Michigan's Offense in 2013 Is it "Back to the Future?"

Submitted by mGrowOld on January 27th, 2013 at 2:29 PM

1994 team photo

After the announcement yesterday by Derrick Green I started to wonder which Michigan team, if any, the offense next year would look like when it hit the field next September.  After reviewing the squads starting last year and going back to when time began in 1969, I believe there was a team (pictured above) who we can look to for a "sneak peak" of what we can expect in 2013.  Step inside Mr Peabody's "wayback machine" for a glimpse of our offense next year - provided by Team 121 - your 2000 Michigan Wolverines.

Coached by Lloyd Carr, this Michigan team was led by Drew Henson,  a heavily recruited 5 star QB who grew up in Michigan entering his Junior Year - just like we will have under center in 2013 with Devin Gardner.  Henson, like Gardner, had seen the field his first two years and based on his prior year's performance and high school hype - much was expected from Henson leading into year three.  Henson, like Gardner, was mobile with a strong arm and seemed to know when to leave the pocket and run.  If you watch any game film from that year you're sure to see Henson play-action fake and roll, just as we did many times this year (and I'm sure next year too) with Gardner.  Henson was tall 6'4 (Gardner is 6'5") and other than one being left handed and one being right their style of play is remarkably similar in almost every sense.

The offense in 2000 ran predominately out a single back set with two TE's - just as we've been told we're planning on running out of in 2013 as well.   While we'll have to see if Funchess + ? can equal Joppru & Ecker we can be pretty confident they will be a big part of the offense in 2013.  Running duties were handled mostly by Anthony "A-Train" Thomas who was a bruising power back with good, but not Wheatley-level great, straight line acceleration - which is very similar to how Derrick Green's running style has been described.  The offensive line was anchored back then by 5th year All American senior tackle Jeff Backus who provided much the same level of line leadership and talent we expect from Taylor Lewan in 2013. The comparison pales a bit at wide receiver I must admit as we'll be hard pressed to get the same level of production out of Gallon and Dileo that Michigan enjoyed from Marquise Walker & David Terrell but there is always a chance they could pleasantly surprise.  My guess is they'll be more open than they've been in the past if for no other reason than the offensive will be more diverse than it has been in the past few years with scoring threats coming from positions other than QB.

Coaching the offensive in 2000 was Stan Parrish, a first year OC whose base sets and play calling are remarkably similar to that of Al Borges.  Ironically, Parrish left Michigan to become Hoke's QB coach at Ball State and eventually replaced Brady when he left for SDSU.  Rounding out that side of the ball's staff was Terry Malone, Erik Cambell and of course - Fred Jackson. Again, this team favored single back, two TE sets with heavy play action calls and lots of deep horizontal routes from the wide outs. The offense was explosive and averaged over 27 points per game scoring 20 (a game in which Henson was hurt and unable to play), 31 and 51 respectfully in their three losses.

Looking backward to see the future of Michigan football.  I think I may have found it - 13 years ago.








January 27th, 2013 at 2:38 PM ^

watching the 49ers offense. I think michigan can run a similar offense to that. gardner and kaepernick have similar physical abilities. with a down hill run game from the pistol formation. with green.


January 28th, 2013 at 9:04 AM ^

The 2000 squad was one of Carr's best offensive units and the offensive line can make a case for being one of Michigan's best ever.  The defense on the other hand was young and average at best, with a coaching staff not really prepared on how to gameplan against the spread.  Although we finished a respectable 9-3, people forget that we really should've lost on the road at Illinois, if not for some favorable referee calls.


January 27th, 2013 at 2:40 PM ^

They showed a lot of respect with that 51 point loss. I joke. Interesting analysis though. The wide receivers are definitely the wild card. I don't think anyone knows exactly what we have in that unit.

San Diego Mick

January 27th, 2013 at 2:52 PM ^

season is the best comparison but there will be stark differences as well, the skill positions are younger at RB and shorter at WR. Until the taller WR's can start being a factor.

However, my prevailing prediction is that this will a very unique offense in M history and I'm liking where it is headed. We could be a really explosive team and I wouldn't doubt if Derrick Green or even Deveon Smith are able to make a huge impact.

The Defense is gonna be lights out and the kicking game is in great shape, could be a really special season in store, is it September yet?

Thank goodness we have a special BBall team to hold us over for a while.


January 27th, 2013 at 3:08 PM ^

Jeremy Gallon was the 4th leading receiver in the conference on a team that didn't throw a whole lot (and was 35 yards away from being #2).  He averaged 16.9 ypc.  In 2000, David Terrell averaged 16.9 ypc.  Not to mention, Gallon had 100 yard games against both Bama and South Carolina, the two best defensive teams we played all year.  His production also increased dramatically with Gardner at QB during the second half of the season (511 yards in 5 games).


January 27th, 2013 at 2:57 PM ^

Joppru and Bill Seymour (not Ecker) combined for 23 catches, 147 yards and 2 TD.  Last year Funchess put up 234 yards and 5 TD by himself as a true freshman.

Gallon/Dileo combined for over 1,100 yards (about what Terrell put up in 2000).  The key question I think will be is there another guy to pick up 600-800 on the other side out of Darboh/Chesson/Freshmen.


January 27th, 2013 at 2:57 PM ^

We seen in the Army All-American game that the offense ran some pistol when derrick green was in the game. Derricks high school team mostly ran from that formation also.

Now I highly HIGHLY doubt we will be running the pistol next year, but I could see us running it a few times putting Green back there just to get him warmed up to the college game. I would have to think it would be nice to get some of your first carries in college using the same formation you have been running out of your high school career.

Even though it would be sweet to watch, and sweet for derrick. I wouldn't expect it. We are still trying to implement the I-formation and I doubt we try something new.


January 27th, 2013 at 3:18 PM ^


I hate it too which is why I literally spell checked everyone (or at least I thought everyone) I needed to before typing them out.  My wife actually asked me "are you getting graded on this or something" to which I replied "well yes....I sorta will be".

So Devon has been changed back to Devin.  Drew Henson, on the other hand, was a lefty in minds eye and will remain as such.  All you filthy, rotten memory-changing liars notwithstanding.



January 27th, 2013 at 3:01 PM ^

Devon Gardner? 

That's his cool alter ego that runs like Vince Young, is elusive like Denard and throws like a combination of Peyton Manning, John Elway and Dan Marino. He has the leadership capacities of Jesus.


January 27th, 2013 at 3:20 PM ^

We could be similar in terms of style of play on offense, the abilities of our QB, and the running style of our RB...assuming Green is our primary RB.  However, the 2000 offensive line I think will be quite a bit better than the 2013 version.  In addition to Backus they also had Hutchinson and Goodwin.  And, as you mentioned Terrell and Walker were both pretty darned good recievers as well as both being big, fast, and physical.  I doubt we'll get their production.  I think Gardner will be better than Henson.  And, we may far similarly in terms in record, as I expect us to go about 9-3.  


I'm struggling to remember how that team looked on defense.  I'm thinking they had Whitley and Patmon as a seniors, they had Lazarus on the line.  I'm also picturing Hobson & Foote at linebacker.  And, I think that was Epstein's senior year, no? Offhand it seems like that team had more proven upperclass kids that were talented.  The 2013 team will be much younger it seems.  Interesting comparison though, thanks for sharing.


BTW...wasn't that the last time we won in Columbus?


January 27th, 2013 at 3:15 PM ^

We should see some improvement in our passing game from last year. Not just with the promise of a solid run game behind our new interior line, but with our toughest opponents defenses losing star contributors, and facing us in the Big House. Even if Gardner has some accuracy issues, or is forced out of the pocket a lot, I think Sophomore Funchess, and 6'6" Jake Butt, plus tall sophomores Darboh/Chesson being able to high point jump balls, and use their bodies to shield defenders to negate any hurried passes a-la Junior Hemmingway. Gallon and Dileo should continue their trend of making great, high-effort circus catches as seniors, as well. I'd expect our passing game to be North-South like our run game next year, and take up bigger chunks of yardage than in 2012. I'd expect more 3rd down's to be converted, too.


January 27th, 2013 at 3:25 PM ^

I think the OP did a nice job comparing the 2013 offense to the 2000, but I think 2002 might be a closer comparison.  

In 2002, Navarre was a junior.  In the backfield were the versatile B.J. Askew and the explosive-but-mistake-prone Chris Perry.  At WR we had Braylon and a bunch of limited talents like Ronald Bellamy and Calvin Bell.  Joppru was an All-American TE that season, and the line was good but not legendary.

Gardner is obviously a quite different QB than Navarre, but in my opinion Gardner is much more gifted.  We probably, don't have a WR with Braylon's talent on the roster, but will have Gallon as a senior and some other role-players.  Plus, there is a chance that any of the redshirts or incoming freshmen could surprise.  How young interior linemen perform in '13 will probably be the determining factor to how good the offense is.

Perkis-Size Me

January 27th, 2013 at 3:33 PM ^

Devon? Seriously? Can you at least spell our QB's name right? But I see a lot of power I next year. No more QB draws. Gardner has come along very well in the system and should be a Russell Wilson-esque kind of player in the sense that he'll use his legs only when he needs to. Don't do anything to risk having to put Shane out on the field too early and burn a redshirt. Depending on how well the line comes along, Hoke will want to pound away with Green at least 20-25 times a game, and then when defenses can't take it anymore, keep pounding with Deveon to keep them both fresh. Hopefully they'll both become a solid 1-2 punch like what Montee Ball and James White, or better yet, TJ Yeldon and Eddie Lacy have done.


January 27th, 2013 at 4:08 PM ^

Went in the first 2 rounds of the draft. Henson would have potentially been the first pick had he decided to play football. I'd say Michigan is a couple years away from churning out NFL picks like in years past.

Terrell, Hutch, and Backus went in the top 20.  Brady pulling a 11-2 season with the talent on that team speaks to him and his staff's coaching ability.  I'm sure I will get negged for saying this but Lloyd underachieved with all the talent he had.  If he didn't own Cooper and have the 97 Team he wouldn't have made it to 2007.


January 27th, 2013 at 4:16 PM ^

If 2013 can mirror 2000 we may be set for big things.  The biggest problem the 2000 offense had was a suspect defense.  The 2013 defense will be better than the 2000 D.


January 28th, 2013 at 9:01 AM ^

Yes, but the 2013 offense won't be nearly as good as the 2000 offense, which was one of the most prolific ever at Michigan.  Team 134 OL <<< Team 121 OL, and that is where all the difference is going to be made.  We'll still be good enough to compete for the conference championship and make the Rose Bowl, but we're not good enough to compete for the BCS title I'm afraid.


January 27th, 2013 at 4:58 PM ^

I'm just excited that Hoke isn't Carr 2.0.  Not that Carr was a bad coach, far from that, I just like the more aggressive/less conservative approach (fake punts, fake FG, going for it on 4th and short, etc.)

And, that's all I have to add.

The Truth Hurts

January 27th, 2013 at 6:40 PM ^

Good comparison.  I think some Pistol will work for the offense since Devon will be hiding Derek and by the time the defense see Derrick have the ball its too late, 220 lbs is at full speed.  Plus, Devin will be more dangerous with the read option going north or south instead of east or west.


January 28th, 2013 at 8:57 AM ^

Let's just hope the season doesn't start off with Gardner hurting his thumb in a freak practice accident on the 3rd day of training camp and missing the first 3 games of the season.  That would be lovely.