Blue team squeaks past Maize team in Michigan football spring game

Alex Malzone lines up under center in his first public action as a Michigan quarterback. (Rebecca Gallagher/MJ)
Alex Malzone lines up under center in his first public action as a Michigan quarterback. (Rebecca Gallagher/MJ)

By JERAMY STOVER, Staff Reporter

For the first time in five years, the University of Michigan football team ended their spring practice campaign with an inter-squad scrimmage.

The Blue team managed to squeak by the Maize team 7-0 in an offensive struggle. The only touchdown of the game came late in the second quarter when Shane Morris found Jaron Dukes in the end zone for the score.

Neither team managed to total over 179 yards, and both offenses averaged less than 3.6 yards per play. Wide receiver Jehu Chesson was not afraid to admit the offense struggled.

“We definitely had a lot of setbacks today, but we’re building something towards camp. We definitely have to pick up things next week and go out there and correct the mistakes that we made,” Chesson said. “I just think the offense needed to come out here today. We executed some plays and we didn’t do well on some plays, we just need to keep working hard and keep pushing.”

De’Veon Smith started the game with a 34-yard run that excited the half-filled Michigan Stadium. But the next 15 rushers for both teams only resulted in one yard gained.

The quarterbacks seemed to struggle as well. Shane Morris and Alex Malzone both played the entire game for their respective teams. But both had a completion percentage under 51 percent at halftime.

Morris would finish 11-for-24 with 135 yards and one touchdown. Malzone was 15-for-27 for 95 yards on the day.

The second half was a continued stalemate that didn’t see one touchdown scored.

An accumulation of drops, turnovers and sacks kept the offense reeling all game. Morris and Malzone were sacked five times combined.

There was much promise noticed on the defensive side of the ball. The highly-hyped Jabrill Peppers looked fantastic in the Wolverines secondary. He put on a show for the crowd with his speed and ability to find the ball.

Early in the game, Peppers nearly intercepted Morris, but couldn’t quite get two hands on the ball. The vocal freshman was disappointed in himself for not coming up with the ball.

“That’s what separates good players from great players. That would’ve change the game, I had daylight in front of me,” Peppers said. “I tried to start running before I picked it. I told the team that one was on me.”

Linebacker Joe Bolden led the Maize team with 13 total tackles, including three for a loss. He was happy to see the defense force a few turnovers, even chuckling that it may have been more than the team had in all of last season.

Senior Desmond Morgan played for the first time in nearly a year after missing all of last season due to an arm injury.

Morgan was excited to be back playing at the Big House.

“It felt good to be back. It’s been fun this whole spring, getting back on the field, reacclimated with everything,” Morgan said. “But whenever you’re able to play in the Big House like that, especially with the crowd that we got today for a spring game, it was fun.”

Special teams were absent from the scrimmage. Harbaugh decided to call a “virtual punt” play on many fourth downs. He would simply walk the ball down to the other end and tell the opposing offense to start from there.

While it was encouraging to see the defense play so well, it was tough to watch the offense struggle. There is still a lot of time for the Wolverines to improve, but there is a lot of improving to be done.