Fall Camp 2011: Presser Notes 8-23

Fall Camp 2011: Presser Notes 8-23

Submitted by Tim on August 23rd, 2011 at 8:02 PM

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photo from file

General

Captains will be voted on Sunday.

Practice #20 done. Eleven days out from the first game [Ed-M: eeee foootbawwww!]. Starting scout team work for Western tomorrow. "I thought we moved the dial in every area." Need to improve consistency in competitive drills. Defense good one day, the next day it's the offense. You're neutral as head coach, but you want to see the consistency.

On the scrimmage: "Saturday, I thought we were physical. You could hear football being played." Great competition still going on. Saturday standouts: "I thought Troy played pretty well... Brandon Herron showed some signs that were real positive. Offensively, I thought Fitz [Toussaint] carried the ball well, Vince Smith carried the ball well, Michael Shaw has carried the ball well." It was a 120ish-play scrimmage.

Team needs to work on finishing, but goal line and 2-minutes drill had pretty good tempo and intensity.

On the two deep: Players will become aware of the 2-deep soon, but spots aren't locked in. "You can lose that [spot] pretty easily, because we're playing guys who can represent Michigan... They have to meet the expectations for that position every day."

On expectations: "We have high expectations. I really don't care what anybody else thinks." They want to help the kids succeed, both on and off the field. He doesn't worry about managing expectations. Gauging toughness starts during winter conditioning. Build mental toughness by making sure the locker room is disciplined, "mentally being tough enough to take care of that locker room."

"I think the jury's still out" on whether the team will be able to run the ball and stop the run to his satisfaction. They have some physical practices upcoming, but will taper that back as the season approaches.

Offense

Are they going to play a second QB in early games? "We haven't really talked about that yet." They may get Devin into early games, to get him experience. It also builds morale to get more guys in earlier.

On running back: Right now, Mike Shaw would be the starter. Toussaint has done good things, Hopkins was better today. "Vincent is a guy on third downs who can do an awful lot. He is a tough, tough guy." Shaw: "He's been more consistent on a daily basis. That's what he really shows the most."

Impressive position groups: The first five on the OL have good chemistry, and they play with good tempo.

Wide receivers: "Our wide receivers, I think they keep... [Ed-M: ?] Jeremy Gallon's a guy we think has done a pretty good job."

On OL depth: "Darrell's got six guys right now that can roll through, I think we're building the seventh." You want five top guys, then develop the young guys behind them as fast as you can. "I think Friday we'll get after it pretty good scrimmage-wise," putting together a couple different lineups.

Defense

On Brink: "If we play tomorrow, he'd be the starting 5-technique defensive end." He has great technique, and has to be because he's a little small. "You feel him a lot out on the field."

On the rest of the DL: "Will [Campbell] can play both the three and the 1, Heininger can play all three, and has." You want guys to settle into a comfortable position, but you also want versatility in their positions, so you have flexibility. "Will [Heininger] has the intelligence to do that, because of those different things."

On linebackers: "I think Desmond Morgan's a guy who we think is gonna play football for us. Mike Jones has played a little bit at MIKE and a little bit at WILL. I would say Kenny right now has a pretty solid lock on the MIKE linebacker. Cam is doing a good job. Jake Ryan and Brennen Beyer... All three of those guys are getting snaps." Desmond Morgan was limited today, but will be good. Brandin Hawthorne will be a good player.

On the secondary: "I can tell you that between Troy, JT Floyd, and Courtney Avery, there's tremendous competition." JT and Avery competing at one corner. "I think Thomas Gordan has had a really good camp... I think Kovacs has done a really nice job." He's smart, understands the concepts, can be a QB of the D. Carvin Johnson also good. "Three safeties and three corners right now that we have good competition with." Those guys are all on the field in the dime package.

Special Teams

On Matt Wile: "I think right now we're looking really at between him and Seth punting, and him doing the kickoffs, and between him and Brendan handling the field goals." They'll kick in the stadium Friday, Saturday, and know what they want by Sunday. Brendan Gibbons is kicking the best overall from distance.

On attrition: "It was the right thing for them and what they felt... Sometimes, kids move on for different reasons. Homesick, or whatever it might be." Too early to think if it will affect 2012 recruiting class.

Fall Camp 2011: Practice and Presser Notes

Fall Camp 2011: Practice and Presser Notes

Submitted by Tim on August 16th, 2011 at 9:29 PM

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startled Borges is startled, from file

Al Borges

Does he still draw up plays? - "I'm always. I'm obsessive... I just, I like that part of the game. I like the tactics. I like to scribble." Denard's talent poses some interesting options in terms of new plays. The defensive-oriented head coaches tend to give the OC a little bit more freedom. "Brady know what we're doing, understands what we're doing, and monitors everything."

"There's so many frustrations out there" because guys aren't consistently performing perfectly yet. "It's just the way it is this time of year."

On Denard - "He's playing good. He's kind of a kick to coach. He's upbeat all the time." He's been receptive to every bit of coaching since he's been here. Timing is getting better in the passing game every day. The guys worked in the offseason, but there was room for improvement. "It's not there yet, but it's showing some promise."

On the tailbacks - "We still don't have a starting running back, but we've got a nice field to work from. Getting a little closer to that, I think." They'll cut down the running back competition when they start game-planning, instead of just going through camp.

There are nice inside and outside runners. "Michael Shaw, Stephen Hopkins, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Michael Cox, all of them have just shown some great flashes. ... Cox and Shaw are very similar in that they've got some home run threat to them. Toussaint's a tough kid that makes no concessions to the defense. He to has a nice burst and he can go. Vincent's as diverse as any of them." Thomas Rawls is a tough inside guy, like Hopkins, and Justice Hayes has good cuts.

3rd-down role - Vincent Smith - "He's certainly a candidate." Not big, but can block and pass. He's in the running for starting RB too, because he's so dynamic. Need an RB who can test out a nickel back in passing situations. "You've gotta run tight routes and catch it when they throw it to you."

If it takes multiple games to find a starting running back, so be it. "This is a collaborative effort." Hoke, Borges, Jackson - everybody will have a say in it.

The biggest issue with young RBs is protecting the QB. They can see running lanes pretty well, but there are so many things defenses will do that figuring out who to block is the hardest part.

"We're moving some folks around" to figure out some of the fullback race - they're keeping it under wraps for now who is moving and from where. John McColgan is the primary guy.

On Wideouts - "We've got some guys that are playing well out there. Some of the guys played some last year. Jeremy Gallon, Kelvin Grady has done a nice job. Jerald Robinson who didn't play much, but he seems like he's got a future here. Drew Dileo, all those guys have worked their buns off." Receivers need to be able to play special teams to make travel squads. They've gotta block on the outside, as well.

"You always like to have a few rangy guys" at wideout, but any size is OK. "We would take a smaller, faster guy" at previous stops, because you get 6 points for a TD no matter how tall you are.

On the OL competition - With 5 top guys, "it kinda is what it is right now." There's a chemistry that's important to line play. You'd like to find five guys who can get used to each other. Michael Schofield will be a contributor, it's just a question of when.

Greg Mattison

Guys are demonstrating the want-to. They understand that they need to get to the level of Michigan expectations. "You never know when it's going to happen. The guys are consciously trying to work to get there. Whether that work is good enough right now? I can't say yes to that." Need to see more guys getting over "the hump."

Playing with great technique, playing with tremendous effort, and being very physical are the three most important factors. "We do those three things, now we're playing Michigan defense."

On Tackling - "It's always something that we have to work on." Had a couple disappointing reps on the goal-line drills today. Were just one wrapped tackle away from making some stops. Safeties, corners, etc. understanding to not give up big plays.

On playing rotations - the coaches need to determine throughout camp how many consecutive plays guys can play at their top level. "When they're tired, somebody else will come in for you. Get your rest, you're not demoted." Specifically along D-line. At Florida, had 6 guys who were worthy of being called starters, even though 4 played at a time. Helped to have a good rotation.

Defensive linemen need to be consistent. "We have to be a defense that you play with great technique on every player. Unless you are a dominant athlete."

On Mike Martin - "I think he's working hard, and I say this about every player on our team: they can work harder and they will work harder." Won't say anybody has "elite talent" until they prove it in games. "I don't know if we have any, and I don't know if we don't have any."

On Will Heininger - "I think he's much stronger. He's shown some signs of being very physical and strong at times." Like everybody else, he needs to develop consistency.

On Nathan Brink - "Played like a Michigan football player... This guy here has come out every day as tough as he can." He hit his weight goal of 260 by coming into camp at 264. "In the spring, it was mentioned a number of times, because his toughness showed up. He was only 250 at the time."

On walk-ons like Nathan Brink and Tony Anderson - "Everybody's a scholarship football player to us. The best 11, the best 12, the best 13, best 17 - those guys are gonna play." Doesn't matter if a guy is a walk-on or a 5th-year guy, they'll play.

On WLB -  "That position - and again I hate to ever say anything positive - I love how those guys are playing at times. At times they're playing with such energy, such speed, and such explosiveness." That's a battle.

On Cam Gordon - "He's working really really hard at the physical part of playing SAM backer." He's working hard to meet the standards.

On the secondary - Safeties play a number of coverages, but priority is always to keep the ball inside and in front of him. Jordan Kovacs comes to work every day ready to do things the right way. All of the other safeties show flashes, but lose concentration at times. They need to improve their consistency.

Courtney Avery comes out trying to get better every day. "When he makes a mistake, it bothers him, and he tries even harder next time." Guys are learning that they need to have great technique.

Position changes - "Not drastic. We'll look at an outside linebacker who's kinda a hybrid to the rush backer, and we might switch those guys at times." There are no big, permanent changes.

Freshman contributors. "We've got some pretty good freshmen. Some of them have caught your eye," but they also make big freshman mistakes. They need to show consistent great talent to get on the field as soon as possible. "Frank Clark is a very talented... freshman." like all freshmen, he needs to do it right on every play.

Practice Notes

Martavious Odoms still has a cast on his left arm, although it's coming off in the next week.

Vincent Smith, Terrence Robinson, Justice Hayes, Kelvin Grady, Thomas Rawls, Je'Ron Stokes, and Jerald Robinson were the players taking reps catching "kicks" from the jug machine. Fred Jackson made them all run through a couple different variations on the drill (turning around as the ball is launched, running five yards then turning around, etc.)

The defensive backs were working on proper alignments with coach Curt Mallory. He was running a group of DBs through their responsibilities as far as alignment, adjusting that alignment to motion and different offensive formations, and then their responsibilities depending on what certain offensive players would do. It was a very detail-oriented instruction.

During stretching (woo stretching!), one of the strength coaches reminded the players that they needed to take it upon themselves to have a good practice, saying "You don't have a great day by accident, you have it on purpose."

Also during stretching time, Brady Hoke was making his rounds and talking to a few players. He stopped and gave Stephen Hopkins a pat on the helmet and had a short conversation with him.

During the few plays of offense v. defense, it seemed there was a mixed group of starters and backups on the defensive side of the ball. Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen were flanked by Jibreel Black and Nathan Brink on the DL (Will Heininger rotated in as well), with Jake Ryan and Brandin Hawthorne in at LB with Kenny Demens. Jordan Kovacs and Thomas Gordon (deep - Carvin Johnson also rotated in) were the safeties, with Troy Woolfolk and Courtney Avery at corner. A few expected starters rotated in with the other group, including Craig Roh.

Offensively, it seemed the units were a little more in line with expectations of a first and second unit. Fitz Toussaint and Michael Shaw got the first-team reps at RB. There were a couple plays of I-form, some shotgun, and a mix between run and pass as well.

On the "second" units, Michael Cox, Jeremy Jackson, and Tony Anderson were among the notable players. Shaw got a couple reps with Gardner's offense as well.

Photos

Football Media Day 2011: Assistant and Player Notes

Football Media Day 2011: Assistant and Player Notes

Submitted by Tim on August 15th, 2011 at 1:39 PM

Apologies for the brevity of the updates, but I wanted to talk to a bunch of different people instead of going in-depth with anybody in particular.

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Players

Denard Robinson

Denard is adapting to the new offense well. He's getting the footwork down, and should be good to go by the start of the season.

Denard is looking forward to the opportunity to stay a little healthier this year, with less of a load carrying the ball on his shoulders.

Fullback John McColgan "is one of the toughest guys I've ever seen in my life."

Thomas Rawls

The upperclassmen are the leaders in the backfield, but the young guys came in because they wanted to compete. Having a number of talented players back there makes everybody better.

Thomas has never had the opportunity to meet Mark Ingram face-to-face, but he really wants to. As a Flint guy, he really looks up to Ingram.

Stephen Hopkins

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Even though Stephen had a couple fumbles last year, it was out of character for him. "I've never been a fumbler. I had maybe two in my whole high school career."

The new offense is a good fit for his skills, and he's looking forward to it.

Roy Roundtree

The new offense is still going to put up points, because that's the goal of any offense. However, the pace will be slower to control the ball instead of running as many plays as possible, so scoring might drop a bit. That doesn't mean it's any less effective.

There are some differences for the wideouts going into the new offense, but it's nothing they can't adjust to.

There's definitely an emphasis on blocking for the wideouts in the new offense. If you can't or won't get out there and block, you won't play.

Taylor Lewan

He's always had trouble being able to gain weight. He was on a similar diet as Ryan Van Bergen. The trick to gaining weight is to eat only the right things, but eat until you're full, and then just a little bit more. Sometimes, Taylor had to lie down in bed for a little bit after a meal and hope it didn't come back up.

Craig Roh

It's exciting to be back down on the defensive line with his hand back in the dirt. "I don't want to worry about the past," but he's excited about the defense going forward.

It's been tough to play in a different defense every year, but again, he doesn't want to dwell on the past.

Matt Wile

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He had a relationship with Michigan's current coaching staff when they were at San Diego State. They had offered him a scholarship when he was a sophomore.

Matt had been planning to go to Boise State, but when Michigan hired the new staff, he set up a visit here. The plan was to head to Nebraska for a visit the following week, but he fell in love with Ann Arbor and committed to the Wolverines. Even though his visit was in January, the weather didn't bother him.

Assistants

Jeff Hecklinski

Jerald Robinson has great potential, and "doesn't know how good Jerald can be." He has good size and athleticism, and just needs to keep working hard to see that potential realized.

Jeremy Gallon has been impressive in fall camp. "Let's hope he keeps progressing."

Curt Mallory

The goal for the safeties is to not have a "second-best strong or free" safety, but have guys who are capable of stepping in at either safety position.

Jordan Kovacs is a tough, smart player, and that's what's helped him be a contributor here. That should continue going forward.

Thomas Gordon is performing well at nickel, and he's also trying to become a contributor at one of the safety positions. They want him to be able to do both roles. Troy Woolfolk is the same way: he's contributing at corner, but they also want him to have the ability to rotate in at nickel.

Fred Jackson

Thomas Rawls and Justice Hayes have really helped push the others at the position to improve, because despite being freshman "they're coming in here like they're sophomores." He's as happy with those two as he's ever been with a pair of freshmen. (Fred kept returning to the freshmen, regardless of what he was asked).

John McColgan is a solid option at fullback. He's doesn't have the skill set of Kevin Dudley (glorified lineman in the backfield) or Chris Floyd (who had plenty of ability with the ball in his hands). However, he's a very smart player, and will get some opportunities, including in the pass game.

Darrell Funk

The left side of the line is mostly set: Taylor Lewan at left tackle, Patrick Omameh at left guard, and David Molk at center. On the right side of the line, there are pretty much three players for two positions. Ricky Barnum (guard), Mark Huyge (tackle or guard), and Michael Schofield (tackle) have separated themselves from the pack.

You always worry about depth, but it is definitely a concern this year. They'll have just a couple backups on top of a "solid top six." They're addressing depth going forward with recruiting.

Mark Smith

Cam Gordon is most impressive in his love for football, and his strong desire to improve his game and get better.

Jerry Montgomery

There are a lot of players on the defensive line who are versatile enough to play multiple positions. Craig Roh, Jibreel Black, and others could see a bit of time on the inside, even though they're primarily defensive ends.

Brennen Beyer and Frank Clark are some impressive freshmen. (Note: Seeing Clark, he was taller than I thought, but also much skinnier: he looked like the second coming of Davion Rogers - OK, maybe not that skinny. Still, it sounds like he'll have an opportunity to play this year).

Football Media Day 2011: Brady Hoke Presser

Football Media Day 2011: Brady Hoke Presser

Submitted by Tim on August 14th, 2011 at 2:18 PM

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Now seven practices in, the kids are "learning more with each practice." They're bringing energy to practice, but need to sustain that throughout to show they can compete late in games and in the season.

The team is healthy, and there's lots of competition

Two-a-days start tomorrow. The adversity of two-a-days can "teach you about who the leaders will be on the team."

On padded practice: "guys are willing, wanting." Need to see consistency between the morning and afternoon practices. Will be in full pads for 3 days of two-a-days this week. Guys are anxious to establish themselves. Want to prove to coaches and teammates how they've progressed since spring.

On kicker Matt Wile: "Obviously he's a San Diego guy. His dad was one of our orthopaedics at San Diego State." Lance Ortega was his kicking coach, the staff knew him. Matt is a 5th generation Michigan grad.

"He's doing well. I think this is a big stage. That mental part of going out there, until you get on Main Street and have 110,000, you've gotta see where the guy's at." He can do a good job coaching himself with fundamentals, etc. Doing punting, KOs, and FGs right now. "I'd be very comfortable" having a true freshman handle those duties.

On running backs: The young guys missed some time finishing up summer school. Rawls is talented, has done a good job. Backfield is unsettled. Need to show consistency from practice to practice. "We'd like to have one guy who could tote it 25 times." Maybe a couple situational guys, 7-10 carries for a secondary back.

"Our base run play will be the power play, and that's no secret." Denard's talents, and opposing defenses wil adjust what they do. 10-15 snaps running for Denard. "The objective is to win, and we've gotta do what it takes to help Michigan and this team win." He's fitting into the offensive system. "We're fortunate enough that he has some other things that he brings to the table."

Denard is a great kid. "Leadership qualities really start to stick out more and more [for upperclassmen]. That's what I've liked that he's done in camp."

On rooming, Koger: "Seniors are rooming with freshmen. Part of that is to get to know them. Set the example, set the expectation." Koger extensively praised for his demeanor and selflessness, the sacrifice he'll give for this team. "He's a tremendous guy. I'm talking about things not on the football field."

The offense question again: "You've got a system that you wanna run, but you're not going to be putting a square peg into a round hole either." Al Borges has a coaching pedigree that proves he can adapt to different personnel. He'll get playmakers the ball. "At the end of the day, we've still gotta block up front, and knock people off the football."

On Mattison: great coach, great integrity. Builds great relationships with players. "He's coached a lot of football, coached a lot of guys. He brings so much from a knowledge standpoint."

On captains:  "They won't get picked for 2 more weeks. The team will vote."

On countdown clocks: "Those are important football games. Those are big rivalries."

On the defense and standouts: "I don't think we've played to the standard that's going to be acceptable, to this point. We need to be more physical at the point of attack."

"Tom Gordon has had a good summer. Kovacs has really taken ownership." Kovacs is one of the guys who shows urgency in getting to the football. Kenny Demens also mentioned as a standout. Nathan Brink shows toughness as a DT/DE. JB Fitzgerald: "you talk about another guy who stands out as far as his leadership goes, and selflessness."

On the two-deep: They'll start penciling that in by the end of the week. "We're gonna scimmage pretty good in six days on Saturday. We'll put them in a lot of situations and see how they respond."

On Woolfolk: Troy Woolfolk has progressed well. Has taken some senior ownership of the team. Had a minor hamstring injury yesterday, there's enough competition at that position that they could afford to rest him and be cautious. JT Floyd and Courtney Avery competing at CB. "We don't have the greatest competition everywhere. I wish we did, because that makes us better."

On McColgan: a tough guy. "When you look at it, he's one of the true fullback bodies that you have." TEs will get a chance to play H-back as well.

On this still being Michigan [tremendous van river]: "I think I've made this comment before: This is Michigan. There won't be any excuses. If we don't win the Big Ten Championship, we've failed these kids, as coaches."

On the offensive line: Elliott Mealer: "He's competing." The rest of the guys: "Our left side of our line with Taylor back, and I think Ricky Barnum's done a nice job. Molk's back." Omameh at right guard. "Patrick and Elliott and Mike Schofield and Huyge - I think that's great competition."

On the backfield again: "I think there's some guys back there who can do it. All of them have shown signs of being able to run the ball like we'd like."

Fall Camp 2011: Al Borges Presser Notes

Fall Camp 2011: Al Borges Presser Notes

Submitted by Tim on August 10th, 2011 at 8:04 PM

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Notes from Al Borges's meeting with the media. I'm a master at taking pictures of him in which he looks startled.

QBs

Happy with QBs. Things are registering much faster mentally than they were at the end of spring: you can tell they worked over the summer. "I'm kinda fired up about it. We're not arrived, it only three days and we've got a long way to go. But I'm happy with the dedicated effort they've shown."

Denard's footwork is much better. They're trying to continue getting him to step up in the pocket. "It not only allows him to see a little better, but he can threaten run better once he gets underneath the rush." Denard is on schedule to be where they want him. "Because he's so athletic and he can create... now he has to understand about creating, yet don't try to do something that simply isn't there."

QB - "it's always competitive. We don't hand it to anybody. But this kid has proven he can play." The coaches have to tap that, and Gardner is proving himself as well. QBs know more now than when they left in the spring. They clearly worked in the summer.

Denard will still be running the football, with a lot of the same plays they ran last year. The power offensive style will reduce his carries, and they want to keep him healthy. The offense last year just wasn't the same when he came out of the game.

"I'm not committing to anything" in terms of number of carries for Denard. "Less" is a clear goal, but how much is still in question. Try not to get him beaten up, but want him to make plays. Not sure where the fine line is between those two. Sometimes you need to remind Denard to get out of bounds when he's running. He won't do a lot of sliding, but there are times to avoid taking punishment. "With the ball under his arms, anything can happen," so you don't want him sliding down in front of a guy he can juke past. "You coach Denard different than you coach Ryan Lindley."

RBs

Doesn't like a rotation of RBs, but "if two guys are on an equal plane, then we may do it. I'll never say never. But it's never been my preference." They'll narrow RB race down a little bit before they worry about choosing a number 1. It's tough to tell when 5 or 6 guys are dividing reps. "They know. We've made it clear" that they're competing to be 'the guy.' It's time for them to seize the moment.

Can't tell anything about who's stepping up because nobody's been tackled yet. Need to see the freshmen, too. "The kids, from understanding our protection schemes, are much better. That part of it is improved." Won't know a go-to guy until tackling comes around. You'd like to know as soon as possible who the guy is, but they're willing to wait so they make the right choice. It could take a couple scrimmages to find out what they're capable of.

"The ability to win in the open field, break tackles, make people miss, understand our protection scheme, receiving skills are a part of it too. It's not at the top of the list, but it's part of it, a guy we feel like we gan go to that can give us some of the same things Denard gave them last year and that he's going to give us this year."

3rd down backs - "everybody's got a role. Sometimes the 3rd down back is the same guy that can play on first down. Sometimes he's not." Everybody brings something to the table, and they'll use those skills.

Freshman RBs - A bit of a disadvantage because they weren't here in the spring. Young guys can play, and not have to do every part of the position. "There may a few things he can do until he completely understands what we're doing."

Some RBs run better behind a fullback. Great backs like Barry Sanders can do it both ways, but some guys have a preference. "It's a vision position. As long as you give them an opportunity to see the cuts, they can usually make the cuts."

FB - "We got a couple young guys, and then we've got Stephen Hopkins who's kind of a hybrid. He can play in there, too. John [McColgan] is as consistent a player as we have on our offense." He's not going to make amazing plays, but he's going to be consistent, give the best effort, and be tough.

WRs

Jerald Robinson - he knows what he's doing better than in spring. Has a chance to make a contribution.

WRs: "They're the same guys that played here a year ago. Junior Hemingway can go get it, Roy can go get it, Tae Odoms can go get it. Grady, we've got some speed guys." It doesn't look like the cast is affecting Odoms's play.

Michigan was more vertical in their passing structure last year, because it fit that offense. This year they'll do more short cuts. Passing routes fit what each offense was trying to accomplish. If QBs can deliver the ball accurately, the receivers will get some YAC as well.

TE

Tight ends other than Koger: Brandon Moore has done a nice job. Still climbing, improving every day. Steve Watson is a solid payer. "Because Kog got hurt in the spring, those other guys got a lot of reps." It's too early to say if Chris Barnett is in the mix.

OL

Lewan - "moving around good." Haven't hit, so it's hard to evaluate too much. Need to see how he understands all of what they're doing offensively, because they're firing off the ball differently. "Until we get the opportunity to play some close-quarter football, we're really not gonna know where those guys are yet. But I like what I see so far."

Having Molk and Lewan back from missing some spring helps OL cohesion. Koger considered part of that unit, too. Improved from spring.

General

"The only thing I've really got a bead on so far is how much more they know." The players have worked to understand the offense. They still don't know enough, but every team in America is at that point three practices in.

Going full pads on Friday: "Physicality, toughness, 'who is that back?,' have we got closer... how much have we improved since the last time we got in full pads?" See who can perform with contact.

Fall Camp 2011: Greg Mattison Presser Notes

Fall Camp 2011: Greg Mattison Presser Notes

Submitted by Tim on August 9th, 2011 at 7:58 PM

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Photo (obviously) from file

2 days in, there's a long way to go to where they want to be. Impressed and excited about effort. Couldn't see them in the summer, but they put in the work. "Trying to do the right thing, trying to improve themselves, and then it just carries over when they start practice." In spring, coaches were teaching the philosophy, then schemes. Players worked the schemes in their senior-led practices this summer.

Focus in early practices: "You want perfect alignments, you want perfect technique, and you want unbelievable effort to the football." Need to correct missed assignments early, because those will eventually become big plays in games. The defense's goal is to not give up big plays.

"When you coach the DL or you coordinate defenses, you have great respect for great coaches. And Brady's always been one of those guys." Great passion and work ethic as a coach. "Every day that i've been here, I feel like that was the greatest decision that I've made."

Strength of the D - "I can't say right now that we're a blitz team. I can't say that we're a coverage team. The only thing I can say is we'll play with unbelievable effort." Hoping to say that playing with great technique is a strength at the end of camp as well. Guys understand what he wants to do with the D. Now it's about doing the little things to properly execute what the coaches want. Wants to be a team that nobody can run the ball against. Wants an aggressive D that makes the QB nervous in passing situations.

Asked Will Campbell to cut weight he hit his target. Craig Roh needed to put on weight. "I noticed in practice no pads, I saw it already." There are a couple other players that were asked to hit weight goals, and didn't succeed (no names). Jibreel Black has to prove himself every day. Young guys can't get away with mailing it in, even if they're talented. The results speak for themselves. "Jibreel's gotta be more consistent." Will have to wait until first game to see if Martin will be used at LB, etc. "The thing that we're gonna do with this defense is always try to put players in a position to best effect the outcome of the ballgame."

Marell Evans "He's an inside linebacker. And he showed some very good things in the spring." LBs most improved since the start of spring. Is that because they were bad to start, or because they're improving? Hopefully the latter. Front 7 - "They're not going to get any stronger right now [since camp has started], and they're not going to get any bigger right now." Improving technique and effort will be the way to succeed.

Woolfolk - will know once hitting starts if he can still play. Coverage may be faster without pads. "I think you're gonna see where he's gonna be fine." The lineup isn't set. Nobody is ever handed a job. "When a guy gets hurt, he's gotta come back and earn that position." Some position changes still possible in fall camp. "It's anywhere in your defense. It isn't always about height-weight, that sort of thing. You're gonna put the best eleven on the field."

Freshmen - "I think Frank Clark has a lot of ability. You can see a different speed at which he goes. Brennen Beyer looks like a guy that we thought we saw on film." Some freshmen haven't been in a lot of practice due to summer classes.

How hungry is the D for success? "I feel that, and I feel it for them." All people talk about is how bad the D is. It doesn't matter what they've done in the past. "All we care about is that this defense plays the way Michigan defenses are supposed to play." When they work hard, then you want them to see the rewards.

"I've always loved recruiting." You work to make your coaching job go better. "When you're recruiting for the University of Michigan and having the direction that Brady's giving us right now, and that Dave Brandon's giving us, you get your blood going, because you want that young man to have this. You want him to have what's about to happen here." Surprised how quickly the 2012 class has come together? "No. It's Michigan." Tremendous product with academic/athletic/tremendous city to sell to the players. Want to make sure you get Michigan-type players.

Did the NFL experience change him? "Gave me a whole new perspective on pressuring the quarterback." NFL QBs will tear you apart if you don't get pressure on. If you have tremendous pass-rush ability out of your front 4, you may not need to blitz. "I was the luckiest guy in the world to have a chance to work with those guys [Ravens players]. Coaching is taking what you have and making sure it can learn." Coaching is about guys who people don't think are great players, and give them a chance to get drafted because they improve. If he's not going to get an NFL chance, he'll have his degree.

In college, you also need to be ready for a QB that takes off running, which can alter schemes. In college, there's less prep time (practice, film, etc.) than for the players than in NFL. "You have to make sure that you don't slow your players down because they don't know what to do." There will be plenty of defenses installed, but they won't be called unless they can be executed properly. You don't run the same defenses every week - the opposing offense can dictate what pressures and playcalls you use.

Expectations: "I do" expect them to set the world on fire. "I wouldn't be coaching if I didn't think we'd be able to get this defense up to the level that Michigan expects." If players play hard and execute assignments, they can succeed.

"I know in my heart what's about to happen here. We're going to have a Michigan football program that Bo, Coach Moeller and Coach Carr are going to be proud of again." When it happens, we'll find out. Passionate people with great product means something good is about to happen. Bo would like Hoke, how he teaches, and his passion.

Watched 3 game of film from last year- Wisc, MSU, and ND. "Those are hard-nosed physical teams, and like I said our #1 thing on D will be to be physical and stop the run." Hasn't watched college film other than looking at draft prospects over the past 3 years. Only has watched on TV. Watched Florida and Michigan last year as Ravens coach - just caught them on TV. "Anyplace that you've been at, when they're not having success, it bothers you."

Fall Camp 2011: Day One Presser Notes

Fall Camp 2011: Day One Presser Notes

Submitted by Tim on August 8th, 2011 at 10:05 PM

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Brady Hoke

Actual News:

  • There are no real injuries on the team. Troy Woolfolk and JT Floyd are full-strength, "we're pretty daggone healthy"
  • "Darryl's done a great job with what we've asked him to do, and we'll go from there." He will be able to practice with the team as he redshirts. The redshirt will not affect the number of scholarships available for the 2012 class (still 26).
  • "There's a couple guys" who will challenge to be the starting punter in camp. Matt Wile will be able to (possibly) do both. "You can be a great kicker on State Street, but we kick up on Main Street." They still don't know how the new video boards will affect the wind in the stadium, so kickers will practic ein pressure situations there.
  • Will Campbell left spring around 342 pounds, now he's around 319 pounds. Taylor Lewan has gained a few pounds.
  • There will be five days of 2-a-days during summer camp. That can be adjusted, based on how the practices are going. On Wednesday and Thursday, the players will be in shoulder pads and helmets, then full pads start on Friday. Guys are practicing hard even though they aren't in pads yet. There's a balancing act between being physical in practice and keeping guys healthy. Quarterbacks won't be live during camp.
  • In the past, summer camp could consist of three days with just freshmen, to get a little extra teaching in for the young guys. They don't have that anymore, but sometimes the freshmen will stay an extra half an hour after practice to get some work in.
  • As far as installation, both sides of the ball need three bread and butter plays "that we can hang our hat on." On offense, that includes the power play, a play-action pass off that, and a 2-minute specific play. On defense, they need three calls guys can execute without having to think.

The first day of camp is best for seeing how the players' bodies have changed, and getting a first evaluation on team toughness and senior leadership.

The players came into camp with an attitude of being ready to improve.

It's too early to evaluate running backs. They've only had one day in shorts so far.

There are enough players at wideout to make up for the absence of Stonum.

The team is too busy to worry about buying into any hype or anything. "We now we have so many things that we need to get better at, and so many things that we need to be a little more physical at."

It's been hard for Will Campbell to get established, as he's been moving around positions. Now, he's set at one position and will hopefully take advantage of that.

The first day of practice went alright, but Hoke has a list of things to talk about improving in the staff meeting and team meeting tonight.

The coaching staff needs to communicate clearly about what they want, so the players will be able to retain what they've been taught.

There's a lot of "want-to" and "pride" on the defense. They need to identify the playmakers before they can worry about what it will be this fall.

"We want a championship culture here. There's an accountability that we all have to have to each other for a championship culture."

David Molk

Molk doesn't have troubles gaining the right amount of weight. He's around 288 or 290 now.

Will Campbell came into Michigan out of shape, but he's been working hard ever since. There's a hunger in his eyes to succeed this year.

The chemistry on the offensive line is good.

"We didn't only work hard - which we've always done, we've always been a hard-working team - but we worked hard together." The team made strides together. In the past couple years, there were a few stragglers who weren't "all-in."

The first couple days of camp aren't fun, because they don't get to hit each other yet.

There's less yelling out of the new staff. There wasn't a problem with the yelling before, but it's just not there now.

Jerel Worthy's tattoo is stupid. "I don't know why you'd stain your body like that. It's his issue."

Both lines are strengths of the team because they have experience. "Put more pressure on us. If the offensive line is the only thing judged to win a game, put it on me. We'll win."

Denard's been working on dropping back, and the offense is running smoothly. There's no difference for the offensive line. There's a misconception that spread offensive lines aren't physical, but Michigan ran primarily inside last year.

The fifth-year seniors haven't had a satisfying season yet. After the 9-4 Capital One Bowl year (which should have been better), they had three disappointing seasons. "There's nothing more that I want this year then to win every game and beat every opponent by as many points as possible."

The seniors have passion together for winning, and that will rub off on the younger players. Hoke gives the class some responsibilities, and that has made them tighter as a group.

"I guess it can make them tougher" for a defense to practice against a pro-style offense.

Troy Woolfolk

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There's a sense that things are returning to "Michigan" again, after a few weak years. They didn't stray away over the past three years, but the winning wasn't there. "The main thing about that Michigan tradition is winning."

The toughest part of getting back on the field is the mental aspect of believing that you can make the cuts you could before. "Will I be the same athlete that I was?"

The defense will be better this year because they'll bring more intensity. The secondary will improve with more experience, because the freshmen got thrown into the fire last year, and now the veterans are returning. This is also Troy's favorite defense of the four coordinators in five years. "It's not too much of thinking... I just feel like we can react and we're putting pressure on people." They're focusing on the little details of technique, which should help the defense be more successful this year.

Will Campbell (hey, expect lots of MSM columns about him this week!) hit his weight goal. That's helping him move faster and be a better athlete.

It's going to be tough for Darryl Stonum to sit at home on the away game weekends. Troy went through it last year with his injury, and he'll try to help Darryl through it. Stonum, Brandon Herron, and some of the other teammates got in contact with Troy last year, and he'll do that going forward.

The year off helped Troy gain an appreciation for the mental aspect of the game, instead of just relying on his athleticism (since he couldn't do the physical part last year). Is he as fast as we was before the injury? "Faster. No doubt." Before he was back to 100% on the ankle, he had to work on the right speed mechanics instead of just running out there, now that it's back to full strength, he has the technique and the natural ability.

Coach Hoke sees Michigan as "his final stone," rather than seeing each coaching job as another stepping stone. That sincerity and passion for Michigan are part of what has made him such a successful recruiter.

Troy is planning to compete for a starting spot - nothing is guaranteed. He's planning to only play corner.

There's nothing wrong with a coach who yells constructively. These coaches prefer to explain rather than yell though.

Ryan Van Bergen

The tempo of this camp is a little slower than in the past, because there's a bit more focus on individual teaching of the new schemes.

Mike Martin, RVB, and Will Heininger did a good job getting the D-line together in the summer to work on individual things, because they all want to get better. "We tried to spend a lot of time together as a unit... we tried to make each other as close and as tight as possible before camp started." They're still a work in progress.

Taylor Lewan came in around 250 pounds, and he's put in a lot of work in the past couple years to get up to 303 now. Craig Roh has put on 10-15 pounds as well. RVB is up near 290. That's a good weight for him in the scheme. There's been some emphasis for a lot of guys up front to add weight. In the previous regime, quickness was more valued.

He was eating 6,000-7,000 calories per day to gain weight. It's tough to eat that much and keep a diet of healthy foods - you need good fuel foods. "My specialty right now is pineapple-glazed salmon."

The defensive line should get more pressure on the QB this year. "I think we had some good pressure on quarterbacks last year, but the amount of takedowns we had when we got there, we weren't cutting it." They want to lead the league in QB takedowns this fall.

"I feel an obligation right now to my seniors" to have a successful season. They've been through a lot with coaching changes, etc. "I want these guys to be remembered as some guys who came in and helped the transition for Coach Hoke."

Jerel Worthy's tattoo: "He can put whatever he wants on his body, he's still gotta play a football game."

B1G Media Days: Player Roundtable

B1G Media Days: Player Roundtable

Submitted by Tim on July 29th, 2011 at 1:23 PM

Hoke notes coming on Monday. Apologies for minimal editing, but I'm eager to leave the living hell that is McCormick Place.

Denard Robinson

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Why does Denard smile playing football? "It's a game, and I enjoy playing it. Obviously I'm still playing, so I'm still smiling."

Even though there was a switch in offensive scheme, Denard said his first thought was to do whatever it takes to play. Denard doesn't worry about outside perception that he can't throw. He and his teammates know what he can do, and he'll show it on the field. The timing with receivers is looking good. "We've got some deep routes in there, and we have some routes where they can make a choice and get open. It's a good deal."

The biggest thing Denard has been working on this offseason is his footwork. "Keep my feet underneath me so I can make throws anywhere I want to throw it." Stepping up in the pocket is another adjustment he's making. Getting timing down with receivers is another area for improvement.

The team has been working hard all summer. They're getting bigger, faster, and stronger. "The seniors and I, we organized the workouts and 7-on-7s. That was a big thing for this year." Everybody was ready to participate in the offseason workout.

Denard never got to a point where he was leaning toward leaving Michigan. It was tough when Rich was fired, "That's the guy that recruited me, but at the same time, I was with my teammates and my family." David Molk and Ryan Van Bergen gave him the best advice, along with Mike Barwis. They told him that there's no better school or family than the University of Michigan. After he got fired, Coach Rodriguez told Denard to completely buy in to Hoke's system, and he would continue succeeding. It meant a lot to Denard that he told him to continue buying in. Coach Smith (now at Indiana) also told him to buy in 100%. "I bought into Coach Rod's offense, and I'm buying into this offense."

Brady Hoke's first message to the team was to hold each other accountable. "We're Michigan, and we're supposed to compete for the Big Ten every year." "What we've been doing lately is holding each other accountable." If guys aren't doing what it takes to win a Big Ten Championship, their teammates are on them.

The national attention is different after coming from a small town. "It's alright, it's good. I don't do crazy stuff anyhow" so it's not harmful. He likes being recognized around campus, too. It's easy to ignore media hype. "I don't too much care for the hype."

Asked about the Ohio State/Michigan State clocks: "We do have a countdown for the Western Michigan game, so that's the main thing right now. That's the main thing. That's a big game, we have to prove ourselves." Denard grew up watching the Florida/Florida State rivalry, but the Michigan/"Ohio" game is a much bigger rivalry. "It's the border. We fight for Michigan, and they fight for Ohio."

Denard was nicked up a lot last year, but "playing football, you're gonna have nicks and bruises, so you've gotta play through that."

"It's still going to be exciting, we've still got the guys we had last year." There are explosive receivers, and some good running backs. "I know all of them are gonna be ready to play."

Denard isn't usually a vocal leader, but when he has to speak up, he will.

There was no issue getting guys to come to workouts this year. There was pretty much 100% attendance at voluntary workouts, which was not the case last year.

"You get a feel for when you want to run and when you shouldn't run. If you see an open receiver, don't miss him. You want to get him the ball."

Despite last year's individual success, Denard always maintains drive to improve. "How I look at it is always work like I'm second string or third string." He plays and works out with a hunger to improve.

Denard isn't much of a celebrator, so he's not worried about the effects of the new taunting rules that can take scores of the table.

Denard has gained 5-10 pounds since last season.

"I did a lot last year. It's going to be hard to say I can do any more than I did last year, but I think I can do a little more, I can outdo what I did last year."

Low expectations? "They say the 1997 team was one of the teams that was underrated."

Whenever Darryl Stonum earns his way back on the team, he'll be welcomed. "I want him to be back on the team, but it's up to Coach Hoke."

The offensive line has gotten a lot bigger, but they're still mobile.

Kevin Koger

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Denard's improvement: His arm has always been good, he can throw touch passes and the long ball. His arm strength isn't a question: he mangled one of Kevin's fingers with a pass in practice. It's still bent (pictured at right).

"I honestly feel like we don't have a #1 [receiver]." There are a number of guys that can step up and be the top target on a given day. Still sounds like a blessing and a curse to me.

"Dileo, he's deceptively quick." He did well on returns last year, and is now improving his route running and hands.

Jerald Robinson has good hands and body control.

The freshmen don't work out in the same groups as the returning players, and they can't participate in 7-on-7s due to their schedule. They've come out to play catch with some of the guys, though.

Chris Barnett is an established pass-catching threat, and Kevin's advice is to work on blocking. "It's a long season; if you don't play in the first game, you might play the fifth, sixth, seventh game."

In 7-on-7s, Koger is usually covered by Carvin Johnson or Brandon Herron.

Marvin Robinson is a big hitter. It doesn't take him a long run-up to build power.

Troy's return has brought some enthusiasm to the defense because he's a funny guy, and a fun guy to be around. JT Floyd is back as well. "Troy, he's a veteran, he knows where to be at, when to be there, he knows how to disguise coverages well, he drives on the ball really well.

Carvin Johnson is not the fastest, biggest, or strongest guy. "But he has a knack for making plays, he's always around the ball." Kevin has trust in the safeties to make plays.

There's a lot of competition among the linebackers, and there are spots up for grabs. Whoever plays the best in camp will earn starting positions.

Brandon Herron is a fast guy, and Koger has to beat him with technique, and Demens is a strong guy who you have to beat with separation, because if he gets his hands on you, you're done.

"Look at Wisconsin last year, look how many points they put up during the season. They ran a pro-style offense. They ran tight ends a lot of the time. It's proven that a pro-style offense can put up a lot of points."

The offense wants to control the tempo of the game this year. The defense is ready to get back onto the field whenever they need to, but the offense can control the ball.

Outside of Denard, Roy Roundtree and Junior Hemingway are some of the big play guys. Kevin jokes he'll be happy to catch any passes at all this year because there are so many good options for the offense.

Coach Hecklinski has done a good job with the receivers, making sure they do what they have to do.

A lot of the running backs haven't gotten much game experience, so it's exciting to see who will emerge.

Mike Martin

There's been a lot of improvement since last year's defense. The seniors especially are working to leave the school the way they want to be remembered. "We've all been through it together. We know what needs to be done. We don't want to have any problems. We don't want to have it be like last year."

"At the end of the day, we don't want to say that Michigan beat Michigan." What happened in the past is gone, and they're excited about what's going to happen in the future.

Martin likes what he saw in the film from spring practice. Everyone looks excited to play defense, and get out on the football field. "There's a lot of worry; guys were doing a lot of thinking on the field." Now, guys are able to not think and simply execute their assignments.

On Greg Mattison: "The guy eats and breathes excellence." He's a great teacher of the game. Hoke and Mattison have credibility, and have proven that they know what they're talking about.

There's a big emphasis on being tough and hardnosed on defense. Hoke gets in the D-Line's faces specifically, because they're where the defense starts. Everything "starts and ends in the trenches." Previous Championship defenses at Michigan were defined by words like "toughness," etc.

Martin, Van Bergen, and a couple of young guys will get a lot of small-group attention from Coach Hoke in practice. Technique and fundamentals are stressed every day. Hoke, Mattison, and Montgomery are all on the same page and teaching the same things. Hand placement, footwork (down to the inches), hip movement, etc., need to be second-nature to the D-linemen, because they can't be overthinking on the field. The coaches are detail-oriented. They also are learning to adjust to the offensive formation without having to think about it.

"I've never seen more clocks in a building. I always know how many days there are until whatever game it is." It's a constant reminder of what is coming ahead. "We know what we have to do come September 3rd."

It's fun to watch film with Coach Mattison because there's active involvement by people, instead of a lecture-type format. They're always learning, and picking Mattison's brain. "Watching film and seeing me drop back, it just looks funny."

The four-man front makes it easier on the point of attack for the defensive line, because somebody is going to have a one-on-one matchup, and there are fewer double teams.

"His attitude and his mindset has totally gotten better." He was in a bit of a comfort zone before, where he wasn't constantly being pushed to improve, because he was a backup. Now he's being counted on, and has answered the call. He's a key component of the defense, as the 3-tech is a key part of Mattison's defensive scheme. "He answered the call and step up to the play. Q's been doing a great job behind him."

The team likes watching Ravens film, because it's a good comparison to what scheme they're going to be running. Otherwise, Mattison doesn't talk about his NFL success (HALOL Charlie Weis). Watching the guys who are the best at their positions helps the players realize what little things they need to do to improve. "I think all the guys are always picking stuff and trying to make their game better."

The defensive line is doing a good job at the point of attack, but their main room for improvement is making the second move and getting off a block to make plays in the backfield.

There's more accountability among players in the weight room this offseason. The new strength staff also puts an emphasis on getting bigger and reps to failure.

Brady Hoke B1G Presser Notes

Brady Hoke B1G Presser Notes

Submitted by Tim on July 28th, 2011 at 2:06 PM

A recap of Brady Hoke's time in front of the cameras (and also off-camera media questions) at Big Ten Media Days today.

It's humbling to represent Michigan in the greatest conference in the country. It's the Wolverines' 132nd year of football. "I don't think we're rebuilding. Period." The players understand what Michigan means, and the team doesn't put stock into a rebuilding year.

The players are doing what they've been asked, but the team is still a long way from where we need to be. How you go through camp (attitude, toughness, discipline, accountability) will lead to how the team performs.

The expectation is always that seniors will lead the team. Fall camp is "funnest time of the year." Hoke thinks the guys will show up on August 8th in shape to play.

Fortunate at Michigan to have several great rivalries. "The rivalry with Ohio is as big a rivalry as there is in the sport." If you don't get excited for that game "you may not be human." Hoke says the team understands the importance of that game, and they talk about it all year. OSU is not a wounded team right now. They're a tremendous program with great tradition. Michigan has 42 B10 championships. "When you have schools that have those legacies, I don't see anybody as wounded." It doesn't diminish the rivalry that both teams have taken reputation hits recently.

Hoke is excited for Denard's potential in the offense. He's done a tremendous job so far, and ran the same offense in high school that he'll be running now. The mechanics of taking snap, play action, etc. is not new to him. Borges has done a tremendous job with him.

"We're smart enough to have elements that he does well from what he did in the past in the spread in our offense." They'll adjust the proportion of spread and pro-style elements in the offense depending on how the team executes in fall camp. They still need to worry about finding a tailback, which should happen within the first 2-3 weeks of the fall.

Why would you worry about changing schemes, when they were so successful last season? "Two sides of the ball in the game of football." As a defensive coach, when you play against a pro-style offense in practice, you build a toughness. This is a physical league, and you need to stop physical offenses.

The excitement of adding Nebraska's tradition, adding a championship game, brings even more fanaticism for the Big Ten conference. Even if it means playing OSU twice? "That game always needs to be played the last week in November. That's tradition. I think there are certain traditions you don't mess with." If you happen to play them twice in a row, so be it. It happens in other sports all the time.

Mattison doesn't just bring X and O benefits. Knowledge, teaching. "That's first and foremost: you've gotta be a tremendous teacher." There's a scheme knowledge that is good, but it's the relationships with 18-23yo kids, and motivation skills all tremendous. If the staff or head coach aren't thinking of the best interest of the kids, they aren't doing a good job.

Hasn't made decision on Stonum. There's no timeframe for making a decision, and he's not worried about team chemistry in waiting to see if Darryl does all the right things to earn his place back on the team. Redshirting this season is possible, but there's too much that can happen in between to be thinking about that.

As for other wideouts, Junior [Hemingway] and Jerald [Robinson] have done a nice job. Odoms "brings a lot of life to us." Presents problems in the slot.

Mike Martin, Ryan Van Bergen, and Will Campbell have worked hard this summer, along with Craig Roh. The seniors are "doing the things that seniors should do."

JT Floyd should be healthy enough to practice right away.

Recruiting: "This might sounds arrogant, but if it is, it is: We're Michigan." Great history, tremendous staff. lifeblood of a program is the guys who come in. Wants toughness, team players, etc. The coaches out on the road do a great job, but Michigan sells itself.

Recruiting is going well, but Signing Day is still a long way away. "We've got 5 or 6 left that we need to be a little picky about." They'll probably sign more than 25 prospects. Recruiting is strong in Ohio, but it's always been like that. Possibly started with Bo Schembechler's roots in Ohio.

Big House night game. "We're looking toward September 3rd first and foremost." First night game with a rival, but the place is going to be jumping with excitement, looking forward to it.

On Kellen Jones: "He's just not enrolled in school." There are no other players that he knows of who won't be on the roster this fall.

Hoke got a bit of time off, but he wasn't able to "turn off" coach mode. He has 115 sons to worry about every day.

Closes with "Thank you, and Go Blue."

Lacrosse Announcement: Press Conference Notes

Lacrosse Announcement: Press Conference Notes

Submitted by Tim on May 25th, 2011 at 2:48 PM

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Michigan announced the formation of men's and women's varsity lacrosse programs this morning, A few interesting tidbits from the press conference:

  • Athletic Director David Brandon said his "team" has identified lacrosse as the fastest-growing sport in America, and in Michigan. HS programs in the state have gone from 50 to 180 in the past 10 years. "It's also a great television sport," which likely means some TV down the road.
  • "On the men's side, we've applied for admission to the ECAC." [ed: for a rundown on Michigan's future conference opponents check out MaizeAndBlueWahoo's excellent diary.] The application has been received, and Brandon is confident the Wolverines' bid will be accepted, saying "we have high expectations that process will happen quickly, and we are very encouraged in terms of initial feedback we have received."
  • On the women's side, they will apply for admission to the ALC. Florida, Hopkins, Northwestern, Penn State, Ohio State, and Vanderbilt are the current members of that league. The Athletic Department and Michigan's coach are going to work together to set up the non-conference portion of the schedule.
  • IMG_3158.JPGDavid Brandon stated that a national search will begin immediately for a women's coach, but as far as men's goes "I have a primary candidate in mind for that position." That candidate is longtime club coach John Paul. As soon as Michigan has the position publicly listed for a week (in accordance with the law), JP will be introduced as men's coach. For women's coaching candidates, Brandon said he wanted somebody with a track record of building a program from the bottom up.
  • JP stated that 25 members from this season's club lacrosse roster will return to the team for next year's inaugural varsity year, including 4-time MCLA All-American Trevor Yealy, who will be a 5th-year senior. Filling out the first varsity roster for Michigan are 10 incoming recruits and several potential transfers.
  • Brandon gave some love to the "Project Lacrosse Founder's Club," which was formed over the past few months. They have worked hard to ensure the necessary fundraising could be completed. Over 70 people contributed monetarily, including several "major gifts."
  • "We are in the process of putting facility plans together. And what we're trying to do at Michigan Athletics, as opposed to creating one-off plans, we've really spent a lot of time of late in a master planning mode." Lacrosse has been included in the AD's "master planning process." It's still a work in progress, and Schembechler's practice fields, the Big House, the UM Soccer Stadium, and other facilities will be used in the meantime. Building their own home is in the long-term plans, though Brandon said that's at least 3 years off.
  • Lacrosse is gaining momentum as a sport, and Brandon is hopeful that Michigan's programs can be a revenue-generating opportunity down the road - though that has nothing to do with why they're adding the sport. "I've seen around the country, crowds that show up in double-digit thousands for their competitions." Operating costs for both programs combined will be $3 million. That will be a big investment, but donor support is expected to be a major help.
  • Brandon is most excited that 84 more athletes at the University of Michigan will have varsity athletics opportunities, and 25 new scholarships will be available for student-athletes. "What a great opportunity. At a time when a lot of Athletic Departments are shrinking and contemplating cutting sports, for us to be here adding two major sports like the ones we're adding today is something we're blessed to be able to do."
  • There are no plans to add any other sports in the near future. Taking on two more is a big deal, and the Athletic Department will take some time to "digest" that before making any other moves.
  • Brandon expects the men's and women's teams to both be competitive right away. "The only thing I'll tell you is: We're Michigan. We're not gonna add these sports, and we're not gonna make the financial commitment and put the time and energy that we have and will put into these if we're not prepared to go out and compete for championships." He doesn't want arbitrary timelines, but they'll evaluate the programs going forward. Competitive reasons explain why men are going in 2012, while women will start playing games in 2013.
  • "The idea of featuring the sport in conjunction with the spring [football] game - because the seasons overlap from a timing perspective - I know Ohio State has done that with great success." That's something Michigan will consider going forward. Having the largest stadium available to the program will be a great opportunity. If Michigan is fortunate enough to host a first-round NCAA Tournament game down the road, they'd submit a bid for Michigan Stadium to host.
  • There are a lot of rivalries available to Michigan - Ohio State, Notre Dame, and others. Lacrosse started as an Eastern regional sport, but it's spreading to the West. Colleges as far as California are considering adding the sport. "We think this is going to take us some really interesting places, and they're not all in the East." Brandon believes that forward-thinking Big Ten ADs will look at lacrosse as a new varsity sport in the future.

I'll have some more specific stuff (i.e. "stuff that's completely uninteresting to people who don't already care about lacrosse") up on GreatLaxState this afternoon. And, to close it out, the final video blog in Michigan's MCLA history, courtesy of graduating senior Pat Stansik: