Michigan head coach Brady Hoke seems to have a knack for suggesting there is a battle for a starting job at positions that likely already have the starters figured out. After trying to suggest there is a competition at quarterback this offseason, Hoke is also setting the tone for the defensive backs despite having a pair of players that combined for 10 interceptions last season. The message is clear though; there is room for improvement across the board in Ann Arbor.
Fall camps in college football should always be seen as an opportunity to take advantage of a clean slate across the roster, but Michigan has senior cornerbacks Raymon Taylor and junior Blake Countess the likely starters for the upcoming season, whether Hoke confirms that or not. Hoke sees these two players as leaders but goes on the record of saying “they’ve got to play every day.”
“I think Blake and Ray, they’re both older guys, who have played a lot,” Hoke said Friday, according to MLive.com. “Then you’ve got (sophomores) [Jourdan Lewis] and [Channing Stribling], guys who have done a nice job (developing). The leadership from Blake is going to be important, and from Raymon. But there’s also great competition. They’ve got to play every day. … They all know, they’d better have a day, every day.”
Why would Hoke shy away from just leaning on his upper classmen, including one earning first-team All-Big Ten honors last fall (Countess)? Simple. Michigan’s pass defense needs to improve and cut down on big plays by opposing offenses. Everybody on defense needs to step things up this season in order for Michigan to improve in the win total and Big Ten standings. If Michigan State has a no-fly zone in effect, all air traffic appears to be seeing clearer skies in Ann Arbor.
The Wolverines ranked seventh in the Big Ten in pass defense in 2013, the lowest conference ranking since Hoke was named head coach following the Rich Rodriguez era, which ended with Michigan ranked 11th (out of 11 teams at the time) in the Big Ten’s passing defense ranking. The 231 passing yards per game allowed last season by Michigan was the second highest total allowed dating back to 2007.
As for the quarterback situation, Hoke previously has said he plans to have a starter figured out early in camp. Spoiler alert: It will (most likely) be Devin Gardner.
With injuries decimating its own linebacking corps, Penn State may have caught a break on the other side of the ball.
With the Week 5 game against Minnesota still three days away, the Gophers have already announced that Tai’yon Devers has been ruled out against the Nittany Lions. Devers is dealing with an ankle injury that will sideline the freshman through at least this coming Saturday.
The defensive end currently leads the Gophers in sacks with three, including one in last week’s game against Colorado State. That one proved to be an absolute smothering of the Rams’ unfortunate quarterback.
In addition to the sacks, Devers also leads the Gophers with three forced fumbles in three games. According to head coach Tracy Claeys, Dever being more aware of his on-field surroundings could’ve allowed him to add to those totals this weekend.
From the St. Paul Pioneer-Press:
The Rams tried to cut Devers, who has wreaked havoc off the edge.
“He has to learn to protect himself,” Claeys said. “He’s going to see that a little more.”
One of the biggest open secrets in all of college football has been confirmed (?) by a person who purportedly had a front-row seat to the spectacle.
Shortly after Rich Rodriguez was fired following the 2010 season, Michigan put on the full-court press to land Les Miles as his replacement. It was known at the time that then-UM athletic director David Brandon and other school officials flew down to Baton Rouge to meet with Miles, who played his football for the Wolverines in the mid-seventies and was an assistant at his alma mater a decade later.
The open secret many still swear by? That on that trip south Brandon had offered the job, along with a significant raise to what he was making at LSU, to Miles, who ultimately decided to turn it down and stay with the Tigers.
During a radio interview Wednesday, Skip Bertman, LSU athletic director from 2001-2008, confirmed that version of events
“Les Miles turned that job down for more money at Michigan. He turned it down,” Bertman told the ESPN Radio affiliate in Baton Rouge. “He would never say that because he’s a very humble guy. But I was there; he turned it down.”
Renowned Michigan historian John Bacon, however, disputes not only the 2011 claim, but the 2007 claim by Kirk Herbstreit and one made in 2014 as well.
The football program hired Rodriguez in 2007 and Brady Hoke in 2011, then stuck with Hoke through a rough 2014 season that had Miles-to-Ann Arbor speculation flying yet again. Ultimately, though, the university finally landed its Michigan Man in Jim Harbaugh. I’m thinking that’s working out just fine for the program, regardless of how exactly things transpired with Miles in the past.
Tributes to Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler have seemingly been a weekly occurrence across college football the first four weeks of the season, and the players’ conference will get on board in Week 5.
A commemorative coin will be used to honor both Foltz and Sadler at all seven Big Ten games this weekend, the league announced Wednesday. As this is the first full weekend of conference action, the coins, with Foltz on one side and Sadler on the other, will be used for the coin flip prior to each league matchup.
The Cornhuskers have decided to use the coins for the remainder of the season.
Folks and Sadler were killed in a July car accident on their way home from a kick camp in Wisconsin. LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye was injured in the wreck, but is kicking this season for the Tigers and honoring both by wearing special cleats.
Below are the coins that will be used, courtesy of the Big Ten:
At least from Alabama’s side of it, the door’s not completely shut on Blake Barnett‘s future being in Tuscaloosa.
Earlier Wednesday, a report surfaced that Barnett had decided to leave the football program and transfer out. In meeting with the media a short time later, Nick Saban confirmed that Barnett had “expressed some concern about his future” at a meeting earlier in the day.
The head coach said he “didn’t know” when asked if Barnett, who lost the starting quarterback job to true freshman Jalen Hurts earlier this year, was still a part of the team, although he made it clear that the redshirt freshman was still welcome in the locker room if he changes his mind.
“Blake is a fine young man,” Saban said. “He’s done a great job with his program, and we’d love to see him be a part of the program in the future, but we also want him to do what’s best for him.”
Barnett, who started the opener against USC but held on to the job for just tw series, was a five-star 2015 recruit who 247Sports.com rated as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the country. The California high school product originally committed to Notre Dame in November of 2013 before decommitting from the Irish in June of the following year.