

Last spring game guy was a lump who managed to not get blown off the ball most of the time and just about never did anything. During the year he was largely that with some nice plays mixed in, but too infrequently to be encouraging. In the spring game he had clearly progressed enough to actually beat his man to the gap more than once.

You know all those runs Rawls had where he had to abort mission and find another hole? Most of those were headed at Campbell. Since we got a baseline for Ricky Barnum in the time he got before his ankle injury last year—decent Big Ten player even then—that's a hopeful sign.

While that hasn't kept the coaches from grousing about things, their expectations are not my expectations.

Finding out that Campbell will flip between three tech and the nose is probably a positive tea leaf. Leverage has always been a problem, and at 6'5" he's never going to be a great burrower. Get him one on one and he can deposit folks on their butts. That is what he'll generally be allowed to do at the three. His ability to do that on passing downs is going to be a huge factor in how effective that line configuration is—three techs can get good rush, and Michigan's ability to get pressure out of the WDE spot is very much in doubt.

What to expect here is a mystery. My WAG: adequate play that's on average a few points to the good on UFR charts (which is average for DL, as it measures MAKING PLAYS more than not doing so). Maybe a fringe draft pick if Michigan is pretty lucky. I don't think he'll be worse than Heininger, and he was pretty decent by the end of the year.

[hit THE JUMP for the GREAT MYSTERY beyond the KEN OF MAN (and Craig Roh)]

Tuesday Presser Transcript 8-28-12: Greg Mattison

Tuesday Presser Transcript 8-28-12: Greg Mattison

Submitted by Heiko on August 28th, 2012 at 9:50 PM

Greg Mattison

File

Can you talk about Quinton Washington emerging at nose tackle and moving Will Campbell to the 3-tech?

“What we’re looking for is getting the best four guys to be available to play inside. Q’s had a really good camp. Will’s had a good camp. So you kind of interchange those two to see which one makes that defense better, whether it’s one of them at the three and the other one of them at the nose. With so much trading and shifting and things like that, they both have to play the same position when they slide over, so it gives you an opporutnity to hopefully make yourself stronger rather than just having a true nose and that’s all he can play.”

Brennen Beyer is third on the depth chart. What does he have to do to move up?

“That group of three right there is never etched in stone. Brennen Beyer, I think, started out camp not as -- I don’t want to say tentative -- but not really realy playing as fast as I wanted him to play. Now the last week, though, he showed signs of being the Brennen Beyer of the spring. You’re going to see him play a lot. There’s no question about it. We got a group right there of guys, again, in the opening game, I don’t know how many plays you’re going to play -- you better have guys that can go in there, especially at that position because there’s a lot more running there. That’s a position that’s a defensive lineman sometimes and it’s a linebacker at other times, and he’s always got to run the farthest to chase the ball down … he has to be a guy that can run.”

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-16-12: Brady Hoke

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-16-12: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on August 16th, 2012 at 9:27 PM

Programming note: Due to a poorly timed (but awesome) vacation, I was in California for the last several days. That's why Ace had to cover for me at Media Day and why *Jedi handwave* there was no coordinator presser on Tuesday. I'm back to provide uninterrupted coverage from here on out, though, so feel free to get off your tenterhooks.

News bullets and other important things:

  • Just completed 14th practice; did some scrimmaging.
  • Ben Braden, Erik Magnuson, and Erik Gunderson are all practicing at tackle.
  • No decision yet on Fitz Toussaint.
  • Roundtree's chances of returning for Alabama are "good."
  • Matt Wile currently holds a slight edge for the punting job over Will Hagerup and Kenny Allen.
  • Chris Wormley has not yet undergone surgery but will; as expected, will likely miss the entire season.

Brady Hoke

Football was being played.

Opening remarks:

“Thanks for coming. 14th practice, midway point, did some good things, did some things -- playing with a little better speed. I think the fundamentals and techniques that you always go back to. I think the guys are doing a pretty good job with that. I think we have to be more physical on both fronts. That’s not nearly solved yet for how we need to play, but for the 14th day, this is really grind right now and it should be because of the schedule that they’ve been on. You have to see how they respond. They responded pretty well to some situational things this afternoon, but as far as being ready for September 1st, we have a long way to go.”

By situational, do you mean scrimmage?

“It’s a little bit situations. You know, just give as many -- not a lot of plays, but enough to hear some football and those kinds of things.”

When do you plan to have a full scrimmage?

“Not until Saturday.”

Just wanted to ask about a couple Alabama guys: their QB McCarron and nose guard Williams. Thoughts?

“Well I mean, I think McCarron’s done a great job leading their football team. National championship quarterback. Plays with a lot of poise. The run game, he gets them in and out of the right places. They run the ball. He’s a very good leader. He seems to be on the field for them. Williams is a guy who’s disruptive. Somebody will have to contend with [him]. They have 10 teammates on each side of the ball, so they’re really part of a very good football team.”

Have you identified any backup tackles to Lewan and Schofield?

“You know, I don’t know. All those guys -- Ben Braden’s taken some snaps, Gunderson’s taken some snaps, Erik Magnuson’s taken some snaps. I don’t know I’d identify anybody who was it, I’d be honest with you, yet.”

Is it concerning that you have true freshmen at those positions?

“Yeah, always is. But it’s always -- those guys have to grow up fast. All of them are smart guys, and they’re coachable, so they’ll be okay.”

How many freshmen do you anticipate having in the two-deep on the offensive line?

“On the line? Oh maybe three. Maybe four.”

You didn’t get to spend much time with the freshmen earlier because they were in classes. What about now?

“Well they got out on Tuesday and today’s Thursday, so you still, from a learning and being comfortable with the terminology and what they’re asked to do, I think that part of it’s still early. I think they get through this week and into next week a little bit. You have a better idea. Can they play fast? Can they play with poise? Can they play with great technique? All those things are a part of it.”

Does anyone catch your attention in a positive way?

“Uh, you know, I would probably say they’re all -- I think they’re all working hard. I think they’re all eager. I think the talent level, the athleticism stuff is kind of what we’re looking at -- I don’t know. Not yet.”

Has Desmond Morgan made a leap this fall?

“Yeah, I think he did from spring and I think he has in the fall. I think he had a very good summer. He’s a driven, young man. And a very competitive person. I think the improvement of how he reacts -- he’s pretty instinctive. That’s why Yyu play as a freshman, because you’re an instinctive person and football player. And he’s pretty instinctive. I think the strength gains that he’s made, he’s a more powerful football player, linebacker.”

When do you make decisions on walk-ons getting scholarships?

“No we haven’t done that. It depends sometime before school starts if we’re thinking about that or if we have the scholarships.”

Are you thinking about it this year?

“Sometime before school starts.”

How has Fitz looked, and are you closer to making a decision on him yet?

“I have not, and he’s out there like the others running around.”

How do you plan to build cohesion as an offensive line while rotating three guys at left guard?

“What we’ll do is take a big part of scrimmage, practice situations, and keep playing a guy there so that there’s a comfort level between the left tackle and the center. I think Taylor can play basically with anybody because of his experience, and he knows more what to do. So that part of it, he’s pretty good so he doesn’t have to worry about himself as much as he does that guard.”

Has he been sort of an on-the-field coach?

“Yeah, he’s done a nice job. He’s done a nice job.”

When would you like to identify a starting offensive line?

“Oh, ten -- ten days before probably.”

Is that a rough guess? Why ten days?

“I think, you know, some continuity that we try to build consistently, but I think that’s part of it.”

Chris Wormley tore his ACL.

“Mmhmm.”

Has he had/will he have surgery?

“No. He has not and he will.”

When?

“Sometime in the near future.”

How did he sustain the injury?

“Just playing football.”

Any plans to redshirt him?

“Most likely he’ll miss the year.”

You have three guys competing for the punting job. Has anyone stood out yet?

“You know, not really. I would give right now -- probably Wile had the better day. But we’ve got to be consistent day in and day out. Today I thought Matt stroked it pretty well. I didn’t think Will was as consistent, but he was better than he has been. Both of those guys were a little bit behind because they didn’t get as many reps during the summer, so I think they’re catching up.”

How confident are you with playing an inexperienced guy like Jerald Robinson, who has reportedly been standing out at the receiver position, on September 1st?

“I think we’ve got to put enough pressure on him and get him out of his comfort zone that you test them as best you can, and he’s got to go out there and do it. I mean there’s no other way besides going out there on that stage and doing it. We can put him on situations and test him and make him uncomfortable and see how he reacts. But at the same time, he’s just got to do it.”

What would you do to get him out of his comfort zone?

“Well you give him a lot of reps. You see how he reacts when he gets tired. You do some things coverage wise to beat him up at the line of scrimmage. Just trying to get him a little bit out of the comfort level.”

How is Roundtree doing, and what are his chances of playing the first week?

“He’s doing great.”

Chances?

“I think they’re good.”

What is the clearing process for him to get back on the field?

“Him feeling better and the doctor feeling good and comfortable about it.”

Do you check up on him every day?

“Yeah he’s with a rehab specialist every day. We obviously communicate.”

What’s he doing physically at this point?

“With the rehab -- ”

Just that?

“Yeah.”

Has JT Floyd progressed since last season, and how has his chemistry with Blake Countess developed?

“Well I think there’s a chemistry before JT and Blake. I think they push each other. I think the consistency is always something that we’ve got to keep having out there. That’s kind of a position where you’re on the island, everybody sees it when you falter, but I think they both improved. I think they both worked very hard.”

How do Blake and JT differ?

“That’s a good question. JT’s a little rangier, a little longer-armed, a little taller. I would say Blake’s probably a little more physical, you know, of the two. I think JT showed some physicalness a year ago, too. ”

Do you think that they feed off each other?

“Yeah I think so. I think that and Tom Gordon and Kovacs. Kovacs [is] kind of the field general, and it’s part of being a safety. I think they feed really well [off] each other.”

Can you get a sense for what kind of team you are 14 practices in?

“No.”

Can you characterize anything about it so far?

“You know, we’ve got a lot we need to improve on.”

Do you like what you’re getting out of the seniors?

“They’re doing a good job.”

----------------BONUS PARAPHRASED PLAYER INTERVIEWS!----------------

Brennen Beyer

  • Likes his new position, prefers it to OLB.
  • Technique-wise working on bull rush and a couple other moves.
  • Says defense's strength is "technique." Weakness is "toughness." Needs to be "tougher."

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

Desmond Morgan

  • Father is a high school coach -- used to give him a bunch of pointers on technique, but now just watches the games as a fan.
  • Family attends every game.
  • Second year in defense, is picking up visual cues faster and therefore playing faster. 

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

Vincent Smith

  • Fitz's absence and return didn't affect running back practice. Fitz basically picked up where he left off. 
  • No sense of cutthroat competition between running backs -- they're all brothers and support each other.

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

JT Floyd

  • Loves watching film. Craziest place to watch film? In the shower. Did it multiple times last season.
  • I brought up the fact that he had only allowed one touchdown to opposing teams' No. 1 receivers all last season.
    [Paraphrased] 
    Floyd: "Which one? I just want to test you."
    Me: "The Iowa guy? McNutt? It was either him or DeVier Posey." [I didn't remember exactly, but it was Posey.]
    Floyd: "McNutt didn't score a touchdown on me!"
  • Awesome.

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-8-12: Greg Mattison

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-8-12: Greg Mattison

Submitted by Heiko on August 8th, 2012 at 2:42 PM

Greg Mattison

Opening remarks:

“Well. I can tell you this. It’s fun to be back out there. Do I look like I’m 25? Because I sure feel like it. Tell you what, it’s fun to be out there catching again. It’s fun. That’s what you do it for.”

How long do you hope to keep doing it?

“I don’t know, maybe 30 more years. Who knows? As long as Brady keeps me. Who knows, he might not want to keep me very long. Who knows. I tell you what, this part of the season is what you really really look forward to coach. This is the teaching time. This is the molding of your team. Wellman, he gets the lucky part. He has them more time than anybody now with the new rules. But we get to have them and get to coach them and get to be around them. Especially when you’ve got some great kids and you’ve got some guys who are fun to coach, and that’s how the first couple days have been.”

What can you glean from just a few practices?

“Nothing really other than they have worked hard in the offseason. You don’t know anything until the pads come on. I think on the defensive side of it, though, when you install the defenses, because there’s carry-over -- they’re a lot more alert. They understand it a lot better. Last year at this time it was probably like they were talking a foreign language. Now they kind of understand it. When that happens now you can get into the little things that make that defense better because they do understand it. I’ve been pleased with their awareness and their interest in learning.”

What do you mean by little things they pick up on?

“Well, like in every defense, for example, you can draw it up and you can say, ‘You have this gap, you have this responsibility, you should align like this,’ but when a guy really starts understanding what the whole defense is about, then you can say, ‘Okay, when they’re in this formation, I can expect this.’ Or ‘when they motion like this, beware of this.’ You’ll hear a corner, for example, yelling out on the motion to the linebacker now, ‘Get ready for the end.’ Well a year ago they’re just hoping they’re aligned right. And just kind of trying to play their responsibility. And those are the kinds of things that happen once you’ve had the same group for a couple years.”

Last year it took a little while for the defensive line to gel. Will it be quicker for this group?

“I don’t know. I don’t know, and I’m not trying to be vague. You never know about your team until the bullets start flying, until you start really really getting tired, getting banged up, hitting. How does a team react then? That’s something why Brady runs a very very physical camp, and that’s why that part of it is something you have to work through and you have to make sure you can handle it, because that’s what it is in the Big Ten conference, so we don’t know that.”

MGoQuestion: Have you bought into the philosophy of rotating defensive linemen?

“That’s always something I like to do. You have to find out who earns the right. It’s always been a deal that you earn the right to be on the field as a Michigan football player. I don’t care what the reason is or why there should be a guy going in there. You don’t go in there until you earn the right. In fact I’ve been at places before where the starter would get after the second team guy because he wasn’t doing well enough because he needed somebody to come in for him. If you’re a great football player, you need a little bit of a break every once in a while in a tough, physical game, but you don’t want somebody to go in there that can’t handle his responsibility and help that team win. That’s what this is all about, to find out who -- is it 15 guys? Is it 11? Is it 12 guys? Is it 20 guys? Who earns the right to be out there during the heat of a game.”

Have you had the chance to look at Jake Ryan as a rush end?

“No. We’ve only had two practices. That goes along with the same idea that you put your best 11 on the field wherever they are. Obviously if a guy’s used to playing one position and you have to move him, you may not be as good. But that other guy coming in, the combination of the two might make you just as good.”

How comfortable are you with the thought of him playing there?

“I can tell you this: any time Jake Ryan is on the field, I feel good. Based on how he has worked and -- now again, he has to go through this camp also, but Jake Ryan has really really worked extremely hard. I’ll be interested to see how he does because now it’s [not] new to him either. I don’t know what he gained. He had a very very good offseason as far as strength gains and weight gains and that sort of thing, too.”

Do you have enough confidence in Cam Gordon to move Jake Ryan down?

“Based on the spring and based on last year, I’d say yes. The key again -- everything starts all over today. That’s what everybody has to understand. It doesn’t matter that Craig Roh has started three years. Everything starts all over again every season. You expect a guy that has played three years to really be advanced in how he plays. Cam Gordon went from safety to SAM linebacker. That was a transition for him. He’s gained weight, he’s gotten stronger, now let’s see how he does when we start hitting, and then you’ll know.”

Has Thomas Gordon been able to pick up where he’s left off?

“Again, all I can go by is what Aaron says that they did in the offseason and two practices. Based on that, I’m very optimistic. Maybe a week from now. Maybe two weeks from now …”

You set statistical goals for your defense. When do you start talking about those as a team?

“We have set goals that we have written on a board, written on a wall -- that’s every year. Those goals are based on Michigan. Those goals are based on what is expected to be a winning defense. Those goals are set so that if you reach those, you’re playing Michigan defense. Every team that comes in has to get it to that level to be able to do that. We don’t lower our standard for what we see on the practice field. We have to raise the practice and the talent and the level and that kind of thing to get to that goal … Everything that you do in a practice: pursuit drill, running to the football, tackling, technique work, all of those are what allow a player to then get the numbers that make those goals. That’s our job as coaches and that’s their jobs as players is to work to get good enough to obtain those goals.”

What are some of those goals?

“Well the nubmer one goal is win. That’s the number one goal on our goal board. There’s a third down goal. I don’t know the numbers -- there’s a point goal. All those things. I don’t talk about those in public. They’re in our team, but they know exactly what the number of points you would love to hold them under to be successful.”

Are they realistic goals?

“Do you think I’d give an unrealistic goal? Let me just say this: I think last year, I think they probably obtained a number of those goals in a number of games. Again, I don’t mean to say anything -- all I’m saying is when you look at great football teams, and what it takes to win, you establish set parameters that you have to do. Third downs, red zone, turnovers, missed tackles, all those kinds of things, and then you set what you have to do to be successful in NCAA football. And they know they have to achieve that. If you achieve it you should win, and that’s what the bottom line is.”

Do those goals stiffen in your second year?

“No. You don’t put the goals to what you [or] somebody perceives as your talent level. You put the goals of whoever is playing defensive football has to do to be successful. I would imagine, out of 124 NCAA teams, a lot of them would have the exact same goals. That is kind of what is the formula for winning on defense. So you, as a coach, you have to make sure your players are doing what they have to do to achieve those goals.”

How much more responsibility does Frank’s absence put on Brennen Beyer?

“I think you always have to have -- no matter who it is -- you always have to have a plan B. You always have to have that, and you never go in there with the idea of, ‘Okay, I got a good guy here. I hope he stays healthy.’ No matter what, you always have to have two and you’d like to have three deep of guys -- and they’re always competing. When you have a great defense, then that guy that’s number two or number one, he might want to look over his shoulder, because there’s always somebody that’s going to be there to take the position. I think you always have to go in with that idea.”

MGoQuestion: How has Brennen Beyer’s weight gain (20-30 lbs from spring) affected his speed?

“In the first two practices, again, no pads -- the biggest thing is probably he feels very comfortable at that position now. So he’s had a whole spring going from the SAM linebacker standing up to have his hand on the ground all the time. I don’t think it was 20-some pounds. I think he was like 10 pounds and he got a lot stronger. He just seems more and more comfortable there. That’s what he played in high school, and I think he really feels good about that position.”

The players say they’re more comfortable with you. Are you more comfortable with them?

“I don’t know if you’re more comfortable. I like these guys, I can tell you that. I like these guys because all I do is watch them from when the season was over with through the winter conditioning through summer conditioning, in two practices -- you know what, these are our kind of guys. Whenever you had good people that work really hard and try to be Michigan, then all you can do as a coach is try to do everything you can so that they can feel like Mike and Ryan and those guys did when they walked off the field that last game. You do everything you can so that they can be successful. They’ve been very alert. They’re a fun group to be around. I told them today when [I walked] in there, I said, ‘God, the greatest time of the day is this meeting,’ because you see all those guys and they’re attentive and all that.”

What have you seen from Alabama’s offensive line on film?

“No question. I’m with Brady 100% on that. Watched a lot of film on them. We studied them all offseason. You watch them and they’re very very talented. They’re very physical, and they’re very big, and they’re very experienced. They’re a very very good offensive line.”

What kind of reports have you gotten from Aaron Wellman on Ondre Pipkins?

“It’s so early, you know. You have a guy who a month ago he’s in a class somewhere in high school, and then all of a sudden he’s at the University of Michigan. It’s just too early.”

Has Kenny Demens stepped up to his leadership role as senior middle linebacker?

“So far Kenny’s been like the other backers -- he’s doing what the’s supposed to be doing. Again, when the pads come on and we start hitting, and you’re in the dog days and everything like that, now you can kind of label a guy a leader. That’s where you earn it. These two practices right here, that’s just coming out and doing what you’re supposed to do. It’s not really where you measure anybody. ”

When will you hit for the first time?

“I don’t know. Is it Friday? Friday, full pads. I thought we were hitting the last two days -- I wasn’t sure, ya know, we were … That’s the other thing that Brady’s done a great job of. When you get a more mature team or a team that’s been around the same system, they learn how to practice. Nobody on the ground. And you can get a pretty physical, pretty aggressive practice with no pads on because they protect each other but still go really hard. That’s what you see if you watch an NFL practice. In the rules, they don’t even allow them to wear pads most of the time. They still get some really good practices. And that’s the same thing that we’ll try to do more, too.”

How do you explain last years’ turnover success?

“The one reason is because in our system, we strip in every phase of practice. So any time a ball carrier is running with the football, our defense is trying to get that ball out. When you're not doing live tackling, we’re doing strip--you’re always tugging at that football. The biggest reason--the biggest reason why we had more success on turnovers is because guys ran to the football. The reason you get turnovers is because guys are around the ball. Think of how many times you’ve seen a game where a guy fumbles and the ball’s just lying there and you're going, ‘Come on, somebody get on it!’ Well a huge part of our defense is effort and running to the football because when you do that, you’re going to have more success tackling and you’re going to have a chance to get turnovers, and that’s big for us.”

And is that something you have to teach the freshmen?

“Definitely. We’ll do circuits in practice with that where we’ll practice that, and they see it real clear. Our upperclassmen have done a great job of trying to pseed up the freshmen on what is expected. So much as where you’re watching the tape and something goes on, a senior may say to them, ‘You don’t do it that way. This is Michigan.’”

Class of 2012: The New Numbers

Class of 2012: The New Numbers

Submitted by Seth on August 3rd, 2012 at 8:09 AM

fbl-guide-2011fbguide2012

The 2012 Football Media Guide was released last night. Like all media guides it has lots of information reporters will Google/Bentley anyway if they ever need it. This one also comes with an extensive section on 100-yard rushers and 100-yard rushing duos in case, you know, anyone needs to write an article this year about two guys rushing for over 100 yards in a game or something. It also has a roster. A ROSTER!!! OMIGOD OMIGOD OMIGOD OMIGOD, OBSESSIVE ATTENTION TO ROSTER NUMBERS, GO!

Notable non-bullets:

NO position switches: Everybody who was a thing in spring is still that thing. sayed

Baquer Sayed not on it again. This same thing happened last year and then he turned up back on the team so this could be nothing. (UPDATE: Confirmed he has left the team.) Baquer was in the Spring Game and caught one of those passes listed as "unknown" in the box score. He was a 2010 preferred walk-on, one of those tall, loping-type receivers who look like they're hunched over until they extend to unworldly lengths. He turned down MAC offers to walk on here. Tim Sullivan interviewed him on MGo a few years ago. Yes, that Fordson.

Devin Gardner a junior, not RS soph. You shouldn't expect him to be since they won't say until he applies following the 2013 season, but I always look anyway.

WDEs the Biggest Gainers. Brennan Beyer is now 252 lbs., up 27 from the Spring roster, meaning he has gained the mass of the world's biggest lobster. Space fact: it now takes as much extra energy for Beyer to jump as it takes an astronaut in his space suit to jump from the surface of the moon. Frank Clark is up 32 lbs. for a listed 260. In other guys moving down the line, Jibreel Black is up to 276 (+16) and Roh is listed at 278 (+9).

Holy Ondre! Ondre Pipkins, at 337 pounds, is the biggest dude on the entire roster. For reference, Will Campbell arrived at 309, Richard Ash was 320, and freshman Gabe Watson was 358.* Other freshmen arriving much larger than advertised are Willie Henry (6'3-302, from 6'2-270), Ben Braden (6'6-319, from 285), Erik Magnuson (6'6-290 from 275), Amara Darboh (6'2-218 from 190), A.J. Williams (6'6-282 from 270), The Funchess (6'4-225 from 6'5-205), and James Ross (6'1-225 from 6'0-209). Only RJS arrived smaller than sites said (6'2-206 from 215).

* "That's all?" —everyone my age who ever played against Southfield

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

On to the fully digit-ed freshmen!

No. Name Pos. Ht Wt Note
12 Allen Gant S 6'2 196 Nice compromise btw dad (14) and cousin (2)
13 Terry Richardson CB 5'9 154 154 pounds = 11 stone, $239 U.S., "small"
15 James Ross LB 6'1 225 Much closer to LB size than as a recruit (209)
19 Devin Funchess TE 6'4 225 Much closer to TE size than as a recruit (205)
22 Jarrod Wilson S 6'2 195 Spring
26 Dennis Norfleet RB 5'7 161  
29 Drake Johnson RB 6'1 203  
34 Jeremy Clark S 6'4 191  
35 Joe Bolden LB 6'3 224 Spring
39 Sione Houma FB 6'0 221  
43 Chris Wormley DE 6'5 268  
49 Kaleb Ringer LB 6'1 230 Spring - up 11 lbs. since
50 Tom Strobel DE 6'6 250  
52 Royce Jenkins-Stone LB 6'2 206 Winner of "I'm Ray Lewis" sweepstakes among Mattison LB recruits. Guessing redshirt.
53 Mario Ojemudia DE 6'2 223 Wore 53 in high school
56 Ondre Pipkins DT 6'3 337 He asked for 56 - for Woodley
62 Blake Bars OL 6'5 282  
67 Kyle Kalis OL 6'5 292  
69 Willie Henry DT 6'3 302 How did they miss a kid that size at a program like Glenville?
71 Ben Braden OL 6'6 319 Is this OT depth is see? Size: yes. Technique: unlikely.
78 Erik Magnuson OL 6'6 290 Same as with Braden.
82 Amara Darboh WR 6'2 218 I was so sure he'd take 15
84 A.J. Williams TE 6'6 282 Is it legal to make a guy that size an eligible receiver?
86 Jehu Chesson WR 6'3 183  
99 Matthew Godin DT 6'6 270  

You are welcome to see how wrong I was at guessing. Or you can burn that. You know what, burn that.

Number Changes:

Not as many as in years previous.

Name Pos. Was Now This is not the reason
Drew Dileo WR 26 9 Step 1: Get assigned locker next to Gallon. Step 2: Steal cloaking device.
Devin Gardner QB 7 12 Bought a Gutierrez jersey in '04 before he got his Henne one. Recently discovered it in back of the closet.
Paul Gyarmati FB 99 31 Inaugural "Name Legends" jersey, will include patch honoring Herman Everhardus (1930-'33)

Meet the Walk-Ons:

The new guys. Those listed were not on the spring roster.

No Name Pos Ht Wt Elig Hometown (H.S.)
3 Bo Dever# WR 6'2 189 FR Lake Forest, Ill. (Lake Forest)
6 Brian Cleary# QB 6'3 202 FR Detroit, Mich. (Detroit Jesuit)
18 Devon Micou WR 6'0 184 RS FR Ann Arbor, Mich. (Huron)
31 Andrew Offerdahl S 5'11 192 FR Fort Lauderdale, Fl. (Cardinal Gibbons)
46 Chris Maye# DB 5'11 178 FR Union City, Mich. (Union City)
59 Mark Lawson# LB 6'2 207 FR Ada, Mich. (Forest Hills Eastern)
63 Ben Pliska OL 6'3 267 FR Kirkland, Wa. (Lake Washington)
79 Dan Gibbs# OL 6'7 311 FR Birmingham, Mich. (Seaholm)
91 Kenneth Allen# P 6'3 205 FR Fenton, Mich. (Fenton)
91 David Mitropoulos-Rundus TE 6'2 242 RS FR Ann Arbor, Mich. (Pioneer)
95 Anthony Capatina K 5'9 181 RS SO Novi, Mich. (Detroit Catholic Central)
96 Ryan Glasgow# DL 6'4 285 FR Aurora, Ill. (Marmion Academy)

# = preferred walk-on. Interesting note: Glasgow is listed at DL, though the little chatter about him on the interwebs expected him to be an interior offensive lineman.

Counting Things on Scholarship

brandonandcount

(note: Brink, Heininger and Kovacs counted as scholarship players)

31! Thirty-one scholarship players with junior (19) or senior (12) eligibility, ah ah ah! Last year was 18 juniors and 15 seniors; 2010 was 14 and 11. This year there are only 11 sophomores (since few redshirted in '10 and many did last season.

38! Thirty-eight players left from the '08-'10 classes, ah ah ah! This roster is already mostly Hoke's. Show? Show.

Class of: 2012 2011 2010 2009
2005       6
2006     8 16
2007   9 11 12
2008 8 17 17 18
2009 15 17 18 22
2010 15 18 22  
2011 15 19    
2012 25      
Total on Scholarship 78 80 76 74

7! Seven receivers on last year's August roster who are now gone. Odoms, Grady and Hemingway by graduation, Stonum by action, Stokes and Williamson by volition, Terrence Robinson by unrenewsion. AHHHH!

14! Fourteen scholarship players at defensive back, ah ah ah! As opposed to nine on the roster in 2009.

44! Forty-four of the guys pictured in the Media Guide with facial hair, ah ah ah! This has to be a new record since the '70s.

Team 133 Photo Day

THE THREE STAGES OF BEARDLINESS:

kennydemensnateallspachEliottMealer

They are Demens, Allspach, and Mealer.

TEAM DREAD-FLOW 133!:

JTFloydChrisEddinsbrendangibbonsDenardRobinsonCraigRohStephenHopkins

(EDIT: Almost forgot:

JakeRyanJoeBolden.)

They are Wolverines with lions' manes sticking out of their helmets, soaring through the air in much the same way Odre Pipkins doesn't. They are: J.T. Floyd, Chris Eddins, Gibbons U PUT IT THRU THE UPRITES, Denard with something on his upper lip that shouldn't be there, Roh's left eyebrow, Roh's right eyebrow, Hopkins, the Jake (love the Jake), and Bolden. Here's some dudes trying to get into the club:

ThomasGordonjeremygallonJarrodWilsonDennisNorfleetJusticeHayessethbroekhuizen

T-Gordon, Gallon, Jarrod Wilson, Dennis Norfleet, Justice Hayes, Seth Broekhuizen.

NO LONGER PART OF TEAM DREAD-FLOW:

JoshFurman

Josh Furman.

I KNEW THERE WAS A REASON I CHOSE HIM AS MY TOTALLY UNREASONABLE NAME ON NOBODY'S LIPS TO GET ALL EXCITED ABOUT

DelonteHollowell

Delonte Hollowell. Somebody get this man a bow-tie.

Michigan Museday If the Dudes Get Dinged: D-Line

Michigan Museday If the Dudes Get Dinged: D-Line

Submitted by Seth on July 18th, 2012 at 7:46 AM

BWCNebraska-Heiko2  BarnumRoundtreeRohSpringGame-Heiko
Heiko|MGoBlog

♪ Well a whole season played with the first string guy is usually quite lucky.
And a squad who plays with the second team out can be anything but fussy.
But a team whose seen an important guy down—head concussed, knee on the ground!
If they ain't got depth around, then
all goes to poopie.
To poopie, to poopie, to poopie, but depth is hard to get!
To poopie, to poopie, to poopie, but we can get there yet! /♫

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

This is a continuation from last week when I went through the expected offensive depth chart and tried to predict what would happen—what's the dropoff? how do we react?—if each starter is injured for an extended time. Now, I'm not here trying to roll into town and stir up trouble, see? I'm a purveyor of portents and hedger of predictions only. What I seek to do is prepare us for any one of these dings, so that if one occurs we can say something intelligent like "it hurts to lose Roh but Black is probably the less replaceable!"

Why not all defense? Things slow down from here because the defense has a lot of intermeshing parts, and because there actually is depth in places to speak of. Mattison's er Michigan's defense has been characterized by interchangeable positions but really each spot is more of a sliding scale from NT to field corner where each one overlaps the things on either side of it. The listed spring/recruiting weights play this out (click e-bigitates):

Roster for HTTV

saturn-puntingzoltanQuickly again. Photos are all by Upchurch unless otherwise noted. Ratings are given in Saturn-punting Zoltans. Think of them like stars except more heavenly. Five is an all-conference-type player (Denard to Kovacs); four is a guy you'd call "solid" (RVB to Demens); three is an average B1G player (Morgan to Hawthorne); two is a guy with a big hole in his game (freshman Kovacs); one is trouble with a capital T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for Poole.

Nose Tackle (Avengers)

thor_385F717860141950
Geeks / O. Ryan Hussain|TheWolverine / 247 Sports

Starter: Will Campbell 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5 ???

Backups: Ondre Pipkins 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o ???, Richard Ash 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5 ???

In case of emergency: I'll be honest; this one is impossible to call straight. The 4-3 under is like the 3-4 in that it leans on the nose to suck up double teams and create mismatches elsewhere. The ideal is a superhero, and for the last few years we've had one of the best (by Ghost of Bo).

555238_364284353624692_1537003961_n

Hulk is gone but the franchise must go on, and for now that means we are 100% committed to making Thor work.

thorcampbell

If the old 5-star takes up the hammer he's the pivot point of a great defense. If he doesn't then one of two mystery men could be anything from serviceable to disasters, and most things in between.

The upside on all three of Michigan's nose tackles is mighty. Weirdly, we think we know more about the true freshman, Ondre Pipkins, than the redshirt sophomore. Pipkins was a 4 or 5 star whose huge, squat, Tongan frame and jovial, Hoke-impersonating character made him and Michigan's need for nose tackle a cosmic destiny. If he's got the goods we'll see Pipkins early in spells of Campbell. True freshmen (Martin, Gabe Watson) of his caliber have fared well enough in rotational duty. The later this season goes, the more comfortable you can feel about Pipkins when he's called upon. Caveat: until he's called upon you have no idea if he can hack it, and for every huge dude you can name who could play right away (Marcus Thomas, Suh, Ngata, [sigh] Johnathan Hankins, DeQuinta Jones) there's 30 who need to spend a year as Ben Grimm before being The Thing. /metaphor used up.

In case of dire emergency: …break glass on Richard Ash. Nobody knows on this guy, who was recruited by Rodriguez as the last Pahokeeian project for Barwis to tear down and rebuild. The tear-down went unnoticed through 2010 and '11 and we caught a glimpse of possible rebuild when, 20 lbs. svelter, he made a few plays nice in the backfield. Ash could be anything from ahead of Pipkins to Adam Patterson. If that's where we are I could see Quinton Washington sliding down.

Rush Tackle (3-Tech)

6932489716_dcc6100ca6_oIMG_5048 - CopyKenny Wilkins
Right: Dell Callihan|
UMGoBlog

Starter: Jibreel Black 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5

Backups: Quinton Washington 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5, Ken Wilkins 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o, Matt Godin ???, Willie Henry ???, plus nose tackles

In case of emergency: The coaches have made it clear that Jibreel Black can play, and moving him two slots down the size/speed slide chart of defensive positions means they want him on the field, and that they want 5-tech-ish skills at the 3-tech. This being a swing position means the backups could be different things.

Quinton Washington is a big dude who was an offensive guard until he and Will Campbell were swapped for each other in that experiment. He still looks like a guard, and has yet show much at tackle besides easily dismissible coach hokum right after the move in 2010 so it wouldn't look like Rodriguez was throwing substances at surfaces to see what sticks.

Q stuck although the OL he left is now about as leaky as the DL he came to save. That the coaches moved Roh and Black down the line tells you something about their faith that Washington is ready, and going into his redshirt junior year that might mean he'll never be. He's seen time on goal line situations and is likely to again. Early in the year I wouldn't be surprised if he or Ash—whichever wins—is backing up both interior line spots, and that later on we see some Pipkins and Campbell together time.

In case of dire emergency: Ken Wilkins has been absent enough from chatter that people email me asking if he's still on team. Yes he is on the damn team, and he's still just a RS sophomore, but yeah, there's room for true freshmen on the three deep. Those two seem to be Godin and Henry, the lesser heralded of the heralded class, both of whom would benefit from redshirts. Henry is the larger. Chris Wormley, whom I rate at 5-tech, seems a more likely backup.

Strongside End (5-Tech)

IMG_0886-- Chris Wormley

Starter: Craig Roh 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o

Backups: Nate Brink 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o, Keith Heitzman 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o, Chris Wormley ???, Tom Strobel ???, plus 3-techs.

In case of emergency: Craig Roh has to be the hardest four-year starter to project in history, thanks to many different careers as too-small WDE in a 4-3, a miscast OLB in the 3-3-5, then as the edge rushing WDE in Mattison's 4-3 under. Now he moves to RVB's old spot.

The backup here is almost assuredly Nate Brink, whom the coaches love but the fans hardly know because he's been hurt (he missed Spring because of it). When the coaches talk about the one-time walk-on they make sure to hit all of the Ecksteinian points: "coachable", "hard worker", "toughness", "great technique", "great motor." To that I might add he's 6'5 and 263, which is normal for the position. He's not Heininger (who as a sophomore backed up Brandon Graham), except in that he's some of the things you wrongly thought about Heininger. Then again I remember Brady Hoke making all sorts of guys into effect tech linemen.

If you'd rather see stars, Keith Heitzman is your guy. The beneficiary of the spring time Brink missed, the redshirt fresham was rated higher at tight end out of high school yet apparently good enough at SDE that the coaches moved Jordan Paskorz instead of him. Either this was a promise made at the time of his last-minute recruitment—likely since Tim reacted strongly when I say him and the TE depth chart together—or an endorsement by Hoke that he can play, or both. Best guess is it's both.

In case of dire emergency: Any of the freshmen linemen but Pipkins and Ojemudia are ready built for 5-tech. Of these Chris Wormley was a longtime high school star, which tells me he is probably physically ahead of the other guys right now. Tom Strobel is the other proto-RVB here. One day I expect we'll see the two of them playing next to each other at 3- and 5- respectively.

Weakside End

DEsojemudia

Starter: Brennan Beyer 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5, or Frank Clark 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5

Backups: Mario Ojemudia ???, plus 5-techs

In case of emergency: Well if one goes down the other starts. Following a trend, both Clark and Beyer were OLBs last season, while this spot was rotated between Black and Roh. Though technically a unit change, the job they did last year—outside rusher—and what they'll be called on to do this year are not all that dissimilar. It speaks well to both that they played as true freshmen ahead of once-touted Cam Gordon. Read less into that, since Gordon was hurt to give them the opening and their skillsets are different from his.

They're also different from each other. Beyer was the more highly regarded and will get called "solid" more often because he's less eventful than Clark. Clark has the greater athleticism (see: interception in Sugar Bowl) though has been convicted of multiple accounts of giving up the edge, a freshman mistake repeated in spring. The rest of the D-line by design is meant to free these guys up for sacks, thus I see both rotating. If one goes down we lose the rotation.

The only other designated WDE is freshman Ojemudia, who is about 200 lbs. right now and would be 2009 Craig Roh'ed by most of the OTs and TEs on our schedule. Far more likely, in the event we lose one of the sophomores, we'll see one of the 5-techs or SLBs move in before the shirt is lifted from Mario. Craig Roh has played WDE more than any other spot, and Brink has the coaches' trust to fill in at 5-tech.

In case of dire emergency: Packaging still covers but there's Ojemudia if you need him. Packaging means in pass situations you just put Jake Ryan here and have Cam Gordon or Brandin Hawthorne or a nickel corner come in; otherwise go "big" (for a certain definition of such) with Roh back to wide and whichever backup DT/SDE in the game instead.

Spring Game Primer: Defense

Spring Game Primer: Defense

Submitted by Ace on April 13th, 2012 at 12:06 PM


What, you expected a picture of someone else?

The two-part preview of the spring game concludes with a look at the defense. Part one, covering the offense—including some staggering insight on the kicking game—lives here.

Big Will Style. It is Year 4 of the Will Campbell Breakout Watch, and the stakes are raised this season, as he'll be playing on the first team unless... he'll be playing on the first team. Campbell showed flashes of his five-star talent last season, displaying an ability to overwhelm interior linemen with his strength and surprising quickness. To have the desired impact, however, he must play with more consistency. Yes, this is where we talk about pad level. If Campbell shows he can stay low, regularly push the pile, and simply occupy two blockers to allow the linebackers to make plays, there will be optimism abound about the defense. No pressure, big guy.

Touch (Don't Hit, Please) The Quarterback. Michigan generated a decent pass rush last season, finishing 29th in the country with 2.3 sacks per game, but much of that pressure was generated by now-graduated linemen Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen. The line underwent a major overhaul this spring, with Craig Roh moving to strongside DE and Jibreel Black to three-tech DT, leaving sophomores Brennen Beyer and Frank Clark to battle for the weakside DE spot. The new line is more athletic than last year's edition; Black could be a terror rushing from the inside, where he'll no longer have to deal with his issues playing in space, while both DE spots get an upgrade athletically. The key here is Roh, who's on his fourth position in four years, which has understandably led to less production than expected when he hit campus after a stellar high school career. If he can handle the occasional double-team from the tight end and find a way to get to the QB, this could be a fearsome unit when they pin their ears back, especially with Madman Mattison pulling the strings.

More D-Line, Because It Scares Me. The starting unit (counting Beyer/Clark as a two-headed weakside monster) should be just fine [insert Campbell caveat], but the backups inspire less confidence. Richard Ash hasn't proven much at Michigan except his ability to resemble a small planet while struggling with injuries; that's your backup nose tackle until Ondre Pipkins gets to Ann Arbor. Quinton Washington has seen the field sparingly and hasn't really produced since switching over from guard; that's your backup three-tech unless one of the true freshmen is game-ready this fall. Nathan Brink should be passable at strongside DE, but he's out for the spring game. I guess we'll see how Chris Rock looks as a redshirt freshman. All we're hoping for here is competence, enough to allow the starters to get the occasional breather—remember the Sugar Bowl if you're asking why that's necessary—without putting fans into full-on panic mode.

New Blood. Early enrollee Joe Bolden has seemingly passed everyone but Kenny Demens on the depth chart at middle linebacker, and of the three true freshmen who will play tomorrow he's the most likely to have a big role come fall. He should see the field a lot tomorrow, especially with Demens recovering from a "mild" concussion*. Don't sleep on safety Jarrod Wilson, however, who's also impressed practice observers. Wilson isn't a likely candidate to start with Thomas Gordon returning, but he should provide valuable depth and has the potential to turn into the ball-hawking free safety Michigan hasn't seen since... [racks brain, shows youth, leaves space blank {Ed-S: Tommy Hendricks? Daydrion Taylor? Chuck Winters? Corwin Brown? Ray/Shazor/Adams were all SS} ].

Secondary... Depth? That Can't Be Right. Heading into the spring, the cornerback position appeared settled with returning starters Blake Countess and J.T. Floyd set to reprise last year's role, with Courtney Avery penciled in as the nickel corner. But now, there are rumblings that junior Terrence Talbott is very much in the mix to start, though I'm not sure who the odd man out would be in that situation; Floyd has the experience and was a consistently strong performer last year, while Countess had his ups and downs but clearly has the higher ceiling. Throw in Raymon Taylor providing good competition at nickel, and all of a sudden Michigan has something resembling depth at cornerback. I'll let that sink in for a second.

Sorry not sorry. Heads asplode again when you realize that Wilson and Marvin Robinson allow Michigan to go two-deep at both safety spots as well. Timez are weird these days.

Killa Cam. Cam Gordon spring practice hype? YOU DON'T SAY. We've been through this song and dance before with less-than-desirable results, so color me skeptical when practice rumblings have Gordon pushing Jake Ryan for the starting gig at SLB. While I highly doubt Ryan is displaced—he's poised for a run at all-conference status—Gordon could be a very solid rotation guy, bringing athleticism off the edge and the ability to drop into coverage. With Bolden pushing for time at MIKE and a whole group of players—senior Brandin Hawthorne, redshirt freshman Antonio Poole, and early enrollee Kaleb Ringer—providing competition behind Desmond Morgan at WILL, it appears there's also lots of linebacker depth to go around.

Can I Get a Consistent Big Leg? Will Hagerup and Matt Wile are battling it out for the starting punter spot, something Brady Hoke addressed in yesterday's presser:

“I think they’re kind of neck and neck. One day one of them is really consistent and one day he’s not. The other guy’s consistent. We’re going to do some stuff on Saturday to really put some heat on them and see how they handle that part of it. We’ve been doing that some, but I think in that environment you get a couple more speed guys on there, I think it will be interesting to see.”

Hokespeak translation: Hagerup = inconsistent big leg, Wile = consistent less big leg. We'll see what happens when there are punt cover teams running at them.

The situation would be resolved if Hagerup could eliminate the 30-yard shanks from his repertoire. Unfortunately, he hasn't done that in two seasons as the starter-when-not-suspended. Wile doesn't have the Zoltan-level upside of Hagerup, but his reliability could give him an edge. We won't really get any definitive answers tomorrow—sample size and all—but it's worth keeping an eye on as we edge closer to football season.

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*I think we'll reach the point in the not-so-distant future where we look back and realize there is absolutely no such thing as a "mild" concussion. Oh, my brain had a minor thump into my skull. No biggie.