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Posted on Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Michigan football over-under: Can the Wolverines' offense maintain its production?

By Kyle Meinke


Can Denard Robinson and the Michigan offense match its 2011 production this season?

Melanie Maxwell |

It's July, otherwise known as college football's silly season. It's a beautiful time when a recruit -- who has yet to begin his senior year of high school -- impersonating a college coach qualifies as breaking news.

So in the absence of real, you know, news, reporter Nick Baumgardner and I have decided to go at it in a series of over-unders concerning next year's Michigan football team.

First up is the offense, and whether it can match last year's output of 33.3 points per game while facing a more difficult schedule -- and doing so without All-American center David Molk.

Over/under: Michigan will average 33 points per game

Kyle Meinke: Michigan entered last season without former coach Rich Rodriguez, and the operating thought was the Wolverines would take one step back on offense and two steps forward on defense. That proved to be only half right.


Al Borges' quarterbacks typically take a big step forward in year two. But the schedule is tougher, and the offensive line has holes.

Melanie Maxwell |

The Wolverines actually increased their scoring by 0.5 points per game under first-year coach Brady Hoke and offensive coordinator Al Borges, despite switching offensive schemes and terminologies. But that transition was hard on their most important player, quarterback Denard Robinson, who fell into bad habits in the passing game.

His struggles, though, were to be expected. Quarterbacks have a history of struggling in their first year under Borges -- and then excelling their second years. A similar growth can be expected next year from Robinson, who does not have to be outstanding in the passing game, just consistent. He was one of the most productive players in the country last year, despite throwing a Big Ten-worst 15 interceptions.

Prediction: If the Wolverines can maintain production in the first year of Borges' scheme, how much better can they be when players actually have a handle on their assignments? As mistakes drop, scoring will rise. Take the over.


Nick Baumgardner: While I can't deny that Michigan returns its two most potent point producers in Robinson and Fitz Toussaint, I can counter with two major issues.

The schedule's a lot (a lot, a lot) harder, and the offensive line is a continual work in progress.

Michigan opens the season against Alabama, a far cry from last year's season-opening opponent in Western Michigan. The Crimson Tide replace a ton, but hey, we all know Nick Saban grows titanic speed-crazed defenders on trees down there.

The Wolverines play three teams (Alabama, Michigan State and Illinois) that all finished in the top 10 in total defense last season. Also, Robinson will have to play six games away from home this year. Last year, in four road games (bowl not included), he threw six interceptions, barely completed 50 percent of his passes and left each contest due to injury.

Additionally, Michigan replaces Rimington winner David Molk with unproven center Ricky Barnum, loses venerable tackle Mark Huyge and might have to eventually start a true freshman (Kyle Kalis?) up front -- which is never ideal.

Prediction: I'm not saying Michigan's offense will be a dumpster fire. But in this bet, I'm going with the under.

Thursday: Can Michigan's defense match last year's overachieving unit, or is a slip inevitable?



Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 4:54 p.m.

Realistically, I think we do score less per game from an offensive standpoint, and it'll probably be a function of us playing tougher teams but also I'd expect us to run the ball a little better than last year which will help us control the clock more. I do think though that w/ greater development of the defense/special teams we'll be able to get some points there which will really contribute to the total over/under number and I think we'll be over last year's number overall.


Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 12:47 p.m.

Denard won't be afraid to run- like in the State and Iowa games. That alone might make the total offense stats better than last year. Run Denard run. When teams stack the line- like Virginia tech did- will Denard be able to find an open receiver? Will Barnum be able to deliver? I hope so.


Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 2:07 a.m.

I'm a little perturbed that there is so much reporting on Michigan's offense when we all know that it is defense that wins ballgames. I would rather see a headline about a break neck defense. A great defense is exciting to watch too. If you have a great defense your offense can be less than stellar and you can still win when your defense gives you good field position.


Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 12:25 a.m.

Kyle and Nick, great article I look forward to the rest of the series. As stated in a recent post. every time I see pre-season predictions I remind myself that in 96-97 we were ranked pre-season #14 and I "saw" (ha ha) at least 4 losses. Pre-season predictions (guesses) are lots of fun but worthless. Go Blue.


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 8:29 p.m.

I too, Terry Star21, see in my crystal football that M's offense will be potent but with a big variation in offensive scheme. They don't have the deep threat WR, the OL to sustain long blocking routes, or a proven TE. But what they do have is (2) 1000 yard rushers in the backfield, a good WB in Smith, a good SR in Gallon, a good all-purpose R in Roundtree, a good utility R in Dileo and a host of back-up RBs. Michigan's offense must be more of a threat this year to compete with their schedule, 'cause the defense alone will not be able to carry this schedule, nor will last year's offensive scheme.

Terry Star21

Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 6:08 p.m.

I believe this offense will be as potent, if not better than in the past. Yes, even this year I see some slight variation in the offensive scheme - but for the better. I believe now in our coaches second year there will be some tricks and some surprising plays and finishes. It's still Michigan, and they will always find a way to end a series celebrating in the end zone. I'm always interested, and will wait for our buddy Theo's opinion. offense sending fear to others.


Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 7:01 p.m.

dairy6. . . almost spot on. . . except you forgot childish and immature! GO BLUE!!!


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

sec fan. so lame. so pathetic. keep on trollin friend.


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 6:53 p.m.

"even this year I see some slight variation in the offensive scheme"... Really. How interesting. You "see" this? are you a coach? Do you attend the practices? What "variation", exactly, are you "seeing"? MgoBlue. Home to the "largest financial scandal in the HISTORY of college sports".


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 6:45 p.m.

Terry, Terry, Terry An unproven o-line, tiny little unproven receivers. Who's ging to bail out Denard this year? He lead the league last year with 15 interceptions. He should have had atleast 20. I'll take the under.


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 5:11 p.m.

The top photo caption should read: REEEALLY Coach, you expect me ( #23 ) to catch this guy from behind. If AB run last year's impromptu offense - I'll take under and a 7-5 or 8-4 season. If AB create a ball control, run oriented offense to utilize his key skilled players - I'll take over and a 11-2 or better season.


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

I remember when there was just "no news" in the summer... I don't know if it's better now or not, but I still check in here every day to see what you guys can come up with. Thanks for trying!


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 5:01 p.m.

How about all these watch list articles? Gotta love it. Should keep you busy. To those, I have not commented. I'll wait until about week 5 of the season.

Nick Baumgardner

Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 4:10 p.m.

And thank you for reading, Record. We'll both keep on trying! Nick


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

While I can't see us going undefeated, it seems based on personnel, coaching, etc., we have a decent chance of winning at least 10 games this year. Regardless of the question marks on the defensive and offensive lines, we should have a decent chance of winning EVERY game we play. I'm not conceding anything to Alabama or any other team for that matter. Alabama has question marks of its own and merely having the name, "Alabama" isn't going to win games for them. Michigan haters love pointing this very fact out to Michigan fans who seem to think the block M is some sort of magical charm. Looking at the personnel of both teams and factoring in the experience of our returners versus the uncertainty of many of the new (but extremely talented) starters for Bama, the Michigan/Bama matchup is pretty much even.


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

Even? Not to anyone outside of Ann Arbor. I believe Alabama is a 14 point favorite.

jeff blue

Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

Hi All, I think that this is a pretty good article for July. I like our chances in 2012; too many people are cautious. We need to go out and have some fun. Sure the schedule is rough, but other than Alabama, I think that we can be in a position to win everygame. I love our senoir QB. Of greater concern than the schedule is our "physicality". We lost some really good and physical players to graduation. We do need to play better on the road and we will in 2012. Let's face it; OSU is still down. They were a crummy team last year -- only winning three B10 games. They crummy his year year too. And all MSU really had last year was a defense and a goo passing game -- the passing game will be gone in 2012. ND has nothing at QB. Ad the B10 conerence isnot that great (unfortunately). JEFF


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

"...quarterback Denard Robinson, who fell into bad habits in the passing game." I'm pretty sure those habits weren't new last year.


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

Taking off the Maize and Blue glasses: it will be a tale of differing oppenents. The offense will roll up a ton of points against weaker defensive teams. That will skew the total offense and scoring stats. No doubt that the scoring will be lower against teams like AL and MSU. The road games will be the key as Denard will have do a better job on reducing mistakes and show a lot more poise out there in a hostile environment. We'll need ball control on offense regardless in order to have the defense have a decent break in between exchanges of the football. The extra two road games this year will be a big factor and who they play on the road, like NE and ohio. I think they can roll over the Fighting Irish at S-Bend.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

Lets hope the team on the other side doesn't average 33.


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 12:08 p.m.

We just don't know, but clarity is less than two months away.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 11:37 a.m.

I like Nick's argument a little better. Especially the schedule this year versus last year. I'd take the under too.