Tight ends, like Toussaint, have been largely absent from the spring buzz thus far.
Fitz at TE, when did that happen?
A roundup of Spring Practice happenings, all of which should be taken only somewhat seriously. Steve Breaston was "Black Jesus" before he even set foot on Michigan Stadium turf. Patrick Omameh was instantly the star of Michigan's six-member line class despite his status as the least-heralded of any of them. Meanwhile, the warnings about future Bronco Dann O'Neill were immediate. On the other hand, Grady Brooks was supposed to be a ninja and Kevin Grady a ball of knives. Practice rumblings seem to have the same predictive power as recruiting rankings: far from infallible but equally far from useless.
Erm, so… yeah. I will believe this two to three years after I see it but apparently Denard Robinson is running with the ones a lot and looks "radically improved," according to one emailer. Forcier seems to have struggled in comparison. I'm a little leery of spring practice reports at all times and that goes triple when it comes to using a few spring practices to overrule what we saw in twelve games last year. The improvement Robinson would have to undergo—and the lack thereof from Forcier—to be a viable threat to start is vast. I'm filing this under "motivational tactic" for now. Jon Chait is on the "it could happen" side of the fence.
By all accounts, Gardner is considerably behind the two sophomores. If Denard is a capable QB this year his redshirt seems assured.
BONUS: here is Robinson running a long way, albeit with aid from crappy walk-on tackling.
I don't usually do this, but when you've spent a lot of time extracting the superfluous bits from AnnArbor.com's SEO-friendly headlines, this brings out your inner thirteen year old:
running backMike Cox closely this spring
Past the middle school bits is the picture of an emerging running back in Michigan's five-way spring derby. His high school coach hints at some of the practice reports coming from the usual sources:
“He’s tough as nails,” Driscoll said. “He’s very tough and they’re going to have a hard time with him because he’s a big guy that’s really fast. That’s the trouble. He’ll hit you, too. He’s not going to back down from anybody.”
Everyone else comes in for sporadic praise and criticism. There's no consensus on who might be emerging as a tentative (and largely ceremonial starter). Probably the biggest news is a lack of all-encompassing Fitzgerald Toussaint hype.
With Junior Hemingway and Je'Ron Stokes out there's not much on the outside and Roy Roundtree has moved there intermittently in sets with Martavious Odoms and Jeremy Gallon at slot. When the outside guys return, Michigan will have three or four slots they'd like to work into the lineup.
Here's Odoms answering some questions:
Odoms remains an endearingly terrible interview, but the mention of more two-slot formations is something to pay attention to. Tight ends, like Toussaint, have been largely absent from the spring buzz thus far.
Jerald Robinson has been the most impressive freshman so far, but the outside receivers have been plagued by drops. Kelvin Grady has evaporated, for what that's worth.
On the offensive line, Schilling and Molk stand out to AnnArbor.com, which is not something I feel spectacular about since 1) Schilling is an established quantity entering his fourth year as a starter and 2) Molk is injured and not practicing.
Patrick Omameh is staying at guard for now, though I'm still holding out hope they shift him outside and let Ricky Barnum and Quinton Washington fight to the death for the spot. Four guys competing at tackle, two of them redshirt freshman and two of them upperclassmen who struggled badly in pass protection last year, is a sketchy situation. That has not come to pass, nor has either freshman pushed through into the nominal starting lineup.
I'm a little leery of a strapping 6'3", 208 pound kid who spent the brief duration of his Michigan career to date at wide receiver being the starting deep safety, but with Vlad Emilien out with a minor injury it's Cam Gordon who is the front-runner in the 2010 Grady Brooks Memorial Spring Hype Award chase. He comes in for mention by Rodriguez during a speech at a local football coaches' convention:
"Defensively, guys that have been impressive the last week or so, Kenny Demens, Cam Gordon, Craig Roh’s had a couple good days. Renaldo Sagesse, we were teasing him, Thursday he had the best practice since I’ve been here. I asked him what he ate for breakfast. I didn’t know if it was Canadian bacon or something, but he’s had a terrific spring."
It has been Gordon this, Gordon that at deep safety. This may be largely due to a lack of bodies. Justin Turner is practicing at cornerback, Vlad Emilien is injured, and the three guys who played the spot last year are either box safeties (Williams, Kovacs) or corners (Woolfolk). It's gotten to the point where Brandin Hawthorne, who was a high school defensive end (albeit a tiny one), is splitting time back there.
On the defensive line there's been a consistent stream of positives about virtually everyone. Sagesse, Campbell, and Banks all came in for specific praise from Robinson at today's press conference. Even longtime non-entity Adam Patterson is getting some praise at the defensive end spot he and Greg Banks are keeping warm for Mike Martin. Perhaps the biggest news is the Sagesse praise. If Sagesse is a legit option at DT, Michigan doesn't have to think about sliding Martin inside to platoon with Campbell. I think he will be. I like him in UFRs last year.
Demens, meanwhile, has been the only linebacker to get a fair share of practice hype. Ezeh and Mouton have not been mentioned; Roh comes in for praise as a 250 pound outside linebacker but that's not a surprise. I'm not sure what to make of that: Demens was behind a walk-on last year and didn't see the field even when Michigan was rotating their linebackers so they could yell at them better. His only appearances were on special teams and Michigan's goal line package. Maybe he's a guy who is aided significantly by the move to the 3-3-5? If his issues were mental this defense allows you to do a lot of blitzing and play downhill.
And then there's corner, where Justin Turner still lags behind JT Floyd. No offense to Floyd, but I think that gives everyone hives. Even if Demar Dorsey comes in and is lights out as a true freshman, he's a true freshman and having a hyped guy like Turner struggle to break into the starting lineup in a secondary this chaotic is not a good sign.
Also, Craig Roh coughs and answers questions:
(Odoms, Roh HT: The Michigan Faithful.)
Tight ends, like Toussaint, have been largely absent from the spring buzz thus far.
Fitz at TE, when did that happen?
It didn't, it is obviously a typo and lol @ "Mike Cox". Its ok to act 13 once in a while I think Brian.
It's grammatically correct.
Tight ends [the position group], like Toussaint[the running back], have been largely absent from the spring buzz thus far.
"Demens was behind a walk-on last year and didn't see the field even when Michigan was rotating their linebackers so they could yell at them better."
This line is hilarious. Thank you Brian for this instant classic.
My SWAG at the reasoning behind that is that there isn't any difference between big mistakes and little mistakes in that situation.
If you make a little mistake, it's a one yard TD. If you make a big mistake, it's a one yard TD.
I'm hoping that Demens has the athleticism to play and an understanding of the position that can be corrected.
I took it to mean that the tight ends as well as Toussaint have received very little buzz during the spring so far.
Yes, that makes more sense now that I read it after you said that. However it is still confusing.
Equally surprised about the Robinson/Forcier differences, but I agree that it sounds more like motivational speech than a clear shift at signal-caller. That said, it will be interesting to see if Robinson has made the supposed strides throwing the ball. If so, it certainly gives the offense a whole new dimension.
Also surprised that Fitz is a non-entity, but that is still one position I am not too worried about.
ooooo… oh, that guy looks open.
It was usually followed by a, "Crap."
Still really interested in seeing how his passing and understanding of the offense develops over the off-season... he just has more upside than Tate, and I have man-love for Tate.
I think the biggest factor for Denard will be if he can execute a good zone read. His passing only needs to complement that, a la Pat White.
Nothing in this summary is making me particularly happy. In fact, it's filling me with dread.
I'd love to see some more clarity from a team that desperately is lacking it. But again, it's only spring practice.
Yeah I felt pretty much the same way reading it. I'd like a little more clarification on the "struggles" Tate is going through in comparison to Denard.
The coaches aren't particularly looking for starters. Also, a lot of what we "know" about what players are doing right now is based on either inference or the observations of people who have seen a relatively small amount of what's going on...I wouldn't get too high or low, FWIW.
I agree. I think spring practice is all about teaching moments and learning/improving technique. I would be more concerned if I was hearing these same comments during summer practice.
Owned Brian, owned.
I didn't get the memo (like Miley) that Michigan already named its starting lineup after six practices of spring ball.
I see no reason to be concerned about the fact that the more experienced JT Floyd (who by all reports had a fantastic winter workout period) is getting marginally more reps than the redshirt freshman, who was reportedly very good in winter 7 on 7s.
Is it a bad thing to have two JTs that might actually be performing well? Just because Floyd is starting, it doesn't mean Turner is playing poorly.
Name those starters and start panicking.
A veteran starting over a redshirt freshman is not breaking news.
JT Floyd has apparently made great strides in the offseason, and makes up for his lack of ideal athletic ability with great savvy and knowledge of the D. DB is a position you can't afford to screw up at, so I'm extremely happy that JT Floyd is showing improvement.
JT Turner has an ideal frame, good measureables and great potential (hence the 5*'s) but reportedly a lot of work to do technique-wise. Cullen Christian is very similar in that respect. JT Turner not being the second coming of DWarren or Woodson isn't surprising.
I am very excited to hear DROB is making strides. I don't know how his HS coaching was, but seeing the offense he ran I doubt he had much mechanical coaching in high school. He has now had 9 months of college coaching to refine his delivery, I could see the improvements in one of the practice videos. His arm is plenty strong enough, and if his touch and accuracy have improved he could be one of the most dangerous QB's in the country.
I'm not a quarterback coach or anything, but does Denard's release point in that pic look a little, um, Quisenberry-ish?
+1 Dan Quisenberry references or the terrorists win.
Exactly, don't give them an inch.
Holy crap that Tekylve photo is straight up nightmare fuel. Those uniforms, that skeletal frame, that outfilder's glove on a pitcher, those transition lenses! AHHHH it's too much.
the navel-covering waistband? God forgive the fashion sins we have committed and will commit.
Does Grady has evaporated mean that he's fallen so far on the depth chart that he's a non-entity, or has he actually evaporated off of the team? As a baskeball first fan, I'd be happy with the latter if it means he will be back to playing hoops full time next year.
Grady started off with glowing praise from the announcers, to the tune of 'former basketball player!' and 'great hands!'. Insert great catch. 'Former Basketball Player!!!!' and 'Great HANDS!!!!!'. Insert drops. Less praise from the announcers. Insert more drops. Delete from TV screen.\
I'm guessing 'evaporating' means that he can't make his way onto the three-deep at slot (even when there are two slots on the field) because of inconsitency catching a football. Which is too bad, because it would have been a great story and I'm sure he's a great kid.
Either way it appears the coaches early evaluation of him last year was mistaken, or that he had 3 great weeks of practice last fall and then fell off.
Actually, it might be the alcohol, but Brian hit the nail on the head.
We still have a long way to go before our first game. I'd expect the defense to play better than last season, but that isn't saying much.
The offense should improve as well, and we will know a lot more once the freshmen get here. I have hope.
What is that based on?
(I'm not asking that rhetorically.)
You make the call.
but I'm wondering where the thought comes from that Floyd is outperforming Turner. I heard (read?) one report that praised Floyd, and today Robinson said Turner was a work in progress, but have we heard anything else?
those that said that despite his late arrival, if he really would have stood out last season in practice that he would have played. That can certainly change, but for now we can put to rest the meme from last year that went: "he's been tearing it up in practice and the coaches were SO tempted to burn his redshirt but were smart and didn't."
The kid is tough, smart, hasn't whined about the lack of respect (here), never gets in trouble and is playing with a chip on his shoulder (not giving an inch or any pt), which I believe is a good thing. Just doing his job and coming hard to work everyday. I think y'all will be surprised this yr.
Hope Tate shows maturity both on and off the playing feild this year.
If he is in fact a Pat White clone (the evidence is compelling) it would make sense if he had a breakout sophomore season. Who knows what White may have looked like as a true freshman had he played. And as for Rasheed Marshall, in his limited playing time he was an up-and-down guy like Robinson (from what I have heard, which may or may not be credible). Perhaps Robinson's second year in a winged helmet will be similar to White and Marshall's second years as Mountaineers. I don't think it's fair to write him off right now.
is a mug's game, especially if it's based on anything coming from the walking undead zombie transmogrified corpse of the AA News and its crack reporter David Birkett. I'm just going to enjoy the sunshine at the spring game. There'll be plenty of time to obsessively worry in the fall.
It's all about DENARD
After hearing all this news about him I really want him to get the ball a lot more this year. Get him on the edge and let the speed do the rest.
I like that the coaches are starting to temper their enthusiam. Coaches are often from the school of building players up when things are bad and acting less than enthusiastic when things are going well. They want the players to stay positive yet focused.
The Denard Robinson thing is probably part of that, but also a measure of just how far behind he was last year. There's no way he should have had to see the field last season. Forcier was more able to because he was really coached up in high school. However, Robinson really getting the offense and becoming a servicable passer would give him a much, much higher ceiling than Forcier--which would bode well for this season and in the future.
Lump me in with Chait. From what I gathered, D Robinson's main drawback last season was his lack of familiarity with the offense. He's got the tools, just needs for the offensive system to become like second (and eventually first) nature to him, and I think he could be a huge competitor. It could happen, especially if Forcier lets attitude issues of his own (which have been rumored) close the gap.
is the better QB over tate when i see it.
Denard's progress, liking the idea. The conservative scared guy in me might prefer a settled QB situation, and the guy who is super-skittish after 2 years of terrible losses and attrition prays that Tate is a grownup if Denard is that good.
Memories are short, but there were suggestions Denard WAS that good when he first came along. And I agree with Zone Left, if last year hadn't been Armagideon Time (note old school Clash reference) Denard might be making a much-heralded debut this year.
Armagideon Time is a song originally recorded by Willie Williams, who is at least 400 times cooler than The Clash.
Hmmm, I may have to modify my Barwis Gym T-shirt to put "Hypertrophy, Bitches!" on the back...
Is this going to be an Oklahoma-spread offense or a WVU-spread offense.
I think the answer is getting more clear.
I just want to see some passes completed more than 15 yards from the LOS and outside WR's being something more the thin offensive linemen.
DRob is a special player, whether in a run-dominated qb offense or split out. If he can manage to, yeah know, pass the ball to maize and blue players consistently, I'm certainly on board with him at qb.
I was hoping these two seniors would be just clobbering people and setting a new tone for how this season is going to play out for the Wolverine defense. It's interesting that the player getting the most praise on defense is a RS Fr. 3-star, no. 82 ranked safety. Is this the part where I'm supposed to be relieved? Well strangely I'm not.
First of all, who cares what their recruiting rankings were if they're getting praise from our coaching staff when they are actually on our team. I'd much rather hear praise now than about the kid when he's still in high school. And who are you talking about? Cam Gordon? Both sites ranked him as a WR, and Rivals gave him 4 stars, so he's no slouch either way.
the potential to break a big run on any play raises the bar for the read-option. The read option is RR's bread and butter, and it's what he built a Div.1 program on. It's what he's built a coaching career on. I agree that Denard looks incredibly more like Pat White than Tate does. I still think Tate could be a better pocket QB, but Denard has the jets. My guess is that Denard will get every chance to start at QB this year. If Tate wins, then he is still head and shoulders above his competition. Either way our offense will be dangerous.
that nobody is saying our team looks terrible the way Brian Kelly is describing Notre Dame. I think it would make me feel better to see another program go through a rough transition like ours.