By Gennaro Filice, SI.com
Following the hiring of Rich Rodriguez, the Michigan faithful repeatedly claimed they were ready to face transitional struggles. Fans of the winningest program in college football history told everyone they were fully prepared for a rocky road as Rodriguez employed a radically different offensive approach.
Well, now it's time for those maize-and-blue supporters to walk the walk.
Michigan's season-opening, 25-23 loss to Utah confirmed the prior assumption that this process is going to take time. Michigan finished the game with 203 yards of offense, including just 36 on the ground. Although QB Steven Threet showed promise in the fourth quarter, it's apparent that neither Threet nor starter Nick Sheridan is an ideal fit for Rodriguez's spread-option attack. And it sure doesn't help that the supporting cast on offense is chock-full of fresh faces with minimal experience. Long story short, this offense is eons away from anything resembling the well-oiled machine Rodriguez directed at West Virginia. (Speaking of which ... The Rodriguez-less Mountaineers rolled past Villanova, 48-21, as Pat White threw five touchdown passes.)
Not to paint the picture that it's all gloom-and-doom in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines showed their fortitude by outscoring Utah 13-0 in the fourth quarter and giving themselves a chance to win. Additionally, the defense, which entered the season with high expectations, clamped down in the final 30 minutes following a horrendous first half.
But the offensive product that we saw in the Big House today made it abundantly clear this program is in the primitive stages of a substantial transition. It's going to take more than a few games for this offense to begin clicking on a consistent basis. The question is: How long will Michigan fans exhibit the patience they promised before ever seeing the new-look Wolverines in action?