2010 Countdown: #10 Jonas Mouton

Tag: Jonas Mouton

24Aug 2010
Uncategorized 4 comments

2010 Countdown: #10 Jonas Mouton

Name: Jonas Mouton
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 240 lbs.
High school: Venice High School in Los Angeles, CA
Position: Weakside linebacker
Class: Redshirt senior
Jersey number: #8
Last year: I ranked Mouton #24 and said he had the ability to be an all-conference player. He had 66 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, and 4 pass breakups.

Mouton was a safety early in his career, but most educated observers assumed he would quickly outgrow the position. That happened almost immediately, as Mouton became a weakside linebacker during his true freshman season. He played sparingly as a redshirt freshman in 2007 and then exploded in 2008, when he was the second-leading tackler (76) on the team. However, he took a step backward in 2009. He’s one of those players who always seems to have a nagging injury, and a hand injury hampered him as a redshirt junior. That shouldn’t have affected his ability to diagnose plays, though, which has been a problem at times. Mouton frustrated Michigan fans repeatedly last season, along with his fellow inside linebacker Obi Ezeh.

In more positive news, old linebackers coach Jay Hopson has departed (now the Memphis Tigers defensive coordinator), perhaps after being urged by head coach Rich Rodriguez. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the only coach to depart happened to head up the most disappointing unit in 2009. Coaching the position now is none other than defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, who made a perennial goat, safety-turned-linebacker Steve Brown, into the team’s leading tackler and a 7th round draft pick; Robinson also coached freshman DE/OLB Craig Roh into a solid true freshman season, accruing 37 tackles and 2 sacks. Michigan fans are hoping that Robinson can work his magic on the inside linebackers this year, turning an underperforming unit into the solid crew that two fifth-year seniors with 53 combined starts should provide. I’m optimistic about what he can do with the entire unit, but Mouton is especially important because the depth behind him is skimpy.

Prediction for 2010: 90 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions

Ryan Van Bergen was the leading vote-getter for the #10 slot with 32% of the vote. Mouton was second with 23%.

2Jul 2010
Uncategorized no comments

2010 Countdown: #65 Isaiah Bell

Name: Isaiah Bell
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 237 lbs.
High school: Liberty High School in Youngstown, OH
Position: Middle linebacker
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #26
Last year: I ranked him #75 and said he would redshirt. Bell redshirted.

Bell is in his second year of the program and making an adjustment from playing high school safety to playing college inside linebacker. Up to this point, he hasn’t really made his mark on the team. Obi Ezeh and Jonas Mouton are the presumed starters at the inside linebacker positions, and J.B. Fitzgerald, Kenny Demens, and Mike Jones are scheduled to be the first ones off the bench.

I’m a little surprised that Bell was bumped to inside linebacker rather than Steve Brown’s hybrid role, but at 237 lbs., Bell has put on enough weight that the hybrid position would no longer be an option. In the pictures I have seen, Bell still looks a little bit soft, so I think he’s still got some work to do with his conditioning and nutrition habits. But I stand by my assessment from last year that Bell will be a good player in college – it just won’t be this year. Bell could be a contributor on special teams this year, and we might also see him at linebacker against teams like UMass or Bowling Green. Otherwise, I don’t expect to see #26 on the field much this year.

Prediction for 2010: Special teams action; limited linebacker reps

16Mar 2010
Uncategorized 2 comments

2010 Recruiting Grades: Linebacker

The realization that Michigan could be headed toward a 4-2-5 defense in 2010 makes the recent class’s linebacker recruiting a little murky. The Wolverines desperately needed some linebackers in the class, but largely failed to get what Michigan fans – and anlaysts – wanted to see from Rich Rodriguez. Presumably, Michigan’s two starting inside linebackers will graduate after 2010 (Obi Ezeh and Jonas Mouton), leaving only J.B. Fitzgerald, Kenny Demens, Isaiah Bell, and Mike Jones to play those two spots; only Fitzgerald has seen significant playing time thus far.

One of Michigan’s first commitments of the cycle, Youngstown, OH, linebacker Antonio Kinard arrived on the scene. He played fullback and middle linebacker in high school, but throughout the recruiting process, he and analysts insisted he was being recruited for the Quick end position. Shortly before National Signing Day, Kinard revealed that the coaches would start him off at the weakside linebacker position. So it looks as if Kinard will be groomed to be Mouton’s potential replacement. Kinard is 6’4″ and only 202 lbs., so he has some filling out to do. He has the speed and athleticism to be an excellent defender, and it’s promising that he actually played ILB as a high schooler.

Michigan’s second linebacker commitment came from Josh Furman, a SAM prospect from Millersville, MD. Originally recruited to play SAM, the potential switch to the 4-2-5 essentially eliminates the SAM linebacker. So it remains to be seen what position Furman will play. However, his physical skills might be the most impressive of any player in the entire class. At 6’3″ and 194 lbs., he supposedly ran a 4.37 laser-timed forty (which is surely fake, but still impressive, if only for its audacity). His speed is impressive, but he tends to run upright and could struggle with his agility at the next level. I don’t expect the SAM linebacker position to disappear permanently (it might only be a one-year experiment to maximize talent), but Furman has the frame and skills enough to bulk up to weakside linebacker size. As for the 2010 season, I expect Furman to get some reps at strong safety.

Predictions: Kinard will almost surely redshirt in 2010, and I’d expect him to be around 230 pounds by the time he earns some playing time in a couple years. He’s a more natural fit at inside linebacker than some of the other linebackers (Bell and Jones, for example), but I don’t see him really pushing for playing time until his third year. Furman, on the other hand, could very well play in 2010. I think he could be an excellent special teams player with his speed and size. Furthermore, while I don’t see him starting this year, he could very well get some backup minutes in the role of SS (or SAM). I wouldn’t trust him in deep zone coverage just yet, but he would be a good matchup in coverage on tight ends.

Grade: C. Michigan really needed a middle linebacker in this class, which the coaches failed to secure. It’s possible that Jake Ryan could play MIKE, but so far it seems he was recruited to play Quick end. Kinard has good upside, but he’s a couple years away from contributing. That’s fine because there are other options at weakside linebacker, but an immediate-impact sort would have been nice. Furman is a good player and could play a variety of roles; he reminds me a bit of recent Wisconsin Badger Jonathan Casillas, but with better pass rushing ability.

16Feb 2010
Uncategorized no comments

Position Switch: Cameron Gordon to Safety

Wide receiver Cameron Gordon has switched to safety
AnnArbor.com published an article yesterday about wide receiver Cameron Gordon making the switch to safety. A former 4-star wide receiver, he came to Michigan in part because the coaches told him he could compete at wideout. He spent his freshman season redshirting. Reports from practice indicated that he had good hands and, at 6’2″ and 210 lbs., was willing to go over the middle. Unfortunately for him, Rodriguez’s offense at Michigan hasn’t shown a propensity for using wide receivers in the middle of the field. That would be practically the equivalent of having a rifle-armed defensive tackle. The offense predicates itself on getting athletes in space, and Gordon doesn’t have the speed or quickness to shake free from cornerbacks.

The article doesn’t identify which safety position Gordon will play, but one can assume that he’ll play the weak safety position, where he’ll likely compete with freshmen Marvin Robinson and Carvin Johnson, redshirt sophomore Jordan Kovacs, and redshirt junior Mike Williams. This position requires less speed and a more physically imposing presence than the strong safety position. As the article illustrates, Gordon displayed some good hitting ability during special teams practice, so much so that the defensive coaches hinted constantly that he should move to defense.

This switch is far from surprising. In last season’s preview profile of Gordon, I suggested that he would be better off on defense. I still think he’s best suited for linebacker, particularly the weak inside linebacker position held tenuously by Jonas Mouton. Perhaps this is the next step in a slow transition to WILL, because I don’t foresee Gordon having the speed to play weak safety, either. There are times in this defense where the strong safety has to roll over to play man coverage on the strong side, meaning the weak safety has to back up to play the deep middle or a deep half. In my opinion, this would expose Gordon, as it did Jordan Kovacs at times last year.

26Sep 2009
Uncategorized 2 comments

Michigan 36, Indiana 33

I’ve been busy this week. Between losing power on Thursday evening, not getting home until after midnight last night, and Saturday morning practice, I didn’t have a chance to write a preview for the Indiana game. But these are the games that always scare me the most. Not the Toledo or Eastern Michigan or Appalachian State games, because we win most of those and if we don’t, well, that’s just how the cookie crumbles.

No, what scare me are the games against second-rate Big Ten teams like Indiana, Northwestern, Michigan State, etc. Those games are ones that shouldn’t be huge impediments on the way to playing for a Big Ten title but too often rise up to bite you in the ass or at least make you nervous.

Today’s game was no exception. Indiana made it tough on Michigan before the Wolverines eked one out in the last couple minutes.

Offensively, Michigan frustrated me more today than at any other time this year. They seemed completely out of sync for the majority of the game. Luckily, Carlos Brown scored two early touchdowns and Tate Forcier led two late TD drives in the fourth quarter. Between those points, though, Michigan looked discombobulated.

Replacement center David Moosman had troubles snapping the ball, and both Denard Robinson and Forcier had troubles handling it. Michigan has resurrected the freeze play, where the center snaps the ball when he sees someone jump offsides. It’s supposed to earn Michigan five yards, which it did . . . once. But the freshman quarterbacks clearly aren’t prepared to run it, and neither is Moosman, since he snapped the ball one time when Indiana defensive end Greg Middleton had already got back onside. In total, it lost yards for Michigan and could end up being a turnover if, for example, the snap on the Middleton play had bounced off Forcier’s knee or facemask and ended up in the hands of a Hoosier.

The game always looks like it’s going too fast for Denard Robinson. It’s like I looked when I was little and watching my brother play Frogger; then my mom would call him to take the garbage out, I’d grab the joystick, adrenaline myself across the road, and then drown in the river. Robinson runs the ball well and has a limit of one good throw per game. He led one good drive today and made a nice throw on a seam route to Kevin Koger. After that play the coaches should have patted him on the dreadlocked head, said “Nice job,” and handed him a baseball cap (until, of course, he was needed again once Forcier got hurt).

Offensive coordinator Calvin Magee went away from the running game for a while. I have no explanation for this. Carlos Brown started the game with a 61-yard TD on a screen pass, scored a 41-yard rushing TD on the next drive, and then became a bystander for a couple quarters. We can run the ball. Our co-starters at running back, Brown and Brandon Minor, had 23 carries for 123 yards. That’s 5.3 yards per carry. But 23 carries is what ONE of those guys should have, not the combination of the two, especially when Forcier and Robinson combined for 21 rushes. The guys who earned scholarships for running the ball should run it, not the guys who earned scholarships for their throwing arms.

This is partly on Forcier as well. In my opinion, Forcier is horrible at running the read option. Even when the backside defensive end stays home to contain the quarterback, Forcier tries to make things happen on his own. He’s simply not athletic enough to make it work. Hopefully his reads will improve as he gets more and more experience. I guess the coaches have to keep calling the play to keep the defense honest, but Forcier needs to realize that the best thing about that play is the element of surprise when he keeps the ball. If I were an opposing defensive coordinator, I would tell my defensive ends, “If you stay home, this chump is going to keep the ball a couple times when he shouldn’t, and you better make him regret it.”

Defensively, it really hurts to have so little depth and experience in the defensive backfield. I thought the linebackers played better than they did last week and the defensive line did an okay job, but our defensive backfield is in shambles. Donovan Warren made one poor tackle attempt, but the Indiana didn’t want to test him much. Boubacar Cissoko was replaced early by J.T. Floyd, and neither played well. Meanwhile, strong safety Troy Woolfolk is a position-changer from cornerback who missed some tackles, and former walk-on Jordan Kovacs started at free safety and missed several assignments. Indiana took advantage of the inexperience on the back end, and you can bet that other Big Ten teams will, too. I think Michigan State will have an excellent day throwing the ball next week.

Offensive game ball goes to . . . Carlos Brown (2). He had 144 yards from scrimmage (83 rushing, 61 receiving) and two touchdowns. He ran the ball well most of the day, and what he lacks in toughness, he makes up for in home run ability.

Defensive game ball goes to . . . Jonas Mouton (1). Mouton led the team in tackles with 11 and had half a tackle for loss. He reacted slowly a couple times but he stepped up to fill a hole a couple times and made some nice hits. He didn’t have a great game, but nobody really did.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . David Moosman (1). He can play guard. That’s fine. He’s a pretty good guard. In fact, with his main competition at center coming from redshirt freshman Rocko Khoury, he might well be our best center with starter David Molk out (broken foot). But I hope Molk is a quick healer. Moosman had a few bad snaps, and his quarterbacks didn’t do a great job of bailing him out.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . J.T. Floyd (2). I think Cissoko re-injured his shoulder injury, but I have a hard time believing that freshmen Justin Turner and Teric Jones are significantly worse than Floyd. At this point, I have to believe the coaches are trying their best to preserve Turner’s redshirt. Jones’s has already been burned. But Floyd was responsible for at least three big plays today: 1) the missed pass break-up that ended in a big gain, 2) the 85-yard rush TD by Darius Willis in which Floyd made a poor attempt to tackle, and 3) the pass interference on the right sideline – the ball was uncatchable, but Floyd still had a hand full of jersey.