M FB 2014: Now featuring talent and depth.

Submitted by Mich1993 on July 5th, 2014 at 11:16 PM

Feeling generally positive about the state of the roster in spite of last seasons results, I took a look at where we stand in terms of stars and then in terms of stars and experience.  Not the perfect measure of a team but seemed like a good place to start.

 

Here’s what I found:

 

5*

4*

3* or lower

Total 4*+

CB

FR

SR-2s, JR-2s, JR, SO-1

SR, SO-1, FR

5

Safety

 

JR-1s, SO, SO

SO

3

LB

 

JR-1s, JR-1, JR, SO-1, FR, FR, FR

SR-3s, SR-3s, SO, FR, FR

7

DT

JR-1

SO, SO, FR, FR, FR

SO-1, SO, FR

5

DE

 

SR-1s, JR-1, SO-1, SO, FR

SR-1s

5

 

 

 

 

 

QB

SR-1s, SO-1

 

JR, FR

2

RB

SO-1, SO

JR-1, SO-1, SO-1, FR

SO

6

T

 

SO-1s, FR, FR, FR

SO

4

G

SO-1s

SO-1s, SO, FR, FR, FR

 

6

C

FR

 

JR-1s, JR-1s, SR-1, FR

1

WR

 

JR-2s, JR-2, SO-1, FR, FR, FR

SO-1s, SO, FR, FR

6

TE

 

SO-1s, FR

JR-2, JR, FR

2

SR, JR, SO and FR are obvious (did not differentiate redshirts).  2s is a returning starter that has started for 2 years.  1s is a returning starter that started the previous year.  2 or 1 is two years or one year of playing significant minutes.  My definition for this was that they were a regular part of the rotation.  For example, I counted Bolden and Gedeon as guys who played, but I did not count Dymonte Thomas or Ryan Glasgow. 

 

Overall, we’ve got twenty-seven 4* or greater on defense and twenty-six 4* or greater on offense.  We also have two 4*s for every starting position except at center (one 5*) and safety (three 4*s).  From a talent standpoint, this appears to be how you would want to build a roster.  The talent and depth is significant, and it is evenly spread across all positions as well as across offense and defense.  Combine this with a top notch defensive and offensive coodrinator along with near zero attrition, and it sounds like exaclty how one would want to build a roster. 

I believe strongly this team is set up for consistent success for years to come.  The big question is when does the winning start.  I consider this in the next section when I consider both experience and talent.

Experience and talent

For this review, I’m considering it a good position if there is at least one 4* or greater JR or SR for each starting postion.  Next best is a 4* or greater sophomore who played significant minutes (or started) the previous year and then 3* JRs and SRs who started the previous year.

Defense

Strengths: 

CB:  Two 4* two year starters returning, 1 SR (Taylor) and 1 JR (Countess) plus a 4* (Lewis) and 3* (Stribling) sophomore who played significant minutes and a 4* JR (Richardson) along with a 5* true freshman.  Plenty of good options here.

LB:  Two 3* SRs (Ryan and Morgan) that have started for 3 years.  Three 4* JRs one who started (Ross) and one who played significant minutes (Bolden).  Also a 4* SO (Gedeon) who played significant minutes.

DE:  A 4* SR and a 3*SR (Beyer and Clark) who started last year along with a 4* JR (Ojemudia) and a 4* sophomore (Wormley) who played significant minutes.  Also a 4* SO that played some last year (Charlton).  Clark, Beyer and Ojemudia will do well here.  If Charlton comes on that will be a major plus for the defense.

 

Mild Concerns:

Safety:  4* JR returning starter (ok so far) along with two 4* SOs and a 3* redshirt SO none of which have played at all yet.  I’d feel great about Wilson if he were the second best safety.  I do think he’ll be ok.  For the other spot, there are 3 players who might be fine to good but have only Dymonte Thomas’ limited playing time and Delano Hill on special teams of game experience between them.  The strength at CB and LB will help this position.  Overall, I think the safeties will do fine with some excellent play and only a few ‘ugh’ moments on the year.  Something to watch, but not a major concern.

DT:  This surprised me as an area of concern with only Pipkins coming back from injury as a JR/SR 4* or higher.  If you put Wormley at DT (likely), that gives us a returning 4* who has played.  3* Willie Henry played last year as redshirt freshman and was very good for a RS-FR.  I think he’ll be fine at one of the DT postions.  Pipkins, we’ll see if he’s healthy, but I’ll consider it a pleasant surprise if he can play well this year.  Godin is back as a 4* RS-SO who played a little last year.  I think he’ll play some and be ok.  Hurst is a 4* RS-FR with some hype.  I’m expecting Willie Henry (from last year) level play or better from Hurst in a reserve roll.  I think Wormley or Glasgow (looked very good starting in the spring game) will be the second starter alongside Henry if not Pipkins, and either of them will be ok but not spectacular.  I see enough options here that we should be fine.  A healthy Pipkins and/or a big step forward from Henry, Hurst, Wormley or Glasgow leaves a chance this could turn into a strength.

 

Overall, I see plenty of strengths on defense to allow the safeties with talent but limited experience to grow on the job.  The defense will be dominant at times and solid the rest of the time while giving up a few big plays this year due to inexperience at safety.  I think with Clark and Ryan along with some penetrating DTs and an aggressive defense, we’ll get much more pressure on the quarterback then we had last year.  This is the year the defense arrives as a Top 10 defense (should be even better in 2015).    

 

Offense

Strengths:

QB:  Have to consider a 5* SR QB returning starter as a strength.  In addition, Devin is backed up by a 5* sophomore (Morris) who started one game last year and played pretty well.  Devin was up and down last year, but we should be fine at this position.

WR (?):  By my metrics, this looks good with a 4* JR (Funchess) who has started for two years and a 4* junior (Norfleet) who has played two years along with a 4* sophomore (Darboh) who played previously and a 3* sophomore (Chesson) who started the previous year.  However, Norfleet played RB and KR and not much WR.  Darboh is coming off an injury and didn’t do much when he was playing as a true freshman.  Chesson did some good things (mostly blocking) but doesn’t seem poised to be a dominant receiver.  All in all, I’m confident we’ll get a pretty good #2 and #3 receiver from Canteen, Darboh and Chesson plus Norfleet  to go along with a star receiver in Funchess, but noone beyond Funchess has Big Ten success to back that up.  If Canteen didn’t look so good in the spring game to go along with his practice hype, I’d be nervous.

RB (?):  4* JR (Hayes) who played a little last year with 5* (Green) and 4* (Smith) SOs who both played last year.  Would be nice if there was a starter or someone who was successful coming back, but this position should be fine with some combination of these three.  

 

Concerns:

T:  This is the #1 concern on the roster (ok, we knew that).  Zero 4* or better JR or SRs.  4* SO Magnuson comes back as a starter (at guard) from last year.  He will be fine.  3* RS-SO Braden played in goal-line situations late last year and looked ok but not great in the spring game.  He might be ok.  Glasgow, a JR walk-on who started last year (at center), would be fine at RT if Braden isn’t ready and someone else can play center.  There is a possibility this will be ok, but Braden’s development is critical.

TE:  This looks ok on paper with a 4* SO successful returning starter (Butt) and a 3* (Williams) returning who has played a lot for 2 years but unfortunately that’s not the whole story.  Butt is injured and out the first few games and likely will take several games or more after that until he is back to last years level.  Butt sounds like he will be back by the 4th game.  I think he will be ok, but not the high level of production this year you’d like from the position.  Williams has played quite a lot, but he is just a blocker and hasn’t been a good one so far.  Williams looked much improved as a blocker in the spring game.  I’m hopeful his spring game performance is real, and he’ll be a decent blocking TE this year.  If not, I think Heitzman will be fine as a blocking TE.  If we need a pass threat before Butt comes back, Khalid Hill and Ian Bunting are options but neither is likely to be effective blocking.  The TE play will be adequate but nothing special.      

C:   This is a tough one to judge.  We have a returning starter walk-on backed up by a 3* JR who started four games last year before being benched backed up by a 5* R-FR.  I believe Glasgow is a good player and will be fine if he stays at center.  I was impressed by Kugler’s solid play in the spring game.  My hope is Kugler comes on strong and takes the job in fall practice so that Glasgow can start somewhere else.  Center should be ok but not great with Glasgow or Kugler. 

G:  On paper, this doesn’t look bad with a 5* R-SO and a 4* SO who both started multiple games last year.  However, given the OL play last year, the fact they started doesn’t mean as much.  Similar to center, I think Kalis and Bosch will be ok but not great.

Summary

Overall, I see an offense that if things break right (Braden or Kugler step it up, Devin improves at QB, Canteen makes big plays) could be very good, but more likely is 1 year away from being a Top 10-20 offense.  There are just too many positions that need 1 more year of experience to feel confident going into the season, and if more than one OL is injured things could get ugly fast.  I do think the offense will be much more consistent than last year.  The running game will be better (new offensive coordinator, all OL have played some, RBs showed cutback ability in spring game) and there will be fewer turnovers.  With an excellent defense, this will be enough for the team to take a big step forward from last year and set us up for excellence in 2015.

Comments

miatamich

July 6th, 2014 at 7:22 AM ^

The days of Michigan having a true top ten offense or defense are likely over. With the B10 quality being down, wherever they end up being ranked will be a little tainted. The O-Line is just a nightmare.

UMgradMSUdad

July 6th, 2014 at 8:19 AM ^

Thanks for posting.  In addition to there being plenty of highly ranked recruits, what stands out to me is the lack of experience. It's just incredible how there's not a single senior in several of the position groups.  Still, I am definitely hopeful for a better result than last year. 

Space Coyote

July 7th, 2014 at 3:30 PM ^

That the positions where people are confident are also the positions in which Michigan has experienced players at that positions. Those positions just happen to be CB, LB, and DE. Add in Gardner, and that's where people are saying "those units are actually pretty good". Weird how that happens...

An Angelo's Addict

July 6th, 2014 at 10:18 AM ^

Thanks for this post. Nice layout and further detail on our position groups. I do think our defense will be very good, somewhat similar to our 2011 squad. The OL issues still loom large but I feel like we have enough players that are 2-3 years in the program that they should be adequate, which would be a step up from the atrocity of last year. Here's hoping!

Bodogblog

July 6th, 2014 at 11:19 AM ^

Sam Webb and Ira have been giving snippets about The Wolverine preview coming out in a little while.  They've basically said the positions of Beyer, Clark, Ryan, and Countess (somewhere in the 5-man defensive backfield) were the only starting defensive positions locked down in the spring.  Everything else up for grabs.  Delano Hill was a little ahead of Thomas and Clark at the safety spot you mention, but according to the coaches none of them stood out enough to seize the job.  Also mentioned in passing that Hill was one of the fastest players on the team.  Webb believes Peppers will start at that safety spot, FWIW.

hfhmilkman

July 6th, 2014 at 11:27 AM ^

I am of the opinion the defense will carry the 2014 team.  Every single question on offense is answered by "he will be fine" or "he will be okay".  The reality is the worse offensive line in memory lost a pair of tackes who arguably were the best tackle pair in college football.  Yet in spring game one of the projected starters at tackle did not play and the other barely played.  There are five question marks on the Oline.  Unless Borges was intentionally losing expecting a quantum jump in improvement is unrealistic.  A more realistic projection is the Oline play will be mediorce, especially with our best TE prospect not being full strength.  Half of the Oline positions will turn out and there will be some work in progress at the other half.

On the flip side I believe we are understating the potential of Gardner to take a team on his shoulders and win games, especially against teams that have defensive flaws.  There will be games when Gardner is on where he will do the 250 yards passing 100 yard rushing thing and just carry the offense.  Gardner did this at Inkster.  So these monster games against ND and OSU are not surprising.   Despite being surrounded by flaws I believe Gardner will do enough for us to win some close games on paper and perhaps pull off one of those road upsets.   If anything happens to Gardner I am of the opinion we are doomed.  Morris is a perfect example of the guy with the really deep voice who wants to get into radio.  He may have a great arm.  However, I am of the opinion he is just going to be the second coming of Steven Threet.

Overall as shakey as the offense is going to be, I think the defense will be strong enough to keep us in all games and may have the playmaking that was absent last year to close games out.

Brimley

July 6th, 2014 at 12:29 PM ^

You're correct that a quantum jump in the oline is unrealistic, but it could be much improved if for not other reason than there are depth and options that were unavailable not long ago (the Black Hole of Depth that Brian warned us about).  By the end of the year, I expect the line to be "good", maybe trending upward.

I'm curious about your assessment of Morris.  Why are you down on him?

BlueCube

July 6th, 2014 at 6:57 PM ^

I think we will be better because of the strength and conditioning for another year as well as the experience gained last year. I think Nuss will do some things to take the pressure off also.

We will still be very inexperienced so I think the line may get off to a slow start. I know the home schedule being so soft sucks but the easier early season games will give the line some time to gel. I have hope that by the time they get to the meat of the schedule, they will begin playing better.

I also don't understand the Morris assessment by the other poster. I thought he did a decent job for a freshman with a weak line.

Thanks to the OP for the work pulling this together.

 

hfhmilkman

July 7th, 2014 at 10:58 AM ^

I will elaborate.  My assestment of the Oline is based on the fact we have to replace two NFL starters.  Whatever improvement we get in the interior is going to be mitigated by a drop in quality at the tackle position.  Unless every single position just works out and sees a massive upgrade it is going to be real tough to get past mediorce.  Who is going to play out better?  Taylor Lewan or ten young tackles.  Just because we have options does not mean anything until one steps up.  Do you expect the projected tackles to be half as good as Lewan as second year players?

Regarding Morris, he got his stars on the practice circuit and not winning football games.  Unlike Gardner he never had to carry a team on his shoulders.  When he actually had to play in a real game(all star games) he paniced.  I understand he was a true frosh.  But he was incapable of making any down field throws.  KSU was not exactly a great defensive team.  

People also forget that Threet also was a 4 star prospect who had a really good arm.  His problem was accuracy and health.  I put way more stock in performance than measurements at QB.   I was always bullish with Gardner because he has been a leader carrying overmatched teams on his shoulders.  Morris is a giant question mark who so far as not shown any evidence that he has it figured out.  The fact that so many highly rated QB's bomb out is evidence that intangibles are far more important than raw ability.   

AZBlue

July 7th, 2014 at 9:12 PM ^

and go with Glasgow (C) -Schofield-Lewan on the left side and let the chips fall where they may on the right.  He could have always kept the TE on the right side on passing downs and told the RBs to only protect the right side.  Better to be 1-handed" than no-handed IME. 

In response to your "how are we gonna replace..." question...If you took Jake Long and Lewan  and paired them with 3 NFL practice-squad guys --- then ran the most complex system you could design while constantly adding and tweaking -- an average NFL defense would slaughter that line.  Consistenly "OK" across the OL will be a big improvement even with the loss of Lewan and Schofield.

It was noted somewhere in the UFRs last year that a successful offensive play requires (almost) every player performing precisely or a big-gainer becomes 1-yard or a TFL.  Now try that with 2 or 3 of your O-Line, RB, or TE completely biffing on blocks/protections and it doesn't matter much if you have all-world players in the other 7-8 positions.  (No offense to Funch - but for a blocking TE he is a hell of a WR...)

Final Point - competition/depth is a good thing.  You can bet your ass that despite what he was told by the coaches, Kyle K. never dreamed his spot was in jeopardy last year.  This year with all the interior OL bodies available - particularly if Kugler starts pressing for the job at C - all the Guards know they better be busting their butts if  they want to see the field.  Will it be better when these are all 3rd and 4th year guys fighting for those spots? Yes, but you have to start improving from somewhere.

Wolfman

July 9th, 2014 at 12:21 AM ^

except that I consider RSs to be third year men. They've been in the system for that long, know what's expected,have had time to build strength needed, etc and after having their ass handed to them have a chance to prove their recruitment was not a mistake. I have seen OCs and position coaches not on the same page at all in regard to what is expected. There were times that Al would call a certain play and with the personnel on the field I have no idea how he expected success. And I saw Greg Frey take a group of LC cast offs and actually turn them into a capable unit in their second year, while at the same time introducing a few new characters to the cast. He did a tremendous job. Then again, that's much easier to do when you offense is not so damn predictable and defenses actually have to wonder, at least for a second.  And really that's all we need right now, a capable OL. Good and then Great can follow. Fine post.

Pit2047

July 8th, 2014 at 2:06 AM ^

I like Morris don't get me wrong, but the reason he didn't get pressure is because the line actually played pretty well and Borges got the ball out of his hands pretty fast.  Also KSU isn't that great at pressuring QB's.  All but like 2 of his throws were of the screen pass and 5 yard hitch variety, I could go out there and throw those kinds of passes.  Also note how we scored all of 6 meaningful points in that game, the only thing Morris showed that was impressive is his demeanor through out the game, not his throws and certainly not his play and production.  I think he has some nice potential and can be a star if he becomes accurate but if he is our starter this year we are screwed because I don't trust our pass pro and his escapability for a second.  I kind of get the praise thrown his way from the bowl game but I'd like people to go back and watch the tape and try to pick out how many plays exactly impressed you.  Then put on the Ohio game from last year against a better defense, one week of prep vs a month and on a broken foot see how many plays Devin Gardner makes that impresses you.

YaterSalad

July 7th, 2014 at 10:36 AM ^

One problem with your Morris comparison - Threet didn't have a great arm and bounced around colleges before coming here.  

I would also like to point out that MSU went from 7-6 with serious offensive question marks and youth to 12-1 with a new offensive coordinator.  I guess there isn't any chance in hell we could get the same sort of jump, eh?!  /s

snowcrash

July 6th, 2014 at 1:01 PM ^

I think you're putting too much weight on recruiting rankings, though. They represent the experts' best guess about how a high school player will develop, but ultimately they're still guesses about high school players. I would only mention them for the freshmen, with the notation something like FR(3*) for a 3 star.

I might set the columns up like this: returning standout (say, 2nd team all-conference or better), returning starter, returning contributor (as you've already defined it), others. You could still denote multi-year starters or contributors with JR2 or SR2. 

alum96

July 7th, 2014 at 3:55 PM ^

Agreed.

Dymonte Thomas may turn out to be all world but as of last year he has shown zero other than ability to block a punt.   Yes he was young so I am not throwing in any towels but this was a top 100 recruit.  But this is an example of "no worries...stars". 

I have LESS worry about guys like Henry and Wormley than someone like Thomas because I saw them on a COLLEGE football field do things, and flash as very young players.  So I could care less about Henry's 3 stars.  In fact I thought he outplayed Pipkins who has to me not flashed much at all. 

Once you show it to me on a college football field I then consider it depth - stockpiling a bunch of guys with stars next to their name is not depth to me, unlike others.

Likewise it is too early to judge but Kalis was a major disappointment as a 5 star. Jack Conklin , a 2 star over at MSU plays a more demanding position (tackle) and was getting honorable mentions and per his position coach was not responsible for a single sack.  So take away their stars and if you lined up those two 2012 players on nothing but on field results, Conklin looks more promising right now. 

Also everyone is assuming Magnuson is a LT no problem.  Guy has been hurt all offseason so he is getting hurt in lack of weight training and lack of practice.  This is not a 2 year starter going into his RS SR year who can do mental reps - he has completely missed everything on the field and in the weight room for 4-5 months and is changing positions from what he played last year to the most important on the line.  A lot of people just say "well played at guard a few games and 4 stars... no problem." 

As others have said this is the year the defense must carry the team at least through 5-6 games.  It has a great mix of talent and experience now.  I am not as worried as OP about the tackles as I think Henry showed a lot of promise and Wormley if he is not playing DE was one of our best playmakers on the line coming off an ACL year.  If Pipkins can come back and show any promise you have a few other depth guys to throw in there as well who will all be a year older and stronger like a Glasgow, Godin, Hurst, whomever.  I'd rather not play a freshman there but at last its a 310+ lb one (Mone) if need be.   The LBs should be very good and we have a lot of competition at corners - only the 2nd safety worries me. 

The offense - well obviously issues.

AZBlue

July 7th, 2014 at 9:15 PM ^

He was a top 100 athlete who had never played deeper than Linebacker on defense.  I believe that "moving backward" in the defense is much more difficult than going the other direction. 

While Dymonte had the physical gifts to be a good-to-great safety he was severely lacking in experience and technique to cover/perform in the secondary.  Unfortunately, lack of depth and his apparent impressive showing in practice led to a burned redshirt in exchange for one memorable play.  Dymonte is the type of recruit (athlete that needs to learn a position) that will almost be guaranteed a redshirt once depth is fully established  as of the 2015 recruiting class.

 

LBSS

July 8th, 2014 at 8:27 AM ^

Maybe, but the MGoBloggers have demonstrated over and over (and/or linked to others who have demonstrated) that recruiting rankings are predictive of individual and team success. For a quick position-by-position review, I thought this method was great. 

Want to take a crack at that finer-grained breakdown? ;-)

HAIL 2 VICTORS

July 6th, 2014 at 3:04 PM ^

I really appreciate Devin Gardner enduring his third offensive coordinator and second head coach in 5 years.  Considering the schedule I am optimistic for three losses or fewer but all things considered 3.5 is a very fair over under if we remian healthy.

MGoStrength

July 6th, 2014 at 6:47 PM ^

The o-line is a concern.  There are no 4th or 5th year players that have 4 or 5 starts in recruiting profiles.  That makes this position a problem because IMO 4th and 5th year players at o-line are like 3rd and 4th year players everywhere else.  At the end of the day if the o-line can open up enough holes to keep the offense out of 2nd and 3rd and long situations that should be good enough for a successful year.  If they can't, it won't.  The team's success all boils down to this one unit.

Mich1993

July 6th, 2014 at 7:22 PM ^

Your reply pretty much sums up the OL situation.  There is enough talent on the OL that they COULD be good but not enough experience that they SHOULD be good.   The players, OL coach and offensive coordinator need to do an excellent job for the offense to be successful. 

Give these players another year in the program and the coaching gets a whole lot easier. 

TenThousandThings

July 7th, 2014 at 2:55 PM ^

Yes. The five redshirts are the key, obviously.

The rosiest scenario would be for Kugler to be able to take over at Center now and not wait. That would give the coaches the most flexibility in terms of finding their starting Guards for the B1G schedule, not to mention coping with dings and boo-boos. Tackle opposite Magnuson is what it is, as we don't know much about what Fox and LTT can do, or even Braden, really. We just have to hope at least one of them emerges.

Worst case is the opposite -- Kugler not ready and probably never going to be, Glasgow at Center for the next two years. This puts enormous pressure on Kalis and the interior redshirts, with opposing defenses once again throwing everything at the interior line. But still, there is depth -- there are three more players available for the rotation than last year, not counting Bryant last year and not counting the two true freshmen this year.

Regardless, unlike the past several years, by the end of 2014 we should have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the OL in 2015 and 2016. There is light at the end of the tunnel -- hard to know if it is a bright sunny day or rainy gloom, but we will at least be able to see something soon. That, at least, will make this season more fun to watch than the last...

MGoStrength

July 7th, 2014 at 3:21 PM ^

It seems to me that Kugler was about as ready as an incoming o-line recruit could be, but a RS freshman playing center?  I don't see it.  Maybe Kugler takes over in 2015 and Glasgow pushes one of the guards to the bench, but I kinda doubt it because even then you're basically taking away a guard (likely Bosch) with 2 years of experience just so you can get in a guy with no experience at center (Kugler).  The only way I see Kugler doing that is if Glasgow pushes out to tackle.  Because by that time the guards should not be an issue so it won't be neccessary.  I think Kugler gets a few more years before he's called into service as a starter.  And, at this point Kalis should be game to compete.  He's in his 3rd year and was a highly ranked recruit.  He may not be dominant, but he shouldn't a liability.

AZBlue

July 7th, 2014 at 9:25 PM ^

He believes that Glasgow may be the best solution at RT if Kugler/Miller prove viable at C.  It sounds like Braden may not have the quicks to handle the outside rush but we have planty of potential Gs already. 

LTT (and/or JBB) is the type of high-upside project that is most likely to not see the field until year 3+ of his career.  You are more likely to see Mason Cole in the 2-deep at tackle than either of those two from what Sam is saying.

TenThousandThings

July 8th, 2014 at 10:38 AM ^

Well, I did qualify it as the best-case scenario, so maybe not too likely, but it remains true that Kugler's father is OL coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. So if anyone can handle it from a preparation and/or conceptual standpoint, it might be him.

MIller seems like he had his shot, but you never know -- all of these guys are young. Sometimes it takes longer, either physically or mentally, or both.

Agree, re: Cole. But if they move him to tackle, it probably means the coaches are confident about things on the inside, so that's good!

BlueKoj

July 6th, 2014 at 7:54 PM ^

good post. FWIW, Beyer was a unanimous 4*. Seems a good fit at his new spot, too. DL, S, and most of the O have questions that worry me.

UMaD

July 6th, 2014 at 9:59 PM ^

  • Overall, your optimism on D is justified, but top 10 is optimistic.
  • The differentiation between 4 stars and 3 stars is not significant for guys who have been around.  For example, expectations for Henry (3 star) vs 4-star DLmen (e.g., Godin, Strobel) and expectations for Glasgow (2 star) vs linemen like Bars, Stribling 3-star vs Richardson (5 star)
  • You can do this 4-star exercise any year and Michigan comes out looking good.
  • Morris did not play well.  He played O.K. FOR A TRUE FRESHMAN, which means not very good.  After coming out with a gimmicky change-up, the offense failed to move the ball.
  • WR isn't  a strength yet.  Norfleet, Chesson, and Darboh have barely done anything.  I'm hopeful too but experience is week.
  • RB isn't a strength either.  I don't care how many stars there are, none of these guys have shown they can break 4 ypc over a season, though that can be blamed on...
  • The OL - it's a debacle that has the chance of dragging down the entire team. Let's hope coaching makes a big difference here.
  • Overall, the offense is nowhere near being a top 10-20 outfit.  The soonest it could be would be 2015, if things break right.

Overall, I think this is kind of a boring team to preview.  The defense is going to be good to very good, but probably lacks the stars to be elite.  The offense has a stud QB to go with plenty of talent, albeit unproven, at the skills positions. But basically everything hinges on the OL.  It's going to be extremely, amazingly, epicly inexperienced. What can you really say about them - all you can do is hope. Coaching and scheme will have to carry the day for the team to succeed.  All eyes on Nuss and the OL.

saveferris

July 7th, 2014 at 8:48 AM ^

I don't think anybody would deny that the team has talent as well as depth of talent at many positions.  The jury is still out on whether Hoke and his staff can develop that talent and get the best out of it.  At this point, that's really what we're all waiting to see.

Wolfman

July 8th, 2014 at 6:20 PM ^

but in his three years here we had two of our most productive offenses in the past twenty years. He didn't exactly inherit an abundance of OL either and his efforts other than finding the skill players he needed for his offenses were, of course, centered on just finding players to put on defense. For reasons unbeknown to any of us when he stepped on the field for his first game he did so with 65 scholarship players, less than half of the number or a normal defensive roster. That's is basically minus one full year of recruits. It's not a wonder we had three walk-ons starting on the defense. 

That, however, is history and Brady has recruited some real talent on the OL. Inasmuch as this is his fourth year here, we should be looking at players who have been in the program for an equal amount of time.  That is more than enough time to do what you have to do with "blue chippers" to get them ready for play at this level.  I am optimistic this season mainly because of that fact coupling with Nuss's decision to return to a zone blocking scheme which still requires efficiency, but not the pancakes associated with mano/mano line play.  There will be seams for these running backs this season even though we will more than likely begin the year with a limited amount of game time plays which should grown substantially by the time we open conference play. These young men will learn what is required of them step by step and believe me, there is no one in the world that wants to see that OL improve more than the players themselves. Give them a simplified play book, let it expand as does their confidence and knowledge of the new system and I think you'll see why many of these players were recruited hard by most of the heavyweights of cfb.   

MGoStrength

July 8th, 2014 at 8:42 PM ^

I'm not saying that RR couldn't have done better with the guys he recruited.  However, I am saying that the change of style on offense coupled with the guys RR recruited made it very difficult for Hoke to have a productive offensive.  His offense relies on a power running game and he simply didn't have the o-lineman to do that the past few years.  I think it's easier to run RR's offense with pro-style offensive lineman and Denard or Forcier at QB.  But, we obviously saw he couldn't do it with an ineffective QB (Threet).  

 

So, my point is not that RR sucked at recruiting, but rather his recruits made is hard for Hoke to succeed on offense.  Hoke has proven he can recruit his style of players that are also highly ranked.  So, my point remains it's unfair to say he can't develop players until the offensive line is walking out the majority of upperclassman.  That won't happen until 2015 at best and maybe not even until 2016.  

readyourguard

July 8th, 2014 at 11:45 AM ^

If Nuss avoids tipping his hat every play, a la Al, we should be noticeably better on the line. If Nuss makes teams pay for 9 man boxes we'll stop seeing them. That alone gives us a better chance in every game.

PEMBLUE

July 8th, 2014 at 10:55 PM ^

It is easy to say as last season was hopefully rock bottom for this staff, but there is a good talent base that is starting to get experience.  I think this upcoming season will be much better, with mor consistent o-line and offensive plays and less nightmares.  The O-line will then be improved for 2015, with the question of QB in place.  In 2016, we should easily be a top 10 and likely top 5 team (optimistic) barring major injuries/player loss.  I'm hoping our major recruting targets wait to commit until we play this season (and we play well enough) to make them comfortable with the team, staff, conference, etc.  OSU is not a lock with losing as much as they did in key areas and Miller was beat up last season.  MSU will be tough, but Narduzzi will not be a coordinator for long, so their shelf life will be approaching in 1-2 seasons.

Mgodiscgolfer

July 11th, 2014 at 11:03 AM ^

call out last years O-line and call them terrible. Then they say and you know with the loss of the two tackles who were probably two of the best in the league there is no way this line can be better. Ok now if those tackles were sooo good? Why was the offensive line so offensive? It seems to me they aren't that important in the run game and if their not that important their replacements should be capable of doing a good enough job for us to still have a good run game. You can't have it both ways folks. This is the reason I believe we will be fine in the run game even though we lost those two tackles to the NFL.