Offense looks strong for Wolverines

Published 9:43 pm Tuesday, August 21, 2007

By Staff
ANN ARBOR – Everyone knows that defense wins championships and offense wins games.
For the fifth ranked Michigan Wolverines, the offense may have to carry the defense early on as it tries to recapture the Big Ten Conference championship in 2007.
The Wolverines have an outstanding group of skill position players on the offensive side of the football. Over on the defensive side of the ball, the Wolverines have some holes to fill.
Michigan is also in need of replacing its kicker.
Veteran coach Lloyd Carr knows that and will use the preseason to settle on a place kicker.
"We're excited about this season," Carr said at the team's annual Media Day. "We've got a great nucleus of outstanding leaders coming back. We do have a lot of work to do. We've got some great competition at a number of positions. As coaches, the only thing that we have to do is settle on a field goal kicker; that's a big decision."
Carr said that three players will be vying for the position and it will be decided before the season begins on Sept. 1 against Appalachian State.
Michigan will also be trying to replace players at right guard, right tackle, linebacker and in its secondary.
"We've got to find out which of our freshmen are ready to step in and play now," Carr said. "We've got a lot of work to do in the next month, but we're excited about the challenge of this season and competing again for Michigan."
Carr noted that on the offensive side of the football, the Wolverines are loaded.
"Obviously, offensively we return a lot of experienced guys who had great success," he said. "We have talent and depth at the wide receiver position. I think we have the makings of an excellent offensive line. Certainly in the backfield, we have (Mike) Hart and the guys that back him up. Our depth at quarterback is very good."
Carr felt that based on spring drills, Bryan Wright will handle the kickoff duties. He and K.C. Lopata and Jason Gingell are all competing for the placekicking chores.
Following their opener against Appalachian State, Michigan will take on two of the top teams in the nation – Notre Dame and Oregon.
"It's a great non-conference schedule for us," Carr said. "If you want to create momentum, you want to get off to a good start. I don't think what we're dealing with is any different from most teams."
Defensively, Carr said he felt the team will play hard, will be quick and will be mobile.
"We have to try to coach to the strength of our players," he said. "It's a team game. The things that impact the defense are your offense and the field positions that is created by your special teams. I like our enthusiasm. They read the paper. They know what people are saying about our defense. I think that is a motivating factor. We're going to play some young players. What I expect is that we'll get better as the season goes on. I certainly hope so."
Carr noted that the Big Ten Conference is going to be very competitive this season.
"We have to play eight of them, and I know one thing – there's not one of them that's going to be easy," he said. "What do you base this year's prediction on? Returning guys? Everybody has lost people. A lot of people have new quarterbacks. Everybody has got different issues, but nobody has the same team that they did a year ago. Every team is going to have some incoming freshmen that will step up and have an impact."
The Wolverines will be celebrating its 1997 national title this season.
Carr said it seems like it was a lifetime ago.
"That team did something that nobody expected them to do," he said. "What that has done is focus this program in a way that is extremely positive. When you're trying to be the best of the best, it can be frustrating and it can be disappointing. But it's never a lack for exciting."
Kickoff for the Appalachian State game on Sept. 1 is scheduled for 1 p.m. The game can be seen live on the new Big Ten Network.