Posted by Tom Fornelli
On Saturday, around 25,000 Michigan fans were able to get their first glimpse of what life will be like under new head coach Brady Hoke. Michigan, like a lot of other schools across the country, concluded its spring practice with a scrimmage on Satuday afternoon. While trying to take away too much from one single scrimmage in the spring and using it to determine how the upcoming season will go is foolish, that doesn't change the fact that what Michigan fans saw on Saturday wasnt' much different than what they saw the last few years.
The Wolverines offense had its struggles as it tries to adjust from Rich Rodriguez's spread system to Hoke's more pro-style offense, though the Wolverines defense was kind enough to forfeit some big plays for it anyway. While it will be hard for Michigan's defense to be any worse in 2011 than it was in 2010, Saturday did prove to remind people that better doesn't always mean good.
So it didn't come as much of a surprise after the game that Hoke said his team has a long way to go.
“I don’t think we’re where we need to be, by far, at any position,” Hoke said after the scrimmage.
Any position? But what about at quarterback, the position that introduced Denard Robinson to the masses last season? Well, much like everybody else on Michigan, Robinson is still getting acquainted with a new offense that features a lot less of "Run, Denard! Run!" and a lot more read progressions. Robinson wasn't very electric on Saturday, but a lot of that had to do with the two-hand touch nature of the game when it came to Robinson, and the rust of the offseason. Though Denard did get Denarded on the very first play of the scrimmage, busting out a 55-yard run. Other than that play, however, Robinson missed on a lot of passes and admitted afterward that he's still "trying to get a grip on that offense."
While Saturday's game may not have Michigan fans excited about the possibilities of 2011, they shouldn't read much into it either. It's not as though Hoke can come in and totally overhaul and fix everything that Rodriguez had implemented in a matter of months. These things will take some time, and while some lumps will be given, Hoke's track record elsewhere leads you to believe there will be improvement in Ann Arbor.
The only real question is will the improvement be enough, and will it happen quick enough that Hoke doesn't suffer the same fate as the coach he's replacing.