Michigan Football: 10 Things That Wolverine Fans Want from the 2011 Season
The 2011 college football season is closing in, and Michigan fans are eager to see if new head coach Brady Hoke can lead the Wolverine program back to the ranks of the respected in the college football world.
Coach Hoke was not the favorite candidate for the job after three tumultuous seasons under Rich Rodriguez; however, everything he has done during the first six months on the job indicates that he was the right man for the job.
The hiring of an excellent staff, most notably, former Baltimore Ravens Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison indicates that Hoke can make good decisions when it comes to hiring capable assistants.
Meanwhile, Coach Hoke is making excellent strides when it comes to recruiting for the 2012 class.
At this point. Michigan has a top ten recruiting class and with a winning season, the Wolverines will most likely land a top five recruiting class.
There is no doubt that the excitement in Ann Arbor is growing as the changes within the program seem to be on the positive side.
The following sideshow highlights 10 things that Michigan fans would like to see this upcoming 2011 football season.
#1: Better, More Physical Defense
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Michigan fans are ready for any improvement for the defensive squad, which was arguably the most embarrassing in school history. The 2010 squad was deficient in almost every possible area, including poor coaching.
Michigan fans can at least bet that the 2011 defense will line up correctly to the opposing offense under new coordinator Greg Mattison.
This defense will be a year older; however, depth across the defensive line and within the linebackers will still be an issue in 2011.
#2: Get Denard Robinson More Help on Offense
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There is no doubt that Denard Robinson is an electrifying player; however, the better defenses on the 2010 schedule were able to contain him and Michigan did not have an answer. It would be nice to see Denard remain healthy for every game while the backs, receivers, and tight ends are utilized more.
Let's hope new offensive coordinator, Al Borges, can get the entire offense involved, which should make Denard even more threatening.
Michigan has a talented group of receivers returning; however, the offense desperately needs a consistent running back to emerge in 2011. If this occurs, then look for Robinson to stay healthy the entire season.
#3: Better Special Teams
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It is time for Michigan to begin fielding well-coached and productive special teams units once again. Coach Brady Hoke has made this a priority by hiring an experienced special teams coordinator in Dan Ferrigno, who held the same position at programs such as Oregon State and Southern Cal.
Michigan is in desperate need of a placekicker and will look for true freshmen Matt Wile to contribute immediately.
#4: Beat Notre Dame Again Under the Lights at the Big House
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Michigan has been very fortunate against the Irish the past two years as the game was decided in the last few minutes.
The game this year takes on a special meaning as it will be played under the lights in the Big House, and both teams will be wearing throwback uniforms.
This game will once again be determined in the final minutes, and Michigan fans hope to come out on top for the third year in a row.
#5: Beat Sparty in 2011
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Oh, how little brother has enjoyed himself the past few years against big brother. Michigan fans hope to end the enjoyment in 2011 with a victory.
Michigan State continues to improve under coach Mark Dantonio and should be good again in 2011.
On the other hand, the Wolverines will return an experienced team with a new coaching staff, which has emphasized the importance of this game once again.
#6: David Brandon to Step Back from the Limelight
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In his short time as the Michigan Athletic Director, David Brandon has done an excellent job. There is no doubt that Michigan athletics will benefit from his leadership and it nice to know that he recognizes the importance of the football program as the primary revenue source for the university.
This is the main reason for his decision to seek new leadership for the program for 2011. During the latter half of the 2010 season, Brandon made himself the focal point of the football program by divulging to the media that coach Rich Rodriguez would be "evaluated" at the end of the season.
At the same time, he offered very little support for Rodriguez, which clearly pointed to his eventual termination. The big "evaluation" did not occur until after the January bowl game and it was no surprise that Rodriguez and his entire staff were terminated.
After striking out on Harbaugh and Miles, he then hired Brady Hoke as the new Michigan coach. It is now time for Brandon to step back and let the coaches shine. Michigan does not need a Jerry Jones.
#7: Beat Nebraska
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The Nebraska Cornhuskers are a welcomed addition of the Big Ten. In the past, both Michigan and Nebraska have met and played competitive football games against each other.
The shared 1997 National Championship, however, will always serve as a spark for a nice rivalry between the two programs.
The Huskers come to Ann Arbor this season, and it would be nice to see the Wolverines send them back to Lincoln with a loss.
#8: Beat the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2011
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Will 2011 finally be the year that the Michigan beats Ohio State? Most Buckeye fans chuckle at the very notion because they have dominated every aspect of the rivalry for many years now.
The 2010 victory against Michigan is now vacated, however, it is time for the Wolverines to get it done on the actual playing field.
Ohio State will enter the 2011 season as a different team as they will be without both Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor.
This will have a major impact on the program, as will the looming NCAA sanctions when it comes to recruiting.
New coach Brady Hoke has emphasized the importance of this game from the first day he set foot in Ann Arbor, and the players are being made aware of this each day.
#9: Play a Competitive Bowl Game While Looking Prepared and Organized
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If Michigan is fortunate enough this season to be invited to play in a bowl game then Michigan fans want the outcome to be much different from the 2011 Gator Bowl against Mississippi State.
Let's hope the Wolverines are prepared and organized this time.
The Bulldogs deserve full credit for absolutely thumping the Wolverines by a score of 52-14.
Michigan looked as if they had not prepared to play and they were unorganized on the field, which was very embarrassing for the program.
#10: A Head Coach Who Takes Responsibility for His Team
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Brady Hoke was not the first choice for the head coaching job among most Michigan fans. He has, however, made some excellent decisions so far. He assembled an excellent staff and his recruiting efforts currently have Michigan's 2012 class at No. 6 nationally.
Everything at this point seems very positive. Therefore, win or lose throughout the 2011 season, Michigan fans want Coach Hoke to take full responsibility for everything that occurs and not place blame upon the youth of the team or the recruiting of the previous staff.