Michigan CBs struggling; youth ‘no longer an excuse’

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
David Long

Ann Arbor – Michigan cornerbacks coach Mike Zordich insisted he wasn’t preaching “coachspeak” and did not want to sound overly concerned, like the sky is falling with regard to his position group.

“But there is an eclipse,” Zordich said Monday just after noon, drawing laughs at his media availability. “There is an eclipse, which could be a good thing, right? It could change some moxie.”

The way Zordich spoke about his mostly young group suggested the need for a celestial event to get the cornersbacks' moxie in alignment as the season opener against Florida nears. He said the corners haven’t established themselves fast enough during camp.

“They show flashes,” he said. “I’ll say this, Lavert (Hill), since his injury, has been pretty consistent. You can see him getting better every day. The other guys have shown flashes, they just need to grab it. Somebody has to grab it and run with it and take it. It’s just not happening. Hopefully somebody will in the next five, seven days, because we’ve got to get ready for a game in less than two weeks.

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“We’ve got a game to play in, what, 12 days. They’re working hard. They just got to work hard more consistently and do the right things more consistently.”

It will be an all-new secondary, but Zordich is over the youth angle.

“Certainly we’ve got new faces, I guess I could say young faces, and they’re not coming together,” he said. “I don’t know if they’re afraid to make plays. Again, they have the ability, and they’ve shown the ability. They’ve done it. They’ve done it in live situations out here. It’s just, for them to understand, it has to be on a consistent basis. That is just not happening right now.

“It may just be they don’t understand how to dig a little deeper and find it. Maybe that could be part of the problem, too.”

Zordich assured this wasn’t “coachspeak.”

“No,” he said. “I’m not going to tell a story that isn’t true. Is that fair enough?”

Lavert Hill

He does believe that in the next week, one of the players will snap to it and claim a bigger role. And then the dominos will fall as the others follow along and understand what they need to do on a consistent basis.

“That’s what I think is going to happen. Hopefully someone will read this article,” Zordich said. “But these are the things I convey to them every day. I don’t want to sound alarmed, but just trying to get these guys to move along, because you hear the youth thing, but you know, that’s no longer an excuse.

“You’ve had the spring, now you’re friggin two weeks away from a big game. It’s time to go. I am very confident within the next week one or two of those guys are going to step up.”

Hill, a sophomore, has been the bright spot in the group.

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“He didn’t practice much in the spring,” Zordich said. “We were disappointed about that and we expressed that with him. This summer he really worked hard. Then, unfortunately he gets injured, but he came back and just picked up. Arrow’s going up. Can’t say that about the rest of the guys. Again, you see some flashes, you know they can do it, but they gotta do it every single play.”

Sophomore David Long is one who could take that step this week. Zordich has been baffled why Long hasn’t made that move. Yet.

“That’s probably a question you have to ask David Long, because it’s out there,” Zordich said. “Just go grab it, take it. It’s there for the taking. That’s what we’re trying to find out – why is David Long not running with it? We’ll figure it out.”

Then there’s redshirt junior Brandon Watson. Why isn’t he “there”?

“(He) is the oldest of the group back there, and he’s played and he’s played well,” Zordich said. “But for whatever reason he hasn’t taken the bull by the horns and taken off with it. Really, being the oldest guy back there, that’s what I would think: ‘Hey, I should be in charge back there. I’m going to take this thing, Let’s go.’ But that’s not happening.”

Zordich does believe the corners will make things happen soon enough.

“I’m not concerned,” he said. “I have confidence in myself, I have confidence in those guys.”