Tryng a get a sense of the general consensus from the MGB participants regarding the Wolverines' best-case scenarios offensively and defensively. I suppose a poll would make it more concrete, but a diary entry would let others chime. This has been covered by others, but, I wanted to take time to "rank" Michigan offensively and defensively for 2009 within the conference based upon its best-case performance to potential, and avoidance of injury on both sides of the ball. It is a look at personnel and staff more than schedule. This scenario would have seniors living up to expectations, and the sophs and freshman performing solidly+ within the coaching schemes. For the other teams, I am just trying to go with the general opinions that I've seen, and not imposing any personal bias. Here is how I rank them, and a sentence to summarize "why":
1. Illinois - plenty of proven experience across the board at skill and line positions
2. Iowa - their offensive line should be terrific
4. OSU - TP and O-line experience put them just above Michigan if Blue doesn't hit on all cylinders, which I am assuming
5. Penn State - O-line and receivers need to prove themselves first
6. Wisconsin - seems to have too many new starters to rank any higher
7. MSU - I think they are generally overrated given the rebuilding throughout the backfield and along the line
8. Northwestern - less worse than the remainder
9. Purdue - less worse than the remainder
10. Minnesota - less worse than Indiana
11. Indiana - going to be a rough year
Why Michigan #3? Well, I think that if everything goes according to RR's plan, Tate has a good year recognizing defenses and feeding the dot receivers and TEs, Minor can go for 1400 yards behind a much more solid O-line, avoid turnovers, and the stretch O begins to finally spread its wings. There are many hopeful ifs in there, but that's the point. I think if Michigan can get things rolling early, we might see dramatic results. Much of the rest of the Big 10 will have questions to answer themselves offensively. Even if Michigan is more "average" to expectations, I see it in the top 5 offensively, which will take pressure off the defense, too, in terms such as time of possession, field position, playmaking etc.
1. OSU - reloading at linkbacker seems to be their biggest question
2. Iowa - if their line performs well, they might be the best defensively
4. Penn State - secondary kinda feels like Michigan's last year to me
5. MSU - enough quality returning to be formidable
6. Wisconsin - solid, but not special
7. Northwestern - secondary and LB play should be decent
8. Illinois.- unimpressive D last year bleeds into this one
9. Purdue - they are at least one step up from the stench of the cellar
10. Indiana - in the battle for worst, they lose because of their D-line
11. Minnesota - not less worse than Indiana
Why Michigan #3 again? There are certainly equally significant ifs on the defensive side of the ball, and healthy skepticism in the team's ability to meet these goals, but hear me out. If Graham and Martin can be nasty all Big 10ers, Ezeh be a 100 tackle stud, and secondary avoid the big play thanks to strong play from Warren and Turner, with solid pursuit angles and tackling across the board, I think GERG's scheme will be well-suited to the offensive schemes in the Big 10.
This kind of offensive and defensive scenario would see a radical shift in the give-away/take-away margin. And, if players just held the ball last year, where would it have ended?
I am not going to try to translate this optimism into wins and losses, just thought I'd put it out there for consideration.
I am not rating the kicking games, but since we have one of the most powerful forces binding the fabric of space punting...