|William Campbell (#73) will get his chance to be The Man in the middle of Michigan's defensive line|
Here are the things I'm most excited to see in the spring game.
Who "starts" at cornerback? Rumors this spring have suggested that Terrence Talbott is playing with the first team, sometimes over returning starter J.T. Floyd. I have never been a huge fan of Floyd's abilities as a corner, and I will be curious to see whether Talbott can perform when he gets the opportunity. We haven't seen much of Talbott since 2010 when he was a true freshman, and frankly, he was a kid who should have redshirted. How much has he improved? I'm not rooting for Floyd to lose his job; I'm rooting for the best player to play. I wonder which guy it will be.
How good is the defensive line? Michigan lost three starters from last season, and the lone remaining starter is changing from weakside end to strongside end. Nose tackle William Campbell showed flashes of brilliance last season and is penciled in as the starter this year. Hopefully he can be consistent. Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer are classmates who are each vying for the weakside end position. My guess is that at least one of those two becomes a solid full-timer at some point this season.
Can the freshmen play? I'm not expecting to see a great deal of Kaleb Ringer, but Joe Bolden is supposedly the #2 middle linebacker already and Jarrod Wilson seems to be the #2 free safety. I don't have high hopes for Wilson to look great on Saturday because safety is a difficult position to adjust to early. But so is middle linebacker, and the reports on Bolden have been glowing.
How good are the receivers? I have serious concerns about the receivers' abilities to get open consistently. Tight end Brandon Moore is likely bound to be mediocre, Roy Roundtree struggled on the outside, and Jeremy Gallon seems to be a complementary guy who's being squeezed into a primary role. If Jerald Robinson isn't solid on Saturday, I will be very concerned going into September.
Can the offensive get anything going? I might be wrong, but I have a feeling that the spring game is going to be a bit of a stinker. First of all, I doubt Brady Hoke and Al Borges are going to open up the offense at all. I think they'll be very vanilla. With two new starters on the interior offensive line (Ricky Barnum at center, likely Elliott Mealer at left guard) and questions at receiver, I'm guessing William Campbell and the linebackers are going to feast on the #1 offense. And remember - they won't have to tackle Denard Robinson. They'll just have to get close enough to him to make the officials blow the whistle.