Spring Stuff

Submitted by Brian on March 14th, 2012 at 3:30 PM

denard-heisman

it's always a good time for this picture

The start of spring practice is an annual opportunity to dust off the stuff you posted titled "2012 outlook" in the aftermath of the bowl game, slightly revise it, and post it again. AnnArbor.com has a series previewing every position group… which… like… basically it's all the same except a couple places. I won't go into that much detail but it does feel like time for some State of the Team bullets after they got a lot of detail from Hoke in an interview.

Offensive line reshuffling. All those moves you've been hearing about since Danny Coale's misery finally ended in early January are now official per the head man:

To shore up those issues, Hoke said he is making several personnel changes as the Wolverines kick off their 14-practice spring camp Saturday.

The most prominent of those moves impacts redshirt senior Ricky Barnum, the former starting left guard who now will receive the first crack at replacing the Rimington Award-winning Molk at center. …

Returning centers Rocko Khoury, a senior, and Jack Miller, a redshirt freshman, also will be given a shot to win the job.

Meantime, Hoke said junior Michael Schofield, who filled in for Barnum at left guard, will slide back to his natural position of right tackle. He can play anywhere but center on the line, but his 6-foot-7, 299-pound frame makes him an ideal fit at tackle.

It appears the most wide-open job could be the vacated left guard position. When asked who were candidates for it, Hoke first mentioned Elliott Mealer, a senior who has played sparingly in his career.

"His opportunity, his time has come," Hoke said.

michael-schofield-sideline[1]Schofield to right tackle, testing Barnum at center: both very much expected. Just look at Schofield's arms and frame at right. Dude is built to pass block. I expect he'll be an upgrade on Mark Huyge.

Chris Bryant is Mealer's main competition at left guard, but Miller and Khoury will be an indirect threat. If either is better than the potential starter at left guard they'll shuffle Barnum back to guard and roll with it.

A prediction: Barnum spends all of spring at center but slides back to guard in fall as Miller proves himself the best option for the fifth guy on the line. I don't think they're wild about Khoury and want to give themselves more options at center. College-ready Kyle Kalis will probably be given a crash course at right tackle to give Michigan a scholarship option in the event of an injury to one of the starters.

Defensive tackle reshuffling. You also know about Michigan throwing its top two guys at WDE inside, paving the way for the quicker Clark/Beyer generation of pass rush terror. We have little clarity on what positions a lot of guys will be playing in there, and spring will be an opportunity to figure out just where the most terrifying hole is on the depth chart.

Roh is a strongside end now and Black a three-tech. Where do Campbell and Washington go? Are Wilkins, Ash, and Rock viable options? Is Keith Heitzman a guy who can provide some depth as a redshirt freshman?

388402_2373321690818_1183817988_2232815_358658504_n_1_[1]Desmond Morgan[1]um32[1]

fight!

Linebacker pressing. Jake Ryan is a lock atop the depth chart. Elsewhere there have been some rumors that Kenny Demens could find his job under threat. Meanwhile, Desmond Morgan is a hitter without a ton of athleticism who will get tested by redshirt freshman Antonio Poole and two of Michigan's three early enrollees, Joe Bolden and Kaleb Ringer. Bolden's probably an MLB in an ideal world and Ringer seems like a redshirt candidate, but once the pads go on those perceptions can change quickly.

Brandin Hawthorne's also around. He lost his job last year and it's clear Michigan thinks he's too small for the spot but I have this nagging feeling M is missing out on something by not incorporating him into the nickel package. His speed could be useful in coverage and on blitzes.

Wat? Let me untangle this bit of technical speak for you:

Hoke said linebacker Jordan Paskorz and defensive end Chris Eddins are moving to tight end "to get an on-the-line guy who can block a five-tech, or move a six-tech." Both could vie for time in the fall after the departure of starters Kevin Koger and Steve Watson.

A five tech is a strongside defensive end. He would be coming from the interior on an outside play and the TE can't get run over; on an inside play if the tight end is getting the five he's probably doing so as part of a double.

A six tech is what happens to a 4-3 under defense when the weakside end gets a tight end to him. In that case he has to bunker down and take on that tight end; if he gets sealed to the inside the corner is going to be there. Michigan wants a guy who can take a Clark or a Beyer or a Roh and get rid of him.

If you're reading the piles of players moving to tight end as a shot across the bow of the incumbents, you're probably right.

Scholarship clarity coming. Sounds like we might get another departure or two in the near future:

When asked if any players have left the program since the conclusion of last season, Hoke said he would "address that issue Friday" and declined further comment. His first news conference of spring camp is scheduled for noon Friday at Schembechler Hall.

He did say he doesn't expect to incur any academic problems.

A number of candidates bubble to mind but we'll find out in a couple days so no need to go speculating. If two scholarship guys exit before spring practice I'm bumping my projected class size to 24. Football teams don't go ten months without losing anyone. Also I like the idea of pushing this class to 24 a great deal. That's three WR, three LB, a couple DL, and a couple roving wild card supers unless Michigan goes ahead with that third TE.

Comments

Sac Fly

March 14th, 2012 at 3:38 PM ^

I can only imagine the kind of player you would have to be to take the position from an established B1G MLB. It's possible but do we have anyone on the roster who comes to mind?

MGoLogan

March 14th, 2012 at 3:56 PM ^

I too am trying to think of who could possibly take Demens spot.  I don't see a true freshman Joe Bolden unseating him, and definitely not Mike Jones.  The only real possibility is Desmond Morgan, who does project more to be a MIKE than a WILL, but I figured we would see that move happen next spring.  I figured the real battle would be between Morgan and Antonio Poole, who I believe will be the starting WLB by the time the Alabama game comes around.  It is nice to actually have position battles on defense with, you know, competent players.

Wolverine0056

March 14th, 2012 at 3:49 PM ^

I think Demens has too much experience to be overtaken this year. He may not be the best MLB ever, as seen by some of last year's UFRs, but we don't really have anyone with his experience that would be a step up. He is a solid linebacker that tackles fairly well. If he can just make quicker decisions on filling holes and shed blockers better, he will be toward the top of All-B1G talk, in my opinion. 

Magnus

March 14th, 2012 at 3:54 PM ^

Agreed.  I think he's pretty safe.  He never left the field last year, and the only people to challenge him are Morgan (if he bumps over from WILL) and true freshmen.  I don't think you go from never leaving the field as a junior to benched behind a freshman as a senior, not unless there are off-the-field issues.*

*I know there were off-field issues last year with his living situation, but I doubt those problems will persist into the 2012 season.

Magnus

March 14th, 2012 at 3:52 PM ^

Personally, I thought Brandin Hawthorne's efforts in the MSU game last year were terrible.  Terrible enough to pronounce the word like Charles Barkley.  I think that's what really put him in the doghouse, not his size.  Desmond Morgan, who took Hawthorne's job, was one inch taller than Hawthorne and only 6 lbs. heavier.  That's not a significant size difference.  Go back and watch the MSU game, especially the Keshawn Martin catch-and-run TD.  Hawthorne gives Martin a half-ass shove near the goal line, as if that's going to bring down a WR who's hauling ass.  Instead Martin edges over the goal line for (IIRC) the go-ahead touchdown.

P.S. It may not have been the go-ahead touchdown, but it was a touchdown nonetheless.  And in a game that was 21-14 until late, it was a significant play.

TrppWlbrnID

March 14th, 2012 at 4:04 PM ^

hawthorne and cam gordon (single digit RR LBs), but i think that they have similar situations as tweeners who have never been able to settle into a position for more than one season. both these guys spent their first years prepping to be spinners or strong safeties or whatever, missing out on a lot of bulking up and technique practice.

AlbMichFan

March 14th, 2012 at 4:11 PM ^

I'm not worried at all about the O Line or the LineBackers, the position that scares me most is the D Line. If they can be ok we have a chance to even beat Alabama. I think they will improve a lot as players but i hope they improve enough.

UofM626

March 14th, 2012 at 4:19 PM ^

Is where it starts and finishes. If we get no pressure on the QB are Corners will get eaten alive weekly. Campbell is the key and has to produce pressure plain and simple. He does that it w free up the LB's and the Corners can play man, and hopefully disrupt more plays then give up big plays! D Line w make or break this team this yr BAR NONE!

Go Blue

Needs

March 14th, 2012 at 4:39 PM ^

Campbell's not going to produce pressure. We need him to learn to stay low, stay square, occupy blockers and push the pocket. Pressure will come from a better year from Roh as he moves to his new position, whoever wins the WDE position, Ryan, and the occasional unpredictable Mattison blitz. Black's also really intriguing as a rush DT. I don't think there's any way he'll hold up against the run against interior O-linemen, but he is quick enough to open up a variety of stunts and slippery enough to beat guards off the snap.

kingrichardx

March 14th, 2012 at 4:31 PM ^

When will we get to hear how much weight everyone put on/off in the awesomely short off-season?

I don't know why but that's one of my favorite parts of the off-season since it can only ever be 100% positive news.

Sextus Empiricus

March 14th, 2012 at 4:45 PM ^

No competition for Roh at SDE with Black going to 3 tech isn't good...I would like somebody to push him...he responded last year to higher expectations...maybe from himself more than anyone else...a breakout year from Roh would be nice if two years overdue.  SDE is a much better fit for him perhaps.  He didn't bring consistent B1G pressure from the other side ala Ryan Kerrigan - which is what I thought he'd do and what he would look like after his freshman campaign...but that story has been told.

UMaD

March 14th, 2012 at 4:54 PM ^

A senior shouldn't need to be pushed by other people, but Roh will have some competition from Brink, the Freshman, and whatever overflow (if any) there is from the 3-tech spot.  He should easily start over all those guys given his talent and experience though.

Like OL, they'll play the 4 best guys.  All the hand-wringing about 3-tech vs 5-tech and so on is overblown.  Some guys are limited to one position but most can swing between 2 spots depending on what is needed.

AmaizingBlue3

March 14th, 2012 at 4:47 PM ^

I for one am very curious about players we haven't seen yet who redshirted last year (Hayes, Rock, Heitzman, Carter, Bellomy, Bryant,  Poole, and Miller). I'm curious if Poole will push Morgan for a spot. I haven't heard much buzz about him yet but i'm hoping to (and for others!) soon. The D-Line still scares me, but I feel a little better with Black and Roh switching positions. The O-line... well we'll see. And I hope to see some contributing WR's (or Jerald Robinson) step up more. Should be interesting for the spring game!

Skiptoomylou22

March 14th, 2012 at 4:52 PM ^

I think Joe Bolden is really good, fwiw, and it wouldn't be so outrageous to me at least if he started. He looked really instinctive and reactive during the under armor game and I'm uber psyched for him to get the pads on and prove himself. Is he not our biggest LB?

jback1111

March 15th, 2012 at 8:01 AM ^

This is why!!!! He needs yo slim down and move his feet!!!!! Countless times he was 3-5 yds behind his man...... It was encouraging to see it was a mental mistake but the dude has concrete feet.... If that doesn't change I hope we see the same change we seen with woolfolk's terrible ass!!! I'm ready for Hoke's players to take over and kick the dickrod kids out!

Ty Butterfield

March 14th, 2012 at 5:27 PM ^

Schofield has been a solid contributor and I am glad that it looks like he will be a starter this year. If he can engineer a massive prison break, then college football should be no problem.

NoMoPincherBug

March 14th, 2012 at 6:49 PM ^

It is great to see Elliot Mealer get solid shot at starting.  Could be a nice end to a tough career at Michigan...and he deserves it.  Coach Hoke seems like the type of guy who will single a player out, tell them that it is their time/job to win or lose....and let the player do his thing.  That type of clarity can be a very motivating factor.

Bluemaizeaukee

March 14th, 2012 at 6:52 PM ^

Demens holds down the middle unless, as previously mentioned, he has off the field issues that prevents him from starting.  I think Morgan will be tested, probably until fall, then he proves why he started as a freshman, a feat not easy to do.  He's smart, both intelectually and football-wise.  He clearly loves to hit; does not fear lineman.  

Sweets114

March 14th, 2012 at 11:59 PM ^

Yes, no player is guaranteed to start, but no way can I see Kenny Demens losing his starting MLB job after a very solid junior year that earned him honorable mention All B1G honors from the media and coaches. I expect Demens and Kovacs to be the leaders of the 2012 Michigan defense. I do see Desmond Morgan losing his LB starting job down the road or spliting a lot of time with Royce-Jenkins and even Hawthorne early in the year. Joe Bolden I expect to replace Demens at MLB in 2013, but will get his share of plays this coming season. 

M-Wolverine

March 15th, 2012 at 3:53 PM ^

To Spring game posts, both front page and board? Because the absolute panic after last year's game, with maybe some "Tate Forcier: Weapon of Choice" to contrast it should do a pretty good job of reminding everyone not too get too high or too low over what happens in Spring. Healthy matters; the rest, not so much.