Monday, April 19, 2010

Everything I love might not be a smoldering crater

So I downloaded MGoVideo's torrent of the Spring Game to rewatch and re-evaluate and my thoughts are slightly more positive than my initial reaction. Only slightly though.

Not too much changed in my evaluation here. Robinson is your far and away starter. Forcier looked kind of lost (though I presume much of this had to do with a second-team offense that he was out of rhythm with). And Gardner, while impressive for his youth, is clearly not ready to be on the field. Next year there will be a great QB battle.

So... the second team defense is basically a horror show. Vlad Emilien still doesn't look ready for the prime time. Mark Moundros as linebacker is a nice idea but he will absolutely not contribute in any meaningful way this year. The defensive line backups are fine but unremarkable. The point being, depth is going to be an issue. The incoming freshmen should help mitigate some of this, but not entirely. Also, they're true freshmen.

As for the first team defense, they're just OK. The biggest thing that stood out to me watching the film was problems with the linebackers (surprise). With Michigan sending out 4- and 5-wide sets for much of the spring game, this meant Roh and Mouton were being pulled back into the secondary to cover zippy slot men. The hope is that with the depth of the incoming freshmen, as well as doing package subs, Michigan will have a nickel look to mitigate these problems. Early down passing is going to hurt Michigan a lot this year.

The first team defensive line is good. They're clearly the strength, anchored by Will Campbell. He was plugging up the middle and the team actually did a good job on runs throughout the scrimmage, stuffing most of them for minimal gains (at least there was only one or two long runs that broke out). If we can get the linebackers and Kovacs to hit their gaps properly, this could be a kinda not terrible run defense. Speaking of Kovacs, my opinion of him has not changed. Watching the tape, he's just so clearly in over his head. He is going to be absolutely demolished this season by tight ends and big running backs. He doesn't have the speed to drop into coverage either. Expect him to be attacked often and successfully for the entire season. We need Marvin Robinson to be able to play Kovacs' position.

Other offense stuff
The running backs were all unremarkable. No way do you see a feature back this year though don't be surprised if Michigan starts using more I-formation with Hopkins who is clearly the most physical back on the team.

Taylor Lewan, the oft-hyped left tackle this spring was good in protection but definitely got a little lost a few times. The moving pocket seemed to be a bit of a problem for him and he had trouble getting to the second level on runs. In any case, he looked competent enough to be the starting left tackle and we can feel confident that he'll be valuable throughout his career.

The wide receivers and slots were also kind of Meh during the scrimmage. We hear a lot about Player X has the potential to be a big threat on every play, but Michigan never sends receivers downfield in this offense. Maybe having more years in the system/more experienced QBs will change that, but we certainly didn't see it in this scrimmage. Otherwise, they mostly caught the balls they were supposed to catch and then got tackled.

That's about it though. You're OMGWE'RETERRIBLE ceiling has been raised to 8-4, but I think that's grasping at straws.


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