Roster Report Card - Offense

Submitted by AC1997 on December 22nd, 2010 at 3:16 PM

This Diary is intended to be a “state of the roster”-type of summary heading into the final recruiting stretch. It is meant to be a diversion from coaching rumors, general recruiting chatter, or Miss St. preview posts. Obviously all bets are off if a coaching change is made and this summary will change (hopefully for the better) when signing day rolls around. In general, I thought this would generate some good discussion and that’s what this website is all about. Refer to Brian’s Depth Chart By Class for a list of the relevant players.

Offense goes first, defense wil come later.

Quarterback – A+

That’s right, I went there. I struggle to see how this position could be any better. Denard will be a Heisman candidate for the next two years, Tate has proven to be a very good backup quarterback and spot starter, and Devin will now be a freshman next year and one of the highest ranked dual-threat talents of the past three recruiting classes. I guess it would be nice to have a developmental prospect, but fourth string QBs grow on trees.

Running Back – B-

If Dee Hart stays in this class and meets his full potential maybe this grade is harsh. They certainly have depth and variety, which has not always been the case. But until someone steps forward as a homerun back and this group proves they can stay healthy, a higher grade is not warranted.

Outside Wide Receiver – B

Stonum, Hemmingway, and Odoms made for a very above average group of starters this year and all of them have had great games and will be among the best group of outside receivers in the conference for 2011. But they have all had injury issues and inconsistency issues so there isn’t a star here….yet. More concerning is the depth behind the veterans. Jackson and Stokes have played, but mostly on running downs. Robinson, Williamson, and Miller will all have tons of eligibility but are unknown quantities. Another recruit in the 2011 class would be nice.

Slot Receiver – A-

Roy Roundtree is a handful of drops away from being the next wearer of the #1 jersey [Ed-M: because dropsies stopped previous #1s?] and a future star. Kelvin Grady went from a liability to having some of the best hands on the team. Gallon and Robinson provide valuable depth. And Justice Hayes could be a future star at this position.

Tight End – C+

This is perhaps a little harsh because of the role they play in the offense. Webb has proven to be a dynamic blocker and Koger has the potential to be a very good receiver. The problem is that there is no one on the depth chart besides Brandon Moore. You may see Ricardo Miller take on the Koger role and it is expected that there will be another recruit in the 2011 class. But with fullbacks being walk-ons and the jumbo package making some valuable appearances in the playbook this year we’ll need to address this position in the next couple of recruiting classes.

Offensive Line – B+

Two starters will depart after this year and you have to give them credit for their development into solid performers this season. But without knocking their ability, they should be easily replaced. Mark Huyge has already been a starter and can step in right away with Schofield pushing for playing time. Schilling will be missed, but Barnum looks to be a solid replacement with Campbell and Mealer (plus the other centers) providing depth. Lewan and Omameh are still young and future NFL draft picks. Molk will be a senior but now has several viable back-ups in waiting. Signing another guard in this class with a lot of potential would push this to an A- for sure. Another star tackle is needed in the 2012 recruiting class.

Kicker – F

This is the biggest liability on the entire team now that there is at least depth (if not experience or talent) in the secondary. Gibbons looks like a mess with his form and results. Broekhuizen has better form but still lousy results. They don’t even have someone who can just kick it deep for kick-offs! Justin Meram from the soccer team is still wishful thinking for the time being since he has no proven track record and may go pro in his natural sport. I’m one who thinks a scholarship must go to a kicker in this class.

Kick Returner – C

This is a maddening position to grade. With all of the skill players on the roster you would think that this is a strength, but unless Stonum is the one taking the kicks there has been very little in the way of positive performance. Gallon, Robinson, and Odoms were highly underwhelming. Perhaps Dileo, Toussaint, Avery, or another young player could improve this. As great as Stonum is in this spot, his injury shows why you need to find someone else.



December 22nd, 2010 at 3:27 PM ^

I highly disagree that the QBs were an A+, and that is even given the fact that Denard has amassed production beyond my wildest dreams.

However, his passing is still average at best and he fumbles quite a bit. There are definite things that happened this year that he can clean up in anticipation of 2011. If he cleans those things up (I"m thinking the INTs v. Michigan State, the crippling fumble versus Ohio State in particular), he will likely be invited to New York and Michigan will get invited to Pasadena.


December 22nd, 2010 at 3:30 PM ^

I couldn't agree more. If we look at potential, then yes an A+ is fine or close. But we are looking at what he has done thus far. Denard is arguably the most amazing player Michigan has ever had, but saying that he needs to improve on his decision making, throwing and fumbling. I love watching him play, but he needs to improve on some things and I have no doubt that he won't.


December 22nd, 2010 at 4:05 PM ^

He didn't clarify past production or future, he said "state of the roster heading into the recruiting stretch"

Having a Heisman candidate with 2 years remaining, a backup with proven starting experience and your 3rd stringer being a 5star stud in the making is pretty much beyond anyones wildest expectations.     So yes this is an A+ situation. Can Denard improve and get better? Absolutely.   I'll challenge you to find a better situation ever in college football.......eva...

Brady/Henson was a pretty good 1/2 but Henson had no experience and I have no idea who was 3.

Tebow/Cam Newton looks awesome now, but at the time you had Tebow and an unknown guy who cheats and steals stuff.





December 22nd, 2010 at 4:14 PM ^

But if you look at everything else he said, he is taking production into account. Otherwise, what he said about Seth and Gibbons about missing kicks and form should not be taken into account. Also what he said about Roundtree. He is a few drops away from being the recipient of the #1 jersey. You have to take into account the production of the players in order to rate them; otherwise, how do you rate a player? By the recruiting hype he had, which you can't take into account because they are often wrong.


December 23rd, 2010 at 11:33 AM ^

Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart were on the same USC team. Also, I think Leinart, Mark Sanchez and Matt Cassell were on the same USC team.

Digging a little deeper into history:  Charlie Ward and Brad Johnson were on the same Florida St football team.


December 22nd, 2010 at 3:35 PM ^

I think Tight End is a little underrated by the OP. TE in this system don't get enough credit, IMO. Koger is a good TE that can make some spectacular catches, but can also drop some easy ones. Webb is a good blocker that can also make some nice catches and rake up some YAC.

Personally, I would love to see the TE get more involved in the offense. I see as Denard matures more and learns his progressions more he will throw to his TE more. Throughout the season, I could see the TE open in the middle of the field while Denard went for the long ball in double coverage. But again that comes with experience and learning the progressions more.

MyUncle played-4-UM

December 22nd, 2010 at 3:44 PM ^

thinking the same thing as you. If you go back to last year and compare this year I really think they improved a lot especially in the running game blocking wise. Saw a few plays where the tight ends made key blocks to free Denard for long ones. In the passing game I think they were more sure handed this year than last. With another off spring of seasoning with Denard they will be even better. Denard will come to realize that they are his safety valves when things break down.


December 22nd, 2010 at 4:08 PM ^

Koger made THE block on Denard's 87-yard-TD run v. Notre Dame (think back now on how important THAT block, and THAT TD ended up being for this season. 6-6?) that I then watched over 200 times.

The tight ends are marvelous in this offense.

MyUncle played-4-UM

December 22nd, 2010 at 3:41 PM ^

this was a good assessment,especially concerning the future. There is always room for improvement, and hopefully we get our special teams situation taken care of. Not so sure about giving away a scholarship though on a kicker.What Gibbons needs to do is stop thinking so much and go back to basics.


December 22nd, 2010 at 4:00 PM ^

I don't agree with the A + rating for the qb's but the fact that we have two capable and intelligent true-sophomores at the position reminds me that we truly have a bright future ahead of us. 

I also think we should bring in someone to push Devin!  Denard will continue to grow into a beast with Tate on his cottials.  Devin could use the same type of push although he sounds as though he's holding his own with Denard & Tate in practice.

Competition at all positions is a good thing.  This is notably true in regards to the defensive improvements we need to see for next year. Hopefully, we'll hear some chatter on how well the competition and experience is developing on that side of the ball.  Cheers and nice post.


December 22nd, 2010 at 4:55 PM ^

I think that after 3 years of competition with Tate and Denard he should be VERY ready to take over the reigns (Christmas pun!).  Plus, he should be an ass-kicker and will ALSO put Prior to shame (obviously Denard has done this already and will continue to do so next year... and the year after... even though Prior will be sitting at home watching football from his couch and not even from the sidelines of an nfl stadium).  That is all.


December 22nd, 2010 at 5:19 PM ^

I suppose it depends on how you value an A+.  If you believe it means "no room for improvement, this is perfect," then you're correct (and an A+ should really never be awarded outside the hypothetical realm). 

But if you've ever received an A+ in high school or undergrad, then you're probably at least vaguely aware that it tends to utilize a different definition, loosely:  "exceeds this grader's expectations and the performance of his/her peers."  As another commenter pointed out, having a Heisman candidate with two years of eligibility remaining, backed up by a once-starter with the moxie to put a game on his shoulders and a 5-star redshirt freshman third stringer I think justifies the assignment of an A+ given the purposes of the diary.


December 22nd, 2010 at 4:39 PM ^

Excellent debate on the A+, which I hoped for.  Isn't it fun debating whether the QB position is an A-, A, or A+?  I didn't clarify exactly how I was grading, hoping for some more open discussion.  But what I was trying to do is predict how confident we should be for a given position going into spring practice and the 2011 season.

Denard has things he needs to improve in order for this team to contend for a title - that's obvious.  But considering his age, how he fits in the system, how well he progressed/performed this season, and who his back-ups are - can you think of a better situation? 

In 1998 the Brady/Henson/Dreisbach trio probably matched the current depth chart for potential and fit to the system.....but none of those guys had ever played.  Denard finished 6th in the Heisman voting as a true sophomore in his first year of starting. 


December 22nd, 2010 at 7:02 PM ^

Rumor has it his scalding finish to the season has him focused entirely on prepping for the MLS draft.  Don't expect any further appearances in the winged helmet.  Obviously, good for him, but a downer for those hoping he might be the answer to our kicking woes on Jan. 1 or beyond.


December 22nd, 2010 at 7:12 PM ^

Personally, I view quarterback as an A currently, with a move to A+ if we can get one in this class.

The more I think about your rankings and the reasoning behind them, the more I agree.  Here's some speculation on how these rankings could change in the relatively near future:

The running backs weren't able to consistently take pressure off Denard this year (especially when it mattered), but there's a number of them there with talent.  I'll go out on a limb and say that the running backs will be healthier next year and that will make a difference in the on-the-field performance.  So, I'll bump them up to a B, contingent on D Hart signing.  

If we get a TE to sign, I would bump up the tight ends to B-.  If we sign one and Ricardo Miller changes positions to TE, then a B or B+ could be warranted.  If we get that fourth offensive lineman in this class, the O-line goes up to A- in my book.

Anyone bold enough to take a stab at the defense?


December 22nd, 2010 at 9:16 PM ^

You were right on the money on grading the running backs (B-).  If that group improves and we add the talent that we are recruiting to the bunch, it could take our offense to even higher level. Think Oregon. If one or two of the backs can separate themselves, and we show more speed and power, then defenses have to worry about one more home run threat. Nice position to be in for upcoming seasons.


December 22nd, 2010 at 11:39 PM ^

The diarist is presenting the "state of the roster" summary and assigns grades. Are these grades for the past season, or expected grades for next season? And what qualifies the diarist to assign grades to players? Plus, the post is completely lacking in any quantitative assessments. If I were Omameh, I'd want to know why the OL got a B+. If I'm a future NFL draftee, don't I get an A? Lewan, Omameh, and Molk are future NFL players. Three A's. So are the other 2 linemen that bad to drag the group down to a B+? I just get the sense this post was put together in 10 minutes or so, no offense.


December 23rd, 2010 at 8:41 AM ^

No offense, but I thought the OP was pretty clear.  

The state of the roster is the state of the roster right now, taking into account talent we have right now available to play next year (perhaps slightly confusing because much of the evidence for evaluating the current talent is to look at historical performance or projected future performance) and the recruits who as of right now have given a verbal commit to Michigan.  There's a couple spots where the OP speculates - for example, if we pick up that 4th offensive line recruit we're looking for with this class, then the OL would bump up to A-.


December 23rd, 2010 at 6:43 AM ^

I have no problem with the A+ grade because every one of are QB's showed they could perform when called upon. We have a starter who put up numbers that no other player has put up in history, a backup who performed admirablly when called on and a 3rd stringer who by all accounts may have more potential than the two guys in front of him on the depth chart.


December 23rd, 2010 at 11:42 AM ^

The QBs were good against the worse teams on the schedule but not against the better teams.  Plus they were injured too much to get an A, second, until either Denard or Tate beats MSU or OSU, I'd hold off on anything in A category.  UM QBs are measured by how they do in the big ten and how they do against MSU and OSU, not racking up yards.

An A or A+ QB has to win, and neither of these guys, save vs. ND have won anything of note.