ANN ARBOR — A new day is coming for the Michigan football team. Make that a new night.
The Wolverines will host an open practice and scrimmage at 8 p.m. on Saturday at Michigan Stadium.
While few have any recent memory of such an event being held at Michigan, fourth-year coach Brady Hoke sees it as an opportunity to present his team with an uncharacteristic way to prepare for the season — another stress, as he calls it.
“We’ve talked about keeping stress on the players,” said Hoke, whose team opens the season at noon on Aug. 30 against Appalachian State.
“Because there’s some youth in there at a few positions, but also overall. Because of the mechanics of the offense, the mechanics of the defense, the communication process that we need to make sure we need to have on every play.”
Creating stress might involve pumping in simulated crowd noise during a scrimmage or blasting heavy-metal music during practice drills.
Saturday night, it will involve scrimmaging in front of a live audience. A Michigan athletic department spokesman said Thursday that nearly 30,000 spectators registered to attend the preseason scrimmage.
Online registration ended Wednesday afternoon, but walk-up attendance is still available.
“You’ve got to make it where they can focus and lock in, that they’re hearing the calls from the guy next to him,” Hoke said.
Hoke said last week the idea to open the scrimmage to the public was his, and the Wolverines see its benefit.
“A lot of people are coming to see us show off a product of our hard work and what we’ve been working for,” red-shirt sophomore wide receiver Jehu Chesson said. “It’s like a painter painting something and showing it off to the public. We’ve been here, we’ve been working hard and we want to show off what we’re doing. Hopefully, it will come together during the season.”
Saturday will be UM’s second scrimmage.
The Wolverines ran 140 plays, including 55 with the first- and second-teams, Wednesday night at Michigan Stadium.
“A lot of guys got a lot of playing time and saw some different situations,” senior linebacker Desmond Morgan said.
“We worked on communication and things like that. Guys get a little bit more of that game-type feel, being up in the stadium.”
“It’s one of those routine things, getting up there, getting a feel of how the game flows. Obviously, you can’t emulate it exactly, but you get that feeling in working together.”
Following the season opener against Appalachian State, UM will play a night game the following week (Sept. 6) at Notre Dame, the first of three night games that are scheduled so far.
"With the mindset that they can have and how we'll go into [the scrimmage], a little bit of it will also be for night-game purposes," Hoke said. "You want to at least be in a stadium a little bit before then."