Ann Arbor — Former Michigan quarterback Brian Griese wants to bring a little of his world to ESPN viewers when he works as an analyst for the network’s noon college football games and also during his Thursday night studio-show appearances.
Griese, who recently moved from the broadcast team on ESPNU, is especially interested in teaching the game from in-studio. During the show that leads into the Thursday night games, Griese, Mark May and Scott Van Pelt will preview the weekend’s top four or five games.
“I’m going to use game film to illustrate what the keys are to look for,” Griesesaid in a telephone interview.”That will be fun for me. I like teaching people about the game.”
Griese, who led Michigan to an unbeaten 1997 season and national championship and then played in the NFL, hopes to exercise his game knowledge from years and years of digesting game film as a player..
“That’s where I like to live,” Griese said of being a student of football film breakdown. “From people I talk to, there’s an insatiable appetite to understand the nuances of football. I don’t think there’s any better way to understand the game than to watch it, but to watch it in a way that’s informed. I want to give people things to watch for that maybe they wouldn’t have known to look for, and look at it from an insider’s perspective. I want them to watch and at the end hopefully say, ‘Brian alerted me to this, and that’s what happened in the game.’”
Of course, among the top games of the first weekend is Michigan facing defending national champion Alabama in the Cowboys Classic on Sept. 1.
Griese has been studying film heading into that game, and believes the key for the Wolverines will be up front offensively.
“The first game is always a little bit of guessing game,” Griese said. “With respect to Michigan, they lost a couple guys on the offensive line, but to me that’s a real strength of theirs. There’s lot talk about Denard (Robinson) and Fitz (Toussaint) and the skill positions, but that offensive line has always been a constant.
“If they’re going to compete and win that game, the offensive line has to take ownership of that game. You don’t want to leave your defense on the field any longer than you have to. They have to control the clock and run the, get to the linebackers, and create seams. They have to control the tempo and protect the defense.”
Michigan has replaced center David Molk, last year’s Rimington Trophy winner, with Ricky Barnum., and a competition remains in camp at left guard with Joey Burzynski, Elliott Mealer and freshman Kyle Kalis all candidates.
“They threw a guy by the name of Steve Hutchinson in as a freshman (at guard) — he did a pretty good job,” Griese said, laughing about his former Michigan teammate. “They’ve got some depth there on the offensive line. I don’t think that offensive line is going to be outmatched.”
Michael Schofield moved from left guard to right tackle this season, and Patrick Omameh, a fifth-year senior, is at right guard.
“Omameh is a big cog for them,” Griese said.
Of course he is more than aware how good Alabama’s defense was a year ago and is expected to be this season.
“Last year, Alabama’s defensive line outmatched most offensive lines,” Griese said. “And they have more in reserve. They are a unique team. They lost outstanding players like (All-American linebacker) Courtney Upshaw, but they’re going to be a top-five defense at the end of the year.
“My guess is Nick Saban will have them ready to play.”
Griese also thinks Michigan senior quarterback Denard Robinson is ready for a big season.
“Can he get better? Sure,” Griese said. “He’s a dynamic player, probably the most dynamic player in college football. But he can get better. What does that tell you? Denard will approach this season like that.
“It won’t be, ‘What have I accomplished? Hey, maybe I can win the Heisman.’ He will approach this season as, ‘How can I be a better quarterback for Michigan?’ The sky’s the limit for him. If he’s working on his footwork in the pocket and reading defenses, that will separate him, and it will be a special year. If he hasn’t (worked on those things), we’ll see the Denard from the last three years who was a game-changer, but someone who has occasionally made mistakes.”