With Michigan’s Spring game in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to make some bold and ridiculous assertions based on what was seen. There are always first team players running with the second team, no name guys making huge plays, and lots and lots of punting drills. All of these things get blown way out of proportion as everyone tries to figure out what it all means. Did our All-American linebacker get replaced by a freshman tennis player? Is this the year Boris Van Leadfoot breaks into the starting lineup? If our base offense going to be run out of the punt formation? Spring games generally give very little insight into what is going on in the program, but that doesn’t stop fans from claiming their team is going to the National Championship because of that one pass they saw that one guy throw. So without further ado: FOOTBALL THINGS
Let’s start with the good
Michigan’s cornerbacks looked great on Saturday. Rising sophomore Jourdan Lewis came away from the game with two interceptions and showed impressive recovery and press coverage skills. Returning starters Blake Countess and Ramon Taylor, who were decent last year, might want to watch out as Lewis and super freshman Jabrill Peppers are trying to find playing time as well. It will be interesting to see who marches out there August 30th against Appalachian State. With the nickel package being so prevalent in college football, it’s likely that Peppers may see time at the nickel with Lewis coming in to spell guys. Too many good cornerbacks is a good problem to have.
Also impressing was true freshman Freddy Canteen. Canteen showed the speed and quickness to get behind the defense for some big plays, something Michigan’s offense could definitely use. Coming in it looked like Canteen was destined for the slot, but with good height (6’1) and speed, he could play on the outside opposite Devin Funchess. Again, this was just a spring game, but seeing Canteen making plays with the first team is a good sign. The pressure is on returning guys Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh to make enough of an impact in practice to unseat the freshman Canteen. Darboh was slated to start last season before a foot injury left him on the sidelines for the year.
Not so good things
I’m willing to give the quarterbacks a pass because they are learning a new system at the most important position on the field. Devin Gardner went 2/8 with two interceptions and Shane Morris wasn’t much better. It’s also difficult to throw when being pursued by 1,000 pounds of dudes on every play. The offensive line seems to still be a mess, with true freshman(!) Mason Cole playing with the ones at left tackle. Cole, like most of the offensive line, just seemed outmatched and pressure on the quarterbacks was constant. If you watched five seconds of Michigan football last year…this sounds familiar to you. Michigan will only go as far as their offensive line takes them, so here’s to hoping that Michigan gets everything straightened out in the next five months.
What does it all mean???
As said before, spring games don’t typically mean a whole lot. But it’s all we’ve got man, so we just have to go with it. If Michigan’s secondary can make the leap that was witnessed in the spring game and the defensive line can find a way to get into the backfield, then we’ve got a borderline elite unit on our hands. The corners should be very good and the linebackers will be solid, but not spectacular. Frank Clark is poised for a breakout year (again) and could be the key to the defense. On the offensive side of the ball…I don’t even have to finish this sentence. Michigan has got to be able to block somebody. Gardner will be fine, the running backs will be fine, the receivers will be fine, but none of that matters if Michigan can’t keep people out of the backfield. Those guys will decide if Michigan is looking at another 7-6 season or if they make it to a BCS bowl game. The Wolverine’s have the talent to win the Big Ten, but first they have to get back to the fundamentals.