ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Seven games in, Michigan is having a long year.
Mentally and physically wearing, the Wolverines 3-4 start to the season has been anything but easy for Brady Hoke’s crew, that’s why, with five games to play and two monster rivalry games remaining beginning with Saturday’s match-up at No. 8 Michigan State, the bye week proved extremely beneficial.
“The bye week was good for us; it's a benefit to get some guys healthy,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. “There are bumps and bruises. We have been at it since August and we are pretty competitive and pretty physical in what we do. So four weeks of camp and seven straight weeks, it came at the right time.
“We were able to rest some guys, and I think that is a big part of it, and at the same time we were able to get some guys who were right on that line, depending on how you get beat up or bumped along, you may have some other guys that have to get in there and represent.”
Michigan junior wide receiver Devin Funchess is among the many players that utilized his down time wisely.
Injuring his leg in Michigan’s week two loss at Notre Dame, while also battling other undisclosed injuries as the season has gone on, Funchess is finally feeling better.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Funchess said. “This is not like when I first went down, it was just a week to recover, so I’m just feeling really good. That seven game streak was a lot on my body and the bye week helped me out a little bit.”
“Anybody going from all the way on the west coast to Oregon or right here in Michigan, anybody on the bye week feels a lot better cause you’ve got a week off of playing football on a Saturday,” Funchess added.
“So, it’s just a lot of time off, time to heal your body.”
In practice, the bye week also provides added reps without the pressure of prepping for the next opponent, something Funchess focused on to make improvements moving forward.
“There’s always something to improve,” Funchess said. “I missed some blocks in the Rutgers game, I missed two blocks and some other games I missed blocks.
“You just have to focus on that and then focus on catching all the way through. I dropped one (against) Penn State as everybody knows and I feel like I should’ve caught that.”
With the Spartans awaiting Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m./est in East Lansing, Hoke hopes Michigan comes out ready to play in the hopes of turning things around down the stretch.
"I think there probably have been (downsides),” Hoke said. “I try and go back and think over the years as an assistant and then as a head coach.
“We had a bye week at Ball State, and we were playing really good, and we didn't play so good the next time out. I think the one thing we have always tried to do, is the speed that you play with; the efficiency, with the sharpness, the quickness.
“If you can get that, I think the other part is the communication that your team needs to have. That is the only way I know how to judge it.”
And Michigan will be judged fully based on the result Saturday at Michigan State.