The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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38 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW of 38 with freshman eligibility and only a dozen seniors, has come a long way since last November. He obviously saw the need for more than business-as-usual development. Staff Shakeup Is Tough, But Positive Hoke made the difficult call at the offen- sive coordinator position, and it pained him, when he considered the family involved, not to mention "a good coach, good peo- ple." At the same time, he appreciates what Nussmeier may be able to inject into an offense that — aside from fifth-year senior quarterback Devin Gardner — features all underclassmen. Hoke likes where Nussmeier has been, and where he is directing the Wolverines to go. "The power in the running game we want to have, the play-action game off of that … " Hoke mused. "His expertise as a guy who has played at the highest level at the quarterback position, who has coordinated at some of the highest levels when you look at the collegiate game, the relationships and the fundamentals he's coached, there is a real credibility to it. "That's not taking away anything from what Coach Borges did in that development. But the relationships being developed, and the leadership and attention to detail we have throughout the spring was important." Gardner has expressed considerable af- finity for Nussmeier's approach, energy and teaching ability. Of course, Gardner's fortunes, and those of the Wolverines, will likely rise and fall on an offensive line that garnered way too much scrutiny last season after giving up the most tackles behind the line of scrimmage of any unit in the nation. Hoke reiterated the notion that judg- ing anything off Michigan's unimpressive spring game effort is premature. The Wol- verines didn't check out of called plays and felt no compunction toward giving spies any ammunition. "Why show what you're going to do?" he asked, rhetorically. "When you look at how they progressed during the spring, there's some real excite- ment there. Watching the attitude they've had during the summer, there's some excite- ment there. There's a physicalness that we want to play with. "The running backs — De'Veon [Smith] and Derrick [Green] and Justice Hayes, and getting Drake [Johnson] back — have been a real plus." Gardner remains a work in progress, Hoke noted, especially in the area of not trying to do too much. He'll have weapons, such as 6-5 junior wideout Devin Funchess, but can't force plays when they're not there. Meanwhile, Michigan's defense will look to force the action much more than it did a year ago. They'll be doing so via the coach- ing rearrangement, including two secondary bosses stressing an emphasis on more man- to-man coverage out of their cornerbacks. "In the NFL, most of those guys have two secondary coaches," Hoke said. "My brother [Jon Hoke, defensive backs coach for the Chi- cago Bears] is one of those guys, where they have a corners coach and a safeties coach. "When you look at college football, the trending of the spread, when you're play- ing five DBs, why not have two coaches? Roy did a tremendous job with the corners. He has worked hard to become a defen- sive backs coach, and Mal with the safeties has really been a big positive. The ratio of coaches to players has helped." Hoke likes Mattison coordinating the de- fense and coaching linebackers since, lo- gistically, it frees him up to see more in practice. He's not off dealing with the pass rush during seven-on-seven sessions and can directly impact in more ways. New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier held the same position at Alabama the last two seasons, including the Crimson Tide's 2012 national championship campaign. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN Michigan Coaching Changes Position Group 2013 2014 Offensive Coordinator Al Borges Doug Nussmeier Quarterbacks Al Borges Doug Nussmeier Running Backs Fred Jackson Fred Jackson Wide Receivers Jeff Hecklinski Jeff Hecklinski Tight Ends Dan Ferrigno Dan Ferrigno Offensive Line Darrell Funk Darrell Funk Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison Greg Mattison Defensive Tackles Brady Hoke Mark Smith Defensive Ends Greg Mattison Mark Smith Inside Linebackers Mark Smith Greg Mattison Outside Linebackers Roy Manning Greg Mattison Cornerbacks Curt Mallory Roy Manning Safeties Curt Mallory Curt Mallory Special Teams Dan Ferrigno Dan Ferrigno 36-41.Brady Hoke.indd 38 6/18/14 3:32 PM

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