Top Five Spring Game Performers: Offense

Taking a look back at Michigan's spring football game, who were the top five performers on offense? Josh Newkirk and Kyle Bogenschutz take a look.

Newkirk: Judging Michigan's offense based off the scoreboard is a tough sell, but there were some Wolverines that stood out to me in the spring game. To be fair, the offensive line was spilt up, and defense always has the upper hand early on in spring practice. To me, however, there were some bright spots. Here is my list below.

No. 1 - Junior QB Shane Morris: Everyone was waiting to see how the quarterbacks were going to play in the spring game. Morris, to me, had the edge over early freshman enrollee Alex Malzone. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said he was leading the competition after the game as well.

On the field, Morris completed 11 of 24 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown. A knock on his passing this spring -- most notably by passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch -- was Morris' inability to throw with touch. Morris proved in the spring game that he can indeed throw with some touch, hitting his fair share of receivers in stride, including a picture perfect toss to Jaron Dukes for the games only score right before halftime. He also took a few shots, and was willing to wait in the pocket to find his open receiver.

Now, Morris still had his issues in the game. He overthrew a few passes with his over powering arm. He did throw an interception, a pass that went off the receiver's hands/facemask that was an easy pick for the defense.

No. 2 - Junior TE Jake Butt: Arguably Michigan's best pass catcher, Butt finished with four catches for 30 yards, including a 16 yard reception. Butt seems do everything right and showcased why he is great security option for whoever ends up starting at quarterback this fall. His blocking has improved. Saturday's game was indication of how much he should and will ne utilized this fall.

No. 3 - Redshirt junior WR Amara Darboh: Darboh and Morris looked like they had a little connection during the game. Darboh finished with four catches for 75 yards, including a perfect fade pass/catch from Morris for 37 yards. He looks like he will step in as the go to wide out this fall. Darboh, however, did struggle with a few drops. He dropped a perfectly thrown fade from Morris late in the second half, he'll need to catch those to help out his quarterback and keep the chains moving this fall.

No. 4 - Junior RB De'Veon Smith: The running backs competition is wide open. And it probably remains that way after the spring game. Smith had seven carries for 50 yards, including a 34 yard run to open up the scrimmage. Smith found the hole on that long run, but was limited by the defense after that.  

No. 5 - Freshman QB Alex Malzone: Early freshman enrollee Alex Malzone should be worried about his prom, but instead started the spring game for the Maize offense. Malzone completed 15 of 27 for 95 yards with two interceptions.

Malzone, like Morris, had receivers who didn't help him out with  a few drops. He also threw perfect deep ball that was stolen out of his receiver's arms by Brandon Watson for highlight reel interception. His second interception, however, was a bad read on his part. He didn't see the underneath zone and Desmond Morgan picked him off for an easy interception.

Overall, he showed ability to make all the throws. He didn't look rattles in the pocket and should learn from his in-game experience from the spring game. The experience alone was invaluable for Malzone.

Bogenschutz: For much of the game, especially most of the first half, Michigan’s play offensively left a lot to be desired. Some of the highlights include a strong run by De’Veon Smith and a touchdown throw from Shane Morris to Jaron Dukes. Outside of some key plays, the Wolverines failed to move the ball with consistency on the ground or through the air. The positive though is that Michigan appeared to be more organized and efficient in its approach, outside of the turnovers.

No. 1 – Junior QB Shane Morris: Morris showed much better poise than he did a year ago, bouncing back after several empty drives early in the first half. Pocket presence is going to be key under Jim Harbaugh and on several occasions Morris hung in delivering the football with great courage, according to his head coach. Perhaps more importantly though, Morris demonstrated better leadership, barking commands to his offense and looking confident in the huddle. Morris’ one mistake, a deflected interception, was a well-placed ball in his receiver’s hands.

No. 2 – Freshman QB Alex Malzone: Yes, Malzone threw two interceptions in the spring game. His first pick was a strong ball down the left sideline, Brandon Watson stealing the ball away. His second, very ugly to Desmond Morgan dropping into coverage. Overall though, for an 18-year-old kid that graduated high school early, Malzone looked like he belonged and made his fair share of solid throws. Add in the fact that the quarterback position has been so putrid in recent seasons, Malzone was a positive for the Wolverines in 40 minutes of action.

No. 3 – Junior TE Jake Butt: Butt is the perfect balance at tight end for first year assistant coach Jay Harbaugh. Butt was targeted a handful of times but should factor into the offensive attack even more so this fall. A precise route runner, Butt dropped one ball in the scrimmage but smoothly reeled in four passes.

No. 4 – Junior OG Kyle Kalis: The offensive line needs to be better and Kalis’ progression this spring is a welcomed addition. Kalis was physical at the point of attack and showed much better balance in pass protection despite some of the issues up front throughout the scrimmage.

No. 5 – Junior WR Amara Darboh: Darboh took a while to warm-up but managed to reel in some impressive catches including a few over newly converted cornerback Dennis Norfleet. Darboh finished the 2014 season targeting the ball better in the air. In the spring game, it appeared Darboh was a far more refined route runner.

Josh Newkirk and Kyle Bogenschutz contributed to this report.

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