All throughout Wolverine nation, there is doubt. There is doubt in Devin Gardner, there is doubt in Greg Mattison, there is doubt in Darryl Funk, and there is a lot of doubt in Brady Hoke. And to be fair, all of them deserve some ridicule after last year\’s 7-6 record which included losses to State and O$U. But thinking that this team and program is on a downward spiral is wrong, and I\’m here to defend why:
1. First year of Brady Hoke having \”His Guys\” as Upperclassmen.
Now, this may not seem like too big of a deal to some but when you look at what Hoke had as far as Rich Rod recruits, he had very little to work with. There\’s a reason why the 2015 recruiting class is going to be very small: heavy attrition.
We can thank the 2009 and 2010 signing classes for that.
But now, the excuse is gone for Hoke as his guys have hit, at least, their 3rd (4th, if you count 2011) year as Wolverines. The recruits he signed now make up the majority of the team which also means the locker room is filled up with guys who bought into Hoke and his system from day one.
As for this year, the upper class is the best and most talented of the Hoke era, and will make a huge impact on the field and, in turn, on the recruiting trail. Because when Michigan wins, the recruiting world takes notice.
2. Doug Nussmeier
The latest X factor, Nussmeier is an ever-so decorated offensive coordinator that left Alabama to accept a position in Ann Arbor. He has plenty of history in developing and improving quarterbacks while running a powerful but dynamic run heavy offense. It\’s that old school \”Michigan football\” that everyone talks about and misses. So, get ready for a lot of DeVeon Smith, Derrick Green, and Ty Isaac.
Though there will be some struggles right off the bat since it\’s the first year of a new playbook, I believe Nussmeier\’s blocking schemes will improve the biggest question mark on the team: the offensive line. He simplified the scheme to help the inexperienced, but highly talented, lineman succeed. In turn, the improved blocking will open up the run and passing game, and make Devin Gardner\’s life much, much easier.
Speaking of Gardner…..
3. Gardner and the Humble Pie
Coming into 2013, Devin Gardner was flying high. He was coming off a bit of a breakout season in 2012 and entering his first season as the starting quarterback.
He played well to start out but then the wheels started to come off a bit. His decision making fell off hard in critical times, which included multiple turnovers at big moments. It wore on the team and on Gardner, himself. But sometimes, a hard fall back down to earth is the best thing for a person.
Gardner is crazy talented but has yet to reach his full potential. That is why I believe the mix of humble pie and Nussmeier will give Michigan the smart, playmaking quarterback that can lead this team back to the top of the Big Ten.
4. Defensive Talent and Depth
Along with the offensive line, the defense was another cupboard left dry by Rich Rod. The Team 135 defense will feature the most talented defensive players RR found in Jake Ryan and Frank Clark, but that\’s it. The rest of the players that make up the Two deep are Hoke\’s recruits and that is a very good thing. Hoke did a fantastic job landing top talent in his first four recruiting classes and now it is starting to show.
Instead of freshmen and sophomores being forced onto the field, Team 135 will feature a defense that has plenty of experienced defensive players in the two deep that will give fans a sight of the hard-nosed, \”Michigan\” defense that we\’ve been waiting since Hoke arrived in 2011.
Here is a look at our 2014 Two Deep Prediction:
DE: Clark (Ojemudia)
DT: Wormley (Hurst)
NT: Henry (Pipkins)
DE: Charlton (Beyer)
WILL: Gedeon (Morgan)
MIKE: Ryan (Bolden)
SAM: Ross III (Jenkins-Stone)
BCB: Taylor (Peppers)
FCB: Lewis (Stribling)
NCB: Countess (Peppers)
FS: Wilson (Clark)
SS: Hill (Thomas)
It\’s made up of only four seniors but it is full of experienced sophomores and juniors, and that one freshmen that has everyone excited: Jabrill Peppers.
Add these four points together and I believe Team 135 will not only be successful but they will also be the first glance at the old school Wolverines that everyone is missing. Now, we\’re not predicting a National Championship or even a B1G Championship (which is possible), we\’re predicting Team 135 to go 11-2 with wins over Notre Dame, Michigan State, and LSU in the Peach Bowl.
So, don\’t jump off the bandwagon yet, fans. The future is still very bright and 2014 will be the year it all finally started to shine through.