Recruits In Retrospect: 2010 Defense

Recruits In Retrospect: 2010 Defense Comment Count

Ace May 15th, 2015 at 2:06 PM

Previously: 2008 Offense2008 Defense2009 Defense2009 Quarterbacks2009 Offense, 2010 Offense

The series continues with a look back at the defensive prospects in Michigan's 2010 recruiting class. Rich Rodriguez took 16 defenders in the class; more of them failed to make it to the opening kickoff of their freshman year (four) than advanced all the way to Senior Day (three).

I apologize in advance.

Those Who Stayed


Obi Ezeh!

Especially in retrospect, Jake Ryan's recruitment was bizarre. Ryan was the most productive defender on a state-title-winning Cleveland St. Ignatius squad that got plenty of exposure; he played next to Ohio State commit Scott McVey; his highlight tape provided more than a glimpse of what he'd become at Michigan. He looked a whole lot like Jake MF Ryan, minus the flowing locks.

Yet Ryan went unranked for much of the process, and even after a strong senior season only earned middling three-star rankings. Michigan didn't offer Ryan until he took an official visit a couple weeks before Signing Day. Ryan, holding only MAC offers, committed the next day. Reading his profile today makes me wonder if I unwittingly ingested all of the drugs:

Why Obi Ezeh? Ryan is a big, slightly clunky middle linebacker who will easily reach Ezeh's current 245 pounds and may outgrow the position entirely. As a recruit Ezeh was an anonymous three-star in about the same range Ryan is; he was also a sleeper-type pickup who had not been on anyone's radar before Michigan grabbed him. Ryan is praised for his vertical attacking and dogged for his ability to cut through the trash sideline-to-sideline or effectively cover zones; Ezeh's career is ably summed up by those critiques.

Ryan has some assets Ezeh doesn't: a high school career at linebacker (Ezeh was mostly a running back), a head start on the system he'll be playing in, and Greg Robinson as a position coach. Hopefully he'll have some consistency in coaching as well.

Notably, Greg Robinson as a position coach was listed as a positive. Greg Robinson as a defensive coordinator was... not.

Jibreel Black's profile spent a lot of time hoping he'd become at least a poor man's Brandon Graham. While Black didn't come close to Graham's heights, he was a solid contributor his last three years, and he could've been more productive if Michigan's issues with D-line depth didn't force him into a role as a 275-pound nose tackle for much of his senior season. Black is one of many players from the Rodriguez/Hoke era whose career would've benefited from a redshirt year he wasn't afforded.

The career of Courtney Avery saw him go from promising freshman corner to clearly undersized spot starter to senior utility man—he'd finish his time at Michigan with 19 starts, five of them at safety in 2013. Avery was also a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, which shouldn't come as a surprise since he flipped his commitment from Stanford to Michigan; his high school coach thought very highly of him:

“He’s the type of kid that if he wants to be president of the United States one day, he will be. I got two compliments I could give him. That’s the first, and the second is if my daughter was 18, she could date him."

"Thanks, Coach. I'm deeply uncomfortable."

[Hit THE JUMP, if you dare.]

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Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs MSU

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs MSU Comment Count

Brian November 6th, 2013 at 3:10 PM

FORMATION NOTES: On passing downs Michigan sometimes went with this 3-3-5-ish look with the line in a wide three-man front and the SAM hanging out next to one of the ends;

3-3-5-nickel

They also went with a weird wide even line against Ace, once:

4-3-even-wide

M rolled down Gordon in their under early:

4-4-under

And occasionally split their nickel package, leaving just one LB. I called this 5-1.

5-1-nickel

Oh and on the final drive MSU pulled out an unbalanced formation with two inline TEs to the same side of the line.

troll-game

Deliberately trolling Borges's unbalanced lines? Probably not, but I hope so.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Taylor, Countess, and Gordon went the whole way. When Michigan went to a nickel it was always Jourdan Lewis; Michigan also brought in Avery from time to time to spot Wilson, with iffy success.

Linebacker was the usual, except Brennen Beyer was moved to SDE, leaving SAM mostly Ryan with Cam Gordon backing; the three-man ILB rotation was still in place. Gedeon was sent to the bench again.

On the line Michigan did some weird stuff. Black(!) played nose tackle to open the game and would end up there periodically. Henry flipped between nose and three-tech; when it was Washington and Henry Michigan seemed to regard them as interchangeable. Clark went almost the whole way at WDE; very little Ojemudia. At SDE it was Beyer and some Wormley; no or very little Heitzman. Glasgow made a cameo or two.

[After THE JUMP: I mean, what did you expect?]

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Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs UConn

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs UConn Comment Count

Brian September 27th, 2013 at 1:21 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan alternated between their 4-3 with guys often split over the slots like so:

4-3 even

And their nickel package.

They also had some weird snaps where they would take their WDE and line him up like a SAM:

over-flare

This was always a drop into man coverage on the TE by Clark. I did not call this out as a new formation. I probably will in the future.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Secondary saw Avery replace the youngsters as the third corner when Michigan was in nickel, which was quite frequently. The rest was Taylor/Countess/Gordon/Wilson as per usual.

At linebacker the usual rotation of Ross, Morgan, and Bolden. Beyer went the whole way at SAM, I think.

On the line, another light day for nose tackles. Both got some run but it was a lot of three-techs out there. Clark got the most run at WDE with Ojemudia backing up. Black was out there almost all the time; Henry and Wormley got more snaps than any other SDE/3T type with Heitzman also participating quite a bit. Glasgow and Godin appeared rarely, if at all.

[After THE JUMP! Points! Yards! None of those!]

Comments

Wednesday Presser Transcript 9-18-13: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser Transcript 9-18-13: Brady Hoke Comment Count

Heiko September 18th, 2013 at 1:17 PM

Bullets:

  • Boo boo watch: Courtney Avery and AJ Williams are back at practice. This is not a drill. 
  • Boo boo watch part 2: Taylor Lewan didn't practice yesterday but will today. He's fine. Mario Ojemudia will be the most limited of the boo boo watchees. I don't know if he'll play.
  • The offensive line is in an introspective phase. Changes might occur as early as this week. However, the bye week presents a much better opportunity to shake things up.

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

Opening remarks:

"Good practice yesterday. Thought we came out and competed very hard, which you expect every day. But I thought we physically were getting after each other, and we'll do the same thing today. We've got to play the run better, run the ball better, same old stuff you always hear, but it's the truth and it is what it is. I liked how we came out and competed with each other."

Noticeably different from last week?

"On a Tuesday? Probably a little bit."

A lot players said last Tuesday was lackluster. Can you tell that?

"They would know best if they felt that way. Maybe it's an individual thing, too."

Can you talk about UConn's defensive front?

"Yeah they're a big front. Not quite Notre Dame big in some ways, but they're a big front. Active in the linebackers. I think Smallwood is a guy who is their main bellcow when it comes to tackling and getting the ball on the ground. Just reading some of the comments Paul has made, I know they want to play better against the run also. I'm sure they've worked their tails off like we are."

Did Taylor Lewan practice?

"He didn't do anything yesterday. He did some alternate conditioning stuff, but he'll practice today. He's fine."

Comments

Tuesday Presser Transcript 9-17-13: Greg Mattison

Tuesday Presser Transcript 9-17-13: Greg Mattison Comment Count

Heiko September 17th, 2013 at 4:50 PM

Opening remarks:

"Well, here we are again. I might as well answer it before you ask. What about the pass rush? You're going to ask that question and the answer I'm going to give you is one, they kept backs in a little bit more in passing situations than we expected. And the other thing I’m going to tell you is I have to coach it better. Our guys are working hard at it, and I’ll put that on me. We just have to get better at it. And we know that. We started working on it on Sunday already but we will be able to rush, and we’re going to do that.”

MGoQuestion: We haven't seen a lot of the nose tackles the last couple weeks. What's the reasoning behind that?

"Well we were in sub a lot. Some guys are better at playing the run and some guys are maybe better at playing able to play the run as well as rush the passer. We feel like those two guys are 300-and-some pound guys that might not give us quite the movement we’re looking for in pass rush.”

Comments

Wednesday Presser Transcript 9-11-13: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser Transcript 9-11-13: Brady Hoke Comment Count

Heiko September 11th, 2013 at 2:54 PM

Bullets:

  • Boo boo watch: AJ Williams is questionable, Courtney Avery is getting better, but still probably limited. 
  • It's Akron week. Yawn.

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

Opening remarks:

"Practice was pretty good on Tuesday. We've talked about it before, we're putting some wrinkles in, both offensively and defensively, for what you want to do and what you want to try and work on for the future. Some of it always is for that opponent. It was a pretty good practice. A lot of heat, which was good, because we were relatively, during fall camp, it really never got hot. So we got to play in the heat a little bit, and Akron is going to be a high tempo team. They like to get on the ball as quickly as they can. They like to throw the ball around, get on the perimeter of the defense some. From a defensive perspective for them, they're very aggressive. You know, they like to blitz, they like to play zero coverage, they like to play man free. So they'll stack the line of scrimmage a little bit and you have to take advantage of the shots you get."

Comments

Monday Presser Transcript 9-9-13: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser Transcript 9-9-13: Brady Hoke Comment Count

Heiko September 9th, 2013 at 5:26 PM

Bullets:

  • Courtney Avery is getting better, was still limited on Saturday.
  • Joe Reynolds was also limited.
  • Hoke liked the way the secondary played. Playing soft coverage was by design. 

Podium

Opening remarks:

"It was an exciting environment, and it was great to win the football game the other night. Can't say enough about the Michigan fans, the students, and the people who were in that stadium. It was electric, it was definitely something that was helpful when they were loud. It was enough of a distraction to some degree, so that was great. I like how our team stuck together. I don't think we were perfect by any means, and there was a lot from the offense, defense, and kicking game that we can go back to work on, and that's what we have to do. But it was great to win the football game. Proud of our kids on the team. I thought they complimented each other when they needed to from an offensive and defensive standpoint. It's good to win, but now it's on to Akron. Starting to work on the Zips and what they're all about."

What do you take from the Notre Dame game from each side of the line of scrimmage?

"I'd say a couple things. From an offensive standpoint we've got to pick up some of the interior blitzes better. I know Darryl [Funk] was disappointed because he thought they had had enough looks to do a better job in that part of it, that phase of it. Defensively, we tried to play and did for most of the game, play with a seven-man front. We have to fit the run a little better in a seven man front. At the same time, Coach Mattison talked about changing the math, which means getting off a block and making a tackle. We've got to do that a lot better."

What do you say or do to have your guys avoid a letdown against Akron?

Comments

Wednesday Presser Transcript 9-4-13: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser Transcript 9-4-13: Brady Hoke Comment Count

Heiko September 4th, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Bullets:

  • Courtney Avery will probably be available for Saturday. If he is, he'll be in competition with Jarrod Wilson for the safety spot opposite Thomas Gordon.
  • Joe Reynolds is fine. Will play.
  • The offensive line may be subject to change. Graham Glasgow is still taking snaps at center. 

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

Opening remarks:

"We had a good practice yesterday. Good preparation. Little bit of a Tuesday practice, first day of school. You look at the game plan, you add a couple things, you maybe tweak some things, and that always happens, so there's some learning that goes on Tuesdays. Overall I thought we had a good day."

When you finally punted, Kenny Allen was the punter. Was that only because it was late in the game?

"Well, it was late in the game, basically, is why we wanted to punt him and get him out on the field. He's worked real hard at it."

Comments

Monday Presser Transcript 9-02-13: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser Transcript 9-02-13: Brady Hoke Comment Count

Heiko September 2nd, 2013 at 4:30 PM

Bullets:

  • Boo boo watch: Joe Reynolds "feels better each day." I don't know what that means. Courtney Avery is "close" to being able to play.
  • Derrick Green is second on the depth chart.
  • Brady Hoke thinks depth charts are silly.
  • The Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry is a pretty meaningful one, yeah.
  • Interior line did pretty okay.
  • Erik Magnuson has gotten stronger to earn playing time.
  • Missed tackles vs. CMU were not so much the issue on defense. Cupping the ball was.

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

Televised Part

Opening remarks:

“Thanks for coming out. I know some of you would rather be on a boat on a lake, but it's football season so you don't have that opportunity. You know, as far as last weekend, I was pleased we won the game. At the same time there was a lot of things that we talked about as a football team, as a staff, that we can do better. There’s a lot of work. There’s no excuse for some of the penalties we had from a coaching standpoint and a playing standpoint. We had a couple returns that Dennis [Norfleet] did a nice job on, but obviously were canceled out. The turnovers -- can't have three turnovers. We lost five games a year ago, and we had 18 turnovers in those five games. 

“From a defensive perspective, we got two turnovers, but we need to get more. There were a lot of good things, but for us to be a championship football team, we have to do a much better job in how we play. I thought the tempo in the first half and a little bit of the second quarter from an offensive point of view wasn't really what we needed. I think they got a rhythm and they started to do some very good things. Obviously Devin [Gardner] has a great ability running with the football and throwing the football, so I think he helped us a ton some times in there. When we settled down a little bit, we got into the run game pretty well. I thought the defense stood up well in some sudden change situations. We got to play a lot of guys. There were 11 true freshmen and 14 redshirt freshmen who played in the football game. So that was good because they need the experience. 

“As you know and I know, this is a different week. It's a great rivalry game that's been played starting in 1887. It's a great rivalry game, and it's always a lot of fun. The atmosphere here, if you were here for the first night game, the second one should be just as fun. So with that, any questions?”

Comments

Preview 2013: Safety

Preview 2013: Safety Comment Count

Brian August 30th, 2013 at 10:18 AM

Safety

Rating: 3

Free Safety Yr. Strong Safety Yr.
Courtney Avery Sr. Thomas Gordon Sr.*
Jarrod Wilson So. Josh Furman Jr.*
Jeremy Clark Fr.* Delano Hill Fr.

[* = player has taken redshirt. # = walk-on]

Well, here it is. Michigan has lost Jordan Kovacs and the replacement derby has gone about as poorly as it could have. Jarrod Wilson was the guy they wanted to take the job and has not done so; Michigan moved a 5'9" slot cornerback back to safety because they had more faith in that guy knowing the defense than Wilson, and then that guy got hurt in a way that is not the way that he is perpetually hurt.

So… yeah, at least we'll have a good perspective on how valuable Jordan Kovacs was?

7990021103_7364df46aa_c[1]

Eric Upchurch

LET'S PULL THE BAND-AID OFF FIRST. The free safety slot is currently a competition between JARROD WILSON [recruiting profile] and COURTNEY AVERY that has gone to Wilson by default early because of arthroscopic surgery for Avery. Avery's only supposed to miss two games.

This preview projects that Avery will be the starter upon his healthy return, for various reasons. These are mostly about Wilson, so I guess we'll address him first. When Michigan moved him into the starting lineup last year in the bowl game, pain followed. Unless the entire rest of the defense was wrong on, Wilson was the culprit on a 70-yard South Carolina pass

image_3[1]

Wilson is on the numbers at the 40. He is supposed to be offscreen(!) to the right

…and the game winner

wilson-bust-last-play---Copy[1]

it's called CENTER field

…in situations where it was just flat-out blowing simple centerfield assignments. We've made a lot of allowances for freshman whatsit in these previews, but Wilson hasn't done anything positive so far—literally. The only thing he charted on last year before infinite minuses in the bowl game was a critical, legit pass interference penalty on Tyler Eifert in the Notre Dame game. (That was third and goal. Ouch.)

And then there's the late move. When it leaked into the media, Hoke was of course asked about it:

MGoQuestion: What does Jarrod Wilson have to do to solidify his spot at safety?

"He's got to have production."

MGoFollowup: Have you been worried about his lack of production?

"No, we just think that we have good competition and there's guys having some production. He's got to have more."

This is terrifying because at safety, "production" means not doing things like those pictures above. Compounding the terror somewhat is that Wilson enrolled early and should be less raw, more familiar with the defense, etc.

You can hold onto this, I guess?

Do you have an idea who might start Saturday at this point?

"You know, I think Jarrod [Wilson]'s had a nice last two weeks of fall. I think the pressure that was put on him by other guys ... Josh Furman's improved. I would say Jarrod probably."

Does that make you feel good? If so, give me some of your enjoyment.

Okay, okay: Wilson does have some experience and safety is not a kind spot for freshmen. As a recruit, his frame and size got him a lot of nice offers, including Penn State, Notre Dame, and Stanford. Kovacs said he'd picked the defense up fast last year…

“He’s come in and picked up the defense really, really well. That’s one of the things he’s got the football smarts and as a defensive back you really need that,” Kovacs said. “Don’t get me wrong, there are things he needs to get cleaned up and improved on, but I’m definitely impressed with how much he’s progressed and how good of a ballplayer he is as a senior in high school. He has a lot more time here and I expect big things in the future.”

…and while that doesn't seem… you know… true, we are extrapolating from limited data here to wave our doomy fingers of doom. It could work out! Yeah!

[After THE JUMP: Courtney Avery trying to come back, Thomas Gordon definitely doing so, and dodgy depth.]

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