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September 12, 2014 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-09-12
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Michigan through the lens of the NFL

Q&A: Miami beat writer Tom Downey

'M' has 38 draft
picks since 2004,
but many were
demoted or released
Daily Sports Editor
Michigan fans didn't need
to see Saturday's blowout loss
in South Bend to know the
Wolverines have been in decline
for the last six years.
But a struggle fans may not
have noticed is how few -
and how unsuccessful - the
program's draft picks have been,
in recent years, compared to
similar programs. One look at the
makeup of the National Football
League puts the struggles of the
nation's winningest program into
Last Sunday, the 2014 NFL
season kicked off and LSU
had the most players on active
rosters, with 38. That number
will be bumped to 40 by week
two with Kansas City Chiefs wide
receiver Dwayne Bowe returning
from suspension and the Miami
Dolphins signing linebacker
Kelvin Sheppard. Behind the
Tigers, USC has 37 and Alabama
has 36. In all, SEC schools hold
four of the top five spots.
Despite having 38 draft picks
since 2004, Michigan has just 24
players on active rosters. Penn
State has had 40 draft picks
in that time. Notre Dame and
Wisconsin? Forty-five each. Ohio
State? Sixty-six. The Buckeyes
also lead the Big Ten in active
players with 29.
But of those 38 Michigan
picks, only 16 remain on teams.
An additional six undrafted
free agents have made their way
onto active rosters (and running
back Fitzgerald Toussaint just
signed to the Baltimore Ravens
practice squad). Legends Charles
Woodson and Tom Brady, far
removed from the Wolverines'
recent hardships, round out the
In each year from2005 to 2008,
Michigan had a wide receiver
drafted who went on to have a
successful NFL career. In 2005,
the Browns took Braylon Edwards
with the third overall pick.
Jason Avant went in 2006 and is
currently playing for the Carolina
Panthers. Steve Breaston was

Managing Sports Editor
It's been more than a year and
a half - 18 games to be exact -
since Miami (Ohio) has won a
game. After a last-place finish
in 2013, the RedHawks could be
poised to fall to the cellar again.
And Tom Downey, Sports
Editor at The Miami Student, has
been following them since 2013.
The Daily spoke with Downey
to look ahead to the Michigan
football team's game on Saturday.
The Michigan Daily: Andrew
Hendrix and Miami utilize quick
passes in the offense, something
Michigan struggled with last
weekend in Notre Dame. Is the
offense effective at all with that
style of play and can he take
advantage of that passing style
this weekend?
Tom Downey: It's better
than last year, but last year's
was terrible, so that's not saying
too much. They've put up yards
and they're fourth in the NCAA
in time of possession, so they're
always keeping their defense off
the field. But they've struggled to
punch it in and score points.
And turnovers have killed
them. Especially against Eastern
Kentucky where they had six
turnovers and six false starts. The
mental mistakes are just killing
TMD: As you watch the team
progress, are you seeing any
improvement in an offensive line
that struggles to protect long
enough, or is it much of the same?
TD: They haven't done a good
job of recruiting at the line. I
talked with coach Martin and
he said, "There is no depth at the
offensive line." It's one of those
things they have to put up with
and do as best they can for now.

TthtsA MATHW/Daily
Denard Robinson electrified the college football world while at Michigan, bat he has largely bees relegated to backup roles as a running bock with the NFL's Jaguars.

Joe Bolden (left) and the Michigan defense struggled to stop Notre Dame, and they'll face a similar offense Saturday in Andrew Hendrix and the RedHawks' attack.

taken by the Arizona Ca
in 2007, but is now a free
and Mario Manningham w
year after to the New York
where he remains today.
Since then, just two re
- Junior Hemingway and,
Gallon - have been take
both were selected in thes
round. Gallon, picked
past year by the New E
Patriots, has yet to make
Junior Devin
Funchess will
surely change M
that in the
coming years, 0
but for now, the
number remains on
In 2007 aqd
2008, four
were selected -
three of whom went in t
three rounds. Since then, o
has been taken - Jonas N
in 2011 to the San Diego Cb
The void of explosive
is highlighted by the fact
the 24 active players in the
drafted over the last 10
nine are offensive or de
linemen. This includes 20:
round pick Mike Mart

rdinals former first rounders Jake Long,
e agent, Brandon Graham and Taylor
vent the Lewan.
Giants, There's nothing wrong with
linemen. You probably know that
'ceivers competitive football games are
Jeremy won in the trenches. But it's the
en, and lack of playmakers and inability
seventh to make the explosive plays when
J this the team needs it most that has
ngland plagued the Wolverines for a
a team. decade.
attention to
ichigan has the lines is
important, but
>t 24 players the program's
struggles can
NFL active be attributed
to its inability
rosters, to develop
players at skill
positions. It
could be a result
he first of a vicious cycle where recruits
nly one no longer see the success of
Mouton, years past and opt to join more
targers. offensively explosive programs.
players Or, it could just be the coaching.
that of When Lloyd Carr retired
league following the 2007 season, Rich
years, Rodriguez instituted the spread
fensive offense. Now, Brady Hoke is
12 third working to emphasize size on the
in and lines. Both systems are detracting

from the Wolverines' getting jobs
at the next level.
Since Edwards and the trio
of Manningham, Avant and
Breaston, no Michigan receivers
have been able to translate their
success from Michigan Stadium
to the NFL.
Names like Denard Robinson,
Mike Hart, Hemingway and
Gallon are the explosive players
Michigan fans looked forward to
watching. They're the ones who
gave hope that seasons could be
salvaged and bowl games could
be won.
And yet, Robinson - the
program leader in total yards -
was a fifth-round pick. His size
and arm issues forced a change of
Even at running back, he was
less than impactful his rookie
season. Through one week of his
second pro season, Robinson ran
the ballthree times for eight yards.
The jury's still out on "Shoelace."
Graham was selected in
the first round in 2010 by the
Philadelphia Eagles and, overall,
has disappointed. Many expected
him to be released before this
season. Hart, a hero in Ann Arbor
under coach Lloyd Carr, lasted
just three years at the professional

level before finding success with a
clipboard on the sidelines.
Difference makers at skill
positions have been infrequent
as of late, and that has everything
to do with the numerous changes
instilled by Rodriguez and Hoke.
One look at the NFL is a big
step to understanding what's
happening in Ann Arbor.
University of Michigan
The tackle was taken11th overall by the
Tennessee Titans in 2014.
The defensive end wastaken13thoverall
bythe Eaglesin 2010..
The Dolphins selected the offensive
tackleNo.Ioverall in2008.
The Bengals selected the corner No.18
overall in 2007.

But against Michigan, who has
much faster defensive ends, I
don't see how effective they can
be, or if they can even use it at all.
TMD: Who else on the offense
picks up the slack for Hendrix,
then? Does anyone pose a
matchup problem?
TD: David Frazier is a really

TMD: Is there anything
the defense does well that
can frustrate Michigan at all,
something they've built off last
season, perhaps?
TD: Well, the defense last year
wasn't very good. That's what
happens when you go 0-12. They
weren't great against Marshall
(this season).

good route
runner, and
that showed
and Eastern
Kentucky. I
don't know
how effective

They're a
little small
up front on
"Against Michigan, the defensive
h line, which
... I don't see how makes it
tough to stop
effective they the running
game, where
can be!' I think
will have a lot
of success.

TMD: With all their struggles
on this year's team, do you get a
sense the losing streak is hanging
over Miami's heads?
TD: I don't know if it's really
weighing over their heads as
much as (head coach Chuck)
Martin is holding it over their
heads. There doesn't really go a
press conference by with Chuck
Martin where he says they're
0-18. It's all about breaking that
streak, and Martin does not like
losing whatsoever.
TMD: Is Martin changing the
culture at Oxford then?
TD: He hasn't used the word,
but he's used the phrase, "how
we go about things." Under
(former coach) Don Treadwell I
don't think it was taken with the
seriousness that you see in other
The weight room was one area I
don't thinkthe players were forced
to go as often as they should have
been. Their routines - they didn't
go about them the right way. And
that was one of the first things
Martin was trying to change.
TMD: Alright, what's your
prediction for Saturday's game?

TD: Michigan's going to win,
that's for sure. I think by how
much depends on which Miami
offense shows up. As long as
Michigan shows up prepared and
focused, there won't be many
I'll say 38-17, Michigan.

TMD: How does that poor that
offensive line impact a running be a
game where the quarterback has Michigat
the most attempts? who has
TD: It's really on a lot of non- corners.
designed plays that (quarterback Dawa
Andrew Hendrix) is running and get t
the football. And a lot of those space, bu
incompletions that he's had, too, successI
are rolling out, trying to buy time Michigat
to throw it away. Welch,;t
They haven't been able to run matchup
the ball much and the only way find spat
they can do it isto go east to west great ha
with the occasional read option. an uphill


n Scott is a guy they try
he ball in his hands and
t I don't know how much
he can have because of
n's speed. Maybe Alex
he tight end, can get a
against a linebacker and
ce, because he has some
rnds. But it's going to be
l battle for Miami.

The corners are fairly good,
especially for a MAC school.You'll
want to watch Quinton Rollins
closely, who played basketball for
four years with Miami.
He's very good and an
incredible athlete. You watch
him and you think that there's
no way the kid has been playing
basketball for four years because
he makes it look easy.

6 FootballSaturday, September 12, 2014

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