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2017 Fierce 40 Previews: #12 Michigan

by DJ Boyer on Aug. 13, 2017

#12 Michigan Wolverines

2016 Recap:
Michigan was able to prove that the Jim Harbaugh revival was not a flash in the pan. Michigan once again ended the season at 10-3 following a 33-32 defeat against Florida State in the Orange Bowl.


Coaching:
It's been Jim Harbaugh all news and all the time in Michigan and the Big Ten in general. Harbaugh has gone to great lengths to attract recruits and this is something that has been well chronicled and documented. Tim Drevno and Don Brown run the offensive and defensive units.

 

Offense

Michigan was amazingly efficient last season as the running game was ranked #33 and the passing game was #85. The scoring offense was ranked #11 at 40.3 PPG so Michigan made the most of their red zone oppotunities and with turnovers. Wilton Speight has defied most of the odds and remained at the quarterback helm and doing a fantastic job. Speight threw for 18 touchdowns with only 7 interceptions while doing at masterful job at spreading the ball around. Most of the reliable targets from last year are now gone and the receivers and starting tight end are all sophomore and none had more than 10 catches a season ago. The experience on offense is with the running backs and offensive line with Chris Evans leading the rushers and Mason Cole and Ben Bredenson looking like high picks in upcoming NFL drafts at center and guard.
 

Best Draft Prospects: Connor Williams OT 2nd Round 2018 (Early Declaration Candidate).

                                       Patrick Vahe OG 3rd/4th Round 2019.


Defense

Mike McCray is the lone starter coming back from the unit that ranked #1 nationally surrenderring an average of 262 YPG. McCray in one of only three projected starters that are seniors coming into the season so youth is with Michigan on the defensive side of the football. The defensive line will be among the finest in the conference due to Michigan always rotating players in and out of the lineup and keeping them fresh, inexperience is not something the Wolverines need to worry about. The secondary starters are still a little sketchy but look for Lavert Hill to seperate himself as a leader at cornerback and someone who will make a lot of plays in the Big Ten.

Best Draft Prospects: Rashan Gary DT 3rd Round 2020.             

                                       Mike McCray OLB 3rd/4th Round 2018.


Special Teams:

This is by far the biggest question mark going into the season as it looks like Michigan will have a freshman kicker and punter so who knows what to really expect. Throw in the loss of Jabrill Peppers in the return game and you have a unit that is drastically different.


Schedule:

Florida State was a loss to end the season so the Wolverines will open with Florida at a neutral site. Might be a great time to play the Gators with a number of suspensions just being handed down for that game. Purdue kicks off the Big Ten season on the road followed by a home game with the Spartans of Michigan State. Penn State is a road game in the middle of the year and the season ends with a road game in Wisconsin and a home game with Ohio State.


Draft and Overall Outlook:

The overall outlook is a bit murky because the schedule is one of the toughest in the nation and we are looking at how Tom Herman fits into the Texas culture in his first season. The talent will always be at Texas regardless if they are winning 10 games a year or 2.

 

DJ Boyer