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August 8, 2013

News and Views: Hoke talks practice day before pads

Michigan's practices continue to be physical despite the absence of pads, something that changes tomorrow when the team goes from skelly (shoulder pads and helmets) to all out battle. Head coach Brady Hoke touched on a number of subjects after today's practice.

Here's the breakdown and our take on it:

News: Redshirt sophomore SAM linebacker Brennen Beyer and true freshman running back Derrick Green were nicked up yesterday in practice.

Brady Hoke: "Beyer's got a little boo-boo and so does Derrick, but they'll both be fine.

"It always makes it more difficult when you lose reps - just experience, terminology and everything else. Even though that's a lot of meeting work and walkthroughs, whatever - that's always important for a young guy."

Views: Hoke said he expected both Beyer and Green back in the lineup by Saturday's first two-a-days. Redshirt freshman Allen Gant has gotten second reps behind fifth-year senior Cam Gordon and has progressed well after moving from safety.

The biggest concern about Green (besides missing reps, pass blocking technique, etc.) has been his weight. He checked in at 240, but he'll likely lose five or 10 pound from the rigors of camp alone, and Hoke wasn't concerned. Nor should he be.

"I haven't seen him enough, but that was okay," he said. "I think 240 is fine. Some guys always lose during camp. Ondre [Pipkins] is up a little, so he's got to get down. But the bodies change with physical-ness. We'll get better."

U-M coach Brady Hoke from The Wolverine on Vimeo.


News: The receiving corps is impressing in the early going.

Hoke: "They're doing a good job - all of them are doing a good job. Jeff [Hecklinski] does a nice job coaching them up on the little things."

Views: Some close to it say the receivers have been extremely impressive so far. Granted, they haven't been pushed around like they will be in pads, but the young guys at receiver and the tight ends alike give quarterback Devin Gardner plenty of weapons. This could be a very good corps.

Gardner told us in Chicago he asked sophomore Amara Darboh every day if he was ready to be an All-American. That's how much faith they have that Darboh could be the next Michigan great. Both he and redshirt frosh Jehu Chesson have proven they can stretch the field, offensive coordinator Al Borges said yesterday.

News: The starting safeties, sophomore Jarrod Wilson and fifth-year senior Thomas Gordon, are developing a rapport and are versatile in their roles.

Hoke: "Jarrod does a nice job communicating. He's smart, great intelligence. He and Thomas have worked really good back there together, and [redshirt frosh] Jeremy Clark is getting better, making progress, taking a little step from where he was in spring."

Views: Forget about the terminology, free safety, strong safety, etc. The coaches are experimenting with what each guy does best and will put them in position to succeed. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said yesterday Wilson had gotten much better at disguising defensive.

"We played Jordan [Kovacs] down low most of the time even though it may have been the free safety position because of the way he could support," Hoke said. "As we get close to the season, we may do that with Thomas and Jarrod. They are both physical guys, which helps, and not bad cover guys."

There's not a ton of depth behind them, however, so keeping them healthy will be key.

News: Freshman quarterback Shane Morris had a good day, making "three or four really good throws" according to Hoke.

Hoke: "When you know the guy you're expecting to start the season with, in some ways you can give a few more snaps to the competition for who is no. 2. The biggest thing with Russell [Bellomy] out, it has prodded his progress a little bit. He's probably getting more snaps than he would have if Russell was in."

Views: Morris was nervous early, according to some of his teammates, but he's got the arm and just enough cockiness to believe he's No. 2 - and he might well be. Walk-on Brian Cleary has had some moments, too, but is something were to happen to Gardner (God forbid), Morris might well put himself in position to be the back-up.

News: Both corner Blake Countess and running back Fitz Toussaint show no signs of being slowed by last year's injuries.

Hoke: "Fitz is doing everything. I can't see him shying away from anything. Cutting, running - I think he looks fine."

Views: Countess has been outstanding, according to teammates, and Toussaint is on a mission to prove he's the No. 1 back. Gardner said he was "playing with a chip on his shoulder."

The view here: that's good news (why we get paid the big bucks).


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