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Michigan’s receivers pose challenge for Hawkeyes

[ 1 ] October 13, 2010 |

Tyler Sash, right, and his Iowa defensive teammates will have their hands full against Michigan's passing game on Saturday. (Andrea Melendez/The Register)

The depth of Michigan’s receiving corps is impressive.

Tyler Sash, starting strong safety for the Iowa football team, will tell you the Wolverines’ diversity is even more imposing.

“There’s some big guys. There’s some little, shifty guys — all different kinds of guys,” Sash said. “They’re some of the best receivers we’ve seen all year, very dynamic. Once they get the ball in their hands, they can get into the end zone.”

Sash’s glowing remarks will probably do little to raise the profile of Michigan’s pass catchers, though. That’s because much of the buildup for Saturday’s showdown in Ann Arbor, Mich., is centered on Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson.

The 6-foot, 193-pound sophomore created a national stir while rushing for 991 yards in six games, while completing 67.2 percent of his passes for 1,223 yards.

“He puts pressure on you,” Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz said, “because you may think he’s going to run it, and then he pulls up and throws it down the field.”

Robinson’s potential targets will also present matchup challenges for Iowa’s secondary.

• Roy Roundtree, a 6-foot, 176-pound sophomore, leads Michigan with 31 catches and 385 yards. He’s undersized, but has a knack for making catches over the middle.

• Darryl Stonum, a 6-2, 196-pound junior, recorded three receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns against Massachusetts. He averages 20.5 yards as a kick returner.

• Kelvin Grady, 5-10, 176-pound junior, was a member of the Wolverines’ basketball team from 2007-09, and played in the NCAA Tournament. He earned his first letter as a football player last fall.

• Junior Hemingway, a 6-1, 225-pound junior, is teased by teammates for being built like a tight end. He’s struggled with injuries, but scored on a 70-yard catch and run at Indiana.

Martavious Odoms, a 5-8 junior, will miss Saturday’s game after suffering a broken foot against Michigan State. His absence will create more opportunities for Jeremy Jackson, Je’Ron Stokes, Terrence Robinson and Jeremy Gallon.

“I’m trying to think of the last time we saw Michigan without good receivers,” Ferentz said. “They’ve got a bunch of guys that can run around and make plays, so it’s kind of ‘choose your poison.’ ”

Mix in Robinson’s mobility, and it’s a potentially toxic combination.

If Sash creeps closer to the line of scrimmage, it could create an opening for the Wolverines’ offense.

“For me personally, it’s going to come down to reading your keys and playing from there,” Sash said. “It’s going to be tough, obviously, with a dual-threat guy like (Denard Robinson).

“We’re going to have to be on our toes the whole game.”

For cornerback Shaun Prater, it means more one-on-one matchups.

“You’ll have to stick with them longer since (Robinson) is scrambling,” Prater said. “He’s a quarterback who can always make something happen with his feet or his arm.”

The Wolverines are looking to make amends after a series of dropped passes during last week’s 34-17 loss to the Spartans.

“There’s nothing that happened on Saturday that isn’t fixable,” Grady said. “We’ll take care of it as a unit and as a team. We’re going to move forward.”

Grady and his fellow receivers hope to seize the moment against Iowa.

“They’ve got a great defense,” he said. “We know what we need to do. We need to get it together.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Andrew Logue: Andrew has been with the Des Moines Register for 19 years, covering everything from preps to Hawkeye and Cyclone sports, as well as the Drake Relays. View author profile.

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