Top 5 Questions Entering Spring Practice

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.

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. Cameron Gordon

(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?

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Grading The Performance: Eastern Michigan


This one is pretty easy. The rushing performance by Denard was great, while the Denard Robinson (16) unleashes a passpassing performance left a lot to be desired. Denard’s 55 yd run really sparked an offense that was stagnant up until that point. The 198 rushing yards that Denard piled up is nothing to sneeze at, even against Eastern Michigan. Denard still has a lot to work on in the passing game though. 95 yds passing and a pick against a lackluster Eastern defense is not something you like to see. Once again Denard’s footwork and fundamentals were spotty leading to passes that were late or overthrown. There were 2 TD passes, but both very easy throws. This marks the second time this season that Denard has thrown for under 100 yds in a game. For much of the game Denard looked like the same passer we saw as a true freshman. From here on out Denard is not going to be able to be as inaccurate as he has been without it costing Michigan games.

Devin Gardner did get in late and had a nice 7 yd run but did not attempt a pass.

Grade: C+

Running Back

This was the best game the backs have had by far. The combined 22 carries is less than most probably expected against an opponent like Eastern, but the backs took advantage of the opportunities they were given. Vincent Smith had a great game bothVincent Smith (2) tackled by an EMU defender running and blocking. Smith has likely played himself ahead of Shaw on the depth chart. Fitz had several very tough runs in his return to the lineup, Hopkins has to be in the doghouse after his short yardage fumble from a week ago. True freshman Thomas Rawls made his debut in a Michigan uniform but did not receive enough carries to judge his performance. Granted it was only Eastern but if Michigan can get this kind of performance out of the backs the rest of the way this offense will be in decent-good shape. The coaches appear to have abandoned the idea of riding one back throughout games.

Grade: B+

Wide Receivers/TEs

Another slow day for the receivers which isn’t a surprise considering how poor the passing game was. Kevin Koger finally recorded his first TD of the season, but the two heroes of the Notre Dame game, Roundtree and Hemingway, didn’t get many chances. The blocking is really all there is to judge the WR core on.

Grade: B

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Grading The Performance: Western Michigan


Not surprisingly Denard Robinson had moments of both good and bad, though there was none of the spectacular plays that we have come to expect from #16. Fitzgerald ToussantOn the plus side Denard seemed more comfortable under center than he did in the spring, he didn’t turn the ball over and his decision making as a passer was good for the most part. Denard threw a picture perfect strike to Gallon on 3rd and 6, a pass that he struggled to complete in the past. On the down side there were several very poor throws made by Denard which were the result of bad footwork. There were under- throws, over-throws, and several passes thrown behind WRs that were caught. There were also several instances where Denard left his receiver out to dry, subjecting them to big hits and potential turnovers down the road. Overall the game management and decision making earn Denard solid marks in his first performance in the new offense, even with the lack of big plays.

Grade: B-

Running Back

The performance by the backs was really a tale of two halves. There wasn’t much running room in the first half and the backs struggled to hit holes and make guys miss. Michigan averaged a measly 4.2ypc going into halftime. That number radically changed in the 2nd half as Fitzgerald Toussaint and Shaw both broke runs of 40+ yards. Michigan finished the game average 7.3ypc with both backs flashing the kind of big play ability the offense has missed. The backs also did a good job of blocking, both in pass protection and lead blocking for Denard on designed runs.

Grade: B+

Wide Receivers/TEs

It was a mostly uneventful day for the receivers as there were only 13 passes thrown in the game. Roundtree and Hemmingway both bailed out Denard Robinson on bad throws and the receivers as a whole did a good job of catching the ball. Koger had 2 nice grabs, including one in traffic which got him hammered. Both the TEs and WRs did a good job of run blocking during the game. Tough to praise or criticize a unit that didn’t get asked to do very much.

Grade: B

Offensive Line

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