How does Lewan coming back change your expectations for next year?

Submitted by WolverineFanatic6 on January 9th, 2013 at 9:30 PM
Title says it all. I was thinking 10-2 prior to the announcement. Now I'm thinking 12-0 may be a realistic achievement. Sure we will need a few lucky breaks but the schedule sets up nice, the defense will be better and now we won't have to worry about Devins blind side. What are your thoughts fellow mgobloggers?


the Glove

January 10th, 2013 at 8:42 AM ^

I don't know what kind of Kool Aid everybody's drinkin on here, but I do not see them going 12-0. There are definitely some question marks on the defense, let alone the offense. When I was 20 I would have said definitely going undefeated, but then you grow up and become a realist. They are still 2 years away from playing at an elite level. Best case scenario 9-3 and hopefully competing for a big 10 title. Nebraska's offense is going to be something to be reckoned with, it's going to be all on what their defense can do.

A guys at the end of the Indiana game the last year of Rich Rods tenure told me there was no way that Michigan was not going to win a national championship that year. I laughed and said, "did you not just see that defense? Good luck living in that fantasy world." Some people just don't want to see what's right in front of them.

Ron Utah

January 10th, 2013 at 12:11 PM ^

I can't get on board with that.  I'm older too, and I hope more realistic, but to say 9-3 is the best case is just getting downright stodgy.

The DG-led offense demonstrated serious potential, even with the worst interior O-line at Michigan in many, many years.  If our line gets to even average Michigan levels--and with Lewan back I think it will be even better than average--than our offense should be able to produce points.  Why:

  • DG is an extremely efficient player.  He may lack consistent accuracy, but he excellent at scrambling for the first down and our 3rd down conversion rate with him at QB was amazing.
  • Gallon should be All-B1G next year.
  • Funchess should catch 30 balls next year, and is probably good for 8 TDs or so.
  • Dileo is a reliable slot threat who was used well once DG took over at QB.
  • Hayes and Rawls will have an off-season to battle for the starting RB job.  I do believe one of them will emerge as a solid option.  Both have talent and will get a steady diet of carries.  Adding Deveon Smith to the mix also encouraging; Derrick Green would be amazing.  My point is that I do NOT believe our RBs will have a terrible 2013
  • Darboh and Chesson should contribute; Al Borges has a history of getting production out of his WRs no matter who they are.  Both these guys are talented and should produce something next year.
  • DEFENSE.  I don't see many question marks.  You never return 11 starters.  Sure, we are losing 5, but only one of those players (Kovacs) is concerning, and there were NO other seniors on the two-deep.  If we can find an adequate replacement at safety--and I believe we can--our defense should be substantially upgraded.  Heitzman, Bolden/Ross, Countess, and even Jarrod Wilson are all athletically superior to the guys they replace, and BWC was really just a rotational player this year already.  Black, Henry, Godin, Pipkins, etc should have no trouble replacing him.  The Defense is likely to be better in 2013.

So what I'm saying is that a better defense and a much easier schedule might not be enough to get us to 12-0, but to say 9-3 is the ceiling after going 8-4 against a far tougher schedule is obnoxiously pessimistic.  I think 9-10 wins should be the expectation, with 11 a pleasant surprise and 8 a terrible mess.  12 wins is an outlier, IMO, but so is 8.


January 10th, 2013 at 1:14 PM ^

Going back to 1969—a span of 43 seasons—we have had 21 years of 8 wins or less in the regular season. That's just a bit under 50%.

In that same time span of 43 seasons, we have had all of 2 in which we were undefeated and untied—11-0 in 1971, and 12-0 in '97.

You're right that 12-0 is an outlier, but unfortunately 8-win seasons have been surprisingly commonplace.

Der Alte

January 10th, 2013 at 8:44 AM ^

As M fans contemplate their team's chances for 2013, thoughts of 12-0 often arise. And why not? Anything can happen. In fact, it could all hinge on four game situations:

First, M won't start the season against the BCS champion. Second, against ND Golson might throw 4 ints (and a RB throw one more), thus ensuring an M victory. Against NE a banged-up Martinez might have to leave the game and be replaced by an struggling RS freshman, ensuring yet another victory. In the final, tightly fought game, with two stout Ds controlling the second half, M's two FGs would provide the only second-half scoring and the winning margin against Ohio.

I mean, this stuff has happened before, and can happen again. 12-0 is out there. Never give up hope!


January 10th, 2013 at 8:48 AM ^

I'm less a football expert than most here, but have consistently predicted closer to our actual season-end WLs than most, the record will show. People just tend to be wildly optimistic about what it takes. Nine and three would be great for me next year, with better to come.  


January 10th, 2013 at 9:15 AM ^

Some early thoughts on our O-line


LT- Taylor-duh

LG- Kalis-beast

C- Miller, but Kugler will challenge

RG- Schofield vs Bryant

RT- Braden vs Magnuson, Schofield moving inside increases our athleticism


How long until practice starts..too long!


January 10th, 2013 at 1:45 PM ^

I have also heard a lot of this Schofield to guard talk on the MGoBlog. But i can't say that I have heard it anywhere else. Do we have a reason to think this will be a thing, or is it just a lot of hopeful speculation. 

Don't get me wrong, it would be great if Braden is good enough to unseat Schofield, but I'm just not entirely certain its going to happen. Although that would give us a pretty mean left side--*cough*cough* Derrick Green *Cough*Cough*


January 10th, 2013 at 9:23 AM ^

Too many people are just writing off Fitz. Granted, he had a forgettable season. But he came in late -- his own fault, yes -- and was running behind a very meh line that didn't open many holes for any other backs, either. And then, of course, the leg. But he's shown himself to be a very good back in the right circumstances. And I expect he'll come back very hungry. That's assuming he heals properly, of course. But there's no reason to assume he won't. I'm excited about a running game that includes Lewan, Fitz, and Green/Smith. 


January 10th, 2013 at 9:55 AM ^

As much as I hate saying this, because I've been extremely high on Fitz going back to before he even stepped on campus, but there is a very real chance his amazing string of games last season was a mirage.

His success basically came as a direct result of teams totally focusing on shutting down Denard, and basically allowing Fitz to beat them. 

If you go back and look at Denard's rushing stats in the games Fitz went off on people, they're generally pretty pedestrian, and vice versa. 


Here is that monster stretch at the end of the year for Fitz....

Purdue: 20 carries - 170 yards - 8.5 ypc

Iowa: 16 - 58 - 3.6

Illinois: 27 - 192 -  7.1

Nebraska: 29 - 138 - 4.8

Ohio: 20 - 120 - 6

Here were Denard's stats in those same games....

Purdue: 15 - 63 - 4.3

Iowa: 12 - 55 - 4.6

Illinois: 12 - 30 - 2.5

Nebraska: 23 - 83 - 3.6

Ohio: 26 - 170 - 6.5


Here are the games Denard went off on people early in 2011......

Notre Dame: 16- 108 - 6.8

Eastern: 26 - 198 - 7.6

SDSU: 21 - 200 - 9.5

Minn: 6 - 51 - 8.5

NW: 25 - 117 - 4.7

Here are Fitz's numbers from those same games.....

Notre Dame: Didn't play.

Eastern: 11 - 46 - 4.2

SDSU: 13 - 67 - 5.2

Minn: 11 - 108 - 9.8

NW: 14 - 25 - 1.8


So while that doesn't necessarily tell the whole story, you can see a pattern emerge. I'm not saying Fitz is bad or anything, but I think it's pretty plain to see that his success was a direct result of teams opting to let him do his thing and focus on shutting down Denard. The only game where he and Denard really went off in the same game was against OSU.

This past year it felt like teams decided to focus exclusively on shutting Fitz down, while letting Denard run wild in the hopes that he would get banged up or wear down, and it showed.

Mr. Yost

January 10th, 2013 at 9:30 AM ^

We'd be undefeated going into the Ohio game.

This gives me more hope that we WIN that game. Lewan stopping Ohio's edge rushers and providing leadership in his last game in Michigan Stadium - HUGE!

SC Wolverine

January 10th, 2013 at 9:52 AM ^

I thought that our biggest question mark next year was the ability of all those young O-linemen to gel and perform.  This will help the O-line immensely.  I think this means that we should have at least a serviceable running game and a good passing game to go with a suffocating defense.  In college football, that means the sky is the limit.  I have a lot of confidence in DG and I think this means the offense will click pretty well.  A huge deal.

STW P. Brabbs

January 10th, 2013 at 9:53 AM ^

Part of the problem is that people read 'prediction' as 'best-case scenario that is at least reasonably possible.' I don't think it's insane to think Michigan could go 12-0 considering our talent and our schedule, but you're off your damn rocker if you think that's the most likely result. It's better to think in terms of a baseline, or a midpoint between best and worst outcomes, IME.

Howeva, I have a hard time thinking objectively at all about OSU, and I think that unless we start seeing a Cooper/Lloyd dynamic start to unfold, The Game's as unpredictable as it gets (also leaving aside the immense talent discrepancies from 2009-2011). That said, to me the baseline is 10-2 with an OSU win and 9-3 with a loss. I'm predicting two losses from the NW, MSU, NU, PSU, ND quintet, in order of increasing likelihood. Predicting three losses from that group isn't entirely batty either.

Eye of the Tiger

January 10th, 2013 at 10:00 AM ^

We're a great home team under Hoke, but not a great road team. Expect at least one road loss, wtih the likeliest candidates being MSU and Northwestern. (Just because MSU crashed this year doesn't mean it won't be very difficult to win in East Lansing next it happens it was very difficult to beat them in Ann Arbor this year). 

In terms of home games, ND doesn't really scare me without Teo and Eifert. Nor does Nebraska. So it comes down to Ohio. Are we going to be good enough to theoretically beat them at home? I think so. Are we going to actually beat them at home? We'll see.  



January 10th, 2013 at 10:54 AM ^

I think that it is worth one victory, but not more.  I was thinking 8-4/9-3 before this.  Now I'm thinking 9-3/10-2.  Interior line is a huge question mark.  Receivers and TEs other than Gallon are huge question marks.  RB looks to have no talent outside of true freshmen.  D-line and defensive backfield are badly lacking in established playmakers.  Shedule is easier than average, but not a complete cupcake walk.  Penn State is on the road.  Iowa and MSU are teams that I think we would beat easily at home,but those are both on the road and we have sucked especially at Iowa City.  Two of our home games are against teams that went 12-0 this year.  Lots of games on that schedule next year where I would peg our chances of wining at about 60%, which means that I'm expecting a few losses.


January 10th, 2013 at 11:03 AM ^

Coaches have called guard his natural position. My guess is based more on the athleticism, length and speed of  Magnuson/ Braden. Both have much larger frames and longer arms, which is a huge help dealing with speedy edge rushers. I think Magnuson is our next All-American tackle.

E. Gordon Gee

January 10th, 2013 at 12:03 PM ^

I respect Lewan, and I think he's an absolute beast based on the games I've watched him play in this last season. I certainly think with the games against teams with good defenses (Scar, MSU, OSU) he held his own and could be a captain to help anchor the OL. However, I don't get how Lewan is equivalent to the"Michigan difference" between Michigan getting an extra win and not. It was predicted on another forum topic what Michigan record would be for the 2013 season but it seems a few says he's worth an extra win. If one player can singularly contribue to make that much of a difference, in which games do you see him making a difference? I wouldn't be too quick to sellout the talent on Michigan OL even without him.


January 10th, 2013 at 12:04 PM ^

We've heard the staff really likes Braden.  If he's so good, he should get on the field at RT.  Schofield can move back to LG next to Lewan, which worked really well in the past.  Then there are only two interior spots for a bunch of guys (Bryant, Miller, Kalis, Bars, the walkons, Kugler) to compete over.  Also, it gives Braden a chance to tune up for the point when the left handed Morris will be QB.  Magnusen understudies for another year behind Lewan at LT.

Ron Utah

January 10th, 2013 at 12:15 PM ^

But I like Kalis at LG.  That would give us two dominant run-blockers on one side, one of whom is smart enough to make the necessary calls to keep plays successful.  I'd rather not have both of our seniors right next to each other.  Let Schofield stay on the right side and help make the calls over there.


January 10th, 2013 at 12:42 PM ^

14-0 is obviously the correct answer.

I'd like to wait and see what happens in Spring Practice. I want to see if there is any attrition or if guys are struggling. We have a favorable schedule, we have Lewan coming back, we have what appears to be stability on defense, I think that we have a decent shot at going undefeated. I think it will be really tough though because I'm convinced that Michigan and Ohio State will face each other twice this season, possibly splitting the two games. I'd say anything below 10-2 would be a disappointing year.