Spring Practice Primer: Michigan
After finishing 2011 with a Sugar Bowl victory, the Wolverines look to improve in Brady Hoke's second season and open practice on Saturday
Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Michigan.
Spring Practice Begins: Saturday, March 17
Spring Game: Saturday, April 14
Three Things To Watch For:
1. Denard's grasp of the offense. The first year of Al Borges and the Michigan offense trying to fit Denard Robinson into a pro-style system had its ups and downs. Robinson saw his passing touchdowns increase from 18 to 20, but he threw for 400 less yards, saw his completion percentage drop from 62% to 55%, and his interceptions rose from 11 to 15 despite the fact he threw 33 less passes in 2011 than 2010. While Robinson has never been what you can call an accurate passer, some of that drop off had to be due to learning an entirely new system. Now that he'll have a chance to spend an entire offseason becoming more familiar with it, we could see some major strides in Robinson's ability as a passer in 2012. Considering how successful Robinson has already been in the Big Ten, imagine what he could do in 2012 as he becomes more comfortable in Borges' offense.
2. A reliable target would help Denard. Between them, Junior Hemingway and Kevin Koger caught 57 passes for 943 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2011, but neither are back on the field for the Wolverines this spring. Which means, in Hemingway's case specifically, that Michigan and Denard Robinson need somebody to step up and become that reliable target and big-play threat in the passing game. Given performance last season, Jeremy Gallon looks like somebody that can have an even bigger impact in 2012, but given Gallon's size (5-foot-8), Roy Roundtree may be the better option. It will be interesting to see if Roundtree can find his form again after seeing his reception total drop from 72 receptions in 2010 to only 19 in 2012.
3. New players on the defensive line. The biggest reason Michigan had such a nice turnaround last season is that the defense went from being terrible in 2010 to finishing 6th in the country with only 17.4 points allowed per game. That improvement was thanks in large part to a defensive line that featured Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen. Both are gone now, and Michigan will have to find replacements if it wants to continue the success in 2012. All of which means that players like Will Campbell will have to start living up to their enormous potential this spring.
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