Kickoff coverage and kickoff return was a big emphasis during Tuesday mornings practice at Denius Field, head coach Mack Brown said.
Anyone who saw Michigans Steve Breaston set a Rose Bowl record for KO return yards (221) knows this is a critical area for improvement, especially with the Ohio State tilt (and return specialist Ted Ginn, Jr.) just 25 days away.
Michigans average starting field position against Texas was its own 45. Brown seriously considered telling Richmond McGee to kick the ball out of bounds after Texas took a short-lived two-point lead late in the fourth quarter. Ideally, McGee will respond with a few more touchbacks this season.
"This morning, Richmond McGee and Greg Johnson were within a yard of the goal line or up to six yards deep," Brown said, "and there wasnt a lot of wind out there this morning. We do feel like we have the potential to go back and kickoff into the end zone."
Selvin was held out of morning practice as part of Browns decision to limit him to one workout a day. Tuesday marked the second true two-a-day of the preseason.
But that opened the door for Ramonce Taylor to serve notice that hes not content to simply concede the starting job he held last spring.
"RT made some big-time plays today which excites us," Brown said. "Hes got such great hands that we can move him around and put him in different positions. Hes got the ability to make plays after the catch. Thats something that didnt happen as much as we wanted last year. Our receivers need to make more yards after the catch than they did last year. Cedric (Benson) made a lot of yards after contact, but not in space. We feel like Ramonce can do more of those things out in space, so were looking at getting him the ball with some air."
Backup QB Matt Nordgren was also held out of morning practice simply as a preventive measure against a nagging sore shoulder. But QB Vince Young will be held out later this week as part of a worst case scenario script for the Horns.
"Were going to make sure the team understands that, if Vince isnt playing, we still have to move forward and win the game," Brown said. "Were trying to help them understand its more than about one or two guys, its about the whole team, and not to be in shock if someone gets into a position where they couldnt play that day. We also try to make sure we have two people that can call plays, and call defenses, so if something happens that if a coach has to miss a game, that we wouldnt be without it. Were trying to prepare for any negative thing that might come up."
Coaches had a "strong conversation" with the team Monday about the energy lag they have seen toward the end of practice, which "signifies the fourth quarter," Brown said.
"Today, they were more upbeat since theyve been since practice started," Brown said.
FL Jordan Shipley did not practice Tuesday morning, Brown confirmed.
Tuesday afternoon practice was move up to 3:30 p.m., while Wednesdays session will be switched from 2:15 p.m. to 7:15 a.m.