Photos from Michigan Football Practice
Another football season is fast looming larger for the Wolverines, their 132nd.
Another new season, repleat with new coaches, new defensive and offensive schemes, and to compound the imponderables, it is also the advent of the now split in two twelve team Big Ten with Legends and Leaders divisions, a championship title game, and a new adversary in the formidable Nebraska Huskers.
Obviously first year Head Coach Brady Hoke faces real challenges in his first go round as the head Wolverine football cheese. Serious challenges. Recent Swiss cheese Wolverine defenses were aggravated by recruiting defiencies which in turn diminished the defensive talent pool. This, with other problems, resulted in a last place defensive finish in the team’s previous season. There was a problem implementing schemes, and inexperience. Special team debacles were at times a catastrophe.
Yeah, it’s me, the “basketball guy”, back for more. It’s time for my annual attempt to predict how the University of Michigan’s football season is going to go.
I’ve been quite good at it for the last 3 seasons, during the ill-fated Rodriguez Era. I correctly predicted 11 of the 12 results last season, all except the opening UConn win. Many people haven’t liked my predictions, but they’re just predictions, not what I want to happen. I would love for UM to go 13-0 every season, but that’s not the way it looks, yet. I’m expecting the offense to be slightly less productive than last season, and the defense to be significantly less embarrassing. Special teams? Who knows…
Here are my predictions for the 2011 season:
|09/03||Western Michigan||Win||1-0||Other than that unfortunate Toledo game in 2008, Michigan has always beaten MAC teams. This WMU team is nothing special. A nice first win for Hoke.|
|09/10||Notre Dame||Win||2-0||This is the first home night game in Michiganhistory, and the team will deliver a big win in a close game.|
|09/17||Eastern Michigan||Win||3-0||Eastern isn’t even as good as WMU. No contest.|
|09/24||San Diego State||Win||4-0||An intriguing matchup, since Hoke coached SDSU last year. It could be a tough game, but UM should prevail.|
|10/01||Minnesota||Win||5-0 (1-0)||Minnesota will be better than they were last season, but not good enough to beat Michiganin the Big House.|
|10/08||at Northwestern||Win||6-0 (2-0)||After 5 home games in a row, UM hits the road. This will be a tough, hard-fought win.|
|10/16||at Michigan State||Loss||6-1 (2-1)||Yikes! It’s going to be tough to lose to MSU for the 4th year in a row. It’s hard to win on the road in the Big Ten.|
|10/22||Bye||The bye week comes at a good time, after 2 tough road games in a row.|
|10/29||Purdue||Win||7-1 (3-1)||Purdue has been slipping the last couple seasons. UM beat them at their place last season, and they should beat them inAnn Arbor this season.|
|11/05||Iowa||Loss||7-2 (3-2)||Back to earth for UM. With a 7-1 record and a decent ranking in the polls, people will be talking about a Big Ten Divisional (Legends) Championship before this game. I’m afraid thatIowa is just too tough.|
|11/12||at Illinois||Win||8-2 (4-2)||This will be an emotional game, after last season’s triple-overtime thriller. Illinois wants this one bad, but UM wants it even more.|
|11/19||Nebraska||Loss||8-3 (4-3)||Sure, Michigan has playedNebraska before, but this is their first Big Ten meeting. It’s a huge game, but Nebraska is just too good. Nebraskawill probably win this game, the Legends division, and maybe the Big Ten title game.|
|11/26||Ohio State||Win||9-3 (5-3)||Finally, after losing to the (cheating) Buckeyes way too many times recently,Michigan has the team and the attitude to win. It won’t be easy.|
That should be good enough for 3rd place in the Legends division of the Big Ten, and a good New Year’s Day bowl game.
It’s possible that UM might beat MSU or Iowa, but I doubt it.
It’s also possible that UM could lose to Ohio State, but I think we’re due. They could also lose the Notre Dame game, but that seems less likely.
Here are my observations from our brief opportunity (20 minutes) to view Michigan football practice.
Brady Hoke is definitely a hands-on coach. He spent time running drills and working with defensive lineman on techniques and was quick with instruction, criticism, and occasional praise.
He also spent time working with lineman to refine blocking technique during punting. During spring practice, I asked special teams coordinator Dan Ferrigno how he would motivate players to players to do the many thankless jobs critical to successful special teams play. He said that with a head coach like Brady who understood how important these aspects of the game are that wouldn’t be a problem. Seeing Hoke instructing the finer points of blocking for the interior lineman on the punt team reinforced this.