Friday, August 11, 2006

2006 Season Preview: The LBs

Who are they?

David Harris (RS Senior) - he came out of nowhere last year to lead the team in tackles (88) and provide the best play at linebacker Michigan has seen in years. He showed good instincts and made a lot of plays (7 TFL, 1 sack, 2 FF, 1 FR).

Prescott Burgess (Senior) - Last year he was big and not terribly fast, but started on the outside in every game and racked up 81 tackles.

Chris Graham (Junior) - Showed good speed and athletic abililty as a part time starter last year, but an inconsistent performer (which is a common theme for this group).

Shawn Crable (RS Junior) - He's freakish combo of size (6'5") and speed (he's fast) make him a dynamic rusher off the edge. Has struggled with playing in space and shedding blockers throughout his career.

John Thompson (RS Sophomore) - Saw limited action last year, but did make a splash in the Iowa game with 8 stops including 3 TFLs.

Brandon Logan (Sophomore) - Actually got some PT as a true freshman last year, though mostly on special teams.

What to expect?

David Harris - I think you can pencil him in at MLB as the only certainty on the team. His consistent play last year was a breath of fresh air at a position that had been performing horribly for years. He's got a good combination of size and speed and, after shaking off injuries that nagged the first few years of his career, is showing a great ability to read and react to the ball. I think he is one of the best LBs in the Big Ten this year.

Shawn Crable - If they were handing out a prize for physical talent amongst the LBs, he'd win it. He came on strong at the end of the year with 6 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL, and 1 pass break up in the final 2 games against Ohio State and Nebraska. When he rushes the passer, his size and wing span have to be a very intimidating sight for the quarterback as he can bat down almost any pass and has the speed to close in a hurry. To be a consistent contributor at OLB, though, he must get better at shedding blockers and covering receivers in the open field. In the past, he has become a nonfactor when teams run right at him. I think this year he will finally make strides towards living up to his huge potential.

Prescott Burgess - For a guy that was a safety in high school, he sure looked pretty slow as an outside linebacker last year. He's a solid tackler, but I'm hoping his offseason weight loss will help make him a little more nimble on his feet. I think he holds on to a starting spot this year, but he will really be pushed by some of the more inexperienced guys.

Chris Graham - Looks like a little ball of fire in the mold of Ian Gold when he's out there, but last year he ran himself out of the play way too many times. If he can learn to play a little more under control, he could have a big season. I'd like to see him get some looks in nickel situations this year.

Guys like John Thompson and Brandon Logan will likely get some snaps this year. I do not think, however, that they will be major contributors. Next up I'll take a look at the DBs.



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