Friday, May 21, 2010

Pre-Season Preview: Michigan Wolverines

2009 Record: 5-7 (1-7 in Big Ten)
2009 Bowl: N/A
Final 2009 AP Ranking: N/A
Head Coach: Rich Rodriguez (8-16 at Michigan, 113-78-2 Overall)
Non-Conference Schedule: UConn (9/4), at Notre Dame (9/11), UMass (9/18), Bowling Green (9/25)

2009 Offensive Statistics
Scoring: 29.5 points per game (3rd in Big Ten)
Rushing Yards/Game: 186 (4th in Big Ten)
Passing Yards/Game: 198 (9th in Big Ten)
Total Yards/Game: 384 (7th in Big Ten) 

2009 Defensive Statistics
Scoring: 27.5 points per game (8th in Big Ten)
Rushing Yards/Game: 171 (10th in Big Ten)
Passing Yards/Game: 221 (7th in Big Ten)
Total Yards/Game: 393 (9th in Big Ten)

2009 Misc Stats
Turnover Margin: -1.00 per game (last in Big Ten, 115th in the Nation)
Penalties: 43 yards per game (4th in Big Ten)

Returning Starters
Offense: 7
Defense: 8
Kicker/Punter: 0

Top Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: QB Tate Forcier, Soph (165 of 281 for 2050 yds, 13 TD, 10 INT)
Rushing: QB Denard Robinson, Soph (69 carries for 351 yds, 5 TD, 5 ypc, 29 ypg)
Receiving: WR Roy Roundtree, Soph (32 rec, 434 yds, 3 TD, 2.9 rec/game)
Tackles: DB Jordan Kovacs, Soph (75)
Sacks: DL Ryan Van Bergen, Jr (5)
Interceptions: LB Jonas Mouton, Sr (2)

2010 Pre-Season Rankings
Lindy's: Not Ranked
Mark Schlabach: Not Ranked
Rivals: Not Ranked
Scout: Not Ranked
Sports Illustrated: Not Ranked

Michigan started strong out of the gate last year by winning their first 4 games. Unfortunately they folded late by losing 5 consecutive games to end the season (3 against Top 25 caliber opponents). This is the third year for Rich Rodriguez at Michigan. He is in a spot where he needs to start producing as the natives are used to a winning product. We have partnered with the colorful Michigan blog Midnight Maize to get their thoughts on the 2010 version of the Michigan Wolverines.

What are the major strengths and biggest weaknesses of the team?

That's sort of the Million dollar question. The team has been so young the last few years and so up and down, it's hard to say. I can say the O-line should be a huge strength. It should be a top three O-line in the B10. With everyone coming back besides Mark Ortmann and having the best center in the B10 in David Molk and red shirt frosh Taylor Lewan who is a Jake Long clone and plays left tackle. The O-line is shaping up very well.

Strength would be team speed as well. It’s all over the field. RR has some of the fastest players to wear the winged helmet. They are not called slot ninja’s for no reason. Having a QB who can run a legit sub 4.3 forty is looked as a strength I would say.

A weakness has to be the wide receivers and that may surprise a few people but over the past two seasons there hasn’t been a wide receiver who came up big. Some of that may have to do with the bad QB play but they have had their chances with many drops. This is a make or break year for Darell Stonum. He is now a Junior and was very highly rated. He’s been great on Special Teams but a bust thus far as a wide receiver with a few stand out moments versus Notre Dame and MSU. Others need to step up and some started to last year like Roy Roundtree who had a great last six games. He also blew up the spring game on a 97 yard TD. So there is a silver lining there. Our TE/WR Kevin Koger has a great upside but he had a case of the drops during last season and never bounced back.

A Major weakness is also depth. The last two years have been the thinnest UM teams of all time. No depth which has hurt badly. Walk-ons have graced the field with major playing time and that was a rare event before but seems common these days. The depth is getting there and should be about right after the next recruiting class. It’s been a main reason UM has struggled in the past two seasons. Just a lot of bad luck with players, injuries and transfers.

Looking at the schedule who will be the first major test and why?

The first game (UConn) of the season will be a major test for this team. So much is unknown at this point. Who is the QB? Can the defense produce turnovers? Can the defense stop the run? Will a running back grab the job? Can we hang onto the damn ball? UConn brings almost everyone back besides a RB and a WR. Our offense should move the ball but can UConn cut up our D? They looked sharp verses an alright Notre Dame team last year and beat them in South Bend. I’m hoping that opening day energy plus a rocking Big House will overwhelm UConn and Rich Rod has had great success when playing UConn.

What team on the schedule do you fear the most?

Michigan State and not because of their talent on the field. MSU because of what’s at stake. This is a must win in the worst way. Michigan State beating us two times in a row was rare and a blow to the ego but a look at the series will see how laughable and how one sided the series has been. It’s very important for Rich Rod to beat Dantonio and MSU. Three in a row and at the big house would make the Rich Rod seat very hot. MSU has made it a point to make that game their game of the year. MSU has brought some great intensity and UM just hasn’t matched it. This is a must win. Michigan must come out for blood. They have to be sick of all the “MSU owns the state” talk. They have to be sick of how the local media has treated Michigan in compared to Michigan State. They have to say enough and rip some heads off! Alright I’m all worked up.

Who is the best player on your team that nobody talks about?

Will Campbell with out a doubt. Outside of Michigan fans not to many people know about him. The DT has great upside and I think could be a high draft pick when it’s all said and done. He has worked hard to slim down and to not go down the road of a Gabe Watson. He needs some PT and some more practice reps and he can really be a force in the middle of the D-line.

Who is the best offensive player on the team?

That’s another great question. Denard Robinson? Tate Forcier? Roy Roundtree? Someone has to step up. After seeing Denard at the spring game it’s hard to imagine him not winning the job but at the same time I still think Tate will bring his “A” game come fall practice. If Denard can get a grip on the zone reads/options then it could be a lights out offense. He will be hands down the best offensive player. He also seems to be making great strides in his passing game. Only time will tell.

Who is the most impactful defensive player on the team?

Craig Roh can be that person. He’s so versatile. He reminds me a bit of Shawn Crable or a Lamarr Woodly. He can play standing up or with a hand in the ground. He has a great motor and seems like a natural leader. I expect a great leap this year for him and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as an All-Big Ten Teamer.

What player(s) needs to step up this year in order for the team to reach it's full capability?

That’s easy, either Tate Forcier or Denard Robinson. I will also throw in line backers Obi Ezeh and Jonas Mouton. If the QBs can limit turnovers and get a better red zone and limit mistakes then the team will be even better on offense and out score teams which they might have to. Both Obi and Mouton have been suspect, awful and down right terrible the last few years. It’s so important that these guys step up and play well and be leaders. It’s hard to be a leader when you look clueless on the field. That has to change. Mouton looked good in the spring but Obi has back up Kenny Demens hot on his tail if he can’t play well.

Who is the top offensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

This QB may or may not play (he's a hot topic) but Devin Gardner looks like the real deal. There could be a nasty three way battle next year at QB. He has been hot on Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier heels as a true frosh. He’s got the size at 6’4 and the speed to be a force. His long ball seems to be the best of the three and just looks like he glides on air when he runs. He’s very natural. Tate and Denard will get their shot but if they can’t produce or can’t limit turnovers then Devin will get his shot. Rich Rod will play all his cards and take a chance burning his red shirt. Everyone hopes that Denard or Tate grabs the job so he can use a red shirt but he will be used if need be.

Who is the top defensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

Cam Gordon. He was moved from wide out to safety and has been a man among boys all spring. He got a lot of hype this spring. Safety is a huge position of need and is great to hear that Michigan may have its best safety since Jamar Adams or Ernest Shazor (By the way, where are you?). It’s been said he is just a natural at the position and has great instincts. I do expect him to make a few mistakes but I think he will be a solid player and might find himself as one of the better players on defense for the next three years. I had a live blogger (JC) from the Midnight Maize at spring practice and he said Cam was a real deal, flying around the field blowing up people and making plays. So he is someone Michigan fans are high on going into the season.

Gut feeling on the teams final record at the end of the regular season and what makes this a successful season in your eyes?

If you put a gun to my head, which you are I would say 7-5 but could easily be 8-4. I think an exciting season with wins over MSU, ND and Purdue (or PSU) would make a great season. I know a OSU win would be huge but I’m being real and I think winning in the horse shoe with a better Pryor will be a tough task. I think 2011 is the year the Buckeyes finally go down. Seven wins and a nice bowl win would give Michigan a lot of steam going into 2011 where they will have a great home schedule and its first night game at home. I want Rich Rod to make this happen since the players are finally being put in place. Now it’s just time to grow and win some games. I think Michigan has a solid season.

I just want to say thanks for having me and I look forward to reading this blog as the season gets here. Go Blue!

Next Up: Purdue Boilermakers

2010 Previews
Big East- Cincinnati Bearcats, Pittsburgh Panthers, West Virginia
Conference USA- Houston
MAC- Temple Owls


J.Martin said...

Always tough to get a read on these RichRod teams until you know who the QB is. Definitely think Denard has more upside, and he's probably Rich's personal choice, though the fanbase kinda got married to Forcier early last year.

The Shredder said...

Trust me, the fan base just wants a guy to step up and win. It doesn't matter who.

Kevin said...

The Athlon preview I picked up today is projected Michigan finishing 6th in the Conference and going to the Insight Bowl to play Missouri.

The Shredder said...

Good thing we play the games on the field.

Kevin said...

I'm not a Michigan fan but I think Big Ten football is better when they are relevant so I hope they have a good year. Those first two games are going to be tough and critical for them. If they can get past UConn and Notre Dame they are looking at 5-0 going into the Michigan State game. I bet they are wishing the UMass and Bowling Green games were their first and second games instead of their third and fourth games.

Anonymous said...

A small correction is that its Roy Roundtree, not Ray.

Kevin said...


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