- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Michigan's players and coaches had said since the bye week that more freshmen would find their way into playing time.
On Saturday, that showed early. Two freshmen -- cornerback Blake Countess and linebacker Desmond Morgan -- started the game on defense. Two others, defensive lineman Frank Clark and linebacker Brennen Beyer, played often during the game's first two drives.
Beyer, in particular, played the majority of the first half on defense -- often in place of redshirt freshman Jake Ryan.
"Brennan Beyer played a lot of football," Hoke said. "This is a good environment for a freshman to play."
Hoke reserved judgment of Beyer's game -- he said Beyer played "good, I think" -- until after he watches film of the game.
Countess had six tackles and a pass breakup, Morgan had six tackles and Beyer had four tackles.
The biggest question leading into Saturday was whether junior safety Jordan Kovacs would play or not against the Hawkeyes.
Not only did he play -- he started and didn't come off the field on defense, making six tackles. Kovacs said coaches worked him into the rotation during the week, giving him an idea he'd play with his left knee injury.
So he was out there, blue brace on the knee and all.
"It felt great," Kovacs said of his knee.
Kovacs' return also bumped safety Thomas Gordon, Michigan's second-leading tackler (52 tackles) and leading fumble recoverer (three), from the lineup in favor of a starting safety set of Kovacs and fifth-year senior Troy Woolfolk.
Gordon played, but only on special teams and not at safety.
This And That
Hoke appeared displeased with the officials picking up a potential pass interference flag thrown in the first half. Asked after the game, Hoke said "one (official) said it was. One guy said it wasn't." ... Guard Ricky Barnum and safety Marvin Robinson didn't make the trip to Iowa. Hollowell and senior linebacker Brandon Herron did make the trip. ... Denard Robinson left the game briefly because of a hand injury, but returned.
15hJosh Moyer and Tom VanHaaren