The 2011 spring game in Ann Arbor sent Michigan fans mixed signals. The fans saw a much-improved defense, but also saw an offense which didn’t look as dynamic as last year’s. Playing in the rain also didn’t make it an ideal day for offense, but it did make for good football weather.
New Offensive Coordinator Al Borges is in the middle of installing his playbook, so the jury should remain out (for now). Running about 25 percent of his playbook, the offense looked very pedestrian. The offensive line was without young-but-promising starting left tackle Taylor Lewan, and Michigan’s new 4-3 defense controlled the line of scrimmage.
Denard Robinson struggled under center and failed to complete half his pass attempts. Devin Gardner displayed a fantastic arm, but at one point tossed back-to-back interceptions. The running backs, for the most part, looked ordinary and struggled to find daylight most of the afternoon. Wide receivers looked the part, but were adjusting routes all day to accommodate for poorly thrown balls
Should Michigan fans interpret this as the defense looking good, or the offense looking bad? To be sure, the defense looked and tackled much better than the group we saw at this year’s Gator Bowl against Mississippi State. And to be doubly sure, the defense will only get better under new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison.
The former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator is making just shy of $1,000,000 per year (including incentive bonuses) to make sure the Michigan defense makes a quantum leap forward in 2011.
Did the spring game create more questions than it answered for Michigan fans? A few of the most important questions lie within the various position battles which are to-be-continued until summer practices start.
Due to offensive and defensive system changes, slot receivers, spurs and bandits now must fit into different position groups. How will these players fare in 2011?
Here’s a look at some of the key position battles heating up going into the summer.