Spring practice with a new offensive or defensive system is always a time for optimism. Especially when you're coming off a season that was considered underwhelming.
So don't be surprised to hear a bunch of praise emanating from Ann Arbor, Mich., as Michigan learns new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier's offense this spring. And Tuesday, RB De'Veon Smith was already able to draw comparisons between Nussmeier's offense and the system that former offensive coordinator Al Borges used.
"It seems a lot more easier (to understand) than last year's offense, we're going to get used to it," sophomore running back De'Veon Smith said Tuesday. "The running schemes, they're a little bit more simple.
"Coach Borges, to me, was more of a pass first and run second (coach), I feel like coach Nussmeier (is the opposite)."
Borges was fired on Jan. 8 and Nussmeier, previously the offensive coordinator at Alabama, was quickly hired as his replacement. Michigan went 7-6 in 2013 and struggled running the football. The Wolverines were 102nd in the country running the football and as a team averaged just 3.3 yards per carry.
Alabama averaged 5.8 yards per carry last season and was 25th in the country in rushing yards.
In addition to an inside running game, RB Derrick Green also said the pass blocking calls were simpler too.
"This is a lot more downhill, that's what I like," Green said. "That's the biggest thing. He's also real fundamental with pass blocking."
Will simpler translate to better? An improved offensive line will likely have a lot to do with that. At Alabama, Nussmeier had a star-studded offensive line that dominated most opponents at the point of attack. To put it bluntly, Michigan's offensive line was less than stellar last season. Plus, that was with LT Taylor Lewan, who is projected to be an early pick in the 2014 NFL draft. Without Lewan and RT Michael Schofield, the spring's biggest task will be to find some continuity up front.
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