Sunday, December 31, 2023

Rose Bowl Preview: Michigan Pass Offense vs. Alabama Defense


Terrion Arnold (image via Alabama Athletics)

Michigan ranks #73 in passing offense (218.8 yards/game), but they're #5 in passing efficiency and #14 in yards per attempt (9.0). Quarterback J.J. McCarthy was reportedly banged up for the last few weeks of the season, and some in Michigan circles have pointed to that being a major factor while he had a statistically mediocre run to end the regular season and then into the Big Ten Championship Game. McCarthy has thrown just 1 touchdown and 1 interception in the last five games, though he completed 68.6% of his throws during that time and twice topped the 80% mark. Michigan's vaunted offensive line was leaky in pass protection, especially on whichever side tackle Karsen Barnhart was manning. Now that Barnhart has slid inside to replace injured right guard Zak Zinter, things may improve in pass pro a little. It will be interesting to see whether Myles Hinton or Trente Jones takes on the full-time right tackle position, since Jones has played a ton of the "extra tight end" role. Michigan's best matchups at pass catcher are at tight end, where Colston Loveland (40 catches, 572 yards, 4 TD) and A.J. Barner (22 catches, 249 yards, 1 TD) reside. The leading overall receiver is speedy Roman Wilson, who has 41 catches for 662 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year. The wild card is RB Donovan Edwards (30 catches, 249 yards), who can create matchup issues with linebackers if used judiciously.

Alabama is #24 in pass defense (188.8 yards allowed/game) and #17 in pass efficiency defense, allowing 14 touchdowns while making 12 interceptions (#42). Their 6.4 yards allowed/attempt is tied for #15 nationally. The NFL builds around cornerbacks and pass rushers, and Alabama has some of the best in the country. They have two potential 1st round cornerbacks in redshirt sophomore Terrion Arnold (6'0", 196), who has 5 interceptions and 11 pass breakups, and junior Kool-Aid McKinstry (6'1", 195), who has 7 pass breakups. The Crimson Tide rank #13 in sacks (2.92 per game). They have three players with 7+ sacks, including OLB Dallas Turner (6'4", 252) with 9.0, senior OLB Chris Braswell (6'3", 255) with 8.0, and fifth year senior DE Justin Egboigbe (6'5", 292) with 7.0. For comparison, the last time Michigan had three players with 7+ sacks in one season was . . . never.

Advantage: Alabama. Michigan's receivers are going to have a tough time uncovering against Arnold and McKinstry, so the Wolverines are going to have to rely heavily on what they can get over the middle with the tight ends and running backs. I would expect Colston Loveland to lead Michigan in receiving in this one, but the pass rush could be a major issue if Barnhart and company can't hold up. Michigan has really struggled to throw the ball explosively against teams with decent pass rushers (Penn State, Ohio State, Iowa, etc.), and I don't know why that would change here in the CFP.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Josh Priebe, Wolverine


Josh Priebe (#68, image via Freep)

Former Northwestern offensive guard Josh Priebe entered the transfer portal and committed to Michigan.

Priebe is listed at 6'5" and 310 lbs. He started 28 games at Northwestern, including twelve games in 2023. He was named Third Team All-Big Ten and selected as a captain for the Wildcats, who completed a surprising 8-5 season on December 23 with a 14-7 win over Utah.

Michigan offered Priebe out of Edwardsburg (MI) Edwardsburg back in the class of 2020. Though Michigan made sense in many respects, he was crystal balled to Michigan State for a while before picking Northwestern. He played quite a bit as a true freshman in 2020, which didn't count because of COVID. He then went on to start for the majority of 2021-2023.

I remember Priebe as a mobile offensive lineman who pulled quite a bit in high school and looked pretty good on the hoof. Michigan is losing both offensive guards - Trevor Keegan and Zak Zinter - to the NFL after this season, and Priebe started at left guard for the 'Cats. He could possibly slide into Keegan's spot at left guard for 2024, though there's stiff competition from the likes of Andrew Gentry, Giovanni El-Hadi, and others. A lot can happen between now and next August, but the starting line could look like this:

  • LT: Myles Hinton
  • LG: Josh Priebe
  • C: Drake Nugent
  • RG: Giovanni El-Hadi
  • RT: Trente Jones

All of those players have starting experience, and each of them would be in at least his fourth year of playing college football.

Priebe was a 3-star, the #20 offensive guard, and #435 overall in the class of 2020. He would be the first player to suite up for the Wolverines from Edwardsburg (MI) Edwardsburg, though there is a player named Frank Loomis who suited up for Michigan way back in 1891. I can't figure out when Edwardsburg High School opened or whether Loomis was just from the town . . . or if he attended some now defunct school in the area. Regardless, it's been a long time since anyone from Edwardsburg has worn the maize and blue winged helmet.

Jaishawn Barham, Wolverine


Jaishawn Barham

Former Maryland linebacker Jaishawn Barham, who entered the transfer portal two weeks after the regular season finished, committed to Michigan on Wednesday.

Barham is a 6'4", 233 lb. rising junior who will be immediately eligible to play with two seasons of eligibility remaining. As a freshman in 2022, he made 58 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 pass breakup. Then in 2023 he made 37 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 interception, and 1 pass breakup.

Michigan offered Barham coming out of Baltimore (MD) St. Frances, but he chose the Terps. He created a bit of a stir, too, by waffling back and forth between Maryland and South Carolina. He was a 4-star, the #10 linebacker, and #119 overall in that class.

Barham is a physical specimen who has two years of Big Ten starting experience under his belt. He will be immediately eligible and should factor into playing time in 2024. With starting linebacker Michael Barrett moving on after this season, there will be at least one open spot. Junior Junior Colson has a decision to make about whether to attempt the NFL Draft or come back for one final year, and Ernest Hausmann is also under consideration. The best case scenario is that Barham, Colson, and Hausmann form the best inside linebacker trio in the country; the worst case scenario would seemingly be that Barham and Hausmann both start, while Colson opts for the NFL and Jimmy Rolder - who is redshirting in 2023 - is the primary backup inside linebacker in 2024.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Rose Bowl Preview: Michigan Rush Offense vs. Alabama Defense


Alabama safety Caleb Downs (image via Alabama Athletics)

Michigan ranks #61 in rushing offense (161.8 yards/game), #71 in yards per carry (4.27), and #4 in rushing touchdowns. The Wolverines went from a heavy rush offense the past two years to more of a balanced attack this season. So despite having a talented and very experienced offensive line, the rushing numbers have dropped off some. Blake Corum topped 1,000 yards this season, but he needed the Big Ten Championship Game against Iowa to get there (218 carries, 1028 yards, 24 TD). Star running back Donovan Edwards is somehow the second least efficient running back in the Big Ten (3.5 yards/carry). The offensive line had to reshuffle during the Ohio State game after losing All-American right guard Zak Zinter to a broken leg. The good news is that he was replaced at guard by Karsen Barnhart, who seems to perform better at guard than tackle. The bad news is that new right tackle Trente Jones used to be Michigan's sixth lineman in the jumbo package, so now perhaps that package is gone. Possibly, though, the coaching staff could spend the bowl practices incorporating someone else - such as backup Myles Hinton - as the jumbo tight end.

Alabama is #31 in rush defense (124.5 yards allowed/game) and #33 in yards allowed per carry (3.7). They have allowed 14 rushing touchdowns this season, which is tied for #39 in the country. Although the team has improved overall throughout the season, the rushing defense has arguably got worse. Ten out of those 14 rushing touchdowns allowed have come in the last five games, while LSU and Auburn have run for 8.6 and 5.8 yards per carry, respectively. LSU has Heisman-winning dual-threat QB Jayden Daniels, but Auburn has . . . nobody noteworthy. The leading tackler for the Crimson Tide is true freshman strong safety Caleb Downs (6'0", 203 lbs.), who has an amazing 99 stops. He's followed by sophomore LB Jihaad Campbell (6'3", 230), who has 65 tackles but is listed as a backup; redshirt sophomore CB Terrion Arnold (6'0", 196) with 61; redshirt sophomore LB Deontae Lawson (6'2", 230) with 61; and fifth year senior DE Justin Egboigbe (6'5", 292) with 60. Egboigbe and OLB Dallas Turner (6'4", 252) are the guys to watch to be making plays in the backfield. While the interior defensive line play has not been outstanding, the Tide have a couple huge starting tackles in redshirt sophomore Tim Kennan III (6'2", 315) at nose tackle and sophomore DT Jaheim Oatis (6'5", 320).

Advantage: Alabama. The overall numbers and recent history favor the opponent. Michigan has been overwhelmed at the line of scrimmage in recent years against SEC opponents like Alabama and Georgia. I don't see that getting much better now that Michigan will be without its best offensive lineman. Michigan has not had explosive plays in the run game this season, so unless J.J. McCarthy can become a bigger factor and channel his inner Jayden Daniels, I expect Michigan to struggle a little. I do think they'll find some success - it won't be a total bloodbath in the trenches - but Michigan will have to be creative and balanced.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Class of 2024: Early Signing Day Primer


Lugard Edokpayi

The "early" National Signing Day for the class of 2024 will be on Wednesday, December 20, 2023. This early signing day has really killed some of the excitement that used to exist, built during a slow off-season after the bowls. Now the early signing day is mixed in with the College Football Playoff discussion, upcoming bowls, transfer portal drama, and coaching changes . . . not to mention a little thing called Christmas about a week later.

Michigan is also offering 300+ players per cycle and decommitments happen left and right, depending on who's offering the best NIL plan, so it's harder and harder for the average fan to follow recruiting.

Instead of doing a player-by-player rundown of what remains of the 2024 class, I'll try to address the most pressing issues. And if anything surprising happens, so be it.

More than 30 offered players remain uncommitted for 2024, but most are not considering Michigan. The most prominent target is District Heights (MD) Bishop McNamara DE Lugard Edokpayi (4-star, #25 EDGE, #305 overall). Edokpayi took an official visit to Michigan in the middle of last week, and he has now been crystal balled to the Wolverines by Brice Marich and has a FutureCast from Josh Henschke. Edokpayi is the lone uncommitted prospect who seems to be a strong possibility for the Wolverines, but sometimes there are surprises.

Hit the jump for more.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Visitors: December 15-17, 2023


Jaishawn Barham (image via Maryland Athletics)


Jaishawn Barham - LB - Maryland: Barham is a 6'4", 233 lb. prospect who spent the past two seasons with the Terrapins. In the class of 2022, he was a 4-star, the #10 linebacker, and #119 overall. For the 2023 season, he made 37 tackles, 3 sacks, and 1 interception; that 1 interception came in the red zone against Michigan in the second to last week of the regular season. He could be a potential replacement for the graduating Michael Barrett, and perhaps junior Junior Colson could enter the NFL draft, too. Michigan offered him out of high school when he was coming from Baltimore (MD) St. Frances, which is the school that produced Blake Corum, Derrick Moore, Eyabi Okie, and others.

Joey Slackman - DT - Penn: Originally from Commack (NY) Commack, Slackman is a 6'4", 300 lb. grad transfer from Penn. He made 49 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 2023. The 2024 season would be his sixth year.

Upton Stout - S - Western Kentucky: Stout visited last weekend. He's a 5'9", 185 lb. player who made 29 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception, and 8 pass breakups this past year. Originally from Houston (TX) North Shore, he started off at North Texas before transferring to WKU. Stout made 4 interceptions during his first year at WKU in 2022. Stout will be a redshirt junior in 2024 and could step in at nickel for Mike Sainristil.


Jo'Ziah Edmond - CB - Nappanee (IN) Northwood: Edmond is committed to Michigan (LINK). He's a 4-star, the #23 cornerback, and #335 overall. This is his official visit.

Lugard Edokpayi - DE - District Heights (MD) Bishop McNamara: Edokpayi is a 6'6", 230 lb. prospect with offers from Florida State, Maryland, Michigan, Rutgers, Tennessee, and Texas A&M, among others. He's a 4-star, the #22 edge, and #268 overall. This is his official visit, a midweek stay from December 12-14.

Zach Ludwig - LB - South Park (PA) South Park: Ludwig is committed to Michigan. This is his official visit.

Jaden Smith - LB - Charlotte (NC) West Charlotte: Smith is committed to Michigan (LINK). This is his official visit.

Monday, December 11, 2023

C.J. Stokes, Ex-Wolverine


C.J. Stokes

Michigan running back C.J. Stokes has entered the transfer portal. This past season was his second season in the program, and he redshirted, so he will have three seasons to play three seasons. He was a 3-star, the #63 running back, and #797 overall in the 2022 recruiting class out of Columbia (SC) Hammond. I initially gave him a TTB Rating of 59 before bumping him up to a 71 at the end of the cycle.

Stokes got a lot of playing time as a freshman. He ran 55 times for 273 yards and 1 touchdown, and he also caught 1 pass for 15 yards, while playing in eleven games. But toward the end of the season, Kalel Mullings switched from linebacker to running back and started to take some snaps. That carried over into the 2023 campaign.

During the current 2023 season, Stokes played in just two games and ran 2 times for 6 yards. He did have injury issues that caused him to miss a chunk of time. Either way, though, he appeared to have lost ground to Mullings.

I liked what I saw from Stokes during his time at Michigan, but he needed to continue getting stronger and working on some fundamental things, such as getting his shoulders square to defenders. I think he can go somewhere and still have a productive career.

Looking ahead to 2024, Blake Corum could technically return (if he uses the COVID year exemption) but will almost certainly be heading to the NFL. Donovan Edwards expressed before the season that he planned to jump to the NFL, but his season did not go according to plan. And Mullings played a good-sized role with 32 carries for 195 yards and 1 touchdown, possibly earning him the chance to be a starter next season. Edwards and Mullings could make a nice 1-2 punch in 2024 if both decide to return.

Potential depth chart for 2024 (according to seniority):

  1. Kalel Mullings (RS Sr.)
  2. Donovan Edwards (Sr.)
  3. Tavierre Dunlap (RS Jr.)
  4. Cole Cabana (RS Fr.)
  5. Ben Hall (RS Fr.)
  6. Micah Ka'apana (Fr.)
  7. Jordan Marshall (Fr.)
Stokes is the third member of the 2022 class to transfer, following safety Damani Dent (Charlotte) and linebacker Deuce Spurlock (Florida).

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Deyvid Palepale, Wolverine


Deyvid Palepale

Lancaster (PA) Manheim Township defensive tackle Deyvid Palepale flipped from USC to Washington. Aside from the Trojans, Palepale also has offers from Auburn, Florida, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, and Tennessee, among others.

Palepale is listed at 6'3" and 305 pounds.

ESPN: 3-star, 79 grade, #27 DT
On3: 3-star, 87 grade, #79 DL
Rivals: 3-star, 5.6 grade, #35 DT
247 Sports: 3-star, 88 grade, #75 DL

Hit the jump for more.

Friday, December 8, 2023

2024 Scholarship Count


Braiden McGregor

Players are listed in order of remaining eligibility. With 105 scholarships allotted, Michigan is currently beyond its scholarship limit by 20. Meanwhile, 19 seniors are scheduled to graduate, so the 2024 class should have at least 19 players.


Hit the jump for the breakdown by class.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Way-Too-Early 2024 Depth Chart: December 2023


Colston Loveland (image via MLive)

The following depth chart has removed these listed players from the depth chart, even though some could return with a fifth year or COVID year exception:

  • QB Jack Tuttle (graduation)
  • RB Blake Corum (graduation)
  • WR Cornelius Johnson (graduation)
  • WR Roman Wilson (graduation)
  • OL Karsen Barnhart (graduation)
  • OL LaDarius Henderson (graduation)
  • OL Myles Hinton (graduation)
  • OL Trente Jones (graduation)
  • OL Trevor Keegan (graduation)
  • OL Drake Nugent (graduation)
  • OL Zak Zinter (graduation)
  • DT Cam Goode (graduation)
  • LB Michael Barrett (graduation)
  • LB/RB Kalel Mullings (graduation)
  • LB Joey Velazquez (graduation)
  • CB Mike Sainristil (graduation)
  • CB Josh Wallace (graduation)
  • S Quinten Johnson (graduation)
  • K James Turner (graduation)

It also assumes that every currently rostered player and every currently committed prospect will be here in 2024, which is obviously not true.

Hit the jump for the depth chart.

Monday, December 4, 2023

Quick Thoughts on the CFP


Jalen Milroe (image via San Diego Tribune)

Here are some quick-hitting thoughts on the College Football Playoff selection.

#1 Michigan: Personally, I don't necessarily believe Michigan is the best team in the country. I think there are a couple teams that would defeat Michigan 51% or more of the time. That doesn't mean Michigan can't win the national championship. It just means things will have to fall their way and/or they'll have to play up to their potential. But they had to be the choice for #1, because they have shown both a consistent offense and a consistent defense, along with solid special teams. Washington's defense has not been great, and both Texas and Alabama have had losses. Unfortunately, I think Alabama is one of the teams that I would choose to defeat Michigan at this point, and I would have had Georgia ahead of them, too. This is a tough matchup for the Wolverines.

#2 Washington: Washington has a questionable defense, but their offense has been explosive for most of the year. They average 7.23 yards/play and QB Michael Penix, who used to play at Indiana, has thrown for 4,218 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions this year. And RB Dillon Johnson has run for 1,113 yards and 14 touchdowns. Despite some struggles, winning the games is what matters, and they did that 13 times with zero losses. Their last four games have been one-score wins, including one against a 5-7 Washington State team.

#3 Texas: Texas has an all-around good football program with former 5-star QB Quinn Ewers at the helm. They also have two former Michigan commits in star WR Xavier Worthy and DE Ethan Burke, the latter of whom leads the squad with 5.5 sacks. Their one loss came against Oklahoma, and it was a 34-30 game. Oklahoma finished 10-2 and is ranked #12. The big win was against Alabama early in the season, a 34-24 victory when the Tide were trying to figure out their QB situation. Head coach Steve Sarkisian struggled in stints at Washington and USC, but he's a coach who worked with Nick Saban as a coordinator, which somehow propelled him to success at Texas. Sometimes spending a bit of time around Saban works magic for some guys, like it did with Jim McElwain, Kirby Smart, Lane Kiffin, and others.

#4 Alabama: First of all, Alabama shouldn't be in the CFP because they had a loss to Texas. Florida State went 13-0 in a Power Five conference and absolutely should have been the CFP committee's choice. The Seminoles should be #3 and Texas should be #4. Yes, Florida State QB Jordan Travis broke his leg and is out for the season, but the Seminoles continued to win without him. Winning the games should matter more than a popularity contest. But the CFP knows that a lot of people watch SEC football, and they don't want to piss off a moneymaking conference. It's a travesty that those players and coaches have to watch the CFP from afar. That being said . . . I would pick Alabama to beat Michigan, which sucks for the Wolverines. Michigan's offensive line has struggled this season, and its best lineman, Zak Zinter, is out for the year with a broken leg. Meanwhile, Alabama QB Jalen Milroe (10.4 yards/attempt, 23 passing TDs, 6 INTs, 12 rushing TDs) has taken a giant step forward since the beginning of the year. He can run and throw and presents a lot of issues for Michigan's defense. I'll be doing my research and watching more film over the next few weeks, but I do think 'Bama would beat Michigan more times than not.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Big Ten Championship Preview: Michigan vs. Iowa


Michigan is #53 in rushing offense (169.8 yards/game) and tied for #56 in yards per carry (4.44). Ohio State held up fairly well against the run last week, but they did allow a 22-yard touchdown run by Blake Corum immediately after Michigan starting RG Zak Zinter was lost for the season due to a broken leg. It may be interesting to see what Michigan does with the offensive line. Last week it was RT Karsen Barnhart sliding to right guard, with jumbo TE/extra OT Trente Jones sliding in at right tackle. But Michigan has some options with backup offensive guard Giovanni El-Hadi and former starter Myles Hinton, who was injured two weeks ago but may be available this week. The problem with inserting Jones at right tackle full-time is that it may eliminate Michigan's formations with that sixth offensive lineman. Iowa is #17 in rushing defense (105.6 yards allowed/game) and they give up just 3.09 yards per carry, which is #9 nationally. They have also allowed just 2 rushing touchdowns this season, which is #1. Senior LB Jay Higgins (6'2", 233 lbs.) has some ridiculous stats with 141 tackles, including a season-high 18 against Penn State in the Hawkeyes 31-0 loss. Fellow senior LB Nick Jackson (6'0", 237) has 91 stops of his own, followed by senior safety Quinn Schulte (6'2", 209) with 59. Senior DE Joe Evans (6'2", 252) leads the team with 9.5 tackles for loss, followed by Jackson's 8.0 and senior safety Sebastian Castro (5'11", 206) with 8.0. It's a very well coached defense, as always, and they've won 10 games despite a terrible offense.
Advantage: Iowa

Hit the jump for more.