Spring Practice Presser 4-12-18: Mike Zordich

Spring Practice Presser 4-12-18: Mike Zordich

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on April 13th, 2018 at 10:05 AM

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[Bryan Fuller]

[Ed. A- So my wife and I had a baby a week ago and since then I think of sleep like I used to think of vacations, like, “Oh, that would be nice to do someday.” Last night I caffeinated just in time for the baby to actually fall asleep, so I had a chance to transcribe this. Huge thanks to Orion Sang for passing along the audio.]

How’s your group look?

“Our group looks good. The guys that are out there are working their tails off and pleased with the progress.”

So you’re not going to come here and do what you did last camp?

[laughs] “We’re just gonna talk about the guys that are out there practicing, getting better, how about that? That fair enough to say?

“Yeah, but Ambry Thomas, B. Watson, David Long, then you got a young guy in Myles Sims who still should be in high school, he’s our here working his tail off getting better, so it’s been promising. Then Hunter Reynolds, a walk-on, really getting better, so it’s been good for ‘em.”

You mentioned Ambry Thomas. What’s the biggest difference in him from year one to year two?

“He is very comfortable now. We were just talking about it over there about maturity level. You know, last year we were so young and now all the sudden these guys have had some playing experience and it has helped them, and so that’s last year and now you’re walking into a new year and just much more confident. And things are slower for them, and he’s been really improved. [Inaudible] with the ones quite a bit, so he’s been showing up a bunch.”

If he’s been working with the ones does that mean maybe that Vert moves into the inside? Are you guys messing around with those combinations there?

“Well, yeah, you know, Vert hasn’t practiced, so he’s losing valuable time, unfortunately for him. But it allows Brandon Watson to continue to get better, Ambry THomas to get better, David Long to get better, and as I mentioned Hunter and Myles. So, it’s great for those guys. They’re just growing by leaps and bounds.”

Why hasn’t Hill practiced?

“He’s got an issue with his hips or his groin. Trying to figure that out.”

[After THE JUMP: who’s rising, who’s out, and where guys might end up]

Jimmystats: The 2018 Class in Context, Part II: Defense

Jimmystats: The 2018 Class in Context, Part II: Defense

Submitted by Seth on March 2nd, 2018 at 10:22 AM

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Very different types of 3-stars [Eric Upchurch, 2013]

This is take two (take one got deleted) of Part II of my attempt to put the recruiting rankings of this year’s commits in context within the ~500 previous Michigan commits we have Part I: The Offense lives here.

Since the last one I’ve been dealing with a health thing. In fact I’m writing this from the hospital, where they’ve had me holed up since last Friday. Between tests, consultations, vitals, and literally almost 100 needle pokes into my vascular system, I’ve had time to complete a substantial update to my roster database, which now goes all the way back to Gary Moeller’s first year, plus some long overdue tweaks to how I value position and regional rankings.*

I’ve also been playing around with interactive charts on Tableau:

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Click to get to the chart since I can’t figure out how to get embedding to work yet. I’m new at these so bear with me as I learn.

* [Methodology for stat nerds: I averaged the 247 composites of each rank for each position, then plotted it on a graph and used the logarithmic formula]

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STRONGSIDE DEFENSIVE END

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Young Wormley was 70 percent potential, 30 percent hair [Upchurch/Bryan Fuller]

After Michigan loaded up with linemen last year and secured two one of the top DEs for 2019, they could afford to get picky in 2018. They still got one potentially immediate contributor and two excellent choices for sleepers of the class. Aiden Hutchinson got a late ratings bump from the sites which pushed him up from a near-perfect Ryan Van Bergen comp to “not just a four star” range.

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The only relatively recent guy Michigan captured in this range was Craig Roh, but if Rivals hadn’t been so contrarian with Wormley I think that would be your closest comp. 247 was the highest on Wormley and came out about the same on Hutchinson’s kid. He’s supposed to be coming in to play defense but if you want to project him at guard, well, here’s the closest comp:

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We have to scroll down to the mid 3-stars for Taylor Upshaw and Julius Welschof:

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Note that’s not “generic three star” like Greg Brooks/Rondell Biggs, but neither is it “just missed a fourth star” like Carlo Kemp and Jibreel Black. As I said, I love the potential with both of these guys. Upshaw is the son of an NFL player who didn’t start playing football until recently. Welschof is a German athletic freak and mogul skiier who gathered a lot of interest from the big-time schools he camped at. The recruiters were always playing catch-up there too. Rivals didn’t take to Welschof—otherwise the sites placed them in the same range as some other position-switchers or needs-to-gain-weight types with high ceilings to unwrap in a few years.

Defensive end is a position where the talent apparent in high school translates more directly to an NFL career:

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(and that’s totally the reason I showed this)

Fortunately for our hopes here the only guy from the three-star bin considered an athlete on the level of Upshaw and Welschof was Shelton Johnson, and his career crumbled for off-field reasons.

[After THE JUMP: used to be better before I had to rewrite all of it]

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National Signing Day II Presser: Jim Harbaugh

National Signing Day II Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on February 8th, 2018 at 10:35 AM

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[Fuller]

“Hello. Good to see everybody.”

Jim, couple misses today but the new guys that you did get, what do you think about the class?

“Very excited about the class. First time we’ve had two signing days, so many that you know about and proud to announce, officially, Shea Patterson—talked about him; Ronnie Bell, can officially announce Ronnie; Casey Hughes, who’s also a graduate transfer; Vince Gray; Michael Barrett. So, welcome to the Michigan family.”

You started talking about Ronnie the last time inadvertently, but what is it that you like about Ronnie?

“Love all his athletic ability. Start off with production: 86 catches, close to 1200 yards, Simone Player of the Year in Kansas City, player of the year in football. He’s also an excellent basketball player and…love the family, love him. Production. Production being the key thing.”

MGoQuestion: What are you getting in Michael Barrett and do you envision him starting off at quarterback or running back or somewhere else?

“Envision him getting the ball in his hands. Wide receiver, slot receiver, running back: those two areas primarily for him. Spent some time with Anquan Boldin, who was also a high school quarterback. Played some quarterback in college, and eventually wide receiver. Somebody that can get the ball and make yards after the catch or yards after contact. A receiver who can run like a running back and, also, I think he’ll have the ability to be a running back. So, different areas that Michael could get the football, including quarterback.”

Now that it’s all over and you’ve had the two signing days, you’ve had the coaches moving in between, with all of it together, what did you learn about this…new world, I suppose? What did you take away from it overall?

“I don’t know what the numbers exactly will be but somewhere around 80% seemed to sign on the first signing day, and then there was 20% more that signed throughout college football. I think our numbers will be pretty close to that. There was a priority for the youngsters to sign on the first signing day. That’s the biggest thing, the biggest takeaway.”

[After THE JUMP: possible positions for Ryan Hayes and Casey Hughes, another spring abroad, and thoughts on new staff additions (including those no longer here)]

Belated Hello: Casey Hughes

Belated Hello: Casey Hughes

Submitted by Brian on January 24th, 2018 at 12:34 PM

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This one slipped through the cracks as Ace and I discussed the greatest arthropods in the history of baking: Michigan's picked up a frankly bizarre grad transfer, Casey Hughes. Hughes isn't bizarre. Hughes is probably a nice young man. But the circumstances that would take a starting cornerback for Utah and deposit him on a Michigan roster that returns three starter-quality CBs and Ambry Thomas are hard to fathom.

And it does appear that Hughes was one of Utah's preferred starting CBs when healthy. Opponent blogs usually have a clear—and sometimes jaundiced—eye towards guys who have just left the roster, and this was Block U's take on Hughes's spot:

After playing mostly on special teams to start his career, Hughes, one of the fastest players on the team, earned a starting cornerback role in 2017 following the departures of four starters in the secondary. Hughes, a North Las Vegas, Nev. native, recorded 35 tackles and one pass breakup and had two forced fumbles against the Arizona Wildcats that helped Utah secure that win in Tucson, Ariz.

Injuries limited Hughes to end the 2017 season. He missed the game against the Washington Huskies and had to leave the game against the Colorado Buffaloes due to injury, which also kept him out of the Heart of Dallas Bowl win over the West Virginia Mountaineers. Hughes also would have likely been facing stiff competition for playing time as a senior from Jaylon Johnson and Julian Blackmon, a second-team All-Pac-12 selection and Heart of Dallas Bowl MVP.

Hughes was part of an excellent secondary; Utah finished 14th in pass defense to S&P+ despite a pass rush that ranked 94th nationally. His stats are pretty nondescript, but that's often a good thing with cornerbacks. A lack of PBUs is maybe a concern. Michigan's CBs had some pretty absurd tackle/PBU ratios this year:

  • Lavert Hill: 20 tackles, 7 PBUs
  • David Long: 17.5 tackles, 6 PBUs
  • Brandon Watson: 15.5 tackles, 5 PBUs
  • Hughes: 30 tackles, 1 PBU.

Also it does not appear that Pro Football Focus or NFL draftniks had Hughes high on their radar. It's safe to assume that Long and Hill are, or will be, so it's hard to see much playing time open up at the spot Hughes started at last year.

Safety? I'm dubious. Michigan's safety play was okay to good last year and returns both starters and a couple of freshmen who got playing time. For Hughes to get playing time there he'd have to beat those guys out. His best bet might be if Michigan is looking for a slot fade specialist. If he is one, great. Maybe you can see one in here:

But the name that comes most readily to mind is Wayne Lyons.