So, as an alum from the class of 1999, needless to say, I love Michigan football. I grew up watching UM football in the 80’s and I have thought for a while about writing my own little blurb about our beloved winged-helmet warriors and I figured what better time than now? Some of you probably think I’m crazy. You say The Wolverines have endured two of the worst seasons in history. True.
You say the new coach has led the program to its first ever major violations. True – and not something that is forgotten, or taken lightly here. Michigan stands for excellence and integrity and we have displayed neither in our normal doses over the past two years.
However, I am of the firm belief that practice-gate will be a one-time thing for RichRod and the boys. I also believe the following:
2010 is the beginning of a golden era of Michigan football.
After watching the clips of practice on www.mgoblue.com, I can tell you this team is ready to explode back into Big Ten contention. The boys are playing fast and hard. Yes there are questions, but both the offense and the defense have looked impressive in the clips we’re seeing from practice. Today, we’re going to start by looking at the biggest reason why I believe Michigan is going to win a lot of games this year: The Offense.
I believe this offense will be absolutely explosive. Frankly, I’ll be surprised if we don’t average around 35 points per game. Why such unbridled optimism? In 2008, RR’s first season at the program, we averaged a measly 20.3 points a game and 290.8 yards per game. Last year, with a true freshman at the helm, and an unbelievable rash of constant injuries to our two featured running backs, those numbers jumped to 29.5 and 384.5 per game.
Despite everything, Michigan had the 25th ranked rushing attack in the nation in 2009. So, here are 5 reasons (and a couple of cool video clips) why you should be fired up about 2010 Michigan football:
Denard Robinson is ELECTRIC. Let’s start by putting to bed this nonsense that the starting QB battle is a tight race. Denard Robinson is Michigan’s starting quarterback. This kid is starting to blow up and will be a constant on Saturday evening Sportscenter highlights.
For months now, it’s been more and more apparent that he is the real deal. Denard’s teammates have constantly talked about him starting to become a special leader that the guys want to play for. In just about every interview where any player, offense or defense, is asked about the QB play, guys have been talking up Shoelace.
We all saw the 97 yard touchdown pass in the spring game. Have you seen the clips of fall practice? My favorite offensive play I’ve seen out of practice comes at the 1:06 mark of the following video: http://www.mgoblue.com/allaccess/?media=185299. Wow – talk about speed to BURN!!! He is going to flat out terrorize opposing defenses this year.
One huge key for this team is to cut way down on the turnovers. I believe that having Denard at the helm will help with this. He seems to be protecting the ball when flying around and also putting throws where only his receivers can get to them. Cutting waaaay down from last year’s constant barrage of turnovers will be a huge key to the season for these young Wolverines.
2. The offensive line has significantly more talent and depth than the last two years. This unit has the potential to be massively improved over last year’s up and down play. The return of a healthy David Molk at center will be a huge boost to the line’s overall continuity. Last year, the offense was clearly more cohesive when Molk was there to make the calls in the middle of the line. On each side of center, we have an excellent guard. Senior Steve Schilling is a former 5 star recruit who looks ready to be one of the best guards in the country and Patrick Omameh sounds like he has been steamrolling people in practice (he has put on about 50 pounds of muscle but says he’s as fast and agile as ever). Molk, Omameh, and Schilling make for an awesome – and very athletic - interior of the offensive line.
It may be a couple of weeks into the season, but be ready for redshirt frosh Taylor Lewan to win the starting job at the critical left tackle position. From the clips I’ve seen of practice so far, this guy is living up to the inevitable Jake Long comparisons. Check out this clip of him battling – and clearly frustrating - senior linebacker Jonas Mouton in practice – the play starts at the 3:24 mark mgoblue.com video: http://www.mgoblue.com/allaccess/?media=185536. PS Jonas – you gotta keep your cool in games – no foolish hands to the face penalties please. Anyway, Jake Long, uh, I mean Taylor Lewan, looks like he is going to get downright nasty with anyone not wearing maize and blue. From the sound of it, Omameh (who is from Clumsybus, OH!) has that same nasty streak at guard.
It sounds like Barwis’ legendary strength and conditioning program has these guys, as well as a few others ready to mash a lot of enemy defenders into the dirt. If you want more info on the offensive line, check out a great 2 part article by maize n brew Dave: http://www.maizenbrew.com/2010/8/16/1625822/2010-michigan-football-preview.
3. Running backs: Wow – we have a freakin stable of running backs with a lot of different skill sets!! Assuming Mike Shaw made it through his academic requirements this summer, he will be the most experienced back on the roster. He is a total speed demon, but has yet to fully explode onto the college football scene. As an upper-classman this year, Shaw may be ready to open it up. Mike Cox is a big physical back who has good speed and is very difficult to tackle. It’s also his third year in the program, so it’s time for MC to step up his game big time.
Fitzgerald Toussaint and Vincent Smith are both in their second year in the program, they are both healthy, and both have the ability to be deadly in the wide open spaces that RichRod’s offense creates. Frosh Stephen Hopkins looks like he could be a beast down on the goal line and short yardage if he doesn’t redshirt. Lots of options at running back and probably the most interesting overall position battle on the offense.
4. Receivers? We have a grip of receivers, a few of whom may be ready to have monster breakout years. Martavius Odoms is no doubt going to benefit from another year under Barwis’ program. He has shown flashes of the ability to be a mega pesk from the slot receiver position. RR has said that Darryl Stonum, who is also a dangerous kickoff returner, is looking awesome. Roy Roundtree and Junior Hemmingway should also find themselves ripping off chunks of yardage as the play action opens ups some massive spaces on the back end of the defense.
5. Even tight end is a position of strength. I’ve liked tight end Kevin Koger’s game for a while now. He’s shown an ability to be able to haul in some catches in tight traffic. Both he and senior Martell Webb will be able to pick up plenty of yardage after the catch when they occupy the underneath space that the deep receivers are going to clear out.
So there you have it. This offense is ready to step it up BIG TIME this year. Like I said, look for 35+ points per game this year. We’re going to see tons of big plays, speed for days, and lots of different weapons being utilized.
Next up: The Defense. What impact will losing T-Woolfe have - and what does Michigan have to do to cope with the loss.
Until next time, GO BLUE!