It seems that everyone here has a hard-on for Tate Forcier and how much he is going to change the team this year. While I agree that he might be a difference maker, I would like to point out my top five concerns from last year that need to be addressed this year to guarantee a winning season.
5. Quarterback Play
Yes, being solid at QB is a major concern, but I've seen teams do better than 3-9 with a mediocre QB (See: Michigan State and Brian Hoyer. No offense, but my wife is an MSU fan, and even she can see that he's just not "good.").
Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan last year had moments of excellence—and I use the term loosely—but hours of ineptitude, and everyone was quick to point it out and place the blame on them. I'm not trying to downplay how terrible they are; I would just like to point out that a QB is only as good as the players around him.
That being said, am I excited to see what Forcier can do this upcoming season? You better believe it. I still argue that he won't stand a chance at turning the team around without the next four things coming together.
4. Proper play-calling and personnel in respective situations
This issue reared its head less toward the end of the season, but in the first few games I was tired of seeing Sam McGuffie slash to the sides on 3rd-and-1 or 2 or get stuffed when he tried to motor his undersized (by Big Ten standards) frame up the middle, especially when there was a perfectly capable Brandon Minor standing on the sidelines.
McGuffie getting stuffed on short-yardage situations was not only a momentum-killer but also ensured that an already tired defense would be on the field much longer than it should have been.
I think it finally sank in for Rich Rodriguez at the end of the season when McGuffie was banged up and Minor (6’1”, 214 lbs) took the field that he was a better short-yardage option than McGuffie (5’11”, 185 lbs). I'm not calling for RR's head, but he does have to earn my trust in certain areas before I'm totally sold on him.
3. The secondary allowing the 10+ yard pass
I don't care how often you stuff the run up the middle, to the sides, wherever. I don't care how well you cover the screen or the quick slant. It only takes one deep ball to drastically change the outcome of a game, and Michigan proved time and time again that it could not cover the skinny post or the flag route.
There seemed to always be some sort of miscommunication between the corners and safeties on who was supposed to pick up the receiver when, as illustrated by the Ohio State game. There is no way our secondary should be letting a true freshman exploit them like that.
If somebody doesn't step up this season and start shutting down the pass, prepare to be exposed by Terrelle Pryor and any other decent QB for a few more seasons.
2. Offensive Line...period.
Only having one returning starter on the O-line last year killed Michigan's offense. A bad QB can look mediocre and a mediocre QB can look good with enough protection and time.
Granted, this is not a pocket-passing offense, but when your offense is dug into a 3rd-and-9+ situation, you have to start looking downfield and get away from slants and screens. To do that, your QB needs time to go through his progression, and the receivers need time to get open.
I do believe, however, that this line will be coming in deeper this year and with the experience of a really bad season behind them to build on and should look infinitely better this year.
1. Ball Handling
I wish I had DVR so I could re-watch all last season's games and count how many times the ball carrier ran with the ball to the inside hand. It is FUNDAMENTAL. You learn it in peewee: You carry the ball with the hand closest to the sideline and farthest away from the defender so they can't strip it from you.
Anyone in my apartment complex probably heard me screaming that at least twice a game, and I'm sure my roommate got tired of hearing it. If this team is to succeed next year, it needs to handle the basics first and foremost.
It is my opinion that we will see a productive Michigan season if—and only if—these things are taken care of. Michigan does have a "soft" schedule, but I'm not going to make any predictions of what the record will be and who Michigan will/should beat, because I think anyone who followed the Wolverines last year knows that anything can happen on any given day.
I'm asking you:
What role do you see Denard Robinson playing next year? Are we going to see some dual QB plays being called? Maybe have him line up in the slot? Gadget plays? What do you think?
Of the O-linemen coming in (true freshmen, not redshirts), do you start any of them or do you redshirt? If so, which ones?
On a scale of 1-10, how much do you miss Zoltan Mesko already?
If you disagree with any of my points, let me know. I'm open to criticism. But don't come on my page and flame my article just because you're an Ohio State fan or a WVU fan that's still bitter about RR leaving.