August 12, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Michigan's running back, offensive line jobs remain wide open

Michigan's Drake Johnson (20) appears to be one of the front-runners to start at running back. (David Guralnick / Detroit News)

Ann Arbor — About the only Michigan offensive starter coach Brady Hoke is willing to anoint right now as the Wolverines march deeper into the second week of camp is Devin Gardner.

Hoke essentially confirmed the obvious after Tuesday’s practice regarding the Wolverines’ quarterback situation.

“I would expect (Gardner) to start on the 30th,” Hoke said, referring to the season opener against Appalachian State.

But pin Hoke down on starters elsewhere on the offense? He would rather rattle off the names of pretty much all Michigan’s offensive personnel and insist competition is ongoing, as it is.

The offensive staff will get a better feel for the starting lineup after Wednesday’s scrimmage at Michigan Stadium and will have an even better grasp after Saturday’s public scrimmage at the stadium.

Hoke reiterated following Tuesday’s practice that they would soon like to settle on a lead back.

“Right now, we’re just not there yet,” he said.

At media day on Sunday, he said Drake Johnson and De’Veon Smith are, essentially the “1 and 1-A” backs with Derrick Green on their heels. Justice Hayes and Ty Isaac, although it remains unclear his status with the NCAA hardship waiver, are in the mix.

“We’ll learn a little more (Wednesday),” Hoke said of that position group. “It’s a good problem that we have right now, because we haven’t had it. All four, five if you want to count Ty, have done some really good things. And they’ve all had a bonehead mistakes.

“I think things will shake out (this week).”

The same goes for the offensive line.

Asked for the five he expects will “start” the scrimmage Wednesday, Hoke instead mentioned all the linemen. He did say again that freshman Mason Cole has been practicing well, center Graham Glasgow, who will miss the opener because of disciplinary reasons, has practiced at right guard and right tackle and Chris Fox, a redshirt freshman, has been getting significant practice time at right guard.

Hoke said the offensive staff planned to discuss the offensive line starters Tuesday night heading into the scrimmage and after Saturday’s scrimmage likely will have a better feel for the starting group.

Injury update

Receiver Devin Funchess was held out of the majority of practice Tuesday.

Hoke said he’s “bumped up a little bit” and is expected to participate in the Wednesday scrimmage.

“He could have probably gone today, but we’re trying to be smart,” Hoke said.

Cornerback Blake Countess, who was nagged by a groin injury and had been held out of recent practices and defensive lineman Mario Ojemudia hobbled by an ankle issue, have been practicing, Hoke said.

angelique.chengelis@detroitnews.com
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