An estimated 25,000 people showed up to watch Michigan scrimmage under the lights Saturday night, an event that went a bit longer than head coach Brady Hoke expected. The defense generally got the better of the offense, as Hoke thought it might.
The offense struggled to run the ball, and Hoke put part of the blame on the running backs. Sophomore Derrick Green started and got most of the carries, while sophomore De'Veon Smith and redshirt sophomore Drake Johnson also receiver their share.
"There were some negative plays in there we've got to still clean up. Some of it is up front, some of it today we've got to have better vision in the back," Hoke said. "I thought the other night we ran the ball pretty well. Again, though, you can't play well one Saturday and not as well the next. We've got to reach another level with consistency there.
"The defense [was better], and they should be. There are more veterans over there, guys with game experience. The defense always to some degree gets a little ahead of the offense, and it's been like that forever. We need to catch up offensively pretty fast."
His only complaint about the defense was penalties. Pass interference will be called a bit tighter this year, Hoke noted, and some of the DBs grabbed too much and didn't move their feet well.
Beyond that, he was pleased.
"I can't complain about what these guys have done to this point," Hoke said. "We've got two weeks, so it will be good to learn from for everybody. We'll start focusing Wednesday on Appalachian State."
Hoke said he couldn't pinpoint one thing in particular about the offensive line's woes.
"You've got to play with good leverage, be positive with your footwork, your hips have got to be downfield and you've got to finish blocks. It sounds easy, but when you've got a defense that moves a lot, blitzes a lot, it puts a little more pressure on them," he said.
Hoke added he was concerned about all groups, not just the offensive line.
"Do we need to improve still? No question about it," he said. "But the running game, the other day we ran the ball pretty well."
Veteran punter Will Hagerup looked good in his first performance in over a year.
"He kicked very well tonight. We needed to," Hoke said. "I just told all three of them before we went on the field I was disappointed in the week they had, so it was good to see that."
Hagerup had one kick that traveled 70 yards over the head of return man Dennis Norfleet.
Green had a good week to earn No. 1 duty, Hoke said.
"I don't know if any of them, without watching tape, had a good night," he said. "We need to keep improving there, seeing things a little better.
"Drake Johnson can help us a bunch. Justice Hayes caught the ball today out of the backfield well. On a cavity blitz, he stepped up and took on a linebacker and did a great job. They all have their real positives."
Freshman Jabrill Peppers saw plenty of action at cornerback. Hoke wouldn't rule out a starting job for him there.
"The evidence for making decisions is on the film, and it's based on film and production," Hoke said. "He's playing very well. He'll learn some things from today, some man coverage I think he saw. We're competing, and he's doing a nice job."
Safety Jeremy Clark stepped in for injured Delano Hill and played well.
"Jeremy Clark has had a really good fall cam," Hoke said. "We're excited about his progress."
Hill played in portions without contact prior to the scrimmage.
Freshman left tackle Mason Cole is "sometimes the least of my worries," Hoke said.
"He didn't have one penalty, one hold. He lines up against a pretty good guy when Frank Clark is on that side," Hoke said. "He can get off ball and torture you a little bit. Mason is just very consistent."
The defensive line, though, was dominant at times.
"Maurice Hurst and Willie Henry, Ryan Glasgow, Chris Wormley, Matt Godin, Bryan Mone - they've all been pretty active in there," Hoke said. "It's a good problem we have right now. Again, I'm interested to see the tape and if there's some separation, who played that well. I'm excited to see that.
"We want to do a lot of blitzing, bring a lot of pressure and have better coverage with it. We still have a ways to go. Talking about the front, I want to see someone separate. Frank I felt a little tonight, but I told him it's first scrimmage I felt him, where he had some consistency."
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