RIP Blazefire. Michigan and MGoBlog has lost Blazefire84 at the far-too-young age of 35. Here is his obituary; here is the board thread. Blazefire was a good guy, and a good internet person. The latter is so very hard. He'll be missed.
Good news tomorrow? The
Army All American Bowl is tomorrow at 1 PM, and Michigan will have a hat on the table for CA CB Darion Green-Warren. Green-Warren has already signed and is announcing a choice that's already locked in, so in this case the tea leaves are pretty easy to read and point towards Michigan, which has 94% of the crystal balls. Might be worth tuning in.
Green-Warren is a top 200 prospect at a position where Michigan could use some reinforcements. USC is the other main player in his recruitment, and we've detailed USC's stunningly bad recruiting multiple times.
Draft entry o'clock. Now is the time when people get serious about making draft decisions. So far for Michigan, Josh Uche and Sean McKeon have foregone potential fifth years and accepted Senior Bowl invites while Kwity Paye and Nick Eubanks have announced returns. Other potential departures:
- WR Nico Collins: Isaiah Hole reports he's hearing Collins is leaning towards a return. Most other chatter has held similarly.
- WR Donovan Peoples-Jones: There's a lot of wobble in DPJ projections in what's going to be a loaded WR draft. The Athletic's Dane Brugler made it sound like he was a mid-round pick despite ranking him in the top 10 WRs; he's the first pick of the second round in Matt Miller's mock draft. There hasn't been much word on which way he's leaning.
- C Cesar Ruiz: Ruiz's draft evals are even more all over the board than DPJ's, with a lot of blue checkmarks on twitter having him in the fourth or fifth route while Tony Pauline has him as a late first rounder. When asked about the NFL in a press conference before the bowl game Ruiz gave the standard "thinking about Future Opponent" answer with no elaboration.
- CB Ambry Thomas: Thomas hasn't put it on Twitter but in a bowl press scrum he said "You can just assume I’m coming back." He did leave a little bit of post-bowl wiggle room; I don't think he had a paradigm-shifting Citrus Bowl. I'd assume that he sticks with his original decision. As of the 28th he hadn't submitted his name for a draft grade.
If I had to guess I'd say Michigan loses Ruiz and gets everyone else back. Losing Tarik Black to a transfer is a bummer but if Michigan gets their top two WRs back that's much better than I was expecting.
FWIW, our speculation that the guys who played in the 78-0 Rutgers game back in the day still could get redshirts, a group that included McKeon, does appear to have a proof of concept in Carlo Kemp. Sam Webb reports that Michigan is "confident" he will be granted a redshirt year after appearing in two games as a true freshman.
[After THE JUMP: do you like dated stuff? Because I have lots of it.]
Dangit, Spam. Stephen Spanellis has announced a grad transfer. That's one less option for Michigan on the interior as they try to replace two or three starters. I have to assume that Spanellis had fallen down the depth chart if he's exiting before he gets his shot in spring practice. I will miss his twitter.
Better transfer news. Joe Milton is on board for at least next year.
Joe Milton says he remains patient re: starting. Asked if he’s considered transferring: “Nope. Go Blue, man”
— angelique (@chengelis) December 30, 2019
Advanced box score. Bill Connelly's advanced box score from the Citrus Bowl has some good bits—3.25 line yards per carry against Bama!—and some less good bits—2.6 YPA on passing downs!—that adds up to a 97% Bama win expectation. That's probably harsh because it includes the last turnover. But… yeah. In the end, not particularly close.
Position switches. Orion Sang watched some bowl practices and noted that Ben VanSumeren has moved to tight end and George Johnson to cornerback. Both moves make a ton of sense.
VanSumeren was a bizarrely-shaped wide receiver in high school and has good potential as an Aaron Shea-like H-back. Michigan started playing Ben Mason at a wing TE spot like that midway through the year; hopefully over the offseason they're able to carve out a 15-20 snap role for an H-TE since they've got a couple of guys on the roster well suited for that spot.
George Johnson came in as a high school quarterback projected to slot receiver, a spot that classmates Giles Jackson and Mike Sainristil look to be filling for the next two or three years. Michigan also adds AJ Henning in this class. Meanwhile, corner is one of the bigger questions on next year's team. Your author projected Johnson to the secondary in his recruiting profile last summer, FWIW.
On the Clemson/OSU fumble overturn. Here's an interesting post from a high school referee on the controversial overturn:
Looking back at the mechanics manual, the HLJ drops the bean bag to cover himself. If he blows the whistle and it was in-fact a fumble for a TD, he's probably never going to work a CFP game again for having an inadvertent whistle on a scoring play.
Now that we are in the review, we need to have firm control, and an act common to the game.
Full Speed Front View - From here we can see that the steps taken are from the force of contact by the DB from the moment of catching, the steps alone do not count as our move common. This leaves an attempt to ward or tuck.
Slow Motion Back Cam - From 0:03 to 0:05 we can see the WR left hand come off of the ball while attempting to tuck it to his waist, at which point the ball is dislodged by the DB.
Given this, I don't think this is a catch, but it's still a very close call.
Circling back to subsection h, "When in question, the catch, recovery or interception is not completed." Given that the HLJ let the play go as he wasn't sure it was a catch or not, and that it seems unclear after looking at this all day whether he completes his act common, this is ruled incomplete.
I did not watch the game live but as soon as you see the full speed front view it seems obvious that it's incomplete. This is an instance where watching the slow motion distorts your impression of what really happened. In full speed it is a bang-bang play where the WR never really controls the ball. In slow motion it looks completely different. Since one of the priorities for NCAA refs is "no cheap fumbles" this seems like an obviously correct call.
I'm sure Ohio State fans are taking this in stride.
A couple more Terrance Williams bits. Matt D had a hello post for Williams shortly after his commitment; since then there have been a couple more scouting bits. Rivals's Corey Evans:
Giant win for Juwan Howard. Lands a shot maker with toughness in Terrance Williams. Michigan now with the fourth rated class in America & the top-ranked Big 10 group
— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) January 1, 2020
I saw Terrance Williams at the NBPA TOP 100 Camp. He was teammates with Franz Wagner. He is a great shooter, finisher and plays with lots of grit. He is a perfect fit in Juwan Howard's positionless system at the 3-4.
He visits Ann Arbor tomorrow. https://t.co/YuDy2mHw3v
— Tim McCormick (@TimMcCormick40) December 27, 2019
Brendan Quinn at the Athletic:
Williams can score on bigger defenders by attacking their chests, absorbing contact and playing through them. Against smaller defenders, he can take a step back and rely on his jumper. He’s solid from 3-point distance, but especially strong in the 15- to 18-foot range. If you crowd him, he can rip and blow by. If you sag, he’ll catch and shoot. Williams can not only do these things, but is especially adept to understanding how he’s being played.
…at his best banging and setting screens. He’s an active, bouncy, instinctive rebounder. Tip-ins. Tip-outs. He gets his hands on the ball. On the perimeter, he plants his feet like tent pegs and does not subside. Good, strong, clean picks. He doesn’t dip his shoulder or swing out a hip. He’s been called for fewer than five illegal screens in three years, despite being Gonzaga’s primary screener.
Also holy crap this is a line:
When he was a freshman at Gonzaga, assistant coach Roger Garfield approached and asked him, “Hey, why’d you pick No. 5?”
Williams looked at Garfield, deadpan, and responded, “Coach, on the fifth day, God created animals,” and walked away.
Do not tell me if this is from a movie, I do not want to know.
Williams comparisons are interesting because they're all over the map. Since his commitment I've seen the following: Juwan Morgan, Vince Edwards, and Jae'Sean Tate. I'd suggest the senior version of Kenny Goins, a 6'6"-6'7", 230-pound four who has three point range and offers you better rebounding than his size might indicate. Goins was a walk-on who took a long time to get up to speed; Williams should have a longer period as a productive college player and will hopefully be a higher-usage guy.
Isaiah Todd: here or there? Todd's coach on his decision about where to play next year:
"In this day and time -- and I hope I don't get misquoted -- but in this day and time people are always exploring options unfortunately, with the SAT/ACT," Williams told MLive, referring to standardized tests. "But Isaiah passed the SAT/ACT. He's definitely looking forward to going to college. I think he likes what's going on at Michigan. I think him and Juwan have a very unique relationship.
"You know, Isaiah could be one of those kids that hang around. He's definitely concerned about getting a degree. I just think early on and how things have been going, all these top players that's one thing that's in consideration always -- playing overseas."
I almost wish he hadn't said that Todd could hang around for multiple years, because that makes the quote seem so optimistic it's hard to take seriously.
All right all right all right. Viva Dantonio.
Multiple recruits (unsolicited) told Spartan Nation that Dantinio was keeping staff intact. Asked Dantonio & he refused to answer. Here to talk about recruiting was his response.
— Hondo Carpenter (@HondoCarpenter) December 18, 2019
I'm looking forward to one of Michigan's rivals finally going through a coaching senescence period. Ohio State managed to dodge two in a row, because you could shoot Ohio Stadium with a bazooka and it would carve out a statue of Woody Hayes.
Also in I don't want to know. So.
Somebody PLEASE make this into an album cover pic.twitter.com/OtlbH0YgRu
— Maize Rage (@MaizeRageUM) January 1, 2020
The year of the Legg goal. Andrei Svechnikov has scored a Mike Legg goal twice this year in the NHL, and now a second Michigan commit has executed it. First it was Mark Estapa, now Kent Johnson:
Call it the lacrosse-style goal, the Michigan, the Svechnikov...and you can now call it the Kent Johnson!
WHAT.A.GOAL. from the Michigan commit [email protected] @umichhockey @BarDown pic.twitter.com/diC0y4mHcw
— BC Hockey League (@GoBCHL) December 21, 2019
Johnson still leads BCHL scorers with 69 points in 36 games, 22 ahead of his nearest competition.
In other cavalry-is-coming notes, Brendan Brisson continues to fly up draft boards and is now cracking a lot of first rounds. He had 12 points in 6 games at the World Junior A Championships to tie a tourney record; he's the #4 draft eligible USHL player in PPG, a hair behind a couple of his teammates. The Chicago Steel are absurdly loaded this year—they're 22-4-1 with a +57 goal differential, so it's hard to tell exactly who's driving the bus. Brisson's WJAC performance is encouraging in that regard.
FWIW, Josh Groll also signed a letter of intent and is likely to come in next year. He's 9th in USHL scoring amongst U19s and made the WJAC. Between Johnson, Brisson, Thomas Bordeleau, and Groll Michigan is likely to have four freshman F with more talent than anyone on this year's team save Beecher and Lockwood.
Probably as a result of this squeeze, F Patrick Guzzo decommitted and flipped to Ohio State. A dollar says Michigan asked him to defer and he wasn't interested. D Nick Bochen also flipped to Quinnipiac.
In more immediate hockey roster news. Michigan's also added defenseman Jay Keranan as a mid-year enrollee. Keranen went from the NAHL to the BCHL, where he put up a total of 13 points in 98 games. He's 21 and originally from Brighton. Assumptions: 1) walk-on, 2) unless Michigan gets super lucky he's going to be a healthy scratch for his career.
Etc.: The ten least consequential athletes of the decade include Glenn Winston. The case for eliminating the NCAA tournament committee. The Athletic on Cincinnati and Rutgers running "club teams" in the latest rules loophole that's about to get shut down. Mark Hasty on Hayden Fry. More Fry in the Athletic. Saddi Washington is a bridge over an abyss. Baseball debuts at #7, which seems optimistic unless Michigan can replace their rotation.
Brandon Wade walks on; his story at the Daily.