Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-21-13: Greg Mattison

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-21-13: Greg Mattison

Submitted by Heiko on August 21st, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Were you pleased with your defense during the scrimmage on Saturday?

"I think there were some good things. I think we started off doing some real good things in the different situations that Brady put us in. The black zone, coming out, moving the ball. And then we had a kicking break and we did a lot of the kicking. I wasn't real happy with how we came back. It may seem like a little thing to a lot of people, but I relate that to coming out of the locker room at halftime. When you're a young team, all of those things have got to be addressed. You can't assume -- a veteran team, you'd know, 'Okay, let's turn it up guys. Here's the switch coming out.' You can see when you have a young team, they do a couple things good at times and then all of a sudden, you have to make sure they're hungry and they have to understand how to do it. They have to make sure they do their job every time."

How Are We Feeling About Football Things?

How Are We Feeling About Football Things?

Submitted by Brian on August 19th, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Over the weekend Michigan had a scrimmage that simulated what they'll do for Notre Dame week. Michigan put some ULTRAZOOM highlights on the internet, some guy attempted to UFR them, Heiko attempted to forestall panic about what was contained therein to eagle-eyed watchers. First, let's examine the pore structure of various unidentified Michigan football players:

Countdown to Kickoff 2013: Day 13 - Scrimmage... by mgovideo

Graham Glasgow's playing left guard. More than that, Glasgow was playing left guard because Chris Bryant—not massively-hyped Ben Braden—was held out after having his knee drained. How do we feel about this?

On the one hand, Bryant is a massive human who is a natural guard, whereas Braden is a massive human who is maybe not the best fit on the inside. Having Bryant emerge as a contender at guard gives Michigan more line depth, and when he's been healthy he's drawn praise like this from Kenny Demens:

I’ve always been a fan of Chris Bryant.  That has been my favorite offensive lineman since his freshman year.  I remember his freshman year he was on scout team… whenever he pulled, I don’t care if you were Mike Martin, Ryan Van Bergen, myself, whoever… when Chris Bryant pulled, you were nervous.  You were nervous!  Chris Bryant brings the pain.

On the other, Braden is supposedly the most physically talented guy Taylor Lewan has ever seen and line shifts in camp remind you of last year, when the flippin' and the floppin' made the line like jello, Rudy. A steady hand is always better. Plus, Bryant spent all of last year injured to the point where he wasn't really doing much in spring. I'd heard he had some lingering pain issues from that even now, and he just got his knee drained. Also, Bryant was a decent recruit but not as hyped as you might remember. Only Rivals gave him four stars, and they were so up on his recruitment they ranked a 6'4", 340 pound guy at tackle.

Do we like it? Do we hate it? I don't know man. I think I'd rather hear that Bryant is seriously pushing Braden, who is locked in, instead of a position switch that undoes a position switch from spring. The flippin' and the floppin'. On the other hand, Bryant was not available then and is now. It could just be that he is pretty good.

Braden does get some snaps at that LG spot, BTW. He was off and on, apparently hasn't been practicing much at guard, and struggled some against interior quickness in the spring game. (He also seems to get beat by Willie Henry on a Rawls iso that goes nowhere in the above video.) So… I bet he is the #1 backup at tackle when the season starts and it's Bryant at guard. If that happens I'm going to decrement Braden expectations from "Jake Long 3.0" to "plus right tackle."

Fitzgerald Toussaint Purdue v Michigan D7mJDURiHBXl[1]460x[1]

Toussaint, Hayes

Toussaint looks like Toussaint. In a good way, not Poor Damn Toussaint of last year. No one else did much at tailback except Justice Hayes, who slips out of the backfield from a shotgun set and makes a touchdown catch after Gardner buys some time. Other running back events are Toussaint juking guys, running tough north and south, and picking up yardage. People other than Toussaint get consumed. Sample size qualifiers, obviously, but Toussaint is also getting external validation from insider types and the coaches.

It's one or two carries each for other challengers, thus indicating who has the lead in the race at RB and giving us no other information. Green gets bounced outside and swarmed, looking a little ponderous. Hayes gets to the hole and nailed on by Cam Gordon on a nice play; Ross grabs him in the hole on his next carry. Rawls picks up negative one yards and zero yards (the latter on a play from the two)—picking up where he left off. De'Veon Smith finishes that drive off.

Meanwhile, Hayes: he was reputed to be a spread-oriented back and excellent receiver. Michigan needs a third down back with the graduation of Vincent Smith. Of late I've been asserting that Toussaint should grab that job but if he's entering the season as the out-and-out feature back (which seems likely given his buzz and Green's injury) Michigan will want someone else to pick up linebackers and slip into the flat. Hayes would obviously be that guy. The other backs on the roster are young or bulky.

It does seem like he's locking down that spot. He was the back in all the shotgun snaps, with that touchdown catch and a screen that Dymonte Thomas engulfs.

The first snap is Kalis pulling to Lewan on a power play. Get used to that, kids.

Chesson and Reynolds are the receiving stars. Gallon was held out, probably because he doesn't have anything to prove at this point.

Also, guy who apparently gets injury information no one else gets says Darboh has picked up a boo boo. (Injury guy has since deleted the tweet, undoubtedly after a visit from Biff the Wolverine Enforcer.)  He shows up in the first snap of the video as a blocker and then not again. Assumption: boo boo, held out, don't read too much into it. Injury Guy was right about Derrick Green, FWIW. Michigan was being a little coy with how much he was doing; the two-week estimate was not off base much, if at all. Darboh's thing is supposed to be a rolled ankle, so keep your hands off the panic button.

While you don't want to read too much into a hand-picked collection of pore videos, pencil Chesson and Reynolds in ahead of Jackson and any freshmen when it comes to the #3 and #4 outside receivers. Chesson's catch is pretty dang good, especially as it comes over Blake Countess.

Courtney Avery's playing free safety. This one is negative, I think. Avery's run support has never been a big positive, he's never played the position at Michigan, and it says some not great things about the guys backing up the presumed starters that a "five-eleven", 175 pound guy is getting a look.

One thing it probably doesn't mean: Jarrod Wilson is losing the job. Assumption here is that Michigan is experimenting in case something happens. If it is Wilson losing his job, uh, at least my prediction that we'll miss Jordan Kovacs will have been correct?

Michigan_Ohio_St

Cam Gordon is begging someone to photoshop this.

There is a lot of Cam Gordon in here. Cam Gordon pressures and chases Fitz Toussaint and hits guys and blitzes and whatnot. Beyer's supposed to be pushing Gordon quite a bit, but you can't tell that from this video, not only in terms of appearances but also in terms of Cam Gordon play. Since Beyer was not held out, that would seem to mean something.

There is also a lot of Willie Henry. The mountain wearing 69 is Henry, and he shows up on a bunch of snaps. Black was held out, but there are other guys—Strobel and Ryan Glasgow—who do not feature nearly as much. Most notably Henry helps bury the one Derrick Green carry and engulfs Rawls in the backfield. Something to note, maybe: on that play Richard Ash is also in, playing nose. Henry's at the three-tech. That makes sense with a quality nose rotation in place and a notable lack of size at three-tech. We might see him in a short yardage package instead of Black/Strobel.

It would be something if after this year we look back at ten years of recruiting and Glenville has provided Michigan with as many or even more plus players than Cass Tech.

Man I like that Dymonte Thomas play. Can't see much except Thomas flying up at lightning speed to beat a block and tackle, but me gusta.

[Also in CTK:

Countdown to Kickoff 2013: Day 12 - Special Teams by mgovideo

And Jibreel Black says things.]

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-16-13: Greg Mattison

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-16-13: Greg Mattison

Submitted by Heiko on August 17th, 2013 at 2:36 PM

How are you coming together?

"We're coming together. We are coming together. You know, every day is a work in progress because I think we're so critical and emphatic about doing everything right that when something gets corrected or something gets finally taught to these young guys, now you might spring a leak somewhere else. I guess what I'm saying is we're not ready to play today. I am really excited and really impressed with how, for the most part, we've come out every day and had energy and tried to get better. We've played with some physicality. i don't know that there's a position or a guy that you're looking to count on and say, 'Oh boy, that was bad.' You probably say, 'you've got to step this way' or 'your hands aren't here.' The next play they're going to do it right. That's what keeps you really excited about this group of kids."

Unverified Voracity Likes Pimpkins

Unverified Voracity Likes Pimpkins

Submitted by Brian on August 14th, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Videos du jour. CTK hits up Cam Gordon:

Countdown to Kickoff 2013: Day 17 - Cam Gordon by mgovideo

And the BTN talks M:

Gardner is lauded as "awfully impressive," the OL and WR "deep and talented," and "Fitz looked pretty good"; Howard Griffith entertainingly (and accidentally) refers to "Pimpkins" when talking about the defensive line. DiNardo is just nuts about Mattison.

If you'd like to compare tones, here's the MSU talk. They "lean" Maxwell at QB, but DiNardo says he couldn't pick a guy based on 147 snaps in that practice.

The BTN also has interviews with Frank Clark, Blake Countess, and Taylor Lewan.

That poor EA midlevel exec who has to call up every team individually. Following the lead of the NCAA, the Big Ten and SEC are getting out of the licensing business with EA sports:

"Each school makes its own individual decision regarding whether or not to license their trademarks for use in the EA Sports game(s)," the SEC said in a statement. "The Southeastern Conference has chosen not to do so moving forward.

"Neither the SEC, its member universities, nor the NCAA have ever licensed the right to use the name or likeness of any student to EA Sports."

Ed O'Bannon has 'em on the run.

Good lord man. The Schofield family would do just fine in the Amazon river:

“Schogiving” is a giant Thanksgiving party in either late July or early August, depending when the Schofield boys report to football camp. The party ballooned to 50 people this year with at least 15 pounds of pork tenderloin, a 35-pound turkey and a 20-pound ham. The food is prepared by Kathy in the Schofield kitchen.

“She kind of made up a holiday,” Schofield said. “She wanted to do it. Our whole family is there. She wanted to make a giant dinner and it became our entire family and friends.”

MEAT FOR THE MEAT GOD.

CATCH FOR THE CATCH GOD. Drew Dileo was good and underused last year and it would be beneficial for the team if he was good and properly used this year. I'm generally not a fan of KC Joyner's very basic statistical whatnot articles($), but YPA is YPA:

There are a lot of reasons to think that Michigan's offense will be better in 2013 and Dileo is one of them. In the eight-game sample detailed in the aforementioned article, Dileo racked up a 12.2 overall YPA and an 11.9 YPA on passes that were thrown to him when he started the play lined up as a slot receiver. That latter trait should come in very handy as the Maize and Blue make the full transition to Al Borges' pro-style passing offense.

Joyner names Dileo a potential breakout guy if he gets more opportunities, and I'm with him. More on this in the season preview, but Dileo was very, very good a year ago and I would like him to get five opportunities a game instead of 2.5.

A tribute to McMurty. From Wolverine Historian, as per usual:

Booker on finalists. A little more detail from the local paper:

"Michigan's been recruiting me since the eighth grade, Michigan State's been recruiting me since the ninth grade," Booker said. "They've been around for a while and I have great relationships with both coaching staffs. I've been to both campuses multiple times on unofficial visits, but I haven't visited (either) of them with both my parents at the same time and I want to do that."

Meanwhile, Kentucky: 

"With Kentucky and coach Calipari, you can do everything in basketball you want to do," Booker said. "He puts players in the (NBA) and wins national championships, and builds dynasties. That's what you want to be a part of it, winning national championships and living out your dreams. That's what coach Calipari's been doing the last few years."

But Kentucky might take itself off the board here soon.

Dez Bryant doesn't like it. Dez Bryant opens up about his suspension from the NCAA:

"I did lie. I came back. I told the truth and they suspended me indefinitely," Bryant said. "The way the guy was talking to me was like I did something wrong. I didn’t know it was OK for me to go to someone’s house."

Bryant said he lied because he was scared.

"Right, so I got scared and I lied," Bryant said. "I feel like if anybody else was in my position they probably would have done the same."

He's all like yeah he should be able to sign things:

"Yes. He should be able to," Bryant said. "He should be able to sign as many autographs and make as much money as he wants, because it’s his name. I feel like he’s the one who created it. He should be able to do whatever he feels as long as it’s legal and I don’t think there’s anything illegal about signing a picture of yourself and making money off himself. Shoot, the NCAA is making money off of it when they’re selling those No. 2 shirts. Why can’t he make a little bit of money off of it?"

Is there an answer to that question?

Happy trails en route? It sounds like Michigan is going to lose 2015 SF Luke Kennard to Kentucky:

"It was really cool getting to sit and talk with coach Cal about my game," Kennard said. "Cal's main message to me was just that he wants me in a Kentucky uniform. He told me let's get it done."

While Kennard still denies having a favorite at this time, the class of 2015 product said that he likely will make a decision sometime after his junior season of high school basketball.

Asked about the chances that Calipari get his wish to get him in a Wildcats uniform, Kennard responded, "There's a good possibility."

Unfortunate after Michigan put so much time into the kid, but they'll be fine.

Herbstreit likes us. ESPN man on Michigan:

"But how can you not like Devin Gardner? He's 6-4, he's 215 pounds. He fits perfectly into what Al Borges wants to do. I think Al Borges, to his credit, did the best that he could in a very, very difficult set of circumstances with (former Michigan quarterback) Denard Robinson. Denard will be always hailed and remembered by Michigan fans as being a hero, and yet when you're Al Borges and you're trying to run more of a West Coast, pro-style offense, it's hard to try to make that spread, running-style quarterback work in your system. But they made good strides and did the best they could."

Herbstreit doesn't like back-to-back games for Michigan and Ohio State, which means he is not having a stroke.

Etc.: If you need some faith healing, just leave Tuscaloosa. Michigan will take its time replacing Frank Beckmann. Keith Jackson, anyone?

This Week's Obsession: Handicapping the Position Battles

This Week's Obsession: Handicapping the Position Battles

Submitted by Seth on August 14th, 2013 at 10:38 AM

WAPO

Weird line combinations and depth stuff have been coming out of practice. What should we believe, what's motivational, what's a boo boo, what's anything in this crazy world? We go under cover and bring you the NEWS that HITS the HARDEST (at least until Jake Ryan returns, because he hits harder than our news). The staff:

  • Brian Woodward
  • Seth Bernstein
  • Ace Bradlee
  • Heiko Felt, Sr.
  • Blue in South Katherine Graham
  • Watergathlete
  • Deep Throw

And the question:

Heiko and I have been arguing about this on gchat and I thought I'd bring it to the team. We want to know where you think there are real positional battles going on right now, and how you're handicapping them. For example:

Center: 55% Glasgow, 40% Miller, 5% Kugler
SAM: 85% Gordon, 15% Beyer
Norfleet: 100% Norfleet, 400% Norfleet, Norfleet% Norfleet.

Mathlete: Shouldn't it be Norfleet: 75% Slot, 20% RB, 5% DB, 100% Awesome?

Ace: The lineup seems refreshingly settled at most spots (hooray depth!); the only positions I see having real competition are tailback, outside receiver, center, and strongside linebacker, though it'll be interesting to see if there are any surprises in the defensive backfield with the return of Blake Countess and Dymonte Thomas's potential early impact at nickel. I'm operating under the assumption that Keith Heitzman earns the nod at SDE and Jibreel Black starts at three-tech with Chris Wormley playing a key role as a backup.

Starting from the top, we've discussed the running back battle ad nauseam; Fitz Toussaint should start against CMU and Derrick Green will push for more and more carries as the season wears on. I'll go 99% Toussaint (barring injury) and a 1% chance that Dennis Norfleet gets the season's first carry as Al Borges epically trolls Brian.

[Surprising (and probably meaningless) revelations and scandal, minus the scandal, after the jump]

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-8-13: Brady Hoke

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-8-13: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on August 8th, 2013 at 8:12 PM

Bullets:

  • Brennen Beyer and Derrick Green have boo boos. They sound minor and are expected back as early as Saturday.
  • Allen Gant's move to SAM has been confirmed.
  • MGoLeadingQuestion reveals that Devin Gardner loves the pistol formation and that they are running read options out of it still.
  • Wooooooo.

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

Opening remarks:

"Day four, shoulder pads and helmets for the second day. Full pads tomorrow. Not doing any tackling or anything like that, but a lot of good competition. Hasn't changed much. Guys are competing, learning the system a little more, especially when you've got some guys who have only been here a year, so they're going through that process. Things happen fast, so they have to adjust. When you have to adjust on both sides, tracking the line of scrimmage as an offensive lineman, we have to do a better job of. Defensively, we have to make sure we're putting ourselves in position to feed the defense and leverage the defense. It's pretty easy against barrels when  you do that, but when you start doing it with live bodies, we have to do a better job of that and not give up any big plays. I think all the guys are competing very well. It's really been physical. We'll be in full pads tomorrow. The first doubles on Saturday will be good for us."

<More after the jump>

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-5-13: Brady Hoke

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-5-13: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on August 5th, 2013 at 8:41 PM

Bullets:

  • Dennis Norfleet is now a slot receiver. God bless the broken road.
  • Fitz Toussaint, Chris Wormley, and Blake Countess are full go.
  • Jake Ryan spends most of practice running with trainers; no contact yet.
  • Freshman participation will be spotty until next Tuesday due to classes.
  • Most of this week will be limited contact (helmets and shoulder pads). First practice in full pads is on Friday.
  • Channing Stribling and Jourdan Lewis are among the candidates for punt/kick returner.
  • Fitz says that he will be the starting tailback for the season opener.

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

I call this the "cameraphone" filter. Is Instagram even cool anymore? Was it ever cool?

Opening remarks:

“Ahem. Excuse me. I don’t have a real good voice, and it’s only day one. But it’s good. It’s great. It’s great to be out there, it’s great to be with the kids again. I like the competitiveness, the energy, which is something you would think they would have starting fall camp. Hopefully we can continue that consistently all throughout fall camp. I thought we moved around real well. There was great competition on both sides of the ball. I think we’ve learned how to practice with no pads on in a manner that’s physical. It was a good day, good start. We’ve got a long way to go, as we all know.

“One position change was we took Dennis Norfleet and he’s playing receiver now for us in the slot position, which opens up some things for him when he gets the ball in his hands. He’s got a lot to learn still from a formation standpoint and routes and option routes and all that. I think it’s going to be a good position switch for him and us.”

Can you talk about how Blake Countess and Fitz Toussaint looked?

“They looked great, and you’ll get a chance to talk with both of them, but they both did everything that we’re doing. They both looked good running around, speed and cutting ability and all that stuff.”

How important was it to see both of those guys today in camp?

“Well, I think it was a great start. The one thing we’ll be wary of is the grind of camp and two-a-days and all those things. We’ll be conscious about are we getting them tired, are they starting to favor one leg or another, all those kinds of things. But it was good to see them out there. Their teammates like it when they’re both out on the field.”

What were you looking for today?

“I think some of the things about the difference in some of the bodies. Willie Henry and Taylor [Lewan] we’ve talked about, but a guy like Blake Bars and [Kyle] Kalis and Quinton Washington – the big guys and how much better they look, how much stronger they are. The body fat ratio and all that. It was good to get the freshmen and watch them a little bit. They’re the ones who are still in classes for another six days, seven days, so it’s hard to get them there full time, but we got a little bit at the end with those guys, so it was good to see them.”

Did you notice the seniors coaching up the freshmen?

“Yeah, and that’s one thing we tried to do since day one. Your seniors have got to do a tremendous job. We coaches can’t see everything. We can coach a guy, and when we do that, maybe they get tired of hearing our voice, so when it comes from somebody else, and somebody else who has that experience, I think it really helps our coaching ability, and it also helps those kids.”

Was practice fast?

“Yeah I liked the tempo, I liked the structure of it. I like how we went from drill to drill and how the offense broke the huddle and approached the line of scrimmage and defensively how the kids got on the field and off the field.”

How was Shane Morris?

“You know, he took snaps obviously. Had some good throws and then had some throws maybe you’d like to have a better decision. But he’s everything we thought he can be.”

Derrick Green?

“Derrick had a couple runs in there. Some of those get here late because of class, but he had really good vision on a power play and did a nice job.”

When do you get those guys full time?

“Tuesday.”

Tomorrow?

“No. A week.”

Did you have Jake Ryan do anything other than watch?

“He runs with the trainers. I mean, he runs and he does some of our walk-through stuff. He’s acted like a really good coach when we’re doing some of the other stuff, but he’s running a lot with the trainers as they go through the rehab.”

How did Chris Wormley’s recovery go, and what are your expectations?

“Well, we have high expectations for Chris. He’s a great looking kid. I think he’s about 48 or 49 weeks from surgery, so it’s almost a year. At the end of spring he was doing everything. I think we’ve got a lot of great competition, and he’s part of that competition.”

How do Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson look at receiver?

“I thought they both looked pretty good. You have [Drew] Dileo and [Jeremy] Gallon and those two, and Jeremy Jackson and Joe Reynolds, but they both had a good day. No one’s perfect by any means; we weren’t perfect coaching, and we have to make sure we’re doing that, but I like the two lengthy, rangy wide receivers. They both run very well.”

Do you sense hunger from Cam Gordon?

“I would say that he’s really, since a year and a half ago, he’s really done a great job when you look at how he’s prepared himself, how he listens, how he pays attention to everything that’s going on. His leadership has been really good. His physicalness and his strength and what he looks like is a lot different than a year ago. He’s competitive and I think he’s done a really good job. Does he feel more pressure because Jake’s out? I don’t think so because he’s just such a competitive guy.”

Do you look back at the run of injuries last year and question whether it was something you did or whether it was just a freak thing?

“I think it’s kind of a freak thing. I think we hit as much and maybe more the year before, and we went all the way to the Sugar Bowl before we got anybody dinged up. I don’t think so, and I know how much Aaron [Wellman] does with the different preventative things that you do, which I’m not an expert on, so don’t ask me what those are. He’s always done a great job with it. Some years you have it and some years you don’t.”

Will Devin Gardner be hands off for all of camp?

“Yeah. And we pretty much have done that with quarterbacks since we’ve been here. Every once in a while you’ll get a guy get a little overanxious as a defensive player or he gets his hands up and the quarterback follows through or he’ll knock an offensive lineman back and the quarterback follows through, so we’ll try and be as cautious as we can with all of them.”

Does it help that he has the experience of getting hit, so he knows the physical side of it?

“And I think a year ago, playing receiver a little bit, that helped. He had to go down and block, take on safeties and linebackers and all those things, so that helps a little bit.”

Will you give Shane and Brian Cleary more snaps?

“Well, Shane’s got to continue to prove it and so does Brian, obviously, but we’ve got to give Devin the amount of snaps that he needs, and at the same time we’ve got to see who the second guy’s going to be, make sure we’re doing a great job evaluating and make sure we’re doing a great job getting them the snaps that can be evaluated.”

Has Devin picked up where he left off?

“Yeah I think so. It’s hard after one day, though. I’m just excited that we took the field and how they came out. They went through meetings all day yesterday on administrative things, and really came in this morning and got the football part of it. [I liked] how they came out in walkthroughs this morning and how they came out in practice this afternoon.”

When do you put pads on?

“I think Wednesday we’re shoulder pads and helmets. Thursday shoulder pads and helmets. Friday will be full pads.”

Keith Heitzman played as a redshirt freshman. How much will that experience help?

“Anytime you have experience, I think that helps, even if it’s not in-game playing experience, but he does have some of that now. I think that helps. But at the same time those younger guys that redshirted, I think it will be really good competition.”

How will you determine the center battle?

“Well Darryl [Funk] will do a nice job. He’s always done a nice job with how he puts together snaps for those guys in practice. He’ll have every snap counted. He’ll have every drill where it’s a fair assessment for both guys, depending on which quarterback you’re with, what guard you’re with, all those things. It’s a great competition. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch and let them fight it out.”

MGoQuestion: At the end of spring, you had Delonte Hollowell and Courtney Avery take snaps with the first team and Raymon Taylor with the second team. Did that reflect the depth chart, and will that carry over into this fall?

“Well, I think the depth chart’s even more stacked now. Ross Douglas came in the spring, so he’s got some good work. I think [Channing] Stribling and Jourdan Lewis, those guys – you look in that room with coach Mallory and those first year guys, it’s a pretty interesting room. The competition will definitely be hot and heavy at the corner position. Having Blake back is something that’s good for us, good for our football team, but they all will do a great job of competing.”

We talked about targeting in Chicago. Will you go over which plays that will now be illegal?

“Yeah in fact we’ll see the NCAA officials, they make a DVD. It’s probably on flash or whatever it is you do on a computer. But it will be watched tonight, talked about tonight. We talked about it last night. Championship teams don’t hurt themselves with dumb penalties or dumb decisions. So we have to be cognizant of all of them.”

Do you sense that Blake and Fitz are comfortable? IS there any hesitancy?

“No I think they feel great. I haven’t seen any, and haven’t since the end of spring. I know how hard both of them worked to put themselves in position to be able to play.”

You seem to be a little thin at safety. Are any of your veteran corners practicing at safety at all?

“No. You know, there’s enough safeties in there, too. Dymonte [Thomas] plays nickel, but we’re playing him more at safety, which is more of a true position for him. I think our depth at both of those positions is pretty strong.”

Are you going to be able to try out any freshman in the return game?

“Well, we’ll work all the other fundamentals, and we’ll work the fundamentals with them. Usually we start practice with specialists. We end practice in one segment with specialists because they’re all here on Mondays, Wednesdays. They’ll all be here.”

Who are you looking at for returner?

“Well, Jourdan Lewis is a guy. Stribling’s a guy who’s had work at it. From a receiver perspective, Jehu and Darboh are guys that have done it before, and I know they’re not in that same class. We’re kind of working six guys on the team with punt returns and some of those guys are kickoff return guys.”

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

 

Players

  

Fitz Toussaint:

  • "I will be the starting running back on August 31."
  • Felt he was at 80-85% in spring. Now at 100%.
  • Got tackled by the previously-broken leg and felt fine.
  • Reputedly beat Gardner in agility drills.
  • Still has sweet dance moves.

Blake Countess:

  • Doesn't really anticipate a whole lot of new stuff from Greg Mattison with regard to the corner position, but "we'll see."
  • Is playing at both "left" and "right" corner. So no real distinction between field and boundary at this point.
  • Teammates have said that he looks "better than before the injury."

Taylor Lewan:

  • Carries around a milk jug full of ... water. Drinks a gallon and a half a day apparently. 
  • Doesn't care that players from other teams say that Michigan's run-blocking was kind of crappy last year. Says it's a new offensive line, and it's unacceptable for them to be bad at any aspect of line play.

Hokepoints: The Marlin-Brian Q&A

Hokepoints: The Marlin-Brian Q&A

Submitted by Seth on April 16th, 2013 at 10:43 AM

DSC_1914

photoshoppers, start your GNUs

So we did the meet and greet Q&A thing, and other than the liveblog portion being pretty much a disaster, A+++ would do again. I couldn't type fast enough to keep up with all the good info in the Q&A so below I've written up those answers plus some we answered after the fact via email. logo

We're tentatively talking another one the Friday night before the Notre Dame game, so calendar that. If you're coming in from out of town, Jared of Sports Power Weekends, who sponsored this whole thing, mentioned he's putting together a trip for that weekend that includes tickets for the game and a private tour of the Big House before we do drinks and ALL THE SHANE MORRIS.

Some things went way better than expected and other things not so much. Didn't go well: We had no way to plug our mic into the speaker system, fortunately remembering just in time that bartenders have friends with guitar amplifiers. The other thing that could have gone better is we forgot to warn Brian that Jehu Chesson was in the audience before your favorite blogger launched into his heuristic reasoning as to why Amara Darboh would be more effective this year because Chesson is still a waif.

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New heuristic: Chesson sitting = Heiko standing minus an inch.

Did go well: lots of luminaries showed up. Players current and former included Chesson, Countess, Donovan Warren, and John Duerr. An incomplete list of bloggers: Bryan Mac (aka BiSB), MGoPhotographers Eric Upchurch and Bryan Fuller, Burgeoning Wolverine Star, Lloyd Brady, M-Wolverine, Craig Ross, and LSAClassof2000. Epic shirts: Heiko's bubble screen smile, and a Branch-Morelli sweatshirt.

In things that surpassed all expectations, let me being with actual nicest guy in the universe Marlin Jackson himself. Walking out of the game to his car took about 25 minutes because he signed every hat, helmet, t-shirt or whatever thing put before him. We talked NBA decisions, how the Jake Butt TD was on Jarrod Wilson's as-yet-unadvanced field awareness, and that the biggest difference with this staff is they "teach football."

After being introduced by Brian as "the man who still has Reggie Williams in his back pocket," to kick off the Q&A Marlin talked about his Fight for Life Foundation. He was candid about his youth: Jackson grew up in the projects with a mother addicted to drugs and a father he never met. As you can imagine this isn't the best way to learn things like accountability, the value of an education, or even your own value and that of others. Marlin learned these things through Michigan; it's the goal of his foundation to give similarly underprivileged kids the opportunities he received because of his athletic talents.

Fight for Life runs three programs: Field of Dreams (link) is an in-school and after school program that basically helps get the kids back up to speed with their classmates. Seal the Deal (hyperlink) is a series of leagues and football camps for youth through high school with an educational/character-building component. R.A.P. (reach out and access your peers – url) is an SEL* program that gets kids to open up through, e.g. a discussion of their future aspirations or by presenting a paper on their favorite song lyrics. They need to raise about $200k per year to fund these programs.

fightforlife

* Social and Emotional Learning, the spread offense of education. Full context is linked above but you may cognate as learning that's the opposite of 'Another Brick in the Wall.'

We then talked about things like that one year the Colts paired Manning with a real defense, which receivers were the hardest to cover, and his impressions on the young defensive players at Michigan today. That after the jump. But first here's three generations of next-Woodsons:

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Fuller has a nicer version on the Flickr collection but this one I took on Countess's phone is superior for capturing our new official Robot Ace Anbender headshot.

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Spring Stuff: The Mostly Defense Bit

Spring Stuff: The Mostly Defense Bit

Submitted by Brian on April 15th, 2013 at 3:38 PM

Highlights Again

New Gentlemen

The early enrollees to catch my eye were Dymonte Thomas, Jake Butt and Taco Charlton. Thomas played exclusively at the nickel spot; with Countess still not taking contact Avery mostly played outside. Anyway, Thomas's presence at the nickel is not unprecedented. They've wanted bigger guys there for a while, it seems. Michigan wanted to go with Thomas Gordon there before they determined he was needed at safety; Ohio State actually calls the spot their "star" linebacker, and it's usually featured safety-sized clubbers. Their current guy, Christian Bryant, may not wrap up but he will thump you if he gets a chance.

It seems like it would be hard to replace a long-term starter like Courtney Avery. In this situation, rumors that Avery is dogged by a chronic injury lend it some plausibility. Nickel is a spot at which freshman screwups are usually first downs, not touchdowns.

As everyone's already said, Charlton looks the part and then some. He was struggling in a drill before the scrimmage where half the OL would play half the DL on zone running, getting blown out of his assigned lane; once he got some time against the backup OL he dominated. Unless Cam Gordon's really good, he and Ojemudia will duke it out for the nickel DE spot Ryan's injury has vacated.

Butt looks like Funchess, except not quite as long. A redshirt would be ideal.

The Line

Here's some credence for Jake Ryan's mid-October recovery timeline: Chris Wormley tore his ACL in mid-August. Eight months later he took a bunch of contact snaps in the spring game. Mid-October is 7 months from Ryan's ACL tear.

Jibreel Black looked bigger than 276 pounds, frankly not far off Quinton Washington's girth. Michigan likes stunting him a lot, which is partially a way to take advantage of his quickness and partially a way to mitigate his lack of size. A stunt got that safety on the second play, as Clark and Black swapped. Both got past their guys, with Ross finishing up. Black's pressure helped force the near-INT from Morgan, too; he got a sack by shooting past Ben Braden.

Frank Clark and Taco Charlton had a hard time against Lewan and Schofield—no shame in that—and then started crubberating the backups. Since most of those backups are freshmen or walk-ons it's hard to get a read on how they'll do against mortal starters. Clark had a big cast on one hand, so increment your opinion of his performance.

Richard Ash made a couple plays, swimming past Glasgow on a Rawls run that broke outside because of poor contain; Keith Heitzman was able to beat the walk-ons but didn't do much against the starters. Matt Godin looked the part but has a ways to go. The SDE spot looks a little weak.

I didn't notice much from the nose tackles. I assume Washington is fine; Pipkins has another year apprenticing.

Linebacker Skynet is online?

That James Ross stick on Drake Harris mentioned in the previous post is becoming the most-discussed play from the spring game. It's as surprised as any of you are. MGoUser Michael Scarn picture-paged it, making the same assumption I did when I saw it: the linebackers are headed to the line of scrimmage as quickly as they are because this is a blitz.

[1:07 PM] Heiko Yang: according to mattison that wasn't an A-gap blitz
[1:07 PM] Heiko Yang: is that plausible?
[1:07 PM] Brian Cook: what was it?
[1:07 PM] Heiko Yang: he said that was just them reading and reacting
[1:07 PM] Heiko Yang: they're that good
[1:07 PM] Brian Cook: that's like skynet coming online

I don't think it's quite that. The blocking on this play is majorly screwed up. He's a screenshot from Mr. Scarn:

Screen_Shot_2013_04_15_at_12_37_28_PM[1]

Jack Miller is in space, blocking no one. AJ Williams, at the bottom of the shot, isn't really blocking anyone either. He's moving past Ojemudia and only decides to block him once he sees air in front of him. Ojemudia should have to account for the QB if unblocked, so I think there's a reasonable case that you have two extra guys on the backside who should not be there, which then gets you the two extra unblocked linebacker sorts.

Trying to figure out what's going on with the defense is hard, then, because the play they're up against is a debacle. Yes, that's a little ominous. Let's ignore it!

It is nice that Ross reacts basically the instant Kalis tilts to pull. If this isn't a blitz, it is a killer read.

Screen_Shot_2013_04_15_at_12_36_01_PM[1]

Whether this is over-aggression or Ross having magical pattern recognition is yet to be determined. What we've seen of him so far indicates the second.

Cam Gordon

Many eyes were on Gordon, including mine. I thought he did fine. In that aforementioned zone drill he was consistently getting the right amount of penetration into the backfield, holding the edge without opening up a crease inside of him. That ability to get the edge flashed on the negative Norfleet run. When deployed as a pass rusher, he was effective; nothing seemed to be on his head. Michigan will be fine at SAM.

FWIW, Brennen Beyer actually started. Gordon looked like a much better option, which isn't surprising since Beyer just got yanked back to SAM in the aftermath of the Ryan injury.

Secondary

The safeties were not important. They got beat on the long Funchess catch (against Jeremy Clark, FWIW) and the Butt TD; most of the rest of the gains were to the outside. As we enter the post-Kovacs era that's a good sign. Jarrod Wilson is your tentative leader at the vacated safety spot. You might want to make that "heavy"—it seemed like they were running him out all the time in an effort to prep him for fall. Clark got more PT than Furman or Robinson, it seemed.

On the outside, Raymon Taylor gave way early after playing well. Usually the early hook is a sign of confidence in your abilities, so mark his starting spot in pen. Avery, Hollowell, Richardson, and freshman Douglas were the guys getting tested. Courtney Avery got beat on the opening play. That was admittedly a perfect throw that he could do nothing about once he had failed to get Darboh close enough to the sideline to cut off that space. That's a size mismatch. A little less salutary is getting beat by Jackson a couple times on comebacks and such. One of the memorable plays from last year's spring game was Countess having Jackson in his pocket for an interception; Avery was some distance from a not particularly fleet receiver. He did get a PBU on a bad Gardner throw underneath. That appears to be his comfort zone.

I was surprised at how well Delonte Hollowell showed. He broke on a lot of balls, getting some breakups, and he stuck pretty close to the shifty Gallon. I'm not sure how much that means when Michigan was dead set against playing him in the bowl game. Gallon is the perfect matchup for the tiny Hollowell. Bigger receivers will cause issues, and it's clear what kind of corners the new staff is after: big ones.

Terry Richardson got run over by Rawls. Hard to see him getting PT outside of passing downs, and it looks like Avery and Thomas are ahead of him on the nickelback depth chart.

Ross Douglas didn't stand out to me. During the anthem he was next to Taylor and seemed to be exactly the same height, FWIW.

Special Teams

Nothing much to note except that redshirt freshman punter Kenny Allen looked pretty good. I've heard he's been impressive in practice, as well. I'd imagine Matt Wile will keep the job since he has been a B, B+ option; if Allen takes it that's a good sign. Michigan looks set at that spot for a while.

Elsewhere

Rittenberg notes that the fireworks were not on display:

Michigan fans didn't learn a ton about the 2013 team as the offense, as expected, was "very vanilla, very basic," as starting quarterback Devin Gardner put it.

If you're pining for the pistol, don't give up hope.

Also, Lewan noted some improvement from the line:

"We moved and established the line of scrimmage today, and I think that is one thing that we haven't seen in a while," senior left tackle Taylor Lewan said. "But what we do in the summer and do in fall camp is really going to define us as an offensive line."

Photos from Maize and Blue Nation, MLive, MVictors. Rothstein on vanilla. Jennings on the defense. Rothstein takeaways. Meinke's takeaways. Also a column on Gardner kind of being good.

Toussaint is still the leader at RB according to Borges:

"We went through half the year (in 2011), and we said, 'We're going through this doggone running back by committee deal.' And we finally decided, Let's put him in there, leave him in there and let's go,'" offensive coordinator Al Borges said. "Fitz came to the surface, and I think he will again (this year) before it's all said and done.

"He's certainly going to get a chance to prove it. I'll say that."

Magnusthoughts:

The starters were Brennen Beyer at SAM, Desmond Morgan at MIKE, and James Ross at WILL.  I don't think Beyer is a starter-quality linebacker, and he didn't really make any plays.  Morgan dropped an interception and failed to get depth on Jake Butt's touchdown catch, but he did look solid against the run.  Ross looked fantastic at weakside linebacker, chasing down plays near the sideline and hitting running backs at the line of scrimmage.  Cam Gordon looked like the superior player at SAM, made a nice tackle for loss on Dennis Norfleet, and blew up Butt on a Power.  Joe Bolden looked solid at MIKE, but I'm concerned about the backup WILL position.

I'm looking at Bolden as the first LB off the bench in any event, so they'd have to take two bullets to be in serious trouble at the ILB spots. Maize and Brew. Big House Blog. Maize and Blue Nation.

Spring Football Q&A With Marlin Jackson and MGoBlog

Spring Football Q&A With Marlin Jackson and MGoBlog

Submitted by Seth on April 13th, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Sponsor:

 

 

We're live from R.U.B. BBQ. Epic thanks to Jared Cooper of Sports Power Weekends who sponsored all this.

Liveblog Chaos Mitigation Post. O heavy lightness, serious vanity, prevent the misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms.