Hoke was top notch at this aspect of his job.
Michigan & Penn State
I believe this game will be closer than the Illinois game. I give us a 25% chance to win, a 50% chance to prove me right, and a 25% chance it turns out that I've unknowingly been smoking one of Mario's old blunts.
We have owned PSU. I've had a decade of sheer enjoyment watching the hopes of a PSU family member rekindle each year, only to be extinguished by consistently superior Michigan teams. What started out as "Wait till next year, we're going to be better and beat you", soon turned to "Look, just don't give me a bunch of crap about it, you're probably going to beat us again b/c we're not very good this year." It has been wonderful. Granted, this is probably the year that the dominance ends; but those thoughts, entrenched by the depths of time, will be in the backs of both UM's and PSU's minds. If it's close for a while, deja vu will play a role.
Also, despite the opportunity to exact revenge for years worth of beat-downs, I think they'll be looking past us. They have NC hopes that go through tOSU next week. We, needless to say, just want to beat whoever's in front of us.
I believe (seem to be fewer of those daily) that our team will improve as this season goes on. It continues to amaze me that there are so many calls for change already. It's as though we're wondering why an 80 year old guy who had double knee replacements 3 days ago isn't ready for the Boston Marathon yet. We ARE NOT EXECUTING the basics with regularity yet offensively. Personally, I think we have gotten a little better each week, despite continually having multiple O-line adjustments, different WR/slot groups due to injury/suspension/illness, different attempts at finding a "change of pace" back who won't fumble, switching QBs etc. I completely discount the Toledo game - my diary - my perogative - due to a "perfect storm" of the above reasons (as well as key D personnel being out too).
Defensively, Illinois lit us up by executing the spread as well as anyone could the week they played us. I challenge PSU to even match it. Obviously we need to give up fewer big plays, and play better assignment football. I think we will see that our coaches CAN actually make adjustments, and that the D (hopefully healthy too) will look much better on this "re-do" against PSU's spread.
It's crazy to think that new coaches, with new players, new systems and "inadequate" (for said systems) personnel can completely adjust over the coarse of a timeout, halftime talk, even one week-long practice. That's why they call it "rebuilding", not "pre-fabbed homing". Give it time; and here, in the beginning, while it's roughest, set yourself some resonable expectations.
I still say we have a shot. I guess you can call me a fan. Guilty.
On the blue/maize Prozac: UM wins 27-24;
Marios's blunt: UM loses 38-24.