Thoughts on the Initial Depth Chart

Thoughts on the Initial Depth Chart

August 31, 2011
Surprise, he’s starting at quarterback.

The initial depth chart was released for Michigan’s game against Western Michigan.  Here’s the depth chart and a few thoughts:

QB: Denard Robinson, Devin Gardner

TB: Michael Shaw OR Fitzgerald Toussaint, Vincent Smith, Stephen Hopkins
Shaw is going to be good if he stays healthy.  Just wait.  Lots of people think he was a better fit for the spread just because he was recruited by Rich Rodriguez, but he was actually a poor fit for the spread because he doesn’t have great vision.  He’s a one-cut-and-go back.  This is the offense in which he belongs.  Toussaint’s another kid with great potential and lots of injuries.  If he stays healthy, this is a nice one-two punch.  Smith will be a good third down back.

FB: John McColgan, Steve Watson
There’s, like, no one else.

WR1: Junior Hemingway, Kelvin Grady, Jeremy Jackson
WR2: Roy Roundtree, Jeremy Gallon, Martavious Odoms

I’m a little surprised that Odoms is third on the depth chart, but his shoulder and wrist injuries probably have something to do with it.  I’m expecting Gallon to bust out, so hopefully that does indeed happen.

TE: Kevin Koger, Brandon Moore, Steve Watson

LT: Taylor Lewan, Michael Schofield
LG: Ricky Barnum, Elliott Mealer
C: David Molk, Rocko Khoury
RG: Patrick Omameh, Elliott Mealer
RT: Mark Huyge, Michael Schofield
Exactly as expected, although Mealer’s a bit of a surprise there.  My gut tells me that Khoury would replace either guard if there were an injury at either spot and Molk were still healthy.

5-TECH: Will Heininger, Nathan Brink
Walk-ons are a bit scary.

1-TECH: Mike Martin, William Campbell
3-TECH: Ryan Van Bergen, Quinton Washington
These two positions are largely interchangeable, although I doubt we’ll see Van Bergen playing much nose tackle.  I’m a little surprised that Campbell won’t start, but Van Bergen should be fine at DT instead of DE.  He played well there in 2009 and ended up with 5 sacks.

WDE: Craig Roh, Jibreel Black, Frank Clark
The first two were expected.  I’m a little surprised that Clark is on the depth chart, but . . . well . . . there’s not much depth on the defensive line.  Hopefully he’s a situational pass rusher and not much more.  He won’t hold up against the run at only 228 lbs.

SAM: Cameron Gordon, Jake Ryan, Brennen Beyer
I sure hope Beyer stays off the field this year and can redshirt.  Gordon and Ryan are going to be solid.

MIKE: Kenny Demens, J.B. Fitzgerald, Marell Evans
Demens is going to be a stud.  There’s actually a little bit of depth here.  The two backups are steps down from Demens, but they’re not bad players.

WILL: Mike Jones, Brandon Herron, Brandin Hawthorne OR Desmond Morgan
I was leery of Jones starting at WILL since he was only 207 lbs. the last time we saw him, but he’s up to 224 lbs. now.  I don’t think he’s a playmaker, but he had a decent spring game.  Herron and Hawthorne won’t scare anyone.  Morgan’s going to be a player someday.

CB1: Troy Woolfolk, Blake Countess, Greg Brown
CB2: Courtney Avery OR J.T. Floyd, Tony Anderson
Hopefully it’s Woolfolk and Avery first.  Yippee for Countess, who looks like he’ll be good for the next few years.  Floyd might be a solid slot corner, but I’m scared if he starts.  All things being equal, start the young guy.

SS: Jordan Kovacs, Marvin Robinson
(Edit: Never mind.)
FS: Thomas Gordon, Carvin Johnson
Gordon kind of came out of nowhere.  He was playing the nickel back position in the spring, but it sounds like he really turned it on over the summer.  He should have been starting over Johnson last year, anyway, so it seems like things have been righted here.  Johnson has apparently been boom-or-bust back there, but both of these guys should be solid players in the next couple years.


  1. Comments: 21381
    Aug 31, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    I agree that if Shaw and Toussaint can stay healthy that it will be a nice one-two punch, but of course that's depends on injury. 5-Tech worries me a bit as well, but like they say coach knows best. I just hope that Heininger / Brink can hold their own, even though practice reports have been good.

    Desmond Morgan is probably one of my favorite players from this last class. He seems to have great football instincts and I agree that he will be a great player over the next few years. I wouldn't want to see him RS because I don't think our WLB depth is very good. Morgan will get plenty of playing time in my eyes.

    Thunder, who do you think will be a surprise contributor on offense and defense? I'm just curious.

  2. Comments: 21381
    Aug 31, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    @ HttV 8:22 a.m.

    I'll have a post up tomorrow morning about surprise contributors in my "2011 Season Predictions" post.

    I hope the 5-techs can hold their own, too, although there's always the option of putting Van Bergen back at 5-tech and inserting Campbell/Washington at 3-tech.

  3. Comments: 21381
    Aug 31, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    Good post. My reaction:

    FS vs SS: Kovacs is listed as a SS on the official depth chart @mgoblue. Is that a typo? I'm confused.

    RB: I'm surprised there's still not much resolution here on lead back. Agree with your assessment of Shaw but I still think his limitations are going to be on display. Feels like he'll win by default for Saturday and after that…still dunno.

    WR: Odoms might have been beaten out by Gallon, but beyond that I bet he sees more time than any other non-starter at outside WR.

    OL: Some rumors going around that Schofield will play Saturday. Might be an injury thing, or maybe just rotating in.

    DL: I think having a couple walk-ons in the rotation doesn't spell doom. When Hoke and Mattison were at Michigan last, it was normal for them to have blue-collar type pluggers on the DL (e.g, Jason Horn, Rob Renes). If everyone else does their job (looking at Roh and RVB), they'll be fine.

    I could see them getting pulled in some pass-rush situations (where I'd like to see both Roh and Black). Hope Clark can have an impact on 3rd and long situations. Perhaps over the course of the season Ash and Washington improve from the coaching. Next year is scary if not.

    WLB: I think the Morgan hype might have been a little manufactured to get the other guys going. Not that he won't be a player, it's just tough for Freshman LBs… I hope he can red-shirt, but with next year's big LB class it's not essential.

    S: Good to have some depth. I still have a lot of faith in Johnson, who is only 13 months removed from the move up from LA.

  4. Comments: 21381
    Aug 31, 2011 at 1:57 PM

    Excellent, I can't wait to read it.

  5. Comments: 21381
    Aug 31, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    Re: Shaw – isn't "one cut and go" supposed to be what a running back does in the zone-blocked runs in a spread system? Not understanding why he'd be better now…

  6. Comments: 21381
    Aug 31, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    @ BML 12:26 p.m.

    That's sort of what running backs are supposed to do in zone running, but zone blocking schemes are all about vision and finding cutback lanes. Shaw isn't great at doing that. He's good at getting downhill quickly, using his speed to hit the hole, and breaking out a move once in awhile. He doesn't bouce around and jitterbug like Noel Devine, Vincent Smith, etc.

  7. Comments: 21381
    Painter Smurf
    Aug 31, 2011 at 5:17 PM

    Maybe moreso than other positions, I think the RB, WLB and SLB spots are still open and will only be firmed after a game or two. Most of the other spots seem more solid.

    Regarding Gallon, I hope he breaks out too. I watched him closely during spring 2010 and thought he moved very well. 2011 was a disappointment, but I think he has some excitement potential that guys like Grady, TRob, and Odoms don't.

    Predict at SLB that Gordon plays his way out of the starting lineup and is replaced by Ryan, especially against decent running teams. My guess is that this coaching staff (like the last one) is intoxicated with C Gordon's physical attributes. But I don't think he is ready to be a well-rounded SLB.

    Amazed that Mike Jones held onto his spot. He has not looked good in the scrimmage clips I have seen, but the coaches must see something there. He has a rep as a hitter. A little surprised that Poole is not more competitive here. He is obviously undersized, but I thought he looked like an early contributor based on the All Star games (much like Jibreel Black did a year ago).

    Looking forward to the first game because the fans who have been hyping Campbell and to a lesser extent Q Wash will see first hand what they can do and it will finally shut them up.

    Why the heck didn't RR play T Gordon at deep S last year? What a waste playing him at that S/OLB spot. The guy would be a returning starter this year if RR had his head on straight.

  8. Comments: 21381
    Aug 31, 2011 at 5:41 PM


    RE:SLB… Gordon's found his way onto the field at 2 different positions already and now (in his 2nd year) he's the presumed starter at the position everyone projected for him in the first place. He's, at a minimum, a decent player.

    I realize there is hype behind Ryan, but Freshman are almost always overhyped in the pre-season. Meanwhile, the boring old vets ahead of them manage to keep their jobs more often than not.

    Furthermore, everything they're saying about him is that he's a limited change of pace / blitzing type guy who can't cover. He wasn't highly touted as a recruit and the worst defense ever decided to red-shirt him….

    Don't get me wrong, Ryan sounds like a promising player, but it seems to me that Cam is pretty unlikely to get surpassed here.

    Jones played pretty well against UConn last year – what held him back was the injury. People forget he earned his way onto the 2 deep under the last staff – now he's been named a starter by this staff. That probably means he's not so terrible.

    Finally…just because T.Gordon won the job doesn't mean he'll be good. Give it a few days. This staff, too, thought he was more a nickel guy, strong-safety type. To me it sounds like he won FS by default.

    I think you can read too much into scrimmage footage, spring games, garbage time, and all-star game results. Even if it's all you have…doesn't make it meaningful.

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