News bullets and other important things:
Elliott Mealer would start at left guard if there were a game tomorrow. He plays faster, has better technique, and has more confidence.
Pipkins was hurt during one-on-one drill. He is now fine and practicing in full pads.
Justice Hayes is getting more reps. Hoke is hoping to develop him more.
Roundtree is recovering well. Was in pads and running yesterday.
Will Campbell is practicing at the 3-tech DT position. Richard Ash, Quinton Washington, and Ondre Pipkins are practicing at the nose.
Team will be practicing at Ford Field today to simulate playing in an indoor stadium.
“Is everybody ready? Yeah? Good. Ahem. This is our 19th practice today [ED-S: He means of the fall camp, Mr. Rosenberg]. I think you can tell it’s the 19th practice in some good ways and in some ways that -- they’re starting to get tired of punching each other, hitting each other, you know, those things that go along with preparing for football. That’s the good thing about it. I think we’re making some progresson a daily practice when you look at where we’re at as a football team, where we’re at with trying to bring some guys who haven’t played much football at Michigan. We’ve got that in the defensive front, a little bit on the offensive front who haven’t played in games, really. So that’s coming along. It’s a little bit of a process to make sure that we’re getting all we can out of them without going over the edge. I think we’re making progress. I like how they’ve come to work every day. I’m happy, somewhat, where we’re at.”
[After THE JUMP, the questions.]
How’s the battle at left guard playing out?
“Well I think Elliott Mealer’s really done a nice job, and I think right now if we were playing tomorrow, he’d be the guy. Joey’s competing, but I think Elliott, and you’d love to see it about a guy who’s a senior -- his work ethic, his leadership, I think the maturation process, I’m really excited for Elliott as much as anything else as much as our football team.”
How’s Kalis doing?
“He’s not well back, but there’s competition up front, and he’s part of that competition. Joey Burzynski’s part of that competition. I know Darryl’s done some things with moving him around a little bit, trying to find those seven or eight guys that can fit and can play a lot of positions.”
What has Elliott done to separate himself?
“You know I think he’s playing faster, I think he’s playing with better technique. I think when you look at pad level and those things, and he’s finishing things better. We think it’s more of confidence -- he’s got his confidence level at a high level.”
What was encouraging from your scrimmage?
“I thought Saturday was pretty competitive. I thought it was physical on both sides of the ball, which I think we were all very pleased with. It wasn’t perfect in any way. There were some mistakes and blown assignments, but when you looked overall at the effort, which is the number one thing I’m going to look at and the toughness that we play with, I was pretty excited Saturday after watching the tape about where we had been earlier to what we were on Saturday, and now we’ve got to keep progressing from there.”
How is Pipkins?
“He’s fine. You know, our medical staff here did a phenomenal job of taking the right precautions and all that. Yeah he’s back, full pads, doing everything … I was there and we didn’t think it was going to be real bad, but you’re not sure. It was my drill, just a one-on-one drill.”
How is he progressing?
“He’s making progress. I think a lot of those freshmen guys, all of them, really, they’re all making progress. This is big boy football. It’s a little different, so the speed of the game is usually -- the physicalness of the game, the burst, the intensity, you know, is always hard. This has been a grind for them from the standpoint of we just finished classes again I don’t know how many days ago, but it seems like it hadn’t been that long ago, and now they’re in the middle of camp. Everything’s a little more intense. Coach Wellman’s a little more intense than high school.”
How do you notice the freshmen linemen getting acclimated to how physical practices are?
“Well I think they’re doing a good job. I think all those guys, both sides of the ball, from day one when you start putting shoulder pads and helmets on to going full pads and now having two a day practices and all that, I think they’re all figuring out that these fundamentals and techniques coaches talk about, probably is going to be important for me to survive.”
Is Roundtree close to practicing?
“He’s close, he’s way ahead. I shouldn’t say that, because that sounds like I really know I’m a doctor. He’s progressing nicely.”
When do you anticipate his return?
“You know, I don’t want to speculate on that. He’s running. I’ve seen him run. He was in full pads today. Just doing stuff with the trainers and those people.”
Have you made a decision on Fitz yet?
What does he have to do to earn his way off suspension?
“He’s got to demonstrate that he’ll do the right things.”
Does his legal situation play into that?
“No. Well, the legal situation is why he is suspended, but …”
I mean more in terms of how you might reinstate him …
Is some of this due to your gamesmanship to leave Alabama guessing?
“No. I really don’t care. No it’s not.”
What about Clark?
“He’s in the same boat right now. They’ve both got an oar.”
Just one oar?
“They’ve each got one. It’s chained boats.”
How are the reps being divided between the running backs in practice?
“You know, pretty even. Fitz and Thomas and Justice -- I think Justice we’ve given a lot of reps trying to develop him a lot more. And then Fitz has taken some reps in there, just like Frank, they’re taking some reps in there.”
Where are you right now in the Gardner experiment?
“I think we’re liking when he goes out there and liking when he’s taking snaps under center. Devin’s an athlete.”
Do you expect Roy to play in the opener?
“I would think so.”
You always say the defense is only as good as the defensive line. How do you like your defensive line right now? How is Will Campbell doing?
“Thanks for reminding me. Well, we’ve been throwing Will a little bit more at the three-technique … Richard Ash and Quinton Washington and Ondre and Ryan Glasgow have been playing a lot of the one. We felt we needed to -- Jibreel’s going to be able to play the three. At times you’re going to need a little heavier package in there, bigger guy, and Will gives you that. So we’ve kind of been trying to get as multiple as we can. When Chris Wormley got hurt, that affected a little bit posssibly in the rotation is one of those young guys -- we have to do a better job teaching some guys how to play that. Will’s had that experience at it, so he’s doing a good job with that.”
MGoQuestion: Does Will Campbell go against Ricky Barnum in one-on-one drills in practice?
“Yeah we always go ones and ones, twos on twos.”
MGoQuestion: Right now who’s getting more push between the two of them?
“I would say they both push pretty well.”
How do you feel a guy as small as Jibreel Black is going to handle Alabama’s offensive line?
“We’ll find out. That’s the fun part. He’s decent sized. Your fundamentals and techniques are always what’s important.”
When will you start installing the game plan vs. Alabama?
“Well we kind of have been. As we go along, there’s some similarities that we do defensively and our offense does that help us practicing against each other. I know when both sides of the ball will really start Thursday a little more into Alabama.”
How does this game help Michigan’s recruiting profile and push its name in a recruiting hotbed?
“Well I don’t know if we have to push Michigan’s name. I think it’s pretty significant. You know, I don’t, to be honest with you, think about that much. But obviously on national television …”
Did that come into play when you scheduled the game?
“That would be a question for Dave Brandon because I wasn’t here yet.”
At what point did you make a decision on how Gardner would split time between his two positions?
“I think with him, you don’t overload him at the receiver standpoint. We’ve had guys be dual players before. It hasn’t necessarily been a quarterback or a wideout. I think it’s possible, and Devin’s a very intelligent young man. He’s smart and picks up -- knows football pretty well. I think he’s done a nice job. We’re real comfortable where we’re at with it right now.”
What do you like most about him as a receiver?
“He’s big. He can run. He’s rangy.”
Will you continually re-evaluate how he splits time as the season progresses?
“That’s first and foremost how he handles it. Russell Bellomy’s progression, too. I think that’s part of it. Russ has done a nice job. He’s had a nice camp.”
Has he come closer to passing Devin?
“No I wouldn’t say that.”
With Roy out, have the other receivers taken advantage of the reps?
“Obviously I think Devin falls into that a little bit. I think we’ve become a little more multiple with Jerald and Jeremy Jackson being able to play the slot and the X. I think we’ve become a little bit more multiple I guess with those guys. Joe Reynolds has had a good camp, which is a guy who probably works as hard as anybody. He’s don e a nice job.”
This may not be a fair memory test, but when you were at Ball State, you recruited Toledo and Ohio pretty strongly. Do you remember if you had ever heard of Jordan Kovacs?
“You know what, I don’t remember him. I really don’t. I tell you how good a recruiter we were -- we turned down Jake Ryan at San Diego State, and we had recruited his brother Connor to go to Ball State. So I remind Jake that we didn’t want him.”
How unusual is it that you see a guy bloom that late?
“It probably happens more than we all think. But we’re talking about a guy who’s got an unbelievable, number one, love for Michigan, unbelievable pride and work ethic, football instincts that a lot of guys don’t have, and he’s got a football intelligence. You’re talking about Jordan, right? He has those things. I tell you he’s an important part of us, and he’s fun to be around.”
Is Matt Wile still ahead of Will Hagerup for the punting position?
“I think it’s really neck and neck right now. They both punted well Saturday, and we got after them pretty good with pressure and everything. I was very pleased with how they punted Saturday.”
Return game? Norfleet?
“This is a guy that has a specific skill when you look at a return guy. He’s a good hand-eye coordination guy. He’s not afraid, which you have to -- can’t be afraid when you’re doing that job. It’s like playing corner. If you get beat, you better learn from it but forget about it. I think it’s the same thing as the return guy.”
Will you or have you done anything special to prepare for playing in a dome?
“Well we’re going to Ford Field tomorrow night. We’re going to go down there and change the environment up a little bit. Change it up a little bit. I think it’s good for us. Have some distractions that are built in when you do that, so we’ve been doing some crowd noise or whatever, some music. I think AC/DC was on today when we did some first down stuff. So we’re going to do that.”
Is it going to be more of a practice or a scrimmage?
“Practice with some situational -- two minutes. Put some high pressure stuff on them. See if they can stay focused.”
Did you do that at any point last year?
“I don’t think so. We practiced in a banquet hall during the bowl game. It was a good practice.”