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April 6, 2012

Tight ends, receivers making strides

Although the Wolverine offense did not heavily feature the tight end through much of his career, Kevin Koger was still the go-to guy at that position.

Now that he's gone, Michigan must find a replacement. Though offensive coordinator Al Borges has options from which to choose, most of the Wolverines' current tight ends have woefully little - if any - experience.

Fifth-year senior Brandon Moore has taken charge so far. The Trotwood, Ohio native has popped up on several of the practice highlight videos posted on MGoBlue.com and has impressed the coaches.

"Brandon Moore is playing better than he has since he's been here," Borges said. "He still has a little ways to go, but when he is technically sound, takes the right steps and comes off the ball with an attitude, he's been a solid player. Brandon's got some talent, he does. His consistency of play was a little erratic, but it's getting better.

"In terms of understanding what we do, there are no issues there, and now that he understands it, the paralysis by analysis should be gone, and it pretty much is. He's as aggressive as I've seen him, and he's demonstrated a certain level of consistency that has shown improvement."

Moore is being pushed by other tight ends, too.

Junior Ricardo Miller has stepped up, though he fits more of the match-up-conscious H-back position, a tight end hybrid spot.

Fifth-year senior Mike Kwiatkowski has also caught the coaches' eyes.

"Ricardo is a very athletic kid, and he runs better than any of our tight ends," Borges "He still has a ways to go as a blocker. Mike has always been a very good receiver. His only issue was the ability to play along the line of scrimmage against bigger guys. He's improved that. He's a strong kid, and he has power. He's done a pretty nice job. Those three are in the fold as much as anyone."

Although there is plenty of work to do, Borges is confident in the tight ends he has on the roster.

"I think we'll be fine there," Borges said. "We still need to improve. I'm not comfortable at any position right now, game-ready wise. We will use our personnel accordingly. If we feel that position isn't as strong as others, we'll find ways to use other positions. If that position gets up to speed, we'll let them play a little bit more. It's up to them. We will totally evaluate and assess every player on the team. Playing time will be dictated by their productivity and nothing else."

Wide Receiver Evaluation: The loss of Junior Hemingway, Michigan's go-to deep threat in 2011, is big, but the wide receiving corps is coming along nicely.
With several key contributors back from last season, the receivers are having a strong spring.

"Jerald Robinson has really proven some toughness," Borges said. "He's done a very nice job. I've been very happy with Jerald. The same cast of characters from last year, like Jeremy [Gallon] and Roy [Roundtree] are doing a nice job, too.

"Jeremy and Roy know what to do. That's what's nice about it - they know what to do. We get very few missed assignments now, whereas last spring, it was a carnival of missed assignments. It's not their fault - that's going to happen in a new system. We just don't get it anymore from the players who have played significantly. Drew Dileo is consistent, smart, tough. Jeremy Jackson has been healthy and his game has taken another step. It's good to have him, because he gives us some range at the position that we lost with Junior."

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