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August 29, 2012
Hoke: Still no announcement on Toussaint, Clark
Michigan head coach Brady Hoke still won't announce if formerly suspended running back Fitz Toussaint and defensive end Frank Clark will play Saturday against Alabama. He's also not certain if he'll allow them to travel with the team if he doesn't plan to play them.
Hoke also confirmed sophomore Thomas Rawls was nursing an injury over the weekend that kept him out of a few practices, adding Rawls would be ready to play Saturday.
"Vince Smith, then Thomas, Justice Hayes. Any of the three, but they have all gotten lot of reps, and Fitz has gotten a lot of reps," he said. "It could be by committee, who gets hot or how we're playing."
He listed Smith first because "he's the oldest guy," Hoke added.
Toussaint and Clark are no longer suspended. They wouldn't be practicing if that were the case, Hoke noted.
Other notes from Wednesday's press conference, Hoke's last before Saturday night's kickoff in Arlington, Texas:
"They have given a lot to Michigan and Michigan football. I think it's only fair when we have them available at the time to reward those guys," Hoke said. "We wanted to make sure we acknowledged them when we had the opportunity. Every year's different, depending on what you have, what you're going to do midyear and all that.
"It's an expensive deal for some of them. Burzynksi's from San Diego, out of state. You can imagine the price he's paying to be a guy who loves Michigan and wants to be part of Michigan football. That was fun to announce it in front of the rest of the team. There were hugs, excitement, all that stuff."
"It was okay, not as sharp as I would want it," he said. "We got a lot done, but at the same time, you're into a Tuesday, so it's a big work day. We've been working on Alabama for at least four days now. There are a couple formation things, a little bit of communication from a defense standpoint we need to do a better job with."
Playing Alabama is both a challenge and an opportunity, Hoke said, noting he loved that his team was playing in the game. They'll treat it like a typical road game, he said, relying on the seniors to keep the freshmen grounded on their first travel away from home.
"We talk about staying into football, staying in the game. The one good thing about playing football at the University of Michigan is it's not their first time around," he said. "We have a core group that played in a BCS bowl game and handled it well in Louisiana in the Sugar Bowl.
"You've got some young guys, and those are the ones that travel's a different intensity, business like - how we travel is a little different maybe than it was in high school. Those are some of the things you hope your leadership really does a nice job of defining to those guys what this is all about."
"Kicking, catching punts, kickoffs - we'll practice like we do, do quite a bit," Hoke said. "We believe in breaking a sweat, doing some things that are going to be productive in getting us ready to play."
He expects to get outside for walkthroughs, too, though the temperatures are expected to reach 100 degrees in Arlington over the weekend. The dome roof will be closed for the game.
"The more you watch him, the more you love him as a quarterback,"Hoke said. "He's decisive, does a nice job going to the right guy, has good touch on the ball, he can make all the throws. In the pocket, he feels it - he's elusive with it. He's a heck of a quarterback. You'd expect that from a national championship team."
When Hoke thinks of head coach Nick Saban, however, he thinks about defense.
"I love watching them play defense, coach defense," he said.
"His timing, everything a quarterback in the offense has to do," Hoke said. "He's always had a pretty good arm, can make all the throws. Part of that timing is probably maturing a little bit, knowing the offense a little better. He ran an offense off a card last year during the season. That's always hard, but he did a great job with it."
"He played much more physical, a faster pace, quicker tempo," Hoke said. "The other part of it, he's a smart guy. He can be multiple in what he does. That's important, like Jibreel Black. He's multiple in what he can do. It's important to have that on your football team."
"Everything went well," Hoke said.
Hoke on matchup concerns for Saturday's game: "There are lot of matchups that we're always concerned about. They start up front on both sides of the ball."