Preview 2008 - Offense
2008 CFN Michigan Preview |
2008 Michigan Offense
2008 Michigan Depth
2007 CFN Michigan Preview |
2006 CFN Michigan Preview
What you need to know:
else, this will be interesting. The pieces aren't there for Rich
Rodriguez to run things the way he did at West Virginia, so
offensive coordinator Calvin McGee will have to scramble a bit.
It's not like there isn't Michigan-level talent, but there's a
ton of inexperience and few sure things. Starting with the
positives, the running backs, despite losing Mike Hart, should
be fantastic with Brandon Minor, Carlos Brown and Kevin Grady to
be the focal point of the attack. Greg Mathews leads a tall,
fast receiving corps that looks the part. And then there are the
issues. The quarterback situation is shaky with Steven Threet
taking the early lead in the race. While he’s a nice talent,
he’s a tall passer; he’s not Pat White. The line could be the
biggest concern with little returning experience and no veteran
Passing: David Cone
1-1, 21 yds
Rushing: Brandon Minor
90 carries, 385 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Greg Mathews
39 catches, 366 yds, 3 TD
Star of the offense: Junior RB Brandon Minor
Player who has to step up and become a star: Redshirt
freshman QB Steven Threet
Unsung star on the rise: Junior OT Mark Ortmann
Best pro prospect: Minor
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Minor, 2) WR Greg
Mathews, 3) OT Stephen Schilling
Strength of the offense: Running back, tight end
Weakness of the offense:
Offensive line, quarterback
Projected Starter: While former Georgia Tech transfer
Steven Threet doesn't fit the mold of the quarterback the
new offense might like, he's a smart, solid passer with just
enough mobility to be a running threat. At 6-6 and 230 pounds,
the redshirt freshman is the best pure passing option among the
quarterbacks, and with so many unknowns on both sides of the
ball, he's the safest option. He was a top high school talent
who's more than good enough to get the offense going, but he's
just not the right fit.
Projected Top Reserve: Sophomore Nick Sheridan
might not have the skills to be the starter on day one, but
he has the type of speed and mobility needed for the offense.
The 6-1, 212-pounder has been a holder for the kicking game and
has seen some mop-up duty, but not enough to be able to hit the
ground running. Even so, he was good enough in the off-season to
get a long look this fall.
Among the more interesting options will be David Cone, a
6-7, 214-pound sophomore who holds the honor of being the team's
most productive returning quarterback with one completion for 21
yards against Minnesota. While he's a pro-style quarterback with
a big arm and nice passing touch, he operated out of the
wishbone in high school.
If the coaching staff is prepared to truly be in a building
mode, it'll take its lumps with Justin Feagin, a 6-0,
190-pound speedster who's the team's best fit for the attack.
While he's not that big, he's big-time quick in the Pat White
mold rushing for 1,313 yards and 25 touchdowns last year as a
high school senior, but he also has an efficient arm. While he
might have been considered a great safety prospect under the old
regime, he could be the answer for the offense this year.
Watch Out For ... Threet to not be that bad. Lost in
all the concern over the offensive changes is that Rodriguez is
good at making adjustments. He's not going to make Threet do
what Pat White had to, and he's more than able to tinker with
the attack to go with the strengths.
Strength: A common goal. Everyone's in the same
boat. This was going to be Terrelle Pryor's job before the uber-recruit
decided to go to Ohio State, and now the idea is to get from
point A to point B as painlessly as possible. Considering this
is Michigan, in relative terms, there's almost no pressure
whatsoever to succeed right away.
Weakness: Pryor is in Columbus. If Feagin isn't the guy, this
will be a hodge-podge offense that'll be thrown together on the
fly. There could be elements of several different styles thrown
in, with RB Brandon Minor even getting a snap or two here and
Outlook: Without question, this is the most
intriguing quarterback situation of the 2008 season, and while
the players might not be in place to do things like the coaching
staff ideally would want, it's not like they backed up the
turnip truck and dumped out some guys to throw under center.
Every prospect was a big-time recruit and a top high school
talent, and while none of them are Pryor, things might not be
quite as bad as they appear.
Projected Starters: Ready to break out from the shadow
of Mike Hart is Brandon Minor, the team's second leading
rusher last season with 385 yards and a touchdown. The 6-1,
214-pound junior is a big banger who's also a sprinter, cranking
out a 10.9 in the 100 meters in high school. A phenomenal
all-around athlete, he has the skills to be just the playmaker
the offense needs to rely on until the quarterbacks get their
feet wet. While he hasn't had to be a full-time workhorse yet,
he ran 21 times for 157 yards against Minnesota.
The offense loves to use the fullback in a variety of ways,
meaning 6-1, 232-pound sophomore Mark Moundros should get
plenty of work. A blocker, he's not likely to see many carries,
if any, but he's a part-time receiver making three catches for
11 yards, and he's a whale of a special teamer.
Projected Top Reserves: 5-9, 229-pound Kevin
Grady was the superstar recruit of three years ago who was
supposed to take the running game to another level, and while he
has 4.43 speed and tremendous quickness, his career was derailed
by a knee injury. He spent last year getting healthy, and now
the junior, once everything clears up from his off-the-field
issue with a drunk driving charge, should be a key cog in the
Carlos Brown finished third on the team with 382 yards
and four touchdowns, averaging 5.1 yards per carry, but he has
to get over a broken finger to hold off Grady for the No. 2 job.
At 6-0 and 213 pounds he has good size and elite speed. The
former cornerback made the transition last year and appeared to
be a natural, carrying the running game in the win over Illinois
with 113 yards on 25 carries, and showing off his speed with 132
yards and two touchdowns against Minnesota on just 13 carries.
Sooner than later, 5-10, 185-pound redshirt freshman Avery
Horn will be involved in the ground game. Extremely fast,
with 10.5 speed in the 100, he has the potential to be a
dangerous return man as well as a home run hitter from the
Watch Out For ... the coaching staff to do everything
possible to get as many backs on the field at the same time. It
won't be wishbone time, but there should be times with Minor is
in the backfield at the same time with Grady, Brown or Horn. The
running backs are a strength and they'll be used like it.
Strength: Speed. Mike Hart was a warrior who made
things happen when he was in the open field, but he wasn't much
of a speedster. The wheels in the backfield are better with this
Weakness: Injury issues. Grady has to be all back full from his
torn ACL, while Brown has to get over his finger injury. The big
concern is keeping Minor in one piece. Never fully healthy over
the second half of last season, he's the vital cog in the
Outlook: This is supposed to be a running offense,
and Michigan has runners. Even without Hart, this is still a
good situation with four excellent options to form a good
rotation. In a perfect world, Minor is the main man, Grady and
Brown can each contribute around seven carries per game, and
Horn carves out a role for himself sort of like Noel Devine did
last year for West Virginia.
Projected Starters: Alright, Greg
Mathews, it's time to shine. Expected to possibly be a major
player going into last season after all the drama surrounding
Adrian Arrington and his spring suspension, he was the third man
in the mix once Arrington returned. Mathews caught 39 passes for
366 yards and three touchdowns, but the 6-3, 207-pound junior
has the size and talent to do far more. The cousin of former
Ohio State star, and current Miami Dolphin, Ted Ginn, doesn't
have elite wheels, but he's not bad at getting in the open.
Looking to be the main running mate on for Mathews at the inside
Z position is 6-1, 214-pound sophomore Junior Hemingway
after a four catch, 37-yard season. A good runner, getting five
carries for nine yards, he has good quickness and the potential
to grow into a key playmaker in several areas.
Working at the Y is 6-3, 201-pound sophomore Toney Clemons
after making one catch for five yards. A huge target as well as
a big-time athlete with great speed, he should be able to
stretch the field a bit.
Adding a calming, go-to target for the new quarterback will be
6-5, 250-pound junior Carson Butler, the returning
starter at tight end. With 13 starts over the last two years,
and with 20 catches for 246 yards and two touchdowns, he's a
reliable veteran who isn't afraid to hit a little bit.
Projected Top Reserves: Pushing Hemingway for time
at the inside Z spot will be 6-3, 210-pound junior LaTerryal
Savoy, a superstar recruit from a few years ago who has
produced precisely squat. Partially last in the shuffle, he
caught one pass for nine yards last year and now has to finally
live up to his tremendous potential and become a regular
Already in school this spring was true freshman Darryl Stonum,
one of the team's top recruits. At 6-3 and 185 pounds he has the
body already, and he has the sprinter's speed to eventually
become a star on the outside. He'll start out behind Mathews on
the X, but he could be the key to the deep passing game as the
season goes on.
Butler doesn't have a firm hold on the starting tight end job as
6-5, 225-pound senior Mike Massey will once again play a
role in two tight end sets and on special teams. He made four
catches for 38 yards before getting knocked out for the year
with a knee injury in the fifth game of the year. He might not
be a big blocker, but he was missed from the offense.
Watch Out For ... Stonum. The offense needs
playmakers in all spots, and while he wasn't the star of the
spring, Stonum showed enough to be a factor right away this
fall. No longer a beanpole, he has added plenty of muscle and
size to be ready.
Strength: Size and speed. When you become known
for cranking out NFL-caliber wide receivers, you tend to get
NFL-caliber prospects. Everyone is big, everyone is fast, and
everyone was a great high school player who came to Ann Arbor to
be part of the assembly line, but ...
Weakness: ... the light hasn't gone on for enough of the
prospects. Oh sure, there's plenty of talent and upside, but
this group won't be good enough to demand a full-time commitment
to the passing game.
Outlook: Mathews is a good receiver to build
around and he'll show that he was more than just a complementary
target in the attack last year. Now it's time for some of the
former star prepsters to play up to their former hype. If the
running game works like it's supposed to, there should be plenty
of chances to hit on the big play. This speedy group has to take
Projected Starters: Michigan always has
talented linemen waiting to step in and produce, but this year might be
a stretch , especially on the left side where No. 1-pick-in-the-draft
tackle Jake Long is gone along with Adam Kraus and Justin Boren, who
combined at right guard and center. Trying to step in and take over for
Long on the left side will be Mark Ortmann, a 6-7, 294-pound
junior who started two games last year at right tackle. A great athlete
with the measurables to become a prototype tackle, he needs more
starting time and he needs to prove he can be a consistent pass
Starting in place of Krause will be 6-6, 288-pound junior Tim McAvoy,
who saw a little bit of time last year and got the starting call against
Northwestern at right guard. One of the best athletes on the line, he
should grow into a perfect blocker for the new offense with his
quickness and ability to get on the move.
Sophomore Stephen Schilling is the only returning starter on the
line after starting every game but two at right tackle, and spending the
other two games at right guard. At 6-5 and 295 pounds he has decent size with big-time upside. He had issues with a shoulder
injury and a bout of mono two years ago, but he came back to become one
of the team's steadier, most versatile linemen.
Taking over for Justin Boren in the middle will be junior
David Moosman, a 6-5, 292-pound career backup who has the
ability to play guard, but will start out at center. Extremely
strong, he should be great for the ground game, and while he's
not a next-level athlete, he's quick enough to handle himself
well in the new offense.
There was a revolving door at right guard last year, and it's
the one spot that won't suffer from having a new starter. 6-5,
292-pound junior Cory Zirbel has plenty of experience as
a backup and has spent most of his time on special teams, but
now he'll be the main option with his tremendous combination of
strength and quickness.
Projected Top Reserves: The line needs someone,
anyone with a little experience to provide some sort of veteran
depth, and at the moment, 6-7, 308-pound sophomore Perry
Dorrestein is it after seeing time in four games last year.
A backup behind Jake Long last season, Dorrestein will now work
mostly at right tackle behind Schilling. He could move to the
other side if needed.
Forget about giving the new guys any time to get their feet wet,
the best players will be needed from day one. True freshman
Dann O'Neill could be one of the main options sooner than
later at tackle. The 6-7, 295-pounder was rated among the best
tackle prospects in the nation and he should grow into a star in
Watch Out For ... this to be the make-or-break area
for the team. There might be question marks in several areas,
but if the O line is mediocre, it's time to move on to 2009.
Strength: The program. Can Michigan get by on
brand name? You have to be at a certain level to even be
considered by Michigan to play on the line, so there's good
talent and decent prospects. However ...
Weakness: Can anyone actually play? Outside of Schilling,
there's no one the line can count on from day one. For Rodriguez
to run the offense like he wants, he needs a specific skill set
up front, and the jury is still out on whether or not this front
five is athletic enough.
Outlook: Fortunately, the change of the past few
years from being big and beefy to sleek and quick should pay off
as this season goes on. The Wolverine line is hardly light, but
it's not lumbering. While the blocking should be fine as the
season gets on, the personnel losses are too massive to expect
anything special. Losing Long and Kraus were bad enough, but the
defection of Boren, among others, makes this a major concern.