News bullets and other items:
The team scrimmages in Michigan Stadium on Wednesday
Mason Cole really, truly might play. Really.
Funchess was held out of practice but Hoke didn't even call it a boo-boo so he's likely fine
Csont’e York is still part of the program
Devin Gardner is expected to start against Appalachian State
The coaches will probably know their starting offensive line after Saturday's scrimmage
Jake Butt being back by the Notre Dame game is “a little nuts”
Ross Douglas is a wide receiver
“Thanks for coming out. We continued, I think, as a team to practice hard. We continued as a team to take the incremental jumps that we want to keep making every day were out here I think from all positions. Again, the competition is such that it just creates a great competitive environment in everything we're doing. Happy with the effort we've had throughout camp, happy with the improvements and the progress. We need to keep getting better, I think that's a big part of it. The jump that we make this week as a team, because this is really a grind, is important. Tomorrow we'll put it together up at the stadium, we'll scrimmage up there. We'll see how many plays. Would like to get 120 in, 130 plays. We'll talk a little more in-depth what we want to get from each unit, from the first defense to the first offense, seconds, thirds, all the way down so that we can see – we're getting everybody some reps and also a good idea of guys playing up in that stadium.”
We've heard a lot about Mason Cole. What has he done to impress you guys and is it a good or a bad thing or are you concerned that you might have a true freshman starter on the offensive line?
”I think I'll take the back end of it first. If he's good enough, he's old enough. To this point so far he's been good enough. When you look at the people that he's gone against with Frank and those rush ends and the people that he's blocking, five techniques, he's held his own very well. I think I mentioned earlier sometime but he came in a little differently. I give a lot of credit to his coach and his high school team and their preparation. He has a great passion about playing the game.”
Any update on the injuries?
“Yeah, everybody was back. The only one, obviously Jake is still not full speed but the guys who got banged up – Funchess is the only guy that we held out a little bit but other than that I can't think of another guy. I'm just trying to think so I can give you accurate information.”
What happened to Funchess?
”He just got bumped up a little bit. He'll be okay. He probably could have gone today but we're trying to be smart. We've got a scrimmage tomorrow.”
Any update on Csont’e York and is he still a part of the program?
”No question. We are going to go through the process. You know, he's a guy who has been a part of this team and we'll go through this process. His status hasn't changed.”
So he's still part of the program?
”Yeah. Status hasn't changed.”
[Hit THE JUMP for more on Jake Butt, Devin Gardner, the inside linebackers, and a complete lack of clarity regarding the offensive line]
[I can’t hear the exact question but it was regarding Amara Darboh and his progress]
“Well, I think he's much improved. What he can do and how he's played, we're very excited about his development and his growth so I would say we would all say he's a better player today than he was last year at this time.”
Obviously there have been a lot of ACL injuries – last week in practice we saw Jake Butt catching balls. Just knowing what you know about Jake Ryan a year ago at the same time, how much further along is Jake Butt and to say he might be back by Notre Dame, is that crazy?
“Yeah, I think that be a little nuts. You know, I think you're trying to judge two guys at two different positions a little bit. They both are accelerating, slowing down, making cuts, stuff like that. Both are very diligent and give a lot of credit to our doctors we have, [our] specialists and our trainers. I don't know what the odds would be, I just think we have to do a good job to make sure the young man, for his sake, is truly healthy.”
Chris Fox has had some injuries this year. Where is he in the process and is he getting back to the point where he seems fully conditioned and he is...
“Oh yeah, he's playing. He's doing everything. You know, he had a little bad streak there with some injuries but he's been in there, he's practiced every day, he's gotten better. He's taking some reps with the ones and the twos a little bit at the guard position. Very excited about his progress.”
You guys are a week and a half in. Has Devin [Gardner] done enough to get your full stamp as the guy at quarterback?
“Yeah. You know, Devin – I would expect him to start on the 30th.”
Could you just talk about his progress in general and how he's handled it?
“I think his communication skills throughout how the offense is run, I think his identification of the different reads that he has, you know, in the run game and the pass game – I think he's grown a ton. I think from a mechanical standpoint and a standpoint of preparing every day and coming out there the way he's come out, I'm really excited about.”
And how has Shane [Morris] handled that?
“Shane's done a great job. If Devin screws up believe me, Nuss is quick to – especially on something he should know, if it's a repeated mistake Shane gets in there pretty quick. Both of them have gone with the ones. Devin has gone most of the time with the ones. Shane's gotten some reps throughout camp with the ones.”
Drake Johnson you mentioned the other day as one or one-a, I don't remember which he was. What has he done- obviously he had his injury and he's still trying to come back from that- but what has he done to impress you guys? It seems like he would've been the backup a year ago too.
“Yeah, I think he would have. And I think he would've played a lot of football for us a year ago. You know, Drake's a guy who really works diligently about everything. How he studies the game, how he approaches the game, he's a great teammate. You're talking about a guy on special teams, because he's on a couple of those- you know you're going to get execution from him. As a running back he's picked up things well within the offense, catches the ball well in the backfield. Very good acceleration. He's got the chance to take it all the way because of his speed. There's multiple things. He's really just done a tremendous job in my opinion, our opinion.”
You mentioned that three cornerbacks had separated themselves. Is there a possibility you're going to rotate those three guys through two spots or do you want to have two set starters and stick with those guys primarily?
“I think we have two set starters in there and, again, that goes back to competition. There's times where you may, you know, bring another guy in depending on play counts and all those things. You know, Stribling's come along so he's not too far behind the other three.”
The running back situation – how fluid is it? Could Derrick be the one or one-a guy? Is it interchangeable?
“You know, I think we'd love to get to one guy for sure but right now we're just not there yet. I think tomorrow we'll learn a little more. I think it's a good problem that we have right now because we haven't had it. All four, five if you want to count Ty [Isaac] in there, have done some really good things and they've all had a bonehead mistake in there too. We can find a guy and I imagine things will shake out a little bit, then we'll have a one and other guys we're excited about.”
You would want a guy getting 20-some carries?
“Well, yeah, if that's where we end up. Yeah, I'd love for it to happen that way.”
My other question is for tomorrow what would your starting offensive line look like? Including Glasgow.
“Well, Graham will take place tomorrow, there's no doubt. But Fox could be at right guard, Kalis could be at right guard, Joe Burzynski is back from an ACL a year ago. Joe's kind of one of those guys that no one knows a whole lot about but he's done well so there's multiple things we could do. Graham, we'll play him at right tackle and right guard. Ben Braden's done a nice job at right tackle. I think he's really grown and become a better player. David Dawson, I think his reps and what he's done has been exciting. Magnuson, Bosch, Logan Tuley-Tillman, he's done a nice job. Starting? Is that all you want? See, we're going to talk about that tonight.”
So you think that after Saturday's scrimmage you'll have it?
“I think so.”
Going back to the possibility of Mason Cole playing. You have 11 offensive lineman over a two class stretch and then just one behind that. To what extent are you balancing the attitude of you have to win now versus what's possibly better over the long-term plan?
“I don't – long-term is always something you think about. We're big on goals. Weekly, daily, long-term, short-term, all of that. I don't know if I understand your question well enough.”
Do you have sort of a balance there where you're saying maybe you don't want to play someone who's a freshman based on where it'll be three or four years from now?
“Not really. You've got to play the best players, number one. If you [don't] do that you're cheating this great program and we're not going to do that, so from that standpoint the best guys have to play. If he's one of those five who's one of the best guys then he's going to play.”
Did Ross Douglas move spots again?
“Yeah, he's a wide receiver. He's at the slot.”
Talk about the process of that. He's moved twice now in a year, talk about the process of that.
“Well, I mean, you're trying to give a guy the best opportunity and when you look at the slot position there's a couple guys there but you need a couple others because those guys will also be on kick games and all those things. He's handled it very well.”
[Last question is called]
Inside linebackers- obviously Jake [Ryan] is your guy in the middle but any idea who might be next to him?
“I think we've got a pretty good problem right now. I don't see it as a problem but with Jake and Desmond [Morgan] and Joe Bolden and Mike McCray and, you know, and James Ross can slide back in. In an Over defense there's a lot of multiple positions that kind of cover each other to some degree. The Will ends up playing a lot what the Sam does at times, formations can dictate so from that standpoint we like our depth and or guys who are there. Jake's a guy who makes a lot of plays so we're excited about that but Desmond Morgan's an awful good player. Joe Bolden's had a great spring and fall camp so it's kind of fun.”
When do you vote on captains?
“Thank you very much.”
[Smirks and walks away.]
“I said 'thank you.'”