"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
I went back to see some of the preseason predictions Mgobloggers were making and found this interesting post from MGoBlueEyes. I dont know about you, but he has been just about spot on with one minor exception thus far. Read and enjoy. My comments in CAPS along the way..
MGoBlueEyes post on August 9th, 2009
Western: Not guaranteed win, but we can't lose to a MAC school two years in a row, can we? Nah. Win, 1-0.[NO BIGGIE, EXPECTED]
ND: I see ND as improved, but we can't fumble five bazillion times in one game again, can we? I see the ND game as a toss-up, either team could win, but I think we'll be able to pull it out. Win. 2-0.[AND CLOSE IT WAS]
Eastern: OMG RON ENGLISH? No. Eastern will prove feisty with an expected aggressive defense, but it's Eastern. Win, 3-0. [THEY HUNG IN THERE FOR ONE HALF?]
Indiana: Uh... Indiana's not good. At all. Win, 4-0. [MAYBE THEY ARE SOMEWHAT OK, BUT 4-0, NOT MANY THOUGHT]
MSU: A toss-up. Michigan will pull it out, I hope. Even though it's at God Awful East Lansing. Calling it here, a win. 5-0. [IT WAS CLOSE, AND WE ALMOST PULLED IT OUT, BUT NO CIGAR]
Iowa: Who? Oh yeah, Iowa. Have we ever played them? Seems like the 1980's since we have. Stupid Big Ten/Eleven with its crazy scheduling. Anyway, This is another pick-em, and since I've said we'll win the first two toss-ups, I should chose us to lose one. OK, first loss to I-oh-way. 5-1.[INDEED]
Delaware State? OMG JUST LIKE APP STATE?!?!??! No, not this time. 6-1.[TRUEEEEE]
Penn State: yeah... uh... not gonna win. 6-2.[UH..DEFINITIVELY, NO]
Illinois: Juice Williams shows Tate Forcier how to run the spread. Lose, 6-3.[UGH, DID HE EVER. IN FACT A DIARY WAS RECENTLY POSTED ON PROPER FAKES ON THE READ OPTION, WITH JUICE ONE OF THE FEATURED QBs]
THE REMAINING PREDICTIONS ARE BELOW, LETS SEE WHERE IT GOES...
Purdue: They suck. However, just like last season Purdue puts a totally untested QB against us in hopes of racking up another 48 points. This time, it doesn't work. Win, 7-3.
Wisconsin: Toss up. Since I've predicted 2-1 so far in the toss up games, time for another loss. 7-4.
The Bucknuts: Face it, they're better than us. But if you want to live in the magic happy land were it's OMG BRANDON MINOR DOES BIAKABUTUKA IMPRESSION! UPSET W/300+ YDS RUSHING BABY! BELIEVE IT! At the moment I choose to live in magic happy land, 8-4 with the shocker upset of OSU! 8-4!!!!! woo!
We will then go to a crappy bowl and lose. So... 8-5.
Ok. Enough with the fluff.
There will be a lot of scoring. Either defense will not dominate. The big house will rock loud.
Tate will be on a roll. Breakout performance. Denard too. Minor in early knocking heads and stiff arming. No Hemingway but others in there. Zoltan. Watch out for # 2 breakout Vincent.
Warren is on top of his game.
You can take that to the bank.
I thought my first blog should be about the predictions that I heard while listening to the radio yesterday, and that appear in the Free Press today. The prediction for Michigan, which was done by the always bias, Mark Snyder have Michigan going 5-7, with a loss this weekend to Western. So in the last week Mark Snyder has co-wrote one of the most insanely bias, witch-hunting pieces of "journalism" in recent memories, then blatantly ignored the fact that this season will be far better than last for Michigan for all of the obvious reasons (second season for Rich Rod, new QBs that can run the system, and a new DC that actually knows what is going on).
In the same paper, MSU was predicted to go 9-3, with a win over PSU, "being a game that could decide the Big Ten Champion." This is absolutely insane!!! The boys in East Lansing may not be being coached by John L anymore, but to think that they will beat PSU and possibly be going to the Rose Bowl (and at worst the Capital One Bowl) is down right stupid.
All the projections for Michigan this year have them at a minimum of 6 wins, with some as high as 8 or 9. While MSU may go 9-3, in no way is that going to be close enough to win a Big Ten Championship. I am not a conspiracy theorist (all the time), but you cannot tell me that the Free Press does not have an agenda here to smear the good name that is Michigan. We will talk to you more soon...Go Blue!
So here is my attempt to be more analytical about the 2009 season. I am, like everyone else here, very excited to see what this year will bring for the Wolverines. I am fully behind Rich Rod and his staff and believe that they will turn the ship around. Looking at the roster gives me hope as well. It seems to me that most positions will see an upgrade through better players, more experience, and fewer nagging injuries. To really have a breakthrough season though, we will need to see several players step their game up.
Here are the top five players I expect to have a season shaping impact:
- Brandon Graham - An obvious choice when considering impact players, Graham has already reached this level of play. He is probably the only bonafied star on the team (not counting Space Emperors) and will be the player opposing offenses must account for. He plays a position that can cover for our biggest apparent weakness (safeties) by putting consistent pressure on the quarterback, allowing less time for pass plays to develop. The team will feed off of his drive-killing sacks and forced turnovers. His impact alone possibly accounts for an extra win or two.
- Tate Forcier - Again, this is an obvious choice. (Really, I'm not trying to bore you.) Watching the quarterback play last year was mostly depressing, but I really enjoyed the moments where Threet managed to get free for a surprising run. With Tate we can reasonably expect this to occur much more often which will have a huge positive impact on our offensive efficiency. I am not really expecting much more than natural talent shining through here, at least at first, but that should be enough to keep defenses guessing a whole lot more then last year. The fact that he understands the offense from High School and the spring will certainly help speed his development. So even taking into account freshman jitters, Tate should make a huge impact and account for another one or two game improvement in the win column.
- Jonas Mouton - I have been stoked about this guy's potential since his recruitment, and especially since he move to linebacker. These days, with spread offenses of all sorts getting fast little buggers the ball with enough space to run around fools, every defense needs quick linebackers that can cover someone. My memories of the last decade of Michigan Football are littered with big plays for opponents that stem from the short passing game. As a superior athlete and a converted safety, Mouton may be just the defensive answer we have been missing.
- Brandon Minor - So the fumbles and injuries are in the past right? After the way Minor finished the 2008 season, I believe so and that he may have more of an impact than any other single player on the roster. Minor should punish defenders with his hard hitting running style, while grinding out the tough first downs. He might be most effective with carries focused towards the middle of the line, maybe even lining up at fullback. Opposing defenses would be forced to pick their poison, either bringing extra defenders into the box or allowing Minor to gut them up the middle. With all of the hype about "Spread n' Shred," Minor could be the perfect counter. Not to mention this is his last go-round to impress pro scouts.
- Zoltan Mesko - Really? A Punter? Arguably no other player has the chance to impact each and every game as much as Our Venerable Space Emperor (of Space). Without his ability to put footballs into orbit, last year could have been much uglier for the Maize and Blue. Heck, if half of the turnovers on our end were instead booming Zoltan bombs, our defense would have appeared light years better and we probably would have won at least another game or two. I expect that he will average career highs across all punting statistics (except number kicked, hopefully) and suprise many when he fakes several for first downs (and at least one touchdown, you heard it here first!)
Five others I considered:
- Greg Mathews: Probably the most important player for Tate's development, Mathews has already established his ability to run crisp routes and catch tough passes. Will he be the steady target a freshman QB needs?
- Donovan Warren: I still believe that Warren has the tools to be a shutdown corner at this level. Maybe not a Woodson, but possibly a Ty Law sort.
- Martavious Odoms: We all saw how rediculously open Odoms got last year. Now he has someone that can actually hit him, even while scrambling.
- Mike Martin: Can be the disruptive force in the middle to take some of the focus away from Graham. Can have a large impact by consistently blowing up the opponents backfield.
- Steve Shilling: After a second year with Barwis and a third starting on the O-line, Shilling is ready to shine. The move to the interior of the line could help Brandon Minor by allowing him to truck some safeties instead of linebackers.