Newsbits: Zirbel, Huyge Injured

Submitted by Brian on August 18th, 2008 at 11:16 AM


Ugh. Michigan’s offensive line, already paper thin after a wide variety of departures, is the last place Michigan can afford an injury. So this is lame: reports from Fan Day indicate that Mark Huyge has a high ankle sprain and the injury that held Corey Zirbel out of the last week of camp is going to last into the season. A high ankle sprain can linger a long time, so Huyge might not be heard from until midseason. He wasn’t being mentioned as a potential starter, but he’s one of the few non-freshman (of the true variety) available past the starters. Zirbel’s issue is apparently less severe but there’s talk of minor knee surgery and he will miss at least the Utah game. If you’ve got a Rivals subscription you can hear him say it sucks about 30 times in four minutes. Zirbel had locked down a starting guard spot. His loss presses Dave Molk into the lineup at center; David Moosman slides over to guard.

In the absence of the two injured linemen, Michigan now has one backup who’s not a true freshman: redshirt sophomore tackle Perry Dorrestein. Hopefully Zirbel returns ASAP.

How have you been in the last 30 seconds? Rodriguez’s press conferences are coming so fast and furious that they are now largely devoid of information that hasn’t already been relayed. The latest was Media Day, and it was mostly been there, done that. (The injury information above was pried out of the players themselves by inquisitive fans.)  A few points of interest, though:

  • “It's pretty exciting, but at the same time, pretty nerve-wracking, when you're going to have upwards of eight, nine, 10 true freshmen that may play significant time in your first ball game.”
  • This was followed by the usual list of players: Odoms and Robinson—mentioned as a slot unit—, McGuffie and Shaw—also mentioned as a unit. Stonum and then a surprising mention for stick-thin Roy Roundtree. On defense: Floyd, Cissoko, safety Brandon Smith, and DT Mike Martin.
  • Rodriguez was really noncommittal about who’s going to start at running back. Brown and Minor, the two presumed leaders, “will play” because they are “good players” but there was no indication anyone had any sort of hold on the job.
  • Fast guys will return kicks. Greg Mathews was mentioned at punt returner but that was after Donovan Warren and along with the two slot electrons; kick returns will fall to Shaw, McGuffie, Trent, and Harrison.
  • Feagin is suffering from “information overload” and a shoulder injury; he is not in the mix to start: “He's not close to being ready, but I wasn't overly optimistic he would be because there's so much you have to learn here in the first year.”
  • Cheery: “There will be some anxious moments in a couple weeks.”
  • Also cheery: “Offensively, we still have depth issues, all across the board at every position, and particularly up front.” More on the offensive linemen: “Some of the offensive linemen, the true freshmen, they're not quite ready, but some of them are in the two deep by default. It's a little nerve wracking, but they're working really hard. I like that class. It's a really good class.”

So there you go. Very little in the way of actual news outside of kick returners, but a totally awesome sense of foreboding that I am digging right now.

One thing you can glean by reading between the lines: Shaw’s position has been in doubt ever since he signed with Michigan, but it’s clear now he’s a tailback first despite the fall roster listing him at wide receiver. Rodriguez talked about him as a running back several times usually in concert with McGuffie. Also, that “Michigan drill” thing in which Shaw was so impressive is a RB drill. Running backs can line up all over the field in Rodriguez’s offense, so we’ll probably see him in the slot from time to time.

More camp stuff. Michigan Football Saturdays helpfully compiles the various media available from the official site. I enjoyed this picture:

tractor truck

Terrence Robinson looks pensive. And short, short, short.

Camp Confidential” comes to you courtesy Carlos Brown. Mostly fluff, but further confirmation that Odoms, Robinson, and McGuffie are looking good. Also this:

We'll have a Gong Show next week, which will be interesting because I've never been a part of something like that before.


Some bullets from MGoBlue indicate that freshmen are getting the opportunities they are because minor dings are holding certain players out of the lineup. Reports are Minor has a hamstring issue—nasty, as those can linger—and Brown has yet another undisclosed minor ding. Given the current trajectory of his injuries (broken hand last fall, finger injury from “freak weightlifting accident” this spring), I assume he had the tip of his pinky finger bitten off by a grue.

Also, space!

Senior/junior punter Zoltan Mesko has continued to impress in camp.

Space aficionados will enjoy this minute and a half of Zoltan punts:

Why? I don’t know. I don’t care.

Eroc has some interesting stuff at his site, including an extended discussion of quarterbacks. Some items that jumped out:

Regarding Chambers playing this weekend, it seems that Coach Shafer and Defensive staff have put in a dime package off the nickel look.

So Chambers is playing some WLB/safety hybrid thing. Interesting. Michigan had high hopes for him before a Big Ten eligibility snafu booted him from the field, but that says to me that Michigan’s linebackers aren’t impressing. Also, Babb and Herron are mentioned as guys who might end up transferring for more playing time. FWIW.

Other stuff: more stuff on quarterbacks from Mark Snyder; Rivals has a freebie interview with JT Floyd; Carty picks out ten things we don’t have to worry about and starts the list with Fred Jackson and Zoltan, which, like, no offense to either of those guys but shit.



August 18th, 2008 at 11:31 AM ^

I doubt Rodriguez would be gushing over the team no matter what they do in practice.  Balas posted a RR press conference quote from a year ago and it was the same type of coachspeak.  Personally, I think he is sandbagging a little bit.  Feint praise is about all a coach will give this time of year. 

Excited about Shaw, McGuffie, and Odoms.  Sure, they will be green, but they are fast, fast, fast. 

Evil Empire

August 18th, 2008 at 11:52 AM ^

There's a very Boyz II Men-ish quality to that photo, right down to the matching outfits. 

Based on that image I'd guess Stonum has a tendency to pull to the right while running.

chitownblue (not verified)

August 18th, 2008 at 12:09 PM ^

Terrence Robinson is pensive on the left, Brandon Herron is sitting on the back, Troy Woolfolk is driving, Stevie Brown is riding shotgun, and Stonum is in the short pants.


August 18th, 2008 at 12:55 PM ^

It's fair to say there's a massive dropoff from McAvoy/Molk/Moosman/Zirbel's projected competency and that of true freshmen and thus Zirbel's loss is about as damaging as possible for a question mark starter at guard.


August 18th, 2008 at 12:19 PM ^

"So Chambers is playing some WLB/safety hybrid thing. Interesting."

I read somewhere that Shafer has (always?) had a guy like this in his defense. I can't remember it, but I know that player is given a specific name. I'll try to did it up. Anyone know what I'm talking about?

chitownblue (not verified)

August 18th, 2008 at 12:29 PM ^

I see it this way: we are replacing one untested question mark with another untested question mark. From me, this receives a shrug.

chitownblue (not verified)

August 18th, 2008 at 1:03 PM ^

Brian - but he's getting replaced by Molk/Mooseman, no? So, essentially, doesn't this mean that someone else needs to get hurt before full panic-mode? I understand that this puts one additional true-frosh on the 2-deep, but it's not like they're in the lineup, yet (fingers crossed).


August 18th, 2008 at 3:10 PM ^

Sure, you're right. Zirbel was the highest rated interior lineman and apparently the best since the other three guys were duking it out for the other two spots, but the dropoff shouldn't be huge.

However, the margin of error has gone from slim to nonexistent for the first few weeks of the season.


August 18th, 2008 at 1:48 PM ^

as long as everyone else stays healthy while he's out, it's no big deal. but one more injury and ricky barnum is playing as a true frosh. and that's bad bad news


August 18th, 2008 at 1:52 PM ^

The youtube video should be labelled "Michigan offensive highlights from the 2007 OSU game."

 The picture of the dudes on the John Deere should be captioned "Keeping with the erosion of family values under RR, freshman hazing is alive well on the Michigan football team." I can't really think of any other explanation for such a ridiculous picture.


August 18th, 2008 at 1:55 PM ^

With less returning experience on the OL than we've had for a long
time, combined with the dings to two guys with what little experience
we've got, with freshmen alarmingly present on the OL depth chart,
along with absolutely no game experience at QB in a completely new
system to boot, RR's reservations aren't "sandbagging"
so much as a recognition of tough reality. You don't win 9 games with
the inexperience we've got at those two positions when you play in the
B10. Barwis may be getting the team into great shape, but that just means our inexperienced players will be in great shape while they're making the inevitable mistakes out on the field. Our D is going to have to play lights out for us to win 8.

Michigan Arrogance

August 18th, 2008 at 2:12 PM ^

from 8-4 to 7-5. the OL is thinner than I thought and we'll need to be really lucky to avoid having freshmen play significantly on the OL come OCT. luckily, we start out w/ a lot of home games and a bye the 1st 7 weeks. that bye actually comes at a great time: right before Wisc & Ill.