Michigan Football: Over, Under Stat Projections for Devin Funchess in 2014
As a freshman, Devin Funchess showed glimpses of greatness. As a sophomore, he solidified himself as one of the Big Ten’s premier pass-catching threats. Today, Funchess, who is now known as one of the country’s best, could be months away from being a first-rounder in the 2015 NFL draft.
After being asked about the hype surrounding Funchess’ potential pro status and if it surprised him, Wolverines coach Brady Hoke tilted his head, paused for a brief moment, smiled and said: “No. He’s physically gifted, you know. But he has to keep maturing as a player…”
According to WalterFootball.com, the former Farmington Hills Harrison phenom is the No. 1-ranked draft-eligible tight end. However, as of last year, he’s now considered a wide receiver by collegiate standards.
Statistically, Funchess’ numbers have been on the rapid ascent. Of course, switching to wideout helped matters, but his experience is beginning to pay dividends.
In 2013, Funchess’ 49 catches were second to Jeremy Gallon’s 89. Now that Gallon’s gone, the offense, which returns just three receivers with 15 or more catches, will need to see next-level Funchess; Sunday Funchess—The real Devin Funchess. Judging by his progression, expecting anything short of a national-level, SI-cover-bound type of star would be aiming far too low.
This slideshow will examine key statistics such as receptions, total yards and, among others, touchdowns, before setting the over/under on what will probably be Funchess’ final year in Ann Arbor.
In 2012, Funchess, who had a somewhat limited role within the offense for most of the season, tallied 15 catches. In 2013, his total rocketed to 49.
So, projecting somewhere in the range of 65 to 70 in 2014 wouldn't be too wild. For fun's sake, let's set the O/U at 67 catches for this season.
Why? Well, as mentioned in the opening slide, the Wolverines don't have a ton of returning production, so it only makes sense to assume that Funchess will fill that void in 2014. However, he's no Jeremy Gallon, who was a magician when it came to getting open and making catches in tight spaces. Plus, 89 catches are a lot, especially during a 12-game season. It would take a clip of nearly eight grabs per game to get that output.
In 2013, Funchess had a pair of seven- and pair of six-catch games...and a bunch more with a bunch less.
A total of 67 would require between five and six catches per game, which seems attainable for Funchess, who'll certainly be quarterback Devin Gardner's go-to option.
So, his catches should go through the roof. But what about his touchdowns? Sure, they'll increase. But it may not be as big of a vault as some would expect.
Surprisingly enough, Funchess only topped his freshman total of five scores by one as a sophomore. He also had a trio of two-game scoreless droughts. As the primary receiving target for Gardner, Funchess must score more than once every so often (and more consistently) if Team 135 is going contend for a league championship.
Setting the O/U at 10 seems to be the right thing to do. This one may come back to bite me in the end, but so be it. If he's the real-deal, NFL-bound stallion that Michigan's waiting for, 10 touchdowns may simply be a base. Teen totals would be the ideal, but highly unlikely, scenario.
A year ago, Funchess was named as the Big Ten's top tight end. This season, he could earn the title of best receiver.
Take a peek back to his 2013 numbers, and you'll see a respectable total of 748 yards, second to Gallon's 1,373. In short, Funchess, along with the other receivers, will have to make up 600 yards in order to maintain the same pace as 2013.
Of course, improving is the name of the game, so compensating for that gap and then some should be on everyone's mind.
Seeing Funchess hit 1,000 isn't that much of a stretch. Really, it's only about 250 more than his sophomore total. Think of the difference as a few average-turned-great quarters. An extra catch here, an extra 30 or 40 yards there—it all adds up in the end.
To make things interesting, the O/U will be set at 1,038. There is logic behind the madness. Assume Funchess hits 67 catches and averages 15.5 yards per grab—his career mark is just about that—and then multiply.
Other Fun (chess) Calls
In 2013, Funchess had just two games of 100 yards or better; 151 in a 42-13 victory over Minnesota, and 112 in a 43-40 (4OT) loss to Penn State. He's obviously capable of much more, so let's set the O/U at four games. After all, he'll have to add on such a performance once or twice to get to the projected total of 1,038 yards.
As mentioned earlier, Funchess had a trio of two-game scoreless droughts and was held scoreless seven times. Again, this is something that can't happen, especially if he's to have the season that's being forecast. With that being said, the O/U will be streamlined—he won't have more than three scoreless games and won't have a single two-game drought.
Feel free to get technical with your O/U predictions in the comments section.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81