Spring Game Recaps - Week 1

<b>Michigan</b> held a somewhat closed Scrimmage/Practice.<br><br> <b>Wisconsin</b>'s Cardinal team lost to their White team 30-17.<br><br> Here's a short recap of what we learned about the <b>Wolverines</b> and <b>Badgers</b> for Fall 2003 Saturday.

Two of the Big 10's "Grind it out" teams had their spring Game/Scrimmage yesterday.
Here's a compilation of comments and observations from the various sites that cover these teams.
The Crazy Michigan weather forced the Wolverines to cancel their Spring Game.

They did hold a closed scrimmage indoors with a fair number of prospects in attendance, and Coach Lloyd Carr had some post scrimmage comments.
  • I really like the intensity our defense showed in the last week and a half.
  • We use a lot of three wide receiver sets, some four wide receiver sets in the two minutes, so you have to have depth. Your wide receivers have to rotate if you are going to have any freshness at the end of games, so you've got to have a lot of guys there. We've got some real competition there.
  • We don't have a lot of experience at tight end, but we've got a lot of competition there, and guys that I like.
  • I think the rest of that [offensive] line is solid, if you were to start today.
It appears that QB John Navarre will put his final stamp on the team and will be the big playmaker for the Wolverines. The running backs were held out to avoid injury - Chris Perry will still be #1 tailback - Fullback is up in the air.

From all I've read, Michigan will also be running some 4 and 5 WR sets [but maybe only in 2 minute drill situations] and Carr has a bunch of Freshman WR's coming August, some of whom may challenge for a role.

One of the regular observers of Michigan commented that the offense looked "sharp," and the defense looked "pretty sharp." The new defensive backfield, with former CB Marlin Jackson at safety looked "different."  Apparently the Michigan starting D also looks smaller than usual.

With Navarre and most of their offense back, Michigan should still be one of the teams to beat in the Big 10 in 2003.

The Badgers were the only team with a true Spring Game Saturday. The White team [mostly 2nd string players] defeated the Cardinal [first string 30-17, but White was given 20 points at the begining of the game. Wisconsin Coach Barry Alvarez had already announced that most of the star players would sit out the spring game to avoid the kinds of injuries that hurt the Badgers last year.

In addition, the starters only played the first quarter with a "no hit" rule, and the refs used a "quick whistle."  Nobody went all out during the entire game to avoid injuries.

The Badgers apparently did solidify their starting O-Line - Center Donovan Raiola is ready to be the leader, and tackles Morgan Davis and Mike Lorenz are ready to step in and start.

QB Jim Sorgi got picked twice during the game - but he's the solid #1. The backups won't get decided until August. Sorgi sounded disappointed that there wasn't more contact.

As we said, the starters didn't play much - yielding to the backups in the 2nd quarter. TB Anthony Davis was one such player, but the Badgers also have Dwayne Smith and Booker Stanley to evaluate and Alvarez thinks he now has 3 legit tailbacks - look for more 2 tailback sets [like in the Alamo Bowl] from the Badgers this year.

Some observers think that the Badger defense, with a really deep Linebacker Corps will be fine, but there still isn't a defineable D-Line rotation, the Badgers may only use 6 D-linemen at the start of next year instead of the 8 they're rather be able to use.

The biggest question was why the 1st team lost to the 2nd team even with 20 points...according to OC Brian White...
It's real simple. Turnovers in the red zone, not converting in the red zone, interceptions. With that said, a lot of those turnovers were very correctable turnovers."
That could be a precursor to the Wisconsin coming season this fall, then again, the coaches all know that you can work on fixing these kinds of things.

After the game, Barry Alvarez talked about how he had  found some additional kids who will step up during the season.  It appears that he feels that he's found a few, but its hard to draw any conclusions from the game stories this morning.
How it all affects the Wildcats:
With both these teams adding 4 and 5 receiver sets, you might think this plays into NU's Attacking 3-3-5 defense. Michigan is still playing around with their offensive line but we don't play them until November, plenty of time for them to get the best 5 playing in the right slots.

Coach Randy Walker has said that our guys should be able to handle the variations on the Spread, especially since our defense practices against the Spread every day.

Another thing that the 'Cats might exploit is Wisconsin's high turnover rate - NU is now playing an attacking style of defense that tries to force turnovers.  But again, we don't see the Badgers until the end of October.

If the Badgers only use 6 D-linemen, what the Cats use their hurry up offense to keep those guys on the field as long as possible.

You can read all of the stories about the Michigan and Wisconsin Spring Games by checking out Spring Practice Central...

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