Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tight Ends Preview: Michigan vs. Virginia Tech

Kevin Koger looks dapper in a suit that he stole from my closet.  He can keep the tie, though.
(image via Michigan Daily)

Senior Kevin Koger finished the season with 21 receptions for 235 yards (11.2 yards per catch) and 4 touchdowns.  Koger has had an up-and-down career after earning the starting TE job as a true freshman in 2008.  He has alternated amazing catches (see the 2009 Western Michigan game) with a frustrating number of drops.  However, he's a solid and willing blocker who can be effective in the running game as an in-line blocker or in open space.
Backups: Fifth year senior Steve Watson has been the second tight end for most of the season.  Watson has previously played outside linebacker and defensive end, too, before switching back to TE prior to the 2011 season; Watson's only career reception was a 9-yard touchdown against Northwestern.  Redshirt junior Brandon Moore also caught 1 pass for 9 yards this season, but not for a touchdown.  Moore is used mostly in short yardage and goal line situations.

 Fifth year senior Chris Drager is a 6'4", 264 lb. former defensive end.  He started 11 games at defensive end in 2010 (stats: 34 tackles, 2 sacks) before switching to offense during the offseason.  As one might expect from a former defensive player, he's a solid blocker, although his 14 total receptions for 186 yards (13.3 yards per catch) and 2 touchdowns aren't too imposing.
Backups: Redshirt sophomore Eric Martin is a 6'2", 269 lb. blocking tight end with 2 catches for 17 yards (8.5 yards per catch) and 1 touchdown.  Randall Dunn and George George (no, that's not a typo) have combined for 3 receptions, 47 yards, and 1 touchdown.

The edge in athleticism goes to Kevin Koger, who not only has better stats but fits Michigan's spread-ish offense well and can get in the way downfield.  Koger also has the ability to stretch the field with his above average speed.  The Hokies' tight ends have a size advantage (all three Michigan tight ends are between 255-258 lbs.) and are effective blockers for running back David Wilson.  Since it's tough to gauge blocking ability compared to receiving skills, I think a slight edge goes to . . .
Advantage: Michigan

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