Annual Big Ten Network Practice Tweet Roundup

Submitted by Brian on August 12th, 2013 at 11:41 AM

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Derrick Green is a large man.

As per the title. This year's batch of impressions is pretty interesting. As always, organized by topic and translated from the twitterese. Standard disclaimer: this is one practice that's not even in pads, so a lot of position groups are basically impossible to evaluate. In particular I'd take the OL stuff with a grain of salt.

Dienhart has a full article on the experience; it doesn't appear that Howard Griffith was there this year, and he gave an interesting glimpse into the depth chart:

Here is who was running with the “ones” on defense today: Line, Tom Strobel; Chris Wormley (who is a specimen); Quinton Washington; Frank Clark. Linebackers, Joe Bolden; James Ross; Secondary, Blake Countess; Thomas Gordon; Jarrod Wilson; Courtney Avery; Raymon Taylor.

So 1), that's a nickel package, 2) Dymonte Thomas wasn't at the top of the depth chart, 3) Strobel and Wormley were your Day X starters at SDE and three-tech, respectively, and 4) Bolden was ahead of Morgan. That's so many changes from expectation that I'm betting that rotation is more experiment than depth chart indicator.

Even so you do get an indicator of who is not being challenged for a starting spot at present: Clark, Washington, Ross, the safeties, and Countess. Anyway, more things:

Quarterback

Devin Gardner looked great - in total command of the offense. He needs to stay healthy more than any player in B1G - Morris struggled a bit. Morris has a live arm and runs well too - just seemed a step behind - late on a number of throws. Will be very, very good in time.  –Dave Revsine [part 2]

As mentioned in Morris's recruiting profile, early struggles are expected.

Al Borges told me Devin Gardner loves to study film more than Denard Robinson did. Borges says Gardner is more athletic than Jason Campbell. –Dienhart

Was Denard a noted film guy? I don't recall that being part of the things people said about him except when he was being compared to Tate. The Campbell thing is obvious. Campbell could move around a little bit but was almost strictly a pocket passer. Rushing yards by year at Auburn: 72, 206, 1, 30.

Tailbacks

Derrick Green was dressed but not taking reps, FWIW.

Borges also said he needs a "war daddy" at RB, given that the run game now features the TB rather than QB. Not clear he has one yet. –Revsine

Fitz Toussaint showed no effects from his injury. Great burst through the line. –Revsine

Wyatt Shallman also got a lot of carries as a TB. Unclear if that's because Green wasn't involved in the reps. –Revsine

#Michigan true freshman Derrick Green has a body like Ironhead Heyward. –Dienhart

Heyward got huge in the NFL—like, may have pushed 300 pounds—but in college he was 240-260 and quite good at running: 1800 yards and a Heisman finalists from Pitt as a junior and a departure to the first round of the NFL draft.

Receivers

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Darboh impressed in a major way.

Da'Mario Jones had a nice one-handed catch as well. Lots of good young WR talent. Darboh has taken a particularly large leap. –Revsine

WR Amara Darboh looks primed for a breakout. Big, fast and physical –Dienhart

At #Michigan practice, WR Amara Darboh looked good. Al Borges marvels about how strong his hands are. He was running 1st team today. –Dienhart

Funchess is fantastic - serious match-up issue. They will use him well. –Revsine

Q: Who do you think will be the number one receiver for Gardner?

A: Gallon - but Darboh & Funchess right there. –Revsine

Offensive Line

As mentioned, a grain of salt here. There were no warning flags from this visit last year.

Little bit of a battle going on at C. Always give the caveat of it was just 1 practice on 1 day - but Glasgow delivered first snap. –Revsine

I asked Brady Hoke about interior of o-line; he told me all spots are still open. Lots of bodies. I have to think Kalis will get one spot. –Dienhart

Lewan is a very clear leader. Most of his leadership 2day was keeping young guys focused and loose. I observed a good exhange with DeVeon Smith –Revsine

Q: Does the interior of the OL look more athletic? Will the Gs be able to pull efficiently? [ed: almost certainly an mgoreader, right?]

A: Yes - OL looked good. –Revsine

Defensive Line

Taylor Lewan is really fun to be around - one of my favorite B1G interviews. He said Frank Clark reminds him of Clowney. As in Jadeveon. –Revsine

Fun to see Brady interact with DL (for me - not necessarily for DL) - really worked Ondre Pipkins hard. Clear they are counting on him. –Revsine

Q: Frank Clark warrant the off season hype?

A: Hard to say - they weren't in full pads. Teammates were raving, though. –Revsine

If there is a more impressive true freshman DE in the nation than Taco Charlton, I want to see him. Can't wait to see him in a year. –Dienhart

Chris Kiffin, the brother of Lane and Ole Miss defensive line coach/booster payment organizer, upheld the family honor by responding to this tweet with "Lol."

Linebacker

Nothing of note. Linebacker is another spot where no-pads means evaluation is hard, if not impossible. Bolden nominally running with the ones is interesting, but unless he's made a lot of progress at hitting people I don't think he's going to displace Morgan. Spell him for a few drives a game, sure. Start, no.

Safety

Mattison mentioned that Thomas Gordon has really emerged as a leader in the absence of Kovacs. –Revsine

Miscellaneous

This is really starting to look like a #Michigan football team - they are big, they're physical and they can really run. –Revsine

Defensive team can really run. I would say the validity of recruiting rankings was alive and well in AA today. –DiNardo

One of the most interesting things about the Chicago panel with myself, Sam Webb, and DiNardo was how DiNardo dismissed the usual coachspeak muttering about recruiting rankings. Instead he emphasized their importance and how the Big Ten's lag in that department was reflected on the field.

I love this coaching staff. There is a ton of teaching that goes on at their practices - giving constructive feedback after nearly ever rep. –Revsine

Assistant coaches do as good a job as anyone teaching technique. No music constantly playing helps staff teach. –DiNardo

The usual.

Once again got to watch one the the best D Line drills in college football. –DiNardo

I don't think he's referring to this one, but he might be?

Greg Mattison is really pleased with his defensive depth. Said there are several positions where he feels good going three deep. –Revsine

Um… WDE, SDE, CB(ish), maybe if you look at ILBs jointly.

Much like Ohio State, many of Michigan's freshmen look physically ready to play right now. Taco Charlton would be Exhibit A. Other true freshmen that stood out - De'Veon Smith, Dymonte Thomas, and Jourdan Lewis. Thomas had a nice diving pick, Lewis good PBU in the endzone. –Revsine. [Part 2]

I asked Hoke after practice which true freshmen who weren’t here in the spring who could impact. He mentioned Delano Hill and Jourdan Lewis in the secondary; Patrick Kugler on the o-line; Maurice Hurst on the d-line; Mike McCray at linebacker, among others. –Dienhart.

A little surprised it wasn't all-lifting, all-running Ben Gedeon that got a mention there instead of McCray. Also, Hurst is a bit of a surprise given how his weight has fluctuated (at least on paper): if he's really 270 instead of 302 I find it hard to believe he's going to push through to see playing time.

Q: The way UM/OSU have recruited, are you seeing a separation in talent?

A: Need to see everyone - but trending that way. –Revsine

I came away impressed with #Michigan. But most of best talent is young, so the Wolverines may be a year away. This is a well-coached team. –Dienhart

Yup.

Comments

tinapolley

August 13th, 2013 at 3:20 PM ^

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Blue in Yarmouth

August 12th, 2013 at 12:29 PM ^

but given the nickleback hate on this site (well deserved hate I might add) my wife told me this joke she heard a while back:

"If you have a nickleback cd/record and play it backwords you will here the voice of satan telling you to kill people. What's worse....if you play it forward you hear nickleback. "

Again, I don't know if that is an old joke or not, but I thought it was funny given how much everyone here dislikes them.

JimBobTressel

August 12th, 2013 at 11:56 AM ^

Darboh reminds me of another Iowa possesion/ downfield threat receiver, Adrian Arrington. Arrington was athletic (former QB), caught everything on 3rd down, ran great routes and sometimes struck for TDs deep. I was hoping his YMRMFSPA would be that.

orangeda

August 12th, 2013 at 1:29 PM ^

slender build with good length, though with a bit more speed, supposedly, where as Darboh is built more like a tank in a WR's body(most people say he could easily be mistaken for a LB).  He's actually built more like Braylon, though shorter and not as fast, either way, very excited to see how he develops based on all the good things we've been hearing about him.

gwkrlghl

August 12th, 2013 at 12:03 PM ^

So if you follow the Off-Season Rumor Rules (Believe 50% of the Hype, 100% of the Bad), I'd gather that Darboh really might break out into the #2 target (behind Gallon) and the interior of O-Line (maybe just center) will be iffy to start the year

I can't imagine similar levels of praise aren't handed out at most other schools so you really gotta sift through the "Yes. OL is good"

BiSB

August 12th, 2013 at 12:27 PM ^

And he took some... liberties. The article basically said that Bellomy might be the number 2 (which he was), Rawls looked like a pile-mover (which is fair), and Barnum looked to be strong, though he lacked some of Molk's traits like athleticism. None of it was exactly glowing.

So yeah, take this stuff with a grain of salt, but an appropriately sized grain of salt.

evenyoubrutus

August 12th, 2013 at 12:10 PM ^

Given how many corners they recruited whose profiles were very similar to Countess (height/weight, average ranking etc) I would certainly hope that at least one of them could have a similar freshman season. Perhaps Lewis will be that guy.

Blue_in_Cleveland

August 12th, 2013 at 1:06 PM ^

I wouldn't say they have recruited a lot of corners fitting Countess' profile. Stribling and Dawson are both 6'2 whereas Countess is 5'10. While Douglas is 5'10 he is a low 4*/borderline 3* whereas Countess was a consensus 4*, Army AA ranked in the 100's. Lewis is really the only one fitting that description (actually Lewis was ranked top 100 by several services). If you go back to last year to Richardson, he had a pretty similar profile (Under Armour AA, consensus 4*, ranked mostly in the 100's) albeit he was an inch shorter at 5'9. I have to imagine Lewis is competing with Richardson for the backup field corner position. The key difference this year though, is we don't have to rely on a true freshman stepping up. We actually have 2 returning starters (granted 1 missed a year, but it sounds like that hasn't hurt him) at CB and both seem to be at least average to well above average.

charblue.

August 12th, 2013 at 2:16 PM ^

to a second straight state title in the highest class of high school football in North Carolina. He has played in more than 35 games over the past two years and was both a wideout, cornerback and returner, and he was a threat at every position, scoring multiple touchdowns in several games last year on both offense and defense. He is a highly athletic 6'2 athlete with decent speed. His school produced Michigan starting safety Jamar Adams. 

The reason he was recruited is because he shined during a Michigan camp last year and demonstrated the capability described above. I fully expect this kid to surprise a lot of folks when he gets the chance to play. Stribling's team and class has produced a number of Division 1 recruits. And he is from the same school  as Auburn linebacker Kris Frost, who Michigan recruited during RichRod's final season. 

orangeda

August 12th, 2013 at 1:34 PM ^

and I know you're kidding, but Lewan has gone on record saying he has a ton of respect for Clowney's game and that he's the most talented player he's ever faced, so it's certainly high praise for Clark.

Let's hope Clark can start translating hype and practice performance to actual game results.

DonAZ

August 12th, 2013 at 1:36 PM ^

Frank Clark reminds Lewan of Clowney? Given Clowney's performance against Lewan, I wonder if that was a compliment.

I take it a compliment ... and a high one at that.

Sure ... Clowney was not disruptive in the bowl game, save for the one highlight reel hit on Smith.

But my impression was Lewan and Clowney were locked in a bit of a stalemate -- great player vs. great player, each neutralizing the other. 

What I can't recall is any post-game commentary by either player, Clowney or Lewan, about how well the other played, and how much they had to step up their own game to match the other. 

My guess is Lewan brought his A-game and Clowney was equal to it.  I recall an interview where Clowney specifically mentioned "that guy from Michigan" as one of the better he's faced, and this comment by Lewan is testament to his regard for Clowney ... and Clark.

stephenrjking

August 12th, 2013 at 12:31 PM ^

I'm not sure whether Gallon will be an Ann Arbor edition of Jerry Rice, or just a quality player emerging from a time of dearth at the receiver position this year. Either way, though, if Darboh and Funchess are right there with him this year as suggested, that is very encouraging.

We need some players to emerge at receiver for the next couple of years to bridge us to Campbell, or our offense is going to have problems. Funchess and Darboh have the potential if they can put it together.

dahblue

August 12th, 2013 at 12:43 PM ^

I haven't seen their comments on all the programs yet, but I did see some on the MSU visit.  I had assumed that they just throw out lots of sunshine, but the State comments felt like, "great defense, QB concerns, RB concerns, TE concerns".  

Heiko

August 12th, 2013 at 1:04 PM ^

Ahem.

  • Bolden ahead of Morgan is likely temporary. Morgan didn't practice Saturday, so I'm guessing he had some sort of boo boo.
  • No mention of Jibreel Black also probably has to do with a boo boo. 
  • Strobel is a 3-tech, Wormley is an SDE. 
  • No one beats Lewan in pass rush like ever.
  • Dymonte Thomas has been splitting time at backup nickel and backup safety.
  • I wouldn't count out Chris Bryant for LG. Other than Kalis, I think the other two interior line positions are pretty wide open. So yes, I am retracting my previous statement that Braden is a lock for LG.
  • I don't think Green and Beyer practiced this weekend. Still, the general sentiment is that Green will be fine. No idea about Beyer though.

Space Coyote

August 12th, 2013 at 1:12 PM ^

Some are probably wondering why Strobel is a 3-tech and Wormley a SDE. It's likely the same reason Black is a 3-tech rather than a SDE, and it has to do with holding up to double teams at this point. Strobel is probably better as an undersized slicing 3-tech that doesn't face as many doubles than he is at 5-tech where it's more important he simply requires to be doubled. Wormley is a little bigger though, and can likely hold up and make plays out of the 5-tech position. I don't have evidence of this, but that would be my assumption right now.

Bodogblog

August 12th, 2013 at 1:15 PM ^

Great news on Bryant.  The lack of mention recently made me think he'd been passed by (even as RS sophmore).  Even if he doesn't take the job, if he's right there it gives us depth and an idea of who steps in next year when Braden moves to tackle.

Blue_in_Cleveland

August 12th, 2013 at 1:17 PM ^

I see you mentioned that Morgan didn't practice. Do you know if Black practiced? I agree Morgan seems too good to be passed up on the depth chart (although I don't disagree that Bolden should still see lots of time as well), but it doesn't seem inconceivable that Black could be passed up. Also, is the comment on Strobel's and Wormley's positions due to observation or supposition? Wormley is a lot bigger (well, heavier) so I just assume he would be inside with Strobel on the outside.

Space Coyote

August 12th, 2013 at 1:56 PM ^

From what I hear from my sources - which don't exist - is that Wormley is better at defending the bubble screen from the 5-tech, and Borges has just surprise attacked the defense all Fall camp so far by bubble screening at least 50% of the time to the strong side. It sounds crazy, but it's what I've gathered from a nonsensical thought process based on nothing what-so-ever.

Could you possibly touch on that Heiko? Maybe ask Borges if 50% of his plays are bubble screens now at the next presser? TIA.

Space Coyote

August 12th, 2013 at 1:26 PM ^

I'm guessing the goal is to have them somewhat interchangable eventually. As Heiko said, Strobel likely won't see the field a lot this year. May be just moving them around to give Wormley practice at both for now, while they are likely to get the majority of their snaps for the time being at the positions Heiko said.

bronxblue

August 12th, 2013 at 1:08 PM ^

Everyone is high on Clark, but I just hope he can provide a moderate amount of pass rush. The fact he keeps getting hyped almost worries me at this pint. The best players you just kind of expect to be great, so no need to talk them up. But still optimistic.