Practice Bits: Nick Sheridan? Seriously? Seriously. Comment Count

Brian August 13th, 2008 at 2:16 PM

Carlos Brown pitching the ball; via the Daily.

There was another open-ish practice yesterday. It was significant for two events. Event #1 was Mike Shaw smoking guys. Jim Carty:

The freshman from Ohio sprinted past the first defensive player, then cut back around the second. If that had been all he did, it would have still been an impressive display of speed and shiftiness, but highly touted freshman corner Boubacar Cissoko was still between Shaw and the end of the cone.

Shaw hinted at a move and then simply squared up and pancaked Cissoko. Rolled right over him. With authority.

"Ohhhhhhh!" went the team.

"Wow," whispered a reporter.

Shaw and McGuffie were specifically called out as freshmen who will be contributors this fall:

"(They) are two guys who will not be redshirted," Rodriguez said Tuesday. "The biggest (issue) as freshmen coming in is, can they mentally handle the schemes and the pace? Those two have shown they can so far. They've done enough to convince us they can contribute as freshmen, and I think as much mentally as physically.

"They're both fast, explosive players that I think are good with the spread system, so we're excited about it. As much as anything, I like the way they practice. Coming here in the summer helped. They're practicing like they've been here longer than a couple weeks."

Elsewhere in the youth movement on offense: Odoms and Robinson are obviously taking hold of the slot position. Toney Clemons, the nominal spring starter at the position, is now moving between the slot and outside receiver. Kevin Koger got special mention when tight ends were discussed; sounds like that DE move is off the table; Barnum and Khoury mentioned in a question about which true freshmen OL have a shot to play. No O'Neill, about which more later

Event #2 was a seismic shift in the quarterbacks competition. You can read this on any of the premium sites or in the Carty article, and I believe it to be true: Nick Sheridan, not Steven Threet, is your probable starter. The media got to see Sheridan significantly outperform Threet yesterday in the 30 minutes they were allotted. I have some inside baseball on this one suggesting that this is no smokescreen or motivational ploy and that Sheridan is currently the legitimate favorite to start against Utah. Hide the children.

This may not be hugely important. No matter who starts chances are he struggles at some point and the other guy gets a chance to prove himself. But the assumption that it was Threet with Nick Sheridan an emergency option is right out. According to Rodriguez, Feagin...

Justin has been okay. He was a little hampered the last couple days with a sore shoulder. This morning he looked a little bit better, but he has got a long way to go, more mentally than anything else, because there is so much for him to learn.

...does not seem a viable option yet.

Inside bits! A previously-reliable emailer provides practice insights from someone with an opportunity to take in an entire practice session:

  • Practice is extremely intense and the tempo is high. This would normally be blah blah blah but this individual has seen a lot of different colleges practice; this is a notable difference between Michigan and the typical program. Coaches were a little too intense, maybe, choosing to yell at guys instead of showing them how they screwed up. Notable exception: DC Scott Shafer, who was a technique hound instructing everyone on the defense.
  • The offensive line, as expected, looks rough. O'Neill has a great frame and upside but is not ready to play this year.
  • Confirmation that the young tailbacks looked excellent; Shaw "one of the fastest players I've ever seen in college."
  • Thumbs up to Cissoko.
  • Regarding EEEE Barwis: it's not so much that Barwis is a god who raises wolves and all that, but that Michigan's previous regime was hopelessly out of date. Of all the football factory schools, Michigan had a reputation around the NFL for having the least prepared, least conditioned athletes. [I find this a little hard to believe given all the guys who leap directly into NFL starting roles, but this guy's assessment comes from a place of great credibility. It does seem clear that some guys had ample motivation and training (Edwards, Hart), but others (Watson) were just this side of "blogger." -ed]
  • Trent is "way ahead" of where he was last year at this time and is the best NFL prospect on the defense. (Of players eligible for the next draft, so it's basically just him and the DL. I don't know if that's good. Next bullet.)
  • The defensive line plays too "stiff" -- not exactly sure what the upshot of this is -- and was not as impressive as Michigan fans might hope.
  • Not shocking: things are "ridiculously open" compared to the Carr regime.

Let's see Weis try this. Entertaining tidbit from Mark Snyder:

[Rodriguez was] standing over kicker K.C. Lopata as well, trying to rattle him on each successive kick, wagering something out of our earshot. Yet it became abundantly clear when the kicking drill was done and Rodriguez himself hit the deck and cranked out a bunch of pushups in the middle of the field. Rodriguez's energy with the players was clear and they all seemed to be engaged by his interaction.

And finally we can say what we've been waiting to say. The uniforms are official, the pads are on, and there's no quarter left for Michigan football fans:


The away jerseys suck.


chitownblue (not verified)

August 13th, 2008 at 2:20 PM ^





August 13th, 2008 at 2:50 PM ^

behind him. You could probably say Cissoko should work on getting off of his block and closing guys down before they get that much momentum, but if everything is exactly the same I don't think too many corners are making that tackle.

Tim Waymen

August 13th, 2008 at 2:39 PM ^

"The defensive line plays too "stiff" -- not exactly sure what the
upshot of this is -- and was not as impressive as Michigan fans might


But I thought that some guy on Rivals said that the defense was rock solid.  It's just practice, and maybe they need to give the offense room to operate.  I wouldn't freak out; we'll see how they do in a game situation. But it would be hard to match the talent of the 06 defense.  I don't know if they do, but at least they do in secondary.

cougar blue

August 13th, 2008 at 3:51 PM ^

if you're too stiff it is hard to get off of blocks and such. if they play loose and get good movement under them they can get off or beat the block before getting beat - but at this point in camp it is not surprising to see this... they have to get used to the pads again


August 13th, 2008 at 2:41 PM ^

sucking. but i think if enough people (and by people I mean older people who most likely want plain white jerseys with no frills whatsoever, no offense) it'll get changed.


August 13th, 2008 at 5:23 PM ^

The swoops are stupid for another reason, too: they're an adidas-wide branding thing. I bought a pair of soccer shorts that have them. I hate it when Michigan get suckered into things like Nike piping that other schools are also doing.


August 13th, 2008 at 3:11 PM ^

and i'm also not surprised by the D-Line thing either.  i'm glad that whatever the hell it is i think isn't completely wrong all the time.


August 13th, 2008 at 3:15 PM ^

Cissoko was probably the 35th corner to get pancaked by a RB in a college football practice today, and I have it on good authority he was #15,000 for Michigan in their history. Interestingly, Tyrone Wheatley holds the "running over DBs in practice situations" records, devouring 84 poor souls during his tenure.


Seriously, this type of thing happens all the freakin' time in football practice. It's not even close to "news", and it means exactly nothing to the team.  

Meeechigan Dan

August 13th, 2008 at 3:26 PM ^

As I said on the brain-dead wasteland that is the Rivals Fort:

I have absolutely no problem with Sheridan starting. I'd rather have a scrappy, mobile, accurate short passer who can scramble for those extra yards.

For those of you who think that an immobile Threet standing in the pocket behind THIS offensive line and winging it downfield is a good image, I'd like to know why you think that is such a critical formula. Stretching the field and keeping the defense honest only works when you have two components that are missing right now: protection and a reasonably accurate downfield passer.

Bring on scrappy Nick and all sorts of blazing fast electrons getting the ball in space. With our defense, NS and all that speed and RR's creativity only need to generate about 3 TDs a game to win 9 games.

chitownblue (not verified)

August 13th, 2008 at 3:28 PM ^

M dan (inadvertantly) brings a good point: we're going to get so many "scrappy lil' white dude" comments/articles if Sheridan starts that it will be never-ending barrage of cliche. That's always fun.


August 13th, 2008 at 3:39 PM ^

 Enough about the damned jerseys.  It's f'n Michigan long as they are blue, maize and white with a winged helmet who really gives a shit?  Are they less of a program/team for it?  Hell no.  So lets get past it and start kickin' some ass, ok?


August 13th, 2008 at 3:50 PM ^

I'm down with scrappy.  He's gonna be like a Jeff Garcia type guy.  It says he was making the short to medium throws which is really what we need him to do.  We don't have a great deep threat receiver even if we had a guy who could make those throws.  I look forward to watching him play, and seeing Carlos Brown pitching the ball in encouraging as well. 

Scrappy is exciting.


August 13th, 2008 at 5:24 PM ^

Yeah, that's it. Shaw was just outside the Rivals 100 and ripped up the track before he was disqualified for transfer shenanigans, so there's good reason to expect him to perform even leaving aside the trucking.

Ellipses Man

August 13th, 2008 at 3:57 PM ^

As a former player of a few sports I could tell in RichRod's comments that Sheridan was the guy. And when I realized that and saw the interview with Quarterbacks Coach Rod Smith on M GO BLUE, I realized that Michigan Football's Offense will now become a running back who throws. The idea that they will adapt to the talent base is a misnomer. Not entirely false or true. You go with what you know. In some ways RichRod doesnt understand Threet.

chitownblue (not verified)

August 13th, 2008 at 3:59 PM ^

My 5 scrappiest people of all time:

1. David Eckstein

2. Mickey Rooney

3. Vern Troyer

4. Estelle Getty

5. Nick Sheridan

chitownblue (not verified)

August 13th, 2008 at 4:00 PM ^

"I realized that Michigan Football's Offense will now become a running back who throws."


Tim Waymen

August 13th, 2008 at 4:05 PM ^

I don't know what the big worry is. I imagine that a mostly stationary Cissoko had to stop Shaw traveling at full speed. That must be hard for any CB. As long as you stop him I guess.

Btw, EA Sports loves Brandon Harrison.  The past few years in NCAA 07-09 he's been the impact player on the defense and was a returner in 07 and 08.  How good is he?  Is he really that fast?  That's a player I haven't known much about.

Tim Waymen

August 13th, 2008 at 4:53 PM ^

Use him as PR and KR.  I won Returner of the Year with him.  You'll thank me later.  But the thing is that Warren really is an incredibly talented CB.  I also enjoyed his 30 sec long punt return last year that produced 2 yards. I just don't get EA's love affair with Harrison.

I think it's time for me to move up to Heisman from All-American.  Have to drop the training wheels eventually. 

chitownblue (not verified)

August 13th, 2008 at 4:12 PM ^

There was a bloggy slapfight between Colin and Ninja on that very subject, Tim.

We resolved the following: Brendan Harrison is very, very, fast. He was one of the top high school sprinters when we recruited him. He's goon on defense sniffing out screens and blowing them up. And blitzing right past the QB.


August 13th, 2008 at 4:15 PM ^

except now they have a stripe. Oh Noez. Sounds like some girls talking about shoes or something. They look. almost. exactly. the. same.

Ellipses Man

August 13th, 2008 at 4:16 PM ^

Another thing.....if this is a one year deal, you almost have to pump Sheridan because Newsome is probably in the wings threatening to walk anyhow. Or hinting at it. Watching Threet throw lasers is not good for a recruit whose more RUN than allows the other schools to say things like,"We need a runner more than a passer Kevin and you'll be competing with a thrower in Threet." Playing Sheridan wets the appetite of other recruits or keeps em thinking Im next. I think Rich Rod is a simple guy but not a simpleton. I think he wants hands off. Find and recruit speed, work em out till they are so strong, and then turn em loose and feed of the chaos. I don't think he would enjoy movies by Ingmar Bergman........or books by Ray Kurzweil....not saying he couldnt but I think he's the type of guy who'd enjoy your good ol Michael Bay movie and a Tom Clancy book. This job, or coaching here at Michigan will change that though. He needs to prove he can be academically sound and produce pro prospects. You can say MI players werent in shape out of the Carr era but they were sound in the skill dept. You don't want to be the coach who reverses all the good and bad trends or gets rid of the bad and then loses the good. You dont want to go from being Quaterback U to Slot U. So there are short and long term challenges for him and his staff. I think one other thing is obvious, Shafer wants to be a head coach. And I think he deserves a shot at it eventually.