Phil Steele comments on UM Football

Submitted by Slippery Rock … on August 27th, 2011 at 4:23 PM

I was listening to Bill is King online when he had Phil Steele as a guest.  Someone eventually called up and asked him to break down what he thought of the wolverines chances in conference play.  I'm sure this is not news to anyone that buys his magazine, but it's food for thought to the rest of us. 

Link click on hr2 of Aug 26 (about 35 minute mark)

Quick breakdown of what he said.

He likes what Hoke is doing.  Hoke will have to defense turned around quickly.  He thinks it takes about 2 years to really install the pro offense (new blocking schemes, QB needs to learn how to take snaps from under center etc.).  Expects Denard to take snaps from shotgun 30% of the time.  Hoke needs the athletes on defense. 

The schedule is tough.  Does not expect UM to get 4 big ten wins. UM may be underdogs for the away games at NW, MSU, Iowa, Illinois.  We are probably underdogs for NEB and OSU as well.  We will probably need 2 or even 3 upsets to top 4 big ten wins. 

Sounds like he is not too high on Michigan this year, but he does end his response by saying that he expects UM to be one of the favorites for the Legends division next year.



August 27th, 2011 at 4:26 PM ^

I have no idea what everyone is looking at.  The scheudle is very easy this year and sets up nicely.  Tougher the last few weeks of the season yes, but definitely not tougher than last year, and much easier overall than last year.


August 27th, 2011 at 5:33 PM ^

Well they were in the first year of a new system both offensively and defensively last year, and the Steelchasenburgersteinel was a freshman at QB, so it's not totally unreasonable to think they step up.  Still, I think the Zook effect stays strong: They're good when they should suck, and they suck when they should be good.


August 27th, 2011 at 5:21 PM ^

With 17 returning starters, including a legitimate Heisman contender at QB, they will not be a push-over by any means.  Five of the front-six returning on Offense will be protecting that QB, and four of the front-seven on D to complement a theme of experienced line-play. Obviously that leaves 8 returning skill players sprinkled over each side of the ball.  They should be a pretty deep team this year.

Granted, looking at Northwestern's 10 games last year that included Persa at QB show a not-so-impressive resume:  7-3.   That includes wins over Vandy by 2, CMU - yes the Chippewas - by 5, Minnesota by 1, Indiana by 3 and Iowa by 4.  CMU and Iowa were homegames, the other three were aways.  Close loss to Purdue by 3 and a sort-of-close loss to MSU by 8.

Regardless, I'm considering them to be one of the five games for which I will be sweating the outcome.


August 28th, 2011 at 9:59 AM ^

This year Big Ten Schedule


@ Northwestern (Persa graduates this year, inexperienced QB at the Big House next year)

@ Michigan St (Cousins graduates this year, inexperienced QB at the Big House next year)

Purdue (Marve graduates this year, inexperienced QB next year)

@ Iowa (at Big House next year)

@ Illinois (at Big House next year)

Nebraska (not immediately before the Ohio game next year)


Next Year Big Ten Schedule

@ Purdue


Michigan St

@ Nebraska

@ Minnesota



@ Ohio


August 27th, 2011 at 5:04 PM ^

Determining how tough this year's schedule is by looking at how good teams were last year doesn't really make any sense.  OSU, MSU, Iowa, and Illinois are all teams that I think will take big steps backward.  Purdue and Minnesota still stink.  I don't see Nebraska this year being as good as Wisconsin was last year.

Considering Michigan will be vastly improved at nearly every single position on the field, it seems kind of silly to expect us to win the same number of conference games as we did a year ago (as Steele predicts).


August 27th, 2011 at 5:23 PM ^

Those guys anchored the defense for a long time.  Plus the o-line is a mess.  And yeah, even if they are just as good I don't see any way they are an 11 win team again this year.  Like Iowa was last year, they are a team that I just don't see repeating the previous year's success.

Son of Lloyd Brady

August 27th, 2011 at 5:31 PM ^

Even though MSU won 11 games, they were not an 11 win team talent. They got lucky quite a few times and to their credit, a win is a win and they won the games when they counted. That being said, nobody gets that lucky two years in a row and if they played last season all over again I think they finish with 2-3 less wins which is still not a bad year. This year I feel that they will likely win 7-8 again which is what I feel our team is capable of.


August 27th, 2011 at 8:45 PM ^

Mark (suck my bonio) Dantonio is a douchebag, but, except for Iowa, they did win all of the games they played against non-superior opponents, and they caught Wisconsin before they got hot.  (Recall that, Wisco escaped Arizona St early in the season by virtue of a very late missed ASU extra point.)

As you can see, there can be great virtue in being "solid", but that's not going to carry the Spartans to anywhere near 11-2 given their 2011 slate.



2011 Michigan State Spartans Schedule
Fri, Sept 2 7:30 PM ET Big Ten Network Tickets
Sat, Sept 10 12:00 PM ET Tickets
Sat, Sept 17 3:30 PM ET NBC Tickets
Sat, Sept 24 TBD Tickets
Sat, Oct 1 TBD Tickets
Sat, Oct 15 TBD Tickets
Sat, Oct 22 8:00 PM ET Tickets
Sat, Oct 29 TBD Tickets
Sat, Nov 5 TBD Tickets
Sat, Nov 12 TBD Tickets
Sat, Nov 19 TBD Tickets
Sat, Nov 26 TBD Tickets


2010 Michigan State Spartans Schedule
Sat, Sept 4 1-0 (0-0)
Sat, Sept 11 2-0 (0-0)
Sat, Sept 18 3-0 (0-0)
Sat, Sept 25 4-0 (0-0)
Sat, Oct 2 5-0 (1-0)
Sat, Oct 9 6-0 (2-0)
Sat, Oct 16 7-0 (3-0)
Sat, Oct 23 8-0 (4-0)
Sat, Oct 30 8-1 (4-1)
Sat, Nov 6 9-1 (5-1)
Sat, Nov 20 10-1 (6-1)
Sat, Nov 27 11-1 (7-1)
Sat, Jan 1 11-2 (7-1)


August 27th, 2011 at 5:36 PM ^

When a team returns only 2 of their front 6 offensive linemen, and only 4 of their front 7 D-linemen, there is reason to suspect a regression in the trenches.  

Now, when news regarding that same team (as posted by Brian on Aug 16th) reveals a converted D-tackle "emerging to start at left tackle" while a redshirt-freshman and another converted D-tackle are neck-n-neck to start at Center (and another redshirt freshman is fighting for the Right Tackle spot)... there is strong reason to believe a big step backward for the Spartans.  They have an already depleted front 7 on D, and are being forced to use two of those D-line bodies to plug gaps on their front 6 on O.  Cackle with knowing glee.  Michigan is going to run over some Spartans on October 15th.


August 27th, 2011 at 5:41 PM ^

I really appreciate your optimism, but as I said before we could get better at nearly every position on the field and still lose 5 conference games. I hope that is not the case, but it is possible. 

Last year our margins of defeat in conference were 17, 10, 10, 20, and 30. 

Our margins of victory were 7, 2, and 11.

So we could in fact be a better team and still struggle in the BIG. I really hope that is not the case, but it is what it is. 

skunk bear

August 27th, 2011 at 9:24 PM ^

Sat., Sep. 4 vs. Connecticut TV Ann Arbor, Mich. W, 30-10
Sat., Sep. 11 at Notre Dame TV South Bend, Ind. W, 28-24
Sat., Sep. 18 vs. Massachusetts TV Ann Arbor, Mich. W, 42-37
Sat., Sep. 25 vs. Bowling Green TV Ann Arbor, Mich. W, 65-21
Sat., Oct. 2 at Indiana * TV Bloomington, Ind. W, 42-35
Sat., Oct. 9 vs. No. 17 Michigan State * TV Ann Arbor, Mich. L, 34-17
Sat., Oct. 16 vs. No. 15 Iowa (Homecoming) * TV Ann Arbor, Mich. L, 38-28
Sat., Oct. 30 at Penn State * TV State College, Pa. L, 41-31
Sat., Nov. 6 vs. Illinois * TV Ann Arbor, Mich. W, 67-65 (3OT)
Sat., Nov. 13 at Purdue * TV West Lafayette, Ind. W, 27-16
Sat., Nov. 20 vs. No. 6 Wisconsin * TV Ann Arbor, Mich. L, 48-28
Sat., Nov. 27 at No. 8 Ohio State * TV Columbus, Ohio L, 37-7
Sat., Jan. 1 vs. No. 21 Mississippi State TV Jacksonville, Fla. L, 52-14


August 27th, 2011 at 4:28 PM ^

I don't think we should be underdogs vs NW and Illinois. A pick 'em maybe, but I don't see us being that big of an underdog unless we tank the OOC schedule.

Jesus Quintana

August 27th, 2011 at 4:31 PM ^

I agree with this thinking. I think Michigan will be a pick'em for NW but favorites for Illinois. The Zooker is on borrowed time in Urbana-Champaign and I really believe Illinois is going to join Purdue/Minny as basement teams. 

Sac Fly

August 27th, 2011 at 5:15 PM ^

Northwestern is a dangerous team with persa but his rehab is behind schedule. no doubt he will be back when we play them, but if he misses the first few games and they tank in non-conference they won't be the sleeper team everyone thinks they can be. Lets face it illinois is the biggest underachiever there is, they have sports writers picking them as a dark horse B1G contender so they will finish with 4 wins.

SC Wolverine

August 27th, 2011 at 4:32 PM ^

I love it.  More locker room bulletin board material.  Hoke is going to have the Wolverines coming out like angry fanatics.  I don't know what our potential is this year, but I feel strongly that we will exceed expectations.  Bring on more inspiration for Brady and Co to throw in our boys' faces!


August 27th, 2011 at 4:37 PM ^

I feel like the easyness of our schedule this year has been over-stated my mgoboarders. I feel like, while we may be better than 8 or 9 of our opponents, a bunch of those games are only 60% wins, so there is a very good chance we drop one or two of them. On the other hand, I see games like UM-Nebraska as 70%-80% losses.


August 27th, 2011 at 5:19 PM ^

People are comparing the schedule to last year's. This year's is easier. Michigan should win 8 and anything less is a step back. I don't expect Michigan to win the Big Ten this year but I do expect a team with as many returning starters as Michigan has to show well. They won 7 last year and practically everyone is back.

WMU, EMU, SDSU, Minnesota, and Purdue are gimme's. (at least they better be)

ND (overrated as usual), NW, Iowa and Illinois are all winnable games. They should win at least three of these games. They beat two of these teams last year and gave Iowa a good game. Iowa is not nearly the team they were last year. Of this group NW could be the toughest game.

MSU, Nebraska, OSU - these are the games Michigan will be heavy underdogs.

If you look at last years schedule Michigan beat the teams they should have beaten.5 of the 6 losses were to teams just plain better. The PSU game is the only one that was closer to the toss up category.


Of course this is all on paper. If Michigan doesn't look any better than they did in the spring game they'll go 3-8.



August 27th, 2011 at 10:31 PM ^

I look at the season with the same assumptions as you (and I did for a while): taking up where we left off, people we beat we should still beat, games that were toss ups we will edge bc of the Hoke/Mattison improvement and returning experienced players, then I agree with your assessment.
But if there are growing pains, and that is an if, then Illinois, Iowa, Notre Dame, and NW all become not only winnable games, but losable ones. No, I'm not a pessimist. Yes, I believe we can win them all. But a more tempered approach to expectations I find advisable to a fanbase prone to picking up pitchforks (according to recent history).
I chose to enter the conversation bc I could see your annoyance below. No sense we get up in arms when conversation is possible.


August 27th, 2011 at 4:37 PM ^

Because I swear this misunderstanding about the schedule was what prompted Corso's prediction of 5  wins. I think the schedule probably has eight wins in it, assuming things are progressing well on both sides of the ball. 


August 27th, 2011 at 4:42 PM ^

If Michigan is as good as many of us (including me) think they are, the schedule sets up easy.  If they are as bad as many of the "professionals" out there think, the schedule is difficult.  I think they have Michigan and Michigan State confused this year.  Michigan should finish where Sparty is being picked, and Sparty should finish where Michigan is being picked.


August 27th, 2011 at 4:50 PM ^

So we will stink this year, but somehow losing Shaw, Hemingway, Odoms, Koger, Huyge, Molk, RVB, Martin, and Woolfolk will propel us to the top of the B1G next year?  Steele must be really high on our current freshmen and sophomores.  Or he must be talking out of his ass.  One of those two.


August 27th, 2011 at 5:02 PM ^

Its not like our schedule is going to ease up either.... I feel like he is putting a bunch of stock into the scheme change. He thinks its going to hold us back a ton this year, but that a second year in our system should be worth 4 wins (I say 4 because losing those players and having a tougher schedule should be worth 2 or 3 losses, and he expects us to improve a lot). I think he is over-stating the scheme change, but at this point who knows.

turd ferguson

August 27th, 2011 at 5:30 PM ^

All college teams lose a bunch of key contributors every year. We also return a bunch next season (Denard, Lewan, Stonum, Omameh, Roh, Demens...). Personally, I think people are far too optimistic about the speed of this transition given that we're totally changing schemes and coaches with reduced practice time. I expect that we'll be better in 2012 than 2011, better in 2013 than 2012, and better in 2014 than 2013.
<br>Next year's schedule is brutal, but it doesn't really hurt our division title chances. Alabama and @ND aren't conference games, and the road games against Nebraska and OSU make the rest of the Big Ten schedule pretty light. Going 6-2 would put us right in contention .


August 27th, 2011 at 10:30 PM ^

Or not.

The problem is that we have deficiencies on the defense this year, we'll have holes start to develop on defense and offense next year, (particularly on the OL as Brian pointed out yesterday on WTKA) and we'll be relying on underclassmen (perhaps true freshmen) to fill them. That's not a recipe for success.

If a couple of 6- or 7-win seasons starts to look like a pattern, U-M becomes less relevant in the mind of top recruits, no matter who is recruiting them. All of a sudden, we're ND, perpetually "returning to glory", with an occasional 9- or 10-win season mixed in with pretty mediocre (and utterly lousy by historical U-M standards) records.

I'm not saying it's inevitable, but it's entirely possible. We need to do well this season. We don't need to necessarily win the B1G (or even the division) but we have to be in the mix of contenders late in the season.


August 27th, 2011 at 5:10 PM ^

That's when we can really think of Michigan as a favorite for its division, I fear.  This year and next the defense should have too many holes in it to be a favorite.  The offense will be adjusting this year.  The 2012 schedule is brutal (though Alabama and ND aren't conference games).  2013 or 2014 should be the year when talent and familiarity with scheme finally come together. 

One Inch Woody…

August 27th, 2011 at 5:45 PM ^

I hate when commentators mention this "talent" gap on defense we have supposedly at Michigan. That our starting player on defense would be "nice little subs at Indiana".

Alright, so you're telling me that Michigan recruits worse talent than Indiana? You're telling me that a school with such advanced facilities and great football tradition recruits worse than Indiana or Minnesota or Purdue.

NO! That could not be farther from the truth. We recruit well perenially. There is no reason other than coaching for why we have been doing so terribly on defense. It takes 1 day to fire a bad coach and put a new one in, not one entire year. I understand what they would say about "learning a new system" ... but the majority of the players have a.) played the system before in 2009 or b.) played the system before in high school. It's a pretty standard system... it's not like they're taking me (6 years removed from football) and putting me in a 4-3 under. We have the talent to have a 40th-50th ranked defense. Troy, Avery, Demens, Gordon, Gordon, Kovacs, RVB, Martin, and Roh are all extremely solid players and all are very good at tackling (the Gordons are scary tacklers...)

Also, the whole "nice little subs at Indiana" ... well they kinda hit that one right on the head. At one point in the season we were playing our 3rd string FS (who really was too unathletic to do anything), 3rd string CBs, 3rd string linebackers, and 2nd string d-lineman.

Go blue.


One Inch Woody…

August 27th, 2011 at 6:02 PM ^

But see the understanding there is that they tackled well in high school and the moment they got to campus they just.... forgot? You don't get 4 star ratings by not being able to tackle people. Our leading tackle per game player was Demens. Mike Martin was 3x teamed pretty often along with RVB. Roh was too slow as an OLB to get to people but if he did he tackled pretty well. Woolfolk didn't play last year but he was solid in 2009. Avery was solid when he was put in. Kovacs was a tackle machine.

From what I saw, Cullen Christian couldn't tackle worth anything nor could Terrence Talbot. Ray Vinopal had good form tackling but he was too small at FS to do anything. Obi Ezeh would get swallowed by linemen. Mouton would muster up all of his strength for one awesome tackle and be mowed down on the other 3 downs. Roh, like I said, was too slow to get anywhere. Both Gordons would get some really nice hits but Cam was too slow to catch up to the guys if they were doing Inversion defense and for some reason T. Gordon wasn't put in nearly as much as he should have been. He's a monster.