Ex-Wolverine Updates: Coaches, Summer 2019

Tag: Doug Nussmeier

22Jul 2019
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Ex-Wolverine Updates: Coaches, Summer 2019

Brady Hoke (image via College Football Talk)

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I do Ex-Wolverine Updates throughout the season, but I generally don’t include former coaches. In this case I have listed every Michigan coach over the past twenty years that is still in the game (for example, I think Steve Szabo, Stan Parrish, Bobby Morrison, Greg Robinson, etc. are retired permanently). There’s no way to keep track of every former Michigan player toiling away as a high school assistant coach or D-III strength and conditioning guy, but if you have any additions to the list, please let me know. I’m sure I’ve missed a few guys who are coaching or graduate assistant-ing.

For more Ex-Wolverine news, check out these posts on transfers (LINK) and former commits (LINK).

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3May 2015
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Ex-Wolverine Updates

Josh Furman (right) became a seventh round draft pick at Oklahoma State

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The NFL Draft is over and guys are signing undrafted free agent contracts, so it’s time for another ex-Wolverine update. I’m also including the fates of a few coaches, in case you’re wondering what some of those guys up to these days.

Former offensive coordinator Al Borges: Borges has been hired as San Jose State’s offensive coordinator (LINK). He joins former Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, who is SJSU’s defensive coordinator.

Former offensive line coach Darrell Funk: Funk has been hired as Akron’s offensive line coach (LINK).

Former safety Josh Furman: Furman, who spent his fifth year senior season playing linebacker at Oklahoma State, was drafted in the seventh round by the Denver Broncos (LINK).

Hit the jump for more ex-Wolverines, including a list of the fates of all 27 players from the 2010 class.

Former offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier: Nussmeier is first-year coach Jim McElwain’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Florida (LINK).

Former running back Thomas Rawls: Rawls, who transferred to Central Michigan for his senior year, signed an undrafted free agent contract with the Seattle Seahawks (LINK).

Former linebackers/defensive line coach Mark Smith: Smith has been hired as Florida Tech’s defensive line coach (LINK).

Former safety Ray Vinopal: After spending his final four years at Pitt, Vinopal signed an undrafted free agent deal with the Dallas Cowboys (LINK).

Remember the monster 2010 recruiting class that saw the Wolverines sign 27 players? It has become notorious for how little was produced at Michigan, since the vast majority of players failed to qualify, quit, or transferred early in their careers. There are still some years left for them to prove themselves through pro tryouts and such, but with the NFL Draft completed and guys signing free agent contracts, here’s where things stand:

Richard Ash, DT: Played his fifth year at Western Michigan. Undrafted.

Courtney Avery, CB: Played four years at Michigan. Undrafted.

Jibreel Black, DE: Played four years at Michigan. Undrafted.

Cullen Christian, CB: Played one year at Michigan, three at Pitt, one at West Virginia. Undrafted.

Drew Dileo, WR: Played four years at Michigan. Undrafted.

Demar Dorsey, S: Did not qualify. Played at junior college.

Josh Furman, S: Played fifth year at Oklahoma State. Drafted in 7th round by Broncos.

Devin Gardner, QB: Played five years at Michigan. Signed as undrafted free agent by Patriots.

Will Hagerup, P: Played five years at Michigan. Undrafted.

Stephen Hopkins, RB: Played three years at Michigan. Quit football.

Jeremy Jackson, WR: Played four years at Michigan. Undrafted.

Carvin Johnson, S: Played one year at Michigan, three at Hampton. Undrafted.

Conelius Jones, QB/DB: Did not qualify.

Antonio Kinard, LB: Has not qualified. Played at junior college.

Ricardo Miller, WR: Played three years at Michigan, one year at UMass. Undrafted.

Christian Pace, C: Career ended early due to injury.

Jordan Paskorz, DE: Played four years at Michigan. Undrafted.

Jerald Robinson, WR: Played two years at Michigan, one in D-II. Undrafted.

Marvin Robinson, S: Played three years at Michigan, one in D-II. Signed as UDFA with Cowboys in 2014 but was released.

Davion Rogers, LB: Did not qualify. Played one season at Youngstown State. Undrafted.

Jake Ryan, LB: Played five years at Michigan. Drafted in 4th round by Packers.

Terrence Talbott, CB: Played two years at Michigan. Quit football.

Terry Talbott, DT: Played two years at Michigan. Quit football.

Ray Vinopal, S: Played one year at Michigan, four at Pitt. Signed as UDFA with Cowboys.

Austin White, RB: Played one year at Michigan, transferred to Central Michigan, got in legal trouble. Quit football.

Ken Wilkins, DE: Played four years at Michigan, one in D-II. Undrafted.

Adrian Witty, CB: Did not qualify immediately and signed with Cincinnati in 2011. Played four years at Cincinnati with a fifth coming up in 2015.

D.J. Williamson, WR: Played one year at Michigan. Quit football.

DNQ: (Dorsey, Jones, Kinard, Rogers, Witty) = 5
Quit or kicked off team: (Hopkins, Talbott, Talbott, White, Williamson) = 5
Played out eligibility: (Avery, Black, Dileo, Gardner, Hagerup, Jackson, Ryan) = 7
Left early for draft: 0
Transferred to other FBS schools: (Ash, Christian, Furman, Miller, Vinopal) = 5
Transferred to lower football divisions: 4 (Johnson, Robinson, Robinson, Wilkins) = 4
Career ended due to injury: (Pace) = 1

4Dec 2014
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Poll results: Which coach(es) should be retained beyond 2014?

Roy Manning (image via Maizeandbluenews.com)

Leading up to last week’s game against Ohio State, I asked a question about which coach(es) should be retained after the season. Voters were allowed to pick multiple answers. Here are the results:

Roy Manning (cornerbacks): 51%

Greg Mattison (defensive coordinator/linebackers): 49%

Doug Nussmeier (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks): 18%

Mark Smith (defensive line): 18%

Fred Jackson (running backs): 7%

Dan Ferrigno (tight ends): 5%

Curt Mallory (safeties): 4%

Jeff Hecklinski (wide receivers/recruiting coordinator): 3%

Darrell Funk (offensive line): 2%

Brady Hoke (head coach): 0% (1 vote)

No coaches should be retained: 18%

Hoke has been canned, and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison reportedly cleared out his desk upon learning the news. So the 49% of people who wanted him back will be disappointed, and the one lonely soul who wanted Hoke to return is drinking a beer by himself. The other staff members could possibly be interviewed and retained, but it’s unusual to keep on more than one or two guys from a previous regime.

5Oct 2014
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Rutgers 26, Michigan 24

Devin Gardner (image via Zimbio)

The referees were kind of terrible. The best (or worst) example of this was late in the fourth quarter. Michigan finally used a half-roll – which I’ve been calling for all year – to get quarterback Devin Gardner away from pressure, and he hit Amara Darboh near the sideline. Darboh took two steps  with the ball in his possession, turned forward to stretch the ball across the first down marker, dove, lost control of the ball just before he hit the ground, and the pass was called incomplete. A review didn’t come from the booth, so Michigan finally called a timeout. It was challenged, they went back to look at it, and the officials didn’t even say the play “stands” – they said the call was “confirmed.” Add to that a clear pass interference call they missed on a key third down when Jehu Chesson was hip-checked to the ground, plus a non-call against Jake Ryan, and a couple other iffy calls, and the refs were just bad. They were bad both ways, but at the most critical time, on a reviewable play, they botched the call terribly.

Jeremy Clark is not an answer. I’ve been wanting to say this for a few weeks, but for whatever reason, I’ve held off. Clark’s lack of field awareness has hurt Michigan numerous times this season, and this time he cost Michigan an 80-yard touchdown pass. I don’t really understand why the coaching staff makes him the deep safety because he’s not a guy who makes plays in space. I will grant that he has decent speed, but it doesn’t matter much if he’s often out of position. The more experienced player, Jarrod Wilson, should be back there. The plays Clark has made this year have been tackling in the run game and pass coverage in the flats. He has not made a single impressive play from the deep safety position. He takes poor angles, gets caught flat-footed, doesn’t properly recognize route combinations, etc. It’s extremely frustrating that the coaches appear not to have a better answer yet.

The presence of Devin Gardner infuriates me. Granted, he makes at least one bonehead play a week, but he should have been the starter last week against Minnesota in a winnable game. This week’s bad decision was a ball he lofted into the middle of the field with nobody but a Rutgers safety anywhere near the ball, except perhaps Devin Funchess, who was running up the left sideline. Otherwise, Gardner was 13/22 overall for 178 yards. His feet were a huge part of keeping drives alive and scoring touchdowns. The national leaders in sacks got him 3 times for -18 yards, but he ran 7 other times for 58 yards, including 2 touchdowns. He has enough arm strength to make all the throws in college, and he has some chemistry with a few Michigan receivers – Devin Funchess, Jake Butt, Amara Darboh, even Dennis Norfleet. Shane Morris, meanwhile, has yet to throw a touchdown pass and has shown no discernible chemistry with even a single receiver. I’m not saying that Michigan would have beaten the Gophers, but he would have given them a chance.

Don’t let other “analysts” fool you about Gardner’s abilities from under center. I have read numerous times that Gardner should not be taking snaps from under center, that Michigan’s waggle is a disaster waiting to happen, that playing from under center takes away his running ability, etc. All of that is bull. First of all, this is Doug Nussmeier’s offense. Just like Rich Rodriguez could not be expected to run a pro-style offense, we shouldn’t expect Nussmeier to run a shotgun-only offense with all kinds of power reads, inside zone reads, midline reads, etc. Second, Gardner on a waggle or bootleg generally puts him in space with a player who is physically overmatched. I don’t see how people watch things like Gardner’s two touchdown runs in this game, and then walk away concluding that Gardner can’t use his legs in this offense. People who say stuff like that are enamored with shotgun spread offenses, and in my opinion, their comments are being colored by an agenda rather than football knowledge.

Stop holding. I mean, come on, guys. Is this so difficult? Michigan took two holding penalties – by Mason Cole and Kyle Kalis – that put them behind the sticks. Why did they have to hold? They stopped moving their feet. If they keep moving their feet and working their hips around to the playside, then they wouldn’t have to grab jersey. The holding call on Kalis was especially egregious on his part. I would think the son of an NFL lineman would know better by now. I don’t know if it’s coaching, stupidity, laziness, or a combination of all those things. There aren’t many teams who can overcome 1st-and-20 or 2nd-and-20.

Has Michigan found a running game? It seemed like things started clicking in the fourth quarter, or maybe it was just Rutgers getting worn down. Either way, the Wolverines started having some consistent success in the running game, especially over the left side. Last week Derrick Green had a poor game, while De’Veon Smith had one good drive. This week it was Green’s turn. He carried 12 times for 74 yards (6.2 yards/carry), and while he left some yards on the field by getting ankle-tackled, it was a solid night for him overall. Michigan actually out-rushed Rutgers by a wide margin (158 to 74).

Play action passing game improvements. Michigan had some success with inside zone runs out of the shotgun, and that helped set up some play action. It seems like Michigan has honed its backfield action to include a more believable mesh between quarterback and running back. I think that paid some dividends tonight, and it should going forward as well. That’s a small detail, but I think it indicates some growth in the offense. Rutgers doesn’t have a great defense, but Michigan looked better than they did against Notre Dame, Utah, or Minnesota. I still have faith in offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier that he can improve this offense. Unfortunately, it appears he may not get a chance to see it all the way through with Brady Hoke likely getting fired by/at the end of the season.

Why was Rutgers able to pass the ball so well? Most importantly to answer this question, Michigan does not have a consistent pass rush. A few times on the evening, they quickly got in the backfield – a Frank Clark rush from middle linebacker, a Willie Henry dismantling of the offensive line, a TE stunt by Taco Charlton, etc. The problem is that when Michigan didn’t slice cleanly through the offensive line, they couldn’t disengage quickly enough to put pressure on Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova. It’s all or nothing. Meanwhile, Jeremy Clark is unfit to play his position, Delano Hill has been injured most of the season, and Jabrill Peppers has mostly been sidelined for one reason or another. Michigan is missing two of its five starters in the defensive backfield (Peppers, Hill), a third starter is very weak (Clark), and a lack of a pass rush hurts. You also have to tip your hat to Nova and company, who made some nice plays on the evening.

Can Michigan beat anyone left on the schedule? Yes. Penn State, Northwestern, and Maryland are all possibilities. I think Michigan State, Ohio State, and Indiana are all looking very unlikely. It’s obviously a steep uphill climb to reach bowl eligibility at 2-4.

21Sep 2014
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Utah 26, Michigan 10

This is a sad sight in so many ways.

Shane Morris is no better than Devin Gardner. There is a large contingent of fans who always think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. They clamored for Shane Morris, and they finally got him in the fourth quarter. What was the result? An interception, a fumble, and a sack. It’s the difference between a Ford Explorer and a Mercury Mountaineer. Until Michigan can establish a consistent running game, pressure will be on the quarterbacks. And if the Wolverines can’t find another solid receiving target outside of Devin Funchess, things are going to get even worse. When times get tough, the only thing Michigan does is script throws from Devin Gardner to Devin Funchess. Another receiver has to step up, the offensive line has to block better, and/or the running backs need to improve.

Willie Henry was your leading scorer. Michigan scored ten points altogether, with six coming on Henry’s awesome interception return for a short touchdown. I like that Michigan is scoring some non-offensive touchdowns (Ben Gedeon returned a blocked punt for a touchdown against Appalachian State, remember), but it’s sad that the defense scored more points than 4-star recruit Devin Gardner, Biletnikoff Award watch list receiver Devin Funchess, Rivals 5-star running back Derrick Green, and so on.

In some ways, Funchess hurt the team. The most glaring example of this was when Gardner threw a skinny post to Funchess in the second quarter. Perhaps because of a bum ankle or laziness or inexperience at playing the wide receiver position, Funchess threw one paw out to try to catch a slightly overthrown pass. He could have stuck out both hands, and some guys would have dove. Instead, the ball bounced up to safety Brian Blechen, who pulled it in for the interception (and a nice return, which was negated by a questionable block-in-the-back penalty). Less obviously, Gardner seems more democratic with the football when Funchess is not on the field. The favorite target becomes Amara Darboh, but Darboh’s not so overwhelmingly athletic that Gardner thinks he can beat triple coverage. With Funchess on the sideline, Gardner has to scan the whole field and will throw to Darboh, Jehu Chesson, Dennis Norfleet, Jake Butt, Khalid Hill, anyone. I’m not suggesting that the 6’5″, 230 lb. guy with the #1 jersey should stay off the field altogether, but his presence – especially when he’s limping – makes Michigan more of a one-dimensional team than they should be. That’s the coaches’ job to sort out.

The defense played great overall. Some people might point to the way-too-easy touchdown by Dres Anderson or the 67-yard screen pass to Bubba Poole as reasons that the defense underachieved in this one, but I don’t think that was the case at all. Sure, those were flubs, but those happen in every game. Anderson’s touchdown was a blown coverage, seemingly at the hands of sophomore safety Dymonte Thomas. The screen pass to Poole was a great call by Utah offensive coordinator Dave Christensen – and a terrible play by redshirt sophomore safety Jeremy Clark. Clark had no idea what to do and got caught up in the wash of a couple offensive linemen releasing downfield, rather than trying to get on top of Poole’s route to slow him down. Overall, though, Michigan held Utah to 286 total yards (6 more than they allowed to Notre Dame), one offensive touchdown, and 13 first downs. Utah averaged 2.2 yards/carry as a team, including just 3.7 yards/carry by the running backs. If you told me before the game that Michigan would hold Utah to just one offensive touchdown and four field goals, I would have taken it in a heartbeat.

Are injuries a problem? I feel like injuries are a problem. I know every team goes through injuries, but it seems that Michigan’s star player(s) get hurt every year. Devin Funchess got hurt in the second game and was still limping around in this one with an ankle injury that may linger for a while. Starting tight end Jake Butt is playing less than the ideal number of snaps because of his ACL recovery. Jabrill Peppers got hurt in week one, missed the Notre Dame game, and seemed to disappear for a stretch this game. Starting cornerback Raymon Taylor got hurt against the Fighting Irish and has yet to return. Both guys who were presumed to start at safety – Jarrod Wilson and Delano Hill – have missed extended time due to injuries. “Starting” linebacker Desmond Morgan has missed the last couple games, too. I would not say that the Wolverines have been devastated by injuries, but they aren’t at full speed, either.

Derrick Green, you are not Darren Sproles. You are a 220 lb. former high school offensive guard. Run like it. I like that you have learned to pick up your feet in traffic, and I like that you are improving your vision. What I do not like is you tiptoeing through a hole on a straight-ahead run, getting planted on your butt by cornerback Tevin Carter, or running out of bounds when you have the choice to truck a defensive back or two. They say discretion is the better part of valor, but they also say “More yards good, less yards bad.”

Derrick Green, you might be Darren Sproles. After years of eschewing passes to anyone other than Vincent Smith, the tailbacks finally got a chance to be involved in the passing game. Derrick Green had 2 catches – including a one-hander – for 26 yards, and Justice Hayes had 2 for 25. I don’t think Green has the ability to become the next Eric Metcalf or Larry Centers, but Doug Nussmeier showing a willingness to throw to the running backs might set up other plays in the future.

What’s Devin Gardner’s problem? If I knew how to fix Gardner, I wouldn’t be writing this here blog post. But as a blogger, it’s my job to pretend I know.

  1. Gardner has an inherent – or coached – fixation on whoever his favorite target is from year to year. In 2012 it was Jeremy Gallon. In 2013 it was Jeremy Gallon. This year it’s Funchess. Gardner locks onto his favorite receiver too quickly, and he throws to him even when he’s well covered. This results in some amazing catches that make us think Gardner, Gallon, and Funchess are awesome. It also leads to lots of interceptions.
  2. Gardner has played for two coordinators who don’t understand him. Both Nussmeier and Al Borges call too many play action waggles because they like to run the ball with lots of people stacked inside. Meanwhile, Gardner turns his back to the defense without having a good understanding of what’s going on behind him, and it cuts the field in half. He generally keeps the ball or dumps it over the head of the unfoolable outside contain man to a fullback or tight end in the flat. Michigan has I-formation or under center tendencies with a quarterback – in my opinion – who should be running a pro-style shotgun/pistol offense the majority of the time.
  3. Michigan has yet to develop a solid complementary receiver to Funchess. Darboh is not a great route runner. Jehu Chesson does not have great ball skills. Dennis Norfleet seems comfortable only on bubble screens and swing passes. Jake Butt has been hurt. In yesterday’s game, the big-play guy for Utah was Dres Anderson, but quarterback Travis Wilson was just as comfortable going to possession guy Kenneth Scott on any given play.
  4. The offensive line and defensive coordinators are in his head. Much like what we expected, the interior offensive line has improved its pass protection and blitz pickups, but the young/inexperienced offensive tackles are barely treading water. If any defensive coordinator fails to run an edge blitz on a critical down, it’s probably because he feels sorry for Ben Braden and Mason Cole. Gardner’s internal clock is screwed up because of it, so he spooks early.
How about a spread punt? No? Okay. We didn’t need to tackle that Kaelin Clay guy, anyway.

To all the people who looked sideways at me in Friday’s preview: thppppppppppppppbt. Some of you automatically assumed that Michigan would blow out Utah, and I have no idea why. Yes, their oodles of points in the first two games came against crappy opponents, but Michigan scored 52 and 34 points against crappy opponents. Utah has a solid blitzing defense and a capable, fast-paced offense. I think a lot of fans are falling prey to the whole “This is Michigan” mindset without looking at what’s happening between the lines.

Minnesota is a threat. Every team is a threat now. There are no “gimme” games on the schedule. Minnesota, Rutgers, Indiana, Northwestern, Maryland, they’re all capable of beating Michigan. If you are not absolutely terrible on defense, Michigan might not be able to get into the red zone. I do think things will improve because I believe in Doug Nussmeier, and Devin Gardner improved throughout the 2013 season as well. Like the Notre Dame game, Michigan outgained the opponent (308 to 286) but couldn’t find the consistency to put together a touchdown drive. At some point the plays will come together consistently enough to put offensive touchdowns on the board against decent teams, but if Brady Hoke wants to keep his job, it has to happen soon.