01 July 2009

2009 Season Preview

It's getting close to that time of year again, and after an extremely disappointing year in 2008, fans are anxious and excited about kicking this new year off. There have been several changes to the Wolverines in this off season and we'll go over them here. The biggest change is at the head coaching position. Coach Rodriguez was fired after only one season and the complete unknown, coach Briggs will take over the reigns. Coach Briggs has been quiet about his coaching philosophies thus far, but so far we know that he will in fact stick with a similar spread offense to what Coach Rodriguez ran last year. It is also rumored that Coach Briggs will implement a 3-3-5 defense for Michigan as soon as this season. That's about as much as we know about the new coach. Now let's talk about the players.

At the quarterback position, there's only one player to discuss. Threet has left in search of pro-style pastures and Sheridan is really too slow to run the type of offense that coach Briggs wants to run. That leaves us with the true freshman, Tate Forcier. Forcier has impressed so far in spring practices with both his legs (which was expected coming in) as well as his arm. According to coach Briggs Forcier is "coming along nicely. [Forcier] isn't where we need him to be at yet, but he's definitely making some good progress." Forcier will bring a new dimension to the quarterback position that hasn't really been seen before at Michigan. He's not as accomplished of a passer as wolverine qbs in the past, but that will come with experience. He can, however, fly with the ball when he runs. Teams will definitely have to account for his running ability at all times or he will burn them. Because of this, it should open up the running game for the halfbacks and it should also open up the passing game. The main concern here is that he is a very young kid who is going to be asked to shoulder a lot of responsibility. How well he can handle the pressure will have a huge impact on how the wolverines' season will go.

At running back, there will be some familiar faces. Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown will be asked to carry the majority of the load this year. Neither of them have the speed that coach Briggs would prefer, but they should still be major contributors to the wolverine offense this season. As long as they're able to split carries without either of them getting a big head and thinking that they should be the main guy, this backfield should be very successful this year. The departure of McGuffie will hurt as he has the kind of speed that is needed in this style of offense, but the Wolverines should be just fine without him.

The wide receiver position is probably the biggest question mark for the wolverines on the offensive side of the ball. They lack a real deep threat and a real game breaker at the wideout slot. Senior Greg Mathews will be the wolverines' #1 receiver and should be a solid receiver over the middle. However, he lacks the speed to go deep, so sophomore Martavious Odoms will be the wolverines' main deep threat. He should also be able to get carries as well as coach Briggs is expected to use the wide outs in the running game.

On Defense, expect the Wolverines to be solid. The biggest question is how will they cope with the change from the traditional 4-3 to a 3-3-5. The defensive line will be anchored by senior defensive end Brandon Graham who should be a monster this year. Again, the only question is how will he perform with only 2 other D-lineman along side him instead of 3. The Wolverines will have 2 stud corners in Donovan Warren and Boubacar Cissoko. After those two, however, things get a bit shaky and could be a cause for concern. Expect both Warren and Cissoko to have very solid years however. The linebacking corp that the Wolverines have can rival the best the Big Ten has to offer and is the strongest part of the Wolverine defense. The biggest defensive question will be the strong safety position. With the transition to a 3-3-5, the Wolverines will start 2 strong safeties and they aren't very deep at that position. They will have to start redshirt freshman Brandon Smith and true freshman Vladimir Emilien. This lack of experience could be a serious achilles heel for the wolverine defense.

Overall, there's no real way to tell how the Wolverines will do this year. The Wolverines can't really do any worse than they did last year and the addition of Forcier should definitely help the offense. The biggest question marks will all concern the coaching change. Coach Briggs is going to be rocking the boat quite a bit with his defensive scheme change. It will remain to be seen how the Wolverines will respond to this change. Don't expect the Wolverines to be challenging for the Big 10 title this year, but anything less than a bowl bid this year should be considered a disappointment considering their easy non conference schedule.

No comments:

Post a Comment