Michigan football over-under: Can Roy Roundtree improve his reception numbers?
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He just didn't see the ball very much.
After breaking out for a 72-catch sophomore campaign in 2010, the 6-foot receiver saw his receptions tumble all the way down to 19 last season -- the single-worst year-to-year dip in program history.
A big part of Roundtree's drop had to do with coordinator Al Borges' new offense, and the fact senior Junior Hemingway earned the outside flanker position -- the top pass-catching spot in the scheme.
Playing in the slot for Rich Rodriguez's spread-option in 2010, Roundtree shared time with Jeremy Gallon at split end a year ago. In 2012, though, the senior-to-be -- who will wear Desmond Howard's No. 21 jersey -- will take over Hemingway's flanker position.
He's expected to see more passes, but how many more catches will he make?
Hemingway led the Wolverines with 34 a year ago -- can Roundtree match that?
Over/under: Roy Roundtree will make 34 catches in 2012
Kyle Meinke: Roundtree was Michigan's go-to receiver in 2010, when he manned the slot -- which put him in the middle of the action in Rodriguez's spread-option offense.
But in Borges' hybrid spread-West Coast system, the flanker spot became the go-to route -- and that spot went to Junior Hemingway, who flourished in the role. Roundtree, meantime, never seemed quite comfortable in his secondary role.
Now, Roundtree is sliding to flanker, where he'll be quarterback Denard Robinson's primary target more often. He's also entering his third year catching passes from Robinson, and that chemistry should help reinvigorate the passing game.
Roundtree could also fill Hemingway's role on jump balls, a play Borges has come to favor over the years. For all the credit Hemingway got on the deep balls, it's easy to forget Roundtree also can go up and get it.
Prediction: Borges has trumpeted Robinson's offseason growth, and said he expects overall numbers to rise in the passing game. Considering Roundtree will be manning the flanker spot, the most important route in Borges' scheme, it's easy to figure Roundtree will average at least 2.7 catches per game. If he does, he's over 34. And I'm buying it.
Nick Baumgardner: There's little doubt Roundtree will see more passes thrown his way this season. Hemingway's departure assures that.
However, it wasn't like Hemingway lit up the stat sheet with seven-catch games each week. He took advantage of virtually every pass that was thrown his way, and quite frankly, there really weren't too many.
Borges has said repeatedly he has no concerns about ball distribution. He's not interested in drawing up plays just to get one receiver more looks than another, and that won't change this season.
Moreover, Robinson threw 33 fewer completions under Borges in 2011 than he did for Rodriguez in 2010 -- that's at least one game's worth of production.
Add that with the emergence of Fitz Toussaint and the increased focus on the running game, and it might be a safe bet to believe Robinson's 19 pass attempts per game average will stay the same -- if not fall.
Prediction: Roundtree will lead a rather thin receiving group next season, but with Robinson at quarterback, Michigan isn't likely to put the ball in the air 25 times a game.
I'm not saying Roundtree can't have a fine season -- in fact, I'd expect him to have a very productive campaign. I just don't see Michigan passing all that much. And because of that, I'll go under.