Michigan cornerback Lavert Hill talks about getting ready for the season. Angelique S. Chengelis, Detroit News
Ann Arbor — With only one starter returning on defense for Michigan, the early days of preseason camp established how the younger, less experienced players needed to communicate and what expectations would be.
Now, as camp winds down and game week preparations begin Monday for the season opener against Florida on Sept. 2 in Arlington, Texas, the Michigan defensive players are feeling like they’re gelling.
“The defense has started to click,” safety Jordan Glasgow said after practice Friday night. “I feel like today was our best practice of the camp, and I feel tomorrow will be our best practice of the camp. I just feel we’ll get better from here on out. We’ve worked out everyone’s assignments, what everyone has to do, our communication, everyone knows how everyone plays. I think we can only go up from now.”
Glasgow said he noticed the defense starting to really come together the last few practices.
“And (Friday) was one of the most fun practices and best defensive practices I think I’ve ever been in,” Glasgow said. “The energy, everyone was excited. There were some amazing defensive plays. We’re getting there, we’re getting prepared. We know what’s going on.”
He said there were three or four interceptions during Friday’s practice that highlighted the improved play.
“Overall, the defensive practice was amazing,” he said. “The energy everyone brought. Even though we’ve been in the camp grind, (and) we’ve been working so hard, the energy was better than the first day of camp, the first week of camp. It was just a great practice.”
It was so good, the defensive players received accolades from coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Don Brown.
“They said that was the best execution, most energy we’ve seen and they were just happy with what we brought,” Glasgow said.
The cornerbacks heard and read what position coach Mike Zordich had to say this week, and that was plenty.
Zordich voiced his disappointment that with all the talent he’s working with at cornerback no one had really stepped up and taken the lead.
He did, however, say Lavert Hill had been the most consistent player in camp.
Zordich said he hoped the players would read his comments. They did.
“A couple people read it,” Hill said Friday. “It made everybody just compete harder like we were originally doing. We have been picking it up pretty quick since he said that, so it’s been going pretty good.”
Hill said Zordich’s challenge was clear.
“Just fight, continue to fight,” Hill said. “Just push through everything, all the adversity.”
Hill said he was challenged after spring practice to work on his consistency and technique and to build a camaraderie with his teammates in the secondary.
He said the receivers have been testing all the defensive backs, and his biggest personal challenge has been Kekoa Crawford.
“He makes me better,” Hill said.
Adding to the fullbacks
Henry Poggi in camp said former linebacker-turned-fullback Jared Wangler has progressed well at his new position and is helping develop depth at the position, as has the addition of Ben Mason. Mason, a freshman, arrived as a linebacker.
Veteran fullback Khalid Hill said he’s thrilled Mason, who has been singled out for his strength and big-hitting ways, has moved to fullback for a number of reasons.
“Like Coach Harbaugh used to say about me and Poggi, (we have) contact courage,” Hill said. “I think he’s one of the hardest hitters on the team. He definitely comes downhill and brings a lot with him. We did this pass drill last year, and Ben was on defense, so he will bull-rush every play, and we used to hate it as backs. When we got word he was coming to the running back room, it was the best thing ever because we didn’t have to worry about hitting him anymore. He’s a great athlete.”
Hill on whether his role will expand this fall: “You’ll see. There’s going to be some stuff. It ain’t nothing really major. I think I’m lot more out there.”
Glasgow on being at Michigan without brothers Graham and Ryan, both of whom are now in the NFL: “I’ve lost a brother every year I’ve been here. I’m getting used to it. There are advantages and disadvantages (to being solo Glasgow). I don’t get pressured into playing as much video games, but I don’t have them here joking around because my brothers were my best friends here, obviously, as family always is. It’s hard to see them leave, but there are good things about it, too.”