Jabrill Peppers 25th pick to Cleveland
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) April 28, 2017
Taco Charlton, 28th pick Dallas
With the 28th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select Taco Charlton. pic.twitter.com/EYdfVxtQOU
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) April 28, 2017
Chris Wormley, Baltimore
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) April 29, 2017
Jourdan Louis, Dallas
The Cowboys take DB Jourdan Lewis out of Michigan.
He'll join former Wolverine Taco Charlton in Dallas. pic.twitter.com/fpOnY3Wnqa
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) April 29, 2017
Delano Hill, Seattle
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) April 29, 2017
Amara Darboh, Seattle
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) April 29, 2017
Ben Gedeon, Minnesota
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) April 29, 2017
Ryan Glasgow, Cincinnati
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) April 29, 2017
Jehu Chesson, Kansas City
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) April 29, 2017
Jake Butt, Denver
The Broncos take TE Jake Butt out of Michigan for the first pick in the 5th round. pic.twitter.com/ijzgFKslke
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) April 29, 2017
Jeremy Clark, NY Jets
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) April 29, 2017
MAIZE v BLUE FINAL: Maize 31, Blue 29. test
With only four offensive starters returning this spring, and only one returnee on defense, there is obviously much work to be done before facing off with Florida’s talented Gators next fall.
QBs: I think we can all step back from the ledge a bit in knowing that the quarterback positon is in fine shape, in spite of the fact that Wilton Speight had a surprisingly tough outing in the spring game Saturday.
Facing stern pressure in the first quarter (from the first defense), and throughout the game, Wilton never had the benefit of the first offensive line as it was split. Brandon Peters had the advantage of a better OL line. Like last year early, Wilton did not seem in touch with his receivers. Wilton’s QB stock wilted some in the game, but he will fight back, and is still the best bet to be the season starter.
His two interceptions hurt. One was on a magnificent play by Viper Jordan Glasgow, who cut in front of the receiver and hustled the football 101-yards for an outstanding pick six. Beautiful nab and run as Glasgow twice evaded closing pursuit. I interviewed him at length at last year’s media day, when he was totally unknown as an M football player, and was masked by the towering shadows of his bigger lineman brothers, Graham and Ryan. He may be smaller, but Ryan is missing a front tooth courtesy of Jordan. The Glasgow family football toughness and smarts are his too, even if in a smaller package. He will compete for time at the Viper position (hybrid LB, safety, and nickel position). Jordan now sports an enormous mane that his helmet can’t hide. It was fun watching that flow behind him as he ran warp speed for six.
The other Wilton pick six, was a nifty nab by Brandon Watson.
There is no question that Brandon Peters had the better day at QB Saturday. He was 9 of 17 for 160-yards. He tossed a 55-yarder to Zach Gentry for the game’s first TD. He also scooted diagonally into the end zone on a remarkable 12-yard TD run. His strong arm was evident whenever he was at the helm.
I don’t think he can unseat Wilton yet, but the battle is going to be fierce, and it might get close. Newcomer CB Benjamin St. Juste made an outstanding interception to give Peters his worst moment of an otherwise sterling performance.
All this competition is good for the most important position group on the team. Two good QBs are a must for success and the Wolverines will have them no matter which one starts. The offense amassed 6 TDs.
The other QBs will be pushed by John O’Korn. John tossed a pretty TD pass to Tarik Black late in the game. The offense amassed 6 TDs. They constantly tested the edge.
OL: Of course it is tough to quantify the OL at this time. The number one line is no surprise. Cole, Bredeson, Kugler, Onwenu, and John Runyan, Jr. constituted the best line, the Maize line. The second will have some pieces of note to develop, like big Cesar Ruiz, and others. This position group will have many interchangeable parts, and will probably need them. But it is impossible to judge them as a unit at this time, though they seemed improved.
There were some individual key performances. A nice Bredeson block on Peters TD illustrates one of them. Cole played LT and Kugler manned the center position to start the game.
RECEIVERS: Fifteen different receivers played. The standout was Tarik Black who was active all afternoon and culminated his performance with a great TD catch near the end of the game. He is tall and a leaper. They kept going back to him. Freshman WR Nate Schoenle had two receptions totaling 58-yards.
RBs: Ty Isaac led the backs with 5 carries for 47-yards, and had a nifty 28-yard visit to the end zone. Karan Higdon had 2 TDs and a nice performance on the day. Kareem Walker looked good as he made a hard inside run breaking tackles. Walker was later dinged, left the field, but returned.
TE’s: Sean McKeon got some work, Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. made a catch. Ian Bunting was not afforded a catch. The position seemed to me to block well. As mentioned previously, TE Zach Gentry collared a 55-yard TD. The position seemed to block well.LINEBACKER DEVIN BUSH STARS: Defensive coordinator Brown indicated postgame that Devin Bush was outstanding. Dr. Blitz indicated: “He’s a mature guy. And football’s important to him. He’s from a football family. It’s so nice when you have a nice guy and he can play in two different spots. You can ask some guys to do that, and they look at you like, Are you kidding me? But he handled that really, really well.”
Khaleke Hudson can play with the best of them at safety or LB.
Lone returnee McCray is solid. Brown also said they are still looking for a 4th LB and that it may be Michael Wroblewski.
DL: The starters are solid. Gary, Hurst , and Mone can be great players this season and I think the DL will be a solid base. I interviewed Rashan Gary (was among the post-game scrum listening to him post game) and I asked him his take on the looming visit to Rome. He is totally enthusiastic, all in, and thinks it will be a great experience. It is an experience not available to most football players.
This line could approach the effectiveness of last year’s. At least Rashan Gary thinks so, and he may be right.
DBs: Benjamin St. Juste, Ambry Thomas, Brandon Watson (Int) had their moments, and gained some experience. Safety Tyree Kinnel played a good game. He led the Maize with 7 tackles, and left some bruises. He hits. Khaleke Hudson was outstanding.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A couple of drops marred the special team’s performance. Nate Johnson dropped a fair catch, probably due to the glare of the sun. KO’s looked adequate, Tice kicked the extra points, and there was a ray of sunshine as Quinn Nordin hit a 48-yarder and made it look oh so easy. A 21-yard FG won the game for the Maize. Hitting of returners was not allowed.
NOTES: The Wolverines will complete their practices in Rome. This constitutes another innovative Harbaugh first. Coach Brown indicated post game that the purpose of the Spring football game is to identify personnel. It is not necessarily a valid evaluator of the worth of a team. Coach Harbaugh was not available at the post game presser, leaving the chore to Brown and Drevno. The quarters of the game were 12 minutes long. The crowd was estimated at 50,000 plus. It was a perfect April football day. At the half, the 2017 recruits were introduced. Jake Butt received the 2016 Mackey Trophy which recognizes the best tight end in the country.
TAKEAWAY: The Wolverines seem to have more athletic players at more positions than before. That advantage is tempered by lack of experience. Can they be coached up enough to win away from home, to battle Florida successfully in their tough season opener? As the work progresses we will get a better idea.
DEFENSIVE LINE: I doubt there is a dedicated Wolverine fan on the planet that was not aware of the fact that the Wolverines enjoyed and employed one of the best defenses in the world of college football last season. After all, as a defense, they stood Numero Uno in the nation at the close of the 2016 season.
They had great DL depth with the likes of Chris Wormley, Taco Charlton, and Ryan Glasgow. They had Matt Godin who developed later, but was extraordinary last year. They had a football “phenom” in Jabril Peppers.
They will be missed as those listed above and others have moved on to prospective NFL careers, where many of them will prosper.
Walk on Nose Tackle Glasgow showed his worth when he was injured for a good part of a recent season. The defense struggled at the nose without his talented play, and prospered at the position again last season with Ryan returned healthy at the nose.
Barring injuries, the heirs apparent that seem to lead in the competition for starting positions at this early point of the 2017 campaign, are Fifth year Senior DT Maurice Hurst, Redshirt Junior Bryan Mone, and DE Sophomore Rashan Gary. These three will anchor a DL that could approach last year’s starting DL in effectiveness.
All three are versatile, talented athletes, and there are talented additions to the line on deck. Don Brown is confident he can weld them into a cohesive and effective group. He has publically stated that he is not afraid of the process with this group, that it is worse to have an experienced group that is less talented than the opposite.
All three named above have the experience, motor, physique, and football smarts, to lead the Wolverines to defensive line success. While I take the reported timing of a super-fast big man run by Rashan with the proverbial grain of salt, there is no question he has extraordinary football gifts, including speed and motor skills. This year he will get sufficient snaps to showcase them.
The late recruitment of big DT Aubrey Solomon in the 2017 class will play an important part in prospective defensive line depth. Newcomer Lulji Villian has the body and skills to be felt at the rush end position. Freshman Deron Irving-Bey (6’5”, 271 lbs.) will also play an important part in the defensive line depth. The depth of the DL, and defensive depth in general, are important aspects of any defense, but especially in a Don Brown defense. Also known as Dr. Blitz, Brown calls a hell for leather game, all out every play. He needs fresh players for a game as fast and rough as college football. He needs skilled back up heavies to spell the hardworking first line.
Perhaps as many as a thousand snaps for the defense per season can provide an ugly opportunity for key injuries every season. It really is a next man up game. There are already reports of some injuries, and missed snaps (none of them season ending that I know of).
While the first line will approach the class of last season’s quality, the needed depth must still be engineered. At this point it appears they have the pieces to solve the quality puzzle, but developing youngsters takes time as they build experience. The DL newcomers are prime time athletes, and they will have to learn and ripen quickly. Chances are that under the tutelage of Brown, Mattison and Harbaugh they will succeed as a prime group overall, with some outstanding players, and play.
LINEBACKERS: The linebackers need to be rebuilt again, but this time there will be more speed if less experience than last season. An improving Fifth Year Senior Mike McCray is back. He will be the man in the middle (Mike). He returned an interception for a TD in the Orange Bowl, caused and recovered fumbles, as he improved over the season.
Some of the additional speed will belong to Devin Bush, Jr. (5’11”, 232 lbs.) His name keeps popping up favorably. A large load will be layered on his young shoulders. He could excel this season. He did that on special teams this past season, making 12 tackles. An experienced Redshirt Junior, Noah Furbush will compete. They need all the experience they can get to temper the loss of Jabrill Peppers, and Ben Gedeon.
Peppers talent can’t be duplicated but they can fill the “Viper” position (SAM) with talent sufficient to minimize the impact of the loss Peppers. There may be interchangeable players at the position, perhaps situational. The Viper is a hybrid LB- Safety position. Midway through the second week of practice Bush’s name was prominently connected with the Viper position. There will be others.
Sophomore Safety Khaleke Hudson has also been favorably been mentioned at Viper.
Sophomore Josh Metellus replaced Peppers in the Orange Bowl, and another one of the Glasgows, this time Jordan, walked on last season, and into consideration for playing time, by using good special teams play for initial notice.
In the wings are three Frosh of noted talent. Drew Singleton, is super talented, and will compete. Jordan Anthony is a five star recruit out of IMG. Maybe he will press others for a slot. Named last but not least is Josh Ross, brother of the graduated James. All have sterling defensive credentials, and may compete early.
All in all, this group seems to have extraordinary talent and the desire for success. As a position group they lack in depth and experience. With experience they will be faster to the edge etc., more athletic. The future looks good, but good how soon will it look good is a realistic question?
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Once you note that Jourdan Lewis, Channing Stribling, Delano Hill, and Dymonte Thomas are graduated and gone, the future seems shakier, and less predictable, for this position group. Someone has to step up fast.
It seems likely that Junior Tyree Kinnel will step up. He played in 13 games last year at safety, and excelled defensively on special teams.
Much is expected from Sophomore Lavert Hill. He will compete for one of the two starting CB positions. He played strongly in nine games last year. Can he grab a starting CB spot now? It seems likely he has a strong chance for a hot at a CB slot.
Sophomore David Long has healed from last season. He played well in four games at CB, and needs to build his fortunes this spring.
Khaleke Hudson fortunes seem to be rising. He played at safety some last year, and keeps getting mentioned. He will likely be solid competition for a safety spot this spring.
The time is now for DB development. If this safety position group reaches the season in crisis it will be a long one. Outside of the OL, this position group constitutes the biggest area of concern on this team.
There is some prospective help in the wings. From Canada comes Frosh Benjamin St-Juste. He is a tall cornerback at 6’3”. , and needs to add some weight. Talented yes, but how quick will he adjust the Wolverine’s game? He will have a chance to prove his case.
Freshman Ambry Thomas from MLK in Detroit enrolled in January. He seems likely to compete for some playing time this year. How much depends on what he can earn for a Wolverine position of need, but it seems he will be in the fray.
Another Safety prospect, Frosh J’Marick Woods, can lay the lumber at 6’3” and 205 lbs. He may play a role this year at this position of great need.
DEFENSIVE PROSPECTUS: It seems unlikely that the Wolverine’s team defense can reach the level of effectiveness that it reached last year, but I don’t think they will be a distant second to last year. They should be good. How good or bad only the season results can show. After the opener at Florida, we will have real football facts to evaluate. As usual, we certainly will not learn much from the spring results. What happens in the spring is not always what happens in the real world of actual football team competition, when the lights come on.
Only the season’s games reveal the depth of the team’s pluses and minuses, and enable answers to questions such as: Will the offense be robust enough to mask any early season short falls the defense might display this season? To put this idea another way, will the offense consistently be able to run the ball better than last year against their better competition?
It is going to be a blast to tune in, and find out as time progresses, just how good this Wolverine work in progress can become.
Meanwhile a different kind of learning experience looms for the team as they blast off for Italy after April 15th for more football practices, and some genuine culture shock. It should be a great college experience for the Wolverines.
Hope there is a large turnout for the spring “game”. It’ll be fun! After all it will be all Wolverines on the field.
Well, we won a ring. We survived a plane crash. We played to the best of our ability in a couple games. We put the world on notice. It was special.
– Moritz Wagner
The University of Michigan Men’s Basketball team’s 2016-2017 season is over, and it was an unexpected success. Michigan finished with a final record of 26-12 (10-8 in the Big Ten), which was good enough for a tie for 5th place in the Big Ten, but that’s not the whole story. UM caught fire in the 2nd half of the Big Ten season, and strung together 7 wins in a row to win the Big Ten Tournament, and make it to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament. This was more than all but the most optimistic fans and “experts” predicted for Michigan. One of the biggest factors, and something I never mentioned during the season for superstitious reasons, was that no Michigan player missed a single game due to injury. This is a remarkable departure from the last few seasons, which have seen far too many significant injuries.
Before the season, I divided the games up into 3 categories (“Should Win”, “Should Lose”, and “Toss Up”):
- Should Win (13) – Howard, UIPUI, Mount St. Mary’s, Kennesaw State, Central Arkansas, Maryland Eastern Shore, Furman, Penn State, Nebraska (both), Minnesota, Rutgers, Northwestern.
- Should Lose (6) – UCLA, Iowa, Wisconsin (away), Michigan State (both), Indiana (away).
- Toss Up (12) – Marquette, 2nd round 2K Classic, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Texas, Maryland, Illinois (both), Indiana (home), Ohio State, Wisconsin (home), Purdue.
If UM can win all 13 of the “Should Win” games, and half of the 12 “Toss Up” games, that would give them a record of 19-12 (9-9 in the Big Ten). That might be good enough to get UM into the NCAA Tournament, depending on how they do in the Big Ten Tournament.
So, how did they do?
- Should Win (11-2) – Minnesota and Northwestern were surprisingly good this season.
- Should Lose (2-4) – UM beat MSU at home and Indiana on the road.
- Toss-Up (7-5) – UM beat Marquette, SMU (2nd round 2K Classic), Texas, Illinois (home), Indiana (home), Wisconsin (home), and Purdue.
That worked out to 20-9 (10-8 in the Big Ten), which was slightly better than I predicted. They did it by winning 2 “Should Lose” games to make up for the 2 “Should Win” games that they lost, and doing one game better than half of the “Toss Up” games.
There were quite a few significant games along the way:
South Carolina (11/23/2016) – As good as Michigan looked in the 2K Classic, they looked that bad in their very next game, a thorough butt-whipping in their 1st true road game. Of course, South Carolina made it to the Final Four, so the loss doesn’t look quite as bad.
Texas (12/06/2016) – A big win for Michigan, in an ugly home game. It was close and tense, but “a win is a win”.
UCLA (12/10/2016) – Another road loss, but a spectacular one. UCLA was ranked #2 in the nation at the time, and UM hung with them for the entire 1st half, which was a 50-50 track meet. UCLA pulled away in the 2nd half, but UM looked pretty good in an 18-point loss.
Iowa (01/01/2017) – Yet another road loss, in Michigan’s Big Ten opener. This was a close game, and Michigan had a chance to win it in regulation, but they let it slip away, then lost in overtime. Not a very good way to start league play.
Illinois (01/11/2017) – This game was the turning point of the season. It was yet another road loss, dropping Michigan to 1-3 in the Big Ten. The game was tied until Illinois went on a 17-2 run in the last 4:04 of the half, and that was the game. The game was a depressing loss, but there was a “silver lining”. The Illinois center, Maverick Morgan (great name!) called Michigan a “white collar” team in a postgame interview, and that woke them up. From that point on, Michigan went 15-6.
Wisconsin (01/17/2017) – Yet another road loss, but a close one. Since Wisconsin was ranked #17 at the time, this was a minor “moral victory”.
Illinois (01/21/2017) – Michigan wore their blue (away) uniforms for a home game, to show Maverick Morgan that they could be “blue collar”, and they kicked Illinois’ butts. The “revenge tour” was on!
Indiana (01/26/2017) – Michigan crushed IU 90-60 in Crisler, and fans were starting to get excited about the team.
Michigan State (01/29/2017) – Another close road loss. The game was close and tight until the final minutes. The final score (70-62) is deceptive. Not quite a “moral victory”, but it was encouraging.
Ohio State (02/04/2017) – This was the low point of the season. Just when it looked like UM was finally getting things figured out, they came out flat at home vs. OSU, and lost an ugly game to a mediocre team. They allowed 16 offensive rebounds, and that cost them the game. At this point, most fans, including me, jumped off the bandwagon. I wrote the team off as “no chance for the NCAA Tournament, think NIT instead”. Wrong.
Michigan State (02/07/2017) – This was the high point of the season, at least for me. A win over MSU is worth any 2 other wins. This win was another good old-fashioned butt kicking. UM led from start to finish, and got the lead up as high as 30, before putting in the scrubs and winning by “only” 29 points. Another “revenge” win.
Indiana (02/12/2017) – Michigan FINALLY won a true road game, in one of the toughest places to win: Assembly Hall. They didn’t just win, they won convincingly, and swept IU.
Wisconsin (02/16/2017) – Another big win, over a ranked (#11) team. Another “revenge” win. The fans were back, and thinking NCAA Tournament.
Minnesota (02/19/2017) – Another road game, another loss. This one was also close and tense, and went to overtime. The officiating was terrible, and Michigan shot free throws terribly, for the only time this season. Ugh.
Purdue (02/25/2017) – This game was Senior Night, and Michigan played their best game of the regular season, beating the Big Ten regular season champs. They were ranked #16 at the time.
Northwestern (03/01/2017) – Another road game, another loss. Northwestern probably had to win this game to guarantee their first ever NCAA Tournament bid, and it was a good, close, tense game. It was tied with 1.7 seconds left, and it looked like it was going to overtime, but NW threw a perfect full-court pass for a buzzer-beater layup. It could have been a crushing defeat for Michigan, but they shook it off nicely, winning their next 7 games.
Nebraska (03/05/2017) – Michigan bounced back from the heartbreaking loss at Northwestern with one of their best games of the season. They thrashed Nebraska on their Senior Night, winning by 36 points. Another (rare) road win!
Illinois (03/09/2017) – Illinois, again. This time, Michigan played them in the Big Ten Tournament, in Washington (DC). Any tournament game is a big deal, but this one was even bigger, since Michigan’s charter plane had a “rejected takeoff” during the 63-mph windstorm, and ended up sliding off the runway, through a security fence, across an access road, and into a field just short of a ravine. Everyone on board was basically safe, but there were some cuts and bruises, and everyone was shaken up. If the plane had slid into the ravine, there could have been serious injuries and even deaths. The team flew to DC the next morning, and got to the arena at 10:40 for a noon tipoff. Their game uniforms were trapped on board the crashed charter plane, so they played in their practice uniforms, with very little warmup. It didn’t matter: they crushed Maverick Morgan and his merry band again, 75-55. More revenge.
Purdue (03/10/2017) – Michigan was the #8 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, so they had to play the #1 seed, Purdue, if they won their 1st game. Purdue was the regular season Big Ten champions, ranked #13, playing their 1st game of the tournament, since they had a double bye. Didn’t matter. Michigan beat them again, this time in overtime. At least they finally had their game uniforms.
Minnesota (03/11/2017) – Michigan played their 3rd game in 3 days, and they played well. They continued their “revenge tour” with a win over Minnesota. This time, they shot their free throws well.
Wisconsin (03/12/2017) – Wisconsin was the #2 seed in the tournament, and they were ranked (#24). Didn’t matter. Michigan finished up their “revenge tour” with a very convincing 15-point win (71-56), for the Big Ten Tournament championship and the automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Oklahoma State (03/17/2017) – These two teams had the two best offenses in the country, and they matched each other shot for shot the whole game. Michigan managed to pull ahead in the final minutes, then hung on to win by one, 92-91. Whew!
Louisville (03/19/2017) – This was probably Michigan’s most impressive win of the season, although I’m partial to the 29-point win over Michigan State. Louisville was the #2 seed in the Midwest Region, and they were ranked #10. It was a close, hard-fought game, with Louisville ahead most of the time, but UM grabbed a small lead in the closing minutes, and hung on for the huge win. On to the Sweet Sixteen!
Oregon (03/23/2017) – This was another nailbiter, against another high seed (#3) team that was ranked in the Top 10 (#9). It all came down to the final shot, at the buzzer, with Michigan down one point. It didn’t drop, and Michigan’s fairy tale run in the Big Dance was over.
Austin Davis (Inc.) – Austin was voluntarily redshirted this season, since UM had so much depth at center.
Brent Hibbitts (Inc.) – Brent only played in “garbage time” this season: 22 minutes in 10 games. He scored 3 points (on a 3-pointer), and he grabbed 4 rebounds.
Xavier Simpson (B-) – Xavier played in all 38 games, averaging 8.7 minutes/game. He scored 59 points, and dished out 37 assists. He didn’t shoot very often, or very well, but he did give Derrick Walton a rest every now and then. He did play pretty good defense.
Jon Teske (C-) – Jon played in 20 games, averaging 3.1 minutes/game. He only scored 5 points (1 basket and 3 free throws), and grabbed 12 rebounds. He was very tentative out there. Whenever he entered the game, the opposing center went right at him, backed him down, and scored over him easily. He just wasn’t ready this season.
Ibi Watson (C-) – Ibi played in 19 games, averaging 4.4 minutes/game. He scored 24 points, but he really struggled with his 3-point shooting: 1-for-18. He seemed pretty confident out there, but he just couldn’t buy a basket.
Fred Wright-Jones (Inc.) – Fred only played in “garbage time” this season: 18 minutes (lowest on the team) in 13 games. He scored 5 points, on a 3-pointer and 2 free throws.
Charles Matthews (Inc.) – Charles had to sit out this season after transferring to Michigan from Kentucky. He’ll have sophomore eligibility next season.
Moritz Wagner (A) – Moe was easily the most improved player on the team this season. He started all 38 games, and he was 3rd on the team in scoring, averaging 12.1 points/game. He cut way down on his fouls and turnovers from last season. His defense still wasn’t as good as his offense, but he got better as the season went along.
DJ Wilson (A) – DJ is another vastly improved player. He played in all 38 games, and started all but the first 2. He averaged 11.0 points/game, and he led the team in rebounding with 203, and blocked shots with 57 (more than the rest of the team combined).
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (B) – MAAR had an up-and-down season. He played in all 38 games, and started 37 of them. He averaged 9.1 points/game, but he had several mediocre games scattered among his normal productive games. When he’s “on”, he’s fine out there, but he disappeared several times this season.
Mark Donnal (C) – Mark regressed from his first 2 seasons, especially last season. It’s hard to believe that this is the same player who put up 28 points vs. Illinois last season. He almost acted disinterested out there at times. He played in all 38 games, and he averaged 3.9 points/game, but he also disappeared several times this season.
Sean Lonergan (Inc.) – Sean mostly played in “garbage time”, but he had a few brief appearances in significant game situations. Still, he only played 36 minutes in 17 games, and only scored 11 points.
Duncan Robinson (B-) – Duncan is another player who regressed from last season. He played in all 38 games, and he even started 3 of them, but he quickly lost his starting spot to DJ Wilson, and the rest of the season he came off the bench to provide “instant offense”. He averaged 7.7 points/game, which isn’t bad, but his 3-point shooting percentage was way down from last season. He also had a tough time staying in front of his man on defense, which limited his playing time.
Andrew Dakich (Inc.) – Andrew was voluntarily redshirted. It’s odd to see a senior be redshirted, but Andrew voluntarily “burned his redshirt” the last 2 seasons to help the team when injuries sidelined point guards. He’ll graduate on time, and play a “grad transfer” year somewhere smaller where he can start and contribute.
Zak Irvin (B+) – Zak was the 2nd leading scorer on the team (13.0 points/game), 2nd in assists (113), and 3rd on the team in rebounding (172). He had a terrible shooting slump in the middle of the Big Ten season, but he broke out of it, and played some of his best basketball down the stretch. He still had a habit of taking too many long 2-pointers, and playing “hero ball” in crunch time, but overall he helped the team more than he hurt it.
Derrick Walton Jr. (A) – Derrick led the team in scoring (15.5 points/game), led the team in assists (189), and was 2nd in rebounding (182). He had a mediocre start to the season, but from the “white collar” game on, he was the best player on the team, and one of the best in the Big Ten. He carried Michigan on his back for the last 10 games or so.
Michigan is losing at least 4 players from this season’s team:
- Andrew Dakich – Andrew is going to use the “grad transfer” rule to play somewhere else for his 5th year. If he can find the right situation, he can start and star somewhere else.
- Mark Donnal – Mark is also going to play his “grad transfer” year somewhere else. He also stands a good chance for finding a team where he can shine. He’s a talented player, he’s just behind a few even more talented players on Michigan’s roster.
- Zak Irvin – Zak is graduating, and he will be missed. He hasn’t been the most consistent player, and he’s taken (and missed) more than his share of “hero ball” shots over the years, but on the whole he’s helped Michigan a lot more than he’s hurt them.
- Derrick Walton Jr. – Derrick is also graduating, and he will also be missed. He was certainly the most valuable player on this season’s team, and good point guards are hard to find.
There is also a chance that Sean Lonergan will use the “grad transfer” rule to play elsewhere next season. If so, I’m sure he can find a team that will let him play and contribute a lot.
Irvin and Walton will definitely be missed, and the other 3 guys played important roles either as backups or practice players, but Michigan has another good recruiting class coming in:
- Eli Brooks – 6’1″, 175 pounds, G – Eli is a shooting point guard, with a good 3-point stroke.
- Isaiah Livers – 6’7″, 195 pounds, W – Isaiah was voted Mr. Basketball for the state of Michigan this season. He’s a smooth wing with a nice 3-point shot.
- Jordan Poole – 6’3″, 175 pounds, G – Jordan is a combo guard, with an emphasis on shooting guard.
I hate to say too much about incoming freshmen until I’ve seen them play in an actual game or two. It’s easy to get excited about high school seniors, but they are usually a lot less exciting as college freshmen. Ibi Watson and Jon Teske are this season’s prime examples.
In addition to the 3 incoming freshmen, there will be 2 more new players on next season’s roster:
- Austin Davis – As mentioned above, Austin was voluntarily redshirted this season, since UM had so much depth at center. Jon Teske played (sparingly) instead, and didn’t show us much. Coach Beilein second guessed his decision later in the season. Apparently, Austin has done very well in practice this season.
- Charles Matthews – Charles has played on the scout team all this season, so he knows the Beilein offense. Reports from practice say that he’s done very well. We’ll see next season in real games.
In summary, the future looks very promising for Michigan for next season and beyond.
Be sure to look for the first article for next season on the Monday before the first game.
The (#23) University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game last week in the NCAA Tournament in Kansas City (MO), and they lost it. They were the #7 seed in the Midwest Region. On Thursday (03/23/2017), Michigan lost to the #3 seed, Oregon, 69-68. The loss eliminated Michigan from the tournament, and left them with a final record of 26-12 (10-8 in the Big Ten).
The game was every bit as close as the final score would indicate. Michigan played one of their worst games in the last 2 months, but still had a shot at the game-winning basket as time expired, but it didn’t drop. Game, and season, over.
In the 1st half, the game was tied 8 times, and there were 8 lead changes. Oregon’s biggest lead of the half was 5 points, Michigan’s biggest lead was 4. Oregon led by 2 points at halftime, 35-33. The 2nd half was much the same. There were 8 more lead changes. Oregon’s biggest lead in the 2nd half was 6 points, Michigan’s biggest lead was 3 points. Michigan had that lead (68-65) with 2:02 left in the game, and it looked like they were going to pull the game out again in the closing moments, like they have so many times in postseason play. Instead, they didn’t score again. An Oregon player missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw attempt with 1:49 left, but Michigan couldn’t grab the rebound, and Oregon made a basket instead. Michigan missed their last 3 shots, and Oregon made one more basket, and that was the game.
The stats for the game are mediocre. Michigan didn’t shoot very well overall (25-for-58 = 43.1%), they shot 3-pointers fairly well (11-for-31 = 35.5%), but they did shoot free throws perfectly (7-for-7 = 100.0%). They lost the rebounding battle, but not badly (36-31), but they also lost the turnover battle (8-5), which is a big surprise. While 8 turnovers isn’t bad at all, they were the difference in this game.
Who Looked Good
Derrick Walton Jr. carried Michigan on his back again, in his final game as a Wolverine. He scored 20 points, had 8 assists, and even grabbed 5 rebounds. He was the player who took the last “win or lose” shot at the buzzer, and it was a good and reasonable shot, it just didn’t go in. Bummer.
Zak Irvin also played hard in his last game as a Wolverine. He scored 19 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, and had 3 assists. He hit crucial shots in “crunch time” to keep Michigan in the game. It was good to see him go out on a high note.
DJ Wilson had an interesting game. He scored 12 points, all on 3-pointers. He shot 3-pointers pretty well (4-for-8), but missed both of his 2-point attempts, including a point-blank uncontested layup in the closing minutes that could have sealed the game. Still, it’s hard to complain about his effort and his defense.
Duncan Robinson scored 8 points, which was good, but didn’t help out much on defense.
Who Looked Not-So-Good
Moritz Wagner picked a bad time to have an “off” game. He only scored 7 points, and he only played 24 minutes. He got open for 4 good 3-point attempts, and he bricked all 4 of them. He missed a contested layup on Michigan’s first possession, and he never seemed to get in sync after that.
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman also picked a bad time to have an “off” game. Unlike Wagner, he played a lot (38 minutes), but he only scored 2 points on 1-for-6 shooting (0-for-4 from 3-point range). He had 3 of Michigan’s 8 turnovers, and was also out of sync for the whole game.
Mark Donnal played 4 minutes, and didn’t take a shot.
Xavier Simpson played 5 minutes, and didn’t take a shot.
Who Else Played
No one else played.
Who Didn’t Play
The Big Picture
The season is over. No more “Big Picture”.
It was a good season that far exceeded expectations. It could have been ever better.
The season is over, so nothing is “Next”.
Check back next week for the last article of the season, including a Season Wrap-Up, Final Grades, and a Look Ahead.
It is time to move ahead from last year’s disappointing season. With all its high points on and off the field, the season ended with a painful thud. Three critical losses late in the season again provided no run at the B1G playoff or title. This and no national final four or title, together with no bowl victory, put to rest optimistic M fan expectations as they evaporated at seasons end.
LAST SEASON’S WOES, FINAL CALL: No matter that the Wolverine three late season losses were close. The Ohio State University victory drought continued at the hands of the Wolverines yet again, in what appeared a very winnable chance. The fact that this one occurred in double overtime did not alter the fact that it produced another very big ouch. That there was a controversial spot favoring the OSU offense didn’t matter either. The Wolverines did not score or defend well enough to win with everything on the line in crunch time in their most important outing of the season.
Then there was the final game in the Orange Bowl that ended with a controversial FSU off-side non call, perhaps preventing one more M offensive stab at victory. The real bugaboo was the Wolverine gift of the winning TD with 40 seconds on the clock. At clock zero, it was 33-32 for the wrong side. Another big ouch.
The season’s early promise became a miasma as those earlier promising season expectations evaporated. The harmful loss to Iowa that started the skid was simply inexplicable.
It is now time to drop kick our attention forward and attempt to estimate and evaluate what might lie ahead in this, Coach Harbaugh’s critical third year at the Michigan helm. It is the most critical of his Michigan tenure.
GOALS: Any attempted probe into the state of the football program early pre-season is always of questionable value, because the basis for much of its prognosis is what happened the prior season. Any prediction of a team’s future football fortunes is even more “iffy” for those programs attempting a spring to the top of the heap.
It is still true the Wolverines have made many significant steps forward under Harbaugh, with very few compensating steps backward, as their trajectory has mainly been forward and upward and all signs point to a continuance and improvement of rising fortune through achievement of goals.
It is easy to state goals pro-season. The difficult part is for the team to achieve them. The fun for fans is in watching them being achieved.
A LITTLE DEEPER INTO THE HARBAUGH ERA: It does not require too big a leap of one’s imagination to expect program progress to continue at an accelerating rate. High among those expectations are the things still unachieved, such as shots at a BIG Championship, and the pot of golden rewards that lie at the end of a successful National Championship Playoff rainbow. You know what they are. The team knows what they are. Harbaugh has established a culture and motivation that is superior. But first things come first. A critical first goal this year is participating in the Big Ten Championship Game. No Wolverine team heretofore has won the privilege.
Competing for these goals is boilerplate every year, but in Harbaugh’s third year expectations will rise.
These are his players, his coaches. They are not as experienced as last year’s edition, but it there are a number of sophomores with athletic talent, and college ready bodies, expected to contribute immediately. Foremost among that group is DE Rashan Gary who leads the group. He will be a prime time player this year. There are at least nine others in his class that played enough last season to be considered experienced this year. WR Eddie McDoom is an example. They will be bolstered by another fine recruiting class this year.
This year’s class had eleven early entries, with WR Donovan Peoples-Jones projected as perhaps the best athlete in the 2017 class, and perhaps even on the team. He will probably receive significant playing time this year if he can best the considerable competition in the position group. Cesar Ruiz is an able bodied, versatile OL that may be able to contribute, even fight for a starting spot. Many of this class will contribute to the two deep. We will get clues as to their identity as spring practice unfolds.
The perceived success of Wolverines this 2017 season to a large extent also depends on success in chasing the rainbows listed above, but this year it is overwhelmingly important that they whip OSU. It has to be done. There will again be a vapor of Scarlet and Gray smugness in the air this fall that can’t be tolerated in M Stadium. That has to be overcome this year. Hmm….maybe that aroma is more pungent than a sniff of smugness!
They must beat all three “States”: MSU and PSU and especially OSU in addition to competing for championships this season.
This is an important season for both this team and its coach. It is important that they surpass last season, which trended so well but finally failed in achievement of their prime goals, and it will be a difficult one. The schedule is tough, but MSU and OSU are at home.
All the aura of success that Harbaugh is managing off field must be equaled on the field to maintain. They must win against the best, home or away to compete for championships. There is work still to be done, and it won’t be easy. But we should expect additional success in year three.
THE QUARTERBACK POSITION: The QB positon has to continue to evolve, especially pass accuracy, and a total mastery of the long ball. This will have to happen with a brand new set of receivers. The fact that Wilton Speight threw for 2,538-yards last season, with 18 TDs, and only 7 interceptions, can’t be ignored.
Still he has to win the job again, and depth must be developed. Obviously, Speight is the experienced frontrunner, but Wilton Speight, Redshirt Brandon Peters, Jon O’Korn, and others will battle for the starting slot, and give no quarter. The QBs that do not achieve starter status may be asked to step in at a critical time during the season, after any offensive snap. It is very important every year that they are well schooled and ready.
This is Harbaugh’s forte. No doubt they will be ready. More Pep has been added to the mix
COACHING CHANGES AND COACHING RESPONSIBILITY CHANGES: I like the coaching additions and responsibility alterations they have made. Pep Hamilton has been added to the staff as Jed Fisch left. The additions and alteration are:
Pep Hamilton: Pep brings a wealth of QB coaching experience from the pro level as well as college as he replaces Jedd Fisch. I expect he will be solid there. He is M’s new Assistant Head Coach /Passing Game Coordinator.
Greg Frey: He was last at Michigan as Rich Rodriguez’s OL coach. He has been named Tackles and Tight Ends Coach. Does his presence mean some change in the blocking style of the OL, and maybe a little more spread? I like the split in the coaching of the OL. It may give the overburdened Drevno a little respite.
Jay Harbaugh: is now the Run Game Coordinator and Co-Special Teams Co-ordinator. Former RB coach Tyrone Wheatley has returned to the pros. There are some slings and arrows directed at Jay because he has no playing experience as a running back. My physician does not share my illnesses, but I expect help to effectively address the situation effectively through training. Jay will do the job.
Tim Drevno: He remains Offensive Coordinator/OL coach. He will coach the center and the two guards.
To accomplish their goals any year, the Wolverines have obstacles to surmount, and rebuilding an effective offensive line is one of them. It appears this task is at the top of the heap this season. Improved pass protection and a consistent running game are both necessary to success.
THE OFFENSIVE LINE: This year the offensive and defensive lines are depleted. Experienced and versatile starters Sophomore Left Guard Ben Bredeson returns, as does Mason Cole. Right Guard may be manned by hefty and athletic Freshman Michael Onwenu (350 plus). It is possible that Freshman Cesar Ruiz vies for a spot on the in the two deep. Maybe can compete for a starting position. He has the physical tools. I doubt he will be at center because Mason Cole is experienced there. There is speculation Cole might vacate center. There will be a constant battle pre-season and maybe into the season as the search for the best five for the best five intensifies.
RUNNING BACKS: The style of the RBs will change with the graduation of the hammer that was DeVeon Smith at the position. It looks like the frontrunner at TB at this time is Sophomore Chris Evans. He gained 7-yards an attempt last season, and sometimes he is lightening in a bottle. Ty Isaac is back for his 5th year. He progressed last year and has size and talent. Junior Karan Higdon had six TDs last year and should be improved this year. Kingston Davis has transferred.
Kareem Walker will challenge for time. His light went on in the December Bowl practices. A healed Drake Johnson would be most interesting, but has not yet been cleared yet for a sixth year to the best of my knowledge.
Freshmen O’Maury Samuels is especially quick and Kurt Taylor. He had an outstanding junior year in HS (1,631-yards). At FB, Kahlid Hill will be back for his 5th year. He had 16 TDs last season. He can catch passes.
WIDE RECEIVERS: This is probably the most interesting position group on the team at this time. The oft injured and now recovered Drake Harris, and Maurice Ways have to find gold at the Last Chance Mine, or they will be passed by. They will be pressed by sophomore’s Eddie McDoom and Kekoa Crawford. McDoom is fast and Crawford is faster. They are both now fairly experienced. Eddy McDoom had considerable experience last season, producing effective end arounds etc. Truth to tell he was more effective on the ground than receiving as that was the way he was utilized. But he can shine as a receiver, too.
The 2017 recruits are an outstanding group, with Freshman Donovan Peoples-Jones considered by most to be hyper talented.
Tarik Black has star potential in this own right.
Brad Hawkins spent a year maturing in prep academy, where he put up outstanding receiving numbers. He is 6’2″ and 205 lbs. H
Martin and Collins also are gifted receivers.
If it turns out that the offensive line can effectively pass protect, I think that by the end of the season this wide receiver position group will be the strength of the offense.
Junior Grant Perry is missing a golden opportunity for football advancement by being in the doghouse for alleged transgressions after last season’s win in East Lansing. His football future remains in limbo. Hope he can work through it. The future looms exceedingly bright for this hyper talented group. Experience is coming their way to blend with their talent.
TIGHT ENDS: Redshirt Junior Ian Bunting will obviously get more opportunities for catches with the progression of Jake Butt to the pros. At 6’7″ and 250 lbs. Bunting is a talented load, along with stable mate Tyrone Wheatley. At 6’6″ and 276 lbs., Wheatley packs a punch, and owns good hands. I expect both these guys to explode this year.
And there is more. Sophomore Nick Eubanks, 6’5″ and 236, but will fight this spring for playing time.
The Wolverines did not land a TE recruit in 2017, but collared a talented 6′ 8″; 236 lb. walk on who has room to grow, Carter Selzer. After a pair of Glasgow walk on successes, and another one in progress, one not cannot help appreciating walk-ons. Besides Selzer, the Wolverines have a number of them this year. If one or more rises it will be noted.
Devin Asiasi, who saw extensive playing time last year as a freshman, has transferred to UCLA for personal reasons. He needs to be closer to home. There are no hard feelings on either side of this transfer.
Part 2 will present defensive comments later in the week.