#48 Michigan Football 2015 Preview

Michigan Wolverines

Overall Rank: #48
#8 Big Ten

Michigan Team Page#48 Michigan Football 2015 PreviewBuy Michigan Football Tickets

Michigan got their man when they hired Jim Harbaugh. Hopes are now high and rightfully so after disappointing regimes under Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke. While the future looks very good, the immediate results are more up in the air. This is not the most talented Michigan team ever and it will take some time for adjustment to the new the schemes.

2014 Record: 5-7, 3-5
2014 Bowl: None
Coach: Jim Harbaugh (0-0 at Michigan, 58-27 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tim Drevno
Defensive Coordinator: D.J. Durkin

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: De’Veon Smith, RB, 519 yards
Passing: Shane Morris, QB, 128 yards
Receiving: Amara Darboh, WR, 473 yards
Tackles: Joe Bolden, LB, 102
Sacks: Taco Charlton, DE, 3.5; Mario Ojemudia
Interceptions: Jourdan Lewis, CB, 2

Other Key Returnees: RB Derrick Green, RB Drake Johnson, TE Jake Butt, WR Dennis Norfleet, CB Blake Countess, S Jarrod Wilson

Key Losses: WR Devin Funchess, K Matt Wile, LB Jake Ryan, DE Brennen Beyer, DE Frank Clark, DB Raymon Taylor, P Will Hagerup

Much of last season’s success, which wasn’t much success at all, was because of the defense. The unit ranked seventh in the country in total defense, allowing a mere 311.1 yards per game. And most of that talent is back, but that doesn’t include playmakers like linebacker Jake Ryan and defensive end Frank Clark. The front four still has experience though. The two deep is littered with upperclassmen and players like Mario Ojemudia and Taco Charlton should be able to get into the backfield. And the linebackers are solid too even without Ryan. Joe Bolden tallied 102 tackles in 2014 and the return of Desmond Morgan, who missed most of last year with an injury, should turn this into a very dangerous defense. The secondary has experience too, most notably in cornerbacks Blake Countess and Jourdan Lewis. The biggest expectations are on free safety Jabril Peppers. He barely played as a true freshman last year due to injury, but had a great spring and is ready to live up to his hype and potential.

Michigan’s offense was horrible in 2014. They ranked dead last in the Big Ten in total offense and weren’t much better than that in every other major offensive category. Turnovers were plentiful and first downs were extremely difficult to come by. The team threw just ten touchdown passes, compared to 18 interceptions. Shane Morris accounted for three of those interceptions and he is in the battle to replace Devin Gardner under center. Morris, a 6-3 junior, completed just 14 of his 40 pass attempts a year ago. Morris has been competing with redshirt freshman Wilton Speight for the starting job, but Iowa graduate transfer Jake Rudock will be in the mix in the fall. Rudock is by far the most experienced quarterback on the roster. Rudock and company do have some talent at wide receiver, but Devin Funchess is gone after leading the team in receptions in 2014. Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson and Freddy Canteen have the potential to turn into go-to-receivers. Also, the cupboard is far from bare at running back with the return De’Veon Smith and Derrick Green. Smith led the team with 519 yards rushing as a sophomore and Green returns from an injury that shortened his season.  In addition, USC transfer Ty Isaac is now eligible.

The Bottom Line:
This could be a very impressive debut for Coach Harbaugh at Michigan. The schedule shakes out pretty nicely since the Wolverines get both Michigan State and Ohio State at home. The toughest conference road game could be at Minnesota and even that is winnable for this Michigan team. There is no reason for the defense to take a major step back and the offense really cannot get any worse. As long as quarterback efficiency and turnovers are not a huge problem, Michigan will win seven or eight games. If they get much more than that, the expectations for Coach Harbaugh and his Wolverines will be extremely high heading into 2016.

Projected Bowl: Quick Lane Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 162.8 (62nd in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 170.2 (110, 11)
Total Offense: 333.0 (112, 14)
Scoring Offense: 20.9 (109, 13)
Rushing Defense: 117.7 (15, 3)
Pass Defense: 193.7 (19, 5)
Total Defense: 311.1 (7, 3)
Scoring Defense: 22.4 (27, 5)
Turnover Margin: -1.33 (121, 14)
Sacks: 2.42 (42, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 2.17 (76, 9)

Madness 2016 NFL Draft Rankings:
#63 Wayne Lyons

Madness 2015 Recruit Rankings:
#89 Brian Cole
#159 Zach Gentry


See All College Sports Madness Top 104 Football Previews