Hello again, Michigan faithful.
It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve written anything, and I do apologize for that. I’m in my final semester of undergrad with 21 credits, so midterms over the past few weeks have sapped all of my writing time.
Anyways, moving on. Spring practice is in full swing, and with that comes several positional battles. Over the next few days, I’m going to take a look at many of the more interesting position battles going on. I’m not going to analyze the battle for the 5th cornerback job or the battle for the backup kicker job; mostly because I don’t really think I could write a detailed analysis on them.
Okay, here we go:
Devin Gardner vs. Shane Morris
This isn’t a battle. Stop saying it is. This is Devin Gardner’s team unless he’s grievously injured, and all reports indicate that he’s fine.
Projected Winner: Devin Gardner.
Derrick Green vs DeVeon Smith
I don’t really think this is a “battle”, per se. Nussmeier has made it clear that his offense will utilize several running backs, and there won’t be a guy who’s expected to carry the ball 25+ times per game. However, I do believe that there will be a guy who gets the plurality of carries, and in that scenario, this “battle” needs a “winner”. Derrick Green is the more complete back in my opinion, as he’s faster than Smith (especially now that he’s down to 220 pounds), is a better receiver, and I believe he has better vision.
Smith is more of the bruiser–the guy that looks to run people over get the tough yards. Green is a bruiser in his own right, but he also has better ability to make people miss in space. I think they will both get a good share of the carries, but for the purpose of this article, I’ll say…
Projected Winner: Derrick Green
#2 Wide Receiver
Amara Darboh vs Jehu Chesson vs Drake Harris
If Darboh was healthy, this wouldn’t really be a battle, in my opinion. He’s the best bet as far as a complete receiver, but he’s not 100% recovered from a foot injury that cost him the entire 2013 season. He is a big bodied guy, has good (but not great) speed, runs clean routes, controls his body well, and has good hands. He’s the Adrian Arrington to Funchess’ Mario Manningham, so to speak.
Chesson showed some good things last year in his first season of playing time, but he also showed that he’s very raw in some areas. He still needs to add some weight, although he’s definitely bigger than when he came in. His route running needs extensive work, and overall he just needs to get more comfortable. Working in his favor is that he’s already a pretty solid blocker and he’s faster than Darboh, which adds to the “stretch the field” meme that’s become so prevalent. He’ll see time, no doubt, but if Darboh is healthy, I’d give him the nod.
Drake Harris is the wildcard here. He missed the entire 2013 season, his senior year of high school, with a hamstring issue. He enrolled early, which is surely helping him, but I haven’t heard if he’s able to go 100% or if he’s still somewhat limited by the injury. I don’t think anyone would argue that he has the highest ceiling of all of the receivers on the roster, save Funchess, but will he be able to harness that potential right away? He’s fast, he’s big, he can jump out of the gym, and he runs good routes…but will all of that potential come into play right away? I’m skeptical
Projected Winner: Amara Darboh if healthy.
Note: It’s hard for me to project positional battles on the offensive line, since Magnuson is hurt, we don’t know about Kugler’s health, and Logan Tuley-Tillman is limited by a hand injury. If I had to guess, the line would look something like (from left to right) Magnuson-Bosch-Glasgow-Kalis-Braden, but Dawson is supposedly impressing the coaches, and I have no idea how guys like Chris Fox or Jack Miller (at guard) are looking.
Come back in a couple days and I’ll take a look at the defensive positional battles. Until then, as always, you can follow me on twitter @B_Sakowski_PG, and Go Blue!!