ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Michigan football team completed its third week of preseason camp, and while practices remain closed, we’ll fill you in on what we’ve learned.
The rundown this week includes the response of players after Michigan cancelled its spring game, cornerbacks coach Mike Zordich expressing his frustrations with injuries and what the wide receivers are learning as the spring progresses.
Here’s what we learned about the Wolverines after their third week of spring practices:
Change of plans
Wet weather in southeast Michigan wiped out the spring game at Michigan Stadium. Saturday was still business as usual for the Wolverines, who hosted a private practice for families and recruits at Glick Field House.
“We scrimmaged [Saturday],” sophomore linebacker Josh Uche said. “A lot of situational stuff. Two-minute [drill], 11-on-11, things like that. Families were there, referees were out there and we were competing.”
Uche, however, was disappointed he didn’t get to play in a spring game inside Michigan Stadium.
“It kind of sucked, because we worked so hard,” Uche said. “We were all looking forward to it, that end goal. When we found out it was cancelled, we were all pretty bummed, because we wanted all the fans to come out and support you. When it got cancelled, we were disappointed, but it was another day of work. And work is work.”
Injuries take a bite out of cornerbacks
Zordich is frustrated that injuries have sidelined Lavert Hill (hip and groin issues) and Benjamin St-Juste (hamstring) for the bulk of spring practices. Hill has missed all but two practices, and St-Juste hasn’t practiced at all.
“You’ve got an opportunity to get better or even just to find out what really is wrong,” Zordich said. “You’re not going to find out by not participating.”
Zordich sees the absences of Hill and St-Juste as an opportunity for players such as Ambry Thomas, David Long and Brandon Watson to earn a spot in the lineup.
“It’s frustrating for us, as coaches, but at the same time those other guys, you’re getting to see them blossom, which is really good for us. We’re creating depth,” Zordich said.
Oliver Martin, wide receivers make strides
Freshman wide receiver Oliver Martin is participating in his first spring practices at Michigan. He didn’t play as a freshman in 2017 because of a shoulder injury.
Now, Martin is going full speed.
Martin said he and the wide receivers have improved on making contested catches. He’s also learning more about the nuances of being effective at wide receiver, such as swiping a defender’s hands away or moving his feet better.
“The new coaches we’ve brought in are really emphasizing releases and getting off of jams quicker,” Martin said. “I think they’ve broken it down from a technical standpoint really well.”
Individually, Martin says he’s gaining a better understanding of the offense and processing it quicker.
“I didn’t realize the offense would be so hard to grasp and that there would be so many concepts to learn,” Martin said. “After I redshirted, I made it a point to get it down so I could process it quickly. The coaches have done their best to try and simplify it so that you don’t have to think so much. But it takes a little time and memorization. After a while, you get it.
“After going through a full year, this is so much easier, knowing the personnel groups, the formations, the shifts, all of that.”