Ann Arbor — Last year, Michigan coach Brady Hoke, beginning in the spring, talked about how much he “liked” his team.
Hoke has refrained from talking about the Wolverines in that manner, however, since the conclusion of the disappointing 7-6 season. He has maintained that posture through the first week of preseason camp, which began Monday.
This doesn’t mean he has issues with this team.
In fact, it seems pretty clear there is a lot about this team he admires, from a strong group of leaders in a smaller senior class to the way the players have appeared to make a seamless transition from spring practice to summer conditioning to camp.
He wanted the first practice of camp to be a carryover from the spring, ostensibly practice No. 16, picking up where No. 15 in the spring left off, rather than starting from scratch.
“I think the guys did a nice job,” Hoke said this week. “The carryover, the hard work they put in, you could obviously tell what they did during the summer. The mentality of how they’ve come in, whether it’s meetings or on the field, they’ve all been positive.”
During the Wolverines’ first day in pads on Friday, crowd noise was piped in during different situational settings to sharpen their focus. Hoke said he and his staff are paying more attention to getting the players off their feet and resting and making sure they’re getting enough sleep.
“That’s different than in years past,” he said.
Also different is a public scrimmage that the Wolverines will hold at Michigan Stadium on Aug. 16 at 8 p.m. Hoke said it’s to give his players a chance to practice under the lights and before their fans.
And while Hoke has praised his players for arriving at camp in shape and determined to work, he said the Wolverines have not entirely shaped their identity.
“Not yet,” he said. “But we talk about it every day — what they want to make it.”