This Week’s Obsession: If There Was a Spring Game Part I: Offense Comment Count

Seth April 12th, 2018 at 3:34 PM

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shoulda done it today [Patrick Barron]

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The Question:

Things we would have wanted to see if there was a spring game but there isn't so let's all imagine

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Imagine a version of McCaffrey that had soft tissue on it. [Chris Cook]

QUARTERBACK

Ace: Competency!

More specifically, Shea Patterson making some big plays, especially outside the pocket, and Peters/McCaffrey making fewer derpy mistakes.

Seth: I was really looking forward to seeing Shea Patterson doing things that fit the meter of Weapon of Choice.

Ace: …but going to class.

BiSB: I wanted to see Joe Milton throw a ball over those mountains.

Ace: His warmups would be a show. The game itself: possibly a different kind of show.

BiSB: But seriously, it would have been a first look at Milton, nearly a first look at McCaffrey, and a first Harbaugh Offense look at Patterson. There would have been a lot of mental YMRMFSPA recalibration based on this game.

Seth: The reports are all about Shea doing crazy athletic things. His first practice there was supposedly a 75-yard touchdown run that involved a footrace with Metellus, who is definitively not slow. And yeah, we still haven't seen McCaffrey, who's apparently thicc enough now that gravity has a fair shot against a strong gust of wind. I also was planning on watching to see which coach is talking to them between plays.

Ace: I assume Shea is doing a lot of stuff outside the offense because he doesn’t know the system that well yet, but that also could be critical based on… certain other position groups.

Seth: Yes might as well skip past position groups and go right to...

[after THE JUMP: hope?]

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OFFENSIVE LINE

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Cesar for real [Eric Upchurch]

Ace: DON’T DIE

DIE LESS OFTEN

(this is about pass pro, obviously)

Seth: Specifically James Hudson and Andrew Stueber and Chuck Filiaga against Winovich and Gary not dying. I have seen Faramir Bushell-Beatty and know his quality.

Ace: There’d obviously be a certain amount of understandable carnage there but we’d just be hoping for signs of competency.

Brian: Pick up just one stunt.

Ace: Correctly block an outside zone. That’s really the one major run game complaint.

Brian: Eh, if they don't want to run outside zone they don't have to. They do have to pick up stunts constantly.

Ace: True, it’d more be comforting for a coaching upgrade standpoint.

Brian: The judges will accept "don't leave first level defenders unblocked on IZ"

Ace: Most definitely.

Brian: I mean really we're looking for any signs that Warinner >>>>>>>> Drevno.

slackbot: warinner

Ace: I knew that would come in handy.

Seth: Excellent slackbot.

Is there one for Ruddock?

slackbot: /blocked

Seth: Yep.

Brian: Or would have been looking for, anyway.

Ace: I’d also would’ve liked to see Mike Onwenu unleash some Grapes of Wrath. He had a kinda weird year.

Brian: Getting challenged by Ruiz and now Spanellis is a bit ominous.

Ace: Yeah, ideally they’d be comfortable enough with Big Mike to throw Spanellis into the tackle pile. Which has not happened.

BiSB: I dunno, I feel like the interior has a solid "More Meat For the Meat Gods" feel

Ace: I do like Spanellis, I just know Onwenu is crazy talented and they need every lottery ticket at tackle they can get.

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If you have to ask, Mike…[Marc-Grégor Campredon]

Seth: Via the practice insiders Spanellis won't ever be a tackle because he's too stiff, but he's smart enough to play center.

Ace: Ruiz seems to have that spot quite locked up. They’re running him out for pressers.

Brian: I don't think it's ominous for Michigan, just Onwenu. Spanellis did some good work as OL 6 last year.

Ace: I admittedly really want to see Grapes of Wrath succeed.

Seth: I'm sure they're working Spanellis at center so they're not screwed if they lose Ruiz.

BiSB: There is still the fact that Onwenu is a massive human being, and may never be able to play a full game in September heat.

Seth: Yeah but there were other issues on the tape last year before Ruiz passed him. He's the main culprit in leaving zone blocks early, and was part of the stunt problems.

BiSB: If they have enough bullets at tackle, it isn't too much of a luxury to look for a 4th 'starter' on the inside.

Seth: I would be more comfortable with two or three more bullets. Decent second-year starters at tackle are either freaks who had left tackle bodies before they could drive a car, or early 1st rounders. Michigan whiffed at grad transfer options, and whiffed on all the freaks. They realistically have three shots at a star.

And the hit rate on those is under 33%.

Brian: Star? I just want something I can look at without bursting into flame.

BiSB: /lights a candle for Ed Warinner

Seth: Meant future star—Jake Long 2004 wasn't exactly pretty. But yes I'd take freshman Mason Cole.

Ace: Hudson is a really interesting wild card in that regard. He’s the guy who keeps getting talked up as having that type of potential. If he can use his physical gifts to just stay in front of people, that’d be huge.

BiSB: I hope he breaks through at tackle, if for no other reason than he seemed to have so much promise on the defensive side of the ball

Ace: That too. I loved him at DT.

Seth: The nice thing about Hudson is you would expect him to be coming from behind. Wasn't he injured last year before they moved him to offensive line? Like we already have a starting point with Stueber and Filiaga that their coaches preferred a line with Kugler and Ulizio to burning their redshirts.

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RUNNING BACKS

Ace: Higdon and Evans both being in the “you’re good enough to sit this game out” stage.

And O’Maury Samuels showing instincts to go with his absurd athleticism.

Seth: Kurt Taylor rips off mask revealing he actually is Mike Hart.

BiSB: Of all of the position groups, it feels like there was the least to glean about this one

Ace: We have a pretty good idea of what this is going to look like. Higdon/Evans split with someone else maybe getting 50 carries.

Seth: Yeah one Samuels good vision run and 10 guys with the same number as Tru Wilson to keep Grapentine on his toes and I'm good. Fullback?

Ace: Mason is hurt and VanSumeren isn’t on campus yet. Next.

Seth: Is he really hurt or were Brown’s linebackers showing up to practice wrapped in pillows? Dr. Blitz did say in a presser that Devin Bush Jr. had good reason to run to Florida and it was impressive that he didn’t, which that would be my reaction if Ben Mason was coming South at me.

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WIDE RECEIVER

Ace: Donovan Peoples-Jones running a complete route tree.

Seth: One fade to Black. The guy I really wanted to see was Oliver Martin.

Ace: I’m surprised Brian hadn’t jumped in with that yet.

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You say the guy we were all irrationally excited about from last year’s class has passed a loaded depth chart of upperclassmen already? [Upchurch]

Brian: Basically all of them are interesting and incomplete.

Ace: Nico Collins should also get a mention. He’s as intriguing as any of them.

Brian: Nate Schoenle again got some call-outs. McDoom and Crawford have been conspicuously absent.

Seth: Noticed that. The 2016 class has apparently fallen behind the 2017 class.

BiSB: As boring as this is, I'd like to see some run blocking from the outside guys. If they can get within a standard deviation of Crawford in that category, it's hard to see him keeping a starting role.

Ace: I’m… okay with the 2017 jumping 2016 development.

Brian: Yeah. It was rough for both those guys last year. Although part of that was McDoom being vastly miscast.

Like, TE-taking-a-handoff miscast.

Seth: Yeah. Crawford was one of the most maddening players in recent memory. McDoom might be a Breaston eventually but if he's only ever a really fun jet package that makes defenses prepare for DOOOOOOOOM every week that's fine.

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TIGHT END

Ace: ENTRY

BiSB: Nick Eubanks looking Tight End-y

Ace: Wheatley is hurt, so we wouldn’t have been able to see other guy I most wanted to see.

Brian: I feel that's about 80% set and it would have been more about seeing McKeon develop.

Ace: I assume McKeon is going to be pretty darn reliable at worst.

Brian: Yes but he had good SPARQ so he's a potential gamebreaker if he develops real nice.

Seth: Unfortunately Gentry too is dinged and was going to be out, but the latest from my practice guy is he's the star of the offense since they started using him as a Flex guy.

Ace: I’m so on board with this. RPOs with Gentry up the seam, please.

BiSB: The Mike Gesicki potential is real with Gentry

Brian: Already a better blocker

BiSB: So is a nice breeze.

Seth: /giphy Mike Gesicki blocking

Seth: Oh I'm keeping that.

Brian: A+ giphy

Ace: Damn, giphy. Fire.

Comments

trueblueintexas

April 12th, 2018 at 4:07 PM ^

Everything about offense this Spring had to be about the OT positions, right?

Assuming Drevno really was the problem with the offense last year, I expect QB & WR play to improve simply based on coaching changes. 

What is still unknown, despite Warinner's track record, is if there is something to work with at the tackle positions. I think seeing the 4-5 contenders compete live would have given some kind of indication to how bad/good/acceptable the O-line could be this year.

outsidethebox

April 13th, 2018 at 7:24 AM ^

In general, I agree. From the outside one cannot tell exactly what the poor QB play entailed-my guess is that the coaches were asking these college kids to play like all-pros...and here is where the saying "Perfection is the enemy of good" comes into play. Neither the o-line nor the QBs could handle an all-or-nothing pass play. There have got to be more quick, check-down options for them to "bail" on. 

Mongo

April 12th, 2018 at 5:11 PM ^

Hudson and Stueber locked in a real battle for the starting LT job.  Rest of the OL to be settled at:  Bredesen LG, Ruiz C, Onwenu RG, JBB RT ... with Spans and Runyan as interior and exterior backups, respectively.   Filiaga, Honigford coming on during the season to add a bit more depth behind Spans and Runyan.  OL becomes a solid unit under Warriner.  Go Blue !!!

Hold This L

April 12th, 2018 at 5:41 PM ^

But I still have faith in Peters. I watched the same bowl game we all did. I'm not excusing some of his major brain farts. I will defend them to a degree, however. Run game was non existent, receivers weren't creating separation, not a lot of time to throw, no cohesiveness among the offensive coaches, horrible, predictable, early 1900s style playcalling. Yea he missed a deep throw. So does every QB ever. When the big mistakes started, South Carolina had all the momentum and he was trying to create something for the team/offense so he took some unnecessary risks. I think Patterson is uber talented but that manziel type Hero ball is hot or cold, there's no in between. I think Peters projects as the best NFL prospect of him, McCaffrey, and Patterson. Give him a real opportunity to show what he can do. He still performed the best by far of all three QBs last year with that dumpster fire of an offense. He has the total package as far as tools, but it doesn't matter who you have back there if you have a bad o line, young receivers, and the defense knows exactly what you're trying to do. The disconnect between Frey, Pep, and Drevno would have spelled doom for anyone, even if aaron rodgers came back to play. 

outsidethebox

April 13th, 2018 at 7:37 AM ^

I agree. Vocal leadership is WAY over-rated. I know this is a "hind-sight is 20-20" (though it was what I thought at the time :) ) thing but Peters should have been the starter from day one last year to let him get his feet under him by the time the meat of the schedule came around. I was disappointed with his play last year but there was so much questionable coaching-good grief! (Drevno, Harbaugh's LONG-TIME assistant, wasn't sent packing without significant reason(s).)

DoubleB

April 13th, 2018 at 8:19 AM ^

know how you can have faith after that bowl game. He wasn't good at all. Everyone wants to put that on the coaches but the passing game plan in that game was extremely simple. Quicker PAP reads, a few 5-step routes with 1 read, screens, and some 3-step. And S. Carolina wasn't disgusing it's defense. He couldn't make the read. He just held the ball forever. Maybe he was still injured and if so, that's the beginnings of a reason. But he had absolutely no urgency to his play. None.

OL was fine in the bowl game and the WRs weren't bad. RB protection wasn't good so that didn't help. At the end of the day though, the QB cost them that ball game.

When you play really good teams, the QB has to be able to make plays. It's not always going to be Rutgers and MAC teams where the running game is working and you can do what you want because you're better.