Sports

2011 College Football Season Preview: Michigan Wolverines

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2010 Record: (7-6, 3-5 in Big 10)

Head Coach: Brady Hoke (47-50 All-Time)

Last Bowl Game: 2010 Gator Bowl (lost to Miss St 52-14)

2010 Preview

CFBZ Michigan Links

5 Players Ready To Breakout In The Big Ten 

2010 Exit Survey

Big Ten Roundtable

Pre-Spring All Big Ten Team

Returning Big Ten Offensive Firepower

Schedule

9/3: Western Michigan (2009 result: 31-7)

9/10: Notre Dame (2010 result: won 28-24)

9/17: Eastern Michigan (2009 result: won 45-17)

9/24: San Diego St

10/1: Minnesota

10/8: at Northwestern

10/15: at Michigan St (2010 result: lost 34-17)

10/29: Purdue (2010 result: won 27-16)

11/5: at Iowa (2010 result: lost 38-28)

11/12: at Illinois (2010 result: won 67-65 3OT)

11/19: Nebraska

11/26: Ohio State (2010 result: lost 37-7)

2010 Offensive Statistics:

Scoring: 32.8 ppg (3rd in Big Ten, 25th in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 238.54 yds/game (3rd in Big Ten, 13th in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 250.2 yds/game (2nd in Big Ten, 36th in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 488.7 yds/game (1st in Big Ten, 8th in Nation)

2010 Defensive Statistics:

Scoring: 35.2 ppg (last in Big Ten, 107th in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 188.92 yds/game (10th in Big Ten, 95th in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 261.8 yds/game (last in Big Ten, 112th in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 450.8 yds/game (last in Big Ten, 110th in Nation)

2010 Misc Stats:

Turnover Margin: -0.77 per game (last in Big Ten, 38th in Nation)

Penalties: 45.9 yds/game (7th in Big Ten, 72nd in Nation)

Returning Starters:

Offense: 9

Defense: 7

Kicker/Punter: 2

Top Returning Statistical Leaders:

Passing: QB Denard Robinson, Jr (182 of 291 for 2570 yds, 18 TD, 11 INT)

Rushing: QB Denard Robinson, Jr (256 for 1702 yds, 6.6 ypc, 14 TD)

Receiving: WR Roy Roundtree, Jr (72 rec for 935 yds, 7 TD)

Tackles: S Jordan Kovacs, Jr (116)

Sacks: DE Ryan Van Bergen, Sr (4)

Interceptions: LB Cameron Gordon, Soph (3)

Bowl Predictions

Athlon Sports: Ticket City (vs Houston)

Phil Steele: Little Caesars (vs Toledo)

RichRod and the Michigan offense finally got things rolling last year but it was the failure of the defense and the inability to beat rival Ohio State that caused the administration to turn to Brady Hoke. Initially, I was unimpressed by the Brady Hoke hire but he's really hit the ground running and he might just be what the Wolverines need to turn this team around. Despite just taking over, Brady Hoke has some nice toys to play with on the offensive side of the football. Denard Robinson dazzled the football world at times last year as he not only passed for 2,570 yards and 18 TD but he also finished 3rd in the Nation in rushing (behind only LaMichael James and Mikel Leshoure).

The cupboard isn't exactly bare for Hoke (at least on offense) as the Wolverines return one of the most experienced teams in the Big Ten. The big question is how will the team respond to his coaching and to a change in schemes and how quickly can he fix the defense. Hoke has surrounded himself with some well known coaches as he's hired Al Borges as OC and Greg Mattison as DC. This is will be the first year of divisional play in the Big Ten and Michigan has landed in the "Legends" division. I honestly think this division is wide open. Nebraska is the favorite but anyone from Michigan State, Michigan, Northwestern and Iowa have a legitimate shot at winning this division with the right breaks. This will be a very interesting year in Ann Arbor and we caught up with the most colorful Michigan blog in all of the land, the Midnight Maize, to get a local take on the 2011 Wolverines.

Brady Hoke seems to have hit the ground running. What are your impressions of him now that he's been on campus for a few months?

The "process" and the hiring of Hoke was a pretty big let down after the sexy names said no. Jimmy was really the only option in my mind. I wanted nothing to do with Les Miles since he is a snake imo and not the brightest coach in the world. Hoke did great things in some crappy places when given time but is he worth giving the keys to Michigan football? Right now I can only speak from a recruiting and management stand point and I would have to say "YES". If he gives Michigan the results on the field that he is giving us off it he will go down as a great coach who got Michigan back on track. 

He is doing his best "Texas" impression in this 2012 class. Sucking up every talented Michigan high school player and has a whopping 16 commits right now. I think Michigan had 3 or 4 at this point last year. The midwest is loaded this year and he is cleaning house. Also grabbing kids from Ohio and one from Cal. He has left Michigan State in the dust in the recruiting race which is something RR struggled with or at least came out even with. 

He also has said and did all the right things off the field and seems to have the teams attention. He hired a great staff and a legit D-Cord in Mattinson who will care enough to coach that side of the ball. Maybe hiring someone who has a true passion for Michigan was the key. The results on the field remain to be seen but the off field results thus far have been out standing. 

Obviously the defense was a sore subject last year. What has been done this off-season to try and get this unit back on track?

It all starts and ends with Mattinson. We have a guy leading that side of the ball who will recruit, coach and have power. Greg Robinson didn't do any of those and a lot of it was not by choice. The team moved to a 4-3 base and will stick with that going forward. No more flip flopping schemes every year.

Mattinson and Hoke will push Michigan to be a good defense in the near future. It won't be there to just get the offense ready like under RR. Fundamentals are being pushed hard and they already looked improved in the spring game. I expect us to go from awful/death to AVG/not too bad. If that does happen then Hoke and Mattinson are on the right path. They are already beefing up the defense in the 2012 recruiting class with one stud after another and grabbed a few late in the 2011 class. I really expect Michigan to have one of the best defenses in the big ten within the next five years. This year we will just hope for average.

Besides Denard Robinson and Ray Roundtree who looks poised to step up on offense this year?

That is a great question. The offense has a ton of questions since we have moved to more of a pro style. I still expect a lot of spread looks and plays (be dumb not to with Denard). Michigan will need a RB to step up. We haven't had that stud since Mike Hart (sorry Minor).  I think guys you need to keep an eye are Mike Cox, Stephen Hopkins and Shaw/Rawls (frosh). I just can't see Smith or Fitz getting a ton of reps. I could be way wrong since the job is wide open but Mike Cox is my leading horse to have a break out season. He should thrive in the pro style and has enough speed to break free but also the power to lower the boom. Oline should be strong as well with Molk and Lewan. Another guy to watch is Juniorr Hemingway who I think is the best WR of the core. He will be running longer routes in the offense giving him more jump ball shots. He should do well as long as he stays healthy.

Who are some newcomers that can make an immediate impact on defense this year?

That is really hard to say since I don't feel there are any "this dude is playing now" type of players. Here are a few names I feel could see early action or have a chance to see some reps. Chris Barnett-Surprise TE recruit from SEC land. Pretty athletic TE. Could see time with Koger. Thomas Rawls-Big RB who has a shot at the job since its wide open. Went to HS in Flint just like Mark Ingram and has been called a better RB by his high school coach. Blake Coutness-He's a 4-star CB. We need a ton of help at CB. Has a good chance of seeing the field. Matt Wile-He has to win the kicker job! Or I will gain even more grey hair at age 28. Justice Hayes-Besides a cool name he is a pretty good RB. He catches very well out of the back field. I doubt he sees time but its possible. Brennen Beyer-From what I saw on film I think he can back up Craig Roh a bit at DE, reminds me of Roh in some respects. He will need to put on weight.

Looking at the schedule, what are the most important games this year?

The Night game vs Notre Dame will be huge from a program stand point. First game under the lights in Ann Arbor. Wanna keep the winning streak vs ND. Michigan State is a must win. After 3 losses I feel like I live in some bizzaro world where they beat us in football and we handle them in basketball. Its gonna be a tough win to get in Lansing. Minnesota just to keep the Jug at Michigan. Nebraska, for the fact that they expect to show up in the B10 and take control. OSU as always. With all that has went down in C-Bus this gives Hoke the perfect chance to knock off OSU in AA and become a legend overnight.

What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?

I expect some major bumps this season with all the changes. I would be very surprised if Denard didn't struggle and struggle a lot at times. He still has the magic legs but until he doesn't freak out when his first few options are not open and chuck it to the wrong jersey I think he will have his issues. I do think the new staff will use a lot of spread to keep them in games and to score at times. I would guess when we get up on teams we may go more pro style. This staff won't force their system on the players who are built for spread but it will still be the base. Michigan will also need to figure out who their feature running backs will be and get something out of them.  

The defense will improve. It has to. They couldn't get any worse. So we are looking for average results here. Hoping for middle of the pack rankings out of the defense. A lot starters returning so we got that going for us, along with Mattison as the D-cord. The way the luck has changed around Ann Arbor since RR was fired and Hoke has been hired has been something of fairy tales. I expect a year that everyone will be proud of and have us thirsting for the next year. Which I think will be a very good year with Senior Denard. I think Michigan beats MSU and OSU will be a toss up. ND I am not so sure about. I think they have a ton of talent and its the 2nd game. Michigan will still be in hardcore learning mode at that point. I see the record being 8-4 on a best case and 6-6 should be the worse. Setting up a exciting 2012 season. 

Coming In August: Big Ten Preview

Next Preview: Pittsburgh

2011 Team Previews

ACC- Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Miami, NC State, Wake Forest

Big 12- Baylor , Kansas St, Texas Tech

Big East- Cincinnati, Louisville, USF

Big Ten- Illinois, Minnesota , Northwestern, Penn St, Purdue

C-USA- East Carolina, Houston ,Marshall, SMU, Southern Mississippi, UAB, UCF

Independent- Army

MAC- Akron, Ball St, Bowling Green, Buffalo , Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Temple, Toledo

MWC- Air Force, New Mexico, UNLV, Wyoming

Pac-12- Arizona , UCLA

Sun Belt- FAU, FIU, Louisiana, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Troy , ULM, Western Kentucky

WAC- Fresno St, Idaho, San Jose St