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August 15, 2011The Michigan offense's retooling, from a spread-option set to the more traditional pro-style, will be a major story line all season.
The receivers, a deep and experienced group, are facing one of the biggest transitions to the new offense. Routes are completely different, employing more quick cuts and precision, and it's a slow, but improving, process.
"Some of the timing things still have to be worked out," Michigan wide receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski said at Michigan Media Day. "In this offense, the timing between the quarterback and the receivers is the most important thing, and there's a lot of times when we're not exactly where we need to be, when the quarterback throws the balls and if we are where we need to be, the quarterback's wrong.
"We need until Sept. 3 to get that work done, and that's why I say it's a long process, because we have a long way to go."
Redshirt senior Junior Hemingway and redshirt junior Roy Roundtree have the most experience, and they're leading the way, through the first week of camp.
But even though the two have built great rapport with quarterback Denard Robinson over the last two seasons, the passing game is still starting from the ground floor in 2011.
"It was such a drastic change offensively that it really hasn't been aided [by their experience]," Hecklinski said. "We have to understand the intricacies that go along with the pro-style offense and the throwing game like we have.
"But, to their credit, they've worked hard throughout the summer. You can see a lot of good things throughout the summer. They came through and did the 7-on-7s and now we get a chance to look at them, you can see they've started to develop that timing and put things together. Now, we need to build on it, and we can hone it down to every little detail."
Hecklinski is starting to see the receivers pick up the offense more and more.
"They're becoming really good route runners," he said. "At times they do it and it looks good and you're like, 'Yeah, we got it,' and at times, we're completely off base. And you'll know, because the ball will go one way, and we're going the other, and it's like, 'Here we go again.' That's just a part of the growing pains we're going through. All we know is to keep pushing and we will. They'll get it, because they want to get it, and they care. And that's the most important thing."
Hecklinksi on individual receivers
Sophomore Drew Dileo and redshirt junior Terrence Robinson: Drew's done a nice job, catching the football and running nice routes. Terrence, for a little guy, plays much bigger than he is. I think at some point in time, all of these kids are going to be in a position to win games for us, and that's what everyone has to understand - we're a team of 104 guys, and we need all of them, as we go through the season. It's a long season. And in the Big Ten, with 12 games, it's physical, it's a grind, and guys are going to get dinged up in the middle of games, and other guys are going to have to step up and play.
Fifth-year senior Kelvin Grady: Kelvin has done a really nice job as a senior. I think he's done exactly what a senior football is supposed to, coming in and playing his best football. What he has to do now, like all the others, is play through the grind and push himself through. He's done a great job of trying to be a leader, doing everything he can. And he's made some really nice plays, catching the football. He's got really sure hands, great feet.
Junior Je'Ron Stokes: "Je'Ron has done a really good job of being a physical wide receiver, and we need that, so I think he's doing some nice things and stepping up to the plate a little bit.
Hecklinksi on toughness: "If you look the last two years, we've been 5-0 and then tailed off - fall camp is designed to put kids through that process, so when they get to the middle of the year, they understand what their bodies feel like, they understand the pain and aches, and they learn how to play through it. That's what we're focusing on right now - that feeling of being in the middle of the season. This is what it will be like. You have to go play, and developing that toughness as a team."
Stonum: Hecklinski declined to speak about senior Darryl Stonum, who was redshirted this season after legal problem. Hecklinski said all Stonum-related questions would be answered by Hoke.