this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
- Injuries: David Molk has a torn ACL and is out until the summer. He will have surgery and miss spring practice. David Moosman will start at center for the rest of the year, and Rocko Khoury and Tim McAvoy will get more reps at center as well. Martavious Odoms is day-to-day with a knee injury. There is no ligament tear, and they're expecting him back. Junior Hemingway has a knee bruise, and he's day-to-day. Brandon Minor bruised his heel (on the opposite leg that has been giving him ankle problems this year). He's day-to-day as well.
- Defensively, there were more technical errors and missed assignments than usual. Sometimes, it's a matter of guys trying to do too much and losing responsibility. The coaches are always evaluating every scheme and personnel choice. Sometimes adjustments work, and sometimes they don't. Rodriguez has full confidence in the defensive coaching staff.
- Denard and Tate are both naturally confident young men. Struggling in games may rattle their confidence a bit, and it's up to the coaches to bring it back up. They can't worry about dropped balls, and should only be concerned with what they can fix. They are still learning to use their eyes properly on passing plays.
- Holding is a point of emphasis for the referees this year. Rodriguez has seen a lot of calls that he doesn't agree with this year - both in favor of and against Michigan. Another thing Rodriguez is upset about is being called for too many men in the backfield. The team was lined up properly and still got called on Saturday - he'll send that play in to the conference for review.
- The coaches can see the places on the team where talent is lacking. They'll develop the younger guys, but also address the talent issue in the next two recruiting classes. They'll primarily recruit high schoolers, partially because it's difficult for Junior College credits to transfer to Michigan.
- Illinois is a pretty good team, they've just been unlucky at times. They're still very talented.
Ryan Van Bergen
- On a down-to-down basis, the defense isn't bad. It's the big plays that have really hurt Michigan this year. Everyone needs to lay their assignments to reduce the big-lay threat of opposing offenses.
- Van Bergen and Molk are roommates, and Molk's injury is unfortunate, but "it's a part of the game." Molk will help the team vocally since he can't do it on the field.
- The defensive line is a tight-knit group, and they're fun to play with. If Brandon Graham happens to win a postseason award, he's promised to give the credit to the rest of the defensive linemen.
- The comments from Penn State that the defense looked confused about where to line up were inaccurate. The team knew what they were doing, and some of the movement was shifting to confuse Penn State's offensive line.
- Illinois is still similar on offense to what they were last year. Despite the numbers, they still have explosive potential. They make a lot of mistakes though, and Michigan will have to capitalize on that.
- Moosman is ready to help the team by moving to center full-time. He needs to calm down and remain collected to succeed at center, since he has to direct the entire offensive line. Hopefully, he got all the bad plays out of his system already.
- The snap through the endzone was the culmination of a bad series by the OL and the offense in general. There was a miscommunication between Tate and Moosman, and Moosman takes the blame for the safety.
- Since Moosman went to high school outside Chicago, he was asked if he was interest in going to school at Illinois. "I visited Illinois, saw what it was all about, and decided to come here." ICE BURN.
- Carlos's health is good. The headaches from the concussion have gone away. Brown also had "another issue" in spring ball, related to a head injury.
- The team struggled with the little things against Penn State, and it all added up to result in the loss. Part of that was the fumbling. Brown made a mistake to switch carrying hands on his own fumble. Fred Jackson has a lot of ball security drills that he'll make the players go through this week.
- Carlos doesn't think Tate Forcier has hit a "freshman wall." He's still the same player he was through the first 4 games of the season, and he's going to pick up that pace again.
- With Carlos's career almost over, it's crazy to think that he only has 4 or 5 games left. The team's goal has to be making a bowl game to extend to the 5th game. Brown's first career start came against Illinois, and he's hoping to have a good time down there this weekend.
- Woolfolk didn't mind switching back and forth between corner and safety during the game Saturday. The package where he plays safety and Cissoko comes onto the field is called the SWAT package by Greg Robinson. It's designed to get the best pass coverage onto the field. Sometimes when the defense lines up in man coverage, it's the CB's decision to press the receiver or play off.
- The Penn State game wasn't a matter of one or two plays changing the result. Unlike Michigan State and Iowa, the Wolverines were just outplayed for 4 quarters. It was a definite eye-opener for the team to have that happen.
- The defense is capable of greatness, but they just aren't consistent enough. "We allow people to score [with mistakes], it's not that they're scoring on us." If MIchigan can eliminate the little errors, this could be a good defense. There wasn't confusion for the team, just guys not fully executing their assignments.
- Woolfolk has thought about returning kicks since he's one of the fastest guys on the team. However, in his only KR experience in high school, he muffed the ball and the other team recovered. His high school teammate Darryl Stonum told the Michigan coaches to avoid putting Troy back to take kicks.
- Arrelious Benn is a very physical and strong receiver - Woolfolk joked that the DBs will have to get in a lot of reps on the bench press this week. Illinois overall is a big, hard-nosed team. Michigan can't have execution errors and expect to win.
- David Molk practiced in pads yesterday. He will start against Penn State on Saturday. David Moosman will move to right guard, with Perry Dorrestein and Mark Huyge competing for the right tackle spot.
- Tate Forcier and Carlos Brown should be fully recovered from all their injuries. Minor's injury is still nagging, but he should be healthy enough to play (as he has been despite the injury in the past couple weeks). The running back starter will depend on Minor's overall health (they'll know after tomorrow) and what play the coordinators want to start the game with. Minor's physical presence will be important against a team like Penn State.
- JT Floyd feels better, after he suffered through the flu last week. He should be able to play this week. Troy Woolfolk will remain at corner, where they like him better overall, unless there are injuries to the safeties (Jared Van Slyke and Vladimir Emilien are the primary backups at safety now). Boubacar Cissoko's suspension is still a day-to-day affair.
- The offensive line gave a good effort against Iowa, and Mark Ortmann is a leader of that group. They'll have another good challenge against Penn State.
- Renaldo Sagesse was not injured against Iowa, but he's a developing player who is getting the first serious playing time of his career, which takes some time to adjust to. Greg Banks is another solid backup on the defensive line. He's the first backup in, and has played as well as the starters at times.
- Bill Martin always said he would work at Michigan on a short-term basis, so it's surprising that he was the Athletic Director for a full 9 years. He did a lot of important things at Michigan, including improving facilities, balancing the department's budget, and making a lot of coaching hires.
- Rodriguez had some good times and some bad times with Bill Martin (no opportunities to go sailing though), and Rich will be sad to see him go. He'd like to provide a few more good moments in Martin's last 10 months on the job.
- He will be able to give some input in the search for a new director, and his priorities are in getting someone who loves Michigan, understands athletics, and knows how to address the needs of student-athletes.
- With so much responsibility on ADs today - from athletics, to finances and fundraising, to media - it's a tough job to do, and to find the right person. Mary Sue Coleman is one of the best university presidents in America, and she'll get the job done.
- Liked opportunity to play in front of 106k, and the fans supported the team, despite lack of an exciting opponent.
- Liked that a bunch of older guys were able to get their first real playing time. Even ST starters didn't play in the second half. Guys are happy because their teammates got to play. So many close games prevents quality reps for the depth. A lot of fun to let the scout team guys get real playing time.
- Carlos should be cleared up by Monday. Molk might be back for the PSU game, and he should be able to practice this week. No new injuries happened today.
- Tate practiced well during the week. They wanted to give him some game reps, but the first couple series went well, and they didn't need him. They knew tuesday that Tate would be able to play. If he was needed all game, he could have (but they planned on playing Denard). Wanted to get Denard some passing reps. Sheridan will be a great coach some day. Cone knows the system, great to get him some reps.
- Planned to give Shaw and Smith the most carries. Wanted to give Kevin a few as well. How importat was it to get the backups some carries? You need at least 3-4 tailbacks, because they often play 2 at once, etc. It's critical to get the lower guys some reps. VS and MS physical for their size. Cox is on the scout team, but he got a chance to prove himself today.
- Beginning of the year, this game would be used for evaluating. Middle of the year, it's a rest week, and time to give reps to depth players.
- James Rogers moved to CB this week. Asked a couple weeks ago if he could help out on defense.
- Wanted to run the offense, but didn't want to show anything new or throw the ball too much.
- The coaches are "very mindful of the guys we plan on redshirting" Justin Turner will redhsirt.
- Guys are ready for PSU. They were talking about the Lions as soon as they started going back up the tunnel.
- RR knows the team is where he wants it when the 2s are almost as good as the 1s.
- JT Floyd was out with what might be the flu. Cissoko still suspended - day-to-day.
Kevin and Kelvin Grady
- Never talked to each other about scoring TDs in the same game. "These are the type of opportunities and moments you work for" - Kelvin.
- Both brothers are competitors, never worried about scoring touchdowns together.
- Kevin loves running the ball, it was god to get the opportunity to do it again. Kelvin's TD - he didn't do much, coaches just made the right call against the coverage.
- Team had no problem with intensity - You shouldn't need the opponent be a big one in order to get up for a game in Michigan Stadium.
- Kelvin still loves his hoops teammates, and they support him in football.
- Wasn't expecting a huge workload, but was prepared to make the most of it.
- Never worried about whether or not he needed to redshirt. He wanted to do whatever the team needed.
- Smith wasn't aware of all the things he was doing, just worried about running the ball.
- Freshman year is for getting the experience down, in the future he can worry about moving up the depth chart.
- Hasn't scored since his junior yr of high school. Brandon Smith scooped the ball to Graham a bit.
- Every game is taken personally. Today was to try to get everybody out there "Get everybody to live their dream of playing in the Big House" Ohene Opong-owusu was a captain today. He was hustling, etc.
- With 2 sacks today, and 3 good weeks, the number is starting to climb up. He's really come on lately.
- Try to keep guys focused in the locker room this week. Trying not to miss assignments this game. About last year's PSU game: "Last year was last year, this year we fight for 60 minutes."
- The Big Ten is up for grabs. The goal is 10-2 "It can happen." You never know what can happen in the big 10. Never lose hope, the goal is a big 10 championship.
- Vincent Smith is tiny and strong. "You ain't seen him with his shirt off. He's cut up."
- "Just going out and having fun with my team. that's all this was."
- Felt great to throw 2 TDs. Safety came down on the Grady TD pass. Knew what was coming. Sometimes the pass to the wide open guy is the hardest one. Don't want to overthtrow or underthrow. Had to throw it to webb because he was so open when denard got his head around.
- Bounce-back from 2 losses is a big deal. The team can re-focus, put past games in the past. It's not hard to do, because your teammates tell you it's ok to make a mistake. You just need to get back on track. Against Iowa, Denard was calm. The interception had nothing to do with his nerves.
- Don't try to do too much. Improving as a passer every day. Coach and teammates helping him out. Reading the defense is what Denard is working on now. Always room for improvement. Better than he was when he first got here.
- More comfortable to get in rhythm, rather than one series at a time? Feels comfortable any time he goes into the game. Both he and Tate want to play, but they don't worry about who's on the field. They just want the team to win. Even Cone and Kennedy got reps today.
- Vincent Smith's running style is fun. He ran loose, and hard to tackle.
- On his fumble, a guy ripped it from behind just as he was going to secure with his second hand.
Brief today (mostly because Rich was 20 minutes late)
- Tate didn't really practice yesterday, but RR expected him on the field today. If he's healthy, he'll start on Saturday.
- Brown and Minor should be close to 100% today. If both are healthy, Minor is the starter. The coaches still want more game reps for Shaw and Smith.
- Woolfolk will stay at CB for the time being, but he could go back to safety in the future. They like having 2 veteran CBs to defend the pass.
- Kelvin Grady has gotten less PT because they've been going for more (football) experience in big games. Martavious Odoms has gotten more snaps instead.
- Moosman has improved at center, particularly with his snaps.
- Zoltan has been punting very well from both the rugby kick and standard punt plays. He might have even been kicking too well against Iowa, beating his coverage down the field.
- Tate suffered a minor concussion on his last play against Iowa. It was not the reason he sat out the last two drives, however. That was a coaching decision. He is still expected to start against Delaware State, but that's up to the team's medical staff. Both Tate and Denard are still pretty small guys, so the coaching staff is trying to limit the contact that they have to take. People need to remember that they are just freshmen, so a mental mistake here and there is inevitable. Most freshmen, especially QBs, have the luxury of redshirting. Part of what makes Tate and Denard so good is their ability to improvise. Like Pat White, Rasheed Marshall, and Shaun King, they need to be able to improvise within the system.
- The outside receivers are doing a good job blocking, but the team needs to do a better job of getting them the ball as well. Inside receivers are also doing well. Martavious Odoms is very physical despite his size, and Kevin Koger is probably on pace to get a record number of receptions for a tight end under Rich Rod.
- The offensive line played solidly, but they didn't have their best game. That's understandable, because Iowa is one of the best defensive fronts they'll see all year. There are some technical and fundamental things that need to be improved still. The trainers will let Molk run a little this week to evaluate his discomfort.
- Moving Woolfolk down to corner enabled Jordan Kovacs to move to strong safety. Rish first thought about the move after the MSU game, though the defensive coaches may have already been giving it some thought.
- Boubacar Cissoko's suspension is to due academics and other things. He's only practicing with the scout team at this point. He knows what he has to do in order to get back on the field.
- There's still no guarantee of a redshirt for freshmen who haven't seen the field yet. There are 6 more weeks to go, and you never know what can happen. The Cissoko suspension will leave the door open for Justin Turner, in particular.
- It's hard to keep the team emotionally prepared for the Delaware state game, especially coming of a the primetime showdown with Iowa. They need to remember that they'll get DSU's best shot. The reason for games like Delaware State is to get the 8th home game. Hopefully in the future, Michigan will be able to get a bit better competition for that game - though they'll probably stay within the 1-AA ranks. Rodriguez would probably rather have a bye week.
- Moosman and the entire offensive line were "great, but not perfect" against Iowa. The snaps have improved, and Moosman feels like he's finally in a groove at the center position. Moosman is a less intense player at center, and that intensity is what makes Molk great.
- Young QBs are going to make mistakes. They just need to remember that they aren't the only ones: "everyone makes mistakes, they're just in the spotlight."
- Halfway through the season, you'd prefer not to have the two losses, but they've come out and played hard in all 6 games. They've already done better than ;ast year, but there's still a lot more work to do. "We're ready to go."
- Zoltan's mom called to make sure he knew he was selected Big 10 special teams player of the week. It's an honor, but he's not too happy about it because he wanted the team to win.
- Zoltan needs to manage his emotions, and not get too high after a good performance (i.e. against Iowa), nor too low after a bad one (against Michigan State). On the fake against Michigan State, Zoltan said he thought he should punt it, but by the time he had made a decision, he was past the point of no return.
- Zoltan doesn't feel good about the team being 4-2, mostly because of the way it happened. Starting 4-0 then dropping a couple games is a damper. everyone would prefer to be 6-0.
- Troy is happy at either corner or safety, whichever will help him get on the field. He's not sure which is his more natural position, but moving from safety to corner is easier, because he needs to only worry about his guy, and not the entire defensive scheme. When Coach Gibson texted him during class that they needed to have a meeting, Troy thought he did something wrong. He was relieved that it was just about a position switch.
- Soup Campbell always gave Troy a hard time when he was coaching at Michigan. He wanted to talk some trash to soup before the game, but couldn't find him. He thought that Iowa would pick on him all game, but was surprised to see they mostly attacked Donovan.
- Cissoko has responded well to his suspension. He's headed on the right track, and he knows what he did. "Boubacar: He's a fighter, he'll be back."
- Minor's health is improving each week. The only thing that's still bothering him is that he's unable to explode out of his cuts. Still, he's getting pretty close to 100%.
- The offense keeps improving from week-to-week. They need to continue fixing the little things to achieve what they want.
- Though he's a skill-position player, Minor savors contact. He likes to deliver the hit rather than receive it.
- Regardless of the situation, Minor talks to the QBs and keeps their heads on straight. Minor has faith in anybody the coaches throw in there. Denard's pick was a common freshman mistake.
- The team needs to be able to play all 60 minutes of a game in order to win. It's tough to think about being just a couple plays from a 6-0 record. They've lost, however, so 10-2 is the new goal.
- Graham has accepted a more vocal leadership position this year. He still sometimes gets nervous about what exactly he's going to say. Gotta go out there and keep leading, keep practicing hard. Leaders can't be down because the team loses. They have to be the ones to keep the guys up.
- RVB and Mike Martin said sorry to Graham: Don't want him to lose another game in his senior year.
- 3rd down defense is kinda bad, but they're trying to get it together. Sometimes, it's just good plays by the opposing offense. "I don't wanna say lucky, but 3rd and 24? Man, luck has gotta be on your side."
- Tate was limited in practice Monday and Tuesday, but did everything on Wednesday. He came out of the locker room in a green jersey, but was in the normal practice jersey by the time the team actually started drilling.
- Minor has been having his healthiest week of practice since training camp. He went through all of the practice yesterday - and Tuesday is the most physical day. Minor has been limited in games because of those injuries. He's only been able to play because he already knew a lot of the offense.
- David Molk has worked with the trainers, but he's still not ready to play. He might not practice even next week. Without him, the line is trying to develop a sense of continuity. In Moosman's 3rd consecutive game at center, there should be some improvement.
- The second corner position is still open. It shouldn't be resolved for another several weeks. Kovacs has played well enough to inspire confidence in the coaches. Mike Williams is healthy now, so he should get some playing time.
- Team needs to work on execution in passing game, in addition to running game. Rodriguez doesn't care if the team scores on the ground or through the air, as long as they score.
- Iowa has an active defensive front, they'll be difficult to beat. They jump the snap well, and play with good upper-body technique. The OL just needs to have good fundamentals up front and get on blocks.
- The athletic department hasn't discussed night games. ESPN really wants them to have one, but there are logistical issues that make it more difficult than it seems. For the coaches, they have meetings and a walkthrough, and sit around and watch a couple of the early games. There isn't as much of a rush to finish a walkthrough the day before. West Virginia had a good night game record, and the players there took pride in that. The fans have all day to prepare (read: drink) for night games, which has an effect on the atmosphere.In Morgantown, that sometimes meant burning couches afterwards.
- The pink locker room isn't a concern for the coaches. It's not that big of a deal to the team. Rodriguez has no plans to paper over the pink walls, like Bo once did.
- Rodriguez is friendly with Soup Campbell, the former WR coach for Michigan and current WR coach for Iowa. They haven't talked since the season started.
- Mike Martin is one of the team's most consistent performers. Rodriguez would like to be able to have more guys play, and get the defensive line more rest.
- GERG may have an advantage against Iowa, because he's coached against them before, when he was at Syracuse. Of course, that means Iowa has seen his defensive schemes before, as well.
- Rodriguez got a chance to watch the Tigers last night. He's met with Jim Leyland, and Jared Van Slyke's dad is a coach for the Tigers. "They'll be back."