Tony Ding/Associated Press
Stay on Target
Michigan put on an offensive clinic last week versus an overmatched Appalachian State. Things will be more difficult this week against Notre Dame, but the goal needs to remain the same—run the football.
Michigan gained 350 yards on the ground with Derrick Green (15 carries for 170 yards, one touchdown) and De'Veon Smith (eight carries for 115 yards, two touchdowns) leading the way last week. The offensive line may struggle early versus Notre Dame, but Hoke needs to stay committed to the new offense until he finds the right the combination of blockers and ball-carriers to break through.
Shake the Road Jitters
Michigan has struggled on the road under Hoke. The Wolverines are 20-2 at home during his tenure but only 6-8 (7-11 if you include neutral site matches) when the team plays away from Michigan Stadium.
Michigan's home success has been bolstered by a soft nonconference slate, but the team's struggles on the road are puzzling. The Wolverines have beaten Michigan State at home once only and have been dominated twice in East Lansing. Michigan has owned Notre Dame at home only to suffer a defeat in South Bend, 13-6, in 2012. Last season, the team barely eked out 24-21 victory over UConn on the road.
Michigan needs to play better on the road to compete for the Big Ten championship. In past seasons, Hoke has blamed the youth of his players for the discrepancy between their home and road performances, but as Hoke enters his fourth season as coach, that excuse is wearing thin.
Give the Irish Something to Remember
Notre Dame chose to end to this series, and over the years, the school has rejected numerous entreaties to join the Big Ten. Michigan needs to hammer Notre Dame to uphold school and conference pride. Notre Dame and Big Ten schools will be competing for slots in the new College Football Playoff, and it's crucial for Michigan to knock Notre Dame down a few pegs while it has the opportunity.