Michigan Football: Why Wolverines' Season Will Start on Sour Note vs. Alabama
The Michigan football program and its fans have high hopes for the 2012 season, as they should—Denard Robinson and the Wolverines look like serious contenders.
Which will make the early-season loss to Alabama all the more disappointing.
That's right, I'm predicting a loss against the Crimson Tide and we're only in May.
The problem for Michigan is that Alabama traditionally has a fast, aggressive defense that can't be stretched horizontally and is stout against any attempts to simply pound the rock.
And we all know Michigan wants to run the ball.
Sure, this Alabama defense probably won't be better this year after losing seven defensive starters, including Dre Kirkpatrick, Mark Barron, Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw.
On the other hand, which program has retooled on defense as quickly and effectively as Alabama has over the past several years? For that matter, when is the last time Nick Saban has had a recruiting class outside of the top five in the nation?
The Crimson Tide defense will be inexperienced, but there was enough talent on their sideline last year to put together an excellent defense. We'll see that version this year.
Expect them to do what they always do—shut down the run. And that could be trouble for Michigan, which is heavily reliant on Denard Robinson and the running game. In the team's two losses to Iowa and Michigan State last year, the Wolverines only managed a combined 209 yards on the ground.
Slow the running game, and you slow Michigan. It's really that simple.
In general, Robinson will need to improve upon his 55.0 completion percentage for Michigan's passing attack to be more effective and thus make the team less reliant on the running attack. But if he can't keep Alabama honest in the passing game, the Crimson Tide will stack the box and disrupt the Wolverines' running attack before it gets started.
Alabama will beat Michigan to open the season.
And don't think losing Trent Richardson means Alabama's offense will suddenly grind to a halt. Eddie Lacy is a talented back, Outland-winning tackle Barrett Jones is back to anchor a very good offensive line, AJ McCarron looks like he could be a stud at the quarterback position moving forward and the young receiving corps has a lot of promise.
So yeah, they'll score points.
I think this Michigan team could be bound for big things in 2012. The Wolverines shouldn't be satisfied with anything less than a Big Ten title and a trip to the Rose Bowl. Robinson should be a Heisman candidate, Fitzgerald Toussaint will become a household name at running back this season and Kenny Demens is a rock at middle linebacker and could lead the conference in tackles this year.
This team will be good, don't doubt it. Just not good enough to knock off Alabama to start the season.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets will gladly have another as well.
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