Monday, August 14, 2006

Season Preview: Michigan

Last Season: 7-5 might be considered an average to decent season if you’re anybody but the winningest team in Div I history, but at Michigan it begets the winds of coaching change. For 6 straight seasons, the Wolverines have lost their first road game, giving them a dubious reputation. Last seasons with loses to Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and hated Ohio State for the 2nd straight time, the fire Lloyd Carr bandwagon was gaining momentum.

Outlook: Bad News: The line could be a question mark, but name me a Michigan team that hasn’t had an above average line. Depth is a huge concern, if Henne goes down there isn’t much to replace him, and Hart’s durability is a big question. Good News: with Henne, Hart, Breaston, and Manningham back, Michigan should have a lot of offensive punch. Gone in the 7th round of the NFL Draft is TE Massaquoi, but big target Tyler Ecker should make Wolverine fans forget him. The defense that was sporadic at times last year has a new coordinator in Ron English and a more aggressive scheme, which should lead to a better unit this year. Yeah, Michigan had 5 loses last year but it was by a grand total of 21 points, for the math impaired that’s 4.2 points per loss, not much.

Returning starters: 6
Key Losses:
WR Jason Avant – Drafted Round 4
TE Tim Massaquoi – Drafted Round 7

Key Returnees:
RB Mike Hart (662 yards, 4TD)
QB Chad Henne (2,526 yards, 23TD, 8 INT)
WR Steve Breaston (291 yards, 2 TD)
WR Mario Manningham (433 yards, 6 TD)
LT Jake Long
LG Adam Kraus

Returning starters: 6
Key Losses:
DT Gabe Watson – Drafted Round 4

Key Returnees:
DT Alan Branch (31 tackles, 5 sacks, 7 TFL)
DE LaMarr Woodley (48 tackles, 7 sacks, 14 TFL)
ILB David Harris (88 tackles, 1 sack, 6 TFL)
OLB Prescott Burgess (81 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception, 4 TFL)
CB Leon Hall (61 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 TFL, 4 INT)
SS Brandent Englemon (42 tackles, 3 TFL)

Game Outlook: Last year’s game was an instant classic. Late 4th quarter score by Michigan to take the lead, even later touchdown drive orchestrated, nay… willed by Michael Robinson only to watch an even later touchdown drive that ended on the last play of the game when Mario Manningham caught a Henne TD pass with no time on the clock; much to the dismay of Penn State fans everywhere. Last year Penn State fans waited in anticipation for Ohio State to visit Happy Valley in prime time, this year Michigan gets the honors. There will be a boatload of boisterous, happy (read drunk) fans waiting for the Wolverines this year just like OSU last year. Notre Dame will be big for Penn State but this game is circled on every fan’s calendar. Hopefully, ESPN Gameday will be there because, speaking from personal experience, it’s a load of fun. Throw out the records in this one; both teams will bring their A-game.


Anonymous said...

"Name me a Michigan team that hasn’t had an above average line"

Ok, how about last year's line for starters? That line was tied in the Big Ten for 7th in sacks allowed, 8th in 3rd down conversions, 8th in red zone offense, 6th in 4th down conversions, 9th in rushing offense, 9th in YPC average, and in 9th in scoring offense. Mind you, these are Big Ten rankings.

Galen said...


I'll concede that I was a tad overzealous with that line, but my point is, when is Michigan's line ever a weakness? Generally speaking, they do a good job of filling in. 7th in sacks allowed in the Big Ten is pretty bad, but given that they were 55th overall in total offense in the NCAA last year, I would call that average.

Anonymous said...

Michigan's best linemen kept getting hurt, it's hard to say their inexpierienced back-up players look good on paper.