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Ann Arbor — They came up for air, but only to blow a little smoke.

And if you were hoping to hear something substantive Monday from Michigan football's first media availability since the start of preseason camp, well, have you ever listened to the lyrics of The Beatles' "Yellow Submarine"?

It's mostly nonsense. And so is this, which is fine. Maybe even a little encouraging if you're a Michigan fan. Jim Harbaugh made one promise before his team began practicing three weeks ago, and he has kept it.

The coach said his team was "going into a submarine" on the eve of camp, something he'd hinted at for months since returning to Ann Arbor, and something he has done before in his previous college coaching stints.

"You won't hear from us, you won't see us," Harbaugh said. "We'll be working."

Whatever you think of that strategy, his staff insists it's working, with players freed of distractions and the media free to complain about The Hunt for Blue September after seven months of Harbaugh-mania.

"I think it has really brought our team together," said defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin, who is no stranger to this bunker mentality, having spent three years with Harbaugh at Stanford before moving to Florida. "We've only been with one another — all day, every day. There really hasn't been breaks in the action for 'em, either. We're over in this building all day. If we're not practicing or meeting or walking through, we're doing something (where) we're all together — coaches (and) players alike."

Planning in secret

When last we heard from them, the players were all for that idea. Harbaugh had warned the team this training camp would "be like nothing anyone has seen before," according to senior guard Kyle Kalis. And while that had the players on edge, it also had them intrigued.

"It reminds me kind of (the movie) 'Remember the Titans,' " Kalis said Aug. 6, the eve of camp. "It's going to (be) so bad, but we're going to come together as a team so close, that we'll come out on top."

Later this week, we'll begin to find out just how much fun it was, as Harbaugh — and selected players — finally break their three-week vow of silence.

But, Durkin said the message had been delivered as intended: "We're in this together, and we've got to be accountable to one another."

Accountable, not accessible, mind you. Harbaugh doesn't have to show his hand right now — right or left — and clearly he sees no benefit in doing so, with the Sept. 3 opener at Utah still more than a week away.

Monday's session with Durkin and offensive coordinator Tim Drevno only reinforced that notion, as the assistants evaded virtually every question lobbed their way.

Durkin began the 15-minute exercise in futility by declining to even acknowledge the significant injury nose guard Bryan Mone suffered at the start of camp. ("Great kid, great player for us — really like him," Durkin said.)

Drevno ended it by claiming there's no starter emerging in the backfield, either at quarterback, where Jake Rudock is the perceived leader over Shane Morris, or at running back, where De'Veon Smith figures to get the nod over Ty Isaac and Derrick Green.

"It's close in there," Drevno said. "And when the time comes, we'll tell you who it is."

Close to the vest

Harbaugh, who declined the Big Ten Network's interview requests during their annual campus-tour stop last week, is scheduled to meet with the media Thursday, effectively kicking off his first game week as Michigan's head coach.

Just how revealing he'll be then remains to be seen, but don't expect much.

Last weekend's practice that was open to students offered a glimpse into Captain Nemo's submersible, with Rudock — the graduate transfer from Iowa — running the first-team offense and reportedly looking comfortable doing it.

Yet, Drevno, the run-game coordinator and line coach, wasn't offering any more about that Monday. In fact, he was offering much less, albeit with a smile.

"All those quarterbacks are doing a great job," he said, adding that "no decisions have been made" and none will be before they're "ready to be made."

He praised Rudock's understanding of Harbaugh's system, his ability to call plays and his "command the huddle." Not surprisingly, Drevno mentioned the same things when asked about Morris, who is beginning his third season with a third new scheme.

Asked if the public will know the starter before next week's opener, Drevno shrugged, "At one point in time, somebody will announce it, yes."

Until then, as promised, the pressure's in the boat.

john.niyo@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/JohnNiyo

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