Michigan to practice at Ford Field
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Michigan Wolverines are 11 days away from their season opener against Alabama, but they are hitting the road on Wednesday.
To try to simulate the atmosphere of Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Brady Hoke is taking the Wolverines down I-94 for an evening practice in downtown Detroit.
"We're going to have a practice at Ford Field," Hoke said Tuesday. "We won't have a scrimmage, but we'll run some situational drills that puts some pressure on our players."
The Michigan players are looking forward to the experience of working out in the local NFL stadium.
"We are all keeping our minds on the fact that this is a business trip," said Detroit Cass Tech grad Thomas Gordon. "Still, it is going to be fun, especially for me. I'm getting to take the team home with me."
For most of the Wolverines, their only experience in a NFL stadium was in last season's Sugar Bowl.
"That's the only time I've played in a stadium like that," said defensive back Blake Countess. "Getting a practice at Ford Field will be good experience for us, and it should be fun."
Although Hoke hopes to get his team used to playing in a world-class stadium -- both Ford Field and Cowboys Stadium have hosted Super Bowls -- an empty building isn't going to help his team deal with the sound level expected in Dallas. To take care of that, the coaching staff has set up speakers to blast simulated crowd noise and rock music.
"There's no perfect way to get them prepared for the noise, but this is the best way we have," Hoke said. "I think we finished practice with some AC/DC today."
Ricky Barnum, the new starting center, said the music hasn't been a problem for him and Denard Robinson yet.
"I've been snapping to Denard since we were freshmen, so we've got the chemistry down," he said. "The speakers are tricky, though. They were set up right behind the offensive line, so it has been really loud.
"It's all been good, clean-cut music, though."
Wide receiver Roy Roundtree was originally doubtful for the Alabama game after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery about three weeks before the game. However, Roundtree is already running in pads, and Hoke now thinks his top receiver will be on the field in Dallas.
"He's not practicing yet, but he is very close," Hoke said. "At this point, I think he would be on pace to play in the opener."
NO REPRIEVE FOR SUSPENDED DUO
Starting tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint and defensive end Frank Clark both remain suspended as the Alabama game approaches. The pair, who both had offseason run-ins with the law, were allowed back to practice last week, but Hoke hasn't tipped his hand on when they will be allowed to play.
"Right now, they are in the same boat and they've each got one oar," Hoke said. "To change into the right boat, they have to show me that they are going to make the right decisions on and off the field.
"I don't know when that is going to happen."