4 Reasons Michigan Will Have Fewer Wins in 2012
I've been a Michigan fan my entire 35 years on this planet. I'll be a fan until I leave this earth and I'm sure even in the afterlife I'll be rooting my Wolverines to victory over Ohio State.
But the reason I'm writing today is to temper expectations because I'm 99 percent certain that Michigan will have a worse record than last season.
As I've seen in various articles on Bleacher Report in the comments section, many fans believe (not to mention my friends as well) that the Wolverines will duplicate, if not exceed, last season's win totals.
I couldn't disagree more with them.
The following reasons are why Michigan will fall short of 2011's win total.
The Brutal Schedule
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We're all aware by now that Michigan has a rather challenging schedule for the 2012 season. In addition to playing Alabama in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the Wolverines have to play at Notre Dame, at Nebraska and at Ohio State.
According to AnnArbor.com, Michigan has the fourth toughest schedule in college football this year.
Earlier in the year, I also predicted that the Wolverines would go 8-4. I haven't had a reason yet to change my mind.
To be clear, a worse record doesn't equal a worse team. The Wolverines had a very soft schedule last season with eight home games and just four games on the road. Two of those road games they lost (against Iowa and Michigan State).
The team has just six games at home this year and that will hurt its record the most.
Denard Robinson Isn't as Improved as Al Borges Says
Al Borges and Brady Hoke have said over and over that Denard has drastically improved in the offseason. I'm not buying it and he's going to have to prove me wrong.
Certainly, we couldn't see the improvement in the spring game because he only played for one series. While I don't doubt Denard has looked better, there's a huge difference between looking good in practice and when it's game time.
Will he improve on his laughable 55 percent completion percentage and his Big Ten-leading 15 interceptions? I believe he will, but don't expect a 3,000-yard passing season and a mere four interceptions.
Shoelace proved in 2010 he can pass the ball accurately as his completion percentage was at 62.5 percent. While many would say this was due to a new offense, I beg to differ. Borges continuously ran than the spread offense to suit Denard's strengths. It was on a rare occasion that he ever hiked the football from under center.
In the end, I believe that Denard will have a minor improvement passing the football and be just as deadly rushing the football out of the backfield.
The Wolverines Won't Be Injury Free Like Last Season
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Brady Hoke's desire from the 2012 and 2013 class has been to build more depth on the offensive and defensive lines. He's wise to do so.
The only major injury that hurt Michigan last season was before the Sugar Bowl when David Molk ruptured a tendon in his leg. After taking a couple of plays off and letting Rocko Khoury stress out the Michigan faithful with his low snaps, the offensive line was effective again.
I have a feeling we won't be as fortunate as last season.
Every major football program (whether it's college or the NFL) deals with injuries and that's why depth is so important. Just ask the Indianapolis Colts how important Peyton Manning was last season.
If Devin Gardner's performance in the spring game is any indication, we have a right to be concerned if Denard gets hurt. Russell Bellomy should be the No. 2 quarterback as he looked much more confident with his throws.
Proper conditioning in the offseason helps reduce injuries, but it doesn't eliminate them entirely. The odds of this team not suffering any major injuries is low. But in any case, let's hope the Wolverines can stay healthy in 2012.
Replacing Three Defensive Line Starters Will Be More Difficult Than Anticipated
Brady Hoke indicated here that year two is usually harder than year one when coaching a football team.
In this case, finding three new players that can match the abilities of Mike Martin, Ryan Van Bergen and Will Heininger will prove very challenging for Greg Mattison and Brady Hoke.
The defensive line was less than impressive during the spring game, and with Will Campbell getting arrested for felony and misdemeanor vandalism, he could possibly face suspension. I wouldn't expect him to be kicked off the team as this is the first time he's been in trouble at Michigan.
With Craig Roh taking the strong-side defensive end position, expect Brennen Beyer and Frank Clark to compete at the weak-side end position. Look out for 5-star true freshman Ondre Pipkins to earn a spot starting alongside Campbell.
I believe the talent will be there but the general inexperience on the defensive line will most likely hurt the Wolverines from time to time.