There’s a lot that we could get into with the new offense, so I think it might be best to just go position-by-position on that side of the ball.
The two-quarterback thing needs to be nixed. Jim Harbaugh and Josh Gattis are probably trying to make Dylan McCaffrey happy by putting him on the field with Shea Patterson, but it’s a bad move. The offense isn’t in sync when both are on the field. Whoever’s behind center is late getting the play off, and then they threw an inside screen to McCaffrey, who was immediately swarmed under by big guys. Why put your lanky backup QB in a situation where he catches a ball three yards away from 250+ pound defensive linemen and linebackers?
Name: Ambry Thomas Height: 6’0″ Weight: 182 lbs. High school: Detroit (MI) King Position: Cornerback Class: Junior Jersey number: #1 Last year: I ranked Thomas #29 and said he would be a nickel corner and special teamer (LINK). He made 9 tackles, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 pass breakup; he caught 2 passes for 5 yards; and he returned 19 kickoffs for 412 yards (21.7 yards/return) and 1 touchdown. TTB Rating: 90
Thomas was a highly touted cornerback prospect who has not taken the path to excellence that many expected. Blocked by two very good corners in David Long and Lavert Hill, Thomas has spent much of the past couple seasons working on special teams or dabbling on offense. During the 2018 season, Brandon Watson had a lot of success as the third corner, too. Thomas showed flashes – such as a 99-yard kickoff return against Notre Dame in the opener – but they were somewhat rare. In the final three games of the season (Indiana, Ohio State, Florida), the only appearance on the stat sheet for Thomas came on 6 kickoff returns against Ohio State. (On a side note…that game included way too many kickoff returns.)
This was expected to be a breakout year with Long off to the NFL and Watson having graduated. Unfortunately, it has not worked out that way so far. Jim Harbaugh said Ambry Thomas was not on the 110-man roster to start August camp, and he is not practicing after dealing with colitis. He will likely be back, but when? And will he be physically capable of excelling when he does return?
Michigan has had good cornerback play since Jim Harbaugh and Mike Zordich arrived in Ann Arbor. This list was made prior to the announcement of Thomas’s afflicition, so the Wolverines will be down the #11 player right off the bat. Now the job will likely fall to Vincent Gray, a late 3-star offer from the class of 2018. Jaylen Kelly-Powell has moved from safety to corner to mitigate the loss of Thomas, but that takes the second cornerback spot from a somewhat unknown in Thomas to basically complete unknowns. Kelly-Powell and the other options (Gray, D.J. Turner II, Jalen Perry, and Gemon Green) have barely been on the field, if at all. Cornerback is probably the biggest question mark on the team.
Prediction: Starting cornerback by end of season; 15 tackles, 1 interception
The Michigan Daily says Ambry Thomas is turning into a leader (LINK).
Rivals breaks down the top NFL linebacker prospects for the draft, including Devin Bush, Jr. (LINK).
This has nothing to do with Michigan (except a mention of former DL coach Steve Stripling), but it’s a pretty interesting interview with Tennessee’s Jonathan Kongbo about the differences between Butch Jones and Jeremy Pruitt (LINK).
Also in random bits of news, here’s a Yahoo! Sports piece on Michael Sam (LINK). Yeah, I hadn’t thought about him in a few years, either.
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Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Ambry Thomas. Thomas had just 1 catch for 5 yards and had only a couple snaps on offense, but it would be nice if Michigan could put together some packages for him. He’s the #4 corner on defense right now and Michigan lacks playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, so they might as well use him on offense. Get your best athletes on the field.