Threet, Sheridan still frontrunners to start at QB

After saying last week that redshirt freshman Steven Threet and redshirt sophomore Nick Sheridan have taken the lead in the competition to become Michigan’s quarterback, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said yesterday that those two remain competitive with each other. But he said Threet has been a little better lately in recent live team situations.

Other than size – Threet is 6-foot-5, 228 pounds, and Sheridan is 6-foot-1, 201 pounds – Rodriguez doesn’t see much of a difference between the two.

“They’re both about the same,” Rodriguez said. “They’re both good athletes, both very smart guys. I think they’re tough guys. We let them get hit more than they will in the future, we hope. And they’re pretty accurate, and they have good arms.”

Rodriguez doesn’t subscribe to the if-you-have-two-quarterbacks-you-don’t-have-any theory.

Incoming freshman Justin Feagin, a dual-threat quarterback, could offer a change of pace.

Although it creates challenges, the thin roster will likely lead Rodriguez to play more freshmen this year than in recent memory.

“It’s really hard for any true freshman quarterback because there’s so much they have to learn,” Rodriguez said. “There are certain positions – receivers and skill positions – that maybe guys can come in and there’s not as much on their plate.”

Dan Feldman

Offense riddled with injuries during spring practice

Though yesterday’s practice was only in shorts, the Wolverines were still feeling battered.

Rodriguez confirmed yesterday that wide receiver Junior Hemingway is the latest Michigan football player to suffer a spring practice-ending injury. After sustaining a severe high ankle sprain, the sophomore is expected to return by the start of summer workouts.

Sophomore Greg Mathews missed yesterday’s practice due to illness. And the dwindling number of wide receivers has forced the coaches to search for flexible options.

“Guys are going to have to learn more than one position, but in the long run, that may help us because we’ll be able to roll some guys in and out of there,” Rodriguez said.

With eight days remaining before the end of spring practice, the health of the Michigan running backs is still a point of concern.

Rodriguez said redshirt junior Kevin Grady, who sat out the 2007 season with a knee injury suffered in last year’s spring practice, has been “practicing, healthy and eager to prove himself.” Junior Brandon Minor has been sporting a soft cast after spraining his wrist but has not missed any reps.

But Rodriguez also confirmed that junior Carlos Brown, a backup to Mike Hart last season, will miss the rest of spring practices with a finger injury he sustained in mid-March.

“We don’t even have the number of bodies that we would normally carry on the travel squad,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a deep concern.”

Courtney Ratkowiak

Lawsuit against West Virginia doesn’t weigh on coach’s mind

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez was asked at the press conference whether he had any reaction to yesterday’s hearing about the ongoing legal battle over the $4 million buyout in his contract with West Virginia University.

“No, what happened?” Rodriguez asked. “I wasn’t paying attention. I should’ve been.”

Judge Robert Stone granted Rodriguez the right to present evidence to prove West Virginia didn’t live up to promises made when he signed the contract.

Stone also said West Virginia had the right to documents related to Rodriguez’s hiring at Michigan.

When the reporter began to explain that, Rodriguez quickly cut him off.

“No, I don’t need to answer that,” Rodriguez said. “My wife called me. Rita was there. The attorneys were there. I didn’t delve into the details too much. I will, later tonight, but I’m focused on spring practice.”

The dispute between Rodriguez and his former employer could last into the 2008 season.

Dan Feldman

Team to practice, play spring game at local high schools

The weather in Ann Arbor was perfect for football yesterday, but the Michigan football team had nowhere to go.

With Michigan Stadium under construction and the outdoor practice fields torn up to construct a new indoor facility, the Wolverines had to play indoors.

But some fresh air is coming soon. Michigan will practice at Pioneer High School Saturday, April 12, and will hold its final spring practice at Saline High School on April 12.

For the first time in recent memory, the final spring practice will be closed to the public.

“That’s unfortunate but who are you going to turn away?” Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said. “If you had a bigger venue, like the Big House, you could have everybody there.”

The biggest advantage to practicing outdoors is working on the kicking game. The low ceiling of Oosterbaan Fieldhouse has limited Michigan’s work on punts and kickoffs.

Rodriguez also looks forward to seeing how his quarterbacks and receivers can deal with in the elements.

“It’s a little different throwing and catching when you’re outside and have some wind,” Rodriguez said.

Nate Sandals

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