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August 9, 2012Michigan redshirt junior running back Fitz Toussaint is suspended and may not play in the Sept. 1 opener with Alabama, but that hasn't changed the way the Wolverines are preparing for the game. Offensive coordinator Al Borges isn't ready to install a game plan, but he is using the same method for finding the guys that will start against the Crimson Tide.
That is, when one guy goes down - or in this case, isn't able to show up - someone else steps in.
"We're just going to the next guy. We're not really changing anything," Borges said. "Thomas Rawls is going to be that next guy, Vincent Smith is going to do what he's done and on we go. The key to these situations from a game plan perspective is try and make as little out of it make it the same as much as you can and just go.
"Vince is going to play pretty much the same role he did a year ago. That wasn't always on third down. He was in there sometimes to spell backs, so we'll just see how it shakes out. But Thomas is going to get a good chance, Vince is going to get a good chance. Justice Hayes is in the fold, too. We'll see. This next week or so when we start full contact and it takes hold, we'll learn more about that situation."
Borges hasn't been able to glean much after watching two days of practice without pads, but expects to know more within a week when the hitting begins. For now he's watching kids participate in what he calls "glorified aerobics.
"We've got a few kids running pretty good. We'll know more in a week because we're in half pads. We'll learn even more in pads at the end of the week. To make any hard and fast assessments of where we are is really hard to do right now. We know more about the offense, but we knew that before we lined up. That part of it is better."
He already knows what he has in Rawls, too, given what he accomplished in the spring.
"He's reckless. He runs with a demeanor that's aggressive," Borges said. "That would probably be the best word. He looks like he's mad when he runs sometimes. He's a tough guy. You hit him, you're going to feel him. I promise you that. You are going to feel him. There are times he is just simply not interested in avoiding you."
"Pretty much more of the same with a little more seasoning," Borges said. "He's a tough guy, plays much bigger than his size. You just don't see a lot of guys his height who can go up and get jump balls like he does. He's a very good blocker.
"Every phase of his game should get a little bit better, simply because of his overall understanding of what we're trying to do. But he's a reliable kid, has a quarterback's faith in his ability to go get the ball. They know they'll get his best effort every time he goes up. I would look for him as well as Roy [Roundtree], who had an outstanding spring. Both of them I think have taken that next step. Now I hope we get some carryover once we start playing."
"Those kids worked their butts off in the offseason," Borges said. "They worked together as much as they could. I think that's something that if the chemistry is not there now, it's going to come because I know how important it is to those guys."
"We knew Denard was a good spread quarterback. Anybody could see that," he said. "It was a matter of how much of what he could do of what we'd done in the past. We were always going to have some of that offense. I decided that when I took the job. Once we decided what percentage that was going to be, we could proceed accordingly.
"We have so much better handle on it now, been through a fall, a spring. I know how much we want to be of both. It is different now, without question."
"I would never put a date on it because could change the day before a game," Borges said. "There is a point in time when you have to narrow the field to how many kids are going to practice on the scout teams. It will be some time a week and a half before a game. At that time it's fish or cut bait. You've got to take the 18 or 20 you are going to practice with every day and go from there."