Getting Odoms, Roundtree and Koger on the field together

Submitted by kman23 on March 30th, 2010 at 11:38 PM
Michigan's offense has numerous talented athletes. Unfortunately, three of Michigan's best weapons, Roundtree, Odoms, and Koger, all play in the slot. The only time that all three play at the same time is when Michigan goes five wide but this formation is rarely used since it eliminates all running options besides a QB draw.

Roundtree broke out last year and had 32 receptions for 434 yards and 3 TDs but he really put almost all of those numbers up in the final 4 games where he had 30 receptions for 390 yards and 2 TDs. Odoms missed the final 4 weeks but still had decent numbers reeling in 22 receptions for 272 yards and a TD. His freshman year Odoms put up much better numbers with 49 receptions for 443 yards. Koger also missed 4 weeks but still put up decent numbers for a Sophomore TE. He had 16 receptions for 220 yards and 2 TDs. Besides those three guys the only other players that put up good receiving numbers last year were the now graduated Greg Matthews (29-352-1) and the often injured Junior Hemingway (16-268-2). Stonum showed promise but he didn't exceed 200 yards. I think the numbers show that Michigan's offense is at its best when Odoms, Roundtree and Koger are playing.

But this is where the problem is. Odoms and Roundtree are both slot WR. Koger is a TE. Michigan plays at most two slot players at one time. Sometimes, they go down to just one slot player. This really handicaps Michigan's offense so I was trying to come up with possibilities to get all three out on the field as much as possible. I came up with a handful of possibilities:

Option #1: Move Roundtree to the outside receiver position.

Option #2: Move Koger to more of an H-Back role.

Option #3: Move Koger to an outside receiver position .

Option #4: Rotate out 1 of the 3  every play.

I think each option has positives and negatives. Option #1 lets Koger play as a TE and lets Odoms play the slot but Roundtree is just 6 feet tall and he is more shifty then fast. Also, Roundtree is a key player on the offense and excelled in the slot. Why change something that worked so well? He clearly has a connection with Forcier and Forcier looked for him first at the end of last year. A full season of these two would be amazing to watch.

Option #2 lets the slot WRs stay in the slot. This is ideal since Odoms and Roundtree are better offensive threats then Koger, so if anyone should have to move it should be Koger. Koger in the backfield can help with the blocking, especially cutting back against the line, and gives Forcier another option when he is scrambling around. However, having a 6'4 250 pound TE in the H-Back role might slow down the offense (V. Smith running into Koger) and Koger's blocking skills aren't good enough to go 1 on 1 with a DE or OLB. Michigan experimented with Koger here last year and it had some success. Certainly when Michigan is running a lot of QB Reads having Koger there helps since he is fast enough to get outside the containing linebacker but on runs up the middle he seemed lost and useless.

Option #3 lets Odoms and Roundtree stay in the slot (which once again is key) and it helps fill a void at outside WR. Hemingway and Stonum didn't do much last year. Stonum showed some signs of breaking out but I don't trust him to be the #1 outside WR this year. Having Koger, Odoms, Roundtree plus a RB and QB that can run all on the field with Stonum should allow Stonum to flourish. He'd be the #1 deep threat and he'd almost never face double coverage since the safeties would have to be worried about the slot WRs.

Koger isn't slow but he's not a speedy outside WR that is going to stretch the defense. However, neither is Hemingway (especially if he did gain more weight). Koger seems to have as good of hands as Hemingway and he is much taller, which gives Michigan a jump ball candidate for endzones. Additionally, Koger is a better blocker then Hemingway and he can probably pancake a containing safety or a LB concentrating on the RB. Finally, this lets Michigan red-shirt Jackson and MIller and bring Stokes along slowly. Now if Stokes is solid this spring and ready to start I think he should play over Koger since outside speed is sorely lacking but if he needs to come in and start slowly gaining experience this plan could work.

I'm not saying Michigan should go to this every down but this could be a base formation. Now if Michigan is in 2nd and 10 or 3rd and long I'd suggest replacing Koger with a faster option but besides that I think having him out there most the time makes sense. When defenses go to zone (to help their LBs/S/DBs) cover Odoms and Roundtree this would let Koger run nice 3-5 step routes where he could set up in a whole in the zone. Having an elite speedster at WR would be great but it's not realistic this year.

Option #4: Odoms and Koger and Roundtree and Hemingway all have injury problems. Most likely in an average game one of these guys is hurt, which, eliminates most of the depth problem. Also, no way can Roundtree and Odoms play every snap. They will wear out and having Koger step in and replace them makes sense. However, with the lack of depth outside and the numerous depth at the slot, I really think Michigan should look elsewhere for a sub for Odoms or Roundtree. Michigan has numerous options at the slot like Terrence Robinson, Jeremy Gallon, Kelvin Grady, Drew Dileo, Austin White, DJ Williamson and probably Denard Robinson. I just think keeping that having all these guys on the sidelines doesn't make sense. I also think moving Roundtree or Odoms makes little sense since they are elite slot WR and why mess with a great thing?

That leaves me with moving Koger to either an H-Back role or outside WR. At first moving Koger outside made no sense but after thinking about it I now think it's possible. How much slower is he then Hemingway? I think his hands and size and blocking ability more than make up for Hemingway. Stonum is speedy and if he's on the opposite side of the formation the defense will still need to drop their safeties back and Michigan can always move Koger to H-Back when they need an extra blocker. Plus, when Michigan is in a 3rd and long they could always sub Koger out for a faster WR like Stokes or Denard.

Am I crazy for thinking this is possible? Do you have another solution? Let me know.

Comments

Edward Khil

March 31st, 2010 at 12:11 AM ^

Just brainstorming: Why not Denard at WR? That'll stretch the field. I don't think RR has gone on record with any specifics about where he might play in addition to QB. Why would you slot Denard in the slot?

zguy517

March 31st, 2010 at 12:15 AM ^

Is always better than having more spots than athletes.

I will take any combo of Odoms, Roundtree, Stonum, Hemingway, Koger, Webb, and any others that step up this year. Thats a good set any way you throw them out there.

UMfan21

March 31st, 2010 at 12:49 AM ^

I think those three put up big numbers because the freshmen quarterbacks generally were not in the position to throw many deep balls.

I think that as the Oline gels, and the QBs learn the system you will see outside receivers put up some decent numbers too.

Overall, I don't disagree that all of the players listed are talented, I feel the numbers are skewed a bit.

victors2000

March 31st, 2010 at 11:36 AM ^

at the prospect of Denard 'getting it' and becoming the phenom we all think he can be, but we need to keep in mind Tate is going to be a year better too. His game will be faster, his passing better, his generalship better; if Denard passes him up as the starting QB sometime in the future it's going to be because he grew into awesome, not because Tate couldn't get the job done. IMO.

p.s. 'Salivate' of course, is meant figuratively; for those of us who are literal about it...I don't know what to say.

kman23

March 31st, 2010 at 9:18 PM ^

Yes 5 wide with a QB with Denard's speed would be amazing. But let's be honest, his accuracy doesn't exist beyond 10 yards. Sure he has a rocket but it's just as likely to hit grass or the opposing team as his WR hands. If Denard found Brady's long ball I'd say go this formation all season, I just don't think it's realistic.

Denard seems destined to be moved to a KR specialist who plays some slot.

Birdman

April 1st, 2010 at 11:28 AM ^

I like to make quick to the point posts, but I should have clarified. This fantasy is based on this set being deployed rarely, with Robert still starting and getting most all the reps. Denard has a Jet Motion hand off to slot receiver ( odoms )and Koger like true TE. The rest explains it self, its still got lots of run option in it, would work a few times a game.

jbibiza

March 31st, 2010 at 3:02 AM ^

I agree with your premise to get the best combination of receiving and blocking on the field at the same time, but my conclusions are somewhat different. Keep in mind that it is also important to have least two "guys that we can win with" at each position so that we have fresh legs at all times to create the up-tempo Offense that RR is striving for. Roundtree is not an ideal slot, but he will be fine on the outside - his height is not an issue and though he is a bit skinny he delivers a blow when blocking. (I sympathize with your "if it ain't broke don't fix it" feeling with regard to his success at slot, but feel that he can get open just as well from the outside; we need slots who are elusive and explosive on the bubble). Roundtree along with Stonum, Junior, and Stokes gives us four guys outside and do not sleep on either J-Rob or Ricardo who are both capable of playing right away to create more depth and insurance for injuries (I'm looking at you Mr. Hemingway).
In the slot we can rotate Odoms and Gallon and have T-Rob and Grady in reserve. As for Koger (and Webb) let's wait to see what the coaches have planned for the tight ends this year starting with "hold onto the damned ball!".

kman23

March 31st, 2010 at 9:24 PM ^

While our outside WR have promise none of them have steeped up. Stonum showed promise but didn't become a go-to guy. Hemingway is slower then Koger and is often injured. Miller and Jackson are both true freshman who have been mentioned as being more possession WR because of their lack of speed. And counting on Stokes to go from RS to a genuine deep threat seems unrealistic to me.

I mentioned moving Roundtree out wide but I don't like it. The outside WR are supposed to be deep threats. Roundtree doesn't have that speed. I think he fits the slot where the WR need to be more agile then fast. They just need to make the first man miss and make a move in a closed in space. That seems to be his specialty.

My point about moving Koger outside is that he's a reliable WR that has the same speed as Hemingway and that putting him out there gives our young QBs another target they can trust.

OHbornUMfan

March 31st, 2010 at 7:51 AM ^

Is there an issue with having Koger at TE, Odoms and Roundtree both in the slot, an outside WR, and a RB? With 5 OL and a QB, this adds up to 11, right? So, all can be on the field simultaneously without having to move one to outside WR or having to run 5 wides.

steve sharik

March 31st, 2010 at 8:48 AM ^

We would have to be in trips closed (TE one side, 3 WR other side) or an unbalanced set, making Koger and ineligible receiver. (The latter usually being run-based formations.)

However, this is a nice option to mix in, and a fine idea.

On the other hand, I think Koger's blocking abilities were average at best, and horrendous on the perimeter. If he's going to drop passes, as well, I don't see the advantage of having him on the field. If, however, he has improved his blocking DBs in space and has lost his case of the dropsies, he's a very nice player.

michiganfanforlife

March 31st, 2010 at 8:52 AM ^

The reason you can't have two slots without two outside recievers is that an uncovered WR can't be a slot. I guess you could have Koger outside of one of the WR's, but this is not a viable option to me. I think the point has already been made that we have a ton of talent on offense that simply can't all be on the field at once. What's the problem with that? I like having so many playmakers all over the field.

Watching Denard run the read option on mgoblue.com makes me think that he might quickly become the starting QB this year. If our read option is effective, the rest opens up. I like Tate better as a passer when it comes to reading defenses, but when the D is scared that Denard will take it to the house - our WR's will be open like a 7-11.

victors2000

March 31st, 2010 at 11:17 AM ^

Oh please let this happen; if Tate and Denard were suddenly 1 and 1a, that would be frickin' awesome! Tate with his uncanny passing accuracy and Denard with his world class quicks and speed, that would be great. Hopefully Denard's progress is as true as it sounds, but either way the offense is going to ROLL this year, mark my words!!!

GO BLUE!!1!!1

evenyoubrutus

March 31st, 2010 at 10:15 AM ^

Last I heard the coaches see him as one of those dual-threat guys; meaning he can play both slot and outside. Hence, if you want Odoms (or Gallon) and Koger on the field with him you just use your Roundtree-outside package. I don't think it's that complicated. At least not so complicated it needs an entire diary to explain it.

kman23

March 31st, 2010 at 9:30 PM ^

What does Hemingway bring? I don't understand the fascination with him. Outside of that 1 amazing catch opening game he's done very little. He's too slow to beat a CB deep. He's not agile so he can't play slot. He's short and he doesn't block amazingly well. And his career has been injury plagued. That's not his fault and it has certainly limited his ability to develop but to trust him to be a #1 outside WR is ridiculous in my opinion.

I think he's a good bet to miss 4-6 games and in the games he'll play he'll get 2-3 catches for 30-45 yards. I'd expect much more out of a starting WR.

I think Stonum and Stokes should both be ahead of Hemingway on the depth chart. But on 1st and 10 you can put Koger out wide and then substitute in Stokes for both Koger and Stonum.

Jedelman11

March 31st, 2010 at 11:18 AM ^

not to mention that going 5 wide with either Denard or Tate allows the QB to take off right up the middle on any broken plays.

Given Tate's ankle breaking against ND, and Denard's TD rush on his first play, I think a 5 wide look with a mobile QB is the perfect wrinkle to open the deep routes.

kman23

March 31st, 2010 at 9:33 PM ^

Yeah this sounds great if you want our QBs to get hurt. Having the QB lead the team in rushes over a year is guaranteed to result in having our 2 QBs, that weigh under 200 lbs each, hurt and miss games. Not to mention that when Denard is at QB everyone knows he's running.

This idea makes no sense to me. I'd like to see Tate run a lot less this year and hopefully as a result he'll last all year. I'm not saying I want him to act like John Navarre but those rushes for 1-2 yards aren't worth the hit he generally receives.

shinbo

March 31st, 2010 at 12:01 PM ^

yeah let's just hope he has improved enough since then to become a consistent threat, even still I think defenses will still have to account for 5 spread wide giving Denard space. Denard in space is something to watch. Denard pumpfake for the win?

steviebrownfor…

March 31st, 2010 at 4:32 PM ^

this was a smart-ass comment regarding the announcer's treatment of Denard being put in at QB vs. MSU last year. Every time Denard would go in they would say "The MSU coaching staff figured out Robinson runs 80% of the time he's in the game." as if this was some coaching miracle or secret. I just found it hilarious.

Magnus

March 31st, 2010 at 11:54 AM ^

Options 1 and 2 have already been done.

Option 3 isn't likely.

Option 4 is kind of silly. Put your best players on the field and let them play.

kman23

April 2nd, 2010 at 1:39 AM ^

In today's Spring Stuff article it mentions Roundtree is playing outside WR due to the injuries of Hemingway and Stokes. That makes me think it's not a change we'll see this fall.

But the fact that the staff is already moving someone outside means that my premise (of moving Koger outside) isn't that far off. The team is looking for another outside WR.

At USC Mike Williams played outside WR. Now everyone knows from his Lions days how slow this kid was. But in college he dominated because of his route running, hands, height and he was part of a great offense. There is no way that Koger isn't just as fast as Mike Williams. He's the same height, he has good hands, he can block and if he's out there with Odoms, Roundtree, Stonum/Stokes/Hemingway, and whoever is at RB then he'll be in an amazing offense. If Koger was listed as a WR then nobody would think twice about having him outside.

Magnus

April 3rd, 2010 at 12:48 PM ^

I don't even know where to begin with this comment.

Roundtree is not playing outside WR due to the injuries. He's playing outside WR. The reasons are outside of your knowledge (and mine).

Moving beyond that, though, why would the coaches move a kid just for the spring? That's not helping the individual player, the quarterback, or the team. They're kidding their best players on the field, and one of those players is Roundtree.

Your "premise" is not moving Koger to the outside. And besides that, moving a TE to WR is a much bigger change than moving a SR to WR. On top of that, you usually see wide receivers moving to tight end, not the other way around.

How do you know Koger is as fast/faster than Mike Williams? Oh yeah...you don't.

Furthermore, did you notice that Koger wasn't getting the ball at the end of the season? That's likely because he dropped several passes, including a couple easy ones. So saying that he has "good hands" and using Mike Williams (who had great hands in college, if not the NFL) as a comparison is somewhat far-fetched.

JC3

March 31st, 2010 at 12:06 PM ^

They've had Roundtree outside with Stonum on the other side, and Gallon and Odoms in the slot together. That's something I'm really excited to see in the fall.

michWolves2580

March 31st, 2010 at 12:26 PM ^

Roundtree and Stonum play outside. There is a slight issue in the slot because their will be competition between odoms and gallon for the primary slot position. But for the most part, Koger is a tight end. He plays stand up in the slot sometimes, sometimes in an H back/wing position, and a lot of the time in a 3 point stance as a tight end.

kman23

March 31st, 2010 at 9:39 PM ^

First off, Odoms is clearly ahead of Gallon in the slot. Odoms was the #1 slot guy last year and only lost it due to injury. When Roundtree was resting Michigan put Grady in. He might be ahead of Gallon on the depth chart.

I mentioned moving Roundtree outside but I don't like it. First off you want the QBs safety valves (the guy you throw to when you're scrambling) to be closer to the QB, so in the slot. Secondly, Roundtree led the team last year from the slot. Why make him learn a new position with new routes. Also, I don't think his skills match up with outside WR as well as in the slot.

Robokid

March 31st, 2010 at 1:45 PM ^

Did you say put Kroger for our deep threat? I am no coach but if I were playing I would think that there is a lot more talent to put out there than kroger. He is a good TE but not a deep threat there are a lot more people I would put in before I would put him in. ( For a deep threat) If I read the thread wrong someone correct me.