Burning Questions for the Michigan Spring Game
Here are five big questions that Brady Hoke and his coaching staff will look to find answers to this Saturday.
1. Is Devin Gardner Really the Starting Quarterback?
This is obviously the big position battle that everybody's eyes will be fixated on. Senior Devin Gardner's struggles last season have been well documented, and a lot of Wolverine fans are ready for a new face at QB. Coach Hoke recently said that Gardner will be the starter with Shane Morris backing him up, but I'm not quite sure I'm sold yet.
With the pressure Hoke is going to be under after two mediocre seasons in Ann Arbor, the desire to please the Wolverine fan base has to be in the back of his head somewhere, and a lot of fans have made it clear that they want Morris.
If Gardner struggles on Saturday and Morris lights the world on fire, it'll be tough for Hoke to justify going back to Gardner.
2. Who Will Emerge as the Top Running back?
After losing Fitzgerald Toussaint to graduation, Hoke and new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will need to figure out who is going to replace him in 2014.
Derrick Green is a former 5-star recruit who appears to be the early favorite to see the majority of snaps at running back. However, De'Veon Smith showed flashes of his ability in his limited opportunities last season, and will look to show the coaching staff that he can carry the load out of the backfield.
With the question marks swirling around the quarterback position, establishing a strong running game will be essential for the Wolverines.
3. Who Will Gardner (or Morris) Throw the Ball To?
The top wide receiver from a year ago, Jeremy Gallon, has graduated and is moving onto the NFL, so there is yet another hole on the offensive side of the ball to fill.
Tight end Devin Funchess was the second-leading pass catcher for the Wolverines last season, and he looks to be an even bigger factor in the passing game with the departure of Gallon.
The No. 1 wide receiver spot is up for grabs, with sophomore Jehu Chesson being the favorite. There are reports that Chesson has not looked particularly impressive in his adjustment to Nussmeier's new offensive system, so freshman Freddy Canteen will look to take advantage of that and win the competition this Saturday.
4. Can Jake Ryan Play Middle Linebacker?
Jake Ryan played strong side linebacker for Michigan last season, and he ended up being one of the few bright spots for defensive coordinator Greg Mattison.
Mattison has now added "Linebackers Coach" to his title, and his first order of business was moving Ryan from the outside to the inside. Teams often tried to run away from Ryan last season, so putting him right in the middle will make that much more difficult.
We will get a chance to see if Ryan can take on all of the additional responsibilities that come with playing middle linebacker for the first time during the spring game. He will need to adjust to his new position without missing a beat if the Wolverines plan on making noise in the Big Ten this season.
5. Will Graham Glasgow's Suspension Cost Him His Job?
Following a rough 2013 season as the starting center, Glasgow was suspended briefly from spring practice following an undisclosed violation of team policy, and he will also be suspended for the season opener against Appalachian State.
After a short absence at spring practice, it is believed that Glasgow now may lose his job entirely.
Patrick Kluger, Jack Miller, and the long shot Ben Pliska have all gotten reps with the first team this spring, and there are some who think Kluger or Miller have a real shot at the starting center position if Glasgow underperforms in the spring game.
He will have to show up in a big way this Saturday if he wants to maintain any amount of job security he might have left.