Sunday, July 16, 2006

2006 Season Preview: The WRs and TEs

Who are they?

Steve Breaston (RS senior) - kick returner extraordinaire who is what he is. He's deadly on screens and crossing routes, but has never shown the ability to make catches downfield. Hopefully they stick to using him from the slot and on crossing routes this year. Once he gets his hands on the ball he is deadly in the open field.

Mario Manningham (Sophomore) - coming off one of the best true freshman seasons ever by a Michigan receiver, big things are expected this year

Adrian Arrington (RS Sophomore) - missed almost the entire season last year due to injury. He's a 6'3" receiver with good hands in the mold of former Wolverine Marquise Walker.

Carl Tabb (RS Senior) - very good special teamer with speed to burn who has never made a lot of impact at receiver. The Ann Arbor native provides good depth at the position.

LaTerryal Savoy (RS Freshman) - big kid (6'3", 200 lbs) from Louisiana that will be battling Arrington for the right to snag some short yardage TDs.

Doug Dutch (RS Sophomore) - speedster will likely see time returning kicks as well as battling for PT at WR.

Greg Matthews (Freshman) - this Parade All American has the talent to get PT at WR, but as you can see there is quite a bit of talent in front of him on the depth chart. I'll be mildy surprised/pleased if he is able to avoid redshirting this year.

Tyler Ecker (RS Senior) - phenomenal talent, boneheaded plays. Yep, he's the total package. If you ignore the "staying in bounds instead of stepping out with clock expiring against OSU" and the "running out of bounds after time expired instead of pitching to wide open Steve Breaston on the last play against Nebraska", he had a great year. Hopefully he can put those two behind him because he could be one of the best TEs in the country.

Mike Massey (RS Sophomore) - he's big and has good hands. Not much in the speed department, but he's a capable #2 option.

Carson Butler (RS freshman) - let's just call him the X-factor. This former hoopster is very large (6'4", 250 lbs) and very fast. If he can consistently catch the ball, the mismatch possibilities are endless. I doubt you'll find a LB in the Big Ten that can run with him and there isn't a DB big enough to beat him on a high pass.

What to expect?

Mario Manningham - last year he broke out with 27 catches for 433 yards and 6 TDs including the game winner on the final play against Penn State. He's fantastic cutting in and out of breaks and he has good hands and a knack for making the difficult catch. Not the biggest or fastest, though not lacking in either department, but he is the most talented receiver on the Michigan roster. I'm expecting him to really make a name for himself this year.

68 catches, 1050 yards, 8 TDs (15.4 yds/catch)

Steve Breaston - he can return kicks with the best of them, but last year he proved he is not a downfield threat. He got the first chance to replace Braylon Edwards on the deep balls and looked clueless at times showing no ability to adjust to the ball in the air. But he's still deadly when he gets his hands on the ball. Will likely be a "starter" this year, but he should be the slot receiver in 3 receiver sets.

40 catches, 550 yards, 5 TDs (13.8 yds/catch)

Adrian Arrington - has not had much chance to showcase his ability, but reportedly had a good spring and is looking to make an impact this spring. He's tall and has good hands which makes him a candidate to do some damage in the redzone. Might also get some looks on deep balls with his size.

35 catches, 500 yards, 8 TDs (14.3 yds/catch)

Tyler Ecker - if he and Henne find a rhythm, I expect him to make hay in Mike DeBord's offense. Remember how good Jerame Tuman was for Debord, well Ecker is every bit as talented as Tuman.

30 catches, 350 yards, 4 TDs (11.7 yds/catch)

Carson Butler - might be #3 on the depth chart right now, but with his talent he will be pushing for a quick rise up the depth chart. I expect him to get a lot of action in 2 TE sets as well as getting split out wide at times to try to draw a matchup with a short CB.

20 catches, 300 yards, 3 TDs (15.0 yds/catch)

Everybody else? Savoy, Tabb, and Dutch are all likely fighting for the #4 WR spot this year. Based on past history, that will likely mean lots of practice blocking on running plays and not much else. Mike Massey is a decent TE, but he is simply not as gifted as Ecker or Butler.



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