Hoke Searching for Answers this Spring

STORY: Michigan coach Brady Hoke talks open competition in spring camp. The latest with Devin Gardner, Shame Morris, Jake Butt update, Offensive line competition and more ***Read Inside***

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – After a week off due to spring break, Michigan is back practicing and the competition is in full force. With many key positions wide open, no body's job is safe, even incumbent starting quarterback Devin Gardner, who is back participating after suffering a season ending broken foot last fall.

"He's a little healthier," said Michigan coach Brady Hoke. "I'll give Devin credit, we have great competition. He's been out there every day. He's working his tail off."

Hoke said Gardner hasn't been dealing with any added problems with his rehabbed foot. However, he said Gardner and sophomore Shane Morris are sharing most of the first-team snaps. While Russell Bellomy and Wilton Speight are getting reps – just not as much, said Hoke.

"I think from that standpoint, we got really good competition," said Hoke.

Morris, who started the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl for the injured Gardner, is expected to be the next guy up if Hoke wants to go with another look at quarterback this fall. Although, according to Hoke, he still has a lot to learn if he wants to take Gardner's starting spot.

"He's doing OK, he' doing alright," Hoke said, when ask if Morris is going through a learning curve. "He's not ready to be the starter at Michigan.

"Devin has the most experience at the job," Hoke said. "… If we were starting today, (Morris) wouldn't be the guy out there. Two weeks from now, will see."

Finding another WR?

Junior Devin Funchess will be the No. 1 wide receiver this fall, but the problem this spring is who be his counterpart?

Hoke named the entire roster of receivers, but gave no clear leader on who would be that guy. He did note that Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh are the wide outs with the most experience, but he should have a better idea by the end of spring practice on who can fill that void.

"I would say, ‘yeah, it is early,'" Hoke said. "But I think the competition is going to be really good for us."

Butt timetable

Hoke said sophomore tight end Jake Butt's recovery from his torn ACL has roughly the same timeline as Jake Ryan – who dealt with the same injury last spring – and is expected to be back by game three or four this fall.

Green staying put

Sophomore running back Derrick Green came to camp as a freshman last season at 240-pounds. He is down to a trimmer 220-pounds, and said Tuesday he intends on staying there throughout his career at Michigan.

Hoke agrees.

"He should do that, first and foremost, there is no excuses for it not, unless he gets lazy" Hoke said on Green staying at 220-pounds. "I think there is no question coming in (as a freshman) overweight. Coming in week three of camp and banging his ankle up a little bit, I think that was part of it. Part of it, is being a freshman. And so I think the work that he's done, I'm real proud of, but we want to see that consistency all the way through, too."

Offensive Line Growing Pains

To say Michigan's offensive line struggled last season is an understatement, and with the graduation of Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield to the NFL, this offensive line development is already a big question mark this spring.

"The physicalness isn't really where we want it yet," Hoke said. " I couldn't point out one guy who I thought was a great finisher. … We are not near where we need to be."

Earlier this spring, Hoke named David Dawson (left tackle), Kyle Bosch (left guard), Graham Gal scow (center), Kyle Kalis (right guard) and Ben Braden (right tackle) as his de-facto starting line. But who he ends up going with, is still an open question.

"The best five guys got to play, whatever that combination is," Hoke said. "Whatever that combination is. We're a long way from determining who those five guys are."

With many of the players competing for starting spots entering their second or third years in the program, the coaches have to be more patient with their progress, said Hoke.

"I think they have come along compared to a year ago," Hoke said. "Or even three months ago. So it's just that process you got to go through everyday improving, competing within."

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