The wait is over. Michigan football is back. And none too soon. After the early exit of the Wolverine basketball team from the NCAA tournament, the Wolverine football team returns to the gridiron for spring workouts. After a surprising inaugural season capped by a victory in the Sugar Bowl, the Wolverines need to find replacements on the both the offensive and defensive lines and firm up the linebacker and defensive backfield. In short, there’s a lot of work to do.
Finding replacements for offensive center David Molk and defensive lineman Mike Martin need to be top priorities. The reliability, agility, and overall nastiness of David Molk cannot be overstated. The Wolverine offense suffered greatly over the years when Molk wasn’t on the field and you only need to go back and watch the first series of the Sugar Bowl that he missed due to an injury in warm ups to see challenge for whomever takes his place. Hoke has indicated that red shirt senior Ricky Barnum is currently being evaluated at center, but repeated during his opening press conference that, “…the expectation is for the position,” and every there is competition for every position every day. If Barnum struggles don’t be surprised to see others given an opportunity.
Why is center so important? Every play starts with the center and quarterback exchanging the football either by direct snap or shotgun.
If all-world quarterback Denard Robinson doesn’t get the ball reliably it will be a long season.
The center is tasked with remembering the counts, getting the ball to the QB, and calling out the correct blocking calls for the entire offensive line. This while getting beat on by defensive lineman and needing to make step to fill a gap in the blocking scheme and occasionally pull to lead block on running plays.
Watch game tape and tell me often you see any center be involved down field as often as David Molk was last season. Here he is following Denard Robinson (who by the way is pretty speedy himself) and looking to make a an extra block and police the pile to prevent any extracurricular shenanigans that opponents may have had in mind.
Molk has been a rock on the line and both Brady Hoke and Rich Rodriguez were fortunate to have him on their teams.
Molk occasionally did smile. Usually after dominating some poor opponent.
Molk regularly matched up against defensive lineman Mike Martin in practice, and each have mentioned that they were often challenged more in practice by each other than by opponents in games.
Martin was a dominating presence that opponents needed to account for on every play.
The rare occasion when Mike Martin was only being held by one player.
Wolverine fans need to watch how Hoke & company fill the holes left by these two key player from the 2011 season.
2012 might depend on it.