Michigan Football: Wolverines Offense Could Be Must-See TV in 2013

Adam BiggersSenior Analyst IIJanuary 29, 2013

With Devin Gardner leading the way, Michigan's offense could make for plenty of excitement this fall.
With Devin Gardner leading the way, Michigan's offense could make for plenty of excitement this fall.Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The addition of 5-star running back Derrick Green isn't the only reason why the Michigan Wolverines offense will be one to fear in the Big Ten this fall. 

Michigan's scoring attack should be much more robust than it was a year ago, with or without the Hermitage High standout.

The focus will undoubtedly be on Green during the first few weeks, but there will be plenty of eyes affixed on junior quarterback Devin Gardner, who posted a 3-1 regular-season record in relief of starter Denard Robinson, who is bound for the NFL. 

Gardner commanded Michigan's offense with poise and maturity after shifting back to his duties as a signal-caller following a sting as a receiver. His athleticism is almost scary; he'll be a crucial component for coach Brady Hoke and offensive coordinator Al Borges' scheme in 2013. 

There are some who feel that Gardner could make a run at the Heisman Trophy within the next two years. Given the amount of competition around the country, that expectation may be a little on the lofty side. For now, peg Gardner as a candidate for Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year

That's an attainable goal, especially for a player who's had just five starts (including the Outback Bowl loss to South Carolina) during his college tenure. 

Jeremy Gallon will be another offensive asset for the Maize and Blue. Perhaps overlooked at times, Gallon's ability to make timely catches during do-or-die scenarios saved Michigan during more than a few instances this past season. 

And don't lose faith in will-be junior running back Thomas Rawls, a Flint native with 215 pounds of pure force propelling his 5'10" frame down the field. Although he wasn't spectacular during his sophomore session, Rawls could end up as one of the Big Ten's top No. 2 backs, assuming Green gets the starting nod from Borges and Hoke. 

 

 

Areas That Could See an Increase in Production and/or Efficiency

Rushing and Scoring

In 2012, the Wolverines ranked fifth in the Big Ten in scoring (29.8 points per game). While miles away from the run-and-shoot, wildly entertaining Rich Rodriguez-built offense (in terms of production), the Wolverines maintained respectability within the league due to their weaponized offense spearheaded by Denard Robinson. 

Scoring 40 or more points under Rodriguez meant little when Michigan gave up just as many points to the opposition. 

The Wolverines may not tilt the Big Ten sideways with flurries of touchdowns, but forecasting at least 33 points per outing in 2013 wouldn't be illogical. 

Think about it: With Devin Gardner leading the way, the Wolverines can now fully access their stable of capable of wide receivers. Whether by ground or by air, Gardner has a skill set that could lead to droves of points. 

Now that Derrick Green is in the mix, Michigan's running prowess should kick up a few notches this fall. The Wolverines averaged 183 rushing yards per game, but that measurement was heavily aided by Robinson, a world-class speedster who was good for about 150 when in "Shoelace" mode. 

Predicting at least 180 yards on the ground in 2013 wouldn't be out of the question. Michigan may or may not see an increase in total yards, but the efficiency in which those yards are produced could skyrocket thanks to a beefier offensive line and more experienced ball-carriers. 

Michigan rang up a respectable clip of 4.8 yards per tote in 2012. Thomas Rawls or Green could easily average closer to around 5.5 per carry given the rapid development of the offensive line. 

The Wolverines ran the ball 502 times in 2012, If Green and Rawls can do more with less, expect to see a much more efficient ground presence this fall. 

Throw in a healthy Toussaint, and Michigan will possess another potential big playmaker. 

Justice Hayes, a soon-to-be-junior, has the speed to make defenses pay. The former Grand Blanc Bobcats All-Stater could give Michigan's yards-per-carry average a boost by making most of six to eight opportunities each Saturday. 

Again, just food for thought, but the Wolverines offense appears to be primed to reach elite status in the Big Ten this fall. The possibilities seem endless when analyzing the Wolverines' core group of running backs. 

 

 

Output from Wideouts

This particular area of Michigan's offense could see a dramatic increase, not just a potentially subtle boost. 

Denard Robinson was never known as a passer; he was a running machine. Robinson's legs led to shows of athleticism each week, but Michigan's wide receivers were largely looked past because of lack of action. 

Given the circumstances, Jeremy Gallon had a dynamic year—a breakout year, if you will—in 2012. Pound-for-pound, apples-to-apples, Gallon was one of the best wideouts in the Big Ten. 

With Denard Robinson at quarterback, Gallon was lucky to finish a game with more than two catches. With Devin Gardner at the helm, Gallon's talents came to the forefront. He had 49 catches during his junior year, and 28 to 30 of those came while Gardner called the shots behind center. 

Expecting at least 60 grabs in 2013 would be accurate. Although Michigan has a handful of eager and talented youngsters waiting for their shot, it's safe to assume that Gallon will be the Wolverines' No. 1 option at wide receiver. 

At 5'8" and 187 pounds, Gallon doesn't have the pure size that some of Michigan's 6'0", 190-pound-or-better incoming talents possess. But Gallon showed that he's ready for the limelight. Big things come in small packages—or so they say—and Gallon definitely has the potential to live up to that cliche. 

Gallon's increase in output hinges on Gardner stepping up his game—and that's likely. Gardner has the arm to register 300-yard games on a weekly basis. But let's step back and be a tad more conservative: Even 250-260 each Saturday would be a welcome contribution. 

Speculating on who will or won't shine in 2013 is what the offseason is all about. However, overestimating a team's potential can often times leave fans disappointed. 

An objective, realistic view of Michigan's offense, however, suggests that the Wolverines will have one of the most well-rounded attacks in the Big Ten. 

Michigan has the pieces to construct a must-see offense in 2013—no doubt about that. 

 

Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81