I remember having this same feeling after the 1996 and 2005 seasons. Both were dissapointing to say the least but there was a cool confidence and workmanlike approach to the seasons that followed both of those campaigns......eerily similar to this off-season.
Michigan is going to be a vastly improved football team this fall ladies and gentlemen and I will tell you why I think 10+ wins is not only possible...but likely.
1. We have a great quarterback situation. Last season Devin was under seige...still put up admirable numbers despite his inconsistency. Few Qbs in the entire country can play at his ceiling. Devin is back for his 5th year and poised for a monster season. If he should falter......I feel very comfortable with Sugar Shane rifling the pigskin to our arsenal of Man-Sized targets.
2. We have some tremendous size on the edge. I counted 6 wideouts over 6ft2 and all around or over 200lbs. That is not found very many places. We simply have some grown ass men catching the pigskin this year. I truly believe "Funchise" will dominate and the tandem of Darboh/Chesson will be one of if not thee most formidable set of starting WRS in the B1G. Let's not forget the promise Freddy Canteen has shown or the fact that Jake Butt will be back by B1G play. Blocking will not be a problem with this group either which makes way for all types of fun on the edge with sweeps and screens. (Cue the music for Norfleet and Mr. Peppers please)
3. We have Running Backs. Derrick Green has dropped 20 lbs and looks primed to live up to his lofty recruiting ranking. De'veon Smith looks primed to prove that Mike Farrel and company don't know what the hell they are talking about. Neither is a homerun threat which is problematic but there is some hope with Justice Hayes. I'm not certain what the status is with Ty Isaac but if he is eligible.....good lord. I think this set of backs will fit the hard-nosed style that coach Nuss is looking for and given our conference....I think the "home-run" back aspect is slightly negated. Nobody runs 4.3 in the winter time.....nobody.
4. There is too much talent in our O-line segment meeting room and too much pressure on Coach Funk and company to repeat last year's abysmal performance. There needs to be an edge to this group and I believe there will be. They may not be elite this year but I thoroughly expect above average line play. If this happens....our Offense will cruise to around 35-40 ppg. Thats some serious numbers and when you look at our personnel...it's very do-able.
5. Our D-line is deeper than it has been and features a potential B1G DPOY in Frank Clark. I expect a breakout year from our Senior and his bookend teammate Beyer will be serviceable at least. I prefer Charlton (6ft6 275) and Ojemudia due to their explosiveness/size but all 4 will play. Strongside ends will feature a rejuvinated and healthy Chris Wormley (295lbs) along with highly rated Henry Poggi. I am very excited to see Lawrence Marshall in action also.
6. Linebacker play will be a strength this season and likely a top unit in the B1G. James Ross...Joe Bolden....JMFR for God's sake. Nothing but quality behind them:Gedeon, Morgan, McCray, Jenkins-Stone, Gant, Wrangler and Mikey Ferns (6ft4 235). You will be hard-pressed to find a more talented group in the nation...let alone the B1G My only concern is how many of them can truly cover out of the backfield and what mismatches might be presented against the Ohio's of the world.
7. Secondary...meet Nitros aka. Jabril Peppers. He is every ounce of 201 lbs and in the neighborhood of 6ft1. Might possibly be the most heralded talent to don the maize n blue in 15 years. Excitement level = through the roof....and rightfully so. Now think about a seasoned tandem of Blake Countess and Raymon Taylor returning. Channing Stribling has elite lenght and was thrown into the fire last season. Jourdan Lewis had a breakout spring and I've been hearing that the competition is fierce at the corner spot. Brandon Watson enters camp at 190...if he can run and flip his hips at that weight...call me giddy. The safety postion looks solid as long as a few rotation players step up. Wilson, Dymonte Thomas, Jeremy Clark and Reon Dawson will fill the depth chart. Wilson and Thomas stand out to me. Peppers may very well see his Nickel role expanded if either should open the door.
8. Special Teams is a bit of a question mark because of the kicking game. Is Hagerup back to full punting duty? Can Wile make the crunch time kicks? I think our return game will be electric if Hoke puts Peppers back there. Norfleet is still a decent option if not. Overall I look at the talent and athleticism of our roster and cant help but think how good our special teams could be if outfitted appropriately. We have a lot of good football players that are dying to make an impact. If we approach special teams with a Beamer Ball mentality, we could really improve as a team and slide into that 10+ win category.
9. The Schedule will be tough as usual but there is NOT ONE SINGLE MISMATCH on the schedule. We have more overall talent than Michigan State and simply need to match their fire. It has to mean as much to us as it does them. I think you will see that this year. Notre Dame is just a matchup that I always feel confident in. It will be close in South Bend any way you slice it. I don't see an upset happening this year. We get Penn State at home and they simply do not have the depth to match us for 60 minutes. We can match Ohio talent for talent everywhere. They do not have a Jabril Peppers on their team and we have played them to a draw 2 years in a row and come up just short. There will be no fear factor heading into Columbus.
I see us with a 12-0 ceiling and a 9-3 floor. This team will not lose more than 3 games this year. It's too talented and there is too much pressure on the program in general. We have a great blend of proven talent and incoming talent. We have the most electric freshman in the country. We have a chip on our shoulder and a fiery new coordinator who is a winner. We've played a brand of football that has not been Michigan level the last few years. This season is one in which we get back to the standard of Michigan football. I won't gurantee anything as I am just a rabid Michigan fan and average poster......but I wouldn't plan too much around early December and early January. There just might be some extremely important Michigan Football games that you might have to catch a plane to go see. I predict an 11-2 record. What say you MgoFamily?