Spring 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 the Alumni 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 by Olesnavage.

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 Champions, Tiffany Ofili, Tyler Clary and Steve Luke.

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 Team!

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 Rogers.

Finally, Jack Kennedy loses 2 to the 8, but on the next play Jimmy Potemba finds the end zone for a TD.

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 will tell.

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 role.

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 their moments.

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 Room Tour

10:00 Flag Football Alumni Game: Team Rosters

Pre-Game Slide Show

12 noon Spring Practice/Scrimmage

Photo Gallery

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

Western Michigan

Eastern Michigan

Delaware State

Michigan State

Notre Dame



Penn State




Ohio State
Developing 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 Practice

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