Wolverines in Japan 2017 X-League Quarter-Finals

Wolverines in Japan 2017 X-League Quarter-Finals

Submitted by Carcajou on November 13th, 2017 at 9:21 AM

It was the 99th anniversary of the Armistice concluding World War I, which ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year. The Nojima Sagamihara Rise kicked off their quarterfinal game at 11 AM on 11/11 (Japan Time), but their season lasted only a few hours more.

The weather was fine for a change- wind and rain affected many of their regular season games, including their 14-0 loss to the Obic Seagulls in September. But this time, there was no such excuse.  Devin Gardner and the 3rd-seeded Rise suffered one of their most miserable performances of the season with a shocking nine turnovers, losing to the 6th-seeded Seagulls 41-22, and knocking them out of the playoffs.

Sagamihara's opening drive went three and out, and they proceeded to turn the ball over on their next five possessions- including four times in five offensive plays and a muffed kickoff return.  Meanwhile Obic scored three TDs and two field goals the first five times it had the ball, and led 27-0 by early in the 2nd quarter.

While they outgained the Seagulls 441 to 336, the Rise were simply dominated by the Obic defense. “We couldn’t run the ball, so now we’re passing it the whole game. Jump off the bus, 14 down,” said Gardner.

Gardner and the Rise finally responded with an 86 yard drive for a TD, and nearly had another on a 65 yard drive when Sione Houma carried it to the Seagull's one yard line. But Nojima was stopped on the final play of the first half.

Devin did hit Takahide Dejima on a 9 yard scoring pass mid-way through the 3rd quarter to make it 27-13, but that was as close as they got.

For the most part, Nojima's receivers were no match for Obic's physical defensive secondary, and their defensive line was putting relentless pressure on Gardner all throughout the game. “They got pressure whenever they wanted,” he said. Seagull’s defensive end B.J. Beatty said they only blitzed about 10% of the time. Beatty and Kevin Jackson and the rest of the Obic defensive line continually overwhelmed the Sagamihara offensive line, and Jackson and Beatty even had one interception apiece.

Devin was frustrated throughout the game and disappointed afterward, and said it was difficult for Nojima because they couldn't run the ball, so play action passes had little effect. Leaving more in to block didn’t seem to help either, and Obic was in tight zone coverage downfield. The Seagulls were jumping all the quick timing routes, and the rush was too fierce for slower developing routes.  

On defense, Mario Ojemudia was credited with one assist and three tackles, including two sacks.

Gardner, who often had Seagulls defenders hanging on to him as he threw, was 27 of 52 for 378 yards and 2 touchdowns, but with a season-high 6 interceptions. Devin admitted that sometimes, “You just got to chuck it and see what happens…You got to hope your guys make a play for you.” Unfortunately, not enough plays were made by his teammates, although Yuhei Yagi did have10 catches for 148 yards and one touchdown.

Gardner also ran or scrambled 11 times for 30 yards, and Houma carried 9 times for 36 yards and a fumble, and caught two passes for 15 yards.

Obic will meet rival Fujitsu in Kawasaki in one semi-final game on 11/26 in a rematch of the regular season finale won 13-10 by the Frontiers in overtime; while the IBM Big Blue will go down to Osaka to face the top-seeded Panasonic Impulse for the other semi-final.  The Japan X Bowl will be held on December 18th at Tokyo Dome. The winner will face the collegiate champion in the Rice Bowl, traditionally held on January 3rd.

After going back to the States to spend some time with friends and families, Devin said the Wolverine alumni will evaluate their plans for next season.

Wolverines in Japan 2017 Regular Season Game 6

Wolverines in Japan 2017 Regular Season Game 6

Submitted by Carcajou on October 30th, 2017 at 4:17 AM

In sloppy, wet, rainy conditions from yet another typhoon drenching Japan, the Nojima Sagamihara Rise fell to the Panasonic Impulse 28-26 to close out their regular season in front of a sparse crowd at Yokohama Stadium.

The Rise went no-huddle and took an early 7-0 lead, as a long drive featuring mostly runs by QB Devin Gardner and a healthy RB Sione Houma took Nojima to the Impulse 3, and Gardner hit Yuhei Yagi for the TD.

Gardner was 12-29 passing for 160 yards in the game, with a touchdown and an interception. He connected with Yagi on 7 throws for 55 yards.

In the 2nd Quarter Panasonic scored on a QB keep on the Inverted Veer by Benjamin Anderson (University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff). That was quickly answered when Toshira Maejima returned the ensuing kickoff 87 yards and Houma bulled his way from 11 yards out on the next play. Houma finished with 18 carries for 53 yards and two TDs.

But Panasonic then scored twice in the last 1:19 of the first half on a couple of quick drives sandwiching a Nojima three-and-out, and the score was 21-14 at the half in favor of the Impulse.

In the 3rd Quarter, Houma took a pitch from Gardner and scored from 3 yards out, but the try for point was no good, and Panasonic clung to a 21-20 lead.

A muffed snap by the Impulse punter gave Nojima the ball at the +32 and they drove to the 18. But a fumble on a scramble by Gardner ended that threat.

With an exchange of punts, Panasonic made a 69 yard drive count midway through the 4th Quarter. Anderson, slogging through the baseball marshland, was the beneficiary of several missed tackles on the drive (including a potential sack by Mario Ojemudia), and scored on a 1 yard sneak to make it 28-20. Ojemudia had six tackles and one sack, but missed a few more due to the slippery conditions on the field.

Gardner responded with a drive of his own, using a couple of runs by Houma and several by himself, then scoring a TD on an option keep with 1:43 left, to bring the deficit to two points. Gardner's pass on the conversion attempt was knocked down, however, so the score remained 28-26.

The unsuccessful onside kick resulted in Panasonic taking over at midfield. But Nojima's use of timeouts, an illegal motion penalty, and a poor punt gave the Rise a chance with the ball at their own 39 with 43 seconds left. Gardner completed several passes to move Nojima into scoring position. But a fake Spike Go for an apparent touchdown was called back for Offensive Pass Interference, moving them back to the 45. Then Gardner's final three throws- including a Hail Mary to the end zone as time expired- fell incomplete, and gave Panasonic the victory.

The Rise outgained the Impulse 344 to 289 for the game, and Anderson only managed 96 yards passing for the impulse (throwing 9-14). But that was enough for them to manage the victory and finish first in the standings in the regular season at 6-0. Nojima (4-2) finished third, behind the Fujutsu Frontiers.

In the second game of the tripleheader at Yokohama, Fujitsu (5-1) defeated the Obic Seagulls 13-10 with a TD in overtime.

Nojima will next meet Obic in the league quarter-finals played on November 11th (Armistice Day) at Yokohama Stadium. Coincidentally (or perhaps ironically?), kickoff happens to be scheduled for 11 AM.

Obic, regularly a league powerhouse, shut out Nojima 14-0 in the second game of the regular season, but finished the season with a disappointing 3-3 record, also losing to IBM (34-36) and Panasonic (13-16) only good enough for sixth place.

Wolverines in Japan 2017 Regular Season Game 3

Wolverines in Japan 2017 Regular Season Game 3

Submitted by Carcajou on October 3rd, 2017 at 10:30 AM

The Nojima Rise bounced back from their disappointing 14-0 loss to the Obic Seagulls with an impressive 49-42 victory over the IBM Big Blue.

Devin Gardner accounted for all seven Rise touchdowns, throwing for four TDs and rushing for three more and two-point conversion, totalling 505 yards of total offense.

Gardner seemed to have his best game yet for Nojima, completing 27-37 and 405 yards passing with one interception. Gardner carried the ball 11 times for 100 yards, and Sione Houma gained 49 yards on seven carries and a 1-yard touchdown catch that tied the game at 14-14 after the conversion. Houma appeared to injure his ankle on the touchdown and did not return.

The Rise led 35-21 at halftime.

Mario Ojemudia recorded a sack and an interception on a tipped ball.

The Rise, who finished 1-5 last season losing nearly all their games late by within a touchdown, are now 2-1 along with IBM, Obic, Lixil, and Elecom, behind Super 9 division leader Panasonic (4-0) and Fujitsu (3-1).

The next game for the Rise will be October 9th against the Lixil Deers.

Wolverines in Japan 2017 Regular Season Game 2

Wolverines in Japan 2017 Regular Season Game 2

Submitted by Carcajou on September 17th, 2017 at 6:39 AM

Typhoon Talim certainly played a part, but costly Devin Gardner turnovers- twice when they had reached the red zone-  and some solid play from the Obic Seagulls resulted in a 14-0 loss for the the Nojima Rise. It was their first loss of the 2017 X-League regular season.

Steady rain and intermittent wind affected game plans somewhat, as both teams tried to establish their running games. Sione Houma, who saw limited action in the season opener, carried the ball 12 times for 57 yards. His counterpart Taku Lee carried the ball 18 times for 84 yards, while Asaki Mochizuki- the other half of what has been dubbed Obic's "Thunder & Lightning" backfield- gained 48 yards on ten carries and had one TD.

Obic QB Shun Sugawara also ran seven times for 13 yards, including the first score of the game, an 8 yard run on their second possesion. Gardner picked up 47 yards on a dozen carries on the ground. Gardner was 14-28 in the air with three interceptions, while Sugawara completed 9 of 13 and no intereceptions.

On the third play of the game, Gardner was hit by DE Kevin Jackson (U of Hawaii) as he threw and the ball was intercepted by Obic DB Takeshi Miyake. When Sugawara scored on their second posession, Obic had a 7-0 lead.

Early in the second quarter, Nojima took possession at their own 4, and Gardner took them on a 12 play, 77-yard drive, mixing up runs by Houma, Takeshi Miyako, and himself, and short passes and WR screens. But on 3rd & 8 from the Seagull 19 yard-line, Gardner tried to float a screen pass to Houma. The ball was deflected and intercepted by Jackson to kill the drive, and the half ended 7-0.

Both teams started the second half with solid drives. Obic took the second half kickoff and drove 62 yards on 12 plays, with Mochizuki scoring from 11 yards out for the Seagull's second score, so it was 14-0.

After the kickoff, the Rise started from their own 10, and Gardner responded with an impressive 89 yard drive in 11 plays. On one third down play, as he was about to be tackled near the sideline Devin made a two-handed toss to a receiver to get the first down and a gain of 15. On another, Gardner used his unusually long stride to leap just past the first down marker.

Nojima drove near the Obic goal line and looked like they were about to score. But on 2nd and goal from the 6, Gardner tried to run through the middle. As he approached the goal line, he tried to reach out and put the ball across the line. The ball was knocked out, and the Seagulls recovered.

On their next possession, after  taking them near midfield, Gardner was intercepted when he tried to throw on a deep post by Seagull Safety Keizaburo Ichigawa.

Gardner seemed to be trying to do a bit too much, and his receivers seemed to lack some of the confidence and aggressivenss they had showed in their opening game against the Bulls.

Mario Ojemudia had three TFL, including two sacks.

After the game Gardner confessed that he was disappointed in his performance saying you can't expect to commit four turnovers and win such games. Houma said while he was glad to become a bigger part of the offense,"We have a lot to work on. A lot to work on."

Both teams are now 1-1. Obic players and coaches were glad to get the win, and said they expect to see the Rise again in the playoffs later in the fall.

Wolverines in Japan 2017 Regular Season Game 1

Wolverines in Japan 2017 Regular Season Game 1

Submitted by Carcajou on September 5th, 2017 at 7:23 AM

The Nojima Rise began their regular season with a resounding win over the Bulls football club, 84-0. Devin Gardner threw for three touchdowns, and ran for three more.

Naoki Arai ran back the opening kickoff for Nojima, and the Rise scored touchdowns on every possesion except for an interception of Gardner on their second series.

With the lopsided nature of the game, the three Michigan Wolverine alumni saw intermittent action. Mario Ojemudia (wearing #53) had three tackles, including a fumble recovery, while Sione Houma (#39) picked up 9 yards on four carries.

Devin Gardner (again wearing #98), seems to be feeling comfortable in his second year in Japan, as he completed 7 of 10 passed for 141 yards and three TDs and one INT, and also picked up 27 yards on five carries running the ball.

Gardner only played in the first half, as the Rise led 56-0 at halftime. He has taken on the role of training his two backup QBs by "trying to create some chaos in practice, so they don't get so rattled in games."

Gardner said he enjoyed the the chance to play live, "It was good to get our feet wet, because I hadn't been hit at all since spring," and was glad to see the start of the regular season. He said Sione and Mario would probably prefer to have played a little stiffer competition. They'll certainly get that chance in their next game on September 17th, when they take on perennial powerhouse Obic Seaguls.

With the time difference and a game scheduled that afternoon, they were only able to catch the second half (lucky them!) of the Michigan win over Florida, but they were quite pleased with the result and the directions both Michigan and their own team seem to be headed.

M Vision & Decisive Running POSBANG!

M Vision & Decisive Running POSBANG!

Submitted by MayOhioEatTurds on January 1st, 2016 at 4:52 PM

Not many expected Michigan to have a successful running game in the Citrus Bowl.  (I confess I didn’t expect it either.)

Not many were right.

Michigan’s running game had success from the first series.  And this running success was not predicated exclusively on OL play:

Instead, running success was predicated on vision and decisive cuts the likes of which Michigan has not seen in many a year.

De’Veon Smith, not known for vision but relentlessness, led the charge;

Drake Johnson got into the action on stretch plays for touchdown;

Houma did his own jitterbug impression for positive yards;

Resulting in 225 decisive, magnificent, inspired yards!

What made the difference from season play?  How was that change made in so few weeks?  Can vision be taught?

All Hail Wheatley!

All Hail Harbaugh!

Hopkins and Houma as Hester

Hopkins and Houma as Hester

Submitted by JeepinBen on August 1st, 2012 at 9:52 PM

No, not this one 

This one

Much has been made of the fact that we once again have a 3-Deep of fullbacks – including 2 on scholarship. They’ve been discussed often as ‘fullbackian fullbacks who fullback in fullbackian ways’ or something similar, but I think that Borges has more plans for these guys than just being a “classic” Michigan fullback. To break it down simply, there are 2 schools of fullbacks: The 6’ 240lb linebacker-meeters like this guy

- great fullback name or greatest fullback name?

and the West-Coast Fullback.

Now the 1st type of fullback has one job and one job only – lead blocker. Out of the I he hits the hole before the running back and takes out the first defender he sees.

This type of fullback often drove many including the fearless leader Brian and myself to anger when we would line up in an I, the fullback would shuffle-shuffle-shuffle one direction and totally tell the defense where the run was going.

 

(14 seconds in. It worked, but it was Purdue)

I don’t believe that’s what we’ll be getting with Borges. I believe that Borges will be asking a lot more of his fullbacks, he actually already has. In the same vein, Hopkins is a converted RB who has handled the ball a lot and Houma is a triple-option FB who rushed for a ton of yards in high school. Also I think the best corollary to what we’ll see from our fullbacks in the future (Hopkins and Houma) is how Jacob Hester has been used, both at LSU and on the Chargers.

We’ve seen that Borges treats the fullback as a receiver (5:58 of the clip below. Thanks to SC Wolverine for finding it)

We saw often that Borges isn’t afraid to line up in a heavy I, split out the tailback, and hand it to the fullback on a dive. Sometimes with great, sometimes with terrible – THEN GREAT – results.

(See 4:59. Hell, just watch it all again in all its glory)

Doing this like 5 times in goal line situations of course lead to easy rollout Denard TDs on a fake dive as well.

Jacob Hester is listed (now, as a 5year pro) at 5'11”  235#. The new weights from B1G media days list Hopkins at 235# and Houma at 221#. Looking at some clips of Hester Highlights from the Chargers we see a couple of designed fullback pass plays:

Let’s hope we get a lot of those TDs from Hopkins and Houma going forward. 

An Interview with FB Sione Houma

An Interview with FB Sione Houma

Submitted by Magnus on March 14th, 2012 at 7:49 AM

Andrew did an interview with Sione Houma late last week and posted it this morning over at TTB.  He talks about the importance of the fullback position and what size the coaches want him to be, along with his favorite instrument to play.  Plus there's a separate video interview embedded.

TomVH: Weekly Update: Chris Fox, Chris Wormley, LaQuon Treadwell and More

TomVH: Weekly Update: Chris Fox, Chris Wormley, LaQuon Treadwell and More

Submitted by TomVH on June 27th, 2011 at 11:50 AM

It was a busy weekend for Michigan with both Chris Wormley and Kyle Kalis making it in to visit. With roughly ten spots left (Ed: Now 9!), remaining recruits are watching every move, and Michigan's coaches must be strategic in their actions. Here's a look at what's been happening and what could happen next. As always you can follow me on Twitter here, and if you have any tips or questions email me at [email protected].

Chris FoxChris Fox (2013)

6'6", 297 lbs.

Offensive Lineman

Parker, Colorado


Fox was a standout performer at Michigan's camp this past week. The Michigan coaches liked the 2013 prospect so much that they offered him once he left.

I talked to Coach Hoke and Coach Funk and they offered me. I got a Colorado offer a few weeks ago, too. The [Michigan coaches] told me that I fit what they're trying to accomplish, and that I look like a Michigan guy. 

Fox traveled all the way from Colorado to Michigan just to camp, the trip ended up being well worth the distance. Not only did he get his offer but he also started the foundation for a relationship with Coach Funk.

I'm definitely comfortable with Coach Funk and all the coaches there now. Coach Funk was out in Colorado and stopped by our school and I actually have some family that lives up in Michigan. I love Michigan, they have great football and it would be awesome to go there. Both my parents were born and raised in Michigan too. My family is kind of split in half with Michigan and Michigan State fans. Right now I've only heard from Michigan, MSU hasn't really contacted me.

The camp gave Fox a good look at how the Michigan coaches interact with players and a good feel for the campus.

I'd definitely like to get out [to Michigan] for a game this season. It would be great to get out there. I liked everything, the campus was incredible and the Big House is incredible. I don't have a list yet, I'm just going through the process with open eyes looking for my best fit. As of right now Michigan and Colorado are my top two because they've offered.

Now that he's been on campus and gained a level of comfort with the staff, he feels great about what Michigan has to offer and where he is in the process.

It just feels good to know that I have options this early and it feels good to know that I could go there. I'd like to make my decision before my senior year so that's probably what I'll do, sometime next summer. 

Fox is a name that seems to be popping up all over the place now, so I wouldn't be surprised if he got some big time attention soon. Early offers for offensive lineman are usually good signs of talent level and Fox should be right up near the top.

Christopher WormleyChris Wormley

6'4", 255 lbs.

Defensive End

Toledo, Ohio


Wormley made a visit up to Ann Arbor this weekend. He's been relatively quiet lately and generally doesn't like talking to the media. I did catch up with him via text to see how his visit went, and where he's going from here. He briefly said the following.

It went very well. Yes I definitely came closer to a decision. My family and girlfriend [went on the visit], and I loved every part of it, but joking around with the coaches was the best part. 

I asked if he knew when he would like to make his announcement or decision and he said he will make it when it feels it's right. I can't imagine that it would be much longer though. This visit seems to have been a positive for Michigan moving him in the right direction, so we'll see when it happens.

LaQuon Treadwell (2013)

6'3", 190 lbs.

Wide Receiver

Crete, Illinois


Treadwell is the younger teammate of 2012 Michigan commit Anthony Standifer. LaQuon accompanied Standifer on his visit to Ann Arbor and immediately saw what his teammate liked so much about Michigan.

Going in I expected it to be great and that's what it was. I think it was overall a great experience, the buildings, the field, and the coaches were great. The field and the academic center where you do all your class work were probably the best parts.

Since he's new to the process he feels that he benefited from Standifer's presence on the visit.

Anthony was asking most of the questions so I was picking off of him and just going off of what he was saying. I'll probably do what Anthony did and decide in the summer too. He talks to me about Michigan a lot and him being committed there helps them with me.

Their coach does not let them visit other schools or decommit once they have committed to a school, so he wants to make sure he gets it right. Treadwell has also been hearing from Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue, and Vanderbilt.

Who's Left?

With 16 17 commitments already in this class it seems likely that Michigan will have most of their spots filled by the time the season hits. Here's who's left and where they are in the process.

Offensive line (1-2):

  • Nashville OL Blake Bars: Committed on Sunday.
  • Ohio OL Kyle Kalis: Just took a visit to Michigan. He isn't saying much to reporters right now, but I did speak to him today. I wouldn't be surprised if he makes his decision very soon. There are a lot of rumors out there, but like I said he's not saying much in public so be careful what you believe. 
  • Illinois OL Jordan Diamond: Michigan is still in great position, as they always have been. Jordan's mother says that she's not sure when his decision will come but she wouldn't be surprised if he waited until after the season. He's gone back and forth so we'll just have to wait and see his final decision.
  • Pennsylvania OL Adam Bisnowaty: His athletic director told me that ideally Adam would like to take a few official visits then decide. Adam has also been quiet (a theme here) but I should have something from him soon. He seems to be a forgotten name, but the Michigan coaches do really like him.
  • Arizona OL Andrus Peat: I also reported how Peat's visit to Michigan went a week ago. Don't get too excited about Peat yet, I still think he ends up elsewhere but stranger things have happened. 
  • Washington OL Joshua Garnett: Recently put Michigan in his top eleven and told me back in May that he would like to take an official visit to Michigan, which he still maintains. I should have more on him this week, but spots remaining could end up being an issue here depending on timelines and decisions of his peers.
  • Washington OL Zach Banner: The same can be said for Banner as with Garnett. Timing and space might hinder this, but we'll see how it plays out.

Defensive Line (2-3):

  • Missouri DT Ondre Pipkins: He told me last week that he will be making a visit to Michigan in July or August, we'll see which one it ends up being. He also might choose to move up his decision, which is interesting.
  • Michigan DT Danny O'Brien: Performed well at Michigan's camp this past weekend and told me the coaches were impressed. He also told me the Michigan coaches expressed that they want one interior lineman, which seems to be between Pipkins, O'Brien, and kind of Sheldon Day. I do think there is still a chance they could take both. O'Brien would ideally like to take a couple official visits, but is also watching what Pipkins does in his recruitment.
  • Ohio DE Adolphus Washington: He and teammate Dwayne Stanford are still trying to reschedule their trip to Ann Arbor. Stanford told me they are waiting because of the Fourth of July holiday. I don't think we'll know how interested they really are until they visit. They both were very fond of Ohio State so it could be interesting how it plays out.
  • Ohio DE Chris Wormley: As mentioned above Michigan is in good shape with Chris and he's going to announce when he feels he's ready.

Safety (1):

  • Ohio S Jarrod Wilson: I posted a few days ago that Wilson will be announcing in July 8th at 2:30pm EST per his coach's email and press release. 

Others:

  • The other prospects Michigan is recruiting like Bri'onte Dunn, Ron Thompson, Aaron Burbridge, Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson, Alden Hill, EJ Fatu, and Sione Houma are still somewhat in limbo. Dunn, for example is still committed to Ohio State according to his father. His father told me Bri'onte would be at Ohio State's camp this past week and it looks like that happened. I still believe they're waiting to see what the sanctions are before making a move.

Extra:

PA running back Greg Garmon told me that he received an offer from Ohio State this weekend. I was told that he worked out at camp as a defensive back and may have been offered as an athlete. It's interesting to say the least that he received an offer from them. He also told me that Michigan is still in it for him and that he, "Loves them."

New Jersey ATH Devin Fuller told me that he's not sure of the exact date but he would still like to make it out to Michigan this summer.