Michigan Personnel Preview - Offense

Michigan Personnel Preview - Offense

Two athletic true freshmen quarterbacks look to make life difficult for Irish pass rushers on Saturday in Ann Arbor.

The Wolverines ran for 242 yards on 50 carries in the opener, including 111 yards (on 22 rushes) by the freshmen quarterback tandem of Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson. Robinson debuted with a 43-yard, broken-play touchdown run in the first quarter after Forcier drove the Wolverines to a 7-0 lead with a first play, 52-yard drive culminating in a touchdown pass to new favorite target, Junior Hemingway.

The Michigan freshmen passing duo combined for 197 yards through the air (completing 15 of 24 attempts) with three touchdown tosses, all by Forcier.

Michigan converted 6 of 16 third-down chances and 2 of 3 fourth-down opportunities. Wolverine's second-year head coach Rich Rodriguez will continue to rotate quarterbacks (though Forcier will get the start). Rodriguez called his in-game plan of attack "a feel thing."

Rodriguez features an up-tempo spread option attack with multiple looks offensively. During last Saturday's first two touchdown drives, the Wolverines showed eight different formations including the varied looks of shotgun split-backs; standard I-formation, and 5-receiver sets.

Below is a look at the Wolverines' starters and key reserves for Saturday's game with the Irish in Ann Arbor.

Skill Position Starters

  • Quarterback – Tate Forcier: The true freshman enrolled at UM in January and looked the part of a seasoned veteran for much of the Wolverine's 31-7 victory over Western Michigan last week. Forcier is elusive in the pocket, displaying a deft sidestep move and becomes a much more dangerous offensive weapon when allowed to break containment as he excels at buying time and throwing on the move (especially to his left, though Forcier is right-handed).

    Forcier repeatedly baited Broncos blitzers outside the pocket with the threat of a run before pulling up and finding a receiver breaking open downfield. Though the freshman is referred to as "more quick than fast," he had no problem turning the corner when needed vs. WMU. Forcier is a willing runner on QB-keepers and could be susceptible to a few big hits Saturday against a much-more talented set of opponents in the Irish defense.

  • Running Back – #23 Carlos Brown: The 6'0" 210-pound senior is a disciplined North/South runner out of the I-formation and also adept in blitz pickup, a key ingredient at the running back position in Rodriguez's spread-option attack. Brown is quick through the hole with no wasted motion and hits inside running gaps hard, consistently running through arm tackles in the season-opener. Brown finished with 10 carries for 54 yards last Saturday.
  • Wide Receiver – #13 Greg Matthews: The 6'3" 209-pound senior caught two sideline passes for 18 yards vs. Western Michigan last week. Matthews, who will also return punts vs. the Irish on Saturday, caught 35 passes for 409 yards and two scores last season.
  • Wide Receiver – #21 Junior Hemingway: . Entered the season with six career receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown in 14 games played. After a strong fall camp, Hemingway opened the '09 season with a sideline catch (on Forcier's first career pass), then capped the drive with a 28-yard touchdown reception to give Michigan a lead it would never relinquish. Hemingway snared five passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns, the second on a 44-yard pass from Forcier with just over three minutes remaining in the first half to give the Wolverines a 31-0 advantage.
  • Wide Receiver – #3 Martavious Odoms: The slightly built Odoms (5'9" 172 pounds) is the ideal slot receiver for Rodriguez's spread attack. As a true freshman in 2008, Odoms caught 49 passes for 443 yards. Irish head coach Charlie Weis described him as a quick "home-run hitter" and a "make you miss guy." Odoms caught just one pass for six yards last week and will double as the Wolverines kick returner against the Irish.
  • Tight End – #86 Kevin Koger: A solid athlete, Koger grabbed just six passes last season for one score, but started his 2009 sophomore season with three receptions for 31 yards and a wide-open misdirection touchdown on a Forcier roll-out last week. Koger occasionally lines up in the slot but his touchdown grab occurred from a traditional, two-tight end power set vs. the Broncos.

Offensive Linemen – Four Returning Starters

  • Left Tackle– #71 Mark Ortmann: The 6'7" 288-pound 5th-year senior has played in 25 career games (with 13 starts, including 10 at his current left tackle position). Ortmann missed last year's contest with the Irish due to injury.
  • Left Guard – #52 Stephen Schilling: 6'4" 304-pound senior moved from right tackle last season to left guard in the spring. Schilling has started in 23 of his 26 career games played, though each occurred on the right side of the Wolverine's line until last Saturday vs. WMU.
  • Center – #50 David Molk: 6'2" 275-pound junior started every game and made every snap for the Wolverines as a redshirt freshman in 2008.
  • Right Guard – #60 David Moosman: The 6'5, 293-pound 5th-year senior started 12 games at right guard in 2008 after serving as Michigan's backup center in ‘07.
  • Right Tackle – #72 Mark Huyge: 6'6" 288 pound junior will make his second career start Saturday against the Irish after failing to appear in a game as a true freshman or sophomore in 2007-08. Huyge is the Wolverine's only non-returning starter on the O-Line but his play at right tackle in the spring and fall camp allowed Michigan to move Schilling (who started vs. the Irish at right tackle last season) to left guard.

Key Reserves

  • Quarterback – #16 Denard Robinson: "I've never seen a kid any faster…" offered Michigan running back coach Fred Jackson early in fall camp. The 5'10" freshman with perpetually untied shoe-laces is indeed a different-kind-of-fast (Robinson finished third in the 100-meter dash as a Florida high school star last year). His first career snap was nullified by a procedure penalty. He fumbled the next shotgun snap, scooped up the ball, broke two tackles and darted between a host of Broncos defenders for an electrifying 43-yard broken-play touchdown run.

    Robinson's currently a "one-read QB" that is, when a pass is called, he looks for a quick throw and if its not there, his next progression is as a runner rather than to find an alternate receiver downfield. Robinson also abandoned the pocket too quickly last week on designed quarterback draws (never baiting the defense into playing a possible pass). To rate Robinson's passing skills as "limited" at this point would be a severe understatement, though it's possible he's the quickest quarterback in the nation for 2009.

  • Running Back – #4 Brandon Minor: Did not play in the opener vs. Western Michigan due to an ankle injury. According to Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez, even if Minor is able to play, senior Carlos Brown will start the contest against the Irish. Minor led the Wolverines last season with 533 yards on 103 carries and scored nine touchdowns.
  • Tight End – #80 Martell Webb: The 6'4" 245-pound former wide receiver is a strong athlete and mobile downfield target as Michigan's second tight end.
  • Wide Receiver – #19 Kelvin Grady: Former UM basketball player will play in the slot vs. the Irish. Look for Grady to be the target of a few Robinson quick passes on bubble screens in an effort to get the shifty runner in space. Grady took an end-around for an 11-yard gain last week.
  • Wide Receiver - #82 LaTerryal Savoy: Caught a bubble screen from Robinson for a gain of 11 yards and a second quarter first down in Michigan's season-opening win. The 6'3" 214-pound senior entered the season with five receptions for 54 yards and one career touchdown.
  • Quarterback – #8 Nick Sheridan: The junior won just one of his three starts last season and opened 2009 0-2 with an interception. Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez is again expected to use three quarterbacks at some point Saturday, though Sheridan's time on the field should be limited.

Note: An analysis of key individual matchups between the Irish and Wolverines and a game preview will be published Friday.

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