photo from file
Today was the fourteenth practice of fall camp. There has been improvement on both sides of the ball, but it's important to continue improving consistency.
Freshmen - Almost completely done with academic stuff for summer. "They're hit and miss a little bit with meetings, hit and miss with the period of practice times and all that." A couple of those guys will be able to help the team.
Academics - "I don't think we've had too many guys slide backwards, or not do what they're supposed to do." The guys are taking care of business, and the coaching/support staff is helping them understand their responsibilities. Got some grades back today that were all pretty good. He doesn't anticipate any issues academically.
Scrimmage on Saturday - "I want to see us #1 go out there and we're treating it like a gameday... I want to see how they prepare for that scrimmage, from a mental standpoint." Saturday is only two weeks away from the first game, so they need to be prepared and ready to perform.
Miami violations - only worried about making sure everything is handled right at Michigan. "Educating everybody. Our kids, first and foremost, on being a student athlete, what that's all about."
Corwin Brown - "Our thoughts are with him and his family. We think about him every day. He's a Michigan Man."
Taking care of the football pretty well offensively. "That's one we need to be always on guard. Last three years we're minus-32 in turnover margin, and that's not winning football."
Borges - "I think he's really hands-on [with QBs]. I think because of Al's knowledge of the quarterback position... I just think I like how he teaches and like how he coaches, with the demeanor he does that with."
Denard - completing 70% of passes right now. That includes any drill that has a competitive aspect. "We may not be tackling and doing all that, but we chart every throw." He's at the point they'd want him to be a couple weeks out from the first game. "I think he's done a good job." Denard has hit the timing routes well, and the ball is coming off quicker. "You've gotta give the guys catching the ball credit, because I think their route-running is better."
Denard - "He wants to be one of the great Michigan quarterbacks. And so does Devin Gardner." They're learning and understanding what a Michigan QB is. It's helpful to have a second QB get a few reps early in the year in case you need him later. Gardner - "I like his maturity, and just his body language and everything else." He's not at the 70% number that Denard is - between 59-62%.
RB - still an open competition. "I don't think we've seen any separation by anybody yet." Nobody in particular has the advantage. "At times Vince looks good, Hop looks good at times, Shaw looks good, Cox does some things in there. And I'm probably forgetting a guy." Disappointed that nobody has separated? "I'd probably not be truthful if I said no." All the guys are working hard, but nobody has separated as the #1 yet.
"I would say probably 2 or 3" starting positions on defense are set by now. Woolfolk and Martin have had nice camps, and Kovacs has had a nice camp. The other positions aren't quite settled.
Do they have defensive playmakers - "You've gotta understand, I'm real hard on a defense now. I'd say no."
On D, there are a lot of packages, trying to focus on the ones they're most comfortable with. "From a defensive standpoint, I think we were tighter on the coverage part, I think we were faster in hitting from point A to point B, whatever that point might be, and that's a plus."
We'll get to the quarterback. "I think we've made a really good stride from let's say practice 7 to 14, whether it be a 3-man rush and pushing it, or whether it be bringing 5 on a zone blitz, or bringing all of them on a zero blitz." They have lot of different looks to give the QB.
"Brink has really had a good camp. He's a kid that really I think is a tough kid and plays with good technique." His emergence since spring was a welcome surprise. "I think it's real healthy for us" to have a walk-on like Brink to push for playing time. That's a credit to Brink. Will Campbell - "He's competin', he'll compete, and then we'll go from there." Brink can play multiple positions, so he's not necessarily taking a spot from Campbell.
Martin - "We've just gotta stay fundamentally sound with him. That's his biggest obstacle at times. He's not following through on the basic fundamentals once in a while." He's working hard and showing good endurance, however.
Secondary play - We have to play tighter.
Kicking - "we did some things up at the stadium the other day, and I thought Gibbons kicked very well. I think it's still a great competition, and I wouldn't say we have who it is. I think Wile's doing a nice job in both, well all three of them really. I imagine he'll be our kickoff guy for sure. I think he's punting pretty daggone well." Field goals still a competition.
"I feel like, as of right now, we aren't where we want to be. We want to be perfect." All the coaches preach toughness, and going the extra mile. The players have to focus on the details, and everybody has to put in the work.
Hoke's attention to the defense makes practices challenging. "We need that challenge. We have to play under that pressure."
"It doesn't mean too much" that he's not one of the players Hoke listed as starters. Missing spring ball meant he had to catch up physically, though it did give him some extra time with the playbook this spring.
The coaching staff is great at breaking down the scheme so players understand their roles. "It's all just one big piece to the puzzle."
Some young players are stepping up: "We have Desmond, we have Jake Ryan stepping up, we have Jordan Paskorz, who's competing."
The team hasn't watched any film of last year's defense. They have watched a few clips of the Baltimore Ravens from last year, to demonstrate certain techniques.
Defensive identity? "I want it to be like how it used to be... We're just gonna be tough. A tough defense this year."
There hasn't been too much change for the offensive line. They ran zone schemes last year, they ran power last year. "We just block the plays that are called." They're putting a bigger emphasis on the downhill running plays this year. Time of possession will be an important part of this year's game plan. "Staying on the field as an offense."
Mark has game experience at both guard and tackle, so whichever he's called upon to play won't affect his game.
Denard is getting more comfortable in the offense, and sitting in the pocket. It'll be nice for the offensive line to have a returning starter. "It helps a lot for consistency, because you've got the same guy back there. You know how he plays, you know what he's capable of."
David Molk is a great leader. He works really hard in the weight room, which inspires his teammates. He's a vocal leader as well, and he's proven his leadership on the field. "It's always good to have at least one guy who'll do all that stuff."
Nathan Brink is a very hard worker, and he has good technique on the field. "He comes off the real hard. And he uses his hands well, too."
"I'm doing better [than spring] but I've always got time for improvement. I'm not there yet." He's used to the plays now, because he practiced them with his wideouts all summer. "Every time I had a chance to get in, I got in."
Greg Mattison always has some crazy blitz schemes in practice. "He's making me a better quarterback... and I'm quick on my toes." Despite Mattison's blitzes, they're able to pick up protections. "I know I've got the best offensive line in the country, and I can sit back there for a while." There's good chemistry between Denard and the line now.
"I am running less, and I'm enjoying it. I love seeing Vincent and Shaw and Mike Cox and Stephen Hopkins make plays off the run." Last year, the coaches were drilling him on trusting the line to give him time before he needed to take off.
Roy Roundtree, Jeremy Gallon, Junior Hemingway, Je'Ron Stokes, and Terrence Robinson are some of the receivers who can go get the ball.
"Michael Vick and Peyton Manning. You've gotta say those two. I love watching those guys play, and Tom Brady." Even though they have different playing styles, they can stand in the pocket and make the throws, and are willing to take off if the checkdown isn't available.
There's a friendly QB competition between Denard and Devin Gardner. "Devin's probably one of the best quarterbacks I've seen."
The footwork "is one of the biggest things I had to work on. You know, that's what we had to do the whole offseason. Just work on timing and footwork." Coach Borges worked with him on taking his step up in the pocket forward, instead of taking a hop-step in place.