Skill Position StartersThree key offensive players from Michigan's 2009 win over the Irish have exited or been exorcised from the starting lineup. Last year's starting quarterback and Irish-killer Tate Forcier is now third string behind Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner. Leading rusher Brandon Minor and leading receiver Greg Mathews both found training camp homes with the Chicago Bears, though the oft-injured Minor was released last week.
The Wolverines offense – a read-option running game and short-passing game – is predicated on speed, quickness and misdirection.
- Quarterback – 16 Sophomore Denard Robinson: With uncommon quickness and blinding speed, the 6'0" 193-pound true sophomore will be the focal point of Saturday's contest. Broke out in his first career quarterback start last week, totaling a program position record 197 rushing yards on 29 carries with an unmolested 32-yard touchdown scamper intermixed. Robinson added 186 passing yards and a touchdown, hitting 19 of 22 passes, though most were thrown horizontally or within 12 yards of scrimmage on two-read slant routes. The natural runner is better on the roll than in pocket if looking to strike down field, as he tends to wind up to throw, though the ball does have plenty of zip when he has time to set his feet.
Played in all 12 games last season as a QB, RB and slot receiver, but failed to offer balance to the read-option offense. Saturday, however, Robinson looked the role of a future All-American, completely dominating the game and riddling the Huskies porous rushing defense throughout the contest with his uncanny stop-start ability. Nicknamed "Shoelace" because he never tied his shoes growing up, a practice that has carried over to the college gridiron. Runs a 4.32 40-yard dash and finished 3rd in Florida's Class 4A 100-meter dash.
- Running Back – #20 Junior Michael Shaw: The 6'1" 187-pounder finished last Saturday with 15 carries for 59 yards and a TD. Also caught a pass for 16 yards. Shaw is asked to lead block for Robinson, an element not intuitive to most defenses and something the Irish will need to react to in Week Two. Runs with more north-south power than does the smaller Smith (below); Shaw showed good strength on his 3-yard TD run Saturday, bouncing off multiple Huskies defenders in a short space.
- Running Back – #2 Sophomore Vincent Smith: The diminutive back (5'6" 180) scored on a beautiful, jitterbug TD run vs. Connecticut in the opener, eluding three would-be tackler's in a short space for a 12-yard, relatively untouched burst to pay dirt. Finished the contest with 51 yards on 14 carries while adding three receptions including an 11-yard score. Like Shaw, will occasionally lead Robinson through the B gaps on designed shotgun runs.
- Wide Receiver – #22 Junior Darryl Stonum: Burned the Irish with a 94-yard kick return touchdown last September. The 6'2" 195-pound target paced Michigan with five receptions in the season-opening win. Stonum ranks as the only player in Wolverines history to total more than 1,000 return yards in a single-season.
- Slot Receiver – #19 Redshirt-Junior Kelvin Grady: Along with Martavious Odoms, the 5'10" 176-pound Gray will need to be monitored on end around runs on misdirection pitches from Robinson. Recorded three receptions in the season opener totaling 23 yards.
- Slot Receiver – #9 Junior Martavious Odoms: Quick and elusive after the catch, the 5'8" 175-pounder was called "rugged" and "a tiger" by Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco on Tuesday. Started eight games last season and finished third on the squad in receptions with 22. Caught two passes for 23 yards on Saturday and will serve as a second kick returner alongside Stonum.
- Tight End – #86 Junior Kevin Koger: The 6'4" 255-pounder is a quality downfield target who caught four passes including a touchdown vs. the Irish last season. Also added a 26-yard catch late in the 3rd Quarter for a key first down in last year's Ann Arbor victory. Finished Saturday with three receptions vs. the Huskies.
- Left Tackle – #66 Redshirt-Junior Mark Huyge: Started 9 of 12 games last season at both tackle and guard. The 6'6" 306-pound veteran started at right tackle in last season's win over the Irish.
- Left Guard – #52 Senior Stephen Schilling: Three-year letterman is a two-time winner of the Wolverines' top offensive lineman award. At 6'5 308 pounds, Schilling can get to the second level of the defense. His matchup in space vs. Carlo Calabrese and Manti Te'o is key in Saturday's contest.
- Center – #50 Redshirt-Junior David Molk: Focal point of the offensive line and likely the Wolverine's blocking scheme Saturday vs. the Irish. The 6'2" 285 pound Molk is both freakishly strong and a sound technician; his success vs. Ian Williams in one-on-one opportunities is key to the inside draw runs Robinson needs to balance his speed to the outside.
- Right Guard – #65 Redshirt-Sophomore Patrick Omameh: Aggressive 6'4" 299-pound first-year player has earned his role in the offense, gaining 50 pounds since arriving on campus in Ann Arbor. Started the final three games last season at right guard.
- Right Tackle – #79 Senior Perry Dorrestein: The 6'7" 321-pound behemoth earned his 13th career start last week and also won the role of game captain.
- Slot Receiver – #8 Redshirt-Sophomore Terrence Robinson: Notched the longest play from scrimmage for the Wolverines last Saturday: a 43-yard reception. Could get the start over Kelvin Grady with Roy Roundtree listed as doubtful.
- Wide Receiver – #21 Redshirt-Junior Junior Hemingway: 6'1" 225-pound target finished fourth on the '09 Wolverines with 16 receptions. Hemingway has three career touchdowns in 11 starts.
- Wide Receiver – #12 Redshirt-Sophomore Roy Roundtree: Took a vicious shot early in the 3rd Quarter vs. Connecticut and left the game with rib injuries. A6'0" 176-pound All-Big 10 freshman selection last season, Roundtree is listed as doubtful for Saturday's matchup with the Irish.
- Fullback – #49 Redshirt-Junior John McColgan: 6'1" 231. Might get the occasional short-yardage opportunity but his true role is as a lead blocker in the occasional I-formation in short-yardage situations (or when the Wolverines are backed up against their own goal).
- Tight End – #80 Senior Martell Webb 6'4" 255 pounder has appeared in 13 consecutive contests for the Wolverines.
- Quarterback – #7 Freshman Devin Gardner: The No. 5 ranked incoming freshman quarterback according to Scout.com. At 6'4" 210 pounds, Gardner made his collegiate debut last week.
- Quarterback – #5 Sophomore Tate Forcier: Torched Notre Dame for 240 passing yards and 70 rushing yards last season, accounting for three touchdowns (and one interception). Appears to be a distant third-string at present after voicing his displeasure following a DNP-CD vs. Connecticut.