Entering his third season, there are certain things that Michigan fans know about Brady Hoke.
He has shown that he can handle quick change situations. When Michigan decided to part ways with Rich Rodriguez, who came in as an offensive genius but couldn’t put together a defense to stop anyone, Wolverine fans had their maize and blue set on other high profile candidates. Les Miles, who had previously flirted with the Wolverine coaching job, was the popular choice followed closely by prodigal son and former Wolverine Quarterback Jim Harbaugh.
But Brady Hoke snagged the job, winning over the Wolverine faithful with talk of Michigan tradition and stoking the rivalry with “...that school in Ohio.” He built a staff anchored by defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who led the Wolverines to a 10-2 record on the way to a BCS Sugar Bowl 23-20 OT victory over Virginia Tech.
He has shown his teams can overcome adversity. Entering his second season with his team short on play makers on the offensive side of the ball, Quarterback Devin Gardner was converted to wide receiver leaving the Wolverines dependent on Quarterback Denard Robinson staying healthy.
Which was great on paper until Robinson injured his arm against Nebraska.
His backup faltered and Devin Gardner was rushed back to QB the next week. Gardner led the Wolverines to three straight victories salvaging a season that teetered on the brink of disaster.
Brady Hoke has shown that he can take the players recruited by other coaches for different systems and have success in the Big Ten.
This itself is no small feat. Just ask Rich Rodriguez.
Heading into this third season Hoke now has the opportunity to show what his brand of Michigan football is all about. Talk out of fall camp is that the Wolverines will unveil a power football offensive philosophy based on “running downhill” and taking the game to the defense.
But the Wolverines are still thin at key positions on offense. Once again they enter the season with no experienced backup at QB and a dearth of experience at wide receiver. The offensive line boasts future NFL potential first round draft pick Taylor Lewan locked in at left tackle joining three new starters at other positions. Questions continue at running back with senior Fitzgerald Toussaint returning from a broken leg and top recruit Derrick Green not even on the depth chart due to an injury during fall practice.
With waves of top recruits on the way to Ann Arbor and a roster stocked with young but inexperienced talent all rational signs point to the Wolverines peaking next season.
But expectations in Ann Arbor are high.
The Wolverines haven’t won a Big Ten Championship since 2004, and nobody is more aware of that than Brady Hoke.
In sight of Michigan Stadium the Wolverine football complex is undergoing a massive renovation that will include a statue of legendary coach Bo Schembechler.
If Hoke leads the Wolverines to, once again, compete for the Big Ten Championship with a bruising, run-first offense he’ll be well on his way to getting a statue himself.