Bruce Feldman on Rashan Gary, Devin Bush, the UM defense, and James Foug

Submitted by Maizen on September 26th, 2017 at 3:59 PM

When Rashan Gary arrived in Ann Arbor, he was widely hailed as the nation’s No. 1 recruit, and he has backed up that lofty status. Brown told me Gary is one of the hardest workers they have at practice and uses his hands so well. I asked him if Gary reminds him of anyone he’s coached at previous stops, and Brown mentioned Boston College star Harold Landry, a guy who some analysts project as a top-10 pick in this year’s draft. But Brown pointed out Gary is a whole lot bigger: He weighs in the 280s (about 30 pounds more than Landry) and is still running the 40-yard dash in the high 4.5 range. “His ceiling is extremely high to be that big and run as well as he does,” Brown says.

 Two weeks ago, the Wolverines held Air Force to 232 yards of total offense, its lowest output since 2012. Air Force coach Troy Calhoun told me this was one of the best defenses he’s ever faced. The guy who really caught his eye was linebacker Devin Bush Jr. “He doesn’t look like much, he’s maybe 5'10", but he’s so quick and tough. He just unloads and knocks the heck out of people.”

The Michigan staff loves Bush’s intelligence and how well he blitzes. He leads the team with 32 tackles (second-best in the Big Ten) and also has 5.5 tackles for loss.

One other Michigan note: Jim Harbaugh has quite a weapon in kickoff man James Foug. Purdue special teams coordinator Tony Levine told me that in 15 years as a coach he’s never seen a kickoff guy get the kind of hang time Foug gets. Most of his kickoffs end up as touchbacks. The ones that are returned end up with the opponent’s average starting field position at their 17.

Levine says anything over four seconds of hang time on a kickoff is exceptional; Foug’s kicks consistently come in around 4.5. Usually when the returner catches the kick, you want the coverage guys to be inside the 35-yard line; Levine says that by the time Michigan’s opponents receive the ball, the Wolverines’ coverage team is typically inside the 25.



September 26th, 2017 at 4:11 PM ^

What I found most interesting about that article was the section on Nebraska.  I didn't realize Trev Alberts was an athletic director.  Pretty remarkable for the one guy who managed to get himself fired from ESPN just for being too much of a douchebag.  Anyway, if they hire Alberts for AD and then turn the football team over to Scott Frost, I wonder if they will just go full out and bring back the I-form triple option?  Might as well, IMO.  It worked for them in the '90s and at the very least they could become the Georgia Tech of the Big Ten.  Either way, I still don't see them fielding a defense comparable to the old blackshirts; they could put together an Iowa/Wisconsin level unit, but I just don't see them pulling in enough athletes to assemble a truly elite unit.

I could also see the whole "return to the roots" strategy failing miserably, as that stuff usually does in sports.


September 26th, 2017 at 5:56 PM ^

triple option is a great O when run properly.  it isnt much fun to prep for and play against but it can be beautiful to watch!

id love to see nebraska return to option football - theyll likely never replicate osbornes glory days as the game / landscape has evolved and circumstances changed but a triple option O (or even shifting to more spread O) may allow them to be more competitive overall


September 26th, 2017 at 4:31 PM ^

I'm watching the game...again, and can't believe Bush's closing speed, blitz speed and every other kind of speed. 

I think Hudson and Evans were considered fastest this spring? Can't remember for sure after they ran sprints, but Bush has to be near the top. 

He has a date with Barkley in about a month.  Its going to be special. 


September 26th, 2017 at 5:02 PM ^

The 40 time is one measure of speed, but I'm not sure it measures quickness.

I suppose we could get the first-10-yards time from video.

But there's another kind of quickness ... when a guy is in motion, and can go from 1st gear to top gear in split second.  That's what I think we're seeing in Bush -- he's moving in pursuit of the play, and then wham ... he's at mach speed.  I wonder what metric would capture that?


September 26th, 2017 at 5:53 PM ^

Agree with all of that. 

Sorta like the top base stealers in MLB. They are at full speed after 1 step.

Also agree with 'moving in pursuit'.  I liken that to anticipation.  If player is already leaning/moving in that direction, he's getting to top speed quicker.

I posted the Bush after a play when QB was rolling out and Bush was 5 yards behind him and caught him before sideline.  So great to have him on the team.  Seems like a good young man too.

Go Blue 


September 26th, 2017 at 5:02 PM ^

I think Tony Levine would actually be an interesting guy to look at for a staff position if something opened up this offseason. I actually think he'd be a great guy to go after if Drevno took a HC job this offseason, move Frey to OL then bring in Levine as TE coach. He's still fairly young at only 44. Would definitely be a solid assistant coach addition.

Blue in Paradise

September 26th, 2017 at 5:22 PM ^

Bush is actually only 5'8" under the dreads - so he should not come out early after the 2018 season.  He needs the 2019 season to grow to 5'11"

And while we are at it, Winovich only weighs 220 lbs, his hair weighs the other 40 lbs.  I would recommend he come back for a 5th year to put on more muscle. 



September 26th, 2017 at 8:48 PM ^

perhaps one of the most frustrating parts of our offensive struggles is seeing how aolid we are in the other two phases.

perhaps the best kickoff specialist we've ever had. Best FG kicker in at least a generation. Number 1 defense for 2nd year in a row.

if that O Line would just fucking gel....

Bigly yuge

September 26th, 2017 at 10:05 PM ^

Predator aka Devin Bush jr is a fucking monster. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I think Bush could end up being one of the best inside linebackers in Michigan and big ten history (modern era). The guy does it all.