Nick: Hey, guys! Let’s get right to it. It was great seeing Michigan back on the field last weekend - what or who impressed you the most?
Kullen: I want to start by saying how pumped I was for this year’s spring game and how needed some football was. At the same time, though, it was a huge tease.. I was very impressed with Tarik Black’s performance and how quickly he has picked up the offense.
The players I was most impressed with, however, were Devin Bush Jr. and Khaleke Hudson. The linebackers flew around the field and look to be a nasty duo this season. Bush got to the quarterback at least three times by my count and Hudson, who barely played last season, was a monster at the viper position. Hudson was in on almost every play and his hit on O’Korn in the redzone was pleasant to see. I can’t wait to see how the two do playing next to Mike McCray this season.
Jared: Kullen beat me to it. There was honestly a ridiculous amount to get excited about and too many players to name. I’ll be the first to bring up what I am sure will be a recurring theme in Brandon Peters’ performance. That dude can straight up spin it, and he showed NFL level ball placement. Devin Bush is as violent and speedy a player as I can remember on a Michigan roster. All of the running backs look great, and that group as a whole is bordering on elite.
Speaking of which; since when does Ty Isaac have that kind of vision and shiftiness? Dude is married with three kids by now. Zach Gentry could be so, so very good if he puts it all together. Carlo Kemp is going to be extremely disruptive. God, is it nice to be able to talk about actual Michigan football.
Anthony: Having been there, Brandon Peters definitely impressed me, which I get is going to be the popular answer when people recap what they saw last Saturday. For me, if nothing else, his performance is an indication that the depth that is being built at quarterback is working. I would still expect Speight to be the favorite to start in 2017, but I think that Michigan fans can rest easy knowing that Peters as your No. 2 could provide some exciting possibilities if things go wrong at the top of the depth chart.
That is, if he doesn’t move to the top on his own.
KB: Defensive units looked farther along in their progression...guys getting into the backfield, corners making plays on thrown balls, and linebackers limiting YAC yardage. Dare I say we might FINALLY see more deep balls this year even when we lost all three leading receivers to graduation!? It’s obvious the running backs are going to be the stable spot of the offense, too. No more of this run toward the pile and fall down nonsense (...sorry, De’Veon). In particular, Ty Isaac looked really strong, as did Keith Washington.
Gary: I loved the linebacking group as well. Khaleke Hudson, Devin Bush, and Josh Metellus all looked great. Even Carlo Kemp at DE looked impressive. He has a nose for the backfield at a very young age.
I was excited to see Kareem Walker out there. I have been saying for a year that our most talented RB wasn’t playing. He makes sharp, quick cuts, and I just like his build. However, the man I have a legit man crush on is Jordan Glasgow. His family is just insane. The fact they were playing him at safety at his size show you they think he’s fast enough, although maybe as a backup. If he is seriously able to play man to man coverage, he may be the most NFL ready guy in the secondary! I don’t see a guy with his last name getting buried under the depth chart this late in his career. Don’t care if he’s a walk on. His brothers were too. Now they’re on NFL rosters.
How about Pep Hamilton nearly besting Greg Mattison despite not being on staff, what, six months?
And holy Toledo, a potential quarterback battle when we all assumed it was settled!
Andrew: I’m going a little unconventional and am going with the defensive chemistry. All three levels worked synchronously (there’s an ACT word for ya) as a complete system. With Don Brown’s scheme, we don’t need to replace Jourdan Lewis, Jabrill Peppers, etc; we need to replace their roles. A Viper who can set the edge and keep the offensive flow inside. A corner who can blanket receivers on an island. An unrelenting defensive line who eliminates any thoughts of a deep quarterback drop. I could not believe how well the new guys have adapted. I am not excited, I am ecstatic!
Mike: I think all of the late recruiting-season chaos and hype surrounding Donovan Peoples-Jones kind of made people forget about Tarik Black, himself a four star recruit. I was taken aback by Black’s performance. He’s bigger than DPJ and can absolutely fly, evidenced by most of the second half of the spring game. He abused Benjamin St-Juste and looked like the only receiver John O’Korn was comfortable throwing to. He showed that he can catch the ball in traffic and down the sideline, which, at 6’4, is a particularly valuable thing.
Tanner: I was a big fan of Tarik Black. He looked a lot faster and with quicker feet than I would have expected. The expectations of the wide receivers goes way up for me, as we sort of know what we will get with DPJ, and there has to be someone to emerge from the younger guys. Having a 6’4.5 receiver on the outside who can run routes is going to be such a fun weapon to have for whoever starts at quarterback.
Nick: Is there anybody that really disappointed you, other than Speight?
Kullen: I would say Chris Evans, but we have already seen what he can do, so I’m not worried. Instead, I will go with Kareem Walker. Walker has had as much hype around him as any running back who has ever entered Ann Arbor and has yet to make a splash. I was hoping to see at least a big run or two at the spring game and he didn’t do much. The former No. 1 running back needs to show something this season.
Jared: I know you said “other than Speight”, but I am still saying Wilton Speight, because this is America, and that was painful to watch. My colleague and I disagree on the former two players however; I thought both looked solid. Walker did not get a whole lot of opportunity, but he is much quicker than I imagined for a guy his size. I might need to watch it again, but I never really saw Bryan Mone flash like I thought he would. His performance certainly was not disappointing, but it really flashed how superior athletes that now surround Mike McCray are. It looks like he is knee deep in canola oil compared to Hudson, Bush, Metellus, Kinnell, etc, etc.
Anthony: It’s hard to really be disappointed in a spring game, and that includes Speight. His offensive line had some problems and Peters had the better of the two groups, it appears. As far as spring games go, this one was actually entertaining as hell and has me excited to see how these young guys thrust into bigger roles will develop.
KB: I had hoped to see Kekoa Crawford make several more grabs than he did, but they didn’t throw toward him that often. It’s not yet clear who will be the go-to target but there’s a good mix of speed and leaping ability in the receiving corps this year.
Gary: Still disappointed in Ty Isaac. Really wanted him to live up to his body and high school hype and I don’t think it’s going to happen. I know he had some good runs, but he did that in last year’s spring practice too. He just doesn’t have breakaway speed or break tackles. It’s been the whole running back corps though, not just him.
Andrew: I am siding with Jared on his basis of Wilton Speight, because of freedom. He looked like he was still lost in the Florida State game. However, to prevent pontificating, I will say my biggest disappointment was not being able to see Lavert Hill or J’Marick Woods play on Saturday (and the fact the bratwursts were incredibly small at the concession stand).
Every indicator from practice so far is that J’Marick Woods is well ahead of the curve with physicality and football IQ. Hill is presumably one of the starting corners and has been heralded since his arrival on campus last year. Besides not being able to scout them and Speight, nothing but palpable optimism from my end!
Mike: I’m with Anthony on this one, in that it’s kind of hard to be disappointed in anyone during a Spring game. That said, I was expecting to see a little more of Kekoa Crawford. I think he’s poised to have a really good season; he’s shown flashes of next level speed and that he’s not afraid of contact, so I think I was just expecting a little more from the sophomore who will be leading a very talented, young receiving corps.
Tanner: I’ll say Lawrence Marshall. I thought in year four, with some added weight, and an opportunity for a substantial amount of playing time he would be more of a factor. He got BULLIED by Andrew Vastardis and the rest of the second OL. I’m not sure how much he will factor into this defensive line rotation, and that makes James Hudson and Aubrey Solomon that much more important in 2017.
Nick: Is the offensive line still the biggest worry right now? How hopeful are you that they’ll put out a good unit come September?
Kullen: The offensive line is by far my biggest worry on the team. The run game was non-existent at the end of last season and Speight was forced to run for his life. The running game looked pretty good in the spring game, but once again Speight didn’t have much time to pass.
However, the groups were all mixed up on both sides, so that makes it hard to truly examine. There is no shortage of talent on the offensive line, but most of it is inexperienced. I loved how Harbaugh brought in Greg Frey to coach the group and I believe him and Tim Drevno will get it fixed this season. Mason Cole will anchor the group, but watch out for Jon Runyan Jr. to be a force on the right side.
Jared: Have to concur that the offensive line is the least settled position group. Once again, Spring Game, patchwork O-lines, yada, yada-- but still. Hopefully Filiaga gets here in the fall and is immediately a kick-ass right tackle, or somebody like Bushell-Beatty comes around.
How confident are you in the offensive line?
This poll is closed
Very confident - chill, they’ll be fine.
Somewhat confident - the depth is definitely better than we thought, and these guys are huge.
Not really confident - the pass rush was consistently a problem, and any injury would be devastating.
Burn it all down, it’s terrible. Absolutely terrible.
I was really excited to get a look at Ja’Raymond Hall after seeing a few short clips of him looking really solid, but he didn’t play. I am, however, very confident in the trio of Cole, Bredeson, and Onwenu. Mike Onwenu in particular looks to have a ridiculous ceiling. I’ve contacted several prominent physics professors, hoping to understand how someone that large is able to move like that.
Anthony: I think that is still a fair and warranted concern. Again, it is hard to gauge that during a spring game/practice scrimmage because the squads are split, but we saw some good and some bad. Offensive line seems like it has been this program’s Achilles heel since 2008 and this group still is not one that has shown it can impose its will. However, going up against Michigan’s defensive line, which is still good and quite deep, mind you, should benefit them.
Andrew: I am concerned, but not as much as I expected to be. I have watched the game film upwards of ten times and feel better every time I do. Certain combinations and alignments work exceptionally well and this is all against one of the best defensive lines in college football. I believe Greg Frey is to thank for this and I fully expect this offensive line to personify Harbaugh’s intensity (if that’s possible).
My biggest concern is still punt returner. We took for granted how sure-handed Jabrill was back there the last two seasons and after watching Nate Johnson muff one, I am worried; like wearing a “Make America Great Again” shirt next to Suge Knight worried.
I have no idea who will end up back there, but in my not-so-humble opinion, I would like to see Eddie McDoom. He caught a few in the game so that means he is in the mix and I do not want to see Captain America back because of the potential to be injured. McDoom flashed glimpses of his explosiveness last season and I believe returning punts could become his calling card at Michigan.
Tanner: I thought they looked fine. They’re going to have options when we get to fall camp so I am actually chalking them up to be at least a wash or a slight positive as a group. I really like the potential of the sophomores and you know what you will get with Mason Cole. Michigan will hopefully be able to run the ball in crunch time.
Nick: Does this change your perception or enthusiasm for the 2017 team? And we’d tackled this last week in a fan poll, but how many wins do you think this team will end up with?
Kullen: This year’s spring game got me even more excited for the upcoming season. I don’t think the program has ever had a season like this where there will be so many new faces and Saturday was only a taste of learning about them and seeing what they can do. This is truly Harbaugh’s team now and I can’t wait for the first game against Florida.
Jared: No doubt about it, I am way more excited after the Spring Game than before. When I started jotting down all of the positives, I was astonished at how much I was writing.
Speight struggled, yes; but Peters more than compensated for that one (major) letdown. The defense looks like it could be really, really good once again. It is unlikely they are as sound statistically as last year’s defense, but I am betting they are faster and hit harder. Devin Bush and Khaleke Hudson are going to be monsters, and I am beyond pumped to watch those guys lay the lumber on someone not wearing Maize and Blue.
Not only that, Quinn Nordin can apparently fight crime with his kicks. I fully expect to see him attempt a 60+ yarder this year. The young receivers have MUCH higher ceilings than guys like Darboh and Chesson (may they receive in peace). And of course, that D line is already elite, and Aubrey Solomon hasn’t even gotten on campus yet. We may still end up sliding a little bit with our record to 8 or 9 wins, but what is being built here is special. My prediction: another 10-win season, capped off with a win over OSU.
Anthony: Call this a hot take, call this being a “homer,” whatever you want. But I think it is quite possible this team has a better record than last year despite being less talented, or at least proven. You get Michigan State and Ohio State at home, both games you should and must win. I don’t think they are quite national championship caliber in 2017, but they could be. Offensive line and quarterback play are going to be huge and you can’t fail to close out games like they did down the stretch.
Things will look very different, but I think this is a program that is turning into those ones that will be in the hunt yearly despite what they lose to the NFL. 8 or 9 wins the baseline, but this group has a very high ceiling.
KB: Is this a rebuilding year? The put-up-or-shut up year? Those are just cliched excuses for labeling a team not many people have had time to analyze yet. It’s truly a Harbaugh team now, that means the training wheels are off.
The schedule is favorable yet again, and the Wolverines have had two straight seasons of losing a game or two in crushing fashion. I want this team full of young, speedy talent to play with reckless abandon. This could be something Michigan fans haven’t seen for awhile: young guys jockeying for playing time and in the process they produce a rather entertaining form of football. We don’t have to worry anymore about a Michigan team underperforming, being average, or not competing throughout the year. That’s what Harbaugh is building, and this season should be the first manifestation of all the pieces falling into place.
Gary: The offensive line is the biggest concern, but only because of how integral it is to any football team of Michigan’s caliber and coaching staff. I do believe we can get away with an average or even below average secondary if we have an elite front 7. We can’t get away with an average offensive line. That being said, I am seeing so much talent there. We have all the right bodies. The addition of Cesar Ruiz is a big one. I agree with Anthony though. This team has the same ceiling as last year. Maybe even higher.
Andrew: There are two sides of me fighting to answer this question:
-Side 1: Michigan should win anywhere from 9-11 games and the most troubling seem to be the opener against Florida and on the road against Penn State and Wisconsin (especially one week before The Game).
-Side 2: Harbaugh came here to eat steak and kick ass; and in his third year, he is all out of steak.
I cannot put a cap on this team because of their youth. I have no idea how good they can be and frankly, this seems to be one of the most fun groups to come through Michigan in recent memory. The FLOOR for me is 9 wins. The flashes at the Spring Game were enough to launch me to this point and at best, Michigan could end up with the Big 10 title and possibly more. Is it fall yet? Wake me up when September begins. Go Blue!
How many games will Michigan win in 2017?
This poll is closed
At least 9 wins and beating Ohio State
8 wins or less, or 9 wins with no OSU win
Alex: Great stuff above gentlemen. Without a doubt this was a great opportunity to see the hard work the boys have put in this spring and the defense didn’t disappoint. Don’t want to seem too redundant but Khaleke Hudson and Devin Bush Jr. were as good as could be on Saturday. They were flying sideline to sideline, hitting the right gaps and playing effectively in coverage which was very comforting after losing so many studs on that side of the ball. As we all touched on in what we were looking forward to in the Spring, Coach Brown has given the players the tools and schemes to be successful and we saw several of the players step up to the plate and hit it in stride.
Regarding the QB “battle” Speight was less than effective and definitely lost in the head to head to Brandon Peters but his O-line was not doing him any favors. I love the optimism and the countdown to Week 1 is upon us - 130 days until Florida in Jerry’s World. As the offensive line becomes more of a unit, the running game is effective and our young wideouts come into their own, I think a 11 win season is very much a possibility and it will not be a “rebuilding” year but just a replenishing of the cupboard with the talent that’s been brought in over the last few recruiting classes. Let’s Go Blue!
Tanner: I had a feeling last year that the 2017 team was going to be very young but be very fun to watch with a chance to make noise down the stretch if they can win games they’re not supposed to early in the year. I think 9-3/10-2 is the most likely, but I would not be shocked if they go 11-1 and make the Big Ten Championship. Year three is always important for college coaches and the amount of talent on campus in Ann Arbor is absolutely silly.