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 Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 6:23 p.m.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke ready to start fall camp and find a featured running back

By Kyle Meinke

CHICAGO — New Michigan football coach Brady Hoke is just like a lot of people.

Fall camp can’t get here soon enough for him.

Hoke’s brief tenure with the Wolverines has been marked by near-universal praise within the Michigan community, as well as a torrid run on the recruiting trail that has net him a projected top-five class before he’s coached a down of football in Ann Arbor.

But, boy, is he ready to coach a down of football in Ann Arbor.

“It’s my funnest time of year because I don’t have to see all of you (journalists), I get to see my 105 guys,” Hoke said Thursday during his address to reporters at the Big Ten media days in Chicago. “We’re a long way from where we need to be right now.

BIG TEN MEDIA DAYS’s Kyle Meinke is covering the Big Ten media days in Chicago. See a compilation of his stories below and follow him on Twitter @kmeinke.

“When you’re new to a staff, like our players are, how you go though fall camp and the attitude every day and the toughness you have to have, and discipline and accountability, will say a lot about how we end up.”

Fall camp opens Aug. 8.

For Hoke, whose team is implementing new offensive and defensive schemes, camp will begin to answer some of the questions that are percolating around his team.

One of them is how much will dual-threat junior quarterback Denard Robinson be allowed to work from the shot-gun formation in the new pro-style sets of offensive coordinator Al Borges?

“That all depends on how we do in these next six weeks,” Hoke said.

Robinson ran for 1,702 yards last year, an NCAA record for a quarterback. He also was 182-for-291 passing for 2,570 yards and 18 touchdowns and was named the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year.

Now he’s learning the pro-style offense, and a whole new set of mechanics, which could impede hopes of bettering his sixth-place finish in last year's Heisman Trophy voting.

But so far, Hoke likes what he sees.

“(Robinson) ran the same offense in high school, which is a plus,” Hoke said of the junior from Deerfield Beach, Fla. “One of the big differences is the mechanics of taking the snap from center the footwork, the run game, the foot patterns, the play-action game.


Michigan coach Brady Hoke is looking for a running back who can carry the ball 20 times per game. Sophomore Stephen Hopkins, above, should be a candidate. file photo

“He was ahead of the curve a little bit (in the spring). I think Al Borges has done a tremendous job with him.”

With Robinson getting fewer carries, Hoke hopes to employ a featured back, which former coach Rich Rodriguez did not use in his spread-option attack.

The running game is expected to be more of a power look, with bigger lineman, one or two tight-end sets and an I-formation.

Hoke said he’s looking for a back who will be durable enough to carry the ball 20 times per game.

That guy would seem to be either sophomore Stephen Hopkins or senior Michael Shaw, because of their size. True freshman Thomas Rawls could also vie for the spot.

When will Michigan have its first true featured back since 2007?

“I think in the first two or three weeks of fall, I’m hoping we’ll have found him,” Hoke said.

While the offense will remain an unknown until it takes the field for its opener Sept. 3 against Western Michigan, Hoke said it already has had one immediate payoff.

"There are two sides of the ball in the game of football," Hoke said. "I'm a defensive coach. When your defense plays against a pro-style offense all spring long, and they play against a pro-style offense all fall camp, it builds toughness and an edge.

"(The Big Ten) is a physical football league — physical offenses and people who run the football. We think we can play better defense by the fact of how we do things on the offensive side of the ball, because they feed off each other."

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


Chad Williams

Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 2:23 p.m.

ok you guys are right. seeing as you guys have one a shared Nc in 70 years your way of football seems to be the way.

Terry Star21

Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 4:36 p.m.

Isn't it great how some fans go out of their way to make fun of a team they have an overall losing record against ? Yes, there is a panic in south bend, east lansing, and columbus and all twelve of Michigan's opponents this year - with losing records vs M......I expect this to continue !


Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

Chad: It would be nice to have more than one NC in 60 years (you forget about 1948), but one team can win it all and yet you can still have successful seasons w/o the #1 trophy. There is success by winning against your rivals, winning your conference, winning with integrity, learning and growing, etc. But why am I wasting my time? It seems that all is that transparent to you. Reason Michigan fans love Bo so much is that despite his lack of success in bowls, he was a winner and ethical leader no questions asked. Same with Lloyd. Mo didn't have enough time to develop a long legacy but he is certainly a respected member of the family. Need I go on?

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 2:32 p.m.

"you guys"???? So you're not a Michigan fan? But we knew that, didn't we?? Good Night and Good Luck


Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 12:36 p.m.

Theo, in the history of college football 2 maybe 3 teams have ran a true spread offense and won a national title. Are you talking about the spread pass? or spread option run? Florida and Auburn last year are the only two! USC (prostyle/westcoast), Texas (westcoast out of the shotgun), Alabama (power run/ prostyle), Ohio State (power run/ prostyle), Oklahoma (prostyle/ westcoast), Tennessee (prostyle/ westcoast), FSU (prostyle), Michigan (prostyle/power run). Just because you have a mobile quarterback that scrambles like Vince Young does not mean they ran a spread offense! The thing that all these teams have in common is...... drum roll please...... outstanding DEFENSE and an outstanding player that seperates that team from everyone else!!!!! Lienhart/Bush, Vince Young, Ingram, Clarrett, White, Tee Martin, Charlie Ward, Charles Woodson, Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, Chris Weinke, Jamarcus Russell, Ken Dorsey and Clinton Portis! Power Run/ prostyle/ westcoast offenses win titles!!! Not the spread!


Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 5:36 p.m.

Good post chiro19 ... always glad to see someone who uses facts in their comments. Excellent point about the D ... good or great D's are a major factor in winning NC's.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 2:08 p.m.

Fantasies die hard. The spread is so much FUN!! I just doesn't win the way its proponents wish it did. Good Night and Good Luck


Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 4:37 a.m.

After viewing most of the vids of T. Rawls,I'm convinced he is the back of the future for Blue ! He's has good speed,great footwork,and sheds arm tackles very good,great open field runner and a blood hound for the goal line !! Coached by Fred Jr. and now by Fred Sr. who has 20 yrs of teaching/coaching feature backs at Michigan, I think he will get better as the season rolls out.. Watching the B1G meetings in Chicago this evening on BTN, Brady was asked how they are you getting top level recruits ,and Brady quipped I know this sounds arrogant! But This is Michigan !! He took no credit himself ! It was beautiful.. Anyone notice Bo Poleni looks like a young Jimmy Duranty ? you can correct my spelling later.. GO BLUE..


Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 2:24 a.m.

To me, the key to the offense is not if one back gets 20 or more carries. The key will be to protect your QB (and here's hoping that DR can continue to run in space because is exciting), while having a stable of backs who can handle the bulk of the carries collectively. Would be nice to have 2-3 backs who can carry 40-50 times a game. Go with the hot hand. Go with 2 back sets. Keep offenses honest so DR can get loose. Don't fumble. I think the years in which Michigan had a couple of guys run for big yard were the best offensive years. Oh, and this is all based on an offensive line being taught good footwork and executing, something that has not always been present for the last 5-6 years despite the studs like Long and Hart. My prediction is that Cox and Hopkins will be the lead backs to start, and that Rawls or the other frosh will come in during the season. Shaw and Smith will be in for relief but not featured backs (unless they have drastically improved).

Terry Star21

Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 1:58 a.m.

Kyle, this was a great article which will help a lot of people begin to see how Hoke's system will work. It showed how DRob's background/current changes plus how a power running back fits in to this system. I remember seeing Hopkins at the Spring game in 2010 and I felt he would be the next great running back for Michigan. He has one year under his belt, and even though a new coach, he won't be starting anew. I see great things with this kid - I'm talking about the things that help carry a team to championships. MgoBlueForTim..........Hopkins for President !

Chad Williams

Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 1:56 a.m.

Theo... There is hope that there is someone on this blog that noticed the "3 yards and a cloud of dust" is as outdated as the triple option. Teams run the spread cause it creates the mis matches in space. Hints why a not so talented team like a purdue or NW could beat michigan. Its obvious that a 3-1 situation would call for a power running style. But who cares about TOP when your constantly putting 7 on the board. TOP doesnt equal points. This offense was a power house with all the mistakes and no RB.


Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 5:32 p.m.

I guess your "mis matches in space" theory = 6-18 in the BT in 3 years. Having watched closely for 3 years, I would agree with you that there were many mismatches: * our last HC was a mismatch for us. * most opposing offenses were a mismatch for our D * good opposing D's were a mismatch for our "awesome spread" O * the good BT teams were a mismatch for us (1-13 vs good BT teams in 3 years) * all other teams were a mismatch for our special teams You could go on and on and on.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 2:34 p.m.

And TOP is a HUGE issue when your defense couldn't stop the St. Mary's School for Blind Girls freshperson football team. But, then, someone who understood football would know that. Good Night and Good Luck


Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 2:33 a.m.

The problem is, they weren't constantly putting 7 on the board (part of that is because the kicking game stunk), which meant that ToP was a huge issue for this team. Of course, if you actually watched Michigan play these last couple of years, you might have known that.


Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 2:20 a.m.

Chad: These mismatches in space are great in theory, but the reality of getting steamrolled for the last 3 years against the better teams is where your theory falls apart. It doesn't matter what offense you run. If you can't block, if you can't shed blocks on defense, if you can't tackle, if you can't hold onto the ball--you will lose. And 6-18 is all the proof you need. Powerhouse? 14 pts against Mississippi State? 24 points against OSU in 3 years? What powerhouse!?!?

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 12:35 a.m.

Lots of questions to be answered about this team: Who will emerge at running back? How will Denard adapt to the West Coast offense? How much will the defensive play improve? Will we find someone who can put the football through the uprights consistently? It will be a lot of fun watching this team develop. Good Night and Good Luck


Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 11:56 p.m.

Looks like I see a Citrus Bowl or two in our future. Use thou head; Run The Spread. "Power" running game is dead. Go Blue. (Look up last 6 national champs and tell me, go ahead tell me, what kind of offense they ran).


Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 2:30 a.m.

Alabama ran the spread?

Benny Casino

Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 2:30 a.m.

Yes, let's look at that. Last year was Auburn who by everyone's admission, including Nick Saban and Urban Meyer, ran I-Formation football with Cam Newton as the tailback. Basic power football. Year before that? Alabama. We know what they run. Before that was Florida who also used their QB, Tim Tebow, as a battering ram in a power run heavy offense. LSU was before that and we know The Hat ran mostly pro sets under Gary Crowton at the time. Florida preceded them, see above. The year before Florida was Texas who did admittedly run out of the spread with another giant QB in Vince Young. The two years previous to Texas was USC and all they ran is pro sets. So while the so called 'spread offense' won 3 of the past 7 National Titles they did with tight end sized QBs who made plays with their feet and through the air. That's why Denard was hurt in 10 games last year because he's not that Big of a guy. It's not the formation or the scheme, it's always the players.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Fri, Jul 29, 2011 : 12:25 a.m.

Under Hoke more likely that we'll win 'em rather than getting blown out by the 7th best team in the SEC. Good Night and Good Luck


Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 11:07 p.m.

come on lets get going. been a long time and we need some football. lets start the clock. msu and that team from ohio. the clock is getting ready to start up.


Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 10:53 p.m.

A featured back seems to be an important missing piece of the puzzle. Remember back when Lloyds big concern was finding a featured back that could handle the ball 20 or more times? Mike Hart filled the spot nicely for the next 4 years, let's hope Brady finds his featured back, I think a lot depends on it this coming year.


Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 10:43 p.m.

Aaahhh, I can hear Ufer now, "Two tight ends and a balanced line...." Nostalgia is sometimes a comforting thing, like hot apple pie, leaves turning, nights getting chillier. Come on fall, lets play football! This IS Michigan