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.
And Cory Butler-Byrd‘s trek out of Kyle Whittingham‘s doghouse has officially commenced in earnest.
Monday, the Utah wide receiver pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal in connection to an incident last month in which he allegedly damaged police property. The criminal mischief charge will be dismissed if he, among other stipulations, stays clean for the next year.
Butler-Byrd had been indefinitely suspended from the program since the initial incident. Tuesday, the football program announced in a press release that “Whittingham has reinstated Cory Butler-Byrd to the team for practice and other team activities, effective immediately.” However, he remains indefinitely suspended from participating in games.
“There is no timetable for his potential return to competition and he will not be available to the media for comment this season,” the release added.
After transferring to the Utes from the junior college ranks, Butler-Byrd began his FBS career as a cornerback. He began the transition to receiver during the 2015 season, then exited spring practice this year as the starter as a slot receiver for the Utes.
Butler-Byrd started five games last season as a corner/receiver (three at CB, two at WR), intercepting three passes and catching one pass for a 54-yard touchdown. He also returned eight kicks for 233 yards and a touchdown.
Raymon Minor reverses transfer course, returns to Virginia Tech
In mid-August, Virginia Tech announced that Raymon Minor had decided to leave first-year head coach Justin Fuente‘s Hokies football program and transfer elsewhere. Exactly 11 days later?
Tuesday, Fuente confirmed that Minor has returned to the team and will play for the Hokies in 2016. The linebacker won’t be returning on scholarship; rather, he’ll continue his career in Blacksburg as a walk-on.
It’s not clear what the impetus was for Minor’s change of heart.
247Sports.com had Minor rated as a four-star prospect in the Class of 2014, with the recruiting website putting him as the No. 19 athlete in the country and the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Virginia. The only recruits rated higher than Minor in the Hokies’ class that year were safety Holland Fisher and running back Shai McKenzie.
After redshirting as a true freshman, Minor played in eight games last season.
PHOTOS: Nebraska unveils new chrome alternative uniforms
Personally, I think Nebraska’s plain, simple, traditional uniforms were among the best in all of sports but alas, I’m not the target audience. Nor have I been for 20-plus years.
Regardless, NU’s target audience is likely pleased this afternoon as the Cornhuskers, along with apparel supplier adidas, unveiled Tuesday what is being called Husker Chrome alternate uniforms. The release states that the new uniforms are “inspired by the city of Lincoln, Nebraska, also know as the “Star City,” and “blend crisp, modernized design with a tribute to Nebraska’s clean, classic signature look.”
Translation: “we’re hoping these appeal to recruits and current players as well as our extremely loyal and rabid fan base.”
The helmets, for what it’s worth, aren’t really that bad. At all. From the release:
As a tribute to the traditional aesthetic of the Cornhuskers football program, the helmet features a metallic red “N” logo on the sides and is accented with player numbers featured in metallic red and metallic chrome outlining on the back of the helmet, showcasing the Star City’s ability to shine.
The new uniforms, which you can see below, will make their debut for the Sept. 24 game against Northwestern in Lincoln.
Michigan K Andrew David apparently transferring to TCU
Based on a couple of social media developments, it appears that TCU is gaining a placekicker/punter while Michigan is losing one.
On his protected private Twitter account, erstwhile UM kicker Andrew David changed his profile description to read, in part, “Texas Christian University Football.” Additionally, someone who’s now apparently a former teammate of David’s took to Instagram to wish him well in his new home.
A photo posted by Jon Runyan Jr. (@jon_run1) on Aug 22, 2016 at 12:33pm PDT
Neither football program have confirmed David’s departure/addition.
David took a redshirt as a true freshman last season after being expected to be a significant contributor on special teams immediately. Kenny Allen returns as the Wolverines’ primary placekicker after connecting on 18-22 field goal attempts and all 46 PATs last season, while UM also signed Quinn “Sleepover” Nordin this recruiting cycle. Nordin was the No. 1 kicker in the Class of 2016, and also averaged over 40 yards a punt in high school.