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Michigan Football: Coach Brady Hoke's Holiday Wish List

Adam BiggersSenior Analyst IIDecember 23, 2013

Michigan Football: Coach Brady Hoke's Holiday Wish List

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    Brady Hoke has lost five games in each of the past two seasons.
    Brady Hoke has lost five games in each of the past two seasons.Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Brady Hoke's making a list, and he's checking it twice...

    Wait a minute. That's another guy's job. 

    But that doesn't mean that Coach Hoke, whose Michigan Wolverines face the Kansas State Wildcats on Dec. 28 in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, doesn't have his own checklist of sorts. 

    It's the holiday season, and everyone has their eye on something. In Hoke's case, that "something" is turning around a program destined for so much more than 7-5 and pre-New Year's bowls.

    How can he do that? What's Hoke wishing for? Only he knows for sure. But it certainly wouldn't hurt to take a crack at guessing, now would it? 

Depth at QB

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    Shane Morris will be a sophomore. But he lacks freshman-level in-game experience.
    Shane Morris will be a sophomore. But he lacks freshman-level in-game experience.Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

    At the moment, Devin Gardner appears to be the man Michigan's moving forward with in 2014. In 2012, he showed glimpses of greatness, leading the Wolverines to a 3-2 finish and competitive battle during a loss to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. 

    This year, Gardner threw for 451 yards vs. Ohio State, getting Michigan to within one play of victory before losing 42-41. 

    Hoke has no other choice but Gardner. And perhaps that's the issue. Having more than one quarterback, like most other programs in major college football, would only strengthen Hoke's chances of beating nemeses such as the Buckeyes and Michigan State Spartans. 

    Entering his sophomore year, Shane Morris could prove to be the top option. No harm there. That'll only give Team 135 a leg up, right? 

    While Gardner rests his turf toe, Morris takes the majority of snaps in bowl practices.

    Better late than never. Morris didn't get the opportunities he should have gotten early in the fall to showcase his 5-star arm because the Wolverines didn't put away opponents. 

    Mop-up duties require a big lead to work with. Morris simply wasn't put in that position. Had the Wolverines better prepared their young star and made light work of UConn and Akron, Morris' current experience level would much closer to a second-year signal-caller.

    Instead, he's a fairly green frosh. 

    Regardless of Saturday's outcome, Hoke's likely wishing for Morris to grow up a little against the Wildcats. Showing anything that remotely represents progress would be a wish come true for Michigan's third-year coach. 

Fitz Toussaint's Big Day

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    Fitz Toussaint rushed for 646 yards in 2013 (3.5 YPC).
    Fitz Toussaint rushed for 646 yards in 2013 (3.5 YPC).Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Saturday marks the end of the line for Fitz Toussaint, a one-time 1,000-yard rusher. 

    Now a senior, Toussaint has just one more shot to show that he was a good back who fell victim to injury, a porous offensive line and streaks upon streaks of bad luck. 

    When healthy, motivated and running forward, Toussaint is a serviceable runner. Hoke's loyalty to seniors has been evident during his tenure. Don't be shocked to see Toussaint get the lion's share of carries due to his elder statesmen status within Wolverines football. 

    Seeing a senior go out with a banner game is the dream of most coaches. That'll probably be the case Saturday as Hoke prepares for the nation's No. 37-ranked total defense. 

    And really, it doesn't have to be a "banner" game for Toussaint, just one in which he runs forward and gains positive yardage en route to boosting his club to victory. 

    That's not too much to wish for, is it? Not if you're Hoke. 

Lewan's Influence Stays Put, Despite Senior's Departure

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    Taylor Lewan's magnificent career at Michigan comes to an end Saturday.
    Taylor Lewan's magnificent career at Michigan comes to an end Saturday.Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Saturday will be the final time Taylor Lewan suits up for Michigan, but it won't be the last time his name is mentioned in relation to leadership and importance to team. 

    The senior left tackle has been lauded for his take-charge mentality and mean streak. More times than not, Lewan has lived up to his All-American status and anchored a front that will miss his presence in 2014. 

    As one of the greats at his position, Lewan will be cited as a true Hoke-era star, one who helped bridge the gap between Rich Rodriguez's three-year blunder and the now.

    With any luck, Hoke will only lose the player, not the attitude that Lewan brought to the locker room for five years. The chip that once resided on Lewan's shoulder should be left at the athletic offices for later use.

    The line will need it next season. 

Meeting of the Minds

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    Hoke, Mattison and Borges were rarely in sync during 2013.
    Hoke, Mattison and Borges were rarely in sync during 2013.Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    At times, Greg Mattison's defense was the star of the show. The coordinator certainly knows how to make life miserable for opposing offenses. 

    Imagine that defense with a clicking Al Borges offense. Borges has endured the majority of criticism from fans and media due to his snail-like pace. There would be progress one week, but then two huge steps backward the next. 

    And then, when it didn't really seem to matter much, Borges called his best act of the year during the season finale against the Buckeyesyet another case of better late than never for Team 134. 

    Hoke's probably hoping that Mattison and Borges, two worthy coordinators, can get on the same page each week in 2014. If Borges' offense puts up the 35 points that it's capable of producing and Mattison's defense holds teams to less than 20, all will be well in Ann Arbor. 

    Perfect worlds are created, one holiday wish at a time. 

Headsets, Long Sleeves

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    Get this man some longjohns. It's cold outside.
    Get this man some longjohns. It's cold outside.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Did you see Hoke during Michigan's 24-21 loss to Iowa at Kinnick Stadium? 

    It was cold. Really cold. Nineteen degrees, to be exact. 

    So why was he wearing short sleeves and a polo?

    He's a bigger guy, so yeah, he can handle the cold. But it wouldn't hurt to throw on a couple of extra layers in an effort to look the part of football coach and not like some crazy man standing bare-armed in the bone-chilling winds of Iowa City in late fall. 

    Oh, and headsets. He needs headsets. Send them to Brady Hoke, c/o of the Michigan Athletic Department, Ann Arbor, Mich.

    He'll get them. He may not use them. But he'll get them. 

    Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81. He'd like to wish all B/R readers a merry holiday season and happy new year. 

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