Michigan Football: Top Performers from the Michigan Spring Game
Fans watched the Michigan football team go through its final workout at Michigan Stadium, but those expecting a game left disappointed.
Earlier in the week Brady Hoke had announced that the spring “game” would consist of a typical practice followed by a scrimmage between the offense and defense. No score was kept and, in a bid to minimize potential injuries, special teams were not part of the proceedings.
But for a fan base still smarting from last season’s 7-6 start, the chance to see Michigan back on the field was a welcome sight.
Many were eager to see the new offense installed by Doug Nussmeier but instead saw some of the same problems that plagued the team last season—interceptions and a porous offensive line.
Despite the limited format of the scrimmage, the performance of some players gave fans hope that Michigan is in the midst of rebounding from last season’s November collapse.
Maize quarterback jerseys
On a day when quarterbacks Devin Gardner and Shane Morris struggled to move the offense, the highlight of the position might have been the maize no-contact jerseys they wore.
With the offense wearing the traditional blue home jerseys and defense wearing white road colors, the quarterbacks drew attention for their attire, if not their play.
Michigan has worn special jerseys in the past; the maize jerseys might be an interesting option for an upcoming game.
WR Freddy Canteen
All spring players have been raving about freshman Freddy Canteen. On Saturday, he showed a glimpse of what teammates have seen since he arrived on campus.
Canteen slipped behind the secondary and pulled down a 44-yard pass from quarterback Devin Gardner for the longest play of the day for the offense.
It was his only reception, but it was the offensive highlight on a day when Brady Hoke seemed determined to show as little of the playbook as possible. With quarterbacks Devin Gardner (2-of-10 pass attempts for 53 yards) and Shane Morris (5-of-11 for 73 yards) only completing seven passes, it was difficult to judge the progress of the new offense.
RB Justice Hayes
While running backs Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith have battling all spring, it was Justice Hayes who made the biggest impression during the scrimmage.
Running behind a patchwork offensive line (expected starters Erik Magnuson and Joey Burzynski missed spring practice because of injuries), Hayes powered through some impressive runs, short on yards but big on effort. Hayes finished the day with six carries for 33 yards and showed that he’s in the mix for carries at running back headed into next season.
DB Jourdan Lewis
The good news is that Jourdan Lewis had two interceptions, returning one for 20 yards. The bad news is that they came at the expense of his teammates on offense. Such is the pain of an intrasquad scrimmage.
Last season, the Michigan secondary struggled as the team faded at the end of the season. Lewis’ interceptions seemed to signal that Michigan would not be playing coverage as loose as last season.
”I definitely think we're going to be tighter on offenses this year,” said Lewis. “We are playing more man-to-man and we'll be closer to those guys to break it up or intercept it.”
DE Frank Clark
Frank Clark looked to be in midseason form, recording a sack and relentlessly pressuring quarterbacks all afternoon long.
Clark took advantage of an offensive line that still has a long way to go before next season.
“We have a young offensive line right now. We have a lot of guys that are injured or not fully recovered from injury yet,” said Clark. “All of those guys will be back when we start camp and that's something to look forward to.”
Clark also acknowledged that as an older player on the team, it’s his job to help teammates acclimate to the new defense to help atone for last season.
“We want to be a run-stopping, pass-rushing team. It's that simple.”
All statistics from mgoblue.com, official University of Michigan athletic department web site.
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.