Michigan Football: How Hiring Doug Nussmeier Will Change Wolverines' Offense

Andrew Coppens@@andycoppensContributor IJanuary 9, 2014

Aug 4, 2013; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier signs autographs following practice at Bryant Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan coaches have long talked about being a physical run team, playing downhill and being a pro-style based team. However, that never really occurred over the past two years and it led to head coach Brady Hoke not renewing the contract (aka firing) longtime offensive coordinator Al Borges. 

It took only a few hours for the new offensive coordinator to be hired. Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier was named the new OC at Michigan with an official announcement Thursday morning

According to a report by CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman, Nussmeier is expected to be one of the five highest paid assistant coaches in college football. 

With the hire, Michigan and Hoke are putting their chips all-in in an effort to get back to winning 10-plus games and becoming relevant nationally. 

The question is, exactly what will change under Nussmeier? He'll still be dealing with the same set of players Borges couldn't mold into some sort of style. 

More than anything else, that is what Nussmeier needs to change—Michigan's offense needs to have an identity. If it can find that in one offseason, Michigan could find success quickly under Nussmeier. 

Speaking of quick turnarounds, according to Feldman's report, Alabama's offense set all sorts of records under Nussmeier's tutelage in his first year: 

Under Nussmeier's guidance, Bama set records for offensive touchdowns scored (68), total points (542), total offense (6,237) and passing touchdowns (31) in the 2012 season--his first with the Crimson Tide.

Could Michigan see that kind of improvement in year one itself? It's a good question, especially given the most talented players on offense are gone in left tackle Taylor Lewan and wide receiver Jeremy Gallon. 

However, the good news is there are parts to work with, especially tight end Devin Funchess and a very talented incoming class of recruits on the offensive side of the ball. 

One area that will really help in creating an identity under Nussmeier will be the quarterback position. His hire could signal a real quarterback battle in Ann Arbor. 

Jan 7, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron (10) talks with quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier during a timeout against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the 2013 BCS Championship game at Sun Life Stadium. Alabama won 42-
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Nussmeier is known as a great quarterbacks coach—developing names like Michigan State's Drew Stanton and Jeff Smoker, Washington's Jake Locker and Keith Price and Alabama's AJ McCarron.  

At Michigan, the question that needs to be answered is if Devin Gardner can be a true pro-style quarterback or if the Wolverines will look to shift to Shane Morris or the incoming Wilton Speight, who is enrolling early. 

Without figuring out who the quarterback is, an identity can't be formed. 

Michigan will also need to clean up the offensive line to allow it to be anything like Nussmeier's offenses at Alabama. 

To that point, Feldman's article shows he is capable of rebuilding an offensive line quickly: 

Despite a rebuilt offensive line, Bama ranked No. 6 in the nation this season in yards per play (7.15) and were ranked third in the nation in that stat in games against ranked opponents (7.59)

Luckily, Michigan has put some good effort into recruiting some more highly ranked offensive lineman in this class. 

They will bring in two 4-star tackles (Mason Cole and Juwann Bushell-Beatty), with Cole being one of the more intriguing early enrollees in the Big Ten this season.  

If Nussmeier can get a quarterback to his liking and rebuild a tattered offensive line (one that has the dubious record of blocking for consecutive negative rushing games for the first time in FBS play since 2000), the chances of finding that identity and righting the ship quickly increase. 

With the hire of Nussmeier, the time for talking about who Michigan is on offense is over—the Wolverines need to prove who they are on the field.


Andy Coppens is Bleacher Report's lead writer for the Big Ten. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens


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