It’s 2020 and nobody knows anything, so here are my wild guesses for what we’ll see this year.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
What did I get right, and what did I get wrong?
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