Brady Hoke: Michigan football team's lines 'not very good right now'
Michigan football coach Brady Hoke has said his chief objective for spring camp is to replenish his offensive and defensive lines.
With only two practices left before Saturday's spring game, he's not happy with what he's seen.
"On either side, it's not very good right now, I can tell you that," Hoke said Tuesday afternoon on a teleconference with reporters. "I think the kids are working, I think they're coming in here with energy and all those things, but I think the expectation level, how physical we want to be as a football team, I would say we're not where we need to be."
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
The Wolverines return 15 starters next year, but five of their seven losses come along the trenches. A sixth loss, tight end Kevin Koger, was an extension of the offensive line, which also is losing Rimington Award-winning center David Molk and right tackle Mark Huyge.
Senior Ricky Barnum is the earlier favorite to take over at center, but a dropoff is expected. Molk played the position for his whole life, eventually becoming college football's best last year, and Barnum hasn't played it since he was a high school freshman.
Junior Michael Schofield is expected to take over for Huyge at right tackle. Each of his 10 career starts came at guard last year, although he originally joined the Wolverines as a tackle.
Michigan loses 71 career starts from its offensive line, and replaces them with 16 (zero at their new positions).
That's a significant downgrade in experience -- matched only by the turnover on the defensive line.
Starting tackles Mike Martin and Will Heininger, as well as end Ryan Van Bergen, have graduated. The only returner, senior Craig Roh, is switching from weak- to strong-side end.
Michigan has jumbled its line a bit to accommodate for the losses, sliding junior Jibreel Black from end to tackle and moving sophomore Brennen Beyer from linebacker to end.
Without naming anyone, Hoke said he's particularly concerned about that group.
"I think the guys are really trying to play with the demeanor and the mentality we want to play with, and I see some improvements in that, but from a defensive standpoint, I know we're not near where we need to be," Hoke said.
The massive losses up front also prevent Hoke from holding an intrasquad spring game, as he would like. The Wolverines instead are expected to run drills and some situational plays for their public unveiling Saturday at Michigan Stadium. Kickoff is at noon.
"If we had the choice, I think we'd really like to draft and split up the teams and go at it that way, but we really don't have that luxury because of our depth at our offensive line, our defensive line, a little bit at the receiver position, and it just isn't going to work out that way," Hoke said.
"We'll formulate some ways to make this as game-like as possible."