Michigan Football: Spring Game Analysis of the Receivers
Many seemed unconcerned that Michigan lost three pro level receivers- that is a giant miscalculation. It took Darboh and Chesson between two and three years to become assets in their total game. Indeed, the energy behind the new recruits was intense and the expectations became immediate. Peoples-Jones only caught a couple of balls and like any other talented freshman, he needs months not days to show improvement and a grasp of the system. He needs to master toughness and gain strength. Having said that, we ain’t throwing that fish back.
Many of you probably know we have always liked Tarik Black and Saturday did nothing to change the mindset. Tarik is big, pretty smooth, decent moves, but he seems to just like to get the ball, either by getting open or using a good size body. Tarik started out slow Saturday and got punched and smacked around by the young defensive backs. iI looked like he may turn passive, but as the game wore on, this guy got tougher and competed. Tarik is a clear candidate to see playing time, even with the crowd at receiver.
No one else really stood out. There were moments where the lesser known made a couple of good plays. The receivers need to go to nasty school, starting with the ability not to get pushed around at the line of scrimmage. The route running was tentative and probably not near what Pep wanted. Any judgement is inference only since we do not exactly know what Pep wants. One guarantee, Coach Pep did not get what he wanted, expected, or needed. This group has much work to do.
There is deserved concern about the slot position. Harris is on the end of a tentative string, Perry is in the big crapper, and the young guys have their own shortcomings. Eddie McDoom struggled to catch the ball and run routes, both during warm-ups and in the game. It is easy to see why he was a jet sweep only option last year. This is surprising since his high school highlight film showed more than he has produced. Eddie makes his best effort of the game late and ends up hurt.
Kekoa Crawford looks smooth; he is to receivers as Issac is to running backs. There needs to be more intensity and improvement. Oliver Martin is months away as is Nico Collins. Oliver seems to be the best bet to grab on to a shot at slot.
Now, as for me, I would gamble and put Evans at slot for about 10-15 plays a game. He is the same speed as Eddie but with better agility. The danger is getting him beat up on drags or in-cuts. Evans has a clear future as a high level back and the natural inclination is not to break what is not broken.
But, a three, four, or five wideout system is almost impotent without a clear go to guy in the slot(s). Right now, the entire receiving corps is an early work in progress. A good team can afford developing one promising player and mixing him with veterans. Having four of five wideouts with little experience is a rough way to go. But it is what it is, and quick growth is not now a luxury, instead it is a necessity.
If this new semi-spread breaks down the obvious choice is going back to a few tight ends with experience and waiting on development. This unfortunately is a situation that most of Michigan’s position groups face.
The one shining light is a group of coaches who know what they have and accentuate the positive through work and performance improvement. The variable that is the wild card is the speed of development. Again, this development is hindered when most of the team fits this description or being in the cookie oven baking. There are cookie monsters awaiting with talent and experience.