The Wolverine

2013 Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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T By John Borton he most prolific running quarter back in the history of major college football left a host of records and a vapor trail up the tunnel at Michigan Stadium. He did not leave a team bereft of offense. In fact, there's a sense of excitement surging through Schembechler Hall these days. While workers remake the building itself, so those inside move toward the Michigan offense to come. Those preparations elicit smiles bigger than the offensive linemen presently readying to pave the way. It's no secret that Brady Hoke's crew came from the West Coast with a West Coast, prostyle offense. They like 'em big and mean up front, ready to crushingly provide a pathway for bruising tailbacks to follow. They like to mix in a molar-rattling fullback, and employ a number of burly tight ends. "Doing your due diligence and going back and studying tape and putting the spread in, I thought they did a great job. That's not our personality, but it became our personality. That's why those guys are such good coaches. "You take what you have. You don't do what your ego tells you to do. You take the athletes you have." Michigan's coaches took them and — combined with a rejuvenated defense that improved dramatically from its immediate predecessors — put the Wolverines in position to twice challenge for the Big Ten Championship Game. They didn't make it either year, only fueling the hunger to move forward in a forceful run at that goal. They'll be more equipped to do it their way, in a process that began in earnest over the last five games of 2012. "It's more of a comfort level, but moreover we've recruited to that style," Borges said. Moving On Pro-Style Look Completes Head Coach Brady Hoke's Michigan Transition They also love to throw the ball — short, intermediate, deep. If defenders cheat up, they want to run play-action and leave secondaries smoldering like Wile E. Coyote after another failed scheme. When they came to Ann Arbor, though, the roster simply wasn't set up for all of that. There were twice as many receivers as scholarship offensive linemen. Tight ends had dwindled down to a precious few, and the greatest offensive weapon involved the Road Runner behind center. So the adjustment began over the course of two years, producing 19 wins, including streak-breaking victories over Ohio State and Michigan State, and a Sugar Bowl win. It wasn't enough — Hoke will be the first to say so — but it wasn't disheartening. Two years later, armed with a roster buttressed by high-level recruiting to meet the new-world needs, Hoke, offensive coordinator Al Borges and the entire offensive staff stand ready to take it up a notch. The head coach doesn't mind taking a peek back, though, to acknowledge the transition effort. "Al and the offensive staff did a tremendous job," Hoke said. "Being totally a West Coast, pro-style offense and running it most of your career, then understanding you've got a remarkable man and athlete at quarterback … "We've recruited bigger linemen, taller wide receivers. We've recruited bigger tailbacks. We're heading that direction. "What is tough from my perspective is knowing what you want to be, yet not being able to do that, but still trying to win as many games as you possibly can with what you have, and yet implementing schemes you probably won't use in the future. So that's a little bit of a paradox, but it was fun making the adjustment, knowing we could do some of that stuff. "The only time you can complain is when you don't have any talent, because no matter what scheme you run, you can't be successful. But we had enough talent to be formidable in a lot of football games." Here's a look at how the Wolverines have changed, and are changing, to become a different kind of offensive threat. It Starts Up Front Instead of the eight scholarship offensive linemen on the roster when they arrived, Hoke's crew will feature 14 when they hit When Hoke arrived at U-M, there were just eight scholarship offensive linemen on the roster, but this year there will be 14, building depth and enhancing competition. 36  ■  The Wolverine 2013 Football Preview photo by lon horwedel

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