Look, hi, you know me. Relentless Michigan realist/optimist that sort of called a 4-8 bottom to this year but also predicted 8-4 when it came down to it? Well, yeah. I have what I think is pretty bad news for 2009.
This is my probable count of senior starters in next year's lineup: five, one of whom might be in the NFL and one of whom is Stevie Brown.
No, seriously. There is significant buzz that 1) Ricky Barnum will displace an interior lineman (and given the way this year has played out that interior lineman will definitely by Tim McAvoy) and 2) Perry Dorrestein is currently hurt and that's the only reason he hasn't taken over at left tackle. So, yeah, then your starting lineup looks like:
- Seniors: David Moosman, Greg Mathews, Brandon Minor
- Juniors: Steve Schilling, Perry Dorrestein
- Sophomores: Martavious Odoms, Darryl Stonum, Kevin Koger, David Molk, Steven Threet
- Freshmen: Ricky Barnum.
- Seniors: Stevie Brown, Brandon Graham(?)
- Juniors: Jonas Mouton, Obi Ezeh, Donovan Warren, Ryan Van Bergen, Renaldo Sagesse
- Sophomores: JB Fitzgerald, Boubacar Cissoko, Mike Martin, Mike Williams
And that is the most veteran lineup I can assemble assuming the above changes on the OL. If Graham heads to the NFL you're looking at younger; if Threet gets beat out you're looking at younger; if Sagesse gets beat out you're looking at younger. A healthy return for Cory Zirbel would make the team older, but a couple weeks ago Rodriguez said his career might be over due to the injury he picked up.
It is reasonable to expect a significant step forward next year; it is not reasonable to expect the team to be actually good. The hole Michigan is in will take until 2010, or maybe even 2011, to dig out of entirely.
I'm tentatively hoping for that 8-4 I predicted this year and will be satisfied with 7-5, though we're a long way out for anything definitive. And that's assuming Michigan fills out the rest of its nonconference schedule, which currently stands at WMU and ND, with two tomato cans.