News bullets and other important items:
- 7 walk-ons got scholarships yesterday: SDE Nathan Brink, OL Joey Burzynski, LS Jareth Glanda, FB Paul Gyarmati, WR Joe Reynolds, QB Steve Wilson, TE Mike Kwiatkowski
- Still no decision on Fitz or Frank Clark
- Chris Wormley had his ACL surgery yesterday. It went well.
- If Fitz is out, there might be a running back by comittee situation. Super.
“Thanks for coming out. It’s always nice to visit with you. We’re getting a little closer to game day obviously. That’s probably an understatement. First thing I want to say is that we put seven guys on aid for the semester or for the year. They’re seven guys who have given a lot to Michigan and Michigan football. I think it’s only fair when we have them available at the time to reward those guys. Nate Brink and Joe Burzynski and Jareth Glanda, Paul Gyarmati, Kwiatkowski, Joe Reynolds and Steve Wilson are all guys that we wanted to make sure that we acknowledged. When you have the opportunity, every year’s different depending on what you have and what you’re going to do at mid terms and mid year and all that. We’re all happy about that. It’s an expensive dealing for some of them. Burzynski’s from Carlsbad or San Diego, California, out of state, and that’s -- you can imagine the price that he’s paying to be a guy who loves Michigan and wants to be part of Michigan football. That being said, that was fun. It was fun because we announced it in front of the rest of the team. There were hugs and kisses -- not kisses -- but hugs and excitement and all that kind of stuff. So that was good.
“Yesterday’s practice was okay. Not as sharp as we wanted, I wanted. We got a lot done, but at the same time you’re into a Tuesday. It’s a big workday. We’ve been working on Alabama for at least four days now. There’s a couple formation things, a little bit of communication from a defensive standpoint that we need to do a better job with. Still don’t have any decision for you on Frank or Fitz. You can ask me when I’m going to make that decision, and it’ll probably be before the game. It’s sometime before the game. With that, any questions?”
How do you get the team to focus on Alabama and just the game and ignore all the external stuff and hype that’s going on?
“I think to some degree it’s part of it. We talk about staying in the football, staying in the game. The one good thing about playing football at the University of Michigan is that it’s not their first time around. There’s a core group that have played a BCS bowl game and handled it well in Louisiana, you know, in the Sugar Bowl. You’ve got some young guys. Those are the ones [for whom] travel is different. Our intensity, business-like, how we travel is a little different maybe than it was in high school. Those are some of those thing where you hope that your leadership does a nice job of really defining to those guys what this is all about.”
How much time will you have in the building before you take the field on Saturday?
“You know what, I really can’t tell you. I think it’s 27 minutes after we come off before we’ll go back on right before the game. I can tell you that part of it. We’ll get there normally an hour and 50, two hours before.”
“Friday we’ll be there an hour and 20 minutes. Kicking, catching punts, catching kickoffs. We’ll do our normal Friday schedule practice like we do, which we do quite a bit. We believe in breaking a sweat and doing some things that are going to be productive in getting us ready to play.”
What stands out to you about AJ McCarron?
“You know, the more I watch him the more you love him as a quarterback. I think he’s decisive, I think he does a nice job of going to the right guy, he’s got good touch on the ball. He can make all the throws. In the pocket, he feels it. He’s elusive with it. He really -- he’s a heck of a quarterback, and you would expect that from a national championship team.”
You and Nick Saban have crossed paths when you were an assistant and he was a head coach. Have you interacted with him much since?
“No, not really. Love watching him play defense. Love watching him coach defense. But other than that, not really.”
What jumps out to you about his teams?
“Defense. Playing defense.”
What are you going to do to keep your team occupied throughout the day? Are you going to keep them inside to protect them from the heat?
“Well, I don’t think so. I think we’re going to go outside. Trying to think -- last year we had a couple games that were either 3:30 or the Notre Dame [game] and it was a pretty warm day here. We did a couple walk-throughs. It will be a little bit hot and we’ll hydrate them and do all that kind of stuff, which they’ve been doing all week. If it’s something that’s too bad we’ll try and use the ball room or the lobby of the hotel.”
The roof will be closed, though, right?
“Yeah that’s what I’ve heard.”
You’re big into the signs around Schembechler. What’s that from? Have you done that at previous coaching stops?
How did you come up with that?
“Well it’s pretty simple. It’s game week, and making sure that we focus in on what’s at hand for us.”
Will Fitz and Frank travel with the team if they’re not playing?
“Uh, I don’t know.”
Are they technically suspended still?
“They would be practicing, maybe not playing.”
So they’re no longer suspended?
“Well they’ve been practicing. Usually if you’re suspended I don’t let you practice.”
What’s your favorite thing about Michigan football history?
“Well, there’s a lot. I mean, there’s a ton …”
If you had one story to tell.
“Oh man, that’s too hard to do.”
If you had two stories to tell?
“We’d be here all day. You know what’s going to be neat today is the band’s coming to practice. There’s nothing like the Michigan band coming to practice. I look forward to it.”
Is that something that happens every year?
“Has every year since I’ve been here before. The only difference is it’s usually Thursday. It’s Wednesday. But it’s fun to watch the last three periods, and they’ll get on that sideline and come out and play ‘The Victors.’ It’s fun.”
Do you still play “The Victors” on repeat out of your office?
“No. It’s game week at 1:30, we play a lot of things. Mostly Michigan related.”
What’s the biggest gain that Russell Bellomy’s made since fall camp?
“Probably the timing of everything a quarterback, within the offense, has to do. He’s always had what we thought was a pretty good arm. Can make really all the throws. I think part of that timing is probably maturing a little bit and knowing the offense a little bit better. He ran an offense off a card last year during the season, which is always hard, but did a great job with it. I think now being through a spring and being through a fall camp and summer and all that stuff, I think it’s that part of it.”
You mentioned Elliott distinguishing himself in camp. What has he done?
“Yeah. I think he played with a lot of confidence. A much more physical, faster pace, quicker tempo, and the other part of it, he is a smart guy. He can be multiple in what he does. That’s important. It’s like Jibreel Black. Jibreel’s multiple in what he can do, and it’s important to have that on your football team.”
Al mentioned that Thomas Rawls was a little dinged up this weekend. Will he still be the first guy off the bench if Fitz doesn’t play?
“Well, I think Vince Smith. Vince and then Thomas and Justice. Any of the three, but they all three have gotten a lot of reps. Fitz has gotten a lot of reps.”
Is Thomas good to go though?
“Oh yeah. Yeah.”
Would it be a running back by committee thing if Fitz doesn’t play?
“I don’t know. It could be. Or who gets hot, or how we’re playing.”
Is that your hierarchy? You mentioned Vincent first.
“He’s the oldest guy.”
How difficult or frustrating is it that you can’t know much about your team until after the first game considering who you’re playing during the first game?
“I don’t think it’s difficult or frustrating at all, to be honest with you. I kind of enjoy this. Not necessarily this, but playing a team like Alabama. I think it is something that if you can’t get excited about it and look at the great challenge and at the same time the opportunity it is.”
Has Chris Wormley had his surgery yet?
“Yes. Yesterday. Everything went well.”
MGoQuestion: After studying Alabama on film, have you identified any favorable matchups or matchups that you might be concerned about?
“A lot of matchups that we’re always concerned about, and they start up front on both sides of the ball.”
Can you walk us through how you chose the players for scholarships?
“Those are the guys who -- there’s some seniors in that group that have been around and done a good job. There’s some guys who have really proven themselves to some degree.”
How did you tell them that they got scholarships?
“Told them in front of the whole team.”
What was it like?
“It was wild. Their teammates were very happy for them.”
Do those usually go to seniors for you?
“A lot of times. A lot of times.”
Do you have anything special planned for the players Saturday morning? Any speeches?
“No. No. We’re handling like it just like we would an away game. Very business-like. No one coming in to talk to them or anything like that.”