Oddly, I'm glad for this to come to an ending. Granted, I'm annoyed and pissed off about what happened today, but, ya know, that's what happens when you hit rock bottom.
anyway, ignoring the state of our defense next year for a minute, lets talk about personnel and the offense.
First and foremost, I want to see Rich pull this squad together and keep everyone on the same page. Whatever Rich and Tate have with eachother, if anything, needs to dissipate. We need continuity for the first time in a few years. NO transfers at key positions. no scrambling to rearrange the coaches (well, maybe Hopson can get lost). Let's see what this same team can do in terms of progression in a 2nd full year together.
I, personally, am very excited for this Forcier/Roundtree connection to blossom. Having a go-to receiver emerge is a huge step for this team going forward. Next year, we need to see big strides from Mr Stonum. he was nice this year as a kick returner, but he has to be able to be more productive in the pass game. Add in the Koger/Webb combo, and you're looking at a potentially ver potent passing offense. Of course, the linemen will need to step up in a big way as well.
In terms of running backs, it will be interesting to see if Shaw is able to make strides and take over, or if the minion V Smith will be the guy. I love what Vince has added as a receiver out of the backfield.
As for Tate and the QB competition... here's what I'd like to see. Tate needs to compete with Gardner & Denard...... and WIN that competition. I think he'll come back next year and be mch improved, and hopefully better conditioned. Starting over with a new QB, even if it's a guy with freakish ability like D Gardner, probably means even more growing pains. I think we should be routing for Devin to have the luxury of being able to redshirt because Tate puts a deathgrip on the starting job.
Defensively... gulp... Let's hope Will Campbell becomes a beast and Craig Roh puts on some muscle. and we magically grow awesome linebackers and corners. I don't know. We just might have to become more proficient at outscoring other teams.
All is not lost, here, but now is when Rich earns his keep in this program. If we're not seeing significant improvement in some key players next fall, I'd have to start questioning whether he's as good of a coach as we thought. I still think he gets 2 more years, unless disaster strikes next year (or in the offseason with violations, etc).
Some blind predictions for next year...
Tate throws for 2500+ yards, 20/10 td-int ratio.
Roundtree catches 60-70 balls for around 800 yards and 8 tds, leading the team.
Stonum emerges as a deep threat, catches 35 balls for 500-600 yards and 8 tds
Smith and Shaw each rush for 600+ yards
Denard finds a hybrid role and surpasses 1000 total yards (passing, rushing, receiving, returning... however he can get it)
Michigan's a top-20 offense in the nation and #1 in the big-ten.
9-4 with a middling bowl win.
here's to a productive offseason and some continuity going into next year.
Roundtree and Graham are good football players.