The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 25 M Most assume with a fifth-year senior quar- terback in the mix, the position really isn't in much doubt when the Wolverines hit fall camp. Some pushback on that notion has involved talk that sophomore Shane Morris could make a move and demonstrate the kind of drop-back passing ability U-M needs in a power offense moving forward. Michigan receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski claims no knowledge of who might be mak- ing the pitches to his wideouts. Furthermore, he doesn't care. "I don't know who is going to be behind center," Hecklinski said. "It has nothing to do with me — I don't make that decision. That's with Doug [Nussmeier] and Brady [Hoke]. "For us, no matter who is behind center, it's being where we're supposed to be, when we're supposed to be there, and then make the play when it's presented to us. I don't care who is throwing the ball, and my guys don't care who is throwing the ball. "It's the quarterback's job to put it where it's supposed to be. It's our job to be there and make a play. Competition at every posi- tion is exactly what we need, and we have it." Hecklinski likes what he saw from Nuss- meier in the spring, but knows the Wolver- ines are a ways from seeing the whole of what he'll bring to the table. Michigan will continue to add to what it's doing offensively under Nussmeier in fall camp and beyond. "I know, as coaches, we haven't seen ev- erything that Doug has in store," Hecklinski said. "I've been around a lot of good football coaches, a lot of good offensive people. I played for Greg Landry, who was a longtime NFL quarterback and offensive coordinator. I've been with John Mackovic, who has had great success offensively. Stan Parrish, who obviously, from an offensive perspective, has been very successful. Al Borges, year in and year out, is one of the best offensive minds. "Doug is probably, out of all of them, the most creative and the most advanced that I've ever been around. That's not knocking any of the other ones. That's a compliment." Nussmeier wasted no time whatsoever in coming to Schembechler Hall and laying the foundation for the future, offensively. He has a way of moving quickly and effectively through a checklist of items to accomplish, but doing it in a way that can be grasped, Michigan's players agreed. Hecklinski recalled: "Doug came in one day and said, 'Guys, here's what we're going to do.' Dot-dot-dot-dot-dot — he puts about seven things on the board. He said, 'If we execute it, we'll be just fine.' "You hear Brady talk about the scrimmage before the spring game. We put it in for Thursday's practice, we repped it on Friday, and we went out Saturday, and that's prob- ably the best we've looked offensively. Doug has that ability to look at it and say, 'Okay, here is how we're going to handle this. Here is what we're going to do.' "He's point A to point Z, bam. He gets it to the players, the players can see it, they can go out and do it, and it works. It's not that it was any great revelation, but how quickly it came, and how quickly he could get it to the kids, and how quickly the kids could pick it up and go out and execute it." Hecklinski noted there's an excitement brought into the mix by the new guy, and his ideas about moving forward. "Last year was truly a wake-up call for us," Hecklinski said. "Not that we weren't doing things, but we needed to accelerate the process. We needed to take a look at our- selves and say, 'We've got to find out what we need to do differently and do it.' "Doug came in and has helped us do it. Obviously, he's had great experience with a lot of great coaches, too — with Nick [Saban at Alabama], with Steve [Sarkesian at Washington]. When you bring that in, and you bring everybody else together, it's going to be a great challenge." Offensive COOrdinatOr dOug nussmeier makes strOng impressiOn Nussmeier (shown with quarterback Devin Gardner) drew praise from U-M wide receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski for his adavanced and creative approach to offensive game planning. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL Recruiting Is Being Impacted, Too Former U-M offensive coordinator Al Borges was well liked and "a good man to all of us," running backs coach Fred Jackson said after Borges was relieved of his duties. But his re- placement, Doug Nussmeier, has gotten off to a good start in replacing him, both on the field and on the recruiting trail. "The first thing you notice about him is he is truly a quarterbacks coach," Jackson said. "That's going to continue to help Devin Gard- ner progress." And he's got a lot of energy, redshirt junior running back Justice Hayes and junior tight end Devin Funchess said. If he's watching a drill on one side of the field and he sees some- thing he needs to address on the other side, he's sprinting there in a matter of seconds. He's created an identity for the offense, Jack- son added, the way he did in leading Alabama to a pair of outstanding offensive seasons, including a national championship in 2012. Michigan isn't at that level just yet, but the Wolverines have responded well to him. So have recruits. "He told me when he got here he was going to make me a priority," Detroit Cass Tech run- ning back Mike Weber, a four-star prospect, said from the Sound Mind, Sound Body Camp June 12 in Harper Woods, Mich. "We had a lot of good talks, and he told me how they did things at Alabama. I think the offense is great for me." Michigan has been playing catch-up with Weber since apparently cooling talks with him, but the Wolverines have made a move. "They're right up there," he said. "And it won't take much more to get them over the top." The 5-10, 205-pound four-star prospect and No. 103 overall player nationally in the 2015 class, according to, is high on Ohio State and Michigan State, too. He's not the only one who's been impressed by Nussmeier's presentation. Five-star run- ning back Jacques Patrick of Orlando, Fla.,'s No. 18 prospect nationally, visited Michigan for two days in June and was blown away. "They had film cut of me and how they'd use me in their offense, and they even had film of when Coach Nuss was at Alabama," the 6-2, 232-pound Patrick said. "I like the offense and see how I could fit." Patrick is leaning toward staying in the South — Florida State is thought to be his leader — but he's visited Michigan twice now, and there is at least serious mutual interest. The Wolverines had pledges from three of- fensive players in the 2015 class through mid- June, and two of them are four-star recruits in New Jersey offensive lineman Grant New- some (6-7, 280,'s No. 199 player nationally) and Bloomfield Hills, Mich., quar- terback Alex Malzone (6-2, 205,'s No. 3 player in Michigan). 8,10-12,14-28,30-32.IMA.indd 25 6/19/14 5:02 PM

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