LARRY LAGE,AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Michigan is leaning on a lot freshmen in Brady Hoke’s second season, putting players he signed on the field and leaving some of Rich Rodriguez’s recruits on the bench.
“It’s by design and necessity,” Hoke said.
Tight end Devin Funchess played a lot because Brandon Moore was injured in the season-opening loss to Alabama.
Linebacker Joe Bolden got a lot of action after fifth-year senior Kenny Demens started against Air Force and ended up watching much of the game from the sideline.
Both freshmen made the most of their opportunities in the Wolverines’ 31-25 win over the Falcons on Saturday.
Funchess had four receptions for 106 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown in which he outleaped a defender on a lofted pass from Denard Robinson.
Even though the 6-foot-4, 229-pound Funchess is a player former from nearby Harrison High School in Farmington Hills, many Michigan fans at the Big House didn’t know who he was until he had a breakout performance that was much needed in a closely contested game.
Robinson, though, wasn’t surprised to see Funchess make the most of his chances to contribute.
“He was one of the guys that always makes plays in practice,” Robinson said. “We looked to him in fall camp and used him. He played a heck of a game.”
Funchess became the first Michigan tight end to have 100-plus yards receiving since 1997 when Jerame Tuman did it against Colorado, but didn’t seem to be impressed by himself.
“I just went out there and did my job like I was supposed to, like I was coached in practice to do,” he said. “I learned from Brandon Moore and Mike Kwiatkowski how to get off coverages, and it helped me in the game.”
Bolden, who hails from Cincinnati, made 10 tackles to provide a boost for a defense that had a lot of problems with Air Force’s option.
“Joe had a pretty good feel for the option part of it,” Hoke said. “At Colerain High School, that’s all that they run. He saw things maybe a little bit more than we were, but it is more just trying to keep guys fresh and trying to rotate them through.”
Michigan moved up two spots to No. 17 in The Associated Press college football poll on Sunday.
The Wolverines (1-1) host Massachusetts (0-2) this week, a matchup that should give their freshman another chance to gain experience and build confidence before a tough test Sept. 22 at Notre Dame.
Hoke liked his last recruiting class when it was signed, and seems to think even more of it now.
“We recruit them because we think they are going to be good players,” Hoke said. “And, some of them are showing that.”
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