Going Pro In Sports: The UDFAs

Going Pro In Sports: The UDFAs

Submitted by Ace on May 6th, 2015 at 2:52 PM

Previously: Devin Funchess, Jake Ryan

Only three former Wolverines were selected in the NFL Draft—Devin Funchess, Frank Clark, and Jake Ryan—but a handful of others will get their shot as undrafted free agents. Here's a quick look at where each UDFA ended up and their chances of sticking on an NFL roster.

Brennen Beyer, DE/OLB, Baltimore Ravens

Beyer was consistently solid the last few years, playing out a career reminiscent of Craig Roh; while never outrageously productive—he topped out at 5.5 sacks in a single season—he played disciplined defense on the edge. Beyer is almost certainly an outside linebacker in the Ravens 3-4 defense, which will be a transition after playing with his hand in the dirt for the most part at Michigan—he did start five games at linebacker in 2013. Like most UDFAs, Beyer has an uphill climb to make a roster; for comparison's sake, Roh spent one season on Carolina's practice squad, then played for the Omaha Mammoths of the FXFL in 2014.

Devin Gardner, WR, New England Patriots

Gardner is making the transition from quarterback to wide receiver, and he landed on the right team to do just that; the Patriots turned Julian Edelman, a 2009 seventh-rounder, from an all-MAC dual-threat quarterback at Kent State into one of the more reliable receivers in the league.

Of course, Gardner did get some experience playing the position in college, playing receiver in 2012 until Denard Robinson's injury forced him back into quarterback duty. Gardner displayed his great athleticism, especially as a red zone threat—he had four touchdowns in eight games as a WR—but his rawness at the position was also evident. The book on Gardner from his pre-draft preparation falls in line with what we saw in 2012:

A college quarterback, Michigan's Devin Gardner is making the transition to wide receiver for the next level, a position he played briefly in his Ann Arbor career. However, he is understandably still very raw as a wideout. During Monday's practice, Gardner rounded off routes, dropped passes and attracted a good amount of attention from the coaches as they tried to coach him up. He did some things well and has the athleticism for his size that should translate well, but it will certainly take some time before he sheds the “quarterback trying to play wide receiver” label.

How quickly Gardner learns the finer aspects of playing receiver will determine if he's worthy of a spot on the 53-man roster or gets the opportunity to refine his game on the practice squad. Even if it doesn't work out with New England, he should get a shot somewhere; there's no question he's got a lot of potential, and I think his hands NFL-quality—the UFR catch chart reveals that he caught all but one easy throw that season, and was targeted on a lot of uncatchable throws that significantly drag down his yards per target.

Delonte Hollowell, DB, Detroit Lions

MLive's Kyle Meinke reports Hollowell will be at Detroit's rookie minicamp this weekend, though it isn't clear whether he's been signed as an undrafted free agent or is simply getting a tryout. (I'd guess it's the latter.) Hollowell saw the occasional snap as a slot corner but mostly played special teams at Michigan. Unless he turns into a special teams demon, he's facing a major uphill battle to make a roster, especially given his relatively small stature.

Matt Wile, P, Carolina Panthers

Wile, who saw significant action as both a placekicker and punter at Michigan, will get his shot as a punter in Carolina. The incumbent Panthers punter, Brad Nortman, took a step back in 2014 after a stellar 2013 season, so there may be an opening for Wile to land the job, but to do so he'll have to beat out an established vetaran—one Carolina used a sixth-round pick on in 2012.

Wednesday Presser 11-19-14: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser 11-19-14: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 19th, 2014 at 5:03 PM

Hoke presser 2

file

News bullets and other items:

  • Hoke has spoken with Frank Clark since Monday
  • The team practiced inside yesterday, except for the special teams unit; they wanted them working in the wind
  • Ty Isaac has dropped some weight and impressed in the intrasquad scrimmage last week
  • Hoke said the problems in the passing game seem to change from game to game
  • Hoke and his staff turned down Jake Ryan when they were at SDSU after watching his recruiting tape

Opening remarks:

"Thanks for coming. Yesterday we had a very productive practice as far as both execution and the intensity of it and the finish, and that's one of the things we talk about all the time but the consistency of the finish we want to do every play and I think we accomplished a lot of those things yesterday. We went inside. A little surprising to some of you. Mr. Glick might be upset if we didn't go inside but we did punt and snap and catch punts outside for about 12 to 15 minutes. We usually always go outside for that specialist [portion] and it just helps those guys fielding the punts in the wind yesterday. The other problem that you have, and it's not a problem, but your filmers, your student filmers being up in those towers [where] the wind gusts can get pretty good and we don't want to take any chances with that.

"As far as- you always track the weather and you want to try and be ahead of it. It does reflect sometimes on if you want to have two returners on a punt [or] if you want to have three returners on the punt back and because of the weather and what the wind can do to the football. Doesn't affect a lot in the passing game unless it's just unbelievably  from the side especially if you're doing a great job of spirals with the ball.

"The one thing we've talked about is there's 12 seniors that are going to play their last football game in Michigan Stadium, and I think that's important. You try and remind guys that they're going to be seniors soon, those young guys, and we talk about that constantly and I think some of them you've had an opportunity to talk to this week because we're trying to give the seniors time with you. It can be emotional for some of them and some guys will be emotional but it won't hit until after the game has been played."

/someone opens door, noise from a snowblower fills the room

"SO WE HOPE AND WE ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO COME OUT AS WE HONOR THEM AND WE RECOGNIZE THEM AND WE'RE EXCITED ABOUT THAT."

/doors closes

"And we're blowing snow."

 

You don't face a lot of three man fronts. Appalachian State was one, but this one's a little bit different from Appalachian State because they're a lot more up front, a lot more aggressive. Does it present some different challenges than what you face in a normal week?

"Well, it does in some areas, and they'll kick it to be an under or an over front depending on where the tight end's lined up or what they feel is a receiver strength or just formational strength, but the present some thing because they've got really good quickness. [They] present some problems because of the quickness they have as a team, and I think they have pretty good team speed. They're not the biggest guys up front, but I think they do a nice job of what they're trying to get done when you look at gap integrity in the run game and then obviously we want to stay out of those third downs that can be a problem because whoever you play there's only so many things that you can do."

 

You talked about him a lot early on in terms of eligibility, but what have you seen from Ty Isaac on the practice field to make you feel that he is what you thought he was?

"Yeah, yeah. A couple things. Number one, I think Ty from a standpoint of where he is getting at now physically from when he got here- you know, he was in Chicago in the summer taking classes, doing those things so didn't have an opportunity really to work out with our guys at all in the summer so he did a nice job and he's continued to do that. His weight's down. When we had the scrimmage the other day he was one of the guys [I forgot]; I said there'd be guys I forgot to mention. He ran the ball pretty daggone well."

[After THE JUMP: Hoke talks about Hagerup's improvement after dropping an old-school technique. Yes, that happened. Yes, in the punting game. Why would you accuse me of making that up?]

Preview 2014: Special Teams

Preview 2014: Special Teams

Submitted by Brian on August 29th, 2014 at 11:21 AM

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

Kicker Yr Punter Yr Kickoffs Yr Punt return Yr Kick return Yr
Matt Wile Sr Will Hagerup Sr* Kenny Allen So* Jabrill Peppers Fr Dennis Norfleet Jr
Alex Mitropoulos-Rundus Jr* Kenny Allen So* Matt Wile Sr Dennis Norfleet Jr Raymon Taylor Sr

Kicker

Wile first FG[1]

Rating: 4

MATT WILE finally ascends to the starting job at kicker after a patient three-year apprenticeship while filling in at punter and kickoff specialist. We have very little to go on when it comes to field goals; he's spent the last couple years as the long-range specialist, hitting 50% from ranges such as 48, 49, and 52 before hitting a couple chip shots in the bowl game.

Kickers are weird and I can't predict kickers, because you can't predict molecules of air. That said, Wile will probably be fine. He's done a lot of kicking-type activities that didn't include field goals over the course of his time at Michigan and he's been consistently effective. Once you get past the bare physical minimums, consistency is your watchword and lifeblood; Wile has that. As the kickoff guy last year he eschewed blasting 'em through the endzone, instead trying to leave them high, short, and to one sideline. That ended up not being a great idea, but it wasn't because of Wile. That effort speaks well to his ability to put footballs in specific places after they come off his foot and is the closest thing to analysis you can get for a kicker no one has seen.

This section very well could have been "dunno; is kicker," I know. He should be fine to very good. But is kicker, dunno.

Unlike last year, Michigan is short on options after Wile. JJ McGrath transferred to Mississippi State this offseason, leaving previously obscure walk-on ALEX MITROPOULUS-RUNDUS as the second option. He was not real good in the closed spring scrimmage; when they brought him out to kick a few field goals he missed a bunch in a row. It got to the point that when he hit one it felt like a bronx cheer erupted from the rest of the team. Viva Wile.

[After THE JUMP: Norfleet! Peppers! I hope they matter!]

Draftageddon: As Told in One Act Plays

Draftageddon: As Told in One Act Plays

Submitted by Seth on July 25th, 2014 at 12:01 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!
  9. BISB goes Maryland crazy, reminds us all that he has Kurtis Drummond eighty-five times.
  10. GUAAAAARDS!
  11. The transitive property of MSU corners and Wisconsin RBs, and Phil Steele goes Heiko.

CURRENT SITUATION

currentlycurrent_thumb3

ROUND 23 - PICK 2 (Ace): Tony Jones, WR, Northwestern

O: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Ameer Abdullah (NE), WR Devin Funchess (U-M), WR Tony Jones (NW), SLOT Levern Jacobs (MD), SLOT/RB Dontre Wilson (OSU), TE Maxx Williams (MN), LT Brandon Scherff (IA), LG Kaleb Johnson (RU), C Chad Lindsay (OSU), RG Jordan Walsh (IA), 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), CB Darian Hicks (MSU), S John Lowdermilk (IA), S Jarrod Wilson (U-M), HSP Earnest Thomas III (IL)

ST: KR Dontre Wilson (OSU), PR Ameer Abdullah (NE)

hardestworkingplayer

…in the animal kingdom

While Brian is trying to convince you a stat he came up with that indicates Ohio State's safeties were anything but a massive pile of suck last year is TOTALLY LEGIT, YOU GUYS, I'll go ahead and nab my possession receiver. Tony Jones recorded 55 receptions last season, more than any other returning receiver in the conference. He posted a very respectable 68.8% catch rate and averaged 7.7 yards per target; both marks well surpass those of Kenny Bell (59.1%, 6.6 YPT). (BiSB, before you scream "BUT TOMMY KELLOGG TURFTOE THE EIGHTH!"—take a look at the respective passing numbers for the Wildcats and Huskers. Yeah. Yikes.)

Sure, Jones' numbers were bolstered by being one of Northwestern's main targets on screens, but he can do a lot more than run after the catch (though he's pretty good at that). He's a very solid route runner—here he is torching 2014 second-round pick Stanley Jean-Baptiste off the line for an easy touchdown:

His scoring reception amid a sea of bodies at Penn State may have been even more impressive. He catches the ball well, blocks with enthusiasm, isn't afraid to go over the middle, and can line up wherever; all of that was on display when he lit up Syracuse for nine catches, 185 yards, and a TD last season. From watching film, I get the impression he had a much better rapport with Unstoppable Throw-God Trevor Siemian than the departed Kain Colter, as well, so he could see an uptick in his numbers now that the throw-first quarterback is taking over full-time.

Take a look at my veritable panoply of skill players. In my not-so-humble opinion, only Brian's lot comes remotely close, and he's ostensibly playing Josh Ferguson in the slot (or out wide?) while using one of his skill spots on Christian Hackenberg. Imagine all the things I could do with that group. Imagine me winning this thing...

Wait, you don't have to imagine that. It's happening, and there's nothing a pair of Northwestern safeties can do about it.

----INTERLUDE----

Seth: ...says the guy who drafted "I only do cover 2" Lowdermilk like 10 rounds ago, has an Illini in a coverage role, and is gambling on a new starter as a starting corner.

And no I'm not just grumpy over the ruination of my plans to draft both OSU Smiths and Northwestern Jonesii.

Ace: The guy whose best offensive player may very well be his backup running back should probably stay out of this.

BiSB: Kurtis Drummond things.

Seth: The Team The Team The Team

Ace Sadly, Seth's head coach, Motivational Poster, couldn't quite compel his team to score any points, though probably not for lack of trying.

Brian: I'd just like to point out that the guy who "might" be my slot receiver had five fewer catches than Tony Jones and is extraordinarily better at not being boring as heeeeeeeellll.

BiSB: Brian's stats conclusively demonstrate that Northwestern was really good at allowing plays of between 10 and 19 yards. This might well correlate to super-awesome safety play because Kovacs. But then again, 19 yards is many yards for one play. But Northwestern gave up 256 yards per game. Their Defensive S&P+ ranking on passing plays was #73 in the country. This was 9th in the conference, ahead of only Indiana, Purdue, and Illinois. Only one player has been taken from those other three defenses combined. This is your safety tandem. We get it; the pickings are slim at this point. But, yeah, the end result may indicate that you should have gone safety instead of backup quarterback in Round 13 (though I appreciate you doing so).

Ace, BUT TOMMY KELLOGG TURFT... oh, right. You addressed that. But I would point out that Bell's numbers in '12 were MUCH better than his numbers in '13 (as well as much better than anything Jones has put up). A little quarterbacking stability in Lincoln will put Bell back where he should be. Plus, you can't doubt AfroThunder. Wait... NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

(And speaking of Joneses, Northwestern has FIVE Joneses on its roster: Christian, Daniel, Joseph, Malin and Tony. This means nothing, but is worth noting.)

[After the jump: MGoBlog Fantasy Theater, featuring the stars of Ace's offense]

One Frame At A Time: Minnesota

One Frame At A Time: Minnesota

Submitted by Ace on October 8th, 2013 at 3:49 PM

For the final time, Jon Falk hands off the Jug. These little moments are what make college football so special—name another sport in which the fans know the name of a beloved equipment manager and care deeply about a century-old water jug that doubles as a trophy in a severely one-sided rivalry.

Many more GIFs of the Jug, as well as a whole lot of Funchess, alumni cheerleaders, and more after the jump.

[JUMP]

Necessary But Not Sufficient

Necessary But Not Sufficient

Submitted by Brian on October 7th, 2013 at 12:18 PM

10/5/2013 – Michigan 42, Minnesota 13 – 5-0, 1-0 Big Ten

10107704246_7cae9148f0_c[1]

Eric Upchurch

Jon Falk has a compatriot at Minnesota. He's probably had a dozen over his 40 years as Michigan's equipment manager. Some guy who comes in with the latest Gopher coaching staff, wonders what it's like to hold the jug in his meaty palm, and maybe once gets to shepherd it for a year. Since Falk arrived at Michigan a fresh-faced young thing four years into Bo's career, his opposite number has had this experience three times.

In proof lingo, this means that beating Minnesota—beating up on Minnesota, usually—is a necessary but not sufficient property of Michigan teams that want to do anything with their seasons. Sometimes you can retain the Jug despite not being very good; sometimes you can retain the jug despite being headed for 3-9 because Nick Sheridan has an out-of-body experience. When you're headed for 3-9 you get a little misty about the Jug coming out. When you're not the worst team in Ann Arbor since the 1930s it's a checkbox to fill out.

Michigan did so in perfunctory style, grinding out a second half in which they went from vaguely threatened to bored. Since this came on the heels of narrow escapes against teams that lost 43-3 to Ohio on Saturday and 41-12 to Buffalo last week, it's progress. How much is unknown.

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

This game settled into a grim fugue state almost from the drop, as Michigan manballed its way into the endzone on a Statement Drive to start the game. Unfortunately, that Statement was "by putting Taylor Lewan next to Michael Schofield we can bull our way down the field against Minnesota." That statement is unlikely to apply to many teams on the schedule. But, hey, progress.

Then Minnesota donned turbans and embarked on the Ishtar Drive. An epic production galaxy-spanning in its dullness that arrived at its destination two hours too late and failed to have the desired impact, it ate up the rest of the quarter. Michigan left it without having attempted a pass.

This was a little dull.

It was the kind of dull that had Space Coyote, the Michigan's blogosphere's resident instant analysis savant, pleading with the masses that the intricacies of a well-blocked power play were just as appealing as, say, watching 175-pound Venric Mark activate his truck stick on an Ohio State safety. I can't imagine there's another Michigan fan in the world more receptive to that argument than yours truly and even I wasn't buying that as the secondary effect of all that manball kicked in: punt, commercial, play, end of quarter, commercial, play play, punt, commercial. Touchdown, commercial, kickoff, commercial—the NFL special. As the teams' attempt to blow through this game in record time was thwarted by the networks, being in Michigan Stadium became the worst concert of all time interrupted by bouts of football-related activity.

It was the kind of thing that made you consider what the purpose of your fandom was. Am I only here to see Michigan end a game with a larger number on the scoreboard than Opponent? Is there any valid goal outside of this? Am I a bad fan for wishing something interesting would happen? Do the people on twitter who scorn you for having feelings other than Go Team have a point? What is the point of any of this, and why can't they make the wifi work?

At halftime, the guys in front of me discussed whether they would bolt for Frazer's, and two did. I'm usually a guy who thinks leaving an athletic event before it's decided is a mortal sin, but I kind of envied the guy in the home-made muscle shirt screwing off to a place where he could get a beer and not hear "Build Me Up, Buttercup." At any other time, I would have thought this man's attendance at Michigan Stadium was a necessary property of a fan that he had just shown was not sufficient by leaving a touchdown game at halftime like he was a sorority girl about to blow a .341. On Saturday, I was with him in spirit.

This is a fearful development. I don't want to think like that. I want to be forever ten years old, excited by everything. On Saturday I had a long look down the elevator shaft.

622377-1_super[1]

It'll pass like the moment above did. Someone will do something interesting, and there will be something at stake other than a piece of crockery that just means you're not horrible, and sometimes not even that. I had a bad day, I was pissed at Dave Brandon when I discovered I was thirsty but knew I couldn't do anything about it without missing a large chunk of the game I was there to see even if it was narcoleptic, I was emo after the last few weeks of expectation-depressing terror. It'll pass, and the doors will close on the moment where I reached out and felt the slight outlines of a limit to my fandom.

Right?

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

Michigan won by a lot, eventually.

Highlights

Completely one-sided highlights:

Awards

brady-hoke-epic-double-point_thumb_3[1]Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. Has to be Michigan's new favorite worst nightmare at wide receiver: Devin Funchess. Relieved of many blocking duties and deployed on the outside, Funchess displayed fantastic hands on a couple of catches outside of his body, ran routes that got him tons of separation, and went right by a Minnesota cornerback(!) on a straight-up fly route(!) to prove himself Michigan's best deep threat(?). By the end of the game he had newspaper types plumbing the statistical depths for completely invalid comparisons to Jim Mandich, who was a tight end, which Devin Funchess is not.

Honorable mention: No Turnovers, which may be Devin Gardner's temporary name until such point as he turns it over. Schofield and Lewan were mashing as tackle brothers. Blake Countess did have a pick six, albeit one of no importance. James Ross and Desmond Morgan had lots of tackles, usually at the LOS when not facing spread formations.

Epic Double Point Standings.

1.0: Devin Gardner (ND), Jeremy Gallon (ND), Desmond Morgan(UConn), Devin Funchess(Minnesota)
0.5: Cam Gordon (CMU), Brennen Beyer (CMU)

10107678573_22dc886b9d_b[1]

I guess? [Upchurch]

Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week. Wow. Are we at a loss here? We might be at a loss here. Countess's interception was after the game was decided, as was the long Funchess fly route thing. Michigan's longest run went for not many yards. I guess we're going with Fitzgerald Toussaint scoring an easy ten-yard touchdown, as it hinted that Michigan may be able to run the ball forward? Yeah, okay.

Honorable mention: Funchess reception, pick one. Countess pick. Black FF.

Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.

8/31/2013: Dymonte Thomas introduces himself by blocking a punt.
9/7/2013: Jeremy Gallon spins through four Notre Dame defenders for a 61-yard touchdown.
9/14/2013: Michigan does not lose to Akron. Thanks, Thomas Gordon.
9/21/2013: Desmond Morgan's leaping one-handed spear INT saves Michigan's bacon against UConn.
10/5/2013: Fitzgerald Toussaint runs for ten yards, gets touchdown rather easily.

[After THE JUMP: actual game analysis instead of pathetic emo self-pity mooning!]

Upon Further Reviewy Hokepointsy Thing: Kickoffs

Upon Further Reviewy Hokepointsy Thing: Kickoffs

Submitted by Seth on September 24th, 2013 at 4:07 PM

wile

So I kind of misunderstood a direction by Brian when I said I wanted to address special teams—he wanted stats on dinosaur punting and I thought he meant UFR all the things he doesn't.

What sparked my interest was coffin corner kicking. NCAA moved the kickoff spot to the 35 and made touchbacks start on the 25 as in incentive to cut down on kickoff return (and ensuing concussions). Inadvertently (or maybe not) they took away the advantage gained by teams with big-legged touchback machines. To regain that advantage, schools that can recruit kickers are teaching them to put the ball higher and in a spot where returners have to field it but are likely to be swallowed short of the 25 after they do.

perfectspot
D-E-D zone.

Against CMU I noticed Wile seemed particularly good at placing balls right in that deep left corner, the same thing I've done on every football videogame ever once I mastered the timing of the kickoff bar. This seems very hard to do in real life: you need to put the ball high enough to let your coverage get there but not deep enough that they let it go through the end zone, and far enough from the sideline that it won't go out of bounds, but far enough inside of the hash that you can use the sideline as a force defender. Do it well consistently and that's perhaps 50 yards of field position a game.

It's my first time UFR'ing these so gonna have to set some ground rules:

Points: Number of points given out reflects where the play ended up, figuring 1 point roughly equals 5 yards of field position, baseline: 25 yard line.

Glossary: The "From" column is where the kick originated, given as yard line then horizontal position ("L"=left hash, etc.). "Rtn" (return) is how far the returner ran it, "Rlt" (result) is where the ball's placed. "Tchbk" (touchback) means it's on the 25. "Corner L" means they kicked it from the left hash and try to have it come down near the goal line and relatively near the sideline; "Deep L" means they just kicked it deep along the hash mark. "Center" means they kick it toward the middle and come down the same.

Things: Note that Michigan typically kicks off from the left hash despite their right-footed kicker.

Okay, got a UFR macro reverse-engineered in Xcel. Got some torrents. Got a…oh, bolded, chart-demanding subconscious, you there?

Present.

Okay let's do this.

[After the jump]

Wednesday Presser Transcript 9-18-13: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser Transcript 9-18-13: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on September 18th, 2013 at 1:17 PM

Bullets:

  • Boo boo watch: Courtney Avery and AJ Williams are back at practice. This is not a drill. 
  • Boo boo watch part 2: Taylor Lewan didn't practice yesterday but will today. He's fine. Mario Ojemudia will be the most limited of the boo boo watchees. I don't know if he'll play.
  • The offensive line is in an introspective phase. Changes might occur as early as this week. However, the bye week presents a much better opportunity to shake things up.

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

Opening remarks:

"Good practice yesterday. Thought we came out and competed very hard, which you expect every day. But I thought we physically were getting after each other, and we'll do the same thing today. We've got to play the run better, run the ball better, same old stuff you always hear, but it's the truth and it is what it is. I liked how we came out and competed with each other."

Noticeably different from last week?

"On a Tuesday? Probably a little bit."

A lot players said last Tuesday was lackluster. Can you tell that?

"They would know best if they felt that way. Maybe it's an individual thing, too."

Can you talk about UConn's defensive front?

"Yeah they're a big front. Not quite Notre Dame big in some ways, but they're a big front. Active in the linebackers. I think Smallwood is a guy who is their main bellcow when it comes to tackling and getting the ball on the ground. Just reading some of the comments Paul has made, I know they want to play better against the run also. I'm sure they've worked their tails off like we are."

Did Taylor Lewan practice?

"He didn't do anything yesterday. He did some alternate conditioning stuff, but he'll practice today. He's fine."

Rows Of Teeth

Rows Of Teeth

Submitted by Brian on September 2nd, 2013 at 12:43 PM

8/31/2013 – Michigan 59, Central Michigan 9 – 1-0

9638390537_51e5d0eae6_z[1]

oh yeah Kalis and Magnuson beardin' it up yo [Upchurch]

You may not remember this because of the recent history of Michigan football, but often after one-sided blowouts not against Notre Dame this space will throw up its hands at the idea of crafting an actual column and skip straight to bullets and highlights and whatnot. It's tough to narrate the emotional tenor of a humid August day against a team that never had a chance.

MY COLUMN ABOUT THIS FIFTY POINT WIN THAT MADE MY WIFE MAD BECAUSE SHE FELT BAD FOR THE OPPONENT

It was kind of boring, but on the other hand it was nice not to be terrified. It was hot and Dave Brandon smells like pee.

/column

But, you know, at some point in the third quarter Michigan threw a second team offense out there, and it was thrilling. I know this is basically me saying "hello, I am freak. Freak talk now. Freak talk." But there it is. I actually felt excited when the second-team OL came out, possibly more excited than I had been for anything that was not Dennis Norfleet all day. Ben Braden was out there. Chris Bryant. Blake Bars. Erik Magnuson. Joey Burzynski. One walk-on (not four); no upperclassmen. The future. Magnuson even got in on the goal line and did well for himself.

Michigan loses Lewan and Schofield; they also get six more bullets in their chamber as the 2013 OL class comes off redshirts, chomping at the bit. The days when Michigan's depth chart reads "three to five guys, then a bottomless pit" are close to over. Might already be over.

On the other side of the ball the equivalent moment came too soon to even think about it: the second drive. Michigan threw four guys out there who hadn't played on the first drive, and switched up some linebackers, and I'm not sure fans who don't obsessively track the numbers of everyone in the game would even notice. They'd go three deep at many spots by halftime.

They'll graduate three of the 20 players in the front seven who saw the field, and nobody from the secondary. Because of suspension and injury in the safety corps, yeah. But still.

Take this depth chart. Stack the 2014 depth chart behind it. Put 2015 behind that. You can even go to 2016, probably, what with Michigan's 2015 class approaching halfway done already. What do you get?

shark-teeth-1[1]

An infinite conveyor belt of shark teeth. It's coming. Might be here already.

Highlights

Via Parkinggod:

There's also a shorter BTN reel.

Photos

Eric and Bryan posted their galleries on Sunday. A season-opening reminder: all photos on the mgoblog photostream are Creative Commons licensed and can be used on your blog or twitter or facebook or whatever (just not sold). We just ask for a link back.

Meanwhile Roy Roundtree is pretty great y'all:

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Fuller

Awards

brady-hoke-epic-double-point_thumb_3_thumb

Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. Difficult to pick any one person here since no one had more than four catches or 14 rushing attempts and Gardner threw two ugly picks in 15 attempts. Meanwhile on defense, the heavy rotation meant no one except Desmond Morgan had more than five tackles.

But… Cam Gordon looked good and his two sacks are the most statistically impressive achievement on the day. And Brennen Beyer only got credited for one sack but really had two, a sack/strip and then a plain ol' sack, both of which appear in the highlights above. On both he beat blockers. Gordon got his on (well timed, effective, finished) blitzes. Since everyone is feeling much, much better about Not Jake Ryan, Not Jake Ryan gets the nod.

Honorable Mention. Jarrod Wilson (for a guy who supposedly lost his job to Courtney Avery he was lights out); Jeremy Gallon (a couple tough catches amongst his four, and two touchdowns); Devin Gardner (okay, yeah, but Vince Young); Fitz Toussaint (looked goooood despite lack of stats); AJ Williams (provisional based on possibility he was caving in the outside of the CMU defense.)

Epic Double Point Standings.

0.5: Cam Gordon (CMU), Brennen Beyer (CMU)

Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week. The blocked punt touchdown set the tone, showed us the crazy explosiveness of Dymonte Thomas (Heiko and Ace point out that he blocked it before it even hit the punter's foot), gave us some faith that special teams might be a real asset this season, and was a Heartwarming Moment when former walk-on Joe Reynolds scored his first touchdown. So that.

Honorable mention: Desmond Morgan embodies his description in the season preview with a textbook stick of Zurlon Tipton; Cam Gordon invades the backfield to make us all feel better about Not Jake Ryan; ditto Beyer; Derrick Green rips off a 30-yarder; Reynolds brings in a tough 50-yard catch.

Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.

N/A

Burned redshirt watch

A first-game thing to do.

On offense: De'Veon Smith, Derrick Green, Csont'e York, Jake Butt, and Shane Morris.

All of these make sense to me. Playing one of the freshmen wideouts makes sense, one or both running backs could help Michigan win a game this year, ditto Butt, and Morris needs blooding.

On defense: Delano Hill, Jourdan Lewis, Channing Stribling, Dymonte Thomas, Taco Charlton, Ben Gedeon.

Despite previous complaints about burning either LB redshirt, if Gedeon is the backup WLB I'm fine with it. He appears to be. Everyone else is obvious save Jourdan Lewis, and even if that's a debatable decision M is still redshirting two corners this year and brings in Jabrill Peppers next year. I don't think they'll be moaning about a lack of a fifth year for Lewis.

Probably redshirting: All OL, Wyatt Shallman, Jaron Dukes, Khalid Hill, Da'Mario Jones, Reon Dawson, Ross Douglas,  Henry Poggi, Maurice Hurst,  Mike McCray. McCray is a bit of a surprise after the number change seemingly designed to get him on special teams with Dileo. I'm very much in favor of a redshirt to get some separation here. Everyone else is obvious save maybe Hill.

[Rest after the jump]

Preview 2013: Special Teams

Preview 2013: Special Teams

Submitted by Brian on August 28th, 2013 at 5:02 PM

Previously: Podcast 5.0, The Story, Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receiver, Tight End and Friends, Offensive Line, Defensive Tackle, Defensive End.

 

Kicker Yr Punter Yr Kickoffs Yr Punt return Yr Kick return Yr
Brendan Gibbons Sr* Matt Wile Jr Matt Wile Jr Dennis Norfleet So Dennis Norfleet So
Matt Wile Jr Kenny Allen Fr* Brendan Gibbons Sr* Drew Dileo Sr Drew Dileo Sr

Oh man. Despite the season-long suspension of Will Hagerup, Michigan has depth at both kicker spots and moves Dennis Norfleet into both return jobs. Brendan Gibbons will aim for a top five spot in the history of Michigan kicker accuracy; Matt Wile has established himself as a consistent B+ punter (at least), and Wile's being pushed by a freshman who's been booming them since spring practice.

This could be good. As long as they cover someone and block someone. Right. That bit.

Kicker

Rating: 5

gibbons-miss-2gibbons-vt-3df10[1]

Gibbons year by year

If BRENDAN GIBBONS continues his meteoric rise at the same rate he's improved over the last two seasons he'll be 6/6 on 60+ field goals and win the Heisman. This… is not likely. But a Groza finalist spot actually is, or would be except for the fact that Brady Hoke hates field goals. (Woo!)

Let's review: as a redshirt freshman, Gibbons was 1/5 on mostly chip-shot kicks, paving the way for other kickers to be about as bad. Michigan all but abandoned the idea of kicking field goals longer than 30 yards, and when Hoke was hired the first thing on many people's minds is "they HAVE to get a kicker, right?"

Brady Hoke gave Gibbons a hearty back-slap, transferring a millionth of a percent of his confidence to the beleaguered freshman, and lo, the next season he was 13/17 with his clutch kick winning the Sugar Bowl. As a junior, his range improved and he hit 16 of 18 field goals, including a 52-yarder. In terms of basic accuracy his 2012 was the third-best in Michigan history, behind only John Carlson in 1989 and Kicking Competency Lopata in 2007—and Lopata's long that year was 42. (MGoBlue doesn't have a long for Carlson.)

In terms of advanced stats, Michigan's field goal efficiency was 12th nationally. (Matt Wile did help out by hitting 2 of 3 long ones.) That's even more impressive when you consider that it was held down by Brady Hoke's tendency to scoff at long field goals, pull out a slab of meat, tear off a chunk, and scream "GIVE ME A FIRST DOWN OR GIVE ME DEATH!"

I may be excessively enthusiastic about Brady Hoke's aggressiveness.

Anyway, Gibbons is all but automatic now. He's tied for ninth all-time in FG% at M despite the awful start; the Hoke version of Gibbons would be a solid #1 at 83%. He should press into the upper reaches of the record book with a season similar to 2012, except that kickers are weird and can implode at any time. Brady Hoke emanates calm, though, so that is not likely to happen.

And Michigan has a great backup option in MATT WILE, who nailed a 52-yarder himself in the bowl game. He's the starting punter and kickoff guy—he can just kick things, often a great distance. Even if Gibbons shorts out Michigan will be turning to a guy who they can expect success from. So yeah, I'm breaking out the 5 even if this means I'll be building a moat if things go wrong this fall. YOLO.

[After THE JUMP: Norfleet! Norfleet! Norfleet! (Matt Wile. Terrible punt coverage.)]