Michigan Spring Game 2012: Grades, Players Who Shined and Analysis

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IApril 14, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 03:  Head coach Brady Hoke of the Michigan Wolverines applauds his teams play against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 3, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Overall, Brady Hoke wasn't pleased with the performance of his players as the Blue team beat the white 17-0 in Michigan's annual spring game. 

Hoke wanted to see more pressure applied by his defensive line, and he did not want to see his defense missing so many tackles. You can view his postgame press conference here

That certainly doesn't mean there weren't any positives for him to take from this performance. For starters, they finished the game relatively healthy with no major injuries. 

Also, despite the missed tackles, the defense was a step ahead of the offense. While this is good news for the defense, it could be troubling for the offense. However, QB Denard Robinson barely played and the offense was all about looking at different players in different positions. 

Here are a few players that stood out on Saturday. 

QB, Devin Gardner: C-

ANN ARBOR, MI - APRIL 16: Devin Gardner #7 of the Michigan Wolverines drops back to pass during the annual Spring Game at Michigan Stadium on April 16, 2011 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Backup QB Gardner has a lot of work to do if Michigan fans are going to avoid panic attacks when they see him warming up. 

He is supremely gifted. He has all the tools to succeed, but he needs polish. That was on display in the spring game. 

Gardner is good on the run. He is a true threat rushing. However, he is a one-dimensional threat. Gardner has a good arm, but he makes bad decisions and struggles with his accuracy. 

That is a bad combo. If you are going to make a bad decision, you better make it accurately, or it is headed towards certain doom. 

He ended the day 2-for-7 for 36 yards and an interception. 

RB, Thomas Rawls: A-

Courtesy Melanie Maxwell of AnnArbor.com
Courtesy Melanie Maxwell of AnnArbor.com

Rawls made a great case to take over the role as the primary backup. He scored both of the game's touchdowns. One on a 21-yard scamper and another in a short yardage situation. 

He spent the majority of last season dealing with injuries and was never able to show fans what he is truly capable of. 

Rawls is healthy now and he looks good. He is a good interior runner. He has excellent vision and balance. He only needs a small crease to burst through the line for yardage. 

First String Defense: A

Hoke may not have been happy with his defense's tackling performance, but he had to have been happy with how his starters performed overall. 

It took them just six plays to get the starting offense off the field on their first possession. That was the only series Robinson played. 

Gardner replaced Robinson following that and he was with the starting offense for the next two series. 

The offense got nothing going. Gardner was sacked on his first play and threw an interception on his second, and they had to punt on their third possession. 

The starting defense was clearly a step ahead of the offense. 

2012 Prediction

With many starters being used reservedly in this game, not a lot has changed on the outlook for next season. 

However, it is good to see that the defense that allowed the sixth-fewest points in the nation was in top form. This unit is good enough to keep Michigan competitive in every game. Offensively, their ground game will be enough to seal victories in most of those games. 

Record: 10-3


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