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Michigan Needs More Playmakers To Step Up

No doubt, you hear at every turn about how bad Michigan's defense is. It's such an obvious problem for the Wolverines that even Eastern Michigan made a point of picking on sophomore cornerback Boubacar Cissoko in Michigan's 45-17 win. But the loss to Michigan State really should make another glaring deficiency clear to everyone--aside from freshman quarterback Tate Forcier, Michigan really doesn't have any consistent playmakers. And until more players step up for Michigan--and not just on defense--Michigan is not going to return to their elite status in college football or the Big Ten, and they certainly will not earn back the respect of the college football nation.

Frankly, it's sad that a freshman has to carry Michigan this year, but that's exactly what's happening. Sure, Carlos Brown has turned in amazing performances on the ground in a couple games and Donovan Warren has come up with some much-needed defensive stops. But other than Forcier, there is not one player who shows up every single week and plays an integral part in Michigan's winning games. There is not one guy whom fans know is Forcier's go-to guy in the passing game, no receiver who has stood out as incredibly reliable. Without Forcier, Michigan's season would look a lot like last year's, just with better ability to hold onto the ball. He's like the Tim Tebow of Michigan, determined to will the team to victories all on his own...just with a less-determined, or maybe even less-talented, supporting cast.

Partially, the lack of playmakers over the past year and a half is due to injuries--as soon as Brandon Minor gets any hype, he's back on the sidelines just as quickly because of a wrist or ankle injury, for example. But whatever the reason is, one person cannot win games for Michigan every week and single-handedly restore them to college football glory. You can say whatever you want about why Michigan is now 4-1, but the base reason is that the entire MSU game was on Forcier--to the point of almost all the yards gained in the game coming from him somehow, be it his arm or feet. I don't care how poised the kid is--he needs some help, or else Michigan is going 7-5 or 6-6 when they could just as easily have gone 10-2. The Big Ten lacks a clear favorite this year, so the door was wide open for Michigan to be that surprise team to grab the conference title. But at 1-1 in the conference now, it's suddenly even more of a pipe dream than it was before. Worse yet, if you thought MSU could play defense (all of a sudden)? Iowa's next on the schedule, and Michigan is facing down a probable 1-2 start in the Big Ten.

The last time Michigan was a Big Ten and national title contender, they had several guys absolutely any college football fan--not just Michigan ones--could list who made important plays on a regular basis: Chad Henne, Mike Hart, Mario Manningham, Adrian Arrington, Shawn Crable, Terrence Taylor and so on. Right now, no one outside of Wolverine nation talks about crucial plays by any Wolverine on a regular basis except Forcier. True, a lot of these guys are underclassmen (which didn't stop Henne, Hart and Manningham). But they have to start stepping up and doing things that get their names out there, or else those Michigan fans who want to see the Wolverines contending for any kind of title next year will find themselves incredibly disappointed.

-Ren Simon

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