2017 Season Countdown: #33 Michael Wroblewski

2017 Season Countdown: #33 Michael Wroblewski


August 1, 2017

Michael Wroblewski (image via Detroit News)

Name: Michael Wroblewski
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 242 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) U of D Jesuit
Position: Linebacker
Class: Fifth year senior
Jersey number: #46
Last year: I did not rank Wroblewski. He played in nine games, making 4 tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss.
TTB Rating: N/A

Wroblewski was mostly an afterthought for me going into last season, with his biggest contribution being a slow-moving culprit on a few chunk plays in the 2016 spring game. Michigan moved him from a practice squad defensive end to what seemed like a practice squad-level inside linebacker. Things didn’t look promising, but he still made his way into several games and made a handful of tackles.

This spring the coaches insisted he had taken steps forward. According to Don Brown, Wroblewski knows the defense inside and out, and he can make the calls for the entire defense. Naturally, that translates to identifying opposing personnel and formations, as well as making quick reads. We saw some of that this spring when Wroblewski made some plays in the run game, but he’s more of a two-down MIKE linebacker with little upside. Michigan supposedly has a trustworthy trio of inside ‘backers with Wroblewski, Devin Bush, Jr., and Mike McCray II, but it would be ideal if one of three highly touted freshman linebackers stepped up to play more snaps. The question is whether they’re ready, but they still might benefit from having the senior leadership of Wroblewski (and McCray). It’s good to have an experienced, smart leader in the film room and on the practice field. I expect Wroblewski to play more than he did last year, but I also expect one of the freshmen to take more and more of his snaps as the season progresses.

Prediction: Backup MIKE linebacker

11 comments

  1. JC
    Comments: 313
    Joined: 8/17/2015
    JC
    Aug 02, 2017 at 8:30 AM

    Interesting take. Interesting spot.

    Normally I put a bit of stock in being a 5th year senior as your body is more physically developed, and you’ve been in the program for 5 years. But Harbaugh has only been here for 2, and Don Brown for 1.

    Robo is in the conversation because we don’t have a ton of depth at WILL or MIKE. For two inside linebacker spots we have:
    A) McCray – 5th year SR, solid player.
    B) Robo – 5th year SR.
    C) Wangler – RS JR. I went back and read your Wangler TTB countdown posts from this year, and both had excellent humor.
    D) Bush – SO. Screaming blitzing linebacker, I love the athleticism.
    E) Gil – SO. haven’t heard much.
    F) Mbem-Bosse – SO. haven’t heard much.
    G) 3 freshmen, one coming off an ACL injury, the other two are pretty solid. I have hopes Ross can come in like his brother and play at a high level early.

    6 non-freshmen options for two spots is not bad depth. But one is a walk-on, one is a RS junior who has yet to make any meaningful impact, 3 are true sophomores. Let’s hope McCray and Bush can stay healthy.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6285
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Aug 02, 2017 at 10:08 AM

      Interesting read of Bush as a “screaming blitzer”. Certainly he has blitzed, but I have been more impressed by his ability to read plays and navigate blockers than by athleticism. He appears to be something like what people though James Ross was going to become – smart, undersized, tough. Though hard to say for sure after 1 year.

      Michigan seems to be recruiting more traditional “WILL” types, betting that it can grow some of them into bigger MLBs. That seems wise.

  2. Lanknows
    Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 02, 2017 at 10:02 AM

    Interesting to see a philosophical difference at LB vs WR. At WR the freshman are assumed to be taking over. At LB the freshman are assumed to be a year away.

    Both position have 2 spots but need about 3 people who can be trusted. One of them (backup LB, slot WR) can come with some limitations but the starters should be able to do it all*

    LB starters are pretty set, but the 3rd guy (Wrobo) is walk-on who hasn’t played a meaningful down and seemed to “emerge” at a time when there weren’t many options. WR starters are less set (only Crawford looks close to locked in) but there’s 3 returning players who played meaningful roles last year (including McDoom at Perry).

    If you compare the veteran 3rd options with limited ceilings (Perry and Wrobo) it’s interesting to me that Wrobo is coming out ahead as more valuable.

    The justifications for this would appear to be that the freshman WRs early-enrolled and that Perry and McDoom don’t “count” as WR even though we’ve seen “slot” WR lineup inside and outside and successful slots migrate to fulltime “outside” WR.

    I’m not into buying heavily into spring hype or sketchy alignment-driven positional restrictions. I think McDoom and Perry are a helluva lot more important to this team than Wrobo. Moreover, Michigan likely “needs” about 5 WR to contribute – LB is more like 3. I think it’s pretty hard to make a case that the 3rd LB is more important than the 3rd WR given all of the above.

    Good story, good player, glad to have him with most of the returning LB depth seeming to be faltering. Like Perry he offers an excellent insurance policy if the young kids falter. Unlike Perry he’s an unproven walk-on who you’re going to worry about if he ends up starting.

    (LB: read plays, take on blocks, shed blocks, tackle, cover, WR: understand playcall/routes, run routes short and long, catch, block).

    • Avatar
      Comments: 71
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      umfarnn
      Aug 03, 2017 at 11:04 AM

      The reason may be that it’s easier to teach freshmen at WR a part of the playbook and expand it for them as the season goes on. On defense they have to react to what the other team does, so they need to have a lot more of the defense down. So it’s easier to work the WRs in slowly, knowing they have 10 plays down well and only call those when they are on the field. If you want to call a play they aren’t ready for, you just sub them out. For defense, you may not have the chance if the offense doesn’t sub and goes hurry-up.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6285
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Aug 03, 2017 at 1:00 PM

        Excellent point.

        Makes sense to me but we have a seen a lot of true freshman make significant impacts at LB. (Bush being the latest example.) The argument that freshman WRs don’t do much is overstated, but there is some reason for it. Anecdotal but not irrelevant to Michigan.

  3. GKblue
    Comments: 359
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    GKblue
    Aug 02, 2017 at 12:35 PM

    “According to Don Brown, Wroblewski knows the defense inside and out, and he can make the calls for the entire defense. Naturally, that translates to identifying opposing personnel and formations, as well as making quick reads.”

    This has to count for something while the youngsters get up to speed. Leadership in the defensive center will be important this year. Also, the LB position is generally more physical than WR and this should be considered in your side by side comparison.

    I also think we will hear Perry’s name as a possession receiver often this year.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6285
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Aug 02, 2017 at 12:49 PM

      I think this is a good point and don’t mean to undermine his value to the team as a leader and practice contributor. But will his on-field contributions matter? Bush and McCray will play almost all meaningful downs. If one of them goes down I would expect a freshman to come in, not Wrobo.

      This is admittedly speculative, but so is assuming that Martin/DPJ/Black will pass the older WRs.

      The veteran presence issue is also somewhat limited by the fact that Don Brown’s been on campus for only one season. Wrobo has an edge but we’re not talking PHD vs undergrad here.

  4. GKblue
    Comments: 359
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    GKblue
    Aug 02, 2017 at 3:58 PM

    If it be crunch time or late in the fourth quarter, if it be in practice or in the film room an older guy who can “see” the offensive formation or key personnel and their tendencies is a great benefit to players that have never competed at the speed or complexity of college ball.

    I really am not that concerned where Thunder has ranked him within reason. Bush is still young and McCray needs to stay healthy. If Wrobo gets on the field I sure hope he matters. I would prefer that at least one of the younger guys can’t be denied some prime time.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6285
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Aug 02, 2017 at 7:16 PM

      One of them – certainly. Two of them – very likely. But all 3 freshman avoiding meaningful snaps?

      Last year Gedeon, McCray, and Bush got every meaningful snap. It would probably take a serious injury to bring that number up to 4 guys. So the real question is who is #3.

      My guess is that one of our 3 very talented freshman will surge past Wrobo sooner rather than later, as Bush did last year. Wrobo is being treated like a proven veteran but that’s not the case. He’s a walk-on with no real experience. It’s great that Brown praised him for knowing what to do and where to be, but the context for that praise (spring practice) can’t be ignored.

      Talent will win out, it’s just a matter of when.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6285
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Aug 02, 2017 at 7:17 PM

        If a serious injury hits Bush or McCray and the freshman have all faltered I wouldn’t be surprised if Furbush got folded inside.

  5. Lanknows
    Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 03, 2017 at 1:32 PM

    We’ve got more days than players so I’m hoping the countdown two-a-days are coming soon.

    Great job Thunder, as always. I know it’s a busy time of year for coaches. Hopefully you’ve got most of these already mostly written.

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