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Players unimpressed with ranking

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- With Michigan's blowout of Eastern Michigan this past Saturday, the Wolverines have jumped into the Associated Press Top 25, at No. 22.

But no one on the team is patting himself on the back quite yet.

"I think we're vastly overrated," tight end Kevin Koger said. "For us to be in the Top 25 right now is kind of ridiculous."

Overrated might be the right word to describe the Wolverines after three victories -- two over in-state MAC schools and one over Notre Dame, in which the Wolverines appeared lost through the first three quarters.

In 2009, Michigan spent three weeks in the Top 25 with wins over Western Michigan and Notre Dame, but after the Wolverines' 26-20 loss to Michigan State, they spent the rest of the season unranked.

And in 2010, Michigan improved on that mark by being ranked for four weeks in a row after defeating Connecticut and Notre Dame. But again, a loss to the Spartans pushed the Wolverines out of the polls for good.

"Being ranked, I think it's a curse," defensive end Ryan Van Bergen said. "Honestly, being ranked doesn't hold anything high in my standards. I would rather not be ranked until the end of the season."

Coach Brady Hoke said he won't even look at rankings until the end of November, adding that he didn't vote for the Wolverines.

"Does it matter? No," Hoke said when asked about rankings. "It's not a big deal."

Areas for improvement

With one game to go before the start of the Big Ten season, it's no secret the Wolverines have several things to fix before facing Minnesota.

When asked what one area needed the most improvement, Hoke said, "The front seven."

He didn't elaborate, but Van Bergen did.

"[Defensive coordinator Greg] Mattison is a front seven guy," Van Bergen said. "And Michigan traditionally has had a dominant defensive line and dominant linebacking corp. ... We have to play better, bottom line. In any game, we haven't played consistently throughout four quarters the way they want us to."

However, Hoke has been impressed with the Wolverines' turnover margin and pointed to four key aspects that spurred it: pressuring the opposing quarterback, tight coverage, effort, and players getting to the football.

Hoke also said he "felt" the defensive line more and more as the Eastern Michigan game went on, noting that he was impressed with Craig Roh, Jibreel Black, Mike Martin and Will Campbell.

"I think the standard for the defensive line at Michigan is going to be the highest in the country at some point," Van Bergen said. "We're definitely not playing up to that up front, myself included."

Returning to lineup

Hoke said Monday that Cam Gordon (back) and Brandon Herron (leg) could play this weekend, which would set up an interesting linebacker battle between Herron and Brandin Hawthorne.

"It's going to be intense," Hoke said. "[Herron] has got to earn it."

Herron, who had two touchdowns against Western Michigan and was named the national defensive player of the week, missed the Eastern game. Gordon has yet to take the field this season.

Additionally, this weekend's game will be the final game that punter Will Hagerup will have to spend out of uniform for the Wolverines. Hagerup was given a four-game suspension during the preseason after a violating team rules.

The sophomore started 10 games for Michigan last year and averaged 44 yards per punt. He's expected to compete with freshman Matt Wile for the starting spot.

"It enhances our competition," Hoke said.

Chantel Jennings covers University of Michigan sports for WolverineNation. She can be reached at jenningsespn@gmail.com.