Michigan is arguably the biggest name in college football when it comes to tradition, as they hold the record for most all-time wins, and they have the highest winning percentage in the history of the sport. But in this age of “what have you done for me lately?”, all anyone can think about is their sub-par recent history. They have gone 15-22 under Rich Rodriguez in three seasons, and have only gone to one bowl game. RichRod has also made half-baked attempts to change the reviled tradition of the program. Now however, they have one of their own in Brady Hoke leading the way, and the Wolverines have high hopes of being relevant once again in 2011.
According to NCAA football betting odds provided by BetUs, Quarterback Denard Robinson will enter the season as one of the Heisman favorites, and he would have received more votes last season if the Wolverines’ defense wasn’t so terrible (more on that later). But new offensive coordinator Al Borges is trying to take some of the pressure off Robinson with his new West Coast offense, and more importantly, they’re trying to keep Robinson on the field. Robinson was the first player in NCAA history to run and pass for more than 1,500 yards apiece, but his style led him to miss a ton of time last year as he played in every game. He had to leave at some point during 10 of them because of injury.
But the bigger worry for Michigan is a defense that was consistently porous. Calling them weak would be generous. New defensive coordinator Greg Mattison will command a lot of respect in the locker room as a result of his former job as the coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens. His work with players like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed should raise some eyebrows for the young Wolverines. He also spent four years at Michigan from 1992 to 1996, and he was a coordinator on the 2006 Florida team when they won the national title. Mattison will have his hands full with this group, but if they follow his instructions, Michigan should be trending upwards in 2011.