Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, April 7, 2014
This will be Michigan?s fourth season under Brady Hoke. And, make no mistake about it: It?s a crossroads campaign. No one in Ann Arbor was satisfied with the 7-6 record last season. And heads rolled, as offensive coordinator Al Borges was fired. Hoke looked to Alabama for a replacement, tabbing Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier.
Nussmeier has installed a pro-style approach that involves tight ends, a power rushing game and some more complex pass concepts. Hard to say things looked much different on Saturday during what essentially was more of a scrimmage than a game.
Here are some thoughts from the action:
1. The offensive line was one of the most scrutinized areas of the team. The unit struggled to get a consistent push all season, especially from the interior three spots. No shock that Devin Gardner was sacked 34 times. And the two most steady areas of the unit-tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield-are gone. There are lots of interesting pieces to sort though. Kyle Kalis and Kyle Bosch look like front-runners at guard. David Dawson and Ben Braden are looking good at tackle. There are several battling at center, with Graham Glasgow, Jack Miller and Patrick Kugler. In the spring game, the front started thusly: freshman LT Mason Cole, sophomore RG Kyle Bosch, redshirt junior C Jack Miller, redshirt sophomore RG Kyle Kalis and redshirt sophomore RT Ben Braden.
One thing's sure: The line doesn't want to let this happen again:
2. The running backs need to emerge. Derrick Green looked good, having lost 20 pounds and looking to be in better shape after an uneven freshman debut last fall. He should be better for a Michigan squad that averaged 125.7 yards rushing last season, which ranked 102 nationally. But is there a game-breaking back on this team? Justice Hayes? De?Veon Smith? Hayes looked the best on Saturday.
3. The unquestioned star all spring has been early enrollee wideout Freddy Canteen. Could he be that special wideout that has been missing from this offense in recent years? He had a nice 44-yard grab on Saturday. Regardless, Devin Gardner will have some nice targets this fall. Jehu Chesson is looking good. Ditto Devin Funchess, who figures to be the No. 1 target after arriving as a tight end.
4. Like Canteen, cornerback Jourdan Lewis has been a spring star. And he showed why many have raved about his this spring, picking off Devin Gardner?s first pass of the day. Lewis grabbed another INT, too. Michigan has both of its corners back in Raymon Taylor and Blake Countess. But Lewis could have a role along with incoming freshman stud Jabrill Peppers. The interesting battle in the secondary is to see who will start opposite Jarrod Wilson. Lots of options, with Jeremy Clark and Delano Hill looking good.
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.