The All-Hoke Team: Defense, Special Teams

Tag: Drew Dileo

6Dec 2014
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The All-Hoke Team: Defense, Special Teams

Jake Ryan (image via MGoBlog)

I posted the offense yesterday (LINK), so here are the defenders and specialists. Since Michigan ran a 4-3 Under for three of Hoke’s four years, I’m going with that look for my all-star team.

SDE: Ryan Van Bergen (2011)

45 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 3 fumble recoveries, 4 pass breakups
Van Bergen was a stalwart defensive end for Michigan as a senior, earning All-Big Ten Honorable Mention but helping the entire defense by getting consistent penetration and having a great game in the win against Ohio State.

NT: Ryan Glasgow (2014)
24 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
Glasgow made huge strides from his redshirt freshman to redshirt sophomore season, which propelled him past Quinton Washington for this spot. Glasgow was mostly able to hold his ground against double teams.

DT: Mike Martin (2011)
64 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks
Martin was named Second Team All-Big Ten for his performance in 2011, and he was consistently in the opponent’s backfield. Opposing centers couldn’t handle him one-on-one as a nose tackle, which allowed some young and/or mediocre linebackers behind him to make plays.

WDE: Frank Clark (2014)
42 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 2 pass breakups
I hesitated to put Clark on here because he was kicked off the team for an (alleged) domestic violence transgression. But just looking at the on-field results, Clark was a force. He achieved the above numbers in just ten games before being booted, and they would have been higher if Michigan’s coverage in the secondary hadn’t been so poor in the early part of the season.

Hit the jump for linebackers, defensive backs, and specialists.

SLB: Jake Ryan (2012)
88 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 3 pass breakups
Ryan was a huge playmaker for the Wolverines coming off the edge, and he had an ability to keep faster players from breaking contain. He was a capable pass rusher who sometimes played defensive end or blitzed from the interior of the defense.

MLB: Desmond Morgan (2012)
81 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, .5 sacks, 2 pass breakups
Pick any year from 2011 to 2013, and Morgan was basically the same guy in each. Other than a superb one-handed interception against UConn in 2013, I thought he peaked as a sophomore (he has one year remaining after redshirting this past season). Just a steady presence in the middle of the field.

WLB: Joe Bolden (2014)
102 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 pass breakup
This was a tough choice between Bolden and Kenny Demens, but I think Bolden has developed into a better tackler than Demens. Bolden looked a little out of place in his first two years, but he emerged as a junior under the tutelage of defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who took over the linebacker position.

CB: Blake Countess (2013)
46 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 6 interceptions (1 touchdown), and 4 pass breakups
Playing a lot of nickel corner in 2013, Countess was outstanding. He was named First Team All-Big Ten and tied for the conference lead in interceptions.

CB: Jourdan Lewis (2014)
39 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 6 pass breakups
Lewis got called for a few pass interference penalties, but he almost never got cleanly beaten by defenders. He was the only defensive back to record an interception in 2014, and his hustle plays against Utah and Maryland saved a couple potential touchdowns.

S: Thomas Gordon (2011)
67 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, 2 pass breakups
Surely it was a run of good luck, but Gordon was always around the ball as a redshirt sophomore in 2011. From his one-handed interception against Eastern Michigan to his four recoveries, he was a takeaway machine.

S: Jordan Kovacs (2011)
75 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 pass breakup
Kovacs was a revelation for Michigan fans who were used to predictable defense from 2008-2010. Often used as a blitzer, Kovacs would stunt off the edge and was very adept at keeping outside contain despite average speed.

PR: Jeremy Gallon (2011)
19 returns, 192 yards, 10.1 yards/return
In general, the returners were not good during Hoke’s tenure. Gallon was the only one able to manage over 10 yards/return, nobody returned a punt for a touchdown (blocked punts notwithstanding), and Hoke generally went for safety over big-play ability.

KR: Dennis Norfleet (2013)
40 kickoff returns, 938 yards, 23.5 yards/return
Norfleet is #1 all-time at Michigan in career returns (94) and return yardage (2,203). I thought his patience and vision were best in 2013, but all three seasons have seen him with between a 23.05 and 23.63 yard average with a long return of 38-44 yards, so his seasons are mostly indistinguishable from each other.

P: Will Hagerup (2012)
45.0 yards/punt, 3 inside the 20-yard line, 4 touchbacks, 4 fair catches, 13 punts of 50+ yards
It’s tough to pick a season for Hagerup. He was the Big Ten Punter of the Year in 2012, but the coaches in the conference voted him as Honorable Mention All-Big Ten. He showed a big leg, but he only pinned teams inside their own 20-yard line 3 times while having 4 touchbacks (by contrast, he landed 16 inside the 20-yard line in 2014 but also had 9 touchbacks while averaging 42.9 yards/attempt).

K: Brendan Gibbons (2012)
16/18 on field goals (88.9%) with a long of 52, 45/45 on extra points
Gibbons had some memorable kicks in each of his final three years, but he was clutch in 2012. He hit his career long of 52 against Nebraska, he knocked one through to send the Northwestern game to overtime, and he hit the game-winner against Michigan State.

LS: Jareth Glanda (2011)
1 catch for 11 yards
Glanda was only the short snapper (field goals, extra points) in 2011, leaving the long snapping duties (punts) to Tom Pomarico. But Pomarico never caught a pass like Glanda did in the Sugar Bowl. Neither one had a bad snap, and Glanda would go on to be the long snapper in 2012 and 2013, but I’m picking 2011 because it’s my blog, dammit.

H: Drew Dileo (2011 and 2013)
Once again, I’m breaking the rules because you can’t stop me. In 2011 Dileo converted three fake field goals – a 3-yard run against Michigan State, a 4-yard run against Nebraska, and a pass (which was tipped and ended up in the hands of Glanda). Then again, in 2013 he slid into the holding position for Brendan Gibbons’s game-tying field goal at the end of regulation, which helped turn a loss into an eventual victory.

19Feb 2014
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Drew Dileo, #9

Drew Dileo

Here’s my first ever post on Drew Dileo, a scouting report form March 2009.

A product of Greenwell Springs (LA) Parkview Baptist, a small private school, Dileo was a Rivals 3-star and the #73 athlete in the 2010 class. Also an accomplished baseball player, he did a little bit of everything – running, receiving, returning, playing cornerback, and throwing the ball on occasion. As a junior in 2008, he had 760 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns, 315 receiving yard and 4 touchdowns, and averaged 42.2 yards per kickoff return. He committed to Michigan at the end of April 2009 over offers from Stanford and Tulane.

If you’re like me, you wondered a little bit why Drew Dileo set foot on the field as a true freshman in 2010. He was not big and he was not fast (his reported 4.5 forty time was clearly a fib), but redshirt years don’t do much good for guys who aren’t going to grow or get much faster. Dileo was a holder, played some slot receiver, and returned some punts and kicks; it was his most productive year as a kick returner, when he averaged 21.6 yards/return. As a sophomore in 2011, he became the full-time holder and converted three fake field goals (against Michigan State, Nebraska, and Virginia Tech), the most spectacular of which was a prayer of a completion to long snapper Jareth Glanda in the Sugar Bowl against the Hokies. His receiving ticked up (9 catches, 121 yards, 2 touchdowns) a little bit, too. In his junior season of 2012, Dileo had his most productive season in terms of yardage when he caught 20 passes for 331 yards and 2 touchdowns, turning in big catches against Minnesota and Michigan State. For whatever reason, he became more of an afterthought as a senior (16 catches, 174 yards, 2 touchdowns) and had an uncharacteristic drop to seal a loss to Nebraska, but still managed to have some key receptions, such as touchdowns against Notre Dame and Ohio State.

46 catches, 629 receiving yards, 13.7 yards/catch, and 6 touchdowns
3 carries for 14 yards
1/1 passing for 11 yards
11 punt returns for 79 yards, 7.2 yards/return
17 kickoff returns for 336 yards, 19.8 yards/return

Dileo is one of those guys whom you wish could be re-signed as a free agent. He’s a utility man that just about any team could use in some capacity, but he’s not capable of being a spotlight guy. Without him Michigan has to face an immediate future without a sure-handed slot guy, without a sure-handed returner, and likely without a fake field goal threat from the holder position.

. . . the fake field goal pass to Jareth Glanda in the 2012 Sugar Bowl against Virginia Tech. That seems to sum up his career quite nicely, because it was Dileo finding a way to get the job done.

Dileo won’t be invited to the NFL Combine, and he won’t be drafted. I have a hard time believing he’ll even be signed as an undrafted free agent. His football career is likely over, and I imagine he’ll move on to the professional world.

27Dec 2013
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Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Preview: Special Teams

Kansas State returner Tramaine Thompson is dangerous with the ball in his hands.

Starters: The Wolverines are in pretty bad shape when it comes to special teams, but it could be worse. Fifth year senior placekicker Brendan Gibbons has been ruled out of the bowl game with a groin injury, and senior punter Will Hagerup has been suspended for the entire season, so all the kicking duties will be up to junior Matt Wile (6’2″, 216 lbs.). Wile is pretty experienced for being a backup punter and kicker, but when it comes to kicking field goals, he hasn’t been in many pressure situations. Wile is 1/3 on field goals this year, 5/5 on extra points, and averages 40.6 yards/punt. He’s been the kickoff guy all year and gets a 49.3% touchback rate. Sophomore Dennis Norfleet (5’7″, 169 lbs.) has 36 kickoff returns for 850 yards and a 23.6-yard average. Fifth year senior Jeremy Gallon (5’8″, 184 lbs.) and senior Drew Dileo (5’10”, 180 lbs.) have combined for 12 punt returns and 76 yards, so they’re not much of a threat.
Backups: Redshirt freshman Kenny Allen (6’3″, 226 lbs.) will be the backup kicker and punter, and he has 1 punt this year for 51 yards. Dileo has averaged 19.2 yards on 5 returns, and redshirt freshman Jehu Chesson (6’3″, 196 lbs.) has averaged 18 yards on 2 returns.

Starters: The Wildcats have two excellent returners. One is fifth year senior punt returner Tramaine Thompson (5’8″, 167 lbs.), who has averaged 20.2 yards/return this year with a long of 79 yards; teams respect him so much that they’ve only given him a chance to return 9 punts. Junior Tyler Lockett (5’11”, 175 lbs.) is the kick returner with a 25.5-yard average, and while he hasn’t yet returned a kickoff for a touchdown in 2013, he had 2 scores in each of the past two seasons. Redshirt junior Mark Krause (5’11”, 218 lbs.) averages 41.3 yards/punt and has landed 17 inside the 20-yard line. Redshirt sophomore Jack Cantele (6’0″, 193 lbs.) is 11/13 on field goals and 40/41 on extra points, but he was injured prior to KSU’s final regular season game and may not be back for the bowl game.
Backups: Thompson has returned 2 kickoffs this year, but one was for a 96-yard touchdown. Backup kicker Ian Patterson (5’11”, 233 lbs.), a redshirt freshman, is 2/3 on field goals and 8/8 on extra points; he has also taken over kickoff duties, where he has a touchback rate almost twice as high as Cantele’s.

The Wolverines haven’t been particularly strong on special teams under Brady Hoke, but they haven’t been terrible, either. They did block a punt and return it for a touchdown against Central Michigan, and the game-tying end-of-regulation field goal against Northwestern was the #4 play in the Big Ten this year, according to BTN Live. Unfortunately, battle-tested Brendan Gibbons is out, and Wile has been erratic as a kicker and as a punter. Michigan’s return games have been exciting but fruitless with Norfleet, Gallon, and Dileo. Meanwhile, Kansas State has a couple all-conference-caliber returners in Lockett and Thompson, and Cantele is a solid kicker if healthy. The Wolverines did allow a punt return touchdown to South Carolina’s Ace Sanders in last year’s bowl game, so they’ve been susceptible to special teams breakdowns at times. Wile might be able to negate Lockett’s return abilities because he’s pretty good at kicking touchbacks, and Michigan has some aggressive players on punt coverage, but overall, this is looking like an advantage for . . .

ADVANTAGE: Kansas State

20Dec 2013
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Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Preview: Receivers and Tight Ends

Tyler Lockett is the key to Kansas State’s passing game.

Starters: The diminutive fifth year senior Jeremy Gallon (5’8″, 184 lbs.) is the go-to guy, and he had an all-conference season with 80 catches, 1284 yards, and 9 touchdowns. He can be effective on just about any route – screens, hitches, square ins, fades, double moves, jump balls, etc. Aside from his lack of height (which he makes up for with his leaping ability and the timing of those leaps), he doesn’t have truly blazing speed, so he sometimes pulls away before getting tracked down in a foot race. The other starting wide receiver is sophomore Devin Funchess (6’5″, 235 lbs.), who made all-conference listed as a tight end but rarely plays it anymore; he has 47 catches for 727 yards and 6 scores. Funchess is Michigan’s bubble screen guy, leaps over tacklers sometimes, runs an occasional end around, and can beat teams deep. The de facto starting tight end is freshman Jake Butt (6’6″, 246 lbs.), who has come on late in the season to catch 17 balls for 203 yards and 2 touchdowns. Butt can do a little bit of everything between blocking, catching, and running.
Backups: Redshirt freshman Jehu Chesson (6’3″, 196 lbs.) started a little bit early in the year before Funchess’s blocking became too big of a problem at tight end, and while Chesson’s playing time has dropped a little bit, he’s actually improved his route running and ability to adjust to the ball in the air. He has 13 catches for 213 yards and 1 touchdown. Senior Drew Dileo (5’10”, 180 lbs.) is the only other significant receiving threat, but he’s a possession guy who usually works over the middle. Occasionally, senior Jeremy Jackson (6’3″, 209 lbs.) or redshirt senior Joe Reynolds (6’1″, 196 lbs.) will pop up for a catch, but they’ve totaled just 10 catches for 140 yards and 0 scores this year. Sophomore A.J. Williams (6’6″, 265 lbs.) and redshirt junior Jordan Paskorz (6’3″, 255 lbs.) are the “blocking” tight ends that struggle to block, and while they’ll be on the field a fair amount, they have just 1 total catch.

Starters: The clear leader of the receiving corps is junior Tyler Lockett (5’11”, 175 lbs.), who has 71 catches for 1,146 yards and 8 touchdowns on the season. Lockett has made a lot of big catches for the Wildcats and can be a real threat to the secondary on deep routes. Fifth year senior Tramaine Thompson (5’8″, 167 lbs.) is also a big-play guy from the slot with 28 catches for 495 yards (17.7 yards/catch) and 5 touchdowns. Junior Curry Sexton (5’11”, 183 lbs.) is the other receiver in K-State’s three-wide attack, and he’s been more of a possession guy with 36 catches for 409 yards. Redshirt junior tight end Zach Trujillo is rarely targeted, but he has 5 catches for 111 yards and 1 touchdown.
Backups: Senior Torell Miller (6’3″, 213 lbs.) is a former safety who was expected to start this year in place of Sexton, but he’s been relegated to backup duty and 11 catches, 106 yards, and 1 touchdown. Redshirt sophomore Kyle Klein (6’4″, 210 lbs.) is a former defensive end who has 5 catches for 59 yards on the season. Fifth year senior Andre McDonald (6’8″, 278 lbs.) is a mammoth blocking tight end who has just 2 catches for 19 yards this season. It’s a very thin group of receivers.

Michigan has two guys who can be consistent deep threats, and another who has the speed to do so. Gallon has been outstanding this year and was one of the top couple receivers in the conference, while Funchess is simply a matchup nightmare. The other guys aren’t very scary, but Chesson, Dileo, and Butt can all be good secondary targets and move the chains. Meanwhile, Kansas State has a guy who can blow up in the form of Lockett, plus a somewhat dangerous slot guy in Thompson. In a couple closely contested shootouts against Big 12 opponents, Lockett has gone over 230 yards (237 against Texas, 278 against Oklahoma), and he’s the guy that quarterbacks Jake Waters and Daniel Sams will look to if things get rough. If the Wildcats can move the ball consistently on the ground, they’ll settle for trying to win the game without putting the ball in the air too much. Tight ends have hurt Michigan in a few games this year (Minnesota’s Maxx Williams, Iowa’s C.J. Fiedorowicz, Ohio State’s Jeff Heuerman), but that shouldn’t be a persistent problem in this game. It’s a tall task to stop Lockett, but he’s the key to their passing game.


2Dec 2013
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Michigan vs. Ohio State Awards

Devin Funchess had 4 catches for 41 yards and 1 touchdown 

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Drew Dileo. I wish Dileo (5 catches, 60 yards, 1 touchdown) had another year left in him. I just think he’s one of the more dependable peripheral wide receivers at Michigan. He has had a couple balls go through his hands this year, but this passing offense goes a whole lot better when he’s in the game, as compared to . . . say . . . Jeremy Jackson.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . Power Al Borges. It’s crazy how Michigan’s offense started to get going a little bit once Borges realized that Michigan can’t overpower teams with a bunch of baby-faced offensive linemen and a 195 lb. tailback. He went from a power team with a finesse running back to a finesse team with power running backs, and now things seem to be clicking a little bit.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Ben Gedeon. Actually, I want James Ross to return to his WILL position as soon as possible, but Gedeon’s someone I’m looking forward to watching develop over the next couple years. The coaching staff has done a good job of identifying talent at the inside linebacker positions, and Gedeon (6 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack) has looked solid for a true freshman who got thrown into the fire due to injuries.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . Josh Furman. Furman (3 tackles, 1 pass breakup) gets lost out there. He was beaten for a 53-yard touchdown early, was slow to react in the running game, and took some bad angles. Hopefully Jarrod Wilson can return from his injury in time for the bowl game.

Play of the game . . . Devin Funchess’s bubble screen. In a play reminiscent of the Indiana game, Funchess took a bubble screen to the right, leaped over cornerback Doran Grant, and sprinted up the right sideline for 22 yards before getting pushed out of bounds. This isn’t anything new, but for a 6’5″, 235 lb. guy to make these kinds of plays is pretty amazing.

Player of the game . . . Devin Gardner. Gardner had his second-best game ever with a 32/45 effort that resulted in 451 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 9 carries for 10 yards and 1 touchdown. A chunk of that came with a bum ankle. That’s the most passing yards and touchdowns in the history of The Game. He looked beaten up for the past few games, but he looked rejuvenated in this one. Honorable mention goes to Jake Butt (5 catches, 85 yards, 1 touchdown) and Jeremy Gallon (9 catches, 175 yards, 1 touchdown).