Do not be fooled by the fact that Michigan's depth chart for the Appalachian State game lists three starting wide receivers and no fullback. Michigan is not going to be airing the ball out this Saturday against the Mountaineers. Rather, much like the first two games of the 2006 season, the Wolverines will be content to play conservatively and not "show much" especially if it is able to establish an early lead. This is especially true as Michigan has a big-time opponent in the Oregon Ducks coming into town next week and there is no reason to show the offensive sets against a lesser opponent in the first week. At least that is the conventional wisdom to which Offensive Coordinator Mike DeBord subscribes.
In 2006, the Wolverines were very balanced offensively in terms of yardage. Last season Michigan rushed for 2,282 yards and passed for 2,538 yards. However, in terms of number of plays the Wolverines ran the ball 535 times while it passed 331 times. ALLEGEDLY, Coach DeBord wants to even out the number of play calls a little this year.
Michigan is very methodical about how it approaches its game plan. As noted above, it passed the ball 331 times last year in 13 games. That means the Wolverines averaged just over 25 passes (25.4) per game. That is, not coincidentally, exactly the number of passes that Coach DeBord scripted for the offense to throw in a game. Of course, some games the offense had to throw a little more and in some games it threw a little less depending on the dictates of the game (score, time, down and distance) but the offense was designed last season to throw 25 passes per game. QB Chad Henne exceeded twenty-five (25) passes in a game only four times last season (out of 13 games). Two of the games it occurred were the final two contests of the year (against OSU and USC) when Michigan got behind and had to start airing the ball out.
It will be interesting to see if Coach DeBord's game plan calls for thirty (30) passes per game in 2007 as Michigan has a Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback and a strong wide receiving corps while not having a true starting fullback. Nevertheless, do not expect more than 20-25 passes against Appalachian State. The offense will not open up until week two against Oregon. Nevertheless, look for Michigan to score a touchdown on its first possession against Appalachian State. The Wolverines scored touchdowns on its first possesion in eight games last season (rushing tds: Vanderbilt, CMU, Ball State, & OSU; passing tds. from Henne to Arrington: Minnesota, MSU, Iowa, & Indiana). Go Blue!