Top 10 things I am looking forward to seeing in Spring Ball

Submitted by Phoenix on March 13th, 2011 at 3:55 PM

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.



March 13th, 2011 at 4:01 PM ^

#3 is what I'm most looking forward too. Between Mattison/Hoke/Montgomery, the d-line should be a force. If some sort of a platoon can emerge between Campbell/Washington/Ash at DT, then the d-line is going to be a nightmare for other teams with Martin, RVB and Roh.


March 13th, 2011 at 4:06 PM ^

is supposedly starting out at CB, but I don't know how much he's actually expected to pratice, if at all, this spring.


Furman and Robinson are both safeties to start.



March 13th, 2011 at 4:06 PM ^

I'm looking forward to seeing a place kicker put the ball somewhere between the goal posts when asked to kick a field goal.  I don't think we realize just how much out inability to that last year impacted our scoring as well as the decision-maiking we had to make becaause we couldn't when needed.


March 13th, 2011 at 4:07 PM ^

In addition to Stokes, I think Ricardo Miller has a chance to really emerge.  I'm excited to see how things will change (or stay the same) with our WR's this year.


March 13th, 2011 at 4:12 PM ^

10. I hope Miller gets a chance to play WR. This will be an interesting battle with Williamson, Miller, Robinson, Jackson & Stokes but as for the seniors I think Hemingway and Odoms will be really good this year. 

7. Definitely looking forward to this too. 

6. I really think Cox could break out at RB - I am not trying to knock the capabilities of the other guys. 

2. I have a feeling a true freshman will contribute at CB this fall. 




March 13th, 2011 at 4:19 PM ^

The staff has already mentioned that they would like to rotate the D-line more frequently in order to stay fresh. To do this, we are going to need some younger guys to step up. Jibreel at this point is the only one I am certain of being ready to have an impact next year and he is a DE.


March 13th, 2011 at 4:40 PM ^

I hope that the new boards are up, at least in the north end zone. I've been addicted to watching "paint dry" on the live feed. 


March 13th, 2011 at 4:48 PM ^

but not by much. Throttle back your expectations. All the players will be facing a new play book and learning new techniques.

Spring ball will expose their unfamiliarity with the new system offensively and defensively.

 The biggest problem will be DR. As skilled as he is, he is not built to be a pro-style quarterback and not big enough to be a running back. He will be an anomaly to the coaches and team. They will try to fit him in but it will be difficult. Look for Gardner to see much more playing time.

Finally, do hold out much hope for the next season. There will be some improvement but not much.


March 13th, 2011 at 4:49 PM ^

I'm looking forward to all of these, but really, it's the defensive improvement and how much of a change in offensive philosophy we'll have that are the things I'm most interested in.


March 13th, 2011 at 5:47 PM ^

if Taylor Lewan will be able to keep his emotions under control this season and avoid some of the penalities he took last year. I'm really hoping we see him in true Jake Long form this year. Also, you guys think Huyge or Schofield will start at right tackle?


March 13th, 2011 at 6:57 PM ^

Why reading and grammar matter:

To number ten listed by the op, I could care less whether stokes compliments roundtree at any time during his stay in a2. I am way more concerned as to whether he complements tree in 2012 .


March 13th, 2011 at 7:07 PM ^

For some reason, I have no worries about Denard; he has a wonderful work ethic, he's a leader, and I think the coaches will have him ready to go and surprise critics. I'm expecting at least competence with the running backs, as all are talented kids.

We know we have a talented O line that should be able to open up holes. We have a receiving corps with good potential.

I'm looking forward to the changes on defense, most specifically, improved LB play and hitters at the safety and cornerback positions who are truly in position to make plays.

Based on film and online descriptions, the new kicker looks like he'll do the job just fine. We should be in a decent punting situation with a sophomore who showed some promise at times last year. But I'm also looking forward to improvements in punt coverage with the new coaching staff at the helm.

It's certainly looking too far ahead to say this, but what the heck; I honestly expect us to be in every game with good B16 teams next year to the end, and to get 9-10 wins. So I'd like to see that kind of potential on the field in the spring game, and I actually think we will see it.


March 13th, 2011 at 8:17 PM ^

I Love hearing about Big Will dominating in winter drills which is a huge + for the defense

1)I Have a feeling Hopkins or Tousant will become the feature back because there big and have speed like a traditional Big 10 back....But dont doubt V.Smith he could stay the feature back.

2) Special Teams...I  just want to see someone to make field goals which is why i think Hoke getting that kicker in this  class maybe the most underated commit in 2011 class.

3)How will the Def line and Off line adapt to this new pro-style,4-3 schemes. Can the Def get pressure to the opposing QBs/RBs. Can The offense line open enough gapes for the RB's to produce and can they provide protection for the QB.

4)Secondary Have they improved???? i know there young but how will they improve from there 1st year to the 2nd.

5)Staying Healthy This Should have been number 1 but idk..

Football is back in A2...I cant wait to here the updates from practice on all the family blogs.


Go Blue!!!!