Big Ten Newsmakers: DE-OT battles at Blue-White, budding QB battle at Michigan top spring football stories
Though Penn State’s spring game has yet to kick, most of the others around the Big Ten now have including five on Saturday. The two big ones were Michigan and Ohio State with Nebraska, Indiana and Minnesota also going on. First a little preview of what I’ll be looking for on Saturday at The Beav followed by what went on around the league — with a little hoops thrown in.
Torrence Brown (19) recovers fumble last year against Maryland.
It’s no secret that most college spring games are played at something close to three-quarter speed. They aren’t exactly like the Pro Bowl but they aren’t full-tilt games against enemy squads, either. But a couple of position open position battles with some top-end talent promise to actually be worthy of a peeled eye — the ypung defensive ends. With both graduated Garrett Sickles and Evan Schwan gone, the door is open for a maturing quintet to compete for the two starting spots — redshirt junior Torrence Brown, redshirt sophs Shareef Miller and Ryan Buchholz and redshirt freshmen Shane Simmons and Shaka Toney. Not only will they be fun to watch compete, they’ll be going up against Matt Limegrover’s ever-deeper crop of offensive linemen, many of whom have had just enough game experience to hold an edge over the raw rookies Simmons and Toney.
Shane Simmons (34) exits Lasch practice field in a file photo from last year.
You never know exactly how many snaps the front-liners will get in the Blue-White. Though James Franklin has said in prior years he looked forward to having a more competitive scrimmage for the fans, he couldn’t risk it because of depth concerns. Now the depth is looking good, but Franklin backed off his professed wish recently because too many guys have been nicked up during spring drills. So it’s anybody’s guess who we’ll see against whom. But our wish list would be soph OT Ryan Bates against Simmons, the 4-star Maryland recruit from DeMatha High. That might be fun.
Michigan safety Jordan Glasgow (29) runs past quarterback Wilton Speight (3) and defensive lineman Carlo Kemp (2) after intercepting Speight pass during the spring game at Michigan Stadium on Saturday.
As we all remember, Wilton Speight didn’t finish the 2016 season on the greatest of notes. He was gutting through a collarbone injury during the Wolverines’ last four games. He didn’t play at all against Indiana. In the other three @Iowa, @Ohio State and versus Florida State, he went 55-of-100 with 3 TDs, 4 picks and 0 completions of >30 yards – all losses.
Well, Speight didn’t have the greatest spring game yesterday, either. It was anticipated his accuracy would improve with the shoulder/collarbone healed but Speight went a ragged 9-of-26 with a pick-six and another interception for 78 yards. Chased by free rushers all day, the senior incumbent did not look good.
Michigan redshirt freshman quarterback Brandon Peters bolts for a touchdown during the Wolverines’ spring game on Saturday.
Instead, it was reshirst freshman Brandon Peters who resembled the better quarterback with a 9-of-17 day including 1 TD and 1 pick for 160 yards. Peters is a 4-star recruit from suburban Indianapolis, not as big as Speight but big enough at 6-5 and 216 and quite a bit more mobile. Peters also showed off a formidable arm with a quick release. Purely from a talent and skills standpoint, Peters is the more advanced QB right now. And he seems to have taken to even-keeled new QB coach Pep Hamilton, an old Harbaugh hand from his days at Stanford and Andrew Luck’s guru both at Stanford and with the Indianapolis Colts.