Michigan football team's offense has room to grow in 2010
Michigan made gigantic strides from year 1 to year 2 running Rich Rodriguez’s spread offense. Offensive coordinator Calvin Magee said he expects another noticeable jump this fall.
“I hope so,” Magee said Thursday. “You can start to see that.”
The lowest-scoring team in the Big Ten in 2008 (20.2 points per game), Michigan was one of the highest last year (29.5 ppg).
The transformation was due largely to better play at quarterback. Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson took every meaningful snap last year as true freshmen. While their youth showed at times, there’s no denying they were better fits for the system than ’08 signal callers Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan.
Magee said quarterbacks normally make strides their second year in a system, and Forcier and Robinson don't appear to be exceptions two-thirds of the way through spring practice.
The Wolverines held their 10th of 15 spring workouts Thursday.
“I think having a year under your belt with both of them helps,” Magee said. “And we want them to be able to run the entire offense, which is the direction we’re going. And that doesn’t take a whole lot. We had a lot of it in last year, so to get more repetitions added, it’s going to really help them in their decision making.”
Robinson was limited in the playbook last fall, partly because he wasn’t on campus for spring practice. An erratic passer, he rarely was called upon to run option plays that required him to decide whether to keep the ball or hand off at the line of scrimmage.
Forcier started every game and had much more of the offense at his disposal, but Magee said he still “played like a freshman that had a lot of different stuff thrown at him every week.”
“I thought he played competitive, so that was the good,” Magee said. “But now he gets time to settle down and really understand more structure of the offense. That’s what he’s doing in spring, which is a lot better. But he played like a freshman.”
Rodriguez declared the starting quarterback job up for grabs earlier this week, and Magee said Robinson and Forcier are pushing each other in practice. For now, the two are splitting No. 1 quarterback reps.
"The competition at all the positions is heating up, it really is," Magee said. "Next five practices it’s going to be fun to watch who kind of keeps emerging, and that’s across the board at all positions."
â€¢ Brandon Graham held a private workout for NFL scouts Thursday after he injured a hamstring at the NFL combine and sat out Michigan’s pro day. Donovan Warren also planned to take part in the workout. The Falcons and Jaguars were among the teams who sent representatives to Ann Arbor.
â€¢ Magee said “very few” NFL guys have inquired about Michigan’s offensive draft prospects including Brandon Minor, Carlos Brown and Mark Ortmann.
â€¢ Running backs coach Fred Jackson broke his right foot in practice and is wearing a protective boot.
Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.