Michigan junior running back Michael Shaw should practice Wednesday and is leaning toward playing against Michigan State Saturday, head coach Rich Rodriguez reported Wednesday. Shaw hurt his leg in a Sept. 25 home game with Bowling Green and missed an Oct. 2 contest at Indiana.
"We're optimistic," Rodriguez said. "He didn't do much [Tuesday], but we think he's going to be able to do more today. I'll have more of an answer after today's practice and see how he moves around."
Sophomore Vincent Smith started last week and carried for 80 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown.
Linebacker Brandon Herron is ready to go, Rodriguez said, while running back Fitzgerald Toussaint was held out of Tuesday's practice and remains day to day with a shoulder injury suffered against Bowling Green. He won't play if he doesn't practice Wednesday, though he probably wouldn't have played much anyway against the Spartans given the magnitude of the game and his lack of experience.
• Freshman Carvin Johnson returned as the starting hybrid linebacker/safety at Indiana, but Thomas Gordon played much of the second half. Johnson seemed a bit tentative returning from a knee injury suffered in the first game.
"[Injury and scheme], it was a little bit of both," said Rodriguez. "He did okay. Carvin was a little more hesitant probably because it was his first extended action coming off the injury. I think he'll get better as the weeks go along, and you could tell he had a little bit of rust. But he got in and got some quality reps. There's a lot to build on from there, and he should be even better this week."
• Michigan's receivers continue to impress, having come up with several big plays in the first five games.
"I've been really pleased. Several guys have been in the system three years, and that's really helped," said Rodriguez. "With Darryl Stonum, Junior Hemingway, Tay Odoms and Roy Roundtree, all those guys really understand what we want, and they're healthy. All four of them have made big plays on occasion.
"We've had other guys like Kelvin Grady and Jeremy Gallon come in and give us a lift. We've got some veterans and young guys, and it's a pretty nice mix. The key is those veterans… especially this week, they are really going to get challenged by Michigan State."
• Walk-on Seth Broekhuizen would likely be the first kicker in if the Wolverines need a field goal, Rodriguez reported Wednesday.
"He was kicking extra points and has been very solid," said Rodriguez. "It could depend on the hash and the situation, the wind, what have you. But right now it appears today that Broekhuizen will be the first out there, but we've got a couple more days of practice."
Game conditions and situations could also factor into the decision.
"With the wind, our guys could easily kick 50 yards. Against the wind you probably take 10 yards off of it," said Rodriguez. "Both [Brendan] Gibbons and Broekhuizen probably have similar range as far as kicking, distance wise, depending on the normal conditions. From 45 or 50 with no wind, they can make it there.
"What we'll try to figure out is, is one guy better on one hash or the other hash? Most of these practices they've been very consistent. We're confident. They have to do it in a game, of course, but once they do I think they'll be all right.
"We know going forward, whether it's this game or future games, we're going to have to make some big kicks. I feel confident they can do it."