Monday Presser 11-24-14: Players

Monday Presser 11-24-14: Players

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 26th, 2014 at 9:07 AM

players 11-24

Jarrod Wilson, Jack Miller, Brennen Beyer

Before you were at Michigan, your favorite Michigan v. Ohio State game. Maybe something that you watched growing up?

JM: “I was never a particular fan of either team, but when you grow up in the state of Ohio or Michigan the last weekend of November the game is always kind of a big deal, so I always watched them. I don’t necessarily remember a specific one more than another. Maybe when they were #1 and #2 one year down in Ohio or whatever, maybe that one. But you always know about it. You always watch it, and it means a hell of a lot.”

 

Jack, we just had your offensive coordinator out here who was talking about the challenges you guys have gone through adapting to a new system here. I know it hasn’t been maybe the year you’d hope for, but how do you feel you’ve done trying to learn what he’s been teaching and what kind of struggles have happened along the way?

JM: “I can only speak from an offensive line perspective, and maybe that’s a bright spot for us is we’ve gotten better as the season’s gone on. In November, which is arguably the most important month, we’re running the ball really well. We’re protecting Devin pretty well, and so I’m pretty proud of how the offensive line’s coming together as a team and we’ve been pretty successful down the stretch, but we haven’t put it all together as an offense or as a team and that’s the ultimate goal, which we’ve failed to accomplish.”

 

If you could just briefly describe your feelings for Ohio State. Obviously it’s a more elevated rivalry, but what about them makes this special for you?

BB: “Growing up in Michigan this game’s been my favorite game to watch moreso than any other sporting event I’d say just being a big Michigan fan. Playing in it is pretty cool too. It’s just got so much weight in the football game, two programs, two top-of-the-line programs. There’s just so much going into it. So much history and so much tension in the rivalry. It’s awesome. It’s the game you want to play in.”

JM: “I think I’ll say it the most diplomatic way I can: I’m not a big fan of Ohio State. I never have been. Ever since they beat Miami in the 2002 National Championship Game I’ve always disliked them, and I don’t like the Horseshoe and I don’t like Carmen Ohio. That’s kind of how I feel about them.”

JW: “It’s the greatest rivalry in college football. As far as Ohio, being an Ohio kid I kind of grew up watching them but never really was a fan of them. For this game I’m just really excited to play.”

[More after THE JUMP]

Upon Further Review 2014: Defense vs Penn State

Upon Further Review 2014: Defense vs Penn State

Submitted by Brian on October 16th, 2014 at 5:18 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan introduced a true 3-3-5 package, not the standup Frank Clark stuff we've seen before. Here's a weird example with Godin, the guy who was usually the nose in this formation, shaded over a tackle. This was for hijinks; more of ten it just looked like a regular 3-3-5.

M nickel-wide

Other than that, standard.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: A shakeup on the line as Charlton started, as did Mone and Wormley. Henry was out with an injury (presumably one to his thumb); Glasgow was absent for most of the game but then came on late and played well. Super, super weird. Beyer reclaimed most of his PT by halftime; Mone and Wormley were spotted by Hurst and Godin, getting almost equal time.

LB was the usual, except when Michigan went to a new 3-3-5 package Gedeon was the third option instead of Ross.

Secondary was Lewis 100% of the time I think with Taylor getting more PT than Countess; Countess and Hollowell split nickel snaps. I think it was Clark and Wilson at safety with Thomas occasionally spotting Clark but given the way this played out the safeties weren't on the screen much.

[After THE JUMP: Penn State not so much.]

Preview 2014: Safety

Preview 2014: Safety

Submitted by Brian on August 28th, 2014 at 8:23 PM

Previously: Podcast 6.0. The Story. Quarterback. Running back. Wide Receiver. Tight End And Friends. Offensive Line. Defensive End. Defensive Tackle. Linebacker. Cornerback.

Free Safety Yr. Strong Safety Yr. Nickelback Yr.
Jarrod Wilson Jr. Delano Hill So.* Jabrill Peppers So.*
Jeremy Clark So.* Dymonte Thomas So. Blake Countess Jr.*
Reon Dawson Fr.* Brandon Watson Fr. Dymonte Thomas So.

[* = player has taken redshirt. # = walk-on]

So, JARROD WILSON…

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Okay, okay, Jarrod Wilson after the jump. Now…

NICKELBACK!

RATING: EXPLOSIONS

ok, you're out of shoes, right

RATING: 4

105146 EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ 12/07/2012 Bergen Catholic vs. Paramus Catholic high school football Non Public Group 4 state championship game at MetLife Stadium. PC #5 Jabrill Peppers on his way to scoring his first touchdown of the game in the first quarter.  MICHAEL KARAS / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

I've been talking about hybrid space players for years now, projecting that Michigan would acquire one of these important gentlemen since about a year after that, and resigning myself to yet another repurposed 5'9" corner four games into every season since. Two years ago:

The thing that kept me from playing nickel a lot last year – the nickel has to be able to blitz. He has to be able to change the math … some guys can blitz and some can’t.

Michigan didn't have that guy, and their defense was solid, but conservative.

Now… now Michigan has a hybrid space player. Sound the trumpets. Unfurl the banners. Roll the carpet forth unto the unworthy ground so that our prince can walk upon maize and blue! Fetch… fetch the Woodson comparison. Yes, from the vaults.

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ATTACK OF THE CLONES [Fuller]

And so forth and so on. As to why Michigan is deploying its most hyped recruit ever at a spot historically reserved for a not-quite-starting cornerback on passing downs, let's revisit last year's preview:

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The ideal nickelback is a corner/safety/linebacker hybrid who can cover slot receivers, blitz like a mofo, and fend off blockers to make tackles in space, and in the increasingly spread-oriented world of football they are essentially starters. This does not just apply to college football:

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.

The QED here: that's an article on second-year player Casey Hayward, who replaced Charles friggin' Woodson as the Packers' nickel. In his time at that spot, Woodson picked up a Defensive Player of the Year award. The best nickels double as outside corners when teams are in a base package; others are just really important fifth defensive backs.

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

SI followed that Grantland article up with one this year asserting that the nickelback has risen in prominence as the NFL's "key battles move to the slot":

Teams ran base (with four defensive backs) 48 percent of the time in 2011, 45 percent in '12 and 40 percent in '13. Nickel sets increased from 40 to 44 to 49 percent over that same three-year span.

College is gradually following a similar pattern. One of the main reasons Michigan is moving to the over defense is that they were in it like half the time last year anyway, because that's how you have to respond to spread offenses. However, the motivations are somewhat different. In college if you get spread out there's a better than even chance they are spreading to run, an innovation still mostly on the sidelines in a league where you can pick the 30 most accurate passers in the world and whoever the Browns have this year.

But the idea remains the same: triple threat.

"To play nickel now? I think it's really hard. You have to play the two-way go [option routes in which the receiver can turn inside or outside based on coverage] inside the numbers, you have to be able to tackle, and you have to be able to blitz. And blitz is a technique, just like playing man-to-man or running routes. You need practice at that. You can't run in there straight up and down like a pencil, or you'll get decapitated. Because as the nickel, sometimes you blitz, and the tackle is set up on you. How do you beat him? You've got to get him back on his heels -- you set him up, almost like a basketball player driving to the hole.

You have to cover, you have to play the run, and you have to murder the quarterback. Come on down, JABRILL PEPPERS [recruiting profile].

Since Peppers is a true freshman, and since he is Jabrill Peppers, I can't tell you anything you don't already know if you've read that profile. Selected, mouth-watering highlights:

"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."

This one is particularly apt given Peppers's spot in the defense:

"…could play four to five different positions and excel at them.  He is a strong running back.  He is as fluid as a good corner.  He hits like a linebacker.  He could play safety.  You could honestly take him and put him in an outside linebacker position and he would flourish.

Oh and

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]."

Scout's Scott Kennedy gets a gold star for his player comparison:

"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.”

Eric Berry was a nickel in college. People didn't quite know it at the time because everyone was just inventing the idea of putting your most badass guy there, but he was a nickel. He's a nickel in the NFL, acquiring 3.5 sacks in 2013 and going to the Pro Bowl every time he's been healthy.

That is the mission. Be Eric Berry. Or All Pro Charles Woodson, of course.

Can Peppers do it right away? I'm supposed to equivocate about freshmen here. I won't. He's got the size, he's got the speed, and he's blazed his way to the starting lineup essentially on day one. Sam Webb:

I know the Jabrill Peppers is hyped enough already but the word he is the real deal.  You saw the pictures so you know where he is physically.  But it’s the non-stop motor and tenacity that just put him on another level from most freshmen.  …  It’s often hard to keep expectations of freshmen subdued, but it’s especially hard when they’ve been as good as advertised in practice.  They all say he is young and has a lot to learn, but also say he is as good as advertised.

I'm sure there will be some busts as he gets situated in the defense. That should be the primary issues. Go time: now.

[After the JUMP: the actual safeties, you shoe-throwing maniac.]

Media Day Presser 8-10-14: Brady Hoke

Media Day Presser 8-10-14: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 11th, 2014 at 10:49 AM

Eric Upchurch

News bullets and other important items:

  • Delonte Hollowell has a cast on his hand and Ondre Pipkins was held out of two-a-days as a precaution.
  • Shane Morris is the backup QB. They like the progress he’s made, but he’s the backup.
  • Wilton Speight is competing with Russell Bellomy for the third-string QB job. Decision on whether Speight should redshirt will be made in a couple of weeks.
  • The first team offensive line should be determined over the next week.
  • May use by-committee approach to running backs, but they would like to have a featured back.
  • Drake Johnson and De’Veon Smith are 1 and 1a on the RB depth chart, with Derrick Green at 2.
  • Team is still searching for an identity, though Hoke wants it to be one that can run the ball and have toughness on both sides of the ball. Toughness was mentioned a lot today.
  • Brian is probably going to have to eat a lemon.

Opening remarks:

“Good morning. I’m glad you’re here. Overall, we’re really happy with the progress we’ve made from spring. I think in the practices that we’ve had, we went two yesterday-- really good effort and good competition, which is what we’re striving for at every position but also offense versus defense, the kicking game versus the kicking game, all those things, we’ve come out and competed hard. Now we are not, as far as being a good football team yet. But the way they’ve come to work every day and what they’ve done, I think the identity of this team is still one that we’re developing and trying to develop. I think the team has invested themselves in a lot of ways in each other and in what we’re trying to get done. This next week is a grind and should be because you’ve got some double-day practices in there. We’ll scrimmage sometime during that time, during that week, trying to get reps and see what matchups we like as an offense and defense. Really looking into the situational football standpoint of it, how we match up and how we will match up during the course of the year. Excited about where we’re at knowing that we’ve got a lot of hard work that we’ve got to put into it. Staff-wise, player-wise, trainer-wise, manager-wise, everybody that’s involved. So from that standpoint there’s a lot of positives. From the standpoint of where we want to be, we’re not near that yet.

Can you say anything particular about any injuries that have occurred?

“You know,there are some guys who are banged up. Delonte Hollowell, he’s got a cast on his hand. As far as anything real major besides a couple guys we held out, Ondre Pipkins in two-a-day days, trying not to overwork him. We’re doing a lot with some of the GPS tracking that we’re into. I think the first time around doing all that stuff you’re trying to get some baselines and some data and all that and I think that’s helping us when we go out to practice.”

What can you tell me about your thought process through the kicking game this year? Special teams particularly, because you’re going to be seeing a lot of new faces. So what can you tell me, from long snapper to holder to PK…

“Yeah. Matt Wile has done a nice job in his career so far in the kicking part of it. Will Hagerup, it’s great to have Will back. He’s had a good camp so far. Kenny Allen is a young man who’s walked on here who’s worked really hard and is developing a little bit on kickoffs. He’s a very good punter. Snapper, Scott Sypniewski and Danny Liesman are two guys that are really competing there. Scott we brought in a year ago and were able to redshirt him, but losing Jareth Glanda, that’s a big loss but Scott’s done a nice job in that part of it. When you look at the return game there’s a lot of different guys. Norfleet’s really taken most of them but a guy like Freddy Canteen, a guy like Jabrill Peppers, some of those guys have a skillset that we think is pretty good. And the other part of that is having Drake Johnson back is a real plus.”

I’m curious to know how is the development of your wide receiver group going and the transition to a new offensive system?

“The wide receivers, I think, are learning every day. I think the pressure and the stress that we put on them and how we practice as a whole team but for those guys when you’re talking about formationally getting lined up and the different personnel groups and depending on what the quarterback sees and what he’s pointing and all that, I think they’re learning a lot there. I think with Devin [Funchess] and Jehu [Chesson], Amara [Darboh] coming back is a real plus for us. He’s had a real good camp so far. Again, it’s not like we’re in three weeks of it but he’s done a nice job. Freddy Canteen, I think all those guys, Bo Dever, Da’Mario Jones, all of them have improved. They fit what we’re doing. We’ve recruited them to fit what we’re doing offensively.”

[After THE JUMP: Jake Ryan, leadership, Gardner, and more.]

Draftageddon 2014: Someone's Got Terp Fever

Draftageddon 2014: Someone's Got Terp Fever

Submitted by Brian on July 14th, 2014 at 12:36 PM
The goal of Draftageddon is to draft a team of Big Ten players that seems generally more impressive than that of your competitors. Along the way, we'll learn a lot of alarming things, like maybe Maryland is good? Full details are in the first post.

PREVIOUSLY ON DRAFTAGEDDON

  1. Everyone not grabbing dual-threat senior QBs grabs defensive linemen
  2. Seth takes Venric Mark in front of just about everyone
  3. Nothing terribly remarkable happens
  4. BISB takes all the guys I want
  5. A ridiculous amount of time is spent discussing the merits of one particular interior lineman from Rutgers
  6. WILDCARD TIME as Brian takes a quarterback despite already having a quarterback.
  7. Peppers drafted in WILDCARD TIME II.
  8. Someone drafts an Illinois defender! I know!

CURRENT SITUATION

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ROUND 17 - PICK 2: Adolphus Washington, DT, Ohio State

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O: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Ameer Abdullah (NE), WR Devin Funchess (U-M), SLOT Dontre Wilson (OSU), TE Maxx Williams (MN), LT Brandon Scherff (IA), LG Kaleb Johnson (RU), RT Tyler Marz (WI)

D: WDE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), SDE Andre Monroe (MD), NT Darius Kilgo (MD), DT Adolphus Washington (OSU), OLB Chi Chi Ariguzo (NW), OLB Matt Robinson (MD), CB Desmond King (IA), S John Lowdermilk (IA), HSP Earnest Thomas III (IL)

ST: KR/PR Ameer Adbullah (NE)

ACE: I was really hoping Trinca-Passat would fall just a little further, but I'll happily settle for the fourth member of Ohio State's fearsome defensive line. Adolphus Washington came to Ohio State as a five-star defensive end in the class of 2012; as a freshman he backed up Big Ten DPOY John Simon at DE, recording three sacks in ten games, including a sack/fumble against Taylor Lewan when he beat him clean around the edge. In 2013 he was a valuable backup all along the defensive line, lining up both inside and outside en route to picking up two more sacks among his four TFLs in 12 games despite playing at less than 100%.

Washington was initially a starter at SDE last season, but a groin injury in game two against San Diego State cost him the next two games, and when he returned he'd been Wally Pipped by Joey Bosa—no shame there. With Bosa's emergence, Washington finally has a place to call his own on the defensive line, as the OSU coaches made him a permanent defensive tackle in the spring; in fact, his ascension to the starting lineup was so inevitable that senior Joel Hale, who started 11 games at DT last season, volunteered to move to offensive guard after turning down the same move a year prior.

No longer concerned with maintaining edge-rushing speed, Washington is a solid 288 pounds, and he should be even bigger by the fall. He won't have to worry about too many double-teams with Kilgo commanding two blockers and the Calhoun/Monroe duo coming off the edge. (He won't in real life, either, though neither he nor Michael Bennett is a true two-gap nose.) He can be disruptive as a penetrating three-tech who's retained enough quickness to be very dangerous on stunts. As he settles into his new position, he should only get better, too.

I know it's been two years since I made the very same selection, so perhaps it will work out better this time, but best of luck with the whole Campbell thing, Brian. From the FFFF you linked:

Strong safety Ibraheim Campbell also acquitted himself well in this regard, flowing downhill aggressively and making a couple nice tackles pretty close to the LOS; he was also prone to taking poor angles, however, and had a couple whiffs in there too.

Run defense is his strength. I considered drafting him instead of Thomas, but I like Thomas's controlled aggression—and thumping hits—against screens and run plays more, especially in confined spaces, and I'll wait to grab another safety more suitable for coverage purposes in a later round.

INTERLUDE

ACE: Oh, and I'm pretty sure I've already won this whole thing anyway.

Brandon Scherff is 11 foot 5, 890 pounds?!

BISB: Eh, his pad level is probably terrible. Plus he's in legal trouble for crushing Oberyn Martell's skull in a fight.

ACE: Oh man, I watched that episode on the DVR, and as soon as it ended I flipped to overtime of Game 7 between the Kings and Blackhawks.

The surgeon general's warning for this course of action is simply: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

SETH: Thomas has made a host of highlight reels, namely those of every team he's played against.

Okay I'll stop now, but only because watching Melvin Gordon rip off huge gains against Thomas is making me kick myself about the Mark pick.

ACE: Seth, your ability to link highlights that have zero context due to pore-o-vision—and, in the case of the second one, showing Thomas execute his assignment while an entirely different defender is late to get to the fullback—is unparalleled.

BRYAN: You just have to look at the tape REALLY closely.

SETH: Didn't really affect the play but he sat there and ate tight end. I can keep pulling these out but I really don't think anybody should be watching this much Illini secondary play without, like, protective gear or heavy drugs.

BRYAN: You're talking to the guy who did the App State, Miami (NTM) and Rutgers HTTV previews. Ace has seen things even the Illini couldn't dream of seeing.

ACE: I CAME IN LIKE A WREEEEEEEECKING BAAAAAALLLLLLLLL

Please send help.

ROUND 17 - PICK 3: Deon Long, WR, Maryland

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DRAFT ALL THE MARYLANDS

O: QB Devin Gardner (UM), RB Jeremy Langford (MSU), RB Tevin Coleman (IU),  WR Kenny Bell (Neb), WR Shane Wynn (IU), WR Deon Long (MD), OT Donovan Smith (PSU), OT Jack Conklin (MSU), C Austin Blythe (Iowa)

D: DT Louis Trinca-Pasat (Iowa), DE Joey Bosa (OSU), DE Noah Spence (OSU), LB Jake Ryan (UM), LB Mike Hull (PSU), CB Sojourn Shelton (Wisky), CB Jabrill Peppers (UM), S Kurtis Drummond (MSU)

ST: Bell (KR), Peppers (PR)

BISB: It's hard for me to explain Long's continued presence on the board, other than to think that people didn't see enough separation between Long and teammate Levern Jacobs to warrant grabbing one until the other was gone. But I'm amazed he's still here in Round 17, and I gladly yoink him at this point.

Long caught 32 passes for 489 yards despite (a) only playing six and a half games, and (b) sharing targets with Stefon Diggs. Extrapolate that out over Maryland's 13 game season (i.e. multiply by 2) and he was on pace for a 64 catch, 978 yard season. His 15.3 YPC and 8.9 yards per target would have been among the best in the Big Ten last year if Maryland had been in the Big Ten last year. A really good all-around receiver, especially on slants and fades/outs. He finds separation to the outside, and he has great body control and sideline awareness. He can also high-point the ball well for a moderately-sized receiver. He was also a 5-star coming out of high school, which, while it means nothing, means something. Jacobs is solid, but Long is a little bigger, a little faster, and was the starter over Jacobs when everyone was healthy.

Between Kenny Bell, Shane Wynn, and Deon Long, I feel like I should be okay in the ball-catchy department.

[AFTER THE JUMP: Marcus Rush, more like Marcus Stationary Bike Amirite; BISB doubles down on Maryland; a long discussion about the philosophy of safeties; BISB reminds us all that Kurtis Drummond exists about 600 times.]

Dear Diary is Michigan's Fourth Sport

Dear Diary is Michigan's Fourth Sport

Submitted by Seth on February 14th, 2014 at 11:19 AM

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Via Hail to the Blue in the comments, "The softball team is in action today, tomorrow, and Sunday in Lafayette, LA at the Ragin' Cajun Invitational. Follow @umichsoftball on Twitter for live updates. Couple of tough games against UL-Lafayette today and tomorrow down here."

Pitchers and Catchers! There used to be a day sometime in the late summer every year when I start to get really excited about football. This tingling would progress to a low hum when practices started up, and would be a spinal vibration by the time I'm racing into the stadium for whatever MACrifice we're starting against. I miss that. Last year we were doing the basketball book so August was just a bleary eyed gauntlet, and the year before the season started in Jerryworld. This year I already know that excitement will be damped down by a month's worth of reliving The Horror.

Baseball's version of that is pitchers & catchers reporting. Mack Avenue Kurt:

Pitchers and catchers reporting isn't so much an event, or even a day on the calendar, as it is a metaphor: It is the day that winter's back begins to break; a promise that day follows night.

Rk Sport Revenue
1 Football $81,475,191
2 M Basketball $14,799,440
3 Ice Hockey $3,248,026
4 Lacrosse $2,378,900
5 W Basketball $440,353
6 Baseball $312,388
7 Softball $300,721
8 Volleyball $151,635
9 W All Track Combined $141,452
10 W Gymnastics $100,723

You can't dampen pitchers and catchers day, not when Omar Infante is the rookie you're praying will lead the offense, not you're seeing his back plus Prince Fielder's and your 4th best pitcher's because the expense of being so awesome has passed what awesome can net.

Sorry, this is supposed to be about Michigan not the Tigers. Ah but it is, for it's a lead-in to Raoul's comprehensive preview of Michigan's baseball team. It's still tough for a northern team to be more than a good mid-major in this sport, but Bakich seems to have Michigan heading in that direction.

When baseball is really good (e.g. their 2006 run) they're the fourth sport in these parts. Are they Michigan's true #4 sport? There was a interesting thread this week where the question of that sport's identity was posed by Wolverine Devotee. To that discussion I added the list at right from Michigan's Title IX reporting. Some of those teams (like lacrosse) are benefiting more from ticket sales/TV revenue generated by opponents' fans. I tried to compare where each stands among other universities, but many schools lie their asses off in those reports regarding women's sports revenues, for example West Virginia says their W Track & Field team takes in what Michigan's hockey team does. My guess is this gets them around a Title IX provision but I don't know which. Either way it makes the stats useless.

As for Michigan's fourth sport, I still think it's softball.

My bloody valentine. Sunday there will be a whole bunch of recruits who don't have drivers licenses yet watching the Wisconsin game at Crisler. Next week there will be a large and star-heavy group of those who can drive, and who can also say things like "I'm committing to Michigan," say, for example, if they were suddenly taken by a wave of euphoria that might accompany an effective conference title clinch over a rival. This is not crazy; it has happened before. Go make our football team good, basketball.

FWIW HopeInHoke's diary shows winning the conference from here is possible, but nowhere near a certainty. MSU's only road loss in-conference is to Wisconsin; remember when that was a thing we used to just chalk up to "happens to everyone"? LSA's weekly stats report shows Michigan's superior to an average of remaining opponents in everything but rebounding.

[After the jump: things Marcus Ray et al. say about Michigan's 2014 secondary]

This Week's Obsession: Filling Shoes

This Week's Obsession: Filling Shoes

Submitted by Seth on December 4th, 2013 at 5:48 PM

BLF_2284

[Fuller]

In HTTV last year we made a strange assertion: that given the relative drop-off to their replacements, Kovacs would probably be missed more than Denard Robinson. I thought I'd pose the question now concerning this year's seniors, except there's one guy who could have gone 1st overall in the NFL draft LAST YEAR, and he's being replaced by either a member of the worst interior offensive line in Michigan memory or a guy who couldn't beat out one of those guys for playing time.

1V - LEAD and DOMINATE THE FIRST PAGE- Upchurch -8646512992_e3c0ba6d0a_o
Actually, #2 Taylor Lewan's twosie and #3 Taylor Lewan's pet pig are also out of the running. [Upchurch]

So, OTHER than that guy,

Which senior will Michigan miss most next season?

Ace: I'll leave a couple very strong candidates aside—namely, Jeremy Gallon and Thomas Gordon—and go to the other bookend of the offensive line, Michael Schofield. Michigan already needs to get much (much) better play out of the interior of the line next year, not to mention a major step up in blocking from the backs and tight ends. Losing not just one, but two NFL-quality tackles means the Wolverines once again head into a new season with major uncertainty up front.

I expect the interior line to be better, especially since some of the true freshmen who weren't viable options this season—especially Patrick Kugler and David Dawson—should at least be ready to compete for a spot on the two-deep. Losing Schofield along with Lewan, however, means that there's almost no margin for error with the new tackles; Michigan needs to find two decent starters out of Ben Braden, Erik Magnuson, and... that's about it.

I guess Dawson could play right tackle, as could Kyle Kalis, but both are more natural fits inside. Chris Fox, coming off a major knee injury that delayed his freshman progress, and Logan Tuley-Tillman, a raw-upside prospect with a heavy emphasis on raw, probably won't be ready to step in and be very effective.

Losing Lewan hurts the most, of course; that's compounded by the absence of Schofield—who really came into his own this year—leaving Michigan with, at best, four relatively unproven players competing for two open tackle spots while the interior of the line is still very much a question mark.

[After the jump: Pining for (Scho)fields]

Mailbag: We Should Have Been Screwed, Funk Position Paper

Mailbag: We Should Have Been Screwed, Funk Position Paper

Submitted by Brian on November 19th, 2013 at 11:28 AM

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"I hope we're all up on the latest changes to the NCAA rule book." [Fuller]

Wait, substitution. Wait. Wait, what?

Yo Brian,

So when the bearded lady rushed into the center ring to launch the football out of the cannon through the flaming uprights at the end of the Evanston Circus, Michigan obviously made a substitution.  Northwestern did not make a substitution, but they, according to the Rules, could have.  If they did, it seems like that would have taken more time before the official gave the ready for play, and potentially wasted enough time to run the clock out.  In this parallel universe game which is crazier than the actual circus which unfolded, does Michigan get to attempt the field goal? How are the rules applied in that situation (which thankfully did not happen)?

Eddie

UPDATE: NEVERMIND the below, as I missed this section in the rulebook:

Late in the first half Team A is out of timeouts. A pass play on third down ends inbounds at the B-25 short of the line to gain with the game clock showing 0:10. Facing fourth down and three, Team A immediately hurries its field goal team onto the field. RULING: Team B should reasonably expect that Team A will attempt a field goal in this situationand should have its field-goal defense unit ready. The umpire will not stand over the ball, as there should be no issue of the defense being uncertain about the next play.

Thanks to Maize and Blue Wahoo. I will self-immolate now like a Northwestern fan observing his team playing football.

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We should have been screwed. The NCAA rulebook has a specific mention of this very scenario:

Late in the first half Team A is out of timeouts. A pass play on third down ends inbounds at the B-25 short of the line to gain with the game clock showing 0:30. Facing fourth down and three, Team A gives no indication as to its next play until the game clock reads 0:10. They then rush their field goal unit onto the field, and Team B then hurries to respond.

RULING: The umpire moves to the ball to prevent the snap until Team B has had a reasonable opportunity to get its field-goal defense unit onto the field. The umpire will step away when he judges that the defense has had enough time. If the game clock reads 0:00 before the ball is snapped after the umpire steps away, the half is over.

That is in blue along with various other new rules (like "minimum time for spiking the ball") this year, so it must have just been added. If Fitz tried to substitute, the rulebook says that the refs have to let him and the clock would then run out.

This is of course terrible since it prevents the sort of exciting thing that happened against Northwestern and replaces it with the clock running out because the defense can't get aligned in time and should be immediately stricken in the name of fun… except maybe it doesn't exist?

Game ref Bill LeMonnier:

“When a team is coming out and it’s the last play of the game and they substitute with their field-goal team, the defense is not given the opportunity,” referee Bill LeMonnier said. “Usually there’s match-up time on substitutions. When it’s the field-goal attempt like that on the last play of the half, then there’s no match-up given.”

This is in direct contradiction of the rulebook. So… yeah. I don't know. The only thing that may reconcile these two points of view is the rulebook stating that the team getting the FG unit out there spent 20 seconds doing nothing, whereas Michigan was clearly going GO GO GO as soon as Gallon was tackled.

Spiritually, if you can't get your FG block team on the field in that situation and the other team can get the play off, screw your field goal block team. Fire drills forever.

[After THE JUMP: talking Funk, safety rotation, and the latest bizarre email.]

karschdeath[1]

GIS throws this at you when you google for Darrell Funk, so congrats Firstbase

This Week's Obsession: What's the Matter With Kids Today?

This Week's Obsession: What's the Matter With Kids Today?

Submitted by Seth on October 30th, 2013 at 10:45 AM

kids

Watch the birdie.

In my day freshmen appeared on the scene knocking down Bobby Hoying passes, shutting down Terry Glenn, and cleaving Eddie George. Then they'd switch to offense and fold Mike Vrabel in twain. What's the matter with kids today? The cast today:

  • Ann-Margret as Brian Cook
  • Dick Van Dyke as Seth Fisher
  • Bobby Rydell as Ace Anbender
  • Jesse Pearson as Brandon "Birdie" Brown

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Of the young linebackers, we've seen a lot of Bolden but not much from him. [Upchurch]

The Q:

It's an expectation (or a conceit) at Michigan that recruits follow a "track" of progression that should see them all-conference and worth drafting after four years in the program. Of the 2012 class and the few '13 guys who've seen action, who do you see as ahead of schedule, or worryingly behind?

Ace: I'm not even going to bother with the 2013 class because it's beyond too early to discuss their progression versus expectations; frankly, that's the case for the 2012 class as well, but they at least have a handful of guys who have broken through and seen extensive time.

Three players who are clearly ahead of schedule are Devin Funchess, James Ross, and Willie Henry. Funchess has gone from dangerous-but-terrible-at-blocking tight end to dangerous-and-oh-god-so-dangerous wide receiver, and he's got an NFL future even if his blocking never develops as much as we'd hope. Ross has had an up-and-down year but still has a stranglehold on the weakside LB starting job; he's a future all-conference player once he adds a little more weight to take on blocks—his instincts are already there. Henry's initial expectations weren't as high as the other two, nor has he played at their level consistently, but he's easily exceeded expectations for a late three-star pickup just by seeing the field and holding his own.

[Jump like a Funchess]

Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-22-13: Greg Mattison

Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-22-13: Greg Mattison

Submitted by Heiko on October 23rd, 2013 at 1:47 PM

Opening remarks:

“Obviously we’re not – I’m not – happy with the amount of points given up. The big plays, that’s not our defense. We’ve got some things we’ve got to get corrected. A lot of that is on me. That’s – any time something like that happens, you have to look at yourself, you have to look at the game plan, you have to look at what you had in. I think there are some things we could have done different. But we’ll get it corrected.”

Brady said guys were in position but didn’t execute. How much of it was scheme, and how much of it was execution?

“That’s always the case, but your job as a coordinator is you get guys in the right positions and they make plays. Either we haven’t practiced them enough – obviously that offense, the thing I was proud of and we made a really big deal of not getting our defense all out of whack because of the speed of it, and the speed of it was unbelievable. You had to be there to feel that.

"Throughout the game, if you watched and you saw, our guys were lined up and our guys knew where to be. You see other people play that and they’re running all over trying to get set and it looks like a circus sometimes. One of the touchdowns, the first one, the corner didn’t get the call. That’s what we stressed all week that that’s why they run that offense. To get just one guy to not get the call or to be sure of the call and they take advantage of it. That was one of them. Another one of the big plays, we’re right in position again, and it’s an interception, it’s no question it’s an interception, it turns into a touchdown. That I blame myself for. We have to work harder running to the football. We should have had five more guys around the football. We’ll get that corrected. There’s going to be plays like that that are going to happen. That’s where a Michigan defense runs to the football and stops it for a gain and you have another chance to play.

"For the most part I thought our kids, they hung in there. I think what they did at the end of that game shows that they believed. I mean, you’ve all been around teams before that folded in that kind of situation, but they didn’t. Thank goodness for the offense, which you knew was going to be your advantage against their defense -- our offense did a tremendous job of bailing us out, and that’s what happened.”