By: Will Burchfield
If there’s one team that won’t be intimidated by the size of a stadium, it’s Michigan, residents of the Big House.
So the Wolverines aren’t doing anything differently in practice this week as they prepare to take on No. 17 Florida on Saturday at the sprawling venue that is Jerry’s World.
“We play at a big venue every weekend,” said offensive coordinator Tim Drevno. “Nothing different, just prepare. We’re Michigan, man. We play in big games. That’s who we are and that’s why we’re here.”
AT&T Stadium has a capacity of 100,000. It figures to be pretty evenly divided on Saturday afternoon between Michigan fans and Florida fans. The Wolverines, who routinely play in front of bigger crowds, have endured far more hostile conditions.
The concern is in this year’s team’s experience, or lack thereof. No. 11 Michigan returns just five starters, the fewest of any FBS team, and will be relying on multiple players versus Florida who are still wet behind the ears. For freshman and first-time starters, the sights and sounds will be very new.
“I think we’ll learn a lot,” said defensive coordinator Don Brown. “We’ve got a number of guys that will be in the soup, literally, for their first go-around. They’re gonna go through their adversity and how they come out of that adversity and continue to play are really important elements. You’re looking to develop some confidence as you move forward. A big challenge for us.”
Drevno said he’s especially excited to see Michigan’s highly-touted freshman receivers, including Tarik Black and Donovan Peoples-Jones, perform for the first time in a game. But he’s not treating the season-opener as any kind of benchmark for his young players.
“I don’t see it as a measuring stick. We’ve got what we got. We don’t approach this game any differently because we’ve got a young football team,” said Drevno.
He added he’s “100 percent confident in what we have in the locker room.”
As for Brown, he can’t wait to rip the wrapping off the regular season.
“Can we just play a game? I’m tired of coaching practice. I want to see our guys play and then we can (gauge), this is where you are, this is where we’re going. But what a huge game, what a great venue. Our guys are really excited, and I’m really looking forward to seeing us play,” said Brown.