Spring Has Sprung Comment Count

Tim March 16th, 2010 at 6:22 PM

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

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Rich Rodriguez:

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

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

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

Photo Gallery:

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

Comments

Yostal

March 16th, 2010 at 6:50 PM ^

I wish it were possible for him to remain with the team in a position where he could work on coaching, but to a guy who never thought he would likely ever see the field as a starting quarterback at Michigan, I wish him fair winds and following seas. Go Blue.

wile_e8

March 16th, 2010 at 9:46 PM ^

I think there is one key word in the snippet about him:

Sheridan wants to go into coaching, but he can't work with the football team now, since he hasn't graduated.

It probably has something to do with scholarship/coach count issues, I would imagine he'll be a graduate assistant or something similar next fall once it is a new school year.

PurpleStuff

March 16th, 2010 at 7:49 PM ^

The guy went for over 300 yards against my HS alma mater as a junior (a school that has won four Texas 5A state titles in the last decade and produced Chase Daniel, Greg McElroy, and Tre Newton among others). I love being able to compliment all the speed and shiftiness in the backfield and in our wide receiver corps with a straight up beast who will come out and knock people's dicks in the dirt.

kevin holt

March 16th, 2010 at 7:39 PM ^

Long time lurker, first time commenter..

First; oh no! Vincent Smith was supposed to be my Jesus! In NCAA 2010, he went on to carry my team and win us the national title in 2 years. But seriously, I'm disappointed that he's hurt, he looked really good in his time last year and I hope he gets healed and sees the field this year.

Second, my prediction was very wrong about this season. I predicted Denard would improve considerably since the season and over this summer, and even overcome Tate by using his speed combined with better, more improved QB skills. Looks like Tate will probably still be #1. Definitely not disappointed, just made a bad prediction. Here's hoping Denard will be better than just a run-only QB that we put in to scream "WE'RE RUNNING THE BALL NOW!!!"

WolvinLA2

March 16th, 2010 at 8:03 PM ^

Someone has said that every year - they're just practice unis.

My comments on this post:

Justin Turner looks pretty big.

Tate has a near perfect throwing motion.

The one picture showing T-Rob he caught the ball.

I LOVE the note about D Rob going in as a wideout when not playing QB. Teach him 2 routes - a fly and a 10 yard curl (for when they give him a huge cushion). You complete one deep ball to him and he keeps the DB's honest every time he lines up out there. And we've seen what he can do with the ball in his hands, so throw him a 10 yard stop and he'll be just as effective.

michgoblue

March 17th, 2010 at 10:39 AM ^

I also love the idea of Denard at WR on plays when he is not at QB. If he proves to have anything resembling decent hands, he is a deap threat on just about every play. Having him at WR would pretty much force teams to keep their fastest corner on DRob, leaving our other WRs open. And while we don't necessarily have a single breakout superstar receiver - yet - our WR group probably has the best depth and overall talent in the B10. If DRob commands the attention of the other teams best corner, we should have be able to find a mismatch to exploit.

wiscwood

March 16th, 2010 at 8:44 PM ^

Now we are getting somewhere! Michigan is going to win a NC very soon. The parts that UM has is different than anything that they have ever had. If RR can coach, and I think he can, Michigan will be very potent offensively this year. They will be even more potent next year. If the defense can come together it will be beautiful.

Also Barwis has conditioned the backs to be bigger for a rigorous Big Ten schedule. I'm still very excited about my Michigan Wolverines. Squash the division, All In for Michigan!

wiscwood

March 17th, 2010 at 7:05 PM ^

It was 1967 Michigan vs Illinois, it was my first Michigan game. I was seven years old. I've been hooked ever since. Michigan Football still makes me feel like a kid again. One of these years my hopes will be fulfilled again. I hope to shut up Badger fans.

markusr2007

March 16th, 2010 at 8:47 PM ^

Are other Big Ten teams seeing similar build ups from the off-season?

What about past Michigan teams? Similar jumps in sized, speed?
Or are these results from Barwis a larger deviation?

I'm curious to know for the starting lineup just how dramatic these changes are compared to past years.

Pretty normal, I'm guessing. Exciting to see, no doubt after 3-9 and 5-7, but isn't this sort of to be expected?

Mountaineers Fanatic

March 16th, 2010 at 9:46 PM ^

Well, we know there is definately ONE...Molk was a great center last year until he got hurt. I'm with RR, Michigan needs several just in case of injury. Especially since we've all seen what happens when your main man goes down

Mountaineers Fanatic

March 16th, 2010 at 9:49 PM ^

I'm really interested in how well DRob develops over the Spring and into next season. I think if he proves that he can be an every down QB, Michigan will RS Gardner. But if DRob doesn't improve enough, then RR will have no other choice but to burn Gardners RS. That won't necessarily be a bad thing since it would mean that Gardner is even or slightly ahead of DRob at the QB positons and we will start seeing a lot more of DRob at slot. I said last year that by DRob's third season, he will be playing mostly receiver with Tate and Gardner as the two QBs

msoccer10

March 17th, 2010 at 10:17 AM ^

that Denard may be used more at the wide receiver spot than the slot. Denard isn't very tall, but 5-10/ 5-11 is tall enough and he would give the ability to stretch the field. since we only have 3 wide receivers who aren't true freshman for two spots and we have 4 legit returning players at slot for 1.5 spots, I think he is better off out wide.

WolvinLA2

March 17th, 2010 at 12:43 PM ^

Why exactly do we need him too much? We're returning our starter and back-up QB's from last year, and Tate was a pretty good QB for a true frosh, and should be improved. I don't see any reason why DG this year will be as good as Tate last year, let alone Tate this year.

And if he does pass Denard to be the #2, is that enough to burn the redshirt? If Tate has a major injury and Denard just can't hack it, I agree with you, but that's about the only reason.

We don't need him start next year either, so getting him reps at garbage time is almost useless. I'd much prefer 2 years of DG starting after Tate leaves.

Mountaineers Fanatic

March 17th, 2010 at 5:42 PM ^

I agree....we let Gardner travel with the team but we don't burn his RS unless absolutely necessary. From all reports I've read, Gardner is too raw to see significant playing time this year so why burn a RS in mop up duties. Now, if DRob shows he can run this offense (if Tate goes down) then sure, use DG, but only as a last resort.

jimmymin

March 17th, 2010 at 12:03 AM ^

I don't think I've ever been so excited to see pics of our team practicing! It's been a long winter.

BTW... who's gonna do the "Weapon Of Choice" vid this year? Wouldn't it have to be like 3 hours long to showcase all of them weapons?

Little Brown J…

March 17th, 2010 at 1:11 AM ^

Is there a reason RR hasnt tried Tate and Shoelace in the backfield at the same time? That seems like it would be a lethal combo and keep defenses confused not even knowing which QB will get the snap