The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 107 WR While some verbiage in calls has been cut down, Michigan's wideouts now must know what to do with fewer route-specific words. "Doug has the ability to call different personnel, same formation, align people in different spots, and yet call the came play," Hecklinski explained. "From the quarterback's perspective, it's the same read progression, but from the defensive perspective, it's not always the same guy doing it. "From a receiver's standpoint, it's no longer, 'We've got a pass route and I'm this guy, and this is all I have to know.' Now it's: 'This is the pass play, and I have to know every route in the concept, be- cause I could line up anywhere within the concept and have to run that route.' "He has a lot of flexibility to move people, a lot of flexibility for matchups." Asked to get specific on how that might sound, Hecklinski made up a play, using invented terminology. In other words, no Michigan strategic secrets were harmed in the description, while he explained the process. "In the old West Coast terminology, you could get 'Flop to Red Right Zip, Two Jet 88, X-Post, Z-dig, Y-Seam,' and that would be telling everybody what to do," Hecklinski said. "Now, with Doug, it would still be 'Flop to Red Right Zip,' because you've got to shift and motion. But he'd say, 'Flop to Red Right Zip, Wolverine.' "It makes it quicker for the quarterback. You've got the target words, and everybody knows what they're doing." Funchess has enjoyed enough time at wideout to know what he's doing, after moving out from tight end last year. He's Michigan's leading returning receiver, having caught 49 passes for 748 yards (15.3-yard average) and six touchdowns a year ago. He's Michigan's most imposing figure when set against over- matched defensive backs. With Gallon long gone, Funchess has to stand a little bit taller and take over as the Wolverines' top wideout, according to Hecklinski. "I think he has to be," Hecklinski said. "Let's say what it is. If we step out on the field, I'll put him up against anybody in the country. There's not a better athlete, from a size-speed perspective. There's not a better athlete on the field. He's got to assume that and take that responsibility on." Like the defensive backs always say about themselves, Funchess needs a short memory. He dropped a few balls last year, despite hands that could seemingly palm a medicine ball. He'll try to cut down on the times that happens, but just as im- portantly, forget about when it does, his position coach emphasized. "The hardest part with that is not thinking you have to be perfect," Hecklinski noted. "I go back to the Indiana game, where Gallon broke all those records. The very first pass of the game, he dropped. Our position is black and white. When you're on the perimeter, all eyes are on you when that ball is in the air. "There are 115,000 people watching you. There's the sense of, 'Oh, I've got to be perfect every time.' You want that mentality, but you've got to understand there are going to be some hard times in there. There are going to be some drops. There are going to be some things that don't happen the way they're supposed to happen, some plays I should make that I don't make. "It's how I deal with that and how I come back to that, how I handle that, that makes me a great wideout." Some of Michigan's greatest ever were not immune, Hecklinski reminded. Even the most prolific receiving yards producers in Michi- gan history dropped a few along the way. "You look at all the great receivers who made big plays down through the years," Hecklinski said. "They came up with great catches, game-ending plays, the kind that people always remember. "But it didn't always go well for them. They dropped balls. But they made the plays that counted, and that's what a wideout is. A QUICK FACTS Position Coach: Jeff Hecklinski (fourth season). Returning Starters: Devin Funchess (14 career starts) and Jehu Chesson (2). Projected New Starter: Amara Darboh. Top Reserves: Dennis Norfleet, Da'Mario Jones, Csont'e York and Jaron Dukes. Newcomers: Freddy Canteen, Drake Harris and Maurice Ways. Moved In: Funchess (from TE). Moved Out: None. Rookie Impact: Canteen. Most Improved Player: Chesson. Best Pro Prospect: Funchess. FYI: NFL-bound Jeremy Gallon gave the 2014 receivers plenty to aspire toward, rewrit- ing Michigan's record book in 2013 … Gallon posted the most receiving yards (1,373) ever by a Wolverine last year, including the top single-game performance (369, versus Indiana) … His 89 catches were shy only of the 97 Braylon Edwards posted in 2004 … Gallon wound up third on Michigan's all-time list for receiving yards, with 2,704, and in receptions, with 173 … Funchess finished as a first-team All-Big Ten performer by the media in 2013, and is already appearing on some NFL Draft lists for next spring … The Wolverines were one of only two schools in the Big Ten featuring two players in the conference's top 10 in average receiving yards in 2013, with Gallon and Funchess joining Indiana's tandem of Cody Latimer and Kofi Hughes … Canteen and Harris give Michigan a pair of freshman performers who went through spring football, the duo arriving early and enrolling in January … Canteen was a high school teammate of another Michigan rookie, defensive back Brandon Watson … Norfleet has appeared in all 26 Michigan games in his two years in a winged helmet … Funchess has a streak of 14 consecutive games with at least one catch … The junior earned the Big Ten Kwalick-Clark Tight End of the Year Award in 2013 … Still considered by Michigan records a tight end in 2013, Funchess set the U-M single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end with 748. Redshirt sophomore Amara Darboh earned playing time in 2012, though he didn't make a catch, and a preseason foot injury kept him out all of last year, so he is looking for his first reception in a U-M uniform. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL 106-112.WRs.indd 107 6/19/14 8:54 AM

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