“You know it’s great to be, a Michigan Wolverine”. The refrain often chanted by Jim Harbaugh’s players after a win. However over the last three seasons, Michigan’s seasons have ended with the same sinking feeling. It’s a feeling that comes with a loss to arch rivals Ohio State. A feeling that accompanies another missed opportunity to secure a Big 10 title. A feeling of playoff opportunities being dashed. After producing a number of NFL calibre players in the last few years, the mission for Michigan is clear. Beat Ohio State.
As has been the case in each of the past few seasons, the squad lost multiple talented players to the NFL. However as is the luxury big schools enjoy, Michigan has some ready made replacements ready to step in. Transfer quarterback Shea Patterson comes back for a second season in Ann Arbour. He is joined by former Alabama coach Josh Gattis as the new offensive coordinator. Gattis’ main job will be bringing the Michigan offense into the 21st century. The addition of some RPO and spread concepts will be huge for Patterson, who has a talented group of receivers alongside him.
Offensive Intrige Starts On The Line
Michigan might have the best offensive line in the conference. Star left tackle John Runyan and interior mauler Ben Bredeson are the leaders on a unit that has potential to be a positive for the first time under Harbaugh. They are sure to build a steady platform from which Patterson is able to launch.
In addition to a solid line, Michigan has a stellar crop of recieving talent. Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones are stars in an incredible wide receiver class. Tarik Black could be a major x-factor if he can stay healthy. In addition to these three, the tight end duo of Eubanks and McKeon are dangerous threats. This might be the best group of skill position players in the Big 10. Questions remain over health, but if players can see the field this offense has major potential.
Who Will Replace Chase?
Senior linebacker Josh Uche will be a force rushing off the edge. He has the potential to be a real difference maker for the Wolverines defense this season. Uche will have to help cover for a defensive line that has more depth that last year, but will have to replace the three headed monster of Solomon, Winovich and Gary. Another star linebacker Khaleke Hudson will help to fill the hole left by superstar Devin Bush, but others will have to step up.
In the secondary, Lavert Hill and Josh Metellus lead a unit that has the potential to be nasty. Hill is supremely talented, will top five potential at his position. Coordinator Don Brown can leave Hill on an island on the outside and he will shut down a receiver. Freshman safety Daxton Hill could be a year one contributor for the Wolverines, but as with all first year players it shouldn’t be counted on.
All About Ohio State
Four games will define this Michigan Season. Coming up against Army in week two could be a really tough matchup. Army usually play a close game against a big school each season, so this one has upset potential. Two weeks after the Army game, Michigan takes a trip to Madison Wisconsin for a matchup with the Badgers. It isn’t easy to win in Madison and the Badgers are all in for star running back Jonathon Taylor’s final season.
In the midseason, Michigan have a chance to avenge last seasons week one loss when Notre Dame come to the Big House. Notre Dame return quarterback Ian Book and will have the talent to cause Michigan trouble on both sides of the ball.
The biggest game for this squad will be against Ohio State. State have a first year coach and a transfer quarterback that has little experience as a starter. They will be talented, possibly with superior athletes. However, the Big House will be rocking when State come to town. Both teams could well be unbeaten going into the game which is always one of the best on the college football calendar. It will define both teams respective seasons and for Jim Harbaugh, another loss make define his career as the head coach of Michigan.
Ceiling – 13-1 B1G Championship (Loss: CFP Semi Final)
Floor – 8-4 (Losses: Army, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Ohio State)
Prediction – 10-2 (Losses: Notre Dame, Ohio State)