On Saturday afternoon, the Michigan football team took the field at Michigan Stadium for its annual spring game in front of 57,418 fans. Here are some notes and observations from throughout the day:
Final score: Maize 31-29 Blue
First quarter: Maize 14-0 Blue
The Maize team drew first blood Saturday. Peters threw the first touchdown of the day, finding junior tight end Zach Gentry wide open in the middle of the field. Gentry made junior defensive back Louis Grodman miss and took it to the end zone for a 55-yard score.
On its very next possession, the Maize team found the end zone once again. Fifth-year senior running back Ty Isaac took the handoff and ran right through a big hole on the outside for a 28-yard touchdown. Isaac had a big first half for the Maize team, rushing for 47 yards on five carries including that touchdown.
Second quarter: Maize 14-10 Blue
The Blue team finally got on the board in the second frame. After sophomore wide receiver Nate Johnson fumbled a punt, the Blue team took over from the Maize 22-yard line. Junior running back Karan Higdon made the favorable field position count, cutting through traffic for a 10-yard touchdown. Sophomore kicker Quinn Nordin made some noise as well, hitting a 48-yard yard field goal with plenty of room to spare.
Third quarter: Blue 17-14 Maize
Peters’ first mistake of the day came just after halftime, as he threw the ball straight to senior cornerback Brandon Watson. Watson took the gift all the way to the end zone for a pick-six, giving the Blue team its first lead of the game. The Maize team almost came up with a response shortly thereafter, as sophomore running back Kareem Walker found the end zone, but an illegal formation penalty negated the score.
Fourth quarter: Maize 31-29 Blue
Peters didn’t let that drive go to waste, though, when the two sides swapped ends. He scrambled into open space and rushed for a touchdown of his own to rebound from his pick-six. But just as Speight tried to answer back and give the lead back to the Blue team, junior safety Jordan Glasgow thought he put the nail in the coffin. He intercepted the red zone pass intended for sophomore wide receiver Eddie McDoom and took it 101 yards back to the opposite end zone for a pick-six. But fifth-year senior quarterback John O’Korn came in for Speight and made his moment count, finding freshman receiver Tarik Black for a touchdown off a fade to the corner of the end zone. O’Korn then attempted the two-point conversion to bring the score within three, but Hudson nailed him right before he crossed the end zone, stopping him short of the white line. The Blue team then thought it had found its game-winner with just a minute and a half left in the game, as Higdon rushed in for a touchdown to take a one-point lead. But junior kicker Kyle Seychel had the deciding moment, nailing a 31-yard field goal as time expired.
Coin toss: Mason Cole and Mike McCray served as the captains of the Maize team, while Wilton Speight and Rashan Gary served as captains of the Blue team.
Offensive line: The first-team offensive line appeared to be Mason Cole, Ben Bredeson, Patrick Kugler, Michael Onwenu and Jon Runyan Jr.. The group had mixed results. Speight faced a lot of pressure, but the front five also showcased an ability to move the opposing line — highlighted by senior running back Ty Isaac’s 28-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
Defensive side: Rashan Gary, Maurice Hurst, Bryan Mone and Chase Winovich made up the first-team defensive line. Though Winovich didn’t notch a sack, he was getting around the edge often and forcing Speight to throw the ball away.
Mike McCray and Devin Bush Jr. lined up as the starting linebackers, with Khaleke Hudson filling the VIPER position, formerly held by Jabrill Peppers. Hudson looked dangerous in the role, recording three tackles and two sacks.
Tyree Kinnel and Jordan Glasgow were the two safeties, while Benjamin St. Juste and Lavert Hill lined up at cornerback.
Special teams: Ambry Thomas and David Long were back for most kickoff returns, and the Wolverines may have found their answer at kicker too. With just over a minute left in the second quarter, sophomore Quinn Nordin nailed a 48-yard field goal and he certainly has the leg power — though he had the wind in his favor, the kick would have been good from even further away.
Quarterbacks: To no surprise, Speight lined up as the No. 1 behind center. The redshirt junior said he dropped weight in the offseason and it certainly looked like it. Speight was effective in avoiding pressure in the pocket and faced a lot of it, but he struggled to move the ball, finishing with
Sophomore Brandon Peters put forth an impressive showing. He threw a 55-yard touchdown to tight end Zach Gentry on his second throw of the day, and finished the first half 3-for-6 for 82 yards. John O’Korn backed up Speight, while Michael Sessa backed up Peters.
Tight ends: Gentry notched the big play with his 55-yard touchdown catch, but Nick Eubanks looked smooth at tight end throughout the day, as the sophomore had a clear connection with Peters.
Injury notes: With 2:05 left in the third quarter, the Wolverines had to deal with a scary moment when Runyan went down on the field. It appeared that Runyan was in a lot of pain and that the staff was looking at his left leg, but he was able to walk off the field without assistance. And Michigan was forced to accept a sour ending to the day as well. After fifth-year senior quarterback John O’Korn connected with Eddie McDoom on a deep pass in the final two minutes of the game, the sophomore receiver went down on the right hash marks. McDoom needed to be helped off the field and didn’t appear to be able to put pressure on his left leg at all. He was eventually carted off the field.
Sidelined: Junior quarterback Alex Malzone, senior wide receiver Drake Harris, freshman safety J’Marick Woods and freshman offensive tackle Ja’Raymond Hall did not dress for the spring game.