what did you do ray?

Fall Football Bits Announces Quarterback, Refuses to Provide Details on Punter Battle Comment Count

Seth August 24th, 2018 at 4:36 PM

Quick event reminder: Thursday Night at 6pm ‘tis Football Eve at 327 E. Hoover, Ann Arbor—the same place as last year. 12802hsllogoAlso the same food as last year—Scratch BBQ and Catering—since Adam and David didn't get to try it. And I think we’re getting beer from Wolverine but that’s not confirmed yet. If you’re coming say so in the form so we know how much beer to get.

-------------------------------------------------

Welcome back to our coverage of one of two Big Ten East football teams not raking their school’s name through the mud. This one isn’t going to have much that you don’t already know. The big news (Patterson, Newsome, Irving-Bey) you’ve heard and the rest is locked in the submarine except some tentative leaders in the three actually close position races (RG, RT and WLB) and a minor injury or three.

By the way this is not meant to be all news or insider info—there are paid services for that, plus WTKA, M-Live, and our good friend Isaiah Hole is also providing a lot of good stuff at WolverinesWire. Bits is more of an overview if you have other things to do than track every site that covers Michigan.

Depth Chart Projections

You’re not just stuck with mine anymore. Steve Lorenz published the opinions of the staff there, and umbig11 posted his thoughts on our board earlier this week. Nothing surprising on either one, unless you count people being more open about two true freshmen on the two-deep and a linebacker whose name we haven’t heard much. I’ll cover each in their position breakdowns.

-------------------------------------------------

Quarterback

What we want to hear: Patterson is the starter and will be healthy going into the Ohio State game.

What we’ve heard: Michigan has named a starter for Notre Dame and to everyone's great shock it's…

For those counting at home, we're now looking at three Ian Boyd HTTV articles in a row in which he spent the majority of time covering the guy who won't be the quarterback most of the year.

image

On the other hand, backup QB has been kind of a big deal here lately. That is now a solid Peters then Dylan McCaffrey.

What it means: Milton still has a ton of promise but without training wheels right now he's reportedly freshman Gardner. Apparently once he was tasked with running the whole playbook he started to look more like the raw freshman he was supposed to be. The coaches love his work ethic—Pahokee remember—but the QB depth chart for this year is now solidly:

  • Depth Chart: Patterson, (gap), Peters, (gap), McCaffrey (gap)
  • Four games and redshirt: Joe Milton

[JUMP for the rest]

-------------------------------------------------

Running Back

image

Last seen screwing with Grapentine in the ‘17 spring game [Bryan Fuller]

What we want to hear: 3rd down back?

What we’re hearing: 3rd back. I'm using my one and only quote an insider piece card per one of these articles on the third running back because this is the single most encouraging thing I've heard yet out of the group ($):

[Christian Turner] is picking things up reasonably well, but where he has turned the heads of coaches and teammates alike is with his willingness to step up in the there and block.]

The Ringer had a fascinating article last week that showed—at least in the pass-happy pros—that the running back attribute most correlated with winning is blocking. In case you haven't paid attention to Michigan's tackle situation or the Big Ten defensive ends preview, that might be kinda important this year. If you're a 247/Scout subscriber Sam mentions another running back who's earning PT from his blocking in that post.

Unfortunately Turner was wearing a soft cast in practice this week.

What it means: That seem to be a minor thing (get it?) but means Michigan probably starts the season with Tru Wilson at third string, again for his blocking. O’Maury Samuels is probably not a great blocker yet, and that message is being sent.

  • Depth Chart: Higdon, Evans, Christian Turner when he gets back, Tru Wilson, O’Maury Samuels
  • Haven’t heard from: Kurt Taylor
  • Redshirting/4 games: Hassan Haskins

-------------------------------------------------

Fullback

What we want to hear: Should I stop asking?

What we’re hearing: It’s still Ben Mason and air, though Mason—a true sophomore—was one of the players made available to the media this week; unfortunately he answered the media’s questions with alacrity, maturity, and almost entirely in lowercase. He also listed everybody on the roster when asked about other fullbacks showing things.

What it means: I’ll stop asking. BVS is probably a young Khalid Hill they’ll use for some packages, and Jared Wangler will be a poor man’s Poggi. Mostly I think it means they’ll use the tight ends more.

  • Depth Chart: Ben Mason, Jared Wangler, Ben Van Sumeren, name a walk-on I dunno Peter Bush

-------------------------------------------------

Wide Receiver

36737616780_8b4317c02e_o

dey turk myr jyrrbs [Fuller]

What we want to hear: Best receiver group since Braylon/Avant/Breaston were young and Calvin Bell and Tyrece Butler were on that team too, and oh yeah Carl Tabb, Jermaine Gonzalez, and we went to the Rose Bowl and beat Ohio State that year remember?

What we’re hearing: In case the mass flight of literally every scholarship outside receiver older than him wasn't clue enough, multiple insiders are excited about Nico Collins, though not to the degree that Black and DJP are threatened. Grant Perry and DPJ have been the best receivers this week, via Ruiz, but Tarik Black might have the most catches, Oliver Martin has been making plays, and Schoenle is right in there too. Balas added ($) Ronnie Bell to that list and that’s all of the receivers.

DPJ has been the best blocker of the group. One thing we’ll miss about Crawford: he did have great blocks.

By the way since Patterson won a starting job first, Oliver Martin will have a new number—Patterson asked Woodson for #2.

What it means: Wait and see. Fading hype for the walk-on Jake McCurry this fall as he hasn’t been mentioned much.

  • Depth Chart: DPJ-Black-Perry, Collins-Schoenle-Martin
  • Redshirting: Probably nobody, if Ronnie Bell can play, since it’s all walk-ons from there.

-------------------------------------------------

Tight End

What we want to hear: Extreme blocking

What we’re hearing: Extreme receiving. Reports fluctuate between crazy Zach Gentry excitement and Sean McKeon is still first string technically (they’re both first string). Nick Eubanks was the one they chose to put before the media so our two have become three. Steve even had some really nice things to say about the true freshmen ($) in a VIP post early this week.

What it means: Rotation of doom.

  • Depth chart: Gentry-McKeon, Eubanks, Muhammad/Schoonmaker
  • Redshirting: Maybe one of those freshmen, maybe.

Offensive Line

image

What we want to hear: “Jon Runyan” has surprised everybody by showing up to fall camp four inches taller and looking like he’s aged 30 years. All hail Herbert.

What we’re hearing: Little change from last week except Grant Newsome medically retired. Conflicting reports at right tackle had Hudson passing JBB or about to do so, which amounts to the same thing.

The true freshman on the two-deep is Jaylen Mayfield at left tackle; again that’s with Andrew Stueber injured, and Jon Runyan is entrenched as the starter, so that’s just good news for Mayfield’s future for now.

Like Mason, Cesar Ruiz got to do a presser, which again is unusual for a true sophomore, and more evidence he’s the best or second-best lineman on the offense. The right guard battle is a “good” one according to Lorenz, but Mike Onwenu appears to be pulling ahead, say the insiders. Brian disagreed with me on the podcast but I think that’s a good development, since Onwenu’s upside is the freakiest abomination ever loosed on a second level, and Spanellis can be spared as a backup center.

New walk-on name this week from Lorenz ($): Griffin Korican. If he sounds familiar that’s the freshman guard Warinner flipped late to Michigan last year from Oregon State. That VIP post has a lot more clarity on the OL if you’re a subscriber.

What it means: Print the depth chart. Mayfield or Stueber might make a move later this season—let’s check back in after four games.

  • Depth Chart: Runyan-Bredeson-Ruiz-Onwenu-Hudson; twos are Mayfield-Filiaga-Spanellis-Spanellis-JBB
  • Buried: Nolan Ulizio, Joel Honigford, Phil Paea
  • Redshirting/4 games at tight end and one train play please: Ryan Hayes

-------------------------------------------------

Defensive Tackle

I won’t waste your time with more Dwumfour hype. Marshall appears to be ahead of Kemp at 3-tech backup and Solomon had a great week.

  • Depth Chart: Solomon-Dwumfour, Mone-Marshall, Jeter-Kemp
  • That’s everyone.

-------------------------------------------------

Defensive End

image

[Fuller]

What we want to hear: Kwity stuff?

What we’re hearing: The other 2018 guy to make the insiders’ two-deeps is Aidan Hutchinson at End (behind Winovich). That’s a similar situation to Jaylen Mayfield, where the freshman came in college-sized and advanced, but might have been third but for an injury to a redshirt freshman ahead of him, in this case Luigi Vilain. Also we’re talking about the Michigan equivalent to second-string shortstop on the 1991 Orioles.

What it means: Hutchinson is probably going to be really good. I really hope Vilain gets his injuries behind him; for the moment it sounds more frustrating than dire, so it could just be some bad luck and not a sign that this will be a theme of his career.

  • Depth Chart: Gary-Winovich, Paye-Paye, Hutchinson
  • Injured, not for the season: Vilain]
  • Redshirting/4 games: Upshaw, Welschof
  • Haven’t heard from: Ron Johnson, Reuben Jones

-------------------------------------------------

Linebacker

33678412250_faf27aa27c_o

If Bush hadn’t taken off the dreds we could finally confuse some guys [Fuller]

What we want to hear: Don Brown using a word that rhymes with “Mood”

What we’re hearing: First the biggest news that wasn’t big news from this week: Devin Gil appears to have a lead finally in the all-out melee for weakside linebacker, with Josh Ross placing second. That’s the buzz from the insiders that’s spilled into the public realm. The program still won’t confirm it but via the Daily one of the contenders got a second hand “Dude” from new OLBs coach Al Washington:

Sophomore Josh Ross and junior Devin Gil remain locked in what Don Brown called a “fistfight” last week. Each has played sparingly in their careers to this point.

Washington did heap the coveted Don Brown “dude” moniker on Gil, who he added was “very smart, very football smart” and “understands the nuances naturally,” but deferred to Brown on who might be the leader right now.

Is that official? Is Washington cleared to do that? The article’s a good read, with a lot on Uche’s development.

Speaking of MLB remember the weight gain/loss rule: all weight loss is bad weight and all weight gain is muscle? We're going to have to make an exception for Devin Bush.

 

A post shared by Devin Bush Il (@dbush_10) on

That clearly shows:

a) More than 15 pounds of muscle gained, and
b) At least 5 or more pounds lost from removing that once gorgeous hair .

Cesar Ruiz was asked for his breakout defensive player and said “Josh Uche is going to have a big year,” echoing statements from Harbaugh (Hole):

“Yeah, I think he’s on that kind of precipice – he could be a complete animal,” Harbaugh said. “He really could be. I’ve seen those signs. Really pulling hard for him for all great things to come his way.

I mentioned this on the podcast (part 2) that we recorded last night: at Boston College (Josh Keyes) and UConn (Sio Moore) Brown recruited similar players to Uche for the Shawn Crable job, and it took them until Year 3 to get on the field because you have to give them weight and teach them a little pass defense or else you’re just tipping what you’re going to do.

One other surprise from the depth chart articles was linebacker, where 247 said Jordan Anthony is second on the depth chart at MIKE. Since Drew Singleton is still widely praised and Josh Ross battle Devin Gil to an “OR” on the depth chart at WILL, it’s great to hear the the third (and most developmental) prospect from the 2017 haul is also working out.

  • Depth Chart:
    MIKE:
    Devin Bush (gap), Jordan Anthony/Drew Singleton
    WILL: Devin Gil, Josh Ross, the other guys
    EDGE SPECIALIST THAT WILL DEFINITELY BE A THING this year: Josh Uche
    SAM as in regular 4-3 strongside linebacker: Noah Furbush
    VIPER: Khaleke Hudson (gap), Jordan Glasgow (gap), Michael Barrett
  • No way, redshirt?: Cam McGrone seems like a guy who’ll play early but Michigan might have the luxury of using him for four games then getting a redshirt on him.

Safety

37541253672_a1a03633e4_o

[Ungh sorry other photographers Fuller’s keep coming up]

What we want to hear: Safeties have made huge improvements and are going to be lights out.

What we’re hearing: Safeties are themselves but the backups will be better. Partridge did a presser and there's no big news. Kinnel and Metellus are still the starters. We did get more nice things said about Jaylen Kelly-Powell, and some explanation for why nobody seems to have a handle on his position:

"He's kind of like a swiss army knife out there. Smart, can play both safety spots, nickel, even corner. Last year he's doing all that stuff, this year he's doing it well."

Via Sam on the Michigan Insider, JKP's not the only backup they're comfortable playing; Brad Hawkins has been playing very well at Rover, and might be their best man cover guy already.

Josh Metellus I will mention because nobody seems to mention him, except PFF:

 

Dowell was a platoon starter last year who was the primary beneficiary of MSU playing all their big games in monsoons, and features in a photo album of wide open receivers whose quarterbacks missed them. That Metellus is second without the most insane luck in the history of safeties says something about something.

What it means: Same guys you saw last year, a year wiser, a bit more rotation.

  • Depth chart: Metellus-Kinnel, Hawkins-JKP, Woods
  • Redshirts/4 games: Ger.Green, Faustin

Cornerback

image

[Finally!: Patrick Barron]

Mea culpa, Mr. Brandon Watson. I made a mistake last week by confusing some of the Jon Jansen podcast's talk of cornerback—he was hyping up Watson and I didn't catch it. Zordich made sure I ate crow for this by talking up his 3rd/4th/doesn’t matter corner who went through the same “He Hate Me” process as Long and Hill but less publicly:

"Wow," Zordich said when asked about Watson's continued progress. "He has been unbelievable growth-wise. It was not easy on him our first year here as a staff. He is a totally different guy from the time we got here until now. He finishes plays. He works his tail off and he's good. Hats off to him for sticking with us; I don't think he really liked us when we first got here. We were a little tough on him. I was tough on him. I had to be. I had to get him up to snuff to get him to where we want him to be and he answered the bell. Last year, he played his ass off. He's playing his ass off again. I hope it all continues."

I hope Zordich hates my guts some day. Right now our relationship is I tried and failed to talk a parking gate attendant into letting the coach park in the coaches’ lot before The Game last year, plus a shared “What can you do?” headshake/shrug combo after Zordich pulled all the way around Oosterbaan Fieldhouse and passed me again. But this year I promise I’ll get that attendant to relent. I’ve thought about it all offseason, bought a parking attendant uniform for my wife and been practicing…what is happening to me?

The other big news from Zordich is nickel/safety Casey Hughes the Utah transfer is now practicing with the cornerbacks, and is already up there with Ambry Thomas and Watson. Moving Hughes is less about Thomas and Watson so much as the freshmen—Michigan wants to go at least five deep there and it appears St-Juste, Sims, and the fall arrivals are not quite ready for primetime.

What it means: Maybe Hughes, the Wayne Lyons memorial what are you doing here transfer from Utah, will actually get on the field. Michigan can get a sixth cornerback out of their freshmen while redshirting them all.

  • Depth chart: Hill-Long, Thomas-Watson, Hughes
  • Haven’t heard from: St-Juste
  • Redshirt/4 games: Gray, Sims, Gem.Green

Special Teams:

Punter: Partridge says there are three guys battling for the job and they don't have a starter yet, declined to name who. 247 left it out of their depth charts. Umbig11 posted in a thread that Will Hart led Robbins as of early this week—Balas ($) suggested that Brad Robbins has been injured but Hart has been kicking well. If you’re a subscriber there’s a note on how Nordin’s been doing as well. A guy who texts me said things got a little erratic this week but that Nordin was doing great until then.

Returners are the same as last year. Moody is the new kickoffs guy.

What it means: Yah, take it away, Ernie. I bet Nordin is the third punter in the competition. Until I see these guys playing consistently I won’t believe in anything. Special teams is a potential weakness of this team from the sound of things, but has the potential to be the exact opposite of that.

  • Depth chart: Nordin-Hart, Moody
  • Injured: Robbins
  • Punt Returns: DPJ

Comments

outsidethebox

August 25th, 2018 at 8:59 AM ^

A significant leap here does not require a miracle. I will not bore y'all with my personal story to prove my point but I will say this: Here, the difference between being bad, good or great is a much finer line than most know. There are fundamentals to playing any sport that must not be compromised. The execution of those fundamentals must be taught in a way that meets the level of skill and ability of each individual player. By all appearances there has been a confluence of factors that have severely and detrimentally compromised the OL play at Michigan for some time. Warriner may well be the catalyst that finally turns mediocrity into excellence. Such a transformation is not nearly as difficult as it might appear.

Kevin14

August 24th, 2018 at 4:56 PM ^

"one of two Big Ten East football teams not raking their school’s name through the mud"

 

Is Indiana the other?  They fired their head coach for behavior issues like a year and a half ago.  Although, I don't think that qualifies. 

Seth

August 24th, 2018 at 5:16 PM ^

I think if you fire the coach the second you hear about an abusive culture under him you are functioning like an athletic department should. If--let's just make up an absurd example--Harbaugh hid a dangerous wife-beater on his staff for 10 years and transferred a woman to another building because the staffer had an affair with her, and that staffer was, like, ordering sex toys to the office and everyone only found out because the staffer's ex wife put out a restraining order, and then Harbaugh lied at Big Ten meetings then deleted evidence when confronted about it, and Michigan fired him after a 2 week investigation, I'd consider the matter settled and the school's reputation preserved.

victors2000

August 24th, 2018 at 6:54 PM ^

Have all that happen and have the schools' reputation preserved? Seth, it goes without saying that this is Michigan; if all that crap was happening here we musta took a hit in the reputation department some time before the grand reveal. Am I living in an ivory tower to believe this would not happen at our current Michigan? 

StraightDave

August 24th, 2018 at 5:04 PM ^

The WR position if f#cked is someone gets injured.  Royal f#cked next season if any of the receivers shine and go pro.  Good thing Harbaugh blew off recruiting WRs last year and what looks to be the same this year as well. 

J.

August 24th, 2018 at 5:10 PM ^

Sure, this makes sense.  The team's biggest worry is that receivers -- who aren't old enough to be NFL draft eligible -- go pro after this year.  And how can Harbaugh's offense possibly work with only 6 receivers on the team anyway?

Good thing you're here to point out his idiocy.

SteveInPhilly

August 24th, 2018 at 5:16 PM ^

I don't think that's accurate. For this year, we appear to have three quality outside receiver options (DPJ, Black, Collins) and some quality slot options (Perry, Martin, to a lesser degree Schoenle). For an offense that runs a lot of 12 or 21 personnel, that seems like sufficient depth. 

For next year, Perry is the only guy who would leave via graduation or draft, as the others are 2nd year players.

Not worried about WR unless we get 2-3 injuries, but what team wouldn't be in trouble with that?

stephenrjking

August 24th, 2018 at 5:24 PM ^

Less intense than J, but: DPJ, Collins, and Black are all in their second year. They were true freshmen last year. They can't go to the NFL after this season. Perry will enter the draft, but that's because he's out of eligibility; enter Oliver Martin.

Depth becomes an issue if one of the guys gets hurt, but with Collins looking poised to excel this year depth is the issue, not the front line. Plus we have, you know, Zach Gentry floating around who would be a terror should Harbaugh be inclined to send him out there.

I agree that the ranks are just a touch thin, but there are five receivers on the roster that should be terrific on the field, and that doesn't count the TEs or Chris Evans who will also probably line up in similar positions.

I doubt Michigan goes 5-wide with 5 wideouts at any time this year, given what Gentry and Evans (among others) bring to the table and Harbaugh's preference for some beef. So, yeah, depth is slightly thin but not a catastrophe. 

JonnyHintz

August 24th, 2018 at 6:38 PM ^

Uhhhh no. With 5 WRs looking ready to go and a freshman impressing as well, they’re fine. Especially once you start adding names like Gentry, McKeon, and Eubanks to the pass catcher list. 5 quality WRs is more than enough in an offense such as ours that routinely features fullbacks and tight ends as exclusively as we do. You’re talking most of he time we’ll have 2-3 WRs on the field at the same time. 

stephenrjking

August 24th, 2018 at 5:30 PM ^

DL depth next year is going to be a concern IMO. 

The defense will probably take a hit after this season. We've got some athletes and we have Don Brown, so it should still be good next year, but "great" will be a stretch without the recruiting classes flooding in the way they did the last two years. 

It should be great this year. Top five seems to be a floor; top three should be the expectation. Top one is unlikely but not out of the question.

This team just needs competence out of the offense to go really far. Tackle might be the big obstacle here, and Shea is a bit of a variable. A playmaker like him can easily become turnover prone if he's asked to do too much and/or under constant pressure. OTOH a guy with his tools can become a playmaking machine that constantly drives opposing defenses nuts. I can't wait to find out.

I'm less sanguine about RT. It was telling, in my opinion, that Runyan got moved out left. The coaches were hoping someone from what is now the RT competition would emerge to be the LT, allowing Runyan to hover at his ceiling of competence at RT, but it seems to me that nobody was good enough for that, and so they flipped the spots. That Runyan appears to be far and away our best tackle, and that the coaches really felt he was best suited to be "steady" out right but can't trust whomever wins the other job, is a warning flag. 

njvictor

August 24th, 2018 at 9:12 PM ^

I agree about our DL. Both defensive end spots will go from positions of strength to question marks that will also not have much depth. If I had to guess, Paye and Hutchinson will start, unless Villain can stay healthy, but beyond that, there isn't much depth at either spot besides the freshmen coming in. I'm also a little worried about the Viper spot, but I also think there are some guys at LB who can slide over to Viper and do a good job, but again, Viper isn't gonna have much depth

BroadneckBlue21

August 24th, 2018 at 10:17 PM ^

I think people need to see how Paye, Hutchison, and others play as reserves this year. Winovich was a ? turned into solid NFLer. College football is special in that players are at the height of their growth potential in years 2-3–and they are then playing against their peers age group. In the pros, one could Who is to say we won’t have the talent that blooms?

The team was talented last year (minus QB depth) but extremely young. Good thing college is about player development. 

Plus, if we play the hypothetical game, next year’s freshman DL class is gong to be strong—if nobody else decommits. 

njvictor

August 24th, 2018 at 11:45 PM ^

I agree, Paye, Hutchinson, and Villain could be better players than Gary and Winovich for all we know, so we need to see how they perform this year before getting worried. With that being said, DE is still a question mark after this season. And in terms of the 2019 DL class, I also agree. We have a solid group of guys hopefully coming in across the whole DL. 3 interior guys in Hinton (guessing he'll move inside), Smith and Woods. And currently 2 DEs in Ojabo and Newburg, with the potential of bringing in Karlaftis and/or Harrison.

4th phase

August 24th, 2018 at 5:33 PM ^

The biggest thing I want to see from the defense is a lot of rotation and subbing guys in and out. I think someone mentioned that we lost every game in which the starters played over a certain number of snaps (was it 65?). Theres so much depth at every position, not to mention using package specialists like uche, furbush, nickels and dimes, I hope we rotate liberally. The new redshirt rule is going to help a lot with that even if you just give different freshman 3-5 snaps a game in addition to their special teams duties.

gpsimms not to…

August 24th, 2018 at 5:42 PM ^

Is anyone else super disappointed to hear DPJ is on punt returns again? His OSU return was extremely impressive, but aside from running by low-major competition once, he seemed to lack the shiftiness/explosion that you usually want in a punt returner.

FL_Steve

August 24th, 2018 at 7:25 PM ^

Milton is the real deal. I think it's actually unfair to compare him to Gardner, such higher ceiling and awareness. I just hope he wants to build a legacy that is comprised of more than single season. I also believe he will have the best O-line we will have had under Harbaugh. 

youn2948

August 27th, 2018 at 12:41 PM ^

This.  A quarterback on his ass or a stretcher is no quarterback.  Living for a few years instead of pushed into service, followed by mushy pasts is an entirely different way to develop also.

A few concussions can really throw you off.  Especially in I don't know, learning things like college football playbooks and defenses.

Mgoscottie

August 24th, 2018 at 7:44 PM ^

Why is everyone losing their mind over the 3rd string running back?  Normally there's a starter and someone to back them up.  We have two which covers that.  Is it just because of blocking concerns?

BroadneckBlue21

August 24th, 2018 at 10:29 PM ^

My guess: as much as Higdon has developed, and as great a game as Evans can have, neither has been a consistent workhorse like a Wheatley or Hart. Therefore, we are intrigued by the younger, mostly unseen talent because they forecast the next season’s starting depth chart. See how Bryce Love worked his way into being the heir to  Christian McCafferey at Stanford over Barry Jr. we wa t to see the potential of a workhorse in whoever rises from the underclassmen.

Vote_Crisler_1937

August 24th, 2018 at 9:07 PM ^

Seth, 

don’t type this: 

“Also we’re talking about the Michigan equivalent to second-string shortstop on the 1991 Orioles.” 

Just don’t do it. Don’t say stuff like that before the season. I apologize to any Gods who may get angered about that phrase.