Is the Offense That Bad, Or is the Defense That Good?

Saturday night at the Big House was an interesting night. Kind of like a spring game, only much better from a fan perspective...we got another chance to see Michigan vs. Michigan, which always leaves fans with more questions than answers.

But the first thing to remember for all of the knee-jerk reacting Michigan fans out there...this was a scrimmage. Not a game. We saw only what the coaches were comfortable showing the world…which as we all know, usually isn't much. The fact that they even had an event like this is shocking for a place like Michigan.

First of all, lets just admit right off the bat that the defense stole the show. All of the defense…every position looked experienced a loaded with talent. Not only did they show off their depth, which is plentiful, but I think the shifting of coaching duties in the offseason has already begun to pay dividends, especially in the secondary.

The defensive line might be as deep with talent as it has ever been. Ondre Pipkins, Maurice Hurst, Ryan Glasgow and Bryan Mone all looked great at nose tackle alone. Offensive line struggles aside, they will  only get better going up against guys like Chris Wormley, Willie Henry, Frank Clark, etc. All of the sudden, Michigan is rolling at least 3 deep in almost every position on the D-line with starter-level talent. They showed their muscle Saturday night.

Offensively, not great. You might have heard, offensive line had a rough night. Now, it can be said that this group is still coming together after a very bad 2013 season. It can also be said that there can be growth and improvement from week 1 to week 12. I believe the key to success will be consistency. I hope there can be 5 guys who can come together and become a cohesive unit from week to week.

But what we saw Saturday night was a defense that blitzed a lot (!), consistently got into the backfield and stuffed running lanes. Part of that is this defense knows what this offense is going to do. Another part is the defensive line is loaded and the offensive line is still a work in progress. Establishing chemistry. That's going to be the key these next two weeks. As we are seeing, it doesn't happen quickly.

Other positions of note, the quarterbacks looked good. Devin looked sharp and mobile in the pocket. A lot of people liked his ability to chuck the ball into the stands instead of getting annihilated like he did last year. Shane Morris impressed a lot of people with his scrambling and some longer throws. He may have hung onto the ball a little long at times, but he's developing well under Nussmeier.

Regardless, Devin the QB for this team. No doubt. But its nice to see an able backup out there.

Tough to get a read on the running backs with the OL struggling. We've heard good things about Drake Johnson and Deveon Smith but didn't really see it. I thought Derrick Green looked good in drills from what I saw. Potential looks like its there, but Michigan is by no means a ground and pound offense right now.

Receiving, Moe Ways stood out. Senior walk-on Bo Dever stood out. Funchess looks dominant. Darboh, Canteen and Chesson look as good as advertised. Norfleet had a big drop, but still looks Norfleet-esque. I had concerns about the departure of Gallon and Dileo…but I am encouraged by what I see out there.

Linebacker Joe Bolden has been getting a lot of attention this fall camp and know we know why. He looked and played like a senior out there.

The DBs were an interesting group to watch. There's so much talent and depth its crazy. Plus...a lot of man-to-man pressure...which was so nice to see. Countess looked great on the corner. And freshman standout Jabrill Peppers ended the night as the other corner with the starting D. Now he may be the starter week 1, he may start at nickel which is what we also saw Saturday night and been hearing all camp. Personally, I don't think he'll start at corner week 1…I think the coaches threw him out there to test him…but he looked good. It won't take long for him.

A lot of different bodies in the defensive backfield…which is a good sign I think.

All in all, I think somewhere between the sky is falling on offense and the defense is amazing, is where the state of Michigan Football is right now. There are still 12 days until the opener against (sigh) Appalachian State…during which time Michigan has plenty to work on.

But like I've been thinking all offseason, I'll know how to feel about this team when I look at the stat sheet after September 6th.

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