Michigan is less than 72 hours from kickoff, and head coach Brady Hoke and his staff are still working out Team 135's kinds. The preparation has been good for the opener with Appalachian State, he said Wednesday, though there's still some work to do.
"There are a couple things we are trying to teach every day, good habits you want from a fundamentals and technique standpoint," Hoke said. "That's a goal for us, to play fast and physical every Saturday and with consistency.
"…Yesterday we had some mental errors, a bit too many. We want to make sure we clean those up today. We had a good, physical practice, but we have to clean up mental errors on both sides of the ball."
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, after all, he noted.
Here are the other subjects Hoke broached, and our views:
News: Sophomore tight end Jake Butt (knee) and soph safety Delano Hill (jaw) won't play in the opener due to their injuries. Neither will running back transfer Ty Isaac, still awaiting word on his appeal for a waiver to play early, freshman receiver Drake Harris or [likely] freshman tight end Ian Bunting.
Hoke: "Drake won't play. He's back in practice now, but he's missed a lot of football [due to a hamstring injury]. There's a good chance he'll be a redshirt this year.
"As we go, we'll find out during the year [with Bunting]. Right now we'd like to try and have him take this year and get settled academically and from all standpoints, playing and all those things.
"[Isaac], the waiver got denied initially, and then we appealed. Today is Wednesday. We probably appealed last week, midweek. You don't know how long it will take."
Views: There's lots of good news in there, even if it doesn't seem so.
First, what a luxury to be able to redshirt talents the quality of Harris and Bunting and not be overly concerned about it. Harris will be in line to help replace junior Devin Funchess should Funchess go to the NFL after this year, as many predict. Bunting and Butt will be a great one-two tight end combination next year, and Bunting will still have four years of eligibility if all goes as planned.
Isaac, too, will have a year to study the playbook before he'll see the field, and he'll theoretically have three years left, as well. The stable of backs will be impressive. At this point, it probably makes more sense to plan on Isaac for next year regardless of what the NCAA rules on his appeal and go forth with the running backs who have been in the rotation all fall.
That starts with sophomore Derrick Green, whom Hoke confirmed again would get the nod to start Saturday.
News: Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Maurice Hurst wasn't listed on the depth chart for Appalachian State.
Hoke: "He's on there. He's got a good chance of playing for us, but how many guys do you want to list?
"We're going to start with the guys who are out there first on that list unless they absolutely don't practice the way they need to. "I'm assuming that won't happen. Then we'll kind of take it how the game goes.
"There's a good chance, looking at certain positions - the interior of our front - all those guys are going to play some football for us."
Views: Again, this speaks to the depth the coaches are building at all positions, probably not more apparent than this one. Hurst would have been on the two-deep on many lines of the recent past, and he looked very active in the under the lights scrimmage a few weeks back.
In fact, Michigan is four-deep at both interior line positions, and many of those guys could play regularly. Competition is a beautiful thing.
News: Right guard is still the only unsettled position heading into Saturday's opener, with redshirt sophomore Kyle Kalis battling redshirt junior Joe Burzynski.
Hoke: "That's one position we're still figuring out, because both of them are getting first team reps. Right now, Joe would go with the first team. Kyle, we've had some concern with his back, how those things flare up. We're a little concerned with how much you give him because of that and how much you work [sophomore] Kyle Bosch on that side."
Views: They'll know a bit more in 48 hours, Hoke said, and there's always worry with a back injury. Kalis has been going full speed this week but backs can flare up, he noted.
"I'm not going to get into specifics, but he's fine right now," Hoke said. " I thought he had a really good summer, coming off a good spring. Early fall camp stuff, I thought he did a nice job."
It's clear (here, anyway) that Michigan's best line includes Kalis. If he isn't 100 percent it would be better to rest him for Notre Dame and hope he's healthy.
The question is, where does redshirt junior Graham Glasgow play when he gets back? We're guessing center, replacing redshirt junior Jack Miller, depending on how freshman left tackle Mason Cole does in his first game.
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