Wednesday Presser 9-6-17: Jay Harbaugh

Wednesday Presser 9-6-17: Jay Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 7th, 2017 at 8:00 AM

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[Upchurch]

Did Ty [Isaac] earn a start with his play Saturday?

“We’ll see.”

Thank you.

“Nice try.”

A couple of the running backs said this week that you take a really interactive approach to coaching: a lot of dialogue, a lot of back and forth, the Socratic method, if you will. How does that help you as a first-year coach? How does that help your players?

“Well, it sounds like you asked them how it would help already. For me, they’re an extension of me on the field so it’s invaluable to hear what they’re seeing and what they feel and then try and use that to make corrections or adjustments over the course of a practice or the course of a game. So, good information from veteran guys that you can trust is really, really crucial.”

Can you think of a particular moment where there was a dialogue like that or you were like, Oh, a light bulb went on?

“Yeah, there’s parts of the game where a few series in [it’s] ‘Hey, what do you see? What do you feel about this run?’ ‘Oh yeah, I think that’ and then we can bring that and then talk about hey, maybe let’s call this because that’s what the guys are seeing out there. Sometimes they’ll feel certain things on the field that you can’t really discern from the sideline quite as well or sometimes hey, you think you have a thought and they say, ‘Yeah, that sounds really good.’ Just that back and forth, open lines of communication is always a good thing.”

[After THE JUMP: a good deal of RB coaching philosophy]

Just A Shirt I Wear To Work

Just A Shirt I Wear To Work

Submitted by Brian on September 4th, 2017 at 12:50 PM

9/2/2017 – Michigan 33, Florida 17, 1-0

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can you target ribs though [Christopher Cook]

I felt pretty good about this game for a long time, and continued to feel better as we approached it. First Jim McElwain freaked out about someone on the internet facetiously claiming that he laid upon a shark in the nude. Then some Florida guy said this about the Michigan defensive line:

"They don't move well sideline to sideline, so I think we should take advantage of things like that."

Allegedly paying some SEO outfit 70,000 clams to scrub your Google results of a twitter joke that nobody would have remembered 24 hours later if you hadn't gone full Streisand Effect is one thing. Declaring Michigan's defensive line to lack Southern Speed is another.

The former is insane, yes, but insane manias are not just encouraged but required for high-level college football coaches. Telling your team that Mo Hurst, Chase Winovich, and Rashan Gary can't run is plain old laziness.Gary and Hurst made tackles on WR screens...

And Winovich, well:

A Michigan team that sent so much to the NFL a year ago could have been the subject of many, many legitimate critiques to be expressed in the media. For Florida Man to settle on that one, and say it out loud, was proof that the Gators' internal monologue was indistinguishable from any random SEC SPEED message board. Before this game they talked like one; during this game they played like one; after this game they probably imploded like one. Florida talked that work, got that work, and talked about getting worked.

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

Reporter: I saw you had a work type shirt with your name on it? What's that?
Harbaugh: It's my work shirt.
Reporter: Is there more of a story to it?
Harbaugh: No, just a shirt I wear to work.

Jim Harbaugh is accused of stunts, antics, and bids for media relevancy on the regular. These are mostly true. The subtext, however, is that Harbaugh's profile-raising activities eat into time otherwise spent on the boring work of making a football team. That is not true. Harbaugh and his coaches are also doing that.

Michigan spent most of this game in a bonafide 3-3-5 that they had hardly shown on film last year, baffling Florida's blocking schemes and showing two unprepared quarterbacks a glimpse of hell. Hell is Rashan Gary closing on you unblocked. The proper response is to fall over and pretend you died of rabies, as Felipe Franks did.

On offense Michigan's backs repeatedly burst outside to find that Florida had neglected to deploy a force player. The consistency with which this happened was baffling at first and then felt like a thing Michigan saw and prepared to exploit. Probably 60% of their rushing yards came on the 10-12 carries that started inside and ended outside. At one point I thought about that sideline video from the Stanford-VT Orange Bowl where Harbaugh's telling his back the backside cut is there, and sure enough.

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Mike Shaw would have kicked ass in this game [Cook]

In the aftermath, McElwain talked about how his team got beat up and pushed around by a bigger, stronger Michigan team... you know, the one deploying 10 new starters on defense and a receiving corps consisting entirely of baby lambs stretching their legs. That's default coach talk after taking it on the chin, but Florida didn't lose a bench press competition. They lost because Michigan presented them with a puzzle they could not solve.

Many teams have done that to Florida these last seven years. The Gators are now in the exact same place Michigan was during the dolorous late Hoke era. Spencer:

This is laughable, like openly contemptible. Consider the list of teams that with meager resources and worse recruiting footprints and every other curse imaginable have built top 30 offenses out of nothing. That list based on 2016 alone is hilariously bad given what Florida spends on their head coach alone, not to mention the resources surrounding the football program, one that even after all that spending has topped out at a recent ceiling of “sort-of fleshed-out secondary character with an inflated reputation who makes it into the second act of the Western before being killed in a gunfight when he runs out of bullets.”

Michigan is now on the other side of this equation and when Florida hires Jeff Brohm next year they will be too, and if you're not pulling for that you are a cold person indeed.

For Michigan, a fog of nervousness now evaporated. Your author spent 50k words talking about why he wasn't worried about Michigan's incredible outflux of starters, but as some guy named Foug walked up for the opening kickoff there were butterflies all the same. The difference between "should be" and "is" has bitten Michigan fans too many times in the last decade, and at kickoff all that practice talk is just talk.

Foug could have put that ball straight out of bounds and kicked off a clownshow. At one point, after three separate game-losing disasters in a row, it felt like he had. Michigan did not waver, and once the disasters stopped raining down they asserted themselves as one would.

"This is Michigan" no longer feels like a cruelly oblivious thing to proclaim. They lost the world, and they are still here, being Michigan. Working at it every day.

HIGHLIGHTS

Parking God:

Full game tight cut:

Postgame presser from Harbaugh:

AWARDS

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

-2535ac8789d1b499[1]you're the man now, dog

#1 Devin Bush. This space has asserted that Devin Bush was accidentally the perfect Don Brown linebacker recruit, and it took one game for that to become obvious. Bush got two sacks in this game and had a few more instances of QB terror; he takes angles that normally mean you lose and wins with them; he shows up in the QB's chest with a quickness that seems to shock them. He is a missile.

#2 Ty Isaac. Not sure how much this is going to translate to opponents that either make sure to have a force guy and pay attention to a run threat on third down, but Isaac was mansome in game one. He converted two third and longs on the ground, embarrassed a couple of would-be tacklers, and kinda looked five-star-ish against a very fast defense.

#3 Quinn Nordin. Nordin missing a 32-yarder was the only thing preventing him from ending up #1 on the list. One game into his Michigan career he's already tied for third in career 50+ yard field goals, with 50 and 55 yarders to his name. He also grooved a couple shorter ones down the middle. His other miss, from 52, was eminently understandable.

Honorable mention: Tarik Black's two catches went for 80+ yards; DPJ nearly broke two different punt returns; Winovich, Hurst, and Gary were all between good and dominant, also the entire rest of the defense.

KFaTAotW Standings.

3: Devin Bush (#1, Florida)
2: Ty Isaac (#2, Florida)
1: Quinn Nordin (#3, Florida)

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

Embedded above: Chase Winovich seals the game in the most appropriate fashion possible.

Honorable mention: Nordin bangs in 55-yarder; Nordin bangs in a 50-yarder; Tarik Black is wide open for a deep touchdown; Nick Eubanks is a very fast quasi-TE; Ambry Thomas rips the ball out on a kick return; various and sundry assaults on Florida QB sanity.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

Pick six #2. This was the moment during the game when a loss felt most plausible, because every subsequent Michigan drive was destined to end in a pick six. Feels bad man!

Honorable mention: Pick six #1; punt block after pick six #2; Speight checks Michigan into the perfect play and he misses an easy TD; a couple of completions where Hill was in good position but couldn't get his head around and react.

[After THE JUMP: a play from the 2012 Nebraska game.]

Preview 2017: Running Back

Preview 2017: Running Back

Submitted by Brian on August 28th, 2017 at 4:00 PM

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

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[Eric Upchurch]

[Bolded player rules: not necessarily returning starter, but someone we've seen enough of that I'm no longer talking about their recruiting profile. Extant contributor.]


FEATURE BACK Yr. SHORT YARDAGE Yr. 3RD DOWN YR. SPREAD H YR.
Chris Evans So. Karan Higdon Jr. Ty Isaac Sr.* Chris Evans So.
Karan Higdon Jr. Kareem Walker Fr*. Karan Higdon Jr. Eddie McDoom So.
Ty Isaac Sr.* Ty Isaac Sr.* Chris Evans So. Ty Isaac Sr.*
Kareem Walker Fr.* O'Maury Samuels Fr. Kurt Taylor Fr. Karan Higdon Jr.

Michigan loses their starter but returns 60% of their running back carries, so experience won't be in short supply. Neither will quicks, what with Chris Evans and Karan Higdon emerging into a one-two punch. This is a major shift from De'Veon Smith, a battleship of a back who was great at carrying defensive backs like recalcitrant children but never a visionary.

The nature of these gentlemen is interesting. Most are short, and quick, and clever. Mike Spath gathered this quote at Big Ten media days from an anonymous opponent:

"They have a lot of speed backs now that Smith is gone. They're not going to be a power-running team so I'll be curious to see what type of formations they run. They've got the two guys that could be really good as a No. 1 - Evans and [Karan Higdon]."

This is a sea change from the Smiths and Derrick Greens of the world where how mean you look is priority one. Chris Evans looks like a dang sweetheart, but he's a killer all the same.

RUNNING BACK: KID DON'T PLAY

RATING: 4

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if we're being honest his hair is more Play than Kid [Bryan Fuller]

This is a good preview. It is not an infallible one, as last year's take on CHRIS EVANS demonstrates:

…our bet is the Evans hype is likely to peter out into not very much this year. There are only so many snaps to go around and you know Smith, Isaac, and Peppers are going to get their cuts.

Evans was first amongst equals in the three-man platoon behind De'Veon Smith and is now projected by many to start and have a huge breakout year. That includes this space, and not just because of this:

[Evans] coaches a local kids flag football team. This in and of itself is odd and very, very Harbaugh. An acquaintance of mine relates that his kid is in this flag football league, and that his game was at 7:15 in the morning, with a potential second game at 9:30 if his kids' team won. Chris Evans is at this game. Not because his team is playing—his team is the one waiting for the winner at 9:30. Chris Evans is... taking notes? Watching intently? Is Chris Evans, starting Michigan running back, scouting a flag football game at 7 in the morning? Yes. Yes he is.

Dan Murphy confirmed that was no fever-dream of an under-caffeinated parent, uncovering that and yet more Chris Evans coaching exploits. Evans immediately leaps to the front of the Jim Harbaugh 2040 list.

Also the depth chart. Early in camp there were some rumors that Karan Higdon had grabbed the starting job; those were forcefully debunked by both Scout and 247. Evans remains first among equals and should see a plurality—if not a majority—of the carries. His quick hook in the spring game is plenty of evidence in that department:

"I wanted to play more …but they said 'nah, nah, nah, you're not going to play, you're not going to play.'

Also his ability to deploy a sick crossover in a sport that doesn't have them:

Evans breaks ankles. He is superbly agile and able to juke guys in a quick one-two-three step ballet move. He needs little room to pull this off:

In the bowl game he did this literally while in the hole, running through the subsequent arm tackle it set up:

This offseason someone close to the team told me that Evans even had a tendency to juke guys there was literally no way he could see, because he knew what the likely structure of the defense was and what that meant for, say, a safety approaching from the side. He's not just scouting flag football.

This is no doubt part of the reason why Evans seemed immediately more instinctual than De'Veon Smith and Michigan backs since, jeez, Fitz Toussaint. I spent virtually the entire Hoke era complaining about straight-ahead running, bad cuts, and an inability to set up blocks. Evans was a breath of fresh air in that department. He had a feel for how to commit the second level and then burst into a different gap:

Evans was good at putting his foot in the ground after linebackers had decided, and slipping through tight creases in the line. He just knows that he needs to change direction once, and when to make that change:

As a true freshman he's already better at taking advantage of his blocking than anyone who's been in the backfield at Michigan for a minute. And once he gets in the open field it's jockstrap time:

Evans did all he could last year to establish himself as Michigan's top back, and that continued through the offseason:

"He's coached the flag football team. He's held youth camps," he said. "He did that all on his own. His nose was in the playbook all off-season. He put in the work to get bigger. His dedication to taking the next step has been a lot of fun to watch. He's relentless."

While it wasn't all sunshine and roses—Evans made an occasional wacky cut and drew some grumbles around here for going down at first contact too often—it was a freshman year to sit up and take notice of. Numbers adore Evans. Obligatory caveat: they should all come with a big flashing "SMALL SAMPLE SIZE" sign. They are all we have to go on, though, so:

  • Evans is first among returning Big Ten RBs in PFF's "Elusive Rating," which turns a combination of broken tackles and yards after contact to "measure a runner's success beyond the point of being helped by his blockers." Ty Johnson and Akrum Wadley are 2 and 3, so the metric passes a basic sanity test.
  • His 4.1 yards after contact were fourth best nationally for freshmen and second in the Power 5.
  • Evans was the second most likely returning Big Ten back to get five yards on any particular run ("opportunity rate") and towards the top of the league in yards acquired after he got to five ("highlight yards"). He's behind only the two Maryland backs in highlight yards per attempt, and was significantly better than the other three Michigan backs last year in all categories.
  • Evans just about swept the RB portion of Michigan's winter combine, winning everything except the powerball throw.

Evans's 40 at the combine was a somewhat alarming 4.64, but I wouldn't sweat that. That might be the first 40 time to ever receive negative FAKES around here. From what we've seen on the field Evans's long speed is at least solid; as a recruit his speed was unanimously declared his best asset, with a significant amount of data backing that up:

A 4.4-ish 40 at the Army Combine just after his junior year is legit. Last March Steve Wiltfong noted that Evans has run a "4.4 hand-held every time" he lays down a 40 yard dash. At Best of the Midwest he ran a 4.37 40, and while that's solidly in the realm of combine fiction Evans's track career was impressive. Tracking Football places him in the 87th percentile of RBs based on his lycra exploits, which include a state championship in the 100 meter relay and a narrow defeat in the regular 100 meter state finals.

Maybe that's a bad run, a dinged up guy, or a typo. I'd be surprised if Evans isn't a legitimate 4.5 guy and, depending on your definition of legitimate, 4.4. But hey, don't take it from me, take it from Drake Johnson, raconteur:

"He's mad athletic. You just see some people and think 'yeah, he's an athlete.' He's an athlete, he just does stuff. He's smooth, he's real smooth. He's like butter smooth, we're just like 'ooh, wow.' He's like *sound effects* someone flips to the side, like he had no chance. Like, I'm sorry you could've tried but it sucks to suck. He just makes it look easy."

(Someone give this man a job talking about things.) Evans's home run ability should be top notch. This doesn't feel like a slow RB:

If he has a problem in this department it would be the ability to turn 40 into 50, and all the evidence outside that 4.64 suggests he'll be fine

Evans's other potential drawback is much more real: pass blocking. He was barely asked to do it last year—14 snaps total per PFF, and when he did it was ugly. He's bigger and older now but still not that big and not that old. He's never going to be Mike Hart. Michigan has a solution and it's one with a lot of upside. Evans:

"I'm coming out of the backfield or in the slot because I'm bigger, but I'm not 230. I can't really step up in the hole and block people. Well, I can -- that's what I've been working on all offseason. [But] we can block with five and send five receivers downfield. Stretch the field out with guys -- the good receivers that stretch the field out. It'll give me more open lanes to run through."

With 91 catches his last two years in high school, Evans was as much a receiver as he was a running back. Michigan entirely neglected to explore that talent a year ago; plenty of spread looks in the spring game suggest they will not continue doing so this year. Webb reports that you should expect him to get more looks thanks to his "outstanding receiving skills" that could have seen him play slot.

Evans should bust out to become one of the Big Ten's best backs, and its most prolific receiver out of the backfield, give or take an Akrum Wadley. He's got the quicks, speed, dedication, and agility to make a great many folks look foolish. You can't project All Big Ten nods in a league where a pretty dang good running back is going to be the 8th-best guy in the conference; Evans should perform at that level.

[After THE JUMP: a cast of thousands! several, anyway. plenty. pedant.]

Fall Camp Presser 8-21-17: Jay Harbaugh

Fall Camp Presser 8-21-17: Jay Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 22nd, 2017 at 11:01 AM

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[Fuller]

How’s your position group look?

“Doing good. Everyone looks good. Competing, getting better. A lot of the guys just had such strong springs and summers it’s elevated the guys at the top of the depth chart, the guys at the bottom of the depth chart, the younger guys are starting to come along, so everyone’s making everyone better just through competition, like it is at all positions.”

Ty Isaac’s slimmed down and is looking better. Talk about him a little bit.

“Yeah, he’s just doing everything right. Running the ball well, been great in protection, reliable hands, taking care of the ball. He’s a little bit trimmer so he’s moving a little bit more swiftly so really excited about him.”

We’ve heard a lot about, and Chris Evans specifically mentioned, the big back-small back aspect. He said Tyrone [Wheatley] kind of looked at it through the lens of a big back whereas you are more geared toward a small running back. Can you detail that a little bit and explain it?

“I don’t know if I can explain the difference or anything because I don’t know that I would agree that I see things like a small back or anything. I just try to look at each guy and what they bring to the table, what their skill set is, and you have to understand that they’re all different.

“Whether or not that’s different than before I really couldn’t tell you, but we do have a good group of guys that they all bring a little something different to the table so just when you’re calling plays and substituting, that’s something that you keep in mind.”

Chris said last week that a year ago he would run the ball or release and now he has to actually block people also. How have you seen that aspect of his game developing?

“He’s gotten so much more comfortable just trusting his eyes and reading defenses and knowing his responsibility and on top of that knowing what the offensive line is doing, what the quarterback’s thinking just in terms of where the protection is going and where the weaknesses are. So he’s shown a ton of growth in that regard and just very, very trustworthy to have him there in all kinds of different protections.”

[After THE JUMP: A little on where each back has improved. Also Ben Mason, because always ask a Harbaugh about fullbacks]

The Top 61-70 Returning Players in the Big Ten

The Top 61-70 Returning Players in the Big Ten

Submitted by Seth on August 10th, 2017 at 4:38 PM

is a nicer way of saying

Draftageddon 2017: Jukeboxes and Jitterbugs Edition

Four_Horsemen_by_MarkWilkinson1

This is Part VII. We are drafting Big Ten players to give you an overview of the guys and dudes around the conference. You come out of it with a four-deep preseason All-Big Ten. We come out of it with very strong opinions on Justin Jackson.

Previously: Picks 1-10 (Hurst, Gary Speight), Picks 11-20 (Peters), Picks 21-28 (Cole), and Picks 29-40 (McCray, Mone) Picks 41-50 (Winovich), Picks 51-60 (Bredeson, Kekoa, Khaleke)

THAT WHICH HAS ALREADY OCCURRED:

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  1. Ohio State (11 players): DE Nick Bosa (3rd, Seth), QB JT Barrett (6th, Seth), DE Tyquan Lewis (8th, BiSB), CB Denzel Ward (11th, Seth), DT Dre’Mont Jones (13th, Ace), OC Billy Price (17th, BiSB), DE Sam Hubbard (20th, Ace), LB Jerome Baker (21st, Ace), OT Jamarco Jones (28th, Ace), NT Bob Landers (51st, Seth), DE Jalyn Holmes (54th, Seth)
  2. Michigan (11 players): DT Maurice Hurst (2nd, Brian), DE Rashan Gary (5th, Ace), QB Wilton Speight (7th, Brian), QB Brandon Peters (an obligatory 16th, BiSB), OT Mason Cole (26th, Brian), LB Mike McCray (36th, Ace), NT Brian Mone (40th, BiSB), DE Chase Winovich (48th, BiSB), OG Ben Bredeson (57th, BiSB), WR Kekoa Crawford (58th, Brian), VIPER!!! Khaleke Hudson (59th, Seth) 
  3. Iowa (7 players): RB Akrum Wadley (18th, Brian), G/C Sean Welsh (22nd, Seth), LB Josey Jewell 23rd, Brian), OT Ike Boettger (35th, Seth), DE Anthony Nelson (42nd, Brian), CB Manny Rugamba (43rd, Seth), OC James Daniels (47th, Brian)
  4. Penn State (7 players): RB Saquon Barkley (1st, BiSB), QB Trace McSorley (4th, Ace), “TE” Mike Gesicki (25th, BiSB), S Marcus Allen (29th, Ace), OT Ryan Bates (41st, BiSB), LB Jason Cabinda (49th, BiSB), Brendan Mahon (53rd, Ace)
  5. Wisconsin (6 players): LB Jack Cichy (14th, Seth), TE Troy Fumagalli (15th, Brian), OG Beau Benzschawel (33rd, BiSB), OC Michael Dieter (34th, Brian), LB TJ Edwards (39th, Brian), WR Jazz Peavy (44th, Ace)
  6. Indiana (5 players): LB Tegray Scales (9th, BiSB), WR Simmie Cobbs (12th, Ace), WR Nick Westbrook (30th, Seth), CB Rashard Fant (32nd, BiSB), S Jonathan Crawford (52nd, Ace)
  7. Maryland (3 players): DT Kingsley Opara (19th, Seth), OT Damian Prince (45th, Ace), WR DJ Moore (56th, BiSB)
  8. Minnesota (2 players): DT Stephen Richardson (10th, Brian), WR Rashad Still (38th, Seth)
  9. Nebraska (2 players): OG Tanner Farmer (46th, Seth), S Joshua Kalu (50th, Brian)
  10. Northwestern (2 players): S Godwin Igwebuike (24th, BiSB), RB Justin Jackson (60th, Ace)
  11. Michigan State (2 players): OG Brian Allen (37th, Ace), RB LJ Scott (55th, Brian)
  12. Rutgers (1 player): OT Tariq Cole (27th, Seth)
  13. Illinois (1 player): WR Malik Turner (31st, Brian)

So we just got done having an argument about Justin Jackson. Speaking of guys wearing #21 for the Wildcats…

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

Seth: Round 16, Pick 2: Kyle Queiro, Safety, Northwestern

Off: QB JT Barrett (OSU), WR Nick Westbrook (IU), WR Rashad Still (MN), OG Sean Welsh (IA), LT Tariq Cole (RU), RT Ike Boettger (IA), OG Tanner Farmer (NE)

Def: NT Robert Landers (OSU), DT Kingsley Opara (MD), DE Nick Bosa (OSU), DE Jalyn Holmes (OSU), LB Jack Cichy (UW), VIPER!!! Khaleke Hudson (UM), S Kyle Quiero (NW), CB Denzel Ward, CB Manny Rugamba

  1. No. No he didn't. Unless you're thinking of an entirely different pick.
  2. That's pretty cool
  3. The reason he one-handed it is his other hand was in a club.

PFF's College football twitter last month started putting out graphics of their top 3 returning players for each team, with last year's grades. The Northwestern one both confirmed a sleeper pick I've been close to pulling the trigger on for a few rounds, and outs him.

PFF thought Kyle Queiro was almost as good as Iggy while playing mostly deep centerfield to Igwebuike's boxier role. On film the distance is wider. Igwebuike is a Player who eats jet sweeps and screens for lunch. Queiro, who's 6'3, is more of a Jarrod Wilsonian binkie, keeping the hashes clean and long runs to field goal drives. He's athletic enough that they use him to cover slots out of the nickel in their sub packages. Injuries kept him off the field for the early part of his career and much of September so his 53 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 6 PBUs, and 2 INTs (you remember the club) are in 10 games.

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

Seth: And let's make this clear: Lewis was alone in man-to-man and in better "I'm not touching you" personal space invasion technique than my brothers could master in a childhood of up north road trips. Queiro is drifting back in zone coverage with help over the top and Lagow significantly underthrew it.

[Hit THE JUMP for what Tom Haverford calls a scatback]

Unverified Voracity Womp Womp Wuh Womp Eeeeeer

Unverified Voracity Womp Womp Wuh Womp Eeeeeer

Submitted by Brian on August 2nd, 2017 at 11:19 AM

Sponsor note. Are you thinking of doing a business? Are you sick of working at your business factory? Have you purchased a trench coat and a broom and found two like-minded associates willing to make a foray into the unknown?

hoeglaw_thumb[1]

Hoeg Law can help, because ye gods these things get complicated. Rich is currently doing a deep dive on term sheets that includes sentences like these:

You may have noticed in reading the above that we skipped over one bit of language included in the NVCA’s right of first refusal provision:

Can't say that I did, and in this I am reminded of that time I was presenting at an alumni club and someone raised their hand and asked what a "stunt" was. I explained; Hoeg Law will explain.

The "How Much Does Mike Onwenu Weigh" Game! Lookin' svelte, Medium Mike:

As a further demonstration of Onwenu's superdense construction, most of the contributors around here asked people with the misfortune to be around them how much this man weighs, given that he is 6'3". Prepare yourself for Price Is Right horns:

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I do not know how much Onwenu weighs but… not that. Or within 50 pounds of some of those guesses. Is it weird that I might be more excited to see Onwenu start than guys like Evans and DPJ? I mean, I know what Donovan Peoples-Jones probably looks like on a football field: Braylon Edwards. I have no idea what's going to happen when Mike Onwenu steps on the field. Will they have to offer him snowshoes so he doesn't plunge through the turf? That sort of thing.

Chris Evans, coach. Dan Murphy catches up with Chris Evans's offseason undertakings, which are football and also football:

INDIANAPOLIS -- The little hand on the clock hanging in the gym at Ben Davis High School is creeping toward 8 on a Saturday night in May, and Chris Evans has lost track of the time. One of the parents lingering on the sideline gives him a friendly reminder that dinner hour is whisking past and perhaps it's time to wrap it up. He has, after all, been working with the boys since lunch.

"Oh man, OK. Next touchdown wins," he hollers at the pack of 10-to-12-year-old boys spread out in front of him, then gathers half of them in a huddle. Evans is wearing a blue-collared button-up shirt with his first name sewn on to a patch on his chest and a dark-blue block-M hat, just like the one his head coach Jim Harbaugh wears at Michigan. He's toting a dry-erase clipboard, and he's still using it to draw up plays 30 minutes later when the parents along the wall start making the glances toward their watches a little more obvious. "Last drive," he says. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

Evans is trying to squeeze in every rep possible before tomorrow's 7-on-7 tournament, which they've been preparing for all month. Carrie Eller, whose son Gavin is one of the boys on the team, shakes her head and smiles.

"We knew what we signed up for," she says.

They signed up for a guy who signed up for Harbaugh and apparently… is Harbaugh? Caught in a time loop or Quantum Leap kind of situation?

Now I don't have to write this. A tip of the hat to Ty Schalter at the Comeback for rebutting a couple of doofy "Jim Harbaugh wears out his welcome" pieces:

Who, exactly, is Harbaugh “wearing out his welcome” with? Would that be his bosses now coping with full football stadiums, a huge Nike/Jordan brand apparel contract, and figuring out how to spend all of that revenue from the Big Ten’s massive new television deals? Jim Harbaugh may be the best investment Michigan has ever made.

Surely, it must be the underlings working under his tyranny? Assistants are just dying to get away from there. And look how he treats the staff. Inventing the “employee of the year” award and giving it to a custodian. Going out of his way to thank the stadium ushers. It’s an absolute nightmare in Schembechler Hall.

Fans. Gotta be the fans who are upset. One can hear their cries. “Please, Jim. Stop making Michigan one of the coolest programs in the country. Stop being so innovative and energetic. Stop trolling SEC coaches; no one wants that. Stop being relentlessly diligent at your job 365 days per year, seven days per week, 24 hours per day, and for the entire 60 minutes during games.”

Now I don't have to write this identical piece but with more personal insults.

giphy-downsized

this is what giphy usually gives you when you ask it for "Debord"

Anonymous coach quote time. Athlon's annual offer of anonymity in exchange for solid quotes dallies with the ridiculous

"Wilson sold his offense to try and get better talent in there. Besides Ohio State, we didn’t see an offense that had the kind of ceiling Indiana’s did. Mike DeBord runs something that’s as appealing as Wilson’s offense when it comes to recruits. DeBord is so efficient as a coordinator. His offenses show so much confidence and great timing on film. It was a great hire for Allen."

…before arriving at a couple of interesting Michigan bits…

"They want to outwork you. That was the whole satellite camp thing last offseason. He wanted to send a message to the SEC and other schools that he will outwork you to make up for any advantage you might have over Michigan."

"They’re scouting opponents better than anyone in our league. They’re at Alabama’s level of prep and analysis, and as they’ve started to fit talent you’re seeing the effects. It’s hard to surprise them."

…and digging a grave for MSU:

"They’re coming off conference title games, a Rose Bowl, and they’re not in on the top players in their own state in some instances. You can recruit against them easily.

"Jim Harbaugh’s success will directly impact how MSU recovers and maneuvers from here on out. This is a different league than the one Dantonio started in.”

The article contains a bunch of interesting stuff about the rest of the league, as well. An annual Read The Whole Thing.

MLS is happening? Wayne County exec Warren Evans has instructed his staff to focus on the Rock Financial offer to build an integrated criminal justice complex on a site away from the fail jail:

"The Rock Ventures proposal has more upside, less risk and a smaller financial gap than Walsh Construction's proposal. There are, however, many issues to resolve with Rock Ventures before I could recommend the approval of a contract to the County Commission and the County Building Authority."

Among the issues remaining are negotiations over the purchase of city-owned property for a new criminal justice complex built by Rock, and whether the Internal Revenue Service determines whether the county can use bond money left over from the Gratiot jail project to help pay for the Rock Ventures project a few miles north.

Still some hurdles but if they were insurmountable the county would not be proceeding in this direction. Assuming things don't get derailed attention now turns from a stadium plan to the bids currently competing with Detroit. A couple of media members with their ear to the ground think that Detroit is about to jump to somewhere near front of the line:

Sacramento has already broken ground on something destined to be their MLS stadium and is locked in; nobody else is.

This must be 2019 hockey commitment season. Guys are flying off the board left and right to just about everyone, and Michigan's collected another touted prospect in F Dylan Wendt:

He was a third rounder in the most recent USHL draft and the second-leading scorer at the NTDP camp for his birth year. Jeff Cox had him as a maybe for the NTDP:

Dylan Wendt, Grand Haven, Mich., Belle Tire 16U, Right Shot, 5’11”/175 - He’s physically mature and rugged so it’s hard to tell if he’s just dominating at this age because of that, but he’s still worthy of an invite. He has a hard shot and plays heavy on pucks. He can power his way into the scoring areas and wins a lot of battles below the dots. He has decent hands and vision.

He did not make it, but is on the U17 Five Nations team. Sounds a bit like Brandon Kaleniecki plus a couple inches. Now I can embed a very silly goal again:

I'm putting this down here because I'm not going to get invested in it. Canadian RJ Barrett was the top player in the 2019 basketball class. He is now the top player in the 2018 class, and he's going to take an official to Michigan:

Duke, Kentucky, Michigan and Oregon are considered the frontrunners to land Barrett and are expected to host him on an official visit.

Lurking right behind these four schools in his recruitment are Arizona, Kansas, Texas and UCLA.

That official visit is likely to turn into qualified optimism that results in a commitment to Not Michigan.

Etc.: It's weird that 78-0 versus Rutgers is apparently going down in history but here we are. That breathless CTE study in a more sober light. Unstoppable Throw-God Clayton Thorson? Tom Brady owns things. The Pac-12 will experiment with some 15 minute halftimes. Yes please. Hugh Freeze, creeper. Scouting Mo Hurst. UCF kickoff guy meets the long, stupid arm of NCAA law. Fred Jackson at Ypsi High.

Unverified Voracity Pivots To Hamster

Unverified Voracity Pivots To Hamster

Submitted by Brian on July 5th, 2017 at 12:06 PM

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let's talk about all three of these dudes [Bryan Fuller]

Chris Evans: already good? I'm a wee bit skeptical about these numbers because I seem to remember Chris Evans breaking some tackles and running for a gorillion yards when it was 49-0 against Rutgers, but, uh:

No Saquon Barkley is a surprise. (He's not even 4th, which goes to Maryland's Ty Johnson.) Enough of a surprise that I look at this stat with a bit of a jaundiced eye. It looks like it heavily favors guys who end up in certain situations but not others. Wadley and Evans were insulated from short yardage situations by LeShun Daniels and De'Veon Smith, respectively. And the whole Maryland offense was geared towards getting little quick guys in space one on one. The context is important.

This one might be better?

I still think that's about Evans breaking the occasional tackle and getting a huge play than anything De'Veon Smith-esque. Huge plays are good, don't get me wrong—I am just worried about sample size. Better to have Evans on these lists than not; maybe not super predictive about the season.

Less skeptical about this one. Michigan's DL is going to be just fine this fall.

Bosa and Winovich are in fact #2 and 3 nationally, behind only Harold Landry—another Don Brown acolyte. Meanwhile the new DEs were actually more productive against the run than the departures:

That one may be a garbage time artifact. Even if you haul those numbers back down to Wormley/Taco level that's pretty dang okay, and we haven't even talked about Mo Hurst.

Screen-Shot-2017-06-21-at-3.22.54-PM-768x466

BRILLIANT

Exit Fox Sports Dave Brandon. A spectacular final act for carnival-barker Jamie Horowitz at Fox Sports. Step one is gutting the profitable(!) Fox Sports digital team in order to consolidate his hold on power, with a side of implementing his post-apocalyptic vision:

What really does work is when you take things are good like ’11 Coaches Oregon Might Hire’, that might be something someone is interested in the day Helfrich gets fired, and we change to ‘Colin Cowherd’s 11 Coaches.’ We’ve seen this be very successful. You look at Fox News right now, O’Reilly and his take. That’s all it is. And there are many different ways.

Step two is getting fired literally the next week.

Jamie Horowitz’s dismissal Monday came about a week after Fox began investigating allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace in its sports division. The company interviewed several women at L.A.-based Fox Sports about Horowitz’s behavior, according to a person familiar with the investigation who was not authorized to publicly discuss it.

The women included prominent on-air personalities and show producers, according to two people who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the investigation.

Lawsuits will follow as Horowitz tries to collect on a contract and Fox Sports tries to separate itself from an alleged sexual harasser. Unfortunately for Fox and their writers, there appears to be no way to re-spool the thread.

A bloody few weeks in online #content have caused a round of introspective articles about "pivoting to video," and why that's exec-speak for "I give up, eat at Arby's." Bryan Curtis:

Why this is happening is simple: The web has a surplus of copy versus advertising. Companies have decided that sticking an ad at the front of a video makes it less ignorable than putting a similar ad next to an article. It doesn’t matter what the video is. I often get a paragraph or two into a Sports Illustrated story only to find Madelyn Burke in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, giving me a summary of the sentences I’m already reading.

The new round of layoffs ignited a lousy ritual. “Hire these people!” we tweeted at … whom, exactly? A word-friendly publication that would promise to never, ever pivot to anything else? The contact information for Vocativ’s “free agents” was sent around on a spreadsheet.

Other writers tried to play media visionary and stepped in it. “I’ve been in digital media for 12 years,” Sports Illustrated’s Andy Gray tweeted last week. “One thing I’ve learned is that nobody wants to read anything over 1,000 words. MTV is more proof.” Never mind that Gray’s employer uses the motto “longform since 1954.”

On Twitter, Gray got the noogie he deserved. I enjoyed reading his replies. They proved that no occasion, not even an existential threat to the industry, will prevent a journalist from citing his old articles — and, in this case, also providing the word count. Why, my recent longform piece was actually quite popular!

There are two kinds of online video. One has video content. Like this:

Delightful.

The other kind of online video does not have video content, whether it's a talking head repeating what someone else said or a poorly lit podcast-on-youtube-for-some-reason with horrible audio. These are stuck next to the actual written content you want, set to autoplay, and nowadays they even follow you around when you scroll down. They exist only to scam advertisers willing to play high CPMs for ads on video content. The problem, of course, is that these videos only have written content repurposed badly. No hamsters anywhere. They are never watched. At best they run in the background of someone's work computer, on mute.

Scout's bankruptcy and firesale was easily predicted by their own pivot to video. I can't tell you how many times I've clicked on a Scout article hoping for information on a recruit only to be presented with a video. Once in a while this seems useful enough for me to transcribe, and I do so. Half the time I decide to do this I can barely hear the #content because they taped it outside on a phone in high winds.

I dunno what the solution to online content is but I do know that scamming people is not it. Making your product worse by turning it into a tedious video instead a searchable, skimmable article is also not it. Until someone trains a hamster to recite your text, video is strictly worse for most content.

Penn State skepticism. Various folks on this here blog have been trying to elucidate why we're not as high on Penn State as most folks. Mostly it comes down to "their all-bomb offense was pretty lucky," and here's a stat to back that up:

That conversion rate on jump balls is almost certainly unsustainable and PSU will have to make up for it elsewhere. They've got a shot at doing so because they bring back a lot from last year's team.

Drake yes? Drake no? Per Sam Webb, Drake Johnson did get approved for a sixth year in various sports:

Whether he'll actually come back for football is an open question. Webb reported that he's 1) down to 180 and 2) very fast, so there's a role for him in both football and track. With a wonky hamstring that might not like stop-start, you could hardly blame him for packing it in and just running track.

Michigan has the room, FWIW.

Etc.: Buccigross survives, gets new five year deal. The Elite 11 is basically garbage for predicting QBs. That Bamba cash thing isn't going anywhere. The fullback is dead in the NFL. Assistant coach names. Talking with Mel Pearson. A reason to huddle?

Let's Look At Some Big Ten Running Back Stats

Let's Look At Some Big Ten Running Back Stats

Submitted by Brian on April 27th, 2017 at 2:07 PM

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Chris Evans acquiring highlight yards [Bryan Fuller]

Football Study Hall published an array of stats on running backs nationwide, so let's drill a little bit deeper to see what they might tell us about the state of Big Ten running games in 2017. There are a ton of caveats involving offensive lines and sample sizes, so let's just take those as read. These are rough metrics.

Bill Connelly has two main RB-related stats above and beyond plain old YPC: "opportunity rate," which is the number of rushes that get you five yards and presumably allow you to flash your skills instead of grind into the line, and "highlight yards per opportunity," which is the number of yards you gain after the 5 yard benchmark is cleared. Here are a couple tables of these stats for returning Big Ten players with at least 40 rushes to their name. There are 28 of these gents in the league. I left in De'Veon Smith for comparison's sake. Also I did not realize that Ke'Shawn Vaughn had transferred to Vandy, so ignore him.

First, opportunity rate:

RK Player Offense OppRate
1 John Moten IV Northwestern 50.9%
2 Chris Evans Michigan 47.2%
3 Ty Johnson Maryland 45.5%
4 Lorenzo Harrison Maryland 45.5%
5 Brian Lankford-Johnson Purdue 43.8%
6 Akrum Wadley Iowa 43.5%
7 Bradrick Shaw Wisconsin 43.2%
8 Ty Isaac Michigan 43.2%
9 Karan Higdon Michigan 43.1%
10 Mike Weber Ohio State 42.9%
11 Devine Ozigbo Nebraska 41.2%
12 LJ Scott Michigan State 40.8%
13 Demario McCall Ohio State 40.8%
14 Reggie Corbin Illinois 40.7%
15 Rodney Smith Minnesota 38.8%
16 Robert Martin Rutgers 38.8%
17 Kendrick Foster Illinois 37.3%
18 Devine Redding Indiana 35.8%
19 Markell Jones Purdue 35.7%
20 Shannon Brooks Minnesota 35.5%
21 Saquon Barkley Penn State 35.3%
22 Josh Hicks Rutgers 33.3%
23 De'Veon Smith Michigan 33.1%
24 Gerald Holmes Michigan State 33.0%
25 Justin Jackson Northwestern 32.2%
26 Tre Bryant Nebraska 31.8%
27 Devonte Williams Indiana 31.3%
28 Ke'Shawn Vaughn Illinois 26.7%
29 Tyler Natee Indiana 26.2%

This is not entirely fair to Smith because his heavy usage means he was light on carries against the Rutgerses of the world. There's a distinct tendency towards workhorses at the bottom of this list: Devine Redding, Saquon Barkley, and Justin Jackson got more touches than anyone else in the league and they're 18, 21, and 25 here.

Highlight yards:

RK Player Offense Hlt/Opp
1 Ty Johnson Maryland 12.39
2 Ke'Shawn Vaughn Illinois 10.33
3 Saquon Barkley Penn State 8.24
4 Lorenzo Harrison Maryland 8.17
5 Brian Lankford-Johnson Purdue 7.46
6 Kendrick Foster Illinois 7.29
7 Reggie Corbin Illinois 7.25
8 Chris Evans Michigan 7.11
9 Justin Jackson Northwestern 7.03
10 Akrum Wadley Iowa 6.31
11 Gerald Holmes Michigan State 6.31
12 Karan Higdon Michigan 6.2
13 Mike Weber Ohio State 5.59
14 De'Veon Smith Michigan 5.54
15 LJ Scott Michigan State 5.3
16 Bradrick Shaw Wisconsin 4.98
17 John Moten IV Northwestern 4.87
18 Robert Martin Rutgers 4.79
19 Ty Isaac Michigan 4.68
20 Rodney Smith Minnesota 4.56
21 Devine Redding Indiana 4.42
22 Shannon Brooks Minnesota 4.41
23 Demario McCall Ohio State 4.18
24 Tyler Natee Indiana 3.6
25 Tre Bryant Nebraska 3.24
26 Devonte Williams Indiana 3.21
27 Markell Jones Purdue 3.02
28 Josh Hicks Rutgers 2.88
29 Devine Ozigbo Nebraska 2.81

It should be noted that Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Lankford-Johnson are working with very small sample sizes here. That's about 16 Vaughn attempts and 20 Lankford-Johnson attempts.

This is more evidence in Chris Evans's favor here: he, Isaac, and Higdon all got about the same ratio of legit carries to second-half-against-Rutgers carries, and Evans grades out better in both metrics than his other competitors. Isaac is well behind Smith in highlight yards, which is a bad place to be when you're competing with two guys significantly above him. Evans's combination of many successful runs and not-quite top-tier explosiveness is highly encouraging. Multiply these two items together to get a "highlight yards per run" (as opposed to opportunity) and he's third in the league behind only the two little Maryland lightning bolts. This metric is essentially a measure of your ability to get chunk runs, and the high rankings of Barkley and Akrum Wadley are a good sanity check for the measure:

Player Offense Hlt/Att
1 Ty Johnson Maryland 5.6
2 Lorenzo Harrison Maryland 3.7
3 Chris Evans Michigan 3.4
4 Brian Lankford-Johnson Purdue 3.3
5 Reggie Corbin Illinois 3.0
6 Saquon Barkley Penn State 2.9
7 Ke'Shawn Vaughn Illinois 2.8
8 Akrum Wadley Iowa 2.7
9 Kendrick Foster Illinois 2.7
10 Karan Higdon Michigan 2.7
11 John Moten IV Northwestern 2.5
12 Mike Weber Ohio State 2.4
13 Justin Jackson Northwestern 2.3
14 LJ Scott Michigan State 2.2
15 Bradrick Shaw Wisconsin 2.2
16 Gerald Holmes Michigan State 2.1
17 Ty Isaac Michigan 2.0
18 Robert Martin Rutgers 1.9
19 De'Veon Smith Michigan 1.8
20 Rodney Smith Minnesota 1.8
21 Demario McCall Ohio State 1.7
22 Devine Redding Indiana 1.6
23 Shannon Brooks Minnesota 1.6
24 Devine Ozigbo Nebraska 1.2
25 Markell Jones Purdue 1.1
26 Tre Bryant Nebraska 1.0
27 Devonte Williams Indiana 1.0
28 Josh Hicks Rutgers 1.0
29 Tyler Natee Indiana 0.9

Takeaways: Maryland's running game is majorly underrated because they split carries so heavily, OSU is going to miss Curtis Samuel immensely unless Damario McCall steps up big (survey says: he probably will), and we should be optimistic about Chris Evans and Karan Higdon going into 2017. Also, Justin Jackson is back?! How many PhDs they gonna give that guy before his eligibility expires?

Unverified Voracity Is Rando Slander Turtleneck Doof

Unverified Voracity Is Rando Slander Turtleneck Doof

Submitted by Brian on April 25th, 2017 at 12:59 PM

When in Rome, kayak as the Romans did. Cesar Ruiz's displacement is an asset on the football field. In a kayak not so much.

This trip is probably the most Summer Of Harbaugh thing that's happened yet. Except for the shirtless touch football game at a camp he participated in. That's permanently #1.

I could use more Gus in my life. ESPN's college football announcing crew was decimated this year so I'm much more into this than I would have been previously:

...this season kicks off Fox Sports' six-year, $1.44 billion deal with the Big Ten Conference. Under the terms of the new pact, not only has Fox wrested the deed to the annual Ohio State-Michigan game from co-rights holder ESPN/ABC, but it will also broadcast the Big Ten football championship game in December. (And no, the change of broadcast venues doesn't suggest that the Buckeyes-Wolverines grudge match is going to move under the lights for a primetime airing any time soon -- tradition still demands a noon game.)

Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt might be the best extant CFB announce team and I'm totally down with those guys calling M-OSU. Hopefully FOX tones down the robots and goes with a more collegiate feel for their Big Ten games.

I am far less enthused about this, however:

“It’s still a concern,” Manuel said. “The only difference is, the Big Ten and television can assign us to a primetime game and it’s not our option. In November, we have the option if we choose to do so. I don’t anticipate that choice being made.” ...

“It comes out in terms of we agreed to it several years ago as a part of negotiating the new Big Ten television contract that we would allow up to two games at night,” Manuel said. “Last year for this (2016) football season, we had the option. Next year and moving forward the Big Ten can assign us and television in the Big Ten. In the month of September and October.” ...

“Jim (Harbaugh) and I have been in lockstep, saying our preference is in the afternoon and not in the evening,” Manuel said. “In this particular case, we have granted the ability for the Big Ten to assign two home games in the evening. That’s where it will go.”

I don't know if that's yet another Dave Brandon ace negotiation or an unfortunate side-effect of being part of the Big Ten during a period when it's being run by someone who cares about nothing other than stacking dollars. It kind of sounds like the former since Manuel says "we have granted the ability" to the Big Ten. Which is another going-away president from the worst AD in history. Also in "Dave Brandon's icy hand reaches out from the grave": he scheduled Air Force again. Never schedule Air Force.

Cord cutting leads to other forms of cutting. ESPN is about to have an on-air bloodletting:

ESPN will part ways with more than 40 people, all of them “talent,” a label that ESPN applies to radio hosts and writers (almost all of whom regularly do video or audio), not just traditional TV personalities. ESPN says it has 1,000 people in the category. Still, you can expect most of the people cut to be faces you’ve seen on TV. In some cases, ESPN may buy people out of existing long-term contracts—as Sports Illustrated points out, that is unusual.

Most of these folks are probably going to be peripheral folks with few names you'd be familiar with, but the story speculates about one potential exit that would be frown-inducing:

The New York Daily News has some speculation, including SportsCenter anchor John Buccigross, whose contract expires on July 1.

Nooooooooooo. Buccigross is probably the network's foremost college hockey proponent and things would not be the same without him. Here's hoping his skillset keeps him on the four-letter.

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who are you going to believe, your own lying eyes or this dipshit?

This week in bullshit. Danny Kanell brings his turtleneck to a fact party:

Kanell is way out of line here. Consider the environment he's living in at the time of the FSU game: various players have outright skipped bowl games and gotten praise for it in the media; neither Leonard Fournette nor Christian McCaffrey has seen his draft stock altered one iota by that decision. Even if Peppers wasn't going to play by his choice he could have just said "nope" privately and not dressed, as is common in football.

Instead he dressed and attempted to warm up, whereupon he looked like a guy who'd injured his hamstring. So unless he's a pathological liar who's simultaneously extremely convincing at faking muscle injuries, he was, you know, injured. Kanell is slandering Peppers without proof.  Probably because he's dumb as a brick.

Here's a guy in need of some firin', ESPN.

When third chances go wrong. If your program has a guy get in trouble, it had a guy get in trouble. It happens. If your program takes a guy with two arrests in his recent past you'd better do your homework, because if he gets in trouble again that is on you. This is on Mark Dantonio:

Robertson was arrested for criminal mischief* in 2015, then arrested shortly before Signing Day for inappropriately grabbing a female student at his high school. MSU issued a statement about the deep background they did on the guy in an attempt to justify the signing:

“Our decision to accept Auston Robertson’s signed National Letter of Intent and Big Ten Tender has been evaluated over the last three months while utilizing all resources available to us to thoroughly review his situation,” Dantonio said.

“Our relationship with Auston began last summer when he committed to Michigan State. When we accepted his verbal (commitment), we also made a commitment to him and his family. We elected not to sign him in early February, and since then he has been accepted into a pretrial diversionary program and must continue to satisfy those requirements. Given all the information available to us, we believe Auston should be provided with an opportunity to begin his education and playing career at Michigan State.”

He lasted barely a year before getting charged with criminal sexual conduct in East Lansing, a charge that is easily predicted by the nature of the battery he got diverted. The above statement should have read "We know this is a risk for the people who will be around Robertson. Sorry. (Not sorry.)" That risk seems to have resulted in something very bad indeed, given the fact that Robertson went on the lam for two days. Even more ominously, Mark Dantonio saw fit to remove him from MSU's team. Short of failing to meet academic eligibility requirements, when does that happen?

This isn't and shouldn't be a rivalry thing. Hopefully the fact that I bombed Brady Hoke and Dave Brandon for their useless lies about Brendan Gibbons demonstrates that 1) nobody is immune from this sort of thing and 2) I'm not just a message board dude with my rivalry lols. It should be about what looks like an institution that has serious issues with sexual assault, at multiple levels.

*[And "resisting law enforcement," a charge which I'm always extremely dubious about.]

Expected starter confirmation. Chris Evans on his spring game deployment:

"I wanted to play more  ... But they said 'nah, nah, nah, you're not going to play, you're not going to play.' I just respected that and just back to the drawing board (for spring practice) on Tuesday."

That is a leader in the clubhouse.

Red encomiums. John Bacon:

Berenson loved the game from the start. When he was a 6-year old kid in Regina, Saskatchewan, for Christmas his parents gave him new skates, new gloves and new shin pads. He was so excited, he called his best friend – at 6 a.m.

When his friend's mom answered, she asked, "Do you know what time it is?"

Berenson replied, "Yes -- but this is important!"

From CHN:

Berenson stepped down Monday after 33 years as Michigan's head coach. He was hired during a tumultuous time in the program's history, May 1984. It was the third time then-athletic director Don Canham had asked him to take over. He was an assistant coach in the NHL at the time. He finally accepted.

"I left a job making $85,000 a year to take a job making $40,000," Berenson said. "I thought, 'Did I get my MBA at Michigan to make a decision like this?' But it was the right thing to do. I loved Michigan and loved the experience I had."

MGoBlue has a thing that's more of a pretty-design item than a story but here is a picture:

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And Hoover Street Rag:

Red Berenson did not invent Michigan hockey, that's Vic Heyliger and Al Renfrew.  But Red did save Michigan hockey, first with the Regina Regiment, then by coming home to Ann Arbor in 1984.  He was hired by Don Canham, and he, slowly but surely, brought Michigan back from the abyss.  He won 848 games in the NCAA, fourth most in college hockey, and starting in 1990-91 when Michigan posted a 34-win season and its made first trip to the NCAAs in 14 years, an event they would not miss for the next 22 seasons, Michigan began a streak of 8 straight 30-win seasons, with 6 Frozen Fours and 2 national titles, Michigan's eighth and ninth all time.  And in all of this, in the down seasons, after the Hunwick fueled miracle run in 2011, after Mel left, and we wondered when would this moment come.  Then came last year, when Michigan hockey was fun again and four NHL-caliber players were lighting the lamp and Michigan won the conference tournament, there was the notion of maybe the old magic had been recaptured, let Red have one more run this year and then hand the reins off after one more season.  But, wishing doesn't make it so, and Michigan Hockey Summer took its toll, as it is wont to do.

Woke Harbaugh continues. Harbaugh on Colin Kaepernick in Time:

Colin Kaepernick was alone in his early protests last year when he boldly and courageously confronted perceived inequalities in our social-justice system by refusing to stand for the national anthem. At times in our nation's history, we have been all too quick to judge and oppose our fellow Americans for exercising their First Amendment right to address things they believe unjust.

Rather than besmirch their character, we must celebrate their act. For we cannot pioneer and invent if we are fearful of deviating from the norm, damaging our public perception or—most important—harming our own personal interests.

That writing style is familiar from the opening video at home games. Feels like every word is capitalized, which is very Harbaugh.

Etc.: Some Peppers fluff. Tom Herman wants it nice and light. Fart man. John Borton reports that Brad Hawkins will play safety at Michigan, as expected. Graham Couch, man.

Spring Stuff, 2017: Offense

Spring Stuff, 2017: Offense

Submitted by Brian on April 17th, 2017 at 12:37 PM

The following folks did not play and are thus unmentioned: Drake Harris, Juwann Bushell-Beatty, Nolan Ulizio, Ian Bunting, JaRaymond Hall.

In addition, a few guys got the you're-a-starter hook: Mason Cole, Chris Evans, and Kekoa Crawford were only out there briefly.

A little more feelingsball

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HI [Bryan Fuller]

That was fun! I enjoyed it. The weather was terrific and the game was sort of an actual one insofar as OL depth permitted it and there was football to be observed and conclusions to be drawn from that football. At no point did anyone put on a little mesh hat so they could run an hour of kickoff drills.

Jim Harbaugh may be completely unpredictable in many things—he did not talk to reporters after the spring game, oddly—but he's made Michigan football very fun. I appreciated this on Saturday, sitting outside and watching the actual football. So, it seems, did many other people: I've usually just driven to the Crisler parking lot and parked. This would have been impossible on Saturday. The announced attendance (57,000 and change) was a totally made up number but it seemed plausible. What a nice change.

Highlights

Quarterback

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[Patrick Barron]

So... this might be a thing. If you recall, last year we entered the spring game expecting John O'Korn to be the starter; there had been some mumbles that Wilton Speight was right in the thick of it that most people discounted because of previous mumbles about how great O'Korn looked in practice. The spring game was an inflection point:

I am now convinced it's a real competition. Wilton Speight only had six attempts, but he completed five of them, confidently. I also had the benefit of observing the Ford Field practice, where nobody seemed clearly ahead of the pack at quarterback. Another piece of evidence in favor of a real competition: no quarterback got a quick you're-a-starter hook. John O'Korn is not a lock.

On Saturday Speight didn't get a you're-a-starter hook. He got a you-threw-a-101-yard-pick-six hook. John O'Korn took over for his team's final two drives, driving for touchdowns on both. Meanwhile, Brandon Peters did this:

One pick six marred an otherwise confident and accurate performance. The two best throws in there are probably the ones to Nate Schoenle, about whom more in a second. The first was a third and long conversion at 4:30 that looks a lot like the guy we saw on Peters's high school tape—unusually, I mean that as a compliment. He's got his guy, he knows it, and he tosses an accurate, catchable ball. Peters's ability to vary speeds is uncanny for a young quarterback, and it's good to see some of that is translating to college.

The second is the Schoenle wheel route to open the winning drive, which is just... dang, man. That's a hell of a throw, and Peters was making it most of the day despite a strong and swirling wind. (The earlier fade down the sideline that Jordan Glasgow got over the top on felt like it had been pushed by that wind.)

Peters moved decisively to get out of the pocket when necessary, scrambled for a touchdown, did not throw into coverage much, and was accurate on all but a couple throws. He looked very plausible at the same time Speight struggled.

As always you do not want to read too much into a disjointed, pressure-laden spring game. Unlike last year's QB competition this one has an incumbent. It's always hard to dislodge a guy who has a season under his belt, especially a guy who was reasonably good last year. Speight finished third in the league in passer rating and #2, Perry Hills, had 18 attempts a game. He's still the starter, probably. The spring game added "probably" to that sentence.

Running back

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easy for Isaac [Eric Upchurch]

Chris Evans got three carries and then sat for the day, in case you were wondering if he was a sure-fire starter. That's the same playing time De'Veon Smith got last year. Evans looked as shifty as he did a year ago but may have added some extra YAC power; hard to tell in that brief glimpse.

So instead of that let me tell you a thing about Evans: he coaches a local kids flag football team. This in and of itself is odd and very, very Harbaugh. An acquaintance of mine relates that his kid is in this flag football league, and that his game was at 7:15 in the morning, with a potential second game at 9:30 if his kids' team won. Chris Evans is at this game. Not because his team is playing—his team is the one waiting for the winner at 9:30. Chris Evans is... taking notes? Watching intently? Is Chris Evans, starting Michigan running back, scouting a flag football game at 7 in the morning? Yes. Yes he is.

One other Evans-related note: while he didn't participate in much of it, I'd be surprised if the frequent five-wide shotgun looks weren't related to his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Hopefully Michigan gets on the good side of that McCray-Dalvin Cook go route matchup this year.

In Evans's absence we got a lot of Karan Higdon (12 carries to lead everyone), Kareem Walker, Ty Isaac, and walk-ons. Higdon and Isaac looked like Higdon and Isaac; both were the beneficiaries of the second-team DTs getting consistently gashed. I continue to like Higdon's combination of sharp cuts and low pad level and think he'll a productive #2. Isaac looks fine, but his touchdown was untouched and he didn't make a ton on his own. Walker didn't get a ton of opportunity he did have another run like he did last year where he bounced off some tackles to gain additional yards.

Your walk-on du jour here is Tru Wilson, who was quick through the hole and very small. Very little chance he breaks through the five scholarship guys who will be on campus this fall.

Wide Receiver and Tight End

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Black can go get it [Eric Upchurch]

The wide receivers are going to be young but that might not matter. Kekoa Crawford got a quick hook and can be penciled in as a starter. Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black certainly look the part already. DPJ was held relatively in check by Keith Washington, and I'm already like "impressive job, Keith Washington" when he's been on campus for two years and DPJ has been on campus for two months.

Black played the part of Guy Opposite Dennis Norfleet on O'Korn's touchdown drives, running the same fade over and over against Benjamin St-Juste for completions and flags. Black is bouncy, 6'4", and adjusts well to balls in the air. He's all right. Meanwhile, Brandon Brown got a shot of Nico Collins veritably looming on the sidelines.

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The guy behind him to the right is 6'2" Brad Hawkins. Collins is huge. Collins, Black, DPJ, and Hawkins are a veritable fleet of catching-radius guys who can go get contested balls and make quarterbacks right. That is one recruiting class. Also they got Oliver Martin. I'd managed to forget how ridiculous this WR class was.

In the slot, Eddie McDoom was doing McDoom things before an apparently ankle injury knocked him out. On replay that injury didn't seem too bad: there was no plant or twist. Ankle injuries generally don't keep guys out months and months, so he's probably going to be fine this year. Here's hoping, because I don't want to disappoint this guy.

Curse everything in the world that prevents us from selling that.

Also in the slot was walk-on Nate Schoenle, who was on the receiving end of Peters's best throws of the day. One was a tough diving catch on the game-winning drive. At 6'2" Schoenle gives you downfield ability a lot of slots lack and Peters is clearly comfortable with him; I mentioned him as a guy generating buzz before the game and he'll generate more of it now. Nate Johnson didn't get a target, IIRC. Schoenle looks like a real threat for slot PT.

[UPDATE: Johnson did make a catch, fumbling as he fought for extra yardage.]

So with all that it's getting late early for Drake Harris and Moe Ways. Harris did not participate, and for a guy with his injury history facing down this wide receiver class that is tough. Ways did play but not until the second half when the rotation was getting deep indeed. Two of his plays were questionable, as well. He ran a four yard route on third and five; he messed up his footwork so badly on a back-shoulder fade that both of his feet were out of bounds on a potential touchdown. (Ambry Thomas got hit with a flag for holding him, FWIW.)

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Eubanks looks the part now [Patrick Barron]

At tight end Nick Eubanks appears to have made a move. He looks like a tight end now, which is step one. He was also targeted frequently. Michigan only found middling success doing so; the sheer number of balls he saw implies he's been making plays this spring. Here he only almost made a play, dropping a tough fade route from Peters after executing a textbook Manningham slow-and-extend to wall off the safety he'd gotten over the top of.

As a recruit Eubanks was regarded as a crazy athlete who needed seasoning. He's probably a year away from delivering on that athleticism; he certainly looks the part now.

Zach Gentry, meanwhile, both does and does not. Does he look like a tight end? No.

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no [Bryan Fuller]

Does he look like Jeff Samardadjzijaadfh? Kind of. Except tall!

That's a busted coverage and not exactly black-belt receivering but just look at the guy and his long loping strides and ability to shake enough to put not-Kovacs on his butt. Spring reports frequently noted that Gentry fielded a ton of targets, and sure if I'm a quarterback I'll look for the guy who puts Jake Butt's catching radius to shame. I feel a Funchess move coming on.

Ty Wheatley Jr is Michigan's sole remaining Kaiju, and that makes me sad. When I checked out his blocking that made me happy, though. He had another of his catches where he looks implausibly fast for a large man, and with Asiasi's departure he's going to get a ton of PT; he's Michigan's top blocking TE by a mile now and he brings a two-way ability that could be lethal. Just has to develop a bit.

Offensive line

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if Runyan could be a real RT candidate that would be nice [Bryan Fuller]

The spring game format seemed designed to keep the defensive line from annihilating everyone and succeed in that regard. The starting line, or close to it, was kept together; the backups mostly got Michigan's second-team DL. And while those second-team DTs are huge alarm bells, that's another post.

This is for this post: I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of defenders swallowing a tailback two yards in the backfield. Setting aside five yards lost when Kareem Walker unwisely decided to reverse field, Michigan backs were TFLed for a total of six yards. That means that the OL was getting its assignments right virtually the whole day. I don't expect that when one OL is playing deep into the regular season; for two to mostly get it right in spring, with all the rotation they've been doing, is impressive. Steve Lorenz keeps bringing up the Ewing Theory in relation to the OL departures...

3. I'm sticking with my Ewing Theory belief on the offensive line's potential in 2017. Ace Anbender at MGoBlog picked out former PWO Andrew Vastardis as a guy who stood out today and I'm inclined to agree. Vastardis was one of three or four PWOs last cycle the staff believed would, not could, be a difference maker sooner rather than later. He's not going to start this season, but he was a good indicator that a lot of guys have improved this off-season. Cesar Ruiz is ready. The pieces still need to be shuffled out, mainly at right tackle, but holes were paved consistently today.

...and I can see that. If Michigan can field a line that doesn't have a guy who runs by first-level defenders on the regular that would be good for their YPC and my blood pressure.

Your starter-ish line was: Cole/Bredeson/Kugler/Onwenu/Runyan, with Cesar Ruiz and Andrew Vastardis from the second unit impressing both myself and Ace. Given the context...

...we shouldn't anoint the guy as Glasgow 4.0 just yet. Straight up dominating some bad players is a good first step, and he did that. Most of Michigan's big runs came when the second-team DL got caved in by the second-team OL.

Also in walk-ons I'd love to get lucky on: ominously-named Greg Robinson has plausible size at 6'6" 290, per a yet-to-be-updated roster, and played a bunch at left tackle. He got blown up on a couple runs and did not seem nearly as fluid as Vastardis.

Ruiz got some run at guard in the second half, FWIW, but Bredeson never kicked out to tackle. These things seem to be contradictory since the OL with Ruiz at guard necessarily has Bredeson at RT. Michigan either 1) thinks Bredeson can't play tackle, 2) thinks he needs all the time at guard he can get to get ready for the season, or 3) thinks a guy on the roster is a capable RT. That latter could be Bushell-Beatty, who we did not see because of injury, or Runyan. Your author is guessing that #2 is the truthiest here, after Bredeson's understandably error-prone freshman year.

Blitz pickups were pretty bad; unclear if that was a tailback issue or a QB issue or an OL issue. Probably some of all three. Blitz pickups in spring against Don Brown and squat missile dude Devin Bush were always going to be a problem. They are a problem. It would only be notable if they were not a problem.