2022 Michigan Football Podcast — Team Awards, College Football Play-off Semifinal Preview 12-20-22

Phil and Clint and discuss the Michigan Football Individual Team Awards and preview the College Football Play-off Semifinal game vs TCU. With audio from RB Blake Corum, EDGE Mike Morris, LB Junior Colson, QB JJ McCarthy, Jim Harbaugh and many more.

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Phil Callihan 0:14
On this podcast we’re going to talk about the Michigan Football team awards. We’re going to preview the college Football playoff semifinal game versus TCU. And talk about some stats about the Michigan Football season so far. So Clint, when you look at the awards, you know, the most the most important one that stands out is the team MVP, the Bo Schembechler award won by Blake Corum. How do you feel about that? And do other ones stand out for you?

Clint Derringer 0:50
Yeah, I think I think naming Blake Corum the most valuable player makes, makes a lot of sense. I think the Michigan identity, especially offensively is centered around the run game. But you could argue that even the defensive identity is was kind of forged in spring ball and fall camp kind of going against the the offensive line. So I think the run game is really core to this team’s identity. And Blake Corum put together a historic season. That was unfortunately cut short. So I think that it makes a lot of sense, internal to the team into the program that the star player within the run game, be named the most valuable player, because he he’s really kind of the heartbeat of what this 2022 Michigan team was. So that made a lot of sense. And then he he also had a couple other awards that I think make make a lot of sense as well.

Phil Callihan 1:52
Yeah, and those other awards were toughest player and blue collar Awards, which definitely makes sense.

Blake Corum 1:59
But I’m more focused on my team right now, you know, I’m really focused on you know, beating Michigan State beating Ohio State again, you know, going to win the big 10 championship, but actually going all the way this year, you know, like, that’s my focus, like, I’m really not focused on myself goals, that’s gonna come like, the yards, the yardage yards per carry, yards after carry, like, oh, that’s gonna come but like, as long as you focus on the team, and that’s why I’m focused on focusing on you know, making sure my whole life get better, what can I do to help them get better? What can I do to help the defense get better, like, I always say, the team to team to team and that’s what I’m buying into, like, it’s really not about me, at the end of the day, I’m gonna, I’m gonna get my you know, but I’m here for my team. I’m gonna I’m gonna go all the way this year. And I think we can as long as we lock in, but to answer your question, I don’t really care but accolades, you know, like, this preseason is cool. It’s nice, you know, but, uh, I don’t care. I don’t really pay attention to that stuff.

Phil Callihan 2:50
It’s just a weird feeling for what a great season he was having to have his season cut short. Well cut short right there at the end. And, you know, there’s some questions, he hasn’t decided if he’s going to come back next season. So definitely, we’d love to see him come back. And, and, you know, hopefully be healthy for the complete year and come back and have a, you know, a possibly another Heisman trophy. Worthy season. But, again, wish them all the best. And, you know, we’ll stay tuned for that. Yeah, so it just, it is weird. And again, it’s a good weirdness to be looking forward to, you know, hopefully, you know, two more games, definitely one more game, but with him not being a part of it. It’s, it’s kind of an odd feeling there. So, again, wishing the best for him. Another award, Michigan’s top defensive lineman or outside linebacker was Mike Morris, the catcher award, you know, that that seems to be that seems to make a lot of sense to, you know, again, another player who missed or intermittent the last couple games, hopefully, he’s going to be back for the semi finals. But again, that word seems to make sense to you.

Clint Derringer 4:13
Yeah, I think that’s, he’s head and shoulders, clearly the most productive of those interior lineman and outside linebackers.

Mike Morris 4:25
I feel like it shows a lot. You know, like y’all said, The narrative is that Michigan has played hasn’t played anybody. And I feel like that’s not true. I feel like everyone the big 10 victims very slept on. I feel like everybody had big 10 can be anybody in the country. So Maryland was a great team, Indiana, as a as a good team. And Iowa was a really good team, great defense. And now at Penn State, you know, people want to look at it as we haven’t played anybody, but in reality we have and we showed up and showed out. And now people say we haven’t played anybody And now Penn State, again, we showed up, and we showed out. So that narrative can keep going. But a, we’re in the business of proving people wrong. So that’s all we got to do a show up and show up,

Clint Derringer 5:12
He’s capable of doing both moving inside, starting predominantly on the edge, but fully capable of moving inside. And his ability and that versatility is really the key that unlocks a lot of additional options for the the defensive coordinator, Jesse mentor, to be able to put different fronts out there and, and his ability to be the foundation of the defensive front, through the season allowed other guys to be put into positions where they could be successful, right, if, if certain edge guys were better at pass rush, you know, they were allowed to be in those special roles, because Mike Morris could move inside, in a pass rush package, for example, on standard downs, you know, he could play on the weak side or the strong side, which really allowed, you know, the linebackers and the interior the other interior lineman to, to really flow freely from inside out, so his role on this on this defense was, again, really foundational, and he his presence made other guys better. And, you know, kudos to Jesse mentor for using him and being as versatile as possible. And then really, both of those awards, you know, Blake Corum with the MVP, and blue collar and toughest player awards, and Mike Morris being kind of the anchor upfront with the with the Richard catcher award, not having those guys in the game against Ohio State, and then in the big 10 championship game and still managing to play well is one of the biggest, you know, shining stars that you could put on what this program accomplished so far in 2022, you know, to not have your your best players on both sides of the ball and still have the depth and versatility to play so well to this point is is quite a statement for for what this team has gone right now.

Phil Callihan 7:24
Absolutely. Another award, the Rogers that cough award, that goes to the team’s top linebacker went to junior Coulson, again, another good choice. And again, what’s interesting about I think this award and you know, the last word we just talked about is after how good last year’s defense was, there was this question hanging over this, this new group right this season. And, again, they have gone on rolling and in some ways, has even or in some ways have even, you know, eclipsed last year’s group, right?

Junior Colson 8:05
Or my says just dominate whoever’s in front of us and just make them at least you know, remember us five times. So like, we’re trying to be the best defense out there. So it doesn’t matter who we play. We’re always gonna give it our best shot.

Phil Callihan 8:17
So again, Jr. Coffin, a huge part of that, you know, add 97 tackles, and, you know, six tackles for loss.

Clint Derringer 8:26
Yeah, that you’re seeing the natural growth of a player last year it was a true freshman and start at that inside linebacker, which is really, really difficult. You can see giant steps forward from last year to this year in his sophomore campaign. And I think this is also really, really well deserved, I think he really played cleaner and made a lot fewer mistakes this year. And his athletic ability, again, was a big deal in terms of maintaining versatility for for the defense and allowing the coordinator to make a lot of different types of calls based on run or paths in down in distance, because his his ability to stay in coverage with with running backs and tight ends. really was was a giant difference this year. Then some of the defenses we’ve seen in the past where were inside linebackers were more of a liability. So for him to clean up the mental mistakes and really be able to play fast and lean on his athletic ability play sideline to sideline and sticking coverage with some of those more athletic, offensive weapons that were on Michigan’s calendar, I think really played a another big role, right? Not quite as foundational as what I was saying about Mike Morris, but certainly another big part of being able to do a lot of different things based on what what the coordinator expected to see from the opposing offense.

Phil Callihan 9:57
Next award Is the Hugh a traitor award presented to the team’s top offensive lineman, again, went to Olu Oluwatimi, and again, an obvious choice. You know, being a former amateur low level offensive lineman myself, I love to watch the line play. And the last two seasons Michigan’s line play has just been amazing. And olu was just next level great this year. So definitely worthy recipient of that award. And again, kind of a, you know, a poster guy for how successful players can be taking advantage of the transfer portal,

Olu Oluwatimi 10:42
you gotta be tough and you know, you’re gonna work, there’s gonna be some some tough days that you have to, that you have to go through. But you know, that, that allows us to play to what we play on, that allows us to play to where we play on Saturday, been able to last longer than teams out tough about fiscal them for 60 minutes. And, you know, sometimes it’s a grind, but you got to go through that grind, if you want to be great.

Phil Callihan 11:05
You know, we talked about when Harbaugh came in, thinking that Michigan would be Quarterback you. And one of the things that’s happening is we’re really turning into offensive line you and Running Back you and pretty much everything else you but really, it’s it’s amazing to see how this group and I know we’re going to talk about that a little bit more later. But again, great to see Oh, Lou, honored and definitely a great choice for that award.

Clint Derringer 11:36
Yeah, and he was a finalist for the Remington trophy last year as the best center in the nation, and then actually won the award this year. So all he did was take one more step forward and be in be the best at his position nationally. So the offensive line as a unit, one, the Joe Moore award for specific for offensive line play last year. And then when Alou came in as one of only two new players on the unit from last year to Michigan is very fortunate to have taken a step forward, especially at the center position, where you’re really kind of the hub of communication, obviously, across all five guys. So it was really is really fun to watch for for folks who who like the X’s and O’s, and blocking schemes. And he, again, is kind of the linchpin that allows this offense to do a lot of different things. And use a handful of running game concepts and be versatile against no matter what the defensive front is doing. They can they can make those calls and communicate them in real time and adjust. And it led to some really big plays and key moments as as we came down the homestretch. So, again, I agree with you another slam dunk, really easy pick for lineman of the year. And again, best at his position in the entire country is really saying something unless you ask the big 10 media, of course, where he was second team in the big 10.

Phil Callihan 13:19
Well, you know, big 10 media, right? So I sense Well, again, we’ll just leave that. So, you know, again, when you have a player who’s honored as the best in their position, and somehow comes up short, you know, in conference awards, you kind of have to wonder, and I don’t think it’s national that got it wrong there. So next one’s an interesting one. Brad Robins won the Bob you for B quest, which is awarded to the player who demonstrates the most enthusiasm and love for the University of Michigan, named for the great, Bob youfor, legendary announcer of Michigan Wolverines. I was, you know, grew up listening to him on the radio with my dad, and interesting that my first Michigan game at the Big House was actually his last game. So a nice tip of the hat to him, really glad that I was able to experience that. And of course, Unfortunately, he passed away of cancer shortly thereafter. But, again, what’s interesting about this award is that Brad won it for the second straight year. And typically, it goes to a senior so you don’t have that option. But again, I think it you know, goes to what a great player he is, and definitely how much enthusiasm he has for the team, the team, the team.

Brad Robbins 14:51
And, you know, that’s why we’re called the leaders in the best right like we have, we’re chock full of them, everybody, everybody on the team.

Phil Callihan 14:56
So again, you know, a great choice and it It’s interesting when we think about how great Michigan has been on offense, sometimes you, it’s easy to forget that Brad also had a really great year planning. Thankfully, we didn’t need it that often. But when he was called to perform, he did very well.

Clint Derringer 15:15
Yeah, I think this is one that is the least visible to kind of us as fans from outside the program to really show team spirit and enthusiasm, really, you’re talking about team gatherings, meetings, practice field, right locker room, all the stuff that we’re not privy to. So for him to win it two years in a row, he must really be one of those glue type guys that can keep things positive and usually can kind of keep things light in different scenarios and keep everybody focused on and having fun ways. They’re playing a game and doing the hard work that’s necessary to play the game. So it’s rare that you kind of see a specialist in a role like that. A lot of times those special team players, kickers and punters kind of get isolated on their own island, right? They get their own practice field area and they’re over there. There’s, you know, couple, a handful of players and their coach and they’re not as integrated. So it’s cool to see. Fred Robins really obviously integrated into the fabric of what makes this team so great. And that’s, that’s great for him.

Phil Callihan 16:22
Yep. And one of the key stats that jumps out is, you know, when he was punting, there were only six returns. So, definitely, you know, when he was called upon, he performed well. Next award, the Dr. Arthur Robinson Scholarship Award, and that went to Caden CalStar.

Clint Derringer 16:41
Yeah, I thought that co star would probably get the blue collar award that ended up going to Blake Corum. Not that I disagree with Blake Corum winning that but with Blake Corum taking his own Hall, I felt that this was kind of a shoo in for caving, colas, our

Caden Kolesar 16:56
complacency is the worst thing that can ever happen to a team like right when you get complacent. That’s when a team at you know what I mean. And so I mean, it’s really just keep in the same mindset every day, coming in every day with the same exact mindset and recommitting every time that you step into this building. That I mean, your goal is just to get better each day, no matter who you’re playing, no matter what’s going on that day, no matter how you’re feeling. Like you have to just keep getting better every day. Well, you just gotta you just gotta keep reminding yourself that like, you’re not just preparing for them. You’re you’re preparing for those other teams down the road. Because the season is a marathon, it’s not a sprint, like, there’s gonna be times where you’re not feeling up to it and you’re not feeling great. You’re like, Oh, I just want to go through the motions today. But you got to realize that like, hey, maybe the guy on that other team he’s he’s not doing that he’s working hard today. So I gotta I gotta work hard on him. I gotta practice harder than him

Clint Derringer 17:50
To see him get a different award certainly for scholarship and dedication to the team, especially on special teams. Where it’s a major expectation for Michigan sometimes high level programs don’t want their their people to play special teams. They don’t want players risking injury on that and we had that conversation a lot over the last two seasons of course with with Ronnie Bell being injured on a on a on apartment term play so gaping holes are being rewarded for his dedication to learning the defensive backfield as a safety and then also really playing across all of the different special teams. With Jay Harbaugh. Again, I think you’re seeing a theme of guys being rewarded for really being pivotal in the ability to give their coaches and their coordinators. The ability to do a lot of different things and Caden Colas are is another one of those guys he filled in as a returner. In the last two years, he plays on the edge he’s been a jammer, he’s been a gunner. And he’s always in the center, kind of taking the leadership and communication leadership role. So makes a lot of sense for him to get this type of reward. And another real glue guy that isn’t gonna get some of the other accolades and statistics, but really critical for Michigan as a program.

Phil Callihan 19:22
Now, the awards we just talked about, were the six original team awards. So these are the awards that have come down throughout the years. And there are a number of other awards that have been added through time. And again, we talked about the toughest Player Award, went to Blake Corum the blue collar award that went to Blake Corum. Next award up is Rookie of the Year offense and that went to Colston Loveland. What do you think about that one?

Clint Derringer 19:52
Not a slam dunk. Really little bit of a surprise when he played in his fifth game. With as D because Michigan was at the tight end position, thought he would probably get four games of experience and probably take a red shirt. But I think that he played in every single game this season. And that experience really helped him grow.

Colston Loveland 20:13
So I came in spring, I enroller came in spring and I remember like the first couple practices of spring ball, I was kind of getting bullied, you know, I just, it was like my Welcome to College moment. And so it took it took me it took me a while to kind of get used to it and it’s really more technique over anything, you know, get being in the right spot, getting your feet down in the right spot. And that’s, that’s kind of just came with, you know, being the coach Coach Newsome and being around the players and then been able to kind of get those things out pretty good. And that’s that’s, that’s what helped me.

Clint Derringer 20:44
And now he’s really quite a weapon to to really be reckoned with. And defensive coordinators are going to have to account for where Colson Loveland is on the field. And I’m sure as he gets older and stronger, he’s going to continue to develop as a blocker as the rest of the Michigan tight ends have. So really a slam dunk, I think, for rookie, in terms of true freshmen, stepping into a really tough position like tight end. So great job by Colson level in this year and exciting to see what he can do in the next in the next game or two.

Phil Callihan 21:21
And it just shows how deep Michigan is, at many positions, like, like you said, coming into this year would have been really easy to anticipate that he may have been redshirted, and you know, and here are called into frontline really important, you know, situations, and, you know, definitely stepped up and got the job done. So, again, a player who kind of emerged in the second half of the season. And, you know, we will continue to expect great things from next ward Rookie of the Year on defense split between Mason Graham and will Johnson. And, again, two more good choices. What are your thoughts on those players?

Clint Derringer 22:06
Just amazing, that two high level units, Michigan’s offensive unit and their defensive unit had room for these true freshmen to come in and learn on the job. I mean, it speaks a lot to their talent, of course, they’ve got to be good enough to be there. But it takes a little bit of vision and foresight from the coaching staff to be able to put them in and allow them to make some mistakes early on as true freshmen and then coach and help develop the improvement based on those mistakes and then see what we’ve seen at the end of the year. So we’ll Johnson obviously huge game in the big 10 championship game two interceptions, you know, everybody is just fly high with with what he’s capable of.

Question 22:53
JJ, I don’t know how much you guys like face. Will Johnson in practice? Two picks today ball Hawking? Is that what he’s like in practice? or what have you seen that he’s developed like that?

J.J. McCarthy 23:06
100%. I mean, he’s a, he’s a freshman that came in that he didn’t play like a freshman. And he just had so much God given ability that was backed up with his tremendous work ethic ethic and his skills. I mean, his skills is top of top of the charts, but I just can’t wait to see him keep growing, keep grooming into the Great player he’s going to become. And I mean, every every day in practice is just a blessing to go up against that guy because he really is the truth.

Clint Derringer 23:37
He really is drawing a lot of comparisons, intentionally, of course, to Charles Woodson, he wears number two at Michigan and plays corner. He did that by design by his own design. So he’s going to always draw that comparison. And it’s going to be fascinating to see him grow and develop. And then Mason Graham is an interior defensive lineman nose guard, that there’s no way that a true freshman, I would have never ever expected a true freshman to step in and make so many plays.

Mason Graham 24:12
Yeah, these college linemen are obviously bigger than the offensive ones I faced in high school, but I played one of the best league so best competition coming out of high school. Coach herb has really prepared us and all the rest of the Stringtown staff on just be prepared for these games with this specific stuff for these games. So it really helps like spring training, winter training, even during season. It helps all earlier in camp, like probably like first week. I started I wasn’t starting to go with the ones. So that’s like kind of a point where I started to realize that was probably going to play this year

Clint Derringer 24:52
at that position just physically, to have been playing high school Football this time last year and To be able to step in, and physically be capable of hand to hand combat against big 10 offensive lineman usually upperclassmen on the interior, right. And make so many huge plays, especially third and fourth down short plays, where he’s not just kind of borrowing and holding the line, but he sheds blocks and makes tackles in the backfield. He is He may be the player that I’m the most excited about over the next two or three seasons. To see what he did as a true freshman is totally out of character very much reminds me of what Aiden Hutchinson did, as a true freshman having an impact on the defensive line and kind of really opened my eyes. But Hutchinson was doing that mostly on the edge, which is, you know, one step maybe easier physically, then to really be battling inside there, like Mason Graham did, it’s going to be he’s, he’s going to really make some noise coming up soon. Keep your eyes on number 55.

Phil Callihan 26:07
What was interesting about that, you know, to your point is they brought him out to talk to the media, really early this season. And I was kind of surprised, because again, like you said, to freshmen, and I’m like, Well, what are you doing, right? Like, like are we going to be sometimes you’ll see players and they don’t make a big impact. And you kind of get the impression that they want to get them experience talking to the media, right? And it’s more for their sake, then an opportunity for us to talk to them. And then as the season progressed, you got it. It’s like, oh, this is a player of note, this is a player you’re going to be hearing about. And again, just, like you said, an amazing circumstance for a true freshman to come in and really dominate in critical situations. And again, another tip of the hat to the depth that Michigan has, okay, I mean, you have depth, you have new guys coming in, you have opportunities to play as freshmen. And these guys are playing not just to get experience they’re playing because they’re ready. So definitely really speaks to the coaching staff, and speaks to how the whole team is working together to you know, get these guys ready to play. So, you know, in the past seasons, you know, we’d always say, Well, it’s the next man up mentality, right? And, you know, the expectation is for the position. Well, that always doesn’t always work out. But these last two seasons, it really is. And this is an example of that. Next award, another familiar name, Rookie of the Year special teams. Colston, Loveland and Jimmy were older.

Clint Derringer 28:02
Yeah, I would say, you know, the reason that we saw these guys getting time on offense and on defense to the role they’re getting in, at linebacker is because of their dedication on on special teams, you know, they come in, give 100% effort learn quickly show that they can handle the speed of the game at the college level. And that led to increased opportunities for them, both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. So really coming in and dedicating yourself to special teams is a good idea for any incoming freshmen. And those two guys. You know, it’s good to see the program giving them some accolades on top of that, especially, you know, Jimmy rover.

Phil Callihan 28:45
So, Offensive Player of the Year, JJ McCarthy. What do you think about that one?

Clint Derringer 28:54
I think it makes sense. Obviously, with Blake Corum getting the team MVP, they wanted to give another very high level award to a guy that has made a huge difference this year. And JJ McCarthy, his ability to kind of maintain the Quarterback play that we saw last year and 21, from Cade McNamara and add dimension on top of that both with a little bit more arm strength, and the ability to hit a couple more intermediate throws into tighter spots because of that arm strength. And then obviously his ability to run impacts the the defense and makes them account for the Quarterback in the run game, which was not something that we had with with Cade McNamara on the field last year. So again, he is just mere presence back there, taking a snap made a huge difference in what this offense is capable of, and then being the leader in the huddle and on the sidelines and in the law. Kareem JJ McCarthy really excelled all the way through the year. And I still think that there’s room to grow there. And he’s he’s going to continue improving on the physical parts of the games, and he’s going to really have to be great. In in the college Football playoffs for Michigan to accomplish what they want to accomplish.

Phil Callihan 30:20
One of the amazing things about JJ this season, for me watching him is there was a lot of questions through the first half, I’d say the first three quarters of the season, about the long passing game. And what was amazing about JJ is that his confidence was never shaken. He, he said, it’s coming. Right. And I remember thinking, you know, prior to the Ohio State game, I mean, like, the week before, he’s like, Yeah, you’re gonna see it,

J.J. McCarthy 30:57
you know, everything’s a work in progress. And obviously, we have so much so much high expectations for us as an offense, especially passing games. So of course, everyone’s looking at that gap. Like, why isn’t it there, and there’s really no ceiling to it. So there’s always going to be questions of why. So there, which should be thrown for foreign yards, a game all that. But, you know, our identity is a smash fest, and we love to run the rock, we love to do it and inflict our force on any opponent, we play. So a lot of the meat on the bone and still on the bone, and it’s ready to come off next Saturday.

Phil Callihan 31:30
And I remember thinking, wow, we’ve gone through 11 games, and we haven’t quite seen it consistently yet. Okay. But he had no doubt. And then we saw it. Right. And I think it shows kind of, again, as you mentioned before, we don’t always get to see everything that happens behind the scenes, or we don’t have a really good window into what happens in the practice. But you can imagine JJ being that enthusiastic leader, you know, continuously. And I think that’s, again, you have to you have to perform, right. But I can easily see, you know, in future season, JJ getting that spirit and enthusiasm award to because he just he has that mentality, he has that. That leadership. So I think that, again, great award for him, you know, no question there. And again, at this point, you know, you have the awards that Blake Corum are already received. And this is a good place to to honor JJ McCarthy. Next award up is Defensive Player of the Year mozzie Smith.

Clint Derringer 32:49
I think this one also makes sense given that Mike Morris already had one of the original six awards given. I think, again, Mike Morrison, his versatility was really critical. But Mazi Smith and his his mentality on the inside his ability to really battle and accept kind of the grunt work role on the interior there where most of what Mazi Smith has to do is eat double teams and keep the linebackers free and keep the edge guys free to make plays. So for him to really excel and still be able to make some very key plays from the interior there was huge. Again, I think that he’s he’s a foundational piece he and Mike Morris are the reason that this defense can do all of the different things that they do on the back end,

Mazi Smith 33:45
stopping the run is key in every game, every college Football game, especially in a conference, like the big 10 We see teams who, you know, get past heavy on a team to keep a balance rushing attack, you know, they’re usually able to keep the defense on his toes. And no surprise, that defense with certain plays explosive. So last year, you know, they did a great job. And they had a special back back there. And the boys play hard no matter what. So it’s but it’s always, always important to stop, just like any games will stop doing in this game. They won’t be good.

Clint Derringer 34:25
And mozzie Smith, really his role and ability to still make plays from a role really you’re just trying to get a guy to eat up space and not get driven backwards. And he does that plus some. So I think this is a really huge honor. For a guy that’s in in a position that’s not going to get a lot of statistical shout out and accolades. And clearly the staff wanted to make sure that everybody knew that his role is really crucial for the success of the defense. So I’m Glad to see him be able to get some some positive recognition.

Phil Callihan 35:05
Absolutely. Next award up, special teams Player of the Year, AJ Henning?

Clint Derringer 35:14
Yeah, I think this is another place where they wanted to highlight somebody who accepted a role that maybe is less than we would have thought a couple of years ago AJ heading even last year got a lot more coaches on the offensive side of the ball than he did this year. I know he battled some injuries a little bit this year. But his development back there as a punt returner from the second game of last year after Ronnie Bell got hurt through last year and then through this year, his development has been really really great and where he’s made some big plays really the value to the team is his ability to much more quickly read the ponds that go up into the air and catch the ball much more reliably.

A.J. Henning 36:04
Yeah, you know after last season, I really went back and looked at the film and just really just looked at each return that I had last year balls and I felt like I could have filled it that I didn’t some balls that I felt like I feel that that you know dropped. Just honing in on the little details alignment assignment, the little keys keep your your your body square keeping your elbows in tight. You know I got with Brad Robins you know just talking with him the different types of types of balls that I’m going to see different types of way ways the punter will hit it to see the way they’ll spin off the foot. You know, I just really honed in on all those little details to get better. And with repetition you you always get better so you know just keep repping keep you know bringing a punter along Tommy Dolman or Brad Robins, you know, getting with those guys just catching balls, after hours just getting those reps in

Clint Derringer 36:53
and not allow those punts to roll. And what we call hidden yardage, right giving up 1520 Sometimes 25 yards of roll on those punts. And that happened a lot early on when he first took over that position. But now he’s really much more reliable asset back there as a returner, still extremely dangerous to take it back to the house at any given time. And again, I think the program and the coaching staff wanted to reward his selflessness of giving up a certain amount of touches on the offensive side of the ball and really embracing his special teams role and he gets named special teams player of the year because of

Phil Callihan 37:38
Next up offensive skill Player of the Year. Ronnie Bell

Clint Derringer 37:42
Yeah, I would say no doubt are here, right? Of course Blake Corum is a skill player already had an award Quarterback skill position already had an award, Ronnie Bell is is has been the best receiver in the program for three or four seasons now and again took another step forward. In terms of making a couple big plays, I’d like to see Ronnie be a little bit more consistent. Just just catching the ball. I think most of the time he’s trying to try to make plays with his legs you know kind of running before he catches it. But he’s this is another slam dunk if he is without a doubt. The the most crucial skill player

Ronnie Bell 38:25
So he’s moody made it man like just to pull the wind out like this is something that like, it ain’t easy to do, man. He says tough game tough opponent. You know, like we said we had some guys down, missed some plays here and there. And so to win as ugly as I was and still come out on top, you know, I think we’ve done with seven going into fourth quarter to come out on top managers. It feels really good. And yeah, I think I think everything about it is the culture that the players have said and the coach Coach Harbaugh has, you know, flooded into the building every single day. And it’s just completely shifted man. It’s not even it’s not even the ones that didn’t make it through 2020 Man is it’s a whole different whole different team now man so

Clint Derringer 39:10
and we really saw the rest of the wide receiver room have to be forced to develop last year in his absence. And now adding him back into that same wide receiver room was was a really great reminder. Oh yeah, by the way, we still got our best wide receiver back this year. And it’s great to see him and his enthusiasm and leadership in all corners of a Football game so well deserved skill Player of the Year for Ronnie Bell.

Phil Callihan 39:38
The next award might be the most surprising to me. And again, the one that I’m actually the happiest to see. defensive skill Player of the Year, Mike seine was still and again for a player to switch from offense to defense and he Have this impact is really impressive.

Clint Derringer 40:03
You’ve brought it up a couple of times where we heard that there were rumors swirling that even with the entry of Dax Hill into the draft last year, that Michigan was still going to be able to cover almost as well in the slot. And certainly sounded like offseason bluster, and I think it’s held true. Mike Samer, still repeatedly is stands up in the in the biggest moments, including what might be the play of the year in the Ohio State game with him breaking up that pass in the endzone from from the tight end in the fourth quarter,

Mike Sainristil 40:46
I think was the same as the grit determination, the underdog mindset that we had last year, just you know, the Michigan versus everybody mindset was different. It’s just the fact that it’s not the same team. As I say, we don’t have the same guys defensively. When I’m saying Guys, we have majority saying guys offensively. But you know that identity is not the same as what it was last year. What worked for last year’s team is not the same thing that’s working right now. You know, we have we just, we play with it with a different attitude. You know, not to take that away from last year’s team. But you know, right now what we’re doing is, we’re just we just have a mindset of Nothing is good. Nothing that gets in our way is gonna stop us. And you know, that’s just what we we pride ourselves on.

Clint Derringer 41:28
Truly remarkable season. Really, a lot more. You could pour almost every accolade to Michael Sandler still with what he did. being selfless, changing positions, showing leadership and all in all positions, doing a lot of hard work, obviously to be to excel in as a receiver last year, and now as a defensive back, so he deserves all of this and more certainly, and it’s going to be very interesting to see what type of big plays he still has in store for the remainder of the season.

Phil Callihan 42:04
Absolutely. Next award specialist of the year Jake moody.

Clint Derringer 42:10
Yeah, it’s hard hard to give reward to the punter Brad Robbins certainly deserved and then AJ heading special teams, the player here. And then Jake moody. Oh, by the way, just the best kicker that we’ve ever had in the program.

Jim Harbaugh 42:23
But watching Michigan Football since I was a kid, pretty, pretty decent historian of Michigan Football, and I am I am nominating him for legendary status

Clint Derringer 42:37
probably deserves some type of award and accolades. So I got to figure out a way to highlight him. So I’m glad that they figured out how to do that. And again, I would say over 100 years of Michigan Football Jake moody is the best kicker and I don’t think that is really stands for much debate. So that’s that’s a pretty high praise. And one more title and more trophy for him to have is great.

Phil Callihan 43:08
Most Improved Player offense. Karson Barnhart.

Clint Derringer 43:13
Yeah. Barhart, a couple seasons has been solid along the offensive line. He’s gained a lot of game experience in the 2020. And the 21 seasons, battled Andrew Stuber for playing time, a little bit last year, along with Trent Jones, and then Stuber goes to the NFL. And Barnhart and Trent Jones battle it out. Trinity Jones starts out at right tackle this year and gets hurt, giving the opportunity to Carson Barnhart to really settle into one position instead of moving all across the line. And I think this really shows how the staff saw him grow and finally kind of settled into that position.

Karsen Barnhart 43:57
I said, the difference is just being able to know that I’m starting and going out there first, and but nothing’s really changed that much other than just going out there first, because I still prepare the same as I did when I was a backup and I still do the same all the same things just to get better and better each day and every week and go out there and do my best to try to win. Having a defense like going against guys like Chris Jenkins, mozzie, Avi, all of them just gets us prepared for Saturday’s and we feel like they’re the best defense in the country. And having them to go against every every week allows us to go out there and put our perform the way we do on Saturdays,

Clint Derringer 44:37
where even once Trent Jones was healthy, I think Barnhart had kind of wrestled the job back away from him. So kudos to him. Another really critical piece of an offensive line. That continues to be the heartbeat of the offense. So gratulations to Carson Barnhart finally kind of set filling into a position and showing a willingness to keep competing for his job every day.

Phil Callihan 45:07
Next award most improved player on defense, Mike Barrett, another well earned award.

Clint Derringer 45:18
Yeah, we’ve spent a couple of different podcasts really highlighting what what Mike Barrett was had done in those individual games and put together finally a full season from start to finish, where he was really, really great consistently. And again, this is a spot where injury kind of dictated that he had to go in there. A previous kind of hybrid Space Player Viper and browns defense moves inside to inside linebacker, a lot of work to do to mentally understand that new position to physically try to grow into that position, and then make the best of what he was capable of. And he really became a huge piece of allowing Jesse Minter to be versatile again, his coverage ability. Next to junior Coulson is a huge reason that shored up a big weakness that we’ve seen in previous Michigan defenses, where linebackers are consistently exposed in coverage. And I think Michael Barrett and Jr, Coulson their athletic ability was a huge part of shoring that up. And for him to to show the leadership and perseverance to really take on every challenge that every season has brought to him, and always come out the other end a little bit stronger and a little bit better. I think he deserves a most improved player, certainly. And also, even more than that, I think, mentally and physically, one of the tougher players that we’ve got in the program.

Phil Callihan 47:01
Absolutely. And we’ve talked about this before, again, you were slated to be Viper, and you know, could have been disappointed at the change and defensive schemes could have left the program and the culture

Michael Barrett 47:15
of the builder and the culture of just Michigan Football is just a place that that’s hard to leave. I knew once once everything changed, it changed for the better understand my pain. And I just feel like just that quarter changed her just made me want to stay even more

Phil Callihan 47:35
stuck around and really showed his grit. And it’s become a key key part of of the defense. Not only last year, but but definitely this year. So again, glad to see him. Him honored and recognized. Next award, most improved player, special teams.

Clint Derringer 47:58
And another couple guys that I think are really really physically talented human Dennis has seen some time in wide receivers in a corner and hypnosis in the tight end room. So I would take this as a signal that these guys are ready to take the next step probably start making some bigger plays on special teams, and will likely also be rewarded with more playing time on the offensive and defensive units as we go into 2023 season.

Phil Callihan 48:31
So the next awards are recognize recognizing scout team players. We have scout team player of the year on offense Zack Peterson, scout team player of the year on defense, Jesse Madden and scout team player of the year on special teams, Joe Metzker.

Clint Derringer 48:49
Yeah, these are guys that are almost impossible to see outwardly for us as fans. So must be really, really a celebration for those players and for their families to get get the recognition for doing a lot of hard work scout team is very difficult, not only because you are typically younger and a little bit less talented than the first teamers and second teamers that you’re playing against, but you’re also trying to learn a new offensive or defensive scheme every single week right to mimic what the other team is going to be doing. So to excel in that role is really critical. Our teams are the best Football teams have a lot of versatility and can put a good look onto the practice field every day. So kudos to the program for rewarding three scout team players of the year for being really embracing that role in what is sometimes very thankless. And I hope that the that those players and their families get to celebrate and a lot of times that can also be a sign I’m that, that this is the a person that may be a future contributor. I know, I believe a few seasons ago Cade McNamara happened to win this on the offensive side of the ball. So keep your eyes peeled for those names may become more regular household names in the future.

Phil Callihan 50:19
Absolutely. And, again, all of these players have, hopefully two more games to continue to making impact. So looking forward to that. So Clint, the speaking of potentially two more games, the next game up is a big one. TCU. But before we get to that, you have been working on crunching numbers. And I think you’ve exposed some really cool things. Statistically, would you like to talk about some of that?

Clint Derringer 50:58
Yeah, last year, in the preseason, between the 2020 season and the 21 season, you and I, our biggest question mark was whether or not Sharon Moore could step into the shoes left by Ed Warner. Without much drop off, we expected maybe a little bit of drop off, given that Ed Warner had been coaching offensive line for, you know, 20 plus seasons, show more was kind of getting his first crack at it coming from being tight ends coach. So we were just hoping to kind of maintain and stay at a similar level. And we wanted to measure to see whether or not that had happened. And I posted this morning, kind of an extension of that, because last year, we measured that, and the offensive line in the run game as measured by expected points added or EPA really took a jump forward. Not only did Sharon Moore as offensive line coach, take a step forward or maintain what had been done by Warner, which was pretty consistent with what had been done with his predecessor, the run game has taken a huge jump forward, almost doubling what our average EPA output per play was in 21, and then increased by another 45% from 21 to 22. So what Sharon Moore has done in that offensive line room combined with the work that has happened in the Running Back room with Mike Hart, really has turned the program completely from middle of the road into really elite. And I say that, because Jim Harbaugh has always wanted the run game to be core to his philosophy, his offensive philosophy, and the toughness in the trenches really being key to the whole program philosophy. And they were okay at that in the past. And the program was okay, because of that. Right. What they wanted the core of their identity to be was was fine, better than average. But for it to really take a jump forward under Sharon Moore’s leadership. And again, adding the Running Back coach Mike Hart to the mix, really has what put has what has pushed the program from, okay, probably a second tier two big 10 champions back to back, second time in the college Football playoff consecutively. And really a reasonable chance to be able to win their semifinal game and challenge for a national title. All of that starts with Jim Harbaugh taking a chance on giving Sharon Moore the promotion in the offseason from 2020 to 21 to the offensive line, and then promoting him again in 22. To offensive coordinator. So really just wanted to kind of extend those numbers that we had looked at in the past and highlight again, that I think Sharon Moore is one of the most underrated coaches that we see that we know of our program within the big 10. And likely nationally, he’s really going to be he’s going to be in a lot of conversations about taking over a program of his own at some point in the future, and it’s well deserved. And I’m glad that we’ve got him. I’m glad that we’ve had him for as long as we have. And I hope that he stays. But if not, I will be a fan of his for a very long time. And what he’s done is super, super impressive.

Phil Callihan 54:49
Yeah, and I think it goes back to the way Jim Harbaugh was running this program, right where I remember when Ed Warner left I was concerned, because in a superficial way, there were a lot of good. There are a lot of good things happening, right. But again, at a superficial level, like many coaches would have been fine with the job that he was doing. And again, you know, sending guys to the NFL. And you took a really hard look at the running stats and said, you know, could have been a lot better. And, you know, this comes back to many coaches would have been fine with that. But Jim Harbaugh said we needed to get better, right? And made a change. And that change has turned out great. And again, even talking about my car, right? It would be really easy to say, well, you’re bringing an alum back, right. It’s, it’s something for the boosters and it’s something you know, it’s it’ll be a popular move. But not all alums are great coaches. And when you look at the stats, Mike Hart is popular, and you know, is beloved by the fan base. But he’s also a really good coach. And, you know, it’s interesting that over Harbaugh’s time here, he has not hesitated to make changes. And again, you know, I keep, you know, keep spinning the dials to get things, right. And the last two seasons, things are coming up very, very right. And I think that looking back, they were not obvious moves. And you got to give him credit, you got to give credit to Sharon Moore and my card. And of course, the players who were, who were taking the hits doing the work. But you got to give credit to Harbaugh and everybody for working together. And, you know, again, this is a guy several times over the last three seasons, people in the fan base, we’re ready to show him the exit. And you know, you, you hang with it. And, you know, comes back to, you know, those who stay will be champions? Well, you know, Michigan recently updated the welcome area, to Schembechler hall with pictures of them being champions again, and again, really great to see it working out, but it just doesn’t happen. It’s not a mistake. It’s not random. Okay. And you can look at, you know, the work that the coaches are doing, the coaches, the work that the players are doing, and the statistics bear it out. And, you know, you mentioned this earlier, we’ve mentioned this in previous podcast, Michigan, put a beating on Ohio State down their best player on offense and down their best player on defense, and didn’t miss a beat. Right. So, you know, we’re going to talk about, you know, the college Football playoffs. There’s the potential for Michigan to see Ohio State again. And, you know, a lot a lot needs to happen for that to happen. But, you know, I don’t sweat Ohio State right now. So. So, Clint, speaking of the college Football playoffs, how do you feel about the upcoming the upcoming game versus TCU?

Clint Derringer 58:22
I think it starts when we talk about TCU. It starts with their Quarterback, Max Duggan, he is really a dynamic player, kind of a more experienced version of JJ McCarthy can make big plays with his arm and with his legs, and has shown really physical and mental toughness, through this season. physical toughness really banged up in the big 12 championship game that I watched from start to finish. And that continued making plays, you know, he scores a touchdown late in the fourth quarter and is so physically exhausted that he can barely barely stand up and get back to the sidelines. So really kind of a warrior mentality just kind of emanates off of Max dug in at the Quarterback position. And the Mental Toughness where this season for them really was a lot of comeback wins and a lot of very close games. So for them to run through the regular season, undefeated 12 Oh, losing overtime in the big 12 championship game to Kansas State with it already beaten, really speaks to their ability to to rise up in the most crucial, crucial moments. And I think it as you and I have talked about many times in the last few seasons, that is directly attributed to, in my opinion, leadership, right both starting with the coaches and on the sideline, but really In the moment, it’s all about your player leaders, your best and mentally strongest players stepping up and making big plays in big moments. That is what it’s all about. So, for TCU, it all starts with the Quarterback and kind of keeping him contained. They have some really, really talented receivers. I think Michigan will employ a similar coverage scheme that they’ve used the last two games. First to kind of keep Ohio State from major explosive plays. We saw it again, against Purdue, where they really just wanted to limit the ability for those receivers to take the top off the defense, they’re willing to concede some completions and moving the chains but they really wanted to avoid explosive touchdown plays. I think that will stay consistent. But there’s going to have to be some added wrinkles against TCU. Because Devin can really hurt you with his legs. So they will Sonny dykes, the head coach at TCU will will have some creative ways for Dugan to make some plays, and to have the ball in his hands with an option to run our paths. So Michigan is going to have to kind of tweak what’s been the core of their defensive game plan these last couple of weeks. So I’m excited to see exactly what Jessie Minter comes up with. On the other side of the ball, Michigan is probably going to be down. You know Blake Corum had surgery as the still, you know, still walking around with crutches. From everything, there was a little bit of confusion about what his surgery and what type of rehab, there would be, I would, I would imagine that he’s out. But I don’t know that we’ve seen anything definitive from Blake Corum directly but 99% chance that he’s out for this game. I don’t believe Donovan Edwards is going to be all the way back to 100%, he’ll probably still have to be wearing something protective. On his hand, given the nature of that, that injury. If it’s something that needs to be surgically repaired, then they’ll likely still have to put the protective equipment onto his hand. So that’s a little bit problematic. But as we’ve spent a lot of time earlier, talking about the core of what this offense is going to do, is rooted in the offensive line and their ability to execute on a couple of key zone plays a couple of key gap concepts and to be versatile and how they’re going to change based on the TCU front TCU right now as a bass 335 defense that may sound familiar from the rich rod days. They’re not a particularly elite defense there, depending on where you look. TCU ranks anywhere from 23rd down to 35th in defense nationally, especially against the run. So I expect Michigan to keep their their main philosophy, they’re really going to start and end with the run game. And it’ll be interesting to see exactly how they mix in different paths, concepts, and try to eat up a couple chunks with JJ McCarthy, finding guys likely over the middle, depending on how how TCU decides to play. But I think it’ll be Michigan’s receivers and tight ends, trying to find space against the linebackers and safeties over the middle of the field, where Michigan will try to make a chunk plays, but I expect to see, you know, probably 55% up upwards of 60% run plays. And when they do pass it, they’re going to try to get 15 to 25 yard chunks over the middle. And I expect them to be able to find success. This is not not quite as strong a defense as they’ve seen elsewhere that they tend So Michigan should be able to put up a lot of points.

Phil Callihan 1:04:24
What I find when I look at it when I look at this game, is that last season TCU was five and seven, right? He had a coaching change many of the same players and caught fire this year. And it reminds me of being okay, they’re out of phase with Michigan. But it reminds me of kind of Michigan last year or Michigan came out of the COVID year just just hugely disappointed with the results and just caught fire right That’s what TCU reminds me of this year. And, again, going back, I watched much of that game that you were talking about. And I’ve gone back and watched a lot of tape. And again, a really resilient team. Okay. And I think that this is a team that, I think was fortunate many times, but again, you know, you got to, you got to win the games, but definitely dodged some bullets, right. And that shows they’re resilient. And it has increased their resiliency, right? This is not a team you want to leave hanging around. Okay. And it’s also a team that even if Michigan gets up two or three touchdowns, I don’t think you can sleep on because they have come back before. And, and I will tell you, that performance that we saw in the big 12 championship game, was one of the most amazing performances from a Quarterback I’ve ever seen. Okay. And I will tell you also, and I think a lot of people would agree that TCU got screwed by the refs. Okay. And very easily could have won that game. You know, there were some real questionable reviews. You know, thinking specifically of when they were going down to potentially score and when, and, oh, well, when did the ball come out? Well, wait a minute, where was the ball when they went over? And and, again, I, if I’m TCU, I have a real bad taste in my mouth. And a lot of a lot of a boy, what’s the word? I’m looking for? A lot of a chip on my shoulder. Okay. And we probably, you know, we had this great comeback, maybe maybe should have won that game. Okay. And everybody is overlooking us in the semifinal game. You know, I think they’re going to they’re going to put up a really good show. And I, you know, I do think Michigan is going to win, I think Michigan outmatches them and some of the skilled positions. I think Michigan has a better defense. I think Michigan has the potential to contain their offense. But you know, they have a puncher’s chance. Okay, again, I, I think this is going to be I’m really excited to see this game. I’m, again, I think, like I said, it’s kind of the mirror image of Michigan last year. And hopefully, we will play the role of Georgia and, you know, knock the snot out of them. But, you know, I’m keeping an eye on this TCU team, not only you know, when Michigan plays them this year, but I think as Harbaugh would say they are an ascending program, and definitely looking forward to how Michigan will match up with them.

Clint Derringer 1:08:10
Yeah, I think if things go according to plan, Michigan is able to kind of dictate the speed and pace and rhythm of the game, then, then it’ll look very similar to what we’ve seen for pretty much the whole year, maybe close game through the first two quarters, you know, one score game at halftime, either way. And then really, once the adjustments are in, and you’ve been able to kind of really implement everything that you want against the game plan that we see from TCU. Then typically, we see Michigan pull away. That is very, very possible, certainly. But the really the dynamic playmakers that TCU has on offense, that’s the X Factor if they can find a way to make some explosive plays to both leverage some of the passing success that Purdue was able to find against the Michigan zone defense and then also use their athleticism in turn some of those into big plays and points, then then all that really changes it. So the challenge for me you know, in my eyes is really on the Michigan defense to to be able to you know, the front seven really have to be able to keep Max Duggan, kind of hemmed in and when he does use his legs, you know, keeping those scrambles to you know, less than 10 yards really keeping an eye on him on third downs and fourth downs where where I think they’ll lean on him for big conversions. We’ll see some of those high leverage plays. That’s the first challenge and then finding a way to keep your safeties over the top of their most explosive receivers. That’s that’s going to be the biggest challenge and where the game will be decided if Michigan’s defense is able to kind of keep them inside and in front, as we say, right? Don’t Don’t let them go over top of the defense. Don’t let them beat you up the sidelines, then I expect this to look and feel a lot like Michigan’s big 10 games.

Phil Callihan 1:10:37
So watching this game, or expecting this game and watching this team play. Okay, Ohio State’s a front runner, right? They get ahead, and they expect the team to roll over for him. And when Michigan caught up on Ohio State, Ohio State hung their hat and quit. Okay, and I’d say for the second year in a row, I don’t think there’s any quit and TCU and I say that with respect meeting, take care of your business. Okay. Specifically a defense but if this team’s down two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, they their head won’t be hanging there will be looking to come back. And again, alter I say that with respect. Okay, so again, I’m really looking forward to this game.