Yesterday I attended practice inside Al Glick field house. It was all business from start to finish. Harbaugh himself did not coach any single position, but instead moved from station to station throughout the day. The only time he worked with the quarterbacks exclusively was while they warmed up their arms. The players stretched individually before practice, then walked through plays on both side of the ball. The Wolverines conditioned periodically throughout practice, and took a few five-minute breaks at the “Fuel Station” on the sideline where there was Gatorade and snacks. Harbaugh was constantly coaching and teaching, from the back up full back to starting quarterback. Only one time did he raise his voice and yell out of frustration. The coaching staff as a whole is a slightly different story; all of them with the exception of Greg Mattison are very intense and adamant. Time Drevno is a hell of an offensive line coach, very demanding and seems to be a great teacher. Following this will be a list of players that were absent or did not participate in practice, and following that will be the depth chart that I saw with yesterdays players.
Players that did not participate:
-Mario Ojemudia: MIA
– Da’Mario Jones: MIA
– Sione Houma: MIA
– Noah Furbush: MIA
– Chris Fox: MIA
– Drake Harris: Limited participation.
– Dave Dawson: Fully dressed, no participation however.
– Terry Richardson: Fully dressed, no participation however.
– Ondre Pipkens: Limited Participation.
– Ty Isaac: Limited Participation, undisclosed reason.
– Jabrill Peppers: Had his wisdom teeth removed earlier in the week.
– Taco Charlton: Wore shirt & T-Shirt at practice. Undiclosed reason.
– Dan Samullsen: Came up lame during conditions. Upper leg.
– Drake Johnson: Recovering from a torn ACL
– Graham Glasgow: Suspended
– Khalid Hill: Recovering from a torn ACL
– Matt Godin: Suspected lower body injury.
-Things that stood out to me:
– Shane Morris was the first player out of the locker room and on the field.
– Ty Isaac is a MONSTER. Dude looks like a tight end.
– Three players saw reps at center today (Cole, Kugler, Bars) and all three had poor snaps all afternoon. Jim Harbaugh was taking a large interest in that position all day.
– Juwann Bushell Beatty & Lawrence Marshall & Ian Bunting have made the biggest freshman to sophomore leap physically. JBB and Bunting are growing into what appears to be NFL frames, and Marshall looks like a fully grown man, and is absolutely jacked.
– Chase Winovich has moved to tight end, and his athleticism suits him well at the position.
– Henry Poggi & Tom Stroebel split time all afternoon at Defensive Line and Tight End/H-Back.
– Brian Cole is the real deal, already physically ready for the D1 game.
– The defense came out In a traditional 3-4, and only moved to a four man front for a Nickel package that was similar to a 4-2-5
– Dennis Norfleet is one of the unquestioned upper classmen leaders of this team. He has the respect of all of his team mates and is an exceptional leader by example on the field.
1. Shane Morris, Jr-
. Shane Morris ran with the 1’s all afternoon. In warm ups and seven on seven drills, Morris was dropping dimes, and I cannot recall a single ball of his hitting the ground. It was readily apparent that he has the best command of the offense of all QB’s, At this point it appears it is Morris’s job to lose.
2. Alex Malzone, Fr
Alex got all of the 2’s reps, and a small portion of the 1’s as well. He looks very comfortable with the offense, and is playing better than expected at this point.
3. Wilton Speight, RFr
Speight struggled with accuracuy all afternoon, and got very few reps with the starters. Appears to be outside looking in at this point and was underwhelming all day long.
4. Garrett Moores, RFr
Moores is the only other QB to receive team reps today, albeit with the back ups.
1. De’Veon Smith, Jr-
De’veon ran only with the 1’s during the team portion of practice. Expect him to tote the rock this season in some form.
2. Derrick Green, Jr
Green appears to be in great shape, and is speed has improved. If only he would keep his feet going. One of the few backs to get team reps with starters.
3. Antonio Whitfield, Jr
Suprisingly, Whitfield got a number of carries behind the 1st Oline, and not all of them were out of shotgun. I’d be surprised if he saw the ball much during the regular season, but today showed the coaches trust him.
4. Wyatt Shallman, Jr-
Shallman is definitely now playing tail back. He ran with the 1’s in seven on seven, both catching the ball and in pass pro. However he received few if any 1st team carries in team.
1. Joe Kerridge, RSr
Kerridge will undoubtedly be Michigan’s starting full back in 2015.
2. Brady Pallante, So
Pallante moved to tight end from Defensive Tackle, and the move has paid off. Brady moves well and saw a few 1st team goal line reps.
1. Dennis Norfleet, Sr
Norfleet had a good a practice as anyone. He looks very comfortable under Harbaugh, and his route running and plays after the catch were great today. He stood out as a leader of the receiving core in a big way today.
2. Brian Cole, Fr
Cole is physically ready for the game, however is a freshman swimming right now. I’ll be shocked if he isn’t a part of the offense come week one, and becomes a monster on special teams.
3. Bo Dever, Sr
Dever played sparingly last season, and with Norfleet stepping up, it appears that will be the case this year also.
1. Amara Darboh, Sr
Darboh did nothing specactular all day, but he had a good command of the offense and saw a lot of 1st team reps.
2. JaRon Dukes, Jr
Dukes had himself a great practice. He stood out among receivers all day, and saw some 1st team reps. He’ll be apart of the offense this season.
3. Maurice Ways, So
Ways passes the eye test with ease. He caught a few jump balls and stood out during seven on seven. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him catch a few this season.
1. Jehu Chesson, Sr
Chesson ran with the 1’s all day. Like Darboh, he wasn’t spectacular, but he seemed the most comfortable in the offense.
2. Freddy Canteen, So
Canteen split 1st & 2nd team reps all day, and looked comfortable under Harbaugh. Expect him to find this end zone this year.
3. Jack Wangler, RSo
Wangler played well in seven on seven, but underwhelmed during the team session.
1. Jake Butt, Jr
Butt did everything for the offense in what will be a complicated TE role. Performed well.
2. AJ Williams, Sr
AJ has always been an inline tight end, and that will not change under Harbaugh. He’s basically an extra offensive lineman.
3. Ian Bunting, RFr
Bunting has filled his frame and is a full grown man on the field. He performed well physically but did not seem to have a good handle on the offense.
Of Note: Henry Poggi, Chase Winovich and Tom Stroelbel all repped at tight end and H-Back. I wouldn’t exactly rank them on this list but it is of note. Stroebel strictly played on the LOS, and always blocked. Poggi and Winovich were used more as H-Backs. Thye both blocked and received.
1. Logan Tulley-Tillman, RSo
LTT got more than half of the reps at left tackle and performed well. I could definitely see him starting there week one.
2. Mason Cole, So
Cole is currently repping at Center for the 1st team. However, if Tillman is not up to the challenge at Left Tackle, Cole will step in and succeed.
1. Eric Magnuson, Sr
Magnuson has the left guard spot all but locked up.
2. Blake Bars, Sr
1. Mason Cole, Fr
2. Patrick Kugler, RSo
Kugler got half of the first team reps, and played well other than his poor snaps.
3. Blake Bars, Sr
Bars was the go-to when both Kugler and Cole struggled with his snaps.
1. Kyle Kalis, RJr
Kalis is finally living up to his billing out of High School.
2. Greg Froelich, Jr
Froelich got a decent amount of the 2nd team right guard reps
1. Ben Braden, RJr
Braden is a true mauler, once he gets his hands on you; youre toast. Braden will start here week one.
2. Juwann Bushell-Beatty, RFr
JBB impressed me today, both with his size and play.
Offensive Recap: If they played tomorrow, Morris would start at QB. The running backs will be by committee all season unless someone separates themselves from the pack. Early on I think we’ll see the more experienced guys at receiver (Darboh, Chesson) but as the season progresses we’ll see more Canteen, Ways & Cole. Dennis Norfleet will be properly utilized under Drevno, and you can expect to see the ball in his hands. Butt is an all conference tight end at worst, and will be one of our leading receivers. Ian Bunting looks great after putting on some weight, and as the season moves along we’ll see more and more of him. As far as the Oline goes, it all hinges on if LTT can play left tackle. If he can, the line will look like this :LTT, Magnuson, Cole, Kalis, Braden. If LTT cannot get the job done, Cole will move back outside and Pat Kugler will start at center. The offense ran a LOT of pistol, using multiple full backs and tight ends in the back field. Not much one-back under center, but there was a lot of one-back out of shotgun. Of the players already on the roster that did not participate, I expect Khalid Hill, Ty Isaac, Sione Houma, Dave Dawson, Drake Johnson, Drake Harris and Graham Glasgow could all play a role this upcoming season. Of the incoming freshman that could make an impact, There is Grant Perry, Zack Gentry, Karan Higdon, Grant Newsome, Tyrone Wheatley Jr and Jon Runyan Jr.
Defensive Groups (3-4 Look)
1. Willie Henry, RJr
2. Henry Poggi, Jr
– Both players did well in pass rushing drills and more than held their own during team. Henry appeared in shape and Poggi is playing well enough that he wont fully transition to offense.
1. Ryan Glasgow, RJr
2. Bryan Mone, So
– Glasgow had a better command of the new off man front, while Mone is physically better. Expect to see a lot of Mone in the 3-4 look.
1. Chris Wormley, RSr
2. Maurice Hurst, RSo
– Wormley played very well from the 5 technique and displayed quickness I didn’t know he had. Hurst used his leverage and explosiveness to make plays in the backfield during team.
1. James Ross, Sr
2. Allen Gant, Sr
– Neither Ross nor Gant rushed the passer much from this spot, but both were decent in pass coverage and run support.
1. Joe Bolden, Jr
2. Desmond Morgan, RSr
3. Ben Gedeon, Jr
4. Mike McCray, RSo
– Bolden is becoming a leader of this defense physically. Him and Morgan did a decent job of getting off blocks in the new 3-4 look. Gedeon and McCray both have the size to play inside and fight off bigger Linemen than them.
1. Royce Jenkins-Stone, Sr
2. Lawrence Marshall, RFr
– RJS and Marshall both rushed the passer a lot from the spot, and both did well. However I think they both stand to lose playing time with Charlton and Ojemudia healthy.
1. Jourdan Lewis, Jr
2. Blake Countess, RSr
3. Channing Stribling, Jr
4. Reon Dawson, RSo
5. Ross Taylor-Douglass, RSo
– When the defense had three corners on the field, Stibling went outside and Countess played in the slot. Dawson was underwhelming all day and it was apparent that RTD is still transitioning back to the corner position.
1. Delano Hill, Jr
2. Dymonte Thomas, Jr
– Hill played well all day, even playing in the box as a line backer in some looks. Thomas did not get many team reps but he made the most of them when he did, registering a few pass break ups.
1. Jarrod Wilson, RSr
2. Jeremy Clark, RJr
– With Peppers out, Wilson was the quarterback of the secondary. He got most of the team reps, while Clark did nothing of note.
Defensive Recap: All we saw as a base defense on Saturday was the 3-4. While I don’t think that will be our base defense all season, it will definitely be in the mix a lot. Durkin’s defense blitzed all day, from the line backer position as well as the corner position. For most of the day the DB’s were in press-man coverage. Channing Stribling, Jourdan Lewis, Dymonte Thomas and Delano Hill all impressed and had interceptions against the 2’s and 3’s. At one point, Delano Hill (Filling in for Peppers) was up in the box, playing some sort of Monster backer. It was clear that the defense’s biggest priority was just getting lined up properly and knowing their assignment, which they did well for most of the day. I would have to say that the DLine is pretty set with those six rotational players, and the same goes for the linebackers. I don’t think there will be any surprises at those spots this season. The only mystery in the secondary; but its not a matter of who will play, but where those guys will play. Incoming freshman who could contribute are Tyree Kinnel, Shelton Johnson, Keith Washington and Reuben Jones.
Based off of what I saw yesterday, I’d say the four guys with the best shot at being Captains are: Dennis Norfleet, Joe Bolden, Jake Butt, Jarrod Wilson.
For any questions regarding my observations or projections going forward in the season, please tweet me @BleedBlueCoachT