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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Quickies: Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Moves, Junior's got moves...
The Low Down:
Wide-receiver is arguably Michigan's second strongest unit coming back behind in my opinion, the offensive line. Last year this unit produced. The receivers accounted for 81% of the caught passes on the team. Unfortunately for the tight ends a Rich Rodriguez offense isn't too kind to them. The tight ends aka, Kevin Koger and Martell Webb accounted for just 19 receptions.

Roy Roundtree led the way for the group, tallying 935 yds and 7 td's. 10 different players with WR next to their name on the roster caught at least a ball last season. The threat of Denard's legs opened up many of opportunities for the receivers. What a great thing it was to see Denard take 2 steps towards the line of scrimmage and just dump it off to an open wide receiver.. Would you like a reminder? I do, I do...
Let's keep this k?
This group did do one thing particularly well outside of being wide open and benefiting from Denard Robinson. They blocked down field creating running lanes. The best example would be, Roy Roundtree on the infamous 87 yd TD run against ND. I can think of many more examples, but I am too lazy to type them and too lazy to look up clips on youtube so please... Take my word for it.

I wish dropped balls was statistic because, dropping passes was the one lingering problem this group has had for a couple years. Drops can not only kill drives but kill momentum for a team.

1 Year Later:
Every player, save Martell Webb  who contributed last year was expected to come back this year. Everyone did, except Darryl Stonum and Je'Ron Stokes. Stokes as mentioned here on the blog left the program during fall camp. Stonum had a problem this past year with booze cruisin, and will be sitting this year out with a coaching staff induced red-shirt. If he does what he's supposed to, we'll see him on the field next year for the maize and blue.

The general consensus when the coaching staff came in was that this offense would look like Michigan of past and it would be 3 yds and a cloud a dust. No need for slot ninjas. However last year under Borges, San Diego State ran a good amount of 3-4 wide and I expect Michigan to do the same this year. This is one of the position groups where I consider Michigan to be DEEP... I don't like how the official depth chart looked when it came out because Martavious Odoms was down near the bottom and I don't expect that to be the case. Odoms is consistent catching passes and an outstanding blocker and as far as I am concerned the more dreads on the field the better.

When we line up in the power formations and are only using 2 WR's expect Roy Roundtree and Junior Hemingway to be on the field. In a 3 WR set expect those two paired with mixtures of Odoms, Gallon, and Grady. Jeremy Gallon has come in for some substantial fall camp hype. He didn't show much last year, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed on him, hopefully he found whatever it was, that made him a highly sought after 4* coming out of HS. Jerald Robinson will be another back-up to keep an eye on as he has height, good speed, and has also gotten praise from the coaching staff during spring camp and that praise has even carried over to fall camp as well.

Timing, timing, timing... This passing attack will be predicated on the receivers and quarterbacks being on the same page at all time. Roundtree on the timing aspect of this offense...

“You have to have the timing down in this offense because if the timing is off, then the quarterback is off,” junior receiver Roy Roundtree said. “Our receivers want the ball, so we got to get open and keep the timing good for Denard.
Where is that timing at now?
“We’re getting there,” he said. “We still have two more weeks to get ready.”
As a former receiver myself, if you can run good routes, you can run good routes. Much of what is going to allow the passing attack to be successful, will be on chemistry. Things may be a little sketchy early in the season but from all report the QB's, receivers, and ends put in time this summer and I am sure have carried that over to fall camp in preparing for the season. Call it a gut feeling but, Borges will use some of those "Denard up the middle, just kidding, he's passing over your head" plays that were so effective last year.

Expectations: What is them?
 Roy Roundtree benefited much last season from Denard's feet possibly more than anyone. For that reason, I won't be pegging him as Michigan's top receiver this year.  Junior Hemingway should have a big season. He's a big body that can make plays down the field. Tight-end hasn't been touched on too much here, but Kevin Koger will have a good season as well. Triple what he did last year is my expectation. Denard has said that he's feeling more comfortable checking down and not trying to force balls,  Koger should benefit, coming in for around 500-600 yds and a few TD's. Roundtree will get his and the ninjas will see more use than the mass media will lead you to believe. As long as the guys can avoid drops that have plagued them over the past couple years things should be "all good in the hood" as the kids say these days...

Blog Note: Sorry if these last couple preview posts are a little sloppy in content. My work schedule is crazy and I wanted to get them in before doing a quick season preview and a Western preview up on the board. Up next will be the O-line. As Always, Go Blue.

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