HD's Octagon---Welcome back to another edition of Willis' World

                                                          April 15th

  Good day to all my fellow Wolverines...It looks like some good weather is heading Ann Arbor's way for the 2010 Michigan Wolverines Spring game..I hope the turnout this year is similar to or better than last year..It truly was a sight to see all the support the Wolverine nation is giving RR and company...Let's talk some football, shall we?

   First I want to talk a little about "team chemistry"...This is not limited to on the field cohesion either..I can not stress how important this topic is to a team and their success..I for one have never seen in all my years, a team of players and coaches become so close to each other... We have coaches and players doing chest bumps after good plays, racing each other to the water jugs for competition and pushing each other in the weight/class room.  The atmosphere is definitely conducive to winning in A2 and we will get a glimpse of that this year..There really IS a family atmosphere in A2 and it is a breath of fresh air for me and everyone else involved...Some might dis-agree with me but, the hiring of Rich Rodriguez was the BEST thing that UM has done in years...I know his record after 2 seasons doesn't reflect that but, for me, it's not just about wins and losses(although that IS HUGE)..

  The culture and attitude in A2 around the football program has never been at this level and I can honestly say IF given the opportunity to coach at least until his contract year is here, we WILL see things never witnessed by us UM fans in the future...I see something special happening here and I have no doubt that RR and company are building a machine.. Soon all the media outlets that are taking cheap shots and jabs at UM will be eating crow in the NEAR future and won't be able to say anything bad about UM because we will be the new "florida" or "texas" or what have you..We are going to witness speed in A2 that we have never seen before and within 2 years, we will be recognized as one of the fastest teams in the country..Will that translate to success? I know I sure think so....Have I ever mentioned it's going to be a fun Spring?  :)

  Spring football---------Inside Info from practice..This info was sent to me via text or through email..I  have no interest in talking about what other places report because half the time, they are just guessing or making things up to have something to write about...Hmmm, sounds kind of similar to Espn...haha

  1.Denard Robinson is running a lot with the one's lately and a couple of my sources say, "If the season started today, DR would start.."  Some say it's due to a couple of different reasons but, in REALITY, he is taking the snaps with the one's for a reason...More on this shortly

  2. Tate Forcier is running with the one's and two's..Some say it's due to the coaches wanting to give TF a "wake-up" call...I have been told TF is a true leader but, has some things to work on mentally...Maturity and reading defenses are just two examples...*blue-light special*--Tate Forcier was seen in a boot walking with crutches yesterday..I am told it's a sore toe but is no big deal..I will do more efforting to see IF this source is/was correct..

  3.Devin Gardner is doing very well and progressing every practice...However, it is against the 3rd team players so take it for what it's worth...This is not a knock on DG, he WILL be the future...He is a True Freshman that enrolled early so, he is above where some expected him to be at this time..

   My opinion on the QB race---It will be ongoing up until the last week or two before the home opener versus Uconn...Imo, whoever starts will all depend on 2 things--the OL and RB's... I personally feel after talking to 2 different sources around UM football that we will be more of a passing attack this year due to the ambiguity of the RB's..However, a lot could change come fall and I hope it does for several reasons..IF Vincent Smith isn't healthy to play this year then, this will solidify my thoughts even further...Is Tate learning a lesson here?   I sure HOPE SO

   On the other side of the coin you I have people telling me that the vertical passing game in practice is non-existent so, IF DR ends up being the starter than that tells ME that the coaches aren't comfortable just yet opening up this offense like they want to and we will be a run heavy team...Did I mention Spring and FALL will be exciting?

  I envision a quick strike, short passing game to go with a dominant run game this year...Our O-line is our supposed strength so, let's wear down those Defenses, shall we? We finally have a talented 2deep on our O-line and I believe will we take full advantage of it...Here's what I expect to see depending on who is at the QB position....
TF---We will spread the field out, mostly using a 4 wide set utilizing TF's strengths and abilities...From time to time we should also see an "ace formation" as well..This would put both athletic TE's on the field at the same time which would lead to certain mismatches for the defense..I like this formation because you can go with a HEAVY dose of running being that there are 2 TE's on the field or, do some play action passing or downfield seam routes utilizing the WHOLE field...

  DR---I expect to see a 2 RB situation most of the time if DR is the QB..He hasn't grasped the whole offense yet and his passing needs some work...He has the strongest arm of the 3 QB's but, he needs to learn the "touch pass"...So, if the vertical passing game is non-existent, expect to see this formation more than not to take advantage of DR's athletic abitlities...So far, he is running all over the place in practice and has some onlookers salivating at the possibilities this year..

   DG---Make no mistake about it..Devin Gardner will be a Heisman candidate before he leaves Ann Arbor(barring injury)..He has everything you want in a QB to run this offense and he is also a natural born leader...You can't teach that and it is going a LONG way in to making his teammates trust, respect and love him like a brother...DG the Heisman winner in 2013? I like the sounds of that  :)
   MY take---DG will not red-shirt this year..As the season progresses, I believe you will see DG get entered into games in certain situations..Especially because this offense is most lethal when the QB can make plays with his feet to keep the chains moving...However, in doing so, you take a risk that your QB could get crushed and injured..That is why RR loves to have at LEAST 2 QB's who are equal or close to it..That way if someone gets hurt, you don't have a huge dropoff in performance...DG could be the X-factor in November when the Wolverines visit Columbus.. JMO

     A few morsels to chew on from a coach at Spring practice---Paraphrasing everything

  1...Cam Gordon---He is a baller, period!  There is somewhat of a funny joke going on between the coaches and players about CG's move to defense...He came in as a WR but, after seeing him on the field and looking at a depth chart with needs, the coaches moved him to safety...That has been one of the best moves yet by this staff...The joke of it is they say his hands are the reason he was swithched to Defense...Apparently he is all over the field in practice making plays but, as one guy told me, " He had his hands on 3 different balls in practice one day and dropped them all."  Some think it's due to his tenacity and wanting to knock the player out instead of intercept it..I have no problem with either because both usually lead to something positive for our team..

 2.. Floyd Simmons--Nothing Earth shattering here but, I thought it was pertinent to know if either of our in the box safeties get hurt, FS is definitely more than a worthy back-up I'm told...The depth is looking better and better for UM's secondary as each practice comes to an end...

3...Stephen Hopkins--This kid is a big, bruising RB...Unless Vincent Smith heals way before schedule, you SHOULD expect to see SH get some decent PT this  year and not Red-shirt..

 4..Sagesse and Patterson are really making improvements each day...They will be a key to the success of the DL due to the constant rotation...Good depth on the DL make it more fun for the guys behind them...

 5..LB's---Two have stood out..Obi Ezeh and Kenny Demens...This has been a weakness in our D for several years...Has Greg Robinson made strides in coaching the LB's this year?  One person I know thinks so.. Also, don't forget Craig "death" Roh...As I've stated several times in the past..He will line up with his hand in the dirt on one play and be an outside blitzing LB on others...He is a beast and will be an All American before he leaves A2...

6.. DB--- JT Floyd continues to impress and he will be a good one before he leaves A2..

7..Will Campbell---Need I say more? He will be a beast on the DL for the next 3 years..."Big Will"

            That's it for now but make sure you check back for more Spring updates after the Spring game.I will have a myriad of information to share and discuss with everyone...I hope you all enjoyed the short read and thanks for stopping by...Oh yeah,   GO BLUE


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