Saturday's Spring Game provided a quick look at the 2015 Michigan Wolverines football season. Here are a few good and bad takeaways from the Spring Game.
1.) The overall play of the defense.
The defense played outstanding throughout the entire 40 minutes of the game. Despite being split-squad, both squads showed the ability to cause turnovers and make the opposing quarterback uncomfortable. Redshirt freshman Lawrence Marshall played outstanding at defensive end, and Jabrill Peppers made his triumphant return to the Big House. There were three combined interceptions, and one fumble, showing this defense is more than capable of forcing turnovers.
2.) The health of Jabrill Peppers. Peppers flew all over the field, playing multiple positions, and playing them well. After the game Peppers said he feels better than he did this time last year. If Peppers can stay healthy, he has the potential to be All Big-Ten or possibly even an All-American, and anchor this defense.
3.) Live game experience for Shane Morris and Alex Malzone. While the overall play between these two was not necessarily the greatest, the fact they were able to get game-like situations in is a good thing. Morris has limited experience, and Malzone has none at the college level, so getting these two into live hitting, live game type situations is key. There is a chance neither quarterback starts, and a chance that neither even play this season, but no matter what having them get some game type situations in won't hurt.
1.) Quarterback play. Based on scouting reports, and reports from past spring practices there was high hopes for Malzone to play like a full out stud. That didn't exactly happen, and the performance from Shane Morris wasn't exactly the greatest either. Early on, the quarterbacks exchanged interceptions, and seemed to look uncomfortable, mostly due to the strong defense on the other side of the ball. Some key drops from receivers did not help the numbers or the confidence for the quarterbacks, but getting settled seemed to be the bigger issue throughout the day. The offensive line still has some work to do, and this offense will mostly be a work in progress for Jim Harbaugh and his staff this season. But if we know anything about Jim Harbaugh's coaching, it is that this offense WILL get better as the season progresses.
2.) Running game. After De'Veon Smith opened up the game with a 36 yard carry, the next 15 carries between the two teams only went for one yard. Team Blue carried the ball 27 times for only 20 yards. While Team Maize had 53 yards on 22 carries, 50 of those yards came from Smith off seven carries. So basically other than Smiths run to start, the team had 19 carries for 17 yards, not exactly what you're looking for offensively. The two presumed top running backs Derrick Green and Ty Isaac combined for eight carries for nine yards, and while this could be Harbaugh not tipping his plan offensively, it may be something to worry about if it continues.
3.) Dropped Passes. Unfortunately all three lows come on the offensive side of the football, which is not what Michigan fans want. But too many open passes were dropped during the game for it not to be a concern. Some were off the mark passes, while some were just straight drops. Dropped passes can lead to the quarterback becoming more and more frustrated, and potentially getting tunnel vision to one receiver and forcing something into coverage. To add to it, the Wolverines did not do much throwing down the field, so a lot of the dropped passes came on short, quick routes, which is a major cause of concern.