Michigan Football: Players Who Will Benefit Most from Hire of Doug Nussmeier

Sebastian Lena@SP7988Analyst IJanuary 10, 2014

Nussmeier's presence with the Wolverines should pay dividends sooner rather than later.
Nussmeier's presence with the Wolverines should pay dividends sooner rather than later.Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Prepare to see the Michigan Wolverines offense unlike you’ve ever seen it in 2014.

When head coach Brady Hoke announced the firing of three-year offensive coordinator Al Borges on Wednesday, via ESPN’s Chantel Jennings, Michigan fans began to panic. But when the team hired former Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier as Borges’ replacement, via CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman, it all made sense.

Talk about one step back, two steps forward.

In just two seasons in Tuscaloosa, the 43-year-old Nussmeier led an offensive renaissance. During 2012—his first season with the Tide—he helped the team set school records for offensive touchdowns (68), total points (542), total offense (6,237) and passing touchdowns (31).

After watching Borges put the Wolverines offense in reverse—No. 87 in total offense in 2013—Hoke will be hoping that Nussmeier can work his same magic in Ann Arbor.

Here are the players who will benefit the most by his arrival.


Running Backs

Green will have to step up in 2014.
Green will have to step up in 2014.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

While at Alabama, Nussmeier really helped the rushing attack take flight.

In 2012, the two-headed monster of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon combined for 2,430 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns. Last year, Yeldon meshed with Kenyan Drake to go for 1,929 yards and 22 scores.

At Michigan, expect Nussmeier to try and aid the growths of second-year running backs Derrick Green (83 CAR, 270 YDS, 2 TD) and De’Veon Smith (26 CAR, 117 YDS).

He’ll certainly have his work cut out for him, as the Wolverines rushing attack ranked No. 103 in the nation (125.7 YPG). Furthermore, the unit ranked No. 115 in yards per carry (3.28).

On the bright side, Michigan did rank No. 42 in rushing touchdowns (27). 

Nussmeier will look to continue that success in finding the end zone. However, it will be his job to do it in a more efficient manner.

Expect fewer read- and zone-read option plays and more power running from the Wolverines in 2014.



Can Funchess be a consistent threat in the passing game?
Can Funchess be a consistent threat in the passing game?Leon Halip/Getty Images

Under Nussmeier’s tutelage, the Tide’s Amari Cooper has grown into one of the SEC’s most feared wide receivers.

In 2012, Cooper thrived, catching 59 passes for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. He added 45 grabs for 736 yards and four scores last season.

Now, Nussmeier will look to make the most with the talent in Michigan’s receiving corp.

The big name to keep an eye on is tight end Devin Funchess (49 REC, 748 YDS, 6 TD).

After an impressive start to the season, the sophomore began to slow down. In fact, he only caught a total of seven passes over the Wolverines' final three games.

As the go-to-guy in the passing game, Funchess has to learn to become more consistent.

Throw in incoming 247Sports composite 4-star wide receivers Drake Harris and Freddy Canteen, Nussmeier will have plenty of pieces to work with.



Can Gardner emerge as a true pocket passer?
Can Gardner emerge as a true pocket passer?Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

This is where the new hire is expected to have the biggest impact.

A former quarterback himself, Nussmeier single-handedly transformed Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron from a game manager into one of the nation’s top quarterbacks. After decent numbers in 2011 (66.8 CMP%, 2,634 YDS, 16 TD, 5 INT), McCarron had a career year in 2012 in Nussmeier’s first season in Tuscaloosa, throwing for 2,933 yards, 30 touchdowns and just three interceptions on 67.2 percent passing.

Can Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner undergo that same transformation? Or will it be Shane Morris?

On a team wanting a true pro-style quarterback, Gardner doesn’t really fit that bill. Morris, on the other hand, is a true pocket passer.

But given the fact that Gardner accounted for a large majority of the Wolverines offense, chances are high that Nussmeier will be working primarily with No. 98. However, expect Morris to also learn a lot and be ready to step in whenever he is needed—whether it is next season or the year after.

All in all, Nussmeier should have Michigan’s offense ready to surprise the college football world in 2014.


All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of CFBstats.com.

For complete coverage and everything college football, you can reach Sebastian on FacebookTwitter and via email at Sebastian.LenaBR@gmail.com.