BTN.com staff, April 4, 2014
BTN/BTN2Go will air the Michigan spring game at 2 p.m. ET Saturday, with a re-air at 8. The Wolverines are coming off a frustrating 7-6 season, one that started with many experts pegging them for the Big Ten title game. There's a clear sense of urgency in Ann Arbor, as Michigan has gone from 11 to eight to seven wins in Brady Hoke's first three seasons.
[ HOW TO WATCH: This game airs live on BTN at 2 p.m. ET. Also watch live via BTN2Go ]
BTN.com will clip all of Saturday's top highlights and moments and tweet them out from @BTN_Michigan. After the Michigan Spring Game, at 4 p.m. ET, get Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith's analysis on "BTN Football Report: Spring Football Edition."
Are you on Twitter? Tweet your Big Ten football question right to our BTN analysts by using the hashtag #B1Gfootball. We'll use this hashtag throughout the month of April on our spring football telecasts. Now here's a clip from a recent scrimmage at Michigan.
And here's a look at three key questions Tom Dienhart has about Michigan.
[ MORE: Read all of Dienhart's spring football previews ]
1. Offensive line. Without a doubt, this area was a borderline disaster last season. The Wolverines started nine different players up front in 2013, using five different starting combinations. The two best aspects of the line were tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield. And each is gone. Bummer. The interior was the big issue. The staff tried its best, even shuffling personnel at guard and center. To no avail. How feeble was the push up front? Michigan ranked 11th in the Big Ten in rushing (125.7 ypg). As a point of reference, Ohio State paced the conference with a 308.6-yard average. Young blockers like Kyle Bosch, Kyle Kalis and Graham Glasgow-among others–need to develop. Now.
2. Doug Nussmeier. He assumes command of an offense that never really got on track last season en route to ranking 10th in the Big Ten (373.5 ypg). Al Borges? West Coast-oriented attack never took flight with Devin Gardner at the controls, struggling for consistency. Gardner tossed 11 picks. Is he really a pocket-quarterback who can run a more conventional ?Michigan? offense? Hoke has said the QB job is open, with Shane Morris in the mix. So, read into that what you will. Still, Job No. 1 for Nussmeier is to put teeth into the feeble rushing attack.
3. Stop big plays on defense. While it was vogue to pile-on the offense last season, the defense did little to distinguish itself, either. The Wolverine defense yielded too many big plays. To wit: Michigan allowed 23 touchdown passes. Only four Big Ten schools permitted more. The last time we saw this defense, Kansas State was shredding it for 420 yards and 31 points. More negative plays are needed by the front seven. No doubt, having a healthy Jake Ryan at linebacker will help as he transitions from outside to inside linebacker. End Frank Clark is a great cornerstone, along with corner Blake Countess. Others must emerge.
Key losses: DT Jibreel Black; WR Drew Dileo; WR Jeremy Gallon; K Brendan Gibbons; LB Cam Gordon; S Thomas Gordon; OT Taylor Lewan; OT Michael Schofield; RB Fitz Toussaint; DT Quinton Washington
Here are some of Gerry DiNardo's tweets from Michigan camp: