WR/PR/KR Steve Breaston

2005 Statistics

Coach: Lloyd Carr
102-34, 11 years
2005 Record: 7-5
at Wisconsin LOST 20-23
at Michigan State WON 34-31 (OT)
at Iowa WON 23-20 (OT)
at Northwestern WON 33-17
vs. Nebraska LOST 28-32

2005 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-20

2006 Outlook

Ann Arbor is still stinging with the effects of a rare five loss season. Not since 1984 (went 6-6) had they lost so many. Although all signs point to a significant improvement, Michigan fans know all too well that a season's fortune may turn on a few bad breaks. So much was the fact that UM lost five games by a combined total of 20 points a season ago. A simple lack of fundamentals created coaching controversy throughout the capital, and when the dust settled, the Wolverines had new coordinators on both offense and defense, as well as two new defensive coaches for the back seven.

The assumed abundance of talent, along with the new coaching changes, has Michigan filled with high expectations. The in-conference challenges on the schedule are nothing that the Wolverines aren't used to in an annual Big Ten slate, but the non-cons (save Notre Dame) aren’t going to help the ole SOS, either. All signs point to South Bend being the big determinate showdown as to whether or not Michigan can rebound and compete for the biggest prize. Whispers of Michigan no longer belonging amongst the national elite have fueled the need, even more so, for a big 2006. And, if history has anything to say, expect bigger things from this pack.

This season shows us a team with an apparent lack of depth in key areas, another loaded Big Ten schedule, and new coordinators/schemes on both sides of the ball. Now's the time where we say that they're in for some rough waters, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make it through those and be that competitive Michigan team we are used to by the second half of the campaign. It's all going to be about weathering the storm early and proving they have the basics needed to finish strong. There will be an answer to all the questions on September 16th. A win at Notre Dame could propel this team to a BCS game, while a loss there could mean yet another trip to the drawing board...yes, they're that marginal, jut remember all those times counting UM out in the past has been a mistake.

Projected 2006 record: 9-3
QB - 4 DL - 3
RB - 4 LB - 4.5
WR - 4.5 DB - 4
OL - 3.5 ..

Passing: Chad Henne, 382-223-8, 2526 yds., 23 TD

Rushing: Michael Hart, 150 att., 662 yds., 4 TD

Receiving: Mario Manningham, 27 rec., 433 yds., 6 TD

Scoring: Garrett Rivas, 19-26 FG, 33-35 PAT, 90 pts.

Punting: Ross Ryan, 52 punts, 38.3 avg.

Kicking: Garrett Rivas, 19-26 FG, 33-35 PAT, 90 pts.

Tackles: David Harris, 88 tot., 52 pts.

Sacks: LaMarr Woodley, 7 sacks

Interceptions: Leon Hall, 4 for 10 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Steve Breaston, 23 ret., 28.1 avg., 1 TD

Punt Returns: Steve Breaston, 29 ret., 12.3 avg., 0 TD


LB LaMarr Woodley (PHOTO CREDIT: Eric Bronson / Wolverine Photo)
OFFENSE: Jason Avant-WR, Tim Massaquoi-TE, Adam Stenavich-OT, Leo Henige-OG, Matt Lentz-OG, Max Martin-TB (transferred), Matt Gutierrez-QB (transferred)
DEFENSE: Gabe Watson-NT, Pat Massey-DT, Pierre Woods-RLB, Grant Mason-CB

In many ways, Wolverine fans felt Chad Henne had regressed into an infamous “sophomore slump” in 2005. And, while it is true that Henne's play of '04 was exceptional for that of a true freshman, much scrutiny always seems to fall upon Michigan quarterbacks, and Henne is no different. So, was it really a bad year? No, as 23 TDs and only eight INTs reveal (actually down from 12). OK, so his completion percentage fell two points…but we feel none of this represents any drop off, it just shows that he didn’t improve much. Offensive losses and injuries took Henne out of his comfort zone early, and following a 3-2 start, the Michigan offense never got into its usual groove. Higher expectations on the position this time will most certainly be bolstered by the loss of backup Matt Gutierrez (transfer to Idaho State), and Henne will again find himself squarely under the microscope. Even so, there's no reason to think a more battle-tested Henne cannot surpass his freshman campaign numbers. Red zone decision-making will need to be a much larger piece of that puzzle, though, as the Wolverines struggled to get the job done inside the 20 in ‘05. The closest backup, Jason Forcier, has never taken a snap, so the Wolverines will struggle to find other options should Chad Henne falter.

Running Back
The great stable of backs here should provide a strong building block for incoming offensive coordinator Mike DeBord. Michigan has really never lacked at tailback, but 2006 provides an opportunity for three capable starters, should they each stay healthy, to contribute in a myriad of ways. Michigan's offensive success will rely heavily on the contributions of its backs in the passing game, as well as on the ground. A change of pace, as it has been in past, will again be invaluable. This is where the Wolverines hope both Kevin Grady and Michael Hart will be able to shine. Hart's numbers need to improve if he is to re-establish himself amongst college football's elite. Five-star recruit Grady, on the other hand, will be under pressure to prove whether or not he can deliver his punch more consistently. The off-balance blast of Hart's quickness to Grady's brute strength should become a force. The loss of 3rd-stringer Max Martin (transfer to Alabama) will leave senior Jerome Jackson eager to contribute. The depth here is promising, as is the level of proven talent. The only question that remains is whether or not consistency can be established on the ground. Only then will this offense (and the team) make the next step.

The departure of Jason Avant should cause some concern. Although loads of talent exist here, most of it remains unproven in terms of consistency, as no receiver in this unit has ever hauled in a 40-catch season. Steve Breaston has scored a touchdown in four different ways throughout his college career, and will provide leadership for some of these younger receivers. Adrian Arrington is expected to contribute heavily after missing most of the 2005 campaign with injury. Arrington has the size many UM WRs boast (6’3), and should provide a great spark in the red zone. Aside from Arrington, the Wolverines pack tons of speed in this receiving corps; senior Carl Tabb, and youngsters Antonio Bass and Mario Manningham can all flat-out fly. They'll provide a stronger deep threat after working with Henne for a year. Manningham shone as a true frosh (second on the team in catches), a role Greg Mathews adopts and hopefully repeats. Expectations for this group are extremely high in Wolverine Country, and will come to fruition only with the emergence of a consistent wide receiver.

Tight End
On all known accounts, tight end will become a make or break position for the Wolverines. Offensive coordinator Mike DeBord is known for his modest utilization of the tight end in a short passing game and out in space to create mismatches. The Wolverines will need some bigger plays, as a minuscule total of four touchdowns at the position simply won't force mismatches and therefore allow other areas of the offense to open up. Tyler Ecker is a prototypically-sized Michigan tight end, and a known blocking commodity. His counterpart, junior Mike Massey, brings a more athletic flare to the spot. In limited action last season, Massey hauled in a pair of touchdowns and showed great promise as possibly the next “can't miss” UM tight end. The amount of catches here needs to total above 40 (last year’s mark). Watch to see how this group is used early, as they should provide a strong benchmark for where the offensive progress will be headed.

Offensive Line
By many historical accounts, the Wolverine offensive line couldn't have gotten any worse. An abysmal average rush of 3.9 yards should hint to the amount of work that needs to be done here. Injuries swamped the unit, creating so many swaps up front that, by season's end, the Wolverines had used eight different linemen in meaningful game situations. Rotations are good; uncertainty, though, is bad. Losses at left tackle and at left guard provide cause for concern on Henne’s blind side. On the right side, we find a crapshoot for the starting position inside. Rueben Riley, Mark Bihl, and Adam Kraus all have starting experience, and will be competing for spots all the way til fall practice. The three are relatively interchangeable, so it’s highly probable that we'll see a shuffling of lineups at the beginning of things. Riley has also been known to play out at tackle on occasions, but his shorter stature makes him ideal for middle-line play. The positions there are completely up for grabs, so any type of chemistry will be difficult early. Depth here will be at more of a premium than before, so any significant injuries could again prove devastating. With five four-star (or better) recruits in the past two classes, this area could be relying on underclassmen sooner than it wants/thinks.

For an offense that struggled to score in big games, and averaged 28.8 PPG, there's always room for improvement. UM scored nearly twice as many in the first halves of their ’05 tilts than they did in second halves (117-119), so consistency within their effort(s) has to be found. The fate of the offense will depend on getting the tight ends and running backs into a short passing game early on, but will also rely upon Henne going deep to keep this underneath stuff viable. Simply put, Michigan must stick to the basics – run the ball, take advantage of mismatches, and take care of the football. It all sounds feasible for this much talent, but it's the lack of these items that put ’05 in peril. We look for UM to grind it early and often, making defenses commit extra hats in the box so the passing can open up. If new deep targets aren’t found sooner than later, it will be another season of wins that never reach double digits. Proven commodities at the skill positions will make transitions along the offensive front easier, but the numbers here must improve if the Wolverines are going to return to Big Ten contention.


TE Tyler Ecker


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Chad Henne-Jr (6-2, 223) Jason Forcier-Fr (6-2, 206)
FB Obianna Oluigbo-Sr (6-0, 234) Will Paul-Jr (6-3, 252)
TB Michael Hart-Jr (5-9, 198) Kevin Grady-So (5-9, 216)
WR Steve Breaston-Sr (6-1, 182) Doug Dutch-So (5-11, 191)
WR Mario Manningham-So (6-0, 187) Adrian Arrington-Jr (6-3, 187)
Carl Tabb-Sr (6-2, 204)
TE Tyler Ecker-Sr (6-6, 247) Michael Massey-So (6-4, 234)
OT Jake Long-Jr (6-7, 316) Mike Kolodziej-Sr (6-7, 307)
OG Adam Kraus-Jr (6-6, 295) Justin Boren-Fr (6-4, 308)
C Mark Bihl-Sr (6-5, 297) David Moosman-So (6-5, 275)
OG Alex Mitchell-So (6-5, 311) Jeremy Ciulla-So (6-4, 292)
OT Rueben Riley-Sr (6-4, 303) Mark Ortmann-So (6-6, 299)
K Garrett Rivas-Sr (5-9, 217) Ross Ryan-Sr (6-1, 205)



Defensive Line
Despite losing all-everything Gabe Watson, the Wolverines have great promise here. The decision of LaMarr Woodley to return for his fourth year provides some leadership, while Alan Branch's Alamo Bowl performance (3 sacks) shows that Watson's departure can be offset. This unit should prove to be even more athletic than a year ago. If newly anointed defensive coordinator Ron English (was DB coach) allows this unit to get after quarterbacks, it will allow their superior DBs to make plays. The pass rush provided only 24 sacks, a number that should significantly improve as speedy tweeners Tim Jamison and Shawn Crable see more time at the ends. Depth, again, will become the make-or-break point of this unit. But enough (inside) talent has influxed in the past few classes such that new names will emerge soon to replace Watson and Massey. As long as we continue to see a healthy Woodley, Michigan should be in for a very solid effort on the defensive front.

All three starters return from a unit that drastically underachieved a year ago. Aside from David Harris on the outside, this unit could be in need of a crash course on tackling. In light of all their recent blunders, these linebackers have great athleticism, and should show drastic improvement as things progress. Harris is the grounding force here, leading the way with his great instincts and closing speed. Senior speedster Prescott Burgess, a converted DB, is under extreme scrutiny following a rollercoaster performance. Burgess makes solid plays, but then lets one get away from him a snap later. Chris Graham is imminent on breaking out and using his superior athleticism to the Wolverine’s advantage. Exceptional backup Shawn Crable should again make the most of his opportunities. So the talent is there, along with several recruits who will push for time. The biggest question mark is how the unit will be able to adapt in a new defensive scheme. Incoming linebacker coach Steve Szabo can instill in them some basics that have been lacking and such will provide the difference for the entire Michigan defense this time.

Defensive Back
This is the one area where the Wolverines will enjoy an abundance of depth. Michigan is returning five players with starting experience here, as lockdown corner Leon Hall leads the veteran crew into a campaign of high expectations. The only loss in the back seven is that of CB Grant Mason, but the Wolverines are expecting sophomore speedster Morgan Trent, who was given significant game-time in ‘05, to hold down the field opposite Hall. Should FS Ryan Mundy return from a neck injury, he'll be one of three returning Wolverine players to have started at the free safety spot (last fall). Safety play has been, for the most part, exceptional, so expect more of the same. Brandon Harrison, who started at safety as a true freshman in 2005, will no longer have to fly by the seat of his pants, and should flourish in the D’s more aggressive approach. This unit is primed for a breakout year, something we haven't seen from a Michigan secondary as of late (42nd-ranked last year, 43rd in ’04). Even if they're unable to get much help from the pass rush, this unit should still hold its own. With a pass rush, they will suffocate their part of the field weekly.

On paper, this unit should hold up much better than it did the past two seasons. Fourth quarter breakdowns have been based on a lack of fundamentals, and a loose gameplan that allowed opponents to pick the Wolverines apart once UM’s schemes were deciphered. Enter a new coordinator, Ron English (DBs coach) to replace Jim Herrmann (who also handled LBs), and, with so many problems in 2005’s corps, you can see the multiple holes patched with this one move. Athletically, this side of the ball features great promise, and must deal with the usual high level of expectation in the preseason. Coaching changes throughout the defensive side of the ball should indicate that we'll see a more aggressive style from Michigan, which could lead to some big plays for opponents. But with a strong back seven, risks up front should be minimized. In a conference where stopping the run is the prime consideration, Michigan will need to deal with a front line that is slightly undersized. But the group will be staunch enough to make the entire unit bind. It will be up to these linebackers to avoid missing the simple tackles. The talent in their LB corps is there, it just has to manifest itself into good, solid football. If the Wolverines can just get back to the basics, this unit will have a huge year and control opponents (like the Maize-and-Blue faithful are accustomed).


DB Leon Hall


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Tim Jamison-So (6-3, 249) Rondell Biggs-Sr (6-3, 275)
DT Terrance Taylor-So Marques Walton-So
DT Alan Branch-Jr Will Johnson-So
DE LaMarr Woodley-Sr (6-2, 268) Jeremy Van Alstyne-Sr (6-4, 267)
LB Prescott Burgess-Sr (6-3, 246) Shawn Crable-Jr (6-5, 245)
LB Christopher Graham-So (5-11, 225) Brandon Logan-So (6-0, 218)
LB David Harris-Sr (6-2, 242) John Thompson-So (6-1, 231)
CB Leon Hall-Sr (5-11, 193) Morgan Trent-So (6-1, 192)
CB Charles Stewart-So (6-1, 196) Johnny Sears-Fr (6-0, 189)
SS Willis Barringer-Sr (6-0, 205) Brandon Harrison-So (5-8, 205)
Ryan Mundy-Jr (6-1, 204)
FS Jamar Adams-Jr (6-2, 215) Brandent Englemon-So (5-11, 202)
P Ross Ryan-Sr (6-1, 205) Zoltan Mesko-Fr (6-4, 227)




Senior Garrett Rivas has had an excellent career as a three-year kicker for Michigan, connecting on 75%+ for his 54 career attempts. He'll handle the PK duties for Michigan, and will have an opportunity to compete for the open kickoff slot. Departed senior Ross Ryan has likely left the kickoff duties to Zoltan Mesko, although both Rivas and punter Mark Spencer will battle here as well.

Redshirt freshman Zoltan Mesko has a huge leg, and will likely handle the duties here. Mesko was praised for his kicking the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and averaged just under 44 yards-per as a prep senior. It will be up to him to give Michigan's exceptional coverage teams a chance, as they held opposing returners to just five yards-per-return in 2005.

Return Game
When healthy, senior Steve Breaston has shattered opponent's hearts on both kickoff and punt returns. He has scored on four separate occasions (three via punt, one kickoff) and holds the Michigan record for best single season punt return average. Wide receivers Carl Tabb and Antonio Bass are the likely candidates to return kickoffs as well.