The Wolverine

May 2012

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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INSIDE MICHIGAN ATHLETICS Sitting Down With Big Ten Network Analyst Gerry DiNardo The Big Ten Network has been mak- ing the rounds during spring practices, seeing all 12 Big Ten teams in action. Analyst Gerry DiNardo spoke with The Wolverine about Michigan's improve- ments and the race to the confernce championship. so I like to get a general feel for all 12 teams in the spring, just an overview of them. The day we were there, they had a great practice. They worked after practice, and they scrimmaged for the second half. I thought they got a lot of work done, for it being just the fifth day of spring practice. Denard [Robinson] continues to be a special player, too. "It doesn't look like a lot has changed, the things you were looking for when you came to Ann Arbor? DiNardo: "We will go back in August, The Wolverine: What were some of how is he looking? Has he improved in his second year under offensive coordi- nator Al Borges? DiNardo: "In general, even when I The Wolverine: Speaking of Denard, " schematically. They looked like a well- coached, well-drilled, athletic team that will compete for the Legends Division. That's what I took away from it. was coaching, I don't think you really know about progress of quarterbacks until the fall, because no one is going to tackle Denard during the spring. He knows he can't be sacked, so he's go- ing to hold onto the ball longer in the spring. He won't tuck and run as quickly in the spring. "It's the same with a guy like Taylor Martinez of Nebraska. A lot of the ques- tions center around him improving, and he did look like a better passer and with his footwork, but you want to see them in the fall. Brady Hoke did a terrific job in his first year. What are some of the challenges he'll face in his second? DiNardo: "The second year is always The Wolverine: Michigan head coach " DiNardo said he thinks Michigan, Nebraska and Michigan State will be the teams to beat in the Legends Division not just this year, but for the foreseeable future. the credit in the world for building that momentum. He continues to do the same thing in recruiting. However, al- though everyone has bought in, some of the players might now seem that they might not fit the offense. It could be harder to bring everything along in the second year. "Plus, they open with Alabama and more difficult than the first, especially when you have success the first year. Everyone buys in the first year. It was a perfect storm in Brady's favor, from pounding on the podium and saying Ohio State was the most important game to winning quickly, everything was lined up. "He did a great job, and deserves all 12 THE WOLVERINE MAY 2012 Air Force. That is a very hard one-two punch. They might not win as much as last year. Second years have different problems than first years. Michigan can contend for the Legends Division. Who else do you see in that race? DiNardo: "I've seen Nebraska and The Wolverine: You mentioned that " Michigan, and I think they'll contend. Michigan State will be in the hunt, too. be those three teams every year. This is one of the things that divisional play has brought to the Big Ten. You're go- ing to see Mark Dantonio continue to have success at Michigan State. I think Bo Pelini and Nebraska will respond to what they saw in the first year. You'll have at least three teams competing for the Legends every year. "Those three teams will do it again "In the foreseeable future, I think it will this year. It wouldn't surprise me if it came down to the last week of the sea- son, and it also wouldn't surprise me if the winner of the Legends Division had two conference losses. "This is an entirely different Big Ten than we've seen in the past. It's an in- teresting and exciting time. — Andy Reid " PHOTO COURTESY BIG TEN NETWORK

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