News bullets and other important things:
The team will have practice today, tomorrow, and Saturday mainly to show off for the high school coaching clinic and to work on fundamentals.
Chris Bryant is practicing primarily at right guard.
Hoke seems high on Joey Burzynski. He's been mentioned several times throughout the spring now.
Hopkins has put on some bad weight, but Hoke thinks he's done a nice job regardless. Thomas Rawls is also taking some snaps at fullback.
Justice Hayes was mentioned as a pleasant personnel surprise so far this spring.
Cam Gordon seems to be pushing Jake Ryan at SAM linebacker.
“This will be our seventh practice, which is -- you start finding out a little more about your team. Anytime you can get in pads is a plus, so we’ll find out a little more as we go through it. It’s kind of a busy weekend because our coaches’ clinic will have over 500 coaches here sharing ideas, talking football, some tremendous guys who have been very successful at the high school level. That’s good, but it’ll be busy. It’ll be good. We’ll get a lot done from our perspective. Practicing Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will help us a little bit, the consistency we need to play with. I like the energy. I like the energy of how we’ve come in a meeting atmosphere and out there on the field.”
Are you feeling better about your defensive line?
“I feel better because I think each one of those guys is improving. Probably not at the rate that we’ll ever be satisfied because of the expectations, but I think Will has really matured, which is a big part of it. [He] understands the expectations of how we expect him to play. Jibreel inside and Craig at the strongside end or the 5-technique is a plus. The competition with Beyer and Clark. Competition with Jake Ryan and uh, daggone it -- Cam Gordon. All those things are real positive. You look at a guy like Richard Ash. He’s getting a little better every day. As coaches you want him to get better faster. Him and Quinton Washington and Kenny Wilkins are doing some better things. We’re not where we need to be. Glad it’s not September 1st, but I think they’re really motivated to try and play the position the way we’d like for them to play it.”
What has Elliott Mealer done that you like, and is Chris Bryant being looked at for either guard position?
“When you look at Elliott, I think his confidence level is better, and that’s a big part of it. I think guys feeling confident and guys being in the system obviously helps. I think Chris has mainly taken snaps at right guard, but that doesn’t mean we can’t flip flop him. For a young guys, you’d like to keep him on the same side, the same stance. I think Joey Burzynski is a guy who’s made some real movement in how he comes out every day either at center or guard. I think we’ve got a pretty good group of guys competing.”
(more after the jump)
Are they started to be able to finish well in practice?
“I hope it doesn’t take time, but I think the consistency with how we want to play -- we’ve talked about finishing since a year ago January, since we’ve been here. Finishing games, finishing the fourth quarter, finishing November. That’s always something that we talk about. You’re not going to finish the others until you finish a practice. I think we’re understanding that concept.”
Do you expect freshmen to get in the mix at left tackle?
“Yeah, I think all across the front. I think there are guys that we need to try and see where they’ll fit. See how they compete and see how they learn. See how much physically they come in ready to play. I wouldn’t count any of the positions out, but Mike Schofield has done a good job at right tackle. We’re playing him a little bit at left [tackle] to see where our best seven or eight guys are. Giving Taylor a little bit of a break every now and then.”
Taylor Lewan said he’s getting more serious on the field. Have you seen that in practice?
“Yeah I think so. Since we’ve been here, I think he’s really understand that there’s a demeanor that we expect. Even though he’s not a senior, he’s played a number of snaps here, so he has that experience that you would expect a guy to probably be a little more assertive when things need to be more assertive and serious. Believe me, you want to have fun. Fun is winning. Preparing to win isn’t always fun. We just have to keep that in the right perspective.”
When you have a freshman trying to find a place in a thin position, how much expectation can you have for a player like that?
“If you don’t keep your expectations high and say this kid is only a freshman -- if we vary at all from those expectations, then we’re doing a disservice to Michigan football. That’s never going to change. We’re going to have those high expectations. How they come in this building. How they come into work. Whatever it might be. Doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman or not. There’s been an awfully good true freshmen play at Michigan who have played pretty well. If it is a true freshman or a redshirt freshman, they have to meet those expectations.”
How has Stephen Hopkins looked at fullback? Is there anyone else, like Thomas Rawls, that you’re giving a shot at that position?
“I think Steph’s done a good job. If he can continue to grow from a maturity standpoint and continue to grow -- he’s probably a little overweight right now for what we’d like him [to be]. The weight would be okay if it’s all good body weight, but I like what he’s done. We put him in as a big tailback every once in a while. I think Joey Kerridge is doing a nice job. He’s a guy who walked on. I think he’s done a nice job.”
What size do you want him at?
“I think the size will vary on body fat and all those things.”
Have you had any additional attrition?
What are the advantages of having three straight practices over the weekend instead of spacing them out?
“I think two things. The consistency that we can have daily. Now obviously we’re not going to practice tomorrow as we will today or as we would Saturday. It will be a shortened version, no pads, helmets only. But it will be a high focus on the techniques and fundamentals. I think that’s an important part of it. When you look at it from that, I think you get three days in a row of it, for maybe a young guy, whose expectations we have that are high, really pounding those fundamental drills for three straight days.”
Is there a science to how you plan out your practices?
“I don’t think it’s a science. I’ve never been confused with a scientist or anything like that. I think there’s no question if there’s a method to the madness of how you want to improve guys. I think it’s one thing this staff does every day. We meet after we have situational scrimmages or whatever it might be. We go through the guys. Who did better, why, what’s he have to work on, whatever it might be. At the end is to make every one of these guys a better teammate and better player.”
Do you do scrimmages throughout or save it until the end?
Have there been any pleasant surprises in terms of your personnel?
“I would say Rawls is a tough -- we’re playing him a little bit at fullback, not a lot. He’s a pretty tough guy running the football. He’s got to take care of the football a little better. I think Hayes has shown things with his abilities. I think the linebacker position is a very competitive position. Having Joe and Kaleb in the mix a little bit puts a little pressure on some of the older guys. I think Jarrod Wilson is working well right now at safety. I really like the way Roy roundtree has come out every day and what he’s given, Gallon … I would say the competition level with Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer. I think the competition level with Jake Ryan and Cam Gordon. Cam’s a little bigger, a little stronger, a little more physical. I like all that that’s going on. Now how much I like it is a five on the scale of one to 10, but that’s okay, too.”
Now that the Big Ten and Pac-12 are scheduling games together, how much input do you have with Dave Brandon in picking the team Michigan plays?
“Dave and I talk about schedule all the time. He is a great atheltic director. He really thinks things through really well. Our communication on all that stuff is at a high level.”
Would you ever be in favor of the NCAA allowing you to scrimmage another team during the spring?
“I think that would be kind of cool. I’ve thought of it before. Whether we do like the NFL, different teams going to different places, interacting for two days, three days, off of that model -- I thought that would be kind of neat if you could do that.”
When you have a guy like Taylor with a personality, how do you get him to temper it?
“The one thing you don’t want to do is you don’t want to take that personality or energy away from him. But you do want to communicate and educate on there’s a time and a place just like for everything in life. There’s a time and a place to react a certain way, act a certain way -- there’s a time and place for it. I guess it’s a lot of educating and a lot of just communication and discussion.”
Mattison has said that Thomas Gordon needs to play more recklessly and Blake Countess needs to step up his game. How are they doing, and is anyone pushing them for their spots?
“I like how both of them have responded. When you look at the effort and all those things that both those guys are practicing with, playing with, whether it’s in the defensive mode or in the kicking game, the different things we’re trying to get done -- I think they’re really doing a nice job. The one thing about both those kids [is] they’re highly coachable. They’re really into their teammates and the game. They want to do a good job as a teammate.”
Back to the practice schedule with the three days in a row thing, what do you gain out of setting it up like that?
“Well, part of it is because we have a clinic every year, and part of what high school coaches like is seeing drill work and fundamental work and all those things, so that’s a big part of it. The other part is I think it gives us an opportunity to go pretty heavy today, to back it off a little tomorrow but at the same time the fundamentals and techniques, trying to re-emphasize those things that we really believe in here.”