For Your Game Week Consumption: UM Depth Chart

Via mgoblog:

Pos First Second Third
QB Denard Robinson OR
Tate Forcier OR
Devin Gardner
-- --
Vincent Smith OR
Michael Shaw
Mike Cox 4:Fitzgerald Toussaint
5:Stephen Hopkins
6:Teric Jones
WR1 Darryl Stonum OR
Junior Hemingway
Je'Ron Stokes Ricardo Miller
WR2 Martavious Odoms Jeremy Jackson Jerald Robinson
Slot Roy Roundtree OR
Kelvin Grady
Terrance Robinson Jeremy Gallon
TE Kevin Koger Martell Webb Brandon Moore
LT Mark Huyge Taylor Lewan Erik Gunderson#
LG Steve Schilling Quinton Washington Elliot Mealer
C David Molk Rocko Khoury Christian Pace
RG Patrick Omameh Ricky Barnum John Ferrara
RT Perry Dorrestein Michael Schofield Zac Ciullo#
Pos First Second Third
DE Ryan Van Bergen Jibreel Black Steve Watson
NT Mike Martin Adam Patterson William Campbell
DE/DT Greg Banks Renaldo Sagesse Terry Talbott
LB/DE Craig Roh Brandon Herron OR
JB Fitzgerald
MLB Obi Ezeh OR
Mark Moundros#
Kenny Demens --
WLB Jonas Mouton Mike Jones Kevin Leach#
Spur Carvin Johnson Thomas Gordon Floyd Simmons#
Bandit Jordan Kovacs# Marvin Robinson --
FS Cam Gordon Jared Van Slyke# Vlad Emilien
CB1 James Rogers Terrence Talbott OR
Cullen Christian
CB2 JT Floyd Courtney Avery --
Pos First Second Third
P Will Hagerup Seth Broekhuizen# ---
K Brendan Gibbons OR
Seth Broekhuizen#
Justin Meram# --
PR Jeremy Gallon OR
Martavious Odoms OR
Terrance Robinson
Drew Dileo --
KR Darryl Stonum Martavious Odoms OR
Jeremy Gallon OR
Terrance Robinson
Drew Dileo
Casual observations:

• From the head ball coach himself...any freshman listed on the depth chart will not red-shirt (i.e. Devin Gardner).

• All 3 QBs are listed as probable starters, unsurprisingly as we know the final word won't be mentioned to those QBs in question until Friday night.

• Vincent Smith and Michael Shaw will start at RB, Michael Cox will backup. Toussaint listed at 3rd string.

• The OL has seniority up front, with a bevy of younger guys as backups. The tackles have shifted to the older boys, while Taylor Lewan is a backup.

• Martavious Odoms is a WR along with Hemingway and Stonum. Roundtree, Grady and T-Rob at slot.

• No big surprises on the D-line as far as starters. Will Campbell listed on the 3rd string is probably punishment for showing up to fall camp 30 pounds overweight.

• M-Rob behind Kovacs at bandit. Carvin Johnson listed ahead of T-Gordon. C-Gordon starting at safety.

• 3 freshman listed in the cornerback spot. JT Floyd and James Rogers are starters, with Cullen Christian and Courtney Avery as the backups.

Preview: Connecticut Huskies



Game Info
When: September 4, 2010
Where: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
Time: 3:30PM
TV: ABC/ESPN2 (Sean McDonough, Matt Millen, Heather Cox)
Radio: 104.3 WOMC, 1050 WTKA
Line: Michigan -3
Last Meeting: First Meeting
Series Record: First Meeting
Michigan Record: 0-0 (0-0)
Last Game: N/A
Connecticut Record: 0-0 (0-0)
Last Game: N/A

Connecticut Bio
Location: Storrs, CT
Enrollment: 28,000+
Conference: Big East
Nickname: Huskies
Head Coach: Randy Edsall
OC: Joe Moorhead
DC: Todd Orlando
Offensive Scheme: Pro-Style
Defensive Scheme: 4-3
2009 Record: 8-5
Returning Starters: Off: 8, Def: 8

A Little History
This will be the first ever meeting between Michigan and Connecticut. Connecticut is 4-0 in their last 4 road openers.

UConn transitioned to Division 1-A status in 2000. They did not however, join a conference, and competed as an independent from 2000-2003. Prior to this, the Huskies were in a Atlantic-10 conference.

The Big East welcomed UConn to their conference in 2004. Not making a huge splash in the conference initially, they did manage to win the Big East in 2007 with a 9-4 overall and 5-2 conference record. Hit hard last season by the tragic on-campus murder of cornerback Jasper Howard following their homecoming game, the Huskies dropped their next 3 games before rebounding against a disheveled Notre Dame squad.

Since joining the Big East, UConn has enjoyed taking advantage of the conferences bowl affiliations by going to bowls in 05, 07, 09, and 2010. The latest bowl appearance was in the Bowl with an impressive win against South Carolina 20-7.

Stats Comparison (Based on 2009 final stats)

         Category             Michigan         UConn       Advantage
Rushing Offense186.17170.69UM
Passing Offense198.33216.54 UConn
Total Offense384.50387.23UConn
Scoring Offense29.5031.15UConn
Rushing Defense171.92132.85UConn
Pass Efficiency Defense131.79136.11UM
Total Defense393.33368.77UConn
Scoring Defence27.5023.62UConn
Net Punting40.9337.57UM
Punt Returns8.6710.84UConn
Kickoff Returns23.8025.75UConn
Turnover Margin-1.00.23UConn
Pass Defense221.42235.92UM
Passing Efficiency124.09127.30UConn
Tackles For Loss7.005.62UM
Sacks Allowed2.331.62UConn

Connecticut Offense
UConn plays a pro-style run first/pass second type of offense. Fans of Michigan's offense from 1969-2007 will recognize this scheme very quickly.

Junior RB Jordan Todman
One of UConn's biggest strengths is it's rushing game, which has averaged 2000+ yards rushing each of the last 4 years. Much like Michigan the last couple years, their rushing game has been by committee. Junior RB Jordan Todman rushed 235 times for 1188 yards, 14TDs. Andre Dixon, now graduated, split time with Todman, both RBs stats were about the same. Junior RB Robbie Frey could see some action in Dixon's absence. He had a minor role in 09, rushing 5 times for 69 yards and 2 scores.

Senior QB Zach Frazer played 9 games last year for the Huskies, passing for 1461 yards, 10 TDs and 9 INTs. Expect to see Frazer exclusively, because backup Cody Endres has an indefinite suspension which will keep him out of this game. Frazer did finish the season strong for the Huskies, leading them to 4-straight wins at ND, Syracuse, South Florida and against South Carolina in their bowl game.

UConn will use Frazer's experience, and size (6-4, 231) to try and outgun Michigan's young and inexperienced secondary. If Frazer has a good game, say...20 for 30, 250+ yards and a couple TDs, this game will be much closer than anyone would like. History has shown that Frazer can be rattled, like he was against Rutgers last season, throwing 3 picks, a 45% completion percentage, but still throwing for 333 yards. Of course he did toss it up 46 times for a season-best 21 completions.
Senior QB Zach Frazer
Don't expect Frazer to do any damage with his feet. Last year he had 17 carries for -28 yards.

Make no mistake though, the strength of this offense is the ground game.

Junior WR Kashif Moore
UConn will use 3 or 4 guys to try and fill the role of departing senior WR Marcus Easley. Easley was by far the best receiver UConn had to offer in 09, so it's going to be open tryouts for guys like Kashif Moore, Michael Smith and Isiah Moore. Of those 3, Kashif Moore probably has the most big-play potential, and will likely be the main target for Frazer throughout the season.

TE Ryan Griffin, if healthy - which it sounds like he might not be, would also be a nice option for the senior QB as well. If Griffin is out, John Delahunt and recently converted LB Andre Opoku could see some action.

The OL is led by Zach Hurd, who will likely end is career playing on Sundays. This unit is pretty solid with experience and depth (for a lower-level Big East team), but there are few holes up front for UConn. Mike Martin, Will Campbell and company will have their hands full, but shouldn't get outplayed by this unit.

One area of concern if your a Michigan fan is that our defense has not played against an offense like this since late last season. And in fall-camp, we've only seen our own spread-option type of attack. UConn is a downhill type of attack that might give us fits early, especially with only 3 defensive linemen up front.

Connecticut Defense
From simply a statistical standpoint, UConn's defense from 09 wasn't the greatest. They gave up an average of 368 yards per game, #62 nationally and 6th in the Big East (Michigan gave up 393 ypg). UConn was pretty much below average among Big East teams in all defensive categories. Passing defense was ranked 88th in the nation, while rushing D was 45th.

The first thing that sticks out to me about UConn's D is the lack of seniors. LB Scott Lutrus is the lone senior as far as I can tell. They feature 3 freshman in their backfield and 1 Freshman defensive end and 1 freshman linebacker. Add in a couple sophomore DTs, two junior LBs and a junior safety, and you basically have...Michigan's defense minus the experience.

So basically, the 6th (of 8) best defense in the Big East just got younger and more inexperienced.

The biggest standouts of this defense (by farrrrrr) are LB #8 Lawrence Wilson and LB Scott Lutrus. Wilson had 140 tackles last year, 11 for loss, 5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. Aside from those two, no one else in the top 5 in tackles from the 09 team is back. Linebacker Greg Lloyd will redshirt this year after badly injuring his knee late last season. DBs Robert McClain and Robert Vaughn and DT Lindsey Witten are gone. In their places...nothing but inexperience and more inexperience.

I'm not usually one for bold predictions, but I suspect Michigan's OL will eat this defensive front for lunch and enjoy a couple of the freshman DBs as desert. For UConn to have a chance at stopping Michigan's much improved offense, these young men will need to play the game of their lives. Given that Michigan is their biggest game of the season...they might just do that. You better believe UConn has visions of Appy State in their heads right now.

Special Teams
Again, more youth. Sophomore Dave Teggart returns as the placekicker after going 47/47 in extra points last year, and 14/23 in field goals. UConn has two punters who are both freshman. RB Jordan Todman will return kickoffs and Gary Willburn will field punts.

Final Thoughts
I have little doubt that UConn will be able to score some points. They have a proven leader in Frazer at QB and a capable running attack with a decent OL. They're a little green at WR, but could show some signs of life if Michigan's secondary proves to be as bad as we fear.

However, UConn might be the 2nd best defense in the stadium on Saturday...which is really saying something. At least we know that they are younger and more inexperienced then we are. That could prove to be the deciding factor in the outcome of this game. Whomever we line up at QB should be able to move the ball well through the air against a very young secondary.

As long as we can keep Wilson and Lutrus in check, we'll be able to run the ball well.

I won't predict a final score, but a win by two scores is surely a possibility. I've had this game marked as a win since the spring game. Before then, I was skeptical that our offense would be improved enough. But after seeing Denard, and our OL...I have little doubt that Michigan can take care of business before the day is through. Hopefully we'll get a good look at Denard, Tate, and even Devin.

Expect to see a lot of running backs, receivers, and even offensive linemen cycle through this game. It's not going to be pretty at times...especially on special teams where we have a new punter, and a bevy of young placekickers. But if we can win the turnover battle and limit our mistakes, hopefully we can make the Huskies pay for theirs.

90 Minutes With Rich Rodriguez

One thing I swore I would never do again was link to or quote a Detroit Free Press article on this blog. For a while there is was pretty easy, they haven't printed a worthwhile article about Michigan football in a long time. But then Mitch Albom, who usually gets free reign to write about just about whatever he wants, decided he wanted to do a piece on Rich Rodriguez. Of course he didn't just open his laptop and start writing, he called the media relations staff at UM, and got them to agree to let him sit down with Rodriguez for 90 minutes. And of course, anything he wanted to ask was on the table. There were no rules. No one since Rodriguez got to Michigan, has been able to get that level of access to him.

It's all I love about Mitch Albom, and all I can't stand about him in one article. Be that as it may, he asked the right questions, and got the answers he wanted. It's a great read, and worth the click. Read it here.

Just a couple highlights:
M: Talk about your departure from West Virginia and the fallout.
R: Well, I never even got a chance to set the record straight. I just was told hey, take the high road and move on.
M: You were advised to say nothing?
R: Yeah, oh, yeah. Say nothing. Move on. Don't worry about the past. No need to explain yourself. ... But when I look back on it, what did that do for me? (chuckles) You know? I mean, Rita and I have talked about it a lot. I kind of tried to take that high road -- and it didn't do much. I'm thinking I should have said something.
M: Instead people filled in their own blanks?
R: They filled in the blanks ... like, (the stuff about) "He's shredding papers." What are you talking about? I was throwing away game plans from Glenville State College!
Advised by whom? I hope Mitch didn't ask that and not write about for whatever reason. I hope he just didn't ask and moved on. But it seems strange to me that he didn't ask this obvious question.
M: In retrospect, what about Michigan and its tradition did you not understand when you arrived here?
R: You know, it happened so quickly that ... did I do a bunch of research before I got here? No. But I did a little bit. I had never seen the Big House until my first press conference. But I knew about Bo. I knew a lot about Michigan history because of my college coach, Don Nehlen. I knew about "The Victors."
M: So nothing made you shake your head?
R: Well ... probably the overdramatization of things that I don't view as being major. ... For instance, you named game captains instead of permanent captains. A huge reaction with that. A huge reaction on the No. 1 jersey. (Not giving it to a wide receiver.) I didn't know (the tradition). That was poor communication on our part, me included.
There are a lot of Michigan fans, and press (@ the Freep) who still hold a grudge against him because of this.

Is it fair? No. He's a coach first, and his job at WVU was not to learn all there was to learn about Michigan football and tradition. When he was offered the job, he took it because you'd have to be insane not to. I don't know Rich Rodriguez, at all. But I have been in the room with him after both wins, losses and just this last Sunday at media day to hear him answer the media's questions. He might not be the most graceful speaker, but since when has a football coach been that? One thing I do know is, this man wants to win...he wants it more than anyone. I think he honestly feels that he has a chance this year.

The one single question I get asked the most is: How many wins does Rodriguez need to keep his job?

As much as it does come down to wins and losses, it's the kinds of wins and the kinds of losses. Its also when you win and when you lose. Its also the kind of program you are running. Its also the kinds of players that you're recruiting. Dave Brandon said recently that all these things go into how you judge a coach at this level.

And Brandon is smart enough to know that if we ditch Rodriguez after this matter how good or bad it is, we're literally starting from zero if we go with another coach who doesn't run this type of offense. All of the people out there calling for Rodriguez's head need to realize this. Remember when he had 3 defensive coordinators in 3 seasons? Remember how well that worked?

Okay, that's enough for now. Stay tuned for a full preview of the UConn huskies coming up tomorrow.

Michigan No Closer to Naming Starting QB

We have a little bit of a dilemma surrounding the QB situation in Ann Arbor. When fall camp began, word was that Denard was making a serious run at the starting gig. He performed very well in the spring game, earning the bulk of the reps with the starting group. He had improved his passing ability, improved his running of the read-option by adding the "read" part. All-in-all, Denard was becoming the QB that Rodriguez had hoped he would when he signed his letter of intent.

And then there's Tate Forcier. Obviously the guy with the most experience and playing time from 2009, it almost seemed, at least to me...that the starting QB job was his to lose. We all know that Tate has a ways to go before he's truly the leader of this offense. His biggest problem wasn't his ability or not stepping up when it counts most...not even close. But from what I saw last season, Tate's biggest liability is the real estate between his ears. At times in 2009, he acted like a freshman. Painfully. He pouted on the sidelines when he would be pulled from the game. He made freshman mistakes, and then beat himself up over them.

To his credit, he also played injured for half of the year.

Just having those two very different, yet very similar QBs in the mix is enough...but that's where things get interesting.

Enter: freshman Devin Gardner.

While I think it's a bit premature for Gardner to be challenging for the starting role, what I keep hearing from Rodriguez is starting to make me wonder. He met with the media on Wednesday, and had this to say...
"Every day I come in and wonder, 'OK, who's going to separate themselves?' So that's been an ongoing process. With three guys, this is probably as unique a situation I've been in"

"It may seem frustrating and everybody wants to know, but as long as they get better every day and eliminate the mistakes tomorrow that they had today or yesterday, then we'll be OK. That's the big thing. We don't want to keep making the same mistakes, and they haven't been for the most part, but there are some days they do better than others."
Obviously, the decision is not going to be made this week as some had predicted it would. In true head coaching fashion when it comes to QB decisions like this, Rodriguez said he won't inform the three QBs until next Friday, the day before the UCONN game.

And of course...
"Nobody else will know until 3:36."
What else would you expect?

Personally, I feel that Denard is making the biggest improvement overall so far. He's certainly been getting the most positive attention.

But Tate is a wild card in my eyes. On one hand, he's got a certain flair for the dramatic. He rises to the occasion in big games, at least he did in the beginning of 09 when he was healthy. But on the other hand, I get the feeling that his head is just not in the right place.

I have no doubt that he's trying his hardest to win the job. But in his own words on media day last Sunday, he's been "humbled" by the competition from Devin and Denard, who are both roommates, btw. He also said that he "slacked off" in the offseason, which anyone who heard Troy Woolfolk's comments from the Big ten media days in Chicago last month can tell you. But when I spoke to David Molk on Sunday, he said that Tate has been working hard, and that he has been impressed with how much he's trying to win back his starting job.

So, take all that for what it's worth. I still think that we'll see Denard stroll out to the huddle when the offense takes the field for the first time on Sept. 4th. But I have very little doubt that both Tate and Devin will see the field against UCONN. All 3 probably won't see equal time, but I'm sure each will have a fair chance to prove himself.

So I guess, the next question would be...who starts in South Bend on the 11th?

• Also mentioned at the presser was Troy Woolfolk's status...he underwent surgery yesterday to repair his broken fibula. [via DetNews]
"Certainly it looks like he's lost for the season," Rodriguez said. "He (faces) quite a bit of rehabilitation, but (the doctors) don't see any reason why he can't be 100 percent this time next year."
Rodriguez said he spoke with Troy about using his redshirt to come back next year and play. 
• Mark Moundros is looking to be the starter at middle linebacker.
• The OL is not set yet in terms of starters, but 8, 9, or 10 guys could be rotating in regularly throughout the game.
• JT Floyd is going to start at CB. James Rogers could potentially start on the opposite side (eek!)

• Fitzgerald Toussaint suffered a neck stinger and a sore knee in practice and may miss this Saturday's scrimmage. He should be okay for UCONN though.

RB Michael Shaw is reportedly still taking summer classes in order to determine his academic status for the fall. Rodriguez says the RB situation is still "unsettled"...whatever that means.

• Michigan's kickers have been breaking in the new turf at the Big House by practicing primarily there lately.

Michigan-OSU Will Still Matter

Last week, both UM AD Dave Brandon and OSU AD Gene Smith were quoted saying that the annual Michigan-OSU game will likely no longer take place at the end of the season. Instead, the game will likely happen closer to the middle of the conference schedule. As suspected, this has rubbed quite a few people the wrong way, and has sent a minor shock wave through the Michigan and OSU fan bases.

When I posted last week about this, I wasn't sure which side of the fence I was on. On one hand, tradition is why mess with it. But on the other hand, change is natural. And change...big change is happening in the Big Ten. Let's face it, the game simply can no longer take place at the end of the season. It just simply doesn't make sense...from a TV perspective, from a scheduling perspective, and from a competitive perspective.

Here's why it should be moved.

• You can't keep Michigan and OSU in the same division. The idea of a Big Ten title game featuring your two biggest brands is a prospect too large to pass up. All the Big Ten ADs know this, Jim Delany knows this...and if you really take the time to consider it, you know this too. You can give me all the stats and record you want, Michigan and OSU are the biggest names in town in the Big Ten. The potential TV revenue of a Michigan-OSU Big Ten title game is ridiculous.

I'm not saying it's right, but it's the reality that we live in now. TV dominates college football. TV is the only reason....the ONLY reason Big Ten expansion and a championship game are happening.

• What's better than playing OSU every year? Playing them twice.

Look, its the same argument as the last point. It's all about money. You could say that the Big Ten is possibly trying to exploit it's biggest matchup...but that's probably a stretch. Michigan playing OSU twice a year may only happen once or twice in a 10 year stretch. But from a TV perspective, any Big Ten title game beats no Big Ten title game.

But in the off chance that Michigan and OSU play twice in a season...that means that things are going really well for each team, and by default, going well for the Big Ten. It's like Tiger and Phil playing in the same group on Sunday at Augusta. Everyone wins.

• The game will always have meaning.

For a while there (the 70s, 80s, 90s), the Michigan-OSU game typically determined the champion of the conference. But now, with the addition of Penn State to the conference in 1993, more parity among conference teams like Wisconsin and Iowa...and now the latest addition of Nebraska next year, the prospect of the Michigan-OSU game still determining the champion of the conference is nil.

Throw in a conference championship game, and that percentage drops even further.

Also, and this makes sense from both a TV and fan just can't have Michigan vs. OSU two weeks in a row. It's bad for each team, it's bad for the rivalry and it's bad for the fans.

But if you have Michigan-OSU in say, week 6 of the season, then it will surely have meaning. Suddenly, neither school has been eliminated from the conference title hunt. Both teams are still alive and kicking.

Let's use 2009 as an example. If Michigan had met OSU instead of Iowa in week 6, our records would have been Michigan at 4-1 and OSU at 4-1. Instead, we played at the end of the year when Michigan was 5-6 and OSU was 9-2 with the Big Ten title already wrapped up.

Of course not every year would work out like this...I'd like to think that 2006 would be the norm rather than 2009. But last year is a great example of the game not meaning much to either team or fan base. But if the game is played earlier in the year, it will always have meaning to both teams...and will be reflected in how each team's fans treat the game as well.

But hey...this is just my perspective. What say you?

The Scrimmage That We Shall Not Speak Of

Unless you donated a large sum of money to the university or just ponied up for a suite or premium seat, you were left on the outside looking in as the Michigan football team held a scrimmage for those special guests last Saturday.

Certain media were told not to write anything about it, post pics or video...or basically even acknowledge that anything actually took place. But of course that left the door wide open for the inmates to run the prison as unofficial and pretty inaccurate reports started to filter around the internet about what went down. But of course you can't just hold a full-team full-contact scrimmage in the stadium 2 weeks before the opener, invite a few hundred select guests, and expect no one to talk about who's really to blame here?

But yesterday's Countdown to Kickoff features highlights from the scrimmage, and shows that Denard is indeed looking better than last he's been advertised. For a full report on all of the conflicting information, head over to mgoblog.

2010 Preview: Receivers and Tight Ends

Welcome to the season preview of the 2010 Michigan Wolverines. In this series of posts we'll dive head first into each position, providing in-depth analysis of all the main contenders and a little bit of speculation just for fun.

Running Back
Offensive Line

Receivers and Tight Ends

Greg Mathews
LaTerryal Savoy

Projected Contributors:
Junior Hemingway
Darryl Stonum
JeRon Stokes
Ricardo Miller
Roy Roundtree
Martavious Odoms
Kelvin Grady
Terrance Robinson
Kevin Koger
Martell Webb

Jeremy Jackson
Doug Rogan
Jerald Robinson
DJ Williamson
Joe Reynolds
Jeremy Gallon
Drew Dileo
Jordan Owens
Jordan Barpal
Brandon Moore

The 2010 Michigan offense features great depth and experience at receiver, slot and tight end. I'm not going to go all Gerry DiNardo and claim that the WRs are the biggest bright spot on this Michigan team, but it is clearly an area of great promise that has the potential to have a breakout type season.

Most projected contributors have seen abundant playing time over the last 2, or more seasons. Expect to see a vast array of lineups throughout the season at WR and slot. Players will intermix between those two positions frequently. However, Michigan is still a run-first type of offense, so the receiver role is still one that requires good downfield blocking ability.

Roy Roundtree was the leading receiver in 09 with 32 catches and 434 yards and 3 TDs. #2 overall was outgoing senior Greg Matthews with 29 catches for 352 yards. The good news is that #3 through #6 in receiving are all back. Martavious Odoms, Junior Hemingway, TE Kevin Koger and Darryl Stonum all looked good in the spring and continue to look good in fall camp.

Since Rodriguez came to town, Michigan hasn't had a receiver crack the 500-yard barrier. Before Rdoriguez, we always had at least 1...or 3 receivers over 500 yards per year. Part of that comes from having inexperience at QB for two years in a row. The other part of that is Rodriguez's offenses have never featured a downfield type of passing attack.

But Michigan finds itself suddenly in a position where it has talent to burn at both WR and slot. I'm excited to watch guys like Jeremy Jackson and Ricardo Miller in this offense. Martavious Odoms has always been a solid contributor, and Kelvin Grady, Je'Ron Stokes and Terrance Robinson could all have breakout years. Even if one of these guys separates himself from the pack, we'd be in great shape.

Put it simply...the best friend of a young QB is a receiver that can make big plays. The other best friend of a young QB is a big TE that can catch. We have that too with Kevin Koger and Martell Webb. Our receivers are fast, can make plays and will be able to assist the running game by blocking downfield. The last position on the field that I am concerned about is this one. Like I said, this bunch of talent is simply too good to not have a good season.

Media Day with Michigan Center David Molk

As I made the rounds snapping photo after photo, listening in as the mainstream media members interviewed Denard, Tate, Devin, etc...I happened to have the chance to catch Michigan center David Molk in between his photo ops and ask a few questions. Unbeknown to me the folks from mgovideo happended to be videotaping it. Here's what he had to say...

Q. How does the knee feel?
A. Great. No problems.

Q. Could you give a percentage?
A. 100%

Q. You've been called one of the leaders of this team. Do you feel like you're one of the leaders of this team?
A.  I think my position warrants it. Being the center, you control the line. And also because our backfield is young, yeah, I consider myself a leader along with the seniors on the line and the quarterback.

Q. What's your assessment of the offense compared to the last couple years coming through fall camp?
A. We're doing really well actually. Everything is kind of gelling...the O-line is feeling really good, the receivers are doing well, and the quarterback play is great.

Q. Does it feel easier this year in terms of how everyone understands the offense and what the coaches are trying to do?
A. Yeah I'd say that's fair. The more experience you have the easier it is to see read defenses and stuff like that. Every year it gets slower.

Q. How excited are you to get back on the field after sitting out the last few games of 2009?
A. I can't wait. The reason I like football is that I like to hit people. I hate everything else. I like to hit people really f___ing hard (laughs), and I haven't been able to do that for a really long time.

Q. How do you feel about hitting guys like Mike Martin, does that make you a better player lining up accross from guys like that?
A. There's no other player I'd like to go against than Mike. I know he's one of the top noses in the country, and every day I go against him, I know I'm going against the best.

Q. Any big difference between Mike Martin and Will Campbell?
A. Even though they play the same position, they play it different ways. Will will use his size more than Mike does. Will being 320-325, he'll use his weight more. While Mike will use his speed and strength more. They're both good.

Q. Playing the center position, you obviously have a special relationship with the QBs. How do you feel about the QBs this year?
A. Love all 3. I don't care who's back there, we can win with them all.

Q. How do you think Tate's responded to some of the criticism about his conditioning and the comments made by Troy Woolfolk?
A. He's done pretty well. He's really had his head in the game, he's prepared well, he's practiced well...he's got his wings back and I think he's going to be ready to go.

And also, Greg from MVictors happen to snap this photo of Mike giving me the "don't mess with me look".

Media Day Photos

Had the great pleasure of attending Michigan's media day event today at Schembechler Hall and at the Big House. Took a ton of photos, as you would expect. Also took some video of Rodriguez's comments to the media this morning which we will post a little later.

One topic worth noting...freshman RB Austin White is no longer with the Michigan football team. White enrolled early in January, and played some in the spring game. No real reason given for his departure, but it's safe to say that he's done at Michigan. This is the 4th member of the 2010 freshman class that will not make it on the fall roster.

One of the really nice things about the morning presser...every question was football related. None of this NCAA investigation nonsense. So refreshing.

Okay, enough news...on to the photos. Click on the photo for a larger version.

Brock Mealer (brother of OL Elliot Mealer) talks to the media about his upcoming Big House debut. Brock will lead the team out of the tunnel onto the field on Sept. 4th.

Breakfast with the coach. The Michigan media asks coach Rod some questions.

As usual, Rodriguez was all business today.

No pressure.

This photo hangs in the commons room inside Schembechler Hall. There was no way I wasn't going to snap a photo of it.


The training room inside Schembechler.

Doors that lead to the Schembechler Hall locker room.

The block M at midfield inside the Glick Field House.

A little decorating inside the Glick Field House...national title banners.

Bowl banners on the east side.

Big Ten title banners on the west side.

A little peak into the Michigan weight room.

The 2010 offensive linemen with their coach Greg Frey...the backbone of the offense.

The QBs (Denard and Devin) spend some time with their best friends!

Tate, Devin and Denard pose for the cameras.

"Shoelace" enjoys some time in the media spotlight.

Devin Gardner takes some questions.

As usual, Tate Forcier was a media favorite.

The new FieldTurf block M at midfield of the Big House.

Much like the field it replaced, the design of the new FieldTurf is the same as the old field, but looks much more vibrant and colorful. It should look great on TV in less than two weeks.

This was tough to watch...injured senior CB Troy Woolfolk being carried up the stands for the team photo.

The 2010 team photo.

Rodriguez flanked by seniors Perry Dorrestein and Stephen Schilling.

Believe it or not, Troy Woolfolk was able to crack a smile or two...can't wait for this kid to get healthy. It was clear to me today that he's still a definite leader on this team.

The Wolverines are off to greet some fans for fan day.

Splitsville: Michigan and Ohio State

Michigan and Ohio State fans, please return your seat backs to their full, upright and locked position.

Seems as if the powers-that-be have been working diligently to put and end the traditional season finale between Michigan, and that school from mid-Ohio. Thus, ending one of the greatest rivalry traditions in all of college football. Well, maybe not purposefully ending it, but drastically changing it by splitting Michigan and Ohio State into two separate Big Ten divisions come 2011.

Greg from MVictors has the bullet points from Michigan AD Dave Brandon's morning chat with Sam and Ira on WTKA today. You can download an MP3 of the audio here.
  • When asked if he were making the decision, would he put Michigan and Ohio State in the same conference division?  Brandon paused then answered. "No."
  • Sam asked, "Why?"  Brandon:  "Because we’re in a situation where one of the best things that could happen, in my opinion in a given season, would be the opportunity to play Ohio State twice.  Once in the regular season and once for the championship of the Big Ten.
  • Sam asked about whether they would hold the tradition to keep that the last game of the season.   Brandon:  "I think there’s a distinct possibility that that game will be a later game in the season, but not necessarily the last game of the season.  And that’s simply because…I don’t think the coaches, or the players, or the fans, or the networks or anyone, would appreciate that match-up to happen twice within the same seven day period.  So, however the divisional alignments occur, and I think we’re getting closer and closer, and I don’t get to make the decision but I get 1/12th of the vote…"
  • Further. Brandon: "What you’re really going to want is that last game of the regular season to really determine, often times, the championship—who’s going to be the champion of that division and go to the championship game and play for all the marbles.  So from a scheduling/timing perspective it’s a new ballgame and although I love playing Ohio State in the last game of the year, I don’t think it’s necessarily a slam dunk that that’s going to continue." 
I gotta say, I feel a little sad that we won't be ending the year with tOSU. However, based on 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009...I'm a little hesitant to want to play these yokels twice in one season.

Its not just Brandon spouting this either, tOSU AD Gene Smith has been preparing his fanbase for impact as well [Dispatch Story]...
"I know one thing for sure -- that we're going to play [Michigan] every year," Smith said. "We may end up playing the last game of the year, or not. I just don't know that yet."

Smith said his one unshakable objective at the start of the realignment discussion was to assure that Ohio State and Michigan would play every year. There is no danger of that being threatened. Beyond that, Smith said it's wise to let the process play out, step by step, without trying to insist on further requirements.
What Smith is alluding to here is a yearly matchup in the regular season definitely happening via a protected crossover game between these two conference powerhouses. This will likely be the case for other conference rivals not in the same divisions.

ESPN's Adam Rittenberg lists some pros to a potential UM-OSU split...
There are some obvious pros to splitting Ohio State and Michigan into two divisions.
  • Penn State could be paired with Ohio State or Michigan instead of Nebraska to keep a 2-2 split with the league's four biggest brands, which I believe is imperative no matter what the Big Ten decides.
  • There could be more of a geographical division split, which many fans seem to want. Michigan and Michigan State could go "West" and be in the same division with Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota.
  • An Ohio State-Michigan clash in the Big Ten championship would be huge, regardless of what happened in the first meeting.
The big negatives relate to tradition and the importance of the first game. Will it mean as much in mid October as it does in late November? Also, splitting Ohio State and Michigan could actually decrease the number of blockbuster games that could be enhanced through protected crossovers. 
I'm not going to go all traditionalist and claim this is the end of "The Game" as we know it, but it certainly paints it in a very different light if we're playing Ohio State in early October rather than late November. This idea of a splitting UM and tOSU up hasn't really had time to marinate with me yet.

But it seems pretty clear so far, based on the comments from the AD's is that this is going to happen, and there's not much we can do about it...except brace for impact.

Wings 2: Dawn - Rise of the New Beginning

To make a much bigger story out of something than what it already is, Tate Forcier, along with his fellow slacker buddies on the football team earned back their wings yesterday. This is according to Rich Rodriguez who addressed this in yesterday's presser.

Said he needed to see some consistent play from Tate before restoring the wings to the plain blue helmets that he and other players were wearing from the start of practice.
"We wanted to see some consistency a few days in a row," Rodriguez said. "Those guys did."
I don't know about you, but I'll sleep better tonight.

Michigan's Offensive Line Looking Strong

Michigan freshman LT Taylor Lewan
We've been getting some comments that this blog should be more positive. With all the negative news circulating around the program lately, we couldn't agree more. So here's some good news that I read this morning via ESPN's Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg.

We did our preview of the OL last week. In it, we walked through each position and which players would, and should step up this season. I believed then, and believe now that the OL is probably the strongest position we have this year. The 2010 OL is shaping up to be the most experienced and deep OL unit Michigan has seen in many many years.

Rittenberg agrees, and ranks Michigan's OL 3rd in the Big Ten...
3. Michigan: The Wolverines boast one of the Big Ten's best interior line tandems in guard Stephen Schilling and center David Molk, who returns from an ACL injury. When Molk was healthy in 2009, Michigan consistently moved the football. His return is a major boost. The Wolverines need to solidify the tackle spots but have experienced options in Perry Dorrestein and Mark Huyge. Michigan's offensive line recruiting also should pay off as redshirt freshmen like Taylor Lewan solidify the depth. 
The top 5 is Wiscy, tOSU, Meeechigan, Penn State and Northwestern. This marks the first time a UM position unit has made the top 5 of Adam's pre-season rankings. We didn't make the top 5 of any of the defensive positions...obviously, but it's good to see that the OL is getting some much deserved love.

Like, OMG...I Tweet Something and People Go, Like, Crazy and Stuff

We posted last night about the rumor that Tate Forcier had requested a transfer from UM. This information was reported via Twitter by Melanie Collins (the Big Ten Network's answer to Erin Andrews).

Proof? Proof.
My mistake on letting you all in on something I was told today. I did not "report" or "confirm" this information. Simply shared what
The message seems cut off, illustrating that either she was nailed through the window by a sharp-shooter mid-tweet...or that she doesn't really get how this whole internet thingy works. And yes, she did "report" it, but did not "confirm" it.

Then she tweeted this...
A source within UM told me and I shouldn't have tweeted it without confirmation. Wasn't trying to start an uproar.
Really? Wasn't trying to start an uproar? You work for the Big Ten Network...which is owned by the Big Ten Conference. You are a TV personality and you have a Twitter account followed by over 5,000 people. You post that Michigan's starting QB is transferring without any proof or confirmation and your totally shocked by the uproar??? 

Do a Google image search for "Melanie Collins"...just make sure your kids aren't in the room. 

My apologies to you, MBN reader, for allowing this rumor to filtrate onto the blog. In all fairness, we didn't post about the possibility of a transfer, but rather just a post about the rumor. All signs pointed, and still point to the fact that Forcier is safe and sound in Ann Arbor. We surely hope that this doesn't change.

Forcier to Transfer?

Twitter is alive and buzzing with the rumor that Tate Forcier has requested a transfer from UM earlier today. Big Ten Network reporter hottie Melanie Collins tweeted this, and then erased it [via mgoblog]:
Very reliable source telling me Tate Forcier requested a transfer from #Michigan this AM. NOT yet confirmed, will update as I know more.
Then about a half hour ago, tweeted this:
Wow really struck a nerve w/ ppl. Like I said, NOT confirmed. We'll see what plays out.
Mike Forcier, Tate's dad, laughed at the rumors and denies it. Says he wouldn't support Tate transferring, but also admits he hasn't spoken with Tate about it either. We here at MBN know very little other than Calvin Magee didn't seem like he knew of any such transfer this morning when he met with reporters. Said that Tate was doing well, but dodged the question about whether he has earned his wings back.
"Tate's been competing, playing, doing well." They all understand what's at stake for the team. All-in for the team. Does Tate have his wings back? "It's not for me to tell you that."
Like I said, info is all sketchy at this point. When we know more, we will update.

A Sobering Look at Michigan's Secondary

The loss of Troy Woolfolk hurts. But it's certainly not the first blow to Michigan's defensive backfield. Let's just take a look back at the revolving door of Michigan secondary defenders over this past year.

• Boubacar Cissoko, who began the 2009 season at starting CB (and showed multiple times why he wasn't the best option for that role) is kicked off the team midway through the year for violating team rules and is now in jail.

• Donovan Warren, Michigan's most talented CB over the last 3 seasons declares eligible for the NFL draft after his junior year.

• Michigan's #1 recruit for 2010 Demar Dorsey is ruled academically ineligible and refused entrance into UM.

• The top recruit in Ohio in 2009, JT Turner is granted a transfer after an off-season of not working out and preparing for a potential starting role in 2010.

• Recruit Adrian Witty never materialized due to academic issues.

So the latest blow to Michigan's defense, the leg injury to Troy Woolfolk, which we now know is a broken fibula and dislocated right ankle, is going to effect the depth of an already young and inexperienced secondary, but it's not going to determine or drastically influence the outcome of the season. I will go on record in saying that the loss of Woolfolk's leadership on this defense is going to be a factor in the success of failures of the unit this fall.

The good news is, it looks like Woolfolk is going to be able to red-shirt this year. He never used his red-shirt when he got to Michigan.

So if we take Woolfolk out of the equation, our cornerback position looks like this...

Starting or revolving at CB would be JT Floyd on one side and probably freshman Courtney Avery and Cullen Christian, Teric Jones, converted WR James Rogers and maybe walk-on Tony Anderson. Teric Jones played mostly at safety, but could move over to CB due to the sudden need.

Safety is looking a bit more stable, but not that much. The Gordon brothers, Cameron and Thomas have looked good. Former walk-on Jordan Kovacs has emerged as the sudden leader of this position...which is scary. Michael Williams has moved from safety to the "spur" position, and Thomas Gordon also spent some time there in the spring game.

One of the big bright spots for Michigan's secondary is Vladimir Emilien. He looked really good in the spring game and could easily move himself up the depth chart quickly before the UCONN game. Also in the mix at safety, and maybe elsewhere is Marvin Robinson. He showed very good ability in the spring.

Also noteworthy are Mike Jones and Brandin Hawthorne, who will could split time at spur and safety.

Easily...without and doubt, the biggest vulnerability on our defense has been the secondary. And now with the sudden loss of Troy Woolfolk, we're going to be relying on inexperienced backups and true freshmen.

No question, if you're going to have youth on your team, it's best to have it at the corners where youth can be mitigated by better coverage packages and solid linebacker/safety play. But this is going to be the focus for any team looking to put up points quickly against us. They will attack the corners early and often. It's going to be tough to watch at times. But hopefully our young players can step up. We have 16 days to figure it out.

Troy Woolfolk Suffers Ankle Injury, Maybe Out For Season

Senior CB Troy Woolfolk suffered a lower body injury during today's practice. We here at MBN hear it's a dislocated ankle. In which case, so long 2010. 

This message via UM media relations...
"Troy Woolfolk suffered a lower body injury during practice this afternoon and was transported to U-M Hospital with our team physician. We can't comment further due to medical privacy rights."
We're efforting better info, but this all we know for now. More news at 11.

#1 Jersey Semi-Retired?

In yesterday's presser, Rodriguez was asked if any W..R's this season would be considered for the illustrious, and sometimes controversial #1 jersey. [Update, the one who asked the question is none other than friend of MBN and fellow Michigan blogger Greg from MVictors. Nice job Greg!]
"You know we haven’t discussed the #1 jersey in about, I guess, almost two years now.  I think the last time that was brought up was probably the last time it was discussed.   It’s not retired but I guess it’s semi-retired at the moment." 
The last time he discussed the #1 jersey is when Braylon Edwards called him up to give him an earful for awarding the #1 to a player not deserving of the number before the 2008 season. If you recall, Edwards backs a scholarship for any player that wears the #1 uniform...somehow this gives him say on who gets to wear it.

I really have no idea how the #1 jersey works. Obviously at Michigan, its a number exclusive to wide receivers. And not just any receivers...receivers worthy of being considered the best receivers in Michigan history. It seemingly began with Anthony Carter in the late 70s. Notable players whom have worn the #1 jersey: Braylon Edwards, David Terrell, Derrick Alexander, Anthony Carter.

And of course, a video highlight package courtesy of Wolverine Historian:

I personally think that Rodriguez doesn't spend too much time thinking about the #1 uniform. Clearly, it represents a part of the old guard at Michigan, a part that isn't very happy with him being the head coach. I wouldn't be surprised if Rodriguez spent the rest of his career at Michigan without ever awarding the #1 jersey to a player...just too get back at Edward's for his "Lloyd Carr's Michigan" comment when he was introduced on Monday Night Football.

Whatever the case, I personally feel that none of the WRs on our current roster are deserving of the #1 jersey...yet.

Michigan Players Must Earn Their Wings

This is a story that has been getting a ton of traction around the Michigan bloggosphere and now starting to filter out to more traditional media outlets. We would have jumped on this sooner, but a recent trip out of town has kept me from my usual blogging schedule.

We all remember last week when Rodriguez mentioned during his presser after the opening practice that a small handful of Michigan players were not as conditioned as they should have been coming into fall camp. This comment sent many of us bloggers scrambling to figure out what exactly Rodriguez was talking about, and more importantly, who he was referring to.

As the fall camp has played out, it has become apparent that a few Wolverines have been singled out for not being "All In". Of course Justin Turner has been the only causality so far, but a few others are not rubbing the coaches the right way. The most notable player on this list is Tate Forcier.

Last week when the Big Ten Network was in town to do a broadcast from Michigan's camp, a few players had something very noticeable missing from their practice uniforms...their helmets were plain blue...missing the famous maize wings and stripes.

This photo popped last week on The Big Ten Network's website of Tate holding his plain blue helmet:

Draw one of many conclusions from this photo, I know you will. But just know that Tate wasn't the only player with a blue-only helmet. However, this may have been a stunt by Rodriguez to draw some attention to Forcier and hopefully light a fire under the sophomore QB. He was only photographed with the wing-less headgear during Big Ten Network day...and has been seen with the wings back on his helmet before and since. Rodriguez had this to say about wing-gate...
"There's usually more involved than, 'Is a guy out of shape?'" Rodriguez said. "It's more, 'Has he earned the wings?' Certainly we want everybody that runs down that tunnel on September 4 be wearing a winged helmet. In order to be running down that tunnel, you've got to appreciate that privilege that you have to play here, and I think all of them will. But if they don't, they won't wear the helmet."
What Rodriguez is trying to do here is use this as motivation. I can easily see Bo or Lloyd doing the same thing. And frankly, when it comes to Forcier...this can only help him. Clearly there's something going on with him and his lack of motivation. For a guy like him to be considered a 3rd string QB coming out of fall camp, there's something not right going on. It's not that Denard is not a viable option...clearly he's made huge strides this off-season, strides that Rodriguez had hoped Forcier would make as well...and obviously did not.

Dave Brandon's Comments on NCAA Hearing

If you're a honest-to-goodness Michigan fan, and  judging by the fact that you're reading this here on a Saturday night, you are...then you probably know by now that today's NCAA hearing in Seattle was a huge media frenzy...I mean just check out the picture posted by The Detroit News' Angelique Chengelis via Twitter...

So yeah.

Regardless of what this picture doesn't reveal, there was a hearing today behind one of these closed doors. The hearing lasted a tad longer than those media in attendance thought it would...thus the picture above...but Michigan AD Dave Brandon did have this to say about the hearing [via UM Media Relations]:
We feel that the committee gave us a full and fair hearing today. Our statements today were similar to those we provided the NCAA earlier this summer: We own the mistakes we have made, we fixed some process and communication problems that caused them, and we’re keeping a close eye on this so it doesn’t happen again.
I’m proud of the extra effort everyone has been putting into compliance these past several months. Rich and his staff – in coordination with the compliance group – have been working together to keep us on the right track.
We will await the committee’s decision and we will not speculate about the outcome – we must let the process play out. We won’t comment further on this matter until after we receive the committee’s decision.
We’re going to get back to Michigan now for the start of what we expect will be a great football season.
So, until more time passes, this is all we will know.

Outgoing: Justin Turner

Just dropped on mgoblog, red-shirt freshman CB Justin Turner has requested, and been granted a transfer from UM.

From what it sounds like, JT never really materialized into the CB he was billed to be. It was suspicious that he didn't burn his red-shirt last year when we desperately needed a CB with Cissoko's departure. And it seemed even more suspicious when he failed to workout this summer with the team.

How does this impact us? Terribly. We're already young a vulnerable in the secondary. Losing the equivalent of a 5 star recruit with him ever taking a college snap puts him in Brian Bosworth territory in terms of hype vs. results.

If you're within reach of a panic button, hit it.

Hear Ye! College Football Pick'em League!

As we all know, you don't need to be an expert to pick college football games...

So in that spirit, we're starting out very own Maize & Blue Nation college pick'em league on!

It's going to be a private group, so you'll need the group ID and password below.

How it works is pretty simple, just pick 10 games a week (ESPN picks which games), rank each game in terms of confidence (1-10), and submit your entry before the weekend's games begin.

Simple enough, right? So who's with me?

Click here to join the league.

In the search box, type: "Maize Blue Nation"
Group ID: Maize Blue Nation
Password: hardedge

Hopefully this will be a fun way to keep folks interested throughout the season. We'll post an updated leader-board here on the blog each week. We'll see what we can do to maybe get a prize for the winner...something to make it interesting.

Good luck and Go Blue!