The period since the Wolverine’s win in the Citrus Bowl has been an outstanding Coach Harbaugh success on behalf of his Wolverines.
It is widely recognized that Harbaugh favored circus entertainment as a youth, and Michigan’s sometimes quirky, but always effective and intense second year head coach, has a natural touch of Ringling Brothers or Barnum and Bailey at times, as he invokes his innovative football ideas. It is predictable that he will set one trap and then another as the rules allow to enhance his charges position. Even so, he is no snake oil salesman, but honestly is totally dedicated to his winning ways, and enjoys his job.
The first week of practice at IMG in Florida provided a vehicle to tweak some of the SEC coaches who argued laughable concerns, as well as keeping the program in a national attention spotlight, and perhaps establishing a Florida recruiting presence.
How much it actually will help recruiting is to be seen, but the net benefit appears outstanding in all regards. That Harbaugh donned a Tigers uniform and coached first base, at a Detroit Tiger’s spring training game, was another nice touch.
The acquisition of one of the most highly touted defensive players in the country, Rashan Gary, was the cherry on the sundae of this year’s recruiting cycle. Gary was introduced at half time as were the rest of the 2016 recruits. He will be on board in the fall. It will be interesting to watch his progress on defense. He has the physique to immediately contribute.
So the beat went on through the end of spring training. It went nothing but well.
The unpredictable Harbaugh did not hold a post-game presser according to reliable reports. I must admit that I was unable to be there because of a recent total knee replacement. Hopefully, that is all I have to miss of the 2016 season.
There appears to be a real competition at Quarterback. Wilton Speight and John O’Korn had success both passing and running. Both scored a running TD. Shane Morris threw a TD from the wide receiver position, and an interception, but will likely also be in the QB competition. Shane threw an ill-advised jump ball late in the first half, after a nifty scramble, but Dymonte Thomas made him pay via an athletic interception. Shane’s use at WR was interesting.
Intensity levels and team enthusiasm were great.
This looks to be one of the best defenses in recent memory as it matures. While there were defensive bright spots Friday, they were being reigned in. For example, Peppers usage. Those usages will likely be more multiple later. It is predictable that Don Brown’s defense will be hell for leather. It will be all out. More evidence of that is to come.
John O’Korn quarterbacked the Maize, and was responsible for the first and last TDs of the game. Losing 14-13, O’Korn’s Blue team could not punch in what would have been the winning points on a failed two point conversion. The Henry Poggi dive was stopped short, as confirmed by an official and Harbaugh on review.
To me it seemed as though O’Korn won the QB day, but only by the slimmest of margins. He hit Drake Harris on a nice 30-yard out to the 11 as part of a 70-yard, 15-play drive to the game’s first 6.
Drake Harris had a good afternoon, as did defender Mike McCray, who had a 6-yard TFL during the drive. Hope this oft injured pair can stay on the healthy side for a change.
Ty Issac was very productive at running back. He has a couple of years left, so it is critical he make a move now or become addicted to pine. Looks like he has now established an appropriate mindset, and is in better physical shape.
A lateral to wide out Shane Morris set up a TD pass to a wide open Drake Johnson. It was Blue 7, Maize 0. They had already matched last year’s spring game TD production.
Winton Speight’s Maize fought back. Speight was 3 of 4, with a 31-yard TD completion to Jake Butt to make it 7 up in the second quarter.
Shane Morris threw an ill-advised bomb that was athletically intercepted by an alert DyMonte Thomas to end the half.
Winton Speight was productive in the second half too, managing a nifty 6-yard run for six and the Maize had the winning points. He also ran another for 9-yards.
Brandon Peters got some time at the QB throttle. He looks good.
Late in the game a roughing the passer penalty facilitated a TD run by the Blue team. Morris caught a short pass and motored 25-yards to the 13-yard line. John O’Korn scrambled and ran for the score, and it was Blue 13, Maize 14. The dive for two from the two failed. Game over.
While one has to be careful leaping to conclusions after a spring game as talent is split between teams and for other reasons, it seems safe to say the both offense and defense are improved over last year at this time. It is appears there will be encouraging answers for problems and shortcomings.
I am really looking forward to fall camp, and know you are too.