Michigan cornerbacks coach Mike Zordich doesn't know why his corners played poorly at the start of the Notre Dame game. Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News
Ann Arbor — Michigan cornerbacks coach Mike Zordich has never been one to skirt questions and offer flimsy excuses.
Zordich is always cut and dry and as frank as they come when discussing his players.
So when asked his assessment of the corners play during the 24-17 loss in the season opener at Notre Dame, Zordich, as usual, didn’t pull any punches.
“I would say for the first quarter, pretty bad,” Zordich said Wednesday. “After that they settled in and played well.”
The Wolverines knew they were going to have to cover a couple of towering Notre Dame receivers and Zordich assures the cornerbacks were incredibly well-prepared. But at the start of the game, that was hard to tell.
They got burned early on several big plays, including on third-and-long situations. Zordich still can’t put his finger on exactly what happened.
“I knew that it would never have happened,” he said. “I have no idea what happened. The simplest thing, the first third down, things we do 15-20 times in practice, didn’t do it. Why? I have no idea. Next play, Vert (Lavert Hill) looks like he’s never covered a guy man-to-man. In fairness, the kid made a great catch anyway. You’ve got to learn from it. That was a tough one to follow.”
Hill got beat on a 28-yard pass during Notre Dame's opening scoring drive.
Zordich was asked what he said to Hill after that play.
“Not a damn thing,” he said. “Go play the next play. That’s what we preach all the time. They’re going to make catches, they’re going to do that. So just dust yourself off and play the next play.”
Zordich said the early game issues were not a function of the Irish picking on Hill.
“Those are big receivers,” he said. “They knew they were going to try to be physical with our guys at the line of scrimmage, which they were. Give them credit. Early on, they did very well especially in that play against Vert. But I think after that, I don’t think Vert gave up much. It was early and he didn’t get a good feel for it and they caught him. Hats off to them.”
Coaches are competitive, obviously, but Zordich wears his on his sleeve.
Was his group prepared?
“Oh my Lord, yeah. Unbelievably prepared,” Zordich said. “It’s frustrating today to talk about it because of how well prepared we were.”
Bob Wojnowski, Angelique S. Chengelis and Matt Charboneau preview Week 2 games: Michigan vs. Western Michigan and Michigan State vs. Arizona State. The Detroit News
The cornerbacks and the defense as a whole improved in the second half. Michigan allowed 69 yards and three points.
The takeaway for Zordich is that while there clearly were issues to clean up, there also were positives. There’s always a fine balance between heaping too much blame and not enough. The corners watched the film, mistakes were pointed out and then Zordich praised the good going forward as they prepare for Western Michigan.
“As a coach you have to focus on what you saw to correct," Zordich said. "But yes, you have to look at how they came back and they played well, they really did. You have to compliment them on that but just try and figure out why that happened from the first place.”
Western Michigan at Michigan
Kickoff: Noon Saturday, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor
Records: Western 0-1, Michigan 0-1
Line: Michigan by 27.5