Coach Rod on: Nick Sheridan, Tate Forcier, Ricky Barnum, Justin Feagin, Kevin Koger, Steve Watson, Greg Robinson, more.
Coach Rodriguez: “Nick Sheridan has got a small fracture in his lower leg. According to the trainer’s talk, it’s not displaced fracture, so he doesn’t have to have surgery or anything. It’s just four to six weeks and then he’ll be good to go. So that take’s him out of the rest of the practice for spring ball, but for summer workouts, he’ll be fine.”
Question: So how did it happen?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah it was at the end of practice, during the little scrimmage part of it. Didn’t look like a violent thing, but I think he just got twisted under him a little bit and it happens. Nick got some pretty good work in and obviously mental he’s a sharp guy, so he’ll be able to…these last few practices, it’ll give some other guys more reps and Nick will stay in tune mentally and then will bring the competition back to full go in August.”
Question: Tate (Forcier) has mentioned how much he’s helped him. Is there anything that he can do along the line of instructing still?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah, they’ll do the same thing. Every time the quarterbacks go to the sideline they talk to Coach Smith and amongst each other to see what’s happening out there, but again the spring is a time to learn and the best way to learn for the young guys is taking reps, so they’ll be taking some reps.”
Question: Is that a normal thing where you guys go live with the quarterbacks during the spring?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah at times, sure. You got to scrimmage at some point. There is enough tagging going on…two hand tag now. So the rules allow you to hit eight times and tackle eight times and we’ve got to be able to do that. Now as we get closer to the season in August, we taper down a little bit. I’m not going to sit there and say, alright we going to scrimmage. These quarterbacks got to get better and they got to go live sometimes to get better.”
Question: It looks like Ricky Barnum is also wearing red?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah, Ricky has got to have…he sprained his ankle, but he’s also got to have some minor surgery on his wrist, if there is such a thing as minor surgery. He’ll get that fixed up. Again, he missed a few reps, but he’s a pretty sharp guy and he’ll be in the mix come August.”
Question: Have you moved (Justin) Feagin or anybody else to quarterback to kind of…?
Coach Rodriguez: “Justin has been taking some reps there anyway in practice some and he’ll take a few more now that Nick is out there. He’ll be taking reps and David Cone and then Justin Feagin and Justin will take some reps there too. We’ll have quite a few more quarterbacks coming in the fall, we’ll be alright. Any other questions on spring practice?”
Question: How is (Steve) Schilling’s spring gone?
Coach Rodriguez: “It’s going pretty well. I think he is comfortable there. We’ve moved a lot of guys around a little bit and I think we are going to have more guys that we can have involved in the competition and our goal is to find at least eight that can play up front. If we can find 10 that would be a bonus. I’m not sure that we are there yet, but we are getting closer.”
Question: Is tackle or guard more of his natural position?
Coach Rodriguez: “I don’t know yet. I’ll probably have a better feel for that in about a week.”
Question: How is Kevin Koger doing for you?
Coach Rodriguez: “Doing well. Kevin, you can tell he’s played a little bit. He’s a little bit more confident and another guy that’s come on that we’ve challenged a little bit. We’ve challenged them all but one guy in particular that we’ve challenged is Martell Webb at tight end. We told him that we need another tight end and he’s got the ability to do it and so far he’s responded. I’ve been proud of Martell. He’s shown enough, again it’s just the beginning of spring, but he’s shown some good things at the beginning of spring and I’m excited for him. I think if he can continue to progress, we’ll have those two. That’s what allowed us to move Steve Watson and try him at defense, because Martell and Kevin give us two pretty solid guys right away at tight end.”
Question: How is Steve (Watson)?
Coach Rodriguez: “He’s going pretty well. He’s a tough guy, very coachable and I think the defensive coaches like him. Again, we’ve only been three days in pads and we haven't had a full scale scrimmage yet. We’ve just had some situation scrimmages. We will be able to tell some more after full scale scrimmages.”
Question: You mentioned the weather and how it has allowed you guys to have all six outings here outside; does that allow you to do more things than if you were forced inside?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah there is no question that you can do more in the kicking game. I think obviously it gives you more team for your whole team, out here with your nice practice facility that we have. We are not kind of bumping into each other. Obviously when we have the new building done, we’ll have a little more room on the sideline and the ceiling, but right now it has been nice to go outside and then outside we’ve had to deal with conditions. I mean the wind has been blowing pretty hard and it has made it tough to throw at times, but that’s the way it is going to be in the fall, so we’ve had to learn to deal with that.”
Question: How are your DB’s, particularly your safeties been?
Coach Rodriguez: “Been okay. I think we still got a little work to do and obviously we don’t have a lot of experience at safety, so it’s a work in progress, but the guys have really tried. I’ve been pleased with what they’ve learned so far with just five practices in, but we’ve got a lot of work to do. Again, I reiterate that there is not going to be a definitely two deep established until the week of the first game. That’s just not coach speak that’s just being fair to everybody, not only now but the guys that are coming in the summer but our guys, how they work in the summer. The guys can prove themselves this spring and that’s what important to our players now that they can prove to use this spring that they could be a guy that maybe we can count on.”
Question: Since you have a smaller sample with Nick to evaluate, do you kind of assess his spring in what you got out of him and what you saw?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah. There is no question that I think he is more comfortable. He is playing more confidently. That was a good thing to see. We wanted to see Nick take the next step and all the guys that have played in the same system a year ago, take the next step as far as understanding what we want and I think obviously from a year ago he is way ahead mentally and so that was an important thing. Obviously he’ll miss 10 practices, but Nick being a sharp guy and again only to be a four to six week injury, he’ll be able to pick it up on his own and summer workouts and be able to jump right back into the mix in August.”
Question: How would you say the defense as a whole is adjusting to Greg Robinson?
Coach Rodriguez: “I think pretty well. Again, some of the techniques that we used last year and fundamentals that they’ve learned are still relevant, some our new. Some of the coverages, some of the fronts that we’re doing are a little bit different, but they’ve adjusted pretty well and we don’t have as much experience on defense, but at the same time, I really hope as this spring progresses, we can do more and more. There are a whole lot of things scheme wise that are defensives coaches can put in. Now if we get to them all by the end of spring, I don’t know.”
Question: Does Tony Clemons leaving open the door for anybody else in particular that you are looking at?
Coach Rodriguez: “The only guy that I ever concern myself with is the guys that play for Michigan. The guys that are playing for Michigan right now are working their tales off and they are doing an outstanding job and everybody gets reps during the spring. So there is no one guy leaves and it opens the door for anybody else. The door is open for the guys all the time. The way we try to create our practices and our program is that everybody has an opportunity to play and compete every day, irregardless of seniors leaving or players moving on, we try to have that same type of atmosphere every day.”
Question: What have you seen from Vincent Smith that you like?
Coach Rodriguez: “He’s really come along. He’s still confused sometimes as all the freshmen would be, but he showed some flashes in the last practice and he’s a guy that is probably going to play some this year as a true freshman. Love his attitude; he loves playing and he is a pretty quick learner on the field and he’s got some natural ability, so I’m pretty excited about him. In fact, all seven of those guys coming in have really blended in well. You can tell that they are freshman a lot of times and they are still adjusting to college because you got to remember they’re supposed to be high school right now getting ready for the prom or something, but they’re doing a nice job.”
Question: So because the door is open for everybody is there one person that has really stood out or turned some heads?
Coach Rodriguez: “Not yet. I mean I think there have been several of them that have done it, but again, we haven't had a full scale scrimmage yet and that comes Saturday, but there have been guys that have made noticeable improvement and I would expect that would be the case each day.”
Question: Will you kind of split the ones up in terms of the scrimmage or how does that work?
Coach Rodriguez: “We may go the ones against the ones probably. The end of springs, we go ones against twos. There is not a set way. Some of the guys that are proven, when we go to full scale scrimmage won't scrimmage as much. A guy like a Brandon Graham or a Brandon Minor will scrimmage some but not as much, because we kind of know what they can do and it gives the young guys a little bit more reps, but other than that we’ll try to get them all in there and give them an opportunity to show themselves.”