Thursday, March 17, 2011
Brady Hoke fixed on Ohio State?
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan coach Brady Hoke will lead college football's winningest program on the practice field for the first time Saturday.
Hoke has already sent a message to his new team about what matters most.
Near his office in Schembechler Hall, a graduate assistant is in charge of updating the number of days it has been -- more than 2,600 and counting -- since Michigan beat "Ohio," as Ohio State is referred to by Hoke.
The red-lettered reminder is in the middle of two clocks counting down the time until the next games against Ohio State and Michigan State, the Wolverines' top rivals.
"Those are pretty important games," Hoke said. "We want to think about those games every day."
Michigan has lost seven in a row to the Buckeyes and three straight to the Spartans. Rich Rodriguez went 0-6 against both teams and he was fired 2½ months ago.
Hoke made it clear when he was introduced as head coach on Jan. 12 that beating the Buckeyes was a priority as he pounded the lectern with each word uttered about the team the native of Dayton, Ohio, grew up rooting against.
"It's almost personal," Hoke said at his first news conference in Ann Arbor.
Hoke can't wait to get down to business with the first of 15 practices on Saturday and especially for the first one in pads on Tuesday.
"We're excited to get started our players are excited," he said. "We've got a lot of unknowns that we have to figure out."
Hoke's biggest concern seems to be at cornerback, where Troy Woolfolk and J.T. Floyd are coming off surgeries.
The position he doesn't have much to worry about is quarterback. Denard Robinson chose to stay to play for Hoke after becoming the first player in NCAA history to both throw and run for 1,500 yards in a season.
Robinson will be under center in a pro-style scheme for offensive coordinator Al Borges after being a shotgun QB in Rodriguez's spread. Hoke isn't worried about the transition.
"It's the same offense he ran in high school," Hoke said.
Devin Gardner will be Robinson's clear-cut backup because Tate Forcier transferred to Miami.
Michigan will wrap up spring ball on April 16 at Michigan Stadium, but Hoke isn't sure if the event open to the public will be a practice or a scrimmage.
"We'd like to play a true, competitive spring game," he said. "I don't know if we'll have the bodies to do that."