This is the year Hoke gets his signature win(s) away from AA. I can't wait for the season to start.
"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
This is the year Hoke gets his signature win(s) away from AA. I can't wait for the season to start.
pretty much agree with the OP, I'm trying to fight the urge to get too excited but all signs make you want to believe sky is the limit. I still won't believe anything though until we handle our business in east lansing. Also agree with MGrether, I think the offensive line should be good but need to see it for my own eyes. Feel like the season expectations could hinge on them. 11-1, beat state, beat ohio, Big Ten Champs, playoff here we come.
Didn't someone figure out our standard is basically 9-3? I'd be okay with that, but if that's the case, we've probably lost to ND, MSU and OSU on the road. And then I'm not sure how okay I am with that.
I'm gonna wait and see where we are after we play Sparty before I get too excited about anything.
9-3 is sort of underachieving in my book at a program like UM. There are years you are going to be hit with key injuries and other years a sophomore QB messes you up but 8 out of 10 years you should be hitting double digit wins at this program. I know we had a ton of 3/4 loss seasons under Carr/Moeller but I think we did less with more - lots of NFL talent that somehow found a way to lose 1-2x a year to teams we had no right to.
Here is the logic. Many years we play 2 extreme baby seals in non conf, and a 3rd team that is generally "meh" - a solid team that is outside the BCS conferences or a non competitor in another BCS (i.e. Utah / Air Force / Arkansas). You play all 3 of those games at home. That leaves you with 1 real game of similar caliber opponent (for us ND for most of the past few decades) in your 4 non conf games. So you should leave with 3 wins in non conf out of 4 ... as a floor. Every year. So you are 3-1 at worst out of conf.
In the Big 10 you will play 2 pretty bad teams every year no matter what. So add those 2 wins to the 3 non conf wins and you start every year 5-0 against "bad to meh" teams. That leaves you 7 games against non bad to meh teams.
So to go 9-3 all you really did was go 4-3 against teams who have a heartbeat. That's a bit above .500 and programs like UM should be doing better than a bit above .500 against teams with a heartbeat on an annual basis. The difference between 9-3 and 10-2 (going into a bowl) doesn't sound like much but if you do that over the course of 20 years it makes a difference in perception. The OSU's and Oklahoma's are that team that is 10-2 most every year (with the occassional fall flat on face once every 6-7 years) - we and ND are not.
RIght, but I think someone went through and figured out that over the last 50 years or so, Michigan's average record is 9-3. That's pretty much who we are.
I still stand by my prediction that Devin leaves M a champion, including winning in Columbus.
I am very excited about the 2015 team which I think could be a 1 loss type of team due to upperclassmen finally on the OL and the schedule. However I think there will be some serious struggles on the offense again in 2014. We will put up a lot of points in some games but in others I just see us being hurt by inconsistent play. The OL is a year away and the WR corps is extremely young. I think enough players are out there to make an impact at WR but the combination of TE issues plus OL youth and unproven guys like Braden having a huge role is going to be an issue. Any injury to the OL also brings in guys with zero experience. But really it's all going to fall on Devin improving his decision making, ability to diagnose presnap, etc. When Devin is Vince Young Jr (ala OSU and ND) he makes a lot of issues go away. But this is potentiall year 4 of "superman QB" and I'd rather return to the era of a balanced offense.
I am pretty hopeful on the defense but we need a Lewis for example to really step up here. And I'm worried about the 2nd safety. Not worried about the DTs as I think we have enough guys - much like the WRs - that someone is going to jump out of the pack.
I think the schedule is also a lot more tricky than most assume. I see a lot of trouble out of that Utah team, Minnesota played everyone tough late last year (UM's best game of the year last year IMO), Northwestern will be back to being a pesky team with an offense that sucks to play, and PSU is just about the same level as UM right now so those are all toss up games to me.
With 3 tough road games against rivals and 4 "toss up" games I just listed, that is 7 games to me that are very much in question. And at this point I cannot even point to @Rutgers as a sure thing.
Still a year away.
I'll get back off my own lawn now.
I've saved this post to a file and will be reviewing it at the end of the season. Someone writes this kind of pump up/pie-in-the-sky post every year in fall camp.
A REALISTIC view of Michigan's outlook in 2014 might be something like: 10-2 ceiling, 6-6 floor with 8-4 being most likely.
Losses @Notre Dame, @Michigan State and @ Ohio State are all extremely likely. Throw in at least one "Whut?" loss that UM seems to have every season (@ Northwestern or @ Rutgers seems most likely) and there's your 8-4 season.
Agree with your ceiling floor comments and I'll look forward to you reposting this in late November ;)
But @NW is not a "whut" loss. UM has been VERY fortunate vs NW the past half decade. It seems like we steal their lunch money at the end of games a lot. They have a tricky offense, and a defense that is not super physical but is competent enough to keep them in games.
They are 9-4, 8-5, 7-6, 6-7, 10-3 in 5 of the last 6 years (last year they were obliterated by injuries). They are a 2nd tier Big 10 team which is where UM, Iowa, and PSU currently reside right now. A loss to them at their place I would not place at whut but yes we have a whut loss annually.
NW also returns 17 starters, which I believe is the second most in the conference. I think the media has kind of cooled on them after their disappointing season last year, but I expect them to be much better this year, if they stay healthy.
As far as Michigan goes, I do think they will win a minimun of 8 games. I think the ND game will be very telling. If they can go in to South Bend and get a huge road W, then I believe the sky is the limit. It'd be nice to get that road monkey off their back. My guess would be 9-3, but if they beat ND, then I can easily see a 10-2 or 11-1 regular season record.
I agree with you completely re: Northwestern but it seems as though a LOT of posters on this site still consider N'Western as a "should win" game most seasons even when it is played in Evanston. So, I was thinking more in terms of what I felt most of the MGoPosters (especially the types like the OP) would think about UM losing to NW.
I think we still may be one year away. We are still very young but appear to be loaded with talent. I wouldn't be surprised if we were really tough this year. If I was forced to make a prediction, I would guess we are a ten win team right now. Each day that goes by has me more optimistic. It was still frightening how young we were when going through the roster, but at some point you have to quit using that as an excuse and blow some people up.
Looking through my maize and blue colored glasses, our celing is 15-0 and our floor is 14-1.
Great write up and I love your optimism. 12-0 is certainly achievable as I agree that I don't think there is one true mismatch game on our schedule. However I think our floor could be closer to 8-4 or even 7-5. At worst, we lose all 3 rival games, and drop one or two other games. BUT I really do not see that happening. I am feeling a 9-3 or 10-2 season with our offense taking a few games to gel but picking up more during big ten play. I think our defense will be great this year, circa 2011 team.
I'm excited about the athletes on both sides of the ball, and very excited about the defense. I think the defense will be very good, with the only question mark in my mind the DT position. Every other position on defense is full of talent and experience. UM won't be throwing underclassmen out there out of necessity - any underclassman who sees the field on defense will do so because he earned it.
Offense is great, but there are still question marks in a lot of places:
My expectations are that the offense is going to be frustratingly average. We see all the athletes and stars and whatever, but I think they'll be hamstrung by the offensive line. I'd love to be wrong, and I really hope the oline makes a quantum leap, but I don't think that's a realistic expectation. I think we'll see the defense keep the team in games against tougher opponents, and Gardner will be able to somewhat make up for deficiencies on the line, but they'll lose some close games.
My baseline expectation for w/l is 8-4. Next year is the year I think they'll put it all together and win 10 or 11 games (or more).
Very good post. I'd add that the 2nd S is not settled either on defense so its not just the DT. That's a QB on defense and we are going to be playing someone there with little to no experience - Thomas/Hill/Peppers.
was about the offensive line, you are glossing over the issue. You can't win if your QB lay in a heap of being dead 5 games into a season.
But let me ask this... If Gardner gets hurt in the third quarter of the Minnesota game with UM up 28-3, should Hoke go with Bellomy or Morris? (If Gardner is out long term, no question go with Morris, right? Or will there be differences of opinion there?)
The Bellomy argument: It saves Morris and a reshirt possibility.
The Morris argument: He's the better QB.
With actually having a QB depth chart now with scholarship QBs behind Gardner (Morris, Bellomy, Speight) maybe the saving of Morris isn't as huge a deal. I know verbals are only verbals, but if Morris doesn't redshirt, his senior year, Speight will be a junior, Malzone a sophomore, and DeWeaver a freshman. Maybe the need for a 5th year from Morris isn't as pressing?
No reason to redshirt Morris this season, next year he will probably be the started so any live game experience he can get should only help him prepare (hopefully it will be mop up time against most of the schedule instead of filling in for DG).
nutshell! I admittedly don't know the team as well as Michiganman2014, so reading this was enlightening and got my motor going! I'm now late for work but who cares, I'm stoked!
As many stated, my concern (mild) is with the O-line. In particular, I'm very interested to see how Magnuson does with the change and am holding my breathe just a bit with Kalis. I believe in him, but he needs huge improvement this year. I saw a comment from one poster stating that a simplified play-set by Nuss would help the O-line tremendously and I sense it could help Kalis the most.
Damn, you got me excited for this year! THanks MM14.
I generally agree with comments on the defense. However, I have to agree with others there is way too much optimisim regarding the state of the offense. There are way too many question marks on Oline, Receiver, RB, and backup QB. The Oline performed badly in the spring. One projected starting tackle missed all of spring practice, another played half, the projected starting TE is coming off ACL surgery and most likely not be back for the start of the season and certainly will not be 100%(aka Jake Ryan). Our projected starting center is suspended the first game. His first game will be in South Bend. Outside of Funches there is no other proven receiver. Canteen made a couple nice catches in the spring game. Ditto for the RB's. Lastly Morris showed me nothing against a very pedestrian KSU defense. Any throw beyond the line of scrimmage was a struggle.
Gardner is a speical talent who can carry the entire team to a victory. The defense has a lot of the makings of the 97 defense. However, there are too many question marks to presume we are going to run the table or perhaps have only one stumble. For running the table every single question mark has to affirmatively be answered and we cannot afford a single injury to a key player on offense. Lastly, Hoke will have to do something for the first time 3 times this year which is win a tough road game.
Including a bowl game 9-4 seems about right. I would applaud 14-0 and a BCS Championship also. But it is not going to happen.
Whenever Michigan has fielded great teams the interior on both sides of the ball was next level. Once we get back to that, look out. We're still young on both sides, but also have some guys who have gotten their feet wet and should be ready to take it to the next level. It's now or never.
or next year
How about we replace with when blank has fielded great teams the interior on both sides of the ball was the next level.
Regarding offense output:
2013: 59 W, 41 W, 28 W, 24 W, 42 W, 40 L, 63 W, 6 L, 13 L, 27 W, 21 L, 41 L
That's points scored and game result.
33.75 points per game
24.2 points per game in losses
I'm not sure how much more improved the offense can be when it comes to putting up points (which is the ultimate measure). They were dominated in two games (MSU and Nebraska) (three if you want to include the Northwestern game which required 3 OT's to garner 27 pts), They put up 21 points or more in every other game win or lose.
Better consistentency, fewer turnovers, and fewer three and outs (which also lose yardage) from the offense could help the overall flow of the game for the defense. That is probably the biggest upside to expect changing from Borges to Nuss.
2013: 9 W, 30 W, 24 W, 21 W, 13 W, 43 L, 47 W, 29 L, 17 L, 19 W, 24 L, 42 L
That's points given up and game result.
26.5 points per game given up
31.0 points per game given up in losses
If the offense improves in the three areas mentioned above, hopefully the D can pull these numbers down by a touchdown a game. This is why I am more interested in how the D will improve.
The loss points per game is skewed by those two 40+ point games against PSU and OSU.
we also only scored 28 and 24 against akron and uconn...
and some of the opponents scores were inflated from pick 6s early on in the season, and we scored some ourselves too (Iowa comes to mind)
So the defense looks worse than it was and the offense looks better than it was. We beat up on shitty defenses
Could this not be said of almost any season? That is why averages are often used to guage performance.
The PSU game was also skewed by OT. I think the points from (while all that matters in the end) was a bit skewed by OTs and playing a lot of bad teams. What was lost last year was that the schedule was not tough. We had OSU, ND and Nebraska at home. Our 2nd toughest road game was a very mediocre PSU... maybe an average Iowa team.
NW was gutted. Indiana had a HS level defense. Scoring 59 against CMU doesnt mean much . Akron and UConn were both horrid teams - not bad teams, but horrid. It was a very favorable schedule and a special talent (when he was on) did some great things at QB. When he was off we had no alternative as we had no running game.
I get your general point but sometimes stats lie. Anyone watching that offense last year saw it was a 1 dimensional boom or bust situation. And it faced a lot of very bad defenses (Akron, UConn, Indiana, CMU). The 4 games the offense put in a good showing were ND OSU Indiana and Minnesota - and in 3 of those Devin was the show.
Thank you for that. I wanted to feel excited about 2014, but just couldn't put the pieces together. Nice write up. A bit optomistic about Petters; but, otherwise a nice overview.
My feeling is that 2 veterans and 3 inexperienced guys < 5 guys coming back with solid playing time. I see major strides this year! Go Blue!
Gimme some of that sweet ambrosia!
Regarding your question of whether Hagerup is back to full punting. Take a look at the following link. This comes from this summer's Kohls's National College/NFL Free Agent competition, the biggest such event in the country.
Over the course of charting, Hagerup averaged -- averaged -- 61+ yds and 4.7 hang time, blowing away more than 50 other punters. Note where everyone's favorite, MSU's Mike Sadler is on these charts. I'd say Hagerup is ready to go.
First of all, great post, and I love the optimism. My expectations are bit more tempered, but I don't think we have to wait until MSU to see what kind of team we have. Last year's team showed their colors in the non-conference schedule; this year's version will do the same. I'll grade each point based on the number of wins (out of 13) that I believe the position could help us acheive.
1. QB - I believe DG is an excellent starter, and I believe Morris is a more than capable back-up. We are in great shape here. That said, DG does not always make the best decisions, and struggles with consistency. 10/13
2. WR/TE - Funchess is one of the most talented players in the country, but after that it's a lot of potential. There is plenty of size and talent, but are they ready? It's nice to have some Dileo-type reliable players, and we don't have those. There is potential for greatness, but also some likely inconsistency of youth. At TE, it's pretty much Jake Butt in the pass-catching department. It will be interesting to see how Nuss' uses the position. 9/13
3. RB - On paper, it is one of the most talented backfields in the country, even without Isaac. With Isaac, only 'Bama could lay claim to a stronger group. But the game isn't played on paper, and it's not all about talent. Pass-blocking, vision, and getting your assingment right are all just as important as talent, and often times those all improve with experience...which we don't have. 9/13
4. OL - I firmly believe this year's group will do what I expected last year's group to do: improve weekly and be solid, if not very good, by the time we play in EL and certainly by Columbus. That said, we are starting from an extremely low baseline--the worst OL season in school history--and have a long way to go to get to championship form. If this line was playing with less talent around it, I fear it may be a seven-win line. I hope I'm wrong. 7/13
5. DL - We actually have more than adequate experience at DE. Clark and Beyer are good players, but neither are great, and unless Clark takes another giant step forward, this group will not be elite. Inside, there are more questions. We have some real talent in Henry, Wormley, Hurst, Pipkins, and even the young Mone, and don't sleep on Glasgow--he will play big minutes and will be steady. But unless a couple of those guys emerge as consistent playmakers, we're still just a group loaded with potential. That said, there is more experience here than at most positions, and I think the group will be good, though not the play-making force of a championship DL. Again, I hope I'm wrong. 10/13
6. LB - The most experienced and deepest position group on the team, the LBs MUST lead our defense if we have any shot at winning the B1G. JMFR is the real deal, but is playing in a new position. Morgan is a solid player, especially against the run, but if we're being honest, he would have been a career back-up on most Carr defenses. JRIII was supposed to have a breakout 2013, and now he's fighting RJS for the starting spot. Gedeon, Bolden, and McCray round out a formidable group with excellent depth. But other than Ryan, is there a play-maker in the group? 10/13
7. DB - Countess and Taylor are legitimate starters. Lewis might be good enough to unseat one of them, and Stribling is right there. We have very, very good CBs, even without Peppers. Some talk as if this is a weakness; I believe CB will be second only to LB as a strength on our defense. Wilson is a first-team all-B1G talent, and now has some experience to go along with that. But the other safety spot is a pretty big question mark. Hill, Thomas, Clark, and perhaps even Watson or Peppers, all have the talent, but safety is one of the more cerebral positions on the field where youth is often burned. That said, this is a very good secondary that should be lights-out in 2015. 10/13
8. ST - An often overlooked piece to a championship team. I expect our coverage units will be among the best in the B1G. Is Wile going to give the same consitency that Gibbons did? Will Hagerup stay out of trouble? Will Kenny Allen's kickoffs be consistent and deep? Norfleet is an exciting player, but not an especially productive one. We need help there. I actually predict that Norfleet is not returning kicks OR punts by season's end; we have better options now. But I don't see game-changers at any of the ST positions. 9/13
9. Schedule - Our three toughest games are on the road. At Northwestern isn't easy either. Maryland, Minnesota, Penn State, and Utah are all capable of beating us if we don't show up. That said, we should be favored in all but the three rivalry games. 9/13.
That all averages out to 9.22 wins. I do believe we have a 10-win defense, but the offense averages less than 9.
There are no holes anywhere but on the OL, but we also lack consistent game-changers. DG, Funchess, and Ryan are the established playmakers, and none of them have demonstrated consistency. To be an 11-win team we'll need all three of them to step-up, as well as at least three more guys. If, for example Clark, Henry, Wilson, and a CB emerge as defensive game-breakers, and the OL, a WR, Butt, and a RB emerge on offense--all of which are at least possible for the first time in many years--then we can be a championship team.
It's wonderul that we finally have championship potential; but for now, it's still mostly potential. 9-4 leaning closer to 10-3 than 8-5. If it's 8 wins or less and it's anything other than bad luck, I will be extremly disappointed.
My prediction is that UM loses 3 out of 4 at OSU, MSU, ND, N'Western and one other "head scratcher" game.
I think this year's team will be better than the one game improvement in the record vs. last year though. UM lost three games last year that were head scratchers (PSU, Nebraska, Iowa) and got blown out at MSU. I don't see them pissing away wins like this nor do I see them getting blown out or eeking out wins against inferior talent like Akron, and at UConn or in miracle fashion like Northwestern last year. The losses will be competitive (like OSU) which will make them sting that much more and likely turn many into Doug Nussmeier doubters, but that's to be expected. I could also see a loss coming early like Utah, Minnesota, or Rutgers before the OLine gets it together and really takes a step forward in mid October.
To go from a Drew Dileo miracle play away from a 6 game losing streak to end the season to 8-4 will all competitive losses and no miracle wins against Nancy's is an improvement for which I'd sign up in a heartbeat.
The irony is as bad as the offense was if you could have removed Borges from the tactical play calling PSU and Neb would have most certainly have been wins. There were strings of calls that just defied comprehension.
I love it but like some on here, I am trying to keep it in check right now. The last few years I have been like the OP but I am really trying hard to keep it under control and really go in watching games with a blank slate type of thing.
We have good talent and depth, we have good coaches, our schedule is manageable....time to execute.
I am so jacked for the season to begin...cant wait to wake up that Saturday morning, go for a run, get suited and booted, make breakfast and bloody mary's, sit down, volume up and get the 2014 season under way and see what this team is about.
If the 2007 team with Long, Hart, Henne, Manningham, etc. can lose 4 games, this year's team sure can. What happens if someone like Funchess gets injured? If history is an indicator, some projected starter will get injured in camp or the first few games of the year and be out for most of the year. If it's on defense or a RB, it's probably not a big deal. If it's on the offense (outside of RB) we could be in trouble. Don't me wrong, the talent, depth, and experience (minuse the o-line) is back to what I think we expect it to be, but the inexperience in the o-line can hault all the talent in the world at the skill positions. And, when the poster says 9-3 is the basement, I don't get that. From what I understand, that's just assuming UM wins the games they are favored in and loses the ones they aren't. So, that's really the expectation, not the basement. The basement should be assuming you lose some you don't expect to. And, FWIW, a return to the norm (from my generation late 80's-early 00s) would be more like losing to Utah (west coast team) and ND and beating MSU, PSU, and OSU. Or at least that's how I remember them ha.
was racked by injuries to Henne and Hart. The first two losses (Ap St and Oregon were legit). Against Wisky UM sat the injured players because they knew they weren't playing for a national title and no matter whether they beat Wisky or lost, first place in the Big Ten would be determined by what they did against OSU. Not saying the players didn't try and the coaches didn't try against Wisky, but they sat the injured players to give them more time to heal for the OSU game. OSU game - tough loss. Carr played the loyalty card with Henne after it was obvious Chad couldn't throw the ball.
I think it's unrealistic to believe there won't be unique challenges this year. It's almost impossible to predict what they will be, just as no one probably would have predicted how 2007 would play out. But, if anyone is expected all the guys on the depth chart to be healthy all year long and I think they are being incredibly optimistic. Ryan was injured last year, Countess, Touissant, and Denard injured the year before for parts of the season, Stonum left the team, Hagerup on suspension, etc. Something unexpected that makes a major contributer unable to play is virtually a gurantee. And, if it happens at a position like QB, TE, WR, or o-line it could be a major problem.
I'll have what you're having, sir.
But in all seriousness, I do believe the talent is there to win any game on our schedule, but I think you need to dial back on the homerism a little bit. As much as I wouldn't want to either.
Yes, there's a lot of talent on this team, but we can't match OSU's talent position by position. Their D-Line is otherworldly, and ours is essentially all hype right now, and very minimal production. Their O-Line, even though its replacing 4 starters, is better than ours until proven otherwise. I'd even go so far as to say that a team like Purdue's might have a better O-Line than ours. We were hilariously bad last year.
"Talent levels" between us and MSU has not meant squat over the past 7 years. And I'm assuming you're defining talent by what Scout and Rivals tell you. MSU has beaten the crap out of us year after year with 2-3 star leftovers that schools like Michigan passed on, and we simply have not even come close to matching MSU's level of intensity and physicality with that game. Dantonio develops his players into stars, so I'd say that even though what we're bringing in might be "better," what they're sending out of their program has been far, far better of late. Especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Gardner can be special, and can be the #1-2 QB in the league when he's on his game. But until proven otherwise, he's wildly inconsistent. I think having Nuss will help him a lot, but we just never know what we're going to get each week with Gardner.
There is no proven talent for our wideouts outside of Funchess. And our top TE is out with an ACL injury until at least the Big Ten opener. This could be a special group, but for now, its all hype after Funchess.
Linebackers will be strong, but JMFR is adjusting to a new position, so I'm not sure that he'll be the same pass rush threat he was last year. Ross regressed last year, and Morgan is good, but not a game-changer.
RBs are good, but unless we have major, major improvement on the O-Line, we could have the combined offspring of Adrian Petersen and Barry Sanders in our backfield and it wouldn't matter.
Bottom line: I see what you're saying, and this team could win 10-11 games. But it could also revert to 7-8 wins, losses to all 3 rivals, including that typical headscratcher game that we've become accustomed to every year.
Thank you. 9-3 is far from the basement...it may even be optimistic as most "experts" nationally are predicting 8-4. We all agree on the talent, but to believe it comes to fruition this year and everything clicks and the program simply takes off and returns to our expectations is a bit of a dream IMO. Most things in life don't work that way. You see signs of improvement and steps towards success well before you see results. It's unlikely that as bad as some parts of the team played at certain times last year that they won't ever happen again this year. I think the main goal should be that if there are mistakes they occur early and the team improves late in most aspects of the game, which has been the opposite as of late. I know it makes that harder when outside of ND the schedules have been back loaded, but that's the hope.
Thank you. Like you, I'm finding reasons and making a choice to be happy.
Reading about men's tackle football on this site has been like watcing The Leftovers on HBO.
UM gets OSU & MSU at home (though opening at Utah may be difficult) but the rest of the non conference schedule is at home.
Every team in America will lose senior contributors and UM is no different. But Hoke & Co. have done a nice job of building depth behind them.
Gardner - Morris/Speight
Ryan & Morgan - Ferns/Kirkland/Gedeon/McCray/Jenkins-Stone/Bolden
Beyer & Clark - Charlton/Marshall/Ojemudia/Poggi/Strobel
Taylor (Countess too if he leaves early) - Peppers/Watson/Lewis
UM may be better positioned than most teams to fill in the few gaps created by eligibility after '14, and with the more favorable schedule, '15 may be the better season for which to predict 10-12 wins.