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Days before Michigan’s first game, a neutral site tilt vs. Florida in Arlington, Texas, cornerbacks coach Mike Zordich wasn’t feeling great about his group. Other than sophomore Lavert Hill, he said, his young Wolverines had work to do.
Sophomre David Long took it to heart. He’s since raised his game to new heights through three games.
“I just kept pounding away,” he said. “My progress wasn’t where the coaching staff needed to to be. I kept working, didn’t let that discourage me. … They’re supposed to coach me and be hard on me, so I progressed as the weeks have gone on.”
An old friend helped him, too. Cornerback Jourdan Lewis, now a rookie with the Dallas Cowboys, has checked in on his friend frequently. The two talk four or five times a week, and Lewis called after Saturday’s win, as well.
“He’s a good role model for me, somebody I look up to,” Long said. "He said whatever level you’re at, it’s just football. Focus … you can’t let outside noise get to you. If you make mistakes, you’ve got to get in there and battle back.
“He’s really a great guy, helped me a lot when I got here. Just relaxing, playing, just keeping a level head out there. At corner you’re out there on an island, but you can’t get worked up. Stay calm on the outside, everything else will work itself out.”
It will be a challenge Saturday at Purdue. The Boilermakers like to air it out and throw it around, and though the Wolverines will have better athletes on the field, there’s a lot of pressure on the defensive backs.
Zordich has continued to work on it with him; so has defensive coordinator Don Brown.
“Just attention to detail, small stuff,” Long said. “Coach Brown is really teaching me a lot to see a lot, working on my technique to slow things down. Working at the line of scrimmage, being calm at the line of scrimmage. Everything else really is fine.”
He’ll need to be on top of his game Saturday, and he realizes it. It’s a new challenge after spending a week preparing for triple option, but it’s familiar territory.
“We’re getting back to what we usually do. I think we’re comfortable,” he said. “We work on this every week … this is what we do.
“I think they’re a really well coached team, exceptional quarterback, good receivers, great athletes on the outside. We’ve got to stay focused. They’re going to pass the ball around, and we have that in mind.”
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