Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tune-in to WCBN Sports today as Michigan takes on the Huskies of Michigan Tech, in the consolation game of the Great Lakes Invitational.
Game: Michigan Tech Huskies vs Michigan Wolverines
Time: 4 PM
Venue: Joe Louis Arena (Detroit, MI)
Broadcast Link: YouCastr
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Tune-in to WCBN Sports today as Michigan takes on the Engineers of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in the nightcap of the opening day of the Great Lakes Invitational, with the winner getting the winner of the Michigan Tech/Michigan State battle in the opening game.
Game: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers vs Michigan Wolverines
Time: 730 PM
Venue: Joe Louis Arena (Detroit, MI)
Broadcast Link: YouCastr
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Tune-in to WCBN Sports today as Michigan takes on the Golden Lions of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, in a battle of SWAC and Big Ten teams.
Game: UAPB Golden Lions at Michigan Wolverines
Time: 2 PM
Venue: Crisler Arena (Ann Arbor, MI)
Broadcast Link: YouCastr
Thursday, December 3, 2009
What can I say? Our defense was horrible last year, and the outlook for the future, especially without Warren, makes next year seem incredibly grim. Without much argument, I feel it safe to say that the three best players on the Michigan defense this fall were Brandon Graham, Stevie Brown, and Donovan Warren. Notice a pattern? All three will be gone next year. The cupboard has essentially gone from bare to beyond bare, in fact, I'm not even sure if there is a cupboard anymore.
The Coaching Staff
I don't have to be an insider to tell you that Rich Rodriguez and his staff need to have a winning record next year to keep their jobs. I also don't need to be a football connoisseur to tell you that defense wins games. My question: how does Rich Rodriguez plan on winning 8 games (an approximate of what he will need to keep his job) without any defense so to speak of? I hate to sound too pessimistic, but next year when Michigan trots out onto the field, the secondary will be ugly. In fact, do we even know who will be in the secondary? Without Warren, there are no more absolutes. While I'll admit that I'm sure that Troy Woolfolk will be a starter, I can't tell you for certain at what position.
It's funny that I fear for a man who is about to make millions over the next couple of years, but I truly do. News has been broken that Warren recently applied to the NFL draft committee to see his approximate draft position, but if Donovan Warren believes any rumors about how highly touted he is as a prospect then he is a fool. I'm sure that soon the rumor mill will begin to spew an idea about Warren being project to go early second round......sure, and Alan Branch was going to be drafted early first round (actual result: early second round) and Ernest Shazor was set to go late first/early second (actual result: undrafted). Both came into the draft as juniors, and both made bad decisions.
Warren is a very talented player, don't get me wrong, but I strongly believe that he has not reached the apex of his game, and should, therefore, stay in school. Call me crazy, but I don't think that NFL tams are salivating over the idea of acquiring a player who was not even the best player on a defense that got carved up by the likes of Joey Elliott, Nick Tolzien, and Kirk Cousins.
Stay in school Donovan: If not for yourself, then for the sake of your coaches, your classmates, your teammates, and, oh yeah, my sanity.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tune-in to WCBN Sports tonight as the Michigan Wolverines look to bounce back from a rough holiday weekend in Orlando against the 4-2 Boston College Eagles, in a game with big ramifications for the Challenge. The Big Ten and ACC are tied at 3 games a piece going into tonight, and all games will have an impact on whether the Big Ten can win the Challenge for the first time ever.
Game: Boston College Eagles at Michigan Wolverines
Time: 7:35 P.M.
Venue: Crisler Arena (Ann Arbor, MI)
Broadcast Link: YouCastr
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Tune-in to WCBN Sports tonight as the unranked Michigan Wolverines look to continue the momentum from their 6-0 victory over Minnesota in game 2 of the College Hockey Showcase against the 16th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers, fresh off their own whooping of Sparty, 7-3.
Game: #16 Wisconsin Badgers at Michigan Wolverines
Time: 7:35 P.M.
Venue: Yost Ice Arena (Ann Arbor, MI)
Broadcast Link: YouCastr
Friday, November 27, 2009
Tune-in to WCBN Sports tonight as the unranked Michigan Wolverines look for redemption against fellow struggling traditional power, the Minnesota Golden Gophers
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Lauren: Did you attend the Ohio State game Saturday? How do you feel about the loss? Did you think we were going to win?
Kenny: Yes I was at the game, and I feel like it was the best we’ve played all year. We made some mistakes on offense, but of course I thought we had a really good chance of winning. I feel like you can never doubt a team’s abilities. There’s always a chance you can win a game. Plus it was their senior show so spirits were high, I honestly thought we had a chance.
L: How did your season go on a personal note? What areas of your game did you improve upon and which areas do you see yourself needing to improve in the future?
K: Our record this season was 6/5. We made the play offs, but we lost in the first round. I was really sick so I wasn’t able to finish out the season, or play in the playoff game. On a personal note I had a disappointing season. We expected more of ourselves. We expected to win more games, but I did have fun playing my last year of high school football. [As far as improvements go] I know I have to get bigger, faster, and stronger. I need to improve on all levels to compete with the best players in college football.
L: Are you planning on enrolling early?
K: Actually I can’t [enroll early] because I have to take another math class so I’ll just be coming to campus in June, but I’m definitely excited to come.
L: What made you choose Michigan, especially after the struggles of last year?
K: Going to Michigan has been kind of a dream for me. I’ve wanted to play there since I was six. The coaches are really nice too, and the program’s just a good program overall.
L: You're a pretty versatile defensive player. Where have the Michigan coaches talked to you about playing? Do you think you’ll be stepping in right away and contributing as a freshman?
K: The coaches told me that most likely I’ll be playing defensive end. I played liner backer and defensive in high school. I’m unsure about redshirting. The coaches told me to be ready to play because there is space for me to play if I show them that I’m good enough. I guess it all depends on how well I do this summer and at camp.
L: Do Michigan's struggles this year have any impact on your recruitment? What kind of season are you hoping for next year?
K: Michigan’s struggles haven’t had a negative impact on my recruiting because I’ve always wanted to go there. I think kids go where they feel comfortable. I think it has little to do with how well the team is doing, especially if it’s a school with an established program. I think next year will be great. Each year coach Rod keeps improving, and it takes time to take a team to the next level like he’s trying to do.
L: Are there any other recruits that you talk to that Michigan is trying to secure a commitment from? How much of a recruiting role do you personally play?
K: I’ve talked to kids like Cullen Christian. I think me talking to him kinda helps because it’s always good to look at things from another person’s perspective.
L: For Michigan fans concerned about the defensive recruiting this year i.e. fewer high rated players than usual, what do you think of the recruiting services? Do you think too much attention is paid to the star rankings in general?
K: I don’t really worry about rankings. For some kids it is a big deal to be ranked highly, but not for me because I know what I can do and I know no matter what I do I’m gonna work hard.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Also, if you would like to listen to Michigan Volleyball take on Indiana go to MGoBlue.com and listen live as we have some WCBN crew on hand as usual for the call. Andrew Goddeeris will lead the call there.
Hopefully some Michigan team can win tonight. I agree with Andrew...Ohio State week started when the third quarter ended today.
Friday, November 13, 2009
We will have the Volleyball game at 7 pm vs. Purdue. We will take that up until the puck drops at 7:35 pm but you can here the entire broadcast on mgoblue.com.
Then Hockey vs. rival Michigan State at 7:35 pm Live from Yost. We will have that broadcast until the show ends at 10 pm. We will be broadcasting through YouCastr.com.
Another packed night on WCBN.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Bill Rothwell will be leading the crew in the studio and for the first half hour you can hear as the Michigan Men's Basketball team tips off their 2009-2010 campaign in the exhibition opener vs. DII Wayne State. We will play the first half hour of the basketball game, before sending it to Yost. You can listen to the entire basketball broadcast LIVE through YouCastr.com here.
But Yost is where the most important action will take place tonight as the #4 Wolverines take on the #1 Miami Redhawks. The puck drops at 7:35 PM and we will broadcast the game LIVE over 88.3 WCBN until our show ends at 10 PM. If the game goes longer than our show, you can listen to the conclusion of the game LIVE through YouCastr.com.
Bill will have the intermission reports from the studio along with whoever joins him there.
Action packed night on WCBN.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Throughout the show we will preview tomorrow's Football game between the Wolverines and Illinois.
We will also briefly discuss Michigan Basketball, the World Series, the NBA, the NFL, and our weekly college football picks.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Darius Morris, the most highly touted of the Michigan freshmen, looked a little nervous, but none the less solid. Morris showed promise during a Maize vs. Blue scrimmage when he ran several fast breaks and showcased an ability to find open men, most of the time DeShawn Sims, underneath the basket.
Blake McLimans can shoot. Although the 6'10" freshman out of the Worcester Academy in Massachusetts was not a big recruit by any means, McLimans proved to be impressive in drills when he hit, by my count, 9 out of 11 jump shots from just inside the three point line. McLimans, it should be noted, also proved to be a solid rebounder in the scrimmage.
Ben Cronin still cannot run. I know it's disheartening to hear that all of the 7 foot center's mobility issues cannot be pinned on his left hip injury last year, but the fact that Cronin still resembles a tree on the basketball court is the truth. Cronin still runs with a limp/waddle and by my guess will never see significant playing time with this squad. He was last in wind sprints, last to get into team huddles at mid court during practice, and will probably be the last big man to come off the bench come season play.
There have been changes in physique on some players on the Wolverines. Andrew and I both agreed that Laval Lucas-Perry looked like he had cut a little bit of his baby fat off from last year and seemed toned, and, in my opinion, ready for a big year with Michigan. I also believe that Zack Novak has put on a little bit of muscle, but, since I know he does a lot of work in the paint, maybe that's just wishful thinking.
Manny Harris is in a league of his his own- literally. Very rarely did Andrew and I see Michigan's most valuable piece even run drills with the team, as most of the time, Manny was working on his jumpshot by "stopping and popping" over on the side hoops of Chrisler arena. Harris did not participate in the Maize vs. Blue scrimmage and seemed relatively uninvolved in any activities that the rest of the team was doing. I guess that's just Manny being Manny.
My last impression, and I'll admit that this one did not fully come together until about 7:00pm Saturday, is that John Beilein is, without a doubt, the best athletics coach that the University of Michigan has in any sport. Beilein's practice was directed, controlled, and efficient, and I have no doubt that Michigan, under the lead of Beilein, will once again be a tournament team.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
ALSO, be sure to call in to the show to comment on Michigan sports or compete in our Family Feud Trivia (8 P.M.): 734-763-3500
Thursday, October 22, 2009
TONIGHT: Michigan Hockey's home opener against the Niagara Purple Eagles (7:35 P.M.) on YouCastr.com
TOMORROW: Game of the Week (7-10 PM) on 88.3 WCBN-FM Ann Arbor -- Call in to the show at 734-763-3500 to talk Michigan sports or answer Family Feud trivia questions in the 8 o' clock hour
SATURDAY: Michigan Football takes on #13 Penn St. (3:30) LIVE from the Big House on YouCastr.com
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Michigan is favored by 37 points today.
Rushi Vyas, Steve Pietrus, Roberto Jimenez, and Michael Feinberg will have the call.
You can listen to the broadcast here through YouCastr.com.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Cliff Keen is sold out and ESPN2 is in the building as Michigan tries to do what no team has done in over two years - take down the mighty Nittany Lions.
LISTEN LIVE or 88.3 WCBN FM Ann Arbor.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
Tune in to hear me:
Debunk the myth that Iowa's win over Penn State was all that impressive.
Argue that Iowa's defense is very solid, but not the impenetrable force of nature that everyone is making them out to be.
And completely debunk Jeremy's assertion that Ricky Stanzi is a good, reliable QB (Kirk Cousins is much better).
Brian Cook from MGoBlog may be joining us in the first hour via telephone.
We will preview tomorrow's showdown with Iowa, talk College Football, MLB, NFL, Hockey, and maybe some NBA.
We also might have trivia/"He said what?" in the eight o'clock hour.
If you would like to call in and join us on the air during the show the number is 734-763-3500.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Andrew Seid, Roberto, Tyler, and Jillian will have the call.
You can listen to the broadcast here on youcastr.com.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
It is that time of the year again; October skies, leaves changing and Michigan Hockey! Red Berenson’s team will start the new season with two exhibition games against the United States National Developmental Program Under-18 Team and University of Windsor. The game to watch should be the one against the Under-18 team because not only is it against top college recruits, but five of them are currently committed to Michigan’s 2010 class. Jack Campbell (1) is a stud waiting to be Michigan’s starting goaltender and could challenge Hogan for playing time as soon as next year. Defensemen Jon Merrill (15) and Kevin Clare (4) will be replacing seniors Chris Summers (4) and Steve Kampfer (5) with their size and skill. Jacob Fallon (8) and Luke Moffatt (7) will be adding more scoring potential to an already potent Michigan offense.
There will be a couple of lineup battles going into the season. The top two centers will be Louie Caprousso (29) and Matt Rust (19), and David Wolberg (25) along with Carl Hagelin (12) will be wingers on the top two lines. Robbie Czarnik(27), Chris Brown(10), Kevin Lynch(11), Ben Winnett(16), and Brian Lebler (14) will fight it out for the final two wing positions. Freshman Lindsay Sparks (39) (Yes it can be a guy’s name) and Jeff Rohrkemper (22) will try show Coach Berenson they have the defensive reliability to be on the 3rd or 4th line. On the backend, Greg Pateryn(2), Scooter Vaughan(3), and Lee Moffie(13) will battle it out for the final defensive pairing and not end up in the 7th defenseman role.
The Wolverines will be challenged by America’s top junior program as the USDP has the talent and speed to keep up with Michigan for the first two periods. The third period will show Michigan experience and superior scoring skills. It will be a good test for this Michigan with high expectations. Prediction: 5-2 Michigan over U.S. under-18.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Now that Billy Sauer has graduated, it is all on Bryan Hogan. The positive about that statement is Hogan has the ability and experience to start all of Michigan games. He already has 37 games under his belt, 31 occurring last year. Hogan was the solid rock Coach Berenson was looking for. After an early season battle with Sauer for playing time, Hogan emerged as the starter. He finished the year with a sparkling 1.97 goals against average. Though ending on a soft second goal in the NCAA semi-regional, Bryan Hogan hopes to lead his team 30 minutes down I-94 to the frozen four in Detroit. The negative about the statement is the depth. All of three minutes of hockey have been played by Shawn Hunwick at Michigan. Once a recruit for Adrian (a division 3 school), Hunwick is not big and definitely unproven. Recently added Patrick Summers, younger brother of team captain Chris, will serve as the third string. If Hogan is sidelined for any significant time, Michigan will be in considerable trouble.
Defensemen (Projected lines)
1. 4-Summers 6- Burlon
2. 7-Langlias 5-Kampfer
3. 34-Llwellyen 2-Pateryn
Extra -3-Vaughan, 13-Moffie, 20-Elmblad
The strength of the team should be the back end. Anchoring the defense will be seniors Chris Summers and Steve Kampfer. They had 17 and 13 points respectively last season and amazingly neither took a single penalty last season. Hopefully with an injury free season from Kampfer and sophomore Brandon Burlon, the powerplay unit will improve on their disappointing 15.8 percent from last year. Freshman Lee Moffie will also get into the mix for playing the point. Junior Tristin Llwellyen will be the bruiser among the group and will be relied on to clear the front of the net. Greg Patryn and Scooter Vaughan will fight it out for the 6th spot, and Eric Elmblad brings more depth.
Forwards (Projected lines) From LW to RW
1. 25-Wohlberg 29-Caprousso 27-Czarnik
2. 12-Hagelin 19-Rust 10-Brown
3. 14-Lebler 21-Treais 16-Winnett
4. 11-Lynch 23-Glendening 15-Ciraulo
Extra- 39-Sparks, 22-Rohrkemper
After a season where the wolverine offense averaged 3.54 goals per game, they would like to keep that up this season. The biggest lost in the off season was their leading point getter, Aaron Palushaj. He was the player who “stirred the drink” by moving the puck and set up his teammates for goals. Continued improvements from David Wohlberg and Robbie Czarnik along with the freshmen forwards will help make up for the departed Palushaj. Louie Caprousso (24 goals), Matt Rust (11 goals), and Carl Hagelin (13 goals) will be the key goal scorers on the team. Senior Brian Lebler and Junior Ben Winnett look to also add to their roles on the team to become more than forwards on the third line. Look for one of them to break the 10 goal mark. (I personally look for Lebler to do it more than Winnett) Freshman Chris Brown and Kevin Lynch have the size (6’2 and 6’1 respectively) and talent to be offensive threats, but the question is, when will that occur? Look for one of the two to contribute right way while the other comes along slowly. In the checking role, Luke Glendening, A.J. Treais, Anthony Ciraulo will center the bottom two lines. Glendening showed last year he is an effective checker and can score the timely goal. Jeff Rohrkemper and Lindsay Sparks will, for lack of a better term, spark the 4th line when injuries occur. The Penalty kill unit will be lead by the fantastic duo of Rust and Hagelin. They score half the teams shorthanded goals (3) last season. Wohlberg, Glendening, Czarnik, Ciraulo and Treais will add depth to the penalty kill forwards.
If the Wolverines can continue their scoring power, they will live up to their pre-season #1 ranking in the CCHA.
Friday, September 25, 2009
We'll cover the world of sports the rest of the show, perhaps with some trivia later on. We'll end with our college football picks for the week. You can see which games we will be picking and the standings on the bar to the right.
You can tune your dial to 88.3 FM in Ann Arbor OR listen to us live online here.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Maize and Blog is delighted to bring you a special interview with Inkster High School QB Devin Gardner, the number 1 ranked QB prospect in the country, and current Michigan commit. Special Recruiting Correspondent and Rivals.com contributor (and current Michigan sophomore) Lauren Winfrey talked to Devin about his game, his season, recruiting rankings, and playing right away at Michigan.
Now that the season is underway, what expectations do you have for yourself as well as your team?
Now that the season is underway, what expectations do you have for yourself as well as your team?
Answer: “I would like to improve not only as a quarterback, but as a football player overall. I also want to win a state championship.”
What are you looking forward to most this season?
Answer: “I am looking forward to playing all of the out of state teams this season, while proving that Inkster is a really good team by winning a state championship.”
The list of out of state teams that the Inkster Vikings will face off against this season includes:
St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio)
St. Ignatius (Cleveland, Ohio)
Steubenville (Steubenville, Ohio)
What do you still need to improve on as a player?
Answer: “Everything. I want to be perfect and since perfection is impossible to achieve, I will work everyday as hard as I can to improve on everything until I am as close to perfection as possible.”
What’s your record so far this season?
Answer: “1-2. So far we’ve played Pioneer (L) ,East Kentwood (L), and St. Edwards (W).”
What are you doing to prepare for your next game? Who’s the game against?
Answer: “I’m practicing, watching film, and studying my opponent. Our next game is against Highland Park (Friday September 25 at Highland Park High).”
Do you feel slighted by Ohio State’s lack of an early offer?
Answer: “I don’t feel slighted at all.”
Did that play a role in your commitment to Michigan, or were you always leaning more toward Michigan?
Answer: “No. I didn’t always want to go to Michigan and the lack of an early offer from Ohio State was never a factor, I just wanted to go to the school that was best for me.”
Answer: “No. I didn’t always want to go to Michigan and the lack of an early offer from Ohio State was never a factor, I just wanted to go to the school that was best for me.”
Rivals.com has you pegged as the number 1 quarterback of any style in the country. Do you feel any added pressure to go out and prove you deserve that ranking?
Answer: “No. I just wanna win football games and whether I’m ranked number one or not I’m still gonna be the same football player, but it is nice to be so highly ranked.”
Do you think recruits in general pay too much attention to rankings?
Answer: “Definitely, because whether you’re highly ranked or not you still have to believe in yourself and your abilities to be the best player you can be—the rankings alone don’t make the player.”
There's a perception that "dual-threat" quarterbacks don't have as good a chance making it to the NFL and that "pro-style" quarterbacks do. You've obviously committed to Rich Rodriguez's spread offense - do you feel it gives you just as good a shot to make the NFL than any other offense?
Answer: “Yes, because I’m going to be the same player, no matter what style of offense I have to run, and I’ll always work on my game.”
Obviously it's early, but Tate Forcier has done pretty well for Michigan so far in the 2009 season. Does his performance have any impact on your commitment?
Answer: “No. I knew Tate was a good quarterback before he started playing for Michigan, and I expected him to do well.”
How do you feel about possibly ‘red-shirting’?
Answer: “I’m gonna do my best to prevent it by showing the coaches that I am too good of a player to sit out.”
What do you think about claims that Michigan State has dominated in-state recruiting in recent years?
Answer: “I don’t think they have dominated ‘in-state’ recruiting. Some people gauge recruiting statistics based off of how highly ranked a player is (on various websites, in the media, etc.), as a result the players that aren’t ranked as high don’t receive as much attention, but they’re still very good players who are being recruited just the same.”
Lastly, what keeps you motivated?
Answer: “The nay sayers—the people who count me out of the QB race at Michigan when I haven’t even stepped foot on the field.”
Saturday, September 19, 2009
You can listen live here.
Be sure to tune into the volleyball game on mgoblue.com following the conclusion of the football game.
Thanks and Go Blue!
Friday, September 18, 2009
MGoBlog's Brian Cook will be joining us on Game of the Week at 7 PM today.
Our show goes from 7-10 PM and we will have Brian on from 7-7:30 PM, the Michigan Volleyball game at 7:30 PM and we will talk college football, NFL, MLB, and all major sports news.
You can listen on 88.3 FM in the Ann Arbor area, or live online here.
We will have full coverage of the Michigan football game and volleyball game tomorrow.
Check out for links to the football broadcast on the blog and volleyball on mgoblue.com.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
If you are a sports fan and currently enrolled as a student at the University, drop by WCBN sports department's mass meeting tomorrow evening at 6 PM in the lobby of the Student Activities Building.
Meet others involved and learn how to get on the air in the very near future.
Again: Wednesday Sept. 16th 6 PM-Lobby of the Student Activities Building (across from the CUBE)
If you have any questions please email Rushi at email@example.com OR Jeremy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Monday, September 7, 2009
Brian from MGOBLOG will join us at 5 PM. All show we will talk about the Western game, college football in general, Michigan Volleyball!, perhaps some NFL and MLB, and then preview the Notre Dame game.
Of course we will be talking Michigan when Brian joins us at 5 PM complete with our weekly college football picks.
Here's what's on tap for our station the rest of the week:
Wednesday Sept. 9th: Andrew Seid and company will be broadcasting the volleyball game on mgoblue.com. WCBN will be the official voice of Michigan volleyball this year. Michigan volleyball is currently ranked at 7th in the country (highest ranking ever) and is 5-0 on the season including a win over #3 Nebraska (biggest win in program history).
Friday Sept. 11th: Two volleyball games as a part of the "Michigan Challenge." One at 12:30 PM and one at 7:30 PM. Will broadcast through MGoBlue.com, and it is YTD if we will be on the WCBN sports stream (still waiting on equipment).
Saturday Sept. 12th: We will be streaming the football game LIVE either through youcastr.com or the WCBN sports stream. We are still waiting on our new equipment so hopefully that comes in sooner than later.
Also: We will broadcast the volleyball game on MGoBlue.com at 12:30 PM, before the ND game, and the volleyball game at 7:30 PM post football.
Busy weekend coming up for us. We'd love it if you could provide us company by tuning in.
(Current U of M undergraduate students: If you are interested in joining the sports department at WCBN, come check out the WCBN table at festifall this Thursday.)
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Free Press Article Reaction
2009 Schedule Breakdown
The Rich Rodriguez Argument
Western Michigan Preview
Week One College Football Picks
Friday, September 4, 2009
Zoltan Mesko and his 43 yard punting average will make him the Ray Guy Award winner.
Now for the questionable:
#92 Jason Olesnavage, a 6'6" walk on is going to be the kicker. In practice he has been very good lately knocking every field goal through the uprights backing up to around 50 yard range. But that was practice. We'll have to see how he handles the pressure of a big game. Behind him is RS Junior #43 Bryan Wright who has a heck of a leg, but wildly inconsistent accuracy. Tied with him for the backup spot is true freshman #34 Brendan Gibbons from Florida. Gibbons was Rodriguez's scholarship guy. He's from Florida and is a more accurate kicker than Wright. If Olesnavage struggles then Gibbons will probably take his place. I actually expect Olesnavage to do just fine from what I've seen of him in practice. Bryan Wright will handle kickoff duties which should work out well with his strong leg.
Now for the obvious:
Odoms, Mathews, and Terrence Robinson are slated to return punts and they are in that order on the depth chart. Odoms could be dangerous if he HELD ONTO THE BALL.
Cissoko, Odoms, and Grady are on the depth chart to return kicks and they are in that order on the depth chart. All could be dangerous if they HELD ONTO THE BALL.
Simply catching the ball will be a huge step up from last year when Michigan put the ball on the turf an astounding 38 times. Catch the damn ball.
Preseason Grade: B-; Zoltan is saving this because it is so hard to put last season's disaster of returning kicks out of my mind.
For our predictions on the season, check out our football season podcast to be posted shortly by Jeremy.
Last season's offense was a disaster. I do not want to spend much time on it so here's the summary. Quarterbacks: Terrible; O-line: Terrible; Backfield: Injured and no blocking; Receivers: Bad QB play, no chance to make plays, turned the ball over on special teams. All of this led to an offense worse than I could have imagined. We should have known since Rich Rod is bluntly honest and almost always looked frustrated and claimed the offense was not up to speed during last fall's camp. But I chose to ignore the signs and naively expected an ok offense. Needless to say I could not have been farther from the truth. Time to move on.
The good news this year is that Rodriguez has seemed relatively happy after each practice and has been impressed with the way the offense has come along. Again, with other coaches this might be coach speak, but Rodriguez has proven to genuinely express his opinions on the team. Couple this with the fact that the entire offensive line is back with a year under its belt in the system, the depth has vastly improved, the backs and receivers are talented, and at least two talented QBs are on the roster, and this offense should actually be pretty good.
This offense is based around speed and getting playmakers the ball in open space. Michigan now has some relatively experienced, fast playmakers, two mobile quarterbacks, and a serviceable offensive line to give those guys time to make plays. While the youth at quarterback will lead to inevitable mistakes, there should be many less mistakes than we saw a year ago.
After last year, nobody wants to see #8 Nick Sheridan get any more snaps. Sheridan's numbers were god awful completing just 46% of his passes for just 2 TDs to 5 INTs in eight games played. Threet at least had more TDs that INTs throughout the year with 9:7. Coaches, however, maintain that Sheridan is a viable option at quarterback and that he has vastly improved from last year. While I'm sure Sheridan has the best knowledge of the system out of the three QBs (Sheridan, #5 Forcier, and #16 Robinson), one must take into account the ability of a quarterback to execute the offense against good competition under pressure. As far as talent and physical ability, Forcier and Robinson are way above Sheridan. From the few bits of practices that I have seen, Sheridan has improved his throwing ability. But it still lacks the pop that Forcier's throws have and even Robinson's throws. Forcier does have a confidence about him and arm strength and accuracy that Sheridan does not even come close to. Even Robinson has surprised many with his ability to throw the ball, in addition to being the fastest (or 2nd fastest) player on the team. His tendency from the first week of camp to overthrow receivers in the flats has diminished greatly and he is much more accurate now.
Still, perhaps Sheridan's decision making has kept him in this race. We will see Sheridan get snaps on Saturday, but we now know Tate will get the first snap of the game and likely the first drive or two. Due to Forcier's physical abilities, accuracy, and confidence many expect Tate to win the job. I agree with that assessment. However, Forcier still does not have the knowledge of the playbook that Sheridan has. This is evident in practice in that Smith still has to criticize Forcier of not going through his progressions in walk-throughs while Sheridan is often correcting his teammates throughout. In Forcier's final year of high school, his completion percentage went down from 77% to 63% and interceptions went up from 5 as a junior to 15 as a senior. He did lose a lot of talent around him, but those still are somewhat alarming to me. It seemed that his final year of high school saw him with an increased likelihood of taking risks through the air. If Forcier struggles with decision-making and starts to turn the ball over, do not be surprised to see Sheridan get increased playing time.
And oh yeah, Denard "Shoelace" Robinson. The lightning fast QB who also has an arm is in the mix. While many might assume he was a run first QB, he was far from it. His completion percentage in high school was below 50%, but part of that may be because he threw the ball an awful lot. For his career, the speedy Robinson had over 4700 yards passing to just 1300 yards rushing in 3 years as a starter. His senior year, Robinson threw for over 1800 yards while rushing for just over 500 yards. The main concern with his passing is accuracy with a senior year completion percentage of just 43%. My opinion on Denard is he will play in every game (barring-injury) but probably not as the full time starter. His speed and talent is just too great to keep off the field. As far as managing the game at the QB slot, I do not believe he could do as great a job as Tate just yet. It is just my opinion, but the fact that Forcier has been here 4-5 months longer, has the most accurate arm, and still can run the ball a bit just makes him the better game-manager at this point in time. Rich Rod insists that Robinson is taking reps as any other quarterback and is learning to run the offense. I do not doubt that he is. However, with Forcier as the leader as "game-manager" Rodriguez and the staff are not going to let Robinson stand idly on the sidelines throughout each game. From Robinson's high school numbers, I'm actually a bit concerned that he may try to pass too much even when he has a chance to break a big run. Hopefully he trusts his instincts and the coaches ensure that he uses that speed. Since Rich Rod asserts that all three QBs will play against Western, I expect Robinson will have a few drives as "the guy" as well. But, Forcier's mix of physical abilities and knowledge of the offense will win him the job. Robinson will still play every game and the coaches have a chance to create a great dynamic between the two, IMO. I believe Sheridan will end up being like another coach on the sidelines and waiting in the wings just in case Forcier goes down.
The lack of experience is the obvious concern here. Forcier and Robinson will make poor decisions at times during the season. The key is that neither of them tries to do too much. Forcier has said all the right things in that he says his only job is to "manage the offense" and not try to do too much. However, Forcier has a swagger about him that makes me believe he will force some ill-advised passes down field from time to time. Still that's better than the floating ducks Sheridan lofted up at times a year ago. So the freshmen will make mistakes. But to what extent can they minimize them? The coaching staff and teammates of the freshman QBs have to find a way to keep Forcier and Robinson relatively relaxed throughout the year. Judging from the last practice on Wednesday, this team does seem to be very relaxed and loose as well as very tight. This will go a long way to keeping Forcier and Robinson down to Earth and realistic about when to go for big plays and when to settle for less. But as Rich Rod says, we will not know until we see them in a game.
Preseason QB Grade: C+. Forcier and Robinson alone greatly increase the talent of this unit from a year ago. Last year was a disaster, but the fact that Rodriguez now has two of his own guys here (highly touted guys at that) will give this team a much higher ability to strike big plays. But they are freshmen and the uncertainty that comes with that means this position is questionable. Sheridan will play early in the season, but barring injury I expect him to be more of a coach as the year goes on (at least I hope so). David Cone's general suckiness brings this unit out of B range and into the Cs. I know he won't play, but why is he still on scholarship?
The quarterbacks will not be able to do anything without a drastically improved O-line. Last year's injury-riddled, depthless, inexperienced unit was the main reason for Michigan's offensive troubles last year. The QBs were not great, but they never really had time to show what they could do because the O-line was a sieve. This season, every one is back with a year under their belt, Schilling is at his natural position (Guard) and the addition of the talented redshirt freshman adds actual depth which was nowhere to be found last season. At the beginning of camp, I was shocked to see the great shape that all the linemen were in. Tim McAvoy was the only player with any sort of a gut and he is now injured and likely would not have started. Everyone else looked lean, quicker, and a little stronger. This should be a vastly improved unit, but not quite great.
The two tackles really struggled a year ago. #71 Mark Ortmann and #72 Mark Huyge are the starters at LT and RT respectively. Neither one is a great talent. However, both can prove to be serviceable this year after another year of Barwis workouts and having a solidified unit around them. Ortmann started every game last year and was expected to be the starter this year. He is a fifth year senior who was shaky last season, but came along and was decent as the season progressed. Huyge is a bit of a flier as a third year sophomore. Most people expected redshirt freshman and Rodriguez recruit #65 Patrick Omameh to win the job for RT. But Huyge really came along throughout camp and appears to have earned the job, at least for now. That means one of two things. Either Huyge has really stepped up his game and will be a solid option at RT or Omameh is not as good as we expected him to be. The coaches have praised Omameh and his development though making the latter unlikely. So, the optimist in me is saying Huyge will be solid and I am going with the optimist in me. Omameh should play plenty this year and provide very solid depth. If Huyge struggles at all then Omameh will be able to fill in his shoes. At LT, #79 Perry Dorrestein is the backup to Ortmann. Dorrestein started four games at the spot last year and was not very terrible in relation to last year's line (he was still pretty bad). He is big and was pretty slow a year ago. While he looks to be in better shape now, he probably will only play extensively if Ortmann gets hurt. The tackle spots seem alot more certain this year, but again they are not great. There will be times where they get beat, but those times should be less numerous than last season.
#52 Stephen Schilling may finally blossom into the lineman many have been expecting him to be. He is now at his most natural spot at LG after spending the last few years shuffling between tackle and guard spending most of his time at tackle. He is the most talented lineman for the Wolverines and is starting for the third straight year. Behind him is some actual depth this year. Redshirt freshmen #56 Ricky Barnum and #57 Elliott Mealer are both totally inexperienced, but very talented. They will both see limited action throughout the season, but hopefully Schilling can stay healthy so neither is forced into a full time starting role. Ideally, Barnum and Mealer would get a few reps each Saturday and slowly develop to where they can contribute on a larger scale next season.
To the right of Schilling, at center is second year starter #50 David Molk. Molk was forced into a role he should not have been playing a year ago. However, he probably benefited from the experience as a full time starter. He took some bumps and bruises especially early last season. He is an extremely hard worker and has bulked up a little this year. Molk has always put up big numbers in the weight room, holding seven S&C records for O-linemen, but it was obvious his lack of bulk and knowledge of how to use the strength was lacking a year ago. He holds the program record for squat by squatting 625 pounds, but that strength did not seem to translate to the field. A seasoned Molk should be much better this year, but as with the rest of the line, not quite great yet. I expect to see far less of Molk being shoved around as we saw last year. He should be able to hold his own much more consistently and be better able to use his strength. Behind him is another talented redshirt freshman in #63 Rocko Khoury. Ideally the coaches would like Molk to stay healthy while slowly working Khoury into some gametime reps. A Molk injury would not be good as Khoury is not ready to start yet. Moosman would then have to slide to center therefore reshuffling the line. That could be a big detriment to continuity.
Rounding out the interior linemen is right guard #60 David Moosman. Moosman was solid at times last season, but as with the rest of the line he was inconsistent. Out of all the lineman last year though, Moosman struck me as perhaps the least erratic along with Schilling. Moosman was for the most part a solid but not great player on the O-line last year. With that year of experience he may take a step up into "good" status. He had some trouble getting to the second level last year and that will have to improve if Michigan is to make the most of their great backfield. Moosman is pretty versatile on the line and if Molk gets injured, chances are he could slide to center with one of the freshman taking his guard spot. Hopefully this does not come to pass, though as guard is Moosman's more natural position. Listed behind Moosman is #74 John Ferrara. Ferrara switched from DT to O-line last year due to the scarcity of depth. Of course, now Michigan lacks depth on the D-line but the coaches have elected to keep Ferrara on offense. Ferrara was not good last year, but for a guy who had never played O-line even in high school, he showed some promise in his five starts. He will see limited action this year, but will probably not see extensive playing time unless the team has injuries. I also would not be surprised to see Mealer and Barnum get some time at right guard in relief of Moosman.
Preseason O-line Grade: B. This unit was awful last year, but alot of that had to do with the constant injuries and shuffling of the lineup. If the unit stays healthier this year, they will actually be able to build some continuity. With veteran starters and young talent behind them, I think the line will be very solid this year. They will not be perfect and opposing defenses will get into the backfield from time to time, but hopefully far less than last year. These linemen appear to be in perfect shape for the Rich Rod zone blocking scheme that requires some mobility. I think this will lead to a much better running game for Michigan.
#4 Brandon Minor is now the guy to take hold of this team. After coming on very strong in the second half of last season, despite never being 100% healthy, many are expecting Minor to have a huge year behind the improved O-line. Unfortunately, his health may still prevent him from doing that. He has had a nagging ankle injury throughout camp and will not start this Saturday. He is expected to play, but probably not as much as was thought. Even though Michigan is really deep at running back, a healthy Minor with a solid O-line is poised for a huge year. Hopefully he gets back to 100% quickly and then stays there for a change. Minor averaged 5.1 ypc last season with a terrible offensive line and while being banged up. If healthy he will go over 1000 yards rushing on the year and challenge for 1st team All Big Ten. His combination of power, at 218 pounds, and deceptive speed will be perfect for the Big Ten in the spread and shred. Rich Rodriguez found this out last season against Penn State. Hopefully Minor is healthy enough for us to see more of that.
If he is not healthy, though, Michigan should be ok. #23 Carlos Brown will get the start against Western and also has the chance to put up give numbers IF he stays healthy. With Carlos, the IF is ginormous. He has not been healthy for an entire year at any point in his career. Right now he is 100%. If he can stay that way and Minor gets back to full health, they could be the best one-two punch backfield in the Big Ten along with Saine and Herron at O-State. Brown got his one start last season against NW and rushed for 115 yards. But that was pretty much his entire production for the year as he finished with 122 yards. Hopefully Brown can stay healthy as we all remember is 100 yard games in 2007. Brown is known for his speed, but also has good strength. He will be an interesting back who Michigan can use to manage the clock and at other times get him the ball in open field to showcase his speed.
Behind those two are two very talented young backs. Sophomore #20 Mike Shaw started a couple games a year ago despite being banged up for much of the season. He finished the year with 215 yards averaging 5.1 yards per carry. His best performance was at Minnesota where he had season highs in carries, yardage, and ypc. He had 8 carries for 71 yards at 8.9 ypc. He was not even 100% healthy that game. Shaw's key skills are his speed and elusiveness. I am not sure he is an every down back, at least not yet. But Michigan will probably get him a few carries each game and Shaw should be able to strike some long runs as he did a year ago even though he claims he was injured and would never have been caught from behind as he was in those runs. Shaw had surgery for a sports hernia in the spring and therefore missed much of the spring. He says he is back to full health and Michigan will find a way to get him the ball whether at back or at slot a couple times a game.
Surprisingly listed ahead of Shaw on the death chart is diminutive freshman #2 Vincent Smith. Standing at 5'6" Smith's quickness and "slipperiness" is what stands out. Many have seen the drill from camp where Smith somehow twisted his way out of what seemed to be a sure tackle or two, moving his body in ways no human should be able to. Smith is no doubt a "big play" back who Michigan will try to get the ball to in open space to showcase his quickness. Smith will play situationally in every game and will have a chance to make a big impression. He will play Saturday, perhaps more than Shaw, and will certainly bring the crowd to its feet a few times this season.
Overall, the tailbacks will be very fun to watch and if Minor and Brown stay healthy, this could be one of the top units in the conference. With a true freshman at quarterback, a solid running game will be critical to minimize the pressure the guys feel to force the ball downfield. If Michigan can have success on the ground early in games, it will take a lot of pressure off of whoever is the quarterback. This should lead to minimizing turnovers which were a huge problem last year. Of course they all need to hold onto the football, but none of these guys have been disastrous at carrying the ball lately.
The fullback position is also a strength for Michigan with #44 Mark Moundros as the starter. Moundros has been a block first fullback, but Rodriguez and the coaches rewarded him twice last year in the redzone giving him a rushing TD and a reception TD. Moundros has really developed into a good lead blocker for Michigan. He is not quite up to the status of the great Dudley, but he is a valuable blocking asset for the team. While many are sick of #24 Kevin Grady and his seemingly constant troubles, the coaches say he has been working very hard. That is why he is still on the team and now he is a fullback. I am very curious to see Grady play fullback and actually think he could be quite good. Grady is the strongest back on the team holding backfield records for bench and squat. He is also a huge 5'9" 230 pounds. If he has improved his blocking, he may actually end up seeing the field quite a bit this season. If he holds onto the ball, Michigan may give it to him a few times and he is a much more explosive and dangerous player than Moundros. While Moundros is the guy, I think it's something to watch for and see if Grady does start seeing the field.
Preseason Running Backs Grade: A-. Yes I am may be a little too high on the running backs, but this grade is assuming everyone is fully healthy. With an improved offensive line I really like this group. It also might be foolish of me to assume they will stay healthy given the track record of Minor, Brown, and even Shaw. If there are some injuries, this unit will go back to average in the B range. But when fully healthy there are just too many really good weapons back here and a back in Minor who is one of the best when healthy.
Receivers and Tight Ends:
While no one target really stands out as a go-to guy, Michigan has an absolute plethora of options to go to in the spread. Starting at outside receiver, #13 Greg Mathews is the top guy. He has yet to establish himself as a great receiver and go-to man, but he has been consistent. And last year, you cannot blame Mathews for the terrible QB play. Matthews ended up as the team's 2nd leading receiver with 409 yards on 35 receptions in 11 games. Now, he has an accurate quarterback, albeit a freshman one in Forcier. Forcier will have at least some time to throw. Mathews will see more balls and will have a chance to establish himself as a top tier receiver. I am not sure that he is at that level, but he is a solid receiver and will have chances to show he is more. On the other side, #21 Junior Hemingway has taken the starting job over #22 Darryl Stonum. Hemingway received a medical redshirt last season after coming down with mono for the remaining 8 games of the season. However, remember in the Utah game Hemingway had 6 catches for 79 yards and a score. If Hemingway was healthy last year maybe there would be no question that he should be a starter. It appears that it is still a close competition between Hemingway and Stonum though for the starting job and I expect both to get starts at the position. At practice on Wednesday, Stonum was playfully talking trash to Hemingway during the receivers' drills. Coach Dews heard him and jokingly said something along the lines of, "Keep talking Darryl. Get in his head. You're going to take his job right?" So it seems they are still battling. In Mathews, Hemingway, and Stonum, Michigan has three legitimate outside receivers who can all play for possession or go long for the deep ball. Having those three experienced guys should really help the development of Forcier and Robinson as they should be reliable targets in the ten to fifteen yard range. #12 Roy Roundtree is listed as a slot receiver, but coaches have stated he plays both outside and inside. Roundtree will probably get a few reps at outside receiver this season given his success in the spring and the depth at slot. #82 LaTerryal Savoy is listed as Hemingway's backup, but does anyone really expect him to get significant time? He is now a fifth year senior who has never cracked the starting lineup except for one game last year in which he did not play too much throughout. His career has been a disappointment. With his 6'3" size coming out of high school he was at least expected to become a decent outside target. It never really materialized. #18 James Rogers played a little bit last season making his first career reception against Illinois. He should not play too much if Hemingway, Stonum, and Mathews are healthy. One guy to watch out for is true freshman #6 Je'ron Stokes. The coaches have praised the high school All-American throughout camp and he is currently listed at third on the depth chart at X receiver (Mathews spot). My guess is that the coaches would actually like to redshirt him, but will play him if they see it necessary. We will find out more about the coaches' plans if he plays on Saturday. So there is quite a bit of depth at this spot. Again, nobody has asserted themselves as a go-to guy just yet. But there are a bunch of solid options and chances are that one or two guys will at least step up and prove to have great seasons. I expect one of Mathews, Hemingway, or Stonum to emerge as a great deep threat this year.
The slot position also has alot of options. Rodriguez will sometimes have two slots in the game at the same time and that is a good thing given the depth. The top guy is #9 Martavious Odoms who was the team's leading receiver as a true freshman last year. Odoms proved to be a pretty good receiver last year given the circumstances (no QB and bad O-line). The team likes to get the ball to Odoms quickly in the flats or send him on that wheel route deep. Odoms' quickness is what makes him so dangerous. This year, opponents will be more prepared for Odoms and expect them to get defenders to him much quicker thereby preventing him from making plays in the open field. I expect Odoms to have another good year and be able to go down field a little more with Forcier at the helm. He had pretty good hands a year ago (on offense; on special teams his hands turned to rock) and being a reliable target will help the freshman QBs. The execution needs to get much better on the bubble screens though. It will help having Forcier throwing the ball since he throws much more accurate screen passes than Threet. But Michigan needs to cut down on the negative yardage plays and alot of that was from those passes to Odoms. A good QB will really help fix those problems. Behind Odoms is a big surprise with former basketball player #19 Kelvin Grady moving up to 2nd on the depth chart. He made a splash early in fall camp with the mgoblue.com play of the day with a one-handed grab. Rodriguez really loves his speed and insists Grady is going to play alot this year. Grady played running back at East Grand Rapids a few years ago. As a senior he rushed for over 2000 yards and 28 TDs. Grady is fast. Michigan will look to get him the ball on screens or slants and let him run really really fast after that. And there's more good talent at slot still with #7 Terrence Robinson next on the depth chart. Robinson was actually slated to start ahead of Odoms last season until a leg injury sustained in fall camp kept him out for the entire year. As a senior in high school, Robinson played quarterback in a wildcat type system rushing for over 2100 yards and 29 TDs. It is yet to be seen if he has the same agility and speed as he did before the injury. He will see some action, but not as much as Grady and Odoms early on. If one of them struggles or if he proves to be better than expected when he gets reps, Robinson could work his way up the depth chart. As mentioned above, #12 Roy Roundtree will play both slot and outside receiver. After his excellent spring game it should be fun to watch Roundtree and he provides yet another legitimate dangerous target for the Wolverines. Some of Michigan's backs will also get some action at the slot in different formations for the Wolverines. I especially expect to see this with Shaw and Vincent Smith. Both are smaller backs with quickness that is ideal for the slot. We saw Shaw there last season and he was temporarily shifted there in the offseason. With Stonum, Hemingway, Mathews and the four guys on the depth chart at slot, we are already at seven solid options in the passing attack not including the running backs.
Though Rodriguez's system seemed averse to tight ends at WVU, last year Rodriguez embraced adding the tight end to the offense. The same seems to be the case this year. Rodriguez's reason for keeping the tight end is Michigan's talent at the position. #86 Kevin Koger played in the final nine games last year as a very talented true freshman. While he looked like a freshman alot of the time, especially blocking, he made some big plays receiving with his athleticism. Koger had 6 catches for 93 yards and the touchdown against Wisconsin. As the season progressed, Koger's blocking improved and he started to look like an athletic veteran tight end. Expect Michigan to try to use Koger's athleticism even more in the passing game this year. With the emergence of #80 Martell Webb as even with Koger on the depth chart, Michigan has two dangerous, big receiving tight ends at their disposal. In addition, highly touted redshirt freshman #88 Brandon Moore will enter the mix. It is unsure how much he will play given the depth ahead of him, but depth never hurt a team. Webb was recruited by many out of high school to be a big receiver. Carr recruited him as a tight end. Webb will be used in the passing attack and should be another solid option.
Altogether, I believe Michigan has 9 solid receiving options not including the running backs. Noone is great yet, but all of these guys should contribute a little at some point during the season. Having this many options can only help the young quarterbacks in my opinion. There will be reliable underneath options on any given play with the tight ends, slots or backs. If Forcier and Robinson are able to improve at going through his progressions throughout the year, Michigan should have an open man on most plays leading to a much more efficient passing attack.
Preseason Receiving Corps Grade: B. Nobody really stands out as a big time playmaker yet, but a solid group of decent pass catchers with talented quarterbacks who should have some time to throw will lead to good things. Very nice depth.
Offense As a Whole
The second year for Rich Rodriguez's offense leads to big improvement. In Rodriguez's first year at West Virginia, the team rushed for 1992 yards total. In year two the team rushed for over 3700 yards and 39 TDs. Passing yardage stayed about the same, but the TD-INT ratio went from 9 TDs:19 INTs to 11 TDs:9 INTs. Team scoring went from 21.4 points per game to 30.5 points per game. A second year in Rodriguez's system has a pretty large impact.
Since Michigan will be playing two true freshman quarterbacks, the leap might not be that drastic, but there will be a large increase in offense productivity. The main concern is turnovers. Michigan had 30 TURNOVERS last season. Michigan had 38 FUMBLES only 18 of them were lost. Those numbers are astoundingly horrific. Granted some of the fumbles happened on special teams, but they were committed largely by offensive players (cough cough Martavious). Even with freshman quarterbacks, I believe interceptions will be down unless Forcier tries to force the ball too much, which I do not think he will do. The main concern is fumbles. Last season, Rodriguez said the staff was working to correct the fumbles, but they kept happening. Rodriguez said Wednesday that he has hardly seen any balls dropped to the turf in fall camp. Hopefully he is right and God please let them hold onto and catch the football.
If the turnovers do go very far down, as I expect them to, this offense could actually be quite good. It would be much better if Forcier had a year or two under his belt, but having a one-two punch at quarterback with one of them being the lightning fast Robinson may help mitigate freshman error? (grasping at straws here). If quarterback play is above average this offense will be really good. Even if they play like freshman, though, it cannot get worse than last year's numbers. It is mathematically impossible for that to happen. Bottom line, offense much better.
Preseason Offense Grade: B-. The offensive line is much better, the running backs should be great, the receiving corps has depth. It does come down to quarterback play this year. Forcier is very talented, so is Robinson, but they are freshman. They will do some things that make us scratch our heads at times. But this should happen far less often than last year when the quarterbacks did not even have time to do anything before a defensive lineman was breathing down their neck. Sheridan is very smart, but physically does not have near the tools that Forcier and Robinson have. The fact that Forcier can throw screen passes much better than Threet or Sheridan alone will make this team much better. The offense should actually be fun to watch this year, but they will struggle at times. The running game will be very important and should improve the most given Rodriguez's track record. Robinson will provide excitement with his feet, Michigan might have two backs go over 1000 yards, and we will actually see what Rodriguez's offense is supposed to look like.