Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Michigan spring wrap
By ESPN.com staff
2009 overall record: 5-7
2009 conference record: 1-7 (T-10th)
Offense: 7, defense: 8, kicker/punter: 0
QB Tate Forcier, QB Denard Robinson, WR Roy Roundtree, C David Molk, LG Stephen Schilling, CB Troy Woolfolk, LB/DE Craig Roh, NT Mike Martin
RB Carlos Brown, RB Brandon Minor, C/G David Moosman, DE Brandon Graham, CB Donovan Warren, LB/S Stevie Brown, P Zoltan Mesko
2009 statistical leaders (*-returners)
Rushing: Brandon Minor (502 yards)
Passing: Forcier* (2,050 yards)
Receiving: Roundtree* (434 yards)
Tackles: Stevie Brown (80)
Sacks: Brandon Graham (10.5)
Interceptions: Donovan Warren (4)
1. Robinson steps up: Spring practice began with talk of Denard Robinson playing other positions besides quarterback. The session ended with Robinson looking like the Wolverines' top signal caller. A full offseason in the program paid off for Robinson, who proved why he should stay at quarterback and closed the gap with last year's starter, Tate Forcier. Robinson capped it off with a strong spring game performance, leading the offense to touchdowns on five of six possessions and firing a 97-yard scoring pass to Roy Roundtree.
2. Secondary gets boost: After a miserable year for Michigan's secondary in 2009, help arrived this spring. Cameron Gordon, a wide receiver converted to safety, was arguably the biggest star of the spring session and drew tons of praise for his big hits and his presence in the deep middle. Cornerback Troy Woolfolk had a very good spring and is ready to embrace a shutdown role. The coaches also singled out cornerback J.T. Floyd and others for their play.
3. Offensive line coming together: The offensive line should be, and needs to be, a strength for Michigan this fall, especially if Robinson is the starting quarterback. Michigan's coaching staff seemed pleased with the line's progress this spring, as the Wolverines return five players who started part or all of last season and integrate promising redshirt freshmen like Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield. Guard Patrick Omameh made strides this spring and the line will get a big boost when David Molk returns from injury.
1. Starting quarterback: The quarterback race is very close after Robinson's strong spring, and Michigan could go several weeks into preseason camp before naming its starter. Head coach Rich Rodriguez challenged Forcier this spring, and the sophomore needs a good response in August. True freshman Devin Gardner is still in the mix as well, though he'll need a great camp to keep pace with Robinson and Forcier.
2. Kicking game: The situation at kicker, and especially punter, wasn't good this spring. Incoming freshman Will Hagerup needs to be the answer at punter after the loss of All-American Zoltan Mesko. Hagerup also could be a factor at kicker if Brendan Gibbons can't lock up the job. Gibbons has a very strong leg but needs to be more consistent.
3. Pass rush: Michigan loses one of the nation's most disruptive defenders in Brandon Graham, who recorded 26 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, two blocked kicks and a fumble recovery for a touchdown last season. The Wolverines need boosts from returning defensive linemen Ryan Van Bergen and Mike Martin, as well as production from players like Craig Roh, a linebacker hybrid who showed promise as a true freshman last fall.