Spring Game Takeaways: Negatives

Posted on Posted in Michigan Football

Hello again, Michigan fans:

After watching, re-watching, and watching the Spring Game over the past few days, I’ve come away with several negatives and several positives that we can legitimately take away from the game. As always, bad news first, good news later, so follow me through the jump to check out the negative takeaways:

Disclaimer: Yes, this is a spring scrimmage. Yes, this is a watered-down offense playing against a vanilla defense. No, these positional lineups are far from final. Yes, you should take a huge grain of salt with what I’m about to write. Yes, this is a tiny sample size. 

Defensive Ends

Yeah, Frank Clark looks pretty good. He looks like his first step has gotten quicker and he’s even bigger than he was last year. That’s good….but he can’t be the only defensive end on the roster worth a damn. Brennan Beyer looked pretty good against 280lb freshman Mason Cole…but that isn’t very indicative of how he’ll handle 300+ pound B1G road-grading offensive tackles. Clark and Beyer are generally considered to be the starters at defensive end, and I’m OK with that, but it’s the depth where I’m worried. Taco Charlton looked big and fast and strong, all of which are great things, but I also didn’t see any significant technique improvements. Sure, small sample size applies here, but this is a Michigan football blog, and dammit, we’re all entitled to freak out a little bit over tiny samples like a spring scrimmage. I will say that Henry Poggi looked pretty good…he finally seems big enough to handle the SDE position and his technique (albeit on only a few plays) looked pretty sound. He used his hands well and his bullrush was strong. I didn’t notice much of Mario Ojemudia which is somewhat concerning, seeing as the presumed primary backup to Clark on the weak side. Overall, it’s tough to make a full judgement off of a single scrimmage with 5 months until kickoff, but I had expected to see better play from the ends, especially with 2 new offensive tackles starting.

Safety Depth

Is there even any safety depth? Jarrod Wilson presumably has one of the safety spots locked down and I think he looked pretty good, but other than him….is it Delano Hill starting? Is it Dymonte Thomas? Does Jeremy Clark figure in at all? Dymonte, admittedly, looked pretty good in run support from what I saw on film, but is there a reason why Delano was starting on Saturday? It could be, quite possibly, that Hill started as a motivation tool for Thomas. Who even knows? Bottom line here is, quite simply, I’m concerned that outside of Jarrod Wilson, Michigan will be relying on underclassmen at the safety spot. Dymonte Thomas has worlds of talent, Delano Hill is very athletic, and Jeremy Clark is full of untapped potential…but can the 3 of them combined form a legitimate starting safety? Time will tell.

Offensive Tackle

Look folks, I’m gonna shoot straight with you here. I’m terrified of Michigan’s offensive line, and not in a good way. I’m terrified that they’re just going to be awful. To be honest, I was actually pleasantly surprised with how they played on Saturday, given how low my expectations were. That being said…they still didn’t look good. Mason Cole played pretty well at left tackle, and he has really good feet. However, he’s still way too light and not strong enough to handle the B1G. He has solid technique, and plays with a mean streak, but he was too easily bull rushed, and can’t hold off stronger defensive linemen (yet). David Dawson is a guard all the way, in my opinion. I just don’t think he has the lateral agility nor quickness to play the edge, especially the blind side. He’s strong and has good technique, but his feet just simply aren’t quick enough, at least in my view, to handle edge rushers. Graham Glasgow is probably the best offensive lineman on the team, and could start at 4 positions (excluding left tackle), but naturally has been suspended for the opener. Of course this could mean nothing, but I’m pretty concerned that Patrick Kugler was the 3rd center, behind Jack Miller and Ben Pliska. I, for one, thought that he would at least make the 2 deep at center, backing up Glasgow, but definitely ahead of Miller and Pliska. Again, that might mean nothing, or it might mean everything. Kyle Kalis and Kyle Bosch didn’t stand out in any way to me, which I’m taking as a positive.

Devin Funchess 

Catch the ball, please. Pretty please? You’re a freak athlete and easily one of the best wide receivers in the conference, and maybe the country…catch the ball. We need you to do so.

Tight End Skill

I guess I’ve just been spoiled the last few seasons, seeing how productive Funchess and Butt have been. But at the same time, I’m terrified of just how bad the tight end position might be in 2014. AJ Williams looks like he’s gotten more comfortable running routes, but he still doesn’t look very good blocking. Keith Heitzman looks like he might be a capable blocker, but watching him run routes is depressing. Khalid Hill just looks too small to be an effective “true” tight end, but could end up a very, very good H-back. I miss Jake Butt

That’s it for right now, folks. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section, and I’ll be back later this week with positive takeaways. Go Blue!!!

Derek Devine
Institutional voice of Alma College during the day, Michigan fanatic at night. Taking TBHR to the next level one post at a time.