For awhile now, after camp, I call up a buddy who's been around the program (full time support position) for quite a few years (since late-Carr era). The past couple of years, I've made a thread to share some of that summary on here for those who care. It's straight word of mouth, so a disclaimer there. And unfortunately much of this year's info has become common knowledge. In fact, we joked because we (MGoCommunity) know more about the team this year (without seeing one practice) than we ever have. It's just the information age that we live in. So hats off to MGoBlog, because much of the stuff you read here that comes off as opinion is very close to accurate. That said, nothing too ground breaking. Also, there just hasn’t been much debate this year.
QB – Gardner is as good as the hype. He’s gotten “twice as good” over the summer and has really taken charge of the offense. Still presses a bit under pressure and makes the “oh no” throws that he needs to eliminate (I believe we saw one in a scrimmage video). Plays like Kapernick or a thin Cam Newton. Was told that if he has a big year, he’s talented enough to go to the NFL. But if he has a big year and stays, he could very well win the Heisman next year. I specifically asked about Morris. He looks good, and NO DECISION has been made on his status. Redshirt could be an option if all he'd get is mop up duty. He's not that far ahead of Cleary that Cleary can't take those snaps in a blowout. Probably won't make that call until the situation presents itself...and that's going off of what Hoke's done in the past. (Why say he is or isn't going to play when you don't know if you even will have the opp? What if we don't get up big until late in the 4th when it's best to just hand the ball off and run the clock out?)
RB – Fitz has his job and it’s HIS job. More dedicated and determined. A lot of people don’t know, but he played with a lot of pressure last year...wanted to play well and go pro to provide for his family. Tried to hit a homerun on every single play. More determined now and extremely motivated by the Green hype. Not even close most days. Green plays overweight and could very well redshirt this year. However, he’s the most improved RB over the fall camp period. Still worried that he’s Grady part II, but it’s WAAAY too early to say that Smith also motivated by the Green hype. The other returners are all better than last year, but so is the OLine.
WR – Gallon is the favorite target, but Gardner is starting to spread the ball around a lot more. Chesson and Reynolds look to replace Darboh who was the clear #2 WR. Darboh was also a great blocker. That said, expect Jackson to be used in running situations. Dileo is the “Novak” of the team. Freshman WRs have potential, but still learning the offense and how to run routes and/or block. None can be trusted right now, but at least 1 may play special teams because he could help in the 2nd half of the season (on offense).
TE – No real news...Butt is better than people realize, we could have the best TE group in the conference.
OL – Better than we’ve had since the Carr-era. Already better than last year and not even close. Here’s the C debate, same as last year. Miller is the better snapper, Glasgow is the better blocker. Expect Miller to win as Mealer (who was the better snapper) won last year. Glasgow and Bryant are in a dead heat for the LG spot. Coaches seem to want Bryant to win so Braden can be first tackle off the bench and Glasgow can be first interior OL (regardless of position) off the bench. Bryant doesn’t play C. If Glasgow is ever in at C, look for us to go under Center more than Pistol or from the Gun.
DL – Most DL depth charts that have been reported are true...Clark was working inside for the Dime package. We do have a situation package where Ojemudia, Clark and Charlton all play on the DL. I guess it’s our version of the NASCAR package the NY Giants have. Still trying to “earn the right to rush 4.” Better, but not there yet. Then again, it’s harder when Lewan and Schofield are on the other side.
LB – Ross may be the best player on the defense. He’s also improved over the summer. Morgan is the MLB despite rumors of Bolden. Gordon will be the SLB. RJS-Bolden-Beyer are in the 2nd group and expect Bolden and Beyer to play close to starter’s snaps. GMat is rotating this year more than he has at any point in the last 2 years.
DB – Still sorting out CB. Countess is the only lock. (personal thought – can we get a question to GMat to provide clarity on the depth chart at CB?). Avery is playing both (CB and S), it’s not even a big deal...it stems from the SCar game where we didn’t have guys ready that knew multiple positions. So when Floyd was out and guys went down...we had Wilson running around trying to learn on the fly. We gave up too many big plays in the secondary and coaches felt like it was because we we’re playing 10.5 on 11 because there wasn’t enough flexibility. Remember, the guys that we did have were ALL young. So they were focusing on learning THEIR position before expanding their roles. THAT is why Avery is the one bouncing around, because he’s got the most experience and knows the CB and Nickel spots. There is less separation here than anywhere else on the team. Need more consistency from the “up-and-comers.”
K/P – We’re going to be A-okay.
One of the best things I got was that all of the young guys are truly good character people. By Lewan's example, Tom Brady's story, etc. they're learning what a special place Michigan is and they aren't in a hurry like most freshman are. They're fighting to truly get better, knowing that it may be a couple of years before they're called on. I was told in "3-4 years this team could be SCARY" because you're going to have guys that truly know the system and they're going to be starving to show what they can do...and for once, they're going to be TALENTED! I personally think this next 5 year period, starting this year, could be one of the best 5 years periods any of us have ever seen at Michigan. Hope I'm right!