The Michigan Wolverines have officially hatched Team 133 as Spring Practice is underway. Offensive Coordinator Al Borges and Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison have both shed light on some of the developments with Team 133. I’ll focus on the offensive side of the ball today.
The most startling roster fact is that Michigan is down to 7 scholarship offensive linemen. Rocko Khoury decided not to return for his 5th year and that thinned out an already trim position group. So with that in mind here is how the O-line is shaping up:
LT – Taylor Lewan (RS Jr)
LG – ?
C – Ricky Barnum (Sr)
RG – Patrick Omameh (Sr)
RT – Michael Schofield (RS Jr)
That leaves Elliot Mealer (Sr), Chris Bryant (RS Fr) and Jack Miller (RS Fr) as the only other scholarship players on the O-line. Michigan does have 5 offensive linemen as part of the incoming freshmen class. Two of them are All-Americans, Kyle Kalis and Erik Magnuson, but none are early enrollees.
One of the questions Borges fielded was how to replace Junior Hemingway who came up with a ton of big plays last year. “Jerald Robinson, in two days, has been very impressive,” Borges said. “He’s a big physical receiver, very much like Junior. Not quite as big, but still big. Has excellent hands. This year, Jerald is going to get a great look, and so far, what we’ve seen, he’s going to make a contribution. And he is that big, physical guy much like Junior was. You ask how to replace Junior, and he’s definitely at least one answer.”
Borges also said that Roy Roundtree would be moving to flanker where he figures to play a larger role in the passing game this season. “At flanker now, you get more balls thrown your way,” Borges explained. “I have no doubt Roy Roundtree will have a heck of a year.”
Borges also talked about Devin Gardner and at least opened up the door to speculate if he might see time at WR this year. “He’s an incredible athlete,” Borges said. “He has so many dimensions to him. He’s smart so he picks things up fast. He doesn’t have any problem that way. Every time you put together a plan, you have to find a way to factor him into it somewhere, if it doesn’t sacrifice any other phases of your game.”
Brandon Moore and Ricardo Miller are the lead candidates to take over at tight end. Jordan Paskorz has been moved to tight end. Miller is a converted WR and brings a lot of athleticism to the position. “Brandon Moore has been consistent. Ricardo Miller is more of a move guy, but has played with his hand on the ground a bit. He understands our offense. Very athletic. As athletic as any tight end we have. Used to be a wide receiver so he has speed, and he has receiving skills. He’s going to get a great look. And we have some freshmen coming in and if they show up, they’ll have an opportunity to contribute there.” The freshmen are Devin Funchess and AJ Williams and they are both ranked among the top TE prospects in the class of 2012.
Here is my best guess at the starters
WR: Roy Roundtree (Sr)
WR: Jerald Robinson (RS So)
Slot: Jeremy Gallon (RS Jr)
TE: Brandon Moore (Sr)
Thanks to a late season explosion, Fitz Toussaint (RS Jr) became the first Michigan running back to top 1000 yards in a season since Mike Hart in 2007. Borges said he wants to see Toussaint improve as a receiver out of the backfield. “Improve his pass-receiving skills, because he has good hands,” Borges said. “We used Vince [Smith] so much in that capacity that I’d like for Fitz to be equal to what Vince did so we don’t have to take him out all the time.
Borges also plans on taking a long look at guys like Justice Hayes (RS Fr) and Thomas Rawls (So) during spring practice. Vincent Smith is a senior and Stephen Hopkins (Jr) is Michigan’s biggest back at 6-foot, 228 pounds.
Michael Cox will not be returning for his 5th season of eligibility.
Borges likes what he has seen out of Denard Robinson so far this spring. “The one thing about the kid is he knows football, he understands the game really well,” Borges said. “He has great instincts. Now that he has a year in the system, some of those instincts will show up even more than they have, and that’s scary.”
As he transitioned to Borges offense last year, Robinson was able to increase his TD passes from 18 as a sophomore to 20, but he also increased his interceptions from 11 to 15. “There are two issues with Denard,” Borges noted. “Number one, that’s the overall understanding of the offense, which I know is going to be better, and the footwork issues, which generally cause a lot of the interceptions. We’re working on them every day and he is so keenly aware of it. When he makes a mistake he’s getting to the point now where he can almost coach himself. He’ll come over and say, ‘I screwed that up.’ He’ll tell me before I tell him.”
As mentioned earlier, Devin Gardner (Jr) is the clear #2. Russell Bellomy (RS Fr) checks in as the #3 QB.
Keep your internet tuned to isportsweb.com as I will have an update on the defense in the coming days. You can follow me on Twitter @isportsRob