My apologies to those that thought that the "Western Michigan Release" was something you get from a drunk Bronco coed at Wayside West. This is about the game notes, or "press release," which I guess could be confusing too....might be what Drew Sharp does when all the teams in the state lose at everything.
But I digress...
We start with a hard look at the "Did You Know?" section, which informs us that this, the 132nd season opener in Michigan history, is the first of five consecutive home games. We haven't started with that many at home since 1976. And 1976 was an amazing year in world history, as I was born that year. The home slate started oddly with Wisconsin, then interesting matchups with Stanford, Navy, Wake Forest, and Sparty. We outscored our opponents 234-51 in that five game span, which included a 70-14 punishing of the Midshipmen. Ricky Leach was under center that year, and adorned the cover of Sports Illustrated's college football preview issue.
Moving on to "Quick Hits," we find that Michigan has a 108-8-2 record all time in home openers, including a 15-3 record in the last 18 games. You remember all three of those losses well....very well. Donavan McNabb showing us how unprepared we were for a mobile quarterback back in 1998. 9 seasons later, Armanti Edwards showed us how unprepared we still were for a mobile quarterback on the way to the biggest upset in college football history. In 2008, we fell to Utah in RichRod's debut as Brian Johnson threw for 300+...and one of our quarterbacks was the second string kid from Pioneer High School.
A page or two down, we've got the "Tale of the Tape", and while it's pointless to compare a team that played in the MAC to a team that played in the Big Ten, it's still worthwhile to remember some of the glaringly awful stats put up by last year's Wolverines, ya know, just to keep you grounded going into Saturday. In 2010, Michigan was 4 out of 14 kicking field goals. Shut it down. Turnover margin was -10. The defense allowed 35.2 points per game on average, as well as 450.8 yards. Those are all records. Seriously, I didn't even check....those are all records.
But hey....let's look at some good news as we take "A Look Back at 2010." Michigan led the Big Ten in total offense last season, was 2nd in passing offense and 3rd in rushing offense. It set a school record with 6353 total yards, going over 500 yards in a game in 6 of 12 games...I guess we're ignoring the bowl here (342 total yards, for the record). Michigan scored 24 touchdowns on drives that elapsed 2 minutes or less, and scored 10 touchdowns on drives that took three plays or less. In 2011, we won't have a single drive that lasts less than 2 minutes. We'll turn three-and-outs into 4 minute drives...good or bad...who knows? Time of possession as a measure of anything is up for debate, mass debate if you will (say it fast). Also of note, we had 419 yards passing in the Illinois game last year...we will not have a 300 yard passing game this season.
We're on page 7 now, and I'm looking at "Wolverine Bites," a section that will no doubt have a picture of our faithful mascot whenever that debacle goes through. For now, it's adorned with the smiling face of Denard, and that makes me (and everyone) happy. I know MVictors touched on this earlier this week, but Tate Forcier is #10 all time in completions in Michigan history. That kinda blows my mind. He passed Drew Henson last year. Weird. Looking at Denard's place in Michigan history, he was on pace to break pretty much every record in the book, both rushing and passing, before this coaching change. I know he's not going to be able to carry us as much this year, and that's sad, but also maybe good? I don't know. How he is used is going to be THE topic of discussion all year. How is Denard going to handle his role? How much second guessing is going to be going on? At what point are we going to clamor for him to be cut loose?
On to page 9, and looking at win-loss details in the "2010 Michigan Record When..." section. 4-0 in September stands out. Early success hasn't turned into much lately. Octobers have really sucked in the past 3 years. Also, my biggest criticism with last year's staff was their lack of halftime adjustments. Michigan was 0-6 in games in which they trailed at the half. That's coaching...somewhat. And it's also something that needs to be addressed in the lockerroom. It's a mental challenge for a group of men that don't know what it's like to make a comeback when down at the half.
Finally, let's take a peak at "Brady Hoke's Year-by-Year Coaching Record." It should be mentioned that Hoke was a part of the only two teams in Ball State football history to go undefeated in conference...first as a player (1978) and then as coach (2008). I know you know this but seriously, Hoke led Ball State to a 12-1 record in 2008. That's kind of a big deal. He also led San Diego State to a 9-4 record, somewhat of a big deal. He accomplished both of these things in a span of 3 years. That's the good news. The bad news is that he is 47-50 all time as a coach. I don't know what that means for what he is going to do at Michigan, probably nothing. Especially since I think despite the magic that has happened with regards to the 2012 class, Brady's greatest recruitment since arriving on campus was that of his assistants.
Time to see what they can do with what they've got. 2 days.