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2010 Michigan Preview – Offense
Michgan QB Tate Forcier
Michgan QB Tate Forcier
Posted Jul 18, 2010 2010 Preview - Michigan Wolverine Offense

Michigan Wolverines

Preview 2010 - Offense

- 2010 Michigan Preview | 2010 Michigan Offense
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What You Need To Know: The offense should work. Even though it fell off the map over the second half of last year, it wasn’t all that bad with a surprising passing game (considering the style of the attack) that averaged close to 200 yards per outing balanced out with a ground game that managed to average 186 inconsistent yards per game. Four starters are back on a good line that should be a plus despite the lack of star power. The receiving corps gets almost all the key parts back, but while players like Roy Roundtree have the potential to do big things, they have to make the most of their opportunities with the running game controlling things. Michael Shaw leads a speedy group of backs that fit the system, and all the quarterbacks can run … and that’s the potential problem. Michigan has to figure out it situation under center with Denard Robinson looking strong enough this offseason to push Tate Forcier for the job, while freshman Devin Gardner, in time, will be better than both of them.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Tate Forcier
165-281, 2,050 yds, 13 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: Denard Robinson
69 carries, 351 yds, 5 TD
Receiving: Roy Roundtree
32 catches, 434 yds, 3 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Tate Forcier and/or Denard Robinson
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior RB Michael Shaw
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman OT Taylor Lewan
Best pro prospect: Senior OG Stephen Schilling
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Schilling, 2) C David Molk, 3) Shaw
Strength of the offense: Mobile Quarterbacks, Line
Weakness of the offense: Running Back Experience, Settled QB Situation


Projected Starter: It’s easy to gloss over that Tate Forcier was a true freshman. The 6-1, 194-pound sophomore out of San Diego is a fantastic fit for the Rich Rodriguez offense, and he looked the part over the first half of last year coming up clutch in the win over Notre Dame and rallying the team back from the brink to force overtime in the loss to Michigan State. But in a key game against Iowa, he got dinged up, didn’t get on the field late when everything was on the line, and the team was never quite the same. A baller, he might have made a slew of rookie mistakes, but he also threw for more than 200 yards in five games including three of the last four. He finished the season completing 59% of his throws for 2,290 yards and 13 touchdowns with ten picks, throwing four in the season ending loss to Ohio State, and he ran for 240 yards and three touchdowns. While he has the experience and the team lived through the freshman season, he needed to prove himself this offseason and he looked solid as a dual-threat playmaker. Consistency is the key, but leading the way to wins is all he’ll be judged on.

Projected Top Reserves: What position will Denard Robinson play? That was the big question before spring ball as the 6-0, 188-pound sophomore appeared to be the No. 2 man at quarterback (at best) and with the coaching staff wanting to get his athleticism (he was a Florida state-champion level sprinter) on the field. But Robinson came up with a tremendous offseason looking like a more polished passer after completing just 45% of his throws for 188 yards and two touchdowns with four interceptions to go along with 351 rushing yards and five scores, and now he’s neck and neck with Tate Forcier for the starting job. With 4.32 40-yard speed and a good arm, he’ll be used from time to time as more than just a runner if he doesn’t get the No. 1 spot.

True freshman Devin Gardner is the future of the program, but is he the present? The 6-4, 205-pounder is exactly the player Rich Rodriguez needed to run his offense two years ago when he missed out on getting Terrelle Pryor, but he’s still a bit raw and with Forcier and Robinson fighting it out and with a year of experience, redshirting would be a big plus. He has the size, the running ability, and the passing skills to be a superior dual threat playmaker, and the upside is limitless to become the face of the program in the very near future. If the season starts to go into the tank and the embattled coaching staff needs a spark, the Gardner era could begin.

Watch Out For … Robinson. It’s not like Pat White was Peyton Manning when he first started out at West Virginia, and if everyone around the program is patient enough to allow Robinson to work through his mistakes and his inconsistency, the reward could be tremendous. It took something special to make this more of a quarterback race, and Robinson has shown it.
Strength: Mobility. Robinson is lightning fast and Forcier and Gardner can each move well enough to be the main rushing weapon whenever they’re on the field. The heat is taken off the running backs with the quarterbacks the Wolverines have under center.
Weakness: Turnovers. No one throws well as a true freshman without being a truly special passer, and Forcier and Robinson weren’t an exception combining for 14 interceptions. There were too many freshmen mistakes (expected) and they got worse as the season went on (disappointing).
Outlook: In a perfect world, one quarterback would rise up and be the main man, but just when it seemed like this would be Forcier’s team, Robinson looked way too good to keep off the field. Throw in the potential of Gardner, and a position that should be solidified might turn out to be a mess if there’s an ongoing controversy. The rest of the team simply isn’t good enough to pick up the slack if the quarterback isn’t fantastic.
Unit Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: 6-1, 181-pound junior Michael Shaw will get the first shot at taking over the starting job after running for just 185 yards and two touchdowns. Never a part of the equation when the games actually mattered, he now needs to show off his slippery running skills and his great quickness to make things happen in the open field. After suffering a hernia two years ago, he’s now as healthy as he has been over the last few seasons and he should be able to pay out with a few explosive games.

Projected Top Reserves: Redshirt freshman Fitzgerald Toussaint isn’t all that big at 5-10 and 199 pounds, but he’s built for the Michigan offense with the quickness and cutting ability to thrive. Also courted by Illinois (when it ran the spread) and West Virginia, he’s terrific at stretching out the play before busting into the open for a big play. The speed is there, but he’ll have to be decisive with his cuts and can’t dance.

Junior Kelvin Grady (not to be confused with his brother, Kevin Grady) came to Michigan as a guard for the basketball team as well as the football team and got a little work last year catching ten passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. While he’ll still likely to be used as a slot receiver from time to time, he could end up making more of an impact as a runner with terrific speed and breakaway running ability. At 5-10 and 167 pounds, he’s not going to power over anyone, but that’s not going to be his job.

Sophomore Michael Cox has all the tools, but now he needs the ball. At 6-0 and 210 pounds he’s one of the team’s biggest tailbacks, and with his 4.47 speed he’s one of the fastest, but he didn’t get much of a chance last year running just 13 times for 113 times and two scores. He made the most of his carries averaging 8.7 yards per pop, but most of his work came against Delaware State.

Junior John McColgan will step in when the team needs a fullback, and it’ll be a shock if he gets any carries. The 6-1, 238-pounder will mostly be used as a blocker after seeing time in almost every game with a little time in the backfield and on special teams. He needs to try to carve out a role considering most of the tough carries will come from the tailbacks.

Watch Out For … Shaw. He’s the one back on the roster who could be Steve Slaton-like as a No. 1 runner who carries the ground game for long stretches. While he’s not necessarily going to be a workhorse and he might disappear for a while if the coaching staff uses a rotation, he has the skills to be fantastic.
Strength: Quickness. There’s speed to burn. All the running backs can fly with all the top options hovering around the 4.4 range, and they can all cut on a dime and crank out yards in chunks. The top four runners of last year all averaged more than five yards per carry, but …
Weakness: Veterans. Of the top four running back options going into this year, none were among the top five (not counting the running backs). Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown never lived up to expectations and weren’t healthy, but they weren’t awful.
Outlook: The running backs weren’t consistent, they weren’t healthy, and they disappeared at times, but the Michigan ground game still helped the team finish 25th in the nation in rushing. The quarterbacks had a lot to do with that, and they will be a big part of the show this year, but the backs will do their part. Shaw has the talent and potential to be terrific, and he’s not going to have to do it alone with other nice options to work with.
Unit Rating: 7.5


Projected Starters: Able to play in the slot or on the outside, sophomore Roy Roundtree is one of the team’s most versatile and dangerous targets. After making just two catches in the first eight games, he exploded over the final four outings with ten catches for 126 yards and a touchdown against Purdue and nine grabs for 116 yards against Ohio State. He might have only finished with 32 catches for 434 yards and three scores, but that was good enough to lead the team. A thin 6-0 and 169 pounds, he’s not a physical receiver, and he’s not necessarily a blazer, but he’s a well-rounded player who can make all the catches and run all the routes inside or out.

6-2, 193-pound junior Darryl Stonum will work on the outside if Roy Roundtree spends most of his time in the slot. One of the team’s top recruits a few years ago, Stonum was a great pickup for Rich Rodriguez with the potential to finally grow into a producer if he starts getting more passes thrown his way. He struggled as a true freshman with a ton of mistakes catching 14 passes for 176 yards, and he followed it up with 13 grabs for 199 yards and a touchdown before going four straight games late in the year without a grab. Used more as a kickoff returner, he has the speed and he has the talent, and now it has to shine through.

After getting his feet wet with a bigger role as a redshirt freshman, junior Kevin Koger grew into the starting tight end job last year making 16 catches for 220 yards and two scores. He’s a decent blocker with 6-4, 251-pound size, he’s good enough to be used down the field as a blocker as well as a receiver. With the upside to become a more dangerous weapon, he needs to stay healthy and he needs to get the ball thrown his way after catching just one pass over the final three games.

Projected Top Reserves: If Martavious Odoms is healthy, he’ll almost certainly end up starting somewhere and will be a part of three-wide sets. The 5-8, 173-pound speed receiver came up with 49 catches for 443 yards two years ago while serving as one of the team’s most dangerous kick and punt returners. However, last year he only caught 22 passes for 272 yards and a touchdown missing a bulk of time late in the year with a sprained knee, and he was hurt this offseason with a hamstring problem. He has yet to break out and make a slew of big plays as a receiver, but the potential is there.

6-1, 227-pound Junior Hemingway started nine times but he only made 16 catches for 268 yards and two touchdowns. While he’ll end up being a part of the starting mix, he has to get healthy (and stay healthy) after missing the first part of the offseason with a knee injury before getting sick. He has the size and he has the deep speed to create matchup problems, but the junior hasn’t been able to stay in one piece and he has to get more chances after averaging 16.8 yards per pop.

Senior Martell Webb has been in the tight end rotation for a few years and came up with four catches for 44 yards with a touchdown grab against Delaware State. Mostly a special teamer and a blocker, the 6-4, 257-pounder will once again be used as a backup while also pushing to time in two tight end sets.

Watch Out For … Roundtree. He’s the one receiver with the upside to bust out and become a No. 1, must-throw-to target in an offense that’ll butter its bread with the ground game. He might not have superior next-level skills, but he’s a talent who’d blow up in a better passing attack.
Strength: Experience. Greg Mathews might be gone, but in Roundtree, Odoms, Hemingway, Koger and Stonum, five of the top six receivers are back. They might not get a ton of passes their way, but they come up with big plays when they get their chances.
Weakness: Health and the offense. Can anyone stay in one piece? Versatility is a must for this group with so many nicks and dings, but the bigger issue for this group is an offense that simply doesn’t utilize the passing game enough. Again, put a player like Roundtree on Texas Tech and he’d go ballistic.
Outlook: Rich Rodriguez offenses (at least the newfangled spread version) simply don’t allow for receivers to go nuts, so it’s all about taking advantage of opportunities. As long as everyone can stay reasonably healthy, this veteran crew should be dangerous and could serve in more of a game-breaking role. The passing game averaged 12.6 yards per completion last year, and it could do far more this year with more seasoned passers working behind a veteran line.
Unit Rating: 7

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: The line has the potential to be a big improvement with four returning starters, but the one hole is at left tackle where Mark Ortmann is gone and redshirt freshman Taylor Lewan will get a long look unless sophomore Rocky Khoury moves over. At 6-8 and 283 pounds Lewis is very big and very long with phenomenal strength for his size. He has the long arms that can keep pass rushers on the outside, and he’s athletic enough to get on the move and make things happen down the field.

The anchor of the veteran front five will once again be senior Stephen Schilling, a 6-5, 303-pound veteran who started most of 2008 at right tackle and was a rock at left guard last year. He struggled in his time on the outside but has been excellent at times on the inside earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors last year. He has had an interesting career having issues with mono and a shoulder problem, but outside of a missed game against Ohio State two years ago he has been a rock.

Junior David Molk is a great talent who could be an all-star … if he stays healthy. The 6-2, 270-pounder isn’t all that big, but he’s a great athlete and he moves well. He can’t stay on the field suffering a foot injury last year and missing the last month of the season with a knee problem, but he’s expected to be all set to go by the start of the year. One of the nation’s top center recruits in 2007, he has been athletic and more than just solid whenever he has been in, but he can’t be counted on for a full 12 games.

Sophomore Patrick Omameh is a very strong, versatile lineman who started the last three games of the season at right guard but has just enough athleticism to move to tackle. He served as a backup at both tackle spots at times last year, but the 6-4, 293-pounder is better suited for the inside after adding close to 20 pounds to his frame.

Senior Perry Dorrestein went from being a good backup to a strong starter at right tackle who started eight of the last nine games. He has the size and the ability to play on the left side, but he’ll work on the right once he gets back healthy after being banged up this offseason. While he might not be an elite blocker, at 6-7 and 305 with decent experience, he’s good enough to rely on in pass protection.

Projected Top Reserves: There’s an outside chance that sophomore Rocky Khoury could see time at left tackle, but considering David Molk’s injury issues, he’s needed more at center. The 6-4, 291-pounder is 20 pounds bigger than Molk, and while he a little bit of experience, he got to work in the middle this offseason with the ones. He’s smart, was a top tackle prospect, and he’s versatile enough to see time in a variety of spots.

Working as the main backup at both left tackle and left guard, sophomore Ricky Barnum will be a key figure for the line. The 6-3, 282-pounder out of Florida at a four-star prospect and considered a possible center, where he could still end up playing. But he has proven to be good enough to handle himself at times at left tackle while strong enough to be used as a smallish, athletic guard.

With Perry Dorrestein hurting this offseason, 6-6, 305-pound junior Mark Huyge saw plenty of action after starting four times last year at right tackle while also seeing some starting action at right guard. While he wasn’t always a rock in pass protection, he’s physical and he’s good when he gets his hands on a defender. It wouldn’t be a shock if he ended up starting again, but he’ll be most valuable as a key reserve.

Watch Out For … the left tackle situation. It’s not like Ortmann was the next Orlando Pace, but he was a decent left tackle who went a bit beyond just being serviceable. This should be a stronger line that used its experience and time together to become a plus, but everything could break down if the pass protection isn’t there from the left side.
Strength: Experience. The Wolverines have been able to use the last two years to figure out what it’s doing under the Rich Rodriguez system, and now it all has to come together. Cohesion and consistency means everything to run this attack, and the line should be relatively tight.
Weakness: Pass protection. To be fair, this wasn’t all the fault of the line. With mobile freshmen under center who were trying to make plays while also trying to figure out what they were doing, keeping the quarterback clean wasn’t going to be easy. The quarterbacks are still young and they’re still mobile, and the line has to do even more to give them time.
Outlook: The line took the brunt of the blame for the offensive problems two years ago, but it improved last year and was excellent at times for the ground game. It wasn’t consistent and it was hardly the killer a Michigan line should be, but it wasn’t awful and it wasn’t necessarily the problem. Four starters return and there’s decent depth with enough backups that fit the system to hope for a decent rotation. Don’t be shocked if there’s another big step taken forward, even though there aren’t any superstars, outside of possibly Schilling, to work around.
Unit Rating: 7.5

- 2010 Michigan Preview | 2010 Michigan Offense
- 2010 Michigan Defense | 2010 Michigan Depth Chart
- Michigan Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006