|Thomas Rawls (#38) looked pretty solid in today's spring game|
Denard Robinson didn't play much. We know what we have in Denard, and we're not going to know whether he can cut down on his interceptions until the fall. Devin Gardner looked very athletic. He seems to be faster and in better shape this year than last, but he struggled throwing the ball. He tried to force some throws, but the receivers really struggled to get separation from the defensive backs. That's probably why Gardner scrambled repeatedly, and he made the defense look silly at times. Third stringer Russell Bellomy looked like what we've been expecting - a game manager type who can scramble a little and make check-down throws, but he seems to lack the requisite arm strength for pushing the ball downfield.
Fitzgerald Toussaint continues to look like a star on offense. Backup Thomas Rawls looks faster and stronger to me than he did in the fall. He seems like a viable #2 back and he runs angry. You could tell when he got the ball that the defense stepped up its intensity a little bit, because those guys knew they were going to have a fight on their hands to get him down. He did make a nice touchdown run early, but keep in mind that he ran through the tackle of backup free safety Jarrod Wilson, who should still be two or three months away from graduating high school. Vincent Smith continues to be subpar running inside, but he caught the ball well. To me it's a wasted rep when he's handed the ball to run up the middle. Justice Hayes is in the same boat. He doesn't have any mass or strength behind him. If there's an injury to Toussaint or Rawls in the fall, the coaches are going to have to look at freshman Drake Johnson or maybe moving Hopkins back to tailback.
Hopkins and Kerridge looked pretty solid. Michigan should be set at this position, especially with reinforcements coming in the form of Sione Houma.
As I mentioned above, the receivers really struggled to separate from the defensive backs. We didn't see a whole lot of Roy Roundtree, but he and Jeremy Gallon looked decent. I would not be surprised to see Gallon lead the team in receptions this season. He's going to be a tough matchup. After that nobody looked particularly impressive. Jerald Robinson had an embarrassing drop, Jeremy Jackson is who he is, etc. Games this season will continue to be won on the ground.
This continues to be a weak spot. Brandon Moore didn't get any separation, and both Moore and Ricardo Miller struggled at the point of attack. They were playing against some pretty good defenders - Craig Roh, Jake Ryan, Cam Gordon - but tight end will be a liability this season, in both the running and passing games. I don't think we'll see as many two- and three-tight end formations as we did last season.
Taylor Lewan is a very good left tackle. The starter at left guard was Joey Burzynski. All spring we've heard that Elliott Mealer was the front-runner for the left guard position, and I think that might still be the case. I have no inside information on this, but I have a feeling that Burzynski's start was kind of a practical matter. The coaches didn't want Lewan on the field much; with Michael Schofield as the primary backup at left tackle, they seemed to want Mealer to rotate in at right tackle when Schofield flipped. Burzynski doesn't have the ability to play tackle. Burzynski looked fair against the pass and somewhat ineffective in the running game. Barnum blocked well, but he had two bad snaps because he failed to get the ball up to Denard before getting out of his stance. That will be something to watch heading into the season. Barnum also needs to speed up his shotgun snaps, which are noticeably slower than David Molk's. He's also got to work on calling protections. Omameh looked mostly solid but got blasted by William Campbell. Schofield struggled some in pass protection, but picked it up as the day went on. As far as backups go, the walk-ons played like walk-ons do, outside of Burzynski. Graham Glasgow doesn't know how to pull. Kristian Mateus looks downright skinny. Erik Gunderson might be able to play in a pinch. Chris Bryant looked solid in the running game. Jack Miller still lacks size. Barnum must stay healthy this season.