Saturday, 29 October 2011
The Gophers (2-6) have looked simply terrible this year, but they played their hearts out today and you have to feel good for them, especially since we already spanked them 58-0...
Friday, 28 October 2011
I know Purdue had a nice win against Illinois last weekend, but I really don't see them as a major threat here. Firstly, the game is at the Big House and secondly Michigan's players should be eager to prove themselves after a pretty poor showing in East Lansing.
Michigan needs to get the running game going early, and I think they'll be able to that against a Purdue front seven that doesn't really have any standout players. In the passing game, Denard will have to watch out for Purdue's CBs, who are pretty good; especially Ricardo Allen. But coming off a bye week, Michigan has had plenty of time to work on their timings etc, so I expect Denard to come out throwing well.
On offense, the Boilermakers like to run the ball, but they aren't really that good at it; nobody on the team has rushed for over 400 yards. I think Michigan's defense should handle them quite comfortably and hold them under 20 points.
Michigan will get off to a good start and eventually pull away in the 2nd half behind a strong defensive performance from Greg Mattison's crew.
Prediction: Michigan 38 ; Purdue 16
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
Shurburtt outlines Cal and USC as the frontrunners, largely due to proximity to home and the fact that their DL coaches are Tosh Lupoi and Ed Orgeron respectively, two of the best recruiters in college football.
Despite a good visit to Notre Dame, the Irish's chances apparently aren't that great, which doesn't bode well for Michigan given our similarities. The odds were never good to begin with, but somehow they've got even worse in a matter of days.
Tuesday, 25 October 2011
- Zach Banner has said that Oklahoma was his top visit so far, and with favorites Washington to still come, as well as USC, this does not bode well for Michigan at all. This might explain why we've offered OL Alex Kozan recently.
- Joshua Garnett will apparently take his official visit for the Nebraska game instead of the OSU one. This is a shame in my view because he won't get to see the Big House really in full swing. Whilst I'm sure the crowd will provide a good atmosphere vs the Huskers, nothing quite compares to the Game.
Monday, 24 October 2011
Location: Madisonville, KY
Ratings: ESPN – 3* (76), Scout – 3*, 247 Sports - 3*
Recruitment: Clark is a bit of a sleeper prospect, as he doesn't have that many offers but clearly has some serious talent. He impressed the UM coaches early on, but not enough to earn a full scholarship for 2012, as Michigan was already in on Allen Gant and Jarrod Wilson at the time. Clark still committed, but the view at the time was that he would jump on a real offer from another school. However Clark's stellar senior year meant the Wolverines couldn't afford for that to happen, and they gave him a 2012 scholarship offer instead of the grayshirt.
Offers: Michigan, Illinois, N.C State, Akron, Ball State, and other MAC schools.
Stats: Currently stands at 6’4 and around 200lbs, with a 40 yard dash time of 4.47 seconds. As a junior he racked up 75 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 8 pass breakups.
ESPN Analysis: Clark is a tall and rangy free safety prospect with a lot of production. Very lean without a lot of bulk, strength and power to his frame right now but we like his upside and room for development as an overall player.
Will definitely play free safety in college because of his good range and awareness in deep coverage. Reads the quarterback well and uses his size to his advantage, going up and grabbing the ball at its highest point.
Needs to improve his man coverage, which is a weakness at the moment. His height makes it difficult for him to make tight, fluid turns in coverage, but he does flash the ability to stay with his man and break quickly on the ball.
Could do with improving his tackling technique in order to become more of a presence in defending the run. Overall a good prospect who has the natural instincts required, just needs some coaching up on technique.
Improvements: Man coverage is highlighted by ESPN, as was tackling ability.
Film Highlights: None available on youtube, I believe it got taken down.
Final Thoughts: Clark seemingly has great size and speed, with good instincts. These are promising tools for any young free safety. Clearly the coaching staff like this guy a lot, firstly to offer him a grayshirt, and secondly to upgrade the offer just so they don't lose out on him. And given the improvement of our defense this year, I trust Hoke and Mattison's judgment 100%!!!
A redshirt year is likely, and in the years after he'll probably be competing with his classmate Jarrod Wilson for playing time.
As for the rest of the class, this certainly shakes things up a bit. Would UM dare take 6 defensive backs if Yuri Wright came calling? And if they do, would one of them leave due to the level of competition? Will they forgo taking a 6th OL now that Zach Banner is looking like a longshot again? Or will they only take one WR?
In regards to scholarship numbers, this does not push up the figure of 26. If you recall, Michigan started the 2012 recruiting class with very few available scholarships, so this transfer, like Christian, Barnett, Stokes etc, just helps us get to 26.
I'll do a full commitment post on this later today, but for now just know that Clark is a 6'4 200lb Safety who loves to hit!
The question now, is how does Michigan allocate the final three spaces in the class? WRs are still badly needed, so they'll probably still try for two there, and then I guess they'll take whoever commits out of a top OL and Yuri Wright?
Sunday, 23 October 2011
Anyway, another upset that might slide under the radar is USC beating Notre Dame in South Bend. The Irish have looked pretty good since losing to UM back in September, and USC hasn't exactly been wowing people. Notre Dame had a very strong group of recruits at the game last night, so it's probably a good thing that they lost.
This affects Michigan because; Jordan Payton, who is set to decide sometime between now and Tuesday, was meant to be at the game, so having the Irish lose could just seal things for Michigan. I didn't watch the game, but one can only assume the atmosphere was deflated; unlike the Big House when Payton visited there.
So after a long break, we are back on commitment watch!
Monday, 17 October 2011
Tweeted this earlier whilst I was out, here's a more detailed look:
If Michigan does lose out on Zach Banner, they'll still have a chance to land a major west coast offensive tackle now that Arik Armstead is considering the Wolverines! Armstead is the #1 player in the nation according to scout.com and 247sports, but he's been a USC commit for a long time, so he wasn't even on the radar.
He decommitted over the weekend, and it looks like these lucky schools will be in with a shout; Michigan, Cal, Notre Dame, Alabama, and probably USC still. With five schools seemingly still in the race, all of them should be guaranteed an official visit. Apparently he's already set up visits to Notre Dame and Alabama in the coming weeks.
Ideally, Michigan needs to get him on campus for the Ohio State game, which is the one weekend left in the recruiting calender that could really blow him away. If Michigan really wants to gain an advantage, they could tell him he'll play defense in Ann Arbor, because Armstead has said from Day 1 that he wants to play D-Line.
Whatever happens, it's definitely something to look out for, and it's really encouraging to see the top prospects in the nation starting to take a second look at Michigan.
Sunday, 16 October 2011
A loss is a loss, let's just move on and try not to dwell on it.
Michigan now has a bye week before what should be an easy rebound game against Purdue. That would send us to 7-1 (3-1), and given that we're going through a coaching change, this is pretty darn good.
Michigan then has two fairly tough road games to contend with, @Iowa and @Illinois. Personally I'd take a split here, but it's not unreasonable to say that Michigan could win both and get to 9-1.
All that remains after that is Nebraska and Ohio State at home, which should both be interesting games. Michigan struggled against the option attack of Northwestern, so I think Nebraska could give us some problems, but to be honest, I think at Michigan Stadium the Wolverines can beat anyone in the Big Ten, with Wisconsin perhaps being the only exception.
So of those last four games, I think Michigan should probably win three of them, minimum two; so we're basically going to be 9-3 or 10-2, not bad eh?
Sidenote: Please answer the new poll on the right! I know it's nothing to do with Michigan football, but I'm buying the phone tomorrow, so opinions are needed fast!
Friday, 14 October 2011
We're half way through the season, so we have a pretty good idea of just how much progress some teams have made (Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin) and how far back others have gone (Ohio State, Minnesota, Indiana). This obviously has an effect on recruiting, and from Michigan's perspective, one guy in particular. Brionte Dunn.
I know he visited Penn State, but in reality it's a UM-OSU battle for the four star running back. The starts made by both these teams could be more different, as Michigan has clearly improved to become a more balanced football team, whereas Ohio State has serious offensive concerns; which have been alarming Dunn.
Ohio State are a very talented team, yet they are 3-3 overall and 0-2 in the Big Ten, all but ending their chances of getting to Indianapolis. Plus, if you look at their schedule, they are probably only going to be favored in 2, maybe three games. So if we assume OSU gets to 6-6, what happens to Luke Fickell? He'll be fired.
Going back to Michigan, Dunn can see a team clearly improving, a team that has a shot at the Big Ten title, and a team with no impending NCAA hearings. Ohh, and his cousin is a 2013 commit; who doesn't want to play with family? :D
For these reasons, I'm fairly confident at the moment that Dunn will end up in Ann Arbor, firstly for an official visit, and then for the long run.
Looking at the rest of the projected class, I'm leaving it mostly the same; although it is getting harder to predict. Here's a few quick notes on the other three spaces.
- Zach Banner will decide his college destination after his last official visit, which will be in around a month's time. However, he won't announce his decision until after Christmas. If he were deciding today, I'd be pretty confident, but he has at least 3 visits scheduled over the next 30 days, so we'll just have to wait and see. This space will go to an OL, because Michigan still has a chance with Josh Garnett (visiting for OSU game), and UM recently offered OG Alex Kozan.
- WR Spot 1: This should go to Jordan Payton unless Notre Dame pulls something special out the bag for his visit to them next weekend. Pretty simple.
- WR Spot 2: I've still got Amara Darboh in the projected class, because he has shown a lot of interest and he should visit Michigan for the Ohio State game, which is obviously a great weekend to visit, especially if he witnesses a UM victory. However! WR Darius Powe has just named Michigan in his top five with a bunch of really weak PAC12 schools, and he'll also take an official to Michigan. He's from California, so probably knows Hoke quite well, this one could be interesting.
Wildcard Spot: I think the combination above (RB, OL, WR, WR) is what Michigan would like to close out the class with, but if a guy of exceptional talent wants in, they will probably have to adjust. The most likely candidate for that is Yuri Wright, the nation's #3 CB. He should take an official to Michigan late on in the season, hopefully for the OSU game which will give Michigan a chance at least.
Thursday, 13 October 2011
It's unlikely that there will be any major recruiting news today, so I thought I'd write the game preview early this week. Before the season started, I predicted a loss here for Michigan, commenting:
"MSU, as much as it pains me to say it, will have a good team here lead by a senior QB who has the potential to be drafted. Plus it's in East Lansing. Hoke will have the team pumped up, but I think UM will lose this in a close one."
I've gone back and forth on this pick all week, in fact, I've already written this post with a prediction of an MSU win, that's how undecided I am. But now, I've just got the feeling that UM will win this ball game, probably in a similar fashion to the NW game, down at halftime before a dominant 2nd half. Michigan will be immensely pumped up for this game, I can only imagine how much it means to the seniors who haven't beaten the Spartans before; so look for those guys to have big games.
The key for this game, as Kirk would say, is all about the Michigan offense. Can the RBs get decent enough yardage to take some of the pressure off Denard? Can the offensive line hold it's ground against a very good DL with an NFL 1st round pick on it?
In the end I think the OL will hold strong and give Denard the time he needs to make the easy throws, which will be vital in the game. Also, I think Denard is due a 50+ yard TD run where no-one touches him, it seems like it's been a while.
On defense, Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen should have a lot of success against a suspect MSU OL. Michigan needs to stop the run game early, and try to get MSU in 3rd and 7+ type situations; i.e force Cousins to make a tough throw. Cousins is a pretty good passer, but is prone to making mistakes. Look for UM to get a couple INTs.
One thing I am worried about is B.J Cunningham vs our cornerbacks. Is it me, or does J.T Floyd have real problems locating the ball in the air on fly routes; hence the frequent pass interference calls.
Overall it should be a tight game throughout, probably MSU leading 14-7 at halftime, before a strong 2nd half UM performance makes it....
Prediction: Michigan 24; Michigan State 17
Feel free to leave your own prediction in the comments section below. Closest to the correct score will win.....hmm.....the respect and admiration of everyone who reads the blog + a free beer whenever I make the 6000km trip to Ann Arbor!
Note: you might have to wait 1-2 years for the beer.
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Name: Dymonte Thomas
Location: Alliance, OH
Ratings: ESPN – 4* (40), Scout – 4*, 247 Sports - 4*
Notes: With early offers, you expect the recruit to be a strong player. Thomas will be at least a four star guy on most sites.
Recruitment: Dymonte Thomas is actually the cousin of current Michigan target, Brionte Dunn; which might of been how he first got interested in the Maize and Blue. Thomas has visited Michigan twice this year, with the first time being at the BHBBQ over the summer, where he proclaimed UM to be his leader shortly after. His second visit was of course to the epic UM-ND game where he no doubt got caught up in the moment and committed. Not to say that he'll reconsider his commitment at any time, just saying it's easy to see why he committed then.
Offers: Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, Iowa, UCLA, Tennessee, Notre Dame and others - not bad for an early commit.
Stats: Currently weighs around 180lbs at 6’0. As a sophomore he rushed for 1641 yards with 17 TDs as well as 132 tackles and two interceptions on defense. He runs a 4.57 forty yard dash.
ESPN Analysis: None available.
Scout.com Analysis: None available.
Since the recruiting services don’t have evaluations on 2013 prospects yet, here’s a long quote from his high school coach:
"The thing about Dymonte is that he has two more seasons of high school left," Marlington head coach Ed Miley told Scout.com. "If he keeps on going the way he has so far, he could end up as both the leading rusher and tackler in Stark County history. Dymonte does great in the classroom and is very popular with his teammates. I see him as a safety at the next level, but he could do about anything really. He is a very physical player and a leader on this team."
Improvements: Hard to say this early on; although everyone would love to see him trim down that forty time to 4.5 flat.
Film Highlights: Link here.
Final Thoughts: Thomas will be listed as an 'athlete' on a lot of sites, but the general perception is that he'll play safety in college. He prefers defense slightly, but to be honest it doesn't matter where he plays because Ohio recruiting analyst Duane Long has already named him as the top safety and running back in Ohio for 2013. For the record, Long really doesn't understand why OSU hasn't offered him.
When he gets on campus, playing time will be initially tough to come by, as Michigan will have at least one solid starter in Thomas Gordon (Snr). Plus, by 2013 you would hope that at least one of MRob, Carvin Johnson or Josh Furman would have stepped up to replace everyone's favorite walk-on, Jordan Kovacs! Then we also have the 2012 commits of Allen Gant and Jarrod Wilson. However, Blake Countess has proved that if you work hard, it's not impossible to crack the two deep of that secondary!
Thomas' commitment gives Michigan a great start to the 2013 class, with two virtually guaranteed four star prospects. It's hard to get a grasp on the scholarship numbers right now, so we can't really say whether Michigan will take another safety in this class.
Finally, I've got to talk about Brionte Dunn. This commitment could have a huge impact on Dunn's eventual decision; as he and Dymonte are pretty close and often talk about playing together at the next level. Thomas will be recruiting him to Michigan at any chance he gets; as will a host of current UM commits based in Ohio. (Kalis, Wormley, Strobel etc etc)
Michigan has offered 2013 WR Laquon Treadwell from Crete-Monee (Illinois). You may remember him from earlier this year when he visited Ann Arbor with his current teammate Anthony Standifer, a 2012 UM commit.
That visit was for the UM-ND game, and Treadwell naturally came away very impressed with Michigan, so much so that'll he'll be back for at least one more home game this season, which could give UM a chance to seal another early commitment.
Given all this, and the fact that this is his first offer; it certainly looks like Michigan is the clear leader right now.
Sunday, 9 October 2011
Yesterday was a real mixed bag in terms of performance for Michigan; on both sides of the ball. Still, a win is a win and it sets up a massive game against MSU next week, with the winners taking control of the Legends division.
On offense, Michigan couldn't get their running backs into the game, and Northwestern really keyed in on Denard's running in order to force him to pass. This worked for them as Denard went on to throw a few terrible balls that were picked off and returned for good yardage. Denard still made some nice throws in the first half, but in the second half things really seemed to flow.
In the 2nd half UM often found themselves in 2nd and medium situations, and this allowed Borges great variety in his play calling. The screen passes seemed pretty effective today, and have done all year come to think of it. If I have one complaint about Borges in the game, it's that we didn't see a real read option play for Denard, even though the team has had success with it this year.
On defense, UM looked shaky in the first half, especially against the triple option run by Colter. NW did a really good job of getting their speed players in 1 on 1 situations out in space, where they made Michigan's tackling look below average. Pass coverage seemed pretty good overall, there weren't any blown coverages; but Persa was throwing the ball well which is how they amassed so many yards.
In the second half UM did a much better job of getting to the football, and even got some pressure on Dan Persa with a couple of sacks - (was the Kovacs blitz counted as a sack?). The interception was questionable to say the least, but at least we can say UM made the most of the opportunities given to them.
The MSU game will be a tough one to call, because they also have a good passer, and a much better defense than NW, but if Michigan can play to their potential for four (or even just three) quarters, they could easily come out of East Lansing 7-0.
Friday, 7 October 2011
I think every UM fan is predicting a win here, but I'm pretty undecided, even as I right this. Here's what I put in my pre season review:
"After 5 home games to start, the Wolverines hit the road and are given their first loss in my book. Dan Persa is a very good dual threat QB, and if he's as good as last year, he could rip through Michigan's D and rack up some serious points."
Oh how things have changed. Michigan now has a respectable defense, and Dan Persa probably isn't 100% healthy! Plus, Northwestern's top RB is out for the year, which means Michigan can really focus in on Persa. Even if he gets off to a hot start, we know that our defensive coordinator is actually capable of making the right adjustments to slow him down!
On offense, if Denard gets into a rhythm like last week, expect UM to put up a lot of points on a suspect defense. UM showed last week that they have a few tricks up their sleeve, and I don't think NW has the athletes/playmakers needed to stop Denard and co consistently. I think Fitz Toussiant could have another big game.
As for the whole, 'it's our first road game thing', where better to start than Evanston, where the fans aren't exactly the rowdiest.
The only way this game gets close is if Persa plays out of his skin, and I just don't think he will against Greg Mattison's D.
Prediction: Michigan 38; Northwestern 17.
Per this link.
If you can't be bothered to click, here's the essentials:
- Payton will announce in approximately two weeks time, after he visits Notre Dame. But remember, he was considering canceling this visit, so we'll just have to wait and see on that.
- The finalists are UM, Cal, ND and ASU; but right now Michigan is the leader, and really ND is the only school that has a chance to change that.
- So barring an outrageous official visit in South Bend, Payton should be headed to Ann Arbor in 2012!
- Also of note, apparently he updated his education on facebook to University of Michigan. It was quickly taken down, so maybe he (or one of his friends) was just mucking around.
Just a couple quick hitters to start the day off:
- Firstly, congratulations to 2013 QB commit Shane Morris, who has already been invited to take part in the 2013 Under Armor All American Game. Michigan doesn't usually have many representatives in this game (note we have many in the Army game this year!), so it's great to have one of the key commits in the class down in Florida. The UA game attracts a lot of the nation's top WRs, so it could be a great chance for Shane to get his recruiting hat on; just like Devin Gardner did with Demar Dorsey a couple years back.
- Also in 2013 news, in state RB/DL Wyatt Shallman has received an offer from Michigan State to go along with his Michigan offer. Although to be honest, I think this will probably come down to Michigan and Notre Dame.
Thursday, 6 October 2011
Three star instate DT Dan O'Brien announced for Tennessee today, over Michigan, MSU and Florida. I guess I shouldn't really say 'over' Michigan, because the common view is that Michigan pulled out of his recruitment sometime in the last month; apparently already satisfied with their DL haul.
This would help to explain why he committed to Tennessee before his official visit there. He has already visited the Vols unofficially, in fact they probably were his leader for most of the year before a summer surge from Michigan. Anyway, Tennessee gets a good one, and Michigan has to trust the coaches. (Not hard to do!)
Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Previous Posts in the Series: Sammy Watkins
Name: DeAnthony Arnett
Recruitment: Arnett was one of the top, if not the top player in the state of Michigan last year; and UM always expects to land this kind of talent. Arnett was pretty on and off with Michigan, at one point cutting them from his list, and then surprising everyone by turning up to the Illinois game; briefly restoring our hope. Unfortunately for UM, it wasn't meant to be and DeAnthony ended up at Tennessee.
Tennessee: At the Volunteers, Arnett has little chance of starting a game right now with Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers, but he's working hard and has earned some time on the field already. In fact, he's already caught two touchdown passes, and is 4th on the team in terms of receptions (11). Some questioned how well his game would translate to the college game, but things seem to be going pretty well for Arnett. If he continues at this rate, he'll have himself a very solid freshman year.
What could have been: Well he hasn't quite had an impact like Sammy Watkins has, but Arnett is doing well at Tennessee. Rogers and Hunter are two very good WRs, so it's understandable why he's not getting too much of the ball. If Arnett were at Michigan, I think he'd be right up there on the depth chart, and would probably see a lot more time on the field. UM badly needs weapons in the passing game, and Arnett would have been a nice addition.
A few bits of interesting news from around the recruiting world:
- Stefon Diggs has narrowed his list of schools down to just eleven! Michigan is one of them, but don't get excited unless he actually steps foot on campus, and considering there hasn't been much talk of that recently, UM's chances here are still very low.
- Zach Banner will visit USC, Notre Dame and the in state Washington Huskies before making his decision, which will probably come after Christmas. Michigan is the assumed leader right now after such a great visit, but whether they can maintain that lead through all those visits is questionable.
- Dan O'Brien is apparently announcing his college decision tomorrow, and Michigan is not in the running. It appears the staff are happy with the current DL class, and won't make another addition there unless it's a stud. I'd guess it'll be Tennessee for O'Brien, or MSU if he wants to stay close to home.
Sunday, 2 October 2011
After canceling his Oklahoma visit last weekend, there are rumors going around that four star WR Jordan Payton is now thinking about canceling his trip to Notre Dame as well. This would be great news for Michigan, who are already the favorite to land Payton's services.
California was in the mix a while back, so maybe they still have a chance, and he's mentioned a possible official visit to Penn State before. But right now, things are looking really good for Michigan, and given that WR is a huge position of need, Payton's potential commitment would be one of the biggest in this class.
Saturday, 1 October 2011
Michigan absolutely destroyed Minnesota today in what has to be the most dominant performance I've ever seen from the Wolverines. I know Minnesota isn't a good football team, but it was still an extremely impressive effort from offense and defense. Here's a few things that caught my eye.
- The run defense from Michigan was excellent; I can only remember one long run from Minnesota and that was towards the end vs our 2nd string D.
- Blake Countess continues to impress in coverage, and he even forced a fumble. He's not a big guy, but I thought he made some nice tackles too.
- Denard found some rhythm in the passing game and just looked really good throughout.
- The UM running backs looked explosive, especially Fitz. Credit to the OL for creating those running lanes.
- One bad note, kickoff coverage wasn't that great. It was saved by Minnesota giving away a penalty pretty much every time!
- First shutout since 07' !!!!!