Ex-Wolverine Updates: Pre-Season 2014

Tag: Josh Furman

3Jul 2014
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Ex-Wolverine Updates: Pre-Season 2014

This is Cullen Christian. He used to play for Michigan. Then he played for Pitt.
Now he’s a Mountaineer.

DT Richard Ash: After spending his first four years of college at Michigan, Ash became a grad year transfer to Western Michigan, where he is listed as a 6’3″, 314 lb. defensive tackle. He had 3 tackles as a redshirt junior in 2013.

Defensive backs coach Vance Bedford: Bedford is the new defensive coordinator at Texas. He spent 2010-2013 as defensive coordinator at Louisville before moving with head coach Charlie Strong to Austin.

Safeties coach Adam Braithwaite: Braithwaite is in his second season as the defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga.

TE Pharaoh Brown: Brown is listed as a 6’6″, 241 lb. junior tight end for Oregon. He had 10 receptions for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2013.

Wide receivers coach Erik Campbell: Campbell spent last season as the wide receivers coach for the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

CB Cullen Christian: Christian is listed as a 6’0″, 195 lb. safety for West Virginia. He spent the 2010 season at Michigan before transferring to Pitt, where he was from 2011-2013. He played in just two games as a redshirt junior at Pitt due to injury.

CB Gareon Conley: Conley is listed as a 6’0″, 190 lb. redshirt freshman for Ohio State.

CB Dallas Crawford: Crawford is listed as a 5’10”, 195 lb. defensive back for Miami. That’s right – Crawford is going to play safety for Miami after he was the backup and injury fill-in for Duke Johnson in 2013, when Crawford ran 137 times for 558 yards and 12 touchdowns and caught 20 passes for 171 yards and 1 touchdown.

Hit the jump for updates on over 20 more former Wolverines.

Wide receivers coach Tony Dews: Dews is in his third season as wide receivers coach at Arizona with Rich Rodriguez.

Defensive coordinator Ron English: English was fired as the head coach of Eastern Michigan and has not found a new coaching job, as far as I know.

OT Jake Fisher: Fisher is listed as a 6’6′, 299 lb. senior offensive tackle for Oregon. He started eleven games at right tackle as a junior in 2013.

Offensive line coach Greg Frey: Frey is in his fourth season as Indiana’s offensive line coach ans is co-offensive coordinator.

S Josh Furman: After spending his first four years of college in Ann Arbor, Furman announced that he would be transferring to Oklahoma State as a grad year transfer. However, he does not appear on the Cowboy’s 2014 roster. He had 11 tackles and 1 pass breakup as a redshirt junior in 2013.

Defensive backs coach Tony Gibson: Gibson is the new defensive coordinator at West Virginia. He was the safeties coach at WVU in 2013.

K Matt Goudis: Goudis is listed as a 6’0″, 172 lb. redshirt junior for Miami. He was 13/17 on field goals and 57/57 on extra points as a redshirt sophomore in 2013.

Linebackers coach Jay Hopson: Hopson is in his third year as head coach at Alcorn State. He’s 13-10 in his first two seasons but went 9-3 in 2013.

Quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler: Loeffler is in his second season as the offensive coordinator at Virginia Tech.

Offensive coordinator Calvin Magee: Magee is in his third season as offensive coordinator at Arizona with Rich Rodriguez.

Offensive line coach Andy Moeller: Moeller is in his first season as offensive line coach with the Cleveland Browns after spending the previous three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens.

RB Thomas Rawls: After spending three years at Michigan, Rawls announced that he would transfer to Central Michigan. He will be eligible for the upcoming season. He had 3 carries for 12 yards as a junior in 2013.

DT Chris Rock: Rock is listed as a 6’3″, 275 lb. redshirt junior for Ohio State. He played in one game as a redshirt sophomore in 2013.

Head coach Rich Rodriguez: Rodriguez is in his third season as head coach at Arizona. He’s coming off two consecutive 8-5 seasons as leader of the Wildcats.

Quarterbacks coach Rod Smith: Smith is in his third season as quarterbacks coach at Arizona with Rich Rodriguez.

QB Kevin Sousa: Sousa is listed as a 6’3″, 230 lb. redshirt junior for Wake Forest. He did not see any playing time as a redshirt sophomore in 2013.

Defensive line coach Steve Stripling: Stripling is the defensive line coach and associate head coach at Tennessee. This is his second year in Knoxville with Butch Jones.

Defensive line coach Bruce Tall: Tall is the defensive line coach for the Charlotte 49ers.

S Ray Vinopal: Pitt’s official roster has not been released for 2014, but Vinopal was Honorable Mention All-ACC as a redshirt junior in 2013. He finished the year with 83 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 3 interceptions, 6 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery. He will presumably be the starter once again in 2014, but he does not appear on Phil Steele’s pre-season All-ACC squad.

OT Denzel Ward: Ward does not appear on Syracuse’s 2014 roster, although not all freshmen appear to be listed on their roster yet.

CB Adrian Witty: Witty is listed as a 5’10”, 187 lb. redshirt senior safety for Cincinnati. He will likely be counted on to start, and he was in on 46 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 interception, and 4 pass breakups as a redshirt junior in 2013.

OG Cory Zirbel: Zirbel is in his third season as an offensive graduate assistant at Arizona with Rich Rodriguez. An injury while at Michigan ended Zirbel’s playing career, but he worked for Michigan’s football program before following Rodriguez to Tucson.

More information can be found on the Ex-Wolverine Encyclopedia.

27Jan 2014
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Josh Furman, Ex-Wolverine

Josh Furman blocked this punt against Nebraska in 2011

Safety Josh Furman, who would have been a fifth year senior in 2014, has decided to leave the program one year early, joining running back Thomas Rawls and defensive tackle Richard Ash in departing.

Furman committed to Michigan in December 2009 over teams like Oklahoma and Virginia Tech. I did not write a commitment post for him at the time, as the blog was still in its infancy stages. However, I did write a scouting report on him the previous month. At the time, I assumed he would bulk up and turn into a linebacker, and once he signed with the Wolverines, I thought he would play on the weakside. You may notice that I questioned his coverage abilities and said he would be too stiff to play defensive back in college. Players who move back in a defense (from DE to LB, or from LB to S) tend to struggle more, and Furman is no exception. He had the potential to be a quality linebacker for the Wolverines, but he turned into a below average safety.

Furman never added the weight to become a linebacker and finished his Michigan career as a 6’2″, 202 lb. safety. With starting safety Thomas Gordon suspended to begin the year, Furman made his first career start in the opener and went on to start three games this past season. Altogether, he finished with 11 tackles and 1 pass breakup on the season. In 30 games played over his career, he totaled 29 tackles and the 1 pass breakup. Most of those tackles came on special teams coverage, which was perhaps the best trait he provided to Michigan during his career.

It is unclear where Furman will end up, but most players end up transferring closer to home. Perhaps he’ll end up at Maryland or Temple, or he might even move down a level to play in the FCS. He’s the 19th member of the 27-man 2010 class to depart before running out of eligibility.

Michigan is left rather thin at safety with Furman’s departure and the graduations of Thomas Gordon and Courtney Avery. The Wolverines return one starter in the form of junior Jarrod Wilson, but other contributions will have to come from untested players like redshirt sophomore Jeremy Clark, sophomore Dymonte Thomas, sophomore Delano Hill, position switchers, or freshmen. My initial expectation is that Wilson and Thomas will be the starters at safety next season.

24Dec 2013
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Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Preview: Defensive Backs

Safety Ty Zimmerman is a potential game-changer at safety if he’s healthy.

 The headliner of this group is redshirt sophomore Blake Countess (5’10”, 182 lbs.), who’s tied for #5 in the country with 6 picks and is #3 in return yards with 169, including a touchdown. He also has 42 tackles and 4 pass breakups to his name. Countess starts on the outside but will slide into the slot when Michigan goes to its nickel packages. The other starter at corner is junior Raymon Taylor (5’10”, 183 lbs.), who’s tied for the team lead with 81 tackles and has 4 picks and 9 pass breakups of his own. Taylor racks up a lot of tackles because teams attack him instead of Countess, but he’s a solid tackler when receivers catch the ball near him. The other sure starter in the defensive backfield is fifth year senior strong safety Thomas Gordon (5’11”, 213 lbs.), a guy who lacks speed and isn’t a headhunter but who usually seems to be in the right spot; he has 49 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, and 2 pass breakups this year despite missing two games. The likely starter at free safety is sophomore Jarrod Wilson (6’2″, 200 lbs.), a potentially violent hitter who sometimes gets caught out of position; he has 45 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, and 2 pass breakups.
Backups: Wilson has lost some playing time to senior Courtney Avery (5’11”, 175 lbs.), who has bounced back and forth between corner, slot corner, and safety throughout his career; he has 30 tackles and .5 sacks on the year but looks to have lost a step after an injury over the summer and has been inconsistent. Redshirt junior Josh Furman (6’2″, 202 lbs.) is a linebacker in a safety’s body, and he has just 11 tackles and 1 pass breakup on the year, despite earning two starts and a variety of backup duty. He can be taken advantage of through the air. At cornerback, when Countess slides into the slot, he’s replaced by one of two freshmen: Channing Stribling (6’2″, 171 lbs., 15 tackles) or Jourdan Lewis (5’10”, 170 lbs., 17 tackles, 2 pass breakups). Whoever has the best week of practice is the one who earns the role that game, so we’ll just have to wait and see who gets the nod.

Starters: Fifth year senior safety Ty Zimmerman (6’1″, 204 lbs.) is the leader of the group and has been a First Team All-Big 12 selection in both 2012 and 2013; he has 70 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions (2 returned for touchdowns), and 4 pass breakups this season. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, he missed the final two regular season games and is questionable for the bowl game. Sophomore fellow safety Dante Barnett (6’1″, 186 lbs.) has 67 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, and 3 pass breakups. The Wildcats spend a lot of time in a nickel package, so the fifth defensive back – a safety/linebacker hybrid – is redshirt junior Randall Evans (6’0″, 190 lbs.), who has 59 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 interceptions, and 10 pass breakups. The cornerbacks are solid but did not earn any all-conference accolades. Fifth year senior Kip Daily (5’11”, 180 lbs.) has 47 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 4 pass breakups on the year, while fifth year senior Dorrian Roberts (5’10”, 168 lbs.) has 37 stops, 2.5 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, and 8 pass breakups. Roberts is rather inexperienced after playing in junior college for two years, redshirting in 2011, and not seeing the field at all in 2012.
Backups: Redshirt junior Dylan Schellenberg (6’0″, 189 lbs.) has been starting in Zimmerman’s stead, and he has 19 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 interception on the year. Fifth year senior Carl Miles, Jr. (5’11”, 190 lbs.) has 6 tackles and 1 pass breakup on the season, but he and the other backups are rarely used. Other than subbing Evans in and out for a linebacker, the Wildcats go with their starting unit almost the whole game.

Michigan is #62 in the nation giving up 238 yards/game through the air, but much of that is due to teams throwing instead of running on a stout run defense; they’re #32 in passer efficiency rating defense. Kansas State is #24 in the latter category and tied for #47 nationally at 222 yards allowed/game. Two of KSU’s worst three games against the pass were in recent games against TCU and Oklahoma before righting the ship against a pathetic Kansas Jayhawks squad. They rank #20 in the country with 16 interceptions on the year. If Zimmerman is unable to go, the Wildcats are without any real playmakers in the defensive backfield, though. Michigan is #17 in interceptions with 17 this year, and the two starting corners are the strength of the backfield with 10 interceptions and 13 pass breakups between them. The safety play leaves a little bit to be desired between a lack of discipline (Wilson) and athleticism (Gordon). Despite having a better defensive unit against the pass, the better group of defensive backs play for . . .


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).

2Sep 2013
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Michigan vs. Central Michigan Awards

Devin Gardner’s second rushing touchdown against Central Michigan (image via AnnArbor.com)

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Derrick Green. Green is not a game changer at this point, and he does look a few pounds overweight. If he’s the listed 240 lbs. right now, I think he could afford to play at 225-230. But he did look faster than the guy who was #2 on the depth chart, Drake Johnson. Johnson sprained his knee and may have to miss some time, anyway, but Green looked to me like the second-best back on the roster and led the team in rushing yardage with 11 carries for 58 yards and 1 touchdown.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . Graham Glasgow. I thought redshirt sophomore former walk-on left guard Glasgow was the weak link on the offensive line. He had two false starts and didn’t seem to get much push. Word was that redshirt sophomore Chris Bryant would have started if not for getting his knee drained last week, but when healthy, I think Bryant should be ahead of Glasgow.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Cameron Gordon. Gordon is the starting SAM linebacker while Jake Ryan is injured, and the former ended this game with 4 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 1 pass breakup. He should continue to start until Ryan returns, but once that happens, Greg Mattison needs to find a way to get both Ryan and Gordon on the field. Gordon is too good of an athlete and a playmaker to keep on the bench. If that means putting Frank Clark at strongside end, Ryan at weakside end, and Gordon at SAM on passing downs, so be it.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . Josh Furman. Furman started at strong safety in place of the suspended Thomas Gordon, and while Furman did a fair job of keeping things in front of him, he’s just somewhat slow at reading plays. He showed some nice makeup speed on plays to the sideline in Cover 2, and he helped hunt down a running back near the sideline deep in Michigan’s territory to prevent a touchdown. But ultimately, Gordon is the better safety at this point, and he needs to be on the field first.

Play of the game . . . the punt block for a touchdown. At the end of Central Michigan’s first possession, Michigan overloaded CMU’s right side and went for the punt block. True freshman safety Dymonte Thomas exploded off the line, came around the corner, and made a textbook block by laying out for the ball and aiming right for the toe of the punter. Former walk-on wideout Joe Reynolds picked up the ball and took it 22 yards for a touchdown to start the scoring.

MVP of the game . . . Devin Gardner. Gardner finished 10/15 for 162 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions, plus 7 carries for 52 yards and 2 touchdowns. He wasn’t entirely focused early, which resulted in those two picks. In the end, though, he accounted for three touchdowns and kept plays alive with his feet. His two rushing touchdowns included some smooth cuts to juke defenders, and he also threw a great deep ball to Joe Reynolds on a play action pass on which he turned his back to the defense for an uncomfortably long time.