Scouting Michigan: the offense

GoBlueWolverine.com's Erik Werling provides this detailed 4-part breakdown of the Michigan Wolverines. Vanderbilt opens the 2006 season at Michigan on Saturday. Today Erik gives us a look at Michigan's offense.

2006 Michigan Wolverines Scouting Report: Michigan Offense:

Mike DeBord served as the offensive coordinator during his final three seasons at Michigan the first time around, which including three straight January 1st bowl victories in the Rose, Citrus and Orange Bowls. Michigan claimed the 1997 national championship during his first season as offensive coordinator, and capped his initial stint on the staff with a dramatic 35-34 overtime victory against Alabama in the Orange Bowl, in which Tom Brady probably played his best game at Michigan and one of the best games in Michigan history.

After that game DeBord took a head coaching job at Central Michigan University, but four years later he rejoined the Michigan staff, coaching the special teams and recruiting coordinator. For the 2006 season he is once again the Michigan offensive coordinator.

DeBord has stated that he realizes that offenses today have to score more points then in the past. Offenses today are spreading teams out, trying to create mismatches, and also taking more one on one opportunities against defenses. He also wants to use the entire field by getting guys deep and also using underneath crossing routes, something Michigan did not do much last season. DeBord also wants to use the right offense that makes use of the talent on the team. In the off season the offensive line decided they needed to be quicker and stronger, and lthey've ost weight to help from wearing down in the fourth quarter.

Looking back to when Mike DeBord was the offensive coordinator for Michigan the first time, he liked to use the running game to set up the passing game along with getting the tight ends more involved than Michigan has done in the past couple of year. Also the routes the wide receivers run might be a little simpler, quicker routes, working the whole field and getting the ball into the playmakers' hands. The main thing seems to get the running game back to what it has meant to Michigan in the past -- controlling the line of scrimmage along with controlling the game clock.

The five biggest things Michigan offense must do are: stay healthy, find other wide receivers beside Mario Manningham and Steve Breaston, get the tight ends involved into the passing game, limit turnovers, and acore touchdowns in the red zone instead of field goals as happened frequently last year.
 
Possible Starting line-up:
*Depending on injuries and final practices*
Position...........#..........Name.......................Class.

OT.................77..........Jake Long.................R-Jr.
LG.................57..........Adam Kraus.............R-Jr.
OC.................54..........Mark Bihl.................5th.
RG.................73..........Alex Mitchell............R-So.
RT.................72..........Rueben Riley............5th.
TE.................89..........Tyler Ecker...............5th.

WR................15..........Steve Breaston..........5th.
WR................86..........Mario Manningham..So.

FB.................40..........Obi Oluigbo..............5th.
TB.................20..........Mike Hart.................Jr.

QB..................7..........Chad Henne..............Jr.

These guys are battling for some playing time:
Kevin Grady #3 (TB), Carlos Brown #23 (TB), Mister Simpson #32 (TB), Andre Criswell #39 (FB), Will Paul #34 (FB), Adrian Arrington #16 (WR), Doug Dutch #81 (WR), LaTerryal Savoy #82 (WR), Carl Tabb #17 (WR), Greg Mathews #13 (WR), Mike Massey #83 (TE), Carson Butler #85 (TE), Mike Kolodziej #76 (OT), Mark Ortmann #71 (OT), Cory Zirbel #75 (OT), Brett Gallimore #74 (OT), Justin Boren #65 (OG), Justin Schifano #78 (OG), Jeremy Ciulla #70 (OG), David Moosman #60 (OC) and Tim McAvoy #62 (OC).
 
Five keys to watch:
1. The offensive line. Jake Long (LT), recently named offensive captain, will help anchor and protect quarterback Chad Henne while the offense line needs to stay healthy and gel as a unit. The uncertainties of the right side of the line makes things interesting to say the least, but the offensive line is the backbone in running the ball, controlling the line of scrimmage, and controlling the clock

2. Chad Henne needs to take more control of this team and be a leader, even if he's not a vocal leader. Last year with all the injuries Michigan had, Henne put too much pressure himself and pressed to hard. He needs to relax and just play football and enjoy the game, and not worry what fans and media have to say about him. The coaches are looking to help out by re-establishing the running game.

3. Mike Hart is the heart of the Michigan offense and needs to be injury free for this team to make really a push for the Big Ten title, because last year without Hart this team struggled.

4. Steve Breaston needs to stay healthy and step up as a wide receiver, especially with the deep ball. Michigan fans know what Breaston can do as a punt/kick returner when healthy, but has not been a serious threat as a WR. With only two Wolverine WR's with real game experience he needs to be a leader and also improve.

5. Mario Manningham had one of the better freshman years in Michigan wide receiver history. He has to continue to improve, especially in his route running and getting open over the middle.

Chad Henne stats:
In 2005 he completed 223 of 382 passes (58.4 pct.) for 2,526 yards with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions, fourth in Michigan history in touchdown passes in a season, fourth in completions, fifth in attempts and seventh in passing yards. He tossed at least one touchdown pass in 11 of the 12 games and threw for at least 200 yards in seven contests.
In 2004 Henne became only the second true freshman in Michigan history to start the season opener (Rick Leach Sept. 13, 1975) and finished as the top true freshman quarterback statistically in Michigan and Big Ten history, while becoming the first true freshman quarterback in Big Ten history to lead his team to the conference title. Henne has started 24 consecutive games, throwing at least one touchdown pass in 23 of his 24 career games. Henne has completed 463 of 781 passes (59.3 pct.) for 5,269 yards with 48 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He is already third in Michigan history in career passing attempts and completions, fourth in touchdown passes and sixth in passing yards. He has thrown for at least 200 yards in 15 of his 24 starts, averaging a school record 219.5 yards passing per game. He reached 3,000, 4,000 and 5,000 career passing yards faster than any quarterback in Michigan history.

Mike Hart stats:
In 2005 Hart started eight games at tailback and led team in rushing with 150 carries for 662 yards (4.4 avg.) and four rushing touchdowns while struggling with leg injured for most of the season. He added 16 receptions for 154 yards (9.6 avg.) and one TD.
For Hart's career he has played in 20 career games, making 16 starts at tailback, and he already ranks 20th all-time at Michigan with 2,117 career rushing yards on 432 attempts. He has scored 15 career touchdowns, 13 rushing and two receiving. He has caught 42 passes for 391 yards (9.3 avg.) during career. U-M has a 9-1 record when Hart has gained at least 100 rushing yards.

Steve Breaston stats:
In 2005 he started seven games at wide receiver and played in 11 contests, finishing third on the team in receptions (26) and receiving yards (291) and tied for third in receiving touchdowns (2).
For his career, Breaston has hauled in 98 receptions for 1,026 yards and eight touchdowns, and he's carried the ball 32 times for 246 yards and scored two rushing TDs.

Mario Manningham stats:
In 2005 Manningham was Michigan's second leading receiver, catching 27 passes for 433 yards and six touchdowns. He played in all 12 games and made three starts at wide receiver. Manningham was second on the team in every receiving category - making 27 receptions for 433 yards and six receiving touchdowns, with a team-leading team16.0 yards average per catch. He caught at least one pass in 10 of the 12 contests. He also rushed six times for 38 yards (6.3 avg.).

 
Tyler Ecker stats:
In 2005 Ecker made six starts and played in all 12 games at tight end. He was fourth on the team with 21 receptions for a career-best 285 yards (13.6 avg. yards per catch) and two touchdowns.
For Ecker's career he has played in 37 games, has made seven starts at tight end, and needs five catches for 50 for his career. He has contributed 45 receptions for 540 yards (12.0 avg.) and four touchdowns during his career, and has recorded at least one reception in 18 of his last 24 career games.

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