On Topic: Help on Building a Pool

On Topic: Help on Building a Pool

Submitted by alum96 on December 10th, 2016 at 11:27 AM

TL:DR

I am but a meager man with some porcelain tile and spackle.

I want to build a pool,...and Mark Dantonio is going to pay for it.   A pool worthy of Kate Upton emerging from it in slow motion.... Phoebe Cates style. (google it millennials)

Said pool WOULD have swim lanes.

That said I see some guy named Brian built a recruiting wiki in my absence circa May 2016 that looks shockingly like a pool with swim lanes.  I don't know who this Brian is (if Brian is even your real name) but I'll take that as a compliment.  That said a pool with swim lanes is not truly a pool with swim lanes until you find some psycho dude to update it every 4.5 hrs in February.  I will go look for such a guy.

SHORTER

(Obligatory - put this crap in diaries idiot!)

I've tried to catch up on ALL OF THE recruiting in a span of 48 hrs, with liberal borrowing (read: stealing) of content off the front page the past week by Ace (written under the pseudo name "Brian").  And utilizing 24/7's "warm indicator".   Below is what I think is somewhat accurate. Let me know in comments if I am missing anyone or anyone else needs to be summarily removed (Holmes? Ford?), and with that data a swimming pool may be built.  It's a nice summary of everything in 1 spot even if you hate pools with swim lanes.

[Sorry that the ad on the far right margin overruns part of the table ]

p.s. before you get your panties in a bunch about the use of the word Swensoning just chill kid.  Yes I'm looking at you Mabel....

p.s.s.  I've been out a while... has Jordan Elliott flipped back to us yet?


OFFENSE

Pos Name State Starz Ntl Rnk Pos Rnk Leader # Pred
RB Najee Harris (Soon) CA All 1 1 Bama commit NA
               
FB Nah            
               
WR DPJ (Next 3 wks) MI 5 11 1 UM 88% / 3 at 4% 26
WR Nico Collins AL 4 99 13 UM 64% / Bama 28% 25
WR Tarik Black (12/16) CT 4 122 17 UM 100% (? but Auburn?) 17
               
TE Strangely Sparse            
               
OT Isaiah Wilson (12/25) NY 5 32 7 UM 70% / Bama 26% 23
OT Chuck Filiaga (1/7) TX 4 98 14 UM 54% / USC 31% 13
OT Mekhi Becton VA 3 385 41 VA 100%  3
               
OG Tedarrell Slaton FL 4 65 3 UM & FSU 38% 8
               
C All Hail Cesar (12/18) FL 4 57 1 UM 100% 31


 

DEFENSE

Pos Name State Starz Ntl Rnk Pos Rnk Leader # Pred
DE Deron Irving-Bey (1/7) MI 4 302 11 MSU 62% / UM 25% 8
               
DT Aubrey Solomon GA 5 31 2 GA 83% 23
DT Jay Tufele UT 4 56 4 OSU 25% / Oregon & UM 25% 4
               
ILB Drew Singleton NJ 4 66 3 UM 88% 24
               
OLB Jordan Anthony FL 4 106 6 UM 75% 8
OLB Willie Gay MS 4 119 8 Miss St 73% 15
               
CB Darnay Holmes CA 5 12 2 UCLA 74% 23
CB Elijah Hicks  CA 3 329 36 ND commit NA
               
S Isaiah Pola-Mao AZ 4 108 14 Wash 100% 7
S Paris Ford (m83econ) PA 4 90 12 Pitt commit NA

 

MISC

Slow Play!  i.e. Break in Emergency            
OT Toryque Bateman AL 3 604 66 UM 40% / Louisville 30% 10
OG Joshua Fedd-Jackson NJ 3 976 43 NC 50%/ OSU-UM 25% 4
S Markquese Bell NJ 4 182 7 Rutgers 71% 14
WR Oliver Martin IA 4 231 32 UM 47% / ND 35% 17
               
Leonard  Fournette is getting on a  plane to AA any minute now  
OT Alex Leatherwood FL 5 6 2 Bama commit NA
               
Future  Swensoning (too soon??)            
Pos Name State Starz Ntl Rnk Pos Rnk Other Places  
RB O'Maury Samuels* NM 4 276 20 Big 10 / Pac 12 places  
ATH/RB A.J. Dillon* MA 4 298 19 BC/Wiscy only IF Harris?  
OT Kai-Leon Herbert FL 4 253 29 Florida-y places  
RB Kurt Taylor GA 3 873 55 Official Visit?  
               
*if we Najee              
               
 Out! - Hoke Cooled on Him         Committed to...  
OT Aaron Banks (12/9) CA 4 172 19 Purple Face NA

 

I Found Alum96

I Found Alum96

Submitted by alum96 on December 2nd, 2016 at 2:06 PM

Hi all.

I came to the site today and saw a post about me.  That was cool. 

Feel a little weird writing a post about myself but for those somewhat interested... (this is where you chant "PUT IT IN DIARIES SUCKER!") ;)

First, I am ok and healthy.  Also not dead.  Which was summarized in the preceding sentence. 

Sorry LSA I didn't get your batcall...or email.

Fresh off my last 6 months as as Trump campaign manager... I have no new MgoKids or anything like that - life just got busy.  One of my "hobbies/side jobs" is travel soccer coaching and I had a huge uptick in responsibility/teams this past year vs prior when I had a lot more free time.  Hence had every Saturday to liveblog my life away; this fall I was on the road most of the games except OSU.  Then I have my normal work.  Etc. 

As would be obvious to long time readers I tend to do something 100% or nothing so I suck at moderation at things like MGo-ing.  So when I couldn't throw 100% into content or following all things Michigan I sort of pulled back totally.  I've been to the site about 5-6x since whenever I left (post 'crootin ballz (tm) season).  I could name you about 5 kids in our current 'crootin class (oohs and aahs from the crowd).

Some general thoughts since really you miss those SoooOooO much:

  • We are lucky to have Jim Harbaugh.
  • I hate that Jim Harbaugh channels Lloyd Carr in 4th quarters of close games vs quality teams and does not act like Jim Harbaugh when we play Rutgers or sad sack teams.   That doesn't mean act stupid, but this stupid f**** Carr shell...why.
  • Championship teams win in the 4th quarter.  See MSU 18 play 9 minute or whatever drive vs Iowa in Big 10 championship game.  UM had been poor in the 4th quarter vs Iowas, OSUs (even MSU but that was probably relaxing) and it makes me sad. 
  • For a line sporting many 5th year seniors + Mason Cole we can't run block much at all vs quality defensive lines.  And certainly not at all late vs Wisconsin, Iowa, OSU type teams ....and again it makes me sad.  #BradyHokeOLRecruitingLives And I'm sure makes Harbaugh sad.  I was expecting not greatness but "our guys are 2 years older than yours and Drevno is going to make them manball when push comes to shove" type of OL.  That was not that.   Drevno and Harbaugh are RUN first guys despite all the QB heroics of Jim Harbaugh development.  UM was simply unable to do what Stanford could do in Harbaugh's late era there.  I blame that a lot more than penalties or the referee last week who wears scarlet and grey panties when he goes sees his dominatrix. 
  • Hats off to our RBs but when is Michigan ever going to have even a Saquon Barkley type again?  Forget a Zeke type.  Wisconsin gets them, hell Indiana gets them.  Ours get redshirted or turn their ankle and gain 25 lbs their freshman year.  Yes part of that is OL but the curse of Mike Hart lives on - no truly special talent has emerged since despite all these uber rated guys.  Frustrating as a UM fan.  A special RB this year could have helped a meh in big game OL.  Maybe it was Peppers.
  • Peppers should have had 4-6 plays in the playbook as a RB only.  Not as a PepperQB.  As a running back.
  • Where was anything special in the playbook for Peppers vs OSU?  Everything was sniffed out by opposing teams by game 7-8 that Peppers was doing in the UM offense and we could not come up with anything new aside from "Peppers is going to pass one of these games - just wait!!" - Herbstreit.  You have 3-4 plays for him waiting that you worked on since August for the OSU game. Instead nothing.  Why is Al Borges running the Peppers playbook?
  • Adoree Jackson was a more impactful college football player than Peppers and if he played at UM would be a LEGIT Heisman candidate this year.  This has nothing to do with who will be better in the NFL.  Both excellent players - Jackson hurt by being on left coast and USC not being good early in the year.  If he had a winged helmet he'd finish 2nd overall in the voting IMO.
  • We are OSU's b****.  So sad.  We had a year (a) their QB could not throw the damn ball, (b) our best DL since 97, (c) a team full of seniors/juniors playing a team of sophomores, (d) a kicker who missed 2 gimmees..... and WE STILL CAN'T WIN.  Forget the spot or the missed penalties.  Forget the pick 6.  We should win that game as we were the better team.  We tanked in the 4th.  17-14 lead and you can't do 1 thing right from that point forward. 5 fucking yards  Ghost of Lloyd Carr. 
  • Don't blame Speight.  Yes he gave points but imagine that game without him based on what you saw the prior week, and what you saw from UM's run game late in the year. That was so weird of a game.  He was nearly perfect for both teams - when we was not throwing INTs he was near textbook perfect in our offense until the 4th Q.  But he had little help from the running game.  And when he flailed in the 4th we had nothing due to our OL run blocking and lack of run game. 
  • Speight's floor looks like Navarre type which seems very promising for a guy in his first year.  He is going to need to be huge next year with a lot of young faces on OL and the entire defense.  Did I mention the defense was going to be young in 2017??
  • That said at least it wasn't Hoke game plan first 3 quarters.  I was thinking if this was a Brady Hoke game he would have run it up the gut 40 times because THATS WHAT YOU DO WHEN YOU"RE AT MEECHIGAN. (sorry Brady)  Harbaugh went with the only thing working - Speight - to great effect.  Once that went away we had nothing on offense.  Damn you I want Stanford 2010 offense (sans Luck) vs good teams.  2009's would work fine too.
  • When was M Football's last massive road win?  Not a bowl - true road win?  Not vs fraud 8-4 ND type teams... vs a real power.  I can't remember.  Sigh.
  • Dantonio finally ran out of souls to sacrifice.  Thank you world.  For fans under the age of 30 this is what it was like growing up for us in the next generation older.  It was cool.
  • If Wisconsin wins big they should be in the playoffs over UM.  2 very tight losses, some big wins.  Road loss vs UM in a very tight game with 2 very good defenses.  I don't think they are necessarily the 4th best team in the country but they earned their spot with a demonstrative win this weekend (14-17+) . If PSU wins big, fuck them - they should drop to 18th. Nice Big 10 crossovers PSU.
  • I have yet to watch a UM basketball game - I know how it ends, we get outrebounded by X, and we play matador defense against quality teams but as long we hit the 3s we look like a mid major on steroids.  If we don't - we get frustrated.  But I heard Kid N Play is playing well and actually blocks shots.  That's new for a UM big man.  John Beilein is still a saintly man from all accounts.
  • U.S. men's soccer is dispiritng (hi Brian).  Poor Pulisic.
  • We are lucky to have Jim Harbaugh.  Just don't be Lloyd Carr in the 4th vs quality teams until you have Stanford's OL.
  • Hold me BrownBear.

Peace out brothers (and the 4 sisters who read the blog).

Projecting the 2016 Class - V2.0

Projecting the 2016 Class - V2.0

Submitted by alum96 on November 25th, 2015 at 1:02 PM

As we get closer to the end of the football season (noooooooo) we enter the heart of recruiting season. So I'll post one of these every so often as enough information changes to make a new post worthwhile. We had a very nice interview with Lorenz 2 days ago that helped clarify a lot of things.

Just for fun I did do one of these mid summer entitled "Way too Early Edition" - I always like to keep track of how foolish I look.... and who we thought the hot names at the time were.

Here is my framework

  • Lorenz indicated Michigan has now signaled they have 27 spots (not 28 as we all assumed)
  • Various peeps with premium access say we will grayshirt here or there, so I made some projections with that in mind
  • We will have attrition from our current 21 recruits, so I took best guesses and knocked out 3. That knocked current class down to 18.
  • I grayshirted 1 player. That knocked down class to 17* (grayshirt is still part of class but doesnt count against scholarship until January).
  • My new commits are based on "most likely" within reason and based on momentum; of course things change weekly in that aspect.

My projections leave the class with 27 immediate scholarship and 2 grayshirts = 29 players which yield a 247 score of 285.25. That would have been 5th overall in 2015.

Image result for commitment

Section 1 deals with current commits - who is staying and who is going. And who is going to open a spot by grayshirting. I listed us with 17 immediate scholarships and 1 grayshirt - with 3 decommits. Will discuss below chart.

  STAYING       GOING  
Pos Name Ntl Rnk   Pos Name Ntl Rnk
OL Ben Bredeson 37   ATH Chris Evans 328
QB Brandon Peters 78   LB David Reese 553
OL Michael Onwenu 90   ATH Kiante Enis 634
WR Ahmir Mitchell 127        
OL Devery Hamilton 234        
OL Erik Swenson 240        
DL Ron Johnson 277        
WR Brad Hawkins 279        
DL Carlo Kemp 307        
ATH Victor Viramontes 428        
CB Sir Patrick Scott 663        
RB Kingston Davis 886        
S Devin Gil 993        
TE Sean McKeon >1000        
CB Antwaine Richardson >1000        
LB Dytarious Johnson >1000        
DT Rashad Weaver >1000        
             
             
Grayshirt            
S Josh Metellus >1000        

 

Comments

  • Guessing on a grayshirt is hard to do. Half a year at UM for an out of state is still $12K or whatnot so I don't know how many kids families - esp in economically challenged spots - can afford this. Maybe they can financial aid. But a full ride elsewhere could always be the easier route. So I didn't want to put 3-4 grayshirts like some assume, so I am simply going with Josh Metellus as a guess.
  • As for the 3 decommits, David Reese seems the most likely for multiple reasons. He wants early entry, all the crystal ballz of late have him to Texas, and we are recruiting a ton of LBs still.
  • Chris Evans I put there because he was visiting Purdue. Now maybe that means nothing and he wants to visit school friends there. But I needed to make spots in this class for new kids and I think the staff really likes Weaver and Johnson so I have only so many kids I can eliminate - he was one.
  • Kiante Enis - the quote in this week's roundup from Ace makes me feel like UM is "pulling a Stanford" on him where begin to lack communication with commits they don't especially want in a class (personally I don't love this methodology but it is what it is). I don't buy the reasoning some has offered that everyone is too busy and not one staff member can find 10 minutes in his day once a week to give a shout out to Kiante. If you want a guy you recruit him non stop even post committment which in this day and age means little. So hearing he has talked once to UM in a month has me thinking he will be replaced.
  • Antwaine Richardon impressed coaches in a camp setting on a bum knee so I have him staying in the class; however maybe someone like he or Sir Patrick Scott could be bumped out of class if David Long, Lavert Hill and Chris Brown all want in. But I have them both in the class at this point.

 

Image result for projecting the future

Section 2 is who we will land and who we will miss on. This is based on trying to reverse engineer - obviously these things can change on a dime. I cheated here a bit by saying Quinn Nordin will be part of the class and decommit from PSU and go to UM despite having to pay out of pocket for a semester. That's a bit of a stretch but he is a Michigan kid and hey Harbaugh or Franklin for 4-5 years? So I have 11 commits which takes us to 29 total... 2 grayshirts.

Pos Name Ntl Rnk Projected   Pos Name Ntl Rnk Projected
DL Rashan Gary 1 UM   TE Isaac Nauta 9 GA
RB Kareem Walker 34 UM   ATH Mecole Hardman Jr 21 GA
OL Terrance Davis* 62 UM   LB Caleb Kelly 23 OK
DL Jordan Elliott 98 UM   CB David Long 66 Stanford
CB Lavert Hill (PSU) 136 UM   LB Jeffrey McCulloch 73 Texas?
DL Keyshon Camp (USC) 188 UM   DT Boss Tagaloa 82 UCLA
LB Devin Bush Jr 230 UM   OL Jean Delance 92 Texas?
WR π Young** 388 UM   WR Dylan Crawford 94 Oregon
LB Jonathan Jones**** 415 UM   WR Donnie Corley 118 MSU
DB Chris Brown***** 710 UM   LB Dontavious Jackson 119 Texas?
PK Quinn Nordin*** (PSU) >1000 UM   ATH Jordan Fuller 124 OSU
          DL Chris Daniels 161 OK
          DL Connor Murphy 198 USC
* Delance gets this spot if he wants it       DL Levi Onwuzurike 273 ?
** Crawford gets this spot if he wants it       TE Jacob Mathis 313 UF
*** Cramming Nordin into class via grayshirt       WR Eddie McDoom 390 UK
**** McCulloch, Kelly, Jackson get this spot if any want it       WR Velus Jones (USC) 420 ?
*****
 
Long gets this spot if he wants it       LB Khaleke Hudson 593 WV
          DL Terrel Lucas >1000 Duke
                 
        .        

 

Image result for yes

Comments on Projected "YES"

  • DL guys: Gary, Elliott, Camp are UM's 3 targets per Lorenz. We all know the Gary story - UM vs various and sundry SEC folk. UM seems to be the leader. Elliott got 2 major crystal ballz yesterday in Lorenz and Ace; concurrent with DL target Chris Daniels to Oklahoma. He will be here this weekend - momentum seems to be building. Last, Camp is coming to UM on an unofficial - that takes money and shows seriousness; he'd be a USC flip. He has a HS friend on the team as well in Jones.
  • Walker - could be a silent committment at this point; 17 of past 18 crystal ballz to UM; he even wore a UM towel which is a clear signal this is 102% guaranteed. UM is not seriously recruiting another running back either.
  • UM wants Delance as they want to add an OT. Davis is a guard. Lorenz indicated if UM gives green light to Davis he will accept and come to Michigan. So this is a waiting game on Delance. So that spot could be either OL guy - I went with the sure thing but its a coin flip at this time.
  • Hill is a long rumored PSU flip - his brother plays on the team and he has been to UM 5x this year and apparently 0 to PSU. Maybe - just maybe - UM is slow playing him as they think they can get another corner ala David Long? I don't know - I also wouldnt risk that as some think he will flip to MSU with HS friend Corley if not to UM.
  • LBs - hard to predict with a lot of moving spots and I assume 2 open spots. I gave them to Bush Jr who is probably 50/50 with UM v FSU and Jonathan Jones who like Davis has been a "UM lean" for half our adult lives. I suspect Jones is possibly being slow played while UM sees if it can land a Dontavious Jackson type. I imagine we'll get 2 LBs - but which 2 (Kelly, Jackson, Bush, Jones) is an unknown. We'll probably know a lot more about Jackson's prospects after this weekend, Bush will be at UM Dec 11th. If Jones suddenly commits to Notre Dame that may actually be a good thing for UM as it might mean he has received word we don't have room for him as someone else "silently" took his spot.
  • UM wants Dylan Crawford but Crawford has said Oregon is his dream school and they recently offered. So it's a battle for his services - if he says yes, we get him and we are done. If he says no guys like McDoom, Young, Jones are next in line - I went with the sure thing in Young as he seems like he would say yes tomorrow if given the green light.
  • I projected a 2nd corner - while I would love for that to be David Long who is a Stanford commit who really liked his UM visit, I went with Chris Brown (NTCB) who is a Texas v UM battle. If Long says yes that obviously takes Brown's spot unless Lavert Hill is rated lower on UM's internal board I guess. Or 1 of our current commmitted corners is bumped out of the class.
  • I slipped in Nordin as a grayshirt as noted above - it's a reach to assume that.

 

Image result for jessica alba sexy heels

[this photo has nothing to do with the piece but it needed more photos so this one works for me]

Comments on Projected "Misses" not mentioned above

  • Hardman Jr has pushed back his committment to NSD. That only helps UM. But right now I assume Georgia until we see a flurry of crystal ballz change. Hopefully he is a signing day shocker.
  • Nauta - see Hardman. He apparently loved his UM visit and this offense is built for TEs but until we see some tangible movement I assume Georgia.
  • Caleb Kelly it's been pretty quiet here - some people think its 50/50 UM v OK but not a single crystal ball has turned UM's way. If that changes at some point he would seem more viable but hard to project him for UM right now.
  • David Long seems like a 50/50 with Stanford v UM. Of everyone in this group of "misses" he probably (?) is the most likely to be in the UM class
  • Guys like McCullouch, Tagaloa, Fuller are sort of just guys out there UM likes but until there is more significant movement on their part hard to put them in the class.
  • I think Donnie Corley has been a silent MSU commit for a long time - so "he gone" Dec 8th.
  • Connor Murphy is interesting from the family connection to Harbaugh - I think he has an official scheduled in December (?) [could be wrong] but hard to find a spot for him if we take 3 DTs (Gary a DT/DE hybrid]
  • Onwuzurike is a guy no one seems to know anything about - he must be very quiet. But same issues as Murphy in terms of room in class.
  • One problem with my class projection is it only has 1 TE - and a lower rated if athletic one at that. With the season Florida is having I see it as difficult to go to Jacob Mathis at last minute if Nauta falls through and say come to Michigan, you were always #2 in our hearts but we want you now ... but crazier things have happened. I want to put 2 TEs in this class somehow but it might be just 1?

 

Are Big 10 Defensive Stats Inflated by Bad Offenses? A P5 Conference Comparison

Are Big 10 Defensive Stats Inflated by Bad Offenses? A P5 Conference Comparison

Submitted by alum96 on May 30th, 2015 at 11:12 AM

There is an interesting dichotomy of the views of Michigan's defense of 2014 - some view it as a "top 10 defense" because the NCAA stats say so.  Others (hand raised) use more of an eye test and advanced stats, specifically FEI and S&P+ via Football Outsiders, which have various measures to adjust for SOS, garbage time points, etc.   (more info on how those stats are derived can be found on that site - I wont rehash)

Let's take a closer look at the NCAA stat for total defense which sports journalists of both the print and video variety tend to parrot.  What does it really track?  Only 1 thing:  total yards given up per game.  It is very simplistic and in my estimation misleading.  My thesis has been this gives an overinflated value to all Big 10 defenses because Big 10 offenses have really stunk it up of late, especially the past half decade.   So this piece will try to fact check my opinion.

There have been very few premium QBs the past 6-7 years in the Big 10 until last year... the last golden batch was 2007-2008 when you had Henne, Smith, Stanton.  Before that you had to go to 2004 to Navarre, Sorgi, Krenzel, Smoker.  1 year of Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins really are all you have had up to about 2013 and after 2008.  It's been 18 years since the Big 10 had a QB drafted in the 1st round although there is finally the potential for 3 at once in 2016 with Cook, Hackenberg, and Jones.  But even Hackenberg was a disaster last year.  So you get the general point - when you look at passing stats of Big 10 offenses vs those of the Pac 12, SEC, Big 12 - it has lacked severely for most teams... Wisconsin was throwing out a converted safety last year as a QB and they were the 3rd best team in the conf.  Gary Nova - in the conference for all of 1 year, was the 3rd best QB (If you group all the OSU QBs as one since only one plays at a time) in the conf last year.   Kevin Hogan in the Pac 12 ?  A lower third QB ... in the Big 10?  Awesome throw god....

 

I don't recall what week it was (maybe week 8 or 9) 8 of the top 25 defenses in the country per the NCAA stat were in the Big 10.  Even in the year end results the Big 10 had 4 of the country's top 10 defenses (PSU, Wisconsin, UM, MSU)... and 6 of the top 22 (OSU, Iowa)  Wow what a performance! Elite defenses all over this conference!! 

Or is this really a confluence of mediocre to poor offenses with some former powers looking awful (PSU, UM) and other recently high octane offenses (Indiana) hampered by a true freshman QB, while others were run by a former safety for much of the year.   Advanced stats say the latter - in fact only 2 offenses made the top 30 in the country via FEI; OSU and MSU.  Some Big 10 teams in the West avoided both those offenses, and others only played 1.  So you could in theory go through your conf slate playing 0 or 1 of the top 30 offenses in the country.  Wisconsin's 1 dimensional offense was 33, and then you have to drop to 50 to find another Big 10 team.  It's was an awful year save for a few teams on that side of the ball.  And advanced stats say only Wisconsin and PSU had anywhere near elite defenses - and you saw what OSU did to Wisconsin.

So with run heavy schemes without Jeff George, Chuck Long, Drew Brees (hell Kyle Orton) types populating mid level teams in the league (and of course those schools wont have that type of QB every year), Big 10 defenses have feasted.  Or at least that is my opinion so I thought I'd use advanced stats to compare the major conferences.

Below is a comparison chart of 7 teams comparing FEI offensive stats of their conference only schedule in 2014.  The lower the average rank, the better the average offense faced.  I've created a pool of 2 Big 10 teams (one from the East, one from the West), 2 SEC teams (one from the much tougher West, one from the East), and then 1 team from the other 3 power 5 conferences.  I chose mid level type teams (excl Michigan which had 5 wins) of 7-9 wins on average to try to compare similar teams from each conference in 2014.  Not the top teams, not the bottom teams....

This led me to: Nebraska, LSU, Tennessee, Louisville, West Virginia, Utah -along with control group Michigan.

My theories going into this were:

  1. The Pac 12 features the most NFL arms and prolific offenses so their defenses would be most stressed and thus a high defense ranking in that conf actually means something.
  2. The Big 10 and ACC would both suffer from a lot of mediocre offenses and thus their defenses (per NCAA stats) would be overinflated.
  3. The Big 12 rank in terms of opponent offensive rank would be closer to the Pac 12 although the struggles of Texas would hurt.
  4. The SEC West would rank very well, somewhere near the Big 12 while the SEC East would be hurt by the brutal (Michigan/PSU like) Florida offense

These are obviously 1 year data points specific to any 1 team (or 2 teams) in a conference (picking another team would give some variability) but I do think by and large they would hold up over the past half decade to give us a general trend (Obviously the Big 12 has changed body count over that time frame as has the Big 10 and SEC).

The Rankings Unadjusted

Let's see what the data told us (the # to the right of each team is their offensive FEI rank - lower = stronger)  UM was 82 for comparison.

UM   Neb   LSU   TN  
Minn 50 Ill 67 Miss State 20 Georgia 9
Rutgers 66 MSU 14 Auburn 2 UF 97
PSU 101 NW 81 UF 97 Ole Miss 46
MSU 14 Rutgers 66 UK 75 Bama 5
Indiana 92 Purdue 89 Ole Miss 46 SC 4
NW 81 Wisc 33 Bama 5 UK 75
MD 52 Minn 50 Ark 28 Missouri 48
OSU 7 Iowa 53 A&M 24 Vandy 121
               
               
  463   453   297   405
Ave Rank 57.9   56.6   37.1   50.6

 

Louisville   West Virginia   Utah  
Virginia 68 OK 18 WSU 35
Wake Forest 115 Kansas 118 UCLA 6
Syracuse 113 Texas Tech 34 OSU 47
Clemson 61 Baylor 11 USC 26
NC State 38 OK St 70 ASU 16
FSU 8 TCU 22 Oregon 3
BC 17 Texas 108 Stanford 44
ND 21 KSU 15 Arizona 23
    ISU 55 Colo 56
           
  441   451   256
Ave Rank 49.0   50.1   32.0

 

What does this data set say?

  • As predicted in theory 1, Utah had the most onerous schedule.  Pac 12 offenses are very good - they only faced ONE offense with a rank outside the FEI top 48.  Again there are only 3 teams in the entire Big 10 with a ranking inside the top 48. Week in and week out - its brutal and the 32.0 ranking clears the field.  (of course a cynic could say Pac 12 defenses are bad and Pac 12 offenses feast on bad defenses but I'd say the eye test disagrees - the Pac 12 offenses put a ton of pressure on you with a lot of pass oriented spread teams).
  • As predicted in theory 2, Big 10 defenses had a huge advantage as the 57.9 opponent rank for UM and 56.6 for Nebraska were far and away the worst readings out of all 7 teams.   And for all the talk of the how weak the Big 10 West is, the Big 10 East had even worse offensive outputs via FEI.  But its very close - any defense in the conference had a much easier time than in any other conference.
  • I was wrong in theory 2 about the ACC, I thought their offenses were as bad as the Big 10s.  In fact they were right on par (with Louisville's 49.0) to the SEC East, and the Big 12.
  • I was wrong about theory 3, than the Big 12 would be closer to the Pac 12 then not.  The offenses in that conf were not dissimilar to the ACC, and SEC East.  But part of that is due to both Oklahoma State and Texas having really bad offenses so it's a bit of an outlier this year.  More on that later.
  • I was correct on theory 4, the SEC West had the 2nd best offensive output - thus difficult on their defenses, and the SEC East was pushed down to average due to Florida.  In fact every SEC West opponent for LSU was in the top 50 - even better than Utah's opponents.  Surprising as we assumed this was a down year for SEC offense with a down year for SEC QB play.

The Rankings Adjusted

Now I decided to take this one step further and create an adjusted set of data.  What does the adjusted data do?  It simply takes a handful of teams above and puts them nearer to a historical reading - those teams would be UM, PSU, Clemson, Florida, Texas and Oklahoma State.  I also threw in Indiana to try to make Michigan look better :P and also to account for their offenses of late which under Wilson are usually decent...when not run by a true freshman model.  So I re-ran the numbers giving those schools a 35 FEI offensive rank.  That is not world beater but it is solid (Wisconsin like).  Let's see how the data changed.
 

UM   Neb   LSU   TN  
Minn 50 Ill 67 Miss State 20 Georgia 9
Rutgers 66 MSU 14 Auburn 2 UF 35
PSU 35 NW 81 UF 35 Ole Miss 46
MSU 14 Rutgers 66 UK 75 Bama 5
Indiana 35 Purdue 89 Ole Miss 46 SC 4
NW 81 Wisc 33 Bama 5 UK 75
MD 52 Minn 50 Ark 28 Missouri 48
OSU 7 Iowa 53 A&M 24 Vandy 121
               
               
  340   453   235   343
Ave Rank 42.5   56.6   29.4   42.9

 

Louisville   West Virginia   Utah  
Virginia 68 OK 18 WSU 35
Wake Forest 115 Kansas 118 UCLA 6
Syracuse 113 Texas Tech 34 OSU 47
Clemson 35 Baylor 11 USC 26
NC State 38 OK St 35 ASU 16
FSU 8 TCU 22 Oregon 3
BC 17 Texas 35 Stanford 44
ND 21 KSU 15 Arizona 23
    ISU 55 Colo 56
           
  415   343   256
Ave Rank 46.1   38.1   32.0

 

What did the rerank do?  It benefited the Big 10 East (UM) and Big 12 team (WV) the most as it rocketed up PSU - Indiana - OK State - Texas.   2 teams for each schedule - and in a 8 game schedule that is (math alert!) 25% of the schedule adjusted.   Louisville benefited from Clemson, and both SEC teams from Florida.   There was no benefit to Utah.

Results?   The SEC West moved ahead of the Pac 12.  A bit surprising because it felt like a down year for SEC West offenses.  But these are clearly the 2 most competent conference / divisions from an offensive standpoint.   Coming in 3rd was the Big 12 - which more fits my theory #3 above.  So I believe my theory that the Big 12 is a good offensive league is true in general but didnt hold so much in 2014 as Texas and Oklahoma State had abnormal readings.

The Big 10 East and SEC East would be more on par with each other if PSU/Indiana (and Michigan) and Florida were more normal rather than abysmal.   Then just behind them would come the ACC if Clemson had been a more typical offensive power as they usually have been under Chad Morris.  Then way way way at the bottom is the Big West - which would support the case the Big 10 West sucks if UM and PSU can ever find their way.  But for the purpose of this exercise - even adjusting to "normal times" for PSU and UM, and a Kevin Wilson Indiana the typical Big 10 defense is going to have the easiest time out there- and hence their stats are going to be inflated via NCAA.com's stats.  Throw in their normal foray into the offensive juggernauts of the MAC in their non conf schedules and it gets even more slanted for Big 10 defenses.  As expected the ACC would not be too far behind the Big 10 in a "normalized" environment. 

The other 3 conferences are on a different plane, esp the SEC West and Pac 12 in terms of offenses and their defenses suffer.  Or put another way - if your defense is performing in those conferences / divisions they have really earned it. 

Or if you are a Big 10 apologist you can just yell they dont play no stinking defense in the SEC or Pac 12....  Or you could also blame cold weather for bad offenses and bad passing attacks but teams in Boston, Columbus, East Lansing, West Lafayette (in the Tiller years), Ann Arbor (in the Carr years), South Bend, et al seem to be able to run nice offenses even in northern climates so I dont buy the excuse.  Lack of good QBs is more the issue.

Before looking at this I felt UM disappointed on defense last year relative to expectations - despite their "top 10!!!" ranking.  Now - adjusting for what appears to be the easiest set of offenses faced in 2014 in any conference / division it makes it even more disappointing considering a relative good amount of talent and experience on that defense.  Most advanced stats only had the defense around #40ish in the country despite an array of mediocre offenses faced.  Going forward, it is worth keeping this sort of data in mind when comparing conference defensive achievement - the Big 10 (and ACC) defenses seem to have a quite clear advantage.

OT - Previewing 2015 Michigan State Football

OT - Previewing 2015 Michigan State Football

Submitted by alum96 on March 25th, 2015 at 9:22 PM

With Michigan State's 2015 spring depth chart up, thought it would be useful to do an early preview of our 8th most important rival.  Living in state I see a lot more info about MSU than OSU so it's easier for me to follow.   Also doing the research and writeups such as this helps me get a better understanding of the players and strengths/weaknesses so hopefully it is of use to you as well.

Outside of the MSU player legal issues, I will try to write this without much snark although difficult to do.  Also let me say that despite being annoying in taking offense to something as small as the wind blowing in from Ann Arbor towards EL, one has to respect the job Mark Dantonio has done in not only building a football program essentially from the ground up post Bobby Williams/John L Smith in an Alvarez way, but changing the mentality and culture from within. Those of us over the age of 30 grew up in an era of LOL Sparty No football, and unfortunately that is now gone.  At some point it will return but from this set of eyes not until Dantonio retires and MSU jumps on the always scary coaching carousel.

 

Overall Look 2015

Like all teams (well maybe aside from OSU and TCU) MSU has some holes to fill in 2015 but in general returns the normal loaded with upperclassmen team, which now has a winning culture, and top notch coaching.  The loss of Narduzzi as DC is an obvious question mark but both coaches replacing him in the DC role have been with Dantonio for a decade plus.  There will be no surprises here.

On offense, MSU was bolstered by the return of RS SR Connor Cook who stayed in school rather than applying for the NFL draft where most had him mocked 1st-2nd round in  a draft lacking pro style QBs.   The team returns a veteran and talented OL.  High profile losses were at the skill positions, namely WR and RB - specifically Langford and Lippett.  However the teams strengths (QB/OL) tend to mitigate those losses - a great OL can bolster decent running backs, and an NFL quality QB can bolster decent WRs.  At support skill positions the starting TE looks to be excellent and a fifth year senior returns at fullback.   There are some legal troubles facing the offense as presumed starting RB Delton Williams has a gun charge and starter MacGarrett Kings has a second alcohol offense in under a year.  The former situation seems more serious as it was a gun charge on a campus that does not allow them so I assume the penalty goes right to the top of campus and not solely in Dantonio's (more lenient) hands.  This might be a situation that goes right to the top of the MSU food chain as a campus incident rather than a football player incident; we'll see.  I fully expect Kings back - he has not been suspended despite a 2nd alcohol offense in a short period and while he may be suspended in the future for a bit, outside of running a lot of stadium stairs I don't expect much more.   "He is a playmaker" after all.

On defense, MSU returns quite possibly the best front 7 in the conference.  It is loaded with veterans and like on offense the surprise return of 5th year SR Shilique Calhoun bolstered the ranks. Unlike Cook who shot up draft boards, Calhoun was top 15ish overall preseason 2014 in mock drafts but fell as the season went by.  Rather than risk being a 2nd rounder he decided to come back.   While DE Marcus Rush is a loss there are a lot of talented players on MSU's D line, and a very experienced group of LBs who mostly dominate against Big 10 offenses (not named OSU).  The back 4 are a question mark, similar to 2014 - but with even more questions.  In 2013, MSU had the rare pleasure of two NFL 1st round cornerbacks patrolling the back end - along with a future NFL safety in Kurtis Drummond.  This led to one of the best defenses in the Midwest in the past 20 years.   Last year saw the departure of Dennard, and this year brings the departure of Waynes and Drummond.   While there is some talent back there - and Dantonio is an ace DB developer, it's the one area of the team outside of RB with a lot of open questions.

Special teams takes a hit too with the loss of Sadler at punter.  Geiger their FG kicker struggled his SO year after a great FR year - he is currently in rehab after offseason surgery so the kicking game has some questions to answer.   The return game has probably been the one area MSU has really lagged the past few years in relation to other teams finishing in the top 10.  Kings is integral there.

Overall MSU  probably takes a step back on the offensive skill positions (WR/RB) - offset by a senior 3 year starting future NFL QB.... and the secondary will be exploited by top end QBs.  But being in the Big 10 they face very few top end QBs (or even middle end) and Oregon will either be starting a newbie or rolling out a FCS transfer (a talented one but still).  Outside of OSU and PSU not many teams in the Big 10 have a passing threat to unlock MSU's press.   Remember this was the conf where Gary Nova was the 3rd best QB last year.   If you believe games are won in the trenches, you will have to stretch to bet against another season of big success for MSU - they could have the best combination of lines in the conf up with OSU.

 

2015 Schedule

Despite road games at OSU, Nebraska, and UM and a home game v Oregon this is actually quite a favorable schedule, although nowhere near as easy as 2014.  (No that wasn't snark).  Outside of a road game to Oregon last year there was not much in types of serious challenges on the road for MSU in 2014, outside of a bit of a tricky game in Happy Valley.  For a veteran, well coached team it was a very good setup.... OSU, Neb, and UM were at home.

In an interesting quirk of scheduling, Sparty will only leave the state of Michigan once (to NJ) until November.  That's got to be something unique in all of college football.  They only leave the state 3 times the entire year. 

In the non conf, MSU opens with a much improved Western Michigan but again this is Western Michigan.  While it could be a tricky game, MSU is bringing in potentially 3 first round draft choices and a BCS level team and WMU is.... well WMU.  Good luck P.J. Fleck.  While Oregon is tough they do lose a Heisman winner at the helm and are starting from scratch at the most important position.  With what looks on paper to be an excellent front 7 for MSU, Oregon's OL will be a key in that game.   After that tilt the schedule lightens up considerably.   Service academy teams' offenses are usually difficult to prepare for but again, MSU brings a veteran, disciplined, and talented front 7 on D into 2015 - along with a potentially potent offense so this does not look as tricky as it would for "ho hum Power 5 conference team hosting service academy."   CMU is CMU - this would be a different story in 2005.  But it's 2015.

While MSU has to go on the road in 2015 to Nebraska and Ann Arbor both programs are in a state of transition.   We know the story at Michigan - right now the 2 programs have role reversed.  For decades upstart and mediocre MSU would wait for the years they hosted the game (since they often really sucked when they visited Ann Arbor) and try to spring a trap on a much more talented squad from UM.  Most of the times their mental errors did them in, along with lack of players to compete but 2-3 times a decade it worked.   Right now UM is sort of in those shoes - frankly UM has not been competitive with MSU the past 2 years and looking at the rosters the prior 2 campaigns MSU had the more talented team.  And still probably does.  But "rivalry" and "home game" sprinkled in with some Harbaugh and at minimum MSU should have a much more physical opponent who wont make countless mental errors.  I'd expect that MSU will have to at least sweat in 2015 as opposed to the last 2 years.

Meanwhile over in Nebraska, the "Cat man" - for all his ills - did seem to have an offense that gave MSU's defense trouble; at least when a competent QB was running it.  But he is gone, replaced by the genial Mr. Riley and also gone are NFL draft picks Gregory and Abdullah.  Nebraska was not great last year - they almost lost to a FCS team until Abdullah saved them in the closing seconds, and then proceeded to get undressed nationally in Madison.  And it is difficult to think they will be any better in 2015, so it's not as tough as it looks on paper.

Outside of those games, MSU plays the same division opponents UM does + a crossover with Purdue.  Outside of PSU I dont see any of these teams even giving MSU much of a game unless MSU has a weird 4-5 turnover game (which is not what MSU does...more on that later).  And PSU only if its OL stops its 2013 UM OL impression.  You need a competent QB to beat MSU's defense - one who can routinely make intermediate passes to widen out their D and disallow their safeties from cheating on the run all day.   If Hackenberg recovers from his PTSD he could do that - but he needs help from the OL.   He did seem to play very well in PSU's bowl so we'll see - PSU has a great D coordinator but I believe took some hits to the NFL on D (Hull?) but recruits enough talent that if Hack gets time and their D steps up they can at least present a challenge. 

As for the rest of the conference slate, Maryland was destroyed by MSU (and OSU and Wisconsin i.e. any real team) last year and lost its QB and best WR - I expect them to revert to mean.  Rutgers lost SuperNova - and even with him lost by 40+ to MSU last year.  Indiana will do their normal act - exploit MSU's gambling defense twice in a game for 14 quick pts - then proceed to give up 50+ in the other 57 minutes of the game.   Heck Purdue might be the next toughest challenge out of these pretenders - their QB (Appleby) actually was able to complete a lot of intermediate passes vs MSU last year and Purdue put up more pts in that game than UM has in the past 3 years combined.  But its still Purdue.

Long story short, if MSU gets by Oregon and UM there stands an unfortunate chance that the late Nov tilt between OSU and MSU (Nov 21) is between two teams with 0 to 1 loss each.  MSU could/should be favored in every game this year outside of vs OSU by Vegas.

Offense

MSU's offense went through a metamorphis in 2014.  While still run based at its core, Cook led the passing game to a more dynamic explosive threat.  Scoring offense went from 29.4 ppg (64th in the nation) in 2013 to 43.0 ppg (7th in the nation).  That's a hell of an improvement in 1 year.  Their pass offense was best in the conference, and rush offense was fifth.  

MSU led the nation in Time of Possesion (TOP) at 35:21.  For comparison run based offenses Wisconsin and Minnesota were at 33:38 and 31:21 respectively.  Some pooh pooh TOP in the modern game because they watch offenses such as Baylor and Oregon score in 90 seconds.  That's fun and dandy but keeps your defense on the field a lot.  And keeps it hard to maintain a lead even when you score in the 40s - ask Baylor (vs MSU) and TCU (v Baylor).  Is it the most important stat in football?  No.  But combined with a low turnover team it makes it nearly impossible for average to poor teams to beat you - they don't have the ball much and they can't take advantage of short fields.  And one thing you notice about MSU of late is they don't drop games to teams they should beat - their only losses the past few years have been OSU, Oregon, and Notre Dame (helped by some strange PI calls and Cook had yet to blossom).  [Yes in 2012 they lost games to teams they should not have but that's an outlier season with a poor QB and awful OL]

Speaking of turnover margin - MSU was 4th in the nation at +19.  And the clear winner in the conference by a huge margin - next best was +10 for Minnesota and +7 by OSU.  All teams you look on paper and say "they don't beat themselves" (except that loss to VTech early for OSU ....when they had turnovers).   Sometimes teams have more talent than you but if you protect the ball and create turnover you generally do well.  So unlike TOP I find turnover margin to be extremely important.  MSU only fumbled 6 times all year despite having the ball 35 minutes a game and running a ton.  Cook only threw 9 INTs all year despite not having a great completion % - so he usually either misses everything or makes a completion.  But this is a program focus - one that every coach preaches but very few accomplish.  This is Tressel ball and Dantonio is doing it.

Let's look at it position by position to see if MSU can keep "doing it".

 

QB

RS SR Connor Cook returns - a massive boost for MSU.  Breaking in a new QB is rarely easy and having a 3 year starter is a rare luxury.  Cook has prototypical NFL size, decent mobility, moxie, a very short memory, and is a gamer.  He doesnt always look pretty but he gets the job done.  His accuracy rate lacks but as noted above - when he misses, he seems to miss everything.  I probably have never seen a QB have so many of his passes dropped by DBs in 2 years - so I guess luck helps a bit too.  Cook's one issue is his feet - he actually (to me) throws better on the run when his footwork seems to be more consistent.  In the pocket he does a lot of Matt Stafford stuff and throws off the back foot leading to passes off the mark.  While he lacks pin point accuracy he has a gun for an arm and makes plays on key 3rd downs a lot of the time.  He also has the benefit of great pass protect which we'll talk about later.  Behind Cook is the much heralded RS SO Damion Terry (who insiders compare to a Russell Wilson style) and RS JR Tyler O'Connor who are competing for #2  But both rarely see the field except in blowouts as another of Cook's attributes - durability shows through.  I don't think Cook has misssed more than a few snaps in 2 years since winning the job full time early in 2013.

 

RB / FB

The underappreciated Jeremy Langford departs as does his primary backup Nick Hill.  The 3rd back, 6'1 232 JR Delton Williams (who always impressed me when he ran) looked like the heir apparent to at least start at the beginning of 2015 but his gun charges might be an issue.  Or might not.  Behind him are a lot of similar sized backs as Dantonio has recruited a lot of Le'veon Bell types - 6'+ 220 lb+... even as underclassmen.   RS FR Madre London and SO Gerald Holmes are listed as the co-starters on the depth chart which is of course now an open competition. Both bring similar size - beat writers seem to indicate Madre London especially has a lot of potential.  In the fall, MSU's prize offensive recruit comes in the form of #6 rated composite RB Larry Scott out of Ohio.   This was a guy Urban was recruiting til the last minute but Scott stayed loyal to MSU.  While Dantonio doesnt play a lot of true freshman, usually 2-3 make the grade and Scott surely will be one of them to play in 2015.   Expect a 3 headed competition, most likely between Scott, London, and Williams if/when he returns. 

Whichever RB wins the job, 5th year SR 6'0 250 lb Trevor Pendleton will be paving the way ahead of him.   While he is more of a blocker he occassionally is an outlet for Cook (as UM fans will remember) and can bust out a big play.  Behind Pendleton is a guy I have never heard of - JR David Fennell.  What is notable about him is he is 300 lbs.  So it would appear they converted a lineman like we did with Brady Pallante. 

 

WR / TE

MSU takes a significant loss with Tony Lippett and his 65 receptions and 1200 yards.  Lippett was a decent player earlier in his career but much like Gallon took a huge leap late in his career.  The other loss was Keith Mumphrey was who more workmanlike with 26 catches.   However, 3 of MSU's top 5 WRs return with SR Aaron Burbridge,  SR MacGarrett Kings, and JR RJ Shelton. It is interesting to note that none of these 3 are redshirts - a rarity in any position group on the MSU roster.   Unlike Delton Williams, Kings seems like a sure thing to be playing this fall - mostly due to an excellent lawyer who (unlike Glasgow) was able to get Kings probabation period reduced.  Hence when Kings decided it was a good idea to resist arrest and kick a police vehicle he was off of probabation (for his "super drunk" charge) for 2 months.  If his lawyer had not successful halved his probabtion period we'd be talking about a much serious loss for MSU football - instead after a lot of running stadium steps and perhaps a short suspension during some period of the offseason expect Kings to be running around the field for MSU.  After all "he is a playmaker".

Kings is far and away the best yards after catch man for MSU.  Burbridge is a solid player if not quite living up to his HS billing as the top player in Michigan.  Shelton is a slot guy who runs a lot of MSU's jet sweeps - which they run a ton of.  That's a pretty good trio.  After that the depth chart runs 6'4 JR Monty Madaris, 6'2 SR AJ Troup, and 5'11 RS SR Deanthony Arnett.  While the first two have not done much in MSU uniform, you may remember Arnett for being a guy from Michigan who committed to TN then decided to come back home to be closer to his ill father.  In his 2 years since he has barely seen the football field, in fact redshirting one year.  Of these 3 the most buzz seems to be about Madaris.  But we're talking the 4th or 5th WR at that point.  So while the playmaking skills of Lippett will be gone, having a RS SR 3 yr starter at QB helps to offset this.

So does having an excellent TE which the Spartans do seem to have in JR Josiah Price.  At 6'4, 250 he is very much a Jake Butt clone and has excellent hands.  I am not sure about his blocking prowess but he wrested away the starting job last year and pulled down 26 catches (Butt had 21 - albeit without the same level of QB play).   Price averaged 14+ yards per catch compared to Butt's 10 so is a big play man and I'd expect his role to grow even more as a JR as Cook's safety valve.  Behind Price is 6'3 260 JR Jamal Lyles who is more of a blocking TE.

 

OL

Good teams generally have good line play.  Lost in the narrative of MSU's defense the past few years is the 1 area I think MSU has really changed dramatically the past 2 years - offensive line play.  In the first half decade of Dantonio's tenure OL play was generally mediocre, with Dantonio constantly bringing in JUCOs to offset lack of internal development.  The 2012 season was quite bad with injuries ravaging the line and Bell doing yeoman's work behind a patchwork line.  But 2013 and 2014 saw a sharp upgrade.  This allowed the QB battle to develop in early 2013 (which Cook eventually took), and a solid run game to happen in both years.  As for Cook - many games you don't see a grass stain on his jersey.  He was only sacked 11 times all of 2014; fourth fewest in the entire FBS.   And until the last 3 games of the season I believe that number was somewhere around 6.  Gardner and Hack are very jealous when they see that sort of protection.  The run blocking - while not quite as excellent as the pass protection - was also solid with some 3000+ yards.  All this while shuffling 8 guys in and out of the line, partly due to injury and partly to prepare for 2015.  Again, I think this is the untold story of MSU football.

Looking to 2015, MSU's line looks to be 1 of the 2 best in the conference along with OSU.  Both guards (Travis Jackson and Connor Kruse) were lost but with MSU's platoon system at most OL positions, very experienced players (or 1 young buck) are taking their place.  In many ways 2015 MSU OL looks a lot like a mid 90s UM OL - a bunch of experienced guys - a few in contention for national awards, offset by 1 young dude who is too good to keep on the bench.   Every guy other than the center (who is near 300 lbs) is 310ish+.

LT RS JR Jack Conklin was a "no star" from the class of 2012 (Kalis, Magnuson, Braden, Bars) who has been a revelation.   He has been a 2 year starter (RS FR, RS SO) and given up I believe 2 sacks his entire career.   He stymied NFL 1st rounders Joey Bosa and Randy Gregory in 2014 - and faces Shilique Calhoun in practice every day.  Mel Kiper said he could have left MSU after 3 years and been an early draft pick in this year's draft - but he returned.   C RS SR Jack Allen is an All American with 35 starts under his belt.  'Nuff said - we saw in 2010/2011 what having a stud center was like.   These 2 guys bookmark Jack's younger brother who had a Mason Cole like season, playing as a true freshman (with a few starts I believe) SO Brian Allen.

The right side of the line had more of a platoon system working last year but brings back a lot of experience.  JR Kodi Keiler started and ended the season as the starting RT but there was some platooning going on between him, Donavon Clark, and Kruse.  RG is RS SR Donavon Clark who started all 13 games last year, shuffling  between RG and RT.  The backups are a mix of older and younger players including JUCO JR T Miguel Machado, JR Benny McGowan, and  RS SR Brandon Clemons.  Not sure how much of a dropoff there is between these guys and the starters as these were not players in 2014's rotation.  The front line starting group however should be top notch.

Defense

MSU's defense has been it's calling card in the past 5 years.  Ironically the early Dantonio teams were known more for offense than defense as the paltry defensive talent could not be hidden.  But MSU has a system, recruits to it, and is excellent at teaching and developing on the defensive side of the ball.  The past 2 years UM has had 2 weeks to prepare for MSU and MSU 1 week to prepare and MSU looked as if they knew every play UM has ever run.  Not cool.   Obviously with Narduzzi gone there are some questions but a very experienced defensive staff mostly returns intact aside from him.

MSU has a press quarter scheme that I'd deem "break don't bend".  MSU either stymies you nearly completely or you get a big play against them.  There are rarely long drives against MSU.  Looking through the Big 10 stats last year the one thing that surprises you is how few Spartans are anywhere in the top 50 of tackles in the conference - I believe it was only one (Kurtis Drummond at 72).  Compare that to a Mike Hull, Jake Ryan, or Bolden with well over 100.  Why is that?  Time of possession for offense, creating tons of turnovers and dominance of rush defense.  This combo does not lead to a lot of players racking up tackles.  Their MLB (Jones) was their 2nd leading tackler with 60 tackles all year - Jake Ryan had double.  MSU is either going to get you right off the field (again very few long drives against all year) or give up a huge play - usually in the passing game, with their style.   Speaking of turnovers MSU led the conf in defensive creation with 34 ...18 INT, 16 fumbles recovered.  (By comparison UM had 10! ugh) 

While most say the corners have a ton of responsibility in the scheme, I'd argue the safeties are the most stressed.  They are tasked with much more run support and generally 1 plays very close to the line of scrimmage.  This does put pressure on the corners of course as they are much more on an island but it's usually the safety breakdowns that lead to big plays vs MSU.  The 2014 pass defense took a step back with the loss of 1st round draft pick CB Dennard and S Lewis.  But the front 7 (8) was ferocious as normal in run defense - they were once again #1 in all of FBS in rush defense.  They have been top 10 the past 4 years.  If you cannot open up MSU's defense with a competent accurate mid range throwing QB you pretty much can chalk up a loss since you won't run on them without any pass threat on the outside.  And the Big 10 lacks these type of QBs.  This defense would get exposed in a conference like the Pac 12 where a guy like Kevin Hogan is the 9th ranked QB (he'd be #4 in last year's Big 10) but it works wonders in the Big 10.  Oregon didnt run much at all on MSU yet still scored over 40.  Baylor didnt even try to run and threw for 600ish yards.  OSU (and Purdue of all teams) were the 2 teams in 2014 that were relatively balanced vs MSU - OSU pure talent and speed, Purdue had a QB who was forcing the safeties to go wide using the Oregon playbook, which thus opened up lanes inside for the running game.  Everyone else was pretty impotent trying to do things against MSU even with their weaknesses in the secondary.

2015 looks a lot like MSU's 2014 defense - although I believe their front 7 will be better and their back 4 worse.  Which again will cause issues vs competent QBs ...of which MSU won't see many of in the Big 10.  Their front 7 should feature 6 upperclassmen including 5 RS SRs starting.  And the other guy is Malik McDowell.  That's damn good.  3 of the 4 DL should be 1st or 2nd day draft picks IMO.

DE

Much like the return of RS SR helped the offense, so does the return of RS SR Shilique Calhoun at DE.  He was projected top 10-15ish preseason but while having a good season displayed some warts in terms of size/strength/speed (which the NFL uses for projections) that pushed him down the mock drafts a bit.  While still a borderline 1st/2nd rounder he decided to return.  Calhoun is an excellent college player with 8.5 sacks and 12.5 TFL (tackles for loss) in 2014 - teams focused on him quite a bit more after his breakout 2013.  Calhoun's return alleviated MSU from losing both DEs.   The other DE was the much underappreciated Marcus Rush who probably was the least recognized "very good" player in the Big 10.  A four year starter who is ridiculously assignment sound Rush had almost the same statistics as Calhoun with 1 less tackle, 0.5 less sacks and 2 less TFL.  His tweener size is the main thing preventing him from IMO being a mid level NFL prospect - his loss is not to be understated.

The depth chart shows RS SR (and former 5 star talent) Lawrence Thomas taking over the DE spot at 300 lbs.  Most thought it would be Malik McDowell flashing out from the DT to DE this year but the depth chart shows Thomas instead - I would not read that in stone as I could see those 2 flip flopping a lot.  Thomas career took time to take off - at one point he was a LB, then a FB, then a DT, now a DE.  But the last 3-4 games of 2014 I thought he was one of the best defensive players on the unit.  It will be interesting to see how he fares at DE and how long that lasts - he seemed to be making a lot of great players on the interior late in the year.

As for backups, "the next Calhoun" is RS SO Demetrious Cooper.  If you believe the MSU beat writers and practice reports this guy rips the heads off women and children in practice and doesnt apologize.  He was supposed to be ahead of where Calhoun was at similar points in their careers.  But he has not really seen the field too much, stuck behind Calhoun.  I actually thought they might flip him to the other DE so that both would be starters this year but on the depth chart he remains as a backup to Calhoun.  Behind Thomas we have RS JR Evan Thomas who has not done much and two RS FR who are typical MSU recruits - big rangy athletes converted from other positions in HS who they develop in house after a redshirt year - Montez Sweat and Robert Bowers.  This was part of a 2014 defensive line recruiting class that might have been among the top 2-3 in the nation.

 

DT

With Lawrence Thomas starting out on end, the depth chart has SO Malik McDowell moving into the starting DT role.  Michigan fans will be extremely familiar with him.  He is the only "young guy" slated to start in MSU's front 7.  Next to him is RS SR Joel Heath who returns to his starting role from 2014.  While it is difficult to "judge" DTs as a common fan McDowell (while a bit of a hot head with some penalties) seemed to play quite well, especially as a true freshman in a very demanding part of the field.  He had 4.5 TFL and 1.5 sacks but again at this position your impact is not so much stats.  Based on MSU's run defense and the amount of playing time he received from a staff that doesnt play freshman much - he looked as good as the hype.  He played a bit more than Mone did for UM.

Behind McDowell we have RS SR Damon Knox who played a lot when healthy last year.  Behind Heath are a beavy of young DTs from a loaded 2014 class.  The headline is RS FR Craig Evans who looks built like a Mack truck.  This was a Wisconsin commit who aparently could not make the grade at Wisconsin so MSU swooped in at the last minute with their "more friendly" admissions requirement and gave Coach Gary Andersen the snake oil treatment.  With losses like that you could see why Andersen got frustrated.  Outside of Evans, RS FR David Beedle and RS FR Enoch Smith Jr will also push for time.  Combine those 3 with Malik McDowell and I'd argue this was the best DT haul in the country in 2014.   As long as 1-2 guys outside of McDowell develop well, MSU should be set for a few years here.

 

LB

MSU has a bit of a unique LB structure with 2 traditional LBs at one OLB spot and the middle, and then their 3rd (weakside) is more of a hybrid safety/LB guy ("STAR") generally in the 210-220 range.  A guy like UM's James Ross III is generally who plays there.  Or if Dymonte Thomas played for MSU he'd be a perfect STAR considering his coverage struggles vs fleet WRs and HS LB instincts.  The one loss off this unit was MLB Taiwan Jones who was a converted OLB trying to fill in for Max Bullough for 1 year.  He did fine especially in TFL but his impact was not the same as Bullough.  He will be replaced by yet another Bullough - JR Riley Bullough....or SO Jon Reschke.  I'd expect a platoon of sorts as MSU is high on both these guys.  You may remember Bullough as the starting RB for MSU early in 2013 when their offense was LOL, before Langford came out of nowhere.  He is another player that started to really come on late in 2014.  Reschke has been hit with injuries for much of his early career.

The other 2 LB spots are manned by returning starters in RS SR Ed Davis, and RS SR Darien Harris.  You may notice I am typing RS SR a lot in these first 3 categories of defense.   If you only watch UM v MSU games you might think Ed Davis is the best LB in the country.   He is not - but he is pretty darn good.  In his 58 tackles, he had 12.5 TFL and 7 sacks (with 90% of them coming vs UM every year).  Darien Harris has a different responsibility set in the MSU D so won't wow you with stats per se.

Behind this group is a bunch of young guys that we have not really seen on the field - well other than Chris Frey pulling off his helmet and acting a fool before getting ejected last year as a freshman.  Frey, Jalyn Powell and Shane Jones are a trio of SOs who look to be the next wave - with their inexperience one could argue a LB injury to MSU would potentially lead to a step down in production.

 

S

The secondary is the one area of the MSU defense where youth shall prevail.  All American S Kurtis Drummond (who struggled a bit at times last year) graduates while RS SR R.J. Williamson returns.  Williamson was benched at times last year in favor of (sigh) true freshman Montae Nicholson.  (Editor's note - UM "missing out" on Nicholson bothers me much more than McDowell as he apparently wanted to be a Wolverine and for some reason no one can figure out Hoke & Co dropped pursuit.  So instead he was looking at Northwestern before MSU came in to take him.  So we don't want this calibar of guy for a team who has not had top end safety play outside of a walk on in years, and whose S depth chart last year read as Jarrod Wilson + pray.  Just friggin boggling).  Anyhow, Nicholson - 6'2, 216 lbs with Peppers type speed is starting at MSU next year instead of UM.  Cuz yeah.  In fact the MSU starting S pair is a lot like UM's right now -  a very talented SO and a solid but not great SR.  Difference being Nicholson played all last year while Peppers does not have much game experience.  The other backup S last year was highly rated HS player Demetrious Cox - who on the MSU depth chart has been flipped out to CB.

The current backups at S are JR Mark Meyers and RS FR Matt Morrissey.  I don't believe Meyers played much, if at all last year.  However, Dantonio went out and got an experienced JUCO transfer in Taylor Martinez's (YTTM) brother Drake Martinez who is a S.  If the Big 10 approves him not sitting out a year (which MSU is petitioning to happen) I'd expect him to be the primary backup at S.   Dantonio has stated things are progressing "well" on that front this week so I'd expect Martinez to be playing in the fall and immediately fix their lack of depth here.  JUCOs must be nice.

 

CB

The departure of Trae Waynes is the biggest loss on MSU's defense.  The above mentioned JR Demetrious Cox looks to have been moved from S to CB at the boundary.  JR Darian Hicks - who started most of last year - is competing with RS FR Vayante Copeland at the other corner.   Hicks struggled mid season and after the OSU game (I believe) he was benched in favor of Tony Lippett playing 2 ways (Lippett was a corner in his early MSU days).  Not sure how much Hicks played after that but the coaches seem to think he needs to become more physical - obviously cornerback is a spot you need confidence.  So this is the beauty (and pain) of college football; after having the best pair of corners in the country in 2013 MSU has a relatively untested group just 2 years later.  That said - again - Saban says Dantonio is the premier developer of DBs in college football and recent results bear it out.  Dennard and Waynes were both borderline 2/3 star athletes on nonbody's radar - who are a pair of 1st round draft picks.  Maize colored glassed fans will say "luck" but that's like saying Burke, Nik, Caris are luck for Beilein.  The question is how quickly those type of guys can be replaced and how good the next guys are - even with good coaching everyone has a different ceiling and MSU hit 2 back to back home runs.  One expects a dropoff for this year at least in the CB area.   The question is how many Big 10 QBs can exploit these young guys with the ferocious front 7 and the general inability of Big 10 QBs not at OSU or Indiana to throw good passes over 12 yards.

Projecting Out the Remaining Spots of the 2015 Class

Projecting Out the Remaining Spots of the 2015 Class

Submitted by alum96 on January 22nd, 2015 at 8:22 AM

We have a nice prior diary that is now a wiki, but due to the table format it is difficult to edit so let's do a post projecting the remaining spots of the class with a bit more detail in terms of serious candidates.  Aside from that wiki the MGo Depth Chart helps us project needs, and I did a diary last week on what positions have major needs for 2017 so we can reverse engineer 2015 'croots to fill those holes.

The question of the day is how many spots are truly open - MGo Depth chart says only 6, as long as both Glasgows and Kerridge are given scholarships.  I've read comments saying Sam Webb also says this is the #.   Of course some "gray" things can be done such as taking 8 commits and then assuming a few guys drop out after seeing the writing on the wall this spring.  Grayshirting is another option although more "controversial".   So I'll go 6 (floor and most likely) to 8 (ceiling and unlikely) spots. 

We'll look at it by position.  Please add any intel you may garner from various legit sources and I'll be happy to edit.  I am sure some more names will emerge in the coming days.

OFFENSE

TE

  • Chris Clark - target #1.  NSD decision between UCLA and UM.  Gut feel says UM despite recent comments about neck and neck with UCLA.  UM offense focuses on TE, UCLA does not.  UM coaches have developed NFL TEs.  Heart was once with UM.
  • Matt Snyder - current NEB commit set to visit this weekend.  Followed Riley from Oregon State to Nebraska.
  • Jake Pickard - current WIS commit.
  • (sorta) Ty Wheatley - seems to project more to DE but some feel at 260 lbs he can still be a TE as he grows in the coming years.

Projecting - Chris Clark

 

FB

  • Reagan Williams - Stanford commit visiting this weekend.  With Kerridge and Houma both graduating post 2015 and Shallman the only type on roster to fill this roll this position is a need.  Looks like he will be visiting for 3 days so serious interest.  Can play close to home as he is from Ohio.  50/50 chance perhaps.

Projecting - Reagan Williams.  Harbaugh magic works this weekend.

 

RB

  • Mike Weber - former UM commit who could see the competition crowding at OSU.  Yes UM will probably get a good back in 2016 as well to provide competition but the entire roster not named Ty Isaac clears out at RB post 2016.  Clearer path to playing time here, close to home, etc.
  • [edit] John Kelly (also a potential DB) - Harbaugh is saying very nice things about him and crystall ballz trending our way but UM was late to this game.  MSU and TN seem to be the major competition.  Just committed to TN, UM will continue to pursue to NSD.

Projecting - Mike Weber or maybe whichever commits first of the 2 due to limited spots

 

QB

  • [edit] Zach Gentry - NM product committed to Texas for a long time has some foggy smoke a raging inferno around him.
  • McClane Carter - wasn't much interest in Carter nationally until Jim sniffed around which brought along some other interests.  Not sure if this is a scholarship type of guy or someone who you bring in for a year with a chance to earn a scholarship when more open up in year 2.

Projecting - tough one to figure.  Not sure if you give Carter a scholarship with a tiny class like this.  Maybe he comes with the promise of a 2016 scholarship.  Gentry is a long time UT commit, seems unlikely to flip in closing weeks.

 

WR

  • Ryan Davis - super fun HS QB who might not have top flight speed but ridiculous change of direction and vision.  Will know better in the coming days if there is anything real here.  Would love this guy for punt returns and as a slot WR.
  • [Edit] Austin Aaron - Cal commit, some noise early in Harbaugh chase with him ; not hearing much lately.

Projecting - none.

 

OL

  • Nolan Ulizio - lightly ranked OL out of OH, committed to UConn getting some love from Michigan, Kentucky.   On paper seems like a no brainer to UM.  But if higher rated prospects at other positions are in play he might be told there is no room in the closing days of the signing period.  If this class was 16+ spots he'd probably be a close to sure yes.

Projecting - none only due to other commits taking his spot.  If those fall thru he seems likely.

 

DEFENSE

DB

  • Damon Arnette - SC commit getting the most attention of a host of CB prospects.  Was in town this past weekend and was visited by Harbaugh, Durkin, and Mattison at home Wednesday.  His HS is a NFL factory so is a key bridge to get into that school.
  • Chris Williamson - late riser on recruiting boards out of GA getting interest from UF, UM, NC, Cal and GA.  Was at NC last weekend, will be at UM this weekend, then UF the following weekend.
  • Will Lockett - UCLA commit who will be in town this weekend
  • Jarius Adams - Rutgers commit
  • Iman Marshall - obviously a crown jewel but some believe to be a silent commit to USC which of course they deny.  Dad did not join him on trip.  Sounds like UM did a great job hosting but most likely too little too late and a 2nd/3rd place finish for his services.

Projecting - serious chance for 2 CBs even if we only have 2 slots.  Guessing Arnette is 1. Hopefully Williamson is impressed this weekend but still has a visit to UF next weekend.

 

DE

  • Reuben Jones - NEB commit also getting the full court press, will be visiting this weekend. Seems very unlikely he remains at NEB; it looks like a Louisville (where he was last weekend) vs UM battle with MSU trying to poke their nose in there.
  • Jalen Bates - ASU commit but not much noise here after some initial excitement. No crystal ballz to UM.
  • KLS - sort of been a tease from afar thru the Hoke era, but a UCLA commit and it seems solid.
  • Ty Wheatley (more likely here than TE) - dude could play a great game of poker.

Projecting - Reuben Jones if this weekend goes well but Louisville seems very much into it.  As with Arnette, Mattison Durkin and Harbaugh all visited in home Wednesday.  Wheatley is a tough one - this might be a case of a guy wanting to strike out on his own away from his dad.  I have zero inside info but for some reason this feels like a Treadwell McDowell situation.  If dad was not coaching I don't think UM would have any chance.

 

LB

  • Roquan Smith - highly ranked GA LB is a major target for UM, who has a chance due to Durkin.  Most still think he is headed to GA but this past weekend seemd to do UM a lot of good.  The longer his recruiting process goes the better for UM's chances.

Projecting - none.

 

OFF THE BOARD / UNLIKELY

  • Marcus Lewis CB - this seemed like a sure commit post summer BBQ.  But his final 3 is Kentucky, Miami (YTM), and WSU (?!).
  • Nate Dalton CB - visited in home and at school by Harbaugh Tuesday but more interested in Liberty.  Or Bret B at Arkansas.
  • Arrington Farrar S - a Stanford decommit who sounded like a natural fit but the last 5 crystal ballz have him headed to ND.
  • Drew Lock QB -  Missouri commit looks like a no.
  • Joe Burrow QB - OSU commit apparently told Jim no.
  • Cordell Broadus WR - his dad wants him to go to USC, and other than some nice words before Harbaugh was hired about Harbaugh there doesn't seem to be much connection there.
  • Auden Tate WR - committed to FSU last summer, not much smoke anymore. [edit:  Harbaugh apparently visited 1/22]
  • David Moorman OL - exiled WIS commit seems to want to hear from UM; not sure if there is any smoke there.
  • [edit][edit again] Joshua McMillon - Alabama commit out of TN who was once sort of high on Michigan during the Hoke period is set to visit.  He cancelled his visit.

 

My pulled out of rear end class then falls like this

  1. TE Chris Clark OR non Clark TE
  2. RB Mike Weber OR RB/ATH John Kelly
  3. FB Reagan Williams
  4. CB Damon Arnette
  5. DE Reuben Jones
  6. A second CB - too foggy to tell but not Marshall*
  7. (if room) RB Mike Weber/ATH John Kelly  - edit: Zach Gentry (?)
  8. (if room) OL Nolan Ulizio

*you probably hold this spot open until the moment LB Roquan Smith says I am going to Georgia.

I am not a subscriber to recruiting services so maybe some are saying DE/TE Ty Wheatley is a sure thing or close to it.  So I'd be wrong on that end if true.  Yesterday's offer to Jake Pickard - who is also a DE/TE combo makes me wonder.

 

 

UM Needs to Recruit Montana Better & Other Fun Facts about Where NFL Players Come From

UM Needs to Recruit Montana Better & Other Fun Facts about Where NFL Players Come From

Submitted by alum96 on January 14th, 2015 at 12:05 AM

Lots of conversations lately about recruiting and where the coaches come from and their backgrounds, plus talk of Urban de-emphasizing OH to a degree to go South.  Durkin seems to be bringing a lot of GA flavor already - I like. 

So decided to do some sleuthing and found a cool blog article I don't think has ever been posted.  Some fun facts in it as follows:

ALL THE EXPECTED STATES PROVIDE THE MOST PLAYERS PER CAPITA EXCEPT FOR ONE INTERESTING EXCEPTION - MONTANA

State # Per Capita
LA 59 77K
SC 55 84K
DC 7 86K
MS 34 87K
AL 52 92K
FL 200 94K
MT 10 99K
GA 97 100K
VA 55 145K
OH 79 146K

 

ONE HS IN FLORIDA HAS MORE NFL PLAYERS THAN 15 STATES CURRENTLY HAVE

1 - St Thomas Aquinas  
Ft Lauderdale (10!)  
T2 - Glades Central  
Belle Garde, FL (5)  
T2 - Glenville  
Cleveland, OH (5)  
T2 - Pahoke  
Pahoke, FL (5)  
   
14 schools with 4 each  
43 schools with 3 each  

- Looking at a map of Florida, Pahoke and Belle Garde are essentially neighbors; must be some epic HS football down there.

 

DETROIT HAS AS MANY NFL PLAYERS AS THE MUCH BIGGER L.A.  - AND NYC IS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND IN THE TOP 12?

City #
Miami 25
Ft Laud 16
Houston 16
N. Orleans 16
Jacksonville 12
LA 12
Detroit 12
Cincy 12
Cleveland 12
Chicago 11
Dallas 10
Philly 10
Pitt 10

 

TOP 25 STATES IN TERMS OF NFL PLAYER PRODUCTION (NOT ADJUSTED FOR POPULATION)

*D.C. is a powerhouse in its own right considering its tiny size, but couldn't decide whether it should be rolled into Maryland or Virginia so kept it independent

State #
CA 213
FL 200
TX 172
GA 97
OH 79
LA 59
SC 55
PA 55
VA* 55
NJ 55
AL 52
NC 51
MI 44
IL 40
TN 35
MS 32
NY 28
MD* 25
MO 24
WI 22
WA 21
AZ 21
IN 20
CO 19
OK 19
   
*DC 5

- MS has more NFL players than NY - guess NY  kids prefer basketball

2015 Football - Returning Starters by Team

2015 Football - Returning Starters by Team

Submitted by alum96 on January 13th, 2015 at 10:22 AM

Now that "2014" is officially over, it is time to speculate about 2015.  Of course we already began that weeks ago.

Phil Steele has a list of all teams and how many starters they return in 2015.  It is not perfect; again let me say it is not perfect so comments saying it is not perfect are not useful.  But it's directionally useful.  Also some teams could face more departures in the next few weeks either via attrition, transfer, or early entry. 

Thought it would be fun to make reckless projections partly based on who has what returning.  Experience matters - well in most cases; not with Urban Meyer teams.  I've split this list into 3 groups:

  1. All Power 5 conference teams with 15+ starters returning ~2/3rds of the starters
  2. All Power 5 conference teams with 11 or less starters returning - 50% or less of the starters
  3. Teams in between 12-14 who are of interest

I bolded any specific unit with 8+ starters returning as it should be a pretty good unit (in theory anyhow)  I've removed some guys like FSU and Oregon's QBs

EXPERIENCED TEAMS

Team Conf Total Off Def Return QB?
Notre Dame ACC* 19 9 10 Y?*
Tenn SEC 18 10 8 Y
Vandy SEC 18 9 9 Y
UCLA P12 18 10 8 N
Cal P12 18 9 9 Y
Ole Miss SEC 17 9 8 N
North Carolina ACC 17 10 7 Y
Baylor B12 17 8 9 N
LSU SEC 16 8 8 Y
Michigan B10 16 9 7 N
Purdue B10 16 9 7 Y
Colo P12 16 7 9 Y
ASU P12 16 7 9 N
Va Tech ACC 16 8 8 Y
Wake Forest ACC 16 9 7 Y
Texas Tech B12 16 8 8 Y
Arkansas SEC 15 8 7 Y
USC P12 15 9 6 Y
WSU P12 15 7 8 N
Pitt ACC 15 9 6 Y
TCU B12 15 9 6 Y

 

Conjecture based on flimsy evidence

  • Notre Dame should be quite solid next year if Malik Zaire pans out.
  • It's time for Butch Jones to make a move and bring Tenn back to prominence.  They have been lost since we have been (2008). Year 3 (and 4) is when well above average coaches make big impacts for their teams; 2015 will be his year 3 and he brings back almost all his starters.  The SEC East is muddled with no power.
  • UCLA needs to replace Hundley - but other than that they should be loaded.  Rosen looks like he will be competing with Neuhesial's kid.   I thought the Pac 12 South was the 2nd best division in the country last year, and next year the top of it will be even better.
  • Cal can be a dark horse in the Pac 12 North; not to win it but to give the 2 top programs trouble and contend for 3rd place.  Sonny Dykes had an awful year 1 at Cal but things could be turning there as year 2 showed progress and they have a pretty fantastic offense with a stud QB.  There is some serious QBing going on in the Pac 12 right now, lost on most of the nation's audience who doesn't see many Pac 12 games.  Cal scores tons of points this year; problem is they gave up tons of points.
  • Perhaps the last hurrah near term for Ole Miss as mock drafts for 2016 show a plethora of their players going early.  They will have multiple early entries from the "bag man" class of 2013 (Laquon Treadwell, Robert Nkemdiche, etc)  Bo Wallace goes, in comes a Clemson transfer who spent a year tearing it up at JUCO level.
  • Baylor was young this year - the major loss is Bryce Petty but Seth Russell looked real good when Petty was down with injury this year.  Could be top 5 again.
  • LSU should be the Fournette show.  Need to develop their QB (an annual refrain).  Defense should be loaded but loss of Chavis might be huge.
  • Michigan's offense with Kevin Hogan would really look promising.  Defense will probably be flat as 2 top players leave in Ryan and Clark.
  • Purdue is my "Cal" of the Big 10.  Not going to win the Big 10 West but for some reason I like the way they played this year in limited views (vs Notre Dame, MSU).  They played hard, seemed to buy into Hazell, and their offense can be fun.  I also like their young QB Appleby.   Can they pass Iowa / Northwestern types to contend for 3rd place next year in that division?  Maybe.
  • Arizona State, like Ohio State, was supposed to be a 2015 story.  Until a late season dive they were in playoff contention.  Big believer in their coach (I know, I know - a mercenary) and OC.  Lose QB but they sometimes played better when his backup was in.  And a very young defense improved significantly as the year went by.  The games between USC, UCLA, and ASU should be barn burners and I think one of those 3 wins the entire Pac 12.
  • Arkansas is my sleeper of the year.  I said in many posts in October this year they could win the Big 10 West and probably would be the 3rd best team in the Big 10 even when they were winless in conf.  They surged in November and looked awesome in their bowl.  Defense was awesome, run game was awesome, played Bama to 1 pt and Miss State to a last second drive.  If they get any QB play next year I could see them top 10.  No, seriously.  Loss of OC a question though.
  • When researching USC's OL/offense I was struck at how great a year Cody Kessler had.  Fergodsakes, the Pac 12 is loaded with QBs.  70% completion, nearly 4k yards, 39 TD 5 INT - and you barely hear a peep about him out here in the East.  This is a very talented but young team lacking depth.  Loss of RB hurts as well as stud on DL.  If defense can do anything in 2015 they should contend for Pac 12.
  • TCU will be top 5 entering the year, and perhaps top 3 in polls with Heisman candidate Boykins ready to roar.  Defense loses a bit but Patterson is a defensive coach and like Dantonio will have a D ready to go.  Their D looks worse statistically then they are as the offense transformed to the type that scores every 2 minutes so D is on the field way more than a Big 10 D, and opponents have way more drives.  The TCU v Baylor tilt should be for all the marbles again.

 

YOUNG TEAMS

Team Conf Total Off Def Return QB?
Miss State SEC 7 4 3 Y
Kansas B12 8 4 4 Y
Maryland B10 10 4 6 N
Miami ACC 10 5 5 Y
Boston College ACC 10 3 7 N
Georgia SEC 11 6 5 N
Rutgers B10 11 7 4 N
Oregon St P12 11 9 2 N
Washington P12 11 6 5 N
Syracuse ACC 11 8 3 Y
Louisville ACC 11 5 6 Y
Clemson ACC 11 7 4 Y
KSU B12 11 5 6 N

 

Conjecture based on flimsy evidence

  • Good luck with that Dan Mullen.  Miss State returns Prescott and uhh... a handful of other starters.  That is not a division to lose 2/3rds of your starters in.  I could see Miss State coming in last in the division.  Dan you should have begged Nebraska for the job when they did not get Bret.
  • Maryland and Rutgers did decently their 1st year in the conference, partly because UM and PSU were junk.  When facing quality teams like OSU, MSU and Wisconsin they got punked.  And that was with quite experienced teams.  2015 looks like it is going to be rougher for these 2 programs.
  • Miami (YTM) looks like it's going to be in year 82 of a rebuild.  Al Golden seems to be getting a pass due to sanctions on the prorgram but I imagine a 7-5 type of season, if that happens, has to raise the temperature of the seat.
  • Georgia has a seemingly endless supply of RBs; maybe Nick Chubb and his supporting cast is enough in the down SEC East but it's a young squad without a returning QB.
  • Oregon St - Andersen has his work cut out for him in year 1 with that defense and only 2! returning starters in a conference chock full of high octane offenses.  He and his newly swiped DC are both defensive oriented and will need to be. 
  • Clemson will be interesting - they lost what many consider the real brains behind that team in Chad Morris (OC) and bring back a young team.
  • I don't know what witchcraft Bill Snyder at KSU will employ but somehow he will have a solid team.  Seeing how prevalent JUCO players are in the Big 12, maybe a quarter of next year's team will be those type.

 

IN THE MIDDLE TEAMS

(WARNING: NSFW IMAGE!!!! TURN AWAY OR PERISH!!)

 
Team Conf Total Off Def Return QB?
FSU ACC 14 4 10 N
PSU B10 14 8 6 Y
MSU B10 14 6 8 Y
OSU B10 14 7 7 N/A
Stanford P12 14 10 4 Y?*
BYU N/A 14 8 6 Y
Texas A&M SEC 13 7 6 N
Florida SEC 13 7 6 Y
South Carolina SEC 13 5 8 N
Missouri SEC 13 7 6 Y
Utah P12 13 7 6 Y
Oklahoma B12 13 7 6 Y
Auburn SEC 12 4 8 N
Alabama SEC 12 4 8 N
Wisconsin B10 12 5 7 Y
Nebraska B10 12 6 6 Y
Oregon P12 12 7 5 N
Arizona P12 12 7 5 Y
Texas B12 12 7 5 Y

 

Conjecture based on flimsy evidence

  • FSU brings back a loaded defense, but one that was strifed repeatedly by Oregon.  Not a tough conference however and talent alone should have it at (or near) the top.
  • PSU's 2015 offense will probably be a lot like UM's 2014 except with a NFL 1st rounder at the helm.  Assuming not PTSD for Hack it should be a viable offense again with a less than awful OL.  Doesn't mean good OL, just less than awful.  Hack looked spectacular in the bowl game.  PSU's DC is not well known in these parts but did a wonderful job at Vandy and his first year at PSU so despite some big talent leaving, the D will be in good hands.
  • MSU retained both Cook and Calhoun.  Their OL has been the unsung story of the past 2 years and it should remain excellent with potential 1st rounder Conklin at tackle, and an All American candidate at center.  Need to find a RB but bring in national recruit Larry Scott out of OH and young RBs can play righ away.  Defense the only weak spot will be the secondary with Calhoun's return.  Narduzzi loss might hurt but I doubt meaningfully.
  • OSU will be preseason #1, maybe if Braxton Miller transfers, Cardale declares, and JT Barrett is injured we can watch the Jaylon Marshall QB era begin.  (he is a WR for those playing at home)  I think Steele is a bit off on returning starters - I had 1 or 2 more off memory when I did a depth chart analysis.
  • Stanford returns 10 starters on offense but that offense really does not play to your strengths Kevin Hogan.  Come to Michigan.  Anderson will have a rebuild job with that defense which has been a Stanford stalwart since Vic Fangio showed up in 2010.  Another reason why I think the Pac 12 champion might come out of the South next year.
  • BYU is here because we play them - they bring an experienced offense with a dual threat QB (that Harbaugh recruited to Stanford!).  Going to be a stern test.
  • With Kenny Hill leaving Texas A&M some questions arise but Sumlin is good at 1 thing - offense.  Defense he sucks at - but Chavis arrival should help immediately. 
  • Whole new staff at Florida with Michigan's old OC and Miss State's old DC.  Offense was 1 dimensional in 2014 costing Muschamp his job.  Need something out of their QB.
  • One wonder if the ole ball coach is finally nearing the end of the line.  South Carolina finally struggled in 2014 after some very nice years and offense was the main thing it had going for them.  A lot of personnel losses on that side of the ball.
  • No idea what poor Kyle Whittingham is going to be doing at Utah.  No OC, no DC, and a jerky AD.   But I assume he will find a way to field a quality team in time for our arrival.
  • Nick Marshall leaves Auburn but Jeremy Johnson in a limited roll looked pretty damn sweet (yes I am jealous how certain other teams can just roll in any QB and do well).  Young offense but loaded with highly rated players, and Muschamp arrives to improve the defense.  Auburn will be a very interesting team next year.
  • Bama gonna Bama.  A slew of 5 stars leaves, a slew of 5 stars arrive.  Non performing 5 stars are "guided" to pastures at the local JUCOs.
  • Wisconsin gonna Wisconsin - even more so with Chryst there.  Their D was exposed by OSU but in retrospect that offense exposed everyone late in the year - other than PSU.  The Big 10 West looks quite garbage-y right now, so Wisconsin remains the top dog there until proven otherwise.  Still like their young DC a lot.
  • Who knows what to expect with Nebraska - lost much of their higher end talent.  QB simply must improve; Armstrong can't afford to arm punt.  Mike Riley has his year cut out for him and I would not be surprised to see a significant step back in year 1, especially if Armstrong doesn't jump in progress.
  • Oregon could take a step back - if Braxton Miller arrives it might just be a small step.  An adequate but not great defense loses a lot of players.
  • Arizona was young offensively this year and 1 more year for their QB should help.  They return Scooooby on D but not a lot of other players.  Casteel has work to do; their division is loaded with big time offenses.
  • Texas simply needs to focus on fixing that offense.  Strong spent year 1 smoking out a lot of bad - too comfortable - apples.  Year 2 has to begin the rebuild.  I expect the defense to arrive but not sure on that offense. 
  • Oklahoma has to respond to the new challenges of TCU and Baylor.  Another average year and Stoops seat might go to at least lukewarm.  That's modern college football man.