2011 Michigan Wolverines Football Analysis
In the eight months since he was hired as Michigan's 19th head coach, Brady Hoke still has yet to win a game that matters in any sort of standings.
However, he has already done something his predecessor failed to do: excite the Michigan faithful for the coming season.
Under Rich Rodriguez's tenure, the Wolverines limped to a 15-22 record, culminating in an embarrassing 52-14 loss to Mississippi State in this past Gator Bowl, costing him and his staff their jobs. Michigan's athletic director then called in Brady Hoke, a man who has been able to turn both Ball State and San Diego State into good football programs.
Can he work the same magic with the Wolverines, a considerably higher-profile team?
Only time will tell for sure but initial signs are promising. Despite being hired just three weeks prior to National Signing Day, he was able to bring in a very respectable class of recruits, and the 2012 class already shows even more promise.
However, recruits alone will not win games. The coaching staff also needs to be high caliber in order to maximize the available talent. Brady Hoke has done well in bringing over most of his staff from San Diego State, including offensive coordinator Al Borges, as well as adding more coaching talent from Michigan's past, bringing in former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who worked with Hoke at Michigan during the mid-1990s.
Junior quarterback Denard Robinson headlines an offensive attack that will look considerably different than last years. Instead of running a spread offense, he'll be taking most of the snaps under center, presumably in an effort to preserve his health, which suffered as a result of taking many hard hits while racking up over 1500 rushing yards. Initial observations seemed inconclusive, but he has improved by leaps and bounds, completing nearly 70 percent of his passes, according to Hoke via the Detroit News' Angelique Chengelis.
The running back situation still has yet to see a definitive front-runner, though, and with the time running out until the start of the season, this development is a bit unsettling to some.
Defensively, the team was ranked 110th in the FBS last year, so any improvement would be welcome, but according to the same article by Ms. Chengelis, only three starters have been named. Still, the transition from a weak 3-3-5 defense to a 4-3 defense should help the team perform better, especially against the run.
The special teams, particularly the field goal kicking, has seen impressive competition by the three contenders, but thus far, the competition has made each contender improve in an effort to earn the starting spot.
Michigan is still some time away from contending for a national championship, but the improvements seen thus far point to a more competitive Wolverines team, and gives Michigan fans hope for the future for the first time in years.
Their schedule is difficult, but Michigan should be able to win at least seven games and earn a bowl spot. Despite current issues facing the team, the future appears very bright for the Wolverines.
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