Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Important Year For Rich Rodriguez?

The Beginning of an Era

As many of you know by now this year is supposed to be the turn around year for the Michigan Wolverine football program. Rich Rodriguez has had two years to bring his players into the system and get his offense/defense style into effect. The past two years have been dismal but showed improvement from year one to year two. Quarterback Tate Forcier is erratic but shows signs of greatness. We have a strong D-line and an amazing receiving core. All improvements aside, this is the Hot Seat year for Rich Rodriguez. Most of the players in Ann Arbor are his players so this year we will see how good his system is working.

Recruiting

Last years recruits for Rodriguez had many good players come into the system. Tate Forcier no doubt the most helpful as he showed he can lead this team and with effort, could become the Michigan Savior we all want. Although he was very erratic he threw for over 2,000 yards with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. With a 58% completion rate, maybe he will be able to get that TD-INT ratio a little bit better.

Denard Robinson was another good recruit Rich brought into the system last year. He was not a very good QB. He had only 2 touchdowns with 4 interceptions but did not get anywhere near the playing time Forcier did. While Robinson may not be much of a starting QB, he definitely poses a threat whenever Michigan decides to run the Wildcat formation (even if it is only a couple plays all year long), Gardner has exceptional speed and is very agile.

Vincent Smith promises to be a good running back. He was second on the team with 5.8 yards per carry behind senior Carlos Brown with 5.9.

This years recruits are not amazing (with the turndown of Demar Dorsey) but some are attracting a lot of hype, such as Devin Gardner. The ESPNU top 150 recruit and Under Armour All American is predicted 3rd string but many think if Tate and Robinson falter, he could be moved up in the depth chart.

Defense?

Rich Rodriguez will need to improve Michigan's defense if he wants to have a better year than last years 5-7 season. Michigan ranked 91st in rushing defense last year, 67th in passing defense, 77th in scoring defense and 82nd overall. This will have to be improved if Rich wants to get to a bowl game this year.

Although we lost Brandon Graham, who had more sacks than the rest of the line last year, this year our D-line is looking to be a strong one (although not as strong as last years) with the rest of the D-line returning.

With Donovan Warren and Boubacar Cissoko gone, J.T. Floyd and Troy Woolfolk will need to step it up this year to make our secondary not as horrendous as last years.

Wins

Rich Rodriguez will need to win at least 7 games this year if not more if he wants to coach the Wolverines much longer. While i doubt Michigan will fire him if he goes 5-7 again it will definitely be discussed at the end of the season if Rodriguez cannot turn things around in Ann Arbor. Michigan has a very easy non-conference schedule with the exception of Notre Dame this year. Starting the season off with Connecticut, Notre Dame, Massachusetts, and Bowling Green respectively. The Maize and Blue faithful will be expecting 3-1 at the VERY, and i stress very, least. After that we begin the always tough conference schedule with Indiana, although not strong they did compete with us last year. Then we have Michigan State at home, Iowa, and Penn State in Happy Valley. We than have easier games, although not definite wins with Illinois and Purdue. We then finish off the season with Wisconsin and a trip to the Horseshoe to battle Ohio State. Rodriguez will need to beat Ohio State if he wants total job security at the end of the year.

This is going to be a crucial year for Rodriguez. He will need to impress the fans more this year than ever. He will have very little excuses this year unless we have injury trouble.

My Prediction

This is looking to be an exciting year for the Wolverines. We have many good prospects coming in to go along with old ones still trying to prove they have what it takes. I personally think the Wolverines will go 8-4 this year, challenging Ohio State to the last minute, earning a bid to the Alamo Bowl or the Champs Sports Bowl and winning it. Anything less and i will be very shocked. I think Tate will develop into a better than average QB this year with very few erratic moments. I also think our secondary along with our D-line will step up to make our defense in the top 50. This will be a very important year for Rich Rodriguez and Michigan Football.

-Hunter Stephens

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