Michigan football: Nearly 50,000 appear at Jim Harbaugh’s debut


If one thing today’s (Apr. 4) spring game illustrated it was the renewed interest in Michigan football.

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Thanks to the hiring of former U-M quarterback Jim Harbaugh, some 50,000 curious football fans arrived at the Big House to

see how Harbaugh is retooling the team.

Harbaugh had his two coordinators—Tim Drevno (offense) and D.J. Durkin (defense)—hold a draft so the Blue and Maize squads would be somewhat equal in talent.

Defense ahead of offense

As is the case in many scrimmages of this type, the defense is usually ahead of the offense. The 7-0 final score showed just that—as the only quarterbacks who played looked rusty at best.

Junior Shane Morris displayed his strong but sometimes  inaccurate arm by completing 11 of 24 passes for 135 yards, including a touchdown toss to 6-4 junior Jaron Dukes.  Morris did show improvement with his touch-passes, but still threw the ball too hard at times for his receivers’ liking.

Despite throwing two interceptions, early enrollee Alex Malzone completed 15-of-27 passes  95 yards and displayed adequate pocket presence, but can definitely improve his arm strength over yhe summer. “I was pleased with the way he played,” said Harbaugh.

"“I think he’ll come out of this feeling good about the way he played, and it will build some confidence. Anything is good for [Malzone]. He is so young. He should be in high school right now, and he’s out there competing in 11-on-11 football in a game environment situation. That is valuable, valuable type of experience.”"

Redshirt freshman Wilton Speight—the only scholarship quarterback who didn’t play—was held out of the game because of a leg injury, reported 247 sports.

Morris the leader

Harbaugh said afterwards that Morris was leading the quarterback derby, but don’t forget Iowa senior transfer Jake Rudock and true freshman Zack Gentry will join the party this summer.  “If I looked at it overall, the spring ball, Shane would be ahead” Harbaugh added. “The competition will rage on, though, starting tomorrow, into April and into May, and certainly into June and July and August.”

At running back, the fans expected to see Southern Cal freshman Ty Isaac, but he limited a a single carry.  Surprisingly, Wyatt Shallman who had been a reserve fullback, carried the ball 12 times for 22 yards as a tailback. De’Veon Smith looked in mid-season form, rushing for 30 yards on the opening play and finished with 50 yards on only seven carries.

Defensively, Joe Bolden had 13 tackles during the spring game continuing his solid play from last season (102 tackles). Lawrence Marshall was impressive and earned his first sack as a Wolverine.

Michigan opens the 2015 season Thursday, Sept. 3, at Utah.