My 2017 Regular Season Grades by position

Submitted by bweldon on November 25th, 2017 at 5:57 PM

I have reading comments about player development and how the coaching staff has failed to do that.  The largest amount of noise I have heard was the lack of supposed development from the QB's.  I would really love for someone to please tell me how in the hell you can have QB development when you have 3 different players starting at QB and have to change starters 4 different times due to injury as well as poor play, and on top of that the OL has 5 new starters (position wise) and both WR and TE graduated.   Speight lost 50% of his run offense and 90% of the receptions from last year, and there are people who think the QB's regressed.  So before getting into the details of player development lets look at some numbers 


Catagory 2016 2017
Rushing yards/ per game 3072/212.9 2592/186.3
Passing yards/ per gme 2756/212 2023/168.5
Points per game 40.31 (including 80 on Rutgers) 25.75
Sacks 45 39
Fumbles - Lost 13-5 15-8
Interceptions(thrown/made) 9/8 13/7
Total TO +- +7 -2

So we are a net -9 in turnovers and offense down about 80 yards a game, and all of this after replacing 9 starters on offense and 90% of the skill positions.  So on to the QB Development elephant that seems to be walking around the Big House.

The UM QB's this year Speight(Injury) - O'Korn (Poor Play)-Peters (Injury)-O'Korn...  

There is not a NFL team that can do that  Just look at the Houston Texans and you can see how average to poor the offense was for the first 3 years Bill O'Brein has been the coach there.  

From a development standpoint here is where I see things.  I may be wrong but this is what I see
Defense A- Replacing 10 Starters and still having a defense that was still a top 10 defense in total yards, Passing yards, Sacks, and TFL.  And thanks to the defense we  were in every game with the exception of 1.

Corner Backs - A, would have been an A+ but they still get not looking for the ball enough to avoid PI calls (consider they replaced  an All-american and all Big10 CB)

Safties - B+ Again getting pulled out of position on run fakes when they should be covering the deep middle. 

LB's A Bush, Hudson and we are solid and we have depth. We lose McCray but gain some more side to side speed. 

DL- A-  Gary was doubled all year but still was an impact player.  Hurst proved he is NFL caliber and was a force in the middle.  Thor(Winnovich) solid pass rushing and got better at setting the edge all year.  Saw flashes from Solomon and Kemp and the others.

Offense -overall C because of injuries at QB and WR

TE's A- Became the best blocking group and all of them showed good hands and better route running as the year went along

RB's B Injuries kept this from being an A, If everyone had stayed healthy we could have been able to cover up more QB issues.  Pass Protection got better from Higdon and Evans as the year went along.  Especially Higdon since it was his missed block that caused Speight to get hurt against Purdue

WR's B- Run blocking very good, pass routes needs improvement.  Losing Black to injury and Crawford doing his best Ian (Skillet Hands Bunting) impression for most of the season left us to have to rely on 2 slot recievers (Perry and McDoom) and a bunch of TE's for passing downs.   DPJ showed flashes but seemed to run into DB's  when running routes,instead of force them to adjust to him and his speed and size, especially when the defense would play off coverage.  No reason to run straight at the DB and let him get into your body and control your path.  

QB Inc 4 different starters over the season with 3 different players and the starters changing as much for injury as play on field.

Finally OL C+  going to break this down into 2 groups Interior (Bredeson, Kugler, and Onwenu/Ruiz) and Tackles (Cole and the rotation at RT).  If Ruiz had shown earlier in the season what he did in the final 3 games I think the OL would have been different and probably much more stable.  That being said the interior of the OL improved over the season, you could see it simply by their ability to better adjust to games on the interior of the plays  (T-E and T-LB) games that were designed to free up a late rusher up the middle.  Also the number of runs between the tackles that were negative plays also went down. 
Tackle play get a C- and almost a D.  The RT was a circus as the coaches tried to find someone to take ownership of the position like Onwenu did at RG.  Moving Cole to LT was done because of Newsome's injury, he was playing out of position and for the most part held his own.  He did get beat a couple of times on delayed OLB/CB blitzes off the edge whene he would block down but played solid.

Looking forward, like I said before if Ruiz had shown what he did in the last 2 games over fall camp your OL would probably been something like this (LT- Cole, LG Ruiz, C- Kugler, RG-Onwenu, RT-Bredeson) and that is a line I would like to have seen play.  For next year the biggest questions are LT- Does Newsome come back and play at the same level after that horrible knee injury, and RT- Will one of hte young tackles make enough improvement to replace JBB who once he got consistant pt was fair.  So looking forward there is plenty of talent there just need to see who steps up.  Because I like the middle of our OL next year.  Also giving the team another 15 bowl practices and with young talent replacing the  6 Sr starters (Cole, Kugler, Hill/Poggi, Hurst,Winovich, McCray)  things are not as horrible as everyone says,  

Projected lineup for Sept 1 2018 vs ND

LT Newsome*
LG Bredeson
C Ruiz
RG Onwenu
RT (Stubner,Filiaga,Hall)  Leaning towards Filiaga

WR1 Black
WR3(slot) Perry

TE-Y Gentry/Eubanks
TE-X Wheatley/McKeon

RB1 Higdon/Evans/Walker 
FB Mason

QB Peters


DE  Gary
NT Dwumfour
DT Mone
Buck Solomon

Viper Hudson
MLB Bush
WLB  Uche/Gill

CB1 Long
CB2 Hill
SS Metellus/Woods
FS Kinnel
Nickleback St-Juste/Woods/Hawkins



November 25th, 2017 at 6:42 PM ^

the Safties getting a grade of B+ is a joke...

C- is more accurate....

both have major, major issues and I would like to see them both replaced next year


November 26th, 2017 at 5:57 PM ^

Were the safeties the weakness on this year’s defense? Yes. That’s not a huge indictment, though. They played incredibly well most of the year, but were exposed a bit by great athletes. This year was a solid B- and both Metellus and Kinnel will be improved starters next year. Depth is the issue.


November 26th, 2017 at 6:46 PM ^

Punter was a B - nothing bad, nothing great - decent at inside 20. Don't blame him for the guys standing around at Wisky. Serviceable.

Kicker - hard to say - his misses didn't really kill us but was erratic. Even the block yesterday was end of line not sealing off. Maybe a B- but could be an A+ someday.

PR - two great returns and lots of nothing in between - C+

KR - nothing great, nothing terrible like fumbles - C+

This is a unit I hope we see greatness next year.

2nd half Allen last year was A+ and Jabrill and Lewis on returns was A


November 26th, 2017 at 6:49 PM ^

A lot of good plays and a smattering of big plays - the most frustrating thing was getting burned often on crossing routes, etc. Yesterday was a killer - not sure why we didn't try to cover those with some zone underneath.

O staff coaching - I was going to make this a D but the game plan yesterday was a A - great calls if the QB was Rudock or Henne - hard to know if the staff really stunk or if we just had QB who was over his head. Maybe a C would be fair. Finally saw running game - including yesterday with Evans and Higdon



November 26th, 2017 at 7:59 PM ^

Over the entire year I would agree with most of your ranking.  However, the reality is the schedule  this year was very, very soft and our defensive and offensive stats are probably a little better then they should be. 

What is that old saying, you are what your record says you are.   We finished 5-4 in the Big Ten, and didn't beat a team with a winning record.  We were a very, very average Big Ten team.  Nothing more and nothing less. 

 So if we are going to give out grades. the total has to equal the record of team in league play.  In that case the eteam gets a C+.  To reach this I think every position needs to be bumped down from half to a full grade lower. 

I would give the offensive line a D.  They were getting our QB's killed against good defenses. The defense as a whole faded from about midway in the third quarter on, in all the games we lost. 

That being said we have a lot of young guys that have another year to get stronger and better.  Hopefully in can transfer to some wins against good teams next year.  


Icehole Woody

November 27th, 2017 at 9:13 AM ^

I give the OL a F for Fucked which is what transpired.

And I would also like to flip off the person who first said, “addition by subtraction” to describe the OL in the preseason. I knew that was a crock of shit when I heard it.

The vast majority of problems with the offense started with the OL.


November 28th, 2017 at 12:32 AM ^

I think your wide receiver grade is too high.  C is usually average and B is above average.  IMO there wasn't anything above average about the wide receiver group.  Granted the play of the QB and oline had an effect on the wide receivers but my analysis would be:

DPJ - slowly emerged as the year went on.  Excited to see what he can do next year.

Crawford - from about the mid point of the year until the screen pass against OSU he practically disappeared.  Even when he was visible early in the year, it wasn't that impressive.

Perry - like Crawford disappeared for a huge stretch of the year.  First quarter of the season he was the best wr on the team and then it seemed like he almost vanished from the offense.

McDoom - until the over the shoulder catch against OSU most people were questioning why he was even running routes.

The Black injury played a role too but considering the optimism with this position group when the season started, this was arguably the second most disappointing position group after the oline.

Also, I don't know if you're being generous by saying incomplete with the QBs, but QB play was probably an F.  At best D-?  The passing game was a sore spot all year.  Peters righted the ship some but it seemed like the coaching staff was hesitant to open up the passing play book with him.  Poor QB play had significant roles in the losses to OSU and MSU.


November 29th, 2017 at 10:17 AM ^

You have to look at Speight pre-injury. He clearly regressed. Look at his stats vs non-bowl teams last year compared to non-bowl teams this year. Then with Okorn, the argument is regression vs lack of improvement. Peters I do think appeared to be improving before injury. Our team accuracy passing the ball left hundreds of yards and multiple TDs on the table. Your post would not imply that, rather blame new players/injuries. We are not the only team that plays young guys and replaces productive guys. We are not that only team to have injuries. I see this used as a crutch on this board so much you'd think we are the only school to ever experience either. Due to this some stats could possibly be lower this year. But, what won't show up in stats is every defense we faced all year stacked the box because our inability to pass. The level of play we have from the position this year has been piss poor overall from above average last year. Grade D-

Im thinkin bou…

November 30th, 2017 at 12:34 PM ^

The guy who runs one of those instagram accounts and gives out shitty grades/opinions without knowing anything? Forgot winovich, forgot JBB, forgot james hudson. And also the “that being said”. Smh

Bigly yuge

November 30th, 2017 at 11:54 PM ^

Good effort on the diary, but I disagree on many grades such as safeties, offensive line, tight ends, wr’s, and punter. Not saying you did a poor job, just have my own personal thoughts as to how these positions should be graded.