Zordich frustrated, wants cornerbacks to step up

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 6:11am

‘Concerned’ may be the wrong word to describe Mike Zordich’s attitude. ‘Frustrated,’ though — that just might do it.

Michigan’s defensive backs coach entered the offseason with the unenviable job of replacing three highly-talented senior cornerbacks, all of whom are now in the NFL. His pool of candidates faced one glaring problem: a lack of experience.

The Wolverines have their season opener against Florida in 11 days, though. Youth, Zordich says, can no longer be an excuse at this point in the process. He feels he hasn’t seen fast enough growth from his corners.

“I’m not concerned,” Zordich said to reporters Monday. “I have confidence in myself; I have confidence in those guys. I don’t want to sound like the sky is falling, but there is an eclipse! Which could be a good thing! Get some different moxie flowing around.

“Because I see it in them, I think that’s the more frustrating thing for me. I see it. It’s there. Just do it on a consistent basis, and then we’ll be okay.”

At the very least, it does sound like it’s a problem that Michigan can fix. Just ask Lavert Hill, who appears to have been on the receiving end of some tough love from Zordich and came out all the better for it.

Hill, according to Zordich, has been “pretty consistent” and has gotten increasingly better after not practicing for much of the spring. As Zordich said, the staff was “very disappointed” with Hill’s inactivity, and made that clear to him.

The result — a more consistent effort from Hill in the summer, whose arrow is “going up” — has pleased Zordich, and the sophomore appears to have locked down a starting job. Where the trouble currently lies is at the other corner spot, where, according to Zordich, none of the competitors have taken control of the competition.

“The other guys, they’ve shown flashes,” Zordich said. “They just need to grab it. Somebody’s got to grab it and run with it and take it. It’s just not happening. Hopefully somebody will in the next five to seven days because we’ve got to get ready for a game in less than two weeks. … You know they can do it, but they’ve got to do it every single day.

“... Certainly we’ve got new faces — I guess I can say young faces — and they’re not coming together. I don’t know if they’re just afraid to make plays because, again, they have the ability and they’ve shown the ability and they’ve done it in live situations out here. It’s just for them to understand that it has to be on a consistent basis and that is just not happening right now.”

While Zordich’s disappointment was with the group as a whole, it was easy to detect a particular couple of players for whom it appears he expected more from. After all, he was mostly complimentary of two of his freshmen, Benjamin St. Juste and Ambry Thomas, and praised their talent and motivation while hinting at a steeper learning curve. But Zordich’s tone changed when he began talking about two of the more ‘veteran’ players of the group — redshirt junior Brandon Watson and sophomore David Long.

Watson, according to Zordich, “hasn’t taken the bull by the horns” and “taken off” with the second corner spot — which Zordich expected would be the case from the most experienced player in the secondary.

Long, meanwhile, is in a similar situation. Quite simply, Zordich said he didn’t know what was holding back the sophomore.

“That’s probably a question that you’d have to ask David Long because it’s out there,” Zordich said. “Just go grab it, take it. It’s there. It’s there for the taking. That’s what we’re trying to find out: Why is David Long not running away (with it) here?”

Zordich said he didn’t want to sound the alarms; the intent certainly wasn’t to describe the situation as bleak. He just wants his cornerbacks — or at the very least, one of them —  to dig deeper and earn their snaps. And he may be close to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I’m very confident that within the next week,” Zordich said, “one or two of those guys is going to step up.”

Special thanks to MGoBlog's Adam Schnepp for providing a transcript of Monday's open interview session with Zordich.