The Wolverines will be unrecognizable when the first play kicks off their season at the Big House.
Rich Rodriguez is out, Brady Hoke is in. To Michigan fans’ delight, the spread offense and the 3-3-5 defense are out and the pro-style and the 4-3 are back into the fold.
There will also be many nuances during the season. The Wolverines will face Notre Dame in the first night game in Michigan Stadium history. To commemorate the event, Michigan will join a long list of teams that wear alternate uniforms occasionally. Michigan will also play against new conference foe Nebraska at the Big House.
One thing that does remain the same is quarterback Denard Robinson, who will enter his junior year at Michigan.
Much like three years ago, many are wondering how the new coach will use a quarterback who does not fit his system, but luckily for Brady Hoke, he will have the Big Ten offensive player of the year in his arsenal instead of a walk-on. If there was a mid-season Heisman Trophy given out last season, Denard Robinson would have ran away with it.
In three of Robinson’s first five games, he tallied more total yards than any Michigan player before him. However, injuries and stronger competition slowed him down, making victories for Michigan more difficult to come by. But even with these troubles, he still became the first NCAA player to amass over 1,500 passing and rushing yards in a season.
Even though the firing of Rich Rodriguez did not spur any key players to transfer, the roster may still face a hit because of receiver Darryl Stonum’s uncertain future. Stonum was arrested in May for operating a vehicle while visibly impaired, and was punished for the same offense in 2008.
“I wanted to wait and go all through the summer and see how he’s handling all the things he needs to do,” Hoke told AnnArbor.com.
Brady Hoke’s record as a head coach sits at 47-51, but that has not stopped him from winning people over. His recruiting class is in the top five in most rankings.
Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison looks to turn around a defense that was ranked 108th in points allowed last year. For going from coaching Ray Lewis and Co. to a defense that went from bad before Rich Rod arrived in Ann Arbor, to horrid after he was fired, Mattison’s yearly salary will be $750,000.
Michigan’s non-conference schedule sets up well this season, with every game played in Ann Arbor.
As always, whoever wins the contest between the Wolverines and Fighting Irish will gather national attention.
An interesting matchup is set for the fourth game against Hoke’s former team, San Diego State.
A game at Michigan State could be the toughest test on the schedule. Some say, Mark Dantonio has the most talented team he has ever fielded as the Spartans head coach.
The end of the season will not be any easier. The Wolverines begin the last four games on the road against Iowa and Illinois. They end with traditional powers Nebraska and Ohio State at home.
Brady Hoke and Luke Fickell will be roaming the sidelines in “The Game” for the first time. They’re also both entering programs that have faced NCAA violations.
Unlike three years ago, new coach Brady Hoke is inheriting an experienced roster. Although chances of a Big Ten Championship look bleak, he should be expected to beat rivals Ohio State and Michigan State, which have dominated the series against the Wolverines over the years.