Michigan Spring Game: Hoke Springs Eternal [Part II]

Ah yes. It’s that time of the year. That time when endless speculation concerning the fate our beloved Wolverines reaches its zenith. Indeed, the annual Michigan Football Spring Game was yesterday, and the second for head coach Brady Hoke. The Wolverines are coming off of an impressive season that saw the team win 11 games including a win in the Sugar Bowl. Appropriately, anticipation is high.

While the Wolverines return 15 starters from last year (6 offense, 7 defense, K/P), they need to fill some big holes on the offensive and defensive lines. Nevertheless, the Wolverines are right to expect much out of this year. They still boast one of the nation’s most dangerous offenses with quarterback Denard Robinson under center. There’s also reason for optimism in the running game as Fitzgerald Toussaint returns as the starting tailback, and probably Michigan’s best since the days of Mike Hart. Defensively, the losses of Mike Hart and Ryan Van Bergen will be significant, but the back 7 is almost entirely intact.

As the endless speculation continues, here are some of my observations from yesterday’s game.*

  1. Toussaint looks poised to build upon his success last year. He runs with great anticipation and without hesitancy.
  2. Quarterback Russell Bellomy looked pretty comfortable in the pocket. They didn’t run anything complicated through or at him. But he’s certainly better than the Nick Sheridan or David Cones of the world
  3. I was ready to call Thomas Rawls the latest beneficiary of running back coach Fred Jackson’s hyperbolic tendencies, but then he broke a long one. He’s got great size, runs downhill, and appears to have good vision, which is key for a tailback.
  4. Devin Gardner = meh. Looked great running with the rock, but I really only saw one good throw, and it was probably a better catch by Jeremy Gallon
  5. I liked what I saw out of the O-Line (both 1st and 2nd units).
  6. Having said that, it may just be that our D-lines weren’t all that impressive.
  7. With Junior Hemingway gone and Daryl Stonum off the team, there isn’t a whole lot to be excited about in the passing game. But Jeremy Gallon made a great adjustment in the air to catch a Gardner Pass. He and opposite receiver Roy Roundtree will be leaned on heavily to make plays given how thin the Wolverines are at the position.
  8. It was nice to see cornerback Blake Countess picking up right where he left off from last year. Granted it wasn’t the greatest pass from Gardner, but Countess showed off some skills with the pick.
  9. Thank god I didn’t block out an afternoon to watch this game in person. It was easily the most boring, vanilla spring game I’ve seen in a long time.
  10. But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s a sign of stability for the Wolverines. After all, this is the first time since the Carr era that we’ve had the same quarterback and offensive/defensive coordinators in back-to-back years.

*I fully comprehend that the Spring Game is merely exhibition. While the game features live contact, the quarterbacks are coddled and neither coordinator shows a whole lot, so caveats abound.

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