a lot better than U-M fans had any right to imagine. I sent my impressions to Brian Cook, and he posted them on MGoBlog.com. I said that while the 2010 defense was "the worst in the history of the galaxy," there was reason for hope in 2011.
On Cook's WTKA radio show in the preseason, he went out on a limb by predicting that Greg Mattison's 2011 D would move to the middle of the pack on the NCAA data board. I went further, suggesting the Michigan defense "would be above average or maybe even good." Much eye rolling in the studio. And, I had to concede, I was being an idiot. There was reason to believe the D would be OK. Maybe. But good?
Sometimes, when you assume you are being a moron, it is dismaying to learn that you just didn't go quite far enough. Or nearly far enough, in this instance, since farther out on the limb was the place to be. The 2011 U-M defense ended up ranked in the top ten in the nation.
While gushing over the defense, I also was persuaded that the offense would regress, perhaps markedly. Even before a game was played, the message from Hoke and offensive coordinator Al Borges was that they were traditionalists; that good offense is a lot about beating the other guys up, and the best way to do that was "power" football. While Rich Rodriguez wanted his linemen to dance with the defense, let the D choose its poison, and then get blitzed by a streak of pure lightning (Denard Robinson), Hoke's preference is to pound the D into the ground and then let Denard dance on them, shoelace-less or even barefoot, if he wishes.