|Denard Robinson makes fatties look fat.|
In case you can’t tell, I like to make lists. And depth charts. And lineups. This has nothing to do with football. But when I was about thirteen years old, I laid down in my living room with a piece of paper and a pen. I wrote down a batting order for my favorite team, the Detroit Tigers. And the Atlanta Braves. And the Chicago Cubs. And, what the hell, the rest of Major League Baseball, too.
From memory. If you wanted to know the emergency catcher for the Montreal Expos, I was your man (er, well, boy).
So here’s another list. I’ve often thought about the best players to come through Michigan during the years of my fanaticism, and this one is narrowed down to the Rodriguez years. Which players in the past few years turned out the best seasons for what amounted to be Michigan’s worst three consecutive years in program history? Despite the 15-22 record over Rodriguez’s tenure, we had some pretty good individual players. But as you might expect, the majority of them (nine out of eleven) were on the 2010 squad that had a winning record and played in a bowl game.
QB: Denard Robinson (2010)
182-for-291 passing, 2570 yards, 18 touchdowns, 11 interceptions
256 carries, 1799 yards, 14 touchdowns
This is a no-brainer. For half the season, he was on pace to win the Heisman.
Hit the jump for the rest.
RB: Brandon Minor (2008)
103 carries, 563 yards, 5.2 yards per carry, 9 touchdowns
Minor made an entire season out of one career. He had 331 carries for 1,658 yards and 20 touchdowns over his four years. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stay healthy for any length of time, and 2008 was his best season, despite only starting four games that year.
WR: Junior Hemingway (2010)
32 catches, 593 yards, 4 touchdowns
Hemingway made some spectacular plays in 2010, catching some deep balls, running after the catch, and channeling Houdini on a 45-yard catch and run against Illinois. He didn’t put up spectacular overall numbers, but averaging 18.5 yards per reception is pretty nice.
WR: Darryl Stonum (2010)
49 catches, 633 yards, 4 touchdowns
Stonum became somewhat dependable as a junior in 2010, finishing second on the team with 49 receptions. He only averaged 12.9 yards per catch, but that was largely a function of the routes he was asked to run and – I’ll say it – some inaccuracy on Denard Robinson’s part. His numbers could have been better, but there were several occasions where Stonum had to contort his body or dive for a ball thrown by Robinson. His 66-yard catch and run on a slip screen against UMass was a thing of beauty, though.
SR: Roy Roundtree (2010)
72 catches, 935 yards, 7 touchdowns
I feel bad that I couldn’t include Martavious Odoms on this squad, but Roundtree’s numbers are unimpeachable. Sure, they could have been better (he suffered from the dropsies late in the year), but Roundtree turned in the single best receiving performance of the Rodriguez era this past season. He made some clutch receptions and showed some nifty running ability with two 74+ yard receptions on the year.
TE: Kevin Koger (2010)
14 catches, 199 yards, 2 touchdowns
Koger put up better numbers in 2009 than 2010, but I thought he improved overall as a player from his sophomore to his junior year. Koger had some maddening drops in 2009, which fell off somewhat in the next year. I also think Koger’s blocking improved, which led him to be used as a sort of H-back to lead the way for Denard Robinson and the running backs.
LT: Mark Ortmann (2009)
This won’t be the popular pick because everyone loves Taylor Lewan. And I love Taylor Lewan, too. The problem was that he had too many drive-killing penalties (false starts, personal fouls, etc.). Lewan certainly has more talent, but Ortmann was a solid player who didn’t make the same kinds of mental mistakes.
LG: Steve Schilling (2010)
Schilling spent his first couple seasons playing right tackle, which was a bad fit. He moved to guard in 2009 and then, in my opinion, improved significantly from his junior year to his senior year. His understanding of the guard position improved, and his work with the strength and conditioning program seemed to bolster his athleticism as time went on.
C: David Molk (2010)
I almost picked the 2008 version of Molk, simply because he was such a revelation for Michigan football fans that season. His ability to reach block defensive tackles gave us an idea of what the offensive line would look like in the years to come. But Molk was even better in 2010, paving the way for Denard Robinson’s 1,700 rushing yards. The best thing about Molk, though? Unlike the other centers who filled in when Molk was injured in 2009, his snaps were quick, accurate, and dependable.
RG: Patrick Omameh (2010)
Omameh still has room to improve. He’s a little bit of an odd fit at guard, standing 6’5″ and only weighing about 300 lbs. He has the body of a tackle, but fit well at guard for Rodriguez. He still got overpowered at times, but his athleticism was key in getting to the second level. Witness Denard’s 87-yard run against Notre Dame, on which Omameh latched onto linebacker Manti Te’o four yards downfield, drove him another six, and then pancaked him into the ground.
RT: Perry Dorrestein (2010)
Right tackle was the weakest offensive line position over the three years, going from Steve Schilling in 2008 to Dorrestein and Mark Huyge in 2009 and 2010. While not a star, Dorrestein was the best of the three. He didn’t make a lot of outstanding plays, but linemen are a little like officials – if you don’t notice them, they’re probably doing an okay job.
This was originally posted on April 1, 2011.
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