Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Touch the Banner is on the move!

The day that we all have been waiting for has arrived. That's right. After a couple years of contemplation and a couple months of consternation, the new site has been created and launched. That's in no small part to the numerous people who have donated toward the site redesign. So as of today, I am officially abandoning Blogger for the greener pastures of Wordpress. You can find the new site now and forevermore at:

Monday, August 10, 2015

MLive: Jim Harbaugh wants to beat Ohio State...and everyone

Jim Harbaugh is competitive (LINK).

Hit the jump for a few beautiful ladies.

Recruiting Update: August 10, 2015

Covington (GA) Newton running back Kurt Taylor (image via Scout)
Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy defensive end/linebacker Rahshaun Smith decommitted from Clemson. Smith is a 6'3", 239 lb. prospect who is high on Auburn, LSU, Maryland, and Miami, among others. He's a 247 Composite 4-star, the #1 inside linebacker, and #55 overall. He transferred from the Baltimore area to IMG Academy after his junior season, and he expressed interest in Michigan when he was first offered. However, I do not think the Wolverines will factor back into his recruitment.

Covington (GA) Newton running back Kurt Taylor was offered by Michigan. He's a 5'9", 200 lb. prospect with offers from Cincinnati, Kentucky, Rutgers, and Vanderbilt, among others. He's a 247 Composite 3-star, the #34 running back, and #464 overall. He claims a 4.48 forty. Taylor is compact, strong, and built low to the ground. He can grind out tough yardage and bounce off some tackle attempts. He doesn't have great burst, but he's decisive and gets upfield quickly. He visited Michigan for the BBQ at the Big House and was offered after the trip. He plans to return for the Ohio State game in late November.

Hit the jump for a new 2018 offer, several players who committed elsewhere, and some random bits.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Detroit News: Tolbert returns to old haunt, whipping U-M players into shape

Angelique Chengelis has a piece on new strength and conditioning coordinator Kevin Tolbert (LINK).

Hit the jump for some good looking ladies, including a gif of a woman coming down the stairs.

2015 Season Countdown: #21 De'Veon Smith

De'Veon Smith
Name: De'Veon Smith
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 228 lbs.
High school: Warren (OH) Howland
Position: Running back
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #4
Last year: I ranked Smith #21 and said he would be the starting running back with 150 carries, 700 yards, and 8 touchdowns. He made two starts with 108 carries for 519 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Last season was another fairly disappointing year for Michigan's running game. Sprinkled throughout the year were some good games intermingled with some bad ones. Furthermore, no running back was consistently the best. If you ask three different people who the best running back was in 2014, you'll get three different answers. Smith earned his first career start against Michigan State after Derrick Green broke his collarbone and finished with 11 carries, 39 yards, and 1 touchdown. Statistically, his best two games were the opener against Appalachian State (8 carries, 115 yards, 2 touchdowns) and against Northwestern (18 carries, 121 yards, 1 touchdown). He also had some real stinkers, including six games in which he averaged 3.1 yards/carry or fewer. Toward the end of the year, Drake Johnson took over the starting gig and looked superior to Smith.

The battle rages on to be the starting running back at Michigan. Justice Hayes was a third down back, but he opted to spend his fifth year at Southern Miss. Drake Johnson looked solid at the end of the year, but he tore his ACL in the season finale against Ohio State. Green was the leading rusher for most of last season, but he had that broken collarbone and isn't the most instinctive runner. Ty Isaac sat out last year after transferring from USC, and lineman Kyle Kalis recently said that the line couldn't wait to get Isaac on the field after watching him bruise people up in practices last year. Karan Higdon is an unknown quantity as an incoming freshman.

I'm on the record as saying Isaac is the most talented back on the roster, but I think Smith has the mentality that these coaches like the most. He's a tough runner who will break some tackles and drive his legs. He won't outrun anyone, and his vision isn't great, but he can set the tone for the team to be a smash-mouth unit. I don't think he will get a stranglehold on the position because there are other guys who are more versatile and better athletes, but I think Smith will get a long look to try to be The Man. Normally, I would expect to put a starting running back higher than #21 on this list, but nobody has emerged from the pack at any point during their college careers. In fact, I'll go ahead and replicate what I predicted for him last year:

Prediction: Starting running back to begin the year; 150 carries, 700 yards, 8 touchdowns

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Detroit News: Michigan's Peppers is quickly earning respect

Angelique Chengelis has an article on the extremely under-the-radar Jabrill Peppers (LINK).

Hit the jump for some beautiful ladies.

2015 Season Countdown: #22 Blake O'Neill

Blake O'Neill
Name: Blake O'Neill
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 215 lbs.
High school/college: Melbourne (Australia) Peninsula, Weber State
Position: Punter
Class: Fifth year senior
Jersey number: #12
Last year: O'Neill played for Weber State. He punted 62 times for 2,737 yards (44.1 yards/punt).

The first of three graduate transfers to be ranked, O'Neill had the longest route to Michigan. Originally from Australia, he played Australian rules football and participated in the shot put to begin college in his home country. He ended up at Weber State in the 2014 season, where he averaged 44.1 yards/punt and was sixth in the Football Championship Subdivision. He also had a 23-yard run (Australian rules football, yay!) and a 17-yard pass (umm...shot put, yay?) to convert first downs on fakes.

To put those punting numbers in perspective, that 44.1 yard average is behind only Zoltan Mesko in 2009 and Will Hagerup in 2012 over the past seven years. O'Neill has a big leg, but he also has a penchant for putting the ball inside the 20-yard line. Other than 2011, when Brady Hoke could do no wrong, Michigan has been very vanilla on special teams. O'Neill and new special teams coordinator John Baxter should usher in some fresh ideas and a more modern approach to the punting unit. The combination of the two should give Michigan one of the top two or three punting units in the Big Ten. O'Neill should be backed up by redshirt junior Kenny Allen, whom I ranked near the bottom of the countdown simply because punters don't often suffer injuries.

Prediction: Starting punter