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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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Notebook: Series with Washington announced, battle for right guard

Allison Farrand/Daily
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By Greg Garno, Daily Sports Editor
Published August 20, 2014

The Michigan football team announced Wednesday that will hold a home-and-home series with Washington in 2020 and 2021.

The Wolverines have not played the Huskies since 2002 — when Phillip Brabbs kicked a game-winning 44-yard field goal as time expired. Michigan will travel to Seattle in 2020 before hosting the following year.

“We are excited to rekindle a rivalry that has showcased some great games and great teams for both programs,” said Michigan coach Brady Hoke in a statement. “There have been some exciting, down-to-the-wire football games between Michigan and Washington and we anticipate the same type of contests when this series is played at the outset of the next decade.”

It’s the fifth time the teams have played a home-and-home series and will be their 13th and 14th matchups. The Wolverines hold a 7-5 all-time record against Washington.

The series will be one of five to help replace the rivalry with Notre Dame, which is set to end this year in South Bend.

Michigan is slated to play Virginia Tech in a home-and-home in 2020 and 2021. It’ll take on Arkansas in 2018-19, UCLA in 2022-23 and Oklahoma in 2025-26.

SWEATING OVER RIGHT GUARD: Hoke has heard the question before: Who is starting on the offensive line?

And he’s given the answer before.

Freshman Mason Cole will start at left tackle, redshirt sophomore Erik Magnuson at left guard, redshirt junior Jack Miller at center and redshirt sophomore Ben Braden at right tackle.

But at right guard? That’s still up in the air.

Hoke said there’s competition. He noted that fifth-year senior Joey Burzynski, redshirt sophomore Kyle Kalis and sophomore Kyle Bosch are seeing reps. At Saturday’s open scrimmage, redshirt junior Graham Glasgow also saw time at right guard.

Kalis returned to practice earlier this week after he injured his back, and Glasgow, normally a center, will be suspended for the first game of the season.

“I think we have an idea, but I don’t think we’re set at that right guard position,” Hoke said.

And no matter who plays, there are still “holes” to fill following Saturday’s scrimmage, according to Hoke.

“We still have to move the line of scrimmage better and that’s a constant that we’ll have,” he said.

NARROWING THE FIELD: Speaking of finding a starter, Hoke is one step closer to figuring out who his starting running back will be.

Wednesday, Hoke said sophomore De’Veon Smith and Derrick Green are battling for the starting spot while redshirt sophomore Drake Johnson and redshirt junior Justice Hayes will battle for a third-down back.

Smith and Green are nearly identical in running style, and neither one has emerged with a considerable edge.

“Not that I have noticed yet,” Smith said. “Right now, we’re pretty much even.”

And Green is taking it all in stride but hopes that whoever doesn’t start will still see time.

“Whatever happens, happens,” Green said. “Coach is going to put the best man on the field. If it’s not me, it’s not me. If it is me, that’s great.”

WAIT, REALLY? Michigan fired offensive coordinator Al Borges in January, and then replaced him with Alabama’s Doug Nussmeier. Players have said that the offense is simpler and the practices more intense.

But the difference could be even starker.

Devin Gardner on SiriusXM: "Before coach Nuss got here, I never had to identify a MIKE ... now I know where pressure's coming from."— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) August 20, 2014