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Michigan may shift defender to offense

ANN ARBOR — At some point today Michigan's football coaching staff will discuss whether to reassign disappointing sophomore Will Campbell from defensive tackle to offensive guard, Wolverine head coach Rich Rodriguez said Tuesday.

It appears the coaches are growing impatient with Campbell, a highly thought of member of the 2009 recruiting class. Listed third on the depth chart at nose guard, he has recorded just one tackle.

“He might be better suited for playing offensive guard,” Rodriguez said. “We don't know yet. We're going to talk about it.”

Rodriguez's staff was expected to return to the office this morning after being out on the road the past two days recruiting. Should they choose to move Campbell, it will be done today, Rodriguez said, so that Campbell will have a week and a half to learn the position before the Wolverines' next game, Oct. 30 at Penn State.

Rodriguez seemed conflicted Tuesday as he laid out the pros and cons of moving Campbell.

Perhaps indicating Campbell will indeed stay put, Rodriguez said most likely any position change made this week will be minor, such as an offensive guard moving to offensive tackle, or a free safety moving to strong safety. But Rodriguez also acknowledged Campbell is behind “a couple of pretty good guys” in junior starter Mike Martin and senior back up Adam Patterson and that Campbell has had issues with conditioning and technique.

“I don't know if it's possible to switch and learn the position from one side of the ball to the other that quickly,” Rodriguez said. “That's hard to do, but we'll probably talk about him [today].”

BREWSTER REACTION: Rodriguez seemed to be defending himself and his own job security Tuesday when discussing Minnesota's firing of coach Tim Brewster on Sunday.

Rodriguez, who began the year on the hot seat before starting off 5-0, said school administrators often lack an understanding of how much time a coach needs to alter a program to his own specifications.

“Probably because of the money they're paying us,” Rodriguez said. “It has become more and more like the pro model. In college it's more difficult, I think, to build the program the way you want to in a short amount of time because you don't have free agency. If a guy gets hurt, you can't pull [another player] off the practice squad.”

Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi seemed to take a shot at Brewster this week when he said the Gophers' next coach is “not following Vince Lombardi” here.

Hired before the start of the 2007 season, Brewster was just 15-30 and 6-21 in Big Ten games. The Gophers, who host Penn State on Saturday, dropped their sixth straight game last week at Purdue. They are still to play top 15 teams Ohio State, Michigan State, and Iowa.

Co-offensive coordinator Jeff Horton has been named the interim coach.

“We really have nothing to lose,” Horton said. “We can try anything. If it works, it works. If it doesn't, who cares? We're going to try to make things happen.”

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com or 419-724-6160.

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