Over the past few months, the attitude in Ann Arbor has been gloomy to say the least. The majority opinion is that without a mobile quarterback, the Michigan Wolverines are destined for a season of disappointment.
For the first time, Michigan will mainly be operating under the spread offense, which promotes the passing game and a running quarterback. In addition, with newly hired coach Rich Rodriguez comes unexpected baggage: that in the sum of $2.5 million that the school had to pay his former employer, West Virginia.
To be specific, the expectations of Michigan took a turn for the worse on May 19, 2008. On that day, the hopes of every Michigan fan plummeted.
Terrelle Pryor, the nation's top-ranked quarterback, announced that he would commit to a school not named Michigan. To make matters worse, Pryor would be attending bitter rival Ohio State come fall.
With a new defensive coordinator, a completely different offensive scheme, and an attention-grabbing controversy, what good could come in 2008?
Well, it might not be as bad as it looks. Lloyd Carr already formed a top-15 recruiting class before announcing his retirement, and Rodriguez has only added to that.
Michigan snagged dynamic running back Sam McGuffie, the nation's second-ranked RB, elusive wide receiver Darryl Stonum, and speedy cornerback Boubacar Cissoko en route to an 11th ranked class according to SI.com.
One of the most impressive freshmen in spring practice was tackle Dann O'Neill. Many have compared him to former Michigan tackle Jake Long, which is not such a bold comparison. O'Neill's deceptively good feet and tenacious mentality make him one of the most coveted prospects in Michigan's stacked class.
Although Michigan's recruiting class is one of its strong suits, the Wolverines boast a strong defense. Leading the secondary is senior cornerback Morgan Trent.
Trent, an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention, will start opposite sophomore corner Donovan Warren, who was named to every Freshman All-American team last year.
In the trenches, though, is where Michigan looks to make its greatest impact on defense, with returning starters Terrence Taylor, Tim Jamison, and Brandon Graham leading the way. The Taylor-Jamison-Graham trio looks to pose a significant problem for many offensive lines next year.
With a stout defense in place, the concern lies on Rodriguez's newly imposed spread offense. Now-sophomore Ryan Mallet looked to be the starter coming into the 2008 season before he transferred to Arkansas. With the loss of Mallet and Henne, the only quarterbacks to take a snap for Michigan in 2007, there is a gaping hole behind center.
Freshman Steven Threet should see the majority of the snaps in practice since he has the tools to lead a spread attack. But can a freshman quarterback lead the Wolverines to any notable success in 2008?
Conversely, Columbus, Ohio has been bustling with hope and promise regarding their football program. A favorite to compete for the national championship, Ohio State will be relishing the next few years with Terrelle Pryor at the helm and Chris Wells three yards behind him.
Nonetheless, the mood has been a somber one in Ann Arbor lately as "Michigan Fans" pre-mourn the death of a perennial college football powerhouse.