Cole and Clark impressed [Bryan Fuller]
Our annual attempt to glean useful things from the Big Ten's visit to fall camp is here. BTN analysts have a slight bias towards the positive, as Gerry DiNardo demonstrated before last season…
"When I saw them in the spring it was like a war at the line of scrimmage," BTN analyst Gerry DiNardo said. "It was what you imagine it looks like at Alabama and all the downhill teams."
…so take overall tenor with a grain of salt. As per usual, I've translated these from twitterese. This year only DiNardo and Dienhart are reporting; Howard Griffith is there but just hangin' out yo. Dienhart has an article and everything. If there's no link, it's from the article.
"Much like last year a team with more talent than most teams in the B1G. Recruiting rankings are accurate in most cases." –Dinardo
"Long hard physical practice—they got a ton of reps, often times splitting staff and team in half to get more reps." –Dinardo
Rep rep rep is good news, as when Michigan does show bits of practice the pace is often not inspiring. Anything that seems to be oriented towards making Michigan competent at speed is welcome.
"Like a lot of places offensive scheme is starting to be blend of more than one offensive philosophy." –Dinardo
As long as that's running a lot of inside zone from shotgun and under center, okay.
"Jumped out: Gardner, Norfleet, Charlton, Poggi, Speight, Cole, Ojemudia, Pipkins, Clark, Henry, Mone, Glasgow." –DiNardo
That's a pretty long list of guys to jump out at you. Speight's inclusion is a little weird since in another tweet he says that Morris and Speight are pretty even for the backup QB job. Mone is the only freshman mentioned. (Peppers had to miss this practice for class.)
[AFTER the JUMP: shortin' out and dyin', De'Veon Smith credit plea, naggers.]
Devin Gardner has had a good camp. He looked sharp today. There are few better athletes at the position in the Big Ten. He was throwing the ball with some zip. –Dienhart
All right, sounds reasonable.
With a sense of urgency in 2014, Michigan almost has to give the reins to Gardner. Could Hoke really entrust things to Morris?
Derrick Green looks like a different person physically than last pre-season, quality depth at RB with Smith/Hayes –Dinardo
"Derrick Green looks a lot better than this time last year. Running hard, too. But De'Veon Smith is No. 1." -Dienhart
I want partial credit for predicting De'Veon Smith would be the #2 tailback last year, passing Green. IGNORE ALL OL PREDICTIONS.
On the rise: RB De’Veon Smith. A 5-11, 220-pound sophomore, Smith is a strong runner who has carved a niche for himself. He may be hard to unseat from the No. 1 spot. –Dienhart
I am totally fine with this.
"Like this group of wideouts. Funchess looks primed for a big year. Lots of depth and competition." –Dienhart
Dienhart is getting hip with the times by including pictures.
Unfortunately they are screenshots of pictures on his iPhone. Nice charge though.
Under the radar: Dennis Norfleet. The diminutive Norfleet is one of—if not the—fastest wideouts on the team. He often gets overlooked amid hub-bub about Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson, Freddy Canteen and Devin Funchess.
Harris is still laid up:
Frosh Drake Harris is worth the hype, according to program watcher, if he avoids hamstring issues that dog him. He worked on conditioning by himself.
This one is just too out there to mean much:
"The o-line has moving parts. Top line today. LT Cole (52); LG Magnuson; C Miller; RG Bosch; RT Dawson." –Dienhart
No Braden, who was just talked up by Hoke as doing very well, and no Glasgow. They're just moving guys around. I will say that Cole's continued presence at left tackle with Magnuson getting a lot of LG reps does seem meaningful: they are certain they are playing Mags and they are trying to figure out if they can play Cole at LT.
"Outstanding talent on offense—OL needs to continue to develop as a unit to match their talent individually. Five as one." –Dinardo
Is this a nice way to say the OL looks like a pack of feral cats?
Nagging question: Is the o-line better?
This is nagging Michigan like having the German army pour across your border is irritating Poland.
"Talent wise, team better than most in B1G at the LOS, especially on the DL. Best so far in East are OSU/Michigan. MSU tomorrow." –Dinardo
That would be a welcome change from last year when the DL fell apart at the end. I'm choosing to ignore the part about how Michigan is better than other Big Ten teams on the OL.
"Most impressive player: DE Frank Clark. So quick, strong and explosive off the edge. Expect big things." –Dienhart
I kind of do, actually.
"Top specimen: DE Taco Charlton. No. 33 is a looming presence at 6-6, 275. If he ever puts it all together, he could be a force." –Dienhart
Ever puts it together? He's a true sophomore. Give a man a chance, man.
Nothing you don't already know.
Some confirmation of the SS position battle:
Jeremy Clark and Brandon Watson are in the mix. Delano Hill was limited to conditioning work as he recovers from a broken jaw. –Dienhart
People will say that the two spots are close to interchangeable, and that was the case the last couple years. This year they will be less so, as Michigan is probably going to play a lot of man free that will require the SS to be an aggressive run defender while Wilson plays more centerfield.