The Wolverine.com: Spring Revelations (Offense)

Submitted by MGoShoe on May 2nd, 2010 at 8:37 AM

TheWolverine.com follows up on their Spring Revelations (Defense) article with a Spring Revelations (Offense) article chronicling their take on the standout offensive performers of spring practice. This article is not behind their paywall.

  • Most Improved: Denard Robinson and Taylor Lewan
  • Breakout Starter in 2010: Patrick Omameh
  • Could Be Starting By Oct. 1: Fitzgerald Toussaint
  • Freshmen Expected To Contribute In 2010: Stephen Hopkins and Jerald Robinson
  • MVPs: Tate Forcier or Denard Robinson

Click on the link for the full analysis, but here are some thoughts:

  • QB analysis: Denard's performance in the spring made all the headlines, but Tate didn't regress, so the starting QB battle is not settled. The authors sure hedged their bets by predicting that either Tate or DRob would be the season's offensive MVP.
  • No one is sold on the RBs. Who will emerge from the group of Michael Shaw, Mike Cox, Vincent Smith, Fitzgerald Toussaint, and Stephen Hopkins as the featured back or will this season devolve into RB by committee? Since no clear cut leader has emerged, it's easy to fall back on the latter as the answer. 
  • RS Fr Taylor Lewan and RS So Patrick Omameh are expected to pace the OL this year. The team's ultimate level of success may be riding on their young shoulders.
  • Speaking of young shoulders, all of the players featured in this article are RS Sophomores, Sophomores, RS Freshmen and Freshmen.  That alone should give us all pause about Michigan's chances in 2010.
  • Position battles are so wide open for QB, RB, WR, Slot and TE that a platoon approach doesn't seem out of the question for every skill position. Is this an indication of tremendous depth or of insufficient talent? How important is it that a leader emerge at these positions during summer camp?

Comments

Rasmus

May 2nd, 2010 at 12:26 PM ^

The problem with platoons is they breed fumbles -- the reason you use only two primary backs is you want the QB to be comfortable handling the ball around them. If you have three or four running backs cycling in and out, all of different heights, quickness, and feel for the ball, it's a recipe for fumbled exchanges. Especially with two QBs.

[Note: The coaches know this. I realize this is not something they don't know. They know the risk. Thus, if they do appear to be using a platoon at the beginning of the season, it's because they've got a bunch of young players and they are genuinely trying to find the best performers.]

wolverine1987

May 2nd, 2010 at 9:53 AM ^

"did not regress."  You want a sophomore QB to make a big leap forward in his second year, and RR has said many times that the biggest improvement usually comes between the first and second year.  He'll have to do a lot better in fall camp and I'm rooting for him.  

BiSB

May 2nd, 2010 at 10:01 AM ^

137,000 times on this board alone, but Tate is already pretty close to his ceiling.  He isn't going to see that huge jump in his 2nd year.  That kind of thing happens to kids who hear "no, you shouldn't throw the ball sidearm from your back pocket" for the first time as a freshman.

With that said, I'd be happy if they mean "Tate hasn't regressed from his Western Michigan/Notre Dame/before-his-shoulder-asploded form"

MGoObes

May 2nd, 2010 at 10:22 AM ^

he's pretty close to his ceiling. what do you mean? his passing mechanics likely won't get much better but that's not all there is to being a QB. his decision making can get better, his coverage reading can get better, he just had fewer things to improve upon than denard did. that's why you look at denard and say "WOW he got a lot better" well he was horrible passing last year, now he's at least decent at it. that doesn't mean tate's close to his ceiling, he can still get a lot better.

BiSB

May 2nd, 2010 at 10:57 AM ^

He can get better.  Making the proper decision on the zone read, for example, will make a significant difference.  In addition, simple repetition will make him better

However, Tate has been training for this for the better part of his life.  Marv Marinovich has been running him through drills for years, and he comes from a family of quarterbacks.  There is much less that Tate hasn't been exposed to at this point in his career.  By comparison, Denard didn't get that kind of advanced training, and had very little work done with his mechanics.  As a result, a minute of practice time with Denard gains more ground than a minute of practice time with Tate.

Just IMHE...

clarkiefromcanada

May 2nd, 2010 at 10:22 PM ^

was apparently not on Marv's agenda. 

I think that Tate is some distance from his "ceiling" and comments of that nature tend to overlook the incredible differences involved in playing QB at a BCS conference (coverages, audibles etc.). Tate can still get bigger (god knows he looked small last year), he can mature in his leadership, he can learn more of the offense and he can become technically better. Tate won't hit his ceiling until he's had a number of years of pro coaching in the CFL and won his 3rd Grey Cup with the Hamilton Tiger Cats in about 2019. 

BlueGoM

May 2nd, 2010 at 2:08 PM ^

I think the claim that TF can't work w/in the pocket is overblown.   I've heard it before, and I'm not sold.

When watching games from last year, he usually * had * to scramble.   He'd have taken many more sacks had he not scrambled around. 

Watch the spring game again - in one instance  TF had to move out of the pocket after the OL he was playing with couldn't stop a 3 man rush.

Call me pessimistic, but I'm more worried about the OL next year than most people here seem to be.  

BlueGoM

May 2nd, 2010 at 7:39 PM ^

I'm not saying that the OL is going to be the weakest link on the team, that is currently still the secondary.   I'm just not following all the reasons for the optimism.   Maybe Lewan is the second coming of Jake Long, if so, great!  We'll see.

Like I said, call me pessimistic, but I'm just not seeing this team improving much next year.   I'm hoping for 7-5.

 

WolvinLA2

May 2nd, 2010 at 8:48 PM ^

Here's why I think the OL will be good:  Our OL at the end of last year (Ortmann, Schilling, Moosman, Omameh and Huyge) actually played some good football together.  Now, replace Moosman with Molk (who is arguably our best OL) and replace Ortmann with Lewan (who is only in his second year in the program but is huge and has gotten rave reviews).  Schilling, Omameh and Huyge are all a year older, stronger, bigger, and more experienced.  Not only that, but with guys like Dorrestein, Schofield, QW, Barnum, Mealer and Khoury pushing for PT, we not only have a lot more competition than we had last year, but a lot more depth as well.  

I think this makes for a good-to-very good OL.

TrppWlbrnID

May 2nd, 2010 at 10:30 AM ^

i know this is an old topic, but its early and i am groggy.

can you define what tate's ceiling is and why exactly it is that he is so close to reaching it?

is this a case a relativity,  since denard was so rough last year, tate got the label of "more polished?"

i seem to remember hearing a million times that tate never seriously lifted weights, would this not have an impact on his ceiling?

MadMonkey

May 2nd, 2010 at 11:20 AM ^

Nobody thought these guys could progress through their "ceiling".  If I recall correctly, Griese was a walk-on who wouldn't have started without an injury to the starting QB.  The talk of ceilings and development in practice is interesting and important, but, I am interested in what these guys do on game day.  The first part of last season most of us thought we had a future Heisman candidate playing quarterback. Tate made the cover of Sports Illustrated before he knew his way around campus.  I think that potential is still there.

Tate has intangibles that performance metrics cannot measure.  Tate is a playmaker.  His adversity last season will improve him. Tate led some drives last year that are among the most memorable I have seen, even though they were not part of a successful season. 

With all this said, I am with RR regarding who should be quarterback:  "play whoever we can win with".   I think the probabllity is much higher that we will have two (three with DG) amazing quarterbacks over the next few years than that Tate will be a bust.  So, Tate/Denard/Devin do what you do, just hold onto the damn ball!

jmblue

May 2nd, 2010 at 12:44 PM ^

The "Griese was a walk-on" makes for a great story but it's not really accurate.  He was a regular, recruited player who committed after Signing Day, when we were out of scholarships.  Gary Moeller promised him one as soon as one opened up.  One did that fall, so Griese never actually saw a tuition bill.

MadMonkey

May 2nd, 2010 at 7:32 PM ^

of course.  As a recent contributor I am quickly learning not to bring into weak cheese into the house or I am going to get called on it.  However, I still think the ceiling stuff is a bit absurd in the QB role where so much of the game is mental.  Ryan Leaf, anyone?

ommeethatsees

May 2nd, 2010 at 10:03 AM ^

I am not concerned that the players mentioned are all young.  I for one am excited for the future because it means these players will be around for awhile and we have something to look forward to beyond just the next year.  It also means that RR may be doing a decent job of recruiting good players if they are competing for jobs right away.

goody

May 2nd, 2010 at 10:48 AM ^

will be his decision making and ball control.  Which you can't really show in a controled practice or scrimmage.   Denard's problem last year was his throwing motion and accuracy, which is easier to see an improvement in during practices and scrimmages. 

We won't see how much Tate has improved until we see him on the field against UCONN and his forced to make decisions and hold onto the ball.

Blue Balls

May 2nd, 2010 at 11:06 AM ^

The difference between any player that receives the ball varies greatly, whether  it's a running back or a QB.  Want to really make it intresting change the center-hello David Molk.

Even in the  NFL, the change at QB, center or running back increases fumbling.  The pre-season in the NFL gets very frustrating watching players fumble so much as players get plattoned in and out of the offense. 

As much as I was Impressed with Hopkins, I was just as impressed with Cox.  Denard-between your hard work and great coaching-IMO, most improved player on the field.

Tater

May 2nd, 2010 at 1:59 PM ^

Then why didn't Bo's teams that shuttled RB's in and out lead the Big Ten in fumbles?  Keeping opposing defenses off balance will more than compensate for a few fumbles.  Besides, just because you fumble doesn't mean that the other team is going to recover the ball. 

Blue Balls

May 2nd, 2010 at 3:21 PM ^

the only freshmen QB that started for Michigan during Bo's tenure was RL.   Until a QB,center, or running back is comfortable with the person receiving the ball, your more prone to fumble.

  I used the NFL to point out that in pre-season games you see more fumbles because the coach is platooning guys in and off the field.  Having played QB, trust me it takes a period of time to develope not only timing but trust with each player you hand the ball off to.

  I would question when RL was a freshmen at Michigan was Bo platooning RB's and if so,  how many fumbles did RL have?  I don't remember.   With an experienced QB,  comfortable with his running backs-you will obviously see less fumbles.  Michigan at this time doesn't have that luxury.   Therefore, platooning running backs "at this time" is more of a risk.

Njia

May 3rd, 2010 at 1:24 AM ^

Sounds like a Supreme Court head case in the making.

But seriously, (tip your waitress, try the prime rib)....

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, (or type it, to be precise): the Tate we saw through Game 4 was not the Tate we saw thereafter for two reasons:

1. His shoulder, it asplode.

2. The role of "David Molk" was played by his understudy, Ruprecht.