Top 5 Preseason Battles to Watch at Michigan
102 days and counting until kickoff between Michigan and Hawaii. Michigan is looking to gain the momentum they left off of in 2015, winning the Citrus Bowl, destroying Florida, and looking like a playoff contender. Also, Michigan has brought back many players that could have been in the NFL Draft this year. Now, with many skilled players returning, and incoming freshman to contribute to the team, Michigan is looking like a team that could rise to the top in 2016. That doesn’t mean there can’t be a battle for starting or backup positions though. This preseason will have competition at many positions, some for a starting gig, others for a backup spot. So let’s take a look at the top five battles you should watch this preseason.
The battle of all battles: Who is the next quarterback?
After the 2015 season, Jake Rudock seemed to have passed the torch to John O’Korn, the transfer quarterback from Houston. O’Korn was impressing coaches last season, rooming with Rudock and seeming to be putting his foot in the right direction to be the next starting quarterback. The spring game this year seemed to make the coaches head turn. Wilton Speight outperformed O’Korn, going 5/6 for 46 yards and a touchdown, compared to O’Korn’s 6/14 for 93 yards and a rushing touchdown. While you can say Speight threw less passes and yards, you can’t say he isn’t still in the race. Speight came in last year when Rudock went down against Minnesota, and lead the team to a game winning drive. O’Korn seems to still be the favorite right now, even after a disappointing spring game. He has more experience than Speight and seems to be a bit more athletic. Speight seems to have improved since his freshman year in 2014 though, and has a chance to push O’Korn aside, steal the torch that seemed to have been already assigned, and prove the world that he is the better quarterback. Where is Shane Morris in all of this? The “next great Michigan quarterback” will sadly be the third string and will be in that spot for his last two years of his college career. I believed Morris could have been that guy, but with many poor performances in 2013 and 2014, it just doesn’t seem that he will ever start at Michigan.
Who is the best backup?
Ty Isaac battles Drake Johnson and Kareem Walker in this competition to see who can be the best backup running back on the team. De’Veon Smith is locked up as the starting back, but behind him is a question mark. Drake Johnson was injured in a freak accident and is still out with the injury. Ty Isaac had some playing time last season before fumbling issues against Maryland and some “internal matters” had him not with the team for two weeks before returning. Kareem Walker is an incoming freshman who has already said “Oh I’m playing, but I’m not riding the bench. I came in to be ready.” He will fight for the job as well, and actually has a chance to win it. Drake Johnson has constantly been out with injuries and this freak accident, it could cost him playing time in his final year. Ty Isaac is in a year to prove himself and see if he can hold on to the ball and not have any other issues outside of football. Kareem Walker is an incoming freshman who is fighting against other running backs besides just these two. Each of the players have their own battles to take on, along with each other.
Who is the number three WR?
Last year it was Darboh, Chesson, and Perry. They were the top three wide receivers on the team, this year could be a little bit different. Drake Harris was banged up last year, not as much as in the past, but still missed playing time. Ahmir Mitchell and Dylan Crawford are also on the team now. Perry was the slot receiver and while Mitchell and Crawford don’t seem like the slot type of receiver, it doesn’t mean they can’t compete to be the number three wide receiver on the team. Perry didn’t look like a three star player in 2015. He made some mistakes at times, which humans do, but he looked like a future number one receiver at Michigan with his play. Ahmir Mitchell is a deep threat receiver, so with Michigan already having Chesson and Darboh for that, he might not be needed, but it doesn’t hurt to have many great weapons on the field. Dylan Crawford will be fighting for the number three spot, but could also be battling to not get red-shirted his freshman year. Drake Harris is the main threat for Perry. If Harris can stay healthy, he can be the number three receiver and take Perry’s job. Summer will be the real test for Harris and if he can compete with Perry and stay healthy.
Linebacker core, what happens?
Mike McCray and Ben Gedeon are looking like starters, but who else will join them? Carlo Kemp and Devin Bush Jr. are incoming freshman and will battle with Noah Furbush the most. Furbush only played in five games last year, but that is more than any other linebacker behind Gedeon, McCray and himself. Kemp is transitioning from defensive end to linebacker, so that will be something he has to deal with. If he can adjust easily, he could be a really good linebacker. Devin Bush looks to start and he did well in the spring game as well. Furbush won’t let a freshman walk in and get the gig just like that. He will fight for his chance to start and Michigan and it will be an interesting battle to watch unfold.
Battle of the big men
Rashan Gary will play at Michigan this year….right? Ryan Glasgow, Taco Charlton and Chris Wormley have three of the four defensive line spots already taken, so Gary could slide right in right? Gary will have to battle with Matt Godin, Maurice Hurst and Bryan Mone, who is coming off a injury causing him to miss all of last season. Hurst played in all 13 games last year, while Godin only played in five. Hurst will be Gary’s biggest hurdle, but don’t think Godin and Mone will be easy competition. Michigan will be losing Glasgow, Hurst and Godin in 2o17, so Michigan could be smart and let Gary rest for a year, learn a thing or two and be a clear starter in 2017 instead of just playing a few games in 2016. This could be a battle that is just between Mone, Godin and Hurst in a few months, but for now we have to assume Gary will play in 2016. If he does, we have to see if he jumps over those three and claims himself as the starter at that position for years to come.
| Brandon Knapp covers NCAAF and the University of Michigan for MyFantasySportsTalk.com |https://www.myfantasysportstalk.com/top-5-preseason-battles-to-watch-at-michigan/https://i1.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/MichiganStadium2010UConn.jpg?fit=1024%2C680&ssl=1https://i1.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/MichiganStadium2010UConn.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1AnalysisBig TenFootballNCAAFNews and UpdatesRecent Postsbattle,camp battles,devin bush,Michigan,Michigan Football,michigan noah furbush,NCAA102 days and counting until kickoff between Michigan and Hawaii. Michigan is looking to gain the momentum they left off of in 2015, winning the Citrus Bowl, destroying Florida, and looking like a playoff contender. Also, Michigan has brought back many players that could have been in the NFL...Brandon KnappBrandon KnappKnappmb@outlook.comEditorBrandon is a senior at Central Michigan University majoring in Journalism and minoring in Sports Management. He loves the Michigan Wolverines, Detroit Red Wings, Lions, Tigers and Pistons, UFC, WWE and Video Games. Follow him at @BKnappBlogs on Twitter.MyFantasySportsTalk