As promised yesterday, here's the Q&A between me and Beauford from SBNation's Michigan blog, Maize n Brew. Let's jump right into the questions:
1. How would you rate the job Hoke has done so far? Did you like the hire at the time or did he need to win you over?
The hire certainly lacked a certain flair. At the time, I thought - and still think to a certain extent - that Hoke's resume was underwhelming. However, he has handled himself very well, in my opinion, since taking the job. He has certainly made more of a splash on the recruiting trail than Rodriguez ever did. I think a large part of his success, and this is no small feat, involves his ability to say the right things to the right people. He does seem to "get" Michigan in a more visceral way than Rodriguez ever did. I do not believe that "getting" Michigan has anything to do with on-the-field performance, but as far as public perception and the general pallor of the program, it's done wonders.
2. Denard Robinson is no longer running the spread n’ shred, but is instead attempting to pick up the West Coast Offense. How did Denard do in his first live game in the new offense? What do you expect from him going forward?
I thought Denard did well. He made a couple of throws that made me cringe, but also made some throws that I thought were NFL quality. He is always going to be dangerous with his legs, and I think he needs to improve his "countdown to takeoff" clock. He's been drilled to stand in the pocket, but as Offense Coordinator Al Borges says, sometimes his best checkdown is his legs. He needs to learn when to use them. Going forward, I think he's going to be a solid quarterback in a much more sustainable offensive attack. This doesn't mean that I don't miss him running the Rodriguez spread. I honestly thought the offense this last game was (gasp) a little boring. I will not think it's boring when/if we're able to beat a .500 team with regularity.
3. You're defense is no longer being GERG’d and is finally in capable hands. How would you grade the defense’s performance on Saturday?
This coaching staff is legit. Mattison is as advertised. He made some great on-the-fly adjustments, he set up various rush packages that got a free rusher multiple times, and - for the first time since OLD Carr - a Michigan defense actually got in the heads of an opponent. WMU kept jumping offsides, their QB was yelling at his protection on the sideline, etc. It made me smile. The problem is that the "Jimmies and Joes" are still pretty sub-par, compared to elite defenses. I no longer have issue with scheme, I'm more concerned that the ceiling for this unit athletically is pretty established as "middle of the pack." I hope they prove me wrong.
4. I am stoked for the night game. That’s not a question and I don’t care. Discuss.
I'm a mixed bag on this one. I am very excited for the emotion of a night game, etc. I think it's awesome. I think UM vs. ND should be a night game every time. I do not want what I'm about to (selfishly) say make it sound like I'm not stoked as well. That said, I do not like waiting around all Saturday for the game.
5. Your last question is multiple choice. How badly will the Irish beat the Wolverines?
b. Really really badly
c. So badly Michigan disbands its football team and burns the Big House to the ground
No, but seriously, who ya got?
This is probably going to surprise you - I think Notre Dame wins by 3 points or so in a rather low-scoring game. This was my prediction before the season started. I think ND has a defense that Michigan will struggle with; we were able to start pushing around WMU a little towards the end of our game, and it's not going to happen like that against ND. There are a few caveats to this prediction. Michigan wins (and maybe big) if the following happens:
1) Denard starts killing you on the ground
2) ND has not resolved their QB issues and Tommy starts getting the yips.
Thanks again to Beauford and Maize n Brew! If you want to read my answers to his questions, check it out here.