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.
The young guys stepping in (including Christian Pace, who should still be in high school) have really stepped up this spring.
It's tough to put into words what Brock Mealer's story means to his younger brother. He leads by his actions. Elliott is proud of Brock, and thankful to the University of Michigan. Seeing what they've done for Brock reinforces the reason that he picked Michigan. Everything that Mike Barwis, Rich Rodriguez, and the entire Michigan community has done for Brock has been amazing.
Outside of his degree and the relationships he's formed, "If the only reason I came [to Michigan] is so my brother can walk again, then that'll make me happy."
Brock is progressing toward being able to lead the team out of the tunnel against UConn. He's an inspiration to the entire team.
This spring has given the defense confidence that they can step up. Now that they are familiar with the basic defenses, they can go into summer camp to get even more ready.
Mike Barwis's training has helped Craig gain weight. He can generate more force because his mass has increased without reducing his acceleration (actually improving it). Roh is up to about 250 pounds now.
Playing off the line at linebacker has given Roh more responsibilities. After the first couple weeks, the defense got their simplified assignments down, and that should cut down on big pays by the opposition. The stuff from last year's playbook is still around, and the hybrids make that possible. 4-3 and 5-man fronts are possible with the multiple schemes they have going now.
Last year, Denard was apt to run around in the backfield. This spring, he's more comfortable with the entire playbook and the passing game. He's been making plays all season with his arm and legs.
Regardless of who the quarterback is, he should be able to have success as long as the offensive line does their job. As long as the quarterbacks are able to help the team win, they can all play.
Rodriguez has stressed team chemistry a lot this offseason. It's at the best level that it's been under this coaching staff. Everyone on the team knows the pressure to win, and he doesn't need to remind the team of that. It's up to the seniors to help the young guys understand.
Having not only speed but also size on defense should help them achieve success this season.
The lack of quality depth was frustrating the past couple years, because guys would get tired and opponents would get big plays. A 3-3-5 might have been the stronger scheme for this team even last year, but the scheme wasn't the issue, it was breakdowns once guys got tired.
Ryan Van Bergen
Losing Brandon Graham won't hurt the line too much. Opponents won't adjust their schemes to account for him on one side of the line, and everything will be more balanced, like they see on film.
The scheme changes have helped the team this spring. Guys look a little bit more athletic than they did last year, without sacrificing strength. Short passes that hurt the team last year are getting shut down, and they now have the ability to bring pressure from different areas of the field.
RVB has been working on his pass rush. BG has been giving him pointers on how to get to the quarterback, and with Roh behind him, they should be able to get good pressure.
Trying to tackle Denard is like cornering a rabbit. Tate is more shifty than fast, so they don't have to chase him around quite as much. The DL is excited to face pocket passers this season, because they've already faced some of the fastest QBs they'll see in practice.
Each quarterback's touch on the ball is a little different. It requires mental adjustments to focus on making the catch. Denard has learned to take a little heat of the ball. Gardner has a bit lighter of a touch.
Roy doesn't have a preference between playing slot or outside wideout. He and Martavious Odoms will play whichever of those two positions they can help the team win.
The older wide receivers need to step up and teach those young guys the ropes. It's their responsibility to get those guys ready to play.
Roy has had success in the past two spring games because he just goes out there and tries to make plays. It's his job to score touchdowns, and that's what he's going to try to do.
Whichever running back gets the ball, he needs to go out there and get the job done. There aren't individual expectations for any of the guys, but there are expectations on the group as a whole.
The running backs rotated more in the spring game than they probably will during the seaosn. The coaches wanted to give everybody a chance to prove themselves, and let the younger guys experience what it's like to play in the Big House. In fall, there's a chance one guy can take control.
All the RBs have a close bond. There's no hidden agenda, because they just want the team to win. Shaw knows he has work to do this summer and fall if he wants to be the guy to win the job. He'd like to get better at pass blocking, but his speed and receiving abilities are his greatest assets.
The quarterbacks have progressed this spring. Even Gardner has progressed a lot in his first month of practice.
Denard is one of the hardest workers on the team, so Koger isn't surprised at how much he's improved. He's always in a good mood, and that rubs off on the rest of the team.
There's a friendly competition at TE between Koger and Martell Webb. When one is on the sidelines, he's proud of what the other is able to accomplish.
Seeing competition at QB is probably the most heartening thing I have seen this spring. RR could go from having one badly injured QB and two deeply flawed alternatives to three bona fide QB's. It would certainly help him execute his vision of what the football team should be.
As for the defense, they just have to improve a little bit to get to the eight or nine game mark this season. They have to improve enough to stop Purdue, Indiana, Illinois, and MSU. If they do that, this season will take care of itself, and they will be set up for that great 2011 that so many of us have been looking forward to.
Hopefully, this season is a lot more enjoyable than the last two have been.
I am really looking forward to seeing him in the slot and kr/pr roles this fall. He reminded me of Odoms in what I saw yesterday and being a shorter guy myself, I feel he will play with a complex. Speed, speed, speed.
"The early enrollees were a little nervous playing in the Big House."
When you think about it, even with only about 35,000 in attnedance that is probably more people than some of the freshmen played against in their entire HS senior year. Wait until they see 100,000+.
An optimist may say this old saying "Iron sharpens iron". It is hard to measure yourself by yourself, until you measure yourself by someone else who is pretty good. In short Michigan is getting better on both sides of the ball.
"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield" --Alfred Lord Tennyson/ John Sheridan B5
It just doesn't get old hearing about Brock Mealer's progress. That's awesome.
I loved RVB's comment about being excited to play a pocket passer at QB. After chasing around Denard, Tate and DG all off-season, playing one of the many slow QB's on our schedule will be fun for those guys. I expect a ton of sacks.
I took someone to The Big House for his first time, it's a trip to see the face when they walk into the stadium. Terrible spring weather felt more like November but always feels good to be there. Guardedly optimistic I am going to keep my feelings down so my objectivity will be better.
Anyone else think Roh is going to outgrow the linebacker position. Roh looks as if he could put on another 30 pounds easily over the course of 3 years. Roh still looks relatively slender to me.
Denard, in the little bit of running I have seen this spring looks to be cutting better and has added more wiggle to his running style. Denard seemed to usually make one cut and go on most of his runs last season.
Glad the QB's are not being made available to the media, answering the same question asked 40 different ways should be RR's responsibility.
on crowd size for the Spring came. I know the goal is to get 100,000+ but in my opinion, the only way this could even possibly happen is if they play an "actual" game. I have been to the last two Spring games and they are fun but not as interesting as an actual game would be. Throw in the factor of hit-and-miss weather in mid-April and crowd size becomes even more erratic. To even have a chance of bigger crowds, they need to play in an actual game format. I know this may not happen due to concerns such as injury but as a fan, I would love to see this.