The Wolverine

February 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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24 THE WOLVERINE FEBRUARY 2017 we are.' You have Andrew Luck. If you're going to be a power run team, that's like having a Corvette and driv- ing it 10 miles an hour. "They were very stubborn in that regard. There were some games when they ran the ball very well, that sort of made you think this is who they want to be. But they couldn't do that consistently. "It was like banging your head against the wall. It was never going to change. After a while, they just said, 'All right, we've got Andrew Luck — let him loose.' There were mistakes, but overall, he was fantastic." Luck remains, to this day, a big fan of Hamilton, Keefer stressed. Their shared time at Stanford began the strong relationship, cemented by them reuniting with the Colts. The Colts' 2015 season fell apart, in part because of Luck's early-season injury, and Hamilton was let go during that year — a move Luck lamented. "He absolutely has this great rapport with his quarterbacks, and Andrew Luck is at the top of that list," Keefer said. "I know how much it hurt Luck when Pep left. Andrew told me person- ally, 'I feel responsible for that.' It really, really bothered him how that season went. They're exceptionally close." Luck wasn't Hamilton's only fan in Indianapolis, by any means. "He's a good guy," Keefer explained. "I know the players absolutely loved playing for him in Indianapolis, and you don't see them saying that about every coach. I definitely got the sense they really enjoyed playing for Pep Hamilton here." Tight end Coby Fleener is another Cardinal who benefited from Hami- ton's coaching, both at the college and pro level. Fleener caught 34 passes for 667 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior at Stanford in 2011, all career highs. He then played four years for the Colts before signing a free-agent deal with the Saints. "He gave Pep a ton of credit for his transformation from basically a scrub at Stanford to just signing a $46-million deal last year," Keefer offered. Hilton also appreciated Hamilton's offensive philosophy. "T.Y. liked the deep ball," Keefer said. "That really sparked T.Y. Hilton's career. He's one of the best deep threats in the league, and when the Colts could give Andrew Luck time, that's what Pep was dialing up. He always liked to keep the defense on its heels." That should come as welcome news to Michigan redshirt sophomore quar- terback Wilton Speight. Speight is a big fan of airing it out deep, an aspect of his game impacted late in the year by his shoulder injury and also the pass rushes of Ohio State and Florida State. Keefer noted there are plenty of ele- ments to Hamilton's preferred offen- sive approach. Those will, of course, need to blend in with the ideas of Har- baugh, Drevno and anyone else deliv- ering input into Michigan's offense. "The way to describe his offense in layman's term is, you have to be ready to do everything, and you have to be ready for every sort of situation," Keefer said. "They like the balance, and they like the unpredictability. Sometimes that got them into trouble, Hamilton has eight years of coaching experience at the college level and more than 10 in the NFL, including a successful three-year stint as the offensive coordinator for star quarterback Andrew Luck in Indianapolis. PHOTO COURTESY INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

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