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Posts Tagged ‘Russell Bellomy’

Bellomy, Heitzman to transfer from Michigan

Friday, January 30th, 2015


Bellomy-Heitzman

Four days after running back Justice Hayes announced his intention to transfer, new head coach Jim Harbaugh granted two more fifth-year seniors-to-be a release from the program. Quarterback Russell Bellomy and tight end Keith Heitzman both announced on Friday that they will seek a grad-year transfer to play out their final season of eligibility.

Bellomy appeared in six games during his four seasons at Michigan, completing 4-of-23 passes for 46 yards, no touchdowns, and four interceptions. The Arlington, Texas native entered the 2012 Nebraska game late in the second quarter in relief of an injured Denard Robinson and struggled to move the ball as the Wolverines lost 23-9. In that game — the most extensive action of his career — Bellomy completed just 3-of-16 passes for 38 yards and three interceptions while rushing five times for no yards.

He missed his junior season due to a torn ACL suffered in spring practice and came into the Penn State game last season for two series in relief of Devin Gardner. On those series, he went 0-of-2, but most importantly, didn’t make a mistake to take Michigan out of field goal range. Matt Wile kicked a 42-yard field goal to tie the game at 13 late in the third quarter.

Heitzman played in 36 games in three seasons after redshirting in 2011. As a redshirt freshman in 2012, he appeared in 12 games as a reserve defensive end, recording seven tackles, one for loss, and recovering a fumble. In 2013, Heitzman started seven games at defensive end and played in all 12, recording eight tackles and half of a tackle for loss. Last season, he moved to tight end and caught two passes for 32 yards and one touchdown, which came against Indiana.

Both Bellomy and Heitzman expect to receive their degree from the University of Michigan this spring before transferring. Neither has picked a destination yet, but both stressed their love and appreciation for Michigan in Instagram posts on Friday afternoon. We wish both the best wherever they end up.

Click here to read Bellomy’s Instagram post. Click here to read Heitzman’s Instagram post.

Good Night: Michigan 18 – Penn State 13

Saturday, October 11th, 2014


UM win vs PSU(MGoBlue.com)

With their backs up against the wall, facing a fourth straight loss and a likely losing season, Michigan put together a spirited effort in front of 113,000 strong and knocked off Penn State 18-13. Despite the glam of the lights, the game was far from pretty — for either team — but Michigan gutted out a much needed win.

Penn State’s offense came out buzzing in the first quarter, but not on the big arm of sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Instead, it was with the legs of running back Bill Belton, who rushed for 51 yards in the first quarter after coming into the game with just 189 yards through the first five games. But Penn State managed just two Sam Ficken field goals on its first two possessions, from 35 yards and 32 yards out.

UM-PennState-small-final-FINAL
Final Stats
Michigan Penn State
Score 18 13
Record 3-4, 1-2 4-2, 1-2
Total Yards 256 214
Net Rushing Yards 64 54
Net Passing Yards 192 160
First Downs 12 16
Turnovers 1 1
Penalties-Yards 3-30 5-23
Punts-Yards 5-219 5-167
Time of Possession 29:00 31:00
Third Down Conversions 6-of-15 6-of-17
Fourth Down Conversions 0-of-1 0-of-3
Sacks By-Yards 6-40 3-14
Field Goals 3-for-3 2-for-2
PATs 1-for-1 1-for-1
Red Zone Scores-Chances 1-of-2 3-of-3
Full Box Score

Michigan wasted no time putting points on the board, taking its first possession of the game 75 yards in six plays for a touchdown. On the drive, Michigan converted a 3rd-and-3 with a 14-yard pass to Amara Darboh, and three plays later, Gardner lofted up a deep ball for Devin Funchess. While it was in the air, it appeared to be an easy interception for the Penn State defensive back, but Funchess raced in front of him at the last minute, grabbed the ball and scored.

Michigan’s second possession, however, wasn’t as fortunate. After Penn State kicked its second field goal to pull within 7-6, Michigan started on its own 29. On 3rd-and-13, Gardner found Darboh again, this time for 21 yards. A Kyle Kalis holding penalty on the next play pushed Michigan back 10 yards, and two plays later, on 2nd-and-20, Gardner tried to lob a screen pass over the defender’s head. Instead, Penn State’s Anthony Zettel picked it off and returned it five yards to the Michigan 28. Penn State punched it in on 3rd-and-goal from the 10 when Hackenberg fired a laser to DaeSean Hamilton across the middle to take a 13-7 lead.

Michigan then put together an 11-play drive that included yet another Gardner-to-Darboh third down conversion, this time a 20-yarder on 3rd-and-11. But the drive stalled at the Penn State 28 and Michigan was forced to kick a field goal, which Matt Wile made from 45 yards out. Neither team was able to do anything the rest of the half, and Penn State took a 13-10 lead into the locker room.

The third quarter was a display of poor offense from both teams as Michigan mustered just 53 total yards and Penn State just 41 in the quarter. But Michigan created the break it needed when, on 3rd-and-4 from the Penn State 32, Jourdan Lewis intercepted Hackenberg. Michigan’s offense was unable to pick up a first down with Russell Bellomy taking the snaps after Gardner left the game with an injured foot on the previous series. Wile converted a 42-yard field goal to tie the game at 13.

Michigan started the fourth quarter with possession at the Penn State 49 after forcing a 26-yard punt. On the second play, Gardner, who returned to the game with a considerable limp, connected with Dennis Norfleet along the left sideline for 24 yards. Yet again, the drive stalled, but Wile booted a 37-yard field goal to give Michigan a 16-13 lead.

The Michigan defense held strong after Penn State crossed midfield. Penn State punted it back to Michigan with 7:04 remaining. The Wolverines took to the ground to eat up the clock. Justice Hayes rushed for five yards and then four. On 3rd-and-1, De’Veon Smith moved the chains with a seven-yard run. After two more runs by Hayes and an incomplete pass on third down, Michigan was forced to punt, but it had eaten up half of the remaining time.

Penn State was called for an illegal block on the punt return, which gave the Nittany Lions possession on their own 8-yard line, needing to drive 92 yards with 3:44 remaining. Hackenberg completed a 17-yard pass on the first play, but was sacked by Jake Ryan two plays later and was called for intentional grounding. On 3rd-and-19 from the 16, Frank Clark sacked Hackenberg at the three, forcing 4th-and-32 with less than two minutes to play. Penn State head coach James Franklin elected to snap the punt out of the end zone for a safety rather than kick it back to Michigan or try to make an impossible conversion. That made the score 18-13 Michigan.

Penn State lined up for an onside kick and converted it, but Jesse Della Valle was flagged for offside on the kick and the Nittany Lions had to retry. This time, Blake Countess covered it up and Michigan was able to run out the clock.

Michigan’s defense held Penn State to a season-low 214 total yards and Hackenberg to a season-low 160 passing yards. Hackenberg completed 21-of-32 passes for one touchdown and one interception. Michigan’s defense also recorded six sacks, the most since the first game of 2008. With sack yardage included, Penn State managed just 54 yards rushing.

Offensively, Michigan totaled just 256 yards and only 64 on the ground, but Gardner was an efficient 16-of-24 for 192 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Bellomy threw just two passes and neither was completed. Funchess caught a team-high seven passes for 69 yards and a score, while Darboh caught four for 66. Smith led the way on the ground with 24 yards on 12 carries. Jake Ryan led the defense with 10 total tackles, three for loss, and one sack. Brennen Beyer recorded two sacks, while Clark and Ben Gedeon each had one, and Mario Ojemudia and Chris Wormley had a half a sack each.

Michigan is now 3-0 in night games at Michigan Stadium. Tonight’s win was the first home night game against a Big Ten foe. At 3-4 overall and 1-2 in the Big Ten, Michigan has a much-needed week off before traveling to East Lansing to face rival Michigan State (5-1, 2-0).

Predicting Michigan: The quarterbacks

Monday, June 9th, 2014


Predicting Michigan- Quarterbacks Gardner

In the first season of the post-Denard Robinson era, Michigan quarterbacks suffered from many of the mistakes that made “Shoelace” so inconsistent. Turnovers and mental errors led to Al Borges’s firing in favor of Alabama’s Doug Nussmeier, who will look to construct a more concrete identity for the Wolverines. Nussmeier has plenty of quarterback options to choose from, as Michigan returns its top two candidates from 2013 and adds a talented recruit to the mix.

The Starter

Despite speculation and fan frustration that call for the senior to lose his starting position in 2014, Devin Gardner will certainly be under center for Michigan at the start of the season.

Devin Gardner

Of the 11 games in 2013 in which a Big Ten quarterback totaled at least 350 yards and three touchdowns, Gardner did it five times. No other quarterback did it more than once (Andrew Weber, USA Today Sports)

Gardner took a small step back early in his first full year as the starting quarterback, throwing 10 interceptions in his first six games. The veteran was reluctant to take a sack and threw passes into coverage instead of protecting the ball. A costly interception in his own end zone nearly cost the Wolverines the game against Notre Dame, and similar plays put Michigan behind against Akron and Connecticut.

But Gardner matured during the second half of the season, taking better care of the football and throwing just one interception in six games. Despite playing behind an offensive line that surrendered 34 sacks in 2013, Gardner managed to throw for 954 combined yards against Indiana and Ohio State, showcasing his potential for the 2014 season.

The top priority for Gardner during the offseason was rehabbing a foot injury that sidelined him for the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wing’s Bowl in Arizona. Gardner battled through the injury in a heroic effort against Ohio State, but it ultimately brought a disappointing season to an early close.

Spring competition will benefit the athletic redshirt senior after he coasted through camp as the consensus starter in 2013. A healthy Gardner makes the Michigan offense more dynamic, as he features both an electric arm and quickness in the scrambling game.

Gardner will have to regroup from the loss of his favorite target Jeremy Gallon and mesh with a new-look receiving core. Freddy Canteen has emerged as one of the top targets for Gardner, who demonstrated the tendency to take shots downfield in 2013. Gardner has excellent arm strength, and Brady Hoke has surrounded him with athletic receivers that can beat defenders deep.

Michigan’s starting quarterback also features a unique type of rushing ability, which allows him to extend plays and find teammates downfield. Unlike typical dual-threat quarterbacks, Gardner prefers to stay behind the line of scrimmage and buy time for his receivers to break open. Though this habit often lead to sacks last season, if Gardner can minimize his movement behind the line and avoid defenders near the pocket, he will take advantage of a deeper and more athletic wide receiver unit.

Improvement along the offensive line will offer Gardner more time to throw in 2014, so expect the fifth-year senior to take advantage of an improved overall offense and resemble the quarterback that dominated the Big Ten during the end of the 2012 season. Gardner holds all of the physical tools to be a dominant quarterback and is poised for a bounce back season in 2014.

Projected Stats
Passing Yds Pass TD INT Comp % Rush Yds Rush TD
2,700 23 9 62% 375 8
Career Stats
2012 2,960 21 11 60.3% 483 11
2012 1,219 11 5 59.5% 101 7
2011 176 1 1 47.8% 53 1
2010 85 1 0 70.0% 21 1
Totals 4,440 34 17 59.7% 658 20

Veteran depth

Shane Morris showed plenty of potential in Michigan's BWW Bowl loss to Kansas State (Christian Peterson, Getty Images)

Shane Morris showed plenty of potential in Michigan’s BWW Bowl loss to Kansas State (Christian Peterson, Getty Images)

Michigan returns two quarterbacks behind Gardner that have taken snaps during their Wolverine careers. Russell Bellomy returns to the lineup after tearing his ACL in spring practice and missing the entire 2013 season. Bellomy most notably took the reins for Michigan against Nebraska in 2012, throwing as many interceptions (three) as completions in 16 attempts.

Bellomy’s struggles ultimately forced Hoke to return Gardner to his original position of quarterback after he started as a wide receiver for the first eight games of the season. Bellomy represents the fourth quarterback option for the Wolverines heading into the season.

The more intriguing option behind Gardner is sophomore Shane Morris, who made a splash during his start in the bowl game last December. Though he failed to record a touchdown, the youngster demonstrated elite arm strength and completed 24-of-38 passing attempts.

Borges featured the former five-star recruit with a diverse selection of passing plays, and Morris looked comfortable running the offense as a freshman. Though Morris is a popular choice to compete with Gardner for the starting position, the electric sophomore is likely to hold the backup spot when Michigan takes the field on August 30.

Projected Stats – Morris
Passing Yds Pass TD INT Comp % Rush Yds Rush TD
700 7 2 63% 59 0
Career Stats
2013 261 0 2 61.7% 40 0
Totals 261 0 2 61.7% 40 0
Projected Stats – Bellomy
Passing Yds Pass TD INT Comp % Rush Yds Rush TD
70 0 0 55% 5 0
Career Stats
2013 0 0 0 0 0 0
2012 46 0 4 19.0% 16 0
2011 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 46 0 4 19.0% 16 0

Newcomers

Michigan added one quarterback in this season’s recruiting class: 6’6″, 230-pound Wilton Speight. Speight showcased his accurate arm during the Elite 11 camp in San Francisco last season, and figures to compete with Morris for the starting job in the coming years. The freshman is a prototypical pro-style quarterback, and threw for 63 yards as the starter for Team Nitro in the Under Armour All-American Game.

Speight has flown under the radar leading up to the 2014 season, but provides the closest resemblance to the type of quarterback that Nussmeier coached at Alabama. This freshman made dramatic improvements during his final season in prep school and will play a huge role for Michigan in the near future.

Predicting Michigan: The quarterbacks

Monday, July 22nd, 2013


With less than six weeks remaining before Michigan opens its season against Central Michigan, we are kicking off a preview series of position breakdowns and predictions. Naturally, we’re starting with the quarterbacks, and the newest member of our team, Derick, dives into what we can expect from the position this season.

Looking Back

The Denard Robinson era is officially over. While the flashy 5’11” quarterback that Michigan fans so affectionately referred to as ‘Shoelace’ basically passed the baton to Devin Gardner midway through the 2012 season, his days in the Maize and Blue have officially come to an end. Robinson often drove fans crazy by forcing throws and tucking the ball too quickly to run during his tenure as starting quarterback, but the last couple of years could have been very ugly for Michigan without his unconventional play that kept defenses guessing to the tune of a Sugar Bowl victory and a streak-snapping win over the hated Buckeyes.

Denard was a once-in-a-lifetime player. His ability to turn any play into a big gain made the last two seasons exciting for the Michigan faithful who had little hope following three difficult seasons under former Head Coach Rich Rodriguez. Now the best rushing quarterback in college football history has moved on to the Jacksonville Jaguars, so it’s time to see what the future will hold for the Wolverines.

The Savior: Devin Gardner

Robinson’s elbow injury on October 27 against Nebraska left a terrifying question mark for the rest of the 2012 season: Who will lead the offense? Gardner’s transition to wide receiver left redshirt freshman Russell Bellomy as the only backup option, and his struggles in the second half of the Nebraska game left the Michigan faithful panicking.

Gardner started the final five games last season

Brady Hoke had no choice but to move Gardner back to his original position against Minnesota the following week, and the former Elite 11 quarterback did not disappoint. Gardner, who was recruited as a top-5 quarterback, led the Michigan offense with explosive running and accurate passing, finishing the game with three touchdowns and a 12-of-18 completion rate.

Gardner continued to look comfortable at home, completing a miracle pass to Roy Roundtree with seconds left en route to forcing overtime against Northwestern, and then scoring six touchdowns on Senior Day against Iowa. Robinson’s injury that had initially created questions about Michigan’s short-term plans quickly turned into an outline for the future.

Thanks to Gardner’s late-season play, Michigan enters the 2013 season without even a hint of the dreaded “quarterback controversy.” The redshirt junior will lead an offense that promises to look more like that of the old Michigan teams before the Rich Rod era. Gardner has the ability to stand in the pocket and hit receivers downfield, an option that has been noticeably absent from the offense in recent years. He developed a strong connection with speedy receiver Jeremy Gallon in 2012, and the duo promises to frustrate defenses in the coming months. Expect Gardner to throw for a higher completion rate than Denard, even with his willingness to throw the ball away when there are no better options.

While Devin should improve the Michigan pocket-passing attack, when plays break down he can also improvise with his feet. Unlike other recent Michigan quarterbacks, Chad Henne and John Navarre, Gardner is more than capable of breaking a big run with his legs. Even more importantly, he extends plays by keeping his eyes downfield rather than breaking for the line of scrimmage as soon as pressure comes. This keeps options open and gives the offense flexibility.

Devin’s dual-threat ability gives him multiple weapons on a play-by-play basis. He is a complete quarterback that brings intangibles to an offense transitioning back to a more physical style of play. He showed the ability to create free plays for the offense by using the hard count and pulling the defense offside in 2012, a move that demonstrates how comfortable his is in his natural position. The temporary move to wide receiver will likely help Devin in the big picture. It taught him another side of the offensive game and gave him a more complete understanding of his receivers. In the end, he belongs in the backfield behind the center, as he will be in 2013.

Projected Stats
Passing Yds Pass TD INT Comp % Rush Yds Rush TD
3,100 25 9 62% 550 8
Career Stats
2012 1,219 11 5 59.5% 101 7
2011 176 1 1 47.8% 53 1
2010 85 1 0 70.0% 21 1
Totals 1,480 13 6 58.5% 175 9

The New Kid: Shane Morris

Morris may not be afforded a redshirt this season

If it is possible to be a fan favorite before stepping foot on campus, Shane Morris has accomplished just that. The local quarterback made his loyalty to the University of Michigan clear when he signed before his senior year of high school. In the months that followed, Morris was very public about his attempts to recruit fellow highly-ranked recruits to join him at Michigan. The result was a top ten class and a fresh wave of excitement around Brady Hoke and the new staff.

Shane’s role in the 2013 season is still unclear. After missing much of his senior season with mononucleosis and coming in behind Gardner, many believe the lefty will redshirt. The move, however, is far from certain. Morris has shown through his recruiting and public support of Michigan that he is destined to be a leader in the future. Hoke may decide he would rather use the energetic freshman on the field at times to groom him for a leadership role in the near future.

On the field, expect Morris to be solid. He is athletic and, like Gardner, has the ability to extend plays and keep his eyes downfield. Listed at 6’3″, Morris is not afraid to be physical while running the ball, and his toughness should keep him on the field. Barring a redshirt, Shane will likely win the backup spot and potentially see time early in the year against teams like Akron and Central Michigan.

Projected Stats
Passing Yds Pass TD INT Comp %
300 2 2 55%

The Injury Bug: Russell Bellomy

Russell Bellomy tore his ACL in spring ball

The second half of the Nebraska game was a nightmare for Bellomy, as he completed the same number of passes to Cornhuskers defenders (three) as he did to his own team, finishing the game 3-of-16 for 38 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. While this game definitely left fans frustrated, understand that Bellomy was thrust into a difficult situation and this game was far from career-defining.

There was a chance, if Shane Morris had received a redshirt, that Bellomy could have played a major role in the upcoming season. The backup quarterback spot is always important on a team that has a dual-threat starter with rushing ability. That was before Bellomy suffered a torn ACL in April during a practice, however, and now it is likely that the former three-star recruit will miss the entire 2013 season.

Projected Stats
Passing Yds Pass TD INT Comp % INT Comp %
None in 2013
Career Stats
2012 46 0 4 19% 16 0
Totals 46 0 4 19% 16 0

This Year’s Bellomy: Brian Cleary

Redshirt freshman Brian Cleary has a chance to see some game action during the 2013 season. The Michigan native out of Detroit Jesuit would seemingly serve as the backup to Devin Gardner if Shane Morris receives a redshirt. Hoke may decide to keep Morris off the field as long as possible this season to keep the option of a redshirt open, and the result might be some clean-up time for Cleary in games like Akron that are destined to be blowouts by halftime. At this point, he does not seem to be in line for meaningful minutes during the 2013 season.

Projected Stats
Passing Yds Pass TD INT Comp %
150 1 1 50%

The Odd Man Out: Alex Swieca

Many fans may have never heard of Alex Swieca. The walk-on has yet to take a snap at Michigan, and it is highly unlikely that will change during the upcoming season. Swieca didn’t play any football in high school, but did play overseas in the Israel Football League for a year before enrolling at Michigan. Swieca’s love of the game makes for a cool story, as he continues to attend practices and workouts despite not seeing even a second of playing time, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a chance that he sees the field this year.

Projected Stats
Passing Yds Pass TD INT Comp %
None in 2013

Wrapping Up

Al Borges has to like what he’s working with at quarterback this season. The Michigan offense is in good hands when Gardner is on the field, which should be every meaningful snap. His athletic body and intelligence will help him avoid injury, something that the Maize and Blue faithful have had to worry about too often the last few years.

If something unexpected does keep Gardner off the field for an extended period of time, expect Hoke to call on Morris without hesitation. While the coaching staff would love to save Morris a year of eligibility to develop and learn the offense, the injury to Bellomy gives them no other option. Morris is highly regarded coming into his freshman year and would at least help Michigan remain competitive in most games. Obviously a drop-off from Gardner would be inevitable.

After Morris, there are nothing but question marks. Even the deepest teams in the country would be hard-pressed to win games with their fourth or fifth options at quarterback. In a conference like the Big Ten, Michigan will need a big year from Gardner to compete for their first championship since 2004. Thankfully for Michigan fans, as showcased last season, the dual-threat junior definitely has it in him.

The Michigan Medley wants to relish what’s left of Denard

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012


For about 25 minutes on Saturday, Michigan remained in prime position to sieze control of the Big Ten Legends division. The Wolverine defense had held Nebraska’s high-powered offense to just seven points and 113 total yards of offense and was marching down the field to take the lead with time running short in the first half. On 2nd-and-7 from the Nebraska 15, Denard Robinson rushed to his left, cut back to his right just before the sideline, and picked up a first down inside the ‘Husker 10-yard line setting up a 1st-and-goal. And then the world stopped.

Denard injured a nerve in his elbow on this play (AP photo)

Like he has done so often in his career, Denard didn’t get right back up, and Michigan fans across the country held their collective breaths. This time, however, he stayed down and when backup Russell Bellomy took over, Denard didn’t come right back in after a few plays. Bellomy proceeded to run for one yard and throw two incomplete passes, leading to a 24-yard field goal to pull within one. It was the closest Michigan would get.

The second half became a show of offensive ineptitude as Bellomy threw an interception that was returned to the Michigan four on Michigan’s first possession. The defense held strong, forcing a field goal. Two straight Michigan three-and-outs led to two more Nebraska field goals and Michigan’s chances were slipping away. Michigan’s lone scoring drive of the second half included 45 yards of Nebraska penalties  – a personal foul, unsportsmanlike conduct, and pass interference – while the Wolverines gained just 17.

Michigan’s defense held strong, forcing a punt and giving the ball back to the offense with a chance to tie the game, but Bellomy responded with another interception that led to Nebraska’s final, game-sealing touchdown.

In the immediate, it puts Nebraska in the driver’s seat for the Legends division. Both teams have one loss in conference, but Nebraska holds the current tie-breaker because of their head-to-head win. If the ‘Huskers win out, they’ll advance to the Big Ten Championship game against the winner of the Leaders division. Michigan almost certainly has to win all of its remaining games against Minnesota, Northwestern, Iowa, and Ohio State and needs Nebraska to drop one of its remaining contests.

In the broader context, this won’t go down in history as a classic Michigan-Nebraska contest. The chances for that went out the window the moment Denard went down. As Katie discussed last week, the previous seven meetings between the two teams turned in some close contests including a 6-6 tie in 1911 and a 27-23 Michigan victory in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl. This one had the makings of an epic showdown until Denard went down, but Bellomy wasn’t ready for primetime. His 3-for-16, 38-yard, three-interception performance was perhaps one of the worst in Michigan history.

Taylor Lewan tried to settle Bellomy down after he was thrown into the fire (photo by the Ann Arbor News)

So who is to blame for the letdown in Lincoln? Many are calling for Al Borges’ firing and many others are pounding Bellomy for not being ready. In reality, it’s a little of both, but not to that degree. There’s not a team in the nation that has both the playmaking ability of Denard from its starter and a backup that could pick up right where he left off when thrown into the fire. Ohio State would be in trouble if Braxton Miller went down against a competent defense (read: not Purdue). Much has been made about how the only thing that could keep Alabama from running the table is losing A.J. McCarron. The list goes on.

Many are blasting the coaching staff for not having Devin Gardner ready, but they’re also the same ones that were clamoring for moving Gardner to receiver before the season started. The simple fact of the matter is that while Michigan has improved since Hoke took over, the roster is still thin at certain positions. Receiver is one of them, necessitating Gardner’s move, and quarterback is the other since Tate Forcier flamed out.

Hoke and Borges felt that Bellomy was the team’s second best option at quarterback and Gardner’s athleticism was too good to keep off the field. While Gardner hasn’t exactly had a game-changing impact, he does lead the team with four touchdown catches, and the passing game as a whole is pretty bad. How much worse would it be without him? Bellomy, on the other hand, is likely better than his performance showed on Saturday, but like I mentioned above, he was thrown into about the worse possible scenario. As Chris discussed in his MMQ segment yesterday, once Bellomy came in, the Nebraska coaching staff unleashed the defense on him and Borges didn’t adjust the game plan to sufficiently counter it. There was a fantastic diary on MGoBlog that broke down why Michigan’s quarterback situation is the way it is, and I couldn’t agree more.

Of course the loss hurt and it leaves Michigan without control of its own destiny in its pursuit of winning the Big Ten. But let’s be realistic. Most thought this was an 8-4 or 9-3 team before the season started. In fact, it has played out exactly how I thought it would so far, even though I changed my pick against both Notre Dame and Nebraska. There’s a very good chance Michigan would have beaten Nebraska if Denard hadn’t gotten hurt, but we’ll never know. But don’t give up on this team. We have four games and a bowl left to witness a player the likes of which we’ll never see again in a winged helmet. Relish it. And then we can talk about who should be Michigan’s next quarterback.

___________________________________________________________________________________

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MMQ thinks Borges didn’t do Bellomy any favors without Denard

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012


Aside from the way that Greg Mattison’s defense played and some good kicking by Brendan Gibbons, there weren’t a lot of positives to take away from Saturday’s game against Nebraska. The offense without Denard was stale at best and made a much-maligned Nebraska defense look like the Blackshirts of old. Even before Denard went out with an elbow injury, the offensive line looked slow and unable to block effectively against Nebraska’s front seven. Again, as has often been the case this season, there was no running threat aside from Denard in the Wolverine backfield.

The injury to Denard showed just how valuable he is (photo by the Detroit News)

Denard’s injury was unfortunate, especially given the timing. We all knew that losing Denard would have major impacts on the effectiveness of the offense. With the lack of any other major offensive threats on the team, we all got a taste of reality while watching Russell Bellomy struggle through the second half. The reality is that there is still a lot of work to be done to get this Michigan offense back where it needs to be to compete for championships every year.

Quickly, let me say that I don’t fault Bellomy for anything. Yes, he made some poor decisions, but the guy is a redshirt freshman who had thrown all of a handful of passes prior to entering for Denard on Saturday. Also, the Nebraska coaches turned the dogs loose once they saw the wide-eyed Bellomy come in.

Offensive Coordinator Al Borges didn’t do Bellomy any favors either. When the defense is bringing pressure every play, the offense is required to adapt. This means slowing down that pressure through the use of screens and draws and passes to the backs out of the backfield. And no, I don’t mean wide receiver screens. The play must be run to where the pressure is coming from. Nebraska was bringing the blitz from the linebackers, so a screen to Fitz Toussaint or Vincent Smith would have worked. Or how about this? Remember that impressive tight end Michigan has named Devin Funchess – the guy who has barely touched the ball the last few games after looking like a real weapon in the beginning of the season? How about a screen to him right in the spot where the linebackers just vacated? At a time when Bellomy was obviously in over his head, some simple play calls like this would at least have moved the ball and have given Bellomy some confidence. If not in this game, but in future games.

So where does that leave Team 133 in their hopes for a Big Ten Championship? The simple answer is, not in a good spot. In the Legends division, they are now tied with Nebraska with one loss in the conference. However, Nebraska now holds the tiebreaker over Michigan, which means Michigan must win out and hope that Nebraska loses another game.

Brady Hoke has some work to do to achieve his goal of a Big Ten title (photo by the Detroit News)

Nebraska has four more Big Ten games. This coming week’s game at Michigan State may be the best chance for Nebraska to get tripped up. Following that, they have two homes games against Penn State and Minnesota and finish the season at Iowa.

Michigan’s road is tougher. The Wolverines travel to Minnesota for a rivalry game in the battle for the Little Brown Jug. Minnesota may not be much on paper and they are not in the conference title race, but it’s a rivalry and teams play tough in trophy games. Plus, Minnesota is looking for bowl elgibility, so they can’t take this one lightly. After that, come two home games against Northwestern and Iowa. Northwestern is a team who is still in the title hunt with two losses, but they need Nebraska to lose two more. Iowa has had a poor season, yet because of the lack of quality in the Big Ten, they too are still in the title hunt with two losses. And as mentioned above, they still have games against the three teams in front of them: Northwestern (this weekend), Michigan, and Nebraska. Then the Wolverines travel to the all-important Big Game in Columbus. Unlike what I did this past weekend when I changed my preseason pick and called for a Michigan win, I won’t be changing my Ohio State pick. With the way that both teams are playing, and given the fact that this will be OSU’s bowl game, I think Michigan loses by two touchdowns.

So this past weekend’s game was a bad loss. It hurt to witness a Michigan offense without Denard. It hurt to lose ugly. It hurt to lose a big game, one which would have set up the Wolverines nicely in their run for the Big Ten championship. Michigan’s key this weekend will be to not let last week’s opponent beat them twice. The road to Indianapolis begins again this weekend against Minnesota and the team must be focused on winning each of their last four games, one at a time.

Nebraska 23 – Michigan 9: Denard goes down and so does Michigan

Sunday, October 28th, 2012


Under Brady Hoke, Michigan is 15-0 when it scores more than 17 points. That’s all the defense needs to stand its ground and hold off its opponent. This weekend, however, Michigan came up well short and suffered its third loss of the season. All three have been away from the Big House.

Nebraska 23 – #20 Michigan 9
Final Stats
9 Final Score 23
5-3, 3-1 Record 6-2 (3-1)
188 Total Yards 326
95 Net Rushing Yards 160
93 Net Passing Yards 166
18 First Downs 20
3 Turnovers 2
3-44 Penalties – Yards 8-104
4-159 Punts – Yards 4-169
31:36 Time of Possession 28:24
5-of-15 Third Down Conversions 4-of-12
0-of-0 Fourth Down Conversions 0-of-0
1-10 Sacks By – Yards 2-17
3-for-4 Field Goals 3-for-3
0-for-0 PATs 2-for-2
2-for-2 Red Zone Scores – Chances 3-for-3

Early on it looked to be a great defensive battle but it all went downhill in the second quarter when Denard Robinson went down and suffered what is being called an aggravated nerve on his throwing arm. Without Denard the Wolverines turned to redshirt freshman Russell Bellomy. I think Bellomy has the tools to be a good quarterback at Michigan, but it just wasn’t his time yet. Bellomy hasn’t had much game action and he doesn’t get starter reps in practice, so a poor performance in a hostile environment wasn’t really a surprise. He didn’t get much help from his receivers, and Fitz Toussaint once again failed to do anything of note to keep the pressure off the young QB. The defense stood strong and kept Michigan in the game, but without any movement from the offense it wasn’t enough to hold off the Huskers.

Nebraska opened the scoring early in the second quarter on a 32-yard pass to a wide open Kenny Bell who made a great play after the catch to get into the end zone. Coverage on the play appeared less than stellar, but a second look showed Thomas Gordon effectively being “picked” near the line of scrimmage allowing Bell to get open in space. Michigan added two field goals before the half, and even with Denard out, was still in the game, trailing only 7-6.

Michigan’s defense continued to hold its ground and give the offense a fighting chance, only allowing field goals during the third and Michigan was still within striking distance heading into the final period down 16-9, as Brendan Gibbons hit his third field goal late in the quarter. Bellomy just could not get things going as Nebraska blitzed the unproven quarterback often and Michigan’s offense became one-dimensional. He was 3-of-16 and threw three picks, though they were not all his fault as one bounced off Vince Smith as he was falling before being snagged by the Husker defender.

Michigan failed to reach 100 yards passing and rushing, finishing with only 188 yards of total offense. The defense gave up more yards than usual but played extremely well and kept Michigan in the game until Ameer Abdullah sealed it with a 12-yard touchdown rush with just over 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

Michigan's Big Ten title hopes took a huge hit when Denard went down (photo by Getty Images)

It was a bit surprising that Devin Gardner did not come in during Denard’s extended absence. He may not be a great passer but he has more game experience than Bellomy plus he is a threat with his feet. Say what you will about his passing skills, or lack of, but Denard is the heart and soul of this offense and it showed how pedestrian it can be without him. The ‘Huskers took advantage and came away with the win.

Michigan fell to 5-3 (3-1 in the Big Ten), and while the Wolverines are tied for the lead in the Legends division Nebraska now owns the tie breaker. That means Michigan would need to win out and Nebraska would need to suffer another loss in conference play. I’m already on record as saying Michigan probably won’t win against its bitter rivals to the south, and the way OSU has been playing doesn’t make me want to change my mind yet. Of course it is possible for Michigan to reach the Big Ten title game but it no longer control its own destiny, and that is a hard pill to swallow.

This week, Michigan heads to Minneapolis to take on the Gophers. Michigan is 28-2 in its last 30 in the matchup and Minnesota is traditionally a bottom feeder in the Big Ten, though they did hang 44 points on Purdue on Saturday in a blow out win. Regardless, the pressure is really on Brady Hoke and this team if they want to stay in the hunt for Indianapolis.

Nebraska travels to Michigan State next week and then takes on Penn State in Lincoln the following week, so it is possible they drop one of those games and give Michigan some hope if they can win out.

All five of Brady Hoke’s losses since he’s been at Michigan have come way from the Big House. The game at Minnesota should be a win, but heading to Columbus for a game that will essentially be OSU’s national championship will be tough. I have faith in the Maize and Blue but their fate is no longer in their hands. They will do all they can to win every game but they will need a little help from the football gods if they are to achieve their goal of a Big Ten championship.

It is yet to be determined the extent of Denard’s injury and the likelihood of his return. The road will be tough even with Denard, but without him or at least with all the uncertainty at this point I am not sure how confident I am that this team can win out. Hopefully it is just another “boo-boo” and Shoelace suits up next week.

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The Prilosec OTC Wildberry Wild American Flavor Tour hit Lincoln for the game on Saturday. Check out some photos from the tailgate as well as some information on the new product and the Wildberry Flavor Sweepstakes.

Frequent heartburn sufferer and comedian, Larry the Cable Guy, hangs with fans at tailgate to promote new Prilosec OTC Wildberry and encourage fans to enter the Wild American Flavor Sweepstakes at www.WildberryFlavor.com.

Frequent heartburn sufferer and comedian, Larry the Cable Guy & Super Bowl Champion Roger Craig hang with fans at tailgate to promote new Prilosec OTC Wildberry and encourage fans to enter the Wild American Flavor Sweepstakes atwww.WildberryFlavor.com.

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Yardbarker and frequent heartburn sufferers (and Prilosec OTC users!), Larry the Cable Guy and Former NFL running back Roger Craig, attended last Saturday’s Nebraska v. Michigan showdown to promote the Prilosec OTC Wildberry Wild American Flavor Tour. Larry has been attending some of the most AWESOME sporting events across the country getting tailgaters excited for the new Prilosec OTC Wildberry product (now with a coating that gives you a burst of wildberry flavor) and a chance to enter and win the Wildberry Flavor Sweepstakes. Visit WildberryFlavor.com for the chance to be the envy of all your friends and win three trips to experience the nation’s most flavorful cities that also host the most incredible sporting events, courtesy of new Prilosec OTC Wildberry.

#17 Michigan 63 – UMass 13: Michigan dominates Minutemen

Sunday, September 16th, 2012


UMass kicked off to begin the game, and it sailed out of bounds. The rest of the afternoon wasn’t much better for the Minutemen as Michigan cruised to a 63-13 victory. Michigan had nine touchdowns scored by eight different players and was 6-for-6 inside the red zone. Denard Robinson accounted for almost 400 total yards and four total touchdowns, and Fitz Toussaint looked like his old self again with 85 yards and a TD. No Michigan receiver caught more than three balls (Drew Dileo), as Denard (and Russell Bellomy in the fourth quarter) spread the ball around well.

#17 Michigan 63 – UMass 13
Final Stats
63 Final Score 13
2-1 Record 0-3
585 Total Yards 259
294 Net Rushing Yards 112
291 Net Passing Yards 147
27 First Downs 15
1 Turnovers 1
5-40 Penalties – Yards 10-69
3-124 Punts – Yards 7-268
30:57 Time of Possession 29:03
7-for-11 Third Down Conversions 7-for-17
1-for-1 Fourth Down Conversions 0-for-0
1-24 Sacks By – Yards 1-7
0-for-0 Field Goals 2-for-3
9-for-9 PATs 1-for-1
6-for-6 Red Zone Scores – Chances 2-for-2

Devin Gardner showed off his extreme athleticism on a 42-yard touchdown reception in the first half that was almost surreal to watch as he outran the defense, tip-toed the sideline and dove to the pylon after being shoved by a UMass defender. Dileo added a nice 66-yard reception to set up one of Vincent Smith’s two touchdowns, and even redshirt freshman running back Justice Hayes got in on the action late with the first TD of his career.

Speaking of first touchdowns, Taylor Lewan scored his first on a fumble recovery after Denard fumbled on the goal line. Hopefully this is the last time Lewan finds himself in the end zone that way.

Michigan didn’t take long to put points on the board as Denard hit a wide open Devin Funchess on a 26-yard slant on Michigan’s fifth play of the game, and he took it in for six. The rest of the game went pretty much the same way as Michigan put up 42 before halftime.

However, UMass gave a good effort and had its moments. Former Michigan running back and alum, Mike Cox, ran the ball hard and was tough take down, while the Minutemen took back an interception for their only TD of the day. Their best play, however, was a flea flicker in the second quarter that went for a big gain inside the 20. The drive stalled though and they had to settle for a field goal, as they did on one other drive as well. In the end, Michigan was just too much, as we all expected, and the Wolverines prevailed 63-13.

Despite the end result, the Minutemen fought and fought hard. Both their offensive and defensive lines gave Michigan all they could handle in the early going, but faded as the game went on. Denard was 16-24 for 291 and 3 touchdowns, but he wasn’t as efficient as he could have been and still struggled to make good reads and stepping into his throws. The pick-six he threw was a horrible ball that should never have been thrown in the first place.

The Wolverines still have a lot to work on but this game gave them a nice confidence boost and a glimpse of the uptempo spread-style offense Notre Dame will employ next week, as UMass head coach Charlie Molnar is a former assistant of Brian Kelly’s going all the way back to his days at Central Michigan. If Michigan wants to leave South Bend with a win next week they will need to bring their A-game. Notre Dame looked very good, especially up front, against the Spartans in East Lansing on Saturday night and year three looks to be the year for Brian Kelly and the Irish, something not every recent ND coach can say.

Brady Hoke will most likely never be satisfied with his team’s effort, and that’s fine with me. There is always something to be improved upon. Look for Michigan to have a good week of practice and be ready to take on the Golden Domers under the lights next Saturday in what should be another epic battle.

Three Stars:

1. Denard Robinson
Passing: 16-24 291 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception
Rushing: 10 rushes for 109 yards, 1 touchdown
Why? Denard was his vintage self on his lone touchdown run, pulling down a would-be pass, rushing to his left, cutting back across the field, and outrunning the defense to the end zone. But he also got it done with his arm, passing for nearly 300 yards in three quarters. He spread the ball around to nine different receivers and passed Tom Brady and Jim Harbaugh on the career passing yards list.

2. Drew Dileo
Receiving: 3 catches for 91 yards
Why? The diminutive receiver had the best game of his young career, nearly reaching 100 yards receiving. He provided exactly what Michigan needs – another receiving weapon to step up. If Denard can continue to find Dileo and Jeremy Gallon from the slot position, it will take some of the pressure off of Devin Gardner and Roy Roundtree on the outside.

3. Fitz Toussaint
Rushing: 15 rushes for 87 yards, 1 touchdown
Why?  In his second game back from suspension, Toussaint showed what we all saw last season: shiftiness and a knack for picking up yards. It was important to get him going with Notre Dame coming up, and he made the most of it, averaging 5.7 yards per carry.

Honorable Mention: Taylor Lewan. The junior left tackle recorded the first touchdown of his career, recovering a Denard fumble at the goal line. Denard said after the game that Lewan wasn’t happy about it because if he had made the block, Denard wouldn’t have gotten hit and fumbled in the first place, but he’ll happily take the points.

Top Photos:

Ron Kramer's No. 87 was given legends status (photo by MGoBlue.com)

Jerald Robinson nearly made an acrobatic one-handed touchdown catch (AP photo)

Five-year-old Cooper Barton and his family were honored during a timeout (photo by MGoBlue.com)

Team 133 was drawn in the sky above the Big House (photo by the Detroit News)

Michigan players greet their former teammate, Mike Cox after the game (photo by MGoBlog)

5-Spot Challenge: Week 3

Monday, September 10th, 2012



Congratulations to chicagoblue for capturing Week 2 of the 5-Spot Challenge. He was just four away from correctly predicting the total combined rushing yards for both teams, 10 away from Michigan’s passing yards, and 10 away from Air Force running back Cody Getz’s rushing total. To make his feat even more impressive, he was the only contestant to correctly predict Michigan’s point total of 31 (he was 11 short of Air Force’s, however). His differential of 181 was 22 better than second place Maizenblu62 who amazingly was only one yard off of the total combined rushing yards and four off of Michigan’s passing total.

Brad and crp12qb were each just four away from the total combined rushing yards. KashKaav was just five away from Gallon and Gardner’s combined receiving yards, while clelwell was the closest to Getz’s rushing total (seven away).

Altogether, 15 contestants all picked Michigan to win and did so by an average score of 39-17. Not a single person picked Michigan to score less than the 31 it did and not a single person picked Air Force to score 25 or more. Shows how much we know!

You can find the weekly standings on the right sidebar or by clicking here, and the overall standings are also on the right sidebar or by clicking here.

This week, Michigan hosts a UMass team that has been outscored 87-6 in its first two games. The spread opened at 40.5 points, the most in Michigan history, so it should be a fun week of picks for the 5-Spot Challenge. Good luck!

Meet Your 2011 Recruiting Class: The Offense

Saturday, February 5th, 2011


Nearly every starter returns next season for Michigan’s offense, including Big Ten Player of the Year Denard Robinson. Offensive coordinator Al Borges has vowed to build the playbook around Robinson’s talents while limiting his carries. Seven newcomers will join the crew, along with one kicker. Let’s meet the newest Wolverines.

Quarterback (1)
RUSSELL BELLOMY
Height: 6-3
Weight: 178
Hometown: Arlington, Texas (Martin)
Rivals Ranking: NR (3-star)
Scout Ranking: #39 Quarterback (3-star)
ESPN Ranking: #35 Quarterback, 78 rating (3-star)
Chose Michigan Over: Purdue, Michigan State, Minnesota, South Florida, Colorado
How He Fits In: Bellomy was originally a Purdue commitment who switched to Michigan after Hoke was named Rodriguez’s replacement. He’s an important commit because of the current state of Michigan’s quarterback roster. Denard Robinson will be a junior next season and Devin Gardner a redshirt freshman likely to assume the starting role in 2013 after Robinson graduates. Bellomy should redshirt next season so he’s not the same as Gardner eligibility-wise, but because of Tate Forcier’s transfer, Hoke may have to keep Bellomy ready to play. He held offers from Michigan State and Boise State, so he’s not a throwaway recruit just to build depth, though he’ll benefit from a few years developing behind Robinson and Gardner.
Running Back (2)
JUSTICE HAYES
Height: 5-10
Weight: 175
Hometown: Grand Blanc, Mich. (Grand Blanc)
Rivals Rank: #3 Running Back, #85 Overall (4-star)
Scout Rank: #14 Running Back (4-star)
ESPN Rank: #22 Running Back, 79 rating (4-star)
Chose Michigan Over: Notre Dame, Michigan State, Tennessee, Iowa, Wisconsin
How He Fits In: The various recruiting sites differ slightly as to how good Hayes is, but judging by his offer sheet, many of the top schools think he can be a good college back. At Michigan, he’s likely to redshirt next season due to a crowded backfield, and there’s a slight chance he could move to slot receiver, but he could be a very good player in a couple of years. He originally committed to Notre Dame, but switched to Michigan and then helped lobby for other recruits to follow him to Ann Arbor. He has good speed and is high character kid who will work hard to get better. Fans will love him in a few years.
THOMAS RAWLS
Height: 5-10
Weight: 214
Hometown: Flint, Mich. (Northern)
Rivals Rank: NR (3-star)
Scout Rank: #77 Running Back (3-star)
ESPN Rank: #84 Running Back, 76 rating (3-star)
Chose Michigan Over: Cincinnati, Central Michigan, Toledo
How He Fits In: Rawls was a late addition and the type of back Hoke wants for his offense. He may be a bit of a sleeper, not being rated highly by the recruiting sites. He has the body to compete right away, although with Stephen Hopkins already on the team, the smart move may be to redshirt him to create some separation. Longtime running backs coach Fred Jackson whose son coached Rawls at Flint Northern, compared him to Flint native and 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. If Rawls can prove adept at blocking and taking care of the ball, he could see the field sooner rather than later.
Offensive Line (3)
CHRIS BRYANT
Height: 6-5
Weight: 330
Hometown: Chicago, Ill. (Simeon)
Rivals Ranking: #19 Offensive Tackle, #203 overall (4-star)
Scout Ranking: #21 Offensive Guard (3-star)
ESPN Ranking: #37 Offensive Guard, 77 rating (3-star)
Chose Michigan Over: Illinois, Pittsburgh, Arizona, Stanford, Ohio State
How He Fits In: Bryant fills a position of great need for this class and is a big pickup for Hoke. He represents a shift back to the traditional Big Ten linemen that Michigan utilized for years before Rodriguez’s spread called for smaller, quicker linemen. Bryant needs a redshirt season to lose some weight and build some strength, but once current Wolverines Patrick Omameh and Ricky Barnum graduate, Bryant should be able to work his way into the lineup in 2013 and blossom into an all-conference guard.
TONY POSADA
Height: 6-6
Weight: 315
Hometown: Tampa, Fla. (Plant)
Rivals Ranking: NR (3-star)
Scout Ranking: #45 Offensive Tackle (3-star)
ESPN Ranking: #34 Offensive Tackle, 78 rating (3-star)
Chose Michigan Over: South Florida, Texas Tech, Missouri, Tennessee, Rutgers
How He Fits In: Posada is a strong and physical lineman with a good body for Hoke’s offense. Conditioning and technique are called into question, so like most offensive linemen, Posada will benefit greatly from a redshirt season. He could play either guard or tackle, but will most likely play tackle opposite Taylor Lewan if he can work his way into the lineup by 2013.
JACK MILLER
Height: 6-4
Weight: 268
Hometown: Perrysburg, Ohio (St. John’s)
Rivals Ranking: NR (3-star)
Scout Ranking: #16 Center (3-star)
ESPN Ranking: #53 Defensive Tackle, 78 rating (3-star)
Chose Michigan Over: Cincinnati, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Boston College
How He Fits In: Miller will most likely play offensive line for the Wolverines, although ESPN rates him as a defensive tackle. Rodriguez and Hoke’s staffs recruited him as a guard/center, so that’s where he’ll end up. At 6-4, 268, he will need to add some weight to become a Big Ten offensive lineman, especially in Hoke’s power run offense as compared to Rodriguez’s spread. His freshman year will certainly be a redshirt and he could work his way into the lineup in a couple years. If he’s at center, he’ll have a chance in 2012 when David Molk graduates.
Tight End (1)
CHRIS BARNETT
Height: 6-6
Weight: 245
Hometown: Hurst, Texas (L.D. Bell)
Rivals Ranking: #14 Tight End, #224 overall (4-star)
Scout Ranking: #16 Tight End (3-star)
ESPN Ranking: #20 Tight End, 78 rating (3-star)
Chose Michigan Over: Arkansas, Miami, Florida State, USC, Oklahoma State
How He Fits In: Barnett was the last commitment to round out the 20-man class and a big get for Hoke. Tight end is a position of need since Martell Webb’s eligibility expired and Kevin Koger is a senior next season. The only other tight end is Brandon Moore, a redshirt sophomore who will be a redshirt junior next season and has hardly played. Barnett is a big and lean tight end with good hands and long arms. In Hoke’s offense, he could be a star in the mold of former Florida (and current New England Patriot) tight end Aaron Hernandez.
Kicker (1)
MATT WILE
Height: 6-2
Weight: 210
Hometown: San Diego, Calif. (Francis Parker)
Rivals Ranking: NR (2-star)
Scout Ranking: #4 Kicker(3-star)
ESPN Ranking: #37 Kicker, 74 rating (2-star)
Chose Michigan Over: Nebraska, Washington, San Diego State
How He Fits In: Wile is probably the biggest benefactor of Hoke landing the job at Michigan. He was being recruited by Hoke to San Diego State and followed Hoke to Ann Arbor. He’ll have a chance to win the kicking job right off the bat given Michigan’s struggles last season. The last kicker recruit, Brendan Gibbons, struggled mightily last season, going just 1-for-5, and losing his spot to Seth Broekhuizen. Wile is a good athlete with a repeatable kicking stroke, which is very inspiring.

Overview

Hoke filled needs at tight end, offensive line, and kicker, but wasn’t able to reel in any receivers. Bryant, Posada, and Barnett could all be eventual stars for the Wolverines, while Rawls and Hayes will have to battle a loaded and experienced backfield.

Not landing a receiver was certainly a letdown (though not much of Hoke’s fault, since he had just three weeks of recruiting) and will have to be a focus next season. Landing Barnett was a great way to close out the class with a pass catching tight end who can spread the field.

I’ll give this class a C+ but since it didn’t really nab any top-notch recruits, it can’t get any higher than that. Hoke has certainly built some momentum to carry into the 2012 class, which I think can be a top 10 or 15 class.