Michigan officially kicks off spring practice on March 17th, with the spring game to follow on April 14th. The Wolverines suffered several key losses on both sides of the ball and while a core of veterans return off of last year’s 11-2 squad, there are several key questions heading into spring camp.
(Not in order)
1. Who starts at center?
Remington Award winner David Molk graduates leaving behind a gaping hole at center. An underrated position, centers are critical in making calls at the line, changing protections, and snapping the ball. The first series against Virginia Tech demonstrated how valuable David Molk was to the Michigan offense. 3 players will now vie for the starting role as Ricky Barnum moves from guard to center, joining Senior Rocko Khoury and Redshirt Freshman Jack Miller.
2. Who steps up outside at WR?
Big play Junior Hemmingway is gone, as is Odoms and Daryl Stonum. While Roy Roundtree returns he is still better suited at the slot position than outside. Someone has to step up and take over the role of go-to guy on the outside. Denard Robinson probably isn’t going to stop chucking up jump balls so someone will need to make plays on the ball in the air downfield. Juniors Jeremy Jackson and Jerald Robinson are the most likely candidates as they are really the only outside guys on the depth chart. Rumor has it that Cam Gordon asked to move to WR. Cam played WR in HS as well as his first season at Michigan before moving to defense.
3. What kind of production will there be from the DTs?
3 seniors depart from the defensive line and DT is the position that will be hit the hardest. Numerous questions surround all the names vying for the starting DT positions. After 4 long years Will Campbell has no one in front of him. Can he be a consistent playmaker at NT? Converted guard Quinton Washington has no fewer question marks than Campbell. The announced move of Jibreel Black to DT is interesting. It speaks to both the lack of overall depth at the position and possibly a lack of faith in the players currently occupying the position. Richard Ash and Ken Wilkins will also push for playing time this spring.
4. Are any of the early enrollees capable of contributing?
LB Joe Bolden and FS Jarrod Wilson will both be in advantageous positions. Free safety and WILL (Weak Side) LB are positions that aren’t secure heading into either the spring or fall. An increase in talent is needed across the board defensively, but those two positions especially are ripe for the taking. How quickly Bolden, Wilson, and fellow early enrollee Kaleb Ringer pick up the system and adapt to the speed and physicality of D1 football will determine how soon they will be ready to play.
5. Will Michigan get anything from the TE position?
The loss of Kevin Koger could end up being the most impactful for the offense, even more than David Molk. Koger was critical in Michigan’s ability to run the ball effectively, particularly from the shotgun. Unlike at center where there are multiple options with experience, the TE position has major talent and experience questions. Brandon Moore is the most experienced of the bunch but he enters his 5th year without having pushed for a starting role. Ricardo Miller came in as a heavily touted recruit but did not readily take to the TE position. Miller is more suited for catching passes than assisting in the run game so while he probably has the most talent, his skills don’t match up to what Michigan needs most of from its starting TE. Coach Hoke recently announced that defensive linemen Jordan Paskorz was moving to TE. Paskorz played some TE in HS but the move seems to be purely based on upgrading depth at the position.