2018 Season Predictions

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30Aug 2018
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2018 Season Predictions

Nico Collins (image via Twitter)

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LEADING RUSHER
Karan Higdon emerged from last season as the de facto starting running back, and there’s no reason to think he’ll lose that job now, especially after adding about 15 lbs. of muscle in the off-season. Chris Evans projects to be the #2 guy.
Prediction: Karan Higdon, 1100 yards

LEADING RECEIVER
The wide receiver position is a huge mess right now after the transfers of Eddie McDoom, Drake Harris, Maurice Ways, and Kekoa Crawford . . . and, oh yeah, the injury to Tarik Black’s foot. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see a tight end lead the team in receiving yards, but I’ll go with Donovan Peoples-Jones. He’s one of four healthy scholarship receivers on the roster, along with Grant Perry, Oliver Martin, Ronnie Bell, and Nico Collins.
Prediction: Donovan Peoples-Jones, 750 yards

Hit the jump for the rest of the season predictions.

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29Aug 2018
Blog, homepage 17 comments

2018 Season Countdown: #1 Shea Patterson

Shea Patterson (image via MLive)

Name: Shea Patterson
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 205 lbs.
High school: Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy
Position: Quarterback
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #2
Last year: I did not rank Patterson. He was a part-time starter at Ole Miss and was 166/260 (63.8%) for 2,259 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions.
TTB Rating: N/A

So much has been said about Patterson that there’s not much left. He was the starter at Ole Miss last year before getting injured, and then there was a whole bunch of idiocy going on at Ole Miss, and he got out of town (as did several of his teammates). He passed for 300+ yards in five out of seven games, and he had 400+ passing yards twice. In the two games where he was below 300 yards, he completed fewer than 50% of his passes, threw 0 touchdowns, and threw 5 interceptions; those games came against #1 Alabama and #18 LSU. Was that a function of those teams being very good? Was it because Ole Miss wasn’t good? Does Patterson just fold in big games? It’s hard to say.

One thing is for sure, though: there are going to be plenty of big games for Patterson to prove himself at Michigan, whether it’s Michigan State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Wisconsin, or Ohio State. I initially thought Patterson would have a great season this year with all the tools available to him, including a few good tight ends and a bunch of talented wide receivers like Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black, Eddie McDoom, Grant Perry, Nico Collins, etc. Unfortunately, McDoom transferred and Black is on the shelf with a broken foot. I think Patterson’s season may be trending downward, but if I could put him even higher on this list, I would. With every receiver that drops out of the picture, that raises the importance of having Patterson healthy. Patterson is a guy who can extend plays, which can help guys with maybe a little less talent get open. Michigan is undoubtedly going to roll out some walk-ons or young guys who aren’t quite ready, but that’s the nature of the game sometimes. I expect Michigan’s offense to evolve a little bit this year, become a little more up-tempo, and become more spread-oriented. Patterson is likely going to throw some silly interceptions and take care of the ball less than what we want as fans, but sometimes his gambles will pay off in big ways, too.

Prediction: Starting quarterback; 3100 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions

28Aug 2018
Blog, homepage 5 comments

2018 Season Countdown: #2 Khaleke Hudson

Khaleke Hudson (image via MGoBlog)

Name: Khaleke Hudson
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 220 lbs.
High school: McKeesport (PA) McKeesport
Position: Linebacker
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #7
Last year: I ranked Hudson #8 and said he would be the starting Viper with 65 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 2 interceptions (LINK). He made 83 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions (returned for 22 yards), and 9 pass breakups.
TTB Rating: 80

Hudson was probably the breakout star of the year for Michigan, at least on defense. Taking over the position of first round draft pick Jabrill Peppers, we didn’t know what we were going to see. Practice reports said he was as good as or better than Peppers. Peppers did leave some things to be desired, but that hype still seemed outlandish. But for once, the practice hype was real. Hudson started off fast and played well all year long. His game against Minnesota was an all-timer after he racked up 15 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks. Those 8 tackles for loss are a Michigan school record and tied the NCAA’s mark for that stat. (The previous school record was set by linebacker Larry Foote against Iowa in 2001.) Rashan Gary, Chase Winovich, David Long, Lavert Hill, and Shea Patterson are getting a lot of hype, but meanwhile Hudson is putting up some of the most impressive numbers of all time.

Now we head into the 2018 season with Hudson entrenched at Viper and having bulked up to 220 lbs. There’s no reason to expect anything less from him this year, except a) that would be ridiculous and b) other teams should be identifying and game planning for him. That Minnesota performance was probably a once-in-a-lifetime thing, but Hudson should still rack up some big numbers. He can cover, he can blitz, and he can stop the run. The reason he’s up here at #2 on the team is . . . we don’t know what’s behind him. Walk-on Jordan Glasgow exists, but he hasn’t shown anything to suggest he can approximate Hudson’s performance. Otherwise, Brad Hawkins, Jr. has spent some time practicing at Viper, and Michigan has moved freshman Michael Barrett from slot receiver/running back to Viper. To get the best players on the field, Michigan might have to restructure its whole defense to play more SAM-type linebackers like Noah Furbush or Joshua Uche. That would negatively impact the team’s versatility and playmaking ability.

Prediction: Starting Viper; 75 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 2 interceptions

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