Michigan All-Extracurriculars Team

Michigan All-Extracurriculars Team

Submitted by Seth on June 4th, 2018 at 11:22 AM
Hi it's a Norfleet. [Bryan Fuller]

[Site notice: It happened.]

You know those “make your all-time” lists that circulate in the offseason. That inspired me to make some themed versions, sort of like how Ace made his all-Beilein teams last year. Previously: The 5-stars. This week: Extracurricular Entertainment!

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Rule: This team is for those who made their contributions off the field. I don’t mean being a quiet model citizen; I mean doing things that we found entertaining, insane, or otherwise meme-worthy.

Cutoff Point: Had to exist in the Michigan consciousness during the Time of Blog (2005-present)

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Quarterback: David Cone

Please still exist please still exist please still exist DAMMIT.

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Why you gotta use MySpace, Notorious C.O.N.E.? Since stone age social media no longer hosts, former WR Toney Clemons filmed roommate/former QB David Cone in their apartment laying some sick rhymes (free mgoshirt to whoever can track down a copy of the album for us).

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Mr. Dave

Fortunately MVictors still has the audio, if the vid is gone for all time. But that video was so good.

Honorable Mention: Denard. How do you separate Brian’s kid’s name, Shoelace, the smile, Whaaaaat?!?, the cover of the last NCAA edition for a decade, and a crumpled up mailbox from the actual dilithium? You can’t, and the purpose of this list is to honor the Coners because these lists otherwise exist just for an excuse to put Denard at QB when you wouldn’t otherwise.

[after THE JUMP: bang bang]

Outback Bowl Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Outback Bowl Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on January 2nd, 2018 at 9:00 AM

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[Upchurch]

“I'd like to thank the Outback Bowl. [Ed. A—And I’d like to thank David Nasternak for being our guy on the ground in Tampa and getting audio of the presser] Great experience. Congratulations to South Carolina on their victory.”

Did you feel it slipping away at any time, or did they get better as the game went along?

“I think they did get better. I think probably a little bit of both those things. They got better as the game went on, no doubt, and made plays to win the football game, and we didn't get the knockout punch when we needed it. We didn't take advantage of the opportunities that were there.”

Can you put your finger on why the defense was having a dominant performance and then it all changed? What did you see in terms of why it changed?

“Yeah, they made a really good throw, really good catch on the touchdown. Made another spectacular throw and catch on the second touchdown pass. Yeah, they executed well, really well, and then our errors, starting with the—really starting with the fumble by Sean McKeon, which was not Sean McKeon’s fault, that was our fault. That was a coaching error. We had the wrong personnel in there, and I should have called time out. And then the other miscues we had.”

Pat Kugler, was he banged up a little bit? Is that why you took him out of the game?

“Yeah, Pat had gotten rolled up on his ankle and gave it a go and was doing fine, but just felt like it was too much to overcome.”

When did you know about that Ben [Bredeson] wasn’t going to be able to play?

“About three weeks ago.”

[After THE JUMP: sifting through what went wrong in search of answers, shooting down NFL rumors (again), evaluating QB play and what it means for 2018]

Monday Presser 10-2-17: Players

Monday Presser 10-2-17: Players

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 3rd, 2017 at 8:01 AM

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[Barron]

Khalid Hill

When did the team find out that John’s going to be starting this week?

“I mean, kind of just the way he performed last game and just waiting for Wilt to get back healthy. John performed at a level where that gives you confidence when your quarterback comes and performs, especially a second-string guy, the way he did. It gives you confidence. John’s going to hopefully do the same thing this week. I know he’s preparing to have the best game of his life.”

Does anything change with him under center, not going into specifics?

“No, not really. I think they both bring great stuff to the table. They’re similar quarterbacks. I think you can expect the same or expect better. I think he’s going to do just fine.”

As one of the team’s leaders, what do you tell the younger kids that have only played in this game once or never before?

“Just don’t get caught up in the bull. It’s a rivalry game so there’s a lot of trash talking gonna happen. A lot of stuff after the play’s gonna happen—I’m sure it will—but we’ve got to be mature and understand that, okay, somebody’s sitting on you, let it happen. Let them get the penalty, not you, so that’s one thing we kind of emphasize as leaders is if something happens and you don’t like it, coach Harbaugh always says you grab ‘em and just grab ‘em. Keep it there.”

[After THE JUMP: Lavert Hill, Mike McCray, and Mo Hurst]

Upon Further Review 2017: Offense vs Purdue

Upon Further Review 2017: Offense vs Purdue

Submitted by Brian on October 2nd, 2017 at 12:47 PM

2017 logoo_thumbSPONSOR NOTES. You know one thing I appreciate about HomeSure Lending is that Matt is not a song designed to draw the attention of a child, and has never gotten stuck in my head for days on end, relating banal facts about the world around me. This may be happening to my brain right now, and is not a very good advertisement.

If you'd like to think about something other than washing your hands for once in your life you could call Matt and get some quotes for a home loan. The problem with this strategy is that Matt will get you your quotes so quickly that your respite will be brief. But then you can talk to him about football, which helps.

FORMATION NOTES. Nothing particularly unusual except for one tackle over play that was a waggle pass to Poggi. Purdue alternated between a 3-4 and 4-3 front but was also not weird in any significant way.

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SUBSTITUTION NOTES. OL was standard save for a healthy number of Runyan snaps at right guard; after the game Harbaugh said those were more about Onwenu's endurance than his performance. Speight got the first three drives and was knocked out before the fourth, whereupon O'Korn came in. Brandon Peters got the final, uncharted drive.

Isaac was limited with a ding sustained late in the Air Force game, so Higdon got a plurality of the work until his fumble. Evans got most of the carries after that. Kareem Walker saw his first live action late. Fullbacks were the usual rotation between the seniors with one snap for Mason.

With Black out it was Nate Schoenle and Grant Perry who got most of the additional snaps. Perry played both inside and out in this game; DPJ got his fair share but didn't get targeted as much as many folks want. Crawford was still the most-heavily deployed WR. TE saw McKeon and Gentry get almost all of the targets and a clear edge in snaps. For Ty Wheatley that means he's playing with a cast on his hand; for Ian Bunting that is bad news. Eubanks got scattered snaps as well.

[After THE JUMP: my kingdom for an offensive line.]

Beet-Red And Nude

Beet-Red And Nude

Submitted by Brian on September 18th, 2017 at 12:35 PM

9/16/2017 – Michigan 29, Air Force 13 – 3-0

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also this happened [Eric Upchurch]

I have ceased being a person who gets seriously exercised about the shortcomings, real or imagined, of Michigan's coaching staff. I will get my grouse on when it's fourth and a half yard and Michigan punts, because if I tried to hold that in I would literally die. There's some stuff later in this post about giving the ball to the Hammering Panda on short yardage and how it's dumb and stupid not to. There will always be niggling details that grate.

But I'm not going to freak out because Michigan's offense is struggling. If my mentions, or Ace's, or poor damn Nick Baumgardner's are any indication the Air Force game was HONEYMOON OVER for a healthy section of Michigan's fanbase. No doubt Sam and Ira have just completed four hours of radio where 75% of the callers were spittle-flecked, nude, and beet-red, proclaiming manifestoes about the personal embarrassment they were caused when Michigan could not score an offensive touchdown in the first 59 minutes of a game against a Mountain West team.

And... eh. I mean, nobody sane could disagree with propositions up to and including "this offense is butt and probably going to cost Michigan any chance of silverware." I wish the offense was not butt, too. In previous years I might be nude and beet-red, writing a manifesto about how I suffered personal embarrassment when Fitz Toussaint ran 27 times for 27 yards.

I am not. I'm going to see how this works out.

I'd like to think this is because I am so good at looking at football that I know that Michigan's problems under Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke were clear, severe, and systemic coaching issues while Harbaugh's are not. To some extent this is probably true: Harbaugh has not switched his base defense midseason in a panic (twice!), or decided that "tackle over" was an offense instead of a gimmick, or continued inserting a quarterback without an ulnar nerve in the second half of an Ohio State game. The worst tactical issue he's had so far was the increasingly disappointing Pepcat package last year, which is a speeding ticket compared to the grand felonies perpetrated by Michigan's last two coaching staffs. Check that: three coaching staffs.

But I'm also extrapolating based on track record. There is an element of faith that Harbaugh engenders, because... uh... I mean, obviously? If you need numbers, here's Stanford, with Harbaugh in bold:

Team Year Record FEI S&P YPC YPA YPP
Stanford 2006 1-11 N/A 113 2.1 (118th) 6.3 N/A
Stanford 2007 4-8 61 83 3.0 (113th) 6 N/A
Stanford 2008 5-7 48 31 4.9 (20th) 6.4 (82nd) 59
Stanford 2009 8-5 1 6 5.2 (7th) 8.7 (7th) 9
Stanford 2010 12-1 5 3 5.2 (16th) 8.9 (10th) 13
Stanford 2011 11-2 6 8 5.3 (13th) 8.7 (7th) 6

Harbaugh embarked on a similar project at San Francisco. The 49ers were 25th in Football Outsider's DVOA fancystat the year before his arrival. They improved to 18th in year one and then had consecutive top ten years (fifth and eighth) before a dropoff in Harbaugh's final season under Jed York. That last season is the only one in Harbaugh's pre-Michigan coaching career where the offense isn't either taking a significant step forward or an elite or near-elite unit, and it's saddled with a bunch of confounding factors. (SF got hit with a blizzard of injuries that year, oh and the owner was trying to force out a guy who'd gone to three consecutive NFC Championship games because reasons.)

At Michigan he immediately took the dead thing that was the Brady Hoke offense and made it okay, leaping from 89th to 38th in S&P+. Last year plateaued largely because the starting QB inexplicably went in the tank in Iowa and then did something nasty to his shoulder.

If the late slide a year ago and early sputters from a team that lost seven starters is enough to overthrow Harbaugh's long career of mostly great offenses in your mind, please go away. Yes, there are problems. No, this isn't Lloyd Carr turning Tom Brady, David Terrell, Anthony Thomas, and four long-term NFL starters into the 60th-best offense in the country. Bitching about Harbaugh's offense makes no sense after two years of inventive game plans, plays I have to invent terms for after a decade of doing this, and mostly solid results despite Brady Hoke's abominable late offensive recruiting*.

This feels bad man. But put your damn clothes on and stick to not sports.

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*[Deep breaths. Ready?

The only offensive recruit to even make it to year five from the 2013 class are Patrick Kugler and the fullbacks. De'Veon Smith and Jake Butt were productive and graduated. Da'Mario Jones, Csont'e York, Jaron Dukes, Dan Samuelson, Wyatt Shallman, Chris Fox, David Dawson, Kyle Bosch, Shane Morris, and Derrick Green all burned out without making any impact.

Hoke's miserable 2014 class has Speight, the starting QB, Mason Cole, Ian Bunting, and nobody else even contributing. Moe Ways, Juwann Bushell-Beatty, Freddy Canteen, Drake Harris are all gone or benched.

And literally the only offensive recruits Hoke left Harbaugh in the transition class were Alex Malzone, John Runyan Jr, and Grant Newsome. That is three recruiting years producing four starters.]

[After THE JUMP: but hey the defense though]

Monday Presser 9-11-17: Players

Monday Presser 9-11-17: Players

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 12th, 2017 at 8:05 AM

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[Upchurch]

They didn’t have players take the podium today, so I took a little bit of audio from the different scrums around the Towsley Museum and transcribed it. If you’re wondering why other sites might have certain quotes not seen here or vice versa, keep in mind that I have one recorder and one me to gather audio.

Maurice Hurst

Will you guys be required to wear knee braces this week?

“I don’t know. That’s a great question. I’m not sure. That’s probably a better question for coach Harbaugh.”

He doesn’t like our questions.

“He’s dead inside.”

Burnt wood.

“Burnt wood.”

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In Rome Chase [Winovich] said you guys had already been practicing so much for Air Force you know their offense better than they do. Do you feel confident at this stage?

“I wouldn’t say all that, but—”

That was Chase.

“Yeah, I know. I’ve talked about a Chase ban from media. Yeah, I think we have prepared a lot in spring and we used some of those practices to get ready for what we’re going to face this week so it’s not a complete shock to us, and I think we’ll have our scout team ready to give us the look that we need that they’ve been practicing and have done before, so I think that’s all kind of what helps you understand the offense better.”

[More Hurst plus Khalid Hill and Patrick Kugler after THE JUMP]

Preview 2017: Tight End And Friends

Preview 2017: Tight End And Friends

Submitted by Brian on August 29th, 2017 at 1:58 PM

Previously: Podcast 9.0A. Podcast 9.0B. Podcast 9.0C. The Story. Quarterback. Running Back. Wide Receiver.

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assembly line, er, assemble [Eric Upchurch]

Depth Chart


Fullback Yr. H-back Yr. Tight End Yr. Flex Yr.
Khalid Hill Sr.* Khalid Hill Sr.* Ian Bunting Jr.* Zach Gentry So.*
Henry Poggi Sr.* Nick Eubanks Fr.* Tyrone Wheatley Jr So.* Nick Eubanks Fr.*
Ben Mason Fr. Ben Mason Fr. Sean McKeon Fr.* Ian Bunting Jr.*

Jake Butt's gone. In his place are tight end Constructicons.

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If you throw Khalid Hill in—he can be "Bonecrusher"—Michigan has a variety six-pack of tight end sorts, all of whom have a shot at the field. When insiders bring the tight ends up it's usually as a group. 247: "have a solid core of 5-6 guys that can play at any time." And so forth and so on. Chances are a subset emerges, but maybe they'll all have slightly different uses. Maybe they'll combine into the living manifestation of Tacopants.

But probably a subset.

ANNUAL EXPLANATION OF THE FINE GRADATIONS OF BLOCKY/CATCHY

A few years ago we split tight ends from the WR post and fullbacks from the RB post, figuring that under Brady Hoke there would be enough of them to warrant it. We even split guys into various categories because a tight end is not just a tight end. Then Jim Harbaugh came in. After an internal struggle this site has decided not to split each one of these columns into its own post, but it was a near thing. Those columns are:

  • FULLBACK: a man with a steel plated head who runs into linebackers, gets two 50 carries in his career, and has six catches. See: Kevin Dudley, Sione Houma.
  • H-BACK: A "move" tight end who motions all about, rarely lines up on the actual line of scrimmage, often goes from fullback to a flared spot or vice versa, and operates as more of a receiver than the fullback. Must be a credible threat to LBs; ends career with 40 catches. See: Aaron Shea, Khalid Hill.
  • TIGHT END: Larger than the H-back, the tight end is a tight end who is actually tight to the end of the line. He comes out, lines up next to a tackle, helps him win blocks, and clobberates linebackers at the second level. He goes out into patterns as well, and may end his career with 40 catches himself. See: AJ Williams, Jerame Tuman.
  • FLEX: Big enough to play on the end of the line credibly. Agile enough to play H-back credibly. Not great at either. Capable of splitting out wide and threatening the secondary. Sacrifices some blocking for explosiveness. Can be a prime receiving threat. See: Jake Butt.

And of course many of these people bleed into other categories. Think of these position designations as Gaussian distributions in close proximity to each other.

TIGHT END AND FLEX: GET ON UP

RATING: 3.5

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[Bryan Fuller]

IAN "Ol' Skillet Hands" BUNTING [recruiting profile] was stuck behind Jake Butt for years. Once Butt went down with an ACL tear in the bowl game he wasted no time demonstrating he was Also Jake Butt:

He followed that up with a very very bad attempt at a pass block, further confirming our comparisons. Bad pass blocking was something of a theme for Bunting, whether it was the above or getting run over by Malik McDowell. "Why leave that guy in to block?" is a valid question, and the answer was usually "because Jake Butt is in a pattern." Now he's the Butt, as it were, and pass blocking instances will be measured in the low single digits per game. Butt was under 3, for what it's worth.

Bunting's receiving chops are currently the very definition of small sample size. While he's still perfect in the UFR receiving charts it's on extremely limited opportunities. He's 12/12 with one non-routine catch, that embedded above. He had two catches for six yards on the season before the bowl game. The semi-breakout several predicted did not happen. Jay Harbaugh at last year's media day:

“He’s going to be a star. He’s going to be a very great player. He’s going to help our team a lot cause he is a tight end that can do both jobs. He can run, catch, block and he has the size... Maybe 6-foot-6 or 6-foot-7, 250 or 250-plus, and he works hard and he’s a smart football player. He has everything you need to do to be successful.”

Bunting was named Michigan's #2 TE there and then; he proceeded to accumulate fewer snaps than not only Butt but (sigh) Devin Asiasi and Tyrone Wheatley Jr. If that's because both those guys are inline sorts and Bunting is a flex, fine. The bowl game snaps certainly suggest that Bunting was blocked, not untalented. Bunting's near-total lack of targets does give some pause.

[After THE JUMP: i could have called them dinobots but sledge is so dumb]

The Top 81-90 Returning Players in the Big Ten

The Top 81-90 Returning Players in the Big Ten

Submitted by Seth on August 23rd, 2017 at 12:31 PM

is what someone says when they’re too polite to admit that they’re writing another

Draftageddon 2017: ASK FOR THE PANDA YOU GET THE PANDA Edition

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This is Part IX (the penultimate of this year). We are drafting Big Ten players to give you an overview of the guys and dudes around the conference, and to learn them ourselves. You’re along for the ride, and if you want to get off we use the same lead image every time so you can do that.

THAT WHICH HAS ALREADY OCCURRED

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click to read

BiSB is on the clock and has no outside receivers, so he’ll take another slot.

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BiSB: ROUND 21, PICK 1: KJ Hill, WR (OSU)

Off: QB Brandon Peters (UM), QB Clayton Thorson (NW), RB Saquon Barkley (PSU), RB Ty Johnson (MD), WR DJ Moore (MD), WR K.J. Hill (OSU), TE/WR Mike Gesicki (PSU), G/C Billy Price (OSU); G/T Beau Benzschawel (UW), G/T Ryan Bates (PSU), G/T Ben Bredeson (UM)

Def: NT Bryan Mone (UM); DT Conor Sheehy (UW), DE Tyquan Lewis (OSU), DE Chase Winovich (UM), LB Tegray Scales (IU), LB Jason Cabinda (PSU) CB Rashard Fant (IU), CB Derrick Tindal (UW), S Godwin Igwebuike (NW), S D’Cota Dixon (UW)

I'm hitching my wagon to [OSU’s nepotismo WRs coach] Zach Smith. I may have gone mad.

Last year was the first year under Urban Meyer that Ohio State hasn't had at least a relatively reliable and productive traditional receiver; Curtis Samuel had over 900 yards, but no one else had more than Noah Brown's 402. Brown is gone, leaving K.J. Hill as the leading returning wide receiver (not counting TE Marcus Baugh). Hill's small-sample numbers were good; his 10.9 yards per target led the team, as did his 75% success rate. Bill Connelly had him as the 5th best freshman wide receiver in the country.

It's a bit of a crapshoot, as there are a number of talented wide receivers waiting in the wings in Columbus, including Austin Mack, Binjimen Victor, and Terry McLaurin. But Hill is a versatile guy who can play outside, in the slot, or at H-back, and he's the most productive guy they've got. Odds are he'll get enough touches to make it worth my while. And if we subscribe to Brian's "Freshman Receivers Suck" theory, Hill is primed for a breakout sophomore campaign.

On the other hand... Zach Smith.

[AFTER THE JUMP: A shutdown fullcast about draftageddon then 11 more picks, then people bitching about draftageddon in the comments. At least this one is guaranteed to get you excited about Michigan football]

First Look: 2017 Offense

First Look: 2017 Offense

Submitted by Brian on January 12th, 2017 at 1:21 PM

DEPARTURES IN ORDER OF SIGNIFICANCE.

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[Bryan Fuller]

  1. TE Jake Butt. Mackey win might have been a career award but it was warranted in that context. Sure handed, huge catching radius threat. Blocking indifferent. Butt will be missed by more than last name aficionados. 69% catch rate is nuts. He's off to the second round of the draft unless people are spooked by a bowl-game ACL tear.
  2. WR Amara Darboh. Delivered on Jim Harbaugh's assertions that he was Michigan's best receiver with an All Big Ten year. Still left you wanting a bit more, though, as he had multiple opportunities to bail Wilton Speight out of iffy throws and took few of them during Michigan's unfortunate finish.
  3. RT Erik Magnuson. Quiet, steady performer at tackle. Was never a star and I'm a little dubious of people projecting him on day two in the draft, but if Michigan had five Erik Magnusons the year ends very differently. Alas.
  4. WR Jehu Chesson. Never recaptured his stellar late 2015 form as a senior. Still moderately productive, but only that. Speed did not translate into downfield production, or even many targets. Those went to Darboh, with iffy success.
  5. RB De'Veon Smith. Workhorse back had solid season. Detractors will point to middling YPC (4.7) relative to the rest of the platoon; this is unfair since Smith got all the short yardage work and was often making yards on his own just to get to that number. Pass protection dipped in senior year.
  6. LT Ben Braden. Pressed into service at left tackle after Grant Newsome's injury, where he was neither as bad as expected nor actually good. Reduced his tendency to lean on guys as his career went on but never fully excised that from his game. Draft chatter minimal, understandably.
  7. RG Kyle Kalis. Promising start to senior season submarined by a recurrence of mental errors and then just straight up getting crushed by top-level interior pass rushers. Extravagantly whipped by Jaleel Johnson, Nick Bosa, and DeMarcus Walker in Michigan's losses. I will never say "it can't get worse" in reference to a Michigan offensive line again, but Kalis seems eminently replaceable.
  8. RB/QB Jabrill Peppers. Offensive output was minimal after wildcat QB business was diagnosed. Effective decoy mostly.
  9. QB Shane Morris. Never found playing time and is taking a grad transfer.
  10. OL David Dawson. Announced a grad transfer even before spring practice, further emphasizing how thin Michigan was on the OL this year: either he or the coaches didn't think he had any shot at a job this fall.

WHAT'S LEFT

 

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[Fuller]

  1. OL Mason Cole. Move to center went relatively well, though I was less into him than PFF was. Had difficulty moving large nose tackle types and didn't get to do much operating in space, oddly. Pass protection was very good once he was removed from edge types, and I might be expecting to much. He had an NFL decision to make at a spot that usually doesn't see a ton of guys go.
  2. QB Wilton Speight. Debut season was solid statistically: 7.7 YPA, 62% completions, 18-7 TD-INT, third in the Big Ten in passer rating, 29th passing O in S&P+. Michigan's sack rate allowed was pretty good (27th) largely because of Speight's excellent pocket presence. Late wobbles leave the door open a crack for Brandon Peters.
  3. The rest of the running back platoon. Chris Evans will headline after the bowl game touchdown; Ty Isaac and Karan Higdon also had their moments. Evans is a jittery speedster who promises to hit the home runs Smith could not. Higdon will probably pick up most of the mooseback work since he's a low-to-the-ground guy who runs behinds his pads, as they say. Isaac's never had it click, really, but played well in relatively limited opportunities last year.
  4. OL Ben Bredeson. Flat out bad most of the year, because he was a true freshman. Should get a lot better, whether it's at guard or tackle. Honestly we should just forget about this season entirely when it comes to projecting him down the road.
  5. FBs Henry Poggi and Khalid Hill. FB duo was quite a dichotomy. Hill led the team in touchdowns and paved various players on spectacular edge two-for-one blocks while catching 89% of the balls that came his way. Poggi was not the threat as a receiver or runner and was substantially below average as a blocker. Despite this the two FBs split time about down the middle.
  6. Kaiju. Devin Asiasi and Tyrone Wheatley Jr were mostly blockers. Both were up and down, as freshmen tend to be, flashing A+ power while occasionally falling off dudes. They were not targeted often but made the most of their opportunities. With Butt's absence Michigan will rely more heavily on both; the potential for a Leap from one or both entices.
  7. TE Ian Bunting. Looked like Butt 2.0 on a slick seam catch in the bowl game, and also looked like Butt 2.0 when he gave up a comically easy sack a few plays later. Previous bullet makes his role in the offense somewhat in question
  8. (Probably) WR Grant Perry. Legal troubles probably get pled down to misdemeanors and allow him to stay on the team. Slippery slot receiver will have a role if still around.
  9. RB Drake Johnson. Star-crossed running back lost last season to a forklift accident and will apply for a sixth year. Fast straight-line runner who will find a role.
  10. OL Juwann Bushell-Beatty. Temporarily the LT after Newsome left. Displaced after struggling mightily.

WHAT'S NEW, OR CLOSE ENOUGH, ANYWAY

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Bredeson is a returning starter, sort of[Fuller]

 

Basically the whole offensive line. For purposes of this bullet we're pretending freshman Ben Bredeson and not freshman Ben Bredeson are different people, because we need that to be the case. Michigan needs to replace three starters and get a transformation from the aforementioned; this is a lot of turnover. Mike Onwenu is penciled in at right guard and unlikely to be dislodged by anything short of a supernova; Bredeson will start somewhere. Cole exists. The other two spots are anyone's guess.

Ditto the receivers. Michigan got some good blocking, one bad drop, and one badass catch from Kekoa Crawford this year; Eddie McDoom took a bunch of jet sweeps and had one nice slant catch; Drake Harris was targeted deep several times, all of those incompletions except for one sweet catch invalidated by an unnecessary offensive pass interference call. That is the sum total of returning experience for the WR corps.

Tight ends in a post-Butt world. Ton of potential at the spot; probably fine; need to see that potential develop.

WHAT'S ROD STEWART 1977

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[Fuller]

Probably Wilton Speight. Speight's 2016 did not have the clear takeoff narrative that Jake Rudock did. He was great for a couple games early, then bad, then indifferent, then awesome after the bye week until he turned into a pumpkin a third of the way through Iowa. He was terrific against Ohio State despite an injury that seemed to prevent him from throwing it downfield whatsoever... except for two turnovers 100% on him that lost the game. He gets an incomplete for the Orange Bowl since every time he dropped back he was beset by hounds instantly.

It would be much easier to draw an upward arrow if he'd packed the bad stuff in early and then got a lot better; unfortunately that is not the case. I'm still a Speight optimist for three reasons:

  1. Harbaugh. This should be self-explanatory but if you need a refresher here's the QB season preview.
  2. Speight seems to have the hardest thing down: pocket presence. His ability to turn garbage into first downs is exceptional for a guy his size.
  3. His good periods came after an opportunity to take a breather and focus on the things Harbaugh was coaching him to do. Speight was hot at the beginning of the season, after the bye, and after he missed the Indiana game. As we go along here he should be more that guy than the one who forgot and reverted to high school/Borges stuff when the heat got turned up.

Also, redshirt sophomores generally get better. It's not a big step from where he's currently at to an All Big Ten type season.

The three to five horsemen. I really like Chris Evans and Karan Higdon, and with Johnson, Isaac, Kareem Walker, and O'Maury Samuels also available this looks set to be a very deep and good running back crew. It may lack the out and out star that Najee Harris would have provided; I'm not stressing about the ballcarriers not getting what they should. All three returners graded significantly positively on PFF (relative to workload).

Blocky/catchy blocking. If one or both Kaiju takes a Williams-esque step forward and Hill gets most of the fullback work, Michigan's ability to generate yards off tackle will take a big step forward. Butt was an excellent player overall; he was average-at-best as a blocker.

WHAT'S ROD STEWART 2017

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Newsome's injury recover is critical [Bill Rapai]

Tackle. Hoke's OL recruiting was, in a word, disastrous. Michigan enters 2017 with exactly one Hoke-recruited OT: Bushell-Beatty. That means Michigan will have to do two of the following:

  • Get Grant Newsome back from a terrifying injury that kept him in the hospital for over a month. (FWIW, there's been some chatter that Newsome's injury doesn't have an unusually lengthy prognosis despite the hospital stay.)
  • Move Mason Cole back to the tackle spot he couldn't pass protect at.
  • Move Ben Bredeson out to tackle, where he might have the same issues Cole does.
  • Start Bushell-Beatty, who got beat up by Rutgers last year.
  • Start Nolan Ulizio, a low-rated redshirt sophomore.
  • Start a true freshman.

Two of those options might work out really well. But probably not.

 

 

WHAT'S HEISENBERG ROD STEWART UNCERTAINTY

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[Patrick Barron]

The guys on the end of Speight passes. Young receivers are usually bad. Of late, however, you're seeing a couple guys a year break through as true freshmen. Michigan has a couple of candidates in the 2017 class. Both Tarik Black and Donovan Peoples-Jones enrolled early, and both seem like sharp guys who will pick up the offense quickly. Add those guys to the McDoom/Crawford/Johnson troika that the coaching staff is high on and Drake Harris and it's not too hard to see Michigan being at least as good as they were this year.

Or they could be first-and-second year guys and run into each other on the regular. Ask again later.

Meanwhile, Michigan has a solid candidate to do Butt stuff in Ian Bunting. Still a difficult ask for anyone to live up to Butt's ability to reel in anything in his area.

The interior OL. At guard, a dropoff is unlikely from a true freshman and a guy who ended up –12 on the season per PFF. Michigan needs to do much more than tread water, though. Mike Onwenu is a unique prospect at one spot, and Bredeson will either be a lot better... or playing tackle, and then the other guard spot is a series of question marks. Cole stabilizes; whether or not these guys are any good is still very much an open question.

The Pep effect. Is Pep Hamilton an upgrade on Jedd Fisch? Does it even matter when Harbaugh's running things?

MANDATORY WILD ASS GUESS

Another mediocre season is in the offing unless Michigan gets a Christmas miracle an the offensive line that will probably feature one upperclassman and is 50/50 to sport another true freshman. That is a tough hill to climb for anyone. The skill positions should be good but are likely a year away from being able to offer win-games-on-our-own help—again Michigan is all but devoid of upperclassmen.

A projected Speight uptick is the main reason for optimism; it's asking a lot of him to be Andrew Luck in an environment where he's going to be running away an awful lot.

The good news is good news about 2018, when Michigan loses only a few projected contributors: Mason Cole, the fullbacks, Drake Johnson, and Ty Isaac. Whatever they find this year will enter 2018 just about unscathed.

Ohio State Postgame Presser: Players

Ohio State Postgame Presser: Players

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 28th, 2016 at 10:16 AM

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[Fuller/Upchurch]

Khalid Hill, Wilton Speight, Kenny Allen

Wilton, what was the preparation process like for you going into this game?

“Same amount of preparation as any game in terms of football. Just had more recovery stuff to get back for this game.”

At this point, you had them, seemed to be on the ropes, just a couple mistakes--

WS: “Yeah, that’s pretty disappointing. Game of this magnitude, the fight that we’ve put in as a team together since last January after the bowl game, it all came down to this game. The Game. The way it played out, incredible game, but came up short.”

Khalid, describe what you were a part of here today. You had two touchdowns. Just describe what this game was like for you.

“I struggled. Got stopped on the goal line, then Coach called on me again to go do it again. Just shows the trust he has in his players. It’s not about my success, though. We wanted to get it done as a team and fell short. Got to keep our heads up and keep moving.”

A lot of self-inflicted wounds today. What do you guys take out of that and what do you make of it?

WS: “Yeah, I made a couple mistakes in the game. Unfortunate to get my hand hit when I was throwing out of the end zone, which resulted in a pick-six. Then trying to force another ball into too tight of a window. But yeah.”

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