Maize & Blue Mailbag: Helmet Numbers

Treezy rocking the #12 stickers.
 Time to open up the old email-bag. Received this one the other day.
Hi Brad,
I'm wonder whether you know the story with the helmet numbers?  Are those there to stay for the time being?  I assume they are given that they were back on the helmets this spring.  Personally, I think they make the helmets look way too busy.  Plus, the Michigan helmet is so classic without those numbers.  It seems to me that adding numbers is just unnecessarily tinkering with a great look.  For whatever reason, it wouldn't bother me as much if they went back to the sticker look they used to sport (I think because that doesn't fundamentally alter the helmet).

Obviously there's not much to complain about as far as Brady Hoke goes.  But this particular change is one I'm not thrilled about.  And I assume I'm by no means the only fan who feels that way.  So anyway, if you have the inside scoop on what the future holds for the helmet numbers, I'd be interested to know.
It would seem as if the use of the numbered helmet stickers least season created quite a stir among the Maize & Blue faithful. Love em or hate em, you rarely hear of anyone who doesn't have a pretty strong feeling either way. Let's face it, the Michigan helmet is timeless in it's design. Many college helmets are. When the stickers found their way into the helmets for the Legacy jerseys against the Irish, pretty much everyone was willing to give them a pass for obvious reasons.

So when the stickers showed up on the helmets again three weeks later against Minnesota, with the rest of the traditional home unis intact, that was interesting. Brady Hoke addressed it in the post-game presser.
“That was my decision, and we will have those numbers on there throughout the rest of the season when we get into Big Ten play because we want to honor the guys who wore those numbers before, and the 42 championship teams. And the guys who have represented Michigan. It’s important to us.”
So. There you go. I suspect we're not going to be honoring everyone who's represented Michigan in the same fashion this year as well, so I expect the stickers will be eighty-sixed come September 1st. I also think the spring game is basically just a carry-over from 2011 in terms of equipment/helmets/jerseys used, so no real alarms there.

But the reason they were brought back midway through last season was because the players really liked them.

This is the part of the post where I could stray way off into a whole long-winded point about how us old farts hate when classic college football uniforms are tinkered and messed with (shaking our fists at the television). But the simple reality is, players really don't care so much about the history and tradition of the uniforms. Yes, there is a measured difference between Michigan and, say, TCU when it comes to the look, style and feel of the program (or as @DaveBrandonAD would call it, branding), but it also needs to balance with the desire of the players to want to feel relevant in this Oregon-style counter-culture that has emerged.

The legacy throwbacks worn for the Notre Dame game and the Michigan State game last year were not what anyone would call attractive. But, I think to the players they were different, and fun. And from that standpoint, I have no issues with it. As long as it doesn't become the norm, I'm all for these random awkward attempts at keeping up with the Jones', so-to-speak. The Legacy jerseys worn for ND were a mild success by most accounts. And the away versions worn in East Lansing were a giant swing and a miss. Hopefully lessons were learned from that one.

2012 B1G Primetime TV Schedule Released

You will not be seeing this in 2012.
The 2012 B1G primetime TV schedule has been released for general consumption [ESPN]. And consume we will. From the Michigan perspective, pretty much what we expected. No home night games this year, and the Nebraska road contest will kickoff in primetime. Also, the Purdue game on Oct. 6th will kickoff at 4PM, so not exactly "primetime" but late-afternoon.

There was some glimmer of a chance that the Michigan-Michigan State game on October 20th could end up being a night game, but the prospect of the much needed added security for that event was enough to keep it from happening. No surprise there.

2012 Michigan schedule/results lives here.

Anyway, here's the full B1G primetime slate.

Aug. 31
Boise State at Michigan State, 8 p.m., ESPN

Sept. 1
Indiana State at Indiana, 8 p.m., Big Ten Network

Sept. 8
Vanderbilt at Northwestern, 8 p.m., BTN

Sept. 15

Notre Dame at Michigan State, 8 p.m., ABC
Utah State at Wisconsin, 8 p.m., BTN
Ball State at Indiana, 8 p.m., BTN

Sept. 22
Syracuse at Minnesota, 8 p.m., BTN
Louisiana Tech at Illinois, 8 p.m., BTN

Sept. 29
Wisconsin at Nebraska, 8 p.m., ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2

Oct. 6
Nebraska at Ohio State, 8 p.m., ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2

Oct. 13
Ohio State at Indiana, 8 p.m., BTN

Oct. 20
Penn State at Iowa, 8 p.m., BTN

Oct. 27
Ohio State at Penn State, 6 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2
Michigan at Nebraska, 8 p.m., ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2

Michigan specific info via UM press release.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- In addition to the previously announced primetime games against Alabama and Notre Dame, the University of Michigan football team announced Tuesday (April 24) in conjunction with the Big Ten Conference and its television partners the selection of two other late afternoon or primetime contests during the league slate.

Michigan will play four of its six road games in late broadcast slots. Three contests will be played in primetime and the other will kick off in the late afternoon window.

U-M will travel to West Lafayette, Ind., for a nationally televised game with Purdue starting at 4 p.m. EDT. The Oct. 6 game against the Boilermakers will be broadcast by the Big Ten Network.

The Wolverines will make their initial trip to Lincoln, Neb., on Oct. 27. The game against the Cornhuskers will be shown in primetime on one of the ESPN platforms. The TV network for the 8 p.m. EDT kickoff will be selected at a later date. The only previous match-up with Nebraska at night came in the 2005 Alamo Bowl, a 32-28 victory by the Cornhuskers at the Alamodome on Dec. 28.

Michigan has compiled a 25-12 overall record in night games starting after 5 p.m. local time. The Wolverines posted a 3-0 record last season, defeating Notre Dame in the first-ever night game in Michigan Stadium history, winning at Northwestern, and posting an overtime victory against Virginia Tech in the 2012 Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Bama Shatters 2011 BCS Coaches Trophy


A sign of things to come?

21 is the New 1

AC, doin' his thing.
The #1 jersey at Michigan has become something of an enigma the last few years. It exists, but it also doesn't.

My Tweet from Saturday's post-game presser illustrates what has begun yet another discussion of who could/should wear the #1 jersey.

The Braylon Edwards Foundation endows a $500,000 scholarship fund for the wide receiver who wears numero uno at Michigan. And don't get me wrong, I think that's great that he's giving back. Braylon has always been quite charitable since going pro. The problem is, because of Edwards' scholarship, he now represents that number, and has seemingly complete control over who gets it.

The whole mess pretty much began when Rich Rod gave the number, unknowingly of said protocol, to a defensive back in his first spring on the job in 08. When word of this got back to Braylon, he was none too pleased. Thus began a tiff between Edwards and Rich Rod – which then just added fuel to the fire between Rich Rod and the Michigan Football establishment.

You can see where this is going.

So, Rich just put the #1 jersey discussion aside and moved on – in an attempt to diffuse the situation. But what it did was create even more intrigue about the #1 jersey, at least in the media. But Rich was never going to give in and hand out that number. So when Brady Hoke arrived, discussion of the number was seemingly back on. But then something interesting happened.

The athletic department began a new way of honoring former Michigan greats. The "Michigan Legend" patch worn on the player's jersey of the number of that Legend. The first player honored, fittingly so, was Desmond Howard, #21...who just happened to be a receiver.

It would seem as if the highest honor achievable by a receiver at Michigan is no longer to wear #1, but rather #21. Was this by design? I don't think so, but it seems to be working out that way. Greg at MVictors thinks Roy Roundtree wear #21 this year, and so do we. Here's why.
• Yes, Rich Rod is gone but still, I don’t think the athletic department is crazy about Braylon’s comments about the #1 jersey over the past few years and how it’s played out in the media.

• They just started the Legends tradition and made a big deal about it in honoring Desmond last season.  They will want to keep it rolling to keep it fresh in everyone’s mind.

• I’m guessing the athletic department has it on the timeline to honor AC (and maybe Braylon) with the Legends distinction at some point down the road.

• Everybody loves Treezy.
Couldn't agree more with that last one.

It would seem to me that the best way to keep the Legends honor rolling is to keep a receiver in the #21 jersey. Don't let more than a year or so pass without a 21 on the roster. That's what happened with the #1 jersey. Too much time has passed, and now it's turned into this huge thing.

But when Brady Hoke was asked on Saturday about the #1 by Frank Beckmann and said "We'll consider it.", but also noted that all 115 guys are possibilities – that added yet another interesting bit to this drama. Is the #1 jersey up for grabs by any position? Could a QB wear it? Denard?

The saga continues.

Spring Game Video, Inside Michigan Football

Couple videos to share with you this morning. First, the spring game in it's entirety.

And, last night's Inside Michigan Football, complete with throwback opening music.

So the Spring Game Happened

To view all of my photos from Saturday, click here.
It was short, it was kinda sweet. All in all it was exactly what a typical Michigan spring game is. There were quite a few things to take notice of, so let's jump into some bullets.

• The interior of the DL was called out by Brady Hoke at the presser following the scrimmage...says we're still too soft there. And while its tough to gauge such things on television or from the press box, I'd say I'm not surprised given the departure of Mike Martin and RVB. But Coach Mattison did mention that the move of Jibreel Black (to the 3-technique) and Craig Roh to the strong-side end have been great moves this off-season.

A lot of attention was paid Saturday to Will Campbell, and from what I saw and what I heard, he's really beginning to step up at the nose. He saw a lot of time on the field Saturday with both the first and second strings. And given how high coach Mattison is on him, I'd say by September 1st, he should be good to go.

Elsewhere along the DL, there was quite a bit of personnel shuffling in and out. Greg Mattison's comments from the presser regarding the WDEs, Beyer and Clark [via MGoBlog]:
“No, they haven’t separated themselves. Beyer is a very strong football player and can run. What Beyer has to work on a great deal is he gets a habit of getting high. He’s got to stay lower. Then he’s going to be a real force I think. Frank, on the other hand, wants to run to make plays before he beats the block at times. He needs to take some of what Beyer does and Beyer needs to take some of what he does. Both of them, I have been very pleased with the two of them and how hard they’ve worked and how hard they’ve tried to improve on what we say they need to improve on.”
Keith Heitzman had a big day. It may just be one of those things when a guy just has a really good day, but it is encouraging to see. Mattison was high on him, but noted that he does need to get a lot stronger and work on his technique.

• Staying with the defense, I thought LBs looked about as good as they have in a spring game in a long time. Some of that is just having better athletes at these positions, but the real benefit is having these guys being in the same defense for a second year in a row...a first for most of them.

That defense last year was all new to those guys. You can’t play defense unless you know what the problem possibly is, so you can play faster. Any time you know the defense well you play faster, and I noticed that this spring.”
I think we really saw this with guys like Demens, who's competing with Bolden for the MLB spot, but will likely be shifted to the WILL before too long. He, Ryan, Morgan (before he got hurt, hamstring I heard). Brandin Hawthorne is in the mix, but needs to be better consistently.

• I'll mention the DBs, but I don't really think we have a lot to discuss right now. Countess had a nice day with an INT, capped off a very good spring for him. Kovacs is...Kovacs. He, Campbell and Demens are the senior leaders of this defense.

I think Marvin Robinson had a really nice day. Overall not too concerned about this group. Mattison never mentioned anyone in the presser other than Blake. He did mention that they need to improve as a group at getting better with blitzing...getting more pressure on the QB.

Okay, now the offense.

• Devin Garnder is just not good at spring games. That's all there is to it. For some reason, he regresses terribly in front of a spring crowd. He saw a lot of snaps on Saturday, and I would say he left everyone with a pretty bad taste in their mouth. He paled in comparison to sophomore Russell Bellomy, who also saw a lot of time at QB. Russell showed he knows this offense pretty well and he will keep Garnder on his toes for the #2 spot.

Brady Hoke said in the presser that Devin is still the backup for Denard, but I have to think it's gotta be a little bit closer after Saturday. I think Devin keeps his spot because he still does have a pretty good arm, and in normal game scenarios he plays pretty well. He has experience and better overall athletic ability – ability that is closer to Denard than Bellomy has. So if Denard goes down, I don't think the playbook changes that much if Devin comes in as opposed to Bellomy. But that's just my $0.02.

Gorgeous Borges, who spent the day in the booth, on the backup QBs:
“Yeah I think Devin in particular has had an outstanding spring. He’s really done some very nice things and has developed in the position more and more. Needs more time in situations like this where there’s a lot of people watching and the pressure’s on and all that, but he has really done a nice job. And Russ -- I said it last week and the week before -- Russ has been steady and solid and guys get open he hits them. He makes very few mistakes. He’s just one of those kinds of guys. He too is very athletic and can get himself out of some messes. He’s a solid guy. We have three quarterbacks who I think … I’m not sure when their major contributions are going to come -- two of them, anyway -- but I think there will be a point in time when they’ll make a major contribution. I’m happy with the position.”
So, basically, it's all about developing the experience. 

• We have a nice stable of running backs, and leading the way is, of course, Fitz. He had a nice day, and a nice spring as a whole. Rawls impressed as well. Shows that he can hit the hole hard and doesn't mind some contact. Made a few guys miss too.

I think Vincent Smith, who Hoke said is pound-for-pound the strongest guy on the team, is still going to be a major part of this offense in many ways. I think catching the ball out of the backfield could be one of his biggest strengths.

• The OL coming together. Borges is really happy with Barnum at center, and so am I. Let's face it, no one is going to replace David Molk. But if we can get a guy in there who is smart enough to understand the offense and be a leader, as well as a good blocker, than I think we're going to just fine with Barnum.

No issues at tackles with Lewan and Schofield.

Surprising me was Burzynski starting, although he's really not starting. But he's pushing guys, which is good because we need some depth on the OL. Mealer was lining up at RT for the second string.

• Receivers were pretty much absent from this game. They didn't get a lot of throws their way so there's not much to talk about. Gallon has some nice grabs. I think Roundtree caught a couple slants. All in all, I think this group is fine, Jerald Robinson was a little banged up but it's nothing serious. He could be a real standout this year, I have a feeling. Dileo and Jackson looked pretty good out there at the slot. More depth would be nice, but it's still just spring and a lot of young talent is still yet to arrive on campus for next year.

I think a lot of things change when that happens this summer at a lot of positions.

• Finally, TEs were pretty rough on Saturday. Moore saw most of the time with the starters, but like the receivers, didn't get much attention. This position is still very much up in the air.

Spring Game Photos

Spring Game Photos

More stuff to post in the coming days, including some reaction about winners and losers from what we saw today. But for now, enjoy some photos! #GoBlue

Elsewhere photos: MVictors,

Brady Hoke Presser 4/12, BTN Interview [Video]


Brady Hoke discusses spring ball with Dave Revsine from the Big Ten Network (4/10). I gotta give props to both Revsine for asking the Devin Gardner question (especially the way he asked it) and to Hoke for giving a straight up answer.

Hit up MGoVideo for videos re: Mattison, Roundtree and Barnum.

Spring Practice Video 4/10, Social Media Stuff

More practice highlights. This time, set to a face-melting guitar solo.

I'm not going to break down this as much as the other videos we've seen out of spring practice this year. Mainly because this is all field-level camera angles and it's too difficult to really gauge what's going on. Denard throws the ball, a receiver catches it. Denard get the ball knocked out of his hand...because he carries it like a loaf of bread...and then picks it up and runs for a million points.

I will say that the more I see Denard and Devin throwing back-to-back in these highlight videos, the more I think Devin has the far superior arm. I mean like it's not even close. Denard can get the ball to it's target...or close enough to it...most of the time. But Devin slings the ball around like he means it, and the passes all seem to be spot on.

Just a random observation. We'll see much more this Saturday.

Speaking of this Saturday...via UM media relations...
And boom goes the dynamite.
Michigan to Paint #GOBLUE Hashtag on the Field for Spring Game and Battle at the Big House
ANN ARBOR – The University of Michigan Athletic Department will paint the FieldTurf at Michigan Stadium with the hash tag, #GOBLUE, for the upcoming Mott Spring Game presented by PNC Bank. The Wolverines will use the opportunity to generate exposure inside the stadium, on the nationally-televised broadcast and most importantly in the social media world.

The annual spring football scrimmage and the “Battle at the Big House” men’s lacrosse game against Ohio State will be held on Saturday, April 14, at Michigan Stadium. The Victors Classic Alumni Flag football game begins at 10 a.m., followed by the annual spring football scrimmage at noon. The lacrosse game is tentatively slated to start at 2:30 p.m.

The hashtag “#GOBLUE” will be painted maize at two locations. The hashtag will straddle the 25-yard line on the northeast and southwest sides of the field.
Hit the link above for all the gooey details. Not sure exactly how this is going to go over, but it seems like it's a spring game only thing – which is fine I suppose.

Incoming: Ben Gedeon

The 2013 recruiting board is undergoing some slight modification, so please bear with me. We're adding more detailed ratings from the recruiting sites and links to each players' "Incoming:" post. It's being updated, but it's obviously a work in progress.

Ben Gedeon
Image source: ESPN
Scout: ★★★★, #13 OLB, #159 Ovr
Rivals: ★★★★, #8 OLB, #224 Ovr
24/7: ★★★★, 90, #21 Ath, #255 Ovr

Ben Gedeon marks the 17th overall commit to the 2013 class, and the 8th to hail from the state of Ohio. He was a first-team all-Ohio LB in his junior year with 120 tackles. He also ran the ball for 1,400 yards and 27 there's that too. He's pretty much a consensus 4-star recruit according to the rating gurus. Ben's commitment was not much of a shock, considering...
"It’s awesome! I’ve kind of known throughout my whole recruitment that Michigan has been my #1 school. To finally get the commitment out of the way and saying I’m going to be a Michigan Man is just awesome."
He's right, it is awesome.

What's even more awesome is his upside, which tends to be his natural ability to play pretty much all over the field. Guys like that tend to be a perfect fit at the linebacker position, which is where he shines. Given Michigan's depth at linebacker, especially looking down the road a couple of seasons, it would seem that Gedeon would fit well into a weak side role where his rather smaller size will be a nice benefit, given the tendency of that position having to dropping back into pass coverages.

Other offers
Boston College, Duke, Sparty, Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt, Purdue, Stanford, Tennessee, Virginia.

Other interest
Northwestern, West Virginia

Hype video

Spring Scrimmage Highlights 4/6, Fitz Feature [Video]

Another nice little spring scrimmage video – this one last Saturday. Some good highlights on both sides of the ball. It could be the music, or the way the video is cut together, but both sides of the ball seem to be getting faster to the point of attack. I really like what I'm seeing from Rawls. The fact that he and the other backs are having success getting through the middle is a both a good sign that the OL is coming together, and tad worrisome from a DL perspective...especially the interior.

I'll be honest, at this point, I'm much more interested in seeing defensive highlights than I am offensive. I have little to no worries about us being able to score points next year. We have bigger holes to fill on defense, although really not that many...mainly just the interior DL.

I'll be a happy camper this Saturday if the #1 defense shows it can hang with the #1 offense – if they even get that chance, which I suspect they will. We probably have one of the top, if not the top offense in the B1G for 2012. And you know what they say about defense and championships...blah blah blah.

Other random thoughts...

• It would seem the TE spot is wide open still. I saw four different guys catch balls here.

• I love Gardner in this video. He looks very poised in the pocket and scrambling, and his passes seem crisp and on-target. His rollout at 1:53 is something I'd love to see more of. We're still missing the illusive video of him at WR. Will we see him lining up out there this Saturday?

• On occasion, the QBs are being rushed a lot on the pocket, and the RBs are being met behind the line of scrimmage. I prefer to look at this as only a good sign for two reasons: 1) Our QBs can scramble out of pretty much anything. 2) Roh is looking good on the strong side, along with Will Campbell looking like he actually gives a damn out there.

• Along those same screen to VSmith at the 1:48 mark was interesting. It worked well, but you can see it's not Denard's strong suit given his height, but I like that the coaches are working on that play. If he can get the throw down, it will be a nice new little wrinkle to this offense.

• Nice pull by Mealer on the Justice Hayes run at around 2:20. Hayes is looking good in this video. Not an every-down type of back, but he's coming along. I don't think Rawls is either, but he's probably ahead of Hayes. Neither of which, however, are really going to threaten Fitz's carries. See the Fitz feature video at the bottom of this post.

• I've been hearing nothing but great things about Blake Countess at cornerback. And we see a little of that around 1:02. The words "lockdown" and "elite" have been mentioned...and by some pretty reputable sources.

• It should really start to be hitting you by now that this coming season will be the last time we get to see Denard Robinson play for Michigan. When it's all said and done, no matter what happens this year, Denard will go down as one of the most physically gifted and talented players to ever put on the winged helmet. I don't know about you, but I'm going to thoroughly enjoy watching this young man's senior season as a Michigan Wolverine.

Fitz feature

A Look at Michigan's Interior Line Personnel [Video]

Here's a good look at who's stepping up to take the place of the departed seniors on the interiors of the offensive and defensive lines. Notably, Molk and Martin.

Michigan Rewind - Spring Show #1

The first of two spring shows for what used to be called "Inside Michigan Football". Not sure what the change to "Michigan Rewind" is all about, but that might have something to do with why this clip is only a little over 12 minutes, and not the entire show...but here it is anyway.

Note: Video clip has been updated with the full show. You're welcome.