July 24, 2013

Hoke talks personnel, injuries

Michigan head coach Brady Hoke appreciates seeing bodies transformed among those he'll rely upon come Saturday afternoons this fall. There's no lack of good news in that area.

Fifth-year senior offensive tackle Taylor Lewan has drawn considerable attention for his ongoing transformation, what he's done with diet and building his body. Hoke initially kidded that he wasn't qualified to assess that area, "because obviously I'm not dieting."

In all seriousness, he urged that Lewan's approach in every area will make a difference for the Wolverines this fall.

"When Taylor made his decision to stay, it spoke volumes for Michigan football and the University of Michigan," Hoke said. "He has improved his game, he has improved his body, he has improved a lot of things. He has great goals, and he's been a tremendous leader for our young guys that we'll have on that offensive line through the winter, spring and summer."

In that sense, Lewan has proven invaluable with Michigan's younger offensive linemen. With new starters destined for the three interior spots, the need for off-season leadership has been considerable. Lewan has filled that role, Hoke noted.

"It's meant an awful lot," Hoke noted. "How he's gone about his business every day, how he's gone about his work ethic and his leadership off the field has been a real positive for a lot of those young guys. None of us are or were perfect.

"He made some mistakes as a young football player at Michigan. He has done a great job of helping those guys understand, you can't make those mistakes."

In terms of body improvement, Hoke likes what has happened even in a few months with early arrivals such as true freshmen offensive linemen Kyle Bosch and Logan Tuley-Tillman. At the same time, he noted the big difference has come among the freshmen who redshirted a year ago.

Projected starting right guard Kyle Kalis stands out as particularly impressive, Hoke noted.

"Kyle Kalis looks entirely different," Hoke said. "His body fat is down, too. He's taken a little bit more of a sense of urgency on how he wants to perform."

It certainly doesn't end there. Hoke wants to see strides, especially on both sides of the line of scrimmage. He's witnessed that development, including in the conditioning of sophomore defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins, who has put in the effort.

"Ondre has really done a nice job this summer, when you look at the physical standpoint, the conditioning standpoint," Hoke said. "We're big into body fat, with comparisons. He's done a tremendous job in that part of it.

"Willie Henry, Chris Wormley, [Tom] Strobel … I could go through those young guys who redshirted a year ago. They've received a lot of attention and a lot of work. They've continued to achieve. Our bodies look totally different they did two years ago.

"The interior offensive like … [Blake] Bars, Kalis, Joe Burzynski, Ben Braden … it's been nice to see all of those guys develop."

Asked what he wanted to see out of the offensive line in fall camp, Hoke didn't mince words.

"I want to see them knock people off the football and finish blocks, and not do it with good humor," Hoke assured.


• Hoke noted that Michigan's quarterback depth, or lack thereof, has made an impact on the schedule of incoming freshman quarterback Shane Morris.

"He came in a little bit earlier than some of the other guys in summer school," Hoke said. "From what I know, I think he's had a good summer to this point. He's done a nice job learning.

"Devin [Gardner] has done a nice job with him. Brian Cleary has done a nice job with him. He'll be in good shape coming into fall camp."

Morris will also get more snaps than the typical freshman QB heading into fall camp, because of the situation.

"I would think so," Hoke acknowledged. "There's no question that he will."

• Fifth-year senior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint should be ready to go when fall camp opens, Hoke noted, although he'll be meeting with medical personnel next Monday to see exactly who is available and who is not.

"He's doing everything," Hoke said. "He's not been held out of anything Coach [Aaron] Wellman and the strength guys are doing. He's ready to go … I don't see anything that will hold him back."

• Meanwhile, redshirt sophomore Blake Countess will be ready from day one of fall camp, Hoke noted. Countess missed all of last season after suffering a knee injury in the opener against Alabama.

"Blake is fine," Hoke said. "Blake is 100 percent."

• Redshirt junior Jake Ryan, who injured his knee in spring football, should be ready to go in October, Hoke reiterated.

"I'm not a doctor," Hoke reminded. "I don't know a whole lot about it. The way he's approached everything, I think he'll be good.

"He's doing a lot. He's running, doing some different things. I don't know how many 90-degree cuts and those kinds of things he's doing, I can't tell you for sure. We're not allowed to be with them."

While Ryan won't take contact in fall camp, Hoke noted he's not just talking about the veteran linebacker being ready to practice in October.

"If he's back, that means he's playing," Hoke assured.

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