The Wolverine

June-July 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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14 THE WOLVERINE JUNE/JULY 2017   INSIDE MICHIGAN ATHLETICS U-M cornerbacks coach Mike Zordich admits he's never had a group of cor- nerbacks as young as the one he'll put on the field this fall. At the same time, he likes what he's seen from his group. He talks about them in this Q&A: The Wolverine: What's going to deter- mine who sees the field this fall among the first-year starters, and what's the strength of the group? Mike Zordich: "We play a lot of DBs, and they've all got to do the same thing — cover. It definitely is a fast group … I see it as they're learning to be fast. They're fast running laps, they're fast running all the 6 a.m. stuff. They're fast competing in that fashion … no doubt, it's a fast group. "But when they're learning and run- ning, it's a little different. They're think- ing instead of reacting, so the brain is slowing down the feet. When they get this, we're going to be very athletic and fast." The Wolverine: Sophomores Lavert Hill and David Long are still the pre- sumed starters, but veterans Brandon Watson and Keith Washington both had great spring games and Hill didn't play much. What do Hill and Long need to do to win those jobs? Zordich: "They're very talented young guys. All of them have to learn this isn't a comfortable game, and we've got to be able to play uncomfortable … they're not helping us if they're on the sidelines standing next to me." The Wolverine: Washington was all over the field in the spring game, but he said he's been hard on himself. What's he need to do to earn playing time? Zordich: "Keith has always been hard on himself. He works his tail off. He played quarterback in high school. We brought him over and said, 'We're going to make you a cornerback in a system that plays press man 90 percent of the time,' so it's not an easy thing to do. "It's a tough technique to learn. That's what he's trying to do. I thought he had a heck of a [spring game]. He's come along really well." The Wolverine: Your freshmen, Ambry Thomas and Benjamin St-Juste, should still be in high school. How did they adapt this spring? Zordich: "Let's face it — those kids are really, really good players, so they probably got away with a lot of things they did on their own. Like Jourdan Lewis … if J-Lew did something that wasn't into what we did, you don't fix something that ain't broke. "It's just kind of the same thing. For each guy, you have to tailor certain things they do differently. It's harder coming out of high school. I still believe we're young and talented, but there's quite a ways to go. "Even though they should be in high school, we've got to change their habits. I'm happy, but there's a lot of room for improvement." The Wolverine: What will you do differently, if anything, since you're play- ing with younger guys instead of experienced corners? Zordich: "We're going to do everything we did with those guys — we have to. We play man. We're going to make all the same calls, all the same adjust- ments with those young guys as those old guys, because that's what we do. "We won't stray from what we do. We're going to find the guys that can handle it." — Chris Balas Sitting Down With Cornerbacks Coach Mike Zordich Football Schedules Set For 2018 And 2019 Michigan recently finalized its football schedules for 2018 and 2019, adding a Mid- American Conference school and a service academy to the lineup. The Wolverines begin on the road at Notre Dame a year from this September, in a re- sumption of that series. Here's how the entire year plays out: 2018 SCHEDULE Sept. 1 at Notre Dame Sept. 8 Western Michigan Sept. 15 Southern Methodist Sept. 22 Nebraska Sept. 29 at Northwestern Oct. 6 Maryland (homecoming) Oct. 13 Wisconsin Oct. 20 at Michigan State Nov. 3 Penn State Nov. 10 at Rutgers Nov. 17 Indiana Nov. 24 at Ohio State The Wolverines' road games appear man- ageable, with the finale at Ohio State by far the toughest challenge. The home schedule is loaded, including the conference opener against Nebraska, along with Wisconsin and Penn State coming to town. Here's the slate for 2019: 2019 SCHEDULE Aug. 31 Middle Tennessee State Sept. 7 Army Sept. 21 at Wisconsin Sept. 28 Rutgers Oct. 5 Iowa (homecoming) Oct. 12 at Illinois Oct. 19 at Penn State Oct. 26 Notre Dame Nov. 2 at Maryland Nov. 16 Michigan State Nov. 23 at Indiana Nov. 30 Ohio State The 2019 slate shapes up as a very different look for the Wolverines. They play a pair of should-win non-conference games before an extremely early bye Sept. 14, the first of two. They open the Big Ten schedule with a very tough road trip, to Camp Randall Stadium in Wisconsin. Following home games against Rutgers and Iowa, they experience a poten- tial pitfall stretch — road games at Illinois and Penn State, a home contest versus Notre Dame moved in the heart of Big Ten play, then a road contest at Maryland. Rivalry games against Michigan State and Ohio State highlight the November schedule. Zordich described his young cor- nerback group — which has two sophomores projected to start, plus two freshmen competing for playing time — as very athletic and fast. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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