fair point that
- There are no real injuries on the team. Troy Woolfolk and JT Floyd are full-strength, "we're pretty daggone healthy"
- "Darryl's done a great job with what we've asked him to do, and we'll go from there." He will be able to practice with the team as he redshirts. The redshirt will not affect the number of scholarships available for the 2012 class (still 26).
- "There's a couple guys" who will challenge to be the starting punter in camp. Matt Wile will be able to (possibly) do both. "You can be a great kicker on State Street, but we kick up on Main Street." They still don't know how the new video boards will affect the wind in the stadium, so kickers will practic ein pressure situations there.
- Will Campbell left spring around 342 pounds, now he's around 319 pounds. Taylor Lewan has gained a few pounds.
- There will be five days of 2-a-days during summer camp. That can be adjusted, based on how the practices are going. On Wednesday and Thursday, the players will be in shoulder pads and helmets, then full pads start on Friday. Guys are practicing hard even though they aren't in pads yet. There's a balancing act between being physical in practice and keeping guys healthy. Quarterbacks won't be live during camp.
- In the past, summer camp could consist of three days with just freshmen, to get a little extra teaching in for the young guys. They don't have that anymore, but sometimes the freshmen will stay an extra half an hour after practice to get some work in.
- As far as installation, both sides of the ball need three bread and butter plays "that we can hang our hat on." On offense, that includes the power play, a play-action pass off that, and a 2-minute specific play. On defense, they need three calls guys can execute without having to think.
The first day of camp is best for seeing how the players' bodies have changed, and getting a first evaluation on team toughness and senior leadership.
The players came into camp with an attitude of being ready to improve.
It's too early to evaluate running backs. They've only had one day in shorts so far.
There are enough players at wideout to make up for the absence of Stonum.
The team is too busy to worry about buying into any hype or anything. "We now we have so many things that we need to get better at, and so many things that we need to be a little more physical at."
It's been hard for Will Campbell to get established, as he's been moving around positions. Now, he's set at one position and will hopefully take advantage of that.
The first day of practice went alright, but Hoke has a list of things to talk about improving in the staff meeting and team meeting tonight.
The coaching staff needs to communicate clearly about what they want, so the players will be able to retain what they've been taught.
There's a lot of "want-to" and "pride" on the defense. They need to identify the playmakers before they can worry about what it will be this fall.
"We want a championship culture here. There's an accountability that we all have to have to each other for a championship culture."
Molk doesn't have troubles gaining the right amount of weight. He's around 288 or 290 now.
Will Campbell came into Michigan out of shape, but he's been working hard ever since. There's a hunger in his eyes to succeed this year.
The chemistry on the offensive line is good.
"We didn't only work hard - which we've always done, we've always been a hard-working team - but we worked hard together." The team made strides together. In the past couple years, there were a few stragglers who weren't "all-in."
The first couple days of camp aren't fun, because they don't get to hit each other yet.
There's less yelling out of the new staff. There wasn't a problem with the yelling before, but it's just not there now.
Jerel Worthy's tattoo is stupid. "I don't know why you'd stain your body like that. It's his issue."
Both lines are strengths of the team because they have experience. "Put more pressure on us. If the offensive line is the only thing judged to win a game, put it on me. We'll win."
Denard's been working on dropping back, and the offense is running smoothly. There's no difference for the offensive line. There's a misconception that spread offensive lines aren't physical, but Michigan ran primarily inside last year.
The fifth-year seniors haven't had a satisfying season yet. After the 9-4 Capital One Bowl year (which should have been better), they had three disappointing seasons. "There's nothing more that I want this year then to win every game and beat every opponent by as many points as possible."
The seniors have passion together for winning, and that will rub off on the younger players. Hoke gives the class some responsibilities, and that has made them tighter as a group.
"I guess it can make them tougher" for a defense to practice against a pro-style offense.
There's a sense that things are returning to "Michigan" again, after a few weak years. They didn't stray away over the past three years, but the winning wasn't there. "The main thing about that Michigan tradition is winning."
The toughest part of getting back on the field is the mental aspect of believing that you can make the cuts you could before. "Will I be the same athlete that I was?"
The defense will be better this year because they'll bring more intensity. The secondary will improve with more experience, because the freshmen got thrown into the fire last year, and now the veterans are returning. This is also Troy's favorite defense of the four coordinators in five years. "It's not too much of thinking... I just feel like we can react and we're putting pressure on people." They're focusing on the little details of technique, which should help the defense be more successful this year.
Will Campbell (hey, expect lots of MSM columns about him this week!) hit his weight goal. That's helping him move faster and be a better athlete.
It's going to be tough for Darryl Stonum to sit at home on the away game weekends. Troy went through it last year with his injury, and he'll try to help Darryl through it. Stonum, Brandon Herron, and some of the other teammates got in contact with Troy last year, and he'll do that going forward.
The year off helped Troy gain an appreciation for the mental aspect of the game, instead of just relying on his athleticism (since he couldn't do the physical part last year). Is he as fast as we was before the injury? "Faster. No doubt." Before he was back to 100% on the ankle, he had to work on the right speed mechanics instead of just running out there, now that it's back to full strength, he has the technique and the natural ability.
Coach Hoke sees Michigan as "his final stone," rather than seeing each coaching job as another stepping stone. That sincerity and passion for Michigan are part of what has made him such a successful recruiter.
Troy is planning to compete for a starting spot - nothing is guaranteed. He's planning to only play corner.
There's nothing wrong with a coach who yells constructively. These coaches prefer to explain rather than yell though.
Ryan Van Bergen
The tempo of this camp is a little slower than in the past, because there's a bit more focus on individual teaching of the new schemes.
Mike Martin, RVB, and Will Heininger did a good job getting the D-line together in the summer to work on individual things, because they all want to get better. "We tried to spend a lot of time together as a unit... we tried to make each other as close and as tight as possible before camp started." They're still a work in progress.
Taylor Lewan came in around 250 pounds, and he's put in a lot of work in the past couple years to get up to 303 now. Craig Roh has put on 10-15 pounds as well. RVB is up near 290. That's a good weight for him in the scheme. There's been some emphasis for a lot of guys up front to add weight. In the previous regime, quickness was more valued.
He was eating 6,000-7,000 calories per day to gain weight. It's tough to eat that much and keep a diet of healthy foods - you need good fuel foods. "My specialty right now is pineapple-glazed salmon."
The defensive line should get more pressure on the QB this year. "I think we had some good pressure on quarterbacks last year, but the amount of takedowns we had when we got there, we weren't cutting it." They want to lead the league in QB takedowns this fall.
"I feel an obligation right now to my seniors" to have a successful season. They've been through a lot with coaching changes, etc. "I want these guys to be remembered as some guys who came in and helped the transition for Coach Hoke."
Jerel Worthy's tattoo: "He can put whatever he wants on his body, he's still gotta play a football game."
Hoke notes coming on Monday. Apologies for minimal editing, but I'm eager to leave the living hell that is McCormick Place.
Why does Denard smile playing football? "It's a game, and I enjoy playing it. Obviously I'm still playing, so I'm still smiling."
Even though there was a switch in offensive scheme, Denard said his first thought was to do whatever it takes to play. Denard doesn't worry about outside perception that he can't throw. He and his teammates know what he can do, and he'll show it on the field. The timing with receivers is looking good. "We've got some deep routes in there, and we have some routes where they can make a choice and get open. It's a good deal."
The biggest thing Denard has been working on this offseason is his footwork. "Keep my feet underneath me so I can make throws anywhere I want to throw it." Stepping up in the pocket is another adjustment he's making. Getting timing down with receivers is another area for improvement.
The team has been working hard all summer. They're getting bigger, faster, and stronger. "The seniors and I, we organized the workouts and 7-on-7s. That was a big thing for this year." Everybody was ready to participate in the offseason workout.
Denard never got to a point where he was leaning toward leaving Michigan. It was tough when Rich was fired, "That's the guy that recruited me, but at the same time, I was with my teammates and my family." David Molk and Ryan Van Bergen gave him the best advice, along with Mike Barwis. They told him that there's no better school or family than the University of Michigan. After he got fired, Coach Rodriguez told Denard to completely buy in to Hoke's system, and he would continue succeeding. It meant a lot to Denard that he told him to continue buying in. Coach Smith (now at Indiana) also told him to buy in 100%. "I bought into Coach Rod's offense, and I'm buying into this offense."
Brady Hoke's first message to the team was to hold each other accountable. "We're Michigan, and we're supposed to compete for the Big Ten every year." "What we've been doing lately is holding each other accountable." If guys aren't doing what it takes to win a Big Ten Championship, their teammates are on them.
The national attention is different after coming from a small town. "It's alright, it's good. I don't do crazy stuff anyhow" so it's not harmful. He likes being recognized around campus, too. It's easy to ignore media hype. "I don't too much care for the hype."
Asked about the Ohio State/Michigan State clocks: "We do have a countdown for the Western Michigan game, so that's the main thing right now. That's the main thing. That's a big game, we have to prove ourselves." Denard grew up watching the Florida/Florida State rivalry, but the Michigan/"Ohio" game is a much bigger rivalry. "It's the border. We fight for Michigan, and they fight for Ohio."
Denard was nicked up a lot last year, but "playing football, you're gonna have nicks and bruises, so you've gotta play through that."
"It's still going to be exciting, we've still got the guys we had last year." There are explosive receivers, and some good running backs. "I know all of them are gonna be ready to play."
Denard isn't usually a vocal leader, but when he has to speak up, he will.
There was no issue getting guys to come to workouts this year. There was pretty much 100% attendance at voluntary workouts, which was not the case last year.
"You get a feel for when you want to run and when you shouldn't run. If you see an open receiver, don't miss him. You want to get him the ball."
Despite last year's individual success, Denard always maintains drive to improve. "How I look at it is always work like I'm second string or third string." He plays and works out with a hunger to improve.
Denard isn't much of a celebrator, so he's not worried about the effects of the new taunting rules that can take scores of the table.
Denard has gained 5-10 pounds since last season.
"I did a lot last year. It's going to be hard to say I can do any more than I did last year, but I think I can do a little more, I can outdo what I did last year."
Low expectations? "They say the 1997 team was one of the teams that was underrated."
Whenever Darryl Stonum earns his way back on the team, he'll be welcomed. "I want him to be back on the team, but it's up to Coach Hoke."
The offensive line has gotten a lot bigger, but they're still mobile.
Denard's improvement: His arm has always been good, he can throw touch passes and the long ball. His arm strength isn't a question: he mangled one of Kevin's fingers with a pass in practice. It's still bent (pictured at right).
"I honestly feel like we don't have a #1 [receiver]." There are a number of guys that can step up and be the top target on a given day. Still sounds like a blessing and a curse to me.
"Dileo, he's deceptively quick." He did well on returns last year, and is now improving his route running and hands.
Jerald Robinson has good hands and body control.
The freshmen don't work out in the same groups as the returning players, and they can't participate in 7-on-7s due to their schedule. They've come out to play catch with some of the guys, though.
Chris Barnett is an established pass-catching threat, and Kevin's advice is to work on blocking. "It's a long season; if you don't play in the first game, you might play the fifth, sixth, seventh game."
In 7-on-7s, Koger is usually covered by Carvin Johnson or Brandon Herron.
Marvin Robinson is a big hitter. It doesn't take him a long run-up to build power.
Troy's return has brought some enthusiasm to the defense because he's a funny guy, and a fun guy to be around. JT Floyd is back as well. "Troy, he's a veteran, he knows where to be at, when to be there, he knows how to disguise coverages well, he drives on the ball really well.
Carvin Johnson is not the fastest, biggest, or strongest guy. "But he has a knack for making plays, he's always around the ball." Kevin has trust in the safeties to make plays.
There's a lot of competition among the linebackers, and there are spots up for grabs. Whoever plays the best in camp will earn starting positions.
Brandon Herron is a fast guy, and Koger has to beat him with technique, and Demens is a strong guy who you have to beat with separation, because if he gets his hands on you, you're done.
"Look at Wisconsin last year, look how many points they put up during the season. They ran a pro-style offense. They ran tight ends a lot of the time. It's proven that a pro-style offense can put up a lot of points."
The offense wants to control the tempo of the game this year. The defense is ready to get back onto the field whenever they need to, but the offense can control the ball.
Outside of Denard, Roy Roundtree and Junior Hemingway are some of the big play guys. Kevin jokes he'll be happy to catch any passes at all this year because there are so many good options for the offense.
Coach Hecklinski has done a good job with the receivers, making sure they do what they have to do.
A lot of the running backs haven't gotten much game experience, so it's exciting to see who will emerge.
There's been a lot of improvement since last year's defense. The seniors especially are working to leave the school the way they want to be remembered. "We've all been through it together. We know what needs to be done. We don't want to have any problems. We don't want to have it be like last year."
"At the end of the day, we don't want to say that Michigan beat Michigan." What happened in the past is gone, and they're excited about what's going to happen in the future.
Martin likes what he saw in the film from spring practice. Everyone looks excited to play defense, and get out on the football field. "There's a lot of worry; guys were doing a lot of thinking on the field." Now, guys are able to not think and simply execute their assignments.
On Greg Mattison: "The guy eats and breathes excellence." He's a great teacher of the game. Hoke and Mattison have credibility, and have proven that they know what they're talking about.
There's a big emphasis on being tough and hardnosed on defense. Hoke gets in the D-Line's faces specifically, because they're where the defense starts. Everything "starts and ends in the trenches." Previous Championship defenses at Michigan were defined by words like "toughness," etc.
Martin, Van Bergen, and a couple of young guys will get a lot of small-group attention from Coach Hoke in practice. Technique and fundamentals are stressed every day. Hoke, Mattison, and Montgomery are all on the same page and teaching the same things. Hand placement, footwork (down to the inches), hip movement, etc., need to be second-nature to the D-linemen, because they can't be overthinking on the field. The coaches are detail-oriented. They also are learning to adjust to the offensive formation without having to think about it.
"I've never seen more clocks in a building. I always know how many days there are until whatever game it is." It's a constant reminder of what is coming ahead. "We know what we have to do come September 3rd."
It's fun to watch film with Coach Mattison because there's active involvement by people, instead of a lecture-type format. They're always learning, and picking Mattison's brain. "Watching film and seeing me drop back, it just looks funny."
The four-man front makes it easier on the point of attack for the defensive line, because somebody is going to have a one-on-one matchup, and there are fewer double teams.
"His attitude and his mindset has totally gotten better." He was in a bit of a comfort zone before, where he wasn't constantly being pushed to improve, because he was a backup. Now he's being counted on, and has answered the call. He's a key component of the defense, as the 3-tech is a key part of Mattison's defensive scheme. "He answered the call and step up to the play. Q's been doing a great job behind him."
The team likes watching Ravens film, because it's a good comparison to what scheme they're going to be running. Otherwise, Mattison doesn't talk about his NFL success (HALOL Charlie Weis). Watching the guys who are the best at their positions helps the players realize what little things they need to do to improve. "I think all the guys are always picking stuff and trying to make their game better."
The defensive line is doing a good job at the point of attack, but their main room for improvement is making the second move and getting off a block to make plays in the backfield.
There's more accountability among players in the weight room this offseason. The new strength staff also puts an emphasis on getting bigger and reps to failure.
A recap of Brady Hoke's time in front of the cameras (and also off-camera media questions) at Big Ten Media Days today.
It's humbling to represent Michigan in the greatest conference in the country. It's the Wolverines' 132nd year of football. "I don't think we're rebuilding. Period." The players understand what Michigan means, and the team doesn't put stock into a rebuilding year.
The players are doing what they've been asked, but the team is still a long way from where we need to be. How you go through camp (attitude, toughness, discipline, accountability) will lead to how the team performs.
The expectation is always that seniors will lead the team. Fall camp is "funnest time of the year." Hoke thinks the guys will show up on August 8th in shape to play.
Fortunate at Michigan to have several great rivalries. "The rivalry with Ohio is as big a rivalry as there is in the sport." If you don't get excited for that game "you may not be human." Hoke says the team understands the importance of that game, and they talk about it all year. OSU is not a wounded team right now. They're a tremendous program with great tradition. Michigan has 42 B10 championships. "When you have schools that have those legacies, I don't see anybody as wounded." It doesn't diminish the rivalry that both teams have taken reputation hits recently.
Hoke is excited for Denard's potential in the offense. He's done a tremendous job so far, and ran the same offense in high school that he'll be running now. The mechanics of taking snap, play action, etc. is not new to him. Borges has done a tremendous job with him.
"We're smart enough to have elements that he does well from what he did in the past in the spread in our offense." They'll adjust the proportion of spread and pro-style elements in the offense depending on how the team executes in fall camp. They still need to worry about finding a tailback, which should happen within the first 2-3 weeks of the fall.
Why would you worry about changing schemes, when they were so successful last season? "Two sides of the ball in the game of football." As a defensive coach, when you play against a pro-style offense in practice, you build a toughness. This is a physical league, and you need to stop physical offenses.
The excitement of adding Nebraska's tradition, adding a championship game, brings even more fanaticism for the Big Ten conference. Even if it means playing OSU twice? "That game always needs to be played the last week in November. That's tradition. I think there are certain traditions you don't mess with." If you happen to play them twice in a row, so be it. It happens in other sports all the time.
Mattison doesn't just bring X and O benefits. Knowledge, teaching. "That's first and foremost: you've gotta be a tremendous teacher." There's a scheme knowledge that is good, but it's the relationships with 18-23yo kids, and motivation skills all tremendous. If the staff or head coach aren't thinking of the best interest of the kids, they aren't doing a good job.
Hasn't made decision on Stonum. There's no timeframe for making a decision, and he's not worried about team chemistry in waiting to see if Darryl does all the right things to earn his place back on the team. Redshirting this season is possible, but there's too much that can happen in between to be thinking about that.
As for other wideouts, Junior [Hemingway] and Jerald [Robinson] have done a nice job. Odoms "brings a lot of life to us." Presents problems in the slot.
Mike Martin, Ryan Van Bergen, and Will Campbell have worked hard this summer, along with Craig Roh. The seniors are "doing the things that seniors should do."
JT Floyd should be healthy enough to practice right away.
Recruiting: "This might sounds arrogant, but if it is, it is: We're Michigan." Great history, tremendous staff. lifeblood of a program is the guys who come in. Wants toughness, team players, etc. The coaches out on the road do a great job, but Michigan sells itself.
Recruiting is going well, but Signing Day is still a long way away. "We've got 5 or 6 left that we need to be a little picky about." They'll probably sign more than 25 prospects. Recruiting is strong in Ohio, but it's always been like that. Possibly started with Bo Schembechler's roots in Ohio.
Big House night game. "We're looking toward September 3rd first and foremost." First night game with a rival, but the place is going to be jumping with excitement, looking forward to it.
On Kellen Jones: "He's just not enrolled in school." There are no other players that he knows of who won't be on the roster this fall.
Hoke got a bit of time off, but he wasn't able to "turn off" coach mode. He has 115 sons to worry about every day.
Closes with "Thank you, and Go Blue."
Michigan announced the formation of men's and women's varsity lacrosse programs this morning, A few interesting tidbits from the press conference:
- Athletic Director David Brandon said his "team" has identified lacrosse as the fastest-growing sport in America, and in Michigan. HS programs in the state have gone from 50 to 180 in the past 10 years. "It's also a great television sport," which likely means some TV down the road.
- "On the men's side, we've applied for admission to the ECAC." [ed: for a rundown on Michigan's future conference opponents check out MaizeAndBlueWahoo's excellent diary.] The application has been received, and Brandon is confident the Wolverines' bid will be accepted, saying "we have high expectations that process will happen quickly, and we are very encouraged in terms of initial feedback we have received."
- On the women's side, they will apply for admission to the ALC. Florida, Hopkins, Northwestern, Penn State, Ohio State, and Vanderbilt are the current members of that league. The Athletic Department and Michigan's coach are going to work together to set up the non-conference portion of the schedule.
- David Brandon stated that a national search will begin immediately for a women's coach, but as far as men's goes "I have a primary candidate in mind for that position." That candidate is longtime club coach John Paul. As soon as Michigan has the position publicly listed for a week (in accordance with the law), JP will be introduced as men's coach. For women's coaching candidates, Brandon said he wanted somebody with a track record of building a program from the bottom up.
- JP stated that 25 members from this season's club lacrosse roster will return to the team for next year's inaugural varsity year, including 4-time MCLA All-American Trevor Yealy, who will be a 5th-year senior. Filling out the first varsity roster for Michigan are 10 incoming recruits and several potential transfers.
- Brandon gave some love to the "Project Lacrosse Founder's Club," which was formed over the past few months. They have worked hard to ensure the necessary fundraising could be completed. Over 70 people contributed monetarily, including several "major gifts."
- "We are in the process of putting facility plans together. And what we're trying to do at Michigan Athletics, as opposed to creating one-off plans, we've really spent a lot of time of late in a master planning mode." Lacrosse has been included in the AD's "master planning process." It's still a work in progress, and Schembechler's practice fields, the Big House, the UM Soccer Stadium, and other facilities will be used in the meantime. Building their own home is in the long-term plans, though Brandon said that's at least 3 years off.
- Lacrosse is gaining momentum as a sport, and Brandon is hopeful that Michigan's programs can be a revenue-generating opportunity down the road - though that has nothing to do with why they're adding the sport. "I've seen around the country, crowds that show up in double-digit thousands for their competitions." Operating costs for both programs combined will be $3 million. That will be a big investment, but donor support is expected to be a major help.
- Brandon is most excited that 84 more athletes at the University of Michigan will have varsity athletics opportunities, and 25 new scholarships will be available for student-athletes. "What a great opportunity. At a time when a lot of Athletic Departments are shrinking and contemplating cutting sports, for us to be here adding two major sports like the ones we're adding today is something we're blessed to be able to do."
- There are no plans to add any other sports in the near future. Taking on two more is a big deal, and the Athletic Department will take some time to "digest" that before making any other moves.
- Brandon expects the men's and women's teams to both be competitive right away. "The only thing I'll tell you is: We're Michigan. We're not gonna add these sports, and we're not gonna make the financial commitment and put the time and energy that we have and will put into these if we're not prepared to go out and compete for championships." He doesn't want arbitrary timelines, but they'll evaluate the programs going forward. Competitive reasons explain why men are going in 2012, while women will start playing games in 2013.
- "The idea of featuring the sport in conjunction with the spring [football] game - because the seasons overlap from a timing perspective - I know Ohio State has done that with great success." That's something Michigan will consider going forward. Having the largest stadium available to the program will be a great opportunity. If Michigan is fortunate enough to host a first-round NCAA Tournament game down the road, they'd submit a bid for Michigan Stadium to host.
- There are a lot of rivalries available to Michigan - Ohio State, Notre Dame, and others. Lacrosse started as an Eastern regional sport, but it's spreading to the West. Colleges as far as California are considering adding the sport. "We think this is going to take us some really interesting places, and they're not all in the East." Brandon believes that forward-thinking Big Ten ADs will look at lacrosse as a new varsity sport in the future.
I'll have some more specific stuff (i.e. "stuff that's completely uninteresting to people who don't already care about lacrosse") up on GreatLaxState this afternoon. And, to close it out, the final video blog in Michigan's MCLA history, courtesy of graduating senior Pat Stansik:
Notes from Brady Hoke's final press conference before the Spring Game. Photo from file.
Spring game - not enough depth to have a draft "and that would be what we'd wanna do, have the seniors draft." 1s will go against 1s, 2s against 2s. "We'll keep a score of some sort, but there's no scoreboard anyway." Winners get steaks, loser get hot dogs. The teams tied last Saturday. Scrimmage - "It will go until I think we've done enough plays."
Offense and defense will both be on the field the whole time. Al will coach the offense, Greg defense. "So that they can get the mechanics of gameday and getting the plays and personnel in and all that," Borges has been away from the field in the last couple practices.
Alumni returning - "It's great to have all these guys back. I think they've got close to 85 for the flag game they're gonna play. We've got over 300 coming in Friday night for a team meeting."
Team meeting: "We're gonna have a conversation. You know. We're just gonna talk about Michigan football." Introduce the new staff to the former players, and talk about how they're accountable. Current players will not be present.
Held out Saturday - Woolfolk, Floyd, Lewan, Demens, that's about it. Shaw and Molk are both back. Woolfolk has done very little. "He's done some individual drills and stuff like that. He maybe has taken a few snaps in 1-on-1 and a few snaps in 7-on-7." Floyd is behind in his recovery compared to where Woolfolk is.
Hoke always participates in hands-on coaching "I couldn't just walk around and watch stuff."
"We're heading down the home stretch of spring, obviously. We've got two days left to keep evaluating." Mindset, mentality, etc. will still be evaluated in the final two days. "We've made some progress in some of those areas but we're a long way from being the football team we want to be in the fall."
Koger, Herron, RVB leaders. Hard for Molk to assert himself since he's been out so much. "Your definition of a leader can vary. It doesn't have to be a vocal guy."
There's better communication, especially on defense, at this point than there was at the beginning of spring. It starts with communicating changed fronts. "I think that there's a pride that those guys are starting to feel as a defense." Defensive communication - "I think Ryan [Van Bergen] has done a really good job. I think he gets it." Cam Gordon and JB Fitzgerald, Kovacs, Carvin Johnson have been vocal out there.
Defensive coaching chemistry: "It's great. It's like they've coached together forever... As soon as recruiting was over, we started those meetings, how you wanna coach it, how you coach it."
"I think we're OK" with how much they've gotten done this spring. Really depends on how the next two practice days go. "I usually like to compete in 2 minute offense/defense] 3 or 4 times throughout the spring." They'll work that in earlier in fall camp to make sure they get it done.
Individual evaluations with every player, with Hoke and their coordinator and their position coach. "Expectations, where they're at, what they need to do. Where their weight needs to be when they report. What their role right now will be in the fall... The evaluations at the end, believe me, they'll be very specific."
Freshmen contributing this fall: "Really haven't thought about it much yet." Depth concern at OL and DL might provide some opportunities, but it's too early to say. Corner? "Maybe. We'll see. Greg Brown's really, in the last week and a half he's really stepped up." Courtney Avery has stepped up as well.
Lloyd Carr - "He's been over. Hasn't been to a practice, but he's been in and we've talked a little bit. Coach Moeller has been around a little bit, and Coach Hanlon is here every day [laughing]."
Denard and Devin: "I think Devin is a very talented guy and I think he's learned the offense well. I think he's got a good handle on it. There's some consistency we've gotta coach better with." QBs will organize 7-on-7s in the summer. What will Denard take into the summer to work on? Footwork issues, ball mechanics, play action game. He needs to settle his feet on dropbacks. "The mental aspect of getting you in the right plays" based on safety alingment, defensive fronts, etc.
Running back - "I think Hop's had a pretty good spring... Toussaint's been pretty steady." Mike Cox hasn't practiced as much because he has a class during Tuesday practice time "so that doesn't help him." Smith has played well. Incoming freshmen will have a chance to step in. "Hopkins is a guy right now who has been probably the most consistent." He can also line up at FB and do some things there.
Tight ends - they have the guys to run what they want. Koger was out early in spring "but he didn't miss much." He's been good on the line, Ricardo's more of a "move guy" right now. "I think the 4 guys you mentioned [Moore and Watson] all have done a good job in the offense, and that will be an important part of what we do offensively."
Molk - "He's been doing some individual, and then yesterday he did more of some of the team stuff." With Lewan out, Huyge has played both tackle positions, Schofield has been good, Ricky Barnum has been kicked out to tackle a few times. "You have 7 or 8 guys who will form kinda the nucleus of the group."
Rocko Khoury has gotten a lot of good snaps. Omameh has taken most RG snaps, played a little bit at RT. "A guy like David who's played a lot of football, sometimes you need to give snaps to more of those other guys."
Barnum: "I tell ya, Ricky's a good football player. He's a tough kid, he's a smart kid, he plays with good technique. That's why he's a good football player." He's been as consistent as any player up front this spring.
Defensive Linemen: Mike Martin - "He's done a good job. We're doing a couple different things with him." "I think think Will Campbell has made strides, but the consistency has to be there. You know Quinton, I think he's going to be a good football payer here at Michigan."Jibreel Black "Jibreel is a guy that, as his body composition changes a little bit, he's gonna be a good football player. I think him and Craig at the rush have had pretty good springs." Roh has progressed better than they thought this spring.
Linebackers - "Marell's done a pretty good job. We moved Brandon Herron back to a Mike." Mike Jones and Brandin Hawthorne at Will. "Cam Gordon's getting better, and I think Cam will have a very good summer." Jake Ryan also at Sam. Those six plus JB Fitzgerlad who "has started to come along a little bit."
Safety situation is fluid. "Carvin Jonhson, I would say of anybody, and Kovacs" know the defense best. Marvin Robinson has also come in and made plays, along with Thomas Gordon.
Kicking game: "I think it's a work in progress." Everything from snapping, to punting, etc. needs to continue improving. Long snappers are competing. Placekicking is a "huge competition with 4 guys in there." Seth Broekhuizen, Kris Pauloski, Jeremy Ross, and Brendan Gibbons. They kicked 14 or 15 times during last week's competition at the stadium. "They haven't been there probably as much as we'd like for them to." The field is the same indoors, the elements are the only difference. "We've got a lot of work to do in that area of it." Wile will get a chance to compete when he comes in. [Author's note: those two statements weren't said back-to-back, so don't read too much into it. Hoke said every freshman has a chance to compete for playing time].
Scheme installation: "Originally, I wanted to get all of it in. And I'm not going to say spring has been a success or not a success based on how many defensive calls we have in." They have scaled that back a bit to make sure the players fully grasp each scheme before moving on. "Their grasp of the defense probably hasn't been as fast as I thought it would be, but their want-to and their desire to do it has been really good." Even though installation is going slowly, "There is no disappointment whatsoever in me. I get excited and more enthused every day we meet." They get to mold the players into what they want to see, and the players are all excited to learn.
Talent: "I'm really encouraged by the attitude and the 'want-to' of the guys that we're working with." There hasn't been any moping or negative attitudes, guys come in wanting to learn. When the coaches make corrections, the players demonstrate those by the next day. The entire D has tons of work to do on basic techniques. "But I would have said that about any time I've had, unless they're perfect with their technique, I'm not satisfied." First step, punch, etc. - all the basic techniques need work.
Brady Hoke is hands-off in determining D schemes, though he's a defensive coach. He works with the SAM linebackers. "Its not Greg Mattison's defense. It's the Michigan defense." All defensive coaches can bring ideas. "It's the Michigan defense and we all have input."
It's great if the O score quickly: "I hope we score in 3 plays every time they're out there. Because our job is going to be to get off the field in three plays." As long as the offense isn't turning the ball over, they'll help the defense. The defense earns their own rest by getting off the field on third downs. "Your job is to do what you're supposed to do on third down to get off the field." They have started installing the nickel/3rd down package, because stopping third downs is so crucial.
Talked with Urban Meyer yesterday. They knew each other at Notre Dame, and Mattison was defensive coordinator at Florida for a while. "He's a great head coach and a great friend."
Michigan's coaches don't believe in supplements, but if players do what Wellman says, they'll grow. They want every player to get as big and strong as they can without sacrificing speed.
On wearing his Michigan 1997 Rose Bowl ring - "I use that as a reminder of how excited I am to be here." He made his son get it from the house in Mishawaka immediately when he took the Michigan job. "That was a special team and our goal is to get more of those."
Big Ten Divisions - "I love the conference playoff." It provides incentive to play for something on top of a bowl game. "That championship playoff game is bigger than any bowl will ever be." Aside from playing for a National Championship, it doesn't get any bigger than a conference Championship game. He learned that coaching in Atlanta with the Gators.
Denard - "If the darn kid would throw the ball rather than run all the time. Anyone can scramble (laughing)." He can make your defense pay if they aren't disciplined, no matter what D is called.
Standouts: "Mike Martin, obviously." He's already had success at Michigan, but he still comes to practice like a rookie hungry to learn. Craig Roh has shown some signs of wanting to improve and be more physical, Jibreel Black can be an explosive guy. "All the guys have had their good moments." They aren't executing perfectly, but all of them can realistically hear "you're still in the mix to be a good football player here. Now you've just gotta keep going."
Campbell is coming off the football better at times, but not always. Quinton Washington "has been neck and neck with [Will Campbell]... When you see Quinton Washington and Will Campbell battling for a position, that says 'great, because now we can roll them.' Because I believe in that, and I always have." Will Heininger has stepped up, and can rotate with Jake Ryan. Jibreel Black looks as good as Craig Roh on some days.
DL has to be a strength of the D "You can't have a great defense unless you have a really good defensive line." In the next 9 practices, they'll find out whether their defensive line can reach that standard. Going forward, they'll recruit great defensive linemen because the philosophy is to have good defensive line play.
Kenny Demens is out with shoulder injury. He's probably most experienced LB. He's looked good in no-contact drills, is picking up the scheme. Returning linebackers haven't played a lot of minutes in games, and definitely not in the new scheme.
A lot of the experienced guys have mostly blitzed, now they need to learn run/pass reads, take pass drops, know who to cover, etc. ILBs will always be interchangeable positions. WLB and MLB can always play both.
"Mike Jones has shown some great improvement from where he was Day 1." Isaiah Bell wasn't moving well on the first day, but now that he understands the D a bit better, he's able to move faster.
"The one guy probably that has improved the most and I have really become excited about him is Cam Gordon. I've really got high hopes for him." He's playing SAM backer, and has a chance to be good. "Has a tremendous attitude." He has safety athleticism, just need to get bigger. "Cam's a really long way away, but as a coach you see things in a young man you say 'this guy really could be one of those really good players some day.'" He's battling guys much bigger than him right now, and they want him to get as big as he can while still being able to run.
"I've been pleased for the most part with that group... I hate to name [individual] guys because you're leaving somebody out, but that position to me has done a pretty good job." There's more carry-over for those guys from the previous scheme. Carvin Jonson has has some good days. Thomas Gordon has done a good job. "The one thing [Thomas Gordon] has done is he's now working at the nickel position for us, which is a real credit to him, because it shows he can go from playing safety to all the adjustments that have to be done at that position."
On missing Woolfolk and Floyd - "It's difficult if we were playing a game today, but I tend to look at it as a positive." Those guys have already shown they can play, and younger players get to develop, and improve depth.
Right now, the safeties have to be able to pay both spots.
Marvin Robinson has had class during one of the in-week practice days. He's starting to understand the defense and make plays. "He's got the range, and he's got the ability to run, and he hits." Now he just need to learn the schemes.
Courtney Avery - "He's another one of those secondary guys that I think is really improved. He's working extremely hard with Kurt [Mallory]."