Recruiting Update 6-11-09

2010 Michigan Wolverine Kenny Wilkins2010 Michigan Wolverines Recruiting Board.

Moved PA DE/LB Ken Wilkins to committed. Commitment post. Local paper article. I didn’t really want to, but I’ll have to fisk:

The word on Wilkins? Well, a good source at Trinity who knows the football program well said Wilkins is talented, but isn’t as athletic as  Andrew Sweat, a Trinity linebacker two seasons ago who is now at Ohio State. “He doesn’t have the agility that Sweat had,” the source said.

Wow, a defensive end doesn’t have the same agility as a linebacker. You deserve a medal for figuring that one out, guy.

More Nike Camp recap from Josh Helmholdt in the Free Press. Relevant players include MI QB commit Devin Gardner:

the 6-5, 210-pound Gardner is dual-threat quarterback and many of his best attributes are not showcased in a non-contact camp setting. Still, Gardner showed that he has spent a good portion of the offseason working on his passing. His footwork is vastly improved and even though he still has an atypical throwing motion, he was able to make all the throws and did so with adequate arm strength and accuracy.

Livonia Stevenson’s Austin White took home the MVP honors at the running back position with considerable ease. The 6-1, 185-pound White was nearly unstoppable in the one-on-one portion of the camp, using his speed to outrun would-be defenders. White’s footwork and agility in the drills portion of the camp also solidified his MVP honors.

Although they did not take home MVP honors, Southeastern defensive linemen Johnathon Hankins and William Gholston both had good performances, too. The 6-3, 320-pound Hankins has put a lot of work into his conditioning this offseason and it showed in his performance Saturday. The 6-7, 240-pound Gholston is the state of Michigan’s top ranked prospect and his combination of size, speed and athleticism is hard to find anywhere in the country.

Other standout performers for the state of Michigan included Saginaw class of 2011 wide receiver DeAnthony Arnett, Inkster running backs/safeties Daniel and Nathan Lindsey, Ypsilanti Willow Run defensive tackle Garret Davis, Warren Fitzgerald linebacker Austin Gray, Cass Tech athlete Daniel Easterly, Lansing Sexton quarterback Taurean Jackson and Hartland 2011 wide receiver Matt Poches.

Removed OK AB/WR DeMarco Cobbs. He’s down to a top 8, which Michigan is nowhere near. He also plans to go down to a top five soon, so there’s little room to sneak onto his top list.

2010 OH TE Alex SmithShortly after a visit to Michigan for the Big House BBQ, and slightly opening the door on his recruitment, OH TE Alex Smith (seen at left) has fully decommitted from Cincinnati. Michigan will probably among the favorites to land his signature, as he’s been on campus multiple times. If they’re able to land Smith, it would certainly help with his teammate, LB Jordan Hicks. Hicks is one of the top linebacker prospects in the nation, and plans to graduate early. He has a top 6 list that he plans to reveal in short order. Ohio State and Texas are locks to be on the list, and Cincinnati will probably make it as well. Your guess is as good as mine for the last three.

MD OL Arie Kouandjio has landed a coveted Ohio State offer, and considering how selective they can be with offensive line recruits (though the results may not be there over the past two years), it certainly means he’s kind of a big deal. He plans to narrow his scholarship offers to a top five by the time his senior season rolls around.

Speaking of OL prospects (and one Michigan has a much better shot with), FL OL Torrian Wilson has modified his top 5, removing Tennessee in favor of… FIU? Lol Kiffin and whatnot. Alabama, Stanford, and Miami of Florida are the others in his favorites list, along with the Wolverines.

OH DE Darryl Baldwin is likely staying close to home when he ultimately selects a school. Though that immediately makes one think he’s likely to be a Buckeye, that’s certainly not set in stone. The original quote from his coach was “Everybody across the country was interested in him, but he’s a Midwest guy and he’s leaning towards staying close to home.” That sounds a bit more positive for coaches across the midwest, no?

Video fluff on FL LB Christian Jones. He still sounds like he’s going to Florida State, so I wouldn’t give him tooooo much thought.

I just added him Monday, but don’t expect GA LB Tyrone Cornileus to stay on the board long. He has a top 3-ish substance without Michigan in it, and he plans to make a commitment within a month.

MI S/LB Daniel Easterly will camp at Michigan in hopes to land an offer from the Wolverines. He hails from the developing Michigan pipeline of Cass Tech.

Removed LA S Ronnie Vinson, who committed to LSU. He spoke early about really liking Michigan, partially due to a connection to Adam Kraus. However, he hadn’t mentioned the Wolverines in a while, and was probably no longer a realistic option.

Added OH twins DT Terry Talbott and CB Terrence Talbott. Michigan has offered both of the brothers (info in header).

This may be weird coming from me, but how about some hoops-related recruiting news? 2009 commit Darius Morris will report to Ann Arbor on June 22 for enrollment in summer classes (info in header).

This update is getting FULL. The rest of the info will be saved for a Monday update.

Posted under Basketball, Football, Recruiting

Monday Quick Hits

OK, These posts might become more common in the offseason as there isn’t a ton of actual news to report/analysis to undertake.

  • As reported by several other outlets over the weekend, Michigan’s pursuit of Greg Paulus has come to an end. I was basically indifferent on the Paulus situation, and I hope the Wolverines can bring in Jason Forcier, who can be a depth player and a mentor to his little brother.
  • The Wolverine Blog’s Ace Anbender cut a Tate Forcier Highlight from the spring game:
  • The Athletic Department reports that student season ticket sales are down, and they expect overall non-renewal rate to increase as well. Something tells me they won’t have a problem filling those seats with fans on the waitlist.
  • Odd situation with a “commit or not?” for the Wolverines yesterday, regarding DC LB Javarie Johnson (final answer: not). More on this situation later today or tomorrow in a Recruiting Update.
  • Catch up with the Michigan Baseball team’s progress in the weekend recap of the Michigan State series. Formerly’ll have a more long-term analysis for you later this week.

Posted under Baseball, Football, Other Sports, Personnel, Recruiting, Spring Coverage

Return of the Blogcast

In this Blogcast, Tim gives you an overview of all the new Wolverines. If you have any ideas for future blogcasts, let us know in the comments.

icon for podpress  Varsity Blue Podcast for 2/25/2009: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Posted under Blogcast, Personnel

Je’Ron Stokes Goes Blue

In the hustle and bustle of the world’s most stressful LiveBlog, I didn’t have time to put up commitment posts of Michigan’s three newest commits. Here’s Je’Ron Stokes, Michigan’s final commit (thus far) of the class. Adrian Witty and Denard Robinson in the days to come.

Je’Ron Stokes, a wide receiver from Philadelphia Northeast High School, has pledged his intentions to become a Michigan Wolverine. Stokes is a 6-1, 180-lber with enough speed to be a legitimate deep threat from the split end position. He is Michigan’s 22nd commitment of the 2009 recruiting season.

Recruiting Notes
Very early in the recruiting process, Stokes made it clear that he coveted a Michigan offer, and if he were to receive one, the Wolverines would be right in his top group of schools. Eventually, Stokes received that offer – just days after he had committed to the Tennessee Volunteers. Stokes cited his relationship with the Tennessee coaches as one of the deciding factors in his commitment, though if he had waited just a little while longer for that offer to come through, he may not have committed to Tennessee at all. Of course, when Phil Fulmer was fired, that naturally gave Je’Ron a little pause regarding his commitment to the Volunteers. He backed down from his commitment, especially after new coach Lane Kiffin encouraged both 2009 QB commits to explore their other options. Stokes took his Michigan took advantage of his newly “soft” status, and invited Je’Ron to campus for the January 16th recruiting weekend. The recruits took in the Michigan basketball loss against Ohio State Saturday night. Leading up to Signing Day, there was alternating optimism and pessimism on Stokes from the Michigan side of things. When he announced his decision on CSNPhilly.com at 3:00, however, Michigan was his choice.

Player Notes
Je’Ron Stokes is a four-star receiver to both recruiting sites, and garners a rating of 82 from ESPN (high four-star). Stokes is a very speedy player, and has an ability to stretch the field for his offense. He has decent speed at about 6-1, though he will need to put on some weight to avoid injury in college, as he currently only weighs around 180 pounds. Stokes displays good hands, but at his current size, he likely isn’t going to show them off by making tough catches in traffic over the middle. He participated in the Army All-American Bowl, where he made a couple grabs.

Je’Ron’s younger brother, Malik, is a 2010 prospect as a dual-threat QB. He is likely to end up in the high three-star/low four-star range, and may be a good complement to a more highly-rated player like Devin Gardner.


Posted under Football, Recruiting

It Never Comes When You Expect It

Michigan made a huge mistake in hiring Rich Rod. The season only get worse.
Minnesota-28 Michigan-7

Minnesota has a very tough defense and an offense that can really move the ball through the air. They’ll beat Michigan by at least 14. Michigan is steamrolling towards 2-10.

Hail to this year’s fraudulent Wolverines! U of M alums will shun each of you forever! Learn to pour some coffee because that’s the job you’ll get on graduation! 2 and 10!

This Rod hire looks worse every week, he is infamous for his arrogance and failure to make adjustments. Chances are his tenure at Michigan will be a failure. Whether the players fit his system or not, there is no reason for the ineptitude his Michigan team has displayed this season. Good coaches learn to adapt.

I agree. R Rod’s master plan is to sacrifice this year’s team and make it go 2-10, so he can claim what terrible team he inherited from Lloyd Carr. This will set the expectations way low for future years. That way, when he does finally have a winning record, say 7-5, he hopes to be praised for what genius he is. In the end, RR will turn Michigan into another Purdue. Few decent years followed by “rebuilding” year, followed by few decent years, and then so on. Don’t expect another National Championship with him.


Various outlets are reporting that Rich Rodriguez has called Steven Threet “very, very questionable” for Saturday’s game against Minnesota. Justin Feagin has been moved back to QB to back up Nick Sheridan. If that sentence doesn’t fill your veins with icy dread, I don’t know what will. Who knows, maybe Sheridan will be lost for the season and Feagin will go nuts on the Gophers, a la Justin Siller against Michigan? (Source)

Posted under Football

"Every Play Is Reviewed"

That’s what we’re told almost every time a play is reviewed in college football. “Every play is reviewed.” In the time it took the officials to spot the ball and wind the clock, ESPN had already put on screen conclusive video evidence that Obi Ezeh had possession of the ball and was down.

Some people may say “yeah, but it was a gritty, hustle play by the Minnesota player to get down there and dig the ball out of the pile. That’s football.” To that, I’d say when a player has possession of the football and a knee, elbow, or hip hit the ground, the play is dead. It’s a simple if A then B. We had a situation A, but it was not followed by B.

I don’t blame the officials on the field. It’s a tough situation to call. It happens really quickly and it’s hard to get a good angle in a scrum like that. But that’s why we have instant replay. And Rodriguez shouldn’t have to call a timeout to give them time to do what ESPN did in 10 seconds. Rodriguez shouldn’t have to challenge since every play is reviewed.

What do you think was going up in the booth? The replay official was watching the game in real time on his uber-high def monitors and from that decided there was nothing the least bit questionable? I’m in favor of replays happening when the call questionable, not just when the official thinks he (or she) sees incontrovertible visual evidence. I’d rather break the flow of the game in order to ensure the correct call is made.

The player will show in this paragraph

var s1 = new SWFObject(‘http://www.panel-creations.com/varsity_blue/podcast/vplayer.swf’,’player’,’640′,’480′,’9′);s1.addParam(‘allowfullscreen’,’true’);s1.addParam(‘allowscriptaccess’,’always’);s1.addParam(‘flashvars’,’file=http://www.panel-creations.com/varsity_blue/podcast/worstcallever.mp4′);s1.write(‘preview’);This play didn’t really affect the outcome of the game, but it still gets me. I think even if I was watching a game that I had no interest in, I still would have been a bit angry. I don’t blame the officials on the field; they did as well as they could in a difficult situation. The blame falls squarely on the replay official for not even calling for a replay.

Posted under Football

Inside the Play: Toledo’s Offense

Or: How one player can catch 20 passes in a game.

The Situation(s)
In Round 1, Toledo trails Michigan by 3 in the 3rd quarter. The Rockets are driving for the chance to take a lead, but they are already well within field goal range. They have a 2nd-and-10 from the Michigan 21. Their strategy: move the ball down the field with short, easy passes.

In Round 2, the game is now tied at 10 late in the third. The Rockets are now driving for the opportunity to take the lead. They have a 1st-and-10 from their own 21. The Rockets decide to stick with what has been working: the short passing game.

The Personnel and Formation(s)
On both plays, the Rockets are in a 3-wide, 2-tight end formation. In the first situation, Michigan counters with their Okie package. In the second, they are in a standard 4-3, but the personnel is spread wide. Since he’s the player we’re focusing on, each Toledo formation has Nick Moore to the twins side, though he is in the slot in round 1 and out wide in the second play.

The Play(s)

In both situations, Toledo keeps each tight end for a max protect. In both situations, Toledo runs a simple combo route that takes advantage of what they presume to be soft coverage of one form or another.

In situation 1, it is a hitch-flat combo that takes advantage of man coverage with a huge cushion provided on Moore by Brandon Harrison.

In the second situation, it is a slant-flat combo that takes advantage of cover-2 defense by Michigan and infamously terrible pass coverage by John Thompson.

Why They Worked

These are good reads by Opelt against predictably vanilla defenses. In the first one, he sees that the cushion is large enough to guarantee that Moore will get about 5 yards. In the second, Thompson follows the flat receiver into Trent’s zone (so pin this play on him), and then Brown’s pursuit angle is lacking somewhat. This is a case of being outschemed (due to lack of effort) and John Thompson just kinda sucking.

It was clear by this point that Moore was the #1 option on essentially every play, and Michigan’s scheme should have been catered slightly more to slowing him down (and John Thompson should have realized his error before it happened). Marell Evans must be really far behind, because it would be hard to play worse than Thompson, at least in coverage.

Posted under Football

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Inside the Play: Toledo Defense

The Situation
It’s the first quarter, and Michigan is trying to respond after a Toledo interception return put them down 7-0. Michigan has a 2nd-and-7 from the Toledo 36. A modest gain could move Michigan into field goal range. If they lose yards (Ha!), they will be pushed back, and face a daunting 3rd down conversion, which science says they are likely to convert at a very low rate (currently 27.2%, fourth from last in the NCAA).

The Personnel and Formation
Michigan is in the I-formation, with Sam McGuffie as the deep back and Mark Moundros the fullback. Kevin Koger is split in the slot, but motions over before the snap. Toledo is in a 3-4 defense with both outside linebackers in blitzing position. Prio to the snap, they bring one of their safeties up to the line of scrimmage.

The Play
Toss sweep to the right. Clusterfuck in the “blocking” department, with Schilling trying to stretch all the way to the safety, Moundros attempting to get to him once it is apparent Schilling will not, the playside DE unblocked, and all sorts of Toledo defenders flowing to the playside, with not enough blockers there to take care of all of them.

Why it Didn’t Work
The purple line represents the arc of the playside offensive linemen.

This play was doomed from the beginning. By the time the ball was snapped, it was clear Michigan would be greatly outnumbered at the point of attack. Couple that with crappy blocking from Schilling (not his fault, he is being asked to make a ridiculous stretch), Moosman completely whiffs on his guy, and unblocked players in the backfield everywhere. Koger is blocking down on this play, which allows even his man to get into the backfield. McGuffie is screwed from the beginning, and does what he can to avoid a huge loss.

Now you (unfortunately) know what it was like Inside the Play.

Posted under Football

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Inside the Play: Illinois Juice Keeper

Round 2.

The Situation
Illinois leads Michigan, 31-20 with about 9 minutes left in the game. After starting strong, the Michigan offense has sputtered, but finally got back on the board on its last drive. In spite of a questionable pass interference call on John Thompson, Michigan has Illinois in a 3rd-and-2 situation on their own 49 yard line. A stop here could help continue Wolverine momentum, and give the Wolverines a chance to get back into the game.

The Personnel and Formation

Illinois comes out in a 3-wide spread set, with a tight end on the right side of the line. Two wideouts are to the left. Isiah Williams is in the shotgun, with Daniel Dufrene lined up as the running back to his left. Michigan’s base 3-4 has a linebacker (John Thompson) on the line to the slot receiver side. Obi Ezeh and Jonas Mouton are centered over the line, which consists of the standard starters (Graham, Taylor, Johnson, and Jamison). The secondary is composed of Brandon Harrison, Stevie Brown, Donovan Warren, and Morgan Trent.

The Play

Juice Williams runs a quarterback draw, running right into the heart of Michigan’s strong defensive line. This should be a stop by Michigan, but Williams manages to scamper 50 yards down the field, before he is run down from behind by Stevie Brown at the 1 yard line. Michigan’s defensive play is a blitz of the weakside of the formation by Thompson, with the line clogging things up and the other two linebackers playing the run. The secondary mans up on the receivers.

Why it Worked
Brandon Graham and Jonas Mouton seem to both be to blame for Juice getting loose (damnit, I was going to avoid saying that). Michigan’s defensive play seems to be for the defensive line to plug up the middle, with the linebackers freed up to make plays near the line of scrimmage. Graham gets greedy, however, and gives up his inside position when it appears that Juice will try to go around the edge. This frees up a gap for Williams to head through. Mouton should be there, but he was also fooled by Juice, and has rushed to the outside to play contain. However, it appears as though his responsibility was not contain, as Brandon Harrison has filled the same gap. Mouton and Graham were both supposed to be in position to stop Juice here, and considering that neither was, it’s easy to see why he got free.

Now you know what it was like Inside the Play.

Posted under Analysis, Video

Inside the Play: Illinois Screen

The Situation
Michigan leads Illinois 14-10 with about 11 minutes remaining in the second quarter. The Illini have the ball in a 2nd-and-10 situation on their own 43 yard line. Michigan’s offense has been clicking early in the game, and a big stop on Illinois’s potential go-ahead drive would sustain the Wolverine momentum, and possibly springboard another Michigan scoring drive.

The Personnel and Formation

Illinois comes out in a 3-wide spread set, with a tight end on the right side of the line. Two wideouts are to the left. Isiah Williams is in the shotgun, with Daniel Dufrene lined up as the running back to his left. Michigan is running out of its 3-4 Okie nickel package. The corners are playing off, and Charles Stewart is the high safety along with Brandon Harrison. Stevie Brown, Jonas Mouton, Obi Ezeh, and John Thompson are the linebackers. Mike Martin is the pass-rushing DT.

The Play

Michigan is in a cover-3, with both OLBs blitzing. At the snap, John Thompson blitzes, allowing Daniel Dufrene to run right by him. This is unfortunate for Thompson and the Michigan defense at large, as this play is a designed screen (not quite a swing pass, as The Davids – ESPN’s shittiest new announce team – state). Williams lofts the ball over Thompson’s head, and Dufrene makes the catch. He follows his screen blockers, breaks a couple early tackle attempts, and outruns the Wolverines to the endzone.

Why it Worked
John Thompson is the major culpable party in Illinois’s success on this play. In Shafer’s scheme, he is designated to blitz on this play, but has the responsibility to “hug up” on Dufrene if he leaks out of the backfield. It is plain to see Thompson realizes his mistake, as he has an “oh shit” moment, and turns around when he realizes Dufrene has passed him.

This was an effective play call against a blitz, and of course the responsibilities of the blitzers are supposed to compensate for this. Thompson’s fuckup amplified the effectiveness of the playcall.

It’s hard to fault him too much, since he was making sure there weren’t huge cutback lanes in the secondary, but Donovan Warren starts off this play taking a terrible angle. He almost manages to still catch up with Dufrene, and had he taken a better angle, might have stopped this 5-10 yards short of the endzone.

Now you know what it was like Inside the Play.

Posted under Analysis, Video