In my heart of hearts, I was convinced that Denard was gone, not necessarily because he wanted to play in a spread system, but because, as he says in the video, Rich Rodriguez was one of the few coaches in the country that believed he could play quarterback. While Denard is clearly loyal to Michigan, I thought that his loyalty to Rodriguez might've trumped that and seen him transfer to another school. Thankfully he seems like a tried-and-true Wolverine, the likes of which this program was founded on.
All of the rumblings about what the offense will be next year continue to concern me, though. When asked about what Hoke has told him about the offense, Denard responded with,
It's going to be something to learn. It's going to take time. It's gonna be fun.That sounds like we're going to see very few spread schemes, despite the assertion that the coaches will do their best to scheme for the talent they have. And when TomVH at MGoBlue talked with offensive lineman Chris Bryant, the prospect gave a troubling (to me at least) response to a question about next year's offense:
Coach Hoke was telling me about the new pro style offense, a lot of schools run that and Michigan used to run it.This sounds explicitly like Hoke is telling recruits that Michigan is returning to the Lloyd Carr years of I-formation zone-left runs. The more I hear about Al Borges' prospective offense, the more concerned I become for next year's team and the success of Denard under center.
This year, Michigan went 7-6 almost solely on the strength of its explosive offense. Next year, the offense will take a noticeable step back and, given Hoke's teams' defensive track record, it's not beyond reason to expect Michigan to drop to 6-6 or worse on the scoresheet. If Hoke is able to turn Michigan's defense into something respectable--which he should be able to do with a talented and deep group of players now--I'll curse the heavens that Rodriguez was fired instead of being allowed to revamp his defensive staff again. But a regression from the offense is ominous.
There's also a video floating around of Hoke talking about the transition and the offense next year:
Hoke mentions Mike Vick as a successful running quarterback in a pro scheme, as well as the fact that Denard played under center a lot in high school. My biggest concern here is that Denard's throwing ability isn't sharp enough to carry a West Coast-style offense. His timing and accuracy will need to significantly improve if he's going to succeed in this system next year. Regardless, the utilization of Denard next year will likely amount to roll outs with a run/pass option, and scrambling out of the pocket, something he was hesitant to do for the majority of this year.
I am cautiously optimistic about next year. Denard has the arm to make the throws that will be asked of him, but I'm not sure if he has the accuracy. Not to mention, it sounds more and more like any sort of spread running attack will be abandoned with the implementation of Borges' offense. I'm confident that whoever Hoke hires as the defensive coordinator will be able to turn that unit into something respectable. My biggest concern for next year is going to be just how far the offense falls from its epic highs this year.
If you need me, I'll be in the corner telling myself, "It's only January" over and over again.