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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

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Notebook: Football to hold open scrimmage at Michigan Stadium

Paul Sherman/Daily
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By Jake Lourim, Summer Managing Sports Editor
Published August 6, 2014

The Michigan football team’s Oct. 11 game against Penn State won’t be the only football played under the lights at Michigan Stadium this year.

Head coach Brady Hoke announced Wednesday that the Wolverines will also hold a scrimmage Aug. 16 at the Big House, open to the public.

Hoke hopes that playing at Michigan Stadium and at 8 p.m. will get his team into a game-ready mindset and prepare them for night games this year, including Penn State, at Notre Dame on Sept. 6 and at Rutgers on Oct. 4.

That the public will be able to experience the scrimmage for free is something Hoke is excited about as well.

Hoke said the motive isn’t about not being happy with the team’s recent performance in openers — he noted that last year’s opener, a 59-9 rout of Central Michigan, was one of the Wolverines’ best performances of the season.

“Really, they want to play in front of people, so let’s have them play in front of people,” he said.

Through three days of camp, ahead of next weekend’s scrimmage, Hoke said the team also appears to have undergone a smooth transition from summer into camp.

“We took advantage of the time we could spend with them in the summer, which is new,” Hoke said. “It was good for us that way. Our older guys — if you’re old enough to play, you’re old enough — they’ve done a nice job of being demanding. There’s a nice bond with this team.”

INJURY UPDATE: Michigan won’t start practicing with full pads until Friday, but for now, the Wolverines are relatively healthy.

Junior defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins, fifth-year senior offensive lineman Joey Burzynski and redshirt sophomore running back Drake Johnson are fully participating in practice. ACL tears last year against Minnesota, Indiana and Central Michigan, respectively, ended their seasons.

Hoke said sophomore tight end Jake Butt is progressing well after an ACL tear in the spring. The only recent injury is sophomore defensive back Delano Hill, who broke his jaw in a collision in practice this week.

Michigan hopes to have him back for the season opener against Appalachian State on Aug. 30, but it’s too soon to tell whether Hill could return. He’s doing alternate conditioning, including running and weight lifting, but is not participating in contact drills.

“We’re just not going to put him in there where he’s got a chance of having a contact or collision,” Hoke said.

Hoke also announced Sunday that sophomore wide receiver Csont’e York is suspended indefinitely for an unspecified violation of team rules.

SHUFFLING THE SECONDARY: Hill’s injury has provided the opportunity for some other players to get a few extra reps in the secondary, where the distribution of playing time is still undecided.

True freshman Brandon Watson, an early enrollee last spring, has gotten a number of reps at safety. Junior Jarrod Wilson, who started eight games at safety last season, has also contributed.

Hoke also mentioned sophomore Dymonte Thomas, redshirt sophomore Jeremy Clark and finally redshirt sophomore walk-on AJ Pearson as contributors.

Despite Hill’s injury, top recruit Jabrill Peppers is still focusing on strictly nickel.

“He’s got good recovery skills, so he may take a step the wrong way but he’s got make-up speed,” Hoke said. “He’s physical, and he’s instinctive. Those things all help, but that position — if you’re in a slot, or you’re blitzing him, or it’s just man coverage, or are you going to tweak cover-six a little bit — there’s a lot that’s on his plate.”