Breaking Down Michigan's Latest Depth Chart Moves Midway Through Fall Camp
Position battles were a hot topic Sunday at Michigan’s media day. Brady Hoke and his coordinators, Doug Nussmeier and Greg Mattison, held court and entertained questions from the media in attendance.
Here’s an update on the position battles and players of interest as Michigan heads into the second week of camp and prepares for Saturday’s public scrimmage.
The quarterback battle is over—Devin Gardner will be the starter.
Any doubts that might have lingered from last season’s injury have been erased. He’s also devoted himself to learning the intricacies of the new offense.
“The biggest thing was to get Devin focused on what we wanted to accomplish as an offense,” Nussmeier said. “Getting him to understand why we were calling the plays we’re calling—was it built to be an explosive or efficient play...he’s really done a good job of spending extra time getting to know those types of things.”
Backup Shane Morris isn’t willing concede the fight, but barring any major surprise, he’ll enter the season behind Gardner on the depth chart.
Although top defensive recruit Jabrill Peppers is slated to appear solely at nickelback, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said he’ll still be a big part of the defense.
"The nickel position is a very, very important position on the defense now, compared to the way it was maybe five to ten years ago," said Mattison. "You [need] a guy that's going to be playing a whole bunch.”
There was no definite word on where else Peppers will appear on the field. Freshman weren’t allowed to speak to the media, so Peppers couldn't say where else the coaches plan to have him play this season.
Hoke did said that Peppers “absolutely loves to compete and play.”
He was seen working on receiving punts at practice Friday, and Nussmeier said that it was up to Hoke whether Peppers would appear on offense.
Freshman tackle Mason Cole is on target to break into the starting lineup.
“Performance doesn’t have an age tied to it,” Nussmeier said. “He’s had an outstanding camp. He’s taking strides every day.”
Last week, Hoke mentioned Erik Magnuson and Ben Braden at the tackles and Kyle Bosch and Kyle Kalis at the guards, with Graham Glasgow and Jack Miller dueling at center.
Magnuson's return from surgery seemingly had pushed Cole, who played with the first team during the spring scrimmage, down the depth chart and possibly on course to redshirting the season.
But after Friday’s first full-contact practice, Hoke indicated that Cole was playing left tackle and Magnuson had shifted to left guard. The moves show that the team is still trying to find the right combination to support the new offense.
“Sometime next week...we’ll settle in what we want to look at, what we want to do as far as the top five guys,” said Hoke. “Darryl [Funk] and Doug have done a nice job of rotating guys in who we think have an opportunity to be in that first group.”
Hoke cited Bryan Mone as a player whose performance has surprised him so far in camp.
Mone is a true freshman who has been mentioned as a possible starter on the defensive line. Besides impressing Hoke, he’s also impressed his teammates.
“You can tell that kid has a toughness that you can’t coach,” said tight end AJ Williams. “He’s been down to compete since the [beginning].”
All through spring practice, the talk was that De’Veon Smith and Derrick Green were battling to be the top back. So it wasn’t a big surprise when Hoke announced Sunday that Smith is currently at the top of the depth chart.
But it was surprising when Hoke announced that Drake Johnson had Derrick Green to be second on the depth chart. Johnson sat out last season after injuring his ACL in the first game against Central Michigan.
With transfer Ty Isaac tearing up practice while awaiting word on his eligibility, Green might slide even further down the depth chart.
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.