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August 28, 2013Brady Hoke addressed the media for the final time before the Wolverines take the field for their 134th season opener. Among the nuggets to emerge, Hoke said not to expect a vanilla offense on Saturday.
News: With Notre Dame on the schedule for week two, Hoke was asked if the coaching staff planned to dumb-down the scheme and game plan so as not to show the Irish their full hand. He dismissed the suggestion.
Hoke: "We have nothing to hide in what we do and how we do it. That is really overblown when you're trying to keep something maybe they haven't seen. You're going to tweak what you do from one week to the next, especially from an offensive perspective. We'll do what we do."
Views: There are two sides to this argument - one that says if you can beat an opponent running the most elementary of plays offensively, and without showing how you will blitz or disguise coverages defensively, then do so, knowing you will not give your bigger-name opponent the full film to prepare for.
The other argument is Hoke's, that says the game doesn't come down to gimmicks and deception, but about one team out-executing the other team. In the end, he's right, and while it certainly can help to have an ace up one's sleeve, the game is still pretty simple - block and tackle. If you do those two things better than your opponent, you'll win, and that's the school of thought Hoke comes from.
He'd much rather see his team go out and pound the football and overpower its foe, and then smother the Chippewas with a relentless front seven. That will be the same approach for week two against Notre Dame and every game afterwards.
News: With so much focus on Michigan and its question marks offensively and defensively, Hoke reminded folks that there is another team in this equation, and that Central Michigan is a program that finished 2012 strong.
Hoke: "Central won its last four games a year ago, won three to put themselves into a bowl game, and won the bowl game. That's significant in how they've developed and how Dan [Enos] has developed his football team. They have a veteran group of coaches and do a nice job. We'll have our work cut out for us. We have to play our best football game."
Views: It can be easy to forget that there is another team on the opposite sideline that has spent an entire offseason gearing up for this moment, and while CMU is not the competitor that Notre Dame will be Sept. 7, it will still represent a challenge to the Maize and Blue.
This is a Chippewas team with confidence and momentum, and one that saw what Northern Illinois did a year ago when it qualified for the Orange Bowl and is thinking it could have a great year too. Beating Michigan may seem unlikely, but Central's players believe it and certainly there have been enough upsets in college football (and against U-M) over the last decade that no opponent can be overlooked.
News: Michigan's depth chart was three-deep at every defensive line position, and four-deep at defensive tackle. It is certainly possible the Wolverines could rotate 10-12 linemen throughout Saturday's game.
Hoke: "I don't know that we've had three-deep before. Never have had that much depth. At San Diego State, we had guys coming in all the time at all positions. We'll be a little more selective in the back end, but in the front seven, there is a lot of depth and guys are fighting. Guys are fighting to get on the bus, and in turn, we'll become a better football team because of that."
Views: The coaches were praising the play of three weakside ends in preseason camp, and three strongside ends, and talked about the intense competition at defensive and nose tackle. This isn't just talk - there is such a battle along the line and so many capable linemen that the Maize and Blue find themselves in a situation every team in the country would be jealous of, knowing they can rotate second- and third-string defenders with little drop-off.
Former linebacker Obi Ezeh wrote about this earlier in the week, talking about the mental fatigue that sets in as physical fatigue overtakes you, and how that is when mistakes are made on the field that lead to big plays for the opponent. Keeping that in mind, if you can sub out even for a few plays here and there to catch your breath, it allows you to regain your focus and play every snap with 100 percent commitment.
There should be no excuses for the defensive line this season. Because of the depth of talent, junior end Frank Clark can take a play or two off with sophomore Mario Ojemudia or freshman Taco Charlton in his stead, get a moment for recovery, and then return to the field with everything he has.