- Marissa McClain/Daily
By Stephen J. Nesbitt, Daily Sports Editor
Published August 7, 2012
The Michigan football team’s ‘Team 133’ opened fall camp on Monday outside Al Glick Field House. The players, wearing helmets but no pads, came out aggressive, just the way its second-year head coach Brady Hoke wanted.
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Hoke called it “a good first day.” So what went right?
“Well, we lined up right,” Hoke said. “We didn’t have too many balls on the ground. Didn’t have a whole lot of penalties. Personally, I like it when it’s a little chippy — come out with an attitude to compete with each other.”
No-pads practices are a test of conditioning, and Hoke was pleased with the conditioning of the players after three months away. Hoke said a main goal of practices without pads is the installation of new packages or shore up schemes on both sides of the ball, an important step forward in improving from year one to year two under the new coaching staff.
But on day one, Hoke wanted to re-establish the level of physicality he installed last fall. According to the players, that aggressive style of play was readily evident on Monday and it really never wavered over the summer.
“To tell you the truth, with equipment on or without, we’re still going to hit each other,” said senior nose guard Will Campbell. “That’s just the mentality he brought to the program.
“Receivers and defensive backs didn’t really hit, but the boys up front are a yard from each other so I guess we had a little bumps and bruises. But that’s camp.”
Most of the incoming freshman class is still in summer classes and won’t be able to attend the entirety of fall practices until the semester finishes next week. Several of the veteran players singled out freshman wide receiver Amara Darboh as the standout rookie in the first practice.
“He had a couple catches that shocked us,” said senior quarterback Denard Robinson. “He competed today — you could tell that he wants to play.”
For Hoke, a coach who repeated the mantra “competition at every position” over and over last fall, having a touted freshman class join the ranks can only improve the rest of the team.
“We’re going to manufacture (competition) as much as we can and put stress on our players and get them out of their comfort zone so that Saturdays are easy,” Hoke said. “That’s part of what the plan has always been …
“Obviously when you’re going out there without pads on, helmets on, it can be deceiving at times, but I liked how we practiced with only helmets on.”
TOUSSAINT, CLARK SIT OUT: Michigan opened fall camp missing two key cogs.
Redshirt junior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and sophomore defensive end Frank Clark are indefinitely suspended from the team pending legal charges and did not participate in practice on Monday.
Toussaint was arrested in late July on charges of operating a vehicle while visibly impaired, and Clark will go to court in early September for a second-degree home invasion charge.
When will the pair return?
“I don’t know that,” Hoke said.
Hoke has not set a timeline for their return, nor whether they will be available for the season opener against defending-champion Alabama on Sept. 1.
ROBINSON PLEADS GUILTY: Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Jerald Robinson pleaded guilty on Monday to a misdemeanor charge of destruction of property from earlier this year.
Robinson practiced with the team later on Monday and Hoke said his punishment is effectively over.
INJURY NOTE: Hoke made note of only one injury on Monday. Redshirt freshman linebacker Antonio Poole remains sidelined with a pectoral injury.