Brady Hoke gave an update shortly after his team got back into workouts, in preparation for the Outback Bowl. The news sounded good on the personnel front.
Hoke noted that the Wolverines who were nicked up at the end of the season did practice, in the first of back-to-back workouts.
"Devin [Gardner] had his ankle [injury], but he was fine," Hoke said. "Denard [Robinson] did everything today."
Hoke would not say if Robinson threw at all in practice, but seemed pleased with the workouts. The Wolverines will practice on Saturday, take days off for final exams, then come back for workouts next Friday and Saturday.
They'll practice the following Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and take off for Tampa on Dec. 23. Hoke likes getting to a bowl site with some time to work, but he noted the Wolverines will be in one location for three days, and the rest of the time at another, so they won't get stale.
"You're getting acclimated to some different weather," he said. "That's part of it. We'll have all the game plan done before we go. It will be an opportunity for them to really do a great job of honing that thing up."
Hoke draws from what he liked at Michigan as an assistant coach in some of his planning, he admitted.
"As an assistant coach, I like a lot of what we did here, especially staring in '97," Hoke said. "I believe in intensity in how you practice, a focus, a pace and a tempo. When you have those things, you're getting a physicalness and execution.
"Instead of being out there for two and a half hours
20 minutes into one thing, they get a little bored. You've got to change it up enough."
The head coach came out of the first bowl workout sounding pleased at what took place.
"It's good to get back to practice," Hoke said. "I thought we practiced with a lot of spirit, pretty physical. They've been doing some lifting and running on the days we've been out recruiting, but it was good to get back.
"I thought we had a lot of intensity and a lot of crispness to what we were doing. We'll go again tomorrow morning. We did some development work for young guys, and we'll do a little more with some of the young guys."
The mention of younger players begged the question of how they're coming along, with Hoke focusing on the group in general rather than mentioning any specific individuals.
"All of them are improving," he said. "You like their knowledge of what we're doing. They lose a little bit of it when they're down on scout team, going off cards. It's good to have them in your meetings, instead of in a scout meeting.
"It brings some fundamental stuff back. Whether it's a movement on defense, or a technique, coverage-wise, or a blocking scheme, it kind of solidifies that back with them."
Michigan will be looking to put together a plan to take on South Carolina, whose defensive front definitely has Hoke's attention. Hoke indicated he needs to see more out of Michigan's run game.
"It always is a focus," he said. "When you can salt a game away by running the football, or establish a play-action game by running the football
they're a tremendous football team. Defensively, their front seven - and that's not slighting their secondary, because they've got five guys with interceptions - is a force to be reckoned with.
"It's going to be a great challenge. That running game is always a big point of emphasis. We'll have to do a lot better."
The Wolverines' most dynamic rusher is obviously Robinson. Hoke noted, though, that in addition to the plusses of putting Robinson and Gardner on the field at the same time, there are some schematic and personnel issues that need to be dealt with.
"There always are," Hoke said. "You want to get playmakers the ball, and you only have one ball. There are obvious tendencies that you can have that will help defenses. You've got to be creative enough in some ways.
"There are some other playmakers on the offense. [Jeremy] Gallon is a guy who has proven things. The way Roy [Roundtree] had played, he's done a nice job. You've got to juggle that. [Devin] Funchess, what do you want to get him used to in the throw game?"
Most of all, Hoke noted, he does not want to overload with new wrinkles coming into the bowl, but: "You always want to make sure you give your team the best opportunity to win."
• Hoke noted redshirt junior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint has a rugged road back from the leg injury he suffered at the end of the season, but that he's taking an optimistic view.
"He's been good," Hoke said. "He knows he's got a lot of work ahead of him. There is a great article on Adrian Peterson, and that's one of his idols, in USA Today, today, about coming back from injury and the mindset. I gave it to Fitz after we met.
"He's got a lot of support. I'm really happy with how everything went. It's going to be a grind, but he's up to it."
• South Carolina, Hoke stressed, will be a handful.
"They're athletic," he said. "They're talented. They've got a suddenness to them, as athletes, on both sides of the ball. They're big up front offensively, very athletic defensively
they have done a good job of running the football.
"They like the zone read still, and he's going to utilize his weapons in the throw game."
• The Michigan head coach would like to see the NCAA allow redshirted players to perform in bowl games without losing a year of eligibility. Asked if freshman running back Drake Johnson would play in the bowl if that were the case, Hoke said: "Maybe. Maybe. We like what Drake's done, to this point."
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