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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Spring Practice

Now that the NIT is thankfully over—I’m not a big basketball fan in the first place and still have no idea why the NIT even exists—and ESPN has been soundly spanked and put to bed, it’s time to get back to some football. It’s Spring Practice time, so that means we need to start obsessing about all sorts of things that are most likely meaningless. The 2006 season is only five more months away.

I was checking out MGoBlue.com and noticed there were some pictures of Michigan’s Spring Practice. Initially, my intent was to find some pictures that might appeal to our female readers. As a contributor to a sports blog, I’ll stoop to just about anything to entice women into coming here. Sadly, Michigan is in, well, Michigan, so practicing shirtless like they do at glamour school USC just isn’t practical. Sorry, ladies.

I did look through the photos, though and was able to discover some interesting things about the 2006 team. Considering how Michigan’s football team is more secretive than the Kim Jong Il regime, these photos are quite a coup. They do say that a picture is worth a thousand words. So, here are the pictures and my analysis.

First up, we have Ron English, reveling in his new role of Defensive Coordinator. As nice as the promotion is, I’m guessing that English was more swayed to stay at Michigan by the buttload of free Michigan gear. Even his whistle lanyard is maize.

Here we have new linbackers coach Steve Szabo. My first thought, ‘damn that guy’s old.’ My second thought, ‘that top thing he’s wearing makes him look like he should be working in the sick bay of the starship Enterprise. “Dammit Lloyd, I’m a doctor not a miracle worker!”

Being old has good points and bad points. When he hears his players talking about 50 Cent, he’ll probably wonder what the big deal is since four bits just doesn’t go as far as it used to. On the other hand, old means grizzled and tough and mean. These are good qualities for a linebacker. When Szabo thinks of linebackers he probably thinks of guys like Dick Butkus, Chuck Bednerik, Sam Huff, and Ray Nitshcke. This should be a good thing. We can only hope.

I really shouldn’t make fun of Mike DeBord here since I’m frequently caught in pictures with my face in a funny position, but I will anyway. DeBord is likely explaining something about checking the positioning of the safeties and linebackers by using the caveman-esque “point and grunt” technique. I’m not sure whose communication skills that reflects more poorly on, the offensive linemen or DeBord.

As far as body language goes, arms folded across the chest like this can mean a couple of things. Unfortunately, none of them are good. About the most positive interpretation one can put on this picture is that it’s chilly in there and Lloyd Carr and Fred Jackson both forgot their gloves.

Lloyd Carr keeping a close eye on Chad Henne—like all of us fans are—and hoping last year really was just a sophomore slump.

My final thoughts, maize and blue make for some damn fine contrasting colors, probably the best out there. As always, the helmets are the best. At least we have that. And, I sure do use the word hope a lot when discussing Michigan football.


Becky said...

You don't have to beg, you know. Just stop showing those god-awful coach vacation photos, and maybe the babes will come by more often.

Or just wait till those shirtless practices do happen - that was a really good strategy poorly planned.

Yost said...


We're trying, we're trying. Trial and error here.

surrounded in columbus said...

nice rundown on the new coaches (and the fashion statement). i guess i'm a tad more optimistic. there are a lot of kids coming back. injuries and other excuses aside, the players are there to have a good team next season.

besides, let's face it. what's the worst that can happen? another loss on the road opener? another loss to a poor conference team like minnesota, at home? another loss to tosu?

short of a losing season, we pretty much hit bottom last year. it was so bad even Lloyd felt he had to make broad changes to his staff. that's something he hasn't done since the '96-'97 off season.

and who knows? these changes might end up being good. it's a different group of coaches, supposedly a different approach, and maybe a different result.

and most importantly, these changes will either right the ship, or Lloyd's going to sink w/ it. commodore bill may be immune to criticism, but he has got to be feeling this in the wallet. it's tough to sell sky boxes for a team people don't want to watch.

so, "hope" isn't all that bad. last year, we/i didn't even have that.

BaggyPantsDevil said...


I agree and am actually very optimistic about the 2006 season. I think Henne will improve, Hart will be back, the secondary has a lot of experience, there will be a new focus on sound defense, and the 7-5 season will provide a lot of motivation.

As has been pointed out over at mgoblog, there's no clearcut favorite for a number one team. Texas no longer has Vince Young, USC has lost a lot of playmakers, and OSU has only two starters returning on defense (and one of those is injured right now).

This could indeed be the year that a high preseason ranking is actually justified. I'm just hesitant to get out there and say Michigan should be a top five team and seriously considered a contender for the BCS title game.

Kyle King said...

For what it's worth, BaggyPantsDevil, I did say Michigan should be a top five team, for some of the reasons that you mentioned.

As someone who watched his alma mater's storied program put up records of 5-6 in 1993, 6-4-1 in 1994, 6-6 in 1995, and 5-6 in 1996---a period during which I missed only one home game and attended Georgia games at Atlanta, Clemson, Columbia, Jacksonville, and Oxford, so I hardly suffered through it from afar---I can state with certainty that the strength of the Michigan program is attested to by the fact that 7-5 feels like the end of the world.

Few universities have been able to produce such sustained excellence that a season that ends with a loss attributable to atrocious officiating in a pre-New Year's Day bowl game constitutes the worst season in the adult lifetimes of so many of the school's alumni.

There's an old saying in college football: "It's the same distance from the outhouse to the mansion that it was from the mansion to the outhouse." That truth of that maxim is underscored by the fact that the Wolverines were nowhere near as far along the path to the outhouse as it might, at first, have appeared.

Theri Maa, Bhanchod! said...

Kyle King rules! he has eased my fears and put my world back in perspective if only for a moment. I will now go attempt to make sweet sweet love to my wife if I can only get those damn naked coaches images out of my head.

surrounded in columbus said...

thanks for the props on the program. i take it you're a Georgia fan? my neighbor here in columbus is an UGA fan, great guy, and finds tosu fans and their culture even more annoying than i do- so we get along famously.

and you are absolutely right- we are more than a tad spoiled.

a little side anectdote- wife and i bought a condo in s. carolina a while back. when just the two of us go, we fly. when we take the whole family, we drive (about 10 hours).

when our 14 yr old discovered that we flew on the trips w/ out the kids, she went into a whine about "how come you get to fly and we always have to driiiiive?"

i looked at her and in my best fatherly, "i'm going to teach you a lesson" voice said: "when you whine about having to drive to your beach house, don't you think you're pretty spoiled?"

she replied (w/out any hesitation, as only your 14 yr old, cheerleader daughter can do and get away with) "of course i'm spoiled and i like it that way!"

that's pretty much the michigan fans' look on life. we're spoiled, we're used to being in the top ten, beating tosu & nd at least half of the time (if not more) and we are going to pitch a fit over anything less.

and frankly, it doesn't stop there. when we do all of the above, we starting pissing and moaning about the 1 or 2 games we did lose and how come we don't throw the ball more on first down, and why aren't we playing for the NC.

and even on the odd year, like '97, when we do win it all, we immediately start complaining about not repeating.

we're spoiled, and we like that way.

BaggyPantsDevil said...


I like your top five, although I still think Texas minus Vince Young is like a Vodka Martini minus the vodka.

Although there's still several question marks for Michigan, my head tells me things should actually fall into place for them this season.

But, my heart, which has been broken so many times in recent years, keeps holding me back. I still need more time to completely heal.

Ben said...

2007 is the year of the Wolverine.

This season is the final merit badge before we earn our real stripes next year.