As spring games go, especially for this Michigan team, Saturday was about as good expected. Good weather is always fleeting in early April in Michigan, so that was a nice luxury to have. Estimates put the crowd at about 60K, which feels about right. Maybe in the future it would be a good idea to set up the turnstiles to keep better track of such things.
I personally spent (most of) the day down on the sidelines snapping photos…until I had an unfortunate run-in with Blake Countess when I was sandwiched between him and one of the large speakers set up on the sidelines. No worries sports fans, I'm fine…but my camera lens (and the speaker I guess)...not so much.
Spring game coverage from MBN
• Spring Game High's and Low's
• Spring Game Photos
• Post Spring Game Analysis: Wolverines defense looks stout, offense a work in progress
Good and bad, like any spring game
Overall, my review of the game itself was about the same as everyone else's. The offenses looked well behind the defense in terms of development and athleticism. And that makes sense when you look at the returning starters and the depth that's already in place. Lots of 3rd and longs. Lots of drops. Lots of missed blocks and holes that were't there.
Michigan's OL depth is lacking a bit, so when you split that group into two units, that spreads them pretty thin. Last year's offense struggled immensely, so even with the new schemes and the #HarbaughEffect, it's still going to take more time for that side of the ball to catch up.
An area Michigan struggled a lot last year was creating turnovers, and on the first two possessions of the spring game, Michigan got two interceptions, so that was encouraging. Sophomore cornerback Brandon Watson had a couple really nice plays early.
Up front, guys like Ryan Glasgow, Bryan Mone, Willie Henry and Chris Wormley all had good games, and will anchor a pretty good defensive front that has all the markings of being one of the best defenses in the league and the country. No doubt, at least early on in the season, the defense is going to be key for keeping Michigan in some of the early tests like Utah, Oregon State and Maryland. They need to give this offense time to gel…which I do think it can do.
Quarterbacks get most of the attention most of the time and spring games are no different. Michigan's QB spot is wide open and it's likely the starter for next season didn't even play last Saturday. It was really nice to see the QBs be live, taking full contact all day. I think these guys need that.
The only two QBs to get reps were junior Shane Morris and true-freshman to be Alex Malzone…which is telling with redshirt freshman Wilton Speight in the house. Both QBs had rough starts initially with some unfortunate drops/INTs. Malzone showed some nice footwork getting out of the pocket and also showed some good arm strength at times. But he's young and will improve.
Shane Morris improved as the day went on and looked like the better option going forward. Shane has a great arm and some impressive accuracy. There's no question he had the better day between the two.
But all eyes will be on incoming Iowa graduate-transfer Jake Rudock when he gets here this summer. He and incoming freshman Zach Gentry will push big time for the starting spot…and for Michigan, having that competition for the QB role will be nice for OC Tim Drevno and pass game coordinator Jedd Fisch…and head coach Jim Harbaugh, of course.
Man, Michigan has a great coaching staff.
• Bo-style "M" hats everywhere.
• Jabrill Peppers is fun to watch and will impact games this season if he can stay healthy.
• Nice to see Norfleet playing CB, showing some versatility, but man is he small.
• Lots of good receivers that will step up…Dukes, Chesson, Darboh could all have big years.
• Not concerned about RBs at all…plenty of good depth there that will create good competition, plus Ty Wheatley is the RB's coach.
• Bryan Mone and Chris Wormley are probably my favorite guys on M's defense. DE Lawrence Marshall looks pretty solid, too.