Michigan Football: Spring Game Analysis of the Tight Ends
Jake Butt is gone, but long will he not be forgotten. His demeanor and that of his family leads one to conclude Jake is a true lifer. Devin Asiasi is also gone, unexpectedly. He has a bright future. In coach talk- Asiasi is a “hoss.”
Ollie can complain to Stanley all he wants regarding another fine mess. But Stanley had nothing to do with the vast Michigan youth movement. Asiasi certainly could have flipped the teeter-totter a little more to the comfortable side, but that is not to be.
Now compounding the nervousness of the current tight end situation is the revelations surrounding the intentions of new offensive coach, Pep Hamilton. At news conferences, not long after his arrival, Coach Hamilton spread the word to expect more three, four, or five wide formations and a swing to some short-drop west coast offense timing patterns.
So, here are the tight ends, who may or may not be stuck in the middle of it all. Will the dominance of tight end and h-back power ball fade? Will UM actually need more than two good tight ends going forward? Is the increased use of the spread a fluid experiment and a hedge against a team temporarily short on proven, high quality tight ends?Michigan has tight ends. Michigan has tight ends with some decent talent. There is a high shortage of starts between all of the roster tight ends put together.
So, when Asiasi committed, many were puzzled that Nick Eubanks jumped on board. Probably a good thing for all concerned. Eubanks was said by many to be a little on the ho-hum and laissez faire side of the workable universe during his freshman season. It has been stated earlier this spring that the work ethic has picked up. This is the time of year when that song plays early and often. Nick is not the prototypical powerball tight end. He is athletic and with his Funchess-like size capable of playing tight, hybrid split, or even wideout (although there are plenty of guys to fill that role). He has promise, but like so many of the youngsters, needs a combination or accelerated urgency and mild patience.
Ian Bunting certainly has the length and decent bulk. He has never been a sterling blocker, but he needs to be at least an average Big Ten blocking tight end this year. Ian has meathooks and is a nice third option on a typical pass play. He has not yet had enough experience to judge his ability to be a go to guy that can make the tough catch when it counts the most.
Khalid Hill can block. He can play tight end, or H-back, or fullback. While the plan favors the latter two options, Khalid may be pressed into some extra tight end duty if the new spread era is put on the back burner until the wideouts mature.
Sean McKeon is another of the three star (two stars on one site) guys who have made the field as tight ends at Michigan. For the casual viewer, speed and intensity may be concerns. But, regardless, at least this year, Sean has a golden opportunity dumped in his lap. He needs to grab this moment going forward.
Everyone is waiting for Tyrone Wheatley Jr. to take off. This will not happen until he becomes a primary target. Tyrone will not become a primary target until he shows a better overall game. Like McKeon, this year presents a big opportunity. Tyrone has the size, and even at his weight he possesses pretty good agility, not as much as Asiasi, but still notable.
Not the best of times, nor the worst of times for this group. But as mentioned within the receiver writeup, the problems of this youthful group become compounded with the similar problems of the youthful wide receiver group. The biggest difference is that the youthful receiver group possesses more talent and more depth.
Add in no dominant quarterback and going forward the Michigan passing game is a true question mark. The safe bet is that problems will be obvious and the young will improve as the season unwinds.
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