2020 Season Predictions

2020 Season Predictions


October 24, 2020
Daxton Hill (image via Maize ‘n’ Brew)

It’s 2020 and nobody knows anything, so here are my wild guesses for what we’ll see this year.

LEADING RUSHER
Zach Charbonnet led the team in rushing as a true freshman last year with 729 yards. I do think Chris Evans will steal some of his carry share from last year, with Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum lurking, but Charbonnet should get the plurality of the opportunities.
Prediction: Zach Charbonnet, 498 yards

Hit the jump for the rest of the prognostications.

LEADING RECEIVER
Nico Collins would have been my pick again this year – even though I was wrong to pick him in 2019 – because I think Collins would have been a better fit with Joe Milton throwing him the ball. Now that last year’s leader, Ronnie Bell, is moving outside, I think his target share will go down and he will get less separation. So I’m settling on Giles Jackson, because who knows?
Prediction: Giles Jackson, 502 yards

LEADING TACKLER
Sam Webb talks about Michael Barrett having better measurables than Khaleke Hudson, but I don’t know if Barrett is a better football player than Hudson. So I can’t go with the replacement Viper here. I’m going to go with the WILL linebacker here.
Prediction: Josh Ross, 63 tackles

LEADING SACKER
Kwity Paye is considered by some to a future first round pick. I don’t think he’s a sack artist, but I have seen some pretty bad offensive line play in the early going of 2020, so maybe he can take advantage.
Prediction: Kwity Paye, 6.5 sacks

LEADING INTERCEPTOR
Until Michigan’s cornerbacks can prove they can hold steady on the outside, I expect teams to attack the inexperienced players there. That should give them some chances to make plays, but I haven’t seen the ball skills yet from Vincent Gray to think he can actually reel in much in the way of interceptions. So I’m going with the hyper-talented guy in the middle of the field, Daxton Hill.
Prediction: Daxton Hill, 2 interceptions

ALL-BIG TEN FIRST TEAM
Prediction: Jalen Mayfield, Daxton Hill

ALL-AMERICAN
Prediction: None

LEADING SCORER (NON-KICKER)
Prediction: Zach Charbonnet

BREAKOUT OFFENSIVE PLAYER
Joe Milton is probably the obvious choice, but I don’t know if I trust him yet to be a breakout compared to the rest of the league. The running backs have already broken out, leaving offensive linemen and receivers. I’ll give one of each. I think Andrew Stueber is going to a really good offensive guard, and I think Giles Jackson is going to lead the team in receiving, so those are my two.
Prediction: Andrew Stueber, Giles Jackson

BREAKOUT DEFENSIVE PLAYER
Daxton Hill didn’t really have a breakout season in 2019 despite playing quite a bit and being a superstar recruit. So he would be my pick. If I have to go deeper, I’ll say that I think D.J. Turner II is going to be the second corner. I don’t think he’ll be a star, but emerging from the fray at corner is . . . something.
Prediction: Daxton Hill, D.J. Turner II

MOST DISAPPOINTING OFFENSIVE PLAYER
I have to stick to my guns here and place faith in my analysis of Joe Milton. I was not excited about either quarterback going into the season (Dylan McCaffrey or Milton), and it would take a monumental leap for Milton to go from the #3 guy to an improvement over Shea Patterson, which is what I think a lot of people want. I do think Milton will do some things better than Patterson (throw the ball downfield and keep the ball on zone reads more often), but I don’t see the bad decisions and skittish feet being fixed in one off-season.
Prediction: Joe Milton

MOST DISAPPOINTING DEFENSIVE PLAYER
The defense is pretty solidified on the front end, and nobody expects much from the corners. So this is a tough pick. I’m going to go with kind of an unconventional choice and say Luiji Vilain. He’s been injured early in his career, but I think some people are expecting him to emerge here in year four as an edge rusher, and I didn’t see anything from him in 2019 that gave me hope.
Prediction: Luiji Vilain

THE BIG FINISH

October 24 @ Minnesota: WIN. Minnesota is a solid team, but sometimes I think these “ascending” teams hit a bumpy season before getting over the top. I think 2020 might be a rocky road for the Gophers, despite Bateman’s return.

October 31 vs. Michigan State: WIN. The Wolverines are in a much better place in all facets of the game.

November 7 @ Indiana: WIN. Michigan just seems to win against Indiana, regardless.

November 14 vs. Wisconsin: WIN. Wisconsin has had a good run, but they might run out of luck here in 2020. Their starting quarterback might be out for a while, and I don’t know if they have another superstar running back quite ready to take over this year. Since the game is in Ann Arbor, I’m picking the Wolverines.

November 21 @ Rutgers: WIN. Rutgers is bad.

November 28 vs. Penn State: LOSS. Michigan has to stumble somewhere. The home field advantage won’t be as usual without fans in the stands.

December 5 vs. Maryland: WIN. Maryland should be better in a few spots this year, but their offensive line is looking pretty rough, and Michigan’s defensive line should be pretty good. Taulia Tagovailoa will probably be running for his life, as most Maryland quarterbacks have been in recent years.

December 12 @ Ohio State: LOSS. Ohio State is too good and didn’t have as many guys opt out as I wish would have opted out.

OVERALL: 6-2

What did I get right, and what did I get wrong?

23 comments

  1. Avatar
    Comments: 134
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    AC1997
    Oct 24, 2020 at 9:14 AM

    I know Illinois sucks, but Wisconsin looked pretty good last night. They just continue to do the same thing every year and replace players in the trenches seamlessly.

    I love Giles Jackson, and I suspect Bell to get the #1 CB treatment….but he was our leading receiver last year and I think he beats that yardage guess.

  2. Avatar
    Comments: 9
    Joined: 2/23/2016
    DexterGardener
    Oct 24, 2020 at 11:45 AM

    My first thought was ‘Only 498 yards???’ Then I remembered the shortened season. Have to rethink all net measurables to account for that.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3849
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Oct 24, 2020 at 12:31 PM

      I’m going to be really pissed if he gets 497 or 499 yards.

  3. Avatar
    Comments: 295
    Joined: 12/19/2015
    Extrajuice
    Oct 24, 2020 at 2:23 PM

    I get it. Joe Milton is VERY suspect. For that reason, 6-2 seems way too optimistic. I’ll go 4-4 with loss to either Minn or Indiana and obvious loss to Wisconsin.

    Bold prediction: Cade McNamara will be the starting QB by week 5 due to Milton’s ineffectiveness.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3849
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Oct 24, 2020 at 3:20 PM

      Joe Milton might be awesome. I hope he is.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 1364
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        WindyCityBlue
        Oct 24, 2020 at 4:43 PM

        I’m betting on one or more of the following being offered up on Milton’s behalf to excuse meh performances to start the season:

        1. He’s still young…it takes some guys longer to develop.
        2. It’s his first year as a starter..by next year, when he’s a senior, he’ll be more comfortable back there.
        3. They’re running a vanilla offense to let him get his feet wet/not give away the playbook.
        4. The OLine needs time to gel. He didn’t much protection.
        5. The OLine needs time to gel. He didn’t get much support from the running game.
        6. He had a lot of dropped passes.
        7. We won by 20…what are you complaining about?
        7. It’s 2020.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6285
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Oct 24, 2020 at 6:46 PM

          Probably true. Most of those were said about Peters.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 295
        Joined: 12/19/2015
        Extrajuice
        Oct 24, 2020 at 6:23 PM

        I hope he is too. We both have the same gut feelings though.

        If this was a different year and we played EMU, Ball State and Arkansas St, I might think his development and confidence develops. This Floridian QB is playing his first game on 30 degree weather on the road in Minnesota on national tv, 3rd game in Indiana (which is already favored) and a very good Wisconsin team wk 4.

        The bigger question we’ll be discussing is if Harbaugh deserves extension.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6285
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 25, 2020 at 1:20 PM

      You could be right here and the stats show it. Joe Milton threw more incompletions his sophomore year than McNamara has thrown his sophomore year. It is close though 4 to 3 so we’ll see.

  4. Avatar
    Comments: 71
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    umfarnn
    Oct 24, 2020 at 3:35 PM

    After last nights game, do you still feel the same way about the Wisconsin game? Mertz certainly didn’t look like a step down from Coan, though it was against Illinois.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3849
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Oct 24, 2020 at 3:46 PM

      I really like Mertz, but he could get injured, too. Already being down Coan, you wonder if they can keep the next guy safe for the rest of the season.

      I do still feel the same way about the Wisconsin game. Illinois looked really bad at times. The defensive scheme and execution were terrible, they lost their best LB early, and they didn’t have any rhythm on offense.

  5. Avatar
    Comments: 22
    Joined: 11/23/2015
    Burge333
    Oct 24, 2020 at 4:10 PM

    I love the predictions, thanks for these Thunder. It feels like UM has been hyping QB’s since Harbaugh arrived to be average or just below every year. It would be amazing if Milton is lightening in a bottle, if he is they could win it all. If he isn’t… I think it will be more of the same. As Saban said yesterday, good offense beats great defence now. Gotta put up at least 35 to win against good teams. Fingers crossed! Hope and reality are such different things, I hope Luiji has a good year and reaches his potential. I have also hoped UM would find a QB for 7 years! and that the pre season hype was real.

    On a separate note, does anyone know how many other school get hit by players leaving after three years? It feels like we should be building for next year but we might lose our 2 starting tackles, both LB’s… for a team that is only ok, we need our juniors / redshirt soph to stay. We lose players that aren’t even close to 1st round picks now (Avery and Nico) it makes it hard to be great!
    At least Sparty got hammered by Rutgers of all teams.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6285
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 24, 2020 at 4:18 PM

      Michigan’s QB rating in the Big Ten under Harbaugh have been 1st, 1st, 2nd, 6th except for 2017 when the 3 starters all stunk.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 22
        Joined: 11/23/2015
        Burge333
        Oct 24, 2020 at 4:51 PM

        Not sure who or how a UM QB was ranked number one in the big ten, but none are in the NFL or close. All OSU’s QB’s made the NFL in one form or another, even their back up that beat us. In the Harbaugh era their worst QB has been better than our best, before that is was even worse. 6 games of max Ruddock was the best we have had, he has been on a few practice squads but neve made it.

        • Avatar
          Comments: 22
          Joined: 11/23/2015
          Burge333
          Oct 24, 2020 at 4:56 PM

          Interestingly enough, if you look t starting QB’s in the NFL Brady is still the Big 10 best, Russell Wilson, but he only played one year at Wisconsin. There are only 4 QB’s from the Big 10, didn’t look at other conferences.
          Wilson
          Brady
          Cousins
          Haskins
          Even though OSU’s has had way better play in college they haven’t turned into even average NFL QB’s. We can’t count Burrow obviously.

          • Avatar
            Comments: 36
            Joined: 11/17/2015
            funkywolve
            Oct 25, 2020 at 12:21 AM

            Breed is from Purdue.

            • gobluetwo
              Comments: 55
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              gobluetwo
              Oct 26, 2020 at 12:29 PM

              I don’t know this Breed fellow, but the Brees guy from Purdue is pretty good.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6285
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Oct 24, 2020 at 6:44 PM

          https://www.espn.com/college-football/qbr/_/season/2016/group/5

          I think Michigan’s QBs have been well above ‘average’ though it depends on how you define it. 2017 was awful though.

  6. Lanknows
    Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Oct 24, 2020 at 4:10 PM

    If neither Hutchinson nor Paye get 1st team, I’ll be disappointed. Hopefully McGrone is in the mix too.

    My pick for surprise relative to expectations is Roman Wilson on O and Solomon on D.

    Hard to predict the skill positions on offense with so much depth at RB and new roles across the receiving corps. I do think we’ll be very excited about the talent and depth returning in 2021 at RB and WR both.

    I share the optimism about Steuber and Jackson. I think Milton will earn some respect from his detractors but I don’t think he’s ready to be the savior we need to win 7 or more.

  7. Avatar
    Comments: 36
    Joined: 11/17/2015
    funkywolve
    Oct 25, 2020 at 12:23 AM

    Just glad to have Big 10 football back, and checking put Touch The Banner multiple times each week.

  8. Avatar
    Comments: 8
    Joined: 7/14/2020
    Moonraker
    Oct 29, 2020 at 1:24 PM

    Milton and Barrett will also make All Big Ten, and so will Vastardis, as honorable mention.

    I’m calling it here… we will go undefeated, and beat OSU in a shocker. Milton is the man.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3849
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Oct 30, 2020 at 7:37 AM

      The only way Milton makes First Team All-Big Ten is if Justin Fields misses half the season and Milton plays the whole way. Fields was 20/21 for 276 yards and 2 touchdowns in game one. I’m sure Milton will hit some deep passes, but throwing little dink-and-dunk touchdowns to Ben Mason and Erick All isn’t going to earn him that kind of notoriety.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6285
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 30, 2020 at 10:52 AM

      Interceptions will earn him notoriety. Touchdowns will earn him fame and accolades.

      I don’t think Milton is going to end up ahead of Fields but All Big Ten is certainly in play because the Big Ten doesn’t have that many great QBs and the head to head with Tanner Morgan went to Milton. I do think Martinez looked like an improved player and that was the toughest D he will see.

      All of them are battling with the strongest player in the field Coron Avirus

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