Team Expectations for 2017 vs. 2018

Submitted by Henry Arulingverder on September 7th, 2017 at 3:13 AM

There is an almost universal consensus on this here blog that 2018 is "the year" due to almost the entire two-deep returning. We will return battle tested youngsters & will be loaded with depth across the board. 2018 will be the exact opposite of 2017, where instead of Mike McCray being the lone returner on Defense, he'll be the ONLY starter who won't be back. Perhaps not "CFP title or bust" but 2018 is definitely the year. Right?

I, too, feel this way. HOWEVER, why can't 2017 be the year? We know that there are four games on the schedule this year that matter (caveat about not taking teams lightly & the like). We just SHELLACKED the first of the four. Not smart to assume that because we handled PSU & Wisconsin with ease last year that 2017 will be the same - but I'm not convinced either of those teams can outplay us for 60 minutes, even on the road. OSU will be a revenge game at home

I've been bullish about 2018 being the year but after watching the Florida rout, I'm convinced 2017 is shaping up to be a special year. Any other glass half full peeps who feel this way?

Comments

Eye of the Tiger

September 7th, 2017 at 3:50 AM ^

In order to make it to the CFP, we need the following things to happen:

  1. We need all the first-year starters at all positions to play significantly more disciplined football than most first-year starters do
  2. We need the right side of the OL to improve quickly 
  3. We need Speight to to evolve back into "good Speight" and not revert to "bad Speight"
  4. We need all the freshmen who are getting 30+% of snaps to pan out as expected.
  5. We need an additional number of true freshmen to be adequate backups, especailly on the DL and in the secondary. 
  6. We need to avoid major injuries at a number of key positions
  7. We need some good fortune in the way of favorable calls, fortuitous bounces and mistakes by our opponents. 

It is certainly possible that all these things happen, but I don't think it's very likely. I think it's rather more likely that we get some of these things but not all. 

As far as Florida is concerned, it showcased both an offensive strength (explosiveness) and a weakness (efficiency).  PSU rode an explosive but not efficient offense to the Big 10 Championship Game last year, but like most people, I see that as fairly flukey. (And they needed #7 to beat OSU.) Most teams with explosive but not efficient offenses don't make it that far. 

2018, on the other hand...what an embarrassment of riches. Plus hopefully get Newsome back as well. 

 

gobluerebirth

September 7th, 2017 at 4:06 AM ^

With our coaching staff I expect we'll be in it. if we get hot at the right time like OSU has in the recent past with young talent.. we'll have a shot.
Defense will be Top 3.
it's built to stop OSU. barring too many disasters injuries we have a significant chance to be world beaters. Alabama beaters?.... one game at a time. ;)

Caesar

September 7th, 2017 at 5:18 AM ^

  • We need all the first-year starters at all positions to play significantly more disciplined football than most first-year starters do

I think the Florida game showed that things are coming along nicely--in a high-pressure environment and against elite talent (not so much against elite coaching). These kids have shown some impressive discipline, especially on defense, as I don't recall any huge busts.

And even where the discipline is lacking, I think the overall upgrade in athleticism will help things along, covering up some mistakes.

Good to wait on the UFR.

  • We need the right side of the OL to improve quickly 

I agree that they need to improve, but that showing against Florida's monster d-line wasn't by any means horrific. It looks like the coaches have figured out a way to keep things at least manageable, and given the state of things, that's not too bad. Also worth it to wait for the UFR, but the problem is not so bad that Harbuagh and staff haven't at least been able to scheme around it.

  • We need Speight to to evolve back into "good Speight" and not revert to "bad Speight"

Speight had one horrific throw--but he recovered from it. Overall, this was a pretty good performance with some really bad mistakes. Even the total whiff when Black (or was it Crawford?) was open came after a great protection check. Pretty awesome stuff.

  • We need all the freshmen who are getting 30+% of snaps to pan out as expected.

Again, so far so good. Black and DPJ look downright righteous. On D, Michigan's young corners did pretty well against some uber-athletic Florida receivers. They're more than on schedule, as far as I'm concerned. 

  • We need an additional number of true freshmen to be adequate backups, especailly on the DL and in the secondary 

Covered above, but one additional comment: it looks like Brown is minimizing the need for young fellows on the line by switching to a 3-3-5. Not bad. 

  • We need to avoid major injuries at a number of key positions

Agreed, but especially at QB. O'Korn is not inspiring. 

  • We need some good fortune in the way of favorable calls, fortuitous bounces and mistakes by our opponents. 

Looks like turnovers are headed our way, and I like the coaching matchups now that Michigan has about evened-out on talent. Of the major tests, who really scares you on coaching? Chryst is solid, and of course Meyer has assembled a pretty great staff (though we'll see how well Wilson has implemented his system against Oklahoma). But certainly not Penn State. Franklin is the Coach O of the B1G. 

canzior

September 7th, 2017 at 8:02 AM ^

other than to win games. There are no perfect teams. 

OSU is weak in the secondary, and their downfield passing game hasn't improved. 

Alabama's offense vs FSU was horrendous. Hurts is not a very good QB. They dont have the ability to pass rush using just the front 4 anymore, so they will have to blitz, and that weakens their coverage. And they dont usually have good db's, just a good pass rush. 

We all witnessed USC's blocking and WR play..Oklahoma...we'll know more on Saturday. 

Washington was losing to RUTGERS...during a football game. in 2017. of American Football. 

Point is, none of the good teams are perfect, so I don't expect Michigan to have to be either to win. Could an imperfect Michigan beat an imperfect PSU? an imperfect OSU?  Possibly.

Steve T

September 7th, 2017 at 4:21 AM ^

Maurice Hurst will also be departing after this year which is a big hole to fill. So, 2017 is definitely THE year!

Biggest improvement I'd like to see this year is a consistent, reliable run game. One game in to the season it is looking good. However, I am not sure how much of that was just missed assignments by Florida.

FatGuyTouchdown

September 7th, 2017 at 6:12 AM ^

on your part that if Michigan wins all their games that they could make the playoff. Also I wouldn't say that a 14-7 win at home over Wisconsin was "handling them with ease", and Penn State at night is truly one of the most hostile environments in college sports. Hostile away games will normally lead to more mistakes by younger teams. Not to mention, with a young team, it's absolutely possible to slip up in a conference game that you should win, like Maryland or Indiana. 

GVSUGoBlue

September 7th, 2017 at 7:21 AM ^

Better be rooting for Pitt this weekend. I could see a scenario where Michigan loses to Penn State, Penn State loses to Ohio State, and Ohio State loses to Michigan leaving all with 1 conference loss. The tiebreaker is head to head and then overall record. So hope for Pitt to win and in this scenario we would go to the big ten title game.

BJNavarre

September 7th, 2017 at 6:22 AM ^

Considering our lack of talented upperclassmen, 2017 & 18 should be down transitional years, but it's not looking that way. Just shows how strong Harbaugh's first full recruiting classes have been.

war-dawg69

September 7th, 2017 at 8:13 AM ^

So who's your team to win it all. Go ahead and say Alabama. Hurts threw for less than 100 yards in the fsu game and I believe Michigan will have the number one defense in the nation again. That guy exhausted me with all the things that have to go right for Michigan to make it to the playoffs. I do agree with you in some regard and that is Michigan's success once again will be tied to how well the offense performs in whole....not just Speight.

All teams will struggle against Michigan. They will not be able to run the ball and most won't try. Penn State will try to get Barkley out in space to throw the ball to him. Neutralize Barkley and Michigan wins. The only team that is balanced like Michigan is osu. You will not be able to run on them either. I think Michigan beats Wisconsin easily as they have no passing threat and there defense is not as good. I look for Michigan to be undefeated heading into the showdown with the buckeyes as itshould be.

Artie

September 7th, 2017 at 7:13 AM ^

Need to see more of this team to revise my expectation from the 9-3 season I predicted prior to the season's start. We probably won't know much for a while either since Florida was probably a paper gator.

Catchafire

September 7th, 2017 at 7:29 AM ^

I also expect a 9-3 type season. The BiG looks very strong this year and "cupcake" teams like MD, Indiana, Purdue and Rutgers didn't look very cupcake at all last weekend.

If our offense improves and our corners as well, I think we get to 9 and 3 easily.

For now, im going to enjoy this Saturday game.

denardogasm

September 7th, 2017 at 7:45 AM ^

Away game at night against PSU scares me the most. It seems like their offense will live up to the hype, although it remains to be seen what McSorley can do against a real defense. That will be a tough environment for a very young team.

EGD

September 7th, 2017 at 9:37 AM ^

Yeah, they could be.  But the same thing happened after the 41-7 blowout inthe Citrus Bowl.  "Yeah, Michigan won by a lot but Florida's players didn't care.  There's really no reason to celebrate a victory over a team that wasn't even trying..."  It's as though nothing is ever good enough for some people around here.  It can be awfully tiring.  

The thing is, the shark jokes are hilarious and all, but McElwain really is a pretty good coach.  He did well enough at Fresno State for Saban to hire him.  Then he did enough with Alabama to get the Colorado State job,  He had CSU headed in the right direction, and evidently Florida was impressed enough with his performance to pick him up.  Now he's won two SEC East titles despite his awful offenses--and the people who follow Florida really seemed to think their offense would be better this year, now that they have some legitimate options at QB and more experienced offensive line.  That could still happen.  But even if it does, there will still be Michigan people saying, "oh, well, Michigan was just lucky to get Florida in the first game when they still sucked, rather than in week 6 when the Gators look formidable..."

This Michigan team has some weaknesses that I think the very best teams in the country can exploit.  Pass protection is shaky against top defenses, as Jordan Sherit pretty much demonstrated.  The cornerback depth is lacking--so we could be vulnerable to teams capable go going 4- and 5-wide, especially if injuries occur.  Speight hasn't prove he can be consistent with his accuracy, and none of the backups have proven they can step in and win games if needed.  And we haven't yet seen how the youth on this team will respond in truly hostile road environments like Camp Randall or Beaver Stadium.  So that's why I think this team is likely to drop a couple games.  But it's still a very good team, and it just thumped a big-time program in a neutral-site game that just about every college football fan in the country was watching.  Give them some fucking credit.  

reddogrjw

September 7th, 2017 at 8:09 AM ^

We need some good fortune in the way of favorable calls, fortuitous bounces and mistakes by our opponents.

 

this is so true

 

the difference in our regular season and Clemson's last year was NC State missed their FG and Iowa made theirs

AZBlue

September 7th, 2017 at 10:28 AM ^

There was a decent chance we make the playoff given the close/controversial loss to OSU.

I can't remember if we would have won the tiebreaker to make the B1G championship game if that scenario but if so, a second win over UW might have sealed the deal.

With Speight's limited capacity with the injury I doubt we would have done much if we had made it.....but I am sure we would have at least scored a point.