skill position recruiting under Brady Hoke
Where is the talent?
Hoke's recruiting classes were consistently highly ranked, bringing in 4 and 5 star athletes coveted by other reputable football programs, yet I keep reading that we lag many Big Ten teams in talent. I find it hard to believe Hoke is this bad at talent evaluation and missed on this many athletes. What do you think of the innate talent on the roster? Is this a pure development issue, or was Hoke that unlucky or bad at identifying talent?
Peter from Horsham, PA
It could be there, but concealed by the Hoke chaos.
Last year's D was 14th in yards per play and returns eight or nine starters, depending on how you define the term. The only personnel losses were Raymon Taylor, Frank Clark, Jake Ryan, and Brennen Beyer; Michigan gets Desmond Morgan off an injury redshirt and adds Wayne Lyons.
It didn't feel like that good of a defense, though. Part of that was the quality of competition. Michigan is 41st in FEI despite having shiny regular stats. (MSU is one spot ahead of them in 40th.) Part of that was the offense putting the D out there so often in bad situations that they were going to crack eventually. Many, many games over the past two years have had a similar pattern. The defense scratches and claws to keep Michigan in it and then they collapse in the fourth quarter because they're out of juice.
The other part of that was Michigan going to a man press defense their team simply could not hack. Blake Countess was exposed for half the season before they went back to their old ways. Is that "talent"? In some ways. But Hoke took an All Big Ten sophomore and destroyed him because he couldn't see that he was being put in a terrible situation for his skill set.
Meanwhile on offense… I got nothing. With the exception of projected TE Devin Funchess, Michigan recruited horribly at QB and WR under Hoke. The Chesson/Darboh class was all right, but they appear to have missed on all three guys they took the next year and the jury is very much out on last year's class. QB… I want to throw a rock in Hoke's general direction every time I think about it.
Recruiting very badly at QB is a way to have your recruiting rankings far outstrip your ability to play football. It's only one spot. Michigan's piles of OL are five. Michigan has nothing to show from the Hoke era other than a three star they took early with little competition and Shane Morris, who it is now clear was wildly overrated by the services. Morris is the kind of boom-or-bust guy you can take happily in a Harbaugh context where the roster has five or six or seven QBs on it; he is a disaster waiting to happen if the two guys in front of him are Russell Bellomy and air and the guy behind him is a middling three star. Harbaugh set about fixing that, at least.
Meanwhile the places Hoke did best—the lines—are the ones where you have to wait the longest to get a return on your investment. OL are particularly unpredictable.
And, yes, I do think Hoke was pretty bad at IDing talent. Look at the Dukes/Jones/York WR class, or the performance of the tailbacks he brought in, or the Wangler/Ferns/Furbush/Winovich LB class. Do not get me started on the tailbacks. Look at the decision to move to press man.
Defensive line is an obvious exception, where Michigan's turned two three-star Glenville projects into real players, but that just re-confirms that Hoke was a pretty good DL coach who ended up in way over his head.
Uppity so-and-sos with their thesauri
Excuse me while I correct your nerdom with my (apparently) superior nerdom. Ferret Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson would not be the correct name. What you are looking for is Ferret Super Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson. In the first Tecmo Bowl, Bo Jackson was just a man. It is in Super Tecmo Bowl that he became an unstoppable run-circles-around-the-cpu-god. Surely you did not mean to name the ferret after the lesser of the two Bo Jacksons.
Bro. I said I would brook no criticism about my asymptotically perfect ferret names, and yet here you are, brooking your ass off. Well, BEN, clearly "Ferret Super Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson" is clunky and unwieldy and stupid, as any six-year-old child could see. It is obvious to any Tecmo Bowl connoisseur that we are talking about the destroyer of worlds Bo Jackson, "Super" or not. Humor, prose, and lovemaking are all about omitting unnecessary flourishes. So too are ferret names.
[After the JUMP: Ben gets commuppanced hrrrrrd]
Sorry, Tecmo Super Bowl, that is.
With Wayne Lyons official, how will this impact the rotation in the secondary? I have seen comments about pushing Countess to the nickel, but thought Peppers was supposed to be our hybrid nickel beast. Depending on how it sorts out, I can see it impacting playing time for projected starters Countess, D. Hill, and James Ross plus our army of upperclassmen backup linebackers and safeties (let's redshirt more strategically, OK khaki brother?).
Jake from State Farm
If this is actually Jake from State Farm, please get your company to stop running that ad. It was fun for a bit. But it is now older than Craig Ross. Film some new spots, diversify your character. And so forth.
So, JAKE. Your question. There a three certain starters in the secondary: Jarrod Wilson, Jabrill Peppers, and Jourdan Lewis. Peppers looks like your nickelback in all situations. Lyons either starts as the boundary corner opposite Lewis, pushing Countess to spotting either starter, or does the spotting himself.
There's some possibility that he plays safety; I am leery of the possibility of a guy in a new system at safety, fifth year senior or not. I would take a Lyons move to S as bad news about Delano Hill and Jeremy Clark.
James Ross's playing time is more dependent on matchups than Lyons. If Michigan likes their second deep safety and their nickel, he'll get squeezed. Ross can move inside to compete with Morgan and Bolden in that case; even so someone is likely to end up the odd man out. From his perspective, that's a problem. From ours it's a good problem.
Any insight into how the Big Ten suddenly has 6 teams probably heading to the tournament, with two more on the bubble (including us)? And probably nationally seeded teams two years in a row? Does this season make you rethink your stance on the Big Ten going rebel from the NCAA for baseball?
HAIL TO THE VICTORS!
Illinois is ranked #2? And Iowa #13? I admit I had not been paying attention, and that is bonkers. I have no idea how that is happening and I don't think anyone else does either. Best I could find in the Illinois blog world:
Specifically a pair of juniors, starter Kevin Duchene and closer Tyler Jay, have been standouts for Hartleb's squad. Duchene has a 0.74 ERA and for a starting pitcher that's just ridiculous. That means he's allowing less than one earned run per nine innings. And then there's Jay, who has compiled a 0.78 ERA (third-best in the nation) and a 0.63 WHIP (best in the nation).
On the offensive side of the ball, senior Casey Fletcher is hitting a team-high .350 average and has also driven in 28 runs at the plate this season. He was just named Big Ten player of the week after going eight-for-sixteen in just four games. The Illini lead the conference with 37 total home runs hit and senior power-threat David Kerian has hit 10 of them by himself. There are very few offensive categories that Illinois doesn't lead the conference in. If the Big Ten Tournament started tomorrow, the Illini would be the #1 seed.
That doesn't have much explanation in it, nor does it indicate if this is a fluke or not. Given the history of college baseball I lean towards fluke, because the fundamental force that prevents northern teams from competing seriously most of the time haven't and aren't changing: the weather. As long as the season starts in February, Big Ten teams are going to be on the road for months at a time.
Even if the Big Ten is doing better these days I'd love it if they gave the rest of the NCAA the bird and decided they were going to play through August, and with wood bats. These kids end up playing independent league ball during the portion of the summer they're forcibly idled, anyway, and it would give college towns some summer activity. It would also give the Big Ten Network something to show.
Take the domestic violence factor out of the equation for the moment (which shouldn't be hard since it looks like that's what the Seahawks did), what did Frank Clark do to warrant being a second round pick? He seemed to be mercurial on his production. Is there something I'm missing here?
I was surprised, but I didn't think that pick was that crazy after thinking about it. You know, minus the domestic violence factor.
Clark suffered from problems on the interior line and at corner for much of last year. I've been going over the UFRs as I write the Hail To The Victors team preview, and there is a constant refrain in there: if someone could just cover someone or stay in their lane, Clark would be having a day. This clip was his year in a nutshell.
If Golson wasn't getting rid of the ball in rhythm because his first read was Will Fuller and Will Fuller was always open, Clark would have had a monster day.
Another factor: Michigan's young DTs would often get out of place and turn a Clark pressure into a scramble.
Clark got consistently good grades in UFR despite his lack of box score production. He displayed very good power and quickness. I get that the Seahawks thought he was worth a late second round pick on talent.