Final 2013 B1G Recruiting Rankings

Note: As usual we include Notre Dame in B1G Rankings as they recruit same area and are a common opponent.

1. Ohio

Biggest Get – Jalin Marshall (ATH-WR). MarshaJalin Marshallll is a special, explosive athlete who will thrive in Urban Meyer’s offense.

Biggest Miss – James Quick (WR). Quick is one of the most explosive receivers in the country and ended up choosing the hometown Louisville Cardinals over the Bucks.

Sleeper – Jayme Thompson (S). It’s hard to call a borderline 4 star kid a sleeper, but in a class full of highly rated DB’s Thompson is exactly that. While a bit raw, his athleticism makes his ceiling very high.

2. Michigan

Biggest Get – Shane Morris (QB). Any time you can get a five star talent at quarterback you are doing very well. Morris has the biggest arm in the country and was an exceptional recruiter for Michigan.

Biggest Miss – Laquon Treadwell (WR). During the summer it seemed as if Treadwell was a near certainty to commit to Michigan, but in the end he chose to go elsewhere. Treadwell would’ve filled a pretty big need.

Sleeper – Channing Stribling (CB). A virtual unknown, Stribling came to Michigan’s camp this summer and completely shut down the competition over a five day period and earned an offer.

3. Notre Dame

Continue reading “Final 2013 B1G Recruiting Rankings”

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Grading The Performance: Notre Dame

Quarterback

There’s no way to sugarcoat the play of the QB position on Saturday. Denard Robinson had the worst game of his career in a Michigan uniform and Michigan paid the price. Michigan’s offense is so QB dependent at the moment that Michigan has no chance of victory without great QB play.2012-umnd-011 Denard’s play on Saturday was far from great which prevented Michigan from having a legitimate chance of beating the Irish.

All of the bad habits that have gotten Denard into trouble over the years were on full display. Decision making, poor mechanics, and the inability to deal with pressure added up to a nightmare performance for the offense overall. Denard actually started off the game dialed in from a passing standpoint. The timing and accuracy was a good as it had been all season. Once Notre Dame kicked up the pressure and got defenders in Denard’s face the level of from the QB fell through the floor.

It has turned into a broken record but a senior, 3 year starter, and captain QB can’t continue making game losing level plays. Denard has to progress and turn the completely boneheaded plays behind him or Michigan has no chance the rest of the way. If Denard continues throwing the ball the way he did on Saturday, Michigan will be fortunate to win more than 5 games.

Grade: F

Running Back

When there was room to run the backs, especially Fitz, they ran hard. The issue all season has been opportunities, both number of carries and open holes. Fitz gained just 58 yds on Saturday, 31 of which came on one play. Fitz was expected to pickup right where he left off last season but thus far that has not materialized for a variety of reasons. No other backs received carries in the game, though Vincent Smith did see a significant amount of playing time.

Stephen Hopkins failed to return from injury this week forcing Joe Kerridge into action again this week. Kerridge did a decent job of run blocking from his FB position the few times he saw action, especially in the 2nd half.

Grade: C

2012-umnd-022Wide Receiver/TE

When your QB plays as poorly as Denard did on Saturday, the chances of your WRs having a big day is slim to none. Devin Gardner, Roy Roundtree, and Jeremy Gallon combined to lead Michigan with 3 catches a piece. None of the WRs produced a really big play, though Gallon did do some good things as a runner on 2 end arounds and a took a bubble screen 13 yds for a 1st down. Devin Gardner gets better with every rep but he’s clearly still getting comfortable with the position. A potential huge play in the 2nd half was negated by Gardner dropping the ball. The ball placement from Denard was far from perfect but Devin got two hands on the ball yet couldn’t bring it in.

The TEs were a complete non-factor in the game on Saturday. Devin Funchess, coming off two games where he found the endzone, was held to 2 catches for 11 yds. Mike Kwiatkowski missed a key block in the first half and was replaced by A.J. Williams in the 2nd half when Michigan decided to run the ball down Notre Dame’s throat.

Grade: Incomplete

Offensive Line

A tale of two halves for the offensive line. The offensive line was brutal in the first half, both in run blocking and pass protection. A busted assignment led to Vincent Smith getting snowed under on the half-back pass that ended up getting intercepted. The line had major issues identifying and picking up the blitz early in the game but got better as time went on. There was an obvious "come to Jesus" meeting at half-time because when the teams returned and Michigan committed to running the ball, the offensive lined played their best of the season. Elliott Mealer continues to impress getting to the 2nd level and engaging opposing LBers. Taylor Lewan gave up his first sack of the season and had a lot of trouble with Notre Dame’s Stephen Tuitt. The Irish still got pressure in the 2nd half, but they also routinely sent more defenders than Michigan had blockers. In the 2nd half, the line paved the way for a consistent 4-5yds per rush. Unfortunately the 2nd half success of the line was negated by turnovers.

Grade: B-2012-umnd-047

Defensive Line

The pass rush continues to be an issue for the Wolverines, especially off of the edge. The line did a much better job of getting off of blocks and making plays in the backfield or at the line of scrimmage against the run. Will Campbell did a very good job of occupying blockers and getting penetration into the backfield. Campbell had an impact on plays even when he didn’t make the tackle or sack. Quinton Washington had the best game of his career in a Michigan uniform. The DTs are a work in progress but they are definitely getting better game by game. The DEs continue to struggle holding the edge and getting to the QB. As it stands, the DEs main contribution has been occupying opposing blockers. As a unit they have made very few individual plays.

Grade: C+

Linebackers

Expectations were high coming into the year with 3 returning LBers. The LB play had been atrocious coming into the game. Michigan badly needed its LBers to play and they responded against the Irish. Desmond Morgan who has really struggled thus far this season led the team in tackles and was a major factor in holding Notre Dame to 95 yds rushing. Jake Ryan made several huge plays tackling Irish defenders in space. Michigan depends on Ryan to play a lot of plays around the line of scrimmage. Ryan is often the last man between a stop for short yardage or a big run. So far this season Ryan has held up his end of the bargain and showed why the coaches put so much responsibility in his hands. Saturday was no exception as Ryan was critical in forcing Notre Dame’s runners back toward defenders.

Grade: B

Secondary

2012-umnd-06It took 4 games but Michigan finally forced its first turnovers of the game. In both cases the secondary was responsible for the take away.  Raymon Taylor kicked things off early in the game with a picture perfect interception in coverage.  Michigan employed a variety of coverages in the game and Taylor’s drop in zone coverage netted him the first pick of his career and Michigan’s first takeaway. Thomas Gordon prevented a ND score, recording Michigan 2nd takeaway of the game and the season. Jordan Kovacs played a key role in run support and getting pressure on the Irish QB. Greg Mattison is wise enough to play Kovacs close to the line where he can play to his strengths and avoid being isolated in coverage down the field.

Grade: B-

Special Teams

Thanks to the number of turnovers, Michigan punted the ball just once. Matt Wile who has become Michigan’s short punter pinned Notre Dame inside the 20yd line with his only punt of the day. Wile continues to do a great job on kickoffs, blasting all 3 kicks for touchbacks.

The speed and acceleration of Dennis Norfleet continues to impress. Michigan fans continue to patiently wait for Norfleet to break the really big. When Norfleet finds a crease he hits it in a hurry. There is no doubt that Norfleet will eventually bust out for a huge return. Against Norte Dame, Norfleet average 29yds per return with a long of 33yds.

Grade: C

A: Unit played as close to flawless as possible. Unit played well enough to win the game on their own.

B: Unit had a major positive impact on the game but also had several assignment/execution miscues.

C: Unit did not negatively or positively affect the game. Unit made key positive plays along with several errors.

D: Unit made multiple critical errors that could potentially cost the team a win. Unit blew assignments and had poor execution across the board.

F: Play of the unit was bad enough that it could directly cost the team a victory.

Note: Plus and minuses denote degrees of the grade.

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Notre Dame Prediction Contest

Updated Winners:

Brandon Tomlinson (via Facebook comment) predicted ND to win by 7

EvilEmpire (from UMGoBlue) predicted ND to win by 6

umgoblue14 (from UMGoBlue) predicted ND to win by 8

Really simple guys. Predict the score. Closest three entries (First determined by exact score/then margin of victory or defeat/total points you predicted to be scored) gain AUTOMATIC spots in the UMGoBlue Big Ten Bowl Game Playoff Contest for the 12 prizes at the end of the year. Go Blue.

Make predictions as comments below or tweet @UMGoBlog.

Warning: Last year we tried to do tweets as contest entries and about half of them were lost.  Twitter would only allow to see last 1000 @replies and we got about 800 during the game. So to be safe, just leave a comment!!

Example Entry: Michigan 31 Notre Dame 21

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Notre Dame Game Prediction

Surprisingly so far in our Notre Dame Prediction Contest 71% of entries are predicting a victory for Michigan. After Notre Dame went into East Lansing last week and mopped the floor with the Spartans I expected a closer to equal ratio. Before the season when we asked everyone to predict the scores of every game 92% predicted a win over the Fighting Irish. So there has been a tilt towards the Golden Domers within the Michigan fanbase.

Have to cut this week’s prediction short due to an unscheduled 24+ at work.

After pulling off three consecutive incredible wins over the Irish, the Wolverines’ string of victories will fall. Notre Dame 29  Michigan 27

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2012 Game Preview – Notre Dame

Brian Kelly’s Michigan Week Press Conference

What to watch on offense

Head Coach Brian Kelly is known for his offensive prowess. After successful runs at Central Michigan and Cincinnati, Kelly has struggled to engineer the same level of offensive success at Notre Dame. Kelly is among the increasing list of coaches who have been labeled a “spread guru.” A master of the WR route tree, Kelly’s version of the spread favors the pass over the run. Kelly’s offense hinges on taking what the defense gives and exploiting one on one match ups in the passing game. 4 WR and empty sets are the norm for Kelly’s offense even when he has a talented RB on the roster.

Off the field issues sidelined Tommy Rees heading into fall camp, paving the way for redshirt freshman Everett Golson to take over at the QB position. While noted for his athletic ability, Golson is an underrated passer with a powerful arm who isn’t afraid to take shots down the field. The graduation of Michael Floyd left a huge gap at WR for the Irish who have been using multiple WRs to try to replace his production. Speedy sophomore George Atkinson has been used a variety of roles on offense, lining up at QB, RB, and WR. Look for the Irish to get Atkinson the ball in space, in one on one match ups, or on end arounds and reverses.

1,100 yd rusher Cierre Wood returns for ND and leads an Irish rushing attack that gashed a stout Michigan State rush defense for 123 yds. The offensive line returns 3 starters from last year and insert the talented Christian Lombard in at RT this year.

 

Best Offensive Player

Tyler EifeTyler Eifertrt – ND has produced 2 straight All-Americans at the TE position. Kyle Rudolph gave way to Eifert who accounted for more than 800 yds and 5 TDs a year ago. Eifert is a match up nightmare for opposing defenses, showing the ability to run away from LBs and outmuscle DBs in the passing game.

Head Coach– Brian Kelly -3rd year

Off Coor– Chuck Martin -1st year

Def Coor– Bob Diaco -3rd year

2011 Record

 

8-5

Returning Starters

Offense-7

Defense-7

Key Losses

WR Michael Floyd

RB Jonas Grey

OG Trevor Robinson

DE Aaron Lynch

LB Darius Fleming

SS Harrison Smith

CB Robert Blanton

Key Returners

RB Cierre Wood

OT Zack Martin

TE Tyler Eifert

LB Manti Te’o

DT Louis Nix

DE Stephon Tuitt

LB Prince Shembo

What to watch on defense

For years the Notre Dame’s defense has been the butt of jokes, and rightfully so. Slow, unathletic, and patently overrated, the Irish defense was easy to carve up via the run or the pass. The arrival and Kelly and DC Bob Diaco have put a sudden stop to the joke thus far this season. While ND has been known for its offense in the recent past, the current ND defense boast multiple NFL prospects in its front 7, something it has rarely enjoyed. Diaco is known for his 3-4 defenses but consistently played with a 4 man front against the Wolverines a year ago. Diaco is uber aggressive in most games but has largely refrained from his patented sell-out blitzes against Michigan after being torched by them in 2010.

The Irish have the best defensive front 7 they’ve enjoyed since the late 90s under Bob Davie. Considering the play of the Irish defense in recent years that probably doesn’t sound like much, but this unit is actually one of the most talented in the country. The strength of the unit is the defensive line where Kapron Lewis-Moore, Louis Nix, Stephon Tuitt, and OLB/DE Prince Shembo are all difference makers with NFL potential. The 6’6 295 Tuitt is the best of the bunch despite being a true sophomore. Tuitt is a terror inside and makes his living penetrating into the backfield.

The most well known Irish defender is Sr. Manti Te’o who earned 3rd team All-American honors a year ago and is the favorite for the Butkus award this season. Rated by many as the #1 MLB prospect in April’s NFL draft, Te’o brings a rare mix of size, speed, and power.

Notre Dame’s secondary has been decimated by injuries. Even before the injuries hit the Irish, the secondary was a major question mark. Injuries have turned an already shaky secondary into a disaster. Safety Zeke Motta remains the lone Irish DB with extensive experience. True freshman Elijah Shumate has turned heads with his play thus far but he has yet to be challenged by a WR with both size and speed outside.

Best Defensive Player

Manti Te’o/Stephon Tuitt – Te’o’s name will come as no surprise to most, but it is the play of Stephon Tuitt that has really turned around the Irish defense. Te’o played at an All-American level a year ago yet the Irish still surrendered a lot of yards and points against the talented offenses on Notre Dame’s schedule. Tuitt has been the real difference maker and he already has NFL scouts drooling over his potential

Michigan Rush Def vs. ND Rush Off

Rush defense has been the major cause of concern for Brady Hoke and the Wolverines. The Wolverines rank 107th in the country in rush defense and have yet to shut down an opposing rush offense.

While Brian Kelly will always favor the pass the run, he knows the importance of a semi balanced approach. The Irish rank 71st in the country with 155 yds per game on the ground.

Advantage- Notre Dame

Michigan Pass Def vs. ND Pass Off

Michigan currently ranks 12th in pass defense in the country and while they have yet to face a prominent passing attack, the Wolverines secondary remains the most experience unit on the Michigan defense.

The loss of Floyd coupled with having a young passer at QB has resulted in an average passing attack for the Fighting Irish. Notre is tied with Michigan as the 67th ranked passing offense in the country.

Advantage- Michigan

Michigan Rush Off vs. ND Rush Def

Notre Dame’s strength on defense is in its front 7, especially against the run. The Irish allow a paltry 96 yds per game and held a strong Michigan State rushing attack to 50yds on 2.2yds per carry

Michigan continues to struggle with its run blocking despite large gains on the ground by Denard Robinson. For the first time in the last 3 years Michigan heads into the match up with the Irish with question marks about the running game.

Advantage-Notre Dame

 

 

Michigan Pass Off vs. ND Pass Def

The emergence of Devin Gardner at WR and Devin Funchess at TE has changed Michigan’s fortunes in the passing game. Boy plays have showed the ability to make big plays in the passing and have combined with Michigan’s other pass catches to form a decently productive unit. If Denard Robinson can channel his excitement level, deal with pressure in his face and deliver consistently accurate passes the Wolverines will have the change to put up monster numbers in the passing game.

Simply put, the Irish secondary is a mess. The recent loss of safety Jamoris Slaughter has turned the Irish secondary into Armageddon.

Advantage- Michigan

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