Which position group is the key to our success this year?

Submitted by wolverine1987 on August 26th, 2009 at 9:37 AM

Which position group will you be watching the closest this year (with either anticipation, dread, or both)? And which position group do you believe is the key to our success this year (defining success as 7-5 or above)?

QB would be the easy choice, and it may be true as well. D-line has depth issues, DB's were poor and gave up huge gains, and it's fair I think to say that the LB's were meh. The O-line was lost, especially early season, before improving late, and the WR's likely were not given enough chance to be difference-makers given woeful QB play. There is reason to believe each group should improve, some markedly, barring injury.

With the disclaimer that obviously we need all groups to step up, I will say that D-line pressure and stoutness against the run is the key*. Given a new scheme, freshman likely to play in rotation in all defensive position groups (plus Stevie Brown at a new position), and what is likely (at the beginning of the season) to be a precarious level of confidence given last season, that's my choice.

*I could make perhaps a stronger argument that O-line play is key, but assumed that would be the majority view, so there you go.



August 26th, 2009 at 9:39 AM ^

In this offense, I think the answer to this is QB almost every single year--and definitely this year, since the position is such an unknown.


August 26th, 2009 at 9:41 AM ^

The OL is the key I think. If there able to open holes for the RB's they are going to to take pressure off of the QB's. UM can't lead the nation in plays going for less than a yard and I think that starts up front.


August 26th, 2009 at 9:45 AM ^

Yup. QB is (obviously) important, but without our OL making siginifcant steps forward it doesn't mean anything. Our running game is going to carry us almost completely at least once or twice this season I think, and that doesn't happen without great OL play.

Good OL -> Good running game -> Easier passing -> Actual spread offense.

UM Indy

August 26th, 2009 at 9:49 AM ^

The offensive line is the single most important group on a football team every year, but especially this year with a young QB. Establishing a running game is essential to take the pressure off the QB. When the running game is working, it softens the D up and allows the QB to capitalize on opportunities downfield. If we go old school and run over everybody for 300-400 yards a game and never have to throw it, fine by me because that will equal a lot of wins.

And from everything I'm reading, it seems likely that much improved OL play can be expected.


August 26th, 2009 at 10:32 AM ^

The OL was decent by the end of '08 but we still lost to NU and got blown out by OSU. It doesn't matter if we bring back Hutchinson, Backus and Long, if DEATH is our QB, we will lose.

James Burrill Angell

August 26th, 2009 at 10:56 AM ^

With a freshman quarterback behind center (more than likely) the line has to buy him time to minimize his mistakes. PLUS with all the speed we've got the line has to open holes for our backs and buy time for the receivers to get open.
Further with the speed of the no-huddle and the number of three-and-outs we had last year, the defense spends too much time on the field and the players get tired and can't play effectively regardless of how talented they are. With the defense's lack of depth pretty much across the board, the offense has to stay on the field and produce and that won't happen unless the line keeps people off the QB and opens holes for the RB's.
The Offensive line play will be crucial.


August 26th, 2009 at 9:49 AM ^

They are in most years with most teams, and I think this Michigan team is no exception, the most under appreciated and most important unit on a team. With a good to great offensive line, a poor running back or poor qb can still have success, but not the other way around. Taking it further, with a good offense, a poor defense can be hidden and protected. Therefore, I think its the o line.


August 26th, 2009 at 9:51 AM ^

I am a firm believer that a game is either won, or lost in the trenches. If you don't have a serviceable O-Line, or a solid D-Line, you more than likely will not have a successful season.


August 26th, 2009 at 9:52 AM ^

It's gotta be safeties. We haven't had good safeties... in... years? Not only that but there was a walk-on in the two deep.

So on D for me it goes:

DL (no worries here unless injuries *knock on wood*)


August 26th, 2009 at 11:23 AM ^

true that marlin was a better cb, and shazor did not pan out in the nfl, but they were a good combo in 2003: they had 12 tackles combined plus a tfl in the notre dame shutout, and they had 9 tackles combined in the ohio state win.

i'm saying marlin was a better safety than others since him (even though he was a better cb than safety). and wouldn't you say that winning a game with one tackle is pretty impressive? how many safeties have done so since?


August 26th, 2009 at 9:58 AM ^

Being a O-line lover it is hard for me to say the D-line is the most important this year.(The heavies on offense are always the key but here is why I say D for this year)

If our D-line can create pressure consistantly, there will be less for our d-backs/linbeackers to deal with. The less big plays they have to make, the more the offense will be on the field. So in order for the offense to throw up 50/game, which I think they will be capable of, the D will have to be off the field.

Hemlock Philosopher

August 26th, 2009 at 10:18 AM ^

kjydmd is right on. No matter how good your QB, WR and RBs are, if they don't have time to throw or get open or don't have any space to run, they will not be very successful. Same goes on D. If you have lock-down DBs, but the DL cannot get pressure, someone will come open eventually. Every season, the lines are the most important part of the team.

For us to be successful this season, I would say DL, OL, QB and DB in that order.


August 26th, 2009 at 11:15 AM ^

You and kjydmd are right on the money in my opinion. The majority of games are won and lost in the trenches.

That being said, I would rate OL just slightly ahead of DL. A dominant OLine can do wonders for the running game and really help out a young QB. Not to mention eat up the clock keeping the entire D fresh and potentially getting the opposing offense out of sync. Plus eventually, we do need to get points on the board to win the game. So I would go:

1a. OL
1b. DL
2. QB


August 26th, 2009 at 10:24 AM ^

is safety play first and foremost. We have no depth there, and it has been our achilles heel for a long, long time. We need them to step it up if we want to avoid getting gouged on D.

QB and OL are obviously more important positions in the grand scheme of things, but I have a higher comfort level in Tate/Denard and our existing OL than I do in our safety play.


August 26th, 2009 at 12:09 PM ^

my eyes will be on this group, too. Weiss and Cubit both have experience starters at QB, and in ND's case, great receivers in Tate & Floyd. My guess is Michigan's secondary will be tested early, often, and deep. If that group holds up, it may bold well for their performance the rest of the year as I don't think they'll play any teams with better passing attacks. Illinois perhaps.


August 26th, 2009 at 10:36 AM ^

to me is the most important position as Rich Rod's offense needs to have the right type of QB to run the offense effectively. I personally am excited by the fact that Forcier is an accurate passer. He might not be very big and he might not have the strongest arm, but he can hit receivers and RBs in stride. To me this will be a huge difference as Threet might have had a big arm, but he was wildly inaccurate. I would love to see what our little slot ninjas can do when someone actually gives them a pass that hits them on the numbers in stride. That way they can come out of their break and head straight up field. I really think the improved accuracy will help the offense.

J. Lichty

August 26th, 2009 at 10:55 AM ^

I think the more important question is which group is the biggest question mark - that is qb and safety. Below replacement level performances there will not cut it.


August 26th, 2009 at 1:11 PM ^

I think OL is more important than QB. Sure, if we have TERRIBLE QB play, we won't win, but the same can be said for the OL. We could have Mike Vick at QB, but if no one blocks, he'll be no good. That said, with our receiving and RB corps that we have this year, if our QB play is adequate but our OL is fantastic, we will win. If our QB play is fantastic but our OL is just adequate, I don't think we'd be as good.


August 26th, 2009 at 2:02 PM ^

Another vote for the defensive backfield. We need safeties that don't regularly give up big plays. CB is also important since we don't have much depth (back-ups with playing experience).


August 26th, 2009 at 2:52 PM ^

for the first time I can ever remember, I find some bit of mystery regarding ALL the groups on our team. I'd say RB clearly has the least mystery, but look everywhere else. The DL is being completely replaced, the LBs were all young, and the DBs were awful last year, but have a lot in the area of guru ratings. The entire offense intrigues me just to see what improvements were made. It's just...a very mysterious team to be sure.


August 26th, 2009 at 4:05 PM ^

other than QBs, i think the LBs will be the key to our success or our achilles heal. Our defense would have been dramatically improved had we been able to stop teams on 3rd and long, the majority of which were converted b/c of poor linebacker play. Also Ezeh needs to make quicker reads on the run and plug the holes quickly. If we can slow the run game and prevent 3rd and long conversions, I think our defense will be dramatically improved from last yr despite how our line or secondary play: the db's really couldnt possibly have played worse in 2008 and the Dline underachieved so terrifically that the same can almost be said for our line this yr...almost.