Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Redshirts in the Class of 2013

QB Shane Morris: Morris was 5/9 for 65 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 1 interception in obviously limited duty behind starter Devin Gardner. He played a bit in the opener against Central Michigan and then one series against Michigan State, but generally, his snaps could have been handled by a walk-on like Brian Cleary. However, the most productive thing might have been Morris's snaps with the first and second teams in practice, which may accelerate his progress for when Gardner departs; furthermore, Morris might be needed in the bowl game if Gardner's turf toe is too problematic to overcome. Overall, this was a frustrating burning of a redshirt, but it was probably necessary since Michigan made a mistake in not taking a quarterback in the 2012 class.

RB Derrick Green: Green came in a little overweight, but we all knew he was going to play, and it was necessary. Starting running back Fitzgerald Toussaint has had just one healthy season in his career (2011), and the other backups hadn't done much in their time on campus. Green has responded with 82 carries for 265 yards and 2 touchdowns thus far.

RB De'Veon Smith: Smith is one of the more frustrating redshirt burnings on this list. While he did have a decent game against Ohio State, his production up to that point included 15 carries for 54 yards. His snaps probably could have been taken by Thomas Rawls or Justice Hayes, and that would have separated him from Green by a year. If Green leaves after his third year like many top-rated tailbacks do, Smith might have just one year as the lead back.

WR Da'Mario Jones: Jones is perhaps the biggest disappointment on this list. While I have high hopes for him as a receiver, he was limited to special teams duty. His only significant contribution was when he failed to locate a punt while blocking, which bounced off his foot and was recovered by UConn.

WR Csont'e York:
 York played as a backup in the first game of the year against Central Michigan and then didn't see any other game action. I'm guessing he'll end up getting a redshirt for this season, but technically, any amount of playing time burns a redshirt. I think York can be a decent wideout down the road, so losing a year of eligibility for a couple plays against CMU would seem silly.

TE Jake Butt: With Michigan thin at tight end, Butt was bound to play, and as the year went on, he earned more and more time. He ended the regular season with 17 catches for 202 yards and 2 touchdowns, saving his best performance for the season finale against Ohio State (5 catches, 85 yards, 2 touchdowns).

OG Kyle Bosch: Freshman linemen should usually stay on the sidelines, but there was a good chance that at least one of the six freshmen would see the field. Bosch enrolled in the spring and was the most college ready, so he entered the lineup once Joe Burzynski tore his ACL against Indiana. Bosch did an okay job, and while he eventually lost his starting gig, he did provide some competition that may have helped Michigan shore up the offensive line a little bit toward the end of the year. It's disappointing that Bosch needed to play, but this was necessary.

DE Taco Charlton: Charlton had 2 tackles and .5 tackles for loss throughout the year as the third-string weakside end. The team could have gotten by without him, but most teams need at least their top three guys on the defensive line to play at some point. It would have been nice for someone like Brennen Beyer to have been available and for Charlton to redshirt, but Jake Ryan's injury forced Beyer to play SAM linebacker.

LB Ben Gedeon: This coaching staff hasn't been shy about playing freshman inside linebackers, and all four guys in the rotation played as freshmen - Desmond Morgan, James Ross III, Joe Bolden, and now Gedeon. Gedeon leapfrogged sophomore Royce Jenkins-Stone for the #2 WILL job when Ross got hurt late in the year and ended up with 14 tackles and 1 sack of Braxton Miller.

CB Jourdan Lewis: Lewis and Channing Stribling were in a yearlong fight for the nickel corner job, with Lewis earning the slightly more impressive stats (17 tackles, 2 pass breakups). The Wolverines had a solid top two corners in Blake Countess and Raymon Taylor, but with senior Courtney Avery injured, somewhat ineffective, and needed at free safety sometimes, at least one freshman was going to be needed at corner. Lewis jumped over junior Delonte Hollowell and sophomore Terry Richardson for playing time.

CB Channing Stribling: Stribling put up 15 tackles and 1 forced fumble in a consistent battle with Lewis for the nickel corner job. He had some frustrating plays down the stretch in the loss to Penn State, but generally, he had pretty solid coverage and didn't look overmatched. Again, it would have been nice to see one of these two corners redshirt, but they both played decently enough for me to shrug my shoulders at the decision to play them.

S Delano Hill: Hill was exclusively a special teams coverage guy and ended the regular season with just 1 tackle. I don't like the idea of burning redshirts just for special teams, but it happens sometimes with safety/linebacker types. Hill looks the part of a college safety already, and he was around the ball more than his statistics indicate.

S Dymonte Thomas: Thomas flashed his talent in the season opener against Central Michigan with a blocked punt that resulted in a touchdown for Michigan. He added 5 tackles on what turned out to be mostly special teams duty. It was a little surprising he didn't play more, because early practice buzz had him pegged as the starting slot corner. Overall, it's tough to argue with playing him.

FB Wyatt Shallman: With a scholarship fullback in the class ahead of him (Sione Houma) and an established walk-on starter (Joe Kerridge), there was no need to throw Shallman into the fire this year. He could also be a U-back player and compete against the likes of Khalid Hill for playing time.

WR Jaron Dukes:
 Dukes, whose weakness is foot speed, didn't really have the bulk to be a blocking wide receiver, either.

TE Khalid Hill:
 Hill was expected to redshirt coming into the year, and that's what happened after being beaten out by fellow freshman Jake Butt for the U-back position. It will be an uphill battle to get on the field next year, too, with all the tight ends returning and the potential for Shallman to take Hill's playing time.

OL David Dawson:
 Dawson was a freshman offensive lineman, and most of them redshirt. This was expected and likely warranted.

OL Chris Fox: Fox tore his ACL at the end of his senior year, so big guys coming off of knee injuries are unlikely to play, especially in their first year of college.

OL Patrick Kugler: Kugler had shoulder surgery in the spring, so most people expected him to redshirt. The fact that he plays center, one of the most difficult positions on the field, only further necessitated the redshirt.

OL Dan Samuelson: Samuelson, again a freshman offensive lineman, was bound to redshirt unless lots of bad things happened. And while a lot of bad things did in fact happen, it wasn't quite that  bad.

OL Logan Tuley-Tillman: Tuley-Tillman is a guy who came into college needing to reshape his body. He was up around 330 last winter, slimmed down to 285 by the spring, and settled in at 300 by the beginning of the year. Plus he was a raw prospect coming out of high school.

DT Maurice Hurst, Jr.: Hurst arrived on campus around 270 lbs., so it was pretty much inevitable that he would sit out for at least a year.

DT Henry Poggi: Poggi came in even lighter than Hurst, at 260 lbs. Also inevitable.

CB Reon Dawson: At 6'2", 170 lbs., Dawson was reed-thin coming into the year, and he was also deemed a raw prospect. Add to that the fact that Michigan had a couple established corners and a couple more refined freshmen, and the writing was on the wall.

CB Ross Douglas: Douglas had decent size at 5'10", 176 lbs. as a freshman, and was seen as a feisty competitor in the spring and summer, but his services weren't needed.

LS Scott Sypniewski: With fifth year senior Jareth Glanda handling the long- and short-snapping duties, Sypniewski wasn't needed this year.


  1. I guess it is interesting to note that Hoke played almost everyone who was not injured, too light, had an established started who wouldn't be budged or a freshman lineman (with the exception of Bosch). Is this a trend? I know you made similar comments last year.

    1. I think it's a philosophy more than a trend. The coaches obviously want to play freshmen if they're capable, whether it's from a recruiting perspective (You can play early!) or from an athletic perspective (Scholarship Freshman A is a better natural athlete than Walk-on Senior B). I just wonder if that might hurt them a couple years down the road if/when some youngsters aren't capable of playing and some seniors have graduated before they should.

  2. Question: If Csont'e York played even for a few snaps how can he be red shirted, the NCAA rules says if you played at all you've burned the shirt? Are they going to plead injury like Gardner?

    1. I have no idea if they will plead injury like they did with Devin Gardner, but it's certainly a possibility. I would even say it's likely, considering it was just one game.

  3. Would have liked to see Morris get a few more snaps in game situations. We have no QB coach to work with the back ups as Borges is spending the majority of his time with Gardner and the entire Offense, especially this year trying to work out the bugs.

    I just don't see the QB development under this regime. With a bit more playing time Morris might at least have learned something from the school of hard knocks.

    1. I have been saying this repeatedly, but the majority of teams - even the top teams - have an offensive coordinator who doubles as the QB coach. The last time I checked, 7 of the top 10 teams (although rankings have surely changed) in the nation had an OC/QB coach. Borges may or may not be better than other guys who pull that duty, and that should be the real discussion.

      I guess I'm not sure what you mean by not seeing QB development. Denard Robinson didn't improve, but Denard Robinson was never a good quarterback. He was an ATH in high school, nobody wanted him as a QB, and he really didn't fit what Hoke/Borges wanted. So I'm inclined to give Hoke/Borges a mulligan on that one. Gardner had some very good games this year, and he had some stinkers, but a lot of his stinkers can be blamed on poor offensive line play (MSU, Nebraska, etc.). Personally, I thought he recalibrated throughout the season pretty well. His Iowa game was okay and he suffered some key drops, then his Ohio State game was outstanding; he cut his interceptions from 10 in the first half of the year to 1 in the second half. That seems like development to me.

    2. It's not that Denard didn't improve, it's that is quarterback efficiency rating went down 10 points from his sophomore to junior year, and then another 10 points his junior to senior year. Gardner was a better quarterback when he had been practicing at WR all year. Looking at our Quarterback's developments like that make me scratch my head and say, WAIT a minute... the more time our QBs spend with Borges, the worse they get? Hmmmmmm.....

      And granted, I know it's not that simple. Different teams, different OLs, different WRs, different everything. But it is one biased way to look at it if you ALready don't like Borges, which I don't.

    3. Yeah, I just disagree because I think it's very selective evidence. First of all, Denard under Rodriguez and Denard under Hoke are two very different things. I choose to ignore those because of the vast differences between offensive systems. That might seem selective (and, in fact, it IS selective), but that's just too significant to ignore.

      Gardner had a better PER in 2012, but he wasn't beaten up and didn't face MSU or Alabama. He played Minnesota and Northwestern, then had the advantage of Denard returning as a RB against Iowa - which threw off the Hawkeyes - and then a mediocre game against Ohio State. It's difficult to calibrate for the differences in opponents, the offensive line, etc. I just think saying he regressed ignores a clear improvement in turnovers and the historic games he had against Notre Dame, Indiana, and Ohio State.

    4. Denard improved dramatically, at least relative to his freshman year. Hard to gauge his JR and SR year when injuries and scheme changes overriding any individual development. Oh and he was a really really good QB for Michigan, who had great success and often carried the offense. You want to say he wasn't a good 'passer' and I won't argue. But he was an excellent QB. One of the greatest in Michigan's history.

      As for Gardner, cutting interceptions sounds fine until you remember that the number of sacks exploded and the offense's effectiveness collapsed. Obviously the OL played a big role in that, but they also played a role in those INTs. Gardner just picked a different poison. Is that development? Maybe, but the offense really sputtered a few of those games where he had zero INTs. Plus, there were several drops there - DG got lucky.

      Just because the passing stats improved doesn't mean the QB played better.

    5. I think Gardner got better and put up a heroic performance. One of the biggest MVPs, if not THE biggest, that I can remember when you consider that there was no alternative to him playing.

      I do think he got better this year, but I don't know how much to credit Borges.

      The development issues that stand out to me are at OL and especially at TE. OL - o.k., you can't necessarily expect red-shirt freshman to start but it's disappointing that we were 0-4 in that department and had to lead on a true freshman and walk-on. What's really concerning is how AJ Williams and Devin Funchess failed to develop as blockers. Still hoping for a turnaround.

    6. Mixed evidence, I'd say. I think Denard just wasn't a talented enough to be a QB -- his vision and reads just weren't there, and some of that won't change even with first-rate coaching. Don't get me wrong, I love Denard as much as the next Michigan fan, but he wasn't cut to be a good QB. His drop off in production was almost inevitable given the system change. Rich Rod's system could've masked some of his QB issues with sheer athleticism and speed.

      Also a mixed bag of evidence for Devin Gardner. He def cut down on interceptions and the OL issues we had would've screwed up any college QB. I understand the calls for QB coach but I think we got to wait another year to see how much Borges can really do. I think he received a 3-yr contract after 2011, so we'll see if he earns that contract renewal.

  4. "With fifth year senior Jareth Glanda handling the long- and short-snapping duties, Sypniewski wasn't needed this year."

    Now I'm curious ... can you recall a case where a long-snapper was ever injured in a game? What's the success rate for long-snappers thrust into a game situation? In other words, is long-snapping one of those things where practice off the field translates well to stressful game situations? Or are newbie long-snappers prone to nerve mistakes early in their game experiences?

    1. I remember seeing it once, but I couldn't tell you the team. The guy was injured on punt coverage, and his backup botched a snap in the game. I have no idea. I know as a high school coach, I would never put in a backup LS for an extra point/field goal. I would just go for two, go for the first down, etc. High schools just don't have enough time to practice multiple long snappers. Of course, every college team has multiple long snappers who can devote more time to their craft, so it might not be so drastic of a drop for them. I do think young long snappers are prone to nerves, so it's good to let them grow up and mature a little bit.

    2. It happened to the Michigan team in the fall of 1999. I can't remember the guys name, but he broke his arm making a tackle on punt coverage. The other thing I can't recall is if there were snapping issues for the remainder of the season with the backup in place.

  5. Did you miss McCray, or is he gone and I missed it?

  6. What's up with Terry Richardson? True freshman are jumping him despite being a third year guy. That doesn't sound good.

  7. Hmm......this sounds very familiar, like the post I made at MGoBlog a few days ago.....http://mgoblog.com/diaries/revisiting-redshirts-2013

    It is nice to see that TTB is thinking along the same lines as I was in my post. I'm sure my check is in the mail for all the page clicks you get on this one, right Thunder? I'm just kidding - thanks for putting this together. I came to similar conclusions.

    -- I think Jones was the biggest mistake since he has a lot of upside and wasted a year without WR snaps. I wasn't as upset by York since I didn't think he had the long-term upside that would warrant a 5th year, but interesting to know that you disagree.
    -- I wish Bosch, Taco, and at least one of the safeties didn't play. I hope that Thomas or Hill will be helped next year by playing so much on special teams this year, but given that they had zero impact on defense it is hard to justify wasting BOTH of their redshirts, especially when we're think at safety the next couple of years.
    -- Morris was a necessity and I think the coaches were expecting to play him a lot against Akron and UConn....oops.
    -- Someone in the comments on my post had a different take though and said that the coaches should fight the urge to play any freshman who isn't going to be a productive member of the rotation. He made a compelling case that the only freshman who should have played this year were Butt, Green, Smith, and EITHER Stribling or Lewis but not both. He felt that there was a viable upper classman that could have substituted the snaps of everyone else on the list. It is hard to argue that point unless the coaches felt that there weren't enough bodies for special teams and someone had to play.

    Thanks for the post!


    1. I was asked for something like this during the season, but I told the poster I was going to wait until the end of the year. Great minds think alike, I guess...

      I wish a few of these guys didn't play, either, but I think some of them were necessary (like Bosch). They probably could have done without playing Charlton, but they would have had to shift some guys around. I feel like I say this every year, but I think there will be more redshirts in the 2015 class now that the talent/depth have been re-established.

    2. I agree that the redshirt "policy" will change as the roster and staff become more solidified. They're still recovering from recruiting and attrition issues from the past few years. A guy like Hill should be able to redshirt when there is a two-deep in front of him. A guy like Taco could save a year when we have ample players.

      As for Bosch, I totally understand the intent behind playing him. We were awful up front, we had tried everyone else in front of him on the depth chart to no avail, why not see if it works? But considering he ended up losing his job to the guy he replaced (Kalis) and we had continued struggles (especially with snapping from Glasgow), I think you could have saved him by going back to Bryant, Miller, or Kalis. In the end it doesn't matter a lot with how many OL they signed in his class, but much like Morris it would have been different with hindsight.


  8. I don't really have a big problem with any of the decisions. Each can be justified in one way or another. That said, I do wish some of the seemingly redundant red-shirts could have been avoided (Thomas OR Hill, Stribling OR Lewis, Green OR Smith). In hindsight, I'd have sat Thomas because of his upside and Lewis and Smith because I think Stribling and Green made significant contributions.

    I think there's a high liklihood we don't regret the decision to play Jones or York anymore than we regret Jeremy Jackson's burned red-shirt 4 years ago.

    I do think we'll wish Bosch had another year, but this year's experience should help him for next year, when he'll be relied upon to start.

    As for Morris - count me amongst those who will be hoping for a red-shirt next year, but not expecting it.

  9. That's a lot of redshirts in this day and age. Michigan must have a lot of depth and this will add to it.

    1. Is it?

      My initial reaction is that we've played a lot of true freshman the last couple years, but I would like to see a comparison between other Big Ten teams. 13 of the 26 guys in this class played so that's red shirting only 50%. I'd think we would want to get to the point where we have the depth needed to red-shirt about 75%.

      I just did a little digging and it looks like MSU has played a total of 13 true freshman the last 3 years.