Spring Stuff

Submitted by Brian on April 18th, 2011 at 1:07 PM

So… that happened. As per usual, many events from the spring game are in the eye of the beholder. Is Devin Gardner's inability to find anyone open an indictment of him, an indictment of the second-team wide receivers, or… uh… like… people being covered? I know that latter seems improbable but I have seen football games in which this has happened. Whether your reaction to Saturday was "woo defense" or "ugh offense" depends on your state of mind and may oscillate wildly.

Unfortunately, there was a lot that was unambiguously bad, most of it from the quarterbacks: interceptions whistled yards over the intended receiver's head or thrown directly at linebackers, a Mallett-like plague of dropped snaps, offsides calls, etc. The general impression was more 2008 than 2010. Denard completed 5 of 14 passes for 5 YPA—2008 numbers—and ran six times for 60 yards, averaging 1 YPC after his first attempt. Insert the usual spring caveats and add a bunch more besides for small sample size and an awkward transition, but that is a far cry from the last spring game, and very little of it can be attributed to awesome defense. The QBs sucked on their own.

Here are highlight-type substances (which also feature the Most Legendary Press Conference Ever):

The official site version:

Other vague impressions:

The worst part ever. That guy who sung the anthem. I don't know why events that aren't actual football games are accompanied by some never-was with vibrato Tourette's singing the national anthem. This happened at the Big Chill, too. This is the last drip of Michigan football for five months—give me the band.

Quarterback

Obviously not so good. Devin Gardner was also inaccurate in drills. They have this dig route where a slot receiver works to the seam then cuts his route off 15 yards downfield and Gardner was consistently missing it. Denard missed a couple times but was obviously better. Both performed poorly in the game itself, which fine. Denard doesn't need a more practice on running plays that were beaten into his head last year, sometimes literally. If you're installing new stuff now is the time to see if it works.

HOWEVA, man… it did not seem to work. They kept running the waggle and Denard could not get anything out of it. There was a guy in his face the whole time; the resulting throws were frequently incomplete due to inaccuracy. In the video above when Hoke references a couple of "drops" the best examples the BTN can dig up are Drew Dileo almost making a spectacular one-handed stab and Darryl Stonum almost making a spectacular sideline lay-out.

Maybe in a tackle football game he can escape that contain guy on the regular, but that seems like a high variance strategy with limited upside. Option 1: beats corner guy, is on corner, has shot at running some probably not immense distance or hitting a crossing route of some variety. Option 2: second and 20. There's a reason the waggle is strictly an occasional changeup—whenever you've got the ball and are spending time with your back to the defense there's a chance something awful is going to happen, like John Navarre getting blown up in that one MSU game.

Running Back

Mike Cox was the most impressive, scoring the only legitimate touchdown of the day for the offense—the second was an uncalled offensive PI that outraged Charles Woodson even if he wasn't watching it—on a 68-yard rumble through the middle of the defense. A few runs later he powered through a couple diving arm tackles for a decent gain. Notably, no coach dropped his headset in disgust without even yelling at the guy, which totally happened at last year's fall scrimmage. That was a sign Cox was going to be buried on the bench all year. Light going on? Let's hope so.

Stephen Hopkins seemed like Stephen Hopkins. Everyone else was pretty eh. Hayes and Rawls will have a shot in the fall.

Receivers

With all but five Michigan receptions leaders returning there wasn't much new here, especially since the quarterbacks had such an off day. Hard to show anything when you're chasing Carvin Johnson down instead of vice-versa. A few items:

  • It seems like Drew Dileo has risen to second on the slot depth chart.
  • Odoms is still outside.
  • Moving Ricardo Miller to tight end is a very bad sign for him. Seeing him next to the other TEs is like seeing that tiny third-string FB in the game. He just doesn't have the frame for TE, especially in a manball offense, so… what does that say about his potential future as a WR?
  • The much-touted involvement of the tight ends did not materialize. I don't remember a single catch [Ed-M: Koger got one] and I think they only targeted TEs once or twice. This has been an exceptionally overblown meme anyway. Last year Michigan TEs had 20 catches. In Carr's last year they had 24. When you've got talent you throw to it; Michigan's talent is in the slot.

Michigan needs a couple big receiver recruits this year because the cavalry does not appear to be coming. Jerald Robinson may develop into a decent option but Miller's not even at the spot anymore and DJ Williamson didn't look good in drills or exist in the game; Jeremy Jackson is probably the best of all the receivers brought in last year and his upside is strictly possession.

Offensive Line

It's all but impossible to pick out anything specific live unless you're a savant, which I'm not, so… uh… yeah. Michigan's attempts to run power didn't go so well—a follower tweeted that Michigan's guards were the equivalent of Michigan's kickers when they tried to pull. Again, with a veteran line that's got zone blocking down it's okay to work on the stuff they don't know yet. It seems foolhardy to dump that entirely and we did see a couple examples of Rodriguez's QB stretch, so let's hope the playcalling is less slanted towards the unfamiliar in fall.

The second team OL was walk-on infested with injuries to Molk (played but sparingly) and Lewan (out). They could not block the second-team DL, which contributed to Gardner's issues. Late it seemed like Mattison called off the dogs specifically so Gardner could see what it was like to not have someone breathing down his neck two seconds after the snap.

One guy I did think looked pretty good was Schofield.

Defensive Line

All eyes were on Will Campbell and Will Campbell was all right. He got single blocked the whole day, alternating his time between pushing into the backfield to force cutbacks on unsuccessful runs, getting blocked out of rushing lanes, and (on passing downs) sitting at the LOS being the guy who looks for screens and scrambles. Unsurprisingly, reports that Campbell was "unblockable" as a three-tech turned out to be fiction—Campbell didn't beat a block all day. His contributions were limited to getting a moderate amount of penetration when single blocked on running plays. It was far from dominant; it could have been worse. I'm still pretty worried about what happens on stretch plays.

As for the other guys, RVB was out, leaving Jibreel Black and walk-on Nate Brink alternating at SDE. We know what to expect out of Martin when his ankles exist, and now he's getting moved around on passing downs. Schofield seemed to win his battle with Craig Roh, but Roh made a couple of plays on runs and looks like an honest-to-God DE these days. Kenny Wilkins was the DE who got steamrolled on the Cox TD.

Linebacker

Everyone's talking about Jake Ryan after his pick six and constant pressure of Gardner, but his primary opponent was a redshirt freshman walk-on not very good at blocking people. Big difference between his setup and, say, Campbell taking on the starting guards on the regular. Cam Gordon's in front of him for a reason. Ryan does appear like he'll push for time.

On the whole this unit was surprisingly decent for one starting a guy who just transferred from Hampton after not getting any PT there. Often when I'd watch Campbell he'd get kicked out of the hole way too easily, but as I braced for a big run two linebackers would roar in from the backside and swallow the play. That's what a one-gap defense does as long as you get your "run fits" right, and it seemed like they were vastly improved over last year. I'm extremely leery of the depth when your best alternative to Demens is Marell Evans, but here it seemed like the transition was going smoothly. Caveats apply: could just be the OL not being any good at what they're being asked to do.

FWIW, it was Brandon Herron getting steamrolled on the Cox TD run.

Secondary

With Floyd and Woolfolk out this was also a lot of walk-ons. It's not good for Terrance Talbott to be behind Tony Anderson; Cullen Christian was also behind Anderson but was apparently injured and did not play. This will be some combination of Avery/Floyd/Woolfolk this fall unless Blake Countess shows up extremely ready. Greg Brown showed better than most expected after he spent his senior year of high school at linebacker.

As for safety, Michigan certainly looks good there. Marvin Robinson, Josh Furman, and Carvin Johnson are physically reminiscent of NFL safeties. A dollar says that perception doesn't last into the Big Ten season, but in this game they only blew two plays—the Cox TD (overrun by a very confused Robinson) and Denard's game-opening 55-yarder (Johnson was understandably outrun). Oh, and there was that hopeless Gardner bomb that should have been intercepted but ended up a completion. I think that was also Robinson, but I don't remember exactly.

So… slightly encouraging here. While Johnson's interceptions were gifts he came up and put a lick on more than one tailback who had broken to the sideline. Robinson also bombed a couple tailbacks. Furman was in position to break up a couple of Gardner deep balls and could have had an interception or two if Gardner's passes had been a little more accurate. Unfortunately, I am constitutionally incapable of not panicking about safety play even if there is evidence I shouldn't.

Special Teams

Will Hagerup is sophomore Zoltan: still too inconsistent but if he gets hold of one look out. He's going to hit a 70-yard punt this year. He'll also hit some 35-yard dribblers, but he's getting there.

Kickers: aigh. [Ed-M: They say Aslan Matt Wile is on the move.]

Other Video Type Objects

Hoke presser:

Borges presser:

Important bit on Denard:  “in the real world, he'll probably run more than you saw today.”

Elsewhere

Photo galleries abound. AnnArbor.com:

There are also images from the flag football game. Daily article also contains extensive gallery.

Our Helmets Have Wings:

If the spring game is any indication, Mattison is not afraid to bring the heat. One of the criticisms Ravens fans levied at Mattison was that he “didn’t blitz enough.” That is something that is said about just every defensive coordinator ever, so take it for what it’s worth.  Still, the concern that Michigan is going to drop back into a cover-2 and rush four is something that I’ve been somewhat afraid of. I thought the 3-3-5 was going solve that, instead it proved to be the exact opposite of an aggressive, attacking defense.

As OHHW notes, rushing four would actually be an improvement on last year. Ace predicted and wanted ugly. Point Ace. The Big House Blog wonders where Roy Roundtree went. Hoke says Michigan has a "long way to go." Mattison says he "doesn't know if [Johnson] was responsible for" his big plays, which… yeah. Photos and bits from MVictors.

Comments

jg2112

April 18th, 2011 at 1:27 PM ^

One minor quibble:

On the long Cox TD run, it does not look like Marvin is confused at all - from the way he was defending, he was covering the slot receiver Stokes on a passing route.

If you wish to lay blame at anyone's door, Furman gets taken out of the play by Stokes's route, bumps into Marvin, and then Marvin does his best to recover. See it for yourself at about 1:00 of the first video.

Magnus

April 18th, 2011 at 1:58 PM ^

Does covering a crossing route on a run play somehow mean that Robinson wasn't confused?

Robinson was confused, Furman got caught in the wash, and Brandon Herron flat-out whiffed on the tackle.

Plus there was a little bit of MICHAEL COX IS PRETTY GOOD mixed in there.

jg2112

April 18th, 2011 at 2:21 PM ^

It might mean he was confused, Magnus. It also might mean that he wasn't. You'll notice Stokes wasn't exactly blocking him on the play. Maybe Stokes didn't know the playcall, and Marvin was playing a passing route?

What I'm saying is that there are way too many factors going into that play to say Marvin was or wasn't doing the right thing. The one thing I DID see was that Furman's angle in run support took him right out of the play.

Oh, and congratulations. Your love for (dang it double entendres) number 15 looks to have been vindicated. Looks like this coaching staff knows the right roles for Michael and Vincent.

Magnus

April 18th, 2011 at 5:41 PM ^

Stokes was doing what you call a cutoff block.  His initial aim was to get to the deep safety (Furman), but since Robinson was running with him, he eventually took a shot at Robinson.  Stokes wasn't running a pass route, and if he was, it was the worst route in history.  He never looked back at the QB and was looking at the safety the entire time.  Marvin Robinson was confused and/or out of position.  There's no way in hell that Cox should have gotten to the backside of him like that.

jamiemac

April 18th, 2011 at 2:24 PM ^

Is Michigan's 2nd team D these days about the same as Eastern and DSU?

ha ha, just kidding. It was good seeing Cox run the right way, and joking aside, its clear that the new coaches have given his college career a new lease on life. Just wish he'd do something spectacular against a first team, legit D. Perhaps on 9/3 we can see that.

Logan88

April 18th, 2011 at 3:22 PM ^

Was Cox ever inserted (yeah, I went there) into the game and given the ball against a decent team under RR? It seems like he was only allowed to touch the ball in the tomato can games. Kind of hard to do anything against a legit D when you are standing on the sidelines.

Like Magnus, I am a big believer in Cox and feel like he got a raw deal under the previous staff. Given a fair shake, I think he is capable of plenty of big explosions.

Seriously, though, Cox has the best combination of physical attributes for the kind of running game the staff professes to want to implement. Hopefully, any "mental issues" were either just coach speak for "he isn't one of our guys" by the previous staff or have been resolved and he can be the 20 carry per game feature back UM needs.

jg2112

April 18th, 2011 at 3:42 PM ^

No. Cox only played against Eastern, DSU, and Bowling Green. He played well, but against gassed starters and backups of crummy teams. Hence, a general apprehension about his ability.

That apprehension looks like it should start to go away, because he played very well on Saturday.

Hail-Storm

April 18th, 2011 at 3:44 PM ^

"Like Magnus, I am a big believer in Cox and feel like he got a raw deal under the previous staff. Given a fair shake, I think he is capable of plenty of big explosions."

I guess I'm not sure why you think that the previous coaching staff didn't give him a fair chance. Fred Jackson is the same running backs coach and had him running with the twos on Saturday.  RR has shown he likes a wide variety of backs (Slaton, Devine, Minor, Smith). I guess I don't understand why you think him being on the bench was some personal vendetta against the kid, rather than a football decision?

Personally I think that Shaw and Hopkins (unless Freshman are awesome *fingers crossed*) will be starting with Smith as the 3rd down back.  I agree that Cox has shown some potential, but reminds me of a slightly bigger, slightly slower Carlos Brown who showed some excitement, but never had the "it" factor to really create plays on his own.

Magnus

April 18th, 2011 at 5:37 PM ^

I forget where I saw the quote, but Fred Jackson said something like the following a few weeks back:

"You know, I prefer bigger backs with a little more power.  And this year I think we're going to see more of that."

To me there was a bit of an implication in the quote that Vincent Smith wasn't "his guy" but simply the guy Rich Rodriguez told him to put on the field.  Also, Michael Cox broke more tackles in 2009 than Carlos Brown did in his entire career.  They're not similar runners at all.

Hail-Storm

April 18th, 2011 at 9:09 PM ^

was refering to Hopkins since he is a bigger back.  Or Toussaint since he is bigger than V. Smith. Nothing I have seen has proven that RR was holding Cox back and that he would choose to play someone that wasn't the best player available.  Again, RR has used multiple different types of backs (Slaton, Schmidt, Devine, Minor). 

I know that you love Cox, and want to be right about him, but I feel you and others have created a fiction about the other regime holding him back, and how he is truly amazing, and other backs are average at best.  I haven't been truly impressed with any of them.  My point isn't that Cox and Brown are the same type of back, but I view them both as physical specimens that can't translate those physical attributes to amzing football players.

I'm fine if I'm wrong, but I wish you and others would stop trying to defend your position as if it's fact, when no one has proven anything beyond an elaborate assumption.

Personally I like Shaw and Hopkins right now.  And right now my opinion counts just as much as yours, as in, not at all. 

Magnus

April 18th, 2011 at 10:15 PM ^

First of all, I have never said that Cox is amazing.  My argument has simply revolved around the feeling that he is a better back than Vincent Smith and deserves/deserved more playing time.  If Cox were the second coming of Barry Sanders, I bet he would have been on the field a great deal.  But there's a vast expanse between Vincent Smith and Barry Sanders, and I strongly believe Cox resides in that expanse.

I haven't created any fictions whatsoever.  My argument is supported by the fact that over two seasons, Cox has averaged 8.9 yards a carry.  And for two consecutive spring games, he has performed better than any other back (10 carries, 120 yards, 2 touchdowns).  I don't think Rodriguez *purposely* put an inferior player on the field; however, I do think he put an inferior player on the field.

I don't know why you're personally getting so offended by my opinion.  It's true that my opinion doesn't count, and you'll find that I have had very few bad things to say about Shaw and Hopkins.  Your opinion sits just fine with me.  I disagree, but that's okay.  This is a message board, in which you will often find opinions.  I'm not going to stop voicing my opinion just because your opinion is that I should stop.

Hail-Storm

April 19th, 2011 at 7:47 AM ^

but I do have a problem when you or others start making up things to support your opinion.  If the original argument I responded to had only said "I think Cox is the best back and hope he is on the field next fall" then I wouldn't of had any problem with it.  My problem started when they said that the only reason he hasn't played is because the previous staff held him back, which I have easily disputed, and no one has provided a good rebuttle. 

You came in to try to defend this fiction providing an obscure quote that Fred Jackson may have made that I gave another perfect interpretation for.

Again, feel free to make opinions about the running back, just expect a push back when you make up things to support your claim.

Regarding the actual stats (size, yards etc) which I think is fair game, I think Cox has had some nice runs, but against inferior competition (which you have made arguments about Smith's yards coming against). I personally don't see a great back on the team right now, but if forced to choose, would go with Shaw, Hopkins and Toussaint first (smith on 3rd down).

Magnus

April 19th, 2011 at 8:35 AM ^

You haven't easily disputed anything.  You have no proof that the previous staff DIDN'T hold him back.  It is my opinion that he was a better back than Vincent Smith, and yet he still didn't see the field.  But there is no factual evidence that you have provided to suggest that Rodriguez didn't make a bad decision with regard to the running back position.  We will see who's right over the next year or two.

I have read hundreds of articles about Michigan football.  I apologize for not being able to find the Fred Jackson quote buried in all the heaps of literature written about the topic.  I am many things, but I am not a liar.  He made a quote similar to what I stated above, and when I typed it out, I acknowledged that it wasn't a direct quote.  It was in a Rivals article probably a month ago or so.

That's fine if you want to choose Hopkins, Shaw, Toussaint, etc.  I honestly don't care who the best running back is, as long as it's the best running back.  I am fully convinced that Vincent Smith was not it, so whatever.  Personally, I don't see how you can find any evidence that Hopkins should be the #1 guy, since he averaged 4.1 yards a carry last year and I think he had 6 carries for 17 yards in the spring game.  Shaw had some nice runs and such, and Toussaint has looked pretty good in limited time and I was very impressed with him coming out of high school.  It baffles me how you couldn't put a guy who averages 9.0 yards a carry and who just had 82 yards on 4 carries in the spring game in your top three, but...like...it's your opinion.  Do your thing.

Hail-Storm

April 19th, 2011 at 10:09 AM ^

you have no proof that Carr didn't hold Grady back since he was a 5 Star who had to play behind a short guy with just ok speed. My proof is that RR and coach Jackson have both provided numerous samples of creating great college backs.  I am going to stick with their decision on who plays and not assume (with absolutely no facts) that they were holding a player back for some personal reasons.

If you want to use 9 ypc (6 carries for 56 yds against UMass or BG) then fine, like that's your opinion man. (Note: Toussaint ended the season with 86 yds and a 10.3 ypc, just sayin, and ran with the ones, not the twos in spring). I'm fine if you want to use a stat like that and the fact he broke a long one against the second team defense on a busted assignment by atleast one of the defenders then that's great. Just stop with the RR held him back argument.  There is no proof, it's not necessary, and it is annoying. Stick to who you think is best for better reasons.

The fact that you are using a pointless 9 ypc stat, and I am looking at three to four backs tells me we might have more luck with the incoming freshmen.

Magnus

April 19th, 2011 at 10:36 AM ^

a) Lloyd Carr produced two first round picks at the RB position (Biakabutuka, Perry), Michigan's all-time leading rusher (Hart), and a high second-round pick (Thomas).  The next Rich Rodriguez running back to get picked before the third round of the NFL Draft will be the first.  Carr's track record of producing running backs is better than Rich Rodriguez's.  Furthermore, Grady spanned two coaches (Carr and Rodriguez), and both deemed him unworthy of being a starting running back.  Furtherfurthermore, Grady didn't even get a sniff from the NFL.

b) Where have I stated that Rich Rodriguez held Michael Cox back for personal reasons?  I do think that he held Cox back, but for what reasons, I'm not entirely sure.

c) That's great that Toussaint ran with the ones.  He also ran the ball 7 times for 14 yards.  You can point to bad statistics against #1 defenses, or you can point to awesome statistics against #2 defenses.  Pick your poison.  Personally, I'll go with the guy who has literally played well every time he's seen the field.  Cox has not played against great defenses, but he has literally done something exceptional every time we've seen him on the field:

- long run against EMU in 2009 where he broke a couple tackles
- 57-yard TD run against DSU in 2010
- 35-yard run against BGSU in 2010
- 22-yard TD run in 2010 spring game
- 68-yard TD run in 2011 spring game

d) I'm not going to argue with you anymore about who the best back is.  You have your reasons.  I have mine.  But I do take issue with trying to dictate whether I voice my opinion or not.  Don't get on here and say that I've "created some sort of fiction" when I haven't.

Hail-Storm

April 19th, 2011 at 10:51 AM ^

was to Logan who stated that RR held Cox back.  You responded with a quote from Jackson talking about Jackson saying he wanted to use a bigger back, which was used in a context that suggested this proved that RR held Cox back and Cox was the chosen one. This is a fiction whether you want to believe it or not.

Your proof that Carr is better at evaluating college backs better than RR is thin at best seeing as RR found some great backs in Slaton (NFL), Schmidt, Chose to use Minor, and Devine while mostly at WV, which is not exactly the recruiting giant that Michigan is. RR was successful at the college level with these backs, which is what is important since we are talking about college football.  Personally I really like Carr, like RR, and now like Hoke as I think all are great people and great coaches.

You believing Cox is the best choice for backs based on 4 or 5 carries (two in spring games, all against poor defenses) is an opinion that is acceptable to have (ironically you have chosen to downgrade Smith's effort since most of his yardage came against poorer teams). I could care less if it's right or not. These debates are what the off season are for. But again, leave the crap about the previous coach holding back players out of this.

Magnus

April 19th, 2011 at 11:56 AM ^

You're putting words in my mouth.  I have never downgraded Smith's effort.  And the only reason I brought up the Fred Jackson quote was to provide evidence that it may have been a case where Rodriguez overruled Fred Jackson on personnel. 

Anyway, it's impossible to argue with someone who willingly distorts what I say.  You're taking things out of context or making things up, so I'm finished.  Say what you need to say, but I'm done with this discussion.

Hail-Storm

April 19th, 2011 at 12:10 PM ^

You distorted what Jackson said to try to prove a fiction. I have refuted this many times as not anywhere near a fact, and asked that it not be used as one and to use stats.

I think you find it impossible to argue with someone when you try to use fiction for your argument.  Stick to stats and opinion like "I Magnus believe that because Cox averaged 9.3 ypc for 56 yards last year against monsters such as BG and UMass that Cox is the man for the job" (obviously paraphrased).

By the way, you entered into this discussion. Logan brought up your name and made the original comment that I disputed.  You chose to join the discussion and threw in the quote to try to defend the point.  If you don't like these conversations or my opinion, then I suggest you don't enter into them. I have only stuck to facts during this discussion.  You and Logan are the ones who have tried to project your thoughts as to what happened.

Your thoughts on Smith were from another thead.  I read a lot of threads so I couldn't get the exact quote (See what I did there).

jongent

April 18th, 2011 at 1:32 PM ^

singer was absolutely horrible.  I couldn't even believe it.  He had a pretty decent voice, but when he added in a hearty "Yeah!"  We couldn't stop laughing after that point.  Can't wait to hear the band again.  Maybe a flyover or two as well during the National Anthem.  Yes, that'd be nice.

MGlobules

April 18th, 2011 at 1:59 PM ^

that he adduces facts, then draws conclusions from them. When you do that, there's a far higher chance that your observations are connected to reality than when you pluck your responses to him or the team from your hindquarters--it's just wierd that way. 

Translation: Offer some counter-arguments, don't just call him negative all the time. 

MI Expat NY

April 18th, 2011 at 2:30 PM ^

If Brian were as pessimistic as he is so often accused of being, he probably would have been apoplectic at the fact that the only significant play made while Denard was running the offense was a designed QB run, and that everything else was a struggle.

Instead, Brian noted that spring games and practices are good for working on stuff you're not good at.  He even noted the Borges quote about running Denard more often in real games.  

This was a rational analysis of what happened.  He highlighted the good (defensive pressure, Cox perhaps finally getting it) and the bad (qb performance, tough sledding on power run plays).  He pointed out some situations where expectations should be tempered a little bit (Jake Ryan) and some mitigating factors for why some guys underperformed (constant pressure on Gardner).  If the analysis tilted more to the negative side of things, it might be because there wasn't particularly good football displayed.  

Did I miss where Brian said "OMG, worst spring performance EVER!  Borges will never figure out Denard and Hoke should be fired yesterday.  5-7, here we come."?

bryemye

April 18th, 2011 at 1:33 PM ^

Let's hope we were working on the iffy stuff and can actually run several plays competently on offense.

I'm really sad about Ricardo Miller. The kid was supposed to be a beast. What happened?!

UMQuadz05

April 18th, 2011 at 1:37 PM ^

I was highly encouraged by Hopkins' ability to run into a pile, push it forwards two yards, and then fall down forwards for another yard.  Not sarcastic at all- that's a valuable guy to have.

stubob

April 18th, 2011 at 1:41 PM ^

"I reject your reality and substitute my own."

That went just about like I expected a coaching staff given 8 weeks would go.Inconclusive at best, bordering on looking not-so-good at worst.

GoBlueinMN

April 18th, 2011 at 1:46 PM ^

I was impressed with V. Smith in addition to Cox. He looked healthy and seemed to be quicker with his cuts and a little faster. He could really be dangerous on screens and in the flats.

JeepinBen

April 18th, 2011 at 1:50 PM ^

 While Smith doesn' t have more talent than other backs, I think he did a good job blocking and catching out of the backfield (that might have been only 1 play) 

My guess is he's a primary 3rd down back - best at pass protection and receiving. IIRC he also split out wide from the backfield a few times last year

aawolverine

April 18th, 2011 at 1:49 PM ^

I just don't get a feel from one practice, one way or the other. I know that mgobloggers are hungry for analysis, so Brian provides it, but I don't think anyone will have an opinion worth the fur on its back until we're closing in on September.

UMaD

April 18th, 2011 at 1:52 PM ^

Roundtree and Stokes would be the projected starting WRs in 2012.  J.Robinson, D.Dileo, J.Jackson seem to provide solid depth and a varied skill-set behind them.

There isn't an obvious star yet, but I don't see as big of a need as most seem to.

UMaD

April 18th, 2011 at 2:35 PM ^

You always want to add a good player - I just don't see it as a major need. 

The recruiting sites have no interest in saying 'eh - don't worry about it'. 

I haven't heard the coaches say 'we need WR' - I have heard them say that about TE, OL, DL, and even RB.

MI Expat NY

April 18th, 2011 at 3:01 PM ^

Hemingway missed three games.  Odoms missed 6 or 7.  At the pace we played, we had to rotate our receivers frequently.  If there was a guy who was going to be a stud in one of the younger classes, I think we would have seen it.

I hope I'm wrong, but of the underclassmen, I'm not convinced there's a guy that is going to be feared on the outside.  In a pro-style offense, we need a couple of thosse guys.  With no WRs in the 2011 class, it's going to have to come from the 2012 class.