Assessing the Michigan Wolverine Football Team after Game 1:

Overall, it is hard to be too critical since it was the first game; however, one can see strengths and weaknesses so let's explore these:


QB-Navarre had a typical game for him. He wasn't as sharp as he'll be later on in the year. He did throw some nice passes, and he overthrew a lot of receivers early. He had some receivers drop some passes, and as always, he had several passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. He is a solid quarterback, and our best; we must support him. Gutierez looked very sharp, and should be a solid backup in case of injury. He is very mobile especially on the bootleg. Brinton didn't throw, but it is nice to know we have experience there. It should be interesting to see Gutierrez, Henne and Richard compete for the next three years: 2004, 2005 and 2006. We are solid at this position!

FB-Dudley started and wasn't blocking every linebacker or defensive end, but he did seem to do a decent job. He had no carries or passes thrown his way. Thompson came in late, and wasn't all that impressive. We sure could use Sanderson here especially in the red zone. This is a weak position, and will be totally exposed against strong teams like Notre Dame, Ohio State, etc.

TB-Perry was awesome! He looks like the back we have always hoped he'd be. He was quick, fast and made good cuts. He caught one screen and is very dangerous in the open field. I'm not sure how well he did in blocking, but we are lucky to have him. Underwood also looked solid; he is also a dangerous back catching screens and he looks very muscular. Underwood should log a significant amount of playing time. I was more impressed with Jackson than Rembert; he is quicker and probably faster. Even Bradley looks like he can contribute; he is low to the ground and fast. Hopefully, we'll be able to stay away from fumbles and turnovers against the good teams. We are solid at this position!

WR-We have two of the best in the country with Edwards and Breaston! They are gamebreakers and backbreakers! I don't see any defenses stopping either; they are too hard to double cover without exposing other defensive weaknesses. Bell, Avant and Butler look to be good pass catchers and blockers. Tabb was impressive, but Gonzalez was uninvolved. We have 7 solid receivers with two being gamebreakers. We will probably throw 20-30 times a game depending on how well we do with our running game; we will probably have to throw more against good teams like Notre Dame, Ohio State, etc. We are solid at these positions (Flanker and Wide Receiver). We have speed, quickness, deep threat, crossing, quick toss, solid blocking, etc.

TE-Unfortunately, we didn't show much here. Massaquoi only caught one pass; he, Mingery and Ecker logged most of the playing time and they blocked for the most part. In their defense, CMU had one solid safety hawking them all day long with Mr. James King. We will be hard pressed to get as much production as last year when Joppru made over 50 catches. It looks like Fisher didn't play at all except on special teams, and walk-ons played so overally we cannot say this is a solid position. Time will tell whether it is a weak position; it will be mostly a blocking position as is our fullback/h-back.

Offensive Line: We took no sacks; in fact, Navarre was hardly threatened (neither was Gutierrez). Pape and Baas are 1st team All-Big 10 and possible All-Americans. Stenavich and Lentz looked solid. Pearson didn't appear to make all of his blocks, and that could be a problem against the tough teams up the middle. When the second team came in, Solomon, Kolodziej, Henige, Christopfel and Morgan seemed to be a good group. Gaston did see some action at guard, too. We appear solid here at every position and as a group; however, injuries could be a factor here.

Kicking: Place-Kicking and Kickoffs-Nienberg consistenly drove the ball to the 5. This isn't reminiscent of the booming kickoffs of Hayden Epstein and Jay Feeley. We have stepped down here. One of three field goals isn't an impressive performance either. Hopefully, we'll improve here, but to say that we aren't concerned is an understatement. In order to win a national championship or big ten title, we must be able to count of our kicking game when a close game is "on the line."


Ends: I was very unimpressed and disappointed! Stevens play wasn't even mediocre; he only contributed on one tackle and didn't rush Perry at all. Massey was only in on one tackle as well. The starters didn't do much! Kashama looked much better than either starter, and did rush Perry consistently plus he had two tackles for loss. Van Alstyne also looked good in his appearances. Overall, we must get better here. We need to bring both Woodley and Crable in to rush the quarterbacks in passing situations along with Kashama. We must be more active here.

Tackles: I was very impressed with Gabe Watson; he really looked quick, mobile yet powerful. He also can't play every down. Bowman is intense and never gives up; he is much smaller than many offensive linemen and he'll be beat, but he'll recover to make a play. Heuer didn't look all that active. Harrison and Ofili did decent jobs when they got playing time. We definitely could use some recruiting help here, but until that happens we'll simply have to be satisfied with the coaching scheme. We've always played smaller guys here that for the most part are former linebackers converted. They'll be blocked initially, but spin and squirm to the ball. Our linebackers will have to fill to help our line recover from the initial push. I'm concerned at this positon, but not worried; I see Watson as receiving more and more playing time. Watson and Bowman had 3 tackles each while Heuer has only one tackle plus that stupid personal foul penalty.

Linebackers: I was very impressed with Diggs, McClintock and Manning. I would like to see these three as starters; however, Reid, Woods and Kaufman will all play and get better. We definitely will miss Hobson here especially against the big tight ends. I think we'll be fine here, and these three positions will be a strength on our defense. Harris and Joe Sarantos will also play in there; there is good competition and outstanding athleticism in all these players.

Corners: Curry and LeSueur look to be the "lock down" corners we've wanted. Hall and Hood are suspect as backups. If one of our starters do down with injury, we could be in trouble here. I wouldn't be surprised to see Mundy or Burgess see playing time here if that happens since we are so loaded at safety. We are strong at these positions, but depth is questionable.

Safeties: Marlin Jackson and Shaw look to be the starters for the remainder of the season with Barringer and Stewart as solid backups. Barringer can also play corner and enhance the "nickel" package; he looked pretty "banged up" with a wrapped thumb and now a leg injury. Apparently, neither will prevent him from playing. Mundy and Burgess will play on special teams until their time comes here; neither will redshirt. We are solid here with solid depth; they only need more experience. We are much better than one year ago with June and Drake! Shazor will also contribute when he get himself out of Carr's "doghouse."

Punting: Finley is doing a solid job! Coverage looks to be good with Hood, Shazor, Mundy, Burgess and others competing as "flyers."

Punt/Kickoff Returns: Breaston, Breaston, Breaston! He is all we've dreamed about; he is one awesome athlete! We are lucky to have him! He will help us win games, especially close games against good teams! He will help us with field position football. Somehow, we've got to convince Carr to use him rather than LeSueur on kickoffs, too.

Schedule/Results of First Week: It looks like our two toughest games will be Notre Dame and Ohio State. The Irish have an outstanding defense. If you look at their roster, they have an awful lot of talent including several players we recruited heavily. It won't be easy and certainly expect a "nailbiter." Ohio State was very impressive, and hopefully we'll improve enough to stop their streak at two. Michigan State was also impressive; the Bronco's Greg Jennings really looked good (we recruited him also). Certainly, USC looks to be somewhere in the top ten. Georgia is also still solid. Here are my tentative top teams for this year:

4-Ohio State
7-North Carolina State
8-Notre Dame
9-Florida State
11-Kansas State
12-Virginia Tech
22-Penn State

Big Ten
2-Ohio State
6-Penn State
8-Michigan State