Fewer than five months remain before the University of Michigan kicks off the 2005 college football season against Northern Illinois on Sept. 3 at Michigan Stadium.
In the world of major college football, where a Division I national championship is considered the ultimate prize, that's not as far away as it might seem. There's really never too much time to prepare for the next game or even the next season, which makes the final spring practice for the Wolverines significant when they take the field for a two-hour workout today
(1:30) at Michigan Stadium.
It represents the last time Michigan coach Lloyd Carr and his coaching staff will have to work on the field with the Wolverines before practices for the 2005 season officially get under way in August.
Michigan's 2004 season concluded with a disappointing 38-37 loss to Texas in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day. The Wolverines' final spring practice, which is free to the public, allows Carr and his staff one last look at players expected to help lead the way this season.
A rash of injuries has limited the amount of contact during practice. At least a half-dozen players, including offensive linemen Adam Kraus, Jake Long, Patrick Sharrow and Leo Henige, have kept the Wolverines from working at full strength over the course of 15 scheduled workouts. The Wolverines will not scrimmage, but will take part in individual and team drills.
Practice time during spring workouts is considered beneficial. Yet, freshman standouts - quarterback Chad Henne and halfback Mike Hart - played significant roles in the Wolverines' 2004 season. They helped lead the way to a 9-3 overall record and a share of the Big Ten championship. Both have taken part in spring drills.
Henne, who became the first freshman QB to lead his team to a Big Ten title, completed 240 of 399 passes for 2,743 yards and a school record-tying 25 touchdowns. Hart claimed Big Ten freshman of the year honors and was an All-Big Ten first-team selection after rushing for 1,455 yards on 282 carries, including nine touchdowns.
Quarterback Matt Gutierrez, who is coming off shoulder problems, also has taken part in spring drills.
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