2016 Season Predictions

2016 Season Predictions

September 1, 2016
Jourdan Lewis 311x

Jourdan Lewis

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This one doesn’t leave much to the imagination. Michigan’s leading rusher from last season returns, and nothing that happened this off-season suggests that he will lose his mantle as Michigan’s top back. Unless a serious injury befalls him, it will be . . .
Prediction: De’Veon Smith, 870 yards

Last year I had Amara Darboh with 650 yards, and I was a little low with that yardage total. He also lost out late in the season to Jehu Chesson, who became a big-time deep threat down the stretch. There’s talk that Darboh is the #1 receiver and has stepped up this fall, but I don’t expect him to change much from his redshirt junior season to his redshirt senior year.
Prediction: Jehu Chesson, 900 yards

Hit the jump for the rest of the season predictions.

Middle linebacker is the standard pick for leading tackler unless there are questions about the depth chart. In this case, Ben Gedeon has to be The Man at middle linebacker. He won’t be setting records with his tackle totals, but I do expect him to lead in this category.
Prediction: Ben Gedeon, 80 tackles

Michigan’s leading sack artists last season were tackle/end hybrids Chris Wormley and Willie Henry with 6.5 each. I think that total goes up this year, but Henry is gone and Wormley will probably stay right about where he is. The guy who should lead the team in sacks this season is weakside end Taco Charlton, who has lost some weight and should be a little quicker.
Prediction: Taco Charlton, 9 sacks

Michigan’s move to more zone coverage should be helpful for the safeties to create turnovers. With good corners underneath, quarterbacks will have to try to force balls into tight windows, causing tips and overthrows. I think free safety Dymonte Thomas will be the biggest beneficiary.
Prediction: Dymonte Thomas, 4 interceptions

Prediction: Jake Butt, Jehu Chesson, Jourdan Lewis, Jabrill Peppers

Prediction: Jake Butt, Jourdan Lewis

Michigan used wide receiver Jehu Chesson in multiple ways last season, and he scored as a receiver, runner, and kick returner. I think that will continue this season, and he should have a big year.
Prediction: Jehu Chesson

It’s difficult to pick a breakout offensive player, because everyone except Jake Rudock, A.J. Williams, Graham Glasgow, and the fullbacks return. I have a pretty good feeling that Wilton Speight will be the starting quarterback, and while I haven’t been high on him, any Jim Harbaugh quarterback has a good chance of becoming a standout player. If he’s the QB, I pick him. If it’s John O’Korn, I pick O’Korn. If it’s Uncle Rico, I pick him.
Prediction: The QB (Wilton Speight)

The Wolverines need to replace all the linebackers, the weakside end, a safety, and Willie Henry on defense. I’m not sure that Rashan Gary will truly break out as a freshman since he’s a defensive lineman, though I think he will be good. I’m torn between weakside end Taco Charlton and free safety Dymonte Thomas. Both will play more, and both should flourish in this defense. Since I think Charlton kind of had a breakout last season (8.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks), I’ll pick Thomas.
Prediction: Dymonte Thomas

A huge onus is going to be placed on the offensive line this year, since it’s a very experienced unit. Left guard Ben Braden, right guard Kyle Kalis, and right tackle Erik Magnuson all return to their old positions, and left tackle Mason Cole moves to center. The one remaining spot (left tackle) should be filled by either sophomore Grant Newsome or freshman Ben Bredeson. Despite the inexperience at the blindside tackle, I think fans will be most disappointed in Kalis at right guard. I predicted him to be named Second Team All-Big Ten because it’s kind of a lifetime achievement award, but I think he has pretty much maxed out his potential. Five years after stealing a sure-fire star from Ohio State, Michigan fans might be left wanting more out of that deal.
Prediction: Kyle Kalis

Over the last ten years, it seems like Michigan fans are perennially disappointed by middle linebacker play. Except for Jake Ryan – who had some glitches at MIKE in 2014 – the likes of Obi Ezeh, Kenny Demens, Joe Bolden, Desmond Morgan, etc. have all come in for lots of criticism. New middle linebacker Ben Gedeon came in with lots of promise, but he couldn’t beat out Bolden and has admittedly missed some plays that he should have made. The griping out middle linebackers won’t disappear until the next David Harris arrives, and I don’t think Gedeon is David Harris.
Prediction: Ben Gedeon

September 3 vs. Hawaii: WIN. Hawaii allowed 47 points to Cal, and they’re not going to score 21 against Michigan.

September 10 vs. Central Florida: WIN. They were terrible last year.

September 17 vs. Colorado: WIN. I can’t wait for all the replays of the 1994 game, but it’s unlikely to happen again.

September 24 vs. Penn State: WIN. Penn State has some good players, including a couple good running backs, but Michigan’s defense should be able to shut them down.

October 1 vs. Wisconsin: WIN. I was originally nervous about getting Wisconsin back on the schedule, because they’re a consistently tough team. But they lost their defensive coordinator, and the offense isn’t what it was under Bret Bielema and Gary Anderson.

October 8 at Rutgers: WIN. I actually think Rutgers is headed in the right direction with Chris Ash, but they won’t be a big threat this year.

October 22 vs. Illinois: WIN. I recently watched a replay of Illinois last year, and that was ugly. Again, I like the hire of Lovie Smith and think they’ll be well coached, but their recruiting has been pretty bad in recent years.

October 29 at Michigan State: WIN. The Spartans took a step back last year, and I don’t think they’re ready to take another step forward. They might have missed their window to be great, and they got pounded by Alabama. Michigan essentially had them beaten last year, even though the Wolverines didn’t play great.

November 5 vs. Maryland: WIN. I like the direction Maryland is going, but they won’t be able to run the ball and don’t have the quarterback play to be able to score points on a team like Michigan.

November 12 at Iowa: WIN. The Hawkeyes’ 2015 season was pretty magical when they went 12-2, surprising almost everyone. However, their record was better than their team as a whole, and I think they’ll come back to Earth. It won’t be an easy win, but it should be a victory for Michigan.

November 19 vs. Indiana: WIN. The Hoosiers seem to scare a lot of people every year, and Kevin Wilson is a great offensive coach. They rarely beat Michigan, though, and I don’t think it will happen this year, either.

November 26 at Ohio State: LOSS. Maybe the Buckeyes are just in my head, but I don’t see Michigan beating them at Ohio State. It’s a tough environment to play, and Urban Meyer – who lost a lot of talent from last year – will be building that team up all year. Meanwhile, Michigan starts with an experience advantage at the beginning of the year, and the only direction they can go is down if people start getting injured like they did last year.

Final record: 11-1


  1. Comments: 1356
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Sep 01, 2016 at 6:05 AM

    I think Ty Isaac breaks out this year and out gains Smith by less than 50 for around 1500 total yards between them as Michigan features a two headed running back with a lot of guys getting carries.

    On defense, I’m picking the other inside LB, McCray as both our leading tackler and breakout player. Nobody is going to threaten any season records for anything on defense this year because of our balance and depth.

    I think we run the table. Jim Harbaugh has won in Columbus and we’re due. I worry about Maryland, even at home ….. that there is a classic trap situation and we could be beat up. Always remember and never forget, against Sparty it’s only about the hitting.

  2. Comments: 24
    Joined: 9/30/2015
    Sep 01, 2016 at 8:36 AM

    I think we get tripped up at Kinnick and then run the table.

    ohio state lost 75% of their offensive production from last year, barrett is an injury away from ohio state losing 100% of their offense from last year. their road schedule isn’t a cake walk either, they have very little experience on offense. sparty can go into the toilet seat and beat them but Harbaugh can’t? Bull fritters!

    • Comments: 3844
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Sep 01, 2016 at 9:35 AM

      I didn’t say Harbaugh CAN’T go to OSU and win. I just said that I don’t think he will do so this year.

  3. Comments: 22
    Joined: 8/20/2015
    Sep 01, 2016 at 9:01 AM

    I don’t get why everyone is picking OSU over MI. Wait…I take that back, I do get it…but come on man. I think we’re more likely to lose to Iowa or something stupid like PSU or WIS on accident. I just think that with what happened at MSU, that game is almost a lock to win (which you have, I’m not arguing) and then with our struggles and the amount of people OSU lost….I’m good with 11-1, but I think we beat both MSU and OSU.

    I also think we murder MSU….like 42-17 type murdering

    OSU is a close game, but we pull that out and continue onto the playoff!

    • Comments: 14
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Sep 01, 2016 at 9:06 AM

      I agree with that about OSU. Kinda the same argument with MSU…you can’t lose NFL talent and not expect a drop off. It’s almost unreasonable to think that you have NFL guys leave and in 3 months the previous back-ups will be the same level of talent as the guys they replaced. Statistically, they may be. MSU qb’s might put up the same numbers, because someone has to throw the ball, but he difference will be whether or not he can make the crucial throw, avoid the crucial sack etc. You see things in 2 or 3 years that 1st year starters will inevitably miss. I think the difference this year will be the number of seniors on the team. I think that gives M the slight edge over OSU in Nov.

      • Comments: 3844
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Sep 01, 2016 at 9:34 AM

        I do expect Ohio State to have a dropoff, but to what degree? They’re a national championship-caliber team, and they beat us by 29 points last year. It’s a toss-up game, IMO.

        • Comments: 55
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Sep 01, 2016 at 10:01 AM

          And they’re extremely talented, well-coached, and have 11 games to tune up.

      • Comments: 1364
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Sep 01, 2016 at 10:19 AM

        Don’t forget, OSU lost a ton of talent after 2013, too. Everyone thought they were too young in 2014 and a year away, but they won a NC anyway, and did it with their third string QB. That’s what Meyer does..he recruits elite talent at every position on the field, develops it quickly, and has a very low percentage of busts. That’s what everyone has seen from him, and that’s why they’re still picking them over us.

  4. Comments: 49
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Blue in NC
    Sep 01, 2016 at 9:28 AM

    Very agreeable with your predictions with one exception:
    I am surprised to see no DL or OL on the All B1G team. T
    True, Michigan has balance on the DL and the OL may be just average, but between Cole, other experienced OL and all of the standouts on DL, I think at least one, maybe two place on the all conference team.
    For me, I expect that Taco will (barring injury) have a big year and be on there. Also Wormley may have a good shot if he plays much of the season at the 3 tech.

    • Comments: 3844
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Sep 01, 2016 at 9:33 AM

      It wouldn’t surprise me to see a couple defensive linemen on the First Team (out of Charlton, Wormley, Glasgow), but I don’t necessarily expect it. There’s a lot of depth, and none has shown the ability to put up impressive enough numbers to be likely to end up on the first team. On the offensive line, there aren’t any standouts. Maybe Cole gets there, but it’s his first time playing center. I can see a couple guys getting Second Team just for their longevity, but First Team guys are usually true standouts.

      • Comments: 92
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Sep 01, 2016 at 10:53 AM

        My only quibble is on Charlton and sacks. With the early season schedule I think he builds up his stats. Easy double digits and leads the team with 13 – 15.

        BTW I saw Uncle Rico play and if he played for harbaugh, forget it. Guy had a cannon.

        As always thanks for giving your opinion and letting us agree/hammer you.

      • Comments: 6285
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Sep 01, 2016 at 12:39 PM

        Do they ever put 2 OCs on the all-conference team? If so, this might be a year to do that.

      • Comments: 359
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Sep 01, 2016 at 2:21 PM

        Of the DL with a shot, I think if Wormley stays healthy he is the guy who will get recognized. He may not be head and shoulders more productive than Glasgow, Taco and Mone but they sometimes give a group award to an individual.

    • Comments: 6285
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Sep 01, 2016 at 12:40 PM

      I agree about the DL. Michigan may not have just 1 standout guy but if their DL is as dominant as we all expect them to be there is no way they won’t get one guy there. Wormley is the best bet but it could be Glasgow, Charlton, even Hurst.

  5. Comments: 24
    Joined: 9/30/2015
    Sep 01, 2016 at 11:44 AM

    I totally understand why the majority of those giving season predictions are calling for a loss in the toilet seat…. After the last 15 years we’ve all had our hopes up so many times only to have them dashed.

    That being said, a very thin ohio state team will have 11 games to get tuned up (i bet they drop 2 of those 11).

    Jimmy and staff will have 11 games of film to pick apart. We start the season with a more experienced team and will also have 11 games to get tuned up. From a coaching perspective, I like our staff having 11 games to focus on attacking the inexperienced teams weaknesses vs. a lesser experienced teams ability to make game time adjustments.
    I think we drop a game that we are expected to win (PSU, WS or IA) and it serves as a wake up call, dialing in the focus and running the table.
    GO BLUE!

  6. Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Sep 01, 2016 at 1:50 PM

    The predictions are more reasonable and rationale than ever, I must say. I don’t have too many quibbles, but I do have some thoughts that differ from the consensus.

    QB Underrated: Rudock Overrated: Speight
    Speight should do fine, but I don’t think he’s going to come close to 2nd half Rudock. Rudock carried the team in the second half of last year. I don’t think Speight can do that yet, but luckily he won’t have to. I expect the offense to rely far more heavily on the run game. Brian Cook asserted the Speight will have more experience than Rudock had because he’s been in the system for over a year. OK, but that doesn’t replace the actual game experience Rudock had as a starter. You saw that manifest when he was under constant duress against OSU but kept Michigan in the game. I can’t see a “breakout” year from a guy that is unlikely to be a top 4 QB in the conference, but that word may be subject to interpretation.

    RB Underrated: Smith, Isaac, & Evans. Overrated: Isaac and every freshman.
    All of the projected top 3 above are going to look good this year. Smith will rush for 1,000 yards and approach 5ypc. Isaac will beat him in YPC and get plenty of work protecting leads. Evans will make us drool. But Isaac isn’t going to beat out Smith no matter how many Shane Morris lessons people want to ignore. As for the freshman – RB is a position where you either have it or you don’t. Evans has it. The others…

    WR Underrated: Chesson, Freshman, Fisch Overrated: Darboh, Ways, Perry,
    I think Ways and Perry got their roles a bit by default because Hoke WR recruiting was mostly bad. They are competent placeholders who will be passed over by the talented “class of slots” who are mostly not. Chesson may be a breakout player if you weren’t paying attention to the 2nd half of last year. Darboh is a high end college player but isn’t nearly as talented as Chesson and won’t get drafted. Jeff Fisch deserves a ton of credit for what Chesson has become – a top 5 WR in the country.

    TE Underrated: None Overrated: Butt, Wheatley
    I think our TEs are excellent, like everyone else, but Butt isn’t 1st team all american. He might not even be the best TE in the conference. He’s one dimensional. So good at that one dimension that he’s a great player, but not as good as some seem to think. Wheatley looks like a prototype and everyone is excited about him, but Michigan badly needs a dominant blocking TE or else it’s going to continue to use a 6th OLmen. It seems like Wheatley is too young to be an excellent blocker – ditto for Asiasi.

    FB Underrated: All Overrated: None
    Hill’s versatility is going to be a huge asset IMO. I think we’ll see plays drawn up for him that messup defenses. Poggi is a limited player but he got all those snaps for a reason last year. The walk-ons will probably play a lot and not look like THAT much of a step down from Houma & Kerridge as blockers.

    OL Underrated: The entire starting unit, Magnuson Overrated: The depth
    My thing about OL is that experience, continuity and familiarity are way more important than talent. Saw that with Rodriguez & Hoke: 2010-2012. Scheme changes really mess up the OL. Michigan’s OL will be dramatically improved this year in the run game. Pass protection will likely take a step back because Speight ain’t Rudock experience and awareness-wise, but run blocking will be Year-2-Drevno’d. Magnuson is legit and a big reason why pass protection was excellent last year. He may be all conference. He may switch to LT if the freshman and should-be-freshman don’t work.

    DL Underrated: Godin, Wormley, Winovich Overrated: Charlton, Gary
    I buy the argument that Charlton is going to bust out. I do. But there is a reason Durkin chose to start RJS and Ross over him at WDE last year. I don’t expect all-conference level sack totals, but I do expect excellence. Gary should be really good too, but on this DL he’s just going to be another guy because the whole damn unit is stacked. Wormley is just a monster that people aren’t mentioning enough. He may be the highest drafted Wolverine.

    LB: I’m with the consensus here. Too much uncertainty from personnel (McCray, depth), coaching (rookie position coach), and scheme (1st year under Brown). Everyone is guessing, and crossing their fingers. I do think Gedeon will be a lot better than people think. Peppers should be great, but I don’t see a Heisman invite coming personally. Optimistic here, but it’s the one unit to fret about.

    CB Underrated: Stribling Overrated: Lewis
    Lewis is great BUT. He was targeted so often for a reason. People think they can beat him and sometimes they did. MSU, OSU, Florida all had some success on him. Lewis dominates lesser competition but can be beaten by the best which is why he isn’t a sure-fire NFL first-rounder. Stribling and Clark are clearly a step below, but both were legit starting-caliber big ten corners. Neither was picked on (except for Clark against Indiana) which is saying something opposite Lewis. I think people are forgetting that Stribling started over Clark until he got hurt last year. Clark didn’t win the job so much as get it due to the injury. Both started against Florida.

    Stribling’s been locked as a starter all offseason. He was underrated last year (people were worried) and he’s being underrated again this year (he’s going to be excellent).

    Safety Underrated: Hill Overrated: Depth
    Totally in on Thomas as a breakout player, but I think Hill is really good too. Either one could be an all-conference player and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit. I’m not sold that seeing Kinnel wouldn’t be a big drop-off. Maybe even Peppers since he’s spent his time elsewhere.

    Special teams Underrated: Nordin, Baxter Overrated: Allen as K
    Allen’s one of the most important players on the team and his versatility is truly impressive. He shouldn’t do all 3 jobs though, and I expect Nordin to handle kickoffs and long FGs. Special teams will regress this year, and maybe even be an achilles heel.


    As for the overall record I’m going 12-0. I know that’s fighting the math. I know that’s homerism. I know that 3-game road gauntlet to end the season is tough, especially coming into it untested. Still. I’ve never seen a Michigan team with this much talent and legit star in Peppers and a coaching staff this good. The defense reminds me of the 2000 offense in terms of star power, talent, and experience. The offense has some questions (QB, OL, FB) but none of them are really worrying and there are NFL players all over the skill positions. With some impact freshman (and Peppers) the offense should be much better. Even with all that, perhaps the most impressive thing is the depth this team has. Theres a competent replacement lined up at every position (OC and ILB excepted) meaning this team can ride through the inevitable attrition that will happen over the season.

    This team has a very high floor and, with Harbaugh, a very high ceiling. I won’t predict a national championship but I think they can get through the Big 10 undefeated. Iowa and MSU will be tough, but neither team has Michigan’s talent or experience. OSU is scary – their talent, coaching, and JT Barrett are all exceptional enough to offset some inexperience — but this team is going to be ready for challenge and will poke at every feasible deficiency OSU has until they find.

    Here’s to a historic season. Go Blue.

  7. Comments: 24
    Joined: 9/30/2015
    Sep 01, 2016 at 2:59 PM

    For all the concern about our QB….. Tim Tebow won two nation championships and a heisman….. he can’t get a job as a back up in the NFL. A strong team with a capable QB that doesn’t lose the game for you is enough. I think our O-line is a bigger concern than our QB. If the O-line has improved enough to allow a productive running game and decent protection, I like Wilt’s chances of having a really solid season.

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