Here are some random thoughts after going up to the Big House to see the next team in person. I will preface all this by saying that I have no credentials, no true facts or basis for my opinons, no charts, and no real desire to convince any of you. I just feel like putting all my thoughts down on paper, and it's fun to get torn apart by the mgocommunity once in a while. This will be long, so instead of posting tl;dr just click on something else Mr. Snarkypants.
Jerald Robinson is not ready. He does seem to have the physical skills to become a good reciever in the future, but I doubt he will be a significant contributor this year. During the warm up drills he dropped several balls, which he continued to do in the game also. I could be wrong, but I think his only catch was when he dropped to his knees (rookie mistake) and was down immediatley. I know he's young, but all the coach-speak so far is that he is our solid #3 option at WR, and he will also be a deep threat for us. I don't believe any of that. Jeremy Jackson is far more poised, runs better routes, catches the ball better, and has real in-game experience in high pressure situations. Jeremy is a solid possesion reciever, but not really the gamechanger we need to start at WR.
Devin Gardner is not our second best QB. This is a harsh statement that I'm sure some of you will not like, but it's how I feel. I really don't see any improvement from him compared to last year. He is a "one read and take off downfield" passer. This can be really effective in high school, but it won't work in Div.1 college football. Borges talks about "getting into the fight" when he refers to stepping up into the pocket and keeping your shoulders square with your eyes downfield (ready to pass). The only times Devin moves in the pocket, he is taking off to run down the field. Russ was poised and seemed to lead the team well. I like the way he checks down recievers, and his few mistakes were easilly fixed teachable moments. Russel did not move backwards several times like Devin did, and he was even dealing with a center who consistantly snapped the ball really high. This kid has some promise, yo.
Why not move Devin to WR? We need a true athletic threat at our #3 spot, and to me Dileo and Gallon are slots that don't match up well on the outside. I'm not saying that Devin shouldn't get some reps at QB, but he will help our team this year so much better on the outside. The guy has some amazing skills - he is fast, has great range, good leaping ability and he's 6'4" forgodsakes. He is also a way better option for Dennard's "throw it up for grabs" style of long pases, and could replace Hemmingway in that capacity.
I'm not sure who will win out the LB competition, but this is going to be fun to watch. I saw really good things out of the two freshman, Bolden and Ringer. Bolden has some good instincts and just needs to learn his assignments a bit better. This defense will be scary good in 4 years. Hawthorn has made a statement that he needs PT. Playmakers find their way on the starting roster, and the UM coaches will be watching #7 pop out on film all summer. I can't wait to see the other freshman linebackers compete for a spot on the two-deep.
Blake Countess will make game-changing plays this year and continue to be a solid rock we can depend on in the defensive backfield. I really like how Mattison is emphasizing that he hasn't arrived yet, and it's nice to hear that Blake continues to bust his ass in hopes to get better every day. I am concerned about us getting beat deep still. I think the fact that our offense doesn't throw downfield much gives our back end less reps in live action agianst attacks that take several shots downfield. Jarrod Wilson looks comfortable at safety, and I like his physical presence in support of the run defense. He's not afraid to stick his nose in there, and he made some nice plays.
Our running back situation is nice right now. Fitz is a beast, and I really like how he has the ability to run downhill or cut it to the backside to expoit over-pursuit. Rawls looks like Mike Hart with bigger lower body. I know that's a bit "Fred Jackson" of me, but he gains yardage with every move. He is the kind of back that can wear on you throughout a game and really dominate in the 4th quarter. Hoke mentioned that Hopkins is our short yardage back, but I like Hopkins leading Rawls up the middle more. This kid will be special by the time his Michigan career is over. Justice Hayes is sneaky fast, and he will be a nice third down back after Vincent Smith graduates. I also love the playaction fulback flat pass you see so much in the NFL. Our FB's are capable of making a big first down/touchdown once a game on this play.
As far as the defensive line is concerned, we aren't looking very solid right now. Jabreel Black looks gigantic compared to last year, and the coaches are saying he needs to put on more weight this summer. How much bigger can his body get? I guess we'll see. Washington is our best nose option IMO, and that's not saying a ton. Campbell is OK, but I still don't believe he's a starter. Ash made some good plays getting into the backfield, and Chris Rock looks like he could beef up and be a solid player on the DL in the future. We need to be stout up the middle, or teams that like to smash it could find playcalling a bit too easy against this defense.
All in all, it was a great time at the Big House like it always is. I can't wait to go to the opener at home, and we will now spend too much time over-analyzing all the film we have from the spring. Go Blue!!!