2010 CFBZ Prediction: 7th Place in Big Ten
2010 Actual Finish: Tied for 7th Place in Big Ten (7-6, 3-5)
Michigan has started out the last two years looking like it might be ready to turn the corner under Rich Rodriguez. Both years they beat Notre Dame and this year they added a season starting win over eventual Big East and BCS Bowl Invitee Connecticut. QB Denard Robinson broke out and finished 2nd in the Big Ten with 1702 yards rushing (only 4 yards behind Illinois Mikel Leshoure). Robinson also passed for over 2500 yards.
Michigan offense finished 13th in the Nation in rushing yards and 25th in the Nation in points scored. Sounds good right? Well, Michigan lost 6 of their last 8 games to finish 7-6 and their season was capped off when they were annihilated by Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl 52-14 (but this isn't your father's Mississippi State...this is Dan Mullen's Mississippi State). So what happened? For the most part it was a lack of defense. Michigan ranked 107th in scoring defense, 95th in rushing defense, and 112th in passing defense. It's tough to win football games when you are giving up over 30+ points per game (in their 6 losses the least amount of points they gave up with 34 to Michigan State). RichRod was shown the door and Michigan brought in San Diego State Coach Brady Hoke to take the helm. We have some thoughts up here on Brady Hoke if you'd like to click over and read them. For some up close information about the Wolverines 2010 season we once again partnered with the with the colorful Michigan blog Midnight Maize to get their thoughts.
1. Michigan went 7-6 this year. You predicted 7-5 or 8-4 for the regular season. Was this season a success, a failure or somewhere in between?
It was success on the individual level and failure on a team level. We discovered that Denard Robinson is pretty good. Denard went on to break records and made us worth watching. He went on to win some Big Ten awards and to give us a ray of hope for the next 2 years. Michigan failed on a team level. Only beating teams that were avg to bad and being pounded by the good to very good teams. Struggled again in the Big Ten. Defense was a mess all over the field while being blown off the field in the bowl game. In the end the coach gets fired. It was a huge failure on many levels.
2. Obviously the most glaring weakness for the Wolverines was their inability to stop anybody's offense. What are the biggest changes that need to be made on the defensive side of the football?
Lets just put this out there. The defense is a complete mess from A to Z. Some kids have switched positions so many times that they just aren't good at what they are suppose to do. We have also changed our base defense so many times that the kids are always thinking instead of playing. We will be on our 3rd D-Cord in the last 4 years. We have recruited kids who have either busted out (Justin Turner) or haven't had an impact at all (Big Will,was changed to the OL). The best thing that we could do is to have the D-cord stick around for more than 2 years and to recruit kids by position and keep them there. Rich Rod would recruit a WR and move him to safety or have a guy like Craig Roh play LBer when he was clearly better at DE and played that in high school. They really can't get worse from 108th in total defense. I expect some improvement under Hoke since he seems to give a crap about what happens on that side of the ball. Seeing the defense force a punt once in a while will be a nice welcome.
3. What are you favorite memories from this past season?
It was the Notre Dame game and the Illinois game. I was at the Illinois game and had great seats at the 40 and close to the field. Watching a 67-65 thriller is pretty fun. It was more than likely Tate Forcier's last great moment at Michigan. The ND game was Denards coming out party. He ran wild for 847927 yards and put the nation on notice that Michigan had a new QB. ND win was great at the time also for the fact that we still had hope at that point and no one really knew how bad the defense was at that point (ignorance is bliss).
4. If you could have a do-over from any game, which one would it be?
PSU game. I feel like that was the start of the end for Rich Rod. You could feel it slipping away at that point. PSU was a shell of its self from the previous year. Evan Royster was having an awful year and than he shows up and runs wild on Michigan. The team just put in a terrible effort. I look at that game as the game Rich Rod was put on notice. It only got worse from there.
5. Michigan finished only 3-5 in the conference. What does it need to do this off-season to get back in contention with the Ohio State and Wisconsin?
5. Michigan is light years behind OSU. Michigan is is pretty far behind Wisconsin at this point too. We are sorta starting over again with Brady Hoke. He has a lot better roster to work with which is the upside. Rich Rod was given a walk on and Steven Threet for a QB and was told to win anyway. Hoke will have some weapons. We still need to recruit some better horses on defense (not gonna happen in this class) and just have some stability for the next few years and we will be with OSU again. I wish I could tell you it was just the young secondary or the bad LBing coaching but its so many things that its gonna take a season to figure out and fix. This fresh start was the right call. I look forward to us finally getting better and not just on one side of the ball.