Monday, August 30, 2010

2010 Depth Chart thoughts

You're all probably well aware that an unofficial depth chart for Michigan has been released for the UConn game. You can read the whole thing above at MGoBlog, but I'll break down a few of the more interesting personnell notes:

- As we guessed, all three quarterbacks come in as first string QB with the now-familiar "OR" between them. Denard is listed first and will almost certainly take the first snap against UConn, Tate is second, and Gardner is third. There won't be a redshirt for Gardner.
- Stephen Hopkins is listed fifth on the depth chart for running backs. Pegged as one of the big time freshman contributors, I expected Hopkins to be second string at worst. Interestingly, Mike Cox comes in for second-team duty, a pounding back to will probably eat up a lot of the short yardage carries I thought would go to Hopkins.
- Jeremy Gallon is buried on the slot receiver depth chart. Whether or not he ever contributes becomes a question.
- Mark Huyge over Taylor Lewan at starting left tackle. I expect Lewan to come close to overtaking Huyge by year's end.
- The wildly hyped Brandon Graham clone Jibreel Black comes in at second-team DE. This is a good sign. The D-line is almost certainly going to be Michigan's best and deepest unit (team-wide) this year.
- Will Campbell is buried on the NT depth chart, which is really surprising. I thought he looked great in the spring game and was going to be a big impact player this year. He may still be a little out of shape, but expect to see him on goal line stands.
- Mark Moundros is listed as "OR" in the MLB first-team depth chart alongside Obi Ezeh. I bet Moundros takes the first snap against UConn.
- Carvin Johnson shows up as the starter at Spur and Marvin Robinson is behind Kovacs at Bandit. I expect both of these freshmen to make a big impact and in the latter's case, for Robinson to be the starter ahead of Kovacs.
- James Rogers is your CB alongside J.T. Floyd. Ugh.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Troy Woolfolk: Broken

My friends and I often joke in nonsequiturs. For example, Wet Owl, an internet meme to my group of friends and something that confuses everyone else who comes in contact with it. So a few days ago, a friend and I were talking about Michigan football; we discussed all of the awful things that have happened the past two years and that something similarly awful had to happen this year. We decided that the most damaging thing that could happen to the team was the sudden loss of Troy Woolfolk after he broke both arms and legs in a tragic bear attack. In this regard, the news that Woolfolk dislocated his ankle and is now out for the season is at least partially my fault.

After Justin Turner left the program last week, I did a post about the cornerback depth chart. I concluded thusly:

This is a bad thing, but if Michigan can avoid injuries to its secondary this year, it may not be as devastating as it seems. Now we just have to pray like hell Christian came to Michigan ready to contribute and the Tao of Barwis has a fast track.

So.... what now? Let's take a look:

J.T. FloydCullen Christian
Terrence TalbottCourtney Avery
Various walk-onsMe

Not to over estimate what happened today, but the injury to Woolfolk may very well mark the end of the Rich Rodriguez era at Michigan. Unless Floyd, Christian, and the Talbott/Avery platoon drastically outperform their recruiting rankings and on-field play, Michigan's defense just went from having the potential to be a middle of the pack Big Ten squad to easily the most vulnerable defense in the Big Ten, if not one of the worst in the country. Woolfolk's loss is really that impactful. And that's assuming there aren't any other injuries during the year.

At this point, I'm glad I'll be away from my computer for the next three or four days. I'm just exasperated. I don't know what to do anymore. Can anything go right for this program? How many bad things have to happen until our luck turns?

For now, put on your Maize and Blue colors and just stand there as God sprays you with a water gun. It's about to get ugly.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Countdown to Kickoff: Where's Tate?

If the various camp reports and Troy Woolfolk's incendiary comments about Tate Forcier weren't enough to convince you that Denard Robinson will be Michigan's starting QB on September 4th, maybe Tate's complete absence from recent Countdown to Kickoff videos will be the straw that breaks the camels back. There were lingering comments the past week or two that Forcier has been dinged up and missing a lot of practice (when the Big Ten Network was around, they mentioned a few times through Tweets that Tate was sitting out parts of practice due to injury). And in today's video, not only do you not see Tate once--not in the background, taking snaps, or anywhere else--but Devin Gardener is running with the twos (though this could also be because Tate is injured and they're trying to get Gardener more experience).

Regardless of the reasoning, I still don't see any way that Robinson doesn't take the first snap on September 4th. Other personnel bits I've gleaned from the Countdown to Kickoff videos:
  • Mark Moundros has been running with the ones a lot in practice. His presence on the starting defense is really beginning to worry me. Then again Obi Ezeh has always worried me.
  • Vincent Smith appears to be running with the twos and Fitzgerald Toussaint appears to be taking a lot of snaps with the starting offense.
Other than that, I don't want to venture any guesses. These are observations from random practice videos and that can offer a bare minimum of actual information.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Moving, blog improvements, otherwise

Administrative note: Despite this being one of the more exciting times of the year, I have decided to take a very brief leave of absence as I pick up and move my entire life from the comforts of the Midwest and employment to the vast horizons of Los Angeles. Over the next week, there will be a minimal amount of posting on the site because I'll be sitting in a U-Haul truck somewhere in America. I will try and update from the road but internet will be difficult to come by.

I am taking this time to improve the site slightly, which is to say change the site domain name to I'm not really aware of how to do all of it, so there may be problems along the way. But I think the process is set in motion and, with any luck, there won't be too many problems in the future.

Also, a big thanks is due to Dave Bartkowiak of Dear Red Wings for helping me set up the domain.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Turner, gone; depth, gone

So word has trickled down that Justin Turner, Michigan's former standout corner prospect has asked for his release from the team. He is being pegged as one of the players that Rodriguez now infamously said were out of shape and unable to play D-I football. And for a team that's already staring down a harrowing depth chart on defense (specifically in the secondary), the loss of a should-be star is a massive blow. So with that in mind, let's take a look at Michigan's existing depth chart:

Troy WoolfolkJ.T. Floyd
Cullen ChristianTerrence Talbott/Courtney Avery
Terrence Talbott/Courtney AveryVarious walk-ons

In other words, not great. Aside from Woolfolk, who has established himself as the #1 corner, there are very few certainties here. Is Floyd the #2? Can Christian work his way into the starting rotation? Is Floyd better than he was last year? Are Talbott and Avery ready for the prime time? But before we go any further, let's take a look at what we do know (Woolfolk aside as his body of work speaks for itself):

J.T. Floyd: The projected starter alongside Woolfolk, Floyd saw limited playing time last year after Cissoko crashed and burned, and he looked woefully overmatched for much of it. He wasn't fast enough to cover receivers one-on-one, necessitating a 10-yard cushion at the line of scrimmage and opening Michigan up to a lot of quick screens that went for 7 yards. But a key part of Floyd's progression that often went unmentioned is that he was a redshirt freshman.

Floyd was a middling 3-star athlete out of high school. Rivals listed him at 179 lbs and the current Michigan roster lists him at 183, an unimpressive gain for a player going through three years of Barwis training, though much more weight than that and he risks fluidity and speed. Speaking of speed, he doesn't have much of it. Aside from what we saw on the field last year, Rivals has him running a 4.73 second 40, which is pretty low given the juicing of recruiting numbers.

Terrence Talbott/Courtney Avery: Talbott and Avery come in with basically identical recruiting resumes and are both going to be asked to contribute far too early. Both hail from Ohio and rank 47th and 51st in the state respectively. Both are listed at 5'10" and around 170 lbs.

Avery received middling-at-best offers from the likes of Standford, Vanderbilt, and Louisville, along with the likes of Eastern Michigan and Army. Talbott, meanwhile, at least comes in with a few more respectable offers: Wisconsin, North Carolina, Illinois, UConn, and Cincinnati. The point is, these two guys are nearly interchangeable (though if you ask me, Talbott sees the most playing time), neither have the recruiting hype to really make an immediate impact, and are both players that projected to be potential contributors down the line. Michigan will need their services far too soon.

Cullen Christian: Christian is now the real impact youngster to watch this year. Before the arrival and departure of Demar Dorsey, Christian was one of the gets for the Wolverines secondary. In terms of replacing Turner (or rather Turner's potential), Christian is the best bet. And a realistic one, too.

Turner and Christian's recruiting hype are at least relatively similar according to Rivals. Both come in as 4-star prospects (Turner admittedly higher and near 5-star status) and ranked in the top 10 in their respective states (1st in Ohio; 2nd in Pennsylvania, respectively). Turner ranked #35 nationally while Christian sneaks just inside the top 100 at #99. And Turner had offers from the likes of OSU, WVU, MSU, and Pitt; offers that Christian replicates along with various other BCS schools.

Rivals even has a sidebar that says, "Cullen Christian reminds us of... Justin Turner". The point is, the loss of Turner's talent/potential is not irreplaceable. The bigger issue is to depth.

Is there any reason for optimism? Yes and no. No because, well, look above. Yes for two reasons: First, corner is a position that, as is going to be repeated over and over again in the Michigan blogosphere for the next month, young players can come in and make an immediate impact. Christian is the most likely to do so, but if we see functional play out of Avery or Talbott, consider that a net plus. The other reason for optimism is the scheme shift that's taking place this year. Players have said that this year's schemes rely more on zones than man-to-man coverage, meaning Michigan will be able to get away with only two corners on the field most of the time. This will put more pressure on the likes of Craig Roh, Obi Ezeh, and Jonas Mouton, not to mention the other incoming freshmen players (I'm looking at you Marvin Robinson), but if they can get away with Floyd handling underneath zones rather than streaking wide receivers, damage might be mitigated.

This is a bad thing, but if Michigan can avoid injuries to its secondary this year, it may not be as devastating as it seems. Now we just have to pray like hell Christian came to Michigan ready to contribute and the Tao of Barwis has a fast track.

NCAA Football 11 review

Sure it's a month too late. And I realize that my editor removed most of my relevant punctuation (commas /= em-dashes) making every sentence read like a run-on, but here is my review of NCAA Football 11.

Money quote:

On a micro, game-by-game basis, NCAA Football 11 is as near to perfection as you can realistically get in 2010. Given the hardware limitations, the realism of the game is unprecedented. But in a more holistic, macro sense, NCAA Football 11 suffers from some crippling issues, primarily problems with the extensive Dynasty mode--year by year maintenance of a program wherein you recruit, play seasons, and attempt to build a national power. Prime among the issues in the game is character development and computer depth issues.

Carry on.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Let's Get Denarded In Here

Because there are no real stories out of fall practice yet and my friend put the idea in my head.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Fall camp roster

So today is the first day of fall camp which means the following weeks will be filled with specious camp reports about So and So playing well above their projection. But a piece of objective information that we got today is a complete roster with the incoming freshman class added. Bullets:
  • Justin Turner is listed as a cornerback. There's been a lot of speculation about a late growth spurt that may harm his chances as a cornerback, necessitating a move to safety. Right now, though, he's listed at corner. I suspect this is due to a number of factors, but primarily because of depth issues at corner.
  • Martavious Odoms and Roy Roundtree are listed as slot receivers despite both having spent a little time as wide receivers (because of injuries) in the spring.
  • Mike Shaw is on the roster. There has been some hemming and hawing about his eligibility, and while this doesn't clear up much, it's tentatively a good sign that he's on the roster. I suspect we'll hear more about him in the coming weeks.
  • As suspected, Troy Woolfolk is still at cornerback. This is a permanent move.
  • Mark Moundros is listed as a FB/LB. I don't expect him to see the field much on either side of the ball, but he might pop up here and there.
  • Richard Ash is a defensive tackle. He's listed at 6'3", 320 lbs. Hopefully Barwis can turn him into a world-eating nose tackle with that weight. Those measurables scream Out of Shape and Redshirt to me. For comparison, fellow true freshman Terry Talbott is also a defensive tackle and is currently 6'3", 248 lbs; redshirt as well, but for other reasons.
  • Mike Martin shows up as a defensive tackle. MGoBlog has been posturing that we'll see Martin move outside to a defensive end spot, leaving Will Campbell as a true nose tackle. I still think we see Martin bounced out to defensive end a lot, but this means that we're still likely to see a lot of four-man fronts with Martin shifted over to the tackle position.
  • Craig Roh is listed as a linebacker.
That's about it as far as information that can be gleaned. Let the camp hype train begin.

Fall Camp!

In recent months, Wet Owl Photoshopping has become something of an obsession for me. Fall camp opens today. Huzzah.