Luke Waltons Forehead presented by the Sports Dude.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006 at 11:27 AM

Wolverine Preview - Part One.

There is just something about this time of year that gets to me, the grass seems greener, the air smells sweeter, even the beer tastes better! Now I love me some beer and let me tell you anything that makes it taste better is okay in my book! That is right folks, the long awaited college football season is upon us and after the crap I suffered through last year this day has taken too long to get here and give me, and the rest of the Wolverine nation, a chance to get this bitter taste out of our mouths. A taste that was not created by the beer, no that still tasted great when they were losing five games, but rather a taste of a season lost, a season wasted and a season that will seem like a distant memory after this year. That being said here are my thoughts on the upcoming Michigan Wolverine season.

On offense the key to me is Chad Henne but the most important player is Mike Hart. Sports Dude, wait a minute here, aren’t you contradicting yourself there with that statement? Well, if you give me a darn minute I would like to explain, just hold your horses and stop jumping down my throat! We all know what happened last year when Mike Hart was not at 100% or not even in the line up at all, the 7-5 record speaks for itself. For whatever reason he is the sparkplug for that offense and when he is not out there the offense just seems to lose something that no one else can replace. Although the depth at running back never seems to be a question at U of M for some reason Hart is the running back they need the most this year and that can not be argued. The wide receiving corps lost a work horse in Jason Avant but speedy Manningham can be looked at to step up and play a larger role this year and Breaston looks to show the promise (hopefully) at the receiver spot that we have seen with his return game. Adrian Arrington is another promising youngster who, ironically enough got injured early last season and was the cause to us even seeing Manningham at all. The offensive line is your typical run of the mill U of M offensive line with the hogs, but the hogs are slimmed down a little this year in hopes of them being quicker and more agile on the blocks. Jake Long needs to step up in his senior year and he knows it, to show the promise that once said he was the next great U of M offensive lineman. Tight ends are tight ends but I look for this group to be more involved this year as Mike Debord returns to the offensive coordinator position and we all remember the 1997 season when the naked bootleg to the TE was one of their staple plays. Last but not least is the key to this entire offensive unit is Chad Henne and there is really only one reason, if he gets hurt or flops then where do you turn? He needs to make better decisions with the ball, not be afraid to scramble and use his feet and build on the downs of last year to help produce ups this year. Another big thing for him is that without Braylon or Avant to lock onto hopefully that part of his resume will be erased because he won’t really have a guy to lock onto to!

Defense, to me believe it or not, may be this team’s strength and the biggest reason is the new coordinator in Ron English. I think it was clear that the guys stopped listening to Herrmann over the years and that clearly his schemes were no longer working. Another important thing to remember is that last years defense was so decimated by injuries that there is great depth and competition there now because from first string to second string every guy has played and has experience. Someone fails in the starters’ role there is another guy right there behind him to step up and take his place. The secondary actually appears to be a strength for these guys this season and a huge reason for that is the depth that I just mentioned above. The linebacking corps look solid and the defensive line, anchored by senior and Co-captain Lamar Woodley should put plenty of pressure on opposing QB’s. I expect big things from this defense this year but none bigger than what they expect from themselves.

On special teams you have a punter with a great name, Zoltan Mesko, battling it out with Ross Ryan and at kicker you have Garrett Rivas whom as we all know loves the beer just as much as I do.

Well that is it for right now, I was going to go game by game but I think I will save that for tomorrow, this is already a little long winded. Check back for that tomorrow as well as the return of the Weekend Warrior this Friday. Thanks for reading and have a great hump day – the sports dude.

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