Thursday, June 30, 2005

Michigan's offense: The WRs and TEs

Braylon Edwards is gone. He takes with him the most productive receiving career in the history of Michigan football. Three straight 1000 yard seasons and Chad Henne's security blanket last year are nothing more than a distant memory. But don't feel too bad Chad Henne. He does have the privilege of throwing to some very talented players.

First up? Jason Avant. This kid is tough as nails and is fearless going over the middle and will block as well as anybody. He may not have blazing speed, but he is still capable of racking up big numbers. And my money says he will be Chad Henne's go to guy in clutch situations and he will lead Michigan in receptions next year.

And if Jason Avant is the glue that holds the WRs together, Steve Breaston brings the wiggle and elusiveness. He had a brilliant freshman season that featured better numbers than Ted Ginn had last year, but was hampered in his sophomore campaign by injuries. He did get healthy by the end of the year and torched the Longhorns in the Rose Bowl to the tune of over 300 total yards. With Edwards gone, I think Breaston will get a lot more plays designed to go to him and get him loose in the defensive backfield. And when he does get his hands on the ball, defenders start looking silly. There are very few players in the country that can change direction as fast and as smoothly as he can and he accelerates to full speed as fast as anybody. While he won't catch the jump balls like Edwards did last year, he'll make a ton of big plays with his running after the catch. Plus he's downright tough to cover when he runs double moves so he could also get wide open 25+ yards downfield at times, too.

Then there is the depth at WR. Guys like Carl Tabb and Adrian Arrington and Doug Dutch and Antonio Bass and Mario Manningham all have a ton of talent. Some bring sprinters speed, some bring dynamic moves in the open field, some bring size. But they've all got a shot at becoming the #3 or #4 wide receiver and I'm confident that whoever wins the competition will be a threat the other team has to worry about.

And then we get to the TEs. Considering the substantial amount of talent at WR and TB that Chad Henne has to work with, it just does not seem fair that he has 2 great TEs to work with as well. Tim Massaquoi is a returning first team all Big Ten TE and Tyler Ecker is perhaps just as good. Both have size and speed and good hands and create matchup problems for the defense. I'm not sure which will have the better year, but they are a great duo that can do a ton of damage if the D focuses on the WRs and TBs. I envision a few more double TE sets this year to give us a formation that is dangerous for rushing and passing.


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