So we're six weeks into the season, and we've discovered a few things about Michigan.
First off, the Wolverines benefited from an arguably manageable schedule n 2011, but Michigan has not been up to the task dealing with stiffer competition in 2012.
We also know something that I've been saying since the start of the season: Michigan running back Fitz Toussaint is overrated. Everyone made a big deal about him not being in the Alabama game like he was the second coming of Mike Hart. Last season, he was an average tailback and nothing in the offseason told me that anything was going to be different this season. This means that Denard Robinson is forced, once again, to carry the ball much more than he should.
Brady Hoke's Offensive Ambition
By now, we all know that Brady Hoke wouldn't have recruited Denard Robinson to play quarterback at Michigan. Hoke wants a traditional, pocket-passing quarterback to run a ball-controlled, old-school style of football. Obviously, he can't do that with Robinson being the best player on the team.
But it has to be incredibly frustrating for Hoke to watch other coaches like Brian Kelly and Chip Kelly implement their styles of offense for Notre Dame and Oregon, respectively, while his program is still lagging along. That being said, he was still able to take his handicapped offense to the Sugar Bowl in his first year. And with Ohio State and Penn State on probation, there's a good chance that Michigan will end up in another bowl game. As far as I'm concerned, back-to-back bowl games, no matter what the circumstances, would mean that Michigan is back. If Hoke could do that then come into the 2013 season with his chosen quarterback, the sky could be the limit for his offense.
The Emergence of Devin Funchess
Tight ends are all the rage in the world of modern football. They are the quintessential security blanket to both veteran and new quarterbacks. So it is a pleasure to see freshman Devin Funchess step up and fill this much-needed position. Even in losses, many of his plays have affected the game. The effort in a lot of the routes he runs won't show up in the stat sheet, but Michigan fans should be very excited for the future.
How Will Michigan do in the Big Ten?
After beating Purdue, Michigan is now 1-0 in the Big Ten this season. However, other than the actual win, there's not a whole lot to be gained from a victory over a Boilermakers squad that is an absolute grease fire on virtually every side of the ball. So my outlook on how the Wolverines will perform against Michigan State and Nebraska isn't all that bright. The defense is light years ahead of what it was in the Rich Rodriquez era, but so far I haven't seen a clear progression from last year to this season.
As I said before, Fitz Toussaint is not the long-term answer for the team at running back, and Denard Robinson typically doesn't perform well against teams that play better defense. The chances of a Rose Bowl are slim. But there are other good bowls to get to.
Stats and other information for this article was taken from the following sources: Yahoo! Sports, mgoblue.com, NCAA.com, The Detroit Free Press, and ESPN.com.
Aaron David Harris is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn.He also covered sports in Michigan for four years at The Battle Creek Enquirer (in Battle Creek, MI). Visit him at www.aarondavidharris.com.