Brady Hoke expects Fitzgerald Toussaint, Cam Gordon to be play, and more notes
Michigan football coach Brady Hoke said Wednesday that both sophomore running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and sophomore strong-side linebacker Cam Gordon practiced Tuesday and appear ready to play Saturday against Eastern Michigan.
After earning the start at running back for the season opener against Western Michigan, Toussaint was held out last weekend against Notre Dame game after injuring his shoulder.
"He should be (ready to play)," Hoke said. " He did everything (at practice Tuesday), so we hope to (get him back)."
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
With the 5-10, 195-pound Toussaint out of the picture, Michigan running backs combined for just 10 yards on eight carries in a 35-31 win against the Fighting Irish.
In the weather-shortened opener against Western Michigan, Toussaint led the Michigan rushing offense with 80 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.
Hoke said he wasn't sure whether Michigan's run-game struggles last week were directly related to Toussaint's absence, but did say that a lot has to improve if the Wolverines' hope to establish a solid rush attack outside of quarterback Denard Robinson.
"I think we have to block better," Hoke said. "That's where the game starts. It's like everything else, it's all of us.
"Coaches, players, everybody."
As for Gordon — who is still listed as the starting strong-side linebacker despite missing the first two games of the season with a lingering back injury — Hoke says he's available, but will have to prove he's in game shape as the week goes on.
"He practiced (Tuesday), ran around some and did some things," Hoke said. "But my biggest concern for him now is his conditioning level — because he's missed a lot of time.
"I think we'll get through that, but right now he's available."
In other injury news, Hoke said that senior linebacker Brandon Herron — who missed last week's game with a leg injury — is "still trying to get himself back" to full health.
Barnum at left guardJunior offensive lineman Ricky Barnum appears to have re-gained the top spot at left guard after being forced to sit out the season opener due to "team issues."
Barnum was re-inserted into the starting lineup last week over sophomore Michael Schofield — and, according to Hoke, will likely stay there for some time.
"I think Ricky has probably cemented himself decently to some degree in there," he said. "If he practices badly, or plays badly, it's nice to have a little bit of an option in Mike."
Hoke not worried about redshirts
Through two games, six Michigan true freshmen have seen game action.
Linebacker Desmond Morgan, cornerback Blake Countess, defensive end Frank Clark, kicker Matt Wile, linebacker Brennen Beyer and cornerback Gregg Brown.
Asked if he was concerned about sorting out who will and won't redshirt this season, Hoke said the thought hasn't crossed his mind.
"We're not going to be afraid to play freshmen, obviously," he said. "The best player is going to play, and they're still learning to some degree. But from a fundamental standpoint, if they're the best, they'll play."
Loving the view
Count senior defensive tackle Mike Martin into the contingent of Michigan Stadium scoreboard admirers.
Martin said Wednesday that the more than 100,000 fans in the stadium each Saturday aren't the only ones in awe of the high-definition jumbo screens.
"Those things are amazing," he said. "On the sideline, we glance up there, and it's easy to see when the offense is out there.
"We can just sit on the bench and clearly look up without having to stand up and look at the play — that's helpful."
Odds and ends
Hoke said that he sees Countess as someone who is putting himself in position to earn more playing time. While sophomore Brendan Gibbons is still the team's No. 1 place-kicker, Hoke said that either Wile or Kris Pauloski could be called upon for any long-distance kicks. Senior cornerback Troy Woolfolk has a sprained ankle, a broken bone in his hand and a lacerated nose — but Hoke says he won't be limited this week. "I really like where he's at from a mental state right now," he said.