The Michigan Wolverines has been playing this game for 131 seasons. Yep that’s a lot of college football; much more than pretty much every program. But this year there’s a lot more change in Ann Arbor than usual. A new coach in Brady Hoke, another expansion to Michigan Stadium, making the big house even bigger. And the very first night game in the stadium’s history versus Notre Dame.
Hoke caught some attention at his very first Big Ten media day, for making a couple statements which sounded a bit condescending and off-putting.
“This might sound arrogant, and if it is, it is. We’re Michigan,” Hoke said.
“We have a global education. We’re the winningest program in the history of college football. We have a tremendous staff of guys. The lifeblood for all of us, no doubt, is the guys you bring in your program. We’ve really tried to focus on the guys that fit the mold of Michigan with the integrity and character that we want to have.”
His other arrogant statement:
“Well, I don’t think we’re rebuilding, period. I mean, we’re Michigan. We’ve got kids who understand that they’re Michigan.”
2010 was: 7-6, 3-5 in conference with a huge bowl loss to Mississippi State. The defense was an abomination at stopping the run (103rd) and the pass. Coordinator Greg Robinson was just a pathetic train wreck. The offense had balance and was nothing short of juggernautorial (yes, I know that’s not a word). In other words, Michigan was about as one-sided, and overall mediocre, as any team in college football. QB Denard Robinson won the Big Ten MVP award, and was as dual threat at anyone in the country.
It’s no longer all about the spread-option shotgun in 2011. He’ll be under-center and running a more pro style attack now.
“I was under center all the time, I didn’t get into the shotgun until my junior and senior year,” he said of his high school experience.
BMOCs: Denard first and foremost. As exciting as he is to watch on the field, he’s that boring to talk to off the field. You won’t find a more electrifying player, and more boring sound bite anywhere else in the Big Ten. WR Roy Roundtree, RB Michael Shaw, CB Troy Woolfolk has NFL bloodlines, and will try coming back after missing all of 2010 from injury. DT Mike Martin, was described by Hoke: “He’s been blessed with a first step and quickness, he’s not shy. He’ll be physical and so I think he’s got great leverage, can bend and has explosion.”
2011 will be fruitful if: Denard has another year like 2010, when he became the first player in NCAA history to pass for 2,500 yards and rush for 1,500 yards in a single season. And a couple more skill position players also put up similar big numbers. That’ll chew up clock and keep the defense rested.
2011 will be awful if: the undersized defense is just as terrible, despite abandoning that laughable 3-3-5 scheme (hey, you know the one position group on your entire team which is more battered by injury than any other? Yeah, well how about we scheme to get as many of them on the field as possible, as much as possible.) Who cares about the lack of depth). Oh and there’s the kicking game. Both PK combined to go 4-14, at least they have freshmen help there.
Bottom Line: 7-8 wins. Rich Rodriguez increased his win total all three years he was in Ann Arbor. Yet we all knew he was fired- for what seems like the entire season. He was de facto fired before he even got hired, because he wasn’t a “Michigan Man.” Hoke will have the leeway and slack that Rodriguez didn’t.
UM Rankings: #40 Athlon, #29 Lindy’s, #44 Phil Steele
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site that generates millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
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