Presser And Practice Report 3-23-10

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


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

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

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

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

Rich Rodriguez

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

Steve Schilling

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

Troy Woolfolk

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

Practice Observations:

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



March 23rd, 2010 at 5:04 PM ^

"Mike Williams and Jordan Kovacs both like the positions they've moved to."

Tim (or anyone else): Where did they move? Anything that gets Kovacs closer to the LOS is OK by me.


March 23rd, 2010 at 5:06 PM ^

I've heard from a couple places that Cam Gordon has been looking good. This is good news. It's good to hear praise about Floyd, but I wish I heard more reassuring news about Turner.

I LOVE hearing that Lewan has a nasty streak. He might not get any starts this year, but he's gonna be GOOOOOD.


March 23rd, 2010 at 6:09 PM ^

Very interesting that Schilling names Toussaint as a power back considering that he was a high school track star and was known for his lateral movement when we recruited him.


March 23rd, 2010 at 7:44 PM ^

the same thing when I saw that. 5'10 200 lbs doesn't say powerback to me. Does anyone know how Fitz's vision as a runner is? I'm wondering if it may be average and he is missing the hole and using leg strength and a north-south mentality to get the necessary yards.

BTW, good to hear that there will be several scrimmages including the Spring Game. These kids need to learn, but also be put in "live" situations to see just how fast the college games really is played.


March 23rd, 2010 at 8:39 PM ^

Michigan Football Pays Medical Bills for Children, Hoping for Future Commitments When Healthy!

by (you know who)

In a horrifyingly desperate act of speculation on the recruiting trails, the Wolverines have begun brainwashing what they hope will be future players and donors by paying outrageous amounts toward expensive medical treatments. A source deep inside the hospital hints that they may also be funding experimental procedures involving using the DNA from former Heisman winners, infused in bone marrow, to help the children gain super speed, shiftiness, and hands along with their health . . .


March 23rd, 2010 at 7:07 PM ^

That $500 donation looks very intriguing. I already planned on donating but shoot, help a hospital and get sideline passes sounds like a double bonus. One good thing about all the injuries is building depth and getting the young guys more reps.


March 23rd, 2010 at 8:14 PM ^

While it's encouraging to hear that those who are healing are doing it on or ahead of schedule, I wonder . . . how many athletes, according to their coaches, suffer 'setbacks' this far from the first game?

I hope that the guys really are healing up with incredible fastnessitytionment.

los barcos

March 23rd, 2010 at 8:41 PM ^

for mott is a Fantastic idea. dont know who thought of it - brandon, rr, etc - but whoever, props.

as far as the 3-3-5, obes seems to think its only a situational defense - what would that situation be vis-a-vis our "standard" defense (the 3-4 under or whatever the hell its called these days)?? 3rd downs? spread passing teams? im asking because i honestly dont know.


March 23rd, 2010 at 9:03 PM ^

The $500 for the sideline passes is a pretty good deal. There are probably a lot of people who would pay that much for a sideline pass even if it didn't go to Mott's. Add in that you are also donating to charity (tax deductible, too) and that's a pretty red hot deal if you've got it.


March 23rd, 2010 at 10:18 PM ^

...announcing the total amount raised for Mott at the spring game by the Michigan Football program, its fans and the Beam family. I expect this will be a very substantial number. Another way for us all to be the Leaders and Best.


March 23rd, 2010 at 10:31 PM ^

Could someone enlighten me, these two phrases confuse me.

"Schilling is excited to be a leader on the offensive line"

"Schilling is bummed he won't be around for the first night game in Michigan Stadium"

Is he staying this year, or going to the draft? If he's staying, why won't he be at the game? If he's going, why is he doing a presser and why is he still a leader on the team (I would think that would be a violation, unless hired as a coach)?


March 24th, 2010 at 9:02 AM ^

They must have some sort of limit on those right? I can't imagine that the demand wouldn't be huge. Right now my only decision is between that one and the scrimmage passes.


March 24th, 2010 at 9:17 AM ^

I like that RR has let Woolfolk do as many pressers as he has. He tells it like it is and doesn't give the player-speak. Like when he threw Schaffer under the bus last year and this year--I read somewhere (Scout I think) that they didn't trust Schaffer. Also saying we was skeptical of G-Rob at first but now really likes the D they're playing and how he coaches. It seems like he's really becoming a leader and is willing to play wherever it will help the team most.


March 24th, 2010 at 9:29 AM ^

This makes two comments now from coaches and players regarding the D-backfield and there has been more praise for Floyd, and no "Turner's looking really good" comments for Justin. I believed that even with his late start last year, that given our horrible corner play, he would have played if he looked good enough in practice. Perhaps I'm wrong, but after a week I still haven't heard comments backing up the kind of athlete we all think he is.


March 24th, 2010 at 10:50 AM ^

I have seen quotes from players and coaches saying that Turner needs some work. I think they're trying to cut off high expectations for him. Some people think he's playing out of position. One practice observer said that if we played something like a Tampa 2 where he could sit in the flat and help in run support, he'd be great. sounds as if he's struggling with man coverage and/or playing in a deep third or deep half.

I think we might see him move to spur/bandit before too long.


March 24th, 2010 at 11:30 PM ^

I can't remember the article, but someone posted a story on here a little while ago where one of the defensive coaches said something along the lines of: Turner's performance in practice during the fall made the coaches think long and hard toward the end of the year about getting him on the field.

Lately over the years, I don't get excited or to down about the rumors/rumblings/reports from spring practice. It seems every year there's one or two players who get a lot of praise in the spring, but then come saturdays in the fall, I'm left scratching my head as to why this guy was getting so much praise in the spring.

That being said, I'm definitely eager to hear what transpires in the scrimmages, especially in the last one when they are in game like conditions.


March 24th, 2010 at 9:44 AM ^

I've been reading up on the 4-2-5 defense that many people think we will be running this year but after this most recent post (and talk of the 3-3-5) I'm a bit confused. I could imagine that the 4-2-5 and the 3-3-5 are basically the same set with the 'quick' either setting up on the line or 5 yards off. Anyone have info on the differences between these two defensive sets?