"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
"There's a certain level of confidence and composure he brings to the court," said sophomore forward Aubrey Dawkins, who played the bulk of his minutes as a freshman while LeVert sat on the end of the bench in a sweat suit. "When you know you have a player like that on your team of that caliber, it's just like, we're in his hands and he can do a lot of things for this team. It's a comfort. It's nice."
"I just really wanted to see him in a game and I loved what I saw," Beilein said. "He was active. He's got a motor. He's got some things he's got to work on. He doesn't have the strength to (play) the way he'd like to in the Big Ten yet, but that's what we're going to work on in-between (games) without inhibiting his ability to play the next game."
First: Tim attended the open section of the practice and posted some initial thoughts. He'll be at the 12:45 press conference as well. Meanwhile, the Big Ten Network gets unfettered access to the whole thing. Assorted highlights below. BONUS: I think this whole "everything in the world is scattered in 140-char chunks across twitter" thing is going to be rampant in the future so I inaugurated a new tag: "twitter for humans."
Robinson "has better touch and a tighter spiral than I predicted on the long ball."
That shot of Michigan's tiny, tiny quarterbacking contingent is from the Big Ten Network, which is taking in today's practice in its entirety. They are tweeting and twitpicing and so forth and whatnot. It's all very sound-and-fury-signifying-eh-not-much, but here's a fun fact:
Why's the ceiling so high? Michigan went around and measured all the nation's indoor facilities to make sure its was the highest.
I bet one dollar that there's a closet somewhere in Schembechler Hall full of Enzyte. A locked closet.
…would be very cute if he wasn't on the two deep at safety. Sad commentary on the secondary depth: some of you are checking the link to see if that's true.
You mean the tweedle-dos can be useful?Dave Revsine is also twittering up a storm. The BTN's ability to take in practices from everyone leads to interesting comparisons:
Amazing how much smaller Michigan's skill guys are than OSU and PSU. Not a positive or a negative -- just a different philosophy.… Again -- interesting to see difference in philosophy. I've seen more WR's working on blocking in 1st 20 mins than last 2 days combined
Revsine's also jumping to conclusions on one Tate Forcier:
Initial impression -- Forcier has a nice arm. Looks good. Throws well on run. Robinson a tad more inconsistent, but still fine for scheme. … It's amazing how poised and confident Forcier looks. As Howard said to me, "he has 'it'". Just has an impressive air about him.
[UPDATE: Revsine's final thought:
Tate Forcier is the PERFECT QB for the Michigan system. Good arm,very comfortable throwing on the run and good speed and scrambling ability
I have been looking forward to It ever since we lost It sometime around the Horror. More QBs:
Denard Robinson has looked accurate on short passes during team work. Clearly the #3 at this point, but obviously it's very early.
Also, Vincent Smith looks "really good" because he is "tough to catch," it's "pretty obvious" Patrick Omameh "will be able to help." Aaand if there was a twitter wishing well I'd throw 140 characters down it to make this come true:
Lot of emphasis on one on one tackling -- which was a liability for this team last year. Hard to tell from practice, but looks better.
Elsewhere, AnnArbor.com's Mike Rothstein is impressed with the "speed of Cox" and the "running of Swanson," which who the hell is Swanson? Commenter Germany Schultz provides the answer:
O'Neil Swanson is a true frosh walk-on from the cradle of football, West Bloomfield, Michigan. He went to Country Day and checks in at an impressive 5-10 156 (which is exactly my height/weight).
Looks like we've got our own Paki O'Meara, though ours is less terrifyingly close to the top of the depth chart. Rothstein also mentions that Justin Turner's a little behind:
While everyone else watched M drill, turner was off on the side not in pads working on backpedaling
Minor and Mathews were in non-contact green. Minor's thing is a lingering headache (concussion?) from a car accident a few weeks ago; we'll no doubt find out what's up with Mathews at this afternoon's press conference.
Both Rothstein and Dave Birkett have their own bullet-strewn posts up, much of which was already tweeted or mentioned above. Notes on their notes:
Rothstein ran down the first team offense and it was exactly as you might expect: Forcier, Minor, Koger, etc. Huyge still appears to be the leader at right tackle. Okay no big deal except at one spot…
With Mathews out the nominal first team wide receivers were Hemingway and Savoy. We've started to hear some nice things about Savoy, but given his extremely limited production to date that says more about Stonum. The things are not nice. Hopefully this is a get-on-the-same-page sort of thing?
Rothstein noted a couple guys in red riding bikes and then made some notable omissions from his second-team offense: Carlos Brown and Rocko Khoury. And maybe Ricky Barnum, but it's hard to tell.
Rothstein can identify "Jock Jams" in less than three notes.
aaarghghghgahghagargh from Birkett:
Michigan's punt returners are having problems catching (or judging) the ball. During the morning punt period, with no oncoming cover team, return men Carlos Brown, Terrence Robinson and Martavious Odoms dropped three consecutive catchable balls.
Birkett focused on Brandon Herron quite a bit, noting he (and RVB) got the best of Ortmann and Dorrestein in a couple drills—eek left tackle—and claiming he is "primed for a big season." I might switch my twitter wishing well request to this one.
Also: maybe we will get some use out of a Grady after all. Kelvin Grady was widely expected to spend this year fastened to the bench as he reacclimated to football, but after some impressive performances (including one sweet practice catch I mentally filed as IN, 1, protection N/A—WOO FOOTBALL COMIN') in practice Rodriguez thinks he'll see the field:
"We’re not in full pads yet, but what I’ve seen in three days, Kelvin Grady’s going to play for us this year. He’s a very quick learner, he’s very coachable, he’s got ball skills. And I think we have a position that fits him perfectly in that slot."
At the very least it's another shot at a punt returner who won't fumble the ball. Here's some high school video to whet your appetite and not remind you of McGuffie in any way:
i live just a couple miles from east grand rapids, so i've seen them a lot over the years...and have to say, i always liked kelvin more than kevin in high school. kevin was just bigger than most of the 5'-10", 180-pound safeties in the O-K conference; he didn't have much burst but didn't need it. obviously, that's hampered him in d1 (that and the grips). kelvin always had nice moves and an extra gear, skills that translate pretty well to d1. he could be really, really good in the open field for us.
That run is actually at Lowell. # 7 for Lowell is Sparty potential qb Keith Nichol. #2 is Mike McElroy who is currently the starting safety at Southern Illinois. #4 is Torsten Boss who is a baseball player at MSU and was Mr. Football in Michigan last year.
Please, just put Greg Matthews back there to return kicks and punts (as he did back in the '07 season). He might not have the speed to break a long return, but, at least he can catch and hold on to the ball.
"I'm Leslie E. Miles and I approve of this message."
FWIW, I had a friend on the team who was a senior when Savoy was a freshman, and he said Savoy had star potential, but was concerned about, in the parlance of Carr times, him getting on the right page. That obviously hasn't happened but my impression is it's not for lack of talent. And last year Rodriguez singled him out as the best blocking WR, something that's probably more important in the spread than in pro-style offenses. So maybe he's an asset in that regard.
my brother was a manager for 4 years under mo, and he's said many times that wr blocking was a major point of emphasis - they were constantly coached on blocking "attitude" (as in the infamous "hit until the END of the sound of the whistle") and technique. i agree that nfl wr blocking is not much, but it hasn't been at michigan.
ever since he told me that, i've always watched for it, and very, very few of our wideouts over the years have been half-assed blockers. many - not just the possession-types like avant, walker, walter smith and yale vandyne (i know, obscure reference but i'm blanking) but also the deep threats like edwards and terrell and sometimes manningham - have been devastating.
We have had some great WR blockers, as you say. Avant, for my money, was the best, with Braylon a close second. What I should say is that it's not a greater point of emphasis, but that it may be more critical to the spread scheme, where sometimes you're counting on a flanker's block to create space on the outside, and establish the lanes needed to spring the ball carrier free.
On Grady's Ringer-like run, I'm assuming the flag was for a block in the back? Lame call. Defensive player decided to just turn his back as the blocker was coming. Shouldn't be rewarded. I'd like MHSAA to retroactively award the TD to Grady.
It's punt returner. It's "see ball, catch ball, run forward and try not to get tackled". A true freshman can handle that. I could give a crap what year the returner is as long as he does the first two parts correctly every single time. Part 3 is optional given last year's debacles.
Right, but what I mean is it takes none of the things that usually keep true freshmen off the field or limit them. There's no scheme to learn or plays to learn. It's simply "catch the damn ball", purely physical action. Whoever can consistently catch the ball, no matter what class year, should be the ones we put back there. I don't care how explosive they are, if they continually put the ball on the ground they're going to cost us big unless they're 2006/2007 Devin Hester-good when they do manage to hold onto it.
Cissoko showed a lot of explosiveness, but he had a lot of drops and fumbles too. I am a fan of using talented frosh on kick returns, provided they can protect the ball. It gives them a chance to get on the field and use their raw athleticism to make plays when they may be otherwise limited in the offensive scheme. Punt returns, though, make me nervous because of their higher degree of difficulty. Those are high pressure plays, especially now without the halo rule to protect you. It takes a lot of poise to concentrate, make the catch and hang on to the football with nine guys running downhill full speed to rip your head off. PR is a position where sometimes having an experienced, sure handed guy like Mathews or Warren is the better option.
It's appalling to see that RR had the entire team come over to personally, one by one, thank Al Glick for making the practice facility possible. I'm sure ESPN will devote all the time to this incident that it did to Wermers and Feagin.
Occasional excess is necessary to remedy the deadening effects of moderation.