2013 Outback Bowl: Breaking Down Michigan and South Carolina WRs
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
The potential matchups and one-man shows give enough reason to watch the 2013 Outback Bowl, but the 10th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks are much more than star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney; the Michigan Wolverines are made up of more than just Denard Robinson, too.
Clowney and Robinson have been the topics of conversation leading up to the Wolverines' New Year's Day date with the Gamecocks. But there are others on each team that are capable of influencing the outcome of Tuesday's showdown.
Wolverines receivers Jeremy Gallon and Roy Roundtree may not have the touchdown numbers of South Carolina stars Ace Sanders and Bruce Ellington, but they do compare favorably in terms of overall production.
Which team has better WR tandem?
Gallon: 40 catches, 684 yards (17.1 YPC) and two touchdowns (long of 71 yards)
Roundtree: 28 catches, 553 yards (19.8 YPC) and three touchdowns (long of 75)
Sanders: 36 catches, 439 (12.2 YPC) and seven touchdowns
Ellington: 38 catches, 564 yards (14.8 YPC) and six touchdowns
Click here for TheWolverine.com's audio interview with Sanders, who breaks down Michigan's defense.
"They fly around and make tackles," he said.
WR Advantage Goes To?
Ellington and Sanders have the speed and hands to turn a five-yard catch into a 50-, 60- or even 70-yard touchdown. Neither has done so this year, but Gallon and Roundtree have.
So, because of the production over potential rule, Michigan has to feel like it has a slight leg up over the Gamecocks in the big-play category.
Size won't really have an effect. Well, put it this way: The abundance of size won't come into play. Neither Sanders, Ellington or Gallon stands above 5'9". Roundtree is a towering 6'0".
Which WR will have the most impact in Outback Bowl?
The Wolverines and Gamecocks secondaries are similar in size, too. Skill and route running will be key since neither side has a 6'5" go-up-and-get-it receiver.
Gallon and Roundtree like to get in the mix with trick plays. While coach Brady Hoke and offensive coordinator Al Borges don't call for too many, they can be highly successful with Gallon and Roundtree combining with Robinson and Gardner on reverses, disguised screens and comeback routes.
South Carolina's offense is more of a traditional SEC set. The Gamecocks have the pro-style quarterbacks in their back pockets, so relying on sleight of hand isn't necessary. Shaw and Thompson both have the arms to target Sanders and Ellington down the field.
Sanders is a threat on special teams as a punt returner. If he's not effective as a receiver, it's entirely possible that he could break out for a few lengthy returns.
And that's where Michigan faces a challenge with Sanders—he's so versatile that devising a plan of how to stop him only makes sense.
Changing On-the-Fly Could Be Common for WRs
The quartet of receivers will surely have a say. Simply put, there are way too many 20-yard catches waiting happen for the Outback Bowl to lack some type of airshow.
Given the proper opportunities, the wideouts could flip the game on its head.
The fact that four quarterbacks could see action only adds to the allure of the Outback Bowl's stockpile of storylines. Both teams were efficient with either the No. 1 or No. 2 quarterback, so a catastrophic breakdown is unlikely.
Depending on the style, tempo and who's playing quarterback, both Michigan and South Carolina receivers could find themselves shifting across the field and testing improvisational skills. Shaw likes to throw on the run; so do Robinson and Gardner.
For Michigan to win, Gallon and Roundtree have to be established as legitimate deep-threat targets—doing so opens the field for runs from either Gardner or Robinson. Using speed along the perimeter should be one of Michigan's priorities.
Sanders and Ellington probably won't fish for balls over the middle, especially with sharks like Jake Ryan patrolling the area. Like Gallon, both are threats on the edges and thrive with the little space they need to detach themselves from defenders.
Sure, Robinson and Clowney are the headliners. But guys like Sanders and Gallon could end up being the hero New Year's Day.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81
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