Michigan junior cornerback Terry Richardson has seemingly been a forgotten man in the Wolverines' secondary his first two years in Ann Arbor, but he was energized during the offseason by the new attitude the defense has adopted for 2014. It has brought out a side of him not seen since his days as a standout at Cass Tech.
“We have a new scheme and a lot of in your face coverage," Lewis told GoBlueWolverine. "That is going to get a lot of guys out on the field. I have been here two years and I had to get my weight together and now this year I am really excited for camp. Myself, Jourdan Lewis and Delano Hill -- who we just lost to injury -- are excited for camp. With this new style of play, let’s ball and see what we got. We have some young linebackers that are looking good. The defensive line is looking fast and explosive. So are going to see how it all turns out in camp."
“Last year we were a little bit conservative," he said. "We have talent... let’s use it. You put your best against our best and let’s ride out -- lets go get it. That is the mindset that our coaches have instilled in us for this season. Our practices are more intense -- we go hard, we go faster, and our coaches are really pushing us more. It is not just for the starters but for the backups as well -- everyone is getting pushed and that is what we like about it."
One of the biggest catalysts for the attitude change has been new cornerbacks coach Roy Manning.
“This is his first year coaching corner, so we were a little nervous about him, but he is bringing it to us. Coach Manning is keeping us on top of our game. We are working hard. He is a trash talker, he doesn’t play around when it comes to teaching us. He told us I will take a pass interference call as long as you are aggressive. We like that. One thing I like about Coach Manning is he brings that intensity every day. You know how practices can go sometime, but he is going to be fiery, he is still going to ready to go get it. That is what keeps everyone motivated and ready to go at it every day and staying focused."
Despite the intense competition Richardson believes there are tighter bonds amongst the players now than there were in the past.
“I will be honest with you... I have never felt that we were a complete team," Richardson admitted. "I felt like we were a team of solos. But this year it is not that way. The simple fact is we are tired of losing. Guys want to play and guys want to win, so we all came together. If you are a starter you are helping out the guy behind you -- not for him to take your spot, but because you really want him to succeed. When you do that you raise the level of play throughout the whole team and it builds that camaraderie every day in training and summer workouts. We had team activities that were amazing -- TWO of them --and we never did that before so that was a good deal."
The improved chemistry and greater belief in one another are supposed to help the team respond more favorably in times of adversity, but according to Richardson there is another key element that they must be ready to show.
“Swagger," he said. "I want to see how we come out and adapt to this new style in tight games and the money games -- how do we react to it and sustain it. We want to see how we really get after it this year which brings this swagger, and getting after it every play every game through hard work."
Sam Webb contributed to this report.