Unverified Voracity Has Great Big Not Pointy Teeth

Unverified Voracity Has Great Big Not Pointy Teeth

Submitted by Brian on September 19th, 2017 at 12:12 PM

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My God, the teeth. Spencer Hall is right. Michigan cannot lose to this jaunty-ass helmet:

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There is intimidation, and then there is "you lost to a cartoon gopher":

At least Alabama gives you the courtesy of just losing to a color and a number. This? This is horror, a beating served with an adorable smile on its face. This is potentially taking a beating from a cartoon rodent that only wants to serve you hot dish, and then crack the casserole over your head. Don’t lose to Minnesota when they’re wearing these helmets, is what we’re saying. The psychological damage alone could take years of therapy to undo.

Minnesota's ground and pound offense only makes this worse. Rodney Smith bounces off tackles. A lot of tackles. If he breaks your tackle and grabs a first down on carry #30 and pops up to yell "spew" you might disassociate from your body from sheer embarrassment.

Connelly brings numbers to the offense. It's not great:

Michigan has snapped the ball 88 times on first down. The Wolverines are averaging a not-completely-awful 5.3 yards per play, but of their 464 total yards gained, 211 have come on five plays. They have gained one yard or fewer 43 times. Success rate: 33 percent — 27 percent rushing and a much healthier 46 percent passing.

It gets even worse when the Wolverines generate scoring chances. Yards per play on first downs in the red zone: 1.1. They’ve gained zero or fewer yards in eight of 12 instances.

There's a lot of pointing and going THAT about Michigan's offense, which is fine in a post like Connelly's that is a stat post drawing some high-level contours.

To date I've seen little or nothing that goes any deeper about Michigan's redzone issues, if those even exist. "Redzone efficiency" clearly does not exist separate from general efficiency at the NFL level:

We went back and looked at the past five years to compare how teams did in the red zone during the first seven weeks of the season with how they played overall. Let's call this "red zone advantage." ...

The correlation of total offensive DVOA in the first seven weeks to total offensive DVOA in the final 10 weeks is .64. That makes plenty of sense: Teams that play well on offense early in the season are likely to play well on offense late in the season. The same correlation for defense is .48, a little lower but still fairly significant.

However, the correlation for "red zone advantage" is practically nil: .01, to be exact, on both offense and defense. During the past five seasons, at least, "red zone advantage" has done nothing to project how well a team will play in the red zone during the second half of the year.

College might be different if running QBs are a real advantage, and I'd buy that.

But unless you've got a magic potion that gives Wilton Speight dreads and a 4.4 40, talking about Michigan's "redzone issues" is a waste of time. The redzone offense being bad is just the stuff that makes the offense bad in general. There's nothing about Harbaugh's approach that makes Michigan inherently bad at scoring touchdowns—Michigan was 17th in S&P+'s "finishing drives" metric a year ago if you want a number—so this is just bad QB play and bad blocking, which are problems anywhere. There's no magic bullet other than getting better at footballing.

Sharks, like would-be credit card scammers at Florida, are not smooth. Florida's many suspended players might be done for if this comes to fruition:

The nine University of Florida Football players who are facing allegations of having misused school funds, could be arrested as early as the end of this week, sources have told The Read Optional.

Antonio Callaway, Jordan Smith, and one other player are likely to be arrested on charges of felony grand theft, with the possibility of further misdemeanor charges being tagged on, according to a lawyer representing one of the players. It’s anticipated that the other six players will also be arrested, but only three players have hired legal counsel thus far.

At the very least they would be suspended until those charges are resolved, a process that might last for the duration of the season. Compounding matters:

The nine University of Florida football players who have been suspended indefinitely by the school for misuse of school funds, are also under investigation for credit card fraud, by two separate police departments in the Gainesville area, relating to an additional credit card fraud allegation.

Jordan Smith, a freshman defensive end, was suspended from all team activates after a report from The Read Optional that Smith had used stolen credit card information to pay rent at an apartment complex — around $1,000 dollars. ...

The link between the misuse of funds investigation and apartment fraud investigation is now clear: Several of the players had the same stolen credit card information; the same victim.

It appears Florida's about as good at criminal offense as regular offense. McElwain's recruiting has given off a distinct whiff of desperation at times, with Florida picking up a lot of the highly-touted guys other schools back off of because of red flags. You may remember Guy Who Got Busted For Pot On An Official Visit To OSU; James Robinson signed with Florida. He was suspended against Michigan for... I mean, you can probably guess.

Pot is the most minor of all offenses, but if you're getting busted for it on a college campus while hanging out with a crew of folks who collectively can only be football players that's something else. Twice is another level of something else. I mean... Michigan's had some guys who were super into pot. But never citation-level. I imagine that among the very very bad credit card scammers are a couple guys Florida knew they probably shouldn't take but did anyway.

Florida's collected a large number of Malik McDowells because their head coach can't really recruit and felt the pressure. This bodes unwell for Michigan's strength of schedule. Also McElwain.

How much of a problem is a football coach being a dick? A serious question. The Indianapolis Star gets the story of former IU WR Coray Keel, who left Indiana after one year mostly because Kevin Wilson was a dick:

“It became kind of like a pride thing, once I started lining up, to be key players for the opposing team every week, when I would hear coaches come up to me and tell me I’m not (crap), I’m not this and that. It was Kevin Wilson and position coaches, but mostly Kevin Wilson,” Keel said. “Every day, it was a constant reminder of how much I wasn’t doing good, and how I was doing more harm as a scout-team player, not giving the team the right looks. I was the reason we were losing, the reason why we were not doing good.”

“As my time at IU extended, it got worse,” Keel said. “To the point where it made just being there uncomfortable. It made the overall experience of it, it was to the point where I didn’t want to wake up and go to practice.”

Keel says he wasn't forced out and that Wilson tried to convince him to stay when he decided to transfer. Keel transferred to a JUCO and gave up football after one more year. The Star cites several other players with similar issues.

All football coaches are dicks. At what point does it cross the line? Mark Mangino: over the line, I think everyone can agree. Mike Rosenberg thought Rich Rodriguez was over the line, partly because of Greg Frey, and now everyone's fine with Greg Frey because Harbaugh. Wilson's hiring at Ohio State was immediately after he got fired, and nobody seems to care.

Etc.: Simone Biles was at the Michigan game, in case you saw a five-foot-tall person who looked vaguely familiar. Sure, I'll link to an NFL sucks article. Baumgardner on stuff. Toys R Us goes bankrupt, although it looks like Brandon was just the fall guy, not the cause. Improvement! Holdin' the Rope. Georgetown's basketball schedule is really something. Baseball recruiting really well.

2017 Power 5 Preview: 41-48

2017 Power 5 Preview: 41-48

Submitted by Alex Cook on August 15th, 2017 at 12:09 PM

For 2017, instead of previewing conferences division-by-division, I decided to rank the 64 Power Five teams and count down from the bottom.

I created a ranking system based heavily off of Bill Connelly’s S&P+ rankings: half of the ranking comes from the S&P rankings from the past five seasons among Power Five teams (1/3 of that number is 2016’s ranking; 1/3 is the average from 2014-2016, 1/3 is the average from 2012-2016); half comes from two component parts of his 2017 S&P+ projections, weighed evenly – recruiting impact and returning production – and ranked 1 through 64. The ranking itself skews towards emphasizing where the teams were according the 2016 S&P+. I think it serves as a decent way to sequence these previews.

(Note: I didn’t include Notre Dame.)

Previously: #64 Purdue, #63 Rutgers, #62 Kansas, #61 Illinois, #60 Boston College, #59 Virginia, #58 Vanderbilt, #57 Syracuse. #56 Maryland, #55 Arizona, #54 Wake Forest, #53 Duke, #52 Iowa State, #51 Texas Tech, #50 Missouri, #49 Oregon State.

48. ARIZONA STATEasu17

#5 Pac-12 South, #10 Pac-12

5-7 (2-7) in 2016

Maybe Todd Graham should have bailed when he had the chance. The notorious job-hopper has been in Tempe for a half-decade now, and after two straight seasons with a losing record, his job security is tenuous. Graham won ten games in 2013 and 2014; in 2013, they won the Pac-12 South and in 2014, it came down the last weekend of the season – they lost by a touchdown on the road to rivals Arizona. The trajectory for both programs (utter freefall) has been quite similar – they were both in the Top 15 for that game in 2014, and both of their coaches are now on the proverbial hot seat.

Graham’s 5-7 campaign last season was more disastrous than the record indicates: they started the season 4-0 and 5-1, though all of those wins came against bad teams, and all but one of their Pac-12 losses came by three scores or more – including a season-ending 56-35 defeat at Arizona, a team that hadn’t won a conference game all season. That loss prevented ASU from reaching a bowl game for the first time in Graham’s tenure. It’s worth mentioning that injuries, particularly to the QBs, definitely played a role in Arizona State’s slide.

QB Manny Wilkins showed some promise and he’ll be joined by blue-chip Bama transfer Blake Barnett at the position in 2017 – surely the Sun Devils will get better play from the position than they did last season, when they were forced to turn to a fourth-stringer. RB Kalen Ballage – a versatile bruiser who scored 8 touchdowns against Texas Tech last season – but ASU ran for just 3.3 yards per carry as a team last season. Sophomore WR N’Keal Harry showed off his blue-chip potential in 2016 and could be a star.

Arizona State’s had a very aggressive, blitz-heavy scheme since Graham arrived, and that led to a ton of big plays against the Sun Devils last season. Only one starter returns in the secondary – box safety Marcus Ball, who was second on the team in tackles – and dealt with some unexpected attrition as well. Graham brought in former Baylor DC Phil Bennett to fix the defense, but the Sun Devils would have to improve a lot to approach respectability.

Like Rodriguez, Graham will have to show some results this season: there’s talent on offense and if the line improves, ASU will probably put up big numbers on the scoreboard. Still, the defense was terrible a year ago and they’ll have a tough time with the many explosive offenses on the schedule this season. A lot rides on if Bennett is able to turn things around quickly.

47. CALcal17

#5 Pac-12 North, #9 Pac-12

5-7 (3-6) in 2016

When Cal replaced longtime head coach Jeff Tedford with Sonny Dykes, they committed to overhauling the program’s identity and embracing the “Bear Raid” aerial offense that Dykes had at Louisiana Tech. Long story short: it didn’t work. Cal went 1-11 in Dykes’s first season as the roster turnover basically ensured a lost season; his combined 18-19 mark over the next three seasons (despite the presence of future #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, QB Jared Goff, for two of them) led to his firing following 2016. It was never a great fit – Dykes reportedly was looking around for a different job following the 8-5 campaign in 2015, Goff’s last season, and now the program will be searching for a new identity after hiring away DC Justin Wilcox away from Wisconsin to be its head coach.

Wilcox made a great offensive coordinator hire by luring former Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin away from one of the best programs at the FCS level. Baldwin will be looking for a new QB after one-year grad transfer rental Davis Webb’s departure; Webb was a very solid Goff replacement and it stands to reason that Cal will take a step back at the position with an unsettled situation there. The Bears’ top RB and WR also are gone, though Dykes left the cupboard full at the receiver position. The offensive line also needs to be overhauled.

The defense was an utter disaster a season ago: the Bears gave up 42.6 points per game and were involved in plenty of shootouts – somehow, they lost three games (against San Diego State, Arizona State, and Oregon State) in which Cal scored at least forty points. They had a six-game stretch in the middle of the season in which they gave up at least 45 points per game, and somehow won one of those games (against Oregon, who had a similarly awful defense). Eight starters return, but Wilcox has a massive rebuilding job after last year’s implosion.

The schedule is difficult: of Cal’s three non-conference games, two are against power conference programs (at North Carolina and home vs. Ole Miss, a program in an incredible amount of disarray) and even though there are some winnable conference games at home – Arizona and Oregon State – them getting to a bowl game would be surprising.

[46-41 after the JUMP]

Unverified Voracity Dorfs It A Bit

Unverified Voracity Dorfs It A Bit

Submitted by Brian on February 22nd, 2017 at 12:47 PM

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photo does not fit with theme of bullet [Patrick Barron]

Pretty grim. Mark Titus on the state of Big Ten basketball:

We’re only four years removed from the Big Ten’s incredible 2012–13 campaign, when six different teams cracked the top 10 of the AP poll and the regular-season title came down to the final shot on the final day of conference play. A Big Ten national title seemed imminent then, if not in the 2013 tournament then certainly in the immediate years to come. Now, coming off a tourney in which the league’s champion got blasted in the Sweet 16 and its best team lost to a no. 15 seed, the Big Ten could fare even worse in 2016–17; its only hope of remaining in title contention by the end of the tournament’s opening weekend could hinge on Purdue, a team that blew a 14-point lead with five minutes to play against Arkansas–Little Rock in the first round of the 2016 tournament.

It's not great, Bob. Simultaneous collapses by OSU, MSU, Indiana, and (to a slightly lesser extent) Michigan have sapped the top of the conference. A few years ago there were 6 or 7 teams as good as any of the top end contenders this year and one to three teams who were legitimately elite.

Injuries play a role, but Matta seems to have hit a wall; Izzo and Beilein are 62 and 64, respectively, and may be slowing down as they near the end of their careers. Crean may be gone after this year.

Donnal departure is already agreed to, apparently. It's not like it's a huge surprise but Mark Donnal taking a grad transfer next year has migrated past "open secret" and reached "fait accompli":

Donnal is not being offered a fifth year at Michigan.

"There have been a lot of ups and downs," he said. "I really think my career here shaped me as a better person. Now I'm moving on."

Michigan has three recruits coming in and Donnal is the third senior. Without attrition they'd be full next year, but attrition is always a possibility. [CORRECTION: Michigan still has an open slot.]

Today in Big Ten refs. How did Iowa-Indiana go last night?

God, shucks, there were a lot of those, huh? 57 (!!) total in this game, with four Indiana players fouling out — something that likely cost a thin Indiana team this contest, ultimately.

Both sides of this game have reps on my twitter feed and both sides were incredulous at what they were watching. An explanation is not forthcoming.

Seriously, MLive asked after the Minnesota debacle and got this response from the league:

MLive requested a comment or clarification regarding the technical. Via a Minnesota spokesman, the Big Ten stated that the technical was a judgment call and, thus, the night's head official, Rob Riley, would not be made available for comment.

"We question the judgment of your officials."
"The judgment of our officials is not in question, the end."

This is gaslighting, right? Did I do that correctly? I'm not good with words and stuff.

The last unicorn. Indiana RB coach Deland McCullough is off to USC. With that move, Indiana has now lost the entirety of Kevin Wilson's braintrust. Almost everybody moved up. Greg Frey ended up at Michigan, McCullough at USC, Wilson himself ended up as OSU's OC, etc., etc.

Indiana responded by bringing in Mike Debord. While that's going to be bad for anyone who liked #chaosteam—and as a fan of a Big Ten team that managed not to lose to them—it's going to be great for anyone who wants to see what happens when you put a sloth in a NASCAR race. Let's gooooooo (not very fast). 

The nation's foremost water-carrier. Tony Barnhart has always been a reliable mouthpiece for any rich guy involved in college athletics but this takes the cake. He writes an article about the spate of post-Signing Day coaching moves, which are cynically delayed until players are locked in to a LOI. He lists several examples, and then:

I did some calling around and the feedback I got essentially was this: “If this bothers you, then you’re being pretty naïve. Coaches leaving, or being asked to leave, right after signing day is just a fact of life in college football.”

Who did he talk to? Mack Brown and Rick Neuheisel. Both those guys—shock—think it's no big deal. This is like asking the head of Big Ten officials whether he sucks at his job. It's the full Greenstein right here.

Annual targeting revamp. Via Get the Picture, the NCAA is going to tweak targeting again:

As targeting ejections have doubled over three years, the NCAA Football Rules Committee is looking at changing the replay standards so a targeting ejection only occurs if the penalty is confirmed. Currently, if replay doesn’t have enough evidence to confirm targeting but can’t rule it’s not targeting, the call on the field stands and the player gets ejected.

There could be three different outcomes to targeting reviews:

  1. Confirmed: ejection, 15 yards.
  2. Stands: no ejection, 15 yards.
  3. Overturned: no penalty.

I'm not sure how many targeting penalties fall into that gray area in the middle, but we're about to find out. I guess a way to get calls like that Penn State targeting ejection less wrong is good?

Good ol' boys. It's still 1975 in Louisiana:

After FSU and Baylor and Tennessee you'd think these kinds of wink-wink nudge-nudge events would be frowned upon. There are clear costs that have resulted in far worse things than the occasional drunken escapade on a stolen moped.

Indiana parallels. In depth piece on Indiana basketball finding its footing in a world where it's no longer the 1970s at the Crimson Quarry:

The factors that made Indiana a great job 30 years ago simply don’t hold as much water today. We live in a world that is now smaller due to cheaper travel, social media, national AAU programs and circuits, prep schools. Indiana is far less cordoned off than it once was, and college basketball in the state and nationally is far deeper than it was in the peak of the Bob Knight era. Bloomington isn’t an NBA market like Los Angeles. Indianapolis is known for quality, not necessarily quantity, in producing top-level recruits that power programs to titles.

The comparisons between Indiana basketball and Michigan football over the past 40 or so years aren't dead on but there are some parallel tracks:

  • Bo and Bob Knight are both cantankerous program legends who cast a long shadow for anyone who follows.
  • Immediate successors are assistants promoted to the head job. Gary Moeller is the hand-picked successor; Mike Davis is an interim after Knight goes off the rails late who eventually gets the head job. Both have decent teams that aren't good enough to keep people from yelling for their heads and don't last.
  • Controversial outsiders Rich Rodriguez and Kelvin Sampson are brought in, have short, tumultuous reigns featuring NCAA trouble. (Sampson's are much worse, resulting in a five-year show cause penalty.) Both last just three years.
  • Dorfy-looking head coaches with somewhat questionable credentials are next. Major difference here is that Crean inherited a disaster zone and Hoke inherited Denard Robinson, so Hoke's tenure looks like a man careening downhill on moguls he doesn't know how to ski and Crean had an upward trajectory until recently. Still: dorfy.

It's rough when you've done things one way for a million years and then have to adapt.

Etc.: More croot profiles: J'Marick Woods, Kwity Paye, Luiji Vilain, Deron Irving-Bey, Ambry Thomas. Nevermind on Michael Johnson, who took a WR job at Oregon because he is terribly unqualified. What if Michigan never returned to the Big Ten?

Unverified Voracity Has An Anniversary

Unverified Voracity Has An Anniversary

Submitted by Brian on December 30th, 2015 at 1:07 PM

Happy anniversary. Today is one year out from Harbaugh.

Hooray.

Max Harbaugh. To commemorate the event, Harbaugh had a radio appearance on Stoney and Bill. He completed that radio appearance and then CALLED BACK IN to advocate having Wrestlemania at Michigan Stadium, where he could referee a match between Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan:

“Why not the Big House?” he said. “Why not? 140,000 – I bet we could get in there for Wrestlemania. They’re trying to break the attendance record at Jerry Jones’ stadium in Dallas. (There’s) a great Canadian presence in wrestling. Why not Michigan and the Big House?”

When a producer on the show suggested that Harbaugh participate as a referee in a Flair vs Hulk Hogan matchup, Harbaugh didn’t hesitate.

“I’m in,” he said.

The chances of that match are not great since Flair and Hogan are a combined billion years old and Hogan was dropped by WWE after tapes of him being racist-uncle-level racist were released as part of a lawsuit he's embroiled in. With Gawker, because of course.

But other than that, yeah, sure. Unfortunately it's too late for Michigan Stadium to get it this year, since last year it was in the 49ers' stadium and that symmetry would have been perfect. Screw you, Jed York! (Actually, thank you, Jed York. Thank you so much for all that you have done for Michigan athletics.)

Either way, AJ Williams is in.

And now let us reflect on the previous gentleman. The Washington Post has an article on ballooning costs for athletic department administrators. If that sounds like an article in which Dave Brandon features, you would be correct:

Last December, at a conference on the business of college sports, a panel discussion involving Michigan athletics executive Hunter Lochmann turned to the topic of paying players. Lochmann, according to media reports, expressed skepticism about whether players deserved any of the millions sponsors paid to have their logos seen during Michigan games.

“Those are fleeting, four-year relationships,” he said of the careers of Michigan athletes. “At Michigan, it’s the block ‘M’ that has the affinity and power globally, not [former Michigan quarterback] Denard Robinson.”

The response was interesting coming from Lochmann, a former longtime National Basketball Association marketing executive who himself had just a four-year relationship with college sports at that point. In 2014, Lochmann made $225,000 performing a job — chief marketing officer at Michigan athletics — that didn’t exist before 2010, when then-Michigan athletic director Brandon created the position, luring Lochmann from the New York Knicks.

Lochmann was not the only new face in Michigan athletics. Between 2004 and 2014, records show, the department added 77 new full-time positions, contributing to an administrative payroll surge from $14.7 million to $27.7 million.

That 89% increase considerably outpaces the national average of 69%—this is national trend that Brandon managed to beat out. The returns on those additional staff were nil, as by the end of Brandon's tenure the Big House was three-quarters full and the athletic department had suffered a never-ending series of PR gaffes culminating in the concussion fiasco. The article revisits Lochdogg a bit later:

Michigan’s front office has gotten a bit smaller since last year, however. A few weeks after Lochmann’s controversial comments about Michigan athletes — which sparked backlash from university alums, including some NFL players — the university announced that Lochmann had resigned to “pursue other opportunities.”

In the year since, Michigan athletics has not needed to fill the vacant chief marketing officer job.

Except insofar as Harbaugh fills that role.

Anyway. The article ably details the flood of money going somewhere. That is an increasing army of administrators and higher salaries for extant ones, because, and I quote this quote "We’re no different than any other corporation that wants its business to be successful.”

I can think of one way it is different.

Bobby Bowden and IU athletic director Fred Glass come off well, FWIW.

Florida things. Suspensions and early NFL draft announcements may indicate a Gators program that is not fully checked in at the moment. Four players have already announced they're out the door for the draft after the game. DE Alex McCalister was dismissed from the team a couple weeks ago. Three players, including a starting OT, have been suspended. That starting OT projects to be replaced by a true freshman, which would bring the number of first-year players starting along Florida's lines to four.

That's all good news for a Michigan team that ended the year with a bit of a thud.

Brian Cole mystery, resolved. If you follow the premium sites you've noticed a hard split on the first year of Brian Cole at Michigan. Cole disappeared from the field after a few games thanks to an injury and never returned. Rivals repeatedly asserted that he was deep in the doghouse and unlikely to ever emerge; Scout said he'd moved to safety and was doing well after an early Internal Matter. RJS helps clarify:

"B-Cole's at safety, he's been coming down and bringing a lot of havoc," senior linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone said Monday. "He's been good." …

"Everybody's getting some time to play, we've been doing a lot of scrimmaging with younger guys," Jenkins-Stone said. "Coach Harbaugh's putting people where he feels like they'll be best for the team.

"Coach Harbaugh feels like (Cole) can make that happen, and I'm pretty sure he'll be able to fill a void next year at safety."

0% chance Cole plays in the bowl game since he's got a medical redshirt coming, but good to hear that Michigan's top athlete from the 2015 class is not in the same boat Derrick Green is.

The boat Derrick Green is in. A fast one, going anywhere but Ann Arbor. Ty Isaac will stick around; multiple reports had him taking most of the first team reps before the OSU game.

A less dangerous Indiana. #CHAOSTEAM may be a bit less chaos-y next year thanks to departures. RB Jordan Howard and DT Darius Latham have declared for the draft. IU loses most of their OL and Nate Sudfeld. I find it hard to believe that Zander Diamont is going to replace Sudfeld's production. Kevin Wilson is pretty great at offense but all they have to do is take a half-step back and the chaos turns into something like the LSU-Texas Tech bowl game where it's close for a while and then whoops it's 42-20.

Etc.: Chris Wormley reiterates that he will return next year. At this point I think the only person we're waiting on is Willie Henry. IU guard James Blackmon has a knee injury of undisclosed severity. This is a good vine. Holy crap, Baylor. Three pointers are suddenly easy. Harbaugh Christmas.

Draftageddon 2015: Still Huddled, Muttering 24-12

Draftageddon 2015: Still Huddled, Muttering 24-12

Submitted by Brian on July 23rd, 2015 at 12:07 PM

Four_Horsemen_by_MarkWilkinson1

The first rule of Draftageddon is "you must complain about Draftageddon." The second is "the four people drafting assemble teams of Big Ten players in an effort to seem the best at drafting."

Previously on Draftageddon:

CURRENT STATUS

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ACE: Round 4, Pick 2: Jack Conklin, OT, MSU

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OFFENSE: WR Michael Thomas (OSU), OT Jack Conklin (MSU)
DEFENSE: DE Joey Bosa (OSU), OLB Darron Lee (OSU)

Michigan State has assembled a strong offensive line, finishing 7th in adjusted sack rate and 28th in adjusted line yards last year, and the strongest piece of that line is left tackle Jack Conklin, who went from recruiting unknown to a possible franchise tackle:

It has been well-documented that Cook and Calhoun might have been first-round picks had they declared for the upcoming draft, but according to Kiper, the same might have been true about the less-heralded Conklin.

"I think he's a first-round caliber, yes I do,'' Kiper said on his Wednesday conference call, asked about Conklin's upside. "I think Brandon Scherff from Iowa, not much separating Scherff from Conklin, and some may even think that Conklin is a more highly rated player.

"(Conklin) was on my radar because I thought maybe he'll come out, because he has such a high grade, but by going back, you're looking at an elite of the elite. Jack Conklin has a chance to be a very very high first round pick, certainly the first offensive tackle off the board.''

The former walk-on has allowed only 2.5 sacks in his 27 career games, which include 23 consecutive starts at LT. Ohio State's fearsome pass rush produced just one sack against MSU last year; that came from DT Michael Bennett. Only Baylor DE/Terminator Shawn Oakman gave Conklin much in the way of trouble last season, and nobody else's team in this exercise has a Shawn Oakman, let alone a Joey Bosa.

SETH: Round 4, Pick 3:  Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers

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OFFENSE: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Corey Clement (WIS), WR Leonte Carroo (Rut)
DEFENSE: HSP Jabrill Peppers (Mich)

I'm going off the premise that I'm being judged on what Carroo accomplishes with Connor Cook throwing to him. But it's not like any of the 94 targets he turned into 1,086 yards and 10 touchdowns were made easy by Gary Nova.

There are two schools of thought on the "Carroo did a lot of that on broken plays" theory. Ace gave you one. Here's another: behind a turnstile offensive line, Gary FRIGGIN NOVA was the third most efficient passer in the Big Ten last year, in large part because running around like Miley Cyrus then chucking it at Carroo and three defenders was a totally efficient thing to do.

I scouted this guy for last year's draft because Bill Connelly's targeting (YPT, NEY, RYPR) stats made Carroo pop out among the conference's best. I didn't end up taking Leonte then because the majority of his yards were against lightweights. Carroo still torched bad defenses (151 yards vs. WSU, 140 on Tulane, 125 on Indiana) in 2014, but also had 84 yards on 6 catches while matched against Jordan Lucas, 5 for 100 against Doran Grant, and 6 for 104 on Will Likely. Trae Waynes got the better of him (1 catch for 6 yards on 5 targets); Michigan stuck a safety over him and got bombed everywhere else. He finished top 10 in the country in all three of Connelly's imperfect metrics, indistinguishable from Lippett.

Michael Thomas is an excellent Avant; Carroo as a junior was more comparable to Braylon at his age (67 catches, 1035 yards 10 TDs). Yes, with the occasional drops. Still a highly dangerous weapon I didn't think would slip to me.

ADAM: Round 4, Pick 4: Jordan Westerkamp, WR, Nebraska
Round 5, Pick 1: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana

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Westerkamp is suspended for the first game for tying a damsel to some train tracks

OFFENSE: QB J.T. Barrett (OSU), WR Jordan Westerkamp (Neb), OT Jason Spriggs, (IU)
DEFENSE: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), DT Adolphus Washington (OSU)

Westerkamp is best known for the time he hauled in a catch that looked like a Madden glitch, but there's more substance to him. His 65.7% catch rate and 11.1 yards per target are both better than oft-targeted (25.6% of passes) former teammate Kenny Bell's 54.0% catch rate and 9.1 YPT. Westerkamp was targeted on just 19.7% of Nebraska's passes, but that will rise due to the departure of the poofily coiffed hair and production of Bell. (I realize his hair had nothing to do with how often Westerkamp got the ball, but it's impossible to write about Kenny Bell and not mention the hair.) While Bell was more frequently targeted than Westerkamp on passing downs (25.6% to 17.1%, respecitvely), Westerkamp again had the better catch rate (60.7%) and YPT (14.0); even when defenses had an idea where the ball was going Westerkamp was able to put up good numbers. I'll happily take a guy who has a better catch rate and YPT than a fifth-round draft pick who was first-team All-Big Ten last season.

If the ball is ever going to get to Westerkamp there should probably be an offensive line, and Spriggs is arguably the best available with Decker and Conklin off the board. Spriggs has started at left tackle since he was a true freshman, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten status every season. He's 6-7, 305 and has anchored a line that has averaged more than five yards per carry the last two seasons. While that number was certainly aided by Tevin Coleman, Spriggs' pass protection is an asset. He'll give up two sacks as he does every year and I'll be happy to have one of the top-10 tackles in the 2016 draft. Also:

Lewan-like numbers.

[After THE JUMP: No more Ohio State players! That's right, not even one!]

Unverified Voracity Hears The Lamentation Of Their Softballists

Unverified Voracity Hears The Lamentation Of Their Softballists

Submitted by Brian on May 18th, 2015 at 1:45 PM

Kickstarter expiration imminent. Our Hail To The Victors kickstarter ends at 5 PM. If you have been procrastinating, you have run out of time. We'll have copies in the MGoStore for those who haven't been able to participate. Signed copies, Kickstarter-exclusive shirts, and the ability to get your name in the thing are only available until 5. Consume!

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there was a lot of this last weekend [Bryan Fuller]

CROOOSH. Softball annihilated its regional over the weekend, coming up a single run short of mercy-ruling all three of its opponents. They draw #14 Georgia in the super regionals at Alumni Field in a Thursday/Friday series. Thursday's game is 9PM on ESPN2; Friday's is at 6 on ESPNU. South Bend Wolverine, who graciously previewed the regional for us, is planning on profiling Georgia on Wednesday.

Hiring the team mom. Andy Staples interviews Harbaugh about the Gwendolyn Bush hire:

Bush peppered the coach with the same kinds of questions she did when Harbaugh was recruiting Lyons to Stanford out of Fort Lauderdale’s Dillard High. The banter gave Harbaugh flashbacks to the lengthy questionnaire Bush asked all the coaches recruiting her son to complete in 2010. It also gave him an idea. No parent he’d dealt with had studied the recruiting process as thoroughly as Bush. “Some people don’t take the time to really learn the process,” Bush said. “They just let it happen.” Bush wouldn’t allow that for her son. Inspired by St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) High tailback James White, who sent coaches brief surveys before committing to Wisconsin, Bush and Lyons designed a 50-question exam for coaches to complete before they could recruit Lyons. 

Plus, Bush now also had the experience of a parent whose child had played high-level college football while completing a demanding degree program. As a bonus, she had worked in the Broward County school system in a variety of positions for 27 years. She had administrative experience. She would be perfect for Harbaugh’s version of the director of player development position. “With her credentials in the educational system, I thought she’d be a tremendous liaison to academics and also a voice for the moms,” Harbaugh said. “In the recruiting process, the mothers get very little airtime—even throughout the entire college experience.”

Wayne Lyons was headed to Michigan either way, and Harbaugh just took the opportunity provided by Bush getting back in touch to hire a person with that level of detail.

Seeya. The number of Indiana basketball players hitting the highways and byways of America, bindle over shoulder, swelled to five over the weekend with the dismissals of Devin Davis and Hanner Mosquera-Perea. The reason for their departure: Davis was cited for pot possession. Perea's offense was being in the room.

Kevin Trahan notes that the departure of these gentlemen on such a flimsy pretext likely means they were out the door no matter what:

…two Indiana players—Troy Williams and Stanford Robinson—failed multiple drug tests last fall, yet only received four-game suspensions that were more like two-game suspensions, given that two of the games were exhibition contests.

Why the Roger Goodell-like disciplinary inconsistency? It's hard not to wonder if Mosquera-Perea and Davis are less incorrigible embarrassments to Crean's team than a pair of inconvenient bench bodies, victims of scholarship oversigning. After all, Williams was a star for the Hoosiers and integral to their future success. Mosquera-Perea and Davis are not. Meanwhile, Crean needs an open scholarship as he looks to sign star high school big man Thon Maker—and surprise, two spots just become available.

Robinson got the ziggy earlier this offseason after demonstrating he can't shoot at all; Williams is still around, mean-mugging after he successfully makes tea.

Here's some perspective on this offseason's vigorous Creaning: for a football team to go through this much premature attrition they would have to lose 33 players. Tom Crean is the Houston Nutt of basketball. Giggity.

What about the other slot? A familiar name might fill it:

Michigan graduate transfer Max Bielfeldt, who won an appeal that will allow him to transfer within the Big Ten, will visit Indiana on Sunday according to a report from Jon Rothstein.

Bielfeldt confirmed his plans to visit in a text message to Inside the Hall on Saturday afternoon.

Inside the Hall optimistically lists Bielfeldt at 6'8" and most of the comments are along the lines of "he can't be worse than Perea." Which… okay, maybe.

Dave Brandon 2.0 has not been stopped yet. I feel for Texas fans with no light at the end of their terrible AD tunnel yet. Steve Patterson, the new Worst Athletic Director In America, on playing Texas A&M:

On playing in Mexico City:

Patterson is obsessed with the possibility people in Dubai or Mexico might buy a UT t-shirt because he is the kind of executive sociopath that is more concerned with putting a bullet point on a resume than actually figuring out what is a good idea.

Jerry Hinnen points out that playing at Azteca has historically been a nightmare for the USMNT due to the altitude, smog, and heat. Mexico plays all their games there specifically to discomfit visitors; Patterson wants to play a football game there in the vague hope it gives Texas recognition in a country that doesn't care even a little tiny bit about American football.

Etc.: Doug Skene and Mike Spath break down Rudock's game against Wisconsin. That is the next passing UFR on my list, and it projects to be an encouraging one. Get The Picture on the coming attendance dip. Angelique talks to Adidas. NoDak hockey coach Dave Hakstol hired by the Flyers in the same position.

AFC Ann Arbor beat Oakland United Sporting Real Dinamo Forest FC SC 4-0 to win their first-ever league game. Points to the rowdies for chanting "dos a cero" for the period of time that was a thing.