Michigan head coach Brady Hoke joined The Huge Show's Bill Simonson Monday to talk about spring ball, noting the Wolverines had made significant strides in several areas - and one in particular.
"Defensively, I thought we had a really good spring," Hoke said. "Most of the time the offense is a little behind the defense to begin with, but with the new installation Doug [Nussmeier] did, I think he brought us a long way on that side of the ball.
"We're better mentally. As you know, that's a big part of it. From the perspective of leadership, the culture, all those things, that's better. Defensively, we've got a great competition that has really made us better all across the board. We have more players at more positions, more quality. You can see that on defense. We're more aggressive, and we all feel that from a defensive standpoint."
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Offensively, the running backs made strides, Hoke said, while the installation and getting the verbiage down were also positives. The consistency needs to improve - especially up front - but the offensive line was better the previous Saturday than it was in the spring game.
"I wish you could have seen the Saturday before," Hoke said. "We talked about the word consistency and the opportunities for the offense to get into a rhythm. There was definite progress made, and we missed a couple guys with Joey Burzynski, Erik Magnuson and Chris Fox on and off.
"Improvement is coming. Is it where wanted to be? No. At the same time, just going back and looking at every practice this past week, there were a lot of good signs out there, a lot of things we are doing better from all aspects. That's really what excites me. I wasn't particularly excited about what we did in the spring game or scrimmage, but guys are making progress."
Hoke talked about a few when asked to point some out.
"[Frosh quarterback] Wilton Speight showed a lot of promise mentally and physically," he said. "[Frosh receiver] Freddy Canteen, he really came in probably a little more mature than most freshmen, most guys who should be going to their prom. The development of Ryan Glasgow as a nose and Willie Henry and Bryan Mone, another freshman who came in this January, [was encouraging].
"I wouldn't be surprised to see a guy, Mason Cole, at left tackle. He came in January but is much more ahead of the game than a lot of guys, and I thought Ben Braden offensively had a tremendous spring at right tackle, has done a very good job.
Nussmeier, meanwhile, has the command of the room and the attention of the offense, he added, with the quarterbacks responding well to becoming a more vertical team under him this year. An improved running game, ball protection and red zone efficiency will be points of emphasis in 2014.
"You always put pressure on yourself to do the right thing for the program and represent. That's part of competition and how you approach things every day," Hoke said. "You can't handle what people think or say, all that stuff - that goes with the territory.
"But we're very excited about where we are headed and what we've accomplished [this spring]. We're not exactly where we want to be, but I like how our team has responded and handled its business. I don't think there's any doubt [we're close to a championship]. I can say that we've come a long way. Let's put it that way."