"The face of the operation is Briatore (referred to exclusively in the film by his colleagues and angry, chanting detractors as "Flavio"), an anthropomorphic radish who spends most of his time at QPR plotting to fire all of the managers."
Spring games don't lend themselves to narratives, so how about some bullet points? Bullet points.
Media explosion. If you missed it, there's a torrent. This would be a good moment to consider how vastly different the world is now than it was five years ago. There is a torrent of Michigan's spring game.
If you don't want to bother with that, four minutes of highlights from the Big Ten Network:
Also, Brandon Minor and his sweet beard talk to Shireen Saski: "that's like a real quarterback." Other interviews:
Photo galleries exist from the Free Press, Detroit News, Ann Arbor News, and various places on flickr: user dennisdolan3, the Daily's photostream, user snotzzz73, and Alex Karpowitsch. MVictors has photos of the locker room if you skipped the Line That Never Ends. Notice the U in "honour." Weird. Also from MVictors are alumni game photos.
Pleasantries dispensed, away we go:
Most encouraging development: The general existence of Tate Forcier. Forcier chucked one pass into a linebacker's pads but other than that was worlds better than anything Michigan's seen at quarterback since Lloyd Carr rode out of the Citrus Bowl on the shoulders of his team. Forcier was as advertised: quick and scrambly in the pocket, accurate on the run, worryingly small, &c.
He's not going to be great but his slipperiness and ability to operate out of a moving pocket—which should simplify reads, mitigate whatever issues his lack of height brings, and prevent his head from being taken off—should allow him to be effective without having total command of the playbook. Early competence beckons with the possibility for more down the road.
As always, you take intrasquad scrimmages seriously at your peril, but let's discount the effect of the defense and just look at the opportunities presented:
- Roy Roundtree bursts open deep and Forcier hits him between the numbers for a touchdown.
- Roundtree works free on a slant, upon which Forcier hits him between the numbers, on time.
- Forcier throws an okay fade to Mathews, which he brings down.
There was one overthrown screen and the shoulda-been interception, but other than that he was dead on. Unofficial stats had him 11/14 for 130 or so yards. That's worlds different from last year's spring game, in which both quarterbacks threw multiple interceptions to legends like Artis Chambers and everyone started panicking in earnest about what fall would bring. Forcier's first excursion as Michigan's quarterback could not have been more reassuring.
The final word goes to Greg Mathews:
"The fans were cheering his name before the game, and I said, 'Don't get nervous, Tate,' and he said, 'I'm not nervous. There's some times he gets confused out there, but he's a high school senior. But his poise is definitely what stands out about him. His command when we huddle up, or on the sideline, he's focused in practices instead of goofing around."
A close second most encouraging development: Insert praise about Lloyd Carr here but, man, am I glad Rodriguez has done a 180 on the spring game. That felt like an event. It was fun, and though the 50k reported seemed a little generous—I and most around me thought it was 40k—it was probably about four times the number who attended Carr's last spring game. The line to see the locker room snaked all the way around Crisler and might have impeded traffic on Main.
Least encouraging development: Stevie Brown put a stake through the now annual "this is Stevie's year!" meme by getting juked out his jock by the Coner. Coner has mad flow, and since he was a 6'5" option QB with all the mobility of John Navarre in high school he must have a wicked option fake, but… yeesh, man. At least we're going into the fall with our eyes open.
A close second least encouraging development: the second-team offense, led by the aforementioned Coner, drove the field for touchdowns a couple times despite Cone amply demonstrating why anyone who talks about him starts his paragraph with "Cone is a terrific human being." They did this against the first team defense. Yerk.
This isn't totally unexpected. When the second team running backs are Grady and Brown and Vincent Smith and the second team defensive line includes 5'7", 249 pound Dominic Ware, the talent is not exactly balanced. Once Van Bergen went out with a knee injury (it's minor; six weeks and he'll be fine) the first team defense was missing four sure starters to injury (RVB, Warren, Martin, and Mouton) and using another sparingly to prevent injury (Brandon Graham), putting further pressure on that lack of depth. Said lack of depth is severe, though, and Michigan looks like it will be facing huge dropoffs from the first to second team if they can't remain unusually healthy next year.
What it is. Staying with the defense, the projection about the new scheme was that it would look like a 4-3 with a standup defensive end, and this was for the most part true. Like the spread 'n' shred they're going to look pretty limited early, what with the lack of talent and the missing starters and the new alignment, but GSimmons picked out even, under, and 3-4 fronts even this early. Also picked out: very bad linebacker play from walk-ons.
Obviously. Martavious Odoms fumbled Michigan's first punt return attempt of 2009.
Ok, Carlos, now it's time to pull a hamstring. Tantalize us one last time, Carlos Brown. For old time's sake.
I was going to fret about the defense on this play and then I was like "oh those guys are all walk-ons." So, yeah, if walk-ons play they will not be good. This lesson you have already burned into your brain, so we'll skip the rehash.
A first depth chart bitch of the year. Junior Hemingway, stuck on the second team, had ample opportunity to prove he has nice body control and hands by flagging down a number of Coner ducks. Meanwhile, Darryl Stonum made one spectacular leaping grab… and dropped a screen right in his hands. I'm betting Hemingway emerges as the #2 outside receiver early.
As long as we're on receiver depth chart stuff: Terrance Robinson was also as advertised, quick but with a significant case of the dropsies. Odoms didn't feature much, leaving much of the work in the slot to Roy Roundtree, who looked excellent, sure handed and good with his routes. His rep is as a fearless possession receiver lacking in the speed, so I don't know if we'll see a whole lot of deep seams unless he has the good fortune to be going up against walk-ons in Big Ten play, but a reliable receiver is a reliable receiver.
Also, if Roundtree doesn't already have a nickname…
Roundtree had difficulty focusing on passes this Spring because he had trouble seeing the ball. The U-M staff ordered him contact lenses, which arrived just in time for the spring game. Roy put them in and then put on a show for the Michigan faithful, making big plays and catching a handful of touchdown passes, including a big 60-yard touchdown from Forcier.
"All Spring ball my coaches have been asking me when I'll get my contacts, when I'll get my contacts," laughed Roundtree. "I got my contacts today. I couldn't see the long balls in practice, but today I saw them just fine."
…he should be "Wild Thing". Rodriguez on this impossibility:
"In the first half of the spring, he was struggling catching some balls, and then we looked at him, and he'd squint at you," Rodriguez said Saturday.
"That was the first sign, 'You'd better get your eyes checked.' The doctor said he didn't know how he was walking a straight line."
How does a guy go an entire year at Michigan before anyone realizes he can't see? This is symptomatic of the chaos that went on last year. Deeply symptomatic.
Either that or Roundtree was afraid Carson Butler would give him a wedgie and leave him hanging on a bathroom hook.
Overly-optimistic post-spring chatter. (HT: Dr. Saturday.) I didn't watch Mark Huyge enough to confirm this for myself—and, honestly, I'm an amateur who needs to go over running plays a half-dozen times before I can form an opinion on who did what right—but the general opinion on his play was hugely (HA!) positive. Even without the benefit of tape review I can say this: if Huyge has surged in front of Perry Dorrestein, who was functional last year, and the much-hyped Patrick Omameh that bodes well for his future and for Michigan's line.
With the influx of the redshirt freshmen, maturation of John Ferrara, and healthy return of Huyge there are now a lot of lottery tickets on the line and chances are the guy who lays claim to the right tackle spot is going to be pretty good, at least eventually. This is a situation more akin to Chad Henne beating out Clayton Richard and Matt Gutierrez (sort of; labrum and all that) than Nick Sheridan beating out Steven Threet and No One.
Vincent Smith, on the other hand, was pretty easy to evaluate since he's a running back. He looked small and darty, tougher to tackle than you might imagine but not an instant impact sort. Smith has flashed Mike Hart's crazy ability to defy tackling in practice; too bad he didn't have some crazy spinning run for the crowd to ooh and aw at.
Vlad Emilien is the safety taking a poor angle and trailing Carlos Brown all the way to the endzone in the video above, but, again, people seem highly encouraged by his play. I've had Michigan safety skepticism beaten into me by Angry Michigan Safety Hating God and will remain skeptical until such time as I can't anymore.
Walk-on quarterback Jack Kennedy is so obscure that he sported a regular contact jersey and was used as cannon fodder repeatedly, but… uh… he looked way better than Cone.
The incoming and signed. Denard Robinson made his way up to check out the competition:
"I came up just for the spring game," Robinson said. "I wanted to see the game and the fans and stuff. It's good. It's got me speechless."
That article has an outstandingly FAKE 40 time for Robinson: 4.38. Justin Turner, Isaiah Bell, and Brendan Gibbons also stopped by to see the festivities.
The incoming but unsigned. This will get more coverage tomorrow in Tuesday Recruitin', but the recruiting weekend was a successful one. Thumping Texas back Stephen Hopkins committed. Four star Miami offensive lineman Torrian Wilson left saying Michigan was his leader. So did FL S Marvin Robinson. Unconfirmed chatter on MI CB Dior Mathis and—surprise!—presumed Spartan and MI RB Austin White was also highly positive.
Also hanging around was another Forcier: Jason, MGoBlog's favorite backup quarterback of all time. He's graduating from Stanford and plans to enroll in grad school at Michigan. Presumably he'll try to get on the football team, but he's only got one year of eligibility left and will have to jump through—or, more accurately, create—the proper NCAA hoops if he's going to be able to participate. If you recall Ryan Mundy's immediate playing time after his fifth-year transfer to West Virginia, also recall that the NCAA immediately repealed that rule after Florida pirated one of Utah's starting cornerbacks. He'll have to apply for some super secret waiver, which I don't think he'll get.
Okay, we've got zero additional organization from the thread, but some people are bringing beverages and food and a grill, so what the hell it's a go: there will be an MGoTailgate (wsg Varsity Blue!) at approximately 9AM tomorrow. Location is in the general vicinity of the bus stop near Crisler in the Blue Lot.
I am relatively easy to spot. My hair is basically configured like this:
…so there you go. See you there.
|Scottsdale, Arizona - 6'5" 230
|Scout||4*, #8 DE, #67 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #7 WDE, #156 overall|
|ESPN||83, #4 DE, #48 overall|
|Others||#87 to Takkle.|
|Other Suitors||USC, Notre Dame, Penn State, rest of Pac-10|
|YMRMFSPA||Crab People. Also Shawn Crable.|
|Hello: Craig Roh. TomVH interview. Roundup of All Star fawning.|
|Notes||Teammate of Taylor Lewan.|
Dude check that crazy stance. Craig Roh wishes to prove the maxim about pad level's all-importance on every play. Crab defensive end is in your base, killin' your d00dz. Here he is wreaking havoc:
This may be another instance of ESPN overrating its own all star game, where Roh owned(video), and ignoring that other one, but he's Michigan's highest-rated recruit over there. Their post-All-Star take:
…a wiry and muscular defender who plays the defensive end position well. He has the frame to pack on more weight and showed on film and at the Under Armour All-America Game that size is not a serious concern. He is an excellent prospect who plays smart and uses good technique to his advantage. He has an excellent motor and is good with his hands. Roh is a disruptive pass-rusher who has a good spin move and will work a counter off of it. In a conference in which teams still like to run the ball, Roh will need to get bigger, but the kid is a fine football player; he should be able to at least contribute as a pass-rusher early on.
Craig Roh DE (Michigan)
Straight baller that showed a Dwight Freeney spin on Kelley for a sack and sacked/tackled Russel Shepard in space. Had a handful of QB pressures over the course of the game. Rich Rod got himself a good one.
Scout agrees with ESPN's extremely positive take; Rivals isn't quite as enthused but they like him pretty well just the same. A roundup post in the aftermath of the UA game collected a wide array of praise from all corners, each of them saying something similar to "needs a year in the weight room but I wouldn't want to try and stop him after that."
In addition to all that, Roh was the Arizona high school player of the year, beating out ASU commit Corey Adams and USC commit Devon Kennard. His junior year Roh racked up 99 tackles and 15.5 sacks and was first team all state; as a senior he had 14.5 sacks. Offers came from Notre Dame, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, the entire Pac-10 except, weirdly, Washington—Ty must have been working on his short game—and many, many others. Yes, USC is included in that number. Roh was a national recruit. By May, when he accepted the UA game invite, he had 32 offers.
How about a tantalizing, Feagin-esque quote?
"My strengths are my ability to read an offense. My biggest asset is my mind. I study a lot of film. My speed is also a strength. Getting off the edge is important for a defensive end.”
Do work. "Motor" is constantly mentioned when Roh's talents are discussed, by both himself and talent evaluators. Technique, effort, and natural ability fuse into one package of complete awesome. If there was a fey little South American kid around they could summon forth Captain Planet. Let an MGoBlog reader who attended one of Roh's games sum up:
Just watched Craig play a rare Thursday game against Paradise Valley, their rival in Scottsdale. Having seen the kid go gimpy two weeks earlier with a turned ankle, it was great to see his influence back here tonight. He went on both sides of the ball, usually strong side DE but played a good deal of TE on the "O" side and just barely missed grabbing a very low thrown pass that would have been a TD.
Paradise Valley was determined to stay away from Roh and it became obvious this was planned during their prep for the game.
The play that sealed Chaparral's victory was a fourth and goal from the two yard line. Craig blasted into the right side of PV's "O" line, knocking the runner backwards and popping the ball into the backfield where his Firebird teammates ended any chance of a Trojan victory.
Okay. Roh has talent, and lots of it. Where will that apply on the field? In a traditional 4-3 Roh would be a weakside end, tasked with getting to the quarterback and given relatively simple tasks against the run. In this hybrid 3-4 Greg Robinson is installing, Roh is one of the hybrids. Rodriguez doesn't expect him to get huge:
"He’s got a great motor. … He’s going to be a guy that will grow to 250-some pounds and be a great pass-rusher for us. I think he’s got an opportunity to make an immediate impact."
A 250-pound edge-rushing terror is exactly what Robinson wants at the hybrid spot. This would be much more clear if he had the good sense to call it the "Deathbacker," as commenters suggest, instead of the "spinner," but that's life.
The one hitch in this deathbacker plan: Roh has no experience dropping into zones and will require work before he can be an every-down player. He's also got that crazy crab stance and it seems like taking him out of it would make him considerably less of a threat.
That lack of experience and the weight issue—he's currently about 20 pounds short of the 250 Rodriguez would like to see him at—means he won't leap directly into the starting lineup. But I don't think it'll take long.
Why Shawn Crable? Crable was a 6'6" athletic terror with chicken legs who spent his Michigan career bouncing from DE to OLB and would have been the perfect player to slot in this spinner spot. Crable was also rated right around where Roh is. The comparison here is very tight.
Etc.: Likes Mozart and the Lord of the Rings? Maybe you'll see him at GenCon. Article on the pressure of being a top recruit. If eyebrows are any indicator of future performance he'll be a beast. Video interview at Max Preps, where even he falls into the trap of comparing himself to another white guy.
Guru Reliability: High. All Star appearance.
General Excitement Level: Very high. Roh has the guru rankings, the offers, an impressive All Star performance, the drive, and the intelligence to be an impact player. There are no red flags anywhere.
Projection: I was pretty sure Roh would function as a situational pass rusher as a freshman, but the move to this spinner thing and a hybrid 3-4 complicates matters. He should get immediate use as a situational pass rusher and could move into the starting line up by midseason. It might take longer but I don't think Evans, Watson, or Herron is going to keep him off the field for much more than a year.
The previous mailbag was, uh, abbreviated. And caused great discussion about whether I should call people who send in emails dicks, to which I respond: probably not.
Anyway. This is a good question I don't have an answer to:
After Spring practice, exactly what do the players do (supervised or unsupervised) until official fall practice begins? I know there must be some restrictions on coaching but I'm very interested to know exactly what does go on.
Thanks, Marc ' 71
I am pretty sure S&C programs can continue being S&C programs year-round, so players will get a faceful of Barwis this summer. As far as what technically-not-but-actually mandatory, organized-but-not-technically summer sessions are and what, exactly, are the things prohibited… I have no idea. Anyone out there know the details on what college programs do when practice is officially verboten? What is Tate Forcier going to be doing in June related to his football pursuits? What about Will Campbell?
I saw that you thought Forcier will only get about half a dozen carries or so/game.
Do you think the QB/Forcier will be less involved in the running game this year? Sheridan and Threet combined for 118 carries last year - about 10 a game (I didn't include Feagin's runs cause I'm assuming the reason the coaches put him in was for him to run). A lot of complaints I read about Threet was that he didn't make the correct read on the handoff and should have kept the ball some more (to keep the defensive end honest and stop him from crashing in hard on the play).
I honestly don't care how much the QB carries the ball, it just seems that Forcier only getting a half dozen carries a game would a good decrease (assuming Threet should have carried the ball more).
Well, by half a dozen carries I mean voluntary carries. A significant number of those Sheridan/Threet carries from a year ago were sacks or scrambles, which should rightly be considered passing plays.
Also, the effectiveness equation is considerably different with Forcier. Forcier who presumably can throw better than the two guys from last year and Minor—now the undisputed #1 tailback—is way more effective than McGuffie was. So it'll make more sense to throw and run tailbacks than have Forcier keep the ball.
Reading between the lines, I sense some concern that Michigan's reluctance to run their only hope will make the offense less diverse and correspondingly less effective, and I agree. Last year teams ignored the quarterback on zone read handoffs to the point where I was typing "KEEP THE BALL DAMMIT" into the Purdue liveblog after every play. Michigan's fear of the great murky unknown behind Forcier will make their offense less effective. But that's a necessary tradeoff given the cliff Michigan steps off if Forcier is injured.
I do think you'll see Michigan try to make up that decrease with Feagin/Robinson packages. Those may be completely ineffective because of their predictability, but for some reason this wildcat thing seems to work well so maybe it'll do ok.
Speaking of Robinson:
I think we’re generally missing the boat on D Rob when we compare him with TF. I’ve watched all of the highlight films and I actually think D Rob has some very good skills as a QB. I think where we’ll see a separation between the two is the run game. TF is not built to run it 10-15 a game, but he could be enough of a scrambler to constantly keep a defender assigned to him, which opens up some underneath stuff for slot ninjas, TEs, and RBs out of the backfield. D Rob does have some excellent mechanics for a guy not highly touted as a QB.
I get blasted for this, but his foot work and release remind me of Peyton Manning when he’s pressured in the pocket. No, I’m not saying he is the second coming of PM, as some said when they read my post in the diaries, but there is some good things happening with D Rob in the pocket. He sets a good base and delivers the ball with a high and crisp release. The one thing they both did consistently in their highlight films was throw balls into tight coverage, lock onto one receiver, and hold the ball way too long. I think you’ll still see that this year no matter how much they get coached up. It’s just a lot to learn when it comes to reading defenses and then being able to process that information quickly enough to be able to make the correct decision. Again, I am going to the Spring Game to see how the team looks in person, but I think we’re realistically going to be a .500 team, plus or minus a game.
All in all, by the 4th game, I think D Rob gets some significant snaps because he brings the run dimension that RR so badly needs to make this offense work.
Steve's not alone in his assessment of Robinson. ESPN also thought his QB skills were underrated:
Robinson is just a flat out playmaker in every sense of the word and he will surprise you with his production in the passing game. If he were taller, there is no doubt he would be a serious QB prospect, but his overall skills will likely land him somewhere else. Has a quick, live arm and is very effective in the short and intermediate areas of the field. Can throw the ball vertically with touch and lay the ball in, but does not have the powerful arm to drive the ball 50 yards on a consistent basis.
Add that to his rushing stats—85 carries for 462 yards, which is actually less than Forcier rushed for—and it is possible we've got a completely incorrect idea about what sort of player Robinson is going to be. But then you've got the passing stats:
Key Statistics... completed 100-of-231 passes for 1,809 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior ...
There's a big, big gap between those numbers and Forcier's. That's a 43% completion rate. I know that high school passing is often a whole lot of bombing downfield (18 yards per completion!), but those numbers say "project" to me.
I'm noticing a disturbing trend with the '07 recruits transferring at a much more alarming rate than the usual fourth-string running back bolting for a D-2 school. How do you think this will impact the team in two years or so, when most of these players like Mallett, Boren, Clemons, Horn and others would have been seniors?
For the record, transfers out of the 2007 recruiting class; Mallett, Horn, Clemons, Babb and Chambers. (JUCO Austin Panter has also departed; Boren was part of the 2006 class.) Five guys gone in two years is somewhat alarming, but you can file Horn and Babb under the "fourth string player bolting for D-II." Mallett's departure is obviously a huge negative; Clemons was highly rated but ill-suited for the spread 'n' shred; Chambers was kind of an eh recruit but was getting a significant amount of practice buzz.
But I don't think the problem with the 2007 class is the transfers as much as that it just wasn't very good. Once you got past the two five stars there were a ton of reaches: Horn, Babb, Watson, Huyge, Sagesse, Evans, Herron, Panter, Woolfolk, and Rogers were low-rated players with virtually no offers comparable to the Michigan one. Watson was pursued by Colorado and Minnesota, Herron had a Nebraska offer, Sagesse was initially ticketed for Illinois, and that's it. Picking up the occasional sleeper isn't a bad thing, but this was class with really poor depth masked by the two big stars at the top of it. And now one of those guys is gone.
Combine that with a complete change in offensive philosophy and you're going to be looking at a lot of guys who are noncontributors. Michigan's already moved Watson and Helmuth to the other side of the ball.
So, yeah, I agree with you. Michigan's 2007 class is well on its way to bust status, one of a number of factors that will see Michigan struggle to put together an elite program until probably 2011. Fortunately, it appears both offensive linemen are panning out and most of the other guys who look to be contributors (Hemingway, RVB, Webb) have redshirted, so they've got some time.
Someone tattoo this man extensively.
Massachusetts small(-ish) forward Evan Smotrycz has committed to Michigan, annoying both that guy from the mailbag yesterday and bloggers who have to spell "Smotrycz" for four years. In this, we are united. UMHoops has your googlestalking profile; this is what leapt out at me:
While Smotrycz finished with 18 points & 10 rebounds, how he got those numbers were even more impressive. He knocked down a one-dribble step-back three-pointer, went to the low block and showed a polished jump hook, got to the rim off the dribble a few times, and even rebounded in traffic.
Versatility and overall hugeness is an excellent fit for the Beilein system. Smotrycz sounds like a 6'9" version of Zach Novak. You can see where this is headed: last year's team is going to be by far the smallest of Beilein's Michigan career; in the future Michigan is going to have like one 6'3" point guard and then an assortment of 6'4"-6'9" wings and like one post on the floor. Smotrycz is going to be a very large wing sort.
Offers were not impressive, with Oregon State his biggest other than Michigan, but there was interest of unknown intensity from a half-dozen bigger schools. Despite that, scouting reports about Smotrycz sound a lot more positive than those on incoming posts Blake McLimans and Jordan Morgan.
As for the rest of the class: Michigan has two scholarships open; ideally they would fill those with Buffalo PF Will Regan—considerably more of a post than Smotrycz—and MI SF Trey Ziegler. I'm still betting that Anthony Wright is not given a fifth year (and is brought back as a grad assistant) and Michigan will have a fourth scholarship to give; that would also go to a guard sort.
Note: I've extended the number of posts listed on the message board at the request of some users. Also, the eye-burning white sidebar problem should be fixed. Lo siento.
Arriving. Incoming hockey recruit Chris Brown is Michigan's highest-ranked NHL draft prospect this year at #29 on the CSB's list of North American skaters. This corresponds to a solid second-rounder and brings with it inevitable questions about whether or not the player in question will actually play college hockey. Brown's answer:
"I signed a national letter of intent and I'm sticking to my word," Brown said. "I can't turn down an education like that and attending that school is a once in a lifetime opportunity. What happens, happens in the draft, but that'll be down the line."
There's even a bonus quote implying Brown is thinking long term:
"I'm excited to live (in Michigan for what will be) seven years, but Texas will always be home through and through," Brown said. "
A lot of kids say that and (understandably) change their minds later when someone offers them hundreds of thousands of dollars to, but there's also another class of kids with no plans on staying the full four and it's always nice to hear a well-regarded prospect falls into group A.
Making a move. Most of the discussion at tackle has focused on the upperclass duo of Ortmann and Dorrestein being pushed by redshirt freshman Patrick Omameh. A little-regarded recruit would like to say not so fast, my friend:
Question: Who has impressed you at right tackle out of the guys?
Coach Rodriguez: “It’s been a battle. Pat Omameh has been there, Perry Dorrestein has played on both sides. Schilling (has played guard and tackle) but the guy who has a pretty good spring so far is Mark Huyge. He’s a guy that’s played guard, he’s played on the left side and right side. He’s practicing like he wants to take that job. It’s going to be wide open. The competition will continue in August.
For now, Huyge's actually displaced Dorrestein and Omameh as the extremely nominal first team guy. Given how much we've heard about Omameh and Dorrestein's functional play last year I think Huyge stepping up to play with those guys is a good sign. At the very least he's turned himself into a potentially useful player and increased the chances Michigan finds a solid starting five on the line.
Huyge was the second and final member of Michigan's disastrously small OL class from two years ago, but if he steps up and establishes himself a starter that class will have an impressive track record. The other member is potential four-year starting center David Molk. Molk was a solid four-star; Huyge was a guy Michigan located at camp and offered midway through his senior season, snatching him from the MAC. Having him pan out is a bonus.
Theory: Michigan had moved to a zone running game the season in which Molk and Huyge were recruited. While Michigan's current run game is somewhat different than the DeBord-installed zone stretch, it prizes the same sort of things in its linemen: mobility, second level blocking, and quick thinking. That could be a reason they have an advantage over older linemen recruited for a different style of running.
Also broached in that Rodriguez press conference was the idea of adding a player or two before fall:
Question: Is there any chance of adding any scholarship players before the fall?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah. We signed 22, so we really have three spots that we can sign with this year’s class coming up. We’ll wait and see in the next couple of weeks or month and see if anything happens.”
I have no idea who that might be other than a late-qualifying guy who didn't sign with anyone, a la Tank Carradine, or one of the rare JUCO transfers who Michigan will admit. Chances anything comes of this are low.
BOOM. Ryan Mallett is probably going to start for Arkansas this year, and good luck with that. He's also in the running to be probably the tallest punter in NCAA history, and the guy tutoring him is a blast from the past:
Arkansas special teams coach John L. Smith has no doubts about Ryan Mallett's ability to be a college punter. "If he were not a quarterback and could spend more time working at it, he could probably be a heck of a punter, maybe even punt at the next level," Smith said.
The entire state of Michigan just gave that paragraph the middle finger.
Also, I know Petrino and Smith are homies and all, but you put your special teams in the hands of this man?
This may be more interesting than that year Arkansas had a punter who would do yoga before the snap.
Lockdown. Michigan's making the spring game a big recruiting weekend and there's a good chance a couple commits drop. One guy to keep an eye out for is TX RB Stephen Hopkins, who named Michigan his leader according to Tom and is making quite a trek to see campus. A&M, Nebraska, and a number of other Big 12 schools not named Oklahoma or Texas have offered Hopkins; he's a Minor sort.
Also—and you can file this under meaningless Facebook stuff—but a reader reports that Dior Mathis is urging folks to head out this weekend. He'll be in attendance; no one expects a commit or anything but it's trending positive with his recruitment.
Etc.: SI's Richard Deitsch, in town as a Knight Fellow, on the new AnnArbor.com thing. MVictors scores an excellent interview with Nick Sheridan; also sports a sweet new Brown Jug favicon. Michigan Stadium is amongst the sites being considered for a USA World Cup bid; commenters are skeptical the field can be wide enough.