Hoke has players 'chase the rabbit'

J.T. Floyd surprised teammates and family by lopping of his dreads before the Purdue game. Joe Robbins/Getty Images

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- At the end of practices during the week, Michigan coach Brady Hoke gathers the defensive line together and has them do a drill to keep them active and ready to deal with some of the most mobile quarterbacks they will face.

He calls it “chase the rabbit.”

“You ever try to catch a rabbit,” Hoke said. “They are hard to catch.”

Not that Hoke has ever tried himself -- after asking a reporter if he had tried to catch one he said he never has, either -- but the point of the drill is to help his linemen take correct angles to the ball and also teach how to stay up to speed against guys like Michigan will face Saturday, Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase.

Michigan goes about this two ways. One is the rabbit drill. The other, which the Wolverines do each week as well, is run quarterback Denard Robinson against the first-team defense for multiple periods each week in practice.

It happens to keep defenders -- and, in theory, Robinson -- sharp and also prepare them for the speed of anyone they’ll face.

“We build a mindset and a mentality,” Hoke said. “With us going so much against each other, obviously 16 is kind of hard to corral once in a while. That helps us as a team when we’re a playing against a guy like Scheelhaase.”

Not dreading the cut: For five years, J.T. Floyd had not cut his hair, letting his dreadlocks grow through his entire career, making him easily recognizable on the field and along with Robinson, the dreads had become somewhat of a trademark for him.

Until last week, when he decided to cut them off.

“It was just time,” Floyd said. “Now I’m going for a different look. It’s just a different time.

“It was something, it was an easy decision to grow them out and just as easy a decision to cut them.”

One of the last people to see Floyd with the dreads was Robinson, who didn’t believe him when he said he was planning on cutting them. Robinson was also one of the first people to see him after the haircut.

He didn’t save any of them for posterity, either, letting the dreads be swept up by the barber. He didn’t tell his family, either, allowing it to be a Saturday surprise at Purdue, when Michigan suddenly had two short-haired cornerbacks.

“It was great,” Floyd said. “A great feeling the next morning to just wake up and rub your head and actually feel your scalp. Great feeling.”

Will Floyd’s decision rub off on Robinson, whose dreads are third only to his untied shoelaces and running ability as traits most recognizable with Michigan’s senior quarterback?

“I’m trying to persuade him to cut them, but it’s not going to happen,” Floyd said. “Not going to happen.”

This and that: Hoke said Jordan Kovacs, who played through an injury last week, is "good." ... Hoke said Tuesday’s practice was “comparable” to what he saw last week preparing for Purdue, which he deemed some of the best practices of the season. ... Hoke said Wednesday that tight end Brandon Moore is practicing again and could play this week, but wouldn’t commit to it. Hoke also said “we’ll see” when asked about the availability of fullback Stephen Hopkins. Hopkins has missed time due to injury.