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Michigan Spring Game: Exhibition Shows That New Offense Is Work in Progress

Apr 13, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner (left) drops back to pass during the Spring Game at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 13, 2013

Michigan held its annual spring game on Saturday, and it was clear that the defense was far ahead of the offense.

This should not come to the surprise of fans who were following the Wolverines since the end of the season. The defense ranked 20th in the country last season with only 19.8 points allowed per game, and it returned plenty of talented players.

In the exhibition game, the secondary looked great while making plays on the ball, and the defensive line did a good job of getting into the backfield.

Meanwhile, the offense has a long way to go before it can compete in the Big Ten.

Last year, Denard Robinson was the dominant figure on that side of the ball. The quarterback led the team in passing and had over twice as many rushing yards as anyone else on the roster. When the team needed someone to make a play, Shoelace was usually able to do something spectacular. 

With Robinson no longer with the program, it is up to the rest of the team to step up.

Devin Gardner will almost certainly be the next starting quarterback after finishing strong last season. He is more of a dropback passer than Robinson, which is the primary reason that the Wolverines plan on switching to a pro-style offense.

In the spring game, he played relatively well as the leader of the offense. There are no official stats, but he led one solid scoring drive and was able to find his receivers with consistency. However, the throws were still far from crisp, and he suffered when his targets could not get separation from defenders.

To make matters worse, backups Brian Clearly and Alex Swieca could not get much done on offense.

Besides a few good plays by Thomas Rawls, the rushing attack was not too much better. It is clear that the Wolverines still need more help in the backfield with Fitzgerald Toussaint out.

Additionally, the offensive line certainly struggled outside of All-American Taylor Lewan.

Still, it is important to remember that it is only April. These practices are meaningful, but there is a lot of time to improve before the first game on August 31. 

As long as these players continue to work hard and make adjustments over the next few months, the team will be a legitimate contender for a Big Ten title. Until then, fans should be happy that the defense is rock solid. 

 

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