Michigan coaches and players rarely reference the former coaching staff, either in a positive or negative way. It just doesn't happen. But a few shots may have been thrown at Rich Rodriguez and his coaching staff at Monday's news conference.
Coach Hoke had this to say when asked about possibly giving left tackle Taylor Lewan some time of this week to recuperate from a leg injury:
"We don't have that luxury, you know, to be honest with you. We have limited numbers, so we'll try and be smart and maybe take a rep here, rep there. But our depth at our offensive line is probably as low as I've ever seen at a university."
That last line seems like a shot at Rodriguez and his shortcomings at recruiting offensive linemen. Michigan has just 10 scholarship linemen, and two are true freshmen (Bryant, Miller). From what I understand, coaches like to carry about 15 linemen. In Rodriguez's defense, he left Hoke with 12. Christian Pace (injury) and Tony Posada (quit) could have provided depth, although Posada was a first-year guy and was likely headed for a redshirt year.
Then there's this response from Hoke on a question about Denard Robinson inexplicably taking a knee Saturday when Purdue jumped offsides:
"I think it's some old training maybe. We'd like for him to throw it to the Z who was down the field."
To be fair, Hoke may have been referring to Denard's high school or Pop Warner coach and not Rodriguez, Calvin Magee or Rod Smith.
So maybe I'm reading too much into things. Fine. But you cannot tell me Ryan Van Bergen didn't throw the previous coaches under the bus on this response when asked how much better the cornerbacks are from 2010.
"I don't know if they're necessarily better overall players because we have some of the same guys back. J.T. has been consistently good. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we mix up our coverages a little bit more. I think we were a bit more predictable last year in comparison to this year, especially with some of our pressures and stuff. Coach Mallory has done a great job of coaching them on their techniques and stuff. I think they do a great job disguising. There's a lot of guys that last year you'd see standing in the same spots on all of our defenses. This year you can't tell if the corner's playing press man or if he's just squat and cover two or sometimes he'll bail out in cover three. The things that we do to mix it up for them keeps the offense guessing and it makes it seem like there much more effective because of what they're doing before the ball is even snapped."
Now, unfortunately, I can't tell you much about squat cover two or bailing out into cover three. What I can tell you, though, is the T-shirts Greg Robinson and Tony Gibson put on this morning are now covered in tire tracks.