MICHIGAN SPRING FOOTBALL GAME SUMMARY
April 15, 2000 following Spring
Overall, we'll be pretty good, but
not awesome! At quarterback, Drew Henson will be good, but not
great. He won't be able to bring us from behind like Tom Brady.
He is a great scrambler. It is disappointing that he will continue
to play baseball in the Spring and Summer rather than working
out with his receivers and the rest of the team here. His selfishness
will cost the team in the Fall.
John Navarre and Andy Mignery will
be good backups and I'm sure that Jermaine Gonzalez and Sean Cassidy
(lefty) will develop. Navarre has a slight lead for backup. He
is big, stands in the pocket well, and throws a nice ball. It
will give both of them a big edge in working out with the receivers
over the Summer. I wouldn't be surprised to see Navarre enter
some games late if Henson can't lead the team from behind (hopefully
we won't be in that position too much).
At running back, we'll be tough!
Thomas is solid and will be drafted in the first two or three
rounds as a pro. He can catch and run well in the open field.
He is a load to bring down. Hopefully, Fargas will help, but too
much is unknown. Everyone says he is bigger and stronger, and
almost as fast. Who knows! Only time will tell. Walter Cross looks
good! He'll definitely contribute more. He is a little bigger
and stronger. He reminds me a little bit of Chris Howard; he is
getting better as he matures. After those backs, I think Chris
Perry and Reggie Benton will possibly contribute. If Perry is
as good as everyone is saying (George), he should contribute as
a frosh. I wasn't particularly impressed with Ryan Beard. It isn't
that he doesn't have potential because he does, but unfortunately
he may get caught up in a "numbers" game. Look for him
to transfer unless he is a "True Blue" commitment, and
will patiently wait for his turn.
B.J. Askew will be a solid fullback.
Unfortunately, he has no real solid backup. Dave Armstrong is
thick, but not particularly fast or quick. He can log some minutes
to help keep Askew fresh, but a fullback in our system can get
real tired with all that is asked (blocking, blocking, blocking).
I think teams will continue to converge on Thomas; thus, trying
to take away our running game. We must be ready to run the fullback
on more traps and draws. Askew can do a great job! Hopefully,
he can stay healthy. He is also a threat on short passes and screens.
Moundros is a great walk-on addition!
I don't know if Dudley is good enough to help out right away.
At wide receiver, David Terrell
is certainly one of the best offensive threats of any Division
I team in the nation. He could make a run for the Heisman. Unfortunately,
for that reason, teams will double him and take away the threat.
Also, I don't believe Henson can get him the ball as well as Brady;
I hope I'm wrong because I'd like nothing better than to see Terrell
re-write the Michigan record book for receivers. Marquis Walker
must "step up" this season. He must become such a threat
that teams won't be doubling Terrell. I also really like Tyrece
Butler, Ron Bellamy and Brent Cummings. Henson is correct: we
have much talent in the skill positions. We must find a way to
utilize this talent. All five of these receivers would be "go
to" guys on other teams. We can't let Terrell be our only
"go to" guy! Taylor may also be able to contribute in
the Fall. Rudy Smith was our most impressive walk-on. He also
could start for most any MAC school.
At Tight End, virtually everyone
was injured: Shawn Thompson, Ben Joppru, Bill Seymour and Deitan
DeBuc. Eric Rosel is really impressive as an athlete. He can catch
and run. I've been watching him for 4 years now and even though
he hasn't played much, he is a really great athlete. He could
start at linebacker and/or safety for virtually any Division I
program. He has had trouble with injuries and being in a program
with great players ahead of him. I can see him and Henson hooking
up on some long plays despite his status as being destined for
3rd or 4th string. We should be solid at this position with Thompson
and Joppru, both can block, catch and run. Seymour and/or DeBuc
may be shifted to defense if coaches agree that Rosel should see
action, and with the possibility of Ecker and Fisher emerging.
Our offensive line should be very
good and possibly solid. Everyone will return (except Ziemann)!
Backus and Hutchison will definitely be playing on Sundays. We
are very fortunate that they will return. It looks like Jon Goodwin
will backup both at Center and Right Guard. Brandt will start
at Center (but didn't play in the Spring), Williams at Right Tackle,
Ben Mast or Tony Pape at Right Guard with Hutch and Backus on
the Left Side. Joe Denay looks good at Right Guard as well as
does Demetrius Solomon at Right Tackle. Kurt Anderson will backup
Hutch at Left Guard and Pape will backup at both Left Tackle and
Right Guard. Don't look for Courtney Morgan to play much, I wasn't
that impressed with him. He is short and possibly misplaced at
Left Tackle. Look for him to move to guard in 2001. Don't look
for any freshman to contribute! This is a veteran line. Todd Mossa
was injured and didn't play, but I don't even know if he'll contribute
at all in the Fall. Andy Brown was also injured. Eric Warner (walk-on)
Our placekicking is excellent with
Epstein and Del Verne on extra points and field goals. We'll definitely
be helped by their game experience. Unfortunately, all of our
long snappers are walk-ons. Sgroi is so tiny, he may get crunched
by some hungry defense as what happened in 1999. Ditto with Jeremy
Miller (broken arm). Cyle Young is also snapping.
I'm very worried about our defensive
line. I like Frysinger and Wilson, but losing Renes in the middle
is going to hurt badly. Frysinger can be decent on the pass rush;
he is pretty strong and fairly mobile. Wilson is about an "average"
pass rusher and fairly mobile. Boebert and Rumishek are o.k.,
but they really don't impress me as much as the coaches that rave
about them. They both have potential and are bigger and stronger
than previously, but no match for some of these huge offensive
linemen they'll encounter for 770 minutes (11 games times 60 minutes).
I hate to sound pessimistic, but all the web hype about Pearson
was ridiculous. At best, he'll be 3rd or 4th string. He is not
nearly big enough to play Nose Tackle. I didn't see Bowman out
there or Coleman, perhaps they were injured. Hopefully, they can
help because I watched the linemen closely in practice, then the
scrimmage. They were not impressive enough to spell Renes, Hall,
Williams, etc. Actually, I was the most impressed with Shawn Lazarus.
He is very strong, quick and I think he'll eventually be the starter
at DT. Also, John Wood (walk-on) has great technique and can beat
a lot of good offensive linemen.
Our linebacking will not be as good
as last year! We had three Pro linebackers: Jones, Gold and Hall.
It will take a long time to replace them. I really like Shantee
Orr and Victor Hobson, though. They are both solid, tough outside
linebackers. Their names and numbers will be called a lot (53
and 6). Brackins (Eric) and Foote will probably be the starters,
but Diggs and Jordan will contribute a lot. I don't know if Kolby
Wells or Larry Stevens will be able to contribute as freshman,
but I do think we'll see a lot of players playing the 4 linebacker
positions. Don't be surprised if both Brackins' brothers are even
playing at the same time! Phil Brackins is very fast and is a
good hitter. Spytek may also see action! Some of our walk-ons
are good, but I don't see them playing much except for perhaps
Bowling Green. Mosely, Cwayna, Sechler and Fraumann could have
started for 4 years for a lot of MAC schools!
Look for teams to attack us up the
middle! We are vulnerable at Nose Tackle and Inside Linebacker
as compared to last year. When we cheat in to plug up the middle,
watch for teams to mix it up and go outside.
Our defensive backfield should be
much improved. We will have more depth and some real quality athletes.
Todd Howard and James Whitley didn't play in the Spring, but both
showed their value last year. Both are solid, quality defensive
backs. Howard is better on cover than Whitley, but Whitley has
the potential physically (speed and quickness) to be a great cover.
I think Whitley's biggest problem is attitude; he thinks he is
better than he actually demonstrates on the field. Patmon is a
good safety and June could be a great safety. June is strong physically
and is a "heady," intuitive player. These should be
our four starters. Jeremy LeSueur, Brandon Williams, both Curry
brothers and Jon Shaw will contribute. Shaw was very impressive
during the Spring scrimmage. He should log significant playing
time. I didn't see Charles Drake play in the scrimmage, maybe
he was injured. He should also play with his great speed, quickness
and athletic ability. I really like Drake's attitude. Possibly,
Calvin Bell and Zia Combs can contribute, but we may need one
or both at wide receiver because our depth there is suspect. Brian
Smalls was really an impressive walk-on along with Dan Williams
and Mike Manning.
Our punting game is solid with Epstein
and Sargent. Sargent can really boom them when he is in a rhythm.
Again, our long-snappers may be a problem as previously stated.
Our return game on punts should feature Terrell, June and LeSueur
(possibly Patmon and/or Whitley). Our return game on kickoffs
should feature Cross, Thomas and possibly Terrell. Brent Cummings,
Charles Drake and Ron Bellamy are also dangerous on the returns,
but all of these returners showed suspect hands in practice and
the scrimmage. Our plus/minus game in turnovers could really be
impacted here if we don't cover the ball better. Our punt rush
and kickoff return facet of special teams really needs "big-time"
We will need to gain confidence
with Bowling Green and Rice prior to traveling to UCLA. We must
go on the road early and beat UCLA. Henson will need to show what
he can do in this game, and he must lead the team to a tough road
ILLINOIS will be a super-tough Big
Ten opener! Their program really gained confidence last year,
especially after beating us. They have a great quarterback (Kittner)
and great coaching (Turner). Their defense (Wakefield) will be
solid and they'll contend all season.
Wisconsin is always tough and their
quarterback (Bollinger) is really solid, luckily we have them
here. PURDUE will be looking for revenge big-time! Drew Brees
will not have double-digit dropped passes in October like 1999.
Purdue will also challenge for the title next year. You can bet
their coach (Tiller) will have an answer for our superior game
plan executed against them last October. Indiana will be tough
because of their stellar senior quarterback (Randle El), and they
took us to the game's final play last year, luckily again it'll
be here and that should help.
We must take our revenge on Michigan
State next year. They will be a terrific team with their great
defense (Thornhill) and running back (Duckett). This is a "must
win" game for our program!!! (especially for in-state recruiting)
Luckily, we get a breather on the
road with Northwestern before closing with Penn State at home
and Ohio State in Columbus. Both teams are looking for revenge
in the worst way! Ohio State will have less talent than Penn State,
but both teams are always tough.
It would be totally unrealistic
to predict an undefeated season; it would take a naïve optimist
to predict such as season for the Wolverines. We have 8 tough
games schedule and at least 5 super-tough games: Illinois, Purdue,
MSU, Penn St. and Ohio St. However, we will have a competitive
team that should compete for the Big Ten title with several other
solid Big Ten teams. The Big Ten was by far the top conference
last season from top to bottom, and should be solid again. Hopefully,
we will improve and rise to the occasion. Like always, the best
defense will win the Big Ten title!
For 2001, we are going to have huge
losses on our offensive line, but we must use our 14 or so scholarships
wisely to add to our defensive line which was our biggest need
for this season, but we struck out. We will have some good ones
to fill our offensive line gaps, but Pape, Baas, Denay, Solomon,
Morgan, Christopfel, Gaston and others will develop by then.
On paper, Big Ten looks like:
Penn State (Alamo)
Michigan State (Motor City)
Ohio State (Sun)
Rose Bowl: Alabama vs. Miami-FL