With Rich Rod out and Brady Hoke in, the future of Michigan Football is uncertain. Many believe that the hiring of Brady Hoke will lead to more rebuilding, but I think there is a way to avoid that. The way to avoid rebuilding is to do exactly what Rich Rod did not do when he got there: utilize the talent you have in the best way possible.
When Rich Rod was hired he decided he was going to run the spread option offense right from the start. As a result he had immobile quarterbacks trying to run the option; big, slow linemen that were expected to cover enough ground to get downfield and block for big, slow running backs, and a 3-9 record was the result.
When you switch systems it has to be a gradual process, so that way you can use the talent you have in the way that it is most effective, until you have players that fit your system. I do not believe Brady Hoke will have as hard of a time as Rich Rod did in utilizing the talent he has because Brady Hoke has some experience running the spread, just not the spread option.
Based off of what Hoke has done in the past, and the talent he has in place here is a look at my prediction of all 11 offensive starters come game time, on Sept. 3 at the Big House.
Yes, Denard will be a QB! If Michigan were planning on changing Denard's position, he would have transferred immediately. Why would Michigan change Denard to another position after the type of season he had? Denard was, for at least five weeks, the best player in college football.
At this point Denard is by far Michigan's most dangerous weapon on offense, passing and running the ball. I believe that if Robinson continues to make significant strides throwing the ball, as he did last year, he could become a pro-level passer, with the running ability of a spread option quarterback.
Michael Shaw is projected to be the starting running back for Michigan in his senior season, next year. Shaw was the team's third leading rusher last year, behind Denard Robinson and Vincent Smith. Shaw is not an ideal back for the system Hoke is hoping to run, but like I said you have to utilize the talent you have in the best way possible. By putting Shaw as the starter, Hoke would be doing exactly that, as Shaw is probably the most talented running back Michigan has.
Stephen Hopkins is coming off of a solid freshman season for the Wolverines. Hopkins was the fourth leading rusher for Rich Rod last year, and is a perfect fit for a two-back or pro-style set. Stephen Hopkins is a 235-pound running back with decent speed, who brings back the old Michigan playing style, "three yards and a cloud of dust," that all the Michigan fans have missed the past three years. I believe Stephen Hopkins is Michigan's future at running back.
Although he dropped a bunch of balls, Roy Roundtree was undoubtedly Michigan's best receiver in 2010. Roundtree broke a school record for receiving yards in a game earning 246 yards against Illinois. This year Roy led his team and was in the top 50 in the country in catches, yards, yards per catch and touchdowns amongst receivers. If Roy Roundtree can improve his catching ability in his junior season next year he will be a huge weapon for Denard.
Junior Hemingway was Michigan's third leading receiver last year as a junior. Unlike Roy Roundtree, Hemingway almost never drops the ball (yes, I remember his dropped touchdown catch against MSU). Despite averaging only 49 receiving yards per game, Hemingway posted three 100-plus-yard games in 2010. Hemingway does not post big numbers on a game-to-game basis, but when he gets hot he has proven to be a great receiver.
Darryl Stonum is probably Michigan's fastest receiver. Stonum is a great downfield threat, but lacks in the route-running department. Stonum was a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school, but has been a bit of a disappointment. Look for him to have a breakout senior season.
Kevin Koger has been a solid tight end for Michigan over the past three years, but he did not really have a place in Rich Rod's offense. Look for Koger to have a big senior year in a more tight end oriented pro-style offense next year.
Left Tackle: Taylor Lewan is a 6'6", 290-pound sophomore returning starter. He runs an unheard of 4.72 40-yard dash for a man of his size, and started 10 games as a freshman.
Left Guard: Ricky Barnum is a 6'3", 290-pound junior and would be a first-year starter if he starts next year due to a lack of speed. He appeared in the Ohio State game due to an injury of the starter.
Center: David Molk is a 6'2", 285-pound senior, three-year starter and very well-conditioned. Look for him to be a potential All-American next year.
Right Guard: Patrick Omameh is a 6'4", 305-pound junior, returning starter with a huge frame. He is a 4.0 student who will work hard with a chance to see his ability take him to the next level.
Right Tackle: Mark Huyge is a 6'6", 305-pound senior, returning starter, who is a mobile and athletic offensive lineman.
Who do you think will start for Michigan come Sept. 3?