Michigan will have some big shoes to fill at cornerback with the departures of Jourdan Lewis and Channing Stribling.
Saturday was the first time many saw most of the young corners in live-action reps. While there were struggles, which are to be expected when it comes to a youth movement. However, at the same time, there were also plenty of positives to glean from the game tape.
When he signed with U-M, head coach Jim Harbaugh was very excited about what Keith Washington could bring to the program. A converted high school quarterback, Washington had to go through the growing pains that come with transitioning to a new position. Saturday he was able to go out and show that he is ready for extended minutes. His position coach, cornerbacks coach Mike Zordich, has seen improvement from him throughout spring.
Culminating in what he says was an excellent spring performance.
"Keith is a competitor that's the one thing I like about [him]," Zordich said. "He works his tail off. Remember, he was a quarterback in high school and we brought him over and told him that he's going to play cornerback in a system that plays press man 90% of the time. It's not an easy thing to do and it's a tough technique to learn. That's what he's trying to do and he's doing it very well, I thought he had a heck of a game Saturday. Played really well, had some nice tackles and he was aggressive. He's coming along really well.
"My goodness, you get so many reps I see [improvement] in the technique part of it. Probably things the eyes doesn't see but the eye in the sky sees. You can rewind it, play it slow and watch the little things he's doing wrong and his technique. That's where he's got some improvement."
When asked what he had learned from his young corners, Zordich, unprompted, mentioned the play of early enrollee freshman Benjamin St. Juste. An interesting prospect, as he's quite tall compared to other corners in the conference, Zordich was disappointed with the way the spring game ended for St. Juste as, for the most part, played well. Which included an interception to his name.
Either way, Zordich feels like the fourth quarter will be a learning experience for his young corner.
"I was a little disappointed in Ben [St. Juste] in the end," Zordich said. "I think he played a lot of reps, the most out of the corners of the group. I think maybe when you get a little tired and start losing concentration, his technique starts to wane and he gave up some plays. It's good for him, too, because he felt bad after the game. He really felt bad. Hey, that's the first time out there and it's a great experience for him."