Football Study Hall: Could Ole Miss upset anyone in 2017?

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3Sep 2017
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Michigan 33, Florida 17

(image via MGoBlue)

The elephant in the room. Wilton Speight doesn’t look any better than he did in the spring. He was 11/25 for 181 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. He threw more touchdowns to Florida (2) than he did to his own guys. I don’t believe this is a Jim Harbaugh thing. Harbaugh has shown elsewhere that he’s capable of coaching the quarterback position. Speight is the lone guy in Harbaugh’s history who has regressed. I hope Florida was just really good defensively – despite having 10 players suspended and a starting safety out with a torn Achilles – but I have no faith in that being the case. Speight consistently overthrows balls, a frustrating thing when guys are wide open, and a dangerous thing when guys are in traffic. I’ve seen people insisting that the first pick-six was on Kekoa Crawford, whose hands it bounced off of, but that throw was high and a tough catch. The second pick-six in the general vicinity of Grant Perry was wildly overthrown.

The hippo in the room. John O’Korn looked about the same as he did last year, too. I don’t understand yanking Speight in order to have O’Korn hand off the ball three times before punting, either. You don’t need a backup QB to hand off the ball. Speight is better with the ball handling, anyway, so that first O’Korn series was a waste, and the draw play on third down was awkward.

The armadillo in the room. I sure hope Brandon Peters gets some playing time this year.

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1Sep 2017
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Preview: Michigan vs. Florida

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Michigan finished #33 overall with 213 rushing yards/game in 2016, but leading rusher De’Veon Smith graduated. The depth chart is probably a little thinner this season, with Chris Evans, Karan Higdon, and Ty Isaac likely to share crunch-time carries. They all put up excellent yards per carry last season, with Evans leading the way. Michigan’s offensive line was #64 in Adjusted Line Yards, and they’ll be starting four guys at positions they weren’t starting at last season. Ben Bredeson returns at left guard, Mason Cole moves from center to left tackle, and there are brand new starters at center, right guard, and right tackle. It’s a concerning unit. Florida was #37 in rushing defense, giving up a little over 144 yards/game, and that’s consistent with their #36 Adjusted Line Yards ranking. Florida’s top tackler, safety Marcell Harris, is out due to injury, and the #2 guy (Jarrad Davis) was a 1st round draft pick. The top available, returning tackler is sophomore middle linebacker David Reese II (49 tackles), a one-time Michigan commit. The Gators have some talent on the starting defensive line in tackle Taven Bryan and end CeCe Jefferson, but the #2 guys at both DT spots are freshmen, and the #2 DE is suspended.
Advantage: Michigan

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1Sep 2017
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2017 Season Predictions

Tarik Black (image via MLive)

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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

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

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