First off, the offense under Matt Gutierrez -- I know the position hasn't been decided, etc., but ... first off, the offense under Matt Gutierrez.
Gutierrez needs a running back that can rush the ball, else they will have trouble with pressure-on-the-QB from opposing defenses. And you can bet defense will pressure Matt (in fact you'll see pressure being applied by defenses all over the league with all the new quarterbacks in the Big Ten).
In order to escape the pressure you'll see Gutierrez,at times, running rollouts, bootlegs, screen passes ... Michigan did not have the roll-out option with Navarre. That is Gutierrez's great asset -- his mobility, which also gives him the option to run the ball as well as throw it. So when Gurierrez rolls out, particularly in 3rd and short or goal line situations, he can run it in there too. Gutierrez won't roll out ALL the time on pass plays of course -- he will drop back as well. But he does have the roll out, etc., in his arsenal.
Gutierrez is smart enough to be a Michigan quarterback, and he has enough athletic ability. The question is -- if Michigan gets behind like against Minnesota last year, can he throw the ball down the field. Hopefuly he will not be in that situation, of being far behind ... but if he does find himself there, we'll see. The same goes for the two minute offense -- we'll see if he can be effective where he HAS to be throwing the ball downfield. It certainly helps that he has Edwards, Avant, and Breaston as wideouts.
Overall, I'm not too worried. Gutierriz will get the job done -- as long as they don't get far behind. If Gutierrez does struggle ... with two more young quarterbacks on the pine, they don't have to stick with him no matter what.
And regardless of what happens or how well Gutierrez does ... I think you'll see two quarterbacks play against Miami.
The most interesting thing regarding the quarterrback position is whether Chad Henne will redshirt. With a Sept. 5th first game, I think there will be a Sept. 4th decision. If Henne doesn't play in that first game against Miami, you can conclude that Michigan wants to redshirt him. If Henne doesn't play in that game, he'll still be the #3 quarterback behind Gutierrez and Clayton Richard, but they'll do everything they can to redshirt him ... they'll have decided that two QBs are enough, or that Spencer Brinton's shoulder will get better by later in the season. Of course, if they don't play Henne and then they need him in game 6, say ... that's the risk they have to weigh. And even if Henne moves up to 2nd string somewhere during the season, it still depends -- they may still try to redshirt him. Another part of the decision is if they think Henne'll stay for five years.
Michigan had to make that same decision with Drew Henson ... they had to decide whether to play him as a freshman. In Henson's case they decided early not to redshirt him, and then they made sure to play him. There was not really a QB controversy with Brady that year -- Henson was second string but once they decided not to redshirt him then they made sure to play him some.
As to whether Michigan will redshirt Henne -- they don't know yet. They still have to figure out their game plan with Henne. That's a major decision -- and I can tell you they don't know yet. There are long-reaching effects of the decision: it affects recruiting, and it affects Clayton Richard. They will not figure that out until late in the week of the Miami game. Trust me on that one.
But I think we'll know after that game -- if they don't redshirt Henne I believe they will play him against Miami.
Then there's Steven Breaston. Breaston will line up some at quarterback - that is a fact. He'll take the snap and run the option. It'll be a matter of timing as far as when we'll see it -- the situation and also what the defense is giving them. It'll likely be in a goal line situation, and in big games ... like against OSU, that's whan you'll see him. And possibly at Notre Dame, Iowa, MSU, OSU - those kind of games. We'll also see him on the throwback pass to Gutierrez too. We saw those plays a couple time last year, and we'll see them more in '04. We'll see a lot of reverses with Breason too by the way -- although he won't be at Qb for that. Heck, if I were the coach, I'd put Breaston in at QB a time or two in every game, just so defenses have to prepare for him.
The number one thing on offense, with a first year quarterback rolling out, and with David Underwood and Jerome Jackson at running back -- avoiding turnovers ... interceptions, fumbles.
The second biggest thing on offense -- if by "offense" we mean scoring points -- is special teams. If Steve Breaston is less than 100% with his foot -- they'll need him primarily on punt returns, and next as a receiver ... so may not see him on kickoff returns. So we could well see Tim Bracken, Carl Tabb, Marlin Jackson, Markus Curry on kickoff returns. My guess -- on kickoff returns it'll be Bracken and Tabb.
Michigan Football: Ouimet On The Quarterbacks
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