Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez confirmed running back Sam McGuffie and wide receiver Michael Shaw will not redshirt.
He also said freshman wide receiver Martavious Odoms will play this year.
As far as the freshmen on the other side of the ball, Rodriguez indicated cornerback Boubacar Cissoko, defensive tackle Mike Martin and safety Brandon Smith won’t redshirt. He also said cornerback J.T. Floyd and linebacker J.B. Fitzgerald will have a chance to play.
Freshman wide receiver Darryl Stonum enrolled early and will likely play, too.
Before fall practices began, Rodriguez estimated nine or ten true freshmen would play this year, and he hasn’t changed that opinion.
Quarterback competition: Rodriguez seems to be a bit tired of answering questions about the quarterback competition between redshirt freshman Steven Threet and redshirt sophomore Nick Sheridan, who has been on scholarship since last week. The coach was asked how close the two quarterbacks are.
“I think they’ve got a great relationship,” Rodriguez said before explaining the race is “very close.”
Sheridan looked better than Threet in the period of practice the media had access to today, especially on the run. When Threet threw while moving, his passes often were wobbly and fell short. Sheridan’s had more zip and were more on target.
Sheridan took the first reps in the team’s afternoon walk-through today. Rodriguez said he alternates which quarterback takes the first reps with first team depending how he feels at the moment. In the same vein, Rodriguez doesn’t script when his quarterbacks will play during a game. If he feels the need to pull the starter, he does.
Rodriguez isn’t the only one being asked about the competition. Standing behind the play, backup kickers Jason Gingell asked Jason Olesnavage, another backup kicker, which quarterback had just pooch-punted during practice. Both quarterbacks kicked a couple of times from the shotgun.
‘M’ drill: The Wolverines competed in an ‘M’ drill during today’s practice. Cones form a ‘V’ horizontally across the field, with the point at the sideline and the cones opening up to be 10 yards apart at midfield. A running back starts on the sideline with the ball and tries to advance past midfield, staying between the cones. In straight line in front of him is an offensive lineman blocking a defensive lineman, a tight end blocking a linebacker and a wide receiver blocking a defensive back.
Redshirt freshman running back Avery Horn, whom running backs coach Fred Jackson last year called the fastest running back he ever had at Michigan, stood out. Horn sped by the defensive players, making it difficult for them to even touch him.
Senior defensive tackle Terrance Taylor also performed well in the drill, getting to running backs at that first level.
Offensive line: The play of the offensive line hasn’t exactly inspired Rodriguez.
“We’ve been OK,” Rodriguez said with a grimace. “At times our O line seems like a pillow fight. Sometimes they look pretty good.”
With redshirt junior Corey Zirbel out with an injury, redshirt freshman Mark Huyge started the walk-through at right guard.
Redshirt junior David Moosman started the walk-through at center. He moved to right guard after a few plays, and redshirt freshman David Molk played center. Moosman and Molk are centers, but both can play guard. Rodriguez said this morning Moosman seems to be more of a natural guard than Molk.
Of the true freshmen offensive lineman, guard Ricky Barnum has the best chance to play. Rocko Khoury also has a shot. Rodriguez didn’t mention Dann O’Neill, Michigan’s only offensive line recruit in rivals.com’s national top-100.
Special teams: Rodriguez said the best 11 players for each unit will play on special teams, even if they’re starters. Of the starters, he said fifth-year senior cornerback Morgan Trent stands out as a starter who wants to play special teams.
“If you have guys that aren’t a starter, but they’re great special teams players, then you get the best of both worlds,” Rodriguez said. “Your starters don’t play as many plays, but right now, it’s wide open everywhere.”
Rodriguez, who uses both pocket and roll-out punts, was asked if redshirt junior Zoltan Mesko will handle both.
“If he wants to punt,” Rodriguez said.
Injury update: Freshman quarterback Justin Feagin was slowed the last couple of days with a sore shoulder, but look a little better today.
“He’s got a long way to go, more mentally than anywhere else because there’s so much for him to learn,” Rodriguez said.
Fifth-year senior kicker K.C. Lopata made a 49-yard field goal today, but he limped away after the kick.
Redshirt sophomore full back Mark Moundros has an ankle sprain and will miss a few days. The injury should mean sophomore Vince Helmuth sees more reps.
Knee problems will keep Zirbel out for about a week. Rodriguez said many offensive linemen are working at multiple positions, so there is no one replacement behind Zirbel.
Sophomore Junior Hemingway has been wearing a green jersey in practice because he’s still dealing with a severe high ankle sprain he suffered during spring practice. Rodriguez said the wide receiver has done most drills in practice.
Redshirt junior Andre Criswell had a his left arm in a sling and didn’t participate in practice.
In addition to Feagin and Hemingway, junior running back Brandon Minor, junior wide receiver Greg Mathews, redshirt junior running back Kevin Grady and sophomore wide receiver Toney Clemons wore green jerseys, which indicate minor injuries.
Walk-ons: Rodriguez, who was a walk-on free safety at West Virginia from 1981-84, wants to build the best walk-on program in the nation. He estimates he has put 25 walk-ons on scholarship in the last five years.
“A lot of guys just want a chance, whether they’re an in-state guy, and they grew up a Michigan fan, or they just want an opportunity to play at a big-time program, get a big-time education,” Rodriguez said. “Speaking from experience, you just want an opportunity. ‘Just give me a chance. Treat just like everybody else. And if I’m good enough, I’m good enough.’ And our background and our history shows we’ll give them that chance.”
Linebacker Kevin Leach and defensive back Jordan Reilly, who are redshirt freshmen and walk-ons, have a chance to play.
Redshirt junior Tim North, sophomore Jimmy Potempa, redshirt freshman Zach Johnson and Leach are walk-ons who could play on special teams.