Hoke for Tomorrow Feels the Sun Shine In

Submitted by Lordfoul on November 20th, 2011 at 9:49 AM


“I can see clearly now the rain is gone.  I can see all obstacles in my way.  Gone are the dark clouds that had me down.  It's gonna be a bright bright  bright bright sun shiny day!” 
Johnny Nash


Learn from yesterday...


First off I would like to give a shout-out to Nebraska fans everywhere, and sincerely say Welcome to the Big Ten.  I had family members at the game yesterday, and between their accounts and what I have read in this space I would hope that Michigan Fans can hope to achieve the level of class that Nebraska fans epitomize.


This gravy is like a drug.


At some point in the third quarter I lost my mind and started calling every Michigan fan I know.  It was like pinching myself repeatedly to make sure what I was experiencing was, in fact, real, and not just a defensive construct created by my brain to cope with the last few years.  That game was epic and wonderful and tremendous even, but best of all it appeared to be part of a sustainable trend.  This team is going to continue to rise, and it will be rising on the backs of the best coaching staff we have had in decades.


If Mattison can take this group of misfit athletes and create a fearsome defense, one can only imagine what he will do with the kind of talent Michigan is recruiting now. Michigan is 6th overall in scoring defense.  They are showing sound fundamentals when tackling, wrapping up, forcing fumbles, all while shutting down one of the most potent rushing attacks in the country.  Somebody, quick, pinch me again.


Borges deserves some praise here too.  He still really, really wants this team to dominate from under center, this is clear.  During yesterday's game though, whenever I watched Michigan get stuffed on first down from I-Form or Ace sets and muttered "Moar shotgun plz", the next play would be something from shotgun and would get Michigan's drive back on track more often than not.  Borges probably could have gotten a win at Iowa, maybe even against Sparty, if he had gone with more shotgun earlier in the season.  It is hard to blame the guy for going with what he knows though, and has the most faith in, when the chips are down.  It appears that his faith is now in shotgun.


Last, but certainly not least, we have Brady Hoke.  This guy has been the exact right fit from Day 1 on the job.  Former players and coaches love him.  His values are beyond reproach (seemingly at least, JoPa taught us all that you never can tell for sure).  He is humble, doesn't pretend he knows it all, and surrounds himself with a staff that ensures success.  He recruits astonishingly well.  He has restored Michigan to the level fans are used to, and for that this fan at least is grateful.



Live for Today…


Several players/coaches should take particular pride in their accomplishments yesterday:

  1. Greg Mattison - The Michigan defense and coverage squads on special teams put on a tackling clinic.  All three fumbles were the very definition of forced - putting a hat on the ball or punching it out.  The containment was good all day, holding a potent Nebraska running game in check without having to dedicate safeties to do it.  The zone blitzing is perhaps most impressive.  I had fun trying to figure out who was going to rush and who was going to drop.  I was always at least half-wrong.
  2. Fitz Toussaint - Fitz is making lateral moves that I just haven't seen from any Michigan back in recent memory.  Mike Hart had the shiftiness, but lacked the size, acceleration and top-end speed that Toussaint has.  Fitz is going to blow up the Big Ten next year - book it.
  3. Denard Robinson - The best game in a long time for our leader and best.  Denard looked completely in control of the offense.  He was patient, waiting for plays to develop before zinging a TD pass to Gallon or cutting behind his blockers for a TD on the ground.  Best of all, Denard finally hit a receiver perfectly on an endzone bomb.  He made some more questionable reads on the read option, but overall it was a great performance.
  4. Ryan Van Bergen - Only two tackles but one a sack and both were for a loss.  RVB also recovered a fumble and was generally a disruptive force in the trenches.  We are going to miss this guy.
  5. Brady Hoke - What I forgot to mention above it that Brady Hoke has huge brass balls.  The difference between scoring 3 vs 7 points didn't seem like much to me at the time; either way it would be a 3 score lead.  The deflating effect it had on Nebraska though, when that fake FG succeeded, I mean - to some extent that was where Michigan put the game away.  Similarly though, if the play had not succeeded, it could have been a shot in the arm for Nebraska and the outcome might have been much different.  I don't think I could have made that call in Hoke's shoes.

Also of note:  Kovacs!!!, Martavious Odoms adds another TD, Will Campbell no longer looks lost, Linebackers - We Haz Them, Mike Martin is Mike Martin and is Awesome


Hope for Tomorrow


So now we have our 9 wins, a number that should serve to satisfy the expectations of all but the most insane Michigan fans.  All of my recent experiences re: The Game force me to keep my feelings guarded.  Putting too much emphasis on the outcome of the next tilt does the rest of this season a grave injustice.  This is something I understand on a cognative level.


But in my heart I know that this is Michigan's time to shine.  The point at which they turn the corner and never look back.  The Ohio team Michigan faces is deeply flawed. This Michigan team is close to being among the best I have ever seen.  Revenge, legitimacy, pride... so much is on the line that it is impossible to be satisfied.  Michigan must protect their house - and show the world that good can indeed triumph over evil.  


Let's finish this.


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Go Blue and stay safe!



November 20th, 2011 at 10:11 AM ^

Really got to beat Ohio.  Their team is in disarray.  They are 6-5 overall and 1-3 on the road.  They start a inexperienced QB. 

While this season has been a success for Michigan, losing to Ohio would put a big stain on it.  Win and we vanquish the demons and likely return to a BCS bowl.  Lose and we end up in the Outback bowl and have to go to Columbus next year to try to break the streak. 

Go Blue, Beat Ohio!

Charlie Chunk

November 20th, 2011 at 10:14 AM ^

This team is hitting on all cylinders.  They have shown how good they can be!  Ohio is going to be a win for the ages and a great home game finish for the seniors!

What a ride!

Go Blue, beat Ohio!


November 20th, 2011 at 10:18 AM ^

I think if we come out like we did this week, it will look about like it did the year we knocked Herbstreit unconcious. Watching OSU play, I think our D  is going to be coming for blood, and their offense shows no heart. 

At some point, you have to throw the ball WELL, and Miller just does not seem to do that when they are down. Sure, running game and all, but we just saw how far that takes you against michigan this year. I think we will get to see the same generall thing 2 weeks in a row.


November 20th, 2011 at 10:20 AM ^

You know what they say: throw out all the record books in rivalry games. Conventional wisdom just doesn't work out that well especially in college football. I agree that the team needs to play with the intensity that MSU played us (though cleanly and between the whistles). If we do that we will probably match the intensity of the Buckeyes.

I really don't think our team will need that much motivation though to get up for this game. They can be the first Michigan team to do what no other has been able to do for a very long time.

The team the t…

November 20th, 2011 at 10:59 AM ^


Great post, but I can't agree with that.   I would say that this is one of the most enjoyable, deserving groups I have ever cheered for.   Their legacy will not be that they were one of the best teams, but arguably one of the most important teams in that they prevented Michigan from becoming Notre Dame for 20 years of mediocrity.  Bo would have loved these guys for perservering; never quiting, and being true "Michigan Men".   That being said, there have been some unbelievably great teams the past 40 years, and I don't think this squad could compete with at least a dozen of them.   

Beat Ohio and win a big bowl game and they may end up being my all time favorite Michigan team!




November 20th, 2011 at 11:10 AM ^

Remember though, I said among the best that I have ever seen.  I am only 33 years old and missed out on some (most?) of Bo's best teams.  This team may not have the best athletes, but as a unit they are putting up numbers that would put them among the best.  Just on defense alone their statistics are right up there.  The offense is averaging 34 pts/game also, which has to rank pretty high in recent history.

Should they topple Ohio and win a bowl game, there would only be a select few teams that I can recall (my memories are really only solid for ~1986 to present) that would have accomplished as much or more.  '97 of course, and '99 (lost to little brother), '92 was undefeated technically.  Bo's teams in '86 and '88 were among the best I remember, along with Mo's team in '91.  Of course there was 2006 too, but of all of these teams, really only '97 would clearly rank ahead of this year's team. 


November 20th, 2011 at 1:08 PM ^

Seen every game since 1975 and this is certainly not close to the best.
Longest-suffering, most-infuriating, hardest-working, over-est-achieving, most-new-scheme-learning, majority-we're-not-leaving, dealing-with-stuffed-beaving, tide-turning,  recruit-reeling, hopeful-feeling, team, then, yeah.give in.
But my FAVORITE team? Yup, I'm thinking so. Beat OSU, and I know so.


November 20th, 2011 at 3:21 PM ^

My sentiments EXACTLY. I go back to 73 and there have been some really likable groups over the years. The Harbaugh-Jamie Morris mid-80s teams probably ranked highest with me before now. And maybe part of this current group's appeal has been following them in unprecedented detail on Mgoblog. But I absolutely love these guys – RVB, Martin, Odoms, Denard, to name a few. They have been through one wringer after another and seemed to be fighting long odds every inch of the way. If they can beat Ohio on Saturday, I'll be thinking of these seniors and some juniors. When the alleged Bluebloods were squabbling like preschoolers, these guys were true Michigan Men throughout it all.

coastal blue

November 20th, 2011 at 10:51 AM ^

Is what most people expected. I mean, those who didn't buy into the whole idea that the media and our most negative fans wanted us to believe: that our team was a talentless pit, incapable of success. Given that many of the young guys were going to grow up and the huge addition of Mattison, 9 wins felt like the bare minimum this season, even with some offensive hiccups. It's amazing how hopeless some of you really became. 

What is most satisfying - and frustrating - is that we can now look at this season as a missed opportunity, right up there with 2003. 

As is, this team is back to being Michigan. We're going to stomp OSU next week - seriously, their fans have pretty much given up on that game and I can't imagine the team feels anything but wanting the season to be over - and then jump a title game losing Sparty to go to a BCS bowl. 

Life is good. 


November 20th, 2011 at 11:17 AM ^

"...9 wins felt like the bare minimum this season..."

Sorry, but this was dilusional before the season started, and even a few weeks ago.  This team has had to grow a whole lot to get to where they are now - pretty damn good.  When they faced Sparty and even Iowa they were not yet good enough to pants Nebraska.  There is no way a rational person would buy that this team has in any way underperformed.  It took an incredible amount of work to get them to where they are now, and even as good as these coaches are there was no guarantee the team would gel as well as they have.

coastal blue

November 20th, 2011 at 12:46 PM ^

MSU and Iowa. In fact, a rational person would say they should have destroyed Iowa. 

And you're right. As a rational person, I thought they'd be in the 9-10 win range and look: they are there, with a really good shot at 11-2 with a BCS win. 

The defense was porous last year because everything that went wrong could have went wrong. This year has been the exact opposite. With all the returning starters/No HS QBs/WR playing their first year in the secondary, it was easy to see the defense getting up to respectable. Throw in Mattison, you have this year's defense.

In all honesty, anyone who really thought that last year's team was that far off from success doesn't know much about the dynamic of a competitive sports team. 



November 20th, 2011 at 11:10 AM ^

...and lets take care of MSMoo next year when the tractors roll into Ann Arbor.  Believe it or not, the Spartan faithful are whining about the easy schedule we had this year.  This coming from the same farmers who did not play OSU the last two years when they were still OSU.

...and Dantonio is still a major douchebag.

M Wolve

November 20th, 2011 at 11:30 AM ^

I agree about the lateral quickness and speed, but his size is pretty comparable to Hart's.  I'd say he's actually a little smaller than Hart, but even if he is in fact bigger, it is not by a subtantial amount.  Great post, per usual.


November 20th, 2011 at 12:09 PM ^

He might not be much bigger than Hart, but he does seem more physical.  Hart had much better balance, maybe the best balance of any Wolverine back I've seen.  He was tough to bringdown.


November 20th, 2011 at 12:24 PM ^

he is thinking had they given me money for a decent DC, I would be at this point if not better. I would have beaten Iowa and probably MSU.

But of course he would be wrong. The difference in the physicality of this team between this year and last year is like night and day. Also, the team is fundamentally much more sound. Very few penalties and not many glaring mistakes.

It is a good sound football team and showing improvement each week. That is the hallmark of a well coached team.


November 20th, 2011 at 12:39 PM ^

Great post, but I have a small objection to this being one of the best Michigan teams you have ever seen. Unless you are 4 years old, in which case, yeah, this is what Michigan fans are used to little fella.

I love this squad, and they are playing very good football right now, but they are fighting  for 10 wins, which Lloyd did in 6 of his 12 seasons. We've had a lot of good teams here, and a lot of those teams won Big Ten championships and went to the Rose Bowl. This team won't. It's not really fair to knock this team for that,but let's not let the joy of this week (or even this tremendous season [please, God, let us beat Ohio]) drown out some of the great memories of the 2006, 2003, or 1997 teams.

Beat Ohio.


November 22nd, 2011 at 10:52 PM ^

But, let's not count our chickens before they hatch.

What if (God forbid) we lose to Ohio? What do we make of this team then? We'd still love them as individuals. They all seem to be really great, exemplary guys. But it would be hard to get over it.

Again, I'm not knocking these guys at all. They deserve better. I didn't mean to suggest that these guys weren't as good as any of Lloyd's teams (although rereading my post it does seem like I might have), just that we've had a lot of good teams. Let's not get carried away, particularly before this season is over.


November 20th, 2011 at 12:51 PM ^

I'm not sure where to rank this team, but I do know that all but one of their wins has been by double digits, and most of their opponents have winning records. The only dud on the schedule was Minnesota. The Iowa game was stolen by conservative play-calling and the refs, and the MSU game came down to the 4th quarter.


November 20th, 2011 at 1:42 PM ^

I agree that this team will go down in Michigan lore in a special way.

They're not the best team Michigan has fielded; others accomplished more on the field in terms of wins and championships.

But this team, one whose seniors were maligned for the past several years, who could have again collapsed after the MSU loss, is showing something important: heart.

This is a team that is turning Michigan's fortunes around the way the 1969 team did. By working their asses off. By being open to the new staff. By improving in each game.

And Brady Hoke is proving himself to be a pretty special guy. 


November 20th, 2011 at 1:49 PM ^

One thing that has amazed me the last few games is Fitz' vision. I agree that his speed and cutting ability are remarkable, but his ability to find the hole has been mind-blowing to me. I think there may be a camera in the back of his helmet.

Mr Mxyzptlk

November 20th, 2011 at 2:25 PM ^

Great job by the author of capturing the emotions of us die-hard Michigan fans who have endured so much pain and misery over the last three seasons.  It feels really good to be back.  And our team seems to be peaking at just the right moment.  Ohio coaches and players should be shitting their pants watching our game film from the last two weeks.


November 20th, 2011 at 2:40 PM ^

I agree with the many posts that mention this as an important team in our history as it was a huge shift in momentum from the last 3 years. Awin vs Ohio will give us the confidence we need going in to an at large bowl bid and all of next season. The only thing that really grinds me about this season is that Miscreant U will be representing the Leaders division in the first ever B1G championship game. Taint right


November 20th, 2011 at 5:04 PM ^

about running up the score against Ohio?  Typically you would see a Michigan team taking a knee to end a game (such as this weekend) but would it bother anyone if we were up by 21 with 2 minutes left and were still running full steam ahead for the endzone next Saturday?


November 20th, 2011 at 6:35 PM ^

I think half the time Fitz zigs when he could either I zag for a bigger gain of go straight and fall forward for two or three easy yards. Small quibble though, carry on.


November 21st, 2011 at 8:04 AM ^

I don't want to get way ahead of myself, but I'm feeling much more optimistic about next year given the much tougher schedule we'll face.  Road games against Alabama, Nebraska, and Ohio had me concerned.  No longer - I can see this team manning up and handling the schedule (before you flame me, I don't see an undefeated season, only an undefeated home schedule).  A couple more years and we will laugh at a schedule like 2013 (other than the tears of unfathomable sorrow about the lousy home games).

Go Blue!  Go Hoke!


November 21st, 2011 at 2:17 PM ^

Fuck the Bicks. The War is on!

If there was ever a year to crush the Nuts, it's this year. I want them to endure a long cold winter, defeated and despised. Tormented by the reality that they are without souls, and an embarassment to the entire conference.

I will dream this week of Bo's first year, the year the first war began. When that team, and that coach, showed that Michigan was back. And so began 40 years of success.

I will dream of '78. Of being the skinny guy in the oversized coat smuggling the beer into Ohio Stadium. And celebrating on their field after the game. Even attacking a goalpost, much to the chagrin of well armed Columbus police officer. And a big horse.

I will dream of North End Zone. And friends for life.

I will say I have more respect and admiration for this year's seniors than any other class. Especially on defense. After the last 3-4 years, of being scorned and ridiculed, these guys endured and restored the pride and the program. They may not leave wearing rings, but they are Michigan Men.

Go Blue! Fuck the Bucks!