August 12, 2014

Hoke: Gardner is the one

No shock waves rippled through Schembechler Hall when head coach Brady Hoke confirmed fifth-year senior Devin Gardner as his starting quarterback Tuesday night. But Hoke remained in full competitive mode regarding personnel.

Yes, Gardner is the guy, Hoke said. That, like any other position, remains subject to change.

"I would expect him to start on the 30th," Hoke assured. "His communication skills throughout how the offense is run [have improved]. His identification of the different reads he has, either in the run game or the pass game has grown a ton.

"From a mechanical standpoint and the standpoint of preparing every day and coming out there the way he's come out, I'm really excited about him."

Sophomore Shane Morris, Hoke noted, will continue to push and prepare.

"Look, if Devin screws up, believe me, Nuss is quick to…" Hoke said, regarding offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, leaving the implication open ended. "Especially, if it's something he should know, or if it's a repeated mistake.

"Shane gets in there pretty quick. Both of them have gone with the ones. Devin has gone most of the time with the ones, and Shane has gone some reps throughout camp with the ones."

The intrigue over true freshman Mason Cole and his bid to secure a spot on the offensive line continues. It's warranted, Hoke acknowledged.

"If he's good enough, he's old enough," Hoke said. "To this point so far, he's been good enough, when you look at the competition he's gone against, Frank [Clark] and those rush ends, the people he's blocking. He's held his own very well.

"He came in a little differently, and I gave a lot of credit to his high school coach and team, their preparation. He has great passion about playing the game."

Meanwhile, redshirt sophomore Drake Johnson, who sat out last year with injury, continues to challenge hard among a more widely heralded stable to running backs.

"Drake has really worked diligently about everything - how he studies the game, how he approaches the game," Hoke said. "He's a great teammate. You're talking about a guy on special teams.

"You know you're going to get execution from him. As a running back, he picked up things very well within the offense. He catches the ball well out of the backfield. He's got very good acceleration, and a chance to take it all the way because of his speed. He's really just done a tremendous job, in our opinion."


• Hoke indicated his team will run a scrimmage at Michigan Stadium tomorrow. He noted the Wolverines will feature 120 to 130 plays, and will start moving toward clarifying some position competitions.

• Asked about the position battle overall on the offensive line, Hoke tossed out a host of names. He noted Michigan isn't ready to make firm decisions on starters there yet, but that his week will be important in making those determinations.

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