2015 Season Countdown: #2 Jake Butt

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1Sep 2015
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2015 Season Countdown: #2 Jake Butt

Jake Butt

Name: Jake Butt
Height: 6’6″
Weight: 248 lbs.
High school: Pickerington (OH) North
Position: Tight end
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #88
Last year: I ranked Butt #11 and said he would be the starting tight end with 20 catches, 200 yards, and 3 touchdowns. He caught 21 passes for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Well, that wasn’t a bad prediction for last year. Butt was 1 catch, 11 yards, and 1 touchdown away from hitting my mark. I would have expected more from Butt if not for the fact that he was coming off of a torn ACL he had suffered in the off-season. He played in just ten games last year and started only five as the coaches tried to work him back into the lineup gradually. Other than an early-season demolition of Miami-OH (3 catches, 59 yards, 1 touchdown for Butt in a 35-10 win), Butt was relatively quiet on a weekly basis until he caught 8 passes for 53 yards and 1 touchdown over the final two weeks of the season (against Maryland and Ohio State).

I have high hopes for Butt this season in an offense that will certainly look to take advantage of tight end mismatches, multiple tight end sets, and the play action pass. Jim Harbaugh does a very good job of developing tight ends, but his tight ends at Stanford were not extremely prolific. Coby Fleener’s best season under Harbaugh was as a senior in 2010, when he caught 28 passes for 434 yards (15.5 yards/catch) and 7 touchdowns. The thing to note about those statistics is the yards per catch and the touchdowns, the latter of which counted for 25% of Ertz’s receptions. (Also noteworthy is that backup Zach Ertz had 16 catches for 190 yards and 5 touchdowns that year.) The tight ends are a big part of the offense all over the field, but they become especially prominent in the red zone. I think Butt is a player who could flourish under Harbaugh and with the right quarterback at the helm (which should be Jake Rudock, in my opinion).

Butt is a solid blocker, runs good routes, has plus speed, and has shown soft hands. He could be an All-Big Ten player, and perhaps an All-American if he gets enough targets. Michigan should establish the running game early in the year, and since Butt is a three-down tight end, he can be a threat in almost any situation. Throwing to tight ends takes some extra touch and recognition of defenses, and I think Shane Morris would struggle to find Butt more than Rudock would. We should see an emphasis on the tight end that we have not seen since Bennie Joppru wore the winged helmet in 2002 (53 catches, 579 yards, 5 touchdowns).

Prediction: Starting tight end; 40 catches, 550 yards, 6 touchdown

31Aug 2015
Blog, homepage 25 comments

2015 Season Countdown: #3 Jabrill Peppers

Jabrill Peppers (image via MGoBlog)

Name: Jabrill Peppers
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 205 lbs.
High school: Paramus (NJ) Catholic
Position: Defensive back
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #5
Last year: I ranked Peppers #23 and said he would be a backup cornerback before starting at strong safety, and he would also play at returner and some on offense. He played in three games, making 8 tackles and 1 punt return for 6 yards.

Representative of how Michigan has been so disappointing in the last few years, Peppers was Michigan’s top recruit since the year 2000 (LINK) . . . and promptly got hurt. An Appalachian State player rolled into his ankle in the season opener, and a later knee injury caused him to miss the rest of the year. He got a redshirt, but it was disappointing for him, the team, and the fans, who were expecting big things. Michigan had good depth at cornerback, but playmakers were lacking at safety and on offense. He could have helped in many ways, but he didn’t.

Hit the jump for the rest of the writeup on Peppers.
read more

30Aug 2015
Blog, homepage 5 comments

2015 Season Countdown: #4 Graham Glasgow

Graham Glasgow

Name: Graham Glasgow
Height: 6’6″
Weight: 303 lbs.
High school: Aurora (IL) Marmion Academy
Position: Center
Class: Fifth year senior
Jersey number: #61
Last year: I ranked Glasgow #3 and said he would be the starting right guard to begin the season. He started eleven games at left guard.

Entering last season, the offensive line was in quite a bit of flux. Glasgow was coming off a 2013 season in which he had started nine games at center, replacing a benched Jack Miller. Kyle Kalis was coming off of a back injury. Erik Magnuson, Kyle Bosch, and others were vying for playing time on the interior. To add to the confusion, Glasgow had to serve a one-game suspension to begin the year for an alcohol-related offense. Miller was inserted back into the lineup at center and held the job for the entire year, Glasgow played left guard after his suspension, and the combination of Erik Magnuson and Kyle Kalis held down the right guard spot. Glasgow was expected to Michigan’s best and most consistent lineman, and that turned out to be the case whenever he wasn’t suspended.

He got into more trouble this off-season. Jim Harbaugh implemented some sort of undisclosed discipline, but he wanted a clean slate and said that Glasgow had paid his penance. Presumably, no suspension is forthcoming, so I expect Glasgow to play center now that Jack Miller has departed. The only other reasonably viable option is Patrick Kugler, who was seen on crutches at Michigan’s open-to-students-only practice. When Glasgow played center in 2013, his first several games were marred by bad center/quarterback exchanges, but he got them fixed after the first four games or so and hopefully will not continue to have issues. He is large for a center at 6’6″, but he bends pretty well and does a good job of maintaining leverage on defensive tackles. Based on his talent and the fact that offensive linemen seem to garner respect for playing a lot over their careers, Glasgow could be in line for some all-conference accolades at the end of the season.

Prediction: Starting center; Second Team All-Big Ten

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