If you were looking for offense during Michigan's 2015 spring game, look elsewhere. If defense is more of your thing, then you're in the right place.
Michigan held its first spring game under new head coach Jim Harbaugh on Saturday which saw the Blue Team, coached by offensive coordinator Tim Drevno, defeat D.J. Durkin's Maize Team 7-0.
The game was a defensive affair that saw both offenses struggling to establish themselves early on in the spring. In the midst of a hotly contested quarterback battle, junior Shane Morris threw the game's only score to Jaron Dukes for a 14-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Morris, who was clearly the better quarterback on Saturday, threw for 135-yards and one touchdown.
The defense is ready: Almost always during this time of the year, the defense should be further along than the offense. If it isn't, well, you might have problems. In Michigan's case, the defense is experienced and returns many veterans on that side of the ball. They were aggressive, made impressive plays and looked ready to go if the regular season started tomorrow.
Take Lawrence Marshall for example. Durkin said that he wasn't able to line up to begin the spring but is now ready to make an impact this season. Marshall found himself with a wide open path to sack Morris and punished him. After the game, I asked Marshall about the sack and he said to me that he "just wanted to hit him," with a laugh. The biggest thing with the defense now is that they stay healthy.
No lead receiver has emerged...yet: Again, it's not surprising that the offense is a bit behind the defense right now. It doesn't necessarily mean that the same results from last season will repeat itself, but the offense should be somewhat ready by fall camp. However, it was a bit concerning (although expected) that no lead receiver emerged. Again, this is a split squad and Michigan is still trying to figure out a depth chart, but with Funchess' presence no longer on the sidelines, someone will have to step in and take those looks away. Amara Darboh seemed to be a favorite for Morris, but being covered by a much smaller Dennis Norfleet appeared to be an easy match-up nightmare.
The quarterback position is still wide open: Jake Rudock or no Jake Rudock, Michigan still needs to find a quarterback for the future. With Wilton Speight not participating in the spring game due to injury, it was up to Morris and redshirt freshman Alex Malzone to play against one another. At first, it appeared that there wasn't much separation between the two quarterbacks,both played as subpar as you can get. However, Morris improved, albeit slightly, throughout the course of the game. Malzone, who was expected to struggle just months after arriving on campus, threw two interceptions. If you could take one positive from Malzone's performance is that he doesn't look lost and just needs to bring it all together. That comes with coaching and time in the system, something that Malzone should have plenty of during his time at Michigan.
Don't expect miracles from Jim Harbaugh in year one: Although the team will be much, much, improved compared to last season, don't expect Harbaugh to make a crazy run with this team. The defense could very well carry this team, but there are some growing pains that both sides of the ball will have to go through this season. This isn't to say that Michigan is a .500 football team, there could be a possibility that this team can be better than that. A few factors will have to go into that: A healthy team, a capable starting quarterback and having a receiver that can consistently catch the ball.
A note on the quarterback: He doesn't have to be an All-American, just someone that can lead this team and be good enough. Is that quarterback on roster right now? That remains to be seen.