The Wolverine

2013 Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE Year In Review B By Geoff Chiles rady Hoke made a magical first impression on Michigan fans. The Wolverines went 11-2, beat Ohio State and won the Sugar Bowl in his first season as head coach. The mojo Hoke conjured up in 2011 dried up in 2012, though, when everything that could go wrong did. Quarterback Denard Robinson and the Wolverines faced a treacherous schedule that included the two teams that played for the national title (Alabama and Notre Dame) and another squad that finished undefeated (Ohio State). photo by lon horwedel The Second Season At The Helm Is Not Nearly As Kind For Brady Hoke And Michigan Michigan faced the country's 14th-toughest schedule, which included the two teams that played for the national title. Their opponents won at a .593 clip, and the most daunting feature of all was the challenging matchups away from home. U-M opened the season against defending — and eventually repeating — national champion Alabama at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, followed by an "Under the Lights" sequel in South Bend against a Notre Dame team that would play the Crimson Tide in college football's national title game. The battle against Nebraska in Lincoln had Legends Division implications, and "The Game" in Columbus featured an Ohio State team looking to go a perfect 12-0 despite NCAA sanctions. Michigan lost each of those contests. The offensive line and running backs struggled to run the football, amassing the lowest rushing average (183.8 yards per game) since 2008. The offense was ineffective at critical junctures. Michigan notched only two field goals at Notre Dame in the final 30 minutes; posted zero points in the fourth quarter at Nebraska; and failed to cross midfield in the second half at Ohio State. ———— T i m e l i n e ———— Aug. 15: ESPN College Gameday announces they will broadcast the Cowboys Classic between Michigan and Alabama. The Wolverines are 15-8 all time in games when Gameday is present. Aug. 26: Head coach Brady Hoke names fifth-year senior safety Jordan Kovacs and senior quarterback Denard Robinson as team captains for Michigan's 133rd year of football. Sept. 1: The Wolverines are battered and beaten 41-14 by defending national champion Alabama in Arlington, Texas. In U-M's season-opening game, played at Cowboys Stadium, running back Vincent Smith and the Wolverines were soundly defeated, 41-14, by eventual national champion Alabama. photo by John Rhodes 192  ■  The Wolverine 2013 Football Preview Turnovers were an issue, too. The Wolverines lost eight fumbles compared to 11 for the opposition, and U-M quarterbacks threw 19 interceptions versus only seven for the competition. A plus-seven turnover advantage in 2011 became a negative-nine margin last season. Many of the giveaways came on the road in key games. Most notably, quarterback Denard Robinson had six turnovers in the Notre Dame loss. Important position players — including cornerback Blake Countess, running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and Robinson — went down with agonizing injuries. Ultimately, the injuries, turnovers and ineffective offense on the road led to Michigan's 8-5 final record, but there were bright spots as well. The Maize and Blue continued their dominance at home, moving their record in the friendly confines of The Big House to 14-0 under Hoke. U-M won a thrilling 38-31 overtime contest with Northwestern and a last-second field goal by Brendan Gibbons beat Michigan State, ending its four-game win streak in the rivalry. Quarterback Devin Gardner provided a glimpse of things to come with offensive explosions in wins over Northwestern and Iowa, throwing for 286 yards against the Wildcats and a career-high 314 against the Hawkeyes. Robinson's signature smile was turned upside down by an injury late in the first half of the Nebraska game. However, the incomparable personality returned to action and set the all-time rushing record by a quarterback in NCAA history with 4,495 yards.

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