The Michigan Wolverines will be looking for a bounce-back season in 2014 after suffering a disappointing 2013 campaign. Brady Hoke is under some pressure to start delivering wins in Ann Arbor and needs his offense to start picking up the slack a bit next fall. But that plan faces a serious roadblock this offseason after sophomore-to-be tight end Jake Butt tore his ACL in winter workouts, delivering a major blow to the offense in 2014.
Butt proved that he could be a contributing force for the Michigan offense during his freshman season, finishing third on the team with 20 receptions for 235 yards and two touchdowns. He figured to see an expanded role in two tight end sets with junior Devin Funchess as the Wolverines worked on overcoming their severe lack of experience in the receiving corps. Five of the top eight pass-catchers from 2013 were seniors, including Jeremy Gallon who accounted for 38 percent of the team’s total receptions and 43 percent of their receiving yards last season.
Michigan has just one wide receiver, sophomore Jehu Chesson, coming back in 2014 that caught more than six passes last season or scored a touchdown (he caught 15 for 221 and one touchdown). Butt offered one of the few experienced options in the passing game for Hoke and whoever comes out ahead in Michigan’s quarterback competition this spring. Without him, the Wolverines will have to get even younger and more inexperienced in the passing game, putting pressure on some untested Michigan receivers to step up next fall.
There has been no word on when Butt will undergo surgery to repair his ACL and so no timetable is set for his return to the Michigan lineup. In all likelihood, the Wolverines will be without him for the entire 2014 season. Will his loss sink the Michigan offense next fall?