This Week's Obsession: Handicapping the Position Battles Comment Count

Seth August 14th, 2013 at 10:38 AM


Weird line combinations and depth stuff have been coming out of practice. What should we believe, what's motivational, what's a boo boo, what's anything in this crazy world? We go under cover and bring you the NEWS that HITS the HARDEST (at least until Jake Ryan returns, because he hits harder than our news). The staff:

  • Brian Woodward
  • Seth Bernstein
  • Ace Bradlee
  • Heiko Felt, Sr.
  • Blue in South Katherine Graham
  • Watergathlete
  • Deep Throw

And the question:

Heiko and I have been arguing about this on gchat and I thought I'd bring it to the team. We want to know where you think there are real positional battles going on right now, and how you're handicapping them. For example:

Center: 55% Glasgow, 40% Miller, 5% Kugler
SAM: 85% Gordon, 15% Beyer
Norfleet: 100% Norfleet, 400% Norfleet, Norfleet% Norfleet.

Mathlete: Shouldn't it be Norfleet: 75% Slot, 20% RB, 5% DB, 100% Awesome?

Ace: The lineup seems refreshingly settled at most spots (hooray depth!); the only positions I see having real competition are tailback, outside receiver, center, and strongside linebacker, though it'll be interesting to see if there are any surprises in the defensive backfield with the return of Blake Countess and Dymonte Thomas's potential early impact at nickel. I'm operating under the assumption that Keith Heitzman earns the nod at SDE and Jibreel Black starts at three-tech with Chris Wormley playing a key role as a backup.

Starting from the top, we've discussed the running back battle ad nauseam; Fitz Toussaint should start against CMU and Derrick Green will push for more and more carries as the season wears on. I'll go 99% Toussaint (barring injury) and a 1% chance that Dennis Norfleet gets the season's first carry as Al Borges epically trolls Brian.

[Surprising (and probably meaningless) revelations and scandal, minus the scandal, after the jump]

Fuller - 8359947654_9ba513b15e_o
Chesson projects to be the more
productive eventually but Darboh
is still ahead of him. | Fuller

The outside receiver spot across from Jeremy Gallon should feature either Amara Darboh or Jehu Chesson, who've both received plenty of practice hype. Darboh trotted out with the ones when the BTN crew took in a practice, but given the sheer wonkiness of that lineup (see: Joe Bolden, starting MIKE), I'm not sure that tells us anything. Darboh is the bigger target and came in with more recruiting hype; Chesson may still need to add weight, but he's got more speed than Darboh and may possess better hands, too. Both should see plenty of time, and I'm going to do the proverbial punt and call this a 50-50 race.

The center battle, quite frankly, scares me a bit. In an ideal world, I think the coaches would go with Jack Miller — the guy they've groomed to take over the spot for the last two years — and let Graham Glasgow be a guy they could pull off the bench and insert into any of the three interior line spots. The fact that Glasgow is still getting first-team center reps makes me think that Miller isn't performing as hoped — certainly a negative take, but remember that Miller couldn't crack the lineup last year despite the poor interior line play — and Glasgow may in fact have the edge. My guess: 60% Glasgow, 39% Miller, 1% Kugler.

I'm not sold on Cam Gordon as the starting SAM — while it's not entirely his fault (looking at you, GERG), he's bounced around for years without finding a positional home, and he was mostly a nickel DE last year. Brennen Beyer, albeit a position-switch guy himself, is a more proven commodity and also brings more size to the defense, something this coaching staff prioritizes. I think Gordon will see plenty of snaps, especially on passing downs, but my guess is Beyer earns the starting nod. Attaching numbers to my guesswork: Beyer 65%, Gordon 35%.

Dennis Norfleet: 95% slot, ∞% electric.

Upchurch -8645418837_95a9855139_o
This: not happening. Signed, your
memories of 2008. | Upchurch

BiSB: Ace's list seems pretty comprehensive. And like Ace, I have no idea what to predict for center anymore. I think Miller is the starter by the end of the year, but do the coaches think he can stand up to Louis Nix? Oh, hell. 51% Miller, 50% Glasgow, -1% Kugler. I'm somewhat more confident that Darboh wins the WR2 spot; they have a couple of field stretchers in Gallon and Funchess, so it would make sense to throw a big tough handsy guy out there, and Darboh fits the bill. Combine that with the constant practice hype, and I'll say 70% Darboh, 25% Chesson, 5% Jeremy Jackson. At SAM, I don't know if we're even going to have a clear winner. Beyer and Gordon will split snaps situationally, and will soundly but unspectacularly tend the spot in tandem until the glorious return of His Flowness. And as for tailback, I think [paste the 16,000 words from last week here].

The only additions I'd have are left guard and backup QB, and I only say left guard because my super-secret insider source (who I can't reveal, but is probably Heiko) says that Chris Bryant is still pushing Braden. I'll say Braden is still a 90/10 favorite until my source indicates otherwise. At backup QB, it's probably more about Cleary than Morris; if Cleary is capable of serving as a functional backup, they'll redshirt Morris. So I kinda doubt they redshirt Morris. 80/20 Shane takes the 2nd team snaps on the 31st.

[Norfleet joke]

Brian: Y'all are forgetting some very real battles at cornerback and tight end and fullback. 

At CB, Countess is pretty much a sure thing but the second spot seems like a genuine tossup between Courtney Avery--far more healthy this year after a chronic back issue--Raymon Taylor, and even Delonte Holowell, he of the monster spring and continually incredible smallness. Depending on who you talk to, Avery has the edge on returning-ish starter Taylor. I'm a little skeptical since Avery lost that battle straight-up a year ago and Taylor brings the closest thing to run support Michigan's going to get from their collection of mighty mites this year.

Upchurch - 7078574923_b2c368a3d0_o
Somebody other than Kerridge can
handle this part of fullbacking |

Tight end and fullback are kind of the same group of snaps, with available playing time expanding based on how much Borges likes having two large blocky types on the field instead of Drew Dileo and THE NORFLEET. Each guy has a role he's best for (Kerridge: BOOM, Hill: catchyboom, Williams: inline boom, Shallman: comboboom, Funchess: seamseamseam). Funchess has the inside track, but Michigan's weapons are potentially diverse... if they can't stop being freshman.

Meanwhile, Ace mentions in passing that the SDE and three-tech battles are up in the air; those need more attention. Black is still struggling to crack 280 as a DT and SDE is basically a maelstrom with Keith Heitzman a favorite mostly by default. He's got guys pressing him from behind who are not true freshman and is not that much older; he's also much less touted than his competitors. With Wormley apparently at SDE--I guess--Black is probably safe, but nonzero chance he just can't hold up.

Y'all crazy if you think

1) Darboh isn't starting opposite Gallon.

2) Morris won't supplant Cleary by the opener.

3) Borges isn't trolling us on a daily basis.

Seth: An unnamed source has been bothering me on gchat a bunch lately with these same Chris Bryant and Courtney Avery rumors. I've been collecting a few of my own though. First some things that aren't battles anymore:

Fullback/Tight end: Notable lack of Houma in mentions, including Brian's. Reiterate what he said about different weapons but you should know most formations have had at least Funchess or Williams . Both have supposedly come a long way, A.J. further, and the freshmen are a goodly amount behind.

Wide receiver: 100% Gallon, 100% Darboh, and then in descending order it's been Dileo, Chesson, Reynolds, Jackson, other bodies. By the powers of NORFLEET the freshmen all ought to redshirt.

Right guard: Kalis.

DT: Washington and Black, though they're drilling Pipkins up. There's been some weirdness confirmed by two sources that Strobel and Ash were rotating in with other presumed twos around them, but I think you can discount that because Henry and Pipkins have been snapping with everybody. Percenting relevant snaps: 75% Washington, 25% Pipkins by design at NT. Three-tech: 45% Black, 25% Henry, 20% Pipkins, 5% Strobel, 5% Wormley.

Safety: set. Wilson's being tempered in hellfires to get him ready and has been standing up okay not great. Lack of depth is a problem so if you've got an extra bull you should probably ready him for sacrifice to AMSHG.

Possible warzone:

Middle Linebackers: Ross is set but Bolden isn't so far back from Morgan—at this point I'd imagine is more "will rotate in more often" but keeping an eye there. Freshmen are challenging RJS.


SDE has been covered. Wormley is too slow to go around people but that doesn't matter so much because he's just moving them out of his way. The nickel package had Strobel there. I'm hearing less about Godin than we were in spring. 45% Heitzman, 35% Wormley, 24% Strobel, 1% Godin.

Upgrade your center panic one notch. Glasgow still has a slight edge despite Miller being groomed for this position for years. Co-sign BiSB's weird math.

Chris Bryant has reportedly leapt
into the left guard race for srsly.
| Fuller photo.

At left guard there seems to be a problem with Braden's pulling, and that's why he's not with the ones. That actually eases my panic a bit, since Michigan's short on ready-to-use interior depth and if Chris Bryant is plausible that gives Michigan somebody other than Glasgow. And if Bryant does start (still not predicting that), it means the top backup at tackle (Braden) isn't already on the field. 60% Braden climbing to 80% by season's end, the rest Bryant.

On the cornerback battle, I mentioned to unnamed source that in 2011 right about now we heard "Mike Jones: starting WILL" and Brandon Herron was starting there for WMU. Heiko got a bit of an answer when Mattison talked about how they'd been practicing with "left" and "right" spots instead of field and boundary. The specialization will return but for now Mattison has been using equalization as a teaching instrument, and the generalization benefits Averyization. There are plenty of snaps for both, but Avery makes far more sense as the swingman who can back up either guy and play nickel or dime back. 75% Taylor, 25% Avery. Also Jourdan Lewis needs to eat and process about 1,000 more meals first, but he's going to be good.

Unnamed source has also been on about the SAM battle and I've been blowing him off because there was a wide gap in spring. That is progressively becoming less certain, but why not? Beyer moved there in late march and thus has a steeper learning curve, while Gordon's been at some version of SAM since the week before Penn State in 2010, and this version of SAM since Mattison arrived. Normal progression should see that gap thinning rapidly. I'll upgrade the Beyer hype the moment someone says he can cover as well or better than Cam. Both will play, and both will be C or C+ options until Ryan returns. 51% Gordon.

BiSB: Someone needs to start keeping a database of the rumors that come out of fall camp every year. Some sort of record of the Two-Deep Less Traveled, whereby we can ponder a world in which Mike Jones and Mark Moundros are your starting linebackers, Nathan Brink is your starting SDE, Max Martin is the real deal, and Denard Robinson has a chance to pass Tate Forcier on the depth chart.

Mathlete: At this point I don't know that I have more to add to the esteemed insight from the staff other than baseless speculation. I don't deal in guesses and phantom gchat sources, I deal in data. Unfortunately when I queried ye olde database for 2013 Michigan starting lineup, the first entry was for quarterback and it said 1st: Devin Gardner, 2nd: <NULL>. I didn't have the courage to continue after that. I wouldn't dare do the same query for 2008.

Heiko: Can we give unnamed source a name? I like "Deep Throw."

[mutters some excuse about fly testicles and departs]

Heiko: Actually I have nothing to add either, other than Deep Throw is currently telling me about how Chris Bryant and Graham Glasgow are consistently running with the ones right now.


Our unnamed source comes with the official Rex Grossman Seal of Approval.

BiSB: "Follow the money," you say?
/purchases bus ticket to Oxford, Mississippi.
Wow. That was easier than I thought.


Monocle Smile

August 14th, 2013 at 10:54 AM ^

Beyer's big and the coaches like him, but what with BTN showing all sorts of replays from last season, I've been seeing him get repeatedly punk'd by the likes of Kain Colter and similar runners. Even when he does properly chase after these guys, he's just a step slow. I'd much rather see Gordon out there starting; while not quite as strong at the point of attack, he does have a knack for appearing in the backfield.

Bryant pushing Braden is great news, especially for next season.

The less we see of Jeremy Jackson, the better. I mean, seriously. Of course, I wouldn't object to being served a tall, frosty glass of shut up should he turn into a TD machine miraculously.

Also, August 31st might not tell us anything at all about the defense, either performance- or personnel-wise. Remember 2011 when no one appeared to know their ass from their elbow with all the alignment problems? They'll settle in within a few weeks.


August 14th, 2013 at 11:13 AM ^

Reading this has transformed my "optimistic about improvement from the interior line" position into "abject terror."

Spin it how you like, but if Bryant and Glasgow are starting in a couple of weeks, we have problems.

Zone Left

August 14th, 2013 at 11:52 AM ^

I don't know that you should be too concerned about Bryant vs Braden. He was injured, but had a bunch of hype coming in and is a natural guard. Pulling is straight-up hard. It takes a certain level of talent for a 300lb man to face straight, turn left, lose minimum depth, move at 100%, change direction again, break down, and then engage a defender who you haven't seen since you were in a three point stance. Some of those skills translate to Braden being "super athletic," but some are more innate. 

Glasgow, yeah, I'm concerned too.


August 14th, 2013 at 12:21 PM ^

Naturally, I could be wrong about this; this entire preseason blog conversation is an exercise in (enjoyable!) wild speculation anyway. However, with all the talk of how gifted Braden is, I would expect him to be able to develop the skills to use that talent in games at a place where we need him to function. 

Now, this all could be empty rhetoric anyway. I'm not super-clear on timelines, but my understanding is that hitting wasn't even supposed to start until this week, and early practice reps can be distributed in a strange way, as the OP discusses. So Bryant's presence with the ones may just be an exercise developing some chemistry with the rest of the line. If, as is suggested, Braden is the first guy up at RT if one of our tackles goes down, developing chemistry and depth is a wise move.

Things will be clearer closer to gameday. But I am less inclined to think "I'm sure they'll be ok" now after seeing that a center flip last season portended a year of dreadful interior play.


August 14th, 2013 at 3:04 PM ^

All of these guys are seeing the field for the first time -- even Bryant (who probably qualifies for a 2012 medical redshirt and thus is still a redshirt freshman) -- whatever uncertainty there is, it isn't like last year.

I mean, it's really an incredible feat of something akin to the wisdom of the ancients that managed to redshirt both Kalis and Braden on the interior line, despite what must have been truly Kate Upton-levels of temptation to use them as the season progressed.

For me, the only real concern is at center -- of all the interior linemen, Miller and Glasgow are the only two competing who have been on the field before (not counting Burzynski), but neither played much last year despite obvious need at their positions as the season wore on.


August 14th, 2013 at 2:58 PM ^

Yeah, at center I agree with you. 

But as far as Bryant goes, I am actually pretty excited about the his potential emergence.  Actually, I was much more worried about the prospect of Braden on the interior, considering that until that point he was regarded as a clear tackle prospect and is still just a redshirt freshman.  Bryant has a year of experience at his natural position, and if he gets beat out by a redshirt freshman tackle prospect I think that is cause for concern, injury and Braden hype be damned.  In fact, I think all of the Braden hype is even better, and would suggest that despite Braden being a physical freak, Bryant has been good enough to win the job.  I think the best case scenario is to see Braden as the first guy off the bench in the event of an injury or to give a guy a either tackle or guard. 


August 14th, 2013 at 12:17 PM ^

If we are to believe anything of the hype surrounding Braden's "physicality and genetics", I have to also believe his floor is relatively high.  If he's being pushed by Bryant and/or Glasgow, maybe they have just made some gains.  Let's not forget this is only year 3 (and in many respects year 1) of this offense.  Great improvements from existing talent are to be expected at this stage.

Space Coyote

August 14th, 2013 at 11:23 AM ^

I have potential reasons for why this is, non-PC reasons, but it's safe to assume that they both hate the other with a fiery passion that will confuse everyone when it turns out they've just been in love this whole time...

On the flip side, Brian really forgetting about Houma, who I like as an athlete coming out of the backfield and really playing up that slip pass into the flat off of play-action, along with the occasional wheel route. I think he'll get more snaps at FB this year than he did last, though I think Kerridge is the best blocking FB Michigan has had since Dudley.

I think Taylor ends up winning the CB spot and I think Hollowell is the real compitition there. I don't think Avery would be as bad as most do if he got more practice reps out there, but he actually fits the NB role well on passing downs: quick footed guy that doesn't really turn and run well, but can jump some of the underneath routes quickly.

I'd give the edge to Darboh because I think Borges likes more physical WR in his system and Darboh fits that mold well. Fitz is starting.

I think snaps at MIKE will be split about 65-35 early, and I expect Bolden to also split with Ross about 10% of the time, with RJS probably getting an equal amount of snaps at the WILL.

SDE or 3-tech aren't as clear yet, but I think that's more of a situational/type of offense Michigan is playing more than one being better than the other. Zone running or spread teams, I think Black wins the 3-tech spot, power teams, look for a bigger, more DT-type body to fit in there that can hold up to down blocks and traps. Same goes for 5-tech, where I think Heitzman is your nominal starter, but against spread teams you may get someone a little more athletic out there.

I'm taking Gordon as the starting SAM. I think the lost reps this fall for Beyer may have him take a step back. Still, I expect them to get a fairly equal amount of snaps early, with Beyer more the run heavy guy and Gordon more for passing downs because he's better in coverage and attacking the QB.

Shane is backup QB and it's already been determined IMO, they just won't say that because they want Morris to feel the competition.

I think Glasgow ends up winning the Center spot, but reps will be split the first game to give guys another chance still. The coaches won't like it, but we'll forced to do it.

I also think we have one FG kicker this year, regardless of distance, in Gibbons. No more long FG kicker and short FG kicker, anything under 54 goes to Gibbons.


August 14th, 2013 at 11:51 AM ^

Seth-Heiko State Rivalry: Based on mutual respect, timeliness of submitting HTTV articles, and he's pissed I'm going to steal Opponent Watch from him this year. But we respect each others' medical opinions (which is to say I call him with doctor questions and he rolls his eyes as I try to explain what I think is happening).

Houma: Not just Brian forgetting about him--zero practice chatter generated, as opposed to Shallman who is doing things. Sione expected to block better than Kerridge but needs to block well enough to justify a weapon spot, otherwise he's just telegraphing "FB Dive" as soon as he enters. He'd be great as an triple-option fullback given his instant acceleration and compactness. Would LOVE to see Michigan try this out of their pistol: read-option to the fullback then pitch option with Gardner and Green--can change it up by changing which RB is the dive read (could you imagine Green barrelling into the second level past an end trying to contain?) Anyway Houma apparently is behind the other guys now.

Cornerback: We're all saying that, practice observers are all saying Avery is with the ones and Michigan has scrapped boundary-field for left-right and CBs vary their techniques. Reading between the lines of Mattison's presser response, maybe Avery has come a ways--he should just be a RS Junior now by rights and was a QB in high school, plus he wasted his first year getting coached by Gibson--and the coaches believe he's just a better player than Taylor right now.

Receiver: Darboh is clearly the #2 receiver right now and garnering hype for everything except separation, which I take to mean he's just dominating Michigan's tiny Cass Tech corners but they're at least keeping up with him. I'm nervous that we don't really have the same kind of corners that he'll be facing most of the schedule: Notre Dame's are big converted WRs. MSU's are big and smart. OSU's are big and more athletic (and clearly mentally handicapped). Penn State has safety-like CBs too. Only Northwestern of the nervous opponents has a lot of tiny-smart dudes who'll be at a significant disadvantage trying to cover Darboh. Gallon is going to be more effective against these defensive backfields than Darboh. Chesson just needs time.

3- and 5-tech: I'm with you. Situational, rotational, don't read anything except the 4-star RS freshmen are competitive and that's what we wanted to see.

SAM: I keep throwing out plausible explanations for Beyer running 1st team because I think it's Gordon too. Latest one: Beyer needs the practice more, and like you said both need to be ready because we'll want Beyer in there against power running teams; Gordon can be too easily erased by a block.

QB: Like, obviously.
Center: I don't see them splitting reps. Maybe one guy will emerge and replace after a week but the center is the one guy you really don't want to be changing out all the time. We saw when they put in Molk in the Sugar Bowl despite him having just one leg: the ability to call the assignments and snap the ball is more important than whether we have an inside game.
Kicker: Edit that to anything under 48 is Gibbons. Wile still has the long leg of the two.


August 14th, 2013 at 12:10 PM ^

you can't really have a triple option play, you have to have a triple option offense.  you need to practice it enough to ensure that you don't screw it up.  running it as a surprise play every once in a while is just asking for a turnover.


August 14th, 2013 at 11:42 AM ^

I'm not sure why people seem to assume a non-Braden/Miller/Kalis line would necessarily be bad, or even that it would be a less preferable option. Bryant is a true guard, unlike Braden, so if he can win the spot, that might actually be a pretty good sign. Remember, he might have actually started last year if he didn't break a leg.

Bryant being back and in the fight to win a spot is also huge boost for interior depth, which otherwise stands at Glasgow/Miller loser, Burzynzki, Blake Bars, and the true freshmen. Also, we would have something more closely resembling a two-deep, whereby a starting tackle getting hurt (/throws salt over shoulder) wouldn't mean reshuffling the entire line.

Space Coyote

August 14th, 2013 at 11:53 AM ^

I think the best way to put it is that the interior line is going to be young and inexperienced. They'll likely show flashes that they are more athletic and physically gifted then the guys that left, but they will also be prone to mistakes. The question about the center position is that neither Miller nor Glasgow are necessarily more physically gifted than the guys that left, Miller struggles moving people, Glasgow struggles with his feet. There are also indications that Miller struggled a bit last year with the mental part of the game, no indication where Glasgow is there. But I think that's the reason for worry at OC and what to look for at the OG positions.

As for Bryant, he's still very inexperienced, but like you say that competition isn't a bad thing. Bryant is a true driving OG that would be very powerful at the point of attack. Braden and him are a little different, but there isn't anything wrong with that competition going forward, in fact, that IMO is good competition.


August 14th, 2013 at 11:53 AM ^

Yeah, I thought I remember there being some hype for Bryant last year before the injury.

I'm pretty optomistic and think whoever ends up starting in those positions will perform ok. However, if the running game is not improved from last year then I do think we will not improve much, if any, over the 8 wins from last year.


August 14th, 2013 at 11:39 AM ^

You mind as well burn some shirts & get these true freshmen's feet wet. Sure, it's not ideal for this year, but at some point, you just gotta bite the bullet and help prepare for the future.

Yes stephenrjking, I am in a total state of ajbect terror as well. 

Ron Utah

August 14th, 2013 at 12:41 PM ^

Every season-opener brings it with at least one big line-up surprise.  Last year it was the Elliot Mealer surprise, since we'd all heard how Barnum was going to be some kind of Wal-Mart (Super-Center) and he turned out to be a below-average OG, while Mealer was a below-average OC.

I think this year's surprise comes on the other line.  I believe Tom Strobel will be your starting SDE.  At 6-6, 265, he's better-suited at the 5-tech than the 3-tech.  That could change as he gains weight, but I'm just not sure he's a DT...yet.

While I'm not real confident in my prediction, I do feel confident that D-line will yield a least one pretty major surprise; either at the 3-tech or the 5-tech, or both.  Expect one or two RS Freshman to be starting.

Here is my current take on the line-up (% to start), with back-ups (guys with no chance of starting, other than a nominal start for WR blocking and such) in order after the semicolons:

WR1: 100% Gallon; Chesson, Reynolds

WR2: 90% Darboh, 10% Chesson; Jackson, Jones (I think he's the freshman to play if one does)

WRslot: 95% Dileo, 5% Norfleet - Norfleet to get about 30% of the snaps

TE: 60% Funchess, 40% Williams - will split snaps based on situation, Funchess will feel like the starter since his name will be called more; Butt, Hill

RB: 65% Fitz, 25% Green, 10% Hayes; Johnson, Rawls, Shallman

FB: 85% Kerridge, 10% Houma, 3% Hill, 2% Shallman

QB: 100% DG; Morris, Cleary

LT: 100% Lewan; Magnuson, Braden

LG: 52% Braden, 45% Bryant, 3% Glasgow; Burzynski

C: 51% Miller, 49% Glasgow; Burzynski

RG: 95% Kalis, 5% Bryant/Glasgow; Burzynski

RT: 100% Schofield; Braden, Magnuson


SS: 100% Gordon; Thomas, Furman, Clark

FS: 95% Wilson, 5% Thomas; Hill (I don't think Hill will RS), Furman, Clark

CB1: 100% Countess; Taylor, Avery, Hollowell

CB2: 45% Taylor, 40% Avery, 15% Hollowell

Nickel: 55% Thomas, 45% Avery; Taylor, Hollowell

SLB: 50% Beyer, 45% Gordon, 5% McCray (I would be shocked if he RS's); Gant

MLB: 55% Morgan, 45% Bolden (this competition is very real, IMO); RJS

WLB: 95% Ross, 3% Bolden, 2% Morgan; RJS

WDE: 100% Clark; Ojemudia, Charlton

DT: ??? 70% Black, 20% Henry, 10% Pipkins - will be situational; Godin

NT: 95% QWash, 5% Pipkins; Ash, Henry

SDE: 40% Strobel, 35% Heitzman, 25% Wormley; Godin



August 14th, 2013 at 12:49 PM ^

Two questions:

1) Say Kalis is terrific, Braden/Bryant is okay, and whoever winds up at center is not very good.  Is there still enough good stuff we can run to hide/minimize the importance of the weak spots that we'll have a good running game? It seems like it wouldn't be too difficut to find easier blocks for the center to make if we're getting good production from the other four line spots and the FB/TE people, though if the problem at C has more to do with getting the line calls right then that might be tougher to work around.

2) How much difference does winning the #2 wide receiver battle really make in terms of PT?  It seems like Michigan changes offensive formations and personnel so much from down-to-down that the #3 guy is going to be on the field plenty anyway--either in 3+ WR sets or rotating in with the guys ahead of him. 


August 14th, 2013 at 1:04 PM ^

The 3rd WR won't just be the third best wide receiver. It'll usually be the #1 slot receiver. If a third receiver trots out with Gallon and Darboh, it won't be Chesson. It'll be Dileo. The #3 guy will still rotate in, but I'm not sure how much.


August 14th, 2013 at 4:02 PM ^

This is kind of a blind-spot for me since I've been living in Seattle since '05 and haven't been to a UM game in person since the '07 Rose Bowl.  But when watching games on TV, it always seems like the WRs are rotating.  You'll see a guy make a 20-yard reception, and then half the time it seems like he's standing on the sideline for the next play.  I guess I just figured the offense cycles through the 2-deep, whether to keep guys fresh after running long routes or for some other purpose--but maybe it's not happening at all and I'm just getting a misleading impression from seeing games exclusively via sattelite. 

I guess the more important point is, I really need to make it back for a game.

Space Coyote

August 14th, 2013 at 1:17 PM ^

Odds that [insert freshman here] redshirts.

My prediction for one people aren't expecting: Shallman is about a 40% chance to RS*

= 90% of fans scream about wasted non-RS

 * I think he'll play a role on special teams this year.




August 14th, 2013 at 3:56 PM ^

But aren't we basing opinion on speculative opinion based on unnamed sourcing and then arguing this has meaning beyond that.

Here is what we know: The Oline wasn't very good at run blocking last year. So that needs to be better no matter who plays. The implication of this discussion seems to be that either it won't be or it could be slightly better based on who plays center and guard. If this is true, then one of two things is also true, the Oline recruits who spent a year redshirting last season, are not as talented as thought and all the hype is more about motivation than actual player growth and development, which mean the coaching is somewhat overrated. 

Michigan used to be an Oline factory, even when most of us didn't know as much as about the guys as we do now and how they grew and developed. The truth is Lewan and Schofield are RichRod recruits, not Hoke's. And we know they can play. 

Running back by committee still needs to produce a mainstay rusher and others capable of producing 2,000 to 3,000 yards combined regardless of who carries the ball and how many times. This has to be in order for this offense to succeed, efficiently and effectively. 

Defensively, Michigan must get pass rush. And whether that comes from the front four or better linebacker, corner or safety blitzing, pressuring the pocket has to happen for Michigan to get off the field on third down efficiently. It matters not who starts and plays in the front seven unless this occurs. Again, we are concerned about production and achievement, not individual standouts or starters. Because nobody is playing every down. 

Examining this from the standpoint of competition is an interesting parlor excercise, but do we really care so long as they do what needs to be done? It's about the team, the team, the team. Yes, I get it, it's about passing time and figuring out who will start and play a lot. 

But there seems to be an over-arching theme that the competition itself means that player inability to lock down a job,  when no starters have been named, is a bad thing -- in terms of actual production when there is no evidence to support that contention. 


August 14th, 2013 at 5:37 PM ^

The whole "idea" of utilizing "left and right" CB's vice "field and boundry" makes sense to me.  I'm guessing it will depend on the matchup of the teams we are playing and Countess will get the #1 guy at all cost.  He will follow him to the field or boundry.  The other CB's will mix it up and be used accordingly.   


August 14th, 2013 at 7:59 PM ^

Unpopular opinion, but I think that many people overvalue Jake Ryan's ability at SAM.  I doubt Beyer and especially Gordon are only C/C+ options behind Ryan at that position.  The dropoff will be minimal.