2004 Michigan Wolverine Football Season Preview

<b>Head Coach:</b> Lloyd Carr (9th Season, 86-26) <br><br><b>Last Season's Record:</b> 10-3 (7-1, 1st in Big Ten, No. 6 AP, No. 7 USA Today/ESPN) <br><br><b>Last Bowl Appearance:</b> 2004 Rose Bowl (28-14 loss to No.1 <A HREF=http://usc.TheInsiders.com>USC</A><br><br><b>Key matchup(s):</b> Sat., Sep. 11 <A HREF=http://notredame.TheInsiders.com>Notre Dame</A> 2:30 p.m. NBC; Sat., Sep. 25 <A HREF=http://iowa.TheInsiders.com>Iowa</A>; Sat., Nov. 20 Ohio State 1:00 p.m. ABC

Star Power: Marlin Jackson - CB 6-1 199 Sr.; David Bass - OG 6-5 307 5th; Braylon Edwards - WR 6-3 206 Sr; S Ernest Shazor - S 6-4 226 Jr.

Notable Additions: Tim Jamison - OLB 6-3 230 Fr. Riverdale, Ill. (Harvey Thornton); Jamar Adams - S 6-2 190 Charlotte, N.C. (Butler); Doug Dutch - WR 6-0 190 Bowie, Md. (Gonzaga College)

Notable Subtractions: QB John Navarre, RB Chris Perry

Notable Returnees: WR Steve Breaston, WR Jason Avant, OLB Pierre Woods, OLB Lamarr Woodley

09/04/04Miami (Oh.)
09/11/04@Notre Dame
09/18/04San Diego State
10/30/04Michigan State
11/20/04@Ohio State
Offensive Overview: The overall offensive talent on the on the 2004 Wolverines is among the best in the country. They return the top receiving corps in the nation (Sr. Braylon Edwards, 6-3, 206; Jr. Jason Avant, 6-1, 209; So. Steve Breaston, 6-1, 170), and that explosiveness on the flanks has many predicting great things for the upcoming campaign. And Michigan returns three offensive linemen (5th yr. OG David Baas, 6-5, 307; Jr. OT Adam Stenavich, 6-5, 313; Jr. OG Matt Lentz, 6-6, 316) and both of its top two tight ends (Jrs. Tyler Ecter, 6-6, 249 and Tim Massaquoi, 6-4, 249). That said, the Maize and Blue will be lining up new starters right up the middle of the offense, at center (So. Mark Bihl, 6-4, 301), quarterback (So. Matt Gutierrez, 6-4, 230), and running back (5th David Underwood, 6-0, 227, or So. Jerome Jackson, 5-11, 198). Fortunately there is no shortage of talented replacements, but the overall lack of experience is what tempers the expectations of some pundits who follow this team closely. Opposing teams' defense will no doubt be geared to stopping the Wolverine running game and coming after new QB Gutierrez -- look for Michigan to counter by running an offense similar to the National Championship 1997 season, rolling the mobile Gutierrez out of the pocket and running bootleg pass patterns to the tight ends.

Defensive Overview: In a year where there is inexperience at a number of key offensive positions, the 2004 Michigan team will have to be lead by its defense. Depth is a concern at a few spots, and the D-line has all new starters (Jr. DE Pat Massey, 6-8, 276, Jr. DT Gabe Watson, 6-4, 333; and So. Larry Harrison, 6-3, 313), but there isn't any question that this Michigan Defense is as physically talented a unit as Head Coach Lloyd Carr has had. The question before it is: has that talent matured enough to become a dominant force. During the spring it appeared that the Michigan coaching staff made a few changes to help achieve this goal. The most significant difference was the use of the "3-4" scheme. The Wolverines are immensely talented at the linebacker spot (JR. OLB Pierre Woods, 6-5, 248; So. OLB Lamarr Woodley, 6-2, 268; and JR. ILB's Scott McClintock, 6-2, 243, and Lawrence Reid, 6-1, 219), and the 3-4 alignment allows them to get four LB's on the field at the same time. The move could signify a more attacking style on defense -- and the Wolverines have the personnel to be very effective at it. And we saved the best for last: the defensive backfield could be the best in the country: Sr. CB's Marlin Jackson (6-1, 199, and Marcus Curry (5-11, 183); Jr. S Ernest Shazor (6-4, 226); and So. S Ryan Mundy (6-1, 209).

Special Teams Overview: As far as Michigan's punter and place kicker for 2004, the Wolverines is in good shape with both. Fifth year punter Adam Finley (6-4, 209) was a weapon last year when his protection was good (he averaged 40.0 yards), and sophomore PK Garrett Rivas (5-9, 210) won the job early in the season last year and went 9 for 12 in field goals.

In the kick return department, Michigan is in better-than-good shape for 2004. Redshirt sophomore Steve Breaston (6-1, 169) is being picked for preseason All Big Ten and even some All American honors after returning two punts for touchdowns in 2004.

Michigan will take a trip back to the Rose Bowl (or better) if... the team can copy the '97 Wolverines: the offense taking care of the ball and not beating itself, and the defense holding opponents to 10 points a game.

TheInsiders.com 2004 College Football Preview
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