As a diehard and lifelong Michigan Wolverines fan, it pains me to see the state of the program on this day after a shocking 13-10 upset loss to Toledo in front of over 100,000 at the Big House. Appalachian State on opening day last year was more surreal but at least they are three-time national champions (two-time when they beat Michigan last year) and are the best their conference has to offer.
Toledo was 1-4 entering Saturday's matchup, was allowing over 35 points per game, and are one of the worst teams in the MAC. Also, the Wolverines had never lost to a MAC opponent (24-0 until the upset).
The day Rich Rodriguez became head football coach at the University of Michigan marked the beginning of a new chapter for the Maize and Blue. Out with the conventional, pro-style offense of Bo Schembechler/Lloyd Carr, in with the new spread option attack of Rodriguez.
As is the case for any system/philosophy change, it is going to take some time before Michigan fans will see any rewards, but know this: Help is on the way.
Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan are backup quarterbacks at best. Threet has talent and ability, but not in Rodriguez's system. At Tulane and West Virginia, he had mobile QB's (Shaun King and Pat White) who would look to run but could also make plays from the pocket when called upon. King was more successful from the pocket and White was more successful with his legs, but both QBs could improvise when the designed play broke down.
Threet and Sheridan cannot do either right now, which is the biggest problem this team faces. For Rich Rod's system to work, he needs a program-changing QB. That would have been Terrelle Pryor, but we all know where he chose to go to school.
No need to worry, Wolverines fans, reinforcements are on the way. Tate Forcier and Shavodrick Beaver, two four-star recruits out of this year's class, have committed and are a perfect fit for the spread option.
Forcier, whose brother Chris was a backup at UM until he transferred to Stanford, is a mobile passer in the mold of a Jeff Garcia and should be an instant upgrade over the incumbents Threet and Sheridan. He is only 6'1" but is tough as nails and makes up for his size limitations with good pre-snap reads and quick feet.
Beaver is taller (6'3") and much more physically gifted—in the mold of Dennis Dixon—but is raw and needs more polish before he makes an impact at the next level. Look out for him by year three; he will be a force to be reckoned with and could challenge for serious playing time.
Be patient, Wolverines fans. Rodriguez was 3-8 his first year at WVU and was under the same scrutiny there until he recruited players who fit his schemes and philosophy. He silenced those critics with nine wins in his second season and finished in second place in the Big East.
Michigan might win only four or five games this year, but the effort is there. Rodriguez is getting the most out of his players, which is all you can ask for from a coach. He just does not have the proper personnel yet. Within three years, with the right players, he will have Michigan back among college football's elite and restore pride and prestige in a program chock-full of it.
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