Pipkins Transferring To Texas Tech

Pipkins Transferring To Texas Tech Comment Count

Brian July 17th, 2015 at 1:13 PM

7991648876_f0ef0a2495_z

[Bryan Fuller]

Ondre Pipkins already announced he was out, but with Harbaugh asserting he was still on scholarship and would be this fall there was some uncertainty about what would happen. No longer:

Michigan now has another slot to give a walk-on this fall, or they could bring in at fifth-year wide receiver. The latter seems a little far fetched this deep into the offseason.

Comments

Pipkins To Transfer, Says He Was Pressured To Sign Medical Hardship Papers

Pipkins To Transfer, Says He Was Pressured To Sign Medical Hardship Papers Comment Count

Brian June 26th, 2015 at 1:55 PM

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Pipkins got on the field late in the opener last year [Bryan Fuller]

Ondre Pipkins will attempt to use his last year(s) of eligibility elsewhere and he is not happy about it:

"I feel I'm healthy and ready to play," said Pipkins, who played last season after he was cleared to return from a torn knee ligament. "I don't want to sign the form. I wanted to play for my seniors and for the team. Coach Harbaugh said, 'I recommend you take the medical.'"

Pipkins said he felt constant pressure to retire. …

Harbaugh told him that he wanted "to make sure you graduate from Michigan" and that the coach did not plan to invite him to fall camp due in part to medical concerns. The lineman added that Harbaugh told him that he did not believe he would be drafted into the NFL for medical reasons.

"I feel bad I wasn't able to complete this journey with my classmates," Pipkins told ESPN. "I feel I am healthy and without pain. I believe Michigan wanted to free up the scholarship. I felt I was practicing well and could compete at a high level at the nose tackle and tackle positions."

First off, good for Pipkins for saying something about it—and apparently painting Harbaugh in a somewhat sympathetic light.

But this is a strange situation for a lot of reasons. I can't really figure out why Harbaugh would want to run Pipkins out of town:

  • He was scheduled to be a senior and Michigan is at 85 scholarships right now, with the three former walk-ons (Kerridge, Glasgow, Glasgow) we think will get scholarships in 2015 accounted for.
  • Pipkins thus doesn't impact the numbers in the 2016 class; the only reason he'd need to go this year is if Michigan was going to bring in yet more transfers.
  • ND DE transfer Jhonathan Williams was just told no by Michigan.
  • I'm sure at least one other player has a very legit medical hardship-inducing injury they haven't announced yet.

There were some rumors Michigan was looking at fifth year wide receivers that haven't come to fruition as of yet, but none of this really makes sense. Michigan seems to have room for him, and the move would appear to be a redshirt (that he should have gotten as a freshman /shakes fist at Hoke) so that he can be a fifth year somewhere else after getting his degree. That is unless he actually shouldn't play football.

Pipkins asserts in the article that Michigan wanted the scholarship… but for what?

Comments

Spring Roster Overanalysis 2015!

Spring Roster Overanalysis 2015! Comment Count

Seth February 24th, 2015 at 2:03 PM

We get excited about certain things around these parts. Like fun-to-size ratios. And new official rosters with updated weights. We've had 24 hours to parse the Spring data, and with Brian on the road today it's up to me to see how they've grown:

Things of [a Certain Definition of] Interest:

  • Brady Pallante is a fullback
  • Ross Douglas is listed as Ross Taylor-Douglas, and is back at corner
  • Ian Bunting is up to 6'7/243
  • A.J. Williams is up to offensive tackle size (6'6/285)

Weight Gain/Loss 2000

A reminder of internet policy on weight changes: all weight gain is muscle fiber, all weight lost was fat, and all static weight means fat was replaced with muscle fiber. I've highlighted things discussed after.

Player '11 '12 '13 S'14 F'14 Sp'15 '11- '12 '12-'13 '13-'14 '14- 15

Quarterbacks

Shane Morris     202 202 204 209     2 5
Wilton Speight       230 234 235       1
Alex Malzone           218       N/A

Running Back

Derrick Green     240 227 220 234     -20 14
DeVeon Smith     224 223 220 228     -4 8
Drake Johnson   203 213 212 211 207   10 -2 -4
Ty Isaac         225 240       15

Fullback & Tight End

Joe Kerridge     238 247 244 249     6 5
Sione Houma   221 231 240 242 243   10 11 1
Wyatt Shallman     237 243 239 244     2 5
Brady Pallante         263 276       13
A.J. Williams   282 265 263 260 285   -17 -5 25
Jake Butt     237 250 249 248     12 -1
Khalid Hill     258 255 252 252     -6 0
Ian Bunting         227 243       16

Wide Receiver

Amara Darboh   218 212 214 211 216   -6 -1 5
Jehu Chesson   183 196 195 197 207   13 1 10
Dennis Norfleet   170 169 167 169 168   -1 0 -1
Freddy Canteen       170 176 185       9
Da'Mario Jones     192 198 196 199     4 3
Jaron Dukes     190 200 197 204     7 7
Maurice Ways         195 205       10
Drake Harris       180 176 174       -2
Brian Cole           200       N/A

Offensive Line

Jack Miller 263 287 290 297 299 297 24 3 9 -2
Patrick Kugler     287 295 299 297     12 -2
Graham Glasgow     303 308 311 303     8 -8
Kyle Kalis   292 302 304 298 292   10 -4 -6
David Dawson     297 295 296 309     -1 13
Dan Samuelson     283 282 292 289     9 -3
Ben Braden   299 318 319 322 331   19 4 9
Mason Cole       275 292 287       -5
Erik Magnuson   290 285 295 294 296   -5 9 2
Blake Bars   282 291 290 294 281   9 3 -13
Chris Fox     338 310 309 303     -29 -6
L. Tuley-Tillman     300 290 290 309     -10 19
J. Bushell-Beatty         319 319       0

Defensive Line

Ryan Glasgow   294 300 300 296 297   6 0 -4
Bryan Mone       315 312 325       13
Ondre Pipkins   337 315 313 306 317   -22 -9 11
Willie Henry   302 306 297 293 311   4 -13 18
Matthew Godin   270 280 283 286 287   10 6 1
Maurice Hurst Jr.     270 277 282 281     12 -1
Chris Wormley   268 289 292 295 300   21 6 5
Taco Charlton     270 275 275 273     5 -2
Tom Strobel   250 265 268 268 270   15 3 2
Henry Poggi     260 271 270 273     10 3
Mario Ojemudia   223 250 250 251 252   27 1 1
Lawrence Marshall         241 238       -3

Linebacker

Desmond Morgan 220 230 228 232 232 236 10 -2 4 4
James Ross   225 220 225 227 232   -5 7 5
Joe Bolden   230 225 225 231 232   -5 6 1
R. Jenkins-Stone   206 225 221 234 240   19 9 6
Allen Gant   196 212 222 223 225   16 11 2
Ben Gedeon     236 236 240 241     4 1
Mike McCray     237 242 241 242     4 1
Chase Winovich         220 227       7
Noah Furbush         210 217       7
Jared Wangler         219 230       11

Safety

Jarrod Wilson   190 200 202 205 210   10 5 5
Delano Hill     205 205 205 204     0 -1
Dymonte Thomas     190 191 193 191   0 3 -2
Jeremy Clark   191 205 206 205 205   14 0 0
Jabrill Peppers         202 205       3

Cornerback

Blake Countess 176 182 182 183 180 185 6 0 -2 5
Jourdan Lewis     170 174 175 176     5 1
Terry Richardson   154 167 172 170 174   13 3 4
Ross Douglas     176 186 189 186     13 -3
Reon Dawson     170 178 178 175     8 -3
Brandon Watson       185 188 189       1
Channing Stribling     171 176 178 178     7 0

[Hit the jump for discussion on this and other bits I could glean.]

Comments

Wednesday Presser 10-8-14: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser 10-8-14: Brady Hoke Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 8th, 2014 at 5:17 PM

Hoke presser 2

file

News bullets and important items:

  • Ondre Pipkins should be back this week. Sounds like he was injured last week.
  • The coaches want the running game to be filtered through the running backs because they don’t want the quarterback to get hurt
  • Maurice Ways and Chase Winovich are two younger guys who have garnered attention from the coaches
  • Mo Hurst was a running back in high school and has good vision; hence his use in goal line situations
  • Jabrill Peppers is not out for the season

Opening statement:

“Thanks for coming out today. Yesterday, again, the consistency of having good practices continued. They went out and it was spirited. It was tough. Obviously they want to win. They want to play better. They want to compete better, and I think they’ve done that throughout so that’s been focusing on improving at each position and what we can do to play better, coach better, the whole deal. You know Penn State has a very good defense. Very salty, very good defensive front. I think Hackenberg is as talented as a quarterback as you’re going to find. I remember talking to Bill O’Brien about him and I know what Bill thinks of him as a quarterback and I can tell you we share those sentiments. We’re excited to get back out on Saturday. I think that’s the great part about football; you get another opportunity. We’ve got to take advantage of it. It’ll be a historic night, obviously, with the first Big Ten night game in Michigan Stadium. The atmosphere the night games have created the last two years have been something that has been very exciting for our players, so we’re excited about that.”

Coach, Ondre Pipkins didn’t travel with you. Where is he in the mix on the defensive side?

“He’ll be back with us this week.”

So you’re not talking about injuries, but-

“Correct. Correct.”

With the running backs, do you move [Ross] Douglas back there or do you do anything else to get more depth, because you were kind of thin there anyway?

“You know, Ross is playing a little bit of the slot. He’s helping us there a little bit. Haven’t moved him full-time back. The good thing is he’s had some snaps there but right now we feel pretty confident with DeVeon and Justice and Drake Johnson. In some personnel and situation things Joe Kerridge being back there is a possibility.”

Is Wyatt Shallman playing there?

“Well, he- a little bit, yeah. He does some things for us.”

We’ve talked about this all the years with Denard and now Devin but the balance between letting them run, which was obviously successful the other day, and then now the injury factor; how do you balance that?

“Well, I think with two good athletes like that who from an instinctive point of view maybe run the ball a little bit more than you want depending on what they see down the field in those passing situations, but I think there is a balance. I think we would like to keep creating the runs from the tailback position as much as possible so that we don’t have to put him in harm’s way.”

How much of it is Devin initiating it and how much of it is directed from Doug [Nussmeier]?

“Well, I think he initiates some of it. He has a feel for it, and instinct for it but obviously there were some designed runs that were in there.”

[After THE JUMP: Get out your Ouija board, because we’re (barely) talking injuries]

Comments

Upon Further Review 2014: Defense vs App State

Upon Further Review 2014: Defense vs App State Comment Count

Brian September 3rd, 2014 at 3:22 PM

FORMATION NOTES: They promised it all offseason and they delivered on it:

M 30 slide 2

In your face bro. Note that this was an example of something I started calling "30 slide"*, as the linemen are basically head up on the tackles and center with Frank Clark as a sort of standup end/SAM.

*[The idea being this is a 30 front (three linemen head up on tackles and the center like a 3-4) with three linebackers slid as if they are in an under.]

Another example is even clearer:

M 30 slide

Note that in both of these shots, the three-tech is in fact to the bottom of the screen instead of between Clark and the nose as you might expect. I had not seen this before, because Michigan doesn't run it and they weren't spread enough last year for anyone to do it against them but since Appalachian State also ran it…

ASU 3-3-5 slide

this was in fact their base D probably

…and they are right in the heart of spread on spread warfare I figure it is the latest fad when you need to account for the QB in the run game. I'll get Adam to ask Mattison about it next week—unfortunately, they moved the coordinator pressers up a day so I was not educated on anything before that time came. I'll try to accelerate my UFRing process, something that is now feasible with fast downloads and the lack of TWIS on my plate.

They also of course ran a lot of standard nickel:

morgan-belly-1

Michigan also debuted a weird 3-3-5-ish package with Frank Clark at "MLB":

Clark 3-3-5

This happened twice. On  both plays Clark was running at the frontside guard on the snap, impacted him, blew him back, forced a cutback, and then no one was there. More on that later.

Michigan also played some bonafide dime snaps:

M-dime-press

These had three DL, two linebackers, and six DBs. Generally it was Delonte Holowell getting the extra nickel snaps but that's more in the…

PERSONNEL NOTES: Deep breath. On the line it was Beyer-Henry-Glasgow-Clark to start with copious substitution. Your nominal second string based on playing time was Charlton-Wormley-???-Ojemudia, with the NT ??? a combination of Pipkins, Mone, and Hurst. Pipkins looked by far the best of those guys; I expect that NT rotation to quickly settle down into Glasgow and Pip alternating with scattered snaps elsewhere. Godin got some real PT early at 3-tech.

At linebacker, Ryan, Bolden, and Morgan seemed to get about equivalent PT. Ross got a number of snaps as the game went along as an ILB. IIRC, Jenkins-Stone only saw snaps as a nickel DE late. Gedeon and McCray got in for the last drive.

Michigan played nickel on I think literally every snap they weren't playing dime. That was Peppers spotted by Hollowell and then Hollowell after Peppers got dinged. Taylor and Countess got starters' minutes at outside CB with Lewis coming in frequently; Stribling did not see time until heavy substitution began in the third quarter. Richardson got in there too.

Starting safeties were Wilson and Clark; Thomas got quite a lot of PT starting in the second quarter, with walk-on AJ Pearson seeing the field on ASU's interminable second scoring drive.

And hamburgers: I thought I was done calling people CGordon and TGordon and just realized we have two Clarks. I tried to clarify who was who below; I imagine you can figure it out if I missed a couple.

[After the JUMP: a big table! and some other stuff.]

Comments

Picture Pages: MLB Is About Mitigation

Picture Pages: MLB Is About Mitigation Comment Count

Brian September 3rd, 2014 at 11:39 AM

14900842848_dc3f2803a1_z

Ryan under the microscope [Eric Upchurch]

Hello. As per usual, a game against a tomato can causes me to dig up something negative because I figure that the bad things that happen against weak teams are more likely to recur than the good ones. I'm not being negative, I'm being useful!

After this opening paragraph it may not surprise you that I didn't think Ryan had a particularly good game as Michigan's MLB. There were a couple of opportunities to contrast him with Desmond Morgan on similar plays that didn't come out well for Ryan. To the stillmobile!

Taking on blockers

App State had one drive of any consequence before Michigan started throwing third stringers on the field. That was a 75-yard march on which they ran an old Rodriguez staple, the "belly," repeatedly for good yardage.

Belly is designed to attack the soft underbelly of the backside of a defense facing inside zone. The end gets optioned off and then the goal of the defense is to use the backside DT's natural desire to shoot the gap to the playside against him. This usually sees the backside tackle get a free release on a linebacker on a quick-hitting play. (A quick google search indicates that this is Rodriguez-exclusive terminology, so your local guru's verbiage will vary.)

This was tough for Michigan to defend as aligned because the backside DT saw zone action and went GRRAAAH at it, driving himself way out of the play because he's Willie Henry and he is 1) strong and 2) not yet super disciplined. This put linebackers in bad spots, facing free OL while trying to shut down a ton of space.

Here's Morgan in that situation:

morgan-belly-1

It feels like Michigan is a little misaligned here, with the linebacker shaded to one side against a formation that has no TE.

On the snap Beyer is let go and must respect the keep, so he flows upfield. Henry will get his own momentum used against him and get way out of the play, which I have designated by putting a frown at the end of his line. Morgan has an OT coming at him and a problem.

morgan-belly-2

Beyer plays the mesh point well, inducing a give but forming up near the LOS so he can respond to a handoff. Henry is about to leave.

morgan-belly-3

Here is the the key thing for Morgan on this play: he takes the contact. He in fact initiates the contact despite not having much forward momentum (which it is hard to get on a quick hitting play like belly). He impacts the OL and rocks him back:

morgan-belly-4

Note that the guy next to him is Henry, who is trying to fight back to the play by giving ground. Also note that if Henry was anywhere near where the line would like him to be, Beyer is tackling as people wall up.

The back actually bounces off the OL…

morgan-belly-5

And then a bunch of guys tackle him after six yards.

morgan-belly-6

This is not a good result and I think Morgan's original alignment had something to do with that. He ends up taking the block to the inside instead of square and that gives the back room to the outside when otherwise this could have been a third down coming up. But: tough job in a lot of space. I gave him a half point for slowing down what could otherwise have been bad.

Video:

[After the JUMP: Jake Ryan tries his hand.]

Comments

Of No Importance Whatsoever

Of No Importance Whatsoever Comment Count

Brian September 1st, 2014 at 12:21 PM

8/30/2014 – Michigan 52, Appalachian State 14 – 1-0

15065712176_4d4ef0715c_z

NOBODY TOLD US WE WERE SUPPOSED TO GO THAT WAY LAST YEAR [Fuller]

I watched a lot of football on Saturday. I did not watch Magnolia because my then-girlfriend and current wife thought that her coping mechanism for sadness, which is apparently suffusing yourself in it until your fingers look like you've been in a pool of despair for hours, was applicable to humans. I mean:

200_s[1]

That's what I did seven years ago. I had to turn it off because Magnolia is a movie that is unrelentingly miserable. I did not need additional resources in this department at that time.

I didn't turn anything off on Saturday. I watched twelve hours of football after getting back from Michigan Stadium. The only mention of Michigan's game before insomniac time was one dismissive sentence from Rece Davis, something about how there will not be "another seminal college football moment" this weekend. They didn't even take the opportunity to put gratuitous Funchess on the screen.

The only difference between this game and Michigan's opening-weekend romp over CMU last year: a nation's hope Michigan would blow it again. Once it became clear this would not be the case, a nation forgot the game happened before it had even ended. This was the best possible outcome.

So 1) hooray for the best possible outcome and 2) don't let that change your opinion about whether this was the dumbest scheduling decision in the history of scheduling decisions. The nation knew this about Michigan before Saturday: lol Appalachian State. This is what they know today: lol Appalachian State. On College Football Final their brief treatment of the game gave more time to 2007 than 2013. We are experiencing the maximum possible upside from this game, which is everyone immediately forgetting about it like Michigan was thumping a MAC opponent.

And thank God for that. Michigan eased out to a 21 point lead, and then it was suddenly 42, and at no point did Appalachian State look anything like a secret powerhouse; at no point did Michigan look so utterly clueless that they might blow their immense physical advantages. At no point did I wish I had a cyanide capsule handy.

So: hooray.

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

The one thing worth noting here is that Michigan does seem prepared to deal with the football reality of 2014. Greg Mattison's defense played in the face of the opposition all game long, featuring nickel and dime packages frequently. They shot a safety into the box on most plays. They've got the personnel they need to deal with the spread. Possibly two at once.

Contrast this to 2007, when Johnny Sears started at cornerback in the Horror, with a patently unprepared Stevie Brown at safety. The linebackers available outside of Shawn Crable were Obi Ezeh, Chris Graham, and John Thompson. Michigan spent the entire day with two safeties twelve yards deep like they were playing Peyton Manning, and were surprised when the numbers didn't work out. Their linebackers were two-down thumpers for whom space is a cold vacuum in which death awaits. They barely had one cornerback, let alone a chorus line of them.

A big chunk of my spread zealotry has been the fact that Michigan has made it look unstoppable from the drop. They validated the entire idea against Northwestern and set their program on fire in the Horror and the Post-Apocalyptic Oregon game that followed. Put a running quarterback in front of them and they will die explosively. It's happened far too often the last 15 years for it to be a coincidence.

My primary worry about Brady Hoke is that he's stuck on a vision of 1990s Michigan in a world that's evolved past that. There was no sign of that Saturday. The defense's radical makeover paired with what was not the cram-the-box cro-magnon ball it certainly could have been against this opponent felt a tiny bit like John Beilein overhauling his program to be a man-defense, ball-screen offense juggernaut.

I'm not looking for a juggernaut this year. This is the punch-the-cow-for-butter year in which any yellow semi-solid will do. I proclaim this semi-solid yellow, and thank God for that.

Now let us immediately forget this game ever happened, like everyone else.

Highlights

Parkinggod's usual Michigan-centric one:

And if ten minutes isn't enough here are 20:

Also a guy noticed an eerie parallel between Blake Countess's LOS stick and one from Charles Woodson:

Awards

brady-hoke-epic-double-point_thumb_31[2]Brady Hoke Epic Double Points Of The Week. Yes, points. We're moving this to a hockey-like three stars system.

Michigan racked up 350 first half yards while holding App St to 60 en route to a 35-0 first half lead, so there are many, many candidates. It says here that Devin Funchess gets #1, because good Lord that is an unstoppable freak show.

#2 is Devin Gardner, who was on point with every throw except one, flashed that athletic ability, and stepped up (up!) in the pocket when suffering edge pressure

#3 is split between Kyle Kalis and Ben Braden. Michigan started gashing App St when Kalis replaced Joey Burzynski, with big runs repeatedly coming over the right side of the line.

Honorable mention: Basically the entire defense. There were no particular standouts, though.

Epic Double Point Standings.

3: Devin Funchess (#1, APP)
2: Devin Gardner (#2, APP)
0.5: Kyle Kalis (T3, APP), Ben Braden (T3, APP)

Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week.

For the single individual best moment.

Michigan had gotten a couple of solid 10-20 yard runs from Smith and Green already when Green took the snap on an outside zone and shot downfield untouched by man or beast until 60 yards had elapsed. Runs. We may have them.

Honorable mention: They threw a screen to Norfleet! Any of the variously unstoppable Funchess touchdowns. Hellacious Stiffarm wins by a nose over LOL I'm Tall. Tacosack, hopefully the awesome thumping cousin of Tacopants.

Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.

AppSt: Derrick Green rumbles for 60 yards.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK. That one time Devin Gardner threw way behind a blitheringly open Devin Funchess to prevent him from going 14/14.

Honorable mention: That one drive where the Mountaineers drove the ball on the ground against the second team.

PREVIOUS EPBs

AppSt: Devin Gardner dares to throw an incomplete pass.

[After the JUMP: Funchess! Holes! Teddy KGB!]

Comments

Preview 2014: Defensive Tackle

Preview 2014: Defensive Tackle Comment Count

Brian August 27th, 2014 at 3:52 PM

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

A note before we start: this preview relies heavily on the defensive UFRs of last year because there’s a convenient numerical system that does a decent job of summing up a defensive player’s contributions. One caveat: the system is generous to defensive linemen and harsh to defensive backs, especially cornerbacks. A +4 for a defensive end is just okay; for a cornerback it’s outstanding.

Depth Chart
STRONG DE Yr. NOSE TACKLE Yr. 3-TECH Yr. WEAK DE Yr.
Brennen Beyer Sr. Ryan Glasgow So.*# Willie Henry So.* Frank Clark Sr.
Taco Charlton So. Ondre Pipkins Jr. Chris Wormley So.* Mario Ojemudia Jr.
Henry Poggi Fr.* Maurice Hurst Fr.* Matt Godin So.* Lawrence Marshall Fr.

Depth chart shows everybody just because.

What looked like a sure strength at the beginning of the season degraded gradually and then suddenly; by the end a 285-pound Jibreel Black was trying to hold up against the best rushing attack in the country in the Ohio State game. That could have gone better.

With both projected interior starters gone, that might be time to panic, but actually… Michigan has options here, and talent. Injury and and inexplicable absence contributed heavily to the issues last year. Ondre Pipkins suffered a midseason ACL tear; Quinton Washington was left on the bench for most of the after a breakout turn his junior year, and then didn't play well when he was in the game. Thus the amount of talent they actually have on the field is just about what they had last year plus a year of experience for everyone and the additions of Pipkins and early-enrolling freshman Bryan Mone.

NOSE TACKLE: HOUSE OF GLASGOWS

Rating: 3

brady-hoke-ncaa-football-michigan-spring-game[1]

Glasgow (left) and Mone, one of the many men chasing him.

I'm not exactly sure what we expected at this position. I can guarantee it was not RYAN GLASGOW, he of the rootinest, tootinest clan of walk-ons to ever wander onto Michigan's roster and lock down starting spots down the spine of the team as sophomores. Yes, Glasgow is related to Glasgow and has essentially the same origin story: they were enormous dudes who didn't play football until their last year of high school, and now they're starters.

In Ryan's case this may be nominal and temporary. Nose tackle sees a ton of rotation even in adverse circumstances, and as we're about to detail there are a pile of guys pushing from behind here. And then there is the Pipkins thing: Glasgow may be in front of Pipkins only because it takes a long time for big guys to recover from major injuries.

But he's here. And… uh… he is here. There is obviously no recruiting profile for him. And Glasgow only got sparing snaps a year ago as a redshirt freshman. He didn't do much in those snaps; the only clips I got for him were a couple of times when he got blown up a bit, once dropping to a knee against Akron, once taking the brunt of a Notre Dame double team.

Now, this is not actually out of nowhere. Two years ago this preview specifically noted Glasgow's existence:

And here's a weird one: I've heard that Michigan thinks they have something in walk-on Ryan Glasgow. … It would be a longshot for him to see the field this year, obviously, but he's listed at 294 already and is a guy to keep an eye out for in case that pans out.

As his brother's proven, these guys come with the requisite size and strength for the major level of competition. Meanwhile Glasgow is ahead of a ravenous pack behind. (One that could also include Willie Henry if the coaches were uncertain about nose tackle—Chris Wormley would cope just fine as a starter.) This is a situation in which having the walk-on on top of the depth chart is probably fine. Onfield issues last year don't mean much more than he was a freshman DT. Even the most highly touted guys often struggle their first couple years as their conditioning and technique catch up.

Also positive Sam Webb talked with Mark Smith, his position coach, and Smith went out of his way to bring Glasgow up:

During one interview he interjected with a mention of Glasgow’s name.  At the end he said, "(Glasgow) had an outstanding spring and will compete for a lot of time."

Well Glasgow has continued that strong play from what I hear.  He is without question one of the strongest players in the program (I believe only Pipkins tested out stronger during the spring), he’s huge, Smith described him as a technician, and he has a non-stop motor. Don’t confuse this with the Nate Brink talk of a few years ago. 

Webb's not going to prompt a guy to talk about a walk-on; that's something a coach has to know and think about and make an effort to bring up. Mattison did something similar last year:

Who's pushing Jibreel Black and Quinton Washington?

"Watching the tape, and you look, and all of a sudden Ryan Glasgow, from the three-technique position, makes two tackles on the line of scrimmage all the way down the line the other way. When we stopped it and showed our guys and said, 'Look, this is Glasgow making this play. This is a heck of a job.'"

Webb did mention that part of the reason Glasgow is in front is because Michigan is making every effort to be careful with Pipkins as he returns from ACL surgery, so it may not last. Playing time will; nose has two starters essentially.

So it's fine. If he doesn't perform, he will get yanked. Michigan has…

[After THE JUMP: everybody into the pile! Pipkins deployment, MEAAAAT, OGRE, and more pile.]

Comments

2014 Preview: The X-Factors

2014 Preview: The X-Factors Comment Count

Ace August 5th, 2014 at 2:15 PM


Where to start, really? [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]

In Brady Hoke's fourth year at the helm, Michigan heads into fall camp with far fewer questions about the starting lineup than we're used to hearing this time of year; even the offensive line looks pretty much set, though of course concerns about their ability will follow this team well into the season. Today I'm taking a look at the five players—some penciled in as starters, some not—whose emergence is critical to Michigan's success in 2014, either due to the depth at their position, their potential to become a real difference-maker, or both.

You'll be shocked to see that the list begins with an offensive lineman.

RT Ben Braden

Braden is #1 with a bullet for me. He replaces an NFL draft pick at a critical spot on a line in need of a whole lot of improvement, and the options behind him are very limited. Braden has great potential due to his Lewan-wowing combination of size (6'6", 322 lbs.) and athleticism, but there are also significant concerns—that same Lewan article, from last August, stated the starting left guard spot was Braden's to lose, but even in a season when the guards rotated with alarming frequency he played just two games, both as a reserve.

While it's far too early to say a lineman heading into his redshirt sophomore season has panned out or not, the fact that a true freshman and a 6'1" walk-on—Kyle Bosch and Joey Burzynski, respectively—saw the field over Braden last year is certainly worrisome. Adding to that concern is the depth at tackle this season. If Braden can't lock down his spot at right tackle, the first tackle off the bench looks likely to be another true freshman, Mason Cole, if the spring is any indication. A trio of redshirt freshmen provide depth, but none are close to sure things: Logan Tuley-Tillman likely needs at least another year of development, Chris Fox mostly spent last year rehabbing an ACL tear, and David Dawson seems more suited to guard.

It's true that any of Michigan's O-linemen could be on this list—in fact, there's another later—but Braden's spot in the lineup appears the least certain, and he just happens to be in a spot that could cause a complete reshuffling of the line if he can't hold the job.

NT Ondre Pipkins

There are really four interior defensive linemen that could go here; Willie Henry, Chris Wormley, and Maurice Hurst were under serious consideration, but Henry seems like he'll be at least a passable starter, and the three-tech spot—where Wormley and Hurst are slated to play—doesn't have the same importance as the nose (while boasting more depth on this roster). Also, only one of these guys was a five-star All-American out of high school, and it's Pee Wee Pipkins.

Pipkins is, rather shockingly, already a true junior, and his time to make that five-star impact is quickly running out after he blew out an ACL against Minnesota last year, just as he was showing signs of reaching his potential. He's reportedly fully recovered from that injury, though there's no telling how it'll affect him until he's back playing in actual games. If he's healthy, he could develop into some unholy combination of Gabe Watson and Alan Branch; he could also be the next Will Campbell, and that's without accounting for the potential that he's not fully comfortable on that knee.

While Michigan doesn't necessarily need Pipkins in the starting lineup—Henry can start at the nose next to a three-tech platoon of Wormley/Hurst/others—they need him to be healthy and productive enough to rotate in a good deal, unless Bryan Mone is remarkably ahead of the curve for a true freshman nose tackle. It'd also, of course, be really nice to see the affable Pipkins return to the how-the-hell-is-that-blob-chasing-down-Stefon Diggs form he showed in his standout Army AA Game performance a couple years ago.

WR Amara Darboh

"Today in practice I witnessed the single greatest catch I've ever seen in person." — Devin Gardner

We got a couple tantalizing looks at Darboh before he missed the 2013 season with a foot injury: the amazing catch from a 2012 Outback Bowl practice (right) and a nice deep sideline grab in the 2013 Spring Game. While Jehu Chesson did a solid job as the #3 receiver last year, Darboh was considered the clear leader for that role—really the #2 receiver role at the time, before everyone figured out Devin Funchess was a tight end in name only—and he also garnered more hype as a recruit.

This admittedly isn't an area of significant need for Michigan; Freddy Canteen, Moe Ways, Jaron Dukes, and DaMario Jones provide plenty of depth and talent at receiver.* None of those guys possess the combination of talent, physical development, and knowledge of the offense that Darboh has right now, however, and the capable-of-catching-anything aspect to Darboh's game is something I'd like to see on the field.

Having a sure-handed possession receiver across from Devin Funchess could make Michigan's passing game downright scary, and early in the season it could also help cover for the absence of a receiving threat at tight end while Jake Butt recovers from his ACL injury. Darboh, who's now listed at 6'2", 211 pounds, potentially fits that bill better than anyone on the roster.

*I'd include Drake Harris, too, but he's coming off a lost senior season of high school due to a hamstring injury and he needs to gain weight, so a redshirt hopefully beckons.

RG Kyle Kalis

This should probably be Jake Butt's spot, but I'm going with Kalis here, since he's a five-star talent on a line in need of that, and after one rough year it appears he's been written off by many. I mean, this was in Brian's post-spring 27 Tickets, when he (ever so jinxfully) assumed now-Buckeye Chad Lindsay would transfer from Alabama to Michigan and take over the center spot:

7879940[1]27. G Kyle Bosch, So. [Last time: 25]

Under assumption that Lindsay comes in, Glasgow displaces one of Braden/Bosch/Kalis. Random guess here is that it's Kalis because Bosch should improve more as younger guy but your guess is as good as mine. So is Hoke's.

Kalis was left out of the top 27.

While I realize Kalis underperformed last year, and not all of that can be chalked up to coaching ... well, you all saw the mess on the line, and assigning individual blame for that tire fire is a difficult, if not impossible, endeavor. Kalis was thrust into a starting job as a redshirt freshman, then moved in and out of the lineup as the coaches tried (and failed) to find something that would work—not exactly a recipe for success for a first-year starter regardless of talent.

And boy, does Kalis have talent. Offensive linemen are the toughest prospects to project with much accuracy, but he looked like the surest of sure things out of high school. Many of his issues last year appeared to stem from uncertainty about his assignment; given his freshmandom and the sheer number of schemes Michigan tried to run last year, that's understandable. The simplified, inside zone-centric offense under Doug Nussmeier should suit him well; if he's confident enough in his knowledge of the playbook to stop thinking and starting clobbering, we could see a huge step forward from him this fall.

NICKEL/S/CB Jabrill Peppers

Braden is the #1 X-factor, in my opinion, because of his importance to the team's success this year; if you think of X-factors as players who can make an impact in a number of ways, however, the obvious choice is Peppers. Obviously.

The coaches maintain that they'll start him out at nickel, and he could make a huge difference there as a prototype hybrid space player who's equally adept in coverage and run support. He could very well start from day one at strong safety, the only spot in the secondary with any real uncertainty, and the way Greg Mattison utilized that spot in the Spring Game—aggressively rolling the SS into the box often—is ideally suited for a player like Peppers. He could even challenge Raymon Taylor at boundary corner, though with the rise of Jourdan Lewis the need for Peppers at corner appears less than the two other defensive positions he could play this year.

Personally, I'm hoping that sooner or later he starts at strong safety, where he could bring a level of playmaking Michigan hasn't had back there since... uh... let's go with "a while ago." I don't believe the coaches will ask Peppers to make an impact on offense this year, but special teams is another story—his potential as a return man is massive, and I have a hard time believing the coaches won't try to get the ball in his hands one way or another.

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Unverified Voracity Is Wearing Grandpa's Jacket

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Brian July 31st, 2014 at 4:05 PM

Pelini forever. The day that Bo Pelini ceases being a Big Ten coach is going to be a sad one.

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He screams like a lunatic, he makes jokes about his cat, he wears… that… and looks like he believes the camera is taking a piece of his soul with it. Joke's on you, camera! Ain't got no soul, he thinks. Oh and his offense is kind of a looney tunes spread triple option thing that is both modern and very Nebraska. I only wish he was still in our football conference.

Always the best thing out of media days. Mike Spath's anonymous chatter articles are quality as always and the defense one is free. An opponent on the tao of Countess:

"I thought Blake Countess was tough to play against. He's not real physical but he's one of those guys that knows what he does well and what he doesn't. And he sort of lulled us to sleep. We kept thinking that we could go at him and I think that's what he wanted because he stepped in front of two balls, picked one, and we didn't throw at him very much after that."

Countess had INTs against Minnesota, Iowa, and OSU last year, FWIW. The offense is paywalled, but I have to quote this bit:

"They were one of those teams that were tough to prepare for and not tough at the same time because they did so many different things. We had a lot of guys watching a lot more film the week before because they could run 75 different plays in the same game, but I think what stood out was that they didn't have an identity and they never had go-to plays so if you just played sound, technique-strong football, you were OK."

And that had a lot to do with Michigan's ups and downs. OSU did not play anything approximating sound football in their secondary last year and Michigan ate them up; Iowa is nothing but sound cover two and Michigan could do nothing.

The overall theme of that latter one is that opposing teams have a hell of a lot of respect for Devin Gardner since he did not die last year.

You could knock me down with a feather right now. Shock and alarm at unexpected news:

"Going in (to camp, there will be competition between Devin Gardner and Shane Morris)," Hoke said during his appearance on "Numbers Never Lie." "We've got great competition. (But) if we opened the season today, Devin would start for the Wolverines."

I will personally fight anyone* who sends me an email about whether Morris should start.

*[Offer not valid unless you are Ellen Degeneres.]

Ready to go. Ondre Pipkins is cleared and even more importantly, is apparently fit.

"He's done a nice job, he's made a lot of progress and he's passed the conditioning test and all those things," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said this week. "We'll probably be smart with him as we move forward, you know, especially on two-a-days.

"We'll (watch his) reps and those things. But he's cleared and ready to go."

Figuratively and literally massive for the defense. Article notes that Willie Henry is slated to compete with Pipkins at nose, but I'm hoping they figure out that they can start both those guys. We'll see.

'96 Colorado. I missed this game; remember sitting in a car listening to the end of it just terrified about the Hail Mary.

Well, no. No we do not. Hoke on the opener:

He didn't do it.

LEMON UPDATE. Aw man I am going to have to find like a video crew and a roaring fireplace.

Junior linebacker Joe Bolden was named the 2014 Meyer Morton Award winner. The Morton Award is given to the player who "shows the greatest development and most promise as a result of the annual spring practice."

Jarrod Wilson and Chris Wormley also pulled in awards.

The plan. After experimenting with Graham Glasgow at tackle it seems like Michigan is going to leave him at center:

When fall camp opens Sunday, though, Hoke says Glasgow -- who is suspended for the season-opener against Appalachian State due to an offseason drunken driving arrest -- will begin where he ended last year. At center, and likely with the first team.

"I would say he could (be with the starters at center) early in camp but then you’ve got to develop others," Hoke said this week at Big Ten media days in Chicago. "This is why, when you make decisions that don’t help the team, you find out how you hurt the team.”

If Glasgow does move that says more about Ben Braden than anyone else. That is an outcome I don't want to see, as that would be a major strike against a player who was hyped up as a physical marvel by many people a year ago.

It also sounds like the current plan is to leave Cole at left tackle for this year to provide a backup there. Tuley-Tillman and Fox are both likely to need another year before putting them on the field would be anything other than a major problem.

The rehab. Ondre Pipkins is cleared to practice at the start of fall camp

It could be worse, everyone! Man, Illinois fans are grasping at straws:

Tim Beckman came into this morning's press conference after a long bowl game-less winter and a 4-8 season record with only one conference win. But something was noticeably different about his speech this time. He finally seemed comfortable and confident at the podium.

… he hardly pauses or stumbles for the right words. His "uhs" and "ums" are fewer and farther between than in the past. He came off as a true leader and respectable speaker.

Well, I know that our coach starts every sentence with "well" and is not exactly Steve Spurrier. But there's going to be a post this year on an Illinois blog that says "we may have lost by sixty points but it seems like Tim Beckmann's dressing himself these days, so things are really coming along for us."

Unfortunate for Northwestern. Projected starting corner Daniel Jones is forced to retire thanks to injuries. Corner being the Wildcats' achilles heel since it ceased being "the whole team," that bodes unwell for the Wildcats and better for Michigan. Jones was lost for the year in the opener, so this is more Northwestern not getting that guy back than anything else.

The Daily makes the Daily show. You gotta put it in your click hole, nerds.

The most correct thing. This isn't relevant to anything but it is the most correct thing that's ever been said:

I spent five days in Las Vegas by myself earlier this month. If that sounds like your idea of paradise, let me stop you right there, because you’re wrong. Even though I know nothing about you, I’m fairly certain that five days alone in Vegas is enough to make anybody rethink their life. Five days in Vegas with friends or family is still probably four days too many, but being alone in Vegas is like finding out halfway through a party that you were invited by mistake. Everyone is having the time of their lives around you, and even though you were excited when you arrived, you’re just off to the side wondering what you’re doing there.

As someone who spent a week in Vegas by myself*, this is so accurate. I eventually just spent the money for wifi (this was back when wifi still cost money at hotels) and sat in my hotel room because being alone by yourself is so much more tolerable than being alone around everyone. Vegas by yourself: horrible.

The rest of this article is an entertaining Mark Titus piece on attending an NBA scout "school" and finding out just how horrible that job is. So it's sports! On topic!  (Not on topic.)

*[Qualified for the WSOP during the heyday of online poker and couldn't hector any of my friends into railbirding me. WSOP was very large that year so there were four separate Day 1s for a quarter of the field and two Day 2s.]

Etc.: Arian Foster gives classic 'Sheed interview. 1985 Big Ten commercial might as well be from 1685. BHGP sent a horse to Big Ten Media Days. This is legit you guys. Hooray Michelle Beadle. Michigan unranked in opening coaches' poll.

Big Ten coaches really like the word "think." Derrick Walton transitioning away from being just a shooter. I found the only Penn State fan that doesn't loathe us with the fury of a thousand suns.

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