2014 Recruiting: What’s Next? (Defense)

Michigan inked a very impressive 2013 recruiting class and the 2014 class in starting to take shape as well. So far the Maize and Blue have verbal commitments from Wilton Speight (3* QB – Virginia), Drake Harris (5* WR – Michigan), Juwan Bushell-Beatty (4* OT – New Jersey), Mason Cole (4* OG – Florida), Michael Ferns (4* LB – Ohio) and Brian Mone (4* DT – Utah). The Wolverines also picked-up Brady Pallante (NR DT – Florida) who received a greyshirt offer, which means he’ll count against either the 2014 class or the 2015 class depending on how the numbers shake out.

Defensive End (1-2)

Again, depth is being built especially at tDaShawn-Hand-Touch-the-Banner1he SDE position. WDE is coming along as well, but a blue chop pass rusher would go a long way into solidifying this unit.

Da’Shawn Hand – 6’5” 260lbs. Woodbridge, VA. The #1 guy on my board had a great visit back in March and has Michigan in his top 5 schools along with Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Virginia Tech. Hand is a absolute beast finishing his 2012 season with with 110 tackles, 16 sacks, 40(!!!!!) tackles for loss, two pass deflections, four forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries. He’s big enough and athletic enough to play either end position, or possibly even slide inside in pass rushing situations. He’s said a few times that the Michigan staff as a whole is his favorite, but the thought right now is that Hokies may have the slight edge. There is still a ways to go, but things look pretty good with Da’Shawn as of today.

Joseph Henderson – 6’4” 220lbs. Cleveland, OH. Michigan offered him a long time ago and things seemed to be a little hot at the time. He has visited UM at least 3 times, but I haven’t heard his name in quite a long time. In my opinion he’s waiting for an Ohio offer, so we’ll kind of see how it plays out over the next few months. He’d likely end up at the WDE spot, but might have enough athleticism to play the SAM position as well.

Lawrence Marshall – 6’4” 215lbs. Southfield, MI. The former Ohio commit will soon cut his list down to a few schools and although MSU might have a slim advantage, Michigan is right there as well. I’m not as high on him as some others, but he’s be a nice addition at the WDE spot. Marshall on weighs around 215 so a red-shirt would be likely.

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Previewing the Hokies

Logan Thomas & David Wilson

Offense

Scoring Offense28.5 PPG55th Nat.
Passing Offense227.1 YPG63rd Nat.
Rushing Offense188.7 YPG30th Nat.
Scoring Defense17.2 PPG7th Nat.
Pass Defense206.2 YPG39th Nat.
Rush Defense107.8 YPG16th Nat.

Virginia Tech’s offense has gone through variety of changes over the years. The one constant since the late 90s has been the presence of a difference maker at QB. This year’s version of the Virginia Tech offense is not as explosive as in years past but effective nonetheless under the direction of 6’6 245lb QB Logan Thomas. Any discussion of Virginia Tech’s offense begins and ends with the running game. Tech has a run heavy offense using both RB David Wilson and Thomas primary ball carriers. For much of the season, the Hokie offense revolved around getting David Wilson the ball in as many ways as possible. Dumping off to Wilson and letting him make something happen is a standard offensive play for the Hokies. Stopping the Hokie run game and tackling Logan Thomas will be a major test for the Michigan defense and likely determine the outcome of the game. Thomas frequently bounces off of tackles and is a load to bring down or disrupt even when the defense gets into the backfield. Hitting and wrapping up will not be enough as Thomas is often still able to complete passes with defenders draped over him.

Virginia Tech recruits and signs more TEs than any other team in college football. They do so because TEs are often the more versatile and multi-talent athletes on a roster. The Hokies often take TEs and convert many of them into offensive linemen because of their athleticism and footwork. This Virginia Tech team is no exception as starting left tackle Andrew Lanier is a converted TE. Virginia Tech’s offensive line boasts 4 senior starters but they have struggled for much of the year, especially in pass protection. The interior of the Hokie offensive line has been especially poor. The Hokies have posted some impressive rushing totals but those numbers are a reflection on the talent of David Wilson not the Hokie offensive line.
 
PassingComp. %YardsTDINTYards/Gm.
#3 Logan Thomas59.2 %2799199215.3
#6 Mark Leal69.2%1532076.5

Virginia Tech’s uses a very basic passing game and tries to limit Logan Thomas to easy throws. The Hokies rely on the run so when they do drop back to pass they normally face one on one coverage. The Hokies run a ton of WR screens, both bubble screens and quick hitting plays if opposing corners play off. If Michigan comes out in the same off coverage look it has for much of the season, expect the Hokies to throw quick screens until there is a change in coverage. One advantage the Hokies have over most teams in the passing game is size. The Hokies have some of the biggest receivers in college football. The Hokies use three major downfield targets when teams play press coverage, Marcus Davis (6’4 231lbs), Jarrett Boykin (6’2 219lbs), and D.J. Coles (6’3 225lbs ). As a change of pace the Hokies also employ slot receiver Danny Coale and TE Chris Drager underneath and on screens. As mentioned, screens and dump offs to David Wilson are also a big part of the Hokie passing.

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