- Jarrod Wilson will start at safety opposite Thomas Gordon.
- Expect a fake punt. Or a fake kick. Something fake.
- Drake Johnson will be the next running back in after Toussaint.
"Three days away. We had a good camp. We broke camp. Had a good week of practice so far. We have to make sure at all times we're paying attention to the details and the discipline that we want to play with. Today for us would be like a Thursday and tomorrow would be like a Thursday because you've had an extra day to prepare. The band comes tomorrow, which is the best practice day of the year because they've been practicing hard, and we love our band, and we love to take our band on bowl trips, so it will be fun to have them out on the field.
"Central [Michigan], you know, they won the last four football games a year ago. They won three to put themselves into a bowl game, won the bowl game. I think that's significant in how they've developed and how Dan [Enos] has developed his football team. They have a veteran group of coaches in some spots that have been around and do a nice job. We'll have our work cut out for us. We've got to play our best football game."
What is it that you don't know about the team today that you'll know after the first game?
"Your team gets to a point where when you're going ones on ones, twos on twos, they know the offense, they know the defense. They know the little quirks guys might have. A defensive lineman, his stance might chance if he's on a movement. We don't want to, but you give some things away that way on both sides of the ball. The different line calls, the check system. So it will good -- number one they're tired of beating up on each other, and it'll be a good test to see where we're at and we're looking forward to the test with as many of the young guys that are going to play and guys that really haven't taken the field before."
Have you ever had a three deep worth of contributors on the defensive line before, and do you think all of them will really be able to rotate?
"You know, I don't know if we've had three. To answer the question, yeah, I think they can. Never have had that much depth. At San Diego State, we had guys coming in all the time at all positions. We'll be a little more selective in the back end, but in the front seven, there's a lot of depth and guys are fighting. They're fighting to get on the bus. In turn, I think we'll become a better football team because of that."
What are the defining characteristics you want out of the safety spot opposite Thomas Gordon?
"You know, they've got to be the quarterback on the field, number one. Intelligence level, how we play, how we get guys aligned, making sure that we don't get out-leveraged defensively. Making sure if you're the last one to the party, whether you're a half field safety or a deep third safety, that you do a good job of keeping the ball inside and in front. Help us on run support when they're asked to when they're put in those support positions. I think the guys back there have all done a nice job. they've really competed hard, so it's been a good camp as far as that goes. I think that the development of Jeremy [Clark], we have to keep bringing him along. Delano Hill is a guy that -- he's a big ol' safety, and he's developing."
Do you have an idea who might start Saturday at this point?
"You know, I think Jarrod [Wilson]'s had a nice last two weeks of fall. I think the pressure that was put on him by other guys ... Josh Furman's improved. I would say Jarrod probably."
If you get the opportunity, how important will it be to get Shane Morris some snaps?
"You know, I think you always want to be able to get guys in games. Obviously the quarterback position being what it is, if that ability came we would want to get him as much work as we could."
MGoQuestion: Going back to the safety situation, is asking your safeties to make all those checks something that's unique to your system? [Context: Usually when you think of the "quarterback of the defense" you think middle linebacker. I was wondering whether Michigan's reliance on their safeties to do the quarterbacking was a unique byproduct of having Jordan Kovacs for the last couple years.]
"No. I think every defense in country -- the back end is held by the safeties. The linebackers do an awful lot for us getting the front seven squared away, but the back end, the big picture, is always by the safeties."
A lot of your vets talked about not being nervous for Saturday but being anxious to go out there and hit someone else. What about you and the other coaches? It's been a long camp --
"It's been a long camp. We have some things we have to finish, and that's the biggest thing. You want to make sure you're dotting your i's and crossing your t's and you've gone through every situation, if it's a whistle kick because the 2.6 seconds left in the ball game, and once that whistle goes by the official, you have to kick the ball because of the rule where anything under three seconds, it's a run-off. Those things, you have the ability to spike the ball if you need to. Onside kicks ... I'd expect one. I'd expect a fake punt. Maybe a fake field goal. I would expect that."
Are you excited to be on the sideline?
"Yeah. It's a great place to be. It's the best seat in the house."
The last couple of years, you had to start true freshmen at certain spots. Looking at the depth chart this year, it doesn't seem like you HAVE to. Does that feel different?
"There's no question. You hate to have to rely on a true freshman. Not because they're not smart, not because they're not competitive, not because they're not good athletes. But it's inexperience. Going down that tunnel for the first time, the distractions that can come with that. You look on our front four defensively, there's 17 career starts in all four of them. Quinton I think has 10 of them. We're not what I would call a real veteran team even with some of the veterans. Putting a freshman in that situation is something that you really don't want to have to do. It's been done, but we'd rather not."
Is it ideal to bring them up slowly unless they demand playing time right off the bat?
"I was here with Charles [Woodson]. He didn't start the first game with the regular four defensive backs. Played nickel, but I think he started every game almost after that. He earned it."
How much of your hand do you want to show Saturday with Notre Dame coming up next week?
"We got nothing to hide. We really don't. We've got nothing to hide in what we do and how we do it. I think that is really overblown when you're trying to keep something that maybe they haven't seen. You're going to tweak something you do from one week or the other for the most part anyway, especially from an offensive perspective. We'll do what we do."
What will you do with the running backs?
"Well, Fitz is going to get the primary work, and then we'll just go from there."
Drake Johnson would be the next guy in?
Can you talk about Joe Reynolds and his emergence? What's it like for a guy who finally gets that chance his senior year?
"Well, Joe's always been one of the hardest workers on the football team, period. I mean, I could be up in my office and Joe would be out there catching jugs all day. So you know, I think he's earned it. His toughness, the way mentally he's approached every day, his physicalness, and then his talent."
Al Borges said Amara was pretty much an all-around receiver. What kind of receiver is Reynolds?
"I think his intelligence, number one, which I think is important. Knowing the game and then his selflessness for his teammates."