So, losing to Illinois sucks, people continue to gripe about the coaching staff, and the MSM thinks it is "Hot Seat" time in Ann Arbor (sans Wally George's awesome wig).
That being said, I thought it would be a nice time to remind everybody what we have to look forward to by peeking ahead to what the 2011 edition of the Wolverines will look like (along with a comparison to the current roster to show why we still have such a ways to go). We go position group by position group, starting on offense. Since expecting freshmen to contribute is more like wishing than expecting (and since we have no idea who the freshmen will be in 2011), I've organized some position groups in terms of non-freshmen (or NF for short).
QB: Tate is a third year starter and Denard is in his third year as backup. If even a super-douche like Jimmy Clausen can make the leap from 1st year to 3rd year that he has, I think the sky is the limit for Tate. Also we replace Nick Sheridan as our in case of emergency option with #1 QB recruit in the country Devin Gardner, who will be in his second season on campus. Big jump in talent, experience, and depth.
RB: The only position group that doesn't see a major leap forward, though it remains very strong. Shaw, Cox, Smith and Toussaint all will have three years or more on campus. Throw in two more recruiting classes worth of talent and I think there are plenty of replacements for Minor, Grady, and Brown.
WR/TE: Matthews, Webb and Savoy are the only guys we lose off the current roster. Six guys who have already scored a touchdown will be in their third year or better. Add in Gallon, Stokes, and this year's big haul, and you have a big leap in experience, talent, and depth.
OL: We currently have 8 NF players on the o-line, two of whom were rated 4-star or better (going by Rivals). The 2011 unit will have 9 NF players, all going into their third year or better in the program, five of whom were rated 4-star or better. Molk and Huyge have the opportunity to be longtime starters going into this, their senior season. Big upgrade in terms of talent.
DL: Roh, three year starter. Van Bergen, three year starter. Martin, four year starter. Throw in Campbell and Lalota and you have five blue chip recruits with lots of experience. Losing Graham is big, but I'll take the increased experience across the board with the hopes that one of many other options pans out. Paskorz, Wilkins, and Talbott will be second year players providing depth along with Herron, meaning there will be no true freshmen on the two deep, much less in the starting lineup (like we've had each of the last two years). Upgrade, especially in terms of experience and depth.
LB: This is a position group in terrible shape right now. We have only four NF's on scholarship. Three of them will be gone by 2011, though I don't know how much they will be missed. Brown has done an admirable job as a stop-gap starter after a senior-season position switch. Ezeh just got benched in favor of a walk-on, and Mouton, much like "Nuke" LaLoosh, is still kind of all over the place. Demens and Smith replace the 4-star power of the departed Mouton and Brown, while Jones, Hawthorne, Bell and C. Gordon serve as a 4-for-1 swap with Ezeh (all joining JB Fitzgerald who will be a senior). In short, the star power stays the same but we add three more guys (along with any second year contribution from Kinard and Robinson, to boot). Leach will also still be around (though I hope this proves irrelevant). Enormous upgrade in depth (Can you say actual competition for PT?) with a bump in talent as well.
CB: After Booboo got the boot, we have two NF corners on scholarship (like at linebacker, just enough to field a team). Warren and Woolfolk have both been solid contributors, but swapping them for Turner, Witty, Floyd, Talbott, Avery and anybody else we bring in this year is a trade I make any day (equal in star power, but much longer on depth). Upgrade (though I'm a big Donovan Warren fan, really hope he stays another year).
S: This is an even bigger depth-chart disaster than corner or linebacker. We currently have one NF scholarship safety (not even enough to field a team). One guy, for two positions. Even that wouldn't be so bad if that guy was Superman or Taylor Mays, but sadly it is only Mike Williams. Williams (and Kovacs) will still be here in 2011 along with Vlad, T. Gordon, and anybody else we bring in this year. Enormous upgrade (because actually having players on the team is kind of important).
There. Hopefully that gives everyone immense hope for the future and explains why we still kind of suck. Presumably making nearly every single position group markedly better will improve team performance substantially. Frankly, I can't wait for kickoff to get here. Here's to 2011 (and hopefully still kicking Purdue's ass this week just to keep things interesting).