Matt Gutierrez looked very crisp today throwing the football. He showed excellent recognition and was very accurate. His most beautiful pass of the day was a rainbow down the sideline to Braylon Edwards (who had shaken Leon Hall in one-on-one coverage). Though it was only a practice, Gutierrez showed more patience and stuck with the plays longer than he did at last year’s opening session. When he decided to tuck and run today, it was because all of his options were covered. His QB counterpart, Clayton Richard, looked very comfortable in the pocket today as well. The thing that stuck out most was his command in the huddle and his confidence. Though he wasn’t as crisp as “Gutz” on the day, it was easy to tell that there is really going to be a battle for the QB slot.
It was hard to really evaluate the backs because there was no contact, but from today’s observations, Jerome Jackson and Tim Bracken looked very good. Jackson looked much like he did late in the season…following his blockers and reading the holes very well. Just like he did in high school, Jerome stayed after practice to get in more running. The kid is the consummate hard worker. Bracken was just as impressive and really looks to be rounding into his pre-injury form. He seemed a step quicker/faster than last year. He did an excellent job of getting around the corner. It will be interesting to see if he’s as successful at doing that when the team gets padded up and starts going full speed.
Obi Oluigbo leads Jerome Jackson
The receivers were just as good as we’d all expect. Braylon Edwards looked fantastic, snatching everything thrown his way and showing great speed and separation ability (even when there was a cushion). Breaston looked a bit bigger, but hadn’t lost any of his quickness. It looks like the staff will find even more creative ways to use him this season. There isn’t any question that he is poised to bring more excitement to the field this year. Then there was the Mr. Reliable, Jason Avant. The kid is just as steady as they come. The way he goes about playing is something everyone who watches him can appreciate. He goes hard every play, whether it’s pass or run and whether it’s thrown in his direction or not. That can rub off on his teammates. His tenacity certainly looked to be rubbing off on Carl Tabb. The Ann Arbor native looked like he could compete for fastest player on team, but what most noticeable about him today was his willingness to mix it up physically. If he continues to do that it should mean more minutes come fall.
Braylon Edwards and Steve Breaston
At tight end Tyler Ecker continued to show outstanding hands. It’s not unrealistic to expect that young man to really take a step up this year. That will certainly be a welcome development with a relatively inexperienced quarterback at the helm. Tim Massaquoi has to be one of the best athletes on the team. The kid looked even more physically imposing today (if that’s possible). It’s obvious that he takes his strength and conditioning very seriously. That has never been in question with him. The key for Tim is catching the football, and he looked much more comfortable doing that today. His potential is off the charts. If he can put it all together he could still become a very special player. The other tight end that really stood out was Kevin Murphy. What was most noticeable about him was his sheer size. The kid is just a load and looks ready to get on the field this year.
Along the line it was easy to pick out Jake Long. It was exciting to watch him and he showed why Coach Carr is so excited about his potential. The young man has excellent feet. When you couple that with his long arms and strength, he’s just a hard man to get around. Mike Kolodiej spent some time at left tackle (though that could have just been for depth reasons). His linemate, Ruben Riley, looks like a totally different kid compared to when he cam out of high school. He’s definitely a more svelte version, but the most impressive aspect of his game is still his outstanding strength. Those three players will combine to give the Wolverines excellent depth. On the inside David Bass was David Bass, and both Mark Bihl and Leo Henige looked good at center.
We’ll have more on spring practice…including a look at the defensive
side very soon.