Sunday, August 31, 2014

Grantland: Predicting the NFL's Unpredictable

Bill Barnwell predicts the up-and-down performances of the 2014 season (LINK).

Hit the jump for a few pictures of pretty women, including a bouncy gif.

Video: Countdown to Kickoff - Days 1, 2, and 3

It's a day late, but here are the last few Countdown to Kickoff videos:

Day 3
Day 2
Day 1

Hit the jump for some good looking women at mid-day.

Michigan 52, Appalachian State 14

Devin Funchess had three of these touchdowns on the day (image via Fansided)
The Doug Nussmeier Effect: Quarterbacks. Yes, it was only newly minted FBS team Appalachian State, but starting quarterback Devin Gardner looked about as good as possible. He was 13/14 for 173 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions; he also ran 5 times for 9 yards. Best of all, he made good decisions and his only miss was a laser that fell harmlessly to the turf behind a crossing receiver. I think Nussmeier will use him more often as a runner as the game and situation dictate, but there's no need to get him banged up in a blowout against ASU. Backup Shane Morris (3/5, 37 yards, 1 interception) looked a little shaky, especially on a comeback throw that never should have been released and got picked off by an undercutting corner. That's now 0 touchdowns and 3 interceptions thrown in his career.

The Doug Nussmeier Effect: Running Game. Opponent caveats apply, but Michigan struggled early before quickly finding a rhythm. The combo blocks looked cleaner and the offensive line looked crisper than they did at almost any time last year. The running backs combined for 31 carries, 345 yards, and 3 touchdowns. The inside zone run seemed ineffective at times because Michigan couldn't get a great push. That's a Nussmeier favorite, so they will surely continue to work on that play. Interestingly, Michigan's revamped power play seems to have improved, even though that was a supposed staple of Al Borges's offense and not considered to be a Nussmeier specialty. Perhaps Appalachian State was surprised, or maybe Michigan just executed the power really well in game one.

The Doug Nussmeier Effect: Running Backs. I would have to go back and check to be sure, but it seemed like Michigan really struggled early when they tried to run inside zone. Derrick Green (15 carries, 170 yards, 1 touchdown) got the first series of snaps, and his vision has always been somewhat questionable; those carries did not go well. When he returned to the game, Nussmeier ran power with him. Green hit the hole hard and did well. Meanwhile, for whatever reason(s), De'Veon Smith (8 carries, 115 yards, 2 touchdowns) seemed to get a little better blocking on inside zone plays, and his vision paid off with some nice runs. Green is leaner and quicker than last year, and Smith is what we thought he was. When the offensive line opens holes, they are capable of making some things happen. Drake Johnson (3 carries, 28 yards), Justice Hayes (4 carries, 23 yards), and Wyatt Shallman (1 carry, 5 yards) got some run late in the game, but Green and Smith clearly seem to be the top two options.

Devin Funchess is wearing the #1 jersey. Funchess is the first Michigan player to wear the #1 jersey since Braylon Edwards in 2004. Brady Hoke said that Funchess asked to wear it, so perhaps that's the difference, but it seems odd to me that he was given the jersey while previous standout Jeremy Gallon was not. Gallon had the same number of catches (49) and more yards (829 to 748) in his redshirt junior year than Funchess as a sophomore, and you could tell he was in for a big year because of his connection with Gardner. Gallon, of course, ended up setting receiver records last year. Regardless, Funchess looked very good on Saturday (7 catches, 95 yards, 3 touchdowns) and has the talent to fill the shoulder pads of the #1 jersey.

At least nobody can say Michigan sold out. Because they didn't. The announced attendance was 106,811, which is the 252nd straight game of over 100,000 fans.

Freshman redshirts got burned. Reasonably this time! The only true freshmen to play in the game against Appalachian State were Freddy Canteen, Mason Cole, Bryan Mone, and Jabrill Peppers. This would be excellent news if it holds up, because that means Michigan can save some of its highly touted recruits all the way until they're 22 or 23 years old. I do believe that a couple more freshmen might play this season, especially weakside end Lawrence Marshall.

How 'bout that tight pass coverage? It was pretty tight. Michigan didn't make any picks, but they broke up three passes and came up to tackle well. Jourdan Lewis is as sticky as they come, and he's just a backup. I thought new safety Jeremy Clark looked pretty good in Delano Hill's absence.

How 'bout that defensive line? When it comes to the defensive line, I actually don't think we learned much. If the quarterback held the ball for longer than the play was designed for, he was usually getting hit. Fortunately for the Mountaineers, that wasn't often. Pretty much every defensive lineman bulled his way into the backfield based on sheer size and strength against an overmatched and small-ish offensive line. Appalachian State had some repeated success on their shotgun inside zone play, which also worked well for Indiana and some other teams last year. Michigan might have been able to stop it if there had been a point to do so. But really, if you're whooping a team's butt on the scoreboard and they want to run the ball to deplete the clock, there's not a huge incentive to sell out for stopping that play.

JABRILL PEPPERS. Peppers made 1 nice tackle, dove to make a fair catch on a punt, and returned 1 punt for 6 yards. Then he left the game with a bum ankle. It did not look serious, and Brady Hoke agrees with the first clause of this sentence. He should be back for next week.

The offensive line can't get any worse than last year. I agree. I really think last year's offensive line would have still struggled to churn out yards on the ground like they did in this game. Appalachian State nose tackle Tyson Fernandez (6'2", 330 lbs.) was a load in the middle, and defensive end Ronald Blair (6'4", 275 lbs.) didn't seem too shabby, either. Blair overpowered freshman left tackle Mason Cole on an inside move to sack Gardner, and defensive end Odawala Dada (6'0", 235 lbs.) successfully juked guard Kyle Kalis on his way to a quarterback hurry. Otherwise, it was rare to see an offensive lineman beaten cleanly. There were some frustrating stalemates, and there will be plenty more - along with outright whoopings - to come this year. Michigan's line never coagulated last year, but even if a little less talented, this group is going to be better.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

MLive: Michigan WR Devin Funchess wears #1

Michigan wide receiver Devin Funchess was awarded the #1 jersey for the 2014 season (LINK).

Hit the jump to share your thoughts on that. Or to look at some girls and a bouncy gif.

Michigan's Legends Jerseys

Junior Hemingway wearing the Desmond Howard patch
Michigan's Legends jerseys are unique to the University of Michigan and are awarded each season to players deemed deserving by the coaching staff. The plan is to hand out each jersey number every year, and so far, no freshman has been honored with wearing the jersey. That means that each player listed below has changed his jersey number mid-career, with the exception of Junior Hemingway, who wore #21 prior to the Legends jersey idea but was bedazzled with a Desmond Howard patch during the 2011 season.

Feel free to discuss who will wear #11 and #21 this year. The other jersey numbers are taken by returning players, although someone like Devin Funchess could be given the #1 jersey, which would open up his current #87.

#1: In honor of Anthony Carter/Braylon Edwards
2014: Devin Funchess, WR

#2: In honor of Charles Woodson
2014: Blake Countess, CB

#11: In honor of the Wistert brothers
2013: Courtney Avery, CB/S
2012: Jordan Kovacs, S

#21: In honor of Desmond Howard
2013: Jeremy Gallon, WR
2012: Roy Roundtree, WR
2011: Junior Hemingway, WR

#47: In honor of Bennie Oosterbaan
2012-2014: Jake Ryan, LB

#48: In honor of Gerald Ford
2012-2014: Desmond Morgan, LB

#87: In honor of Ron Kramer
2013: Devin Funchess, TE/WR
2012: Brandon Moore, TE

#98: In honor of Tom Harmon
2013-2014: Devin Gardner, QB

Darian Roseboro, Wolverine

Darian Roseboro (image via Gaston Gazette)
Lincolnton (NC) Lincolnton defensive end Darian Roseboro committed to Michigan on Friday. He chose the Wolverines over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and numerous others.

Roseboro stands 6'4", 283 lbs. and claims a 4.64 forty. As a junior in 2013, he made 125 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, and 7 pass breakups. When he was a sophomore, he had 110 tackles, 32 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, 4 pass breakups, and 4 fumble recoveries. As a freshman, he had 107 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 7 sacks.

ESPN: 4-star, 82 grade, #20 defensive tackle, #165 overall
Rivals: 4-star, #6 defensive tackle, #42 overall
Scout: 4-star, #14 defensive tackle, #151 overall
247 Sports: 4-star, 93 grade, #6 strongside end, #157 overall

Roseboro was offered in May of 2013, and he had been a recruiting priority for the Wolverines from that time onward. He visited Michigan in March and then again in July for the BBQ at the Big House. His final selection came down to Michigan and the North Carolina State Wolfpack, a team that had the hometown advantage (NC State is roughly 3 hours from Lincolnton, whereas UNC is over 4 hours). Now he plans to enroll early at Michigan, beginning in January.

Roseboro has a thick frame with a generous amount of weight in the lower half and a fairly lean upper half. He has a good first step, and he keeps his pad level low when coming out of his stance. He uses his hands consistently to shed blockers and does a good job of finding the ball. He also appears to be a high-motor player who can chase and make hustle plays. Lincolnton uses him as one of their backs in the wishbone, so he has some decent agility but is not what you would call a dynamic runner.

Depending on what position Roseboro plays, quickness may be an issue. He lacks the speed to consistently be an edge rusher. Furthermore, he needs to improve his hand placement and pass rush moves, fundamentals that are a little loose at this juncture.

Overall, I believe Roseboro has a high ceiling as a defensive tackle/strongside end tweener. He doesn't have a lot of body fat, which makes me think that he will grow into a defensive tackle once he adds muscle in a college strength and conditioning program. To play defensive end, I believe Michigan would have to move back to a 4-3 Under defense where he could play the 5-tech; whether Michigan wants to permanently stick with the 4-3 Over remains to be seen. Regardless, Roseboro can find a home in either iteration, so it's not a huge concern. He reminds me a little bit of Glen Steele, a guy who can make plays off the edge with his motor or make a move inside with his strength.

Roseboro is Michigan's eleventh commitment in the class of 2015 and the first from North Carolina since Channing Stribling in 2013. Michigan technically only has about eleven spots in the class, but that number always increases. Meanwhile, Michigan is a little short on rush ends, so they will continue to recruit players like California's Keisean Lucier-South. I do not believe any more defensive tackles or strongside end types are necessary.

TTB Rating: 82 (ratings explanation)

Here are some highlights from a game this year:

2014 Season Countdown List

Juwann Bushell-Beatty was #91 on the countdown
Here's the 2014 Season Countdown list, from #1 to #91. Each profile is linked for your viewing pleasure. I hope you enjoyed your (mostly) daily profiles over the last three months. Maybe I'll go rehab my carpal tunnel now . . .
  1. Devin Gardner
  2. Devin Funchess
  3. Graham Glasgow
  4. Erik Magnuson
  5. Frank Clark
  6. Jake Ryan
  7. Jarrod Wilson
  8. Blake Countess
  9. Kyle Kalis
  10. Brennen Beyer
  11. Jake Butt
  12. Raymon Taylor
  13. James Ross III
  14. Kyle Bosch
  15. Willie Henry
  16. Matt Wile
  17. Chris Wormley
  18. Freddy Canteen
  19. Ty Isaac
  20. Amara Darboh
  21. De'Veon Smith
  22. Desmond Morgan
  23. Jabrill Peppers
  24. Dennis Norfleet
  25. Shane Morris
  26. Jourdan Lewis
  27. Ben Braden
  28. Ondre Pipkins
  29. Derrick Green
  30. Joe Bolden
  31. Delano Hill
  32. Scott Sypniewski
  33. Mario Ojemudia
  34. Will Hagerup
  35. Royce Jenkins-Stone
  36. Sione Houma
  37. Ben Gedeon
  38. Taco Charlton
  39. Jehu Chesson
  40. Keith Heitzman
  41. Maurice Hurst, Jr.
  42. Justice Hayes
  43. Dymonte Thomas
  44. Delonte Hollowell
  45. A.J. Williams
  46. Channing Stribling
  47. Joe Kerridge
  48. Matt Godin
  49. Jeremy Clark
  50. Lawrence Marshall
  51. Jack Miller
  52. Bryan Mone
  53. David Dawson
  54. Ryan Glasgow
  55. Joe Burzynski
  56. Allen Gant
  57. Ian Bunting
  58. Mason Cole
  59. Drake Johnson
  60. Khalid Hill
  61. Da'Mario Jones
  62. Csont'e York
  63. Henry Poggi
  64. Mike McCray
  65. Michael Ferns III
  66. Wyatt Shallman
  67. Tom Strobel
  68. Kenny Allen
  69. Ross Douglas
  70. Maurice Ways
  71. Drake Harris
  72. Noah Furbush
  73. Brandon Watson
  74. Chase Winovich
  75. Patrick Kugler
  76. Blake Bars
  77. Dan Samuelson
  78. Russell Bellomy
  79. Logan Tuley-Tillman
  80. Oops!
  81. Jaron Dukes
  82. Jared Wangler
  83. Chris Fox
  84. Bo Dever
  85. Terry Richardson
  86. Michael Jocz
  87. Wilton Speight
  88. Brady Pallante
  89. Reon Dawson
  90. Brian Cleary
  91. Juwann Bushell-Beatty

Preview: Michigan vs. Appalachian State

Yep, she attended school at Appalachian State. And her name is Caitlin Upton.

Run vs. Appalachian State Defense
Michigan's running game has been dissected ad nauseum all last season and in the off-season. Michigan brought in a new offensive coordinator who will concentrate more on the inside zone play, whereas Al Borges used a mish-mash of schemes and Rich Rodriguez was mostly an outside zone guy. Michigan is very inexperienced on the OL and will be without its best lineman for this game (Graham Glasgow, suspended 1 game for a DUI). In the backfield, Michigan's top two backs have been neck-and-neck so far, with sophomore Derrick Green taking the lead over similarly built sophomore De'Veon Smith. Meanwhile, Appalachian State runs a 3-4 defense with a quality nose tackle in Tyson Fernandez (6'2", 330 lbs.), who will be a problem for center Jack Miller (6'4", 295 lbs.). Both inside linebackers are 235 lbs., but the outside guys are small-ish (anywhere from 185-210 lbs.). For a 3-4 that often uses defensive tackle-sized ends, the defensive ends are manageable in size, but they'll be facing off against first-time starters at the tackle positions. I like Green's upside more, but I actually prefer Smith to see more carries, because he's more of a bruiser and could wear down the defense; Green's a guy who could bust a couple long runs in the second half against a sluggish defense. I like the backs once they get to the second level, but until Michigan proves they can block at the first level . . .
Advantage: Appalachian State

Pass vs. Appalachian State Defense
Michigan has a dynamic quarterback in Devin Gardner who is under the tutelage of an up-and-coming quarterback guru in Doug Nussmeier. That will be a good combination. The top receiver will be tight end-sized Devin Funchess, who supposedly ran a forty in the 4.3's over the summer. Flanker Jehu Chesson improved steadily throughout last year and can take the top off the defense - as well as deliver some devastating blocks. Slot guy Dennis Norfleet is a pint-sized dynamo. All of them are big-play threats, and Michigan will use three or four receivers quite a bit without tight end Jake Butt being available. The pass protection is shaky, but Appalachian State will have to generate a pass rush by blitzing - something that Gardner and his receivers should be able to counter. The Mountaineers will probably match up 6'2", 190 lb. cornerback Jordan Ford with Funchess whenever possible, but the Wolverines have a decided size advantage on the edges. Strong safety A.J. Howard (5'11", 185 lbs.) is a true freshman. If Michigan can establish any kind of running identity, the play action pass should be a large factor. If the Wolverines still struggle to run the ball, Michigan should be able to spread it out a little bit and make some things happen. Gardner has the ability to get out of the pocket and make things happen if protection breaks down, too.
Advantage: Michigan

Run Defense vs. Appalachian State Offense
Michigan's good recruiting classes over the past few years are matriculating through the ranks, and this should be the year when Michigan takes a step forward with the talent level on the field. The Wolverines have size at the defensive tackle positions, plus a 282 lb. backup nose tackle (Maurice Hurst, Jr.) who can shoot gaps in certain situations. Strongside end Brennen Beyer is undersized for the position, but he uses good technique and can hold his ground. Michigan also has a stable of good linebackers who can make solid tackles and plays in the backfield. The center, right guard, and right tackle spots are all listed with an "or" between two players, so it's tough to say how much size they'll have. Either way, the strength appears to be the left side of the line. Sophomore running back Marcus Cox (5'10", 200 lbs.) had 1,250 rushing yards, 559 receiving yards, and 21 total touchdowns in 2013. He will be a multi-purpose threat who will be tough to corral, but he is the only proven commodity. The primary backup is redshirt freshman Terrence Upshaw (5'10", 200 lbs.), who is less of a big-play threat and more of a short yardage guy. I respect Cox's abilities if he can get into open space, but Michigan has enough athletes to keep him sufficiently in check.
Advantage: Michigan

Pass Defense vs. Appalachian State Offense
Michigan has not had a dynamic pass rush in recent years, but there should be at least a slight improvement this season. Especially against a team that often uses four wide receivers, weakside end Frank Clark should have a good day and strongside end Brennen Beyer's lack of size won't hurt him as much. Michigan also has a couple solid pass rushers at defensive tackle in Willie Henry and Chris Wormley, not to mention some good blitzers at linebacker in Jake Ryan and Ben Gedeon. Michigan has a very good crew of corners, so Appalachian State will probably try to attack the young and relatively unproven safeties. Junior quarterback Kameron Bryant (6'1", 205 lbs.) completed 71% of his passes for 2,713 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions as a part-time starter last year, but the top returning pass catcher is running back Cox. None of the returning wideouts caught more than Malachi Jones's 31 receptions or 293 yards, and none caught more than Simms McElfresh's 2 touchdowns. Jones and his backup are both a little over 6'0" tall, but every other receiver on the two-deep is 5'11" or shorter. Michigan has allowed lots of short passes in recent years but come up to tackle. This year we'll see some tighter, perhaps riskier coverages. Michigan might get burned over the top on occasion, but overall, the pass defense should improve.
Advantage: Michigan

Roster Notes
  • Appalachian State has zero players or coaches from the state of Michigan
  • Devin Funchess goes over 100 yards with 2 touchdowns
  • Jabrill Peppers returns a punt for a touchdown
  • Derrick Green leads the team with 80 yards rushing
  • The defense allows 250 total yards
  • Michigan 34, Appalachian State 7

2014 Season Predictions

Devin Gardner
Here's a link (LINK) to a review of my 2013 season predictions if you like to look into the past.

As for the future, here we go:

Leading Rusher
I'm backtracking a little bit here. It seemed like De'Veon Smith was getting a little more hype at the beginning of the summer, but now Brady Hoke is saying that Derrick Green would be getting the first carry against Appalachian State. I have always thought that Green had more upside because of his superior speed, so hopefully the line can block well enough to get him to the second or third level.
Prediction: Green, 700 yards

Leading Receiver
The best receiver on the team is clearly Devin Funchess, and I think this is a pretty obvious pick, barring injury. The only real question appears to be whether he'll break the 1,000-yard barrier. Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier likes to run the ball, and he seems to like to spread out the ball among his receivers.
Prediction: Funchess, 950 yards

Leading Tackler
Michigan rotates linebackers a lot, so I don't think the tackle totals for any one player will be astronomical. It looks like Desmond Morgan will rotate in with both Joe Bolden and Jake Ryan, and the combination of James Ross and Royce Jenkins-Stone looks pretty neck-and-neck right now, too. Throw in a dose of Ben Gedeon, and nobody racks up the tackles. Last year's leading tackler was cornerback Raymon Taylor, but Michigan's tighter coverage will hopefully prevent as many completions in front of the corners.
Prediction: Ryan, 75 tackles

Hit the jump for the rest of the predictions.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Welcome to the Weekend!

Begin the weekend properly with some good looking women, including a Rachel Williams gif.

Visitors: Michigan vs. Appalachian State

Detroit (MI) Cass Tech cornerback Lavert Hill
Brian Cole - WR - Saginaw (MI) Heritage: Cole committed to Michigan in late July (LINK).

Wesley French - OG - St. Joseph (MI) St. Joseph: French is a 6'5", 300 lb. prospect with offers from a handful of MAC schools.

Tyree Jackson - QB - Muskegon (MI) Mona Shores: Jackson is committed to Buffalo (Recruiting Season).

Joeviair Kennedy - WR - Muskegon (MI) Muskegon: Kennedy is a 6'3", 195 lb. prospect with no offers at this time.

Tyree Kinnel - S - Huber Heights (OH) Wayne: Kinnel committed to Michigan a year ago (LINK).

Mike Weber - RB - Detroit (MI) Cass Tech: Weber committed to Michigan earlier this month (LINK).

Hit the jump for 2016 and 2017 prospects.

2014 Season Countdown: #1 Devin Gardner

Devin Gardner
Name: Devin Gardner
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 216 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) Inkster
Position: Quarterback
Class: Redshirt senior
Jersey number: #98
Last year: I ranked Gardner #1 and said he would be the starting quarterback with 63% completions, 3,200 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He was 208/345 (60.3%) for 2,960 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions; he also ran 165 times for 483 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Congratulations to Gardner, who has earned the #1 spot two years in a row! Gardner had a topsy-turvy season in 2013. It started with a mediocre game against Central Michigan (2 interceptions), which was followed by a great game against Notre Dame (5 total touchdowns), then a mediocre stretch, and ending with some great performances against Indiana (a school-record 503 passing yards) and Ohio State (451 yards, 4 touchdowns). With the exception of that game against the Fighting Irish - in which he still threw an ugly interception in his own endzone - Gardner had an uninspiring first half of the year. He was careless with the football and made lots of poor decisions, throwing 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in those first six weeks. Then, despite a blip against Northwestern, Gardner looked pretty darn good in the last six games; he threw 10 touchdowns and 1 interception over that stretch. In his outstanding game against the Buckeyes to end the regular season, he broke his foot and tore ligaments but still led the team to a near victory. Only after the game did we find out that he would be unavailable for the bowl game against Kansas State.

This off-season has included an annoying "quarterback controversy" story line that had no business getting started in the first place. I have no idea why a senior with 4,440 passing yards, 34 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions - despite a subpar/terrible running game the entire time - would be on the hot seat when the only challenger is a sophomore with 0 touchdowns and 2 picks to his name. Those people who stuck to that story were people looking to create drama. The bottom line is that Gardner is one of the most physically talented quarterbacks in the country, essentially a Vince Young clone stuck behind a porous offensive line. Gardner can make all the throws, can create on his own within the pocket, or take off and run like the wide receiver that he was for the first half of the 2012 season. People might think I'm crazy, but physically, I fully believe that Gardner could be a top ten NFL draft pick. The issue with Gardner has been his decision-making. He is loose with the football at times, holds onto the ball too long, pretends he's on the playground . . . . And yet. The pocket will break down a lot this year, and Michigan needs his creativity in and out of the pocket to make things happen offensively. I believe Michigan will be in good hands in the future once Morris takes over the starting job, but he's still raw and would get snowed under with the shaky offensive line in front of him. Gardner gives Michigan a chance in every single game, and he has developed a good relationship with tight end Jake Butt and wide receivers Devin Funchess, Amara Darboh, and Freddy Canteen.

Prediction: Starting quarterback; 3,000 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, 8 interceptions; First Team All-Big Ten

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Smart Football: Pete Carroll explains tackling technique

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll explains the tackling technique taught by one of the best defenses in the NFL (LINK).

Hit the jump for three ladies with nice cleavage.

2014 Season Countdown: #2 Devin Funchess

Devin Funchess
Name: Devin Funchess
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 230 lbs.
High school: Farmington Hills (MI) Harrison
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #87
Last year: He caught 49 passes for 748 yards (15.3 yards/catch) and 6 touchdowns, plus he had 6 carries for 34 yards.

Funchess entered the 2013 season as a starting tight end with significant promise. Unable to block with any consistency whatsoever, the coaches decided to split him out wide midway through the season. He ended the season as a budding star wideout, an All-Big Ten selection (albeit still as a tight end), and someone who looked capable of potentially wearing the #1 jersey at Michigan.  Opposite record-setter Jeremy Gallon, they were opposites in many ways. Gallon was 5'8", while Funchess is 6'5". Gallon was tough and hard-nosed, whereas Funchess is a finesse player despite his size. Upperclassman Gallon was as consistent as receivers come, but Funchess would turn some easy catches into drops. What they both had in common was a knack for the big play and an ability to stretch the defense. Funchess had huge days against Minnesota (7 catches, 151 yards, 1 touchdown) and Penn State (4 catches, 112 yards, 2 touchdowns), not to mention some mind-blowing disrespect for gravity as he hurdled diving tacklers against Indiana and Ohio State. It's not a total stretch to throw out a comparison to Calvin Johnson due to their similar dimensions (Johnson is 6'5", 236 lbs.) and reported speeds (Johnson ran a 4.35 prior to his draft, while Funchess is rumored to have run a 4.33 hand-timed forty this summer). That's a lofty comparison, but it's inevitable.

Funchess will be a full-time wide receiver in 2014, which means he'll be coached by Jeff Hecklinski, who has worked wonders with the likes of Gallon and Junior Hemingway. New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier's quarterbacks have averaged 32 touchdown passes a year over the past three seasons, and a large portion of those touchdowns will likely be tossed from quarterback Devin Gardner to Funchess. Funchess is a matchup nightmare with his size and speed, and he's agile enough to be an end around or bubble screen threat. He has been prone to concentration lapses at times, so Michigan fans should probably expect an occasional frustrating drop. Nussmeier likes to run the ball, and the play action passing game will probably be a large part of the arsenal. Funchess won't put up video game numbers because of the balance required, but he will probably find himself around 1,000 yards by the end of the season and nearing double-digit touchdowns. His backup is redshirt sophomore Amara Darboh, someone with lots of practice hype but nothing to show for it on the field. There would still be potential at receiver if Funchess were to go down for any stretch of time, but that would be a huge blow to the Wolverines' offense.

Prediction: Starting split end; 60 catches, 950 yards, 10 touchdowns

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 Is Brady Hoke the right man for the job?

Michael Rosenberg explores the case(s) for and against Brady Hoke as Michigan's head coach (LINK). I'm giving him an "Incomplete" so far.

Hit the jump for a few pictures of brunette India Reynolds.

Video: Countdown to Kickoff - Days 4, 6

Here are the Countdown to Kickoff videos from:

Day 6
Day 4

Hit the jump for eight good looking women.

2014 Season Countdown: #3 Graham Glasgow

Graham Glasgow (image via Michigan Daily)
Name: Graham Glasgow
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 311 lbs.
High school: Aurora (IL) Marmion Academy
Position: Offensive guard
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #61
Last year: I ranked Glasgow #45 and said he would be a backup center. He started thirteen games at both guard and center.

Going into the 2013 season, nobody really knew what to expect from Glasgow. He was a highly regarded walk-on - for whatever that's worth - but he really struggled to pull in his early spring game appearances, which caused me to question his ability to play that position for a team that wanted to "power" the ball down the field. He began the year as a left guard, and despite some difficulties, he eventually became a solid player. Along with Taylor Lewan, the left side was the strongest side of the line. When center Jack Miller had problems holding the point of attack, the coaches bumped Glasgow to center, benched Miller, and played musical chairs with the left guard position. The move was frustrating to watch, because Glasgow botched at least one exchange per week for his first four games at center; prior centers Elliott Mealer and Miller had zero memorable exchange issues during 2012 or the first few games of 2013. However, Glasgow ironed out his problems by the last third of the season and turned into a solid player.

Observers and coaches seem to agree that Glasgow is Michigan's best lineman going into 2014. He has experience at center and guard, and he also has the ability to play tackle. When I saw him play in high school, I thought he looked like a natural right tackle. Unfortunately, due to a DUI incident this offseason, he will be watching this Saturday's game against Appalachian State. He does not appear on the depth chart, so it's not clear where the coaches see him fitting once he returns from suspension. The possibilities are numerous with his ability to play several positions, but he will almost certainly be a starter from week two onward. Michigan has a true freshman left tackle, a once-benched redshirt junior center, a questionable trio of guys fighting for right guard, and a first-time starter at right tackle; realistically, any of those players could be sidelined in favor of Glasgow, but my guess is that he will play right guard, at least until Kyle Kalis returns to full strength after having back issues for much of August.

Prediction: Starting right guard but will play multiple positions

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

SB Nation: 25 maps that explain college football

These are some interesting maps showing college football fandom, recruiting trends, etc. from around the country (LINK).

Hit the jump for three good looking females.

Recruit Tracker: Garrett Taylor

Garrett Taylor
August 26, 2014: Taylor tore his ACL in practice prior to the year, so he will miss the entire 2014 football season.

Ex-Wolverine Update: Another Pre-Season Edition

Demetrius Hart (#1) has moved on from Alabama to Colorado State (image via 247 Sports)
Former DT Richard Ash: I already reported that Ash will be playing for Western Michigan this fall. What I didn't know until recently is that he will wear the #9 as a defensive tackle. You have to love single-digit numbers on defensive linemen, especially tackles.

Former S Josh Furman: Furman is listed as a 6'2", 202 lb. linebacker for Oklahoma State. He's #1 on the depth chart at "Star," and you can see why they wanted him - his backup is a 6'2", 190 lb. freshman, and the other four players on the linebacker two-deep are one junior, two sophomores, and another freshman. They open against Florida State on August 30th.

Former RB commit Demetrius Hart: Hart is a grad transfer from Alabama to Colorado State. He struggled to break through at Alabama and had some off-the-field troubles, but former Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Jim McElwain is now at CSU. Now Hart is trying to earn the starting gig for the Rams. They open against Colorado on August 29th.

Former LB Kaleb Ringer: Ringer - and his brother - are not listed on Ferris State's football roster this fall.

Former CB commit Anthony Standifer: Standifer was booted from Ole Miss's program after getting into some trouble, and he now appears on the roster of Eastern Illinois (his home state), which plays in the FCS's Ohio Valley Conference.

Former OT commit Denzel Ward: Ward is listed as a 6'8", 353 lb. freshman offensive tackle for Syracuse.

Former DE/DT Ken Wilkins: Wilkins appears on the California University of Pennsylvania football roster as a junior 6'3", 250 lb. defensive lineman. It is a destination for some former big-time football players, including Jeff Knox (a former Pitt player who was booted for attacking a girl who told him she was pregnant) and Desimon Green (a former Texas Tech commit).

2014 Season Countdown: #4 Erik Magnuson

Erik Magnuson
Name: Erik Magnuson
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 294 lbs.
High school: San Diego (CA) La Costa Canyon
Position: Offensive guard
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #78
Last year: I ranked Magnuson #76 and said he would be a backup offensive tackle. He started seven games at offensive guard.

I woefully underranked Magnuson last season, and I even got caught up in the whole "Ben Braden started the spring game so the coaches must like him" wave. Alas, Braden played as a backup in just a couple games, and Magnuson eventually earned his way onto the field as one of the five people to start games at left guard. Magnuson was not what I would call "good" but he was solid playing next to Taylor Lewan. (Personally, I was extremely frustrated when Michigan put Magnuson in at left guard for an unbalanced quarterback sneak against UConn, because I would think Lewan should be nearest to the quarterback and plowing forward for yardage. The attempt failed.)

Magnuson returns to his left guard position this fall after missing much of the spring due to shoulder surgery. The depth chart released on Monday says that he will start at left guard while left tackle will be manned by freshman Mason Cole. I am not a fan of starting a freshman on the offensive line, but that's the way it goes with so much uncertainty, a lack of much experience, and some terrible play fresh in everyone's mind. Magnuson's recruiting profile and play last year suggest that he could play left tackle, and he would probably bump out to that spot if anything were to happen to Cole. But in the meantime, this will give the team a solid interior blocker. Nobody on the line will be approaching all-conference status, but I look for him to be Michigan's best or second-best lineman this year, right up there with Graham Glasgow.

Prediction: Starting left guard

Monday, August 25, 2014

CBS Sports: Big Ten preview - Expert predictions

The "experts" at CBS Sports predict awards, breakout performers, etc. for the upcoming season (LINK).

Hit the jump for three women with nice cleavage.

Week 1 depth chart released

Here's a snapshot of Michigan's depth chart for the opener against Appalachian State:

Thoughts, anyone?

2014 Season Countdown: #5 Frank Clark

Frank Clark
Name: Frank Clark
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 277 lbs.
High school: Cleveland (OH) Glenville
Position: Defensive end
Class: Senior
Jersey number: #57
Last year: I ranked Clark #7 and said he would be the starting weakside end with 50 tackles and 8 sacks. He made 43 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries (1 returned for a touchdown), and 1 pass breakup.

Clark got a ton of hype going into 2013. He promptly disappointed a lot of fans in the first three games. But from week four onward, he stepped up his game. If you pretend he was injured against Central Michigan, Notre Dame, and Akron, he made 39 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks in nine games! That's pretty impressive. His season highlight was probably the fumble returned for a touchdown against Penn State, but it might also have been his 9 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss against Michigan State. There were several solid outings - enough to be named Second Team All-Big Ten - but it's hard to cleanse the bitter taste from your mouth after that ineffectual start.

But hey, it's a new year. We're all a year older and a year smarter and a year closer to paying off our mortgages. Oh, happy day! Clark has put on just a couple pounds since last year, and despite being 20 lbs. heavier than Brennen Beyer, he's staying on the weak side. Michigan faces a couple patsies within the first few weeks, so in a year when he should be trying to show off for the impending NFL Draft, he had better get off to a faster start. Furthermore, the opposing offensive tackles he'll face this year should be a little less talented, so I expect a significant - but not outlandish - jump in production. Even though he might not be Michigan's most talented defensive player, he's ranked this high because the backups at weakside are few and unproven. With Beyer and sophomore Taco Charlton over on the strong side, the only experienced backup is junior Mario Ojemudia. After him it's freshman Lawrence Marshall, who would ideally redshirt but will probably play a few snaps here and there like Ojemudia did in 2012. It's important that Clark stay healthy because Beyer is not a good pass rusher, and the interior defensive linemen only have that thing called "potential." I'll stick with with my slightly updated prediction for last year.

Prediction: 50 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 8 sacks

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Grantland: 2014 Big Ten football preview

Holly Anderson previews the 2014 season in the Big Ten (LINK).

Hit the jump for three ladies in nice dresses.

Video: Countdown to Kickoff - Days 7, 8, 9

Here are the new Countdown to Kickoff videos:

Day 9
Day 8
Day 7

Hit the jump for some mid-day ladies on a Sunday.

2014 Season Countdown: #6 Jake Ryan

Jake Ryan
Name: Jake Ryan
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 236 lbs.
High school: Cleveland (OH) St. Ignatius
Position: Linebacker
Class: Redshirt senior
Jersey number: #47
Last year: I ranked Ryan #24 and said he would be the starting SAM when he returned from injury with 35 tackles and 3 sacks. He started five games and made 30 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 1 pass breakup.

I went into 2013 calling Ryan Michigan's best defensive player. He was Second Team all-conference in 2012, but a springtime torn ACL delayed his debut last season. He returned to play a part-time role in the Penn State game in mid-October, but like Whoopi Goldberg standing in for Patrick Swayze, it just wasn't the same. Ryan played in eight games, but was only deemed capable of starting five. Cameron Gordon did an okay job in his stead, but the front seven lacked a playmaker except for an occasional burst from Frank Clark. Ryan still managed to be named Michigan's top linebacker, but those statistics aren't super impressive. We knew it was going to be a disappointing season for him because of the injury, and . . . well . . . we weren't disappointed. In our disappointment.

To start this season, Ryan will be 1.5 years removed from his ACL tear and should have few lingering effects. He has bumped over to middle linebacker in Michigan's 4-3 Over, previously having been a SAM in the Under defense. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison has taken over coaching the linebackers, and the staff wants Ryan to be able to play sideline to sideline. Word out of practice is that he has taken to the switch, and I thought Ryan was more of a prototypical middle linebacker when he came out of high school. I'm excited to see what he can do in the middle. At times in the past, he has done an excellent job of blitzing on the interior, and those opportunities should become more frequent this season. The flip side of my excitement is that Michigan has done an excellent job of recruiting linebackers over the past few seasons, and there are capable replacements on the roster. Senior Desmond Morgan has been a three-year starter - though he seems to be getting benched in favor of junior Joe Bolden - and sophomore Ben Gedeon showed flashes of brilliance late last year. Ryan should have a good year himself, but the defense would not be totally destroyed if he were lost for a stretch.

Prediction: Starting middle linebacker; 75 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 3 sacks

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Go Blue Wolverine: Henry now buying in

Sam Webb has the story on redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Willie Henry's up-and-down year (LINK).

Hit the jump for three very good looking ladies.

2014 Season Countdown: #7 Jarrod Wilson

Jarrod Wilson (#22)
Name: Jarrod Wilson
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 205 lbs.
High school: Akron (OH) Buchtel
Position: Safety
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #22
Last year: I ranked Wilson #20 and said he would start at free safety with 40 tackles and 2 interceptions. He made 50 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, and 2 pass breakups.

Wilson really struggled as a true freshman safety in 2012, which is one piece of evidence I see when I argue that freshman safeties really scare me. On the plus side, Wilson improved significantly in 2013 when he started eight games and made 50 tackles with 2 picks. He had some thunderous tackles and a few heads-up plays. Things had been moving too fast for him as a freshman, and last year he was moving fast enough.

This year I expect Wilson to take another step toward becoming the ball hawking safety that I expected him to be coming out of high school. He has several good cornerbacks battling for spots on the outside, which should make his job a little easier on the back end. Even with a first-time starter at strong safety - whether it's Delano Hill or Jeremy Clark - the back end of Michigan's defense should improve. Wilson will take over for the graduated Thomas Gordon as the point man in the secondary, and Wilson has better size and more range. Some people may put Wilson higher on this list, but I think the Wolverines have enough pieces to move around if an injury were to occur. I might be going out on a limb here, but I think Wilson might be in the discussion for some all-conference honors due to some increased pressure on the quarterback and some improved play at the corner spots.

Prediction: Starting free safety; 60 tackles, 3 interceptions

Friday, August 22, 2014

Grantland: The Guru to the Road Graders

Robert Mays looks at the story of LeCharles Bentley, the former Ohio State and NFL lineman who has turned into a mentor for this generation of NFL linemen.

Hit the jump for three great looking girls.

Welcome to the Weekend!

Start your weekend off with some beautiful women.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Postgame: Fireworks issue blows up in Dave Brandon's face

The title clearly indicates some vindictive feelings, but John U. Bacon wraps up my thoughts pretty well on the fireworks thing. 

Hit the jump for three good looking women.

Video: Countdown to Kickoff - Days 10, 11, 12

Here are some links to the last few days of Countdown to Kickoff:

Day 12
Day 11
Day 10

Hit the jump for some good looking ladies in the middle of your Thursday.

2014 Season Countdown: #8 Blake Countess

Blake Countess
Name: Blake Countess
Height: 5'10"
High school: 180 lbs.
Position: Cornerback
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #2
Last year: I ranked Countess #9 and said he would start at cornerback with 55 tackles and 2 interceptions. He made 46 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 6 interceptions (returned for 169 yards and 1 touchdown), and 4 pass breakups.

Countess mostly had a great year in 2013. He returned from his 2012 ACL tear and showed no ill effects, tying for #1 in the conference and #7 nationally with 6 interceptions. When Michigan would go from their standard 4-3 defense to a nickel, he would bump down into the slot. He - along with anybody else the coaching staff threw out there - got torched by Kansas State wideout Tyler Lockett, which somewhat dampened the excitement about Countess's return coming into 2013. Regardless, he came up with some huge plays with 2 interceptions of Notre Dame, 1 pick against Ohio State, and another returned for a touchdown against Minnesota.

The 2014 season might be different altogether. One of the bewildering storylines is that Countess switched from the #18 to Charles Woodson's #2 jersey, which directly preceded the revelation that Countess has been running with the second string defense behind Jourdan Lewis, sometimes Jabrill Peppers, and sometimes Raymon Taylor. It was also revealed that Countess has been nursing a groin injury, so that may have contributed to the coaches taking it easy on him. It seems clear that Lewis has forced his way into the lineup as a sophomore, so the battle is for that other corner spot. I have a very hard time believing that an All-Big Ten player who made 6 picks and earned the #2 jersey from a fairly stingy coaching staff will be benched in favor of Lewis/Peppers, who have combined for 17 tackles and 2 pass breakups in college. The most likely lineup to me has Lewis and Countess on the field at virtually all times with Peppers bouncing in at nickel, while Taylor can rotate in or perhaps even play safety. Anyone who claims to know how the rotation will pan out is lying. Last year Lewis, Channing Stribling, and Courtney Avery were in a constant battle for playing time, and I expect defensive snaps to fluctuate once again this year.

Prediction: Starting corner; 40 tackles, 4 interceptions

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

MLive: Darboh hopes to bring a little extra to Michigan's offense

Wide receiver Amara Darboh has an interesting physical feature (LINK).

Hit the jump for three ladies of the good looking variety.

USA Today College Football Countdown: #18 Notre Dame

Paul Myerberg previews the 2014 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (LINK).

Rivals 250 updated for 2015

Mike Weber is the #104 player in the country
Rivals updated its top 250 players for 2015 on Tuesday (LINK). The Rivals 100 was updated yesterday (LINK).

101. John Reid - CB - Pennsylvania (Penn State)
102. Jashon Cornell - DE - Minnesota (Ohio State)
104. Mike Weber - RB - Michigan (Michigan)
114. Shaun Crawford - CB - Ohio (Notre Dame)
140. Juwan Johnson - WR - New Jersey (Penn State)
147. Matt Burrell, Jr. - OT - Virginia
148. Devonaire Clarington - TE - Florida
151. Miles Boykin - WR - Illinois (Notre Dame)
160. Tim Settle - DT - Virginia
164. Auden Tate - WR - Florida (Florida State)
165. Kirk Merritt - WR - Louisiana
167. Darrin Kirkland, Jr. - LB - Indiana (Michigan)
169. Keenan Walker - OT - Arizona (Arizona)
170. Pat Allen - OT - Maryland (Georgia)
175. Johnny Frasier - RB - North Carolina (Florida State)
192. Hjalte Froholdt - DT - Florida (Arkansas)
195. Tyree Kinnel - S - Ohio (Michigan)
199. Grant Newsome - OT - New Jersey (Michigan)
209. Josh Barajas - LB - Indiana (Notre Dame)
224. Devante Peete - WR - Florida
227. Ryan Bates - OT - Pennsylvania (Penn State)
228. Joshua McMillon - LB - Tennessee
236. William Sweet - OT - North Carolina (North Carolina)
237. Keaton Sutherland - OT - Texas (Texas A&M)
243. Jaylon Lane - CB - Texas (Oklahoma State)
244. Juval Mollette - WR - New Jersey (North Carolina)
246. Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. - DE - New York
247. Mook Reynolds - CB - North Carolina (Virginia Tech)
248. Jordan Whitehead - CB - Pennsylvania

2014 Season Countdown: #9 Kyle Kalis

Kyle Kalis
Name: Kyle Kalis
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 298 lbs.
High school: Lakewood (OH) St. Edward
Position: Offensive guard
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #67
Last year: I ranked Kalis #29 and said he would start at right guard. He started eight games at right guard.

Kalis disappointed a lot of Michigan fans in 2013 with his unspectacular play. Despite being a redshirt freshman, a lot of the frustration for Michigan's failure to run the ball came down on Kalis. He would probably admit that he had a subpar season, but that could apply to the whole offensive line; it was a systemic failure that started with the offensive coordinator and trickled on down. Not only were the hogs up front not getting any push, but there were communication failures that allowed defenders to slice through the line at will. After the season, Kalis revealed that he had been hampered by an ankle injury and a back injury, which saw him get benched for a short mid-season stretch. He still managed to be named to the ESPN Freshman All-Big Ten team.

Unfortunately, the back issue still appears to be lingering. Kalis has missed several practices recently, including last Saturday night's open scrimmage. Head coach Brady Hoke stated strongly to the affirmative that Kalis would be starting if he were healthy. Considering the lineup sent out there on Saturday, my guess is that Graham Glasgow would slide back to center, Jack Miller would return to the bench, and Kalis would enter at right guard. Back injuries are notoriously tricky and can persist for long stretches of time, so it will be interesting to see how long this lasts for Kalis. I was frustrated by the line's play in 2013, but that does not dampen my hopes that Kalis can be a good college player moving forward.

Prediction: Starting right guard when healthy

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

MLive: Schofield, Lewan jockeying for NFL roles

Brendan Quinn explores the budding professional careers of Michael Schofield and Taylor Lewan (LINK).

Hit the jump for three ladies with nice cleavage.

USA Today College Football Countdown: #19 Iowa

Paul Myerberg breaks down the Iowa Hawkeyes (LINK), a team deemed 19th overall by him. I have a hard time believing they'll be ranked that high by season's end, but we shall see.

Rivals 100 for 2015 updated

Garrett Taylor
The Rivals 100 for 2015 has been updated (LINK). Here's what it looked like back in May (LINK).
Movement for Michigan commits:

- Garrett Taylor remains at #48
- Brian Cole jumps from #106 to #89

2. Josh Rosen - QB - California (UCLA)
3. Iman Marshall - CB - California
5. Josh Sweat - DE - Virginia
10. Damien Harris - RB - Kentucky
12. CeCe Jefferson - DE - Florida
13. Tyron Johnson - WR - Louisiana
14. Kevin Toliver II - CB - Florida (LSU)
15. Minkah Fitzpatrick - CB - New Jersey (Alabama)
16. Mitch Hyatt - OT - Georgia (Clemson)
17. Jacques Patrick - RB - Florida
18. Ray-Ray McCloud III - ATH - Florida (Clemson)
19. Rasheem Green - DT - California
22. Malik Jefferson - LB - Texas
24. Rashad Roundtree - S - Georgia
27. Drew Richmond - OT - Tennessee
29. Christian Kirk - WR - Arizona
30. Keisean Lucier-South - DE - California

31. Terry Beckner, Jr. - DT - Illinois
36. Jerome Baker - LB - Ohio (Florida)
37. Blake Barnett - QB - Texas (Alabama)
41. Isaiah Prince - OT - Maryland
42. Darian Roseboro - DE - North Carolina
43. Kendall Sheffield - CB - Texas
45. DaMarkus Lodge - WR - Texas (Texas A&M)
47. Soso Jamabo - RB - Texas
48. Garrett Taylor - CB - Virginia (Michigan)
49. Justin Hilliard - LB - Ohio (Ohio State)
50. Jarrett Stidham - QB - Texas (Texas Tech)
51. Osa Masina - LB - Utah
54. Chris Clark - TE - Connecticut (Michigan)
57. Shy Tuttle - DT - North Carolina
64. Preston Williams - WR - Georgia (Tennessee)
66. Ronald Jones II - RB - Texas (Oklahoma State)
74. Deondre Francois - QB - Florida (Florida State)
78. George Campbell, Jr. - WR - Florida
85. Clelin Ferrell - DE - Virginia (Clemson)
89. Brian Cole - ATH - Michigan (Michigan)
90. Marcus Lewis - CB - Washington, DC
94. Jake Fruhmorgen - OT - Florida (Clemson)

2014 Season Countdown: #10 Brennen Beyer

Brennen Beyer
Name: Brennen Beyer
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 256 lbs.
High school: Plymouth (MI) Plymouth
Position: Defensive end
Class: Senior
Jersey number: #97
Last year: I ranked Beyer #38 and said he would be a part-time starting SAM linebacker. He started five games at SAM, seven games at defensive end, and finished with 27 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 interception (returned for a touchdown), and 1 forced fumble.

Beyer likely would have been a backup in 2013 but for an ACL injury to starting strongside linebacker Jake Ryan. Beyer - who had played SAM earlier in his career - immediately moved back from weakside end to linebacker and rotated with Cameron Gordon. Once Ryan returned mid-season, Beyer moved back to the defensive line. He had his best season yet and finished with 4 tackles for loss and 2 sacks, plus an interception returned for a touchdown against Iowa. I have long held the belief that Beyer plays more because of his ability to carry out his assignment rather than his athletic skills or playmaking ability. For a twelve-game starter at linebacker and defensive end to finish with just 27 tackles and so few tackles for loss, that pretty much has to be the case. After week four of last season, Beyer made zero tackles for loss or sacks.

This season Beyer appears to be a starter by default. The coaches have been throwing him in there since freshman year with mediocre results, and I see no reason for that to change now. Not only that, but Michigan is thin at defensive end and only has nine seniors on the roster. Two of those seniors are defensive ends (Frank Clark is the other), and the rest of the Wolverines need their leadership. The challengers at strongside end are sophomore Taco Charlton (2 tackles, .5 tackles for loss) and redshirt freshman Henry Poggi; they have talent, but barely a lick of experience. Beyer will still be mostly an edge player in the 4-3 Over, but I still think he's a little undersized. He will probably raise his production level a little bit just by being on the strong side and playing a lot, but I will not get my hopes up for an outstanding season. By this point in his career, we seem to know that Beyer will give a steady performance. Luckily, there are several other potential stars on the defense that can be the playmakers.

Prediction: Starting strongside end; 35 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 3 sacks

Monday, August 18, 2014

Every Day Should Be Saturday: Big Ten Preview - Michigan

Here's an EDSBS preview of Michigan (LINK).

Hit the jump for three girls in bikinis and a nice gif.

Video: Countdown to Kickoff - Days 13, 14, 15

Here's another trio of Countdown to Kickoff videos:

Day 15
Day 14
Day 13

Hit the jump for some good looking women in the middle of the day.

2014 Season Countdown: #11 Jake Butt

Jake Butt
Name: Jake Butt
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 249 lbs.
High school: Pickerington (OH) North
Position: Tight end
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #88
Last year: I ranked Butt #40 and said he would be the backup tight end with 3 catches for 35 yards. He made 20 catches for 235 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Butt was a pleasant surprise in 2013. He enrolled early in January, but he looked physically unready during spring ball. When fall came around, he had added some weight and strength. Meanwhile, Michigan's tight end duo of A.J. Williams and Devin Funchess struggled mightily to block anyone. Butt stepped in to start eight games, and Funchess stepped out . . . to wide receiver. Now that change has seemingly been made permanently, and Butt looked the part of a future star while catching 5 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown against Ohio State.

Frustratingly, that leads us to his torn ACL suffered in the spring. Michigan appeared to have its receiving group sorted out pretty well up to that point, and Butt's injury severely weakened the group. The Wolverines are back to A.J. Williams as an option to start, and they have also moved Keith Heitzman from defensive end to tight end in order to shore up the blocking. Williams - who has 1 career catch - has reportedly improved his receiving skills this offseason, but he's unlikely to match Butt's abilities or production. Head coach Brady Hoke has been saying during the offseason that Butt should return by the Big Ten season, so hopefully they can make do for the first few weeks of the year. Even when he returns, Butt will probably not be back to where he was last year, but he offers the blocking, receiving, and running combination that no other tight end on the roster currently possesses.

Prediction: Starting tight end once he returns from injury; 20 catches, 200 yards, 3 touchdowns

Sunday, August 17, 2014

MLive: Greg Mattison downplays Jabrill Peppers' hype

Greg Mattison talks about how the coaches are approaching the season with freshman Jabrill Peppers.

Hit the jump for a few good looking ladies.

Go Blue Wolverine: Top Scrimmage Performers

The Go Blue Wolverine writers break down the top performers from last night's "Under the Lights" open scrimmage (OFFENSE, DEFENSE).

Hit the jump for three very good looking ladies.

2014 Season Countdown: #12 Raymon Taylor

Raymon Taylor
Name: Raymon Taylor
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 184 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) Highland Park
Position: Cornerback
Class: Senior
Jersey number: #6
Last year: I ranked Taylor #14 and said he would be a backup cornerback. He made 86 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 4 interceptions, 9 pass breakups, and 1 fumble recovery.

It was tough to read the defensive backfield going into 2013. It was clear that Thomas Gordon was going to start at safety, and it was clear that Blake Countess was going to start at corner. It also looked like Courtney Avery, previously a nickel corner, would start at the other safety or the other corner. Taylor was reportedly looking up at Avery until the injury, but then Taylor took over the starting corner job and didn't look back. (Meanwhile, Avery played both safety and corner but struggled in both spots.) Taylor played solidly all season and was perhaps Michigan's most consistent corner, while Countess had more of a knack for the big play. Taylor's season included 12 tackles against Michigan State, an interception against three solid Big Ten opponents (MSU, Iowa, Northwestern), and 4 pass breakups against Indiana. It's rare that a cornerback leads the team in tackles, but he edged out linebacker James Ross (86 to 85).

The 2014 season sees Michigan with a glut of cornerbacks, and it's almost frustrating to watch. There are so many good players that it's impossible for all of them to get a fair share of the playing time. The two most experienced guys - Taylor and Countess - have been running behind sophomore Jourdan Lewis and freshman Jabrill Peppers at times this fall. Lewis seems penciled in to start already, and the nickel corner position seems perfectly designed for Peppers. That might leave fourth-year players Taylor and Countess vying for the one open cornerback position, and that's not to mention sophomore Channing Stribling and senior Delonte Hollowell, both of whom have played quite a bit. If I had to guess right this moment, I would have to say that Countess would be that other starter with Taylor supporting both outside corners. How can an All-Big Ten player who was awarded Charles Woodson's #2 jersey suddenly become Michigan's fourth corner? With the way things appear to be shaking out, this is too high for Taylor, and if I'm being honest, I have no idea how the playing time at corner will shake out. It would be disappointing for Taylor to be a backup during his final season, but the best players have to play.

Prediction: Backup corner

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Happy 15,000,000th page view!

The last month and a half have seen the most traffic in the site's history, so we went from 14,000,000 to 15,000,000 pretty quickly. Take a gander at about 25 beautiful women - plus a Helen Flanagan gif - by hitting the jump.

MLive: Greg Mattison defends Brady Hoke

Brendan Quinn gives a little history lesson on Greg Mattison, who goes on to defend Brady Hoke (LINK), who some believe is on the hot seat this year.

Hit the jump for three women with nice cleavage.

2014 Season Countdown: #13 James Ross III

James Ross III (#15)
Name: James Ross III
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 227 lbs.
High school: Orchard Lake (MI) St. Mary's
Position: Linebacker
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #15
Last year: I ranked Ross #6 and said he would be the starting will with 90 tackles and 2 sacks. He made 85 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery.

For a starter who nearly led the team in tackles, Ross was disappointing to some fans in 2013. The three-man rotation at the inside linebacker spots eventually grew to include four men, and Ross started just nine games. He had 8+ tackles in five games, including a career-high 13 against Northwestern. And yet. Listed at a generous 6'1" and at roughly 220 lbs., it seemed at times that Ross was a little light and taking the hits rather than giving them. We know that he can hit hard - we just have to watch practice videos of him lighting up ball carriers and blockers. When Saturdays roll around, though, Ross just seems to play a tiny bit slower and a tiny bit less aggressively.

This year Ross faces a new challenge. He was moved to SAM linebacker in Michigan's 4-3 Over defense, where he will regularly be lining up over the tight end. He will also be fighting something familiar: competition. Junior Royce Jenkins-Stone bounced to SAM from middle linebacker, and he has reportedly taken to his new role. Michigan's current coaching staff has constantly rotated linebackers, so Jenkins-Stone will probably see plenty of playing time. But I have long been fond of Ross's abilities to read and react. The key this season will be to see how he deals with big bodies being thrown at him on the strong side, such as an offensive tackle on zone runs or a fullback on a zone read or a tight end blocking down on a power. Hopefully Ross can be a little quicker and a little more aggressive in his third year, but the tools are there to be all-conference.

Prediction: Starting SAM linebacker; 90 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 3 sacks

Friday, August 15, 2014

Welcome to the Weekend!

It's the weekend, so enjoy some pictures of good looking women.

Chicago Sun-Times: Navy SEAL tries to secure spot on Northwestern football team

I've been reading a couple books about SEALs lately, so I just thought this was an interesting story about a Navy SEAL trying to make the Wildcats' football team (LINK).

Hit the jump for some nice behinds, including a jiggly gif.

Notre Dame suspends four players for academic fraud

KeiVarae Russell
This is notable because it's a Michigan rival, the second opponent on the 2014 schedule, and a consistent threat in midwest recruiting. If things go sour for Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly and the program, that could bode well for the Wolverines. Plus, you know . . . it's somewhat fun to watch them suffer.

Regardless, I won't be dancing on their grave just yet. The Fighting Irish have done a good job of recruiting - as always - so there are some potential impact players behind those who have been suspended.

WR DaVaris Daniels
Daniels is a junior whom Michigan recruited out of high school. Last year he caught 49 passes for 745 yards and 7 touchdowns, and he was Notre Dame's leading returning receiver. Now that title falls to junior Chris Brown (not that Chris Brown), who caught 15 passes for 209 yards and 1 touchdown in 2013. Wide receiver T.J. Jones and tight end Troy Niklas both moved on to the NFL.

LB Kendall Moore
Moore was a senior who was expected to be buried on the bench despite making 17 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 interception in 2013.

CB Keivarae Russell
Russell had 51 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 interception, and 8 pass breakups last season. He was Notre Dame's top returning cornerback. Opposite him would have been Cody Riggs, a fifth year senior transfer from Florida; Riggs had 51 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and 3 pass breakups as a safety for the Gators in 2013. Russell's backup was sophomore Devin Butler (another former Michigan target), who made 5 tackles and 1 pass breakup in 2013.

DE Ishaq Williams
Williams had 17 tackles, 1.5 tackes for loss, and 1 sack in 2013. His lone career sack came against Michigan last year. While he started just one game last season, he was expected to start at defensive end this year. His backup is sophomore Isaac Rochelle, who had 10 tackles last year.

USA Today College Football Countdown: #26 Arizona

Paul Myerberg previews the team of our old friend, Rich Rodriguez, and his Arizona Wildcats (LINK).