Brady Hoke is pleased with the progress his team has made over the final week of spring football.
“We’ve seen improvement across the board,” said Hoke, addressing the media prior to the team’s final regular practice. “Systematically, on both sides of the ball, we’re doing a really good job.”
Fans aren't the only ones eagerly awaiting Saturday’s public scrimmage.
Hoke looks forward to playing outdoors after poor weather has limited his team to its indoor practice facility, saying, “It’s always good to see [our team] play in the stadium.”
There was also encouraging news from the team’s last scrimmage.
“We had more explosive plays this weekend than we did the week before,” said Hoke. “We had no turnovers—which was huge—in about a 129-play scrimmage.”
Hoke emphasized the need for his team to get as many reps as possible:
“We want to get as much stuff as you can on tape, because that becomes an important teaching tool during the summer and fall camp.”
Doug Nussmeier Update
A consistent refrain this spring is how Doug Nussmeier has transformed the offense—from an increased practice pace to the intensity of his interaction with players.
But Hoke isn’t surprised with what he’s seen from him so far:
”He's not doing anything I didn't expect him to come in and do—from the intensity of how he coaches, to developing quarterbacks and paying attention to the details that you have to at every position on offense."
Offensive Line Update
“The competition is really good,” said Hoke. But he declined to say if had the starting five in mind, saying, “It’s too close to call, I’m glad we have some time to make the decision.”
A possible indication of the how the position group is coming along is Hoke’s assessment of early enrollee Mason Cole, “…is a guy who has really impressed.”
Freshmen rarely compete for playing time on the offensive line. If Cole seizes a starting position this fall, he’ll prove the exception to the rule.
Running Back Battle
Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith continue to battle in practice, with Justice Hayes being in the mix.
“[If] De’Veon has a bad snap or Justice Hayes has a bad snap, Derrick has a good snap. You’ve got to respond,” said Hoke. “They’re doing a great job of that.”
Green, 20 pounds lighter since last season, continues to impress.
“He looks better, his balance is better, vision is better, [and has] more quickness coming out of the holes.”
Doug Nussmeier has stated that he believes in using multiple backs, and the position group is working to give him multiple options.
Early Enrollee Update
Hoke mentioned both wide receiver Freddy Canteen and offensive lineman Mason Cole as competing well during the spring.
Freshman wide receiver Drake Harris has re-injured his hamstring and has not been practicing with the team. Harris missed his entire high school senior season because of hamstring problems, but this recent injury is not considered to be a serious setback.
Last Season’s Struggles
“There’s usually 6-8 plays per game…where someone has to make the play to [be successful],” said Hoke. “One of the our biggest fallbacks was being mentally tough enough in the grind.”
Hoke refused to issue his annual “I like this team” declaration but said that winning the Big Ten championship would help convince him to do so.
Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via Press Conferences or in person.