Michigan took the field for its final spring practice with fans eager to see a glimpse of Doug Nussmeier’s new offense and searching for signs that the shuffling of the defensive staff will help the Wolverines rebound from last season’s 7-6 record.
Brady Hoke announced earlier this week that the “game” would include a typical practice followed by a team scrimmage.
Pass Offense: Michigan began its scrimmage with a disappointing reminder of how the last game at Michigan Stadium ended: Devin Gardner threw an interception. Doug Nussmeier didn’t show much of the new offense, relying on base running plays with a few passes sprinkled in for good measure. Gardner took the majority of snaps and was inaccurate early.
Wide receiver Freddy Canteen had a long reception from Gardner (over 30 yards) and showed why he’s been earning rave reviews all spring.
The offense was very vanilla, with Hoke not wanting to risk injuries in the final practice or tip his hand to rivals.
Run Offense: The running attack didn’t gain many yards. Derrick Green, De’Veon Smith, Ross Douglas and Justice Hayes all carried the ball with equal success. Hayes did make some nice moves—enough to show that he’s still in competition with Smith and Green.
The offensive line is still a work in progress, although freshman Mason Cole competed well against defensive players with more experience.
The running attack struggled, but the poor blocking and mundane play-calling didn’t help.
Pass Defense: The defensive secondary looked good and is clearly further along compared to the offense. Defensive back Jourdan Lewis and safety Jarrod Wilson had some great pass breakups and delivered some nice hits.
Frank Clark looks like he’s ready for a monster senior season.
The early evaluation of the defense is that it looks improved. According to defensive end Frank Clark, the offense and defense have battled all spring long, but today the defense looked superior.
Run Defense: The defense smothered the running attack for most of the scrimmage.
Linebackers Ben Gedeon and Brennen Beyer looked good, roaming from sideline to sideline. Tackling wasn’t crisp, and the offense really didn’t challenge the defense too much.
Coaching: Hoke was successful in not revealing too much to friend or foe alike. After last season’s disappointing finish, fans are eager for any glimmer of hope that this season will be better.
Fans watching today at Michigan Stadium or on television will have to hope that the best is yet to come.
Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via press conferences or in person.