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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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