2017 Season Predictions

2017 Season Predictions


September 1, 2017

Tarik Black (image via MLive)

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LEADING RUSHER
There has been talk over the past few months that there’s a race for the #1 running back spot, but so far I have yet to see evidence of that. Chris Evans and Karan Higdon are thought to be the top two by most, and some have said that Ty Isaac looks to be in the mix for #2, as well. Until I see otherwise, I’m going with the front-runner.
Prediction: Chris Evans, 900 yards

LEADING RECEIVER
This one is really a crapshoot with no returning yardage producers to speak of and a bunch of freshmen in the running to play. The top returning receiver is Grant Perry, who had some off-the-field troubles and lost jersey #9 to freshman Donovan Peoples-Jones. Peoples-Jones, Kekoa Crawford, and Tarik Black also seem likely to play a bunch. I’m going with the guy who looked best in the spring, and that was Black.
Prediction: Tarik Black, 830 yards

Hit the jump for the rest of the season predictions.


LEADING TACKLER
Middle linebacker is naturally going to be a spot that picks up a bunch of tackles, and I don’t expect that to change this season. Last year it was Ben Gedeon at the MIKE position who led the squad with 100 tackles, and this year I think it will be Devin Bush, Jr., with a slightly lower total. He’s smaller than Gedeon, but he’s quicker and a better blitzer.
Prediction: Devin Bush, Jr., 95 tackles

LEADING SACKER
Taco Charlton led the team in sacks in 2016, and I think it’s the guy replacing him who will lead this year. Chase Winovich is a relentless pass rusher with good speed to the outside and leverage to get inside. He finished second on the team in sacks last year. Rashan Gary and Maurice Hurst should also put up some decent sack numbers, and I expect Bush to get up there, too, but Winovich is my guy.
Prediction: Chase Winovich, 9 sacks

LEADING INTERCEPTOR
This one is difficult, because we haven’t seen the defensive backs play much. Lavert Hill – regarded as the guy with the best skill set – missed the spring game due to injury, and it’s not always the guy with the best skills who makes the most picks, anyway. For the latter reason, I’m going to go with David Long, who should get a few more opportunities to make plays.
Prediction: David Long, 3 interceptions

ALL-BIG TEN FIRST TEAM
Prediction: Mason Cole, Maurice Hurst, Jr.

ALL-AMERICAN
Prediction: None

LEADING SCORER (NON-KICKER)
Khalid Hill. The guy scored 13 touchdowns last year, and I see no reason to pick against him.
Prediction: Khalid Hill

BREAKOUT OFFENSIVE PLAYER
Lots of people break out the idea of Chris Evans as a breakout player, but he ran for 600 yards last year as a backup. I don’t think he’s a real breakout candidate unless he’s, like, a superstar who puts up 1,500 yards and is on the Heisman radar. I don’t think that’s happening. My breakout guy is someone who hasn’t played yet, and that’s Tarik Black. I think he’ll be a starter and lead Michigan in receiving as a true freshman.
Prediction: Tarik Black

BREAKOUT DEFENSIVE PLAYER
There are a lot of players to pick from on defense, since Michigan lost 11 starters from last season. The entire defensive line, two linebackers, and all four defensive backs are new starters. I really can’t decide between two, because I think both of them will be standouts this season: middle linebacker Devin Bush, Jr. and Viper Khaleke Hudson.
Prediction: Devin Bush, Jr. and Khaleke Hudson

MOST DISAPPOINTING OFFENSIVE PLAYER
I hate to do this, but with the way 2016 finished, with the way the 2017 spring game went, and with the questions about the 2017 offensive line, I think the quarterback is going to be under fire this year. He doesn’t have a proven running game or receivers, and Wilton Speight isn’t a guy who can win games on his own. I think it’s going to be a tough year for him, and people are going to be calling for his backup at times.
Prediction: Wilton Speight

MOST DISAPPOINTING DEFENSIVE PLAYER
While I think he’s a very important player because of a lack of depth, I think we will continue to be disappointed in Bryan Mone. He has yet to live up to his potential, he’s been out of shape at times, and he simply doesn’t produce. He can eat up double-teams, so I think the defense will be fine, but we’ll miss Ryan Glasgow.
Prediction: Bryan Mone

THE BIG FINISH
September 2 vs. Florida: WIN. I thought this was going to be a close contest, but with the distractions involving Florida (McElwain talking trash, a bunch of guys suspended, etc.), I think this is going to be a comfortable victory.

September 9 vs. Cincinnati: WIN. They weren’t good last year, and they won’t be good enough this season.

September 16 vs. Air Force: WIN. Air Force and the service academies scare me, but I think Michigan will be good enough to win comfortably after taking some early body shots.

September 23 at Purdue: WIN. I like the hiring of Brian Brohm at Purdue, but they don’t have the talent to compete right now.

October 7 vs. Michigan State: WIN. The depth chart at Michigan State is decimated. They could be anywhere from 3-9 and 6-6, but Michigan should beat them handily after getting over the hump last season.

October 14 at Indiana: WIN. Indiana hired Mike Debord as their offensive coordinator.

October 21 at Penn State: LOSS. I sure hope I’m wrong, but a game in Beaver Stadium against an explosive offense without all the injuries they suffered last year will be tough.

October 28 vs. Rutgers: WIN. Rutgers sucks.

November 4 vs. Minnesota: WIN. Another Big Ten hire I like, P.J. Fleck’s squad should put up a better fight than Purdue, but they probably won’t be a major threat just yet.

November 11 at Maryland: WIN. I’m very curious to see what Maryland’s offense looks like under whatever quarterback will be their guy this season. They have explosive running backs, but not much in the way of a passing game; and they have a decent secondary, but not much at linebacker. It seems to be an incomplete team.

November 18 at Wisconsin: WIN. I had previously pegged this game as a loss, but Wisconsin has lost a couple linebackers and I’m not believing in their offense for this season. Add in a first-year defensive coordinator, and I think Michigan squeaks by.

November 25 vs. Ohio State: LOSS. Ohio State has too much depth and experience to be overcome by Michigan’s lack of experience and, to a lesser extent, talent. Without Ohio State homer refs, the Wolverines should have a chance, but I think J.T. Barrett pushes the Buckeyes over the top.

Final record: 10-2

32 comments

  1. Comments: 904
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    Sep 01, 2017 at 7:07 AM

    Hard to imagine 10-2 with a disappointing QB, although the designation is “most disappointing” so maybe if nobody disappoints much.

    I’m hoping that Chris Evans is our most disappointing offensive player. That would likely mean that the touches got spread around everywhere and everybody got to eat their fill.

    Mone being our most disappointing defensive player could still be good for us, if it’s because even though he had no sacks and only a couple TFLs, he soaked up doubles and made life easier for our 3 techs. Pray that award doesn’t fall to a CB, or worse yet a safety. I’m getting queasy just thinking about it.

    Both Florida and Wisconsin look less daunting than they did earlier in the summer.

    Maybe Franks is the stud QB Florida has been missing. He certainly had the rep coming out. But still, redshirt freshman in his first start. Throw in all the turmoil and it’s hard to see Florida holding it together on offense when it gets tough, stout defense notwithstanding.

    Camp Randall is a way, double tough place to play. It gets LOUD!!! And I’m sure that Wisconsin has linebackers that are going to be real good because … Wisconsin. But, maybe not so soon.

    I haven’t bothered to look, but I’m hoping Penn State ain’t a night game. If it is, they go “White Out” for sure. We saw last year what happens when an embarrassed program catches a night game, fills it’s stadium with way jacked fans and comes out to play desperate football. Everybody wants to blame Speight for Iowa, and he did suck. I blame a fully jacked up Iowa defense that had had enough. Penn State is real damn tired of losing to us. You are gonna see jacked up again in that game.

    I haven’t made my mind up on the Buckeyes yet. As dumb was this sounds, I have my doubts about Urban.

    • Comments: 3181
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Sep 01, 2017 at 1:30 PM

      Yes good point. How do you get to 10-2 if Speight is disappointing? Not beating Florida and Wisconsin and every single other team you’re supposed to beat with a bad OL and disappointing QB.

      If Speight is as up and down as he was last year this is an 8-win team or worse. If he’s significantly improved they can get to 10.

  2. Comments: 23
    Joined: 8/21/2015
    AA7596
    Sep 01, 2017 at 8:20 AM

    It’s interesting how people say Penn State is tired of losing to us, but no one employs that rationale when discussing OSU-Michigan.

    Not sure how much that stuff matters. Washington lost 12 in a row to Oregon; it only ended last year when Washington had the better team. Minnesota has lost 13 straight to Wisconsin. Doesn’t matter how sick they are of it.

    Michigan will beat OSU when U-M plays a cleaner game. Penn State will beat Michigan when they block U-M up front. If they don’t, there’s no reason both streaks can’t go on indefinitely.

    • Comments: 904
      Joined: 8/13/2015
      Roanman
      Sep 01, 2017 at 1:07 PM

      Oh, I do.

      The Buckeyes were lucky to come away with a home win last year, it’s gonna take some way good luck to get out of Ann Arbor with a win this year. I think our defense will beat them up some. The question is really is Speight good enough. I’m on record as saying that it won’t be Speight by late November. If it ain’t Speight, who the hell knows on offense.

  3. Comments: 568
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Sep 01, 2017 at 10:05 AM

    If we win 10, we’ll have an All-American

    I’m with Roanman: please don’t let the disappointment come from Corner or Safety!

  4. Comments: 635
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    WindyCityBlue
    Sep 01, 2017 at 11:26 AM

    Wildly overoptimistic about Black. That would be by far the best season any freshman wide receiver has ever had here. Wiith a good but not great QB and a mediocre offensive line, that’s not likely, even given the lack of returning talent.

    It would be very disappointing if Gary did not make first team all-conference this year. That would mean we (maybe) get a couple of pretty good seasons and only one great season from a guy who was supposed to be the best DL prospect in the last 10 years, and that it took three years to develop an elite prospect into an elite player.

    This team is just not good enough to avoid losing at least one game they shouldn’t. Odds are that we will lose at least one of the games you have down as wins. Look for 9-3, and the fanboys over at Mgoblog blaming the officials for whatever trap game we lose.

    • Comments: 2083
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Sep 01, 2017 at 11:39 AM

      I disagree with that take about Gary. Ohio State has a few very good defensive ends, and with the talent they have on that team, they might get a bunch of sacks. If Bosa and Hubbard each end up with 9 sacks and on the First Team All-Big Ten, and Gary ends up with 7 sacks and on the Second Team, then I won’t be extremely disappointed.

      • Comments: 3181
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Sep 01, 2017 at 1:42 PM

        Boiling it down to sack count is dumb IMO, but I wholeheartedly agree with the point. The Big Ten is loaded with DEs that are going to go first round in the NFL. Gary can be great and still finish 2nd team.

        • Comments: 2083
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Sep 01, 2017 at 2:14 PM

          I’m not boiling it down to only that. I’m just using it as an example. Seven sacks for a sophomore is pretty good and would place him not far behind a senior who got drafted in the 1st round last year (Charlton). But sometimes other guys make 9 sacks, and sometimes those are things that the media/coaches look at when voting.

          • Comments: 635
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            WindyCityBlue
            Sep 01, 2017 at 2:48 PM

            There you go with those words again. “Pretty good”? Is that the best we can expect from Gary this year, supposedly the best Dline prospect to come along in 10 years? The guy that Don Brown say is the “best I’ve ever seen”?

            • Comments: 2083
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Sep 01, 2017 at 2:50 PM

              I try not to get drawn into arguments about our varying interpretations of the words “elite” and “pretty good” and “great” and “very good” and “bad” and “mediocre.” If you don’t agree, that’s okay.

        • Comments: 635
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          WindyCityBlue
          Sep 01, 2017 at 2:44 PM

          A. It’s not just about straight number of sacks.

          B. Even if it were, with all of the talent OSU has, their sacks should be more spread out. If two guys on that team get more sacks than Gary, that would be a disappointment too.

          C. How long do YOU think it should take this staff to develop an elite prospect to an elite playing level? Three years? Four? Seven sacks is fine. Seven sacks is good. It is not elite. Not remotely. Second team All-conference is not elite, either.

          • Comments: 2083
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Sep 01, 2017 at 2:48 PM

            For some perspective, 7 sacks would have been tied for 65th nationally in 2016, and that includes a bunch of players from lower-level schools. It’s probably fair to say that the two guys from Arkansas State who had 13 and 12.5 sacks are not necessarily performing at a higher level than a guy at Michigan who hits 7 sacks.

          • Comments: 3181
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Sep 01, 2017 at 2:55 PM

            Wormley was elite last year. He had 5.5 sacks.

        • Comments: 289
          Joined: 9/13/2015
          michymich
          Sep 01, 2017 at 2:52 PM

          Disagree. I don’t you can be great and be 2nd team. I think you can be very good and be 2nd team. Butt was very good last year. Great is Howard or Woodson. Great stands out and gets national recognition unless there is some political variable that says younger players need to wait their turn with the accolades.

          I believe Gary has the potential to be great this year but something tells me he will be very very good which will probably get him a 1st or 2nd team selection.

          • Comments: 3181
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Sep 01, 2017 at 2:55 PM

            very good, great, elite. these are arbitrary labels.

            • Comments: 635
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              WindyCityBlue
              Sep 01, 2017 at 3:06 PM

              No, they aren’t. You use them all the time to describe players, as does just about everyone else here, and you have a good idea what you mean when you (or someone else) apply one and not the other to a particular player. The fact that everyone does not agree perfectly on who is elite, or that there is not a 100% hard and fast numerical threshold to earn that label doesn’t remotely equate to “arbitrary”.

              • Comments: 289
                Joined: 9/13/2015
                michymich
                Sep 01, 2017 at 6:53 PM

                For future reference on my descriptions.

                Great: Howard, Carter, Woodson, Graham, Law, Harris, Gold, Hoard, Biakabutuka, Wheatley Sr, Harbaugh, Long, Manningham, Woodley, Welbourne.

                Very Very good: Grbac, Butt, Terrell, Dhani Jones, Hart, Bunch, Anthony Thomas, McGee, Sam Sword, Ray.

                Very good. Brady, Denard Robinson, Gallon, Perry, Lewan, Molk, Tuman, Street, Jamie Morris.

                How about that?

            • Comments: 3181
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Sep 01, 2017 at 5:54 PM

              People using them all the time equates to good understanding? Nope.

              If you put 20 UM fans to an exercise of grouping 100 players into these categories you’d come up with 20 different answers. Not about not being 100% it’s about no two people reaching the same result.

              Moreover, even if you had 100% agreement, it would still be arbitrary because there is no criteria/rules/absolutes for what is “good” or “elite”.

              Joe Flacco!

    • Comments: 2083
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Sep 01, 2017 at 11:50 AM

      Also regarding Black, Mario Manningham didn’t have that good of numbers, but Manningham didn’t enroll early and wasn’t a starter to begin his career. Black enrolled early and is pegged by many (not just me) as a starter. Maybe it is optimistic, but 27 catches for 400-some yards is a low expectation for a starting wide receiver. Unless, of course, you don’t think Black will start, which is fair.

      • Comments: 289
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        michymich
        Sep 01, 2017 at 2:56 PM

        The most amazing thing about all the projections this year is that somehow the wr’s are not going to excel. It seems like it’s only Crawford who is a blocking wr with limited upside and Perry who is a slot who moves the chains and the new guys are too young.

        These guys have been working all summer and spring together. Overly pessimistic. I am not worried about the wr corp at all. They will be good to start off with and improve to be a force by the end of the season.

    • Comments: 3181
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Sep 01, 2017 at 1:40 PM

      It’s optimistic, but not wildly so. There’s a pretty decent chance that one of our freshman WRs has the best freshman season by a Michigan WR ever. The opportunity is there.

      • Comments: 635
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        WindyCityBlue
        Sep 01, 2017 at 2:52 PM

        “Pretty decent chance”? What does that mean? What is it based on other than wishful thinking and practice buzz? He’s still a true freshman, with all of the limitations that entails. The fact that there is no one to start ahead of him will not make him better.

        • Comments: 3181
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 01, 2017 at 3:01 PM

          It’s based on logic.

          80% of receiving yards gone (I made that number up but you get the point)

          the returning players haven’t done anything yet (something you were keen on pointing out all offseason)

          early enrollees with massive clouds of spring AND summer hype

          elite recruiting rankings (something you love)

          elite athleticism

          requisite size to excel at outside WR where no other big receivers return (save career backup Ways)

          an expected shift to more pro-style (i.e., pass-heavy)

          a veteran QB who was one of the best in the conference last year

          • Comments: 635
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            WindyCityBlue
            Sep 01, 2017 at 3:24 PM

            “80% of receiving yards gone (I made that number up but you get the point)” Assumes without evidence that we will have as many receiving yards this year as we did last year, when we had three NFL draftees hauling in passes. Not logical.

            “the returning players haven’t done anything yet (something you were keen on pointing out all offseason).” Again, assumes without evidence that we will have a certain minimum number of receiving yards no matter who we throw out there, and that if the returning players don’t get them, someone else will have to. Not logical.

            “early enrollees with massive clouds of spring AND summer hype. ” As I said, practice buzz and wishful thinking. Not logical.

            “elite recruiting rankings (something you love)” Which guarantee nothing for any individual player, and even if Black had that (he didn’t), even less is guaranteed for a true freshman. Not logical

            “elite athleticism” Oh, and did I forget to point out that, according to you, “elite” is an arbitrary label? But know you’re trying to use it in an argument as if it has some sort of recognized meaning. Very not logical.

            “requisite size to excel at outside WR where no other big receivers return (save career backup Ways). ” Inches of height = nothing guaranteed wrt receiving yards. Not logical.

            “an expected shift to more pro-style (i.e., pass-heavy).” Expected based on what? Did Harbaugh pinky swear it? Not logical.

            “a veteran QB who was one of the best in the conference last year. ” A guy who has started one year, was good but not great, was third best in a weak QB conference, and was only that with his three top targets all NFL draftees. Not logical

            • Comments: 3181
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Sep 01, 2017 at 5:46 PM

              The things you are saying are assumed, are not assumed in the quoted text. Where do you get this stuff from?

              Nobody said anything was guaranteed. What we’re debating is your argument that this is crazy/infeasible. You, of course, want to turn this into a strawman about guarantees.

              Then you grip for me using “elite” right before quibbling between “good” and “not great”.

              Whatever dude. Have fun hating the team you follow on the eve of football season. I’m going to enjoy my Christmas Eve.

              Tarik Black or DPJ may or may not break the freshman receiving records at Michigan. Maybe they both will. Hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

              Go Blue!

        • Comments: 3181
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 01, 2017 at 3:04 PM

          It likely WILL make the freshman better. More coaching attention. More motivation/reward.

          You are right that it guarantees nothing. You are wrong that it is wild optimistic. The context here matters. Opportunity + talent.

    • Comments: 13
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      canzior
      Sep 01, 2017 at 3:11 PM

      Black could hit 800, because unlike prior frosh WR’s he’s starting and a top 2 target. Also…12-15 games to get it in, vs 10/11 not that long ago.
      Gary can still be elite in every facet, but someone not as good, can rack up sacks and get the lion share of press coverage. Do you know how many missed tackles any of the sack leaders had last year? Me either…Let’s say Gary never gives up the edge or gets pancaked, and makes all his assignments properly, and has 7 sacks…that still makes him elite, even if OSU racks up stats by playing starters in the 4th qtr vs MAC teams as they are aught to do.

      Not sure you can accurately say if this team is good enough to win all the games they should…yet. Assume the team takes a collective step forward this year, from 3 losses on last minute plays by 5 points, what’s the next step forward. Winning close games is a team mindset. Looking at football team progressions, it goes from losing close games, to winning close games, to dominating. This team wins close games this year…next year huge step forward.

      • Comments: 3181
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Sep 02, 2017 at 1:26 PM

        what teams have taken that progression? I’m not convinced that’s true. A lot of teams have lucky years – win a bunch of close ones, then proceed to losing a bunch of close ones. 2011 michigan comes to mind.

  5. Comments: 3181
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Sep 01, 2017 at 1:26 PM

    I think Hill’s rushing TD numbers will go down by a good bit.

    • Comments: 289
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Sep 01, 2017 at 2:48 PM

      Agree.

  6. Comments: 113
    Joined: 12/24/2016
    INTJohn
    Sep 01, 2017 at 6:32 PM

    After the Seminoles upset Bama 2maro nite, OSU will move into the top spot where they will remain till they arrive in Ann Arbor – setting up a game that is eerily similar to one I saw in 1969……..

    ……..and by the time of that game’s kikoff, Michigan will no longer be inexperienced and Michigan will upset the Buckeyes; going on to win the B10 Championship having earned a place in the playoffs where my ultimate football dream becomes a Reality:
    To watch both my alma maters; the Florida State Seminoles and the Michigan Wolverines play a 1 point thriller for the FBS Football Championship. (last years Orange Bowl being a forerunner/ precurser of what lies ahead)
    Thanx………….INTJohn
    PS – I’m so jakt for tomorrows games!!!

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