Question: Can you talk about the progress of Boubacar; last year, he kind of got his feet wet. It looks like you guys are going to depending on him quite a bit this year.
Tony Gibson: “Yeah he has got to have a great year. He’s a solid kid on the field. He loves to play football and he needs football. I love the way he approaches it. Once he steps between those white lines, it is all business for him and he competes on every single snap. He gets up in their face, press man. If we could tell him, you play press man 80 plays a game, he’d be in heaven. He's getting better every day and it's important to him. That's what I like."
Boubacar should have a big year. He's my second favorite player on the defense behind to Mike Martin (redshirt freshman LB JB Fitzgerald, who may get a few snaps this year, is my third favorite). I don't even count Brandon Graham since he's ridiculously awesome and everybody knows it. This whole interview is a gold mine for information on all the DB's. A must-read if you've got a sec.
With the most recent Heisman winner from Michigan being a CB, it's surprising that we've kind of had some uninspiring DB play the past few years at U of M. The last truly great CB's we had, I think, were Marlin Jackson and Leon Hall, both now in the NFL. As far as what we currently have, Donovan Warren came in a 5-star steal from the state of California, but has been hampered by injuries his whole career. With D. Warren finally healthy this year and Boubacar as a physical, very talented but undersized corner, I'm happy with our starters at the CB spot. Depth, as is the case with our entire defense, is a major concern. But right now we've got 5-star JT Turner impressing in camp with his size and athletic ability, hard working though physically-meh redshirt freshman JT Floyd in the fold, and true freshman Teric Jones catching on quickly after the position switch from RB. With underrated 3-star converted QB from OH Courtney Avery (As well as 5-star PA strong Michigan lean Cullen Christian and the physical CB from FL Tony Grimes, hopefully) coming in next year, corner is probably the position I am most comfortable with, barring injuries, for the present and future on the U of M defense.
Safety, however, is a different story entirely. Largely regarded as the weakest position on the Michigan defense for the past few years, the mere mention of safety play causes eye rolling and groaning from those who have closely followed Michigan football recently. The tendency for MIchigan to give up big plays of late has become more of a habit, and poor safety play is a large part of this. This year, hopefully, will be better than last. With perennial goat Stevie Brown's move to the hybrid position (a much better position to utilize his athleticism, size and coverage skills, IMO), let's give Troy Woolfolk and Mike Williams a shot. Though Coach Gibson has positive words for them (what is he going to say? We're screwed at safety?), the truth of the matter is that our safeties are unproven (T. Woolfolk and M. Williams have game experience, but not much), and our depth is scary. The GBMW guys seem to think the Strong Safety position battle between M. Williams and true freshman Vlad Emilien will be one to watch this year. After M. Williams and T. Woolfolk, we've got Vlad Emilien, and walk-on converted QB-->receiver--> safety transfer from Southeast Missouri State, Jared Van Slyke. After that, somewhat impressive (though injured: ankle) true freshman Thomas Gordon from Cass Tech and... well... Yeesh. Kind a terrifying depth for the position that is the last line of defense. Who knows how good these guys are, though, and I won't judge until I see them in a game. I'm hoping for a pleasant surprise, so let's keep our collective fingers crossed that the coachspeak from Gibson holds some water.
I'm not quite sold on Coach Gibson, but let's give him some good talent first and see what he does with it before we assess his ability as a coach. RR likes him (Gibson was a former player for RR at WVU), but then again RR doesn't seem to know squat about the defense. That's Greg Robinson's job.
Great RR interview from MLive, not just the same old media-spin questions.
Also, the suites are selling well.
Related to the Gruden post: the composer of the epic NFL Films soundtracks, Tom Heddon, talks to NPR.
What position will Zack Novak play for U of M basketball this year? Dylan at UMHoops has his take.