Grading The Performance: Central Michigan

The GoodJibreel Black 3

Defensive Front Seven– Losing Jake Ryan was a definite blow to the defense but front 7 looked no worse for wear without the presence of #47. The front seven was as fast as the unit has been since 2006. Good pursuit is always preached by defensive coaches but the group of Saturday went above and beyond, often getting to their spots well ahead of their offensive counterparts. The LBers flowed to the ball with exceptional speed and quickness and were solid in their open field tackling. The line didn’t get quick as consistent a push or rush early as Greg Mattison probably would have liked, but they rebounded nicely in the second half and were active throughout. Jibreel Black and Mario Ojemudia flashed the ability to beat one on one blocks that the coaches have been pushing for since in the end of last season.

The Bad

Turnovers – Cutting down the number of turnovers has been a major point of emphasis that has been preached by both Brady Hoke and Al Borges. The first game often has its share of hiccups but the Wolverines did an average job of taking care of the football. The two interceptions have been a major point of discussion since Saturday, but there was also a muffed punt by Dennis Norfleet early in the 1st half.

The Ugly

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Central Michigan Preview

What to watch on offense

A longtime disciple of Mark Dantonio, Dan Enos has made his bones on the offensive side of the football. Enos served as Dantonio’s QB coach at both Cincinnati and Michigan State in addition to holding several offensive coordinator roles prior toZurlon Tipton CBS Sports joining Dantonio. Enos prefers a varied offensive attack but his roots are deeply planted in the pro-style offense. As the offense of a year ago showed however, Enos is perfectly willing to use multiple WR sets and throw the ball at a high clip.

Ryan Radcliff leaves Mt. Pleasant after compiling a statistical career only surpassed by Dan LeFevour. In his wake were left a number of contenders for the starting QB position have battled it out throughout both spring and fall camps. Cincinnati transfer Kody Kater was the odds on favorite to win the job despite the presence of the speedy Alex Niznak. Kater was named the starter just prior to game week and his experience and arm strength make him a potential breakout player for the Chips this season. Kater will be aided greatly by the return of 2nd team All-MAC WR Titus Davis who accounted for over 800yds and 8 TDs a year ago. They also return the speed Courtney Williams who will be relied upon to the stretch the defense across from Davis.

The Chips owe much of the success of last season to RB Zurlon Tipton who produced a monster season on the ground. Despite rushing for over 1,500yds a year ago, Tipton surprisingly did not earn 1st team All-MAC honors, a feat he will likely contend for greatly this season. While he isn’t the fastest back in the country, Tipton is an extremely tough runner that is difficult to bring down with just one tackler. The Chips also return super sophomore Saylor Lavallii who average 4.6ypc a year ago as a true freshman.

Central Michigan had produced exactly one first round draft choice prior to last year and the emergence of OT Eric Fisher who went on to become the #1 overall pick in the draft. Lost in the love fest with Fisher is the fact that prior to last season, it was Jake Olson who received much of the praise from observers at the LT position. An early season injury forced Olson out of the lineup a year ago but he returns to lead a unit that while low on starts, has a good amount of overall experience. The Chips are expected to start just one underclassmen on the offensive line.

Best Offensive Player

Zurlon Tipton- Tipton is coming off of the one of the best rushing seasons ever in Chippewa history after rushing for over 1,500yds and scoring 19 TDs on the ground. A load 6’1 220lbs, Tipton has a knack for breaking tackles and extending runs deep into the second level.

Head Coach– Dan Enos- 4th Year

Off Coor– Mike Cummings-3rd Year

 

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A Chat with Shane Morris

Warren, Michigan quarterback prospect Shane Morris became the first commit for the Wolverine’s 2013 class last week. Morris will be the top player in the state and one of the highest rated signal callers in the Midwest, if not the country.

Shane MorrisSean O’Connell: The timing was a surprise to me, when did you come to this decision?

Shane Morris: “I came to this decision about a week before I committed and told coach I wanted to come up with my family and have them see everything.”

Sean O’Connell: Who was your primary recruiter? How is your relationship with him?

Shane Morris: “My primary recruiter was Coach Fred Jackson. We have a very good relationship we talked on the phone once or twice every week. He was a huge influence in my decision, he was alway telling me everything that was going on at U of M and I liked that he was completely honest in every aspect with me. ”

Sean O’Connell: Did you grow up a Michigan fan?

Shane Morris: “Yes I did grow up a Michigan fan, Michigan was my dream school until they changed the offense a couple years ago, now that Coach Hoke is back and running the pro-style again it’s where I belong.”

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The Michigan Quarterback Dilemma

With Zeke Pike committing to Auburn on Wednesday, what does Michigan do about the future of the quarterback position? I have to imagine that they want to sign a QB nearly every year and this year IMO is very critical that we do. So where do we go from here? Below are a list of potential candidates.

Most Likely Candidates

Austin Appleby – North Canton, OH – 6’5" 230. Good sized kid. There have been a few rumors that he’s been offered, but I have not been able to confirm this yet. He has decent mobility and a good arm. He did miss part of last season due to a knee injury, so there are some questions with his health. Offers: Akron, Kent State, Temple and Toledo.

Tyler O’Connor – Lima, OH – 6’3" 210. I actually like him more than Appleby. Throws very well on the run and can really spin the ball. WOTS is that interest has been gaining with him over the past week with the knowledge of Pike likely committing to Auburn. Offers: Indiana, Louisville, Michigan State, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, West Virginia and some MAC schools.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdFtw1cFLHc[/tube]

The Next Group

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Pre LOI Day Recruiting Update

Hello all. Just a quick update on recruiting before commitmas day arrives. Coach Hoke and crew should be commended for the excellent job they have done over their first three weeks on the job. They’ve picked up seven commits since January 11th, six of which were new on the recruiting board. Developing those relationships that quickly illustrates how good these guys are at recruiting. Of course having Greg Mattison is a plus! Hoke also solidified commitments from Tony Posada, Blake Countess and Kellen Jones.

On to the next few days. Michigan is still in on a number of prospects as the 2011 recruiting season nears its end. Thomas Rawls, Jake Fisher, Frank Clark, Leilon Willinghan,  Darian Cooper and Chris Barnett are all still considering the Wolverines and will be making their decisions in the next 48 hours. I believe we have a good shot at all of them, but some more so than others.

1. Thomas Rawls. 99% chance he’s a Wolverine. This is no surprise to anyone that follows recruiting. Thomas is a lifelong Michigan fan and finally received his offer this past weekend. Rawls decides tomorrow at 1:30 PM between Central Michigan and Michigan.

2. Frank Clark. 99% chance he’s a Wolverine. But he’s from Cleveland Glenville?!?! Yup. And coach Ginn is a big Brady Hoke fan. This is a nice foot in the door at a football factory. Frank and the other Tarblooders will decide on Wednesday. His top schools are Michigan, Michigan State and North Carolina.

3. Leilon Willingham. 80% chance he’s a Wolverine. Leilon is a new recruit and visited a few weekends ago. Coach Mattison made a great impression and vaulted the Wolverines near the top of his list. Willingham will decide on Wednesday between Arizona State, Central Florida, Colorado, Michigan and Washington.

4. Darian Cooper. 51% chance he’s a Wolverine. Dropped Michigan from consideration after RR was fired, but put us back on his list after a visit from coaches Hoke and Mattison. He visited this past weekend and really enjoyed himself. Cooper is a HUGE need and would be an awesome get. Darian will be choosing between Georgia Tech, Iowa, Michigan and Michigan State on signing day. I think he’ll be Blue, but watch Iowa here as well.

5. Chris Barnett. 50% chance he’s a Wolverine. Another new kid at a position of great need. Barnett recently visited and enjoyed it as well. He is currently a “soft” verbal to Arkansas. Here’s the issue, Arkansas already has three tight ends in the fold other than Barnett and a ridiculous 29 verbals already. Chris will make his choice on Saturday after all of the dust has settled in Hog country.

6. Jake Fisher. 50% chance he’s a Wolverine. Jake verballed to Michigan months ago, but got a wandering eye after coach Rod was canned. He visited Oregon this past weekend, so we’ll see what happens. I just don’t have a gut here. If someone put a gun to my head, I’d say it’s the Ducks. I for one hope he stays closer to home and picks up the Michigan hat for the second time on Wednesday morning.

There you have it boys and girls. We’ll have more for you in the coming days. Then it’s on to 2012!!

GO BLUE!!!!!

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