The Wolverine

April 2013

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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"You turn the ball over six times at Notre Dame, three times against Ohio, don't do anything in the second half against Ohio, don't stop them with 6:45 left in the game, to give your offense another chance. "Denard [Robinson] gets hurt right before halftime at Nebraska, and that puts Russell [Bellomy] in a tough situation. You look at where you didn't get it done, and you have an emphasis on it." Hoke will emphasize any number of points to his returning veterans — along with six early enrollee freshmen — during the 15 spring workouts, culminating in the April 13 spring game at Michigan Stadium. More than anything else, though, the head coach insists the Wolverines receive and embrace one overriding message. It's simply this: compete more fiercely than they ever have before. "We were an 8-5 football team because we've got to compete better," Hoke pointed out. "It's a four- to six-second competition, every play. That's about how long a play is going to last. Who is going to compete the most, and who is going to have the most guys competing? "It's a mentality. It's built on toughness. It's built on having a commitment to yourself and to the game and to your teammates. You have to have that accountability." The sting lingers from an Outback Bowl in which the Wolverines stood toe-to-toe against No. 11 South Carolina, only to lose on a defensive breakdown with 11 seconds remaining. "It never comes down to the last play, but we had opportunities where we didn't — as a team and as coaches — win football games," Hoke said. "As a team, you want to work through that in the spring. In the winter, it's all been about how we compete. "It's not the quantity, but the quality of every repetition. We've got to raise our competition level. We have a good understanding of that. That comes from the older guys on the team, but also from willing and able younger guys who want to be part of something special." Devin Gardner Needs To Lead Quarterback Devin Gardner became a huge part of Michigan's stretch drive in 2012. The junior took over when Denard Robinson went down with his arm injury. There isn't any question Gardner wants the next two seasons to be special. He'll have a say in that, meaning plenty of eyes will focus on the freespirited quarterback out of Detroit. Michigan coaches haven't always been sold on Gardner's preparation, but Hoke went out of his way to praise the effort the 6-4 signal-caller put in when stepping up in Robinson's absence. "I think he's grown up," Hoke said. "He's not all the way there yet, but he's done a nice job. He's understanding he's the quarterback at the University of Michigan, and that's a big deal. You've got to have a mentality that knows how to handle it. "You've got to have a mentality of

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