Michigan's Uncertainty Creating Excitement
We've all heard about the offensive genius of Rich Rodriguez and the schemes he'll be bringing to Ann Arbor when they open the season against Utah, but what do we really know about Michigan?
We know that the Wolverines graduated their leading passer, rusher, two fantastic wide receivers, and their best linemen as well (all of which went to the NFL). Obviously, as magazines like Sports Illustrated and ESPN: The Magazine have pointed out, Michigan is expected to be weak this year.
They continue their Big Ten schedule, as usual, but with so many questions most expect them to finish 5-7, or even 6-6.
But there are a lot of people who are excited about this new Michigan team. We've all been hearing about the new strength and conditioning program that has put Wolverines in the best shape of their lives.
Coach Rodriguez has said how impressed he is with the incoming recruiting class, which may not be the most talented (though still top 20 in the nation), but has proved to be extremely versatile and athletic, a staple of the spread offense.
Players who once were featured at single positions will become much more flexible in the spread, and Michigan will be sure to spread the ball around much more this season.
In its own right, the spread offense is a powerful tool, as made obvious by its growing popularity over the last few years. Dozens of high schools and colleges alike have converted to the system, and who better to bring it to Michigan than the master Rich Rodriguez?
Michigan will be extremely talented this year, and while there may not be a Heisman candidate on the roster, the statistics will be there when the offense grows and the players really learn their positions. In the traditional, run hard, defense oriented Big Ten, a new program is going to emerge with a fast paced, high-octane offense.
Look what LSU did to OSU last year. While Les Miles doesn't run a spread, he utilizes many different players in different positions. No more pro-style offenses that defenses will be able to predict.
The no-huddle is fast, and hard to combat. With players spread across the field, cutting and slashing, even the finest defense coordinator will be pulling his hair out by the end of the game. Give Michigan a shot, and they will surely impress.
The Wolverines return talented running backs Carlos Brown, Brandon Minor, and Kevin Grady, and incoming freshmen Michael Cox and Sam McGuffie will surely add some flare to the ground game.
Greg Mathews is a solid wide receiver, and hopefully sophomore Junior Hemingway and freshman Daryl Stonum will provide the quarterback with some solid options at wide receiver.
As we know the most important position battle will be at the quarterback position. Whether Nick Sheridan, Steven Threet, or freshman Justin Feagin will take the reins is yet to be seen.
Threet appears to be the leader, but even Rodriguez is unsure of who will start, saying he'll be clear on a starter by game day, August 30. Whether the offense meshes or not is key, as the line only returns one starter after Justin Boren transferred to the rival Ohio State.
So what do we know? Michigan will be talented this year and they are going to play hard for their coaches. For The past few years Michigan has almost become complacent with the work they do, finishing No. 2 or No. 3 in the Big Ten and going to a respectable bowl game.
Rich Rodriguez has created an air of excitement in Ann Arbor. While a championship might not be in the cards this year or maybe even the next, look out, because the Big Ten is going to see something brand new. Ann Arbor is ready, and the nation better be as well.
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