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Posted on Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 4:02 p.m.

Birk's Eye View: Thursday practice notes from University of Michigan football practice

By Dave Birkett

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:

• 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.

• 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.

• “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.

• 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.”

• 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."

• Tom Pomarico is the first-team long snapper, and Zoltan Mesko is holding for kicks.



Fri, Aug 21, 2009 : 11:07 a.m.

Western M has a good team. We will be vulnerable - first game jitz for freshmen. Hold on to your bonnets, boyz!


Fri, Aug 21, 2009 : 11:03 a.m.

I think redceder1 just scared himself. The Spartans play Western Michigan on November 7th. I can't wait!


Fri, Aug 21, 2009 : 7:42 a.m.

Seriously, don't you have something better to do than comment on a Michigan article on a Michigan site sparty? I'm interested to know how Sheridan is looking throwing the ball. There was an article in the Freep about all three quarterbacks throwing the long ball, and I believe it had to be a misprint. Last year, Sheridan's long throws looked like wounded ducks. The only reason this is relevant is that even though Forcier seems to be the clear starter to most, we keep hearing positive things about Sheridan and Rich started Sheridan over a better QB to start the season last year.


Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 8:36 p.m.

Have you guys seen the size of Western's O-Line? Its going to be 3 yards and a cloud of dust. all the way back to Kzoo. They beat Toledo by 10 last year and have a qb richie would die for. 250lb D-Linemen and no depth will not cut it. They also return a 1,000yd. rusher.


Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 6:23 p.m.

Great to hear that Robinson is improving. I still think he will start out as a wildcat and get more of the playbook as he gains experience.


Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 4:33 p.m.

i can't wait for sept.5! western aint gonna know what hit em.