Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Receivers Preview: Michigan vs. South Carolina

South Carolina wide receiver Bruce Ellington (image via Independent Mail)
Starters: Fifth year senior Roy Roundtree (6'0", 180 lbs.) has really stepped up his game since Devin Gardner stepped in at quarterback, and now has 28 receptions for 553 yards (19.8 yards/reception) and 3 touchdowns; 15 of those receptions, 378 of those yards, and 2 of those touchdowns have come from Gardner in just four games together.  Redshirt junior Jeremy Gallon (5'8", 187 lbs.) has also increased his production, with 22 of his 40 receptions and 366 of his 684 yards coming from Gardner.  Fifth year senior Mike Kwiatkowski (6'5", 262 lbs.) has become the starter at tight end, but he's more blocker than receiver; he has just 4 catches for 37 yards on the year.
Backups: Junior Drew Dileo (5'10", 180 lbs.) is the most dangerous of the backup wide receivers with 17 receptions for 309 yards (18.2 yards/reception) and 1 touchdown; he's sure-handed and reliable, but he's not very fast.  The same descriptors could be used for junior Jeremy Jackson (6'3", 204 lbs.), who has just 4 receptions for 31 yards on the year but plays quite a bit.  Redshirt junior walk-on Joe Reynolds (6'1", 196 lbs.) has usurped some playing time from the aforementioned players and notched 3 receptions for 22 yards against Iowa; he's also a reliable blocker, although he has incurred a couple penalties.  Freshman tight end Devin Funchess (6'5", 229 lbs.) was a revelation toward the beginning of the year, but he seems to have been forgotten a little bit down the stretch; he has not caught more than one pass in a game since the September 22 contest against Notre Dame.  His last two receptions have gone for touchdowns, though, and altogether he has 14 receptions for 230 yards (16 yards/reception) and 5 touchdowns on the year.

Starters: After the humongous Alshon Jeffery left for the NFL last season, the Gamecocks have turned to a trio of diminutive wideouts.  Sophomore Bruce Ellington (5'9", 197 lbs.) leads the team with 38 receptions for 564 yards (14.8 yards/reception) and has notched 6 touchdowns.  Junior Ace Sanders (5'8", 175 lbs.) is just behind him with 36 receptions, but he leads the team with 7 touchdown receptions; however, he has just 439 yards and isn't as much of a big play threat.  Redshirt sophomore Nick Jones (5'7", 184 lbs.) is also a starter, but he has just 9 receptions for 119 yards (13.2 yards/reception) and 0 touchdowns on the year.  Senior tight end Justice Cunningham (6'4", 264 lbs.) has 22 catches for 287 yards (13.0 yards/reception) and 0 touchdowns on the year.  The receivers are small and slippery, but this isn't the same kind of passing offense that Steve Spurrier had when he was coaching the Florida Gators.
Backups: Sophomore Damiere Byrd (5'9", 168 lbs.) has made some big plays with 12 catches for 303 yards (25.4 yards/reception) and 2 touchdowns.  Freshman Shaq Roland (6'1", 173 lbs.) has 5 catches for 80 yards (16 yards/reception) and 1 touchdown, but he could see his role increase now that key backup D.L. Moore has been suspended for the bowl game.  Freshman tight end Rory Anderson (6'5", 218 lbs.) is still very thin, but he has been a big-play receiver with 13 catches for 264 yards (20.2 yards/reception) and 5 touchdowns, the South Carolina version of Funchess.

Extrapolated over an entire twelve-game season with Gardner at quarterback, Roundtree would have 45 receptions for 1,066 yards and 6 touchdowns, and Gallon would have 66 receptions for 1,098 yards and 3 touchdowns.  That would give Michigan the Big Ten's top two receivers (Penn State's Allen Robinson leads the conference with 1,018 yards).  Meanwhile, the Gamecocks receivers are solid and could give Michigan fits now that starting cornerback J.T. Floyd will miss the game.  South Carolina's starters might have a better game, but the better receiving corps is Michigan's.
Advantage: Michigan


  1. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being "perfectly reasonable"), what would everyone think about Gallon playing running back?

    I don't think he has much speed, and he's obviously not a huge guy, but he's a good open-space runner and he's at least not tiny.

    1. How is Gallon not tiny? He's solidly built, but he's still 5'8" at most and under 190 pounds. "Bigger than Norfleet" doesn't mean "not tiny."

      This question was raised before on MGoBlog and met with the same response I expect here...raucous laughter. You want to take the best receiver on the team and put him somewhere he's NEVER played. While you sit Denard Robinson. This gets a 2 from me purely because a 1 would be moving him to linebacker.

    2. Well ... how much did this guy weigh in college?

      Mike Hart wasn't that much bigger than what Gallon is now.

      I don't see a suggestion that Gallon be moved or Denard be benched, though I can see how that would be inferred. Just a question on his suitability for the position ...

      Also, Gallon was a QB at one point (in HS) who ran often, so he'd presumably have some idea of what to do back there.

      I'd go higher than 2.

    3. What, Gallon's supposed to play two spots at once like an electron?

      If you've ever watched high school football, running QB is a very, very different position than college running back. "He's running back size and a good open-space runner" is just not a good reason to put a guy at running back, especially when he's as productive as Gallon at receiver. I just think "thought experiments" like this are asinine.

    4. I'll say a 3, just because it might be a worth a shot if nothing else is working. We pretty much know that the other guys can't even be average back there. Heck, I'd give it a 3 if they put Quinton Washington at running back, just because.

  2. Now I get it. Why Norfleet? He'll be picking on guys his own size.