...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
On the fumble return, "I was thinking 'scoop and score' like you talk in little league." Patterson was encouraging him during the runback. Was exciting to be able to score.
It's a learning experience to be in his first year on the field. Helping the team was the goal all along, and he's glad to be able to do that.
Position change is good for him because it's good for the team "I'm a football player and I want to play, nothing to it but that." Everything is coming at him faster at the new position, and the field is a bit more compacted. Being physical is his biggest strength. It's not confusing to switch positions for the third time. He's just a football player and loves being on the field.
Wisconsin: "They have some pretty good backs, the o-line is big. We'll see how it looks this week." When they put up 83 on Indiana, his only thought was "that's a good team." "They put up 83 against Indiana, not against us."
The defense's attitude has changed. "'I don't care attitude' - in a positive way" has been the defense's calling card for the last two weeks, and they'll continue with it. If the opponent gets a big play, they have to move on and not care.
Found out he was going to start within minutes of the beginning of the game. Was excited to get his first start. "It's was kinda hard to relax, but you know." There have been points where he wondered if he'd ever get the opportunity to start. Was motivated to prove himself. Filling in for Mike Martin "It's a lot of pressure." Need to step up when he goes down, even though it might be tough to fill his shoes.
Going through the coaching transition: "I feel like it's an experience that's really prepared me for my future and for life." They aren't that different, but this staff is a lot more intense.
When Cam Gordon was returning the fumble for a TD,"I just kept trying to tell him 'keep going, keep going.'"
Team will be focused to prepare for Wisconsin. "Wisconsin always has a big offensive line, and they always have a good offensive line." You respect them, but the goal is to prove you can compete with them. "You also come in with the mindset that this is going to be a very physical game."
Wisconsin scoring 83 against Indiana has motivated the M defense to make sure they don't have a bad performance themselves.
On the defense: "I really feel like the swagger is getting there. Every game we play is a stepping stone." The defense is developing, and they learned this weekend what they can do if they play up to their potential.
"To go out there and to win these next to games is very motivating." Trying to show what they can do, and improve bowl status.
"If the team ever needed me anywhere, I would do it. That was my whole mindset." He's going to get his degree, and to play football and get playing time is just an extra benefit to that.
Since the Illinois game, the defense has been more loose, and they're translating it to the field. "It's a good way to go into the game. Our swagger and everything about our defense got a lot better, and it's perfect to go into the Wisconsin game."
Not worried about Wisconsin's 83 points against Indiana "I guarantee you they're not going to score 83 points on us." Wisconsin is a powerful team, but Indiana backed down a bit at the end, and Michigan won't do that, they'll fight to the finish.
Will miss running through the tunnel after doing it the last time this weekend.
"I hope they throw the ball my way a little more, I haven't seen much action lately." Wants the chance to build up some stats. You just had two interceptions: "Yeah, FINALLY."
"I've seen Courtney grow a lot even when JT was there." He'll be a great player in the future and has stepped up. Vinopal has stepped up in a tough position. Talbott and Christian have also done a really good job as true freshmen.
"We need this Ohio State win bigger than anything. That's something we've been waiting on, and our focus will be on that really soon. We've gotta take on Wisconsin first."
Main difference between Carr and Rodriguez eras is a major step up in the conditioning.
Lots of memories about touching the banner, etc., excited to have one more time to do that. Wants the seniors to leave with a win.
The change in coaching staffs has made for an unexpectedly interesting experience. "Hopefully this is the year that Michigan turns the tide." Ohio State "That's the big one obviously, and they've got us however many 6 or 7 years in a row." Winning in Columbus would set the program up for years to come.
Ryan Kerrigan is a great player. "We weren't running the ball very well, and got into third and long." That allowed Kerrigan to get after the QBs a bit more.
"The energy has been there the last two weeks" for the defense. Even though they struggled a bit, they want to prove themselves again at the end of the season.
Wisconsin is always tough against the run. Michigan is coming off a poor rushing performance against Purdue, so they'll need to be back on their game to have success.
There are keys to victory for every week, and ball security is on the list every week. "You can't win games with turnovers. The last two we were lucky to come out of there with a win."
It's always important to take care of the ball, especially against a grinding team like Wisconsin.
It's impressive that Wisconsin could put up 83 points. "I didn't really think much of it. Obviously Wisconsin's a great team, but it didn't make me scared or anything."
Important to send the seniors out with a win in their final home game. Glad they were able to get to a bowl game for those guys. "We all wanna win, for them it might be a little more important."
Denard responds well, even after he makes mistakes.
"We're not content with anything." Want to win the last two games. "We're gonna go and and we're gonna fight in those two games."
Tries to stay ready for the occasion when he gets the ball on the reverse, but isn't begging for it to get called.
Different receivers prefer different routes, but it's their job to work them all in practice. "If you're in that position, and they happen to call the play and you've gotta run that route, you're gonna run that route."
Ready to get back on the field. Had a week off to relax. "I don't know if I can wait. I'd rather play right now. We'll see on Saturday how we come out."
"I can't put nothing on nothing. I was out there playing so I can't blame it on my shoulder." The injury can't be blamed for any of his interceptions.
"We've been treating it every single day so I feel 100% better. Ready to rock." Doesn't care if he gets held out of games if the team's winning. Trainers kept him out against Iowa in the second half.
Will Campbell: "He's gonna be nice, he's gonna be nice at offensive guard."
On helmet-to-helmet hits: "I think we should just go out there and play football." Don't limit the physical play too much. "I just try to avoid them, I guess."
The coaches told him to improve his decision making in the bye week. "Not rushing it, just calm down." Ran too hesitant in the past couple games. "Making the read faster."
Team's coming together a little bit more in the bye week. "We train harder, we practice harder, we play harder. More as a team and a family than last year."
"We could have prevented all of those turnovers. Just simple mistakes. You live and you learn, you can't make the same mistakes twice."
"I don't like talking at all. I love to lead in examples." Would rather show than speak up.
"Cam Newton, I mean he played a great game." Doesn't know him personally.
Didn't watch much football for enjoyment during the bye Saturday - just a bit of future opponents to get some info on them.
Health and attitude can be improved during the bye week. "Very excited. This bye week pretty much got us back on track." Mentally and physically, the team is better ready to go. "Just being more hungry."
Hopkins is different than Smith or Shaw: "Inside. He's a better downhill runner."
Fewer mistakes coming up? "Yes, obviously. This bye week helped us look at all the mistakes we had, and correct them." Worked on small things this week, which they may have been overlooking in the week-to-week grind of the past few games.
Slot WR? "I like being in space, out in wideout, at running back, any way for me to get the ball and I'm free in space."
100% over his knee injury.
The night game is "Taking me back to my high school games when I always played on Friday nights, so I'm pretty excited about it."
Campbell and Washington "We always joke about those two switching them back and forth." He played DT kind of like an offensive lineman. "He can be a really really good offensive lineman. He's athletic, he's big, he's strong." Washington is a big hitter, so "I'm pretty excited to see what he can do against some other teams."
Team's leaders didn't address the team specifically in the bye week. The team just worked on fundamentals. "It was good to get a little rest this weekend... kinda recharge the battery and get ready to go."
Jibreel Black and Taylor Lewan are some young guys who are impressive. Lewan - "You just got to try to calm him down." Was a little too fired up against Iowa. "He has energy which is good, he's just gotta learn to control it and use it between the whistles."
Schilling only has 5 games left to finish his Michigan career. Wants to complete it the right way.
On Penn State: "It's a fun place to play, that's for sure." The night atmosphere is a bit different. "It's loud in there, it's hard to hear." The no-huddle might not be quite as affected with signaling.
Fun game in a great place to play. Feed off the increased excitement of the crowd at night games. Excited to get back out there. Watched PSU play on Saturday. Nice to see the tempo of the game. "I get more out of watching film, but I do get something out of watching the live games."
"Every team in the NCAA has bumps and bruises. A week to heal them is great." Feels very refreshed after the bye week. Points of emphasis during bye week: fundamentals, making the right reads.
"Obviously on Saturday we can prepare a little bit more because it's a bit later of a game."
"We've been making steps this whole season." May not correlate on the field yet, but they're making improvements on D. "You can definitely see things that we're doing better now that we didn't do at the beginning of the season." Reading keys, breaking faster on the ball. The team has guys who want to be good, and are willing to put in the time, which will prevent another collapse like last year.
Quinton Washington - "I thought that Quinton should be playing defense about a month ago. He's got that aggressive manner that's good for defense." It's going to take some time for him to get comfortable there.
Kenny Demens: "great athlete, great build. I think he's doing great with the opportunities he's getting."
Mike Martin is an amazing athlete, can fight through double- and triple-teams.
"We just keep looking forward, looking ahead. We try not to think to much about the past. Just try to stay positive and always have a good attitude."
The media had an opportunity to talk to Rich Rodriguez and the team's newly-elected captains Steve Schilling and Mark Moundros today. Notes follow.
Friday morning will be the first day in full pads. They'll finally be able to tackle and go live. It will only be about two hours and fifteen minutes, because Rodriguez has to leave for Seattle in the afternoon. On Saturday, there will be no practice, but payers will go to their position coaches' houses for a meal. 2-a-days start Sunday. They'll have a couple scrimmages in Big House, beanie bowl. Go through whole game routine. For the veterans, it shouldn't be a big deal.
We're in pretty good shape, not game shape. The weather hasn't been that hot yet. Need warm temperatures to get guys in game shape. Guys who weren't in shape have responded as you'd expect. If you fight through, practice will help get you in great shape, but guys who started in great shape recover more quickly. It will take 3-4 weeks for everyone to get into shape. "If you aren't in shape, you won't play."
They're a very attentive group, eager to learn, grasped concepts. Put more in than anticipated. Right on track installation-wise.
All the position competitions haven't been separated yet. Will remain that way until we see them in pads.
No injuries. Some guys have missed time for the end of summer school. Most finishing today, tomorrow, monday next week. Mike Shaw is practicing. Still involved in his class. "Ongoing with him."
They'll shift some guys in the secondary, Teric Jones will be a S/CB. JT Turner's departure did not create new concerns. When asked about a potential return from Turner, Rodriguez stated: "He doesn't play for Michigan."
We're all anxious to get NCAA stuff behind us. School, Administration, players, want the committee to reach a conclusion. As soon as the hearing is over, those involved will fly back and get ready for practice on Sunday.
Kickers: need to see them in pressure situations to evaluate them.
1st, 2nd, and 3rd teams are all getting plenty of reps. In a week or so, they'll reduce it to two main groups with the reps divided about 60-40.
QBs making a conscious effort to take care of the ball. Need to work on decision-making as well. Has Denard picked up where he left off? "I think so. He looks physically bigger. Mentally he's understanding a lot of the concepts." Eager to do well. Limiting QB contact, but they get banged around a bit. Tate and Devin have to assume leadership by position. Hard for frosh/soph to take control. Has to happen naturally. They'll get that as their play improves. Re: Tate. "We've challenged all our guys." Tate gets more attention, because he plays a high-profile position. Tate is responding to the challenges, not sulking or laying back.
Woolfolk probably feels more natural at corner. Could play at safety if need, has the physicality. Brings that to the corner position. JTF had a good camp so far.
Punt return will be taken care of by Martavious Odoms, Jeremy Gallon, Terrance Robinson, and Drew Dileo. All have really good ball skills. Kickoffs will be returned by all of those guys, plus Darryl Stonum.
Darty Stonum loks fantastic. Junior getting himself into better shape. Stonum good camp. Junior good last couple days.
Quinton Washington is completely healthy. He's been set back last fall and in spring with injury. Rodriguez is pleased at the conditioning of the offensive and defensive lines as they came into camp. Christian Pace is struggling health-wise (knee). They were already going to redshirt him, and he may need knee procedure, too.
A tentative depth chart will be released Monday of game week. A few "ORs."
At running back, nobody has separated from the pack yet. It should be one of the most interesting races, because there will be at least two, and probably three guys that will play quite a bit. That's a position that needs to be evaluated with full contact.
Schiling and Moundros: Team voted for those guys as permanent captains. They will do all they can to keep that honor. At least one additional game captain will be selected for every game.
Captain Stephen Schilling
We've had 4-5 senior meetings. Idea came up for captains, from nobody in particular. They discussed it a few times, then asked Rodriguez to come to a meeting. They brought up some of the ideas to him, including permanent captains.
Sometimes it makes it easier having two voices at the top, but all the seniors will be leaders. Schilling and Moundros look to the rest of the senior class to be leaders.
As for the distraction of the NCAA hearing, schedule was rearranged so that Rodriguez didn't have to miss practice. Most guys have put that on the backburner; they're not worried about that, they just want to play football and get ready for UConn. They see the headlines on ESPN, but it doesn't really cross their minds other than that.
"Definitely good to have David [Molk] back, it's been a while." He's shaking off some rust, but everybody's getting ready to work together. There's really high potential for this offensive line. They have depth and experience.
Progression among players is a lot quicker now that most guys know the system. Meetings with Coach Frey go quicker, and they can make corrections faster on the field.
Schilling has worked with all three QBs. They're all working hard and playing well - but it's only been a couple days. Offense has made big plays, "looks good to me." Tate's been working hard. Not saying much, just trying to prove he can be the QB. We see him working hard, and that's a good thing. Troy's comments could have affected him, but he's here working hard. Get better every day for the team.
We've had guys cramping, but you see that every year. Guys have been pushing through heat, and are doing better than expected.
The RBs all worked really hard this summer, because they knew they all had a chance to be "the guy." So many different guys are cycling through with the first unit. Competition will bring the best out of all of them. Cox and Hopkins bigger backs, can hit it up inside. Smith gets outside, Toussaint does both. Shaw has speed to burn. Smith "looks good to me." Knee not affecting him.
Captain Mark Moundros
Whole senior class thought it was necessary to have two captains. Great honor to be one of them. Texted his mom and dad first when he found out.
Very encouraged by hunger of team. "We're ready to prove ourselves this year."
Playing mostly LB - like the spring. Always had a defensive mindset. How many snaps can he play on both side of the ball? "As many to help us win." Doesn't regret waiting so long to try linebacker. He's happy where he is right now.
Signs of defensive progress? We have some good schemes, we're working together. That's key for defensive side of the ball. Different schemes will allow for different groups of people to play on front line (when asked if Martin and Campbell will play together).
Secondary doing great. Learning every day. Mistakes have been limited in first week. That'll continue to first game. They bring great energy from the secondary.
OL - the front five - great line. "We have some depth too." Can't pick out just one guy, they all have capabilities and potential. chilling great leader. Dorrestein and Huyge on the edges. The guys who rotate in - different positions - fun to watch that side of the football.
Always had the mindset of competing, play to best of ability. Wherever that puts him, so be it. Worrying about working hard to help the guys around him get better. His fellow MLBs Ezeh and Demens are great - competition will make them better.
When he came to Michigan as a walk-on, he never thought about being the captain one day. He never looked that far in advance, and just took everything one day at a time.
Even though he and Steve are captains, every senior got at least one vote for captain. That guy will have to lead by example to at least the one guy whose vote he got. Honored and humbled to be captain, but they'll lead as a senior class.
Every RB brings a different dimension. Cox power, Smith quick with cuts. Shaw with speed, Fitz is a factor, Hopkins (bigger back - hard earned yards).
Willingness to trust each other will help the team succeed.
Rich Rodriguez met with the media tonight following the first day of fall camp. If you want the full audio, you can check out MVictors, but I've pulled out the important points below. The above photo comes courtesy of Bruce Madej. Your humbe blogger is just out of the frame to the left.
- Vincent Smith, David Molk, and Mike Martin were all in practice today. The only guy who was out for the spring that's still out is Will Heininger. Smith did not seem to be favoring his knee.
- A couple guys missed some team meetings today with summer school obligations. Those were mostly freshmen, but a couple upperclassmen as well. Michael Shaw was among those guys. There are a couple days next week before summer school is completely over.
- No word on who took the first snap at QB today, but "all three guys are competing." Denard and Tate have a bit of experience, but Devin is in great shape and wants to compete. In camp, they'll limit QB contact in order to avoid injury. If a quarterback separates himself from the pack, he'll be the starter. Tate is competitive, and will work for the job. Tate, Denard, and Devin all had good moments today.
- There's enough experience and talent at running back to win some games. Vincent Smith, Michael Cox, and Fitzgerald Toussaint were singled out. Stephen Hopkins should be able to fit the "big back" role that they're losing with the graduation of Brandon Minor. Kelvin Grady is playing both slot and running back. He's a full-time football player now.
- The offensive line is bigger and stronger up front. The idea that RR offenses only want little guys is inaccurate - as long as a player can move, bigger is better. Experience will help the OL be better - and it will allow them to install more of the offense much more quickly. There was only one bad snap from the centers today.
- The offensive and defensive lines look good (RR said Will Campbell looked "OK" before saying he didn't want to answer any more questions on individuals). There were no pads today, so it's too early to say how they'll be, but they look physical up front. The young offensive line is growing up, and this should be a deeper team up front.
- Young guys (even true freshmen) will have a chance to contribute at safety and corner. It will probably be tougher for D-linemen to contribute this season - but we'll know more once they're in pads.
- Within two weeks of practice, they should have a good idea of which freshmen will be able to contribute in the fall. The first full scrimmage in two weeks is a key to that: "The pads answer a few questions." This is a fast freshman class - including the guys up front. On top of that, they didn't make any big mistakes today - they're a bright group.
- "Will Hagerup will be what we thought." He's got a powerful leg and is a good athlete. He should be the starting punter.
Team and Schemes
- The team on the whole looks to be in pretty good shape. Some players are in very good shape, some are only in OK shape, and some are not physically ready for Division-1 football. "Goal and expectation" is to get everybody in very good shape. The expectations for freshmen aren't as high from a conditioning standpoint, but they were helped by making it in for summer school. Nobody that could be considered an "impact player" would ever show up to camp out of shape. The coaches ran a conditioning test at the end of practice, and there's just a handful of guys that are not ready.
- The team will practice in pads on Friday, and Sunday will be the first 2-a-day.
- This team has the ability to be faster than last year's team. The speed will be aided by players not having to think too much. The coaches might have tried to work on schemes a little too much today, causing the players to not play quite as fast.
- It's too early to compare the overall talent level of this team to the 2008 or 2009 teams. What this team does have is more guys who can contribute, particularly on defense.
- Practice is probably the best time to be a coach. It's good to be on the field teaching guys. The team is full of guys eager to learn.
- The continuity at defensive coordinator means everyone is already used to the scheme and personality. Guys being in the program for a few years also helps: They don't have to explain the process of practice to guys, and can worry about teaching football.
- They've been fortunate to be able to grant scholarships to some walkons each year Rodriguez has been here. They have a couple extra scholarships this year, but they don't like to announce which walkons receive scholarships because it makes the other guys feel unimportant. Earning the scholarship "is not the end of your goals, it's just the start."
- You know a program is improving when you are able to play poorly and win. Michigan obviously isn't there yet.
- When asked specifically about Woolfolk's comments on Tate: "I'm glad our seniors are taking some ownership and leadership in this team. They want everyone to work as hard as they have." When asked again, RR said it's good to see the seniors take ownership of this team (which sounds to me like a sign he doesn't think Woolfolk really did anything wrong). Everyone in the program ants to succeed, and they deserve a chance to enjoy their final season.
- Rodriguez can sense the senior leadership on this team. They've had player meetings, and come over to his house as a group, etc. They will be vocal leaders (moreso than last year), and they know they have something to prove.
- There will be two permanent captains for this team, and they've been announced: OL Stephen Schilling and LB Mark Moundros. On top of that, there will be two game captains for each contest "if they're worthy, which I think we'll have."
- When asked specifically about the West Virginia notice of allegations: "I'm talking about Michigan football."
- It's the head coach's job to handle outside distractions. As for the players, "they handle what's going on in Schembechler Hall." Players worry about getting their Michigan degree and winning football games. Michigan, the football program, and RR's family form a great support system that's helping Rodriguez handle the pressure of outside distractions.
- In regards to a certain report about a 2012 game against Alabama - "I believe those conversations are ongoing." When asked about what it might mean, Rodriguez remarked, "Ya'll tell me, do you think that would be fun?"
- Rodriguez would prefer that the players don't use Twitter and other social media, but if they like it, they can. It's the job of the football coaches and athletic staff to educate them, and remind them that they're not only representing themselves, but also the university.
- The phrase "winning cures all" is accurate, because it puts the attention onto the game, instead of other stuff. "Let's just limit the drama. Let's just keep the main thing the main thing."
- Rodriguez is strictly coaching this week. He'll worry about the NCAA hearing on the flight out there, and then it's back to coaching on Sunday.
- Rodriguez saw Brock Mealer walking today. When the team has their "beanie scrimmage" in the Big House, Brock will practice running through the tunnel.
- There's no real added sense of urgency to this season. Rodriguez has had a sense of urgency ever since he's been coaching - even as an assistant.
- When asked specifically about Ron English's comments from earlier this week, Rodriguez responded that they don't pigeonhole recruitable prospects on the basis of their economic status or family upbringing. Anyone you recruit must be committed on and off the field.
Round Two of roundtable interviews. Previously: Troy Woolfolk drops bombs. Up next: Stephen Schilling.
- Rodriguez tells the players on the team not to worry about exterior drama. He wants them to focus on football, and he can worry about outside factors. Everyone tries to ignore what's said in the media sometimes, or have thick skin about it.
- Schilling doesn't think the outside drama has worn on Rodriguez too much. He's a strong coach, and can get through it.
- The struggling the last couple years has been tough on everyone. It's been humbling, because most people on the team (Rodriguez included) have had success everywhere they've been. It's tough, because nobody commits to Michigan expecting to experience a losing season.
- The opener has a bit more excitement than it does in some years. Last year probably taught everyone to not put too much stock in the first game.
- Iowa and Ohio State are two games that Schilling's looking forward to, because he likes to measure himself against the best. Whoever comes out on top in the league has earned it. Michigan needs to hold up their end of the bargain to keep the OSU rivalry meaningful.
- The first couple years, there were a few guys who weren't able to buy in. Some of them left to transfer to other schools, etc. Now, everyone is bought in.
- There have been several moments that could have gone the other way that would have made the last two seasons very different. The goal-line stand against Illinois was a big regret for the offensive line. The MSU loss was easy to get over, because it was just the first loss and most of the season was still ahead of them.
Personnel & Schemes
- The team is much more experienced in year three. It's easier for the coaches to add new schemes, because the players know what they're doing now. "Every year, you get more comfortable with the coach, and he gets more comfortable with his players." There should be an even bigger jump between years 2 & 3 than there was last year.
- One reason Denard was able to improve so much in the spring was that he got to fly under the radar. There wasn't as much attention and pressure on him as there was on Tate.
- Taylor Lewan and Patrick Omameh are best friends, so it's funny that they've emerged at about the same time. Both guys are really physical, maybe to a fault sometimes, because they might risk injury. Both are athletic, and should be good additions.
- David Molk's injury last year helped a couple guys get some reps in the spring, especially Rocko Khoury and Christian Pace, and also Elliott Mealer. Pace has a great work ethic, and his performance this spring showed that he could be a budding star. Still, it will be good to play next to Molk again.
- There's potential for the offensive line to become dominant. They've been great at times, but they need to make that dominance more consistent.
- The defense's ability to play multiple fronts on defense will make them harder to prepare for. The offense also benefits, because they get to practice against different types in fronts.
- The seniors had five or six meetings to get on the same page for leadership purposes. They wanted to be sure they were all leading with good continuity. The biggest thing is to lead by example.
- There's a sense of urgency among the seniors, and they have a few special things planned for camp "that I'm not really gonna talk about."
- The run up State Street last week was the senior-led run for the last workout of the year. It's a team bonding experience. Everyone had a fun time running up to the Diag, but a few guys took the bus back when the run was over.
Rich Rodriguez addressed the media for 20 minutes or so after yesterday's spring game, then a number of players spoke to small groups. Notes:
- Won't answer questions about a resolution to the quarterback situation, and they won't be available to the media. Pleased that the QBs have gotten better. It's nice to have competition, and not have one guy seize the job this early. Denard and Tate have both improved, but they still have more work to do. Devin has learned well, considering he's only been around for 15 practices. The #1 guy may not emerge until after the first game.
- The quarterbacks had a poor day compared to how they've been practicing the rest of the spring. It's OK for the QBs to scramble around, but the coaches don't want them to do that until the initial play breaks down. Still, their offensive creativity and explosion shouldn't be hampered.
- Having a QB competition will continue to elevate those guys. If multiple guys are ready to play in the fall, they'll play. The goal is for the whole team to get better, so the improvement by the quarterbacks is important to that. Denard got the first rep of the game because he's been more consistent over the course of the spring.
- Denard Robinson's grasp of the offense, and recognition of defenses has improved markedly since last year. Understanding the offense is important, but both Denard and Tate Forcier need to get better at reading the defense, now that they are able to execute the offensive plays. Denard's always been able to throw, it's just a matter of making sure his mechanics and reads are consistent. He's still learning the offense, because he's still just a first-year guy. Pat White redshirted his first season, and in that first spring, he was probably about at the same point in his development that Denard is now. He continued progressing, and hopefully all of Michigan's quarterbacks can do that as well. Pat and Denard are similar players, but it's unfair to compare them, because Pat was so good for a while, you can't expect that out of a young guy.
- Today was the first day of the spring that the quarterbacks weren't live. That changes the way they play a bit, and the defense might let up on them a little bit more.
- One of the emphases this spring was limiting turnovers and negative-yardage plays. The spring game was somewhat disappointing in that regard.
- Running backs: There will be more competition in August when everyone is healthy. More than one running back will play in the fall. Mike Shaw and Mike Cox, Stephen Hopkins, and Fitzgerald Toussaint will all be in the mix. Spring has given some new guys a chance to emerge.
- Jeremy Gallon's redshirt year helped him get into good shape. Right now, he's the leader at punt return and kick return, and he'll play in the slot as well as maybe some other places.
- They have more guys who are ready to play at the offensive skills positions. Some of the QBs have a bit of experience, which raises expectations.
- Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield have played pretty well. With Perry Dorrestein injured, they've have opportunities to progress. There are now two additional guys who can get in the rotation, and the coaches want to have more guys ready to play.
- The team wasn't as physical and good at tackling today as they were in other practices, maybe because they couldn't hit the QBs. The scheme was simple today, but fundamentals need to continue improving.
- Troy Woolfolk broke his finger on Thursday, but he'll be fine by fall camp.
- Mike Martin will play noseguard when he returns healthy, but he'll also play other spots on the defensive line. Adam Patterson and Will Campbell will also play "both nose and tackle."
- The kicking game was very uneven today. The situation is still wide open. Brendan Gibbons kicked well today, but Will Hagerup will have the opportunity to win the punting job in the fall. Tate had a good punt, and he's pretty good at it. The other guys practice it a lot more, because Tate has other things to worry about.
- The coaches got some answers this spring, mostly positive. They'd like to have more answers than they got, but most of what they see right now is positive. No negative surprises. Cam Gordon and Mark Moundros were positive surprises after position changes, as was the level of play at cornerback.
- The early enrollees provided some good moments as well. Jerald Robinson and Stephen Hopkins are probably going to get some playing time in the fall. The early enrollees were a little nervous playing in the Big House. It's nice to get those nerves out of the way early. Some of Devin's mistakes may have been due to nerves.
- Team chemistry is really good, and still improving. Players get closer together each day they work.
- The coaches have a week to look back on spring, then they'll hit the road for the Evaluation Period in the recruiting cycle.
- Hopefully in the future, the spring game will continue to grow. The weather wasn't great, but fans still came out. Maybe weather will be better and more fans will come out. Players appreciate the support from the crowd.
- The team has three spring scrimmages, and the Spring Game might not be the most useful for teaching, it does give players the chance to get in front of a crowd, and to adjust what they're doing without the coaches telling them exactly what to do after each play.
Notes from the players after the jump.