Standing in front of board that shows his team’s 2008 schedule, Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez addressed the media today at Schembechler Hall after the Wolverines’ third day of fall practice.
But unlike the spring when the board was filled with all 12 opponents, just “Aug. 30 UTAH” preceded 11 blank lines.
The Wolverines attitude has evolved from playful to giddy to buckling down during the last couple of weeks. They even wore shoulder pads today.
Shortly before the summer training period ended, several of players, including junior defensive end Brandon Graham and freshman linebacker Kenny Demens were doing back flips after a workout session.
But freshman running back Sam McGuffie, famous for a YouTube highlight clip that features him hurdling a defender, showed them up. He did a front flip over Obi Ezeh, a 6-foot-2 redshirt sophomore linebacker.
“I didn’t really believe it at first,” Graham said. “But I wasn’t all on YouTube looking at him and stuff. I said ‘I’ll see him when he get here.’ ”
And before Rodriguez had a chance to give team its August schedule, everybody was excited and asking what the plan was, Graham said.
But as the team has settled into fall practice, not everything has been quite as thrilling. Rodriguez said the team had “average practice overall” today.
“I didn’t think we progressed a whole lot,” said Rodriguez, who noted the defense was clearly ahead of the offense.
Rodriguez was asked what the best play he saw today was, and it didn’t take long to determine it was a defensive play.
“We had one or two interceptions,” Rodriguez said. “I’m trying to think of one where we didn’t throw it right to them.”
The 24th-ranked Wolverines know they have to start progressing at a faster clip because game-planning for Utah, literally the only team on their schedule board, begins in two weeks. And for Michigan to climb from its lowest preseason ranking since 1995, a win against Utah would go a long way.
“We just say ‘We’re going to the shock the world,’ ” Graham said of the Wolverines ranking. “That’s all we’re going to do. We don’t really vibe on it because it’s not really positive or what we want it to be. We want to be No. 1.”
Note: Freshman linebacker Marcus Witherspoon has not qualified academically, and Rodriguez doesn’t expect him to be in Ann Arbor during fall camp. The Atlantic City, N.J. native is taking classes back home.