Sure, it was a home game, and sure it was versus Western Michigan, but the Michigan Wolverines made a big time statement week one against the Broncos. It was Brady Hoke’s first game at the helm, and the Wolverines showed something that it hadn’t shown in years, life. Prior to the season, Hoke and his coaching staff said that because their philosophy on offense may be different than what their personnel flourishes doing, they would devise plans to benefit their players. One worry Michigan fans had was whether Hoke would renege on this statement, just like Rich Rod did in 2008 when he ran an immobile quarterback, Steven Threet, rampant after he suggested he would tweak his game plan. Well, Hoke didn’t renege, and the team looked rock solid.
Last season Denard Robinson ran about 46% of the time he touched the ball. This game Robinson ran nearly 40% he touched the ball. In a west coast offense, quarterbacks stand in the pocket, run through their progressions, and pass to the first open receiver. QB draws aren’t the norm, but Hoke adjusted. Seeing Denard Robinson struggle in the spring game while he passed exclusively, Hoke determined that he must entrust Robinson’s legs and arm, as opposed to just his arm. Keeping the defense honest, allowed Robinson to pick apart the defense with his arm when he decided to (9-13, 98 yards). The Wolverines also doubled the Broncos’ rushing attack (190 to 96).
Sophomore Fitzgerald Toussaint led the attack with 80 yards and two touchdowns. He ran with purpose all day long (or I guess ¾ of the day long because the game was called before the 3rd quarter was finished). Michael Shaw provided some change of pace prowess as well, as he bolted for a 44 yard touchdown run. A lot of the credit needs to go to the nameless, rather the offensive line. Last year’s best offensive linemen, Steven Schilling, has moved onto the NFL, but this group played with a mean streak anyway. Each play the Michigan o-line got the first punch, and the Broncos’ d-line cowered. It was a very impressive outing for a unit that wasn’t necessarily supposed to be the calling card of this team.
Next I will share with you my takeaways from the Michigan defense.