Michigan sophomore defensive end Frank Clark missed the opener with Alabama after being suspended indefinitely following an offseason arrest, but he's back on the team. He'll remain on the squad, head coach Brady Hoke confirmed Wednesday.
"Frank Clark's situation hasn't changed and won't change," Hoke said. "The judicial system - he's paid for that, and he's paying a pretty heavy price with us. He's a teammate and made a bad decision that is not what we want, but he is a teammate and he's part of our family."
Clark will play Saturday against Massachusetts and beyond. Two who won't - tight end Brandon Moore and sophomore defensive end Brennen Beyer, both out with injuries. Defensive tackle Richard Ash practiced a bit with the team yesterday, but his status for Saturday remains in doubt.
"Brandon is getting better. He just got twisted up a little bit with his knee, a little sprain," Hoke said. "He hasn't done anything on the field with us yet, but trainers feel he's healing up and Brandon thinks he's feeling better.
"Brennen is out this week, but we're hoping to get him next week. We don't know for sure yet."
The rash of injuries has been flukish, Hoke added.
"It's one of those years. Last year we were looked upon pretty well, didn't really have any injuries until late in the year," he said. "I think Beyer's was the first - he missed Ohio. Will Heininger with his foot and ankle, David Molk with his foot …
"From a medical standpoint, development and all that stuff, [strength coach] Aaron Wellman, as much as you can do preventative - he does more than anybody I've ever been around of the different things you do. He has studied it unbelievably."
The injured remain involved in all team meetings and alternate conditioning.
Offensive line making strides
Hoke said Monday it was too early to be concerned about the offensive line's inconsistent play. On Wednesday, he evaluated a few on the line.
"Eliott Mealer, he is really settled in. I think he has a presence about him in there at center," he said. "One thing he wants to do a little better job with is some pad level at times, keep finishing on jobs, but he's really been consistent in what we ask him to do."
Michael Schofield continues to adapt to his right tackle spot from left guard.
"Mike's football intelligence helps, because it is different," Hoke said. "It can vary when you play an even front team where the guards are covered, or an odd front team like last week where the guards aren't covered as much … all those things tend to make it a little hard from week to week. When you get to the fundamentals and technique of drive blocking, combination schemes, whatever, they're all pretty much the same.
"He wanted to help the team [by moving]. He was all in. He, like the whole lot of us, has to improve, has to get a little better finishing blocks, but you could say that about everybody on our team. You've got to finish plays, whether it's a defensive lineman, the backside corner on pursuit, the receivers downfield harassing guys in the secondary. He's not alone."
Right guard Patrick Omameh had a good fall camp and it's carried over, he added.
"He was physical the first week, last week he continued - there was a little movement stuff which was different," he said. "There were 35 man pressures they ran. It keeps you technique-wise and fundamentally conscious of it."
The cornerback rotation will continue to be determined by competition in practice.
"They're kind of evaluated every day," Hoke said. "If you have a bad day around here, it's pretty easy to get shipped to the second or third team, so with Blake Countess not being there, J.T. Floyd has to step up. That's important.
"Courtney Avery and Raymon Taylor and even Delonte Hollowell are all competing, and Terry Richardson is getting some reps in there. That will continue to be a competition on a weekly basis. If one guy is the starter consistently, he's done a good job competing."
Fifth-year senior receiver Roy Roundtree continues to impress despite being limited in the offense.
"Every day starts with practice, comes in here to get better no matter what it is," he said. "Roy as a senior values that leadership. We value it on the field, work ethic, practice-wise, he's as good a anybody. Game-wise, the way he'll get on a corner or a safety, all those guys are pretty good blockers, but he finishes those most of the time. He's a good leader … He loves this football team and his teammates. He's well respected because of that attitude."
Hoke called Michigan's practice intense, adding they should be given how much there is to improve upon.
"We came out with the right attitude. We've got to follow that up again today," he said "We have to play really good defense when we're out on the field. That's first and foremost. Winning time of possession is a goal of ours in every game, and turnovers - we've gotten one defensively and we've turned it over four times. We've got to be on the other side of that ledge.
"We'd like some consistency running the ball not just with Denard, but the running backs. That is so critical for us as a team, getting in a little bit of a flow."
Hoke likes the freshmen who haven't played, but doesn't foresee any others playing unless they lose a few at their positions.
"We have three defensive linemen who are going to be pretty good players, and the guys on the front line offensively. Jehu Chesson is a good player, the safeties. They're good players," he said. "They've all done a nice job."