Like the football team, I'll be making a brief appearance this off-season before disappearing again until Fall.
The theme of the coaching search and press conferences over the last several months has centered around the idea that it's time to return the program to "Michigan Football" (demonstrative finger quotes here). Whether or not you believe that such a thing as "Michigan Football" exists and that the program has indeed drifted from that thing, the message is clear - moving forward, the team and the style of play will look different under Brady Hoke than it did under Rich Rodriguez. The question is, given our personnel (specifically a player whose name rhymes with Denard Robinson) how different will it look this year? Just how far back will Coach Hoke and his staff turn the clock? Will they force Denard into a scheme where he feels out of place, or will they shift their offensive philosophy to take advantage of his considerable talents?
I found an archival photo of Fielding H. Yost's first Michigan football team and thought it would be a great counterpoint to the "return to Michigan football" theme. Yost's 1901 team was dominant (11-0 record, 550 points scored - 0 points against) and depended on fast, efficient players to execute a "hurry up" offense to perfection. Stylistically, that sounds more like the offense we saw under Rich Rodriguez than what we should expect from new offensive coordinator Al Borges. Denard Robinson's style of play would have been a perfect fit for Yost's first "Point-a-Minute" team.
If Coach Hoke and Denard Robinson jumped into a DeLorean and turned the clock back to 1901, this modified team photo is what you might see hanging in Schembechler Hall today.
The image below is a preview only. You can get the widescreen, 4:3, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.
EDIT: Thanks to those at Mgovideo for putting this up
For those of us without BTN or FSN-detroit, does anyone have a link for the recent episode(s) of the spring edition of Inside Michigan Football with Brady Hoke? I've been searching streaming sites, torrents, mgovideo, and youtube with no luck. Thanks in advance to anyone who can help out/contribute to my procrastination.
Congrats to the MBB team for a great run and positioning themselves well for the NCAA tourney! After I post this, I'll go back to rooting for college basketball and Michigan in particular. But I wanted to take a moment, during a break in the MBB action, to mention the top 10 things I am looking forward to seeing during the course of Spring Ball:
10. Stokes’ play at WR. We have an outstanding group of receivers set to graduate after this year. Will Stokes prove to us he’ll be there to compliment Roundtree as a starter in 2012? Or will another young gun step up at this year and overtake him?
9. Who our returners will be. Will the return of a special teams coach bring about a change in our returners? My hope, based purely on last year, is for Stonum to be the primary KR and Dileo to be the primary PR. But I’d love to see some improvement across the board this spring with a dedicated coach.
8. Will we see Pace? As the MGoBoard-anointed eventual heir to Molk, I have a special rooting interest in seeing this guy do well. With the unfortunate rumors out there that not only may he have injured his knee, but hurt it pretty badly, I’m hoping to hear what’s really going on. Hoping for the best for Pace, and if the rumors are true, then hoping for a full recovery.
7. How, and where, will Furman and M. Robinson play? The MGoBoard probably knows where these two will play already, but I do not. I’m curious to hear how these two perform in practice, as their athleticism makes them a couple of other personal favorites on the team.
6. Which of our RBs will be The Guy(s) this year? I love how diverse our RB pool is. I can see Hopkins and Shaw (if healthy, knock on wood for this guy this year) to be our thunder and lightning in a two back set, but how can I discount two-year starter Smith who will be another year removed from his ACL injury (and who not only has great hands but can block), or Cox, Toussaint, or heck, even the incoming freshman? It will be fun to watch, as it is every year, to see which of our backs is/are best suited for this offense, and see if anyone emerges this spring.
5. Where will Woolfolk play? Our best DB can help us significantly at CB and FS. Will he be healthy enough to go 100%? Where will he play primarily during Spring Ball?
4. WLB play. Demens and Cam Gordon likely have the MLB and WLB spots, respectively. But who will play WLB? Will any of our seniors at the position make an impact, or will we go with youth?
3. Interior D-line. RVB and Martin are known commodities. But how will Big Will and Q do? Will Ash or Talbott challenge, or even surpass them?
2. Young CB improvement. I applaud our youngsters at CB last year for doing a remarkable job, all things considering. They showed a lot of potential and were put in a very, very, very tough situation. Avery in particular looks like he can be a starter this year. I’m very interested to see not only how he does this spring, but also how much improvement our other true sophomores show.
1. Denard’s progression as a drop-back QB. He16man amazed us last year with his dazzling play as a spread QB. He was surprisingly accurate in the early part of the season to complement a very strong arm. But as the season progressed, his accuracy declined significantly. Was that primarily due to injury, to poor mechanics, to defensive schemes, or to a lack of confidence? And how will the coaches use him, particularly in terms of limiting his reads (or not), in this his first year as a drop-back QB in the college ranks? And please correct me if I am mistaken, but it seems as though last year he had a higher than normal number of batted balls – will this increase or decrease as a drop-back QB? Will he be significantly challenged by DG? Denard has already shown us he has an incredible work ethic and can be a great spread QB, but I’m looking to see what he can do, and exactly how he will be used, in this new offense.
In the most recent GBMW tidbit post* neither Mike Jones, Brandon Hawthorne nor Isaiah Bell were listed as running with the 1s or 2s. I found that somewhat disconcerting because they did list 3 regular walk ons as well as a walk on fullback learning linebacker on the second team. Apparently this group couldnt muster much of a fight against the second team offense. Are any of the guys mentioned above hurt? What positions are Hawthorne and Jones playing?
Also an interesting tidbit: they have Fitzgerald at Roh's position for now.
*I know. I read for the depth chart and how reps are split almost exclusively.
* Start date: March 14
* Spring game: April 11
We start the earliest...thank goodness.