Michigan head Coach Brady Hoke likes his team this season but says that doesn’t mean there are any guarantees for success on the field in 2013. The Wolverines won 11 games in Hoke’s first season in 2011 but fell shy of preseason hype in 2012. So where does that leave Michigan in 2013?
The Wolverines are still among the popular picks in the Legends Division of the Big Ten but there are a number of concerns as Michigan gears up for the 2013 season. At least they have a starting quarterback lined up. Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson is not at a point to say the same just yet, although Illinois head coach Tim Beckman is certain the Illini have a healthy starting quarterback for the upcoming season.
Michigan enters a critical point in the tenure of Brady Hoke. The third-year head coach of the Wolverines realizes his program needs to be more careful in their decisions. The big story for Michigan in 2013 will be moving to a more traditional offensive approach with Devin Gardner becoming the main quarterback.
“His maturity and understanding of what it means to be the quarterback of Michigan… are going to be very important,” Hoke said of his starting quarterback. Though Gardner had previously moved to wide receiver, Hoke lauded Gardner for his commitment to the program and said, “He was always going to move back to quarterback.”
Tim Beckman had a miserable debut with Illinois last season but he was full of optimism as he met with the media Wednesday. Beckman used the word “anxious” to describe his approach to the season, in which he said he is excited to see a number of players back and healthy for the 2013 season.
“We’re not going to let negativity infiltrate our program,” Beckman said, a pre-emptive strike against critics. “We lost over 400 snaps due to injury last season,” Beckman said of the injury-riddled 2012 season. One of the key players for Illinois returning to good health this fall is quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase. Despite getting Reiley O’Toole some playing time in 2012, Beckman confirmed he is committed to having Scheelhaase as the starter for the Illini.
The addition of offensive coordinator Bill Cubit was called “huge.” “He has a great background as a leader, as a play-caller,” Beckman said, as Cubit should stabilize the offense in 2013. “He’s probably called a million plays in his career.”
Kevin Wilson understands the Hoosiers still have a lot of work to do, but he is focused on a long-term plan to success. As with any program, that begins with solid recruiting. Wilson lauded his incoming class for the season, calling them the most gifted class Indiana has brought in according to what recruiting analysts believe. Like many programs right now, Indiana is without a starting quarterback for the upcoming season. Wilson admits he does not know which way he will go with the decision, but this is nothing new to him.
“The first year I didn’t know if we could throw it in the ocean,” Wilson said. “Right now I think our quarterbacks are talented but they haven’t proved anything yet.”
Indiana is expected to have one of the more versatile offenses in the Big Ten. Wilson sees that as the next stage in forming a contender in the Big Ten. “Our offense moves the ball but our offense doesn’t score points proportional to ball control.”
Kevin is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation and host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast. Follow McGuire on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.