Jake Butt injury makes Wolverines' offense even more unclear

Jake Butt injury makes Wolverines' offense even more unclear
February 13, 2014, 5:15 pm
Share This Post
Vinnie Duber

The news Thursday was that Michigan tight end Jake Butt is out indefinitely after tearing his ACL.

But the effect of his injury adds to the snowball rolling down the hill of uncertainty for the Wolverines' offense.

"Jake's done a tremendous job since he's been here," Michigan head coach Brady Hoke in a statement following the Butt injury. "He's worked extremely hard and gained a lot of weight to become the complete tight end, he wants to be. I think he showed flashes of that towards the end of last season. This is a tough break, but because of his work ethic and attitude, the kind of young man he is, we know he will be back as soon as he can and as strong as ever."

Butt was Michigan's third-leading receiver last season, catching 20 passes for 235 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Hoke hopes Butt will be back for the upcoming campaign this fall. But there are plenty of Wolverines who won't be back. Gone is coordinator Al Borges, replaced by Doug Nussmeier. Gone is leading rusher Fitzgerald Toussaint. Gone is leading receiver Jeremy Gallon.

[MORE: Big Ten's biggest houses lead NCAA football attendance]

Throw in Butt's injury and what Hoke has announced as a quarterback competition between Devin Gardner, Shane Morris and whoever else, and what this offense will look like in the 2014 season is anything but clear.

At quarterback, Gardner seemed to have a good year last season, though he was too often hit by opposing defenders and therefore had his running ability limited toward season's end. Morris started the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, but he didn't have a good game in his first collegiate start. The running game was abysmal all season, with only Purdue rushing for a lower average than Michigan, and the only at-times reliable Toussaint is moving on. Such is the case, too, for Gallon, meaning tight end Devin Funchess is the only one of the team's four leading receivers who figures to be back come the season-opener against Appalachian State on Aug. 30.

That means new coordinator Nussmeier has a tall task. He might be breaking in a completely new set of playmakers while also trying to restructure the offense as a whole.