2009 Michigan Preview - Offense
Michigan RB Brandon Minor
CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Michigan Wolverine Offense
Preview 2009 - Offense
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What you need to know: Everyone knew the pieces weren’t in place, but that didn’t stop
the screaming and yelling over an offense that ranked dead last
in the Big Ten in yards, passing, passing efficiency, and
scoring. It all comes down to the quarterback situation with
true freshman Tate Forcier being asked to walk in and star from
the word go. Others will be in the mix, like veteran Nick
Sheridan and true freshman Denard Robinson, but it’s not a
stretch to call Forcier one of the Big Ten’s most important
players. Everything else should be better with a deep stable of
good, big, fast running backs, led by Brandon Minor, a veteran
receiving corps that has flopped in terms of playing up to the
prep-hype, but should be fine, and a line that returns seven
players that saw key starts last year. The spread isn’t going to
blow up quite yet, but there will be games, unlike last year,
when everything clicks. If nothing else, this won’t be the Big
Ten’s worst attack again.
Passing: Nick Sheridan
63-137, 613 yds, 2 TD, 5 INT
Rushing: Brandon Minor
103 carries, 533 yds, 9 TD
Receiving: Martavious Odoms
49 catches, 43 yds, 0 TD
Star of the offense:
Senior RB Brandon Minor
Player who has to step up and become a star: Freshman QB
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore C David Molk
Best pro prospect: Minor
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Minor, 2) Forcier, 3)
OT Mark Ortmann
Strength of the offense: Running back, Experience
Everywhere But QB
Weakness of the offense: Proven Production, Quarterback
While he’s not Terrelle Pryor, who would’ve been the starter
from day one last year,
Tate Forcier might be a better fit for the Michigan offense.
The star recruit from San Diego is only 6-1 and 187 pounds, but
he’s a deadly accurate passer and is terrific on the move. Able
to throw the ball equally well on the move and in the pocket, he
should instantly upgrade the team’s passing efficiency. But
it’ll be his running skills that should finally put a charge in
the Wolverine attack. He ran for 2,049 yards and 24 scores, and
threw for 7,448 yards and 61 touchdowns, in high school, and
while he’s going to make a ton of big mistakes, the reward
should be tremendous once he gets his feet wet.
Projected Top Reserve: Junior Nick Sheridan isn’t
all that talented and he might not be able to throw the ball,
completing just 46% of his passes for 613 yards and two
touchdowns with five interceptions last year, but he’s very fast
and he’s experienced. The 6-1, 220-pounder only ran for 92 yards
and a touchdown on the year, but he had a few bright spots. He
was fantastic in the win over Minnesota with 203 passing yards
and a score and wasn’t awful in the season opener against Utah,
but he was overmatched for most of the season.
Florida wanted Denard
Robinson for his athleticism and all-around skills, but it
was Michigan who gave him a chance to be a quarterback. The star
recruit chose the Wolverines at the last second and will battle
for playing time from the moment he sets foot on campus. While
he’s not all that big at 6-0 and 180 pounds, he’s freakishly
strong and has torn off a 4.32 in the 40. He’s not the passer
that Tate Forcier is, but he’s a more dynamic runner and could
be the home-run hitter for the Michigan attack that Pat White
was for West Virginia.
Watch Out For ... Forcier to be good. It’s
asking way, way too
much for a true freshman to save Michigan football, but that’s
what he’ll have to do. He’s going to make a lot of boneheaded,
potentially game-killing mistakes just because he’s a true
freshman, but he’ll get the chance to play through them. He has
the talent to be a great one with a little bit of seasoning.
Strength: The future. Pat White was great as a
freshman under Rich Rodriguez, but the former West Virginia star
turned out to be the greatest running quarterback in the history
of college football. Forcier and Robinson will have the world
thrown in their faces as they try to handle everything
surrounding the Michigan starting quarterback job, and if given
time to mature, they’ll be great.
isn’t 2011 yet. After the disaster of last season, there might
not be too much of a grace period for the quarterbacks even
though they’re young. If Forcier isn’t leading the team to wins,
there will be some Maize and Blue grumbling that Robinson needs
to be in, and vice versa. Wolverine fans aren’t insane, they
know it’s going to take a little while for this to work, but
Forcier and Robinson have to at least show upside. Simply put,
they can’t bust.
Outlook: There will be times
when it’ll all work. The holes will be there, the offense will
come up with the execution it’s supposed to, and either Forcier
or Robinson will rip off a huge run to make Wolverine fans giddy
with the excitement of what the attack could become. And then
the drive will halt with an interception. There’s no question
that the quarterback situation has taken a dramatic turn upward,
even with the departure of Steven Threet, but it’s going to take
some time for this to all come together. If the true freshman
can handle the spotlight and the pressure, and the goofiness of
things like Duke basketball player Greg Paulus being rumored to
want to join the show (before he chose Syracuse), everything
will eventually be fine in an inconsistent and promising season.
Looking to be the break out player last year was
Brandon Minor, a
6-1, 216-pound senior with tremendous athleticism, great size
and excellent speed. A banger when he has to be, he also has
home run hitting wheels cranking out a 10.9 in the 100 meters in
high school. However, while he led the team in rushing, he only
ran for 533 yards with nine touchdowns with his production
coming in chunks. He ran for 155 yards and three touchdowns
against Purdue and 117 yards and two scores against Penn State,
but he didn’t crack the 100-yard mark the rest of the year and
six of his scores came in a three game span.
Rodriguez offense loves to use the fullback in a variety of
ways, although not necessarily in a traditional sense. 6-1,
228-pound junior Mark
Moundros won’t see many carries, he ran just three times for
14 yards and caught a two-yard pass for a touchdown, but he’s a
whale of a special teamer and a strong blocker.
6-0, 206-pound junior Carlos Brown didn’t get a whole
bunch of work last season after starring for a key stretch in
2007. Injuries have been the biggest issue suffering a broken
finger early on and having a variety of other problems that
limited him to just five games and 122 yards of production. With
his combination of size and elite speed, he’d be a great fit for
the offense, but the former cornerback has to prove he’s tough
enough to battle through the little things, and durable enough
to stay on the field and be counted on.
freshman Michael Cox showed excellent power throughout
spring ball but wasn’t able to break free often enough to use
his 4.47 speed. A phenomenal athlete, he has the moves and
toughness to be a major factor, but he’s still a work in
progress. He’s becoming more natural with the ball in his hands
and has been good enough to potentially work his way into a big
role if everything breaks the right way, but with his skills he
could end up moving to the defensive side.
5-6, 158-pound jitterbug
Vincent Smith was the star of spring practices wowing
everyone with his tremendous quickness. He’s a scat back who
rips through a hole in a hurry and uses his 4.5 speed to gain
yards in chunks. He’ll be used in a variety of ways as a runner
and a receiver just to get the ball in his hands.
Mike Shaw should
be the X factor in the running game this season. The 6-0,
177-pound sophomore got a little bit of work last season rushing
for 215 yards while catching six passes for 32 yards and a
score, and now he’ll be a key part of the attack after returning
from repairing a hernia that kept him down all of last year. A
slippery back with great quickness, he’ll be a key part of the
The light hasn’t gone on for senior
Kevin Grady, the
superstar recruit of a few years ago who was supposed to be the
next great Michigan running back. At 5-9 and 226 pounds, he has
the frame to be a tough runner to go along with the 4.43 speed
and tremendous quickness to make him dangerous from anywhere on
the field. His career took a bad turn with a horrible knee
injury and he’s been a hard worker, but he didn’t do more than
contribute as a special teamer last year running just 14 times
for 33 yards and a score.
Watch Out For ... Smith. Small, hard to see,
and quick, he could grow into a devastating change-of-pace back
who can take advantage of the holes created by the offense. He
can make things happen on his own, but he’ll be fantastic when
he gets a little room to move.
This is a very fast group with good size. You have to check in
with a 4.5 40 to be a part of this show with every back showing
off great straight-line speed on around a 210-pound frame
Weakness: Production. The
group looks the part but it didn’t do much as a group last year.
The one sparkplug, Sam McGuffie, who ran for 486 yards and three
scores, transferred to Rice, and while Smith looks like the next
shot of energy, all the other talented backs have to start
playing up to their measurables.
the supposed talent in the Wolverine backfield can finally start
to shine through, the running game could be devastating. To be
fair, there was no threat of a passing game and defenses teed
off on the running backs, but there should still be plenty of
chances for Brandon Minor, Carlos Brown, Mike Shaw, and the
other prototype-looking backs to finally start to produce. The
offense will go with a rotation of backs until it finds a hot
hand, and there will be little patience if someone isn’t
producing. There’s talent in bunches, and now it all needs to
With all the stars of the 2007 Michigan passing game gone, it
was up to now-senior
Greg Mathews to shine as the No. 1 target. While he didn’t
have anyone who could throw to him, he did what he could
finishing second on the team with 35 catches for 409 yards and a
receiver-leading two scores. At 6-3 and 209 pounds, the cousin
of former Ohio State star Ted Ginn hasn’t broken out and hasn’t
had a wow game, but he has been around long enough to be
dependable. His hands are fine, and while he doesn’t have elite
wheels, he can stretch the field a little bit.
Odoms doesn’t fit the normal profile of the big Michigan
wide receiver. At only 5-9 and 171 pounds, he’s a lightning
quick target who was a star punt returner averaging 12.6 yards
per try to go along with a 23-yard average on kickoff returns.
He led the team with 49 catches for 443 yards, and while he
didn’t get into the end zone and he didn’t break off many big
plays from his spot in the slot, those should be coming soon.
Junior Hemingway was neck-and-neck for a starting job early
last year before missing the most of the year with an ankle
injury. He caught two passes for 41 yards with a touchdown
against Utah, but that was it. He’s back and healthy now, and
while he’s not going to push out Greg Mathews or Martavious
Odoms out of a job, he could quickly become the No. 3 target in
the mix with his 6-1, 226-pound size and excellent deep speed.
However, he has to prove he can stay healthy.
Butler moving to the defensive side early last year,
Kevin Koger needed
to step up in the open tight end spot. The sophomore only caught
six passes for 93 yards and a score, but he had a nice season as
a blocker and he showed big-time upside. He’s expected to be a
big part of the passing offense this year, and at 6-4 and 245
pounds, has the frame to grow into a strong downfield blocker.
Projected Top Reserves:
Savoy has the 6-3, 213-pound size and he has the look of a
top target, but the superstar recruit of a few years ago has
done precisely squat. He caught four passes for 38 yards with an
11-yard touchdown grab against Purdue, and now he’ll have to
shine quickly or he’ll be an afterthought in the passing game
with so many good young players looking to take his place.
There are plenty of decent receivers to go around, but
no one has the talent of
Darryl Stonum. One of the team’s top recruits last year, and
a huge get for Rich Rodriguez, the 6-2, 188-pound sophomore
showed flashes of greatness catching 14 passes for 176 yards and
a 51-yard touchdown against Purdue. However, he played like a
true freshman making a ton of mistakes, struggling with his
routes, and not blocking anyone. After a strong spring, he might
crack the starting lineup sooner than later as a home run
Robinson was supposed to be a key part of the offense early
on, but a leg injury knocked him out for the year. Now the
redshirt freshman will push for time in the slot, but can also
be used on the outside if needed. The 5-9, 173-pounder is one of
the team’s fastest players and will get the ball as much as
possible on the move.
Originally considered a possible
candidate to grow into an offensive tackle spot, 6-6, 246-pound
Brandon Moore won’t have to put on the extra weight and will
stick at tight end. He’s not a great route runner, but he’s a
devastating blocker who’ll come in on pure running downs and
could be used in two tight end formations.
Out For ... Stonum. He’s still a bit raw and he’s still
not going to block anyone, but he has the standout talent needed
in a good, but not elite group of Michigan targets.
Strength: Veterans. Toney Clemons took off after
deciding he didn’t like the spread offense, but everyone else of
note is back and there’s an infusion of more talent with
Hemingway and Robinson healthy. This group will make the
quarterback and the passing game better.
The offense. It’s possible to run a great ground game and an
ultra-efficient passing attack if everything goes right in the
Rodriguez version of the spread, but with so many questions at
quarterback it’ll be hard for there to be any sort of
consistency. It’ll be vital for the receivers to be extra-sharp
and extra-patient. They’ll have to be ready to make the plays
when they get the chance.
receiving corps doesn’t have the tremendous talent of past
Michigan teams, but it’s experienced, deep, and potentially
great if the young prospects show up as expected. There’s a
chance that the projected backups, primarily Stonum and
Robinson, knock out the starters at some point, while the tight
end, Koger, will be featured more. This group will be better
than the production will show, but it’ll be up to them to step
up and shine even though the ball won’t be flying through the
air all that often.
Senior Mark Ortmann
had to step in and take the place of the No. 1 pick in the 2008
NFL Draft, Jake Long, and he was fine. The 6-7, 284-pound left
tackle slimmed down, got quicker, and should be better for the
offense this season and even better on the move. Running was
never a problem, he’s a fantastic athlete for his size, and now
after a year of being in the system, he should be far stronger.
He could play right tackle if needed, but with his fit and his
experience, he’s best for the left side.
will move to left guard after spending last season starting
every game but the finale at right tackle. He struggled on the
outside, wasn’t consistent after a strong freshman season, and
asked to be moved inside this spring. The change proved to be a
revelation as he showed he could handle the toughness of being a
plowing guard, while at 6-5 and 304 pounds he has the size to go
along with decent athleticism.
The key to the line might
be the play of Mark
Huyge, a 6-6, 291-pound sophomore who was good enough this
spring at right tackle that it allowed Schilling to move inside.
A major surprise, considering he didn’t see the field last year,
he showed that he could handle the workload with excellent
athleticism and good toughness. He’s great at pulling and
getting on the move.
6-5, 292-pound senior
David Moosman was a
fixture at right guard starting every game. Originally
considered for the starting center job, he quickly moved over to
guard where he was fine for the running game, even if he doesn’t
have the athleticism to fit the system. Extremely strong, he’ll
be used more for the hard yards and to pound away behind.
Back at center after starting every game is
David Molk, an
athletic 6-3, 283-pound sophomore who should grow into a star.
Considered by some as the nation’s top center prospect coming
out of high school, he’s the best athlete on the line and moves
like a much smaller player. In this system, which puts a premium
on quick interior linemen, he should be an All-Big Ten performer
Projected Top Reserves: Senior
Tim McAvoy is a
decent veteran who can spot-start here and there. The 6-6,
297-pounder was out for a stretch this off-season with a wrist
problem, but he’ll be a key backup at left guard after starting
five times last season and at center. Extremely athletic and a
good fit for the offense, he could end up seeing plenty of time
if Stephen Schilling ever moves back out to tackle.
Patrick Omameh is supposed to be the next great Michigan
tackle, but he’ll have to battle with Mark Huyge playing so well
this spring. While Omameh is a bit undersized at 6-4 and 276
pounds, he’s tremendously strong and can move well.
Ortmann might be the key veteran on the line, but he’s being
pushed hard by 6-7, 310-pound junior
Perry Dorrestein for
the job. A backup behind Jake Long two years ago, Dorrestein can
play either tackle spot and might end up taking over the right
side job, where he started against Ohio State, if Ortmann proves
too good to take off the field. He got starts against Illinois
and Toledo last year on the left side.
For ... Molk. West Virginia centers were always
superstars on the awards front, and Molk has the talent and the
athleticism to be the best Rodriguez has ever coached. He could
end up being the star of the line.
Time. There were a variety of issues going into last year, with
the biggest one being the time needed to learn the new style of
play. Now there are plenty of veterans with all five projected
first-teamers having started last year, and a slew of veteran
backups who saw starting time as well.
More time. For the offense to work, the line has to be full
of players with a specific skill set that doesn’t necessarily
fit the Michigan profile. While there are plenty of good
athletes to work with, there still might need to be a little
more of an adjustment period before one of last year’s biggest
weaknesses becomes a strength.
group took a brunt of the blame for the offensive woes of last
year, but it was thrown into a bad situation. Not only did the
line have to replace four starters, including Jake Long, Adam
Kraus, and Justin Boren, but it had to take a hard left turn as
far as how it functioned as a blocking unit. This year, there’s
a ton of experience returning, excellent battles for playing
time at almost all the spots, and an emergence of some
promising, athletic linemen like Molke and tackle Huyge. There
aren’t any sure-thing superstars, but there’s enough talent and
experience for this to be one of the team’s biggest areas of