Final Spring Practice Notes: The Offense

The 1st teamers didn't particpate in the scrimmage portion of Saturday's practice but there was still a lot to be encouraged by. Standout performances by LaTerryal Savoy and Carlos Brown were the offensive bright spots on the day.

It was a mixed performance from this bunch Saturday. A lot of the fans in attendance did not appear happy with Chad Henne. While he did not have his best day, there were some definitely some positives to take out of this. His decision making was good. He threw a lot of short passes and dump-offs, and was taking what the defense gave him. He did not force the ball too much, and pulled the ball down when things weren’t open. That was obviously frustrating to fans at a spring game hoping to see passes flying. However, from a football perspective, he was doing what he was supposed to do. His accuracy, though, was another story.

Henne on the scramble
Henne's throws were inconsistent and he did not show a lot of touch on his passes. He rifled every pass he threw Saturday. It is important to mention that we did not get to see Chad in full 11-on-11 scrimmaging. That would have allowed for a much better evaluation.

Jason Forcier showed good mobility and it was used on a few rollouts. He placed his passes very well, but there is a noticeable drop-off in arm strength between him and Henne. He was good over the middle, but struggled on the outs. His outs took a while to get to their target, which could mean trouble against quicker Big 10 corners. A few were others sailed high on him and were the type of passes that would leave his receivers vulnerable in a real game. That being said, the word this spring is he has made good progress, and he is the clear #2 man.

Jeff Kastl had some moments, but he is clearly the number three man right now. In total, it was an up and down day for the signal callers, but no reason to hit the panic button just yet.

Running Backs
Neither Kevin Grady nor Mike Hart saw a lot of action today. Grady did not a little faster in pass catching drills, but we didn’t get to see him carry the ball much. Hart was used very sparingly and did not see any action in scrimmages. Mister Simpson, who many thought would be a fullback, was playing at tailback. He saw a few carries, but it was tough to tell what he could do since

Carlos Brown runs through the defense for the longest TD of the day.
the penetration from the defensive line was strong on his carries. The most intriguing player was freshman Carlos Brown. Though Brown has been experimented with on defense, it is clear from his high school film and today’s practice that he should (and probably will) be an offensive player. He was the fastest of the running backs and it is not just breakaway speed. He has a quick burst and good wiggle in the hole. With Antonio Bass injured, Brown also took over as the gadget man.

A former high school quarterback, Brown saw time as the signal caller in the shotgun Saturday. He was used on the same sweep and draw plays Bass ran last fall. Though his appearances were brief today, he showed flashes and it appears as though Michigan fans have a lot to be excited about.

Alijah Bradley saw a few carries and made the play of the day in a pass receiving drill where he dove and made a full extension grab.

It was tough to tell much from the fullbacks. None of them carried the ball and were only thrown to on a few short passes.

Wide Receivers
As was mentioned in the quarterbacking breakdown, the passes were short, so it was tough to see what this group could really do. Neither Mario Manningham nor Steve Breaston were given opportunities to shine today, (although both caught the ball well in drills).

LaTerryal Savoy
Adrian Arrington caught the ball very well in his first appearance in front of the fans in a year.

Doug Dutch had some struggles Saturday. Part of that was due to a couple errant throws, but he did not catch the ball nearly as well as he did in last year’s spring practice.

The most visible receiver out there Saturday was LaTerryal Savoy. He has great size and used it well to shield defenders from the ball on a couple routes. He had a couple tough grabs away from and behind his body, and showed toughness going over the middle as well. He appears to be a dependable target and his performance Saturday was very encouraging.

Tight Ends
A few sets had the tight ends split out today. Both Mike Massey and Carson Butler saw time split out off the line. Butler looks athletic, but did drop a hitch that hit him right in the hands today. He made up for it with a nice grab later on. Neither Massey nor Tyler Ecker saw too many passes come their way.

Offensive Line

The defensive line really won the battle of the lines today. The offensive line gave up some penetration on run plays and did not protect the passer consistently. Rueben Riley will be the starter as right tackle as Carr stated earlier this week. Alex Mitchell started at the other guard spot, but needs to get quicker. Freshman Justin Boren took part today and though he played tackle in high school, he lined up at guard today and that appears to be the best spot for him in college. Jake Long looked healthy, and certainly more agile, but all in all, it was tough to get a good read on this group today.

Stay Tuned for much more from spring practice including a defensive recap, player interview, photo galleries, audio, and video.

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