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Monday, August 25, 2008
Michigan offensive backfield still blurry

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The man who will take the first snap for Michigan in the Rich Rodriguez era remains a mystery. So does the guy who will take the first handoff.

Rodriguez listed no definitive starter at either running back or quarterback on his depth chart for the season opener against Utah, which was released Monday.

It's no surprise that an "OR" separates quarterbacks Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan, but true freshmen running backs Sam McGuffie and Michael Shaw also have the same designation. It's significant that both true freshmen were listed ahead of veterans Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown on the depth chart, showing Rodriguez's confidence in his young skill players, who might better fit his system than the returnees.

We aren't the only ones wondering who will start under center.

"I don't know who the quarterback is," junior wide receiver Greg Mathews said Monday. "I just try in practice to go with both of them, to get my timing down with both of them because you never know. One could go in there and throw a couple interceptions and then you have to bring the next one in. You have to be prepared for everything."

Mathews said both quarterbacks have been practicing with the first-team offense, as is the case for most of Michigan's skill players. Though the offense won't be huddling nearly as much as in years past, both quarterbacks have shown different styles of leadership so far.

"Nick's definitely a comedian," Mathews said. "He's the funniest kid ever. He just likes to keep everybody loose and joke around. Steven Threet, he's more of a serious guy, but I enjoy both of them."

This is notable because Mathews isn't the first player to describe the two quarterbacks in this manner.

Sheridan is the former walk-on with no recruiting hype who most thought would never come close to having a chance to start at quarterback, but he seems loose and confident. Threet is the guy projected to win the job all along. He's got the size, received a decent amount of recruiting attention coming out of high school and has some familiarity running the spread. But an all-business approach could be a sign of nervousness.

Here's how starting right tackle Stephen Schilling described the two when we talked last week.

"Nick might be a little more relaxed, laid back, trying to find guys. Steve's a little more serious. But they both want to work hard and they both want to bring a lot of energy to the huddle."

Other Wolverines depth chart notes include: