Preview 2013: Defensive End

Preview 2013: Defensive End

Submitted by Brian on August 28th, 2013 at 2:39 PM

Previously: Podcast 5.0, The Story, Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receiver, Tight End and Friends, Offensive Line, Defensive Tackle.

A note before we start: this preview relies heavily on the defensive UFRs of last year because there’s a convenient numerical system that does a decent job of summing up a defensive player’s contributions. One caveat: the system is generous to defensive linemen and harsh to defensive backs, especially cornerbacks. A +4 for a defensive end is just okay; for a cornerback it’s outstanding.

Depth Chart
STRONG DE Yr. NOSE TACKLE Yr. 3-TECH Yr. WEAK DE Yr.
Keith Heitzman So.* Quinton Washington Sr.* Jibreel Black Sr. Frank Clark Jr.
Chris Wormley Fr.* Ondre Pipkins So. Willie Henry Fr.* Mario Ojemudia So.
Matt Godin Fr.* Richard Ash Jr.* Ryan Glasgow Fr.*# Taco Charlton Fr.

Strongside Defensive End

Rating: 2

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This is a two-or-three-way battle that will last into the season. The tentative guy at the top of the depth chart is redshirt sophomore KEITH HEITZMAN [recruiting profile], who backed up Craig Roh last year and was… well, pretty blah. He got crushed inside too often to have done well, and did freshman things like blow up the QB on speed options instead of stringing out to make the quarterback make a tough decision. I didn't actually grab a positive highlight from him last year, and I usually make a point to clip out something from a player I haven't seen do thing X before. His only good game in UFR was against Minnesota; most of the rest of the year he was around –1.

That's not to write him off. Heitzman was a low-rated recruit (actually a Vandy decommit) scooped up in the first-year Hoke blitz who needed to bulk up from the 240 pounds he was listed at as a recruit. Those guys usually take time. Now at 280, Heitzman is better equipped to hold up against the pounding.

Now that he's older and larger, expect plugging. He is the platonic opposite of Jake Ryan. Hoke:

Tell us about Heitzman.

"Keith doesn't do anything flashy. He just gets his job done. He's just truly one of those lunch pail guys who goes to work every day. Doesn't say much. Doesn't talk much. Just goes out and plays."

I… I've got nothing else here. I scoured the site for something interesting someone might have said about him, came up with that quote and a couple near-identical ones from last season (Q: What is Heitzman doing to get more playing time? A: Getting better). Now I'm out. Heitzman remains something of a mystery.

The bet here is an unremarkable season with a lot of platooning. Heitzman will play a lot of running downs, get pulled on passing downs (Black will take over as another WDE moves into the lineup), hold up decently, and get a lot of half-points in UFR for constricting holes. The upside here is low—at least for this year.

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HAIR ZOOM 2013

Heitzman's main competition is CHRIS WORMLEY [recruiting profile], who was in line to receive snaps at three-tech last year when he blew out his ACL in fall camp. A year removed from that, Wormley is still shedding the injury tentativeness that comes with the territory. He is also growing out a ferociously ragged afro, because someone has to take over for Elliott Mealer's interesting hair. A salute to Chris Wormley!

What Wormley brings is hugeness. Ask Hoke:

"Number one, he's huge. He's a big guy," Hoke said. "He's done a nice job coming back from rehab, and probably a better job from the mental side of it. Chris has that potential to be an awfully good football player for us."

He has excellent athleticism attached to said hugeness. He's listed at 6'4", 289, and that looks to be almost all muscle. There was a lot of debate about him as a recruit, with a lack of high school production attributed to motor causing a split between "he's a top 100 kid" (24/7) to "he's a three-star" (Rivals). Ace was actually on the negative side of things:

Wormley's best way to get penetration was to simply run right around his blocker, and while this was nice to see in terms of evaluating his quickness, it brings up another point of concern—how is a 6'6", 270-pound Michigan-bound DE not completely flattening the 6'2", 225-pound offensive tackle across from him with malicious regularity? Again, motor wasn't the issue, but instead pad level; Wormley can get low on occasion, but several times he stood right up off the snap and let the tackle get right into him, turning him into a non-factor.

The fact that he was going to play early at a spot where Michigan had a couple of quality veterans in Black and Campbell is a step towards the top end of his evaluations. Mattison said he was "very talented" and "very smart" and is shedding the tentativeness brought on by the injury:

The thing that he's now showing that he didn't show in the spring is complete trust that he's 100%. So now he's back to turning it loose at different phases. He's got to do it every day. He's got to do it every play. But I don't think there's ever any thought in his mind anymore of, 'Oh, my knee.' "

Assuming Wormley's had a year to work out the kinks in his technique (Certainty Principle), he should be essentially a co-starter with Heitzman quickly. From there, performance will dictate playing time. You are rooting for Wormley to grab the job strongly, as he's the guy with large upside.

[After THE JUMP: Omar comin'? Depth! DEATH STARE 2013. TACO JUMPS OVER THINGS 2013]

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-21-13: Greg Mattison

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-21-13: Greg Mattison

Submitted by Heiko on August 21st, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Were you pleased with your defense during the scrimmage on Saturday?

"I think there were some good things. I think we started off doing some real good things in the different situations that Brady put us in. The black zone, coming out, moving the ball. And then we had a kicking break and we did a lot of the kicking. I wasn't real happy with how we came back. It may seem like a little thing to a lot of people, but I relate that to coming out of the locker room at halftime. When you're a young team, all of those things have got to be addressed. You can't assume -- a veteran team, you'd know, 'Okay, let's turn it up guys. Here's the switch coming out.' You can see when you have a young team, they do a couple things good at times and then all of a sudden, you have to make sure they're hungry and they have to understand how to do it. They have to make sure they do their job every time."

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-14-13: Brady Hoke

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-14-13: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on August 15th, 2013 at 11:34 AM

Bullets:

  • Derrick Green and Brennen Beyer have returned to practice. Green is a full go while Beyer is still limited.
  • The team will scrimmage at the Big House on Saturday.
  • A lot of position battles will be settled next week.

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

Opening remarks:

"This is the 12th practice. We've really practiced pretty well most days. I think yesterday we didn't practice as well as we'd like to have. But I thought they came out -- we had good walkthroughs in the morning. We really did a nice job competing this afternoon. You know, you're trying to still put all the pieces together. Great competition at a lot of positions. That hasn't changed. We'll go about another week and then we'll start really game planning for central. We'll make some key decisions probably Sunday, Monday, Tuesday with where we want to be. A little more scrimmage situation on Saturday so that we can get a lot of guys in high pressure situations."

Unverified Voracity Goes One On One

Unverified Voracity Goes One On One

Submitted by Brian on August 13th, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Yes. Fun. Annual best CTK is just four minutes of the Michigan drill:

Countdown to Kickoff 2013: Day 21 - The... by mgovideo

Notables:

  • Lewan buries Keith Heitzman on the first rep; Heitzman comes back and does much better against Schofield on the next one. Not entirely unexpected.
  • Rawls absolutely runs over Ross Douglas on a rep, causing both guys to pop up and jut chests at each other threateningly.
  • Washington looks good on both his reps, though he gave some ground on #1.
  • Ross sheds very well on his single rep, as does Jarrod Wilson. Wormley does not and immediately gets a coach in his face repeating "escape, escape, escape" to him.
  • A rather large-looking Mike McCray has interesting reps separated by 30 seconds or so. On the first one, Kyle Bosch drives him way out of the frame. On the second, he dumps Blake Bars to the ground and makes a tackle.
  • Taco stands up Jake Butt, RB darts by, Mattison exclaims "HE WENT OUTSIDE THE CONE" in an effort to claim that one for the D.
  • Strobel does a good job against walk-on Erik Gunderson.
  • Jeremy Jackson locks up Richardson and waltzes him downfeld. Not a huge surprise, but an indicator as to why it's going to be hard for Richardson to get on the field this year.
  • Pipkins wins a rep against Glasgow with authority.

Omar comin'? Frank Clark gets the CTK treatment:

Countdown to Kickoff 2013: Day 22 - Frank Clark by mgovideo

Clark says he'd be competitive with Devin Gardner in a 40 yard dash… but not Denard. He says he 268, not 277, but a CTK a few days later they say he's 274. I dunno, pick one.

Also available: Aaron Wellman may get results, but does he sound like a gravel truck? Maybe a little. Jeremy Jackson's Day 18 is mostly a look into weirdass Navy Seal exercises like "kick a pole and wiggle forward on your butt" and "rub sand on your head." Jake Ryan is running and whatnot.

Hail Brady. Oh man Michigan's head coach has the same opinion on uniformz as sane people do:

"(The uniform issue is) bigger than it should be," Hoke said Monday during a radio interview with FoxSports' Jay Mohr. "But we’re traditional, and we have such a great tradition and legacies, we’re going to be staying pretty much standard.” …

“We had one uniform we wore once that we won’t wear again,” he said. "It’s something that you’re always trying to have that excitement with your kids, and that’s part of it."

Is that the ghost number outfit, the No Rain bumblebee one, or… actually the Sugar Bowl uniforms were hardly different from the usual and fine.

The times, they have changed. Ohio State picks up a 2015 PG commit from AJ Harris, a 5'8" kid who I'd never heard of. A quick check of the UMHoops page for him reveals nothing but a lot of scouting from various AAU tournaments, so that's why: no one had mentioned him in connection with a Michigan offer. This is interesting for a couple reasons:

  1. It likely removes OSU from the Jalen Brunson chase, but Harris is a AAU teammate of Luke Kennard.
  2. Harris's commitment was "shocking" because as of two weeks ago he said Michigan was at the top and he wanted to be Trey Burke.

Harris told Eleven Warriors that "it's true, I did want to hear from Michigan," but Michigan is focused on a half-dozen high profile targets. So… Ohio point guard picks Ohio State because Michigan showed no interest. Remember when the basketball program was 1-6 in the Big Ten? No? I don't either.

Meanwhile in silly things said on the internet:

What could make it sweeter? Beating out Michigan for a prospect that two weeks ago wanted to emulate Trey Burke.

To beat the man, the man has to be in the ring, or at least cognizant of the fact there is a ring.

Booker and Johnson do things. Elsewhere in basketball recruiting news—we are downshifting from occasional roundups as football season starts—Devin Booker releases a top five of Michigan, Kentucky, Michigan State, Missouri, and Florida. The latter two are not reputed to be strong contenders, especially Florida. Booker told Scout that he's set up officials with the other four schools and pull the trigger "whenever I feel whatever schools is right for me" and that he's not even sure he'll visit Florida.

You are rooting for Indiana decommit (and Kentucky legacy) James Blackmon to pick the Wildcats, as they seem to be the biggest threat at the moment. Indiana blog Inside The Hall thinks Blackmon is all but locked up for the Wildcats, so we've got that going for us. The primary way things could go pear-shaped if Blackmon takes Kentucky off the table is if Michigan gets a commit from Trevon Bluiett and Booker looks at Stauskas/Irvin/LeVert/Bluiett as a higher hill to climb than Michigan State's roster.

Also, Ypsi PF Jaylen Johnson, who recently took a visit to Michigan, is profiled by the Louisville paper:

“I love his activity,” Meyer said. “He’s athletic, he’s long, and he’s so active. He’s such an aggressive rebounder, one of those who is always fighting for position early. I love his feel for the game as a rebounder.”

Meyer thinks Johnson will end up at Louisville, so expect him to cut Louisville from his list immediately. YES I AM STILL BITTER.

Finally, touted 2015 PF Carlton Bragg plans a visit:

We talked about it a little,” Graves said. “I think Carlton would be a three, stretch four because he has the jumper to be 6-9 just like a forward that runs the floor, like a hybrid. We haven’t talked x’s and o’s but they can see him in their system, especially with the three’s that they shoot.”

Bragg is open at the moment; Ohio State will be a major player.

They were almost ready to throw in the towel last year. On the OL, that is. Apparently the debate as to whether to redshirt Kyle Kalis was being had within the walls of Schembechler Hall as well as without:

"It sucked," the redshirt freshman offensive lineman said Sunday. "It sucked. So many times, I was close to going in, but they didn't want to burn my redshirt.

"Everyone wants to play, and it sucks (when you don't get to). And I was mad about it."

So many times I was like "why aren't they playing Kalis." At least we know now there was much debate about it.

Prepare for WJC departures. The United States of Hockey handicaps the National Junior Evaluation Camp field, which includes four Michigan forwards. Chris Peters projects that Compher ("One of the better centers for most of the camp… really strong when playing a bottom-six role and playing an aggressive, grinding two-way style") and Copp ("A prime candidate to play the fourth-line shutdown role the U.S. will so badly need to succeed") will make the roster, while Motte and Nieves are question marks. Nieves's evaluation is pretty much the thing:

Nieves is one of those guys where if he finds that missing piece to his game, he could be really good. With size, speed and some truly remarkable puck skills, he’s got a lot of the tools going for him. He just couldn’t seem to finish the play out with the right decision or buy himself time when he needed it. That led to poor shots or turnovers and that’s going to be tough to do at the WJC level. The speed and skills are there, but I think he needs some more work.

Right now he's Milan Gajic, a guy who looks like he's got every skill you could want but doesn't put it together to blow up. He's got some more time to break out of that rut.

Meanwhile, Motte is sounding like something not very much like the midget puck wizard I'd assumed he would be:

Motte showed good quickness and some skill in a solid camp performance. He had some good two-way play and worked really well when playing with Compher and Fasching in the middle parts of the camp.

He might grab a lower-rung spot, especially if the brass thinks his long familiarity with Compher would make a good pairing.

Are they related to Wiz Khalifa? I don't know what this means.

For Gallon, there’s an added bonus there: He and Gardner are extremely tight. “Closer than Phineas and Ferb,” as Gallon puts it.

I am old.

Etc.: Big Ten building spree reaches 1.5 billion dollars. No M-OSU night games on the docket according to Jim Delany. Chengelis wants to futz with the tunnel. Michael Bradley profiled. Penn State fans no likey Hoke after the Wangler decommitment. Moeller and Lou Holtz break down The Catch.

Ondre Pipkins is ready to eat… metaphorically. The center battle should be decided this week.

Annual Big Ten Network Practice Tweet Roundup

Annual Big Ten Network Practice Tweet Roundup

Submitted by Brian on August 12th, 2013 at 11:41 AM

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Derrick Green is a large man.

As per the title. This year's batch of impressions is pretty interesting. As always, organized by topic and translated from the twitterese. Standard disclaimer: this is one practice that's not even in pads, so a lot of position groups are basically impossible to evaluate. In particular I'd take the OL stuff with a grain of salt.

Dienhart has a full article on the experience; it doesn't appear that Howard Griffith was there this year, and he gave an interesting glimpse into the depth chart:

Here is who was running with the “ones” on defense today: Line, Tom Strobel; Chris Wormley (who is a specimen); Quinton Washington; Frank Clark. Linebackers, Joe Bolden; James Ross; Secondary, Blake Countess; Thomas Gordon; Jarrod Wilson; Courtney Avery; Raymon Taylor.

So 1), that's a nickel package, 2) Dymonte Thomas wasn't at the top of the depth chart, 3) Strobel and Wormley were your Day X starters at SDE and three-tech, respectively, and 4) Bolden was ahead of Morgan. That's so many changes from expectation that I'm betting that rotation is more experiment than depth chart indicator.

Even so you do get an indicator of who is not being challenged for a starting spot at present: Clark, Washington, Ross, the safeties, and Countess. Anyway, more things:

Quarterback

Devin Gardner looked great - in total command of the offense. He needs to stay healthy more than any player in B1G - Morris struggled a bit. Morris has a live arm and runs well too - just seemed a step behind - late on a number of throws. Will be very, very good in time.  –Dave Revsine [part 2]

As mentioned in Morris's recruiting profile, early struggles are expected.

Al Borges told me Devin Gardner loves to study film more than Denard Robinson did. Borges says Gardner is more athletic than Jason Campbell. –Dienhart

Was Denard a noted film guy? I don't recall that being part of the things people said about him except when he was being compared to Tate. The Campbell thing is obvious. Campbell could move around a little bit but was almost strictly a pocket passer. Rushing yards by year at Auburn: 72, 206, 1, 30.

Tailbacks

Derrick Green was dressed but not taking reps, FWIW.

Borges also said he needs a "war daddy" at RB, given that the run game now features the TB rather than QB. Not clear he has one yet. –Revsine

Fitz Toussaint showed no effects from his injury. Great burst through the line. –Revsine

Wyatt Shallman also got a lot of carries as a TB. Unclear if that's because Green wasn't involved in the reps. –Revsine

#Michigan true freshman Derrick Green has a body like Ironhead Heyward. –Dienhart

Heyward got huge in the NFL—like, may have pushed 300 pounds—but in college he was 240-260 and quite good at running: 1800 yards and a Heisman finalists from Pitt as a junior and a departure to the first round of the NFL draft.

Receivers

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Darboh impressed in a major way.

Da'Mario Jones had a nice one-handed catch as well. Lots of good young WR talent. Darboh has taken a particularly large leap. –Revsine

WR Amara Darboh looks primed for a breakout. Big, fast and physical –Dienhart

At #Michigan practice, WR Amara Darboh looked good. Al Borges marvels about how strong his hands are. He was running 1st team today. –Dienhart

Funchess is fantastic - serious match-up issue. They will use him well. –Revsine

Q: Who do you think will be the number one receiver for Gardner?

A: Gallon - but Darboh & Funchess right there. –Revsine

Offensive Line

As mentioned, a grain of salt here. There were no warning flags from this visit last year.

Little bit of a battle going on at C. Always give the caveat of it was just 1 practice on 1 day - but Glasgow delivered first snap. –Revsine

I asked Brady Hoke about interior of o-line; he told me all spots are still open. Lots of bodies. I have to think Kalis will get one spot. –Dienhart

Lewan is a very clear leader. Most of his leadership 2day was keeping young guys focused and loose. I observed a good exhange with DeVeon Smith –Revsine

Q: Does the interior of the OL look more athletic? Will the Gs be able to pull efficiently? [ed: almost certainly an mgoreader, right?]

A: Yes - OL looked good. –Revsine

Defensive Line

Taylor Lewan is really fun to be around - one of my favorite B1G interviews. He said Frank Clark reminds him of Clowney. As in Jadeveon. –Revsine

Fun to see Brady interact with DL (for me - not necessarily for DL) - really worked Ondre Pipkins hard. Clear they are counting on him. –Revsine

Q: Frank Clark warrant the off season hype?

A: Hard to say - they weren't in full pads. Teammates were raving, though. –Revsine

If there is a more impressive true freshman DE in the nation than Taco Charlton, I want to see him. Can't wait to see him in a year. –Dienhart

Chris Kiffin, the brother of Lane and Ole Miss defensive line coach/booster payment organizer, upheld the family honor by responding to this tweet with "Lol."

Linebacker

Nothing of note. Linebacker is another spot where no-pads means evaluation is hard, if not impossible. Bolden nominally running with the ones is interesting, but unless he's made a lot of progress at hitting people I don't think he's going to displace Morgan. Spell him for a few drives a game, sure. Start, no.

Safety

Mattison mentioned that Thomas Gordon has really emerged as a leader in the absence of Kovacs. –Revsine

Miscellaneous

This is really starting to look like a #Michigan football team - they are big, they're physical and they can really run. –Revsine

Defensive team can really run. I would say the validity of recruiting rankings was alive and well in AA today. –DiNardo

One of the most interesting things about the Chicago panel with myself, Sam Webb, and DiNardo was how DiNardo dismissed the usual coachspeak muttering about recruiting rankings. Instead he emphasized their importance and how the Big Ten's lag in that department was reflected on the field.

I love this coaching staff. There is a ton of teaching that goes on at their practices - giving constructive feedback after nearly ever rep. –Revsine

Assistant coaches do as good a job as anyone teaching technique. No music constantly playing helps staff teach. –DiNardo

The usual.

Once again got to watch one the the best D Line drills in college football. –DiNardo

I don't think he's referring to this one, but he might be?

Greg Mattison is really pleased with his defensive depth. Said there are several positions where he feels good going three deep. –Revsine

Um… WDE, SDE, CB(ish), maybe if you look at ILBs jointly.

Much like Ohio State, many of Michigan's freshmen look physically ready to play right now. Taco Charlton would be Exhibit A. Other true freshmen that stood out - De'Veon Smith, Dymonte Thomas, and Jourdan Lewis. Thomas had a nice diving pick, Lewis good PBU in the endzone. –Revsine. [Part 2]

I asked Hoke after practice which true freshmen who weren’t here in the spring who could impact. He mentioned Delano Hill and Jourdan Lewis in the secondary; Patrick Kugler on the o-line; Maurice Hurst on the d-line; Mike McCray at linebacker, among others. –Dienhart.

A little surprised it wasn't all-lifting, all-running Ben Gedeon that got a mention there instead of McCray. Also, Hurst is a bit of a surprise given how his weight has fluctuated (at least on paper): if he's really 270 instead of 302 I find it hard to believe he's going to push through to see playing time.

Q: The way UM/OSU have recruited, are you seeing a separation in talent?

A: Need to see everyone - but trending that way. –Revsine

I came away impressed with #Michigan. But most of best talent is young, so the Wolverines may be a year away. This is a well-coached team. –Dienhart

Yup.

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-7-13: Greg Mattison

Fall Camp Presser Transcript 8-7-13: Greg Mattison

Submitted by Heiko on August 8th, 2013 at 10:34 AM

"First one of the year, huh? Here we go."

Here we go.

"Well it seems like we've been practicing for two months already and we've only had three. I don't know if that's a sign of old age or just the intensity of how we're going, but it's really good to be out here. It's good to be practicing again."

There hasn't been a whole lot of yelling. It's a lot more instructing. Do the kids seem to be on message?

"Well our style of coaching is teaching. And I think if you compare our staff -- I don't think a lot of times you have to do a lot of yelling. This team that we have right now is trying to do it right in every way. When a team's trying to do that, whether they're really young or making mistakes because they're young, as long as they're showing the effort that they are, there's really no reason to yell at them. You just have to correct them. When you have a young team, you have to be a great teacher. That's what our staff is really working hard to do."

So the effort is there?

"Yes. I've been really pleased. Now we don't have pads on yet obviously, and a lot of times what happens with programs, when pads come on, sometimes some programs slow down. I don't think that's going to happen with this team. This team seems to really really embrace and has bought into 'we must play as hard as we can on every play, and we have to get 11 bodies to the football.' When you watch practice with not pads on, we're getting 11 bodies to the football. We're getting really really good effort, so that's been positive."

<No pads. Nothing to see after the jump.>

Unverified Voracity Lives In Near Infamy

Unverified Voracity Lives In Near Infamy

Submitted by Brian on July 30th, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Marty sets the record. Via Michigan Hockey Net:

Juuuust a bit outside. Lake The Posts previews Michigan with a look back at a name that will live in Wildcat infamy:

Red Sox nation hoists names like Aaron “Effin” Boone and Bucky Dent up on the grand facade of ignominious moments in their history.  Well, when it comes to Michigan football, the name Wildcat fans will never forget when it comes to last year’s Hail Mary loss in the Big House is Ray Roundtree.

Will almost live in Wildcat infamy, I guess.

It's only fair, Wildcats. I still remember when Anthofy Thorbus furmbled the quail without being so much as touched.

Well, what do we think about this? Shakin' The Southland runs a study that attempts to see if there's any validity to the idea that running a fast offense will hurt your defense, and comes out with this table:

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[Methodology note: teams were classified by plays per minute of possession, which you've probably just seized on as a pretty wobbly way to do things since the clock stops on an incomplete pass. This would make a Leach system look faster than it actually is in terms of seconds left on the playclock when you snap the ball.]

There is basically no difference until you get to truly sloth-like teams. (Of the 723 in the study, 97 qualify as "slow"—"normal" is the vast bulk of the sample with 516.) Ponderous offense does seem to be correlated with good defense in a real (ie, on a per-possession, not per-game) basis, but is the slow offense a cause or an effect? It's pretty easy to dream up the teams at the bottom of the survey: run-heavy, defense-first teams that try to win a game 17-10 and merrily plow into the line once they get a sliver of a lead, and probably before they do as well. Also in the slow sample: teams that run out to huge leads and spend large chunks of the game murdering the clock, like say Alabama.

If you ask me, the slow teams' better defense is the cause of the slow pace, not the other way around. We've all watched enough football to know when you're in the kind of game where defense and field position are the way to play—last year's State game—and when you need to tell the punter "sorry, but come back next week"—2011 OSU. When you have a boa constrictor defense it makes sense to lower the variance and pound out a win.

The other half of the equation does seem more meaningful. Fast teams play in games with more possessions and points on both sides, but once you put up some tempo-free stats the effect on their defenses is basically zero.

Oh come on man. 277 pound Frank Clark gets four FAKEs for his supposed 40 time:

CHICAGO -- Frank Clark played safety in high school and enrolled at Michigan weighing 217 pounds. Two years later, he's a defensive end who weighs 277.

And he can still crush the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds.

"That's pretty ridiculous," quarterback Devin Gardner said of Clark's time, which was clocked during an offseason workout earlier this year. "Huge guy, and he's able to do all the things I'm able to do, which is really frustrating for me. I like to think of myself as a premier athlete, and he goes out and does -- if not better -- close to what I'm doing.

"It's pretty amazing to see, and I can't wait for the finished product to be on the field. You guys got a glimpse of it last year, and I feel like he's going to be one of the best defensive players in the league."

If he went to Ohio State he'd be running a 4.3, because their FAKE 40 scale goes to 11. If Frank Clark explodes into all All Big Ten type player… I would like that.

You guys are lame. More like the NO FUN LEAGUE, amirite?

The NFL, they say, has a long-standing pace at which they do things between plays and the referees "aren't going to change just to accommodate someone's offense," said Mike Pereira, a former NFL vice president of officiating who is now an analyst for Fox Sports.

"We have to make sure teams understand that they don't control the tempo, our officials do," said NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino. "We're going through our normal ball mechanics, we aren't going to rush [unless] it's in the two minute drill."

Chip Kelly won't be allowed to ram his offense down the field at warp speed, because a man named "Dean Blandino" says so. That is the most NFL.

A much better idea. Instead of just booting guys for hits that you think may have sort of been illegal in the split second you had to observe it, borrow from soccer. Pat Fitzgerald suggests adding a yellow card to the 15 yard penalty, which is a much better idea than just booting some dude out or doing nothing.

Gardner: likeable. Our starting quarterback is a card.

"People ask me for my number all the time on Twitter. Sometimes I'll give 'em a fake number. Like a 555 movie number. One guy got so mad at me, like, 'I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU GAVE ME A FAKE NUMBER,' and I was like, 'You should know! It says 555! No number in the world starts with 555! You really tried to call that?'"

Etc.: Starting Minnesota receiver quits football to run track full-time, and… yeah, I totally feel you, Devin Crawford-Tufts. Tennessee attendance is collapsing.

I had missed the fact that Malcolm Gladwell compared football to dogfighting in 2009. Because dogs == football players, I guess? That's not a massively troubling comparison or anything? Malcolm Gladwell is still defending this position, because Gladwell.

Surprise! Basketball recruiting taking it real slow. Brandin Hawthorne has a Kickstarter for your consideration. EA sports tries to flee the Ed O'Bannon case.

Media Day Things

Media Day Things

Submitted by Brian on July 26th, 2013 at 12:24 PM

It came and went with one piece of news—Antonio Poole's departure—and a lot of mean questions for Urban Meyer. Brady Hoke said Brady Hoke things, like eight wins is "unacceptable" and anything other than winning the Big Ten is "failure." The usual.

The interesting thing

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Gordon needs to be the new Kovacs

The most interesting thing to come out of the media day annually is Michael Spath asking the assembled players to talk about Michigan last year.

In there you've got Kovacs confirmation:

"[Jordan Kovacs] is a guy that on film doesn't look that special, not compared to some of the guys out there, but ask our coaches and there was no one they respected more. Our defensive coordinator said he could play for our team any day because he's just so smart, such a great leader, and he plays mistake-free football. Sure enough we play them and you just can't get anything past him. He doesn't go for ball-fakes, doesn't buy play-action, and every time you look downfield, he's there, just waiting for it."

Unfortunately, that's immediately followed by a statement that Thomas Gordon may be a better athlete but was "very average" and that it was all about Kovacs.

On Frank Clark:

"We saw some film of him from early in the season and then some stuff from the last few games, and he was a different player. When we saw him, he was motivated. He played pissed off, and he was really a force."

Come on, hype, be true. I don't know who that could be, since I don't remember Clark having a major impact in any game save Ohio State, and that impact was not exactly a block-shedding spectacular:

On the offensive side of the ball, here is something you probably already know but it's good to get it confirmed:

"The thing that really stood out to us was how bad their guards were at pulling. Half the time the running back would be the first guy to the hole and we had a linebacker waiting there. They're supposed to be paving the way but they were so sloppy and so out of position even when they were out ahead you could simply sidestep them or outmuscle them because they had lost their leverage."

Sad face. Michigan needs to improve drastically there, and probably well. In other news, Funchess is delicately called a finesse player and marveled at as a "freak". And yeah, we were weirded out by this Gallon thing too:

"I don't know how tall [Jeremy Gallon] is but that kid can really sky. We were watching film after a game we lost and our coaches were really hard on one of our guys because he lost a jump ball to Gallon, but then the next week he did it again, and then the next week again. That guy is little but he can play."

Offensive line: set-ish

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oblig "Ben Braden is preposterously large" picture via Tim Sullivan

The other thing emerging from the roundtables is that the battle to start at guard has been basically resolved—it's Braden along with Kalis.

Hoke confirmed Thursday that physical redshirt freshmen Ben Braden and Kyle Kalis have separated themselves at left and right guard, respectively. That development was anticipated.

"I don't know if you ever feel great until you get through a season with new guys, but I like the work ethic of Kalis and Braden and those two guys from a genetics standpoint, for what we're looking for in an offensive lineman," the coach said during the second day of Big Ten media days at the Chicago Hilton.

Graham Glasgow is now pushing Jack Miller at center:

At center, Lewan was quick to insist people shouldn't write off walk-on Graham Glasgow. "He's 6-6 and nasty. He does whatever you ask him to do. If it's the end of a long practice and they want us back out there, he's the first one."

Morris: prepping

Take what you will from this:

"(Morris) came to campus a little bit earlier than some of the guys," Hoke said during a breakout session during Big Ten media days at the Chicago Hilton. "From what I know, he's had a good summer to this point. I think he's done a nice job learning. I think Devin's done a nice job with him. I think (fellow QB candidate) Brian Cleary's done a nice job with him.

"He'll be in good shape coming into fall camp."

Hopefully he won't be needed to do anything more than mop up.

Can't be going to the bars with doctor pig

Mutant-Pig-Person---87563[1]

the internet has a hit for "gary busey pig." go internet

Lewan on Darrell Funk, who looks way too much like Gary Busey to be so relentlessly controlled:

"He has never told a joke in his entire life. The man has never told a joke, ever, but he is so funny. He's hilarious. He's so dry - he'll walk into a meeting and say, 'OK guys, couple of things - can't be going to the bars, guys. Can't be doing that. You like going to the bars, Bosch? Can't be doing that.' It's like, What? His delivery cracks me up."

More on the short lived run of Dr. Hamlet III:

Where do you find a pig? Craigslist, of course. The linemen pooled their money and spent $250 for a teacup pig. As for the robust name?

"I don't know," he said. "I just wanted my pig to have a Ph.D."

So say we all.

EA Sports Believes The Hype And/Or Pecs

EA Sports Believes The Hype And/Or Pecs

Submitted by Ace on June 17th, 2013 at 2:06 PM


EA Sports has seen this picture.

It's that time of year when football-starved gaming aficionados devour each morsel of information that EA Sports deigns to leak. With NCAA Football 14—totally not featuring real people, we swear!—set to release next month, that process has begun in earnest. Last week, Operation Sports unleashed a video of some guy scrolling through the top ten players on each team, which if nothing else gives a bored college football blogger something to write about. Since the ratings in NCAA often make little sense, I decided to take a stab at guessing Michigan's ten highest-rated players before hitting play (the game tends to reward seniority, which may explain some of my picks):

  1. Taylor Lewan
  2. Jake Ryan
  3. Devin Gardner
  4. Jeremy Gallon
  5. Michael Schofield
  6. Thomas Gordon
  7. Quinton Washington
  8. Brendan Gibbons
  9. Desmond Morgan
  10. Blake Countess

I also asked Brian to give his list:

  1. Dennis Norfleet
  2. Dennis Norfleet
  3. Dennis Norfleet
  4. Dennis Norfleet
  5. Dennis Norfleet
  6. Dennis Norfleet
  7. Dennis Norfleet
  8. Dennis Norfleet
  9. Dennis Norfleet
  10. Dr. Hamlet III

You're a great help, Brian.

Anyway, here's the great unveiling:

If you don't want to find the right time to pause the video (2:02 mark) and peruse the ratings yourself, here's what EA Sports came up with for Michigan:

  1. LT #77 Taylor Lewan (96 overall)
  2. Jeremy Gallon (90)
  3. Devin Gardner (89)
  4. Jake Ryan (89)
  5. Matt Wile (88)
  6. Frank Clark (88)
  7. Brendan Gibbons (88)
  8. Thomas Gordon (88)
  9. Raymon Taylor (87)
  10. Desmond Morgan (87)

I have no problem with the top four, especially with Lewan earning such a lofty rating (only two Alabama players are rated higher than 93, though both come in at 97 and their entire top ten is at least a 91). Punter Matt Wile—notable for being Not Will Hagerup, since the game includes just one of each specialist—lands at fifth, which is... strange, even though Wile has plenty of talent.

Then comes the big leap. Junior DE Frank Clark, with all of two career sacks, is clearly EA's choice for breakout player, granted a loftier ranking than several proven commodities. The Frank Clark Offseason Hype Machine has gone national, and frankly that makes me nervous. This is the same video game that rated redshirt sophomore safety Brandon Smith, who had mostly played on special teams, at 88 overall before the 2010 edition, only to see him transfer before the season started. Beware the Offseason Hype Machine.*

[EDIT: So... the video lists DE #97 as the team's sixth-best player, not DE #57. In my haste to say that EA took up the driver's seat on a player's offseason bandwagon, I named the wrong bandwagon: they're apparently quite enthused about Brennen Beyer, who... moved from WDE to SAM this offseason after Jake Ryan's injury and is projected to back up Cam Gordon. Okay, then.]

The rest of the list is justifiable, though I'd wager that Michigan's top cornerback and linebacker in the 2015 edition won't be Raymon Taylor and Desmond Morgan, respectively; Blake Countess gets dinged for coming off an ACL tear, while presumably EA used up their breakout spot on Clark instead of James Ross, who would've been my choice there.

A QUICK SCAN FOR RIDICULOUS RATINGS ON OTHER BIG TEN TEAMS REVEALS...

  • Nathan Scheelhaase is 89 overall, two better than Butkus Award semifinalist and potential first-round NFL draft pick Jonathan Brown. Yes, the same Nathan Scheelhaase who split snaps with Reilly O'Toole as a junior returning starter.
  • Indiana's best player is a white strong safety. Viva Hoosier Kovacs.
  • Iowa's third-best player is this guy, which... sounds about right, actually.
  • Denicos Allen is a very good player, don't get me wrong, but having him as a 95(!)—Michigan State's top player—over 91-overall Max Bullough, the unquestioned heart of that defense, is surprising.
  • Ra'Shede Hageman is Minnesota's highest-rated player at 88 overall and surely Brian's choice for most underrated player. The next-best Gophers come in at 83 overall, and players in the 70s crack the top ten. Woof.
  • Ameer Abdullah is not among Nebraska's top ten players, which makes me question if EA Sports bothered to watch so much as a second of the Huskers last season.
  • Unstoppable Throw-God Trevor Siemian is 85 overall, so clearly EA didn't catch last year's Michigan/Northwestern tilt.
  • Braxton Miller is a terrifying 96 overall and is better than many running backs at breaking tackles (81 rating). I hate that this is in no way ridiculous.
  • Penn State's Allen Robinson, the best receiver in the conference last year, merits just an 87 rating, which seems especially low given that unspectacular PSU running back Zach Zwinak is just behind him at 86.
  • Purdue right tackle Trevor Foy, who wasn't even All-B1G honorable mention last season, ranks at 92 overall, putting him at least five points higher than Michael Schofield. While I can't say I've watched Foy all that much, either EA knows something we don't or this is pretty bizarre.
  • None of Wisconsin's top ten players are offensive lineman, which does not pass my sanity check.
  • Not Big Ten, but it's worth noting that academically-ineligible Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson is in the game and, at 89 overall, is just as good as Devin Gardner.

Yeah, it's probably best not to take these things too seriously. The bigger issue here is finally ridding the game of post-route-intercepting middle linebackers, anyway; while I haven't seen that addressed specifically, EA does appear to be doing some cool stuff with Dynasty Mode, which is where I spend most of my time in the game.

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

*I'm not saying Clark won't be quite good, only that this level of hype, when contrasted with on-field production, involves a great deal of projection. Frank Clark could be a terrifying quarterback-killing machine or a backup before the season ends or anything in between, and we have no earthly clue where he'll land on that spectrum.

Unverified Voracity Has Multiple Suppliers

Unverified Voracity Has Multiple Suppliers

Submitted by Brian on May 24th, 2013 at 12:14 PM

I'm just interested in the shirt. Ondre Pipkins caught a no-doubt exhausted Frank Clark catching some uncomfortable-looking Zs at something or another. As a man who slept through most of AP Bio in high school I have no leg to stand on as far as criticism of that activity. I'm just interested in his shirt:

image

EARN THE RIGHT TO RUSH 4

That would be nice.

And the shoes. Dr. Sap puts together a history of Michigan's shoes.

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It's more interesting than it sounds. Before Nike came in in 1983, Michigan had seven different suppliers!

It's halftime. Jabrill Peppers has 20 minutes. He's already fixed your car, dated your daughter respectfully, and optioned a screenplay, so it's time to get props from Naughty By Nature:

“I would always hear about [Jabrill], and it was kind of like we let him do his thing and now he’s surfacing on his own. That was the first time I had heard him rap, I didn’t even know he had a crew like that,” he said. “I watched the video and listened to the song and it is really good. Jabrill’s song is like a throwback to ’90’s hip hop and I was like, ‘Wow, I’m really impressed.’ ”

In the time it took you to read that blockquote, Jabrill Peppers made crostini, pulled invasive garlic mustard out of an acre of parkland, and charged your phone. No, he didn't plug it into the wall.

Stick ball sports. Baseball got swept out of the Big Ten tournament, completing a promising first season for Eric Bakich. Michigan was vastly young this year, with just four seniors on the team: three relievers and Eric Biondi. With most of the best players underclassmen and a strong recruiting class coming in, baseball should be on an upward swing. Unfortunately, they'll probably lose slugger Michael O'Neill, who's projected to go somewhere in the first four rounds.

As you may know from the wince-inducing, nonsensical, miserable puns in your inbox…

Alumni Field Will Be Ragin' (& Cajun) This Weekend - Time To BUY(OU) Tickets

We're Jumba-LAY-ing It On Thick - Don't Miss The SOUP-er Regional This Weekend

…softball takes on Louisiana-Lafayette starting… uh… in a couple hours. If you're around and free, tickets are reasonably priced. If you're not, it's on ESPNU. Tomorrow's game is at noon, on plain ol' ESPN, with an if-necessary third game scheduled for ESPN at 3. Winner hits the WCWS. In the face with a bat.

Here is an article on Michigan's leadoff hitters.

"No, WE'RE going to murder the language more." Fed up with recruits claiming to be committed to schools they have no chance of actually signing with, schools fire back with offers that aren't anything like offers:

Alabama’s scholarship offers at some positions, most notably quarterback, are non-committable and pending an evaluation at summer camp.

The non-committable offer. Everything is a lie. This is a society that takes true things, hits them in the head with shovels, buries them neck-deep in turds, and waits for the tide to come in. This is called right-shoveling. All of everything is false and wrong and a lie. These words are random assemblages of symbols that have no inherent meaning. I cannot communicate at all, there is no meaning, I am floating in that crazy sad void in that one Death Cab song on that album I can't listen to for reason of not wanting to kind of want to put my face in a bathtub of water.

This may be an overreaction.

IT WAS NOT AN OVERREACTION. Charlie Weis got bought out for 19 million dollars. Oh hai meaningless Death Cab void.

Carl Hagelin has powers. Spooky powers:

ed6fddd83a950a85caa425ff1c4c3739_large[1]

GOOD EFFORT TRY WIN FIGHT. MLive asks what trolling is, discovers it is trolling. Revelations!

For example, when MSU fans post things like "LOL Walmart Wolverine skunk weasels" or when U-M fans post things like "LOL little brother" nothing is added to the conversation.

They are counseling commenters to ignore people who bother them, which if followed will reduce comments to four per article, all of them from me fighting with myself.

Marlin scouting Gordon. Thomas, that is. And how:

"Thomas Gordon could be a really good player," Jackson said during a recent interview. "If you look at him physically, he's everything you could want in an NFL safety."

But?

"But I would just like to see him become more aggressive, when he's coming to make plays on the football and closing on open-field tackles," Jackson said. "Little things, but big things."

Etc.: Iowa loses a Ufer-equivalent. White House gets down with voracity. Everything you need to know about the Champions League final and horses. Toussaint "fired up" to keep his job, maybe play behind a line that will get him more than two inches of space. Denard can run man. How the pants was he still available in the fifth round man.

Minnesota game is a 3:30 start. Tim Tebow's name is in NCAA 2010. Zack Novak may retire, do something with his honest-to-God business degree.