Thursday, December 5, 2013
Michigan's pre-bowl game to-do list
By Chantel Jennings
The Wolverines will find out which bowl they’re headed to soon enough. But even without knowing the opponent, there’s plenty Michigan can fix internally and look to improve upon. Here’s a list of to-do's for the Wolverines to hit over the next few weeks.
1. Get healthy.Devin Gardner has taken a beating this season. Between a knee brace midway through the season, a walking boot on his left foot following the Ohio State game and the general tackle-fest that occurred on his body through the season, he’ll need to relish in these weeks to really get back to his usual self. On top of that, Brendan Gibbons needs to recover from his groin injury, and James Ross III needs to get back to 100-percent. Really, after that much football, no player on the team is 100 percent so each guy needs to get into rehab until the bowl game.
Derrick Green had only 40 carries through nine games but carried 42 times in the final three games.
2. Forget about the regular season. It might not be the game the Wolverines wanted, but it’s a brand new season and Michigan has the chance to go 1-0. They can’t get the Ohio State, Michigan State or Penn State games back. Look ahead only. It’s a young team and it needs to avoid distractions, and past games sometimes can be major distractions.
3. Work on “fundamentals and techniques.” Not sure how many times we heard it this season, but this tagline never really hit home all the way for the guys. Even before the Ohio State game, coaches were saying they couldn’t get all 11 on the field to play together on every down. So a 7-5 season shouldn’t really be that disappointing when the Wolverines were playing 9-vs-11 or 10-vs-11 football at points, should it? But in a bowl game, they need to figure out how to get every player on the same page.
4. Grow chemistry on the offensive line. Now that Michigan has established these five are in fact the best five, the Wolverines need to stick with them and allow them to grow for the next few weeks. With their growth will come major strides for the offense as a whole. So if this group can live, breathe and dream football as a unit, it has a chance to improve upon its impressive performance against Ohio State and really give the Michigan offense a chance in whichever matchup.
5. Get Derrick Green reps. Michigan didn’t turn to Green until late in the season, so he didn’t get a ton of experience. In total, the freshman carried the ball 82 times for 265 yards (3.2 yards per carry). However, the Wolverines didn’t turn to him as the lead back until far too late in the season and because of it, he’s now behind in his development. The Wolverines need to try and get him as many reps against first-team defensive linemen and linebackers as possible. No matter what team Michigan plays, they’ll need Green to show up. He needs this month to make sure he can show up.