Tuesday, July 28, 2015

2015 Season Countdown: #33 Ty Isaac

Ty Isaac
Name: Ty Isaac
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 240 lbs.
High school: Joliet (IL) Catholic
Position: Running back
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #32
Last year: I ranked Isaac #19 and said he would redshirt. He redshirted.

Isaac committed to USC in the class of 2013 and spent his freshman season as a backup for the Trojans. He ran 40 times for 236 yards (5.9 yards/carry) and 2 touchdowns, and he caught 4 passes for 57 yards (14.3 yards/catch). As a recruit he was considered to be a kid who wanted to stay close to home, so it was a surprise that he chose USC in the first place. When he decided to transfer, it was unclear if it was the depth chart or a health issue with his mother (or a combination of the two) that brought him back to the midwest. He applied for a waiver from the NCAA to play immediately, and when I ranked him #19 last year, he was in limbo about whether he would be granted the waiver or not. His request was not granted, so he redshirted like most transfers do.

Fast forward a year, and he is probably not in the situation he expected. Brady Hoke was fired after the end of Isaac's redshirt year, and Hoke really recruited him hard out of high school. That was a coaching staff that loved his potential. Meanwhile, Jim Harbaugh and company were mostly coaching in the NFL, and they probably did not have a clue who he was when he was churning out yards in Joliet, Illinois. This spring Isaac was dealing with multiple injuries (he had a cast on his wrist and battled a pulled hamstring), limiting him to just one carry in the spring game before tweaking the hamstring. Since then there have been transfer rumors and questions about Isaac's toughness.

I think Isaac is the most talented running back on the team. I was fairly high on Derrick Green coming of high school in 2013, but I would have ranked Isaac higher. He can do almost anything you want out of a running back - run between the tackles, run outside, run through tackles, make people miss, outrun some people, and catch the ball out of the backfield. The thing that has always been a question about him - and this goes back to his high school days - is his mental toughness, and that is a difficult thing to discern from watching him on film.

I have few doubts that Isaac is talented enough to succeed at this level, but he plays for a coach that demands toughness. So how far does talent take you on this Michigan squad? I have a feeling that De'Veon Smith will be the starter to begin the year because - let's face it - his best attribute is his toughness. Smith isn't going to outrun anyone or juke anybody in the hole, but he will churn his legs until he can't anymore. I think Isaac is a tough guy to keep off the field because he can create more on his own, he can break bigger plays, and he can catch the ball. Some analysts thought he could even play wide receiver in college. And despite questions about his mental fortitude, he does run with good body lean and gain some tough yards. I just don't know if his raw talent will be enough to convince Harbaugh to trust him as the bell cow.

Prediction: Backup running back; 120 carries, 600 yards, 7 touchdowns


  1. Didn't you give Green a 95? What would you have given Isaac?

    1. If Isaac had committed along with Green, I would have bumped down Green. I probably would have given Isaac a 96 or 97. He wasn't the best RB in the class.

    2. Why does a guy committing to UM affect your score for him? Seems like each guy should be valued on their own merit not where they land.

    3. I think the ranking system is a way to predict their future success at Michigan. Naturally the future success would be limited by depth chart.


    4. The rankings are based on how he feels the player will do at Michigan. If someone better commits, it knocks a player down because they are less likely to become a starter while the other player is around. System is also taken into account, so a player like Denard would be higher rated under Rodriguez than he would under Hoke.

    5. @ Anonymous 1:36 p.m.

      As others have said, my rankings build on each other. If Michigan has a stud QB in one class, then a mediocre QB in the same class or anyone in the next class might be negatively impacted when it comes to getting on the field. For example, Ben Gedeon might be a very good player, but we haven't had much of a chance to see it because he's been stuck behind Jake Ryan, Joe Bolden, and Desmond Morgan. Victor Viramontes might be a very good QB prospect, but if Peters inches ahead of him in the race for the QB job, Viramontes might get marginalized (or moved to another position).

  2. Are you still hearing transfer rumors or is he planning on sticking it out?

    1. I have not heard any new rumblings about Isaac over the past month or two, so I believe he's sticking around.

  3. He looks fat in that picture. There's no way he's toting the rock for 600 yards.

    In all seriousness, I really enjoy Smith's running style. I figured he was the best from our options last year, with an odd push by Johnson late in the season. Liked him more than Hayes and Green.

    I like Isaac more than Smith though. I fully anticipate him emerging as the go-to back by the end of the season with other backs coming in solely to give him a rest.

    1. What were your thoughts on Shane Morris one year ago? I bet I can guess...

    2. He was a sophomore. He wasn't ready. The fanbase wanted to do anything to win so they rabbled and grumbled until Hoke foolishly put him in against Minnesota. Morris lost us the Minnesota game. He has a lot of potential that has yet to be translated into success on the field.

  4. The projection of Isaac's productivity is wildly optimistic. A backup RB with 600 yards? I'm guessing that some people reading this hadn't even been born the last time we had that, and given that we'll have a mediocre Oline at best, it's even more unlikely.

    1. It's not that we'll be running wild on the ground. It's that I don't think Smith is going to have a stranglehold on the position.

    2. The 2nd highest RB last year had 471 yards. In 2012, 514. In 2010, 402. Thunders estimate is pretty high, but if you assume a division of labor and no true 'primary' back it's not that crazy to predict 600.

    3. Well, let's put it this way..if Isaac gets to 600 yards and isn't the primary back, that will almost certainly mean that we didn't have a primary back, just three guys who were all ok, but not great. I'm happy to be surprised, but just not that optimistic about Isaac at this point.

    4. Alabama had two backs split the primary duties almost exactly 50/50. Each ran for just under 1,000 yards. Michigan ain't Alabama, but that shared duty is an increasingly common set-up for teams that don't have one elite guy (i.e., most teams). In 2008, with Harbaugh at Stanford, Gerhart ran for 1,100 yards while his backup Kimble ran for 700.

      If Michigan can rotate 2 or 3 RB who are each north of 600 yards, I would consider that to be a successful year. More important is the overall RB YPC than the totals for individuals, IMO.

      But yeah, these expectations for Isaac are very high.

    5. If you look at Stanford's rushing stats from 2008-2010 (Harbaugh's last three years there), they never had fewer than 490 rushing attempts total and they never rushed for fewer than 2,395 yards. I've doled out 200 attempts and 1,000 yards to Green and Isaac. So if our expectation is Stanford's 2008 season, for example, there are still 290 rushing attempts and 1,395 yards left out there. Jake Rudock isn't going to be churning out yards on the ground, and we don't have the receivers to throw the ball all over the place. Those rushing yards have to come from somewhere.

    6. Last year's team rushed for 1,900 yards. There isn't necessarily 2,400 to hand around, though I do think that's a reasonably optimistic guess FWIW.

    7. I'm not saying there are 2,400 yards to hand out, but you could say the same thing if I projected 2,000 yards, 3,000 yards, or 1,500 yards. I think Stanford's mode of offense is a jumping-off point. The truth is, nobody really knows what Michigan is going to look like under Harbaugh, because he's been away from the college game for four years, he has different personnel, and he doesn't have a Colin Kaepernick for continuation from San Francisco.

  5. There were rumors about Isaac being out of shape last year, but he looks pretty trim in that photo. Boy, I would love to see this guy pull it together. As mentioned above, he has a lot of raw talent and could potentially be that complete back that UM has lacked for a long time. Hope he has a great fall camp.

    1. I Hope he has a great fall camp too.

  6. He will be the game changer, big play maker this O needs from the RB position. His home run take it all the way to the house, ability is what will get him on the field. I'm not saying he will have the majority of the carries, just that we will want him in more as he will make things happen.

  7. Credit where it's due -- this is a vast improvement over last year's rank of Isaac. That was the worst rank in TTB history, but improvement is improvement.

    The case FOR Isaac:

    -Recruiting Hype
    -Productive in garbage time at USC
    -Good athleticism for his size
    -USC is a RB talent factory and they liked him enough to recruit him.
    -If any coach is going to put a jumbo back to work, it's Harbaugh.

    The case against Isaac:

    -Recruiting hype was based on 2011 and 2012
    -Hasn't played many meaningful downs of football in the last 3 years
    -USC's offense was such that even walk-ons and fullbacks put up impressive YPC. Consider the context and what other players did, and the raw stats aren't so impressive.
    -Transferred, after being buried as the 5th string RB
    -Hasn't generated much positive hype, which you'd expect for a guy practicing with the team for over a year now
    -Has generated negative rumors. We can call those "mental toughness" issues, but the span of the rumors has been fairly wide including issues of motivation, fitness, determination. He's even been subject to transfer rumors.
    -Has been dogged by health issues since arriving at Michigan.
    -Has gained weight. Listed HS weight: 215. Weight listed at USC: 225. Weight listed at Michigan: 225. Current listed weight: 240. Isaac claims he hasn't been 225 since high school. That may be true, but whether it's 25 pounds or 10 he wasn't exactly a small back to begin with.
    -Lacks prototypical size. Is both taller and heavier than typical backs. The list of 6'3/240 pound backs in the last decade of football is very short to non-existent. He's probably too heavy. He's probably too tall.
    -Was behind Wyatt Shallman in the spring game and got 1 carry for 1 yard.
    -The combination of transfer, weight game, health issues, negative rumors may lead one to ascribe to the "where there's smoke there's fire" philosophy in regard.

    My take:
    There's a lot of negative stuff going on, but there's plausible excuses for all of it: People get hurt. Weight gain isn't necessarily bad. USC has good backs. etc. There's time to right the ship.

    But at some point the good noise to bad noise ratio has to be taken into consideration and expectations recalibrated to reality. Derrick Green was in the same class as Isaac and was just as hyped. How would we feel if he hadn't played behind Michigan's OL, or had taken a red-shirt season instead of taking his lumps in 2013. Our expectations for the same guy would be very different and it would all have to do with an absence of evidence.

    I would have ranked Isaac somewhere around 50. It may be in written in pencil, but the writing is clearly on the wall and it's not telling a happy tale.

    My hopes:
    Isaac shows up at camp determined to prove the 'haters' wrong. He drops weight and is closer to 225 than 240. The weight loss helps him stay healthy. He shows that athleticism in camp that had/has everybody excited. He fills the gaping need for a 3rd down back who can catch, block, and be dangerous enough with the ball to force DBs to stay honest/indecisive.

    I don't have much hope for him as a primary ball-carrier -- guys that size just don't play that way anymore. Green, Smith, and Johnson are more proven and experienced. Higdon was hand-picked by Harbaugh/Drevno.etc. But I'd love to be surprised by a jumbo back like Shallman or Isaac breaking through into that role.

    We'll see if the low probability thing happens or the high probability thing happens. 600 yards rushing and 7 TDs seems like a massive overestimate to me. I'd consider it a good year for Isaac if he broke 300 yards (receiving and rushing) and managed to stay healthy.

  8. @Thunder

    What, in your mind, caused you to drop him 14 spots from last year?

    1. I think Hoke loved Isaac. I don't think Harbaugh does.

  9. Toughness has to be a part of a running backs DNA if he's going to be successful in D-! football. There are no excuses.

  10. Thunder, what exactly do you mean by "mental toughness" and "mental fortitude"? Is that a code word for something? It sounds kind of vague and I'm curious if you have more specific examples of what types of behavior people would cite as "lacking mental toughness".

    Thanks, -patrick

    1. I don't think you are going to get anything more specific from someone who runs a website and has to be careful with negative comments. There have been some rumors about the new staff not being thrilled with his intensity this spring, and perhaps that he did not participate in as many facets of practice/training as he could have. He also transferred after one season at USC, which is a bit of a red flag. Bottom line is that this staff is looking for "hungry" players, so Isaac will have to exhibit that attitude to win their trust.

    2. I do have some more specific examples that I've heard through the grapevine, but like Painter Smurf said, those might be best kept to myself...at least for now. I'll say this: Some guys play with a chip on their shoulder, and Isaac really hasn't been one of those guys up to this point.

  11. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPBWAI6JRGo

    See above for A-Train highlights and what Isaac could achieve for us!!

    1. Thomas was 6'2/220 in the NFL and played at less while at Michigan.

      Another comp that's around is Justin Fargas (6'1/220).

      Ty Wheatley got up to 235 in the NFL, but he was 6'0 and played at well under 230 at Michigan.

      Harbaugh as coach, makes one think of Toby Gerhardt (6'0/230) or Tyler Gaffney (6'1/225)

      Harbaugh has also recruited thick backs (Kingston Davis 6'0/242) and taller backs (Matt Falcon 6'1/210) since he arrived at Michigan.

      There is room to think a big back can succeed at Michigan...but you'd have to search very far and wide to find recent examples of RB who are 6'3/240 and effective. That's the size Wyatt Shallman is, and he's being project to FB/H-back despite being the leading ball carrier in the spring game.

      Isaac is no A-Train.

      And besides, most of the above example of jumbo back success stories had absolutely dominating OLs filled with future NFL players. Does this Michigan team?

      If you thought Denard Robinson wasn't the right size for RB...Isaac is even further off the prototype.

    2. There is but one that I can think of, but it is one outstanding example.
      Eddie George. 6'3" 235

    3. Eddie George left college 20 years ago. To me, that's stretching very far. In the 80s and 90s jumbo backs were pretty common, not so much anymore.


      Here are the players in the same ballpark as Isaac from the latest 2 NFL draft combines:

      Dominique Brown Louisville 6'2 234
      Matt Jones Florida 6'2 231
      Ryan Hewitt Stanford 6'4 246
      Jeremy Hill LSU 6'1 233
      Trey Millard Oklahoma 6'2 247
      James Wilder Florida State 6'3 232

      The only guys at 240 or above are Hewitt (now an NFL H-back) and Millard (now an NFL FB).

      The most exciting comps there are Wilder - who was very successful at FSU and is now on an NFL practice squad - and Jones, who was a 3rd round pick. Both those guys are close to 230.

      So, if Isaac can shed a few pounds he'll be down to around the range of a modern jumbo back. Perhaps that's easily achievable and the 240 pound estimate was a result of some fitness issues related to injury...

    4. I remember reading an interview or a tweet from Issac saying that he hasn't been around the 220-225lb mark since junior or senior year of high school. I mean think about he is 6'3" and playing D1 college football, so even if he wasn't very muscular he would be sitting around 200lbs. I think if he is around 235-240 then he is in excellent shape as long as it's all good weight. Let's hope it is. And your body can fluctuate water weight between 3-8lbs every day. So he might be around 232 or so, we will never know.

    5. You are correct. I dug up the Tweet for Lanknows a week or two ago. Isaac said that he has not been 225 lbs. since he was in high school.

    6. And my response then, and now is: he hasn't started since High School either.

      I'd feel a lot better about him at 230 than 240. Maybe that will be the case come fall. For his sake, I hope so.

    7. You know who else hasn't started since high school? Probably 80 of the players on the team. Chase Winovich hasn't started since he bleached his hair as a senior in high school. Logan Tuley-Tillman hasn't started since he was 330 lbs. in high school. I guess Winovich's bleached hair and those 30 lbs. of lost fat are the difference between starting and being a backup.

    8. Your sarcastic response misses the mark. Nobody is arguing the extra weight is the ONLY reason Isaac hasn't started, but it's probably contributed to his myriad of issues.

      That 80 estimate isn't close to being right unless you count no-scholarship guys. Winovich is a RS Freshman. LTT is an OLmen. A better comparison to Isaac are classmates Green and Smith. They've both started games.

      Green added weight since high school, struggled with the extra weight a bit, then slimmed down and was productive. Isaac might be wise to follow his lead. Or not -- maybe the low probability moose-back route is the right way to go. We'll see.

      Here are the top RBs from the 2013 class.

      Most have been more productive than Isaac. Most have not transferred. Most have not added 25 pounds of weight according to their listings. Most were not 6'3/215 or 225 to begin with.

      USC had some good RB talent -- so do Oregon, Alabama, Florida, etc.

  12. What about Derrick Henry at Alabama? Height, check, weight, check, good/great back expected to break out? Check.......

    1. Good one. I don't think Isaac will be running behind anything like Alabama's OL, but that's a great example of a jumbo back.

    2. I think size has been a little overrated in the Ty Isaac discussion. What really matters is his skills. Running backs - just like wide receivers - come in all shapes and sizes. A few years ago, we probably wouldn't have thought that Jeremy Gallon (5'8", 184 lbs.) would be a record-setting WR.

      I don't see a huge difference in "size" between Isaac and, say, Wisconsin's P.J. Hill (5'10", 222 lbs.) or Alabama's Eddie Lacy (5'11", 230 lbs.). There have been other guys listed here who are pretty big. We talk about Eddie George playing college ball 20 years ago, but we don't know for sure that Jim Harbaugh will be running one of these fancy, newfangled offenses. Does it really matter that Eddie George left 20 years ago if we're going to be running an offense like Eddie George was in?

      Wisconsin and Alabama have made hay with big linemen and big backs (at least at times), and while nobody on our OL has proven to be like the guys at those schools, that doesn't mean Michigan won't attempt to play like them. Maybe the OL won't be as good as Alabama's and maybe Isaac won't be as good as Derrick Henry or Eddie Lacy...but isn't that an unfair comparison? I mean, we're not very good right now. That's like saying we can't pass the ball like Baylor, we can't run the zone read option like Oregon, etc.

      If the only thing that matters is being #1 in every facet of the game, then I can tell you right now that we will fail this year.

    3. Skills are what matter - agreed. There's just not much evidence that Isaac's skills are anything to get so excited about. The size issue isn't a deal-breaker, its just another obstacle to overcome.

      I don't think we're going to run a 1990s era offense. I certainly hope not. Saw enough of that under Hoke. Harbaugh is no dinosaur. We can be pretty sure that he will run a modern offense. I don't mean a spread, but I do mean exploiting advantages old and new, wherever he can find them. Packaged plays, options, etc. Harbaugh's going to there.

      Yes, it matters that football is different than 20 years ago. Safeties, linebackers, DE, TE, WR, RB...they're all smaller and faster than they were back then. The game evolves.

      The big backs have only succeeded in recent history with EXCEPTIONAL o-lines. MIchigan probably doesn't have one of those. Even if Isaac IS as good as those guys he might be left sitting on the bench in favor of a guy who can create his own yards by making others miss.

    4. "Packaged plays, options, etc. Harbaugh's going to there."

      Assuming Jake Rudock is the QB, how many options can we run? Yes, there are packaged plays between handoff or pass, but Rudock isn't Marcus Mariota or even Andrew Luck when it comes to running. That might change with Gentry, Peters, or even Morris, but this year that's not the case.

      "The big backs have only succeeded in recent history with EXCEPTIONAL o-lines."

      I would argue that running backs in general succeed because of good offensive lines.

      How about James Conner, the #6 rusher in 2014? He's 6'2", 240 lbs. How about Samaje Perine? The #8 rusher in the country is 5'11", 237 lbs.

      I feel like a constant argument with you is a) Isaac's size and b) the quality of the offensive line. There are several examples of "big" backs who are succeeding. Then you counter with, "Yeah, but they have good offensive lines." Well, okay, what running back on this team is going to succeed with a crappy offensive line? Is Derrick Green going to dance around people in the backfield? How about Wyatt Shallman? How about De'Veon Smith?

      It seems to me that your argument is really, "No running back on this team is going to be good because the offensive line isn't great." Maybe that argument is the right one, because the OL hasn't been good for a couple years. But if that's the case, then we're all just spinning our wheels. It doesn't really explain you singling out Isaac for criticism when I think we all know that this team is dead in the water if the OL isn't at least decent.

    5. You were the first person I heard of arguing that Harbaugh could install a special package for Gentry a la Bell@OKlahoma THIS YEAR. Now you want to argue we're going to Tressell/Carr it? Seems inconsistent.

      Nobody thinks we're going to run a zone read offense with Rudock, but I think Harbaugh will leverage Rudock's experience. Rudock's ability to read defenses may get him a few runs a game just to keep defenses on their toes. The 'options' I was referring to might be to throw a screen or hand-off. It might be a pitch to a RB or a slant off a rolling pocket. It might be some low-risk bootleg style runs. I don't know what JH is going to do, but I really doubt it's going to be boring and uncreative.


      All backs are dependent on OL play, but jumbo backs are ESPECIALLY dependent.

      There are a lot of smaller RBs (and QBs) who have done very well running behind not especially talented OLs. It tends to have a lot to do with scheme. Tevin Coleman (205 lb.) is one example. Jacquizz Rogers is another. Every big back I can think with success has had multiple NFL OLmen in front of them. I don't think that was true for Coleman or Rogers. They may have had an NFL guy (I'm not going to bother looking this up), but in general the OL talent was below average.

      Conner is great example of big back. Nice work. Not quite as tall as Isaac either, but close enough. I'll add him to Henry for guys that make me hopeful about Isaac or Shallman at RB.

      Perine is 5'11. I have no doubts about stocky powerhouses being potentially effective, and view Kingston Davis as a legit RB. I DO have doubts about tall and big players. These type of players are at a relative disadvantage to shorter guys (smaller target, more compact/powerful) and, generally speaking, if you're 240 you aren't going to be a speed demon, so it's hard to make up for being easier to bring down (relative to the shorter guy).

      In other words, if you're going to be 6'3 RB you should probably be very fast, and if you're going to be very fast you probably won't weigh 240 pounds or more.


    6. As to for this team:

      I think Smith has shown a leg-churning style that can produce a couple extra yards multiple times a game. He runs tough. Green has flashed some excellent bounce, is physical, and has a little more open field talent. The balance and vision questions seem real there, otherwise he has physical talent. Johnson has shown he can hit holes hard and has some nice burst. All these guys are proven. Combined last year they ran 250 times for 1,351 yards - 5.4ypc and 13 TDs. That's behind a so-so OL that struggled against better competition.

      All that cast (almost) returns. They'll be better. I think our OL is going to be above average to good. Not dominant, but good. I think our running game is going to be very good, but, again, not great like Bama/Wisconsin/vintage Stanford. I don't think any of our backs are going to be superstars, but the production that our top 3 returning guys offered is sufficient to have an effective run game.

      In other words, there isn't a need here. No need, and maybe no room. Isaac's dogged by too many questions to assume he's better than the incumbents. He COULD be, but it seems unlikely.

      I'm not optimistic about Shallman for the same reasons as everyone else. Many of those reasons apply to Isaac too, and size is one of them. They'll both get a shot, I'm just doubtful they'll have much to offer and I wonder if Higdon won't pass them by quickly.

      I'm singling out Isaac for criticism in reaction to other's expectations. Some people are acting like he's a savior and comparing him to NFL players like Wheatley, Thomas, and Fargas. Nobody is doing that for Smith, Green, or Johnson even though they are more proven. It's the level of hype/expectations that I disagree with. Most people expect him to be a serious threat to those guys, at a minimum, and many seem to expect him to beat them out. I see that as wholly irrational.
      Sure, you can run through the litany of rationale and excuses for Isaac, ignore the buzz/lack of buzz, ignore weight gain, ignore the prevailing evolution of football - give him a clean slate. The coaches should. But I'm a fan reading up on Michigan and I'm trying to formulate my expectations by the evidence that is there. Sorry but recruiting hype and garbage time carries don't outweigh the many other questions for me. The picture for Isaac is not very rosy

    7. I think I specifically talked about Gentry having certain packages for him. I did not imply that he would be our full-time QB. I don't think anyone should be taking that discussion and concluding that our offense will be full of zone read options, power read options, mid-line options, etc. When Denard Robinson played as a freshman, he threw 14 passes and ran 69 times. He was not the primary QB in 2009, and the offense changed when he was in there.

      Smith does run tough. However, he has shown zero ability to get outside. Honestly, the best run I've seen from him might have been the 34-yarder (IIRC) in the spring game. I am not filled with positivity about his athletic skills. We have seen him run the ball for two years. He is on par with a David Underwood, and I doubt many people have strong memories of Underwood a decade later.

      Johnson is coming off of a second torn ACL, so nobody knows what he brings to the table. I certainly wouldn't count on him to juke people in the backfield. I also disagree about Green. All of these guys are dependent on holes opening up in front of them. There are guys who can create for themselves (LeSean McCoy, Mike Hart, Barry Sanders, Darren Sproles, etc.), but Michigan has not recruited one in a while. That has been a concern of mine over the past several years, and I think that has been reflected in my comments on this site. Until then, we have to make do with what we've got.

      There are very few people saying Isaac is the next Tyrone Wheatley or Anthony Thomas. I think your negative comments about Isaac preceded the comments about him being the next great. Most of your negative comments have simply stemmed from me mentioning him being higher on the depth chart than Shallman, Green, etc. And I certainly have not called him the next Wheatley.

      I do like Isaac, but I have said for a few years that several of these guys can be quality running backs if the OL improves. If the OL is in the same form as 2014 or - God forbid - 2013, all of these backs (not to mention us fans) are going to be very frustrated.

    8. I didn't think (or say) you meant Gentry would run the entire offense. The point was that there will be creative elements that make our offense not the boring thing you implied above.

      Underwood ran for 4.1 ypc and barely got 600 yards over 4 years when Michigan had great OLs. Smith has run for more than that in 2 years with a far inferior OL and averaged 4.7 ypc. The comparison is...inaccurate, to put it kindly. Smith is much better.

      I do accept that Smith isn't a big play threat. Neither were most of Harbaugh's Stanford backs though. Gerhardt didn't have too many 40+ yard carries.

      Didn't Harbaugh say Johnson will be ready for camp?

      I don't think my Isaac negativity predates the hype. When he was a recruit, I was bummed he picked USC. When he came to Michigan I said the shine was off a bit, but I was still hopeful we had an impact guy.

      I have expressed, many times, a preference for smaller/shorter backs - that much is true. I've also defended Shallman at RB several times and said it's unlikely but not out of the question that he could stick there as a powerback. That feeling has only increased with Harbaugh.

      When Isaac was a 5-star recruit and weighed 215-225 and had purportedly very good speed, I was excited about him too. That was 3 years ago. Since that he was 5th string, transferred, and gained weight steadily. I'm no longer excited. While Isaac can help Michigan it seems obvious to me that he is not the superstar talent that his recruiting rankings would have you hope for, just as it is obvious for Derrick Green.

      He could be good. He is very unlikely to be great. I suppose it is in the eye of the beholder if his potential is at or about the Green/Smith level...

      I did just search your Ty Isaac tagged posts and found this interesting quote:


      " The 6'3", 215 lb. runner had 2,114 yards rushing and 45 touchdowns as a junior last season, and Michigan appears to be tied with Notre Dame at the top of Isaac's list. I have heard unflattering things about Isaac and I'm not a huge fan of his running style, but he is big and fast . . . so there's that."

      I guess you overcame those early concerns over time. And you did say he needed to get up to 235 to be an effective power runner in his scouting report (which was mixed, but generally positive)

      "As Isaac grows and turns into a 235 lb. tailback, he seems to have a good future, especially if he runs behind a powerful offensive line like Michigan's that can get him to the second and third level"

      Those questions about the OL are the same ones that remain for me. It's not that Smith or Green are barry sanders, it's that they are more apt to create for themselves than Isaac IMO.

      I think you are underselling how many people have very high hopes for Isaac based on the comments here, Mgoblog, etc. I never accused YOU of saying Isaac was Wheatley, but ranking him #19 last year, ahead of several other capable backs around, spoke to your belief in him. My views of Isaac are clearly pessimistic relative to the rest of the fanbase. Your views last year were clearly optimistic. Putting him above Green makes them still so, even if you don't think he's Wheatley/Thomas/Fargas.

    9. I still have questions about the offensive line, too. A few years ago, I thought Michigan was on its way to having a big, powerful line (Chris Bryant, Erik Magnuson, Kyle Kalis, etc.). Obviously, that hasn't happened yet, and it's not clear if it will within the next year or two. But those same comments can be extended to Smith or Green. I disagree strongly that Green can create on his own, and while Smith can shimmy a little bit and run through a tackle or two, he's not fast enough to make it count for much. I'm actually pretty amazed that you think Green can create for himself, because that's been perhaps the biggest knock on him and a question I've always had about him. If there was any RB last year who could make something out of nothing, it was Drake Johnson.

    10. Right - I had the same hopes for the powerful OL but they never got big and never got real good. My argument was always that they should over-recruit that position until they had the line they wanted, no NEEDED, to play their style of play. Instead they recruited a bunch of LBs and swung for the fences with some jumbo-sized athletes.

      But they improved under Nussmeir (and with age) and they should further improve under Drevno (and with age). Glasgow and Kalis are proven as decent players. By now they are veterans. Cole might be the best of the bunch and you'd expect him to add size and be vastly improved - as most OL are. Magnuson and Braden come with more questions but at the very least we can say they won't be a disaster -- that's a new development for the 4th and 5th OLmen at Michigan.

      As to the RB. Some of my optimism on Green is probably speculative. I thought he's looked pretty nimble and quick-footed at times. I haven't seen Johnson create a lot on his own, but he does tack on extra yards that smith and green don't seem to at the second level.

      None of those guys are big play homerun threats. It'd be nice if they were, but they put up pretty respectable YPC even without that, so I'm comfortable with the guys we have coming back.

  13. Thunder - fantastic blog!

    A few years ago we'd never believe that both Derrick Green and Ty Isaac would be on the roster...and that both would be ranked in the 30's on the TTB Countdown.