We all know last night showed that Michigan is still a long way from being able to compete with the elite SEC teams. Duh.
But will Michigan ever be able to compete with, and beat the likes of Alabama and LSU? We can certainly hope so, but what will it take? I offer a few key factors below.
1. Get bigger in the trenches
The upperclassmen were still leftovers from the RichRod era, and Rodriguez did not bring in the big fellows necessary to give Alabama a fair fight. True freshmen Kyle Kalis and Ondre Pipkins are a great start, but they are simply too young right now to compete with the likes of Alabama.
2. Continue to dominate recruiting
Michigan has several commits for the 2013 class that had offers from Alabama and LSU. This includes Shane Morris, David Dawson, Hank Poggi, among others. These are big strong kids, and kids with “SEC speed”. It stands to reason that if Michigan continues to win recruiting battles with Saban and Miles, Michigan will be able to compete with, and beat these coaches on the field down the road.
3. A strong running game
Michigan clearly missed the push up front from departing senior David Molk, as well as the electric play of Fitzgerald Toussaint. However, I would say the lack of run blocking was more the issue than poor play by running backs. This mostly goes back to point #1 about how Michigan needs to get bigger in the trenches. This will happen, but unfortunately it will take a few years.
A strong running game would have really changed the flow of the game last night. It would have kept Michigan’s offense on the field longer, and would have given Denard Robinson more open receivers. Yeldon is certainly better than anybody Michigan has at RB now, but he benefited from great run blocking that Michigan was unable to utilize.
4. Retain the coaching staff
As Michigan continues to enjoy success at the Big Ten level, other teams will continue to try to pick off their coaching staff. Coach Hoke must retain his coordinators, Greg Mattison and Al Borges. He must also keep some of the more prominent position coaches, such as Darrell Funk of the OL and Curt Mallory of the secondary.
5. Shane Morris must be elite
QB prospect Shane Morris comes highly touted, and he has brought along some high profile recruits with him. He needs to play to his potential, and be the kind of quarterback that can run Al Borges’ pro-style offense.
I think all these factors will lead to an elite Michigan team that can win national championships, and I think they are all within the realm of possibility. As fans, we just need to be patient with the work Coach Hoke and staff are doing. They have their work cut out for them, and Rome wasn’t built in a day.
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