We had boots on the ground for the Michigan Wolverines‘ open practice and scrimmage Saturday night. The general buzz surrounding the team after that event wasn’t anything uncommon for Michigan fans. It’s not like we learned anything we didn’t already know or anticipate, but the overall level of pessimism regarding the offense, specifically the first-team offense, is completely unwarranted.
As we unanimously anticipated, the offensive line looks to still be a work in progress. Mason Cole was impressive the entire night and even received some praise from Brady Hoke after the game, but there weren’t too many nice things to say about the offensive line. That, of course, immediately leads to talk of the running back situation. Derrick Green, De’Veon Smith and Drake Johnson split the first-team reps and finished the night with 33 yards on 20 carries.
This is where it gets heated. 33 yards on 20 carries makes for an awful yards-per-carry stat, and it makes you re-live the days of last season when, after 20 carries, we were just hoping for a positive total. But why are we being so critical of stats from a scrimmage that was just put on for the benefit of the fans?
I can assure you that Hoke and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier were not going to put a finished product on display for the world to see two weeks before the start of the season. That would have been a foolish move on their part. Would it surprise you if some of (maybe many) Michigan’s 2014 opponents had eyes inside the stadium for this one? I wouldn’t doubt it. I understand the frustration that comes when spring practice and summer workouts don’t seem to have done anything to help the ground game, but can we give it a break for just a couple more weeks?
Devin Gardner also drew some attention to himself Saturday night, finishing 9-for-18 with 110 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Fans were impressed with a few plays in particular (like a one-handed snag from Devin Funchess), but on the whole, moans and groans became common once again.
For the second time, I’ll point to an obvious coaching call to put the clamps on the playbook, but outside of that, are we allowed to credit a really good defense? That’s what Michigan is working with this season, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Greg Mattison‘s crew looked solid Saturday night.
It’s always fun to get a chance to see what the team looks like a few weeks before the season kicks off, but let’s act responsibly and not blow numbers out of proportion.