The 95th edition of the Wolverine’s football bust was again sponsored by the University of Michigan Club of Detroit, and was held on the evening of December 7, 2015 at Livonia’s Laurel Manor.
I was not able to attend the Bust this year, but it remains an opportunity that Michigan Fans should take annually for a number of reasons. It enables fans to put a face on the football machines you see on the field on Saturdays, and some that you don’t often get to observe that are in the background of the program, but contribute much to the success.
Obviously, we all still remember that the Wolverine’s 2015 football regular season ended in disappointment with a pounding by the Buckeyes. Nevertheless, this season overall was a resounding success, despite the ten second reprieve that saved Michigan State’s bacon in this year’s tilt against the Wolverines, and the last disappointment against Ohio State.
Like many others in the preseason, I held the opinion that the season could not be a success without victories against the Spartans and the Buckeyes, but it was a success in spite of that. The Wolverines were competitive in all their games, home and away, except for OSU. They endured, fought, and often overcame, fighting to success nine times.
The coaching team was, for the most part, also outstanding, and remains intact, with the exception of departing Defensive Coordinator D. J. Durkin. Durkin is the Head Coach at Maryland now and will be replaced by Greg Mattison as DC for the bowl game. Interim Athletic Director Hackett will be replaced at his own wish. A search committee to replace him has been formed, and is operating.
The entire record of this season is not written, as Florida will once again cross paths with the Wolverines in a New Year’s Day Citrus Bowl competition, in what should be an evenly matched game.
While it is obvious improvements are necessary, a 9 and 3 win loss record, and appearance in the Citrus Bowl are drastic improvements over last year’s dismal 5 wins, 7 losses, with no bowl appearance.
At the end of this season the Wolverines were seconds away from a real run at the East Division Championship game. They won away from home. They fielded a remarkable defense, and an improving offense. They were exciting and innovative.
For example, Jabril Peppers, was learning, and improving defensively (in several categories), offensively (in several categories including running back), and on special teams as he became an integral part of the Wolverine’s success. He will only improve his own, and his team’s fortunes.
The staff recruited Jake Ruddock, a graduate 5th year QB from Iowa, taught him a new system, nurtured and supported him through the rough patches, and he had quite a year. They made him into more than just the caretaker all expected. He became a playmaker.
There was a learning curve, as there were timing problems on early long throws, and much fan wringing of hands. It seemed for a while he would never hit WR’s like the streaking Jehu Chesson with the deep ball, but he did as they switched from a running to an effective passing offensive.
Ruddock and his teammate, Chesson, became only the second pair of teammates in conference history to share the Big Ten Player of the Week Award, after they connected for four TDs in the Wolverine’s double overtime at Indiana.
The speedy Chesson also prospered on special teams, recovered a fumble, blocked a punt, and was honored as the MVP of this year’s team by his teammates.
The nomenclature of the MVP Award has changed to the Bo Schembechler Most Valuable Player Award, and was earned for this year by Chesson.
The Dr. Arthur Robinson Scholarship Award was awarded to Tight End Michael Jocz.
The Hugh J. Rader Award for the Best Lineman was bestowed on Offensive Center Graham Glasgow. A fifth year Senior, he started 36 games in a 41 game career.
The Robert P. Ufer Award for enthusiasm and love for Michigan was bestowed on Line Backer Joe Bolden.
The Roger Zatkoff Award for most outstanding linebacker was given to Desmond Morgan. He was second on the team this year with 67 total tackles.
There is just one game left this season, but the fifteen practices preceding it will continue to benefit the Wolverines into next season, no matter the outcome..
Bring on the Gators, and Go Blue!
Note: As stated above, I did not attend this year’s Football Bust. The commentary is mine, but the facts pertaining to the Bust were gleaned from the official M football web site.