Michigan Bye Week Affords No Rest for Brady Hoke with Spartan Defense Ahead

Phil CallihanContributor IOctober 26, 2013

The final games on Michigan's schedule give Brady Hoke a lot to worry about.
The final games on Michigan's schedule give Brady Hoke a lot to worry about.

Michigan heads into its second bye week of the season haunted by narrow victories over Akron and UConn.

Those games, more so than the four-overtime loss to Penn State, give Brady Hoke nightmares despite his team's 63-47 win last week over Indiana. Hoke knows that if the Wolverines had beat Akron and UConn convincingly, Michigan would have an easier path to a BCS bowl bid.

And now, in Hoke's third season, the Wolverines face a critical stretch of games, including rival Michigan State following the bye. If Michigan runs the table, it'll be in the running for a BCS spot.
If not, questions will begin about whether Hoke is the right man for the job.

You would think the coach could take comfort in his sterling offensefive games of at least 40 points and four games of at least 400 total yardsbut a closer look reveals the numbers have come against some less-than-impressive defenses:

APPEARANCES ARE DECEIVING
OpponentMichigan PointsMichigan YardsOpponent Defense Rank
CMU5946391
ND4146040
Akron2842578
UConn2428949
Minnesota4234846
Penn State4038916
Indiana63119119
NCAA Statistics Web Site

The problem is that there are no patsies left on the schedule. Michigan has to travel to Spartan Stadium on Nov. 2, Northwestern on Nov. 16 and Iowa on Nov. 23, while playing host to No. 24 Nebraska and then Urban Meyer's Buckeyes in the regular-season finale.

The games against MSU, OSU and Iowa are especially troubling, as the chart below shows.

COMING ATTRACTIONS
OpponentDefensive Ranking
MSU1
Ohio State14
Iowa11
NCAA Statistics Web Site

Brady Hoke is undefeated at home, under Urban Meyer Ohio State is just plain undefeated
Brady Hoke is undefeated at home, under Urban Meyer Ohio State is just plain undefeated/Getty Images

Even Northwestern and Nebraska, which have weak defenses, are cause for concern since they run spread offenses.

The real issue might be that even Hoke doesn't know which Wolverines team will show up each week. The defense bailed out the offense for a few weeks, and now the team has had to outscore its defensive shortcomings, as ESPN pointed out.

With an extra week to prepare, Hoke can only hope for a consistent effort.

"I'd like to see the same offense show up," Hoke said, via ESPN. "But maybe a different defense."