RB Michael Hart (PHOTO CREDIT: Eric Bronson / Wolverine Photo)

2004 Statistics

Coach: Lloyd Carr
95-29, 10 years
2004 Record: 9-3
at Notre Dame LOST 20-28
IOWA WON 30-17
at Indiana WON 35-14
at Illinois WON 30-19
at Purdue WON 16-14
at Ohio State LOST 21-37
vs. Texas LOST 37-38

2004 Final Rankings
AP-14, Coaches-12, BCS-13

2005 Outlook

Let's just cut right to the chase; fans are beginning to grow impatient with losses in September. For a team that will be prepped as one of the top five nationally by many (including ourselves), non-conference losses just won't due for the Ann Arbor faithful or national title hopes. There isn't a single road game in these first three. But a thin defense looks vulnerable early, and how UM handles a resurgent Notre Dame will say much about how the stopping unit will perform, and therefore the entire team's direction for '05.

For the past 40 years, Michigan has arguably been the nation's most consistent program. The Wolverines, although rarely getting over the proverbial hump in terms of national supremacy, have been a staple in the nation's top ten teams since Schembechler took over in 1969. Fans in the capital genuinely expect such, and they won't be satisfied until they hit the top. Realization of yet another top five team has created as much pressure as ever, and, therefore, another 3-loss season likely won't sit well. Such pressures will adversely affect these 18-22 year olds. Being an underdog always bodes better to spawn the competitive fires - starting so near the top means there is only place to go. But that itself isn't always bad, for enduring an early loss to then win out gets you back to the top quicker than a week seven or week eight loss the same way. Michigan got help last year to win the Big Ten, and just ask Ohio State if playing Notre Dame helps luck rubs off onto them. Just when counted out, the Wolverines always seem to surprise, so we will cover our butts by stating this, thank you.

For a team with so much youth in its two-deep charts on defense, areas of turnover could actually spell improvement over 2004's (uncharacteristically) marginal areas of performance (33rd in total defense, 42nd in scoring defense, and 39th at run-stopping). Even in light of great (skill position) offensive talent, Michigan's entire campaign will lie on the backs of incoming freshman throughout. In a proverbial flip-flop of last season's storyline, the 2005 Wolverines will rely on offense to carry them through the first half of the season. Look for UM to drop to around No.15 before ascending again into the top ten. Once the youth is able to develop through experience, Michigan will progress into a dominant force come mid-October. OSU's Big House visit will decide the conference title, so follow the mystery of Michigan til then to see "who-done-it" in the end for the Maize-and Blue. Like last year, you'll be surprised, we promise.

Projected 2005 record: 9-2
QB - 3.5 DL - 4
RB - 4.5 LB - 3.5
WR - 4.5 DB - 3
OL - 5 ..

Passing: Chad Henne, 399-240-12, 2743 yds., 25 TD

Rushing: Michael Hart, 282 att., 1455 yds., 9 TD

Receiving: Jason Avant, 38 rec., 447 yds., 3 TD

Scoring: Garrett Rivas, 19-24 FG, 37-41 PAT, 94 pts.

Punting: None

Kicking: None

Tackles: LaMarr Woodley, 70 tot., 58 solo; Lawrence Reid, 70 tot.,53 solo

Sacks: Patrick Massey, 5 sacks

Interceptions: Scott McClintock, 2 for 24 yds.; Leon Hall, 2 for 0 yds.; Ryan Mundy, 2 for 38 yds

Kickoff Returns: Steve Breaston, 28 ret., 24.6 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Steve Breaston, 24 ret., 12.2 avg., 1 TD


DT Gabe Watson (PHOTO CREDIT: Amir Gamzu / Wolverine Photo)
OFFENSE: Kevin Dudley-FB, David Underwood-TB, Braylon Edwards-WR, David Baas-C, Clayton Richard-QB (baseball)
DEFENSE: Roy Manning-OLB, Marlin Jackson-CB, Markus Curry-CB, Adam Finley-P, Ernest Shazor-SS (NFL), Lawrence Reid-ILB (medical), Larry Harrison-DE (susp.)

It is safe to say that no one in Ann Arbor saw the impacting emergence of true freshman Chad Henne coming. After leading the Wolverines to a 9-3 record, and a second consecutive Big Ten title (by default, earning it only through other's losses), Henne has consequently placed himself in Michigan's infamous quarterback trap. The lack of depth behind the sophomore seems somewhat alarming, though. Whether or not redshirt junior Matt Gutierrez will be fully recovered from shoulder surgery is still an unknown, and redshirt sophomore Clayton Richard has already elected not to participate in spring practice(s). This means that another true freshman, Jason Forcier, would be thrust into a starting role should Henne go down early on. Forcier is a dual threat with a quick first three steps. Despite a year of wisdom and experience, don't expect Chad Henne's numbers to improve dramatically. Without the high-flying antics of Braylon Edwards, some of the off-target throws saved by '#1' will now likely become incompletions. Henne will remain a steady enough pocket sitter (132.56 passer rating), but his continued development is crucial for the team to take any next steps.

Running Back
As for the other UM true freshman 'coming-out' party, Michael Hart has placed himself amongst the nation's premier backs. The sophomore fits Michigan's offensive play-calling perfectly, an inside vision-skilled runner with a consistent ability to make plays in the passing game (26 catches). Expect Hart (NC.net third-team all-American) to be used more in this twin-role. Unfortunately, a crop of inexperienced talent lurks just behind Hart's 282 totes at tailback. The next closest ball carrier, sophomore Max Martin, had a mere 32 tries with the pigskin. Frosh blue-chipper Kevin Grady (Rivals.com ranked him 4th for all incoming RBs) is, too, expected to contribute. When indeed conjured, Grady's power running style and size will be used as a one-two punch with Michael Hart. Michigan's lone backfield loss, FB Kevin Dudley, may create a case of situational usage. Senior Brian Thompson is more of a traditional hard-nosed blocker, whereas redshirt freshman Roger Allison (4.54-40 speed) has been praised for bringing great athleticism to the spot. When Allison is in, look for him to get the rock early, which will keep LBs/blitzers honest. Expect more production from the position in 2005.

Despite the return of two-thirds of Michigan's "triple threat", the loss of Biletnikoff Award-winner Braylon Edwards could leave Michigan's WR struggling with an identity crisis. Now, with the apparent lack of a consistent deep threat, the Wolverines need a big play man to emerge. Jason Avant, now taking the place of Edwards, brings great hands to the table, but also lacks the breakaway speed needed for a dominant senior season. Redshirt junior Steve Breaston had previously been used for his YAC (yards after catch) capacity, but his role this season will likely be as that deeper threat. Breaston's lack of size, along with Avant's apparent lack of game speed, creates a need for a 'go to' receiver to emerge. The likely candidate to replace Edwards this way is sophomore Adrian Arrington. In spite of limited action, Arrington has all the physical skills necessary to take on a larger role in 2005. His optimal size and speed make him ideal for the flanker spot. Michigan has plenty of youthful talent, but a new "big man" becomes a definite necessity that could, if not found, affect the teams win total.

Tight End
Tim Massaquoi responded to Michigan's TE hiccups by placing himself as a unanimous first team all-Big Ten selection, albeit via hauling in just 18 catches. Massaquoi's WR background makes him a mismatch (for LBs and safeties) with tight end size and wideout speed. He and fellow tight end Tyler Ecker had a combined 35 catches last season, but we would expect that number to soar as Michigan adapts its ever-changing offensive philosophy to suit new personnel (especially at WR).

Offensive Line
The lack of continuity and an abundance of youth (especially on the offensive front) showed last campaign in the form of poor communication, missed assignments, and confusion during secondary/linebacker blitzes (see OSU game). The Wolverines allowed a marginal 29 sacks on the year, the most for a Michigan team since 2001, and paved the way for an un-glorified 3.8 YPC. Michigan still returns four of five big eaters up front. Seniors Adam Stenovich (LT) and Matt Lentz (G), both third-team all-Americans in our opinion, will ground this crew well. Transplant guard Leo Henige will battle with Mark Bihl for the crucial center position, a competition which bodes well (both men have starting experience and excellent footwork). Sophomore starting guard Jake Long has surpassed expectations - his continued development says much, too, about this line's status. Barring injuries, a year of experience, along with stellar backs, should lead this unit to its most productive effort in quite some time.

Even in light of losing two first team all-Americans on this side of the ball, Michigan has an abundance of skill position talent that shouldn't be doubted by foes. There aren't any major weaknesses at first glance, and playmakers dot the horizon in every unit. Expect the young duo of Chad Henne and Mike Hart to decimate defenses early and often with great balance. Be sure to watch out for how offensive coordinator Terry Malone utilizes his other backs and tight ends in a shorter passing game now without any home-run hitters (yet) at WR. Once such a methodical approach is in place, then look for Henne to establish the deep ball. If no deep threat emerges, the second half of the season could be that much tougher as the underneath routes are easily anticipated by foes. And even if this happens, the running game is strong and deep enough that UM's backs could carry them through such adversity and keep Ann Arbor a winning town.


OT Adam Stenavich (PHOTO CREDIT: Eric Bronson / Wolverine Photo)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Chad Henne-So (6-2, 225) Matt Gutierrez-Jr (6-4, 232)
FB Brian Thompson-Jr (6-2, 230) Obianna Oluigbo-Jr (6-0, 237)
Roger Allison-Fr (6-1, 233)
TB Michael Hart-So (5-9, 185) Max Martin-So (6-1, 215)
Kevin Grady-Fr (5-11, 228)
WR Steve Breaston-Jr (6-1, 179) Adrian Arrington-So (6-3, 184)
WR Jason Avant-Sr (6-1, 210) Carl Tabb-Jr (6-2, 192)
Doug Dutch-Fr (6-0, 190)
TE Tim Massaquoi-Sr (6-4, 248) Tyler Ecker-Jr (6-6, 247)
OT Adam Stenavich-Sr (6-5, 317) Mike Kolodziej-Jr (6-7, 328)
OG Adam Kraus-So (6-6, 311) Alex Mitchell-Fr (6-5, 319)
C Rueben Riley-Jr (6-3, 304) Adam Kraus-So (6-6, 311)
Mark Bihl-Jr (6-4, 297)
OG Matt Lentz-Sr (6-6, 305) Leo Henige-Sr (6-4, 339)
OT Jake Long-So (6-7, 338) Brett Gallimore-Fr (6-4, 302)
K Garrett Rivas-Jr (5-9, 216) Ross Ryan-Jr (6-0, 206) (KO)



Defensive Line
First-team all-Big Ten defensive tackle Gabe Watson, and senior Patrick Massey will anchor a razor-thin defensive front for the Wolverines. The sudden lack of depth, due to losses of starting DE Larry Harrison (legal) and second-string DT Alex Ofili (NFL Draft), has left the Wolverines scrounging for younger players willing to fill the void. Such a task will be likely left to outside "swing-players" Pierre Woods and LaMarr Woodley should UM go with a 4-3. But this may also constitute a stay of the 3-4. Both Woods and Woodley are listed at outside linebacker, but both had played defensive end early in their college careers. Look for both to be on the line, though often in menacing two-point stances. In a 3-4 base, the Wolverines will need to find a "tweener"-DE/DT who is large enough to play the strongside end spot. The vacated end spot should wind up in the hands of second-year man Alan Branch. Branch has shown great explosiveness off the ball in the strongside spot, and has occupied it well for noticeable stints. Development of incoming freshman talent is promising, and a few will emerge from spring ball to meaningfully impact any needs. The loss of line coach Bill Sheridan will only be a minor bump here.

News of starting MLB Lawrence Reid's career-ending nerve condition has left Michigan thin on starting talent here, too. The Wolverines, now without two starters from 2004, will make adjustments up front to compensate for a lack of starting experience. The starting talent is adequate, but not overly appealing. Should they elect to stick with a 3-4, capable linebackers at every position will be tough to find, and injuries would prove decimating. The Wolverines seem to have stocked up with a modest crop of quick linebackers in the past three recruiting classes. The spring developments of the incoming youth here will most determine the Wolverine's defensive scheme choice. Movement within the depth charts all throughout the front seven will tell all, so keep your eyes peeled here.

Defensive Back
After losing most of a shaky secondary, it seems as if the current backs could still be the weakest link of them all on this side of the ball. Michigan has just two corners with meaningful experience, and will be tested depth-wise against opposing three- and four-receiver sets. The Wolverines will rely on junior Leon Hall to blanket opposing studs. Hall's 12 career starts make him the most experienced in a thin defensive backfield. Opposite Hall will be fifth-year senior Grant Mason, who has just a single start in his career. Ryan Mundy is the free safety as of now, but five-star ILB-recruit Prescott Burgess came in as the nation's highest-rated safety and is a prime candidate to bolster underneath coverages.

With such an immense lack of depth up front, it seems inevitable that Michigan will elect to stay with the 3-4 base. This would keep the play in front of the newbies until they can match-up one-on-one and not get (the team) burned. Until such an aggressive effort is put forth, Michigan will continue to struggle on the defensive side of the ball. The Wolverines allowed 23.2 PPG, their highest tally since the 1962 campaign. The loss of two all-Americans in the secondary provides a basis for disaster. With so much youth in the defensive backfield, Michigan can no longer rely on secondary players to come up and make tackles in the box. Accordingly, the front seven has to stop most activity as it develops. In allowing 37 (to Ohio State) and 38 (to Texas) points in their last two outings, this crew has its work cut out just to prove to themselves they are still viable. The first few games will tell much about all of these character issues.


LB LaMarr Woodley (PHOTO CREDIT: Eric Bronson / Wolverine Photo)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Jeremy Van Alstyne-Jr (6-4, 262) Tim Jamison-Fr (6-3, 250)
DT Gabe Watson-Sr (6-4, 331) Alan Branch-So (6-6, 323)
DT Pat Massey-Sr (6-8, 284) Will Johnson-Fr (6-4, 287)
Marques Walton-Fr (6-0, 280)
DE LaMarr Woodley-Jr (6-2, 268) Pierre Woods-Sr (6-5, 247)
SLB Prescott Burgess-Jr (6-3, 236) Shawn Crable-So (6-5, 247)
MLB David Harris-Jr (6-2, 246) John Thompson-Fr (6-0, 229)
WLB Chris Graham-So (5-11, 225) Scott McClintock-Sr (6-2, 246)
CB Grant Mason-Sr (6-0, 196) Morgan Trent-Fr (6-0, 185)
Darnell Hood-Jr (5-11, 190)
CB Leon Hall-Jr (5-11, 191) Charles Stewart-Fr (6-1, 194)
SS Brandent Englemon-So (5-11, 199) Jamar Adams-So (6-2, 207)
FS Ryan Mundy-Jr (6-1, 204) Willis Barringer-Jr (6-0, 202)
P Zoltan Mesko-Fr (6-4, 225) Garrett Rivas-Jr (5-9, 216)
Mark Spencer-Sr (6-0, 223)




Placekicker Garrett Rivas, who has often been criticized for a lack of leg strength, has yet to handle the kickoff duties as a Wolverine, despite going 19-of-24 in FGs. Our early guess is that the aforementioned Mesko could step in and contribute as a kickoff specialist as well.

The Wolverines now look towards incoming freshman sensation Zoltan Mesko out of Twinsburg, Ohio. Mesko, rated the second highest kicker (Rivals.com) of his recruiting class, is expected to take over the punting duties at Michigan from day one. The Wolverines' net punting ranked 77th, but youth in the defensive units means this should improve as they compete for playing time through coverage of both types of kicks.

Return Game
Receiver Steve Breaston stuffed out any rumblings in this unit with a Rose Bowl record-setting 221 return yards (on six touches). Breaston, who also has three punt return TDs in his Michigan career, will handle well both return roles.


The job is still Henne's to lose. His legs have gotten stronger and he still throws a dart. Matt Gutierrez is coming back from a severe shoulder injury and subsequent surgery, and he will not be back to 100% until fall, but the redshirt junior's arm has shown remarkable recovery in limited play under the spring "no hit the QB rule". He is considered way ahead of rehab schedule. Gutierrez is by far a better leader and has an unmatched knowledge of the system. The concern at this position is a severe lack of depth. Clayton Richard will forego the rest of his college career to play professional baseball, which now forces incoming freshman Jason Forcier into a "get ready" situation.

Michigan could be using a form of the "Triple Crown" this fall as three RBs are likely to see a good deal of carries. Mike Hart is still No. 1 and has become an even better pass receiver this spring, and he is still the better of the three at finding the hole. His receiving dimension will make him that much more of a weapon. Max Martin is the fastest, and he had a great April. The best news is that Martin did not fumble the ball the last three weeks of spring practice, a problem that has kept him off the field in the past. The third back, freshman Kevin Grady, has been labeled a bowling ball because taking him to the turf has proven difficult.

This was one of the biggest question marks coming out of spring. Many feel Roger Allison is/was the first option. But there is a good chance he will miss the season due to a nerve condition he suffered via a neck injury last fall; it's a tough blow if this is the case, given the praise he has received since coming to Ann Arbor. He can run, block and catch, and he would see solid playing time if he becomes available. Brian Thompson is the next option and has proven ability as a receiver, but he also sat out spring while walking on crutches. Thompson should be able to resume practice before August arrives. With the injuries, Obi Oluigbo stepped up but has some ways to go before being counted on as a starter. Another option was attempted with Mike Massey (Pat's younger brother) playing the FB role. Using tight ends as fullback hybrids is not something new to this coaching staff, and is a proven, viable option. Massey apparently has great hands and could play a role.

Redshirt freshman Doug Dutch can fly and has lost a bit of weight. His speed makes things happen. Look for Dutch to see quality time as he stretches the field. Adrian Arrington was limited much of spring with a hamstring injury and is another quality recruit coaches are counting on to provide depth. Morgan Trent has moved to the secondary, but did see some action at WR in some two-minute drills.

Injuries haunted this unit all spring and made it impossible to secure players in an exact location. It also made it difficult to run plays against the experienced Michigan defensive line. The good news is that all players are expected back in time for fall. Guys were forced into double-time (at multiple OL positions). At center, Rueben Riley looks to be the starter after moving over from guard, but was unable to go 100 percent this spring, which did not allow coaches to secure this spot. Adam Kraus, who sat out spring with a shoulder injury, is the likely backup. Mark Bihl and (top newcomer) Alex Mitchell will battle into the fall for depth at center, too. Alex Mitchell can play any of the three inside positions and will surely contribute. He was the most impressive of the younger linemen, having dropped a good deal of weight. Bihl lined up anywhere from center to left tackle but needs a big summer in the strength department to regain playing time. Adam Stenavich shifted from left to right tackle at times since RT Jake Long also sat out spring with a shoulder injury. When all return, it will just be a matter of finding the right combination - then things will gel.

This is the deepest group in years. Gabe Watson has the potential to be the most dominant defensive linemen to ever play at Michigan, despite the fact he entered spring overweight and out of shape (to the dismay of coaches). He still needs to work hard to become an every down guy. Despite his condition, he dominated during spring ball. New defensive line coach Steve Stripling has been a major asset according to head coach Carr, and he has/will continue(d) to work hard at increasing last season's poor sack total. In short, Pat Massey had and unbelievable spring. When Jeremy Van Alstyne comes back, this group will be extremely deep. Did we mention that already? LB Shawn Crable has been seen taking snaps at DE, a position currently held by a disappointing Pierre Woods, (coaches had hoped would elevate his game). The move opens up questions in terms of Woods anticipated production, which really fell off in '04. He has potential but seems content to rest on his 2003 accomplishments. LaMarr Woodley and Tim Jamison could do a position switch in uncertain terms - their moves from OLB to playing with their hands down most of spring were warranted. (See more below on the 3-4 defense).

Receiving the most praise this spring were WLB Chris Graham and MLB David Harris. Graham is much bigger and stronger. His play so far has received rave reviews from coaches and players. Harris was set to become a sure starting MLB two years ago (before he blew out his knee), and he now appears to be strong. He would likely be the starter if the season began today, which would demonstrate how far he has come since the injury. He is primed for a breakout season. Veteran Scott McClintock has been banged up but can/will contribute time in either the middle or on the weakside as needed. Shawn Crable and his explosive speed will be used in many ways it appears, in an effort to take advantage of his athleticism. In addition to playing SLB, he also lined up at DE as already mentioned to help the pass rush. Another young LB who is expected to contribute this fall is Prescott Burgess. Depending on the alignment, any of these players could be used as the starting three.

To quote Lloyd Carr, "Leon Hall has a chance to be one of the better cornerbacks we've ever had here." This is quite a statement to be compared with the likes of Ty Law and Charles Woodson. Marlin Jackson's departure will not be so missed. Hall has been a leader on the field, too. He has struggled at times trying to cover Steve Breaston, but that is quite common for most corners. Work against Breaston will only make him better. Grant Mason holds down the other side, and he has both the tools and the swagger needed for success. Can he do it on every snap is the question. Charles Stewart, Darnell Hood, and at least one of the freshman will likely battle for time, as well. There hasn't been much talk of Hood this spring, and reviews on Stewart are mixed. The big move was WR Morgan Trent to CB in an effort to secure a deeper secondary. It's just a matter of time before the knowledgeable Trent is a significant contributor. He is the most physically gifted of all the corners.

By far, safety is the biggest question mark on defense with all of the departures. The spring surprise here was that Brandent Englemon was running primarily with the first team instead of Jamar Adams. No matter what, Adams will play regardless of who is named first team. Competition here will continue into the fall. Englemon appears to have picked up the system more quickly after having learned much while redshirting in '03. Luckily, Ryan Mundy has really shown up this spring at free safety. Other possibilities include Willis Barringer or Anton Campbell stepping in at either strong or free safety, and providing much needed depth.

Look for Ross Ryan to handle kickoff duties, although Garrett Rivas has continued to improve this spring. True freshman Zoltan Mesko is expected to take over as starting punter after raising eyebrows with his booming kicks in the U.S. Army all-American Bowl this past January. Mesko is reported to have a cannon for a leg, but he needs some work with consistency. He better come in ready, and that's simply due to the fact that Michigan has nobody else. Last year's backups to Adam Finley were two walk-ons and both struggled. If Mesko cannot assume the duties, Garrett Rivas will likely serve double- time as a punter/kicker. Mesko will also compete for kickoff duties.

Michigan fought through the injury bug this spring. Optimism abounds, though, in that everyone should be ready to go, with the exception of FB Roger Allison, who is a question mark with his nerve condition. Offensive lineman Leo Henige is still not where he needs to be. Brian Thompson, Reuben Riley Jake Long, Adam Kraus and Jeremy Van Alstyne are all expected back in full health.

The spring showed that coaches are going to utilize both a 3-4 and a 4-3 alignment on defense depending on the situation. The staff likes the flexibility which allows them to get the best 11 players on the field depending on down and distance. Four guys are capable of playing in either a two- or three-point stance, especially after spending a good deal of time practicing in the 3-4 for over a year now. If successful, this could create some confusing situations for opponents' assignments. Look for the four-man front to take priority, seeing how QB pressure will be the key given their lack of any surge this way last fall, and the fact the secondary is not as experienced. For certain, fans will see some of the 3-4, too.