The Talent Differential

Submitted by Bluestreak on January 1st, 2017 at 10:57 PM

I see how the board is full of 'how this team has underperformed  yadda yadda.

Our talent differential compared to elite programs is still too wide


Consider this. Since 2013

- We have 4 recruits with 247 score above 98, OSU has 15, Alabama 26!!

- Put another way, for every Peppers we have, OSU has 4 equivalent difference makers, Alabama has 6.5 equivalent difference makers.


It doesn't get any better when we look lower down the depth chart.

- We have 21 recruits above a composite score of 95 since 2013, OSU has 44, Alabama 55


The point I'm trying to make is that unless we get an equivalent number of difference makers, having program that contends for National Championships is a pipedream. Unfortunately, all the top programs have similar high level player development and facilities. It comes down to having players with the highest ceilings and developing them to their potential.


Underperform is what OSU did (against Clemson).

Clemson had 16 recruits above a composite score of 95 ... compared to OSU - who had 33!You can tack some of that to youth but not all of it.



January 1st, 2017 at 11:55 PM ^

Bunting played well for butt
Defense and ST still has 11 players on field-even with out Peppers
Butt and Peppers didn't prevent close loses to Ohio state and Iowa
Way to many variables to make some definitive statement about outcomes- like saying some in 1st quarter was the key to the outcome

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January 2nd, 2017 at 4:33 AM ^

Speculation? Two consensus 1st team All-Americans. I'm pretty sure that's worth a pair of points at least.

Let's factor this in really quick. In the red zone, who is our #1 pass catching target? Jake Butt. Are Wheatley or Bunting as good as Butt? No. 3 red zone trips, 3 field goals. That's a difference maker.

Peppers in the red zone. Our best athlete in the red zone. Whether he gets the ball or he's a decoy, he's a huge factor in that area of the field. That's a difference maker.

Dalvin Cook on his 45 yard catch in the 2nd quarter. Cook splits out wide. Instead of having Peppers split out covering him as the game plan was, Michigan was forced to cover Cook with 250lb LB Mike McCray. Cook is able to run right past him with ease. Does Peppers prevent that pass? Maybe, maybe not. But I like Peppers on Cook a helluva lot more than McCray on Cook.

Dalvin Cook's 3rd and 22 run. Don't get me wrong, Josh Metellus played great, all things considered. But he was caught out of position on that play. Cook took advantage. Peppers isn't perfect, but I can probably count on one hand the number of times he has been out of position. I like Pepper's chances of either stopping Cook in his tracks, or slowing his progress to the point where he doesn't gain that 22 yards that is needed to extend the drive.

Return game. As we all know, Peppers is an elite punt returner. Jourdan Lewis played in his place. Jourdan Lewis had two punts returned for negative 1 yard. Yes, -1 yard. Now does Peppers take one to the house? Does he make a big return? Does it impact the game? Who knows. But I'd be willing to wager a rather large amount of money that he'd beat 2 returns for -1 yard.

I guess you can technically say it's speculation. And I'm not one for excuses. But you are talking two consensus 1st team All-Americans. The Tight End of the Year. A Heisman contender and the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Two HUGE impact players. The two of them would contribute enough to change the result of that game. There's no doubt in my mind about that. That being said, they WERE hurt, injuries happen in football, and we lost.


January 1st, 2017 at 11:00 PM ^

It was clear to me watching Clemson vs OSU and Alabama yesterday that we do not yet have athletes of that caliber. It reassured my confidence in Harbaugh as the game's best or second best coach. He's competing with OSU and FSU with frankly less developed talent


January 1st, 2017 at 11:51 PM ^

No, I understood your point well. SBo  said that he thought Harbaugh was an elite coach because Michigan put OSU and FSU to the ropes, despite having less raw talent. You then said that OSU outrecruited Clemson, yet Clemson won, implying that it was coaching and player development that was the difference.


I then stated that it is not mutually exclusive that Michigan and Clemson both were punching above their talent-weight because of elite coaching.


January 2nd, 2017 at 8:45 AM ^

Recruiting is a good measure, but not an exact science.  IMO the only place that Clemson looked more talent is QB, WR, and o-line.  Now, Barrett was a good recruit, but Watson is special.  But, that was lucky.  Barrett was more highly regarded coming out of HS.  Mike Williams and A. Scott are both great WRs, but OSU has recruited quite a bit of talent there too, but right now IMO their most dynamic WRs are young and not starting. Jamarco Jones, Isiah Prince, and Billy Price and all good recruits, Jordan is a true freshman, and Elfein is the lowest rated of the bunch, but the best.  I'm not sure why they haven't quite produced as well as they should.  But, on the defensive side of the ball IMO OSU is just as good as Clemson. OSU has one of the best defensive backfields in the country.  They aren't particularly dominant at the DT/NT, but their ends are really good and they have 4 of them.  And, they have one of the best MLB in the country.  So, overall I don't think Clemson is way more talented, they just are at a few key positions.  


Frankly, I doubt OSU's o-line situation will be fixed next year, I don't think Barrett is anywhere near as dynamic as his predecessors, and Weber is above average, but he's not Elliot and isn't a big play threat.  If Sameuel's goes to the NFL, that offense won't be great next year. Their defense will be pretty good again, depending on what 3rd year guys decide to enter the draft., but if Hooker, Conley, and Lattimore all head to the NFL, their DBs could take a significant step back.


January 2nd, 2017 at 12:42 AM ^

I'm simply pointing out that in the is year round. Kids are in the fields 24/7. It's engrained into the culture. "Talent" is in abundance and there is a certain "dog" that is common in a lot of these kids down here. That is not to say other kids can't be talented or do not have it as well but when you line up on the grand stage "Talent" becomes apparent. Especially when it's combined with coaching. Michigan is starting to accumulate this "Talent" and it will show as soon as next year. You saw this same thing last year with MSU. Teams have great years in the B1G...then line up against the ELITE talent and get absolutely gassed. The Ohio team of 2014 was an outlier because they were just silly stacked.


January 2nd, 2017 at 12:51 AM ^

I think OSU only won the title because they had to play Cardale Jones (those fortunate fucks). OSU won that game against Alabama because of the deep ball. Jones to Devin Smith was the great equalizer. If Miller or Barrett is in the game I think Bama wins.


January 2nd, 2017 at 1:03 AM ^

Limited film on him and OSU just got hot. Their Oline played unbelievable during that run. OSU was loaded on Defense as well. Bama has since addressed their secondary in a major way and they would not lose to that OSU team now. Jeremy Pruitt is honestly the best Defensive Coordinator in my opinion. His scheme and recruiting ability is bonkers and he just fields stud defenses nearly everywhere he goes.


January 2nd, 2017 at 9:46 AM ^

folks who have never lived in the Deep South. As JH says, the only way to get better at football is to play football.

1. Spring Ball - the intensity of practice and retaining skills are crucial to player development. The South embraces this like colleges and it's why Urban pushed (unsuccessfully) for Ohio HS to allow real Spring Ball.
2. School focus - school district lines and feeder programs and class schedules are often oriented around football to maximize success. Not always healthy for student development, but great for football.
3. Basketball - it takes a seat several rows behind FB in importance.
4. Training - I tell folks that 8th graders typically join the HS training program to seamlessly transition young talent into programs. The mindset of "time to play big boy football" starts early and the S&C is year round at almost every HS.

Put it all together, along with some underlying talent differences (NFL defensive lineman are largely concentrated from the South because big+fast guys just seem to exist there in greater numbers), and the South has more guys who are more advanced with football skills.


January 2nd, 2017 at 12:51 AM ^

We often get star-happy when judging talent. There is a saying in Florida amongst many coaches that a "Florida 3 star is a 4 star everywhere else". Now obviously that's not universally applicable but there is some truth there. As far as team speed and athleticism goes, it's simply found in abundance south of the Mason Dixon. There is a reason why Miami built the most talented teams ever without leaving the State of Miami...which was Tampa down to Miami geographically.

Clemson recruits the hell out of Florida...Georgia and the Carolinas. They have an 85 member scholarship base of Elite athletes. It shows on the big stage. We don't have that at Michigan but it's getting there and in a few years you will see the difference. Harbaugh gets this and that's why you see his aggressiveness in recruiting. Particularly in the South. Satellite camps and the whole deal. He understands and is changing the basic physical makeup and ceiling of your average Michigan player. He has to if we're going to win on the big stage. Florida State is oozing with talent but it's not managed the best. Alabama and Clemson is talent managed pretty damn good and you see the results. Their respective ceilings are just higher. Recruiting is the alpha and omega of college football. We will be fine because Harbaugh gets this.


January 2nd, 2017 at 12:03 PM ^

How much of that southern talent could even get into Michigan when it comes to high school grades , GPA , ACT and SAT scores? This is the one area I wish I new more about because my thinking is Uof M is already at a disadvantge in recruiting because of the higher standard of academics tha we have. Don't get me wrong , I want a higher standard for U of M but am just frustrated because I feel we are fighting an up hill battle with OSU , Bama , Clemson , the Florida schools , etc. because they will admit anybody if they can play. 


January 1st, 2017 at 11:37 PM ^

Many around here are desperate for hope and the OP serves up what people want to hear- that we have everyhting in place and will become a powerhouse once the recruiting classes roll in. 

Except we got beat by lowely Iowa, Clemson smoked highly starred OSU, etc. etc.

Recruit rankings matter- but no more than 50% I think. Wisky and MSU regularly do more with less. Coaching matters!

And there are legitimate concerns about JH's predictable plays and poor decision making. When the other team knows what you are going to do then it throws all those wonderful recuiting stars out the window. A team of 3 star players becomes a team of 5 star players when they know what the next play is going to be.

We are not going to automaticaly get to the playoffs by recruiting alone and the future is very uncertain right now.

Blue in Paradise

January 1st, 2017 at 11:55 PM ^

Yes, let's fire JH even though his record this far is better than Saban had at Alanama his first 2 years. Maybe you will be happy when we are back to 5-7

This whole line of Harbaugh is overrated is ridiculous. There aren't more than 4 coaches on Earth that any team wouldn't trade for Harbaugh tomorrow.


January 2nd, 2017 at 11:49 AM ^

I'm a big fan of JH too (and his assistants), and I expect we'll see even more success in the future as he recruits and coaches his players.

That said, I think Don is right that there is some JH idolation going on in the fan base. Understandably so, he's a great coach, a true Michigan man, and he came in at a real low point -- it does feel like he saved us.

Yet he's not a perfect coach, and he'd be the first to acknowledge that. He has and will make mistakes on and off the field. Is there much discussion of what he could have done better? Not really. We're just so thankful to have him, and to see the rapid improvement of Michigan football that we're not quibbling about scheme or play calling or personnel decisions. It's not disloyal IMO to question what he does when justified.



January 2nd, 2017 at 7:45 AM ^

"The future is very uncertain right now...".
Oh no! Should we be frightened by your revelation MM!?
Is the future ever certain? Except for death and taxes??
Can you just be here to comfort us with your knowledge?? Make us feel safe during these highly uncertain 10 win season times????!?
Hold me.

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January 2nd, 2017 at 8:48 AM ^

There were a few times with Peppers and the running back sweeps where we were predictable and I don't understand why we did what we did, but to some degree Harbaugh did what he felt he had to do.  If he had a healthy QB and a better o-line it might feel a bit different.  Granted, the o-line will probably struggle again in 2017, but lets see what they look like in 2 more years with either an experienced QB and/or a highly talented one that Harbaugh picked himself.


January 2nd, 2017 at 1:50 AM ^

on OSU for year been that the defense (in particular) gets by on talent more than sound play and scheme.  I remember so many missed tackles during the Denard days when OSU LBs were going for the highlight hit rather than a sure tackle.

I doubt anyone other than 'Bama has had better talent on defense than OSU over the past 5-10 years; and although the defense has always been quite good it hasn't ever been at the Alabama level.  I am not sure if it is coaching, the constant turnover of kids leaving early, or the type of player attracted to OSU over Saban but the OSU D has never been dominant as the sum of it's components.

If you subbed a R. McMillon-level athlete for either McCray or Gedeon into this year's M defense we would have been undefeated and in the playoff - not sure we would've won but we would have been there.