The Michigan football team had their annual Spring Game at the Big House in Ann Arbor Saturday evening.
The team took the field at 5pm to start doing drills and stretches. The team put on their pads and uniforms to start doing individual drills by position. The defense was in a white jersey with maize pants, offense was in blue jerseys with maize pants, and the quarterbacks were in maize jerseys with maize pants.
Next the team worked on kickoffs with junior Ambry Thomas and freshman Mike Sainristil splitting time running back kicks. The special teams also worked on onside kick coverages with tight ends Erick All and Luke Schoonmaker working on kick retrieval.
Then the scrimmage started with the offense taking on the defense with the quarterbacks rotating through by possession. First up was senior Shea Patterson who took them down the field and through a couple touchdowns one to sophomore receiver Ronnie Bell and the other to Sainristil.
Next up was junior Dylan McCaffrey. He was able to move the ball but also had issues with over throwing his speedy receivers. Sophomore Joe Milton rotated in when coach Jim Harbaugh or Josh Gattis wanted him to. Milton threw a beautiful pass to All for a 25 yard pick up but also was plagued with some over throws.
The kicking game also saw some work as sophomore Jake Moody and senior Quinn Nordin each attempted two kicks and made both before halftime. This is an important battle leading up to fall camp and who eventually gets the nod for the opening game against Middle Tennessee State on August 31st.
Another huge battle was at the right tackle position between junior Andrew Stueber and sophomore Jalen Mayfield. Stueber had more time during the scrimmage as he played well and was solid. Mayfield played well in his limited chances and even had a highlight reel worthy throw of a defensive lineman to go look for someone else to block downfield. This will be an interesting battle all the way up to their opening game.
The defensive end spot will be a hot commodity in the fall with Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich going to the NFL Draft. It will be a battle from several players that will definitely feature senior Carlo Kemp and junior Kwity Paye who both played well in relief last season. Sophomores Aidan Hutchinson and Julius Welschof both looked bigger and stronger Saturday. They will see significant time this season you can quote me on that. Senior Ben Mason will play several positions in the fall according to Harbaugh and he showed up well as he worked out with the defensive linemen and stayed with them during the scrimmage. He looked like a wild mad as he broke on the ball steamrolling his way into the backfield. Mason will be a force in the future at several positions of need for the Wolverines including the depleted running back group.
The final group that I wanted to see was the play of the running backs and wide receivers. Sainristil and Bell played well as did junior Oliver Martin. With no return date set for Donovan Peoples-Jones to make his debut the rest of the guys need to come up big. The running backs may be depleted with Karan Higdon declaring for the NFL and Chris Evans ineligible, but they certainly did not look like it on Saturday. Senior Tru Wilson had a good showing. Sophomore Ben VanSumeren looks like a hammer as he ran the ball and can really motor when he gets going. The offense also started to look faster with their no huddle and with the photo cards. They also did some run pass option that gives them a new weapon this season. The offense also passed the ball up the middle several times which will be a great weapon this fall especially with the tight ends they have on the roster.
The most interesting part of the game was not actually on the field as someone had paid an airplane to tow along a banner that said “Hey Jim this is God. It is ok to pass on first down. Let’s try it.” This is how most of the fan base feels.
Fall football cannot come fast enough in my opinion but see you all August 31st at the Big House.