Dear Diary is Still Decimated (I of II)

Submitted by Seth on March 27th, 2011 at 5:44 PM

TheRodfatherPartIII_thumb TurnerTattoo gigglyhoke

DDIII, John T. Greilick/The Detroit News, MGoBlue

The Spring Roster has been updated again. It still doesn't list new weights so I'm not going to bother with Weight Gain 2011 for now, but it's excuse enough for me to do a little delving. First, a couple of tidbits:

  • Jihad Rasheed!
  • Ricardo Miller is listed as a TE (and 6'4, 215). As with all things Ricardo-related, please mentally insert "Ninja." Too early for YMRMFSPA Tim Massaquoi? Yes.
  • There are still 12 scholarship players still listed at receiver.
  • Mike Williams is no longer on the roster. As expected, the concussion last year ended a disappointing career for a by accounts good guy. I hope he finds sucWill Heiningercess in life after football, and that his dreams aren't too haunted by visions of 11 foot tall robot Juice Williams.
  • Safety watch: M-Rob, Furman, Hawthorne, Carvin, Prison Abs, and Kovacs are your scholarship players listed as "S."
  • Heininger back on the 2-Deep: It's a good thing we're recruiting defensive ends. RVB and Roh are the only scholarship upperclassmen on the roster; Jibreel Black is the only other schollied-player listed. Wilkins, Talbott the Elder, and Ash are listed as DTs; Jake Ryan and Paskorz are LBs. Since Steve Watson is back at TE, at least one and most likely two of the freshmen Beyer, Rock or Heitzman will need to play this year. If Roh or RVB miss any extended time, file the transfer of Anthony LaLota as a greater-than-zero bad thing.
  • Marell Evans is officially back and wearing his old No. 9. Evans was a 2- or 3-star linebacker recruit in Lloyd's "oh god we need LBs and DBs" class of 2007, and started a few games as a redshirt freshman in '08 in a Ray Vinopal-is-your-starting-FS kind of way before falling behind Thompson, Ezeh and Mouton. He transferred the summer before the 2009 season on "good terms" but left pointing out he had three DCs from '07-'09 and didn't fit with GERG's system. Marell rather quietly returned to the program this winter (not because Rich Rod's gone) and is listed as a 5th year senior.

Stray thoughts:

  • Nobody minded the decision at the time, but in retrospect the decision to make Shafer the goat after '08 rather than butt out of the defense may have been the crucible of the RR era.
  • Evans:In/Vinopal:Out could be a microcosm of the dichotomy between the RR and Hoke/Lloyd regimes: one early playing 2-star is a tiny speed bug; the other is a 6'3 sure tackler who can't move laterally. This would be a good lead for a "Hoke = Return to Pre-Rod" column…if you're Lynn Henning.
  • Attrition on the defensive side is still going to be hurting M's defense this year.
  • Did someone say "defensive attrition?"
  • Here we go again…

The Decimated Defense Revisited

GERGfatherIII - image created by Misopogon

Yes, I'm going there again. We have two more years of data to see how things have progressed, for one. We have a wide disparity in expectations for next year's defense, for two. And three: I now know how to use pivot tables on Excel – that would have been really helpful last time. This week I'm going to go through Michigan's 2007-2011 classses to re-establish our baseline. I'll also link you to my full list of attrition and retention in case you can add any thoughts before next week.

The Expectation Tracker is an estimate of how much the class is contributing compared to the average of five other schools for which I tracked attrition: Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, Notre Dame, and Alabama. The baseline is the average number of defensive players left from that class between those five schools.

Class of 2007 (5th Year Seniors)

Attrition: 4/9 recruits remaining (Avg. retention = 4/10)

Position Breakdown (DL-LBs-DBs): 2-3-4 recruited / 1-2-1 remaining (Avg. = 1-1-2) So running count, we're up a linebacker and down a DB.

Star Breakdown: 4-3-3-2 remaining (Avg. = 4-4-4-2)

Gone: Donovan Warren (Early NFL after '09), Michael Williams (bust, injury, unrenewed 5th), Artis Chambers (transfer in '08), Renaldo Sagesse (Graduated after '10), Austin Panter (JUCO, Graduated after '08).

warrenandfredoRemaining: Troy Woolfolk (Starting CB), Ryan Van Bergen (Starting DE), Brandon Herron (backup SLB), Marell Evans (backup LB)

Walk-On: Kevin Leach (backup MLB)

Discussion: I think you would expect the 5th year class to leave a few B+ guys with a few years of starting experience. The trueborn talent probably found their ways to the NFL, either through early entry or contributing since their true freshman seasons. The 2007 class, recruited from the tail end of the "Year of Infinite Pain" and through the undefeated-till-OSU 2006 season, leaves two such players on defense: Woolfolk and Van Bergen.

Warren was the surprise "horray" commit of the year. Van Bergen was a Zettel, i.e. a 4-star who would be the highest rated player of a typical State of Michigan crop. Michigan whiffed on a lot of top players, and the fallbacks were uninspiring or worse: UCLA and Oregon had backed off from Michael Williams, so there were some red flags around him long before Juice Williams shattered him. Chambers was a 2-star early enrollee who transferred Ball State and couldn’t crack the two-deep.

Panter was a stop-gap JUCO for a scary-thin depth chart, Evans a low 3-star from Brandon Minor’s school who saw the field a few times before losing his job to Mouton in 2008; he transferred to Hampton (FCS) and was eh before returning this year. Herron was a 3-star boom-or-bust from the Shawn Crable school of athletic DEs too small to play DE. Renaldo Sagesse was a 20-year-old Canadian. Troy Woolfolk was a legacy whom the big local Texas schools didn't offer.

So if you'd asked me to predict in 2007 what that class would leave for 2011, a B+ defensive back and a B+ lineman plus some depth guys would be on the low end but still within expectations. On the other hand, for a class recruited after an 11-2 Rose Bowl season, you would expect a bit more.

Expectation Meter: 3. Baseline 4. +1 for Woolfolk, –1 for Williams, –1 for recruiting whiffs at LB and not getting some backup CBs.


Class of 2008 (Seniors, RS Juniors)

Attrition: 4/8 recruits remaining (Avg. retention = 9/12) (!)

Position Breakdown (DL-LBs-DBs): 1-4-3 recruited / 1-2-1 remaining (Avg. = 3-3-3). Running: –2 DL, +0 LB, –3 DB

Star Breakdown: 4-4-4-3 (Avg. = 4-4-4-4-4-3-3-3-2)

Q: If an Indiana running back leaves his backfield at 4:15 p.m. and your walk-on safety leaves his zone at 4:15:03, what time will they meet? A: Fuck! Gone: Boubacar Cissoko (Dismissed in '09), Brandon Smith (Transfer in '09), Marcus Witherspoon (Did not qualify), Taylor Hill (transfer before '08)

Remaining: J.T. Floyd (Starting CB), Mike Martin (Starting DT/NT), J.B. Fitzgerald (Backup SLB, possible starter), Kenny Demens (Starting MLB)

Walk-On: Jordan Kovacs (Starting SS)

Discussion: The meat of a starting group ideally comes from the 4th and 3rd year ranks. To compete for a Big Ten title in '11, the '08 class would preferably contribute at least four starters, one or two of them NFL-bound stars. The hybrid Lloyd/RR class was mostly Carr’s on defense; RR recruited Taylor Hill, who stepped on campus, presumably met the coeds, and took the first bus out of town. The rest were players recruited primarily by the old staff, even if some signed after an heir was announced. Bloggers clamored for more cornerbacks (and got the first wave of slot ninjas).

At points during the ensuing three years this class looked more and more like Mike Martin and disaster. The late emergence of Demens last year means we got at least one Big Ten player out of the four linebackers. Martin is fantastic, even when playing a position that doesn't best take advantage of his talents. Floyd seemed to regress before his injury in 2011, but at his best (see Ohio State 2009) he's a not-fast cornerback who survives on brains, effort and grit. When he's not his best, he misses open field tackles and gives up huge plays. Fitz will have the inside shot at the SAM linebacker position but was so bad at it last year he ended up rotating with Obi Ezeh. Cissoko's story is of the Kelly Baraka variety (kid with no prior problems who develops lots on campus) that nails any school every decade or so. Smith hung around then departed when it was clear the defense was going to be terrible until he was a senior (at which point he would have probably been really useful at the Will spot).

Expectation Meter: 3 - Guh. Baseline 9. –5 for attrition. +1 because Martin is a beast, –1 J.B. Fitz is underwhelming so far, –1 hey, while you're out there trying to convince Pryor that winning the Heisman is better than a free Corvette, could you maybe try and get us another cornerback?


Class of 2009 (Juniors, RS Sophomores)

Attrition: 6/10 recruits remaining + 2 pos. switches, so 8/10 (Avg. retention = 9/10)

Position Breakdown (DL-LBs-DBs): 3-3-4 recruited / 3-4-1 retained (Avg. = 3-3-3) Running: –2 DL, +1 LB, –5 DB (!) and (!) again!

Star Breakdown: 5-4-4-4-3-3-3-3 (Avg. = 5-4-4-4-3-3-3-3-2)

Gone: Justin Turner (transferred before '10), Vlad Emilien (transferred before '10), Anthony LaLota (transferred before '10), Adrian Witty (did not qualify)

Remaining: Will Campbell (Starting DT?), Craig Roh (Starting WDE), Mike Jones (Starting WLB?), Brandin Hawthorne (backup WLB), Isaiah Bell (backup SLB), Thomas Gordon (Backup S)

Moved from Offense: Cam Gordon (Starting WLB?), Quinton Washington (backup DT)

roh Discussion: The juniors are the guys expected to make the big leap close to their ultimate effectiveness. The class was kind of weak against previous Michigan classes, and really strong for teams that finish 3-9. Given this class was entirely recruited by Rodriguez's staff, the high attrition (40%) due to playing time (!), is really irksome. Two 4-star position switches add depth in the box, but three defensive back losses were not replaced. So the Class of '09 held serve on the d-line and got some linebackers, but ultimately contributed only "Prison Abs" to the secondary. Here you see the genesis of Secondary Disaster 2009-'10.

Turner, if you believe unsubstantiated rumor, turned out to be the cautionary tale of the kid who wanted to be Woodson, but without all that effort. Emilien had an injury that scared away Ohio State and made him look awful in two Spring Games, but board insiders claimed his speed was back. I have no idea if he would have helped; his own assessment was that Cam Gordon would hold down free safety for his entire Michigan career. LaLota was a project recruit who also looked bad in Spring. Witty was the DeVito twin to the Denard's Schwarzenegger, but raise your hand if you'd have taken a 2-star junior cornerback on this depth chart?

Among positives, position switcher (WR) Cam Gordon was epic bad at free safety but has the knack for hitting that could see him turn into a mean Will linebacker, which is where everyone expected him to end up, even during his recruitment. Q has come in for practice hype and wasn't awful at NT after a mid-season position switch from offensive guard. Roh is the kind of high-motor end that has been Iowa's secret weapon for years. Mike Jones was a 3-star S/OLB who generated some practice hype as an outside linebacker before losing the 2010 season to injury.

The 5-star is Big Will Campbell, who looked ineffective at NT, got moved to guard last year, and now is back to the DL as 3-tech. In a spring of precious little breakout player hype, Campbell probably leads the team in positive mentions (and leads the 3-tech battle), but that's also probably because Hoke is most often asked about the defense's lone blue chip in his break-or-bust offseason.

Thomas Gordon was somewhat effective though small at Spur, and is in the mix for free safety or backing up Kovacs. Isaiah Bell was a talented/raw DB in high school but outgrew safety and is rumored to have a bit of the Turner syndrome. Hawthorne is the opposite: his talent level is meh but he's a good roster guy and special teamer. If you think Campbell and Turner were overrated coming out of high school, there's a recruiting/scouting problem with this class; if you think it's due to bad luck or bad coaching there's plenty of that to go around. Anyway, unless maybe Roh pops this year there doesn't seem to be a star in the group. If you're looking for unsubstantiated hope for 2011, it's probably one of the low 4-star guys making that big leap, plus the standard "THIS time the new DC is going to fix all!" that we seem to get every year since Jim Hermann.

Expectation Meter: 3 - Double-Guh. Baseline 9: –1 for attrition. –4 because there are no starting DBs left. –2 Big Will disappointment thus far, +1 Roh=Crab People,*

* Giving a +1 Roh's dad is disingenuous to the mission of this exercise but don't think I didn't think of it.


Class of 2010 (Sophomores, RS Freshmen)

Attrition: 12/16 remaining (Avg. retention = 9/10)

Position Breakdown: 6-3-7 recruited / 4-2-6 retained (Avg. = 3-3-3) Running: –1 DL, +0 LB, –2 DB

Star Breakdwon: 4-4-4-4-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3 (Avg. = 5-4-4-4-4-3-3-3-3-3-3)

averyfloyd Gone: Demar Dorsey (did not qualify), Davion Rogers (did not qualify), Antonio Kinard (did not qualify), Ray Vinopal (transfer to Pitt)

Remaining: Cullen Christian (nickel CB), Marvin Robinson (Starting FS?), Ken Wilkens (Backup DT), Richard Ash (Backup DT), Carvin Johnson (Starting FS?), Jibreel Black (Backup SDE), Terry Talbott (Backup DT), Josh Furman (Backup S/Starting FS?), Courtney Avery (Starting CB?), Jordan Paskorz (Backup LB), Jake Ryan (LB), Terrence Talbott (Backup CB)

Discussion: By 2010 it was finally obvious to the coaching staff that warm bodies were needed at defensive back, and warm bodies were attained. This is consequently the first class where Michigan didn't match its rivals in recruiting quality; the result going into their sophomore season is two more 3-stars on the roster instead of a 5-star. The desperate staff, which by this point was recruiting with a few clouds overhead, also perhaps relaxed academic expectations, resulting in three DNQs.

The players still around are too young to grade: you'd expect a typical 4-star who eventually ends-up-being-RVB kind of guy to get some rotational playing time, but you wouldn't expect that guy to be a starter without some growing pains along way. Because of the Decimated Defense (TM) that went before them, a lot of this class got playing time when by all rights they should have been redshirting, giving us a peek at their respective abilities. However, I'm wary of judging too harshly for play by true freshmen thrown into a bad situation. Of those who changed opinions, I think M-Rob downgraded a bit from high expectations, Cullen was much worse than a 4-star cornerback should be even as a freshman, Black flashed ability as a pass rusher (caveat: major liability size-wise vs. run) and Avery didn't look like the next Leon Hall but sure looked a lot better than you'd expect of a 3-star fall arrival who was a high school QB. Conversely, Terrence Talbott looked exactly like a 3-star true freshman cornerback should look.

Expectation Meter: 11! Baseline 9: +3 for Dudes! –2 for low-rated recruits. –1 M-Rob did not play like a guy with 5-star offers, +1 Carvin Johnson showed promise, +1 Jibreel Black too, +1 Courtney Avery, –1 Cullen.


Class of 2011 (True Freshmen)

BeyerAttrition: 12/12 remaining (Avg. retention = 11/11)

Position Breakdown: 3-4-5 / 3-4-5 (Avg. 5-3-3) Running: –3 DL, +0 LB, –1 DB

Star Breakdown: 4-4-4-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3 (Avg. = 5-4-4-4-4-3-3-3-3-3-3)

Gone: Nobody – it's been two months; what do you think this is, 2008 through 2010?

Remaining: Greg Brown (CB), Raymon Taylor (CB), Blake Countess (CB), Delonte Hollowell (CB), Tamani Carter (S), Brennan Beyer (DE), Chris Rock (DE), Keith Heitzman (DE), Kellen Jones (LB), Antonio Poole (LB), Frank Clark (LB), Desmond Morgan (LB)

Discussion: With the world waiting for the axe to fall on RR, and no coach until mid-January, this class was a sunk cost. There's a few low 4-stars but if any of them end up contributing this year, that guy was either very underrated (YAY!) or something has gone horribly, Cone-is-your-starting-QB wrong (again). Since only Brown is on campus so far, there's zero rating. Michigan made up some ground on personnel with this class, but it's even less highly rated than 2010, on par with a good year for Michigan State and an NCAA infraction at other schools. This is the direct result of "The Process," specifically the part about waiting until Winter Semester of their senior years to tell prospective recruits who their coaches will be. No 5-stars, and short a 4-star as well next to comparable teams, but that's somewhat made up for by four more 3-stars than normal.

Defensive line and defensive back are still priorities to recruit beyond normal this year (if you're a DE in Ohio and you haven't received your Michigan offer yet, please contact us). The next step is lots of quality, since the last two classes really should only be expected to do a good job of producing depth and a few upperclassmen starters.

Expectation Meter: 8 Baseline 11: +1 for Dudes!, –4 for low-rated recruits.


animalhouse19 Evans and Panter

Need the dudes: Scout via Maize&Blog

Attrition Total: 40/57 = 70.17% of D recruits still here

I mean: Horray, we're over 10 clicks higher than the Alabama-like losses that haunted 2009 and 2010. Then again, what did we lose?

Star Breakdown Total:

  • 5 Stars: 1/2
  • 4 Stars: 14/23
  • 3 Stars: 24/29
  • 2 Stars: 2/3

Gawddammit! M retention versus the field:

  • 5 Stars: 1/2
  • 4 Stars: 14/17
  • 3 Stars: 24/20
  • 2 Stars: 2/2

The damage doesn't look as bad from out here.

Position Breakdown Total: 14 DL, 12 LB, 14 DB (Avg. = 17-12-13)

Why more DL and DB? The way I handled transitions to offense is to simply pull guys out (so you don't gain or lose from it) and more DLs ended up as offensive players. Converse: more are recruited. At defensive back, there seems to be, in general, a greater attrition rate for DBs across schools. No idea why this is.

Next week I'll get into the direct comparisons and play the blame game. For now, feel free to check my work.



Diaries of Darius and Decimation


Melanie R. Maxwell/

It's Darius Morris week in the diaries while Darius decides whether he's worthy of this year's NBA draft. While Morris explores, let's talk about how much better he makes Michigan.

Raoul has been active in threads discussion DM and decided to try using a simple WSJ formula to show that Morris is actually the key to Michigan's offense:

His 201 field goals and 235 assists mean Morris was involved in 436 of the team's field goals--or 51.5% of the 847 total.

By comparison:

  • [Rumeal] Robinson in 88-89 was involved in 432 of his team's field goals (199 FGs + 233 assists), or 32.6% of the team total
  • [Gary] Grant in 87-88 was involved in 503 of his team's field goals (269 FGs + 234 assists), or 42% of the team total

This stat raises the Morris quotient in my hoops heart to 31.4% It's low, but I've got a Hardaway man-crush, and gotta save some for the bench.

Say Soyonara to Da U.P. eh

Meanwhile mfan_in_ohio scooped all of us in Michigan media by breaking the news that U.P. may be sayin' ya to da Cheese State eh?

Upper Peninsula can’t be sure it’s staying in Michigan


The Upper Peninsula said all the right things.

It said it would “definitely” be back next year.  After all, it is geologically attached where it is, and already has the Mackinac Bridge connecting it to the rest of Michigan.

But the UP will investigate other options.

The piece, which I bumped from the boards took a shot at the Freep's Mark Snyder for (at the time) jumping the gun with Morris-to-NBA speculation minus, you know, evidence.

The Schwartz is With Him

In Things Not Morris, denverblue put together an extensive (and mostly correct) puck preview of Colorado College, right before Michigan beat the Tigers to advance to the Frozen Four. Since I can't tell the difference between Denver and North Dakota (they've played each other tight all season), I'm down for rooting for Denver if it means I get another write-up like this Diary of the Week.


Blue in Seattle

March 27th, 2011 at 6:47 PM ^

Your quote about the 2011 Recruiting Class,

This is the direct result of "The Process," specifically the part about waiting until Winter Semester of their senior years to tell prospective recruits who their coaches will be. No 5-stars, and short a 4-star as well next to comparable teams, but that's somewhat made up for by four more 3-stars than normal.

leaves me wondering which 5 and 4 star Defensive recruits were lost between November and January.  Who was offered that said goodbye during The Process?  I know we lost a running back and an OL, but I wasn't as familiar with any of the defensive prospects who had reversed their commitment.

Secondly, using hindsight of The Process, what do you think would have happened for recruiting if they either A) waited in mystery for Greg Mattison's NFL season to end, or B) picked someone NOT Greg Mattison to be the DC with a Hoke of Meh W/L record?

On second thought, I only want an answer to the first question, since the second just spirals down the entire speculation that it was really going to be Harbaugh, and NOT Hoke/Mattison, and then when Harbaugh spurned Brandon the trip of panic ensued.  Yeah, I definitely don't want to hear about that again.

I would just like to hear from someone who tracks recruiting with a microscope and can indicate who RR was bringing in on defense who then said, "I don't want to be at Michigan without RR and his awesome defensive scheme.





March 27th, 2011 at 7:24 PM ^

It's impossible to say "we would have had X guy" if thing had gone differently. So it's really more about generalities. Recruits were hearing for all of 2009 and 2010 that RR was "gone" and by the end of 2010 season it was at least apparent that GERG wasn't coming back.

Here's some defensive guys we were close on who seemed to fall off as M's defense deteriorated and RR's job went back to being jeopardized:

  • Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix (5-star safety). Teammate of Dee Hart who had some fleeting interest when M beat ND last year.
  • Tim Jernigan (4.5-star DT)
  • Kris Frost (4-star LB - at one point we thought he would commit to M)
  • Anthony Zettel (4-star DE in MIchigan -- in a typical year M gets him)
  • Wayne Lyons (4-star safety, went to Stanford)
  • Avery Walls (4-star free safety from GA with high interest in M academics for most of the year. Ended up at Cal)
  • Dondi Kirby (4-star safety from Pa. Wound up at Illinois)
  • Dallas Crawford (3-star CB who decommitted from M)

Had Michigan been the typical Michigan, I think we get a majority of the above guys, though not all of them. If RR's job is made clear in November, I think we get between 25% and 50% of them. I also think we would have been major players in some big-name guys who ended up out of reach:

  • Curtis Grant (No. 1 linebacker)
  • Ray Drew (No. 1 DE)
  • Trey DePriest (4.5-star LB from Ohio, early on we said we'd be disappointed if he doesn't come to M)
  • Michael Bennett (No. 3 DT, was a top target for M early)
  • Karlos Williams (No. 2 DB - we were high on his list at one point)
  • Lawrence Thomas (LB/DE - Top player in the State, we lost him when MSU got his friend the previous year, but both end up Blue when the world is righted)
  • Stefon McClure (4-star, No. 9 CB from California)
  • Travis Hughes (4-star LB from Va. we coveted)
  • Doran Grant (4-star CB who went Ohio State without much fight)
  • Deion Barnes (4-star DE, always liked PSU but I thought we had a good shot)
  • Mickey Johnson (4-star La. DT we targeted early, went to LSU)
  • Nathan Hughes (4-star DE from Texas. Had M high at one point)
  • Joel Hale (3-star DT prospect from IN we offered as a nobody. Used our offer to get one from Ohio State.)
  • Ron Tanner (3-star DB that OSU nabbed after M showed interest)

No way we get all of these guys, or even 50% of them. I don't blame "The Process" for losing them -- that was on RR and the decimated defense. However a coaching change in November rather than January regenerates excitement, and gives the new staff some time to re-recruit some of the dudes who lost interest in October. By mid-January the possibility of getting some of these high-profile players to reopen their recruitments, or get Michigan back into the game even, was closed. I think a post-OSU coaching change nets us one or two of the above, and that could make a huge difference in this class.


March 27th, 2011 at 8:46 PM ^

I'll bet if you asked Rodriguez now and he wasn't worried about how it was perceived, he would admit he started focusing on recruiting defense too late in the game.  He totally misread the key to his longevity at Michigan. The offense was his focus and it was coming on, but there wasn't enough defense or potential impact guys on the roster to buy him more time.

The regrets about 2011 recruits we may have lost from the coaching situation probably misses the point as far as his future.  The guys he needed were the ones he didn't get with the 09, and his half of the 08 class.

Zone Left

March 27th, 2011 at 11:25 PM ^

I don't think the previous staff's failures were about the recruits they didn't get. The failures were about the ones they did get who didn't stick around. A defensive backfield with Turner, Dorsey, Emelien, and Woolfolk (not anyone's fault) could have completely changed last season. I'm of the opinion that the staff's inability to retain/develop talent was its greatest failure.


March 28th, 2011 at 9:54 AM ^

I am of the opinion that I agree with your opinion.

RR recruited some decent D talent.  When he came in, the deficiencies were on offense - since he wasn't going to go with the slow transition (in my view, a mistake, but water under the bridge) he needed to get guys who could play in his offense, and he needed to do so in bunches.  Hence, the focus on offense in year 1.  After that, he recruited decently (certainly not great) on defense.  But, most of his top talent either wasn't developed or exited the program in a hurry.


March 27th, 2011 at 7:10 PM ^

I've just about got this defensive positions figured out, but I hear OLB mentioned here and there.  I think the OLB spends most of their time along the line rushing the passer.  I also hear Mattison say we'll look like a 5-2.  I assume this adds the WLB along the line. 

We've got a DL of 2 DTs, SDE and WDE and at LB we have MLB, WLB and SLB.

What is an OLB?  Is this a WDE or a WLB?  I could see Paskorz, Herron and potentially Bell as OLBs.


March 27th, 2011 at 7:35 PM ^

Depends. I think you're thinking of the SAM, or SLB, or "strongside linebacker."

You'll need one of our coaches to explain it better. But think of it in terms of a Nickelback during a running play (it's not a nickel). Your WLB and MLB are similar players (read, react, get there, shed block, tackle), while the Nickelback is a guy with different responsibilities (hammer, blitz, slice, take on a lead blocker).

SLB was "Spur" (Steve Brown, the freshman trio) last year. My understanding is that it's not hugely different than that -- coverage, one-on-one with a receiver sometimes, taking on fullbacks, that kind of thing. Likely candidates for SLB:

  • Cam Gordon
  • J.B. Fitzgerald
  • Brandon Herron
  • Isaiah Bell

That guy can be almost like a hybrid safety (Gordon, Bell) or like a 5th defensive lineman (Herron, Fitzgerald) -- it comes down to whether he's more effective as an interrupting force by blitzing or by adding to the short coverage.

Remember Shawn Crable? Exactly like Shawn Crable.

That's opposed to WLB and MLB which are kind if indistinguishable (the big difference as I understand it is the WLB does more fighting through blocks and the MLB is the funell-ee, but in modern defenses it's almost useless to make a distinction). Kenny Demens, Mike Jones, Jake Ryan et al.

Zone Left

March 27th, 2011 at 7:17 PM ^

Man, Turner and Dorsey still get to me. Dorsey especially. His story as it relates to Michigan seems indicative of a disfunctional athletic department that didn't have a great relationship with admissions. Regardless of whether or not he should have been admitted, we should have known the answer before he signed. Maybe I don't understand the admissions process as related to scholarship athletes well enough.


March 27th, 2011 at 8:29 PM ^

Defensive retention as of October 29, 2009 stood at 58 1/3 %.  As of today it stands at 70.69% retention, which is significantly better, but we still hemorrhaged a distressing number of 4-star recruits from the last 5 classes (14 out of 23 recruits stayed on board).


March 27th, 2011 at 8:15 PM ^

Saying Kelly Baraka had no prior problems is a bit of a stretch.  I'm from the Kalamazoo/Portage area and it was well known the type of people he hung out with were not the law abiding kind to say the least.  It was also pretty well known that Baraka hardly went to class and the teachers were just giving him good grades.  I know how good he was but I was shocked when we offered him.


March 27th, 2011 at 9:46 PM ^

milla - I've heard the stories. One of my close friends from college dated a Sarantos before she met us.

However, my understanding is he was basically just a kid who liked, uh, green things. Like Cissoko, on the surface there weren't any red flags. Of course, if you asked the kids at Cass with Boubacar maybe they knew different.


March 27th, 2011 at 8:48 PM ^

Again, because of RichRod's short tenure we'll be seeing pieces of three coaches next year:

* Brady (obviously)

* Rodriguez (some of '08, '09, '10, and some of '11)

* Lloyd ('07, some of '08)

Strictly speaking, a little piece of Lloyd will still be with us in '12.  I don't expect many people to remember that, because quite a few failed to realize that he was responsible for '04, '05, and '06, which had varying degrees of impact on the '08, '09, and '10 teams.

RichRod will be with us much longer, and on the D side of the ball he'll be catching some deserved heat for years to come.


March 27th, 2011 at 8:52 PM ^

the shafer scapegoating was bs while it was occuring  - not just because he ends up being a pretty good dc, but also because it showed his cronyism.  think just about everyone questioned rr's love of the 3-3-5.


March 27th, 2011 at 9:24 PM ^

Is it normal to lose that many of your recruits? From my knowledge, Michigan is the type of school that would pride itself on actually graduating most of its athletes. I suppose two coaching switches in a 4-year span will do this to your recruits, however. I didn't realize Emilien and LaLota transferred -- they were pretty big recuits for us if remember correctly. The fact that we've only held onto about 40% of our recruits since 2007 is really, really bad regardless of the circumstances IMO.


March 27th, 2011 at 10:19 PM ^

I'd like to jump onto mgoblog and at some point see good news as it relates to football.  Something soothing maybe even couched in terms of hopefulness and optimism for the future.  Instead I'm bombarded with all these unsavory facts.  And detailed analysis showing these unsavory facts to be bad news.

Let's get a little less analytical and accurate and little more unreasonably optimistic based off a things like "I got a good feeling about this" or "things ar bound to turn around"


March 28th, 2011 at 12:52 AM ^

The numbers in parentheses are just the averages for that particular stat computed from five comparable programs:

compared to the average of five other schools for which I tracked attrition: Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, Notre Dame, and Alabama


March 28th, 2011 at 7:09 AM ^

Maybe I should have made tables to make it easier.

3-4-5 / 3-4-5 (Avg. 5-3-3)


Michigan recruited 3 defensive linemen, 4 LBs, and 5 DBs. Of those, 3 DL, 4 LBs, and 5 DBs are on the roster still. The last is the average brought in that year by ND, Bama, OSU, MSU and PSU.


March 27th, 2011 at 10:37 PM ^

Hate that I now have to worry about DE. Great to see RVB back there, and Heininger seems to be able to pop out and swallow people every now and then. Roh will have a breakout year when all he has to do is what he does best (fingers x'd). Black has promise.
<br>But Wilkins and Paskorz both moved away from DE? I made a case a while back for Wilkins at DT - he's huge - but the board argued SDE. He does seem perfect at that spot. Paskorz seemed right at WDE. 3-deep with experience.
<br>What about next year at DE? And wouldn't this make Paskorz about the 4th string SAM? And I thought Miller was destined for C/G on Offense?
<br>These things are not good for my insomnia


March 28th, 2011 at 6:58 AM ^

I think Paskorz has been practicing at SAM. It's not, like, unheard of for a young defensive lineman to play a type of rush linebacker before his body fills out.

Losing RVB or Roh this year would be bad, yes. Remember though we graduated two backups at those positions -- graduating backups often leads to thin depth charts.

Yes, Miller is probably going to the O-Line. I probably shouldn't have even mentioned him.


March 27th, 2011 at 11:17 PM ^

Thanks for the nod for DOTW. I would've been able to write a bit about DU, being familiar with the enemy and all, but I haven't seen NoDak quite as much, and not in person. Maybe I'll put together something a little less extensive leading up to the game, but it wouldn't be as informative.

There are a couple decent North Dakota hockey blogs out there that might be willing to do a back and forth with Brian- answer 10 questions, that kind of thing- they would know more than I do. I say decent insofar as they know the team and hockey in general, but you might still get a bit of the SIOUX arrogance. The two that I know of are:

The latter of which is the beat writer's for the hockey team whom I've met- a pretty decent younger guy and pretty professional. The former would be more of the fan blog type.


March 28th, 2011 at 2:32 AM ^

I laughed at the indication that Thomas Gordon suffers from Turner Syndrome.  Obviously I get what the author was going for in the post, but it's actually also a legit chromosomal disorder.  /nerd.

Patent Pending

March 28th, 2011 at 12:30 PM ^

As a father or a 2 y/o with Turner syndrome you should both be aware that only girls can be afflicted with this congenital condition.  Yes they do tend to "swell" as many of these little girls suffer from lymphedema and some girls are born with extra skin between their shoulders and neck giving them a "no-neck" appearance.

/genetic disorders are funny

Patent Pending

March 28th, 2011 at 12:31 PM ^

As a father or a 2 y/o with Turner syndrome you should both be aware that only girls can be afflicted with this congenital condition.  Yes they do tend to "swell" as many of these little girls suffer from lymphedema and some girls are born with extra skin between their shoulders and neck giving them a "no-neck" appearance.

/genetic disorders are funny


March 28th, 2011 at 9:21 AM ^

A. It was very charitable of you to crop the Kovacs pic in the manner that you did. I like to pretend that he's running downfield to block on a pick 6 or summat.

B. Rather than 'not minding' Shafer being let go after one season, I think alot people were very concerned by the idea of firing your DC after only one season--especially since Shafer coached the better of the two units. No one had an inkling regarding the potential importance of letting Shafer go but it certainly concerned people.

C. At one point, you suggest Juice is 11 feet tall but then later you say he is 12 feet tall. Please clarify this apparent discrepancy. This is not a media guide, afterall.

blue in dc

March 28th, 2011 at 9:28 AM ^

When will it be safe to come back to this blog and stop hearing harping about the proccess? I know some will look at when I became a member and ask who am I to gripe, but just because I just started posting, doesn't mean that I am not a long term reader.
<br>When people harp on the proccess, it seems to imply that there was some obvious alternative that Brandon missed that clearly would have come out better. While I am not saying one couldn't come up with an alternative that would have come out better, all the alternatives I have heard could also have come ot worse (or seem to be based on a fantasy.
<br>If, for instance, Hoke had been hired in late November, early December, would the reception he got been as good, would Mattison be the defensive coordinator, if Mattison had been the defensive coordinator but wanted to wait til the Ravens season was over, would the long delay helped recruiting and/or retention of current players? Who would have coached the bowl game? If it had been Hoke, and he had done anywhere near as bad as Rich Rod, what would that have done for recruiting?
<br>I think in evaluating the process, some people are focused way to much on the percieved impact it had on this year's recruiting and not on a wider range of concerns that I think that Brandon should have, and in fact from where I sit, did consider.
<br>Dave Brandon is hopefully smart enough to realize that. He also probably realizes that satisfying the most rabid bloggers is not possible, because by their very nature, there will always be some who think a proccess was handled poorly or a wrong decision was made.
<br>Some of the factors/factions that I think Brandon considered and considered well are:
<br>1. Current players - I think letting them have their existing coach for the bowl was a good move, as was, to the extent possible, keeping the focus on their bowl and not the coaching change. It also appears that he valued this during the transition itself.
<br>2. The press and former players - Brandon has done a great job of making sure both these groups have been positive. If this had been done half as well for RR, he still might be here.
<br>3. The "on the fence" about RR crowd - seeing the offensive performance against Mississippi State made it alot easier for those folks to be pushed into the fire RR camp. If he hadn't gotten the chance - I think there would be a bigger group of fans upset.
<br>4. The Harbaugh camp - seeing that Michigan wasn't really his dream job was important to getting the support of some.
<br>All of these things (as well as not having the new coach in anyway associated with the bowl fiasco) add up to Hoke being put in a much better position than RR was. Personally, I am happy about trading all of these positives for one less than optimum recruiting class.
<br>I also think there is more chance that Brandon was keeping his options open than most give him credit for. If RR had shown the offense was continuing to improve (and that he was willing to make drastic defensive coaching changes), how do those that didn't like, "the proccess", know Brandon wouldn't have kept him? If Harbaugh had really wanted the U of M job, do we jnow he wouldn't be here?
<br>I see a process that kept a number of good options open until it eas clear they weren't aa good as percieved and that ended up with a choice that was then put in a good position to succeed.
<br>In the end, we won't know the answers for a number of years, but in the end, it will also be the choice he made, and not the proccess, he used, that Brandon will be judged by.


March 28th, 2011 at 11:08 AM ^

Was probably the most rational, intelligent defense that I have ever seen of "the process."

As background for where I am coming from, I love the result (Hoke), but hated the process.  My view always has been that if we wanted Hoke, we could have gotten him the day after the OSU debacle, when it became obvious that Michigan could not move forward under RR (not a comment on whether we should have - just saying that after OSU, the call for change, the hot seat and the media circus was such that RR was going to go). 

Your post actually provided good reasons for DB's "process."




March 28th, 2011 at 11:44 AM ^

I agree with you.

In the end, Brandon got the guy he clearly wanted (whether you agree with his preference is a different argument than whether you think the process about which he hired Hoke was right) which, for me, means the thing worked out as he had wanted. Arguments that Brandon should have interviewed or offered other coaches aren't really arguments about the timing of the hire.

In the end, people are just going to make these excessively long lists of elite prospects that we "missed" as a result (as Misopogon does in the comments) and act like it means something. Aside from Crawford, not one of those guys was committed. People can say "well, we would have gotten Zettel or Frost", but that's far from clear? Did they not commit to Michigan because of the timing of the hire, or because they like Rodriguez, and feared he'd be fired? If it's the latter, it wouldn't have mattered when Hoke got the job.


March 28th, 2011 at 12:08 PM ^

I think you missed the point of the "list." Of course we don't know if they were RR guys who wavered when it looked like he was gone, or if they were Michigan guys who wavered when it looked like Michigan was about to scrap everything and start over.

It's mostly about the timing of the decision.

  • If you are going to keep Rich Rod, leaving that until January, though providing more data (e.g. the Gator Bowl blowout), has a negative effect on recruiting -- not a soul would believe him or his staff when they say "I'm going to be here for the next four years." Also: leaving GERG as a dead man walking means from the moment it's clear he's gone to the moment he actually is gone, there's no DC recruiting.
  • If you are going to fire Rich Rod and get Hoke, leaving that until January, though it has its good points too, has a negative effect on recruiting. Again, it's impossible to judge the level, but speaking only with regards to the 2011 recruiting class, is it better to have the next coach and his staff recruiting, or the old one?

Rich Rod used that same month to create a pipeline to Florida, and to go after some recruits who are now key players in our offense (Omameh, Barnum, Roundtree, Shaw, Odoms).

In a game where the difference of one 4-star can make a big difference, I believe an extra 6 weeks late in the recruiting game would have netted us, say, 2 to 5 recruits we didn't get because of the period of uncertainty and short time Hoke had to introduce himself to the 2011 class. Is that a fair assumption?