Derrick Green to miss rest of season, Hoke mum on other injuries

Derrick Green will miss the rest of the season after breaking his clavicle late in Saturday's loss at Rutgers.

Rick Osentoski

ANN ARBOR — Brady Hoke hates to talk about injuries, a trait that didn’t help him during the controversy over the treatment of Shane Morris.

Monday, though, he didn’t have a choice.

Hoke started his weekly press conference with the announcement that tailback Derrick Green will miss the rest of the season after breaking his clavicle late in Saturday’s loss at Rutgers. Green had started all six games and leads Michigan in rushing with 471 yards.

"We’ll miss Derrick, but this is like everything else in competition and in sports," Hoke said. "The next man has to step up."

After making an exception for Green, since he is out for the season, Hoke went back to his cloak-and-dagger secrecy about injuries, making it impossible to know who that next man will be. De’Veon Smith has backed up Green, and looked quite impressive at times, averaging 6.0 yards a carry, but he was also injured against the Scarlet Knights.

How badly? That’s not something you are allowed to know.

"I’m not going to talk about injuries that aren’t season-ending," Hoke said, not for the last time.

After repeating the same sentence after a question about talented freshman defensive back Jabrill Peppers, who wasn’t even on the sidelines against Rutgers, he went back to it when asked about senior linebacker Desmond Morgan.

"We must not listen very well," he chided the media. "I’m not going to talk about injuries that aren’t season-ending."

Hoke’s rationale is that, if he discusses his player’s health, it will give his opponents the advantage of knowing which players they can ignore while putting together a game plan. It’s a common theory — Lions coach Jim Caldwell does the same thing, while Brad Ausmus uses a version of it by refusing to tell media members which relievers will be unavailable for that day’s game. NHL coaches, on a good day, will tell you that a player has either hurt the upper or lower half of his body. On a bad day, they won’t tell you at all.

On the other hand, Jim Leyland won 1,769 major-league games, three pennants and a World Series while discussing his bullpen status with anyone who wanted to listen, and the refusal to answer has a sour sound coming so soon after the national firestorm started when a series of communication failures led to Morris staying in the game with a brain injury, returning to the game moments later, still without an examination, and Hoke telling the media that Morris did not have a concussion a full day after the diagnosis was made.

Hoke even dodged a question about Morris, saying only "he’s practicing" when asked to elaborate when he had returned to the field, since the Wolverines skipped their normal Sunday workout. At one point, he was being so careful to make sure that it was clear that he wasn’t giving out any information that he said "I’m pretty sure I didn’t just say anything."

That’s how coaches think, but at a program already under siege for screwing up a player’s serious injury, it might be time for Hoke to sacrifice secrecy for transparency. 

After all, keeping things under wraps hasn’t really helped the Wolverines, has it?