Ouimet's Pre Spring Game Report: Offense

Former Michigan Assistant Recruiting Coordinator Mark Ouimet analyzes the offensive positon groups as Spring Practice starts to wind down.


"John Navarre made big strides from 2001 to 2002. I'm looking for even bigger strides this year. Coming from Central Michigan, Scot Loeffler had a huge rebuilding job to do with John's game, and he's done excellent work. Scot has taught John a lot of things, especially with checkdowns and understanding coverages and defenses. John has a much better idea of where to go with the football in all situations at this point. In the past he was taught to stick with that primary read a little longer, whereas now he makes quick and decisive decisions to go elsewhere if the first read is taken away. He's become excellent at delivering the ball to his hot reads. He is also doing a much better job in the pocket. He looks more confident and steps up (to avoid the rush) a great deal more. John should be given a lot of credit for his progress but one wouldn't be wrong in giving just as much credit to Scot Loeffler."

"The most interesting part of the quarterbacking situation has to be the backups. Matt Gutierrez will probably end up being the #2 quarterback going into the first game versus Central Michigan. I would look for both he and Brinton to play a lot in four to five games this year."

Running Backs and Full Backs

"Everyone knows that Chris Perry is the #1 running back. Because of that, they're probably keeping his reps down to protect him for the fall. Another reason is so they can develop two other running backs: Underwood and Rembert. Those two will likely be the #2 and #3 running backs in the fall. They are likely splitting a tremendous amount of reps. Both kids are having great springs. Underwood understands the offense a little bit better and is a little bit bigger and I think he'll emerge as #2."

"I think Timmy Bracken has gotten a little lost in the shuffle. I wouldn't say that he's completely out of it. But I think he has a ways to go and the injuries have really set him back. He still has an outside shot because he had some speed and good hands. A role I think he might excel at is a third down back. Something like what Ronnie Harmon was in the pros for all of those years. Timmy is a guy who can really catch the ball out of the backfield and make people miss once he catches it."

"As I said in the pre-spring practice article, someone was going to be switched to fullback with Sean Sanderson absent. Brian Thompson came in as a linebacker, but he's a guy that we knew could possibly play another position. We felt that he could play TE or FB because he played well at both of those positions in high school. But he wanted to try LB first, so that's what we went with. It's a great switch and just an overall great move for the offense. He's very athletic and is really good with the ball in his hands. He's going to bring a lot of what Askew brought to the offense in terms of catching the ball. He can also block well and he's a tough son of a gun. The main thing for him will be repetitions. He just has to learn the position. It's my opinion that he will emerge as the starting fullback going into the first game of the season. As for Sean, it's going to be tough for him because of the situation he's dealing with and also because of missing the entire spring. In the fall, he'll have been out of the playing rotation for quite a while and Thompson and Dudley won't have as much rust. Plus Thompson is just a great athlete and I really think he's going to excel. I think it's going to be tough for Sean to unseat Brian. I'm still holding out hope that we'll see Sean in the fall though. Also, if Jim Presley moves to FB, which I think is a very good possibility, I think he'll play this year."

Wide Receivers

"The main three receivers right now are Braylon Edwards, Tyrece Butler, and Jason Avant. After that you're going to have Jermaine Gonzales, Steve Breaston, Calvin Bell, and Carl Tabb. Avant is an extremely tough kid. We saw him at the summer camp and knew right away that he was as tough as nails. He's just a damn good football player and he isn't afraid to catch the ball over the middle. The reason I bring that up is that's a tough thing for a lot of kids to do. Many kids will short arm that pass over the middle, but that's just not part of Avant's make-up. Last year he moved all the way up to the #3 receiver by the end of the year, but Michigan fans didn't really get a good look at what he'll bring to the table. They haven't really seen his full ability. He's the type of receiver that will outmuscle defensive backs at the line of scrimmage and when the ball is in the air. He also has good speed, so I think Michigan fans will be impressed with what they see from him this year."

"Butler has had a great spring and I think his contribution will mirror what he was doing early in the season last year. He had 6 catches for 85 yards versus Washington last year, and a number of those came on third down. He knows exactly what Malone and Campbell are looking for in a receiver and he's done the things he needed to do to improve. I'm expecting nice things from him."

"Everyone knows about Edwards. He brings great speed and size to the table. He's the number one option on passing plays, and that's now reflected by the number on his jersey. He has that big play ability that will stretch the field and open other things up on offense. He was dominating this spring before he became hobbled with a minor injury. The main thing he'll have to improve on this year is consistency. He had some great games last year, but he also had some where he dropped a few balls. If he clears that up he'll have one of the best seasons a Michigan receiver has ever had!"

"The young guys will also get a few snaps this year. Speed defines Carl Tabb's game. He just has to work on becoming a more complete receiver. I think Michigan fans will see Steve Breaston mostly on special teams this year and a little on offense. He'll be a great addition to the specialty unit, but with Edwards, Butler and Avant, his touches at receiver will be limited. They just have more experience and are more physically able to take the pounding at this point. Steve is progressing very well for a kid that has only been playing receiver for one year."

Offensive Line

"The starting offensive line has already been pretty much determined with Adam Stenavich at LT, Davis Bass at LG, Dave Pearson at C, Matt Lentz at RG, and Tony Pape at RT. That being said, we all knew that Leo Henige would be getting a shot at some point. He's a great football player and he's huge! He also has really good feet and a real bad attitude (toward the opponent), so he's going to see some time at one of the guard spots this year. The first guys off the bench will be Leo and Courtney Morgan. Another player I mentioned in the spring was Mark Bihl. I think he's the center of the future at the University of Michigan. I think his move to that spot might precipitate a move of Andy Christophel to guard. Another kid that has had a good spring was Rueben Riley. If I recall correctly, we recruited him as a tackle. He then moved to guard. He's shed some pounds and may have grown some from what I hear. He's another kid that has a bright future."

"It's my opinion that this will be Michigan's most physical group since the early nineties."

Tight Ends

"Andy Mignery saw an opportunity to get some playing time at TE and it couldn't have worked out much better. He's turning into a real leader. We already knew he was a great athlete, so the fact that he'll contribute at TE isn't much of a surprise. He and Massaquoi will definitely be Michigan's starting tight ends. Massaquoi just has to continue to develop. He's probably the best athlete ever to play the position, so it's just a matter of time for him."

"Tyler Ecker is coming back in May, so he'll be back for summer conditioning and two a days. He is a HUGE addition. I'll tell you what; as a true freshman coming in a few years back...he was probably one of the best tight ends ever to come through Michigan. I'm expecting big things from him as well. I think he'll play right away. The young guys just have to continue to improve."

Kick Returner

"LeSueur will be one of them. The other returner most likely won't be Perry because I think they'll try to protect him. I think Breaston, Jackson, Curry, and maybe McCoy will be the other candidates. It will most likely be one of the first three guys I mentioned."

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