Michigan Football: Brady Hoke Bets the Farm on Current Staff

Phil Callihan@umgoblogContributor IJanuary 2, 2014

TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 28:  Head coach Brady Hoke of the Michigan Wolverines watches from the sidelines during the first quarter of the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against the Kansas State Wildcats at Sun Devil Stadium on December 28, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Brady Hoke is a man of his word. In the wake of a disappointing regular season followed by a 31-14 loss to Kansas State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, there have been no announced changes to his coaching staff.

Last month, Hoke told reporters that he didn’t expect any staff changes headed into next season.

Hoke seems determined to bet next season—and possibly his future as Michigan head coach—on his current staff that won 11 games in his first season (11-2) but only 15 in the two seasons since (15-11). Worse still, Michigan finished this campaign losing six out of its last eight games.

The team’s skid began with a confounding four-overtime loss to Penn State and hit bottom during a 29-6 loss to in-state rival Michigan State. Michigan competed well during the losing streak until falling in a listless performance in its bowl game versus Kansas State when starting quarterback Devin Gardner was unavailable because of a foot injury.

Michigan’s coaching staff has taken criticism for the team’s lack of progress in key areas.

Offensive Coordinator Al Borges

Devin Gardner as quarterback coach.
Devin Gardner as quarterback coach.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Borges has taken the brunt of the criticism for his play-calling and management of quarterback Devin Gardner.

Borges is both offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach while calling plays from the press box. It seems that Gardner would benefit from having a separate quarterbacks coach—someone to provide input to Borges’ play-calling and counsel on the field between offensive drives.

Borges’ play-calling has run the gamut from brilliant (Ohio State, Notre Dame) to the incomprehensible (Penn State, Northwestern, Kansas State).

He answers critics by blaming player execution, which sounds to many like refusing to take responsibility.

Even Borges has admitted that he can’t remember a four-game stretch during his career when his offense “has sputtered so bad[ly].”

Michigan offense can pile up points and yards—against weaker opponents. The surge against Ohio State is more exasperating than comforting. The Al Borges show is getting old.

Grade: D

Evaluation: Hire a quarterbacks coach ASAP.

Offensive Line Coach Darrell Funk

Darrell Funk
Darrell FunkUMGoBlue.COM/Phil Callihan

Michigan rotated nine players though the five offensive line positions this season. Injuries and poor performance caused the offensive line to be shuffled for practically every game.

Funk has been criticized for the lack of development, but more than any other group, the offensive line needs time to jell as a group. Poor performance and injures prevented that from happening all season long. Coupled with the wear and tear of a long season, this was a problem with no solution—only experience and more offseason weight training can fix this.

With tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield graduating, Michigan loses its two most consistent linemen from this season.

Grade: D

Evaluation: Hope that offseason weight training for the returning offensive linemen coupled with experience gained this year will bear fruit next season—if not, watch out.

Running Backs Coach Fred Jackson

Imagine De'Veon Smith with blocking.
Imagine De'Veon Smith with blocking.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The offensive play-calling was atrocious and the blocking from the offensive line nonexistent, but was Fitzgerald Toussaint the best choice at running back? The late-season surges of Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith make people wonder.

Grade: C

Evaluation: Michigan should have a stable of running backs next season. No excuses for not running the ball.

Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison

IOWA CITY, IA - NOVEMBER 5: Michigan Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke watches the defensive call by coordinator Greg Mattison during the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 24-16. (Photo by Jo
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Maybe the most troubling aspect of Michigan’s collapse was the inability of the defense to stop teams at critical stages during the season.

Mattison, who worked magic his first season, seemingly lost his touch this year. Indiana, Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan State shredded the Michigan defense. The defensive line wasn’t able to bring pressure on opposing passers, and opponents could run the ball throughout the heart of Michigan defense.

Grade: D

Evaluation: Mattison needs to focus on improving the defensive line play—on this everything depends.


Hoke is staying loyal to his coaches. If Michigan bounces back next season to compete for the Big Ten championship, his decisions will be hailed.

But, if Michigan has another epic collapse, Hoke will bear the blame for not making changes. They might all be looking for new jobs.

Phil Callihan is a featured writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations in this article were obtained via press conferences or in person.


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