On a cold and windy day 35,000 Maize and Blue die hards gathered at Michigan Stadium to watch the Wolverines hold their annual spring game. The day was kick started with the Alumni Flag Football game. The Blue team, coached by LaMarr Woodley defeated the Desmond Howard coached Maize team 24-18. John Navarre led the Blue team to the victory. Jimmy King of all people was the talk of the game. He hauled in a TD reception and nearly grabbed a Hail Mary that would have tied the game as time expired.
Click here for a photo gallery of the day’s activities.
When the first team offense trotted onto the field, they were led by Denard Robinson. On that opening series he led the White team on a scoring drive and capped it himself with a TD run. He would go on to throw three TD passes in the scrimmage. He connected with Roy Roundtree on two of those TD strikes, one of which was a 97 yarder that brought the crowd to their feet. As Roundtree broke into the open field it was reminiscent of the long catch and run he had at Illinois last year, when he was ultimately caught from behind at the goal line. “When I got the ball today in the post, I was like ok, ain’t nobody catching me this time,” said Roundtree.
Tate Forcier led the second team. He directed two scoring drives. One was capped by a 21 yard Mike Cox TD run, the other by a Forcier to Je’ron Stokes TD pass. He also had a bad sequence that surely reminded folks of 2009, when on back-to-back plays he threw a botched lateral to Mike Shaw and then fumbled the ball on the next snap.
Devin Gardner received a loud ovation from the crowd when he made his first appearance. That drive featured a 23 yard pass to Brandon Moore and on another play Gardner bought time with his feet and connected with Ricardo Miller for a first down. The drive ended with a field goal. On his next series, Gardner panicked and threw an interception to Obi Ezeh. He almost had another pass intercepted by Craig Roh on his next drive. After dodging the Roh interception, Gardner threw a perfectly placed deep ball to Martavious Odoms. Instead of hauling it in for what would have been a sure TD, Odoms dropped the ball. Gardner did score on a TD run during the overtime drill.
Robinson looked like the best quarterback at the scrimmage. He threw several nice balls on the run and looked very dangerous every time he tucked it and ran. Gardner showed flashes of brilliance and had moments of looking like a true freshman.
The running back position definitely appears to be wide-open. Mike Shaw, Mike Cox, Fitzgerald Toussaint, and Stephen Hopkins all have a chance to contribute.
The defense played well and was particularly stout against the run. I liked what I saw from Greg Robinson’s crew as they seemed to be more fundamentally sound and playing with aggression. Craig Roh summed it up best after the game when he said this about the defense, “What I’m sensing the most is that guys are just extremely aggressive and that [they] really just want to knock someone’s head off, which is what a Michigan defense should look like.”
The defensive line was solid and stuffing the holes against the run. They also got pressure on the quarterbacks, which is no small feat with the trio of QBs Michigan has. The linebackers seemed to be in the right position. Obi Ezeh intercepted a pass and Roh nearly intercepted another. Jonas Mouton delivered a punishing blow on one play. The young secondary was playing without their only veteran, Troy Woolfolk, who suffered a broken finger in the last practice. James Rogers stepped into Woolfolk’s starting cornerback position and played well, he even broke up a pass in the endzone. JT Floyd looks much improved and delivered a big hit on a screen pass to Stephen Hopkins. Cam Gordon looks like a leader at the safety position. He received the John F. Maulbetsch Award, which is awarded annually following spring drills to the freshman athlete on the basis of desire, character, and capacity for leadership potential for future success.
After watching the kickers in action it is clear that this position is wide-open. Kris Pauloski and Justin Meram clearly outkicked Brendan Gibbons. Pauloski is a redshirt freshman walk-on. Meram was the MVP of Michigan’s soccer team and appears to have a real shot at winning the job. Gibbons was erratic and missed more kicks than Pauloski and Meran did combined.
It is very obvious that Will Hagerup will have to handle the punting duties when he arrives this summer.
Stay tuned to isportsweb.com as there will be more to come from the festivities at the spring game.
Rich Rodriguez on the Quarterbacks: “I’m pleased that they’ve gotten better. Nobody has taken the position and grabbed it, but I was hoping more than one guy would, anyway. Denard [Robinson] has certainly made some big leaps this spring. Tate [Forcier] has gotten better, even though he’s got some work to do, as does Denard, and Devin [Gardner] for being here for 15 practices has really learned pretty well. I think they all have a little ways to go, but it’s a very, very competitive situation.”
In addition to Cam Gordon receiving the Maulbetsch Award the following players were recognized for their performance this spring:
- Greg Banks was awarded the Meyer Morton Award as the senior football player that experienced the greatest development and showed the most promise during spring drills.
- Mark Moundrous was awarded the Frederick Matthaei Award for exhibiting exceptional leadership, drive, and achievement over the entirety of practice
- Patrick Omameh was awarded the Sophmore Award as the player that displayed toughness and a strong work ethic on the field and in the locker room
- Cam Gordon, as previously mentioned, was awarded the John F. Maulbetsch Award
- Stephen Schilling was awarded the Dan Dierdorf Award
- Adam Patterson, Obi Ezeh, Mike Cox, and Darryl Stonum were awarded the Iron Wolverine Award as the best all-around conditioned athletes.