My God, we're only seven, yes seven, days away from the start of another season, and I cannot remember a time I was more excited for the start. Maybe it has to do with this being the beginning of a brand new era.
It's an era that some of us have longed for after years of predictability under the Lloyd Carr reign. New coach Rich Rodriguez gives me a sense of optimism that I have not felt in a long time.
It's not the kind of optimism that the Wolverines will win it all this year, which they most certainly will not, but an optimism that the program is changing for the better and moving forward to where it should be.
The renovation of the stadium, the new practice facility, and the evolution of the strength and conditioning program are all just symbols that the Michigan Wolverines have finally stepped into the 21st century and will once again be on top as the best.
But as for this season, expect a bumpy transition. It might not be pretty either. My lone expectation for this team is to finish with at least seven wins and make a bowl game. A New Year's Day bowl game would be amazing, a win on New Year's Day would be beyond belief.
With the offense returning basically no one with the exception of Brandon Minor and Greg Matthews, and the difficulty of the spread offense, I don't think anyone expects big things from the maize and blue.
Steven Threet has been the projected starter at QB for most of the offseason but former walk-on (yes, former, he got his scholarship) Nick Sheridan has proven to be stiff competition. I for one would love to see a former walk-on step into the horseshoe and beat OSU. No telling what RichRod will do until after kickoff next Saturday.
I have a lot of hope for the wide receiving corps led by Matthews and impressive recruits Junior Hemingway, Darryl Stonum and Roy Roundtree.
Plus, expect grasshopper Sam McGuffie to see playing time in the slot. Tight end Carson Butler might have a standout year and become a second day draft pick.
We're loaded at running back, so no concern there. Minor has been serviceable the last two seasons, so it's time to see if he can step it up a notch this year like Chris Perry did in 2003.
Carlos Brown I have no faith in, but expect freshman Michael Shaw to get time and don't be surprised to see Kevin Grady get in there. Despite his DUI incident, I wouldn't but it past him to pull an Adrian Arrington, who had some offseason trouble and came back to have a stellar year in '07.
Offensive Line is a big concern especially since Corey Zirbal might be out for the year after suffering an injury during August practices. Zirbal was our top backup and might have seen significant playing time. Word is super recruit Dan O'Neil won't see playing time this year.
Defense should be outstanding and could even be the best in the Big Ten as far as I'm concerned. All OSU has is one outstanding LB in steroid freak Laurinaitas.
Donovan Warren should have a stellar season and Morgan Trent has been referred to by RichRod as the best player on the team. Our secondary is probably our best unit next to Defensive Line.
Speaking of the D-line, if Terrance Taylor has a big year, expect him to go in the first round. Tim Jamison should step it up. Brandon Grahom could become a monster after working out with strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis. No concerns on the DL unless the injury bug bites us.
Linebackers should get a big pick-me-up from Marcus Witherspoon. John Thompson should be servicable again and Obi Ezeh (Eazay!) should be awesome. Bottom line our linebackers are amazing and has a lot of depth.
Special teams, come on? Who cares? We all know Zoltan is one day going to blow up the blimp above the stadium soon.
So after all that, let's get ready for the new era!
My season prediction is 8-4, and this will be the year we beat those freaking Buckeyes!