I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt cheated by the fact that Brady Hoke’s first game as head football coach at the University of Michigan — especially after 9 months of anticipation and preparation — was cut short by weather.
And wasn’t this new regime supposed to have been building a team in the traditional Michigan mold, one capable of fielding a squad that enjoyed getting dirty and that was highly effective at scrumming in the harshest of elements?
Plus really, if ever there was a Michigan team that was not designed to sludge up and down a soggy field wouldn’t that team have been the one coached previously by the man of whom just completed his tenure as head football coach of the Wolverines? The same man Brady Hoke was brought in to replace.
Ok so my point is, the game — although everything the close followers of the Michigan program wanted…a victory — did not unfold in the traditional, expected inaugural fashion.
But over the past three seasons around here I suppose the notion of being “unexpected” is what we supporters have come to expect and well, accept…nothing goes as planned. And one man’s tradition is another man’s trash.
Its was pretty unanimous out there on the streets prior to Saturday that Brady Hoke was by far the right man to lead the Michigan program. After his introductory press conference back on January 12th, 2011 most of the public was sold. For those that were hesitant, the last few months of recruiting — I expect — brought them into the fold as almost over night Coach Hoke looks to have assembled a stellar 2012 recruiting class built with strong, physical inside-out players.
The man has said all the right things publicly as well. He’s acknowledged the importance of the rivalry games. He has installed a countdown clock for the Ohio State game…the same team Brady so caringly only referrers to simply as “Ohio.” The mantra of, “The Team!” is repeated at almost every opportunity.
Brady Hoke has reestablished that Michigan will “be a senior lead team and will always be a senior led team.” And when naming his captains for the 132nd team in the history of Michigan football named David Molk, Mike Martin and Kevin Koger, all seniors to those roles.
His coaching track record, I think, was pretty impeccable too!
Many have used the Hoke’s overall record against him as in six full seasons leading Ball State and San Diego State Coach Hoke owns a losing record of 47-50. Of which I can validate is correct, the math adds up.
But if we focus our attention very specify on an isolated portion of that overall record the picture becomes much, much brighter. Because it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon right…or it’s not how you start the race it’s how you finish…either way the point is patience.
By focusing only at the job Brady Hoke did in his last season coaching at each school his combined record then becomes a gaudy 21-5 overall and 13-3 in conference play. Much better numbers huh?! I choose to focus on those and those alone. That’s just me.
Yet we all know – using every cliché possible — that talk is cheap and it’s all about deeds not words. The past is the past, and what have you done for me lately? And my personal favorite, which may not exactly apply, show me the money!
So it’s a good thing we can now put all this talk and posturing behind us and can finally look at some tape to see for ourselves what kind of coach Brady Hoke is and can be for the University of Michigan.
Unfortunately, we should probably wait to see the tape of game two because what happened Saturday afternoon against Western Michigan should be viewed with caution, yet at times optimistically…but not indubitably or definitively.
We all watched the game by now and I’m sure we’ve all read about the results at great length so I’ll refrain from the details here other than to say; the defense started shaky in the 1st quarter then made big plays in quarters two and three. Denard was unspectacular partly by design, partly due to the defense scoring two touchdowns. Running backs Shaw and Toussaint had a few big runs for touchdowns as well.
When asked this week about what was lost by not playing the 4th quarter against Western Michigan, Coach Hoke stated that offensive coordinator Al Borges “wanted to look at some things in a game environment that we really didn’t get to.” They’ll have their chance this week Under the Lights when Notre Dame comes to Ann Arbor in the nationally televised ESPN game.
Could this be a bigger game?
Especially after the performance put on by Denard Robinson in last year’s game with his 502 total yards of offense in the Wolverines’ 28-24 last second, come-from-behind win in South Bend, Indiana.
That happens again this year and Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly might actually invent a new shade of red.