You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, May 21, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Brady Hoke trying to solve Michigan football team's road woes

By Kyle Meinke


Michigan coach Brady Hoke stands on the sidelines during a 26-14 loss at Iowa last season. The Wolverines' other 2011 loss, against Michigan State, also came on the road.

Melanie Maxwell I

So what does Michigan football coach Brady Hoke do with his time, now that he's precluded from working out with players and has entered a dark period for in-person recruiting?

He sits down, looks at his notes and reflects on what worked last year -- and what didn't.

One thing he wishes to do differently this fall camp is better prepare his team for the road, after it struggled away from Ann Arbor last season.

"You start with a big template of what you did a year ago," Hoke said Sunday morning before a fundraiser for the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the university's golf course. "Then, there's always changes during the course of that year.

"You go back, you write everything down, you look at and see, 'Did it help you win, or did it help develop your team, or it didn't?' We're always looking for new ideas."

The Wolverines went 11-2, including wins against Ohio State and in the Sugar Bowl against Virginia Tech -- a successful season by most measures.

But Hoke laments not winning the Big Ten title, and and his team's road performance.

The two are not mutually exclusive, either.

The Wolverines' first loss of the season came at Michigan State, where players said they were "out-toughed" by the Spartans. Two games later, they fell at Iowa.

Michigan went on to finish one game behind the Spartans in the division. The road, then, was the difference in the league race.

"We lost two road games," Hoke said. "So, is there anything different you can do through the course of fall camp, that when it becomes time to go play, maybe we play a little better on the road?"


Four of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson's worst games last year were while he was wearing a road white jersey.

Melanie Maxwell |

The Wolverines finished 3-2 away from home last year, but struggled even in victory.

They faced a double-digit deficit at Northwestern, before staging a second-half comeback. In the Sugar Bowl, they lost nearly every significant statistic to Virgina Tech, including managing only 184 yards of offense.

The only real exception to the road woes was the Illinois game, when Michigan rolled to a 31-14 victory. And even in that one, the offense ebbed.

In fact, four of quarterback Denard Robinson's worst games last year were against Michigan State, Iowa, Illinois and Virginia Tech -- each of which were played away from the Big House.

He finished 58-of-118 passing (49.2 percent) for seven touchdowns and seven interceptions away from Ann Arbor last year.

The net effect, for a team that relies so much on Robinson's play: Michigan averaged 38.4 points per game at home last year, and 25.2 on the road.

That is concerning, especially considering the Wolverines' road slate stiffens considerably next year. They play six games away from Ann Arbor, including high-profile matchups against Alabama (in Dallas), Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State.

"I don't know if you can pinpoint anything (that went wrong)," Hoke said. "You're focused on Sept. 1, obviously, because of playing in that arena and on that stage. But at the same time, you're looking at what you can do to get your players in the mind-set so they don't have the distractions and those things."

The consolation to Michigan's road struggles last year was it always had an answer the following week. It hammered Purdue and handled Illinois after the two losses.

Hoke was vague on the specifics of what he would like to change in next year's road prep template, only noting he will lean heavily on the senior class for leadership.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Tue, May 22, 2012 : 4:06 a.m.

Here is my prediction... And it may be as well taken as what will happen due to my uncanny ability to understand and see things that the avereage man cannot. So, this is my gift to my fellow readers who although they might not like to admit it, hang on my every word. The offennse will ahve problems against Alaabama.. We will lose 24 to 6 The next loss will come at ND and from there on out remainder of the games will be won. The game at Ohio St however will unfortunately be lost because at that time big ten coach of the year Urban Myer will have his team firing on all cylinders. Michigan will play in the Big Ten Championship game and win it against Illinois because OSU will not be allowed to play in it. They will win this game and go to the Rose Bowl were they will unfortunately lose to Ty Isac's future school . That being USC. And I am afraid it won't be pretty I foresee a 54 to 17 defeat and the soon after resignation of one Al Borges. A 11 and 3 season is not bad especially when the 3 losses come from teams that we realistically never have a good chance to beat. Being a Michigan Man means that I have intergrity and unfortunately being honest about what my ability allows myself to face.

Larry Weisenthal

Fri, May 25, 2012 : 8:09 a.m.

These football comments have merit, but the political comments which follow aren't funny -- not only are they off topic, but they are undisguised hate speech. Save this drivel for The American Spectator, Breitbart, or somewhere else that sophomoric pseudo sarcasm of this political genre is revered. Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach, CA


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:57 a.m.

Lost it ? Far from it my fellow Wolverines. I am the prophet of the mighty Michigan fanbase and it is my duty to spread the word of our new god. Be ing our first gay president is something a Michigan man takes great pride in. Homosexuality is nothing to be ashamed of anymore as our new lord has recently implied.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 11:05 a.m.

Naw, ted hasn't, "finally lost it", ted is just venting because ted see's how good Mich. is becoming now and the foreseeable future.


Wed, May 23, 2012 : 4:13 a.m.

Uuuuuuuuh ooooooooooh. Someone's finally lost it.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 9:23 p.m.

ted, put your toys away and go to your room wait, you say your already in your room, Then Go To Bed.

Blue Marker

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

Someone dial 911....quickly!


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 4:40 a.m.

He will command you as he has me . And I am certain you will do as told !!!


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 4:37 a.m.

Some of you may ask why this is relavant. Do you pray for Our Michigan team to win ? I do !! And to tell you the truth every game I lit the candles around my picture of our dear leader we won ! I now longer think of it as just a coincidence and am now part of the growing public that when I really hope for my fortune to be one of importance I ask that he may bless me with the light olf light that eminates from his creation. Dare I say.. Barack bless you ! Submit to him !


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 4:16 a.m.

I also see during this upcoming football year as the presidential election won by what we will now have to come to terms with is not just a man but quite possibly a blessing bestowed upon us by the great forces of the universe in one Barack Obama. AS a nation it will be accepted by all that the idea of electing a "president" is something of a foolish notion when we have our savior among us . I for one will demand they we shall all bow at the feet of our now permanent dear leader. I defy anyone to resist as I for one will swear allegence to this gift from God.


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 9:26 p.m.

I think coach milked that team for all it was worth or at least most of what it was worth. Mich. state whipped our butts and Iowa has a way of sneaking up on folks. I think state will be in our sites especially with that big mouth coach of theirs. I don't think Iowa will be taken as lightly anymore. I believe proper talent is coming to the rescue.


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 10:08 p.m.

I agree that the coaches got everything out of that team last year. Some people are still upset at the two losses, but the fact that there were ONLY two losses after the disaster of the previous three seasons is outstanding. Being in a position to complain about a play or two separating UM from an undefeated season is a very nice position to be in and the coaches, as well as the players who bought in 100%, are wholly responsible for such an outstanding turnaround season.


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 8:59 p.m.

You're right DonAZ..." don't make mistakes ". The offense should be more settled this year than last, AB was doing a lot of experimenting ( pro-style, spread, hybrid, find a back, contain DR, and etc. ) which led to an offense out of sync, which led to mistakes. To cut down the mistakes on the road, ya gotta know who you are offensively.

Mike D

Mon, May 21, 2012 : 6:12 p.m.

In my opinion the road games suffered from poor execution on offense. It appeared on several occasions that we had negative offensive plays on 1st or 2nd down which stagnated the offense. Need to ensure that we get positive gains on 1st and 2nd downs.


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 3:06 p.m.

I agree Don. And I would add, don't make crucial mistakes early in games. Not that you want to make them late either. But it seems to me that the biggest challenge of a road game is early nerves. They never seemed to get off to a good start last year on the road. And the obvious trouble with that is the challenge that comes with playing from behind while an opposing crowd is all riled up. Get off to good starts on the road next year and build early confidence. That's the key in my humble opinion.


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 2:12 p.m.

The key is to find the proper alternate throw-back jersey for road games. I'm joking. Solution can be summed up in three words: "Don't make mistakes."


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

No doubt that there must be a better team effort when playing on the road. The coaching staff making better adjustments is only one aspect. We all remember the 4th and 1 call at MSU last fall as well as the repeated passing attempts at Iowa near the end of that game. The key to be successful and win on the road will lie on the shoulders of Denard. He needs to be sharp, and execute his plays. The recieving corps needs to be sharper because there were too many dropped balls, even when Denard threw decent passes. With 6 road games this season, it is imparitive that we see a more confident Michigan football team that can execute plays as well as playing at home.