Credible Rumor: Desmond Morgan Out With Arm Injury

Credible Rumor: Desmond Morgan Out With Arm Injury

Submitted by Brian on September 2nd, 2014 at 2:44 PM

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Not like this [Bryan Fuller]

This is still in the not-gospel category but it looks like Desmond Morgan is going to be on the shelf a while.

This morning, the internet started rumoring about a linebacker out injured. This was vaguely confirmed (no name, no timetable) by Sam Webb. Now there are reports that Desmond Morgan has been spotted on campus with a cast on one arm. This confirms a report from our message board that I think is legit; I've followed up with the poster to get more detail.

Someone is hurt, and two different reports that it's Morgan, one eyewitness. I expect that he will be out for a bit; six weeks is the internet timetable, but I wouldn't put a ton of stock in that.

In Morgan's absence expect to see more James Ross. ND's offensive scheme will put Michigan in the nickel for most snaps, all but eliminating the WLB spot that Ross and RJS are occupying at the moment. Ross got some time at ILB against App State when Mattison was displeased with the starters. Michigan is going to need an option there if either starter doesn't live up to offseason hype.

Of No Importance Whatsoever

Of No Importance Whatsoever

Submitted by Brian on September 1st, 2014 at 12:21 PM

8/30/2014 – Michigan 52, Appalachian State 14 – 1-0

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NOBODY TOLD US WE WERE SUPPOSED TO GO THAT WAY LAST YEAR [Fuller]

I watched a lot of football on Saturday. I did not watch Magnolia because my then-girlfriend and current wife thought that her coping mechanism for sadness, which is apparently suffusing yourself in it until your fingers look like you've been in a pool of despair for hours, was applicable to humans. I mean:

200_s[1]

That's what I did seven years ago. I had to turn it off because Magnolia is a movie that is unrelentingly miserable. I did not need additional resources in this department at that time.

I didn't turn anything off on Saturday. I watched twelve hours of football after getting back from Michigan Stadium. The only mention of Michigan's game before insomniac time was one dismissive sentence from Rece Davis, something about how there will not be "another seminal college football moment" this weekend. They didn't even take the opportunity to put gratuitous Funchess on the screen.

The only difference between this game and Michigan's opening-weekend romp over CMU last year: a nation's hope Michigan would blow it again. Once it became clear this would not be the case, a nation forgot the game happened before it had even ended. This was the best possible outcome.

So 1) hooray for the best possible outcome and 2) don't let that change your opinion about whether this was the dumbest scheduling decision in the history of scheduling decisions. The nation knew this about Michigan before Saturday: lol Appalachian State. This is what they know today: lol Appalachian State. On College Football Final their brief treatment of the game gave more time to 2007 than 2013. We are experiencing the maximum possible upside from this game, which is everyone immediately forgetting about it like Michigan was thumping a MAC opponent.

And thank God for that. Michigan eased out to a 21 point lead, and then it was suddenly 42, and at no point did Appalachian State look anything like a secret powerhouse; at no point did Michigan look so utterly clueless that they might blow their immense physical advantages. At no point did I wish I had a cyanide capsule handy.

So: hooray.

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

The one thing worth noting here is that Michigan does seem prepared to deal with the football reality of 2014. Greg Mattison's defense played in the face of the opposition all game long, featuring nickel and dime packages frequently. They shot a safety into the box on most plays. They've got the personnel they need to deal with the spread. Possibly two at once.

Contrast this to 2007, when Johnny Sears started at cornerback in the Horror, with a patently unprepared Stevie Brown at safety. The linebackers available outside of Shawn Crable were Obi Ezeh, Chris Graham, and John Thompson. Michigan spent the entire day with two safeties twelve yards deep like they were playing Peyton Manning, and were surprised when the numbers didn't work out. Their linebackers were two-down thumpers for whom space is a cold vacuum in which death awaits. They barely had one cornerback, let alone a chorus line of them.

A big chunk of my spread zealotry has been the fact that Michigan has made it look unstoppable from the drop. They validated the entire idea against Northwestern and set their program on fire in the Horror and the Post-Apocalyptic Oregon game that followed. Put a running quarterback in front of them and they will die explosively. It's happened far too often the last 15 years for it to be a coincidence.

My primary worry about Brady Hoke is that he's stuck on a vision of 1990s Michigan in a world that's evolved past that. There was no sign of that Saturday. The defense's radical makeover paired with what was not the cram-the-box cro-magnon ball it certainly could have been against this opponent felt a tiny bit like John Beilein overhauling his program to be a man-defense, ball-screen offense juggernaut.

I'm not looking for a juggernaut this year. This is the punch-the-cow-for-butter year in which any yellow semi-solid will do. I proclaim this semi-solid yellow, and thank God for that.

Now let us immediately forget this game ever happened, like everyone else.

Highlights

Parkinggod's usual Michigan-centric one:

And if ten minutes isn't enough here are 20:

Also a guy noticed an eerie parallel between Blake Countess's LOS stick and one from Charles Woodson:

Awards

brady-hoke-epic-double-point_thumb_31[2]Brady Hoke Epic Double Points Of The Week. Yes, points. We're moving this to a hockey-like three stars system.

Michigan racked up 350 first half yards while holding App St to 60 en route to a 35-0 first half lead, so there are many, many candidates. It says here that Devin Funchess gets #1, because good Lord that is an unstoppable freak show.

#2 is Devin Gardner, who was on point with every throw except one, flashed that athletic ability, and stepped up (up!) in the pocket when suffering edge pressure

#3 is split between Kyle Kalis and Ben Braden. Michigan started gashing App St when Kalis replaced Joey Burzynski, with big runs repeatedly coming over the right side of the line.

Honorable mention: Basically the entire defense. There were no particular standouts, though.

Epic Double Point Standings.

3: Devin Funchess (#1, APP)
2: Devin Gardner (#2, APP)
0.5: Kyle Kalis (T3, APP), Ben Braden (T3, APP)

Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week.

For the single individual best moment.

Michigan had gotten a couple of solid 10-20 yard runs from Smith and Green already when Green took the snap on an outside zone and shot downfield untouched by man or beast until 60 yards had elapsed. Runs. We may have them.

Honorable mention: They threw a screen to Norfleet! Any of the variously unstoppable Funchess touchdowns. Hellacious Stiffarm wins by a nose over LOL I'm Tall. Tacosack, hopefully the awesome thumping cousin of Tacopants.

Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.

AppSt: Derrick Green rumbles for 60 yards.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK. That one time Devin Gardner threw way behind a blitheringly open Devin Funchess to prevent him from going 14/14.

Honorable mention: That one drive where the Mountaineers drove the ball on the ground against the second team.

PREVIOUS EPBs

AppSt: Devin Gardner dares to throw an incomplete pass.

[After the JUMP: Funchess! Holes! Teddy KGB!]

Preview 2014: Linebacker

Preview 2014: Linebacker

Submitted by Brian on August 28th, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Previously: Podcast 6.0. The Story. Quarterback. Running back. Wide Receiver. Tight End And Friends. Offensive Line. Defensive End. Defensive Tackle.

Depth Chart
STRONGSIDE  LB Yr. MIDDLE LB Yr. WEAKSIDE LB Yr.
James Ross Jr. Jake Ryan Sr.* Joe Bolden Jr.
Royce Jenkins-Stone Jr. Desmond Morgan Sr. Desmond Morgan Sr.
Allen Gant So.* Mike McCray Fr.* Ben Gedeon So.

Despite the move to a 4-3 over we're going to keep the convention we've had in previous years where two of the linebackers are designated "inside" and addressed together while the third gets separate mention. In both cases the WLB and the MLB are designated "inside" and the strongside backer is addressed separately. In the under it's because the SAM is half DE; in the over it's because he's half DB.

Michigan returns their entire linebacking corps save backup-ish SAM Cam Gordon, and they now have a healthy Jake Ryan instead of one fresh off an ACL tear midseason. This is good. Better still is their depth: no freshmen on this three-deep and one guy getting praised to the moon when a very solid returning starter is available. If the DL improves these guys are going to seem shockingly better.

There's just that thing about moving that guy to a place…

INSIDE LINEBACKER: CONAN IN A STRANGE LAND

RATING: 4.5

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please be this guy again somehow [Eric Upchurch]

Man, I do now know what to expect from JAKE RYAN this year. He was every bit the flaming meteorite your memory suggests he was in 2012. We've been talking up Willie Henry and Frank Clark based on UFR scores that were consistently positive and encouraging. Make no mistake, though: those are not star-level performances. Jake Ryan's 2012 is the last time a member of the Michigan front seven turned one of those in:

Opponent + - TOT Notes
Alabama 4.5 3.5 1 I may have not picked up some things he was doing that were bad.
Air Force 13 2.5 10.5 Ran up the score with +4 on final three plays. Option blame fell elsewhere.
UMass 8.5 - 8.5 Essentially a DE in this game.
Notre Dame 8.5 3 5.5 Great tackle on screen.
Purdue 10 - 10 I call him mini Clay Matthews.
Illinois 14 3 11 I call Clay Matthews mini Jake Ryan.
MSU 17.5 3 14.5 I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCKS
Nebraska 10 7.5 2.5 Got edged a lot; Nebraska used his aggression against him successfully.
Minnesota 14 6 8 JMFR; did get edged a couple times.
Northwestern 8.5 4 4.5 A bit of a quiet day, only 4 tackles, no TFLs.
Iowa 5.5 - 5.5 Nearly had an explosive sack.

That is a star, and that is a guy on the verge of writing his name in sloppy red ink across college football. That's the kind of season before the season that Brandon Graham had as a senior, that Mike Martin had as a senior. Screw you, ACLs. Because that Ryan was not this Ryan:

Game Opponent + - TOT Note
6 Penn State 3.5 2 1.5 …this gentleman.
7 Indiana 5 2 3 Coming on a bit.
8 MSU 6 3 3 Good until ARGH RYAN on final play, still doesn't seem all the way back.
9 Nebraska 4 1 3 One RYAN BACK play, but not every-down impactful yet.
10 Northwestern 6 3 3 Showing that crazy redirect a little more often.
11 Iowa 6.5 - 6.5 Created free touchdown.

And while that's still a respectable player, I'm not into Jake Ryan because he's really respectful and mom likes him, you know? I would prefer Jake Ryan to mount his Harley and run roughshod across the league wearing a thirty-inch skull on his back. And maybe his forehead. As many skulls as possible, really. I mean, I didn't feel this quote from a 2012 Big Ten OL in 2013:

"We were watching film and our coach stopped it and said, 'Where's he at?' And it took you a second to realize he was lined up at defensive end. Then he hits the play button, and it's like the guy gets shot out of a cannon. He has speed, and he just has this ability to know where the football is and he attacks it. "

So there's that. And now he's a middle linebacker. Hooray?

Look… I can't tell you this is a great idea. The way Ryan plays is 80% chaos, 20% hair metal, and he's kind of tall and weird-shaped for middle linebacker. It's easy to envision a guard getting under his pads and taking him for a ride. And it's easy to envision him failing to funnel to his help, because at SAM your help is always very easy to figure out: inside. Chaos!

Chaos is probably not great for a MLB.

But it might not be a bad one. Ryan has taken on a lot of blocks in his time and even if he has to invent and patent ways to get rid of them, he generally does. The guy does not stay blocked.

When Michigan had problems with wide receiver screens a couple years ago they slid Ryan over the slot; problem solved. That combination of tackling and the ability to get to the productive side of a block is encouraging. It's going to be a bigger project against OL instead of TEs, but he's been a defensive end an awful lot—he's not going to be surprised.

The concern at MLB is that his tendency to shed at all costs will put him on the wrong side of a blocker. That concern is considerably less urgent than the prospect of lining up a 256-pound strongside end, but your evaluation should be in that context: this is a move about what is best for the defense as a whole, not necessarily Jake Ryan's individual fit.

That said… healthy Jake Ryan.

Healthy Jake Ryan is a menace shot out of a cannon who impacts you fiercely and rocks you back and then runs really fast at the guy with the ball. While middle linebacker may be an awkward fit, there are not many Jake Ryans out there, and when the guy is sent on a blitz, opponents are going to feel it.

It is not going to feel good.

[After THE JUMP: the Bolden Question, the Morgan Binkie, the Ross Explanation]

Hokepoints Goes Over: Level II

Hokepoints Goes Over: Level II

Submitted by Seth on June 17th, 2014 at 11:16 AM

Read Level I: The Defensive Line

4-3 Overunder

Click to big. Right-click to open in a separate window so you can reference it as you go.

A few weeks ago I promised to finish this piece on the differences for Michigan's personnel in the 4-3 over. Sorry.

Refresher: What's a 4-3 Over? What you're looking at are alignments of the front seven. The "under" shifts the defensive line away from the strength of the defense and the linebackers swing the opposite way to compensate. Michigan would often align this to the hash rather than the offense, shifting the DL toward the sideline.

The "over" shifts the line the opposite way, but not to such an extreme. The linebackers wind up centered over the ball, and the DL spread across the formation. There is nothing 3-4 about it except the nose tackle.

Last time I talked about how going from a base under to a base over will demand the WDE and 3-tech play a little bigger, the SDE can play more like a rush end, and the nose's job stays pretty much the same except he's now the backside DT. Now on to the second level.

Strongside Linebacker (SAM): James Ross/Royce Jenkins-Stone

DSC_2320

[Upchurch]

IZiz vs 4-3under

The 4-3 under is tough to run against—often they wind up blocking the backside DE in hopes of getting something from a cutback, since it's hard for the LT to get to anybody else. That meant the WLB could be a free hitter

On inside zone that strongside (right) tackle is trying to get a free release. The 3-tech could get aggressive and slow him up but the danger of playing aggressively on the DL against a zone running team is you open up the backside. The faster the OT gets out to the second level the more room there's going to be for the running back to dodge around the DT. A SAM who can read IZ quickly will be all up in that OT's face, able to affect both frontside gaps without opening up the backside cut. Every half-second of delay on the SAM's part is another yard for the offense.

But the SAM can't get crazy-aggressive attacking the OT or the C gap because that tight end is an eligible receiver, and there's another receiver on that side of the formation who could be slanting or dragging. Since the guess is Michigan wants Jake Ryan to be aggressive in the middle, Ross will end up in a lot of zone drops or in man-to-man on the tight end.

The fit: The WLB in the 4-3 under that James Ross played last year isn't hugely different, but it wound up playing differently because Ross was constantly having to take on blockers thanks to Michigan's Jibreel-Black-is-a-NT stunt-a-thon. His quick-twitch reads will be an asset, and his speed and coverage ability will be also. Michigan State's defense had Denicos Allen blitz a ton from this position, and got away with it because the handsy press coverage took care of the slant/drag passes that punish it, and because they had Max Bullough to read and react at MLB. Ross will get to blitz more than he did as the backside linebacker, but I'm guessing Michigan would rather he be the read-react-hit-spill dude so Jake Ryan can go viking.

[jump for the other two spots]

Draftageddon: What The Hell, Peppers Time

Draftageddon: What The Hell, Peppers Time

Submitted by Brian on June 11th, 2014 at 11:17 AM

THE GOAL OF DRAFTAGEDDON

The goal of Draftageddon is YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT DRAFTAGEDDON.

I'm hearing this is incorrect. I see. The goal of Draftageddon is to draft a team of Big Ten players that seems generally more impressive than that of your competitors. Along the way, we'll learn a lot of alarming things, like maybe Maryland is good? Full details are in the first post.

PREVIOUSLY ON DRAFTAGEDDON

  1. Everyone not grabbing dual-threat senior QBs grabs defensive linemen
  2. Seth takes Venric Mark in front of just about everyone
  3. Nothing terribly remarkable happens
  4. BISB takes all the guys I want
  5. A ridiculous amount of time is spent discussing the merits of one particular interior lineman from Rutgers
  6. WILDCARD TIME as Brian takes a quarterback despite already having a quarterback.

THE CURRENT SITUATION

image

ROUND 13 - PICK 2: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State

Michigan St Iowa Football

O: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Ameer Abdullah (NE), WR Devin Funchess (U-M), TE Maxx Williams (MN), LT Brandon Scherff (IA), LG Kaleb Johnson (RU)

D: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), DE/DT Andre Monroe (MD), NT Darius Kilgo (MD), OLB Chi Chi Ariguzo (NW), OLB Matt Robinson (MD), CB Desmond King (IA), S John Lowdermilk (IA)

ST: KR/PR Ameer Adbullah (NE)

ACE: Heiko lives!

Brian's decision to draft a, uh, third-and-long quarterback put an end to the staring contest between me and Seth. I'd like a full-time starter, thanks, and not of the Rudock/Stave/Siemain caliber.

Oh, look, it's the Rose Bowl MVP.

Connor Cook took the reins of an offense so laughable it was being outscored by its own defense, took a couple games to settle in, and proceeded to make the Spartan O downright respectable. He put up excellent numbers for a redshirt sophomore, averaging 7.3 YPA with a 22:6 TD-to-INT ratio. Those numbers were in spite of a receiving corps that didn't feature anything resembling a true #1 receiver, and didn't have much quality from there, either. Using Seth's pet stat, RYPR, here's what Cook was working with in 2013:

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 11.39.21 AM

​His #1 receiver performed like an average #2. His #4 receiver averaged 3.8 yards per target. The rest of it isn't so great, either. Click over to Seth's post and look at Michigan's 2013 receiving corps. Even with their lack of production from the #3 spot, the Wolverines were far superior.

BISB: /Microphone... getting so hot... must... let... go...


ROUND 13 - PICK 3: Jabrill Peppers, CB (and S/RB/WR/Nickel/WILL/KR/PR/BMOC/GGTK), Michigan

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he will fix everything

O: QB Devin Gardner (UM), RB Jeremy Langford (MSU) WR Kenny Bell (Neb), WR Shane Wynn (IU), OT Donovan Smith (PSU), C Austin Blythe (Iowa)
D:
DE Joey Bosa (OSU), DE Noah Spence (OSU), LB Jake Ryan (UM), LB Mike Hull (PSU) CB Sojourn Shelton (Wisky), CB Jabrill Peppers (UM), S Kurtis Drummond (MSU)

BISB: I still needed a corner, a safety, a nickelback, a running back, and a wide receiver. So I took one.

Everyone is aware of the story of Jabrill Peppers. He is the highest ranked (and possibly the most highly-touted) recruit to hit a Big Ten campus in the last decade. If Sojourn Shelton is the prototypical field corner, Peppers is the archetypal boundary corner. Big for a corner at 6'1", 210 lbs, he hits like a linebacker but nevertheless shows sprinter speed and acceleration that translates to the football field. He's as quick-twitch of a human being as you'll ever find; he's basically Venric Mark. But after an 80's-style Rocky training montage. And five inches taller.

I know, I know. Recruiting hype stars don't matter never played a snap in college blah blah. Screw that. What are the usual concerns about freshmen? Physical preparedness, mental preparedness, and how the game translates to the next level. Physically, I'll defer to the unnamed assistant coach from USC:

"I've only seen two players in high school with a body like that," the USC coach says, "and both of them are named Peterson [Adrian and Patrick]."

As far as translating to the next level, watch the burst and acceleration in these two clips. Translation, my ass. I don't care what level of competition he's playing (though his competition is pretty good) or what kind of stuff doesn't show up on the highlight reels (though his full game cut-ups are equally impressive). This kid is basically a glitch in the physics engine. And sure, there's gonna be a mental transition, and sure both of my corners are young. Fortunately I have the best free safety in the Big Ten over the top to erase any youthful mistakes.

[AFTER THE JUMP: Seth drafts Troy Woolfolk, Ace with the Big Red Block.]

Spring Stuff: Defense

Spring Stuff: Defense

Submitted by Brian on April 7th, 2014 at 11:52 AM

The spring game-type-substance maintained its downward importance trajectory, but as it's the last glimpse of one of the big three sports we'll have until fall we'll talk about it all the same. This year's edition further expanded the punting-drills-and-standing-around section of the practice, so observations are necessarily light on the ground.

It's bad when Doug Karsch can't keep the sarcasm out of his voice.

This video is in Michigan's traditional zoom-o-vision, so you can't actually tell what Lewis did to get in the position he's in for the first interception.

The tone. Last year's "I like this team" has been replaced.

“We’re doing a lot of good things, but we’re not near good enough as a team to win games in the fourth quarter, which we didn’t do (last season), and play on the road,” said Hoke, entering his fourth season. “We’re a long way from being any good."

That reflects the reality of the program.

Depth chart grain of salt reminder. Spring is a season for motivational devices and experiments and therefore places on the depth chart should be regarded as vague indicators more than anything else. Case in point: Graham Glasgow was your second-team right tackle.

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Lewis is in your grill yo [Bryan Fuller]

Very aggressive /teddyKGB. Every offseason for a team without an elite defense features coaches promising increased aggression, whereupon most of them quietly drop that promise when the season rolls around and it turns out that for Defense X being super aggressive is a good way to give up quick touchdowns. The cycle repeats the next offseason.

Michigan is promising aggression, and Mattison is putting his cornerbacks where his mouth is. Lewis:

“It’s huge, just getting hands on guys and trying to intimidate them," Lewis said. "That’s our key point right there -- being physical. That’s what (defensive coordinator Greg) Mattison is always talking about, being a physical defense.”

They spent most of the scrimmage session in the grills of Michigan wide receivers, playing MSU-style bump and clutch and grab and run. Word from the coaching clinic is that Michigan is adjusting to the way the game has been called of late. Lewis again:

“He said ‘be physical’,” Lewis said. “But he doesn’t care if it’s great defense and we get a penalty.”

This was highly effective when not drawing two flags on Lewis—the second a dubious one—or that one time the offense got Freddy Canteen lost on a deep corner route. Everything else was contested, and when the ball got to the receiver the corners were making a play on it.

Lewis looked terrific after a spring in which inside practice buzz has heralded him as a major comer; hell, he looked terrific most of last year except for the bit where the opposing quarterback regularly put the ball in the six-inch window perfect coverage provides. In this game he had two interceptions and two flags along with other instances where his presence forced drops or tough catches. The first interception came on the first play of the scrimmage (0:45 above).

The video doesn't do it justice since it kind of looks like Lewis is coming over from a zone. That was pure press man coverage on which he did the one thing the gypsy promised him he'd never do: make a play on the ball after achieving his position.

Is he supplanting? I don't know, man. Usually two returning starters who had the number of excellent interceptions Taylor and Countess did have impregnable positions on the depth chart. This situation is not usual, though, as those guys didn't have impregnable positions even as they were doing that—Taylor was yanked from the starting lineup briefly, even. And the last impression Michigan's coaches have is both guys getting smoked by Tyler Lockett, an impression that Countess might have reinforced when Canteen beat him over the top Manningham-style. (Gardner left the throw short and Countess recovered.)

At the very least the competition here is a real one, unlike, say, quarterback. And corner is a position at which a lot of players will see the field. Lewis has at least claimed a spot in Michigan's nickel package, which is half your snaps these days. Even when not in nickel, Michigan rotated last year and they'll rotate this year. It's likely that Lewis gets as many snaps as the starters whether he is one on paper or not, and then you've got Stribling and Peppers. Delonte Hollowell is hanging around, delivering the occasional hard shot on the unsuspecting.

If the spring game indicates one thing, it's that cornerback is better-stocked than it's been in a long-time. Michigan doesn't have a Woodson (at least until fall, anyway), but I can say without hesitation that I'm more comfortable with Michigan's fifth corner than I usually am with their third. Remember Football Armageddon, when Michigan decided covering a first-round NFL draft pick with Chris Graham was their best option? Yeah. Not so much this year.

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Wilson got over the top on a late throw [Bryan Fuller]

Aaaand safety. Much less clarity there, and very little to go on from the game-type section. Michigan spent much of the day rolling whoever wasn't Jarrod Wilson to the line of scrimmage to further their aggression goals, whereupon he would cover a fullback or something or watch as a run play did not get to him.

Wilson did have one nice PBU on a looping ball over the top. The ball was late thanks to some pressure that forced Gardner to roll around in the pocket, but that's the kind of ball a safety can make a play on and the play was made.

As far as depth chart stuff goes there was zero clarity. If you put a gun to my head I'd say Delano Hill was slightly preferred. And then I would say "but…" and you would shoot me. Let's not do this gun to the head thing when talking about Michigan's safeties.

The Jake Ryan experiment. First off, the admittedly not-particularly-meaningful spring depth chart gives me the willies. Ryan at MLB, Morgan second-string behind him, Bolden starting, Ross running on the second team at new tinySAM. I am full of the willies.

It's hard to tell much about linebackers in spring, harder yet when the offensive line they're up against is barely releasing to the second level*. On plays where I watched Jake Ryan he looked okay.  He's kind of a long, upright guy, so when blockers get into him he tends to let them under him. On the edge he would just juke a guy and explode past him; in the middle you have to take the block on because picking the wrong side of the guy means you just blew your run fit.

I'm not sure where he fits in an over defense, though, so if you're going to make a shift he has to go somewhere.

Meanwhile, Joe Bolden's ample playing time has been mysterious to me. Linebacker remains the hardest position for me to have a Serious Opinion about because there's just so much that goes into it, but the things that Bolden seemed to be screwing up were really obvious things like not being anywhere near your pass drop. Meanwhile when it comes to hitting people in the face and making them stop going forward there is no comparison between Bolden, who has been a drag-you-down tackler to date, and Desmond Morgan, who thumps you and then you stop moving. Michigan's head coach says "toughness" every other word, and Morgan is much closer to that on the field than Bolden.

As a result I've promised to eat a lemon on the internet if Bolden starts the opener over Morgan. The rules: Morgan has to be healthy, Bolden has to start, and Morgan cannot start.

*[Michigan had a great deal of uninspiring runs of 1-3 yards but few TFLs except that one time they put Henry in against the third team OL. This was in large part because the offensive line was doing its damndest to not repeat the mistakes of last year. Instead of popping off opposing DL immediately, they were maintaining doubles longer than you really should. This made life at LB relatively easy and thus many plays where a tailback crosses the line of scrimmage and encounters a pile of men.]

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Poggi SDE, Hurst 3-tech, Henry nose on a second or third unit

Line ups and downs. Here the limitations of spring practice overwhelm. Michigan's first-team offensive line read Cole-Bosch-Miller-Kalis-Braden; the second team featured a left tackle with an enormous cast on his hand. Grain of salt, grain of salt, grain of salt.

Anyway, Michigan had a few guys that looked impressive: Bryan Mone entered the backfield with regularity and Maurice Hurst Jr flashed the first step that was the bulk of his recruiting profile. That they've pushed Henry down the depth chart is an excellent sign even if that particular arrangement is clearly motivational after Henry established himself a legit Big Ten player a year ago. Brennen Beyer displayed an excellent ability to discard… uh… true freshman Mason Cole on a number of snaps. Beyer has always been an active hands guy; the question with him is his ability to hold up against 330 pound trucks. A matchup with Cole is not going to answer that.

Michigan got push up the middle of the pocket for large chunks of the scrimmages and while they weren't penetrating on run plays with regularity, see the aside above. When Michigan's options were limited in the half-line drills, they ended up in the backfield more often than not. It seemed like 80% of those runs cut back behind the center, which is a win for the DL in that drill.

As for guys who had bad snaps we will extrapolate much more from than is reasonable: at 2:55 in the video above Derrick Green gets one of Michigan's better runs on the day by bouncing outside; that is there because Glasgow locked up with and drove Henry Poggi well off the ball. Tom Strobel got easily handled on a successful Hayes power play at 2:25; a linebacker wearing a number in the 40s also picked the wrong hole. Also… does anyone know where Chris Wormley was? I don't recall seeing him; I googled to see if anyone had mentioned anything was up with him and came up empty, so I assume he was there but rather anonymous.

I have to punt on other defensive end observations, as I was focusing on the linebackers and secondary for much of the day.

Tentative Takeaways

  • They're trying to make good on the promise to be aggressive.
  • The cornerback depth is terrific and the top end should be quite good.
  • Michigan has a solid young core at DT; DE is more uncertain.
  • Linebackers… ask again later.

Mailbag: Big Ten Tourney Tiredness, Athlete Twitter, NBA Draft Changes, Doge

Mailbag: Big Ten Tourney Tiredness, Athlete Twitter, NBA Draft Changes, Doge

Submitted by Brian on March 12th, 2014 at 12:28 PM

About the Big Ten Tournament making you tired.

Got into a discussion with a friend over the importance of the B1G tournament, he thought it was a useful "spring board", I did not.  Did some gopher work on the results that might be interesting to you. 

4 – Exceeds expectations, only 2009 Purdue wasn’t a #1 seed.

5 – played to seed

7 – Did not meet expectations.  Although 3 of these are Sweet 16 losses, which aren’t absolutely terrible.

Year Champion B1G Tourney Seed NCAA Tournament Result

1998

Michigan

4

#3, lost in 2nd round.  Later Ed Martin’d

1999

Michigan State

1

#1, Lost in Final Four

2000

Michigan State

2

#1, Won it all

2001

Iowa

6

#7, played to seed

2002

Ohio State

2

#4, lost to #12 Mizzou in second round

2003

Illinois

2

#4, lost to #5 ND

2004

Wisconsin

2

#6, played to seed

2005

Illinois

1

#1, Lost in NCG

2006

Iowa

2

#3, Lost in first round

2007

Ohio State

1

#1, Lost in NCG

2008

Wisconsin

1

#3, Played to seed, but lost to #10 Davidson

2009

Purdue

3

#5, played slightly above seed, lost to #1 Uconn in Sweet 16

Side note, doesn’t it seem like decades ago since Purdue was good at basketball?

2010

Ohio State

1

#2, Lost to Tennessee in Sweet 16.  In a cruel twist of fate, Bruce Pearl gets canned for lying about hosting Aaron Craft at his house

2011

Ohio State

1

#1, lost to Kentucky in Sweet 16, [fart noise].  Is that big white guy from Kentucky still in the NBA?

2012

Michigan State

1

#1, lost Louisville in Sweet 16

2013

Ohio State

2

#2, got Shocked in Elite 8.  All the debates about charges…..

Thanks,

Kent, a.k.a. Baloo_dance

That doesn't look like anything resembling a real effect, especially since only 1998 Michigan, 2002 OSU, and 2006 Iowa  had anything resembling first-weekend surprise exits. OSU and MSU going out in the Sweet 16 after a two-week period in which they played two games can't be chalked up to fatigue unless you're Tom Izzo.

Also worth noting that teams that "play to seed" generally exceed the average tourney wins per seed line:

tourney-wins

So a one seed that reaches the final four is about seven tenths of a win to the good. Big Ten Tourney champs have acquired 38 wins in the tournament since the BTT's inception; based on seedings they were expected to get 36.42. At the very least we can say there's no evidence that winning the Big Ten has any effect on your tournament hopes. Given the seed line graph above and the fact that winning games moves you up lines, it is undoubtedly a net positive.

Resolved: in favor of winning Big Ten Tournament.

On Michigan twitter.

Brian,

In your opinion, is Delonte' Hollowell the most interesting M athlete to ever grace Twitter? I think so, but that's just, like, my opinion, man. At the bare minimum he has to be the greatest all-caps philosopher of all time.

Adam

If Twitter has proven anything it's that plebes are suckers for athletes who tweet in all caps, and I am in their midst.

Most athletes use twitter like high school kids with ten followers—like weird semi-public email, and that puts a damper on things. You can tell whenever a dude breaks up with a girl because he starts making tweets that sound like Gin Blossoms lyrics; a lot of the time you're just getting "hey @other_athlete, what's good". The rest of the time it is "rise and grind #blessed." This is fine and all but not particularly interesting to people other than @other_athlete.

Hollowell, on the other hand, spends large chunks of his time with ALL CAPS EXHORTIONS to be something or do something else that are meant to be twitter. He rises and grinds without informing the world of this fact, and he does not tweet #blessed. He seems perpetually irritated by everything. He is the best.

Other current Wolverines worth following:

  1. Henry Poggi's feed is mostly about the Big Lebowski, which means you may not want to follow it but I do.
  2. Andrew Dakich, obviously.
  3. Jordan Morgan trolls MSU fans, and keeps trolling.
  4. Graham Glasgow takes shots at his brother by deploying Snorlax. Frequently tweets about being sleepy or in bed.
  5. Desmond Morgan sarcastically deploys #blessed.

#mcm == "Man Crush Mondays."

Ondre Pipkins would have been on the list, but he nuked his twitter last year.

On NBA Draft changes.

Brian -

This question is undoubtedly way too soon. I normally don't like to engage in the "who are we losing" questions while still able to enjoy the product on the floor. However, I was reading about potential NBA draft changes and Adam Silver's emphasis on extending the age-limit prohibiting players from entering the NBA until they are done with their sophomore year.

Several articles mentioned NBA front-offices fearing a insanely weak 2015 draft if any changes were implemented. What do you think this potential, if any, has on a player like Nik Stauskas when evaluating an NBA departure?

Justin

No. Stauskas is projected in the top 15 of this loaded draft and there's hardly any difference between going 15th and 5th. That would not impact his decision.

However, it might impact McGary and Robinson. They would go from guys who might play themselves into the first round next year into holy first round locks. That would shift the equation significantly enough that it would suddenly be a very bad idea to enter.

However, despite the immediate salutary benefits for Michigan that is a step in the wrong direction. The right direction is draft and follow: everyone's eligible before their freshman year, five round draft, anyone who gets signed occupies a roster spot for remaining NCAA eligibility + 1 years no matter where they are.

SO WOW

after a loss michigan is 7-0 with an average margin of victory of 24 points.  thats insane, no?

Robert

YES

MUCH ZING

Be sure to note that Michigan notched its 7th road win of the season yesterday. Folks sometime forget how tough it is to win on the road in the B1G; how tough it is to win in East Lansing, or in Madison, or in Columbus -- much less in all three places in the same friggin' year. It's really an eye-popping achievement, and a testament to the job Coach B has done of getting them ready to compete in very hostile environments.

Cheers.

Doug

HOW WOW

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs MSU

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs MSU

Submitted by Brian on November 6th, 2013 at 3:10 PM

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

3-3-5-nickel

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

4-3-even-wide

M rolled down Gordon in their under early:

4-4-under

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

5-1-nickel

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

troll-game

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

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

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

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

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

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Penn State

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Penn State

Submitted by Brian on October 17th, 2013 at 2:28 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Some additional  things in this game. This was a special situation, but when PSU hurried to the line in the first quarter to attempt it on fourth and one, Michigan responded with the perfect pinched-line D:

4-4 pinch

This punched PSU off the field and earned Mattison a gold star.

Michigan occasionally split their LBs in the nickel package in what I called 5-1-nickel:

5-1-nickel

And they took to a thing where they're standing the WDE before the snap like so:

under-flip

This has almost always meant he's dropping.

Finally, everyone milling about presnap with no one with a hand down:

upright-okie-1

This was just Okie in my book.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Secondary was as per usual, with Stribling getting in on a couple of dime packages in the second half and replacing Avery on the Fatal Bomb Drive. ILB was basically the same; Morgan and Ross spotted by Bolden. SAM saw a three-guy rotation with Beyer, Ryan, and Cam Gordon all getting snaps.

The line was also about per usual: Heitzman/Washington/Black/Clark with Wormley/Ash/Henry/Ojemudia spotting. Ash's snaps were extremely scanty, FWIW. When Washington was out it was more often two of Henry/Wormley/Black than Ash.

[After THE JUMP: a heroic 43 allowed.]

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Minnesota

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Minnesota

Submitted by Brian on October 10th, 2013 at 3:30 PM

FORMATION NOTES: This is nothing out of the ordinary for Michigan, but who's up for a perfect overhead view of Michigan aligning in a 4-3 under?

4-3-under-overhead

There are your 6, 3, 1, and five techniques left to right across the front with Gordon hanging out in what I guess is an 8 or 9.

Michigan also showed over fronts, which they have to from time to time because Minnesota loves to flip its strength.

boomd-1

This did not result in a discernible uptick in effectiveness.

This is the Maryland I:

maryland i

This is Michgian in old friend Okie Zero.

okie-zero

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: A lot more nose tackle in this one; Washington got more time than he did in any game to date this year with Pipkins rotating in regularly; once Pipkins went down Ash did get a few snaps late. Rest of the DL was generally Clark/Heitzman/Black with Ojemudia/Wormley/Henry backing up. Glasgow got a couple snaps before the end as well.

Usual rotation at LB was halted after Bolden made some errors, and then it was just the starters. Secondary was the usual except that Avery was the starter at CB and Taylor only came in for nickel packages.

[After THE JUMP: this is the drive that never ends.]