Michigan football sets date for spring game; practice starts Monday

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan football has set a date for its annual spring game — and Jim Harbaugh says it will be open to the public this year.

The program announced Thursday plans to hold the game April 2 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, a date confirmed by Harbaugh on the “In the Trenches” podcast.

“Unless we’ve got lightning, which we had one year and we had to move it inside,” Harbaugh quipped. “It’s going to go off that day unless we’re in a (COVID-19) pause — but I think the chances of that are not very likely.

“Even if we have to pause before that, we’ll do the spring game April 2.”

The annual game was held last April at Michigan Stadium, but limited to family of parents and staff due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As virus concerns begin to relax nationwide, there’s an expectation that Michigan will be allowed to return to normal conditions for sporting events.

Meanwhile, Harbaugh said, Michigan will begin its 15-practice spring schedule on Monday, Feb. 21, at Ann Arbor. The team plans to practice three times next week before the school goes on a calendar-dictated spring break, giving players and employees a week off.

Practice will resume on Monday, March 7, with the schedule leading right into the spring game on April 2.

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For the game, the Michigan roster will be split into two via player draft, and Harbaugh says he’s already designated co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Sherrone Moore as the head coach of one team and co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale as head coach of the other.

Moore will then be paired up with Jesse Minter, Michigan’s first-year defensive coordinator, while Clinkscale will be teamed with co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Matt Weiss.

“It’ll be one of those color (rush) things,” Harbaugh said. “One team will be in the all-blues; the other will be in the all maize. And it’ll be a football game. We’ll make it as much like a football game as can be made. Guys get, in some cases, their first chance to ever be in a game in the Big House.”

Harbaugh says he’ll act as commissioner, a tall task that involves organizing the player draft, making the final decision in any and all replay reviews, and perhaps most importantly, taking in all the action.

“The exciting thing, too, is to watch the way the two different teams draft the players,” Harbaugh said. “You get a real feel for who they think is the best quarterback; who they think is the best center. There’s going to be some secondary (battles) — who are the top safeties, really, in the staff’s opinion?

“It’s something that I always pay very close attention to.”

Michigan is coming off a 12-2 season in 2021, when it finally broke through and beat Ohio State, won the Big Ten championship and earned a College Football Playoff berth.

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