April 14, 2012; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke (right) on the field during the Michigan Spring game at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
This week, we turn our attention to the Michigan Wolverines, who are in the midst of a post-Rodriguez renaissance. Fresh off of an impressive 2nd place finish in the Legends Division, B1G Coach of the Year Brady Hoke will lead the resurgent Wolverines in search of their 1st B1G title since 2004 (last undisputed B1G title was in 2003).2011 Recap Last year saw Michigan re-assert itself in the B1G. Brady Hoke’s squad managed to defeat Ohio State, Notre Dame and Nebraska en route to an 11-2 record (6-2 in the conference). However, road losses to conference rivals Iowa and cross-state foe Michigan State prevented the Wolverines from challenging for the conference title and an undefeated season. Nevertheless, Michigan’s season ended in a thrilling 23-20 OT win over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. Statistically, Michigan’s bread and butter was its defense, which rose from 107th in the nation to 6th. Behind Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison, the Wolverines allowed a paltry 17.38 ppg last year. Offensively, Michigan was led by 1,000 yard rushers Denard Robinson and Fitzgerald Toussaint, while receiver Junior Hemingway led the B1G with 20.6 yards per reception.
Terry Richardson-CB-5’9’’, 160 lbs., Detroit, MI. This Detroit speedster plays much bigger than he is. Richardson, a two-way player in high school, is slated to play corner and may handle punts. What he lacks in size, he makes up for with superb ball skills, speed and positioning. Although Richardson has game-changing speed, his lack of size will hinder him from becoming a top-line corner and, therefore, he will likely spend the majority of his time at Michigan in the slot and on nickle and dime teams. Richardson lacks the size to be a full-time corner, as his size will likely prevent him from being effective in the run game, especially against the beasts who run the ball in the B1G. Nevertheless, with his speed and playmaking ability, Richardson will win some games for the Wolverines in the future.
Royce Jenkins-Stone-OLB-6’2’’, 215 lbs., Detroit, MI. Jenkins-Stone is an animal. This young man spends an inordinate amount of time in the other team’s backfield, usually causing disruption. He has the speed and size to be an effective linebacker in both coverage and against the run. However, if Jenkins-Stone has a weakness, it’s that he can be undisciplined at times. He has a tendency to over-pursue on misdirection plays, which will cost him dearly at the next level. For Jenkins-Stone to become an elite linebacker, he will have to show more discipline and recognition, instead of relying on his athletic ability to compensate. To do this, Jenkins-Stone will have to do his work in the film room to maximize his potential and become an elite linebacker in the B1G.
Kyle Kalis-OG-6’5’’, 305 lbs., Lakewood, OH. Kalis is a mountain of a young man who has a demeanor similar to that of a former Michigan Wolverine Offensive Lineman: Former Philadelphia Eagle and current New Jersey Congressman Jon Runyan. Kalis is especially good in the run game and has the athleticism to be a pulling guard on sweeps and bootlegs. Often playing through the whistle, Kalis has the strength to drive defenders into the ground, opening huge holes for the runner to go through. While an accomplished run blocker, Kalis does need to work on his pass block technique. Specifically, he has to use his hands better to keep the better interior pass rushers at bay. However, Kalis has the raw skills, and nasty disposition, to be a special lineman for Michigan.
Overall analysis: After a forgettable hiatus under Rich Rodriguez, Michigan football is back. With the strongest recruiting class in years, Brady Hoke’s 2012 recruiting class is all about adding quality depth, especially on the defensive side of the football. In fact, of the 10 four star (ESPN) players joining the Wolverines in 2012, 8 are on defense. It is clear that Brady Hoke anticipates having to shut down the high powered offenses that are sure to be fielded by Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes and, dare we say, Bill O’Brien’s Penn State squad. Overall grade: B.
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