Thursday, November 29, 2012
Season analysis: WRs/TEs
By Michael Rothstein
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan will continue its streak of not having a 1,000-yard receiver this season, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Wolverines have struggled at the position.
While Mario Manningham was Michigan’s last 1,000-yard receiver in 2007 (1,174 yards), Michigan has seen inconsistent, but increased, production from receivers this season over last year.
Considering Michigan’s transition from a spread to a pro-style offense, that could be deemed as progress at a position where there were major questions entering the season.
And at tight end, Michigan is beginning to develop a potential future star.
Devin Funchess posted the first 100-yard receiving game by a Michigan TE in 15 years.
Initially, this season didn’t look too good for Michigan, but over the final month of the season the receiving corps showed up. Michigan’s top two receivers -- Roy Roundtree and Jeremy Gallon -- both found increased production once Devin Gardner took over as quarterback. The Wolverines have gone downfield more often over the final month, which benefited Roundtree more than anyone.
Michigan also found a future star in tight end Devin Funchess, who has the size and hands to become a matchup nightmare for opponents the next three seasons. They also found a serviceable backup in senior walk-on Mike Kwiatkowski and someone who could be a good blocking tight end in the future in A.J. Williams.
Considering the questions surrounding these two positions at the start of the season, these areas could have been much, much worse.
The Bad Once Big Ten play started, Funchess essentially disappeared. While he has two touchdowns during league play, he has not caught more than one pass in any conference game. Part of this has to go to lack of targeting him, but he also has struggled at times getting off the line of scrimmage.
While Roundtree and Gallon have produced, it was with little consistency the first two months of the season when Denard Robinson was playing quarterback. There was a decent portion of the season where Gardner, now Michigan’s quarterback, was the Wolverines’ top receiver.
Michigan also never established a game-breaking receiver early this season, something Roundtree has started to become in the last games of his career.
Much like running back, receiver and tight end are both slots where freshmen can come in and make immediate impacts. Funchess and Williams will return in their roles at tight end next season, but Jake Butt is a guy who could see immediate playing time if for no other reason than lack of depth on the roster.
At receiver, Michigan has a bunch of questions after Gallon. He’ll be the top wideout next season, but who comes next? Does Drew Dileo take on an expanded role, leaving Michigan with two targets under 6-f00t? Will Jerald Robinson take that next step with few people in front of him? Will Amara Darboh or Jehu Chesson take a leap to being a starter?
Or will a freshman, either the committed Jaron Dukes or Da'Mario Jones or an uncommitted one, step on the field immediately? Receiver specifically is an area of major concern for 2013.