GBW Exclusive: Off. Coord Calvin Magee Speaks
Sam Webb: You now have had an opportunity to make it through the entire spring with the team. What kind of growth did you see from practice one until the end? Calvin Magee: "Like night and day really. Of course in the beginning those guys were going to be running around, lost, not understanding what we wanted and not happily buying in at the beginning … that's just the facts. I tell you what, as the spring went and as they got to know them and they got to know us, it started coming. It started clicking and the guys really dove in. I was really proud of them from how they progressed throughout the spring – all the way up to the spring game." Sam Webb: As far as the guys on this current team, can you see some guys fitting in that role and is that a place that we could possibly see a couple of freshman come in and having an impact? Calvin Magee: "Well you know with all freshmen, and especially when there is a new staff and a new system, all freshmen are going to be looked at really early to see what they can contribute. So we can try and make some decisions there. Coming in, we were not bad at receiver. Of course we were losing (Adrian) Arrington and (Mario) Manningham, big losses with all of their experience. But the guys dove in – both inside and out wide. We had a few injuries that happened a little bit so we weren't able to see if a couple of those guys could play slot. We did move Tony Clemons in and he did a very good job." Sam Webb: Is that permanent? Calvin Magee: "Tony is one of those kinds of guys that is versatile enough to play both. We felt in the spring that that was the best place for him, and he did a great job. Naturally we recruited some guys and we got about four of them to come in. And hopefully they will come in and learn the offense from the older guys … and then early in fall camp we are going to figure it out, but we have some flexibility there." Sam Webb: Now Calvin, one of the things in covering recruiting that I get confused with all the time: how different is the slot from your tailback position? Is that interchangeable, can one play the other and vice versa? Calvin Magee: "That is the goal. That is the hope. As you can see, many of the guys that we sign to play that spot were tailbacks in high school and quarterbacks, they did a little bit of both of them, plus they ran routes and caught balls. It is very interchangeable – and we want it to be interchangeable. With the new rules, you want to play with the same people on the field and not do a lot of subbing. You want to play a lot of guys … but you want to go into some sets … so you can run all of your formations, all of your plays at the same time. So these guys are very interchangeable." Sam Webb: One of the things I get talking to the guys is, yeah there is a lot of change coming in, but we can all play. Is that something that you have experienced in the past because you guys play at such a high tempo … that there are a lot of guys playing and sometimes you might even go three deep? Calvin Magee: "We could. I think the guys will understand that once they really see how we do it. We go so fast and we try to get a lot of plays in. And so they are going to realize that, at our tempo and our pace, that sometimes they are going to be wanting that break … but we want them all in shape enough to play the whole game if they have to. I think they are going to start liking the roles that we are going to have them play in – each formation, each set, each play, all that stuff." Sam Webb: One of the things they try to do to you on the recruiting trail, they find these big talented athletes and tight ends and say, ‘Hey don't go to Michigan because they aren't going to use you.' Can you explain how they might be utilized? Calvin Magee: "First of all, I am excited about the tight ends we have. I think they have done a wonderful job this spring, they worked hard and we are lucky because they are flexible enough to do some of that slot stuff … and you know that is a bad rap that we receive in those things that you mentioned; that is not the case. If you know the whole history behind the use of tight ends at the last place we were at and who was playing the positions, then you would understand why we did what we did. The job of the offense is to move the ball and score. You are going to put your best people on the field to do that. So if the tight end is one of our best 11, then the tight ends will be on the field. If the tight end is one of our best ball catchers, then the tight end will be a ball catcher. That is true with every position. So it is not a matter of just what the offense is designed to do, because as we have said before – it is very flexible, it is who is at that position. We are very excited about the guys in that position for us." Sam Webb: Two guys that look like they had very impressive springs are Carson Butler, who played a lot here, and then Martell Webb, a young guy who really looked like he could attack the defense – especially in that spring game it looked like he got behind them a couple of time. Calvin Magee: "Martell did a good job. He is a puppy though, he is still a puppy. He needs to get more balls. I am excited about his future. Carson did have a great spring. I thought he did a wonderful job, he got me excited about it. The funniest thing is, I am a former tight end, so of course we love tight ends." Sam Webb: One of the other things that I noticed and I don't know if it excited you, but it certainly excited me, was the offensive line. I don't know what you were expecting, but they looked a whole lot better than I expected it to look. Calvin Magee: "I keep hearing that, but we came in with no expectations with the players. We judged them from the beginning on how we saw once we got here. Of course you always look at past film and all that, but many of these guys were not on film. I could tell you that we were very pleased coming out of spring ball. We are excited from that standpoint. We do need some depth and hopefully we recruited for that. We recruited six guys that are coming in, and we will be looking forward to helping us with that. But we were very pleased with our progress." Sam Webb: We talked a lot about freshman, about freshman possibly having an impact. Clearly no slpot is more difficult than quarterback to come in and kind of try to grasp. Do you have a plan of how much you throw at the young guy at the beginning, or do you just throw him in and see how much he can handle right from the start? Calvin Magee: "We have always thrown them in. We throw them in there and see what they can handle. I think one of the advantages of summer school is just that that they get here in the summertime and they have a month to start learning some of the stuff from the guys who have learned what they are learning. So it helps them going into camp that they are just not hearing this stuff for the first time. They are hearing it all summer from the players that is already out there. So that helps them. Now it is difficult for a quarterback of course, he has got the most to do, but we have played a lot of freshman in the past and they have done well. I think we will be okay with them learning it." Sam Webb: Was there any aspect of the team, of the offense in particular, that has surprised you -- that you learned and you said wow, I didn't know this kid could do that or anything that surprised you? Calvin Magee: "Well we knew the history of Michigan recruiting, so we thought that there would be very good players here. We really tried that and I told the guys this. We really had to come in with an open mind, of lets evaluate it from day one, because we don't know them. I was surprised, really, by some of the guys that had not played before, the O-lineman especially. I would say I was like, ‘Holy cow this boy hasn't played. This boy is pretty good.' But I wasn't part of all those former evaluations, why (he didn't play) or anything like that, I just know that we have been very pleased with some of the guys that hadn't played before – that means they be good and fresh for us." Sam Webb: You've got a couple of fullbacks on the roster. None of the guys, I don't think, is an Owen Schmitt. How do those guys get incorporated into the offense? Calvin Magee: "Owen was unique. Owen was a guy that could play all of the positions that we just talked about – tight end, slot and fullback spot. He was a big tailback at times. But what is good about having (Mark) Moundros and (Vince) Helmuth is that they are two fullbacks and it gives us more flexibility in getting in some sets that we didn't do in the past. We had done that prior when we had a fullback like them, prior to Owen Schmitt coming, we utilized him in a lot of those same ways. You mentioned recruiting and words that people use against us, and I think people have a short memory. Before Owen Schmitt, there was a fullback who I thought was better than Owen Schmitt who was a true fullback, although he wasn't close to Owen as far as all our sets, and we did a lot of wonderful things with him. Before we had no tight ends, before that we had a couple that we utilized … so people only want to talk about what has been seen recently. They don't want to go back to six seasons ago or five seasons ago. When we talk about the flexibility of the offense that is what we talk about. When we have tight ends we use them. When we have a true fullback we use him. Now we've got both."