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: 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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Grading The Performance: Illinois

Quarterback

The QBs really didn’t have to do much in this game thanks to the play of the RBs. Denard opened up the game red hot going 6-6 through the air. Some of the same bad habits that have gotten him into trouble all season crept back in after the hot start. When pressured, Denard went back to throwing off his back foot and had accuracy issues as a result, as well as several poor decision with the football.

The pass to Koger down the sideline in the 2nd quarter should have been a TD, but it was under thrown, Koger had to wait on the ball, and the defender had time to catch up. There were also several passes that should have been picked off, but were dropped. Ball security was also an issue, as Denard put the ball on the ground several times. Denard did do some nice things in the run game and made better reads on the zone read than he has in recent games.

Devin Gardner played reasonably well in relief action after Denard was knocked out of the game. Unlike Denard, Devin has a knack for throwing on the run as his best two passes came on plays where he left or stepped up in the pocket.

Grade: C+

Running Back

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The Blueprint To Filling Out The 2012 Class

With 18 commits for the 2012 class so far and the final number more than likely 26, numbers are starting to become very, very tight. Here is my Gunner Kiel - SI.comlist of kids that we are still recruiting to fill out the class.

Quarterbacks (Wanting 1?)

With Maty Mauk giving his pledge to Missouri, Michigan is down to two offered quarterbacks who are showing interest.

1. Gunner Kiel. Most have him down to Alabama, Indiana (yes I said Indiana), and Oklahoma. Rumors of a second visit have not yet come to fruition. Not looking very good here.

2. Devin Fuller. Devin is a very explosive athlete who wants a chance to play quarterback in college. Michigan is recruiting him as an athlete, but would get a shot as a signal caller.

Running Backs/Fullbacks (Wanting 1 of each?)

With no running back standing out in the current roster the Wolverines do need a back that will be able to carry the rock around 25 times a game. And that back does need a true fullback leading the way. I’m not a huge fan of giving a fullback a scholly unless he is a very, very good one. And unless we can snag Bri’onte Dunn or Greg Garmon, I’m all for passing on a running back this class in favor of an extra DL, WR or OL.

1. Bri’onte Dunn. The long time Buckeye verbal continues to reiterate his commitment to them. Unless OSU receives MAJOR (USC like) sanctions no one should hold their breath here. Until those penalties are handed down Dunn will remain “open” and make some additional visits. He will be back to AA for the Notre Dame game.

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2. Greg Garmon. A very explosive back who visited Michigan a few weeks back. Garmon keeps his recruitment rather tight and continues to name North Carolina his leader.

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Crystal Ballin’ UM’s 2012 Recruiting Class

Here is my first guess on how I believe the recruiting class might look like at the end of the season. Remember recruiting is very fluid and the final list will probably look very different. At this point I have Michigan at 18 scholarships with the Cullen Christian and DJ Williamson transfers. This number will likely grow to around 20-22 when all is said and done, but for this list I’ll keep it at 20 prospects. Again, this is purely my guess at this point in the game and February is a long ways away.

1. QB – Tyler O’Connor. No offer as of yet, but since the Pike commit to Auburn things have been heating up.

2. WR – Malik Gilmore. Wants to visit Michigan and ND.

3. TE – Devin Funchess. Michigan Commit.

4. TE – A.J. Williams. Michigan Commit.

5. TE – Ron Thompson. Even with Funchess and Williams in the fold, I think Michigan takes him.

6. OT/OG – Ben Braden. Michigan Commit.

7. OG – Caleb Stacey. Michigan Commit.

8. OT – Jordan Diamond. Has stated for quite some time now that Michigan is on top.

9. OT – Erik Magnuson. Has Michigan in his top 3 along with Miami and Oregon.

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