Michigan All-Extracurriculars Team

Michigan All-Extracurriculars Team

Submitted by Seth on June 4th, 2018 at 11:22 AM
Hi it's a Norfleet. [Bryan Fuller]

[Site notice: It happened.]

You know those “make your all-time” lists that circulate in the offseason. That inspired me to make some themed versions, sort of like how Ace made his all-Beilein teams last year. Previously: The 5-stars. This week: Extracurricular Entertainment!

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Rule: This team is for those who made their contributions off the field. I don’t mean being a quiet model citizen; I mean doing things that we found entertaining, insane, or otherwise meme-worthy.

Cutoff Point: Had to exist in the Michigan consciousness during the Time of Blog (2005-present)

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Quarterback: David Cone

Please still exist please still exist please still exist DAMMIT.

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Why you gotta use MySpace, Notorious C.O.N.E.? Since stone age social media no longer hosts, former WR Toney Clemons filmed roommate/former QB David Cone in their apartment laying some sick rhymes (free mgoshirt to whoever can track down a copy of the album for us).

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Mr. Dave

Fortunately MVictors still has the audio, if the vid is gone for all time. But that video was so good.

Honorable Mention: Denard. How do you separate Brian’s kid’s name, Shoelace, the smile, Whaaaaat?!?, the cover of the last NCAA edition for a decade, and a crumpled up mailbox from the actual dilithium? You can’t, and the purpose of this list is to honor the Coners because these lists otherwise exist just for an excuse to put Denard at QB when you wouldn’t otherwise.

[after THE JUMP: bang bang]

Unverified Voracity Is In The Computer

Unverified Voracity Is In The Computer

Submitted by Brian on September 15th, 2015 at 11:33 AM

Radio mishap. Sorry to streaming listeners who ended up getting a nonstop pile of ads about halfway through the show. We don't know what happened there; we've reached out to WTKA and they say that should not recur. Podcasts should be coming, possibly tomorrow. We're still working out the kinks.

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[Eric Upchurch]

RAGE now comes with official approval. The Big Ten said "whoops" on the punt flag:

Harbaugh asked the Big Ten for an explanation on the call, and during his radio show Monday night, said the league basically offered an apology for an officiating error.

"You just want to be able to know what to tell your team, that's why we ask, that's why we inquire," Harbaugh said. "Once the punter goes outside the tackle box, you don't know if he's a runner or he's going to punt the ball. He's afforded the same protection a quarterback would be when he's outside the pocket. If he throws the ball, he can be hit like a quarterback.

"They would've rather not thrown a flag on that. ... That's what they said."

They have not as yet apologized for the various other errors this crew inflicted on Michigan: the opening-play PI against Darboh is blatant, as is a hold on James Ross that sprung one of Oregon State's big runs on their touchdown drive. Michigan got hoooooosed on Saturday and still won 35-7.

Chris Brown on Power. An excellent primer on something Michigan's going to be running a ton of for the foreseeable future:

“There is nothing magical about the Power play,” Paul Alexander, the Cincinnati Bengals’ longtime offensive line coach, said at a coaching clinic in 2012. Almost every NFL team runs Power, though some (like the Seahawks, Vikings, Steelers, and Bills) will emphasize it more than others, and it has produced some of the most dramatic plays in recent memory, including Marshawn Lynch’s infamous Beast Mode run. The idea behind Power is as old as football itself, as having an overwhelming force at the point of attack was an obvious strategy as soon as someone first picked up a football; versions of the play pop up as far back as in Michigan coach Fielding Yost’s playbook from 1905. But NFL coaches have spent the past 20 years tweaking and adjusting the play, and now the proper form is gospel.

Brown details the various responsibilities the players have. This one in particular is something De'Veon Smith had trouble with in week one:

Running back: Veteran NFL offensive line coach Mike Solari, who’s currently with the Green Bay Packers, says he prefers to tell the running back to “read the alphabet: Read from the playside A to B to C to D gaps for a running lane.” But the running back’s real key to success on Power is to let the blocking develop. “People ask me what I tell our running backs,” said Shaw at the 2013 clinic. “Mostly what we tell our running backs is [have] patience.”

He improved a considerable amount in week two.

Staples on the State of Michigan. SI's Andy Staples took in the doubleheader this weekend:

Graham Glasgow has just finished explaining the importance of pad level as it relates to play along the line of scrimmage—short version: the low man wins—when the Michigan fifth-year senior center says something telling. "I felt better in this loss," Glasgow says, "than I would after some of our wins last year."

Five days earlier, the Wolverines lost their season opener at Utah. Four days from now, Michigan will make its home debut under coach Jim Harbaugh against Oregon State. As Glasgow says those words, he stands in the Towsley Family Museum in Schembechler Hall. He is a few feet from the "Win Wall," a massive glass enclosure that, on this particular Tuesday, features a football representing each of Michigan's 915 all-time wins. In another part of the room, the words of former Michigan coach Fritz Crisler are carved into wood.

"Tradition is something you can't bottle. You can't buy it at the corner store. But it is there to sustain you when you need it most. I've called upon it time and time again. And so have countless other Michigan athletes and coaches. There is nothing like it. I hope it never dies."

Glasgow's words suggest that in 2014 Michigan's football tradition was dying.

Whole thing is worth a read.

This week in good quotes. Blake O'Neill quizzed about his modeling career:

"All sorts of things,"he said Monday at Michigan's weekly news conference. "Fashion modeling, catwalk, anything.

"I was a little budding Zoolander."

He does not have a "Blue Steel" look.

Who will I scoff at now? Texas deep-sixes Brandon 2.0:

University of Texas President Gregory L. Fenves is expected to fire embattled athletic director Steve Patterson, and the move could come this morning, a Houston-based source with knowledge of the situation told the American-Statesman.

Fenves and Patterson are meeting Tuesday morning, the Statesman learned.

It could bring an end to a tumultuous 22-month journey for the athletic department during which fans grew outraged over higher ticket prices and Patterson battled the perception that his cool demeanor simply does not fit UT’s style.

"Cool demeanor" is the nice way of saying it.

Good on Texas for dumping their version of the buzzword-spewing Emperor's New CEO after less than two years. That Patterson got himself fired after making what look to be excellent hires in both football and basketball speaks to just how hated he was by just about everyone. Justifiably. Hell, I have no connection to Texas whatsoever and I hated him because he was bad for college football, all of it.

Hopefully they've got a Hackett hanging around.

That would be a terrible idea, but on the other hand I would no longer have to listen to him relentlessly praise every coach in every situation. ("Not many coaches would feed their quarterback to an alligator at halftime, Rece, but Tim Beckman is an innovative thinker.") I approve.

Oh right. The legend:

I'm sure that will last.

Injuries and more injuries and Rutgers. Michigan's gotten through the first couple weeks of the season without anything serious happening to their players; other than Bryan Mone they're as close to completely healthy as a group of people playing football can be. This is not the case for a number of upcoming Michigan opponents.

BYU is of course down Taysom Hill and relying on freshman-ish Tanner Mangum, who was a big recruit a couple years back and is just off his Mormon mission. On the other hand, that linebacker who bingle-bangled a Boise State player right in the dingle-dangle will somehow not be suspended—nice to not have a conference sometimes. Michigan players will have to keep an eye on the family jewels.

Minnesota has a number of guys out with relatively minor issues but may have lost WR KJ Maye to a broken rib.

And then of course Rutgers. Star WR Leonte Caroo was the latest Scarlet Knight to get arrested. He's been suspended indefinitely for an "altercation" outside the stadium Saturday night that resulted in a domestic violence arrest. What exactly went down is still unclear, but if you poke around On The Banks the impression their comments give is that Rutgers insider types think it's pretty serious and we may not see Carroo for a while. Oh and they didn't list Darius Hamilton on their most recent depth chart because he has an undisclosed injury of some variety. And of course five guys got arrested for armed robbery and transferred to Michigan State before the season started.

Rutgers fans are now calling this "their darkest hour," which may be true if the history of Rutgers football started with Greg Schiano. It does not.

Speaking of Rutgers. Julie Herrmann has a job! Still! She is employed and everything! She probably has a company car and a dental plan!

Unhappy Moeller. Via Dr. Sap:

How the Norfleet thing went down. Via the man himself:

“To be honest, everything caught me off-guard,” Norfleet said. “It just happened. (Harbaugh and I) weren’t seeing eye to eye. Nothing real big. We had disagreements but nothing serious. He thought I was going to be ineligible, and I wasn’t. He is real big on academics. That’s one thing I can say about Jim Harbaugh — he’s going to make sure these players are going to class.”

Norfleet said Harbaugh never told him he wanted him on the team.

“I never got that at all,” Norfleet said. “The only thing I got was, come back a semester to get a degree. Not play football. He wanted me to use my scholarship. I still love Michigan, though, as a whole. Sometimes, you’ve got to move on.”

Unfortunate all around, but it seems like Michigan was willing to have him around even if he wasn't going to play. That seems to have smoothed over things with Detroit King.

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whoops

It's not a crisis if you complain about it every year and things are just fine. The only person more prone to complain about spread offenses than NFL scouts and coaches is Gary Danielson, and the arguments the NFL has are about as good as Danielson's:

…if current trends continue, NFL insiders say, quarterbacks who have the sophistication to outfox NFL defenses to deliver the ball to open receivers are “going to be on the endangered species list,” said Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine. “The quarterback may not be gone yet,” he added, “but if you have one, protect it.”

“It’s doomsday if we don’t adapt and evolve,” said St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead.

These people are just in charge of things for no reason and should be given the Patterson/Brandon treatment. Half of the top ten rookie QB seasons in NFL history have come since 2011. Those five seasons came from Robert Griffin, Russell Wilson, Teddy Bridgewater, Cam Newton, and Mike Glennon. Three of those guys came from out-and-out spread offenses. After one game Marcus Mariota looks set to join them.

I mean:

A parade of general managers, like Pittsburgh’s Kevin Colbert, think that if the current model holds, the notion of drafting a quarterback to start right away will need to be scrapped.

And:

Cleveland’s Farmer has one idea: What if you could design an offense to minimize the passing deficiencies of modern quarterback prospects?

WHAT WOULD THAT EVEN LOOK LIKE?

Etc.: Mike Riley literally has his team yelling "hip hip hooray" after games. Flanders, the coach. Local news talking with El Harberino. Jake Lourim with a longform on ECA, Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson's school. Wide pin down. Harbaugh profile (autoplaying audio warning). SMH NCAA. UNLV is not good. Holdin' The Rope.

Exeunt Dennis Norfleet

Exeunt Dennis Norfleet

Submitted by Seth on August 12th, 2015 at 11:45 AM

For a time he danced.

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with bread

But he will not return.

As previously reported, Norfleet is gone-gone. Despite him telling his former teammates he'll miss them on Instagram and every insider-y thing saying it was already a foregone conclusion, some of us held out hope for as long as it took the coaches to say it was official. Michigan posting a fall roster without him on it was more confirmation. Tuskegee publishing a roster with him on it means it's time to give up the ghost.

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Michigan enters fall camp with 2 or 3 open scholarships for this year, depending on whether you count the long snapper. Norfleet would not have affected next year's numbers.

I am sad.

Unverified Voracity Says Something Nice About Steve Patterson

Unverified Voracity Says Something Nice About Steve Patterson

Submitted by Brian on July 29th, 2015 at 11:47 AM

Have a middle-schooler? I mean in a parenting way, not a hostage way. Don't take child hostages. I shouldn't have to tell my readers this but some of you probably tweet recruits, so you have to be told everything.

Anyway, Jordan Morgan's having a camp for seventh and eighth graders:

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Details and registration at Morgan's website. Don't tweet at recruits or take child hostages.

Photo day, 1993. Featuring hirsute Eli Zaret.

Via Dr. Sap, naturally.

How are watchlists going, then? Like this.

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"Spotlights."

Yes, but interesting since it's this guy. Disney CEO on the future of ESPN, which it owns:

“I think eventually ESPN becomes a business that is sold directly to the consumers,” Mr. Iger said.

ESPN, which is majority-owned by Disney, could use information from that direct consumer relationship to customize its product and enable more personalization, which will engage fans in a “much more effective way,” he said.

Mr. Iger cautioned that such an offering is not “right around the corner”; even five years down the line, he believes there won’t have been “significant change” in the pay TV business.

Except in scale, which will continue to contract as more and more people who don't care about sports figure out they couldn't get through their Netflix queue without turning into a TV hermit.

But you're a robot. Nick Saban on romance:

I have no idea what to do with this. So I have given it to you, to boggle and gawk at.

Some confirmation. There was a report on the board a few days ago that Dennis Norfleet would be seeking a transfer to Tuskegee. We couldn't confirm it on any open social media channels, but it was a weird enough location that it seemed true. And it appears he's at least exploring the possibility:

A spokesman at Tuskegee University told MLive on Monday afternoon that the university received official permission to speak with Norfleet about a potential transfer to the school over the weekend.

I'll be here by the seaside waiting for a return that will never come.

Further adventures in Steve Patterson. They include being so cheap that one of your football assistant coaches ends up having a trial during football season, but this is the moment when Michael Scott goes to a customer and kills it:

Patterson says he believes he knew what [Jimmy] Sexton was up to. “I’ve known Jimmy for 30 years,” he says. “I told him if he wanted to come here and drink bourbon and eat barbecue and talk about Saban, that’d be fine. But I told him not to come here if he just wanted to get Saban an extension and a raise at Alabama, which I thought was his intention all along.

“Of course, Jimmy took great affront to that, which is fine. He was just doing his job. But that was the end of the conversation. I never talked to Saban and we never made an offer.”

Correct, Steve Patterson. It's especially impressive since the rest of the article is filled with star-struck Longhorns thinking "THIS IS TEXAS" and believing Jimmy Sexton's crap about how there's too much pressure to win at Alabama. People lost their damn minds when Sexton came around with his old song and dance. 

Well done not screwing around with that and locking down Charlie Strong, Steve Patterson. Not well done: everything else.

This is a reason Hoosiers is good. I agree with Rodger Sherman that Famous Movie Hoosiers hasn't aged well, especially when the integrated team shows up, but I mean come on:

Gene Hackman plays the role of Norman Dale, the down-on-his-luck coach that we're supposed to be sympathetic towards. We find out that he used to coach in college, then was in the Navy. Then later, we find out that the reason he got fired from his college job is because... he hit a kid.

At the beginning of the movie, it's tough to find out why we should like Dale. He's not presented as funny or likable or charismatic or even nice.

Then, we find out that he punched one of his players, and he goes from a mediocre guy I don't care about to somebody I strongly dislike. Dale was an authority figure who used physical force against a person he was supposed to protect and nurture, which in my opinion is the least sympathetic type of person in the world.

I kind of think this should be a one-strike-and-you're-out deal. If you don't have the self-control to avoid hitting kids, you shouldn't be allowed to coach kids anymore, ever. I want this person to fail and think the people of Hickory are bad people for letting this person coach their children.

A lot of times, a character with obvious flaws redeems those flaws over the course of a movie. But Dale never conquers his anger issues, consistently putting his assistant coaches -- one of whom has a heart disease, one of whom is an alcoholic attempting to recover, both of which are types of people who shouldn't be subjected to unnecessary, sudden amounts of stress -- in charge.

Dale is presented as a jerk and remains a jerk all film long. Are we supposed to be proud that all he did was yell at the players and refs and didn't actually hit anybody?

That the head coach and pretty-much main character in the movie is a nearly unredeemed jerko is probably historically accurate. It is also a more accurate representation of life—people don't change much—than any of the Angels In The "Lidz" Store movies that Sherman apparently keeps in a constant rotation at SB Nation headquarters.

This impression only grows stronger because Sherman's next criticism is that there is no montage scene where all the players decide they're going to honor their dead grandmothers and/or General MacArthur. Hoosiers is not The Mighty Ducks. This is not a problem.

That's nice. I wish this wasn't coming from the most infamous basketball reporting twitterer of all time (OF ALL TIME) but I'll take it:

3. Which program will emerge as a potential Top 10 team?

Michigan. … John Beilein's team is a bit of an afterthought heading into next season. It won't stay that way for long. Walton, LeVert, Spike Albrecht, and Zak Irvin (77 made 3-point shots last season) give this team a savvy and experienced perimeter while both Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman got valuable minutes last season as freshman. Ricky Doyle, D.J. Wilson, and Mark Donnal should stabilize the post and if the Wolverines can get more out of the “stretch four” position they should be loaded for bear.

It should be a fun year for a lot of reasons. Probably not hockey-related ones.

Too soon. Toys R Us appears headed to bankruptcy, or at best a near miss:

Insurance companies are cutting back on their coverage of Toys “R” Us Inc. suppliers, bringing another headache to a retailer that has suffered more than two years of losses, people familiar with the matter said.

Coface SA and Euler Hermes Group, which sell credit insurance to vendors, are canceling some policies and declining to renew others, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process isn’t public. The carriers may still negotiate with some vendors to keep providing some coverage, one of the people said.

Losing coverage could raise concerns for toy suppliers as they weigh the risks of shipping to the retail chain, which scrapped plans for an initial public offering in 2013. Credit insurance protects suppliers in case a retailer fails to pay them for merchandise, as in the event of a bankruptcy.

Unfortunately this is too early to point the finger at Dave Brandon and scream "j'accuse!" It does seem like he was brought into an insoluble situation to take the fall, which is a nice karma thing.

Really. I'm typing this blind since my eyeballs have rolled so far back in my head that you can touch my optical nerve:

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Don't touch my optical nerve, or take child hostages, or tweet recruits, or let Rutgers in the Big Ten.

Etc.: Wolverine Historian updates his A-Train tribute. Piesman Trophy is go. Bowl games don't spring teams to better seasons. Talking with John Wangler. Talking with Tyler Motte. BRING YOUR CHAMPIONS. Michigan-shaped biscuits? I'm listening. IS MY WIFE THOUGH?

Tickets, hotcakes.

Dale Harvel Isn't Helping Dennis Norfleet

Dale Harvel Isn't Helping Dennis Norfleet

Submitted by Brian on May 13th, 2015 at 12:42 PM

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[Adam Glanzman]

Dennis Norfleet's murky situation has blown up into the first real PR crisis of the Harbaugh administration. Unfortunately for Michigan, it's one they're legally prohibited from saying much of anything about. FERPA restricts their ability to say much other than "he is on the team" or "he is off the team." Right now Michigan isn't saying either. They've gone with this:

A Michigan athletic department spokesman told The Detroit News that the situation was "an internal matter."

All right then.

As a result all the talking is coming from Norfleet's high school coaches. One seems like a reasonable gentleman. The other is showing his ass. Here's King head coach Dale Harvel:

Harvel added about Norfleet's situation: "If only one kid out of 120 is missing class, they must be the No. 1 program in the country (for football players' academic achievements)."

Harvel has repeatedly said things like "we're not going to let him be a victim," outed private conversations he had with Fred Jackson, publicly bemoaned his decision to switch away from a Cincinnati program on the verge of hiring Tommy Tuberville, and generally done everything in his power to make academic standards like "go to all your finals" seem nefarious. Usually when high school coaches blow up like this it's because their kid has seen his scholarship yanked for a dubious reason, or none at all. 

It was Harvel who leaked the apparently erroneous information that Norfleet was gone, which turned the story from message board rumor* to something that every local news organization has dedicated big stories to. It was Harvel who went full steam ahead with the information that Norfleet was not doing things expected of him in the classroom. He is the #1 reason this is a thing. Because Norfleet is a "victim."

I mean, you know me. I just about challenged Brady Hoke to a fight about Norfleet's misuse during his tenure as head coach. But if Norfleet is no longer on the team because he missed several classes and did not attend at least one and possibly more finals, that is on one person: Dennis Norfleet.

And Jim Harbaugh cannot be concerned with just Norfleet here. It's his first semester as head coach and he's just going to let that slide? What kind of message does that send to the other 84 kids on scholarship? Is that likely to improve or degrade the overall academic performance of the program?

The answers to those rhetorical questions are obvious to everyone except Harvel. Privately resolving issues with the head coach—and there have been a number so far that have been so resolved—is more likely to create a positive outcome both in the short-term individual player level and for your relationship with a major school of interest to your players. But Harvel has decided that grandstanding without information that is, you know, correct is more important.

I hope Norfleet makes it back. His coach isn't helping.

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*[Albeit one that was more credible than your garden-variety internet rando mutterings since it had the backing of John Borton, an editor at Rivals. It is not hard to trace the path here: Borton names Norfleet, Nick Baumgardner starts checking it out, hits upon the King coaches, and then the tempest takes over the teapot. This is why I don't report on potential transfers anymore. I would rather not spend a week with my head in an alligator's mouth, thanks.]

Norfleet Not Actually Gone

Norfleet Not Actually Gone

Submitted by Brian on May 13th, 2015 at 10:20 AM

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[Bryan Fuller]

Via Sam Webb this morning:

Contrary to multiple published reports citing comments for Norfleet’s high school coach, Detroit King headman Dale Harvel, the senior kick/punt returner has not been dismissed from the football team….

“He has been suspended for the past three weeks,” the source said.

He may or may not make it back.

A Detroit King assistant did tweet out something about trying to get Norfleet to graduate. That seemed to imply that Norfleet could be up for a graduate transfer; it also implies that if there's any damage to his transcript it's not so far gone that he's doomed.

Exit Dennis Norfleet

Exit Dennis Norfleet

Submitted by Brian on May 12th, 2015 at 1:23 PM

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the last of the famous international playboys

This rumor had been floating around for a couple weeks now, picked up steam on Rivals this morning, and has now been confirmed by Nick Baumgardner:

ANN ARBOR -- Dennis Norfleet is no longer a part of Michigan's football team, according to his former high school coach.

Martin Luther King High School football coach Dale Harvel told MLive on Tuesday that Norfleet has been dismissed from Michigan's program by coach Jim Harbaugh.

"Evidently he was dismissed from the team, Dennis informed us he was no longer on the team," Harvel said Tuesday afternoon. "Something about a disciplinary thing between him and coach Harbaugh. Whether it was academics or something internal, I'm not sure. He just said they had a disagreement and he was let go."

I have heard it was academic. Not sure if that's a slackness that is now verboten under the new regime or a Norfleet morale issue leading to breakdowns elsewhere. [UPDATE: Steve Lorenz says he skipped "more than one final."]

The writing was on the wall as far as Norfleet's career went when he featured as a tiny cornerback in the spring game and was mercilessly picked on for the only offense of the day. With that secondary and that WR corps, the fact he was on defense was a death knell. He may have continued returning kicks and punts; even that job was going to be put under major threat by Jabrill Peppers.

This does get Michigan to 85 scholarships, give or take a walk-on. With a couple of medical hardships likely to be on the way, there should be room to add a fifth-year WR or two, as Mike Spath has suggested might happen.

I will now go sit by myself in a dark room and listen to the Smiths.

This Week's Obsession: Spring Stock Watch

This Week's Obsession: Spring Stock Watch

Submitted by Seth on April 8th, 2015 at 3:30 PM

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I say we call him "Quick Burst, Mo Hurts." Nobody is on board with me on this. [Fuller]

    The Question:
    Seth: After the spring game which player are you bullish on, and which are you hedging?

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The Responses:

Ace: Brian and I did a segment on this during the podcast, so I'll keep this relatively brief. (That's called a teaser, folks.)

MAURICE HURST had arguably the best performance of anyone during the spring game, lining up at multiple spots and blowing up plays at all of them. His first step, which was his greatest strength coming out of high school, is still very quick after adding weight, and he looks very ready to see a significant role this fall.

Given that some practice reports had him as a potential starter, it's hard not to be a little disappointed in Logan Tuley-Tillman's showing, which featured three flags and a couple olés. He was a major project coming of high school, to the point that this year was the earliest he could feasibly see the field, so it's not a devastating blow that he doesn't look ready yet. He has so much upside, though, that it would've been really encouraging to see him push into that starting five.

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Adam Schnepp: I was looking for a weakness. There had to be one; the practice reports had practically reached tall-tale status, but now I see why. It almost feels like I need to pick someone else because this is too easy, but I'm bullish on JABRILL PEPPERS. I know that we've been bullish on him since last August, but now it's like Raging Bull(ishness). Except not about boxing. Or self-destruction. I was really just going for the bull imagery here.

As a hybrid space player, Peppers is going to have to read run/pass and react immediately. On the Blue offense's first play Peppers peers into the backfield, reads the handoff from Morris, and comes off the edge to take out Shallman, limiting him to a one-yard gain.

While his run stopping was adequate for an HSP, I was more impressed with Peppers' coverage skills. He played almost exclusively with a seven-yard cushion and not only was able to jam guys who had already built up a head of steam but consistently re-routed them to the side he had a help defender. I can't find a good example of this on the video thanks to BTN's zoom-o-matic cameras, but Ace can confirm that if I tweeted the above as many times as I said it to him you'd all either unfollow me or think I accidentally set up a scheduled tweet.

I'm hedging on BRIAN COLE. It's important, however, to delineate "hedging" as separate from "disappointed with." It's hard to judge a receiver when they aren't targeted often, and doubly so as the offense's predilection for two- and three-wide sets often left Cole on the sideline. I expected him to compete for time with the known commodities; I did not expect him to have the same number of receptions and receiving yards as 5-9 walk-on fullback Joe Beneducci. I wouldn't rule him out as a contributor in the fall*, but I expected the ball to be thrown his way more often last Saturday.

*(I don't think any of the receivers have locked down a spot with the exception of maybe Darboh, who was lined up against a dude who'd been a corner for maybe four practices.)

[Jump for the defensive backs are gonna be good, even if the passing game makes them look so.]

Spring Stuff, 2015: Offense

Spring Stuff, 2015: Offense

Submitted by Brian on April 6th, 2015 at 1:43 PM

Podcast? Yes. We couldn't record it yesterday because of Easter obligations. We will tape it this evening. It should go up tomorrow.

Missed it? It's on the tubes.

Ours got more attention than normal because it was so early.

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The Michigan offense in one picture [Patrick Barron]

Rome was not rebuilt from atomized dust in a day. It was not good, obviously. People will tell you that the defense is supposed to be in front of the offense at this juncture… but not that far in front. When they say that they mean something like "it was a little ugly and they only ran for like three yards a carry." They mean that the final score was 17-10 or thereabouts.

They do not mean that the only offense of the day will be Amara Darboh catching fades against Poor Damn Dennis Norfleet, a 5'7" guy who hadn't played defense in college until being tested there this spring. The overall feel was reminiscent of the legendarily terrible 2008 spring game, which I didn't even go to because it was held at a high school to facilitate Michigan Stadium's renovations and still remember as the first "oh shiiiii" moment in the Rodriguez era.

To some extent this was all expected. Michigan fans have been debating between a true freshman, a guy who had 3.2 YPA last year, and a redshirt freshman who did not play. They were going up against a defense that has been pretty good the last couple years (until collapsing in exhaustion at the end of games). It was never going to be pretty.

But did it have to be that ugly? Bler!

Quarterbacks: come on down Joliet Jake. Morris was anointed the #1 QB coming out of spring by none other than Harbaugh himself, and that seemed about right after the spring game. That it did so after Morris went 11 of 24 for 5.6 YPA would have me purchasing bags of dehydrated food, water purifiers, and shotguns if not for the 99% official transfer of Iowa starter Jake Rudock to Michigan. Rudock may not be a conquering hero… but he will probably feel like one.

Malzone, the great (if vague) hope going into spring, did not look ready to challenge for the throne. I'm not on board with the arm strength complaints just yet, as those seemed to be generated by a wide receiver screen Lewis tried to jump but did not, giving up a first down on 2nd and 19 (in this game the equivalent of 2nd and Canada).

I may come around in the near future. The constant short stuff was disappointing: even his attempt at a game-saving two minute drill featured five yard hitch after five yard hitch. He did have one nice dart downfield that Chase Winovich dropped…

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a linebacker linebacks even when he tight ends [Bryan Fuller]

…but that stands out as just about the only attempt Malzone made to get the ball down the field. There were a lot of doomed WR screens in there. And that two minute drill… oy. They got about 20 yards before time ran out. This is a tradition I would like to leave in the past.

One thing I'll say in Morris's favor. He's got that fade down pat. One got intercepted because Darboh didn't wall off and extend away from a defensive back and a couple more got dropped; the rest save one were completions, and I think Morris ended up leaving that one short because he got hit. The rest were on the money, in that space outside the numbers and inside the sideline where the receiver has space to play with and can detach from the DB.

That's a good location to have down, by the way. It's tough to throw and thus tough to get to for a lot of defenses. Deep outs, smash routes, corners, and those fades all end up in that general area. It's the location on the field that is the reason NFL teams go cuckoo for cocoa puffs when they find a Mallett type. Morris can buy himself a lot of leeway if that throw is as consistently accurate as it felt like on Saturday.

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a lot of this [Eric Upchurch]

Run game: I don't know. Ty Isaac was all but out (he's credited for one carry I don't remember), so the Malzone team's tailback was Wyatt Shallman (12 carries, 22 yards) with spot duty from Ross Taylor-Douglas*. Shallman is more of an H-back in college and it showed.

Meanwhile, both Ace and I assumed that Derrick Green had been mostly held out with an injury of his own only to find out that he and De'Veon Smith apparently split carries down the middle. It's just that Green's 7 went for 8 yards and Smith's 7 went for 50.

Smith had a sequence early in the second half where he ran tough and his offense started getting some actual time on the field. That ended with a fumbled exchange, because of course it did. Smith never fumbled in high school and hasn't done so in college yet so that issue is probably a freshman-QB thing more than anything Smith did wrong.

If Michigan knew Isaac was going to be limited they should have swapped Green over to the Blue team to get a better feel for the competition between those guys. Either way it was a good day for Drake Johnson.

*[who has now completed his tour of all the positions you can play on a football field and can turn in his punch card for a free bag of Combos.]

The one good run. Cole gets a good push on Henry, Kugler seals away, RJS and AJ Williams battle to a stalemate, Cole gets to the second level, and Smith makes a nice out-in cut to put the other linebacker on the wrong side of the hole:

gif via Ace

If Michigan develops holes on the regular I think Smith has an advantage because his ability to grind out another two or three yards will be valuable in the Harbaughffense.

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L to R: back, under threat, trying out [Bryan Fuller]

OL depth chart hints. Glasgow was back and playing center as if he had not violated his probation; the program said he'd gotten through whatever punishment the program had deployed for him. If he keeps his nose clean that should clear him to resume playing center this fall.

Meanwhile Michigan tried out Logan Tuley-Tillman as the left tackle on the blue team, bumping Ben Braden inside to guard. LTT picked up three legit holding calls; even so that implies that he's getting a serious look and Braden may move or lose his job. Erik Magnuson playing right tackle for the Maize team is another indication that the tackle jobs are not secure.

A scholarship guy who might be looking at some writing on the wall is Dan Samuelson, who was healthy enough to make the roster but IIRC did not play much, if at all. With a couple walk-ons seemingly ahead of them they might be down for the count. Bars (who I omitted from the rosters post by accident did play, at guard:

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He is 62 next to Kugler [Fuller]

If you made me guess right now I'd say that Erik Magnuson is Michigan's starting right tackle this fall and that guard slot opened up by the various line shifts is the most heated competition out there. But that's firmly in wild guess territory.

Wide receivers: do we have a problem? There were a number of ugly drops, none more so than Jaron Dukes batting a ball in his facemask directly skyward for an interception. Morris zinged it with unnecessary force, yes. That's still a worst case scenario for a receiver. Dukes had another sorta drop later and doesn't seem like he'll be pushing past the established guys this year.

Elsewhere: Darboh had a drop and a fade wrested away from him but recovered late to be the Blue team offense. Going up against Dennis Norfleet significantly compromises that accomplishment, especially since most of the plays were "throw it over that guy's head," but Darboh did display strong hands and an ability to track the ball in flight in a difficult situation. Some people can do that (Junior Hemingway), and some cannot (Darryl Stonum). Darboh is in the former category. Can he get separation from the likes of Jourdan Lewis? I don't know—one downside of this format.

Receivers other than Dukes and Darboh were playing with Malzone and barely got targeted on anything notable. This year's spring hype machine, Brian Cole, was not a factor until deep into the second half; Freddy Canteen made a couple of nice catches on balls outside the frame of his body. There was not a whole lot else to talk about.

There was a notable lack of separation for receivers going up against actual defensive backs. That could be bad; it could be an indicator that the secondary is going to be as lights out as we all hope. As per usual, we'll find out abruptly in fall.

Poor Damn Norfleet. In the aftermath Harbaugh talked Norfleet up as a guy who could contribute in all three phases. Nope. The act of moving a guy his size to cornerback is waving a white flag on his career.

I mean… maybe not. Harbaugh is weird and one of the specific ways in which he is weird is his predilection for flipping guys from one side of the ball to the other. This could be a Harbaugh whim that doesn't mean much about playing time down the line. But it probably means that Norfleet is kaput. We'll always have that punt return touchdown to seal the Maryland game inane irrelevant block in the back by someone far away from you.

BEARD. This is not Elliott, right? This is some other spectacular beard just hanging out on the sideline?

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[Barron]

This is one Brady Hoke tradition I'm glad we're keeping.

Spring Game Presser 4-4-15: Jim Harbaugh

Spring Game Presser 4-4-15: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on April 5th, 2015 at 11:59 AM

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He tries to sic these guys on you if you ask a dumb question [Eric Upchurch]

News bullets and other items:

  • Shane Morris is ahead of the other quarterbacks, though Harbaugh said the competition will “rage on”
  • Harbaugh liked the way the defense performed, singling out the secondary and inside pass rush. He also thought Shane Morris and Amara Darboh did a nice job.
  • He said there’s room for improvement in receivers learning to catch contested balls, the running game as a whole, and outside pass rushing.
  • Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr had a large part in designing the trick plays; Harbaugh said he was hands-off in that process
  • Harbaugh said the legal system has as much hanging over Graham Glasgow’s head as is possible, noting that it’s more than what the football program could do; it sounds like he won’t be suspended if there are no further incidents.
  • Players with long-term injuries noted were Joe Hewlett (unspecified), Mike McCray (surgery, not sure for what), and Michael Wroblewski (ACL).
  • Dennis Norfleet may play on offense, defense, and special teams in the fall

Your general takeaways from today? What did you like, what maybe obviously needs work still?

“Liked a lot of things. Mainly [the] thing I liked the most is we played a 40-minute game and there was no injuries that I could tell, none at least that aren’t the you-don’t-come-back-from-soon type, so I’m most pleased with that.

“There’s, uh, there’s- obviously the defense played extremely well. There’s been a lot of improvement in our secondary; that showed up again today. And pass rush, uh, pass rush is improving. Got some rush and push from our inside guys and we’ll continue to try and get the outside pass rush. That’s an area that we want to improve, especially when it’s a four-man rush, to be able to get pressure on the quarterback just with the four.

“I thought Shane Morris did a nice job. Amara Darboh made some nice catches and that’s an area that we need to keep working on, receivers that can make the catch when it’s contested, make the tough catch.

“Running game at times was okay. You know it’s not going to be real good in a spring game especially with the format that we had which was a draft, so offensive linemen are playing in different combinations than they’re used to. But overall we had the one fumble, we had the two turnovers, and with the interceptions but quarterback play I thought was good. Multiple errors [but] I thought it was good.

“To sum it all up I’m most pleased there weren’t any serious injuries today. Come out healthy, and that’ll propel us into April and May.”

I know it was just a spring game but for you to be back inside the Big House, what was it like for you personally?

“It was good. It was a great turnout, I thought. I mean, that’s a hundred-thousand-and-ten people seat stadium and to see that many seats filled was great. It really means a lot. Much appreciated. I know our players appreciate that, the turnout for the 2015 spring game. Added to it, you know. Really added to the atmosphere. Made it like a game. [I] don’t think of it just as a spring game, think of it as a game, and I know that our players had those feelings, those emotions of it being a game before the game and until they took their first hits so that’s something that’ll bode well for us.”

You had several players that were missing from the game: Taco Charlton, Mario Ojemudia, [Ondre] Pipkins. Are any of those long-term concerns or were they just players that were banged up?

“Yeah, we had multiple players that are working through something right now.”

Are any of them long-term, though?

“I’m not a doctor.”

/smirks

“I did not get my medical degree at the University of Michigan.”

[After THE JUMP: Talkin’ about the ol’ depth chart]