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September 03, 2013 - Image 38

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2013-09-03

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2E - Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Michigan's new playmakers Moving to offense of choice

Daily Sports Editor
APRIL 13, 2013 - One is a
freak, the other a runt. Junior
Frank Clark is a274-poundbehe-
moth at defensive end. Fifth-year
senior Jeremy Gallon is a5-foot-8
speedster at receiver.
In stature, the two are oppo-
sites. But with the loss of Michi-
gan's two playmakers from 2012
- Denard Robinson to gradua-
tion and redshirt junior lineback-
er Jake Ryan to injury - each has
become the most exciting player
on the field. And in Saturday's
Spring Game, each was the play-
er to watch on his side of the ball.
Redshirt junior quarterback
Devin Gardner took Gallon to his
church a few weeks ago. A young
fan approached Gallon.
"A little kid walked up and was
like, 'Hey you play high school.
I'm going to high school too!' "
Gardner recalled, laughing. "I
was like, 'Ooh. Gonna have to get
a little bigger, a little taller or lift
or something, you know?"'
Then Gardner introduced
Gallon to the pastor. The pas-
tor didn't recognize Gallon. He
pegged the receiver at 6-foot-3.
"That just speaks a lot for the
way he plays and how tough he
is and how big he actually plays."
Gallon is so short that diminu-
tive senior receiver Drew Dileo
likes to remind the press that at
5-foot-10, Dileo is actually two
inches taller than his teammate.
"Don't let him tell you different-
ly," Dileo says.
But when Robinson went out
with an injury last year, Gal-
lon filled the big-play void. In
Michigan's last five games, with
Gardner as quarterback, Gallon
caught 31 passes for 511yards and
three touchdowns. In the Out-
back Bowl against South Caro-
lina, Gallon hauled in nine passes
for 145 yards and three touch-
Again on Saturday, Gallon was
Gardner's favorite target. Gal-
lon was targeted more than any
other receiver in the situational
scrimmage. and he caunht three

Junior defensive end Frank Clark is expected to make an impact immediately.

By BEN ESTES formations, with multiple shifts,
Daily Sports Editor and multiple motions and a
variety of different ways to get
FEB. 12, 2013 - The ques- the ball to the tailbacks, maybe
tions began almost as soon as some to the fullback, at times a
Brady Hoke was hired as the quarterback (run)."
coach of the Michigan football The offensive coordinator
team more than two years ago: especially emphasized the dyna-
what would Hoke and offen- mism of his system, given the
sive coordinator Al Borges, who fears some Wolverine fans have
believed in a more traditional of a return to ultra-conservative
style of offense, do with a roster football.
designed for the spread? Hoke has helped spark those
For the last two seasons, the concerns with his continual
issue of clashing offensive phi- rhetoric about building his
losophies and personnel cast a teams in the trenches and estab-
shadow of uncertainty on the lishing a dominant running
Michigan program. game. Such talk conjures images
As Hoke initially promised, of dull offenses of decades past,
Denard Robinson, a quarter- like the one Michigan became
back ideal for the spread-option famous for under former coach
offense, did remain the team's Bo Schembechler.
signal caller, at least until an Borges refuted the notion that
elbow injury forced him out of the Wolverines' past philosophy
his regular position for the team's of "three yards and a cloud of
final five games last season. dust" would also be their future
As talented as Robinson was, one, as long as he's inAnn Arbor.
his skills never matched up with "That's never been my style
Borges's ideal offense. The coor- as an offensive coordinator," he
dinator adapted as best he could said.
by incorporating more spread- Entering their third season in
type plays and formations, but charge oftheprogram, Hoke and
the sum result was an offense his staff have been able to signif-
often marked by inconsistency. icantly overturn the roster and
In senior Devin Gardner, the help mold it into their desired
player who replaced Robinson image. The recently signed class
last season, Borges has a quar- of 2013 demonstrates this well.
terback who can more consis- Michigan signed what several
tently make the type of throws recruiting sites rated as the best
the coach wants - and it showed class of offensive linemen in the
in those last five games, when country, boastingsix tough play-
the playbook became more ers with the versatility to play
downfield-oriented. multiple positions along the line
According to Borges, expect - just the type of lineman that
more of the same with Gard- position coach Darrell Funk said
ner back in 2013 - and prob- he prefers.
ably even more of a West Coast At running back, the Wolver-
offense style, now that the ines signed three big, physical
Michigan coaches have two full athletes, all of whom are listed
classes of players recruited to fit at 218 pounds or greater. The
the offense they want. team also added a pocket passer
"It's important to understand, in Shane Morris and two tight
it's less a hybrid than it was, I'll ends that fit well into Borges's
say that, but it's still not 'line up roles for the position.
in the I-formation, hit them in The only spot of potential
the mouth' every play, either," concern in the class is wide
Borges said last Wednesday. receiver, the lowest-rated posi-
"We're going to be in multiple tion in Michigan's class. The

coaches signed three receivers
- Jaron Dukes from Ohio and
a pair of in-staters in Da'Mario
Jones and Csont'e York - but
most analysts regarded each as a
three-star recruit.
It's, clear the coaches value
size at receiver - each recruit
checks in at 6-foot-2 or tall-
er - but speed is a question.
Wide receivers coach/recruit-
ing coordinator Jeff Hecklinski
downplayed that aspect of the
position, saying that "speed is
overrated" and that it's difficult
to even determine a recruit's
speed since he likely rarely
touches the ball in high school.
"If you can't catch, we have
issues," Hecklinski said. "All
of our guys, if you watch them
on high-school film, they have
great hands, they adjust to the
ball, they track the ball very well
in the air and they go up and
they catch it.
"We can judge that on film,
so let's get the best hand-eye
coordination guys, guys that
can catch the football, let's bring
them in here and let's develop
them in other areas."
Though the coaches assem-
bled an extremely talented
offensive class, it wasn't nec-
essarily easy. Borges and his
cohorts had to convince recruits
that they'd be playing in a sys-
tem they wanted to play in,
which wasn't necessarily the
spread-hybrid they saw Michi-
gan run for the last two seasons.
"It is hard," Borges said.
"Sometimes you have to go back
and show them stuff you've done
in the past (at other schools)
because they got to see what
you're getting to. ... But we
showed them, and they under-
stood, they know what direction
we want to go in, and that's why
they decided tocome here."
With the 2013 class in tow and
Borges closer than ever to his
desired offense, it appears the
days of the coach needing to dig
into the film archive for recruit-
ing visits will soon be over.


passes for 22 yards, unofficially.
On the other side of the ball,
Clark spent much of the day
lined up against All-American
fifth-year senior tackle Taylor
Lewan. Clark has spent much of
the spring sparring with Lewan
in practice.
On Saturday, he was asked,
again, who typically wins the
"I've gotten that question so
many times," Clark said with
a smile before saying that the
matchup has been even.
If Gallon, as Gardner said,
plays sneakily big, then Clark
plays sneaky fast. Clark played
safety in high school but added
50 pounds during his time at
Now 274 pounds, Clark hasn't
lost his speed, according to Dileo.
"When you have a D-end
who's probably as fast as some
of your receivers, that classifies
you as a freak," Dileo said. "Just
a monster."
Last vear Clark showed flash-

es of athleticism but struggled
with consistency. He also was
suspended for Michigan's first
game before pleading guilty to
a felony count of second-degree
home invasion. He was arrested
on June 14 for attempting to steal
a laptop from Stockwell Hall.
This year, Clark said he has
looked to seniors like Gardner to
become a better leader. He has
also tried to add consistency to
his playmaking ability.
"I wanted to be that player
who coach Mattison can rely on,"
Clark said. "With one of our key
players, Jake Ryan going down,
I know he's looking for that next
player to step into that new role
and be that player for him, and
that's what I want to be. I want
to be that player he can look and
go, 'I know Frank'sgoing to make
a play.'"
Lewan neutralized Clark for
much of Saturday. But later in
the practice, Clark moved to the
right side of Michigan's line.
The nlav ended in a sack.





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