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Posts Tagged ‘Khalid Hill’

Jersey Short: Rutgers 26 – Michigan 24

Sunday, October 5th, 2014


Michigan at Rutgers(MGoBlue.com)

A trying week for the Michigan football program following a loss to Minnesota, complete with a concussion controversy that gained national mainstream media attention, a student rally calling for the firing of athletic director Dave Brandon, and increased calls for Brady Hoke’s head, was bookended with yet another loss. This time, the Wolverines came up just short in a 26-24 defeat at Rutgers on Saturday night.

It was the first ever meeting between the two oldest schools in FBS and it resulted in the first ever Big Ten Conference victory for the team that won the first ever college football contest over the school with the most wins in college football history.

Michigan started the game with a nine-play, 57-yard drive that stalled on the Rutgers 22-yard line. But Michigan managed three points on a 39-yard Matt Wile field goal. Rutgers countered with a seven-play, 58-yard drive and a 35-yard field goal to tie the game at three.

UM-Rutgers-small-final-FINAL
Final Stats
Michigan Rutgers
Score 24 26
Record 2-4, 0-2 5-1, 1-1
Total Yards 336 476
Net Rushing Yards 158 74
Net Passing Yards 178 402
First Downs 18 18
Turnovers 1 0
Penalties-Yards 3-30 9-85
Punts-Yards 4-190 3-146
Time of Possession 29:14 30:46
Third Down Conversions 4-of-11 8-of-16
Fourth Down Conversions 0-of-0 0-of-2
Sacks By-Yards 2-21 3-18
Field Goals 1-for-2 2-for-2
PATs 3-for-3 2-for-3
Red Zone Scores-Chances 3-of-3 3-of-3
Full Box Score

Michigan went three-and-out and Rutgers went 47 yards in eight plays and took a 6-3 lead on a 45-yard Kyle Federico field goal. But Michigan responded with the first touchdown of the game. Devin Gardner kicked off the drive with a 23-yard pass to Devin Funchess and then the two connected for eight yards. Three plays later, Gardner lofted the ball up across the middle and Jake Butt made a one-handed catch for 20 yards to give Michigan a first-and-goal at the Rutgers five. Gardner tried to sneak it in, but was stuffed. On second down, Gardner ran to the right and outran the defense to the end zone giving Michigan a 10-6 lead.

After trading punts, Rutgers took over on its own 20-yard line. Quarterback Gary Nova found a wide open Andrew Turzilli for an 80-yard touchdown catch and run. Michigan blocked the extra point and Rutgers led 12-10.

Michigan couldn’t do anything with its next possession and punted it back to Rutgers, who took possession at their own 12. Nova connected with Desmon Peoples for 33 yards on the first play, but Michigan’s defense held strong to force fourth-and-10. Rutgers ran a fake punt, but Michigan stopped it for a loss of two yards and took over on the Rutgers 43. Six plays later, De’Veon Smith scored from a yard out and Michigan regained the lead, 17-12.

Rutgers got to work with 1:43 remaining in the half and marched right down the field. Facing third-and-goal at the Michigan 7-yard line, Nova dropped back to pass. But Frank Clark shot through the middle untouched for a sure-fire sack. However, Nova shooed him away with a stiff-arm and found John Tsimis in the end zone to put the Scarlet Knights ahead 19-17 and re-take the momentum heading into the half.

Neither team was able to score in the third quarter, but on Michigan’s second possession, Gardner was intercepted at the Rutgers 41. The Scarlet Knights capitalized, going 59 yards in 10 plays, and capping it off with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Nova to Turzilli.

Michigan wasn’t dead yet, however, as offensive coordinator turned to the run game to pound the ball down the field. Derrick Green ran for eight yards, eight yards, and 21 yards to get to the Rutgers 32. Gardner rushed for eight and Smith five giving the Wolverines a first down at the 19. Gardner rolled to his right, eluded several defenders and raced into the end zone to pull Michigan within two at 26-24 with 9:17 remaining.

Michigan’s defense forced a punt and got the ball back hoping to drive the field for a game-winning score that could take some of the heat off the program. Smith rushed for nine yards and then four for a first down. Gardner hit Khalid Hill for a 12-yard gain, and two plays later, connected with Funchess for 17. On third-and-eight at the Rutgers 38, Gardner completed a pass to Amara Darboh on the right sideline. Darboh took two steps and dove out of bounds just past the first down marker. But as he hit the ground, the ball squirted out and the play was ruled an incomplete pass. Hoke challenged and it was upheld, giving Michigan a fourth-and-eight from the Rutgers 38 instead of first down at the 28. Hoke elected to attempt a 56-yard field goal, but Wile’s kick was blocked, allowing Rutgers to run out the clock for the victory.

Rutgers finished the game with 476 total yards, 402 through the air. Both of those numbers are the most Michigan has allowed this season and the most Rutgers has gained this season. Michigan gained 336 yards with a balanced effort of 178 through the air and 158 on the ground. Gardner completed 13-of-22 for 178 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. He also rushed 10 times for 40 yards and two touchdowns. Green led the way on the ground with 74 yards on 12 carries, while Smith had 31 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown. Funchess caught five passes for 71 yards, while Jehu Chesson caught two for 34.

Michigan has now won just three of its last 12 games and hasn’t beaten a power-five school since topping Northwestern in triple-overtime last November 16. The two teams Michigan has beaten since then — Appalachian State and Miami (Ohio) — are a combined 2-9 this season with one of those two wins coming against an FCS school (Campbell) and the other just a one-point victory over 0-6 UMass.

The Wolverines fall to 2-4 on the season and 0-2 in the Big Ten for the first time since 1967. The Wolverines return home to face Penn State (4-1, 1-1) at 7 p.m. EST next Saturday.

Predicting Michigan: The tight ends

Monday, June 23rd, 2014


Predicting Michigan-TightEnds

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Michigan

Michigan football made a few announcements this offseason that gutted the tight end depth for offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. The team’s top option throughout much of the last two seasons was Devin Funchess, who will be moved permanently to wide receiver for his junior season. Transitioning Funchess was much easier after the emergence of freshman Jake Butt, but a torn ACL sidelined the young star and left the Wolverines without their top two options at tight end, at least for the first few games of the season.

Brady Hoke opted against moving Funchess back to tight end, and will instead choose from a number of veteran options that have made smaller impacts during their Michigan careers.

The Starters

With the offense under construction after the hiring of Nussmeier, it remains to be seen what type of role the tight ends will play in 2014. During the spring game, the majority of Michigan’s sets featured one tight end, often junior A.J. Williams.

Williams played a very limited role in his sophomore campaign, catching just one pass for a two-yard touchdown in the loss at Iowa. The 6’6″ tight end started six games, but was rarely featured as an integral part of the offense. The junior will be asked to play a much bigger role in 2014, as he holds the No. 1 tight end spot on the depth chart and received the most reps during the spring game.

Fellow junior Keith Heitzman lineup up with Williams on the first team during double tight end sets at the spring game, revealing Nussmeier’s willingness to at least experiment with more than one tight end on the field.

Heitzman has played 23 games for the Wolverines in his career, but all of them have come on the defensive line. The 271-pound junior separated himself from the rest of the pack as the No. 2 tight end, but will likely be featured as a blocker and less of a receiving threat.

Butt, meanwhile, is expected to be out until Big Ten play, but when he returns, will slide back into a starting role. The 6’6″, 250-pound sophomore impressed as a true freshman in 2013, catching 20 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns. That’s five more catches and one more yard than Funchess had in his freshman campaign. Butt saved his best performance of the season for the matchup against his hometown Buckeyes, recording five catches for 85 yards and a score. Butt won’t match Funchess’ 2013 numbers, but will play a major role in the offense once he returns.

Projected Stats – Williams
Receptions Yards YPC Long TDs YPG
9 100 11.1 1 7.7
Career Stats
2013 1 2 2.0 2 1 0.2
2012 0 0 N/A N/A 0 N/A
Totals 1 2 2.0 2 1 0.2
Projected Stats – Butt
Receptions Yards YPC Long TDs YPG
21 250 11.9 4 27.8
Career Stats
2013 20 235 11.8 37 2 18.1
Totals 20 235 11.8 37 2 18.1
Projected Stats – Heitzman
Receptions Yards YPC Long TDs YPG
16 200 12.5 2 15.4
Career Stats
2013 0 0 N/A N/A 0 N/A
2012 0 0 N/A N/A 0 N/A
2011 0 0 N/A N/A 0 N/A
Totals 0 0 N/A N/A 0 N/A

Veteran Depth

Tight end remains one of the thinnest positions on the Michigan roster leading into the 2014 season, but quality recruits over the past two seasons have provided the Wolverines with some talented options. The struggle for Nussmeier in 2014 will be finding a tight end that can both protect the quarterback and hurt defenses in the passing game.

Redshirt freshman Khalid Hill figures to be an option if Williams and Heitzman struggle, as the former consensus three-star offers Michigan more of a receiving weapon. Hill is smaller than the other tight ends, but makes up for it with quickness and essential receiving skills like strong hands and great route running. Hill is more likely to be a difference-maker in the future, but a strong spring could put him on the radar for 2014.

Projected Stats – Hill
Receptions Yards YPC Long TDs YPG
13 150 11.5 1 11.5
Career Stats
2013 0 0 N/A N/A 0 N/A
Totals 0 0 N/A N/A 0 N/A

Newcomers

Michigan welcomed one key tight end prospect in the 2014 recruiting class in Ian Bunting. Bunting is a tall, but athletic tight end that should evolve into Michigan’s top receiving threat from his position. The freshman played wide receiver throughout much of his high school career, which molded him into the offensive threat that Hoke recruited.

Bunting figures to compete for playing time as a true freshman, since the Wolverines could really use a receiving threat from the tight end position. His versatility can only improve his chances to crack the lineup, as Nussmeier owns the option to line him up in the slot or out wide.

If a largely unproven wide receiver unit struggles during the non-conference season, expect the coaching staff to consider awarding Bunting more time at tight end to give the offense more options. The freshman fits the mold of Funchess and Butt as a pseudo-receiver at tight end.

Projected Stats – Bunting
Receptions Yards YPC Long TDs YPG
10 150 15.0 1 11.5

Countdown to kickoff: 80 days

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014


Countdown to kickoff-80

Predicting Michigan: The tight ends

Thursday, August 8th, 2013


Rounding out the offensive portion of our Predicting Michigan series is the tight end position, which should be one of the most exciting to watch this season. Previously, we featured the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and offensive line.

Returning To The Offense

Devin Funchess needs to prove he can stay on the field in non-obvious passing situations

In the last few seasons, the Michigan offense has revolved around a spread rushing attack and featured less use of the tight end position as a result. When the spread offense was introduced, the preferred receiving options became small, fast athletes that could blow by defenders and make moves in space. As Brady Hoke takes the Wolverines back to a more physical style of play, tight ends have started to resurface in Ann Arbor.

In 2012, Devin Funchess burst onto the scene with 140 yards and two touchdowns in the games against Air Force and Massachusetts. As the season progressed, Funchess faded and had more than 15 receiving yards only once, when he caught a 29-yard touchdown against Iowa.

This year’s team will likely rely more on the tight end position. A renewed focus on rushing between the tackles means that size and blocking on the line will become more important. Also, Devin Gardner’s ability to keep plays alive and go through multiple options will give the tight ends a greater opportunity to catch passes even if they aren’t the primary route.

The Name We Know: Devin Funchess

Funchess will return to the team as the only familiar name at the tight end position that had a statistical impact. His early success made him an immediate fan-favorite on Saturdays at the Big House, and his lack of production late in the season was proof of how difficult it is to adapt to the physical play of the Big Ten. As Denard Robinson led the offense into conference play, he connected with the 6’5″ tight end less and less. Even against poor defensive teams like Illinois and Purdue, Funchess didn’t really show up on the stat sheet, catching only one pass in each contest. When Gardner was reinserted into the quarterback role, Funchess continued to have around one catch each game. This was partially because opponents caught on that when he was in it was to catch a pass, and partially to be used as a decoy because of his inability to block.

This season, after working with Gardner for an entire offseason, Funchess should be more like the player he was early in the season. Gardner isn’t afraid to run through three or four options before giving up on a play, so the tight ends will have a chance to catch more passes. Funchess will also play a big role in the blocking game, which will allow him to stay on the field more often, when running backs like Fitzgerald Toussaint and Derrick Green pound the ball up the middle. His size and strong hands will make him a threat in the red zone, and he can build off of his five touchdowns from last season.

Projected Stats
Receptions Yards YPC Long TD YPG
25 330 13.2 5 27.5
Career Stats
2012 15 234 15.6 30 5 18.0
Totals 15 234 15.6 30 5 18.0

Returning Players

There are four returning tight ends in addition to Funchess on the Michigan roster, but only one of them has ever recorded a catch. Dylan Esterline made a reception for seven yards in the 45-0 blowout of Illinois in Ann Arbor, but A.J. WilliamsJordan Paskorz and Michael Jocz haven’t been included in the receiving game in their careers. While Williams is known as a very good blocking tight end (he was recruited as an offensive tackle/tight end hybrid), the thin roster at this position is a result of the transition to the spread offense. When the speedy receivers were brought in, the fullbacks and tight ends were basically erased, so these players contributed very little during that time. This season, they may fill in to block or provide depth, but it is unlikely that they will play major roles in the offensive attack. Brady Hoke will find roles for them on special teams, because of their strength and size.

Recruits: Early Impact

Jake Butt caught a TD in Michigan's spring game and will make an impact this season

The 2013 recruiting class will play a big role at tight end. Two young recruits were brought in to help solidify a weak position on the team, and both players will have a chance to contribute in their freshman seasons.

Khalid Hill was a three-star recruit and is an interesting player at tight end. Due to his lack of superior size for the position, Hill isn’t the strongest blocker and can’t muscle up like other big players can. However, his body creates a different kind of matchup problem. Hill’s strength is in the receiving category, because he has surprising quickness and showed a great ability to run routes and catch the ball in high school. He doesn’t seem to be the prototypical tight end for a physical offense, but he could be the perfect player to get open and give Gardner another weapon in the passing attack.

Fellow recruit Jake Butt generated more buzz around Ann Arbor when he committed as a top-five tight end. Butt is a matchup nightmare for defenses at 6’6 because of his incredible athletic ability and coordination in the passing game. Robinson would have enjoyed throwing to this athletic tight end, because in high school Butt excelled at bringing down jump balls. Defenses will have a hard time finding a corner that can stop a receiver this big and athletic downfield.

Butt could improve in the blocking category, even though his size and athleticism make him an intimidating player across the line. Hoke will have Butt in the weight room working on his strength, and if he can add some bulk to his already-impressive body, this tight end could end up being one of the best all-round offensive threats in the country. This true freshman will likely be a major factor immediately during the 2013 season.

Projected Stats – Butt
Receptions Yards YPC TD YPG
25 260 10.4 4 21.7
Projected Stats – Hill
Receptions Yards YPC TD YPG
5 60 12.0 1 5.0

Wrapping Up

Michigan is still looking to find the type of tight end play it had in the past, with players like Tim Massaquoi and Tyler Ecker in 2004. With Funchess and Butt as potential starters, things are starting to look up. Not only are both players developed physically, they both pose a definite threat in the passing game. For a team with Drew Dileo and Jeremy Gallon as the main receiving targets, two big men with superior catching ability is a welcome addition to the offense. Expect Gardner to utilize the skills of the tight ends, and for 2013 to be the first year since before the Rich Rodriguez era that Michigan gets big contributions from the position.

National Signing Day: visualizing Michigan’s 2013 recruiting class

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013



Stay tuned in the coming days as we profile each of the 27 members of Michigan’s 2013 class.