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April 7, 2014

Notebook: Younger Wolverines improving

Nobody wants to hear it, but it's a fact - Michigan is still young in a lot of areas. There were freshmen and sophomores contributing all over the field in the spring game, but also a number of veterans to create what should be a solid blend.

At quarterback, fifth-year senior Devin Gardner will be the starter, but there's talent behind him. He was everything expected in the spring, head coach Brady Hoke said.

"He had a really good spring," Hoke said. "He became more consistent on a daily basis is the best way to put it. [In the spring game] you don't like starting the scrimmage from your black zone throwing a pick, but overall he's shown improvement, command, which includes a maturity about him.

"There's no question he has the urgency. He works at it. He's always been kind of a football junkie, but he's worked at it even more so this spring."

Behind him, though, sophomore Shane Morris has had his moments with his rocket arm.

"He's getting better every time he goes on the field," Hoke said. "Sometimes that's making a mistake you learn from that can get you better, but we're very comfortable how he's progressed through 15 practices. He's a long way away and we're a long way away from the team we need to be, but we're much more comfortable with him."


  • Morris isn't the only young guy playing well. Freshman wide receiver Freddy Canteen has been outstanding, and left tackle and true frosh Mason Cole was running with the ones Saturday.

    "He's a lot like Freddy, his program and high school coach and how he's been developed - you can see that in a variety of programs, but he has a confidence about him," Hoke said. "He's athletic. Nothing seems really to faze him. That's kind of unique."

  • Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will need time to implement his system, and Hoke preached patience.

    "He's done an excellent job with the teaching part of it, the details," Hoke said. "Obviously he's here because we think he's an awfully good football coach in all areas. It's been a lot for the kids, and we've put them in a lot of uncomfortable situations through spring. We've asked them to learn a lot and see what stuck a little bit. Today we didn't do a whole lot either side of the ball, but the offensive staff, he's done a nice job. We need a lot of improvement, but the way it's being taught is good."

  • The SAM linebacker competition is ongoing.

    "Royce Jenkins-Stone and James Ross, Allen Gant, it's a great competition," Hoke said. "They've got to be consistent. Royce has done a really terrific job playing the position. It's a new life for him and he's done a really good job, going to be important to this football team.

    "Jake Ryan sliding inside still some has things he needs to clean up a little bit, but he can go from sideline to sideline and that's what we wanted."

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