Michigan gave a rare glimpse into the state of its football team by holding a practice session under the lights at Michigan Stadium Saturday night. A mere weeks before the 2014 season is set to begin against Appalachian State on Aug 30.
The Wolverines also made it pretty clear which side of the ball appeared to be the most game-ready unit to start the season.
From a defensive standpoint, it was clear that it was ahead of the offense. So much so that a running game was almost non-existent. With a pass-heavy game-plan during the practice, Michigan coach Brady Hoke says that the poor running performance Saturday night was an anomoly this week.
"The other night we ran the ball pretty well," Hoke said. "You can't play well one Saturday and not as well the next, there's another lesson with consistency. The defense I thought (was better), and to be honest with you they should, there's more veterans over there, more guys with game experience."
"I think to some degree they're (defense) always a little ahead of the offense and it's been that way forever. We need to catch up offensively pretty fast."
With an inside look into the team, it also invites every aspect and piece to be broken down into microcosmic proportions. The offensive line, who struggled mightily in 2013, didn't appear to have a successful night and will continue to be the subject of skepticism leading up to the season opener.
According to Hoke, there appears to be no quick fixes with this offensive line in the near future.
"I don't think you can pinpoint anything in particular, you've got to play with good leverage, you've got to be positive with your footwork, hips gotta be forward and you have to finish your blocks," Hoke said. "It sounds easy, but when you've got a defense that blitzes a lot, it puts a little more pressure on them."
Although the level of play was certainly not up to standards, Hoke believes that there are still some opportunities to grow and not an offensive line-exclusive issue.
Should there be concern for the offensive line? No, says Hoke, but there is definitely some room to grow.
"Let me say this, I'd be lying if I wasn't concerned about all of our football team," Hoke said. "That's just being a coach. Do we need to improve still? There's no question about it."
Although most of the blame will fall on the offensive line's shoulders, and deservedly so, the running backs didn't have a very good night. With the lone highlight being a four-yard touchdown, the only rushing touchdown of the night, the running game has clear problems it needs to fix.
"I don't think any of them (had a good night), and this is without watching tape, I think we need to keep improving there," Hoke said. "I think we need to see things a little better."
As for the fans, they're hoping to see things get a little better on the offensive side of the ball, too.