Spring Practice Presser 4-12-18: Mike Zordich Comment Count

Adam Schnepp April 13th, 2018 at 10:05 AM

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[Bryan Fuller]

[Ed. A- So my wife and I had a baby a week ago and since then I think of sleep like I used to think of vacations, like, “Oh, that would be nice to do someday.” Last night I caffeinated just in time for the baby to actually fall asleep, so I had a chance to transcribe this. Huge thanks to Orion Sang for passing along the audio.]

How’s your group look?

“Our group looks good. The guys that are out there are working their tails off and pleased with the progress.”

So you’re not going to come here and do what you did last camp?

[laughs] “We’re just gonna talk about the guys that are out there practicing, getting better, how about that? That fair enough to say?

“Yeah, but Ambry Thomas, B. Watson, David Long, then you got a young guy in Myles Sims who still should be in high school, he’s our here working his tail off getting better, so it’s been promising. Then Hunter Reynolds, a walk-on, really getting better, so it’s been good for ‘em.”

You mentioned Ambry Thomas. What’s the biggest difference in him from year one to year two?

“He is very comfortable now. We were just talking about it over there about maturity level. You know, last year we were so young and now all the sudden these guys have had some playing experience and it has helped them, and so that’s last year and now you’re walking into a new year and just much more confident. And things are slower for them, and he’s been really improved. [Inaudible] with the ones quite a bit, so he’s been showing up a bunch.”

If he’s been working with the ones does that mean maybe that Vert moves into the inside? Are you guys messing around with those combinations there?

“Well, yeah, you know, Vert hasn’t practiced, so he’s losing valuable time, unfortunately for him. But it allows Brandon Watson to continue to get better, Ambry THomas to get better, David Long to get better, and as I mentioned Hunter and Myles. So, it’s great for those guys. They’re just growing by leaps and bounds.”

Why hasn’t Hill practiced?

“He’s got an issue with his hips or his groin. Trying to figure that out.”

[After THE JUMP: who’s rising, who’s out, and where guys might end up]

Has that been all spring?

“I mean, he got two practices in, but that’s been it. Would like to have him out there for sure, but we’re not waiting for him, I’ll just say that. As I keep saying, Brandon Watson and Ambry have stepped up and are filling that spot very nicely.”

It’s a muscular thing?

“Not sure. That’s the thing. Watch him run, he looks fine. It’s just on long plays, he just has some pain at the end of the play. Just trying to figure that out.”

It’s not the kind of thing you can play through?

“I think it is.”


[everyone laughs]

“But, you know, he’s got to feel right.”

But that is something you touched on last year about—I don’t want to generalize and say it was a toughness issue but is that a little bit?

“Well…if you want to go back to that, yes, in my opinion, yes it is. You’ve got an opportunity to get better or even just to find out what is wrong, because you’re not going to find out by not participating. So, it’s frustrating for us as coaches, but at the same time, those other guys, you’re getting to see them blossom, which is really good for us. We’re creating depth.”

Is St. Juste in that mix there too?

“No, Benjamin is not. He’s been sidelined as well. It’s very unfortunate for him. He’s a very gifted athlete, but he has missed all of the bowl prep, now he’s missed all of spring. He’s got to find a way to get out there if he wants to compete for his job.”

Jim said yesterday that the receivers have really taken a big step. From your vantage point—

“Yes, yes, absolutely. Donovan, Tarik, Nate, all of them have taken a step forward. Again, I think it’s just the youth factor and having that year under their belt, their freshman year out of the way. They’ve been through camps, they’re in their second spring, so they’re very comfortable. Everything’s slowed down for them as well, and you’re just reacting. you’re playing, you’re instinctive, and you can see their improvement.”

Tarik hasn’t missed a beat?

“No, nuh-uh, he hasn’t. Donovan Peoples-Jones…he’s going to be something special.”

How is he better? How’s Donovan better?

“He’s running really good routes, he’s very strong at the line of scrimmage, and he makes great catches. I mean, he’s just got super hands. Very talented guy.”

What stands out to you about the safeties at this point?

“I would say that Tyree [Kinnel] and Josh [Metellus] have taken a step forward. They’re making many more plays out of the post. They’re doing a much better job in the run game. That was some of our weaknesses last year, pass plays in the post with the post safety. Now these guys are able—they’re figuring it out. They’re making plays on the ball in the post and they’re helping, like I said, in the run game.”

Who’s third guy in?

“Third guy in? That’s still up in the air. It really is. That’s a toss up.”

What’s Jaylen’s roll, Jaylen Kelly-Powell? Has he been all over the place?

“Jaylen’s been great. [Inaudible].”

Is he a corner?

“No, he’s safety and nickel. Safety and nickel.”

Back to Ben St. Juste, he’s been out because of injury?


What kind?


I know he’s not in yet, but where do you envision Casey Hughes fitting into all this when he gets here?

“Yeah, we’re trying to figure all that out as we go through this. You know, if those guys continue to stay out, then maybe Casey comes with me. But we’ve talked to Casey about him playing safety. Think he’d be a good guy in the slot, cover guy in the slot, so that’s our thought with him.”

How much tape have you seen of him and what do you like about him?



“Yeah, just an experienced player who you can see he has fun out there, takes charge. He’s a leader, and he’s a really good football player. Good tackler. Tough kid.”

How much did you enjoy the Super Bowl?

“How much did I? Yeah, it was a good game. It really was. I was really happy for Nick Foles. When he was in Philly playing QB he did a hell of a job and he left and kind of got in a slump and he knocked the rust off and he was back to his old Nick Foles. It was great to see. And that whole staff. Doug Pederson’s a great guy. I know a lot of guys on the staff and I was really happy for them. Good people.”

No spring game in that setting. What’s the difference between being in that setting and seeing the kids in that way versus what you guys are going to end up doing in practice?

“Yeah, it’ll be just another practice for us and all eyes will be on them as they are in every other practice. I think what Coach is gonna—he’s gonna make it more of a family affair now that all the families are coming in, so it’ll be very preferable for them to be right up close on the field right around the action, so it’ll be fun for them. But at the same time, we’ll still get great work in.”

Is it good not to show your cards?

“Uh…yes and no. I’m sure it is, but we’re still pretty vanilla when we do it anyway, but yeah.”

With Lavert this time last spring, again you guys were not thrilled about it but he was able to kind of recover. Are you worried now or knowing that he went through it last year—

“Yeah, there’s a concern. We certainly, certainly would like to get him healthy. As I said, if he doesn’t—I’m just confused by how do we know what injury it is if he doesn’t come out? I think practicing is a way to find out what that injury is. As I’ve always said, this game is not a comfortable game. You’ve got to learn to play with some nicks.

“Again, I am [inaudible] the guys that are out there practicing, the Ambry Thomases, the Brandon Watsons, the David Longs, the Hunter Reynolds, the Myles Sims, those kids deserve a pat on the back because they’re taking a lot of reps and they are getting better, and they’re maturing at the same time.”

The overall defense a year ago, everybody said, ‘Oh, they lost everybody.’ Now they’re saying, ‘Loaded. Everybody’s back.’

“We could be really good. I mean, that’s no secret. That’s a positive for us, and I think we’re taking those steps to continue to get better during the spring.”

Will you be going to Paris?

“I will be, yes. I will be.”

And what do you think the team really got out of last year?

“Oh, I think just the culture aspect of it and then I think that’s going to happen again this year. I enjoyed watching the kids experience what they experienced, and I expect the same this trip this time around too.”

Are you going to compare the French wine to the Italian?

[laughs] “No.”



April 13th, 2018 at 10:23 AM ^

Zordich is my favorite position coach to watch interview. He seems like he doesn't hold back and tells it like it is. That approach also seems to work by motivating the players too. Hopefully Hill can make it out for the next few practices.


April 13th, 2018 at 2:14 PM ^

Just bots spamming conditional robot logic.

IF: coach for [rival] team wants injured player to play
THEN: coach is an asshole. Player is clearly injured -- coach will bring irreparable harm.

IF: coach for [Our] team wants injured player to play
THEN: player is clearly not injured. This is good motivational ploy.


April 13th, 2018 at 10:25 AM ^

He seems to be very upset that a few injured players aren’t practicing... not sure how I feel about that. I mean if the kids are hurt, the best thing for them is time to heal. I guess I can understand it being frustrating because you want to improve, but it seems like the health of these kids should be the number 1 priority. Get them healthy, and get them back on the field. Not really a fan of the “get them on the field so we can figure out what kind of injury it is” mentality. That’s what doctors are for.

I like him as a coach and he interviews well, just not really sure about that thought process.


April 13th, 2018 at 10:37 AM ^

It's the same deal as last spring with Hill and Long. Neither had serious injuries, I think that is Zordich's whole point. Football is a gruesome game, you won't feel normal after games or practices. It's a constant battle with your body.

I don't think Zordich would be saying that about Lavert if he had a broken born or torn muscle. I'm just speculating, but I don't think he's just going to be unreasonable and stern about this topic if that were the case. 


April 13th, 2018 at 11:04 AM ^

This is how I interpreted this as well. It sounds like Vert has some pain, and is chosing to sit out, rather than having an injury where the medical staff is declaring him out which is frustrating Zordich. Comparing it to the other injuries he seems frustrated for St. Juste and his progress, but isn't using the same kind of language for that situation. 

Zordich tells it like it is, if he says the WRs are improving, I am actually going to believe it. 


April 13th, 2018 at 11:52 AM ^

Once you tweak a hamstring, you're done and the only thing that can help is rest. A tweak will keep you out 2 weeks. A full blown pull of the hamstring will keep you out 2 months. A tear will sideline you for a long time. 

I doubt Zordich is upset that Vert and BSJ are resting their hamstrings and far more upset that they let them become an issue in the first place.


April 13th, 2018 at 11:48 AM ^

Exactly. I would speculate that the majority of hamstring injuries are avoidable through proper stretching and warm-up/activation. But (as anyone who has been a teenager and played sports knows) many players just go through the motions during stretch/warm-ups and don't take it seriously. They'll do the stretches but won't push or focus on the muscle being worked...  If they feel a muscle get tight, they'll try to push through rather than seeing the trainer.   

That's not trying to throw those kids under the bus or say that you have to be dead serious during stretching and warm-ups (nothing wrong with keeping the mood light and joking around with your teammates), but athletes need to know their body and how to care for themselves. If you know your hamstrings are tight, spend the extra 5 minutes or take a trip to the trainer's table to get them loose and do what's necessary to stay on the field.


April 13th, 2018 at 11:31 AM ^

all the time and basically he's saying you have to know the difference between a real injury and possible being hurt.  I don't think Zordich just blows off these kids health, but obviously he doesn't think Vert is injured bad enough to be sitting out all the practices.  Like he said it's a tough game and you need to play through some things.

He has seen the guy run and move around so it's tough for him to believe he's so bad he can't practice at all........  Probably some motivation in there too.

Shop Smart Sho…

April 13th, 2018 at 10:28 AM ^

"I’m just confused by how do we know what injury it is if he doesn’t come out? I think practicing is a way to find out what that injury is."

That's not how you determine what type of an injury a player has. How is it people reach such advanced levels of coaching and apparently have not even a basic understanding of medical science?

Hail Harbo

April 13th, 2018 at 10:35 AM ^

A player is either cleared to participate by the medical staff or he isn't.  Zordich could easily have said, and would be obligated to say, if a player wasn't cleared by the medical stafff, but he didn't.  Therefore the default position is that they are cleared to participate.  If they are cleared to participate, they need to participate.


April 13th, 2018 at 10:39 AM ^

Well said. Hill right now just sounds like Hill and Long did last April. They had nagging aches and such but not more serious injuries that would keep them out of real game action. I think he is being tougher on Hill because he knows his potential is through the roof. Time on task and consistency are HUGE for cornerbacks. We know Hill has all the talent in the world on the field, he wants him to continually develop his mental toughness at the same time. 

Shop Smart Sho…

April 13th, 2018 at 11:18 AM ^

I had a full evaluation from two doctors saying I could practice and play. I knew I hurt, but my coach didn't care. Ended up doing so much damage that I lost all of my scholarship offers because no school was going to pay for my surgery on the off chance that it would fix the problems to the point I could play again.

Two surgeries later I was informed that pushing through the pain and playing meant that I would never walk right again and would have continuing issues for the rest of my life.  So please, tell me more about full evaluations.


April 13th, 2018 at 12:41 PM ^

His beef appears to be with both. The medical evaluation is his personal example said he could practice and play. His coach didn't seem to care at all and just wanted him to play, even if he was in pain.

Not sure how his asshole coach back in the day necessarily translates to coach Zordich, but I'm assuming Zordich actually cares about the health of his players. I also trust the medical evaluation of players and personnel at the University of Michigan, but that's just me. 

Red is Blue

April 13th, 2018 at 1:20 PM ^

Hard to tell from such little information, but it was not clear to me that his coach was an asshole or didn't care about the health of his players.  If the doctors told the coach he was cleared to play and wouldn't do more damage by doing so (ie, it was basically a pain tolerance issue), then what was the coach supposed to do (unless of course he told the coach he couldn't handle the pain and the coach said something like get out there or you're never playing again)?

Maize and Blue…

April 13th, 2018 at 6:39 PM ^

so it had to be his HS coach.  The doctors didn't tell the coach anything because most HS are lucky to be able to afford an AT yet alone a doctor.  I won't say what I think of those who recruited him if he felt it that necessary to play in that much pain to maintain a scholarship offer. It also makes you wonder where were the parents?  Mine would have benched me immediately if I was in that much pain.

Shop Smart Sho…

April 13th, 2018 at 12:50 PM ^

You're conflating two different statements.

Zordich's statement that you can't diagnose something without a kid practicing is absolutely false, and patently stupid.

Two different doctors, one of which was a Michigan alum, failed. Which means it's entirely possible that the medical staff advising current Michigan players could be wrong as well. 

My entire point is that it is best to trust the judgement of the players. Feel free to disagree.


April 13th, 2018 at 4:05 PM ^

If you're seeing a family physician instead of a doctor trained to deal with athletes web experience in same, there's not a disconnect. As a potential scholarship athlete, did you see the former or the latter because the latter would be less likely to miss. And doesn't matter where the doc graduates from for med school. Residency much more important and field experience is tantamount.


April 13th, 2018 at 11:02 AM ^

Probably in the same way most Dr's make it without having basic nutritional science knowledge. Things are changing in both fields and a lot of the people in those fields aren't keeping up on everything because they're busy, they don't see it as relevant, or just don't care. *shrug*


After watching the Amazon series and listening to interviews with coaches around th country on other podcasts I'm amazed at how little intellectual thought there is in coaching. Everyone is just running a system and there is blind loyalty to the system based on who their mentor was, or what they came up doing. 


My 2 cents.


April 13th, 2018 at 12:43 PM ^

Also, if you do something and the result is good, you are praised. Whether it was the right decision or not.

If the result is bad, you are always criticized even if all the decision making was sound and the players on the field are right for the task. 

Being a coach has its downfalls, but making millions of dollars is (usually) worth the stress. 


April 13th, 2018 at 10:33 AM ^

Zordich is an animal. Just tough as nails. Lavert will recover and come out with a fire under his ass by fall ball. 

Zordich isn't being any tougher on any of his players than he has over the last several years. This is good for them. Knowing we have several really good guys at the position, Lavert will be motivated to come out strong once he feels better. I'm pumped to see a rotation of Hill, Long, Ambry and B Wat. Not sure St. Juste will make a big impact this season if he's still nicked up. 


April 13th, 2018 at 10:37 AM ^

I remember playing in high school and the coaches always preaching, "pain you can play through an injury you can't. so what are you? are you in pain or are you injured!?" I don't know if that's right or wrong, but it sounds like he has that same suck it up mentality as a coach. I know you don't go a whole football season without injuries, but man I really hope this team can remain relatively healthy this year. I really believe that was a huge factor in derailing the season last year. not the only factor, but I think it was a big one.


April 13th, 2018 at 10:52 AM ^

some injuries you can play through even though you shouldn't. These are young strong guys who might not understand how much they are actually injured and because they feel the pressure of the coaching staff to perform they continue when they shouldn't. sometimes something hurts so you favor it and it leads you to putting increased pressure on another body part causing further injury. is that always the case? no, but injuries have plagued this team the last couple of years. maybe that could be a reason? I'm just speculating.


April 13th, 2018 at 10:40 AM ^

“So my wife and I had a baby a week ago and since then I think of sleep like I used to think of vacations, like, “Oh, that would be nice to do someday.”

Nailed it. Felt the same way as a new father. But man, it’s a great trade off! Congratulations!!


April 13th, 2018 at 10:41 AM ^

By the way, this makes sense why Ambry has been getting a ton of hype the last few weeks. He's clearly spending some time running with the 1's on D (alongside D. Long). He has more athleticism and a much higher roof than B. Watson, however Watson really impressed me last year. I love our depth at the position either way. 


April 13th, 2018 at 11:11 AM ^

1. He knows they want him out there playing through the pain. But he know his body and it gets real sore after the long runs and he doesn't want to turn soreness into injury. Not being a candy ass or goldbricker.

2. He knows they want him out there but he is being overly careful and isn't familiar with playing through pain/soreness. He knows(thinks) he's got the starting job locked down or will lock it down in August, regardless of what happens this spring. Not a good mindset.

Either way, I'm not generally a fan of a coach calling out a college player in the media for anything, especially when you're trying to read his mind. Then telling the media to basically "See for yourself. He runs fine." when that is just superficial. Don't see how it helps and can alienate a player. Maybe he thinks he needs to send a signal to everyone who ever sits because of soreness, but I don't think it gets the guy back on the field earlier.


April 13th, 2018 at 11:41 AM ^

Might it be somewhat a mitigating factor that corner is relatively simply is Brown's system? i.e. just lock your guy down in man, likely without help.   Obviously reps and conditioning are needed but Hill has already established himself as an elite press and man to man corner. Plug him back in and he can resume doing what he does best.   I wonder if knowing this contributes to his choosing rest over playing through pain in the Spring.


April 13th, 2018 at 11:48 AM ^

I think it's ok to be frustrated with a player in private. I know that if my son were Lavert Hill and his coach talked about his injury that way to the press I would not be happy.