Hoke emphasizes toughening Wolverines

Brady Hoke plans on his Michigan football team being tough. We know this because Hoke used some version of the word “toughness” seven times in the 24-minute press conference Tuesday to discuss the opening of spring practice Saturday.

Hoke is at Michigan because he has enjoyed success rebuilding programs at Ball State and San Diego State and, as a former Wolverine assistant under Lloyd Carr, Hoke is a lineal descendant of Bo Schembechler. Hoke seemed not to take himself too seriously -- there is a dry sense of humor there -- but he is taking very seriously the problems he sees on his new team. The Wolverines no longer will attempt to beat people as Rich Rodriguez tried to do, by spreading them out and running around them.

Michigan will line up and run at people. But there’s a problem with that. There’s a shortage of basic building blocks to a physical running game.

“I think right now we've got to see who can run the power play and get downhill and do the things we want them to do,” Hoke said. We’ve got to develop some fullbacks. We’ve got to develop some tight ends. They haven’t been used a whole lot the last couple of years.”

Hoke also mentioned a shortage of bodies on the offensive line. But he is not concerned about the ability of junior quarterback Denard Robinson to run a traditional offense.

“He’s a kid who loves to play the game,” Hoke said. “He’s hungry to play the game. There are some things at that position he’s going to have to get comfortable with but it’s the same offense he ran in high school.”

How much, Hoke was asked, will Robinson being taking snaps under center?

“A lot,” the head coach said.

The onus on offensive coordinator Al Borges this spring will be to find the fullbacks and tight ends on the roster. The onus on the Michigan players will be to go back to the basics. With new coaches, you start over.