2018 Season Countdown: #39 Ben VanSumeren

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19Jul 2018
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2018 Season Countdown: #39 Ben VanSumeren

Ben VanSumeren (image via MLive)

Name: Ben VanSumeren
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 232 lbs.
High school: Essexville (MI) Garber
Position: Fullback
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Last year: VanSumeren was a senior in high school (LINK). He was 11/25 passes for 249 yards, 3 TDs, and 2 INTs. He caught 85 passes for 1,259 yards and 13 TDs. He ran the ball 54 times for 387 yards and 6 touchdowns. And he made 43 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 1 sack.
TTB Rating: 78

That summary after “last year” is called filling up the stat sheet, my friends. VanSumeren did a little bit of everything for his high school team, and sometimes that’s what it looks like when you have a big-time football recruit playing at a small school. Talent gap aside, it’s amazing that he just touched the ball so much, especially when 85 of those touches came on receptions. It’s not too hard to get a running back 150+ touches a year, but when a guy is lining up at receiver most of the time, that’s impressive.

I kept holding off on VanSumeren when I was making this list. I thought about him in the 60s. Then I thought about him in the 50s. Still not high enough. Then I thought about him in the 40s. And I finally thought it appropriate to place him at #39. Michigan lost co-starting fullbacks Khalid Hill and Henry Poggi, leaving behind sophomore Ben Mason and position-switching fifth-year senior Jared Wangler, plus a few walk-ons. On top of that, Mason is coming off a knee issue and might take some snaps at linebacker. With as much as Hill and Poggi played over the past two seasons, I think Mason and VanSumeren will be those two guys this year. Michigan might go with a few less fullback sets due to having Shea Patterson at quarterback and wanting to spread the field, but I still think Jim Harbaugh and Pep Hamilton are going to stick to their roots.

Prediction: Backup fullback

18Jul 2018
Blog, homepage 1 comment

2018 Season Countdown: #40 Joshua Uche

Josh Uche is changing from #35 to #6 (image via MWolverine)

Name: Joshua Uche
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 226 lbs.
High school: Miami (FL) Columbus
Position: Linebacker
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #35 #6
Last year: I ranked Uche #51 and said he would be a backup SAM linebacker (LINK). He made 3 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 sack.
TTB Rating: 82

Uche has the unfortunate luck of being a little bit of an odd fit in Michigan’s defense. Last year I thought he would be a backup SAM linebacker when Michigan went to heavier fronts, but it turned out that Michigan mostly just kept Khaleke Hudson in there at Viper most of the time. Uche is more of a pass rush specialist, but you don’t always need pass rush “specialists” when your regular defense is getting home with blitzes and excellent play from the defensive line. Furthermore, Michigan had Noah Furbush to come in as a part-time pass rusher and blitzer, and Furbush did a good job as a sub package guy.

Khaleke Hudson returns this year at Viper, and once again, Furbush remains present as a sub package player. Michigan wants to get Uche on the field, so he’s playing some at WILL linebacker. He’s battling Devin Gil, Josh Ross, and others, and I think Uche will lose the battle to be the starter. However, defensive coordinator Don Brown has mentioned that they have certain packages designed with Uche in mind, and he can be a rusher like Furbush. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing some third down packages with both Uche and Furbush on the field; since Michigan can lock up on the back end, those are some dangerous guys to send on a blitz package.

Prediction: Backup linebacker, special teamer

18Jul 2018
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Snapshots: Inside Zone RPO

 

I have a wee bit of time and an inkling to do an X’s and O’s post, which I rarely find the time to do. So let’s enjoy it while we can.

The hot thing in college football the past few years has been the RPO (a.k.a. Run-Pass Option), a different take on the old double or triple options that have been run for years. RPOs aren’t new to football, but they did disappear from the mainstream for a little while, and the new-ish emphasis on passing the ball has opened things up for offenses. The RPO discussion really ramped up during the Philadelphia Eagles’ run to the Super Bowl championship in the 2017-2018 season, because the Eagles run a fair number of them.

Hit the jump for more on Shea Patterson and RPOs.

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