to play football, not to play trumpet
Today was Student Appreciation day at the OSU spring practice. Students and their siblings were allowed to watch the practice. While I hate OSU, this is something Michigan should be doing instead of pissing their students off and taking advantage of them every chance they get.
Sam Webb had a tweet about 2015 local OT/OG Kyonta Stallworth. Kyonta committed to Dantonio and MSU in Dec. 2013. He also has an offer from Alabama. Kyonta visited Michigan's practices for two times, most recently today for the Spring Game.
Detroit King OL Kyonta Stallworth at #Michigan's spring game. 2nd Michigan practice in about 3 weeks— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) April 5, 2014
Given some 2015 OL targets have drifted away (for example, Sterling Jenkins), it may be a good idea to check out our backyard, and obviously our coaches are doing just that. It will be interesting to see if M offers him, and if M can flip him from Sparty.
I now see why there is talk of a QB competition (notice I said competition, NOT controversy). Basically from what I see, Gardner is the same QB and Morris has improved some. So it's not that Devin has gotten worse or Shane has gotten SO much better. But if you thought Devin was a 7 of 10 last year and Morris was a 5 of 10. Devin is still a 7 and Morris is now a 6 or 6.5.
This is disheartening to me because it's not like Devin has a TON of experience or it's not like he's maxed out his potential. He's basically Taylor Martinez, the same QB for 3 years in a row...only Martinez was NEVER going to get any better with that arm. Gardner has a real shot to be something special.
Morris has improved like you'd expect any freshman to improve...so the fact that Gardner hasn't seemed to improve at least the same "amount" is a bad sign. Speight looks solid for a kid supposed to be in high school.
Both Green and Smith look better...like Morris both seem to have improved as much as you'd expect a freshman to improve. Nothing drastic, but typical from year 1 to year 2. Green got his speed and burst back, it was noticable in the spring practice videos and it was noticable today. I'd be interested to see if either can pass block.
Hayes looks better, but he's got a little too much Mike Shaw "bounce" in him. He's got a gear that neither Green nor Smith have. Could be a nice change of pace back...could be an obvious screen RB candidate. Hopefully Drake Johnson can get back in the mix because 1. he looked really good before his injury and 2. Douglas doesn't look like a B1G player at this point in his career.
Funchess looks the same, just more comfortable at WR. That said, he still drops WAY too many catchable balls. Those are drive killers. Chesson made a really nice catch. I still think Darboh is going to push him. Canteen is as good as advertised, that slot WR spot is his. Norfleet and Bo Dever seem to be your backups there. It looks like we WILL have a slot WR on the field most all the time. It'll be interesting to see if Darboh pushes Chesson to that spot or if one will start (as the #2) and the other will be first off the bench.
My biggest concern at WR is if we have someone who can stretch the field and "take the top off the defense." Hopefully Chesson is that guy (he burnt J. Clark one time on a corner route). We need separation because we don't have a QB accurate enough to use our size and leaping ability at WR to an advantage. For example, our big guys get a step on the DB and the ball needs to be high and we drill the CB in the back or completely overthrow the target. We can't use the height because we can't pinpoint our passes...it makes the extra inches in height and vertical useless. So we need some separation.
Without Butt the data is incomplete. Heitzman is a load...seeing him running pass routes was weird...and funny. Williams seems the same. Not enough reps to make a comment on the FB and H-back guys.
I now see why Mason Cole is the starter...he has solid hands and GREAT feet. He's not strong enough to start, he got bull rushed 2-3 times REALLY bad, but each time he kept his body between the defender and the QB. I suppose that's half the battle. Where David Dawson was getting blown by, Cole was always in position...he just wasn't big or strong enough to handle Clark a couple of times and got knocked back. The kid has a future though. I wouldn't want to run behind him because he's not clearing anyone out of the way...but again, he stays between his guy and the ball. At this point, that's more than just about anyone else.
Stock down on Kyle Kalis. He's just a body out there. He's got all the tools, but he never locks on to anyone...too often he's just swating at guys or grazing guys when he pulls. Whatever happened to the big physical guy that puts people on their ass? F-ing hit someone man! He just be like Lewan in that he locks onto someone and drives them down the DL and starts wiping other guys out in his wake. Lewan use to collapse his man all the way into the NG over the C. Kalis should be able to make a hole with his size and strength.
Stock also down on Dawson. Not sure where the hype about him playing LT came from. He was blown by HORRIBLY at least twice. He really had trouble with our interior OL when he played LG. Seemed confused at times. Still young, but defintiely not ready to play right now.
Bosch and Miller looked exactly the same. Braden looked okay in spots and then Clark flat out OWNED him in other spots. I'm going to miss Schofield's consistency.
It's going to be another long year on the OL. From what I saw, certain guys looked better...but all it takes is ONE guy to mess up. That's what kept happening to us. We'd get 4 guys doing what they were supposed to do and ONE guy would mess up and the whole play would go wrong. And it was almost never the same guy. Hopefully this is just a cohesiveness issue with the new guys just now starting to play together - but after what we saw last year...I'm not holding my breath.
Certain players looked better, the WRs looks very solid, but the fact that Devin has not progressed even a little bit and the OL doesn't look any better gives me no comfort in this offense. I really expected Gardner to take a step forward this year and I was just hoping the OL could at least be decent. I'll keep hope alive, but I'm skeptical after watching today and hearing comments over the spring. A shotgun quick and medium passing game with gashing runs may be our best bet.
***PLEASE AND FEEL FREE TO ADD YOUR THOUGHTS ON SPRING PRACTICE AND THE SPRING SCRIMMAGE***
Clark is a MAN! WHEW That guy is a load. He was fun to watch all afternoon. And I know disclaimers about our OL, but no...he looks even better. His step, his strength, his positioning. They all look better. Beyer doesn't look like anything special, but he looks far from a liability. Craig Roh 2.0.
The interior guys played solid as well. But this is where I do throw up the disclaimer because our interior OL is AWFUL. I mean it's downright putrid. Willie Henry dominated 4-5 players, the other guys looks pretty damn good as well.
All in all, I think this is going to be Hoke's best DL since his first one with Martin, RVB and Heininger. And it has the potential to be better if the RS Sophomores (Wormley, Godin and Strobel) get better along with the RS Freshman (Hurst and Poggi). Toss in Lawrence Marshall and I think we really have something here. Summer will help solidify the SDE spot and we also get Pipkins back inside.
They didn't stand out too much, but that's not a bad thing. They were in position. The depth is coming along as well. Like DL I'm very excited about this group. Ryan is a calming piece in the middle, I just hope he can make plays because at teams he just seems like another Des Morgan. I think he's going to lead the team in tackles but I'm not sure he'll have many of a loss like we're used to seeing.
Despite some (questionable) penalties, I'm VERY impressed. We're going to go 5-6 deep at CB once Peppers arrives. Richardson is in that Douglas boat on offense, Hollowell is "meh" but as the 6th or 7th option, I'll take it.
We're going to be just fine with Countess, Lewis, Taylor, Stribling and Peppers. One hell of a CB lineup too because these guys can PLAY. Lewis and Stribling are routinely in position and they've gotten more confident. I credit Manning with that.
I'll touch on it more, but LOVE Mattison getting back to the more aggressive style. It's not MSU's "force the refs to call pass interference," but it's not "bend, but don't break, take all the cushion you need" either. Finally our CBs are allowed to be physical.
This group is pretty much exactly where I expected them to be. A few flashes, a few "OMG NO!" I just hope they continue to improve. My only concern is Dymonte Thomas. No reason for him not to be improving to the point where he's the clear starter opposite Wilson.
Nonetheless, I think with a summer and a fall camp, they'll be fine.
This will be at worst Hoke's 2nd best defense, it could easily be his best. A big reason is the aggressive nature and energy they're playing with. They're actually fun to watch again unlike last year where they played "not to lose" and tried to just avoid the big play and hope the offense made a mistake.
The biggest difference is the youth on defense is on average about a year older than the youth on offense. The defensive guys are clearly coming into their roles and they have older guys or experience ahead of them. So they can play secondary roles. On offense, guys like Godin, Gedeon and Stribling are starting...on defense they're playing potentially key roles, but they're not being leaned on as "the guy."
I'm excited about this defense, I think we can continue to develop at SDE and the DT spot. Natural summer/fall progression should be just fine. I think we'll be fine at the other NG/DT spot with Pipkins coming back. We've got depth at LB and either Ross or Ryan should be a big time play maker. Then a CB we've finally got legit talent there. Safety should be fine by the time the B1G season rolls around.
Will our offense be able to keep these guys off the field for any period of time?
***PLEASE AND FEEL FREE TO ADD YOUR THOUGHTS ON SPRING PRACTICE AND THE SPRING SCRIMMAGE***
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald has come out against the union, and is urging his players to vote no April 25th. He had been silent since the issue began, and I assumed this meant he tacitly supported the effort. He does not.
Perhaps this board is tired of the debate, and no more may be necessary here, but from a football standpoint this seems a serious distraction. In the ESPN article there are quotes from QB Trevor Siemian and RB Venric Mark indicating they oppose the union, as well as senior center Brandon Vitabile. Division between a head coach and some of his players, versus a former QB and other of his players, on any issue, seems only likely to disrupt a common goal. Will be interesting to see how it plays out.
A 6'4" 220-lb Swede who played his last three years at La Mirada HS in CA, he will play his senior year at Denton (TX) Guyer HS. He is a one-time 5-star dual-threat QB whose stock dropped after his production didn't match his potential and after missing part of his junior year with an achilles injury. He reportedly had high interest in Michigan.
He visited Nebraska this weekend after not taking any visits for about a year and committed while on campus.