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Michigan lead tailback De'Veon Smith offered a frank assessment for why he has improved his game in terms of pass protection.

Smith appeared Monday night on the "Inside Michigan Football" weekly radio show with host Jim Brandstatter. Brandstatter asked Smith how much he has worked on pass protection.

"I guess until this year I wasn't really taught properly how to pass protect and what are my keys exactly," Smith said. "And (running backs) coach (Tyrone) Wheatley is instilling that into in all the running backs.

"In previous years, we tried to cut-block somebody. We weren't aiming at the right spot to cut down somebody and now coach Wheatley has taught us to get up on them and get low on them whenever we have to cut them. All the coaching points are definitely the main difference from this offense and last year's offense."

Smith said he and Wheatley shared a close bond and spend considerable time speaking one-on-one.

"I told him the other day that he talks to me just like my older brothers talk to me," Smith told the radio show. "He's been there, he's been where I want to go, so why not listen to him. I know he's not going to steer me in the wrong direction or any other back."

Brandstatter asked Smith, recruited to Michigan by former coach Brady Hoke and his staff, why he came to Michigan from Ohio. He shared an amusing recruiting story about Hoke.

"Coach Hoke was a great coach, he meant a lot to me," Smith said. "He came over to my house one day and literally just fell asleep on the couch."

angelique.chengelis@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/chengelis

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