[Ed. A- These are all conducted as huddles, so transcripts aren’t complete. Ellipses indicate a break in a line of questioning.]
How has [O’Korn] bounced back in the last 36 hours, whether it’s in the meeting room or meals?
“He’s bounced back his whole college career. He was a great player down in Houston and some things happened and he was forced to move on from there and he’s been waiting for his shot the past few years, so he’s been really battling his whole college career. I like that because that gives him some edge and I’m looking forward to getting this week in with him and seeing what he can do.”
What was his demeanor like after the game and yesterday preparing for Indiana?
“Well, we haven’t really prepared for Indiana yet. That’s what today’s for. Yesterday was more of an off day just to relax but he’s the same guy he is. We’re going to get back after it. We’re going to come back stronger.”
What do you think the biggest problems are on offense?
“I wouldn’t single out just any certain problems. I think football is, if not the most team game there is—11 people have to be doing 11 things correctly at a time so it’s on all of us. We all have to be operating smoothly for it to work.”
What’s been going through your mind since Saturday?
“I wanted that one badly. I wanted to get the trophy, to beat Michigan State, but it is what it is. We took one on the chin but we’ve got to get over that, 24 hour rule, and get ready for Indiana.”
[After THE JUMP: Patrick Kugler and Josh Metellus]
SPONSOR NOTES. Just recommended HomeSure Lending to a friend and it's weird that I have to say "you should know this guy sponsors us," because I actually would recommend Matt even if that was not the case because when we refi-ed our house I had quotes for various mortgage lengths very very quickly. The deal was done in a flash.
But yeah like he does sponsor us, which is even better. It's nice to have sponsors you can actually recommend with a clear conscience, especially because they have never paid a dime to the Larry Culpepper guy.
FORMATION NOTES. Air Force runs a 3-4, but it's not like that. Whereas your conventional 3-4 has big guys who two-gap, Air Force has little guys. It's a one-gap 3-4, if you will.
The NT almost always shaded between the C and G in a one tech, with four linebackers in the traditional 3-4 umbrella. Sometimes head up with the same umbrella, and check those safeties on first and freakin' ten:
Now, there are a ton of very obvious ways in which this is not at all the 3-3-5 stack Michigan runs. Air Force doesn't stack their linebackers, for one. They rarely insert an OLB between their DEs as anything other than a twist blitz; Michigan is constantly making Furbush an extra DL. AF just about always shaded their NT instead of running a zero-tech, and they had a clear weakside and strongside end, with the strongside end basically a DT. Michigan's DEs have run identical techniques for the duration of the season. Also there is not a withdrawn MLB like Bush; instead two ILBs.
These are the ways in which Michigan's defense is not at all like Air Force's, which is a one-gap 3-4.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES. The regular at QB and OL. Onwenu got pulled for the last three plays of the final drive, with Runyan coming in. Isaac was the starting RB and got the bulk of the work; Evans was pulled after his fumble until late, when Isaac went out with a minor injury. Mason one snap at FB, with the seniors going the rest of the way.
WR was Black, Crawford, and DPJ outside with cameos from Schoenle on running plays. That's getting into a major play tip zone, though Black's injury might change that. Perry got most of the run in the slot; McDoom had maybe a dozen snaps, and not all were jet stuff.
Tight end was the usual rotation of everyone, minus Wheatley. He had a ding that held him out. Also I might not have seen Eubanks? I don't think I saw Eubanks. Bunting is losing ground, BTW, to McKeon and Gentry.
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.
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.”
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]
SPONSOR NOTE: After we did WTKA today Craig Ross told me that he was in a mediation and for some reason they needed data on a refinance. "What the hell," Craig said, and called Matt. 15 minutes later he had a term sheet and his clients were looking at him like he had some crazy connection in the mortgage industry.
Do you like feeling like a big shot in mediations? Or maybe just your own home, wearing or not wearing pants as you choose, on your own, because you are you and nobody else can tell you what to put on your legs? Homesure Lending can do that.
FORMATION NOTES: uh i forgot to take clips just a sec
There wasn't anything too weird except a few tackle over plays. There was an increase in WR snaps. Michigan averaged 2.1 WRs, 1.4 TEs, and 1.5 RBs per snap. Before the 22-personnel heavy fourth quarter Michigan had 2.3 WRs per snap.
PERSONNEL NOTES: QB was Speight with those two O'Korn drives. RB was Evans primarily, then Isaac, then Higdon, and that's it. FB seemed about evenly split between Poggi and Hill.
OL was Cole-Bredeson-Kugler-Onwenu-Ulizio the whole way except for one brief drive where Runyan replaced Onwenu.
WR was fairly diverse. Black, Crawford, and Perry led the way. DPJ, Ways, and McDoom got scattered snaps behind the starters. TE seemed split almost evenly between McKeon, Wheatley, Bunting, Gentry, and Eubanks. Those snaps are probably in descending order.
Coach, could you talk about how Patrick Kugler did in his first start?
“Yeah, he did outstanding. He graded out the highest of all offensive linemen. Just very effective. Really, really happy with the way the offensive line played. Pat played his best game.”
In addition to the offensive line, what were the things on the offensive side of the ball that jumped out on video that you liked?
“The run game. Liked our pass protections. Liked in the passing game we hit big plays. We executed at times very well. The play action was extremely good. And we moved the ball. We were able to move and score points. Feel like we turned some of those red-zone field goals into touchdowns and you score 40, 45+ points.”
Obviously every game plays out differently but with the way Isaac succeeded, do you try to get the ball in his hands more going forward?
“Well, we were. I mean, that was the plan going into the game as well. He had a terrific game. He’s going to be our offensive player of the week. Really got us going on some off-schedule third-down runs. He played brilliantly and really happy for him.
“Chris [Evans] as well had good runs and so did Karan Higdon. We really felt good about those three backs in the ball game and we continue to feel good about them coming out of the ball game and going forward.”
Chase said on Saturday that forced fumble for him was a culmination of a lifetime of work. What’s impressed you most about him and his progression there after bouncing around from position to position earlier in his career?
“The motor. His energy, his effort…fast. It’s the speed at which he does it and he’s a strong player. Speed and strength, those are huge in football, as a team and as an individual player. Combine that with his get-up-and-go, his motor, his gung-ho attitude: all is a great combination for a football player.”
[After THE JUMP: running off-schedule, the starting QB, and offensive line…hype?]
[Ed. note: Newsome is actually a true junior but we are assuming he redshirts this season so the listed year is more accurate spiritually. Also Paea is probably a DT this year but I ran out of OL anyone's heard of.]
Michigan lost three starters to graduation and will be without left tackle Grant Newsome after his scary injury midway through last season. And… eh. By the time the graduated had played out their eligibility it was clear that there wasn't much anyone could do to turn them into a crew of firebreathers. Ben Braden (-9.4 to PFF) was willing but the very definition of stiff. Kyle Kalis(-6.3) was a missed assignment machine to the last. Erik Magnuson(+9.1) was a solid player but never an impactful one. None were drafted, and they collectively plateaued three years ago:
Adj Line Yards
Adj Sack Rate
Advanced line stats are a bit wonky because they also depend on the running back and style of offense, but the whole set tells a story. That story: mediocre players hitting their ceiling.
At some point it was clear they were playing mostly because Michigan didn't have any alternatives. When Newsome went out there was a brief dalliance with Juwann Bushell-Beatty at left tackle that went so poorly that Michigan flipped Braden out and brought in a true freshman in his stead. Everyone else other than Patrick Kugler, who was stuck behind Mason Cole, was some flavor of freshman as well.
So, they're gone and the replacements are incapable of voting. It's the end of the Hoke as we know it, and I feel fine. Except about the Newsome thing. That sucks.
TACKLE: COLE AND THE RANDOS
there and back again [Eric Upchurch]
Last year MASON COLE moved to center because it was clear he was not a tackle. This year he returns to tackle because it's clear nobody else is.
Despite the somewhat awkward fit with Cole's body type, this foray should be mostly successful. At tackle, Cole was a near-elite run blocker, capable of overpowering and outmaneuvering defensive ends and linebackers. At center Cole's lack of oomph left him vulnerable to planet-sized nose tackles he couldn't move and gents like Malik McDowell who just wanted to bulldoze him.
Cole was better at the mental aspects of being a center. At the same time he was getting plowed by McDowell he was instrumental when MSU turned to their double A gap twist blitz. That blitz bedeviled Michigan for years under less competent coaches; Cole (and Harbaugh) throttled it:
The trademark MSU defensive playcall was comprehensively beaten. Finally. All of these plays feature the extreme aggression of the MSU linebackers being used against them, something that Michigan hasn't been able to do in forever. Can't block 'em? Run right by 'em.
The line just about maintained its very good adjusted sack rate with Cole at center despite suffering an injury to Newsome they simply could not afford. A large part of that goes back to Cole's ability to make the line calls. Bredeson's freshman biffs aren't on Cole's ability to organize, and Michigan was pretty dang organized in pass pro:
Zone running not so much, but more about that in Five Question and Five Answers. Michigan's frustrating inability to identify first level blocks on stretch plays all but removed those from the offense, so we never got to see if Cole could get his David Molk on. Getting a reach block is really hard and really good if you manage it and Cole had some promising upside in that department that never came to fruition.
[After THE JUMP: LARGE ADULT SONS, except not quite adult.]
“Good. It’s been good. We had a good day. Our guys had more energy and were moving around better; [they] had a bounce in their step. This’ll be a big weekend. This is—guys are going to get done with training, get into playing positions. It’s a big weekend for it because we start making those two-deep rosters soon. Train’s already left the station and it’s picking up steam.”
Are you going to give us those two-deeps?
“Uh…no, I didn’t say that.”
You said 8-15 practices for the quarterbacks to--
Has anybody stepped up? Is it still a three-horse race or a two-horse race?
“Yeah, John [O’Korn] and Wilton [Speight] have really stepped up. I think they’ve created a little bit of separation and they’re battling now. It’s going one with the ones and the next day the other’s with the ones and the other’s with the twos. We’re keeping a very close eye on it and it’s progressing well.”
Pep said the other day that one of the things he really likes [QBs to have] is command of the offense. As a former quarterback, what does that mean to you when somebody says they have command of the offense?
“Well, it’s just a process of knowing where all your players are and figuring out what the defense is trying to do to you or take away or give you or where they’re more vulnerable, being able to move the team in and out of the huddle, and make reminders is always another one.
“If a guy has good command of the offense he’ll be able to give other guys reminders, the running back or the fullback or a wide receiver or a tight end. He’s got it on the tip of his tongue and he just knows it cold; that’s having command of the offense.”
Is that the kind of thing that Brandon [Peters] has to do to get back to the same level as John and Wilton?
“Yeah, I mean, it’s just a process for him. He’s competing hard and doing good. Not to say that it’s set in stone right now. I think that the two guys have really created a little bit of separation.”
[After THE JUMP: right side of the line, the unblockables, young guys likely to contribute, and more]
Sponsor note! If you're headed down to Dallas for the Florida game, the alumni association has packages that may be of interest. The star: an air-conditioned, open bar tailgate with adjacent parking. They've got various packages available, including a ticket + tailgate combo ($300 for adults) and a travel package with two nights at the Omni Forth Worth, transportation, tickets, and the tailgate for $799. The deadline for that is the end of the month.
That's from Connelly's comprehensive preview of this year's edition of Michigan. It's good, read it. S&P+ projects Michigan 10th nationally but has them just on the wrong side of 10-2 versus 9-3.
I have but one semi-quibble: as he runs down the many departures from last year's team he notes that three all-conference OL are gone. This is somehow true—both Kyle Kalis and Ben Braden made the second team—but that's an artifact of the All Big Ten coach's selections being the SID's selections and their long tenure as senior starters on a good team. A more accurate measure of the departed players' prowess is that none of them got drafted, or even invited to the combine. I think most Michigan fans are expecting a step forward on the OL despite the departures. (As long as right tackle isn't a disaster.)
"This year has been a lot more serious," Kugler said. "We've been getting out there and putting in the work. We'll hit the sleds occasionally but that's more for fall camp. It's about getting the technique down properly and just running through blitz cards and stuff like that, getting ready to for what we'll see against Florida."
The level of seriousness is not dependent on Jim Harbaugh, that's for sure. In the offseason it's up to the players to do it themselves, and apparently this is another level from the guys who were more Hoke holdovers than not.
"Rashan's going to be one of the best players in the country, going up against him in practice every day is only going to help everyone -- he's the measuring stick for everyone here," offensive lineman Jon Runyan Jr. says. "He'll do this thing off the edge, they call it speed-to-power. You think he's just speed rushing you and then he comes through with a bull rush and he blows you back five yards."
Through three NBA Summer League games in Las Vegas, Wilson is averaging 14.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 blocks in 27.7 minutes per game. Draining 5 of 13 3-pointers, throwing down dunks and guarding multiple positions, the 6-foot-10 forward has made a strong first impression with his new franchise.
"He's a specimen," said Milwaukee guard and 2017 NBA Rookie of the Year winner Malcolm Brogdon. "He's big, he's athletic. Very skilled. I really like him, I think he's going to be really, really good for us."
He also signed a contract worth six million dollars, so he's got that going for him.
C.J. Watson is a candidate to be cut soon (his contract becomes guaranteed on July 10) and the Magic are likely shopping D.J. Augustin’s contract, so it is possible there will be an opportunity for Walton, although the recent acquisition of point guard Shelvin Mack complicates the logistics.
If the Magic indeed move Watson and Augustin, Walton would conceivably have a chance at a job as the third point guard on the Magic behind Shelvin Mack and starter Elfrid Payton (although Kalin Lucas of the Erie Bayhawks, the Magic’s G-League affiliate, might have something to say about that).
Walton isn't an NBA athlete unless he's going for a defensive rebound, but efficient pull-up three maestros can find a spot in the league despite other deficiencies. Hopefully he sticks. If not he can be a star in Europe.
More on Josh Norris. NHL gent scouting Josh Norris after his participation at the San Jose Sharks summer camp:
"One of those guys when they're first skating around, the first five minutes, you go, 'He can move,' " Sommer said. "And a lot of guys are like that, and then you put a puck on their stick and they slow down, but he skates the same way with a puck that he does without a puck. You can just tell he's like kind of above everyone else with his skill level."
Fun fact: he spent seven years in Germany growing up because his dad was playing and then acting as general manager for a German team. He's fluent in German.
There's no way this is what it seems like. I find this hilarious since Detroit City's motto is nigh literally "fuck you", but if you think about it for a half second it's probably not what it seems like:
Gores' Palace Sports files federal trademark for 'Detroit City Soccer Club'
I am not a lawyer but it beggars belief that DCSC would not be found to violate DCFC's trademarks. Same city, same undertaking, same name save one word that is a synonym. If it means anything—and it probably doesn't—it means Gilbert and Gores are covering their bases in case they buy DCFC. Or they're just trolling the supremely trollable DCFC fanbase.
Gilbert pledges to build a 520 million dollar jail plus a bunch of other related stuff on East Forest avenue. Cost to the city: 380 million, with Rock responsible for any overruns.
There is a competing bid to complete the fail jail for 320 million, with no cost overrun assurances. It also appears to be a more modest project that only completes the jail without the various other stuff.
Gilbert makes up the 140 million dollar gap by getting the current fail jail site, where he and Gores want to build a billion-dollar stadium and mixed used blah blah blah.
Gilbert also gets "credits" for the savings that the city forecasts as a result of combining all the criminal justice things into one campus.
The jail was suspended after a whopping 91 million dollars of overruns on a project supposed to cost 220 million total. Meanwhile the city has been spending over a million dollars a month to maintain the existing construction site.
This is a very weird stadium deal and that makes it difficult to evaluate whether or not this qualifies as a public subsidy. The 520 million number may be largely fictional, in which case the Rock deal is the city paying 60 million + whatever the land is worth. It may be real, in which case it looks fairly even. The pledge to pay for overruns could be worth nothing, or it could be worth a hundred million dollars. These "credits" are loosely defined but appear to be a way for Rock to get back some of the gap between what the county will pay up front and their projected cost for the complex. They're kind of like property tax reductions cities will offer brownfield developments.
Shifting the downside away from the city is an attractive proposition after the previous debacle. And while stadium economic impact studies are without fail overblown hoo-haw, "jail plus nothing" is worse than "jail plus soccer stadium and condos and whatnot."
If Gilbert and Gores do get the deal done, Detroit will become a highly attractive target for MLS. The ownership group consists of billionaires. The market is large and there are many nearby rivals. Detroit has a lot of immigrants to appeal to and is generally an excellent pro sports town—people still go to Lions games! And one by one other cities are finding it difficult to bring together bids without public support that is not forthcoming. Previous heavy favorites St. Louis and San Diego are all but out of the running after votes failed. Ditto Charlotte and Indianapolis. Remaining realistic locations other than Detroit are Sacramento (the one bid that is shovel ready right now), Phoenix, Tampa, Cincinnati, Nashville, and San Antonio. Four bids will get approved; all bids other than Sacramento have hurdles to clear.
SPONSOR NOTES: We have determined that if the Iowa game goes badly user Sauce Castillois the person to blame. This because it is not our fault, and it certainly isn't our lovely sponsor Matt's fault. We are going thanks to Matt, you see, and last time we did a blog road trip it ended… unwell. But that won't happen this time. Unless Sauce Castillo screws it up again.
In addition to being a gentleman replete with Michigan tickets, he is also a good man to know if you need a mortgage. It's striking that we actually get non-astroturfed comments about positive experiences with Matt not infrequently.
FORMATION NOTES: There wasn't anything worth screenshotting as unusual. Here is a picture of how this game went.
PERSONNEL NOTES: Speight was your QB until the last three drives when things went O'Korn-Morris-Malzone. The RB depth chart looked to be Smith-Isaac-Evans-Higdon-Davis, with Isaac and Evans getting the bulk of the work once Smith's rib issue sent him to the bench. Poggi (15 snaps) and Hill (21) split things about down the middle at FB.
No surprises at WR, and the lack of passing cut into opportunities to see guys down the depth chart. McDoom may have passed Drake Harris? Way too early to tell. Nate Johnson was about the only guy who surprisingly didn't play, FWIW.
At TE it was all Butt and Bunting early. Wheatley and Asiasi didn't get snaps until the second half, I believe. Those two and McKeon all got around 15.
OL was Newsome-Bredeson/Kugler-Cole-Kalis-Magnuson, with Kugler getting the first and third quarters while Bredeson had the second and fourth. The second team line was JBB-Bredeson-Kugler-Onwenu-Ulizio. With Kugler on both lines he actually got 59 snaps, more than anyone else on either side of the ball. FWIW, Michigan left Newsome out for one drive after the established players left w JBB at RT and Ulizio on the bench.
Harbaugh has thrown the doors open down in Florida. There is a pile of stuff. So much stuff. Even before the open practice at 5PM today, there is so much stuff. Let's talk things and stuff.
First: yes, this is just technique work and mostly unpadded at that. Takes have largely been about throwing, catching, and defending said throws—there's not much you can take away on either line thus far. Oh and one other thing.
Jabrill Peppers, Linebacker
After @JabrillPeppers' heat in 30 yard speed drills he said , "your SAM backer is the fastest guy on the team! How does that feel?!" Lol
The most meaningful thing from the first few spring practices is the apparent move of Jabrill Peppers to strongside linebacker. Or, as they called it last year, "hybrid linebacker." While the nomenclature has changed it doesn't seem like a whole lot else has:
Through the first two days of camp, Peppers has played in the box almost exclusively. He's spent most of his time blitzing, supporting the run and covering tight ends underneath during 11 on 11 drills. In 7 on 7 workouts, he's drifted out to cover slot receivers, but he's never far away from the line of scrimmage.
That's more or less what Michigan did with him a year ago. The exception: against certain two-WR sets Peppers would slide out to boundary cornerback. Last year Don Brown rode with 6'1", 218-pound Matt Milano as his SAM, and all that dude did was lead the team in TFLs with 17.5 and add 6.5 sacks. Peppers is likely to be around that size, if a hair shorter, and obviously brings much more athleticism to the table. (I have no idea how athletic Matt Milano is. I am still comfortable making that assumption.)
Wolverine Devotee put together an every snap video from the BC-FSU game last year; Milano is 28. You'll see him lined up as an actual linebacker against heavier formations and often over the slot in lighter ones:
How does this change what everyone else does? One thing it likely signals is that the days where Michigan lined up a safety 15 yards back are over. To get away with the kind of light linebackers Brown favors you need to have all eleven guys potentially involved in the run game. You can expect Michigan to run "over" fronts most of the time, but that's not a change.
It also puts more pressure on the safeties to be able to defend man to man. Ian Boyd noted that the "ability of [BC] safeties to play deep overage is probably the strongest point" of Don Brown's most recent defense. I'm a bit leery of that given what we saw from Michigan last year—neither Delano Hill or Dymonte Thomas did a great job in those situations—but at least Thomas is fast enough to prevent a quick six points if he gets soloed up on a slot and things go badly for M.
Going forward, Tyree Kinnel will be very important. He entered Michigan with a reputation as a CB/S hybrid and that's exactly what Brown wants from his safeties.
The other SAM
we only have one Furbush picture so you might want to settle in with this shot [Patrick Barron]
Peppers finished last season with 45 tackles and 10 pass break ups. But this year, along with Noah Furbush, Peppers will be focusing more on playing SAM linebacker says Brown.
“Between Furbush and (Peppers), I think we can put those two guys together and create some dynamic ability out of that position. That’s what you are searching for,” said Brown.
Furbush is obviously a very different player than Peppers, and that might give you an indication of what Michigan is going to do when they do catch an Iowa or a Wisconsin. If Furbush fills out this year—his weight has been an ongoing mystery—he brings a lot more in the tight-end-whacking category than Peppers; meanwhile Michigan can move Peppers to CB or safety… or save some snaps in an effort to use him more on offense.
He is all of 240 pounds and can still move as well as he did when he was 215. … If things go according to what looks to be the plan, expect to see Winovich playing standing up at times, and with his hand in the dirt at others. His non-stop motor and reckless abandon should help him when it comes to getting after opposing quarterbacks.
I'm not sure where Jake Ryan 2.0 fits in a Don Brown defense but am willing to find out.
While nobody is tipping their hand I continue to believe that Zach Gentry moving to tight end is a dead giveaway that John O'Korn is the guy and authoritatively so. Baumgardner:
When forced to throw the ball in traffic, O'Korn's accuracy was just more consistent. It wasn't perfect, but his touch was better and his ability to deliver throws on time looked superior to what we saw from Wilton Speight or Shane Morris.
That's probably not a shocker to anyone. But it was notable. The deep ball will be a work in progress for O'Korn and his wideouts, and it's still important to note that Jehu Chesson is still rehabbing an injury. But Jake Butt still catches everything underneath, and Amara Darboh can still haul in most anything thrown in his area. O'Korn is figuring that out.
Webb noted that O'Korn is "unquestionably the most athletic" of the QBs, which is a nice physical intangible to have at 6'4". Speight and Malzone come in for mentions as well; Morris was probably at the other split squad practice so don't run to the hills with the news that he gone.
The hyped recruit has impressed as well. Brandon Peters was singled out by Harbaugh in a press conference after day two. Baumgardner made an effort to check him out during the brief time the media got to see him—he's been practicing mostly during the closed bit of Michigan's practices:
The main thing here: He's smooth and natural. When I spoke with a few scouts and analysts about Peters last summer, the first thing they all raved about was how he's nowhere near his potential. …
I've seen a lot of freshmen quarterbacks enter a program over the years and just look absolutely lost or panicked. Their feet are all over the place. They're throwing the thing as hard as they can on every rep. They're overwhelmed, basically.
Peters is far from a finished product, but he's not overwhelmed. That much is clear.
Here's hoping for two years of this kind of chatter before an epic showdown between Peters, McCaffrey, and whoever else survives the winnowing.
Ian Bunting didn’t have as good a day as Jake Butt, but he was close. The redshirt sophomore has terrific hands and showed trait on the play of the day. Bunting ran a skinny post. Coverage was decent, giving Alex Malzone a tight window to throw in. He fired a rope a little out front of his intended target where only Bunting had a shot. The ball was on him so quick that he only had time to extend one hand, but that was all he need to haul in the pass. He did so in stride and sprinted to the endzone to a series of oohs and aahs. It was his best play but definitely not the only one.
Also in there are takes on Wheatley (looking promising in the AJ Williams role, probably still needs to drop a little weight) and Gentry (upside, but needs time). Webb revisited Bunting after practice yesterday, asserting that he "looks like a guy poised to have a breakout season" because he is now blasting through linebackers on his routes and boxing them out. Here's to Ol' Skillet Hands making good on ridiculous MGoBlog hype.
Jake Butt is Jake Butt: he should win the dang Mackey this year.
"He's a big-bodied guy who can move people off the ball and when he goes out to run a pattern, he can work a guy," Michigan offensive coordinator Tim Drevno said Thursday. "Those short routes by the tight ends are kind of like (playing underneath) in basketball. He's a big target, put the ball (wherever) and he can run with it."
Michigan has an obvious hole to fill at inline tight end with Williams's departure and Hill's move to fullback. Wheatley is unusually well suited to fill that hole despite being a redshirt freshman. Meanwhile, Michigan "never seriously considered moving him" over the offseason despite rumors to that effect.
Zach Gentry "needs to add weight… a lot of it" per Webb; I think everyone's expectation is that he'll have to spend a year getting used to the position before issuing a serious challenge for playing time.
It's a creepy super slow mo video in which he loses a slant route to Reon Dawson, so maybe he won't break through immediately. Baumgardner says he's "pretty raw" and that was indeed his reputation as a recruit. He's likely to sit on the shelf a bit as he matures.
I kind of expected Channing Stribling to fade a bit as Jeremy Clark continued familiarizing himself with corner, but Webb's talked him up a few times:
Stribling continues to make plays against everyone except Amara darboh. Darboh having his way all week
He has made some really acrobatic plays. At the same time he has given up a few plays. Darboh has been particularly troublesome due to his superior strength and great route technique. Stribling also gave up the aforementioned deep ball to Harris, but again, he made many more plays than he gave up during the time the media was at practice.
Jourdan Lewis was his vintage self. I noticed one ball caught on him (a comeback route by Amara Darboh. He seemed to bait John O’Korn into a bad throw on one occasion. After taking away his man on a short route he began drifting back into the secondary and picked off O’Korn’s attempt to complete an out cut (sounded like Jedd Fisch said he should’ve thrown it sooner).
Not much more than the occasional mention of Clark and others. Still expect Clark to contribute extensively.
Ryan Glasgow and Jehu Chesson are still working out on the sidelines, as injuries are slowing them down. Neither is much of a surprise, but one name amongst the guys who aren't full go does worry: Wyatt Shallman was once again on the side after being full-go in the first practice. Guy cannot get healthy.
In happier news, both Bryan Mone and Mike McCray have been full-go. McCray's status is of particular note since last year he made some ominous noises about his long-term future. Also he is a linebacker, and Michigan needs some of those. Here is a positive noise about McCray that we will all dearly wish is true despite the fact they aren't in pads yet:
“He looks really good out here,” said Lewis. “He is probably one of the guys we look up to as the guy that should step up this year at that linebacker position. I’m excited for Mike. He has great upside.”
Getting a healthy McCray back is huge for Michigan.
Nick Baumgardner with the depth chart nerd assist:
Second-team OL (best I can figure): LT Bushell-Beatty, LG Dawson, C Kugler, RG Runyan, RT Ulizio
That is more or less as expected without Blake Bars. Those guys are in fact the only other scholarship OL on the roster until this year's class arrives in fall.
Baumgardner also caught the fact that in the second half of practice, after the third and fourth stringers left, the only OL to remain other than the starters was Kugler. Given Cole's versatility I would expect Kugler to be the guy who enters on any injury, and if there's going to be a shakeup to the expected starting five it would be Kugler pushing through at C such that Cole displaces a returning starter.
in 2015 U-M ran a 4-3 defense that played a ton of man coverage on the outside.
That’s still the plan in 2016, however, with a little twist says Brown.
“We’ll start with the four down (lineman) scheme, but we are not exclusively that,” Brown said. “We’ll do it all. We’ll play a lot of man (coverage) tight. But we will also play some other things. That’s the new piece. And that’s the learning piece.”
There will be more linebacker blitzing. Probably a lot more—Durkin had a five-man pressure he liked to run a lot but instances of true maniacal blitzing were very rare.
“That was new,” Harbaugh said. “More one on one coaching for reps for each guy. The rule is no player can practice more than four hours, which every player practiced for four hours and had a nice little overlap there. Coaches had a six-hour day, but it just flew by. Just felt like it flew by. Logic is pretty simple there to understand. More coaching and more football for everybody.”
Indeed it is but it's also another example of Harbaugh figuring out ways to get maximum efficiency from the allotted rules.
And we have a first name for Pratt Just Pratt:
Another player that has been working out on the side is 6-5, 268 lb. sophomore offensive lineman Logan Pratt. This is noteworthy only because Pratt is one of the most impressive looking walk-ons I’ve ever seen.