2007 RECORD: 9-4; BIG TEN: 6-2
Won Capitol One Bowl vs. Florida 41-35
LOCATION: Ann Arbor, Michigan
STADIUM: Michigan Stadium (107,501)
HEAD COACH: Rich Rodriguez
OVERALL: 105-62-2 (15 seasons)
AT MICHIGAN: First Season
Everyone is expecting a down season for the Wolverines with a complete upheaval in system and philosophy, not to mention a ton of losses on the offensive side of the ball…but they still cracked the Coaches Poll at No. 24. Michigan is still Michigan and there will be no shortage of talent—particularly on the defensive side of the ball. If Rich Rodriguez can find a quarterback, watch out.
WHEN THE MAIZE & BLUE HAVE THE BALL
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Calvin Magee (1st Season)
OFFENSIVE STARTERS RETURNING: 2
KEY LOSSES: Chad Henne, Mike Hart, Jake Long, Mario Manningham, Adrian Arrington, Adam Krause, Ryan Mallet (TRAN), Justin Boren (TRAN)
As if losing super seniors QB Chad Henne, RB Mike Hart and OT Jake Long (No. 1 overall pick in ’08 NFL Draft) wasn’t bad enough, junior wideouts Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington left early for the pros, and blue chip recruit Ryan Mallet transferred out. With WR Greg Matthews, RB Brandon Minor and RB Kevin Grady leading a stable of skill players, there is no shortage of playmakers. But who will run the offense? No one knows for sure. Another area of uncertainty is the offensive line, typically a position of stability in Ann Arbor. Sophomore Steve Schilling is a stud tackle and they always bring in top recruits, but it could take time for them to gel as a unit.
TOP PROSPECTS: 1) OT Steve Schilling (SO), 2) WR Greg Matthews (JR)
WHEN THE OTHER TEAM HAS THE BALL
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Scott Shafer (1st Season)
DEFENSIVE STARTERS RETURNING: 7
KEY LOSSES: Shawn Crable, Jamar Adams, Chris Graham, Brandent Englemon
The Wolverines have the pieces in place to have one of the top defenses in the nation and it starts up front where they return all four starters. DT Terrance Taylor can dominate opponents at the point of attack, and ends Tim Jamison and Brandon Graham are each capable of reaching double digits in sacks. All three need to play with more consistency. The second unit has to replace two starters on the outside, including sack-master Shawn Crable, but sophomore MIKE Obi Ezeh is ready to step up and is a star in the making. The secondary returns both corners with Donavan Warren, one of the top freshman in the nation last season. They should be better at safety with junior Stevie Brown ready to bust out.
TOP PROSPECTS: 1) CB Donavan Warren (SO), 2) DT Terrance Taylor (SR)
I know, I know, it begins and ends with Ohio St., but before they get to “the game” the Maize and Blue must protect the Big House. The season opens with the upstart Utes from Utah and how fast can you say Appalachian St.? Big Ten action begins with home games versus ranked foes Wisconsin and Illinois. They also play host to rival Michigan St., who could be much improved. Both their season and conference play begin in the Big House and Rodriguez had better take advantage of that.
Quarterback: The fact that they’re replacing four of five starters along the offensive line is not getting enough attention. Nevertheless, Rodriguez’s version of the spread offense is all about the quarterback (see Pat White). Freshman Steven Threat and sophomore Nick Sheridan come into camp as the top two players on the depth chart, but the player who is creating the most buzz and may ultimately be the best fit in shotgun is incoming true freshman Justin Feagin.
CFI FINAL ANALYSIS
Talent at Michigan is a given. However it has been quite some time since the Wolverines have had to replace this much ability on the offensive side of the ball. There is also a new attitude adjustment they have had to make, as the traditionalists went “outside the family” in hiring Rodriguez to replace Lloyd Carr. Those who wonder whether their bowl streak is jeopardy are going a bit too far into the realm of doom and gloom, but a spot in the final top 25 is not guaranteed. They will go as far as their quarterback (whoever he is) takes them.
Friday, August 8, 2008
2007 RECORD: 9-4; BIG TEN: 6-2