Central Michigan Game Prediction

Finally the incredibly long off season is over, and Team 134 is ready to take the field. While many have been saying the 2014 season will be the one where Brady Hoke has a full compliment of "his" players and will finally be removed from the speed bump known as the Rich Rod era, this team should hardly be discounted. Devin Gardner - 11

There has been a continual building of talent since Brady took over in January 2011. With only 15 seniors, the talent on this team is obviously young but it’s top notch.

While Michigan is replacing 3 OL, with all due respect to Team 133, it will be an upgrade, at least at some point in the season. Jack Miller, Graham Glasglow and Kyle Kalis, look to bolster subpar line play, and bookend tackles Lewan and Schofield might just be the best tandem in the country.

The stable of running backs harken back to the days of Bo stomping the sidelines, with several potential great backs toting the leather this fall. Fitz Touissant will be the first, and if OC AL Borges has his way, will carry the lion share of the load. Drake Johnson, fresh off his redshirt, comes in after impressive bowl practices and spring camp, looking for carries, as do true freshman Derrick Green and Deveon Smith, both among the nations top tailbacks.

Jeremy Gallon has grown into QB Devin Gardner’s favorite target, and with the fall camp injury to likely #2 Amara Darboh, there are some questions as to who will step up. I believe RS Freshman Jehu Chesson will be that guy . He has the talent, but is still somewhat raw. Speed is one of his strengths however, so stretching the field at 6’3 is a good thing.

While QB is a position of strength for Team 134, depth isn’t there. Many close to the program have raved about Devin Gardner’s ability to make plays. He has great talent, but still only has 5 career starts under his belt. Shane Morris coming in as a true freshman has obvious 5* talent, but needs to learn the offense, and hasn’t played much in a year since missing a large part of his senior year of HS with mono.

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2014 Recruiting – What’s Next? (Offense)

Michigan inked a very impressive 2013 recruiting class and the 2014 class in starting to take shape as well. So far the Maize and Blue have verbal commitments from Wilton Speight (3* QB – Virginia), Drake Harris (5* WR – Michigan), Maurice Ways (3* WR – Michigan), Ian Bunting (4* TE – Illinois), Mason Cole (4* OG – Florida), Michael Ferns (4* LB – Ohio) and Brian Mone (4* DT – Utah). The Wolverines also picked-up Brady Pallante (NR DT – Florida), who received a greyshirt offer, which means he’ll count against either the 2014 class or the 2015 class depending on how the numbers shake out. NOTE: Juwan Bushell-Beatty (3* OL – New Jersey) committed on 4/29.

Quarterback (1)

Wilton Speight – 6’6” 220lbs. Richmond, VA.Wilton Speight - Richmond Times-Dispatch

Running Backs (1)

Talented depth is being built, but it is also young and unproven depth at this point. I could see the staff taking one RB in this class, but it wouldn’t be all bad if they missed out mainly because the 2015 has a few big time prospects that love Michigan.

Dravon Henry – 5’11” 180 lbs. Aliquippa, PA. Dravon is a longish shot at this point and has a top 4 schools of Ohio State, Pitt, PSU and West Virginia. He did however say that this list could change and is somewhat fluid. IF he visits UM there’s a shot there, but I just don’t see it at this point.

Jonathan Hilliman – 6’1” 210lbs. Jersey City, NJ. Hilliman just released his list of top 10 schools, with a top 3(in order) of Ohio State, Michigan and Alabama. He had planned on visiting in the spring, but nothing has been set in stone yet. If he does indeed visit, Michigan should be there until the end.

Joe Mixon – 6’0” 195lbs. Oakley, CA. Mixon is one of the most heavily recruited kids in the country regardless of position with somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 offers. He recently cut that list to a more convenient 16 which includes Michigan. He will likely take all of his officials and wait until the all-star games in January to decide. Michigan’s chances in snagging Mixon will again come down to whether or not he makes it to Ann Arbor.

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2013 Offensive Depth Chart Preview

With the 2012 season wrapping up this weekend, it’s time to take a way too early look at the 2013 projected depth chart for the Wolverines with some analysis. Note: The only iDevin Gardner - UMGoBlue.comncoming freshmen that I will include in the depth chart are Shane Morris and Jake Butt.

QB: 1. Devin Gardner – Senior

2. Shane Morris – Freshman

3. Russell Bellomy – RS Sophomore

Analysis: Gardner returns for his fourth season as a Wolverine after starting the second half of 2012 at the QB spot following Denard Robinson’s injury. Gardner’s skill set opens up a more vertical passing game that the Wolverines became accustomed to with Robinson at the helm. Gardner has also shown the ability to make teams pay with his feet and should be the future of the position if he is granted a fifth season, something Coach Brady Hoke seems optimistic about. Shane Morris will be the second best quarterback on the roster talent wise, but don’t expect to see him in mop-up duty– that role will fall on Bellomy’s shoulders. However, should Gardner get hurt, expect to see Morris step in as the starter, ready or not.

RB: 1. Fitzgerald Toussaint – RS Senior

2. Thomas Rawls – Junior

3. Justice Hayes – RS Sophomore

4. Dennis Norfleet – Sophomore

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Top 5 Fall Position Battles

Left-Guard

ContendersElliott Mealer

SR. Elliott Mealer

RS. Soph. Joey Burzynski

FR. Kyle Kalis 

Micheal Schofield’s move to right tackle left a giant hole at LG. The good news is that whoever fills the position will be teamed with Michigan’s best offensive lineman Taylor Lewan. The bad news, the coaches are choosing between a career backup, a walk-on, and a true freshman. Elliott Mealer has the most experience of the 3, but was exclusively regulated to mop up duty. Joey Burzynski received a ton of praise from the coaches in the spring, and was actually the starter at LG for the spring game. Kyle Kalis is by far the most talented of the bunch, but he’s a true freshman whose head will probably be spinning for much of camp.

Split End, Wide-Receiver

Contenders

RS. Soph Jerald Robinson 

JR. Jeremy Jackson 

JR. Ricardo Miller 

FR. Amara Darboh 

FR. Jehu Chesson 

This spot would have surely been filled by Darryl Stonum had he not been dismissed from the team. The battle for who lines up across from Roy Roundtree will be one of the most hottest contested position battles in camp. Robinson was the talk of the spring but has done very little in his career at Michigan. The same is true of Jeremy Jackson and Ricardo Miller, who both entered Michigan with a lot of hype. Both of the true freshmen WRs should redshirt, but Michigan simply does not have enough depth to allow it.

Running Back

Contenders

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Grading The Performance: Ohio

Quarterback

Players at Michigan are ultimately judged by how they perform against Ohio. While all position groups have to deal with an added level of expectation against the Buckeyes, no position group endures more pressure than the QBs. QBs are judged above all else by their record and performance against Ohio. For much of the last decade Michigan fans have seen their QB’s outperformed by their Buckeye counterparts. Names like Krenzel, Smith, and Pryor have made more plays in the clutch and fewer critical mistakes than Wolverine QBs. Over the last decade Ohio QBs have outperformed Michigan’s QBs, until Saturday.

Denard Robinson rose to the occasion on Saturday and simply willed the Wolverines to victory. Every time the Buckeyes made a play to take the lead or tie the game, Denard came right back to make a play of his own. Denard performed at the highest of levels on the biggest of stages; became a legend in the process. During one stretch of the game, Robinson completed 11 straight passes and was the most accurate that he’s been this season. The most impressive part of Robinson’s performance, from a passing standpoint, was that he was the most accurate while making the most difficult throws. Denard threw a perfect 15 yd corner route to Drew Dileo that would have gone for a TD had Dileo stayed on his feet. Denard also hit Junior Hemingway on a perfect strike between a safety and a corner. Denard made the difficult throws look easy, something that seems truly amazing when you think back of the season. In addition, Denard showed a tremendous amount of patience before hitting Odoms for a TD. There were no back foot, chuck the ball up for grabs plays, the kind that have gotten Denard into trouble all season. Denard was dialed in from the first snap and amazing enough continued to elevate his level of play throughout the game.

On the ground, Denard ran harder and with more decisiveness than he has since arriving at Michigan. There was only one play where Denard hesitated instead of making up his mind and taking off. Denard burned Nebraska last week with his scrambling ability and he did the same to the Buckeyes this week. Anytime Ohio vacated its LBs from the middle of the field, Denard took off which was great to see. Denard also did a great job on the zone read, an area that he has struggled with his whole career. Denard was determined not to let Michigan lose and he ran like it.

The only imperfections on the day for Denard Robinson were the two balls he put on the ground. On the first play Robinson was ruled down. On the second, Ohio got the ball in Michigan territory and scored a few plays later.

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