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ANN ARBOR — Michigan’s spring football game is at noon Saturday, and the following is a guide to the game, everything from parking information to key position battles to the whereabouts of the coaching staff during the game.
IF YOU GO: The lots around Michigan Stadium, owned and operated by the university, are free to the public but once those fill, the best bet is to pay to park at Pioneer High School, located near the south west entrance of the stadium. There, cars will be charged $20 and RVs $50.
Admission to the game is free, but fans are invited to donate money to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the entrance of the stadium. Fans who donate money will receive Michigan memorabilia, with larger donations yielding better gifts. For those not attending the game, it will be shown live on Big Ten Network. Former Wolverine offensive lineman Jon Jansen will serve as analyst with Matt Shepard handling the play-by-play duties.
ALUMNI GAME: The third annual alumni flag football game is scheduled for 10-11 a.m. and will feature more than 85 former Wolverine football players from four decades. Highlighting the Maize team are tight end Aaron Shea (1996-99), wide receiver Mercury Hayes (1992-95), and quarterback John Navarre (1999-03). Some of the marquee names on the Blue team are running back Tim Biakabutuka (1993-95) and safety Marcus Ray (1995-98).
SPRING GAME: Due to lack of depth at certain positions the spring game will in essence be a controlled scrimmage. It is expected to last 90 plays, but coach Brady Hoke said this week that it may end whenever he feels enough is enough. The first team offense, led by quarterback Denard Robinson, will be on a team with the second-team defense, and the first-team defense will be paired with the second-team offense. Scoring will be kept but details related to how points are earned are unclear. Members of the winning team will be rewarded with a steak dinner, with the losers dining on hotdogs and beans.
KICKERS: Michigan kickers were a combined 4-for-14 on field goal attempts last season, and the position is seemingly still a concern. Seth Broekhuizen (3-for-9) and Brendan Gibbons (1-for-5) are competing along with sophomore Kris Pauloski and freshman Jeremy Ross. A fifth kicker, San Diego recruit Matt Wile, will arrive in August.
RUNNING BACKS: A consistent and productive running back never did emerge last season but that was in an offense much different than the one being used on Saturday. Hoke said this week that sophomore Stephen Hopkins (6-0, 227) has been the most consistent back this spring out of a group that also includes Vincent Smith, Michael Shaw, Michael Cox, and Fitzgerald Toussaint. Hopkins is also expected to play fullback, a position mostly ignored the past three years in Rich Rodriguez’s spread offense.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Hoke and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison believe a defense is only as strong as the guys up front, so with that in mind, the position battles along the line will be important. Seniors Mike Martin (tackle) and Ryan Van Bergen (end) seem to be in good standing to be named starters this fall, but the other two spots aren’t as clear. Five-star recruit Will Campbell, now a junior, is in a battle with former offensive lineman Quinton Washington at one of the tackle spots. Hoke said Campbell needs to exhibit more consistency. Two-year starter Craig Roh is looking to stave off sophomore Jibreel Black at one of the end spots.
INJURIES: Not participating in the game will be cornerbacks Troy Woolfolk and J.T. Floyd — both whom are recovering from surgeries as a result of injuries suffered last season — linebacker Kenny Demens (shoulder) and offensive tackle Taylor Lewan (elbow).
THE COACHES: Hoke plans to be on the field Saturday, standing behind the quarterback. Offensive coordinator Al Borges will work from upstairs in the coach’s box, while defensive coordinator Mattison will be on the sideline. Defensive coaches Curt Mallory (secondary) and Mark Smith (linebackers) will be in the coaches’ box too.