The Impact of Peppers' Move
Since Harbaugh was offficially brought in on December 30th, the dividends have been swift and considerable. Energy is back. Recruits are talking about Michigan. A coaching staff has been assembled that has NFL experience, recruiting savvy, and current schemes.
Another thing Harbaugh has purportedly done is moved Jabrill Peppers to safety. This move has a lot of implications for the season and for Peppers' career. This will not be like the Hoke era, where players were moved from position to position randomly. If Peppers is indeed going to safety, he'll likely be there for a long time.
Is it a good move? Well, conventional wisdom says a corner is more valuable than a safety. Michiganian wisdom also says that Charles Woodson played corner, so Jabrill should. A more abstract wisdom says that since Jabrill can play both exceptionally well, it's impossible to know for sure.
Still, this is probably a very good move for the Wolverines, and there are several reasons. For one, safety is becoming a more important position. Most passing concepts will try to get their athletic receivers downfield to fight for balls with either faster, shorter cornerbacks or slower, less skilled safeties. It's an approach that works very well. With Peppers roaming the backfield, though, the responsibilities of all the other defensive backs become more manageable.
Another is the impact Peppers can have in run defense. Because he can cover so much ground, and follow sweeps to the outside, Michigan gets to throw more bodies at stopping the run. Yes, there's already an athletic, instinctive front seven - that a year ago held its own with anyone in the country - but also a pair of run-stopping safeties behind them that can run sideline-to-sideline. The opportunity for a hybrid eight- or nine-man box out of base personnel helps against up-tempo, spread-to-run offenses without sacrificing the deep pass.
Also, this one move helps give Michigan's defense an identity. It's hard-hitting, fast, and ready for big plays. It's a smashmouth, pass-capable defense with an attitude that all the great defenses had. Peppers will be able to force turnovers in ways that press corners cannot. He'll be able to put his hat on a lot of ball-carriers, but even before the moment the tackle is made, he gets receivers to think twice before they catch the ball, he makes runners hesitate with their angles, and of course he makes quarterbacks wonder where he's going to be once the ball is snapped and the pass is thrown.
This move is gaudy, in a Harbaugh-esque way. It helps shore up a key weakness in Michigan's defense, one that already allowed the fourth-fewest points in the Big Ten. And it helps everyone around Jabrill play better. It's the best of all worlds.
@JabrillPeppers moving to safety is good, can scrape the field left to right .. And is 2nd to none at it, peppy pep— OneSeven (@FreddCanteen_) January 21, 2015
It's a DRILL next year man.. Come Across that middle if you want to— Breez (@JabrillPeppers) January 21, 2015
Hitting the Links Counts Down to NSD
This is an introspective account of one's fans experience watching the Buckeyes win a title.
One can only hope.
It wasn't long ago that LSU had a chokehold on the state's best players. Some time around the middle of Alabama's string of championships, that wall broke.
It would definitely help Michigan to get its foot in the door in California, Texas, and Florida. Amazingly, this staff seems poised to do all three.
A little bit married to how the teams did in 2014, it was still an enjoyable read/skim.
For all the steps Illinois has made, it was not a great team this year. If the program's progress stalls out, expect AD Mike Thomas to look elsewhere.
This writer did not watch much Big Ten football.
Statistically, Minnesota's receivers weren't terrific. Maxx Williams led the team with 569 yards, and KJ Maye came in second with 298. With that said, this group has some potential, even if they're more on the slow side.
It was a rough first year for Chris Creighton, but things may be looking up. They just hired a new cornerbacks coach from Northern Iowa, which might help the "weakest link" of the team.
This was certainly a tough position for anyone to be in, and Bob Bowlsby has handled this with class.