Michigan Football: 4 Bold Predictions for This Season
The Michigan Wolverines open up season number 132 on Saturday against Western Michigan.
Frankly, the anticipation is killing me.
Michigan has started back to back seasons with a 5-0 record, but finished last season with just two wins in their last eight contests, including a bowl loss.
This season looks to be a bit different.
The former spread offense is replaced by the pro-style offense, the 3-3-5 defense being replaced by the 4-3 base defense, and the seniors leading the team out of the tunnel.
Michigan will live and die with their defense, as Brady Hoke made it known that his defense would be his prime focus.
Although the offense will probably not be a top five offense this year, Hoke's offense will be a much appreciated return to the power running game.
Season openers present interesting challenges for head coaches as they must decide how much of their offensive playbook they will open up.
Although nobody knows what Saturday's game will look like, this slideshow will will make four bold predictions for the Wolverines season.
1. The Defense Gives Up an Average of 280 Yards a Game
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Trounced: the state of Michigan's defense last year.
Ever been hit by a car?
Michigan got hit by "cars" every week it seemed like.
In short, Michigan was 108th in total defense given up last season.
They gave up 450 yards per game last season.
They were 98th in sacks defensively, getting just 1.2 sacks per game.
They were dead last in the Big Ten in yards against and passing yards against, giving up over 260 yards per game.
Well, good news everybody: Rich Rodriguez will never run his offense or "defense" again!
Additionally, Greg Mattison (who spent the last three years coaching the Baltimore Ravens to a top three defense in the NFL) is the new defensive coordinator.
Bringing back the 4-3 defense will likely help in getting more pressure up front, both in stuffing the opposing teams running game and pressuring the quarterback in the passing game.
Look for Michigan to give up an average of 280 yards a game this season.
2. Michigan's Power Rushing Game Averages 150 Yards a Game
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Michael Shaw, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Vincent Smith and Stephen Hopkins will all see action at some point this season.
The question is: how much time will each player see on the field?
Regardless of the answer, one thing is for certain.
Brady Hoke will be calling on the "buffet busters" also known as the offensive line, to lead Michigan to a dominating power running game this year instead of a speed game.
Hoke will look to set the tone early in the season, likely calling run-heavy drives to start the game. Hoke will look to eat up some clock time, slow down his offense and set the tempo that he feels is right for them.
Look for him to give Shaw and Toussaint a steady diet of carries throughout the first half and even more throughout the second half.
The yardage that Michigan accumulates this season will be gained largely on the ground, upwards of 150 yards a game.
Oh, and then there is whatever Denard Robinson accumulates scrambling down field.
Most of us know what he can do there.
3. Michigan Finishes the Season Plus 10 in the Turnover Margin
"He had no idea that Charles Woodson could jump 15 feet in the air"
Remember when Michigan's defense used to be dominant?
I'm not just talking about players like Charles Woodson, Brandon Graham, David Harris or others.
I'm talking about legitimately shutting teams down.
Well this season, bold prediction number three may just be too bold for some people.
Plus 10 in turnovers?
Yeah, they can do it.
Michigan was tied for 109th in the NCAA last season with a minus 10 turnover margin.
But with the power running game, there is less chance of Denard Robinson throwing an ill-timed ball down field in no one's particular direction.
Given, Robinson did hit 62 percent of his passes last season, a sign that he can play in the pro offense if he has to throw out of the pocket.
But slowing the game down is what will give Michigan a distinct advantage in the turnover department.
Who wants to be rushing around on the field trying to score in 30 seconds when you can be munching time and marching the ball down the field with a power run game?
Look for a distinct turn around in the turnover department.
4. Michigan Will MAKE 75 Percent of Their Field Goals
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Michigan successfully kicked 28.6 percent of field goals it attempted last year.
That's... how do I say this?
Of course, having a walk-on kicker didn't help matters, but it creates a difficult situation.
Michigan's missed field goals made Rich Rodriguez think twice about kicking.
More often than not he would go for it, and Michigan turned the ball over on downs, when (with a successful kicker) they could have put up three points via a field goal.
This season, look for freshman Matt Wile to knock through at least 75 percent of his attempts.
According to MGoBlue.com, Wile was 10 for 13 in field goals in high school. He has distance, as 91 of his 101 kickoffs went into the end zone as well.
Keys to the Season
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As opposed to seasons with Rich Rodriguez heading up Michigan, this season promises to be dominated by special teams and defense.
Michigan's games will likely be closer, but that does not mean that Michigan will have an easier year.
Adjusting an offense and a defense and bringing players in to new roles and into new systems will create havoc to start the season.
Having said that, it's a good thing Michigan has five home games to start the season.
Don't expect the season to be a cake walk, but on the subject of bold predictions, I expect an eight win season.
As far as bold predictions go, this year's game against "that team from Ohio" will be a lot closer with Pryor gone to the NFL.
Michigan's season will hinge on the abilities to run the ball and chew time on offense.
If they can do this somewhat successfully, Michigan's defense should be well rested and ready to go.
Get hype, Go Blue and let's make this season a memorable one for the right reasons.
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