Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
There are the obvious reasons for Michigan's offensive renaissance this fall, the ones any observer can easily identify.
The Wolverines have mobility at the quarterback position, depth at both running back and wide receiver and experience along the offensive line. They're finally able to establish a tempo, which drives Rich Rodriguez's spread system, after stopping, starting and stalling throughout a miserable 2008 season.
But the biggest difference for Michigan can't be seen from the outside. It's a sentiment among players that the plan will work out.
“We’ve just got more faith," senior running back Brandon Minor said. "Everybody just bought into the system. Last year, I sensed a couple players doubting the system and the scheme we were trying to run. But now, I feel everybody’s all in, committed, doing everything coach is telling them to do. Everything’s working right now.”
After sitting out the season opener with an ankle injury, Minor got his chance to contribute against Notre Dame and cashed in. He rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown on only 16 carries as the Wolverines upset the 18th-ranked Irish 38-34. Michigan has eclipsed 30 points in each of its first two games after failing to reach 30 in 11 of 12 games last fall.
Minor felt both stronger and smarter in his 2009 debut. He dealt with injuries both before and during the 2008 campaign, and his strength was never where he wanted it to be because a wrist injury prevented him from lifting weights.
"This summer I got back to the weight room," he said. "Now I can last longer, run through more arm tackles, block people."
His second year in the spread offense also has paid dividends. The reads in the backfield are coming to him "way, way easier" now, and he's seeing bigger holes to barrel through. It also helps to have much more mobility at quarterback in both Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson.
“It poses a threat," Minor said. "[Defenses] can’t overplay me or they’re going to suffer a lot when it comes to the quarterback run. They’ve basically got to pick one.”
Minor tried to be Mr. Positive last fall, having fun with the game and hoping his attitude rubbed off on his teammates. But as the losses mounted, so did a feeling of discontent and, even worse, apathy.
“You kind of sensed it, the energy on the sideline with the people that weren’t playing," he said. "Last year, we had a ton of people that weren’t even into the game, people just talking, not even focused. Now everybody’s focused.”
“I sense more of that family unity. We’re more of a team. Last year, it seemed like everybody had their own agenda.”
Minor is obviously pleased with the team's start, but he also acknowledges the team hasn't faced much adversity this season. It breeds some curiosity.
"We haven’t faced any obstacles," he said. "We’ve got to see. If we face something tough during the season, we’ve got to see how we deal with that. But I think we’ve got good enough leaders to keep everybody’s heads straight."