The University of Michigan Wolverines are hosting their annual spring football game on Saturday, April 5th, at The Big House. Michigan has a lot of bright spots on the team, and are littered with talent. However, there is uncertainty around the team, questions marks plague the depth chart, and Saturday will give people a measurement of where they are versus where they want to be.
One of the biggest questions is who will replace Taylor Lewan? Not every day does a 19-20 year old man-child stroll into your facility and say he can play, so they will have some work to do at the left tackle position. Early-enrollee Mason Cole has impressed the staff at this point, so would Brady Hoke pull the trigger on the young man from Tarpon Springs, Florida? If he continues to hold his own, and progress at the same time, it could be hard to go against the 6-4, 285 true freshman. If he can fill the void left by Lewan, Michigan could be in good hands for the next 3-4 years.
For those who are wondering about a quarterback competition potentially upsetting Devin Gardner, think again.
“I’m a competitor, I’m going to compete and they’ll pick the best quarterback when it’s time,” Gardner said, “(But) I’m the quarterback of the team.” (- Tom Fornelli, CBSSports.com)
Gardner will benefit greatly from new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier‘s guidance and grooming, so it really isn’t a concern about who Michigan will be starting at quarterback. There has been whispers by some that Gardner could be competing for his job, but unless Shane Morris of Wilton Speight catch lightning in a bottle, Gardner is the guy at QB. Many question Gardner’s decision making, and are quick to jump on him after some mistakes; some warranted, other times not so much. Morris, Speight and Gardner were all All-Americans, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee success. You guys remember Bubba Starling? Rankings or accolades in High School don’t necessarily mean success in college. Point being, just because your roster is littered with talent, doesn’t mean they are all going to pan out. Gardner has done well to this point, given the circumstances people could say he may have overachieved, and deserves to be the week one starter.
It will also be a game that I will be focusing on the defense pretty heavily. The linebacking core has been shuffled, Jake Ryan will now play middle linebacker and it will be interesting to see how he is adapting to the role. The secondary is also interesting to me; Blake Countess is my guy to watch, but I want to see what Dymonte Thomas can do as well. This is a game where chemistry could be developed, without any pressure of “losing” the game. As far as the defensive line goes, they will be the unit that has the most to prove. The group has vastly underachieved, so Saturday will be the right time to make strides at hitting their potential, or at least make some head-way.
My sleeper pick in the game will be Freddy Canteen. He has impressed almost everyone who has seen him in practice so far, so he will have his audition for the slot receiver position Saturday. He was one of the least talked about players in Michigan’s recruiting class, but that has since changed, which is a great sign. Moe Ways could also be a nice piece to the puzzle if he could play to the best of his abilities this season.
Michigan’s spring game will begin at 2:00 pm EST on Saturday, April 5th in Ann Arbor. The game will be played on the Big Ten Network.