Your 2011 Michigan Wolverines

Submitted by PurpleStuff on November 3rd, 2009 at 10:13 PM

So, losing to Illinois sucks, people continue to gripe about the coaching staff, and the MSM thinks it is "Hot Seat" time in Ann Arbor (sans Wally George's awesome wig).

That being said, I thought it would be a nice time to remind everybody what we have to look forward to by peeking ahead to what the 2011 edition of the Wolverines will look like (along with a comparison to the current roster to show why we still have such a ways to go). We go position group by position group, starting on offense. Since expecting freshmen to contribute is more like wishing than expecting (and since we have no idea who the freshmen will be in 2011), I've organized some position groups in terms of non-freshmen (or NF for short).

QB: Tate is a third year starter and Denard is in his third year as backup. If even a super-douche like Jimmy Clausen can make the leap from 1st year to 3rd year that he has, I think the sky is the limit for Tate. Also we replace Nick Sheridan as our in case of emergency option with #1 QB recruit in the country Devin Gardner, who will be in his second season on campus. Big jump in talent, experience, and depth.

RB: The only position group that doesn't see a major leap forward, though it remains very strong. Shaw, Cox, Smith and Toussaint all will have three years or more on campus. Throw in two more recruiting classes worth of talent and I think there are plenty of replacements for Minor, Grady, and Brown.

WR/TE: Matthews, Webb and Savoy are the only guys we lose off the current roster. Six guys who have already scored a touchdown will be in their third year or better. Add in Gallon, Stokes, and this year's big haul, and you have a big leap in experience, talent, and depth.

OL: We currently have 8 NF players on the o-line, two of whom were rated 4-star or better (going by Rivals). The 2011 unit will have 9 NF players, all going into their third year or better in the program, five of whom were rated 4-star or better. Molk and Huyge have the opportunity to be longtime starters going into this, their senior season. Big upgrade in terms of talent.

DL: Roh, three year starter. Van Bergen, three year starter. Martin, four year starter. Throw in Campbell and Lalota and you have five blue chip recruits with lots of experience. Losing Graham is big, but I'll take the increased experience across the board with the hopes that one of many other options pans out. Paskorz, Wilkins, and Talbott will be second year players providing depth along with Herron, meaning there will be no true freshmen on the two deep, much less in the starting lineup (like we've had each of the last two years). Upgrade, especially in terms of experience and depth.

LB: This is a position group in terrible shape right now. We have only four NF's on scholarship. Three of them will be gone by 2011, though I don't know how much they will be missed. Brown has done an admirable job as a stop-gap starter after a senior-season position switch. Ezeh just got benched in favor of a walk-on, and Mouton, much like "Nuke" LaLoosh, is still kind of all over the place. Demens and Smith replace the 4-star power of the departed Mouton and Brown, while Jones, Hawthorne, Bell and C. Gordon serve as a 4-for-1 swap with Ezeh (all joining JB Fitzgerald who will be a senior). In short, the star power stays the same but we add three more guys (along with any second year contribution from Kinard and Robinson, to boot). Leach will also still be around (though I hope this proves irrelevant). Enormous upgrade in depth (Can you say actual competition for PT?) with a bump in talent as well.

CB: After Booboo got the boot, we have two NF corners on scholarship (like at linebacker, just enough to field a team). Warren and Woolfolk have both been solid contributors, but swapping them for Turner, Witty, Floyd, Talbott, Avery and anybody else we bring in this year is a trade I make any day (equal in star power, but much longer on depth). Upgrade (though I'm a big Donovan Warren fan, really hope he stays another year).

S: This is an even bigger depth-chart disaster than corner or linebacker. We currently have one NF scholarship safety (not even enough to field a team). One guy, for two positions. Even that wouldn't be so bad if that guy was Superman or Taylor Mays, but sadly it is only Mike Williams. Williams (and Kovacs) will still be here in 2011 along with Vlad, T. Gordon, and anybody else we bring in this year. Enormous upgrade (because actually having players on the team is kind of important).

There. Hopefully that gives everyone immense hope for the future and explains why we still kind of suck. Presumably making nearly every single position group markedly better will improve team performance substantially. Frankly, I can't wait for kickoff to get here. Here's to 2011 (and hopefully still kicking Purdue's ass this week just to keep things interesting).

Go Blue!



November 3rd, 2009 at 10:43 PM ^

People might not like looking past this week, let alone next season, but it's nice to have a somewhat definitive light at the end of the tunnel. Whether or not our defense sucks next year enough to sink us again, 2011 has to be significantly better because of the across-the-board improvements you list.

My one concern? You've now jinxed us, and every one of those players is going to transfer... especially at safety.


November 3rd, 2009 at 11:04 PM ^

Our defense has been horrible and we still have had a great chance of losing only 2 games this year. Our youth and lack of D almost took MSU and Iowa on the road. (I know that almost doesn't count) A year of growth as people, as a team, in the system will show ten fold next year. We won't lose every single road game next year I'd venture to guess.


November 4th, 2009 at 9:30 AM ^

but people also seem to forget that we squeaked out those two wins against ND and Indiana (yes that Indiana) in the same way we almost beat Iowa and MSU, but didn't.

I'm still positive about RR and this teams future, but we are just 2 late game Taterific plays from only having 3 wins. . . again. Including NO conference wins, getting hosed by Illinois, and with a distinct possibility of losing the rest of our games.

We absolutely suck right now; not in every way, but certainly in terms of offensive consistency, and passing D.

Finishing the season strong (even without the wins) would sure go a long way in the hope dept.


November 4th, 2009 at 1:48 PM ^

I agree completely that we could have lost 2 games just as easily as we could have won 2 more games. We are on the cusp on turning it around is the way I see it. We are jsut as close to suckass aas we are to contending for the big ten.

I hope we win 1 more and get a bowl game. I still dont think 7 wins is out of the picture. I may be underrating Wisc but I don't think they have to offense to go ballistic on our defense like an Illinois does.


November 3rd, 2009 at 11:01 PM ^

Good work. It'll probably wander aimlessly into the MGoBoard nether regions by tomorrow and could probably be a decent diary. This is what people need to see instead of "F--- me, F--- my life." Good work though. We have such a young team in a new system and the improvement from last year to this is incredible and I have to assume that will continue next year. Getting Tate a year of growth at the QB position and getting more depth and DG in. our offense wont miss a beat. Hopefully our defense misses a few beats from this year.


November 3rd, 2009 at 11:36 PM ^

I agree with Hammer - this should be a diary. By tomorrow this will have faded to the depths of the board. If this were a diary, at least it would be on the front page for a day or two, giving more people the chance to see the good things to come if we just have some patience.

Just for the record, I'm in no way giving up on this season. I still hold out hope that the loss to Illinois will light a fire beneath our players and coaches, and they will find a way to win the last three games remaining on the schedule. I'm hoping the same team that came out against Notre Dame in September comes out against Purdue on Saturday.

Again, great post PurpleStuff.


November 3rd, 2009 at 11:37 PM ^

The only thing I really disagree with here is Denard. I think with DG coming off his redshirt, we will move Denard. Can't keep him off the field, get the ball in his hands etc etc


November 4th, 2009 at 12:03 AM ^

I mentioned this in another thread, but I think when Gardner gets here, he's the backup to Tate and Denard is moved to a Percy Harvin type role. Denard will be moved all over the field, in different positions given the situation, giving defensive coordinators nightmares. In a perfect world, I would love to see Gardner redshirt, but I think Rich Rod will be under too much pressure to win in 2010, so I don't think Gardner redshirts next year.

willis j

November 4th, 2009 at 8:32 AM ^

moving will have to do a lot with how C. Jones developes and the next years recruiting goes. I'm not saying a move is out of the question, but next year we will have

Tate True Soph
Denard True Soph
Devin True/R Fresh
C Jones R Fresh almost guarnateed

If they move Jones AND Denard, that leaves only 2 QBs viable. Unless the class after Gardner and Jones pulls in another guy or two.

If you move him after next year, how quickly will he pick up a new position? You dont want to wast his JR year. Can you RS him? Would he even be OK with that at this point? I doubt it.

I wouldnt be surprised to see Denard's roll at QB grow as he gets experienced. I wouldnt be surprised to see a move either. I think RR and McGee are enarmored with him at QB with past visions of Pat White in their sleep.


November 4th, 2009 at 12:00 AM ^

I don't think DRob will be moved without his permission. His ex-HS coach was quoted as saying that "Denard is happy" and something like "it goes to show that RR keeps his word" for keeping him at QB. I don't think RR wants to risk that kind of reputation for integrity in a crucial recruiting state like Florida.

I do see some plays in the future with DRob and Forcier in the game at the same time, though. If DRob becomes good enough to be a threat to pass off the reverse, I would imagine that we could see 8-10 plays a game at slot once DG is able to be a bona fide back-up QB. This would work pretty well for 2011 if DG progresses as planned; DRob could start a "slash" resume for the NFL while still playing QB at UM.

I really hope that DG can get a redshirt next year; it would mean the QB situation is in good hands for quite awhile.

Greg McMurtry

November 4th, 2009 at 9:52 AM ^

I recall seeing a board entry that showed that a player's second year sees the most improvement. Shouldn't both Tate and Denard then see vast improvement in their game? Wouldn't it then be more likely that DG gets a redshirt? I agree with you that this would be the best case scenario in 2010 and beyond.

Also, perhaps Tate can add maybe 10 lbs to his frame to be a bit more durable and DRob can get more work on his passing and knowledge of the system. These are the things I'm hoping for.


November 4th, 2009 at 1:41 AM ^

That was pretty refreshing read considering the rampant negativity amongst Michigan fans right now...hopefully we can fill out the rest of this recruiting class with some defense (it looks like that will be the case). It seems like the D will lag behind the O by a year, but hopefully that will be rectified a few years down the road.

It really surprises me how much some folks undervalue the concept of depth on a football team. Teams like Bama, USC, UF, etc. are elite not only because they have great starters but because they have impeccable depth as well, especially along the lines. A very young team with glaring holes, depth and talent-wise, does not a 9+ win team make. Unfortunately, the only medicine for our current situation is time (time to allow RR to recruit depth/talent and time for the current players to mature and improve).


November 4th, 2009 at 1:58 AM ^

I was going to write a diary about this actually, only for next season but I think your work is strong enough - good job. Just a few "what ifs" (for 2010):

1) What if Tate isn't our starting QB? Maybe he can't grasp the cold weather game and maybe Marv Marijuanavich's coaching was not a good thing (when has it ever been a good thing?).

a) If you think the coaching staff isn't telling Gardner that he has a shot at starting next year, you're high.

b) If Denard can learn the playbook, does he become a better QB than Tate? (you cannot convince me he'll start throwing more accurate passes - look at his HS record, but he could conceivably become more knowledgeable with the offense).

2) What if the Rich Rod era is no more?

a) What happens if the new AD is a "pussy" and can't handle the heat from fans calling for his head, or a "game changer" and mixes things up by firing an inefficient-thus-far Coach Rod?

b) Do we experience a mass exodus like before (assuming our new coach isn't spread friendly)?

c) Do we lose any current recruits?

3) Who do we get to play LB/CB/S? I mean, this is the most glaring question to me.

a) Do any WR move to CB?

b) DE to LB and LB to S?

c) Anyone in the upcoming class outside of Marvin Robinson who could contribute next year?

d) Will Vlad ever develop into more than just "a recruit with a cool name?"

I think before we worry about 2011 - we have to focus on the three questions above. Some things I know will improve:

1) QB Play. Tate, Denard, or Devin - one will be better than what we saw in 2008 and 2009.

2) O Line. One more year / not losing anyone major = definitive plus.

3) Deep RB and WR corp. Not worried here - although it would be nice to have a kid or two step up in the Mike Hart / Braylon Edwards mold (although last year this was obviously impossible, and this year with inconsistent QB and line play - looks to be the same)

Sorry for the long post, but all things that I was thinking at this moment.


November 4th, 2009 at 2:10 AM ^

His kid was pretty good before he fell in love with the Afghani vein candy.

As for 2010, I think we'll see a cleaner performance from the offense and a still struggling defense (still inexperienced, some talent/depth holes start to get filled but we also lose Graham and maybe Warren). I think 7 to 9 wins should be the expectation level (much like 5 to 7 wins was this year) with Warren's return as a big variable.

cooler 517

November 4th, 2009 at 9:35 AM ^

O-line recruits, and maybe a stud skill position player at each position, next years recruiting class will more than likely attempt to bring the D up to par with the O. We'll have 3.5 (Denard?) qb's, 6 rb's, 7 slot ninjas, and 8 wide outs coming back. The offense should be good for awhile, and about 18 recruits on defense next year will balance everything out. Just a year behind the O, like someone said earlier


November 4th, 2009 at 2:45 AM ^

I guess you can add Carvin Johnson into your list of possible backups or even starter for safety. I guess we will just have to wait for him to get onto campus to see how much of a sleeper he really is. I trust that coaches have done their due diligence in recruiting him.


November 4th, 2009 at 6:52 AM ^

I don't know about the corners being better. It's not like Avery, Talbott, and Witty are going to be as good as Warren. On a good team they would not start. Hopefully Turner and Floyd can start, with Cullen #3.


November 4th, 2009 at 1:57 PM ^

Warren is definitely a hard guy to replace, but if Turner lives up to the star hype he should be an upper level corner by his third year (maybe not as good as Warren, but still very effective). That would leave 5 guys (I forgot Teric Jones in the earlier list) plus anyone else we sign this year competing for one spot (rather than just having one guy like we do now). We could also actually play nickle coverage and would have backups if somebody got hurt. Combine that with the fact that we should, you know, have real live safeties by then and I don't see how the secondary as a whole isn't light-years better.


November 4th, 2009 at 7:45 AM ^

but this is a fairly promising analysis. What M really needs is a couple of stud, really stud recruits in the defensive backfield. Rich Rod is stockpiling speed, even if he may be converting offense to defense in some cases. If we can nab 1 or 2 true possible all conference or, god forbid, eventual all american candidates into the mix to anchor, things will improve tremendously. With all due respect to Carvin Whatshisname, he's not really what I have in mind.


November 4th, 2009 at 8:42 AM ^

You say we'll have 4 non-freshman linebackers, which is just enough to field a team. But since you counted Roh/Herron as defensive linemen (and rightly so, in my opinion), then there are only three linebacker positions - WILL, MIKE, and SAM.


November 4th, 2009 at 1:29 PM ^

Yeah, I was definitely not a math major but I did catch that. I guess in my mind, having 4 guys for 3 spots is still just enough to field a team because you still have no depth and no real opportunity for competition (the guys who are there are going to play even if they aren't really any good).


November 4th, 2009 at 1:37 PM ^

I for one expect attrition levels to return to normal levels now that the transition storm has passed. Even removing a few guys here and there from the above list, I think you still see a drastic strengthening of most position groups. I also didn't include the 2010 recruits who have yet to commit or any contribution from the 2011 class, so I think at the end of the day the attrition thing should come out at a wash at worst.


November 4th, 2009 at 11:43 AM ^

Anything past 2010 won't matter for Rich Rod and his staff he the defense doesn't improve.
I have faith in RR that he knows offense. I question his knowledge of defense.


November 5th, 2009 at 5:00 PM ^

We say this last year that our offense must be be improved this year because we only lose Mike Massey. Doesn't seem to be the best tool to project success, does it? You can't use the fact that we'll have experienced players so we must be miles better.