Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, April 3, 2015
I'll be in Ann Arbor this weekend to watch the lid be taken off the first spring football game for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. I?m guessing he?ll be wearing a Michigan blue mock turtleneck, khakis and a ball cap. And every move and whistle tweet he makes will be cheered wildly.
But I?m not going there to critique Harbaugh?s wardrobe. Lord knows, my wardrobe needs help. I?m going to see how the Wolverine icon?s initial team is looking as he tries to right the ship on a listing program that hasn?t won the Big Ten since – wait for it – 2004.
You can watch too as the game will air live on BTN TV and online via BTN2Go – click here to get the live link.
Most spring games aren?t really ?games.? But Michigan will play an actual game as the Wolverines announced the spring rosters earlier this week. So, maybe we can start getting some answers to these five questions.
Search for a quarterback
It?s no secret: A quarterback is needed. Honestly, this team hasn?t had a legit signal-caller since Chad Henne left after the 2007 season. How bad has it been the last two years? Wolverine signal-callers combined for 30 touchdowns and 37 picks. Junior Shane Morris, true freshman Alex Malzone and redshirt freshman Wilton Speight have had their good and bad moments so far this spring.
Experience? It?s minimal, as only Morris has played-starting two games. In the fall, touted true freshman Zach Gentry will arrive and compete. (Houston transfer John O?Korn also will arrive but must sit out 2015.) The X-factor will be Iowa transfer Jake Rudock, who will have one year of eligibility after recently transferring. Bottom line: The competition for this job is just beginning. This spot figures to come down to Morris vs. Rudock.
This unit has some nice potential. But the new staff has installed a 3-4 scheme after the program operated out of a 4-3 alignment. How does it look? The players have been fed a lot of information this spring. Maybe too much. But coordinator D.J. Durkin wanted to dump the playbook on the personnel.
There is still plenty of time to adapt and adjust. And there also is some talent for what could be a good unit. It will be fun to see DB Jabrill Peppers, who apparently has been impressive in practices. And is rising star Bryan Mone able to handle the nose tackle spot?
The offensive line, once a hallmark of this proud program, has been in disrepair in recent years. But the unit looks to be developing nicely under Tim Drevno, who doubles as offensive coordinator. Fifth-year senior Graham Glasgow is back from suspension and looking good at center.
Mason Cole also is back after a sensational true freshman season at tackle. Erik Magnuson, Ben Braden and Kyle Kalis are other good building blocks. And I wanna see Logan Tuley-Tillman, who may end up winning a spot at tackle.
Catch that pass
The only position with perhaps a bigger legacy at Michigan than the offensive line is receiver. Any difference-makers here? Devin Funchess bolted early for the pros after a somewhat disappointing 2014 season. Maybe Amara Darboh is the guy. Freddy Canteen also could break out after tantalizing last season.
It will be interesting to watching Brian Cole, who arrived early from high school as the top recruit from the state of Michigan. This team needs someone to stretch the field. At the least, Michigan has tight end Jake Butt. How will redshirt freshman Ian Bunting look?
Run the dang ball
Michigan needs some star running backs. Juniors Derrick Green and De?Veon Smith are capable. But, is either special? Remember, Green arrived as the nation?s No. 1 running back prospect according to one recruiting service. USC transfer Ty Isaac, a one-time five-star recruit, is another intriguing possibility as he is now eligible after sitting out 2014. None of these backs is a blazing runner, but Jim Harbaugh surely likes their move-the-chains ability.
Feeling nostalgic? Here's a look back at last year's highlights from the Michigan spring practice.
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|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.|
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