Fifth-year senior safety Jordan Kovacs has been praised during fall camp for his consistency during his time at Michigan, through his play and his demeanor. And defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who has singled out very few players during fall camp, was quick to point to Kovacs as the most consistent player the Wolverines have had so far this season on defense.
"That young man has had a tremendous camp," Mattison said. "You talk about consistency -- if you graded every play, I'd like to see that grade, because he's really working hard and he has been the most consistent."
Mattison said several other players have had consistent practices, but no single player has strung together consistently solid practices the way Kovacs has.
"He just gets better and better," Mattison said. "He's what it's all about."
PRESSURE VS. PRIDE
Mattison made an interesting distinction between the pressure and pride the defensive line feels going into the season opener against what is possibly the best offensive line in the country.
"If you have a lot of pride, then knowing the challenge that's ahead of you, you're going to think about it and you're going to work to stand up to that challenge," Mattison said. "I don't think it's pressure."
Mattison went on to say that pressure is what a group feels when it's not prepared, and despite the huge changeover from last year's D-line to this year's, he said they're prepared for their first task.
"I'm glad we have seven or eight more days, there's no doubt about that," Mattison said. "But I think the preparation has been very good."
OFFENSIVE LINE UPDATES
Michigan lost offensive guard Chris Bryant this week due to a season ending injury, depleting an already-questionable offensive line. Even so, offensive coordinator Al Borges said the line is continuing to progress and starting to gel.
"At this point we're starting to gain a bit of chemistry, which is so critical for them," Borges said.
Earlier during fall camp, Borges had said he hoped to have a starting lineup set 10 days from kick off. The starters seem to be set with left tackle Taylor Lewan, left guard Elliott Mealer, center Ricky Barnum, right guard Patrick Omameh and right tackle Mike Schofield, but the two deep is very much up in the air.
It's the team's third season-ending injury of camp, but Borges remains confident that he and the coaching staff will be able to find the right guys and field a competitive O-line against the Crimson Tide.
"You know when you lose a guy it's disconcerting, but by the same token, [offensive line coach Darrell Funk has] done a wonderful job of cross training a lot of those kids so they can play a couple different positions," Borges said. "So does it worry us? Yeah, a little bit. But not to the point where we don't feel like we have capable replacements."
Senior wide receiver Roy Roundtree is still out of practice after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery during the first week of fall camp. The rehab period Hoke gave at that point was two weeks, which would bring him back to practice this weekend.
"Mostly he's just rehabbing," Borges said. "The good thing about [Roundtree] is that he has played a lot, and he knows our offense now. He has just got to get the rust off a little bit, and he'll be fine."
It's still uncertain whether he'll play against Alabama, as Borges said it's day-to-day as far as when he'll return and to what capacity. However, he remains positive.
"I've been optimistic from the beginning, but we'll see," Borges said. "It's still too early to tell."
-- Borges said that he and Hoke have spent time discussing whether or not running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, who's currently suspended for a DUI, will play in the season opener. He didn't reveal anything further about their conversations though.
-- When asked about wide receivers, Borges mentioned that freshmen Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson are Big Ten caliber receivers and that they’ve done well in fall camp, despite taking in a difficult play book. "You're throwing what is in essence an NFL passing game at them, and that’s a lot to digest," Borges said. "That’s tougher than your toughest biology class, you know? But I think for the most part those kids have done a pretty nice job."
-- It seems as though tight end Mike Kwiatkowski will be backing up starter Brandon Moore. Borges also said freshmen Devin Funchess and A.J. Williams are doing well with trying to understand how Michigan wants them to play the position.