5 Issues We Would Love Michigan's Brady Hoke to Address at Big Ten Media Days
The Big Ten begins gearing up for the season with its annual event for media and fans in Chicago. Big Ten Media Days and Kickoff Luncheon will be held July 28-29 and feature 42 players and coaches from the conference schools.
Brady Hoke enters this season with his honeymoon in Ann Arbor definitely over after a late-season slide that knocked his team out of Big Ten title contention and included disappointing losses to both Michigan State and Ohio State.
Hoke will be joined in Chicago by a trio of seniors—defensive end Frank Clark, quarterback Devin Gardner and linebacker Jake Ryan.
Here is a wish list of issues fans would love to hear Brady Hoke address as his team prepares for a season that could make or break his tenure at Michigan.
After last season’s 7-6 finish, Hoke switched offensive coordinators dismissing Al Borges and bringing in Doug Nussmeier from Alabama.
Where to begin?
Borges was hailed after a surprising 11-2 first season and rewarded with a contract that, including salary and incentives, doubled his pay, making him one of the best-paid assistant coaches in college football.
But there were signs that the offense was struggling before last season. Borges never seemed dedicated to installing the bruising running game that Hoke favors.
Did Borges go rogue or did problems on the offensive line and running back prevent the power running game from materializing last season?
Hoke is unlikely to directly answer these questions, but they cut to the core of evaluating his performance as head coach. Players have mentioned that the offensive game plans were too complicated last season, especially for team with a patchwork offensive line.
How did Borges go from hero to goat, and how much input did athletic director David Brandon have in his dismissal?
Hoke won’t touch this with a ten-foot pole, but many believe that Brandon is highly involved in the evaluation of players and coaches.
Senior Devin Gardner has the respect of the Michigan locker room after a gutsy performance last season, playing with a broken foot vs. Ohio State, but is Doug Nussmeier a fan?
Gardner has had a wild ride at Michigan, playing behind Denard Robinson, bouncing between wide receiver and quarterback and now working under his third offensive coordinator.
Michigan has four talented quarterbacks on the depth chart: Gardner, Shane Morris, Wilton Speight and Russell Bellomy. All but Gardner have eligibility beyond this season.
How much rope does Gardner have before Nussmeier starts grooming next year’s quarterback?
Michigan’s offensive line was atrocious last season. The team cycled nine players through the five starting positions and lost its two best players to the NFL. Injuries and poor performance caused a constant churn up front, which contributed to the team’s November collapse.
With Michigan’s entire season dependent on a greatly improved offensive line, how does Hoke replace tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield while successfully implementing a new offensive scheme?
Michigan has talent but little experience returning and even less leadership. Graham Glasgow was expected to anchor the line at center until an offseason arrest caused him to miss part of spring practice.
Erik Magnuson, Kyle Bosch, Kyle Kalis and Ben Braden will be in the mix, and freshman Mason Cole looked impressive during spring practice.
Hoke might just have to shrug his shoulders when asked to predict starters for the offensive line prior to fall camp, but how the position group develops will be a key storyline throughout the season.
Hoke’s handling of disciplinary problems has begun to raise questions.
The dismissal of Brendan Gibbons and the cheap shots and off-the-field problems of Taylor Lewan brought unneeded attention to a team that was in a tailspin.
Gibbons was dismissed for an incident that happened prior to Hoke's arrival in Ann Arbor as head coach. Hoke was evasive when asked about why Gibbons didn’t play versus Ohio State and didn’t travel with team for its bowl game.
What should have been a firm “No comment” become something that came across as less than truthful. It’s one thing to protect your player; it’s another thing to fabricate excuses to cover the consequences of bad behavior.
Lewan followed up some cheap shots on the field during the season with an alleged fight off-the-field with Ohio State fans the night after Michigan’s final home game. His behavior was especially embarrassing considering his status as a team captain.
Problems continued this spring with offensive lineman Graham Glasgow’s arrest for drunk driving that forced him miss parts of spring practice and be suspended for the upcoming season opener.
Hoke’s punishment of Glasgow was swift even if it resulted in him missing very little of spring practice.
The bigger question for Hoke is whether his staff is properly communicating expectations for the team.
A fun topic for Hoke may be predicting when and where top recruit Jabrill Peppers finally sees the field for Michigan.
Michigan’s defensive backfield is solid which gives Michigan time to slowly integrate Peppers into the rotation while letting him try his hand on special teams and offense.
Anticipation for Peppers (Jabrill doesn’t do pushups—he bench presses the earth!) has reached epic proportions, exceeding the traditional hype associated with new players.
Compared to other issues facing Michigan, projecting Peppers’ potential impact may be one of Hoke’s favorite topics in Chicago.
Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via press conferences or in person.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!