July 13th, 2013 at 2:00 PM ^

I'm really excited for Devin to take the reins next year.  He's got a tremendous upside.  Talent, intelligence, dedication, and hard work...that's a great combination in a leader.  Can't wait!


July 13th, 2013 at 2:08 PM ^

My one concern with Devin going in is whether he will have the timing and ability to read the defense to have anticipation of when a receiver will be open. Last year, he seemed a beat slow sometimes, so that the ball was delivered late. If he can improve that, I think he could blow up this year.


July 13th, 2013 at 2:30 PM ^

Coaches and others this offseason. This team will be really good and is going to surprise a lot of people this season. Michigan football is back,


July 13th, 2013 at 5:48 PM ^

and in our defense, prior to coming in for Denard this last year, Devin's time at QB was pretty shaky. I wasn't sure if he was ever going to pull it together.

I viidly remember DG's pass against MSU where he was like 5 yards past the LOS and thinking "oh lawd"

Happy to admit I was wrong about that now (obviously)


July 14th, 2013 at 5:59 AM ^

He was one yard past the LOS on that play, and had just evaded a sack and kept the play alive using that same unorthodox spin move for which he was later lauded. He didn't look a world beater early on, especially in the spring games, but sample size was low and you could tell he had some skills.


July 13th, 2013 at 2:43 PM ^

will be how quickly the middle of the Oline develops and how much new talent emerges at RB and WR. That's still all very much up in the air right now. He has all the tools to be a great weapon at QB, but I don't think he can carry the offense by himself. If things develop the way they should, he could be a very legit Heisman candidate in 2014.


July 13th, 2013 at 3:38 PM ^

Absolutely, the key to the Michigan offense is the interior OL.  Not just in run blocking, where everyone HOPES we see improvement, but especially in pass blocking - where there could be a significant dropoff.  Fortunately, Devin has good legs and seems to have strong instincts, plus our tackles should be great.

As for RB, I don't think we necessarily need "new talent" to emerge.  Fitz has proven he can be a good back if the blocking is there.

Ditto for WR, where Gallon has been great at times, just good at others.  He's an all-conference caliber player and with  Dileo and the others providing adequate support we don't NEED anything more. Of course, freshman contributions (or Darboh) would be nice, but not necessary.

TE is really the other key.  Can Funchess and Williams build on their promising freshman seasons.

Gardner, Gallon, and the tackles are going to be good. RB and WR should be decent, at worst.  Kalis, Braden, and Miller are the three key guys that could really swing how good this offense is.


Maize and Blue…

July 13th, 2013 at 4:30 PM ^

I think he'll have more impact statistically in the passing game then Williams at TE.  While AJ will be primarily a run blocker who gets an occassional bone in the passing game. 

Plus I just wanted to use that heading.


July 13th, 2013 at 4:52 PM ^

I think the big problem with Funchess, and why he was basically just a slow-footed WR after the first few games, was that he couldn't block very well.  Expect the same of Butt in 2013.  The key is to find TEs who can do both.  Hopefully, Williams and Funchess get there.

I think Butt might red-shirt, but more likely, he'll be similar to Funchess in that he's useful as a receiving threat but in a very limited role. That is - until people realize he can be covered by DBs and won't punish them with blocking.


July 13th, 2013 at 4:32 PM ^

though I'm not totally sold on whether Fitz will ever do as well as in 2011 again. But as far as receivers, we have Gallon (very good, but really a #2 guy) and Dileo (decent and will make some plays, but really no better than a 3rd or 4th guy) and that's about it for guys who have shown anything on the field. I just don't see much in the way of "others" unless Darboh and Chesson step up and contribute seriously. I think Norfleet could make an impact at slot receiver, but I'd be very surprised if Jackson did anything but grab a handful of catches in garbage time. After that, we've got walkons and true freshmen who all look like redhsirts/projects. I have a feeling Gardner will be looking for a TE quite a bit.


July 13th, 2013 at 5:02 PM ^

shows you that OL and playcalling are the biggest factors in production.  Without Denard/Molk and the option plays - Fitz probably won't put up the same stats. 

I don't know why you think Gallon is a #2 guy. I imagine it's because he's short?  I wish that meme would die, but even the coaches, who are as height-biased as anyone, view Gallon as a #1 guy (not that they have much choice.)  To me, he's a legit #1 easy, and Dileo is a decent complementary guy.  If you single cover Gallon, you'll pay.   Reynolds/Jackson, while uninspiring, seem like adequate 3/4 guys - reliable/decent blocker/etc. 

I wouldn't see any reason to play Jackson in garbage time - that's where developing young guys like Chesson should be getting work in. 

I'd be VERY surprised if all of the freshman WR red-shirted.

Between Funchess and Gallon - I think we have a decent to average receiving duo.  Dileo is a good 3rd option.  Then you mix in some combination of Norfleet, Darboh, or a surprise freshman and you have plenty of receiving options.


July 13th, 2013 at 5:17 PM ^

But let's face it, he's not the kind of guy you'd pick out of a lineup as your #1 receiver, and he'd definitely be a #2 if we had a guy like Terrel or Edwards. As you say, he's our #1 option this year mainly because there's no one else. But I would really hope that both Darboh and Chesson do better than Jackson. Jackson is a senior, and he's never done a thing, so hoping for him to be a 3 or even a 4 guy isn't very realistic. I think.even Reynolds will catch more passes than Jackson this year. As far as the true freshmen, I wouldn't be surprised if one saw a little PT, if only on special teams, but I wouldn't expect any meaningful contribution from any of them this year.

Certainly our pass-catching situation is not dire, but there's a fair amount of uncertainty at this point.


July 13th, 2013 at 8:13 PM ^

1.  Comparisons to Michigan's greatest recent WRs are unfair, just as comparing Gardner to Brady wouldn't be.

Other #1-types since:  Avant, Manningham, Roundtree, Matthews, Hemingway, Stonum, Odoms.  IMO, Gallon's better than most of the guys on the list, if not all of them (excluding Manningham)

2.  Gallons production is #1 worthy coming into his senior year. Saying "but he's not tall" is a worthwhile as it was with Mike Hart.

I don't think Gallon's #1 by default - I think he's legitimately a very very good college football player.  He's played like it and has stats to back that up.    He's fast, he's tough, he's reliable, he gets open, he's even won jump balls and been talked-up by the coaches for the last few years in that regard (earning targets even when Hemingway was on the team.) What's he missing? 

3. Jackson's earned playing time - he's obviously doing something right (that others aren't).

Yeah - it would be nice if a more talented younger player passed him over.  I'm just saying it's not necessary for Michigan to have a good offense.  Anyway, Jackson's a bit of whipping-boy for Michigan fans.  He's nothing special, to be sure, but he's earned playing time since his freshman year - unlike, say, Darboh and Chesson.  He was in the 2nd group of receivers last year and I don't expect that to change this year. He is what he is - a reliable possession guy who isn't going to do anything extra with the ball in his hands.

4. Uncertainity isn't defined by a lack of desired talent.  WR has returning veteran production and may be the most certain position on offense.

We have a bunch of guys who are known quanitites.  What we don't have is a breakout playmaker, a 6'3 blazer who will stretch the field. The coaches will give all the freshman and Darboh a chance to be 'that guy'. It is unclear if such a player will emerge, but a) it very well may not happen and b) we don't NEED it to.

Therefore, I don't really see a great deal of uncertainty in the receiving corps. There's a clear #1, a realiable Dileo in support, and a veteran possession guy (plus a competant walk-on who can at least block).  In a run-oriented offense that heavily utilizes 2-TE sets and/or H-backs/fullbacks, that's plenty.


July 13th, 2013 at 5:13 PM ^

and we have two legit threats to go along with whatever TE might emerge as the best blocker to share time with the best pass catching TE. Hopefully, will be same guy who's every bit as tall as DF when it comes to catching passes.


July 13th, 2013 at 5:22 PM ^

could emerge as a solid pass-catcher AND blocker this year, and free up Funchess for a WR spot on occasion, but the blocking part may be expecting a lot from him right off the bat. Funchess is still a tweener, who just doesn't have the bulk to be a top-notch blocker on DEs, and Williams hasn't show anything in the way of pass-catching yet. Would love to have at least one guy emerge as the total package at TE, but realistically that may not happen until at least next year.


July 13th, 2013 at 9:16 PM ^

Funchess isn't good enough to be an impact WR.  He's a weapon if covered by LBs, some strong safeties, but safeties will be able to lock him down  The reason he didn't do anything the second half of the season was that teams knew they could just cover him with a smaller/quicker player.

Funchess is only an impact player if he can block.  He's already shown he's an excellent receiving threat if defended like a TE -- now he just has to show he can block well enough to create that mismatch consistently.


July 13th, 2013 at 3:40 PM ^

I think it's unlikely you'll see a Michigan QB as a heisman contender anytime soon, no matter how good they are.  Given the 'game manager' mentality of the offense it'll take a dominant season from the team to overcome the gaudy statistics coming from aggressive offensive systems.


July 13th, 2013 at 5:50 PM ^

You've seen "game-manager" QBs be awfully close to winning it lately, namely AJ McCarron and Andrew Luck. Both were in heavy manball offenses but they were great when they needed to be (and they were on good teams) so they got recognized for it. A Michigan QB could definitely get in the heisman race in a similar way.

Plus, doesn't Borges want to go 50/50 run-pass? It's not like we're becoming Navy here


July 13th, 2013 at 8:20 PM ^

Yeah, McCarron was the first guy that came to mind.  But we're still years from being Alabama.  Even on offense, most of the guys surrounding McCarron are NFL players.

As for Luck - I'd say he was a more than a game-manager, but that is a fair role for Gardner to aspire to.

Manball doesn't preclude you from entering the heisman race, but it's a significant hurdle.  There's a reason none of Michigan's QBs were serious heisman contenders despite consistently ending up as NFL starters. 

It's not just the run/pass split, it's the tempo and type of passes.  e.g., Rodriguez is very run-oriented, but his offense puts up gaudy stats.  (and by Rodriguez I mean the head coach at Arizona, in case you haven't heard about that guy.)


July 13th, 2013 at 2:50 PM ^

At 5:45 of this video Devin watches Demens take down NW's RB on that awesome 4th and 2.

After that terrible interception in the 4th quarter he pulled himself together for that insane pass to Roundtree.  His reaction to the defensive play on the field is exactly what I want from a QB.  You can tell how much he cares about the game and team.

I expect great things this year, but I'm already loving the guy.


July 13th, 2013 at 3:01 PM ^

Please stay healthy. And be careful Doug dangerous things like walking, getting out of bed and existing.

I seriously hope that in any game in which we have a safe lead, devin has a headset and clipboard as quickly as possible. If he stays healthy, he could be scary good.


July 13th, 2013 at 3:26 PM ^

In my opinion, it's been a common mistake by a lot of prognosticators to project Gardner's season this year based on how he finished up last season.  There is a big difference between playing most of the year as a receiver and jumping in with almost no preparation to a system designed around a guy that has a completely different skill set - and not even playing full games at QB against ohio and SC once Denard was back.  Gardner had nowhere near the preparation last year that he has going in to this year, and the offense wasn't tailored toward him like it will be in '13.  Also, hypothetically speaking, there will be more support from the run game this year.  

This is a guy with all the physical tools that has had all offseason to refine them, and by all accounts he has worked very hard to do so.  I don't think we're going to see the same guy this fall.

Basically, I believe that most of the pundits have been very conservative in their predictions re: Gardner and for that matter Michigan in general.  I try to be wary of jumping on hype trains based on offseason reports, but I really get the feeling Gardner is going to shake up the CFB world in a couple months.  Now this may well mean that we only get one more season with him instead of two.  But if it nets us a Big 10 title and a victory (or two) over ohio on the way there, it'll be well worth it.


July 13th, 2013 at 3:47 PM ^

I was thinking the same thing. That vegas might be way off right now going on devins small sample. I guess we should watch the odds movement from now until start of season because the smart money will show their hand then.


July 13th, 2013 at 3:47 PM ^

The offense seems to me to be designed around what Borges and Hoke want.  Remember that Gardner was recrutied for a spread offense and his game resembles a (slightly slower) Vince Young.  What he's best suited for is probably not what is going to be run.

I do agree he'll benefit from having a clear role and not changing positions.  I think he'll be an excellent player and compete for conference POY, but I don't think he'll be considered nationally elite given the circumstances around him (offensive philosophy, skill position talent, massive OL turnover and inexperience.) 

In 2014, as a returning starter, with less inexperience on the OL, there's a much better chance of him getting that national attention.


July 13th, 2013 at 6:58 PM ^

I suppose it isn't completely accurate to say the offense will be tailored around him (though it certainly was for Denard and so I think it's fair to expect at bare minimum that certain plays that Gardner is good at will be called more often than, say, whatever Morris or Speight might one day be good at.)  But I have to respectfully disagree that Gardner is a spread QB.  I know what system he was recruited to play in, but I always thought from day one that Gardner's upside was as a pro-style QB.  He has the size and the arm for it, and there is a difference between being mobile with scrambling ability vs being quick/fast in a way that makes you dangerous as a runner every time you're holding on to the football.  Yeah, Devin has OK speed when he has a little room to run, but he doesn't have much in the way of elusiveness.  In my opinion, Gardner is going to be at his best when he can drop back and throw the ball, using his feet when necessary to buy him time (and also to run one hell of a bootleg on play action.)  I've never been a fan of statues playing QB; the intricate blitz packages and the caliber of athletes playing defense these days make it tough to survive if you can't at least move around a little.  So I actually think Gardner is almost the archetypical pocket passer, in fact.  He's got size, strength, enough mobility to be dangerous if the blitz can't get there in time, and a good arm.  All the tools are there to play in this offense.  To be a great spread QB?  I'm not so sure.

What system you're initially recruited into doesn't dictate your actual abilities.  If it did, Braxton Miller would be better suited for Tressel ball.  No, I think Miller got lucky when Meyer took over, and I think Gardner is fortunate that Hoke and Borges are in charge now, particularly if he wants to be an NFL QB.