Preview 2014: Wide Receivers

Preview 2014: Wide Receivers

Submitted by Brian on August 26th, 2014 at 11:28 AM

Previously: Podcast 6.0. The Story. Quarterback. Running back.

[NOTE! This section uses the UFR catch chart. Passes are rated on a three point scale for catchability. 3: routine. 2: moderate. 1: difficult. There's also a zero for times when the player was thrown to without any chance of a reception.]

Depth Chart

WR Yr. WR Yr. SLOT Yr. Flex Yr.
Devin Funchess Jr. Amara Darboh So.* Dennis Norfleet Jr. Jake Butt So.
Jehu Chesson So.* Freddy Canteen Fr. Bo Dever So.*# Khalid Hill Fr.*
Da'Mario Jones So.* Moe Ways Fr. Ross Douglas Fr.* -- --

[NOTE: though flex tight ends are listed above since they will fill some of the WR snaps they are addressed in the TE & Friends post, not here.]

It's not often you lose a guy who broke the single-season receiving record and think that things could get better, but it's not often you come across a guy like Devin Funchess, either. Behind Funchess there's not a whole lot that's proven but there are sufficient numbers and hype to believe that Michigan goes five or six deep in quality options, especially after Jake Butt gets back.

If things break right, this unit could hearken back to the Breaston/Edwards/Avant days where you had the NFL-level ludicrous deep threat, the possession ninja, and the screen merchant all in one receiving corps, getting all mother/maiden/crone in your face. It'll take some luck… but not that much luck.

OUTSIDE RECEIVER

Rating: 5.

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everybody get up [Fuller]

The charade is over. Devin Funchess is a wide receiver, 100%. Not that you had to be told that after he spent 87% of last year split wide, faking bubble screens and occasionally catching them and oh right running downfield and leaping over dudes. Funchess put his hand in the dirt in passing situations only, and no one has tried to suggest he might do even that much this year.

This is pretty terrific. Michigan had a guy break Braylon Edwards's single-season receiving record and there was still enough left over for Funchess to rake in 49 catches for almost 750 yards. By the Big Ten opener he was just, like, running right by cornerbacks.

At the end of the year Michigan was handing him the ball on end-arounds and watching him nearly break them for touchdowns, if only Devin Gardner could ID the safety he needs to block. Oh, and this!

A man that large should not be able to move that fast. Take it from someone who played against him:

"I can't believe he's that big and that fast. He made us look silly. You can't get around him. He's just such a big body that he's going to block you from making a play on the football. …

"He could be like Calvin Johnson in the red zone. Just throw it up and let him go get it. I bet we see a lot more of that this year."

I didn't say it! I may have thought it, but I didn't say it. I did call him Minitron a few times, and I may have wondered privately about whether Funchess could be, like… him. But naw. I mean, Calvin Johnson ran a 4.35 at his NFL draft combine.

Funchess proved last season he's capable of being an elite-level receiver. There were some dropped passes here and there, but his combination of size and speed (he clocked a 4.33 in the 40-yard dash in the spring) remains unmatched on the U-M roster.

FAKE! FAKE, I say! That is not a real thing, because physics. Only… you know, it's only almost impossible. Because Calvin Johnson. And when you watch him go up against top corners like Stanley Jean-Baptiste, a second round pick last year…

…or Trae Waynes, a projected first rounder this year…

…it's just like… maybe I should make this comparison I should not make. Because he is smoking those dudes. Not every time, because it never happens every time, but enough. A lot. At 6'5".

BUT WHAT ABOUT HANDS, the bits of the internet with short attention spans ask. Okay, yes. The one catch was a late-season spate of dropped balls. He derfed three in the Iowa game alone, greatly contributing to Michigan's inability to move the ball. One of those was a very conspicuous one on a screen, and that is currently playing an outsized role in people's brains. Because the last thing that's happened is the thing that is always going to happen, Funchess now has a rep for having shaky hands. Once you see the first derf it is a natural inclination to start judging harshly, like when he gets hit in the back by Gardner because of a bad blitz pickup.

This is why we track the numbers, and the numbers say Funchess is anything but a problem:

Year 0 1 2 3
2012 8 2/5 2/4 11/11
2013, Pre-Iowa 16 3/6 5/7 33/35
2013, Iowa 4     1/4
2013, OSU 3 0/1 1/2 2/2

But once you get a reputation in this area people start looking at anything you don't catch as a drop. This is probably one of the plays that stick in skeptics' minds:

That's crazy tough! That's low and behind him and it's only his freaky long arms and Brad Nessler that even give that pass the semblance of a drop.

Until the Iowa game, Funchess's catching ability was unquestioned. Don't let one bad game in the bitter cold overwhelm a large sample size that indicates Funchess's hands are in fact an asset, especially when you consider that the chart above doesn't take the fact that he's 6'5" and can leap over defensive backs into account.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FACT THAT CALVIN JOHNSON IS A UNIQUE UNREPLICABLE HUMAN WHO IS PROBABLY PART ALIEN AND BITTEN BY A RADIOACTIVE SPIDER, says the tiny bit of the internet with common sense. And… okay, well, yeah. You should never project anything at the extremes of possibility because probability is going to make you pay for that, son.

So Devin Funchess probably isn't Calvin Johnson. Michigan should try to prove that assertion wrong. Expect something between first team All Big Ten and an All-American followed by an early entry into the NFL draft. He may even win the Mackey award, because people don't pay attention.

[After THE JUMP: refugees, JUNGLE BEATS, and tiny dancer.]

Monday Presser Transcript 8-25-14: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser Transcript 8-25-14: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 25th, 2014 at 6:06 PM

Hoke presser 2

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News bullets and other items:

  • Captains will be voted on after the Ohio State game, with seniors representing the team at each coin toss
  • The depth chart was released prior to the presser. Read Ace’s take on it here.
  • Injury update: Kyle Kalis is fully healthy, while Delano Hill is meeting with doctors this afternoon to determine whether he can play Saturday
  • Hoke raved about Devin Gardner’s progression on the field and as a team leader
  • Ty Isaac’s status is still uncertain; they’re waiting to hear back about the appeal
  • The freshman and sophomore classes have an edge to them. Hoke does not know that he has said edge.
  • Brady Hoke “Well,…” count: 12

[After THE JUMP: a mini scouting report on Appalachian State, Devin Gardner’s development, and the captain situation (or lack thereof) explained]

Fall Camp Presser 8-20-14: Brady Hoke

Fall Camp Presser 8-20-14: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 21st, 2014 at 8:58 AM

Hoke presser 2

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News bullets and other items:

  • Today’s starting offensive line would be Mason Cole- LT; Erik Magnuson- LG; Jack Miller- C; Burzynski/Bosch/Kalis- RG; Ben Braden- RT
  • Jabrill Peppers will start at nickel but has picked up the defense fast enough that he’s taking some snaps at boundary corner
  • Hoke can’t remember Devin Funchess dropping a single pass in fall camp which, like, eeeeee
  • Derrick Green and DeVeon Smith are considered the downhill backs, while Drake Johnson and Justice Hayes are the third-down backs
  • Preparation for that game on the 30th against that one team begins Thursday
  • Brady Hoke “Well,…” count: 6

    Opening remarks:

"Thanks for coming out. I think we haven't spoken to each other since Saturday. We've had good practices, good energy, good competition. I think that's one thing we've talked about every time is to compete and challenge each other and I think this team has done that. I think there's leadership throughout the team in all classes which has been good to see. If you're good enough, you're old enough and that's been part of what we talked about. I think that's very good. Starting to get...we are starting to get prepared for Appalachian State here in the next couple days. We'll do some things with switch [?] teams and really have some good competition with that part of it and also keep the speed of how we want to play the game, so there will always be situational ones on ones, twos on twos. Tomorrow is Tuesday, the next day is Wednesday and Saturday is a Thursday how we look at it and next week we'll take Sunday and do some walk-throughs, get the tape reviewed. Next Tuesday will be a Tuesday, Wednesday will be a Wednesday, and Thursday will be Thursday so you've got to figure it out on my end sometimes. But it's been a good camp. I guess we'll break on Saturday morning – about 1 PM on Saturday after we go up to the stadium, have a good practice there. We'll do a lot of game rehearsal things, trying to put the players in situations that they will be in. I think that's important. So… excited. I think we're all excited. Are we ready? Not yet, so we have a lot of work ahead of us but at the same time I like how we go about our business every day."

You said this was the day you start preparing for App State. Do you have a set offensive line?

“Well, I think there's still some competition but I think Ben Braden has been a very steady performer at right tackle. I think Mason Cole has been very, very steady at the left tackle position. I always get asked – not just by you guys but Mason Cole, you don't notice him so you don't notice any mistakes. He's not a guy who's been a guy who killed plays and that's the kind of stuff… Jack will be the center, Kugler will back him up. We'll be without Graham as you all know. Mags will be the left guard if we were playing today and at the right guard I think there's good competition. Joe Burzynski, Kyle Bosch, Kalis is getting work at both guards, he's just getting back into things yesterday so I think we're still– I have an idea, but I don't think we're set at that right guard position right now.”

What did the film from Saturday show you as far as the offensive line goes?

“You know, there were some holes and there were some holes we have to take advantage of and there's also times where the back’s got to make it right, you know, quarterback drifting out of his ball handling knocks a back out of his A gap. We had some of those. Still not enough of them. We still got to move the line of scrimmage better and that's a constant that we'll have. I thought that yesterday the backs did a nice job. I think that Fred [Jackson] definitely had an effect on how they need to approach it and so I think we're making really good progress there.”

To clarify something from Saturday, did you say that in a 4-3 defense, your base, Jabrill [Peppers] would be a corner and then slide into the nickel spot?

“Yeah, I mean he would slide inside. We're going to really try and make sure that he’s set at the nickel before we get too far out there being a boundary corner. I mean, we played him at boundary corner some the other night with the first group. There's some things that are different when you're playing one-third than when you're playing a nickel position so right now, yes, he's playing some corner but we are going to focus in on nickel with him in there.”

You said that you wanted him just to be practicing in one position to get really comfortable there. What have you seen out of him that you feel comfortable, obviously, giving him more responsibility?

“Well, he's learned fast. I think the way he's engrossed himself in the playbook. I think from a fundamental/technique standpoint he's come a long way. Just think he's done a nice job overall.”

[After THE JUMP: sorting out the running back situation, Devin Gardner’s leadership, and my inaugural MGoQuestion]

The Devins, The Peppers, And More: Michigan's Most Fun Players To Watch

The Devins, The Peppers, And More: Michigan's Most Fun Players To Watch

Submitted by Ace on August 19th, 2014 at 3:24 PM


Shooting for the "most times a single GIF hits the front page" record.

Michigan lost one of the most genuinely enjoyable players to watch in recent memory with the graduation of Jeremy Gallon, and unfortunately, I don't think we'll be seeing a 5'8" dude with rocket boots and a cloaking device breaking school receiving records again anytime soon.

That said, the Wolverines don't lack players that can make your jaw drop. Inspired by this Matt Hinton piece on college football's most exciting players, here's my list of the Wolverines who should provide the most entertainment this season. Take note: this isn't a rundown of the best players, but a subjective list of who I think will be the most fun to watch—it's ordered by position, since what constitutes "fun to watch" varies wildly from person to person.

QB Devin Gardner

An obvious choice, especially since some of Gardner's bad habits—namely, reversing field when under pressure—can still produce spectacular results. He's an electric runner even when not at full health. He's got a heck of an arm; this throw against Notre Dame last year simply defies explanation. He continued the grand tradition of Michigan quarterbacks hilariously punking Tanner Miller. His ability to improvise has bailed out the offense on many occasions. Yes, this sometimes gets him into trouble—I know another throw from that otherwise amazing Notre Dame performance is going through your head right now—but it also poses a threat to opponents that is extremely difficult to defend, and it's sure fun to watch when everything clicks.

WR Devin Funchess

Again, an obvious choice is obvious, as evidenced by the GIF that graces the top of this post—and that wasn't the first time Funchess leaped over an oncoming defender:

The whole "hurdles defensive backs on the run" thing is pretty great, but that's just a small part of what makes Funchess so remarkable. He's a 6'5", 230-pound former tight end with legitimate top-end speed; his movements bear the grace of a much smaller player. Even when he slips, he seamlessly recovers, and the average defensive back is going to have a very difficult time contending with his ball skills or bringing him down once he makes the catch. Oh, and having oven-mitt-sized hands allows for him to make catches like this while on a dead sprint.

If Funchess isn't on the team in 2015, it'll be because he turned in a monster year and justifiably went pro, and I don't think anybody could begrudge him that move.

[Hit THE JUMP for eight exciting players not named Devin.]

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]

UNVERIFIED VORACITY IS ALL CAPS

UNVERIFIED VORACITY IS ALL CAPS

Submitted by Brian on July 28th, 2014 at 11:05 AM

FIRE EVERYONE! Naw man this ain't relevant to your interests. I but I mean cumong man.

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Cumong woman, I guess. Either way, y'all shouldn't have laid off the common sense editor a couple years back. "Picks Barbour" instead of "Selects Woman" would have fit and passed the "will people be irate on twitter about this?" test.

I WILL LAY A PATH OF DESTRUCTION ACROSS THE LAND. CBS Sports scouts Michigan's upcoming team for the next NFL draft, starting with one Devin Funchess:

He has excellent initial burst off the line to get vertical in a hurry with long, full strides, flashing flexible and easy movement skills rare for a player his size. Funchess tracks well with smooth body control to make natural adjustments on the ball, but has WAY too many drops on his resume and needs to improve his reliability and finishing ability through the catch point. The effort is there for him as a blocker, but his technique needs work as he's often caught off guard with his blocking assignments. Funchess is a mismatch nightmare against linebackers and smaller defensive backs and with improved consistency, he has all the makings of a future first round pick, reminiscent of a younger Jermichael Finley at Texas.

I'm not entirely sure the effort is there as a blocker after watching him opposite Jeremy Gallon, but he should be at least adequate as a wide option. The drops were a bit unfortunate but he's not in the Braylon category, at least not yet, and his ability to reach up and pluck things out of the air with one hand gives him a circus catch upside that few players have.

Also featured are Ryan ("possible top-50 draft pick"), Clark ("One of the more underrated pass rushers for the 2015 class"), Gardner("upper and lower body mechanics are a mess and he often releases while off-balance," thanks Mr. Borges and your hatred of QB coaches), and various others. Special nod to Raymon Taylor for being average at everything:

His size, speed and strength are all considered average, but he has the competitive mentality and awareness needed for the position.

The center of the bell curve, that Raymon Taylor.

OKAY YOU HAVE MY ATTENTION. Patrick Beilein is doing something his old man never did: becoming an assistant coach.

Patrick Beilein is leaving West Virginia Wesleyan to take a job on coach Quin Snyder's staff with the Utah Jazz, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

That is a 29-year-old NBA assistant coach whose dad is John Beilein, just kinda hanging out. At this point it would be an upset if LaVall Jordan didn't get the job when it is time for Beilein to hang it up, but things change and it's nice to have attractive options.

Meanwhile: wait, Quin Snyder is now an NBA coach? Specifically Trey Burke's NBA coach? When do I get a job?

WELL THAT SEEMS REASONABLE. THIS PROBABLY SHOULDN'T BE ALL CAPS. Michigan picked third the East in a poll of 29 media voters that somehow came up with 33 first place votes:

Big Ten East

1. Ohio State, 195 points (23 first-place votes)
2. Michigan State, 180 points (10)
3. Michigan, 136 points
4. Penn State, 105.5 points
5. Maryland, 84 points
6. Indiana, 78.5 points
7. Rutgers, 33 points

That is zero votes that have anything other than Rutgers dead last.

I AM TERRIBLY OLD AND HAVE CHOSEN POORLY. Defensman Kenny Johnson, who I remember wandering around Yost as, like, a zero-year-old, has committed to Michigan. Kenny is of course Jack Johnson's little brother. 

“It wasn’t very hard to make a choice, I’ve always wanted to go there since I was a little kid,” the ’98 birth-year defenseman said. “I went to every game of my brother’s, I was always running around the rink. I guess the hardest part was making the call and going to do it because I couldn’t believe it was real.”

I in fact remember a nine-or-ten year old Kenny wearing a "JMFJ" shirt at the Joe during Jack's sophomore year. I hoped he had no idea why he was wearing that shirt. Now he's KMFJ, which is an amazing abbreviation right there.

Kenny isn't the incredible prospect his brother was—he's more of a stay-at-home guy—but he's no slouch.

While we're talking about hockey recruiting, further evidence that recent commit Mike Pastujov is currently a big deal comes from the recent U15 select camp at which he was named the best forward:

1. Michael Pastujov (#11 Black) 6-0/186 Honeybaked U16 (Michigan) - A strong and powerful skater who committed to the Wolverines along with his brother Nick, a '98, less than a week after the camp ended. He's a flight risk to the OHL, but he's a strong skater who drives the net well. He made plays happen from all over the ice, really dishes the puck well to his linemates and he wins one-on-one battles. He's a complete package offensively.

When you're so far away from matriculating these evaluations are shaky, but there's no better place to start than from the top.

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE A TRIP TO BIG RAPIDS. Hockey's released their schedule and it is bizarre. They go to Ferris State to open the season—like before the Canadian exhibition game—and then they have a brutal nonconference road schedule after that test: Lowell, BU, BC, two against Tech. They do get UNH at Yost for what should be an entertaining series.

Unfortunately they again do that bit where they have a ton of home games during the meat of the football schedule and then a massive gap when people really want to go to hockey games. Michigan will go 41 days between home games after a home series against Minnesota on January 10th. The TBA MSU games will be at Munn and the Joe, so the next time you'll have a ticket at Yost is February 21st.

Meanwhile four straight weeks from Friday November 14th to December 5th feature Michigan hockey, and that's after another month-long break, one that features a bye week November 6th and 7th. The planning is not so good. This is the second straight year the second half of the home schedule has been really sparse.

The other thing of note is that there's a bunch of games with "possible" next to them as the Big Ten moves towards Sunday games in an effort to get more of them on the BTN. Hopefully they get that settled before tickets are issued. Moving a game time is one thing; moving entire days is not reasonable.

ENGULFED BY BLACKNESS. A sixth grade girl was at Michigan's football camp, which I guess is cute.

The Detroit News:

Ann Arbor hasn’t seen a burst of speed like this since Denard Robinson wore the Maize and Blue

Ha ha! That's not true.

[reminds self of last year's running game]

Blackness is everything.

[exits slowly]

[fades to nothing made of sadness]

[Death Cab For Cutie writes song about this experience]

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ENTER THE LUMBERG. Man Dave Brandon I really don't want to talk about you constantly but then you're just like

Organizations that have a strong and healthy culture make sure the guiding principles and aspirational vision are integrated into everything that is done -- hiring decisions, communication, recognition, celebration, and the way they create positive energy.

and I'm just like why don't you speak English like a human does and then you're just like

To further our guiding principle of being a "great place to work," an important -- and descriptive -- Smile Committee was created. The committee's job is to draw on the skills and interests of a broad cross-section of the U-M Athletic Department to create activities of fun and importance.

and I'm just like oh that's because you ceased being a part of our species some time ago and you're now homo executivus. Which is fine and all that but I'm just saying that I would go watch RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE EXECUTIVES in a hot second.

"War or war-related activities integral to our aspirational vision… has or have, depending on which antecedent you prefer in the previous phrase, and by "has or have" I mean 'is occurring in a timeframe consistent with that commonly referred to as "now"'… been initiated after consulting with a diverse array of focus groups, consultants, and best-in-class operational specialists including but not limited to—"

/executive shot in face

That's Oscar stuff right there. Hollywood, get on it.

I mean.

To further our guiding principle of being a "great place to work"

I'M ON THE COMMITTEE FORMING COMMITTEE. Instead of just working with the student government, which did great work surveying students and getting the athletic department to change their seating policy to something they would actually enjoy—#MikeProppeforAD—the athletic department is assembling a student advisory committee. We'll see how that works out; I am skeptical it'll be anything nearly as useful as what the unconnected student government managed last year.

Michigan is also confident they'll get past the 100k attendance number, because they just make those up anyway.

"(Some numbers may) potentially be lower than normal in the past, sure," Lochmann said. "I know there's a lot of eyeballs talking about the 100,000 -- we're not going to go below 100,000."

There could be no one in the stadium except the teams and they would announce 102,309. Ask anyone who was at the '95 Purdue doom-weather game if there were 100k in attendance.

Etc.: Stephen A Smith is just in charge of saying things for no reason. Ray Rice's suspension is ridiculous. Terrell Pryor got five games for tatgate! Rice got two for knocking his wife unconscious. Okay.

In lighter news, Detnews really excited about Alex Cook's tweetin'. Bacon on fireworks fireworks. It's probably not a coincidence that right after fireworks fireworks, Brandon gave an interview to Wojo.

ATTENTION TENNESSEE BIGS: stay away from Rome.

Unverified Voracity Is Coming To Your City

Unverified Voracity Is Coming To Your City

Submitted by Brian on July 24th, 2014 at 12:02 PM

RIP. Condolences to the friends and family of the deceased Jim Schneider. Madej has a great story:

"I remember (we had a student assistant) doing a press release one year on women’s gymnastics, and he knew nothing about women’s gymnastics, so (he asked) how (should he) write the release,” said former Michigan media relations director Bruce Madej on Tuesday. “And Schneids says to him, very nicely, ‘Don’t worry about it, the people reading it will know less than you do.’"

Words to live by.

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pretty sure the building is somewhere in this photo

Hey guys, I'm going to be in Chicago. If you're in town and like terrible terrible powerpoint slides, boy do I have an event for you.

2014 Michigan Football Season Preview with Brian Cook (MGoBlog) and Chris Balas (TheWolverine/Rivals.com)- NEW

When: Tuesday, July 29th, 6:00pm - 8:00pm

Where: McGuireWoods LLP, 77 West Wacker Dr, Suite 4100, (map)

Cost: $20 for Alumni Association members; $30 for non-members. Pay at the door for $30 with Cash or Credit Card

Details: Join fellow alumni and several special guest speakers as we preview the 2014 Michigan Football season. During the evening, alums will be joined by Chris Balas from TheWolverine/Rivals.com, Brian Cook from MGoBlog.com and others to be confirmed. You'll get insights on the upcoming season and an opportunity to ask your questions. There will be appetizers and complimentary beer & wine available for those in attendance.
Walk-ups will be available for cash or credit card of $30 day of the event.

Register/Contact: To buy a ticket, click here.  If you have any questions, email David Ingmire at [email protected]

I realize that terrible terrible powerpoint slides are not a great and superior attraction, but in my defense they are snappy and brief. Also, complimentary beer and wine. Last year they flagged down Gerry DiNardo and they may also get a BTN Personality again this year.

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Nick left, Mike right, please try not to think about how old you are vis a vis those guys, the answer is "old."

Hello, nurses. Hockey picked up a couple of massive commitments yesterday. As per hockey recruiting's wont, their commitment is the first time I'd ever heard of them. They're brothers separated by one year, both forwards. Nick Pastujov, the older, is (probably) class of 2016. He's committed to the NTDP program for next year after tearing it up with Belle Tire's U16 team, and was seriously high profile:

His younger brother Mike may be an even bigger prospect.

The usual OHL disclaimer applies. In this case, Nick's NTDP commitment and the obvious appeal of playing together will hopefully mean defection chances are low. Will be interesting to see if either tries to accelerate a la Werenski.

FWIW, Michigan's 2016 class is looking pretty badass right now with Pastujov, Luce, Sanchez, and a couple more potential NHL draft picks.

Meanwhile. Red on Werenski:

“The most difficult thing for younger players is the maturity level and social change going from high school to college, but Zach is mature beyond his years,” Berenson said. “He's like (former Michigan forward) Jason Botterill in that sense. I think he'll fit in really easily.”

I do not make fun of typos and errors, because we all make them. So I… I'm just going to… I'm just going to…

JnMjOF8[1]

Cumong man. I know I called Geoff Cameron "Jeff" and Axel Witsel "Alex" during World Cup preview bits but that's a whole additional level there. For one, there are approximately 12 words in this entire image. For two, CUMONG MAN.

(Via mgouser MiGit)

Big Ten media day, circa the paleolithic. Lee Corso was a game show host, Hayden Fry spontaneously impregnated your mom, Bo was just chillin', thinking about your mortgage, Denny Green wasn't angry yet, and everyone else was quickly and gratefully forgotten by history:

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Man that back row aside from Hayden is something.

Well, okay. Patrick Omameh is listed as a potential breakout player by ESPN. He's 25th on a list of 25, but that's not bad at all for a guy who went undrafted a year ago. Even if the article comes with one of those "are you sure you're talking about the right player" scouting reports:

Tampa Bay plucked him from there in mid-October, and while he never appeared in a game, the Bucs clearly had plans for him. He goes into training camp in the lead for the right guard position. The scouting reports on Omameh a year ago dinged him for sometimes being unable to finish blocks or move properly to the second level, but he's a consistent and powerful drive-blocker. His greatest attribute, however, is his intelligence. He was offered scholarships at MIT and Princeton before heading to Michigan, where he made academic All-Big Ten.

Um… what? Not to overrate one play or anything but the Te'obliteration is actually a pretty good representation of his career. Omameh was terrific when he was asked to move to the second level and not so good when a burly defensive tackle was put right over him:

Also I just like posting that.

If Patrick Omameh is a year two NFL starter that says something about something, there. Like maybe Michigan should have tried to keep doing the zone stuff they were good at.

NFL draft changes. The NFL is making an effort to tone down the number of underclassmen leaving college despite dubious prospects, at least according to one Nick Saban:

Now, teams can only submit five players for grades from the NFL Draft Advisory Board. Last year, Saban said Alabama submitted 11 names.

Also, the NFL will give just three grades of feedback: first-round grade, second-round grade or a "stay-in-school grade." The NFL previously had five grades: first round, second round, third round, fourth through seventh and not draftable.

If the NFL approves extra draft grade requests you can get them, FWIW. John Infante keeps banging the MLS drum here and he's probably right: MLS hand-selects a number of players who sign "Generation Adidas" contracts and makes them available in the draft; anyone not explicitly approved has to go to college. Or overseas or whatever, but they're not available. If the NFL only wants underclassmen who will probably go in the first two rounds, just make that explicit. They'll have to negotiate that into a CBA but current players are always happy to negotiate away stuff from future ones.

Funchessssss.

Etc.: Tiny Basque club manages to raise enough money to play in La Liga. EA settlement wrangling. Say no to fall weddings. "Embracing debate" is tolerating all sorts of things you shouldn't. The NCAA is Marxist. Michigan participates in Make A Wish. Get The Picture demolishes things better than just about anybody.

Unverified Voracity Tears Down Camp

Unverified Voracity Tears Down Camp

Submitted by Brian on July 15th, 2014 at 2:06 PM

HEY. If you didn't already, read Seth's thing.

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Bryan Fuller

Just a shooter. Ex-just a shooter? Zak Irvin's trying to shake the reputation that he has a campsite outside the three point line he only leaves when he needs water:

Zak Irvin smirked at the old saying. He heard it before. So did Nik Stauskas, his predecessor on the wing in Michigan’s offense.

Just a shooter.

The title was stamped on Stauskas at this time last year. As a freshman in 2012-13, the 6-foot-6 guard attempted 58.3 percent of his field-goals from 3-point distance.

Now here’s Irvin. If Stauskas was just a shooter as a freshman, what does that make him? Also a 6-foot-6 guard, Irvin launched a freewheeling 74.5 percent of his shots from behind the arc as a freshman.

The thing is: Stauskas was way less of a shooter than Irvin was, to the point where UMHoops was pointing out that he was even more efficient than Trey Burke in pick and roll situations. Whenever anyone asked me who would step up as the alpha in Burke's absence I immediately said "Stauskas" in a tone of voice that was probably insulting to the person asking the question.

Just-a-shooter-related stats indicate that Irvin is starting well back from Stauskas was when it comes to initiating offense.

STAUSKAS (FR) IRVIN (FR)
3PA/FGA 61% 74%
FTRate 29.2 10.7
Assist Rate 7.6 4.7
TO Rate 14.2 9.3

Also… I mean…

Irvin made a total of 11 2-point field goals in 18 Big Ten games as a freshman. His 21 free-throw attempts were three less than Mitch McGary, who played in only eight games. His 13 assists were only one more than McGary produced.

I am now sad about Mitch again, but that's pretty stark.

Michigan doesn't need Irvin to be Stauskas, what with Walton and LeVert still around. They would like him to be a third creator—hell, if Irvin gets to Stauskas's freshman shot generation numbers that would be terrific.

One thing we do know: even if Irvin does become Not Just A Shooter (drink), we will not hear that he is Not Just A Shooter (drink), because he's not a pale guy from Canada.

FINALLY. It is policy around here to ignore preseason watch lists for major awards because the last time I looked at one I was on there. But we will make a solitary exception for the one organization that seems to have watched Devin Funchess play last year:

On Tuesday, Funchess landed on the 2014 Biletnikoff Award watch list, which goes annually to the most outstanding receiver in college football.

Praise Biletnikoff.

Yes, I know this is just because watch lists place anything vaguely hominid on their lists. I'm still taking it and running.

So there's this. They changed the trophy, likely because of intellectual property issues or something like that. Now it looks like this:

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David Jones:

The one piece of the BCS worth keeping (the crystal football) is replaced by a wagon-wheel coffee table

…leg? I think he left out "leg." But yeah.

A major blow to SMU. Megarecruit Emmanuel Mudiay was set to make a visit to Crisler for his one and only year of college basketball; instead he's taking whatever money he can get this year:

"I was excited about going to SMU and playing college basketball for coach Brown and his staff and preparing for the NBA," Mudiay said in a statement relayed by his brother, Stephane, to SI. "But I was tired of seeing my mom struggle. And after sitting down with coach [Larry] Brown and my family, we decided that the best way for me to provide for my mom was to forgo college and pursue professional basketball opportunities."

That's likely bunk, since Mudiay can just get cash on the side and the school he graduated from was co-founded by Deion Sanders and has had a number of graduate-types get shot down by the NCAA. Either way, that SMU game looks significantly less intimidating.

SMU's still going to be a challenge. They went 27-10 last year and lost to Minnesota in the NIT final; they lost only an inefficient third wheel and a low-usage OREB guy from last year's team.

That would be bizarre, but fun? Chatter about NCAA hockey expansion pops up only every once in a while these days, and when it does it's usually followed by an athletic director making grumbly noises about the general impossibility of such. So go ahead and guess which AD actually wants to make it happen. No, no, no, and no. Arizona State!

Count Arizona State Vice President of Athletics Ray Anderson among the growing number of people who like to see the Sun Devil hockey team compete at the highest level.

"I personally would love to see hockey as a varsity sport at Arizona State," he said. "We have to make a commitment to figure that out."

Penn State's departure from the club hockey ranks apparently made ASU the big dog on the block, whereupon they turned in a 38-2 season, and ASU has a relatively small department for a school of its size and revenue level.

The obvious problem: there ain't nobody to play. The nearest NCAA hockey schools are in Colorado. I guess you could slide them into the NCHC. It would still be an expensive proposition. Unlikely unless ASU gets the kind of donation PSU got.

That'll fix it. Michigan proposes fireworks after the Penn State and… uh… Miami (Not That Miami) games. I don't care, really, but it's notable that a bunch of Penn State and Ohio State people on twitter are now seemingly offended on our behalf.

On the one hand, yeah. On the other hand, YOU'RE PENN STATE (rawwereraaarr rawwrr). YOU ARE THE CHINTZ MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE.

But anyway this is where we are: opposing fan bases are getting irritated because we are not Michigan enough.

Etc.: Mark Donnal profiled. Summer league recap. Kam Chatman scouting. 20 reasons this World Cup was fine. My buddy Jerry on the 2014 World Cup and his USMNT origin story. All whites?

Corrected Vision: Funchess Vs. Lewis, Three Years Later

Corrected Vision: Funchess Vs. Lewis, Three Years Later

Submitted by Ace on July 9th, 2014 at 2:00 PM


Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog

On my very first scouting assignment for MGoBlog, I witnessed the future—and, of course, was totally oblivious to this fact. As Farmington Hills Harrison blew out eventual state champs Cass Tech with surprising ease to open the 2011 season, I watched from my press box perch at Eastern Michigan while Eric snapped pictures from the sideline.

Devin Funchess ambled out wide, as he'd done for much of the evening. He faced off against Jourdan Lewis, at that time the #2 corner on Cass Tech behind future Wolverine Terry Richardson, who drew the seemingly tougher assignment against the focal point of the Harrison offense, future Michigan State receiver Aaron Burbridge. Lewis was a relative unknown, holding a lone offer from Toledo. Eric took the photo that graces the top of this post.

It's an absurd picture. There's Funchess, looking like a coat rack in shoulder pads, assembling his limbs into something approximating a wide receiver's stance. He dwarfs Lewis, who's got the same deer-legged awkwardness while wearing a jersey top that appears at least two sizes too large.

You'd be excused if you thought neither of these guys would make an impact at Michigan, just based on this photo. Funchess was too gangly for a tight end prospect. Lewis, while bigger than Richardson, still fit the mold of pint-sized Cass Tech corner, which was already becoming a dubious distinction.

Once each player came out of their pigeon-toed stances, however, a bright future was apparent. Funchess ran with an effortless glide, and in limited opportunities to make an impact, he did so in a way that foreshadowed a future at Not Tight End:

Funchess displayed great hands and concentration, making his first reception on a tipped pass, and he finished with three receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown by my count (I'm pretty sure the Detroit News recap omits his first catch). Unfortunately for those who missed the game, I was tweeting when Funchess recorded his touchdown catch, so you'll have to believe me when I say he ran a great route up the seam, plucked the ball out of the air, and showed nice speed getting into the end zone on the 31-yard scoring play. His other catch also came when he found a hole in the middle of the defense – from limited viewing, I like what I see in his route-running, hands, and athleticism.

My ability to process this information—and maintain a healthy skepticism of high school weight listings—exposed my inexperience:

On a side note, for those of you who think that Michigan should try to convert Funchess into a wide receiver, I don't see that happening – he already weighs around 215 pounds, and looks like he could easily add another 20-30 before he gets to Ann Arbor.

Funchess came to Michigan listed at 225 pounds in 2012, and that was a lie. He played tight end for the next season-and-a-half. He did so even though no Michigan coach in the history of Michigan coaches would've played him there if given a choice; still paper-thin and lacking refined technique, his blocking was bad enough that he called himself a "pretty boy" heading into his sophomore season.

By that time, though, he'd already shown what he'd become over the second half of his sophomore season. After Michigan's 2012 blowout of Illinois, Brian described the play that inspired the creation of one of the first two MGoGIFs to exist—before I even knew how to watermark them—as such:

My God, It's Made Of Funchess note of the week. From my vantage point in the stadium, I thought the play-action rollout that eventually turned into the Funchess touchdown had been defeated by coverage. I thought that Denard saw this too and was chunking the ball out of the endzone, which I was pleased with—WOO NO INTERCEPTION—as I saw the ball soar into the stands… at least the dance team… well past Devin Funchess's outstretched… oh.

8088254863_7608233a68_o[1]Ace made this. ESC to stop it, unless you're on Chrome.

Wow. Is that legal? Should I clap now? Is touchdown? Is touchdown. Clap. Smile.

We clapped. We smiled. We started listing Funchess as a "FLEX" before giving in entirely to the proper designation: Wide Receiver Devin Funchess. Now he's Top Returning Receiver In The Big Ten Devin Funchess. He runs fly routes past cornerbacks and over the top of safety help. Single cover him and the cornerback might as well not exist. Attempts to tackle him at the knees are not recommended.

Michigan has their tight end of the future, but it's not Funchess, it's Jake Butt. More tight end help is on the way. Meanwhile, the tight end of future past is now the next great Michigan wideout of the present, not to mention a potential first-round NFL draft pick. We saw this coming, but we didn't see this coming.

As for the high school junior who faced off against Funchess on that August evening in 2011, Jourdan Lewis picked up his coveted Michigan offer the following February, and a scant couple weeks later committed along with Cass Tech teammate David Dawson during that unforgettable eight-commit weekend. He's set to challenge for a starting cornerback spot in a loaded secondary this fall after showing flashes of serious potential as a freshman last season. On that loaded Cass Tech defense, which featured current U-M LB Royce Jenkins-Stone in addition to Richardson, he looked the best of them all:

Lewis, Cass Tech's other corner/wideout/returner, was their best player on the field on Saturday, in my opinion. The junior is listed by Rivals at 5'11", 170, and his size allows him to be much more physical – he had a couple big hits on both receivers and ballcarriers and was generally solid in his tackling, and he certainly wasn't afraid to step up and hit somebody. Lewis is not quite as fast or quick as Richardson, but he still has very good speed and agility and was able to show that off in all three phases of the game. Lewis had the best play of the night for Cass Tech's defense, coming up with a diving interception on their own goal line. He already has an offer from Toledo, and I expect he'll get offers from much more prominent programs – including Michigan – in the near future. He has the look of a BCS-level athlete and I like his potential as a bigger cornerback who can make plays against the pass or the run.

"Bigger cornerback," in this case, was relative to Richardson. That's my story, at least, and I'm sticking to it.


Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog

Lewis showed off that physicality this spring, when he looked like the cornerback best suited to Michigan's new emphasis on press coverage. Once again, he lined up often against Funchess. Once again, he more than held his own.

Funchess is already a star. Lewis looks like he's on his way. I wish I could say I knew this would happen, but there's Eric's picture, resplendent in its awkwardness, reminding me that potential is a hell of a thing to project.

Draftageddon 2014: It Continues

Draftageddon 2014: It Continues

Submitted by Brian on May 22nd, 2014 at 3:41 PM

LAST TIME ON DRAFTAGEDDON: I saw a pale horse ridden by a guy who thinks Shilique Calhoun is a first round NFL draft pick.

ROUND 3 - PICK 1: Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland

diggsrun[1]

O: QB Braxton Miller (OSU), WR Stefon Diggs (MD)
D: DT Carl Davis(IA)

BRIAN: Stefon Diggs is recovering from a broken leg that snuffed out his year 7 games in, but we've already got plenty of evidence that Diggs is the most explosive WR in the Big Ten. A five-star recruit with offers from everyone, Diggs put up 848 yards as a freshman and was on pace for 1090 before the injury last year. He made the All-ACC team as a freshman and is being projected as a first rounder a few places despite the leg and the uncertainty about whether he'll come out. 

I'm not particularly worried about that injury. Diggs returned to drills and 7-on-7 in early April, and broken bones are not the kind of thing you might worry about long term. He says he's faster than he was before despite being only 90%, and even if that's not true... I'll live with it.

The main issue with Diggs is that his production is dependent on his quarterback and his quarterback plays at Maryland and therefore will die six ways and be replaced by a linebacker midseason. Probable starter Caleb Rowe had 131 attempts last year and completed fewer than half of them. But in terms of my team, he's a perfect fit. Miller's good over the top and commands so much attention that WR screens feature one on one matchups. He's a guy who would be able to get a ton of free yards paired with Miller. Dana Holgorsen called him a "Tavon Austin clone"... except like four inches taller. As a bonus, he had two KR TDs as a freshman.

ROUND 3 - PICK 2: Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan

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[Bryan Fuller]

O: WR Devin Funchess (U-M), LT Brandon Scherff (Iowa)
D: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU)

ACE: I could drag out all the stats on how Funchess blew up once Michigan realized he's a wide receiver, period. I could tell you how awesome it is to have a 6'5", 230-pound living matchup nightmare on the outside. I could discuss in exacting detail how Funchess, just a true junior, should have by far his best season in 2014. I could mention the (terrifying) possibility that he'll be a first-round NFL Draft pick at this time next year.

But you know all that. So let's just admire the freaky athletic ability for a little bit:

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Is this a homer pick? I won't say no, though Funchess is the leading returning receiver in the entire conference.

Do I feel bad about it whatsoever? Noooooope.

INTERLUDE

BRIAN: That's no homer pick, man. Funchess is also getting first-round hype and with good reason. Not the reasons that the people picking Funchess in the first round have, like "is a tight end," but Funchess was the other guy before a big dip in available talent at WR.

ACE: Yeah, I mostly just wanted to set up that Archer reference. I would've taken Funchess here even if he played for Rutgers. Okay, maybe not Rutgers, but literally anyone else.

BISB: Anyone else? I'm picturing Funchess catching passes from Danny Etling, which would be a "Denard as pocket passer"-level crime against man-panda.

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sorry, I heard "crimes BY man-panda" –ed

ACE: I stand by my original statement.

Also, I am now dead.

[AFTER THE JUMP: additional man-panda crimes! Seth Dumars!]