Unverified Voracity Gets Doinked

Unverified Voracity Gets Doinked Comment Count

Brian June 16th, 2016 at 12:34 PM


We're in this thing. Proudbox is carrying HTTV in its initial… uh… box, if you haven't already ordered a copy. In addition to HTTV the thing comes with a pile of other unique Michigan items, including a Harbaugh bobblehead that tweets trash talk at SEC coaches*. They're working with the university itself so each box comes with one piece of officially licensed merch and various other goodies like stuff from Shinola, Zingermans baked goods, special publications from The Michigan Daily, Michigan Marching Band music or "something really amazing," like a Jim Harbaugh bobblehead that tweets trash talk at SEC coaches***.

They've got an introductory deal for MGoBlog persons, and five percent of the proceeds go to the U or various charities like Mott. Check them out.

*[it does not do this**]

**[but maybe it does!]

***[again, it does not do this****]

****[unless it does!]

Jarrod Wilson doing well. He was an undrafted free agent since he was so boring at Michigan, but it seems like he might make the Jaguars:

In just two minicamp practices, Wilson has collected two interceptions. While he is playing against third-string talent, it is hard to ignore his clear playmaking ability.

“It’s amazing, he’s very sharp," defensive coordinator Todd Wash said on Wednesday. "He comes in, he learns the package really well, and he puts himself in position to make a lot of plays out of the middle field. It’s good to see. Up until today he was what we called our 'ball aware player' who was leading the team so far here. We’re excited about his progress so far.”

…veteran free safety and high-profile free agent addition, Tashaun Gipson, sees a little bit of himself in the rookie.

"I've been truly impressed with Jarrod," Gipson said. "He's truly one of those guys, he reminds me of myself, I made most of my noise around this time [as a rookie] heading into training camp. Like him I was undrafted."

Those two interceptions are half of his career total at Michigan, where he would not have been described as a "playmaker"; he was more an underappreciated security blanket. Maybe that was more an artifact of his deployment than his skills.

Harbaugh in Tennessee. His camp stop in Murfreesboro draws a long, good article from SEC Country because it's more interesting than looking at an empty field. I like Harbaugh talking like he's in Fargo:

Harbaugh then asks, “Is there anywhere else you’d rather be?”

Players (halfheartedly): “No.”

Harbaugh: “Anywhere at all?”

The players grunt.

Harbaugh: “Heck no! Ya like football!”

At some point a little kid watching from the sidelines gets bonked:

A tiny grade schooler on the other side of the fence is struck in the mouth with a wayward pigskin. “Oooooh,” say the people nearby.

The child, outfitted in a No. 4 Michigan jersey, is crumpled on the ground as his parents tend to him. No crying. Just shock.

Harbaugh notices the commotion.

“Everything OK?” He yells from the practice field.

The child is still lying face down on the ground. Several adults give thumbs up.

Good start for that kid. Demonstrating toughness. Later, Harbaugh catches up with him:

Before Harbaugh can escape (he’s not trying too hard), the parents of a little boy approach him. Their kid is the one who got clocked by an errant football earlier in the night.

“That was you?” Harbaugh asks, bending down to get on the kid’s level.

The kid nods. The coach imparts his wisdom.

“That would’ve killed a lesser man,” Harbaugh said. “A lesser man would’ve been dead.”

Whole thing is recommended.

Say what? Athlon's All Big Ten team goes four deep and looks pretty reasonable to me with a couple exceptions. One is the inclusion of Bryan Mone, who probably isn't even going to start over Ryan Glasgow. Glasgow isn't included despite the fact that he should be second-team at worst. Ryan Glasgow is good, and nobody seems to want to acknowledge this.

I went in to WTKA today to talk about the USA soccer match to night and along the way we got to talking about Glasgow because Sam posted what he's hearing about the configuration of the defensive line*; he had the temerity to list Glasgow as a starter. This caused a lot of people to groan about how that must mean Mone isn't going to live up to the hype. I read this thread. It was boggling. Nobody appreciates Ryan Glasgow. Read the dang UFRs!

*[Which is that the starters will be read Gary/Glasgow/Wormley/Charlton and backed up by Marshall/Mone/Hurst/Winovich.]

The second thing:


I literally went "bwa hwa wha?!" when I saw Nicholson, who couldn't stay in the starting lineup of an abject MSU secondary last year.  People improve, etc.; having Nicholson that high on your list is asking for a truly spectacular one-year turnaround.

BTW, Michigan guys on the list:

  • First team: Jehu Chesson, Jake Butt, Mason Cole, Jabrill Peppers, Jourdan Lewis, Chris Wormley.
  • Second team: Taco Charlton, Erik Magnuson, Amara Darboh
  • Fourth team: Kyle Kalis, Bryan Mone, Peppers(PR), Lewis(KR).

Magnuson and Kalis are a bit high and leaving off Glasgow is goofy, but it's reasonable. I'd bet that Michigan's QB is better than Tommy Armstrong and Wes Lunt but since you don't have any idea who that's going to be it's hard to put them on a list. I applaud their bravery in leaving De'Veon Smith entirely off a list of Big Ten RBs that goes eight deep.

This guy again. OSU WR coach Zach Smith is really mad at Nebraska for some reason. It's a thing. This manifests publicly on Smith's twitter account, which is kind of like Harbaugh's if Harbaugh had the intellect of a cabbage:


The scare quotes around "claim" really make this one. Quotes in previous sentence not scare quotes but actual quotes since they were used to quote the tweet. Anyway.

This at least the third time Smith has taken to twitter to yell at people and drop emojis like he's 14.

Lotta starts coming back. Michigan has one of the most experienced OLs in the country:


That and a cup of acid thrown at a district attorney's face gets you legendary Batman villain Two-Face, but it's better than the alternative.

Etc.: Kenny Johnson profiled. Sounds like his brother minus the offensive side of his game. Nik Stauskas waiting for a breakout.


Upon Further Review 2015: Defense vs Rutgers

Upon Further Review 2015: Defense vs Rutgers Comment Count

Brian November 11th, 2015 at 2:55 PM

HomeSure-Logo-NMLS-14_thumb_thumb_thUpon Further Review has a sponsor.

Matt says the Fed may raise rates pretty soon here, and a cursory googling confirms that some dude says there is a "very strong case" to do so. Lifehacker says this will make the "notoriously low rates" of recent years less notoriously low. If you're on the fence and hate pants, Matt can help. I need one more sentence to get past the logo.

He's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.

FORMATION NOTES: A few new things. I'm using "heavy" to denote lineups on which Michigan plays four true DL. Without Godin those are almost always both NTs with Henry and Wormley. This was 6-2 heavy:

6-2 heavy

For a period late in the first half Michigan ran a dime package on which the NT split out. This was a pass rush package without much pass rush and didn't return; I called it "3-2-6 dime split":

dime split

And Michigan has been running this one-high nickel package with eight guys in the box enough that I thought I should note it. This is "nickel even 8":

nickel even one high

It is frequent on passing downs that feature some run threat.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Injuries biting into the DL a bit now. Michigan was rotating Hurst and Glasgow until Glasgow went out, at which point Hurst had to go the rest of the way himself. I do think they bought him a little rest by inserting Henry at the nose. Wormley and Henry played most of the game as well; Godin got one snap shortly after Glasgow exited. He must be close, but not close enough.

RJS returned to buck. Ross spotted him in passing downs. I called those dime packages; YMMV. With Gedeon out Morgan and Bolden got all the ILB snaps.

Secondary saw a shift as Dymonte Thomas got significantly more time than he has before; I would say he displaced Delano Hill as the starter. Hill played a fair share as well, both in nickel and dime. Second corner rotation was as per usual with an edge to Clark in snaps. Brandon Watson saw maybe a half dozen snaps at nickelback as Michigan tried to save Peppers a bit.

[After THE JUMP: are you disappointed yeah kinda is that rational nah]


Upon Further Review 2015: Defense vs Minnesota

Upon Further Review 2015: Defense vs Minnesota Comment Count

Brian November 5th, 2015 at 4:50 PM

Sorry about the lateness of the UFRs this week. Finding all the video took forever.

HomeSure-Logo-NMLS-14_thumb_thumbUpon Further Review has a sponsor. We got a couple nice comments on the previous UFR in re: Matt.

I worked with Matt (aka HomeSure lending) and closed my refi last week. Everything went as planned and on schedule. He was easy to work with and there was good communication throughout. I've had other refi's that did not go as planned and caused wasted time for me or were chaotic. With Matt it went really well and I got a lower rate and now my monthly payment dropped and I'll pay it off in the same amount of years. …

Oh and one more thing. When I first called him, he talked me out of refinancing because he was honest and told me my current loan was better than what I was trying to do with him. Once the rates dropped he reconnected with me and that lead to the refi. He seemed really honest and truly trying to do what's right.

That guy has had an account since 2009 in case you're worried about astroturfing. He's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan spent a lot of the game like this, with Ross at the buck (standing to the bottom of the DL) and Peppers and Hill flanked outside of the two ILBs.

nickel even 4-4

This was an especially weird game to play Ross as the buck since otherwise you would have expected him to play a lot as a third linebacker. I just called this "nickel even" since Ross was functioning as a DL.

This was "quads inner bunch"; Peppers is about to do something almost awesome.

quads inner bunch

All else per usual.

PERSONNEL NOTES: No Godin, who was injured, so the rotation on the DL was circumscribed. Hurst and Glasgow rotated at the nose with scattered snaps on which both played; Charlton got snaps here and there, but Wormley and Henry had a heavy workload.

Ross bizarrely got most of the snaps at buck instead of Jenkins-Stone; he did not do well. Morgan didn't come off the field; it was mostly Bolden at the other LB spot but Gedeon got a little time; there were a few 4 LB sets.

Secondary was mostly the usual, with Thomas the primary dime back this week. Clark got most of the second CB playing time.

[After THE JUMP: flukes and… not flukes]


Wednesday Presser 10-28-15: Greg Jackson

Wednesday Presser 10-28-15: Greg Jackson Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 28th, 2015 at 2:00 PM



What have you seen from Minnesota on film?

“Real strong, powerful running backs. A good running game. I think we’re going to have our hands cut out for us when we get prepared for Minnesota as far as the running game is concerned.

“An the receivers are good. They have No. 9 and No. 1, which are real flashy receivers. The guys know how to get open. They have really good speed, so it’s going to be a challenge for us on the outside and also in the run game.”

What kind of a quarterback is Mitch Leidner?

“He’s a good quarterback. He manages the game real well. Not flashy, I guess because of the knee injury that he had. Probably not the same, but we’re still on the alert for him running the football. He’s a good, solid quarterback. He’s got some good receivers and he’s got a good tight end in No. 86 who can stretch the field down the middle, so…you know, I think one of the biggest things we’re going to have to be alert for is a lot of play-passes and bootlegs from these guys.

“Because one thing we have to do, we have to focus on stopping their running game first because once their running game gets going that’s when everything else opens up. They’re a strong team, so we do have to be on the alert for that.”

MGoQuestion: What happened on the 30-yard touchdown pass to Kings and the fullback wheel route against Michigan State?

“Well, it was just one of the plays where our eyes and our linebacker wasn’t focused on the play, and a lot of our guys’ eyes were in the backfield, so it’s just one of those plays that happens. You wish it wouldn’t have happened, but we’ll learn from that from this point on.

“And like I always say and always tell the guys in the back end, it’s all about eye control. If you play with good eye control those plays are going to be at a minimum.”

[After THE JUMP: I get coached up on eye control]


Monday Presser 10-26-15: Jim Harbaugh

Monday Presser 10-26-15: Jim Harbaugh Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 26th, 2015 at 6:00 PM



Can you talk about your practices last weekend how the guys responded?

Yeah, really well. Had a real good practice Tuesday, real good practice Wednesday, and then very excited about that and even more excited with how they came back on Sunday for yesterday's practice. It was very sharp and guys were mellowing out. Felt like we improved from where we were on Tuesday and Wednesday.”

On your show yesterday with Jim Brandstatter you said that it's an improvement week rather than a bye week. How much time do you spend working on individual things before you get back to game planning?

Well, we were game planning, and it's…it was probably 50-50: 50[%] on the next opponent, 50% on individual technique and fundamentals and football. The ability to get more reps, repetition, and practice good on good, Michigan versus Michigan, so all those things. You're referring to the radio show last week, not yesterday.”

Do you expect to have Drake Johnson back, and Brian Cole, what's his status?

“He is, uh… Drake Johnson, do expect him to be ready to go.”

And Brian Cole?

Brian's still some time away.”

Is a redshirt still possible for him at this point?

“Uh…we don't really talk about that, that concept.”

Can you talk a little bit about Willie Henry and what he has given you this year?

Yeah, he's been terrific. Stacked on the game from last week and continues to be an improving player and just playing all out. At the end of that ball game he was a critical factor in those stops and he's doing it with talent and hustle, and he’s played very good, improving football with his technique, his fundamentals, very aggressive. Really can't say enough good things about the way he's playing right now.”

[After THE JUMP: “Not for sure on that one, no. I can’t state positively. I’ve read some Hemmingway, so somewhere along the way that got in my brain.”]


Monday Presser 9-28-15: Players

Monday Presser 9-28-15: Players Comment Count

Adam Schnepp September 29th, 2015 at 9:01 AM



Kyle Kalis and Henry Poggi

Henry, it seemed like Jim challenged you guys after week one about physicality and being more physical. Have you kind of taken that to heart and you’re making strides there?

“Yeah, I think so. I think just the way we play, we want to bring a lot of physicality every game. You know, the biggest thing is just progressing week to week, so every practice, every rep, just trying to be more physical.”

Henry, the fullbacks and H-backs are a lot more involved than they used to be in past years. What is the conversation like each week when you guys are trying to figure out if you have a mismatch or the coaches want to get you involved in the game?

“You know, I think it’s just gameplan. I don’t know if it’s anything specifically like a conversation with us. I think it’s like the flow of the game, who’s playing well, who’s not. We’ve got so many guys who can do so many different things I think it’s just really who’s playing well that day.”

Kyle, how much did you guys as an offensive line learn and take from that Utah game and how far have you progressed?

“I think a lot. I mean, obviously Utah, as you’ve all seen over the past couple of weeks, they’re a really good team and we played good against them. Obviously we could have played better, but the thing was just going back that next week and just the way we practiced, our practice style. And a big thing too, I want to give props to our D-line. I mean, our D-line is incredible, and us getting to go against those guys every day, that is huge for us to be able to get ready for games where we have players like we have. That’s a huge part of it, just going against our guys and our work ethic.”

Kyle, Jim said last week you graded out at 90%. He said you had another good game Saturday. What’s gone well for you the last couple games?

“Just having fun. I mean, football’s fun for me. Getting to go out there and practice every day is a privilege, and I see it that way. I don’t know. I’m just playing good.”

[After THE JUMP: More Kalis and Poggi, and Jarrod Wilson]


Upon Further Review 2015: Defense vs UNLV

Upon Further Review 2015: Defense vs UNLV Comment Count

Brian September 24th, 2015 at 3:04 PM

Upon Further Review has not yet lost its sponsor.


Look you probably know about the rates and the pants and the whatnot. Homesure Lending is also a good option because on otherwise boring phone calls you can talk about how awesome Ryan Glasgow is.

Matt's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.

FORMATION NOTES: By this point the defense is pretty well established. We got a few glimpses at what Michigan intends to do against pro-style formations; this is a 4-4 with the line shifted over (to the strength of the formation), Ross at SAM, and Hill threatening off the weakside:

4-4 over

Wilson, the free safety, is about 20 yards downfield.

I'm calling the thing where they drop the buck off the line like so…

30 nickel buck

…"30 nickel buck" to distinguish it from an actual 3-3-5.

This is what I mean by "triple stack" on UNLV's part;  Michigan is in their standard nickel even:

triple stack

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Line was close to the first two games with Henry/Glasgow/Wormley backed by Charlton/Hurst/Godin except that you could replace Henry in the starting lineup with Godin based on snaps played. Henry got cut a bunch on the backside of zones and didn't see much time in the middle of the game.

WDE/buck was the usual 70/30 split between Ojemudia and RJS.

Lawrence Marshall got in on the last drive, as did Brady Pallante.

Linebacker was the same; a little more James Ross at SAM in this game; Gedeon and Ross also got a couple drives as ILBs in the nickel.

Secondary saw the same rotation as per usual (Lewis/Peppers/Wilson/Hill with Stribling or Clark in the nickel) except that Wayne Lyons was the dime back. Brandon Watson got in on the last drive as well.

[After THE JUMP: defense crush]


Preview 2015: Safety

Preview 2015: Safety Comment Count

Brian September 1st, 2015 at 4:59 PM

Previously: Podcast 7.0. The Story. Quarterback. Running Back. Wide Receiver. Tight End And Friends. Offensive Line. Defensive Tackle. Defensive End. Linebacker. Cornerback.


we have very reasonable expectations [Fuller]

Free Safety Yr. Strong Safety Yr. Nickelback Yr.
Jarrod Wilson Sr. Jabrill Peppers Fr.* Jabrill Peppers Fr.*
Dymonte Thomas Jr. Delano Hill So.* Wayne Lyons Sr.*
Wayne Lyons Sr.* Jabrill Peppers Fr.* Dymonte Thomas Jr.



Never be too proud to recycle a joke, I say. I know what you animals want. You want the man I've listed on half the depth charts in this preview, most of them at least semi-seriously. You want…




[Eric Upchurch]

Everyone all together now: the hybrid space player is a reaction to the spread offense. He must be a triple threat, capable of blitzing, playing the run, and covering. He is very very important. They made Charles Woodson into a hybrid space player right before he was the NFL's defensive MVP, because the NFL is basically a passing spread league:

NFL offenses are identifying the nickel corner as a key part of any defense. “This varies from defense to defense, but the amount of your sub package that you play nowadays — because we’re seeing more three wide receivers on the field — your inside player is going to play as many, if not more plays,” Capers says. “You could be in some form of your sub defense two-thirds [of the time].” The number Hayward throws out is 75 percent; Whitt says 80. No matter the math, the point is that the nickel cornerback is as much a “starter” as any other spot in the defensive backfield.

Michigan State's lack of appropriate HSPs last year led their defense to get torched by every decent spread they came across, because said spreads would put their #1 receiver in the slot and run 'em at MSU's inexperienced safeties, who were not cornerbacks. This has been your hybrid space player preview review.

So… JABRILL PEPPERS [recruiting profile]. This is a man that has been hyped to the moon. Tellingly, his coaches aren't trying to put the brakes on. They have in fact shoveled on a little more coal. Harbaugh in spring:

"He’s been A-plus, he really has, all spring. He was just out there taking reps. … A lot of times a guy’ll get in the front of a drill, which he would do, but he would go through the repetition of the drill and I’d see him back in the front again and then again. It’s like, ‘Hey, come on. Jabrill Peppers isn’t taking every rep in these drills.’ But that’s the kind of youngster he is."

Harbaugh again in this fall:

"He's been good, he's been all the things that have been advertised about him. He's a tremendous football player."

The spring game indicated that Michigan had in fact built its defense around him playing HSP/nickel/whatever:

Under Hoke it was difficult to tell who was the strong safety and who was the free safety. That will not be the case this year, as Jabrill Peppers was operating as a lightning fast outside linebacker for big chunks of the game. He tattooed running backs in the backfield more than once.

Peppers barely left that location. When Michigan went to a nickel package they did so by bringing in an extra safety and leaving Peppers over the slot, where he nearly caused an interception by breaking on a quick slant to Bo Dever.

That was the plan last year as well, but even before he got hurt Michigan was forced to adapt. Press coverage was a disaster in the Notre Dame game and Raymon Taylor was out, so Peppers was delployed as a boundary corner in the Miami (Not That Miami) game. (That's a spot he may resume if things don't go well with Stribling and Clark; he has been repping there a bit this fall.)

Miami did people wishing to have any useful scouting from Peppers's freshman year a favor by going at him over and over again on the usually-sound principle that freshmen seeing their first extended action should be slow-roasted until they can be pulled apart with forks. That didn't go the way the Redhawks thought it might.

They did get one completion on him, that a bullet skinny post against zone that Peppers still got a rake in on. His first extended playing time looked pretty damn exciting, and then his knee locked up and it was goodbye season. There are a ton of fascinating counterfactuals from the last year of Michigan football; "what if Jabrill Peppers is healthy?" is one of the best. Does he end up the starting running back halfway through the season? Does Michigan lose to Rutgers? (A: no.) Does Brady Hoke eke out his job at 7-5?

Anyway. That's in the past.

Also in the past is his high school scouting, but other than a bunch of talk and those clips above it's all we have to go on. Also it is fun to revisit, so let's revisit it.

"Peppers is a rare athlete with potential to be great at the next level. He is one of the most talented players I have ever seen at the high school level. At 6-foot-1, and 205-pounds, Peppers has college ready size to go with un-matched speed and explosiveness."


USC coach: "Holy s---, that's him? I've only seen two players in high school with a body like that and both of them are named Peterson [Adrian and Patrick]."

And this player comparison is a damn good one.

"I think his impact on the game [would be maximized by] letting him roam around a little bit and freelance and let him play – an Eric Berry style of safety where they would walk him up. I mean, Eric Berry had 15 tackles for loss.  He is that kind of a player.  Eric Berry, I thought, was maybe the best player in college football a couple of years ago.”

That remains the mission. Be Eric Berry. Or Woodson. Judges will accept either.

I know it's a lot to heap on a dude who's barely seen the field but every indicator from the program is that this gentleman is the real deal both on and off the field. He will start living up to the hype this year.

[After THE JUMP: how many shoes are you wearing stop throwing them]


Draftageddon 2015: The Order Of Kovacs Convenes

Draftageddon 2015: The Order Of Kovacs Convenes Comment Count

Ace August 10th, 2015 at 12:00 PM


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:



ACE: Round 16, Pick 2: Billy Price, G, Ohio State

Price (#54) made the key block to spring Elliott 85 yards against Bama

OFFENSE: QB Jake Rudock (U-M), RB Josh Ferguson (IL), OW Braxton Miller (OSU), WR Michael Thomas (OSU), WR DaeSean Hamilton (PSU), OT Jack Conklin (MSU), OG Billy Price (OSU), OC Dan Voltz (UW)

DEFENSE: DE Joey Bosa (OSU), DT Darius Hamilton (RU), NT Austin Johnson (PSU), OLB Darron Lee (OSU), OLB Joshua Perry (OSU), CB Eli Apple (OSU), CB Darius Hillary (UW), S Tyvis Powell (OSU)

If you don't want to watch a season's worth of Ezekiel Elliott highlights while focusing on the left guard, which I can understand, at least skip to the 3:17 mark to see Billy Price chip a defensive tackle and then seal off a linebacker with surprising suddenness for a 6'4", 315-pound human. Then take these things into account:

  • He started all 15 games as a redshirt freshman on Ohio State's offensive line, which became arguably the best run-blocking unit in the country by the end of the season. Incidentally, Price only got better as 2014 wore on.
  • Just one year prior, Price was adjusting to offense after moving from defensive tackle, his primary position in high school.
  • "The 6-foot-4, 312-pounder is regarded to be the strongest guy on the team. He bench-presses 475 pounds, has done 34 reps at 225 pounds and has a vertical jump of 30 inches."
  • 34 reps at 225 would've placed Price fourth among offensive linemen at this year's NFL combine. He's still a year away from draft eligibility.
  • He's learning from Ed Warinner, one of the best offensive line coaches in the country.

Assuming Price develops at a reasonable rate he'll be one of the best guards in the conference this year. He might've reached that level by the end of last year and he'll be much more comfortable as a second-year starter. He got a lot of praise for his play in the spring after he showed enough command of the offense to fill in for a banged up Jacoby Boren at center. The term "night and day" was thrown around a couple times. He's got a ton of physical ability; if the light comes on, he'll be really good, and he's already shown he can reliably push around defensive tackles.

SETH: Round 16, Pick 3: Graham Glasgow, OL, Michigan

[Bryan Fuller]

OFFENSE: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Corey Clement (WIS), WR Leonte Carroo (Rut), WR Jalin Marshall (OSU), OC Jack Allen (MSU), OG Pat Elflein (OSU), OT Alex Lewis (Neb), OT Mason Cole (Mich), OG Graham Glasgow (Mich)
DEFENSE: DE/OLB Kemoko Turay (RU), MLB Desmond Morgan (Mich), WLB Steve Longa (RU), HSP Jabrill Peppers (Mich), DB Jordan Lucas (PSU), S Michael Caputo (WI), CB Will Likely (MD)

We've now exhausted the preseason all-[thing] lists and NFL mock drafts, and Brian is taking the Aussie kicker we all desired. He just did this despite having zero anybodies on the interior OL to protect Hackenberg, because that always turns out well. So I feel bad for taking this one, since it's totally Brian's fault that I know Graham Glasgow is good at football

MGoBlog has said enough on that subject since 2013 that we can save most of the details for next month's O-line preview. I'll add that two springs now two coaching staffs have threatened the OT depth chart with Glasgow sliding outside if they don't outplay the interior guys too. Graham's probably the center this year, but we've seen him mostly at guard, where he's strong enough to hold up against very good DTs (+4.5/-2 in PSU UFR) and blast light ones (+9/-1 vs Rutgers).

More importantly he has often been Michigan's only lineman making the quick heady adjustments that good running games must have for consistent success. I've also noticed a trend in that he gets better as the game progresses and he starts to pick up opponents' tendencies. The last link is Glasgow recognizing his second-level target is backing out and there's no chance against the blitzer, so he just seals Cole's guy. 

Ironically for such an exceptionally bright player on the field, this pick is in jeopardy from an offseason repeat of the same bad judgment that cost him last season's opener. From here to January, the margin for further error is .001 percent. But if you're going to put your faith in something, it might as well be a Glasgow.

ADAM: Round 16, Pick 4: Nate Gerry, S/HSP, Nebraska
Round 17, Pick 1: Josh Campion, OG, Minnesota

OFFENSE: QB J.T. Barrett (OSU), WR Jordan Westerkamp (Neb), OT Jason Spriggs, (IU), TE Jake Butt (UM), C Austin Blythe (Iowa), RB Justin Jackson (NW), OG Brian Allen (MSU), WR De'Mornay Pierson-El (Neb), OG Josh Campion (Minn)

DEFENSE: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), DT Adolphus Washington (OSU), S Vonn Bell (OSU), CB Eric Murray (Minn), LB Raekwon McMillan (OSU), DE Drew Ott (Iowa), OLB Ed Davis (MSU), S/HSP Nate Gerry (Neb)

Gerry is nominally a free safety, but I can't help but watch him and think that he's an ideal hybrid space player. He's the same weight (205) as Peppers and an inch taller, and his stats—88 tackles (49 unassisted), 7 TFL, 2 forced fumbles, 3 QB hurries, 5 interceptions, 4 PBU—paint a picture of a guy who's adept playing near the line or in coverage. 

He isn't lined up over the slot, but there are shades of HSPness in this interception. Nebraska lines Gerry up as a linebacker to disguise the coverage. That he can line up there on 3rd-and-11 and the only red flag is what he's wearing says something about his versatility. Gerry then bails as the ball's snapped. He adjusts to an underthrown ball, jumping in front of the receiver for an interception. More evidence: Gerry ran a state-record 10.3 second 100-meter dash in high school; with that speed I'm confident he can linger in space near the line and carry a receiver into coverage or blow up a run in the backfield.

I'm going to move my next pick to a different position as well, but this isn't as much of a stretch as turning Gerry into a HSP. Campion is a former tackle, though Minnesota has decided to move him to guard this fall. At 6'5" and 310 pounds I'm inclined to leave him at tackle, especially considering he's started 39 straight games there; the versatility is a nice bonus. He garnered an All-Big Ten honorable mention on a Minnesota line that wasn't bad—19th in adjusted line yards, 26th in standard downs line yards per carry, and 56th in opportunity rate. He has also been compared to former Gopher Adam Haayer, because "...both share a bond as very dependable Gopher starters with a love for the outdoors." Minnesota, man.



Spring Stuff 2015: Defense

Spring Stuff 2015: Defense Comment Count

Brian April 7th, 2015 at 12:56 PM

Previously: the offense.


hello [Patrick Barron]

This is the good part. There were a few folks trying to find the nearest available ledge after yesterday's post. I'm not sure if they're wildly optimistic about HARBAUGH and expect next year's team to be year four Stanford or if I came off too brutally negative. Either way, this post will be a lot sunnier.

It's not a 3-4. Unless Michigan was sandbagging in their spring game they are running a defense quite similar to last year's—at least as far as the front seven goes. We have great experience with paranoid coaches as Michigan fans and not once has a major structural shift in the defense been concealed in spring. Even last year under Sir Puntsalot Michigan went full man press and that was their defense until circumstances dictated otherwise.

So we'll run with the assumption that what Michigan put out there was about what they'll run. This game saw Michigan run a 4-3—actually more of a 4-4, but more about that later—almost all the time. They went so far as to deploy Royce Jenkins-Stone as a weakside end because they were all out of weakside ends outside of Lawrence Marshall.

They will mix fronts, as all teams do. It is not a radical departure from last year's approach. And that's a good thing.

There is a departure. That is…

17032765582_dbe45344a6_zA hybrid space player is here. The biggest difference between Mattison's defense and Durkin's is at safety. Under Hoke it was difficult to tell who was the strong safety and who was the free safety. That will not be the case this year, as Jabrill Peppers was operating as a lightning fast outside linebacker for big chunks of the game. He tattooed running backs in the backfield more than once.

Peppers barely left that location. When Michigan went to a nickel package they did so by bringing in an extra safety and leaving Peppers over the slot, where he nearly caused an interception by breaking on a quick slant to Bo Dever.

[@ right: Upchurch]

If you were worried that moving Peppers to safety would make him a peripheral player who mostly shows up when making a tackle ten yards downfield, don't be. The vision of Peppers provided on Saturday was one of Tennessee-era Eric Berry or Packers-era Charles Woodson: an all-purpose sower of havoc. Berry had 16 TFLs his final two years at Tennessee. Woodson evolved into an NFL Defensive Player Of The Year as something beyond traditional positional definitions:

“They’re playing a lot of nickel, you know the old split six, so an eight man front,” said Mornhinweg. “They’ve got a good cover man with [Charles Woodson] down there who’s a very, very good tackler, so they sort of invite you to run the football into that base type personnel group however they’re very good.”

While that would normally be a successful strategy, Woodson’s ability to defend the run as a slot cornerback gives the defense some teeth.

“They feel very comfortable with him playing in that, which really is like a WILL linebacker position, he’s a physical guy,” said Eagles head coach Andy Reid. “He has great speed. He’s a great blitzer, great blitzer. So that’s how they use him.”

Woodson acted as that triple threat: 

Woodson is fast enough to get to the quarterback in a hurry, but still strong enough to defend the run.  Most of all, he’s a highly talented cover cornerback.

That is Peppers's role. Michigan's "nickel" is a base package with a hyper-athletic WLB; its base set looks like an eight-man front with a guy in that front who can cover anyone on the field. The defense is designed around his uncommon abilities.


Hurst was a regular annoyance to Morris [Bryan Fuller]

Activate DT depth. One of the striking things about the roster is that I had no idea who got struck first when drafting the defensive tackles. Glasgow and Henry were starters last year but both Mone and Hurst flashed ability as backups; a year later everyone's back and Maurice Hurst is in your base every play.

As a recruit Hurst was regarded as a lightning quick first step above all, with questions about whether he could hold up. That makes him an ideal three-technique. Three-techs get more one on one matchups if the nose tackle absorbs doubles, and Hurst is a good bet to shoot into the backfield. That was the case on Saturday. Hurst was a regular entrant into the land where TFLs are made.

He was going up against Ben Braden and David Dawson at guard, neither of whom is established as a starter-level player on the inside. But Braden did start all of last year and Dawson was a well-regarded recruit; neither is a walkon; both have been around a couple years. He was slicing through those guys with regularity.

Henry did well for himself after the first snap and should maintain the starting job. That two-deep looks set to be a high quality platoon.


I am ready to respect your authoritah [Eric Upchurch]

Inside backers are ready to rip. With James Ross out and Royce Jenkins-Stone drafted at WDE, the third linebacker in most sets was an odd duck. It did not seem to matter much, because the ILBs were filling with abandon. I have long been a skeptic about Joe Bolden's ability to hit people hard, but I thought he looked great.

There has always been a hesitancy about his play that has caused things like third and two conversions when Bolden goes entirely unblocked; that feels like it's finally out the door. Bolden showed up in the backfield a ton and hit guys hard when he showed. If that is not a spring mirage that sets Michigan up excellently for fall. Desmond Morgan's return gives Michigan another hard-hitting, dead-stop-tackler with a ton of experience, and Ben "Inexplicably Not Redshirted" Gedeon is ready to be the guy who spots both starters so regularly that he is a virtual starter as well.

The third linebacker should be Ross if healthy. In this defense I wonder how much run he'll get. Michigan has gone from a team that resigns itself to a ton of 4-3 sets against spread personnel (remember Jake Ryan walking out over three WR sets?) to one downright eager to play nickel.

In any case, two senior linebackers is a luxury.

Questions. The pieces are there for an outstanding defense. In my mind there are four main questions:

  • Can anyone rush the quarterback?
  • Can they find a second man press cornerback?
  • Are the safeties reliable enough?
  • Will the offense sell them out too much?

The last question is beyond the scope of this post. Suffice it to say that the last two years the defense had a tendency to collapse late after the offense's millionth three-and-out of the game.

Let's try to address the others.


Marshall is a breakout candidate and a 2015 key [Fuller]

Can anyone rush the quarterback? Michigan has not had a standout pass rusher since… Brandon Graham? Jake Ryan had a year in there but then he blew out his knee and wasn't an impact player as a junior; as a senior he had a distinctly muted impact (2 sacks) as a middle linebacker*. Brennen Beyer led last year's team with 5.5; Frank Clark had 4.5; neither was the kind of edge terror that needs to be accounted for every play.

Prospects are dim for that guy to emerge this year. Lawrence Marshall, a highly-regarded in-state recruit coming off a redshirt, has gotten a lot of hype. It would be a meteoric rise to go from not playing to being a terror. Mario Ojemudia is what he is at this point.

Michigan's best hope might be Taco Charlton, who seems set to move back to the weakside end after a season spent on the strongside in a 4-3 over. Charlton has a package of athleticism that is unmatched; this is a point where the proverbial light might come on. A spring injury prevented a hype train from building up steam; he'll be a guy you hope starts opening eyes in fall.

The defensive tackles also offer some promise here. Glasgow offered little pass rush a year ago, but Hurst, Mone, and Henry could be plus gentlemen, especially if they're all fresh because they can rotate freely without much drop in production. And the havoc Peppers causes might open up opportunities for other guys.

Even so this seems like the biggest gotcha in Michigan's quest for an elite defense.

Can they find a second man press cornerback? Michigan wanted to run an in-your-face aggressive defense last year and did so until it became clear that this was exposing Blake Countess to Spock levels of toxic radiation. Jourdan Lewis thrived, though, and returns as Michigan's #1 corner. Is there someone around who can let Michigan go Teddy KGB on opponents?

The two main contenders here are Countess, a year wiser and receiving cornerback coaching from a couple gentlemen with a slightly better pedigree in that department than the departed Roy Manning, and Stanford transfer Wayne Lyons. Lyons started for large chunks of the year for a lights-out Stanford secondary; he was regarded as something of a weak link. He can be the weak link in the #2 defense in the country and I will find that acceptable.

I give the slight edge to Lyons here, as he is bigger and faster than Countess. The boundary corner slot beckons.

A darkhorse: Brandon Watson. The redshirt freshman spent some time at safety last year, which made no sense since literally the only thing he did in high school is line up with his facemask molecules away from the opposition and jam the hell out of them. He looked pretty good on Saturday.

Are the safeties reliable enough? Jarrod Wilson is probably fine. I thought Michigan's tendency to jerk him around because he gave a team a small window to hit a pass in was one of their worst qualities under Hoke. They played nonsense guys over him from time to time, seemingly out of pique, and the defense got worse. Anyway, he's back and he should be reliable to good.

The second safety is not really Peppers since Peppers is a destroyer-of-all-trades in or near the box. The second safety is the guy who comes in when Michigan goes to the nickel that we are all going to interpret as Michigan's base defense by midyear. That is some combination of Delano Hill, Dymonte Thomas, Jeremy Clark, and Tyree Kinnel. Clark and Hill are the favorites. The numbers there are reasonable; can they find a player?

*[A move that was way more bonkers than it seems in retrospect because of Morgan's injury. Michigan opted to move their only impact rusher to MLB when they had Bolden and Morgan at ILB.]