Michigan head coach Brady Hoke said the Wolverines are 'excited' about a prime-time open-to-the public practice. (Steve Perez / Detroit News)
Ann Arbor — With a road night game looming large early in the season, and a Michigan football team eager to play before its fans in its stadium, the Wolverines will be on display before the season opener.
You will be excused if you just did a double-take. After all, this is a unique preseason invitation from Michigan.
The Wolverines are planning to hold a scrimmage Aug. 16 open to the public and media at 8 p.m. at Michigan Stadium. Details have not yet been finalized, but there will be no admission fee.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke, whose team opened preseason camp Monday, said the team is “excited” about the opportunity to shake things up during camp with this prime-time, open-to-the-public practice.
“It will be part practice, and a lot of scrimmage,” Hoke said Wednesday night after camp. “(It’s at) 8 o’clock at night, getting ready for a night game, and also I think it’s good and healthy for our guys to get in front of people. We’re excited about that.
“It’s going to be a good thing for our players and, hopefully, the Michigan faithful.”
Michigan opens the season Aug. 30 against Appalachian State at Michigan Stadium at noon, and a week later plays at Notre Dame — the final game of this series for the foreseeable future — at 7:30 p.m. That will be the first of the Wolverines’ three rivalry games on the road this season.
They also have back-to-back night games scheduled at Rutgers and at home against Penn State in October.
“I think, really, they want to play in front of people, so let’s let them play in front of people,” Hoke said. “A little bit also is for night-game purposes. You at least want to be in the stadium before that.”
Sophomore safety Delano Hill broke his jaw two weeks before the end of summer conditioning, but he currently is doing “alternate” conditioning now that camp has started.
Hill is running and lifting but, obviously, is avoiding contact drills.
“He could be ready for Appalachian State,” Hoke said, adding it’s too early to determine his status.
Hoke said Hill “bumped into another guy” during a summer drill.
With Hill limited, Brandon Watson has more of an opportunity. Dymonte Thomas, Jarrod Wilson and Jeremy Clark are all in the mix at safety.
There’s still plenty of time in camp before Michigan settles on a starting running back for the opener, Hoke said Wednesday afternoon.
He said recently during Big Ten Media Days that De’Veon Smith emerged from spring practice with a slight edge over Derrick Green.
“We like the backs we have,” Hoke said. “I like how all of them are playing.”
Ty Isaac, the transfer from USC, is practicing with the team, but Hoke said he still has no indication when the NCAA will decide on Isaac’s application for a hardship waiver.
“We’re glad Ty’s here,” he said.
Meanwhile, running back Drake Johnson, who missed last season because of injury, is full-go in preseason camp.
Peppers spices things
Freshman Jabrill Peppers is doing as Hoke planned — he’s working at nickel back.
“That’s a unique position,” Hoke said. “The positive thing is, he’s a pretty good athlete, he’s got good recovery skills, so he may take a step the wrong way, but he’s got makeup speed. He’s physical, and he’s instinctive, so all those things help.”
Defensive lineman Ondre Pipkins and offensive lineman Joey Burzynski, who both suffered season-ending knee injuries last year, are participating in preseason camp, Hoke said.
Tight end Jake Butt, who tore an ACL in February, could still be ready by the start of the Big Ten season, Hoke has said.
“He’s coming along really well,” Hoke said.