2013 Wrap: D-Line

2013 Wrap: D-Line

Submitted by Ron Utah on December 16th, 2013 at 5:56 PM

2013 will be remembered as "The Season of Infinite Pain" for me, and for many others, I suspect.  High expectations have a way of making even good seasons frustrating; 2013 has been well-below "good."  Not only did we fail to compete for a B1G Championship, we had our expectations boosted after a magical performance against Notre Dame, only to be crushed by consecutive weeks of struggling to beat two of the worst programs in college football.

I was going to wait until after the bowl game to write this diary, but this lull is killing me and let's face it--the BWW Bowl isn't going to change much.

This series is something of a follow-up to my diary re-ranking players based on Rivals ratings.  Reading the beginning of that diary will help explain the player's rankings (as well as the Rivals ranking system).  Additionally, I've added letter grades, which are explained more thoroughly at the end of the post, so that we can get down to business with the first position group in the series:


Defensive Line

Season Grade: C+  Overall, it was a less-than-stellar year on the defensive front.  My pre-season predictions said the fate of our season rested on the offensive and defensive lines, and I believe that turned out to be the case.  The D-Line produced just 13.5 sacks, and only one player on the line had more than 2.5.  The "right to rush four" was never earned, and the season suffered because of it.  

That said, there were some positive signs.  Frank Clark showed marked improvement, and Willie Henry emerged as a viable option to replace either QWash or Black in 2014.  Wormley started to emerge in limited snaps, and other young guns like Ojemudia and Charlton showed flashes.

Big things were expected of Frank Clark in 2013

Tkl Solo Asst TFL Sacks QBH FF INT PBU
42 19 23 12.5 5.0 7 0 0 1
Rivals Pre-Ssn Current
5.6 5.8 5.9

Season Grade: B+  To say Frank Clark made a big jump this year would be an understatement: he had 17 more tackles, 3.5 more TFLs, and 3.0 more sacks than in 2012.  More importantly, he played much more consistently and held down his job as the WDE all season.  He led the team in TFLs by a whopping 5.0, and many of those came against some strong opposition (2.5 vs. Iowa, 2.5 vs. MSU).

That said, the off-season hype and reports of him besting Taylor Lewan in practice pushed expectations to a probably unreasonable level, and he did not come through. I predicted that we would need at least eight sacks from Frank Clark if our defense was going to get the requisite amount of pressure on opposing passers to make 2013 a successful (B1G Champs) season.  Not only did he fall far short of that number, his five sacks all came in three games: UConn, Penn State, and Indiana.  In hindsight, we sure needed those sacks against UConn and PSU, but they weren't enough to win the game.  His pass-rushing was pretty quiet--even though he deserved a few more QBH's, he only finished the season with seven (which led the team), and had just three in B1G play.

2014 outlook:  It says here (again) that without significant production from Frank Clark (or a surprise at WDE), the whole 2014 team's ceiling is limited.  It is vital for every 4-3 team to be able to produce consistent pressure from their front four, and the WDE is the guy with the best opportunities in our system.  If Clark can't get to eight sacks in '14, we'll once again find ourselves in the middle-of-the-pack (#67 nationally in 2013 with 23.0 total) in sacks.  That is not a good place to be.

Jibreel Black will be missed

Tkl Solo Asst TFL Sacks QBH FF INT PBU
26 13 13 7.5 2.5 3 1 0 2
Rivals Pre-Ssn Current
5.7 5.7 5.8

Season Grade: B  Jibreel Black is the kind of player you like more every time you see him play.  I believe he was our most consistent performer on the line this year, even plugging-in at NT despite his 278 lb. frame.  Black, by far, produced the most pressure from the interior of the line, and probably produced the most consistent pass-rush of anyone on the team.

Unfortunately, it wasn't good enough.  He was tied for second (Cam Gordon) on the team with 7.5 TFLs and third (Chris Wormley) with 2.5 sacks.  On the defensive line, only Clark and Willie Henry had more tackles.  Yes, he was a productive player, but this needs to be the baseline for DTs if we are going to achieve our potential as an elite program.  For Jibreel Black, I see a guy who maxed his potential and deserves to be remembered for his worthy contribution.  But I also see a guy who stood out more than he should have because of pretty poor production by the D-Line as a unit.

NFL draft outlook:  Black is a fringe prospect, IMO, with a minimal chance of being a FA pick-up.

Quinton Washington's 2013 was a bit of a mystery

Tkl Solo Asst TFL Sacks QBH FF INT PBU
19 5 14 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Rivals Pre-Ssn Current
5.6 5.8 5.7

Season Grade: C+  I call shenanigans.  QWash finished the 2012 season strong--he had ten tackles in our last three games and a sack in the Outback Bowl--and appeared poised to be one of the team's most important pieces in 2013.  While no confirmed injuries were reported that I am aware of, I believe there were some physcial issues that held him back this year.  But that's just speculation.

What is certain is that his season was just mediocre.  We needed him to eat blocks and make a few plays each game; he didn't do enough of either, registered zero TFLs on the season and just five solo stops.  Expectations probably hovered around 35 tackles, 8.0 TFLs, and 3.0 sacks; he was far short of all of those marks.  Sure, part of it was that we frequently had smaller DL packages out there, but if QWash had been playing up to his potential, I don't think Mattison would have kept him on the sideline.  He was serviceable while he was in, but that's about the best I can say.

NFL draft outlook:  Not happening.  He appeared poised to be a late-round pick after last year, but a completely lackluster senior season seems to have erased that possibility.


Other notables

Player Tkl Solo Asst TFL Sks QBH FF INT PBU Grd Rvls Pre Now
Henry 28 12 13 2.5 0.0 0 0 0 0 B 5.6 5.7 5.8
Beyer 25 15 10 4.0 2.0 5 1 1 1 B 5.8 5.7 5.8
Ojemudia 20 12 8 1.5 1.5 1 0 0 0 B- 5.7 5.7 5.7
Wormley 17 8 9 4.5 2.5 0 0 0 1 B- 5.7 5.7 5.8
Heitzman 8 3 5 0.5 0.0 1 0 0 0 C- 5.5 5.7 5.6
Pipkins 7 1 6 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0 Inc 6.1 5.8 Inc
Godin 3 2 1 0.0 0.0 1 0 0 0 C- 5.7 5.7 5.6
Ash 3 1 2 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 D+ 5.8 5.6 5.5
Charlton 2 1 1 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0 C 5.8 Unr 5.7
Strobel 2 1 1 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 D+ 5.8 5.7 5.5
Glasgow 2 1 1 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0 D+ 5.2 Unr 5.5

It's remarkable that we never established a starter at SDE.  Keith Heitzman was the presumed and nominal guy, but only started seven times and didn't even play in one of our games.  Brennen Beyer is currently listed as the starter at SDE, and he spent most of the season playing SLB with his 250 lb. frame.  It is not good that he is our best option at that position.  Chris Wormely showed signs that he can play up to his lofty potential, but did not produce consistently.  Matt Godin was sometimes on the field.

Willie Henry figures to start at either DT or NT in 2014.  Despite playing in only nine games (and missing stat-boosters CMU and Akron) and starting just five, Henry racked-up 28 tackles and 2.5 TFLs.  13 of those tackles came in the final three games.  QWash's 2013 fade gives me pause, but I will go ahead and predict a big 2014 for Henry anyway, in the 40 tackle range with about 10 TFLs.  Tom Strobel (whom I wrongly predicted would have a breakout 2013) will also figure into the rotation here, and perhaps Henry Poggi and Maurice Hurst.

Beyer is the presumed starter at SDE, and, as Brian says, will likely fulfill his Roh 2.0 destiny.  He will add 20-30 lbs. in the off-seasn and be solid but not spectacular, just as he has been this year.  He will be reviewed again in the LB wrap-up.

Ondre Pipkins will probably be our starting NT if he can get healthy; that is a big "if" for a 300-plus pounder who's had trouble staying in shape when his legs worked properly.  If it's not him, please feel free to panic as Richard Ash is currently listed as the #2 option at NT.  After that?  Ryan Glasgow is the only other guy with the requisite size (and the aforementioned Henry, which requires plugging someone else in at DT) to play the position.  Perhaps Hurst will become a NT; Bryan Mone will be a true freshman and is likely to get some snaps.

Mario Ojemudia and Taco Charlton represent what I believe to be the most talented group of back-ups on the roster, and I expect both to contribute.  Charlton may very well be big enough to play SDE and even DT on passing downs, and I hope we find a combination of players that can get pressure on third down without blitzing, which may put Ojemudia at the SDE.


2014 Outlook

The line will lose its interior starters in Qwash and Black, but both are replaceable.  Henry is likely to be an upgrade at either position, and in the other spot...well, we may miss Jibreel Black if someone doesn't step-up.  At SDE, I expect Beyer to be an upgrade over the platoon this year.  Even if he's not, I'd expect Wormley to be an upgrade.

To be an elite defensive front, we need our line to produce around 20 sacks.  That's 50% more than this year's group could manage.  While I believe Clark will take another step forward, Beyer will be solid, and I am excited about the future for Henry and Wormley, 2015 is when Hoke's recruiting will have the D-Line up to snuff.  I expect a "B/B-" season in 2014...quite a bit better than this year, but not yet elite.

Grading System:

  • A+   Consensus All-American.  One of the best players in the country regardless of position.
  • A  Likely Second-tem All-American/First-team All-B1G.  A hugely impactful player that affects every snap for which he is on the field and is one of the better players at his position in the country.
  • A-  Likely All-B1G selection.  A play-maker that forces other teams to adjust their gameplan.
  • B+  An impact player who is a big factor in the team's success.
  • B  "The expectation for the position."  At Michigan, this means you are doing your job well enough to get us to at least 10 wins and to challege for the B1G title.
  • B-  Not quite up to par.  A player who may start, but an upgrade would be helpful.
  • C+ Significant snaps for a C+ player will hold the team back from achieving its goals: 10 wins and a B1G championship.
  • C  An average college football player on an average team.  Picture an average starter at Washington State.
  • C-  A player that is consistently unproductive and should only be on the field in an emergency situation or for garbage time.
  • D+  A player whose performance hurts the team.
  • D  A player that should not be on the field for any reason at Michigan.
  • F  Pure disaster.

Please note that these grades are NOT representative of what I believe to be a player's future potential.  I am not assuming anyone with a low grade will turn out to be an unproductive player at Michigan.

2013 Surprise Fall Contributor

2013 Surprise Fall Contributor

Submitted by Marley Nowell on August 26th, 2013 at 2:45 PM

Heading into the 2012 season there was much concern over the lack of size of the interior DL.  Spring Practice has us convinced that undersized Jibreel Black and hopefully breakout player Will Campbell would be manning those spots and we would survive. 

Cut to 2012 Fall Practice and seemingly out of nowhere Quinton Washington emerged as the surprise starter.  He went on to have a very good season and hopefully will continue this trend for 2013.


So I pose the question Who will be the surprise breakout starter/contributor for the 2013 season?  Here are the candidates:

RB Drake Johnson

Spring Practice was the time for another RB to emerge as Toussiant was still on the shelf and all of the practice reps and carries were there for the taking.  Aside from Justice Hayes grabbing the 3rd Down RB spot it didn't seem like anyone else had separated themselves.  I was expecting to see more "OR" in the RB depth chart but surprise we see Johnson has used Fall Practice to clearly pass Rawls and the freshman.  Speaking of the freshman I think this spot at the depth chart doesn't represent contribution ability but rather the best utilization of eligibility years.  Touissant is the clear starter and Hayes should take the majority of 3rd Down plays, leaving only "breather" and "garbage" carries for the other RBs.  Better to use Johnson than Green or Smith until and unless either of them show they are ready to take primetime carries.

LG Graham Glasgow

Glasgow had been in a battle with Miller for the Center spot for the Spring Practice and it seemed most of Fall Practice.  Only recently did we start hearing Chris Bryant was going to start and almost just as quickly that he had been passed Glasgow.  Hopefully Bryant still troublesome knee was not the reason Glasgow took the spot, but rather that once Glasgow got consistent snaps at LG he beat the guy would could have started in 2012.  Hopefully this is not similar to 2011 when Barnum was the starter at LG but was injured, making us believe he would be good in 2012.

SLB Brennan Beyer

We have continuously heard praise for Cam Gordon's athleticism and playmaking ability while the only think I remember reading about Beyer that he is a good run defender.  Yet he started the Spring Game and remains the co-starter. Here's hoping he has shown significant improvement and all his "hype" has been swallowed up by Fort Schembechler.


My choice for the 2013 Surprise Fall Contributor is Graham Glasgow.  Really the only knock against him was his underwhelming recruiting profile, which history has shown means little when dealing with lineman.He is a third year lineman with the size and strength to be a very good player at LG.  



Moving Picture Pages - Short Yardage Slant

Moving Picture Pages - Short Yardage Slant

Submitted by Chris of Dange… on October 17th, 2012 at 10:56 PM

I finally got my video editing rig unborked, so now I can get back to making parkinggod highlights and Moving Picture Pages. 


(update) My time off has made me sloppy.  Wrong font, weird timings on the captions, forgot the Evil Space Magic trick to embed the video, didn't properly credit Brian (original analysis his, used with permission), didn't link back to the original http://mgoblog.com/content/picture-pages-short-yardage-slant, etc., etc.  You'll have to excuse me for a bit while I go run the stadium steps.

The formation that "WILL" undo the 2012 D

The formation that "WILL" undo the 2012 D

Submitted by dragonchild on March 29th, 2012 at 2:39 PM

"Will":  A One-Down Play (w/ apologies to "Airplane!")

by Dragonchild



ANNOUNCER:  Welcome to the game, folks.  The Michigan defense starts their work at the 22.  Looks like the offense is in an unusual formation, trips plus tight end all on one side of the field.  Split end goes into motion. . . to the strong side!  Five guys on one side?  I don't know if they're trying to confuse Mattison, but they're sure confusing me!


JORDAN KOVACS:  Coverage Blue-18. . . Wait, it's not trips, guys!  It's quints!


KENNY DEMENS:  Denny, Will covers the slot, not the wideout!


DESMOND MORGAN:  I'm on him!  Coverage, Black-32!


JORDAN KOVACS:  They can't all be on the line.  They're forming a second row!


JAKE RYAN:  Split your zone with Denny, Kenny!



JAKE RYAN:  Jordan, JT will cover the flanker, but can he stay with him?




Washington and Ash.

Washington and Ash.

Submitted by Mich1993 on October 4th, 2011 at 9:20 PM

I'm starting to feel better about NT depth after this year.  Although Washington and Ash have not played much, each of them were mentioned by Brady Hoke in news conferences without being asked. 

Last week, Brady was asked if he wanted to get Devin Gardner in the game, and Brady's answer was that he wanted to get a lot of people into the game, like Quinton Washington.  This week, he was asked about morale and getting backups in.  Brady's answer was about how good it was to get Ash into the game.

I also rewatched the end of the Minnesota game and Ash and Washington were in together.  Nothing spectacular and it was Minnesota, but they seemed to do fine.

Not feeling as good about 3-tech and 5-tech, but that's probably why Brady went after Wormley, Godin and Strobel.  I imagine two of these three will play next year behind Campbell.


Stranded M Football Players Place The Team First

Stranded M Football Players Place The Team First

Submitted by MGoShoe on December 29th, 2010 at 8:46 AM

Over at MGoBlue.com, Bruce Madej tells the story of four stranded Michigan football players who made team decisions as they struggled to make their way to Jacksonville in the face of this past weekend's east coast winter storm.

Starting offensive lineman Patrick Omameh finally arrived in Jacksonville on evening flight Monday, Dec. 27. He and running back Fitzgerald Toussaint were both in Columbus, Ohio, and when their flight though Washington, D.C., was canceled, they had to fly to Philadelphia.

There was only one seat on the direct flight from Philly to Jacksonville. The players had to decide who would take that one seat and get to Jacksonville on time for the first practice. Tousaaint knew Omameh, a starter on the offense, needed to be on that flight. Toussaint made the decision to put Omameh on the direct flight. He would take the long road to Jacksonville through Charlotte, thinking he was getting his teammate to Jacksonville first.

Ah, but the best laid plans sometimes go awry. The flight from Philly was cancelled and Omameh was stuck, and the Wolverines were without their starting right guard for two practices in Jacksonville. Toussaint, on the other hand, made [it] to Jacksonville late on the 26th.

Junior safety Mike Williams and freshman [defensive lineman] Quinton Washington also tried to make necessary moves to help the team when they reached their connecting flights in Atlanta. Williams' flight on Delta was leaving as scheduled, getting him into Jacksonville on time for the Sunday practice. Washington's flight was delayed. Williams, who played in two games this past year, knew it was important to get Washington, a nose tackle who has played in all 12 games, to Jacksonville first.

The players pleaded with Delta to switch the tickets, but in this day and age of travel, the airline's hands were tied. Williams made it to the Sunday practice, while Washington came in later that evening and was ready to go on Monday.

Decisions on the fly are something football players need to make on the field. These four players had to make decisions about how they would fly and the value to the team of their fellow teammates.

Echoing Madej, these stories show how these Wolverines first consider The Team in their decision making. Quite a contrast with some other behavior we've seen lately.

Nicely done, fellows.

Players Redshirting

Players Redshirting

Submitted by Tim on October 22nd, 2009 at 11:23 AM
Here's the current status of every (scholarship) player on the Michigan roster who has not yet taken a redshirt year. In order to be eligible to redshirt for the 2009 season, a player must have not played in any game past the 5th (Michigan State).
Player Western ND Eastern Indiana MSU Iowa Delaware State Redshirt
True seniors
Carlos Brown Started Started Started Started Started DNP DNP Nope
Stevie Brown Started Started Started Started Started Started Started Nope
Brandon Graham Started Started Started Started Started Started Started Nope
Greg Mathews Started Started Started Started Started Played Started Nope
Brandon Minor DNP Played Played Played Played Started DNP Nope
True Juniors
James Rogers Played Played Played Played Played Played Played Nope
Renaldo Sagesse Played Played Played Played Played DNP Played Nope
Donovan Warren Started Started Started Started Started Started Started Nope
Martell Webb Played Played Played Played Played Played Played Nope
Troy Woolfolk Started Started Started Started Started Started Started Nope
True Sophomores
Boubacar Cissoko Started Started Started Started Played DNP DNP Inj. Only - suspended
Kenny Demens Played Played Played Played Played Played Played Nope
JB Fitzgerald Played Played Played Played Played Played Played Nope
Kevin Koger Started Started Started Started Started Started DNP Nope
Mike Martin Started Started Started Started Started Started Started Nope
Martavious Odoms Started Started Started Started Started Started Started Nope
Mike Shaw Played DNP Played Played DNP Played Started Nope
Darryl Stonum Played Started Started Played Played Started Played Nope
True Freshmen
William Campbell Played Played Played DNP Played Played Played Nope
Vladimir Emilien Played Played Played Played DNP DNP Played Nope
Tate Forcier Started Started Started Started Started Started Started Nope
Brandin Hawthorne Played Played DNP Played DNP DNP Played Nope
Mike Jones DNP DNP DNP Played Played DNP DNP Inj. Only
Teric Jones Played Played Played Played DNP Played Played Nope
Denard Robinson Played Played Played Played Played Played Played Nope
Craig Roh Started Started Started Started Started Started Started Nope
Michael Schofield DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Yep
Vincent Smith Played DNP Played DNP Played Played Played Nope
Je'Ron Stokes Played Played Played DNP DNP DNP Played Nope
Fitzgerald Toussaint DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Yep
Quinton Washington DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Yep

Rich Rodriguez has said that Boubacar Cissoko is expected to return to the field this year once he clears up the issues that got him suspended. That means he won't be redshirting. Only freshmen will redshirt this year, then, and the list of eligible guys is as follows:

  • Isaiah Bell
  • Jeremy Gallon
  • Brendan Gibbons
  • Cameron Gordon
  • Thomas Gordon
  • Mike Jones (Injury redshirt only, as he's played in a couple games - but not the DSU blowout).
  • Anthony LaLota
  • Taylor Lewan
  • Michael Schofield
  • Fitzgerald Toussaint
  • Justin Turner
  • Quinton Washington

A couple of these guys might be in the mix for playing time later in the year (especially Jones, since he's already played), so keep your eyes peeled.