In 2009 Michigan dealt with important injuries at three positions, center, QB and RB. The serial injuries to Minor and Brown were the least important of these, as they were able to platoon, and when both were down, Smith and Shaw filled in adequately.
The same can’t be said for the impact of injuries to Molk and Forcier. Molk, arguably the best linemen, had to be replaced by shuffling in guys not quite ready (Khoury, Omameh) or guys not very good (Dorrestein, Ferrara) and the center position itself had to be manned by guys who had trouble snapping the ball. Obviously, Forcier continued to play after the Indiana game but his shoulder only got worse as the season progressed with the 4thquarter interceptions against OSU serving as Dead Arm exhibit A. Robinson wasn’t ready to play QB in lieu of Forcier. The results in the record book are stark. Without Molk, Michigan squeaked by Indiana, and thereafter with a lamed Forcier, they lost every meaningful game.
In 2010, the same injuries to Molk and Forcier are much more easily sustained.
I don’t remember the last time the same 5 OLs played the whole season; there are going to be injuries. Assume it’s Molk again. Between Khoury, Barnum and Mealer, there must be a replacement for Molk who performs better than last year’s replacement. Throw in improved-through-aging Dorrestein and Ferrara to patch any other holes that may open. Finally we’re looking at a full, experienced two-deep at OL, without even getting to Schofield or Washington.
As to how to replace Forcier if he’s knocked out or playing at less than 100%, well, we all know how dilithium works after it’s been out of the lab for a year. At his best, Forcier may not even have the job.
So that covers the center and QB replacements. Elsewhere? What player injury would be the least affordable? IMO, there’s no one even close to Troy Woolfolk. In fact, maybe the next most damaging loss would be the #2 CB, whoever that ends up being.
Other candidates? Well, Roh’s backups are dubious, so he’s probably #3. And of course, as far as safeties, we’ll have to wait for the season to begin and figure out which one is the most useful and anoint him the #4 most indispensible. Everywhere else – ILBs, DLs, receivers and RBs – there are numbers.
In summary, barring an outbreak of H1N1, and wishfully assuming Woolfolk, Roh, CB#2 and Safety #1 stay healthy, Michigan should do better than OK. The offense should be very good, the defense mediocre. On the other hand, with key disastrous injuries as occurred last year, it’s déjà vu all over again.
Anybody have a different perspective?