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Day 1 of practice for asking questions, Harbaugh says

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Wilton Speight, pictured, Shane Morris and Alex Malzone will be competing at the quarterback position in spring practice.

Ann Arbor — Most of us operate on 12-month calendar, celebrate the new year Jan. 1 and carry on week after week.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh works on a different calendar.

Harbaugh went through his first spring practice Tuesday, and later met with the media. He made clear the process of building a team will take time, but expectations are high.

In his world, Tuesday's practice was the beginning of the year.

"A lot of people think Jan. 1 is the start of the new year," Harbaugh said. "We in football treat the first day of spring practice as the new year."

Harbaugh described the day as every imaginable holiday wrapped into one, then added there are actually two new year's days for a football coach and player, including the start of fall camp.

"It's good to start," Harbaugh said. "You feel like when you start you can lay down a benchmark of where you are; it gives you a place to go forward from, a place to improve from, things to get better at.

"It's Day 1 — we're not really answering questions as much as we are asking questions. What can we do? How can we get better? Where can we improve? Where can we get a mph faster? Where can we get a percent better? We're all in that process right now."

There are 14 spring practices, with the spring game April 4. Harbaugh, who did not plan to watch much film of the team from last season so he has no preconceived notions, said there will be a daily evaluation of each player in every drill.

The specific goal of this first practice is simple.

"Just trying to get better every day," he said. "I know that sounds very simplistic. It's just so simple it might work."

Some of Michigan's issues heading into the spring aren't that simple, particularly the quarterback job. There are seven quarterbacks on the roster, and Harbaugh said all are involved working through a number of individual periods.

But the three quarterbacks vying for the job are Shane Morris, who will be a junior and is the only one with playing experience, redshirt freshman Wilton Speight and early enrollee freshman Alex Malzone.

But, Harbuagh's not in any rush.

"We're not putting a timetable on that," Harbaugh said. "We don't have one to name today. At some point you'd like to think that's clear cut and somebody earns that and it's not close. That's what we'll be hoping for."

He joked when asked about when he might settle on a tentative depth chart.

"Do you want it at some point? When would you like one?" he said, drawing laughter. "Hadn't thought about that at what point a deadline or goal to have a depth chart."

Extra points

According to the spring roster, Brady Pallante has moved from defensive tackle to fullback, and Ross Douglas to cornerback from offense.

Harbaugh wouldn't answer why those changes were made.

"I wouldn't say any moves have been made," he said. "We don't mandate what position a player plays. Some guys are trying out at multiple positions, both sides of the ball. It's too early to say what's going to take place."

... Tight end Khalid Hill and running back Drake Johnson, both recovering from torn knee ligaments, will miss spring practice. Also out is fullback Sione Houma (undisclosed).