Monday, September 29, 2014

Singin' the Maize and Blues

Back in March, I came across an article about Wilton Speight, a freshman QB prospect for Michigan.  Around that same time, I mentioned to my brother, a Michigan alum, that I wouldn't be surprised to see Speight in the starting lineup before season's end.  His response?

"You think he's just going to leapfrog Morris?  And a QB with no experience over a 5th year senior with talent? No thank you, I'll stick with Gardner."

Fast forward a few months, or an eternity in Michigan football time.  Gardner's already been benched following a lackluster start.  Unfortunately, new starter Shane Morris didn't look much better.  It's probably less an indictment of Morris than of the Michigan offense as a whole.  Gardner was slightly better in his mop-up role, but ran for nearly as many yards as he gained passing.  It may take some more time before the team can effectively run Doug Nussmeier's new Wolverine offense.

And speaking of time, with the Wolverine's losing 3 games in September for the first time in their 135-year football history, has the clock started ticking on Brady Hoke?  Chants of "Fire Brady!" were heard in the waning moments of the Minnesota game.  Fanning the flames may be the additional controversy surrounding Hoke's handling of Morris during the game.  Though replays showed Morris was nearly knocked silly, he remained in the game for one more play.  Hoke was unapologetic in the face of the growing criticism.

I'm not a huge fan of Brady Hoke.  While he was a good, stable choice to step into the abyss following the Rich Rodriguez disaster, I don't know that Hoke is the long-term answer for Michigan.  His football team has gotten progressively worse -- from 11-2 in his debut season to last year's 7-6 mark, and then to this year's 2-3 campaign.  By now, the roster should be filled with Hoke recruits, players he brought in to play his style of football.  The team should be getting better, not going backwards.  I'd also be hard-pressed to recall another signature victory since beating Ohio State in 2011.

Of course, all this hand-wringing is over a football season that is only one-third complete.  There are many games left to play.  That said, how many games will this Michigan team win with the likes of Michigan State, Penn State and Ohio State still on the schedule?  In fact, without going out on too much of a limb, I'll make another prediction: unless Michigan beats Ohio State, Brady Hoke will have coached his last game from the Michigan sidelines.  Of course, Hoke will need to make it to that point first.  And who knows who'll be playing quarterback?

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