I think they go 8-4. Auto-losses to ND and Nebraska, with one loss to either Iowa or TSIO, and one "upset" which will be descirbed in forums and comment fields by many as "UNACCEPTABLE." I fully expect Michigan to trounce MSU, though.
Michigan vs Opponents - Returning Starters
Mrohblue's MGoBoard question, "How long before Hoke has UM in BCS game??" has prompted me to post some data I previously compiled for personal satisfaction. I hope you will find it just as satisfying.
I am sure Michigan can/should pull off 10 wins this upcoming year, and it's not just because the Wolverines nearly pulled off 7 wins in 2008 while utilizing a 3rd string QB lining up behind one previously starting OL, throwing to one previously starting WR or TE, or handing off to one of 2 previously starting RBs; with depth being drawn from a team of less than 70 scholarship players. (Compare this to the 2011 offensive transition that will feature 4 of 5 OL starters and 4 of their 5 backups, the top 8 WR, top 5 RB, top TE, and the nation's most dangerous QB... all from a top 5 Offense from the year 2010.)
Look to Mr. Rittenberg's list of Big Ten returning starters for 2011 to get a general overview of the Big Ten's experience gap. Our beloved Wolverines are the most experienced group in the Big Ten, returning 20. Of note, the 4 programs on our 2011 schedule who are/will be traditional favorites to finish among the conference's top half include MSU, Iowa, Neb, and OSU. This traditionally difficult block of teams return only 13, 10, 12, and 13 starters, respectively. Also of note, we will have our hands full with ND and NW who return 18 and 17 starters, respectively. (That assumes that Brian Kelly's competitive mean-streak translates to Michael Floyd being magically available for Michigan's first home night-game.)
But when looking at whether a team will be the hammer or the nail, the proverbial hammer's head is the Offensive front 6 (OL and TE) or the Defensive front 7 (DL and LB.) Looking at what Wisconsin's 2010 OL was able to accomplish against a young Michigan DL (especially after they purposefully took Mike Martin out of the game) is a great example of experienced big uglies taking (talented) newbies to task. That Wiscy OL featured 2 Sr, 3 RS-Jr, and a So.
Who will we hammer this year?
|OL / TE||D Front 7||DL||LB|
As you can see, no one has a clear experential advantage over Michigan in the trenches this year. Not only does Michigan return more total starters than any of its foes, 10 of our returning starters are trenchmen perfectly balanced across the O and D.
By the Numbers:
The teams who will give our offensive Front 6 a challenge: Notre Dame, Minnesota, Purdue, the Illini, and Nebraska.
The teams to challenge our defensive Front 7: SDSU, NW and the Illini. Of course, ND, Purdue and OSU all return a respectable 4 out of 6 on the offensive front line.
Note that only ND, Purdue and the Illini are on both of those lists.
WMU, MSU and Iowa will all be overrun by winged helmets on both sides of the ball. That's RBs stuffed, QBs with no time to breathe, and our RBs unleashing an absolute Denarding. EMU will be able to at least rely on its lines to keep the game closer than it should be, and SDSU brings back some real talent on the offensive side of the ball but a very weak-looking defense - posing the threat of a shoot-out. But those 5 games should be our gimmes. We have a heavy advantage on either O or D against Minnesota, Nebraska, and Ohio State (and are not outgunned on the other side of the ball) = 3 more wins. The Illini return a lot along the lines, but only 3 total starters behind the lines. Win. Our nastiest games will be Notre Dame, NW, and Purdue who each return solid lines in addition to a solid number of skill players behind the lines.
I am only sweating ND, SDSU, NW and the Nebraska/OSU 2-week finale. Four of those are home games. Beat Notre Dame, and we are on our way to a 10-win season. Lose to them, and our second Big Ten game (Northwestern - away) becomes the lynchpin to making a BCS berth. We need 3 out of 5 of these "sweat games." I like our chances.
**Edit: According to Scout.com's listing of WMU's returning starters there are 3 returning along the O-line/TE (including our very-own-former Dan O'Neill)and 7 (!) returning along the D-Front-7. That's a massive difference from ESPN's reporting of 2 and 4. They are one of the more experienced trench-teams we will see this season... I'm going to have to go back through Scout's analyses and see if there are any other examples of ESPN's poor reporting skills.
I am curious as to your rationale for Iowa beating Michigan again this year. Only 10 returning starters, 2 narrow escapes in the last two years when they were loaded, etc.
And Nebraska; only 12 returning starters, a home game for us, they play NW and Penn State in the two previous weeks, etc. Auto-loss?
I fully understand your worries about ND and OSU; although I think OSU will be in a tailspin by November (only 4 returning D starters, T Pryor troubles, Tressel troubles, University troubles, etc.)
Iowa did narrowly beat us the last two years, but that was when we had experience in the system and an offense that was putting up more yards on them than anyone has since the 90's. The fact of the matter is this: Iowa is moronic when defending spread offenses, leaving two deep safeties and expecting linebackers to cover WR's, hence NW having their number. We'll run a lot of spread, but we'll be implementing a largely new offense this year, so it is perfectly rational to expect a fairly big leap backwards in that area. Also, just because Borges will be using a lot of elements from the old offense doesn't mean he's a master of running it. You can ask Bill Stewart (admittedly, the guy sucks) how keeping a lot of the elements but running a new offense with an option QB can potentially turn out. I think Iowa is 50/50 really, but it isn't surprising that a lot of people chalk it up as a loss.
This is definitely an interesting diary. For some of these teams, it not only comes down to experience but the talent of the returning players. I don't think we have trouble with Purdue, but that's because I believe their talent level is lower than ours, call me a homer if you will. In all, I do think we win at least 8-9 and 10 wins is definitely possible.
and, of course, purdue lost ryan kerrigan. in this case, one guy who left is more important than the number that stayed.
I don't think that returning starters if a very valid argument this year considering the mass schematic changes we seem to be implementing. It is adventageous in that it will hopefully blunt the effect of said changes, i.e. this will not be 2008 again. I think that the defense will improve, and more than just a little. PS, you should count Cam as a returning starter for LB. The strength of our D is our line, and now we will be putting 4 of them out there. Demens will be the starter from day 1, and Gordon will be playing an LB spot that is much more suited to his play (and speed) than the FS spot. And we won't be starting any true freshman in the secondary. In fact, the majority of our secondary are returning starters. Still talent defficent, but much better than the past few years.
As for the offense, I'm just worried about the transition. If Borges is smart, he will stick with a lot of spread concepts until our O can transition into the more pro-style concepts, and frankly our linemen can get a bit bigger (I hope this is already happening). Unlike 2008, we acutally have playmakers and experience on O which would make this line of thinking more valid than it was in 2008. But still, I think our O is gonna be limited even with the returning starters.
So combining the O with D, I really don't know what you get. We have the wild card of Denard which can break any game open, but 10 wins seems a little bit of a stretch to me. The real test is gonna be if our coaches can instill discipline and execution into this team. The age factor will deffinatly help here. Not executing was the real reason we only one 7 games last year, and a lot of that is on the coaches.
This is very interesting. While I agree that Michigan will get 9-10 wins this year, I'm not sure I agree that this is the reason why. Returning a starter will not mean much if that starter sucks. The fact that you're worried about SDSU purely because they're returning starters doesn't make much sense.
MSU, OSU, and Neb all have great talent (except maybe MSU... not quite sure why I put them there) and they do a great job of replacing seniors with high quality players who have gotten experience on the second team.
Also, we might not return all 8 WR's because of Stonum's trouble.
I know I didn't give all details for all teams... I am not worried about SDSU only because they return a lot of starters on O. I am worried because they return a lot of starters from an O that dropped 35 points on TCU. That's more than any other TCU opponent, including a very solid Wisconsin O. I think a shoot-out carries a high probability, and I am sweating because it will be our offense's 4th game of the year. Hopefully we are well lubed and ready to rock by then.
I also have to laugh about "Also, we might not return all 8 WR's because of Stonum's trouble." Ahh, what a great argument to be able to have. :)
Well as for SDSU, their O put 28 on TCU. They got a defensive TD. Also they do lose their two best WR's to the draft. And their rocking OC left for some other job...
21 of those 28 points were scored in the last two minutes of the third and the fourth quarter. SDSU had 101 total yards starting their last drive of the third quarter and were down 24 points.
Experience in years does not equal experience in a system. I believe that changing both offensive and defensive systems detracts significantly from the validity of your analysis. With all players in a different system, it's halfway to starting over.
Not sure changing the defensive system will cause our defense to regress. I'm actually expecting improvement as a result of the change.
This is a Rivals article from Notre Dame's Rivals page. They're keeping a close eye on what Hoke is doing in Ann Arbor.
defining players as a starter or not doesn't paint the hole picture, thats only one variable your measuring and this isn't a linear equation (haha made a math joke).
I made the same mistake last year when grading out my expectations ND's OLine by just looking at returning starts. You need to include things like experience with the coaches, experience in the system and scheme, familiarity with the opponents and their production. Having a LBer with 20 tackles after starting 12 games wouldn't be worth he same value as one with 100 tackles and 12 starts.
Its hard to make a strong argument just on one stat, especially when the answer is yes or no
But it's hard to put into numbers what I expect Roh, Martin, Van Bergen and Campbell are going to do to ND's front 6 this year.
Last year's 850 lb 3-man pass rush is now going to be a 1175 lb 4-man wrecking crew. Say good-bye to the days of double and triple teams on Mike Martin. There will be many sackles wrought upon those wearing a golden helmet.
(In all seriousness, I am pretty excited for what will essentially be a rematch of last year's game. Nervous in regards to the Irish addition of three 5-star DEs to an already experienced DL, but excited to see how much improvement Michigan's four former true-frosh DB starters have improved in a year... this is where I sigh well-wishes to Vinopal and hope he's able to return. ND's second year of Kelly's vertical offense with essentially identical pieces - if Floyd plays - to last year's team will be a great data-point upon which to judge M-Rob, Carvin Johnson, Avery and Talbott should they all be called upon in this year's game... here's to hoping that Woolfolk and JT Floyd bring some much needed leadership and talent to game-days.)
So what are your thoughts on how the Michigan move to utilizing 4 DL and 4 DB will impact the M-ND game this year? I see it as getting Michigan's 2 most talented defensive players some breathing room on the DL, and quality improvement by design through drawing fewer players from a deeper/more experienced pool of DBs. The downside of being forced to start 5 different true-frosh DBs throughout 2010 was losing some games that probably would have been different with T-Woolf and JT, but that downside has created this year's upside of a two-deep in the secondary made up of 9 players with starting experience.
I just saw your post but I am not equipped to respond in depth right now. I should be able to get back with you this afternoon
I can appreciate that we all actually have a life to take care of on the other side of the keyboard. :)
Not sure its going to be a perfect rematch with UM having the first year head coach this time around but I am certainly looking forward to the game.
I expect ND to come in with every advantage minus home field but that doesn't guarantee a win. At the end of the game last year I thought UM escaped with a win, which I think was more and more evident as the year went on. UM didn't play against the same ND defense which allowed one TD in the final 4 games of the season, or the same OL which provided 5 yards a carry for Cierre Wood.
I see ND as a much stronger team over last year in the way they play alone, and then you add in some of the names from this past recruiting class and things begin to look even better. Will ND have over 200 yards of offense negated in penalties this time around? There isn't a position in the same state no depth as QB was last year, knock on wood.
It was pretty obvious UM plans to blitz this year, and probably often, is it because they are confident in the secondary or because they're desperate to cover it up? Will this be the same UM secondary which allowed 16 yards a reception against ND and a TE with a torn hamstring to run past the entire secondary for a 90+ yard reception? Like you said, ND's receivers haven't changed much, Eifert is a returning starter at TE, and Floyd is an obvious big wild card at this time.
There is still a long way to go till spring practice begins let alone the first game though, I am sure I will have plenty of more to say then but I don't want to get ahead of myself.
And I thought there was only one hour difference. I was WAY off.
I would guess that any advantage we get from having returning starters would be offset by the fact taht none of them are returning to the same system...
Phil Steele uses this as part of his equation, but I have a hard time believing that returning bad starters > replacing good players with other good players.
Yeah, I would take the talent/skill level of a revamped Alabama defense over all eleven of the 110th rated D from last season.
But to the original author's point, on our schedule, OSU is the only team that has proven that it can replace good players with other good players. Pretty much every other program has to rebuild a bit, and not just do the reload that few programs can do.
Nebraska has been good recently, and now that there is a coach who can seemingly utilize talent in South Bend their good recruiting classes should mean more.
I'd still argue that Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Iowa can replace their lost starters with better players than what we have now, including obviously OSU and Nebraska.
Since this post is mainly about the offensive front 6 and defensive front 7, I would like the names of a few new, soon-to-be starters at Penn St, Wisconsin, MSU and Iowa that are better than:
TE - Kevin Koger
RT - Mark Huyge
RG - Patrick Omameh
C - David Molk
LT - Taylor Lewan
DE - Craig Roh
DT - Mike Martin
DT - Ryan VanBergen
OLB - Cam Gordon
MLB - Kenny Demens
That's a pretty bold statement you made considering the strength and depth Michigan returns along the OL and DL (maybe a few frosh/soph LB out there that would push to start at UM, but you better have names and rationale.) Names.
depth on d line? ok...
on both sides of the field, we will be x, y, and z." To me this looks like irrational exuberance, which can usually only be followed by bear markets. I'm gonna hope for 7 wins, be happy with anything more.
Edit: this independent observer has us with 8 wins, so I may not be far off:
challenging for Big Ten/12 Championship game, and bowl. But equally important, a new awakening and rebirth of the Michigan tradition of good, consistent football.
Unfortunately the Spring game with Threet was quite foreboding of the offense that season, and I see the same with this year's Spring game. Neither Denard nor Devin has the neceessary accuracy to run this offense, so unless we do actually run more designed QB runs we could be in trouble this year.
of my expectations three straight years, I'm hoping for seven wins and a bowl. I've seen the whole "let's change schemes" movie before. I do think it's different this time because we have OL/DL strength, and the D can't get any worse.
Maybe ten wins in 2012.