Upon Further Review 2012: Offense vs UMass

Upon Further Review 2012: Offense vs UMass

Submitted by Brian on September 19th, 2012 at 12:43 PM

Formation notes: Nothing particularly new from Michigan except the Norfleet-end-around thing, which I just called 2-back. The plays run from it are being called "triple veer" since there's a third option there, not that I think any of these things are reads.

veer-1

This was early; Dileo did not come in motion. Same formation plus Norfleet coming in == triple veer series against UMass.

Funchess means a lot more 2 TE formations. Reminder: TV never shows substitutions so I'm usually just describing the formation for the defense here, not the personnel. IIRC UMass was in 4-3 personnel the whole time; sometimes they would commit a LB to the slot, which I called nickel.

Substitution notes: Also nothing too unusual. Kwiatkowski was the starting TE and did pretty well; Funchess saw a lot of time; the usual WR rotation occurred. When Michigan pulled Lewan late they made the same flip they did at the end of the Alabama game, moving Schofield to LT, Omameh to RT, and inserting Burzynski at RG.

As promised, Hoke did not put any of the freshman linemen on the field. At this point we know who the staff is trying to redshirt. On offense those folk are: Braden, Kalis, Magnuson, Bars, Chesson, and Johnson. Norfleet, Funchess, Williams, and Darboh are playing.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M35 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Inside zone Toussaint 3
Funchess off line, both TEs in two-point stance. Implies pass. M runs, shooting Funchess backside and sending Kwiatkowski to the frontside. Blocking bust as Barnum(-2) does not ever pop off the DT he is doubling with Mealer; unblocked LB in the hole. Kwiatkowski(-1) gets stuck between cracking down on this guy and trying to get a DB, eventually doing neither; Lewan(+1) gets big movement on his kickout when Toussaint(+1) bounces it outside. Schofield(+0.5) and Omameh(+0.5) had gotten nice movement on the backside.
M38 2 7 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel even Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 13
Omameh(+1) seals the UMass DT inside quickly, allowing Schofield(+1) to move out on a linebacker without delay. Either the hand or the keep works here; Denard(+1) keeps and manages to run through an ankle tackle attempt. Funchess(+1) is inline here and releases downfield, getting a block on a safety at about ten yards after running a fake dig. Barnum pulled through the hole but took a line way outside and did not block the last dude, the FS, who tackles. Denard is riding this mesh point longer [BWS].
O49 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Sprint counter Toussaint 7
MLB reads the Schofield pull and immediately starts heading for wherever he's going. SLB also reads the play and gets into the intended hole before Dileo can crack down on him. Mealer(+0.5) got a free release and pushes the MLB past where he wants to go, but Toussaint doesn't have anywhere to go on the playside. Omameh(+1) has blasted the backside DT back, though, and Funchess(+0.5) escorts a DE way downfield—mostly the DE being bad, not Funchess devastating him. Toussaint(+1) cuts back ably, juking a filling safety to his butt and picking up a nice gain. RPS -1? Nah, but I thought about it.
O42 2 3 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass TE Out Kwiatkowski 16
Safety rolls down for eight man front, slot CB tight on the line. Both linebackers run right at the LOS on a straight dropback, Kwiatkowski comes wide open, Denard hits him, easy conversion. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1) Kwiatkowski gets some YAC by running through a tackle.
O26 1 10 Shotgun twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass PA TE Seam Funchess 26
This is my candy now, baby. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1). BWS picture pages.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 12 min 1st Q. I say, these chaps don't appear to be very good.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M46 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Bubble screen Gallon 14
Or LAZER, whatever. LB two yards inside of Gallon who takes off at the run on the snap, M throws the bubble, which is wide open. Gardner(+1) dominates the CB out of Gallon's way and it's an easy first down. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)
O40 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Power off tackle Toussaint -1
Mostly on Toussaint(-2). Kerridge takes on the playside DE a couple yards in the backfield, and Omameh goes upfield of that. Toussaint goes outside when a quick cut upfield is definitely positive yardage, possibly lots. Mealer(+0.5) had locked out a DT, Lewan(+0.5) and Barnum(+0.5) blew up the other guy. Instead Toussaint runs into an unblocked LB. Well... maybe. This does seem to be asking a lot of him to make a cut when he's going outside so clearly. But with Kerridge where he is Omameh has no shot of getting outside effectively and it's never a good idea to bounce when you have to go around stuff.
O41 2 11 Ace twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass PA Fly Gardner Inc
They're on to us: this is our passing formation. UMass brings both safeties up and the MLB reads the pull, shooting outside. Barnum's pulled and has two guys to block in space. He doesn't really block either. Denard has two options with his short stuff covered: bomb it against cover zero or start running around. He chooses the latter, missing Gardner by a few yards. (IN, 0, protection ½, team -1)
O41 3 11 Shotgun trips TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass Rollout Fly J. Robinson Inc
A three-part flood on which the deep corner opens up. JRobinson is open as the CB to that side comes up on Roundtree's route, so Denard fires into the endzone. JRobinson is looking over both shoulders and may be able to do better than this, but Denard did leave it too far inside. It's still decent for a 40-yard pass. JRobinson has a shot at at a one-handed spear, but the S rakes it out. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 9 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O45 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Inside zone Toussaint 2
Barnum(-2) falls, allowing the DT right up the A gap. Toussaint manages to squeeze for a yard or two.
O43 2 8 I-Form 3-wide tight 2 0 3 4-3 even Pass Waggle drag Gallon Inc
UMass suckered and this will get turned up for a first down; Denard just misses. (IN, 0, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O43 3 8 Shotgun trips bunch tight 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Hitch Funchess 8
Lots of time as UMass sends three. Denard finds Funchess at the sticks and zips it in there, hard and low. This is between two defenders so I'll give Denard the benefit of the doubt. We don't get a replay, unfortunately, so I can't tell how good of a catch this is. I will go with my initial thought that is was really good. (CA, 1, protection 2/2)
O35 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Zone read keeper Robinson 20 (Pen -0)
Backside DE does not contain, so Denard pulls. Neither LB to that side is scraping over the top, and then the playside guy is staring right at Denard with the ball and still runs away. Denard again ditches a shoe and still gets outside for a big gain. Uh... I guess Denard +1 for the read, but this was free yards from a bad, bad D. Roundtree(-1) gets a dubious holding call, but just let go, man.
O35 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 4-3 even Penalty False start Lewan -5
Argh
O40 1 15 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 4-3 even Pass Screen Toussaint 17
Both of the UMass LBs to the playside move towards the LOS as they see the OL release, but they move inside, which is not a good idea. Toussaint ends up in a ton of space; Barnum(+1) gets a block in space but I'm not sure he even needs to. Toussaint(+1) jukes a safety and picks up the first down; a second juke attempt at the sideline gets him tackled awkwardly. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1).
O23 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Run QB iso Robinson 5
Barnum's guy fights inside of him, which is not a real good idea when you don't have any LBs behind you. Robinson cuts behind that as Lewan(+0.5) as eliminated the end; Toussaint(+1) gets through the other hole and redirects into a filling safety. Denard's cutting behind that when Barnum's guy tackles. I'm a little leery about Barnum's role in all this but I'll forgo the minus. Mealer(+0.5) got a nice release into the MLB and Omameh got some push on the other DT.
O18 2 5 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Inverted veer give Toussaint 7
I think they've worked on the veer the past couple weeks. Denard's riding it longer and the FB, here Kerridge, is flaring out immediately so that that DE cannot take him out. Kerridge(+1) books for the playside LB and blasts him; Denard(+1) reads that the end is not containing Toussaint and gives. That's about it. A safety fills; Toussaint(+1) moves the pile another three yards.
O11 1 10 Shotgun twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Toussaint 11
This seems like a blown read by Denard(-1) as they block the backside OLB and let the 3-4 DE free. He hugs Schofield's back and shoots down the line, so Denard is one on one with the safety for six. He gives anyway. The line has caved in the Minutemen but Toussaint(+2) has to run away from the DE and finds a hole outside. Safety fill is going to take him down after two yards but he busts a tackle and tiptoes down the sideline for six. Lewan(+1) got the movement that created the gap; Mealer(+1) and Omameh(+1) blew up the backside DT and erased any potential LB pursuit.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 3 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass PA quick seam Dileo 66
The usual. Linebackers suck up, Smith wide open behind them, etc. Denard's throw is a bit in front of Dileo but not too bad; Dileo makes a nice catch and keeps his feet, stiffarming a safety down but getting caught from behind by one of their linebackers. (CA, 2, protection 1/1, RPS +2)
O5 1 G Shotgun trips 1 0 4 4-3 even Run Inside zone Smith 5
Mealer(+1) and Omameh(+1) blow up the playside DT, and that's about it. Barnum had some issues with his guy but managed to fend him off; Smith(+1) was decisive.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-3, 13 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M12 1 10 Shotgun twins 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 4
This is probably a called play and not a read as there is no unblocked player. The run fake takes out the linebackers but UMass is run blitzing their FS right into the hole. Denard(+1) jukes him and is about to hit the jets when an OLB who stunted through clean makes a shoestring tackle. Oooooh. Too bad. Schofield(+1) blew up the playside DT; Kwiatkowski(+0.5) kicked the other guy well. RPS -1, but I like the creativity. Without this call on this is a nice gain.
M16 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Out Jackson INT
The fugly INT. If accurate this is a fine idea. It's not accurate. Also insert complaints about Jackson separation, or lack thereof. (INX, 0, protection N/A) Wow... on replay this route sucks. Jackson's post fake is basically vertical.
Drive Notes: Defensive Touchdown, 21-10, 9 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Bubble screen Gallon 6
Giving it by alignment, M takes it. Aggressive DB gets upfield of Gardner and manages a shoulder tackle that gets Gallon off his feet. (CA, 3, screen)
M31 2 4 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel even Run QB draw Robinson 24
UMass puts one of their LBs over the second slot guy and goes six in the box, thus opening this up. The power of a stupid little play. UMass gets out of a lane and this opens up big. Toussaint(+1) gets a good LB block; Dileo(+1) does work on another LB, and Mealer(+1) gets a safety in space. Robinson(+2) sets his blocks up well and sets sail before that #9 again prevents a Michigan TD.
O45 1 10 Ace twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Scramble Robinson 25 (Pen -15)
LB blitz sent and picked up by Toussaint, who goes low. Mealer is backing out of a block and makes contact at the same time, which draws a chop block flag because they're throwing that on anything that even vaguely resembles a cut block with two guys. Unfortunate. That pickup gives Denard a ton of space, which he decides to use. Please be a trend. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)
M40 1 25 Ace trips bunch 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Pass Throwback screen Gallon 12
Always works; works. Lewan(+1) donkeys the corner, Gallon goes outside, safety fills. (CA, 3, screen) RPS +1? Sure.
O48 2 13 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Power off tackle Smith 6
Lewan(+1) blows one DT off the ball; Barnum(+0.5) finishes sealing him. Williams(+0.5) takes on a DE, then moves to the second level, passing the DE off to Kerridge. Williams can't quite lock that LB out, though, and he falls to tackle Smith just as he's breaking through to the secondary with Omameh(+0.5) as a safety-destroyer in front of him. Potential TD otherwise.
O42 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide tight 1 1 3 Okie Pass Drag Gardner 42
UMass sends the house. Unblocked guy right up the gut who Smith blows up, allowing Denard time to step around and up into the pocket. Everyone else is taken care of. Gardner's drag has taken him past a LB; Denard hits him. Gardner then just barely outruns #9 (who can play) and tiptoes the sideline for a spectacular TD. (CA+, 3, protection 3/3, special Smith commendation issued)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-10, 6 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M45 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Inside zone Toussaint 8
DL overplays to the playside here and the WLB is sucked out to the corner because Denard must be contained. Toussaint(+1) finds the cutback after Omameh(+1) shoots an aggressive DT past his hole. Schofield(+0.5) walls off the backside DE. Barnum and Mealer(+0.5) each combo to the second level.
O47 2 2 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Inside zone Toussaint 10
Barnum(+1) has a one on one matchup with playside DT and gets motion on the guy, driving him back a couple yards. SLB runs himself outside aimlessly. Williams and Lewan double playside DE and kick him out; would like to see Lewan climb to second level but this may be short yardage approach. Toussaint(+1) beats a filling safety to the edge and turns a first down into a small chunk. Mealer(+1) got a free release and beat up the MLB.
O37 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Iso Toussaint 1
Nice play by the MLB to find the hole immediately, shooting past Mealer's block and arriving to tackle just as Kerridge is kicking out the SLB. Mealer(-1) could have taken a better angle to the second level, but this is mostly an RPS -1. Barnum(+1) and Lewan(+1) had provided a nice big hole with one on one blocks.
O36 2 9 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even Pass Waggle throwaway Roundtree Inc
Everyone covered; LB specifically containing this play. Denard pumps and escapes outside, then just dumps it as he nears the LOS and it becomes clear he doesn't really have a running lane. Assumption is this was just putting the ball in the turf. (TA, 0, protection N/A, RPS -1)
O36 3 9 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 3-4 Pass Scramble Robinson 36
Has forever as UMass rushes three, then sends a spy late. Denard eventually decides to use those feet things, at which point laughter happens. Kerridge +1 for getting the downfield block that ends any chance of pursuit. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2, Denard +3 on ground)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-10, 4 min 2nd Q. They get it back with 2:02 to go and run a two minute drill.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Pass Wheel Smith 19
Play action with the three WRs running vertical. LB has to sink into the boundary route, opening up a wheel for Smith; Denard floats it in nicely. Smith(+2) then stops on a dime and spins inside the tackle attempt, turning eight yards into 20. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)
M36 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide tight 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Cross Gardner Inc
Same route Gardner had for a TD. No pressure this time and Denard just misses this one. This was going for 20+ too. (IN, 0, protection 2/'2)
M36 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 4-3 even Pass Scramble Robinson -3
Denard appears to be looking for a Jackson hitch. There's a LB under it and he decides against the throw. LB then turns his back to chase downfield; Denard decides to run. Good decision, but he bumps into Mealer before he can get his motor running and falls. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2) Scramble awarded because this was a good idea that went bad; if Denard escapes the pocket he's got at least ten.
M33 3 13 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Cross Dileo 16
This one is in between Dileo's numbers; route is a yard or two short of the sticks but the throw allows him to turn it up for the first down easily. No pressure. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
M49 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass In J. Robinson 9
Has just forever and eventually zings it to JRobinson just in front of a defender. Probably should have looked for Smith, who is abandoned, but he hit the guy so okay. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)
O42 2 1 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Hitch Dileo 9 + 15 pen
Another pump, this one at Funchess on a little out; he decides against that and nails Dileo on a hitch. Against better opposition these delays may be a problem. Here Schofield(-1) did get beat; Robinson gets a faceful of DE. (CA, 3, protection ½, Schofield -1) This turns into a dodgy flag.
O18 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run QB draw Robinson 16
LBs way back, expecting pass and backing out at the snap. As soon as Omameh(+1) shoves the playside DT way down the line this is easy money. Mealer(+1) got a good downfield block; Robinson(+1) is fast and stuff and knows to burrow behind Mealer. RPS +2.
O2 1 G Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line Run Iso Toussaint 0
Kwiatkowski(-1) does not get any push as a lead blocker and ends up stalemated; Kerridge runs up his back but can't actually contact an opponent, and Toussaint has no crease.
O1 2 G Goal line 2 2 1 Goal line Penalty Illegal sub N/A 1
All right.
O1 2 G Goal line 2 2 1 Goal line Run Speed option Robinson 1
If this is a real option, Denard should pitch(-1), but doesn't. He gets tackled by a blitzer in too quickly on Lewan(-1), the fumbles(-2) as he reaches out to the goal line. Lewan, or someone anyway, recovers. Ah, hell. RPS -1.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 42-13, EOH
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O41 1 10 Shotgun trips Te 1 1 3 Nickel even Run Inverted veer give Toussaint 13
DE is not containing Toussaint; give. That's about it. Rest of the D is in the box in case Denard keeps. Gardner, Jackson, and Roundtree(+0.5 each) all get okay to good blocks on DBs downfield. RPS +1.
O28 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel even Run Inverted veer give Toussaint 11
Identical thing to other side. DE does not show hard upfield, give. MLB gets outside of Dileo but for naught as there's a ton of space. Lewan(+1) pancaked the other guy, that's why. Jackson(+1) gets a good extended block downfield and Toussaint(+1) takes what's he's given, accelerating past fallen bodies until the sticks. RPS +1.
O17 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel even Run Inside zone Toussaint -1
UMass slants; this catches Mealer(+1) but surprise but he adjusts to starts shoving the slanter by the play. Lewan(+0.5) and Barnum(+0.5) had comboed the backside DT and climbed to the second level; Toussaint gets past the Lewan block, downshifts to hit this gaping hole... and gets roped down by a hand. Bad luck, that.
O18 2 11 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass Slant Gallon Inc
Batted at the line. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)
O18 3 11 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel even Pass Post Roundtree 18
Excellent time; Denard finds and nails Roundtree on a post the safety probably should have covered but does not. Must have overplayed the route further inside. Not sure if this is too far outside or if Denard is playing it safe but he does hold Roundtree up some. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 49-13, 10 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M28 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Inside zone Toussaint 11
Playside DT ends up coming through the line but not sure if that's a big problem since by doing so he gets shoved way past where he wants to be by Mealer(+1). Toussaint cuts behind. Barnum(+1) is doing to the same to the next guy. He cuts behind. Kwiatkowski(+1) has blown the last guy two yards downfield; Toussaint(+2) bursts outside. He anticipates and leaps past the safety's attempt to fill, then jukes a corner, and he's in the clear. Pursuit takes him down at the sticks.
M39 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Triple veer around Norfleet 14
Norfleet on the outside, he motions in and takes a quick handoff. Unblocked DE to that side is playing an inverted veer and lets Norfleet by. JRobinson(+1) cracks down and blows up the playside LB; the press corner goes with him. Gyarmati is leading now and has only the S to block. He does so; Norfleet tries to shoot past him, ankle tackle. Nice play by that S; if he only maintains leverage this might be six points. RPS +2.
O47 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Power off tackle Toussaint 3
Schofield(+0.5) and Omameh(+0.5) bury the playside DT. Williams(+1) shoves the DE outside and then comes down on a linebacker; Gyarmati finishes kicking the DE. Barnum(-1) freaks out when Wiliams's guy starts moving upfield and hits him instead of continuing outside. He bounces back off this; Toussaint runs into him. That delay gets safeties involved; Toussaint gets what he can surrounded by white shirts.
O44 2 7 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 0
DE splits the two runners very well, getting Denard(-1) to keep and still tackling. Barnum(-1) flat lost his guy one on one, straight up, no slant, and he penetrates to prevent any Denard funny stuff.
O44 3 7 Shotgun empty TE 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack Pass Cross Gardner 6
Back out from heavy pressure look to three man line. Gardner sets up on a hitch and then starts drifting across the field; Denard doesn't like the deeper look and zings it underneath. A tiny bit short of the first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O38 4 1 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 3-4 Run Power off tackle Rawls 18
They've replaced Lewan. Schofield(-0.5) now at LT, he does not get his DL moving and allows some penetration that ends up delaying a pulling Burzynski. Gyarmati(+1) plus a guy on the edge, who does not keep the edge; Rawls(+1) sees that and heads out there. He breaks contain, picks up a bunch of yards, and then lowers the boom on a pretty hefty dude to finish it off.
O20 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Triple veer give Rawls 4
Playside DE goes straight at the pulling G and submarines him; Kerridge is trying to seal him inside so that the G can get out but he's got no shot. That's a two for one for the D. Corner is now the contain guy. He sees Rawls has it and is agile enough to crash down to tackle. Rawls takes a hit from the guy Burzynski couldn't block, too. RPS -1, but I like the concept.
O16 2 6 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Pass Triple veer PA JRobinson Inc
Backside DE is going straight for Denard and gets instant pressure. Denard throws off his back foot at an open-ish Robinson and misses. Torn between IN and PR here. He had few alternatives and didn't put up a punt, so PR. (PR, 0, protection N/A, RPS -1)
O16 3 6 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 Base 3-4 Pass Out Roundtree 7
WCO precision route with Williams taking a corner out and opening up a small window for the conversion. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O9 1 G Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 4-3 even Run Inside zone Smith 9
UMass blitzes from the edge; Kerridge(+1) does a good job to come down on him and clock him, clearing the edge. The edge should be win UMass but the LB just biffs it, taking a crappy angle. Smith(+1) outruns him to the corner and gets in. An RPS -1, probably, but results.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 56-13, 3 min 3rd Q. Backups the rest of the way, including the walk-on OL. Charting ceases.

Indubitably, I say.

What?

You said these chaps weren't very good after the first drive.

Oh, right. They're not. Let's do the numbers. So I've got these—

CHARTS

Charts.

Denard.

[Hennechart legend is updated.]

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR DSR
2011 through MSU 13 66(12) 11(1) 34(1) 17 2 3 10 4 55%
2011 after MSU 9 77(9) 7 17 9 6(1) 5(2) 9 5 69%
Alabama 4 15(2) 1 4 3 - - 3(1) 1 71%
Air Force 1 14 3 2 1 - 2 1 - 75%
UMass 1 16(4) - 4 - 1 1 1 3 68%

An easy day with a lot of open guys and a few worrying misses. Those were the INT, the cross to Gardner flung over his head, and the little Gallon drag similarly flung to Tacopants. The fourth one was a bomb on which he was long, which happens. But hey no BRs (UMass covered no one so there could not be any) and some scrambles (UMass managed to both not cover anyone and give up huge running lanes).

As I was saying, indubitably.

Indububibubly.

What?

BOOM 1987 CEREAL COMMERCIAL

This is burned into my head.

Let's talk about actual things. Denard accuracy monitoring?

Still feeling pretty good about it. Though UMass was actually a slight step back in the Downfield Success Rate metric, its impact on our hypothesis ("Borges + Denard == Tate Forcier passing") is positive since we need more data here.

He's still good for the one or two ARGH NO throws a game nothing will ever get him to stop. Look at those Throwaway numbers: three games, one ball I thought was not an attempt to complete a pass. Four more got filed as scrambles, but that's still a vanishingly low percentage of balls tossed away. Everett Golson doubled that in one game against MSU.

We got some more screens.

Yes, as Heiko's on-going, not-serious-but-actually-deadly-serious bubble/lazer-off with Borges highlights, Denard is throwing more stuff at or behind the LOS. The four throws marked as screens in the last game are almost half of Denard's output from the entire second half of last year.

Bubble bubble yes but there was also an honest to God screen-screen that Toussaint turned up for a bunch. Michigan hasn't been throwing those under Borges because when Denard has tried it he has gotten pressure in his face and launced balls well over the intended receiver's head. Maybe that's technique, maybe it's the fact that he's maybe six foot tall and there is no angle that he can throw the thing that won't get stuffed back in his face and not overshoot the mark dangerously.

On the linked screen above, Michigan actually gets it done by blocking the end and shoving the DT, giving Denard a window. The horizontal aspect also helps prevent disaster—previously a lot of these RB screens were going straighter up the field. I'm still not sure how much that's ever going to be a staple since teams tend not to blitz Denard hard, but having that option is a nice.

Also: throwback. Believe it.

What happened on the next play after that bubble you linked above?

UMass put about five and a half players in the box and got a QB draw in their face for 24 yards. Panacea, no, but an effective play that opens up the rest of your offense when people on the edge are accounted for man-to-man.

Denard doing stuff with legs?

Michigan's been working on the veer. Michigan has moved from a stationary quick pull to the more common hop-hop-hop-decide process where the QB rides that fake as long as possible and only makes a decision when he feels the DE has committed. Even when he doesn't commit that movement and delay gets results on the second play of the game:

You'll notice that the pulling G actually runs by that DE (and then widens out so far that he ends up blocking a guy already being blocked many yards from Denard, so they're not exactly a machine yet).

Michigan's also screwing around with some additions/alterations, like the Norfleet end-around series Michigan broke out in the third quarter.

There the DE is like "veer veer veer" and Norfleet just zooms by him. Once he's outside of that, a big gain is guaranteed. Michigan came back  with a  handoff and a play action pass off that, neither of which were as successful.

This was kind of like the Minnesota game last year when Michigan test-drove their sprint counter against the twitching corpse of a long-dead opponent. I like seeing new stuff enter the offense, but I'd rather bring it out against Notre Dame. What's the deal with all the secrecy around the program if they're just going to bring out the toys against the UMasses of the world?

Offensive line?

Offensive line. 43 runs in this one, so numbers should approach normal… and would if I hadn't chalked up many of the yards gained as UMass being UMass. Remember that it's the ratio that is important for the OL. On a lot of plays they do okay and get a push.

Offensive Line
Player + - Total Notes
Lewan 7.5 1 6.5 Dominating in this game.
Barnum 7 6 1 Pretty concerning. Fell down some, got straight up beat a couple times.
Mealer 9 1 8 Mobility in space a pleasant surprise.
Omameh 7.5 - 7.5 Beating up on little guys, but Nix will be a load.
Schofield 3.5 0.5 3 Got beat once in pass pro, but fine. Think people got a little panicked because of Alabama.
Kwiatkowski 1.5 2 -0.5 Eh.
Moore - - - DNP
Williams 1.5 - 1.5 Eh.
Funchess 1.5 - - HE DOES EVERYTHING (against UMass sometimes)
TOTAL 39 10.5 79% Meaningfulness: not meaningful.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 10 5 5 Hit him for the fumble.
Bellomy - - - DNC
Toussaint 13 2 11 Did a lot of bouncing, hit a lot of holes, juked some guys.
Rawls 1 - 1 Lowered the boom on a pretty big dude.
Smith 4 - 4 Spin move was sweet.
Hayes - - - DNC
Hopkins - - - DNP
Kerridge 3 - 3 Insert complaints about scholarship FBs.
TOTAL 31 7 24 Gyarmati was also +1.
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Gardner 1.5 - 1.5  
Roundtree 0.5 1 -0.5  
Gallon - - -  
Jackson 1.5 - -  
Dileo 1 - 1 --
J. Robinson 1 - -  
Darboh - - - --
TOTAL 5.5 1 4.5 [Comment]
Metrics
Player + - T Notes
Protection 32 2 94% Team –1, Schofield -1
RPS 14 7 +7 Veerin'.

That's what happens when you average almost 7 YPC without a run longer than 36 yards. Note also the near-flawless day in pass protection. Denard had forever, and on that 36 yard run he had two forevers before finally deciding to take off.

So, yeah. Complete obliteration of a foe that can only be obliterated and causes panic if you do not obliterate them. File under necessary and not meaningful.

POWER OL POWER RANKINGSSSSS

Um, okay.

1. Lewan
2. Mealer
3. Schofield
4. Omameh
5. Barnum

Barnum had problems?

Yeah. He fell down a couple times; once he just never popped off a double and exposed Toussaint to an unblocked LB, and late on a veer-type run he got beat straight up. By ND transfer Hafis Williams, so not a total scrub, but from a confidence perspective guys who transferred away from the team you're about to play are not the best guys to beat your OL.

Last game I thought Omameh struggled and Barnum did pretty well, so jury is out on both guards.

Toussaint's pretty good again?

Yeah, man. Independent of the opponent he tiptoed the line for a TD and I love a particular aspect of this zone that cuts all the way across the field. Try to figure out what it is:

If you guessed "the little hop he takes when he perceives that an ankle tackle is coming from behind," you win an MGoPoint.

Receivers?

[Passes are rated by how tough they are to catch. 0 == impossible. 1 == wow he caught that, 2 == moderate difficulty, 3 == routine. The 0/X in all passes marked zero is implied.]

Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Gardner 2 - - 2/2   7 0/3 1/2 7/7
Roundtree 1   - 2/2   3 0/1 1/1 4/4
Gallon 2     3/3   4 0/1 2/3 5/5
J. Robinson   0/1   1/1   1 0/1   2/2
Dileo     1/1 2/2   1 1/1 1/1 2/2
Jackson 1         1     3/4
Darboh                  
Chesson                  
                   
Kwiatkowski       1/1         2/2
Moore                  
Funchess   1/1   1/1     1/1   5/5
Williams                  
                   
Toussaint       1/1       0/1 1/1
Smith       1/1       0/1 3/3
Rawls                  

A bit of a fuss was made about Gardner only bringing in 8 of 20 targets this far. I'm missing one, but of my 19 he's got seven with no shot and three really tough ones. It's somewhat about his routes, but I chalk most of that up to "is deep threat".

I've mentioned this already this week, but Dileo is increasingly a guy who I'm comfortable with getting lots of playing time. He's not big, he's not super fast, but he catches everything in his area…

…and has a knack for keeping his feet as he does so. Usual slot-dot drawbacks apply; Dileo adds a fourth or fifth guy who I think is a pretty good receiving option.

QB Oh Noes returns?

A point of order is in… order after I saw a bunch of @replies in the twitter and BWS pointed out the vast open Funchess TD. QB Oh Noes was coined here to specifically refer to plays on which Denard himself takes a step towards the line as part of a run fake and then backs out. The PA fake made here:

Is something RR did a bit but not a ton. Borges, on the other hand, does run it a ton, and did last year as well. Now that he's got Funchess running down that seam expect even more of it.

[Also, BWS points out that Omameh is not quite Air Force-level illegally downfield. Illegal downfield: go for it, OL!]

Special commendation Vincent Smith needs out-of-table love.

Indurbiertably.

"Why isn't Norfleet playing more?" the message boards ask. That is why. Fingerguns Smith.

BONUS: that's the play of which Borges said this:

I’m knocking on wood. I never assume anything, but his footwork is like night and day. He’s pulling balls down now and working up underneath the pocket and taking off and buying beats. He had a play during the game and it was a zero blitz where he got underneath the rush, gave Vince a chance to chip off a blitzing linebacker and threw the ball to Devin for a touchdown. A year ago he would have run backwards, and they’d have chased him for about an hour, and he’d probably end up throwing it out of bounds.

I'm ready to upgrade the Denard Can Throw hypothesis to a theory if he can just do it on Saturday.

BONUS BONUS: Smith spin move swag featuring Denard touch pass.

Heroes?

Anyone.

Goats?

If you're really mean and stuff, Barnum could have done better.

What does it mean for ND and the future?

Sadly, not much. The worries about the OL will go one way or the other on Saturday and I'm not sure which one it will be. Schofield's going to come in for scrutiny—I'm guessing he handles it fine. More concerned about the guards.

Meanwhile, inching towards the idea that Denard can throw… sidling up to it, not looking at it directly, maybe giving it an eyebrow. Saturday is maybe not an acid test against a young secondary featuring three position switch starters, but after last year yeah it's an acid test. Let's do some stuff not on Gary Gray's back.

Big Ten Draft O' Snark: The Final Snarkdown

Big Ten Draft O' Snark: The Final Snarkdown

Submitted by Seth on August 29th, 2012 at 8:52 AM

IMG_4710

PREVIOUSLY ON "MGOBLOG WRITERS DRAFT BIG TEN TEAMS SO YOU CAN NOW, FINALLY, VOTE FOR THE TEAM THAT HAS DENARD ON IT"…

Rounds 1-3: At Jim Leyland's lakeside mansion in Somerset, quarterbacks are divided.

Rounds 4-7: In the War Room of the Toledo Ramada Inn, Heiko is replaced by a mysterious stocky middle-aged man with a mustache.

Rounds 8-12: In the Presidential Suite of of the Ishpeming Red Roof Inn, a 1970 Fiat 500 assumes the commissioner's chair, rules all picks must get 30 mpg.

Rounds 13-17: In a Secret Submarine Headquarters Underneath the North Atlantic, iPhones apparently get zero bars.

Rounds 18-something whatever: Onboard the Voyager II Spacecraft at the Edge of the Solar System, quarterbacks are put through a series of zero-grav tests to determine if there is anything they can't do.

Companion pieces: MGoBlog's All Big Ten Team, Googledoc spreadsheet of handiness.

Weary and ignoring the complaints of abused livers, SETH, HEIKO, ACE, and something that looks like a lanky sheep dog emerge from a secret lair in the PHOSPHATE MINES of the PACIFIC ISLAND OF NAURU. They ask for your ballot…

SethG HeikoG AceG Briang

Seth "Progress" Fisher/Heiko "Progress" Yang/Ace "Progress" Anbender/Brian "Progress" Cook

POLLS ARE NOW OPEN. Go vote!

The Final Snarkdown

BRIAN COOK AND THE FLYIN' ZOOKS:

Michigan Illinois FootballIMG_1545

OFFENSE: Nathan Scheelhaase (QB, ILL), Fitzgerald Toussaint (RB, M), LeVeon Bell (HB/FB, MSU), Jared Abbrederis (WR, UW), MarQuies Gray (QB/WR, Minn), Kevonte Martin-Manley (WR, Iowa), CJ Fieodorwicz (TE, Iowa), Taylor Lewan (LT, M), Ryan Groy (LG, UW), Matt Stankiewitch (C, PSU), Chris McDonald (RG, MSU), Jack Mewhort (RT, OSU).

DEFENSE: Ra'Shede Hageman (DE, Minnesota), John Simon (DE, OSU), Beau Allen (NT, UW), Akeem Spence (DT, ILL), Jake Ryan (LB, M), Desmond Morgan (LB, M), Denicos Allen (LB, MSU), Terry Hawthorne (CB, ILL), Bradley Roby (CB, OSU), Blake Countess (CB, M), Daimion Stafford (SS, UNL), Christian Bryant (FS, OSU)

861569SPECIAL TEAMS: Mitch Ewald (K, Indiana), Andrew Maxwell (P, Michigan State), Abbrederis (KR/PR, Wis)

I didn't mean to do this but I ended up with a Rodriguez spread'n'shred circa 2007 with a running quarterback, a damn fast outside back, and a fullback type who can rip off runaway beer truck touchdowns. The offensive line is a lot more POWER based but I figure that's fine since Auburn and others have made the inverted veer and related plays major spread drivers. Then you've got an array of excellent WRs with big catching radius: the deep threat (Abbrederis), the unstoppable guy on intermediate routes (Gray), and a promising TE.

The defense is Greg Mattison.

FINAL SNARKDOWN (by Heiko): Dear Brian: You know that red and gray plaid shirt you wear all the time? You should wear it less. Oh, something mean about his team? Ummmm... None of your QBs have a winning record. I've seen Desmond Morgan in person, and he's still really small and liable to get crushed by offensive linemen. And you drafted two LOLphers.

[The drafters still got some splainin' to do. For the rest of the roundtable, and which school had the most picks, and stuff, HIT THE JUMP.]

Preview 2012: Offensive Line

Preview 2012: Offensive Line

Submitted by Brian on August 28th, 2012 at 12:32 PM

Previous: Podcast 4.0, the story, quarterback, running back, wide receivers.

oline-vs-osu

Depth Chart
LT Yr. LG Yr. C Yr. RG Yr. RT Yr.
Taylor Lewan Jr.* Elliott Mealer Sr.* Ricky Barnum Sr.* Patrick Omameh Sr.* Michael Schofield Jr.*
Erik Magnuson Fr. Joey Burzynski So.* Jack Miller Fr.* Kyle Kalis Fr. Ben Braden Fr.

This again. One year after Michigan's offensive line looked pretty shiny as long as you did not consider the cliff after guy #6, Michigan's offensive line looks really shiny… as long as you don't consider the cliff after guy #5. Or maybe guy #4. In a best case scenario, still guy #6.

Last year, Michigan had Michael Schofield to step into the lineup, and needed him to. This year any injury will see a walk-on or freshman—probably a true freshman—hit the field. Yipes.

But let's not think about that. As long as the starting five stays intact, the line should be quality. Taylor Lewan is projected as a first-round NFL draft pick, Patrick Omameh is in his fourth year as a starter, Michael Schofield started most of last year and moves to a more natural position, and the other two guys are redshirt seniors. Michigan should have a better line this year even without David Molk.

That first step's a doozy, though.

Tackle

Rating: 5 of 5, not considering depth

(CAPTION INFORMATION)
Michigan offensive linesman Taylor Lewan and Purdue safety Albert Evans have words after a play.  Lewan was given a penalty for his troubles.               Photos are of the University of Michigan vs. Purdue University at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, October 29, 2011.   (David Guralnick / The Detroit News)
(caption) Michigan OL Taylor Lewan (77) blocks Eastern Michigan Eagles linebacker Marcus English (42), paving the way for Denard Robinson's rushing touchdown  in the second quarter.    *** The Michigan Wolverines (2-0) host the Eastern Michigan Eagles (2-0) at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. Photos taken on Saturday, September 17, 2011. ( John T. Greilick / The Detroit News )

Guralnick/Greilick, Detroit News

At this point, "Taylor Lewan is the next Jake Long" is not hope or hype or projection but just a (pretty much) true thing. Lewan may not go first overall in the NFL draft but he's already being projected in the top half of the first round next year, should he choose to depart.

After a promising but penalty-filled freshman year, Lewan cut out the holding calls and stoned opposing pass rushers, snap in, snap out. The primary reason ultra-hyped MSU DE Will Gholston started playing judo chop with various Lewan limbs was that he had no hope of impacting the game in any other fashion:

TAYLOR LEWAN
AGILITY TO PULL
sprint counter
gets outside on p&p
another sprint counter
HATES DONKEYS
donkey McNaul
donkey Short
donkey Meredith
donkey some guy
donkey-ish Hankins
DONKEY HANKINS
ETC.
nice seal on Worthy
stands up Binns
gets Toussaint edge
DOES BIFF
loses balance
fails to cut on screen

In a game where the Michigan OL was overwhelmed, blitz or not (Mark Huyge got 7 protection minuses), Lewan had a measly +1. Across twelve games of fending off the opposition's best pass rusher he racked up a total of four protection minuses. Two of those were for not cutting a guy on a screen; a third was not getting out on a corner on an attempted double pass. The fourth is somewhere in that video above, and I'm not even sure what that was. Even counting that there was literally one QB hurry going one-on-one with Lewan last year, to say nothing of actual sacks. There is a reason he is getting the NFL hype.

(Note that when blitzes cause confusion not localizable to one or two players that sends in free rushers I file that under "team." Lewan's no doubt responsible for some of those. When he identifies a guy to block, it's over.)

The black lining in our silver cloud was Lewan's lack of impact in the run game. He started off well, with three games around +10 in the UFR run chart and a 7-3-+4 against ND in limited opportunities—Michigan did jack before eviscerating Gary Gray in the fourth quarter. This was noted.

how often have you thought about Taylor Lewan this year? Not often, right? Mostly when he takes some donkey and punches it so hard in the nose shards of cartilage come out the back of its donkeyhelmet, right? (In a non-personal-foul acquiring way, of course.)

After that, he struggled to register on the run chart until late. His Big Ten season:

Game Opponent + - T Comment
5 MINN 5.5 6 -0.5 Yeah, surprised me too: had a couple busts and one bad whiff.
6 NW 4.5 2 2.5 Why so low, numbers? Discussion later.
7 MSU 6 5 1 Lucky to have both arms in his shoulder sockets.
8 PU 7 1 6 Would like to see him more involved somehow.
9 Iowa 6 7 -1 Off day.
10 Illinois 8 5 3 Had some mistakes in space.
11 Nebraska 9 - 9 Finally some productive donkey hatred. Belly helps him produce; also got Toussaint the edge on a play that would have gone badly otherwise.
12 OSU 9.5 1 8 Effective against DTs, mostly, also getting to the second level.

There's a certain amount of busting plays that is part and parcel of being an offensive lineman, especially one learning a new offense. That doesn't bother me. What does is the overall lack of positives until the tail end of the season. Heavily involved linemen will be putting up twice the positives and negatives as the above—Omameh had eight games where his positives were above ten and five where they were 13 or greater. Lewan didn't get there, and I think this was because of Omameh, ironically:

What is with those Lewan numbers?

The system doesn't try to judge blocks that are far away from the play and often declares an easy thing done okay to be a zero, so backside tackles and down-blocking guys a gap away from the play rarely register. Lewan rarely registered and this week's picture pages were examples of Schofield pulling, Schofield pulling, and Schofield pulling. Why is Michigan pulling the converted tackle backup and running away from their donkey-hating first round tackle?

The only conclusion that makes sense is they hate pulling Omameh. When they did pull left, they pulled Molk or Schofield and Molk, only rarely trying Omameh.

We'll talk about that when we get to the right guard, but Omameh came on in those last three games in which Lewan finally got some traction. Once they could pull the right guard, the left tackle got to express his donkey hatred.

With Omameh figuring it out and another year of experience for both, Michigan figures to be more left-handed on the ground; combine that with the pass blocking mentioned above and factor the injuries Lewan dragged around all year and the projections for his 2012 should be sky-high. He should be an All-American, or at least play like one.

[hit THE JUMP to find out about the other starters, but probably not the backups.]

Big Ten Draft O' Snark: All Big Ten Team

Big Ten Draft O' Snark: All Big Ten Team

Submitted by Seth on August 22nd, 2012 at 9:14 AM

image

Several weeks ago Brian sent me an e-mail to say we're going to have a fantasy draft of Big Ten players called "The Draft Where Whoever Picks Denard Wins," and that I was on the clock. (Parts II, III, and IV)

People of the Earth: this is how you recruit for a fantasy league. Actually this is how if you're a college sports site editor you motivate your hypercompetitive (Michigan grads, remember?) staff to become insane experts on the rest of the conference right before football season begins. For that reason, despite quarterbacks chosen out of position and so so much snark, right now we feel as competent as anyone at putting out one of those All-Such-and-Such list things.

The draft is still going on and some of the picks we've made have yet to be revealed, however we have tagged enough positions at this point to post an official-ish pre-season All Big Ten team. There's a few specialists I'll include but won't reveal who drafted them. I'll also follow up either next week or later on this week with a "what we learned about the Big Ten" post that breaks down all the picks by team. This one's about the best by position.

Site note: We're bringing back jumps again so we can fit more content on the front page for you during the season. You see the "Read more" thing below this? CLICK THAT to get to the good stuff.

Big Ten Draft O' Snark: The Fourth Bit

Big Ten Draft O' Snark: The Fourth Bit

Submitted by Brian on August 15th, 2012 at 2:22 PM

PREVIOUSLY ON "MGOBLOG WRITERS DRAFT THEIR VERY OWN BIG TEN TEAMS WITH DISTRESSINGLY LOW NUMBERS OF MICHIGAN PLAYERS":

SETH got Denard, then did some other stuff I guess. He also got Kovacs.

ACE god Ace your team is SO BORING, got EVEN MORE BORING, and then I just don't even know man because I'm thinking about anything else.

HEIKO took quarterbacks, then took quarterbacks, then tried to hump the rules real good by taking a combo kicker.

BRIAN got stuck with Nathan Scheelhaase, wept, and then told himself he would develop a narrative of victory, whereupon maybe he kind of did maybe (call me?). No he didn't.

We find our HEROIC DRAFTERS in a SECRET SUBMARINE HEADQUARTERS UNDERNEATH THE NORTH ATLANTIC [ed-S: ...where iPhones can't get OSU eligibility updates]. Heiko is on the clock for the SECOND PICK of round THIRTEEN…

Follow along on Seth's spreadsheet here.

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

HEIKO

Ryan Shazier Penn State v Ohio State bByS8kadbJMl[1]PICK: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State

CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QB/RB, UNL), Kyle Prater (WR, NW), Devin Gardner (QB/WR, UM), DeAnthony Arnett (WR, MSU)

CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU), Craig Roh (DE, UM), Ryan Shazier (LB, OSU), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)

KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska

BRIEF EXPLANATION: At this point the field of competition has narrowed to exclude Brian's great Scheelhaase experiment, so I'm going to focus my attention on neutralizing Seth and Ace. To deal with Denard Robinson, I'm going to procure my own heat-seeking missile in the form of Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier, who you may remember notching a bazillion tackles toward the end of last season and is poised to break out in 2012. Sure, Denard had a field day in last year's edition of The Game, but that's because Borges was smart enough to use misdirection with Toussaint and option the crap out of Ohio State's linebackers.

Shazier still ended up with 8 tackles, several of which were touchdown preventing, and he did this on a bad knee. At 100% and a little more experience, Shazier could end up better than Nebraska's second-round draft pick Lavonte David.

SNERK: The key to this pick is that Seth does not get Fitz and I do not end up with Etienne Sabino. Check, and pending. On an unrelated note, but just to be clear: Two of your quarterbacks lost to Minnesota last year.

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

ACE

129035494_display_image[1]PICK: Spencer Long, guard, Nebraska

CURRENT O: Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Ricky Wagner (OL, UW), Keenan Davis (WR, IA), Travis Frederick (C, UW), Spencer Long (G, NEB)

CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW), William Gholston (DE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (LB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR), Ibraheim Campbell (S, NW)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Long was an unknown, untested walk-on heading into 2011, but by the end of the season he'd earned enough respect to be named second-team all-conference by the media and honorable mention by the coaches. At 6'4", 305, Long lacks the ideal size for an NFL interior line prospect; the ground production of Rex Burkhead and Taylor Martinez, however, indicate the strength up front for the Huskers, and Long is widely considered their best lineman. With my offense clearly predicated around the running game, Long is a great fit.

SNARK: I'm sure Ryan Shazier won't open up any gaping lanes against these run-heavy attacks. Nope, not at all.

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

SETH

Jacob Pedersen Wisconsin v Michigan State Zvqu2UfHmCNl[1]PICKS: Jacob Pedersen, tight end, Wisconsin; and Graham Pocic, offensive line, Illinois

CURRENT O: Denard Robinson (QB, M), Rex Burkhead (RB, Neb), Kofi Hughes (WR, Ind), Jacob Pedersen (TE, Wis), Michael Schofield (OT, M), Graham Pocic (OL, Ill)

CURRENT D:  John Hankins (NT, OSU), Kawaan Short (3T, Pur), Marcus Rush (DE, MSU), Jon Brown (MLB, Ill), Gerald Hodges (OLB, PSU), Jordan Kovacs (SS, M), Micah Hyde (CB, Iowa)

EXPLANATION: There are only a few best overall players left at any position and even fewer 5-stars left on my draft board, so to get two here is VALUE. That begins with Pedersen, who would be in an argument for best tight end in the conference with Stoneburner if Stoneburner was eligible. [ed: ????]

Since he's not, [EDIT: mea culpa] I get the position's lone star: 30 catches for 356 yards for 12 ypc, and eight (8!!!) touchdowns. And unlike Neb's Reed, Pedersen also happens to be a better blocker than receiver. If the knock on him is he's *only* 6'4, I urge you to check the sizes of your safeties and OLBs who won't be defending him up the seam (Cover 3 you say? BOOM Denard'd). Who says spreads can't have tight ends? Martell Webb was a secret reason M's 2010 offense was awesome, and I've got Webb who can catch plus a go-to option for when Denard and Rex get me to the red zone.

07-Oct-10_102118071JD091_Ohio_State_v_crop_450x500[1]Pocic meanwhile makes every all-conference list and a few all-American mentions. I know why he fell this far: Go to the D vs Illini UFR last year and look at Martin and RVB's monster days. Much of that I put on the guards since Pocic was called on to release downfield while M's elite DL blew by the other guys, however he had more than his fair share of awful that day, including letting Will Campbell get under him and shove him back on a crucial short situation. This is because crazy-ass Zook put a fleet-footed, 6'7/310 dude at CENTER. Not I said the Seth. This senior leader is going at guard or tackle--NFL projections do the same--both of which he has played and either of which makes his length an asset while better utilizing his devastating downfield blocking skills and keeping him away from the low-leverage pluggers he can't swallow whole.

SNARK: Speaking of monster DL days, check out the following week when Martin et al. threw Nebraska's light-footed walk-on guard around like a ragdoll. Now picture that guy in Wisconsin's man-blocking scheme where his specialized abilities won't even help him. Now remember Ace just lost the tight end he was so sure the spread outfits (or Heiko's Fitz offense) would overlook and be kind because he's really just a nice guy having a bad day.

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

ACE

106811260_crop_exact[1]PICK: Jake Stoneburner, tight end, Ohio State

CURRENT O: Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Ricky Wagner (OT, UW), Keenan Davis (WR, IA), Travis Frederick (C, UW), Spencer Long (G, NEB), Jake Stoneburner (TE, OSU)

CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW), William Gholston (DE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (LB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR), Ibraheim Campbell (S, NW)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Uh, Seth? Stoneburner, along with partner-in-crime Jack Mewhort, is practicing with Ohio State while waiting for his inevitable reinstatement. I was just waiting for the first tight end to go off the board and, oh, hey, here we are. At 6'5", 245, Stoneburner provides a big target and also has the size to be a solid run-blocker. He'll provide a critical red-zone option for Vandenberg, as seven of his 14 receptions last year went for touchdowns. He also has the versatility to split out wide, something he did a fair amount this spring, giving my offense greater flexibility. Stoneburner's numbers should only increase now that Ohio State's quarterback situation has worked itself out, and just imagine what his numbers would be like with a marksman like Vandenberg slinging him the rock. That's what I've got, and good luck stopping this team in the red zone.

SNARK: Might want to spend a little more time on that iPhone, Seth.

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

HEIKO

Capital One Bowl FootballPICK: Max Bullough, LB, Michigan State

CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QB/RB, UNL), Kyle Prater (WR, NW), Devin Gardner (QB/WR, UM), DeAnthony Arnett (WR, MSU)

CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU), Craig Roh (DE, UM), Ryan Shazier (LB, OSU), Max Bullough (LB, MSU), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)

KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Heat-seeking missile: check. Large blunt object: I'll take Michigan State LB Max Bullough. In a conference that's pretty loaded with inside linebackery types, Bullough is probably the most talented. I like that he was second team All-B1G last season even without super-inflated stats (89 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 3.5 sacks), and I like that he isn't 5'11 and fat. Michigan State DC Pat Narduzzi recently called him the best linebacker he's ever coached, so if that means Bullough is better than former MSU All-American LB Greg Jones, that's fantastic.

Bullough's size -- 6'3, 252 lbs -- suggests that he could also play SAM should I choose to draft another middle linebacker so that I don't have to draft Etienne Sabino. He also reminds me a lot of David Molk, and I have a soft spot in my heart for people who remind me of NO I DON'T SPARTY SUCKS KORK COUPONS AHHH This draft is an excellent exercise in cognitive dissonance *twitch*.

SNURK: FYI, red zone offenses aren't much help if you can't even make it past the 50, but Ace should totally bolster his red zone offense with Zach Boren, on whom I will graciously give up my dibs.

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

BRIAN

136425307_display_image[1]PICKS: Beau Allen, NT, Wisconsin, and Bradley Roby, CB, OSU

CURRENT O: Nathan Scheelhaase (QB, ILL), Fitzgerald Toussaint (RB, M), LeVeon Bell (HB/FB, MSU), Jared Abbrederis (WR, UW), Taylor Lewan(LT, M), Chris McDonald (RG, MSU), Jack Mewhort (RT, OSU).

CURRENT D: John Simon (DE, OSU), Beau Allen (NT, UW), Akeem Spence (DT, Illinois), Jake Ryan (LB, M), Denicos Allen (LB, MSU), Terry Hawthorne (CB, ILL), Bradley Roby(CB, OSU)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: I need a nose tackle, and the biggest, nose-tackliest dude on the board who I'm not deathly afraid will get pancaked all year is Wisconsin's Allen, a 6'3", 330 pound tank who managed to record four sacks last year despite not starting and being 330 pounds. That was good for second-best on Wisconsin's defense. Then he crushed Wisconsin's OL in their spring game, racking up 3 TFLs and a sack while drawing approving noises from the Wisconsin DL coach. With Jordan Kohout ending his career due to recurring migraines and the graduation of meh senior Patrick Butrym, Allen's going to get a ton of playing time. As a rising true junior still turning fat into muscle, he's got major upside, and solid existing production. Can you say "Beaukout"? Probably not since that's not a word.

Bradley-Roby[1]Then I'll take Roby, who started for OSU as a redshirt freshman and has reportedly run a 4.31. I give that five FAKES but they say he's the fastest kid on OSU's team and when I watched him last year he did impress with his raw speed. He'll need to develop to be an all-conference sort but that's what freshmen do. His coach is hyping him up as a future first-rounder, and he had three interceptions last year. He seemed clearly better than Travis Howard in my eyes and should extend that distance this year.

[NOTE: Seth and I are full at DT, so either Ace or Heiko filling up will trigger the must-draft rule, which we're extending to 3 rounds.]

SNARK: I thought about Shazier but trading AWESOME TFLs with 80 YARD RUNS THAT ARE TOTALLY YOUR FAULT didn't seem like a good deal. Also, I cant wait for Allen to hurl Seth's 6'7" interior linemen out of the very real stadium that will hold billions of screaming fans when our teams meet on the field of very, very real battle. FOOTBALL GAMES ARE WON WITH PAD LEVEL AAAAAH.

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HEIKO

Baker Steinkuhler Washington v Nebraska sZsJDG9LGall[1]PICK: Baker Steinkuhler, DT, Nebraska

CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QB/RB, UNL), Kyle Prater (WR, NW), Devin Gardner (QB/WR, UM), DeAnthony Arnett (WR, MSU)

CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU), Baker Steinkuhler (DT, UNL), Craig Roh (DE, UM), Ryan Shazier (LB, OSU), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)

KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska

BRIEF EXPLANATION: I have no problem forcing Ace's hand, so I'm going to go ahead and slide Jordan Hill to nose and take Nebraska's Baker Steinkuhler as my 3-tech DT. Steinkuhler's a solid contributor on the defensive line, garnering All-Conference recognition in both the B1G and the B12 in consecutive seasons. His stats (40 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 sacks) belie his true ability as a penetrating defensive lineman—last year opposing teams could afford to focus on him after Jared Crick got injured.

GENUINELY HELPFUL ADVICE: Yo Ace, you should look into picking up Cameron Meredith before either Seth or Brian gets to him.

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ACE

970685[1]PICK: Cameron Meredith, defensive end, Nebraska

CURRENT O: Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Ricky Wagner (OT, UW), Keenan Davis (WR, IA), Travis Frederick (C, UW), Spencer Long (G, NEB), Jake Stoneburner (TE, OSU)

CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW), William Gholston (DE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (LB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR), Ibraheim Campbell (S, NW), Cameron Meredith (DE, NEB)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Meredith is a versatile lineman; in addition to his normal WDE duties, he filled in at DT when Nebraska was hit hard by injuries last year, and he's also lined up at rush linebacker when they've gone to a 3-4 look. He's not going to be super-productive, though he did manage five sacks last year, but he'll hold up well against the run and—with 27 consecutive starts under his belt—he's got experience and durability in his favor.

SNARK: Wait, did I just take drafting advice from MGoMillen?

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SETH

RickyBarnum1[1]PICKS: Ricky Barnum, interior offensive line, Michigan; and Kenny Bell, wide receiver, Nebraska

CURRENT O: Denard Robinson (QB, M), Rex Burkhead (RB, Neb), Kofi Hughes (WR, Ind), Kenny Bell (WR, Neb), Jacob Pedersen (TE, Wis), Michael Schofield (OT, M), Graham Pocic (OL, Ill), Ricky Barnum (OL, MICH)

CURRENT D: John Hankins (NT, OSU), Kawaan Short (3T, Pur), Marcus Rush (DE, MSU), Jon Brown (MLB, Ill), Gerald Hodges (OLB, PSU), Jordan Kovacs (SS, M), Micah Hyde (CB, Iowa)

EXPLANATION: So when I take huge, proven linemen you guys say your puny nose guards will get leverage on them, and when I take squat, proven linemen you say I'm a Michigan homer. What I am is a spread offensive line homer, and it just so happens that some of the best of them play for Michigan. With Barnum I have yet another super target of Rich Rod, another very fast and dependable combo blocker, and a guy who can play center or guard depending on who is available to me later on.

Kenny Bell gives me a be-dreaded complimentary receiver who's 6'1, speedy, and had a deceptively productive season: 32 catches for 461 yards and 3 TDs--all as a freshman with Heiko's starting running back as a passer. Project that to a Denardified offense where he's not a freshman and not the only eligible receiver worth covering, and you get a top 5-ish receiver by Big Ten 2012 standards. His usage increased as the season progressed to about 5 catches per game on 7 targets. The knock on him is dropsies, which Husker fans say comes from blocking 90% of the time. Good blocking also comes from blocking 90% of the time. Only Roundtree comes close as a comparable left on the board, but Bell's low side is basically last year's Roundtree and his upside is Manninghamish.

In a year when the conference is so receiver-poor that the far and away best option is a Roundtree-effect walk-on, and the other guys are hanging their hats on depth chart transfers and position switchers (ahem, "being closer to family members"), to get Kofi and Kenny is somewhat of a coup.

SNARK: Yes, Heiko, there is deep magic in Ryan Shazier. But if you read the deeper magic, the magic written in HTTVs of years past, you would know that you have drafted nothing but "Janus" Mouton II. You may have stopped one play in the backfield, but the next one is going 42 yards to paydirt!

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ACE

9027266-large[1]PICK: Michael Mauti, linebacker, Penn State

CURRENT O: Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Ricky Wagner (LT, UW), Keenan Davis (WR, IA), Travis Frederick (C, UW), Spencer Long (RG, NEB), Jake Stoneburner (TE, OSU)

CURRENT D: Chris Borland (MLB, UW), William Gholston (SDE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (WLB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR), Ibraheim Campbell (SS, NW), Cameron Meredith (WDE, NEB), Michael Mauti (SLB, PSU)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Now's the time to take some risks, and Mauti certainly qualifies; for the second time in three seasons, he's looking to bounce back from a season-ending ACL tear (the bright side, I guess, being that the knee he hurt last year wasn't the same one that underwent surgery in 2009). When healthy, however, Mauti is an aggressive, instinctual run-stuffer with NFL upside. As a part-time starter in 2010, Mauti tallied 67 tackles and 5.5 TFL, and in just three games last year he amassed 21 tackles, 3 TFL, 3 PBU, and an interception before going down against Eastern Michigan. At this point in the draft, he's worth the gamble; if playing at 100%, he's better than several of the LBs taken previously.

SNARK: Barnum over Ferentz or any of the more-qualified guards in the league? The iPhone fails Seth again, apparently.

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HEIKO

Kenny Demens[1]PICK: Kenny Demens, LB, Michigan

CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QB/RB, UNL), Kyle Prater (WR, NW), Devin Gardner (QB/WR, UM), DeAnthony Arnett (WR, MSU)

CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU), Baker Steinkuhler (DT, UNL), Craig Roh (DE, UM), Max Bullough (LB, MSU), Kenny Demens (LB, UM), Ryan Shazier (LB, OSU), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)

KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska

BRIEF EXPLANATION: I needed a middle linebacker to thump your running backs and also to cover all your tight ends. Kenny is almost David Harris, and can cover. Good enough.

SNARK: 10 dollars says Seth is going to take James Ferentz and turn Barnum into a guard.

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BRIAN

MarqueisGrayTDREC[1]PICKS: MarQuies Gray, QB/WR, Minnesota, and CJ Fieodorwicz, TE, Iowa

CURRENT O: Nathan Scheelhaase (QB, ILL), Fitzgerald Toussaint (RB, M), LeVeon Bell (HB/FB, MSU), Jared Abbrederis (WR, UW), MarQuies Gray (QB/WR, Minn), CJ Fieodorwicz (TE, Iowa), Taylor Lewan (LT, M), Chris McDonald (RG, MSU), Jack Mewhort (RT, OSU).

CURRENT D: John Simon (DE, OSU), Beau Allen (NT, UW), Akeem Spence (DT, Illinois), Jake Ryan (LB, M), Denicos Allen (LB, MSU), Terry Hawthorne (CB, ILL), Bradley Roby(CB, OSU)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: You guys forgot about Gray. While guys with no catches were being snapped up by Heiko to fulfill the role of a rangy downfield threat basically absent in the Big Ten this year, the one QB who'd actually proven himself at wide receiver sat on the board, wondering if anyone remembered that Minnesota was in the Big Ten. Well, I did. I remember your existence, Minnesota, and I'll grab MarQuies Gray to be my Devin Gardner.

Gray was shifted to wide receiver his sophomore year because he was too much of an athlete for the Gophers to sit on the bench and caught 42 balls for 587 yards in just seven starts. Last year he was (usually) Minnesota's starting quarterback and while he was pretty terrible at that, he rushed for just under 1,000 yards, further proving his athletic bonafides. He'll give Scheelhaase another deep threat to exploit.

Then I'll beef up the BEEFCAKE with a 6'7" rising true junior who came on late for the Hawkeyes and ncf_u_fiedorowicz_wm_400[1]has the level-headed Patrick Vint saying stuff like this:

Fiedorowicz was the jewel of the 2010 Iowa recruiting class, a four-star genetic freak of a tight end who played seven different positions in high school and was enough of a talent to draw offers from programs that don't even use tight ends. … Since then, he shrugged off a redshirt, blew people up on special teams as a true freshman, won the second-string tight end spot for his sophomore year, left the initial starter -- a four-year letterman -- in the dust, caught sixteen passes for 167 yards and a handful of touchdowns (including a touchdown in Iowa's bowl loss), and drew rave reviews from his new offensive coordinator. Not a bad two years.

The "Polish Hat"—no idea—is expected to be Iowa's most potent offensive weapon this year, and he's already exceeded Stoneburner's annual production. At around 270 pounds, he's also capable of contributing to the ground-and-pound being developed around these parts.

SNARK: See above in re: Stoneburner. Seth, you are such a Michigan OL homer.

Also, we are Michigan fans. We have known the Kovacs, and therefore we cannot talk poorly about awesome players who happen to be former walk-ons, lest the Kovacs disapprove. Abbrederis forever.

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HEIKO

105121884_display_image[1]PICK: J.T. Floyd, Cornerback, Michigan

CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QB/RB, UNL), Kyle Prater (WR, NW), Devin Gardner (QB/WR, UM), DeAnthony Arnett (WR, MSU)

CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU), Baker

Steinkuhler (DT, UNL), Craig Roh (DE, UM), Max Bullough (LB, MSU), Kenny Demens (LB, UM), Ryan Shazier (LB, OSU), J.T. Floyd (CB, UM), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)

KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Michigan's J.T. Floyd is perhaps a little underrated due to lingering PTSD from his 2010 performance. But as Seth pointed out a while ago, Floyd allowed 1 TD all last season against opposing teams' No. 1 wide receivers. Given that those No. 1 wide receivers were a lot better than whatever you guys can muster, I think I am my team is going to be all right. Also, as a bigger boundary corner, he can come up in run support should you choose to run the ball 90% of the time, which you all would probably be wise to do.

SNARK: I thought about drafting Gray, but I didn't want someone who was 6-18 over the past two years. Also, now that you have a quarterback who's better than Scheelhaase, what're you going to do with Scheelhaase?

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hi-res-6179384_crop_exact[1]ACE

PICK: Will Campbell, defensive tackle, Michigan

CURRENT O: Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Ricky Wagner (OT, UW), Keenan Davis (WR, IA), Travis Frederick (C, UW), Spencer Long (G, NEB), Jake Stoneburner (TE, OSU)

CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW), William Gholston (DE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (LB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR), Ibraheim Campbell (S, NW), Will Campbell (DT, MICH)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Wait for it...

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SETH

Oklahoma IowaPICKS: James Ferentz, center, Iowa, and Jeremy Gallon, slot-back, Michigan

CURRENT O: Denard Robinson (QB, M), Rex Burkhead (RB, Neb), Jeremy Gallon (Slot, M), Kofi Hughes (WR, Ind), Kenny Bell (WR, Neb), Jacob Pedersen (TE, Wis), Michael Schofield (OT, M), Graham Pocic (OL, Ill), Ricky Barnum (OG, MICH), James Ferentz (C, Iowa)

CURRENT D: John Hankins (NT, OSU), Kawaan Short (3T, Pur), Marcus Rush (DE, MSU), Jon Brown (MLB, Ill), Gerald Hodges (OLB, PSU), Jordan Kovacs (SS, M), Micah Hyde (CB, Iowa)

EXPLANATION: It's all part of the plan, Ace. Barnum was always meant for guard and I didn't trust certain other Michigan homers to leave me the best spread guard left on the board. The platonic ideal for my offense's center is David Molk. Since David Molk can't be on a Big Ten roster anymore (did nobody think to try to get him a 6th year for all the injuries? Just sayin--other schools have gotten it for less time missed and it would matter), my anchor will have to be the guy known as "not quite David Molk." Ferentz is not quite as big or strong as Molk. He can execute not quite as many reach blocks as Molk. He's almost as much of a team leader, appears on nearly as many preseason best-of lists, and is slightly less favored in those lists than Molk was to win them. My new not-quite Rimington has been the No. 1 center on my board since the start, but I would have been fine with Schmeig or Vitable--easy late round picks--is why I waited this long. Ferentz allows me to play Barnum at guard where he's better suited and gives me an interior line I'd put against any of your DT combos.

Gallon-Jump-Ball[1]Gallon: Brian can keep his two-back sets. Heiko can have his Fritz-tri-QB-wildcat-diamond abomination or whatever it is he's planning. And Ace can keep on wearing down Google until it agrees to answer "Who's the Big Ten's best fullback???". For my extra back-like object, since I don't have to worry about Burkhead tiring, like, ever, I'm taking a slot receiver. Gallon is everything a slot should be: a jitterbug with trustworthy hands and jetpack speed who can make a defense pay if they try to cheat (...their slot coverage into the box) on Denard. As a bonus he inherited Odoms's mountain goat blocking. As a double-bonus he has perfected Roundtree's 2009-'10 cloaking device that allows him to get acres of open downfield. As a triple-bonus Gallon has shown he can overcome some of his 5'8 size disadvantage with well-timed leaps and positioning on less athletic cornerbacks, making him a surprisingly effective third-down and red zone comeback option. In Borges's West Coasty Spread and Denard a Lot grab-bag of an offense last year Gallon put up nearly identical numbers to Kenny Bell and featured in the most game-swingingly play (late v ND) of the season. He is the perfect fit for this offense, which makes sense because like the rest of the Wolverines on Team Seth, he was recruited for it.

He'll also be my punt returner. Gallon is no Abbrederis but was solidly 3rd in the Big Ten last year in per-return yardage (MSU's departed Keshawn Martin was 2nd), averaging a solid 10.11 yards per attempt. GALLON U HOLD ONTO THE DAMN BALL!

SNARK: Abbrederis could have dreadlocks and look like Snoop from the Wire-- he still wouldn't repeat last year's output catching Scheelhaase passes instead of Russell Wilson passes, and opposite a guy who would rather be a Minnesota Gopher than play receiver instead of Nick Toon. Also since you knocked my quicksilver o-line: are you running a spread with those ponderous plodders or are you secretly putting together the pieces to recreate the 2007 DeBord offense with Scheelhaase at QB instead of Henne?

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ACE

 U.S. Army All-American Bowl West Team defensive lineman Ondre Pipkins (53) during the Monday West Team Practice for the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl at Comalander Stadium in San Antonio Texas.PICK: Ondre Pipkins, nose tackle, Michigan

CURRENT O: Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Ricky Wagner (OT, UW), Keenan Davis (WR, IA), Travis Frederick (C, UW), Spencer Long (G, NEB), Jake Stoneburner (TE, OSU)

CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW), William Gholston (DE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (LB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR), Ibraheim Campbell (S, NW), Will Campbell (DT, MICH), Ondre Pipkins (NT, MICH)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: So, I just drafted two of Michigan's defensive tackles; one of them doesn't even start and is a true freshman, the other is a senior with all of 3.5 career TFL. Is this insane? Probably. Allow me to explain myself. The options available at defensive tackle were limited, with the best available options probably Purdue's Bruce Gaston and Indiana's Larry Black and Adam Replogle. Those three are among the best players on their respective defenses. The problem, of course, is that those respective defenses are terrible. Despite the presence of Kawaan Short, Purdue allowed over 200 yards rushing per game on 4.7 yards per carry last year in Big Ten play; both figures placed them 10th in the conference. The Hoosiers somehow managed to be far, far worse, ceding 271(!) yards per game on 5.7(!!) yards per carry.

Michigan's figures of 116 yards and 3.7 yards per carry, on the other hand, were good for first and third in the B1G, respectively. Yes, it was with a completely different set of defensive tackles—not to mention far more talent surrounding those tackles—but the standard for quality play is at an entirely different level in Ann Arbor than it is in Bloomington or West Lafayette. If Will Campbell had decided to transfer to Purdue after the 2010 season, I have a hunch he'd be starting next to Short. If Ondre Pipkins shocked the world and chose Indiana out of high school, he'd play from day one and probably have his jersey retired before he ever played a game.

Plus, while Black (6'2", 294) and Replogle (6'3", 294) are a decent-sized pairing, Campbell (6'5", 308) and Pipkins (6'3", 340) obstruct all of the sidewalks and probably most of the running backs, too. I'm not so much concerned about production as I am building a wall of beef; with Campbell and Pipkins both in the best shape of their lives, that beef can even move a little. Is the floor of Campbell/Pipkins lower than that of Black/Replogle? Certainly. Are their ceilings even remotely comparable? Absolutely not.
Okay, I was also due an unabashed homer pick. Snark away, gents.

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HEIKO

Patrick Omameh[1]PICK: Patrick Omameh

CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QB/RB, UNL), Patrick Omameh (OG, UM), Kyle Prater (WR, NW), Devin Gardner (QB/WR, UM), DeAnthony Arnett (WR, MSU)

CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU), Baker Steinkuhler (DT, UNL), Craig Roh (DE, UM), Max Bullough (LB, MSU), Kenny Demens (LB, UM), Ryan Shazier (LB, OSU), J.T. Floyd (CB, UM), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)

KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Omameh is huge and loves pancaking All-American linebackers into first-round draft pick safeties. He makes the magic happen.

SNARK: None needed. Ace snarked himself.

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BRIAN

041412_SPT_Spring_Game_MRM_02.jpgPICKS: Blake Countess, CB, Michigan, and Daimion Stafford, SS, Nebraska.

CURRENT O: Nathan Scheelhaase (QB, ILL), Fitzgerald Toussaint (RB, M), LeVeon Bell (HB/FB, MSU), Jared Abbrederis (WR, UW), MarQuies Gray (QB/WR, Minn), CJ Fieodorwicz (TE, Iowa), Taylor Lewan(LT, M), Chris McDonald (RG, MSU), Jack Mewhort (RT, OSU).

CURRENT D: John Simon (DE, OSU), Beau Allen (NT, UW), Akeem Spence (DT, ILL), Jake Ryan (LB, M), Denicos Allen (LB, MSU), Terry Hawthorne (CB, ILL), Bradley Roby(CB, OSU), Blake Countess (CB, M), Daimion Stafford(SS, UNL)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: I'll continue the homer train but unlike a number of the Wolverines flying off the board now that we've seemingly picked all the foreign players we've heard about, Blake Countess actually deserves to be picked after a freshman year in which he emerged into a starter at field corner for Mattison and company, performing well. A universal four star, he enters year two poised to blow up in the mold of previous Michigan cornerbacks like Woodson, Hall, and Jackson. JT Floyd was better last year, but Countess will be better this year. What's that about eight-foot-ceilings now, Heiko?

Daimion Stafford Chattanooga v Nebraska V0Xw2JeXcU-l[1]I was also going to grab Omameh before he got snatched, since he is a three-year starter entering his senior year; with him gone I'll latch onto Daimion Stafford, a JUCO transfer who stepped right into Nebraska's starting lineup last year and finished third on the team in tackles; he also picked up 10 PBUs. He was no Kovacs in terms of reliability, but he was sort of a freshman and he brings the wood. 247 named him the #6 JUCO last year, he had an offer from USC. Nebraska folks feel he developed as a cover guy, and he should get significantly better with a full offseason to prepare—Stafford was a show-up-in-fall-and-start guy. And he's named "Daimion." QED.

SNARK: Ask Shazier about how power blocking schemes can mesh with a spread just fine, Seth. Inverted veer for the win. Hope everyone's getting familiar with the secondaries of Northwestern and Indiana to fill out their corner slots.

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NEXT TIME ON DRAFTOSNARK: we finish this dang thing. Most of us are now conversant on the secondaries of Northwestern and Indiana. Heiko drafts Kain Colter to do something, probably.

Recruits In Retrospect: 2008 Offense

Recruits In Retrospect: 2008 Offense

Submitted by Ace on May 31st, 2012 at 9:18 AM


David Guralnick/The Detroit News

Continuing my theme of getting super-meta this offseason, I decided to take a look back at the MGoBlog recruiting recaps from the class of 2008—hello, blogspot!—and see how they stand up now that those players have either moved on from the program or are fifth-year seniors. 2008, of course, was the franken-class of Lloyd Carr and Rich Rodriguez recruits, a bizarre blend of pro-style plodders and size-challenged spread speedsters. While it boasted 17 four-stars among 24 commits, finishing a very respectable tenth in the Rivals team rankings, the class would prove to be an unmitigated disaster, ravaged by attrition and marked with disappointment.

So, let's go back to a time when Michigan fans still held out hope for landing Terrelle Pryor—when these were written, still holding out for a better contract mulling his decision a month after signing day—to spearhead this newfangled spread offense. Today, I'll take a look at Brian's offensive evaluations, and the defense will be covered next week. For reference, links to the original posts: Quarterback and Running Back, Receivers, Tight Ends, Offensive Line. If you're anything like me, perusing those is a remarkably fun way to waste time.

Easy Joke Is Easy

With a major change in offensive scheme, Michigan was in desperate need of a dual-threat quarterback. Pryor was the ultimate prize, and Rodriguez was forced to hedge his bets with Justin Feagin, an under-the-radar athlete from Florida whose best offers were to play wide receiver at LSU or defensive back at Miami (YTM).

Projection: Someone's going to play Tebow to Threet's Chris Leak this fall; unless Carlos Brown locks that down, it'll be Feagin. I have no idea what to expect, but think his future is probably somewhere other than quarterback.

Namely, the inside of a courtroom. ZING! (Really, when it comes to the 2008 quarterback situation, dark humor is the only option lest you want to break down in tears.)

Ironically, it was his off-field actions that made Feagin one of the recruits Brian was "baselessly excited about in defiance of recruiting rankings and reason," due to late-night workouts and multiple quotes expressing no concern about potentially having to compete with Pryor for the starting job. It was noted that Feagin required "a ton of developing to be a legitimate quarterback," which was readily apparent during his brief appearances as a freshman. Then came the cocaine stuff and subsequent boot, so we'll never know whether Feagin could've turned into a passable receiver.

NEVER FORGET

I started following recruiting seriously when a friend showed me Noel Devine's highlight tape during my senior year of high school. Since I had little understanding at the time about how recruiting actually worked, I was bitterly disappointed when Devine seemingly had zero interest in Michigan (and vice versa), eventually ending up at West Virginia. I swore never to get my hopes up about highlight tape heroes again.

So the next year, when another atom-sized running back took the YouTubes by storm, I had little hope that this Texan doing heel-clicks on the backs of linebackers would even consider donning the Maize and Blue. Even so, I'd watch his tape on repeat, sharing it with friends whenever the opportunity arose; seeing their eyes bug while asking what in the hell they just watched never got old. This is what they saw [NSFW audio warning]:

Then, of course, the impossible occurred: Sam McGuffie signed with Michigan, though not before nearly shattering our dreams during a signing day flirtation with Cal. Brian, however, was nonplussed, proferring this muted reaction to McGuffie's inclusion in the class:

General Excitement Level: AAAAIIEEEE! Man... this offense is McGuffie's jam, man, and the Church Of Barwis will excommunicate anyone who doubts his his's ability to get up to 200-some pounds without compromising his lightning quicks. Steve Slaton says what.
Projection: He's the man, man. Will battle Brown and Grady for carries at first; probably a Noel Devine role his first year.

Oh. Unfortunately, you all know how this one went. McGuffie showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman in 2008, but also the durability of a paper bag. After finishing the season as the team's second-leading rusher, he decided to transfer closer to home, ending up at Rice, where he'll be a redshirt senior in 2012. Not exactly what we'd all envisioned when the guy who frontflipped over J.B. Shugarts at the Army Game hit campus.

McGuffie wasn't the only back in the class, however, as he was joined by two other intriguing prospects. Rich Rodriguez earned the "snake-oil salesman" moniker for snatching Roy Roundtree from Purdue (more on him later), but his other signing day surprise was pulling Trotwood-Madison RB Michael Shaw away from Penn State. You'll never guess what Brian noticed on his film [emphasis mine]:

I am not a scout, but in the Shaw video at Scouting Ohio I saw a guy with a knack for catching the flare, good speed, and exactly one move: an upfield cut followed by a bounce-out that got him outside high school defenders with regularity.

And thus we find the origins of bouncebouncebouncebounce.

The final back in the class was a relative unknown from the football hotbed of Avon, Connecticut. Mike Cox's name required a disclaimer in the notes section of his profile—"Degree of difficulty applies on all jokes about his name. (IE: please no "Mike Cox is huge" jokes.)"—while his school's sporting pedigree invited a healthy dose of skepticism:

There's almost zero reliable data on Cox. His high school conference is well known for hockey -- read full of rich white guys named "Higginbotham" (no, literally) -- and is awful at football.

Until reading the profile, I had completely forgotten that Michigan took Cox over four-star Detroit Country Day product and eventual Notre Dame commit Jonas Gray. In retrospect, I think it's safe to say that was a mistake, even though Gray wasn't a major contributor until his senior season. At least we got four years of stale dick jokes, though.

NEVER FORGET, Part Deux

Rodriguez's hire brought to Michigan the era of the waterbug slot guy, which promised to be great fun for a fanbase used to watching tiny track-star guys tear it up only for opponents. The recruit expected to come in and make a big splash early was four-star Terrence Robinson out of Klein, Texas, and all it took was one physics-defying play to see why:

Commits pulling Hakeem Olajuwon post moves at warp speed during a football game understandably cause a fair amount of excitement. Brian busted out the obligatory Breaston comparison and projected him to be in the mix at both returner and slot receiver. Robinson finished his Michigan career with one catch, two kickoff returns, and one punt return for a grand total of 94 all-purpose yards.

Michigan's other slot ninja was Pahokee's Martavious Odoms, whose profile contains endless testimonials about his rabbit-chasing speed. Brian's comparison is Devin Hester and also a version of Steve Breaston that actually catches the bombs:

General Excitement Level: Moderate++. He's never going to be Braylon Edwards but if he's as fast as his reputation he could be a dynamite returner and even a deep threat: remember Steve Breaston's ill-fated career as the target of bombs? Well, he was open by yards time and again because opposing players got smoked by his moves and always dropped the ball. Odoms looks like he's pretty good at hauling in deep balls.
Projection: Will press for time as a returner immediately and is 50-50 to be the designated bubble screen guy, with Terrance Robinson the other option. Starts off with an advantage on Robinson because he's spent the last four years as a receiver.

Evaluation severely lacking in mountain goat blocking praise.

Despite the excitement over the tiny slot guys, the biggest expectations were reserved for consensus top-100 receiver Darryl Stonum, who chose Michigan over Florida, Alabama, USC, and Florida State. Breathless hype part one:

Natural change of direction? Fluid hips? Comes down with jump balls? A mix of Braylon Edwards and Mario Manningham... which, like, dude.

And part two:

General Excitement Level: Maximal. The second most likely kid in the class to have a long, productive career at Michigan, IMO, behind Dann O'Neill.

Stonum's production disappointed, even after it was discovered that he'd been playing half-blind and needed contacts, and his career came to an untimely end after a string of alcohol- and driving-related arrests.

The last of the four receiver recruits was Roy Roundtree, another Trotwood-Madison star whose projection was the closest to the eventual reality:

General Excitement Level: Moderate. Never going to be a gamebreaker, but a likely contributor. Has to add a lot of weight to be an effective player.
Projection: Redshirts, plays sparingly his second year, and is 50-50 to emerge into Michigan's #2 WR.

Roundtree redshirted, then led the team in catches in each of the next two seasons, though this was more the product of the offense—Roundtree was the main beneficiary of QB Oh Noes—than him being a true #1 receiver, though he may be forced into that role this season.

Caveats Apply

The 2008 class also featured two four-star tight end recruits, though both came with significant question marks. For Brandon Moore, the third of the Trotwood trio, the question was whether he was the future star who earned top-100 rankings and big-time offers after a standout junior season or the potential bust whose stock slipped significantly during a disappointing senior year. Scout actually started out with Moore as their #98 overall prospect before dropping him all the way to three stars and the #43(!) tight end. The verdict:

General Excitement Level: High, with caveats. Moore is a boom-or-bust guy with much potential but a long way to go.
Projection: Great success, great failure, or somewhere in between. Specific cat is specific.

Barring an out-of-nowhere breakout season in 2012, bust it is.

Meanwhile, Michigan took a head-to-head battle with Ohio State for Toledo Whitmer's Kevin Koger, but it was unclear whether he'd stick at tight end or eventually make a move to defensive end:

It must be said: Koger is widely regarded a prospect of equal or greater merit at defensive end, and with Nick Perry's escape to Southern Cal Michigan finds themselves with one defensive end recruit across two classes. Though it's possible one of the linebackers -- most likely Marcus Witherspoon -- could end up with his hand down, Michigan is critically short there.

A down-the-line move was projected, but that was largely based on the assumption that Moore would pan out. Instead, it was Koger who'd get the lion's share of the snaps at tight end for the next four years.

Brian's O-line Knowledge Has Come A Long Way

One of the staples of the recruiting recaps is the "YMRMFSPA" section, in which Brian compares the recruit's style of play to a notable former player (usually a Wolverine, but not always, as evidenced by the Hester comparison for Odoms). With Michigan pulling in six offensive linemen in 2008, coming up with the proper approximation got a little difficult:

Dann O'Neill: YMRMFSPA Jake Long. No pressure.
Kurt Wermers: YMRMFSPA Matt Lentz?
Elliott Mealer: YMRMFSPA Matt Stenavich(?)
Rocko Khoury: YMRMFSPA Uh, that other un-touted guard person.
Ricky Barnum: YMRMFSPA Rod Payne?
Patrick Omameh: YMRMFSPA ????

Dave Petruziello and Leo Henige feel very neglected, man.

As you can see above, before Taylor Lewan was the Next Jake Long, that distinction went to Dann O'Neill, a top 100 recruit from Grand Haven. Not only was O'Neill quite a talent, his services were desperately needed along a thin offensive line:

Dann O'Neill might be Michigan's most critical recruit. The only tackles in the last two recruiting classes are incumbent RT Steve Schilling, three-star Perry Dorrestein, and two-star sleeper (as in "only had offers from MAC schools" sleeper) Mark Huyge. Finding two starting tackles from that group once the Zirbel-Ortmann class graduates in two years was looking very risky.

Brian projected O'Neill to start "at some point, hopefully later (say, as a redshirt sophomore) rather than sooner (say, this fall)." Instead, he never played a down as a Wolverine, transferring to Western Michigan after his freshman year. He would eventually earn a start at Michigan Stadium in 2011, but as a member of the Broncos.

The other future washout on the line was Indiana guard Kurt Wermers, whose off-field hobbies were not exactly typical of a football player [emphasis Brian's]:

Wermers was also named to the stupidly named "Offense-Defense Bowl" in Miami. The OD bowl appears to be a sort of second-tier all star game. Big whoop, except for the press release announcing the selection:

"Wermers, a veritable renaissance man whose hobbies include weightlifting, playing guitar, singing, and reading, also enjoys spending time on the virtual field of battle in the wildly popular massively multiplayer role-playing game World of Warcraft when not battling in the trenches on the football field."

This dovetails with information from May about Wermer's participation in... an a capella group:

"I love it," Wermers said of singing. "It gives me a chance to get away from big jocky athletic guys and hang out with a different group of people."

I don't think we'll be having any discipline issues with young Mr. Wermers. It's just a feeling.

Wermers left the team before the 2009 season, saying he decided to transfer because Rodriguez was "bringing in a lot of different kids that were not my kind of crowd," and running the team like a business (Wermers signed when Carr was the coach, but obviously never played under him). It was later revealed that Wermers was academically ineligible when he announced his transfer, probably because he was playing WoW instead of going to class. Discipline issues: check.

The player who's actually panned out was the lowest-ranked among the six, Patrick Omameh, a two-star DE to Rivals and the #87 OT to Scout. There wasn't much comment on Omameh beyond addressing his sleeper status; speculation about his future position turned out to go 0-for-2:

There are conflicting reports as to whether Omameh was recruited as a center (where his intelligence would help with the line calls) or tackle; that will get sorted out somewhere down the line.

As you know, Omameh is entering his third year as the full-time starter at... right guard.

Finally, Ricky Barnum peered into the future and got a serious head start on his future team's biggest rivalry:

Various people are probably irritated with Ricky Barnum: Urban Meyer, for one. Also OH OL Zebrie Sanders, who tried to commit to Florida but was told to talk to the hand because Barnum and another player had filled Florida's OL quotient for the year. Sanders, also rejected by Georgia for the same reason, ended up at Florida State and Urban ended up short one highly recruited interior lineman. Not that anyone will ever shed a tear for Urban Meyer.

Well done, Ricky.

Let's Overreact To: Spring Scrimmage #3

Let's Overreact To: Spring Scrimmage #3

Submitted by Brian on April 10th, 2012 at 2:38 PM

You know the drill. Video via MGoVideo. Had to repackage the sound because the RAWK music got matched on Youtube.

Play 1: Fitz bursts off right tackle and picks up 8-10 before Raymon Taylor grabs him. Fitz then pushes Taylor five or so yards before the cavalry rallies. No idea what happened on the line but you can see Hopkins get a nice sealing block as Fitz hits the hole.

Raymon Taylor should probably not tackle high if a guy as slight as Fitz is going to bull him back.

Play 2: Inside zone (probably) to Justice Hayes is eaten up by Antonio Poole (#40) and an active Will Campbell. Looks like Poole was unblocked for whatever reason.

Play 3: Inside zone to Fitz. Blitzing Morgan is kicked past the play by Barnum; Fitz takes a stutter step to let that get past him and then flows up behind Barnum. Roh comes in from the right side of the frame to tackle near the LOS. Looks like a stunt blitz specifically designed to get this to happen. Mattison cackles in his laboratory.

Play 4: Joined in progress. Denard WOOPs around the backfield and slings a dart to… I think it's Miller but can't quite make out the number. Moore would be a bigger guy, though.

Play 5: Inside zone run with H-back (Miller) flaring weakside that we've seen for years now. Roh(+1) drives his man—probably Schofield—way down the line and Fitz decides to cut behind that mess. Bolden(+1) is there to clean up on the cutback at the LOS with help from Ryan. Miller's block on Ryan… eh… not so good.

Play 6: Play action from a zone read look; Roh smokes Omameh and gets pressure up the middle. Ryan and Bolden are coming free as well, so Denard can't do much except go down. Washington is in on this play.

Play 7: Gardner makes a read, doesn't like it, and takes off. Kaleb Ringer can't quite get off a block fast enough to bring Gardner down. Then Gardner jukes Mike Jones to the outside and picks up 15-20. Marvin Robinson runs him out.

Play 8: Rawls gets a belly handoff from Gardner and goes straight north and south, cutting to the backside of the line and running through an ankle tackle from Campbell and an arm tackle from Cam Gordon without slowing at all. Marvin Robinson fills pretty well. Best clip of Rawls we've seen. If he can shrug tackles off like that he's got a role.

Play 9: Rawls gets an iso from the I. He has to cut away from his lead blocker—something that has been very frequent when these clips show isos—and gets chopped down by Campbell.

Play 10: Zone read PA into a slant to Gallon; Countess is in Woodsonesque coverage and breaks it up. Cover +2.

Play 11: Inside zone to Fitz, who roars through a crease into the endzone from about 40. Someone blew that gap. No idea who without a wider view.

image

This does not end well for Jordan Paskorz

Play 12: Gardner hits Paskorz on a rollout; Paskorz double-catches the ball and gets crushed by Robinson.

Play 13: Gardner hits Jackson on a deep comeback in front of... I don't know. Lots of time to survey; this was his second read.

Play 14: Vincent Smith finds an inside zone gap and takes it into the endzone. The nose got crushed and allowed an easy combo block on Bolden, but I don't think it was Campbell since the guy looks white. Thomas Gordon could have done a better job filling near the LOS to hold it down.

Play 15: Russell Bellomy flings an out to Mike Kwiatkowski. Ball takes a long time to get there. Kwiatkowski then jukes Al Backey, which will no doubt be used to razz Backey forever and ever in film session.

Play 16: Denard hands off to Rawls on an under center stretch(?). Odd. Rawls finds a crease as Barnum, who's flowed well down the line, latches on to and eliminates Bolden. Gyarmati gets enough of a block on Morgan to get Rawls the edge and a nice gain.

Play 17: Hopkins FB dive from under center. Good push by Jack Miller on Ash and Hopkins makes a few extra yards by breaking tackles.

Play 18: Denard lofts a screen to Smith, who gets 8 or 10 before Jarrod Wilson comes in to tackle.

Play 19: Gardner waggle finds Joe Kerridge wide open for a touchdown.

Play 20: Short yardage Vincent Smith iso is… a touchdown? I don't want to talk about this. Bolden got rocked by Gyarmati, probably because he didn't read the play quick enough. That contact is not happening near the LOS and that's all she wrote.

Play 21: What looks like it might be an inverted veer by Bellomy ends abruptly when Cam Gordon roars in to sack.

Play 22: Smith iso w/ Bellomy in is swallowed by Campbell and Ash. Second team OL kind of got owned there.

Play 23: Denard surveys, comes off a first read, and zings it to Dileo for a touchdown in front of Avery. 10-15 yard slant.

Play 24: Rawls iso. Burzynski gets a good block on Morgan and Unidentified FB deals with Probably Bolden, no linebacker level. Kovacs is hovering around the LOS and makes contact to slow Rawls; Thomas Gordon finishes the play with a solid thump. Five or six.

Play 25: Kennedy hands off to Justice Hayes on a power with Mealer pulling. Hayes manages to dash through a small hole, run through an ankle tackle from Probably Safety, keep his feet, juke Wilson, and carry a pursuing Brandin Hawthorne into the endzone. Impressive.

Play 26: Wrinkle. Michigan runs the zone with pulling H-back thing; Denard pulls, probably on a called play. Miller hits a hole backside instead of flaring out and the net effect is a QB iso that looks like a zone read keeper. Miller blocks an unprepared Bolden and Denard glides into the endzone.

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

Takeaways? Barnum can move. In each one of these Michigan picks up a big gain because Barnum shows excellent agility and an ability to seal a guy on the move. Here it's a stretch play; other times it was a pull. I think we're going to be just fine at center.

Fitz is Fitz; in this one Hayes and Rawls showed a bit more than they have in previous editions of these tapes. The Rawls run right north-south was Minor-esque. The featured Hayes run was Fitz-esque.

Also both quarterbacks will be 100% accurate this year and there will be no turnovers.

Elsewhere: takes from Maize and Blue Nation.

Let's Overreact To: Spring Scrimmage Video!

Let's Overreact To: Spring Scrimmage Video!

Submitted by Brian on March 30th, 2012 at 11:55 AM

Via MGoVideo:

Items of admittedly flimsy substance:

Lots of Rawls. Thomas Rawls is the tailback in most of these sets; Hayes does not appear and Toussaint only gets buried on a flare screen. Rawls mostly gets buried himself. Maybe he's just an excellent vehicle via which to express defensive competence.

Morgan is all over the place. He goes sideline to sideline to thump Rawls on one moderately successful run and generally looks like Michigan's best linebacker. Again, it's one thing to go sideline to sideline against Rawls and another on Toussaint or Smith. Morgan still brings the wood.

Line bits. You can see Chris Bryant acting as the RG on a play where Miller is snapping to Gardner: second unit. Hypothesis: Michigan thinks Mealer can really hack it all of a sudden and is placing the usual pressure on Omameh's job. Either that or they're just getting Bryant some snaps at both guard spots so he's comfortable at either one in case of an injury. There has been a little buzz about Graham Glasgow, the second-team left guard, as well—unrelated to a tandem bike, even.

Also, your second string NT is currently Richard Ash. Not much of a surprise, sure.

Edge defenders. On the play where Gardner escapes Frank Clark pressure to bomb a pass to Jeremy Jackson in the back of the endzone it's the second team OTs—walk-ons—getting smoked. The player coming in from the bottom is redshirt freshman Antonio Poole, which strikes me as odd. He's presumed to be playing WLB, so if he's coming at the left tackle he's either engaged on a seriously long journey from blitz to the quarterback or he's practicing at MLB. (Or SLB, I guess, but I doubt it.)

Adding to the oddness of that play: it really looks like the guy trying to recover on Jackson is #35… Joe Bolden. I am confused about that defense.

Slant. Dime? Denard throws a slant to Gallon immediately in front of Terrence Talbott, who's on the field with Kovacs, Avery, and Countess. People have been talking Talbott up in the recent insidery posts across the web, and that is first-team run he's getting. Michigan seems to have enough depth at corner to consider some dime packages in third and long.

BUBBLE?!?! IS THIS A BUBBLE SCREEN TO DILEO?

image

AL BORGES IS CAPTURED AND HIDDEN SOMEWHERE IN THE MOUNTAINS OF AFGHANISTAN. WE LAUNCH OUR RESCUE AT 0600 SATURDAY.

Black appearance. Looks like Morgan and Black blow up the next play, one of those spring counters Michigan busted out against Minnesota for an unknown reason. Omameh gets beat, which I'd look at as a good sign since we know Omameh is a pretty good Big Ten player, one who has more trouble with strength than quickness. Black's being talked up as a quick penetrator.

Vincent Smith iso from the I. Zero yards. #sameasever. We get a glimpse of Cam Gordon rotating in with the ones on this play, which is good to see after he vanished last year. Smith does dance into the endzone a couple plays later on a power from the gun with #99 blocking—yeah, Michigan's rotating in a fullback wearing 99 now. Meet Paul Gyarmati.

On that play the second team is in. Poole gets on the wrong side of a pulling Barnum, which prevents Bolden from making a tackle. Then a safety I can't identify whiffs as he tries to fill. Bryant doesn't actually end up blocking anyone. Bolden's reaction time was impressive there: if Poole knows what he's doing that's going to be a thump for Bolden at or near the LOS.

Mmmm Denard. Next play is a QB power on which Barnum pulls. The TV always tells me that's a rare thing that can be of great utility to an offense. Barnum gets well downfield and crushes Morgan to the inside, opening up a lane Denard hits for six. Not Morgan's fault. I wish we'd see Demens doing some of the stuff Morgan is in these clips.

…and Morgan gets beat easily on the next play for a Vincent Smith dumpoff TD.

FIN.

WAIT.

BONUS TAKE: From Maize 'n' Blue Nation.

Spring Practice Presser Transcript 3-27-12: Ricky Barnum and Taylor Lewan

Spring Practice Presser Transcript 3-27-12: Ricky Barnum and Taylor Lewan

Submitted by Heiko on March 28th, 2012 at 8:59 AM

[Craig Roh and Will Campbell transcripts will be up later today.]

Ricky Barnum

from 2011 OSU

How different is it playing at center full time now?

“It’s not that much different. I played center coming in as a freshman when [Rich] Rod was here. It’s not really a transition, just getting back into the groove of things. I don’t really see it as a transition.”

What’s the hardest part of it?

“The hardest part would be trying to learn the defense, when they’re rotating, when their safeties are kicking down, when they’re rolling. That’s just the hardest part of learning it right now. But other than that the plays are pretty simple. Everything’s going well.”

How comfortable do you feel in that position?

“I feel very comfortable. I mean I like it. I always wanted to play it. We had a talented center, though, so I’m now getting my shot. I like it a lot.”

Why did you always want to play it?

“I always wanted to play center because I was told I was a natural center.”

Because of your frame?

“I don’t know. Coaches just tell me all the time.”

Did you play center in high school?

“I played my freshman year, and then I moved to guard and then I moved to tackle by my senior year.”

Denard said that you’ve been working together since his freshman year. Do you feel like you two have good chemistry?

“Yeah it’s a good chemistry because both of us are from Florida. He’s like my brother. I’m like his big brother. We definitely care about each other a lot. All I can say is that there’s a brotherhood between me and him.”

Have you been talking to Molk about playing center?

“Yes I always talk to Molk. Molk is another person that’s like a brother to me. He took me underneath his wing when I came in as a freshman. I’ve talked to him and he’s tried to give me tips to help me.”

Pretty big shoes to fill, huh?

“I don’t see it as pretty big shoes to fill because this is Michigan. When a class graduates everybody has to step up, not just one person.”

Still, he was the Rimington Award winner. Do you think you’ll win the Rimington?

“… If it’s God willing.”

(more after the jump)

Spring Stuff

Spring Stuff

Submitted by Brian on March 14th, 2012 at 3:30 PM

denard-heisman

it's always a good time for this picture

The start of spring practice is an annual opportunity to dust off the stuff you posted titled "2012 outlook" in the aftermath of the bowl game, slightly revise it, and post it again. AnnArbor.com has a series previewing every position group… which… like… basically it's all the same except a couple places. I won't go into that much detail but it does feel like time for some State of the Team bullets after they got a lot of detail from Hoke in an interview.

Offensive line reshuffling. All those moves you've been hearing about since Danny Coale's misery finally ended in early January are now official per the head man:

To shore up those issues, Hoke said he is making several personnel changes as the Wolverines kick off their 14-practice spring camp Saturday.

The most prominent of those moves impacts redshirt senior Ricky Barnum, the former starting left guard who now will receive the first crack at replacing the Rimington Award-winning Molk at center. …

Returning centers Rocko Khoury, a senior, and Jack Miller, a redshirt freshman, also will be given a shot to win the job.

Meantime, Hoke said junior Michael Schofield, who filled in for Barnum at left guard, will slide back to his natural position of right tackle. He can play anywhere but center on the line, but his 6-foot-7, 299-pound frame makes him an ideal fit at tackle.

It appears the most wide-open job could be the vacated left guard position. When asked who were candidates for it, Hoke first mentioned Elliott Mealer, a senior who has played sparingly in his career.

"His opportunity, his time has come," Hoke said.

michael-schofield-sideline[1]Schofield to right tackle, testing Barnum at center: both very much expected. Just look at Schofield's arms and frame at right. Dude is built to pass block. I expect he'll be an upgrade on Mark Huyge.

Chris Bryant is Mealer's main competition at left guard, but Miller and Khoury will be an indirect threat. If either is better than the potential starter at left guard they'll shuffle Barnum back to guard and roll with it.

A prediction: Barnum spends all of spring at center but slides back to guard in fall as Miller proves himself the best option for the fifth guy on the line. I don't think they're wild about Khoury and want to give themselves more options at center. College-ready Kyle Kalis will probably be given a crash course at right tackle to give Michigan a scholarship option in the event of an injury to one of the starters.

Defensive tackle reshuffling. You also know about Michigan throwing its top two guys at WDE inside, paving the way for the quicker Clark/Beyer generation of pass rush terror. We have little clarity on what positions a lot of guys will be playing in there, and spring will be an opportunity to figure out just where the most terrifying hole is on the depth chart.

Roh is a strongside end now and Black a three-tech. Where do Campbell and Washington go? Are Wilkins, Ash, and Rock viable options? Is Keith Heitzman a guy who can provide some depth as a redshirt freshman?

388402_2373321690818_1183817988_2232815_358658504_n_1_[1]Desmond Morgan[1]um32[1]

fight!

Linebacker pressing. Jake Ryan is a lock atop the depth chart. Elsewhere there have been some rumors that Kenny Demens could find his job under threat. Meanwhile, Desmond Morgan is a hitter without a ton of athleticism who will get tested by redshirt freshman Antonio Poole and two of Michigan's three early enrollees, Joe Bolden and Kaleb Ringer. Bolden's probably an MLB in an ideal world and Ringer seems like a redshirt candidate, but once the pads go on those perceptions can change quickly.

Brandin Hawthorne's also around. He lost his job last year and it's clear Michigan thinks he's too small for the spot but I have this nagging feeling M is missing out on something by not incorporating him into the nickel package. His speed could be useful in coverage and on blitzes.

Wat? Let me untangle this bit of technical speak for you:

Hoke said linebacker Jordan Paskorz and defensive end Chris Eddins are moving to tight end "to get an on-the-line guy who can block a five-tech, or move a six-tech." Both could vie for time in the fall after the departure of starters Kevin Koger and Steve Watson.

A five tech is a strongside defensive end. He would be coming from the interior on an outside play and the TE can't get run over; on an inside play if the tight end is getting the five he's probably doing so as part of a double.

A six tech is what happens to a 4-3 under defense when the weakside end gets a tight end to him. In that case he has to bunker down and take on that tight end; if he gets sealed to the inside the corner is going to be there. Michigan wants a guy who can take a Clark or a Beyer or a Roh and get rid of him.

If you're reading the piles of players moving to tight end as a shot across the bow of the incumbents, you're probably right.

Scholarship clarity coming. Sounds like we might get another departure or two in the near future:

When asked if any players have left the program since the conclusion of last season, Hoke said he would "address that issue Friday" and declined further comment. His first news conference of spring camp is scheduled for noon Friday at Schembechler Hall.

He did say he doesn't expect to incur any academic problems.

A number of candidates bubble to mind but we'll find out in a couple days so no need to go speculating. If two scholarship guys exit before spring practice I'm bumping my projected class size to 24. Football teams don't go ten months without losing anyone. Also I like the idea of pushing this class to 24 a great deal. That's three WR, three LB, a couple DL, and a couple roving wild card supers unless Michigan goes ahead with that third TE.