Monday, April 30, 2007

Sights to see on a Michigan Football Saturday

Being at Michigan Stadium two Saturdays ago for the final spring practice got me thinking about the things I like to see and do on a Michigan Football Saturday in the fall. There are so many sights and sounds to experience on gameday. There are almost as many ways to experience a Michigan Football Saturday as there are fans in attendance at "The Big House." However, here are just a few suggestions of things you may want to check out this fall during your trip to A2 (i.e., Ann Arbor). First, you want to make sure you look good for the weekend so you can always stop in for a haircut at the Coach and Four Barber Shop run by Jerry Erickson who cut Coach Bo Schembechler's hair since Bo arrived in Ann Arbor in 1969. Once you are looking good, you want to kick off your Michigan Football Saturday with a hearty breakfast to get your day started off on the right foot. Although many people swear by their breakfast tailgates, I prefer to leave the cooking to the pros at Angelo's. Just make sure to get there plenty early as the line to get in often stretches around the corner. However, it is well worth the wait. Just make sure to leave enough time so that you can make it over to Revelli Hall a couple of hours before game time so that you can watch the Michigan Marching Band Drumline warm-up. If bopping your head in time with the beat of the drums makes you hungry, you can wander a little bit down E. Hoover and hit the "Dollar Dogs" stand which is located just over the railroad tracks. The stand even added hamburgers to their menu last season. Then about an hour before kickoff the entire Michigan Marching Band marches from Revelli Hall to Michigan Stadium (via E. Hoover with a left at Greene St. and then to the Stadium parking lot before stopping outside the steps of Gate 1). Many in the crowd follow the band to the stadium. Don't forget to pick up your free game program when you are at the corner of E. Hoover/Greene. The free programs are the best value going outside of the Absopure Water. Just make sure when you get your free program that you put it away quickly so that your hands are free to catch a pass from Randy "the Michigan Football Thrower" who stands on the brick retaining wall of the Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE) building. Just make sure that you don't drop the pass and that you have enough of an arm to get the ball back to Randy or you will feel like a doofus. After taking in the sights and sounds outside the stadium, you will want to get to your seat with enough time to watch Michigan come out of the tunnel and touch the "M Go Blue" banner prior to kickoff. After that, it's time to watch a Michigan victory! Go Blue!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Feature on how Michigan players are taught to sing The Victors

The Victors always sounds more impressive when you have the Michigan Marching Band backing you up. Go Blue!

Michigan Football Players Can Sing

Two of Michigan's all-time greats (Tyrone Wheatley and Braylon Edwards) "sing" The Victors. It looks like they need a refresher course from Professor Willis Patterson. Go Blue!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Around the Big 10 Conference

Although Michigan concluded its Spring Practice schedule on April 14th many Big 10 schools finished their respective Spring Practice seasons with intra-squad games yesterday. Here is a quick look at what is going on at the other Big 10 schools at the conclusion of the Spring Practice Season:

1.) The Ohio State University
The Buckeyes had more than 75,000 fans in attendance yesterday as the Gray beat the Scarlet 17-9 in the Spring Game. Also, the site has a good position-by-position summary of the status of the Buckeyes in Spring Practice. Lastly, the site also has the 2007 roster in PDF format.

2.) University of Wisconsin
The Badgers had 18,000+ fans on hand to watch the Cardinal beat the White 35-6 in the Spring Game. Wisconsin also has a Spring Football Media Guide available in PDF format.

3.) University of Iowa
Like Michigan, the Hawkeyes concluded their Spring Practice season on April 14, 2007. The Hawkeyes had 19,000+ fans in attendance to watch Iowa's Spring Football Event. Also, here is a good position-by-position outlook on the 2007 Hawkeyes. Lastly, Iowa has a Spring Football Prospectus (i.e., Media Guide) available in PDF format.

4.) Penn State University
The Nittany Lions had a record crowd of 71,000 fans in attendance to watch the annual Blue-White game. The White team cruised to a 30-6 victory over the Blue team in the Spring Game.

5.) Michigan State University
The Spartans held their first Spring Game under new Head Coach Mark Dantonio and the Green beat the White by the score of 21-8. The Spartans' Spring Game Rosters are available in PDF format.

6.) Purdue University
Boilermakers Head Coach Joe Tiller, like Michigan Head Coach Lloyd Carr did last week, chose to conduct an intra-squad scrimmage with a complex scoring system. The Purdue offense came out on top 86-45 in the Black & Gold scrimmage. Purdue's Roster is available with updated biographies by clicking here.

7.) University of Minnesota
The Golden Gophers conducted their intra-squad scrimmage (offense vs. defense, no score kept) under first-year Head Coach Tim Brewster on April 7, 2007. Minnesota attracted 15,000 fans to the practice session held at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The Golden Gophers have a Spring Football Media Guide available in PDF format.

8.) Northwestern University
The Wildcats hosted 3,500 fans at Ryan Field yesterday as the Purple beat the White 17-14 in the Annual Spring Game. Northwestern has a Spring Football Media Guide available in PDF format.

9.) University of Illinois
The Fighting Illini had approximately 10,000 fans in attendance yesterday for an intra-squad scrimmage where the defense outscored the offense 49-33 using a scoring system designed by Head Coach Ron Zook. Illinois has a Spring Football Media Guide available in PDF format.

10.) Indiana University
The Hoosiers played their Spring Game last week (April 14, 2007) with the Cream defeating the Crimson 27-26. Indiana has a Spring Football Media Guide available in PDF format.

Reviewing the other teams reminds me that Michigan is not the only team that has holes to fill for the 2007 season. Each team is rebuilding in some form or another. It looks like the Wolverines are in good shape if they can get healthier by the time Fall Practice rolls around in August. Go Blue!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Spring Football Practice pictures- revised edition

Above are some of the photographs I took at the final Spring Practice on April 14, 2007. This is a revised version of an earlier post. Go Blue!


Friday, April 20, 2007

2007 Michigan Spring Football Guide

The 15 spring practice sessions have concluded with last Saturday's practice/intra-squad scrimmage but you can fill the gap between now and the commencement of Fall Practice by reading up on the 2007 team in the Michigan Spring Football Guide. The "Media Guide" (as I like to refer to it) is chock full of information that will keep you busy for a long while. The links to the Guide (which are in .pdf format) are below:

>>Part 1 (Adams-Harrison, pages 3-21, 626 KB)

>>Part 2 (Hart-Zirbel, pages 22-44, 593 KB)

>>Part 1 (Head Coach Lloyd Carr, pages 45-53, 557 KB)
>>Part 2 (Assistant Coaches, pages 54-64, 1.30 MB)
>>Part 3 (Support Staff, pages 65-72, 300 KB)

>>Part 1 (Recaps, pages 73-87, 1,25 MB)

>>Part 2 (Statistics, pages 88-104, 538 KB)


>>Part 1 (pages 105-134, 1.24 MB)

>>Part 2 (pages 135-154, 333 KB)

>>Part 1 (pages 179-201, 540 KB)

>>Part 2 (pages 202-228, 444 KB)

Enjoy reading and Go Blue!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Coach Carr to speak at charity function in Riverview on June 1st

According to an article in the April 18, 2007, print edition of the News-Herald local newspaper, Coach Carr will be the keynote speaker June 1st at a fundraiser for the non-profit organization Ministering His Love. The group is a christian organization that provides counseling and mentoring to families without insurance and at-risk children. The fundraiser is being held at the Orlando Familia Banquet Center in Riverview. At the event, Coach Carr will talk about coaching with the late Bo Schembechler, growing up in Riverview and being a coach of a championship team. There will also be dinner, dancing, an open bar and an auction. U-M items and guns provided by Randy's Hunting Center will be auctioned off. Admission is $60 per person and anyone buying 10 tickets will receive an autographed picture and have a photo taken with Coach Carr. The deadline for registration is May 15, with checks payable to Ministering His Love, 135 Riverbank, Wyandotte, MI 48192. For more information call 1-734-281-3805. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Coach Carr ministering his love to an official by Rashaun Rucker/The Detroit Free Press


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Review of Spring Practice on 4-14-07

I did not take many handwritten notes as I watched yesterday's practice as I preferred to keep my gloves on as I observed the goings-on from my vantage point in section three. As for the mental notes I made, I mostly concentrated on the new components of the kicking game, the quarterbacks, the tight ends, and the wide receivers. Here are my general impressions of what I observed yesterday:

  • True freshman sensation QB Ryan Mallett needs to develop some touch on his passes. He can definitely rifle the ball and his arm strength lived up to what was advertised but he lacked any touch on his throws. He tried to drill every throw he attempted. Also, a couple of his deep throws fluttered a bit. Not wounded ducks but not exactly tight spirals either. Overall, however, I was very impressed.

  • QB Jason Forcier was listed on the blue Spring Practice roster that was handed out as I entered the stadium and Coach Carr referenced Forcier in his pre-scrimmage press comments as if Forcier were still a member of the team. Thus, I do not know what to make of the rumors that Forcier has decided to transfer to Stanford at the end of the spring semester. I did not see Forcier at the practice nor did anyone else as far as I know. I am so confused.

  • Sean Griffin seems to have established himself as the Long Snapper on kicks. There was, however, one botched placement and Coach Carr started yelling at Griffin which made it seem as if it was the snapper's fault rather than the holder's fault that the ball did not get placed down cleanly for the kicker. Coach Carr then had the kick re-done and the play was done cleanly on the do-over. On the day, the snaps were quite good and Griffin seems like he will be able to fill the void left by the departure of Turner Booth.

  • The kicking game is spotty at this point in time. The competition is between Bryan Wright and K.C. Lopata. Jason Olesnavage was also kicking (if you can call it that) but was a disaster both on kickoffs and field goal attempts. I think Olesnavage should stick to charity visits. As for Wright and Lopata, they were each short on kickoffs as they struggled to put the ball inside the ten yard line. As for field goals, Lopata was more impressive although he missed one badly when he drilled one of his kicks off the helmet of an offensive lineman.

  • The holders on field goals/point-after-attempts were Zoltan Mesko, David Cone, and Nick Sheridan respectively. Mesko handled the most kicks and appears to be the #1 holder assuming the job vacated by Ross Ryan. On the one botched attempt, a quick thinking Mesko scooped up the ball and ran with it in an attempt to make a pass downfield but the ad-hoc play never really materialized.

  • Converted Tight Ends Chris McLaurin and Andre Criswell cannot catch the ball to save their lives. The Wolverines desperately need Mike Massey back in the fall. I'm sorry that I ever posted a picture of Massey dropping a sure TD pass in last year's season opener. Please forgive me. Just come back. NOW!

  • Speaking of dropped passes, what was with wide receivers LaTerryal Savoy and Greg Mathews? I like both of these players a lot and feel that they could be starting for most Big 10 schools. However, they did not look so hot yesterday.

  • Coach Carr announced that Justin Boren will be the starting Center in 2007. Last year, Boren became only the fourth player in Wolverine history to start a game on the offensive line as a true freshman.

  • About twenty minutes before the practice ended (while David Cone was quarterbacking and Chad Henne was done for the day), Chad Henne's high school coach Jim Cantafio walked by me up the section three stairs. He was wearing a Big Ten Conference jacket rather than being decked out in Michigan gear as he is sometimes apt to do. Also spotted, down on the defensive (east) sidelines, was future NFL-star Alan Branch.

Those are the "mental notes" I made. Now it is time to start counting down the days until Fall practice begins. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Alan Branch (South Pole sweatshirt) by mzgoblue; click on picture for a larger (and clearer) version.


Young players tried to make an impression in final spring practice

Michigan concluded its Spring Practice schedule yesterday with a spring practice session at The Big House that included a controlled intra-squad scrimmage. The session was open to the public and drew about 5,500 dedicated fans to the two-hour practice. Many of the Wolverines' stars (e.g., Mike Hart, Mario Manningham, Jamar Adams, etc.) sat out the practice which gave the youngsters on the roster a chance in the spotlight. Prior to the commencement of yesterday's practice, Coach Carr answered questions from the media regarding the state of the team. As for the practice, check out the following photo galleries that will make you feel as if you attended the practice session: MGoBlue, The Detroit News, and The Detroit Free Press. Also, you can read a blow-by-blow description of the 4-14-07 practice, as Scott Bell of the Michigan Daily live blogged the practice session.

After the conclusion of yesterday's Spring Practice session, Michigan announced the recipients of three awards presented following spring drills. Senior QB Chad Henne won the Meyer Morton Award presented to the football player who shows the greatest development and most promise as a result of the annual spring practice. DT Will Johnson won the Frederick Matthaei Award presented to the junior-to-be gridder who has displayed leadership, drive and achievement on the athletic field and in the classroom. WR Greg Mathews won the John F. Maulbetsch Award presented to the freshman football candidate after spring practice on the basis of desire, character, capacity for leadership and future success both on and off the gridiron. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Coach Carr at 4-14-07 Spring Practice scrimmage by John T. Greilick/The Detroit News


Friday, April 13, 2007

Grady out with ACL injury; Brown to stay

Rumors have been flying around for the past week or so regarding the status of RB Kevin Grady and CB/RB Carlos Brown. It was rumored that Grady had suffered a potential season-ending ACL injury while Brown was contemplating transfering schools upon completion of the spring semester. Angelique S. Chengelis (a/k/a "The Angel of the Big House") of the Detroit News set the record straight. She wrote that Grady did in fact suffer a severe ACL injury and it is unknown when he will return. As for Brown, "The Angel of the Big House" confirmed that Brown was considering transfering but that he had decided to stay. Reportedly, Brown also indicated he wants to switch back to running back from corner back. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Carlos Brown (23) from 11-11-06 game vs. Indiana by John T. Greilick/The Detroit News


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Deadly duos on the defensive line

The 2006 Michigan defense was the catalyst for the Wolverines success last season. The defense finished #1 in the nation in rushing defense. The "D" was led by All-American DE LaMarr Woodley and All-Big Ten DT Alan Branch. In fact, Woodley was awarded both the Lombardi Award (top lineman in the nation) and the Ted Hendricks Award (top defensive end in the nation) for his standout performance last season. Woodley and Branch made a lethal duo on the line that gave opponents fits all season as the Wolverines rolled to an 11-2 record and a trip to the Rose Bowl in 2006. Woodley and Branch formed an unstoppable tandem on the defensive line the likes of which Wolverine fans had not seen in over twenty years. Which brings me to the 1985 tandem of Mike Hammerstein and Mark Messner.

The 1985 Michigan defense featured All-American DT Mike Hammerstein and All-Big Ten DT Mark Messner (a future two-time All-American). The 1985 team went 10-1-1 and finished the year ranked #2 in the nation largely on the strength of the play of the team's defense which was anchored by the line play of the tandem of Hammerstein and Messner. In 1985, Hammerstein registered 19 tackles for losses (#4 all-time best season at Michigan) for -101 yards (tied for #5). The defense was among the nation's leaders in scoring defense as it yielded only 8.1 pts. per game in 1985. DT Mark Messner was the hero of the Fiesta Bowl game that season as he registered nine tackles, forced a fumble and recovered another in the Wolverines' 27-23 win over Nebraska. He was named the game's MVP for his efforts. Messner (So./Fr.) also led the team in 1985 with 9 sacks (for -88 yards). Hammerstein (Sr.) had another 8 sacks that season for -59 yards. Messner's totals in his redshirt freshman season of 1985 during which he tallied 9 sacks (#6 all-time best season) and minus 105 yards in tackles-for-loss yardage (#3 all-time) ranked him among the Wolverine greats right from the start of his career. By the time he finished in 1988, Messner was Michigan's all-time leader in sacks (28), tackles-for-loss (61), and tackles-for-loss yards (-335 yards).

The numbers of Hammerstein and Messner are obviously very impressive but the play of the four players cannot be measured by merely reviewing statistics. In particular, DT Alan Branch often had a significant impact on games last season in ways that did not show up in the stat line. Standing at 6'6", 330 lbs, teams had to double-team Branch and to devise schemes to block him which freed up the All-American Woodley on the other end of the line to wreak havoc. Woodley set a Michigan record by logging 12 sacks in 2006 and much of Woodley's success is attributable to the teamwork of Branch. Each of these dynamic duos were outstanding and I just hope it is not another twenty years before the Wolverines get another terrific tandem on the defensive line that can rival these pairs' performance. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Alan Branch (80) and LaMarr Woodley (56) from 9-16-06 Notre Dame game by John T. Greilick/The Detroit News
*Note 2: Middle Photo of Mike Hammerstein from Michigan Athletic Dept.
*Note 3: Bottom Photo of Mark Messner from Michigan Athletic Dept.

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Who will win this year's Meyer Morton Award?

Each year the Meyer Morton Award is presented to the football player who shows the greatest development and most promise as a result of the annual spring practice. The Award was established by the 'M' Club of Chicago in 1925. Morton, a 1912 Michigan graduate, was a lawyer in Chicago from 1915-48 and served as a Big Ten football official for 23 years. In fact, Morton was the referee in the famous 0-0 tie between Notre Dame and Army played at Yankee Stadium in 1946. A member of the Chicago 'M' Club, Morton traveled to Ann Arbor to present the award for many years, and the award was named in his honor after his death in 1948.

Last year's recipient of the Meyer Morton Award was Steve Breaston. Past winners have included: Jim Harbaugh (1984), Jamie Morris (1987), Desmond Howard (1991), and Braylon Edwards (2004). With one week of 2007 Spring Practice remaining, the leading contenders for this year's Meyer Morton Award appear to be: CB Carlos Brown, WR Greg Mathews, TE Andre Criswell, and OL Justin Boren. Following is a quick rundown of each player's spring practice progress:
  • CB Carlos Brown (#23): Brown, like his number-sake Jim Betts (the 1970 Meyer Morton Award winner), switched from offense to the defensive secondary. After the first week of Spring Practice, Coach Carr stated regarding Brown's move to cornerback that, "athletically, will be a great move for us. He's got a lot to learn, but he can run and Carlos has a great attitude and desire to be good. He has a passion for the game and anytime you have the kind of mentality that he has, I think, good things are going to be in store for him." In 1970, Betts made the position switch and won the Meyer Morton Award on his way to having an outstanding season in the defensive secondary. Hopefully, history can repeat itself in 2007 for the Wolverine donning jersey #23.
  • WR Greg Mathews (#13): Mathews had a good freshman season and looks like he may be a major contributor in 2007. Coach Carr stated that Mathews, " a guy when you look at where he was physically compared to where he was when he came out last summer. I mean he's a guy who can really run and he's a big, strong guy that has the potential to be a great receiver."
  • TE Andre Criswell (#39): Criswell moved from the fullback spot to Tight End to fill a need on the Wolverines roster created by Massey's injury and Butler's departure. Criswell has been working hard and could see significant playing time.
  • C Justin Boren (#65): Boren is trying to earn the starting center position this season and Coach Carr has singled him out for praise as a lineman who has performed impressively during Spring Practice.

You will be able to see all the players in action next Saturday, April 14, 2007 at 12:30 p.m., as Spring Practice draws to a close with the Spring "Game" which is open to the public. Come out and decide for yourself who should be the 2007 Meyer Morton Award winner. Go Blue!


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Michigan Marching Band narrows search for new Director

The Michigan Marching Band will have a new Director during the 2007 football season as Jamie L. Nix has moved on. Head over to the Hoover Street Rag to read all about the three finalists who are being interviewed to replace him. Go Blue!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Carr's Wash 4 Kids-June 9, 2007

The Carr's Wash 4 Kids has been set for June 9, 2007. This year the event is limited to 100 Carr Washes, so you will need to get your tickets fast. Tickets are $500 (maximum of 4 people per car). The donation is tax deductible and benefits the bone marrow transplant unit in the new C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. A ticket to the Carr Wash includes:
*Exterior car wash by Michigan football team (maximum 4 people per car)
*Coffee and breakfast with Michigan coaches and players (autographs and pictures)
*Games on the field, tours of Michigan locker room and Junge Family Champions Center
*Silent auction - includes football experiences and memorabilia
*Carr's Wash For Kids t-shirt
Call 734-998-6589 to purchase your tickets before they run out!
Go Blue!