Football Practice: April 11, 2009
Let's start with the basics: It
was a sunny day about 50 degrees with winds blowing East and South.
I kept my hood up on my sweatshirt the whole time, and it took
me a while to re-circulate after the practice. The locker room
tours were from 8-10 a.m. with the Blue defeating the Maize in
Flag football game that began at 10 a.m.
Unlike previous spring practices,
efforts were made to present this "event" as some type
of "game" rather than a practice so the color guard
and band performed the national anthem, and the team ran through
the M Go Blue banner at midfield shortly after 12 noon. What looked
like barefoot cheerleaders performed cheers at the North end of
the field while an abbreviated version of the band was stationed
in the stands on the East end around the 50 yard line above the
tunnel. It was estimated at about 50,000 non-paying fans were
in attendance with many families and children, most dressed in
some type of blue and maize attire.
Recognition of Spring awards were announced. Stevie Brown won the Meyer
Morton Award, Mark Ortmann won the Matthei
Award, Dave Molk and Ryan Van Bergen shared the Sophomore
Award, the Maulbetsch
Award was also shared by J.T. Floyd and Patrick Omameh, Brandon
Graham snared the Dierdorf Award, and the best conditioned athletes,
Iron Wolverine Awards, recognized were Mike Martin (Linemen-Offensive
and Defensive), Brandon Herron (Linebackers-Tight Ends-Fullbacks)
and Mike Cox for skill positions (Running Backs-Defensive Backs-Quarterbacks-Wide
Receivers). Prior to the game, Pittsburgh Steeler Super Bowl Champion
Player Larry Foote and Coach Jonathan Goodwin were introduced.
The practice began with special
teams with lead field goal and extra point kicker, Jason Olesnavage,
missing two of five kicks; then, Bryan Wright missing an attempt
and Scott Schrimscher missing two. There was also a fumbled snap.
The punt return unit came out with orange helmets, and Redshirt
Freshman, Terrence Robinson, back to return. The first punt by
Mesko was short, but the second punt was long and spirally; Robinson
fumbled it out of bounds. Odoms went back for a turn, and also
fumbled. Greg Mathews also took a turn. Two punts were blocked.
The backup punter, Chris Berry, didn't look very good.
The point format of the game included
one point for an offensive first down, two points for the defense
for a "stop" that forced the offense into a punt. Forcier
led the first team offense, White Team, or the "1"s
against the second team defense, Blue Team, or the "2"s.
On the first series, Odoms made two short grabs followed by a
run by Forcier. Then, Moundros took a pass down to the 21. After
a Forcier keeper, and a pass to Odoms to the 7. Minor carried
twice to the 3. Forcier took it in for a 11-0 lead after the conversion
David Cone led the "2"s
on offense for the White Team against the "1"s on defense
for the Blue Team. The Blue Team got a stop after three plays,
a run by Smith and two short catches by Stonum so the score was
11-3 for the White Team.
On the next series, Forcier tried
a bomb to Mathews that was incomplete. It was stated that this
play was the one that fans had requested the most on MgoBlue.com's
web site. After a keeper by Forcier and a short run by Carlos
Brown, the Blue Team got a stop for a 11-6 White lead.
Cone broke a long run to start his
second series, and then threw to Robinson to the 31. After a carry
by Smith, and a pass to Stonum to the 15; the White Team self-destructed
with a bad snap by Khoury and a penalty. Cone missed Robinson
in the end zone, and Stevie Brown almost picked off Cone when
he attempted to hit Robinson. Score was now 13-8 White Team. The
Blue Team would not get any closer than that.
Carlos Brown began the next series
with a nice 9 yard run. After another short run by Brown, and
almost a pick by Herron; Forcier was almost sacked by Campbell,
but broke a keeper to the 40. Brown then took the White Team to
the 25, 16 and 8 on successive runs. After a holding call on Molk,
Forcier hit Roundtree to the 14. Forcier ran on a broken play,
and then Grady lumbered to the 7. Forcier hits Roundtree for his
second TD of the day for a 24-8 White Team lead.
Smith carried on the next series
followed by an incomplete pass to Hemingway, I missed who broke
it up. Cone missed Roundtree on a deep pass out of bounds. So,
the Blue Team hold for a 24-11 score.
Many Wolverine celebrities were
recognized at various points of the day including individual NCAA
Clary and Steve
Of the first drives, they began
at about the 30 or 35; now, Rodriquez starts the offense at their
own 3 yard line pinned deep in their own territory. After a short
run by Grady, and a first down run by Minor; Carlos Brown takes
it "to the House" for an 85? Yard TD run. White Team
is now ahead 32-11.
The next series began with Mike
Cox being thrown for a 2 yard loss to the 1. After a toss to Hemingway
and a tackle by J.T. Floyd, Hemingway again catches a short pass
for a first down with Floyd and Fitzgerald combining for the stop.
Cone overthrows Stonum, Cox's short run is stopped by Williams
and Cone underthrows Cox for another Blue stop and a 33-13 score.
The next offensive series was short,
Steve Watson tackled Tate Forcier in the end zone for a safety.
Score moved to 33-17.
On the next series, Smith carried;
then, Cone hits Hemingway for a first down. Cone goes to Robinson
who fumbles out of bounds. After a penalty to McAvoy, Smith is
tackled by Williams on a run followed by a sack by Fitzgerald
on Cone for a 34-19 lead for the White Team.
As the format changed from the 3
to series starting at the 50, I noticed Ryan Van Bergen leaving
on a cart; hopefully, his injury is not serious. On the opening
play, Odoms takes a reverse to the 19, apparently the play was
called by fans via text messaging. Carlos Brown motors to the
10, Forcier keeps for no gain on a tackle from Emilien; then,
Brown takes it to the 3. Moundros scores a TD to take it to 43-19
for the White Team.
Several former Michigan football
greats were introduced to the fans today including Desmond Howard
at this stage. David Cone began the next series by overthrowing
Robinson. Smith carried for 3 yards, and Cone missed Robinson
for a 43-19 score. Mike Hart and Steve Breaston were then introduced.
Later, Lamarr Woodley and was recognized.
On the next series, Jack Kennedy
led the "3"s in, and Jim Potemba took three carries
from the 50 to the 35. Forget Sam McGuffie, we have Jim Potemba.
After a sack by Zac Johnson at the 39, Kennedy hits Potemba to
the 5 yard line. Potemba brings the next two carries to the 2,
and Steve Watson recovers a fumble to end the drive. 45-25.
On the next drive, Forcier hits
Roy Roundtree on a 50 yard bomb for a TD. 52-25.
Stonum drops a pass from Cone, and
then catches a pass out of bounds for an incompletion. Cone throws
another miscue for a 3 and out. 52-28.
Potemba takes the first handoff
to the 40, and after Kennedy passes to Doug Rogan to the 33, Potemba
gets another first down to the 27. Simmons broke up a pass to
Ricky Reyes, and after a two yard loss with Jordan Reilly tackling
Potemba, Kennedy hits Nick Koenigsknecht for a TD. 61-28 White
The drills changed with an overtime
format, and a 7-7 score beginning at the 25 yard line. Forcier
runs to the 19 tackled by Emilien; then, Grady rambles to the
8. Forcier throws the "alley oop" to Mathews for a TD,
and Olesnavage barely clears the bar.
On the next series, it is still
overtime with the offense trailing 4-7. Cox goes to the 20. Cone
overthrows Stonum, but hits Stonum on the next play for a TD.
Scott Schrimscher hits to extra point.
On the next series, Forcier overthrows
Smith, and Smith motors for a TD run on the next play with the
offense trailing 7-10 in overtime.
On the next series, Cone misses
an open Robinson at the 15. Cone hits Mike Therman, and then finds
Daryl Stonum at the 9. After Potemba takes it to the 6, Cone tosses
it to Robinson to the 3. Cox takes it down to the 1, and the defense
gets a 4th down stop.
Behind 20-28 in overtime, Forcier
passes to Hemingway at the 15. After a false start by Schilling,
Grady powers his way in for a TD after looking like he was down
at the 10 by three tacklers.
Forcier keeps for two yards. Robinson
takes a reverse to the 15. Vincent Smith's run and penalty by
Stevie Brown for a facemask, and another Smith run bring it to
the 1 yard line. Smith gets the TD to make it 26-28; however,
David Cone lets the ball slip out of his hand for an incomplete
pass on the two point conversion attempt.
Jack Kennedy throw a nice pass to
Ricky Reyes who had it, but lost it when he began running so it
was ruled incomplete. Potemba takes it to the 20. Kennedy then
throws incomplete to Patrick Collins and fellow walk-on Elias
Kos for a defensive stop.
On the last series of the day for
the "1"s with the ball placed at the 6 yard line with
2nd and Goal. Will Heininger tackles Grady at the 5, but then
Forcier hits Savoy for a TD.
The next series beginning at the
6 finds Mike Cox running to the 4. Cone throws incomplete to James
Rogers. On 4th and 4, Cissoko almost picks a ball intended for
Finally, Jack Kennedy loses 2 to
the 8, but on the next play Jimmy Potemba finds the end zone for
The event lasted until shortly after
2:00 p.m. probably 2:10 or so with both teams shaking hands at
midfield, and a rendition of the "Hail to the Victors"
for the players and crowd to sing together.
Player and Team Evaluation
Six of seven early enrollees look
to earn significant playing time for this season, and two may
be starters. Forcier and Campbell may start with Smith, Emilien,
Jones and Hawthorne getting significant playing time. Lolata may
redshirt, but time will tell. Of the other incoming Frosh, J.T.
Turner is a sure bet for significant playing time, and Brendon
Gibbons may be able to win the starting placekicker position as
a true Frosh.
On offense, we are going to look
for Senior leadership from Minor, Brown and Ortmann. Ortmann has
solidly won the Left Tackle position, and with Schilling moving
to Left Guard, Molk returning at Center and Moosman at Right Guard,
the only position still unresolved is Right Tackle with Mark Huyge
leading Patrick Omameh. The move to Left Guard by Schilling should
pay dividends, and give us a much more solid left side. Others
who will contribute on offensive line will be John Ferrara at
Right Guard, Ricky Barnum at Guard, Center or Tackle and Dorenstein
at Tackle. If Barnum moves ahead of Ferrara at Guard, Ferrara
may go back to defense where we are thin depthwise. McAvoy and
Khoury may see some playing time, but they are definitely behind
the others. It doesn't look like redshirts, Wermers, Mealer or
O'Neill, are ready to play. I'm not sure if I saw O'Neill play
today or not. I would have to think that Taylor Lewan, Mike Schofield
and Quinton Washington will be headed for redshirt.
Our running backs are solid with
Minor and Brown as our lead backs, and Smith giving us a new dimension
with his speed and ability to run low to the ground. Grady and
Cox are also solid backs to whether a 12 game season. Moundros
is also quite underrated; he can do it all: block, catch and gain
tough, short yardage. We have speed and power at these positions.
With Fitzgerald Touissaint and Teric Jones added in the Summer,
we are solid at running back.
At quarterback, Forcier shows savvy,
polish and accuracy; however, he is making and will make many
mistakes. Also, he is quite small, and his ability to whether
hits through a 12 game season without a capable backup are a scary
proposition. Hopefully, Sheridan will heal up and continue to
show the improvement prior to the injury, and Denard Robinson
will give our opponents something to think about. Feagin did not
play today at all, not at quarterback and not at slot; he must
be injured. We have no depth here so we certainly can't afford
injuries, and this means limiting Tate on running plays. If we
can used Robinson and/or Feagin for designed quarterback running
plays, it would certainly help a lot.
Our wideouts are capable with Mathews,
Odoms and Stonum as the starters, and Roundtree, Savoy and Hemingway
showing flashes of contribution. Robinson may also contribute,
but he didn't look quite as good as I had hoped; I understand
he is still not 100%. Our other backups aren't real impressive,
Rogers didn't look very good today. Perhaps Shaw and Feagin may
participate more here along with newcomers Gordon, Gallon and
Stokes. If Gallon is eligible in the Fall, he and Stokes could
play a lot. It was pretty obvious by what took place today that
we no longer have a tight end position at Michigan, only one pass
was thrown to a tight end (caught by Therman) late in the practice.
Koger is capable, but plays to the tight end look to be infrequent
to say the least. We aren't even using the tight end position
for blocking; instead, we run formations spreading the defense
so we don't need to block from that position. Martell Webb was
injured and didn't participate today. I did not see Brandon Moore
either although he may have played, it is simply people playing
this position aren't utilized or noticed much because of the way
the position is under-emphasized.
On defense, count on Senior leadership
from Brandon Graham and Stevie Brown. Graham is a sure All-American.
Stevie Brown is a sure starter at SAM-OLB, and can float into
the backfield when we need him in defensive schemes at safety.
We have a real problem at inside linebacker with Fitzgerald, Ezeh,
Demens, Herron, Leach, Evans and Mouton battling for two inside
linebacker positions; none of them stood out in today's practice.
Herron probably looked the best today. Mike Jones and Brandin
Hawthorne have come in and shown the abilities to tackle and hit,
but both are Freshmen so we really have some work to do prior
to the start of the Big Ten season at these critical inside linebacking
position. We may be rotating a lot of people here including walk-ons.
The return of Mouton in the Fall should really help. I'd be surprised
if he didn't start. It may be Mouton at WILL and Fitzgerald at
MIKE to start the 2009 campaign with Ezeh, Demens and Evans backing
them up. Isaiah Bell could also contribute here if he gets in
early, and has a good Summer camp. I also wouldn't be surprised
to see Coach Barwis trying to bulk up Brandin Smith, Brandin Hawthorne,
Mike Jones and Isaiah Bell into exclusive inside linebackers by
the 2010 season to complement Mouton, Fitzgerald, Demens and Evans.
We need better tackling and more speed at these positions to cover
receivers and tight ends from the opposition.
In the backfield, Donovan Warren
did not play today. Cissoko looked good, and we can expect Warren
and Cissoko to be the corners with J.T. Turner and J.T. Floyd
seeing significant playing time. The competition between safeties,
Wolfolk, Smith, Williams, Emilien and Summer enrollee Thomas Gordon
should be interesting. Our starting safeties look to be Wolfolk
and Smith with Williams and Emilien pressing for playing time.
The move of Wolfolk to safety was a good choice. His name wasn't
called much today, but he showed he can play the position. It
is possible that Adrian Witty could also contribute, but time
Our defensive line could be excellent
with Mike Martin, Will Campbell and Ryan Van Bergen. Martin didn't
play today and Van Bergen left with an injury. Sagesse, Banks,
Patterson and Helmuth rotated at tackle and end; however, all
were in down positions. We don't have much depth on defensive
line. It would not surprise me if John Ferrara moved back for
Fall. It looks like Roh could be quite a factor, and earn significant
playing time in the Fall. Two people who were very impressive
today were Steve Watson and Will Heininger. They are both good,
tough players at defensive end, and should help us in a back up
On special teams, we still have
a lot of work to do. Mesko is a good punter, but we will be starting
with a new placekicker and/or kickoff specialist. Olesnavage has
a good leg, but both he and Wright are obviously inconsistent.
Gibbons will have an opportunity to unseat both of them. Our return
teams still show a lack of concentration and consistency meaning
more turnovers which we obviously can't afford. If Gallon is eligible,
he could contribute on punt returns. Stokes is another possibility.
Neither Robinson nor Odoms impress me although I'm sure they have
I was hoping I could say that I
was real impressed with the team, but I can't. I'm impressed with
the improvement, and we have the system implemented by Barwis,
Rodriquez and Robinson; however, we still don't have ther personnel
we need at every position. The most glaring weaknesses are at
linebacker, quarterback and wide receiver. We look to be better,
but we are not ready to be considered an "elite" team
or elite program in 2009. We could win enough games to be bowl
eligible, and improve enough to be a Top 20 team; however, we
have a lot of work to do including infusing the new players into
the program this Summer. I wish I could be more optimistic, but
that is my evaluation. Our recruiting is going well; in fact, we could have one of the best
recruiting years ever. Top high school stars with talent see the
opportunity for early playing time at many positions.
Coach Rod's Post Practice Press Conference
Schedule of Events for Saturday, April 11
8-10 a.m. Locker
10:00 Flag Football Alumni Game:
Pre-Game Slide Show
12 noon Spring Practice/Scrimmage
All In for Michigan
Coach Rod on April 7
WTKA holds remote on Thursday, April 9
Coach Rod Video on March 26
Coach Rod Audio on March 26
Sheridan is Running and Throwing
Sheridan breaks leg; Cone rumored to have hand injury
March 25 Practice Video
Michigan Concludes 1st Week of Spring Practice
Spring Game Activities Planned
4th Spring Practice Video
3rd Spring Practice Video
2nd Spring Practice Video
Coach Rod after 1st Spring Practice
1st Spring Practice Video
Spring Roster 2009
Spring Practices begins March 14
Michigan Football Night of Champions: Will Johnson
Benches 225 lbs. x 47 reps
Spring Press Conference: March 10
2009 Opponent Spring Games
Depth Chart for 2009
Developing Depth Chart for 2010
Developing Depth Chart for 2011
Spring Football Media Guide 2009
Spring Practice 2009 Best Moments
Michigan Daily's Andy Reid on the 2009 Spring Football
MLive's John Heuser on the 2009 Spring Football Practice
Detroit News on 2009 Spring Football Practice
Detroit Free Press on 2009 Spring Football Practice
Big Ten Network on 2009 Spring Football Practice
Big Ten Network Video of 2009 Spring Football Practice
Toledo Blade on the 2009 Spring Football Practice
ESPN's Spring Wrap for the Big Ten
Michigan Spring Scrimmage 2008
Spring Practice Summary 2006
Spring Scrimmage 2005
Spring Scrimmage 2004
Spring Scrimmage 2003-cancelled
due to turf/weather
Spring Scrimmage 2002
Spring Scrimmage 2001
Spring Scrimmage 2000