Hoke regrets not fixing chemistry issues last year

Submitted by UMgradMSUdad on April 21st, 2014 at 9:50 AM

Here's an interesting story comparing last year's leadership to the way Hoke is treating it this year. It's suggested that team chemistry and senior leadership were issues last year.

"(The leadership this year) is different," Hoke says. "You've got guys who are leaders that are older, but we've changed the model a bit. Our seniors are always going to be important, but you always worry about entitlement, so what we've done is put together a leadership representative group. It's four guys from each class, and they were all voted on by their classmates.

"That's really been effective. We've already met twice, and we'll meet here in another week. And it's interesting to listen to perspectives at different levels and different maturities."




April 21st, 2014 at 10:17 AM ^

That's kind of the way I see it. His comment on entitlement makes me think that he regrets not giving his younger players more of a voice last year and just letting seniors do their thing. I don't think there's any blame here, I just think he sees room for improvement/positive change and is adjusting.


April 21st, 2014 at 11:58 PM ^

agreed.  def good thing.  not sure if hoke finally did some serious self evaluation both himself and the team as a whole or acted on constructive criticism from his staff or even took a hard look at everything when nuss arrived (all seem probable - he obviously flipped some schematic and recruiting changes post-nussmeier and publicly stated so which is great) - bottom line its positive.  also think, and really hoping, hoke finally understands he cannot simply transform his teams identity via sheer will and pound teams into submission like its 1970 or 1990 (ie zero FBs or TEs on roster even remotely capable blocking, along with poor OL play, does not exactly translate well to efficiently deploying jumbo and over packages for weeks).  also think, and hope, losing and performing so poorly forced him to reevalute his roster/personnel management...guys like avery and beyer and freds kid should not receive so many significant snaps just bc theyre experienced or they rated highly during given periods on hokes physicalness / effort / competing scale...does not matter who it is, the 11 who present the best chance of winning should play as frequently as possible and only rotate out when efficiency and performance dips...he was still playing roster games in last few weeks of season like trotting out 2-3 walkons on kick coverage in big time games (not kovacs type walkons, but poor athletes) or constantly flipping DBs or DL not just week to week but using 3-4 guys at some positions within game.  comments are good sign but really hope he finally gets it - morality points mean less than nothing when youre a very poor 7-6 - its sweet to reward walkons with some PT or allow position groups to consider themselves 1A/ 1B/ 1C and 2-3 groups of rotating "starters" on depth chart but its just sad when youre getting smoked by MAC squads and then look like a regressed team several months later in bowl game.  i guess well see this fall if guys like canteen and lewis and peppers get legit snaps or if they trot out the likes of glawgow and beyer for major minutes on DL despite very little impact plays


April 21st, 2014 at 10:28 AM ^

I understand what you're saying but he doesn't have to throw last years leaders under the bus to say he needs to be better. To me, this reads as Hoke saying he needs to pay more attention to what is going on with his team because when he trusted senior leadership it didn't work out and in retrospect he recognizes that and is taking steps to make sure the leaders on the team don't screw things up again. How many times have we heard and read Hoke say that the coaches need to be better? I think he probably had a brief moment of honesty or maybe that the pressure of the job is eating him up. Either way I don't like the head coach pointing the finger at former players and then saying he could have done things differently.


April 21st, 2014 at 4:42 PM ^

Hoke has been saying the coaches need to be better for years and has never placed the blame on the kids. Now, in what most people believe to be a make or break year, he says the leadership on the team didn't perform. What's changed? The pressure is getting turned way up and instead of sticking to his SOP of have the coaches absorb all blame he points the finger at his former players and says because they didn't do their job I have to do mine differently. Well, guess what. If you're doing your job differently because of the results of decisions that you made, you weren't doing you job very well to begin with. I can appreciate him trying to get better and resolve things but I just hate that he is publicly stating he thinks the kids somehow failed him and the team.

Blue Mike

April 21st, 2014 at 11:32 AM ^

How exactly does Brady say that they need to improve the leadership on the team without pointing fingers at last year's leadership?  He can't say "You know, last year was great and all, but we felt like changing things up a little for the heck of it."  Everybody on here would be roasting him for lying, being ignorant, or worse.

It sounds to me like Brady is starting to recognize that there were problems with the football program that ran deeper than just having a "Michigan Man" running the team.  He realizes that he needs to change things quickly, or else he won't be around long enough to change them.  Kudos to him.


April 21st, 2014 at 10:44 AM ^

Exactly.  Everybody is so affraid of admitting mistakes and lessons learned.  It seems to be even worse in sports.  Like you're admitting weakness or something.  

I'd be more worried if they looked at last year, said they did everything right, and it just needed more time.  They changed the OC, changed the leadership structure around to give the young guys a voice at the table. 

Ultimately the product on the field will be what they're judged by, and they know this.  How they get there is hardly relevant.

Maize and Blue…

April 21st, 2014 at 12:37 PM ^

Why did Hoke  let it go on all year if he had a problem wth the senior leadership.  Reactive vs proactive is always a loser.  While I resect the man for his love of the university, I still don't believe he is the right man for the job.   .


April 21st, 2014 at 4:57 PM ^

Or he is admitting he was more hands off last year and was letting the captains regulate the locker room.  And this year he is going to be much more hands on.


He even said if Nuss assumes the Borges position in the box upstairs that he'll be wearing a head set more often.  But Nuss may coach from the sideline, which I really like the possibility of.

Space Coyote

April 21st, 2014 at 5:11 PM ^

I want the eyes of my OC (unless the defacto OC is the HC, such as Rich Rod) up in the box. DC is different, because it's much more about energy, and your staff can help you out with some things you maybe didn't pick up on your scouting report, but I really want my OC seeing the whole field and all the things the defense is doing.

The only thing I would like about Nuss on the sideline is to better work with the QBs between drives.


April 21st, 2014 at 9:54 AM ^

There were so many rumors of issues last year that were constantly being dismissed by the majority of people here. It was obvious that there were problems. It's nice to see Hoke acknowledging there were issues and trying to actually do something about it.

Really looking forward to the next few years.


April 21st, 2014 at 11:29 AM ^

I think it should be noted that team chemistry and performance are somewhat chicken and egg. Was the bad team chemistry the cause for losing, or the consequence from losing? Conversely, it's easy to attribute success to good chemistry, but good chemistry is easy when you're successful.


Space Coyote

April 21st, 2014 at 9:56 AM ^

Not only does it allow for everyone to be heard, but it also puts guys in a position to be team leaders by the time they grow into upper classmen. There seem to be many rumblings about team chemistry issues last year, particularly some older players not really encouraging the younger guys but instead just being really hard on them. I think that's part of the reason you continued to hear Hoke in the pre-season say "I really like this team". I think even the "execute better" mantra was attempting to get everyone to buy in to what they were selling, as players started to lose confidence in everything around them.

You treat each year differently from a leadership standpoint, and sometimes the approach backfires. Hopefully this makes the team as a whole closer and better prepares the future leaders of the team. I think people need to step up and keep the team hungry so the team as a whole doesn't fall into the general pessimism of the surrounding fan base and media. A chip on the shoulder this year won't be manufactured, look at mgo.licio.us if you doubt that.


April 21st, 2014 at 10:17 AM ^

As much as I have been on the site over the last year, I missed the leadership team chemistry rumblings.  I know the senior leadership was great under the Martin, Vanbergen (sp?) Koger team, and I could see Kovacs and Denard encouraging the teams, so maybe not hearing this should have been an indicator.

I am speculating, but was this a team thing or was it more specific to a certain position group?

edit: nevermind.  Read the article, and it is a pretty easy read between the lines.  I must have either had blinders on last year or just not been paying close attention if people brought this up in the fall.  Just makes me miss that group of 5 that Hoke first inherited.

I Like Burgers

April 21st, 2014 at 10:58 AM ^

Like I said, Lewan was very talented.  No one is debating that.  But the guy was a headcase on (helmet twisting and fights in his last two MSU games) and off the field (Gibbons, OSU bar fight) that made lots of poor decisions.  By the end of his time here, I don't remember being more ashamed to have someone representing Michigan than I was with Lewan.

The proof will be in the pudding, but this may be a classic case of addition by subtraction.  The offensive line in particular is a unit that needs to opperate as a whole, so even though they're losing a guy like Lewan (and Schofield) if everyone else has great chemistry then the line could actually be better without him.  And from the quotes coming from Hoke and the OL guys this spring, that sounds like its the case.


April 21st, 2014 at 10:58 AM ^

A theory hashed by ESPN.com writer Bill Simmons and his friend Dave Cirilli. It that explains the reason why teams inexplicably become better after their star player leaves the team for any reason (trade, injury, etc.). Two elements must be present for a situation to be explained by the Ewing Theory: 1) The team has a star player who receives a lot of attention but never wins anything, and 2) The star player leaves the team and everybody writes the team off.
The Knicks lose Patrick Ewing to an injury in a 1999 NBA playoff series with the Indiana Pacers. Everyone writes them off. The Knicks then win three of the next four games and win the series to advance to the NBA finals.


April 21st, 2014 at 11:27 AM ^

"Brady should have simply done this, grabbed Taylor's face mask and say "Son , it's tough for NFL scouts to get film on you while your ass in on the bench""

And for what reason would he have done that? So Hoke should bench his All-America left tackle because he's "pressuring" the younger linemen? Yeah...that would go over well.


April 21st, 2014 at 11:42 AM ^

This is a very disjointed conversation you're trying to have, BeerlessTailgate. They're two completely separate issues. The person above was trying to say that Hoke should have benched or threatened to bench Lewan for whatever his "failures of leadership" were. Space Coyote never agreed or disagreed with that notion, because he talked about the most efficient way to pressure players, not whether Lewan should have been benched for putting on the wrong kind of pressure (if we are to assume that his "pressure" was the unproductive kind).

In summary, I don't really know where you're going with your posts. I look forward to the next non sequitur, which I will probably choose to ignore.


April 21st, 2014 at 1:46 PM ^

I think this may be a more complex issue than what you make it to be.  Carr did a great job with Joppru (I believe this was the tight end) who had been under achieving per his talent. Carr said he could either straighten out and party less, or depart the team.  He spent the next few months meeting Carr every morning to run steps and turned his career around.

Lewan never had an issue bringing effort on the field, or I'm assuming, off.  What I'm gueeing he was doing was being a negative influence on the team chemistry.  A good leader can vary his approach to influence his teamates.  It sounds like Lewan just berated them.  What Hoke needed to do, and maybe he tried, was to make Lewan understand how this was not helping him, or the team win.  I don't think your approach would have worked in this instance, but that's just my opinon on an issue I didn;t know was a problem until today, so yeah, maybe I should just shut up.