I did not make this headline up
After a little time to digest it all, here are important notes from the postgame press conference.
- David Molk suffered a potentially serious foot injury, and Rodriguez hopes it's not broken. If he's out, Moosman and Khoury will step in at the center position. Tate's injury was just bruised ribs, and he should be fine. Rodriguez didn't say it was anything serious in the press conference, but I saw Mike Williams wearing a walking boot outside Crisler Arena after the game. Sitting Minor was precautionary, because he's still sore.
- Rodriguez seems pretty angry about the Mouton suspension. The worst part: the team wasn't informed until after practice Thursday, which means they didn't even get to practice with the backups in the game. That's inexcusable by the Big Ten, IME. Rodriguez plans to make sure the Big Ten is equally diligent for the rest of the season in suspending players from every team around the conference. He specifically mentioned something that happened at the end of an early game yesterday when a Purdue lineman went after an NIU player with an elbow.
- The team only had 2 penalties for 20 yards in the game, a major improvement to this point. RR implied that he thought one of them wasn't a great call (I'm going to go out on a limb and say the Cissoko PI), and wasn't happy about it.
- Coach Rodriguez and Brandon Graham both said they don't want Michigan to be a second-half team, but rather a 4-quarter team. However, it's not surprising with their conditioning that they can wear teams out in the second half.
- Kevin Leach and Brandon Graham both said there weren't many schematic changes at halftime, but rather an emphasis on players sticking to their gaps and executing their assignments.
- Craig Roh said he didn't have to think about his interception - he just reacted and came down with the ball.
- When asked if he really likes running into the South endzone, Denard Robinson had the quote of the day: "I think I had one going this way, too." Rodriguez emphasized that Robinson is a passing threat, and Robinson said his picks were mental mistakes, a result of inexperience.
- Carlos Brown said it feels good to be healthy, and noted that he ran for more yards in the first half yesterday than he did for all of last year.
[Editor's note: here's the obvious cheapshot by the Purdue player:
You made this bed, Jim Delany, and now it's time to lie in it.]
- About 28 players played their first game in a Michigan uniform. A lot of them had meaningful (early-game) action on special teams. The QBs and Craig Roh (in a year, he'll be up around 250 pounds, and faster than he is now) were singled out as some of the young guys who played very well.
- The offense wasn't that bad in the second half. In the third quarter, they only had two drives, one of which had a touchdown called back for a penalty. In the fourth quarter, the offense went to chew-clock mode for much of the time.
- There were a few missed assignments both on offense and defense, but a lot of that can be attributed to first-game jitters. Rodriguez didn't want to call out his players on the long Western touchdown. It was typical first-game nerves.
- All three quarterbacks will continue to play for the next several weeks, but Tate will get the start again next week. It's not fair to compare the freshman QBs, both because they're a little different in terms of skill set, but also because Tate has had 9 extra months in the system - and has about 70% of the playbook at his disposal. Denard is not just a runner, but "He ran really fast."
- Hemingway should be good to go Saturday, Same with Moundros and Boubacar. Minor looked pretty good in pregame, but they still held him out and hope he'll be able to go Saturday. All of those injured players will be a little limited in contact drills this week. Rodriguez is going to implement a weekly injury report for the team, released on Thursdays. He would like to make this a league-wide policy.
- Carlos Brown will start Saturday unless he has a bad week of practice. "We thought he ran well, he caught the ball well, and he really protected well."
- Offensive player of the game: Junior Hemingway. Defensive player of the game: Obi Ezeh and Stevie Brown. Special Teams player of the game: Zoltan Mesko.
- The QBs carried more times (21) than Rodriguez would like in an average game. Some of that was getting Denard in there and getting him comfortable. However, Rodriguez doesn't mind his QB running if nothing's open downfield. The quarterback's 4th read on passing plays should usually be to run.
- Nevada was a top offense last year, so for Notre Dame to shut them out was impressive.
- Both teams being good increases the national tone of this week's contest: "I would hope. Michigan-Notre Dame is always going to have a national tone. It's one of the greatest rivalries there are."
- To beat Notre Dame, Michigan will have to pressure Clausen. He's too good to give him a lot of time, and has some really good targets in Tate and Floyd. Brandon Graham will be double-teamed a lot, because Notre Dame likes to max-protect.
- Adrian Witty will not attend Michigan this semester. The coaches will continue to re-recruit him for the winter or next fall.
- Schilling watched film yesterday on his day off from practice. The offensive line played a lot more physical than last year (which is something Frey emphasizes). There were many more knockdowns than in any game last year. It was nice to move the ball for first downs and touchdowns, which was hard last year.
- Craig Roh is one of the quickest D-Ends Steve has ever seen. When he gets bigger and stronger, he'll be a really good player.
- All 3 QBs are different, which forces opposing defenses to prepare for more things. Tate's a leader, and acts like he's not a freshman although he's been here only 0 months. Denard's a little quieter, but he's still just learning.
- The team has to be grounded after the win. Notre Dame is ranked, and although Western will contend for the Mac title, the Irish present a bigger opportunity to make a statement.
- Tate is young, but he's going to be a great leader. Even if the seniors disagree with him in the huddle, they'll get something worked out.
- It's good to start the year injury free, and he hopes to stay that way.
- If the offense is clicking, Carlos doesn't care whether he gets 1 carry or 20 carries. One of the great things about the college game is that there are multiple capable backs that can step in for each other.
- "We're going to be prepared for Notre Dame."
- The defense made a statement against Western by playing hard, fast, and aggressive. In the first game, it's nice to be able to be aggressive with open field tackles.
- The Notre Dame game will set the tone for the whole season. The team owes the Irish after what happened last year.
- Notre Dame likes to use play action to go deep. Donovan's looking forward to the challenge, and like the opportunity to prove himself against the best. The defense needs top be aggressive on every snap to make Notre Dame's day harder. They'll disguise coverages, but that depends on everybody knowing where the help is coming from and where the defense's weaknesses are.
- He'll get in guy's faces on the other team and play tough coverage on every snap. He didn't think the pass interference calls against him on Saturday were legit - but every defensive back usually feels the same.
- Tate's enrolling early helped get him the experience he needed to start fast. "He knows that we have his back, and we know that he has ours."
- The ankle that's injured is the same one that he hurt last year. He's glad he ended up getting a medical redshirt, because otherwise it would have been a lost year. It was tough not being on the travel squad, and having to text his teammates before the game, and watch on TV.
- "I'll be ready to go on Saturday."
- The receivers have the mindset that they can win every battle on the perimeter. The offense has to make sure they know their assignments on every play.
- "Got to be out there ready to play when we play Notre Dame."
Note: video from last year is lightboxed; previous years will take you off the page.
Rating: 5 of 5.
|Brandon Minor||Sr.||Mark Moundros||Jr.*|
|Carlos Brown||Sr.||Kevin Grady||Sr.|
|Mike Shaw||So.||Anonymous Walk-on||----|
|Mike Cox||Fr.*||Anonymous Walk-on||----|
|UW veer TD|
|Used as H-back|
|PSU TD #1|
|More PU RAGE|
It's no coincidence that Michigan's running game took a quantum leap forward when Brandon Minor was installed as the starter against Penn State and told to run very hard in one direction until the gore covering everything proved too slippery to get a foothold on. MINOR RAGE was born in a shocking first half against Penn State and all other options were instantly demoted to second-best. Gone was the preseason depth chart that featured a whopping three "OR" denotations. When healthy, Minor was the guy. It was obvious from his first drive against the Nittany Lions. It was obvious from his first thumping run:
After weeks of watching a couple freshmen zip into linebackers or, more often, linemen and then attempt not to get killed, Minor blasted into the secondary and left one of Penn State's safeties in a heap. Debate: over.
So what the hell took so long? Well, Sam McGuffie did flash hints of talent, most impressively against Notre Dame, before opponents figured out that you could just murder his brain. Minor, battling a wrist injury all year, put the ball on the ground with alarming regularity when he got the odd carry early in the season. And there were persistent rumors that Minor found himself amongst the discontented masses on the team that did not fully buy in. (Yes, this which makes Minor's post-season callout of any lingering Zion Babbs a bit odd, but it is what it is.)
Also, Minor hadn't been that impressive in his first two years at Michigan. This preview last year noted the gap in YPC between Minor and Carlos Brown—one that persisted even if you chopped down Brown's 85-yard ramble against Minnesota to something more reasonable—and came down on the skeptical side of things:
Minor runs too upright and stiff for my tastes. He's clearly slower than Brown and the fleet freshmen, has little wiggle, and tends to plow over and through defenders instead of trying to avoid them. Sometimes this ends with Minor spectacularly trucking someone; sometimes it ends with Minor taking a wicked shot from a headhunting linebacker or safety. …
IMO, he gets his fair share of carries throughout the year but is clearly less effective than at least one other tailback and possibly two.
This prediction looked bang on for six games, at which point Minor's projected best case—a poor man's Darren McFadden—sort of came true, didn't it? Minor's not going to go in the top ten of the NFL draft but he had his moments of thunderous downhill stomping, slashing through holes and over and through and past out-of-position defenders. He was one of the few players to seem a physical match for Penn State and Ohio State defenders and should improve further with a year of buy-in and Barwis. Evan Royster may be an obvious selection for All Big Ten tailback this year, but they put two on the team and from this vantage point Minor's as likely as anyone to claim that second spot.
There is a caveat, though: if healthy. I may have been wrong about Minor's overall efficacy but the ominous injury note above was borne out. Minor's early fumbling problems were caused by a wrist issue that lingered through the year and he missed the Northwestern game not with any specific issue but just because he had gotten the hell beaten out of him the past few games. Minor missed sections of camp after an offseason car crash left him with persistent headaches. Asking him to be a Ringer-level workhorse is a bit much.
|Loping vs Purdue|
|Tripping over Leman|
|Nice first down|
Meanwhile, the man this preview thought would claim the starting mantle, albeit nominally, came down with the usual array of nagging ailments from hamstrings to hangnails to exploding penguins. Carlos Brown hardly found the field all year. In fact, he was en route to a medical redshirt before Minor came down with that comprehensive ass-kickage and he was brought out of mothballs to play in the most unpleasant game ever staged. Despite the rust, wholesale lack of a passing game, and driving sleet, Brown impressed, racking up 115 yards on 23 carries—five per—with a long of only 17 against Northwestern's fair-to-good rushing defense.
Carlos Brown, this is your abridged Northwestern UFR:
Brown splits them and is a safety away from six points. … I really wish Brown didn't go down so easily on this one; with Mathews blocking downfield a cut outside might make this a touchdown. … Brown runs through the flailing arms and is away for a good gain. … Brown splits the two linebackers, then jukes a safety(+1), picking up the extra five yards he needs for the first. … should try to bounce it all the way back behind Sheridan—Steve Slaton used to do that to good effect—but instead just runs into a bunch of dudes. … makes a sweet spin move to evade the rolled up corner and safety. Free of those two, he picks up the first down. Major + play from Brown here. … Brown is indecisive with the safety and gets taken down. [Ed. Note: after ten yards.] … Here's the season for you: Michigan runs against what's essentially a five man front, gets a vast gaping hole and will pop Brown into the secondary for somewhere between eight and a zillion yards, and Brown falls harmlessly to the turf three yards in the backfield.
Carlos Brown got out of the grave and turned in an excellent running day, though a series of slips and stumbles prevented him from breaking a long one, and that last zone stretch on which he turned a likely first down into third and thirteen was a killer.
That's consistent move-the-chains production from a guy we know has gamebreaking speed. Combine the two and you might have something resembling the top-50 player Brown was coming out of high school.
That's the trick though, that and not having a series of freak hand, ankle, groin, hamstring, thigh, spleen, and pancreas injuries that limit him to one 85-yard touchdown against Minnesota and a lot of dour, beslinged observation from the sideline. There's no time like the present for Brown to live up to the extensive recruiting hype and occasional 80-yard touchdown—he had another one in the spring game.
If Brown is healthy and if Minor is healthy at the same time, expect to see a heavy dose of two-tailback sets that allow Michigan to zone read in either direction, run plenty of triple option, and prevent opponents from teeing off towards one side or the other. Rivals actually ranked Minor as a fullback coming out of high school and last year Minor's occasional deployment as a lead blocker was effective, as this Michigan State defensive end can attest:
Unless, of course, he's still wondering why his legs are made of eels and the sky smells so prickly.
Backups And Whatnot
|Season's first TD|
|Gets tackled oddly|
With Sam McGuffie wisely choosing his ability to remember where he lives and Conference USA over a sophomore season at Michigan, Michael Shaw is other experienced option on the depth chart. Last year he did his best Brown impression, alternating impressive, zippy runs with groin injuries. He added some bonus freshman stuff, too: the occasional horrible decision that ended in a seven yard loss or fumble, either of which events ended with Rodriguez spittle arcing across the field.
Like Denard Robinson, Shaw is made of dilithium, the winner of the 200, 4x100, and 4x200 at the Penn Relays his senior year of high school and a guy who was shocked when someone, anyone managed to track him down from behind once he broke into the open field:
"I broke a long run and got dragged from behind. It was then that I was like, 'I'm really hurting. I've never not been able to run, not been able to explode.' "
There was good reason for the slowdown, a groin injury that would eventually require offseason surgery for a "sports hernia." If Angry Michigan Running Back Hating God doesn't get involved again, Shaw should see extensive work as a slot-capable tailback on passing downs and all-purpose injury/fatigue backup as he's groomed for the (or, more likely, a) starting job in 2010. Somewhere between 50 and 100 carries at a high YPC and one or two runs where he goes so fast he mutates into a frog-like thing and everyone pretends it didn't happen afterwards would be a tantalizing sophomore year.
Past Shaw there's a cavalcade of freshmen in two groups. Group one—pounding Minor sorts—is Mike Cox. Cox is a redshirt freshman out of a New England prep school better known for producing hockey stars than football players. They only play nine game seasons; Cox was hurt for most of his senior year; no one scouted him before that because right New England prep school; then he redshirted. So, yeah, we don't know much about Cox. There have been erratic positive practice mentions that make the Minor comparison and suggest Michigan made the right choice when they went for Cox over instate star Jonas Gray, now at Notre Dame, after seeing the two side-by-side at camp. Cox should see some time spelling Minor, as Michigan doesn't have anyone other than him to pick up the thundermoose mantle.
Group two—spread ninjas—has two guys in it, both true freshmen. Ohioan Fitzgerald Toussaint was the higher-rated by the recruiting sites. He spent his senior year either shredding defenses for like 250 yards on 10 carries or getting swamped for like 40 on 20. There was little in-between. His highlight video is full of fancy jump-cuts and serious change-of-direction skills; he's slightly undersized but who cares, right? Toussaint's had some injury issues in fall camp and it sounds like Michigan is looking at redshirting him, which they obviously should since he's fifth string at best. Recruiting profile here.
And then there is tiny, zippy Vincent Smith, who arrived for spring and did this during the Michigan drill…
…impressing everyone and reminding us all that Rich Rodriguez might have some idea what he's doing when it comes to tiny who-dat running backs.
Smith's spring game was just okay, but the practice buzz up until that point was very positive. The buzz since has remained equally positive, with teammates dropping his name apropos of nothing. Here's the always-excitable Fred Jackson:
“Small guy, but a big back. He plays big. The way he blocks you and the way he’ll run over you. I’m going to bet that he’s 170 pounds, I don’t know exactly. But I’m going to say he’s 170 pounds and he runs like he’s 200 pounds.”
It's Smith, not Shaw, who's listed as the first backup to the two seniors on the initial roster. That means no redshirt and frequent duty; I'm betting he's the fan favorite in the race for the starting job next year. His recruiting profile beckons for the curious.
I have a hunch that Michigan fans and opposing linebackers are going to become very familiar with redshirt junior fullback Mark Moundros this fall. We know that Rodriguez likes to feed his ogres, and last year Michigan had some success passing to Moundros out of the backfield until opponents caught on to that one play they can actually do and shut him down.
This year Michigan figures to have several plays they can actually do and one spectacularly accurate short-range passer. You can see a glimpse of a Moundros-heavy future in the Forcier
porn highlights from the spring game: Forcier gets pressure from an outside blitzer on a rollout and hits Moundros dead in stride. Moundros turns it up in front of a trailing linebacker and picks up a first down. Shades of Aaron Shea there. Shea was Michigan's last frequently-used H-back, an all-purpose fullback/tight end who hauled in 38 catches in 1999. While that number might be a stretch for Moundros something like 20, most of which turn into first downs, isn't out of the question. The occasional carry might be in order, too.
|Blocks three guys|
|Crushing a corner|
As far as backups: with Vince Helmuth's move to the defensive line and eventually the MAC, there really aren't many options. Kevin Grady is still around but he's not much of a fullback and after four years disappointing on and off the field the chances he picks up a major role are slim indeed. He's listed second on the depth chart at the spot, FWIW. Michigan's best bet for a backup will probably be a to-date anonymous walk-on. Both Owen Schmitt and Moundros started as walk-ons, after all, and Rodriguez has directly stated he won't recruit scholarship fullbacks in the future. He prefers to breed them in Barwis vats in the IM building basement.
This is not absolutely confirmed, as I didn't even think to ask about it, but the new jerseys are practice jerseys only. The home uniform will not be changing, and I don't think the away ones will either.
A couple quick things from Rodriguez's post-practice presser:
- Brandon Minor, though he was limited today, is just about healthy. He should practice full-go tomorrow, and if not, definitely at the next practice (Monday).
- Toussaint's injury is a shoulder or bicep problem, but nothing serious. Still, from the way Rodriguez talked about him, Fitz might be heading for a redshirt this year (lots of RBs, only need to play the ones who are ready).
- Still no word on Jason Forcier's status in joining the team. They believe they'll hear any time now.
- Hemingway is going to be an important player for the offense - it sounds like he might even be the #2 split end.
- Stokes is going to start out at outside receiver - there was no mention of slot for him.
- Roy Roundtree, on the other hand, will play both inside and outside receiver positions.
- About 10 true freshmen will probably be contributors this year. Though he didn't mention anyone by name at that time, expect Will Campbell, Vlad Emilien, Vincent Smith, and Je'Ron Stokes to be among them.
- Stevie Brown said the defense is improving a lot under new coordinator Greg "GERG" Robinson (duh).
- They work a ton on fundamentals and especially tackling.
- Teric Jones is pretty impressive at corner (he had a pick yesterday) despite being new to the position
- Dave Molk says that the offensive line really came together over the course of last year, and his becoming comfortable with making calls from the center position was a big part of that.
- The QB situation is much better this year than last because now there are 3 viable options.
- Mike Martin (who Dave has to battle in practice) is "one strong bastard."
- Carlos Brown feels as healthy as he has in a very long time.
- Denard is a fast kid, but he and Carlos haven't settled who is faster. Carlos is just glad that Denard is on his team.
...and speaking of Denard, Carlos also mentioned that the segment of practice that was closed to the media involved some scrimmaging. Denard apparently broke off a pretty big run during that segment. You should be able to catch it on tonight's Big Ten Network special. Tune into BTN at 10PM to check it out. You may even be pleasantly surprised at the crew's impression of the 2009 Wolverines.
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.