Every year the new season brings changes big and small. It seems that the 2020 season will bring some pretty significant changes to what we see on the field at Michigan, from players to coaches. Here’s a look at the expected changes and what we might see in 2020.
The impact is rated as being positive (+), negative (-), or neutral (=).
Out: QB Shea Patterson
In: Dylan McCaffrey/Joe Milton
Patterson was just the third quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards in a season, but many weren’t happy with his performance. Redshirt junior McCaffrey and redshirt sophomore Joe Milton will battle it out, and the belief (on my end) is that the loser of that battle will not finish out his career at Michigan. McCaffrey is the better overall player – both passing and running – but a concussion and a collarbone injury have ended his previous two seasons.
Hit the jump for more.
Out: LT Jon Runyan, Jr.
In: Jalen Mayfield
Runyan was a first team all-conference player the past two years. While he was not dominant, he also did not stand out as a weakness after some early-season struggles in 2018. He was a very solid player. I believe Mayfield will flip over from right tackle to play the left side in 2020.
Out: LG Ben Bredeson
In: Chuck Filiaga
Bredeson was an All-America-caliber left guard who, like Runyan, did not stand out as exceptional but did a very good job consistently. There weren’t many opportunities for backups to play because the interior linemen stayed healthy, but the guess is that redshirt junior Filiaga steps in at left guard. Filiaga was the #112 overall prospect in the 2017 class, but he needed some work with the S&C guys.
Out: C Cesar Ruiz (maybe)
In: Andrew Vastardis/Zach Carpenter
Ruiz is reportedly weighing his options to move on to the NFL. Vastardis was his backup this season, and Carpenter was supposedly impressive for a true freshman in practice. Regardless, it will be a step back if Ruiz departs, since he’s athletic, powerful, smart, and experienced.
Out: RG Michael Onwenu
In: Andrew Stueber
Onwenu graduates after a solid career at Michigan. Stueber is a bit of a forgotten man, but he was expected to start at right tackle in 2019 before an ACL injury ended his year in the pre-season. The rising redshirt junior is massive and looked pretty solid prior to getting hurt.
Out: RT Jalen Mayfield
In: Ryan Hayes
I have Mayfield projected as flipping to left tackle, meaning there will be an opening on the right side. Hayes rotated with Mayfield early in the year before it became clear that Mayfield was the superior player. Hayes did show promise, but the game still needs to slow down for him.
Out: TE Sean McKeon
In: Nick Eubanks
McKeon was often the in-line tight end (13 catches, 225 yards, 2 TD) and is a superior blocker to Eubanks, who lined up as an H-back type of player and has already announced he will return. If I were Michigan, I might be looking at the transfer portal to see if an in-line grad transfer type is available, which would allow Eubanks to keep his H-back role and not force players like Luke Schoonmaker and Erick All into blocking roles. All has potential there, but the question is more about whether he can bulk up enough by his second year.
Out: WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (maybe)
In: Cornelius Johnson
Peoples-Jones had underwhelming numbers in 2019 (34 catches, 438 yards, 6 TD) despite being a 5-star talent, and now he’s reportedly considering a leap to the NFL. If he does indeed depart, Johnson (4 catches, 61 yards, 1 TD) has been groomed to replace him. Peoples-Jones is more physically talented and is a good punt returner, a role that Johnson is unlikely to fill.
Out: WR Nico Collins (maybe)
In: Mike Sainristil
Collins is considering a jump to the NFL after making 37 catches for 729 yards and 7 touchdowns, but reports have indicated that he’s leaning toward staying in Ann Arbor. He’s a matchup problem at 6’4″ and 222 pounds, and the potential replacements are not his size. Sainristil was considered a starter coming out of spring at the slot position, but his spot was usurped by Ronnie Bell. I would expect Bell to play more outside with Sainristil in the slot if Collins leaves.
Related: I have also explored some transfer options for Michigan going into next season (LINK).
Overall, that’s not a great situation for Michigan going into 2020. Michigan loses five starters for sure (Patterson, McKeon, Runyan, Bredeson, Onwenu) with the potential for three others (Collins, Peoples-Jones, Ruiz). When it comes to individual positions, I expect Michigan to remain pretty much the same if all those players depart. If Ruiz, Collins, and/or Peoples-Jones return and Michigan stays injury-free, we could potentially see some improvement in the offense. One would also expect fewer early-season struggles now that offensive coordinator Josh Gattis has a year of experience under his belt.
Check back tomorrow for a look at the defense.
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