Class of 2012: The New Numbers

Class of 2012: The New Numbers

Submitted by Seth on August 3rd, 2012 at 8:09 AM

fbl-guide-2011fbguide2012

The 2012 Football Media Guide was released last night. Like all media guides it has lots of information reporters will Google/Bentley anyway if they ever need it. This one also comes with an extensive section on 100-yard rushers and 100-yard rushing duos in case, you know, anyone needs to write an article this year about two guys rushing for over 100 yards in a game or something. It also has a roster. A ROSTER!!! OMIGOD OMIGOD OMIGOD OMIGOD, OBSESSIVE ATTENTION TO ROSTER NUMBERS, GO!

Notable non-bullets:

NO position switches: Everybody who was a thing in spring is still that thing. sayed

Baquer Sayed not on it again. This same thing happened last year and then he turned up back on the team so this could be nothing. (UPDATE: Confirmed he has left the team.) Baquer was in the Spring Game and caught one of those passes listed as "unknown" in the box score. He was a 2010 preferred walk-on, one of those tall, loping-type receivers who look like they're hunched over until they extend to unworldly lengths. He turned down MAC offers to walk on here. Tim Sullivan interviewed him on MGo a few years ago. Yes, that Fordson.

Devin Gardner a junior, not RS soph. You shouldn't expect him to be since they won't say until he applies following the 2013 season, but I always look anyway.

WDEs the Biggest Gainers. Brennan Beyer is now 252 lbs., up 27 from the Spring roster, meaning he has gained the mass of the world's biggest lobster. Space fact: it now takes as much extra energy for Beyer to jump as it takes an astronaut in his space suit to jump from the surface of the moon. Frank Clark is up 32 lbs. for a listed 260. In other guys moving down the line, Jibreel Black is up to 276 (+16) and Roh is listed at 278 (+9).

Holy Ondre! Ondre Pipkins, at 337 pounds, is the biggest dude on the entire roster. For reference, Will Campbell arrived at 309, Richard Ash was 320, and freshman Gabe Watson was 358.* Other freshmen arriving much larger than advertised are Willie Henry (6'3-302, from 6'2-270), Ben Braden (6'6-319, from 285), Erik Magnuson (6'6-290 from 275), Amara Darboh (6'2-218 from 190), A.J. Williams (6'6-282 from 270), The Funchess (6'4-225 from 6'5-205), and James Ross (6'1-225 from 6'0-209). Only RJS arrived smaller than sites said (6'2-206 from 215).

* "That's all?" —everyone my age who ever played against Southfield

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

On to the fully digit-ed freshmen!

No. Name Pos. Ht Wt Note
12 Allen Gant S 6'2 196 Nice compromise btw dad (14) and cousin (2)
13 Terry Richardson CB 5'9 154 154 pounds = 11 stone, $239 U.S., "small"
15 James Ross LB 6'1 225 Much closer to LB size than as a recruit (209)
19 Devin Funchess TE 6'4 225 Much closer to TE size than as a recruit (205)
22 Jarrod Wilson S 6'2 195 Spring
26 Dennis Norfleet RB 5'7 161  
29 Drake Johnson RB 6'1 203  
34 Jeremy Clark S 6'4 191  
35 Joe Bolden LB 6'3 224 Spring
39 Sione Houma FB 6'0 221  
43 Chris Wormley DE 6'5 268  
49 Kaleb Ringer LB 6'1 230 Spring - up 11 lbs. since
50 Tom Strobel DE 6'6 250  
52 Royce Jenkins-Stone LB 6'2 206 Winner of "I'm Ray Lewis" sweepstakes among Mattison LB recruits. Guessing redshirt.
53 Mario Ojemudia DE 6'2 223 Wore 53 in high school
56 Ondre Pipkins DT 6'3 337 He asked for 56 - for Woodley
62 Blake Bars OL 6'5 282  
67 Kyle Kalis OL 6'5 292  
69 Willie Henry DT 6'3 302 How did they miss a kid that size at a program like Glenville?
71 Ben Braden OL 6'6 319 Is this OT depth is see? Size: yes. Technique: unlikely.
78 Erik Magnuson OL 6'6 290 Same as with Braden.
82 Amara Darboh WR 6'2 218 I was so sure he'd take 15
84 A.J. Williams TE 6'6 282 Is it legal to make a guy that size an eligible receiver?
86 Jehu Chesson WR 6'3 183  
99 Matthew Godin DT 6'6 270  

You are welcome to see how wrong I was at guessing. Or you can burn that. You know what, burn that.

Number Changes:

Not as many as in years previous.

Name Pos. Was Now This is not the reason
Drew Dileo WR 26 9 Step 1: Get assigned locker next to Gallon. Step 2: Steal cloaking device.
Devin Gardner QB 7 12 Bought a Gutierrez jersey in '04 before he got his Henne one. Recently discovered it in back of the closet.
Paul Gyarmati FB 99 31 Inaugural "Name Legends" jersey, will include patch honoring Herman Everhardus (1930-'33)

Meet the Walk-Ons:

The new guys. Those listed were not on the spring roster.

No Name Pos Ht Wt Elig Hometown (H.S.)
3 Bo Dever# WR 6'2 189 FR Lake Forest, Ill. (Lake Forest)
6 Brian Cleary# QB 6'3 202 FR Detroit, Mich. (Detroit Jesuit)
18 Devon Micou WR 6'0 184 RS FR Ann Arbor, Mich. (Huron)
31 Andrew Offerdahl S 5'11 192 FR Fort Lauderdale, Fl. (Cardinal Gibbons)
46 Chris Maye# DB 5'11 178 FR Union City, Mich. (Union City)
59 Mark Lawson# LB 6'2 207 FR Ada, Mich. (Forest Hills Eastern)
63 Ben Pliska OL 6'3 267 FR Kirkland, Wa. (Lake Washington)
79 Dan Gibbs# OL 6'7 311 FR Birmingham, Mich. (Seaholm)
91 Kenneth Allen# P 6'3 205 FR Fenton, Mich. (Fenton)
91 David Mitropoulos-Rundus TE 6'2 242 RS FR Ann Arbor, Mich. (Pioneer)
95 Anthony Capatina K 5'9 181 RS SO Novi, Mich. (Detroit Catholic Central)
96 Ryan Glasgow# DL 6'4 285 FR Aurora, Ill. (Marmion Academy)

# = preferred walk-on. Interesting note: Glasgow is listed at DL, though the little chatter about him on the interwebs expected him to be an interior offensive lineman.

Counting Things on Scholarship

brandonandcount

(note: Brink, Heininger and Kovacs counted as scholarship players)

31! Thirty-one scholarship players with junior (19) or senior (12) eligibility, ah ah ah! Last year was 18 juniors and 15 seniors; 2010 was 14 and 11. This year there are only 11 sophomores (since few redshirted in '10 and many did last season.

38! Thirty-eight players left from the '08-'10 classes, ah ah ah! This roster is already mostly Hoke's. Show? Show.

Class of: 2012 2011 2010 2009
2005       6
2006     8 16
2007   9 11 12
2008 8 17 17 18
2009 15 17 18 22
2010 15 18 22  
2011 15 19    
2012 25      
Total on Scholarship 78 80 76 74

7! Seven receivers on last year's August roster who are now gone. Odoms, Grady and Hemingway by graduation, Stonum by action, Stokes and Williamson by volition, Terrence Robinson by unrenewsion. AHHHH!

14! Fourteen scholarship players at defensive back, ah ah ah! As opposed to nine on the roster in 2009.

44! Forty-four of the guys pictured in the Media Guide with facial hair, ah ah ah! This has to be a new record since the '70s.

Team 133 Photo Day

THE THREE STAGES OF BEARDLINESS:

kennydemensnateallspachEliottMealer

They are Demens, Allspach, and Mealer.

TEAM DREAD-FLOW 133!:

JTFloydChrisEddinsbrendangibbonsDenardRobinsonCraigRohStephenHopkins

(EDIT: Almost forgot:

JakeRyanJoeBolden.)

They are Wolverines with lions' manes sticking out of their helmets, soaring through the air in much the same way Odre Pipkins doesn't. They are: J.T. Floyd, Chris Eddins, Gibbons U PUT IT THRU THE UPRITES, Denard with something on his upper lip that shouldn't be there, Roh's left eyebrow, Roh's right eyebrow, Hopkins, the Jake (love the Jake), and Bolden. Here's some dudes trying to get into the club:

ThomasGordonjeremygallonJarrodWilsonDennisNorfleetJusticeHayessethbroekhuizen

T-Gordon, Gallon, Jarrod Wilson, Dennis Norfleet, Justice Hayes, Seth Broekhuizen.

NO LONGER PART OF TEAM DREAD-FLOW:

JoshFurman

Josh Furman.

I KNEW THERE WAS A REASON I CHOSE HIM AS MY TOTALLY UNREASONABLE NAME ON NOBODY'S LIPS TO GET ALL EXCITED ABOUT

DelonteHollowell

Delonte Hollowell. Somebody get this man a bow-tie.

Day Of Legal Fun Continues: Frank Clark's Turn

Day Of Legal Fun Continues: Frank Clark's Turn

Submitted by Brian on July 23rd, 2012 at 3:17 PM

Zero details on this yet but a Frank Dominick Clark shows up on a 14th District Court preliminary exam list with a charge of "Home Invasion" in the second degree:

CR-W-12-0000797 FH
CLARK, FRANK DOMINICK
PRELIMINARY EXAM - JG SHELTON
LEWIS, DOUGLAS E

Count:
001
HOME INVASION - 2ND DEGREE

Slight possibility this might be some other Frank Clark—google did not turn up confirming evidence of his middle name—but there were some rumors going around some weeks back about Clark being in some sort of trouble so the chances this is a mixup are very low.

The charge is serious

(6) Home invasion in the second degree is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 15 years or a fine of not more than $3,000.00, or both.

…but is probably similar in nature to the Marvin Robinson issue that drew an identical charge and is in the process of turning into a misdemeanor of some variety.

UPDATE: Hoke confirms it's that Frank Clark. Indefinite suspension, wait for outcome, etc. Also this is what he allegedly did:

Frank Clark is accused of stealing a MacBook Air from Stockwell Hall, according to police.

I don't think he should have allegedly done that.

Michigan Museday If the Dudes Get Dinged: D-Line

Michigan Museday If the Dudes Get Dinged: D-Line

Submitted by Seth on July 18th, 2012 at 7:46 AM

BWCNebraska-Heiko2  BarnumRoundtreeRohSpringGame-Heiko
Heiko|MGoBlog

♪ Well a whole season played with the first string guy is usually quite lucky.
And a squad who plays with the second team out can be anything but fussy.
But a team whose seen an important guy down—head concussed, knee on the ground!
If they ain't got depth around, then
all goes to poopie.
To poopie, to poopie, to poopie, but depth is hard to get!
To poopie, to poopie, to poopie, but we can get there yet! /♫

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

This is a continuation from last week when I went through the expected offensive depth chart and tried to predict what would happen—what's the dropoff? how do we react?—if each starter is injured for an extended time. Now, I'm not here trying to roll into town and stir up trouble, see? I'm a purveyor of portents and hedger of predictions only. What I seek to do is prepare us for any one of these dings, so that if one occurs we can say something intelligent like "it hurts to lose Roh but Black is probably the less replaceable!"

Why not all defense? Things slow down from here because the defense has a lot of intermeshing parts, and because there actually is depth in places to speak of. Mattison's er Michigan's defense has been characterized by interchangeable positions but really each spot is more of a sliding scale from NT to field corner where each one overlaps the things on either side of it. The listed spring/recruiting weights play this out (click e-bigitates):

Roster for HTTV

saturn-puntingzoltanQuickly again. Photos are all by Upchurch unless otherwise noted. Ratings are given in Saturn-punting Zoltans. Think of them like stars except more heavenly. Five is an all-conference-type player (Denard to Kovacs); four is a guy you'd call "solid" (RVB to Demens); three is an average B1G player (Morgan to Hawthorne); two is a guy with a big hole in his game (freshman Kovacs); one is trouble with a capital T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for Poole.

Nose Tackle (Avengers)

thor_385F717860141950
Geeks / O. Ryan Hussain|TheWolverine / 247 Sports

Starter: Will Campbell 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5 ???

Backups: Ondre Pipkins 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o ???, Richard Ash 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5 ???

In case of emergency: I'll be honest; this one is impossible to call straight. The 4-3 under is like the 3-4 in that it leans on the nose to suck up double teams and create mismatches elsewhere. The ideal is a superhero, and for the last few years we've had one of the best (by Ghost of Bo).

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Hulk is gone but the franchise must go on, and for now that means we are 100% committed to making Thor work.

thorcampbell

If the old 5-star takes up the hammer he's the pivot point of a great defense. If he doesn't then one of two mystery men could be anything from serviceable to disasters, and most things in between.

The upside on all three of Michigan's nose tackles is mighty. Weirdly, we think we know more about the true freshman, Ondre Pipkins, than the redshirt sophomore. Pipkins was a 4 or 5 star whose huge, squat, Tongan frame and jovial, Hoke-impersonating character made him and Michigan's need for nose tackle a cosmic destiny. If he's got the goods we'll see Pipkins early in spells of Campbell. True freshmen (Martin, Gabe Watson) of his caliber have fared well enough in rotational duty. The later this season goes, the more comfortable you can feel about Pipkins when he's called upon. Caveat: until he's called upon you have no idea if he can hack it, and for every huge dude you can name who could play right away (Marcus Thomas, Suh, Ngata, [sigh] Johnathan Hankins, DeQuinta Jones) there's 30 who need to spend a year as Ben Grimm before being The Thing. /metaphor used up.

In case of dire emergency: …break glass on Richard Ash. Nobody knows on this guy, who was recruited by Rodriguez as the last Pahokeeian project for Barwis to tear down and rebuild. The tear-down went unnoticed through 2010 and '11 and we caught a glimpse of possible rebuild when, 20 lbs. svelter, he made a few plays nice in the backfield. Ash could be anything from ahead of Pipkins to Adam Patterson. If that's where we are I could see Quinton Washington sliding down.

Rush Tackle (3-Tech)

6932489716_dcc6100ca6_oIMG_5048 - CopyKenny Wilkins
Right: Dell Callihan|
UMGoBlog

Starter: Jibreel Black 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5

Backups: Quinton Washington 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5, Ken Wilkins 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o, Matt Godin ???, Willie Henry ???, plus nose tackles

In case of emergency: The coaches have made it clear that Jibreel Black can play, and moving him two slots down the size/speed slide chart of defensive positions means they want him on the field, and that they want 5-tech-ish skills at the 3-tech. This being a swing position means the backups could be different things.

Quinton Washington is a big dude who was an offensive guard until he and Will Campbell were swapped for each other in that experiment. He still looks like a guard, and has yet show much at tackle besides easily dismissible coach hokum right after the move in 2010 so it wouldn't look like Rodriguez was throwing substances at surfaces to see what sticks.

Q stuck although the OL he left is now about as leaky as the DL he came to save. That the coaches moved Roh and Black down the line tells you something about their faith that Washington is ready, and going into his redshirt junior year that might mean he'll never be. He's seen time on goal line situations and is likely to again. Early in the year I wouldn't be surprised if he or Ash—whichever wins—is backing up both interior line spots, and that later on we see some Pipkins and Campbell together time.

In case of dire emergency: Ken Wilkins has been absent enough from chatter that people email me asking if he's still on team. Yes he is on the damn team, and he's still just a RS sophomore, but yeah, there's room for true freshmen on the three deep. Those two seem to be Godin and Henry, the lesser heralded of the heralded class, both of whom would benefit from redshirts. Henry is the larger. Chris Wormley, whom I rate at 5-tech, seems a more likely backup.

Strongside End (5-Tech)

IMG_0886-- Chris Wormley

Starter: Craig Roh 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o

Backups: Nate Brink 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o, Keith Heitzman 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o, Chris Wormley ???, Tom Strobel ???, plus 3-techs.

In case of emergency: Craig Roh has to be the hardest four-year starter to project in history, thanks to many different careers as too-small WDE in a 4-3, a miscast OLB in the 3-3-5, then as the edge rushing WDE in Mattison's 4-3 under. Now he moves to RVB's old spot.

The backup here is almost assuredly Nate Brink, whom the coaches love but the fans hardly know because he's been hurt (he missed Spring because of it). When the coaches talk about the one-time walk-on they make sure to hit all of the Ecksteinian points: "coachable", "hard worker", "toughness", "great technique", "great motor." To that I might add he's 6'5 and 263, which is normal for the position. He's not Heininger (who as a sophomore backed up Brandon Graham), except in that he's some of the things you wrongly thought about Heininger. Then again I remember Brady Hoke making all sorts of guys into effect tech linemen.

If you'd rather see stars, Keith Heitzman is your guy. The beneficiary of the spring time Brink missed, the redshirt fresham was rated higher at tight end out of high school yet apparently good enough at SDE that the coaches moved Jordan Paskorz instead of him. Either this was a promise made at the time of his last-minute recruitment—likely since Tim reacted strongly when I say him and the TE depth chart together—or an endorsement by Hoke that he can play, or both. Best guess is it's both.

In case of dire emergency: Any of the freshmen linemen but Pipkins and Ojemudia are ready built for 5-tech. Of these Chris Wormley was a longtime high school star, which tells me he is probably physically ahead of the other guys right now. Tom Strobel is the other proto-RVB here. One day I expect we'll see the two of them playing next to each other at 3- and 5- respectively.

Weakside End

DEsojemudia

Starter: Brennan Beyer 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5, or Frank Clark 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5

Backups: Mario Ojemudia ???, plus 5-techs

In case of emergency: Well if one goes down the other starts. Following a trend, both Clark and Beyer were OLBs last season, while this spot was rotated between Black and Roh. Though technically a unit change, the job they did last year—outside rusher—and what they'll be called on to do this year are not all that dissimilar. It speaks well to both that they played as true freshmen ahead of once-touted Cam Gordon. Read less into that, since Gordon was hurt to give them the opening and their skillsets are different from his.

They're also different from each other. Beyer was the more highly regarded and will get called "solid" more often because he's less eventful than Clark. Clark has the greater athleticism (see: interception in Sugar Bowl) though has been convicted of multiple accounts of giving up the edge, a freshman mistake repeated in spring. The rest of the D-line by design is meant to free these guys up for sacks, thus I see both rotating. If one goes down we lose the rotation.

The only other designated WDE is freshman Ojemudia, who is about 200 lbs. right now and would be 2009 Craig Roh'ed by most of the OTs and TEs on our schedule. Far more likely, in the event we lose one of the sophomores, we'll see one of the 5-techs or SLBs move in before the shirt is lifted from Mario. Craig Roh has played WDE more than any other spot, and Brink has the coaches' trust to fill in at 5-tech.

In case of dire emergency: Packaging still covers but there's Ojemudia if you need him. Packaging means in pass situations you just put Jake Ryan here and have Cam Gordon or Brandin Hawthorne or a nickel corner come in; otherwise go "big" (for a certain definition of such) with Roh back to wide and whichever backup DT/SDE in the game instead.

Spring Game Primer: Defense

Spring Game Primer: Defense

Submitted by Ace on April 13th, 2012 at 12:06 PM


What, you expected a picture of someone else?

The two-part preview of the spring game concludes with a look at the defense. Part one, covering the offense—including some staggering insight on the kicking game—lives here.

Big Will Style. It is Year 4 of the Will Campbell Breakout Watch, and the stakes are raised this season, as he'll be playing on the first team unless... he'll be playing on the first team. Campbell showed flashes of his five-star talent last season, displaying an ability to overwhelm interior linemen with his strength and surprising quickness. To have the desired impact, however, he must play with more consistency. Yes, this is where we talk about pad level. If Campbell shows he can stay low, regularly push the pile, and simply occupy two blockers to allow the linebackers to make plays, there will be optimism abound about the defense. No pressure, big guy.

Touch (Don't Hit, Please) The Quarterback. Michigan generated a decent pass rush last season, finishing 29th in the country with 2.3 sacks per game, but much of that pressure was generated by now-graduated linemen Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen. The line underwent a major overhaul this spring, with Craig Roh moving to strongside DE and Jibreel Black to three-tech DT, leaving sophomores Brennen Beyer and Frank Clark to battle for the weakside DE spot. The new line is more athletic than last year's edition; Black could be a terror rushing from the inside, where he'll no longer have to deal with his issues playing in space, while both DE spots get an upgrade athletically. The key here is Roh, who's on his fourth position in four years, which has understandably led to less production than expected when he hit campus after a stellar high school career. If he can handle the occasional double-team from the tight end and find a way to get to the QB, this could be a fearsome unit when they pin their ears back, especially with Madman Mattison pulling the strings.

More D-Line, Because It Scares Me. The starting unit (counting Beyer/Clark as a two-headed weakside monster) should be just fine [insert Campbell caveat], but the backups inspire less confidence. Richard Ash hasn't proven much at Michigan except his ability to resemble a small planet while struggling with injuries; that's your backup nose tackle until Ondre Pipkins gets to Ann Arbor. Quinton Washington has seen the field sparingly and hasn't really produced since switching over from guard; that's your backup three-tech unless one of the true freshmen is game-ready this fall. Nathan Brink should be passable at strongside DE, but he's out for the spring game. I guess we'll see how Chris Rock looks as a redshirt freshman. All we're hoping for here is competence, enough to allow the starters to get the occasional breather—remember the Sugar Bowl if you're asking why that's necessary—without putting fans into full-on panic mode.

New Blood. Early enrollee Joe Bolden has seemingly passed everyone but Kenny Demens on the depth chart at middle linebacker, and of the three true freshmen who will play tomorrow he's the most likely to have a big role come fall. He should see the field a lot tomorrow, especially with Demens recovering from a "mild" concussion*. Don't sleep on safety Jarrod Wilson, however, who's also impressed practice observers. Wilson isn't a likely candidate to start with Thomas Gordon returning, but he should provide valuable depth and has the potential to turn into the ball-hawking free safety Michigan hasn't seen since... [racks brain, shows youth, leaves space blank {Ed-S: Tommy Hendricks? Daydrion Taylor? Chuck Winters? Corwin Brown? Ray/Shazor/Adams were all SS} ].

Secondary... Depth? That Can't Be Right. Heading into the spring, the cornerback position appeared settled with returning starters Blake Countess and J.T. Floyd set to reprise last year's role, with Courtney Avery penciled in as the nickel corner. But now, there are rumblings that junior Terrence Talbott is very much in the mix to start, though I'm not sure who the odd man out would be in that situation; Floyd has the experience and was a consistently strong performer last year, while Countess had his ups and downs but clearly has the higher ceiling. Throw in Raymon Taylor providing good competition at nickel, and all of a sudden Michigan has something resembling depth at cornerback. I'll let that sink in for a second.

Sorry not sorry. Heads asplode again when you realize that Wilson and Marvin Robinson allow Michigan to go two-deep at both safety spots as well. Timez are weird these days.

Killa Cam. Cam Gordon spring practice hype? YOU DON'T SAY. We've been through this song and dance before with less-than-desirable results, so color me skeptical when practice rumblings have Gordon pushing Jake Ryan for the starting gig at SLB. While I highly doubt Ryan is displaced—he's poised for a run at all-conference status—Gordon could be a very solid rotation guy, bringing athleticism off the edge and the ability to drop into coverage. With Bolden pushing for time at MIKE and a whole group of players—senior Brandin Hawthorne, redshirt freshman Antonio Poole, and early enrollee Kaleb Ringer—providing competition behind Desmond Morgan at WILL, it appears there's also lots of linebacker depth to go around.

Can I Get a Consistent Big Leg? Will Hagerup and Matt Wile are battling it out for the starting punter spot, something Brady Hoke addressed in yesterday's presser:

“I think they’re kind of neck and neck. One day one of them is really consistent and one day he’s not. The other guy’s consistent. We’re going to do some stuff on Saturday to really put some heat on them and see how they handle that part of it. We’ve been doing that some, but I think in that environment you get a couple more speed guys on there, I think it will be interesting to see.”

Hokespeak translation: Hagerup = inconsistent big leg, Wile = consistent less big leg. We'll see what happens when there are punt cover teams running at them.

The situation would be resolved if Hagerup could eliminate the 30-yard shanks from his repertoire. Unfortunately, he hasn't done that in two seasons as the starter-when-not-suspended. Wile doesn't have the Zoltan-level upside of Hagerup, but his reliability could give him an edge. We won't really get any definitive answers tomorrow—sample size and all—but it's worth keeping an eye on as we edge closer to football season.

---------------------------------
*I think we'll reach the point in the not-so-distant future where we look back and realize there is absolutely no such thing as a "mild" concussion. Oh, my brain had a minor thump into my skull. No biggie.

Michigan Museday is Just Big Boned, Part II

Michigan Museday is Just Big Boned, Part II

Submitted by Seth on January 31st, 2012 at 8:03 AM

2012-01-29 Museday

This is the continuation of last week's glance at the defensive line prospects from the perspective of body size against M linemen of yore at the same age. The point was to try to project what a certain body size and shape becomes and use that to relate the huge DL crop of 2012 to players we're maybe more familiar with.

This came about when I figured tried sorting the BMI (metric weight divided by height squared) of past players and found similar guys of memory ended up beside each other. Again, BMI is really for assessing whether normal people who are not 18-year-old athletes are overweight; do not interpret the numbers as any measure of how "in shape" any of these guys are.

Last week I did the nose tackles. Moving up the line is the DT, or the 3-tech. A quick technique refresher:

D-line-alignment-and-gaps-copy

Mentally shift the "1" in a 4-3 under to shaded over the center. In Mattison's defense the 3-tech is the guy lined up in the "3" spot on the line, shaded on the outside shoulder of a guard. He's the "4-3 Pass Rush Tackle," and this defense is designed to let him be more of an attacker than a "plugger." Pursuant to our discussion, greater heights that create leverage problems at the nose are not so much of a problem at 3-tech, which makes this guy more of a 3-4 DE than your traditional over-the-guard tackle. And lo the heights climb—a good 2 inches more than NT among Michigan's DTs.

6043760326_97b1775ee5_b

I thought about sprinkling in the SDEs since there's considerable overlap. Mentally start 5-techs around Willie Henry (B.Graham is above that). I'm leaving in the current players nominally slated for DT.

Pos. Name Class Ht Wt-Fr BMI-Fr BMI-Ply % Gain
3T Quinton Washington 2009 6'3 325 40.6 37.7 -7.6%
3T Alan Branch 2004 6'6 326 37.7 38.2 1.5%
3T Renaldo Sagesse 2007 6'4 303 36.9 35.2 -4.8%
3T Will Johnson 2004 6'4 285 34.7 34.7 0.0%
3T Kenny Wilkins 2010 6'3 270 33.7 35.0 3.6%
3T Larry Harrison 2002 6'2 261 33.5 40.2 16.6%
3T Willie Henry 2012 6'3 265 33.1 33.1 0.0%
3T/5T Chris Rock 2011 6'5 267 31.7 31.7 0.0%
3T/5T Keith Heitzman 2011 6'3 251 31.4 31.4 0.0%
3T/5T Matthew Godin 2012 6'6 270 31.2 31.2 0.0%
3T/5T Chris Wormley 2012 6'4 255 31.0 31.0 0.0%
3T/5T Ryan Van Bergen 2007 6'5 260 30.8 34.1 9.7%
3T/5T Greg Banks 2006 6'4 246 29.9 34.7 13.7%
3T/5T Juaquin Feazell 1994 6'4 245 29.8 33.5 10.9%
3T Norman Heuer 1999 6'5 251 29.8 33.4 11.0%
3T John Wood 1998 6'4 242 29.5 34.3 14.2%
3T Ben Huff 1993 6'4 234 28.5 33.2 14.3%
3T Alex Ofili 2001 6'4 230 28.0 35.2 20.4%
3T/5T Patrick Massey 2001 6'8 235 25.8 31.2 17.3%

You can see there's a lot of overlap, but in general the big dudes end up inside and the leaner guys are out. Latest recruit Willie Henry is right with Kenny Wilkins as kind of tweeners between NT and DT, comparable to Will Johnson, who maintained his weight (though it was much Barwicized), and Larry Harrison, who added a lot of it and played  beside like-massed Watson in a more even front.

Will_JohnsonSo long as Michigan runs a 4-3 under you need to stop looking at a 265-pound freshman "DT" and imagine him lifting his way to 300. The talk of "frame" and "carrying more weight" could matter if you're expecting Henry to be a breather for Pipkins (he might be) but not if he's a 3-tech.

After a drop-off you get to the RS freshmen Rock and Heitzman, and incoming Wormley and Godin. This is the Ryan Van Bergen/Norman Heuer*/Grant Bowman region which slowly drifts down a list of tweener 3- and 5-techs like Biggs, Zenkewicz, Banks, and Feazell, then Normal Heuer.*

Those guys were a little smaller than seems optional at the position, but they're also both quintessential Hoke DTs; if Wormley becomes RVB2 and Godin is Bowman, that would be win. Quinton Washington was a larger freshman than any of these guys, much larger than even Alan Branch or 22-year-old freshman Renaldo Sagesse. Q has dropped his BMI by 7.6% to reach a playing shape still large for 3-Tech but not as big as Branch (who was 6'6) played. A freakmonster like Branch or (pro comparison) Shaun Rogers/Tommy Kelly can do well here by bull-rushing hapless guards on a direct route to emptying a QB's alveoli…

(after the jump, you know what's coming)

Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs Illinois

Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs Illinois

Submitted by Brian on November 16th, 2011 at 4:16 PM

Formation notes: They did the usual 4-3 under stuff and went to a nickel package against spread sets. On passing downs the seven-guys-on-the-line okie package was a frequent deployment; on short yardage we saw the return of the Beyer/Ryan 4-4 under.

Then they did some weird stuff. If this looks a bit like a 3-3-5, yeah, sort of :

3-3-5-stack-ish

That's clearly a pass defense D with the ends lined up outside of the tackles and both the spur/bandit-type dudes on the strong side of the formation, ready to drop into man coverage.

This is another exotic pass defense featuring nose tackle Mike Jones (serious) and DT Craig Roh (also serious):

dime-even

Illinois ran at this; Jones and Roh actually forced the play behind them into tacklers; pile fell forward for five.

Personnel notes: Secondary was Floyd/Countess/Kovacs the whole way and mostly Woolfolk but Gordon did pop up from time to time; I'm pretty sure Woolfolk left permanently on the Scheelhaase touchdown since he seemed to aggravate one of his many available injuries. Avery was the nickelback; when Floyd cramped up briefly he moved outside onto Jenkins and Gordon came in at nickel.

Demens and Morgan went the whole way at LB; Ryan played most of the game but gave way to Beyer a little.

The line was mostly the usual RVB/Heininger/Martin/Roh setup with cameos from Black, Clark, and Campbell. Brink got some plays at the tail end.

Show? Show. W00t.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 over Penalty N/A False start -- -5
Emblematic.
O15 1 15 I-Form twins 4-3 under Pass 4 PA scramble Woolfolk 1
Iso fake draws heavy attention but Scheelhaase only has two options in the route and they must both be covered(+2). I find that hard to believe but I'm guessing Woolfolk(+2) jumped the corner route behind Countess and convinced Scheelhaase to scramble. Ryan(-0.5, tackling -1) misses a tackle that would have been a sack, giving up three or four yards.
O16 2 14 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Hitch Floyd Inc
M shows a blitz from Morgan on the outside. Illinois checks, Michigan still runs it. It's picked up. All short routes; Scheelhaase goes to Jenkins on a five yard out that Floyd(+2, cover +2) breaks up. Prelude to ownage.
O16 3 14 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Throwaway Roh Inc
Roh(+1, pressure +2) dives inside on a stunt that gets the Illinois OL. He gets held a little and ends up falling just short of the QB's feet (I might be done typing Scheelhaase); Martin(+0.5) runs after to contain, forcing a throwaway. RPS +1.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 12 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O14 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Run N/A Triple option keeper Van Bergen 3
Kovacs rolls down for an eighth guy. M gets lucky here. RVB(+1) stays on QB throughout the play; Ryan(-2) dives inside the slot receiver and gives up the corner. He's got to have the pitchman here. This should be a pitch for a big gain. Instead QB tries to beat RVB one on one and can't do it. Still a decent gain because M had destroyed the dive, which fine.
O17 2 7 I-Form 4-3 under Pass N/A Long handoff Countess 6
Countess(-1, tackling -1) comes up a little hard and to the inside and ends up getting stiffarmed as Jenkins breaks to the outside. He does manage to delay Jenkins long enough for Ryan(+0.5), flowing hard from the inside, to tackle before the sticks.
O23 3 1 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Iso Martin -1
Beyer/Ryan package. Heininger(+1) drives his OL a couple yards into the backfield. Martin(+2) takes a pop from the center and still does the same to the backside G, putting him on his knees at the LOS and forcing a cutback. This screws up the blocking angles and forces Ford back into Ryan(+1, tackling +1), who came down to the LOS on the snap and took a good angle into the backfield; RVB(+1) beat a block and comes into help prevent any YAC. RPS +1 for the slant forcing the play back into an unblocked player.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 8 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O23 1 10 Shotgun 2back trips 4-3 even Run N/A Triple option dive Heininger 0
Covered slot receiver. Michigan aligns differently than normal with DTs over the guards and Illinois runs a triple option. QB hands off since DE is on him and Countess is hanging on the pitch. Dive goes nowhere thanks to Martin(+1) and Heininger(+1) blasting single blocks back; Roh(+0.5) comes in from the side to finish Pollard after he confirms the give was made.
O23 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Drag Roh Inc
Roh and Black your DEs. Kovacs rolls down. Straight dropback. Illinois looking for the drag; Roh(+1, pressure +1) beats the tackle to the outside and is held; no call. This along with Black(+0.5) falling at the QB's feet causes some shuffling and a back-foot throw that ends up going wide of Jenkins. Completion likely if accurate but Gordon(+0.5, cover +1) seemed to have this locked down for a not so big gain.
O23 3 10 Ace 3-wide Okie Run N/A Down G Van Bergen 5
Scheelhaase checks from a shotgun formation to an inside run out of ace. They're trying to run at the middle of the line as Morgan drops out into a zone; Martin(+1) fights inside a pulling guard—mismatch—and RVB(+1) comes off a block when the second guy moves downfield. Those two combine to tackle for a meh gain.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 1 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 4 PA curl Woolfolk 7
Beyer in. Illinois runs PA. Play develops with no LBs underneath the Jenkins comeback; QB fires it to him. Immediate tackle from Woolfolk(+0.5, tackling +1) and Countess(+0.5). Coverage push, pressure -1.
O27 2 3 I-Form 4-3 under Penalty -- False start -- -5
Erf.
O22 2 8 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 5 Hitch Floyd 14
Kovacs rolls to a slot receiver as M shows one high. Floyd(-1, cover -1) is beat on a ten-yard hitch and can't tackle on the catch. He has to set up and gives up a few more in the name of being safe.
O36 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 Stop and go Floyd Inc
RB motions out into the slot. Michigan sends Beyer off the edge, dropping Roh; stoned. (Pressure -2) QB has all day to pump and then chuck deep. He ends up throwing it away because Floyd(+2, cover +2) was over the top of a double move to the point where throwing it was stupid.
O36 2 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A Zone read keeper Ryan 0
Ryan(+2) momentarily dives down but recovers impressively to force Scheelhaase outside, outside, outside. Floyd(+1) beats a Jenkins block to slow him, whereupon Ryan tackles from behind.
O36 3 10 Shotgun empty Okie Pass 4   Martin 7
Okie package gets the Illinois OL to bust (pressure +2, RPS +2). Martin(+0.5) gets a free run. Scheelhaase actually gets a pass off and completes it but it's off and takes the WR off his feet. Demens(+1) was there to tackle if necessary.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 9 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O5 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Heininger 7
Not entirely sure what the problem is here. Both DTs only take single blocks; Martin fights through his to almost kill this in the hole but can't quite. Morgan takes on the FB basically at the LOS and does funnel to the inside but Demens is getting blocked out of the play since the DTs have not absorbed an extra guy between them. I think this is on Heininger(-1) as the playside DT he's not absorbing a double and doesn't even get an arm-tackle attempt. You would like Morgan(-0.5) to get this closer to the LOS and Demens(-0.5) to not get sealed away totally but they both have tough jobs. RB into the secondary, where Kovacs(+3, tackling +2) puts his helmet on the ball and gets Michigan a turnover.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 14-0, 5 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O32 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass 4 PA Hitch Countess Inc
Scheelhaase clearly late on a lot of these by now but Countess(+2, cover +2) is still there for a quality PBU on a pass that could have been intercepted.
O32 2 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 3 Drag Countess Inc
This may be batted but there's no replay so can't be sure. Demens(-1, cover -1) does get way out of position on another WR's route, dragging well into Morgan's zone. Countess(-1, cover -1) appears to make the same error he did against Iowa, and if Jenkins catches this it's a first down and maybe a bunch more. Jenkins has to delay because the umpire gets in the way; incomplete. Lucky.
O32 3 10 Shotgun empty Okie Pass 4 Sack Ryan -14
Okie set gets Ryan(+1) and Demens(+1) roaring at the QB with one guy to block them (pressure +3, RPS +3); Van Bergen(+1) comes off a block to help sack when Scheelhaase understandably bugs out. QB overwhelmed by three guys on a four man rush == +3.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 3 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O21 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Hitch Morgan 7
Good time on a four man rush (pressure -1). QB has time to survey and fire to a TE for about nine; Morgan(+0.5, tackling +1) puts him down immediately. Given situation coverage fine.
O28 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Yakety snap -- -14
Derp.
O14 3 17 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Down G Van Bergen 1
RVB(+1) shoots inside a downblock and gets enough penetration to force Ford well upfield; Roh is out there on the bounce but gets shoved past the play. Still, that took a long time. Martin flows down the line and forces Ford behind; Avery(+0.5, tackling +1) makes a nice low tackle that takes Ford to the ground immediately. Fumble is ruled but overturned, which costs Michigan seven important seconds. Irritating.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, EOH.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 under Pass 4 PA out Kovacs 12
Kovacs(-1) hesitates on the play action and only belatedly shoots out on his zone; with the outside WR going deep Countess has other responsibilities. Out open, easy pitch and catch (cover -1, pressure -1)
O32 1 10 Pistol twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Zone read dive Martin 11
Reading RVB; he stays responsible and the handoff is made. Martin(-1) fights to the wrong side of his block and Heininger(-1) gets penetration too far upfield, so Illinois gets a crease without doubling any DL. This means LBs are getting thumped; Morgan(-1) is the guy on the playside gap and he starts moving to the LOS before actually stalling and taking a step back before being engulfed. RB into the secondary. Demens(-0.5) also caught a block.
O43 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 over Run N/A Down G Campbell 2
QB checks into an ace from the same pistol set they just ran. Campbell(+1) takes the guy downblocking him and ends up driving him into the backfield, forcing Pollard away from blocking; the playside G is pulling around outside but Pollard isn't going out there. Live I thought this was a missed cut; on tape it's clear this would be a ++ move from the back to cut up and then immediately back out. So Morgan(+2, tackling +2) gets credit for powering through his blocker and decleating Pollard.
O45 2 8 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Speed option Kovacs -4
Ryan(+2) reads the option action and tears ass for the QB, leveling him just as he pitches. FB makes a mistake, peeling back on Ryan in a hopeless chase, and this opens up Kovacs(+2, tackling +1) to do the thing he does by taking a good angle at speed; Pollard cuts inside and gets TFLed. Martin(+1) had blown through blocking and was there to help if necessary, which is crazy impressive.
O41 3 12 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 4 Sack Van Bergen -12
RVB(+2) splits two blockers confused by the okie package; Clark(+1) gets a good drive on a tight end to prevent any lane to move upfield, and Ryan jumps on the QB's back for very large sack. This was a six-man protection on which the QB had zero chance to even look at read one. Pressure +3, RPS +3.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 12 min 3rd Q. Riley O'Toole gets the next Illinois drive.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 over Pass 6 PA TE Flat Morgan 7
Roh ends up free on the edge and gets some decent pressure; this means a TE has released behind him and O'Toole hits him for a decent gain; Morgan(+0.5) reads it pretty well and escorts the guy OOB to prevent a significant one.
O32 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 RB flat Martin Inc
Martin(+2, pressure +2) beats two blockers and roars up the middle of the pocket, forcing a terrible throw Floyd(+1, cover +1) is in a better spot to catch than the RB flaring out.
O32 3 3 Shotgun 4-wide tight Nickel even Pass 4 Quick out Floyd Inc
Quick throw does not allow time for pressure; Floyd(+1, cover +1) is there with a play on a well thrown ball (but not a great one); Toole's ball is too far outside and not caught.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 9 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Scramble Martin 12 (Pen-10)
Roh(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5) pressure(+1) Scheelhaase, forcing a scramble up into the pocket that picks up some yards but probably would have been a sack but for Martin(+1 again) drawing a holding call. Demens(-1) gave up the outside here and turned this from a few into a hypothetical first down.
O15 1 20 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Scramble Martin 8
Here Martin(-1) gets shoved out his lane without actually getting to the QB; Black(-0.5) gets shoved way upfield, albeit by a double (pressure -1); Scheelhaase can find no one (cover +1) and runs for a good gain. This time Demens is blocked out of the play.
O23 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide Dime even Run N/A Zone read dive Jones 5
Mike Jones lined up as the NT. Yeah, I know. Roh the DT. Yeah. Daring Illinois to run; they run. Jones(+1) actually drives the center back(!), forcing a cutback into Roh(+1), who slanted inside and gets a tackle attempt. He's getting blocked and the attempt is run through; it gives Michigan time to rally to the ball and hold the play down. RPS -1? I don't even know. I guess not.
O28 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 4 Scramble Ryan 7
Scheelhaase looking for an out Avery(+1, cover +1) has covered well enough to dissuade; Countess the other guy over there on the deeper route. Zone blitz is coming through now to the outside with Demens(+1) beating a block; Ryan(-1, pressure -1) is out of his lane and allows Scheelhaase to run straight upfield. Martin and Morgan are there to catch him after about five but the pile manages to surge forward just over the line. Impressive power by Scheelhaase.
O35 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Fly Floyd Inc
Plenty of time (pressure -1); Illinos goes four verts and everyone is covered(+3); Floyd(+1) is step for step with Jenkins and would have a play on the ball if it was accurate. It's not.
O35 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Out Avery 14
Plenty of time (pressure -2) without Martin in the game; Avery(+0.5) is actually in pretty good coverage here, forcing a throw high and to the sideline that is executed. Made it tough.
O49 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Back shoulder fade Floyd Inc
Too much time (pressure -1), though the pocket isn't as clean on this outing. Floyd is in press and they test him deep; he is step for step. He can't quite adjust to the back-shoulder fade but this is still a +1, cover +1 because it required a DO and tough catch to complete. This is basically unstoppable if you can execute it. Illinois thinks they do but on replay it turns out they do not—Jenkins juggled it.
O49 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 6 Slant Floyd Inc (Pen+8)
Michigan sends six and is getting there but not in time to prevent a throw here. Floyd(-1, cover -1) picks up a legit PI call for arriving too early but I don't mind this. Much better than arriving late and you don't always get this call on you.
M43 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 6 TE out Morgan 11
Late blitz from a very deep Kovacs; Morgan(-1) gets a chuck on a dragging WR but does let him past into open space since this is raw man coverage. Scheelhaase hits the guy and he can turn up for some YAC. Pressure -1, cover -1. Morgan does make a good tackle(+1).
M32 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read dive Martin 0
Kovacs rolled up for a seventh guy in the box. Martin(+1) surges through the line and forces it outside. Roh(+0.5) forces it further outside by getting inside and diving at Ford's legs; Kovacs(+0.5) is out there containing. Ford turns it up directly into a scraping, tackling(+1) Demens.
M32 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack? Pass 7 Slant Avery Inc
This is kind of stack-y but not really with two pass-rush aligned DEs, three guys in man on the WRs, and both overhang safety types to the same side of the field. M sends every damn body. QB is about to eat Kovacs(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5, pressure +2) as he chucks. He's got a WR on a slant in front of Avery(+1, cover +1), who's tackling on the catch and making life difficult. He may rake the ball out. We can only say may because the WR runs into another Illini WR and goes down as if he'd taken a shot from Reggie Nelson.
M32 3 10 Shotgun empty 3-2-6 dime Pass 5 Tunnel screen Morgan 19
Michigan gets RPSed here with five guys blitzing and no one thinking to peel back. Line is Campbell, Demens, and Roh... so... yeah. Morgan(-1, cover -1) doesn't read the WR screen quickly at all and gets easily blocked; Floyd(-1) is getting blocked but shouldn't let the WR outside like he does. Big gain. RPS -2.
M13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read keeper Clark 13
Clark(-3) forms up, then decides Ford has the ball after Scheelhaase pulls it. This opens up the corner; DBs are in man and not in any position to help. Woolfolk(-1) may be able to tackle before the endzone but pulls up gimpy and can't make it.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-7, EO3Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O38 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Comeback Floyd Inc
Scheelhaase has this open for a first down and just misses it. Floyd(-1, cover -1) beaten. Pressure was getting there.
O38 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Penalty -- Offsides Martin 5
Martin -1.
O43 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read dive Martin 3
Martin(+2) drives his guy so far into the backfield that he impacts the runner three yards behind the LOS; this delay allows Black(+0.5) to flow down and tackle after keeping contain on Scheelhaase. Wish the LBs did a little more here.
O46 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read keeper Black 8
Black(-3) does the same thing Clark did on the last play, diving down on the back after the mesh point. Juice Williams ninja ballfake reprise.
M46 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read dive Morgan 2
Belly play where the backside DT is getting doubled off the ball. RVB(+0.5) does an okay job holding up; Demens(+0.5) and Morgan(+0.5) react quickly enough to remove creases. Martin(+0.5) flows down the line to tackle after his second blocker releases into Morgan.
M44 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Drag Roh 4
DT stunt gets Martin(+0.5) in thanks to RVB(+0.5) threatening to dart past the G. Roh(+1) beats the tackle straight up and Scheelhaase is about to get destroyed(pressure+2) and has to let it go. He's got a quick drag from his TE that Demens(+1, cover +1) is there for an instant tackle on.
M40 3 4 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 5 Hitch Floyd INT
Kovacs late blitz; he is moving right into Scheelhaase's face as he throws but may get blocked. Pressure push. Floyd(+4, cover +3) is breaking on the ball as the WR cuts his route off and picks the ball off; he is one avoided Scheelhaase tackle from a pick six. Monster play.
Drive Notes: Interception, 17-7, 10 min 4th Q. M scores and Illinois gets it back with 10 minutes left down three scores, which informs Michigan's defensive style. I'll keep it in mind as I chart Comeback Ishtar.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Pass 4 Waggle scramble Roh 9
Roh(+0.5) cuts off the corner but gets pushed past the play. QB can't find anyone (cover +1) as he rolls up and scrambles; Demens(-0.5) is not reacting very well and ends up running into a guy trying to block Martin as Scheelhaase cuts behind. RVB tackles from behind.
O29 2 1 Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 under Pass 4 Improv comeback Heininger 12
Heininger(+1, pressure +1) beats an OT around the corner(!) and is held; no call. This does flush Scheelhaase up; Ryan tries to disconnect from his guy and is held as well, so Scheelhaase can fire to a Jenkins comeback for the first. Instant tackle. Cover -1. Refs -2.
O41 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 under Run N/A Zone read keeper Morgan 3
Morgan is over the slot; w/ Roh tucked inside the TE there basically is no backside DE. Scheelhaase pulls as Morgan(+1) comes down on the run. Morgan jukes the TE coming out on him, sliding past the block and forcing the QB to cut up into Demens(+1, tackling +1), who puts him on the turf in space.
O44 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Dumpoff Floyd 6
Illinois lets 27 seconds run off the clock after the play. RT falls; Roh gets a free run. Martin(+1) and RVB(+1) have again stunted and get in Scheelhaase's face (pressure +2). He has to throw hot. That's to the RB leaking out of the backfield. He catches it; Floyd(+0.5) and Morgan tackle(+1) the guy short of the sticks in bounds.
50 3 1 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Iso Campbell 0
Cambpell(+3) in at the nose. He drives the center back and does not give ground when the FB impacts the block. RB cuts back and he sheds, making impact in the backfield. Heininger(+2) beats a blocker as well and is there to help; Roh(+0.5) is getting his body in the way as well. Dang third and one. Dang Campbell.
50 4 1 Goal line 4-4 under Run N/A Down G Demens 1
Roh gets sent inside by the TE as M's interior line prepares for something in there; Illinois is going outside the tackle. Not a big problem and he does have awareness to spin back outside. Beyer(+0.5) takes on a kickout block in a pretty good place; Morgan(+1) gets the pulling G at the LOS and forces it back inside. Demens(+0.5) scrapes over and makes contact with Ford in the hole but can't get square to him and Ford just manages to fall forward. Even when they make it it's not easy.
M49 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Dumpoff Floyd 1
Happy feet; no immediate pressure for the line but Scheelhaase goes to the RB dumppoff; Floyd(+1, tackling +1, cover +1) is there on the catch to tackle in bounds for a meh gain.
M48 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Throwaway Kovacs Inc
Scheelhaase fires OOB; seems he didn't have an immediately open guy and I think he does not trust his OL to go to the next read. Kovacs(+1, cover +1) over the top as this s again Floyd vs Jenkins. Another cover +1 for good stuff everywhere else.
M48 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 4 Improv comeback Martin 12
Martin(-1) gets a free run but for the peeling back, who chops him to the ground. This lets Scheelhaase outside the pocket, where he can wait and zip it to Jenkins in a lot of space (cover -1, pressure -2).
M36 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Dig Gordon Inc
Backups on the DL give Scheelhaase a lot of time (pressure -2); he steps into a deep in to his tight end that Gordon(+2, cover +2) breaks on and nails on the catch. I think this is complete but it's ruled to not be so; in any case this is a safety making life as hard as possible for a WR.
M36 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 4 Improv comeback Van Bergen Inc
Okie business gets RVB(+1, pressure/RPS +1) through the line, whereupon he jerks back as if held; no call. Scheelhaase has to scramble and gets the corner; Roh is coming hard and he has to throw. It's back across his body to Jenkins with Floyd coming hard but not quite there to make a play; ball is too far out in front and eventually dropped. Floyd cramps up and has to come off briefly.
M36 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Sack Roh -16
Four man rush annihilates, with Roh(+2, pressure +4) roaring around the corner as Clark(+2) does the same and a stunt gets RVB(+1) up the middle; with nowhere to go Scheelhaase tries to back out and is engulfed.
O48 4 26 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Post Clark? 32
Scheelhaase has time and steps through the line, which is bad because it makes this into fourth and 16 instead of fourth and 26 (pressure -3). RVB(-2) and Clark(-2) get way outside. Martin does too but he is stunting and supposed to. Would like Mattison to have a guy close to the LOS on a delayed blitz to prevent this; no dice. Scheelhaase steps up and rifles it to Jenkins in front of Kovacs(cover -2); this is really all about letting Scheelhaase through the line and not pressuring him at all.
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 TE Drag Demens 5
Michigan in man so this is a tough cover with a sort of pick route taking Demens a little off an ideal path. He still gets in position to force this OOB after an okay gain. Cover push, Demens +0.5.
M15 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read keeper Morgan? 11
Scheelhaase keeps and sees Clark has kept contain this time; he screwed up. So he just runs the RB's play. This works so well I think M should put it in the playbook. Michigan defends the RB fantastically but this pulls RVB out of the middle of the field as he tackles his assignment. Morgan(-1) takes on a block and doesn't shed it; he's really the only guy with a shot at holding this down and can't do it. Scheelhaase into the secondary, where Kovacs forces him into a good tackle from Countess(+0.5, tackling +1). RPS -1?
M4 1 G Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read dive N/A 3
Going backside and with no scrape it is really hard to hold this down without giving up contain on the QB. Clark keeps contain and then comes down, making a good play to tackle as the guy passes the LOS but this can't prevent him from picking up three. I won't RPS this but I kind of want to.
M1 2 G Ace 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A QB sneak Martin 1
They don't get it. RVB(+1) and Martin(+1) are basically the whole play. Illinois does get a yard, but they needed slightly more than one.
M1 3 G Goal line Goal line Run N/A Iso N/A 1
They get it.
Drive Notes: Pyrrhic touchdown, 24-14, 3 min 4th Q. Oh, all right, I'll do the last one because it's fun.
Ln Dn Ds O Form DForm Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Sack Van Bergen -8
M stunt gets Martin(+1) and RVB(+2) through (pressure +3) and RVB gets there first. Two guys block air and one tries to block Martin.
O12 2 18 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 TE out Roh Inc
Roh(+1, pressure +1) gets driving pressure that forces Scheelhaase out of the pocket; Scheelhaase has a TE breaking open but has to float it because underneath coverage(+1) is there and overshoots.
O12 3 18 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Scramble Martin 1
Avery comes from the corner; Martin(+1, pressure +1) shoves a tackle into him and then bursts upfield. Scheelhaase can scramble out because of some dudes falling and stuff, but cannot find anyone open(cover +1); Avery comes back to tackle. Would be a sack but the guy manages to fall over the line.
Drive Notes: Punt. 31-14, EOG

So who do we pick up next?

What?

We have Woodson. Now we need to go back to medieval Europe or ancient Greece to pick up babes and/or Socrates.

Wouldn't it be better to go get other people who can play football?

Do we need any?

I…

I don't know. I just don't know what to do with myself when there's a three play series on which:

  1. Morgan decleats the RB in such a way as to get Craig James hootin'.
  2. Ryan decleats the QB on a speed option in such a way as to get the stadium going "ohhhhhhhh I hope he's not dead."
  3. Later on that same play Kovacs makes a textbook tackle in space.
  4. Ryan Van Bergen roars up the middle of the pocket and jumps on Scheelhaase's back like he expects to round up cattle on the sideline.

It almost can't be real. By the time the punter hit the field I was afraid I would wake up to someone rubbing a beaver in my face.

kenny-demens-beaver

No… no… NONONONO… It was all a dream… no… no… I want to go back

So we're totally getting ahead of ourselves, right?

We have to be. I mean, last week's performance was exactly acceptable and we were happy with this. We are not the '86 Bears. We must not get hopes up. Illinois couldn't score on Purdue until there were 10 minutes left.

Hopes are totally up.

I can neither confirm nor deny that statement. I can only point you towards the most insane, ridiculous, beaver-pelt-laden congregation of numbers I may have purveyed in the history of doing this. I present

DOOMCHART

Doomchart.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 14.5 2 12.5 To be fair, two points in garbage time. HAHAHAHA
Martin 19 3 16 HAHAHAHAHAHA
Roh 9 - 9 Oh… oh wow.
Heininger 5 2 3 Didn't get in on the sack explosion largely because he's lifted in the nickel.
Clark 3 3 0 Zone read WTF was kind of magnificent. More later.
Black 1 3.5 -2.5 Other guy to WTF a zone read.
Campbell 4 - 4 Time to get excited about him again until next week.
TOTAL 55.5 13.5 42 That is nuts.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Morgan 5.5 4.5 1 Step forward from last week; still freshman.
Demens 7.5 3.5 4 Second consecutive solid game. Pretty good in coverage.
Ryan 6.5 3.5 3 Showed the guys above how to do it on the zone read.
Fitzgerald - - - DNP
Beyer 0.5 - 0.5 Few plays.
Hawthorne - - - DNP.
Jones 1 - 1 Charts as a DT. HAHAAHAH
TOTAL 21 12.5 8.5 I'll take it from two freshmen and a junior.
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 14.5 3 11.5 You think the DL is nuts, Floyd thinks. I'll show you nuts.
Avery 3 - 3 Good day. Quality option as a third guy.
Woolfolk 2.5 1 1.5 Floyd made him not entirely necessary. May still be hurt.
Kovacs 7 1 6 Forced fumble, good tackling, is Kovacs.
T. Gordon 2.5 - 2.5 Thumping hit forced technical incompletion.
Countess 3 2 1 Also had a jumped Jenkins PBU.
Van Slyke - - - DNP
TOTAL 32.5 7 25.5 NUTS
Metrics
Pressure 31 18 13 Stunts and okie annihilated OL.
Coverage 30 12 18 HAHAHAHA.
Tackling 13 2 87% I can't even remember a broken tackle.
RPS 11 3 8 Annihilation.

So… yeah. There is something seriously wrong with the Illinois offense. There has to be, because you can't do the above without the offense helping you out quite a bit. I think Scheelhaase is perpetually late on his throws, and that they're tipping their passes, and that their offensive line is a total sieve. All that makes their offense really, really bad.

Even so… good gravy. Michigan had two DL at Brandon Graham levels of performance and a third not far off. I can't remember any cornerback ever hitting double digits before, and I can't remember a near 75% coverage day. I'm usually happy when coverage is a push. On Saturday, this is what they did to four verts:

four-verts-2

There's a dude behind the one slot guy that you think might be open. He is not open. No one is open.

That is easily the best performance since 2006.

JT FLOYD?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!???!?!!??

Word. Guy may not be the fastest player in the world but has he been beaten deep once this year? Not really. Michael Floyd got a 30-yard fade on him but even on that play he was there making life difficult and I +1ed him. He's had problems in run support… okay. He just spent a day breaking up a ton of short stuff, never getting threatened deep…

…and putting the cherry on top:

Even when Jenkins did get something on him it was often tough:

That guy is right on the sideline, which contributes to the overturn when he juggles it. If that's what Floyd's giving up, okay. I'll take that and a PI on which you broke for the ball too early.

These posts have started off cautious, moved towards "I know you won't believe this but…," and are now at a crossroads. People: JT Floyd is a legitimately good Big Ten corner. If he maintains this level of performance the last two weeks he should get consideration for All Big Ten.

TONY GIBSON MINUS ALL OF THE POINTS

Minus all of the points.

Are we at Alan MFin' Branch levels on third and one yet or what?

Not quite, but sort of yes. Alan MFin' Branch levels:

You can see 6'6", 330 of angry New Mexican hauling the tail end of that graph down like a black hole in spacetime. That's Alan Branch. 33 percent! On third and one! Six of eighteen! SIX OF EIGHTEEN!

!!!

Seth did the legwork for this year on Tuesday and came up with 44%, which isn't quite Michigan 2006. It is, however, insanely good. What's more, when he chopped out the MAC opponents from this year the numbers were six of… nineteen.

image

If you look at a third and one as an opportunity to boot the opponent off the field Michigan is literally doubling an average success rate and doing better than that against the meat of the schedule. The entire front seven shares in this accomplishment, as does Mattison, but IME the main guy in this success is Mike Martin.

The guy is the center of most of these plays. He gets doubled and he still gets penetration; the tailback cuts back and meets unblocked dudes.

I mean… we're talking about comparing this defense to 2006—the very best part of the 2006 defense—and saying "not quite as good except against real competition." My jaw has made it halfway to the Orb of Zot. Big Ten Wonk has authorized use of the word "stunned." THIS IS SURPRISING.

Remember last year when sometimes we'd line up with a three man line on third and one? And not even blitz anyone? HAHAHAHA

Aren't you a little harsh on those zone reads that got outside?

No. I mean, seriously:

clark-er-2

This is cool. We've got this.

clark-er-3

GUH?

clark-er-4

Duh.

That's a nothing play—maybe a loss—turned into a touchdown because Clark's not looking at the ball, which is literally right in front of his face. This is how it is done:

Run at the guy with the ball.

That okie package was lethal, wasn't it?

Check BWS for a breakdown of the different blitzes run from it. Chris identified six, seemingly all of which ended with Scheelhaase running for his life or losing it. Por ejemplo:

Now that Michigan is keeping a deep safety on these things and not offering free touchdowns—Mattison learned that lesson in one try—they are increasingly difficult to deal with as new players and stunts get added to them. It's almost like Scot Shafer was on to something.

This is the week we get excited about Campbell again, isn't it?

Yeah. Check that Morgan decleater and see who forces the cutback into death: Campbell. On a late third and one that Michigan stuffed it was Campbell, not Martin, who blew the play up:

Get push, take on a fullback, shed and tackle… that's a good play right there. Illinois OL caveats apply; we'll probably be back to fretting next week.

What went wrong on the fourth down play?

The main problem was the fact that it turned into fourth and 18, not fourth and 26, when the line split like the Red Sea and allowed Scheelhaase to run up in the pocket:

With another ten yards to close the distance Kovacs probably gets there. I'd like to see a delayed blitzer in there to prevent that from happening.

Have any random notes for Borges he will roll his eyes at?

This botched decision by Scheelhaase worked out well:

Man, I think we should do that. We should run a fake inside zone that Robinson ostentatiously keeps on with the intent of pausing and then running up in the same hole the tailback is hitting. The ol' fake inside the fake.

Heroes?

Everybody. Especially Martin, Van Bergen, and Floyd.

Goats?

WTF, get out of here with your goats.

What does it mean for Nebraska and the future?

I think we're in for a bit of a letdown; Nebraska's wacky option system does a lot of stuff that Michigan has not seen before—last week they turned the inverted veer into a speed option and I was like "oh that is so cool"—that attacks Michigan's still-youthful edges. I can see Nebraska effectively attacking the outside and making the Martin/Heininger/RVB axis a smaller factor than it's been the past couple games. Also that just can't happen again. My heart has already burst out of its little box; if Michigan holds Nebraska to 30 yards rushing it will emerge from my chest.

That said, it's suddenly hard to envision Nebraska having much success in the air even if Taylor Martinez is on a relative tear. They'll probably pick some stuff up on play action and the like, but Nebraska's had a hard time moving the ball against… quality defenses… like Michigan has. /faints

Anyway: 270 yards against MSU and victory only because they did to the MSU offense what Michigan did to that of Illinois, 331 against Penn State, 335 against Wisconsin. They did put up some points and yards in the frenetic final quarter against OSU; other than that it has been tough sledding.

As for the future… man. Woolfolk and Gordon seem like a push, so if Michigan can find some defensive linemen they are set for next year. Come on, Campbell.

Monday Presser Transcript 10-24-11: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser Transcript 10-24-11: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on October 24th, 2011 at 4:11 PM

[No coordinator or Wednesday presser this week, fyi]

News bullets and other important things:

  • We might be seeing more of Frank Clark, Brennen Beyer, and Raymon Taylor.
  • Woolfolk and Barnum seem to be better.
  • Lewan had an ankle injury but is expected back on Saturday. 
  • With Barnum back, there also will be competition at right guard (currently Patrick Omameh).

Brady Hoke

Press Conference

from file

Opening remarks: “It was good in some ways to have a bye week. From a health standpoint, I think it always helps you a little bit, no matter where you’re at in the season, to get a little more rested. I think our guys did a nice job with that. I thought our practices on Tuesday, Thursday, and yesterday were at a high tempo. I think there was a lot of good teaching that went on. When you look at the fundamentals of where we need to improve: blocking, tackling, all those things that go along with football, I think that was good. We’ve got five guaranteed opportunities left that we need to focus on, and obviously this week is Purdue.”

Any new players cracking the depth chart? “Frank Clark [is] one that comes to mind. I think Blake [Countess] has been playing, but I think that helps. Raymon Taylor, when you look at it from that vantage point, that’s good for them to get a little more work in.”

When did you move on from Michigan State, and how fired up are you for Purdue? “Well, we did that on Tuesday. Tuesday was the first time we met together as a team. [We] went through the film, met after the film, went out and practiced, and moved forward.”

You put a lot of emphasis on the trenches. How are they doing by your assessment? “I would say we are not where we need to be with the consistency of how we want to play on both groups. I think there’s been times when, from an offensive standpoint, we blocked the line of scrimmage pretty well and created movement and the things that you want to do at the point of attack. And then I think there are times we haven’t blocked it as well. I would say the same thing on defense. I think Mike’s been very consistent. He’s played better and better every week when you evaluate what he’s done in the middle. I thought Will Heininger played a better football game a couple weeks ago. Maybe one of his better games. But the consistency of all four guys is something we need to keep striving for.”

Greg Brown left the team. Why, and have you ever had guys leave in the middle of the season before? “Greg is no longer part of our team, and yes. I’ve had guys leave.”

(more after the jump.)

Can't Fight This Organic Superstructure Anymore

Can't Fight This Organic Superstructure Anymore

Submitted by Brian on September 19th, 2011 at 12:58 PM

9/17/2011 – Michigan 31, Eastern Michigan 3 – 3-0

denard-emudenard-praying

AnnArbor.com

The first quarter is a stupid quarter. It eats American cheese still in the wrapper and sits down for reality TV marathons. I suggest that in the future all first quarters will be abolished in favor of other, better quarters, like the second, third, and fourth.

That is the future, though, when Michigan's depth on both lines isn't horrifying and the quarterbacks have returned to their baseline state—enormous, ponderous, NFLerous. Right now we have to endure first quarters and run Denard Robinson 26 times for 198 yards against Eastern Michigan because first quarters are stupid.

They leave us so spooked that Borges sends Denard out to add three carries to his total in a 28-3 game with ten minutes left, and in doing so explodes the idea that this offense is not Denard, Denard, Denard. Next Saturday the real lyrics to Varsity* will be

"Robinson… Robinson. Robinson, oh Robinson /
Robinson Robinson oh Robinson!"

The Saturday after that he will take all 110,000 tickets. By October he will have evolved an organic superstructure that slowly replaces the metal and concrete of Michigan Stadium with rainbow rows and gently whinnying unicorn hand-warmers. 

Is this sustainable? Almost certainly not. Will an exhausted Denard evaporate mid-season as the demands on his existence become too much to even contemplate, let alone bear? Almost definitely.

Does Michigan have a choice? No.

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

We may be reading way too much into these two drives:

DRIVE #2

  • (1st and 10) Toussaint, F. rush for 1 yard to the MICH2 (CUDWORTH, J.;MULUMBA, Andy).
  • (2nd and 9) Robinson, D. pass incomplete to Roundtree, Roy.
  • (3rd and 9) Robinson, D. rush for no gain to the MICH2 (WESTERMAN, J.;KASHAMA, K.).

DRIVE #3

  • (1st and 10) Toussaint, F. rush for loss of 1 yard to the MICH20 (CUDWORTH, J.).
  • (2nd and 11) Robinson, D. pass incomplete to Koger, Kevin.
  • (3rd and 11) Robinson, D. pass incomplete to Roundtree, Roy.

One of those started at the Michigan one and the other was a victim of Denard's early-season inability to throw. But they did not move the ball against Eastern. This blog's prediction that Michigan would manage to exceed Eastern's terrible YPC yielded from under center was nowhere close to true. Combined with a bunch of two-yard runs against Notre Dame the overall effect is to look at a run out of the I-form as a wasted down.

Michigan ditched any semblance of a pro-style offense at that point, whereupon the drives ended like so: TD, three and out, TD, TD, TD, 21-yard field goal. That is what life is supposed to look like against Eastern Michigan, and if we have to wear Denard Robinson into a beaming nub by God that's what we'll do.

Maybe those two drives are flukes. That would be odd since it seems pretty hard to go from five years of primarily zone blocking to primarily power, from an offense that is based on being faster and smarter than an opponent to one based on being bigger and stronger. Remember the theory that stated Michigan's linemen not adding any weight over the offseason was clever gamesmanship? Yeah, not so much: that's just how big they are. That's big for humans, but not beef machines.

Once you add the above into the two-yards-and-cloud-of-despair ND under center runs you've found a dataset nearing significance. It says Shotgun Forever, for the next two years.

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

Borges flipped his script immediately after, and that's great. Long term projections that these coordinators are the best in a long time remain on track. Getting Denard on a similar track is a lot more pressing, unfortunately.

I keep bringing this up in the UFRs but it's worth repeating: this is a regression. Why it's a regression is unknown, but the legions of people declaring Denard a "terrible" passer are reacting to the most recent data only. Before that he was not Chad Henne but he was not awful, either. I mean, sweet hotpants in a pickle bun, I have him for 15 good throws downfield, 2 meh ones, and 2 poor ones against Wisconsin(!) last year. These are throws past the LOS, not screens. Wisconsin! I take these numbers specifically to reduce the noise you get from drops and completion percentage and the numbers say he's not Chad Henne but when you put him in last year's offense he's not that far off.

So… last year's offense. Borges's next step is trying out the snag, all-hitch, and curl/flat routes that Denard had gotten comfortable with last year to see if his persistent inaccuracy is purely mechanical or an artifact of nerves that come with unfamiliarity with the offense. (Also, can we get bubble screen action up in here?)

If he's not the relentlessly accurate guy it seemed in the first half of last year, neither is he the guy who can't seem to complete anything this year. There is a ridiculously good offense lurking somewhere in Michigan's personnel. It's up to Borges to find it. Declaring the offensive line average and blaming Denard Robinson is faintly ridiculous. They managed to muddle through with those anchors last year.

Michigan wins games down the road by making Denard the focus and exploiting how opponents react to that.

drew-dileo-emu

If it doesn't work, okay. It's all you've got, for a given, incredibly sexy version of "all you've got." 

*[Do not be fooled by the words on the video board. The only words in "Varsity" are "oh" and "Varsity." Try it.]

Non-Bullets of First Quarter Hatred

Edge issues. I'm not enormously concerned about the defense because most of the issues seemed to have one very obvious cause: freshman DE/SLB types losing the edge on jet sweeps. Jake Ryan in particular was exploited to the point where they threw Brennen Beyer on the field, who we've seen have major edge issues. I'd rather have one obvious coaching point to work on than a wholesale breakdown. Michigan seemed to adjust in-game and showed better edge contain before the day was over.

Prog-ress?

BONUS: Frank Clark had one of the day's most impressive plays on a late jet sweep where he set up in a good spot, baited the WR inside, popped outside his blocker, and forced the guy back into pursuit. Mental +2 there.

Changes. Thomas Gordon got an entire game as a deep safety and made a spectacular interception; in his stead the nickelback was Raymon Taylor. Taylor's main contribution was picking up a personal foul on EMU's long drive that got stuffed at the one; after that Michigan realized EMU was about as likely to throw as they were and took him off the field. The non Black/Roh DE spot was a jumble of Clark, Beyer, and Ryan.

Q: was the Gordon move a permanent thing or a reflection of EMU's non-spread offense? I'm hoping it's the former. I've been high on him since early last year and the coverage on his INT was another tick in a positive direction.

Annual exposure to Vincent Smith zealots. Man, I'm all like… yeah. No offense to Vincent Smith's quality day against the Eagles, but it's still Toussaint. There is a common theme in the long Smith runs against Eastern: the ability for grandma shotgunning a beer to run about that far.

vincent-smith-emu

He's a great guy to have on your team and he's going to be a major part of the offense because he's a B+ in many aspects and an A+ at blitz pickups, but Toussaint is faster, more agile, and has at least equal vision.

Meanwhile, Rawls looked exactly like Kevin Grady on two short runs. First impressions there are meh. This is surprising to people named Fred Jackson but not many others.

Redshirt status. A game against Eastern that manages to get a couple of garbage time drives in gives us some hints as to who's getting a redshirt and who isn't:

  • BURNED: Wile, Taylor, Countess, Morgan, Beyer, Clark, Rawls
  • STILL REDSHIRTED: Carter, Hollowell, Brown, Heitzman, Miller, Rock, Poole, Bryant, Bellomy, Hayes

Pick a random day three weeks into any football season and you'll probably find me railing against inexplicably burned redshirts, but I don't have an issues with the guys above getting in the game. All the guys on defense save Countess could develop into starters as early as this year, and Rawls is another option at a tailback spot that needs them.

Recruiting numbers. It's three weeks into the season and we haven't seen Mike Cox even get his ceremonial long run against crappy competition. Terrance Robinson made a brief cameo at the end of the EMU game. Neither should be expecting fifth years at this point; if they don't receive them Michigan will be at the 26 number they've been projecting for a while. That's if they don't lose anyone between now and Signing Day, which is possible but unlikely. With four stars knocking down the door I can see this class getting to 28.

The main issue getting there won't be the scholarship limit but the cap on enrolled signees. That's 25, but you can dodge it by enrolling kids early. Michigan has just one EE committed right now. That's not something they can change since early enrollees acquire the status by taking a lot of summer school. I haven't heard that anyone Michigan is pursuing is planning on an early enrollment, so they might end up with a couple empty slots on Signing Day.

The early enrollee exception is OSU commit-type substance Bri'onte Dunn. The rumblings on him have oscillated between 100% OSU and 100% undecided, and of late it's pushed more towards the latter. He took a visit to Penn State last weekend and declared himself "confused," and after that Miami game it looks like he'll have a very brief window to get acquainted with whoever OSU's new coach is before he's on campus somewhere. Dunn is a touted player at a major position of need who Michigan would yank away from OSU; he would also allow them to take a 27th player. He's kind of important.

Here

StephenRKass asks if defense and special teams are "becoming a positive." D is wait until later. Special teams do seem better but they aren't championship level yet. Kickoffs both ways are terrible, punt coverage has been weak, and I'd like to see the kickers hit an actual field goal instead of a glorified extra point before I stop panicking about them. Once Hagerup gets back the punting and Jeremy Gallon's sudden ability to field and return punts probably make it average.

ST3 goes inside the box score, and Lordfoul provides his weekly Einstein quote recap.

Elsewhere

Media: I should have been linking these all along, but Mike DeSimone's database is always key. Mikoyan shot from the sidelines. He's got pregame, in-game and postgame posts plus a bonus shot of an MGoBlue barn.

Hype video:

Fergodsakes.

There is also a torrent of saner size up.

Newspaper stuff: SDSU's Rocky Long says Hoke has "huge advantage" since he was just SDSU's coach. AnnArbor.com's Kyle Meinke points out the squib guh:

The Wolverines' special teams, at times, looked ugly in the 31-3 rout. Michigan's squib kick with 39 seconds left in the first half is a perfect example. The stratagem can work sometimes, but this was not one of them.

The call was especially egregious against a team such as the Eagles, who passed just six times the whole game. Could they have traversed a long field in such a short time?

Likely not.

But the squib gave the Eagles the ball at their own 47-yard line, and they needed just four plays — all runs — to get into position for a 50-yard field goal. That's just too easy.

Squibs are way over-used. Unless there are fewer than 20 seconds left in a half they're a bad idea, but coaches tend to prioritize risk aversion over expected value.

Meinke also suggests Vincent Smith is not the right guy for kick returns due to his lack of speed. I agree with that, too. If Shaw is third-string-ish on the tailback depth chart wouldn't this be a spot for him?

Rothstein says Smith makes a case to start. Minnesota is a noon BTN game, which is cool by me: I actually get to watch some college football this year.

Blog stuff: BWS has his frown on:

After a 7/18, 95 yard (5.3 YPA) day against a MAC bottom dweller, it's difficult to see Denard Robinson as a sustainable option at quarterback in Borges' offense. It may sound reactionary, but after another game riddled with poor decisions (chucking the ball into double coverage) and spotty accuracy, and against competition that shouldn't be able to compete with Michigan's athletes, it's clear that Denard's struggles in the passing game last year, his uninspiring spring game, and his poor passing performances against Notre Dame and Western Michigan are no flukes. He locks onto receivers, struggles with his accuracy, and frequently makes near backbreaking decisions.

This is true so far and made up for by Denard's other talents. We are almost an old-school option offense that needs to stay in front of the chains. He's real mad about burning Rawls's redshirt, though. I'm all like whatever: Rawls may be needed this year since Hopkins is full of doghouse and the starters are fragile. And I'm betting that by the time Rawls would have been a fifth year senior there's someone better on the roster anyway.

Holding the Rope:

Is it just me or does our offense look like the one that that one friend--the friend that everybody has--always runs against you in Madden/NCAA...you know the friend. He's usually the guy who says things like "watch these 4 verts bro" before throwing a bomb on first, second, and third down (he also goes for it on fourth down regardless of field position). Another hallmark of this friend's offensive strategy is a running game that involves picking a team with a fast quarterback and running outside every time that he doesn't throw deep (which is every pass).

TTB provides awards, is amongst the legions saying "26 carries for Denard against EMU?" Maize Pages updates just as I post.

UPDATE: So I wondered which 80s-era estrogen rock band was responsible for the title reference and googled it. The result: REO Speedwagon. REO Speedwagon's mindblowing video for the thing, which has almost as many ridiculous haircuts as profiles of me do and obviates the need to actually do LSD:

Good Lord. I'm just going to float off into the sky now.

Preview 2011: Defensive Line

Preview 2011: Defensive Line

Submitted by Brian on August 30th, 2011 at 4:42 PM

Previously: The story, the secondary, and the linebackers.

Depth Chart
STRONG DE Yr. NOSE TACKLE Yr. THREE-TECH Yr. WEAK DE Yr.
Will Heininger Sr.* Mike Martin Sr. Ryan Van Bergen Sr.* Craig Roh Jr.
Nate Brink So.* Richard Ash Fr.* Will Campbell Jr. Jibreel Black So.
Chris Rock Fr. Quinton Washington So* Kenny Wilkins Fr.* Frank Clark Fr.
 
If Will Campbell had just taken to a trio of defensive line coaches breathing down his neck for eight months the top line of that depth chart would be almost great: two seniors, two juniors, three returning starters, a couple all-conference types, and one moon-sized five-star recruit emerging into the starting lineup. The depth… eh… not so much, but as far as lines go that's a pretty good start en route to defensive competency.
 
Campbell didn't. Halfway through camp Ryan Van Bergen got flipped into the interior of the line and the coaches started talking about Nate Brink, then put near 300-pound Will Heininger, who sat out last year with an ACL tear, on top of the depth chart. Both are walk-ons. Yipes.

Defensive Tackle

Rating: 4.5

mike-martin-indianamike-martin-nd-2010

We'll start with the good. Last year, freshman Jibreel Black showed up and got an eyeful of what college defensive linemen were like when he laid eyes on Mike Martin. He came away from the experience with his eyes opened and his grammar damaged:

"When I see some plays that Mike (Martin) makes in practice, I be like dang. His explosiveness, his technique that he uses. You can tell the work that he put in with it.”

MIKE MARTIN
lolblocking
LOL single block
LOL zoning him
LOL pulling
LOL double block
LOL triple block
beast mode
authoritatively sacks
blasts through line
driving the center
zips between the C and G
consumes Chappell's soul
made every play
bad occassionally
easily scooped

In the right situation (three-technique instead of the nose) with the right amount of healthy ankles (two instead of zero), Martin could make All-America selectors be like dang.

Unfortunately, it seems like Martin is never going to get to move to that three-tech spot it seems he was made for. It's not that he's a bad nose tackle. Martin is big and strong and can take on double teams just fine. But he's also amazingly quick for a 300-pound squat-beast, so much so that the first thing Greg Mattison thought when he saw him was "we should use him like Shawn Crable." In the spring game passing downs Martin was in on often featured him in a two-point stance, hopping around like a linebacker. This is not your typical nose tackle.

If permitted to go one-on-one with guards used to holding off slugs and the results could be spectacular, like Jonathan Babineaux 28-TFL spectacular. But with no one else on the roster who won't get annihilated at the nose, Martin will have to tough out the double teams.

If you flip through the videos at right you'll see an awful lot of Martin crushing people until the Michigan State game, and then hardly anything. That's because a Spartan lineman chop-blocked Martin at the end of a game that was well in hand. Martin limped off and was diagnosed with the dreaded high ankle sprain. From then on he was not himself.

Sometimes this manifested by not being on the field at all. Martin missed most of the Iowa and Penn State games, big chunks of Illinois, and didn't play at all against Purdue. He started to get his mojo back afterwards but only gradually. You can see the effect in his UFR chart:

Opponent ++ -- TOT Notes
UConn 8 3 5 Late minuses for getting too pass-rush-y. Demands doubles. Good start.
Notre Dame 12 0.5 11.5 Beast mode. Best game of career.
UMass 25 - 25 I just write the numbers down!
BGSU 7 1 6 Quick passing offenses reduce DL impact; still did well when called upon.
Indiana 11.5 3 8.5 Actually got beat out by someone, also round this down to +7 or so.
MSU 8 1 7 A good performance, but coming down from his ridiculous nonconference level.
Iowa 0.5 1 -0.5 Clearly hurt.
Penn State - 1 -1 I'm going to throw myself off a bridge.
Illinois 8 1 7 Was more back than it looked live, but still out a lot more than usual.
Purdue - - - DNP
Wisconsin 8.5 2 6.5 One old-style "I destroy this play" plus a few more scattered good bits and some half points.

Martin was a nonfactor the next two weeks and only moderately effective against Illinois (remember that the wacky nature of that game meant more plays for DL to rack up points). To preserve my sanity I didn't UFR the dismal final two games of Rodriguez's career. Martin had two tackles and four assists against OSU and one measly assist in the bowl game; none of those were behind the LOS.

Healthy again and less abandoned in the middle of the defense, Martin's numbers should soar. Before the sprain Martin was on pace for 11 TFLs and 4 sacks; after it he got just a half TFL the rest of the year. While the front of the schedule is a bit easier, Martin had 8.5 TFLs and 51 tackles a year ago. Reasonable progression should have gotten him to 11.  Add in further progression plus three DL coaches plus a bit more help on the line plus a free-roaming QB attack role and 15 to 18 TFLs plus a little more QB terror should be within reach. He should be All Big Ten. He might be better.

rvb-notre-dameMichigan's Ryan Van Bergen, #53, hauls down Michigan State University quarterback Kirk Cousins during secind quarter action of Saturday afternoon, October 3rd's clash between the in-state rivals at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing. 
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com

Ryan Van Bergen is your new starting three-tech. Great at nothing but consistent and durable, Van Bergen is a lot better than he gets credit for. As a put upon 3-3-5 DE last year he had 5 sacks and 9.5 TFLs despite getting very little help from the structure of the defense. He was often left by himself against two defenders, especially when it came to the passing game. GERG loved him some three-man rush.

/shakes fist

Van Bergen graded out almost as well as Martin over the course of the season thanks to his steady acquisition of points and half points for standing his ground against doubles or pushing offensive linemen into places they don't want to be. The UFR chart is really impressive:

Opponent ++ -- TOT Notes
UConn 3 - 3 Not exactly BG, but I don't think he has to be if it's a stack.
Notre Dame 4.5 3 1.5 Unproductive until late; irresponsible on midline zone read.
UMass 5 1.5 3.5 Lots of half points for doing decently on run plays.
BGSU 5.5 2 3.5 Decent impact in little opportunity.
Indiana 12 - 12 Excellent against the run, got some pass rush, mentally round this down to a +8.
MSU 9.5 1 8.5 One impact sack, some additional pressure, solid against the run. Good player.
Iowa 5.5 1 4.5 Best performance on the day but that's just average.
Penn State 10 3 7 The solitary player to have a good day.
Illinois 10.5 3.5 7 Developing into a fine player. Now consistently putting up points.
Purdue 7 3 4 May have been unfairly blamed for the big Henry keeper.
Wisconsin 3 6 -3 Did not make many plays; seemed to give up big cutback lanes easily. Maybe an RPS thing.

Van Bergen got better as the season went along and kept playing well in the face of total annihilation. He produced, and then Martin went out and he kept producing. A lot of the things he did were not explosive look-at-me plays, but the meat-and-potatoes grunt work required to keep your linebackers clean. This is emblematic:

That's not even an assist but by slanting past his blocker and then holding his ground he occupies two blockers and closes the hole so far that the RB runs into one of the guys trying to block him.

There were also a few explosive look-at-me plays, like this one:

RYAN VAN BERGEN
pass rush
stunts effectively
tough customer
annihilates guy trying to downblock him
slants into the lane
swims past Iowa OL
bounces off to tackle
picks off a pulling guard
all too easy
needs more beef
Wisconsin too much

That is Van Bergen lined up as a three-tech between Craig Roh and Mike Martin smoking MSU RT J'Michael Deane. Deane was apparently not much of a pass protector, but he's representative of the sort of guys RVB will be going up against this year—guards who are crushing run blockers but maybe not so good at pass pro.

His rushing isn't on Brandon Graham's level—last year's prediction he would "brush up against double digit sacks" fell three or four short. As the third-most-threatening guy on the line he's pretty good. If Michigan can get him single blocked by rushing more than three guys he might get there this year. He had five sacks from the three-tech spot as a sophomore; two years of experience and the luxury of being flanked by Martin and Roh will give him opportunities to slant past one-on-one blocking.

What's more, Van Bergen was an ironman last year. On a defense saddled with mediocre or worse backups at every spot, Van Bergen saw more snaps than any DL, often going entire games without being substituted. This year's line has no depth, either. That trait is going to be useful.

The move to three-tech won't be an issue. He played it two years ago and when Michigan went to a four man front last year they stuck him back inside. He's now 290, a three year starter, and a senior. He's a good bet to crack double-digit TFLs and get some All Big Ten mention.

Come On Backups

will-campbell-bgsuwill-campbell-backfield

yes, I wrote this section when I thought he was going to start

Well… there's Will Campbell. The all-everything recruit (except to ESPN, where he was their #22 OT) has languished on the bench, bounced to OL, and then gotten bounced from the starting lineup by a walk-on.

ESPN's skepticism about Campbell's tendency to stand straight up turned out to be right. When placed on the field as a freshman he struggled badly. Canonical example recycled from last year:

Description recycled from last year:

I'm not at the point where I can tell you the ten different things Campbell did to get blown four yards downfield, but I can blather on about pad level: man, pad level. Am I right?

You'll note that Campbell was playing a three-tech and got smoked one on one. The hype about how Campbell is an obvious three-tech and having him at the nose was another symptom of GERG's madness still has to combat Campbell's pad level, man.

At least his weight is back on the downswing. Last year he was listed at 333, significantly up from his freshman weight. Rodriguez was openly displeased with his conditioning last year, and he never saw the field outside of the goal line package. That's not good; it's even worse when Greg Banks and Renaldo Sagesse are the guys getting time instead of you. He's down eleven pounds this year and it's safe to say that's for the best. There is no good weight above 320.

Teammates and coaches have started talking Campbell up. While anyone who remembers the three weeks that Ron English spent talking up Johnny Sears knows that's not necessarily an assurance the player in question will be good, or even not-awful, at least this time around the conditioning grumblings are being directed elsewhere. Nose tackles do tend to take some time, as last year's West Texas Blue diary on Campbell's DT classmates demonstrated. Most redshirted as freshmen; few of the ones who didn't had any impact. (DeQuinta Jones was instantly productive for Arkansas, of course. That's just what happened under Rodriguez.)

He's further behind the curve now but even fellow uber recruits like LSU's Chris Davenport (one tackle), and Texas's Calvin Howell (two tackles) are struggling to find the field. They're not idling behind Greg Banks, sure, but Campbell's not dead yet.

He can be okay if protected. I spent large chunks of the spring game focused on him and he was mediocre:

All eyes were on Will Campbell and Will Campbell was all right. He got single blocked the whole day, alternating his time between pushing into the backfield to force cutbacks on unsuccessful runs, getting blocked out of rushing lanes, and (on passing downs) sitting at the LOS being the guy who looks for screens and scrambles. Unsurprisingly, reports that Campbell was "unblockable" as a three-tech turned out to be fiction—Campbell didn't beat a block all day. His contributions were limited to getting a moderate amount of penetration when single blocked on running plays. It was far from dominant; it could have been worse. I'm still pretty worried about what happens on stretch plays.

A moderate amount of penetration is worlds better than that clip above. He'll feature in the goal line package and against teams that want to run.

Past Campbell the only player anyone's seen on the field is redshirt sophomore Quinton Washington, who Rodriguez flipped from guard during the bye week last year. Washington got in on a few goal line plays, proceeding to drive his guy back and fall over.

That's fine on a goal line play. Taking that limited skillset and expanding it to the point where he can play defensive tackle on the other 98 yards is going to be trickier.

With Terry Talbott's medical redshirt there are just two other options, both redshirt freshmen who have survived the harrowing that's befallen much of Rodriguez's recruiting classes. Richard Ash is a nose tackle sort from Pahokee who briefly featured offers from USC and Florida before abruptly losing those. Over the course of a year he went from 260 to 320, which scared a lot of people off. Last year his corpulence was notable even amongst the defensive tackles. He's back down to about 300 now and will have to see some time spelling Martin. The sum total of Ash knowledge other than his weight loss is still in his recruiting profile.

The other option is Kenny Wilkins, who was initially supposed to be a weakside DE but showed up at 270 and is now 280. He's now listed as a DT and presumably will back up the three-tech spot. Wilkins was memorably pwned by walkons in the spring game on Mike Cox's long touchdown and has been called out by the coaches as a guy who needs to get his act together; if he plays this year he probably won't play well.

Strongside Defensive End

Rating: 1

heiningerheininger-2

This was Van Bergen until Campbell's failure to emerge sucked him back into the interior. Now you get your choice of walk-on. First on the depth chart is senior Will Heininger, who missed last year with an ACL tear and used that opportunity to expand alarmingly fast. After adding six pounds two years ago he threw on 28 over this offseason to end up at 295.

My assumption was that kind of weight gain from an injured guy who'd been in the program for years was a Posada-like sign, but after being all but ignored during fall camp he popped up on the two-deep as a starter and Hoke said that was a real thing. He must have spent every waking hour in the weight room.

"Experience" was why he got the nod; that experience consists of backing Brandon Graham up. In is time on the field he rarely did anything wrong; he rarely did anything right, either. He was a non-factor. As a guy spotting Graham from time to time that's cool, but as a starter or a guy rotating with another equally obscure walk-on that's a recipe for zero production out of a spot that should see its fair share of plays. If this spot averages out as a zero next year that's probably good—and that's not good.

One mitigating factor here: Michigan showed a three-man line in their two-minute defense. That package removes the walk-ons in favor of a zone-blitzing 3-4. These guys aren't playing on passing downs and may not see a lot of time against spread outfits. All these guys have to do is not get pounded on the ground. Pass rush is a bonus.

Backups

Nate Brinkbolivia

Nate Brink; where Nate Brink came from

More walkons! Sexy. With Van Bergen held out, Nate Brink was the starter at SDE in the spring game. Everybody assumed that didn't mean anything and focused on Campbell, so no one can tell you word one about how he did.

He faded back into Bolivian until the Van Bergen move, whereupon press conferences started talking about him and insiders started dropping what knowledge they had. The insiders said their usual bits about Brink being a diamond in the rough—one report claimed Mattison said he'd be in the two deep of any college team he'd coached. The press conferences were similarly predictable. This bit from Mattison is the most encouraging:

He's played like a Michigan football player. I hate to talk about a young man because I think when I do that they go right down in the tubes but this guy has come out every day as tough as he can. He listens to Coach Montgomery on every word. When he tells him to step a certain way, he tries, and he's really, really physical.

I think he was probably 250 in the spring and we told him to get to 265 and when he was reporting, I yelled, 'What do you weigh?' He said, '265' and I told him to drink some water and sure enough he started drinking water. Now I think he's 267 or 268.

In the spring, his toughness showed up and he was only 250 at that time. But his want-to and toughness stuck out like crazy. And that's what we want - 11 guys that play with that kind of attitude.

He's a guy that if he keeps doing what he's doing, Michigan people are going to be very happy with him.

I know this will end in tears but that's actually coachspeak that seems meaningful.

Holding The Rope has the complete presser dossier and all of his other biographical information. It adds up to:

  • is 265 pounds, up from 220 in high school
  • is a redshirt sophomore
  • coaches have said nice things about him
  • named "Nate Brink"

Brink will play. After mentioning Heininger's experience he said Brink has "practiced very well, played well, been productive" and promised to rotate six guys on the line. Six is a weird number because it means one of Black, Campbell, or Brink is on the fringe. Given the lineups Campbell seems the most likely even though that seems unlikely.

There's obviously no depth when the first two guys are walkons. In the event injuries hit them, Michigan will grit its teeth and slide Van Bergen back outside. True freshmen Chris Rock (Not That Chris Rock) and Keith Heitzman should be headed for redshirts (Heitzman actually might be headed for TE). If they don't it's a Ray Vinopal situation.

Weakside Defensive End

Rating: a speculative 4.

craig-roh-gergcraig-roh-uconn-2

what do you mean by "I don't want to play corner" again?

The only thing Michigan fans will miss about the deathbacker position is the name, and even then the group of people who know its true nomenclature is even smaller than the already-pretty-small group who know Craig Roh was a "spinner" and vastly smaller than the masses who know Roh is "that defensive end Michigan insists on pretending is a linebacker."

Craig Roh is not a linebacker. He has never been a linebacker, and this year he cranked himself up to 270 pounds to evaporate the last vestiges of confusion. Look at my giant skull crushing muscles, he says. Just try to put this in a two point stance.

CRAIG ROH
you can't see me
avoids a cut
Chappell hurry
speed rush for sack wsg Martin
smokes Illini T for holding call
sweet spin move
crunch, fumble, TD
not a lb
no depth on drops
frustrating dink
bubble overrun
dl run game
comes through TE
slants into lane
chucks lineman
slants under TE
power right at him

And the thing is, last year Roh wasn't that exploitable as a defensive end. He was certainly no more so than the other non-Van Bergen options, and when Michigan put his hand in the dirt against Notre Dame they got dividends from it:

Hit up those videos on the side to confirm. For a guy who was supposedly a liability he made his share of plays against the run in trying circumstances. Notable is that many of those were plays on the backside where he got under his blocker in a flash and sped down the line. On the weakside in the 4-3 under this is what he's going to be doing a lot.

Roh was so badly misserved by the previous defensive staff that he had to tell them what the hell he should be doing on defense. He requested a move back to the DL and got it, whereupon he was decent despite all this 3-3-5 business not suiting him at all. Talking about what happened to Roh last year makes me stabby. I called him the "Denard of the defense" because he was a uber-touted recruit forced on the field way too early by necessity; Denard became Denard and Roh dropped into short zones. Other than everything else, that was the clearest evidence GERG was sacrificing our defense to Xenu.

This year, though… this year Craig Roh is 270 pounds and will be playing the spot literally every scouting evaluation ever issued about him has begged—demanded—plead for him. This could yield one of those breakout year things. Here's what he did in the games Michigan played him mostly as a lineman:

Opponent ++ -- TOT Notes
Notre Dame 11 - 11 By far best game of his career.
MSU 6 1.5 4.5 Wasn't a liability in the run game against a pounding team.
Iowa 5 1 4 Okay, but not making a big impact.
Illinois 10.5 8 2.5 Eventful; some minuses may be someone else's fault.
Purdue 7 2.5 4.5 Good day.
Wisconsin 3.5 2 1.5 Basically one nice play and then not much.

He was much less a part of the tire fire when he had his hand in the dirt, and that was frequently as a 245-pound DE on a three man line. He is now 270 and going one-on-one with weakside tackles. He should improve from average-ish (remember that UFR slants towards the DL) to good.

At least good. We've yet to see the much of the pass-rushing skill that made Roh a top 50 recruit. He's displayed hints of the ability to zip past tackles before they know what hits them when suffered to rush the passer—there's a chance that when he puts hand to ground and is told to let it rip that he goes bonkers. Roh is the biggest X factor on the team. He could end up with anywhere from a half-dozen to twelve sacks.

Backups

jibreel-black-msujibreel-black

There is one. Hooray. The aforementioned Jibreel Black saw time spotting Roh last year; he showed some pass rush flair. His run defense was abject. He prominently featured on a Michigan State touchdown drive where cutback lanes were always open because Black wasn't flowing down the line. He was targeted for dismantling every time he hit the field, and more often than not opponents got exactly what they wanted. Except Penn State, weirdly.

    True freshman and all that, though. Black should be significantly better this year. Like Roh he'll benefit from the extra protection afforded the WDE in the 4-3 under and the triple threat DL coaches in the Hoke era. There is a significant downer, though. Black actually lost weight over the offseason, going from 265 to 260. This is one weight gain/loss that is not always good. After the spring Black was a guy who needed to change his body:

"Jibreel is a guy that, as his body composition changes a little bit, he's gonna be a good football player. I think him and Craig at the rush have had pretty good springs."

    Though I can't find the quote I'm thinking of, the coaches seemed irritated when he came into camp five pounds lighter than he was as a freshman. Early in camp, Mattison responded to a question about Black by highlighting his inconsistency:

“Jibreel has a lot of talent, but right now, Jibreel is a little inconsistent. … That’s not a knock on him, but he’s just like a lot of talented young guys. I’m not ready to say this guy is the next Terrell Suggs (of the Baltimore Ravens)."

    They have to play him; he might need another year to get his head right and muscles all powerful and stuff. Brandon Graham, who everyone has compared him to, took a couple years to get his head and body right, too.

frank-clarkjordan-paskorz-bowl

Clark @ Glenville; the only extant photo of Paskorz on the field

But wait, there's more! On scholarship, even! True freshman Frank Clark defied his middling recruiting rankings and status as a WR/TE/LB/DE tweener to feature on the depth chart at WDE. He's supposed to be fast—very fast. An insider I've corresponded with noted that players say "he can catch Denard." He "just has a lot of athleticism" according to Van Bergen.

Clark's quick rise caught Mattison's eye when he was asked about freshman in general, not Clark specifically:

I think Frank Clark has a lot of ability. You can see a different speed at which he goes.

In his recruiting profile I said he had a long road ahead of him to productivity. Clark drove fast.

    Redshirt freshman Jordan Paskorz may as well have been in the witness protection program since he enrolled. Not a peep has been heard about him since he arrived, and I have no recollection of the guy even playing in the spring game. But he is totally a defensive player on the roster who is not a true freshman. So we've got that going for us.
    Paskorz was a generic three star coming out of high school; his recruiting profile is where the infos are. I wasn't that enthused about him a year ago but just by remaining on the roster he's ahead of a lot of his classmates. With Clark impressing and a serious need at TE he's another candidate to switch.

Monday Presser Notes 8-29-11: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser Notes 8-29-11: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on August 29th, 2011 at 4:15 PM

Brady Hoke:

Good news: I took pictures today. Bad news: I left my card reader at home.

News bullets:

  • No one is seriously injured
  • Mike Jones had pneumonia the other day, but was better today
  • Fitz still has opportunity to earn start over Shaw this week
  • Gibbons is solidly starting at placekicker, unless it's a long field goal, in which case Wile or (Kris) Pauloski might kick
  • There will be an intense practice late Friday night
  • There will be no Victors Walk
  • Kick/punt returner situation is fluid (obviously)

Press Conference (this part was filmed)

General fluff:

"Finishing fall camp on Saturday morning, I think we were very productive in what we wanted to get done. You're never going to be satisfied, it's never going to be as good as you'd like it to be, and that's just part of being competitive. I think we developed as a team, I think we became closer as a team. I think when you look at us as a team, we're excited to get going and to have that first opportunity. We're guaranteed 12 opportunities, and we've made that known to our players. We want to play obviously 14, but the 12 opporutnities we have, we start with the first test this weekend."

"We voted on captains last night as a team. I think our players understand that our seniors will always be our leaders, and the three guys, with Mike on defense, Kevin Koger and David Molk on offense, have demonstrated an ability to lead. I think they all three bring a lot to our football team, when you look at the leadership roles that they'll play, and you look also at the roles from a production standpoint."

"Western Michigan is a well-coached, disciplined, tough football team. I've had a little bit of experience with Coach Cubit and how his teams play, offensively and defensively."

Offensively, QB Alex Carder is good. He's as impressive as anybody with 30 TDs, >63% completions. WR Jordan White caught 94-96 balls a year ago, challenge for Michigan secondary. LT Anthony Parker spearheads a big, physical O-line. They have some Juco transfers. Defensively, D-line has everyone coming back. Secondary is one of the better ones in MAC, very aggressive and like to attack the football.

"We're excited. We're not near ready to play, and I'll probably say that on Friday. We're not near ready to play, but we get to play, and that's a good thing. We get to see our first test, where we're at as a team and as a program, and to get out there and not beat up on each other, but you get to play with somebody else."

Looks like there are lots of "ORs" on the depth chart. What gives? "I just think there's great competition. At the running back, Fitz has done some good things, Mike [Shaw] has done some good things. Vince Smith's a guy we talked about being a third-down back for us for multiple reasons, but I think there's some great competition there. I think with JT and Troy, when you look at Courtney Avery ... Blake Countess is a young guy who's played pretty well ... Raymon Taylor ... all those guys are competing, and Greg Brown. I would expect JT and Troy would be the guys who would start the football game, but when we get into the nickel, then we get into the other situations."

Why is Will Heininger starting? "More than anything else, it's his experience. We like what Nathan has done. He's practiced very well, played well, been productive, but Will at the same time has done a great job -- Will Heininger -- but the other guy who has come on a little bit is Will Campbell. That will be fluid anyway because we want to play six guys during the course of the game so we can keep guys fresh and keep them healthy."

Any questionable players healthwise? "Healthwise we're in great shape. As good as you can be coming out of fall camp. We had a pretty physical fall camp, so I'm pretty pleased. Mike Jones had a little bit of a fever and pneumonia the other day, but I just saw him on the way here in fact, and feels pretty good."

Does it help that you've played against Western? "I don't think it helps, because you've got to go back to the tape you had from a year ago. First games are always a little bit different as far as when you start to study. Do you take the last four games, (or) do you take the first three from a year ago to see what they taught within their offense and defense? And then the last three games as far as when you start breaking an opponent down and looking at it.

"I really am impressed when you watch them play on the tape. Being a defensive guy, I'll always look at more offensive film of an opponent than I do defensively. I'm very impressed with Carder and how he handles this offense."

I'm writing some fluff about you coming out of the tunnel. Can you give me a some fluff about coming out of the tunnel? "It's a special place, being at Michigan. I'm sure that we'll be very humbled. But at the end of the day, we're playing a football game, and our consistency as coaches is important, so we'll move pretty quickly. I'm hoping we get to the sidelines the right way, and you're always as a new staff, you're doing things different. When we go to dinner on Friday night, we'll practice at 5 o'clock on Friday night, and all those things are different than what has been done in the past, so those things we'll all be worrying about until the game's kicked off."

Roundtable (this part was not filmed)

This is what Hoke sort of looked like when I took a picture of him.

Western has no idea what you're going to do. Is that an advantage? "They're a good football staff, and I'm sure that they got a hold of all the San Diego State film they could from an offensive perspective. I think defnesively it's always a little harder getting NFL film. I'm sure they've been able to see remnants of what we're trying to do." 

RB's still have to prove themselves? "I think they all do, not just the running backs. We want to evalutate them every day, and if a guy doesn't meet the standard or expectation that we need to play with -- it could be any position -- if he doesn't meet that standard, then we gotta find someone else."

Do you evaluate players differently between practice and games? "I don't think so. I'm a big believer in that when you prepare and when you practice, you're going to play that way. So if we've got great intensity getting to the football (with the) eleven guys defensively, (or if) our wide receivers are sustaining blocks and harassing corners, we expect that to be done during practice. That's a demand that we have because I believe you have to play like you practice."

Will you give both kickers a shot in the game? "Right now, Gibbons is going to handle the field goals, and if we get into a long field goal situation, I think Wile or Pauloski would be next in line for that. Matt will kick off, and Matt's going to punt."

What's the range for Gibbons vs. Wile? "When you start getting over, I dunno, I would guess from my observation, 43-44 (yards), som'n ike that, Matt's just got a little ... I don't know if it's a bigger leg, a better leg ... he's got the opportunity to hit the ball more cleanly. Everybody attributes and compares it to golf -- and I can't tell you about golf, if you've seen me golf you would know why -- and it's kind of the sweet spot he hits it with."

How much has the offense changed from the spring re: Denard? "I think his knowledge of what we're trying to do as a whole package [has increased], and I think there's still some things Al hasn't added to the mix. I think his grasp of it is at a higher level than it was in the spring. I think when you put that together where he doesn't have to think as much, and now he can be settled in his fundamentals and techniques. I think that's where the growth has come, and then his growth being a leader, and that maturity level, is at a higher place."

Is the offense what you envisioned when you first came in? "That depends. I think the basic plays of a pro-style offense are a big part of it. The play-action game, all those things. There are some things out of the spread that we're obviously going to stay with, that kind of overlap a little bit with how you want to block at the point of attack and those things. We're still going to line up and run the power play a bunch."

Do you tell Denard the same things you tell a normal QB about getting out of bounds? "I think it's the same. You don't want him to take needless shots, and we wouldn't want Devin to either. We want to be aggressive and always know where the stakes are, but we don't want a guy to take needless shots if he can help it."

Most coaches play freshmen during a coaching transition because they recruited them. You're playing older guys. Is it because you value experience? "I think that's an important part of it, to some degree. Believe me, if we thought those younger guys were at a point where the older guys weren't better, the younger guys would be playing. I think we're growing with some youth, and probably more so on the defensive side of the ball. There are some guys who have a better chance to play than on the offensive side."

I'm going to ask a convoluted question about the guys who started last year. They worked to earn these spots collectively, maybe, you think. Hunger, winning, Michigan. ? "I hope they're hungry, first and foremost. I mean, this is a competitive game, this is the winningest program in college football, so I hope they understand those expectations that we have as a team and we have as a program. Um, you know, I think ... when you ... and I don't know if I understand the other part of your question."

Basically, I mean, the starting lineup, more or less, are guys that started last year, and yet, it wasn't handed to them, collectively, you know. "I think we had good competition, I guess that's what I would say. I think we had good competition, and it's easy to see. Our depth on both sides of the ball up front aren't exactly where you'd like it to be, and that's okay, because it's always an expectation for who's playing the position. It doesn't matter if they're a fifth year guy or a guy who's a true freshman, you've gotta play to a Michigan standard."

Were some of those decisions made during the scrimmages? "Everyday they're evaluated. And it doesn't matter if they're in the weight room ... I talk to Aaron everyday. Every night I talk to him and (ask), "How'd he do there?" Because you're looking for an attitude. You're looking for a team attitude first. And if a guy goes in there and doesn't do what he needs to do to help his teammates, then we're going to have a problem with it.

"It all starts there, and obviously when you're in those situational things that you do with the football aspect of it, you're expecting them to play at a fast level and a fast tempo with an enthusiasm for the game."

Is Van Bergen locked in at DT? "He's one of those guys who can play a lot. He can play in sub defense, he can be over the center, which [he] is at times. I'm talking about nickels and dimes and those kinds of things. He can do that, and he can swing back out to the 5 (-tech). Ryan brings a lot of intelligence to the game, and being an older guy who's been around football a lot, it really helps him out and helps our team out."

I'd like to ask another question that you will answer in a non-informative way. You haven't played a game yet, but you've been here seven months. Do you ... feel like the transition has been what you thought ... Has there been more you thought you would have to change? Or less? Or ... ? "Uh. It's about what you would think it would be. I mean, you know, it's, it really just ... trying to, you know, have a focus on what Michigan's all about, and starting there. You know, and, uh, I don't know if it's any different or not."

But History? And Tradition?? "Well, I think that's important, I mean, that's an important accountability that we have." 

Thank you. That was a productive series of words.

You have four punt returners with "Or" next to their names. You gonna make up your mind or not? "It probably will be fluid. I wouldn't be surprised that we probably had two guys back there and switch them for punts to see who we think may be the best playmaker out of it."

You got any superstitions or rituals? "I would not share them with you if I did."

You doing the Victors Walk? "No."

But you said in Chicago you would do it. "Nope."

Could Fitz Toussaint still win the job this week? "Sure. Sure. No question."

Do you get nervous close to gametime? "My nervousness only comes that we're dottin' all the i's and crossin' all the t's. We talked as a staff -- number one, (we have to) have a great plan for (our players). And that's our responsibility, that we have a plan on both sides of the ball, in the kicking game, that's going to help these guys be successful. That's what you think about constantly. Did we cover this? Have we covered this enough? Taking a safety from a punt formation with 13 seconds left on the game, you know, what's the punter do? There's a lot of different ways you can do it.

"I don't know if it's a nervousness, because once we're here on Saturday, it's fun."

Do you meet with the captains? "I meet with the seniors every Sunday and every Thursday, so they'll be part of that group obviously. Captains, I'll meet with them periodically when I feel there's a need."

Countess and Clark made the two-deep. What'd they do to impress? "Frank is a guy we think can do something in those nickel and dime packages. Blake has got an opportunity to be a very good corner here. Very good feet, and he's got some make-up speed that corners need to have. He's tough. Both of them are tough. I think they both, from a defensive mentality ... we don't want to overload them so that they go out there and have paralysis by analysis. We want them to be able to go and play the game ...

"I like them, I'll put it that way."

Will it take some time to see the whole Brady Hoke system? "I think it always does. I've done this at two other schools. Every week's a learning experience. When I say that I'm going back to every week, how we travel. We're playing at home, but it's still, we're going to the Campus Inn, and how we meet, and all that stuff, it's a learning experience every week. The sooner that we feel ... I don't want to say comfortable, but that's basically what it is ... then the faster we'll start playing and then the more physical we'll play football."

You talked about corn chowder last week, are there other traditions -- "CLAM chowder."

Are there any other traditions that you've brought back, or that you're bringing, that are important to you this week? "We practice later on Fridays. There will be a little more intensity to it than maybe other programs have had, because I'm a big believer in that mental practice that we'll have. You have to have an intensity in how you do it, because then you're going to play fast. At the end of the day, you have to play fast in this game. I don't know what else."

(David Molk, Mike Martin, and Kevin Koger notes will be up later. [Ed: probably tomorrow morning.])