Six turnovers against Notre Dame last week gave the Michigan football team plenty to work on during the bye week.
One area that particularly worried Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez was kickoff returns. The Wolverines muffed two in the first four minutes — the first leading to bad field position for Michigan, and the second, recovered by Notre Dame, leading to a touchdown for the Irish.
“I just hope we catch the ball,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve tried out just about everybody back there.”
At yesterday’s press conference, Rodriguez named nine different players who have taken kickoffs in practice. He listed four players on the depth chart — freshman Boubacar Cissoko, senior Brandon Harrison, freshman Michael Shaw and senior Morgan Trent. In addition, he said freshman Sam McGuffie, freshman Martavious Odoms, redshirt freshman Avery Horn and sophomore James Rogers took reps in practice.
“You got to be able to do it and focus and just catch the ball first in the game and know that we are going to get some short kicks and some kicks that aren’t exactly kicked down the middle,” Rodriguez said. “We got to be able to handle that.”
Last Monday, he said the team would focus on special teams during the bye week.
“As much as we’ve worked on it, we should be better,” Rodriguez said. “If not, I’d be very disappointed.”
Injury report: The game of attrition that is the Michigan offensive line continues to play itself out. As someone gets healthy enough to play, it seems another one goes down.
This week, Rodriguez said he thinks redshirt junior left tackle Mark Ortmann, who hurt his elbow against Miami (Ohio), will be able to play. Rodriguez will make a final decision once he sees Ortmann practice in pads.
But though Ortmann is close to returning to the lineup, his replacement, redshirt sophomore Perry Dorrestein, has health questions of his own.
Dorrestein started in place of Ortmann against Notre Dame but suffered a “freak” knee injury in practice last week. Rodriguez said he was encouraged by the progress Dorrestein made and that he may be able to play this weekend.
Relief along the offensive line may come in the form of redshirt freshman right guard Mark Huyge. He hurt his ankle before the season and is back competing for a spot at guard. Huyge was not listed on the two-deep depth chart released at yesterday’s press conference.
One of the team’s lingering health concerns is freshman slot receiver Terrence Robinson, who injured his knee in fall camp.
“It doesn’t look like he’ll be ready to play just yet,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said he still has not determined whether or not he will redshirt Robinson this season.
Zoltan the financial analyst: As he walked off the podium at yesterday’s press conference, redshirt junior punter Zoltan Mesko, a Stephen M. Ross School of Business student, was asked to assess the current situation on Wall Street.
He spent more than a minute breaking down the implications of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs switching from independent investment banks to bank holding companies.
“Basically, the Wall Street era is now over,” Mesko said.
He also provided an up-to-the-minute update on Morgan Stanley, saying that it was up 10 percent yesterday morning. After Mesko finished his analysis, senior linebacker John Thompson stepped up to answer questions.
“I can’t answer no questions like Zoltan,” Thompson said as he approached the microphone.
Notes: Rodriguez said redshirt sophomore John Ferrara has been working a lot at left guard to compete with redshirt junior Tim McAvoy, but true freshman Ricky Barnum is listed as the backup on the two-deep depth chart. … Monday marked the first time that McGuffie, Shaw, junior Carlos Brown, junior Brandon Minor and redshirt junior Kevin Grady were all listed on the depth chart.