Michigan vs. Notre Dame Awards

Tag: Jehu Chesson

9Sep 2013
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Michigan vs. Notre Dame Awards

Jeremy Gallon

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Jehu Chesson. Still without a catch on the year, Chesson has been carving his niche as a destructive blocker so far. After a couple highlight-worthy blocks against Central Michigan, he had a knockdown block against the Fighting Irish on Jeremy Gallon’s 61-yard touchdown reception that sealed the score. He also shows some nice speed and looks like he really belongs on the field, despite still being a little skinny.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . the trainer. Amara Darboh’s out for the year, and within a short span on Saturday night, three guys walked off the field: Taylor Lewan, Devin Funchess, and A.J. Williams. Michigan doesn’t have the depth to weather many injuries. While all three of those guys returned in short order (Lewan didn’t miss a play because the whistle was blown for Funchess’s injury), it was nerve wracking.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . nobody. I thought Michigan did a good job of playing the best guys on Saturday night.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . Dymonte Thomas. Okay, we actually haven’t seen much of Thomas at safety up to this point, but there’s a reason I don’t like freshman safeties. Thomas’s 15-yard late-hit penalty was really frustrating, and it was just a sign of immaturity. Safety is the last position on defense where a team can afford immaturity, so I’m glad he’s a backup nickel corner right now. He’ll be good eventually.

Play of the game . . . Devin Gardner’s 61-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Gallon. Gardner play-faked to the left before rolling out to find Gallon settling into the deep middle of the field. Gallon caught the ball, made a couple guys miss, spun out of a tackle, and was helped out by Chesson’s knockdown block on his way to a touchdown.

MVP of the game . . . Jeremy Gallon. This was a tough choice between Gallon and Gardner, but I’m choosing the guy who didn’t make a disgusting, potentially disastrous turnover. Gallon had 8 catches for 184 yards and 3 touchdowns on the night, including a few catches in traffic and some nifty running after the catch.

25Jul 2013
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2013 Season Countdown: #35 Jehu Chesson

Jehu Chesson

Name: Jehu Chesson
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 193 lbs.
High school: St. Louis (MO) Ladue Horton Watkins
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #86
Last year: I ranked Chesson #47 and said he would be a backup wide receiver. He redshirted.

Chesson came to Michigan last year as a very skinny and speedy character, and Michigan has been lacking some speed at receiver for the past few years. I thought that would get him on the field at least a little bit, but classmate Amara Darboh earned those snaps while Chesson stood on the sideline. This spring he showed up on some of those spring highlight videos making diving catches and beating the defense deep, which was somewhat promising for him.

This year he’s a little bit bigger, and Roy Roundtree’s graduation means someone else has to step up. Based on Darboh’s experience, that might be the guy. But I think Chesson’s physical talents are a little more tantalizing, since he’s perhaps the fastest of the entire unit. Jeremy Gallon will be the primary deep threat, but Chesson could take on some of those deep routes and open up some things underneath for Gallon, who’s excellent after the catch. With Devin Gardner taking on the quarterback job this year, I expect that to open up the passing game a little bit and create more opportunities for someone like Chesson.

Prediction: Backup wide receiver; 12 catches, 150 yards, 1 touchdown

13Apr 2013
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Spring Game Preview: Michigan vs. Michigan

Devin Gardner

Top five things to watch for when Michigan has the ball . . . 
1. That Devin Gardner’s ACL stays intact. Michigan has already lost two players to ACL tears this spring (linebacker Jake Ryan and backup quarterback Russell Bellomy). An injury to Gardner would be catastrophic, since redshirt freshman walk-on Brian Cleary is the current backup and Shane Morris won’t arrive until June.

2. The interior offensive line. Michigan’s defensive line should be playing at a pretty high level because of the guys who return on that side, so will the three “starters” at left guard, center, and right guard get the job done?  Those three positions seem to be held by Ben Braden, Jack Miller, and Joe Burzynski currently, but there are a few players hot on their heels.

3. Who’s next at wide receiver? We know Jeremy Gallon can be an explosive player, and we know what Michigan has in Drew Dileo and Jeremy Jackson.  Redshirt freshman Jehu Chesson has made some nice plays in practice, and sophomore Amara Darboh has done the same.  At least one of those two guys needs to step up by the fall if Michigan wants to have a high-powered offense.

4. Adequate Michigan running backs. The chance that we see a stellar performance from any of the currently available running backs looks slim.  With fifth year senior Fitzgerald Toussaint out with a broken leg, the job comes down to junior Thomas Rawls, redshirt sophomore Justice Hayes, sophomore Dennis Norfleet, and redshirt freshman Drake Johnson.  Rawls and Hayes have been unimpressive in their live game action so far – although Rawls did have a long touchdown in garbage time last year – and Norfleet was mostly limited to kickoff returns last season.  Drake Johnson has earned praise from the coaches at times, but he has looked so-so in a few spring practice clips.  It would be nice to see a developing, viable option this spring, but we might have to wait until Toussaint comes back or until Derrick Green arrives on campus.

5. What does the offense look like these days? Denard Robinson is gone, and we all loved him, but now Michigan should have an actual, bona fide quarterback.  The kind of quarterback that can sit in the pocket and throw the ball without tricking the defense into thinking it might be a run.  I don’t expect Al Borges to give much away in a spring game, but we should get an inkling of the direction he wants to take the offense.  If the Pistol isn’t installed by now, I would expect to see it in the fall; I also expect a little more threat of the downfield pass this year.

Top five things to watch for when Michigan is on defense . . .
1. How does Cam Gordon look filling in for the team’s best defender?
 Cam Gordon had a pretty darn good season when he was a redshirt freshman playing free safety and linebacker, although the free safety thing was a bit of a stretch.  Since that 2010 season, he has mostly been an afterthought.  Jake Ryan was a terror of a pass rusher and made his fair share of plays against the run, too, and Michigan will have to manufacture a replacement for him.

2. Safety reps. Thomas Gordon is capable of playing both safety positions, and he’s guaranteed to start at one of them.  Sophomore Jarrod Wilson can play free safety; senior Marvin Robinson can play strong.  Which player will get the most reps?

3. First world inside linebacker problems. Michigan probably has three starter-quality inside linebackers, along with some other guys who have potential.  As I have been predicting for a while, it appears junior Desmond Morgan will be your new middle linebacker (moving over from WILL) and sophomore James Ross will step in at weakside linebacker.  Meanwhile, sophomore Joe Bolden could conceivably be a starter at inside linebacker, although he might be a little large and stiff for WILL.

4. Cornerback depth. Redshirt sophomore Blake Countess might not do much in the spring game, since he’s recovering from an ACL injury.  His replacement last year, junior Raymon Taylor, continues to fight for his job, and senior Courtney Avery appears to have abandoned the nickel corner position to compete at field corner.  Two of the three will presumably start in the fall, but the starting combo we’ll likely see in the spring game will probably be Taylor and Avery.  It will also be interesting to see if young guys Delonte Hollowell and Terry Richardson have developed.

5. Freshman early enrollees. Defensive end Taco Charlton (6’6″, 265 lbs.), cornerback Ross Douglas (5’10”, 176 lbs.), and safety Dymonte Thomas (6’2″, 187 lbs.) enrolled in January, and each one has a chance to contribute somewhere in the fall.  Charlton apparently looks the part, but his technique was rough coming out of high school; Douglas came in bigger than expected; and Thomas has been practicing some at corner and some at the nickel position, both of which are departures from what he played in high school.

12Mar 2013
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Spring Practice Preview: Offense

It’s time to see what the Inkster product can do leading Michigan’s football team.

Redshirt junior Devin Gardner is the clear front-runner for the quarterback job.  After Denard Robinson got hurt against Nebraska, Gardner started the next five games, going 75/126 for 1,219 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions.  Michigan appears to have a “franchise” type quarterback, but what will Michigan’s offense look like with him fully entrenched at the position?  Gardner is better from under center than Robinson ever was, so the I-formation stuff should be more prevalent.  He can still run the shotgun passing stuff, but he’s not a downhill runner in the same way that allowed Robinson to run for 1,000+ yards the past few seasons.
Others to watch: The only other scholarship quarterback on the roster for the spring is redshirt sophomore Russell Bellomy.

With Fitzgerald Toussaint injured, Vincent Smith off to his post-college career, and Derrick Green not arriving until summer, the pickings will be slim this spring.  This should be Michigan fans’ first chance to see redshirt freshman Drake Johnson, who earned some praise from Brady Hoke around bowl time.  He has good size and speed, but that doesn’t always translate to success.  Junior Thomas Rawls (57 carries, 242 yards, 4 touchdowns) and redshirt sophomore Justice Hayes (18 carries, 83 yards, 1 touchdown) earned some carries, but neither one did much with his opportunities.
Others to watch: Sophomore Dennis Norfleet has moved back to running back after a short stint at corner for the Outback Bowl.  Sophomore Sione Houma and redshirt sophomore Joey Kerridge will fight for the fullback spot.

In the five games that Gardner started at quarterback, fifth year senior Jeremy Gallon had 31 receptions for 511 yards and 3 touchdowns.  He looks to be the top receiver in 2013, but there’s plenty of room for others to emerge.  Two other seniors return in Drew Dileo (22 catches, 331 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Jeremy Jackson (4 catches, 31 yards), the former of which is a jack-of-all-trades, the latter a lumbering possession receiver.  Then there’s sophomore Amara Darboh, who played but was never targeted, and redshirt freshman Jehu Chesson.  Since Dileo appears to be nothing more than a complementary receiver, it would be good for Gardner and the Michigan offense to find another reliable target between Darboh and Chesson.
Others to watch: Fifth year senior walk-on Joe Reynolds (3 catches, 22 yards) worked his way into the rotation last season and has decent quickness.

Sophomore Devin Funchess (15 catches, 234 yards, 5 touchdowns) should have playing time locked up at the U-back position.  Fellow sophomore A.J. Williams is a mammoth tight end who’s more of a blocker.  The wild card in the mix is freshman Jake Butt, who enrolled early and is physically developed enough to play as a freshman.  Williams isn’t much of a target downfield, so if Gardner can work out some chemistry with Butt in the spring (and summer), Michigan should have a nice 1-2 punch of receiving tight ends between Funchess and Butt.
Others to watch: Redshirt junior Jordan Paskorz has played in just one game (on special teams against UMass) during his three seasons, and the rest of the guys on the roster are young-ish walk-ons with little experience; the best of those is redshirt junior Dylan Esterline.

The two sure starters are the bookend, fifth-year senior tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield.  Between those two will be any combination of about a dozen other players, because the three interior starters graduated.  Redshirt freshman all-everything guard Kyle Kalis will probably step in at one guard spot.  That leaves the other two spots up for grabs between redshirt sophomore Jack Miller, redshirt junior walk-on Joey Burzynski, redshirt sophomore Chris Bryant, and redshirt freshman Ben Braden; the former two will probably vie for the center spot, while the latter two will fight for the right guard position.  None of them have played extensively, and if either Bryant or Braden starts the season, it will be his first ever game experience.  In the long term, Braden will probably end up at right tackle, so you could see Schofield and Braden flip if the coaches aren’t confident in Braden’s ability to pull.
Others to watch: Redshirt freshman Erik Magnuson will have every chance to succeed Lewan at left tackle, and classmate Blake Bars has practiced at both center and guard.  Both appear to be at least a year away from playing significant time.  True freshman Kyle Bosch has apparently impressed people with his size and work in the weight room as an early enrollee, but he’s very young; if the coaches wouldn’t play Kalis as a freshman, they probably won’t play Bosch, either, unless injuries occur.  But it will still be interesting to see how Bosch fares in the glorified practice.