Unverified Voracity Gets Previewed

Unverified Voracity Gets Previewed Comment Count

Brian June 1st, 2015 at 10:42 AM

[Scheduling note: Brian is out today and tomorrow, I (Seth) am finishing up HTTV. There will be a softball and baseball post later this afternoon]

The Bill C preview. Bill Connelly's annual preview series now goes 128 programs deep; he hit Michigan on Friday. The long term:

Harbaugh is a weird dude who says baffling, Les Milesian things -- that they both played for Bo Schembechler probably isn't a coincidence -- and might be getting weirder with age. And no one is guaranteed success when taking on a new job. If previous history correlated with future success, the last two Michigan hires would have worked out.

But Harbaugh is as close to a sure thing as you can hire. In just 11 years, he has raised the standard at every stop. He hires hungry assistants, builds an ultra-competitive environment, and then wins. He has coaching in his bloodstream, and he's been successful just about everywhere.

The short term is far more uncertain.  But you probably know this. You also know the thing that leaps off the page on this chart, but my god to see it quantified:


Adjusted pace. Good lord.

There is some good news. The numbers reflect the massive improvement in line play that I kept promising everyone existed no matter how implausible it seemed given the play of the offense overall:

The line started with just 34 career starts but improved to 50th in Adj. Line Yards and 72nd in Adj. Sack Rate. Considering the level of recruiting, this isn't great, but you can only improve so much in one year.

Both of those were deep into triple digits a year ago, and Michigan returns everyone except Jack Miller to that line instead of losing two NFL draft picks at tackle. I will always wonder how much of the crater was on Darrell Funk and how much was on Rodriguez's recruiting and Al Borges's mad scientist meddling.

Connelly notes that the schedule sets up to be highly swingy. They've only got two teams that project to be very good—OSU and MSU—and relatively few cupcakes. All but one of the good-to-middling teams comes to Ann Arbor, as well. With some luck Michigan could win an encouraging number of games… but there's not much slack in there.

A recommendation. I've had these tabs open in my browser for a while now because I don't want to just toss them off in a UV, but I don't seem to be getting around to the meaty post about them they deserve. So: if you want excellent annotated posts about football, head to James Light Football. He covers all kinds of things from college and pro levels, and he frequently strikes upon Michigan itself. He was at the coaches clinic and has a series of posts detailing things Jedd Fisch, John Baxter

Why do we play so many starters on special teams? What is a starter? Only the 5 offensive lineman and quarterback are starters. The rest is personnel driven. We don’t have starters, we have football players. You don’t play a position on this team, you play a role. What down is so insignificant that you can afford to have less than your best players?

…and DJ Durkin. Durkin's priorities say a lot about the state of what worries a modern defensive coordinator:

First thing Durkin and his staff do when playing a team is identify these three things. Tempo, Run/Pass Conflicts (RPO’s), Who’s their QB?

(RPOs have mostly been known as "packaged plays" around here.) Michigan under Hoke threatened in none of these categories.

Another point guard option. Michigan is focused on in-state PG Cassius Winston for their (currently) final slot in the 2016 class. They are not laser-focused, however, as Winston has given little indication what direction he might be leaning. They're keeping an eye on other options, though. One of them is Bruce Brown, a composite top 50 player who is listed as a shooting guard by most services. Michigan doesn't see it like that:

On Michigan: “Michigan they want me to run the one. And me and Tyus Battle in the backcourt, that sounds good. He’s solid.”

Indiana is also recruiting him as a point guard; St. John's, North Carolina, and Texas are other names in his recruitment. Brown is currently at a prep school in Vermont  but I think he grew up in Boston.

Where are they now: not currently on fire. Quinton Washington seems to have a cool job except for the parts where he catches on fire due to proximity to other fires.


That is "Will Power," who is apparently a real person and not a character in a freshman's screenplay.

Hello again: Moritz Wagner. It feels like we've welcomed Mortiz Wagner to the program a half-dozen times, but here's another one since Michigan signed him and officially announced him. There was a bit of an uncomfortable delay in there that conjured images of Robin Benzing—who did not qualify—but now that's all behind us and we can focus on what we've won:

"Moe is a long and versatile player," Michigan coach John Beilein said in the release. "He has a great understanding of the game with a tremendous upside. As a product of Germany, he has always played against men five to even 10 years older than him, which has only helped his growth as a player.

"As he continues in his development, Moe's skill and athleticism will allow him to eventually play multiple positions for us. He just turned 18 years old, so we are excited about his potential. Moe's engaging personality and passion for the game will make him a very valuable asset to our team now and in the years to come."

Interesting: Michigan listed him at a full 6'10" and they tend to be pretty accurate with roster numbers. Even Trey Burke, who everyone assumed was being handed an inch or two, measured out at just about what Michigan listed him at when he entered the draft. (Spike is likely an exception to this roster fidelity.)

Unless Wagner is a super prospect, he has an uphill path to playing time this year if Zak Irvin can handle the defense and rebounding aspects of the 4. John Beilein loves shooting and he's got a couple of prime wing options in Duncan Robinson and Aubrey Dawkins; if one of the forward-sized fours is going to wrest significant playing time away from those guys he's going to have to be really good.

Claiming poverty. Andy Staples on the "schools don't make a profit" argument put forth when people want to defend the NCAA's version of amateurism:

Athletic directors will claim their programs don’t make money, but that’s also a lie at most Power Five schools. They would make money if they weren’t giving their coaches huge raises and putting gold-plated waterfalls in their locker rooms. Do not confuse an inability to manage money with a lack of money, and don’t believe people who just got $10 million more when they say they can’t pay for the programs they were already funding with $10 million less.

At this point I think everyone understands this except the people charging hundreds of dollars an hour to not understand. October is the inconveniently-timed next potential NCAA-in-court bombshell, as the Jeffery Kessler case—that's the one that explicitly wants to blow the whole system up—will have its class certification hearing.

That lawsuit could put sufficient pressure on the NCAA to make certifying and negotiating with a union look like the best course of action.

Etc.: John Gasaway on deceased former NCAA head Walter Byers, and how he is often misunderstood.

State hockey loses Josh Jacobs to the OHL. That's a different league from guys signing OHL contracts. How long before MSU gets serious and replaces Tom Anastos with a hockey coach?


Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Iowa

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Iowa Comment Count

Brian August 22nd, 2014 at 2:38 PM


A lot of big formations

Why did you do this?

Oh some attempt at achieving completeness or something. Without actually doing so, of course.

Please tell me you didn't do the other side of the ball.

I did! At least it was short.

Well then. You may as well detail what you discovered.

Ah yes, but let's put in a jump here.

[After THE JUMP: Clark against the best tackle in the league, inexplicable LB sub pattern, Washington falls off a cliff, corners are in your base]


Unverified Voracity Finds Unintentional Hawk Poetry

Unverified Voracity Finds Unintentional Hawk Poetry Comment Count

Brian December 11th, 2013 at 2:40 PM

Hey kids. The Michigan Theater's hosting a premiere of a documentary that may be up your alley tomorrow at 7. It's a documentary about a not-very-good Indiana high school basketball team:

It's getting excellent reviews, and was put together by Ann Arbor/Michigan folk, including Davy Rothbart of FOUND. And you can get in free(!) just by mentioning MGoBlog at the box office. It does not get better than that. Except maybe going 9-3. That would be awesome.

Anyway: Thursday, 7, Michigan Theater, an Indiana basketball team. There are also showings in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids; mention the blog and you'll get in free there as well.


"DEAL WITH IT" –Dead Hawk to itself.

IMPORTANT. Here is a story from Don Cherry that he posted on twitter.

1) A big beautiful hawk was killed on North Sheridan Way Service Road last night. How can anybody kill a beautiful bird like that?

2) The bird had to be seen. I can understand, although sad, when I see a squirrel killed on the road, the way they dart in and out .

3) But this hawk did not know how to time it when to get out of the way of as a car comes. Sad. I love hawks. They always look so cool as

4) they sit on a tree like they should be wearing sun glasses.

Sometimes multi-part tweets seem like nouveau free verse with their accidental breaking points and garbled syntax, and this one culminates with the image of a Hawk Cop keeping his eye out for you. Serve and protect (mice not included). Sometimes twitter is great. Other times it's MACK BROWN IS DEAD (I'm not dead yet!).

Also not dead yet. There were reports from campus that Devin Gardner was wearing a sling to classes during the year, and at the bust yesterday he shows up on crutches and in a walking boot.



Is there any part of Devin Gardner that is not broken? Is it even possible to judge Gardner's junior year, given that for most of it he was a broken assemblage of bones grinding against bones entirely other than the ones they were supposed to grind against*? For the love of God can someone protect this man?

Hoke says Gardner's issue is turf toe. This will prevent him from practicing this week but won't affect his availability for the bowl, because Devin Gardner is quarterback Rasputin.

*["Hey, tibia, fancy seeing you here. Aren't you supposed to be hanging out with, oh, what's his name? Femur? The big fellow."


"Yes, well I imagine it must. You seem to be getting smaller and there are many more of you."


"Strange folk, those leg bones. Don't you think so, ulna?"


Here is a weird thing on Wednesday. Michigan finishes their first-half schedule with a game against Ferris State tonight, for some reason. Ferris is off to a hot start itself, currently 4th in the RPI (Michigan has dropped to fifth since we last checked, just because other team have won games and leapt up) and 13-2-2 overall. The Bulldogs haven't really played anyone outside their conference, splitting against Colgate and St. Lawrence and beating Mercyhurst, but they are scoring tons of goals and are 10-0-2 in the new WCHA.

Center Ice has a preview for you; sounds like there's going to be a lot of pressure on the Michigan defense to escape a heavy forecheck. That is suboptimal. Should be a good one… on a Wednesday. For some reason.

Here's another weird thing. Brennan Serville will return to the lineup tonight. He's displacing Mike Chiasson, leaving converted forward Andrew Sinelli on the ice. Sinelli's played pretty well since moving back to defense. He's small but his puck skills are above average for the position and he's a good skater with relatively good pop for a guy his size. I've noticed him more than Chiasson, certainly, and while Serville is still a mistake factory he's much better with the puck on his stick than Chiasson, and Michigan's going to need to move the puck against Ferris's aggressive forecheck.

Here's yet another weird thing. Michigan is legendarily averse to post touches, something I've been fine with for the most part. Michigan's personnel hasn't lent itself to dumping it on the block and letting someone try to score, and that's not Beilein's wheelhouse, so okay. But with Mitch McGary rounding into shape, Beilein asserts that we might see more than 1% of Michigan's possessions feature a large man on the block:

For those calling for post-entry plays, Michigan coach John Beilein tossed out a modicum of hope on Wednesday morning.

“I think everyone should stay tuned to that because that’s been a process,” Beilein said in an interview with “The Michigan Insider” show on WTKA-AM (1050). “But sometimes we stay away from it, sometimes it frustrates us, sometimes it’s been good to us.”

One of the primary guys calling for post entries has in fact been Sam Webb, who asked the question that led to that answer. Personally, my prescription for success is running a ton of pick and roll with McGary, Stauskas and LeVert. Michigan's gone away from the P&R a lot this year without Burke and the results have been… iffy.

Here's a usual thing that is still a little bit weird. Remember last year when I kept saying that Michigan was just unbelievably young? And that this would get much better the next year even with the departures of Burke and Hardaway? About that.


And that's likely to drop as the season goes on and McGary sucks up more of Horford and Morgan's minutes. This is significant improvement on last year, in fact—their experience number was 0.73—but when you're so far down the list you have to improve more than that to make any real headway.

Not particularly surprising aside: the nation's least experienced team is Kentucky. Kansas is third. Kansas has lost three of their last four and Kentucky is 8-2 with losses to MSU and Baylor and a best win over Providence. It is hard to be young, sometimes, even when you have guys on your roster NBA teams are slavering over.

QWASH speech issues. Quinton Washington's speech was the highlight of the bust, as he opened up about the speech issues that had been the thing politely not mentioned about him ever since his recruitment:

"Coming here, it was hard for me to even pick up a phone," said Washington, who has struggled with speech problems his entire life. "I couldn't order at a restaurant."

Five years ago, Quinton Washington couldn't order food.

This is a problem when you are 300 pounds. Read the whole thing; Washington is a fine example of the reasons you root for the kids inside the uniforms instead of just the uniforms.

Etc.: Michigan is +3.5 against K-State, which sounds about right. I mean okay yeah Michigan blew a late lead to the NTDP, but I mean… Luke Dwyer was in. I'm not bothered. 23 minutes of Jeremy Gallon highlights. RIP Don Lund. Doesn't sound like any juniors are exploring the NFL draft.


This Week's Obsession: Filling Shoes

This Week's Obsession: Filling Shoes Comment Count

Seth December 4th, 2013 at 5:48 PM



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

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

So, OTHER than that guy,

Which senior will Michigan miss most next season?

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

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

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

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

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


Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Northwestern

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Northwestern Comment Count

Brian November 21st, 2013 at 3:43 PM

TUBE NOTES: These are not tubes, but it's pretty much tubes.

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan defended spread stuff exactly like Northwestern did, leaving in a 4-3 and sliding their linebackers to the slot receiver. Since Northwestern was in a spread all the time, this was what they did all the time.

4-3-even-slide 3

Cam Gordon over the first slot receiver, Morgan in the gray area over #3, Ross in the box.

When Northwestern went with two WRs to one side instead of three two LBs were in the box.


Michigan only went to 4-3 stuff when Northwestern went into goal line business.

pistol fb goal line

Michigan kept two deep safeties most of the day, which was a change from Nebraska.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Secondary was Countess and Taylor at corner with Stribling the third guy when Michigan went to the nickel, which was a lot less frequent. Gordon and Avery got most of the snaps at safety, with Wilson rotating in on occasion and Furman getting one drive, IIRC. He did not chart.

Linebacker the usual. Morgan/Ross/Bolden rotation at ILB, Ryan and Cam Gordon at SAM.

On the line, Beyer and Wormley rotated at SDE, Ojemudia and Clark at WDE. Black, Washington, and Henry got almost all of the DT snaps, with Black again mostly at NT. Glasgow got a few snaps, and Charlton got DT snaps in the nickel package.

[After THE JUMP: infinite clips of Mike Trumpy running for two yards.]


Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Minnesota

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Minnesota Comment Count

Brian October 10th, 2013 at 3:30 PM

FORMATION NOTES: This is nothing out of the ordinary for Michigan, but who's up for a perfect overhead view of Michigan aligning in a 4-3 under?


There are your 6, 3, 1, and five techniques left to right across the front with Gordon hanging out in what I guess is an 8 or 9.

Michigan also showed over fronts, which they have to from time to time because Minnesota loves to flip its strength.


This did not result in a discernible uptick in effectiveness.

This is the Maryland I:

maryland i

This is Michgian in old friend Okie Zero.


SUBSTITUTION NOTES: A lot more nose tackle in this one; Washington got more time than he did in any game to date this year with Pipkins rotating in regularly; once Pipkins went down Ash did get a few snaps late. Rest of the DL was generally Clark/Heitzman/Black with Ojemudia/Wormley/Henry backing up. Glasgow got a couple snaps before the end as well.

Usual rotation at LB was halted after Bolden made some errors, and then it was just the starters. Secondary was the usual except that Avery was the starter at CB and Taylor only came in for nickel packages.

[After THE JUMP: this is the drive that never ends.]


Mailbag: Line Depth When, Ridiculous Lewan/Ryan Hybrid, Why Return Punts?

Mailbag: Line Depth When, Ridiculous Lewan/Ryan Hybrid, Why Return Punts? Comment Count

Brian October 8th, 2013 at 11:27 AM



it gets better

Hi Brian,

This whole Center situation has put me in a funk [ed: I see what you did there] and all I can see in the future is doom and gloom.  Aren't we going to be in the exact same position next year?  I was wondering if you could address on your site the future prospects of this position going forward.  Miller is not cutting it at the moment (or at least that's the popular opinion).  But is this a problem that he's still too young and needs to learn?  Or is it that he's just too undersized for the position?  I've heard zilch about the other Centers on the roster, Burzynski and Kugler.  So what is to happen next year?  Should I just blindfold myself and box my ears for the next year or two?


Sometimes guys just have it, and sometimes they get it eventually, and sometimes they never do. David Molk had no problem popping into a starting lineup as a redshirt freshman and being good immediately. Miller's been done few favors by Michigan's renewed emphasis on the stretch after barely running in the last two years and should become more consistent as he acquires experience with it, but Glasgow seems to be making fewer mistakes than he did at the same level of experience.

The good news is that this year and last should be the nadir for options on the Michigan line. Last year, Miller was literally the only scholarship option other than true freshmen Michigan could turn to if they wanted to make a switch. This year they're in a similar situation except the (formerly) backup option is the oft-injured Chris Bryant; Blake Bars is also an option but looked far from ready this fall.

Next year it's a whole different story. Michigan loses their two tackles and must find a left tackle from Magnuson or Braden; right tackle will be a battle between one of those two guys and any of a fleet of 6'5" guys who can play both tackle and guard. On the interior they'll suddenly be spoilt for choice with count-'em nine options give or take a guy who might be sucked out to tackle. That is worlds away from what Michigan's got now.

They will be young. Michigan will have no seniors on next year's offensive line save Burzynski. They should be able to paper over some concerns with depth in their options.

Wither Washington against spread to run?


In light of our defensive approach to use Black/Wormley as nominal DTs against passing spreads like ND and Akron, should we be concerned against the Buckeyes?  Watching how they call their plays at the line, I would think Urban would have Hyde pound it up the middle anytime we showed that alignment.  Do you see this meaning we will see more Washington than we would typically against a spread team?  Or is sacrificing some beef in the middle with Black worth the lateral speed we gain against their skill players?

The challenge posed by OSU is dealing with not only lateral speed from Miller and their little slot buggers but holding up against Carlos Hyde, who's more manball than any back Michigan has at its disposal. If the defensive line can't hold up against OSU double teams… well, you saw the Northwestern game. It's not pretty for a defense.

I'll be shocked if Michigan has a nickel package on the field against Ohio State on anything other than third and long. Washington is going to a be a key piece against all the spread-to-run teams on the docket, and there are plenty: OSU, Northwestern, and Nebraska plus certain packages Indiana might run with Tre Roberson. With the rest of the schedule filled out by PSU, MSU, and Iowa, we've seen the last of games where Washington is largely a spectator as opponents fling the ball about willy-nilly.

Why bother returning punts anyway?


this massively blocked punt was the difference in NW-OSU (via Eleven Warriors)

This question was prompted by watching Michigan try (and fail) to set up a return when Minnesota was punting from inside their 10 yard line today.

Why not always go for the block?  How is running 20 yards backwards, then trying to find and block someone better than making someone block you in their own backfield?  Best case, you block the punt; worst case, coverage team suffers from having to defend against punt block before focusing on coverage.  If the point of setting up a punt return is to keep would-be tacklers away from the returner, why not make those would-be tacklers deal with would-be punt blockers 40+ yards away from where the punt lands?  I really just don’t get it.


Going for a block is a high variance strategy that rarely brings any reward at all and often results in flags for hitting the punter; used too consistently it's asking to eat fake punts more often than you actually get to the punter. So you've got to set up returns at least some of the time: fourth and five or less, any punt safe situation, times when you don't care to risk roughing the punter because you're up, and enough other times to keep teams from planning a fake punt you'll get strafed by.

Meanwhile, with modern punting formations the only guys who have to dedicate themselves full time to blocking you are the three gentlemen in the shield. For the other seven players, a momentary delay on a guy at the line is good enough. If you're sending guys after the punter all the time that's not going to change the behavior of the punting team enough to help you on returns.

The only thing that will do that is blocking enough punts to force guys back into NFL-style punting, and dozens of coaches working over the course of a decade haven't been able to make shield punting seem more vulnerable than the NFL stuff. I'm with you somewhat, in that so few punts get returned effectively these days that you should slant your prep towards blocking them and go after punters more often* but never bothering with setting up a return is too far in the other direction.

*[especially since it's relatively easy to not get a roughing the kicker call: just avoid the guy's plant foot.]



Hello Brian, Brian's Hair, Ace, Seth and Heiko,

I was watching the network broadcast of the game yesterday and near the end, right around Countess' interception, the broadcast cut to a shot of Jon Falk preparing to open the mail bin that held the Jug. Taylor Lewan was standing next to the bin and I believe one of the announcers called him "Jake Lewan."

Alas, it was a misstatement. But could you imagine if this player existed? Huge. Crazy. Two-way. He pancake blocks linebackers and hurls chipping running backs to the ground. He both protects QBs and turns them into small smears on the ground. I would love to see a .gif of this being in action (destroying the skyline of Columbus Godzilla-style, consuming raw sides of beef lobbed at it by an approving Coach Mattison, charging into the interview room and ripping Heiko's head off after he asks Borges about bubble screens etc. ). I would love to see the Mathlete whip up some sophisticated simulation in R or Stata to project  this mythical player's stats. How many stars would he have gotten on the recruiting trail? (six?) What would his fake forty time be?  Could he eat more than Charlie Weiss? What sort of tattoos would he have? What pet would he own? The possibilities are both endless and fascinating.

Just thought I'd mention it.


The Mathlete started simulating this but desisted when he started noticing small glitches in reality. He swears that carbonation of beverages was rare until he started working on your question, Patrick. The initial results are a little rough, but your answers:

  1. COULD YOU IMAGINE IF THIS PLAYER EXISTED? No longer do I imagine or dream, as the act of doing so now brings things into reality. While I could use this for good, eventually the wrong thing would be thought about and Michigan would have two wins over Ohio State since OH GOD I DID IT DO YOU SEE PATRICK, DO YOU SEE?
  3. WHAT WOULD HIS FAKE 40 TIME BE? Zero point two seconds, to account for human stopwatch vagaries. This would be real, and thus break the concepts of fake 40 times and reality.
  4. COULD HE EAT MORE THAN CHARLIE WEIS(S)? If you are referring to the temporary head of the Kansas Jayhawks, he's had bariatric surgery so most nine-year-olds could do this. If you are referring to some random dude who has to keep correcting everyone who lols at him about decided schematic advantage, yes. This is a large man who is physically active. Charlie Weiss lifts a little bit but cannot compare.
  5. WHAT SORT OF TATTOOS WOULD HE HAVE? Animated ones depicting the rise and fall of Atlantis, both of which were his doing.
  6. WHAT PET WOULD HE OWN? His Excellency The Most Exalted Velocironald The Third The Fourth The Second, Jr.


Preview 2013: Defensive Tackle

Preview 2013: Defensive Tackle Comment Count

Brian August 28th, 2013 at 12:19 PM

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

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
Keith Heitzman So.* Quinton Washington Sr.* Jibreel Black Sr. Frank Clark Jr.
Chris Wormley Fr.* Ondre Pipkins So. Willie Henry Fr.* Mario Ojemudia So.
Matt Godin Fr.* Richard Ash Jr.* Ryan Glasgow Fr.*# Taco Charlton Fr.

Depth chart shows everybody just because.

Michigan has promise, depth, and even experience at defensive tackle that reaches three-deep. Greg Mattison's spent fall camp telling people that he feels he can rotate three-deep everywhere across the line, and I almost believe him. Aside from nose tackle, where it's doubtful Richard Ash gets a lot of playing time, Michigan does have three guys who can play.

At nose they just have an above-average returning starter and the sophomore year of five-star Ondre Pipkins. That'll be an okay platoon, I think. Three-tech is dodgier, with 280-pound Jibreel Black trying to hold up a year after 280-pound Jibreel Black was flipped out to end late so that Washington could make his way into the lineup. Even there they've got two guys they seem to like a lot behind Black.

It's weird, I know. Get used to it: this is a preview of what it's like when Hoke's recruiting classes finally take hold.

Nose Tackle

Rating: 4.5


Instructed and instructor [unknown/Upchurch]

forces cutback
hello backfield
slants for big TFL
painful looking tackle
and then SC never ran again
just UMass but still
pad level
pad level pt 2
refuses to get trapped
fights through scoop
sets up Ojemuda FF
occasionally handled
pancaked vs ND
control and chuck
discards NEB OL
gets into the chest

Will Heininger's progression from guy getting blown up against EMU to serious contributor and guy you worry a bit about replacing established this site's "Heininger Certainty Principle," which states that because of Will Heininger Michigan fans should have confidence that Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison will get every ounce of talent out of their charges. That hypothesis graduated to theory when QUINTON WASHINGTON chiseled it in stone over the course of last season.

Washington was a converted offensive lineman with maybe a half-dozen snaps to his name when he was suddenly (and perhaps accidentally) announced as the starter at nose tackle when the Big Ten Network visited Michigan's practice. This caused the usual round of animated emoticons running in circles and a big "I don't know" in last year's preview:

I have no idea how Washington will do. …  Washington is a redshirt junior and former touted recruit, so this could work out. Totally. Maybe.

So of course he was one of the strengths of the defense. Heininger Certainty Principle, you guys.

Washington was flat good last year. When I went back to the UFRs I had nearly as many clips for him as I did Jake Ryan, and in approximately the same proportion of good to bad. He combined power with a fair amount of penetration, and while he wasn't Mike Martin in the UFR charts he was a consistently positive presence. He was the top performer on the defense in the Alabama game, was only negative against Air Force (weird option cutting business) and Nebraska (a –1), and usually ended up solidly positive. His Notre Dame performance was a revelation:

Washington in particular was impressive with his repeated penetration. He's probably as shocked as anyone about this, so he's continually overrunning things, but whatever, man, he's blowing up blocking. I told you this would happen after UMass!

In fact I said that Washington seemed to play well but would obviously not do that against Notre Dame.

While it wasn't a secret All Big Ten season, he was probably better than any nose tackle in the league other than Kawaan Short and Jonathan Hankins. (And maybe Penn State's Jordan Hill; I didn't UFR a Penn State game last year.) Not bad for a guy who caused people to twitch a little bit when he was named the starter.

Along the way he did a number of impressive things. Here he clobbers a Purdue guard into a puller, who ends up clobbering the running back. Unsatisfied, he tries to put the guy in the band:

He gets under guys, rocks them back, and then can rip through at the proper moment:




When he got negatives, they were usually for getting hacked to the ground or not being mobile on stretch plays. Given his plus-level penetration I don't think the latter issue is set in stone. The balance thing isn't a huge problem. He's okay, he's just not Ryan Van Bergen.

Incremental improvement as a senior should get Washington's performance level to All Big Ten. As a nose tackle he may not have the requisite stats to get there, but I'll be surprised if he's not amongst the top guys in the league and a mid-round NFL draftee.

[After THE JUMP: depth! Undersized Jibreel Black! More depth! Seriously!]


Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs South Carolina

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs South Carolina Comment Count

Brian August 21st, 2013 at 5:38 PM


GENERAL NOTE: I am not doing the chart because of Michigan's uniformz. It was just about possible to tell white guys from black ones and big ones from small ones but an awful lot of the time I had no idea if a player was Beyer or Roh, Morgan or Bolden, Pipkins or Washington, Clark or Black. I noted this early but eventually I just started going "eh." I did do the plus minuses in the chart but adding them up is an exercise in futility that people will take as gospel in a year. Nope.

It's not going to be that exciting anyway. Because of the nature of the game the linebackers and linemen all had very few opportunities to even get +/- and the secondary just got destroyed. If you want to imagine it: Black and Washington are good, Campbell was bad, Wilson got destroyed, as did Taylor, Kovacs and Gordon are moderately negative, and all the linebackers get 0-0-0.

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan had some oddities going on but the exotic packages were kept to a minimum by their inability to substitute in the secondary and South Carolina consistently spreading the field. One thing of note was Michigan's frequent deployment of a 3-4, like so:


South Carolina was little threat to run—the starting tailback had 5 rushes for 6 yards and the only reason SC got anything on the ground was two Will Campbell busts on midline zone read plays—and Michigan used this to send four man rushes from a variety of angles. A GERG-like side effect was a large number of three- and even two-man rushes.

They did this a bit on passing downs. Note that the DT in there standing up is a linebacker:

nickel rush

As per usual I called this 3-3-5 nickel.

SUBTITUTION NOTES: Again because of the uniformz I'm partially guessing here. Mostly, actually. The line seemed to be the usual in four-man fronts but Michigan spent a big chunk of the game in that 3-4; when they did that it was Roh/Washington/Black as your first options on the line with Clark and sometimes Cam Gordon as the extra LB type. In the linebacking corps, Kenny Demens left early and never returned (probably), leaving Joe Bolden to pick up a ton of snaps.

The secondary lacked JT Floyd, of course, and Michigan responded by putting Avery and Taylor outside and really, really trying to avoid nickel packages. When they did run nickel—mostly on the last drive—they brought in Jarrod Wilson and shuffled Gordon or Kovacs down as the nickelback. This would end in disaster.

[After the jump: a big damn table and moaning about big plays.]


Unverified Voracity Goes One On One

Unverified Voracity Goes One On One Comment Count

Brian August 13th, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Yes. Fun. Annual best CTK is just four minutes of the Michigan drill:

Countdown to Kickoff 2013: Day 21 - The... by mgovideo


  • Lewan buries Keith Heitzman on the first rep; Heitzman comes back and does much better against Schofield on the next one. Not entirely unexpected.
  • Rawls absolutely runs over Ross Douglas on a rep, causing both guys to pop up and jut chests at each other threateningly.
  • Washington looks good on both his reps, though he gave some ground on #1.
  • Ross sheds very well on his single rep, as does Jarrod Wilson. Wormley does not and immediately gets a coach in his face repeating "escape, escape, escape" to him.
  • A rather large-looking Mike McCray has interesting reps separated by 30 seconds or so. On the first one, Kyle Bosch drives him way out of the frame. On the second, he dumps Blake Bars to the ground and makes a tackle.
  • Taco stands up Jake Butt, RB darts by, Mattison exclaims "HE WENT OUTSIDE THE CONE" in an effort to claim that one for the D.
  • Strobel does a good job against walk-on Erik Gunderson.
  • Jeremy Jackson locks up Richardson and waltzes him downfeld. Not a huge surprise, but an indicator as to why it's going to be hard for Richardson to get on the field this year.
  • Pipkins wins a rep against Glasgow with authority.

Omar comin'? Frank Clark gets the CTK treatment:

Countdown to Kickoff 2013: Day 22 - Frank Clark by mgovideo

Clark says he'd be competitive with Devin Gardner in a 40 yard dash… but not Denard. He says he 268, not 277, but a CTK a few days later they say he's 274. I dunno, pick one.

Also available: Aaron Wellman may get results, but does he sound like a gravel truck? Maybe a little. Jeremy Jackson's Day 18 is mostly a look into weirdass Navy Seal exercises like "kick a pole and wiggle forward on your butt" and "rub sand on your head." Jake Ryan is running and whatnot.

Hail Brady. Oh man Michigan's head coach has the same opinion on uniformz as sane people do:

"(The uniform issue is) bigger than it should be," Hoke said Monday during a radio interview with FoxSports' Jay Mohr. "But we’re traditional, and we have such a great tradition and legacies, we’re going to be staying pretty much standard.” …

“We had one uniform we wore once that we won’t wear again,” he said. "It’s something that you’re always trying to have that excitement with your kids, and that’s part of it."

Is that the ghost number outfit, the No Rain bumblebee one, or… actually the Sugar Bowl uniforms were hardly different from the usual and fine.

The times, they have changed. Ohio State picks up a 2015 PG commit from AJ Harris, a 5'8" kid who I'd never heard of. A quick check of the UMHoops page for him reveals nothing but a lot of scouting from various AAU tournaments, so that's why: no one had mentioned him in connection with a Michigan offer. This is interesting for a couple reasons:

  1. It likely removes OSU from the Jalen Brunson chase, but Harris is a AAU teammate of Luke Kennard.
  2. Harris's commitment was "shocking" because as of two weeks ago he said Michigan was at the top and he wanted to be Trey Burke.

Harris told Eleven Warriors that "it's true, I did want to hear from Michigan," but Michigan is focused on a half-dozen high profile targets. So… Ohio point guard picks Ohio State because Michigan showed no interest. Remember when the basketball program was 1-6 in the Big Ten? No? I don't either.

Meanwhile in silly things said on the internet:

What could make it sweeter? Beating out Michigan for a prospect that two weeks ago wanted to emulate Trey Burke.

To beat the man, the man has to be in the ring, or at least cognizant of the fact there is a ring.

Booker and Johnson do things. Elsewhere in basketball recruiting news—we are downshifting from occasional roundups as football season starts—Devin Booker releases a top five of Michigan, Kentucky, Michigan State, Missouri, and Florida. The latter two are not reputed to be strong contenders, especially Florida. Booker told Scout that he's set up officials with the other four schools and pull the trigger "whenever I feel whatever schools is right for me" and that he's not even sure he'll visit Florida.

You are rooting for Indiana decommit (and Kentucky legacy) James Blackmon to pick the Wildcats, as they seem to be the biggest threat at the moment. Indiana blog Inside The Hall thinks Blackmon is all but locked up for the Wildcats, so we've got that going for us. The primary way things could go pear-shaped if Blackmon takes Kentucky off the table is if Michigan gets a commit from Trevon Bluiett and Booker looks at Stauskas/Irvin/LeVert/Bluiett as a higher hill to climb than Michigan State's roster.

Also, Ypsi PF Jaylen Johnson, who recently took a visit to Michigan, is profiled by the Louisville paper:

“I love his activity,” Meyer said. “He’s athletic, he’s long, and he’s so active. He’s such an aggressive rebounder, one of those who is always fighting for position early. I love his feel for the game as a rebounder.”

Meyer thinks Johnson will end up at Louisville, so expect him to cut Louisville from his list immediately. YES I AM STILL BITTER.

Finally, touted 2015 PF Carlton Bragg plans a visit:

We talked about it a little,” Graves said. “I think Carlton would be a three, stretch four because he has the jumper to be 6-9 just like a forward that runs the floor, like a hybrid. We haven’t talked x’s and o’s but they can see him in their system, especially with the three’s that they shoot.”

Bragg is open at the moment; Ohio State will be a major player.

They were almost ready to throw in the towel last year. On the OL, that is. Apparently the debate as to whether to redshirt Kyle Kalis was being had within the walls of Schembechler Hall as well as without:

"It sucked," the redshirt freshman offensive lineman said Sunday. "It sucked. So many times, I was close to going in, but they didn't want to burn my redshirt.

"Everyone wants to play, and it sucks (when you don't get to). And I was mad about it."

So many times I was like "why aren't they playing Kalis." At least we know now there was much debate about it.

Prepare for WJC departures. The United States of Hockey handicaps the National Junior Evaluation Camp field, which includes four Michigan forwards. Chris Peters projects that Compher ("One of the better centers for most of the camp… really strong when playing a bottom-six role and playing an aggressive, grinding two-way style") and Copp ("A prime candidate to play the fourth-line shutdown role the U.S. will so badly need to succeed") will make the roster, while Motte and Nieves are question marks. Nieves's evaluation is pretty much the thing:

Nieves is one of those guys where if he finds that missing piece to his game, he could be really good. With size, speed and some truly remarkable puck skills, he’s got a lot of the tools going for him. He just couldn’t seem to finish the play out with the right decision or buy himself time when he needed it. That led to poor shots or turnovers and that’s going to be tough to do at the WJC level. The speed and skills are there, but I think he needs some more work.

Right now he's Milan Gajic, a guy who looks like he's got every skill you could want but doesn't put it together to blow up. He's got some more time to break out of that rut.

Meanwhile, Motte is sounding like something not very much like the midget puck wizard I'd assumed he would be:

Motte showed good quickness and some skill in a solid camp performance. He had some good two-way play and worked really well when playing with Compher and Fasching in the middle parts of the camp.

He might grab a lower-rung spot, especially if the brass thinks his long familiarity with Compher would make a good pairing.

Are they related to Wiz Khalifa? I don't know what this means.

For Gallon, there’s an added bonus there: He and Gardner are extremely tight. “Closer than Phineas and Ferb,” as Gallon puts it.

I am old.

Etc.: Big Ten building spree reaches 1.5 billion dollars. No M-OSU night games on the docket according to Jim Delany. Chengelis wants to futz with the tunnel. Michael Bradley profiled. Penn State fans no likey Hoke after the Wangler decommitment. Moeller and Lou Holtz break down The Catch.

Ondre Pipkins is ready to eat… metaphorically. The center battle should be decided this week.