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Hope is in Short Supply for Michigan Coach Brady Hoke

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Brady Hoke

Brady Hoke

The sample size is limited, but home losses to Utah is not a good omen for Michigan coaches.

The only other coach to lose to the Utes at the Big House was Rich Rodriguez in his debut. He was fired three years later.

Brady Hoke added is name to that list with a 26-10 loss to Utah, but he’ll have far less leeway to atone for this loss than Rodriguez did in 2008.

The question now is what Michigan and Hoke will have to do undo the damage of the last three weeks, which included a 31-0 loss to Notre Dame. 

On Saturday, the fans in Ann Arbor booed until they gave up and left before and after a lengthy weather delay. 

Through four games, Michigan has shown little that could make the boos stop.

In the postgame news conference, Hoke referenced Michigan’s 1998 team. He was an assistant that year when the Wolverines opened the season with losses to Notre Dame and Syracuse but won a share of the Big Ten title (despite a 31-16 loss to Ohio State).

Hope, though, would seem to be thin for the Michigan team that’s shown up this season.

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The offense has regressed under new coordinator Doug Nussmeier, failing to even reach the red zone against Notre Dame and Utah. Michigan outgained Utah 308 yards to 286, spoiling a defensive effort that included an interception returned for a touchdown for Michigan’s only trip to the end zone against a Power 5 team.

The Wolverines are last in the nation in turnover margin at minus-10, and a quarterback change made things worse. Devin Gardner threw two interceptions for six this season. Shane Morris, a four-star quarterback in 2013, threw an interception, lost a fumble and finished 4-of-13 passing.

Hoke was cagey about what that change means for Michigan’s future, starting next week.

“We will have a starting quarterback against Minnesota,” Hoke said.

While factual, that’s not an encouraging statement for a coach who may be fighting for his job during the final months of the season.

The fourth-year coach is 4-8 since a 5-0 start in 2013. Keep in mind, that undefeated start last year included close calls with Akron and Connecticut.

That kind of sustained struggles is enough for a chorus of boos, which Hoke says he hopes aren’t for his players.

“If they’re all for me, good,” Hoke said. “I don’t have a problem with that at all.”

Good news: They probably are.