Analysis of Recruiting Classes

Submitted by MGrether on November 19th, 2017 at 10:52 PM

I admit, this current stage of the program sucks. I hate losing. I hate losing close games. I hate losing to rivals.  

With that said, It is interesting to look at the effectiveness of Harbaugh's first recruting classes:

2013 (Hokes Second to Last Class) 27 Commits, 14 Reasonably Contributing (Just 5 available as RS Seniors)
2014: (Hokes Last Class) 16 Commits, 8 reasonably contributing (This years true seniors)

2015: 14 Commits, 7 reasonably contributing (and he had a couple weeks to pull this class together)
2016: 29 Commits, 23 reasonably contributing 
2017: 30 Commits, 12 Already making some contribution as true freshman. (Jury is out because of redshirting) 


Let's put this in context -- More true freshman are seeing the field then true seniors. There are more members of the 2016 class contributing, then 2013-2014 combined. In a game where experience and age/development matters... that is heavily skewed against our favor.

Lots of young guys are gaining valuable game experience. Next year, the 2016 group will be Juniors with 23 of them having experienced significant game time. I know the sky is dark now, but I think we will "turn the corner" next year behind a killer running attack and smothering defense, and DPJ/Black/Gentry/McKeon making things interesting in the passing game. I like the direction the DNA is pointing.


Ghost of Fritz…

November 19th, 2017 at 11:13 PM ^

Others have posted about only a total of 30 guys in the 14 and 15 classes combined.

But the detail you add is really important.

You show that the core of this team is the 2016 class.  With that context 8-3 is...not very fun but completely normal.

Compare FSU's record right now. 

Future is still bright.

Still think JH has to seriously evaluate whether the Pep/Drevno thing is the best way, and also why the o-line still is poor at pass blocking. 


November 20th, 2017 at 7:39 AM ^

They’ve also played a much more difficult schedule.
Michigan hasnt beaten a team with a winning record. FSU doesn’t have a loss to a team with a losing record and has beaten better teams. The difference between us and FSU this year is schedule, not play.
People need to stop making this comparison or pretend like our 8 wins are anything close to impressive.

Ghost of Fritz…

November 20th, 2017 at 8:10 AM ^

play that  game.

FSU does not have the extremely young roster that Michigan has.  Michigan has the youngest roster in CFB since 2003. 

FSU is a total disaster this year.  They have a grand total of ONE win against FBS teams with a winning record, 26-19 over Wake Forest.  Wow! 

All of FSU's 3 wins againt FBS schools have been close (27-24 against Syracuse (4-7),  17-10 againt Duke (5-6), and 26-19 over Wake (7-4)). 

FSU lost 35-3 to 5-4 BC (and two of BCs 5 wins are against MAC teams!).

Sorry man but Michigan is a lot better than FSU right now. 

Finally, I never said 8 wins is "impressive." 



Ghost of Fritz…

November 20th, 2017 at 8:49 AM ^

Moreover, OSU's youth DID cause them problems last year.

Their offense was not nearly as good as it had been in prior years.  They were shut out against Clemson (and blown out).  They did not put away MSU until late in the 4th.  They were one inch/one good spot from losting to Michigan.  For most of the year their offense was well below the usual scoring machine standard.

OSU overcame their youth with a bit of luck (favorbale spot, etc.), having a machine that has not gone through the RRod/Hoke issues that screw up recruiting (show me when Meyer has a 15 guy class ranked 28th in the nation), and having their experienced QB not have a season ending injury.

Even though youth was a big part of OSU's problem last year (OSU fans complained all year about receivers that could not get separation-just as M fans have complained this year about the same thing), Meyer also did realize that his offensive staff was not as good as it could be.  He went out and hired Wilson.

Ghost of Fritz…

November 20th, 2017 at 9:28 AM ^

is youngest in CFB since 2003.

Two-deep is a different thing.  Still very young by that measure. 

MSU is young too.  But they are not very good (lots of close wins this year; lots of close losses last), though Lewerke has been pretty good for them this year. 

Poor game plan and play calling by M in that game.  

But only a fool would rather have MSU's young roster than Michigan's young roster. 


Ghost of Fritz…

November 20th, 2017 at 10:21 AM ^

M has had problems with the o-line.  But that fact is that MSU's o-line is in a lot worse shape.  They can't run at all.  LJ Scott is not doing very well this year.  Same guy.  But his line is bad. 

Lewekre and the passing game has been better than expected.  But overall M's got a much better group to build on for 2018 and 2019. 

Same record.  Both are 8-3. 

Ghost of Fritz…

November 20th, 2017 at 7:44 AM ^

has been a 'youth is the issue' vs. 'offensive staff Drev/Pep/etc. are terrible coaches' debate raging on this board for weeks.

Seems to be mostly a youth issue. 

The chess match between the OC and opposing DC is a huge part of CFB.  I see very little evidence this year that the Michigan OC triumverate (Drev/Pep/JH) is winning that chess match. 

Last year we saw offensive game plans that varied from week to week, depending on the opponent.  Not this year.

Last year we saw new wrinkles and constraint play concepts rolled out most weeks.  Not this year.

Is this all because, with youth and an o-line that still can't reliably pick up a twist, the offensive staff has too keep all of their cool ideas on the shelf? 

Or is this because the current Drev/Pep/JH mix does not mesh well and/or just lacks some of the creative ideas (or the tendency to use them in games) that we saw in 2016 when Fisch was in the mix?

The youth factor is a significant part of it.  No doubt about it. 

But JH can't let the youth theory stop him from taking a serious and very hard look at how and why the offensive staff this year is not getting an A grade.

Other coaches have made staff shake-ups that made a big positive difference (Meyer just last winter, Dabo, Franklin, Saban) for their programs.   JH needs to do the same. 






November 20th, 2017 at 8:27 AM ^

About the only group that is kind of young is th wr. On the online you have a 5th yr senior (Kugler), a 4th yr senior (Cole), a 4th yr junior (JBB), a second yr sophomore who has something like 20 career starts (Bredeson) and then either a second yr sophomore or true freshmen.

At tight end they have a 4th yr junior (Bunting), two third year juniors (Wheatley and Gentry) and then a freshmen (McKeon).

At fullback you have two 5th yr seniors (Hill and Poggi) and occasionally a freshman (Mason).

Running back has been a 5th yr senior (Issac), a 3rd yr junior (Higdon), a second yr sophomore (Evans) and occasionally a second yr freshmen (Walker).

The QB situation started with a 4th yr Junior (Speight), went to a 5th yr senior (JOK) then a second yr freshmen (Peters).

This isn't that young offense. There are a boatload of upperclassmen seeing the field.


November 20th, 2017 at 8:51 AM ^

our primary starters/contributors

WR - True Freshman and True Sophomore (Crawford, DPJ/Black)

Slot WR - True Junior - Perry

TE - RS Freshman and RS Sophomore (McKeon, Gentry)

OL - 1 RS Sr (starting for the first time), 1 Senior (new position this year), 2 true Sophomores, 1 RS Junior starting for the first time, replaced a RS Sophomore)

RB - True Jr. and True Sophomore main guys along with a RS Sr

FB - 2 RS Sr.s and a True Freshman

QB - RS Freshman (our best QB), with a RS Sr and RS Junior


we "lose" Isaac, Kugler, Cole and Hill as far as contributors that matter

that's it

52 of our 83 or so players on scholarships are from our last 2 recruiting classes

there are 12 4th or 5th year players on offense total that are on scholarship, and many hardly play (Wangler, Ways, Bunting, JOK)


the young players on this team are contributing far and away the most


November 20th, 2017 at 10:52 AM ^

but I differeniate between youth and inexperience.  A 5th year senior starting for the first time isn't young, he's just inexperienced.

To me, anyone in their 3rd year in a program isn't young.  They are more then halfway through their career.


November 20th, 2017 at 11:57 AM ^

Ruiz is likely going to be a better center than Kugler. But Kugler is starting because Ruiz isn't ready yet. Guys like Stueber, Honigford, and Filiaga will hopefully be better than JBB or Ulizio--but again, not this year. If we have more talented players on the roster, but are forced to start inferior players because the more talented players aren't ready yet, does that mean youth isn't an issue?


November 20th, 2017 at 9:56 AM ^

I don't blame the coaches for our record, which IMO is not bad considering the youth on offense.  That being said, I don't see any reason for using using an offensive system that has to go through this.  Let's run a simplier system.  I admittedly don't understand the nuances of our pro style system versus one like OSU runs.  But, from what I see it does not seem worth the learning curve to keep our current system.  Let's run something simplier, more consistent, and that allows our youth and athletes to contribute sooner.  We have more talent than 90% of the teams we play, so lets find a way to get the ball into the hands of the talent without so much required to execute the play.


November 20th, 2017 at 10:58 AM ^

pretty much all college teams run a version of the spread.  It works in COLLEGE!  Michigan doesn't play in the NFL, so it doesn't make sense to keep running a total NFL style offense.  Its too complex and difficult for a team to pull off.  All working parts have to be perfect.  

Urban knows his offense wouldn't work in the pros but he's not coaching in the pros so why not run it?  Don Brown was told last week in an interview that his defense wouldn't work in the NFL and his response was along the lines of "well its a good thing I coach in college"!


November 20th, 2017 at 11:35 AM ^

What style of offense do you think Alabama runs?  Newsflash - it isn't a college spread!  Sure, he's implemented some spread concepts because of Hurts, but he's run a base professional offense for decades.  The offense he runs is the same, boring offense we see in the playoffs every year.

Michigan will get there with Harbaugh.  To roll the kind of experience that can reliably run that offense means creating that experience.  It is currently being created.  Making the sausage is the messy part that nobody wants to see...


November 21st, 2017 at 10:11 AM ^

Three things:


1. Saban uses more spread and QB runs that we do.


2. We don't have Bama's talent, particularly on the o-line.  We simply don't recruit at Bama's level and probably never will.  I've never seen anyone outside of the south or CA recruit like they have in the Saban era.  If you're not in FL, TX, CA, AL, GE, etc. forget it.  Even OSU doesn't recruit at Bama's level.


3. Just because they are able to do it doesn't mean we should.  They are moving away from it a little more each year as Saban see's how other more mobile QBs like Watson are harder to defend.  


If I ask myself who were the hardest QBs to defend of last 15 years or so in college football (not in the NFL) I think of Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson, Colt McCoy, Vince Young, RG3, Michael Vick, Sam Bradford, Matt Leinhart, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariota, Terrelle Pryor, etc.  The vast majority of them are mobile and use their legs.


November 20th, 2017 at 9:53 AM ^

Be honest - do you catch new wrinkles and constraint plays as they happen?  Maybe some, but what about basic tendancy breaking plays, for example a slightly new pass play out of what is normally our crack sweep formation?  I know I usually don't usually notice on the fly and get most of my info there from UFR. 

There has been a lot of people saying M isn't saving up anything in the playbook because I honestly think those people think "opening up the playbook" means double reverse flea-flickers.  Probably 90% of people that watch football think all "runs up the middle" are basically the same playcall, can't quickly identify zone coverage vs. man, much less zone blocking vs power, so pardon me for doubting the vocal majority making general complaints about playcalling.

I also think that there is too much "results based interpretation" from the fan base.  A new wrinkle/tendancy breaking play can fail for a number of reasons - D didn't overreact to the play they were expecting, a block was missed, receiver ran a bad route, QB made a bad read/throw, etc. 

To your general point, I think a lot of this goes back to inexeperience.  I think the coaches are doing what they can to put in opponent specific plans and playcalling, it just doesn't always get executed and there may be less of it in the first place because they are spending a lot of time on the basics.

Ghost of Fritz…

November 20th, 2017 at 10:55 AM ^

OTOH, the only real question that matters is the following:  Is there a reasonable argument that the Drevno/Pep/JH combo gets an A grade this year (even factoring the roster youth and QB injury situation)?  I don't think so. 

And if the grade is lower than an A, then JH's job is to figure out a way to do better next year. 

Coaches make changes.  Meyer, Saban, Dabo, Franklin all made changes after seasons where they were not getting the most out of their D and/or O. 

JH should evaluate and figure out what is working and not working with himself and his staff. 

I mean that is what great coaches do, especially after a year when things did not work out.  Not that controversial. 

Cake Or Death

November 20th, 2017 at 10:55 AM ^

Almost didn't make it this far down the thread, but I agree with you.  There are some good points here, and we can legitimately hope that the combination of another year of experience (both in general and with our playbook) and a bit of luck could make for a better-looking year next year.  (Even if the schedule is tougher)


November 20th, 2017 at 8:18 AM ^

Agreed on both counts. The 8-3 makes sense given the roster, but the 'bottom of the barrel' offense doesn't make sense. We still have good athletes that, even with an average game plan, should be able to move the ball pretty easily against most of the teams on the schedule. Something just seems amiss...


November 20th, 2017 at 6:33 AM ^

Less experienced? I mean we lose just Kugler and Cole. Guys like Ruiz and Ulizio have starting experience now, Spanellis has gotten a lot of run as of late in the jumbo formations, not to mention guys like Bredeson, Onwenu, and JBB are a year older with more starting experience.

I don’t really see how that adds up to “less experienced” than walking into the season with your only returning starters being Cole and true sophomore Ben Bredeson, and that being about it as far as playing time goes.


November 19th, 2017 at 11:39 PM ^

Next year or the year after we might be great.

Because we got X number of 3 and 4 stars.

Problem is....

ALL the top 20 programs get 3 and 4 stars every year too.

Lame post - really you don't thing UW , OSU, MSU, PSU get the same # and type of recruits?


November 20th, 2017 at 7:32 AM ^

This isn't about recruiting stars. M already has an excellent group of interior OL, with Bredeson, Onwenu, Ruiz, Spanellis, and Runyan. Those guys have played been effective. So all M needs to have a good OL in 2018 is to develop a couple of OTs. There is plenty of reason to expect they will, because they have lots of players competing there (JBB, Stueber, Honigford, Filiaga, Hudson, Ulizio, and possibly Newsome, Runyan, or an incoming freshman like Mayfield), they have one of the most accomplished OL coaches focusing in the position (Frey) and another accomplished OL coach (Drevno) coordinating the run game.

Sten Carlson

November 20th, 2017 at 12:15 AM ^

Says everything we need to know. Pipeline pipeline pipeline! A program cannot stay competitive when its pipeline breaks down. Michigan suffered one leading out of the Carr tenure, another under RR, and another under Hoke. As others have said over and over, a systemic breakdown in recruiting and development can only be fixed by rebuilding the pipeline and then continued maintenance.

We’re all frustrated but it’s info like this that should calm people down a bit. It’s all right there, especially when one delves deeper into the specifics of those numbers and sees what the OL and QB depth charts looked like when Harbaugh took over. Everyone wants to beat OSU, and everyone shits on MSU but look at the continuity of their pipelines over the same time period. Michigan’s need, above all else, is (and has been continuity). If Michigan gets it — it’s clear that Harbaugh will be afforded it — Michigan will be a contender. If it gives into impatience and the grass always being greener elsewhere, it will remain a middle of the road team.


November 20th, 2017 at 6:59 AM ^

This times one billion. Then there are still people who talk about firing and hiring better coaches who are out there. It’s so comical.

Yeah. There’s a theres a great idea!!... let’s start this whole thing over with a different coach! Probably the same people spending their whole life changing jobs and chasing easy (nonexistent) money. I guess it takes all kinds to make this world go around but mannnn!! Long term success takes a good foundation and sticking with a coaching staff that can form some chemistry together. That, my friends, doesn’t happen over night. Sorry to say. And don’t give me the osu crap. What Urban inherited isn’t even comparable to what Harbs inherited.