Thursday, July 23, 2015

2015 Season Countdown: #38 Derrick Green

Derrick Green
Name: Derrick Green
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 234 lbs.
High school: Richmond (VA) Heritage
Position: Running back
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #27
Last year: I ranked Green #29 and said he would be a backup running back with 120 carries, 500 yards, and 5 touchdowns. He had 82 carries for 471 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 2 catches for 26 yards.

It was an up-and-down season for Green last year. He was overweight and out of shape as a freshman, and then he worked himself into pretty good condition for 2014. Things started off great with a 170-yard game (including a 62-yard run) against Appalachian State, went downhill against Notre Dame, improved against Miami of Ohio, went okay against Utah, went terribly against Minnesota, and then went pretty well at Rutgers . . . until he broke his collarbone, anyway. Up until that point, he was the starting running back and lead rusher by a long shot. He missed the final six weeks of the season and finished second in rushing to De'Veon Smith (519 yards).

I have had a hard time sussing out the running back situation this off-season. Drake Johnson looked the best to end 2014, but he tore his ACL in the season finale. De'Veon Smith looked the best in the spring game, but that's largely based off of one run and he has had plenty of opportunities in the past to distinguish himself, which he hasn't done. Ty Isaac was the most talented of the whole group coming out of high school, but he was nursing an injury this spring and rumors persist about his mental toughness. Toss in Wyatt Shallman and Karan Higdon, and nobody really knows what to expect.

So where does Green fit in? Green is not a guy who can create for himself. Despite being built like a bowling ball, he is more of a Nerf ball. Green goes down way too easily on contact, although if I'm being fair, his issues stem from lacking balance in the lower body. If he has a chance to lower his shoulders and square up a defender, he can gain extra yards. If the defender picks a dandelion and hurls it at Green's knees, Green will fall flat on his face. I think his vision is solid, his speed is decent for a big guy, and he has some nifty feet in the hole, but he needs a good offensive line. (He is also reportedly the best pass blocker of the group.) With a good offensive line, he can be a 1,200-yard rusher and earn some fringe all-conference accolades. With a mediocre offensive line, he will be what he has been. As of right now, I think Green is a very solid #2 back but not a guy who can put the team on his back and will it to victory. I don't know if Michigan has that guy right now. This will probably be a running back-by-committee type of situation when all is said and done, even though Jim Harbaugh has a history of picking one horse and riding him until the cows come home.

Prediction: Backup running back; 80 carries, 400 yards, 4 touchdowns


  1. Thunder has a higher opinion of Green's vision than I do. Having said that, I think also think that barring injury to multiple guys, our offensive line will be a plus unit this year on the strength of their size and maturity, I believe Green will benefit from that and a slightly more direct system of reads because of his speed and pads down straight ahead power.

    Having said all of that, for some reason, i keep going back to Higdon in my mind, I watch him run maybe once every 10 days, and since everybody reminds me of someone else lately, I think of Mike Hart as Higdon has that goofy hunched over churning legs thing that Hart had, presses the ball high and tight some and seems hard to get a hit on. i know, I know, weak HS football, but then again, upstate New York ain't exactly a hotbed.

    Beside, Ty Isaac is fat and has no track record of success beyond some garbage carries in the weak little league he came from.

    1. I think there is universal agreement on every board, and in the Michigan locker room, that Isaac is going to be a fullback this year. He's incredibly out of shape, and was buried on the depth chart at USC, which means he's terrible. Fullback is the only thing he's suited for.

    2. Big Ten fans don't get to look down on any of the other Power 5 leagues. Especially when the team Isaac was on is in one of the toughest divisions in college football.

    3. Why does being 5th on the depth chart as a true freshman at USC, a school which tends to have multiple high 4 star and 5 star recruits at RB mean he's terrible? He's got a few inches on the other RBs on the roster and so he should be 20 lbs heavier than they are to have the same body type. Plus he was injured during the spring so no one saw him in the game. Lets at least wait until after fall camp to write him off as a fullback.

    4. The comments section on this site have a weird hatred for Isaac going.

      He was a true freshman at USC with some talented guys ahead of him - I'm not sure "buried on the depth chart at USC" is all that meaningful of a criticism. Similarly, saying that he "has no track record of success beyond some garbage carries in the weak little league he came from" sounds like it's bordering on a Poe's Law situation (i.e., the Pac-12 isn't a "weak little league" and as for his garbage carriers, see the comment regarding the depth chart above).

      Plus, I haven't seen this level of concern about his weight anywhere else but here, and here it's so crazy rampant that it literally finds its way into the comments section of every post. He was always a bigger back (not just weight, but also height).

    5. I think Roanman is trolling Lanknows with the comments about Isaac being fat and buried on the depth chart at USC.

    6. Damn, it WAS a Poe's Law situation!

    7. Ty Isaac is probably fat, has no track record of success beyond garbage-time carries, and rumors persist about his mental toughness.

      Hey hey hey - let's save the Isaac bashing for the Isaac post you guys! Which...speaking of trolling...c'mon Thunder...this is getting ridiculous.

    8. "I watch him run maybe once every 10 days"


    9. "our offensive line will be a plus unit this year "

      This strikes me as naively optimistic. I like Drevno as much as the next guy, but how many weeks will it take for his coaching to sink in and undo the lingering...funk...of the last coaching staff?

    10. Lanknows @ 11:57 - impossible. I am the next guy, and I like Drevno way more than you. So there. Nyah, nyah. :-)

    11. Nicely done GoblueinNYC. :-)

      With regards to naivete', not at all. Without even considering any differences between line coaches past and present and/or coordinators, schemes or any other thing, with the exception of Cole, this is a huge offensive line with a lot of starts. They have been hit in the mouth enough times to have had enough of that shit. Pissed off size is always a good thing on a football field, and we are going to have both of those items in quantity along our offensive line.

      Now consider Drevno/Harbaugh.

    12. As much as I can't stand terry foster, he makes a very good point about the last four Michigan teams, if you hit them in the mouth, they quit. The quit in Hoke's teams shows up in every tough game they played with the possible exception of Notre Dame which has not impressed me with their toughness under Kelly either.

      Despite Harbaugh's assertion that he hasn't looked at the film in order to give everybody a square one chance, I guarantee you everybody else on that staff has for sure, and the lack of toughness is sticking out with last years team like a sore thumb. How do you fix a soft football team? You hit.

      Harbaugh's camps are notoriously tough anyway, but this camp is going to be noteworthy. I believe we will hit more this coming camp than any other team in the Big, because we need to. We haven't hit anybody in years really, so we're going back to the way Michigan plays football. We are going to hit people.

      Back in the day, my favorite among the knocks on Saint Bo was that his guys didn't make it to the pros because the were used up from all the hitting they did. I sort of believe that. But if you look at those teams, they were miserable to play against because you couldn't make em quit, they just kept coming real damn hard.
      If you want to have some fun some day, watch our 14-6 loss to a great Oklahoma team that featured the Selman Brothers among other greats. We beat on them the entire game. Or better yet, look into our 9-7 loss to Auburn in 1984. Bo jackson and his boys were laughing about how small we were before the game. To his credit, Bo Jackson is very plain about how much they weren't laughing at the end of that game.

      This is where we are heading. We are going to get there by hitting each other until we want to take the pain of hitting each other out on some other poor ..... pick your favorite term. Technique and coaching will be something for this team, but the real thing will be toughness and with a little luck, maybe some hate. I usually don't advocate for hate, but when controlled, on a football field, it can be a glorious thing.

      Finally, as an aside, if you want to read some really mediocre writing catch terry foster's throw away piece on the Pistons in todays Det News. Noteworthy for it's crap factor.

    13. Anon 9:14 here. I was trolling.

      Rumors PERSIST about his mental toughness? Do these rumors start between your ears?

    14. @Roanman

      Other than Braden (the most likely guy to get pushed to the bench), the line is undersized. They were better last year, but still not good. Remember getting shut down by Northwestern's D? Were these guys NOT pissed off last year, after having the worst OL in UM history?

      Hoke got a lot of credit for making practices more physical and doing lots of HITTING during them.

      Look - We all hope they'll make the leap under Drevno, but it may take some time and playing against Utah and BYU early in the year is no picnic and then MSU comes to town in mid Oct...

      I trust this staff will develop some excellent OLs down the road, but how quickly can they realistically come in and make this mediocre group better. The season hinges on that question IMO.

    15. Our likelys will probably come out of this group of 8.

      Dawson 6'4 309
      Glasgow 6'6" 303
      Kugler 6'5" 297
      Magnuson 6'6" 296
      Kalis 6'5" 292
      Braden 6'6" 331
      Tuley-Tillman 6'7" 309
      Only Cole is small at 6'5" 287
      Average height 6'5 1/2" Average weight 303

      There are very few lines around with that kind of size, you will certainly find some heavier lines, but this is a big group by anybody's standard.

      Just for fun, here's Sparty's thought to be best line in the BIG, likely. They might have less depth than we do, but here's their top 8.

      Conklin 6'6" 317
      Allen 6'2 307
      Allen 6'2" 295
      Clark 6'4" 317
      Kieler 6'6" 310
      Clemons 6'3" 305
      Salmon 6'1" 313
      McGowan 6'3" 313
      Average height. 6'3 3/8" Average weight 309.6

      We are 2 1/8" taller and we give up 6.6 lbs. Argue all you want with somebody else about height or weight on your OL. Only if your standard for size is Alabama where seemingly everybody is 6'6" 317, do we show up small. This is a big group with likely more starts than any line in the country.

      This line improved all last season and was hardly the problem. Incomprehensible play calling and offensive scheme along with terrible decision making by our turnover prone QBs, was the problem last year. If you want to you can throw in one loafing, drop prone, can't/won't block, prima donna receiver to the list of issues. Oh ..... and a guy that you can knock down with a dandelion.

    16. @Roanman

      Lanknows is right: It isn't a big line at all. LTT definitely isn't starting, and Dawson probably isn't. Of the five guys who likely are, three are sub-300 pounds. Braden skews the average number--and even then, the number isn't big.

      As for hitting in practice, that wasn't this team's problem. They hit a ton, by all accounts. The problems were more likely that:

      --They weren't as well-conditioned as the opposition because Michigan's practices ran slowly and less efficiently (i.e., fewer reps).
      --They ran an overly simplified offense that was focused last year on not having negative plays (after being the worst in D-I in 2013 at that).
      --They were slightly undersized up front. Look at what other traditional offenses like Wisconsin and Alabama are trotting out there and then look at us. And again, don't sugarcoat it by mixing in guys who aren't going to play, or by letting one guy skew the numbers. (Also, remember that U-M's biggest guy happens to be its weakest link.)

    17. All that said, UM's OL was better than most of their opponents' groups last year. Minny, OSU, MSU, and ND were better. But UM was arguably better than the rest. They cut down on the penetration that killed them in '13. They finally were able to pick up MSU's blitz packages after several years of whiffing. And this was a much less impressive group on paper than the '13 group that completely tanked. The OL is not the reason Green did not break out last season. The guy left tons of yards on the field. This is all to say that you cannot judge an OL by looking at roster heights and weights. They are still missing a couple pieces. But as long as Drevno has them in sync, they have a chance to improve from better than average to pretty good.

    18. Michigan was #94 in Standard Down Line Yards Per Carry. They were decent in certain situations, but on your average play, they were subpar. There are other reasons for the lack of a breakout runner (such as the lack of a passing game), but the OL was a big part of it. Like I said above, Green is not a creator. But he can get to the second and third levels, run through some people, and break some big runs.

    19. Wisconsin, since Alvarez, is alway enormous up front, that's their thing. Alabama is as well. But both you and lank confuse weight with size.

      Pick your five starters. Mine are Cole, Kalis, Glasgow, Braden, Magnesun. You average height 6'55" and weight 300.6 lbs. That is a big line at the college level, offering both reach and weight.

      You say Braden skews the numbers while ignoring Cole, who also skews the numbers and is the only smallish lineman we have, and the one everybody in the conference would take in a heartbeat.

      Again, here's Sparty's, with the line people are preseason touting this year, three for sure starters. Conklin, Allen and Allen. Average Height 6'33" Weight, 306.33

      Again. don't confuse weight with size. Size is all of it, height, weight, reach. We have a big line, with bigger people yet, sitting.

      With regards to hitting, Hoke liked to talk about "hearing football" and his little drill where two guys bang as he walked across the field. Meanwhile everybody else is standing around watching Hoke take a minute and a half to walk across the field. I'm talking about reps, more reps and then even more reps hitting each other, after which, we'll do some hitting. What you saw on Michigan Countdown's little preseason vid, ain't that.

    20. @ Roanman 7:55 a.m.

      FWIW, I have used the "Michigan drill" or the "Oklahoma drill" numerous times. In my experience, it's a good way to get people hurt, even more than live scrimmages. If I run 5 minutes of the Oklahoma drill, somebody is getting concussed, they're rolling up a knee, etc. So I'm not sure that rep after rep after rep of something like that is a positive thing when you have college and young NFL players retiring because of concussions.

      There are also times in every coach's practice where they have a "competition session" that pits one guy against another, offense vs. defense, etc. Everybody kind of gathers around, watches, and gets his own shot to compete. For all I know, that was Hoke's "competition session." I don't see anything wrong with using 5-10 minutes during a practice to run that type of thing (aside from the injury component, but that's not what we're talking about here). If it's not the Michigan Drill, it's something else pitting man vs. man.

    21. @Roanman

      Your argument for Michigan's OL being big boiled down:
      -They are SMALLER than Alabama and Wisconsin
      -They are 6 pounds lighter than MSU

      They are taller, yes, which might help at tackle but also means their weight is further distributed around their bodies and they are therefore lankier. That might mean they are less powerful and easier to move - which is the whole point of having size in the first place.

      How many sub 300 pound guys is MSU going to start? Any outside of C? How about Michigan? They have 3 guys who are under 300 (outside of their presumed center). That is a small line. Glasgow (at center) is bigger than typical. Braden is bigger than typical. The other 3 are smaller, noticeably so.

      I'm not even arguing that the line is undersized. I don't think the concern is size because all these guys are big enough (though Cole could use a little more weight, as you said). But to argue that this line is some physical behemoth just waiting for the right direction is simply a fantasy.

  2. Argh, unfortunately, the dandelion comment is LOL because it's so true.

    1. LMAO!!! That comment made my day. I hope to use it one day when chopping it up with my peers...

  3. I give my hats off to you Thunder, ranking these running backs is almost a complete guess at this point. I do think that Green will be the #2 running back no matter who is the starter. Either way if our oline performs decently this year (which I personally think they will look great most of the time) the running backs we have are going to give other teams a lot of trouble.

    When you march out 3 guys all weighing 230lbs+ you are going to wear some teams down.

  4. I'm hoping higdon comes in hungry and wants to show everyone he is here to play... I'd take a driven and hungry 3/4 star over a diva 5 star...
    I think jimmy said this in an interview... "Hungry dogs, hunt best" so pumped for this season!!

  5. I was pretty disappointed with Green last year. I actually thought he benefitted from improved run blocking. There just seemed to be a ton of situations where he was confronted by the unblocked guy 3 or 4 yards downfield and just had no ability to juke the guy or run him over. He also has a tendency to miss holes. Here's hoping that Higdon or Isaac can have a breakout season.

  6. Good depiction here of all the running back uncertainty, especially under a new staff. That's why I think Higdon (and maybe Shallman) deserve to be a lot higher.

    You'd think that one of these guys will eventually separate from the pack - at least on running downs. I doubt you'll see a RB by committee all year long. At some point someone will prove themselves to be the better back for this team and they'll get the bulk of carries, maybe like 70% in each game. Who it is? Nobody knows. But here is my probabilistic estimate:

    Green 30%
    Smith 29%
    Johnson 15%
    Higdon 12%
    Issac 8%
    Shallman 5%
    Other 1%

    If one ranked the 6 guys above #30-35 it would be defensible.

    I think Green has the best potential as a ball-carrier. He's got great size and athleticism. Smith is a great grinding back, but he is the one that I see as locked into the #2 role. I don't have complete respect for the Hoke staff, but I think the fact that both Borges and Nussmeir saw Green as the best option means something. Higdon and Isaac are wildcards for various reasons. Johnson did look great at times but durability, his senior status, and the lack of well-rounded skillset make him an underdog for the lead-back roll. Shallman's around if they want to go Gerhardt on the Big 10.

    We'll see!

    1. You think Shallman is 62.5% as likely to be #1 as Isaac?

      Johnson is 15% even though he's coming off an injury and is highly unlikely to be 100% during the season?

      This is why it's hard to read your posts.

      Probabilistic estimate - based on your gut feeling.

      Bold statements like "Smith is the one I see as locked into the #2 role."

      Based on what? Just because someone else has to be #1?

      Shallman if they want to go Gerhardt on the Big 10.

      Because they're both white? Gerhardt finished #2 in the heisman voting. Shallman isn't in the RB discussion.

    2. @Anon

      Shallman was the leading ball-carrier in the spring game. He's in the discussion.

      Is Shallman white? Is that why you're excluding him?

      Yes, I think Isaac is less than twice as likely as Shallman to start. I don't think it's going to be either guy, and for good reason. They are both, like Gerhardt, jumbo backs with physical characteristics that are extremely uncommon in modern RBs. Normally I'd put them at under 5% but since there is so much uncertainty at the position, and since Harbaugh has rolled with Jumbo backs before, I bumped them both up.

      I may have Johnson too high, but I don't know how his recovery is coming along. I assume he'll be fine by midseason. Last year he looked like the most dangerous back at times.

      My statements are opinions based on what I've read, seen, and heard. You don't like them you can submit for my 100% money back guarantee. I've never had a submittal for this yet, so I assume you and the other oh-so-wise convention-of-the-minute-regurgitating "Anon"s out there are 100% satisfied.

    3. I am excluding Shallman because he's never going to be a running back. He wants to be a running back. Harbaugh's philosophy is "we'll let you play where you want", but the fine print says "for a year, and then we'll move you where you're going to actually play."

      Shallman was the lead ball-carrier

      Shallman: 12 carries for 22 yards.
      Smith: 7 carries for 50 yards.
      Isaac was limited.

      Isaac may be a large back in terms of his weight and height, but he's possibly the fastest running back on the team right now. Isaac does not have the same running style as Gerhardt, and I can't say Shallman does either, because he's never seen quality minutes of real game time from Shallman, and Gerhardt had quality minutes, and ultimately finished #2 in the heisman voting.

    4. re: Isaac vs. others

      I think if you superimposed Smith, Shallman, or Green into the film of Isaac playing against Cal when he was at USC, you would not see those guys scoring two touchdowns. I don't know if they would have hit the hole hard enough to score that 6-ish-yarder, and they wouldn't have been able to outrun those Cal defensive backs on the big run he broke.

    5. @Anon

      If Harbaugh wanted to send a message to Shallman, he wouldn't have given him the ball so much in the Spring.

      Shallman's entering his 3rd year now at RB. That's his position until it isn't.

      I don't know if these "Isaac is the fastest back" comments are substantiated by anything other than wishful thinking. I thought he was hurt? Or are we talking recruiting hype from 3 years ago again?

      Drake Johnson was an all america track star and is probably the fastest RB -- he's also the lightest, which is no coincidence because there aren't a lot of 230-240 pound sprinters. Isaac did not run track.

      I can certainly understand disagreeing with me and getting your hopes up about Isaac, as irrational as that may be... but to act like he is some sort of sure thing -- that a guy who was 5th string at USC, then transferred, and hasn't really come in for much (if any) positive hype since he arrived a year ago, has in fact been dogged by transfer rumors (again) AND doesn't fit the physical profile of a RB anymore... At some point you have to stop ignoring the direction all the signs are pointing and say OK, maybe that idea I had in my head from 3 years ago is wrong.

      I fully acknowledge all of the above could be washed away two weeks into camp. In that case, I'll be very happy to have a big, fast, tall, awesome RB. As you see in my comments I give Isaac a chance of being the LEAD back, which means I think the chances of him contributing are even higher than that.

      That doesn't mean I think it's likely. Wanting a big tall awesome fast power back doesn't make it so.


      You and I have a fundamental disagreement about the value of reading into garbage time carries. We've covered that before.

      Ty Isaac had 1 carry (for zero yards) before the game entered laugher territory. The score was 41-7 when he got his second carry (just before haltime). If outrunning the second string DBs on a 1-11 Cal team during the 4th quarter of a blowout is something you want to get excited about, go for it. A walk-on named John Akiba ran 4 times for 21 yards in that game!

      Besides, that was almost 2 years ago and Isaac has gained weight and been hurt a lot of the time since then.

    6. @ Lanknows 7:22 p.m.

      I trust my eyes. I don't care about "garbage time." That's the same argument when people on here and on MGoBlog blasted me for hyping up Mike Cox, and now he's in the NFL. I also pointed out to a lot of people that De'Veon Smith wasn't fast even though he was outrunning opponents in high school, and now I think everyone realizes that he's not fast.

      Ty Isaac has enough speed to succeed. I'm not saying he's Willie Gault, but he's fine. As for adding weight, pfft. Your argument doesn't hold water. He's 5 lbs. heavier than he was as a true freshman at USC.

    7. I think Isaac will be the #1 back as well. He is better than Green or Smith. Wait for Isaac to break 1000 yards this season.

    8. I think the video of Isaac's long TD run was taken down from Youtube (I can't find it, at least), but I did take a look at who he was playing against on an earlier run that got USC down near the goal line. The play started at the 22 and got them down to the 3, so it's a 19-yard run. Some of Cal's defenders involved in the play:

      Michael Lowe, a 29-game starter at Cal, who made 67 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. He was the #16 player in Maryland coming out of high school, according to Rivals.

      Isaac also shook Jalen Jefferson, a 3-star sophomore who made 66 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks in 2013.

      Cedric Dozier was a 4-star and the #152 player overall coming out of high school in 2012.

      Adrian Lee was a 3-star CB coming out of high school from Dallas Skyline.

      Are these guys superstars? No. But they're not exactly scrubs, either. Their profiles are on par with anybody we'll see from Minnesota, Rutgers, and pretty much anyone we'll see in the Big Ten outside of Ohio State. These guys weren't walk-ons. And you can say all you want about them being backups, but my guess is that Isaac was also running behind backup offensive linemen (I'm not going to spend any more time looking up their starting OL, but I think it's a safe bet.).

      You can see the play at 2:29 of the following video:

    9. @Thunder

      Two things.

      1. You treat Isaac's time at USC as if it was something to aim for. (only 5 pounds heavier than at USC). I treat it as: he's five pounds HEAVIER than when he was a 5th string guy?!?

      2. You like to pat yourself on the back for Mike Cox as if that was some great find. Here is the reality of the situation -- EVERYONE who bothered to watch liked what they saw from Cox. When you put up 8 or 9 ypc, that is encouraging and it makes you want to see it on meaningful downs. The conversation/consensus at the time was: lets give this guy the rock! / why won't they give this guy the rock? The insider rumblings were that he didn't "Get it". It was the other stuff - blocking, knowing his assignments, maybe catching passes that Cox struggled with. That's the stuff you tend to not put much stock in, but our coaching staffs do. So, from that point everyone sort of moved on when both Rodriguez and Hoke/Borges both came to the same conclusion - Cox wasn't playable on a down-to-down basis. Except you.

      Now you feel vindicated because Mike Cox fell into an extremely fortunate situation by when the giants lost ...I looked this up... 473 running backs to injury. They saw the same guy we saw - a guy who looked good when running with a football - and gave him a shot, mostly as a returner. He wasn't even very good at that and got waived.

      So yeah, the guy had talent, just like Denard Robinson has talent at QB. But the whole picture isn't there. For a guy who said Denard was not a good football player and constantly focused on his limitations, it's only reasonable to apply the same logic to Cox. He is good at running with a football. He has talent. He's not a good running back. He's not a good football player.

      You were wrong about Mike Cox. Rodriguez, Hoke, and Coughlin all agree.

    10. @Thunder

      I like that you trust your eyes. Your independent and fancy-free analysis is why I read. But, as we've discussed before, I don't think the RB position is a place where your track record is very good. I know you disagree with my opinion there, and that's fine too.

      The fact that you think the star ratings of the guys he might have been outrunning late in a blowout against a sad-sack team speaks to my point.

      We'll see about Isaac...that run is fine, but I don't see anything there that Smith or Johnson couldn't do too. Maybe I'm wrong though.

    11. @ Lanknows 10:33 a.m.

      You said the guys at Cal were scrubs. I gave you their star ratings and some of their statistics. If we're talking about facts, I don't think you watched all of Cal's games in 2013 or have much knowledge of their depth chart. So I've brought more to the table than you. And like I said, just take a look at De'Veon Smith on any carry ever or Derrick Green last year. Which one of those guys could have housed that run against Cal? They're both guys who get caught from behind on a regular basis, even by the players at Appalachian State who just moved up from FCS.

    12. @ Thunder

      Where did I say that? I thought I just said they were 2nd stringers playing in a game where the outcome was already well in hand? My point was outrunning guys in that context, even if they're Deon Sanders (which they aren't) probably isn't very meaningful because they aren't exactly giving 110%.

      I'm no expert on Cal, but I do know that they finished 1-11.

      Mike Hart got caught from behind often too.

      Not your point or my point, since we are discussing if Isaac is fast or not for some reason now...

      As we've covered before - I'm not SURE Isaac is fat, but 240 is very big, even for 6'2. I'm not SURE Isaac is slow or fast or not, but I don't see complelling evidence one way or the other via highlights of perhaps not so motivated defenders trying to tackle Isaac in a game that happened almost 2 years ago. Other may - and that's fine.

    13. @ Lanknows 10:27 a.m.

      I wasn't wrong about Mike Cox. I never said he was the second coming of Barry Sanders. I said he deserved more playing time. Saying he "fell into a fortunate situation" is about as weak of an argument as you can think up. Why was it him who fell into a fortunate situation but not Vincent Smith, Michael Shaw, Stephen Hopkins, any other Michigan back, or any other running back from across the country? There were numerous guys out on the street who didn't get a shot, but he did. He had a two-year career (so far, at least) that saw him average 22.5 yards/return and 2.9 yards/carry. What were Vincent Smith's stats in the NFL? How about Sam McGuffie's? The two guys I liked best were Cox and Toussaint. Both guys made NFL rosters.

      So I wasn't wrong about Cox. He deserved more playing time (at least from an on-the-field standpoint; none of us know what happened off the field), and if those other guys - who got more of a shot to play - were actually better at football than Cox, they would have been the ones returning kicks or being signed as a backup RB.

      I don't see how the whole "Tom Coughlin agrees that you're wrong" is even an argument for you. Coughlin allowed him to play in the NFL. Apparently, he doesn't think Cox is worth keeping around for a third year or being given a chance to start...but when have you seen me argue otherwise? Have I ever claimed that an NFL owner or GM should be building his franchise around Michael Cox?

    14. @ Lanknows 10:49 a.m.

      I could have sworn you called them scrubs at point, but maybe not. Regardless, they weren't (all) second-stringers, since Lowe and Jefferson were both starters, at the least. Maybe they weren't giving 110%. You and I don't know. But you can't discount any given play at one point in the game or another and say, "Oh, well, he's not good because the other guys weren't going hard." How do you know at any given point what effort level an opposing player was giving? Furthermore, does that mean that any good play once a score reaches a margin of X number of points is no longer valid?

      Like I said, watch Isaac's plays in that Cal game and tell me with a straight face that Green, Smith, Shallman, etc. would have been able to make them. All of them would have been caught from behind, and a couple of them would have been slowed down at the second level instead of getting to the third level or beyond.

      Any discussion regarding Isaac comes back to him being "fat" with you. If he were fat, he either wouldn't be outrunning/juking people or it wouldn't matter because speed is speed whether it's the legs of a fat guy or a skinny guy. If you win a national championship in basketball, does it matter whether your point guard was the chubby Khalid El-Amin or the skinny Quinn Cook? Does a home run count for fewer runs if it's hit 331 feet instead of 440 feet?

    15. I brought up Denard to make a distinction between somebody having talent or a specific skillset and being a great football player. Same goes for Cox.

      Ball-carrier vs Running Back. That's the distinction you're ignoring with Cox. Cox has talent as a ball-carrier. Everybody saw that. That's why Coughlin gave him a shot. Your argument was the he deserved to play more at RUNNING BACK. Three different coaches (two of them proven to be very good) have decided that Mike Cox was not good enough to play running back for them. His skill got his foot in the door, his execution was lacking.

      That same distinction was the crux of our Smith/Shaw debate. I valued the blocking, pass-catching more. You valued the ability to outrun DBs more. I feel I was proven right when Shaw was benched by Hoke, but a reasonable argument can be made that Shaw was beaten out for HIS role while Smith faced no real competition for HIS.

      Anyway, you can invent strawman arguments like Barry Sanders all you want, but the point is that UMass and High School were the only places where Mike Cox was successful at being a RB -- which was the argument you made.

      (Actually now that I think back on it you might have argued he should have returned kicks too, and I think I agreed with that. Still...)

      Arguing Cox was a good running back because he returned kicks in the NFL is like arguing Denard was a great quarterback because he plays running back in the NFL. There's an element of truth to it (presence of an elite skill that applies to the position) but it misses the big picture (that the position requires a lot more than that skill).

      It's not about off-field stuff - it's about running back stuff.

      But - again - I don't think I'm going to convince you at this point. There is a fundamental difference in opinion for what matters for a RB. I value the 'other' more than you. I think my view is backed up by coaches putting people like Cox and Mike Shaw on the bench. You think your view is backed up by Cox playing in the NFL.

    16. Isaac may not be fat. But he's too big. Call it what you want.

      He's NOT outrunning or juking people. He's sitting on the bench, transferring, getting hurt, and running for 1 yard in the spring game.

      I did watch the run you linked to. I didn't see anything to get excited about. Good run, but I could dig up better runs from Smith, Johnson, or Green without much effort. I'm not going to, because it's a waste of time. Nor am I going to watch every Isaac run from 2 years ago to try to see something that may or may not be there anymore.

      I'm not saying the garbage time stuff proves he isn't good. I'm saying it doesn't prove anything. It's a nice sign that ____ might be a nice player, but a lot of times it's just nothing (see: fullbacks and walkons running for 5-10 ypc).

      You can say "How do you know they weren't trying"...and I don't in that specific case. But I think we can all agree that guys are generally trying harder in a tie game than in the 4th quarter of a game that was decided in the 1st. This is pretty obvious -coaches sub in players who wouldn't be playing otherwise.

      You're trying to flip this argument to say "what does it prove" on me. I'm arguing it proves nothing - one way or the other - and always have.

      I'd love to know the current 40 times of each of our RBs for the sake of this discussion. But we don't know, and ultimately it's pretty trivial for who will be the best RB. Toby Gerhardt was slow, etc.

    17. I'm not "inventing" strawman arguments. You said that Tom Coughlin cutting Mike Cox is proof that I was wrong about Cox. WTF does that even mean? I asked you when I ever said anything about him playing more for the Giants, being their franchise RB, etc. and you danced around it.

      I would certainly be interested in seeing some better runs you could dig up. I think it would be just as easy as typing about 15 paragraphs. And like I said, I can't find the one that Isaac ran in from 40-ish yards against Cal, but you've probably also seen it before.

      I'm not saying that Isaac's time at USC "proves" anything. What I am saying is that he's got a lot more to back him up than, for example, Wyatt Shallman and Karan Higdon.

    18. It means 3 coaches have elected NOT to play Mike Cox at RB. They gave him a shot because of his talent. He didn't have what it takes to be a RB anywhere above HS and UMass.

      I never said anything about your claims re: Giants. I don't remember you even discussing this. ? I'm saying his Giants thing doesn't prove your point about Michigan, it only serves to reinforce the conclusion drawn by most at the time he left Michigan (talented guy who didn't do enough to play at RB).

      Is Isaac more proven than Higdon? - yes. But not playing a college game in almost 2 years vs never having played a college game is splitting hairs if you ask me. Higdon's been productive in actual games more recently, and played through injury. (Compare to Isaac who was healthy enough to play, but not healthy enough to get more than 1 carry in the spring game apparently).

      Is Isaac more proven than Shallman? - no. The differences can be chalked up entirely to circumstance. Both were 5th stringers. Shallman a 5th stringer on team that wasn't USC and never produced much in the way of blow-out opportunities. Meanwhile, in the spring game he got the start and way more carries AND (sample size alert!) more ypc than Isaac. So NO -- the "back up" here is weak, excuse-laden, and out-of-date, just as the counter-argument (Shallman over Isaac) is weak, excuse-laden, and counter-intuitive. Nobody knows which of the two is better. Which is exactly my point.

      Even though we can't make an objectively convincing argument for Shallman over Isaac or Isaac over Shallman, one guy is getting shuffled off to H-back and the other is being hyped as the #1 back. The reasons why go back mostly to recruiting hype, which is pretty ridiculous for guys who are juniors in college now.

      So, again, we'll see...

    19. Cox made a two-year career out of being a running back in the NFL, and he probably made several hundred thousand dollars to do so. So I'd say he proved himself to some extent. And you did say that Coughlin "agrees that I'm wrong about Cox" (paraphrasing) which doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

      Splitting hairs between a high schooler and a guy who hasn't played college ball in two years? Really? Almost every FBS transfer has to sit out a year. Carrying that argument forward, you will be saying next year that John O'Korn and Brandon Peters are both on the same level because O'Korn hasn't played a game since 2014.

      As for Isaac's health, you really don't know what you're talking about. He was nursing multiple injuries. He told the coaches that he would give the spring game a go. He went out there and gave it a try, but the hamstring injury flared up so he left the "game." How is this any different than any other athlete who has tried to work through a lingering injury and left a contest after it flares up? And it was a practice/scrimmage, not even a game.

    20. Coughlin waived Cox. He didn't play him at RB in 2014. The only year he did, 2013, was when the depth chart was decimated by attrition. Cox was at the right place at the right time. He had enough talent to be on an NFL practice squad, like Sam McGuffie and many others. His NFL cup of tea speaks to the talent he has, but it doesn't prove he was any better of a RB than the guys he played behind at college, at the opinion of multiple coaches.

      I get your points here but I think it's time to agree to disagree.


      I won't say the same thing about O'Korn because experience is very important at the QB position. More importantly:

      Here are O'Korn's accolades in college (via his player page at Houston):
      • 2014 Davey O'Brien Award Watch List
      • 2014 Maxwell Award Watch List
      • 2014 Dave Campbell's Preseason All-Texas Second Team
      • 2014 Phil Steele's Preseason AAC Second Team
      • 2014 Athlon Sports Preseason AAC Second Team
      • 2013 The American Athletic Conference's Rookie of the Year
      • 2013 Third Team Freshman All-American by Athlon Sports
      • 2013 American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week (Sept. 30)

      Here are Ty Isaac's (per his team page at USC):

      2014: Isaac will look to increase his role at tailback as a sophomore in 2014.


      I know what I'm talking about with Isaac's injuries because all I've done is acknowledge their existence and speculated that they may be due to weight. We're talking about a guy that USC listed at 225, who MICHIGAN listed at 225 last fall, and now weighs 240.

      I never said I know for a fact that injury was caused by being overweight, but it's not unreasonable to consider a relationship between the two indisputable facts: injury, weight gain. IF the two are related, it would not be the first time for an athlete.

    21. So why weren't any other running backs (Smith, Shaw, anyone from any other school, etc.) there to take Cox's place with the Giants? They could have signed any free agent, but they didn't. They chose Cox.

      It's silly that "not playing in a game for two years" suddenly doesn't matter for O'Korn, while it was something you used to downgrade Isaac. It either means something or it doesn't. The "experience" thing is your BS way of trying to rationalize it.

      Again, Isaac himself said that he has not been 225 lbs. since high school. I have provided that link for you before, and it came directly from his Twitter account.

    22. Cox got drafted in the 7th round. McGuffie didn't. I guess you win. Except...7th rounders aren't typically drafted to be feature RBs, they are drafted often times to play special teams.

      To the bigger issue: circumstance. By the fall, both were trying out for their respective teams. I believe both started the year on practice squads. We can argue the hypothetical, but what if it was McGuffie who was on the Giants at this time and not the Raiders/Cardinals/Patriots or his team last year - the Winnipeg Blue Bombers? The Giants are a team that was beset by unexpected and unusually high attrition that year. That's why Cox got carries at RB. By the next offseason the Giants fixed the situation and he was back to special teams (not RB).

      But yeah, sure, credit to Cox for making an NFL team, and actually playing there. It is a tribute to his capabilities. Let's just acknowledge that a) he had some luck to get said opportunity and b) he didn't do much with it.

      Cox was always a good runner, never a good running back. The NFL drafts on potential, not productivity. Playing time is based on productivity not potential. Cox has never produced as a RB in terms of earning playing time at RB (except at UMass).

      His talent gave him an opportunity at MIchigan and in the NFL. It's an opportunity he did not capitalize on.


      If O'Korn spends the next year gaining weight, being injured, and not gaining any hype over people like Shane Morris, Malzone, and Gentry then my opinion of him will go down. I won't view him as a savior.

      If O'Korn garners hype about his practice performance (as he's done already) then my hopes for him will go up. He's already a proven college starter.

      Contrast that with Isaac, who was a backup, and hasn't done anything to GAIN buzz over the last almost 2 years. I was excited about Isaac when he decided to transfer to Michigan (not as excited as others, but at least intrigued.) The past year and a half has dulled that excitement for me because of the absence of buzz.

      You're either moving up or you're moving down and Isaac hasn't been moving up anywhere besides on the weight scale.


      I feel fine with a true freshman at RB. I'm terrified of a true freshman at QB. This isn't BS but the realities of playing the position at college. Experience matters more at different positions.

      I really don't care what Isaac says about his weight. Players often aren't objective judges of their own situations. He was listed - by two different programs - as 225. I don't know what reasons they would have to lie about this. Isaac was weighed by USC, he was weighed by Michigan... you really want to tell me both are lying? Because Isaac says so on twitter?

    23. Tyrone Wheatley was 215 lbs. as a freshman. He was 226 lbs. as a senior. Tim Biakabutuka was 187 lbs. as a freshman. He was 205 as a junior. Chris Perry was 215 lbs. as a freshman, 235 lbs. as a junior, and 228 lbs. as a senior. Michael Cox was 206 lbs. as a freshman and 214 lbs. as a junior. Fitzgerald Toussaint was 185 lbs. as a freshman and 200 lbs. as a senior.

      That's the long way of saying that players (including running backs) usually - or at least frequently - gain weight in college. I don't know that USC/Michigan would have "lied" but I don't know that they're particularly stringent when it comes to listing heights and weights either. I've seen rosters before where everyone's weight ends in a 0 or a 5. We've seen guys be listed at 6'0" like Denard Robinson, only to measure in at the Combine at a shade over 5'10". Why would a school lie? I don't know. It's probably not "lying" so much as not really giving a flying f*** what goes in the media guide.

      You apply some very specific rules to some guys, but then you wipe them away for others just to suit your argument. You say Coughlin drafting/playing Michael Cox proves that I'm wrong somehow. You point to weight as an issue for Isaac when he's 10-15 lbs. heavier than guys who are four inches shorter than him, and you also suggest it's a reason for his hamstring/hand injuries when Drake Johnson (who's 211 lbs.) has torn his ACL twice and Drake Harris (184 lbs.) has nagging hamstring injuries.

      I disagree with some of the other stuff you wrote, but I'm tired of arguing it. I've said what I needed to say.

    24. Drake Johnson was an all american in the 110m hurdles. That was before his first and second knee injuries.

      Do you think 110m hurdles translates to football speed?

      The 100m or the 60m, I'd see that. The 200m, I'd see that. I'd even take the 400m dash, because to run a good 400m dash you need to be a phenomenal athelete. But not 110m hurdles.

      Frame of reference - Denard Robinson ran a 6.81 60m dash at "the dual" track meet vs. ohio state.
      Drake Johnson's PR from highschool was 7.50 seconds.

      Frame of reference - I outran Drake Johnson's 200m and 400m dash.

      Go ahead and defend Drake Johnson's speed though, because he was an all american track star in high school. Time and time again you make a bold statement with Lanknows rational - completely unsubstantiated, and completely ridiculous.

    25. This conversation has gone really downhill. Now we're asserting that players who aren't hurt get injured too?

      Nobody is arguing all weight gain is bad. If Isaac was a FB, TE, or LB, it'd probably be a good thing. But as a purported RB, going from 225 to 240 is unlikely to be good. You'll notice that none of the guys you listed were 240 lb. The one guy that got above 230 had his breakout year after he lost that extra weight.

      I would not assert that you think all weight gain is good, because that is stupid and bad argument. The reverse is too.

      The roster listings thing is even more ridiculous. Michigan and USC don't round to the nearest 5. I dont know why they would for Isaac. Even if they did, why do they suddenly care to show 240 when before they cared to show 225. Maybe it doesn't mean anything, but more likely it means he gained weight. Maybe it was more like 10 pounds than 25 (current listing vs listing as a recruit). So what? Either way he has gained weight and struggled to stay healthy and is well beyond the norm for his position.

      Is weight gain or health issues definitive proof of anything in regard to on field production -- obviously not. Is weight gain inherently good? No, some is bad some is good. Is the health issue likely to repeat? Maybe maybe not, but it's better to be healthy than not. Is weight the only reason you can get hurt? No. Is weight A reason you could get hurt? Yes.

      Yep- he's tall. Well great, except that there aren't many 6'3 backs anymore. So that's just another reason I doubt him.

      Having non-prototypical size doesn't preclude a guy from being a good player. I'd LOVE to have fast tall jumbo power back. I can imagine myself chuckling with glee as some sort of Christian Okoye reincarnate rumbles through the line and bowls over wide-eyed DBs.

      What it does do is make it far less LIKELY that you're going to succeed. Isaac COULD break the mold. Gearhart did. Sproles does. etc. That doesn't mean it's likely to happen again, especially with a guy who has transferred, gained weight, struggled to stay healthy, and is dogged by other nebulous questions on top of that.


      I said Coughlin cutting Cox and not playing him at RB (along with all the other evidence at Michigan) supports that Cox isn't a great RB. It was another coach doing the same thing two coaches at Michigan did -- deciding not to play him at RB. You argued for the opposite.

      I'm sure we'll rehash some of this stuff in the Isaac post again (if it's not beaten to death already).

    26. @Anon.

      The top 10 all time Michigan 110M hurdlers includes Ty Wheatley and Thomas Wilcher. Yeah, I think it can translate.

    27. The report on Johnson was always - fast in a straight line, doesn't change direction well. Which kind of matters if you're a RB.

      He was a 2-star recruit though, so slower than Denard Robinson fits my expectations pretty well. So are all our RBs, by a lot.

    28. Thomas Wilcher and Wheatley.

      Peppers and Countess are good gymnasts. We can probably assume all gymnasts are great DBs.

    29. @Anon Nobody said every track kid was a great player. The discussion was about who was fast. Then an Anon said there was no correlation with 110M hurdles and football. Wilcher and Wheatley prove there is. I'd actually argue it's MORE meaningful for football than just a straight sprinter, since you aren't doing that on the field too often.

  7. We can't count on Drake or Higdon. Rehabbed ACL's and true freshman are to unpredictable.

  8. I don't think Green is a scrub (or even close), but how on earth did he get five stars (recruiting) with so many limitations?

    Also, has any team in the last ten years had two five-star backs (Green and Kevin Gravy) as disappointing as ours?

    1. It's rare that a high school running back has his size/speed combination. When you're 5'11", 230-ish pounds and can run, you're going to get a fair amount of hype. He also performed pretty well against other big-time players in the Army All-American game. He was never an all-out burner, though, and he was never known for his agility. I think it's pretty clear at this point that he was overrated, although I think he's better than what he's shown.

    2. Urban Meyer "cooled" on Green. That's the difference between a talent evaluator and a star gazer (Hoke).

    3. Ironically it was the opposite narrative for most of Hoke's time here.

      Meyer does have the rep of a stargazer.

      It did seem at the time like a lot of teams backed of Green and he chose Michigan only after a few other elite programs backed off a bit (in part because they landed other guys and Green became less of priority). But it was clear he wasn't a guy everyone was clawing at each other to get by the time he committed. Weight might have had something to do with it.

      The point is, the guy has talent. Maybe he was only a 3.5 star or 4 star and not a 5 star but he's still a nice player to have on your raster.

      The dandelion stuff is pretty harsh IMO.

  9. Listen, speed kills and Isaac is the fastest of the bunch, plus can catch the ball out of the back field. He will win the starting spot coming out of fall camp and will have over 1,000 yards for the season. The others will get a shot too but once Isaac takes a couple all the way to the house like the A-Train and Ty Wheatley use to do, the competition will be over.

    1. @ Anonymous 2:53 p.m.

      That's what I hope will happen. I'm not convinced that it *will* happen, but I certainly think it's a possibility.

  10. Amazing how 8 months ago Ty Isaac was the 2nd coming to the fanbase and now he is pure garbage.

    Has a guy ever risen and fallen so quickly in this fanbase without ever playing a down??? Wow.

    1. When all the practice reports and summer reports point in direction you start to believe them. I recently read somewhere that perhaps there was an 'epiphany' so we will see. He is crazy talented.

    2. Not everyone thought he was the savior. I always thought the shine had worn off a bit with his time at USC and transfer, but then when he spent a year at MIchigan with little to no buzz.... O'Korn's already getting hyped up just from informal workouts. That's how it goes when you have a caged mustang (i.e., ineligible player who does well in practice). You get a lot of "you just wait till this guy can show you in a game!" talk. These kind of things come out and when you don't hear a peep about's an indictment of sorts.

      Now I'm certainly not privy to all the insider rumblings, but I get enough to catch wind of most of the buzz. It hasn't been there much (if at all) for Isaac.

      Maybe that's meaningless but I've been a fan for many years and I don't think it is. We'll see...

    3. Unlike you, I have heard hype about Ty Isaac. This spring he was wearing a cast on one hand and had a pulled hamstring. Would you expect a running back with a pulled hammy and a cast to be a destroyer of worlds?

    4. A. He's been on campus for how long? Wasn't he practicing with the team last year too?

      B. Maybe weight has something to do with health.

    5. I'll repeat something I said above, since you must have missed one of the three sentences typed above:

      "Unlike you, I have heard hype about Ty Isaac."

      Yeah...I guess Drake Johnson is pretty fat, too. After all, he's torn his ACL twice. And Amara Darboh had that foot problem... And Russell Bellomy tore his ACL... Desmond Morgan hurt his shoulder... They're all just fatties.

    6. I guess you proved your point. Off to eat my pork chops and donuts.

  11. If Green only had the 4.3 speed he was once reported to possess.....

    1. I suspect you might say the same about another one of our RBs come this fall...