Congrats to the MBB team for a great run and positioning themselves well for the NCAA tourney! After I post this, I'll go back to rooting for college basketball and Michigan in particular. But I wanted to take a moment, during a break in the MBB action, to mention the top 10 things I am looking forward to seeing during the course of Spring Ball:
10. Stokes’ play at WR. We have an outstanding group of receivers set to graduate after this year. Will Stokes prove to us he’ll be there to compliment Roundtree as a starter in 2012? Or will another young gun step up at this year and overtake him?
9. Who our returners will be. Will the return of a special teams coach bring about a change in our returners? My hope, based purely on last year, is for Stonum to be the primary KR and Dileo to be the primary PR. But I’d love to see some improvement across the board this spring with a dedicated coach.
8. Will we see Pace? As the MGoBoard-anointed eventual heir to Molk, I have a special rooting interest in seeing this guy do well. With the unfortunate rumors out there that not only may he have injured his knee, but hurt it pretty badly, I’m hoping to hear what’s really going on. Hoping for the best for Pace, and if the rumors are true, then hoping for a full recovery.
7. How, and where, will Furman and M. Robinson play? The MGoBoard probably knows where these two will play already, but I do not. I’m curious to hear how these two perform in practice, as their athleticism makes them a couple of other personal favorites on the team.
6. Which of our RBs will be The Guy(s) this year? I love how diverse our RB pool is. I can see Hopkins and Shaw (if healthy, knock on wood for this guy this year) to be our thunder and lightning in a two back set, but how can I discount two-year starter Smith who will be another year removed from his ACL injury (and who not only has great hands but can block), or Cox, Toussaint, or heck, even the incoming freshman? It will be fun to watch, as it is every year, to see which of our backs is/are best suited for this offense, and see if anyone emerges this spring.
5. Where will Woolfolk play? Our best DB can help us significantly at CB and FS. Will he be healthy enough to go 100%? Where will he play primarily during Spring Ball?
4. WLB play. Demens and Cam Gordon likely have the MLB and WLB spots, respectively. But who will play WLB? Will any of our seniors at the position make an impact, or will we go with youth?
3. Interior D-line. RVB and Martin are known commodities. But how will Big Will and Q do? Will Ash or Talbott challenge, or even surpass them?
2. Young CB improvement. I applaud our youngsters at CB last year for doing a remarkable job, all things considering. They showed a lot of potential and were put in a very, very, very tough situation. Avery in particular looks like he can be a starter this year. I’m very interested to see not only how he does this spring, but also how much improvement our other true sophomores show.
1. Denard’s progression as a drop-back QB. He16man amazed us last year with his dazzling play as a spread QB. He was surprisingly accurate in the early part of the season to complement a very strong arm. But as the season progressed, his accuracy declined significantly. Was that primarily due to injury, to poor mechanics, to defensive schemes, or to a lack of confidence? And how will the coaches use him, particularly in terms of limiting his reads (or not), in this his first year as a drop-back QB in the college ranks? And please correct me if I am mistaken, but it seems as though last year he had a higher than normal number of batted balls – will this increase or decrease as a drop-back QB? Will he be significantly challenged by DG? Denard has already shown us he has an incredible work ethic and can be a great spread QB, but I’m looking to see what he can do, and exactly how he will be used, in this new offense.