In flux throughout most of fall camp, the running back situation appears to have worked itself out with sophomore Derrick Green listed as the starter followed by De’Veon Smith, as well as Justice Hayes or Drake Johnson at third string.
“The way Derrick finished fall camp is why he’s there at the top of the list,” Hoke said.
Hoke adding, “There’s no default, at all. That’s not how we operate. With both of those guys have done it’s been really productive.”
After struggling in a mid camp scrimmage at Michigan Stadium, the offensive line is coming together.
Redshirt sophomore Kyle Kalis remains the wild card after battling an injury to his back early, the former five-star recruit is making a push and could still factor into the mix Saturday.
“Offensively, having Kalis back, we were a little concerned obviously two weeks ago, two and a half weeks ago when his back flared up,” Hoke said. “He rested it and did what the trainers and the rehab specialists, did a great job. So, at that right guard position he’s been getting a lot of good reps and that’s exciting.
“There’s been competition and I would say Joey Burzynski also. (Kyle) Bosch on the left side with (Erik) Magnuson is a real plus.”
At left tackle, true freshman Mason Cole tops the depth chart continuing to impress with his play leading up to game week.
After securing the starting punt return job, revealed by Hoke Friday, true freshman Jabrill Peppers is listed as the starter at nickel as well with strong pushes out of Blake Countess and Raymon Taylor to be the No. 1 corners. Sophomore Jourdan Lewis is also listed as “or” behind Taylor.
“You look at the corner position, I think Ray and Blake both had little nicks early in camp as far as leg problems to some degree but they really came on at the end,” Hoke said. “And that competition was really great throughout camp.”
Inside on the defensive line, Hoke believes any number of young guys will rotate and factor in this fall with redshirt sophomore Willie Henry standing out.
“We’ve narrowed it down a little bit and I’ll speak from a defensive perspective first but you know the tackle position, Willie Henry, (Matt) Godin, (Chris) Wormley, Tom Strobel, all have improved themselves as football players,” Hoke said.
“And again that comes from competition. I think Willie has separated himself a little bit but at the same time he knows everyday those other guys are doing a good job.”
No word on Ty Isaac
Hoke was asked about the status of USC running back transfer Ty Isaac, offering no official update but did indicate that the initial application for an NCAA waiver has been denied.
“Still haven’t heard anything back from the appeal,” Hoke said.