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.

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