Friday, August 17, 2007

Season Preview - Offense, pt. 1

As we head into another year, it’s helpful to…ah, fuck that. I just want to make predictions that I can actually keep track of. And maybe get a spot in the Blogpoll. Using the ever-so-official Sesame Street Terror Alert Level scale:


Believe the Heisman hype. Henne won’t win the Heisman, and there are some legitimate weaknesses in his game, but he’s as good a quarterback as Michigan has had in the last fifteen years. He’s consistent, makes plays and allows the talent around him to make plays, is able to make both the short and long throws, and is a clear leader on the field. The only real question is the lack of a proven backup – ‘proven’ being the operative word here, as Ryan Mallett is OMG Shirtless (ht: Brian - a little under halfway down) but a true freshman. Then again, so was Henne. A short-term injury might not be catastrophic, and in any case, Lloyd may try to get him some meaningful snaps as a prep for ’08.

Running Backs:

The most critical spot on the offense – as Michael Hart, so goes Michigan. When he was healthy in ’04 and ’06, the Michigan offense was, if not devastating, at least semi-efficient in the framework of a, you know, antique game plan. But in the never-ending and best forgotten 2005 season, when Hart spent long stretches on the sidelines, in uniform but looking pissed off, the offense had a difficult time finding any rhythm at all. Just like Henne, Hart is the real deal – identifiable weaknesses (he’s not a home-run threat) but a plus in just about every aspect of his game – he’s a plus blocking (absolutely critical for a Michigan back), a plus catching balls out of the backfield, NEVER fumbles, and gets every yard plus a bit more. He always seems to fall forward.

The depth is not great – losing Kevin Grady hurts a bit, losing Carlos Brown hurts not one bit, but Brandon Minor showed flashes of being the long-lost breakaway threat in 2006. Another thing keeping Michigan from Oscar is fullback - Michigan loves running the iso over the guard, and that takes a bruiser at fullback. Maybe Vince Helmuth or Quintin Patilla can do it, but…well, we’ll see.


Home to perhaps the best pair of wideouts in the country, but it’s hard to rate this group much higher right now because of depth and questions at the tight end.

As the feature wideout, Mario Manningham is on the verge of a Desmond Howard or Braylon Edwards-type season, but enjoy it while you can, because he’s gone after this year. Adrian Arrington stepped up ably in 2006 when Manningham was nicked up and isn’t the deep threat Manningham is, but he’s got great hands and is willing to go over the middle. Think Jason Avant with a little more speed. The group beyond the top two is unsettled but talented – LaTerryal Savoy was much lauded coming in but has sabotaged his shot at the third spot with some off-field crap. Greg Mathews IS Jason Avant, also highly regarded but yet to make a significant mark. The door is wide open for another Freshman (Zion Babb, most likely, but Toney Clemons? Junior Hemingway?) to step in at the third / fourth spot.

Tight End is a huge problem. Mike Massey is currently listed as the starter and is a fine blocker, but he’s nothing resembling a serious offensive threat. Carson Butler – should he return from still more off-field issues – is a much better target. But he is deep, deep in Lloyd’s doghouse at this point.

More intervenes.

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