The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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40 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW nen Beyer and Desmond Morgan abide, along with defensive lineman Frank Clark. "On that side of the ball, there is a lot more leadership that's been earned, because of what they've done and how they've ap- proached every day," Hoke noted. On offense, much of the leadership role falls to Gardner. Hoke has talked about the fact that he's still in the process of learning to meet that challenge. "How he performs through the summer, in the different senior-led workouts, the seven- on-sevens, him having an accountability to his teammates — those are important details," Hoke noted. Gardner insists he understands. He cer- tainly made strides in his play last season, dramatically cutting down his interceptions from the non-conference portion of the schedule into Big Ten play. He's also looking to take charge, Gardner insisted. Others are watching as well, after a year when leadership became somewhat of a question mark, especially when real adversity hit in November. Reacting better when setbacks strike will be crucial this season, U-M players and coaches acknowledge. It's not about one individual, but a host of seniors and the other designated leaders throughout the classes to set matters aright. Potential Icebergs Ahead The two teams that played in Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship both happen to reside in Michigan's division now, in the new 14-team conference. They both are no strangers to the Wolverines, throughout long and acrimonious rivalries. The old and more nationally respected antagonist, Ohio State, stands 2-1 against Hoke's crews, with two victories by less than a touchdown each time. The new bully on the block, Michigan State, also stands 2-1, with a more emphatic edge, including last year's 29-6 TKO in East Lansing. Via a scheduling quirk due to the expand- ing conference, MSU gets the Wolverines on its home turf for the third time in four seasons, come Oct. 25. Hoke understands both rivalries extremely well. He lived them as an assistant at Michi- gan from 1995-2002, including the year the Wolverines needed to punch out the Spartans on the road and the Buckeyes at home on the way to a national championship. He's no stranger to in-state rivalries even beyond Michigan-Michigan State, having bat- tled at Oregon State in the "Civil War" with Oregon for several years. He understandings the feelings that build up among rival football programs within a state's borders. "The excitement, the passion that Michi- gan State fans have, and that we have at Big Ten Head Coaches Often Focus On A Position Brady Hoke wasn't unique in Big Ten coaching, even when he was working hands on with the defensive line. A number of conference coaches inject their expertise at a given position group or two. Most do maintain a big-picture look at the entire operation in practice, a move Hoke is making this season. He's going to spend more time seeing, and being seen, by Michigan's offense. Iowa's Kirk Ferentz coached the offensive line at both the college and professional level, noted Tom Kakert of, and thus keeps a close eye on the big uglies. "While he doesn't micromanage the position, or really any position, it's fair to say that if there's a spot where he's going to give some advice to players, it's probably on the offensive line," Kakert said. "That's really been the case during his long tenure at Iowa, but it's probably occurring less frequently as the years have gone by." At Ohio State, Urban Meyer tends to maintain an offensive focus, according to Kevin Noon of "Meyer rose through the coaching ranks working on the offensive side of the ball, mostly quarterbacks and wide receivers, and that is always going to be where he is going to feel more comfortable working," Noon said. "He learned last year that he could not ignore the defensive side of the ball as things started to falter, but the additions of assistant coaches Chris Ash and Larry Johnson Sr. have allowed him to really turn over the defense backs to the defensive coaches, and he will continue to work with the offense. "Meyer is still very involved with the play calling along with offensive coordinator Tom Herman, so there is going to be the necessity for him to be as familiar with the personnel on offense, but Meyer really seems to be a coach who likes to let his assistants coach the day-to-day while he goes from group to group. "With Braxton Miller getting ready for his senior year, I would imagine that Meyer may spend a little more time with his quarterbacks, just falling on old habits, but it is far from a situation where you could say that Meyer has his fingerprints all over one group versus another." Likewise, Wisconsin's Gary Andersen moves around plenty, but keeps a close eye on the quar- terbacks, according to Jon McNamara of "I wouldn't say Gary Andersen focuses specifically on one group more than another, but you can sometimes spot him snapping to the quarterbacks," McNamara said. "Andersen is a former center who played at Utah, so he's familiar with the offensive line. Overall, he gives quite a bit of freedom to both coordinators and pops in on all position groups during practice." Indiana's Kevin Wilson coached tight ends his first year in Bloomington, but staff changes al- lowed him to give that up and roam around, noted Matt Weaver of, a site that covers the Hoosiers. "Ever since then he is basically an overseer during practice," Weaver said. "He is obviously very involved, and he will go from position group to position group during practice. And since his background is as an offensive coach, I would say he offers more input on that side of the ball, es- pecially at O-line and tight end, since he coached both of those spots as an assistant. He will give instruction to every position group during practice, but he is no longer responsible for a specific position like he was his first year at IU." Hoke is making a similar progression, to expand his presence and influence to the offensive side of the ball. He's not going to interfere with new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier's schemes and play calling, but he'll remain a visible presence for the ball movers. — John Borton Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz lends his expertise to the Hawkeyes' offensive line, a posi- tion group he has overseen at both the college and professional levels. PHOTO COURTESY IOWA 36-41.Brady Hoke.indd 40 6/18/14 3:33 PM

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