Coach T’s Take: Starting XI- Utah

 

We are almost there!! In less than two weeks this will no longer be speculation but straight facts. We all know that no one outside of Jimmy and Timmy have an idea of what the starting offense will look like at Utah next month, but here is my best guess at what the starting eleven will look like. I am going to base these predictions off of what I saw at spring practice in March and my own evaluations of the talent on the roster more so than the murmurs and rumors coming out of the submarine. As an added bonus, I am going to give the two deep depth chart a shot as well. Here goes nothing!

 

QB

  1. Shane Morris- I’ve been saying that Sugar Shane will be the Wolverines starting quarterback since last december. After seeing his performance at spring practice and in the spring game, I became more confident in my prediction. Morris simply has more talent and ability than Rudock, and there has been a largely publicized precedent for this situation under Harbaugh already. RE: Colin Kaepernick starting over Alex Smith. Smith got the job done and won games, but Kaep made plays and took the 49ers to the super bowl. Morris is an exceptional athlete and is a surprising runner. Couple that with his NFL level arm strength, and you have a starting QB.

2. Jake Rudock- Jake will be one of the most experience back ups in the country and will provide invaluable mentoring to Morris throughout the season.

FB

  1. Joe Kerridge- Should be a captain as one of the most veteran players on the team.

2. Sione Houma

 

HB

  1. Wyatt Shallman- Not quite a fullback, not quite a tailback and not quite a tight end. Shallman can do a little bit of everything and is a good enough athlete that it will be hard to keep him off the field. If not here then I see a switch to defense in line for Wyatt

2. Khalid Hill

 

RB

  1. Derrick Green- DG is a monster. While he has some flaws to his game, he has busted his butt coming back from injury and looked pretty good before he got hurt last season. I have faith that he’ll seperate himself from the pack.

2. Every and anyone else- Michigan will have at LEAST two backs with 500+ yards this season, with the potential to be 750+ with two or three other guys earning meaningful carries. De’veon Smith is a stud but is a limited athlete. Ty Isaac is a freak athlete but hasn’t done much since getting to Ann Arbor. Drake Johnson is all heart and one of my favorite players on the team. Karan Higdon is a dark horse and would have to pass all of the aforementioned backs ahead of him on the depth chart to avoid a red shirt.

 

TE

  1. Jake Butt- Enough said here. I believe Butt has All American potential this season and could be the Wolverines leading receiver.

2. Ian Bunting- Bunting’s body has responded wonderfully to U of M’s strength and conditioning program and he now has the body of an NFL tight end. I expect good things from him this season.

 

LT

  1. Mason Cole- This kid is an animal that will end up on a few post season accolade lists this year.

2. Logan Tuley-Tillman

LG

  1. Blake Bars- I thought Bars was the sixth lineman while observing spring practice. I have heard nothing but praise from Drevno thus far and I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes away a starting spot from “Incumbent” Erik Magnuson, who was a jack of all trades and a master of none for the Hoke staff.

2. Dave Dawson

C

  1. Graham Glasgow- As long as he can keep his nose clean, Glasgow will be the anchor of this line from start to finish.

2. Patrick Kugler

RG

  1. Kyle Kalis- Another mainstay on the oline and no surprise here.

2. Erik Magnuson

 

RT

  1. Ben Braden- A Freak athlete, I really don’t see Drevno uprooting Braden from his spot on what will now be the blind side with Morris under center.

2. Juwann Bushell-Beatty

 

X

  1. Drake Harris- IF healthy, Drake will be a breath of fresh air for the Wolverines. Finally a play maker that can do it all. Again, IF healthy.

2. Amara Darboh

 

Z

  1. Brian Cole II- Cole is a stud athlete that I have been watching film on since his sophomore year of high school, growing up less than thirty minutes north of me on I-75. Cole was swimming with the offense in the spring but there is no question that he is physically ready. Cole and Harris could be a special tandem for a long time.

2. Jehu Chesson II

 

Slot

  1. Freddy Canteen- Rumors of Freddy playing corner at practice are hard for me to fathom. I have to stick to what I saw in the spring and pencil Canteen into the slot spot with Norfleet gone.

2. Grant Perry

Get at me on twitter for any clarification or anymore questions. Thanks for the read and as always, GO BLUE!!!

 

@BleedBlueCoachT

 

 

 

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Kyle’s Take: Starting XI- Utah

With the season two weeks away, Cody, Coach T and myself will offer our projections as to who starts to begin the season on both sides of the ball in a series titled Starting XI, look for their takes later this week!

As camp draws on, and the submarine floats submersed, BTN went inside the waters and brought us coverage and player interviews which can be seen on BTN Live.

I mentioned earlier on Twitter that you would have to be crazy if you thought Jim would even show a glimpse of what lies ahead to the BTN crew as media availability to the camp had been zip tight.

All things aside, there has been much debate about who has impressed and who has distasted the flavor of both coaches and fans.  Without further ado, here is what we believe your starters will look like Game 1, in Utah .

QB: Jake Rudock

The Iowa transfer has been viewed as someone who can come in and deliver something we haven’t seen from the QB position in quite some time and that is game management.  He has long thrived with the ability to make the smart decisions and his check down abilities will allow for Drevno’s offense to really keep the ball moving.  Although Rudock gets the start, I would not be surprised to see Shane get a few snaps also, as game play is the true key to evaluating your players.

RB: Deveon Smith

Deveon Smith is my choice as the starter at RB for two reasons. 1) He saw a majority of the run in the spring game scrimmage and also looked the best of all the backs. 2) He has been the most consistent.  Reports have had Smith day in and day out working his tail off and he has avoided injuries as where Ty Isaac, the presumed number two, has been dinged up at times.  Even though Smith should start, I would expect there to be a committee of sorts where all three backs see playing time game 1 and I would anticipate from that, carries will be dispersed much carefully moving forward.

WR: Darboh, Perry, Harris

The WR position may be the most interesting area of need for this team moving forward because reports and prior games have shown there is no true gamebreaker.  I assume Darboh will be your top option simply for the fact he can really go up and get the ball and simply make plays.  Grant Perry was highly talked about by the BTN crew and local media reports have him playing a key role on offense this year.  Perry was an elite playmaker and contributor at Brother Rice last year, and he is the type of receiver who can really move the chains while also showing flashes of big play ability.  Drake Harris is the true wildcard.  He was arguably one of the best wide receiver prospects to come out of Michigan this decade and in high school was one of the most dynamic big play, elite playmakers in the Midwest.  After a nagging hamstring injury, Harris appears to have found himself once again while staying healthy, to the point where some have said he may be the best player Michigan has at the WR spot.  Harris, brings something to the team that nobody else has and that is the total package.  If Drake Harris can stay healthy and prove his worthiness, I feel he could be the star of this offense.

TE: Jake Butt

This one is the easiest spot to pick.  Jake Butt will be featured heavily in this offense and has been a primary target his last two years in Ann Arbor.  With a strong season he could find himself in the conversation of the best TE in America.

OL: Mason Cole, Ben Braden, Graham Glasgow, Kyle Kalis, Erik Magnuson

The OL position is the position at which Michigan has the most depth, thanks to several strong classes in recent years.  The starters are all returning and although Cole is the youngest he may be the best.  Mason Cole appears to be the next great Michigan OL following the footsteps of Lewan and Long.  The other four guys are incredibly solid options with Magnuson being the new piece on the line.  I expect Kyle Kalis to really develop on the OL thanks to Drevno and with improved line play, the players in the backfield, both Rudock and Smith at RB should be able to thrive and have time that hasn’t been there in recent years.

All things aside, Michigan is a team that seems destined for at least 7 wins with 9 more than likely being the ceiling.  The offense returns starters and key areas, and if the QB play can be at least average to slightly above average, I certainly feel they can reach their ceiling as an offense.  As we all know, you will need all positions to be clicking on the offensive side of the ball.

Look for our defensive starter predictions next week! As always Go Blue!

In The Film Room: Grading 2015 Michigan Commit Alex Malzone

Name: Alex Malzone

Class: 2015

Position: Quarterback

Height: 6’1

Weight: 203

Malzone is a 24/7 composite four star, In-state commit from the great Birmingham Brother Rice program. Malzone won 39 straight games as a starter, including back to back state championships. He has been committed to the Wolverines since May of 2014. He had held offers from nine other schools, most of which were from the MAC. Malzone has been the glue of the Wolverines 15′ class since last may, holding steadfast during the firing of Brady Hoke saying he “Gave his word to a school, not to a coach”. I first saw Malzone play as a sophomore, and from his first snap he has impressed. During his senior season he threw for over 2,900 yards with thirty-eight touchdowns to only five interceptions. Malzone is an early enrollee and will room with Saginaw Heritage’s Brian Cole this winter.

 

Style of Passer: Pro

Body: B-

Even though we live in an era where the “small” quarterback can be successful you’d still be more comfortable having your guy be in the 6’3-6’6 range. Not everyone can be Drew Brees or Russell Wilson, so only time will tell if Malzone can be another in the line of recently successful smaller quarterbacks. While Malzone is not exactly lacking size,  The fact of the matter is, he could he taller and larger. You’d like to see him add some lower body muscle and reduce his risk of injury once he gets into the weight room in Ann Arbor this winter.

Arm Strength: B+

Malzone’s arm is slightly above average. He can drive the ball down the field with ease, thanks in part to his good footwork. He can put more than enough zip on the ball to complete the three step passes like slants or quick outs. Something Malzone is especially good at is timing routes like come backs or sidelines whether it’s down the field or just a few yards, he has the arm to get it there. Malzone always had a very talented supporting cast at Brother Rice, one that included Division one receivers Corey Laccanaria (Ball State) and Grant Perry (Northwestern) that at times helped him out when forcing the ball into coverage, but nonetheless he has the arm to get it in there.

Accuracy: A

This is Malzone’s strong suit, as he is a very efficient passer. He has a 66.8% career completion percentage over his three years seeing time under center, with only fourteen interceptions in over 600 career pass attempts. He has great touch on sideline throws as well as the back shoulder. Any actions/roll-outs/sprint-outs are money, as are his play fakes. But what impresses me the most is Malzone’s ability to find the open man and either hit him in stride or put the ball where no one else can get it. His touch is great, weather its a corner or flag route to the sideline or a deep slant down the field. He does have the tendency to force throws, but he had the talent at receiver to help him out in high school. At Michigan, he’ll have the talent at receiver, but the big difference will be the talent he will be going against on defense. Some of the throws he landed at Brother Rice will be going the other way at Michigan.

Mobility/Pocket Presence: B+

While Malzone will never be confused for a dual-threat quarterback, he can definitely move. He will always look to throw the ball first but when the play is completely broken down, Malzone will skirt off and has the ability to make one or two defenders miss. He is great throwing the ball when out of the pocket, weather by design of a play action or a roll out or extending the play. He keeps his eyes downfield and finds the open man with ease. Malzone’s athletic ability will also keep him out of the arms of defenders in the pocket. He is well trained, and will keep his shoulders square and eyes down the field while evading pressure.

Mechanics: B-

While Malzone’s delivery was sufficient in high school, it will need work at the next level. His delivery motion is somewhat long, and while the ball does not come out slow, he leaves  it extended away from his body for defenders to knock away. Malzone throws it like a baseball. To put it simply, his throwing motion needs to be shorter, and more compact. A few months with Michigan’s expected new offensive coordinator Tim Drevno and I expect Malzone will improve in this area by leaps and bounds. One thing Malzone does exceptionally well,  is I have yet to see him make a throw off his back foot, which is a huge no no for a quarterback and you tend to see often with younger QB’s. He steps into his throws with confidence, with square shoulders and great weight transfer. His throwing motion is the only thing bringing his grade down here, otherwise his mechanics are fantastic.

Decision Making/Football IQ: B

This is where Malzone is a little enigmatic. He will more often than not find the open receiver when extending the play out of the pocket, and he often makes the right reads of the defense in the short passing game. Where Malzone fails however is forcing the ball into not only double, but sometimes triple coverage. As I stated earlier he has been helped out his whole career by Division one caliber receivers. The more it worked for Malzone, the more he seemed to force the ball into coverage as his season went on. And while it may not seem like an issue, what with his 66.8 career completion percentage and only 14 career interceptions, a continuation of these decisions will cost him at the next level. It May just be a case of trusting his arm and receivers too much, but only time will tell.

Overall: B

This grade is a little harsh, but there are a few things Malzone will need to work on to be successful for the Wolverines. There is nothing he can do about his small stature, so he will simply have to prove that his height is not an issue at the next level. I do not think Malzone has an NFL type arm, but that does not mean he doesn’t have what it takes to succeed in college. His accuracy is everything you ask for in a quarterback, as his throws are on the money. Yes, he may force throws too often but when he does the ball is usually placed where only the receiver can get it. His mobility and athleticism for a pocket passer is a huge plus if your an offense that will run bootlegs and sprint outs, which all pro style offenses will feature. If the play breaks down and he has no throwing options, he is more than capable to take off and pick up a short first down but probably not much more. With improvements in his throwing motion and sometimes inconsistent decision making, Malzone will flourish into a starting caliber quarterback in Ann Arbor.

@BleedBlueCoachT

Getting to Know: 2016 LB Max Richardson III

As is the same with Coach Ferrigno, Coach Hecklinski has been making his nation wide recruiting trip, and yesterday one of his stops took place in Georgia at Woodward Academy to see 2016 LB prospect, and legacy recruit, Maximillian Richardson III.  For short, and from what Max said, we will stick with Max Richardson III.

HUDL profile and sophomore highlights are found here.

Before anything, it is important to note that his father, Max Richardson Jr. played at Michigan from 1974-1977 so he is indeed a legacy recruit.

Max comes in at 5’11 222lbs while being clocked at a 4.8 40 time, while he also noted that he is working to get the 40 time down.

Max is a smaller body at 5’11 but presents a rather strong frame while playing Middle Linebacker.

Max, among other things mentioned the following..

– Coach Hecklinski stopped by yesterday to extend an offer to camp this summer while also noting he was very interested in Max.

– Max has early intentions to visit Ann Arbor this summer with a group of his teammates.

– Max noted that he is highly intrigued by Michigan because of his father and LOVES Ann Arbor and the school itself.

– Max finished our conversation off by saying that if Michigan were to offer, they would instantly become his favorite.

From everything gathered, it seems as if Max is a fast rising prospect gaining more attention nationally each day.  He is a kid with a strong mind and one who has a high acumen level for football knowledge.  All things aside, Max is a talented prospect with all the room to grow and further groom himself as an elite prospect.  If an offer comes it could very well occur this summer before his junior season.  If Michigan does indeed offer Max, I would not feel as if I was venturing too far in saying that he could immediately commit to Michigan with hopes of following in his dad’s legacy and attending the school he loves.  Once he visits, Max is a name we all should keep our eyes on, especially due to the fact that he is a legacy recruit and a very hard hitting linebacker.

Getting to Know: 2016 LB Darrian Franklin

Coach Dan Ferrigno has recently been on the west coast, and he dropped in on 2016 OLB Darrian Franklin yesterday as part of his west coast swing.

Darrian measures in at 6’2 215 lbs while running a 4.7 in the forty, per himself.  From watching his film you note his dynamic athleticism, especially with the fact that he plays both sides of the ball in high school.

Hailing from Downey HS in Downey, CA, Franklin has established himself early on as a bonafide 4star prospect while being one of the most talented linebackers in the 2016 class.

Here is some of what Darrian had to say..

– On Ferrigno’s stop, he told Darrian that he was very interested in him and that an offer could come very soon, while also mentioning that he would love to have him up to Ann Arbor for camp this summer.

– Darrian says the two things he loves most about Michigan is the tradition that comes with the University and also the atmosphere every Saturday in the fall.

– Darrian also mentioned that he plans on getting up to see Michigan sometime next month.

– Darrian finally noted that if Michigan offers they for sure will be in his top list of schools and that he sees himself being a solid outside linebacker at the next level.

Darrian does not have a timetable early on, but is gaining interest from schools the likes of Michigan, UCLA, and USC.

With his size and speed Darrian is your prototypical OLB of today’s game with the possibility of being a high 4 star prospect by the end of his senior season.

From all it seems, if an offer does come forth from the Wolverines, it will come next month when he makes his visit, and if all goes as planned he will have Michigan as a top destination down the line, although USC and UCLA are hot on him, with USC possibly being his leader.

As is with any out of state prospect a visit is key, and if he can make his way to A2 sometime this summer, anything is possible.

Hello Coach Nussmeier

Welcome Wolverine fans! With all that’s happened the past couple days I thought we would go ahead and recap. First off I would like to say how big of a hire Nussmeier was. Huge get for the Wolverines. All the blogs I have been reading have had one consistent question which is what is going to change the most in the offense. Honestly, there is really only one thing, execution and he is going to run the ball. A lot. Coach Nuss is a proven winner with a phenomenal  track record who has shown he can win pretty much anywhere he goes. From his previous employers, they all say the same thing. He is a perfectionist who’s work ethic is unmatched. What I also believe has been unappreciated is how good of a recruiter he is. He is currently ranked the number one recruiter in the BIG10. Nussmeier was also in contention for the Washington Head Coach position so that should tell you how widely this man is respected. This is nothing but good news for the Wolverines.

Other News

Current Minnesota commit RB Jeff Jones seems to be showing more and more interest and Michigan and trust me the feeling is mutual. Jones was offered by Michigan shortly after his jaw dropping performance at the Under Armour game this month. Jones has an official visit to Ann Arbor scheduled for January 31. In the time I’ve spent watching his film, WOW. Jones has great speed and is a deceptively strong runner who is not afraid to lower his shoulder. Inevitably, I believe Jones lands in Ann Arbor and will be a force to reckon with by the time its all said and done. Stay tuned for more recruiting updates and Go Blue!

Matt Ray

Al Borges out as OC

Just a few minutes ago, news broke that Al Borges will not return in 2014 as the offensive coordinator for the Michigan Wolverines.

In a University of Michigan press release, Brady Hoke said, “I have a great amount of respect for Al as a football coach and, more importantly, as a person.  I appreciate everything he has done for Michigan Football for the past three seasons.  Decisions like these are never easy.”

EXHALE

For many Michigan fans, this is the ultimate dream, something many have hoped for the last 4 months and even before.  

The fact is that yes, it could affect recruiting.  Fortunately, for Michigan, they already have their QB in Wilton Speight, OL Mason Cole, and WR’s Drake Harris and Freddy Canteen on campus.  Michigan should be good for the 2014 class as it stands as with the 2015 class, but now all attention shifts to who the next OC will be?

Dream Scenario: Cam Cameron.  

Dave Brandon likes to make noise and make that big hire.  (SEE: Greg Mattison)

Cam Cameron is a Michigan Man who knows the program well and would fit instantly, and someone who could develop Shane, Speight, and Devin into the ideal pocket passer.  Also he would bring a change in play calling that would not be so predictable.  Something many Michigan fans have glamoured for in recent memory.

One thing is sure, this is something nobody saw coming, especially with the fact that Hoke was on record as saying just a few weeks ago that there would be no coaching staff changes.  Now, Michigan needs to hire an offensive coordinator, and I fully expect the Wolverines to make a splash.

Question is: Who will it be?

Jeff Jones Update: Visit Set

Jeff Jones, newly found Michigan top RB target to round out the 2014 class has set a visit for January 31st to Ann Arbor according to Kyle Goblirsch of 247 Sports.

Jones, a 4* RB out of Minnesota, and current Minnesota absolutely blew up at the Under Armour All American Game, and looked pretty good in the backfield next to QB Wilton Speight.  Also of note is the fact that after the game Speight touched base with Jones and after the offer Speight put on the recruiting hat that had been shown all through the fall in helping to construct the class along with several other commits.  The feeling I get from the commits is that they believe Jones could flip, but they also are willing to admit that at this point anything could happen.

At this point, I feel as if the race for Jones is really down to Minnesota and Michigan.  Originally Michigan had backed off because of academics but Jones was able to get his grades up and now finds himself as the key guy for Michigan in rounding out the 2014 class, along with Malik McDowell.  I see the chances as, at this point, a 50/50 shot.  I believe that if all goes well on the visit, Michigan will find its RB for the 2014 class, and a damn good one at that who can provide a great deal of competition to Derrick Green and Deveon Smith this summer.

Stay optimistic and as always.. GO BLUE!

 

1/3 Recruiting Updates and Notes (Army All-American Game Surprise?)

It has turned out to be a very busy day in the world of Michigan Football. Here is a few notes and things you should keep your eye on.

-Michigan made some noise today when they offered 2014 RB Jeff Jones.  Jones, a current Minnesota commit, impressed a lot of people yesterday in the UA Game and really turned a lot of heads.  At one time, Jones was thought to be down to Florida and Minnesota, but with the recent offer, Jones has made it known that he will indeed be taking a HARD look at Michigan and visiting some time this month.  IMO Jones is a  favorable possibility to flip to the Wolverines, and Wilton Speight has made it known that he is in his ear, as is probably the rest of the guys who were down in St.Pete this past week.  Jones brings a dynamic threat to any backfield, and with a cloudy situation in the Michigan backfield, it is possible that Jones could potentially come in and see a bit of time while competing for snaps with Derrick Green and Deveon Smith among others. See his highlight film here ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTqC5IBICXc ).  If I was a betting man, I would not be surprised to see Jones end up in Ann Arbor, but the visit he takes will be HUGE.  

-Earlier in the afternoon there was news that there could be a big shocker in San Antonio tomorrow, and after speaking with sources, I have confirmed that a player who fans would have never expected may very well end up in Ann Arbor.  Yes, it may be a smoke screen, but at the same time is definitely something to keep an eye on.  After speaking with a few people close to the situation it appears very likely that Michigan may be making an addition, and I will stick by my #BuckleUp tweet from earlier, yes this is a good thing.  Also, this is not about the same player I spoke about earlier in the week of which you can read here.  This addition will come as a surprise to many of you, and at first it shocked me, but is a big time addition and one that could have a positive effect for many reasons.  The player is a 2014 guy and someone who is ranked in the Top 50 by almost every major service.  This would also be a big win in the fact that to many, this would be a major STEAL for the Wolverines from a key rival.

-If tomorrow goes as planned and expected, I would not be surprised to see Michigan take 3 more total in this class including the decision tomorrow.

-DISCLAIMER NOTE: With the commit watch I mean that in fact I do believe an addition will be made.  As is with anything, there could be a sudden change at the last minute but I am almost 100% confident there is a big surprise due shortly with one more to come. 

 

Quick Analysis Series: George Campbell

Michigan has become a powerhouse on the recruiting trail over the course of the last 2 years, and it only continued on Saturday July 27th, 2013 in the form of a commitment from George Campbell. Continue reading “Quick Analysis Series: George Campbell”