A couple of weeks ago, Rushi and I had to the opportunity to attend the first Fall practice of the 2009 season and get a tour of the new Al Glick indoor practice facility. Suffice it to say, the day was action packed. We'll start with practice impressions.
The offense goes through stretches.
The first words out of Rushi's mouth had to be something along the lines of, "Wow, this team is in good shape." Barwis clearly has been putting these guys through an extremely rigorous S&C program. The linemen are in serious shape, and their are only a handful of guts out on the field. Super-recruit Big Will Campbell out of Detroit Cass Tech came to Michigan weighing in at over 320 lbs., and was looking svelte and under 300 lbs.
Vince Helmuth (32) transferred to Miami (OH) and is obviously fat.
Terrence Robinson, Greg Matthews, Martavious Odoms, and Donovan Warren were taking punts during practice. There were a couple fumbles reminiscent of last year's return game woes, but all in all the group looked decent. Keep in mind this was the first practice of the year, and the reports out of camp now are that the fumbles are down.
As far as the quarterbacks go, we saw them throwing from essentially a standstill, and mobility wasn't tested. Tate Forcier threw the most accurate balls of the day, but Nick Sheridan wasn't far behind. Denard Robinson floated a few out passes, but threw a better spiral than expected. Of course, the reports coming out of subsequent practices have been that Robinson throws a good ball and is electric with his feet. I fully expect Nick Sheridan to start against Western Michigan, but Tate and Denard should get plenty of snaps and will have a chance to make some big plays.
Freshman Denard Robinson under center.
After our designated time watching practice, we were ushered inside the new Al Glick practice facility for a tour. The building is absolutely stunning. Assistant AD Scott Draper explained that it stands as unofficially the biggest [in terms of height] indoor practice facility in college football. The facility will give the team a chance to have full practices indoors now that punting can take place (Zoltan tried numerous times to hit the roof and succeeded, but he was kicking as high as he could). The frosted glass you see from the outside was designed to let in natural light while eliminating glare and shadows, and the building style was meant to mirror Yost.
We also had the opportunity to tour the new practice facility locker rooms. They were very impressive, with huge flat screen TVs everywhere, snazzy stalls, and a sunken level for upperclassmen. It is definitely a room that will have a wow factor for recruits, and it allows upperclassmen and underclassmen to share a locker room in the practice facility for the first time.
New practice facility locker room.
The day finally came to an end with a Coach Rodriguez press conference, but anything he said then would be old news now. He did take the opportunity to introduce the "All In For Michigan" rally towels that he hopes will improve the game day atmosphere at the Big House.
I came away from the day feeling very positive about the upcoming season. We'll save predictions for a later time, but it is safe to say I'm optimistic about the September 5th season opener against Western Michigan, and the rest of the 2009-10 season.
Stay tuned to Maize and Blog for continuing coverage of all Michigan athletics in the upcoming year.