We conclude our look at the Michigan offense with the WRs and TEs and how Michigan OC Al Borges plans on using them. The passing game will consist of two Richard Rod slot holdovers and a bunch of tall sophomores and freshman that Hoke and Borges have recruited to fit their offensive philosophy.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
1. The Veterans– Senior Jeremy Gallon came to Michigan among a bunch of other smaller slot WRs that Rich Rod recruited. He spent his first year redshirting and the next few driving every Michigan fan insane as he constantly made horrible plays as a punt returner. (He was also known for looking like Snoop from the Wire.)
Since Hoke showed up, though, Gallon has turned him into a quality receiver and was good for this play working once a game. (It works really well versus Illinois as most things do.) When Gardner took over for the last four games, Gallon’s numbers jumped up dramatically, including two 100 yard games versus Iowa and South Carolina. Expect a big year from him as he has a legit shot to be first team All Big Ten with Gardner throwing him the ball.
Slot guy Drew Dileo is the other successful veteran receiver. Anytime Dileo is brought up to Hoke in a press conference he makes a point of talking about how Dileo basically has no talent whatsoever. He says that he is just a “football player.” While there is a lot of “Hokeism” in that statement, there is also a lot of truth. Dileo was another slot guy Rich Rod recruited who made it through the transition and found his place as the security blanket in the Michigan offense. He makes big catches and Borges finds interesting ways to use him.
Senior backups Jeremy Jackson and Joe Reynolds will also factor in this season, mainly at blocking. Michigan Men have to be able to block fergodsakes. (Also THE NORFLEET moved to slot to backup Dileo.)
2. The New Receivers– Sophomore Armah Darboh and Redshirt frosh Jehu Chesson have a chance to be a big part of this offense. Both fit the mold for what Hoke is looking for as they are both over 6’2”. Darboh is more in the mold of Jason Avant. He does not have top end speed but can catch everything. Chesson, meanwhile, was a track star in high school and has a chance to be a deep threat as his career progresses as Michigan.
The main point here is that each is a year into the Michigan offense and they can each bring something different to the WR position Michigan doesn’t have right now.
Michigan brought in three freshman receivers as well, but none were highly touted and I expect most of them to redshirt. (Damn you Ole Miss!)
3. Tight Ends– Last year as freshmen, Devin Funchess and A.J. Williams had to play because Michigan had no other scholarship Tight Ends. Funchess did show his receiving skills with 5 TDs and a 100-yard performance versus Air Force. When it came to blocking, though, each of them struggled. Hopefully an offseason in the weight room has done each of them some good or else look for Michigan to mimic Stanford (or Wisconsin) in short yardage situations and add an extra offensive lineman.
Freshman Jake Butt was in for spring and should be used like a pass catcher like Funchess last year. I don’t expect a lot from this group in terms of blocking until next year when depth and bulk is much better.
Meaningless Prediction- Gallon is the best WR in the B1G and Funchess explodes for 35 catches and 10 TDs. Dileo has at least one memorable catch across the middle in a big game. Darboh and Chesson flash their talents and show a glimpse of the 6’2″ plus future. (All bets are off if Gardner gets hurt.)
Next up I take a look back at Al Borges’ first two seasons and what lies ahead for the Michigan offense moving forward, O and Cheddar Jalapeno Cheetos.