Michigan's next starter? The only question is if he can fit the spread.
This is Sam Weiss, reporting live from Michigan’s Fall Camp where, once again, the offense looks to be shaping up as one of the best in the nation. A few observations:
Perhaps the fiercest battles have been in the interior of the line. We’ve all heard about the strength Will Johnson and Terrance Taylor have added this off-season, but even they are having trouble getting push against the interior offensive line. Justin Boren anchors the interior at center, but the guards may be even more talented. It’s obvious to all observers that Marques Slocum and Alex Mitchell have put all motivation and conditioning problems behind them, as they’ve looked slim, quick and aggressive in practice. Despite the loss of Jake Long, look for a big improvement in the line this year.
Most of the media’s attention of course, is shining away from the offensive line and onto the quarterback battle. Coach Rodriguez is remaining noncommittal on who will start, calling both Ryan Mallett and Jason Forcier, “players we can win with.” The media has been pushing Forcier, calling him a better fit for the spread, but Rodriguez assures that with wideouts like Mario Manningham, Adrian Arrington and Greg Mathews, Michigan’s spread need not resemble Pat White’s West Virginia team. With Mallett’s world-class arm and arguably the best set of wide receivers in the nation, Michigan’s offense could resemble Texas Tech’s more than West Virginia’s. Don’t be surprised to see ample time for both in next week’s tune-up against Utah. Michigan fans are also excited over reports that Coach Rod is inserting several formations that will feature last year’s Heisman finalist, Antonio Bass, lining up at quarterback. We’ve all seen that he can throw, probably as well as Pat White can, and ranks with Percy Harvin as among the most dangerous open field players in the country. Everyone is buzzing over the different ways that Coaches Rodriguez and Magee are finding to get him the ball in open space.
Heisman finalist Antonio Bass doing what he does best: making plays (photo from Mike Desimone).Several freshmen seem ready to contribute as well, although barring injury the only true opportunities will come via special teams. Michael Shaw, Sam McGuffie and Martavious Odoms are all pushing to be Michigan’s number two in the slot. Behind, of course, last year’s freshman sensation Ronald Johnson.
The only question on everyone’s mind: who is going to stop these guys?
(thank you, Sam, for utterly depressing me on what was a beautiful Thursday afternoon - ed)