Michigan coach Brady Hoke: Big Ten still formidable without Braxton Miller-led Ohio State

The Detroit News

Michigan coach Brady Hoke, appearing Friday on the “Tim Brando Show” on Sirius, said he feels horrible for Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, who will miss the season after re-injuring his surgically repaired throwing shoulder.

Hoke appeared on the show on the eve of the Wolverines’ season opener against Appalachian State on Saturday at Michigan Stadium.

“You don’t want anybody to get hurt,” Hoke said. “He’s a class kid. He’s from my hometown. Really feel bad for him and his family.”

National pundits, however, believe without Miller out, the Big Ten will take a step back.

“Ohio’s got good players,” Hoke told the show. “They’ve had good players. Jim Tressel did a great job while he was recruiting there and coaching there. Coach (Urban) Meyer has done a good job. They’ve got football players.

“For anybody to back off the Big Ten because of that, that’s a mistake. You look around our league, what Jerry Kill has done at Minnesota, offensively how Indiana has scored points and moved the ball, obviously, Michigan State and the year they had. This is going to be a competitive dogfight.

Here are some highlights from Hoke’s interview:

■ On having smaller programs like Appalachian State play at Michigan: “Being a Mid-American Conference guy, playing in the MAC and coaching in Mid-American Conference, you know how hard those teams work, those coaches work. Having the opportunity to come up and play at Michigan, we did that when we were at Ball State, (and) it’s something that’s fun for everybody. It helps a lot of those schools that don’t have the athletic budgets that some of the others do.”

■ On Michigan’s offensive line: “I think we’ve made a lot of progress. Coming into camp we wanted to make that practice 16 and not go back to practice 1. Our depth is better and that’s one of the places it’s better for us as a team, and so our competition level is better.”

■ On quarterback Devin Gardner: “I think him and Shane Morris, both of those first and second quarterbacks, No. 1, the competition that was laid out between both of them with (offensive coordinator/quarterback coach) Doug Nussmeier coming in and how they’ve gone to work every day, how they’ve competed, how Nuss has groomed them and coached them, I think both of them have done a nice job. And maturity and leadership from that challenge and competition every day, I really see Devin’s growth as a leader on our football team and a football player and a guy who’s going to run the offense.”

■ On having MSU and OSU in the East Division with U-M: “I think it’s good, because we’re going to play them anyway. It’s not like we weren’t going to play Michigan State or Ohio. Why not play those two teams and have them in your division?”