Review of 2006 Recruiting: The Defensive Linemen

Tag: Adam Patterson

5Oct 2011
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Review of 2006 Recruiting: The Defensive Linemen

Brandon Graham turned out okay.

The Returning Players
Alan Branch, DT
Eugene Germany, DE
Will Johnson, DT
Pat Massey, DT
Will Paul, DT
Terrance Taylor, DT
Jeremy Van Alstyne, DE
Marques Walton, DT
Gabe Watson, DT
Lamarr Woodley, DE

The Recruits

Greg Banks
High school: Montbello High School in Denver, CO
Ratings: Rivals 3-star, #42 SDE; Scout 3-star, #40 DT
Other notable offers: Arizona State, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, UCLA, Washington
College: Michigan
Scoop: Banks chose Michigan over his home state school of Colorado in December 2005.  He redshirted as a freshman.  As a redshirt freshman in 2007, he played sparingly in eleven games and notched 7 tackles as a backup defensive end.  When Rich Rodriguez arrived in 2008, Banks’ production and playing time slipped to eight games, 6 tackles, and 1 tackle for loss.  He gain played in eleven games in 2009, notching 5 tackles and 1 tackle for loss as a backup defensive tackle.  In his fifth year, Banks earned a starting spot at defensive tackle and had decent production: 38 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 2 pass breakups.  He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.

John Ferrara
High school: Monsignor Farrell High School in Staten Island, NY
Ratings: Rivals 3-star, #46 SDE; Scout 3-star, #58 DE
Other notable offers: Michigan State, Mississippi, Northwestern, Penn State, Rutgers
College: Michigan
Scoop: Ferrara selected Michigan as soon as he was officially offered in October 2005, saying he knew from the first time he visited that he wanted to play in Ann Arbor.  As a mediocre talent, he redshirted as a freshman in 2006.  As a redshirt freshman in 2007, Ferrara played a significant amount as a reserve defensive tackle, making 2 tackles and 1 tackle for loss.  When offensive lineman Cory Zirbel had to prematurely end his career due to back trouble, a need for offensive linemen arose during August practice of 2008 and Ferrara became an offensive guard; he started five games at left guard and played decently.  However, in 2009 right tackle Steve Schilling moved to LG and Patrick Omameh emerged at RG, leaving Ferrara to start only one game (Eastern Michigan) while playing on special teams during the rest of the season.  Ferrara contributed on special teams in six games as a redshirt senior in 2010, missing several games due to injury.  He finished his career with 7 starts on offense, plus those 2 tackles and 1 tackle for loss from his redshirt freshman season.  Ferrara went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Brandon Graham
High school: Crockett High School in Detroit, MI
Ratings: Rivals 5-star, #1 ILB; Scout 5-star, #3 LB
Other notable offers: Penn State
College: Michigan
Scoop: Graham picked the Wolverines almost a year before National Signing Day and was told that he could potentially start at inside or outside linebacker in his first year.  Then he showed up overweight – even for a defensive end – and played some defensive tackle as a true freshman in 2006.  He had 3 tackles and half a sack during his freshman season.  By 2007 he turned into a part-time starter and made 25 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, and 1 pass breakup.  As a junior in 2008, Graham was a full-time starter who made 46 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 10 sacks; he was named as a Second Team All-Big Ten player and finished second in the NCAA in tackles for loss.  Continually improving, he was named a captain in 2009 and had 64 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recover, and 2 pass breakups; he was awarded Second Team All-American status and led the NCAA in tackles for loss, along with several other accolades.  Graham was selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft (#10 overall) by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Jason Kates
High school: Bishop McDevitt High school in Harrisburg, PA
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #20 DT; Scout 2-star DT
Other notable offers: Florida State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Penn State
College: Michigan
Scoop: Kates came out of high school with lots of offers, largely due to his size (6’2″, 324 lbs.).  He struggled with that weight for much of his career.  After redshirting as a freshman in 2006, he played sparingly in 2007, notching 1 assisted tackle against Purdue.  He left the team after the 2007 season and did not pursue football afterwards.

Adam Patterson
High school: Richland Northeast High School in Columbia, SC
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #7 DT; Scout 4-star, #22 DT
Other notable offers: Auburn, Penn State, South Carolina, Tennessee
College: Michigan
Scoop: Patterson committed to Michigan on the eve of signing day in 2006.  A highly touted prospect coming out of high school, he was a little bit undersized for the defensive tackle position (6’2″, 256 lbs.) and remained that way, playing both defensive end and tackle in his career.  He finished his career as a 276 lb. nose tackle.  As a true freshman in 2006, he made 2 tackles.  As a sophomore in 2007, he played consistently as a backup DE and made 4 tackles and 1 sack.  He played early in 2008, but ended up redshirting due to an injury.  Patterson posted only 1 tackle as a reserve defensive end in 2009 and ended his career as Mike Martin’s backup at nose tackle in 2010, notching 16 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 pass breakup on the season.  He finished his college career with 23 tackles, 2 sacks, and 1 pass breakup.  He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Marques Slocum
High school: West Catholic High School in Philadelphia, PA
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #1 DT; Scout 5-star, #5 DT
Other notable offers: LSU, Miami, Michigan State, Oklahoma
College: Michigan
Scoop: Slocum originally committed to Michigan as part of the 2005 class, but he spent a year at prep school before entering college in 2006.  He redshirted as a freshman in 2006 and then played occasionally in 2007.  Slocum finished the 2007 season with 8 total tackles and 1/2 a tackle for loss.  He left the program prior to the 2008 season and played football at Eastern Arizona for two seasons.  He went undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft but signed a free agent contract with the Washington Redskins, who promptly cut him.

Quinton Woods
High school: Southwestern Academy in Flint, MI
Ratings: Rivals 3-star, #44 SDE; Scout 2-star DE
Other notable offers: Iowa, Michigan State
College: Michigan Kansas
Scoop: Woods was an academic non-qualifier for Michigan and instead headed to Bakersfield Community College, where he recorded 80 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and 8 sacks as a sophomore.  He then transferred to Kansas, where he saw limited playing time over the next couple seasons.  He had 4 tackles in 2009 and another 13 in 2010.  Woods went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Neli A’Asa
High school: Big Rapids High School in Big Rapids, MI
Ratings: Rivals 3-star, #48 DT; Scout 3-star, #75 DT
Other notable offers: BYU, Michigan State
College: Utah
Scoop:  A’asa redshirted in 2006 as a freshman.  As a redshirt freshman in 2007, he played only special teams, where he a caught a 41-yard pass on a fake punt and made 3 tackles.  He switched to tight end in 2008 but was used only as a blocker and special teamer.  As a redshirt junior in 2009, A’asa was a backup offensive lineman but once again played only on special teams.  He moved back to defense for 2010 and totaled 8 tackles and 1.5 sacks.  He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Jason Adjepong (a.k.a. Jason Worilds)
High school: Carteret High School in Carteret, NJ
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #7 SDE; Scout 4-star, #8 DE
Other notable offers: Iowa, Ohio State
College: Virginia Tech
Scoop: Adjepong played as a freshman in 2006 but received a medical redshirt due to shoulder surgery; he totaled 4 tackles before season’s end.  He once again did not play in 2007.  As a redshirt sophomore in 2008, Adjepong made 62 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, and 8 sacks, along with forcing 2 fumbles.  His redshirt junior season in 2009 saw him end the season with 49 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble.  He left with a season of eligibility remaining and was selected in the 2nd round (#52 overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers to play outside linebacker.  As a rookie last season, he notched 17 tackles and 2 sacks as a backup.

Micah Johnson
High school: Fort Campbell High School in Fort Campbell, KY
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #2 SDE; Scout 5-star, #2 LB
Other notable offers: Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame, Tennessee
College: Kentucky
Scoop: Johnson made an immediate impact at Kentucky, starting two games as a freshman in 2006.  On the season he had 29 tackles, 1 pass breakup, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recover; he also scored a touchdown as a running back.  He was even better as a sophomore, when he totaled 58 tackles, 2 interceptions (1 for a touchdown), and 5 pass breakups.  As a junior in 2008, Johnson had 93 tackles despite missing a couple games due to injury.  In his senior season, Johnson made 105 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 4 pass breakups.  He went undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft and has bounced around the league between the Giants, Dolphins, and Chiefs; he has only 1 career tackle, for the Dolphins in 2010.

Dexter Larimore
High school: Merrillville High School in Merrillville, IN
Ratings: Rivals 3-star, #39 DT; Scout 3-star, #60 DT
Other notable offers: Illinois, Michigan State
College: Ohio State
Scoop: Larimore redshirted in 2006.  As a redshirt freshman in 2007, he had 16 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss.  In 2008 he started several games at defensive tackle, notching 15 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss.  He logged 20 tackles as a redshirt junior in 2009 but missed a few games due to injury.  As a fifth year senior in 2010, Larimore made 40 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks.  He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft before being signed as a rookie free agent by the New Orleans Saints, who cut him prior to the season.

Butch Lewis
High school: Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, CO
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #4 DT; Scout 4-star, #11 OT
Other notable offers: California, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Nebraska, Notre Dame
College: USC
Scoop: Lewis went to USC as a defensive tackle, but switched to offensive tackle in the middle of his freshman season in 2006, when he redshirted.  As a redshirt freshman in 2007, he started 3 games at offensive tackle and earned Second Team Freshman All-America honors.  He started 5 games in 2008 at offensive tackle, then 8 games at offensive guard in 2009, when he earned All-Pac 10 honorable mention.  He started 9 games at guard as a fifth year senior in 2010, but was benched for a stretch of games.  He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft but was signed as a rookie free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs, who cut him prior to the season.

McKenzie Mathews
High school: Christian Brothers High School in Syracuse, NY
Ratings: Rivals 3-star, #14 WDE; Scout 4-star, #27 DE
Other notable offers: Miami, North Carolina, Ohio State
College: Pitt
Scoop: Mathews had 10 tackles and 1/2 a tackle for loss as a freshman in 2006.  After his freshman season, he transferred to Bentley, where had 30 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks in 2007.  In his junior season of 2008, he had 42 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 4 quarterback hurries.  Mathews left Bentley prior to the 2009 season but was not drafted to the NFL.

John Paul
High school: Immokalee High School in Immokalee, FL
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #22 SDE; Scout 4-star, #20 DT
Other notable offers: Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Miami
College: N/A
Scoop: I can’t find any information on John Paul from once he graduated high school.  According to Rivals and Scout, he never signed a national letter of intent to play anywhere.  I’m assuming his football career never blossomed due to grades, injury, legal trouble, etc., but if anybody knows anything more, please let me know.

Corey Peters
High school: Central High School in Louisville, KY
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #24 DT; Scout 3-star, #54 DT
Other notable offers: Auburn, Clemson, Ohio State
College: Kentucky
Scoop: Peters started 2 games as a freshman, making 18 tackles and 1 sack.  He was named Kentucky’s most improved defensive player as a sophomore in 2007 when he made 43 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks.  He kept that production going in 2008, notching 36 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks.  Peters filled up the stat sheet as a senior in 2009 with 56 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 5 pass breakups, 6 quarterback hurries, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery.  Peters was selected in the 3rd round (#83 overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons.  He started 15 games for the Falcons in 2010, picking up 25 tackles and 1 sack.

Jason Pinkston
High school: Baldwin High School in Pittsburgh, PA
Ratings: Rivals 3-star, #46 DT; Scout 4-star, #25 DT
Other notable offers: Ohio State, West Virginia
College: Pitt
Scoop: Pinkston played defensive tackle in August of his first year, but by September 2006 he had switched to offensive tackle, where he played as a backup and special teamer in 7 games.  In 2007 he started the first 3 games at right tackle before he suffered a shoulder injury that ended his season.  As a redshirt sophomore in 2008, Pinkston started 12 games at right tackle.  He started all 13 games in 2009, earning All-Big East honors and being named Second Team All-American by some publications.  Once again in 2010, he was named All-Big East after starting all 13 games.  Pinkston was drafted in the 5th round (#150 overall) by the Cleveland Browns in the 2011 NFL Draft.


Biggest bust: The biggest bust for Michigan was Marques Slocum in a way, because Slocum never accomplished anything for the Wolverines.  But Slocum did actually turn into a decent player and got a whiff of the NFL after bouncing around a little bit.  Meanwhile, Adam Patterson was a unanimous 4-star recruit who never amounted to much of anything at Michigan.  Despite playing on a depleted defensive line at times, he played sparingly . . . and when he did, he played poorly.  Patterson was too slow to be a defensive end and too small to play defensive tackle, leaving him in No Man’s Land.  For a 4-star recruit to end his five-year career with 23 tackles and 2 sacks, it’s pretty disappointing.

Biggest miss: Jason Adjepong (Worilds) turned out to be the best player Michigan offered that Michigan didn’t get.  He had an excellent career at Virginia Tech and turned into a second-rounder.  While the Wolverines had Brandon Graham to play defensive end, they were lacking at outside linebacker/defensive end opposite him.  Worilds would have been an upgrade over players like Tim Jamison and Craig Roh, among others.

Best in class: I’ll do this in two parts, since there are two very different positions here: defensive tackle and defensive end.  The top defensive tackle in the 2006 class turned out to be Gerald McCoy, who went to Oklahoma.  McCoy was the #3 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after making 25 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, and 6 sacks as a redshirt junior in 2009.  He made 28 tackles, 3 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles as a rookie in 2010.  The top defensive end in the 2006 class turned out to be Brandon Graham (see above), who turned into the #10 overall pick in 2010; he has been limited due to a knee injury suffered partway through the 2010 season.

7Jul 2011
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2006 Offer Board

David Cone – Statesboro, GA (Michigan)
Mitch Mustain – Sprindale, AR (Arkansas)
Neil Caudle – Hoover, AL (Auburn)
Tim Tebow – Ponte Vedra Beach, FL (Florida)
Matthew Stafford – Dallas, TX (Georgia)
Pat Devlin – Exton, PA (Penn State)
Dexter Davidson – Coconut Creek, FL (Pittsburgh)
Nick Stephens – Flower Mound, TX (Tennessee)
Taylor Potts – Abilene, TX (Texas Tech)

Carlos Brown – Franklin, GA (Michigan)
Brandon Minor – Richmond, VA (Michigan)
Cameron Smith – Snellville, GA
Knowshon Moreno – Middletown, NJ (Georgia)
Aaron Gant – Orchard Lake, MI (Ohio State)
Chris Wells – Akron, OH (Ohio State)

Greg Mathews – Orlando, FL (Michigan)
Damian Williams – Springdale, AR (Arkansas)
Chris Slaughter – Fort Valley, GA (Auburn)
Percy Harvin – Virginia Beach, VA (Florida)
Tony Wilson – Daytona Beach, FL (Georgia)
Derrell Johnson – Youngstown, OH (Iowa)
Robby Parris – Cleveland, OH (Notre Dame)
Chris Bell – Norfolk, VA (Penn State)
David Ausberry – Lemoore, CA (USC)

Dedrick Epps – Richmond, VA (Miami)
Will Yeatman – San Diego, CA (Notre Dame)
Jake Ballard – Springboro, OH (Ohio State)
Andrew Quarless – Uniondale, NY (Penn State)
Nate Byham – Polk, PA (Pittsburgh)
Dorin Dickerson – Imperial, PA (Pittsburgh)

Perry Dorrestein – Plainfield, IL (Michigan)
Stephen Schilling – Bellevue, WA (Michigan)
Alex Stadler – Bealeton, VA (Alabama)
Jim Barrie – Tampa, FL (Florida)
Marcus Gilbert – Fort Lauderdale, FL (Florida)
Daron Rose – Tampa, FL (Florida State)
Bartley Webb – Springdale, AR (Notre Dame)
Connor Smith – Cincinnati, OH (Ohio State)
Sam Young – Fort Lauderdale, FL (USC)

Justin Boren – Pickerington, OH (Michigan)
Justin Anderson – Ocilla, GA (Georgia)
Joe Thomas – Parma, OH (Pittsburgh)


Greg Banks – Denver, CO (Michigan)
Brandon Graham – Detroit, MI (Michigan)
Adam Patterson – Columbia, SC (Michigan)
Quintin Woods – Flint, MI (Michigan)
John Paul – Immokalee, FL
Micah Johnson – Fort Campbell, KY (Kentucky)
McKenzie Matthews – Syracuse, NY (Pittsburgh)
Jason Adjepong – Carteret, NJ (Virginia Tech)

John Ferrara – Staten Island, NY (Michigan)
Jason Kates – Harrisburg, PA (Michigan)
Marques Slocum – New Berlin, NY (Michigan)
Corey Peters – Louisville, KY (Kentucky)
Dexter Larimore – Merrillville, IN (Ohio State)
Jason Pinkston – Pittsburgh, PA (Pittsburgh)
Butch Lewis – Aurora, CO (USC)
Neil A’asa – Big Rapids, MI (Utah)

Obi Ezeh – Grand Rapids, MI (Michigan)
Cobrani Mixon – Cincinnati, OH (Michigan)
Jonas Mouton – Venice, CA (Michigan)
Quintin Patilla – Flint, MI (Michigan)
Akeem Hebron – Gaithersburg, MD (Georgia)
Toryan Smith – Rome, GA (Notre Dame)
Thaddeus Gibson – Euclid, OH (Ohio State)
Michael Morgan – Dallas, TX (USC)
Joshua Tatum – Oakland, CA (USC)

Jai Eugene – Destrehan, LA (LSU)
Ken Tinney – New Berlin, NY (Michigan State)
Darrin Walls – Pittsburgh, PA (Notre Dame)

Steve Brown – Columbus, IN (Michigan)
Jamar Hornsby – Jacksonville, FL (Florida)
Myron Rolle – Princeton, NJ (Florida State)
Asher Allen – Tucker, GA (Georgia)
Reshad Jones – Atlanta, GA (Georgia)
Taylor Mays – Seattle, WA (USC)
Antwine Perez – Camden, NJ (USC)
Franchot Allen – New Berlin, NY (West Virginia)

Bryan Wright – Salem, OH (Michigan)

8Mar 2011
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Nike Coach of the Year Clinic: Day 2

Tom Williams, Yale’s head football coach

Friday morning we woke up and ate donuts at the clinic.  If you didn’t know before, it’s tough to be healthy when you’re a football coach.  It was beer and pizza on Thursday, donuts on Friday.

The first session I attended was that of Sean Connors, the quarterbacks coach at Diablo Valley College in California.  Connors talked about the pistol offense and, more specifically, the option route.  DVC is a junior college with an explosive offense, and the offense is predicated on the option route.  If I remember correctly, he said that they run some form of the option route on 52% of their plays.

If you’re wondering, the option route is a play where the slot receiver on either side makes a read at the beginning of his route, deciding whether to run an in route or an out route.  The slot receiver tries to get open at six yards (no matter which side he chooses).  The outside receiver on the slot’s side must get an outside release and create a deep threat downfield, which hopefully takes the cornerback and/or safety out of the equation.  The deep route is obviously a lower percentage pass, but it often comes open because safeties jump the 6-yard route.  On the opposite side, the slot receiver and wideout run a “high-low stretch” in which one stays short and the other goes long.  It’s not a difficult concept, but it seems like it could be effective with the right personnel.  As a junior college, DVC doesn’t get many players who stick around very long, so Connors said that his players can learn it pretty quickly.  I’d say it’s working, because I think they averaged 41.3 points per game last year.

The second presentation I attended was Tom Williams, the head coach of Yale.  Williams is not exactly what you might expect from an Ivy League head coach.  He’s loud and boisterous and a little rough around the edges, but he was very entertaining.  I could see why players would want to play for him.  He grew up in Forth Worth, TX, and played for both Jack Elway and Bill Walsh at Stanford.  He ended up playing a little special teams in the NFL, but ended up coaching shortly thereafter.

Before Williams really started talking about himself, he gave us a history lesson on Yale football.  He said that Yale was the first college football team to reach 800 wins.  And then the conversation detoured into territory that’s close to my heart.  He put up a chart of the teams with the most wins in college football.  It went like this:

1. Michigan – 883
2. Yale – 865

He said, “I kinda hoped Rich Rod would stick around a little bit longer.  He’s a good guy, though.  But Brady Hoke is coming back and gonna bring some tough, hard-nosed, I-formation football.”

I don’t know if Williams has some sort of connection to Michigan, but the talk about the Wolverines didn’t stop there.  As the head coach and assistant special teams coach, he talked about how he teaches players to avoid blocks on kickoffs.  And regarding avoiding blocks, he said, “Bo Schembechler used to say ‘The issue is the ball.’  Too many guys spend too much time figuring out how to get past blockers.  ‘The issue is the ball.'”  He repeated that theme several more times.  Williams had several interesting drills and techniques to share, but I don’t imagine too many of you are interested in reading about his kickoff drills.

He did, however, reveal the results of an interesting study.  When he was an assistant coach with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, he went back and studied film of all their games.  What he wanted to find out was, How important is tackling form?  He found a couple of interesting statistics:

  • 76% of encounters that involve a tackler making body-to-body contact (in other words, not “arm tackling” but actually having a collision between both torsos) result in tackles
  • 70% of encounters that fail to make body-to-body contact (in other words, “arm tackles”) result in missed tackles
Williams had a lot of energy and had film of himself sprinting downfield with his charges on kickoff practice.  I thoroughly enjoyed his presentation.
Later, I attended the session by Mike McQueary, the wide receivers coach (and former quarterback) for Penn State.  He was five or ten minutes late because he went to the wrong Holiday Inn first.  Oops.  He shared some insights and film on running screens and draws, but nothing that groundbreaking.  I attended the Penn State coaches clinic in 2009 and saw some of the same information about wide receivers that he shared during the second half of his session, so I went to eat lunch instead.
The same afternoon I went to the session of Todd Bradford, who is the new defensive coordinator at Maryland under Randy Edsall.  Bradford came from Southern Mississippi this offseason, but he has quite a resume for a little known coordinator.  He spent time at Eastern Michigan (where his defense broke a bunch of team records) and Wisconsin (where he coached first rounder Jamar Fletcher), among others.  He runs something like a 4-3 Under defense, but it’s extremely complicated.  Whereas Sean Connors, the QB coach at Diablo Valley College, used the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid), Bradford’s defense seemed to be extremely complicated.  I think it was partially due to his use of jargon, but several coaches that I talked to were confused by some of his terminology and schemes.  For example, he would use the phrase “Sam” and “Star” almost interchangeably, and it was unclear if it was something like Greg Robinson’s Sam/Spur position. Eventually, I think I determined that the Star referred to the slot corner that would come into the game in passing situations, but I’m not positive.
Anyway, Bradford had a very interesting approach to defense.  He would have his boundary safety (the one to the short side of the field) making adjustment calls literally right up to the snap.  But the boundary safety doesn’t communicate to the corners or linebackers – he talks to the defensive linemen.  Let’s say the 3-tech defensive tackle has B-gap responsibility and the 5-tech defensive end has C-gap control.  If those defensive linemen take their first step and realize that the offensive linemen are trying to reach them (i.e. step outside the defenders to seal the edge), a certain call will tell the 3-tech and the 5-tech to take the gap to the inside so the boundary safety will then have outside contain.
In other words, pre-snap the safety could have A-gap, the DT could have B-gap, and the DE could have C-gap.  But if the safety sees something he doesn’t like, he could make a signal for the DT to take A-gap, the DE to take B-gap, and then for himself to take that outside gap.  But it all hinges on those defensive linemen immediately reading the block in front of them.  
Like I said, it sounds extremely complicated.  Maybe that’s one reason why Southern Mississippi finished with the #13 rushing defense in the country in 2010.
Yes, I know all kinds of people, and I’m not afraid to say it.
The final speaker of the evening was Kirk Ferentz, Iowa’s head coach.  He was both the coach I was most looking forward to seeing . . . and the most disappointing speaker.  Maybe he’s genuinely just a very friendly and engaging guy, but if he’s not a “name dropper” then I don’t know who is.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great quality that he can remember the name of a mother of one of his players back in 1988.  Names are difficult to remember, and it shows that he probably listens to people when they talk.  
But when you’re sitting in front of a few hundred coaches in Podunk, Pennsylvania, and naming little known players and their mothers from Podunk, Iowa, or Podunk, New Hampshire, then it just seems a little forced.  
He did tell an excellent story about some woman’s outstanding recipe for stuffed red bell peppers, so there’s that.
Most of Ferentz’s talk was about the offensive line, which is no surprise, since that’s the position he’s known for developing most.  He talked very little about technique, but showed a lot of film.  Much of the film was looking at drills, but there was a decent amount of game film, too.  Every time a clip of Iowa vs. Michigan would pop up on the screen, my co-workers would look at me consolingly.  We all knew that somebody was about to get crushed, and sure enough, there goes Adam Patterson being pushed from his nose tackle position about eight yards downfield and almost to the sideline.  There goes Jonas Mouton getting swallowed by a guard.  There goes the entire right side of the defense just getting obliterated.  It was sad.
Anyway, it’s pretty amazing to hear him talk about where he finds his offensive linemen, because those kids are often virtual nobodies coming out of high school.  Michigan fans make a big deal about getting 4- and 5-star recruits, but Ferentz turned two walk-ons – from the same high school, no less! – and turned them into Big Ten starters on a solid team.  
Ferentz is also one of those guys who ends his talk about 18 times.  “I just want to finish with a couple things” turns into “Before I finish, I just want to say” turns into “There are a couple things I want to leave you with” turns into “And as a side note” turns into “Two things I’d like to share with you are” turns into me wanting to fall asleep.  I’m not sure if I would have stayed awake for the entire thing, except for the fact that I was wondering if he would mention anything about Michigan.
He didn’t.
When he was finished, everyone – including Ferentz – went to a separate banquet room, sat around, and drank beer.  I sat nowhere near him, but he was there well past midnight.
20Oct 2010
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Michigan vs. Iowa Awards

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Tate Forcier.  I’m not advocating for Forcier to be the starter or take away Denard Robinson’s playing time.  Robinson has been excellent for the most part.  But this issue popped up in the Michigan State loss, and again this week against Iowa: Forcier is the better overall passer.  If and when Michigan is down by a few scores late, I think Forcier offers a better chance of leading a comeback via the pass.  He’s better at reading defenses and understands the passing concepts better.  And to be completely honest, he looks more comfortable dropping back to pass than Robinson.  Forcier is like a solid long reliever.  If the starter isn’t getting it done, #5 might be able to give you a few innings of good pitching and a chance to get back in it.  The Wolverines only had 7 points up until the point in the middle of the third quarter when Robinson got hurt.  In about 1.5 quarters, the Forcier-led Michigan squad put up 21 points (1 rushing TD by Stephen Hopkins, 1 passing TD from Forcier to Junior Hemingway, and 1 rushing TD by Forcier himself).

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . Vincent Smith.  Please.  He averaged 3.9 yards a carry and had a key fumble on Iowa’s 14-yard line.  There are better options, and Smith can see some time in passing situations or at slot receiver.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Kenny Demens.  Demens seems to be an upgrade at the middle linebacker position, at least against a power running team like Iowa.  He plays downhill more than Ezeh and offers more pop.  At this point in the season, Michigan is #82 in scoring defense and #105 in total defense.  Any change at all just might be worth it.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . Adam Patterson.  It’s not because I have anything against Patterson himself.  It’s just that Mike Martin, the starting nose tackle, is perhaps the most valuable player on the defense right now.  Michigan’s pass rush was virtually non-existent in the Iowa game, and the penetration up the middle that has at least slowed down running games this season was absent with Martin out of the game.  Hopefully the ankle injury caused by MSU’s illegal chop block will heal quickly, because Patterson isn’t a nose tackle.  I’m not quite sure why the coaches wouldn’t put Renaldo Sagesse at NT instead of Patterson, but regardless, a 275 lb. nose tackle is begging for trouble.

MVP of the Iowa game . . . Tate Forcier.  He gave Michigan a spark when they needed it most.  He still showed some of the poor ballhandling and decision-making immaturity that he had last year, but he still finished 17/26 for 239 yards and 2 touchdowns (1 rushing, 1 passing) and led another scoring drive.  He needs to tuck the ball away when scrambling and make better decisions throwing the ball, but 21 points in 1.5 quarters is pretty productive.

18Jul 2010
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2010 Countdown: #47 Adam Patterson

Name: Adam Patterson
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 272 lbs.
High school: Richland Northeast High School in Columbia, SC
Position: Nose tackle/defensive end
Class: Redshirt senior
Jersey number: #99
Last year: I ranked Patterson #35. He made 1 tackle.

That #35 ranking seems just a bit overzealous in retrospect. Who am I kidding? That was probably the biggest miss of the entire countdown. Patterson was a highly recruited kid coming out of school (top 100, I swear!), but he hasn’t been able to translate that potential to college success. I didn’t pay a ton of attention to recruiting when Patterson came out of high school in 2006, but looking back at his high school highlights, those rankings had nothing to do with his football talents – they looked at his speed (4.64 in the forty) and size (6’3″, 256 lbs.) and just assumed he’d be a good football player. He had no technique whatsoever.

Last year I just had the crazy idea that a top-100 player at a position (defensive end) of zero depth could beat out a walk-on like Will Heininger. Heininger got a lot of run and made 10 tackles and half a sack. Patterson made one tackle. In three years, Patterson has produced 8 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble. At least temporarily, Patterson has been bumped to nose tackle, but that might only have been because Mike Martin missed spring practice with an injury. At 272 lbs. and with the aforementioned lack of technique, I doubt Patterson is much of a threat to play at nose tackle, although the coaches did praise his quickness. With Ryan Van Bergen moving to defensive end and Anthony Lalota coming off his redshirt, those two will likely hold down the fort at end. Patterson looks to be a man caught in No Man’s Land. Hopefully he can contribute more in 2010 and his versatility is a positive, but he’s no better than third string at either position.

Prediction for 2010: Backup defensive lineman; 2 tackles