Rich Rodriguez is starting his third season as Michigan coach amid the storm of NCAA sanctions and nationwide speculation about his job security. Can the Wolverines respond or will this be Rich Rod's last year in Ann Arbor?
The offense has the potential to be great this year with young, experienced talent returning on the offensive line and a slew of talented receivers returning. With the Likes of Hemmingway, Roundtree, Stonum and Koger returning there will be no shortage of weapons for the Michigan quarterback to throw to. There are two questions though. Who’s going to run the ball? Vincent Smith is the only experienced back on the roster, and he is injured.
More important is question two. Who is going to play quarterback? Either Denard Robinson has improved by leaps and bounds, or Michigan is considering playing flag football, or perhaps Tecmo Bowl. Even with the questions on offense Michigan should be fairly prolific, outscoring the weaker teams on their schedule with ease.
With such a potentially explosive offense, how could Michigan fail to make a bowl? That’s right, the defense. Michigan lost their best two defenders in first round pick Brandon Graham, and undrafted FA Donovan Warren. That’s right Michigan’s second best defensive player went undrafted. They even started two walk ons last year. Michigan’s defense was so bad last year they couldn’t even stop the Wolverines. The Atherton High School Wolverines, a class C Michigan high school that hasn’t had a winning season since my uncle played there in the mid 70’s.
The top returning defenders for Michigan are Jonas Mouton, Craig Roh, and Ryan Van Bergen. Roh and Van Bergen have potential, but the defense looks like it won’t be much this season.
Zoltan Mesko was the best punter in the nation, and now he plays on Sundays. No one Michigan can bring in will adequately replace the best punter in Michigan history, but redshirt sophomore Troy Clack will try. Placekicker will be an open competition, which may help get better production than in the past.
On the whole, prospects for this season look pretty grim. The powerful offense will not be able to overcome shortcomings from both the defense and special teams. Michigan has a tough non conference schedule, with the only guaranteed wins being UMass, bowling green, and at Indiana.
UConn, ND, and Illinois are winnable games, but the rest of the schedule is fairly brutal. Michigan will most likely go 4-8 (with a ceiling of 6-6), which will not be enough to save Rich Rod’s job. It looks like another season of upheaval and change for the once mighty wolverines. Perhaps this time, they can get it right.