Ouimet: Opening of Spring Ball Interview

Expanding Saturday morning's "Tidbits." With spring practice just around the corner, former Michigan Assistant Recruiting Coordinator Mark Ouimet talks about the start of practice, and also gives a preliminary position overview (detailed position-by-position overviews started today with Quarterbacks).


"Spring practice is fifteen practices over the five weeks between next Saturday (March 15th) and the Spring Game (April 12th). So there are generally three practices each week, pretty much every other day, like Mon./Wed./Fri., or Tues./Thurs./Sat. Practice is in the afternoon after school, and the NCAA says kids can spend 20 hours total a week, including working out. Some practices are in pads, some aren't -- you want to have realistic practices without getting injuries."

"In Spring Practice the team finds out who can play, they decide on position changes, they do a lot with special teams ... and the players get conditioned. There is a lot of individual work, more than in the fall when you have to concentrate on an opponent. There is individual work, one-on-one work, 'inside work' (front seven on front seven). And there is light team work -- running plays, getting the flow of a game."

"Also, a LOT of work is done with special teams in the spring. Snappers Ross Mann and Andrew King will snap all practice long."

"As far as getting ready for specific opponents the next fall. The coaches use 'play cards' for the demo team, plays that the demo teams (offense and defense) learn and run. The players don't know which team these plays represent, but the coaches of course do. Plus, this year, Central Michigan and Notre Dame run a lot of Michigan stuff anyway. The demo team consists of backups and younger guys, and they run the opponents' offense and defense. Either Matt Gutierrez or Spencer Brinton will have to play on the demo team this year (and remember that next spring there will only be two scholarship quarterbacks, that's a problem). The demo team 'star' is Nick Upchurch ... he is fast, and he can play quarterback, running back, defensive back, or wide receiver."

"Next let's look at the depth chart we've put together. That depth chart is designed for how the team will look in the fall, not for spring. In other words, it's what we think things will look like for the 2003 season. So it may not fit what the team looks like on the field this spring, mainly due to injuries. And as spring practice goes on the depth chart is liable to change. Also, position changes ccur during the spring as well -- they are done with an eye towards needs based on injuries and on what's coming in in the fall. And all position changes are voluntary by the players."

"So, first on defense:"

"There are 38 offensive players for the spring, and only 28 defensive players. So there may be some position changes from offense to defense -- at least one I believe."

"Looking at defensive back. They'll only have three cornerbacks in the spring, so I think there's a good chance they'll move Darnell Hood over from running back -- either to corner, or to safety if Willis Barringer stays at corner."

"At inside linebacker: on our depth chart it looks like there is a lack of depth at one of the inside spots, but the inside spots are pretty interchangable. Even though Zach Kaufman is out for the spring with his knee and Carl Diggs is out as well with his broken leg, we listed them at the same inside spot; we listed Scott McClintock and Lawrence Reid, who is back for the spring, at the other inside spot. We listed it that way because in the fall Kaufman and McClintock will likely be the starters. Diggs will probably be limited in the fall to special teams and a little linebacker play here and there because of the seriousness of his injury."

"This spring most of reps at inside linebacker will go to McClintock and Reid ... and then David Harris. Reid will jump over to Zach's spot and play with McClintock in the spring. As far as Reid and other injured kids go -- it's fortunate we don't have to continue to keep these injury situations a secret anymore, it'd make this interview difficult to do if we couldn't mention them."

"Manning the outside linebacker position this spring will be Pierre Woods and Roy Manning, back from his knee injury. I'm listing Pierre first because Roy may come back a little slowly from his injury. The most interesting thing here is that we'll find out how good Woods is at OLB."

"At defensive end, either Alex Ofili and/or Pat Massey will try the spot again to shore it up -- it looks like both are willing to move back to DE from defensive tackle."

"With Norman Heuer out for the spring due to his minor knee surgery for a cyst, Game Watson will get a lot of reps at defensive tackle -- that's great for Watson."

On offense.

Quarterbacks: (see the "Quarterbacks" article posted by Matt Pargoff today; it includes comments from Ouimet).

Running back. "They can't afford to get Chris Perry hurt, so he will sit out some. David Underwood, Tim Bracken, Pierre Rembert, Darnell Hood ... all will compete for the backup. With five running backs, someone has to move to defensive back -- I'd say Hood."

Tight end . "The Tim Massaquoi hernia is not that bad, I know about it because I had one too. He will get a lot of work, as well as Andy Mignery and Jim Fisher, and the others too. A lot of opponents play two tight ends, so the demo team needs two too. Michigan wants four tight ends, so who will be the fourth: Kevin Murphy, David Spytek and Phillip Brackins are the candidates ... it could also be Tyler Ecker this fall if he's in football shape."

"As far as the O-line goes ... first of all, I had Mike Kolodziej and Ruben Riley mixed up in the depth chart at tackle. I switched Kolodziej to left tackle where he belongs, and Riley to right tackle. Kolodziej's illness is no big deal. As far as both he and Heuer go, it's no big deal. In fact fans don't realize it, but most of the injuries that fans worry about are really not that big a deal to the players. And the injured players will be participating in spring drills as well -- working out and so on."

"Tony Pape will do little in the spring -- everyone knows what he can do. But Adam Stenavich will get a lot work, Dave Pearson will get more work. Kyle Ealey and Ruben Riley will get a lot of work. Demetrius Soloman will get work too -- he's better than people think by the way, he just happens to be behind Pape. Soloman may even play in the NFL someday."

"Also by the way, I still think at this point that they will eventually get Jeff Zuttah back. He did go through winter conditioning, and could be getting treatment (ie medication) right now. But we moved him to the 'freshman list' since he's not going through spring practice."

Wide receiver. "They will find out what Carl Tabb and Steve Breaston can do this spring."

"One last thing for now: as far as recruiting during spring practice. Every weekend day that there is practice there are recruits there. In fact, there is at least one recruit at pretty much every practice."

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