Michigan linebackers Desmond Morgan, Kenny Demens to start over freshmen against Notre Dame
ANN ARBOR -- A pair of freshmen are pushing hard for time at linebacker.
For now, though, they will remain backups.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke confirmed Wednesday that Desmond Morgan and Kenny Demens will start Saturday against Notre Dame (7:30 p.m., NBC).
Freshman James Ross has battled Morgan at the weak-side spot, and started last week when Morgan was scratched due to a head injury. But Hoke said Morgan will return this week, and will retain the starting job.
Freshman Joe Bolden has supplanted Demens for extended and key stretches at middle linebacker the past two weeks. It is one of the more surprising job battles this season, considering Demens is a senior who is in his third season as a starter.
Demens was trumpeted throughout the offseason for being an anchor in Michigan's 4-3 scheme. He already has given way to Bolden at several junctures, though, including for the whole second half against Air Force.
Demens remains the starter, but both will play against the No. 11 Fighting Irish (3-0).
How is Demens handling his job battle with a freshman?
"He knows you got to perform and you got to produce every day," Hoke said. "So there is no entitlement."
In addition to Morgan's return, Hoke said he also expects starting fullback Stephen Hopkins (hamstring) and reserve defensive lineman Richard Ash (undisclosed) to play against Notre Dame.
Starting tight end Brandon Moore (MCL) is out.
Defensive end Brennen Beyer (knee) is likely out.
"We'll still hold out some hope, but it doesn't look like it," Hoke said.