Photo: AP Images
In winning Tuesday night’s Sugar Bowl against Virginia Tech, Michigan set itself up perfectly for sky high expectations from fans and media.Brody Hoke’s first year at the helm yielded 11 victories, a heavily improved defence (went from 110th to 17th in the nation in total defence), and most importantly of all, a win against hated rivals Ohio State (first in eight years).
Denard Robinson, a preseason Heisman candidate, and nearly a dozen other starters are returning. Hoke also has a top 10 recruiting class on the way. It all likely adds up to the Wolverines receiving a fairly high preseason ranking.
But we shouldn’t place such lofty expectations on Hoke’s sophomore season just yet.
Michigan starts the season against Alabama and has road games at Nebraska, Ohio State, and Notre Dame. That stalwart 2011 defence got to pad the stats with wins over bad teams like Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Minnesota, and Illinois. The Wolverines also barely beat so-so rivals Ohio State and Notre Dame.
The team also needs to find replacements for two of its best players on each line, centre David Molk and defensive tackle Mike Martin. It also wouldn’t hurt if Robinson cut down on his 15 interceptions from 2011.
Yes, the schedule does include Air Force, UMass, and Michigan State at home, but we should wait and see before crowning the maize and blue as 2012 Big 10 favourites.
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