Michigan Football Preview 2015

2015 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 71 WIDE RECEIVERS in the spring game, but the 6-4 athlete is still catching up with the new scheme in some ways. "Jaron did some good things," Fisch said. "He needs to be a more consistent football player. He needs to consistently know his assign- ment and be in the right place at the right time. If you're not, it really doesn't matter how physically gifted you are. "You've got to be assignment sound, and then when the ball is in the air, you've got to attack it, and attack it in the way that nobody else can come down with it other than you." Redshirt freshman Maurice Ways is also 6-4, and searching for more every-down consistency in the eyes of his coaches. "He's a very big guy," Fisch said. "He should continue to add weight and continue to make the tough catches. He makes a lot of tough catches, but at times he lets some easier ones slip by. "Mo needs to continue to make big play after big play. He's prob- ably four inches taller than the average DB we have on our team. He should always be open. We should be able to find him and hit him, let him go up and make those catches." Sophomore Freddy Canteen saw some action on both sides of the line of scrimmage in the spring, but will be expected to step up at slot receiver after catching five passes for 22 yards as a true freshman. "He's a very good catcher with very strong hands," Fisch assessed. "He needs to find a niche that he's most comfortable with. "He's got to understand how to run routes in the slot. We're go- ing to continue to coach him on that. He needs to work hard on his craft, and build up the strength in his legs, to be able to do some things with his breaks that will help separate him from others at his position." True freshman Brian Cole II is a potential playmaker, Fisch in- sisted, but has a lot to learn after just arriving in January. "Brian had a really good spring," Fisch stated. "I'm excited about Brian. He's an unbelievably good catcher. He frames the ball well, catches the ball well with his hands, attacks the football well. "It's just a big transition for a high school kid to have to pick up a pretty elaborate college football playbook, one in which you're asked to do a lot of things. He's certainly going to be a guy that should help us win some games. We're excited about that. He's just got to get a better feel for everything we're asking him to do." Head coach Jim Harbaugh himself threw out the chal- lenge, immediately following a spring game during which two passes went through receivers' hands and into those of a defensive back. "It's an area we need to keep working on," Harbaugh said. "We need receivers that can make a catch when it's contested, make the tough catch." According to Andy Mignery, former quarterback and tight end for the Wolverines, Harbaugh isn't on an island while scrutinizing this position. "Jim Harbaugh and staff aren't the only ones who see a group of wide receivers that need a lot of work," Mignery said. "They have a short amount of time to really come to- gether as a group. A core has to step up within the group. "The biggest issue with this group is the lack of experi- ence. Without a big playmaker coming back, that's the biggest question mark. I think that's what Coach Harbaugh was alluding to." Early NFL entrant Devin Funchess wasn't always a con- sistent playmaker for the Wolverines, but he did lead the way last season with 62 catches for 733 yards and four touchdowns. Those numbers aren't easily replaced by a single Wolverine, Mignery noted. "This group may not have that big-time playmaker to go to on first down, who can come up with a big 25-yard catch and secure anything thrown to him," he observed. "I just haven't seen that. Now, hopefully I'm wrong, and the group comes together, and one or two guys emerge as those playmakers. "The other thing that bothers me about the group is that outside of Amara Darboh, who has 36 catches coming off last year, you have one other guy that has double-digit catches. "Jehu Chesson has the potential to truly be a leader within the group. The guys look up to him, and he has made some plays. He's got his head in the right place, along with Darboh. Jehu and Amara should step up and be the leaders of this group." Beyond those two, Mignery noted, it's a youth move- ment. Maurice Ways redshirted as a true freshman last year and has shown signs in practice of coming on. Sophomore Freddy Canteen caught a touchdown pass in the Ohio State game, and early enrollee freshman Brian Cole en- joyed some highlight moments in spring practices. 'They've got some youngsters people really don't know about — Mo Ways, Brian Cole," Mignery said. "They're do- ing well, and they're improving as a group. "[Senior walk-on] Bo Dever is a slot guy that can get open and sit in a hole that the quarterback can find. He should get the ball a lot more. He's got his head on right, and he's a coachable kid. "The slot receivers may get a little more attention this year, as we develop the run game and use play-action, which plays into Coach Harbaugh's system." Players such as Ways could become very important as the season wears on, Mignery noted. The ability to move multiple receivers into the lineup not only helps in the event of injury, it can take place during the normal course of any contest. "Not all the guys are going to be one of the top three guys," Mignery said. "You've got a rotation, a lot of guys playing throughout the year. They have to understand that. When their number is called, they have to make a play, be where they're supposed to be, not get the jitters, and catch the ball when it's thrown to them." This group needs to assuage any jitters Michigan Sta- dium denizens might have going in, Mignery noted. It can do so by making solid catches, and if a big-time playmaker does not emerge, at least remain solid and achieve con- sistency as a unit. "We need this group to step up," Mignery said. "There are a lot of former Michigan receivers looking at this crew, and they are excited to see what comes about. Hopefully, they have a great summer of workouts, building that leadership. The confidence needs to come early this season." — John Borton Seeking Improvement At Wide Receiver True freshman early enrollee Brian Cole was rated the No. 5 athlete in the nation as well as the No. 1 overall player in Michigan by Rivals.com. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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