The Wolverine

May 2021 Issue

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 34 of 67

MAY 2021 THE WOLVERINE 35 saying, Zinter is one of the strongest steppers to date. HOW WILL GATTIS AND MOORE MESH? Moore's move to coaching the offen- sive line will absolutely be one to watch in the coming season. Gattis knows that any offensive line plays a vital role in making an offense effective. All too of- ten, last year's attack struggled. While the offense showed flashes at times, there were definitely items Gattis has on his checklist to improve. "The one area that I think we did not do a great job at least year was start- ing the game off fast," Gattis insisted. "Even in the games we had success, we didn't have opening-drive success. I think we were 0 for 6 on our first drive, as far as being able to drive down the field first and score. I think we started all six games off this past year being down 7-0. That plays for overall team chemistry, team flow, team success. "We've got to do a better job of estab- lishing early success on the first drive. The challenge as a team is eliminating other teams from having early success on their first drives. That was an area where I didn't think we played comple- mentary football and we've got to do our part in that area." That means the offensive line has to do its part, and do it better. Moore's move to take over that crew has been met with not only acceptance but en- thusiasm, according to observers. As far as Gattis is concerned, his readiness to work with co-offensive coordinator Moore to raise Michigan's game up front is palpable. "We've got tremendous chemis- try," Gattis noted. "I've known Coach Moore since, golly, 2014, 2015. So we've been really, really good friends. I'm so excited for him and his career being able to coach the offensive line and been adamant for him being the co- offensive coordinator. "He's a bright coach. The players love him and we see the players re- spond to him. Just how he coaches them and the energy he brings each and every day, and the positivity. He's got a very, very bright career in this profession. People only see him as a recruiter, but he's so much more. He's a very, very talented coach; great man — that's my guy. "Just being able to take some things off my plate whether it's scripting- wise, whether it's other things to free up some other things for me, it's been really, really important." WHO CAN PROVIDE BIG PLAYS IN THE RETURN GAME? Sophomore Giles Jackson appeared to be one of the more dynamic Wol- verines, especially on special teams. He returned a kick for a touchdown in each of his two seasons at Michigan. He'd also snagged 24 receptions for 309 yards and a touchdown after com- ing to Michigan from California. But there won't be a third season in Ann Arbor for the speedy receiver. Jackson noted in late March on Twit- ter that he was hitting the transfer por- tal "after many long nights of deep thought." The Wolverines feature a number of young receivers vying for more time on the field, more catches, etc. The re- turn spot will garner significant atten- tion, though, whether it's junior wide- out Ronnie Bell, sophomore wideout Cornelius Johnson, or a more compact returner like freshmen A.J. Henning or Roman Wilson getting involved. Regardless of who it is, the Wolver- ines will be looking for the sort of big- play capability on special teams that Jackson supplied. ❏ Five Absolutes Coming Out Of Spring On Offense Michigan answered a few questions through its spring practices. Many more re- main, and will through the summer months, fall camp and until they're playing for keeps in September. There are some items with marks on the checklist that cannot be denied, however. Here are five: 1. Michigan's offense was ahead of its defense in spring Multiple observers made this assessment, and it makes sense. Offensive coordina- tor Josh Gattis begins his third year in that position, while his defensive counterpart is newly hired and armed with a staff just beginning to mesh. The defense saw one of its best players, junior defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, sit out considerable time while still healing from last season's injury. 2. The offense will benefit significantly from this spring practice Gattis was excited to experience a normal, locked-in spring session, working on improving what he wants the Wolverines doing. It's the first year of his three as of- fensive coordinator he's enjoyed that luxury. Two years ago, he'd just arrived and needed to try and install as much of his offen- sive system as possible in 15 spring practices. He did it without a host of key players on the field, due to injuries, especially when it came to Michigan's receivers. Last year, COVID claimed spring practice altogether. Gattis has welcomed both the time and the normal growth this spring. 3. U-M will have the option of a quarterback with starting experience Freshman quarterback J.J. McCarthy came in with plenty of fanfare, but there's work to do, in terms of learning the system, reacting to the college-level talent, etc. He's in that process. Michigan won't be forced to go with a rookie starter unless he's fully earned it. Redshirt frosh Cade McNamara looked good in the spring from all accounts, after appearing in four games with one start last season. Transfer Alan Bowman carries multiple years of starting experience from Texas Tech. In other words, Jim Harbaugh's crew can call on someone who has done it before behind center. 4. The offensive line talent is there for success This one's a little more subjective, but the opinion comes not from writers, but from former offensive linemen who achieved high levels of success. There are several on the Michigan radio broadcast crew alone, and they pay particular attention to this position. They insist the parts are there. It's a matter of bringing them together, and new offensive line coach Sherrone Moore gets his crack at it in 2021. 5. Michigan's offense must improve in 2021 The Wolverines went 2-4 in 2020, and while some decried the early ending due to COVID, others breathed a sigh of relief. Both sides of the ball were struggling, but Michigan's offense just wasn't good enough against strong competition. The op- portunity is there, and the need is undeniable. — John Borton

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - May 2021 Issue