Review of 2018 Season Predictions

Review of 2018 Season Predictions


January 10, 2019

Nico Collins (image via MGoBlue)

I always like to look back at my predictions for the previous season to see how well I judged the year beforehand. Here’s the link to my 2018 Season Predictions (and the comments): LINK.

LEADING RUSHER
Prediction: Karan Higdon, 1100 yards
Actual: Higdon, 1178 yards
Thoughts: Higdon was about as effective as I thought he would be, although he would have ended up with more yardage if he didn’t miss one regular season game (due to injury) and then the bowl game (due to selfishness). I was surprised he was named First Team All-Big Ten, but there were some other backs in the conference who were not as effective as I thought they would be.

LEADING RECEIVER
Prediction: Donovan Peoples-Jones, 750 yards
Actual: Nico Collins, 632 yards
Thoughts: Collins had a breakout season, going from 3 catches for 27 yards in 2017 to leading the team in receiving yardage (and being #2 in receptions) in 2018. Peoples-Jones was just behind Collins by a mere 20 yards and led the team in receptions (47), but Collins was the big downfield target.

LEADING TACKLER
Prediction: Devin Bush, Jr., 95 tackles
Actual: Bush, 79 tackles
Thoughts: As the middle linebacker, Bush was an obvious choice, but his instincts and sideline-to-sideline speed ensured that he would make plays all over the field. Safety Tyree Kinnel was not far behind with 74 tackles in one more game, since Bush missed the bowl game.

Hit the jump for the rest of the review.

LEADING INTERCEPTOR
Prediction: David Long, 3 interceptions
Actual: Josh Metellus and Brandon Watson, 3 interceptions each
Thoughts: Long had just 1 interceptions on the season, while Metellus and Watson had 3 each. Metellus improved his coverage significantly, and Watson turned into one of the top defensive backs in the conference, statistically. Their 3 interceptions tied them for #6 in the conference.

ALL-BIG TEN FIRST TEAM
Prediction:
Shea Patterson, Zach Gentry, Ben Bredeson, Rashan Gary, Devin Bush, Lavert Hill
Actual: Karan Higdon, Jon Runyan, Chase Winovich, Rashan Gary, Lavert Hill, David Long, Will Hart
Thoughts: Runyan and Hart were total surprises for All-Big Ten honors. Runyan was expected to be a starter, but a lot of people thought he would struggle. Meanwhile, Hart struggled in 2017 and he appeared to be a backup option to Brad Robbins until Robbins’s injury caused him to miss the whole season. On the flip side, Shea Patterson had a good season (3rd Team All-Big Ten) but was overshadowed by Dwayne Haskins, and Zach Gentry was good (#2 in YPC among conference tight ends, #4 in yardage) but not good enough.

ALL-AMERICAN
Prediction:
None
Actual: Devin Bush, Jr.
Thoughts: Bush is an excellent player, but I didn’t think he would put up the stats to be an All-American. His stats were solid (79 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 6 pass breakups, 2 QB hurries), but he was an All-American for the way he played the game. (Side note: The leading tackler in the country was Washington linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven, who had 176 tackles!)

LEADING SCORER (NON-KICKER)
Prediction: Karan Higdon, 78 points
Actual: Higdon, 60 points
Thoughts: Higdon obviously didn’t score as many touchdowns as I thought. Of course, skipping the bowl game and missing one other game due to injury didn’t help.

BREAKOUT OFFENSIVE PLAYER
Prediction: Nico Collins/Ben Mason
Actual: Nico Collins/Jon Runyan, Jr.
Thoughts: Collins took a giant leap from last year, going from 3 catches for 27 yards to 38 catches for 632 yards and 6 touchdowns. He became a deep ball and jump ball threat, and Shea Patterson loved throwing to him. Meanwhile, Runyan went from being a backup to being a First Team All-Big Ten player at left tackle, a spot that very few people thought him capable of playing. Mason had his moments, but he was used less frequently than many expected.

BREAKOUT DEFENSIVE PLAYER
Prediction: Joshua Uche
Actual: Uche
Thoughts: Uche played a small number of snaps throughout the season. He made only 15 tackles, but over 50% of them (8) were for loss, and almost 50% of them (7) were sacks. That gives him some momentum going into next season to be a big-time contributor, so it will be interesting to see if he can hold up as a weakside end or heavy usage player at some position or another.

MOST DISAPPOINTING OFFENSIVE PLAYER
Prediction: Shea Patterson
Actual: Sean McKeon
Thoughts: McKeon’s production dropped significantly from 2017 to 2018, going from 31 catches to 14, from 301 yards to 122, and from 3 touchdowns to 1. He was Michigan’s second-leading receiver in 2017, admittedly a down year for pass catchers in Ann Arbor. He had several drops this season and generally did not seem like he made any improvements from his second to third year on campus.

MOST DISAPPOINTING DEFENSIVE PLAYER
Prediction: Michael Dwumfour
Actual: Dwumfour
Thoughts: Dwumfour, dubbed a mini-Maurice Hurst, Jr. going into the year, showed flashes of good play but was largely ineffective. He finished the year with 21 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks. Those numbers aren’t terrible, but considering the fact that in his final five games, he totaled just 3 tackles, 0 tackles for loss, and 0 sacks, it doesn’t show a ton of progress going into 2019.

THE BIG FINISH
Prediction:
I predicted a 10-2 regular season record with losses to Michigan State and Ohio State.
Actual: Michigan went 10-2 with losses to Notre Dame and Ohio State.

36 comments

  1. Lanknows
    Comments: 4649
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jan 10, 2019 at 9:01 AM

    Always a fun post. Predictions are hard and you did well. All told, a lot of things went about as expected if you zoom out to the big-picture.

    Solomon was my biggest disappointment and it wasn’t even close. Mone failed to rise to the occassion as well (though he was fine, this was his big opportunity to be an impact player).

    Going back to earlier debates about DPJ’s ceiling and potential honors, Bush getting AA despite lesser numbers is instructive I think. If you’re an elite player with an impressive highlight reel on a prestige program you get some extra credit compared to somebody who puts up bigger numbers at say Wash St or Texas Tech.

    I like and respect Higdon’s game. He was my favorite backup when Deveon Smith was starting, but he’s an unexceptional player that will be replaced without issue IMO.

    I believe the Peach Bowl injury report had Higdon out with “common sense” not selfishness, but I admit my recollection of that game is already getting cloudy as I try to forget it ever happened.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2957
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jan 10, 2019 at 11:13 AM

      I thought about Solomon, but his injury issues prevented me from picking him. When you have surgery in the middle of the season, I don’t know how much is on him and how much is on his health.

      I still don’t know if your thoughts apply to WRs, where some people are putting up huge numbers. The two AP All-America first team guys were Jerry Jeudy (1,300 yards, 14 TD) and Marquise Brown (1,300 yards, 10 TD). The second team guys are Tylan Wallace (1,500 yards, 12 TD) and Andy Isabella (1,700 yards, 13 TD). The first two guys are on powerhouse programs (Alabama and Oklahoma), and the next two guys are on middle- or lower-tier teams (Oklahoma State and UMass). Give DPJ 60 catches, 900 yards, and 8 TDs, and he’s still very unlikely to beat out someone like Isabella.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 4649
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jan 10, 2019 at 5:51 PM

        A low-volume system is certainly an obstacle. I would guess that getting to Mario Manningham type numbers (>60 rec, >1,000 yds, >10 TDs) would be enough if you had some big play highlights and punt returns to add to the mix and Michigan is in the top 10.

        With Jerry Jeudy’s coach at OC, things are looking up for DPJ.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 4649
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jan 10, 2019 at 5:53 PM

        I’m factoring in the injury as part of the disappointment. If Solomon doesn’t get hurt he probably is a highly productive player and probably doesn’t get into a clash with the coaches and is still at Michigan. If anything the injury is the whole thing.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 2957
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Jan 10, 2019 at 5:56 PM

          I mean, I’m disappointed that he got hurt and in the situation, but I’m looking for a player whose play on the field was not up to expectations. If you’re not on the field much because you’re hurt, then that’s a different thing. But to each his own.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 4649
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Jan 10, 2019 at 7:30 PM

            Yeah that’s fair. I was just clarifying my opinion.

  2. Avatar
    Comments: 1240
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Jan 10, 2019 at 9:13 AM

    Nice & close on those predictions. I think it’s OK to predict so closely, and still be disappointed
    Last year a lot of us picked about 9 wins, but that wasn’t the pain. The frustration was just how bad the offense was in each game
    This year I too picked 10-2 (ND & sparty), but I hoped we would make better use of our QB & WRs, didn’t anticipate the issues with clock management to persist, never saw a blowout to a drama-loaded ohio team, and couldn’t expect four guys to miss the Bowl

    No tantrums, but still disappointed

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 4649
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Jan 10, 2019 at 9:37 AM

      It was the most disappointing ending to a season that I can remember. Maybe some others teams finished worse but this was the biggest dropoff relative to expectations

      Other contenders:

      2010 similarly ended in a couple blowouts and Rich Rod getting fired but Michigan already had 4 losses and a 3OT game against Illinois heading into OSU.

      2006 was arguably the most similar scenario, with a top rated team and an embarrassing bowl performance after a soul-crushing loss to OSU. USC said they knew exactly what M was going to run and they got trounced. But at least they were competitive with OSU.

      2016: better team than 2018 but again the 2 losses to close the season were competitive. The close lose to OSU was probably even more gut-wrenching than the blowout but at least that team showed up for the bowl game. Even though they lost Peppers and Butt and then the game, they competed and you didn’t end up with a bunch of defections like now.

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 4649
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jan 10, 2019 at 9:13 AM

    TEs

    Gentry was a fine pass threat but not the matchup nightmare people made him out to be and a below average to bad blocker. He didn’t deserve all conference IMO, though he got 3rd team and HM. Given his physical traits and the opportunities presented in the Harbaugh offense – I thought he failed to reach expectations and wasn’t close to his potential. In that sense he was a disappointment though his overall career certainly was a hit relative to being a backup QB. He’ll probably do well in the NFL though as he develops his skills.

    Everybody is down on McKeon including me. Good athlete but just not a natural pass catcher. The drops are obvious but you could see his lack adjustments to the ball even last year. Harbaugh loves his blocking. I’m just a fan but I’d like to see some more evidence of it. Hoping or better in 2019.

    Eubanks seems to be flashing his skills as a receiving threat and developing as a blocker. Feeling optimistic here and expect some form of conference honors next year. Gentry’s production (A couple of TDs and 300-500 yards) should be matched.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1046
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      WindyCityBlue
      Jan 10, 2019 at 6:16 PM

      For all of the talk about Harbaugh coming in here with a TE/FB-heavy power offense, he certainly hasn’t done much with it, and in fact seems to have very little idea of what he wants his offensive personality to be. The discussions about “flex tight ends” and “H-backs” and “X-backs” and “Y-backs” may give the guys who obsess over X’s and O’s a woody, but in the world of real competition, we haven’t done a damn thing with any of those alleged positions to create problems for opposing defenses.

      • Thunder
        Comments: 2957
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Jan 10, 2019 at 7:35 PM

        Let’s make sure to tell Khalid Hill (16 career touchdowns), Nick Eubanks (21.8 career yards/catch), Zach Gentry (49 catches, 16.7 career yards/catch), Ben Mason (9 career touchdowns), and the rest of them that Harbaugh hasn’t “done a damn thing” with any of them.

        • Avatar
          Comments: 1046
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          WindyCityBlue
          Jan 10, 2019 at 8:26 PM

          Nobody on this board, including you, considers Eubanks a dangerous offensive weapon. Giving the ball to a fullback to get 2 yards (maybe) on third and one isn’t going to put fear in the heart of any defensive coordinator on earth. Try again.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 4649
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Jan 10, 2019 at 8:32 PM

            I do, and 3rd and 1 isn’t about fear.

            • Avatar
              Comments: 1046
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              WindyCityBlue
              Jan 11, 2019 at 10:31 AM

              Not with Michigan’s utterly predictable and conservative play calling it isn’t, no. That’s the point you don’t seem to grasp.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 2957
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Jan 10, 2019 at 8:34 PM

            You underestimate me. I think anyone who averages over 21 yards/catch is pretty dangerous. And when I know what’s coming on 3rd-and-1 and I can’t stop it, yeah, I’m scared.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 4649
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jan 10, 2019 at 7:47 PM

        Bit of an intangible word jumble here when you say things like inability to “create problems” and lack of “personality” or “doing much”.

        Overall, the Harbaugh offenses have been extremely slow and heavy on TEs. That’s personality. Evolving from 90s pro-style with FBs prominent to shotgun with reads doesn’t eliminate that. Of course there has been inconsistency (in coaching and personnel) that has prevented M from looking the same every year. I’m not sure that’s what we want though – until you get to a point you’re happy about you change.

        On that point – yeah they’ve been far from elite. But also pretty effective (save 2017) in delivering an efficient offense: S&P ranks 24, 38, and 40. Not bad.

        They’ve “caused problems” for a lot of mediocre and bad teams but not the tough defenses. About what you’d expect for an offense ranked somewhere in the 30s. About what you’d expect from an offense that wants to dominate on the ground but doesn’t quite have all the horses it’s needed on the OL.

        Three 10-win seasons ain’t nothing.

        • Avatar
          Comments: 1046
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          WindyCityBlue
          Jan 10, 2019 at 8:40 PM

          If you like slow, plodding and predictable, I guess you can call that “personality”. But it’s nothing you’d ask out for a second date. Michigan will always beat some people just based on having better athletes, but not because they have better schemes and game plans.

          And 10 win seasons with no meaningful wins, no championships, nothing but winning the games we’re supposed to and no more may not be “nothing”, but how much 9-3ing are people going to be delighted with from Harbaugh? He shows no sign of taking the next step.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 2957
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Jan 10, 2019 at 8:42 PM

            When has Jim Harbaugh gone 9-3?

            • Avatar
              Comments: 1046
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              WindyCityBlue
              Jan 10, 2019 at 8:45 PM

              He went 9-3 regular season in 2015, in case you forgot. Since I’m talking about 12 games, obviously I’m referring to the regular season. Beyond that though, 9-3ism is a pattern, not a specific record.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 4649
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Jan 10, 2019 at 8:44 PM

            They won Big Ten East division title this year. Well, shared it, but that was true in ’97 too.

            Hang the banner boys!

            • Avatar
              Comments: 1046
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              WindyCityBlue
              Jan 10, 2019 at 8:47 PM

              Anyone who watched the OSU game and still considers us division “champions” needs a dose of reality. Distant second. Very distant.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 4649
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Jan 10, 2019 at 9:16 PM

                And they were the better team in 2016. You can use the eye test or you can look at the outcomes. You can’t pick and choose.

                • Avatar
                  Comments: 1046
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  WindyCityBlue
                  Jan 11, 2019 at 10:33 AM

                  No “picking and choosing” involved. I look at the outcomes, which in both cases were losses.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 4649
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jan 11, 2019 at 11:59 AM

                  It is a factual outcome that Michigan lost to OSU and that OSU lost to Purdue. It is a factual outcome that Michigan is division champs.

                  You can use the eye-test to override the results if you want. But if you’re going to override facts – do that consistently. Don’t just do it to be as negative as possible to Michigan.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 4649
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jan 11, 2019 at 12:04 PM

                  This is the point – you will twist the logic and change the criteria to paint Michigan football in the most negative light possible. This is what you’d expect an MSU or OSU fan to do – not a Michigan fan.

                  Michigan isn’t Alabama right now. They haven’t beaten OSU. This is painfully obvious to EVERY Michigan fan on the planet.

                  Perhaps we can debate if that’s possible (to be Alabama). Perhaps we can debate what steps it takes to get there (how to beat OSU). But just endlessly pointing out the negatives (Michigan isn’t Bama right now. Michigan hasn’t beaten OSU. This coaching hire doesn’t guarantee a national championship. This guy isn’t a 5-star) is devoid of insight and doesn’t do any good.

                  I’m not telling you how to be a fan but do you actually enjoy complaining this much?

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 4649
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Jan 11, 2019 at 12:26 PM

                  My thing is — the national championship goal isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s going to happen in incremental steps forward. Good coaching hires, recruiting wins, etc.

                  It’s totally fine to be critical if you think the hire isn’t good enough – but maybe suggest who would have been a better option instead of rehashing the past that everyone knows..

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 4649
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Jan 10, 2019 at 9:15 PM

            You can bitch all you want. I’ll take 10 wins every year over what happened here from 2008-2014. Maybe you want Bo again? We’re there.

            Bo got past 10 wins only twice in 21 years. That’s in a mostly garbage Big Ten. Fewer games but less challenge. And He started 0-7 in Bowls. And there was a 4-year stretch when he failed to beat OSU.

            College football landscape is so different it’s apples to oranges but the point is this. Bo didn’t win any national championships either. He got pretty close until losing late in the year.

            Harbaugh, already, has Michigan in the Bo range: not quite elite but consistently really good.

            That’s something.

            • Avatar
              Comments: 1240
              Joined: 1/19/2016
              je93
              Jan 10, 2019 at 9:31 PM

              I don’t get this take from fans. I love Bo, even named one of my dogs after him. But why shouldn’t fans want more? We should be better than 1-9 against top10 teams; better than 0-4 against ohio, 2-2 against sparty. We should definitely be better than 100s in offense in 2017, and the crapshow of our three losses. We should also be better than 31sec per play when trailing

              I see no problem with fans wanting more. Insulting & demeaning players & coaches is classless, but accepting some of these issues without fair criticism is apathy

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 4649
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Jan 10, 2019 at 9:47 PM

                Want more? We all do.

                Bitch every year because Michigan isn’t Alabama – no.

                Ignore every good thing that’s happened to point out negatives at every opportunity. – no thanks.

                Need to beat OSU. Everyone agrees.

            • Avatar
              Comments: 1046
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              WindyCityBlue
              Jan 11, 2019 at 10:38 AM

              Bo beat OSU and won Big Ten titles two of his first three years. Harbaugh is 4 years in and hasn’t done either even once. Bo was 5-4-1 against OSU in his first ten years, against an all-time great coach. Harbaugh is 0-4. He’s not even close to the “Bo range”.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 4649
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Jan 11, 2019 at 11:50 AM

                You’re saying that Michigan lost to OSU? This is just a point I can not seem to grasp.

  4. Lanknows
    Comments: 4649
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jan 10, 2019 at 9:21 AM

    Collins and DPJ emergence were a bright spot. Especially given Black’s injury and preseason concerns about depth, the WRs did great.

    Hoping for big things from the trio of big juniors and gaggle of little freshman in 2019.

    Offense will need to continue to evolve as it did in 2018. Step 1 was conversion to shotgun/pistol, insertions of spread and RPO, demphasizing FB, and stabilizing the OL. Check those boxes. Step 2 needs to build on that to get more downfield aggression, progress towards dominance in run blocking, and dramatically improve the 2-minute offense.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1046
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      WindyCityBlue
      Jan 10, 2019 at 6:24 PM

      Collins, maybe, but DPJ is behind the curve. The #1 WR recruit in the country should have been more of a weapon.

      And your Step 1 tasks are easy. They are things you can just say you’re going to do, and then do, and your talent level and the talent level of the opposition are really not barriers. Step 2, not so much. You can SAY you want to be more dominant in run blocking until you’re blue in the face, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 4649
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jan 10, 2019 at 7:48 PM

        This seems pretty negative. I’m surprised at you WCB.

        • Avatar
          Comments: 1046
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          WindyCityBlue
          Jan 10, 2019 at 8:42 PM

          No, not really. And entirely true. Feel free to dispute.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 4649
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Jan 10, 2019 at 9:20 PM

            There’s nothing tangible to debate. These are subjective word jumbles. Nothing concrete.

            We all know Harbaugh needs to beat OSU at some point. He got very close. Not there yet.

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