Michigan Wolverines: Three Predictions for 2010 (Offense)
1) Michigan will actually run a three quarterback system
While it might be prudent to redshirt Devin Gardner and separate him and Tate Forcier by two years, don't expect that to happen in 2010.
To be clear, it's unlikely that Tate Forcier will lose his starting job early next season (probably not at any point), as he has the most experience at quarterback, and starting fresh is a disaster.
However, there are two key elements that should lead us to believe Gardner will NOT redshirt. Michigan Coach Rich Rodriguez:
A) Has stated several times that he is a firm believer in competition, particularly at quarterback, and...
B) Was quoted as saying he wasn't going to redshirt Denard Robinson in 2009 because "he was too talented to sit the bench."
Therefore, since Rod is an offensive-minded coach in a critical year, it is only logical to think he will play the very best kids in order to win at all costs. At no other position does this ring more true than quarterback.
Gardner will not be as good as Forcier yet nor is he as fast as Robinson, but he does have the best natural combination of size, speed, strength, arm strength, durability and raw athleticism.
He is more smooth in his reads than Shoelace Robinson, so will probably overtake him in 2010 at some point.
Expect Tate Forcier to start and be a much better overall quarterback in terms of size, speed and decision-making ability.
Simply put, he will not quietly sit back, as he may have eventual All-Conference and even All-American potential himself. He's the guy and it is his job to lose.
However, Robinson will take snaps and be a bigger threat in the run game next season, and Gardner will see the field early and ever increasingly. Expect Gardner to give both Robinson and Forcier a push as the season progresses, but his passing skills won't be enough to be the true full-time starter over Tate Forcier as a freshman.
Tate Forcier starts. Denard and Devin play early, with their roles evolving as the season passes. Michigan will frequently play all three at certain points, and therefore run a three-quarterback system (technically speaking).
2) A dynamic running back will emerge
Vincent Smith's ACL injury will hold him out this spring, and create a serious competition between the running backs. Several candidates will arise including Michael Shaw, Michael Cox, with possibly Teric Jones and Stephen Hopkins among others.
Although all of these backs provide versatility, my predicition is that one will become dominant right away in 2010. Certainly, the coaches expect Smith to be ready for the fall, and he showed flashes of quickness, vision and patience hitting holes.
If he is healthy he will most likely take the lead early because of experience, and he is a super pass-catcher out of the backfield. Although I like Smith, one could make a case for almost every back on the roster.
Cox has a lot of similarities to Carlos Brown, with Brandon Minor's size. He's big, very fast and runs with a slashing style that can lead to tearing off long runs.
Cox appears to be missing consistency and experience, but Minor got tougher as his career progressed so Cox has a shot at being dynamic.
Shaw has attitude, and great top-end speed, but doesn't have ideal size nor durability. Teric Jones might make a move back to running back, and freshman Stephen Hopkins (6'1" 235 lbs. 4.52 40 yard dash) will be an interesting story this spring as he enrolls early.
Your best bet will be Fitzgerald Toussaint, however, if you want to see a dynamic running back in 2010. He blends good size (205 lbs.) with low pad level at 5'9", and has officially recorded a 10.59 100 meter time.
He has an impressive recruiting reputation (4 star, short, small school and no camps) and a killer highlight tape that shows explosive suddeness and burst, with great lateral quickness and change of direction skills. He runs low to the ground, he's shifty, and he runs very well in traffic.
He has an extra gear, especially coming out of cuts. Not only does he seem to be able to make multiple moves without losing much in transition, when he turns the corner he has the top-end track speed to break away long touchdown runs in college.
Bottom line: If you are looking for a dynamo, Toussaint is Slaton-esque, and has been stellar in practice, and showed good toughness and power. My money is on Toussaint followed by Denard Robinson as the most dynamic runners. Or vise versa.
3) Roy Roundtree will become a 1,000 yard receiver
Michigan hasn't had a 1,000 yard receiver under Rich Rodriguez. Of course, all of this fuels speculation/accusation that the offense doesn't facilitate 1,000 yard or 'go to' receivers.
Roy Roundtree was fantastic during the last four games, and if healthy will absolutely cross the 1,000 yard barrier. No doubt about it.
Michigan will have phenomenal depth and talent both outside and in the slot with Martavious Odoms, Darryl Stonum, Junior Hemingway, Je'ron Stokes, Kelvin Grady, Roy Roundtree, Terrence Robinson and possibly Denard Robinson, along with early enrollees Ricardo Miller, Jerald Robinson etc. Tight End has no shortage of talent either.
With a deeper and more talented corps, you can still anticipate well over 50 catches from Roundtree, as well as 1,000 yards receiving.
Next: Michigan's defensive predictions!
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