The starters have been announced, the field has been painted, and the helmets have been shined. The coaches have taught, the players have trained, and the equipment has been fitted. The only thing left now is to play football.
Tomorrow, Michigan plays Western Michigan in the Big House. You could call it a must-win game for Rich Rodriguez and the Wolverines, but it is much more. It's his redemption game.
The allegations that are looming, the financial mishap that came to light in Virginia, and coming off that 3-9 season at Michigan, Rich Rodriguez needs to show up and coach.
His lack of adaptation last year not only cost the Michigan program, it gave them the worst year in school history. He does not have the time nor the patience of the Alumni to lose again.
His first full recruiting class is in, the seniors that have stayed are 'All-In', and he has QB's that can run the spread. Michigan fans should expect marked improvement over last year. History can tell them that success is just around the corner. Why?
History shows that Rodriguez wins. Not in year one, but almost always in year two.
His second year at Glenville State he had a losing record, but he increased his win total by three. Going from 1-7-1 to 4-5-1.
At West Virginia, he won nine games including going to a bowl game in his second year. He is capable of doing this at Michigan, but he has to show up and coach.
His passing offense last year accounted for 11 touchdowns. His defense gave up more points than any other Michigan team in history. Pathetic to Michigan fans.
Yesterday, he named Tate Forcier the starter for the Western game. He will be the third true freshman to start for Michigan. The others were Rick Leach and Chad Henne.
Both played all four years. Will Tate play all four years? Only time will tell, but what can be said is he has huge shoes to fill, and he needs to fill them fast!
This kid has 'it'. Mobility, an arm, good footwork, awareness, but has no college experience. That's not something you want when playing for Michigan. They saw what happened last year!
He will have had to matured to the level of a sophomore starting his 14th game. Seasoned, poised, patient, and focused.
In the backfield, Tate will have Carlos Brown running the ball for him. Brandon Minor is questionable and may not play. This can only help take the pressure of the young kid from San Diego.
Last week, in the Beanie Bowl, Carlos Brown looked great. Hopefully he can translate that to the Big House tomorrow. His senior leadership will be needed in the huddle and in the play on the field.
Helping Tate stay up and Brown get down the field, Mark Ortmann and Co. will need to be strong in the trenches. They have experience, they understand the playbook, and are ready to contribute.
On TheWolverine.com, Ortmann told Matt Pargoff, "I think that's the biggest thing among the offensive line is communication. I think that's one thing that we lacked last year. Not a lot of people knew what was going on. So this year we were able to correct that and you can see the difference."
Also on TheWolverine.com, Stevie Brown told Matt Pargoff and Michael Spath, "It's going to be a fast defense. You're going to see a lot of people flying to the ball and you're going to see people in there, if the ball gets stood up, trying to rake the ball out so that we can get turnovers. You're going to see hard hitting, good tackling; you're going to see all the things you want to see in a good defense."
Michigan fans hope that he is telling them the truth. This defense is going to have to be aggressive, quick, and ready to attack Tim Hiller at all angles.
With the mess that was this week in Ann Arbor, Michigan seems focused, and ready to pounce on the Broncos. It's not going to be easy, but Michigan should be able to move the ball, and put enough points on the board to win.
They are also capable of inconsistency and poor tackling as seen last year.
Rich Rodriguez needs to show up for all of this to happen. He says the distractions that have lingered and appeared, will not affect his focus. Michigan fans hopes so.
The Board of Regents are watching, the President of the University is watching, Bill Martin and Michigan Nation is watching. One wrong move this year and Rich Rodriguez could be seeing pink in December.
Michigan 35 Western Michigan 28