The Michigan football team’s lighter scrimmage came with heavy words from Michigan coach Brady Hoke afterward.
The Wolverines only practiced 73 or 74 plays Friday, as opposed to the 126 they ran last week. But this time they played in Michigan Stadium and simulated the pregame experience.
It appears to have had some effect on the coaching staff. For the first time since fall camp started, Hoke named most of the starters.
“(Junior quarterback) Denard (Robinson) is going to be the quarterback,” Hoke said with a chuckle.
It gets better.
Senior Kevin Koger will be the tight end; fifth-year senior David Molk the center; redshirt sophomore Taylor Lewan the left tackle; fifth-year senior Mark Huyge the right tackle and redshirt juniors Patrick Omameh and Ricky Barnum will start at right and left guard respectively.
As for the running backs, the competition seems to be whittled down to two.
“I think we’ll look into this tape a little more,” Hoke said. “(Senior) Mike Shaw’s had a pretty good camp … and (redshirt sophomore Fitzgerald Toussaint) has had a pretty good camp.”
On defense, as already indicated, senior Mike Martin will start at nose tackle.
Redshirt junior Jordan Kovacs will start at safety along with redshirt sophomore Thomas Gordon. From Cass Tech High School in Detroit, Gordon played in nine games, starting four at the hybrid linebacker position, last season.
“(Gordon) had a tremendous summer and that’s why his camp was so good,” Hoke said. “I just think his whole attitude, how he approached the game of football, working out, all those things and he’s really taken a conscious effort.
“He’ll play some stuff in our nickel. Him and (fifth-year senior) Troy (Woolfolk) depending on what unit we have out, they’re both playing some nickel. Thomas is playing basically a dime in another defense. There’s a lot of learning that goes on an he’s done a really good job with it.”
Hoke says he “would think” redshirt sophomore Cam Gordon will start at strong-side linebacker. Middle linebacker appears to be redshirt junior Kenny Demens’ to lose. One of the few areas that is still uncertain is on the weak-side, partly due to injuries.
Junior Brandin Hawthorne missed a few days due to an ankle injury. Freshman Desmond Morgan didn’t participate in Friday’s scrimmage due to injury. Redshirt sophomore Mike Jones is in the mix as well, having played both on the outside and at middle linebacker.
“I don’t know that we have a definite guy,” Hoke said of the weak-side linebacker position.
On special teams, Hoke mentioned that freshman kicker Matt Wile will kick off and probably punt. He noted that both Wile and redshirt sophomore Brendan Gibbons had been doing well kicking the ball but a final decision on the kicking game won’t be made until Wednesday and Thursday.
On the other side of special teams, redshirt sophomore wide receiver Jeremy Gallon has impressed on both kick and punt returns. Hoke also threw sophomore wide receiver Drew Dileo into the mix on punt returns, saying that he’s looking for a guy who will first and foremost field the ball.
Junior running back Vincent Smith appears to be the second kick-return man.
“He’s not afraid to go hit somebody in the face or return the ball,” Hoke said of Smith, who also could be Michigan’s third-down running back.