Could Jake Butt’s ACL tear necessitate a change at quarterback?


Nov 30, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines tight end Jake Butt (88) catches a pass in the end zone for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Tight end Jake Butt’s recent ACL tear could spark a domino effect within the Michigan offense.

As a freshman, Butt was a wonderful surprise at tight end, catching 20 passes for 235 yards, and most of all, allowing Devin Funchess to spend much of his time at wide receiver.

While Butt will probably undergo corrective surgery and miss most of the upcoming season,  Michigan will be without an experienced pass-catch tight end if Funchess remains at wide receiver. 

A.J Williams is solid as a run-only tight end, but that doesn’t solve the problem.

Nussmeier speaks out

New U-M offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier addressed the tight end problem even before Butt’s injury. “So it’s very important that we do have depth there and we do have guys who can do what we want to do.”

One part of the solution would bring Funchess back to tight end especially when the Wolverines are in two tight end sets.

But that would leave a void at wide receiver.  The Wolverines lose Jeremy Gallon, Drew Dileo, Joe Reynolds and Jeremy Jackson to graduation. Michigan has plenty of depth, even though Funchess (49) and Jehu Chesson (15) are the only Wolverines with more than six catches.

So here are the options.  Head coach Brady Hoke  could bring along 2013 pre-season starter Amara Darboh (who missed all of  last season with a foot injury), Jaron Dukes, DeMario Jones, Csonte York and even freshmen Drake Harris and Freddy Canteen.

Gardner rumored to switch

The other option, which has been fueled by rumors, bloggers and Hoke himself,  moves Devin Gardner back to wide receiver and insert sophomore Shane Morris, freshman Wilton Speight or possibly Russell Bellomy at quarterback.

Never mind that Gardner completed 208 of 345 passes with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for 246.7 yards-per-game at a 60.3  percentage rate.  Its true there are quarterbacks who have put up better numbers, but you have to consider Michigan’s sub-par running game, and that Gardner was forced to often  throw off balance because of a relentless pass rush.

Whether he’s saying it just to motivate his forces, or he’s really sincere,  Hoke is not balking at a quarterback change.

"“I think we were seven and six as a football team,” Hoke told  “We have a lot of young guys who are on this team that are making progress.  Russell Bellomy is back in the mix.  Wilton Speight came in here in January.  So his learning curve will be pretty good.  Devin will practice, he will be limited a little bit until that thing is 100%.  He has got the boot off like you said, so he is making progress and feeling pretty good about it.  We’ve got a lot of competition, Hoke added  “Now does Devin have the most experience – yes.  There is no question.”"

And there’s also no question that spring practice is going to be quite interesting.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Joel Greer