Looking ahead to 2009, I am constantly being asked how the freshmen are doing.
Since the program has gone from "transition" to "rebuilding" to now "starting over," the freshmen class will play an important role with the "New Michigan".
Barring some unforeseen injury (remember Zirbel), or Barnum just getting too homesick (which can happen to kids that far away from home when not playing), I think you can pencil him in at left guard in 2009 and he will anchor the offensive line for the next four years.
He needs to get more physical at contact, but has improved a ton since coming to Michigan and will be our most athletic offensive lineman next year.
Note to Coach Rod: please do not take the red-shirt off him.
I do not see him starting in 2009, but he will push Molk next year. Molk should keep his starting job assuming, of course, that Mooseman does not end up moving back to offensive center. Khoury is another above average athletic kid who seems to have the best work ethic of this year’s freshman class.
Posters are very premature in thinking Omameh will be a factor in 2009. He has a long way to go, is very raw, and needs a ton of work on his footwork, especially in pass protection. He needs a couple of years with Barwis. I don’t see him being a factor at Michigan until 2010, but he is the type of player that is worth taking a chance on and has a huge upside if he keeps his intensity
I expect O'Neill to be our most improved offensive lineman in 2009. He has had some transitional issues with college football and has had problems with pass blocking, but he has shown some improvement in the last month. O'Neill is just one of those kids who over analyzes everything and can be a little too hard on himself. He needs to gain some confidence. I think that will happen during the next off season with Barwis and in spring practice.
Still a big question on whether he will be at Michigan at the start of 2009. He made the decision this year to stick it out and see what role he would play. The success of Minor helps his chances at Michigan since Cox is very similar to Minor. Cox is underrated and could be a very good football player at Michigan. He was injured his senior year in High School and feels he is now completely healthy and in shape. He not only runs with power, but also has above average speed. His main issue could be that he runs too high.
I know some posters have questioned my evaluation of Stonum, but I still maintain he is our best wide receiver right now. There is no wide receiver we can recruit who is better than Stonum, and Michigan needs to make him an important part of the game plan. Stonum has shown some signs of immaturity, such as staying involved in the game when he is not getting the ball, but his talent is obvious.
He is a possession type receiver, but as advertised he has great hands and shows a knack of being in the right spot at the right time. His blocking is an issue, and he needs to get a lot more physical. I think he sees some important playing time next year. He is one of those kids who just seems to know how to play (something lacking with the majority of the players at Michigan).
Y’all know about him.
Big injury issues, but he actually shows more quickness than Odoms. Change of direction is his biggest strength. Odoms is a tougher kid and Odoms seems to have better hands. The Slot position will not be an issue in 2009 with Odoms, T-Rob and incoming freshman Gallon.
Of course, he will be the returning starter in 2009. He needs to really upgrade his blocking ability. However, if all the kids on the team were as coachable as Koger, I doubt if things would have regressed this badly. I just hope the coaches make him a big part of the offense next year because unlike Butler, I think Koger will get better as he matures.
I will discuss the defense later.
Just some Tidbits:
I went to the Alabama-Mississippi game Saturday. Alabama must have had 250 kids visiting, and some were sophomores in high school. I was very impressed with the amount of time and energy they put into recruiting and talking to not only the kids, but also the parents.
Under Saban, Alabama will be a top 10 school for years to come. What does this have to do with Michigan? Because (my opinion) Alabama and Michigan have a ton of similarities. Both are traditional football powers with a name that by itself garners a lot of attention from high school athletes.
As I have tried to explain, Saban and Coach Rod are similar in that they both came to schools with big reputations of being winners. But Saban seems to better understand the value of recruiting, and makes no bones that the only way Alabama can get back to where it wants to be is through recruiting; thus, my comment that the only way back for Michigan is through recruiting.
While everyone can discuss what is wrong with this team, I believe ErocWolverine, CoachBt and I tried to warn people about the potential for problems back in the spring.
The one area where I think you will see major improvements by next year is on the offensive line. I believe the big reason for that is Coach Frey, our best position coach. The offensive line has struggled at times this year, but the key to the improvement I see is that Frey has a lot of experience coaching an offensive line in the spread.
Side-note to this point:
During my visit to Alabama this weekend, I had the opportunity to talk to the Alabama offensive line coach. He had a couple of interesting points.
First, playing offensive line in the spread offense is actually easier to learn, but harder to play. His point was he believes the spread is similar in a lot of ways to the old option game. He asked me to think back to all the great offensive lines at Nebraska when they were dominating college football and reminded me that almost every starter on their offensive lines were veterans who had been there for three years or more. His point was the older players are, the better they are in the spread.
He continued, saying that in the pro-style offense that Alabama employs, which relies on the power running game and play action, you can hide a younger player as long as he is strong enough to play. He said it is harder to do that with the spread because strength is less of an issue in that offense.
The Michigan State game, of course, is Michigan's season now. Michigan will go into this game with the same personnel that have been playing all season.
But look for some changes after the Michigan State game, like Fitzgerald playing some with the first group, and Sagesse getting more snaps.
In addition, it looks more and more like Feagin will eventually get some snaps this season, but not until after the Michigan State game.
The Shafer controversy:
As many know, I am a fan of Coach Shafer, although the defensive performance this year has been disappointing. Nevertheless (again an opinion) the worst thing Coach Rod can do is to make a change in the off-season and bring in another coach from West Virginia.
Finally, I said in the spring, in the summer, in the fall and I will say it again today: the crap with Coach Rod is not going away until he wins. Winning is his only way of being accepted by Michigan fans, and because of the lack of winning, the “BS” is at an all-time high.
The Honeymoon is officially over. A loss this weekend would make things very ugly. All of the adversity will make Rodriguez a better coach in the end, but it is just going to be unbearable for him the rest of this season, and this off-season is going to be a nightmare.
So again my message to Coach Rod remains: “recruit, recruit, recruit,” and if there are any coaches on the staff who do not understand this, please replace them.
written by MaizeMan and ErocWolverine