Michigan, 7-1 after byes since 2001, looks to come out sharp against Purdue
ANN ARBOR -- There is a finesse to handling a bye week.
Rest too much, and risk coming out sloppy. Rest too little, and risk wearing down late in the season.
It's a fine line to walk -- and Michigan has straddled it well.
The Wolverines have won seven of their past eight games after a bye, including last year's 36-14 victory against Purdue -- the same team they face Saturday (4 p.m., BTN) after taking last week off.
Michigan is feeling rejuvenated, and anticipates getting back injured players such as defensive end Brennen Beyer, fullback Stephen Hopkins, safety Marvin Robinson and defensive tackle Richard Ash.
Banged-up players such as receiver Devin Gardner and left guard Ricky Barnum also had a chance to heal nagging injuries.
“I think it helps mentally, and if it helps mentally, it’s going to help physically," said coach Brady Hoke, who is 5-4 after byes in his career. "I think the opportunity to get more treatments and do those kinds of things helps.”
The off week, which leads into Big Ten play, came at a good time for the Wolverines, who also had a chance to sort out issues at quarterback and along the lines.
"I think it was good because of the productivity that we got from having the bye week," Hoke said. "I think we got to really re-evaluate where we’re at and what we want to do. I think you evaluate yourselves a little bit as coaches. I think that’s always a big part of it.
"Different things in the aspects that you’re involved with, from the kicking, the defense, the offense. You always look at self-scouting, see where you’re at, what you might want to do different or what you like, what you’re doing."
Michigan got back to fundamentals, which Hoke said have improved since the opener.
Younger players also received a longer look, as they did last year, when Frank Clark, Desmond Morgan, Blake Countess and Beyer were among freshmen who received pronounced playing time after the off week.
The bye week gives Michigan time to cultivate those players. This year, that's key considering the Wolverines are relying on so many youngsters in their rotation.
"I think the other part, which was big, was the guys who are traveling who are freshmen have not been home since June 25th," Hoke said. "It was good to give them about 36 hours to be a human being and go home and maybe watch their high school play, see mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, aunt and uncles, whoever."
Senior defensive end Craig Roh said he feels "rested and rejuvenated" after taking the weekend off.
"A week off always helps -- less practice, less hitting," junior left tackle Taylor Lewan added. "It's an opportunity to get healthier.
"This past week, we just worked on technique and fundamentals, which is part of everything, especially for the offensive line. You can never get too much of that."