Sunday, April 15, 2012
Spring Game Questions? How Will Michigan Be In The Fall?
Ok, so 1 short paragraph about the alumni game. Granted, it was raining for most of it but that didn't diminish the enthusiasm that all of the alumni players had. The Blue team clearly outshone the Maize squad, and even when the Maize squad tried to make a comeback, they were uniformly answered by the Blue team. I was unaware Cato June could still move like that!
Onto the major topic at hand. While some of the things I saw yesterday defined progress, I was left with some questions that hopefully will be solved by summer and fall.
1. I'm sure everyone was aware of Denard's lack of playing time and production in the game. Part of this was done on purpose, with Hoke telling him earlier in the spring that if he fumbled one snap, or threw one interception, he would be benched for the rest of the game. Key is he said fumble. Not to say that's a prediction or a prophecy of the upcoming season, but it is worrisome. I, just like everyone else, have heard the rumors of Denard having great spring practices, and working hard on not throwing off his front foot (which we all know leads to disaster almost every time). However, I still am leery. Denard looks to be in great shape and seems to have added muscle onto his wiry frame so hopefully that will help him absorb punishment in the season ahead. Devin Gardner is another story--an enigma really. The incumbent backup to Denard was not on time with his throws yesterday, and seemed uncomfortable being rushed out of the pocket. Last year Russell Bellomy was a freshman, and I honestly have to say that I was impressed with most of his throws. Now granted, he doesn't have the experience that Gardner has yet, but he looked very much in command. He even showed a little bit of skill escaping a collapsing pocket. Overall, I think Bellomy had the better game but I think it's going to take a lot more than that to supplant Gardner as Denard's backup.
2. Defense! Just some musings about the impressions I was left with. I said in a previous article that Floyd and Countess needed to step up. They appeared to do just that, especially with the interception that Countess caught. I was intrigued by Will Campbell, Craig Roh, and Jibreel Black. If they're able to continue the pressure on the quarterback, and cut through the blocks to get there as I saw, I really don't see much of a downward spiral from Martin, Van Bergen, and Heininger leaving.
3. I wasn't excited by Gibbons as our kicker. Yes, he was our de facto hero from the Sugar Bowl, but Matt Wile looked much more impressive with his leg on kicks before the game, and the lone field goal he attempted during it. The kicking game has been somewhat cringing in recent years and I don't think Gibbons will be the full time kicker. Wile needs more experience sure, but as a freshman last year he had some highlights. We need that kickrr to be able to stay close in games against tougher opponents i.e. Alabama.
4. Ah the receivers. Roundtree looked superb, as did Gallon. I saw nothing to separate one TE from another. Maybe Moore can make a go of it, maybe not but that is one position that gives me the willies this season.
5. The offensive line. OK, this one is a head scratcher. What we all saw yesterday was missed assignments and blocks. Quarterback pocket consistently collapsing. Hopefully with our incoming freshman, especially Magnuson and Kalis, we won't see as much penetration as we did on Saturday.
Bottom line, the Sping Game was nice. If they were always a sure indication of how the regular season would go, I'd be one of the best prognosticators around. Things are sure to improve over the summer with the incoming freshman class, and with more time. I will say this...with the rain stopping just before the game started yesterday, it was almost an omen. I'm going to call it the Schembechler effect. I know Bo would not want rain on such an important day for the fans. Feel free to send your feedback, for it is with your comments that we are all more dedicated fans.
Photo Credit: AnnArbor.com