The Wolverine

October 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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34 THE WOLVERINE OCTOBER 2016 TIGHT END The tight end spot features an All- American captain in senior Jake Butt, and he's done nothing to disappoint through the non-conference campaign. Butt led the team in receiving through the opening three games, racking up 15 catches for 192 yards and three touchdowns. He's also emerged as a vocal leader, evidenced by his reaction when the Wolverines fell behind Colorado. "I talked to the group of seniors and playmakers, and said, 'Look, we just need to start making plays,'" Butt re- called. "Toward the end of the half, that's exactly what we did." Butt also embraced the greater chal- lenges ahead. He noted the Wolver- ines have been prepped in the fall crucible and are ready to take on all challenges. "Our strength coach was pushing us to our limit all summer in condi- tioning," he said. "You know the story with Coach Harbaugh and his camps. He's going to push us to the limit and then some. In a game like [Colorado], it pays off. "All that matters is winning. All that matters is getting the job done. That trumps it all, whether you're tired or not. You just find a way." The Wolverines have found a number of other tight ends as well, with three others making catches in the early going. True freshman Sean McKeon snagged a pair of receptions for 10 yards, while redshirt sophomore Ian Bunting caught two passes for six yards and fifth-year senior Michael Jocz made one catch for 12 yards. In addition, true freshmen Devin Asiasi and Nick Eubanks have seen the field for the Wolverines, and so has redshirt freshman Tyrone Wheatley. Michigan uses multiple tight ends and will keep on developing that spot. The blocking out of that position group needs to improve, according to a number of video scrutinizers, in- cluding former All-Big Ten offensive lineman Doug Skene, an analyst for That has time to develop, but everyone needs to step up his game at this point, Butt assured. "We want to be one of the best teams in the country, and we've got to prac- tice like it, we've got to play like it, we've got to prepare like it and we've got to execute like it," Butt said. RUNNING BACK A true freshman stole the show in the opener, rookie Chris Evans stepping in for injured senior tailback De'Veon Smith and bolting for 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns on only eight carries. Since then, life has returned to something closer to normal among Michigan's rushers. Through three games, Evans still paced the ball carriers with 157 yards, mostly on the strength of his opening- game effort. He averaged 7.5 yards per carry, easily the best in the crew of backs. But Smith has managed 152 yards on a team-high 27 attempts, averag- ing 5.6 yards per try and scoring one touchdown, on a 42-yard breakaway against Colorado. Redshirt junior Ty Isaac appears to have stepped up and become a regular part of the rotation, like he vowed in the offseason. Isaac rushed 22 times in the opening three games, going for 76 yards (3.5 average) and one touchdown. Soph- omore Karan Higdon, meanwhile, picked up 64 yards on 13 attempts (4.9 average) with one touchdown. Those four appear ready to form the weekly rotation, although true fresh- man Kingston Davis did make a game appearance, rushing twice for 17 yards (8.5 average). Michigan also appeared to discover a weapon close to the goal line and elsewhere in redshirt junior fullback Senior tight end Jake Butt paced Michigan with 15 catches through three games. He has gained 192 yards and three touchdowns on those receptions. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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