Monday, March 06, 2006

Pre-SP 2006 questions

Spring Practice will undoubtedly shed more light on most questions but until then here is my stab at what the main questions for the 2006 season will be:

In order:
1) What kind of defense will English run?
There are top-level questions such as will English have free reign or will he just assume the same yoke that Hermann had. We won't know until Sep but until then the question is, will it be a 3-4, 4-3, 4-2-5, etc? If we run a 3-4/4-3 then the biggest question is the Jamison question. If for some reason we see a 4-2-5 then there are too many questions to go through on a simple blog.

2) Who's center?
Most offensive questions stem from this simple question. If it's Kraus then most likely Riley and Mitchell are the Guards. If it's Bihl then the O-line should look like Kolo-Riley-Bihl-Kraus-Long. There has been talk about Ortmann displacing Kolo but I have to believe in Kolo securing the LT spot. At this point without firm answers to who's center the only lock on the O-line is Long at RT.

3) Jamison
Will Jamison start? To me this is the question that will make or break the defense. UofM w/out Jamison = cross your fingers. With his teleporting powers (and yes, the ability to stop the run) at WDE then the front 4 should be very strong. So it's either Jamison-Johnson/Taylor-Branch-Woodley or Woodley-Johnson/Taylor-Branch-?. Sure we've got 2 seniors (JVA/Biggs) on the SDE spot that could work out great but leaving Jamison's talents off the field will just detract from the defense's potential. Period.

4.1) Linebackers?
This is a multiple part question. First, will the linebackers that need to step up step up? Burgess projects as a starter alongside Harris as the only real locks even (I think) if we run the 4-2-5 option. Burgess needs to a) understand contain and b) keep contain at all times this year to really step in and be the player that folks hoped he would be last year. After Burgess the big question is Thompson/Graham? I think that one speaks for itself.
Either way you have to hope that the 2 changes (1=English, 2=Szabo) and the fact that all LB's are returning equals improvement. I'm sure many UofM pundits will be Tevo'ing their play excessively after the 1st 2 games trying to see if we have a shot at containing Darius Walker.

4.2) FS/SS
Well, it really doesn't matter but after reading Avant's quotes on Barringer I'm hopeful that he can come back healthy and really anchor the defense. After that it's a toss up between Englemon and Adams for the SS spot with Englemon possibly having the upper hand.

4.3) Wide Receivers after Breaston
Does it really matter? Manningham and Arrington are probably the fav's with Bass easily in the mix as well. Bass might play more as a specialty player with Breaston and MM/AA starting. Though, does it really matter with the depth at WR? Tabb is a senior this year and played well in 2005. Dutch hopefully will add to the deep threat potential of the offense and Savoy could be a clutch 'hands' freshman with almost BraylonEdwards size.

4.4) 2nd corner and Nickel
Hall is a lock and after him Trent is the favorite to secure the 2nd CB spot barring injury. Nickel currently looks to be between Sears, Stewart, and Richards with Hood thrown in there for folks who are optimistic. Actually, Harrison could fit in but this blog is going to assume that he will focus on FS. My current $$$ is on Sears as the Nickel with Harrison/Adams possibly helping out as the Dime DB when necessary.

5) Who starts at DT next to Branch
Does it matter? Johnson and Taylor will undoubtedly play a lot of minutes in 2006 barring injury. I'm anxious to see what McKinney can bring to the table as well. Actually, upon reflection, this question probably is more along the lines of 'Will Slocum qualify and add to the DT depth?'

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