This Week's Obsession: 98 or 7?

This Week's Obsession: 98 or 7?

Submitted by Seth on September 26th, 2014 at 6:01 PM

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[Fuller]

I scrapped the original question because there's a burning one out there:

Gardner or Morris? Who should start, who will start?

Ace: Before the press conferences this week, I'd still have gone with Gardner—despite his awful performances against Notre Dame and Utah, I think he still gives Michigan the best chance to win. We've seen him at his best—and playing at his best while overcoming injury and a horrendous O-line—and that best is right up there with any college QB, while Morris has yet to show much other than similarly inconsistent, turnover-prone play in his short time on the field. If this team needs to win now, and to save Brady Hoke's job they clearly do, I think Gardner is the play unless he's so broken physically/mechanically that it's impossible for him to scrape his ceiling. (I'm about 80% there on thinking this is the case, by the way, but last year's Ohio State game lingers in my mind as a strong counterpoint—remember, that performance came out of nowhere, and he had a broken foot to boot.)

That said, the way this has been handled publicly makes me believe Morris will be the starter—why not dispel the speculation if there isn't going to be a change?*—and at this point I think they have to go with that. Most fans believe Morris will be the starter and most are ready for the change now whether or not they were on board; if they head into the Big House thinking that way and Gardner is announced as the starter, there are going to be boos directed at that decision—which is basically booing Gardner, probably the person associated with the football program who least deserves that treatment—and that's just not going to help anything. I understand the reasoning behind putting Morris in—he's the future, the present option isn't going so well at all, and he gets the chance to learn on the fly in a game setting and hopefully improve before our very eyes—but it's a huge risk for Hoke if he goes there, especially if he sticks to his word that he won't rotate QBs.

Playing Gardner comes with its own risks, of course, but the biggest risk is still playing a QB with this career stat line: 36/67, 340 yards (5.1 YPA), 0 passing TDs, 4 interceptions.

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*Since the most common response I've seen to this is "so Minnesota has to prepare for Gardner," I'll note that there's no way in hell Minnesota isn't preparing for Gardner—and Morris, too—no matter what Brady Hoke says in a press conference.

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[jump for the rest of us]

Hokepoints: Three Questions I Can't Answer

Hokepoints: Three Questions I Can't Answer

Submitted by Seth on October 30th, 2012 at 12:00 PM

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Upchurch

So you saw Michigan's backup plan in case Denard gets knocked out early in a competitive game. The plan was Bellomy. And you saw Bellomy. With regard to the skills, talent, and preparation required to be a competitive Big Ten quarterback, Bellomy was terrible. The offense immediately imploded, Michigan's Rose Bowl chances dropped to "not likely" and we were left facing the bleakness of a Robinson-less future.

So long as nards were left to nard we were perfectly content to ignore things like an apparent lack of receiver talent, or whether the redshirt freshman backup QB we snake oiled away from Purdue could perform well enough in an important game scenario that nobody would think to ask about Jack Kennedy. We could even be blasé about what appears to be persistent offensive coaching mistakes. It was all masked by Wheeeeee!! Saturday the whee was taken away and we got our first real glimpse of the structure they're building underneath it. We've got questions.

1. When your freshman QB is 4 of 21 with 4 interceptions on the year, why not try the junior 5-star quarterback you've got playing receiver?

Everyone can pick a moment. For me it was Russell's first completion of the game, a 12-yard pass to Kerridge:

Alright open man! Get there! … It's still not there. Okay coverage isn't there yet either. But what's taking so long? Did it just sail? No it's on target. Okay here it comes. Catch! First down on the Utah thirty-eigh…oh dear god.

We already knew how bad it could get, but this suddenly looked like we had an outer bound for how good it could get. The feet weren't set, and a guy was coming toward his face, and he got rid of it to the open receiver for 12 yards. Except Kerridge had been open over there for several seconds. And then with that entire windup the ball delivered is a full Sheridan.

With the opponent blitzing their brains out there's going to be open receivers, and Bellomy can learn to find them quicker. But the guys can't stay open so long that defenders won't arrive sometime during the three seconds the ball's in the air. The weird dropsies when Bellomy is throwing the ball could be related to this as well. Accustomed to catching zippy Denard passes, the receivers I imagine are getting thrown off by the the extra half-second of waiting for the ball to arrive. They're losing focus, putting their minds downfield or setting off internal alarms that the coverage is arriving. You'll note in this game more than a few of Russell's open targets were lit up upon reception—the personal foul on Jackson is a good example. Simply the anticipation of such a hit is a known cause of drops.

The scary lack of arm strength raised a few questions, like why he was recruited in the first place if a cannon is a pre-req for Borgesian offense, but a more pressing and more dire query is how bad can Gardner be if they've got this dude under center instead of him?

He's playing receiver. In fact, for all his faults at receiver, he's better at that than our other options. It falls a little flat to say if he's not out there Jeremy Jackson would be, since Jeremy Jackson is out there all the damn time. More to the point, Gardner practiced all week at receiver, and sending him in unprepared would have been unfair, would undermine his confidence, and probably resulted in yackety crap like that which ended the 2011 Michigan State game.

Your brain as it watched Bellomy could not compute this because fan brains tend to hit the panic button and authorize the flinging of excrement in the hopes of finding anything that sticks. This is why it nodded sagely at things like "throw Cullen Christian in there" when the 2010 secondary was staggeringly bad. It cannot compute that things could possibly get worse. The thing is, things can possibly get worse. Obviously the coaches felt that putting an unprepared Gardner in to run "Gardner and stuff" wasn't an option.

Hoke made sure to stress the "if you don't practice during the week at quarterback you don't play" thing in his postgame presser, getting it in as a response to questions about Denard's readiness for Minnesota. I take that as a not-so-subtle reminder that this staff has more patience than the last one, and more patience than the fan-brain. Their plan seems to be if Denard goes down in-game it's Bellomy, but if we lose Robinson for a week or more, Gardner will be preparing for that game.

[More things I don't want to ask after THE JUMP]

Hokepoints: The Mid-Season Snarkening (Offense)

Hokepoints: The Mid-Season Snarkening (Offense)

Submitted by Seth on October 9th, 2012 at 11:07 AM

It's almost mid-season, so it's time to check in on the Draft-o-Snark teams and see how this whole Big Ten(nnnnnnnN!) thing is shaping up so far. Spoiler: euh.

Quarterbacks:

denarddropping

Who we drafted:

The sacks have been removed, and I've combined the rushing and passing totals.

# Player Team School Rtg YDs YPA(T) TDs(T) INTs
1 Denard Robinson SETH MICH 122.8 1,672 8.3 11 8
3 Braxton Miller* HEIKO OSU 127.6 1,915 8.3 17 3
6 Taylor Martinez* HEIKO NEB 139.9 1,732 8.6 17 4
7 James Vandenberg ACE IOWA 111.3 1,051 6.1 3 2
12 Nathan Scheelhaase BRIAN ILL 115.7 819 5.9 5 5
60 MarQueis Gray* BRIAN MIN 132.1 354 8.2 2 1
74 Kain Colter* ACE NW 114.3 536 5.8 4 0
94 Danny O'Brien HEIKO WIS 115.8 465 6.1 3 1
101 Andrew Maxwell* BRIAN MSU 109.8 1,447 6.2 6 3

*Heiko took Martinez as a running back, and Braxton Miller was turned into a fullback when he drafted Danny O'Brien. Andrew Maxwell was a backup option chosen in lieu of having a punter. Gray and Colter were taken strictly as wide receivers.

IMG_0133Who's winning: Heiko's running back, followed by Heiko's fullback. He is better off with either of those guys than his designated passer Danny O'Brien, who lost his job to Joel Stave (stah-VAY) after Week 2. The competition matters, but Taylor Martinez has been the conference's best quarterback so far, and Braxton Miller holds a strong second.

Denard looks really good in most stats but already has 8(!) interceptions. He's faced the hardest schedule so far (Alabama and Notre Dame) though nobody else threw 4 picks against Notre Dame, and guys like Miller have already faced MSU's DBs. Also Michigan has had a bye week, while most of the competition has played 6 games, so some of his totals are not quite comparable.

Of Brian's two guys, Scheelhaase has been barely productive. Weirdly he hasn't rushed much, just 160 yards on 34 carries for 4.7 YPC with sacks removed. So much for the new coach being a perfect fit. If you don't believe me when I say Denard's interceptions haven't all been that bad, watch a few of Scheelhaase's. His O-line isn't doing him any favors, FWIW. Maxwell has been a bit better than his worse-than-Vandenberg stats might tell you; those stats have been suppressed by awful receiver play, though he's sent his share and some to Tacopants and Nachoshorts as his offensive line deteriorated. I'm all this is Threet if Threet was in the right offense for his abilities.

Vandenberg isn't helping the Ace cause very much, failing to throw a touchdown the first three weeks against not-good secondaries; Iowa currently ranks 95th in pass vandenbear_originaloffense nationally and last in the Big Ten. He had a decent game last week against the toughest defensive backfield he's faced yet, unfortunately that was Minnesota's.

Guy we should have drafted (?): Nobody, really. Joel Stave's YPA will come down when a 62-yard screen to James White isn't 1/10th of his yardage, but he's still been impressive since taking over for O'Brien. That pass which ended with (Illini CB) Terry Hawthorne in the hospital was floated directly into the palms of his tight end along the sideline, in stride, and between two defensive backs. OTOH he has had the new-guy struggles.

QB Standings: 1. Heiko, 2. Seth, 3. Brian, 4. Ace. Should I penalize Heiko for turning the best two QBs in the conference (thus far) into RBs?

[Bad receivers, terrible offensive linemen, and an exclusive, dramatic reenactment of AIRBHG being foiled by Jewish Vin Diesel, after THE JUMP]

Hokepoints on the Day of Atonement

Hokepoints on the Day of Atonement

Submitted by Seth on September 25th, 2012 at 8:07 AM

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Of the totally surreal and unnecessary things that could ever happen, Denard Robinson issuing an apology for his play against Notre Dame ranks right up there with Ryan Van Bergen claiming fault for the 2010 defense. Not so much that he took responsibility—I wrote in my HTTV article that personal culpability is one the hallmarks of this team—but that watching from above I felt like he wasn't entirely at fault.

Part of that was the drunk dude in my section yelling "awwww c'mon!" at Denard, to which I felt responsibility to point out things like "play-action out of the I-form" or "Schofield just got beat bad." Part of it to was my own culpability for last week's article being all "hey Denard can pass and Borges is doing an incredible job!" So in the mea culpa spirit of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur (pretty much our Christmas) which begins tonight, I admit I have sinned, and that I'm not quite sure who sinned on all of our six turnovers this week. Let's find out where responsibility lies in this six-play al chet, using a combination of Seth's pathetic attempts at UFR-ing, with a bonus chart of culpability.

1. For the sin we have committed against you by trying to get too cute with Vincent Smith, who is not Tom Brady

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O10 1 G Ace TE Trips 1 1 3 4-4 under Pass RB Pass Dileo INT
Dileo and Roundtree lined up as H-backs on same side. Since it's a pass Dileo doesn't block Te'o, who shot into the gap the millisecond he read pitch and pressures Smith. Funchess blocked down an irrelevant crashing DE instead but that's the play. The CB bites hard so Dileo can leaks out into the end zone, where he has the safety beat to the corner, but Smith is 5'6 with the world's best college LB in his face. He jump-balls it way inside of his receiver, so when the safety looks back he is all "ooh, football--take." (INX, 0, Protection N/A, RPS –2)

When Michigan tried this against Minnesota it was from 30 yards out, and against Minnesota. It did get a guy open in the end zone, and was set up a little bit I believe by some pitch plays earlier. However leaving Te'o unblocked versus a tiny RB is a risk, but Smith has shown in games (and presumably many more times in practice) that he 8013857982_cf5e4abbb5_ocan throw the ball accurately enough.

What I really hated about this play call is there was no reason to get cute. This was meant to be a dagger play, just like the fake dive on 4th and 1 vs. Michigan State was meant to be the dagger in the trash storm game.

Borges likes his daggers. When Brian queried my UFR database on Michigan passing from Ace 3TE sets, I found the Funchess 30-yard (PA TE corner) and Gardner (Waggle) TDs, plus a PA dumpoff for good yards (until it was fumbled) against SD State last year. Daggers. Thing is about the grab-bag and dagger offense is that it doesn't adjust for things that are working, and until that point the offense was working. When Pompey backed out of Rome because he didn't have the troops to defend it, Caesar didn't say "oh waitaminute, this is a trap, I'm gonna go attack the Barbary Coast—ha ha they'll never suspect!" He walked into damn Rome.

Chart of culpability: Borges x2, ND Te'o is that good, Smith isn't Joe Montana

Mitigating Mitzvah: Jake Ryan sticks a receiver after he gains just 1 yard on 3rd and 4 from the ND37 to force a punt. ND shanks the punt.

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After the jump, five plays more depressing than using a day off of work to fast and contemplate what a terrible person you've been all year.

Hokepoints: Big Ten Receivers Suck

Hokepoints: Big Ten Receivers Suck

Submitted by Seth on September 5th, 2012 at 10:52 AM

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Site notice: "Museday" (at times also known as "Musenesday" and other things), is now and hereafter "Hokepoints." Because football is about having more points. Get it?

So we noticed something when doing that pre-season draft-o-snark thing: The receivers in our conference kind of suck. More accurately I should say that there are precious few proven wideouts coming back this year. Here's what the receiver draft board looked like, not counting RBs, TEs, or moonlighting defensive backs and whatnot:

Player School Ht Wt Yr YPG YPC TDs Drafted
Jared Abbrederis WIS 6'2 188 JR* 66.6 17.0 8 20 (Brian)
Keenan Davis IOWA 6'3 215 SR 59.4 14.3 4 26 (Ace)
Antavian Edison PUR 5'11 175 SR 44.9 13.3 3 n/a
Kofi Hughes IND 6'2 210 JR 44.7 15.3 3 41 (Seth)
Kenny Bell NEB 6'1 185 SO 35.5 14.4 3 57 (Seth)
Kain Colter NW 6'0 190 JR 35.2 10.7 3 74 (Ace)
Jeremy Gallon MICH 5'8 187 JR* 34.9 14.6 3 65 (Seth)
O.J. Ross PUR 5'10 188 JR 29.7 10.8 3 n/a
Demetrius Fields NW 6'0 210 SR 29.4 11.9 3 n/a
Roy Roundtree MICH 6'0 180 SR* 27.3 18.7 2 97 (Seth)
Kevonte Martin-Manley IOWA 6'0 205 SO 24.9 10.8 3 84 (Brian)
Devin Smith OSU 6'1 196 SO 22.6 21.0 4 103 (Ace)
DeAnthony Arnett MSU 5'11 170 SO 20.2 10.1 2 22 (Heiko)
Kyle Prater NW 6'5 215 SO 0.6 6.0 0 11 (Heiko)
Devin Gardner MICH 6'4 203 JR - - - 19 (Heiko)
MarQueis Gray MIN 6'4 250 SR - - - 60 (Brian)
Michael Thomas OSU 6'2 193 FR - - - n/a
Bennie Fowler MSU 6'1 218 JR - - - n/a

They're listed here by yards per game, which Mathlete says is a better gauge for receivers than hype. But however you rank them, we took many transfers and QBs before even considering the myriad Keenan Davisii who played Avant to the Braylons of departed McNutts. And by the end of the draft most of the available options were assorted Boilermakers dudes with about 30 ypg.

Whence all the receivers in our once receiver-rich league? A few theories to test:

  • Higher than normal attrition: Graduations being a relative constant, were there more juniors departing of the NFL, transfers, etc. than usual?
  • Comedown from riches of 2011: Maybe the best receivers last year were inordinately productive, leaving little opportunity for the rest. Test by % of production not returning vs. previous years.
  • Cascade effect from recruiting shortfalls: Perhaps there was a league-wide lull in receiver recruiting in '09-'10 that we're not feeling the effects from.
  • Quarterbacks: the more they run the less they pass: This one's obvious but the conference has gone more spread-to-run, even at the top programs, meaning there's a lot fewer opportunities for WRs to show what they've got.

We dig in after THE JUMP.

Practice Items: Devins Will Catch

Practice Items: Devins Will Catch

Submitted by Brian on August 25th, 2012 at 1:16 PM

[The Mott practice this year was not a punting exhibition (at which my internal monologue went WOOOOOO) so there are a few things to discuss.]

Michigan's Devin Gardner high fives fans as he runs out of the Michigan Stadium tunnel for pregame warmups before Saturday, November 6th's Michigan versus Illinois football game.
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com

The biggest takeaway. Devin Gardner took zero QB snaps and was on the first team as a WR. I think they moved him full-time. Swingin' for the fences.

Gardner didn't do anything spectacular in his limited opportunities, dropping one long ball and not quite bringing in a high hard one, but he certainly looks the part. Seeing him in 12 is still weird, and now Dileo is 9, and if I was Brady Hoke I'd be all like "you get one number and that is your number" but he might have different priorities. Maybe.

Devin Funchess. As first impressions go… wow. He is lanky and doesn't look like he'll be much use as a blocker early, but man is that guy a big target. Looks all of 6'5" and has freaky long arms. He was the only TE to get targeted in their kind-of-actually-playing segment; he caught a touchdown on a corner route (it got raked out but after the catch was secured) and was targeted on a late-release wheel route. If he can catch, he is going to crush Mandich's TE receiving record.

Not a whole lot to decide. I expected to have a blizzard of things to try and figure out but when the first team defense came out in a nickel package I was like "oh, right, they return basically everyone." Other than the line, there were zero surprises except for a couple of Mario Ojemudia WDE cameos.

On offense, it was "is Mealer starting" and "OMG Gardner"… and that was it. Consistency is good.

DL starting Washington? This is tentative, but the first DL set they ran out there was Roh-Washington-Campbell-Black. (IE: Washington at the nose, Campbell at the three-tech.) Beyer also showed up at WDE; Brink was the backup SDE.) Apparently Jerry Montgomery told someone that those guys were the starters as of this instant, but I can't find it. People are talking about it on message boards like it's a real thing, though.

Anyway: they showed the usual nickel package where they lifted the nose tackle types and moved the SAM down to DE and the heavy package where both SAM linebackers are in the game. All was as expected except for a couple snaps in a dime package that they didn't show at all last year.

[UPDATE: Ace points out that this comes from Tom Dienhart's BTN coverage.]

James Ross. Ross was your backup WLB, which isn't much of a surprise with Poole and Ringer hurt. He'll play.

Richard Ash. I kept an eye out for Ash as I'm hoping he can give Michigan some snaps as a rotation DT after he made a couple of nice plays in the spring game. He didn't get in much, if at all, but he certainly looks a lot better conditioned. He used to look like a battleship that had no chance of moving; now he looks relatively trim.

Mealer started. Your first team LG was Mealer.

Chris Wormley. Hasn't had surgery yet for whatever reason.

No Rawls. No idea why. They ran some passing stuff with Justice Hayes that seemed to work pretty well, and did the Vincent Smith throwback screen that always works.

It was good to see football. You're just sitting in the stadium and there's actual snaps being taken in front of you and your lizard brain is going FOOTBALL FOOTBALL FOOTBALL and you're like "I know exactly how you feel, lizard brain."

Heiko takes. Are on the board. FWIW, they ran that hook and ladder a dozen times last year. I think it's just for show.

Big Ten Draft O' Snark: All Big Ten Team

Big Ten Draft O' Snark: All Big Ten Team

Submitted by Seth on August 22nd, 2012 at 9:14 AM

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Several weeks ago Brian sent me an e-mail to say we're going to have a fantasy draft of Big Ten players called "The Draft Where Whoever Picks Denard Wins," and that I was on the clock. (Parts II, III, and IV)

People of the Earth: this is how you recruit for a fantasy league. Actually this is how if you're a college sports site editor you motivate your hypercompetitive (Michigan grads, remember?) staff to become insane experts on the rest of the conference right before football season begins. For that reason, despite quarterbacks chosen out of position and so so much snark, right now we feel as competent as anyone at putting out one of those All-Such-and-Such list things.

The draft is still going on and some of the picks we've made have yet to be revealed, however we have tagged enough positions at this point to post an official-ish pre-season All Big Ten team. There's a few specialists I'll include but won't reveal who drafted them. I'll also follow up either next week or later on this week with a "what we learned about the Big Ten" post that breaks down all the picks by team. This one's about the best by position.

Site note: We're bringing back jumps again so we can fit more content on the front page for you during the season. You see the "Read more" thing below this? CLICK THAT to get to the good stuff.

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-8-12: Al Borges

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-8-12: Al Borges

Submitted by Heiko on August 9th, 2012 at 9:16 AM

Al Borges

Opening remarks:

"Okay. Who’s going to break the ice?"

With Fitz out for a while, how quickly will you be able to identify your next No. 1 RB?

“Well we’re just going to the next guy. We’re not really changing anything. Thomas Rawls is going to be that next guy. Vince is going to do what he’s done, and on we go. I think the key to these situations from a game plan perspective is to try to make as little out of it, to make it as seamless as you can, and just go.”

What can you glean from the first few practices?

“Not much. I mean, what do you see? They’re just running around in shorts. Until somebody’s going to hit somebody and somebody’s going to do something, it’s really just kind of glorified aerobics in a lot of ways. I hate to put it that way, but you know, we have a few kids run pretty good. We’ll learn more today because we’re in half pads and we’ll learn even more towards the end of the week. To make any hard and fast assessments of where we are is really hard to do right now. It is. I’m not copping out, I’m just telling you this. We know more about the offense, but we kind of knew that before we even lined up. That part is better.”

Does that mean Vince is just a third down guy?

“No. Not necessarily. Vince is going to pretty much play the same role as he did a year ago, and that wasn’t always on third down. So he was in there sometimes to spell backs, and we’ll just see how it shakes out, but Thomas is going to get a good chance, and Vince is going to get a good chance. Justice Hayes is in the fold, too. So we’ll kind of see, and again these next few days -- not few days, but really this next week or so, when we start and the full contact takes hold, we’ll learn more about that situation.”

Have you talked much to Fitz?

“A little bit. As much as I ever do, ya know. ‘Hi Fitz, what’s going on, how ya feelin.’ Yeah, I mean. I talk to all offensive players at one time or another. But yeah, that’s about it.”

You’ve been around Rawls. What do you like about his style and what he brings to the table?

“He’s reckless. He runs with a demeanor that’s aggressive. Suffice to say, aggressive would be the best word -- he looks like he’s mad when he runs sometimes. But he’s a tough guy, and if you hit him you’re going to feel him, I promise you that. You are going to feel him, because there’s times when he’s just simply not interested in avoiding you.”

In your offense, how do you choose where to place your X and Z receivers? Does it make a difference?

“Yeah, it does make a difference, but optimal thing is you’d like to have a guy that plays the position. But the X receiver tends to draw a little more single coverage depending on the team. Some teams that’s not true, and he’s on the line of scrimmage most of the time, so he’s going to draw tighter press coverage, too, whereas the flanker’s not going to draw quite as much tight coverage. The X is a guy that’s got to be kind of rangy because he’s got to be able to get some jump balls. The Z does sometimes, too. The Z’s got to be a guy that moves around a lot more. He’s going to be in more formations than the X is, so he’s got to be on the ball with regard to that. But the skill set in terms of being able to catch, run, and jump, it’s very similar. But once we get them there we try and kind of fit the guys that look like they can handle those things I talked about better.”

What role do you envision Jeremy Gallon to be in?

“Pretty much more the same, with a little bit more seasoning, if that makes any sense. He’s a tough guy. He plays much bigger than his size. You just don’t see a lot of guys his height that can go up and get jump balls like he does. He’s a very good blocker. But what I’d say in answer to that question is that every phase of his game should be a little better simply because of his overall understanding of what we’re trying to do. But he’s a reliable kid, and the quarterbacks have faith in his ability to go get the ball. They know they’ll get his best effort every time he goes up. I would look for him as well as Roy, who’s really [had an outstanding spring] -- both of them have taken that next step. Now I hope we get some carryover once we start playing.”

How much do you think you can use Devin at receiver?

“Well, that’s going to be a lot by game plan, but we’re developing him at two different positions, and let me tell you that’s a challenge. For a kid to be an occasional player is one thing, but to be a guy that you’re really kind of splitting time with, that’s a challenge, but we’ll just see how that shakes out. That’s still kind of in the embryonic stages. As we go, we’ll decide how much of it we’re going to use.”

Do you expect to use him more at one position or another?

“He could -- it depends. I can’t commit to that because you don’t know. At the end of the day, maybe, but we’re trying to exploit every option at this point.”

Does the decision to play Devin at wide receiver mean you have more confidence in Russell Bellomy’s ability as a backup quarterback?

“Yeah. I have more confidence in all their abilities. Any way you cut it, Russell Bellomy’s going to have to take the next step, just like we’re asking everybody else to do. So yeah. I think that’s the key point. You have to develop three quarterbacks. At this point, anyway. Now once you get into the season and you decide how you distribute all that, you’re really working just with two quarterbacks, but we have to see how this whole thing shakes out. Right now we’re still an open book, but we do have some nice options, and right now that’s all you can ask for.”

Have you consulted any other coaches who have dealt with players splitting time between two positions?

“Uh, no not really. No, I tell you what we did do when I was at UCLA is we came here when [Michigan] had Charles Woodson. We came for a spring. Just curious because we had a kid there who we were talking about doing some of that stuff with. But that was different. It was a little different because Charles was playing in a defensive and offensive position. He had this completely different deal. You have to learn two different systems. But Devin’s … in the same system. Learning, hearing the same words all the time. But I can still remember doing that.”

Have you done this with many players in the past?

“A few. A couple over the years, yeah. One time or another you’re forced to do some of that. Sometimes you’re just short on depth, particularly when I coached lower levels when you didn’t have all the scholarships, you know. You had to have some kids that were versatile, so it was through necessity.”

Any examples?

“Oh god, I don’t even remember anymore. God I’d have to walk in the room -- I don’t remember.”

How hard is it for a kid to split time?

“It’s tough because there’s not that many reps. You get X amount of reps and you have to figure out how to get them those reps without killing them. It’s hard. It’s not easy to do.”

You said you’ll see “how it shakes out.” Can you determine that by the end of fall camp?

“Well we determine it before we get to a game situation because we have a game plan, right? You have to make some hard and fast decisions before you get to game time because you have to have a plan going into the game. You can’t do that experiment. And I will say this, too: once you get into the game, it better work out at least in part how you wanted it to, or you’re gonna have to make some adjustments, but at one point in time, we have to have an idea how many reps everybody’s going to play. You know what I mean? Not just him, but everybody -- where and when and what situations. That’s part of game planning.”

Does it help Devin that he’s practicing at two positions that have to work together so closely?

“I think so. Yeah I do.”

Are Devin and Bellomy 1A and 1B?

“No, Devin’s still the second quarterback. That part of it doesn’t change.”

Any impressions of the freshman receivers?

“Eh … nah. I ain’t doin’ it. Nah. I could [say], ‘This guy’s great, that guy’s great,’ then tomorrow you put pads on and go, ‘Oh my god.’ No. Ask me in a week and I’ll probably have a better assessment.”

Does Devin’s switch to receiver show off his athleticism more?

“Yeah. Yeah, and that’s why we did it. Some quarterbacks are quarterbacks and that’s all they are. We’re fortunate in that we have really a couple good quarterbacks that can probably play [receiver] … and he’s one of those guys. You know, he’s a big guy that can run and has good hands. So I mean it’d be bad coaching if he’d be standing next to me the whole game when you have a guy who can really help us. Last year we were pretty deep at that position so it wasn’t as critical, but I think this year he can play more of a part.”

Thoughts on offensive line chemistry?

“Eh, again, it’s just so hard to call, but I know that those kids worked their butts off in the offseason. They did. And they worked together as much as they could. I think that’s something that if it’s not there now, it’s going to come because I know how important it is to those kids.”

MGoQuestion: How do you evaluate the effectiveness of the deuce package, and will you consider using it again this season?

“Well I had my analyst do a -- I believe we were eight-point-something yards [per attempt]. I’m not sure exactly. I don’t have it in front of me, but it was good. And even the plays that weren’t good set up plays that were good. You know what I mean. There were guys we’d run a play that wouldn’t yield much, only to be set up by another play that did. It’s not always the play, sometimes It’s the residual effect of the initial play. So it was good. Now how much we use of it? I don’t know. That’s a game plan deal. As we get through the install and we see where we are, we’ll decide on that. But we’re not doing any of that stuff now. That’s not what we’re about right now. We’re about teaching the system and getting our valuations straight. And once we do that, then and only then will we start playing with some of the more I guess cute phases of our offense. I hate using that word. Why’d I say that.”

You mentioned starting Denard off a little too quickly with the pro-style concepts. How do you approach it this year?

“Well we have a lot better feel for what we are. You know what I mean. We knew Denard was a good spread quarterback. I mean, anybody could see that. It was a matter of how much he could do of what we’d done in the past -- because we were always going to have some of that in our offense. We decided that when we came here. We decided that when I took the job. So once we decided what percentages that was, then we could proceed accordingly. We have so much better feel for that now because we’ve been through a fall, a spring, we know basically how much we want to be of both. It’s different now. It’s different without a question.”

Can you make a determination on certain position battles -- like left guard -- by a certain date? Do you have a timetable?

“I would never put a date on it because it could change the day before the game, you know what I mean? But there is a point in time when you have to narrow the field down to how many kids you’re going to practice in scout teams. And that’ll be sometime within a couple weeks to the game -- within at least a week and a half to the game. We have not set that date yet, but at that time it’s fish or cut bait. You have to take the 18 to 20 players that you’re going to practice with every single day, then kind of go from there.”

Unverified Voracity Is Giving You The Silent Treatment

Unverified Voracity Is Giving You The Silent Treatment

Submitted by Brian on August 7th, 2012 at 12:26 PM

Colt DelVerneHelp Colt. Former Michigan kicker Jeff DelVerne has a four-year old kid with a brain tumor. They're having a golf scramble/lunch/silent auction on September 15th in Ottawa Lake. Click the flyer at right for a bigger version with details; RSVPs are requested by September 1st.

You can also provide direct help here.

Well what was the point of that then? As you may have spotted on the message board, Michigan has updated its roster for fall and changed a large number of the weights they just issued to the media in Chicago. For example, Willie Henry is now 314 pounds, up from 302, and seems all but certainly destined to be a nose tackle down the road. Other notable changes:

  • Terry Richardson is +8 to 162, which is better but still too small to see the field.
  • RJS is +7 to 213, which ditto.
  • Mario Ojemudia is vaguely plausible at 231 (+8).
  • Ben Braden is down 11 to 308.
  • Chris Wormley is +11 to 279, i.e. one pound more than Craig Roh.
  • Ricardo Miller is down to 226 from 234 last year.

Either Willie Henry's high school weights were massively outdated or he's put on a lot of weight he'll have to reshape over the next year or two. It's probably a combo. Meanwhile, the slight Chris Wormley redshirts just evaporated.

Who likes touchdowns? You do.

You: don't talk to anyone. As Heiko noted yesterday, the proverbial Fort is back and in full effect:

Michigan's athletic department has made a few changes regarding media access for the upcoming season:

  • Players' family members cannot be interviewed without permission from the athletic department. 
  • Freshmen will be withheld from media day.
  • Practice will be closed to all media.

When asked why these changes were being made, an athletic department spokesman said "are you stepping to the man?" and delivered a Degeneration X crotch chop in the general direction of the media.

This is probably good for the site since it relies less on that whole "talking to people" thing—gross—than traditional media, but as a fan I'm disappointed. Ohio State is taking the opposite tack, letting media into dang near anything. Eleven Warriors is bringing back observations like this

Day Two of Urban Meyer's first fall camp at Ohio State may have been the best offensive practice since his arrival. Quarterback Braxton Miller delivered the goods and wide receivers Devin Smith and Evan Spencer finally looked like the skill position players Meyer offenses always covet.

Another bright spot has been the emergence of Meyer's first recruiting class. The two-deep is littered with freshmen with everything pointing to several playing Sept. 1.

…and Michigan media is going to recycle press conference quotes until there's a game. Ohio State even signed up for the ESPNU show that's essentially college Hard Knocks, a prospect that caused several Michigan athletic department staffers to expire from massive cerebral hemorrhages when they heard the news and made the mistake of thinking about having cameras at practice. I'm openly dreading this upcoming Mott practice thing since it's just going to be 90 minutes of punting drills again.

This is of course fine as long as Michigan wins football games, but it's just another way in which it feels like the program feels its fans are not part of the team.

CAMERAS AT PRACTICE /dozens die Doug Karsch and his weird hair wisp bring you the officially-sanctioned version of what went on inside said Fort:

Within, we find out that:

  • Michigan is playing Alabama
  • This is fall camp
  • They have sleds
  • The practice jerseys are even more ADIDAS
  • KOVACS!
  • DENARD!
  • I'm sorry, I forgot what I was saying.

Coming soon: no talking to former players either. But before that happens, TTB catches up with Troy Woolfolk:

The main difference between the coaching staffs is that Coach Hokestresses physicality.  We would do drills that had nothing to do with football, but just to see the toughness in the player.  We'd do this one drill where there was just this towel on a mat.  And at the beginning there're two people holding it, and one person had to eventually take it from the other person.  It gets really rough down there; people get bloody noses and stuff.  It teaches you into becoming a man and how to hold yours. . . . [If Coach Hoke came to Michigan in 2008], we probably would have won a National Championship in 2011."

Jake Ryan is his pick for a breakout player this year.

Yes anonymous snark. Athlon Sports takes up the Sporting News baton by publishing anonyomous coaches' takes on their conferencemates. These are usually great. I mean:

“I hated to see the Zooker get let go last season, but you could see it coming."

My assumption remains that all of these come from Joe Tiller. Unfortunately, the Michigan one is really boring.

Gardner WR Gardner WR Gardner WRRRRR. Apparently I'm naming my Roomba "Gardner." Anyway, WR hype is collected by Nick Baumgardner:

"He's a great athlete, I feel like he could play anywhere and he could probably take my spot if he tried," Michigan senior safety Jordan Kovacs said. "He's a natural athlete, and if they play him at receiver, I'm sure he'll be pretty good.

"Wherever he plays, he's going to make big plays."

This is going to be a fascinating subplot. Here's hoping he's ridiculously good. That probably goes without saying.

Deathborg pairing is go. Michael Spath talks to Billy Powers about Jon Merrill's return and comes back with news about who his partner will be to start. It will be Trouba:

"We have some very nice pieces to work with this season, and if those two get together early, and it's a pair we really like, you could see them stick together for most of the year," Powers said. "It's not set in stone, but we like to have a veteran guy with a young guy and that's a pair you could really see emerging into something special."

If Merrill manages to maintain his form from his 6-10 games and avoids the slide that he suffered towards the end of the year, that will be a killer pairing. Now if Red would only ride it like it was an intergalactic space donkey. If that works out like you think it might, those guy should be 30 minutes a night players.

In other hockey news, new 2015 commit Brendan Warren makes me feel old by being born the year I graduated from high school. He's the usual: supposed NTDP lock who may or may not arrive the high end prospect he's expected to be.

He's a top seven guy. Trey Burke finishes seventh in a CBS Sports poll that asked college coaches "if you could add any one player to your team for next season, who would it be?"

The list:

  1. Indiana sophomore Cody Zeller: 35 percent
  2. UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad: 12 percent
  3. Ohio State junior Aaron Craft: 9 percent
  4. Creighton junior Doug McDermott: 9 percent
  5. Murray State senior Isaiah Canaan: 7 percent
  6. Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel: 7 percent
  7. Michigan sophomore Trey Burke: 5 percent

Impressive company. I'm a little surprised to see Aaron Craft in third place, but I'm telling you guys who can affect the game without using possession are super valuable. That's another reason to get excited about Zak Irvin, who sounds like a lockdown perimeter defender.

BONUS: updated rankings have started to come out. Scout relents and moves Irvin into their top 100 at 62; Walton is 43 and Donnal 80. IIRC both of the latter guys are essentially static. MaxPreps has close to identical rankings of Walton (42) and Donnal (73) but Irvin is near five-star status for them at 26. Both ESPN and Rivals have repeatedly praised Walton and Irvin this summer, so bumps are expected when those services debut new rankings.

The "W" stands for "I put no effort into this, not even figuring out what W stands for." Apparently both teams in the Wisconsin-Nebraska game this fall are going to look like they're wearing crappy UTL knockoffs. Nebraska's uniforms were pretty meh but Wisconsin's are self-parodying:

wisconsinfront[1]WisconsinProfile[1]

I don't think that's electrical tape but it could be. Best UW take: "They're the uniform equivalent of scheduling Wofford."

Etc.: Jerald Robinson pleads to his minor destruction of property thing. UMHoops has scouting video of Derrick Walton's 16/13/7 performance in the Adidas 64 championship game. Slovenia! Has anyone noticed that the #6 team in the country according to the coaches' poll has 70 scholarship players? Also, 2012 USC as the overhyped 2008 Georgia team.

The Big East could get a real TV deal. NBC Sports to the rescue. Trey Burke, Jordan Morgan, and Corey Person purchase lemonade. Basketball's game vs NC State is at 7:30 on ESPN.

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-6-12: Brady Hoke

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-6-12: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on August 6th, 2012 at 9:24 PM

Michigan's athletic department has made a few changes regarding media access for the upcoming season:

  • Players' family members cannot be interviewed without permission from the athletic department. 
  • Freshmen will be withheld from media day.
  • Practice will be closed to all media.

This is just a heads up. Shutting off practice is the only item that affects MGoBlog directly, but it's not a huge loss. Last year I attended a few Tuesday practices and took a couple photos, but I didn't see anything other than stretching and a hand-off. If they're going to do things like throw a Jordan Kovacs jersey on Matt Cavanaugh anyway, nothing is left to be gained. No complaints from me. 

The other two items, however, will significantly affect the MSM (main stream media for those new to this blog). Enterprising features about David Molk's mother, Kovacs's journey as a walk-on, and Denard Robinson's humble beginnings will be harder to come by, as I predict that access will be granted sparingly and only to preferred media outlets. I doubt we'll see any freshmen this season, and relationships with their family members formed during the recruiting process will no longer be viable sources. Hail to the VictorsTM.

BREAKING, RELATED: Will Campbell dropped the F-bomb today (transcript tomorrow), so here's to never hearing from him again.

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

Brady Hoke

News bullets and other important items: 

  • Fitz Toussaint and Frank Clark did not practice today; judgment has not yet been passed.
  • Jerald Robinson did practice.
  • Antonio Poole is out with a pec injury. 
  • Ricardo Miller is playing both U-back TE and receiver.
  • Devin Gardner is taking reps at receiver.

I feel like there's something between us.

Opening remarks:

“Ready to go? All right. Thanks for coming out. For us, it was the first day back out there with a new football team. It’s always fun. There’s a lot of questions out there that we’ll continue to have as we go through this fall camp. I thought there’s some excitement, some chippyness, which is always good because there’s some competition. And that’s an important part of every day. We’re going to manufacture that as much as we can and put stress on our players and get them out of their comfort zone so that Saturdays are easy. That’s part of what the plan has always been. I thought we had a pretty good day. We got some good work as a team. Obviously when you’re going out there without pads on, helmets on, it can be deceiving at times, but I liked how we practiced with only helmets on. I thought they did a nice job with that. Thought the seniors and the guys who have played a lot of football at Michigan -- they’ve really taken an accountability, so that part of it is exciting and it was a good first day.”

Did Fitz Toussaint and Frank Clark participate?

 “They did not participate.”

Will they?

“I don’t know that.”

When will you make a decision on that?

“When I make it, I guess. When? I don’t know.”

What’s your hope and expectation for Schofield at tackle?

“What I like about him is that he has some good game experience from a year ago being at guard. I think his athleticism, I think his maturity -- when you look at the group as a whole, genetically I think we look better from what we did physically during the summer. He’s one of those guys who’s stronger. He’s one of those guys who I think the maturity level -- everyone’s a little different, but I think he’s pretty serious about it.”

With Frank Clark out, who will compete with Brennen Beyer, and how will he respond to the competition?

“I think when you talk about him responding, he’s always responded. He’s a competitive kid. He loves to play. I think he’s done a tremendous job. Mario Ojemudia is a guy we can play at that position. We can put Jake Ryan back down there and play him there and move Cam Gordon up and rotate some linebackers around if we had to. So when you look at it, there’s some freshmen who are going to get some looks obviously throughout our football team, depthwise. I’m not too worried about it.”

Jake Ryan’s been a playmaker without a whole lot of technique. How do you refine that technique?

“I think through the spring he got better. Greg did a nice job coaching him every day. I think Jake probably became [a] more focused and intense football player, so his fundamentals would improve, his technique would improve. You still like some of the natural things that he does instinctively best that he does at times.”

Given that the entire staff is back, is there some continuity?

“I think there is. I think there is from the standpoint that -- and I know Kovacs said this in Chicago. They [have] the same coaches, and they [have] the same playbook and the same terminology. So I think all those things are a big part of it, which help it.”

What does a “good practice” mean on day 1?

“Well we lined up right. We didn’t have too many balls on the ground. Didn’t have a whole lot of penalties. Personally I like it when it’s a little chippy. Come out with an attitude to compete with each other.”

Will Campbell.

“Well I think it would help our team an awful lot. He’s got a great atittude. He’s really become a tremendous leader of our football team in a lot of ways. He’s worked his tail off during the summer from everything I’ve heard from players on this team. He really was a guy who led by example and then when he had to get after somebody, he’s not afraid to do that.”

Is it uplifting when that kind of thing comes from the players?

“No question. If we have to lead -- if I have to lead or the coaches have to lead the team, we aren’t going to be any good.”

Is that why you think Campbell’s going to be better?

“I’d be surprised if he didn’t because of his work ethic and his toughness and his leadership.”

Is lack of playing time a factor in his development?

“Well I think that’s part of it and when you play a couple different positions a couple different times around -- you’ve been in three different defenses when you did play defense, I think there’s a continuity level that you like to have.”

How do you know that a guy is going to be good before Sept. 1?

“I don’t know that you do. Some guys get in front of those big crowds and they just don’t quite play as well maybe as they practice. I just like his work ethic and what he’s done and not just physically but the mental part of playing the game of football.”

What about Ricky Barnum makes you think he’ll be ready?

“I think again there’s a guy who’s played some snaps. His work ethic, I mean, his leadership, you know I think Ricky’s got a really good quickness. I think that’s one of the pluses of a center that he has. Plays with pretty good leverage. I just like him.”

How is his chemistry with Denard?

“Well we’ve only had one day, but it was pretty good today. What I’ve seen of it. Now again, we’re out there in shorts. It’s a little different.”

Have you seen Denard be more of a vocal leader?

“Well I’ve seen that from him probably since the end of spring and through the end of summer. I think his maturity for the position and at the position has been really good. I thought today, again, we’re one day in. I thought he did a nice job of getting the offense where they needed to be from place to place and from practice. Talking with his receivers whether it was skelly or one-on-one and just how he runs the huddle.”

How different is that from how he was the first day of practice last year?

“Oh I don’t know. If I had to measure it, I couldn’t tell you that. I think what we observe, I think it’s there.”

What’s the goal of practices without pads?

“Well there’s a lot of installation obviously. The veterans are pretty clued into most of it. You always maybe tweak some things on either side of the ball during the course of spring and summer a little bit. You look at opponents, maybe somebody’s doing [something] that fits your scheme. There’s those kinds of things. I think it really is trying to establish the physicalness that we’re trying to play with.”

Have you decided how you’ll split Devin Gardner’s reps?

“Not yet. Again, it’s one day.”

Did Jerald Robinson practice?

“Yes.”

Is his punishment effectively over?

“Yes.”

How long does it take before you make decisions regarding position battles?

“We evaluate it every day. We evaluate the kids we’ll meet here in about an hour as a staff, and we’ll go through practice and talk about it. The coaches right now, they’re already into the tape, so they’re looking at it, so when we meet we’ll talk about them. From what we did in the special teams today and the different things we did there to how they [did in] the seven-on-seven, how the nine-on-seven went, the full line stuff. And trying to do a good job of talking about where everybody is as a staff. We’ve got walkthroughs in the morning, and we’ll meet before that and talk about it, then we’ll talk about it afterwards.”

Stephen Hopkins looks more like a fullback now with his weight gain. What will be his role?

“I think Steph is one of those guys who has good understanding and has accepted that role in a real positive way. I think he’s grown a lot maturity wise. I can just tell you from 18 months or however long it’s been we’ve been here, I think it’s really for the position. I think he’s become a teammate. So his role will depend on the game plan and what we want to do. I think he fits a great role for us.”

Has Al Borges used a fullback extensively before? Catching the ball, running the ball …

“Oh yeah. A whole lot.”

Did everybody show up?

“Yeah. Yeah.”

Any injuries?

“Nope.”

Poole?

“He’s the only one.”

Diagnosis?

“Well, his pec.”

You were pushing Kenny Demens pretty hard in the spring. How has he done so far?

“I think he’s done a good job. I think Kenny is, again -- these guys who are getting ready to play their last year, they finally realize that you tell them for three or four years it doesn’t last forever. I think those guys, there’s always a little difference in their approach in a positive way, and Kenny’s one of those guys.”

Overall, are you happy with the condition of the players?

“Oh yeah. I’m very happy with it. And they do a nice job. They’ve done a nice job and they had a little time off. The guys who have finished with school were able to go home for five, six days before we came back. I think they came back ready to go.”

How has Kovacs changed over the past year?

“I don’t know if he has. I think Kovacs has always been a guy who’s had a lot of passion and love for the game of football. He’s a guy that’s very instinctive. He’s smart. He’s got a love for Michigan, and if anywhere he probably feels a little more comfortable and confident talking when he needs to say something.”

Is that steadiness part of who he is, and do you think others feed off it?

“I think they do. I do think it makes him who he is.”

Ricardo Miller was a tight end last fall, a wide receiver in the spring, and yesterday he was a tight end again.

“Well he’s playing both. I think from a weight standpoint and everything he’s still going to be an edge guy, U-back guy, wide receiver guy. So he’s working them both.”

What do you most want to see from the team to know that you’re ready to go?

“Well, I really hope we’re a tough football team. And a physical football team. We have the mental toughness in how we prepare, to prepare at a high level, to play fast as a team, which means you’re confident and you’re knowing what you’re doing. There’s a physicalness to that because there’s an intensity to it. I think that’s what we would like to see.”

Is Miller back going back to tight end due a depth problem?

“Well you got some death issues -- uh death, DEPTH -- depth issues, that’s part of it. You have some depth that you want to look at at wide receiver, too. Right now he’s kind of a guy who can be a swing U-back for you and play wide receiver.”

Any freshmen who have impressed you?

“Some of those guys -- most of them, they’re finishing classes so they’re kind of running in and out. So to be honest with you, no.”

What did you think about Denard’s speech at the B1G luncheon?

“I think he did an amazing job. I thought he really told a story and did it how Denard would do it. And I think that’s what you want out of your players. Just like your captains. You want them to be who they are.”

Do you know when you’ll choose your captains?

“No that’s not for a couple more weeks. Usually we do it the Saturday or Sunday before game week.”

Rawls runs angry, mean, and fast. Is that how you would describe him? Also, re: Devin. Did he take snaps at receiver today?

“Yeah. And Rawls is angry.”

How so?

“He just runs hard. He runs hard, he’s hard to tackle, he’s physical, he’s got pretty good balance. Between Justice Hayes and Thomas and Vince, they all got carries.”

Did Jibreel Black show up with a good weight on him?

“He did. He’s not near as big as his brother who plays at Indiana. I don’t know if his body can be that, but he did a good job of working hard to put some weight on him. He and Craig both did a tremendous job. I think how he is able to keep it during camp, and I don’t know what the weather is going to be. I’m hoping it’s hot like it had been for at least 10 days, because that’s good for us. You know, I sweat a little more, maybe lose a pound. You know, that’s always good. But I just think how he manages that …”

How’s the punting battle shaping up?

“It’s a heck of a battle.”