U of M sports guide

. August 28, 2012.
CoverFace

Back in the high life  

UofM football works to keep the momentum 

If you have tickets to the “Cowboy Classic” on Saturday, September 1, call me. Michigan plays last year’s national champion, Alabama, coached by the devilish Nick “Satan,” former Michigan State mastermind. It just may be a classic that lives up to its name.  How did Michigan go in recent years from a national embarrassment, to the season opening marquee game, fresh off last year’s 11-2 record and Sugar Bowl victory?

Two words: Brady Hoke. This former Michigan Assistant was handed the job last year after the Wolverines’ embarrassingly unsuccessful courtships of Jim Harbaugh (Stanford coach and former starting QB) and Les Miles (former assistant and LSU coach).

Never mind that Harbaugh and Miles were a little crazy. Both were wildly successful, and in this business, that’s what counts.  

Brady Hoke shows that you can be level headed and still be successful, though the word on the street is that he can be intense when he needs to be. He has turned a couple of programs around, at Ball State and San Diego State, and after the humiliatingly pathetic Rich Rodriguez era, that’s just what the doctor ordered.

Will UM be as successful as they were last year? After marquee wins over Notre Dame, Nebraska, Ohio State, and an overtime win over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl, “Hoke Springs Eternal” — as MGoBlog’s banner reads. But 2012 presents a tougher challenge, starting with the Alabama matchup followed by rematches with Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Ohio State that are all on the road. Perhaps the biggest test is Michigan’s most anticipated home game, the October 20 matchup with the Spartans, who have beaten the Wolverines four straight times, and continue to treat the annual Michigan game as their Super Bowl.

Michigan is led by Denard Robinson, RichRod’s greatest legacy and contribution to the program. Robinson is not only an electrifying and charismatic leader at quarterback, but just may be one of the best ever at representing the team off the field. He mingles with regular folks at basketball games and other campus and town events; he is unfailingly friendly and accessible.   Robinson continues to grow as he adjusts from Rodriguez’ spread offense to Hoke’s multiple pro-style formations.

“Shoelace” remains the only player in NCAA history to pass and run for more than 1500 yards each in the same season. If he can cut down on his interceptions, he can expect his senior year to be his best ever.

 Robinson’s main target at wide receiver will be senior Roy Roundtree, who needs to have a breakout season to ensure that Michigan has a breakout offense. Backup QB Devin Gardner moves to wide receiver, assuming Robinson remains healthy. The tailback slot will be filled by last year’s 1000 yard rusher (and greatest name on the team) Fitzgerald Touissant, but Touissant’s recent drunk driving arrest leaves his status for the Cowboy Classic uncertain.  The offensive line will be anchored by massive left tackle Taylor Lewan, and, on the defensive side of the ball, Will Campbell and company need also to step up to make up for the loss of Mike Martin. The secondary should be solid, led by hard-nosed former walk-on Jordan Kovacs and last year’s surprise freshman star Blake Countess (second best name on the team). Linebackers remain this teams’ strength, featuring last year’s leading tackler Kenny “Delerious” Demens.

On the whole, Michigan will be competitive in every game, but given their difficult schedule, four or five losses is not out of the realm of possibility. The crystal ball will become clearer after the season opener vs. Alabama. … Wait! I see something in the crystal ball … you have a pair of 50 yard line tickets to the Alabama game … you want to give them to me, freely and happily … you do, right?  Like most predictions, that one is a crapshoot. Michigan’s 2012 season will be an exciting one, but too many games can go either way to reliably determine where they will end up. This season rests on the shoulders of Brady Hoke, and the feet and arm of Denard Robinson. The only thing I will say for sure, is that regardless of this season’s  final record, Michigan football is back.

 


Heating up  

As Wolverine Nation breathed a sigh of relief, freshman sensation Trey Burke announced he would return for  a second season. Burke is joined by returning starters Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jordan Morgan, and a ballyhooed recruiting class including Mitch McGary, Glenn “Little Dog” Robinson III, Nick Stauskas, and Spike Albrecht. Expectations are high after last year’s Big Ten co-championship and NCAA tournament appearance.

Head Coach John Beilein continues his recruiting mastery, already reeling in 2013 commits Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton.  

Crisler Center – no longer an arena – also heralds great expecations. A year after its impressive renovation, the UM Athletic Department has boldly jacked seat prices into the stratosphere. Hope is also high for the women’s program after the hiring of new coach Kim Barnes Arico. She spent the last ten seasons with St. John’s, leading the Red Storm to four NCAA Tournament appearances. A highlight of her last season was stunning Connecticut on their home floor, to end the Huskie’s 99 game home winning streak. The Wolverines return leading scorer and shotblocker Rachel Sheffer from last year’s 20-12 team. Ticket prices remain quite reasonable for women’s games, and they would love to have your support.

See www.mgoblue.com for tickets, schedules, and all the latest.


Trending

Grove Studios Live at RAC

We’ve been posting monthly updates about Grove Studios as they work toward their ultimate goal of setting up a space for local artists. This week, though, week we’ve got to tell you about some live local music at the Riverside Arts Center in Ypsilanti. Grove Studios was spearheaded by members of the Ypsilanti art &

My Girlfriend Beru

It never fails. It happens every January. I happen upon a band… (A more melodramatic music writer would say they “discover” a band)… And I say to myself, with giddy yet confounded enthusiasm, what took me so long to find this band?  Ya know, it’s sort of in that vein of organizing, processing, and posting your

Cracks In The Walls: Singer/Songwriter May Erlewine Writes About The Women’s Marches

Yesterday, more then 3,000 people gathered at the U-M Diag in Ann Arbor for the second annual Women’s March. This weekend, just like last year, demonstrations are occurring around the world, a powerful statement of advocacy for rights and equality for women of all colors and backgrounds, for LGBTQ rights, for immigration rights, for the

Weekend Music Guide: Adventures With Vultures / Fallow Land / Liars & Thieves and more

1.) This Friday at the Blind Pig, you can find a sleek bridge between heady space-rock and intimate dream-pop, with Fallow Land (pictured above). More InfoPinscher by Fallow Land – 2.) On Saturday, Plymouth-based alt-country/Americana twanger Matt Sauter will shift your conception of traditional folk singers. Adventures With Vultures leads an excellent lineup at the Blind Pig, with Brother