Throughout the Michigan football team’s fall camp, Michigan coach Brady Hoke has continually preached one thing — consistency.

“The defense will be good one day, and the next day the offense is good,” Hoke said after practice on Tuesday. “There’s gotta be more consistency when you look at both sides of the ball.”

It should come as no surprise, then, why Hoke said senior Michael Shaw would be the lead back if the Wolverines’ season started today.

Shaw simply has done what his coach has asked.

“I think he’s more consistent on a daily basis,” Hoke said. “I think that’s what he really shows the most, and I think he’s improved a little bit.

“Coming into it, I think (running back coach) Fred (Jackson) would have told you he’s a little concerned about the passing game and the protection in the passing game, and I think (Shaw) has improved in that part.”

But Shaw doesn’t have the spot completely locked up yet. Hoke said several times that nothing is set in stone, and even after this weekend — just a week before Michigan’s season opener against Western Michigan — the depth chart at any position could change.

And Hoke also had positive things to say about a few of his other running backs.

“I think (redshirt sophomore Fitzgerald Toussaint) has done some really good things,” he said. “I think (sophomore) Stephen (Hopkins) was better today in short yardage.”

Hoke also may have given away one of Jackson’s secrets. At Michigan Media Day on Aug. 14, Jackson said he had a third down back chosen, but he didn’t want to say who it was. Hoke all but revealed it on Tuesday.

“(Junior) Vincent (Smith) is a guy on third downs who can do an awful lot,” Hoke said. “He is a tough, tough guy. I’d take 115 of him to be honest with you. He can do a lot of things.”

ON THE BRINK: Redshirt sophomore defensive end Nathan Brink, a walk-on who appeared in just one game last year, made a lot of noise with his stand-out performance in the spring. Most figured it would fade come fall camp.

It didn’t — if anything, it got louder.

The 6-foot-5, 263-pound Holland, Mich. native has continued to beat the odds, and if the season started today, Hoke said Brink would be a starting defensive end.

“He plays with a great motor,” Hoke said. “He plays with a great pad level. He has to be great technically, because he’s a little slight. You’d like to have him at 285, 290, but he’s done an awful lot of good things.

“You feel him a lot on the field.”

KICKING BY COMMITTEE?: After a disastrous year in which redshirt sophomores Seth Broekhuizen and Brendan Gibbons combined to go 4-for-13 on field goals and finish last in the nation, many were hoping that incoming freshman Matt Wile, a high school All-American last year, could be the special teams’ savior this season.

He still might be, but he continues to be in an open competition with both Broekhizen and Gibbons. Hoke said that Wile will be the kickoff specialist, but that Wile and Gibbons are still competing for the field goal kicking job.

Gibbons and Wile could also both see action as field goal kickers, depending on the length of the kick.

“Brendan is probably kicking the best overall,” Hoke said. “I think when you get some distance, then (Wile) is a pretty good weapon to have.”

Hoke also said that Wile and Broekhuizen will continue competing for the punting position, while sophomore punter Will Hagerup — the usual starter — serves his four-game suspension.

He said he will decide who will be the starter at each kicking position by Sunday.

NOTES: Hoke said he is not concerned that three players — freshman offensive lineman Tony Posada, junior receiver Je’Ron Stokes, and freshman linebacker Kellen Jones — recently decided to leave the program. “To be honest, it was the right thing for them and what they felt,” Hoke said. “We wish them the best, and they’re great kids.” … The Wolverines will start specifically preparing for Western Michigan in practice Wednesday.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.