Monday Quick Hits: Michigan Softball Advances to Super Regional

By · Monday, May 24, 2010 · 2:20 PM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • The Michigan softball team rolled through its regional, beating Wright State once and Notre Dame twice in dominating fashion over the weekend.  Michigan will now host Tennessee, the No. 15 seed in the tournament, in a super regional in Ann Arbor.  Thursday’s game starts at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN.  Friday’s first game starts at 4:30 p.m. on ESPNU.  The second game, if necessary, will also be shown on ESPNU.
  • Michigan’s response to the NCAA over practicegate was expected to be submitted today.  We should hear about the details of the response on Tuesday.
  • Although Michigan and Notre Dame announced a 20-year extension of their rivalry a few years ago, there is no contract making it official.  Dave Brandon wants to make it official at some point, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a game played every single year.  Remember, the rivalry is taking two years off in the future, and honestly, that is something I’d like to see more often.  If the Notre Dame game is going to prevent Michigan from playing in big-time home and home series, then I’d rather play ND every other year or for two years and then take a two year break.  That would give Michigan more flexibility with its schedule and allow for matchups with the big-time programs in college football like Ohio State has been doing.
  • Tate Forcier is excited to play against San Diego State in 2011 because he feels they didn’t show him much love when he was being recruited in high school.
  • Soony Saad, an incoming freshman for Michigan, received the honor of being named Gatorade’s National Soccer Player of the Year.
  • That Big Ten expansion rumor from a couple weeks ago was complete BS, as confirmed by Jim Delany.  Delany also said that the Big Ten is going to stick to its timetable, meaning we shouldn’t expect a sudden expansion announcement to happen this summer.
  • Lloyd Carr’s opinion on Big Ten expansion is that “it’s inevitable.”
  • In addition to some of Braylon Edwards’ former teammates at Michigan, Mark Sanchez, Darrelle Revis, Santonio Holmes, Donte’ Stallworth, and Kerry Rhodes also are scheduled to participate in his charity basketball game at Crisler Arena next month.  Tickets are now available.
  • WolverineHistorian uploaded a video of the trophy presentation after Michigan won the Big Ten title in 2003.  As you’ll see in the video, Chris Perry was happy, to say the least.

2010 Spring Game Recap

By · Monday, April 19, 2010 · 7:42 AM |  Share | 1 Comment 

Going into this year’s spring game, my opinion on the rumblings about how Denard Robinson was legitimately challenging Tate Forcier for the starting quarterback job was that it was nothing more than coach speak intended to push Forcier.  Based on what happened in the spring game, though, those rumblings are not only accurate in saying that there is a quarterback competition, but Robinson actually looked better than Forcier on Saturday.

Granted, just like any spring game you have to remember not to generalize what you saw too much since it was simply one scrimmage/practice and it’s possible that Forcier had an off day and  Robinson was just on his game.  On top of that, there were many players out with injuries and the first-string offense didn’t line up against the first-string defense, so it’s tough to get a great read on how telling this brief look at the team really was.  Even with that said, the spring game does provide a small look at how the team is performing, so although there are caveats with any football-related findings from the event, it is interesting to look back on what we saw.

Offense

The obvious focus for the offense starts at the quarterback position.  Based solely on the spring game, Denard Robinson looked like he should start over Tate Forcier and Devin Gardner looked like he should redshirt his freshman season.  Like I have said, this was merely a brief look at the team, but just how much Robinson has improved since last season is quite amazing.  His passes were crisper and didn’t seem to wobble down the field.  His patience in the pocket was much better, as he didn’t take off at the first sign of a lack of open targets.  Also, his speed and moves were just as great as ever.  Of course, the defense could only down him two-hand touch style, but Robinson still was running circles around defenders on some plays.

Forcier didn’t necessarily look bad or anything, but it was tough to look good compared to how well Robinson played.  Even so, there were indications that Forcier has not improved on some things, such as taking better care of the ball.  Just like last year, Forcier held the ball out there with one hand when he was scrambling around in the pocket.  That was an issue last year that really hurt Michigan against Illinois and Ohio State, and in that regard it doesn’t seem like Forcier has learned to protect the ball.  Other than that there really isn’t much to say about how Forcier played in my mind.  Like I said, he didn’t play that bad; he just didn’t do a lot to impress me compared to Robinson.

The same can’t be said for Devin Gardner, who made his Big House debut on Saturday.  Although Gardner showed flashes of potential on some plays with great passes and exceptional running ability, overall he struggled.  His first snap of the day was a fumble, and his passing wasn’t all that impressive outside of a couple select plays.  Perhaps more concerning than his throwing motion, which is definitely raw and needs work, was that Gardner’s struggles with reading the coverage nearly led to quite a few interceptions.

My guess is Gardner simply had an off day and had some nerves since it was his first game in Michigan Stadium, but right now it seems like he would be better off redshirting in 2010.  All along the hope has really been for Forcier and Robinson to handle the quarterback duties in 2010 to allow Gardner to take a year to develop, and unless Gardner rapidly improves during the summer, that still seems like the best-case scenario for Michigan.

Moving on to running back, I was very impressed with how deep this position looked, and that was without Vincent Smith.  Players like Mike Cox, Fitzgerald Toussaint, and true freshman Stephen Hopkins really looked good, especially Hopkins.  He was running defenders over all day long and seems like a very powerful runner.  Add Michael Shaw and Smith into the equation and the running back position should be very deep this fall.  (Austin White played as well on Saturday, but I think he will probably be redshirted this season.)

Slot receiver is another position that looks very deep.  Roy Roundtree picked up where he left off at the end of last season and put on a show on Saturday, scoring a 97-yard touchdown on a pass from Denard Robinson.  In general he was the top receiver on Saturday, making plays as a slot receiver and downfield as well.  With Martavious Odoms back for another year, Jeremy Gallon and Terrence Robinson ready to get on the field, and Kelvin Grady returning from another stint with the basketball team, slot receiver is really looking solid.

At outside receiver, we got our first look at true freshmen Ricardo Miller, Jeremy Jackson, and Jerald Robinson on Saturday.  We also got to watch Je’Ron Stokes catch a touchdown pass from Tate Forcier.  Darryl Stonum didn’t do anything too noteworthy and Junior Hemingway was out with an injury.  Although the wide receiver position as a whole is pretty deep, I hope one of these freshmen becomes a downfield threat, because Michigan had a tough time completing long passes on Saturday outside of the TD to Roundtree, who simply got wide open in the middle of the field.  Hemingway and Stonum both can be pretty good deep threats, but that’s it at outside WR right now.

There was nothing too noteworthy to take away from tight ends Kevin Koger, Martell Webb, and Brandon Moore.  Koger had one drop if I remember correctly, but other than that there wasn’t anything too noticeable.  Koger and Webb struggled with drops in the latter part of last season, but early on Koger was very good.  If he can play like he did in September of 2009 there should be no doubt about who is the starter at this position.

I didn’t pay a ton of attention to the offensive line, but a lot of younger players were getting reps with the first couple of units.  Part of that was because David Molk and Elliott Mealer were both out with injuries, but it seems like Michigan should have a pretty good two-deep at offensive line this year.

Defense

Just as the general theme with the offense was solid depth, the general theme with the defense was a lack of depth.  That is nothing new, and it’s already obvious that how Michigan performs as a team in 2010 will greatly depend on if the defense is once again a liability or not.  I don’t see the defense being a strength with so many question marks surrounding it, but the key is to not be a liability either.

On Saturday I really didn’t watch the defense too closely (partly because spring games like Michigan’s aren’t designed to favor the defense), but Ryan Van Bergen stood out to me, as he seemed to be putting pressure on the quarterback throughout the day.  I’m sure Mike Martin and Troy Woolfolk would have stood out if they had played, but injuries kept them out.

Special Teams

Let’s hope Will Hagerup is ready to be the starting punter from the second he gets on campus, because Tate Forcier was the best punter on Saturday.  He punted the ball once on a fourth down where he backed up out of the shotgun, and that one punt went much farther than any of the ones during the punting drill earlier in the day.  The actual kickers and punters could barely keep the ball in between the sidelines, and even when they did, the punts were very short.  Jeremy Gallon only got one real chance to catch a punt as a result, and unsurprisingly he dropped it.  It looks like some things haven’t changed in that regard.

The kicking competition is definitely wide open, but that is because a few kickers played quite well on Saturday.  I don’t see Michigan making a ton of long-range field goals in 2010 just based on the distances kicked from on Saturday, but thankfully every kick wasn’t shank like with the punters.  Some walk-ons, a person from the soccer team, and Brendan Gibbons will compete for the starting job at kicker.

Other notes from Saturday

  • The alumni flag football game was once again very entertaining.  Desmond Howard and LaMarr Woodley were two of the coaches, and Woodley was pretty funny, complaining about calls to the refs all game long.  John Navarre, Jermaine Gonzalez, Pierre Woods, and Jimmy King (yes, basketball’s Jimmy King played and even caught a touchdown) were just some of players involved.  Despite not playing a snap, Vada Murray, the captain of one of the teams, was named the MVP of the game, a well deserved honor considering he has been fighting cancer for the last few years.  (Phil Brabbs was supposed to be one of the captains as well, but I don’t think he was there.)
  • I just love how it was 82 degrees and sunny on Thursday and on Saturday it was cold, cloudy, and windy and it even snowed a little bit in the morning.  There was still a pretty good crowd despite the chilly weather (the estimate was 35,000 people, although I thought that was a little low), with both sidelines filling up by the time the actual spring game got started.
  • I personally didn’t have a big problem with the PNC banners that were hanging in each corner of the field.  Yes, it was advertising in Michigan Stadium, but it was for a good cause.  I can understand why people would be against it, but to the douchebag that felt the need to boo every time something about PNC was mentioned, get over it.
  • The fundraiser for Mott Children’s Hospital went very well and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, but did anyone else feel like the interviews with families were a little tacky?  I realize the importance of keeping Mott on people’s minds, but it was awkward more than anything and seemed to hold up the game itself at times.
  • Along those same lines, why was it necessary for Frank Beckmann and Jim Brandstatter to announce the game over the PA system like it was a radio broadcast?  Last year we simply watched the game and then had interviews with players every so often.  That was much better than having to listen to Beckmann and Brandstatter announce every play, which was not only unnecessary, but I bet it was also really uncomfortable for the players who had to listen to the announcers talk about them while they were trying to play football.
  • It’s definitely a good thing Michigan Stadium is getting new FieldTurf before next season, because the new piece of the Block M that replaced what was cut out by vandals was noticeably brighter.  As it turns out, part of that is because the new turf will be “Duraspine,” which is a “brighter and higher quality version of field turf.”
  • It was weird going into the stadium and not seeing the old press box.  The area where the old press box used to be was blocked off, as construction of the new seatbacks is still ongoing.
  • The new speaker system sort of seemed like an improvement, but I think it would have been a good idea to install speakers in both scoreboards for a surround sound type of effect.  That would have also been a good idea in order to be consistent, because the very top of the north scoreboard where the speakers are housed is now covered with a banner that is sort of see through, whereas the south scoreboard is unchanged.
  • There were a lot of football recruits at the game, including Demetrius Hart, who was getting a lot of love from the fans that noticed him.
  • Some members of the basketball team were also at the game with a few recruits, including Isaiah Sykes.

Highlights

Videos

Photos

Friday Quick Hits: Brennen Beyer Commits to Michigan

By · Friday, April 16, 2010 · 9:17 AM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • Canton defensive end Brennen Beyer has committed to Michigan.  Beyer is a four-star on Scout (the only service that has evaluated him so far) and has offers from Louisville, Michigan State, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Stanford, Syracuse, Texas Tech, UCLA, and Vanderbilt, among others.  Beyer is the fourth recruit to commit for the 2011 class, joining cornerbacks Greg Brown and Delonte Hollowell and wide receiver Shawn Conway.  For more on Beyer, check out mgoblog.
  • Tate Forcier’s status for the spring game is up in the air due to his ankle injury.
  • Florida running back recruit Demetrius Hart, who will be visiting for the spring game, has a final three of Michigan, Alabama, and Auburn.
  • The Free Press wrote a good article on the Mealer family and their bond with Rich Rodriguez.  (Shocking, isn’t it?)
  • The NCAA has approved the following rules changes for football: messages on eye blacks are no longer allowed (sorry, Terrelle Pryor, no more supporting dog killers and then making dumb comments about it later), wedge blocks on kickoffs are now illegal (the NFL made that change last year), and starting in 2011, if a player taunts the opponent before crossing the goal line for a touchdown, the score will not count as a result of the penalty (lame).
  • Jon Falk, Michigan’s equipment manager since the 70s, has a book coming out in August.  You can bet that it will have loads of great stories. (UPDATE: A reader on mgoblog found the Amazon link to it.)
  • EA Sports has confirmed that ESPN integration is coming to NCAA Football 11.
  • Ray McCallum Jr. is going to Detroit Mercy to, like Trey Zeigler, play for his dad.
  • Evan Smotrycz answered readers’ questions on UM Hoops.

Thursday Quick Hits: Tate Forcier Has a Sprained Ankle

By · Thursday, April 15, 2010 · 3:02 AM |  Share | 1 Comment 

Thursday Quick Hits: Spring Game Gets a Sponsor

By · Thursday, April 8, 2010 · 1:45 PM |  Share | 2 Comments 
  • PNC Bank is the “presenting sponsor” of the spring game and will specifically sponsor the locker room tours (6:30-8 p.m. on Friday and 7-9:30 a.m. on Saturday) and “Kick for Cash” promotion.  Part of the sponsorship money from PNC will go towards the “Michigan football interactive play area at the new C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.”
  • TomVH has a list of who is visiting for the spring game.
  • Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson are apparently pretty even right now at quarterback.
  • Kelvin Grady and Terrence Robinson are getting some time at running back.
  • Will Heininger has a torn ACL and could miss the entire 2010 season.
  • Vladimir Emilien and Jared Van Slyke might return from knee injuries next week.
  • Check out mgoblog for a full recap of Tuesday’s practice and press conferences.
  • The Michigan Daily profiled Zoltan Mesko.
  • The same restrictions implemented at the Ann Arbor Golf & Outing Club last year for football tailgates will not be changed for the 2010 season.  Lame.
  • Red Berenson did a Q&A with AnnArbor.com.
  • The semifinals of the Frozen Four are going to be played at Ford Field later today.  I will probably tune in for a bit just to see what the setup looks like, but I’m still way too bitter over Michigan not being there because of a BS call to watch for more than a minute or two.
  • After the new basketball practice facility is built and infrastructure work is done on Crisler Arena, Dave Brandon wants to completely renovate Crisler to make it a “modern arena.”  Sounds good to me.
  • The Sporting Blog remixed this year’s One Shining Moment video with Luther Vandross’ version of the song, and it just makes the whole thing a million times better.
  • Evan Turner and five Kentucky players have declared for the NBA Draft.

Numerous Football Players Recovering from Injuries

By · Thursday, January 21, 2010 · 2:35 AM |  Share | Leave a Comment 

Although it’s the offseason for the football team, Michigan is still dealing with quite a few injuries, some of which will cause players to miss spring practice.  A couple of the more severe injuries are already known, but confirmation came from Rich Rodriguez on one that was merely a rumor before Sunday.

Rodriguez said safety Floyd Smith had surgery for a sports hernia and defensive lineman Mike Martin had shoulder surgery and will miss spring practice. Martin is expected to be fully recovered by the summer.

There had been rumors about Mike Martin and a shoulder injury, but nobody was really sure of the severity.  Rodriguez cleared that up with the news that Martin will be out for spring practice.  He is now the third potential starter that will be sidelined during the spring.  Both David Molk, the best returning offensive lineman (and perhaps best offensive player), and Vincent Smith, the leading candidate at the end of last season to become the starting running back in 2010, are out until at least the summer because they are recovering from ACL injuries.

The other recent injury news involves Tate Forcier.  We all know how banged up he was throughout the season, but I don’t know if we realized just how hurt he was.

The shoulder injury Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier played through last season was a slightly torn right labrum, a person familiar with the injury said Friday.

Forcier was diagnosed with the injury when he underwent an MRI while home for Christmas break. He’s rehabbing the shoulder now and doesn’t need surgery, and he’s also recovering from a staph infection in his right knee, the person said.

Those certainly sound like serious issues, but the good news is that Forcier is not going to be out during spring practice.  In fact, he is already participating in team-related activities.

Forcier already is taking part in workouts with the football team and will not miss any spring practice. The staph infection, a MRSA infection, already has been treated, the person said.

As we soon start to look ahead to spring practice, here’s to the currently injured players recovering and the rest of the team staying healthy.  Although there were many reasons why the team collapsed last season, injuries definitely had a helping hand in the rough finish.  In 2010 it will be vital that players like David Molk and Tate Forcier stay healthy.  The entire offense started to go downhill last season after Molk went down, and Forcier definitely struggled the rest of the season after getting hurt against Indiana.  Their health, along with the team’s health in general, will play a large role in how the 2010 season turns out.

Tuesday Quick Hits: Fred Jackson Plans to Return; Adrian Witty Qualifies

By · Tuesday, November 24, 2009 · 4:43 AM |  Share | 1 Comment 
  • Michigan running backs coach Fred Jackson is planning on returning to Michigan next season, according to AnnArbor.com.  There were some rumblings that he would be leaving Michigan, possibly for an NFL job, but as of right now he is set to say in Ann Arbor as U-M’s running backs coach.
  • Adrian Witty has qualified and will be coming to Michigan in January.
  • According to Vincent Smith, Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson aren’t thinking about transferring or anything like that.
  • Although nothing is official, Donovan Warren is apparently planning on coming back for his senior season.  Things could obviously change, but I don’t think Warren’s stock right now is as high as it could be, leading me to believe he will return.
  • Stephen Ross, the owner of the Miami Dolphins and a big U-M donor, thinks Rich Rodriguez deserves more time and that “it will all work out.”
  • There is no new information on the sexual assault investigation other than that the alleged incident happened at Chi Psi, a fraternity on campus.
  • Michigan Stadium is going to get new FieldTurf after next year’s spring game.  The current field was installed back in 2003, and I was noticing earlier this year that it was looking a little worn down.  If you compare how it looked in 2003 to how it looked this past season, you can see the difference just by examining the maize block “M” at midfield.  The “M” is no longer bright maize but instead has a shade of black to it due to the rubber.  Although the field is still in good shape for the most part, I’m guessing Michigan figured that it might as well spruce up everything for when the renovation is complete.
  • Michigan’s search for a new athletic director will be aided by Spencer Stuart, a search firm, and an advisory committee that includes John Beilein.
  • I don’t think I can sum up my feelings about people who sold their tickets to Ohio State fans any better than the Wolverine Liberation Army already did.  It was absolutely disgusting to see so much scarlet in the stadium.  I mean, I know it was bad two years ago, but this was even worse, especially once OSU had the game in check and the “O-H-I-O” chants started.  I realize that OSU fans travels well and the ticket office didn’t exactly make it tough for them to get tickets to the game, but still, quite a few season-ticket holders gave their seats to Buckeyes, and for that all I can really say is screw you.

    Sure, tickets for the OSU game can make you a good amount of money and the team wasn’t exactly doing well coming into the game, but anybody who sold their tickets to OSU fans really ought to have them revoked.  Even if you can’t attend the game, is it really that tough to find a Michigan fan who would want the tickets?  It’s not every day that someone is presented with a chance to go to a Michigan-OSU game, so if you are going to sell them, put in some extra effort and make sure they go to a Michigan fan.

  • Angelique Chengelis wrote a great article that recounted her memories of Michigan’s now-former press box.  The press box was set to start coming down on Monday, and eventually seatbacks will be in its place.  The new press box, which is going to be much more modern and much nicer in general, will replace it officially starting next September.

    I personally spent one game in the old press box back in 2006, and it was definitely a unique experience.  Being so used to watching the game from my usual seats, I gained a new perspective by taking in an easy win over Central Michigan from the press box.  What was really interesting about the whole experience was that that game included the only weather delay in Michigan Stadium’s history.  The timing couldn’t have been better for me, because while the crowd was running for cover and getting soaked by the rain, I was sitting back and relaxing up in the press box.  Like Chengelis said in her article, it has a special feeling of history and tradition, but I can tell you from my one afternoon in the press box that it definitely needs to be replaced by something more modern and more spacious, which is exactly what the new one will be.

  • MVictors has a bunch of pictures and videos from down on the field before Saturday’s game, including a shot of Brandon Graham walking out onto the field with his mom and dad.
  • Cornerback recruit Cullen Christian is going to announce his college decision today at 6:30 p.m., and based on his reaction to visiting Michigan this past weekend, I would expect him to verbal to the Wolverines.
  • Tony Jefferson, ESPN’s top athlete recruit in the nation, really enjoyed his Michigan visit.
  • Maize & Blog has an interview with Michigan commit Kenny Wilkins.
  • Former Michigan basketball player Chris Hunter has been called up to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.
  • Despite persistent rumors that Urban Meyer might go to Notre Dame when Charlie Weis is inevitably fired, Meyer again denied that he will leave Florida.
  • Jimmy Clausen was involved in some sort of altercation early Sunday morning that left him with two black eyes.  According to Joe Schad, Clausen was allegedly sucker-punched by a fan, but it seems like there are different versions of what happened out there and not everything is adding up.
  • Members of the Michigan State football team were allegedly involved in a nasty-sounding brawl.

Thursday Quick Hits: Minor Doubtful for Saturday; Other Injury Updates

By · Thursday, November 19, 2009 · 2:35 PM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • Brandon Minor is doubtful for Saturday’s game because of a shoulder injury that has been bothering him in recent weeks.  It figures that even though his ankle injury is finally better, he may not play because of a different injury.  I’m sure nothing would keep Minor off the field on Saturday if it was his decision, but Rich Rodriguez explicitly said yesterday that whether or not he plays will be up to the trainers.
  • On the bright side, it looks like Carlos Brown will not be limited on Saturday, or at least that’s the hope.  Brown has been cleared to play already and barring any setbacks, I’d pencil him in as the starter if Minor can’t go.  We will probably see more of Vincent Smith like last week, but if Brown is healthy and Minor isn’t, Carlos should be the starter.
  • It also looks like Martavious Odoms will play on Saturday.
  • Brandon Graham and Mark Ortmann called a players-only meeting before practice on Monday.
  • The 1969 Michigan football team that beat Ohio State will be honored at Saturday’s game because it is the 40th anniversary of the 24-12 win.
  • The Michigan-Ohio State game is being moved to the Saturday after Thanksgiving starting next year, and Jim Tressel isn’t a fan of the change.  I’m not, either, because I’d much rather see the game be moved to the last week of the college football season.  Having it the Saturday after Thanksgiving will be an issue for many students, especially ones who are out of state.  I definitely want to have a bye at some point during the season, but the Big Ten ought to give everyone the week of Thanksgiving off and end the season with the rest of the nation in the first week of December.  That would give teams a bye during the main part of the season and another week off right before their last game.
  • The uniforms Ohio State is going to wear on Saturday are even uglier in video form than they were in picture form.
  • Michigan players understandably aren’t too fond of Justin Boren.
  • Sean McDonough and Matt Millen will be the announcers for Saturday’s game.
  • The chances of Rich Rodriguez making changes to his coaching staff this offseason aren’t very likely.
  • Mary Sue Coleman let Rich Rodriguez know earlier this week that she is 100% behind him.
  • Rodriguez called Tate Forcier into his office with a dictionary in hand to let him know the difference between an argument and a lecture, which is in reference to Forcier saying that the two got into an argument last week.
  • Donovan Warren is going to look into going pro after the season is over.
  • MVictors has a recap of Jamie Morris’ interesting interview on a Columbus radio station.
  • Devin Gardner highlights from last Friday can be found over at mgoblog.  Inkster is now one win away from reaching the state finals.
  • Also at mgoblog is a list of visitors for the OSU game.
  • Manny Harris is one of the Big Ten Players of the Week.
  • You can go to tomorrow night’s basketball game for $1 if you donate 2 non-perishable food items.
  • Carl Hagelin and Luke Glendening have been named alternate captains by Red Berenson.
  • Mike Babcock was at last Friday’s hockey game at Yost.
  • Minnesota’s new stadium is actually going to be in the next NCAA Football game.
  • Northwestern’s Kevin Coble and Jeff Ryan are both out for the season, which will make for a tough basketball season for the Wildcats.
  • Purdue’s Lewis Jackson is out until February at the earliest, which is a big blow to the Boilermakers.
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