Birk's Eye View: Thursday practice notes from University of Michigan football practice
Nick Sheridan was first in the quarterback rotation during Thursday’s installation period, and he and Tate Forcier continued to work with the No. 1 running backs during individual, while Denard Robinson and David Cone practiced with the second group.
I’ll get some video up later, but Robinson was a little crisper with his passes Thursday then when I watched him last week. Accuracy is still an issue - and when I talk accuracy, I mean putting the ball in a spot where a receiver can run with it, not just completion percentage - so if he plays this year Michigan could look an awful lot like some of Rodriguez’s old West Virginia teams.
My projection for how things shake out under center hasn’t changed. I still think Forcier starts the year and Robinson plays early (though Sheridan might be No. 2 against Western Michigan because Michigan can’t afford to lose that game).
It wouldn’t surprise me, however, if Robinson cracked the starting lineup at some point. Rich Rodriguez has always favored game changers under center, not game managers, and Robinson’s speed can make a difference in the Big Ten.
I asked Rodriguez about that concept before practice Thursday.
“What Pat (White) and Rasheed (Marshall) and before them Woody Dantzler and Shaun King did is, when those big play opportunities were there they took advantage of it,” Rodriguez said. “That’s the part as coaches that boy, if it all matches up right and you have the right call against the right defense, you get that big play.
“Those guys did that. But like I said, the young freshmen and even Nick, I’ve seen it more taking advantage of those opportunities in a week-and-a-half than I did all last year.”
A few other practice observations from Thursday:
â€¢ The aforementioned first group of running backs included Brandon Minor, Carlos Brown, Michael Shaw and Kevin Grady. True freshman Vincent Smith was running with the second group, as was Mike Cox.
â€¢ Martavious Odoms was held out of practice Thursday with post-concussion symptoms. Rodriguez said Odoms should should return Friday. The quarterbacks also were in black no-contact jerseys after being live earlier in camp.
â€¢ “There has been a few more explosive plays offensively” in camp this year than last, Rodriguez said. “I think part of it is due to the guys maybe executing a little bit better, but I think part of it is due to some of the skill set of some of the guys doing it.” Besides the quarterbacks, Rodriguez singled out slot receiver Kelvin Grady as one of camp’s biggest playmakers.
â€¢ Rodriguez left open the possibility that backup offensive lineman John Ferrara could move back to defense if injuries strike along the defensive line. Ferrara played defensive tackle two seasons ago. “John will do whatever we want to get in the mix,” Rodriguez said. “We feel good with our rotation, but we’re a couple injuries away, defensively, from really being in a shaky situation.”
â€¢ Michigan’s first full-scale scrimmage is Saturday, but the Wolverines continue to practice live, usually in controlled situations, four or five periods a day. "I'd like to go a half hour, 45 minutes, but I don't want to beat ourselves up," Rodriguez said. "I think we need to do that to improve our fundamentals."
â€¢ Tom Pomarico is the first-team long snapper, and Zoltan Mesko is holding for kicks.