March 10, 2014 by Zach Travis
Filed under Uncategorized
The Wolverines cruise to a big lead in the Big Ten race and subsequently nab a top ten ranking going into the Big Ten tournament.
AP Top 25 Poll
|1||Florida Gators (50)||29-2||1610||1|
|2||Wichita St. Shockers (15)||34-0||1574||2|
|7||Duke Blue Devils||24-7||1185||4|
|8||San Diego St. Aztecs||27-3||1143||10|
|15||North Carolina Tar Heels||23-8||709||14|
|16||Iowa St. Cyclones||23-7||572||16|
|18||Saint Louis Billikens||26-5||433||17|
|20||New Mexico Lobos||24-6||344||21|
|22||Michigan St. Spartans||23-8||318||22|
|23||Va. Commonwealth Rams||24-7||205||27|
|24||Ohio St. Buckeyes||23-8||165||33|
Michigan is tops in the Big Ten and now tops in the polls as the Wolverine's two-win week coincided with a Wisconsin loss, helping Michigan take the reins as the top team in the conference.
Wisconsin is still hanging around in the top-15 after losing to a pretty good Nebraska team, and the next highest ranked Big Ten team is Michigan State at 22. Ohio State is also hanging in at the back end of the poll at 24.
March 10, 2014 by Zach Travis
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Will this be the year that Michigan is finally able to generate a substantial pass rush? The progress some young defensive linemen make this spring could signal improvement to come.
The offensive side of the ball isn't the only one seeing a big change in scheme and coaching for Michigan. The Wolverine defense will be coached by the same staff, but each coach's position focus has changed, and Michigan will also be shifting to a bigger reliance on over fronts rather than the 4-3 under which has been the defense's base set.
Michigan faced a number of different spread teams a year ago and issues with the defense were continually exposed. The hope among the coaching staff seems to be that these changes should make Michigan's defense more versatile and able to stack up against the variety of different spread looks that will be presented over the course of the coming seasons, while still providing a solid front against pro-style offenses.
The nuts and bolts of this shift on the defensive line are based on shifting the strength of the line toward the strong (read: tight end) side of the offense rather than away from it as the 4-3 under did. The old under front moved the weakside DT over the backside guard while shifting the strong side DT into a nose tackle role. Meanwhile, the strongside defensive end became almost a DT himself, lined up over the strongside offensive tackle and bracketed by the Sam linebacker on the edge of the line.
The over front moves the Sam linebacker back off the line, shifts the strongside end outside the tight end and moves the DTs over so that one is in a 3-tech position to the strongside (over the guard) and the other is shaded to the weakside over the center. The formation looks more like what Michigan State has run in recent years up front, and could give Michigan greater flexibility up front.
Does Michigan have the personnel for this shift?
There are differences in what an over and under front asks a defensive lineman to do. One of the biggest changes is at the strongside defensive end spot. An under front requires a bigger, stronger end capable of being folded inside over the tackle. The SDE in the under front functions almost like a defensive tackle. Meanwhile, the weakside defensive end is more a true pass rush threat off the edge.
Shifting to the over front changes this balance. Now, the strongside and weakside ends are much more similar in responsibility. This move should greatly benefit Brennen Beyer, who shifted to the SDE role last year despite being smaller than ideal for the position in an under defense.
Michigan's issue now could be a lack of true outside rushers. The Wolverines invested recruiting efforts into bringing in a number of DE/DT tweeners like Matt Godin and Chris Wormley — players who were big enough to hold up inside, but might be too big to handle contain responsibilities on the end of the line. Michigan has, in essence, doubled its need for what in the past was WDE types. It already has Beyer, Taco Charlton, Frank Clark, and Mario Ojemudia as players with that type of profile, but will need to find more players capable of handling the new duties outside.
Meanwhile, Michigan is replacing Quinton Washington and Jibreel Black on the interior. Last year Michigan didn't have great depth at tackle and subsequently was pushed around in the run game against certain teams (cough, Ohio State, cough). This spring is about bringing these young tackles along in hopes that Michigan can have the kind of established depth it wants at the position this fall.
Who Do We Know
The aforementioned Beyer was a pleasant surprise last year filling in for Jake Ryan at the Sam position, and when Ryan bounced back Beyer wouldn't be moved out of the lineup that easy. The coaches obviously trust him and he flashed as much of a knack for pass rushing as anyone else on the roster last year ago (which is not much). Michigan also has the benefit of bringing back Frank Clark. Clark never made the leap that some expected, but he provided a solid year of play on the outside that got better as the year went on.
Inside, Michigan has to wait to get back Ondre Pipkins, who is still recovering from an ACL injury suffered during the season. While he won't be available, eyes will be on Willie Henry, the soon to be RS So. that flashed a lot of potential last year.
The Next Big Thing
On the outside, Michigan will be looking for big things from Taco Charlton. The sophomore has been on campus for over a year now and has the size and athleticism to make a difference either inside or out. He will mostly be used as a DE, but could shift inside on passing downs as he did last year at times.
Further inside, Michigan will look to both Henry Poggi and Maurice Hurst Jr. to provide depth along the line. Both players got rave reviews in the bowl practices and bring solid size and skills to a line needing depth. Poggi has been getting some time at SDE while Hurst should start as more of a tackle.
Other Names To Watch
Matt Godin - Continually praised by the coaches, he played early last year but lost time. Is big enough to play DT, but does he have the athleticism to play on the end?
Tom Strobel - Looked to be working into the rotation last fall but was relegated to the bench by the time games started. The change in focus at SDE should help him find a role.
Chris Wormley - Is he finally just a DT?
What Does It Mean
Michigan should be solid along the front line once again, but an organic four man pass rush is still missing. By changing the focus of the SDE Michigan is attempting to set its line up to better rush the passer. It can work if Michigan can find enough of the right players to play on the outside.
Meanwhile, Michigan needs to find more capable tackles for the interior after losing two from last year's roster and being unsure of the status of Pipkins. With a shift in the linebacking corp behind them, DTs being able to execute up front will make the learning curve for those linebackers easier.
Michigan's biggest defensive issue a year ago was a lack of pressure with four rushers. The shift to an over front could be a big help to this as long as Michigan has the right players.
March 10, 2014 by Peter Putzel
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A brief look back at the week that was.
So, how's everyone doing?
Minnesota at Ohio State
The Gophers traveled to Columbus this weekend and beat the Buckeyes 5-1 on Friday night. With the win, Minnesota clinched a first round bye in the inaugural Big Ten Tournament. Justin Kloos and Kyle Rau did the only scoring in the first period on Friday to put the Gophers up 2-0, but it was the second period where the Gophers really took off. Minnesota outscored the Buckeyes 3-1 on scores by Taylor Cammarata, Connor Reilly, and Vinni Lettieri. The lone Ohio State score came by way of Tanner Fritz's 6th goal of the season.
Ohio State fell behind quickly on Saturday after Minnesota scored at the 2:32 mark of the first period on a Kyle Rau goal, and the score would remain 1-0 until 2:31 into the third period. Ohio State's Ryan Dzingel tallied his 18th score of the season to even things up, but it was a mere 24 seconds later that the Gophers' Gabe Guertler put Minnesota back in front. Nick Schilkey brought the Buckeyes even yet again, sending the game to an extra session where he also scored the only goal. Minnesota's Adam Wilcox put forth quite an effort in a 41-save game. He's now an impressive 22-4-6 on the season.
Next for Minnesota: at Michigan 3/14 and 3/15. The games can be seen at 6:30 ET and 7:00 ET on ESPNews and BTN respectively.
Next for Ohio State: at Penn State 3/14 and 3/15.
Wisconsin at Penn State
The Badgers are proving themselves to be a dangerous team here at the end of the regular season and have clinched the 2-seed in the conference tournament. Friday night saw Nic Kerdiles and Mark Zengerle each tally four points (1 goal and three assists for each) in a 4-2 win that saw Penn State rally for two goals in the third period. Joel Rumpel, once again, is also proving to be one of the best netminders in the country. He had 24 saves on the night, and held the Nittany Lions scoreless through 52 minutes of play. Casey Bailey and Taylor Holmstrom put the two PSU goals on the board, but Rumpel was just too good. Some credit should also go to Lions goalie PJ Musico who stopped 30 shots.
Saturday could have been a huge win for the Lions, as Kenny Brooks sent the game into OT with just 2:44 to go in regulation. Penn State played the Badgers tough through most of the extra session, but gave up the game winner to Wisconsin's Mark Zengerle with just 20 seconds to go. It's quite possible that Penn State is the best worst team in the country right now. With what they've been able to do against Michigan (sigh) and what they were almost able to do against the Badgers, don't be surprised if this team is even more competitive next year.
Next for Wisconsin: at Michigan State. Saturday's game will be on Fox Sports Wisconsin.
Next for Penn State: Ohio State.
Michigan vs Michigan State
This was a home-and-home series between the Spartans and Wolverines, with Michigan doing what they do best...playing well for one game and then like crap the next. After completely destroying the Spartans 7-1 on Friday, Michigan jumped out to a 3-1 lead before surrendering 3 unanswered goals in the 4-3 defeat at Munn Ice Arena. You can check out my recap of this series here.
Michigan will play Minnesota in what is sure to be an exciting rematch of the Valentine's weekend series that saw Andrew Sinelli and Michael Downing receive suspensions for separate hits against the Gophers.
March 9, 2014 by Zach Travis
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Michigan has been sitting on the top seed for a while now, but the rest of the bracket has fallen into place and Michigan has a good chance to advance to the final.
Thoughts, in no particular order:
- Michigan will face one of its last two opponents on Friday, and given how the last two games of the season went, ending up with another game against the Illini might be preferrable — although Michigan probably can't match its performance from behind the arc a second time around.
- Michigan is on the opposite side of the bracket of the teams that I think could pose the biggest challenge. Despite its recent struggles, Iowa still scares me, and Wisconsin is a potentially bad matchup.
- For those of you that like set schedules, Michigan will be the first game on every day it plays, making it a certainty that you won't have to wait around for the start of a UM game while another game finishes up.
March 9, 2014 by Peter Putzel
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Michigan split their Wednesday and Saturday games in the Carolinas.
High Point 9 - Michigan 7
In front of a whopping 351 people, Michigan allowed a 5-goal fourth quarter against the High Point Panthers (5-2) and lost a close one 9-7.
Ian King had his fifth multiple-goal game in six contests this year, scoring a hat-trick in the loss. He ended the game with 14 points on 13 goals to start his career at Michigan, and a SOG% of .558. King tallied the first two scores of the game for Michigan, but the Wolverines found themselves down by a score of 3-1 after one quarter.
|Shots||Saves||Face Off||Extra-Man Chances
Michigan did the only scoring in the second quarter, off of unassisted goals by King and Andrew Portnoy, which left the game tied at three going into halftime.
Kyle Jackson and Thomas Paras came out and continued the scoring for Michigan, putting the Wolverines up 5-3 with 8:02 to go in the 3rd quarter. High Point would score the next three to regain the lead at 6-5. After Peter Kraus and Ian King put Michigan back in front 7-6, the Panthers would score the final three goals of the game to take the 9-7 win and drop Michigan to 2-4 on the season.
Brad Lott, who had been solid at the FO position prior to facing High Point, finished 4-15 on the day. Losing the face-off battle will probably lose the game for you, and if you don't believe me, check out the "Must Reads" box and read what a current college coach says.
Michigan 11 - Furman 9
The Wolverines found themselves down 2-0 early in the game, but scores by Ian King and Mack Gembis just 18 seconds apart evened the match at 2 goals.
Thomas Paras would add a third consecutive goal for Michigan to take the lead to finish out the first quarter, but Furman's Hil Blaze found the back of the net just 7 seconds into the second quarter to even things up once again. This was the first of seven goals traded between the teams leading to the 6-6 halftime score. During that time, Mike Hernandez, Dan Kinek, and Thomas Paras scored for Michigan.
Paras added his third goal of the game with just under three minutes gone in the fourth quarter, and Peter Kraus's fifth score of the season gave Michigan their largest lead of the game at 11-7.
|Shots||Saves||Face-Offs||Extra-Man Chances||Ground Balls|
Although Furman would tally the final two goals of the game, the Wolverines would outscore the Paladins 5-3 in the second half to move to 3-4 on the year. For the second game in a row, though, Michigan's performance at the X was suspect, going only 10-23 between Brad Lott and Will Biagi.
Chris Walker was the key defender for Michigan on the day, accounting for three caused turnovers and scooping up five ground balls.
Michigan will need to figure out a few things before taking on the Bellarmine Knights (4-1) at 1:00 ET on March 15 in an ECAC match-up. The Wolverines played their best game ever in a loss to Cornell last week--a Cornell team that just beat the #2-ranked Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday--but Michigan should have been able to take care of High Point, and should have won by a wider margin against the first-year Furman program that is now winless. The Paladins also hadn't been any closer than a six-goal margin heading into the Michigan game. The offense is there for Michigan, but if you can't stop the other guy from scoring...well, you know how that works out.
Robbie Zonino is performing admirably between the pipes and has allowed 86 goals on 261 shots faced. But, the Michigan long-poles are going to have to step up their game if this team is going to continue winning this year.
March 8, 2014 by Fouad Egbaria
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Michigan finished its regular season at home today against the Indiana Hoosiers, the last hurrah for Jordan Morgan in the Crisler Center.
Not only did Jordan Morgan play, he pitched in what had to be the most productive half of his career in the opening 20 minutes, scoring eight points and reeling in six boards--could you expect anything else from him on Senior Night?
Unfortunately for the Wolverines, the defense couldn't keep Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey (who ended his season with a nice run of productivity) in check. The Hoosiers dropped a whopping 42 points on the already-Big-Ten-champion Wolverines. When you shoot 70 percent from inside the arc as a team, that'll happen.
As for Michigan, they reeled in 41 percent of their misses in the first half, partially making up for a 27.3 percent mark from three.
If Michigan could get its outside shot to fall while locking down at least one of the Sheehey-Ferrell duo in the second half, a win seemed likely, even a defensive half as ghastly as that one was.
But, Michigan took control early on in the second half, tying the game at 48 before the first media timeout and overwhelming Indiana with offense from all over the floor. Meanwhile, on the other end, Indiana traveled on consecutive possessions (the second forced by the always dependable Morgan's show on help defense). As bad as the first half way, at least Michigan's defense seemed to be tightening up a bit and feeding off of both its own offensive success (buckets=the best transition killer there is) and Indiana's miscues. Indiana committed just one turnover in the first 15 minutes of the game, but five in the next 10.
Glenn Robinson III buried a jumper just under the 16:00 mark, giving the Wolverines their first lead since it was 9-7. Nik Stauskas then sank three free throws after being fouled shooting a trey and Michigan drew a charge after throwing the 1-3-1 at the Hoosiers.
Robinson converted a layup and the Hoosiers missed a couple of bunnies in the paint; with Michigan's lead up to five, the Wolverines seemed poised to start to run away with the game.
Out of the second media timeout, a pair of Jon Horford free throws and a slick Stauskas dish to a wide open Morgan in the paint for a dunk upped the lead to six with 11:33 left to play. He notched a double-double with a tough offensive rebound shortly thereafter; needless to say, it was a fitting sendoff for the senior.
IU rallied with five unanswered points but, guess who, Morgan finished an and-1 opportunity at the rim, continuing his outstanding Senior Night performance. The senior had 15 points (tied for a season high) and nine rebounds with over eight minutes to play.
Michigan pushed the lead to 11, threatening to blow the doors off the Hooisers down the stretch. But, once again, IU punched back with a 9-0 run, including a Troy Williams dunk and another Ferrell snipe from downtown.
The Wolverines were on cruise control for a long time; now they had to get things back into gear for final two and a half minutes.
IU kept pushing, eventually tying it after a Williams put-back slam and another Robinson bucket in transition. Michigan needed an answer.
On the next set, they got it. Stauskas found an open Robinson in the corner, who calmly sank a clutch triple. IU responded with two passes and a Stanford Robinson missed three, and Michigan then extended the lead to five at the line.
IU's Noah Vonleh gave Michigan a scare by burying a three with 4.2 seconds remaining to cut Michigan's lead to two. But, Michigan's Mississaugan closed the door, burying a pair of free throws to effectively end the game.
And so, Michigan's regular season comes to an end, as does Jordan Morgan's career in the Crisler Center. Without his 15 and 10, Michigan would not have won this game.
After a rocky start, this became a season to remember. Make one final salute to your outright 2013-14 Big Ten regular season champions.
Now, the real fun begins.
March 7, 2014 by Joshua Henschke
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Michigan returns its starting quarterback from last year, but does he get to keep his job? The race for starting running back is underway with two sophomores looking for more playing time.
The offensive side of the ball has seen a facelift of sorts with new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier situated in Ann Arbor. Nussmeier, a former quarterback, specializes in two areas of the offense: Grooming quarterbacks and preaching a power running game.
Arguably the biggest loss in the group was Fitzgerald Toussaint. Although his production has significantly dropped recently, he was a 1,000 yard rusher in 2011. The depth also took an unexpected hit when Thomas Rawls left the program to transfer to Central Michigan.
With leadership and youth in place, Nussmeier can now start to work his magic.
Is there a quarterback controversy in Ann Arbor?
Earlier last week, both Michigan coach Brady Hoke and Nussmeier did not commit to a starting quarterback. Insisting that the job is open and will be won by someone in the near future. The question remains: Is Devin Gardner your starting quarterback?
With sophomore Shane Morris waiting for his chance, he will definitely apply the pressure to prove to the coaching staff he is ready to lead the Michigan program. However, in experience alone, Gardner has the upper hand. With an almost 3,000-yard passing season a year ago, benching that kind of production in favor of a younger Morris is a bold move.
In the grand scheme of things, this is Gardner's job to lose. However, if he struggles mightily like he did at times last season, the coaching staff will not be afraid to plug in Morris when the time comes.
Is Green ready to be the featured back?
Michigan is in a fortunate situation with the running backs because it is returning two talented sophomores who fit exactly what Nussmeier is looking for in a back. Sophomores Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith are both thick-bodied backs who have the skillset to be punishing backs once they get established. With Toussaint and Rawls gone, that leaves Green and Smith the main backs on the offense.
However, only one can start.
With many believing that Green will be the featured running back in this offense, the main concern is whether or not he is actually ready for the role. With weight concerns coming into camp a season ago, his freshman season didn't exactly go as many would hope. With a whole year of weight training and conditioning in, Green should be in prime shape heading into the first game of the season.
Fans saw flashes of his power and strength and many hope that continues to improve as his career moves forward.
Who Do We Know
Devin Gardner. A senior leader who undoubtedly will be a prime candidate for senior captaincy heading into the season. On paper his stats were solid, but looking deeper reveals a down year for him. With the ability of a strong thrower who has incredible touch on his passes when given the time and the ability to escape pressure and pick up precious yards on the ground, he is someone that Nussmeier can groom. An example of this would be Nussmeier's grooming of former Washington QB Keith Price. Price had a similar skill set like Gardner does now, so this isn't out of Nussmeier's comfortability zone.
Does Gardner have a solid season in him? Or does he relinquish his quarterback duties to Morris? Gardner will have to step up big time and prove to the coaches and fans that he can be the guy that was once labeled as the next best thing at Michigan quarterback.
Derrick Green. A bruising sophomore running back who patiently waited for his chance to become the featured back. Green could become the type of back that Nussmeier covets.
Can Green keep the weight off and stick with the conditioning program? Can he stay healthy in camp? Green has all the talent in the world to become the next great Michigan back. Considering the state of the running game since Mike Hart left, Green doesn't have to do too much to get into the good graces of fans. He just needs to produce. The offensive line has a lot to do with the future success of the running backs.
The Next Big Thing
This honor has to go to Morris. Heralded as the next best thing before even taking a snap at Michigan, fans are patiently waiting to see what he can do once he gets his chance. That could happen this season or it may have to wait another year. Either way, Morris appears to be ready to lead the team whenever his number gets called.
Although we didn't see much with Morris last season, given a watered-down offense to work with against Kansas State, he appeared comfortable in the pocket and didn't seem scared of the big stage.
Morris and Nussmeier have one thing in common, they are both lefty quarterbacks. With Nussmeier having a proven track record of being able to groom quarterbacks into successful products, this could turn into a productive relationship between quarterback and position coach.
Other Names to Watch
Another name to look out for during camp is incoming freshman quarterback Wilton Speight. Speight, an early enrollee, has had a few months to get established with the Michigan offense. Although he probably won't see any major time this year, he will absolutely challenge Morris for the quarterback position in the future.
Michigan also returns redshirt sophomore Drake Johnson after suffering a torn ACL during the first game of the season last year. Johnson was an interesting option at running back last year due to his blazing fast speeds. He was a track athlete in high school and held many state records. It is obvious why his speed was coveted by the Michigan coaching staff. Used primarily as a reserve back, Johnson might see more of the same this season. It is possible he could be used as a change of pace back -- a very fast change of space at that. With the running back position not having as much depth as past seasons, Johnson might find himself with more opportunities to play if healthy enough to do so.
What Does It Mean
Though Michigan may or may not have established starters at both positions, there will be plenty of competition during spring and summer camp. Gardner should continue as Michigan's starting quarterback and could be a nice combination with Green. But, this all depends on which direction Nussmeier is willing to go. Will he decide to stick with the experience? Or will he decide to go with the young gun ready to prove himself?
The running back position is a source of interest because Green and Smith are basically the same player. Both are exactly the same height (5'11) and both weigh close-to-if-not-more-than 230 pounds. Green is supposedly the faster and stronger back so that alone may put him ahead of Smith. No matter who ends up being the starting back, opposing defenses will see a healthy dose of both players bowling over their players.
Regardless of direction, Michigan is set with both their quarterbacks and running backs for the foreseeable future.
March 7, 2014 by Fouad Egbaria
Filed under Uncategorized
Michigan takes on the Hoosiers at the Crisler Center on Senior Night this Saturday, hoping to tie a tidy bow on the present that was this Big Ten season.
Date: Saturday, March 8
Time: 6:00 ET
Place: Ann Arbor, Mich.--Crisler Center
Conditions are still a bit on the chilly side (although it's projected to be in the 40s here in the Chicagoland area this weekend!), but things are about to heat up with the regular season coming to a close.
Before Michigan heads to the Big Ten tourney and the Big Dance, however, they'll take on Indiana tomorrow at home, a game that doesn't really mean anything on paper save for hypothetical NCAA tournament seeding purposes.
Oh, also, it's senior night for one Jordan Morgan, the guy who came in with very little hype and leaves Ann Arbor with two Big Ten titles, a NCAA tournament final appearance, a sterling record against the in-state rival Michigan State Spartans and the utmost respect and admiration of Michigan fans everywhere.
Tell him this game doesn't mean anything.
Season So Far
Since the Hoosiers downed Michigan in Bloomington way back on Feb. 2--which feels like an eternity ago--they've gone 3-5, include a 3-game losing streak on the heels of that win.
However, Tom Crean's squad has won two of its last three. Naturally, the Big Ten being what it is, the Hoosiers knocked off ranked Iowa and Ohio State squads at home, then followed that with a 70-60 home loss against Nebraska on Wednesday.
The Hoosiers have obviously had a down season, of course, but especially on the road, where they are 2-6 during Big Ten play--their wins came at Illinois in an 83-80 OT thriller on Dec. 31 and at Northwestern on Feb. 22.
Needless to say, while anyone can beat anyone etc. etc., the Hoosiers lose quite a bit of oomph when playing away from the friendly confines of Assembly Hall. Even so, the Wolverines can't afford another sluggish start if they hope to avoid another grind-it-out win (or worse, a loss).
By now you should be fairly familiar with the rosters around the Big Ten, so I'll try to keep this brief. Point guard Yogi Ferrell obviously leads the way for the Hoosiers as the heart and soul of the squad. As you'll remember, Ferrell went off against the Wolverines in the first matchup, dropping 27 points while having an out-of-body experience from beyond the arc (7-for-8).
You would think Michigan would try to do something a little different defensively this time around--getting a hand up on his shots would be a nice start. However, you'd also think that another 7-for-8 mark from three for the sophomore guard is unlikely.
Star freshman F Noah Vonleh checks in at 11.6 ppg and 9.1 rpg. The bad news for IU fans is that he's been out for their last two games, and it's unclear (at least as I write this) whether or not he'll go on Saturday. While you never want to see any college player miss a game due to injury, his absence would be a relief for Michigan in this particular game, especially if Jordan Morgan is held out for precautionary reasons.
After that, Will Sheehey, who has had a somewhat disappointing season, has been on fire of late, averaging 16.2 ppg in IU's last five contests. This stretch included a brilliant 30-point effort in IU's high-scoring win against Iowa Feb. 27. He did score 13 in the loss against Nebraska, but managed just a 5-for-14 mark from the field (2-for-7 from three).
Troy Williams, Stanford Robinson, Evan Gordon and Jeremy Hollowell round out the major contributors (although like Matt Painter, Crean seems like playing with a pretty big rotation). Other than Ferrell, Gordon is the most effective three-point shooter on the roster (34 percent).
Williams averages just 6.9 ppg but is coming off of a nice 18-point effort in the loss against Nebraska, in which he shot 7-for-12 from the field and pulled down six boards, good for his best performance of the conference season.
- Run Ferrell off the line. Simply put, Michigan can probably live with Ferrell probing his way into two-point land (which he'll probably do with some success anyway). However, the Wolverines can't afford to let him get comfortable from outside. Even if he does hit a few early outside shots, they need to be contested. Perhaps my memory is hazy, but I remember some of those makes in the first matchup going up with nothing more than a token contest.
- Stauskas vs. Ferrell. If I remember correctly, this matchup the first time around ushered in the "Stauskas can't figure out what to do against smaller guards" meme into our collective fan-mind. After continued struggles after that game, it appeared figured out against MSU's Keith Appling that he can just over the top of a smaller guard. Even when he does miss, a three over a much shorter point guard is generally good to be a good shot for Michigan's Mississaugan.
- Don't take the exit to Cliche City. With the Big Ten title and the conference tournament 1-seed wrapped up, Michigan doesn't have much to play for except upping its stock for a 2-seed in the Big Dance. Nonetheless, if Michigan's lone senior doesn't play, the Wolverines will need to find a way to fill in that void of general grit and hustle that Morgan's absence would create. In short, it would be nice to avoid The Letdown.
March 7, 2014 by Joshua Henschke
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The FRR updates you on the very latest regarding Michigan football recruiting. Find out which four committed Texas recruits discussed their interest in Michigan. Is there a potentially big visitor coming to campus soon? That and more.
Committed Texas Talent Talk U-M Interest
Eric Rutter and Jacob Nye from Scout.com recently posted an update ($) on four 2015 committed recruits in the state of Texas that hold some interest in the Wolverines. Safety Justin Dunning, defensive tackle Daylon Mack, athlete Blake Lynch and safety Jamile Johnson.
Four-star Dunning, a Texas A&M commit, considers TAMU the perfect school for him and holds a fairly firm pledge to the Aggies. However, in order to get Dunning's attention and interest, Michigan will need to offer him first.
"I would probably want to take a visit (if the Wolverines offered)," he said. "A couple of my coaches like some of the northern schools, so it's a possibility to go see them. Distance really wasn't a factor when I made my decision [to commit to A&M]."
Mack, a five-star and Texas A&M commit, currently does not have an offer but the coaching staff has shown some interest in the past. However, according to Mack, he is only focused on three schools: TAMU, Ohio State and Auburn.
Four-star Lynch, a Baylor commit, references Denard Robinson for the reason that he is interested in the Wolverines.
"I just remember him and how effective (Robinson) was there," said Lynch. "If I felt like Michigan was the place for me in Ann Arbor and I fit in their system... and if they gave me an offer and I liked it on an official I wouldn't have a problem going there."
Three-star Johnson, an Oklahoma commit, is not shutting down his recruitment process completely after committing to the Sooners. In order for Michigan to get a visit from him, he must get an offer from them.
"I would love to go to Michigan," said Johnson. "They are great and are a Big Ten team. I love the Big Ten, but it would take an offer for me to visit. They were close to offering me this spring, but they just need to look over my film some more."
Save for Mack, the general consensus is that Michigan would need to offer before their interest in Michigan increases, which is understandable. However, it will be very difficult to pull talent out of the state of Texas. With TAMU surging and Texas looking to rebound, they will be picking their state clean.
Steve Lorenz from 247Sports recently teased a big visitor on his latest Inside Michigan Recruiting ($) piece. It has already been confirmed that 2015 four-star corner back Garett Taylor will be visiting next week. But, according to Lorenz, this potential visitor is a pretty big deal.
"I want to get this out there in case we aren't the first to confirm it when it happens, but a rock solid source at Michigan has informed me that there is a potential "huge" visitor coming next weekend. I wasn't given a name yet because the player has not confirmed for sure yet, but it is a possibility... My belief is that it's an offensive player, and could be a quarterback of some kind. That's pure speculation at this point though."
As far as guesses go, I am not really sure. Fans will have to wait this one out until something more concrete emerges.
Also mentioned in the post is that five-star defensive end Terry Beckner Jr. will visit Michigan sometime this spring.
In the mean time, below is a highlight tape from Taylor.
General Odds and Ends
Syracuse.com has a great article (FREE) on top Michigan target and legacy Tyrone Wheatley Jr. Wheatley's coach discusses Michigan interest briefly.
Most recruiting analysts believe Michigan is the team to beat, given the ties the family has to the school. Wheatley's father was a standout running back in Ann Arbor in the '90s before a long stint in the NFL with the New York Giants and Oakland Raiders. Naturally, there's an attraction to following such a legacy, Hopkins said.
"Growing up in that household," he said, "you really can't not be a fan of Michigan."
247Sports' Clint Brewster listed some early favorites ($) for Michigan which features at least three Michigan targets with Crystal Ball predictions at 100% to Michigan.
Be sure to follow Maize N Brew's Joshua Henschke on Twitter, @JoshuaHenschke
March 6, 2014 by Joshua Henschke
Filed under Uncategorized
Mark Messner, Rob Lytle and Jumbo Elliott saw their names listed on the 2014 College Football Hall of Fame Ballot.
The National Football Foundation announced the list of candidates for the College Football Hall of Fame on Thursday. Three former Michigan football players saw their names featured on the ballot.
Former defense end Mark Messner, running back Rob Lytle and former offensive lineman Jumbo Elliott are featured in a list with the likes of "Rocket" Ismail, Keyshawn Johnson and Randall Cunningham.
Messner, a two-time All-American at Michigan was a dominant defensive end from 1985-1988. He earned All-Big Ten honors in each of his four seasons playing. He and Steve Hutchinson are the only two Michigan players to do so in their careers. Messner also currently holds the Michigan record for tackles for loss (376) and sacks (36) in a career.
Messner was inducted into the Michigan hall of honor earlier this year.
Lytle, who is making an appearance on the ballot for the third consecutive year, was a consensus All-American his senior year at Michigan in 1976. He also finished third in the Heisman balloting that year behind Tony Dorsett and Ricky Bell. At one time, Lytle held the Michigan record for most rushing yards in a career with 3,307 yards -- which was broken five years later by Butch Woolfolk -- and now currently sits seventh on the all-time rushing leader list.
Also having a lengthy career with the Denver Broncos, he holds the honor of being the first player to score a touchdown in the Rose Bowl and the Super Bowl. Lytle passed away in 2010.
Elliott, who is also appearing on the ballot for the third consecutive year, is known for more than a dramatic touchdown -- his only reception of his career -- in a Monday Night Football game during his professional days.
A two-time All-American and a finalist for the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award, he was a pivotal member of the offensive line that lead the way for former running back Jamie Morris to set the Michigan rushing record that went on to stand for 14 years. The 1986 Michigan offense was explosive, putting up school records in yardage in a single season (5,396) and first downs in a single season (286.) Elliott was also a two-time All-Big Ten honoree.
He left Michigan as the school record holder for consecutive starts for an offensive lineman.
Often regarded as the first franchise player in New York Giants history, Elliott had a career which included 13 seasons in New York and eventually becoming a Super Bowl Champion in 1990.
To be eligible for the College Football Hall of Fame, players must be at least 10 years removed from their final collegiate game and earned at least one First Team All-American honor by a major NCAA-recognized outlet. The player cannot be playing professional football currently.