Dear Diary Adds to the Wood Bling

Dear Diary Adds to the Wood Bling

Submitted by Seth on August 30th, 2013 at 12:07 PM

First some housekeeping things:

One: Meet the new tshirts:

Chicken_4C_T_1024x10241784_21_inch_rubber_chicken_1__96610.1375991605.400.400

The chicken one is a LIMITED EDITION we're printing just for this game, since afterwards there won't be any more of the cluckers around to show it to. We will be collecting orders and shipping out on 9/3. After 9/3 we will print limited run extra but then when we are out we are out, so get on that now. Also recommended: bringing rubber chickens to that game (we're not responsible if they get confiscated.)

Two: Reminder: Next Friday at MGoTailgate (on Berkeley across from the stadium), free beer, meet Marlin Jackson and others, learn things, be social.

On with the show.

There are just…

IMG_3915 plus-sign-md Fuller - Ross2

…and-a-half hours until Michigan football. As such the users have gone into their regular pre-season epic content production mode. Let's just get right to it starting with Diarist of the Week and personal favorite MCalibur.

Wait, first let's do Things You're Not Allowed to See. The first rule of Fall Camp is what happens in Fall Camp stays in Fall Camp, unless some dude spills the beans to his friend and he puts it in a diary and we confirm things like Garder==awesome, Fitz==awesome, Butt==feasible in a Funchess-last-year kind of way, OL looks like 1997's, DL depth charts are deep, Wilson is still learning, kicking==good.

Also the first rule of Mott Scrimmage is what happens at Mott Scrimmage stays at Mott Scrimmage (unless someone writes it up as a Diary that pretty much saw everything I saw). Speaking of scrimmages reshp1 went and UFR'd everything from the scrimmage featured in Countdown to Kickoff last week.

Also also the first rule of Camp Michigania is what happens at Michigania is really boring and I don't want to hear it. Anyway I can already see everything you did because it's on your kid's activity bling:

Michigania

Yes, Lizzie has been cited for improper logo use and will serve a three-game 'timeout'

Wait, Lloyd? Okay I'm sorry;  tell me tell me tell me tell me!!!! Now on to MCalibur.

[…after the jump. Also after the jump: Gardner footwork analysis, Dave Brandon's rape noodle, and other stuff]

A Visit from Saint Al

A Visit from Saint Al

Submitted by Seth on December 26th, 2012 at 11:27 AM

via MGoBlue via Thorin

On Denard, On Devin, On Russ Bellomy! On Morris, On Swieca, On Jack Kennedy!

The latest practice report is slim on information as per the norm. Bullets anyway:

  • In the video Denard takes one snap with the twos (Glasgow and Braden appear in the picture), that being a QB run. He is still wearing the RB-style gloves.
  • Devin appears once in a pass skeleton, completing a pass to Jackson.
  • Norfleet is covering a scout teamer who is wearing 82 but is obviously not Darboh. Not-Darboh has at least 20 inches in that matchup. Hoke says he expects Norfleet will play in the bowl game.

That is all.

Saturday Punting Demo Bits

Saturday Punting Demo Bits

Submitted by Brian on August 27th, 2011 at 2:57 PM

So the open practice on Saturday was not much use. They spent most of the day punting or kicking or running kneel-down drills. By the tenth kneel-down the boredom was crippling and I wished they weren't having it at all. I'd be surprised if it returned for a third year. I kind of hope it doesn't since I have to be there if it exists.

They did run about ten minutes of two-minute drill at the end. Impressions follow.

Ricky Barnum is injured. He dressed but did not participate; he's got a big ol' brace on his left knee. He was out there so it's probably not too serious. He might miss a week or two. In his stead Schofield drew in at guard. They initially played him at RG, moving Omameh to the left. The two Gs swapped positions late.

Raymon Taylor was also banged up and held out.

New numbers are confusing. That is all.

I don't think Isaiah Bell was out there. There was no 34 in white (defense). Unless he's just switched to a new number that would be a sign he might not be on the roster much longer. Either that or he's hurt, but Hoke just said they were basically healthy.

Woolfolk did position drills but did not play in the two-minute drill, FWIW. Bellomy didn't take any snaps.

The defense has a three-man-line rush package. We're going to see a Shafer-style okie package on passing downs with three linemen, four or five linebackers and DBs hovering over the opposing OL. The D zone-blitzed like mad from that unit, often dropping guys like Mike Martin into zones. The O did a pretty decent job of picking the blitzes up but Roh got in for a touch sack and Denard had to scramble around a bit.

Denard had a hard time finding receivers. A few crisp rhythm throws, a lot of ball-patting, scrambling, and difficult sideline improv throws. Not sure if that's on him or the WRs. Gallon twice ran comebacks that the quarterbacks expected to be fly routes, so they've got some pro-style sight reading in the O. Not functional sight reading, but sight reading nonetheless.

There was only one running play, a QB draw on the first snap that went for eight or so yards and would have gone for more if they weren't playing touch.

Non-Hagerup punters are C- types. It's not going to kill Michigan to have Hagerup out; the punting will be sub-average until he returns.

Gibbons hit a 42-yard field goal to finish. The crowd went wild.

Under center: not so much. There was no under center. Part of that is the two minute drill, but the passing skeleton was a 3x1 four-wide shotgun set as well.

Gallon didn't do anything horrible returning punts. So we've got that going for us. I still think Dileo should get a shot.

There are some weird players on the special teams units. Gunners included Vincent Smith and Fitzgerald Toussaint; Hopkins and Shaw were on the kickoff team. Junior Hemingway was one of the upbacks on the punt team. That's all of our fragile offensive skill players save Denard.

Fall Camp 2011: Presser Notes 8-26

Fall Camp 2011: Presser Notes 8-26

Submitted by Heiko on August 26th, 2011 at 7:47 PM

(Newsy bits pulled out for easier digestion. Important stuff underlined for better clarity. [Ed: jk, I guess we're still bolding.])

Brady Hoke

Again, from not my file, but we'll get there soon.

News Bullets:

  • Gallon, Dileo, and Vincent Smith handling returns
  • Odoms is healthy
  • Starting O-line, from left to right: Lewan, Barnum, Molk, Omameh, Huyge
  • Shaw starting RB, Fitz likely back-up (based on mention only)
  • Thomas Gordon likely starting free safety, may play nickel along with Woolfolk
  • Cam Gordon starting at SAM, no starter at WILL yet.
  • Gibbons likely kicking FGs. Wile will kick off, also might punt. 
  • Started prep for Western Michigan two days ago.

Okay, on to the poetry.

General, aka fluff:

Footbawww. "It was really good to get up in the stadium, get up there and kind of go through our process on gameday, so guys get an idea what our expectations of mentally preparing for a game -- how you come out, where you go with your group to warm up -- all those things that we don't think about, but they're all organization things you've got to go through. We got to do that, we got to be in that locker room, go down the tunnel, and get a sense for playing in that great stadium."

Consistency. Toughness. Improving. "This was practice 23. We have six opportunities left. We have to keep grinding and keep improving as a team. There were some good things you saw on both sides of the ball, but at the same time we're a long way from where we need to be as a football team."

We need to stop false-starting. "We had a couple penalties today, two of them were composure and poise penalties. We had a full Big Ten crew working the scrimmage. It was a much lighter scrimmage than it was a week ago. Our composure and our poise -- we had a couple procedure penalties offensively that obviously don't help you. Instead of first and 10, you're first and 15 or you're second and 12 or whatever it might be. Those things bother you."

But we didn't fumble or throw INTs! "We took care of the ball pretty well. When you look at the ball security issues ... that's huge for us. We've been minus 32 in turnover margin the last three years. You can't play football that way."

What is the two deep? "I think there are things that are set. We'll do a good job of diving into the tape tonight and further some evaluations on guys. The corner position is hotly contested. I like how JT and I like how Troy have come back, but Courtney Avery and, oh, daggonit, uh..." Talbott? "Calvin! Yeah ... " No, Talbott. " ... Talbott is doing a good job. I just went blank... I'm good with numbers ... Number 18, Blake Countess is doing a good job. Greg Brown is playing well. There's great competition there."

How is health? "We're pretty good health wise." Nothing major? "No, no ... everybody's a little beat up." Tay Odoms? "He scrimmaged today. In fact, he's gone the last three days. He seems fine."

Return game? "Gallon -- both kickoff and punt -- has done a good job. I think Vince Smith in kickoff returns is a guy that would either be the off returner because he's not afraid to go hit somebody in the face, or return the ball. Dileo -- punt -- when you look at punts, you always want to make sure that guy first and foremost is going to be able to field the ball, and isn't scared. I think between those two right now we'll probably start that way."

How many plays did you run in scrimmage today? "We went 126 plays last week. If my count's right, we'll probably get 73-74 today."

How many 4th and 1s? "One."

Did you do anything situational? "We did black-zone coming out, trying to get a first down so you have room to punt and field position. We didn't put it on the 1-yard line. We had a bunch of shots last week at it, and that was a pretty phsyical deal. You're starting to get to the point where you want to get into game week."

Were you surprised by the transfers? "I think you're always surprised, but guys gotta do what they feel is right for them. This isn't for everybody here, and it never will be. They're great kids, and we wish them the best."

But you recruited them! "That happens."

Resolution at some positions, can you share? "Mike Martin's probably going to be the nose tackle. Denard's going to be the quarterback." Oh. Ha ha. "Koger's going to be the tight end. Molk will be center. Lewan will be the left tackle. Huyge will be the right tackle. Patrick will be the right guard, and Ricky will be the left guard. Running-back wise I think we'll look into his tape a little more, but Shaw's had a pretty good camp. Fitz has had a good camp. Safety-wise, Kovacs will be one of those safeties at our base, and I would think Thomas Gordon will be. Thomas is really having a tremendous camp. He had a tremendous summer, and that's why his camp was so good."

Whoa, wait, where did Gordon come from? You never talk about him. "I just think his whole attitude and how he approached the game of football, workin' out, all those things. He's really taken a conscious effort. He'll play some stuff in our nickel. Him and Troy, depending on what unit we have out, they're both playing some nickel. Thomas is basically a dime in another defense. There is a lot of learning that goes on, and he's done a really good job with it, and I'm proud of where he's at right now."

SAM and WILL: "Cam Gordon, I would think, is going to be the SAM. Jake is obviously pushing in there. Brennan Beyer has done a nice job for us. At the WILL ... I don't know yet. Mike (Jones) and Kenny Demens (?) have done a good job, but at the WILL, Hawthorne missed a couple days because of an ankle, and he's fighting his way back. Mike Jones is playing a little bit of both them, both MIKE and WILL. Freshman Desmond Morgan is a good football player. He's got a slight ham, so we held him out today. I don't know if we have a definite guy."

Kicking and Punting: "There's no doubt Wile will kick off. I think Gibbons has done a nice job. He's been accurate. [Ed-M: whaaah?] We did a lot of kicking again today. He's had a good camp. Wile has had a pretty good camp. I think Wile will probably punt, but Seth is a real good possibility there. I think that will probably be a decision made up Wednesday or Thursday to be honest with you."

But that's really late! "You can do that one late I think." 

"They all have a real great mindset about their craft, and I like that about them. I don't know if I would have said that in the spring as much, but I think they all have worked hard at it. Every night they're evaluating their kicks because we film them a lot from all angles. You get a write-up from them, and some of them are a page, page-and a half about each kick and my plant foot and whatever it might be. I'm pleased that they're into football, let's put it that way."

You're a big tradition guy. What does it mean to be in stadium now? "Yeah it's always special to be in the stadium. We talk about that a lot, when we go up there, the expectation, how you play.  We had one other date that we were going to be there, but we had the bad rain and the storm, so we had to stay indoors. We were at [Big Ten Championship site] Lucas-Oil Stadium indoors for that day because all those scrimmages are gamedays. And the championship is played in Lucas-Oil, so we had to go indoors, we just thought it was lucas-oil." (I think Hoke means that they were playing make-believe.)

Minus blitz, how is the pass rush? "Mike gets some good push. I think he is a guy that is aggressive enough, strong enough, pretty good technician in there to push the pocket. I think Jibreel has shown some life as a pass rusher, and Roh. Ryan's kind of a meat and potatoes guy. He works hard at it, and because of that, he'll have some good things happen."

What's your schedule the next two days? "We're going to have a very good mental practice tomorrow at the stadium. Probably about an hour and fifteen minutes. A lot of kicking, a lot of situational stuff. A lot of mental stuff. We'll do a two-minute at the end. We've started Western -- we started about two days ago on some of the switch personnel things, looking at them on both sides of the ball, and we'll have a couple of periods on Sunday. On Monday, they'll be off of meat," (No meat!?) "but there will be no practice for them. We're getting into the school-time schedule where we'll be off as far as practicing goes."

BTN Practice Visit Twitter Dump

BTN Practice Visit Twitter Dump

Submitted by Brian on August 19th, 2011 at 12:27 PM

The Big Ten Network stopped by a Michigan practice and did their usual suite of impressions that may or may not mean anything. They totally could mean something and it's the preseason so you'll jump on the barest morsel of information, so here they are.

This year the quantity and quality of the observations are significantly reduced, FWIW. Last year there was a fourth guy (Griffith, I think) tweeting stuff and it seemed like they got more information out of it. UPDATE: Okay, Griffith was there. He updated later than everyone else; I've added them in.

Non-Informational

Along with a shot of the new "The Team The Team The Team" entrance, Brent Yarina provides this shot of another portion of the hallway:

michigan-natlchamps

The crew also hit up Maize and Blue Deli but did not spawn a war on the message board by expressing a preference for it over Zingerman's.

Players Of Note

Dave Revsine Robinson is the one guy who can beat you. D Gardner is also really impressive. D Morgan, Q Washington stood out among young defenders.

4 hours ago Favorite Retweet

Hurrah positive Quinton Washington mention. Also, leave Desmond Morgan alone: he is not a fullback yet.

Gerry DiNardo UM Prac - Good day today Smith,Gallon,Cox,Countess,Grady,Shaw,Wilkins,Ash,Black,Schofield , Washington,Lewan,Watson,Koger,Eddins

Okay, that's like half the team, including Steve Watson—who is never going to play—doghouse member Kenny Wilkins, and walk-on (and not even the hyped walk-on) Chris Eddins. At least you see Washington there too.

Howard Griffith@BTN_Michigan Other freshman that will see playing time CB Blake Countess, CB Raymon Taylor, LB Desmond Morgan, DE Brennen Beyer

5 hours ago Favorite Retweet Reply

There Is No Running Back

Dave Revsine Borges said he hasn't had a clear stand-out at RB. Wants to try to find one - but he hasn't emerged. Lots of options there, though.

Gerry DiNardo UM Practice - No veteran running back has really separated himself from the pack. Rawls has had a great camp and may be in the mix.

Howard Griffith@BTN_Michigan RB's haven't separated them self from the pack Smith, Shaw,Cox, Toussaint, but an keep & eye on Rawls. #GoBlue

Fluffy Bits

Dave Revsine Mattison talked about decision to leave Ravens - said he loves developing kids - taking them from freshman yr to making the NFL.

Dave Revsine Just leaving Michigan practice. The staff is really impressive - a lot of teaching and a lot of feedback in the practice.

Pro Style Transition Promises And Fear

Dave Revsine Borges made it clear he is going to try to utilize all of D Robinson's skills - even if it means running stuff that he doesn't typically run

Gerry DiNardo UM Prac -Integrating two different off may be much more difficult than I first thought. It's will be a challenge and interesting to watch

That's ominous. Grab-baggin' it?

Gerry DiNardo UM Prac - Regardless of what the Michigan O will look like Denard looks like a vet and has great body language. He was a lot of fun on set

Gerry DiNardo Doesn't Actually Watch Football Games

Gerry DiNardo UM Prac-Teams in the B1G that run the ball the best do a certain blocking drill. UM did it today - entire team playing with better leverage

This isn't entirely clear but his previous tweet is about how practice is very different so the implication is that Michigan did not do this blocking drill a year ago. Michigan led the league in YPC one year ago even though they played with turrible leverage and ran like 70% of the time.

UPDATE: there's a story that makes this clear, with Griffith talking about this same mysterious drill:

"One of the things I hadn’t seen in a (Michigan) practice recently is when you see one of the best running teams in the league and the drills they do; I saw those drills at Michigan. That’s an indication they’re going in the right direction.”

This quote will be fun when Michigan's YPC drops by a yard this year. I mean, no one thinks Rodriguez didn't need to go but the least you can give the guy is he knows how to put together a rushing offense.

Gerry DiNardo Puts Together Lists Of Words

Gerry DiNardo UM Prac - Defense will improve significantly - because of offense scheme, coaching emphasis, simplicity, different packages, and pressure.

So, that's everything. Including "offensive scheme." Also including both "simplicity" and "different packages." I wouldn't be surprised if DiNardo believes that few possessions == good defense. He is very old and a terrible football coach. It seems like DiNardo hated Rodriguez; before he even got to practice he was talking about how you have to run the I-form to play defense.

Por ejemplo:

Gerry DiNardo UM Prac- No surprise prac was much different than recent past.More emphasis on Kick Game (Brady coached it),emphasis on D (Brady coached it)

Our defensive head coach coached the defense. Last year our offensive head coach coached the offense. This year Brady Hoke, who knows jack about kicking, is looking at the people kicking the ball.

WTF, Gerry DiNardo?

Gerry DiNardo UM Prac-defending I form w/o a dynamic TB & no designed QB run plays is a problem.OSU has done it the last 3 yrs. & struggled vs the best D.

Either DiNardo meant "O" at the end or he meant "running" at the beginning. It seems like the former from the context, which means he thinks Michigan running the I-Form is dumb, except it makes the defense better… except it makes the offense worse… this is how you have a losing record at LSU.

Summer Hoops Update

Summer Hoops Update

Submitted by Tim on August 20th, 2010 at 1:04 PM

A few updates from basketball, as I've had a couple chances to watch the team practice this week, and also talk to a few players and coach Beilein. (Images from Michigan Basketball on Facebook).

mineurope.jpg

Europe Trip

The team leaves for Europe today, and the rest of their schedule will be as follows:

  • Saturday - Practice in Brussels.
  • Sunday - Play Ghent at 4pm (local time).
  • Monday - Play Charleroi at 7pm.
  • Tuesday - Team trip to Paris.
  • Wednesday - Tour Brugge in the morning, play Oostand at 8:30pm.
  • Thursday - Play Mons at 7pm.
  • Friday - Tour Amsterdam
  • Saturday - Return to USA.

The Wolverines' administrative assistant, former Wolverine Travis Conlan, was responsible for setting up most of the games. He's recently played for Mons.

Conlan said the competition will be a little bit better than your average Big Ten team. Ghent is one of the worst teams in Belgium, but the other three squads are traditionally at the top of the table. The teams are mostly composed of guys who were the best player at a mid-major school but didn't make it into the NBA.

To follow the team in Europe, log on to MGoBlue.com, where there should be several manager/player diaries daily. If you become a fan of Michigan basketball on Facebook, they're also planning to post flipcam videos as well. Stats and game recaps will be published as well.

As for what they plan to get out of the trip, Beilein said "Just seeing where we are, as far as our conditioning, how tough we are, what we have. To give them a measuring stick and give us a measuring stick."

Prior to scheduling the trip, Beilein also wanted to make the trip the culmination of a for-credit summer class on European history or culture for the players, but everything happened so fast that there wasn't time to establish a curriculum.

Personnel and Tempo

The main lineups from Sunday's scrimmage, in order of appearance, were the following:

  • Morris-Douglass-Vogrich-Novak-McLimans
  • Morris-Hardaway-Novak-Smotrycz-Morgan
  • Dougalss-Hardaway-Novak-Smotrycz-Morgan

Jon Horford was mostly running with the scout team (otherwise composed of walkons), but he and McLimans switched at the very end of the scrimmage. Andy Beilein tweeted earlier that the first lineup listed above, except with Hardaway replacing Vogrich, was "Just a thought." Coach Beilein said yesterday that Vogrich was likely to start in Europe, however.

The most notable thing from the scrimmage was the tempo of the offense. There was a lot of fast break. Darius Morris looked pretty good running it - he looks a lot more confident in all phases of the game. There are some factors pushing the change that won't apply during the season (playing against walkons, playing with a 24-second clock), but when asked about it, Douglass and Novak both mentioned that pushing the tempo is a point of emphasis for the team this entire year. Douglass said, "We're trying to push the tempo throughout the year, the entire year." Novak added, "I mean, that's just an emphasis for the year that we've got."

Blake McLimans needs to improve his conditioning. In a running drill on Sunday, he was unable to finish in the time limit, and he missed a couple fast-break opportunities yesterday because he was slow getting up the court. Morris and Douglass were in the center of the line for sprints, and were far faster than everyone else. Corey Person was next-fastest, for what it's worth.

Tim Hardaway Jr. and Evan Smotrycz look like the real deal. Smotrycz seems to be one of the better shooters on the team, but it also able to play in the post quite a bit. Hardaway has a pure stroke and can pull up from a lot of different spots on the floor.

beileinhorford.jpgJon Horford (at right) needs to add some weight, and he's a raw prospect. However, Beilein said "We have some sponges on this team, and I mean that really want to get better. Just watching, for example, Jon Horford today, that's all he wants to do," and it seemed like he had improved a bunch between Sunday and today. Colton Christian wasn't practicing full-court either day, as he re-injured his hamstring. He'll travel to Europe, but it's possible he doesn't see any court time.

For much more on individual players, check out UMHoops.

Overall

This is a very young team, with the entire upperclass contingent consisting of two juniors. However, they seem to be developing. Being able to get 10 extra practice days in the summer and actually play some competitive games in the pre-season will hopefully help the young guys be ready to contribute, almost like spring enrollees for football.

The chemistry, camaraderie, and leadership on this team should be an upgrade as well. Though DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris were great players, they weren't the vocal leaders that a young team needs, and on-court chemistry was lacking last season.

Is this an NCAA Tournament team? Probably not. Is it an NIT team? Probably not. But it should be a fun team to watch over the course of the season, as they grow individually and as a collective.

Presser And Practice Report 3-23-10

Presser And Practice Report 3-23-10

Submitted by Tim on March 23rd, 2010 at 4:48 PM

IMG_2609.JPG

First things first, the Michigan Spring Game will now serve as a fundraiser for Mott Children's Hospital. Though the event will still be free to the public, they will have the opportunity to donate money to Mott as they enter - with incentives!

  • $5 Donation - "All in for Michigan Towel"
  • $20 Donation - "All in for Michigan, All in for Mott" T-Shirt
  • $250 Donation - 4 Passes to a pre-season scrimmage(!)
  • $500 Donation - 2 pre-game sideline passes to a 2010 football game (BGSU, UMass, Iowa, or Illinois).

The Beam Family of Brighton, MI will also match every donation that is made during the Spring Game. This fundraiser continues Michigan football's long-standing relationship with Mott.

The Spring Game festivities kick off an April 17th at 11AM, with the Alumni Flag Football Game (gates open at 10AM). The team takes the field for warmups around noon, and the game itself starts at 1. Unfortunately, the team doesn't have enough healthy players to be able to do a full scrimmage with teams divided up, but they'll do more offense v. defense things. In future years, a game-like scrimmage will be possible.

Rich Rodriguez

  • Injuries: Vladimir Emilien and Jared Van Slyke both sprained knees, and are out a few weeks. They're hopeful that Emilien will be back for the final week of spring practice. Je'Ron Stokes sprained his ankle and Anthony LaLota injured his elbow, both should be out about a week. David Molk is able to run a bit and snap the ball, but he won't participate in any contact this spring. Everyone who had surgery in the off-season is progressing on schedule or even faster.
  • The team will have three scrimmages this spring. This upcoming Saturday will be the first one. There will also be one the week before the spring game, and the Spring Game itself.
  • Offense: Last year's offense was decent, but there were times (especially with turnovers) that they missed opportunities due to poor execution. This spring, they're focusing on improving that, as well as becoming more physical.
  • Quarterbacks: Denard Robinson hasn't played anything other than QB so far this spring, but if it becomes clear he's not going to get tons of snaps there, he'll play other positions in addition. Devin Gardner is behind the other two QBs, as he still needs to learn the offense. His throwing mechanics are looking good though.
  • Running Backs: Even the guys who have some experience are pretty young. Mike Cox has a very good opportunity this spring, and he should contribute this fall.
  • Offensive Line: Perry Dorrestein and Mark Huyge are the veterans at the tackle positions. Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield will push them. The freshmen have gotten bigger, and will try to prove themselves this spring. If multiple guys at a position are able to help the team win, they'll play at tackle.
  • Defense: They'll tweak defensive packages for the various offensive schemes they'll see this fall. The challenge is to have a wide enough variety of packages to be able to play every offense, while keeping the overall defense simple enough for the players to be able to learn it well.
  • Defensive line: There isn't a lot of experienced depth on the offensive line, but that just means guys who need lots of reps this spring will be able to get them. Will Campbell is improving, he added a lot of strength to go with his weight this offseason. The coaches are excited to see what Anthony LaLota can do when he returns from injury, as he had a good offseason as well.
  • Linebackers - Jonas Mouton and Obi Ezeh have impressed this spring, as has Mark Moundros, who is moonlighting at linebacker since the fullback doesn't play that many downs in this offense. Rodriguez thinks Mouton played well last year, but Obi seemed to falter down the stretch. One of the big factors in lackluster LB play last year was a lack of depth - the D would play well for a couple downs or even a few drives, then opposing offenses would have their way with them.
  • Safeties - With Emilien and Van Slyke out, a number of younger guys are getting a chance to play this spring. Cameron Gordon is playing well at safety. Brandin Hawthorne will play both safety and hybrid.
  • Corners: JT Floyd has been playing well this spring. The coaches are putting some real pressure on him, and he's responding well. Justin Turner is also getting a lot of reps.

Steve Schilling

  • The offensive line intensity has been good in the first few days. There is a lot of depth, and the young guys are ready to prove themselves. The guys are ready to hit.
  • Schilling is excited to be a leader on the offensive line. He has lots of experience, and the rest of the guys who have been around a while are helping the young offensive linemen come along for the future. Stephen is up to about 305 pounds, after playing last year around the 295 range.
  • Taylor Lewan, Quinton Washington, and Michael Schofield are three of the hardest workers on the offensive line. Lewan and Washington in particular seem ready to prove they can contribute on the field. They're hoping to push for some playing time. Lewan has a nasty streak in the way he plays.
  • The defense has been playing primarily a 3-3-5 this spring. Typically, Michigan's offensive front only sees odd front in passing situations, but Schilling thinks they'll be able to do a lot of good things out of this formation.
  • Patrick Omameh is very comfortable at guard (from the way Schilling was talking, it sounds like this move is probably permanent). When Molk comes back from his injury, the interior of the offensive line will be very good. Molk played very well before getting injured, and Patrick finished the year very strong.
  • The running backs got some reps last year, but Schilling is excited to see what they can do, especially with all the depth in the backfield. Michael Shaw is a good speed back, Cox and Toussaint can pound the ball well, and when he comes back, Vincent Smith can do it all - including catch out of the backfield.
  • Schilling is bummed he won't be around for the first night game in Michigan Stadium. It's especially exciting for a game against a rival like Notre Dame. He'll try to make it back for the game if he can.

Troy Woolfolk

  • This is Troy's first time in a 3-3-5 type of defense. It's the best formation for the personnel that this team has right now. Troy has built up a comfort level with Greg Robinson's coaching after being a bit skeptical at first last year. He likes the way GERG coaches, and believes in what he says. The coaches are working to make sure the players - especially the younger ones - are learning well.
  • Switching positions all the time last year hurt him a bit, but for the long-term, it's actually been a help. At corner, he now understands what the safeties will be doing, and can trust in the scheme a bit more. He still has to work on his technique at corner a bit.
  • Cameron Gordon has lots of natural ability, and is very good at reading his keys. JT Floyd has been looking really good lately, and understands the game a bit better. He had a nice interception the other day. Justin Turner is still young, but is coming along well. Mike Williams and Jordan Kovacs both like the positions they've moved to. For both of them, there's an emphasis at the new positions on coming up and making tackles, rather than playing in deep coverage. That plays to both of their strengths.

Practice Observations:

  • With all the 3-3-5 talk, I've been assuming Craig Roh would mostly play with his hand down for more of a 4-2-5 look, but that wasn't the case. He was practicing with the other LBs, on the first unit with Obi Ezeh and Jonas Mouton.
  • Tate Forcier is still clearly the best passer of the QBs. Devin Gardner and Denard Robinson were about even, with Devin maybe a liiitle more accurate (except on the longball, which he overthrew quite a bit). Denard probably has a much deeper understanding of the passing game, and would be more able to contribute.
  • Looked like they might be preparing the throw it to the RBs a bit more this season. They went away from it a bit when Carlos Brown went out, but Vincent Smith did have a few catches last season.
  • Mike Martin isn't practicing in the spring (shoulder surgery), but he was running laps around the indoor field. I guarantee you he's faster than me, despite being 300ish pounds and looking like the Hulk.
  • MI DE Brennen Beyer was visiting practice today.

Spring Has Sprung

Spring Has Sprung

Submitted by Tim on March 16th, 2010 at 6:22 PM

Notes from Rich Rodriguez's press conference and the first day of spring practice. Follow me on Twitter (@varsityblue) for live updates.

IMG_2609.JPG

Rich Rodriguez:

  • Injuries: David Molk and Vincent Smith are out for spring with knee injuries. Junior Hemingway and Brandon Herron had recent knee surgeries, hopefully Hemingway will be able to make it back for the end of spring practice. Zac Johnson and Mike Martin are limited (non-contact) for the spring with shoulder injuries.
  • Nick Sheridan and Bryan Wright are no longer on the football team. Sheridan wants to go into coaching, but he can't work with the football team now, since he hasn't graduated. Wright's persistent back issues have led him to give up the game, and he's going to graduate and move on.
  • Position changes: Cameron Gordon has been moved to safety, as has Teric Jones. This means Troy Woolfolk and Justin Turner will both play corner this spring. There's the potential that one or both of them can move to safety down the road.
  • Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson are options 1 and 2 at quarterback. When Denard isn't taking snaps, he's too valuable to take off the field, and they'll give him some run at wide receiver (there's enough running back depth that they won't need him there). Devin Gardner has a great work ethic, and he'll be willing to earn any playing time he might get. Rodriguez is glad he could get in for spring, because there's a lot to learn.
  • At the running back position, a number of guys are competing with Vincent Smith out for spring practice. Michael Shaw, Mike Cox, and Fitzgerald Toussaint will fill in, along with the two freshmen (Austin White and Stephen Hopkins), and there's a chance that some slot receivers get reps at that position as well.
  • The team knows that they always have something to prove. Even if Michigan had performed better on the field in the past two years, there's always something to prove.
  • Brendan Gibbons and Will Hagerup were the only two kicking specialists mentioned. Gibbons seems to be the favorite at kicker, and Hagerup won't arrive until fall, but will probably punt.
  • Many offensive linemen worked hard to improve their bodies in the off-season, especially the freshmen Quinton Washington, Taylor Lewan, and Michael Schofield. They'll be in the mix for some playing time.
  • Elsewhere on the offensive line, Rocko Khoury, Elliott Mealer, and Christian Pace will play center with Molk out for spring. Rodriguez likes to have four guys who can snap the ball. When Molk is healthy in the fall, there's a good chance that he'll be one of the best centers in the Big Ten.
  • Brandon Graham will be missed from both a production and leadership standpoint. On the field, Ryan Van Bergen, Greg Banks, Adam Patterson, and even Craig Roh will play his old spot. RVB and Banks will play both inside and outside on the DL. As for leadership, the veterans will have to step up, even though there's a very small group of seniors this year.
  • The defense should be able to take a step forward in the second year under the same defensive coordinator. A few schemes will be tweaked, but they'll try to keep them simpler, because there's a good chance some true freshmen will have to fill in this fall. The coaches are going to try for a bigger rotation defensively, so more guys will see the field.
  • "Buying in" is not an issue for this team (anymore?), things now come down to a matter of executing properly to improve performance in games.

As for practice, most of the useful information will probably come from the pictures, but a couple quick observations:

  • Vincent Smith was wearing a red jersey, but in his football gear. Dave Molk was practicing snaps.
  • Nick Sheridan was hanging around watching in street clothes.
  • Stephen Hopkins is frickin' huge. That kid will be a tank with the ball in his hands.
  • Gardner's throwing motion looks improved from the end of his high school season. Once he is able to get actual coaching, it should continue getting better.
  • I thought Christian Pace looked much bigger than he did on Signing Day, though it may have just been the difference in wardrobe (warmups on Signing Day). He didn't even look like an offensive lineman in February.

Photo Gallery:

Apologies if the quality is a little worse than usual; I don't have the mad editing skillz that Paul does.

Presser/Practice Notes 9-2

Presser/Practice Notes 9-2

Submitted by Tim on September 2nd, 2009 at 3:38 PM

Light day at the press conference today, aside from the pseudo-bombshell that Brandon Minor is still injured, and is now considered questionable for Saturday. It remains to be seen how much of this is legit, and how much is gamesmanship/giving the press something new to talk about. Either way, not good. Carlos Brown would get the start if Minor can't go, with Shaw, Grady, and Vincent Smith also garnering playing time.

Rich says the coaches are starting to have a good idea of who will start at QB on Saturday. They'll let the quarterbacks know tomorrow night who is getting the starting nod.

Big focuses in camp this year: holding onto the ball and avoiding negative yardage offensive plays. He felt like they held onto the ball pretty well in last year's camp (and we know how that turned out), but it's even better this year.

During punt return practice, the returners seemed to be having some sort of competition to not be the first to drop one. When someone finally did, a grad assistant who had been turned the other way immediately turned around and asked "Was it Terrence [Robinson]?" It was.

And They're Padded

And They're Padded

Submitted by Brian on August 14th, 2009 at 12:36 PM

First: Tim attended the open section of the practice and posted some initial thoughts. He'll be at the 12:45 press conference as well. Meanwhile, the Big Ten Network gets unfettered access to the whole thing. Assorted highlights below. BONUS: I think this whole "everything in the world is scattered in 140-char chunks across twitter" thing is going to be rampant in the future so I inaugurated a new tag: "twitter for humans."

OH MY GOD SHOULDER PADS

denard-robinson

Robinson "has better touch and a tighter spiral than I predicted on the long ball."

That shot of Michigan's tiny, tiny quarterbacking contingent is from the Big Ten Network, which is taking in today's practice in its entirety. They are tweeting and twitpicing and so forth and whatnot. It's all very sound-and-fury-signifying-eh-not-much, but here's a fun fact:

Why's the ceiling so high? Michigan went around and measured all the nation's indoor facilities to make sure its was the highest.

I bet one dollar that there's a closet somewhere in Schembechler Hall full of Enzyte. A locked closet.

Also, this child

this-child-starting-safety

…would be very cute if he wasn't on the two deep at safety. Sad commentary on the secondary depth: some of you are checking the link to see if that's true.

You mean the tweedle-dos can be useful? Dave Revsine is also twittering up a storm. The BTN's ability to take in practices from everyone leads to interesting comparisons:

Amazing how much smaller Michigan's skill guys are than OSU and PSU. Not a positive or a negative -- just a different philosophy.… Again -- interesting to see difference in philosophy. I've seen more WR's working on blocking in 1st 20 mins than last 2 days combined

Revsine's also jumping to conclusions on one Tate Forcier:

Initial impression -- Forcier has a nice arm. Looks good. Throws well on run. Robinson a tad more inconsistent, but still fine for scheme. … It's amazing how poised and confident Forcier looks. As Howard said to me, "he has 'it'". Just has an impressive air about him.

[UPDATE: Revsine's final thought:

Tate Forcier is the PERFECT QB for the Michigan system. Good arm,very comfortable throwing on the run and good speed and scrambling ability

]

I have been looking forward to It ever since we lost It sometime around the Horror. More QBs:

Denard Robinson has looked accurate on short passes during team work. Clearly the #3 at this point, but obviously it's very early.

Also, Vincent Smith looks "really good" because he is "tough to catch," it's "pretty obvious" Patrick Omameh "will be able to help." Aaand if there was a twitter wishing well I'd throw 140 characters down it to make this come true:

Lot of emphasis on one on one tackling -- which was a liability for this team last year. Hard to tell from practice, but looks better.

Elsewhere, AnnArbor.com's Mike Rothstein is impressed with the "speed of Cox" and the "running of Swanson," which who the hell is Swanson? Commenter Germany Schultz provides the answer:

O'Neil Swanson is a true frosh walk-on from the cradle of football, West Bloomfield, Michigan. He went to Country Day and checks in at an impressive 5-10 156 (which is exactly my height/weight).

Looks like we've got our own Paki O'Meara, though ours is less terrifyingly close to the top of the depth chart. Rothstein also mentions that Justin Turner's a little behind:

While everyone else watched M drill, turner was off on the side not in pads working on backpedaling

Minor and Mathews were in non-contact green. Minor's thing is a lingering headache (concussion?) from a car accident a few weeks ago; we'll no doubt find out what's up with Mathews at this afternoon's press conference.

Both Rothstein and Dave Birkett have their own bullet-strewn posts up, much of which was already tweeted or mentioned above. Notes on their notes:

  • Rothstein ran down the first team offense and it was exactly as you might expect: Forcier, Minor, Koger, etc. Huyge still appears to be the leader at right tackle. Okay no big deal except at one spot…
  • With Mathews out the nominal first team wide receivers were Hemingway and Savoy. We've started to hear some nice things about Savoy, but given his extremely limited production to date that says more about Stonum. The things are not nice. Hopefully this is a get-on-the-same-page sort of thing?
  • Rothstein noted a couple guys in red riding bikes and then made some notable omissions from his second-team offense: Carlos Brown and Rocko Khoury. And maybe Ricky Barnum, but it's hard to tell.
  • Rothstein can identify "Jock Jams" in less than three notes.
  • aaarghghghgahghagargh from Birkett:
    Michigan's punt returners are having problems catching (or judging) the ball. During the morning punt period, with no oncoming cover team, return men Carlos Brown, Terrence Robinson and Martavious Odoms dropped three consecutive catchable balls.

  • Birkett focused on Brandon Herron quite a bit, noting he (and RVB) got the best of Ortmann and Dorrestein in a couple drills—eek left tackle—and claiming he is "primed for a big season." I might switch my twitter wishing well request to this one.

Also: maybe we will get some use out of a Grady after all. Kelvin Grady was widely expected to spend this year fastened to the bench as he reacclimated to football, but after some impressive performances (including one sweet practice catch I mentally filed as IN, 1, protection N/A—WOO FOOTBALL COMIN') in practice Rodriguez thinks he'll see the field:

"We’re not in full pads yet, but what I’ve seen in three days, Kelvin Grady’s going to play for us this year. He’s a very quick learner, he’s very coachable, he’s got ball skills. And I think we have a position that fits him perfectly in that slot."

At the very least it's another shot at a punt returner who won't fumble the ball. Here's some high school video to whet your appetite and not remind you of McGuffie in any way:

There's also a dead ringer for Javon Ringer's long one when he escaped from Shawn Crable.