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Dedicated to the leader and best of the leaders and best, Brady Hoke!

Friday Focus: Michigan Wolverine fans, a first down or punt?

Adam DiBartolomeoIt has been just about a week since Team 133 lost in ugly fashion to Notre Dame in front of the entire nation.  As we all know, it was not very aesthetically pleasing.  It was the antithesis of pretty.  It was U-G-L-Y ugly.

The team as well as us fans are left with another week to lick our wounds and wait for the opportunity for redemption as the bye week is upon us.  You know what, it really could not come at a better time.  For the team, yes, but maybe more so for the fans.  It’s the perfect opportunity for us to take a step back, breathe, and reevaluate our opinions and expectations for this team.  To be blunt, it’s time for us all to chill the @%$# out.

The fan base base seems to be broken into two groups and both need to slow down and relax just a tad.  Let me explain.


Michigan fans happy watching the Wolverines play well.

Look, I am a die-hard fan of the Wolverines and I want nothing more than for them to win every single game.  And who knows, maybe they will do just that.  Maybe they will use their two embarrassing showings on national TV as motivation to flip the proverbial switch and run the table.  It could happen.

But I think it is obvious this team has flaws and Brady Hoke does not have the pieces he needs to be an elite team…yet.  They are a very young football team that is playing A LOT of true freshmen, they are green on both lines, they struggle on the road, and they have an inconsistent offense that seems to be searching for playmakers and their identity.

Add those four together and it’s very difficult to say with any certainty this team can and will win 10 games.

With three difficult road games (Purdue, Nebraska, Ohio State) and a date with a Michigan State team that they have yet to prove they can match the level of physicality with, I simply can’t sit here and proclaim they’ll win all four of those games.  Even the elite and experienced football teams would struggle with that gauntlet.

Again, they may pull it off, but my gut tells me the task could be just a little too steep for this young and growing football team.

At this point I will say to this extremely confident group to pump the brakes a little.  Wait and see how the Wolverines fare in West Lafayette next week.  Do they go into a hostile environment and learn from their previous road woes?  Do they handle their business and come home with a convincing road victory against a formidable opponent?  Or do they do what they have done so far in the last two seasons and struggle on the road and come up short?  We have another full week to stew over that one.

I hope against all hope that I am wrong and the Wolverines are coming together just in time for the B1G schedule.  I hope they take out some aggression and atone for last week’s embarrassment against the Boilermakers next week.  I would love nothing more than to see the team enjoying a 2-game winning streak when they welcome the Spartans to A2 and end the streak.  I will be giddy as a schoolgirl if they waltz into Lincoln and “The Shoe” and take care of business and end up in Indianapolis.  For now let’s all just dream these big dreams and remain cautiously optimistic shall we?


“Denard should not be the quarterback!”  Well, he IS the quarterback…DEAL WITH IT!

“Al Borges is a terrible offensive coordinator!”  I don’t agree with that although I do think he does not put Denard in positions to succeed many times and he tends to get a little too cute (see Vincent Smith INT last week), but that’s a discussion for another day.

“Brady Hoke should wear a headset!”  Really?  Do I need to even comment on that?

These are some of the complaints the fans on the other end of the spectrum cry out after just about every Michigan loss.  Do I think there is some merit to them?  Sure.

Michigan fans not happy watching the team play poorly.

Michigan fans not happy watching the team play poorly.

Denard has been baffling at times.

Against Notre Dame, just as we have seen in the past in other big games, he was frustratingly awful in his decision-making and basically cost the team the game.  However, people tend to forget all of the good he has done for the team and the program.  He’s an exceptional leader and he can change a game in a heartbeat.  We have seen it done many times.

I truly believe that if and when the coaches come to grips with Denard’s shortcomings and start utilizing his strengths, the Michigan offense will explode and the Wolverines will be a tough out.

These coaches are not dumb.

They saw Robinson’s performances against Alabama and ND.  They’ll make adjustments.  I’ll leave it at that since the topic of Denard Robinson could very well spawn a completely separate article.  Not to worry, he’ll get his time under my microscope.

As previously mentioned, Michigan is a young football team that lost a lot of veterans, most importantly on the lines, from last year.  They are growing and coming together on the fly.  They will continue to get better as the season progresses.  We saw that first hand last week from the defense.

They cashed in their best performance so far this season limiting the ND offense to 13 points, 239 yards, and provoking Brian Kelly to bench his starting QB all while enduring 6 turnovers from their offense.  Not bad.  They’re getting better and that is a great sign.  If they can continue to keep the team in games, the offense will come around and they will win more than they lose.

To this group completely writing UM off, I will say, respectfully of course, to chill out.  On Saturday head to your man-cave, enjoy a couple pops, watch the teams that are in action, and know that this season is not lost and things more than likely will get better.  They can still win the B1G, Al Borges will make adjustments, and the defense will continue to grow and improve.  The sky is not falling.

To both groups, considering the circumstances highlighted above, the Wolverines are probably right where they should be.  Yeah maybe we expect to see more from Denard and the offense.  Give it time.  On the flip side, let’s be honest, he was not going to win the Heisman, but he still can have a very good season.  Let it play out.

Michigan was never going to win the national championship this year either.

They are simply too young and inexperienced in too many key positions.  From all accounts, Brady Hoke is building the program to be among the elite teams who are in that national championship conversation.  It’s not going to happen overnight.  Let it breathe.

In the meantime, enjoy the remaining 8 games of the season and whatever bowl the Wolverines find themselves playing in.  I guess if they fall apart and don’t play in a bowl then the “Chicken Littles” can have center stage.  But I don’t see that happening. Not in the least!


You can follow Adam on Twitter at @adamdibart.

And also be sure to click on over to Adam’s blog for all things Detroit sports here at - May the Hoke be with you! © January 11th, 2011
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