Exit David Dawson

Exit David Dawson

Submitted by Seth on January 1st, 2017 at 6:01 PM

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[Bill Rapai]

Senior OG Dave Dawson announced today on Twitter that he does not plan on returning for his grad year:

Despite a relatively soft depth chart and high rankings as a recruit (the sites rated him around the same spot as they did fellow Technician Michael Onwenu) the big Cass Tech product struggled to crack the lineup in four years. Offensive line recruits are notoriously late to develop and hard to predict, however the more time spent behind some below-average starters the less likely it seemed that Dawson would meet the expectations of a top-150ish prospect.

The closest Dawson came to starting was in the 2015 offseason, when classmate Patrick Kugler was hurt, Dawson returned from the offseason 20 pounds heavier, and practice rumors suggested he was pressing Braden at left guard. This site held out hope that Harbaugh and Drevno would manage to tap the potential of a guy Joe Mathis described as “one mean cuss” coming out of high school.

Dawson was running with the ones while starting right guard Kalis was nursing something just last August, but remained buried all season despite plenty of opportunities for OL to crack the lineup. Kugler earned an early start at left guard in place of Braden, and true freshman Ben Bredeson passed both RS juniors to start the remainder of the season at left guard once Newsome went down and Braden shifted out to left tackle. Onwenu, also a true freshman, siphoned seasoning snaps at right guard during this year’s garbage time, but Dawson played some right tackle against Illinois and even a little defensive tackle in the Rutgers blowout.

Just sticking around even this long was remarkable within the context of his class. In 2013 Brady Hoke brought in six offensive linemen rated 3 stars or above on the 247 composite, not counting the scholarship long-snapper. OT Chris Fox lost his career to a knee injury before he got to college and late offer OG Dan Samuelson retired from football before ever threatening a depth chart. OT Logan Tuley-Tillman was kicked off the team for some very bad behavior, tried and failed to transfer to Wazzu a year ago, and wound up at Akron, where he started 12 games at left tackle. The only significant contributor was OG Kyle Bosch, who transferred due to some personal issues when Harbaugh arrived, and wound up starting the last two years at West Virginia, earning all-Big XII this year. Kugler, the only one rated higher than Dawson, should have his chance to salvage the class of 2013 this spring.

With Kalis and Braden graduating, Bredeson expected to kick out to RT in place of Magnuson, and left tackle an open question thanks to Newsome’s injury, playing time on the offensive line was wide open for Dawson. Even a position switch to DT was an outside possibility given Michigan’s needs. If Dawson still didn’t like his chances to pass Onwenu and the other underclassmen, it’s probably best for for him that he use his grad year to go somewhere he can play. Meanwhile Michigan loses another bullet in a rather bare chamber for upperclassmen OL:

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Via that depth chart Michigan now has 61 scholarships committed to currently returning players (including Peppers) and 26 commits, putting them 2 over the 85 they need to be at by the start of next season. Expected attrition from here gets that class to about 30 with room for some walk-ons to earn scholarships.

Unverified Voracity Says Up Periscope

Unverified Voracity Says Up Periscope

Submitted by Brian on August 17th, 2016 at 1:02 PM

BTN preview. BTN had their day at Michigan and came back with some video and some nonsense—on the television a person said that Michigan would be running a lot more man coverage, which is a literal impossibility. I'm not doing a recap post this year since specifics were thin; MGoVideo has the show up if you missed it.

The most interesting bit was Howard Griffith and then the rest of the crew advocating for Ben Bredeson to start immediately at left tackle because he is "elite":

Dave Revsine did have a couple of things of interest, including a Rashan Gary-Bredeson battle:

Bredeson got some rep at the UA game as the only guy who could even sort of slow Gary down, and here he sort of slows Gary down. Given the roster tackle reps for Bredeson are an inevitability—he can play it even if it's not an ideal spot and options past the starters are extremely questionable. Sufficient tackle reps to convince onlookers that Bredeson should play now are a bit of a surprise.

A bit more from Revsine:

And yes Gerry DiNardo said some nice things. I can never take them seriously:

"When I saw them in the spring it was like a war at the line of scrimmage. It was what you imagine it looks like at Alabama and all the downhill teams."

"How Michigan football returned to its smashmouth roots" was written before the 2013 season and remains the single least correct thing ever put on paper.

Let's infer things from this still shot. Via Chris Evans:

That appears to be ones versus ones. Items:

  • David Dawson is at right guard. Kyle Kalis was spotted in a non-contact jersey earlier in fall camp so that's probably an injury issue rather than Dawson making a move past an established starter; he appears to be the top backup option at guard.
  • Evans is in an H-back spot, not at tailback, His best fit on offense is as an OSU-style H-back in the vein of Jalin Marshall or last year's version Braxton Miller. While Michigan's offense doesn't have a dedicated spot like that, they did end up with a guy more or less in that role: Jabrill Peppers. With Evans impressing and Peppers around the offense figures to use a hybrid RB/WR guy on a lot of snaps, especially because you can do a lot worse than having De'Veon Smith block for you.
  • Michigan is very spread out across the defensive line and features both Wormley and Gary at defensive end. Wormley is likely to split his snaps close to evenly between DT and DE; reports that Gary will start get another bit of weight to them.
  • Pretty sure that's Peppers man up over a tight end I assume is Butt.

This is a good amount of data from a still shot.

It's a competition. All those #1 jerseys handed out? It's a competition like everything else:

“The one is not really given to me. Right now, I don’t really know what I’m wearing,” Crawford explained at Michigan’s Media Day. “I’m just wearing it right now, so we’ll see. There’s a couple players that want it. Whoever gets on the field first is going to get it.”

The hybrid space player breaks out. Excellent Andy Staples article on Jabrill Peppers and his ilk:

Since 2008, when the NCAA adopted the current clock rules and spawned an era of up-tempo offense, defensive coordinators have tried with little success to devise a system that can match up with an opponent who won't allow the defense time to substitute. The answer, it turns out, wasn't a scheme but a person. What those coordinators were seeking was a human Swiss Army knife, a player who can successfully operate on any of the defense's three levels and move effortlessly among them from play to play. With such a player on the field, a 4–3 base can morph into a 4–2–5 nickel without a single substitution or presnap move to tip off the quarterback. That 4–3 could also transform into (what appears to be) a blitzing 3–4 by walking the hybrid player to the line of scrimmage. Of course, the hybrid doesn't always have to blitz when he drops deep into the box (the area that encompasses the width of the offense's down linemen and extends about five yards beyond the line of scrimmage). He might bail and cover a receiver. Or he could come screaming off the edge faster than any defensive end or linebacker an offensive tackle has ever seen.

BC's Matt Milano, FSU's Derwin James, and Duke's Jeremy Cash are also this variety of hyper athletic linebacker/mean-ass safety. Read the whole thing for a picture of what Peppers's role will be this year.

Doctor Blitz. The Ringer's Jack McCluskey on Don Brown:

BC sent so many defenders into the backfield that it produced four players with at least 14.5 tackles for loss (no other team had more than two). Yet the Eagles failed to land a single player in the top 20 in that stat — they didn’t have transcendent talents like Clemson’s Shaq Lawson (25.5 TFL, 12.5 sacks) or Penn State’s Carl Nassib (19.5 TFL, 15.5 sacks) inflating their numbers. Their best pass rusher, Matt Milano, led the team with 17.5 TFLs (tied for no. 21 nationally) and just 6.5 sacks (tied for no. 72 nationally).

And though the Eagles had been vulnerable to giving up big plays on the back end in Brown’s first few seasons in Chestnut Hill, by Year 3 they got the personnel and the scheme to the point where they were solid on both ends. In 2013, Brown’s first year helming the defense, BC gave up 47 passing plays of more than 20 yards (tied for no. 97 nationally); in his last year, it gave up just 29 (tied for no. 10).

Someone is also using CFBStats.com, and well. That stat about 20 yard pass plays is clear evidence that Brown's reputation as an attack guy is warranted, and extends even to situations where his teams are getting burned on the back end as a result. Michigan probably won't have an issue as severe as BC 2013, but the Boring Old Jarrod Wilson days are probably behind us, for good and bad.

Hype hype hype hype. Michigan's gotten a lot of it this summer and there is naturally a tendency to check on this since Michigan hasn't been a truly elite team in a long time. (The Sugar Bowl was fun, sure, but if we're being honest that team was crazy lucky.) Dan Murphy analyzes the situation an article; he also gets a telling quote from Jake Butt:

“We were struggling with toughness our first few years,” Butt said about his underclassmen days under the former coaching staff. “Down the stretch of games when our backs were against the wall we struggled and we lost a lot of games. Coach Harbaugh identified this, and he made the changes necessary and it worked for us last year. I think it will continue to pay off for us going forward.”

Brady Hoke talked a lot about toughness but he wasn't having four-hour practices.

Injuries across the league. Michigan hasn't been hit yet, knock on wood. Others have not been so fortunate:

Thing I don't care about anymore. Harbaugh blazing people on twitter was fun over the summer, but it's more or less football season now. Now we talk about football. I do not care about Harbaugh ending an interview early because Mark Snyder has the social grace of an autistic llama on PCP, or moistly goateed Jim Rome turning that into #content, or Harbaugh spending ten seconds of his life googling "Jim Rome Jim Everett".

It does not matter. Rich Rodriguez was nicer to the media than any Michigan coach ever has been or will be and they stabbed him in the back at every opportunity. The media read Goodnight Gorilla to Brady Hoke every night and Michigan fans still abandoned the stadium in droves rather than watch his offense-type substance. I don't think it's a negative. I don't think Ty Duffy's right when he says it's a positive:

Harbaugh has spent two years playing the pied piper and dropping the occasional crumb on social media. Every media member is talking about him. Every major college football coach is answering questions about him. He’s been forced to reveal nothing. He doesn’t demand media members go along with it. He knows they will.

Everyone is talking about Michigan. Harbaugh has kept everyone’s attention deflected away from Michigan’s quarterback battle, from Jabrill Peppers being poised for a breakout year, and from Rashan Gary arriving on campus as the No. 1 overall recruit.

Harbaugh has been “handling” the media, masterfully, since he arrived in Ann Arbor. The implication is that “the media” are going to turn on Harbaugh and somehow this fact will have some grave karmic implications for him. Spoiler: it won’t.

It's nothing. It is noise made by people who don't really understand what they're watching. Andy Staples doesn't care. He can write a thing about hybrid space players. Mark Snyder has nothing other than press conferences to live on because he's never cared to learn one thing about the sport he covers even after 20-some years.

Here's the thing: a large number of people like open contempt for sports press since so often they're contemptible.

This is not a problem for most fans because given the chance they'd stuff most of the media in a broom closet.

Anyway. This admittedly longish section is the last I'll mention it unless something really amazingly tone deaf happens.

Etc.: They're run/pass optioning safeties now. Also still getting illegally downfield. Gentry as a tight end. Harbaugh hides at Coach and Four. The Hoover Street Rag turns ten. Probably not.

Preview 2015: Offensive Line

Preview 2015: Offensive Line

Submitted by Brian on August 31st, 2015 at 10:51 AM

Previously: Podcast 7.0. The Story. Quarterback. Running Back. Wide Receiver. Tight End And Friends.

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back back back back not back (but there's another guy also back) [Bryan Fuller]

Depth Chart

LT Yr. LG Yr. C Yr. RG Yr. RT Yr.
Mason Cole So. Ben Braden Jr.* Graham Glasgow Sr.* Kyle Kalis Jr.* Erik Magnuson Jr.*
Logan Tuley-Tillman So.* David Dawson So.* Patrick Kugler So.* Blake Bars Jr.* Juwann Bushell-Beatty Fr.*

It got better. It really did. The OL nadir is in the past. We can come out of the bunker and rebuild society now. 

By any reasonable metric it in fact got a lot better. Michigan's YPC leapt 1.3 yards, going from 11th in a 12-team league to 8th in a 14-team one. If you only look at Big Ten stats Michigan is still 8th, and that's in the division that had the MSU, OSU, and PSU defenses. Sacks allowed had a near-identical improvement, going from barely better than Purdue to a spot in the respectable midsection of the conference. Advanced stats saw something similar. Michigan finished 50th in adjusted line yards*, 32nd in power success rate, and 72nd in adjusted sack rate. And that's with the running backs going the wrong direction constantly.

None of these numbers stand out, but neither do they linger in the seedy parts of the list next to Temple and Penn State and Louisiana-Monroe. They were average-ish. Most of the time they felt average-ish.

That's not a bad place to be with zero seniors and just two upperclassmen. While the unexpected departure of Jack Miller puts a small dent in the front's depth, his likely replacement, Erik Magnuson, is a redshirt junior who came in as a touted recruit and has a season's worth of starts to his name already. If you're willing to fudge a bit, Michigan has five starters back from that okay line. They've replaced Brady Hoke with Jim Harbaugh and Darrell Funk with Tim Drevno.

Could they be… good?

*[A stat that weighs the first few yards you get heavily and discounts long runs in an attempt to get a feel for how the line is doing.]

TACKLE

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Cole coped [Eric Upchurch]

Rating: 3 of 5

Last year I gave this a 1 because Michigan was staring down a starting lineup consisting of a true freshman and a third-year guy who didn't even get a sniff during the chaos of 2013. They seemed to acquire these positions almost by default since the only other tackles on the roster were freshmen (redshirt or true) regarded as huge projects. Or they were starting at guard.

The 2014 edition of this post took a quick gander at what happened when football teams started freshman tackles. It was almost universally ugly. The best case scenario was Ole Miss, which deployed ultra-blue-chip Laremy Tunsil as a true freshman and was middling in both YPC and sacks allowed. All others trundled their way to seasons that were more or less disastrous.

Michigan was not disastrous last year. In what is certainly a first for offensive line projections in recent history, that prediction was pessimistic. MASON COLE, the true freshman, just about hit the top end of reasonable projections, those being:

The occasional freshman tackle can cope. I think Cole is one of those guys. But is he going to blow a guy off the ball and provide a big ol' lane at 292 pounds? Probably not. Our hope here is that Cole is a solid, agile pass protector in year one who is a meh run blocker.

Mason Cole coped. This is what that looks like in the run game according to UFR:

Opponent + - TOT Notes
App St 9.5 2 7.5 A fine debut
Notre Dame 4 2 2 Didn't seem overwhelmed at all.
Miami 8 5 3 Okay; also had one very bad pass pro.
Utah 3 2.5 0.5 Nice seal block ignored.
Rutgers 5 5 0 I'll take it.
Penn State 1.5 5 -3.5 Hull and Zettel bad matchup.
Minnesota 4.5 2.5 2 Overpowered a little but still okay day.
MSU 1.5 2 -0.5  
Indiana 3 0.5 2.5 Didn't mess anything up.

It was rougher in pass protection, where I have had him for 16 protection minuses in 8 games. Those are worth about half a QB pressure/sack each. Otherwise things were pretty okay against non-elite defenses. Cole's debut season was… eh.

When it didn't go well, the usual reason was that Cole got blown backwards because he was a true freshman. These were the kind of things that were happening against Zettel and company:

This was a game in which Cole's inexperience and lack of big skrongness really hurt. Here Butt gets an excellent shoulder spear on Zettel, knocking him off balance. This should provide ample opportunity for Cole to step around and wall Zettel off, creating a crease Smith will hit trying to beat a safety for a big gainer. Instead Zettel comprehensively wins:

Cole got whipped on the Norfleet catch that put Michigan in position for the winning field goal; Michigan was fortunate that ball went to the WR instead of getting knocked anywhere.

Ennui prevented me from charting him against Joey Bosa, but I've gone back and rewatched the OSU game. Cole was okay. By the second half of The Game Ohio State decided that they should either blitz outside of Bosa and send him against the interior line (which only kind of worked) or have him go at Ben Braden (which very much worked). Don't get me wrong, Cole did get beat. It was a struggle; it was not one in which he was completely overwhelmed.

All of that is terrific for a true freshman. Cole grabbed the job, held the job all season, and played reasonably well. There has been not a whisper that he would go anywhere except for a blip during spring practice when he was playing center, that because Glasgow was suspended and Michigan was figuring out if he could play there a la Barrett Jones. All practice reports have held that he is a sure thing, greatly improved, etc. 247 heard this from multiple people in a 24-hour window:

Mason Cole has unsurprisingly established himself as a rock at the left tackle spot, and is primed to be the next great four-year starter to play the position.

Cole's added 13 pounds and should make a major leap in year two, what with the rare true-freshman-to-true-sophomore OL transition coupled with the general HARBAUGH.

That will probably still leave him short of dominant. Michigan's most recent really good left tackle, Taylor Lewan, took off in his third year. In year two Cole should slash the protection issues considerably and do okay against the better defensive ends in the league. A year like early Graham Glasgow—reliable, somewhat short on raw power—would set Cole up to be excellent as an upperclassman.

[After THE JUMP: four-ish additional returning starters who happen to be upperclassmen already]

Fall Roster Overanalysis 2015!

Fall Roster Overanalysis 2015!

Submitted by Seth on August 28th, 2015 at 12:06 PM

They handed out the new phonebooks at yesterday's presser, and the internet managed to captured a shot of them before Steve Martin made off with the lot:

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You'll have to click for big. But I've already updated the master spreadsheet with all of it. Remember the rules: all weight gain is burley muscle that won't slow them down AT ALL, and all weight loss is a guy in the best shape of his life who's going to do crazy fast things as his new svelte self.

TO THE SPREADSHEETS!

Quarterbacks
Player 2012 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15
Jake Rudock         203      
Shane Morris   201 204 209 208   +3 +4
Wilton Speight     234 235 239     +5
Zach Gentry       230 244      
Alex Malzone       218 222      
John O'Korn         209      
Running Backs
Player 2012 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15
Drake Johnson 203 213 211 207 210 +10 -2 -1
De'Veon Smith   224 220 228 228   -4 +8
Derrick Green   240 220 234 225   -20 +5
Ty Isaac     225 240 228     +3
R.Taylor-Douglas     189 186 193     +4
Karan Higdon       190 189      
Joe Kerridge 244 238 244 249 248 -6 +6 +4
Sione Houma 221 231 242 243 242 +10 +11 -
Wyatt Shallman   237 239 244 245   +2 +6
Bobby Henderson   227 236 240 245   +9 +9
Receivers
Player 2012 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15
Amara Darboh 218 212 211 216 215 -6 -1 +4
Jehu Chesson 183 196 197 207 200 +13 +1 +3
Jaron Dukes   190 197 204 204   +7 +7
Da'Mario Jones   192 196 199 195   +4 -1
Drake Harris     176 174 181     +5
Freddy Canteen     176 185 182     +6
Maurice Ways     195 205 210     +15
Brian Cole       200 207      
Grant Perry       185 184      
Tight Ends
Player 2012 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15
A.J. Williams 282 265 260 285 275 -17 -5 +15
Jake Butt   237 249 248 250   +12 +1
Khalid Hill   258 252 252 263   -6 +11
Henry Poggi   260 270 273 266   +10 -4
Ian Bunting     227 243 252     +25
Chase Winovich     220 227 235     +15
Tyrone Wheatley Jr.       260 291      
Offensive Line
Player 2012 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15
Graham Glasgow 305 303 311 303 301 -2 +8 -10
Kyle Kalis 292 302 298 292 305 +10 -4 +7
Erik Magnuson 290 285 294 296 305 -5 +9 +11
Ben Braden 319 318 322 331 322 -1 +4 -
Blake Bars 282 291 294 281 290 +9 +3 -4
Patrick Kugler   287 299 297 302   +12 +3
David Dawson   297 296 309 316   -1 +20
L. Tuley-Tillman   300 290 309 302   -10 +12
Mason Cole     292 287 305     +13
J. Bushell-Beatty     319 319 325     +6
Grant Newsome       280 300      
Jon Runyan Jr.       275 304      
Nolan Ulizio       293 291      
Defensive Line
Player 2012 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15
Ryan Glasgow 285 300 296 297 300 +15 -4 +4
Willie Henry 302 306 293 311 307 +4 -13 +14
Mario Ojemudia 223 250 251 252 252 +27 +1 +1
Chris Wormley 268 289 295 300 303 +21 +6 +8
Matthew Godin 270 280 286 287 288 +10 +6 +2
Tom Strobel 250 265 268 270 282 +15 +3 +14
Taco Charlton   270 275 273 285   +5 +10
Maurice Hurst Jr.   270 282 281 282   +12 -
Lawrence Marshall     241 238 250     +9
Bryan Mone     312 325 320     +8
Brady Pallante     263 276 280     +17
Shelton Johnson       225 212      
Reuben Jones       225 222      
Linebackers
Player 2012 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15
R. Jenkins-Stone 206 225 234 240 245 +19 +9 +11
Allen Gant 196 212 223 225 227 +16 +11 +4
Desmond Morgan 230 228 232 236 244 -2 +4 +12
James Ross III 225 220 227 232 241 -5 +7 +14
Joe Bolden 224 225 231 232 237 +1 +6 +6
Mike McCray   237 241 242 240   +4 -1
Ben Gedeon   236 240 241 248   +4 +8
Dan Liesman   215 229 233 228   +14 -1
Noah Furbush     210 217 242     +32
Jared Wangler     219 230 231     +12
Safeties
Player 2012 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15
Jarrod Wilson 195 200 205 210 210 +5 +5 +5
Jeremy Clark 191 205 205 205 210 +14 - +5
Delano Hill   205 205 204 212   - +7
Dymonte Thomas   190 193 191 195   +3 +2
Jabrill Peppers     202 205 208     +6
Tyree Kinnel       200 201      
Cornerbacks
Player 2012 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15
Terry Richardson 154 167 170 174 175 +13 +3 +5
Wayne Lyons         197      
Jourdan Lewis   170 175 176 175   +5 -
C. Stribling   171 178 178 181   +7 +3
Reon Dawson   170 178 175 181   +8 +3
Brandon Watson     188 189 191     +3
Keith Washington       175 170      

[jump for items of interest and interest]

Open-ish Practice Recap

Open-ish Practice Recap

Submitted by Brian on August 24th, 2015 at 11:54 AM

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when in doubt, picture of Peppers [Upchurch]

Maybe 500 students gathered for an open-ish practice on Saturday. Approximately all of them were dragooned by local media. We got an inside report from MGoUser Crisler Spidey; the thread on the board has maybe a dozen different takes as well. Blockquotes without links in the rest of this post are snippets from Spidey*. He would like you to follow him on twitter.

If Jim Harbaugh's goal is to spawn the next generation of Michigan sports journalists, he's off to a good start.

*[Sometimes the combination of the internet, paranoid coaches, and football is just terrific.]

Ding dings and boo boos

In order of concern: minor, middling, a bit worried. A finger issue should clear up by the Utah game and wouldn't prevent Darboh from playing in any case; a shoulder/arm thing could be something that heals quickly or not; crutches are generally not good.

In addition:

  • Jourdan Lewis was dressed but did not participate. With various dudes in injury-indicating red shirts I would assume that means Lewis is obviously a starter they'd rather try to find their second corner with live-fire reps.
  • Tyrone Wheatley Jr was on crutches, but we knew that he had hurt himself already.
  • Spidey* caught this subtle thing: "Brian Cole, Karan Higdon, and DaMario Jones were all in uniform, but wearing running shoes instead of cleats. They participated in some drills, but not the scrimmage."
  • He also said Jarrod Wilson and Mike McCray were both in red no-contact jerseys but dressed.
  • Drake Johnson didn't play.

I wouldn't freak about the rather long list of names here; this is the point in camp where they've just come off weeks of punishing two-a-days and are trying to get everyone in reasonable shape before Utah.

Quarterback

Literally every report I have seen coming out of the scrimmage says it's Rudock, and it's not close. Here's Spidey's version:

Rudock looked far and away the better player, hitting his receivers with consistency and even getting a good scramble from time to time. Morris looked like Morris, consistently bombing it over his receivers' heads.

Also:

Let me reiterate how much better Rudock was than Morris. This does not appear to be a very close race at all. Rudock was connecting with all of his receivers, especially Harris and Butt.

A report from Scout:

Rudock got the great majority of the snaps with the first unit. Described as more athletic than what might have been thought coming in.. "A guy who may not win the game but certainly won't lose it."  Performed much better than Morris, especially when evaluated with regard to poise, delivery of ball to the right spots and working through progressions.

The difference must have leapt off the field to those in attendance, because many of these takes are emphatic. Most of the passing was quick rhythm WCO stuff, which plays into Rudock's strengths—he's very accurate.

As far as Morris goes:

Morris still has a rocket for an arm, and he overthrew senior wide receiver Jehu Chesson past the end zone and into the crowd.

"Same old stuff" was another take. Reports from camp have been more positive than those originating from Saturday's scrimmage, so it's possible the students just caught him on an off day.

Wilton Speight got time with the third team late.

Also, Zach Gentry is enormous. That is all.

Running back

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[Patrick Barron]

De'Veon Smith was your tentative #1 with Ty Isaac rotating in behind him and Derrick Green getting time with the second unit. Ross Taylor-Douglas made a few appearances with the second team as well, so 1) that's what position he's playing today and 2) Drake Johnson does not seem full go yet.

Kerridge was the fullback; Chase Winovich was the second option there. Winovich lined up as an H-back in the spring game and would likely reprise that role; he's not going to be as effective as Kerridge is as a linebacker deterrent.

Wide receiver & tight end

With Darboh out Jehu Chesson and Drake Harris were the first team guys, which is an indicator that Harris is for real unless his hamstring betrays him again. It does not give us much insight into exactly how much hype we should buy into—if Darboh was playing and Harris was out there in front of Chesson that would be time to (gingerly, oh so gingerly) ring the cathedral bells.

The scrimmage also gave further confirmation that Grant Perry is the starting slot receiver and that Jake Butt is going to be relied upon heavily in the passing game. Moe Ways seems like the #4 guy at the moment.

Tight ends:

Jake Butt and Ian Bunting were first team tight ends, and Khalid Hill and Henry Poggi were actually the second team tight ends.

No AJ Williams is notable since there weren't any reports he was injured. Also notable is that Bunting got a number of snaps in 2TE sets with the starters. If his ability as a receiver is enough to offset what I imagine is still some pretty iffy blocking at 245-ish, that is encouraging.

Offensive line

Asking anyone to interpret OL performance without the benefit of replay from field level is folly. Nobody tried. The one note of interest is that the OL was as expected (Cole-Braden-Glasgow-Kalis-Magnuson) the whole time until late, when Dawson replaced Braden for a bit. With Kugler out Dawson is likely your sixth OL no matter what… and Braden's the guy most under threat.

Spidey caught the second team OL, one with some switches from earlier:

2nd team O-Line was LTT-Dawson-Bars-Pliska-JBB.

Kugler was out, remember. Previously Bars had been repping at RT and Bushell-Beatty at RG.

Defensive Line

Spidey:

1st team tackles were Ryan Glasgow and Matt Godin, with Mo Hurst coming in as well. Hurst played second team with Tom Strobel it appeared.

Interesting thing: seems to be that Willie Henry has moved to defensive end. He was playing opposite Mario Ojemudia. Chris Wormley also took snaps with the first team defensive ends. Second team was RJS and Taco Charlton.

That would be bonkers if that's long term. Godin received a reasonable amount of time and did pretty well with it in spots (he was disruptive against Northwestern), but moving guys away from defensive tackle after the Mone injury would be odd. Especially since that would boot Wormley to the second team. As experiments go this one doesn't seem likely to skip.

FWIW, it doesn't seem like the Henry move is indicative of an actual 3-4:

We'll see how it shakes out. I do think Godin is a legit player. Strobel's presence on the two deep as a DT is a bit alarming since he's listed at 6'6", 270 and was recently bounced to tight end, which didn't take. For whatever reason he's played mostly DT at Michigan despite a build that strongly suggests SDE in an under, which is a spot at which Michigan could use some depth. Instead he's playing inside and they're goofing with Henry outside. I dunno man.

Linebacker

As expected: Ross, Morgan, Bolden. There were occasional dime packages on which Morgan was the only LB. Gedeon rotated in with the first team frequently.

Secondary

With Lewis held out the starting corners were Channing Stribling and Jeremy Clark—possibly a reason that the passing game was much more effective than the run game. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'. Max Bultman paid attention to Clark and thought he was all right:

Clark covered Chesson most of the night and looked solid. He was never beat deep, but with Darboh out, he wasn't covering a true No. 1 outside.

Disposition of Peppers was the same as it was in spring:

Jarrod Wilson and Jabrill Peppers were the safeties, and on nickel packages, they pushed Peppers to nickelback, with Delano Hill coming in as another safety.

Second team:

Second team secondary saw Keith Washington and Brandon Watson at corner, Wayne Lyons playing safety with Dymonte Thomas, and Terry Richardson at nickel.

Losing Blake Countess is going to rankle if Lyons isn't even playing cornerback. No idea what that says about anything. If things aren't going well they do have the option of moving Peppers to boundary and using Hill as a full-time starter. They clearly do not want to do that.

Special Teams

Reports on the kicking game varied. (As per the spring game, there were no punts.) Freshman scholarship kicker Andrew David did not make an appearance; walk-ons Kyle Seychel and Kenny Allen were either wobbly or fine. Bultman:

Senior Kenny Allen and sophomore Kyle Seychel both took field goals, but neither was very consistent. Seychel appeared to have the bigger leg, but his misses were also by a wider distance than Allen's.

That last sentence is a miserable way to measure kicker competency, but reports on the board were relatively sanguine about field goals, with one guy saying 6/8 were made.

General

Sounds like the Harbaughffense:

Formations were mostly under center with singleback or I-form, shifting the fullbacks and tight ends all over the place. Slot receivers were usually just tight ends who motioned out the slot.

That might be a reason Bunting got significant time. He is a threat split out.

Seasoning the Line: 2015

Seasoning the Line: 2015

Submitted by Seth on June 30th, 2015 at 11:14 AM

While I was chatting with Brian last week he happened to pull up the top 7 composite recruits from the 2013 season. I followed and…

image

Woof. Green has obvious vision problems and hasn't emerged from a pile of guys among whom the most statistically effective last year was Drake Johnson. Dymonte Thomas and Shane Morris are already juniors and to date still seem to be at least a year's worth of good coaching away from ready.

That leaves us the offensive line class. Kugler seems to be on track to start when Glasgow surrenders his job—I've heard the same suite of nice things you have. Bosch transferred after performing about how you'd expect a true freshman thrust into a Borges-coached OL would. Fox hasn't been mentioned since a staff ago. Dawson we have only a little more data, much of that getting owned by Maurice Hurst in the spring game (if Hurst does that against Utah's OL I'll happily rescind that as a criticism).

On the other hand we caution all the time about giving up on OL when they're too young.

So when do you know about an offensive lineman?

This is a question I've been interested in a long time, going back to an article one of my Daily colleagues did on OL recruiting to highlight the injuries plaguing the classes Michigan took while I was there. I could never find the article but in January 2013 I tried to recreate some of that information, plus a 12-year update. I did a thing about a year ago on growth tracks to reset expectations for those 2012 and 2013 line classes. Let's check in again, this time with columns.

OL growth chart

The towers shrink because players currently on the roster are included in the data, and obviously our information on them is incomplete. "Not available" is a catch-all for transfers, dismissals, guys playing defense, injuries and medicals and whatnot. "Excellent" is basically all-conference-ish, "Solid" is that, "Liability" are guys who were starting but the fan consensus was they shouldn't be or wouldn't but for things like the 2008 depth chart or gross Borges incompetence.

This time I differentiated between "backups" and "two-deep" (an imperfect thing from memory and pouring through old Wolverine annuals). The former are guys buried on the depth chart and unlikely to play; the latter are only the top backups we are relatively certain would have played if they weren't behind an established starter. It's not about being technically on the two-deep, more like the first one or two guys in if an OL goes down—Erik Magnusson last year, or Leo Henige forever.

Things:

  • Redshirting is overwhelmingly the normal thing to do as a freshman.
  • Only a handful of players are capable of starting (shades of yellow) as redshirt freshmen. If you take the yellow chunk from there and size it against the 4th and 5th years you can see only about a third of the eventually useful players are demonstrably so at that age. Sing the praises of any 2014s already playing; don't give up on any who are not.
  • By RS Soph there is a big yellow expansion. The mysterious "backups" region has shrunk considerably. You have a fairly good sense of who these guys are by the end of this year.
  • There is very little difference—just a slight improvement—between RS Juniors and 5th year seniors. The backups disappear into unrenewed 5ths.

If you're using this imperfect data set of 82 players, many of whom didn't complete their careers for non-ability-related reasons, to get a feel for when to judge an offensive linemen, you could say it's a half-life. Don't judge a (redshirt) freshman unless he's already playing well, but after their third year in the program if he's not on the two-deep the chances of ever doing so decrease exponentially.

What this means for the 2012-'14 OL classes

Be excited for: Mason Cole.

Be extremely content with: Mags, Kalis and Braden if they seem to be playing well this year.

Keep an eye out for: Kugler, Logan Tuley-Tillman, and David Dawson. These are 2013 guys mentioned as probable two-deep contributors, though our current scouting has Kugler pretty much ready to play, LTT half-way there, and Dawson probably not ready yet. Further data received on them this year will speak volumes about their futures.

Be patient with: Juwann Bushell-Beatty. If he pops up this year he's probably going to be awesome; if he's buried there's plenty of time that this doesn't matter.

Getting late: Bars, Fox, Samuelson. With Bars at least we've heard past mentions of him competing, though he was always kind of the last guy in that 2012 class. He may be on the Huyge track; if he's not on the two-deep this (his redshirt junior) year it doesn't seem very likely he'll be a starter in 2016. Fox has been hurt so much in his career (just going off of game reports) if he's not medicaled he probably deserves some extra time to get caught up. Samuelson I've heard nothing about; even when I ask people with insider-y info I get nothing.

Fall Camp Presser 8-14-14: Brady Hoke

Fall Camp Presser 8-14-14: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 15th, 2014 at 12:27 PM

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News bullets and other items:

  • Kalis [back] and Funchess were held out of Wednesday's scrimmage
  • Hoke is looking for guys along the defensive line to separate themselves
  • Your tentative starting offensive line (after Glasgow returns from suspension) is Mason Cole-LT; Erik Magnuson-LG; Jack Miller-C; Graham Glasgow-RG; Ben Braden-RT
  • Kalis would likely be a starter if he wasn't injured
  • Drake Harris' hamstring injury is taking longer to recover than expected
  • The coaching staff is emphasizing putting the players in stressful, game-like situations

Opening remarks:

"Thanks for coming. We had a good scrimmage yesterday. Got about 140 plays in. It was about 55 for the ones and twos and about 35 for the threes so it was good. We got a lot of work and a lot of different situations of football, I think, that are important. Really thought that we had a lot of energy. Liked how they approached playing in the Big House. Today we did a lot of trying to – some of those guys, because of GPS and all the tracking, played a game and a half, you know, yesterday. We took today – did a lot of walk-throughs, a lot of meetings, a lot of film done, a lot of teaching from that perspective. Think we're in good shape right now. Held a couple guys out: Kalis we held out, Funchess we held out– gosh, I've got to remember who all we held out. Delano Hill, even though he's coming back right now, with no contact status. He's doing more drill work. And then Drake Harris and Jake Butt but everybody else participated, everybody else got a number of plays so was good for evaluations and, you know, you look at those decisions and you see where you're at and, again, Saturday night obviously we're going to go out again. Obviously probably not the same kind of play count but it will be probably 30-30-20 if you look at it which will end up being 40-40-25 most likely. But to get out and play under the lights a little bit will be a good experience for our guys to be with people there. The one thing that we've really talked about a lot of keeping stress on the players. Because there's some youth in there in a few positions, but just overall because of the mechanics of the offense, the mechanics of the defense, the communication process that we need to make sure we have on every play."

You say you wanted to keep stress on them. What kind of stress?

"Well, you know, I think that's a good question because you can do it with crowd noise, music, making where they've really got to focus in and lock in that they're hearing the calls from the guy next to them. I think in the different situations, you know- you put an offense in third-and-10, third-and-8, there's some stress there to pick up first downs and you put a defense in a situation where you're going heavy fronts, half yard line you put some stress on them that way so that's a lot of it, tempo's a lot of it. You know, I don't know which day it was. What day's today? Today's Thursday? It was Tuesday we wanted to get a little tempo for both sides of it. We were going to run what we call racks of 4-4-4 for each group and ended up instead of 12 plays it was a 44 play segment because we wanted to keep the stress on them and the tempo, Get them tired. See how they play tired, see how they think at the same time we had music – we were in Glick that day and in Glick the music can be pretty loud."

Couple things. Drake Harris- how concerned are you about that injury now at this point?

"Well, you know, obviously would like to have back. Obviously it's going probably longer than he wants and we want. I think he's getting closer to getting back out on the field we just have to keep working through it, rehabbing through it. It's not the same hamstring that he heard before and what happens with guys – and this is some of the data that I think is pretty interesting. We're getting in to GPS monitoring and what all that does and believe me, I'm not the expert. There's guys, Aaron Wellman's one of those...how much is a guy, from a symmetry standpoint, pushing off one leg than the other? Monitors all that and guys like Jake Butt, you know, he's using his other leg a lot more than he is but those numbers are coming down where he's getting a little more balance which is part of good news for him and for us. So I think for Drake's case, because he had the one, I think fatigue and some of those things because kids want to compete and that's the thing you love- that part of it and how it effects the other one."

And could you talk about how the defensive line's coming together?

"Yeah. I think as a group they're coming together pretty good. I think this thing that we're looking for, you know, because we've got- Frank has had a good fall camp, Brennen Beyer's had a real good fall camp, inside I think Willie Henry and Chris Wormley have had good fall camps. I think Matt Godin's a good player, then Willie Henry, Bryan Mone, Ryan Glasgow and [Maurice] Hurst have all- they're competing like heck out there, which is great. What I'm really looking for is some separation. You know, they're all talented and have some attributes that are all positive but we've got to look for a little more separation."

You mentioned Delano Hill coming back and participating in some drills. How close is he to participating in contact drills and how is the competition going at safety until he gets back?

"Well, I think that Dymonte Thomas has been competing with Jarrod [Wilson] and Jeremy Clark. I would say when Delano gets back that's another talented athlete that we'll be excited about. How much longer? You know, it could be three weeks, it could be two weeks. I can't really tell you. That's a doctor's deal and, you know, I think we're happy with where he is right now as far as the recovery and how the surgery went and all that but we'll see."

[After THE JUMP: piecing together an offensive line and the competition at linebacker and corner]

Quick Hoke Presser Tidbits: O-Line Taking Shape?

Quick Hoke Presser Tidbits: O-Line Taking Shape?

Submitted by Ace on August 14th, 2014 at 6:03 PM


3/5 of the starting line for the opener? [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]

Brady Hoke held a presser this evening, and while Adam should have the full transcript up later, Brian asked me to do a quick rundown since this was a particularly newsworthy one. Let's start with—you guessed it—the offensive line, which seems to be taking form.

That's from left to right, and confirms what Hoke said on the radio earlier today about Braden solidifying his spot at right tackle, with Mason Cole still holding strong at LT.

While Glasgow looks to be the starter at right guard, he's suspended for the opener; Kyle Bosch and David Dawson are competing to start against Appalachian State. As for concern that Kyle Kalis hasn't been mentioned much at all this fall, there's apparently good reason for his absence:

If Hoke is to be believed, Miller is in position to do more than just start the first game—according to the man in charge, Miller is outplaying Glasgow at center. That'd be great news, as it would allow Glasgow to work at guard—where he seems to be a better option than Bosch/Dawson—and let Miller provide an apparent upgrade at center over Michigan's most consistent interior lineman from last year (that is, admittedly, not a distinction worth throwing a parade over).

UPDATE: Per Angelique Chengelis, Hoke actually said that Kalis would be a starter—though one or both of them didn't specify where—if his back was healthy.

That could mean Kalis would take over at left guard, Magnuson would slide over to left tackle, and Cole would move to the bench, or it could mean that Kalis would play right guard over Glasgow.

Michigan held a scrimmage on Wednesday, and in addition to Kalis, three other players were held out: Devin Funchess, Drake Harris, and Delano Hill. Harris is dealing with a hamstring injury, while Hill is reportedly two to three weeks away from returning from his broken jaw. No reason was given for Funchess' absence that I could find, so let's hope upon hope that it was simply "you're Devin Funchess, and we have no need to risk you."

Multiple spots are still up for grabs. Hoke praised the scrimmage performances of Derrick Green and Drake Johnson, while saying De'Veon Smith had a slow start. On the other side of the ball, Jake Ryan is the only linebacker who's locked down a starting spot.

Jabrill Peppers "has a handle" on playing nickel, so he's now getting some work in at cornerback. Given Michigan's depth there, that sounds very positive in regards to Peppers' development.

Adam will have the full transcript up at some point, but that should hold you over for now.

Media Day Interviews: The Technicians

Media Day Interviews: The Technicians

Submitted by Ace on August 12th, 2014 at 9:15 AM


"Now everything's just slowed down for me, and it's just me, I can just play ball." — Jourdan Lewis [Photo: Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]

Michigan's 2014 roster includes six proud graduates of Detroit's Cass Tech High School, including four in the secondary alone and a fifth—Royce Jenkins-Stone, Class of 2012—also on the defensive side of the ball. Remarkably, all six are making a serious push for playing time this fall. At Media Day, I caught up with every former Technician on the team save for Delano Hill, who's recovering from a broken jaw, to discuss their current roles on the team, what it's like to be surrounded by their former high school teammates, and much more.

Highlights:

  • The defensive backs, to a man, are excited about the new aggressive playing style, as well as the level of competition at corner.
  • Terry Richardson feels physically prepared to be out there after adding "a quick 12 to 15 pounds" this offseason.
  • Delonte Hollowell was wearing a small cast on his left hand due to an injury suffered from "practicing hard, you know?" He thinks it's just a sprain.
  • Royce Jenkins-Stone says Greg Mattison "critiques the little things" more with his new charges at linebacker, and the group is better for it.
  • David Dawson, man of mystery, does not want you to know what position he's playing.
  • There's competition everywhere.
  • Every single one lit up when talking about playing with a big group of other guys from Cass Tech—they clearly share a strong bond with their former and present teammates.

Jourdan Lewis

You made a big move in the spring. Heading into the fall, Coach Hoke talked about how you're one of the top three corners. How do you feel you've progressed since last year and what are your expectations for this season in terms of your performance?

Just be aggressive. Just play good. Just keep playing how I'm doing. Just keep the intensity up though the season, pretty much.

There's been a big emphasis on aggressiveness from the cornerbacks. How do you feel that fits in with your style of play, and what's been the biggest change since last year?

It's definitely a big emphasis on being physical, that's how all of us really like to play. Just doing that, just with how we like to play, it's really suiting us. We're actually better as a whole unit.

Because of how aggressive you guys are playing, has the level of competition been raised between the cornerbacks and the receivers right now?

It's just everybody. All of us just love to compete, and it's not even like—the competition, we don't see it [that way], we just see it as "we're gonna just lock this receiver up every chance we get."

There's a bunch of Cass Tech guys on the team, and a lot of them are competing for time. What's it like to be surrounded by your high school teammates at Michigan?

It's amazing. It's amazing just knowing that you've got somebody who has your back through anything. It's really amazing. It brings everybody together, even the ones that didn't go to Cass Tech, it actually helps us all be together and help us be tight as a unit.

[Note: This is where I wrapped up my Q&A; I caught the audio of a couple questions for Lewis from The Wolverine's Chris Balas.]

How much more confident are you from year one to year two?

Confident? I was about the same, but being consistent and comfortable is a key, really. Right now that's all I'm really worried about, just being consistent and being comfortable in my technique in everything we do.

How much more comfortable are you knowing what you know now compared to what you knew a year ago?

It was way faster last year. Now everything's just slowed down for me, and it's just me, I can just play ball.

[Hit THE JUMP for interviews with Terry Richardson, DELONTE HOLLOWELL, Royce Jenkins-Stone, and David Dawson.]

Fall Camp Presser 8-8-14: Brady Hoke

Fall Camp Presser 8-8-14: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 9th, 2014 at 4:04 PM

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News bullets and other important items:

  • Blake Countess (groin) and Mario Ojemudia (ankle) were held out of practice but should return by Monday
  • Drake Harris injured his other hamstring and has been limited to doing rehab reps
  • The offensive line could change from morning practice to afternoon practice until they find a combination they like. Don’t shoot the messenger.
  • The open scrimmage on the 16th was Hoke’s idea and will feature…football. They’re going to play football.

Opening remarks:

“Thanks for coming. Number one, it’s always good to get in the pads for the first day. You know, even though you've been in short pads and helmets it was good to get out in full pads. It was good that the energy that we've had all week has been really positive, how the guys have reacted to some adversity that we put them under. Today we did a little crowd noise and certain situational football setting and you could see we've got a lot of work to do. So we'll continue to put a bunch of pressure on our team. You know, Blake [Countess], he's got a little bit of a groin so we held him out today. Mario's [Ojemudia] got a little bit of an ankle, he's in a boot, but talking to him he said that he feels better every day and I think he'll be okay. Blake and Mario, they should be by Monday ready to go so we're excited about that. We've had good practices but we've got a long way to go when you look at where we need to be.”

What would you say, in just the five days of practice, you've seen the most improvement of and where would you say 'we've got to get this better pretty quick?'

“Well, I guess the biggest thing is how they came into camp. From conditioning and all, the kind of shape we're in, to football IQ and where that's at, and that's why we’ve got to continue to put a lot of stress on them. You know, that way things become a little more reactive and automatic when you're looking at it. That's probably in how they're competing with each other, you know, we get a couple scuffles now and then, and most of that is guys just going. And they're going hard.”

Could you talk about the enthusiasm? They were jacked up at the beginning today.

“Well, they were jacked up at the beginning. It was great they were jacked up at the beginning and it was great they were jacked up at the end. I mean, you need both. You can always start fast but you've got to finish. I thought they've come out every day that way, so they've been excited about football. Obviously tomorrow we'll go two practices and that will be a little bit more challenging in some ways. I think we've got a really good plan when you look at the health and wellness and getting them off their feet and trying to get them as much sleep as we can. That's a little different than years past and I think that's a testament a little bit to how they've gone about their team business.”

About the freshman; are all of them participating?

“All of them are participating. Some of them have to leave a little early depending on what they have on the academic schedule.”

They're all qualified?

“Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yes. I didn't know you were talking about that. They're all qualified, they're all here.”

With being unsure whether Ty [Issac] is going to be given the opportunity to play or not, how do you decide how many reps to get him in case he can play or in case he doesn’t and you don’ want to take away from somebody else

“Right, right. And I think the one thing we’ve done is we are getting a ton of reps. How we practice—so there’s enough reps there. I think as we get closer, a week from now, when you start really game planning—because he really needs to take some reps to learn what the offense is.I think luckily he’s played at a Division I university and there’s a lot of similarities always but I think this has been beneficial for him and I think everyone’s kind of gotten what we need.

Would you be surprised if Devin [Gardner] wasn’t the guy in week 1?

“I would think he’s had a really good fall camp so far. You know, it’s five days. He’s right now the guy taking most of the reps with the ones but we’re splitting them up a little bit at times and if he’s not playing well, you know, Shane [Morris]—Doug’s not hesitant in practice to make that change and so they both are taking reps with the ones. Devin’s  getting the majority of them.

You talked a little bit about multiple running backs. Could you see early in the season, let’s say Devin’s the starter, trying to get Shane in there earlier than later and getting him some playing time?

“You know, we haven’t really talked about what kind of contingency plan or plan to try and get him, if he isn’t the starter, reps yet in that first game, second game, third game, fourth game, whatever it might be.”

You talked before about staying away from ‘I like this team,’ but do you have a sense of this team’s identity yet?

“No, not yet but we talk about it every day, their identity and what they want to make it. It’s things that you do repeatedly and they can be good or bad.”

And what’s the response you get?

“Well, I think from a physical standpoint it’s been real positive. I think from a competitive standpoint it’s been real positive.”

In terms of freshmen getting in the mix, Freddy [Canteen] especially…

“I think Freddy. I think Mason Cole. Mason Cole’s a good football player. I think I said that in the spring. He’s a little different than most freshmen offensive linemen in some ways. I think [Bryan] Mone, Mone’s a little different. Him being here was a big plus. Wilton Speight’s taken some good reps. Drake Harris is the other guy. He’s got a little bit of a ham, hammy, hamstring and so he’s a guy that hasn’t—he’s taken some limited reps but not like we’d like to get with him.

Was that something that he re-hurt this week?

“Yeah. He re-hurt it early in the week. Different hamstring.”

Did you guys think about shutting him down for a while?

“He has been shut down.”

You said he’s been doing limited reps…

“Limited, yeah. And most of those are rehab reps.”

You were in pads for the first time today. Do you know when you’ll have your first scrimmage?

“Yeah I do but I don’t know if I remember right now. Sometime next week, but I couldn’t tell you when it is. I kind of go by it daily.”

Blake’s injury is, you said, a groin. Is that related to the core [injury that caused him to have offseason surgery]?

“No. No, no, no. He’ll be fine.”

Is this just a brief thing with Drake here?

“You know, I’m not a doctor so it’s hard for me to really analyze that. I think it’s something that we’re very weary about. I think Coach Wellman, Strength and Conditioning—I think the rehab that we’ve done, I think Paul Schmidt and the trainers have all handled it very well. You know, is it a nagging thing? Maybe. Some people have those things so we have to think what can we do to help besides this rest and they know much better than I know.”

Who do you see mixing in besides Funchess among the wide receivers at the top spot?

“Jehu [Chesson]. Amara’s [Darboh] done well. Dennis [Norfleet] and Freddy [Canteen] right now have done a nice job. Bo Dever. Jack Wangler’s made some good plays but if I would look at that group I think Funch, Amarah, Jehu, Fleet and Canteen.”

Norfleet and Canteen are at slot?

“They’re at slot, yes.”

What kind of progress has Amara made after sitting out last year with injury?

“He really has come along real well. I think in the spring, probably the last two weeks, we could have put him in live stuff but we just decided not to. He’s done well.”

Where have you seen this week the impact of Coach Nussmeier’s new system on the offensive line?

“Well, I think there’s some things that we like more vertical. I think that the combination schemes that we want to be a little more heavy on the line of scrimmage. When you look at hands, you know, four hands on one man to initiate some movement on the line of scrimmage. I think the backs themselves, Drake Johnson, Derrick [Green] and De’Veon [Smith], they’re downhill guys so it’s punctured the line of scrimmage a little bit.

When it comes to the line right now, how do you balance moving guys around trying different things versus wanting to have one unit building cohesion playing alongside each other?

“How do you balance it? I think it can be tricky but I think it can be massaged very well. I think Darrell [Funk] has done a nice job with it and Nuss and who we’ve put in that first group and maybe that changes daily. I’m sure it will change from a morning practice to the afternoon at times until we really feel this is it with these guys. I think the competition there has been really good for us and I think they’ve come out every day very physical.”

So who was the first group today?

“Today it was Mason Cole at the left tackle position, Jack [Miller] was at the center position, Magnuson was at the left guard position for a little bit, Ben Braden was at right tackle, and the right guard was Graham [Glasgow] and David Dawson.”

Can I ask a question about the open scrimmage [on August 16th]?

“I’d love for you to.”

You talked about in the spring how you didn’t show your cards. Is this going to be the same kind of thing?

“That’s why you have to come.”

You could have opposing coaches come in, right?

“If they’re coming in during two-a-day…”

They could.

“Well, they could. Do you think they will?

Yeah, they could have a graduate assistant or somebody…

“Are you going to trust a graduate assistant right now?”

I think you were one once, right?

“Kinda.”

I don’t know your bio by heart.

“That’s okay. Yeah but what are you showing? We’re going to play football though.”

So you will keep your cards close to the vest.

“No, you said that. I didn’t say that. We’re going to play football.”

Whose idea was it?

“Mine.”

You’ve got to put this thing together pretty quickly.

“I think it’s good. You know, the more you look at pro football and for a team that’s got some youth but experience I think it’s good for them to be in front of people. Just like crowd noise today, I want as many distractions as we can get. I also think it’s great for Michigan fans because we love them.”

Do you want to invite us more to distract the players?

“No, probably not. You don’t distract them. You may distract me.”

Playing at home hasn’t been a problem. Have you considered doing a scrimmage at an away stadium?

“You know, we’ve done that. We did that when we were going to Alabama, to Texas. I thought that was really good for us. I thought it would’ve been maybe better if we could’ve opened it up and had people in Ford Field. I think that would’ve been pretty cool but that’s pretty hard to negotiate when they have their security, their event staff, all those things.”