Ann Arbor – All eyes of Michigan fans were … everywhere.
In a slightly under one-hour “practice” Sunday evening at Michigan Stadium, Michigan fans were able to peek behind the curtain and see the Wolverines on the eve of their first game week of the season. Michigan plays at Notre Dame on Saturday in a prime-time game.
Since Michigan did not have a spring game this year, this was the first time fans were able to see the Wolverines in person at home since the end of last season.
It’s hard to take in all the position-group drills, so of course, the quarterbacks have to get first consideration. Shea Patterson, the Ole Miss transfer who will be Michigan’s starter, led the way in quarterback drills, followed by Brandon Peters, Dylan McCaffrey and enormous freshman Joe Milton, who, from all his teammates’ accounts, has a cannon for an arm.
While quarterback is always the popular storyline, it appears in good hands with Patterson, who has 10 starts on his resume and exudes a confidence that has permeated the entire offense.
The offensive line is the absolute critical piece this puzzle and the starting group on Sunday was: Jon Runyan at left tackle, Ben Bredeson at left guard, Cesar Ruiz at center, Mike Onwenu at right guard and Juwann Bushell-Beatty at right tackle.
On the heels of Michigan’s revelation earlier in the day that receiver Tarik Black suffered a foot injury in practice on Saturday – Michigan did not offer specifics on the injury or a time frame for his recovery and return – there also was speculation that starting defensive end Rashan Gary and starting tailback Karan Higdon also suffered injuries Saturday.
Gary was in uniform but spent the majority of time watching the drills. He kept a watchful eye on freshman lineman Aidan Hutchinson and occasionally pulled him aside for conversations. Senior defensive end Chase Winovich also mostly remained out of the drills.
Higdon spent the early part of practice stretching, but then went through drills with the running backs. Higdon and Chris Evans are expected to handle the bulk of Michigan’s carries this season.
There were some players missing during practice.
Defensive back Benjamin St-Juste was not on the field, and defensive end Luiji Vilain was on the sideline but not in uniform. Fullback Jared Wangler was in shorts on the sideline.
Special teams coordinator Chris Partridge said last week he has not yet determined who will be handling the punting. Brad Robbins was not in uniform and punting. Will Hart was the first to punt.The Michigan players gathered outside the tunnel before heading to the locker room and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh led them as they sang “The Victors.”