Hoke, players happy with bye week

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Just over a week removed from a 13-6 loss at Notre Dame, Michigan coaches and players are starting to feel as though the bye week fell at an opportune time as they prepare to face their first Big Ten matchup this Saturday against Purdue.

The weekend off at the beginning of the conference season gave the Wolverines a chance to recharge, and they even got a 36-hour break from football -- their first of the season.

"I think it helps mentally," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. "And if it helps mentally, it's going to help you physically. I really believe that. I think the opportunity to get more treatments and do those type of things helps."

When not receiving treatments last week, Michigan spent most of its time getting back to the basics and focusing on the fundamentals that have frustrated this team so far this season.

Redshirt junior left tackle Taylor Lewan said he appreciated the time to rest his body. He also enjoyed the fact with a week off and no need to start preparing for Purdue until this week, the team was able to work on technique, especially after such a disappointing performance against Notre Dame.

He said the offensive line missed 23 assignments against the Fighting Irish, when as a unit it should only miss two or three a game. He referred to them as "game spasms," or technical errors that arise in games but not practice. With a week of returning to fundamentals, he hopes the Wolverines can avoid these game spasms as they move forward in the Big Ten season.

"It's the little things," Lewan said. "But it's the little things that we need to fix as a team or we're not going to be successful."

And, for the offensive and defensive lines, which hit hard every day in practice, the week off meant a bit of time to hit less hard. At times during last week the Wolverines did do one-on-ones, but the total amount of hitting was less than the usual week.

"It's an opportunity to get healthier," Lewan said. "A week off always helps -- less practice, less hitting. And I think that's always a good opportunity -- especially in the middle of the season -- for a team to start being more successful."

Senior defensive end Craig Roh agreed with Lewan on all fronts.

"I feel very rested and rejuvenated," Roh said. "I had a lot of time to catch up on some sleep … I think the defense, we had a couple different practices and I think we made even more strides with our technique. Any day we get to come in and work more on our technique makes us that much better."

Additionally, the bye week was a chance for several freshmen on Michigan's travel roster to go home. Even though it was for less than two days to return to their families, it was the first time those freshmen were able to visit since late June.

"It was good to give them about 36 hours to be a human being and go home and maybe watch their high school play, see mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles, whomever," Hoke said. "I thought that was positive."

With all of these factors Michigan seems to be in a much better place than it was a week ago after the loss to the Irish. And moving forward the Wolverines also have history on their side. They've won their first game after the bye week in eight of the past nine seasons.

And while Michigan and Hoke might feel great about the mental, physical, familial and academics aspects that this bye week allotted the team, Hoke said he wouldn't know for sure how good of a bye week this wass until the end of the season.

"I don't know when is a good bye week, I really don't, but I think this one could be timed well," Hoke said. "But we'll know eight weeks from now."