Michigan Football: Offensive Grades and 2014 Outlook

Phil CallihanContributor IJanuary 21, 2014

Michigan Football: Offensive Grades and 2014 Outlook

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    A thrilling victory over Notre Dame was the highlight of the season
    A thrilling victory over Notre Dame was the highlight of the seasonAssociated Press

    Michigan finished 7-6, 3-5 Big Ten Conference, resulting in offensive coordinator Al Borges being fired and replaced with Doug Nussmeier from Alabama. Borges paid the price for the team’s epic fall from Big Ten title contender to the depths of the Legends Division.

    The dismissal of Borges will lead to a new look for the Michigan offense which struggled mightily behind an offensive line that was shuffled for practically every game.

    Here are the offensive grades for the 2013 season.

Quarterbacks

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    Devin Gardner peaked versus Notre Dame
    Devin Gardner peaked versus Notre DameTony Ding/Associated Press

    Devin Gardner: B
    Shane Morris: Incomplete

    Gardner’s statistics indicate that he had a phenomenal season (208-of-345 for 2,960 yards, 11 interceptions, 21 touchdowns) passing and (483 yards and 11 touchdowns) on the ground.

    His performance is even more remarkable when considering he played behind an abysmal offensive line that had him running for his life for most of the season. Michigan was best when Gardner was the focal point of the offense, running and passing with abandon.

     

    2014 Position Outlook

    Gardner’s passing and running totals are impressive, but wins are the most important statistic. Gardner should return as starter next season, but if the team stumbles Morris will get an opportunity.

Running Backs

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    Fitzgerald Toussaint
    Fitzgerald ToussaintTony Ding/Associated Press

    Fitzgerald Toussaint: C
    Derrick Green: C+
    De’Veon Smith: C+
    Joe Kerridge: B

    Fitzgerald Toussaint struggled to regain his form after returning from a devastating 2012 injury (185 carries for 648 yards and 13 touchdowns). The offensive line failed to open up running lanes, but Toussaint seemed reluctant to attack opposing defenses and was easy to tackle. He also struggled to pass block for Gardner which hampered the Michigan passing attack.

    Green and Smith showed promise late in the season, but it was not enough to establish a consistent running attack. Kerridge was a serviceable fullback.

     

    2014 Position Outlook


    Toussaint’s graduation clears the way for Green and Smith to battle for the starting position. Green showed the ability to pound defenders and make holes, but Smith’s speed and evasiveness give him the edge in new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier’s offense. 

Receivers

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    Jeremy Gallon
    Jeremy GallonTony Ding/Associated Press

    Jeremy Gallon: A
    Drew Dileo: B
    Jehu Chesson: C

    Gallon capped a great Michigan career with a stellar final season (89 receptions for 1,373 yards and nine touchdowns), while Drew Dileo had a knack for the big play. Gardner will miss both players next season. Chesson showed potential but needs to work on route running and separation to be more a more of factor.

     

    2014 Position Outlook


    With Gallon and Dileo departing the competition for receiver, it's wide-open next season. Chesson has the inside track but look for Amara Darboh who missed this season because of injury to be in the mix. It also remains to be seen where Devin Funchess will play next season. He showed promise at receiver and could also be a factor.

    Incoming freshmen Drake Harris and Maurice Ways both have the size and speed to compete, depending on how fast they acclimate to the college game. Harris also needs to recover from an injury that forced him to miss his senior high school season.

Tight Ends

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    Devin Funchess
    Devin FunchessTony Ding/Associated Press

    Devin Funchess: A 
    Jake Butt: B
    A.J. Williams: C

    Funchess was everywhere Michigan needed him to be last season—lining up at tight end, slot and wide receiver while causing matchup problems for opposing defenses and tallying up impressive receiving totals (49 receptions for 748 yards and six touchdowns). Butt also had a good season, blocking well and making a decent number of big receptions.


    2014 Position Outlook


    With all three players returning next season, Michigan is well-stocked at tight end. Funchess will be a large part of the offense next season—no matter where he lines up. Butt’s play makes it possible for Funchess to move to wide receiver if needed.

Offensive Line

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    Taylor Lewan
    Taylor LewanTony Ding/Associated Press

    Taylor Lewan: B
    Michael Shofield: B

    Erik Magnuson: D
    Graham Glasgow: D
    Kyle Bosch: D
    Jack Miller: F

    Kyle Kalis: Injury Incomplete
    Chris Bryant: Injury Incomplete
    Joey Burzynski: Injury Incomplete

    Michigan's offensive line was a disaster last season—injuries and poor play caused constant shuffling, and the unit never found consistency. Much of the blame for the team's disappointing season rests with the offensive line— a group that struggled to open up holes for the running game or pass protect for Devin Gardner.

    Lewan and Schofield were consistent but not good enough to make up for deficiencies on the interior line. Lewan let his temper get the best of him and was lucky to not get tossed out of a few games for taking liberties with opponents.

    Magnuson, Glasgow and Bosch were completely unpredictable—each occasionally having good games followed by poor outings. Miller was overmatched at center from the beginning and replaced early in the season.

     

    2014 Position Outlook


    With Lewan and Shofield graduating, every position is up for grabs. The offensive line is the main problem needing to be corrected to prevent a repeat of last season’s collapse. A situation this dire would cause some schools to look for junior-college players to transfer in—but Michigan historically doesn’t go that route.

2014 Outlook

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    New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier with Brady Hoke
    New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier with Brady HokeCarlos Osorio/Associated Press

    New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier inherits a squad with lots of returning talent but huge questions on the offensive line.

    How he manages the returning players and his ability to piece together a competent offensive line will dictate if Michigan can compete with Michigan State and Ohio State next season.