I'll be really disappointed and more than a little surprised.
Spring Practice Checklist
just win the job thx / just get touches thx
Michigan kicks off spring practice in ten days, whereupon they will hit each other and do things that are football related and not much of import will go down but we will suck it up with the world's largest straw anyway because that's just how we do. This is a welcome change from Rodriguez-era spring practices, where worlds rose and fell because of the quarterback situation. Michigan has that locked down thanks to Denard's elbow injury and Devin Gardner's play.
Still, there are things to look for in the insider buzz and coach-talkin' that we will start receiving soon. (Other schools are out there covering it in person, grumble.) Here are the things I hope we start hearing soon:
Dennis Norfleet is back on offense. Check($). Norfleet's coach told Mike Spath that Norfleet was moving back to a return/slot/change of pace role a couple weeks ago, which makes me go eeee. Speculation that Norfleet's move was related to JT Floyd's suspension appears to have been accurate:
"In the bowl, it was basically a situation where he wanted the chance to earn more playing time, the numbers were down, and they let him compete there, but it was never supposed to be a permanent move."
Next on the checklist is seeing Norfleet get some touches at a place other than kick return.
Devin Gardner has two years to play. Also check. High five your future self.
There are clear leaders for each of the interior line spots. Last year's late Barnum/Mealer flip presaged trouble, and trouble was received. Ideally Michigan will come out of spring practice with an offensive line two-deep written in ink—chiseled in stone is unfortunately out of the question.
In practice this means:
- Kyle Kalis locks down a guard spot.
- There are no whispers about serious competition for Jack Miller since Kugler is not on campus yet.
- Bars, Bosch, Braden, or Bryant becomes the clear leader at the other guard spot.
If the last one doesn't come to fruition that's okay, as Michigan will probably be able to figure out one guard spot in fall camp without much trouble. If either of the first two is false that's not so good. If it's Kalis, that's a five-star guy falling off a stardom track. Meanwhile Miller's current competition at center is…
well, a "tight-lipped" Darrell Funk didn't mention any position changes other than the fact that Joey Burzynski and Graham Glasgow will receive looks at center this spring. If Michigan's going to start a walk-on, center is the place that I'm most comfortable having that happen, especially since they've all got a decent amount of experience there…
"That'll be a really interesting battle," Funk said. "I would prefer not to have another center battle for the second consecutive year, but it is what it is and we've got some candidates. They've all repped it for a year and a half, or two years, and we'll see who the best guy is."
…but I'm with Funk. Someone please lock that job down ASAP.
If it's a walk-on that might be okay. Burzynski was actually ahead of Miller as a sixth lineman on the goal line last year; Glasgow has the size (listed at 6'6", 305), has received some hype and is one of the better twitter follows on the team*. If either wins the job the least we can expect is that the line calls are consistently right, right?
You know you're broke when you ask Kyle Kalis for money
— Graham Glasgow (@gglasgow61) March 1, 2013
needs moar this (Upchurch)
There's someone to throw to. I'd better damn well hear that after last year's Devin Funchess fade—little of it his fault since the guy caught everything they threw at him—that Devin Gardner is throwing to him on every play, often twice. I desire a low rumble of Breaston-level hype relating to Devin Funchess. Oh and I would also like him to be a credible blocker.
On the outside, it's time for Amarah Darboh or Jehu Chesson or hopefully both to start getting buzz as a possession magnet or deep ball specialist. Michigan is okay with Jeremy Gallon (suddenly rampant with Gardner at the helm) and Drew Dileo at two spots; they'd dearly like to acquire a large receiver for various purposes.
New-ish defensive lineman X is making The Leap. Prime candidates are Ondre Pipkins and either Frank Clark or Mario Ojemudia. Someone on that line should be getting way better right now, and while Pipkins isn't going to start this year Michigan is going to count on him heavily the next three years. He needs to be a guy who does not get knocked over by running backs one-on-one.
Then you've got a cavalcade of redshirt freshmen. Chris Wormley's ACL injury was 6 or 7 months ago so we probably won't get to hear much about him; it would be nice if Willie Henry, Matt Godin, or Tom Strobel started generating some buzz.
James Ross is beast. I'm not including either rising sophomore linebacker in the above discussion since we have already seen them in action plenty and they are marked for stardom. I still think Desmond Morgan is going to hold a job, leaving one of the two a frequent substitute rather than a starter. The preferred way for this to work out is for James Ross to put on 20 pounds and leave no doubt about who is Michigan's weakside linebacker for the next three years.
It's like nothing ever happened to Blake Countess. Obvious.
The loss of Jordan Kovacs, while inevitably painful, will be mitigated. Also obvious. The battle here is between Dymonte Thomas, who enrolled early, Jarrod Wilson, and little-used veterans Marvin Robinson and Josh Furman. Jeremy Clark may figure in as well.
I'm not sure how I want that to work out just yet but like center, it's for the best if someone grabs the job and sits on it. At least here seem to be a number of reasonable options.
Starting Beard is taken care of. Elliott Mealer is gone. Time to step it up, people. This town needs Vikings.
Wouldn't that mean him beating out a fifth year senior Q Washington who performed pretty well by the end of last year? I think QWash will hold down the job for another year before giving way to Pipkins. It would just be nice to see Pipkins acquitting himself well in the snaps he does get.
I've been expecting to see Pipkins and QWash starting side-by-side.
Is Pipkins not expected to start this year? Me thought he would be starting at the 1 with Q sliding over to the 3/
I thought Kalis was destined to be a tackle.
He (Kalis) is a little short for your perfect OT prospect. Braden or Eric Mag. would be your OT in waiting. Schofield and Lewan are still your starters at OT, obvs.
Kalis should be one hell of an OG though (think Hutch-which would be simply awesome).
Thanks for the explanation.
Why was this negged? Because of "He (Kalis) is a little short for your perfect OT prospect"?
Maybe you agree, maybe you don't, but it's not an illigitimate opinion for a post about spring football and speculation on which roster spots will be occupied.
I up-voted it back to visability. We're getting a little trigger-happy on this board.
What did you call me?!
FLAMEBAIT, EVERYBODY! THIS GUY'S FLAMEBAITING ME!
FWIW Craig Roh has now mentioned both Willie Henry (on twitter) and Chris Wormley (on WTKA) as guys to watch out for on the line.
The ghost of Jerald Robinson says to wait and see on that.
I'm glad somebody pointed out that hype from current (or exiting) players about other players is not always a strong indicator of future success. Personally, I just ignore 100% of what players say about each other and about 90% of what coaches say about players. Naturally, I eat up what "Insiders" say about players like nectar and ambrosia.
Wormley was a guy who wasn't going to redshirt last year. He had some big time buzz before the injury...I really think he was going to be the 3rd DT/SSE (aka the 3rd guy off the bench).
Wormley was ready to compete for playing time when he got injured. He said it was unreal how Wormley put on 30 pounds of muscle in the fall camp period.
I'm really hoping for a consistent running game from an actual running back.
that being an offensive line that can run block again. There's a reason Poor Damn Toussaint is a tag on this here blog
With Fitz injured and Derrick Green/Deveon Smith both not yet on campus, the RB position for the Spring Game is kind of a punt, no?
More Rawls/Hayes (Johnson/Norfleet?)
Rather than consider it a punt, we could hope for a competent performance from one of the non-incoming freshman RBs.
I was thinking the list needs to say "someone shows something at RB," so we don't have to sit around hoping Green or Smith is our starter in the fall. I would guess it is too soon for Fitz to be back, but it would be nice if one of the other guys looked as if he could contribute.
A rule of thumb that I have found works very well over the years for buzz coming from practice is:
100% of what you hear that is bad is true. So the stuff like "this guy is a bust" or "this guy isnt picking up the scheme as fast as they had hoped" is pretty much always true.
50% of what you hear that is good is true
For example, in the spring of 2010, we heard about how awesome Denard was going to be, and about how awesome Cam Gordon was going to be. There's your 50%.
This is really a good measure of how to take spring ball news.
Cullen Christian couldn't cover and was slow. Bad news. Check.
Justin Turner couldn't cover and was slow. Bad News. Check.
Tom Gordon was showing signs of being able to start on defense. Good News. Check.
M. Rob was literally breaking helmets and looking great. Good News. No Check.
M. Rob was half-true: he can hit people, no doubt, and did that often in the Spring and even Fall private practices. It's just that it's hard to get wind (or see yourself) that he often gets lost in coverage, which has rendered him ineffective the last two years.
He's a guy who has to play in the box, much like Rodriguez used his "box safeties." Play him on running downs or use him to blitz, but he's not a guy who should be in there on 3rd-and-15 with deep coverage responsibilities.
Believe half of what you see, son
and none of what you hear.
Raise your hand if you actually high-fived in the air to an imaginary future self, lol.
... ... ?
Oh, it was just me then. Very well carry on.
I actually high fived my right and left hands, true story bro
After I high fiving my future self I noticed I had an extra kid, who was wearing a Michigan championship onesie.
But I also had less hair.
1. A ways back there was some talk about Bars at center. That seems gone. Yes? Why?
2. There was some speculation that one possibility was that Schoefield would play guard and Braden play right tackle. Is that still in the mix of reasonable possibilities?
3. What's Chris Bryant's status? Is he a full go for spring practice or is he limited?
4. Has Miller gained weight/strength?
2. Schofield is a tackle right now, and Braden is actually flipping to guard this year
1. Bars has practiced at center. He's probably not option #1, but he could play a factor there later in his career. He's more likely to impact at guard.
2. Considering the Barnum/Mealer flip, it's possible. But it's more likely that Schofield stays at RT and Braden gets in the mix at OG.
3. I don't know.
4. He better have. He was 6'4", 288 last season. He should be near 300 by the fall, if not by now.
Is it really possible that Miller is 6'4"? I thought the biggest knock on him was that he was Molk-like in his size. I thought he was 6'2" or something similar. If he's really 6'4" adn 288 then I'm even more perplexed as to why he couldn't challenge Mealer/Barnum last year.
He was listed at 6'4" as a recruit and now on the roster. He's probably shorter than that (because most players are shorter than their listed heights). But regardless, he was still lighter than Barnum or Mealer and a few years younger. It's not that perplexing.
Don't ever be perplexed that a RS frosh lineman isn't taking a starting spot from a 5th year senior. Unless that RS frosh is a star (and I don't think that's what Miller is) he's at a huge disadvantage, both physically and mentally.
Personally I'm pulling for Bars to get playing time as I got to meet his dad and both his older (PSU LB) and younger (HS player being recruited) brother at the Outback Bowl this year. They just happened to be on the same fishing boat we were on and the family is about as nice of a bunch of people as you'll ever meet.
He comes from quite an interesting football family: dad played for Notre Dame, brother plays for PSU and youngest brother has yet to decide but is looking at Georgia amoung many schools.
that Vikings show on the History Channel is pretty good.
Them Robertson boys have alot of facial hair, if that's what your into. Happy happy happy
the most important position on the OL was center; which was OK since he also said M's best lineman was Molk. When Molk got hurt, we found out how important the center position was....ditto last year with first year inexperienced center and last minute switch at the position to boot.
So, to me, Jack Miller is maybe the most important\biggest question going in to the Spring. He is reputed to have the nasty attitude favored by the coaches. He has had a couple years of back up time to learn the position. Therefore, it is a "feet don't fail me now" type deal at center.
I think it is really important that Miller is able to take charge of that position with some ernest degree of competence.
I think Jack Miller is going to surprise a lot of people. This will be his third year in Hoke's program, Molk had him under his wing, most likely is up to good playing weight, and had some playing time last year, so he should know the offense well and know all the o-line calls. Miller has been well groomed to make this position his and I believe he will take it. At the very least he will be a upgrade from Mealer because he will have the size for greater leverage at the point of attack.
I still think the 2 critical spots are Center and WR because we have proven talent everywhere else.
We will certainly find 2 competent guards from stud recruits like Kalis, Bryant, Bars and even Braden, especially with insiders hinting at their talent. Not so at Center - its Miller or bust (and Kugler starting is a 1 season bust until he physically matures). Miller's 288 lbs wasn't his only limitation last season as Mealer clearly struggled to execute basic iso and combo blocks. Frankly, it's a disaster if Miller adds 7 lbs just to reach Mealer's standard.
WR is an enigma. Gallon will draw more attention this year, so Darboh or Chesson must step up. Their absence from O plays last year is troubling, especially with Darboh burning a redshirt. WR is the easiest spot for coaches to insert a frosh; certainly don't have to throw to them. Heck, Amari was the #1 WR for Bama as a frosh but our guys didn't even see real action.
with Toussaint out.. One of Rawls, Hayes or Johnson really needs to step up so we don't have to totally rely on true freshman in September.
Let's not forget that if there is only one position in football you would want to rely upon a true freshman, it's the running back.
With that said, two of the nation's top 11 2013 running backs arrive on campus this summer. Regardless of who "steps up", there should be little issue with regard to relying on Green and Smith this fall.
DeVeon Smith is #11 to Scout, but he is #15 to 247, #23 to Rivals, and #27 to ESPN.
None of those numbers obscure or change the point of the original post. And why didn't you post his TTB ranking? We need complete info.
The point is that you chose the most optimistic ranking for Smith. There are other sites that have less confidence in his ability as a runner. Green, on the other hand, is roundly considered to be an elite running back.
So was Kevin Grady...
So was Trent Richardson....
What?! Oh no...why didn't anyone tell the coaches that?! All touted RBs are busts!!!
Quick, yank Green's scholarship and give it to Berkley Edwards, STAT!
dont you dare put your filthy Mike Cox voodoo on D. Green
Whats the projected starting D line? still curious about the Pipkins question that was raised in the OP