Recruits In Retrospect: 2010 Defense

Recruits In Retrospect: 2010 Defense

Submitted by Ace on May 15th, 2015 at 2:06 PM

Previously: 2008 Offense2008 Defense2009 Defense2009 Quarterbacks2009 Offense, 2010 Offense

The series continues with a look back at the defensive prospects in Michigan's 2010 recruiting class. Rich Rodriguez took 16 defenders in the class; more of them failed to make it to the opening kickoff of their freshman year (four) than advanced all the way to Senior Day (three).

I apologize in advance.

Those Who Stayed


Obi Ezeh!

Especially in retrospect, Jake Ryan's recruitment was bizarre. Ryan was the most productive defender on a state-title-winning Cleveland St. Ignatius squad that got plenty of exposure; he played next to Ohio State commit Scott McVey; his highlight tape provided more than a glimpse of what he'd become at Michigan. He looked a whole lot like Jake MF Ryan, minus the flowing locks.

Yet Ryan went unranked for much of the process, and even after a strong senior season only earned middling three-star rankings. Michigan didn't offer Ryan until he took an official visit a couple weeks before Signing Day. Ryan, holding only MAC offers, committed the next day. Reading his profile today makes me wonder if I unwittingly ingested all of the drugs:

Why Obi Ezeh? Ryan is a big, slightly clunky middle linebacker who will easily reach Ezeh's current 245 pounds and may outgrow the position entirely. As a recruit Ezeh was an anonymous three-star in about the same range Ryan is; he was also a sleeper-type pickup who had not been on anyone's radar before Michigan grabbed him. Ryan is praised for his vertical attacking and dogged for his ability to cut through the trash sideline-to-sideline or effectively cover zones; Ezeh's career is ably summed up by those critiques.

Ryan has some assets Ezeh doesn't: a high school career at linebacker (Ezeh was mostly a running back), a head start on the system he'll be playing in, and Greg Robinson as a position coach. Hopefully he'll have some consistency in coaching as well.

Notably, Greg Robinson as a position coach was listed as a positive. Greg Robinson as a defensive coordinator was... not.

Jibreel Black's profile spent a lot of time hoping he'd become at least a poor man's Brandon Graham. While Black didn't come close to Graham's heights, he was a solid contributor his last three years, and he could've been more productive if Michigan's issues with D-line depth didn't force him into a role as a 275-pound nose tackle for much of his senior season. Black is one of many players from the Rodriguez/Hoke era whose career would've benefited from a redshirt year he wasn't afforded.

The career of Courtney Avery saw him go from promising freshman corner to clearly undersized spot starter to senior utility man—he'd finish his time at Michigan with 19 starts, five of them at safety in 2013. Avery was also a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, which shouldn't come as a surprise since he flipped his commitment from Stanford to Michigan; his high school coach thought very highly of him:

“He’s the type of kid that if he wants to be president of the United States one day, he will be. I got two compliments I could give him. That’s the first, and the second is if my daughter was 18, she could date him."

"Thanks, Coach. I'm deeply uncomfortable."

[Hit THE JUMP, if you dare.]

Exit Terrence Talbott

Exit Terrence Talbott

Submitted by Brian on July 26th, 2012 at 12:20 PM

[Programming note: sorry about the slow content from myself. Minor family emergency, emphasis on minor, but one that required some attention the last 24 hours. Anyway…]

terrence-talbott[1]

the spring headfake

Michigan's decision to recruit ALL OF THE CORNERBACKS is now a little clearer, as Sam Webb is reporting that Terrence Talbott has decided to leave the program. Talbott was buried on the depth chart last year before a star turn in the spring practice videos that seemed to indicate he was being given serious consideration for playing time. JT Floyd reasserted his hold on the starting spot in the spring game, and now Talbott's out the door. Apologies to Andy Staples, who used the hype at this site to name Talbott to his spring breakout team.

Talbott's departure leaves Michigan thin at boundary corner. If Floyd goes down it probably sees Blake Countess slide over and Courtney Avery slide into the starting lineup with either Delonte Holowell or Raymon Taylor taking over the nickel spot. Either that or Taylor steps into the starting lineup at boundary, but he's listed at 169 pounds on the roster… other than Floyd Michigan's cornerbacks are tiny. By virtue of being listed at 5'11", 180 Talbott was the second-biggest guy available. Floyd's health, already pretty important, is now more so.

From a recruiting perspective, Talbott's exit opens up a 21st scholarship for the 2012 class. On the WTKA recruiting roundup a couple days ago, Webb mentioned that Michigan would now take a 25th player in the class, so Talbott's decision seems to have come recently and led directly to Ross Douglas's offer and commitment. Michigan is still after LaQuon Treadwell and will look for BPA with slot #25. Rivals is reporting($) that Leon McQuay III has dropped Michigan after the Douglas commitment, so who that might be is a mystery unless it's VA RB Derrick Green.

NON-BONUS: The 2010 class, originally 27 strong, has been hacked to 15 in just two years. Death by…

  • ACADEMICS: Antonio Kinard, Demar Dorsey, Davion Rogers, Conelius Jones
  • BEING A NE'ER DO WELL: Austin White
  • INJURY: Christian Pace, Terry Talbott
  • DEPTH CHART RELATED: Cullen Christian, Ray Vinopal, DJ Williamson, Carvin Johnson, Terrence Talbott (probably)

Yeesh.

Spring Game Primer: Defense

Spring Game Primer: Defense

Submitted by Ace on April 13th, 2012 at 12:06 PM


What, you expected a picture of someone else?

The two-part preview of the spring game concludes with a look at the defense. Part one, covering the offense—including some staggering insight on the kicking game—lives here.

Big Will Style. It is Year 4 of the Will Campbell Breakout Watch, and the stakes are raised this season, as he'll be playing on the first team unless... he'll be playing on the first team. Campbell showed flashes of his five-star talent last season, displaying an ability to overwhelm interior linemen with his strength and surprising quickness. To have the desired impact, however, he must play with more consistency. Yes, this is where we talk about pad level. If Campbell shows he can stay low, regularly push the pile, and simply occupy two blockers to allow the linebackers to make plays, there will be optimism abound about the defense. No pressure, big guy.

Touch (Don't Hit, Please) The Quarterback. Michigan generated a decent pass rush last season, finishing 29th in the country with 2.3 sacks per game, but much of that pressure was generated by now-graduated linemen Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen. The line underwent a major overhaul this spring, with Craig Roh moving to strongside DE and Jibreel Black to three-tech DT, leaving sophomores Brennen Beyer and Frank Clark to battle for the weakside DE spot. The new line is more athletic than last year's edition; Black could be a terror rushing from the inside, where he'll no longer have to deal with his issues playing in space, while both DE spots get an upgrade athletically. The key here is Roh, who's on his fourth position in four years, which has understandably led to less production than expected when he hit campus after a stellar high school career. If he can handle the occasional double-team from the tight end and find a way to get to the QB, this could be a fearsome unit when they pin their ears back, especially with Madman Mattison pulling the strings.

More D-Line, Because It Scares Me. The starting unit (counting Beyer/Clark as a two-headed weakside monster) should be just fine [insert Campbell caveat], but the backups inspire less confidence. Richard Ash hasn't proven much at Michigan except his ability to resemble a small planet while struggling with injuries; that's your backup nose tackle until Ondre Pipkins gets to Ann Arbor. Quinton Washington has seen the field sparingly and hasn't really produced since switching over from guard; that's your backup three-tech unless one of the true freshmen is game-ready this fall. Nathan Brink should be passable at strongside DE, but he's out for the spring game. I guess we'll see how Chris Rock looks as a redshirt freshman. All we're hoping for here is competence, enough to allow the starters to get the occasional breather—remember the Sugar Bowl if you're asking why that's necessary—without putting fans into full-on panic mode.

New Blood. Early enrollee Joe Bolden has seemingly passed everyone but Kenny Demens on the depth chart at middle linebacker, and of the three true freshmen who will play tomorrow he's the most likely to have a big role come fall. He should see the field a lot tomorrow, especially with Demens recovering from a "mild" concussion*. Don't sleep on safety Jarrod Wilson, however, who's also impressed practice observers. Wilson isn't a likely candidate to start with Thomas Gordon returning, but he should provide valuable depth and has the potential to turn into the ball-hawking free safety Michigan hasn't seen since... [racks brain, shows youth, leaves space blank {Ed-S: Tommy Hendricks? Daydrion Taylor? Chuck Winters? Corwin Brown? Ray/Shazor/Adams were all SS} ].

Secondary... Depth? That Can't Be Right. Heading into the spring, the cornerback position appeared settled with returning starters Blake Countess and J.T. Floyd set to reprise last year's role, with Courtney Avery penciled in as the nickel corner. But now, there are rumblings that junior Terrence Talbott is very much in the mix to start, though I'm not sure who the odd man out would be in that situation; Floyd has the experience and was a consistently strong performer last year, while Countess had his ups and downs but clearly has the higher ceiling. Throw in Raymon Taylor providing good competition at nickel, and all of a sudden Michigan has something resembling depth at cornerback. I'll let that sink in for a second.

Sorry not sorry. Heads asplode again when you realize that Wilson and Marvin Robinson allow Michigan to go two-deep at both safety spots as well. Timez are weird these days.

Killa Cam. Cam Gordon spring practice hype? YOU DON'T SAY. We've been through this song and dance before with less-than-desirable results, so color me skeptical when practice rumblings have Gordon pushing Jake Ryan for the starting gig at SLB. While I highly doubt Ryan is displaced—he's poised for a run at all-conference status—Gordon could be a very solid rotation guy, bringing athleticism off the edge and the ability to drop into coverage. With Bolden pushing for time at MIKE and a whole group of players—senior Brandin Hawthorne, redshirt freshman Antonio Poole, and early enrollee Kaleb Ringer—providing competition behind Desmond Morgan at WILL, it appears there's also lots of linebacker depth to go around.

Can I Get a Consistent Big Leg? Will Hagerup and Matt Wile are battling it out for the starting punter spot, something Brady Hoke addressed in yesterday's presser:

“I think they’re kind of neck and neck. One day one of them is really consistent and one day he’s not. The other guy’s consistent. We’re going to do some stuff on Saturday to really put some heat on them and see how they handle that part of it. We’ve been doing that some, but I think in that environment you get a couple more speed guys on there, I think it will be interesting to see.”

Hokespeak translation: Hagerup = inconsistent big leg, Wile = consistent less big leg. We'll see what happens when there are punt cover teams running at them.

The situation would be resolved if Hagerup could eliminate the 30-yard shanks from his repertoire. Unfortunately, he hasn't done that in two seasons as the starter-when-not-suspended. Wile doesn't have the Zoltan-level upside of Hagerup, but his reliability could give him an edge. We won't really get any definitive answers tomorrow—sample size and all—but it's worth keeping an eye on as we edge closer to football season.

---------------------------------
*I think we'll reach the point in the not-so-distant future where we look back and realize there is absolutely no such thing as a "mild" concussion. Oh, my brain had a minor thump into my skull. No biggie.

Let's Overreact To: Spring Scrimmage #2

Let's Overreact To: Spring Scrimmage #2

Submitted by Brian on April 2nd, 2012 at 10:19 AM

Via MGoVideo:

The king of tight camera angles was really feeling it this time around, so we don't get a whole lot of detail, but it's April. Events are not thick on the ground.

Play 1: Denard fires a TE out to Brandon Moore, immediate tackle by Kenny Demens and Jake Ryan. Ricardo Miller comes into the frame late: 2TE set from the shotgun, or Miller's splitting his time between TE and WR.

Play 2: What looks like an inside zone from the shotgun breaks big. Ryan is coming around the backside and gets butt-blocked by Lewan, and that's all she wrote. Where is the SDE?

Play 3: Similar but Toussaint hits his gap closer to the frontside between Omameh and Barnum. Black gets handled one-on-one by Barnum and Toussaint jukes a filling safety I can't identify to dance into the endzone. I think that was probably Marvin Robinson since he was not a white guy and Gordon comes into the frame at the end of the play. Bolden and Talbott are also in with what seems like the first unit.

Play 4: Denard zips a deep slant just over the outstretched hand of Brennen Beyer that Jeremy Gallon snags impressively:

image

That's Countess to the left. He's concentrating on the interception instead of the tackle and gives up a bunch of YAC as a result.

Play 5: Marvin Robinson clubs a quick TE out for little gain. Second unit there: Ringer and Mike Jones are on the field.

Play 6: More 2-on-2s action as an inside zone to Rawls is well defended on the front side; Rawls cuts back behind Quinton Washington for a big gain. Washington is a three-tech next to NT Ash, so it's not really his fault. Where is the WDE?

Play 7: Denard under center. Iso handoff to Toussaint goes nowhere as Ryan makes a nice play. Campbell beat Barnum and forced Toussaint behind the A-gap where Hopkins was leading into; Morgan thumped the FB at the LOS. Bolden now running with the first team. probably because this is after Demens did this:

ApXjZKCCQAAPfDD[1]

He took the opportunity to claim he'd be out for the season as an April Fools joke before revising that down to a few weeks and then a couple days.

Play 8: Vincent Smith power from under center goes nowhere. Bolden ends up tackling near the LOS. He does not bring his feet, causing someone to cry out "bring your feet!"

Play 9: Gardner launches a deep fly to Gallon; Countess is all over it, knocking it away.

Play 10: Under center power is pretty much stuffed until Ryan can't quite make a tackle on Toussaint as he breaks outside containment. He did a good enough job of stringing him out and slowing him down that Countess and other members can rally and hold it down. Michigan still can't run power from under center.

It is possible that Toussaint had a decent gain if he slammed it up in the hole.

Play 11: Denard sits in the pocket, getting no pressure, then runs around being all fast and stuff.

Play 12: Gardner waggle does not meet pressure on the edge. Gardner lofts a nice touch pass over Frank Clark to walk-on former DE Chris Eddins.

Interlude: Man, is Elliot Mealer's forehead red.

image

Also he has a great mountain man beard going on. Some potential here for Mealer to be Mike Hart's Pet Viking down the road.

Play 13: Another under center run should be consumed until Toussaint makes it into a decent gain. Toussaint has to dodge Beyer in the backfield. Campbell is stunting behind this and overruns the play a little bit; he's got help to the frontside and lets Fitz behind him. He gets enough of Toussaint to put him to the ground but not before the play gets six or seven.

Play 14: Denard hangs in the pocket and zings it to Gallon; ball is well behind him and Gallon has to make a moderately difficult catch. I don't think this is that bad of a throw—at the coaches' clinic Borges said he wants his QBs to hold the receiver up when throwing against zone, which this is. He doesn't want the QB to lead the WR into a defender. So this is somewhat intentional.

Talbott still out there with the first team.

Play 15: Another TE out, this one from Gardner to Jordan Paskorz and a bit deeper. Jarrod Wilson appears for the first time.

Play 16: Denard zings a TE in to Moore for a first down. Gordon tackles.

Play 17: Taylor Lewan blocks Ryan. We don't see the ball.

Play 18: Unidentifiable leaping guy (probably Ryan or Beyer) dissuades Denard from throwing the throwback screen. Instead he takes off and is fast and stuff.

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

Any takeaways here? It feels like the offensive line depth chart is approaching ink: Barnum has won the center job and Mealer is the guy at left guard. We haven't seen a snap that would suggest otherwise yet. Things can change when the cavalry arrives in fall; for now it looks like the veterans have the edge.

There are a lot of plays featuring tight ends, which is kind of odd since everyone's claiming their tight ends are a major issue and won't feature much during the year. Eddins, Moore, and Paskorz all feature. This may be the Johnny Sears move where you promote the weakest link on the team in an effort to keep spirits buoyed.

Other bits: Bolden passed Mike Jones the minute he showed up. Terrence Talbott could be a viable option at corner and may be pressing for some time. Also he has six arms and an FTL drive. /BOOM FredJackson'd. Campbell isn't getting blown up by Barnum. They've got some edge issues. Big ones, issues where you wonder if they weren't playing with ten guys on the field.

Denard is fast. Their under center running game is still poor. Jeremy Gallon is making some nice downfield catches, and Toussaint is on another level from Rawls and Smith. You can see the difference immediately in these tight-frame closeups.

Midseason Re-Eval: Secondary

Midseason Re-Eval: Secondary

Submitted by Brian on October 20th, 2010 at 2:43 PM

Taking stock during the bye week.

Preseason

People thought I was depressive when the secondary preview started "what's the point of anything?"

james-rogers-msucam-gordon-notre-dame

WHO'S DEPRESSIVE NOW!?!?! YEAHHHHH. Score one for cold-eyed realism. This could be the worst secondary in a BCS conference. It's definitely the worst in Michigan history.

Anyway, cornerback got a 1 and I thought about breaking the rules to go lower:

Nothing has ever gotten a zero before even jokingly, not even the 2008 offensive line that consisted of seven guys who could plausibly play and actually started a defensive tackle who had been switched in the middle of fall camp. But I thought about it here. What Michigan has to offer at corner is going to be substandard unless a great miracle falls from the sky, and will probably be no better than last year's fare even before Woolfolk moved.

Some vague hopes were offered for JT Floyd despite his ugly, brief tenure as the starter opposite Donovan Warren once Boubacar Cissoko went ham. These were based on constant positive reinforcement from the coaches and the occasional mysterious practice observer, with the latter given more credence because they didn't have an obvious ulterior motive. "Average" was the "best anyone could hope for," though.

Opposite Floyd I took a wild guess that Cullen Christian would end up starting—if not immediately by the time the Big Ten season hit—because he was the most highly-touted recruit and was not James Rogers. Avery and Talbott were regarded as basically identical recruits who needed a year and 20 pounds before seeing the field. They wouldn't be allowed that luxury.

At safety 2 was offered, "generously." Jordan Kovacs was said to be totally incapable of playing a deep half but "pretty good as a tiny linebacker." In sum:

So Kovacs is going to have to cover a deep half sometimes. This won't go very well, and Michigan's defense will be limited by it. On the other hand, the run defense shouldn't be nearly as bad with Kovacs filling the weakside alley; last year he racked up 75 tackles despite the late start. Marvin Robinson will press Kovacs for his job, but probably not take it. Iowa and Wisconsin have gotten away with players like him for years.

At free safety, Cam Gordon was named the Grady Brooks memorial King of Spring Hype. The usual accolades were relayed, the thing about how he should probably be a linebacker mentioned, and a projection of a sort offered:

As a redshirt freshman, a "big year" would be wrapping up his tackles and not letting anyone behind him for crippling long touchdowns. … Repeating [Brandon Englemon's] +0.7 per game would go a very long way towards bringing Michigan's defense back from the dead. That's optimistic. Cam Gordon will chase more than a couple opponents into the endzone. But not on third and twenty-four.

Fast forward to NOW!

henri-the-otter-of-ennu

nothing really matters… anyone can see… that nothing really matters to meeeeeeeeeee

Depressingly accurate overall even considering the original depression that was depressing. Michigan is 118th in pass defense and 94th in efficiency.

Maybe the corners have been slightly less atrocious than expected, but Michigan's been limited when they try to play man coverage because things like Iowa's last touchdown happen when they do. On that play, Michigan sent the house and JT Floyd gave up a slant despite starting with inside leverage. They make plays on occasion, but lord they're not good. Michigan's defense is limited in the same way their offense was in 2008—with deficiencies that severe man coverage is a dangerous gamble every time it's deployed.

Floyd is significantly improved, so there's that. He's still below average. He's not a total liability. On the other side, Michigan hasn't been able to displace Rogers despite his tendency to go into anaphylactic shock whenever he comes within five yards of an opponent wide receiver…

5057438105_64dabddb14

OH MY GOD WHAT DID YOU DO BATHE IN CAT HAIR

…because the freshmen have been playing like typical three-star true freshmen: badly. They first started rotating into the lineup against BG; since then

  • Cullen Christian was burned twice against BG and gave up an easy long touchdown against Michigan State,
  • Terrence Talbott was primarily responsible for turning third and fifteen into first and ten on Michigan State's second touchdown drive and gave Indiana their last touchdown by dragging out of his zone, and
  • Courtney Avery was personally responsible for large chunks of Indiana yards, gave up a touchdown on third and ten against Iowa by dragging out of his zone, and turned what should have been another third and ten stop into a whiffed tackle, 20 yards, and the field goal that was the final nail in Michigan's coffin.

This is disappointing, especially Christian's failure to beat out not only Rogers but apparently his classmates. Talbott and Avery feature in the nickel and dime packages while Christian backed up the outside guy; he has apparently lost that job. too—Avery came in against Iowa when JT Floyd missed a few plays.

At safety, Kovacs has been Kovacs. He's small, he's not very fast, but he's probably the team's best tackler and he's been in the right spot more often than anyone on the defense. This has resulted in a bunch of UFRs where he's got several half-points in each direction and comes out at zero. He could be the fifth-best player on a good defense.

Cam Gordon has been rough, honestly little better than the mess Michigan threw out last year. He racked up a double-digit negative day against Notre Dame and followed that up with another one against Michigan State. His angles have been too aggressive or too conservative with little porridge in-between, and he's failed to shake a nasty habit of not wrapping up his tackles. He's pretty good running downhill, and that's about it. Preseason hype has given way to cold reality. Gordon is a redshirt freshman converted wide receiver who should probably be playing linebacker. He plays safety like he's a bowling ball: he goes fast in one direction and hopes to knock over the pins with momentum because he has no arms.

clubber-lang

Fast forward to LATER!

What can we expect the rest of the year? Pain, but less of it.

Rodriguez made an offhand comment about maybe moving someone from one safety spot to another when discussing the possibility of a Will Campbell move, but that would either be Jordan Kovacs or Marvin Robinson. Kovacs's tenure at deep safety last year was hardly less disastrous than that of Mike William or Gordon; Marvin Robinson is yet another freshman who is likely to make the same sorts of mistakes.

Gordon's it unless Michigan wants to turn to true freshman two-star Ray Vinopal, who picked off a pass from a third-string Bowling Green walk-on and has therefore made the best play by a Michigan safety in the last ten years. I'm not sure if that's a joke.

Floyd's not very good, Rogers is what he is at this point, and the freshmen are clearly not instant impact types, except insofar as they give up an extra touchdown per game than a Michigan secondary featuring Troy Woolfolk. That is an impact, just not the one you're hoping for.

Your best hopes the rest of the year:

  • Courtney Avery learns WTF a zone is and how to play it.
  • Cam Gordon's angles and tackling improve marginally.
  • JT Floyd progresses towards average and at least gets basic things right.

Actually, your best hope is this: Michigan did okay against the two rookies and/or flat bad quarterbacks they've faced to date. Zack Fraser didn't do anything. ND's three-headed QB was contained. Bowling Green couldn't do much of anything. Michigan's next three opponents all feature freshmen at QB; they're ranked 104th (PSU), 105th (Illinois), and 107th (Purdue) in passing efficiency. They're bound to be less effective than the last three guys, a senior returning starter, junior returning starter, and senior returning starter who are all in the top 30 in passer efficiency. Tolzien will shred, but who knows what Terrelle Pryor will do? (Probably shred, actually—he has no problems against awful Ds this year.)

By the end of the year Michigan's numbers will be slightly less grim as the schedule eases and the freshmen learn WTF a zone is. They will still be grim.

Preview 2010: Secondary

Preview 2010: Secondary

Submitted by Brian on August 30th, 2010 at 2:42 PM

Previously: The Story.

never_forget-500 Never forget.

What's the point of anything?

I ask this question for reasons existential and practical. Earlier this summer Eleven Warriors pinged me for some help previewing Michigan's defense, so I talked about Mike Martin and the rest of the promising defensive line and mentioned the trouble at linebacker; the section on the secondary was simply this: "rank them last." At this point Justin Turner was still on the team and Troy Woolfolk's ankle was unaware of what Angry Michigan Secondary Hating God had in store for it.

When it, he, and we found out AMSHG's true power in mid-August I started drinking immediately, resulting in a night where I finally used twitter as God intended by blathering about having a power drill, burning my elbow on tea, coughing, not coughing, and finally drinking a horrible concoction of Cointreau with anything (the whiskey had been exhausted) and eating cold squash pakora with a slice of American cheese while mournfully contemplating everything from Mike Floyd to whatever 5'8" guy UMass will throw out there this year. The next day Henri the Otter of Ennui made his earliest-ever appearance on the blog (setting a record that will probably stand for all time) while I enumerated the options left at corner, mentioning Richard Nixon twice before a nominal first-string player at the semi-public fall scrimmage. Even if I've calmed down since, and I have a little bit, that's the existential chunk.

The practical chunk: the probable starters at corner, safety, and the safety-ish position that was called spinner (except when Greg Robinson was denying such a concept ever existed) and is now called spur are:

  • at free safety, a redshirt freshman
  • at spur, a true freshman (who will be treated as a linebacker, FWIW)
  • at bandit, a redshirt sophomore walk-on
  • at one corner, a redshirt sophomore pulled in favor of Mike Williams last year, and
  • at the other corner, a true freshman.

Meanwhile, literally every backup except the aforementioned Williams has never played a meaningful snap at Michigan because they arrived two months ago or, in the case of James Rogers, was just one of those guys who seems like they're never going to play from day one. I could just point you to their recruiting profiles, tell you they'll be in the conversation for worst secondary in the league, and resume cowering in a closet. Previewing this position group is almost totally pointless: I've never really seen anyone play. They're probably going to be bad.

If this is an insufficient description of the situation, though, well, here's all this stuff. 

Cornerback

Rating: 1.

Corner #1 Yr. Corner #2 Yr.
JT Floyd So.* Cullen Christian Fr.
Courtney Avery Fr. James Rogers Sr.*
Terrence Talbott Fr. Tony Anderson Jr.*#

[* = player has taken redshirt. # = walk-on.]

Technically, the position preview scale goes from one to five. Nothing has ever gotten a zero before even jokingly, not even the 2008 offensive line that consisted of seven guys who could plausibly play and actually started a defensive tackle who had been switched in the middle of fall camp. But I thought about it here. What Michigan has to offer at corner is going to be substandard unless a great miracle falls from the sky, and will probably be no better than last year's fare even before Woolfolk moved.

jt-floyd-vs-indiana

JT FLOYD

SMOKED LIKE GANJA
The big touchdown.
NOT FAST
doomed from the start
MADE A PLAY!
knocking it down
fade cover

The single person at this position who Michigan fans have seen on the field is redshirt sophomore JT Floyd. On the one hand, he was so overmatched last year that Michigan decided they should move Troy Woolfolk to his spot and unleash Mike Williams on the world; Williams promptly gave up a third-and-twenty-four conversion to Iowa and was subsequently swapped with freshman walk-on Jordan Kovacs, leaving a tiny, slow, inexperienced guy no one even recruited in the most critical spot on the defense. This went exactly as well as you might expect. The coaches thought this was preferable to having Floyd on the field.

For my part, the Indiana UFR waved a white flag even at 4-0:

Whatever lingering hopes you had that the corner spot opposite Warren could turn into a non-liability should be put in the corner and told to  be quiet for a while. JT Floyd did better than I thought he did live but still remains a timid redshirt freshman who transparently lacks the speed to be an elite corner. Michigan is going to have to cover up for him.

So did the game column:

Seeing an Indiana freshman zip past not only the walk-on safety gamely pretending he doesn't run a 4.8 but the scholarship, potentially-starting cornerback not named Donovan Warren was alarming. If JT Floyd is going to play corner in the Big Ten he's going to do it ten yards off the line of scrimmage.

Floyd held onto his job for the Michigan State game, but that game saw Michigan adopt a fundamentally unsound formation featuring Floyd in the parking lot. State exploited this with a ton of virtually uncontested wide receiver screens:

They then countered those with the outside pitches that were the only consistently successful running plays Michigan State managed all day (QB scrambles were another story). Floyd may not have gotten smoked deep but it was only because he was playing Hail Mary defense all game. Seeing how untenable that situation was, Michigan's coaches made the move to Woolfolk at corner, thus opening up the already pretty much wide open floodgates. Except for sporadic plays and special teams duty, thus ended Floyd's participation in the 2009 season.

On the other hand, the coaches have been talking up his improvement since spring and have continued to do so through fall. Rodriguez 4/13: Floyd has "played well." Rodriguez 8/2: Floyd is coming off "a great spring." Also on 8/2: Rodriguez expresses "particular confidence" in Floyd and drops the t-bomb—"tremendous." Greg Robinson 8/11: Floyd is showing "a lot of progress." A spring practice source: Floyd is "vastly improved." And Robinson and Gibson on 8/25:

"J.T. Floyd may have been the guy that made the biggest jump from last season to the end of spring ball in so many ways," Robinson said on Sunday. "There's nothing any different - he's just worked really hard. J.T. just has a way about him - he leads well and his work habits - he's just a harder worker than he was at this time last year."

Gibson concurs. "He's done such a complete turnaround. You just take last year at this time, and he was just a guy really trying to work to the point that he’s at right now, and he’s done it."

UFR '09: JT Floyd
Opponent + - T Comments
WMU - 5 -5 Yikes.
Indiana 4.5 8 -3.5 Tries hard. Clearly
physically deficient.
MSU 3 3 0 I'll take it.
Wisconsin - 1 -1 Eh.

How meaningful is any of this? The fear is not very. This is replica of the Johnny Sears hype down to the sweet dreads: after being largely responsible for that heart-stopping moment when Ball State had a first and goal with a shot to tie Michigan in the '06 season, Johnny Sears was in line for a starting cornerback job after the graduation of Leon Hall. Sears was talked up all offseason, failed miserably during the Horror, was quickly yanked for true freshman Donovan Warren, and was off the team a month into the 2007 season. While that outcome is an negative outlier even with Angry Michigan Secondary-Hating God at full wroth, it goes to show that sometimes a coach praising a kid who's struggled and is being thrust into a prominent role is more hope than anything else. Our best hope may be that anonymous spring observer, who has no reason to pump up a kid in the hopes he'll keep it together.

Floyd was just a freshman last year and should improve significantly. The chatter's consistent enough and from enough sources that some of it is probably real. Average is about all anyone can hope for, though.

cullen-christian-action

The other corner spot will probably (50.1%!) end up in the hands of freshman Cullen Christian. James Rogers had a tentative hold on the first string in the semi-public fall scrimmage that he maintained to the release of the fall depth chart, but since he hasn't played at all in his Michigan career—not even when the walls were falling in last year—he's likely to cede that by the time the season rolls around. If not by then, probably by the Big Ten season.

Christian gets the ultra-tentative nod here simply by virtue of his recruiting rankings, which were strong. He checked in a near five-star at Scout, a top 100 guy at Rivals, and hit three other top 100 lists. He's not a burner; his main assets are his size (6'1"), leaping ability, and excellent hips. ESPN praised his "coveted size, quickness, fluidity and savvy" and said he would enter college "ahead of the curve in terms of technique, understanding of coverages and size," and assessment basically echoed by Rivals and the rest of the chattering class. His main problem is tackling, at which he's pretty sucky.

How doomed is Michigan here? Still pretty doomed. But it is worth pointing out that if there's one spot on defense where a freshman can walk onto the field and not spoil everything, it's corner, where conservative play and safety help can mitigate the damage.

What, Me Backups?

The backups are unknowns or freshmen. The aforementioned James Rogers was a lanky high school tailback reputed to have great straight-line speed but no hips; Michigan took him as a flier recruit. He has not panned out, bouncing from wide receiver to cornerback for the duration of his career.

Rogers did come in for some fall fluff during Rodriguez's post-scrimmage presser:

James Rogers is a senior that has played over that position. He has had a really good camp. Some of the young freshman that are competing out there at that position … Again, James Rogers is a veteran. He has been around a little bit, so we have a little experience with James out there as well.

He has to play and may even get the bulk of the time early. The assumption here is that even if he's currently ahead of the freshmen he probably won't remain so for very long.

sns103109spSpringfieldFB2 courtney-avery
Talbott #14 left, Avery right

The two remaining freshmen are extremely similar. Terrence Talbott and Courtney Avery are middling three-star types from Ohio; Avery is probably the better athlete, since he was a star quarterback; Talbott is more polished since he's been a full-time corner but spent a lot of his high school career injured. Both approached but did not get four stars on one of the big three recruiting sites; both got "meh" from the other two; both are generously listed at 5'10" and truthfully listed at 165 pounds. They need 20 pounds before they're anything approximating Big Ten corners. Instead they get thrown into the fire immediately.

Talbott in a sentence:

The book on Talbott: short, smart, agile, excellent in coverage but needs a year or two to bulk up for college.

I don't have anything quite as neat on Avery but both Scout and ESPN praise his "exceptional athleticism" while calling him very, very small.

Reports out of fall camp have been conflicting, with certain folk claiming one or the other will play, possibly a lot, while the other is way too small and a guaranteed redshirt. There wasn't much to tell them apart during the scrimmage; whichever one does get drafted into playing this year is going to play a lot of conservative zone coverage and miss a lot of tackles.

There were rumors Kelvin Grady might get a shot at corner but with Martavious Odoms apparently moving outside full-time there's room for him to play at slot and he's been prominent this fall; if he does end up moving it will be a midseason panic thing. Teric Jones was moved back to offense after spending a year trying to learn cornerback, getting moved to safety, and then getting moved to cornerback again; obviously he's just not a D-I caliber player on D.

Safety

Rating: 2, generously

Bandit/SS Yr. Free Safety Yr.
Jordan Kovacs So.*# Cam Gordon Fr.*
Marvin Robinson Fr. Jared Van Slyke Jr.*#
-- -- Vlad Emilien Fr.*

[* = player has taken redshirt. # = walk-on, or former walk-on]

111409_SPT_UM v WU_MRMSafety has been the positional bête noir of the Michigan fan for going on a decade now but things had never been as black or beastly as they were last year, when Boubacar Cissoko's epic flameout forced Michigan to go with the doomed Jordan Kovacs-Mike Williams combination. Williams was the most confused, least useful player I've ever broken down film of; Kovacs was just slow and small. Their powers combined in episodes like "Iowa tight ends are open by 15 yards," "We don't have a guy in the deep middle on third and twenty four," and "What would Juice Williams be like if he was an unstoppable 500-foot-tall robot?"

Williams has been shuffled off to third- or fourth-team spur to cover punts for all eternity,  but the situation here is hardly less bleak than it was a year ago. Jordan Kovacs is now a sophomore walk-on and probable starter. Last year he debuted against Notre Dame, was one of two Michigan secondary members to be blazed on the infamous 85-yard Indiana touchdown, and then actually started making a name for himself as a solid box safety in the Michigan State game:

Jordan Kovacs registered a +4.5 and is single-handedly responsible for about half of the + tackles Michigan saw yesterday … Kovacs provided hard-nosed run defense that makes me think he'll be a positive contributor going forward.

Williams imploded in the next game, Michigan dropped Kovacs to free safety, and the walls caved in. The dividing line was clear as day in UFR:

 
UFR '09: Jordan Kovacs
Opponent + - T Notes
Notre Dame 1 - 1 Nice story.
EMU 2 1 1 Hasn't cost Michigan anything yet..
Indiana 3 4 -1 Hardy, but slow.
Michigan State 7.5 3 4.5 Some of these were just backside blitzes that he tackled on, but he did tackle. At other times he displayed a real knack for getting to  ballcarriers.
Iowa 2.5 3 -0.5 Missed one tackle, made another few, good downhill box safety.
Penn State 1 6 -5 Just can't play a deep half.
Illinois - 3 -3 Again burned as a deep half safety.
Purdue 1 5 -4 Enormous bust #3.
Wisconsin 4 4 0 Did pretty okay. No idea why they moved him to deep safety; he's pretty effective in the box.

The Mike Williams bit is handled in the linebackers and has more on just how disastrous a switch this was, but the morals of the story: Kovacs cannot play free safety and is pretty effective as a tiny linebacker when he doesn't have to take on linemen.

JORDAN KOVACS

EFFECTIVE RUN BLITZER
jet past blockers
tackles Caper from behind
takes down the RB
WOULD BE A GREAT LB IF HE WAS 50% BIGGER
shoot up through a gaping hole
doesn't bite on the bubble fake
NOT FAST
doomed from the start
bails and bails

Michigan moves him back to tiny linebacker this fall, but it's not that easy. When Steve Sharik explained how you defend four verticals in the three-deep coverage Michigan would love to play all year if they can get away with it, he made it clear such a move was how you draw it up but not how it plays out much: frankly, three deep, one-high coverage sucks against four verticals. You know how a bunch of Michigan's passing plays in spring and fall came when the quarterbacks nailed the slot receivers in between levels in zone coverage? That's what happens, Larry, when you meet a stranger in the alps by playing exclusively one-high coverage.

So Kovacs is going to have to cover a deep half sometimes. This won't go very well, and Michigan's defense will be limited by it. On the other hand, the run defense shouldn't be nearly as bad with Kovacs filling the weakside alley; last year he racked up 75 tackles despite the late start. Marvin Robinson will press Kovacs for his job, but probably not take it. Iowa and Wisconsin have gotten away with players like him for years.

Freshman safety Cameron Gordon plays in Michigan's spring football game on Saturday, April 17, 2010 at the Big House.  (ARIEL BOND/Daily)

At free safety is this year's Grady Brooks memorial King of Spring Hype award: Cam Gordon. Though Gordon was recruited as a wide receiver, everyone on the planet expected he'd get his token chance at the position and then get flipped to defense, where Michigan desperately needed bodies and he projects better anyway.

This duly happened, except when Gordon and his 6'3" frame moved it was to free safety, not linebacker. This was pretty weird, and it got weirder still when the hype machine starter cranking out superlative after superlative. A sampling follows. Rodriguez:

“Cam Gordon has been really consistent all spring,” Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said. We’re “really getting some confidence with him.”

MGoBlog's own Tom Van Haaren reporting back from some conversations with players on the team:

Cameron Gordon is the most surprising for everyone. His name keeps coming up. I’ve heard that he tackles well and has really good coverage skills. The people I’ve talked to say he’s just a natural ball hawk. Good decision to move him to safety.

By the spring game he was the undisputed starter at free safety; he managed to get through that without anyone even noticing him. In the safety business this is a win.

Unfortunately, Gordon struggled in the fall scrimmage, failing to wrap up on a number of tackles. Rodriguez was sticking to his guns afterward:

"Yesterday was not his best day practice wise, but other than that, he has a really good camp. He is a very physical guy and the game is really important to him. Again, he has not played. He has not played in the big stage yet. There is going to be nerves and there are going to be some mistakes, but he has just got to limit them… we look for a big year for him even though he is a redshirt freshman.”

As a redshirt freshman, a "big year" would be wrapping up his tackles and not letting anyone behind him for crippling long touchdowns. With his lack of blazing speed and inexperience, actually making plays seems out of the question. Misopogon dedicated a couple of his epically researched posts to the safety play and found that Brandent Englemon's traditional 1-0-1 as a junior was actually the second best performance of any safety in the UFR era (with Jamar Adams obviously finishing first).

Repeating that +0.7 per game would go a very long way towards bringing Michigan's defense back from the dead. That's optimistic. Cam Gordon will chase more than a couple opponents into the endzone. But not on third and twenty-four.

Backups

marvin-robinson-abs marvin-robinson-no-shirt

Marvin Robinson is the most shirtless recruit in the world

If you've been watching the Countdown to Kickoff videos frequently, you've probably experienced the same sort of cognitive dissonance I have when #3 comes roaring in from somewhere else and whacks a guy to the ground authoritatively or picks off an errant pass. This is not the competent-to-good LB hybrid version of Stevie Brown, it's Marvin Robinson, Michigan's first great hope for bandit. As a true freshman, the book on Robinson is contained in his recruiting profile, but you're probably familiar with the general outline by now: hyped Florida recruit enamored with Michigan since a freshman trip to Michigan's summer camp, early offers from USC, Florida, and the rest of the world, precipitous fall in the rankings, still a highly regarded prospect with athleticism Jordan Kovacs can only dream of.

Robinson's early performance has him pushing Kovacs. Woofolk noticed him even before practice started, and Greg Robinson knows a lady-killer when he sees one:

"I know this: he walks around the building looking really good."

His performance in fall was highlight-heavy and caught the attention of his teammates. He finished second to Jonas Mouton when AnnArbor.com media day poll asked who the hardest hitter on the team was. Ricardo Miller was one vote:

"When he comes to hit, everyone knows it. I think he's cracked his helmet twice this camp, and if that doesn't show you enough that he can, I don't know what could."

Robinson has huge size and speed advantages on Kovacs and will certainly play this fall, possibly as a passing-down replacement, possibly as something more. In an ideal world he would be so good he would ease Kovacs out of his starting role by midseason. I don't think that's likely since the bandit position is extremely complicated, but I do expect some sort of platoon where Robinson gets ahold of some parts of the playbook he executes better than Kovacs and is brought in regularly.

 Michigan freshman safety Vladimir Emilien snares a pass during Thursday afternoon, August 20th's practice at the Michigan practice facility. 
Lon Horwedel | Ann Arbor.com
At deep safety, Vlad Emilien still seems like the first option behind Gordon but his initial returns have been discouraging. He enrolled early—giving him just as much experience as Kovacs—and then never played, Turner-style, despite the debacle going down on the field. Word was that the senior-year knee injury that cost him almost all of his senior season and his Ohio State offer lingered through the year. With that almost two years in the past now that can no longer be an excuse—any damage still lingering is permanent.

There may be some, as it was Emilien who was left in the dust by Roy Roundtree on the 97-yard strike from Denard Robinson in the spring game; Teric Jones caught and passed Emilien en route. Getting instantly passed by a position-switching guy the same class as you is a bad indicator, as is ending up behind a walk-on on the depth chart.

That walk-on is Jared Van Slyke, about whom nothing is known except his father is really good at baseball. True freshman Ray Vinopal (recruiting profile) is also at free safety. Rodriguez did mention him as a guy who has "a chance" to play this fall, he didn't show up on the first depth chart and he's probably going to redshirt.

The deep safety situation is grim past Gordon; if he doesn't work out you're either starting two walk-ons, moving up Emilien, who doesn't seem ready, or shuffling Robinson and or Kovacs around.

Fri - er - Saturday Night Lights: All Star Games

Fri - er - Saturday Night Lights: All Star Games

Submitted by Tim on June 22nd, 2010 at 1:37 PM

sayedallstar.JPG

A trio of 2010 Michigan commits participated in All-Star games over the weekend. The Brothers Talbott played for Team Ohio in the annual Big 33 Classic against Pittsburgh, while preferred walk-on Baquer Sayed (#4 at right) was on the East team in the Michigan High School Football Coaches' Association All-Star game. Paul and I took in the MHSFCA game in person, and I watched the Big 33 on NFL Network.

East-West Game Report

The MHSFCA All-Star game was without many of Michigan's best players (ironically enough). The likes of Nick Hill and William Gholston from Michigan State didn't play in the game, and the Wolverines' quartet of Ricardo Miller, Austin White, Jeremy Jackson, and Devin Gardner all enrolled early, so they couldn't play. Gardner in particular could have made this a much more entertaining game to watch. The QB play was iffy at best.

The East team had nothing going offensively in the first half, finishing with 7(!) yards of total offense and giving up a safety. The West took advantage, building a 16-0 lead going into the break, courtesy of two Chris Robinson (Ovid-Elsie - Grand Valley State) touchdown runs. Field position played a huge factor, as the East team rarely even made it into opposing territory.

After halftime, however, the East offense came alive, partially due to a little more aggressive play calling. While pass plays functioned as scramble drills in half one, they became part of a functioning offense in the second with Jason Fracassa (Sterling Height Stevenson - Northwood University) able to move the ball through the air. The East scored 20 unanswered points with Fracassa touchdown passes to Eric Cogan (Petersburg-Summerfield - Saginaw Valley State) and Torico Searcy (Warren Mott - Grand Rapids CC) before a last-minute West penalty allowed East coach Jim Sparks (Clawson) the opportunity to forgo a game-tying field goal to go for the win. Jeremy Langford (Westland John Glenn - Michigan State) lined up in the I-formation and sealed the victory for the East.

With such a sloppily-played game, few players truly impressed, but Spartan-bound wideout Tony Lippett (Detroit Crockett) was HUGE in comparison to the rest of the All-Stars. West running back Chris Robinson was somewhat impressive behind a sketchy offensive line, and West QB Jordan Beachnau (Holt - Grand Valley State) showed very good elusive abilities in traffic. I was not impressed at all by Jeremy Langford.

Photo Gallery

Sayed Report

Also impressive was Michigan's lone representative in the game, Baquer Sayed. He was routinely open on the occasion that a pass play was called, but he was often missed (either the quarterback threw a bad ball or didn't throw it his way at all , often because he was running for his life) or interfered with. On top of one key pass interference drawn, he caught 3 passes for 45 yards, with a long reception of 22 yards. He was thrown to two other times, but both passes were uncatchable.

Big 33 Game Report

The Big 33 Classic annually pits some of the best in Ohio against some of the best in Pennsylvania. A number of college commitments participated (Pitt led the way with 10 commits, though Ohio State and Penn State each had 4), and like the Michigan game, it was a defensive battle for much of the contest.

It's very rare that you'll see two separate games start with 2-0 scores in an entire year, much less one day, but that was the case Saturday, as Pennsylvania took that advantage all the way into halftime. Missed field goals from both teams (including onetime Michigan preferred walkon-turned-Vanderbilt kicker Carey Spear of Team Ohio) and generally sloppy play limited the scoring, and quite honestly, fan enjoyment of the game.

After halftime, the game opened up somewhat, as Pennsylvania QB Anthony Gonzales (Liberty - Pitt) threw a pair of touchdown passes, one to PSU-bound Alex Kenney (State College) and another to future teammate Andrew Carswell (Sto-Rox). Ohio was not to be outdone, as Ohio State commits Verlon Reed (Marion Franklin) and Christian Bryant (Glenville) scored TDs. Reed's came on an 80-some-yard scamper, and Bryant's was a 26-yard reception with less than a minute on the clock to put Ohio up for good.

I was impressed with the performance of Alex Kenney and Andrew Carswell from Pennsylvania. Carswell should be a big target for Pittsburgh in the coming years. Wisconsin-bound Mannesah Garner (Brashear) was a terror on the defensive line, though he's expected to be a wideout in Madison. The surprise star of the day was Rich Gray (Woodland Hills) who's headed to Kent State, of all places. He was constantly in the Ohio backfield, and if he can stay on top of his conditioning, the Golden Flashes have uncovered a serious diamond in the rough.

A few Ohio players impressed as well. Verlon Reed and Christian Bryant showed good athleticism, though Reed couldn't pass the ball well at all, and Bryant looked lost in coverage at times (in man, he let Andrew Carswell get free by about 15 yards for one of Pennsylvania's touchdowns). JT Moore (Youngstown Boardman - Ohio State) got good pressure on the quarterback as well.

Talbotts Report

Michigan's representatives in the game, brothers Terry and Terrence Talbott, had mixed results. For the record, their jerseys both said "Talbott"—the organizers probably figured that 6 inches and 75 pounds would be enough for observers to differentiate between them.

Terry had one sack (@ 2:59 in the video below) and a couple other QB pressures, but no other real production. Terrence had a fumble recovery on special teams, one pass breakup and a couple tackles. Terrence was also responsible for one of Pennsylvania's touchdowns, however, as PSU commit Alex Kenney ran a streak down the sidelines, finding himself  a step past—and a lot bigger than—Talbott.

Big 33 Video

That wraps up Michigan commits' All-Star performances for the year, and Friday Night Lights will go into hibernation until late August, when the Class of 2011 gets its time to shine.

Unverified Voracity Rocks Pink Shorts

Unverified Voracity Rocks Pink Shorts

Submitted by Brian on May 17th, 2010 at 1:37 PM

Precedent. Matt Marc Precedent. So I'm idling along watching some Wolverine Historian videos, as I am wont to do from time to time, and am watching the '91 Notre Dame game. In it we may see a hint of what Michigan will do with the Terrencible Talbott brothers when they hit campus: Michigan had Marc and Matt Elliott on the team that year and just said "screw it, this will look ridiculous but the fans must be informed":

image

I look forward to "TERRENCE TALBOTT" stretching down to said Talbott's armpit. Should have named the bigger one Terrence. Also, check out this guy in the endzone when Desmond makes his famous diving fourth-and-one catch:

image 

1991, everyone!

Numbers 0, Old-Timey Hockey Wisdom 0… But Driving. The NCAA hockey rules committee is thinking about dumping full facemasks in favor of half-shields. This would seem to be an obviously less safe setup unless you're a hockey coach, at which point you resort to the old canards about respect and people getting their sticks up and so forth and so on that are similar to the old-timey complaints about how dumping the two-line pass would somehow clog up the game. Both objections are so counterintuitive that they say more about the person offering the explanation than the rule in question.

I was thinking to myself "it's too bad no one's actually done a study about this" at the same time Western College Hockey was busy finding the studies people have actually done about this. Results:

CONCLUSIONS: The use of a full face shield compared with half face shield by intercollegiate ice hockey players significantly reduced the playing time lost because of concussion, suggesting that concussion severity may be reduced by the use of a full face shield.

Er… that would be the exact opposite finding, one echoed by a second study by the same U of Calgary team and a third by the Mayo Clinic. It is possible that college hockey is less likely to feature severe goonery, but that just blows up the lack of respect argument. Half-shields don't seem to prevent vicious hits that result in season-long suspensions and potential criminal charges. (Fight unsupported anecdotes with unsupported anecdotes, I always say.)

Even if the hockey committee recommends it it's hard to imagine anyone outside the community looking at the available evidence and approving the change. The NCAA is not going to make a pointless move that all available evidence suggests will see more athletes injured.

Q: why is anyone pushing for this change? The only rationale I can see is that it's a way to mitigate junior teams playing up their "NHL style" of play. Moving to half-shields would remove the primary visual differentiator between CHL and NCAA hockey.

Mott content explosion. The WTKA Mott-a-thon and the weekend's Brian Griese-sponsored Mott golf outing have collectively raised a ton of money for the children's hospital—maybe this year fewer than three bucket people will accost me before every hockey game*—and produced a flood of what passes for news in May.

Lloyd Carr on booing kids:

Carr has long held the stance that players should never be booed.

"We all love the University of Michigan and to me, that's where it begins and that's where it ends," Carr said. "I always felt that (in) college football, the players should be treated differently than they are in the NFL because they're going to school every day, they're trying to get degrees.

"Very few percentage-wise are going to play in the NFL. The criticism of the players, the pressure on the players has been dramatically increased because of the price of tickets, (and) all of the salaries we're able to provide coaches. All of that pressure is, I think, not a positive for the game. We have to rememvber, those are 18-, 19-, 20-to 21-year-old kids down there, and a lot of people don't want to hear it."

I hope you heard that, guy I threw an empty water bottle at after the Toledo game.

David Terrell sporting a the beginnings of a crazy Kimbo Slice beard (and Braylon Edwards not sporting a crazy Kimbo Slice beard):

david-terrell-crazy-kimbo-slice-beard 

David Brandon on his involvement with Michigan's recruiting:

"I love it. When I was here as a student-athlete, the coaches used me a lot. I love the place and I think I'm a pretty good sales guy, particularly when the product is great. And the product here is great. ... When I'm called upon, if I can convince student-athletes and/or their parents why this is a great place to come and be a part of this tradition, by God I'm going to do it."

Rodriguez on David Molk's status:

“I don’t know where he’s at running wise or anything like that, but I saw him the other day, he walked by the office, and he looks great,” Rodriguez said. “I think he was anxious to do more in the spring but obviously for precautionary reasons we held him out but I think he’ll be 100 percent certainly for August stuff.”

Q.

A. "I have only the vaguest recollection of what David Molk looks like since I haven't laid eyes on him since the Penn State game and will not see him until midway through the second quarter of the UConn game, but a complicated information relay involving at least sixteen different intermediaries who were in no way directed to discover information about Molk—one of them, in fact, is a Canadian—has, by happenstance, provided me a hazy outline of his recovery prognosis, which has a 10% chance of being extremely good and a 90% chance of being completely unknowable by me, Rich Rodriguez, for reasons of NCAA regulations and quantum."

Q.

A. "As you know, as the University of Michigan's head football coach I only take a minimal interest in the on-going progress of the football team, for reasons of NCAA violations, quantum, and AMC's Breaking Bad."

Q.

A. "Devin Gardner is somewhere between 4'1"" and 8'2". So rumor has it, at least. I have no direct knowledge of the situation."

*(Seriously. I just went past two bucket people, third bucket person. Whatever spare change I am going to put in a bucket has been spoken for.)

Another year, another home regional in which you are heavily favored. Michigan was given the #2 overall seed in the softball tournament—Alabama is #1—and will host a regional against Notre Dame, Wright State, and Illinois State this weekend. If you are wondering, yes, geography plays a major role in who goes where. Carol Hutchins:

“It’s why I coach because it makes you feel alive. It’s exciting, that’s what it is. It’s exciting.”

There's a joke in there somewhere, but I can't find it. Illinois and Ohio State are the only other Big Ten teams to make the field; neither are seeds.

Etc.: The Mountain West takes a concrete step towards inviting Boise State. This is happening.

Write a python script to parse mgoblog back unto the dawn on history, get a front page link even if you diss kicking the blog off with a "hello world" post. C syntax ENRAGE python user. Graagh. FYI: apparently about three million words have appeared in posts by yours truly. I won't say I wrote them all given the prevalence of blockquotes on the site, but I probably wrote half of them.

2010 Recruiting: Terrence Talbott

2010 Recruiting: Terrence Talbott

Submitted by Brian on April 29th, 2010 at 11:57 AM

Previously: S Carvin Johnson, S Ray Vinopal, S Marvin Robinson, CB Courtney Avery.

Lexington, Ohio - 5'10" 165

sns103109spSpringfieldFB2 
via Bill Lackey.

Scout 3*, #109 CB
Rivals 3*, NR, 47th in Ohio
ESPN 78, #33 CB
Others NR
Other Suitors Wisconsin, Michigan State, Cincinnati
YMRMFSPA Todd Howard
Previously On MGoBlog Commitment post.
Notes Has a brother Terry. In three days he's gonna marry.
Film

That's junior year stuff. Senior year footage at Scouting Ohio.

Terrence Talbott's mother had a very busy year in the early 90s during which she gave birth to two brothers nine months and one day apart. Dealing with an infant while pregnant seems like an epic timesink—can't say I've personally experienced it, but I'm harried enough with zero kids, inside or out—so perhaps it's understandable that the Talbott family didn't pore over available baby names. When the time came to name the second child, they stuck with what they knew: Terry, basically.

Both grew up to become Division I-A football prospects, and in late summer last year both committed to Michigan. Thus was created one of the greatest nameplate dilemmas of the century. Will Michigan go with Terry Talbott's entire name? What about Terrance? "Ence"? Will one be T. Talbott and the other Talbott? Will Jon Falk just throw his hands up and forgo any attempt to distinguish between the two, figuring that six inches and 100 pounds is better than a few letters on the back of a jersey anyway?

We'll have to wait until at least the UConn game to find out, and unless you can peer at the players stuck deep on the bench from your seat the wait could be considerably longer. Terrence Talbott, the younger defensive back discussed here, has suffered an array of injuries during his high school career. That combined with a general lack of size and recruiting hype suggests a redshirt beckons.

In fact, Talbott has a recruiting profile almost identical to Courtney Avery: one site sees him a borderline four star. The others are unimpressed. Here, though, Scout is the skeptic and ESPN, which gave Avery a MAC-like 73, rates Talbott a 78. That's the same grade given MSU four-star Mylan Hicks (amongst a host of other four-star-ish recruits the average reader is less familiar with) and solidly within the top 20 the state of Ohio. That's a considerable difference from Rivals (#47) or JJ Huddle (#96!).

Here are ESPN's reasons for optimism($):

Talbott is an explosive, well-rounded corner who is active around the ball in both run and pass support. Lacks great size but masks it well with his hard playing style. Has good defensive back savvy, instincts and ball skills. Displays good footwork and sharp stop-start skill mirroring receivers tightly off the line and out of their breaks. We like his zone scheme skill-set and understanding of the concept. Expertly reads the quarterback, soundly anticipates the pass and times his break precisely. Closes on the ball fast and shows good short-area burst jumping and often undercutting perimeter routes. Sharp out of his underneath breaks with good plant and drive skill and explosion out of his pedal. Demonstrates good leaping skills and athleticism defending the deep ball.

In sum, Talbott is "undersized, yet athletic" and ESPN figures he can be a "solid underneath corner" in college.

Despite the vast difference in their ranking of Talbott, Scout's scouting report is nearly identical:

Talbott is a true cover corner with great hips and the willingness to come up and hit against top competition level. While some question his height, his ability to go up against taller receivers have never been a problem as Talbott has a great vertical leap and is fluid in going from coverage to battle a receiver for the ball. …

Great cover corner prospect who could be one of the best in Ohio for the Class of 2010. Must show he can stay in good health but the sky is the limit.

They follow that by naming him the #109 corner in the country. If you're seeing the three stars next to his name and asking yourself "just how many corners did Scout give three stars?" the answer is a whopping 122, not counting JUCOs. Sucks to be #123 (Middle Tennessee commit Chris Sharpe).

And here's his coach providing a similar assessment:

"He's a true cover guy. He's a great open field tackler with an unbelievable amount of athletic ability. He has a 38-39 inch vertical. He has a lot of great things going for him."

The book on Talbott: short, smart, agile, excellent in coverage but needs a year or two to bulk up for college. A couple of impressive combines echo the agility bit. This one was from before his junior year:

“Terrence ran a 4.47 forty and a 4.08 shuttle at Ohio State last weekend,” said Jay Hooten of Fast Twitch Performance who trains the Huber Heights Wayne cornerback. “Let’s just say he turned some heads with his times and I feel he’ll continue to do well as he’s worked hard and is 100-percent healthy. …

Hooten, who was an assistant strength coach at Ohio State for five years, feels Talbott’s future is bright and one of the best athletes he’s worked with. Often he compares Talbott’s physical tools to that of former Buckeye Chris Gamble.

That's a bizarre comparison since Gamble is a huge cornerback at 6'1" and 200 pounds, but if he's got the same sort of mobility as Gamble that would be excellent.

Depending on how you look at it, Talbott's propensity to get injured is either a reason he might be underrated or a worrying flaw. After losing much of his sophomore year to injury, Talbott missed the first couple games of his senior year—including, unfortunately, the one Tim made it to—with an ankle injury that lingered through much of the season.  I tend towards the former since cornerback is not a position that requires a ton of pounding and none of Talbott's injuries were the variety that tend to recur.

As for Talbott's recruitment, he picked up early offers from Michigan State and Wisconsin and by the time he committed he'd added a few additional BCS offers—Cincinnati, Illinois, Kentucky, UConn, and Purdue along with Michigan. That's a solid list notably devoid of heavyweights. He and his brother picked Michigan in mid-August; Terrence was adamant he was going to Michigan even as his brother flirted with North Carolina late in the recruiting year.

Why Todd Howard? Not a strong comparison here since Michigan hasn't had a whole lot of diminutive corners over the past decade. Howard is about as close as it gets to the same physical stature. He was also excellent in coverage until the instant he was supposed to make a play on the ball; hopefully Talbott will be able to get his head around more than twice in his career.

Etc.: Ace mashes up some Talbotts. Here's Wayne quarterback and presumed future Buckeye Braxton Miller on Talbott after Wayne's first game of 2008, when Talbott was just barely a sophomore:

Early in the third quarter Wayne defensive back Terrence Talbott intercepted West quarterback John Peters and returned it to the Firebirds’ 32-yardline. That set up Miller’s 6-yard TD run and a 14-10 Wayne lead with 9:37 left in the third quarter. Talbott added a second interception late in the period.

"(Talbott) works real hard at the weight room and in practice,” Miller said. “He stays after practice and works by himself on the Jugs machine. He’s going to be a good player.”

Guru Reliability: Low. Big spread, lots of injuries.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-ish. A smattering of good offers, with Wisconsin being the most encouraging, and the ESPN ranking are positives. Size and general "eh" from the recruiting sites bring down the excitement level.
Projection: Redshirt if Dorsey makes it in. If Dorsey doesn't, Talbott is more likely to see the field than Avery since he's spent more time at his college position and is praised for his understanding of the position in scouting reports. Will be thrown into the corner melee after the graduation of Woolfolk. Hopefully a guy you don't rely on until he's an upperclassman, at which point he may or may not develop into a starter.

Tuesday Recruitin'

Tuesday Recruitin'

Submitted by Tim on August 18th, 2009 at 12:58 PM

Note: In an effort to remove the enormous and uninviting block of text from the top of the recruiting posts, I've excised the recruiting board update from the post itself. It can still be seen on the actual board.

Moved OH DT Terry Talbott and OH CB Terrence Talbott to committed.

Elsewhere in Committed Prospects...

averyhoops.jpgOH CB Commit Courtney Avery is already known as a multi-talented player: On top of being a defensive back, he's also a startlingly accurate quarterback for his Lexington team. Add a new segment to the resume, as he's also a very accomplished hoopster.

Avery, who originally planned to play football and basketball for Stanford, will focus solely on football at Michigan. Did another national championship leave him second-guessing the decision?

"I'm going to miss basketball, but I'm comfortable with the decision I've made," he said. "This was just a chance to go out and play one final time.

"We started a dynasty together and we wanted to finish it together."

The AAU national championship was his team's third in a row.

Devin Gardner is now a 5-star, and the #4 overall QB on Scout (moves that I predicted would happen, though perhaps not this early). He also passes William Gholston as the #1 in-state prospect.

Cornelius Jones leads Spartanburg to a 13-0 scrimmage victory.

Slightly Longer Shots

AZ S Marquis Flowers "knows two visits he plans to take" ($). Considering the article is written by a staffer from The Wolverine, we can assume that one of those two visits is to Ann Arbor.

Michigan is likely done recruiting running backs unless they can land an elite prospect (i.e. Eduardo Clements), but should they need a backup plan, FL RB Cassius McDowell is probably a good bet. A good friend and former teammate of Denard Robinson, he's the new leader of Deerfield Beach. Also interesting is the fact that the Bucks ran a Wing-T offense last year, but will transition to a spread in 2009. Great timing, guys.

OH S Latwan Anderson has West Virginia, Michigan State, and Georgia atop his list right now, with the Mountaineers leading the way. Michigan seems to have slipped out of his recruitment, though he plans to take his visits before deciding.

CA RB Anthony Barr, who had up to this point had only been on the periphery of Michigan recruiting attention, has included the Wolverines in his final five, along with USC, UCLA, Notre Dame, and Cal. He's a big dude at 6-4 and 223 lbs, so perhaps the Wolverines like his upside at linebacker? He won't decide until his football season is completed.

MD LB Josh Furman will definitely take a visit to Ann Arbor, along with planned visits to Maryland and Virginia Tech. He will announce his decision at the Maryland Crab Bowl, which The Google Machine says takes place on December 19th.

One of the last remaining players interested in Michigan from the DeMatha contingent is S Lorenzo Waters. He includes Michigan in his top four, along with Maryland (the favorite), Miami (That Miami), and Wake Forest.

Other People's Money (and Four-Stars)

OH TE Alex Smith has been "committed" to Cincinnati since February, but the solidity of that commitment has not been constant over time. At this time, he is in an off-again phase with the Bearcats, and the Wolverines have an opening:

As positive as that experience was, it did not propel the Wolverines over a familiar hurdle of theirs when it comes to recruiting tight ends -- scheme.

Despite the assurances offered, Smith remained skeptical about how prevalent a role the tight end will play in Michigan's new offense...

Michigan's best chance at dispelling what it contends is a common misconception about how it uses tight ends will come on the field this fall. Getting Smith back on campus so he can witness the increased productivity of the current tight end tandem of Kevin Koger and Martell Webb will be a major priority. Smith plans to oblige the request, but he plans to do the same for a few other programs as well.

"In no order I'm liking UNC (prior visit), Michigan (prior visit), Wisconsin (prior visit), Miami, LSU and Kentucky (prior visit)," he reported. "Two or three (will receive visits), for sure. I don't know how many I need to take because after going places, I know what they have to offer and there's no real need to go back. I still want to (make a commitment) pretty early (in the season).

So, it looks like Cincinnati is basically out. As long as Michigan uses the tight end effectively this fall, the Wolverines are probably at the top of Smith's list. Smith is also quoted as saying that Michigan is his mom's #1 choice. HOWEVA, Michigan isn't in Smith's top list in this Kurelic article

When asked to name his top choices Smith said, "Cincinnati, then Wisconsin, then North Carolina, and Kentucky is in there too."

…though he does list Michigan first when asked what schools he'd like to visit in the near future.

In the Trenches

After the commitment of OH DT Terry Talbott, the need at this position is likely for one more high-level DT.

FL DT Louis Nix, a longtime commit to the hometown Miami Hurricanes, has opened his recruitment. He will officially visit Notre Dame, and will also consider Michigan along with Florida and Florida State.

There is some confusion over the official visits of PA DT Sharrif Floyd. Michigan fans are up in arms that Bill Kurelic wrote an article with Ann Arbor not among his destinations. I wouldn't worry too much quite yet, though, as he sounds less than definite in those plans (emphasis mine):

"I'm going to take all five official visits," Floyd said on Tuesday evening. "I'll probably visit Penn State, Ohio State, South Carolina and Florida, something like that."

So, less than certain. He's also said in the past that he definitely will not take an official to Penn State, so this can all get quite confusing. For now, I'd say Michigan fans should be in wait-and-see mode with Floyd. Additional fluff on Floyd, noting that he'll play offensive guard this year, along with maybe a bit of linebacker(!).

On the other side of the line of scrimmage, though a top-5 list a couple weeks ago did not include Michigan, FL OL Torrian Wilson has narrowed his list to three, with Miami, Stanford and Michigan remaining. The Wolverines had been his favorite earlier, but Miami has come on strong, and will probably be the team to beat. And let's check out some video from SoFlaFootball, for good measure:

Torrian Wilson from SoFLAfootball.com on Vimeo.

christianpacescrimmage.jpg

Season preview fluff on OH OL Commit Christian Pace:

Christian Pace, a 6-4, 270-pound two-way tackle, was first team All-SWC last year and will attending the University of Michigan on a football scholarship in 2010.

He also plays defensive tackle. For the record, that's by far the tallest I've seen him listed (most reports say 6-2ish, though he's listed at 6-3 on the recruiting sites). Avon Lake also scrimmaged against Midview over the weekend (Friday to be precise), and posted a photo gallery on their website. The only good Pace photo from the gallery can be seen at right.

Wrapping up the OL talk is the official visit docket of one Seantrel Henderson. The top OL in the country will take official visits to Ohio State, Oklahoma, USC. Florida, and Notre Dame. Michigan is absent, as you can see. Not that I think the Wolverines will be added, but I take this list with a grain of salt since it comes from the mouth of his father, not Seantrel himself. It also includes Notre Dame, while Henderson the younger has been adamant for some time that he's not interested in the Irish. Either way, MIchigan is likely no longer a player.

Etc.

Michigan still leads (still!) for PA teammates Brandon Ifill and Cullen Christian, though Ifill says Maryland is even with the Wolverines. Byrnes wideout Nick Jones wants to make an Ann Arbor visit. Michigan seems to be out of it for OH S Kurtis Drummond. MI DE CJ Olaniyan seems to really like... Oklahoma State?

Removed FL LB Christian Jones. Michigan is outside of his top 6 ($).

2011 Notes

FL RB Demetrius Hart confirms that Michigan is his only verbal offer so far, and though he seems to favor Michigan, he no longer plans to make an early decision. He will, however, try to enroll early at the school he ultimately chooses.

To go along with likwid's awesome 2011 in-state watchlist, Ohio State recruiting analyst Duane Long has released his initial Top 20 for Ohio.

FL QB Teddy Bridgewater doesn't really like calling the signals. Does that mean a move back to wideout for college? If so, Michigan interest might not be worthwhile.