Brady Hoke asked Michigan athletic director David Brandon to get this game bought out. It didn’t happen. Now, Hoke and his Michigan Wolverines are preparing to face his former team, the San Diego State Aztecs.
Hoke scheduled this game after his first season as the head coach of the Aztecs. Now in his first season leading the Wolverines, he is trying to keep the focus off of himself and onto a tough San Diego State team that could give Michigan a stiff challenge.
San Diego State is 3-0 with victories over Cal-Poly, Army and Washington State. The Aztecs are led by the dangerous one-two combo of Ryan Lindley and Ronnie Hillman. Lindley, the Aztecs senior signal caller, is an all-MWC selection and a Davey O’Brien and Maxwell award watch-lister. Through three games Lindley has thrown for seven touchdowns against just one interception. Hillman, the explosive sophomore runningback, is second in the nation is rushing and has Aztec fans comparing him to former SDSU and NFL star Marshall Faulk.
Michigan’s defense will need to continue to improve in order to slow down the Aztec offense. The Wolverines have been gashed by opposing offenses, especially on the ground, early in the game. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison and the defense have done a solid job of making adjustments during the game to slow opponents down, but without increased production from the front seven the Wolverines could find themselves in a big whole early. Eastern Michigan ran for 207 yards against Michigan (the majority in the first quarter), and the Aztecs feature a much more potent offensive attack than the Eagles.
Offensively, the Wolverines continue to be an enigma. They frustrate one moment, then electrify the next. They struggle to move the ball yet put up over 30 points each week. To figure out why the Wolverines have been so enigmatic so far, one needs to look no further than quarterback Denard Robinson. Robinson has struggled with his accuracy and decision making in the passing game. He has missed open receivers and made questionable throws into coverage. Yet thanks to his receiving core, namely Junior Hemingway and the surprising Jeremy Gallon, Robinson has made some big plays. At times, he has looked uncomfortable trying to operate in the new offense. Thankfully for Michigan fans, Robinson has been as electrifying as ever with his legs, racking up 198 yards on the ground last week. Offensive coordinator Al Borges has shown the ability to adapt to Robinson’s capabilities, although it often comes after Robinson and the offense have struggled to move the ball.
During the Eastern Michigan game Robinson showed he can be even more dangerous (is that possible?) while running the zone-read. With runningbacks Fitz Toussaint and Vince Smith healthy, Michigan could have a big day running the football against SDSU’s undersized defensive line. Robinson will need to get his receivers involved more, but the Wolverines should be able to put up points against the Aztecs. With Lindley and Hillman on the other side of the ball, they might need to in order to come out on top.
Coach and San Diego State
Hoke conquers Aztecs